Yo! I'm so sorry about the like, threeish year wait for this. Jesus. I can't believe it's been that long. Writer's block fucking sucks. That's what the issue was until recently. Now it's more because I can barely see. Had cataract surgery in September, but only got a bit of vision back. Got another surgery for my other eye scheduled for December, so hopefully by the new year I'll be able to see enough to really get some writing done.
I've gone back and done some editing of this fic-nothing too major, just some rephrasing and the like. No new scenes or anything like that. Anyway, thank you to all readers so far!
While Harry slept, Marvolo went over a few other plans that had inevitably fallen on the back burner recently, thanks to his 'Harry' plans. There was still time to plan Harry's 'rescue', so that wasn't going to be his priority at the moment. Instead, he had one other thing that he had been in the midst of planning before Severus had come to him with Harry's address.
The castle was long due for some major changes, and he knew he was the only one actually willing to make any of those changes. If old Dumbledore was going to be dead within the year anyway, then now was the perfect time to start acting.
From what he could tell, posing as either a professor or a student would be the best bet. Entering as a student would be the simplest and easiest way-a maximum of forty new students arrived every September, and it was hardly like background checks were ever performed on any of these children.
But he wasn't particularly eager to go masquerading as an eleven year old. He could go as an older transfer student but really, no matter the age, any and all students would have too many restrictions on them-certainly more than he was willing to put up with. Not to mention masquerading as a child would be far too boring.
Being adults, professors had much more freedom-freedom he could benefit from in the castle. Getting in as a professor, however, was bound to be a little more challenging. While Dumbledore didn't seem to care very much for who exactly he employed, he did take some measures to confirm things like identity and criminal records and the like.
He couldn't get in as himself, obviously, which meant he'd have to disguise himself. And it was that disguise that was going to take some work. Would it be better to pose as an already existing wizard? Or should he perhaps create an entirely new identity? Both options, like the ones before them, had their pros and cons.
If he chose an already existing wizard, it would probably have to be someone who could never find out and interfere, or someone who was dead and couldn't interfere. If he went with a completely fabricated identity, then he would have to also create an entire life and personality. And no matter the choice, fake records were going to have to be made and planted in the Ministry.
Creating these records would be simple enough, and fortunately, he had more than one Death Eater working at the Ministry. He knew he could just give the records to one of them, and they'd be taken care of. The threat of punishment for failure would be enough to ensure it got done quickly and quietly.
How cautious would Dumbledore be though? Would he be more cautious about who he employed, now that he was dying? Well, he supposed there was only one real way to find out, and there was no better time than the present...
Harry woke up with a pounding head. He wasn't surprised-he'd been warned that this would happen, but that didn't exactly make it hurt any less.
Bladder uncomfortably full, Harry forced himself up with a grimace and, gritting his teeth, he headed for the loo. He'd been told he would sleep for twenty four hours, so if he was awake now, it probably meant everything was okay with his magical core now. That was good. A huge relief too.
Once he was finished and had washed up, Harry paused in front of the mirror to take a look at his face. He definitely looked kind of pale, but not nearly as much as he'd been expecting, especially since it had been kind of a while since he had last eaten as well.
Then again, this was hardly the first time he had gone twenty four hours without eating. There were many reasons the Dursleys were currently dead, and that was just one of them.
Harry sighed and shook his head, only to wince when the motion made his head throb worse. He left the bathroom and, after changing his clothes, hesitated for only a moment before leaving the bedroom as well.
Harry spent some time looking for Marvolo, but oddly enough, wasn't able to find him anywhere. Every unlocked room he checked was empty, and he couldn't hear any sounds coming from behind the doors of the locked rooms. Had Marvolo left the manor or something?
Not really willing to go outside to check, and figuring Marvolo would make an appearance eventually, Harry wandered about until he found the kitchen. There were a couple of house-elves in here, but Harry brushed them off, insisting he could fix his own meal. With some obvious reluctance they let him do so, though it didn't escape Harry's notice that they kept a closer eye on him as he did. He hid a smile, a little amused.
Taking his prepared meal with him, Harry found a dining room and took a seat at the table, where he ate in silence, lost in thought. There was a lot going on, and he was still trying to come to grips with it all, but he had to admit he had somehow already managed to settle in fairly easily.
Honestly, after finding out magic actually existed and he was a real wizard, not much could really surprise him. Especially after all the crazy things he had gotten involved in at Hogwarts the last few years. Yeah, compared to all of that, this was basically nothing!
"Ah, Tom, please come in. Welcome back to Hogwarts."
Marvolo raised a brow, and silently removed the glamour he had cast over himself before leaving the manor. It was of an average appearance-tanned skin, brown hair and eyes, nothing outstanding, but also nothing that looked remotely like him.
"Please, have a seat," said Dumbledore, gesturing at the chair across his desk. "Would you care for some tea?"
"No." Marvolo sat down. "...You are being far more hospitable than the last time I came to this office. You also do not appear to be particularly surprised to see me."
Dumbledore smiled. "I have lived a long time, Tom, and have come to expect many things."
"Then you should already know why I am here," said Marvolo calmly, leaning back in his seat casualty.
"I do," said Dumbledore with a nod of his head. "You have been here twice before for the very same reason."
"And what is your answer this time?"
"You may have the position. I'm sure you remember that term begins on the first of September, and where your quarters, office, and classroom are located." After a long moment of silence, Dumbledore said, "Are you doubting my sincerity, Tom?"
"Yes," said Marvolo simply. "You were highly against it the last time I came requesting the position. What could possibly have changed your mind?"
Dumbledore said nothing for a long time, and stared the phoenix on the nearby perch. Then, finally, he said, "Think of it as an act of extending peace from a dying old man."
When Harry returned to his bedroom a few minutes later, he paused. Marvolo was standing by the bed, petting Nagini who was currently laying on the bed. Neither of them seemed to notice he was there, and Harry wondered when Marvolo had even come back. He was pretty sure he hadn't been around earlier. And why had he come to this room? Clearly he wanted to talk to Harry-he had no other reason to be in here, but why just stay here instead of looking for him?
Of course, Harry had no real answer to that. So without wasting any more time, he approached the bed, drawing the attention of the other two.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like Wile E Coyote just dropped an anvil on my head?"
Marvolo's lips twitched into a barely noticeable smile. "You'll want this, then, I'm sure," he said, holding out a vial with a very familiar and, at the moment, very welcoming liquid inside.
Harry drank the potion quickly, and couldn't help but groan in relief when the torturous pain in his head began to fade away. "Thanks." He sat down on the bed, smiling slightly when Nagini slithered into his lap so he could pet her too.
"Can you feel any difference in your magical core?" Marvolo asked curiously.
Harry shook his head. "Nothing obvious," he said. "At least, not yet. Am I supposed to be able to feel something different?"
"The goblin said it would be possible for you to. He also said you likely won't until you try casting a spell again. Evidently, it depends on how large the wizard's core is and how much magic was siphoned from them."
Harry's brow furrowed slightly. "I guess it's a good thing that I can't feel anything, then?"
"Perhaps," said Marvolo with a half shrug. "I suppose we will find out for sure once you begin casting magic again. Have you eaten?"
Harry nodded. "Not a lot, because my head was hurting, but I managed to get something down." After a second, he said, "Did something happen? You look kind of...uh, confused."
"I have been able to secure a job at Hogwarts."
Harry's eyes widened in surprise. "What? Already? How'd you do that so quickly?"
"It was quite simple, actually. It is also more than a little suspicious."
Harry frowned. "Suspicious?" he repeated. "How?"
Marvolo explained what had happened, and the more he said, the higher Harry's eyebrows rose. It was weird that Dumbledore had immediately seen through Marvolo's glamour. It was weird that Dumbledore had been cordial towards him instead of trying to attack him. It was weird that Dumbledore had readily given Marvolo the job as Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, considering who Marvolo was. It was weird that Dumbledore had casually admitted to Marvolo that he was dying.
Everything about this entire situation was weird, and suddenly Harry found that he couldn't blame Marvolo for being confused at all. He was pretty damn confused about this too.
That's it for now. Sorry for any typos. Like I said at the beginning, I've only got minimal vision so yeah. Looking forward to reviews! Laterz!