Standard Disclaimer:

Alyx walked onto the stage and smiled at the audience. The audience, enmass, breathed a sigh of relief to note she was llama free.

"Hello and welcome to the beginning of a story multi-chaptered story arc. This is going to be a different type of story from our usual fare and we hope you enjoy it. As usual, we make no claim to any rights for Harry Potter or that person that did such an awful job on the last two books. She owns the rights and the blame."

Alyx paused and waited expectantly, but nothing happened. Getting nervous at the sea of unfriendly faces calmly eating donuts meant for Bob, she started to hum, badly and off key.

The silence went on for another few minutes, then Bob walked onto the stage. He glared at the audience for eating his donuts and frowned at Alyx.

"Have you said the words?" he asked.

"Yes, but nothing happened!" she protested.

Bob scowled. "The story should have started then. Are you sure you plugged it in?"

Alyx looked at him in confusion.

Bob sighed and walked over to a wall outlet and plugged the story in. "Take away her Llama and look what happens," he muttered. "And to think I bought her an Emu to replace the llama."

The stage lights dimmed and Bob hurried to his seat. From the stage he could hear Alyx shrieking. She found her Emu!

The Power of the Press

Hogwarts Great Hall, October 1994...

Harry sat silently, watching the proceedings. He had been waiting for this moment since the start of term. Sirius and Remus had warned him about it and he hoped he was prepared. Sirius had come to him during the summer and had revealed some disturbing truths.

He saw the forth piece of paper shoot out of the goblet and he hung his head. Sirius and Remus had been right after all. In a flash of flames, his hopes and dreams faded to a reality that he hadn't wanted to face.

It had all begun just two weeks into the summer holiday.

Harry leafed through the parchments for a second time and his hands trembled with the magnitude of what he had just learned. He looked up at Sirius with haunted eyes. "So, what do I do now, Sirius? You're still wanted by the Ministry and Remus can't take me. Even if he could, it's plain that the old man won't allow it."

He had met Sirius and Remus in the park near Privet Drive and were now seated on a bench.

He held several items in his hands. The first was his parents will, which included a copy of the prophecy, and surprisingly, a transcript of a conversation between Dumbledore and Snape. In the transcript, Dumbledore instructed Snape to be even harder on Harry in the coming year.

Dumbledore then went on to explain about the tournament and how he hoped to arrange for Harry to participate in it, despite the Ministry's age requirements.

Sirius leaned in a little closer. "Harry, before I go any further ,I need to know if you trust me."

Harry nodded. Sirius was the closet thing he had to a father and Harry had already defied the Ministry in rescuing him from a dementor's kiss. At this point, Harry was desperate. The old man had played him for a fool and he had believed it.

"Yes, I trust you. But how did you get this transcript? How do you know it's real?" Harry asked. He had to make sure, he had to know.

"Ah, that was my doing," Remus admitted. "I left the recording parchment in a book I borrowed from Albus. When I returned it, I forgot it was there. As you can see, it kept recording."

Sirius grinned. He sat on the bench next to Harry and placed an arm around his shoulders. He had a strange gleam in his eyes. "I have a plan," he said grandly.

Remus shook his head. "Brace yourself. The last time he had a plan, he paid a house elf to place a repeating mirror in the seventh year girls bathroom. I thought your father was going to kill him when James caught him ogling Lily."

"Hey, I was more interested in Bethany," Sirius protested. "I can't help it if Lily was dressing in front of the mirror at the time."

Harry rolled his eyes and elbowed Sirius in the ribs. "Your plan?" he prompted.

Sirius leaned back, his expression smug. "You're going to love this, Harry. First, we're going to..."

Now back at Hogwarts, he found that everything he'd been warned about was coming true. He waited for the inevitable with a sinking heart.

Dumbledore plucked the floating piece of parchment out of the air and a hush fell over the Great Hall. Everyone knew something unusual was happening, but only a handful knew exactly what was going on. Dumbledore would have been shocked to know that his protegé was also in on the secret.

The Headmaster glanced down at the parchment fragment then looked up, his eyes seeking one particular person. A knot of anticipation formed in his belly. This was exactly what he had been hoping would happen. Everything was going according to plan!

"Harry Potter," he called.

A gasp ran through the crowd and Hermione pushed at Harry to stand up. He turned and shot her an angry look, but she was right, he couldn't sit here all day. She was his very best friend, but she could be awful pushy sometimes. He made a note to talk to her about it someday, but this wasn't the time. Today he would follow the plan no matter how much it hurt.

This was the moment he had been dreading and hoping would never come.

"Harry Potter," Dumbledore repeated, then he motioned towards the door that the other champions had vanished behind.

Ron scowled at Harry furiously and Hermione pushed him again.

He slowly rose to his feet, his expression filled with anger. He knew this moment had been coming. It was obvious since the end of last year that it was going to happen and he had spent the summer preparing for it.

"No," he said loudly from his place.

The Great Hall went deathly silent and Dumbledore stared at Harry in shock.

"I'm sorry?"

"I said, no. I did not enter my name in this contest. I refuse to compete," Harry stated flatly, his eyes flashing with anger.

Ludo Bagman stepped up to stand next to Dumbledore. "But you must! The contest is a binding magical contract."

Harry glanced at him, then turned his attention back at Dumbledore. He dismissed Bagman as unimportant. "Well?"

Dumbledore looked at him, surprised. He couldn't believe or understand why Harry was being so defiant. The boy must compete, especially after he had gone to all the trouble of weakening the wards on Moody's home in the hopes of someone taking his place.

"I'm afraid there is no choice in the matter," he said, as if he regretted the fact.

"For you perhaps, Headmaster," Harry replied softly, then he pulled out his wand and looked at it for a moment. "But there is always a choice. If I refuse to perform, the binding magic will strip me of my powers."

He looked around the hall at the sea of faces staring at him. Some were curious, most looked at him as if they didn't believe him.

He nodded to himself and slowly walked toward the podium where Dumbledore stood. All eyes followed him. Dumbledore, in particular, seemed uncertain, Harry's defiance had thrown him for a loop. The boy was supposed to be a pliable subject.

"So, you're going to insist I participate in this farce of yours?" he asked loudly, the contempt obvious in his voice.

Another gasp ran through the crowd. Snape sneered at him and McGonagall frowned at such obvious disrespect. Hermione's face paled. Harry had hinted to her that things were going to be different this year, but it was only now becoming clear what he meant.

Dumbledore smiled at him in a grandfatherly fashion. "I'm afraid you have no choice, my boy."

Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling madly and he attempted to find out what the boy was thinking. His probe, however, was soundly repelled, bouncing off rock solid shields. His inability to read Harry unsettled him. The boy had always been an open book. Who could have taught him to protect his mind? he wondered.

Harry smirked. He had detected Dumbledore's attempted legilimency attack and rebuffed it easily enough. He knew he couldn't withstand a determined attack, but Dumbledore would need his wand for that and he couldn't do that in front of so many witnesses. Dumbledore's actions were the final piece needed to convince Harry that Sirius and Remus were right about the man. Deep down, a part of him had hoped that Dumbledore actually cared for him.

Harry nodded to himself and turned to face the hall, his anger increasing with every passing second. "Most of you people are too stupid to understand what's happening, so I'll explain it to you," he said loudly. "This bastard," he said, pointing at Dumbledore, "is forcing me into a contest I didn't enter and don't want to compete in. He says I have no choice.

"Each year he sets up some sort of dilemma that endangers my life and the lives of others and each year I leap through his hoops like a good little boy. No longer."

Harry turned back to Dumbledore and glared at him. The Headmaster looked nervous, and Harry smiled coldly. "You're wrong about the contest. There is always a choice, even if it's not a good one. I am not your pawn, old man."

Harry held up his wand and, in a swift motion, he snapped it in two pieces.

A gasp ran through the hall.

"I will not compete. If it means the loss of my magic, then so mote it be!" he said in a ringing voice.

A strangled gasp came from the assembled audience. It was unthinkable to voluntarily give up your magic!

Harry's body glowed for a second. When it faded, he turned, smiled, and bowed to those in the hall before tossing the pieces of his wand over his shoulder and walking out. Behind him, the pieces of the wand burned to ash on the floor.

Dumbledore stood, dumbfounded. Then a blast from behind him threw him to the floor as the Goblet of Fire exploded. Everyone ducked for cover and many screamed.

Sirius was right! Harry thought in wonder. He was just outside the Great Hall and heading for the Entrance Hall when he heard the explosion. Remus is going to be pissed. Sirius will never let him live this down.

He walked from the Entrance Hall out into the deepening twilight of the Scottish autumn. He fished around in a pocket until he found the small rabbit's foot key chain Remus had given him.

"Marauder's Haven," he whispered.

Harry Potter vanished from the grounds of Hogwarts as the portkey activated.

Several chaotic minutes passed in the Great Hall as people got up and brushed off the dust. Dumbledore climbed to his feet in time to see a flock of owls winging into the hall. Two owls headed directly for him.

With trembling hands he opened the envelope from Gringotts. He sagged against the podium seeing it was a summons to appear before a Gringotts court of inquiry concerning the estate of Harry James Potter. The list of charges against him was long and surprisingly complete. By the time the Goblins were done, the house of Dumbledore would be penniless and indebted to the house of Potter for centuries.

"OH MY GOD!" shouted someone, brandishing a copy of the Daily Prophet.

Dumbledore looked up to see the hall dissolving into a panic. A number of students rushed to leave the hall, running for the Owlery. Several fights broke out and there were a number of people crying. Students were babbling wildly and showing each other copies of the Prophet. With a sinking heart, he unrolled the paper the second owl had delivered. There, in large print, ran the headline;

Potter's Prophecy Secret!

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies...

So claims a prophecy involving Harry Potter, age 14, and You-Know-Who. This boy, who saved us once, is all that stands between our world as we know it and total destruction. When consulted, experts on prophecy believe firmly that this prophecy proves that Harry didn't kill You-Know-Who back in 1981. No, they say that had that happened, the prophecy orb which is stored in the Hall of Prophecies would have turned black, which it hasn't. And that, says the experts, means that You-Know-Who will rise once more to face Harry Potter again.

According to Otis Stillwater, a renowned Ministry expert on prophecies, this means that You-Know-Who and Harry Potter are effectively equal in ability. The real difference lies in the fact that Harry Potter is a 14 year old boy, while He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is pushing seventy years of age and is a fully trained and merciless killer.

"Prophecies like this invoke what's called a magical singularity. That means that there is a fundamental connection between Harry Potter and You-Know-Who," said Stillwater. "The two are literally connected at the magical level. What that means is if You-Know-Who were to use a ritual to enhance his abilities, Potter's abilities would also receive the same enhancement. There is no way for the two to be unequal at the magic power level."

The Prophet has examined the level of course work that Mr. Potter has been receiving at Hogwarts and we think it is woefully inadequate, considering his dark future. When asked, Minister Fudge was quoted as saying that Albus Dumbledore was in charge of young Harry's education and it would not be right for him to step in and mess with that.

However ,we have to question that attitude. Our checking has shown Mr. Potter is not adequately cared for at home. He was placed, by Albus Dumbledore, with muggle relatives and when we spoke with neighbors of those relatives, they accused the Dursleys of being far less than loving towards their nephew. In fact, in his neighborhood, young Mr. Potter is considered a dangerous criminal who attends a school for the criminally insane. We attempted to speak directly to Mr. Vernon Dursley, but he refused to be interviewed. He was belligerent and rude to our reporter, who was forced to flee in fear of her life.

So why then is Harry Potter receiving only a normal magical education when he should be trained by the best our world has to offer? Why is Harry forced to live with people that despise his very existence? These are the questions this paper intends to find out the answers to. In the meantime, Minister Fudge, for the safety of our world, we urge that steps are taken to see Mr. Potter is properly cared for!

Dumbledore let the paper slip between his numb fingers. The cat was not only out of the bag, it peed on the floor and ripped up the curtains! And to make matters worse, all his plans had gone up in smoke with a sharp snap of a wand. Potter was gone and, even if found, he would be useless to everyone now.

He looked around, surprised by angry looks directed at him.

Harry's friends sat off to one side. Hermione and Ginny were both weeping, knowing that they had lost something very important. Ron looked stunned and unable to comprehend what had just happened. He shuddered at the looks the Weasley twins were giving him.

Dumbledore swept from the room, ignoring the looks and demands for explanations. There was only one place for him to go at a time like this; his office. It was his safe haven, his sanctuary and the one place he could consider what moves to make next.

Hogwarts (the Next Day)...

Dumbledore threw the paper down on his desk in disgust. He had holed up in his office, refusing to let anyone in. He needed time to consider his options. Harry was gone, powerless and of no use to anyone.

Somehow the Goblins had learned what he had done with the Potter Estate and were moving forward with a preliminary hearing. He had been caught by the goblins dipping into the Potter family vaults, removing money and priceless antiques. In a follow up letter they sent this morning, they provided a detailed list of items to be returned to the Potter Vaults immediately.

And if that wasn't enough, Gringotts was now performing a detailed audit of all thirty orphan accounts he had seized control of during his tenure as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. The goblins are not going to be lenient with me when the truth came out, he thought sourly. How did they find out in the first place?

Black and Lupin, he thought. Both of them went missing over the summer months. I wonder if they had anything to do with this fiasco. I wouldn't put it past Black, he mused.

He was safe for the moment, locked up in his impregnable office. The only way in was via the house elves who brought in food and, of course, the morning paper, which was currently the major source of his anger.

Boy Who Lived Loses Magic!

Dark Lord Powerless!

In a move that staggers the mind, Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, tried to force Harry Potter into participating in the famous Triwizard Tournament. This fabled and dangerous contest had been limited by the Ministry to those 17 years of age or older. Potter, age 14, somehow found his name being ejected by the legendary Goblet of Fire.

Witnesses said that Potter asked the Headmaster if he was going to insist on his participation and they say the Headmaster claimed there was nothing he could do. The drawing of a name from the Goblet of Fire invokes a binding magical contract with a magical loss as the penalty.

Ministry law experts differ on that opinion. Omar Nifflehopper, top Ministry legal expert on binding magical contracts, told the Prophet that Dumbledore and the other school heads could have declared the contest a draw and insisted on a new name drawing. "Why the Headmaster tried to force Potter to enter the contest is a mystery to me. I went over this particular option with the Headmaster over the summer when we decided to hold the tournament," quoted Nifflehopper.

When pressed to join the other champions, Potter questioned Dumbledore closely and publicly. When he was told that there was no other choice, he said, "You're wrong." Then he snapped his wand in front of the assembled students of three schools, Ministry dignitaries and the press. He then refused to participate, and walked from the hall. A moment later, the Goblet of Fire exploded as the magical contract governing Harry Potter terminated. A valuable magical object was forever lost thanks to the rash decision made by a man who has obviously outlived his usefulness as Headmaster of Hogwarts.

And what of young Mr. Potter? The truth is that no one knows where he has gone. He seems to have vanished. However, he is less than a squib at this point, powerless and without a wand. In fact, according to Otis Stillwater, the Ministry expert on prophecies, "Mr. Potter's loss of magic is not only complete, but he's done the same thing to You-Know-Who. I checked early this morning and discovered the prophecy sphere was still active. However, with Potter's magic gone, it must be referring to a meeting between muggles. The prophecy no longer involves the Ministry or the wizarding world and I've ordered the destruction of the sphere.

"In a way, Mr. Potter's actions have saved us all. Even if the Dark Lord could come back at this point, it wouldn't matter. He would have no magic to speak of. He would be He-Who-Cannot-Cast," Stillwater said.

We at the Prophet are thankful to Mr. Potter for what he's done, but cannot help but wonder how he could be pushed into making such a dreadful decision. We call upon the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to investigate the conditions surrounding Harry Potter's life. It is the least the Ministry can do for a boy who has saved us all, at such a tragic cost to himself.

Related stories...

Lucius Malfoy arrested on Bribery Charges, Minister to answer before Wizengamot, page 2.

Anonymous Tipster topples Ministry Bigwigs, page 2.

Barty Crouch Jr. Found Dead at Hogwarts, page 3.

Dumbledore scanned the article again, agreeing with the Ministry experts. Potter lost his magic to the goblet, and the goblet, being enchanted, had exploded as a direct result of trying to absorb his magic. In four hundred years of the Triwizard tournament, a contestant had never refused to participate until yesterday.

Dumbledore stood and walked angrily away from his desk, thinking furiously. Potter was gone and his plans were in ruins! Potter had found the one way of taking out Voldemort that Dumbledore had never considered. In doing so, the boy had ruined everything!

He sighed and looked up at his Order of Merlin, proudly hung in a display case with ample room for another. But there would be no more Orders of Merlin for him. Harry Potter had seen to that.

A knock came at his door and he ignored it. He paced back and forth, trying to ignore the knocking that grew increasingly louder. How they had managed to get the stairs to raise was a mystery to him. After several minutes, he threw up his hands, walked to the door and yanked it open.

"WHAT!" he exclaimed furiously.

Amelia Bones looked at him with disdain. Behind her were several Aurors and Minerva McGonagall.

Surprised, he staggered backwards and they entered his office.

"Excellent! You're still alive," Amelia said dryly. "I had thought we might find your body up here when you didn't open the door."

Dumbledore frowned. "What is the meaning of this?"

"I'm afraid the Board of Governors would like you to step aside while this Tournament business is investigated. They have requested I step into the role of Headmistress and asked Professor Flitwick to assume the deputy position," Minerva said angrily. She blamed him solely for what happened to Harry. If she could have gotten away with it, she would have gladly scratched his eyes out.

"We're here to escort you to an emergency meeting of the Wizengamot, Albus," Amelia added. "We have questions that need answering, especially in light of facts that are being discovered. Gringotts provided us with a package of information this morning that was most enlightening." She held out her hand. "Your wand, please," she said coldly.

Dumbledore winced. There was no escaping his fate at this point. It was all over. He handed her his wand and the aurors moved in to place manacles on his wrists.

Riddle Manor, Little Hangleton (2 days later)...

Peter was getting increasingly nervous. The master's plan had failed in a spectacular fashion and now the papers were printing that Potter and his master were without magic. That meant Voldemort could no longer provide the protection he craved. He needed to be associated with a powerful wizard who could protect him, not some squib thing, which aptly described Voldemort at the moment.

He placed the latest edition of the paper down on the floor and Nagini moved to read it for herself. Peter was terrified of the snake. There was a level of intelligence in the beast that bordered on human. His rat form gibbered in fear every time it approached him.

"Ssssooo, it issss true then," Nagini said sibilantly. The horcrux within the beast gave it the ability to speak in English.

"He is powerless now," Peter agreed.

"What will you do?" asked Nagini.

Peter shrugged his shoulders. "Run, I guess. It's not like I can re-enter British society," he said miserably. Who would have thought he'd end up like this? He had been certain his master would succeed! That damn boy ruined everything!

"The massster is ussslessss now," murmured Nagini.

She turned to eye Wormtail speculatively for a moment. Peter, not realizing the danger, had his back turned to the large snake. Nagini struck, sinking her eight inch fangs into his neck.

Peter gasped and his bladder immediately emptied. His eyes rolled in their sockets as Nagini's powerful neurotoxins went to work, shutting down his nervous system. Satisfied that he was dying, Nagini released Peter and watched coldly as he fell to the floor, twitching violently and foaming at the mouth. He was dead, he just didn't know it yet.

Nagini slid from the room. The human rat would no longer pose a threat to her. It really was a shame Peter wasn't in rat form. At least then he would have proved a tasty snack.

In a well appointed room upstairs sat a strange creature. It was a magical construct, a body barely capable of supporting Voldemort's soul and it was dreadfully weak. The creature was hard to describe, being vaguely humanoid and only about as large as an infant.

"Hello?" called Voldemort. "Where is everyone? I need Nagini! Wormtail, bring Nagini! I must feed!" he shouted weakly. Wormtail milked Nagini's venom, which helped power the potion that sustained the Dark Lord in his artificial body.

Nagini entered the room and slithered towards the chair upon which Voldemort sat.

"Nagini? Is that you, my pet? Where have you been? Where is that useless Wormtail? I must feed. I am getting weaker by the minute. Why hasn't anyone attended to me in the last two days?"

"Ussselesss creature," hissed Nagini. She reared up, her tongue flickering angrily. "You had dreamsss of glory, now turned to asssh. I warned you not to anger the child. Now he hasss defeated you."

"What? How dare you! Child? What has Potter done? No, stay back! I am your master and lord! I command you to obey me!"

"No. You are food," hissed Nagini. And then she struck.

No one heard the final howls of Lord Voldemort. Even if they had, the wizarding world no longer cared about a powerless muggle Dark Lord.

Outside of the Ministry of Magic (Three weeks after Harry's departure)...

Dumbledore stood tiredly in the atrium of the Ministry building, pondering fate. The few that passed him by refused to look at him. It was a far cry from his privileged position of just a month ago.

He had few possessions left to his name. His brother even had his pub seized and sold to help pay off the debt he had incurred to the Potter Estate, as well as the others he'd stolen from over the years.

Aberforth, his brother of 151 years, upon hearing the news, had died of a heart attack.

The last three weeks had been a personal kind of hell for Albus and he was exhausted. Disgraced and dismissed from every post he held, his Order of Merlin revoked, he had little more than the clothes on his back, a small bag of galleons and his bag of lemon drops.

He had used most of the last of his money to pay the fines for forcing a bondage bind on a phoenix. Once the bind was broken, the bird had disappeared, leaving him behind. He had hoped that, after all the time they'd spent together, the pheonix might have developed feelings for him. How wrong he'd been.

Dumbledore had narrowly escaped prison only because all of his actions were done under the auspices of his office as Chief Warlock. Sending him to jail for exercising his authority meant that any future Chief Warlock could suffer the same penalties. If there was one thing the Wizengamot would not do, it would be to take away privilege from their own positions.

This was probably his last visit to the Ministry. They had summoned him so he could sign some papers, closing out his eighty year tenure as the senior member of the Wizengamot. He was a pariah now. No one wanted to talk to him and few were willing to be seen associating with him.

In the final days he had tried to argue that Voldemort would return, but no one listened. They didn't care if he did or not. Even if he did come back, he would be a muggle and, therefore, not a problem to the Wizarding World. Even former accused Death Eaters like Walden McNair openly scoffed at the concept of a muggle Dark Lord. McNair was one of the few accused Death Eaters who not only survived the purge, but had come out better than he was.

He wasn't the only person caught by the facts revealed over the last three weeks. Severus Snape had been beaten by a crowd in Hogsmeade when the first accusations of his abusing students came to light. He was rescued by a squad of Aurors, who led him off to Azkaban, while prosecutors built their case against him.

Lucius Malfoy had been imprisoned and most of his fortune confiscated. Former Minister Fudge was now a permanent resident of the prison he help staff with dementors.

Dumbledore stepped into the lift and sighed. Several moments later, he exited the Ministry building and wondered what to do next. He still had a very small home that had once belonged to Aberforth and a small flock of enchanted goats. The home had escaped goblin detection because it was owned and listed as a muggle residence in northern Wales.

I suppose I could go home, he thought morosely. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a lemon drop and popped it into his mouth. A second later a muggle tripped and rammed into him accidentally. He swallowed reflexively and his eyes widened. The lemon drop was lodged in his throat!

Gasping, his hands flew up to his neck. He tried to suck in a breath, but all he got was a pitiful, insufficient amount of air. Far too little! One arm flailed around wildly. A muggle stopped to stare at him uncomprehendingly, then more gathered, wondering what was wrong with the strange looking man.

Someone screamed while his lips were turning blue and spots danced before his eyes. A young muggle man stepped up and pounded on his back a few times, then wrapped his arms around him, just below his rib cage and jerked upwards.

He coughed and the lemon drop soared out of his mouth and into the street. Panting, he bent over, clutching his knees.

"Mister? Mister, are you alright?" The voice sounded young and very concerned.

Albus looked up at his savior and blinked for a moment in shock before relaxing again. For a brief moment the man almost looked like James Potter. A closer inspection corrected that. The young man had black hair and glasses, but the resemblance ended there.

"I'm fine now, thanks to you," he said slowly.

The young man grinned. "No worries, sir. But you might want to be more careful with your candies."

He nodded absently and the young man, pleased that he had helped someone, stepped away to continue whatever muggle errand he had.

Bemused and still shaken by his close brush with death, he stepped off the curb.

There was a screech of brakes and someone screamed. Dumbledore had a brief impression of something very large and bright red, then he was flying and everything went black.

The driver of the double decker bus slammed on the brakes and bolted from his vehicle. A policeman near a corner shouted over his walkie talkie for backup and an ambulance. They would arrive too late.

Albus Dumbledore, defeater of Grindelwald and once darling of the Wizarding world, had been killed in a muggle accident. Hit by a bus, then crushed by a lorry, it was an ignominious way to die for someone who had lived for so long.

Wainuvu, Fiji (1 Month after Harry left)...


He lifted his head and looked at his godfather. "Paddy! I was wondering when you'd get back."

He had been laying on the deck of their house reading his transfiguration textbook. Sirius walked over and sat on the edge of the lounger and gently lifted the bandage from his forehead. Harry waited anxiously for the verdict.

"The doctor was right. They were able to reduce the scar and now it's barely noticeable." Sirius glanced down at the book on his godson's lap and frowned slightly. "Why are you reading that?"

Harry waved his hand and several birds appeared. It wasn't really wandless magic he was performing. The Fijians had a limited supply of wood, so wands had been replaced by a wooden focus ring with a magical core. The ring provided the same focus as his wand, which he still had. The wand he destroyed in the Great Hall had been a fake.

"It's still good to learn, Paddy, even if I never go back there. Did you mail my letter?" he asked eagerly.

He laughed. "Yes I mailed it. Now, why won't you admit you like her?"

Harry blushed and looked down. "Alright, I do. But now we're really far apart," he said with a sigh. It was the biggest flaw in Sirius' plan. He had left his friends behind. He missed Ron and Ginny of course. But her? Missing her actually hurt.

Sirius gripped Harry's shoulder supportively. "If she feels as you do, I suspect it won't matter."

Harry scowled at him. "Evan, remember?"

Sirius nodded. They were both living under aliases. He was Evan Black, and Sirius was Patrick Orion. Remus, when he arrived, would assume the name of John Wolfe, which Sirius thought extremely amusing.

They had stopped over in Japan after leaving Britain. There, Harry had undergone muggle plastic surgery to reduce the size of the scar on his forehead. Sirius had also used the opportunity to relocate both the Black and Potter fortunes from Gringotts Britain to the Gringotts Japan. The goblins cared little about the Ministry proclamations about Sirius' guilt and were happy to accommodate them. Sirius was pleased to learn from the Goblins that his name had been cleared by the British Ministry.

Despite being free, they had decided on using aliases to hide the fact that Harry would continue learning and practicing magic.

After Harry was well enough to be released from the hospital, they had moved on to Fiji and a very comfortable house right on the beach. Sirius had stocked the home with plenty of magical texts for his godson to study if he wished.

Harry was at first uncertain of Sirius' plan, but he had been right. The binding magical contract from the Goblet of Fire had met the unmovable force of prophecy. The two had clashed spectacularly in the Great Hall, and the goblet had lost as it's magic was overwhelmed by destiny itself.

For a brief instant, all magic within Harry's body ceased to function, and then most of his natural magic came rushing back into him. What he didn't get back were the blocks and tracking charms and other spells that had been cast upon him over the years. That magic failed to return to his body and had helped fuel the spectacular explosion of the Goblet of Fire.

Harry knew that someday he would have to face Voldemort. But he also knew they had bought him time, a lot of time, decades perhaps. Time he could use to train and live as he should have from the beginning. Voldemort's had lost his key supporters in the Ministry, thanks to help from the goblins who had supplied the information needed to bring down Fudge, Malfoy and Dumbledore.

Harry and Sirius were just settling in and getting used to living together, although soon, two would become three when Remus joined them. In the meantime, Harry studied as though his life depended on it and he practiced his magic. Remus was scurrying around the continent trying contact the tutors that James and Lily had set up for Harry in their will. He also managed to get his hands on a massive chunk of the Dumbledore family estate, including Albus' private journals.

Sirius helped Harry by reminding him to have fun. He bought Harry a surfboard and helped him start working out. The pair were often seen bouncing over the landscape in their land cruiser, seeming to forget that there were perfectly acceptable roads for such vehicles. Neither seemed to understand that four wheel drive didn't translate into tank.

Nadi International Airport, Fiji (December 20th)...

Hermione walked down the jetway to the terminal ahead of her parents. She was both excited and a little angry. The school was holding a Christmas ball this year and she had hoped that someone would ask her. Unfortunately, at the same time that they made that announcement, her parents sent her a letter detailing their plans for the holidays and she couldn't talk them out of it.

It had been an exhausting flight, with a change over at Sydney, and she was grumpy because her parents insisted she join them. It didn't help that the boy she had wanted to go to the ball with no longer attended Hogwarts. She desperately missed Harry and wished he'd write. He was her best friend. She didn't care that his magic was gone!

The year had started off dreadfully, with the loss of Harry. The revelations about his home life, as well as the other irregularities in his case, created a major scandal. Dumbledore retired in disgrace, barely escaping prosecution. Former Professor Snape had been placed in Sirius' old cell at Azkaban and was currently awaiting trial.

Fudge going to prison blew open a major criminal case when secret files were discovered in his office outlining corruption in the office of Minister going back more than fifty years. Even Sirius Black's files were found, along with eyewitness testimony that exonerated him.

Following the Ministry trials, the notice of Dumbledore's death was a minor blip on the back pages of the Prophet that most of the Wizarding world never noticed.

Hermione stopped and dropped her carry on bag. She stared for a moment, then tried to blink away the tears that filled her eyes. There, not ten feet away, stood Sirius, Remus and Harry Potter!

He looked wonderful! Healthy, and tanned, and maybe even a little taller! He smiled at her and his hands played nervously with a beautiful orchid.

"Harry!" she squealed, then bolted forward.

He opened his arms to receive her, and she threw herself into his embrace. He held her tightly to him and she wept, while Sirius and Remus greeted her parents. The adults smiled softly seeing Hermione's reaction to Harry's presence.

Finally Harry pulled away slightly and lifted up one hand. He placed the orchid behind her ear, then he conjured a tissue to wipe away her tears.

She gasped softly when she realized that he'd just used magic.

"Welcome to Fiji," he whispered. "I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you, too," she replied softly.

"Well, so much for keeping that a secret," murmured Remus when he saw Harry conjure the tissue.

"Are you kidding?" asked Sirius. He grinned and shook his head. "He can't keep secrets from her. He's like James that way. James couldn't hide anything from Lily. Every time he tried, she knew he was hiding something." He turned to the Grangers then and smiled. "Welcome to Fiji! I hope you like the tropics. I suspect you'll be visiting us often."

Hermione's mother smiled softly at the two teens who were still holding each other and whispering softly. "I think you're right, Mr. Black," she replied.

Special Author's note: We've placed a copy of this story here because people asked for it.