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To Trust

Chapter Text

A small, black-haired boy sat cross-legged at the end of a silent, dark alleyway dimly lit by a few ancient street lamps. He rolled a small object from one hand to the other, which were mostly obscured by the overlong sleeves of his dark-colored jacket. The rest of his body remained perfectly still, green eyes glowing strangely in the moonlight, staring straight ahead unblinkingly. To an onlooker, had there been one, he may have appeared almost statuesque, only the slow, deliberate movement of his hands proving otherwise.

The silence was suddenly broken by a muted clicking sound, after which one streetlamp promptly blew out. This was not a strange occurrence; the streetlamps were long past their prime. The boy immediately stiffened, however, his eyes darting rapidly from left to right. There was another click, and a second lamp blew out. The boy tensed, if possible, even further, and he rose swiftly from his seated position. His gaze settled upon something at the other end of the narrow alleyway, which gradually made itself known to be a tall, thin figure swathed in robes, which fluttered slightly in the gentle breeze of the cool summer’s night.

The figure raised a long arm, pressing down on a small object clutched in its hand, and the third and final streetlamp went out, leaving the alleyway in near complete darkness. A long, thin, sticklike object was then drawn and flicked, and a bright ball of light appeared at its tip. The sudden brightness revealed the figure’s face to be one of an elderly man with a wrinkled, grandfatherly face sporting small, half-moon shaped glasses. The eyes behind them were a clear, twinkling bright blue, and they were focused upon the small, black-haired boy at the other end of the alley.

The expression on the man’s face seemed wistful, as though he was reminiscing over an occurrence long past. "Déjà vu,” he mumbled to himself, then appeared to pull himself back to the present. After gazing searchingly at the small boy for a few moments, the elderly man smiled. 

“Ah… Harry,” he said softly, drawing closer to the boy, the confidence in his gait belying his years.

The boy remained where he was, fingering something in the pocket of his worn jeans, tense as a coiled spring.

The elderly man spoke again. “I’ve been looking for you for quite a few days, Harry. I’m glad to find you safe.”

The boy twitched slightly, but said nothing, apparently content to stare piercingly at the man.

“This is quite an unsafe area,” the man continued, clearly unperturbed by the boy’s silence. “It is quite fortunate that you have not come to harm.”

Again, the boy did not respond, but he took a small step backwards.

The elderly man lost his smile, replaced by a sorrowful expression. “I’m terribly sorry about your relatives, Harry,” he said gently. “To lose the ones we love is painful beyond words.”

A strange expression crossed the boy’s face fleetingly before returning to a determined blankness. He then finally spoke.

“Who are you, and what do you want from me?”

The man looked sad, and, if possible, even older than he had before.

“Why, Harry,” he said, “with your family gone, you surely need a place to stay. After all, it will be several months until you begin your schooling. I have therefore made arrangements for you to reside in the home of a trusted colleague of mine until that time.”

“You didn’t answer the first part of my question.”

“Ah, alas, you are correct. In my old age, my thoughts tend to wander, often down strange paths.” The man smiled again, as though attempting to make the boy feel more at ease. The boy looked unamused, however, and continued to stare at the man, patiently awaiting his answer.

“I am Professor Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts.”

The boy raised his eyebrows, clearly unsatisfied with the answer. “What’s that got to do with me?”

The elderly man looked surprised. “Surely you have heard of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry. Did your relatives not inform you of its existence?”

The boy’s eyes narrowed slightly, and one could almost hear the mechanics of his mind whirring at top speed. He remained silent, however, his stare intensifying.

The man sighed. “Clearly not. I admit I did not foresee that occurrence, for all my supposed omniscience.” The man seemed to be talking more to himself than the boy, who continued to gaze unblinkingly at him.

“Did you aunt tell you nothing of your heritage, child?”

A flash of understanding crossed the boy’s face. “If you’re talking about me being magical, I’m aware of that.”

The man looked relieved. “I suppose she simply preferred not to discuss the matter with you at length?”

“You could say that.” The boy’s answer was somewhat sharp, a hint of irony flavoring his tone.

“Well, Harry,” said the man. “Hogwarts is a school which houses many children like you, where they learn to develop and control their magical powers. If I’m not mistaken, you should be receiving your letter of acceptance within the next two months. You will be turning eleven this July, as I recall?”

The boy nodded slowly.

“I’m glad we cleared that up, then.” He dug his hand into his pocket, pulling out a handful of small, yellow sweets. “Lemon drop? I have found them to be quite tasty, and rather soothing as well.” The man sucked on one slowly, momentarily gazing off into the distance. “Forgive an old man’s ramblings, but they say the sense of smell serves as a powerful connection to one’s emotions. As taste is closely related to the sense of smell, it is unsurprising that food can be such a comfort. ”

The boy shook his head, eyes tracking every one of the man’s movements

“No? Ah, well, all the more for me, I suppose,” he said, popping another into his mouth.

“Now, back to the matter at hand. I do tend to ramble,” he continued. “Why did you leave your relatives’ home upon their deaths, Harry? It seems a rather rash thing to do.”

“I didn't.”

“You did not run away from home?” Dumbledore asked, seemingly puzzled. “Then how did you come to be in London, child?”

This time, the boy did not answer, his gaze darting away.

“Did someone bring you here?” Dumbledore asked. “There were no signs…” his voice trailed off.

The boy tensed, his arms drawn unconsciously over his chest.

“What’s it to you?”

Dumbledore sighed. “Very well,” he said, “I suppose I will leave it for now. Will you consent to join me, Harry, so I can escort you to your new home?”

The boy looked, for a moment, slightly amused, though there was little true mirth in his expression. “They say you shouldn’t take rides with strangers, especially the ones who offer you sweets.”

Dumbledore chuckled. “You are correct, Harry, your caution is most admirable. Am I truly a stranger, though?”

“Yes.”

Dumbledore, though saddened, did not seem unduly surprised by his response.

“I knew your parents quite well, Harry, and they entrusted me with your safety should anything prevent them from doing so themselves.”

The boy's expression shifted, then, into what could only be described as pained, though muted, as though it had not been given the space to be fully realized. It made him appear smaller, somehow, as though he'd shrunk in on himself despite not moving a muscle.

That change was not lost on the older man, whose mouth twisted slightly, as though he'd tasted something bitter. “Your parents loved you dearly, Harry, and all they wanted for you is to live a long, happy life.”

The boy drew in a breath as though to speak, but he then closed his mouth, pressing his lips together.

Dumbledore studied the boy for a moment, a sad, yet fond look on his face. “You do so remind me of your mother, Harry. You have her eyes, but I’m sure you knew that.”

The boy’s hands clenched, and his eyes darted, unsure of where to land their gaze. He then seemed to school his emotions, settling for a mask of indifference.

Dumbledore did not appear fooled, but he said no more on the topic.

“Would you join me, Harry? I assure you, your mother was quite the formidable witch, and should you come to any harm in my hands, she would no doubt find a way to render me bound and unconscious, alive or not.”

Dumbledore waited patiently, as the boy appeared to undergo a brief debate in his mind. He seemed to come to a conclusion, and took a careful step towards the older man. Dumbledore, pleased, held out his right arm. “You will want to grasp my arm, Harry, as we will be utilizing a method of travel known as Apparition.”

The boy slowly reached out a hand, hesitantly wrapping his fingers around the man’s forearm.

“Brace yourself, child. The trip may be… unsettling.”

The old man and the black-haired boy then promptly vanished with a faint pop.