Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere,
nor can one England brook a double reign.
—William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1
Part One—Chapter One
Little puffs of bright colored smoke appeared from the end of his wand, making the baby that sat in his lap grin and try to reach out and grab it. James smiled down at his son Harry, chuckling at the way the baby had not yet discovered that smoke would slip through his fingers like the water in his bath. Twisting the mahogany wand, a bunny rabbit appeared, hopping around the room and making Harry laugh before James went back to simple puffs of purple and green.
“All right there, Potter?”
James looked up to see his wife standing in the doorway, smiling at him and their son. Her face was relaxed and radiant, and when she looked at him that way, he had a hard time staying seated rather than crossing to her side. To James’s mind, there was no one in the world as beautiful as his wife Lily. Grinning, he replied, “Just fine, Evans.”
Though he and Lily had been married for two years now, it had become a bit of a joke between them to call each other by their last names when they were being playful, as they had done in school.
She came into the room, crossing over to stand in front of the couch. “Is our little pumpkin ready for bed?” Lily asked. They had dressed Harry in a pumpkin baby costume for a couple of hours earlier that night to celebrate Halloween. It was one of Lily’s traditions, not James’s, but when they had married James had agreed that any children of theirs should know where they came from.
Sometimes, James would blank on the fact that Lily had not been born knowing she had magic. Magic came so easily to her that he often forgot she was a Muggle-born. And until another magical child had seen her do magic and explained what she was, Lily had no idea that the Wizarding World even existed. For James it was the opposite. He had been born to an old pure-blood family, one that could trace its lineage back thousands of years to their origins in Normandy. He had been living and breathing the magical world since the day he was born. Then the two of them had met at Hogwarts, and after many years, and some effort on James’s part, they had fallen in love and married. To James’s mind, it had all been perfect until that bleeding prophecy. (But no, he wouldn’t think about that now. He wouldn’t let Voldemort intrude on their family tonight.) Yet, no matter how often he forgot that Lily wasn’t descended from some old family, he was always reminded on things like the ancient feast days. They combined their traditions together, blending the old and the new.
That night was Samhain as well as Halloween, one of the few feast days in the Wizarding World, and that meant it was a time for family. Earlier in the evening, Lily and James had celebrated with a feast for the dead, setting places at the table for both sets of their departed parents, as well as James’s cousin Harold and his paternal grandparents Edmund and Coraline Potter, and his maternal grandparents Hamnet and Imogen Dagworth-Granger. James had also lit candles of commemoration, and told the tales of his ancestors during dinner. It all would have been perfect if they had been in Hollowed Hall, which sat empty on the edges of Godric’s Hollow, the town they currently lived in. (Because they were in hiding, the Potter ancestral home remained vacant while they stayed in a small cottage at the other end of the town. Hiding in plain sight, Dumbledore had called it.) Still, not being in his home meant little to James in the face of the safety of his family.
“It’s time for the little one’s bedtime,” Lily said, pulling James out of his thoughts. She leaned over, her long red hair falling forward. James plucked Harry off of his lap, handing him to Lily.
He then stood, throwing down his wand on the sofa and yawning. James was tired. It was a full body weariness that only comes after years of toil and trouble, and the constant threat of death. His mind was just as tired as his body, and he wondered, just for a moment, what it would be like to sleep without fearful nightmares. When it was all over, the war, all of it—James was going to take Harry and Lily away on a nice, long holiday. Maybe then he and Lily could get started on that second baby they had been talking about. He longed for that day, just as he sometimes feared that it would never happen.
As if the gods themselves had heard his thoughts, the door to the small cottage burst open in a flash of sparks and broken timber. James’s heart dropped into his stomach as that which he had feared became a horrifying reality. The former Gryffindor moved to run into the hall before logic exerted itself, and he first grabbed his wand. He then rushed into the entranceway and saw none other than Voldemort himself stepping over the threshold.
“Lily!” he screamed. “Take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off!” All the while he yelled, he shot two exploding spells back to back at Voldemort, which the other wizard dodged, but they hit the small table behind him, causing the Dark Lord to be pushed back slightly by the force of the blasts.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. They were supposed to be safe. Poor Peter, James thought silently, thinking of his friend who must surely be dead from having the secret of the Potter’s location tortured out of him.
He only allowed himself a split second for that thought though, as Voldemort quickly recovered and a volley of spells began. The Dark Lord sent a few Killing curses towards him initially, but in the small space, it was easy for James to block them with transfigured ornaments and chairs which took the hits for him. James Edward Potter wasn’t a Transfiguration genius for nothing, and he could defend that way for plenty of time to allow Lily to escape.
Voldemort either recognized Lily might flee with Harry, or grew annoyed and wanted to cause James pain. His curses quickly reflected that. With a downward slash, Voldemort sent a streak of purple flame through the hall which passed right through the figurine which had been transfigured to intercept it, clipping James on his left shoulder. The younger wizard grunted, clenching down on his jaw. He wanted to scream in agony. The blood boiling curse was one of Antonin Dolohov’s favorites, and it wasn’t the first time it had been used against James in battle, but Voldemort’s was much more powerful than any mere Death Eater’s.
Ignoring his pain, the younger man screamed out, “Confringo!
” which shattered a wall and sent shards of wood toward Voldemort. James was pleased to see that they embedded neatly in their target.
The next several moments James simply spent on defense, knowing the older wizard was looking for an opening as curses were sent back and forth. There was no question as to who was the more powerful and learned warlock, though James knew that his skills did allow the amount of time he might live to increase from seconds to minutes. Still, Voldemort was going to win. James knew it in his bones. He would die this day, but hopefully, Lily and Harry might live. With any luck, they were already away and Dumbledore was greeting them at the gates of Hogwarts.
Then, it was over.
A sickening flash of yellow hit the younger man, and the moment Voldemort had been waiting for arrived. James collapsed to the floor, his dragon heartstring wand slipping from his fingers and snapping under him when he fell. He nearly fainted at the sight of his own entrails spilling out of his now open abdomen. Blood filled his lungs, causing him to cough it up so that it spilled over the corners of his mouth and down his chin. Still, he felt no pain. Perhaps there was simply too much to feel it any longer. This was the moment, James was sure.
The sound of booted footsteps was scarcely heard by the dying man as the monster called Voldemort moved forward. Standing over James, a ghost of a smile lit his snake-like face. “I hadn’t thought to enjoy this so much,” he hissed. “Still, killing off the Potter line gives me great pleasure. How mighty you would have been by my side, young James. How pathetically you die now. The Most Honorable House of Potter,” he sneered. “Not unconquered now, are you?”
A creak of the floorboards on the upper levels of the cottage caused Voldemort’s head to snap up. His slitted nostrils flared like a bloodhound’s who had just scented his prey. Horror filled James in that moment as he realized something: Lily and Harry were still in the house!
Had they waited for him, or was the emergency portkey not working? It was only then, when Death nearly had James in his grasp that the eldest living Potter felt the warded spell which had settled over the house. It prevented all forms of magical travel, and allowed nothing to leave the dwelling once inside.
They were all trapped, then.
Voldemort looked down at James once more, his face contorted in a parody of a smile. “I had intended to dispatch you quickly, but perhaps I shall save you for last. How pleasurable it shall be to know that you are down here, drowning in your own blood, while I am killing your heir upstairs. And as for your wife, well—Severus does seem to have a fondness for mudbloods. I wonder how long she will last once he has her in his clutches?” High laughter escaped the Dark Lord. “Really, Prongs
,” he mocked, stepping away from James’s body towards the stairs. “Don't you know? Never trust a rat.”
Horror filled James at that moment, his eyes bulged as blood flowed freely from every orifice of his body. Something hot like anger filled his mind, but it quickly dissipated. He couldn’t spare a thought for the treason that led to the bloody puddle in which he lay. All he could think of was Lily in white dress robes, and then again as she smiled in triumphant exhaustion when she presented his son to him. He heard Sirius’s bark-like laughter echo in his mind, accompanied by Remus’s deep chuckles. Then there was Dorcas wearing those hideous mittens her mother had made her that winter when they were seven, grinning impishly at him the moment before she threw a snowball in his face. And Marlene as she tossed him the Quaffle, pumping her fist in the air when he scored. He could feel his cousin Harold lift him onto his shoulders, and the warm pressure of his Grandfather Edmund’s hand as he patted James on the back. And then there was his mother, smiling at him with contented pride, and his brave father with a spark of eager mischief in his eye. And then Harry—face scrunched in anger when he woke hungry, his bright green eyes wide with amazement as he took in the world, smiling when he ate mashed bananas and turning his head away from carrots, laughing when Sirius turned into a dog and chased Lily’s cat Skimbleshanks, and beaming wildly when he rode around on his toy broomstick.
All these things flickered in his minds’ eye, and he saw them as clearly as if they stood in front of his face. His eyes were slowly closing as he lost blood; the effort to keep them open was too much. Just as they were flickering shut, he could have sworn he saw his parents and grandparents, along with Marlene, and his cousin appear in the small hall. They didn’t look right, almost like they were see-through, but he didn’t have time to complete the thought as unconsciousness claimed him and his heart began to slow.*~*
The giant motorbike had barely touched the ground when Sirius vaulted off it, running as fast as he could to small cottage which sat in ruins. Rubble was strewn across Lily’s neatly cared for garden, crushing the roses and the fortnight lilies which had grown in the flower beds. The gate flew open ahead of him, the banishment charm the one wandless spell the young wizard had ever mastered besides the Animagus transformation. The autumn air was cold, but Sirius didn’t even feel it as he ran up the path. His feet hardly met the ground as he practically flew into the crumbling house.
There, in the front hall, all of his worst fears were realized. Letting out a howl that sounded like an aborted scream, Black ran forward, falling to his knees in the pool of blood which promptly soaked into his robes. His cries came forth unchecked as he pulled the corpse of his best friend into his lap. Sirius’s sobs echoed in the small space, sounding as though an animal had been wounded terribly. Teardrops fell on James’s face, merging with the trails of blood that trickled out from his nose, mouth, and eyes.
The man looked up at the sound of his name, reflexively pointing his wand, it flying from his back pocket in a smooth motion that had been practiced thousands of times. Sirius Black’s eyes were narrowed and fierce—full of anger and defiance which was at odds with the tearstained cheeks he sported—as he turned his head expecting to see Voldemort or one of his Death Eaters walking down the stairs. Instead, his eyes lighted on a friend. Black relaxed once he took in the gigantic man that stood at the foot of the stairs with a bundle in his arms. “Hagrid,” he replied hoarsely. His eyes filled once more. “Lily and Harry too?”
“Lily’s still up there, I couldna bear ter move her. But lil’ Harry, he’s fine.”
“What?” Sirius gasped, easing James’s head to the floor before rushing over to Hagrid. Sure enough, within the bundles of blankets, Harry lay, sniffing quietly. He looked up then at his godfather, blinking tiredly. Normally when Sirius visited, Harry screamed out a happy welcome before rushing over to him as fast as his unsure legs would allow, but now he just lay there, looking exhausted. “How?” was all Sirius managed to gasp out.
“Don’ rightly know,” Hagrid said adjusting his hold on Harry. “Though’ fer sure he was a goner too, but Dumbledore asked me to fetch him, an’ sure enough there he was.”
“Hagrid, what happened here?” Sirius asked, looking around at the wreck that had once been his friend’s borrowed home.
“He’s gone, that’s what,” Hagrid said. “You-Know-Who’s been done in. Dumbledore himself told me so. He fought lil’ Harry here, an’ lost.”
“What?” Sirius gasped. “How?”
“Lily and James are dead so none can say ‘cept lil’ Harry and he’s not talking,” Hagrid said with a great shrug.
Sirius stifled a sob, biting down on his knuckles almost hard enough to draw blood. With a shaky breath, he said, “Give Harry to me, Hagrid.” When the giant man didn’t so much as move, he added, “I’m his godfather; I’ll look after him.”
“No,” Hagrid said. “I’ve me orders from Dumbledore direct. He’s ter go ter his aunt an’ uncle’s.
“What?” Sirius said, his voice shaking. “No, you can’t! James hated Lily's sister!”
A low groan cut them both off. It seemed to almost split the chilly atmosphere of the cottage, making Sirius and Hagrid’s eyes meet in surprise. Both men looked startled, not daring to hope, but Sirius recovered first.
“James!” he yelled, rushing back to his place by his friend’s side. “Prongs, it’s Padfoot!” Sparing no more time, he began performing all the healing charms he knew. They weren’t designed to counter dark magic, rather the affects of an angry werewolf, but they worked in a pinch. The scion of the House of Black was almost giddy now at the thought that James was alive. What had been before absolute sorrow was now changed to exalted joy. He didn’t even consider the fact that his friend might not survive the severity of his wounds. James would live; Sirius thought fiercely, he simply had to. Once James’s insides were back in his body, Sirius began layering the healing charms over and over upon his friend. “Hagrid, quickly! Get the Blood-Replenishing Potion! Lily keeps it in the blue cupboard in the kitchen.”
The young man allowed his field of vision to dim, completely focused on the healing charms. He vaguely heard what sounded like a smash, and a baby’s cry, but they were secondary to his brother-in-arms who lay before him. Suddenly, a massive hand thrust a vial in front of his face, and he grunted his thanks, tipping James’s head up and pouring the red contents down James’s throat. Massaging James’s neck, he helped the potion go down, and then nodded. It would have to be enough.
Sirius turned around quickly, summoning the first unmarred object he could find. It turned out to be one of Harry’s plushie toys that had fallen in the living room. Sirius pointed his dogwood wand at the stuffed stag and murmured, “Portus!
” The ministry could go hang if they thought he cared about paying a fine for an illegal portkey. Not now, not this night. He then turned to Hagrid and said quickly. “I’m taking him to St. Mungo’s. I left my motorbike—use it! Sod Harry’s aunt and uncle, take my godson to Hogwarts.” Sirius picked up James’s hand, forcing it to touch the portkey mere seconds before they disappeared from sight. *~*
“Have you noticed something unusual going on today?”
Giles looked up from the Demonology text he was perusing to peer at Buffy who had just walked into his office. “To what do you refer?”
“Oh, come on!” the small blonde pouted. “The people in cloaks and Gandalf the Grey outfits? The owls everywhere? Is the world ending? ‘Cause if it is, I feel like we should have been warned about it.” She sat down in the chair in front of his desk with a sigh, plopping her chin into her hand and staring out the window. Giles followed her gaze, looking out at the view of the Thames, where owls were flying in broad daylight, just as she had said.
“Huh,” he said. Taking off his glasses, he began to clean them in an absentminded fashion. “I am not aware of owls changing their nocturnal patterns as a herald or portent of evil.”
“But it’s weird, right?” Buffy asked, perking up. “Like, M. Night Shyamalan weird.”
“Perhaps,” he allowed. “But were this a signal of things to come, there would have been some warning. Halloween was yesterday, All Souls’ Day, also known as the Day of the Dead is tomorrow...today is All Saints’ Day.”
“The Day of the Dead? The dead have a day, now?” Buffy asked. “When did we decide to give them a day, Giles?”
“The Catholics give them their own day, Buffy,” Giles replied. “Church of England is much more sensible. Still, I can’t see why this would matter. All Saints’ Day is little more than a harvest festival in origin. Today though, the day is bound up in prayer. No demon would be stupid enough to try to end the world today when people are already going to church. No, I’m sorry to say the owls probably mean nothing. Now, if you don’t mind...” he gestured to the text he had been reading.
“But the Lord of the Rings look-alikes!” Buffy protested.
“Halloween enthusiasts who never made it home last night, or guests at a Tolkien conference,” Giles suggested. “Now, out!”
Crossing her arms, Buffy stomped to the door and glared at her watcher. “If the world ends because of owls and cult members, don’t blame me!”
As she closed the door, Buffy could hear Giles sigh, and pick up the phone. “Moira? Yes, could you cross reference owls with portents of doom? Yes, take your time, ta.”
Grinning to herself, Buffy walked back to her office with a smile on her face.
For a moment, it had almost felt like old times. All that had been missing was Willow on a laptop and Xander munching on a doughnut. With all of the Scoobies scattered to the wind, it was nice to have little moments of normalcy. And, it was a bit of a treat to have Giles back in the office, even if only for a little while. He had been setting up some demon spying ring with Andrew in Rome, and had only just got back. It wasn’t something Buffy had concerned herself with, when even a year ago she would have been in on the planning. She didn’t have to do everything herself anymore. Everything was different now.
Like the Shadowmen had said, Buffy was the last guardian of the Hellmouth. Somehow, what they did in Sunnydale caused the Hellmouths in Cleveland, Shanghai, Caracas, and Melbourne to close. They no longer gave out the mystical energy of a doily. In a way, it was a good thing. Closed Hellmouths were closed Hellmouths, after all. But it also meant that the demons and vampires were now scattering across the world. Faith and hundreds of other Slayers, including Kennedy, had been sent with field watchers to all six inhabited continents.
The only Slayers in Britain were Buffy, Vi, Shannon, Caridad, Rona, and Colleen—who had all been in Sunnydale—and Dorrie, Jane, and Lizzie who were Brits that had been activated with Willow’s spell and found then. Officially, Buffy shared Giles with Dorrie and Jane, but in reality, she had almost completely given up slaying and didn’t train at all with Giles anymore.
She had been working heavily with the Council to establish the new offices. Buffy was in charge of restocking the Council weapons, as well as teaching. She was training the Slayers assigned to Britain in meditation, sword fighting, and patrolling. And she was training the wet behind the ears Watchers in how to relate and guide their new charges. At some point, Buffy wanted to set up a section in headquarters which provided counseling to the Slayers when needed, but that was a dream for the future.
Still, even then as she stepped into her posh office in the city that she had come to love, if for the shopping alone, it was hard for her not to feel a bit restless. Dawn had been like a kid in a candy shop all summer as she and Willow had been in charge of researching and purchasing texts from all across the globe to outfit the library, and was now in school. In addition to that, Willow, when she wasn’t doing the book thing, was off with the Devon Coven locating new Slayers and living with Kennedy in Brazil. Xander was teamed with Wood, and traveling all over the world in an attempt to find the Slayers Willow sent them after, currently in Africa. With all of the people that she cared about settling down to their new lives, Buffy felt a little out of place.
Sure, she loved her and Dawn’s new townhouse in Kensington. And she found her job great and fulfilling. Also, slowly but surely, she and Dawn were working through their differences, though the blonde Slayer knew there was still a long way to go. But, for all that, Buffy felt as though something was missing. It was as though she was waiting for something to arrive.
Later that night, not so far away, on a quiet street in Surrey, an elderly man in a purple cloak appeared out of thin air. After rummaging in his robes, he pulled out a small silver device. His attention was caught momentarily by a tabby cat which sat, staring at him from the other end of the sidewalk. After chuckling to himself, he extended his arm and clicked the lighter several times. One by one, the streetlamps on the street flew into his small Put-Outer, until the street, Privet Drive, was in complete darkness.
The old man walked down the street until he reached the cat, and said, “Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.”
The cat had disappeared. In its place was a stern looking woman with square glasses, dressed in a green cloak with her hair slicked back into a black bun. “How did you know it was me?” she asked.
“My dear professor, I have never seen a cat sit so stiffly.”
“You’d be stiff too if you’d been sitting on a brick wall all day,” said Professor McGonagall.
“All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here.”
The magical pair spoke in whispers back and forth, unseen by the occupants of the small, decidedly unmagical street. Had anyone noticed them, they would have instantly supposed that there was something not quite normal about either of them, beginning with the clothes they wore.
The conversation continued on until Professor McGonagall got to the point she had been waiting to make, and said, “The owls are nothing next to the rumors that are flying around. You know what they’re saying? About why he’s disappeared? About what finally stopped him?” She paused, her voice hurrying with excitement. “What they’re saying,” she pressed on, “is that last night Voldemort turned up in Godric’s Hollow. He went to find the Potters. The rumor is that Lily Potter is dead.”
Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.
“Lily…I can’t believe it…I didn’t want to believe it…Oh, Albus…”
Dumbledore patted her on the shoulder. “I know…I know…” he said heavily.
Professor McGonagall’s voice trembled as she continued on. “That’s not all. They’re saying he tried to kill James, and the Potter’s son, Harry. But—he couldn’t. He couldn’t kill the two of them. That he left James for dead with curses that should have killed him, but didn’t, and then when he tried to kill Harry, he couldn’t. Voldemort’s power somehow broke — and that’s why he’s gone.”
Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s — it’s true?” she gasped, horrified. “After all he’s done…all the people he’s killed…he couldn’t kill James and his son? James was one of the best students I ever had, but he was still barely out of his adolescence. And how could he have weakened Voldemort enough that he couldn’t kill James’s son? Was it family magic? Are Potters impervious to the Killing Curse?”
“We can only guess,” Dumbledore said. “We may never know. As it is, James is in St. Mungo’s and on the brink of death. It is very likely that the boatman will claim one more victim from this terrible tragedy.”
Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes.
Dumbledore looked at his watch and said, “Hagrid’s late. I suppose it was he who told you I’d be here, by the way?”
“Yes,” said Professor McGonagall. “And I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me why you’re here, of all places?”
“I’ve come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They’re the only family he has left now.”
“James is not dead yet, Albus,” McGonagall cried. “There is no need to be so cavalier. Furthermore, Sirius is Harry’s godfather, is he not? Why not have him watch the boy until James recovers? Besides, you can’t mean to leave Harry’s care to the people who live here. I’ve been watching them all day. You couldn’t find two people who are less like us. And they’ve got this son — I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!”
“It’s the best place for him,” said Dumbledore firmly.
“It’s James who should decide where he goes,” McGonagall snapped. “He’s his father! You can’t just chuck the boy with his relatives and hope for the best.”
“His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he’s older,” Dumbledore countered. “Once his father is dead, this is where Harry would be sent anyway. I am simply jumping ahead a few steps. Don’t worry, I’ve written them a letter.”
“A letter?” repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall. “Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He’ll be famous — a legend — I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Potter day in the future — there will be books written about James and Harry — every child in our world will know the Potter name!”
“Exactly,” said Dumbledore. “It would be enough to turn anybody’s head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something he won’t even remember! Can you see how much better off he’ll be, growing up away from all that until he’s ready to take it?”
“It is not your decision,” she said firmly. “Surely one of James’s friends can take the boy until Potter recovers.”
“As Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, you’ll find that it is my decision,” Dumbledore countered.
She seemed to cave in on herself. “Yes — yes, you’re right, of course. But how is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?”
“Hagrid’s bringing him.”
“You think it —wise — to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?”
“I would trust Hagrid with my life,” Dumbledore said.
“I’m not saying his heart isn’t in the right place,” Professor McGonagall said grudgingly, “but you can’t pretend he’s not careless. He does tend to — what was that?”
A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky — and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them. It was Hagrid, on Sirius Black’s motorbike, and in his vast, muscular arms he was holding a bundle of blankets.
“Hagrid,” said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. “At last. And where did you get that motorcycle?”
“Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir,” said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke. “Young Sirius Black lent it ter me. Told me ter take it as he was taking James to St. Mungo’s. I’ve got him, sir.”
“No problems, were there?”
“No, sir—house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin’ around. Kept him in the safe house all day in Cardiff, like you said. Quiet lil’ one. He fell asleep as we was flyin’ over Bristol.”
Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall examined the contents of the bundle of blankets. Inside was Harry, fast asleep. On his forehead they could see a cut, shaped like a bolt of lightning.
“Is that where —?”
“Yes,” said Dumbledore. “He’ll have that scar forever.”
“Couldn’t you do something about it, Dumbledore?” McGonagall asked.
“Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground. Well — give him here, Hagrid — we’d better get this over with.”
Dumbledore took Harry in his arms and turned toward the home which housed Lily’s sister, Petunia Dursley and her family.
“Could I — could I say good-bye to him, sir?” asked Hagrid. He gave him a kiss. Then, suddenly, Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog.
“Shhh!” hissed Professor McGonagall, “You’ll wake the Muggles!”
“S-s-sorry,” sobbed Hagrid. “But I c-c-can’t stand it —Lily dead — James at hospital—an’ poor lil’ Harry off ter live with Muggles —”
“Yes, yes, it’s all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we’ll be found,” Professor McGonagall whispered, watching as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door. He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry’s blankets, and then came back to the other two.
“Well,” Dumbledore said after a moment, “that’s that. We’ve no business staying here. We may as well go and join the celebrations.”
“Yeah,” said Hagrid in a subdued voice, “I’ll be headin’ ter Mungo’s an’ takin’ Sirius his bike back. G’night, Professor McGonagall — Professor Dumbledore, sir.”
Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.
“I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall,” said Dumbledore before he turned and walked back down the street. On the corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once and the balls of light sped back to their street lamps and he could make out a tabby cat at the other end of the street. He could also see the bundle of blankets on the step of the Dursley house.
“Good luck, Harry,” he murmured. He turned on his heel and was gone.
A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be found by his uncle the next morning when he went out to get the morning paper because he wasn’t distracted by a news program about an explosion in Bristol that caused thirteen deaths. He couldn’t know that his uncle would bundle him into his car without telling his aunt, drive him into London, and abandon him at the first available opportunity.
He couldn’t know that his father would wake up from his coma in two weeks to the news that his wife was dead and shortly discover his son was missing as well. He couldn’t know that this would change the Wizarding World forever. He couldn’t know that there was a lonely woman in London, desperate for something to shake up her stagnant existence, who would cherish him with a love more blinding than the brightest fire. And he couldn’t know that at that very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To the Potters—the ones who lived!”