"Still, back to our original problem – What do we do with Dumbledore?" asked Harry.
"Well," said Luna. "You were planning on interrogating whoever we knocked out, so I think we should do just that."
"Yes...B–B–But how? I mean, if it was just an ordinary Death Eater, we could have tried intimidation, or even roughed them up a bit, but it's Dumbledore. He's not going to be intimidated by me," said Harry. He put his head in his hands and thought furiously.
"I thought the contract you made him sign made sure he couldn't lie to you," said Luna.
"Yeah, but you know there are ways around that. A clever enough person can always twist their words around enough so that while they are technically telling the truth they're actually telling you something totally misleading. For example, you could ask me my name and if I answer something like 'You can call me Albert,' that's not technically a lie since I didn't say that my name is Albert, only that you can call me that and there's absolutely nothing stopping you from calling me Albert," explained Harry.
"And we know that Dumbledore is more than clever enough to twist his words around into a pretzel," said Luna. "What about Legilimency?" she asked.
"It didn't work last time but... Hmmm, I wonder...," said Harry. "No harm in giving it another go, I guess."
He and Luna walked back into the kitchen and with a wave of his wand he levitated Dumbledore up from the floor and into a chair. He then lifted up Dumbledore head and pried one of Dumbledore's eyes open and said "Legilimens."
Luna looked on in interest as Harry stared into Dumbledore's eye. After about two to three minutes of this Harry broke off and dropped Dumbledore's head, letting the headmaster's eyes close on their own.
"No go," said Harry as he sank into a chair. "I knew he's a master Occlumens but I'd hoped that I could still get in since he's unconscious but... even when he's knocked out, I can't get through his shields."
"So what do we do then?" asked Luna.
"I don't... Well... What we need... What we need is some Veritaserum and... But where can we get some... Hermione... That's what we need to do. We'll have to portkey over to Australia and get some from Hermione. She probably has some. I hope..." said Harry.
"Isn't there anyone closer," asked Luna. "It seems like an awful long way to go just to pick up some potions."
"It's a restricted potion here in the States. You can't buy it anywhere and brewing it takes longer than... at least a month, doesn't it?" asked Harry.
"One lunar cycle," confirmed Luna. "But do we even know if she has any? Yes, she works in potions research but Veritaserum is probably restricted in Australia as well and unless she or her company is the supplier for the licensed users then she's not likely to have any."
"Yes, yes. But she's still our best bet and we don't have time to send her an owl, it'll be much quicker to just go there and ask her. We can get a portkey from our usual travel agent and be there in less than an hour," said Harry.
"Okay, so shall we go then?" asked Luna.
"Yes, but... One of us has to stay here and I'm sure as shit not leaving you alone with Dumbledore so..."
Luna sighed, "Fine," she grumbled. "I'll go and check with her. Let me just go and get dressed first." Luna paused and said, "You know, it's a good thing we don't have to go through customs or I'd be like one of those poor girls whose boyfriend convinces them to carry drugs for them."
"Ha-Ha, yes, very funny. Now go and be a good little drug mule," said Harry.
Harry paced impatiently in front of a thoroughly trussed up Dumbledore who was still slumped unconscious on a chair in the kitchen. His eyes kept wandering back to the clock, unable to stop himself from checking the time again and again. What could be taking Luna so long, he wondered not for the first time? Objectively speaking it had not been that long, just a few hours, but to Harry every second was dragging immeasurably.
Finally, he heard a loud pop from the living room – The unmistakable pop of an incoming apparation. He immediately rushed there and to his surprise found not only Luna but Hermione as well.
"What are you doing here?" he cried.
"I decided to come and see what you're up to," said Hermione. "I can't very well let you have unsupervised access to Veritaserum. I do have a professional obligation to see that my potions aren't misused after all."
"Oh, so you had the Veritaserum then" said a stunned Harry who had certainly not expected Hermione to drop everything and catch an international portkey.
"Of course, my company is the official supplier for Australian Magical Law Enforcement. I'll have to fudge the accounting of course. Record it as a spillage or something, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem," said Hermione.
"Well, I assume Luna filled you in on the details," said Harry.
"Yes, although at first I was sure it was one of her little jokes. It's hard to believe that Dumbledore would... But on the other hand, it's not like we really know the man all that well," said Hermione.
"And you're in a dress..." said Harry, realising a little late but his mind was only then registering that Hermione was dressed up to the nines in a stunning little black dress that showed off her legs splendidly.
"I was on my way to a party when Luna showed up," explained Hermione. "You're lucky she caught me in time."
"Oh, I'm so sorry..." started Harry, only to be interrupted by Hermione.
"Oh no, this is far more interesting than some boring party," said Hermione. "It's almost like we're back in school, getting up to one of our adventures."
"Yeah," said Harry, laughing a bit. "Only now, you get to brew the potions we need in a proper lab instead of a bathroom. Hey, remember the time you set fire to Snape?"
"Or the time we knocked him out in the Shrieking Shack?" asked Hermione.
"So, shall we get started?" asked Luna a bit impatiently. She herself had hardly any good memories of Hogwarts and did not feel the need to reminisce about her time there. "Dumbledore still in the kitchen?"
"Yes," said Harry before leading the two girls to the kitchen.
The two girls took one step inside the door and came to a screeching halt at the sight of Dumbledore.
"Is that Dumbledore? What... What did you do to him?" asked Luna in a bemused voice.
Harry shrugged, "Just being careful, I read this book once where they had these army guys called... Sardines? Something like that... Anyway, one of the scenes had them captured by their enemies but they managed to escape because they had knives hidden on them. Anyway, one of the characters mentions that they usually also have spools of some sort of razor wire hidden in their hair. Fine enough that you can't detect it but strong enough to cut someones head off. So..."
"So you shaved off all his hair?" asked an aghast Hermione staring at Dumbledore from whose head every single facial hair had been removed. Every single one, including eyebrows and eyelashes. He was as bald as an egg and almost totally unrecognisable. Harry had also swapped out Dumbledore's usually flamboyant robes for a white bathrobe which only added to the surrealism of the situation. Neither of the two girls had ever seen Dumbledore in anything but the most garish of robes and for him to be sitting there in a white bathrobe was disconcerting enough but to have him shaved bald on top of that...
"Had to," said Harry with another shrug. "And I may have to get Luna to obliviate me of the memory later on. I had to get every single hair on his body, you understand, and that's not really a memory I want to keep," he said with a shudder.
"Eww," said Luna. "I wouldn't want to have that memory either." She stared at Dumbledore with a disgruntled expression on her face – "You're going to have to buy me a new bathrobe as well."
"Sardaukar, that's who you meant," said Hermione with a snap of her fingers. "The Sardaukar from the Dune series. But... Oh god, Harry, that's way overkill you know. I really doubt that Dumbledore or anyone really would be hiding razors or anything else in their hair."
Harry smirked a bit at that, only to sigh as Hermione noticed his expression and sent an inquiring glance his way.
"What?" asked Hermione. "I know that smirk means something."
"Okay," sighed Harry, he was a bit reluctant to reveal one of his secrets but at the same time, part of him wanted to show off to Hermione. "That book, Dune, well it inspired me to do something similar. Here, have a look at my hand," said Harry as he thrust his right hand in front of Hermione.
"I don't see anything," said Hermione, peering at Harry's hand closely, turning it this way and that.
"You're not supposed to see anything, that's the whole point, but one of those little hairs on my knuckles — Not a real hair, it's stuck on with a sticking charm!" said Harry.
"My wand was stolen once remember, at the Quidditch world cup. So for a while now, I keep a spare wand hidden. So if I'm ever in that type of situation all I need to do is..."
Harry ran his thumb over his knuckle and suddenly there was a wand, rolling off his fingers and smacking into the palm of his hand. "Course, you need to be able to do a wand-less finite to manage this. That took more than six months of practice before I could do it reliably," he said, with a pleased grin at Hermione's gobsmacked expression.
"A transfigured spare wand hidden in plain sight," breathed Hermione in awe. "But... transfiguring a wand? I didn't even know you could do that."
"It's not impossible just... well, most people only have the one wand so it's not something that you can easily practice and on top of that you know how sentimental people get about their wands," explained Harry.
Hermione had a grimace on her face.
"What?" asked Harry.
"Sorry, I was just thinking about what a great idea that is but — I'd hate to have hairy knuckles," said Hermione a little sheepishly.
"Ha... Right! Anyway, I've obviously stripped him of his wand, his clothes and any other items he had on him like this gaudy old ring he had on. Can't take the chance of him having any enchanted objects, after all. But... Your parents were Dentists, right? Do you happen to know anything about teeth? I had a look at his but a second opinion wouldn't hurt," said Harry.
"Teeth?" queried a confused Hermione.
"You know? The old potion in a false tooth trick. Could you check his teeth? Make sure that none of them are fake. I would have just removed them all but then it would probably be too hard to understand what he's saying," explained Harry.
Hermione's palm covered her face. "Harry... This is Professor Dumbledore, not bloody James Bond. He's not going to have a fake tooth filled with poison."
"No, Bond used to flush his suicide pills but come on, it's still one of the oldest tricks in the book and in any case, I wasn't thinking about poison. I was worried he might have a fake tooth filled with an antidote to Veritaserum," said Harry.
Hermione sighed and moved over to Dumbledore. She pried his mouth open and cast a light spell inside his mouth, followed by a couple of medical diagnostic charms that returned results similar to a muggle x-ray.
"All right, as far as I can tell they're all real," stated Hermione. "And they're in astonishingly good condition considering what we heard about him and his lemon drop addiction back when we were in school."
"Okay, then let's get started. Are you done, Luna?" asked Harry to Luna who was busy peering into Dumbledore's mouth and performing her own check.
"Yes," said Luna in a satisfied tone. "There's nothing out of the ordinary in his mouth."
"Okay, then could I have the Veritaserum?" asked Harry, putting out his hand towards Hermione. "The dosage is three drops, right?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Wait, a minute," she said. She turned towards Dumbledore again and waved her wand, casting more diagnostic charms.
"Okay," she said. "His weight is 96.4 Kilos so the recommended dosage would be... One hundred and sixty milligrams," she stated after a moment of silent calculation.
"Milligrams not drops?" asked a confused Harry.
"Drops are hardly a precise measure, Harry and only an incompetent Potion's Master would ever measure out a dosage of a potion like Veritaserum in drops. After all, liquids contract and expand according to the temperature and unless you make sure your potions are at a fixed temperature which you should really do anyway..."
"Cut to the chase, please Hermione. How do I measure out a hundred and sixty milligrams? All I have is a kitchen scale which isn't precise enough," interrupted Harry.
"You use an enchanted dropper of course. Droppers like that come standard these days with vials made for potent potions like Veritaserum," said Hermione as she pulled out a little potions vial from within her purse. She unscrewed the top to pull out a dropper and then very clearly and deliberately enunciated — "One hundred and sixty," before dipping the tip of the dropper back into the vial. The dropper sucked up exactly that amount into itself.
"Thank you," said Harry as he took the little dropper from her and turned to Dumbledore. Just as he was about to drop the Veritaserum into Dumbledore's mouth he hesitated and turned to the two girls.
"You know, I don't even know if this is going to work. He is an occlumens and that's supposed to be a defense against veritaserum, right?" asked Harry.
"Sure," shrugged Hermione. "Occlumency might help you against regular veritaserum. That, there, what you're holding is MY veritaserum. It's a bit more potent than the usual; I've had it tested against the best occlumens. It passed with flying colours. Not one person was able to resist."
"Oh… that's okay then, great in fact," said Harry turning back towards Dumbledore. He stopped again and looked back at the two women. Blonde and brunette — One was the love of his life and the other, despite the fact that they had lost contact for years, was perhaps his oldest and still best friend in the world.
"This is probably... scratch that, I know that it's highly illegal. So maybe, it's better if the two of you aren't here for this," he said.
Hermione turned to Luna with an exasperated look — "How on earth do you get through the day without smacking him when he says something stupid like that?"
"It can be hard at times but then I remind myself of the benefits of keeping him around. After all, he's very talented in the bedroom," said Luna.
Harry's face turned crimson. Luna still had the knack of saying... There really was no need to talk about THAT in front of other people. Still, at least she was praising his skills and...
"… Perfect, I mean, absolutely perfect hospital corners and you can literally bounce a quarter off the sheets," continued Luna.
...And of course that's what she finds irresistible, thought Harry. Never mind then...
Hermione gave a little giggle at the look on Harry's face, "Well… ha ha... since I don't have that option," she turned to Harry and gave him a light slap on the arm. "Enough with the stupid statements."
"Okay, okay," said Harry. Women, he grumbled to himself, why on earth did they always gang up on you? He turned to Dumbledore, tilted Dumbledore's head back and dripped the potion into his mouth. He waited a moment, just to make sure that the potion had time to take effect and then cast an enervate spell on Dumbledore to wake him up.
Dumbledore's eyes opened slowly and he looked blearily at Harry. His eyes which usually twinkled brightly were glassy and unfocused. Clearly, the potion had done its work. Hermione bent her head down and peered into his eyes.
"What is your name?" asked Hermione.
"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore," answered Dumbledore in a monotone.
"The potion's taken effect," said Hermione. "Ask your questions, Harry."
"Err… Yes," said Harry deciding to start with the obvious question. "Why were you hiding outside my house, Dumbledore? Why did you come here?"
"I came here to kill you," said Dumbledore bluntly.
Harry's mind reeled. Even though he had been expecting something like this, ever since he saw him passed out on the kitchen floor, it was still a shock to hear Dumbledore say that. Yes, he had been wary of crossing the man when he had seen the list of Death Eaters the man had dealt with but still, he had never really thought that Dumbledore would ever really contemplate harming him let alone wanting to kill him. The man had been nothing but affable when he had been trying to get him to fight Voldemort. Why? Why would he want to kill him just because Voldemort was dead?
Harry saw something out of the corner of his eye and he spun around swiftly and shoved Luna's wand arm up just in time. A brilliant scarlet curse shot out of her wand and blasted a hole in the ceiling showering plaster dust down upon them.
"Damn it, Luna. Calm down. We still need to ask him why?" he yelled. He turned and yelled at Hermione who was also pulling out her wand and pointing it towards Dumbledore — "And don't you start as well," he cried.
Hermione lowered her wand reluctantly. She looked absolutely, terribly, horribly, incandescently furious. "T-T-The bast… He—He admitted it. He really wanted to kill you," she yelled.
"Yes, I know," said Harry far more calmly than he was feeling.
"I—I—I, I just feel so bloody stupid and naive," said Hermione. "I went along with it only because.. I was so sure that this was all one big misunderstanding. That you were being paranoid and… I didn't really believe that he... I mean I thought that we'd dose him and find out that he just had some stupid but benign reason to be here then we'd all have a big laugh about it or something...I just... I just don't understand why..."
Harry grabbed a hold of Hermione and gently pulled her and Luna into the living room where he led them to the couch and made them sit.
"I think the two of you should wait here for a bit. I'm sorry but you're getting too emotional and I need to keep calm and... Look, just sit and... I need to finish of the interrogation and I... Look, just sit here and keep calm okay. I won't be long," said Harry as he strode back to the kitchen, locking the door behind him.
Hermione and Luna waited impatiently for Harry to finish interrogating Dumbledore. It was a long wait. More than an hour. An hour that dragged by interminably for the two women. Finally the door opened and Harry walked back into the room where the two immediately pounced on him with questions.
Harry held up a hand and waited for the two women to fall silent.
'Okay. Okay. Let me just... Hermione, Luna already knows this but... The thing is Voldemort made these things called Horcruxes which are a particularly foul piece of dark magic in which someone uses a murder and a ritual to rip off a part of their soul and store it inside an object. As long as these horcruxes existed Voldemort couldn't be killed. Well, not 'killed' killed if you know what I mean. Obviously, his body was destroyed once before back when he attacked me when I was a baby but the horcruxes are what allowed him to come back. So as long as these horcruxes existed Voldemort couldn't be finished off for good," explained Harry.
"But what does that have to do with you?" asked Luna. "Why did he come here to kill you?"
Harry sighed — "Dumbledore believes, rather wrongly, I might add, that I am a horcrux. According to him, well, remember how I'd occasionally get dreams about what Voldemort was up to. I think I told you about the one I had around the time of the Quidditch world cup. Well, that and other stuff like the parseltongue and my how my scar used to hurt whenever Voldemort was around seems to be enough evidence for him that I'm a horcrux."
"But he's wrong, right? Tell me he's wrong," demanded Hermione.
"I already did, didn't I?" said Harry. "I'm no more a horcrux than you are. There WAS something in my scar, emphasis on the past tense. Some sort of possession I think they called it but I had it cleared off oh... more than ten years ago now. I've not had a bit of problem with my scar or any dreams ever since then."
"Cleared off? How?" asked Luna.
"Oh right, you don't know about it since I don't think it ever came up. I thought it wasn't really worth mentioning and besides I had mostly forgotten about it myself. This was some time before I met you and I'd gone to see a doctor over at the magical wing of Cedars Sinai for a routine checkup. His scans showed something and he called in a specialist who did some sort of... procedure, I guess would be a good word. Didn't even take him half an hour, as I recall," said Harry.
Both the girls gave simultaneous sighs of relief. "That's good then," said Hermione. "So all we need to do is explain that to Dumbledore and..."
"Didn't work," said Harry. "I already tried that. I explained all that to him and he doesn't believe me. According to him there's no way to stop someone from being a horcrux and the only way is for the horcrux to be destroyed. He refuses to change his mind even when I had Dobby fetch the medical reports and show them to him. He just kept saying I just had to die for the bloody Greater Good."
"B—But he has to be made to see reason," cried Hermione.
"It's too much of a risk. Remember he clearly stated under veritaserum that he knows that the only solution is to kill me. So even if we go all out to persuade him and he seems to agree, how do we know he's not just pretending to lull us into a false state of security until he can finish the job? Even if we get him to say that under veritaserum, what's to stop him from changing his mind later?" asked Harry.
"So… So what do we do?" asked Luna.
"I don't know… I haven't decided yet. I just know… The safest option is off the table. I know that much," said Harry.
"What's the safest option?" asked a puzzled Hermione.
"Killing Dumbledore, of course," said Luna in a rather matter-of-fact way.
"Yes, I know that's probably the safest way of dealing with this situation but no matter what we planned on doing to Voldemort and ignoring the Quirrell thing for the moment, I'm not a murderer and I will not allow Dumbledore to turn me into one," said Harry.
"The Quirrell thing? You mean his death?" asked Hermione. "Harry… That… That's not really… Bloody hell, he was trying to kill you and he was dying from Voldemort's possession anyway. You didn't kill him!"
"Sure felt like it at the time," said Harry. "But anyway, no matter how Quirrell died… While a case might be made for the fact that I killed him, I… This would be different. This would be in cold blood. Premeditated. This would be murder and I'm not doing it. Even though we planned on killing Voldemort, this is Dumbledore and while he's also planning on killing me..."
"Of course you're not killing him, Harry," interrupted Luna. "So… What if we get him to sign another magical contract? No… Sorry… Bad idea! He'd find a loophole somehow and we might not be lucky enough to see him coming next time."
"Then... Obliviation of course. We just erase all information about you from his brain and with the fidelius in place he shouldn't be able to find you again," said Hermione.
Harry smiled wryly, "Unfortunately, I made the mistake of threatening him with obliviation once before. He admitted under veritaserum that he's backed up his memories in pensieves. All he has to do is pop those back in his brain and we're right back where we started."
"Maybe if we get him to tell us where they're kept we could steal them before we let him go and..." said Luna.
Harry's eyebrows rose, "Steal them! That would mean breaking into Hogwarts and... Bloody hell, it's been the centre of resistance against Voldemort. Security has to be ridiculously tight. Dumbledore said he put Moody in charge of it and if the fake Moody was anything like the real one... I think not," said Harry.
"Turn him over to the American Aurors then. What do they call themselves? The FBMI? Tell them to arrest him for attempted murder," asked Hermione.
Harry frowned, "Again, I don't think that would work. Dumbledores bound to have contacts within the American government from his days at the ICW. And since he's just single-handedly liberated England from Voldemort and the Death Eaters... Who the hell is going to believe him over us? Even if we get him to admit wanting to kill me in front of the FBMI, imagine if he convinces them that I'm a horcrux. I could have a lynch mob at my door."
"Can't we redo the Fidelius? Won't that solve our problem?" asked Luna.
"We'll have to break the current Fidelius before we can recast it. It's doable but the problem is it takes time and the last time the fidelius broke we had Dumbledore turn up almost immediately. Suppose someone else turns up this time. Somebody that Dumbledore missed in his purge of the Death Eaters. It's far too risky," explained Harry.
The three of them just sat there for a few moments as they tried to come up with a solution to their problem. Finally, Harry spoke - "I think I have an idea." he said.
Seventeen Months Later.
Mrs Crawley, the Chief Administrator at the Shady Acres Nursing Home and Retirement Community was not a particularly vain woman. Yet, she found herself compelled to freshen up her makeup before her appointment that day. She was scheduled to meet with a young man who was a relative of one of their guests, a Mr. LeDore. There was just something about the young man that... suffice it to say, she doubted that she was the only woman at Shady Acres who would be freshening her makeup that day.
She had settled back in her chair when her intercom buzzed to let her know that the young man had arrived. She looked at the clock and smiled, right on time, she thought. She did so appreciate punctuality.
She got up to greet her visitor with a brilliant smile lighting up her face -"Mr. Dobbins," she cried. "How nice to see you. It's been quite some time since we you last visited."
"My dear Mrs Crawley," said the young man in his absolutely lovely panty-dropping accent, "How many times must I insist that you call me Jim?"
"Oh one more time should do it," giggled Mrs Crawley as she ushered Jim into a seat.
"And how has your dear wife been? We haven't seen her in quite a while," she asked.
"Oh fine, fine. Splendid in fact. She and I haven't been around as much since, well, she's expecting you know. Twins. Boys they tell me," said a beaming Jim Dobbins.
"Oh how absolutely lovely. The two of you must be so excited," said Mrs Crawley.
"Yes," beamed Jim. "It's not all sunshine and roses of course. She wants to name them Lorcan and Lysander which is a bit… I just think they'll get bullied horribly with names like that but she just loves those names. Still, I'm hoping to persuade her to choose something a bit more normal before her due date."
Mrs Crawley could not help herself from laughing at that. "Oh dear," she cried. "Mrs Dobbins did always strike me as being a very original person. I'd suggest you go along with her and just come up with some good nicknames for the boys."
"Yes," laughed Jim for a few moments before sobering up. "I hate to change the subject to more serious matters but… How's Uncle Brian doing?"
"Oh he doing very well. He's a fascinating case of course. Quite unlike any patient we've seen before," said Mrs Crawley.
"Really? How so?" asked a worried Jim.
"Well, when you first admitted him he had been diagnosed with Alzheimers and of course his behaviour did support that diagnosis. The poor man had suffered such a degree of memory loss that he could barely work a light switch. In fact he didn't even seem to know what they were which of course was very worrying. Since then he's improved greatly?" said Mrs Crawley.
"Yes, in fact we don't even think it's Alzheimers anymore. While I'm sorry to say he still does not seem to remember anything of his earlier life — Mr. LeDore has still shown remarkable improvement. I know this must be very painful for you given that he does not remember you as well as you might wish but he's still showing quite excellent progress. His mental faculties seem to be quite sharp and he picks up things very quickly. In fact, he's become very popular with the other residents. Most of the ladies absolutely adore him and he's very much in demand for things like bridge and other card games," said Mrs Crawley.
"That's good to know," said Jim. "But you're certain that he doesn't remember anything about his earlier life? No improvement on that end at all?"
Mrs Crawley shook her head sadly. She thought about how absolutely heartbreaking it must be for the young man, for him to have a relative he so obviously cared deeply about in such a state. For that relative to not remember him… How horrible it must be.
"Shall I take you to see him now?" she asked. "He should be in the recreation room at this time."
"Actually, I'd rather just drop off the bird in his rooms. Set up the perch and so on," said Jim.
"Aaah yes, your uncle's pet. Did you get it with you then?"
"Yes, I left it with your secretary and before I forget, thank you so much for allowing him to have it," said Jim.
"Oh it's no problem at all, we find pets to be very beneficial to our residents morale most of the time. As long as they're relatively low maintenance of course," said Mrs Crawley.
"Oh, don't worry about that at all, as I explained to you on the phone, Fawkes is very well trained, I'll just pop out and get him so that I can introduce you to him," said Jim as he got up and left the room. He was back in a moment with a bird perched upon his hand.
"This is Fawkes," said Jim.
"Oh my!" exclaimed Mrs Crawley. "He's absolutely magnificent. What is he? Some sort of cockatoo?"
Jim smiled ruefully. "Well, I'm no ornithologist but I believe he is some sort of breed closely related to a cockatoo. Uncle Brian could probably have rattled of his exact scientific name but now…"
"Yes…" agreed Mrs Crawley, thinking of some way to cheer the man up. "Well, I'm sure he'll love to have him even if he can't remember having him before."
"I'm doing this for Fawkes just as much. He's been absolutely miserable ever since we had Uncle Brian admitted… He's just been missing him I guess," said Jim.
"Anyway, like I explained to you over the phone — He should be very easy to take care of. He doesn't even need a cage or anything as he was very well trained by my uncle. I've arranged for regular shipments of bird food and I've gotten the instructions for his care typed up so Uncle Brian can just read those and…"
"I'm sure he'll manage just fine and of course I'll get the orderlies to check up on him from time to time as well. Are... Are you certain that you wouldn't want to see your uncle? I mean you've come all this way and it just seems like such a shame…"
"Quite sure," said Jim firmly. "It's just too… You know... With him not recognising me... I hope you understand."
"Of course I do, my dear. Of course I do," said Mrs Crawley emotionally. The poor boy cared so much for his uncle… It must be so painful for him, she thought. She could hardly blame the poor man for wanting to avoid a painful situation.
Harry entered the room assigned to his 'Uncle Brian'. He felt a bit guilty about the way he had brushed off Mrs Crawley offers to accompany him but it was best that he dropped Fawkes off on his own.
He set up the perch in a corner of the room next to the window and set out the bird seed and other food items that Fawkes liked.
"Well, I hope you're happy," he barked at the phoenix.
"You're here and Dumbledore will be along in a while and I'd better not see you around my house ever again and if you ever try to set fire to my car again I'm going to forget about the time you helped me out with the basilisk and I will bloody take…" he broke off with a growl.
Damn that damn bird. The bloody phoenix had been stalking him for months. Every time he had left the house the damn bird had been waiting. Appearing in sudden flashes of fire. Dive bombing him and crapping on his car. If it hadn't saved his life he would have...
"You know the drill, I hope. You don't have to worry about the muggles. They won't notice anything about you even if you burst into flames right in front of them. Neither will Dumbledore for that matter. He'll just think you're a really pretty parrot or a cockatoo or a frigging rooster for all I care. The wards have been adjusted. You can come and go as you please but if you try and use that flame travel thing of yours to take Dumbledore away you'll be bloody sorry. I've set the wards so that you can't carry anyone through them, in any direction, so don't think you can get someone here to see Dumbledore either. Anyone you try carrying through the wards… they'll be in a really bad state. Obliviated to hell and back and god know how many bones they'll break once the wards bounce them back, just so you know," said Harry as he glared at the phoenix.
The phoenix didn't react much. It just seemed to glare right back at him although it did have an air of smug satisfaction about it.
Harry left the phoenix in the room. Mrs Crawley would take care of reintroducing him to Dumbledore and then the two old farts, Dumbledore and Fawkes could enjoy living together in the retirement home. He hoped they would get thoroughly sick of each other.
A/N: Thanks to all of the readers who've stayed with the story till the end. I do hope you've enjoyed it. I'd especially like to thank all of the people who took the time to post a review.
Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling but I'd like to dedicate this story to the late Terry Pratchett. His books have been an endless source of entertainment and inspiration.