Number 4 Privet Drive was once to be the home of a very special boy. A boy in whom an entire world placed their hopes in, their futures on, would swear their lives by. A boy who was currently just over a year old and had barely begun to toddle well on two tiny feet but had already saved the world. A boy whose name was, as we speak, being written into history books.
Yes, this is Harry Potter I speak of. Unfortunately for him, or fortunately, since we all know the story of Harry Potter raised at Number 4 Private Drive and it wasn’t a very happy one, all in all, the family who lived at Number 4 Privet Drive, The Dursley Family, had died recently in a tragic car crash at a round-about in London. Very unfortunate, the whole thing. Grunnings was out of a mediocre worker, the street had lost their nosiest neighbor and future playgrounds would never be terrorized by the small whale known by a rather monstrously horrid name, Dudley. Harry Potter would also not be placed on their doorstep the morning of November 1st, 1981, mere hours after the deaths of his parents.
So this is where this story must start, for every story has a start. Ours starts with a funny old wizard in bright-colored robes and a pointed hat, holding our protagonist and wondering what he was going to do with a baby. Now, on we go.
Halloween night of 1981 was turning into a bittersweet celebration for one Albus Dumbledore. Voldemort, the darkest wizard to rise to power in centuries, had been vanquished. The cost of the victory was a hard one and the deaths would be soon remembered, as soon as the hangovers and partying stopped.
At the moment though, Albus was standing in front of the burning house of the family who had died to destroy Voldemort, and the only survivor was nestled in Dumbledore’s arms, sleeping, his magic exhausted. Harry Potter, the only child of Lily and James Potter, had become a sensation and a hero in a matter of hours. The same hours he had been orphaned and his only remaining guardian arrested for murder. Long, spidery fingers traced the vivid lightning bolt on Harry’s forehead, blue eyes dimmed with sadness.
“My boy, I only hope that we can provide you a better future than the tragedy you have suffered already.” The sound of displaced air drew the headmaster’s eyes upward, landing on the tall, lean figure of his Deputy Headmistress and he furrowed his brow in confusion. “Minerva, I was under the assumption that you were watching Harry’s relatives. Has something gone wrong?” The flashing of Minerva McGonagall’s eyes and the strides she took towards him had Dumbledore rethinking his plans. Something was terribly wrong then.
“The Dursley Family is dead, Albus. They died three days ago in a….motor accident? They crashed, in any case. All three of them died instantly. But that is not the problem I have with you. I spoke with some of their neighbors, as a friend of Petunia Dursley’s sister. That family, Dumbledore, was absolutely horrid. Lily’s sister was nosy and rude, Vernon was more often drunk and violent and their son was indulged with anything he wanted. You were going to leave Harry with that family?” Minerva stopped just short of being in Dumbledore’s personal space, eyes flashing and sharp. Dumbledore blinked slowly, centering himself and avoiding looking directly at his old friend. Minerva, when angry, was a very dangerous person.
“It was because of the magic Lily performed to protect Harry. He would have been safe from Voldemort with the wards I would have set up based on the magic. Now, obviously, I have to find something else.” He turned his gaze back to the sleeping child.
Minerva’s ire decreased, but she was still glaring at Dumbledore. “I was under the impression that You-Know-Who was killed. Are you saying otherwise?”
Dumbledore turned to look at her, eyes sharp. “Tom Riddle performed so many dark rituals that, in the end, he wasn’t human anymore. So when the killing curse backfired on him, it killed only the mortal part of him, his body. Turned it to dust, actually. But a shade of him, a sliver of his spirit, ran. And he will grow stronger. He will return one day, and this child will face him again. That is why I wanted to place him with his relatives. I could lay blood wards, tie them to Petunia and the protection on Harry would be infinitely greater. Now I must find another option.”
Minerva blinked. “You must be kidding.” Dumbledore shook his head. Minerva groaned. “So Harry will have to…are you certain Dumbledore?”
“A prophecy does not lie. Little Harry has been marked, and he will have to fight Voldemort again.” Harry’s fingers gripped Dumbledore’s pinky tight. “The world will rest on the shoulders of this child for many years to come. I do not envy his burden.”
The two old magicians looked down at the child sleeping peacefully in the headmaster’s arms, blissfully unaware of his destiny, his fate. His future, already plotted by a prophecy told before he was even a year old. He gurgled sleepily, not even realizing the absence of his parents, too young to care. Minerva melted.
“Can I hold him?” Dumbledore smiles and shifts Harry into Minerva’s arms. She holds him gently, smiling. “He’s so little. It’s hard to believe he stopped the Dark Lord. And now without parents. Poor boy.” She looked up at Dumbledore, sadness in her eyes. “What are you going to do, Dumbledore? What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know, old friend. I really don’t.”
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Order of Merlin, First class recipient, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, most powerful wizard in the UK, was sitting behind his desk, rocking a crying baby and trying frantically to think of any possible way to calm a child. All the children he cared for were of an age where they could be reasoned with and spoken to. This young tyke understood not a word and school was going to be starting up again soon. After the fall of Voldemort, parents were sending their children back to Hogwarts in two days and he would not have the time to care for Harry.
After the tragedy of his parent’s deaths, Harry was forced by circumstance to come with Dumbledore. Dumbledore was seriously unprepared for child-rearing, and he was coming to this conclusion after four days with the boy. Fawkes had tried his best to calm the child, but even the phoenix’s song failed and the crying level increased. The fire-colored bird had retreated at the beginning of this particular tantrum and he hadn’t returned yet. Dumbledore had tried everything he could think of to placate the boy, but little worked for long. He simply wasn’t stopping.
Madam Pomphrey had checked out Harry after the first three spells and assured Dumbledore that it was merely the return of Harry’s severely depleted magic that was upsetting him and it shouldn’t last more than another day. It had been three days since, and Harry was still crying.
Dumbledore rocked the sobbing savior and narrowed his eyes. How powerful was the child, if his magic was still returning. He reached for his wand and twirled it above Harry’s head, muttering in gaelic a spell to reveal the boy’s aura. There must be something unusual about it.
The magic rippled down from the wand and enveloped the now quiet and curious Harry, Tiny fingers reached out to touch the bubble of silvery energy, and Dumbledore watch as Harry’s own magic reached out to examine this new thing. The brilliant thing about this spell was that it would make a person’s magic visible and would bring their aura into the visible spectrum. As Harry’s magic spread out around him, examining the new, strange spell, Dumbledore’s eyes widened.
A person’s aura was very specific to their power and skill, their personality and their potential. Each one was unique, but they were only fully unique after a certain age. Most children’s auras under the age of ten shared a similar shape. Occasionally, there were those that carried the visions of their future power or potential, but many children shared an innocence that caused a formless or shapeless aura that whirled around them, free and joyful. Dumbledore’s aura was full of shimmering threads, shifting into various pictures and images, changing depending on the particular problem he was faced with. Little Harry’s was….different.
Shimmering glimmers of light, almost like stars, spun around him, colors twisting and mixing and forming new spheres of color as it interacted with the magic around its host. Harry’s eyes lit up as his hands played with the orbs, and his magic happily complied and created colorful balls for him to play with. Dumbledore could barely see Harry through the bright shine of the magic surrounding him, and as he let the aura revealing spell go, the floating balls stayed and Harry’s giggles filled the office. Dumbledore blinked, stunned. Harry was….his magic was amazing. The colors reminded him of a miracle he had seen so long ago, and to see it here, surrounding a slip of a boy, was something….something else entirely. He sat and watched Harry play and giggle until he drifted off to sleep.
He gently lifted Harry up and laid him down in the crib transfigured from a once well used book shelf. It had been a worthy sacrifice. Dumbledore gazed down on Harry, knowing that he couldn’t raise him, knowing that he would have to find someone else to show the child his path, and it broke his heart just a little. He returned to his desk and pulled out the scroll he had requested from the goblins three days before.
The Potter will. Every person on that list was either Dead, Ineligible or in prison. Sirius Black, in Azkaban, and such a horrible tragedy that was. Peter Pettigrew, Dead. Frank and Alice Longbottom. In Saint Mungo’s incurable wing. The Fleatings, Dead. Remus Lupin, a werewolf, not allowed to have Harry by Ministry standards. The Bones, Dead and Madam Bones was in no position to care for both her niece and Harry after losing her entire family. The Kingstons, Dead. And the resort Dumbledore had planned on turning to when he had discovered the spell Lily had used to protect Harry, the Dursley’s, had fallen through when Minerva told him they were dead. Little Harry was all on his own in the world.
Many magical families would love to take the child in, would be glad to, would open their hearts to this possibility, but in the wake of the destruction of the battles and the tragedies, Harry needed a stable home, one that wouldn’t praise him, raise him on a pedestal or bow to his every whim.
Fawkes swooped in, landing on Dumbledore’s chair and whistling softly. Dumbledore sighed. “Yes, I know. I can’t take him Fawkes, it isn’t within my power. Hogwarts is not equipped to deal with a small child. It just isn’t possible. I am unable to care for him like I should. I can’t raise him knowing full well I might be sending him to his death. I need someone to take him. To care for him, raise him into what he is meant to be.” Fawkes whistled again, louder. “Shhh, the child. He just fell aslee…” Fawkes shrilled impatiently, pointing with a wing at a small cylindrical device on a nearby table. A relic from Dumbledore’s past.
The old man’s eyes, now wide behind his half-moon spectacles, sparked in comprehension. Yes, yes, if he could find that man…such a strange and powerful man would be able to care for Harry, would be able to keep him safe. He was an unknown factor, Voldemort didn’t know of him, no one knew him. Dumbledore had done his research on the man after he had woken from his drunken stupor. There was no information on him, just rumors and mystery. Such a man who was able to keep his identity from being discovered, but with such power was someone who would be able to help him.
He stood and retrieved the object, examining it carefully. He remembered the day he was given it, the reasons he had been handed the strange device.
The last spell ending the duel flew through the air, a simple and almost unremarkable spell, one taught to all first year students, a simple petrification spell. But the duel had dragged on so long it was all he could do to send it at his old friend, his former love, and watch the man who had terrorized Europe and almost caused the destruction of the planet fall, still and silent, unable to move, the Elder Wand now scattered feet away from his hand.
It was over. The war, the duel, was over, and Dumbledore had ended it. He swayed on his feet, lowered his wand, and with silent tears, watched as the remaining aurors stunned the most dangerous Dark Wizard in history, trussing him up to be carted to Nu rmengard, a cruel irony that had Dumbledore chuckling weakly. Yes, he had defeated Gellert Grindelwald. He felt his heart tear just a little bit more.
When the wand that had started their obsession flew to his hand and he heard the song of its power claiming him as its master, he couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled out of his throat. Yes, the horrid irony of it all. He was now in possession of this powerfully ancient weapon. Of course. He ignored the stares from the crowd, the whispers as he staggered away to collapse at the edge of the charred and ruined landscape. He had made the biggest mistake of his life, he had nearly caused the destruction of life on earth because of his pride, his hesitance, his absolute confidence in his intelligence. The tears slipped down his cheeks.
“You are a brave man, Albus Dumbledore. I commend you.” The voice, unfamiliar but lilting with an odd, northern accent, summoned his attention fully. He looked up.
The man who had spoken to him looked young, wide face, broad smile, big ears, but Dumbledore had learned the value of looking past the features of someone’s face. His eyes were ancient. Old and powerful and infinitely sad. The smile on his lips contradicted everything he saw in his eyes. “Who are you, friend?”
The man laughed. “Yes, I suppose that would be the question, wouldn’t it? I’m The Doctor.” Dumbledore blinked. Doctor? Was this man a muggle? He couldn’t be. This area was spelled with muggle-repelling charms. He wouldn’t be able to see him.
“Doctor who? I have never seen you before and I am certain I would remember you if I had.” The man smiled, lifting Dumbledore to his feet. The Doctor had an inch or so on him.
“Just The Doctor. And no, never met before. But I must say, that was rather fantastic. And even more so, you didn’t kill him, despite everything he had done. All that misery he had dealt out. That I can only compliment you on. Any other wouldn’t have the strength to keep him alive.”
Dumbledore shook his head. “Not strength, cowardice. He is my mistake, something I must take responsibility for. Killing him wouldn’t absolve me of that burden. I have to try and help him, give him the chance to see the error of his ways, and if not, let him die of old age where he can’t hurt anyone else. He is a reminder of what I could turn into if I let myself forget that I am fallible.”
The Doctor smiled wider. “You are fantastic. The epitome of fantastic. Amazing.” The Doctor looked Dumbledore up and down. “Come on, let me get you a drink. The champion deserves that at least.” The Doctor grabbed Dumbledore’s hand and headed off, towards Hogsmeade and the pub. Dumbledore blinked at the sudden exuberance of the man who was dragging him, and wondered why he wasn’t taking offence to it, or even arguing. He decided he was too tired to raise a fuss, and if this man was going to get him a drink, well, who was he to argue? He could do with a drink. Soon he would be descended upon by the flock of reporters just waiting for him to make an appearance, to tell him of the brilliance of his duel, to compliment him on defeating Gellert, saving the world. He wasn’t quite ready for it.
The man with the old eyes wouldn’t praise him with empty words, something in Albus knew that. Every word this man spoke felt as if the world took its next breath based on it. He was still thinking when he was dragged into an empty pub. He could have sworn the door had been locked; nearly every door was locked and barred right now, considering the proximity to the dueling site, but apparently not this one. Or the Doctor had managed to open it without him realizing. Albus looked at him with a new appreciation. This man was powerful. Strangely powerful.
A chair at the bar was pulled up and Dumbledore was ceremoniously pushed into it. The Doctor ran behind the bar and pulled out a few bottles of fire whiskey, opening two and handing one to Dumbledore. “To responsibility then, Albus Dumbledore.” Albus raised an eyebrow. An odd one, this man.
“To responsibility.” He drained half the bottle. “Who are you, Doctor, to look so young yet have eyes so old?” The Doctor smiled a half smile.
“One who has lived through a war. You too have old eyes, eyes older than your age suggests. At 62 years, you have very old eyes. War and conflict can age someone past their years Albus Dumbledore. And one who has to fight for an entire world against someone who was once a dear friend will be aged even more so.”
Dumbledore blinked. “How do you know so much of me when I know nothing of you?”
“It doesn’t matter, really. Besides, you are the one who has just won.” Dumbledore shook his head.
“I have won nothing of consequence. I have merely defeated my own mistakes.”
“That is a victory in itself. It is never too late to realize your mistakes and to learn from them. I watched as you dueled your old friend, watched as you tried to change him, and realized its futility. As you hardened your hea rt and defeated him and sentenced him to imprisonment rather than death. And that was fantastic. You humans continue to surprise me. The valiant effort some of you go through to try and make things right, it never fails to astonish and surprise me. And you, Albus Dumbledore, are just fantastic. Absolutely brilliant. You are why the human race is so absolutely fantastic. You strive to fix your mistakes, to help, to change the world to be a better place. It is an honor, Albus Dumbledore. An honor. In every possible way.”
Dumbledore jerked back at those words and looked for falsehood in the Doctor’s face. There was none. Only honesty and a small amount of awe, as if he couldn’t believe Dumbledore was real. “Who are you? You say things as if you aren’t human, yet I can plainly see you are. You don’t have characteristics of any creature that would be nonhuman.”
“Doesn’t matter. I want to hear about you. You and Gellert Grindelwald. There is an interesting history there, one I am sure you haven’t really told anyone else.”
Dumbledore took another drink, feeling the fire whiskey slipping into his bloodstream and fuzzing his brain just a bit. Well, it would be a weight off his chest, and this man wouldn’t berate him for it. None of it. “Gellert and I were good friend, the best of mates. I loved him, long ago. Before we parted. I still do, in fact. He was the only one I could relate to. Only one fast enough to keep up. I was such an arrogant fool then, thinking I was above everyone because I was smarter than them. I was so angry too, at the world, at the muggles for their intolerance, at the wizards for their incompetence, and the government for its blind obedience to the public masses. We thought we could change it all. Make the world better, even if we killed some people to do it. It was for the greater good, what did a few people mean in the end.” Dumbledore looked up at the man he was speaking to, saw no judgment in his eyes. He was listening, really listening. Dumbledore finished off the bottle, reached for another. “My sister, Ariana. She had been attacked by muggle boys when she was little, when they saw her playing with magic. They beat her, she was so traumatized she couldn’t control her magic anymore, she was barely coherent most of the time and when she was, she made little sense. My dad went to Azkaban for attacking the boys and Ariana killed my mother accidentally some years later, not long after I got out of school. I met Gellert around then, when we went to live with a relative.
“He was brilliant, his mind was absolutely brilliant, maybe smarter than me. His ideas were intoxicating. They captured my attention and we planned. We would find all the Deathly Hallows, we would rule the wizarding and muggle worlds, we would make them better. Then, something changed. We fought over something in the plans, myself, my brother and Gellert. There was a duel, and Ariana was caught in the middle. She was killed. I still don’t know who killed her, but when she died, all the plans we had made fell apart there. Gellert left, off to fulfill the plan himself, and somewhere along the way he changed. He changed so much. Rituals, dark magic, it corrupted him so completely. He found the Elder Wand, he started gathering followers, capturing their minds and imaginations with thoughts of a wizard-ruled world. Then, when the muggle world broke into war, he turned Europe into a battle field.
“I couldn’t help, I just watched, kept Britain out of it, and ignored the pleas for help. Gellert had been the one person I had seen as a friend, and now I was the only one who could defeat him. The whole world cried for me to fight. When I heard of the destruction he had wrought, the muggle war he was manipulating, the deaths he had caused, I knew I had no choice. I had to fight him. He was my responsibility, my mistake, my past. I drew him here, to Britain. I challenged him, taunted him with the invisibility cloak, the location I knew well of. He came, just as planned. And we dueled.” Dumbledore paused. Looked at the almost empty second bottle in his hand, then across at the Doctor. The man’s eyes weren’t pitying, weren’t accusing or reproving. Instead, they were filled with understanding. Dumbledore let the tears he had been holding back fall down his cheeks.
“The man I had once counted among my friends, the one I have loved, I had defeated. But I couldn’t kill him. I couldn’t condemn him to death, despite his offences. It isn’t my place to decide who lives or dies. I can’t be that powerful. It was what once blinded me to the world and what it was. I couldn’t do it again. So I let him live. I let him live. And I have to live with my mistake for the rest of my life.” The bottle was empty and Dumbledore swayed in his chair. “Did I do the right thing? Was it the right choice, letting him live?” He looked across at the man with the ancient eyes.
The Doctor smiled at him. “The curse of intelligence, Albus Dumbledore, is to ask that question and to not know the answer. Gellert Grindelwald was powerful and corrupt, would have destroyed the world if you hadn’t stopped him. But in not killing him, you proved you are the better man, for he would have killed you, if in your position. You have the chance to fix your mistake, to make the world a better place. And that, Albus Dumbledore, is fantastic indeed.” The Doctor starred at Dumbledore intently, eyes peering into what seemed like his soul. The ever smiling mouth furrowed, not quite frowning but not smiling either. Dumbledore swirled the remainder of the fire whiskey in his bottle, waiting. This man would not be rushed, not unless he was the one rushing.
Then without any warning, the Doctor ran around the counter and grabbed his hand. “Come one, I’ve got something to show you.” And, just as he had been pulled towards the pub, Dumbledore was pulled out of it and towards the woods. His feet were frantically trying to keep up with the energetic man’s pace and he could barely see where he was going, aside from brushing twigs and branches out of his way.
Still, he missed a few and felt them slap his cheek. Vines dragged at his robes and his shoes, not made for running, were beginning to chaff. “Where are we going?” Dumbledore yelled once. He received a smile, wide and full of mischief, in return.
“Somewhere fantastic,” was the response. Dumbledore would have sighed if he had the breath for it. Instead, when he came to a sudden halt in front of a blue box with ‘Police’ written across the top, it was all he could to bend over and breathe hard. The enigmatic Doctor smiled and gestured grandly towards the blue box, smiling widely. Dumbledore looked up.
“And you have brought me to a muggle police box because…?” He was a little too drunk to remember his manners properly. This didn’t seem to faze the Doctor, who just smiled wider and opened the door.
“This, Albus Dumbledore, is my home. Come on, come aboard. I want to show you something.” Dumbledore stood up and regained some of his motor functions, enough to walk into the blue box. He blinked.
“These are magnificent Expansion Charms. I must compliment you. I couldn’t detect them from outside, which is quite a marvel.” Dumbledore stumbled. “Then again, I am also quite inebriated, so that is understandable.” The Doctor shook his head.
“Of course. Wizards. You lot always expect the unexpected. And here I was waiting for you to dash outside again. Ah, well, never mind. Can’t always get what you want.” The doors behind Dumbledore closed unexpectedly.”Well, you gonna stand there or come up here and join me?”
Dumbledore took a second, proper look around this place the Doctor called home. The walls were rounded, with what looked like lights peering out from almost every spot imaginable. A ramp led upwards towards a round deck, supporting an amazing array of knobs, pulls, buttons and screens. A few chairs were stationed at one side and a long column with some sort of mechanism pulsing within the casing.
Dumbledore gripped the railing upwards, keeping his balance by sheer will alone. Two bottles of fire whiskey could do a lot of damage to someone whose magic was drained, and at the moment, Dumbledore could barely summon light even if he was in the darkest of rooms. He set himself on a chair as the Doctor grinned madly at him from the other side of the decking.
“So, what do ya think of her? A beauty.” He patted the table-top, smiling at it with a fondness that filled Dumbledore’s heart with happiness. He could only nod in agreement. How could he disagree, when this man so clearly loved….whatever it was. But it was, in its own sense, beautiful. Strange and odd, but beautiful.
“What is it?” he asked softly, gazing at the buttons. He was hesitant to press them, uncertain of their function. He had learned to be cautious with someone else’s things over the years.
The Doctor paced around it, turning things and pressing buttons and pulling levers. “She is what lets me see the beauty in the world. Something, I think, you need desperately. So, hold on tight, Albus Dumbledore, ‘cause here we GO!” And, with that word, he pulled a lever with one hand and spun another dial with the other and the whole room rocked. Dumbledore nearly fell off his seat, except for the use of a quick sticking charm(harmless, miniscule magic). The room spun and Dumbledore reached for something solid to hold onto. He found only the chair next to him.
“My, this is a rather violent contraption, isn’t it? All this shaking and rocking and spinning. Is it always like this?” The Doctor grinned.
“Yep. Failed my test, actually, but she still works like a charm! Here we are.” Dumbledore felt the room stop abruptly, stop shaking and rocking and spinning. All of it, all at once, expect for a feeling of floating. The Doctor raced for the door, rushing past the still recovering wizard. “Come on, come see. It’s what I brought you out here for.”
He let the sticking charm go, stumbled off the seat and wished he could remember the words to a Sober-Me-Up spell. They were escaping him at the moment, so he tottered off towards the Doctor and his mysterious surprise. He was expecting to see some landscape or other. It was a magnificent, large-sized portkey. Now he wondered where it had dropped him off at.
If the Doctor hadn’t grabbed his arm, he would have fallen out into the blackness out of the door. He stopped, stunned. If he wasn’t mistaken, he was in outer space. But that was impossible. Some sort of brilliant illusion. A wonderful one.
“What kind of magic is this? I am unfamiliar with it. The illusion is perfect, I can’t detect a single spell holding it together. Marvelous. Absolutely amazing.” Dumbledore heard the Doctor sigh, amusement trickling into his voice as he spoke.
“Wizards, always thinking of spell work. This is no spell work, no magic of the kind you know. This, this is creation Albus Dumbledore. Look at it, at the clouds of gas swirling together, creating and building and starting a whole new solar system. Really look at it Albus, because you, who have seen so much death and destruction, are watching the earth being born. You are watching the first beginnings of the star Sol, forming the nine planets of your solar system, creating the elements for life. This is the magic of the universe, working and moving and pulling and pushing in the infinite miracle called creation.”
Each gesture and word from the Doctor rang with certainty, with truth, with absolute conviction, that Dumbledore couldn’t help but feel them ring in his soul, the echo of these words colliding with his mind, his heart, his thoughts. He looked closer, looked again, out the doors of the strange little blue box.
A cloud of multi-colored gases spun together around a bright, yellow light, folding and furling and spreading out into discs, to rings, to create the planets. The colors, reds, blues, greens, yellows, browns, oranges, blacks, every color in the world, in the universe, collecting and colliding and mixing, throwing clouds into the inky blackness, collecting and scattering, spinning furiously around and around for millions and millions of miles, farther than Dumbledore’s eyes could see.
The darkness that had been lingering behind his eyes since he had fought Grindelwald, since he had watched his sister die, since he had seen the errors of his mistake, were banished for just those minutes he gazed upon this creation, this brilliant, fantastic birth of life itself. This miracle. He felt his feet give out beneath him and sensed the Doctor lowering him to sit on the edge, dangling his legs over the door frame.
“This…this is amazing,” he breathed, just taking it in. The Doctor hummed in agreement. “This is birth, creation, where everything starts. In among those gas particles are the ingredients for life on Earth, for flowers and birds and trees and water, for kittens and clouds and every human life. The possibility for laughter and smiles and joy. It’s all here, swirling around us. This is….” He stopped, unable to find the words to describe it.
“Fantastic,” The Doctor said, kneeling behind him. “The word you’re looking for is Fantastic. It’s absolutely fantastic.”
“Yes, it is. I couldn’t agree more.” He turned to look at the remarkable man behind him. “Why are you showing this to me? Why am I the one you chose to see this?” The Doctor smiled softly.
“You, Albus Dumbledore, needed something to remind you that not everything is dark and destructive, that there is beauty in the universe. You are important, more important that you could even begin to imagine. It is my pleasure to show you beauty again, to show you the wonders of a universe killed with more life than you can begin to imagine.” The Doctor gazed out at the swirling mass of elements. “I always love watching the creation of life, there is something so uplifting about it that it never fails to remind me that there is goodness out there. I wanted to share it with someone who needed it as much as I have.”
Dumbledore looked at the man who had dragged him into a brilliant and bright world, looked at the lines on his face, the softness in his eyes. This man…his life must be remarkable, to see the hope in one as dark as he, to listen to his story, to take him to a miracle, to never once ask Dumbledore of anything. His eyes were so old, so ancient, so full of rage and sadness and anger and joy, with an impossible hope and wonder lingering behind the devastation so plain on his face. If one could ever capture the emotion his eyes communicated, Dumbledore was sure it would overwhelm some people to the point of insanity. So, instead of gushing and kow-towing to a man who had probably been bowed to by kings, he laid a hand on his arm, waited for those remarkable eyes to focus on him, and softly said,
“Thank you.” The smile he got in return was brimming with ecstatic happiness.
“You are absolutely welcome, Albus Dumbledore. Absolutely welcome.”
For a few hours, the two just sat and watched an entire solar system being born, taking in the beauty of it, basking in the fantasticness of the universe. As Dumbledore began to doze, head drooping, the Doctor led him back inside, setting him against the control panel.
“Thank you, Albus Dumbledore, for everything.” Dumbledore blinked. Those were not words he had been expecting to hear.
“Why…are you thanking…me? You have done so much for me…I cannot repay you…” The Doctor chuckled.
“Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard since Merlin himself. You gave me hope again. Watching you duel an incarnation of evil and spare his life, you gave me hope that I could change, that I could fine that in myself again. It is a wonderful thing, to see you and your existence and your future. You are fantastic, Albus Dumbledore.” Dumbledore smiled.
“You are…a remarkable man, Doctor. Your…eyes. They are so old, so full of despair and grief and hope. I…I hope you will find what you…are looking for.” Dumbledore’s eyes dropped almost closed. The Doctor laughed softly.
“Truly fantastic. Worthy of your genius.” Dumbledore felt something cylindrical being pressed into his hand. “This will call for me, if you ever need my help. Even remarkable souls need help sometimes. You can call me with this. If I am able to, I will come to give what aid I can.” He closed Dumbledore’s hand around it. “Good bye, for now, Albus Dumbledore.”
Dumbledore’s eyes closed, asleep, dreaming of swirling clouds of dust and life and creation. He woke up next to a tree, his hand still clasped tightly around the device the Doctor had given him. He smiled. Whether it had been an illusion or not, magic or real, the Doctor had given him something he hadn’t had in a while.
Hope. Hope, joy, wonder. A wonder that only small children possess, except for the man with the ancient eyes. Dumbledore pulled himself up and clutched the silver cylinder tightly. One day, one day he might see that remarkable man again, and he would be able to thank him properly, ask him why his eyes were so old, ask if things like that he had seen in the blue box were real. But until then, he would live and hope and see the world with wondering eyes for as long as he was gifted with life.
He staggered towards the sound of voices. He could deal with the horde of reporters now, now that he had that wonder in his heart. Reporters had nothing on the Doctor, they were just a nuisance.
He still remembered those hours, watching creation whizz by him, the colors. In his darkest hours, he would peer into the pensive and relive it, see it again, watch the worlds being born.
Now, in the present, with a sleeping child who had no home and only a slim chance of a future, Dumbledore turned the strange little device over in his hands. It looked as if it had not aged a day since it was given to him. The silver casing, the three bright blue buttons on the top, all still shining in the light. The remarkable man who had given it to him was powerful, powerful and dangerous and compassionate and fantastic. He was one who could raise Harry, show him the wonders of life. Now all he needed to do was call him and convince him. He had a feeling that would be harder than it seemed. He hesitantly ran his finger over the top button, pausing. He looked at Fawkes.
“Calling him is the right thing to do, right?” Fawkes chimed brightly. Dumbledore nodded with more compunction. He pressed down. As the device pulsed, he could only hope the Doctor came soon. Little Harry was starting to wake, and Dumbledore did not know how long he could take care of the small child. He rocked the cradle, hoping to lull the child back to sleep. The boy fell into a fitful slumber, fists balled beside his head. Fawkes flew over, landing at the head of Harry’s cradle, singing softly and sending the boy into a deeper sleep. Dumbledore looked gratefully at his familiar. That had certainly saved him time and a headache.
He returned to the desk and the device that had been with him for years, decades. He hoped it wouldn’t take that long for the Doctor to turn up, or that the Doctor wasn’t dead. That would be rather unfortunate. He sighed and laid his head in his hands.
“Fawkes, my dear, how are we ever going to solve this? I don’t believe anything could be as challenging as raising a child.” He heard the alert from the guardian statue chime. “Ah, that should be Minerva with the list of returning students. Something to take my mind off this whole mess.” The knock at the door followed shortly and he summoned the guest in. “Yes Minerva, I do so hope you have that list ready….” Dumbledore looked up. Yes, that was Minerva, but another person was with her, a young man in a dark blue suit and a long brown coat, glancing around his office with avid interest.
“I must say, this castle of yours is rather spectacular Albus Dumbledore. All those moving stairs and talking portraits. Brilliant, really. Such inventive use of psionic energy. You all really have manipulated it rather extensively I almost can’t recognize it. Strange things, you humans. You change so much about something so commonplace that it is so uniquely you. Brilliant!” A wide smile full of white teeth flashed across the room. Dumbledore stared in wonder.
“Dumbledore, who is this man? He just showed up, wandering through the hallways and asking for you. I must admit, he is a strange one, worse than you, if that’s possible. Talking on and on about energy and particles and stopping at all the portraits and asking them personal questions. Rather strange, if I do say so myself.” Minerva stood near Harry’s cradle, hand on the wooden frame, sharp eyes demanding answers from behind flashing spectacles.
Dumbledore stood up. “If I am correct, this is the man who once listened to my foolish rambling many years ago. Strange, though. I remember you with larger ears and less hair.” The Doctor smiled widely.
“Ah, that was a lifetime ago, really. Quite a lifetime ago. I must say, I like this face better. The hair’s thicker, though I really wish it had been ginger. Never been ginger before.” The man tugged at a lock of his hair. Minerva raised an eyebrow.
“Am I needed then, Albus? I do have that list to finish.” Dumbledore glanced back at Minerva.
“Yes, yes, that’s all good. Thank you for showing him the way. I rather suspect he would have wandered for a while otherwise.” Minerva looked sharply at the Doctor, then at Dumbledore.
“Alright then. I’ll be back later with that list.” She smiled down at the sleeping Harry. “Night Harry. Sleep tight.” She left the room, leaving the Doctor and Dumbledore alone.
“So, you’re really, him, the Doctor who showed me my miracle to me all those years ago. You look different. Any reason?” Dumbledore settled back behind the desk, looking over the man standing in front of him. He was tall, though maybe an inch shorter than he had been before, with a smaller frame and an angled face. His hair was wild, standing on end and his smile was bigger, if possible. His eyes though, were still so old, older than before. This alone convinced Dumbledore that it was the same man. No one could fake the age in this man’s eyes.
“Ah, well, you know. Things happen, change comes and goes. Time’s all wibbly-wobbly, really. Too many threads to keep straight. Spend too much time trying to figure out when things happen you’ll go mad. You just keep moving forward. All that works, in the end. Can’t change too much, otherwise it all comes back to bite you.” The Doctor picked up a whirling gizmo spewing red smoke. “This is fascinating. Monitoring the state of all the wards on this castle from the ones moving the stairs to the defense wards at the edges. Brilliant, The flux of energy around this castle must fuel the ions within the core, keeping the mechanism, spinning rapidly. The color must change depending on which ward is down. Must be the….student monitoring ward then? Since there aren’t any student here, right? Sounds right, right spin and everything….oh, and this one! You are brilliant! Keeping tabs on the ministry. Little messenger straight to you. Must be out of whack, your government. Wouldn’t have this little gadget active if it wasn’t.”
The smile wasn’t as bright when he directed it at the Headmaster, the edges were dark, grief hung around his cheeks, depression lurked in his eyes. Dumbledore resisted the urge to send a legilimacy probe towards the man, to see what had happened to dramatically alter this man’s emotional balance, his mood, his mental stability so drastically. He was sure it would be detected and he couldn’t afford to have a man as powerful as this one angry at him. So he kept his mind to himself and hoped he would find an opening to ask. He instead looked over this stranger who had saved him decades ago.
The face was young, angled and with high cheekbones. That ever smiling mouth revealed bright white teeth and tanned skin was pulled tight on a skinny frame. His shoulders were smaller, well fit in a dark blue pin-striped suit and long brown duster. In fact, his whole frame was skinny and long arms tucked hands into pockets. But still, that ancient, ageless pain still hid in his eyes, a desperation for something that Dumbledore couldn’t name. The wonder and joy he had been so inspired by were masked over by rage and pain and self-loathing that he hid well under a smile and shrug of the shoulders as he moved around the office, marveling over this spinning thing, that spewing thing, the other beeping thing. It was astonishing, how well he could hide it. He turned back to Dumbledore, hands back in pockets, wide smile on his face. “So, Albus Dumbledore, Wizard-kinds answer to Genius. Most brilliant wizard to grace the earth since Merlin; what did you call me for?”
Dumbledore cleared his throat and waved his wand, conjuring a cushioned chair. The Doctor smiled brilliantly. “You may look different, but you are much as I remember you, with your cryptic knowledge and old eyes. What ages you so fast for one who looks so young? Most with eyes that look ancient are old men with white hair and wrinkles. Their faces and their bodies show their pain. You hide yours so well behind your youthful appearance and brilliant mind that the only thing that shows your pain is your eyes. It…inspires a certain curiosity, a drive to know the man behind the mask, if you forgive the cliché.” The Doctor smiled softly, more of a lip quirk than anything else. His eyes found a small, spinning golden sphere and then looked beyond it, falling into a past that Dumbledore would never know.
He was silent for a number of minutes, mind far away from here, so far Dumbledore wondered if he had the ability to spirit-travel. Then his presence returned and Dumbledore watched the awareness return to his eyes. They looked tired now, so old. The Doctor sighed. “I apologize. A trip down memory lane is always a long trip with me.”
“Where did you go, Doctor?” He said it in a voice that was low, soft, just barely carrying over to the other’s ears. It was a voice that coaxed words out of diplomats and ten-year olds, the darkest of lords and the most mischievous children. The look he received in return was one of amusement and despair.
“I am far older than you Albus Dumbledore. Memories are a painful thing when you have lived so long. So much wrong, so much pain and guilt. Everyone has their fair share of it.” The tone wasn’t accusing or reprimanding, just soft and firm. And as close to a perfect non-answer that Dumbledore had ever heard.
A number of questions sprang to the Headmaster’s mind, probing and curious questions, and all these question Dumbledore was nearly dying to ask, but when he saw the look in those brown eyes now looking directly at him, he bottled them up and hid them.
“Sorry. My troubles aren’t yours.” The Doctor ran long fingered hands through his hair, breathed hard, then smiled. “Alright then, you didn’t call me here to talk about me. Let’s get on with it.” The Doctor leaned back in his chair, smile affixed.
Dumbledore sighed, steepled his fingers, leaned on them. He gazed at the Doctor, the seriousness of his eyes wiping the smile off ever young face. “The wizarding world is in shambles, just now recovering from devastating loss and destruction. Times are desperate for me, despite the celebration sweeping the wizarding world. Another burden of genius is knowing when foes are still alive and dangerous, despite all evidence to the contrary.” Dumbledore gazed down at the desk as the Doctor leaned forward on his knees, eyes now serious.
“I was concerned when I received your call. I had wondered if you would ever need to use it, considering your conviction to help the world and your own personal power. When I got the message, well, I couldn’t resist coming to see what it was that you called me for.” The Doctor leaned back in the chair, sighing. “You really have a talent for chair making, don’t you? Really comfortable, these. Brilliant.” Dumbledore smiled slightly.
“Yes, I am rather proud of that skill. Took me quite a while to master getting the cushioning just right. First it was too hard, then so soft I almost lost a student in one, but eventually I got it right.” Dumbledore smiled serenely, then shook his head. “A well, old matters for another time. Onto more serious matters. You remember what I told you of Grindelwald, all those years ago?” The Doctor nodded.
“His goals for the Deathly Hallows and ultimate dominion. I remember. Has he returned?”
Dumbledore shook his head. “No, not Grindelwald. One of his former followers though, followed his footsteps, then went further. He sought not only the Deathly Hallows, but immortality itself. He named himself Voldemort,” The Doctor snorted. Dumbledore grinned darkly. “Yes, Flight-from-death. A bit of mutilated French now a dark stain upon language itself. Not entirely creative in the naming process, but his mind is brilliant. Twisted and corrupt, but brilliant all the same. He managed things no wizard has in centuries and twisted himself beyond humanity. He became a thing of nightmares, cloaked in dark magic and searching for an escape from death. He searched so far that he created rituals. He became the darkest wizard in history.” The Doctor raised an eyebrow.
“And how can I help? This sounds a little beyond me, really. Magic isn’t my area of expertise.” Dumbledore shook his head.
“No, He has been defeated rather recently, which is why I am in this predicament, really. It is his defeater I need your help with.” A shrill cry rang through the air. “And there he is, awake again, so soon. Come, Doctor, meet the savior of the wizarding world.” Dumbledore reveled in the confusion on the Doctor’s face as he headed for the crib.
“What?” Dumbledore picked up the crying Harry and patted him on the back, settling the babe into hiccups and sniffles. Large emerald eyes peered at the Doctor. “What?” Dumbledore chuckled. Harry reached out for the tall man, giggling. “What?”
“This, Doctor, is Harry Potter, orphan of Lily and James Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived.” Dumbledore held out the small tyke. When a panicky expression passed over the Doctor’s face, he laughed openly. “Hold him Doctor. I am sure, in all your time, you have held a child.”
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. “Yes, but it has been many years, many lifetimes ago. Before you would even imagine…” The Doctor trailed off, taking Harry from Dumbledore. He held him on his hip, watching as Harry clutched his jacket. A smile crossed his face. “You certain this little tyke was the one who defeated this Voldemort character? He looks a little on the young side.”
Dumbledore settled back behind his desk. “Yes, Tom Riddle, his name before he took on the moniker, was defeated by this child. I must admit, Lily did perform a spell, old magic, that gave Harry some protection, but there is no true protection against the Killing Curse. That is what the scar on his forehead is from, the curse backfiring. Tom was forced out of his body, his mortal shell collapsing, and he exists as a shade, a weak shade, whose anger will fuel his growth. Little Harry is the one who has been prophesized to defeat him completely.” The Doctor, who had been watching avidly as Harry gnawed on his finger, looked up sharply.
“A prophecy of one so young? Do you have a copy?” Dumbledore nodded.
“I was present when it was delivered. Here, I can let you see it.” Dumbledore turned to his cabinet and rifled through, before returning with a stone basin. “This is a Pensive. I can show you the whole thing. One second.” Dumbledore raised his wand to his temple, drawing out a silvery-white strand and depositing it into the bowl. He stirred once, the mists following the wand tip, then tapped the side.
The Doctor watched as a figure of a woman with large glasses, wide eyes, too much jewelry and layers of clothing rose from the bowl and began speaking in a low, guttural tone of voice.
“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…”
The Doctor narrowed his brows. “That is both specific and unspecific. How do we know it is this young one here?” He gestured at Harry, who was now tugging happily on his coat. Dumbledore sighed.
“That was the conundrum. At first, it could have referred to either Harry or another boy, Neville Longbottom. However, Neville was never confronted by the Dark Lord, his parents were driven into a coma by his followers. Harry here survived the Killing Curse and that lightning bolt scar marks him. His parents faced and defied Tom three times and he was born on July 31st within months of the prophecy’s reveal. Now he is all that survives of his family.” The Doctor nodded solemnly, then blinked.
“So, Voldemort is gone for now, this is the prophecy child, what do you need me for? Has to be something important, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten a call. What, nearly thirty eight years since I saw you last, give or take?” Dumbledore nodded.
The Doctor watched as Dumbledore tapped the table speculatively with his fingers. How to best ask this question? “Harry here is without parents, yes? His other family was killed a few days ago in a motor accident, and others on his parents will as caretakers are either dead or ineligible for the position of caretaker. So, well, Fawkes here…” Fawkes, who had sat and watched the proceedings with interest, squawked indignantly. Harry giggled, Dumbledore looked sheepish, and the Doctor looked like he was starting to catch on.
“Oh no, you have got to be kidding. A joke, right? No no no, this isn’t going to happen.” The Doctor looked between the child on his lap and the old man seated across from him. “You cannot just ask me to raise the savior of the wizarding world. I am not qualified. No no no no no, not happening.”
Dumbledore sighed. “You have to understand, Doctor, you are my last hope. The wizarding world is in shambles. His mother’s family was killed a week ago, all his father’s family is dead. His father’s friends are either dead, in prison or banned from having children due to idiotic laws. Those named on the will are dead or insane. There is no one I can turn to to keep Harry safe. You, Doctor, you whose name isn’t found anywhere, you, who can change your face and appear in Hogwarts, you, who have seen so much of life, can keep him safe. I know you can. I need him safe, raised well. Raised to become who he is meant to be.”
The Doctor looked at Dumbledore with sharp eyes. “And I can do a better job than you? You run a school full of children, practically run the government, and are rather brilliant. You can’t think of anything to keep him safe besides giving him to a complete stranger? Are you daft?” Dumbledore smiled widely.
“Daft is probably the least offensive word used to describe my state of mind, but no matter. The brilliance of the plan, Doctor, is that you are an honorable man who is also brilliant and could probably run a government if you put your mind to it. The fact that you are a stranger is a bonus, because if I could not find any information on you, I am certain Voldemort would be unable to as well.”
The Doctor grimaced. “And why would I be a better choice than you? I have destroyed more of the universe than you will ever see, I have lost more people to my own actions than exist on Earth. I couldn’t even take care of my own friends, their family. Why am I, someone who Death follows, a better candidate for child raising than you?” Dumbledore blinked. He felt like he was blinking a lot with the Doctor around. But the emotions he had seen in the man’s eyes were harsh. Dumbledore knew that Harry would give him back his hope and wonder just as he would keep Harry safe.
“Besides the fact that I have no idea on how to handle children younger than ten for any extended period of time? I am a busy man. I can’t keep him close or safe, and I am too easy a target for Tom. It would be obvious of Harry’s location, and I can’t very well leave my responsibilities behind. I am unfit to raise a child. I failed with my own sister and with Tom himself. I don’t trust myself to raise him properly.” Dumbledore looked to the ground as Fawkes trilled sadly behind him. “And you , Doctor, you say such harsh things about yourself, but even I can see you flinch at your own words. Your regret and guilt inspire the best in you, something I have a hard time doing. You can teach Harry so much I cannot.” ‘and he can teach you’ he thought.
The Doctor looked at Harry pensively, looking deep into his soul. The energy of the Time Vortex swirled around the small child, more energy than he had seen in years. The boy’s emerald eyes stared back at him from within the energy, bright and green. The power within this child, his capabilities, they were beyond belief. He looked back at Dumbledore. “You know how powerful he is, the strength of his magic?” Dumbledore nodded sharply.
“Yes. It is a reason I wish him to go with you. His own power is much like a beacon, and without a shield he is visible for miles to those who know how to sense him. You, with your mysteries and impossible existence, would be able to hide him. Of that I have confidence. Please, Doctor, you are my last chance, my last hope for him. Young Harry deserves to have a life, one I could not provide him with. His own future, already foretold, is dark. I don’t know if I could raise him in good conscious, without corrupting him irrevocably.” The Doctor’s eyes flashed dangerously, and Dumbledore shrunk back in his chair at the intensity.
“So you would ask me to raise him, ready him for a battle he may die in, so you would not have to?” The Doctor searched Dumbledore’s face for an answer, saw the truth of that statement, and frowned sharply. “You, Albus Dumbledore, have grown too complacent with your life over the years, comfortable in your position behind the desk, manipulating the strings and never on the frontlines. You fear it, your own power, your ability to destroy utterly whatever is in your path and you haven’t learned how to harness that strength. If I didn’t fear what you would turn such an innocent into, I would leave him with you out of spite, to make you learn.”
Dumbledore sat up in his chair, hope in his eyes. “So you will take him?” The Doctor looked down his nose. For a moment, that feeling of absolute submission he swore he would never feel again, not after Grindelwald and the death of his family, made his breath catch and he resisted the urge to fall to his knees and beg forgiveness.
“What has happened to the courageous man I met all those years ago? That man wouldn’t hesitate to raise Harry into a wonderful man, but you call a complete stranger to take him off your hands because you don’t trust yourself?”
Dumbledore frowned. “The years have not been kind. My mistakes have given me food for thought, and you are right, I don’t trust myself to raise him. I fear I wouldn’t do him justice, that I would impart too much of an old philosophy on a world that needs new eyes, new perspectives.”Blue eyes looked up into brown. “You are a dynamic, changing and brilliant man, Doctor, one I would trust to give that perspective to the future of this world.”
The Doctor laughed softly, before hoisting Harry higher on his hip. “I will take Harry, but you will have no part in his life. He will be beyond your reach, even with all your gadgets and gizmos here.” The Doctor took a moment to inwardly curse his need to protect the innocent. “Harry will not be what you expect him to be when you see him next.”
The elderly wizard frowned. “What do you mean, beyond my reach? He is to be schooled here when he turns eleven. Will you bring him back then?”
The Doctor looked down at the child he was holding tightly to him. “He will be back when he needs to be, not a moment earlier. Good bye, Albus Dumbledore. I hope you regain some of that brilliance I saw in you when I met you all those years ago.” Dumbledore watched the door close and Harry leave his life, held in the arms of one of the most dangerous men he had ever seen. The Doctor was probably more dangerous than Voldemort; infinitely more compassionate, but infinitely more dangerous.
He ran a hand through his beard and stared at Fawkes, who was watching him with amused eyes. “I suspect that, while I was successful in my endeavor I was also outsmarted in the end. It has been a while, my friend, since someone got the better of me.” Dumbledore frowned. “What a remarkable man. Harry shall be rather magnificent, raised by such a man.” Fawkes trilled his agreement. The guardian alert went off, and Dumbledore sighed. Minerva again, most likely. Hopefully with the list and not asking why the man she had escorted in here scarcely and hour ago was now leaving with Harry Potter in his arms.
Unfortunately for him, she did not have a list. She instead had a stern expression that turned sharply downward as she glanced at the empty cradle. “What did you do Albus? Why did I just see that man walk off with Harry? Who is he? What is he doing with the boy? How do you know him?” Dumbledore gestured to the chair still in front of his desk.
“Sit, Minnie. I expect I shall have a bit of explaining to do.” Minerva huffed, but sat anyway. She spun her wand and conjured some tea, pouring two cups before leaning back.
“So then, start Albus. I have plenty of time.” Dumbledore sighed.
“That man is the man who is going to be raising Harry Potter. He is the man who, when I had defeated Grindelwald, took me out for a drink and made me tell him my story. He listened and didn’t judge. He showed me beauty in a world that, at the time, was endlessly dark. He was….he was remarkable. And he came when I called for him, and he proved once again how remarkable he was. He is the only one to have ever seen so easily through me, through my plans, outsmarted me, and proved just how insignificant I am. And I trust him to raise Harry right.”
Minerva held her cup close to her mouth. “But who is he?”
Dumbledore shrugged. “Honestly, I am not really sure. His name is The Doctor. Other than that, I don’t know much. But if I don’t know much, then neither will Voldemort, and that means Harry will be safe. He will be kept safe and raised well, beyond the reach of whatever Tom Riddle has become. It is the only hope we have left, Minerva. I took it. I only hope that, in the end, Harry will be what he was meant to be.
Minerva stared at Dumbledore. “For all our sakes, I hope you are right Albus. Because you just gave the savior of the wizarding world to a stranger whose name we don’t even know. If this ever gets out, I can’t imagine the outrage the public will express, not to mention the ministry.”
Dumbledore sighed. “I imagine it wouldn’t be pretty. But right now, and for the next few years, they will be too busy setting it all to rights so by the time they come asking me for the location of Harry, he will be hidden with his mother’s relatives in a remote corner of England. I have time to create a believable story. Now we can only hope Harry will reappear by the time he is to start Hogwarts.
Minerva frowned but didn’t say anything. She sipped at her tea and stared at the wooden cradle that, for four days, held the savior of the wizarding world. Now, he was who-knows-where with a stranger. She wasn’t seeing a happy ending.
Dumbledore stared at the calendar on the wall. It was September 1st, 1991. The day Harry was to start Hogwarts. Unfortunately there had been no sign of him at Platform 9 3/4s, the owls that held his letters merely circled around the castle, flying absolutely no where, and all of Dumbledore’s scrying equipment had failed dramatically. So he was now hoping that The Doctor would return with Harry sometime before the feast, showing up mysteriously as he had last time.
He reached for the cylindrical device he had used last time to call the Doctor and pressed the top button. Maybe he would respond to the summons. Dumbledore would only hope.
But, as the Sorting took place and the feast passed with no sign of Harry Potter or the Doctor, he sighed. Minerva’s glares from the stool, then from beside him, were overwhelming. The ‘I-told-you-so’ look had him glancing away. Dumbledore searched the hall again, connected to the castle. No activity, no mysterious appearances. The Doctor had not returned with Harry. The Headmaster could only hope that he would bring the boy soon. Maybe a minor delay. He could only wait and hope.
The first week of school passed, and with it, the whispers had spread. Where was Harry Potter? Was he going to a different school? Was he dead? Was he captured? Killed? Imprisoned? And those were the normal rumors. There had been one that declared Harry had gone to live with the mer-people of the Mediterranean and had turned into a fish, and another that swore Harry was in retreat to the Tibeten mountains with monks and was training to become a priest.
Unfortunately for Dumbledore, Harry Potter’s absence meant the Ministry got involved. He had to sigh at the idiocy of the people. An entire world praising and idolizing on a boy barely eleven years old and panicking when he wasn’t at school. Now the might of the wizarding government was coming to bear on the shoulders of the one who was responsible for taking care of the boy, and his own staff were beginning to send looks his way. Minerva was the worst of them all. She had been spitfire after the Sorting, he recalled. Yelling all sorts of words at him, at letting Harry go with that ‘strange man’ then losing track of him completely. She had broken a few of his whirring devices and had a good hissy fit before collapsing in a chair.
“What are we going to do Albus? Harry Potter not coming to Hogwarts not only causes a spectacle of you, but soon, when He returns and Harry is not here, the moral of the wizarding world will fall.” Dumbledore looked at his Deputy Headmistress and sighed.
“Honestly, Minerva, I really don’t know. I haven’t managed to get in contact with the Doctor and not even Fawkes can find Harry. We will just have to hope he returns soon. It is early in the year yet, there is still time.”
Minerva gave him a glare over her spectacles but said nothing. She just sunk further into the chair. Together, they sat and contemplated the future.
October 31st, 1991. Almost two months with no sign of the Doctor or Harry. Minerva had been ignoring him, Severus had been gloating and Hagrid was beginning to worry. The Ministry was beginning to question Dumbledore’s competence and the man himself was wondering if he had made the right choice all those years ago. The Great Hall, filled with floating candles, enchanted pumpkins, flying bats, was merely informing Dumbledore that Harry was still missing.
He toyed with his glass of pumpkin juice, staring into its depths. Harry was missing, the Doctor hadn’t answered his summons yet, and anyone of importance in the world was sending him daily letters and missives and a few Howlers. He needed to find the boy soon, very soon, before his sanity gave out.
He was so lost in thought that he didn’t realize the hall had fallen silent until he felt a wind blow, rustling his beard, and a strange, steadily increasing sound, like waves of a soft alarm, fill the room. He followed the gazes of every student until his eyes landed on a slowly appearing blue box with ‘Police’ written across the top.
He would never forget that sound, that noise, that box. The box that showed him creation. He rose to his feet, ignoring the questioning glances sent his direction. That was the Doctor’s box, the Doctor’s home. The one that Harry left in ten years ago. He was back. Slightly late, granted, but he had returned.
The door creaked open, and a small, black-haired head peered out, bright emerald eyes glittering in the candlelight. “Um…Dad? I think we’re a couple months late. It’s…what’s that holiday with the pumpkins and bats?”
“Halloween Harry, Halloween. Jeez, it’s like you all forget about these things.” A deeper voice answered the boy. Harry smiled, stepping out into the hall.
“Sorry we don’t have a calendar in the TARDIS Uncle Jack.” Harry glanced back, a sneer on his face. “So yes, we landed on Halloween, October 31st, by the looks of things. Weren’t you aiming for late August?”
The face of the man Dumbledore knew as The Doctor appeared. “Ah well, a couple months late, right? Not like I’m a year, or a century, off. Done that before. Met the queen then. Brilliant time. Lupine wavelength variform. Anyway, it’s 1991. Besides, I love Halloween. The costumes, the candy, it’s brilliant.”
“Is there anything that isn’t brilliant to you Doctor?” a female voice said, its ownder sliding out of the door. She looked young, blonde and pretty. The Doctor wrapped an arm around her waist.
“Nothing at all!” he said brightly.
Harry rolled his eyes as a man in suspenders and boots stepped out the door. “It’s like they forget there’s others in their vicinity,” Harry complained. The suspendered man chuckled. Said something in reply.
He was too far away to hear their conversation clearly, especially now that the students had begun clamoring again, until the door slammed open and Professor Quirrel stumbled in, shaken and reeling. The four interlopers looked at him, eyes bright and interested.
“Tr—troll…in the dungeon.” He swayed. “Thought you aught to know.” Then he fainted dead away, loud enough that the crack of his skull on the floor echoed around the room.
“Oh, that had to hurt. Stone is not friendly to pass out on,” Harry said. The students had stayed quiet longer than he expected them to. Dumbledore had lifted his wand in preparation to cast a quietus on the room. “Hey Dad, can I go check it out? I haven’t seen a troll in ages!”
The Doctor raised an eyebrow but he wasn’t saying no, which was what Dumbledore expected from him. A look at the gentleman in the overalls.
“Only if you take Jack with you.”
Harry sighed, put out, then smiled and bounced on his feet. “Awesome! Come on uncle Jack!”
“Oi, you two, no technology! You remember Diagon57!” Harry flushed suddenly, then nodded. They dashed out the still open doors before the staff could say anything.
“Was that really smart Doctor, sending those two? You know what kind of damage they do.” The blonde haired woman said, turned to look at the Doctor. The Doctor sighed, looking up and around, then froze as he saw all eyes on them.
“Oh, Rose, People.”
Rose sighed and shook her head.
Minerva wondered what had just happened.
Dumbledore smiled jovially. “Doctor, welcome to Hogwarts!”