Disclaimer: I own nothing. Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. Blah blah blah. should just put a blanket disclaimer on the site for all the idiots that could possibly believe we actually own these stories or make any kind of a profit.

A/N: I wrote this ages ago as I prologue to a potential Harry Potter story. Have a vague idea of what I want to do with it, but like most things I never got around to writing anymore. Maybe if I get some interest I might write more. Could do with some motivation these days because I'm really struggling with my other stories.

Loneliness

There was a silence in the Headmaster of Hogwart's Office. The half-life portraits on the walls were silent. Fawkes the Phoenix was silent. Two figures stood across from each other, both of them silent. This was a silence borne on the wings of bad news. The taller, older figure - the Headmaster - held a crumpled note in his fist. The smaller figure, a woman old, but sturdy, looked as if she had been told her family had been burned alive. That was close to the truth, in fact, because a family had been burned alive. It just was not hers.

Finally, the old woman broke the silence.

'It can't be true Albus,' she said, heartbroken.

Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, gave a wearied sigh and let the piece of paper fall from his grasp. It landed, crumpled, on his desk. 'It is true, Minerva,' he said. There was a pause – more silence. 'Harry Potter set fire to his Aunt and Uncles house last night. The fire was unstoppable. The Muggle firefighters tried to stop the blaze, but they knew not what they truly dealt with. There were no survivors, save for young Harry himself. He alone remained unharmed. The Muggles found him wandering the blackened ruins.'

'Why would he do such a thing?' Minerva McGonagall couldn't keep the horror from her voice.

Dumbledore turned from her gaze guiltily.

'Albus?' Minerva asked curiously.

Dumbledore embraced the silence, unwilling to break it.

'Why don't you tell her,' one of the portraits said snidely, 'tell her what you did Dumbledore.'

Albus Dumbledore turned to face the portrait with a terrifying fury. 'Be silent Phineas!'

The portrait of Phineas Nigellus was unfazed by Dumbledore's anger. He gave the current Headmaster of Hogwarts a smug look, knowing his words would force Dumbledore's hand.

'Albus?' Minerva's voice cut through the tense stare down between Headmaster and portrait. 'What did you do?'

Dumbledore lowered his head, ashamed. 'Nothing,' he said quietly. 'I did nothing.'

Minerva McGonagall furrowed her brow. 'I'm not sure I understand…'

'I did nothing, Minerva.' When she went to open her mouth to query further, Dumbledore spoke again. 'I sat by and did nothing. I watched as Harry was abused by his family.'

McGonagall stared in shock.

'I could have stopped it, but I didn't. I feared to break the protective magic Lily blessed us with, and so consigned the boy to a childhood of neglect and abuse. Now it's too late.'

'Then it was forced,' McGonagall said after much thought. 'Harry was pushed to protect himself?'

'No. It was not self-defence. Not directly. Harry dreamt of burning his family, and so his magic made it a reality. He woke to the carnage his dreams had wrought.'

Minerva shuddered at the thought. 'What has happened to the boy?'

'The Muggles have taken him. What they will do, I know not.'

'And what will we do?'

Dumbledore was silent one last time. This silence stretched on and on. It was a silence of inaction rather than of reality. Dumbledore was silent for close to four years. Then, once Harry turned eleven, the silence was broken.