A/N- This chapter seemed to be out to get not just Dumbledore's sanity, but my own. I think my muse is taunting me. I've also learned that when I'm feeling under the weather my muse hits the snooze. Stupid sinuses. About a thousand words shorter than the last chap but I put some good information in it (like how Dumbledore is still headmaster). Now I'm off to make lunch and take a nap. Stupid sinuses.
Disclaimer- Still don't own Harry Potter and never will. Just playing here, with nothing but some positive reviews as payment (read: no money gained from this story).
Albus Dumbledore sat in his office, staring at the list of first years. Susan Bones, Neville Longbottom, and Harry Potter were all not in attendance, as well as a few Muggleborn students. When Minerva had received their letters stating that they would not be in attendance, instead being tutored, he had been convinced that it was merely a ploy and that the Potters were again trying to remove him from his seat as headmaster. Dumbledore smirked. That would never happen. He had too much dirt on too many politicians. It was cute how they tried though.
Severus's testimony had been damning, but Dumbledore merely played it off as having to lie to a spy he couldn't trust. The Potters and their friends hadn't bought it for a minute but most people still wanted to believe that Dumbledore was a kind and great leader. Severus Snape had been left out to dry by the man who had vowed to protect him and been given the kiss. The other evidence presented was easily played off by the masterful manipulator as lies, slander, and manipulations by others to impugn his good name. The Potters, however, were above reproach and the perceived destroyers of Voldemort which made things difficult. Some of the public came to their side as they saw no reason for the family to lie. Lily Potter had famously told him, "Great men are almost always bad men." Most of Wizarding Britain was highly sheep-like. But there was a faction of free-thinking people and they took the Potters' side. Dumbledore was still removed from the Wizengamot and the ICW (whose eyes he couldn't pull the wool over) but he masterfully kept hold of Hogwarts.
Still, three very reputable light families not having any children attending Hogwarts was not a good thing. He'd debated having Minerva go and try to explain how Hogwarts was the best option for their children but James Potter was not a man to be crossed and his wife was just as powerful and fierce. Their bizarre alignment with Muggles had him completely confused. The Grangers had not a drop of magical blood anywhere in their lines and he could see no benefit should there be a marriage between Harry and the girl. It certainly wouldn't help to dilute the Potter bloodline anymore. They'd begin losing any prestige they had whatsoever.
He'd had so many plans for Harry Potter…plans that would never come to fruition. With the Potters alive Dumbledore couldn't guide Harry down the path he needed to; to boot, from the sources he had access to, the young Potter was quite studious. His parents were setting him up to be independent. Dumbledore loathed independence. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do about it. He'd simply wait until Voldemort returned and then come to the Potters' rescue.
-New Mexico, United States of America-
Remus Lupin collapsed on the bed. "I hate portkey travel."
"It's better than floo travel," Sirius Black said as he put the bags down. "Poor Harry just can't master floo travel."
"That's funny to watch though," Remus smirked. "Portkey travel is a little more difficult. Never know exactly when you'll land."
"Well I don't like using Muggle airplanes and it takes too long," Sirius frowned. "Now do you have the name of the guy we're getting it from?"
"How come Hermione always asks us to do the illegal things?"
Sirius laughed, "If you have to ask, Remus…"
"I'm just saying, every time the task is illegal we get nominated to do it."
"Don't think about it too much. Now, should we play gay couple or best friends looking for some fun?"
"We're not hiring prostitutes again, Sirius."
"I thought it was funny that time in Germany."
"Moony, you take all the fun out of my life."
"That's my job as the responsible one, Snuffles." Sirius stuck his tongue out at Remus, who sat up and looked at the clock, "Come on, we meet him in less than an hour."
"Yes dear," Sirius drawled, earning a smack on the head, "well if you'd stop acting like my wife I'd stop acting like a henpecked husband."
"If you're ever henpecked I expect the world will end," Remus said, dodging the pillow Sirius threw at him.
"We need to get that map," Harry said.
"It's a Hogsmeade weekend. We know the twins always had it on them."
"And when they're near we summon it."
"They can't see us thanks to our invisibility charms. Thank goodness we figured out how to be completely unseen," Hermione squeezed his hand, "I'll summon it. As soon as we have it you silently Apparate us back home."
"Got it," he said, looking for the trademark red hair of Weasleys. He slid his arms around Hermione's waist as she cast the spell.
-Granger Home, Somewhere in Manchester, England-
Harry was looking over the Marauders Map when he suddenly looked up to see a grinning Hermione enter the room, "Harry I know how to recreate the diary horcrux."
His eyes bulged. That was one of the hardest ones, if not the hardest one, to create. It had to be sentient. It had to correspond with Ginny in some way. "How?"
Hermione grinned, "Do you think you can remember what Tom Riddle's handwriting resembled? More importantly, could you show me the memory?"
"Y-yeah I guess I could. But you still haven't answered my question. How?"
"It's simple, my love. We create two diaries. We get Malfoy to think he slipped one into Ginny's cauldron, and the two of us write to her instead of Tom doing it. Instead of her releasing the basilisk we take care of that. We could even enchant the diary to take specific blocks of time from her memory so that she believes she's doing it. Without the 'Great Harry Potter' around to save her who do you think she'll turn to?"
"Dumbledore?" Harry asked before grinning, "Oh this is too brilliant. You are so amazing," he stood and picked her up, swinging her around before catching her in a kiss, "You're sexy when you're brilliant."
"Well I try," she smiled, leaning in to kiss him again. "So now that we've figured out what to do with the hardest horcrux…"
"We work on the others," he finished, rolling the map up and sticking it in his pocket, "To the Prank Cave!"
As Harry dragged her off to the Potter home Hermione sighed. She knew she shouldn't have let him call it the Prank Cave but those damnable eyes and that tongue…he could turn her into a puddle of goo and he knew it. Although she had to count herself lucky if this was the type of thing that Harry wanted her permission for. He could ask for anything, even multiple wives, and when she was in that state she'd probably grant it. It made her love him all the more that he respected her enough to not use her love and desire for him to his advantage.
It was early October when the dream potion was finished. Selene Lovegood and Lily Potter had made it, adding in some things that Hermione hadn't thought of. James, Sirius, Remus, Dan, Xeno, and Frank were all proud of their work on the horcruxes. They were very detailed and looked exactly like the ones Harry and Hermione had shown them in their memories. The ring, the cup, the diadem, and the locket all looked exactly as they should. The resurrection stone they'd made up would seem like a magical artifact but of course wouldn't work. Xeno and Remus had figured out a way to imbibe it with untraceable magic but make sure it had no magical properties. They had been very proud of that.
That left Harry, Hermione, Luna, Susan, and Neville the diary to work on. Susan and Luna made sure that the diary looked identical to the one Tom Riddle had used, and they even worked out how to age it so it looked old. Neville had helped Hermione and Harry with the charms to have it correspond with another book. Just like the Riddle diary, the words written would bleed into the book, vanishing. Then in the diary that Harry and Hermione would keep on them it would appear and they could respond. Neville even thought up putting an alarm on the book that would stay in Harry and Hermione's possession so that they knew when they needed to check it.
Using the Marauders Map Lily and Remus went to douse Dumbledore's lemon drop collection the day before Halloween. Sirius and James went troll-hunting while the ring was placed in the gaunt shack by Amelia, Xeno, Harry, and Hermione. With the stone properly enchanted they put up Parsel and ward defenses. Once they were sure it was proper they returned home. Most of the others had to be placed by house elf. Kreacher was used for that and he was very helpful. He placed the diadem, the locket, and the cup all in the locations they were supposed to be in.
When Halloween dawned it was to a very smug eleven and twelve year old couple. Harry smiled at Hermione, "I look forward to Dumbledore being poisoned to have dreams of Voldemort coming to power."
"I look forward to that thing with the troll tonight. Are you ready to plant a memory in him tonight?"
"Ready, willing, and able," Harry grinned. "Good thing Quirrell is still the DADA professor."
"Does help quite a bit," she nodded. "And those techniques to create memories from Merlin's notes are incredibly useful."
"He really was a bloody genius," Harry nodded, leaning in to kiss her. "Probably not as much as my wife though."
"You flatter me," she smiled, pulling him to her. "He does have a few centuries on me."
"Yeah but he never even thought to do what you did. That speaks to your brilliance and creativity."
"I had extraordinary circumstances and I had you."
"You still have me."
"And I will forever," she whispered, hugging him. "Let's go give you a good Halloween." Harry grinned and nodded. He'd always wanted a good Halloween. This was certainly going to be one.
Albus Dumbledore woke feeling on edge. Today was the perfect day for Voldemort to return. The Old Magicks were most active today. With the stone in place he had to make sure that Voldemort didn't get too close. He'd no doubt make a move today. Soon he'd be called in to rescue the Potters and then he'd have some control over them again.
Sirius and James transformed into their animagus forms and got the troll to chase them toward the school. The troll wouldn't hurt anyone, unlike it had tried in the other timeline, but it would certainly draw questions toward Dumbledore.
Harry and Hermione, with Neville, Luna, and Susan, snuck into the third floor corridor and Luna opened the music box. Fluffy the Cerberus dozed right off and Hermione and Harry conjured the blood. Neville and Susan helped to arrange everything to appear as though a scuffle occurred while Harry and Hermione headed out to find Quirrel, who they confunded and planted memories into. Quickly they headed back to the third floor where they gathered their friends before Hermione created a portkey and they all vanished.
Lily, Amelia, and Alice all followed the troll on the Marauders Map, ready to intervene if any danger happened. Once McGonagall and Flitwick had dispatched with it they took their portkey that Hermione had made and they vanished.
Sirius and James shared a moment of glee before they left the grounds. They'd fired the first shot. How would things go without Harry and Hermione there to save the day?
It was just after midnight when they saw Dumbledore had retired for the evening. Harry and Hermione promised to be careful before heading to Hogwarts and the headmaster's rooms. With Fawkes asleep Harry and Hermione snuck into the bedroom and withdrew the memory of the past evening, substituting a new one in its place. Neither said a word before silently portkeying out. He wouldn't know what hit him.
Albus Dumbledore was not having a pleasant dream. Gellert Grindelwald was taunting him about killing his own sister. He woke in a cold sweat. He would never…did he? The spells had just flown so quickly…the more time passed the less he remembered about that day. Arianna's screams were still in his ears though.
James sat at the breakfast table with the Grangers, the Marauders, and the two kids. "Why not make him think the danger was coming from outside the castle?"
"Because then they might make it harder for us to get into it. We need Dumbledore to think that Voldemort is inside the school somehow. Last night was the beginning."
Harry looked at Hermione, "Do you think he'll try to get me into the Tri-Wizard Tournament again?"
"If he does I'll eviscerate him," Hermione said, her eyes flashing with fire.
"Well maybe he'll be utterly insane by then," Harry said.
"In the meantime we need to make sure that every misstep is pointed out to the media," Lily said as she sat down with her family.
"That should be easy enough," Hermione said. "Although we do have some problems."
"Pettigrew and Snape," Harry nodded. "We'll figure up an alternative."
"We're going to have to," she sighed. "It'd be easier if they were both around but I think we saved all Potions students from utter hell."
"I know we did," Harry grinned. "We probably saved Britain, actually. I mean, you need NEWTS in Potions to be an auror, to be a healer, to be a potions master," Harry looked at his parents, "Only Slytherins ever got NEWTS."
"Snape did their potions for them," Hermione added.
"So glad he's gone," Harry concluded.
Sure enough, the Daily Prophet reported nothing about the mountain troll. Harry wasn't surprised. Dumbledore never wanted people to know about the dangers of Hogwarts. 'Safest place in Britain'…maybe in his fantasies. Harry didn't recall ever feeling particularly safe in Hogwarts. His time there had been one life-threatening situation after another. Hermione had nearly died just about as many times as he had in their first two years there. Not to mention a professor had tried to kill him several times.
As the Christmas break approached Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore found himself having more and more nightmares. Gellert frequently appeared, taunting him about killing both his sister and the man he'd purportedly 'loved'. No matter Dumbledore's pleas about being unable to save Gellert from the dark side the image in his mind showed Dumbledore drawing his wand on his lover and killing his only sister. The accusation of Aberforth at her funeral and the punch to his nose also joined the memories.
By December the old man looked exhausted and found himself unable to sleep more than 3-4 hours a night. The staff of Hogwarts were noticeably concerned for the headmaster, but he shook off concerns by asserting that he was just fine. He found himself returning to the tale of the three brothers to read about the resurrection stone. Perhaps if he could talk to Arianna his conscience would ease?
Harry glanced at his wife, who nodded. They used the portkey and vanished. Emerging in their bedroom after having replenished Dumbledore's supply of lemon drops the couple sat down on the bed. "He doesn't look good."
"You'd think he'd use a Dreamless Draught."
"He can't," Hermione said, getting up to change, "Harry, that potion can be highly addictive. It's okay to use it once in awhile, like to facilitate a patient's sleep as they recover, but it's not recommended for repeated use as a sleep aid. " He nodded in understanding and went to his closet, stripping down and putting on his pajamas.
When he returned he sat on the bed, "It's working better than I thought it would."
"That only proves he didn't fully go dark," she said, "he still has his scruples. Curiously those scruples seemed to accept the destruction of so many families but when it comes to his own they hold firm."
Harry pulled her into his arms, "We still have to work out what to do about the Weasleys."
Hermione nodded, "How about we investigate them? Or talk to Fred and George?"
"We could ask Amelia and Frank and Alice about the Weasleys," Harry suggested.
She kissed him and mumbled her agreement as they cuddled close, "We'll work on that in the morning. Good night Harry."
"Night," he sighed.