Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: FoM :: 01 :: Discovery

01 • Discovery

Voldemort had long since moved inside, to where he’d had Peter spend days, weeks, and months preparing for the day his master was whole in body once more. It was, of course, miles away from the graveyard to which he had summoned his followers. They had all felt his displeasure at their lack of faith, and their lack of attempts at locating him and helping to restore him to his former glory. And at that, the one who had managed the feat was currently languishing on the floor of his audience chamber. Though, perhaps, languishing was not quite the right term.

Peter had, after all, been one of those who had let the Potter brat escape from his little trap. Voldemort was hardly adverse to the idea of punishing almost as quickly as he had rewarded. Minions were expendable, were they not? One could always find more fools to hide in the shadow of greatness and to answer its call. There were many out there who were unwitting enough to fail to understand exactly what they were getting into, and therefore made easy prey for his aims and ideals.

So it was that Peter was sprawled on the floor, gasping for breath, his face turning a delicate shade of blue as his limbs slowly stiffened at grotesque angles. He could, however, still communicate, and he was very well aware that he was dying. Strangely, though, his eyes betrayed not fear, but laughter. It was as Voldemort realized that fact that Peter began to laugh aloud, hysterically. Voldemort could not fathom if the man had gone mad with the sure knowledge of his death, or if there was something more sinister at hand.

And then he found out.

“You are such a fool, Tom!” Peter gasped harshly, finally getting his laughter under control. “You never knew, not once. Never suspected. I, among all others, was the one to understand everything. And I alone acted.”

Voldemort blinked slowly, his slitted pupils expanding and contracting as he tried to focus more clearly on his dying subject. In point of fact, he was still feeling a bit woozy from his resurrection and not entirely all there.

“I fooled all of you! And you are the biggest fool of all! I heard the prophecy, all of it.” Peter paused to let loose a racking cough. “And now you’ve gone and sealed the bargain. I know I’m dying, but I’ll die knowing that I revenged myself on you for what you did to me, for what I let you do to me in my moment of weakness. I’ll be free of you, once and for all, knowing that I brought about your eternal regret.”

“What are you babbling about, you oaf?” Voldemort was, in fact, curious. People did not usually gloat on their death beds.

“I told you, I heard the entire prophecy. Sniveling idiot.” Peter’s words were starting to slur slightly as his chest constricted and the poison worked its way inward. “Your son didn’t die, Tom. I took him.” The maliciousness in his voice was unmistakable. “I got back at you, at them, at everyone. They never believed I had the strength. You thought I was so weak, so powerless. But I showed you all. You’ve been trying to kill your son for years, Tom, and now he’ll never feel anything for you but hatred and disgust. You’ll never get him back. He’ll never listen to you. I hope he succeeds . . . in killing you. A fitting . . . little . . . Greek tragedy. Then it will all . . . be over.”

And it was, for Peter. The poison had worked its way through his system, paralyzing first his extremities, then inward to his organs, and finally, his lungs and brain. But he was smiling, and it was touched with smugness, as though his ravings were more truth than words of the insane in their last moments. His silver hand glinted in the low light, positioned just so as to reflect the flame of a candle.

Voldemort, for once in his life, was worried. His minions were shifting restlessly, casting wary glances at each other and at him. Then his years of self-training took over, and he surged to his feet, all thoughts of worry gone for the moment, and all feelings of weakness from his resurrection forgotten. He laid about with his wand mercilessly, striking down minion after minion, not all of which were felled with something less than fatal.

When his anger at having been spoken to in such a manner by a sniveling, cowardly rat was sated, he straightened and looked around the audience chamber. “Well,” he said, more to himself than anything, “that was amusing.” Some of his people were stirring where they had fallen, prompting him into action. After ascertaining if a given body was still alive, Voldemort proceeded to obliviate them of the last half hour’s events. When he had completed his self-set task, he retreated to his chair and sat, waiting for everyone to haul themselves up to await his orders.

“Somebody clean up this mess,” he snapped, and watched as a half dozen people began levitating corpses out of the room. Once his people had returned he said, “One week. You will all return. You had better have something good to tell me. Now go!”

Shortly thereafter, Voldemort walked down the corridor slowly, Nagini slithering at his side. She was hissing softly, nonsensically, and stopped once they arrived at the door to what had been Peter’s room. Inside, Voldemort sneered and seated himself on the bed.

“Nagini, luv, see what you can find for magic in here,”he hissed, then watched as she nosed around at things, flicking her tongue at various objects and sections of the wall. Eventually she stopped, lingering for long moments over a section at the back of the desk Peter had used, then turned her head to look at him.

“Here,” she hissed.

Voldemort rose to investigate, casting several spells before finding the one to open the cleverly concealed opening fitted into the back wall of the desk. An entire section slid out, revealing a slim journal. He pulled it free and returned to the bed, then flipped it open as he sat down. The first entry was . . . interesting.

20 July 1995

Albus Dumbledore had tried to get Cornelius Fudge to listen to reason, but to no avail. He had already been removed as the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot due to his efforts and the amount of pull Fudge could muster. And now, this attack on Harry. A hearing was scheduled for the twelfth, and Albus had every intention of being present when Harry was brought in.

He looked up at the sound of a knock on his door and called out, “Enter!”

Shacklebolt strode in, his dark face twisted into a fierce scowl. “Albus, that kid is in great danger,” he said without preamble.

“What do you mean?”

“Fudge isn’t just going after Potter for underage magic, Albus. He’s going after him for the death of the Diggory boy. After you were dismissed, half the Wizengamot resigned in protest, and those spots have been filled by his supporters. If you think Potter will be getting a fair trial, you’ve had one too many sherbet lemons. The boy will end up in Azkaban, mark my words. Fudge is out to do whatever he can to discredit you and Potter.”

Albus stroked his beard, the only outward sign of his fear and worry. On looking up he said calmly, “I will do everything that I can. Is there anything else?”

“Isn’t that enough?”

Albus nodded and reached for a sherbet lemon, popping it into his mouth reflexively and tucking it between his cheek and teeth. “Thank you, Kingsley.”

Shacklebolt turned on his heel and stalked out.

*

Harry was mildly surprised when an owl flew through his window, as it was not Hedwig. She was already sitting in her cage, dozing. The owl—it was not one he recognized—flew over his bed and dropped a package, then flew away immediately after hooting at him urgently. Harry approached the package carefully; one never knew when the twins might send something that could blow up in your face.

And yet, looking more closely, he realized that it was a journal of some kind. He glanced over at Hedwig, wishing she was awake, but not wanting to disturb her. The strange owl had seemed quite insistent that he look at the journal, but that could mean anything, up to and including urging him into a trap. Though his curiosity was eating away at him, Harry decided to be cautious. Rather than touching it, he picked up a pencil and dropped it onto the journal, stepping back quickly.

When that failed to have any effect, he retrieved the pencil from where it had rolled off to the side and used the tip to carefully push the cover up and over. It did not take him long at all to read the first entry, and that in itself made his heart race with fear and surprise. Peter had known a prophecy, that prophecy, and never told? He did not understand the other reference though, about the women.

Then he read the second entry.

Harry blinked in total shock and clutched the journal to his chest, flopping back on his bed with a heartfelt groan. “Oh, Merlin. If this gets out, the next thing I know I’ll be in Azkaban and—” he muttered before the sound of his bedroom door opening interrupted him. He looked over, dazed, into the eyes of Albus Dumbledore.

“Sir?” he croaked.

“Quickly, Harry. We must get your things packed, whatever you can’t live without. There’s no time for questions, not yet.”

Harry slid off his bed, wavering slightly, then lifted the loose floorboard and pulled out his wand, his cloak, and photo album. Laying them on the bed for a moment, he pulled the case from his pillow, then stuffed them inside. Looking around, he grabbed his Firebolt from under the bed and Hedwig’s cage from the desk, then nodded to the headmaster.

“Touch this and we’ll be off.”

Harry adjusted his belongings, then reached out to touch a finger to the butterbeer cork, feeling the familiar tug behind his navel. He landed in a heap in the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts.

“Harry, please follow me if you would,” Dumbledore said, indicating a door nearly hidden in the shadows, then striding over to open it and go through.

He stood, making sure he had his things, and went through the door, letting the headmaster close it behind him. He noticed almost immediately that the room was absolutely bare, with plain stone walls and no windows. The only fixture at all was a chandelier, draped with cobwebs that looked to be ages old. He slid down one wall, letting his belongings drop to the floor and ignoring Hedwig’s indignant screech, then looked up at Dumbledore.

“Harry, Fudge is out for your blood. He has every intention of not only trying you for your use of magic outside of Hogwarts, but also for the death of Cedric Diggory.”

Harry, expecting to hear something totally different, blanched nonetheless. “But—”

“Harry, they intend to arrest you in the morning. I swear to you, I did not know until a short while ago and I came directly I could. I will not let him have you. I already know you won’t be given a fair trial, Harry.”

Harry nodded dumbly.

“You’ll notice that there are no paintings here. While the ones in my office are sworn to give allegiance to the current headmaster, I’d prefer that no one overhear this conversation. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop them this time, given that my attempt to make Cornelius see to reason about the return of Voldemort has resulted in me being removed from the Wizengamot, so I’m going to have to hide you until I work out the details.”

Harry nodded again, his eyes wide.

“For right now, I just want you to rest. I’ll be back with you shortly.” Dumbledore moved over to the wall opposite the door and placed his hand on it. A new door slowly shimmered into view, which he opened.

“Please go inside. There’s food waiting. Don’t worry, the only person who can open the door is me.”

Harry levered himself up and grabbed his things, then trudged through the door. He looked back at the sound of the headmaster’s voice.

“As soon as I’ve settled things, I’ll come for you. It shouldn’t be long, hopefully only a day or two,” he said before turning away, closing the door behind him.

Alone, Harry looked around the room to catalog the contents. A bed, a table and chair, and a golden plate with accompanying utensils were present, along with a cabinet on one wall. He placed Hedwig’s cage down along with the sack and his broom, and went to the cabinet. Opening it, he found a selection of edibles, all of which were fresh, and pulled out a few things to eat, though in truth he wasn’t very hungry. The door through which Dumbledore had left had vanished, leaving only one other, which turned out to be a bathroom.

23 July 1995

Several days later, after much dozing, sparse meals, and a few apathetic talks with Hedwig, the headmaster returned, shaking Harry gently awake from restless dreams.

“Harry? Good, you’re awake. I need you to listen carefully as I’m going to explain what will happen.”

He nodded, pulling himself up to a seated position, back against the headboard.

“First, they’re going to want to talk to you, so I’m going to need your wand.” He held up a hand as Harry opened his mouth to protest. “It isn’t something I can help. You’ll need to get a new one, I’m afraid, since you’ll be gone from here well before they come. They won’t be talking to you, per se. Rather, a magical clone.”

“Second, I’m giving you several things you’ll need to disguise yourself, plus a portkey. I know you don’t like them, Harry, but you must use it. One is a charm that will change your appearance for you, however you’d like, and the other is magical identification that will also change on request. Specifically, it will give you an identity in the Australian Ministry files, changing it there each time you change it. When you do settle on a definite and final identity, and key it, it will fix things, then go back to being just ordinary. It won’t work again after that like it did, and neither will the charm.”

Harry frowned, but nodded to show that he understood.

“The portkey will take you to Australia, to a place I’ve arranged for you to live. You’ll be considered eighteen on your birthday, a full adult, so you’ll want to see about learning to apparate and becoming an animagus . . . whatever you like. I’ve already had all of your vaults transferred into a single one in Australia and will be giving you the key shortly. I’ll also change Hedwig’s appearance, so you can keep her. She’d be too noticeable otherwise, I think you know that.”

Harry nodded, his eyes flicking over to the snowy owl and back uneasily.

“I know you don’t like that you’ll need to purchase a new wand, but if you kept your current one, it could be used to reveal your new identity. I suggest that you wait until your real birthday has passed before you get a new one. You will want to make sure that your new persona does not share that birth date, Harry.”

“All right, professor. When . . . do I leave?”

“After I give you your new things, and get a sample of your blood for the clone.”

“Will I ever be able to come back?” he asked dully.

“Honestly, Harry, I’m not sure. As yourself, possibly never. Only time will tell.”

“Can you tell me anything more about where I’m going?”

“It’s inside a wizarding town so you’ll be able to get whatever you need once you’ve arrived, but as I mentioned earlier, wait until your birthday or after to purchase a new wand. The supplies in the house will last two weeks or more as it is.”

Several hours later, Harry was wearing a innocuous ring which Dumbledore had explained the usage of. He’d given blood, which would allow for the clone to last for at least several weeks before dissolving, if not longer. He also had a vault key, identification (which the usage of was also explained), and the pillow case had been transfigured into a stylish leather rucksack which was roomy enough inside to carry far more than it appeared capable of. Hedwig had had a silver band attached to one leg magically, which altered her feathers, safely hiding her widely-known appearance.

Before he used the portkey provided, Harry had one final question. “Professor, what would happen if I were to come back at some point, and someone had the Marauder’s Map? They’d know I was here.”

Dumbledore merely shook his head. “It would not matter, Harry. Once you’ve decided on a final identity, you will no longer be Harry Potter. The map would show your new name.”

“All right. I guess this is . . . good bye.”

“Be safe, Harry.”

He activated the portkey, and vanished.

*

Dumbledore swept out of the hidden room and resealed the entrance, then revealed a second door, which he opened. Approximately one half hour later he came back out, followed by, seemingly, Harry Potter, who was holding a very familiar wand.

*

He landed with a thud, which was hardly unusual. Portkeys were not his favorite form of travel, nor would they be any time in the near future, if ever. He was, if nothing else, quite tired, but his eyes alighted on an envelope on a nearby table, so with a weary sigh Harry stood, leaving his things on the floor.

The letter inside contained further instructions along with reminders for Harry to use the charm and identification to set his temporary looks and name. The tingle he had felt when he’d picked it up was also explained, and when he spoke into the silence of the room experimentally, he cocked his head to one side at the strange accent he now spoke with.

A sound nearby made him spin in place and crouch. Walking through one of the doors was a man who looked alarmingly like the headmaster. Harry started to relax, then froze as the man came to a stop.

“Hello, Harry. You aren’t seeing double, by the way. I’m Aberforth Dumbledore. Albus sent me to make sure you arrived all right.” When Harry didn’t move he continued, “I know you aren’t exactly a trusting soul at the moment, but I am here for another reason. Perhaps it would help if I said you look a great deal like Prongs?” Aberforth tilted his head to the side in a birdlike manner. “Or that saving Padfoot was a very brave deed?”

Harry stood up slowly and said, “All right.”

“There are already a number of books here for you to read, that much is true. I will be returning after the thirty-first in order to acquaint you with your new environment. I realize that by then you won’t look the same, but that shan’t be a problem, I’m sure. At any rate, by then you’ll be needing to purchase a number of things for yourself.”

“You don’t . . . live here?” Harry glanced around quickly.

“Oh, no. Though I do live on this street at the moment. A few doors down, in fact. This is your home, for as long as you live. Albus made sure of it.”

Harry furrowed his brow and blinked several times.

“You are tired. I suggest you figure out a temporary identity and then get some rest. I will return, as I said. For now, I must be getting back to Stella. She can be quite a nag, you know.”

“Stella?”

“My goat.” Aberforth gave a peculiar smile and a cheerful little wave. “I will see you in a week or two, Harry. You should probably stay inside until then.” He turned and went back through the door.

Several moments later, Harry could hear the sound of a door being shut firmly. He exhaled strongly and sat down in the closest chair, then realized he was still clutching the letter in his hand. “Hedwig, I’ve never been so confused in my life.”

She hooted at him reassuringly, which made Harry realize she would need a new name as well. The letter went back into the envelope, and the envelope into his rucksack. Harry picked that up and the cage, then wandered through the house until he found the bedroom. The cage went onto the dresser, and its door left opened, and the rucksack was placed by the bed. After fetching the ID out, Harry stood in front of the mirror and deliberated.

Harry finally settled on a temporary name of Alex Brown and a fairly nondescript appearance—in his opinion—with mousy brown hair, brown eyes and a face vaguely similar to Neville’s. The ID went back into his rucksack, Harry stripped down, and promptly fell into bed and went to sleep.

25 July 1995

Several days later he was desperately wishing that Albus had arranged for him to get the Daily Prophet, but he supposed that owls didn’t normally deliver that far out of Britain. Aberforth had not visited, but that was as expected, and Harry had resigned himself to tipping books off the shelves at random and reading, getting at least some pleasure in the fact that they seemed to be the equivalent of fifth year texts. Still, when his birthday rolled around he would be considered eighteen, so he had a great deal to learn.

A cursory inspection of the shelves revealed that only one of them appeared to have textbooks, while the rest held a scattering of fiction, both muggle and wizarding. It was obvious that Aberforth intended for him to purchase himself a library once he was able. Maybe Aberforth could explain how it was that Harry was supposed to make a living when he had never even taken the OWLs or NEWTs.

30 July 1995

The night before his birthday found Harry miserably lonely and morose. He had fallen into his usual habit of eyeing the clock, waiting until it ticked over into the new day. Idly he wondered, given that he was now in the middle of winter and in a different time zone, if it still counted as his birthday when the clock hit midnight, or if it would take until he was caught up to midnight in England. He eventually drifted into sleep, waking several hours later in extreme pain, floating a meter above his bed while wild tendrils of light raced through the otherwise pitch black room.

31 July 1995

When he awoke the next morning, he assumed it had been a particularly bizarre dream, that is, until he looked into the mirror when he entered the bathroom. Proof positive that the charm was still working, he looked like his disguised self. Or would, were it not for the fact that he seemed to be looking down at the image he could see in the mirror. He fiddled with the ring in order to collapse the facade and gasped.

He was, in a word, taller. He also had much, much longer hair of deepest blue-black with narrow silver streaks scattered throughout. His face was more refined, and delicately sculptured, lacking the roundness of youth and gaining the angles and planes of a more mature person. His eyes, still the same blazing green, remained exactly the same. ‘But,’ he thought, ‘they always were older, weren’t they.’

Unfortunately, with the same eyes and visible scar, he could not be mistaken for anyone but himself. He stumbled to the toilet to relieve himself, then back out and into the library, searching the shelves feverishly for something that could explain this phenomena. One book in particular seemed almost to glow to his sight, so he grabbed it and dropped into a chair to begin reading. Hours later, finished, he looked up wearily.

“Wizarding fucking puberty!? Who thinks up this shit?” he asked the empty, uncaring air. “I’m supposed to have new powers now? And I get to figure it out all by myself. Bloody hell.” He placed the book on the small table at his side and slumped, a low groan escaping his lips. “Is this why the headmaster told me to wait until after my birthday to choose a new wand?”

He rose and trudged to the kitchen, gathering up a selection of fruit and repaired to the table to eat, his thoughts awhirl with what he had read. “Then I guess I’ll just have to go through the list and try each one, won’t I. It’s not like I expect Aberforth to show up in the next five minutes to come and help me.”

6 August 1995

A knock at the front door made him raise his head suspiciously before remembering what Aberforth had said. He rose quietly and made his way into the hall, sliding along the wall until he could see who was at the door. A quick look made him exhale in relief. He stepped forward and opened the door, sticking to the shadows as Aberforth entered with a goat in tow.

The second they were inside he closed the door and turned, then gestured down the hallway. He sincerely hoped Aberforth had a good handle on his companion, else he’d be losing a few incidentals. In the lounge, he finally spoke. “Aberforth, hello. I presume this is Stella?”

“That’s right, my boy. And who have we decided to be, or are you still temporary? Interesting look, by the way.”

“Chase Caesura.”

Aberforth smiled genially and said, “I think I’ll just stick to calling you Chase. That last one is a bit difficult to get my tongue around.”

“That’s fine, sir.”

“No, no. You go ahead and keep calling me Aberforth. Are you ready to head out and do some shopping?”

“Sure. Let me just go get a couple of things.” Chase started to walk away, then stopped, slightly embarrassed. “Er, none of my things seem to fit all that well. Do you suppose you could help out with that just this once?”

“I don’t see why not. You can purchase a new wardrobe today and that will take care of it from then on out.”

“Great, thank you. I’ll be right back, then.” Chase ducked out of the room to fetch his identification just in case, along with his vault key, then trotted back to the lounge.

“Stand still for a moment,” Aberforth said, idly twirling a wand between his fingers, then pointing it at Chase. Several spells later his clothes fit fairly well, though not perfectly, and he was happy enough with the difference. Given that it was really the only set of clothing he had, he’d been doing his best to keep them as clean as possible, and was itching to get rid of them.

It was fairly bright outside, making Chase squint until his eyes adjusted, and he found himself on a relatively quiet street. “Once we have you set up today, you’ll be able to wander around on your own as you like. I just didn’t think it was a good idea for you to do so until you had replaced your wand. Such a shame you had that accident.”

“Er, yes, I agree. Is Stella coming with us?” Chase eyed the goat uncertainly.

“Definitely. People think I’m a bit touched, you see, but they know that Stella will behave herself—most of the time, anyway. You’re quite lucky. The bank is just at the end of this street, on the main thoroughfare, Sunder Street, so you never have far to walk in order to get to the shops.”

“Is this a very large town?”

“Not really. Several thousand people, I suppose.” Aberforth gave him a sidelong glance, then said, “It’s called Cleave, and if you pay attention, you’ll notice that many of the street names are similar in meaning. Someone’s idea of whimsy, I suppose.”

“Then I expect we are as divided from muggles here as they are in other countries,” Chase said.

“Oh, to be sure.” Aberforth paused to yank on Stella’s leash. “Come along, dear. The flowers will still be there later. Though, Cleave can mean almost opposites, so it’s all very confusing if you aren’t bright. Now, here is the bank. I’ll wait for you here as they get slightly upset when I bring Stella inside.”

“Right. I’ll be back, then.” Chase managed a slight smile before disappearing inside the surprisingly normal-looking multi-story building. It certainly didn’t have the twisted majesty of Gringotts. There wasn’t even a name chiseled into the edifice. Inside it reminded him strongly of Gringotts, but seemed somehow to be less dark. Perhaps it was simply that the generous number of windows let in a large amount of natural sunlight.

He stepped up to the first available goblin and requested to see his vault, handing over his key briefly. The ride down wasn’t quite as exciting as he might have expected, but the contents of his vault was. Dumbledore had obviously pulled a number of strings judging by the size, amount of money, and various other items stored within. Chase shrugged and grabbed a bag laying handily by the door, which quivered under his hand for a moment, then began stuffing galleons into it, making sure to take plenty.

Back outside, Aberforth nodded in greeting and turned, pointing part way down the street.