This is just something I've been playing around with. I'm not sure how serious about it I am.

A wizard can only learn magic if they become the Apprentice of a Master, meanwhile witches compete to learn magic in groups called Covens. Long before the Statute of Secrecy, Dumbledore searches for an Apprentice in Britanni. Alternate Universe, Alternate History, Lots of Time Travel.

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"Aren't you a little old to be taking on an apprentice, Albus?" The witch croaked as Albus bent low to enter the muddy hut. The woman inside was old and ratty, with grey hair tangled in knots. She was missing teeth and the ones she had left were a deep yellow.

Albus had made mistakes, a great deal of them, but he wasn't sure whether visiting this hag was one of them. The Sybil was, despite her looks, less than forty, yet she looked nearly as old as him. He ought to know, he had been there when she was born.

Albus knew what had caused this as well. She reached out and touched the Weave without regard or proper care. He knew that affecting her appearance was just one of the ways the Weave lashed back out at her. It was the reason, despite her tremendous foresight, that no Coven had accepted her.

His disgust for her went beyond the physical. Still he needed her, needed her direction, because in truth she was right. He was getting old, but that was why he was here. Europa had been nothing but chaos since the death of Caesar, and… there had to be a new Master of Death to take over after him.

"You know what I am going to ask Sybil." He didn't ask because they both knew it was true. "How shall I get an answer from you?" He just needed to know what price she would exact from him.

She already knew what he wanted, and what he would do to get it. She may have known it for years. "Not going to stop and have a conversation with me?" He wouldn't respond, no matter how long she waited. Albus was nothing if not patient.

"Why didn't you go and see a family?"

It was true that many pure blooded families would pay a great deal to have him teaching one of their own. Grimoires and gold were tempting, but Albus needed a true pupil. Albus knew of some Masters who served a single family exclusively, training scion after scion. Magical talent was everywhere, and would be neglected by those who served single family lines.

Besides, he had surveyed all of those families. All of them from

"I need a drop of you blood, Albus." She smirked. "Round and round you go, Albus. Aren't you tired?"

Only the wisdom of centuries kept him from flinching. It was a steep price to pay. The dangers both known and unknown. The potential uses she could have with a drop of his blood was innumerable but could all be summarised as malignant for him.

But she knew that he would pay it.

His desperation made him vulnerable but he was still nothing to be trifled with. If she did something malicious with his blood, then for her sake, it had better kill him.

He touched the weave and carefully and in a practiced manor soothed it. He guided it to do his bidding. Creating a miracle with a wave of his hand, he summoned a vial. A prick of his finger saw a drop of blood slide down to where it pooled at the bottom of the crystal.

In turn she scrawled out a single word response.

His magic was powerful but hers was just as dangerous, if in a subtle way. Everyone has heard of the butterfly effect but few have ever weaponized it. For want of a nail… By seeing the future, she could choose the future.

She knew that what was on that paper would lead him down a trail to his next apprentice.


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Albus exited the twisted space to appear in Londinus. Passersby gasped in surprise at his appearance. The subjects of Britani knew a mage when they saw one, though, some begged his pardon, some stared, and still some kneeled.

Albus made his way through into the city. His destination was already in mind.

When a witch and a wizard have a child they are automatically registered at the school. It was in Britani's best interest to have a standard for magical education and to allow all its mages to grow into the productive members of society. All Kingdoms in Europa do this, it was just practical to have talented educated mages in a society.

From this Albus could conclude that starting with Hogwarts was the wisest choice to find young prodigous pupils who had the desire and drive to master the arcane. He had tried other major schools from all the other major nations in Europa. Rome, Athens, and even Madrid in Iberia, it had grown tiring and time consuming to comb each generation of each school for an Apprentice, however.

The next reasonable place to start may be the pureblood families here. Perhaps the Malfoys or maybe the Longbottoms. It was sometimes a struggle to remember all the houses from Balkadonia to Iberia, but he was reasonably certain that both of them had a scion of the age.

So he ascended the steps to the grand castle of Hogwarts located in the center of the town. Just across from it was the Queen's own palace, they represented the twin pillars of the Britani Government.

The witches in the school compete to earn the interest of a Coven, from there they will be able to continue a magical education. Wizards compete with their fellow wizards to be noticed by Masters, like himself. Only most Masters weren't like him.

If he had been another master, it might have been wrong for him to take a student from Britani's shores. Especially after the kingdom had paid to put them there. It would have been called poaching, and it was often a taboo considering it represented a country investing in its own neighbors, potential enemies, or actual rivals.

But Albus had no permanent place of residence. He wasn't some second rate mage who needed to tie their power to a place or object. His mind was his focus. The needle in the Weave.

The problem was finding a student like that too.

Albus was allowed inside to the Entrance Hall with only a slight glance at the armored knights guarding the doors.

"Albus it's been such a long time," smiled the Headmaster. Armando Dippet. The title of Headmaster had meant something once. Now it was a political title rather than a magical one. It wasn't hard to see way. The influence the position bought indirect but powerful. Thus, the position of Headmaster became synonymous with Minister of Magic here in Britanni.

In the spirit of those politics, Dippet would try and sell him one of the students here. Such a thing would make the education system in Hogwarts look better than that of the surrounding schools. That, in turn, would attract even better students and form a positive feedback loop. A valuable state of affairs for any kingdom trying to get a leg up on its competition.

Dumbledore's last student had been sold to him, and that had been an enormous mistake. One which cost him even now.

"Files, Armando." Dumbledore cut the man off. "I want to see the files."

"Ah, well then. Of course." It was likely that the man had his top students on standby to get out of class to provide Albus a demonstration. Just in case any wizard worth getting poached from stopped by.

Dumbledore didn't need to see an eight-year old's mastery of the color change charm. A charm advanced for the age but likely something practiced with tempting a Master in mind. A trick to make it seem as though the child is more advanced than they truly are.

Dumbledore wouldn't be fooled. He would find the ones with true talent.

Dippet turned at led the way to the school library. They traveled up through winding corridors and past flying staircases. In the library they made a stiff turn towards the library records. Here were the tests of the students ability and dossiers. Not just of the students now, but of every student ever graduated.

This room was an incredibly dangerous thing to have access too. If one knew where to look, one could find the strengths and weaknesses of most of Britanni's mages and even of those who had gone to other countries. That's a pretty seriously liability, especially when congenital magic was considered.

Albus' own files were in here somewhere.

"I'll just... " Armando started. A swift look from Dumbledore stopped that thought and left Armando tripped on his way out. Albus' patience was at an end. He was going to have to go digging through all of these so as not to be fooled.

The Sybil's message would only set him on the path to a worthy apprentice. He still had to find them.

There was no magic in looking through these records. All numbers, all calculus. There was no magic in it. None of the wonder or glory. Disgusting though the hag's magic may have been, it was still terrible, and so became tolerable.

This, the monotony of the school…

It did not feel right. Being here was wrong. Not being part of this system was the purpose.

There was no way his successor would be in such a dry place. In an instant he knew it was true. Was the weave guiding him?

He closed the book and stood. He exited the dusty room and nearly ran into Armando.

"Oh Albus! Excuse me. I didn't expect you to be done so soon," the Minister of Magic hesitated. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"I'm terribly sorry for my rudeness Minister, both now and a moment ago. It seems that I should be leaving, however, and I do hate to run." Dumbledore told the man in an earnest polite tone. "But I am afraid that I must."

"Are you sure? Perhaps you could stay for a feast?"

"Armando." Albus began with the same tone. "I cannot bear this place."

"Oh well, shall I-" Armando told Albus' back.

Albus was left pondering as he left the grounds.

The Sybil had surely foreseen this. That he would be here that he would make that choice. So where did that leave him? The purebloods perhaps?

No. None of them would do. Too much a part of the machine.

So what was to be done?

Perhaps his next apprentice was one of the muggleborn? Never allowed the chance for an education at a school.

But where would he find such a person. Said person would also have to be willing to leave with Albus and travel from city to city and coven to coven with him. They would need to be willing to leave their family behind. To leave everything behind.

Dumbledore touched the weave. What a wizard educated at a 'school' would see as a very advanced point-me charm was the spell Dumbledore cast. The basic were the same, though instead of some silly wand movement and rotation, the knowledge entered Dumbledore's mind.

He turned on a step and the space around him.

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An orphanage was the perfect place to find a student. He didn't know why he hadn't thought of it before.

He mounted the few steps leading to the front door and knocked once. After a moment or two, the door was opened by a scruffy girl wearing an apron.

"Good afternoon." He greeted her surprised face. He supposed she didn't have very many magical visitors.

"Oh," said the bewildered-looking girl, taking in the Sorcerer's appearance.. "Um… just a moment… Mrs. Cole!" she bellowed over her shoulder. In a slightly panicky voice. Dumbledore didn't need to read her mind to know that his presence was giving her anxiety. "Ah, please come in. Can we get you a drink? Wine? Water? Milk?"

All three things were probably in short supply for an Orphanage. So Albus smiled and shook his head. It wouldn't do to take from them.

She guided him to a comfortable looking seat. Or what counted for comfortable here, in all likelihood.

A skinny, harassed-looking woman came scurrying toward them. She had a sharpfeatured face that appeared more anxious than unkind, and she was talking over her shoulder to another aproned helper as she walked toward Dumbledore.

"… and take the elixir upstairs to Martha, Billy Stubbs has been picking his scabs and Eric Whalley's oozing all over his sheets - Measles on top of everything else," she said to nobody in particular, and then her eyes fell upon Dumbledore and she stopped dead in her tracks, looking as astonished as if a giraffe had just crossed her threshold.

"Good afternoon," said Dumbledore, holding out his hand. Mrs. Cole simply gaped. "I am Albus Dumbledore. You see, I am looking for an apprentice." Seeing how stock still she was Dumbledore gestured at the seat opposite of him. "Please sit with me."

She didn't dare refuse.

The woman gaped for a moment longer. "Oh, yes? I am afraid that we don't offer a magical education here. It's not something in the budget."

As Dumbledore looked around at the filthy room, he could not imagine that they did.

"Perhaps you should try Hogwarts, sir, Master Dumbledore," she managed.

She was afraid he would be disappointed and angry in a selection he made here. And for certain Masters that might be something a place like this would need to worry about.

"I have already been to Hogwarts I'm afraid. Please, tell me, do you have any mage-children here?" He weaved as he did.

"Er - yes of course Sir." Her eyes came in and out of focus. Then her eyes fell upon a bottle of gin and two glasses that had certainly not been present a few second before. "May I offer you a glass of gin? Master Dumbledore."

Pouring both of them a generous measure, she drained her own glass in one gulp. Smacking her lips frankly, she smiled at Dumbledore for the first time, and he didn't hesitate to press his advantage.

"What can you tell me about the mage children here?"

"We just have the one." She continued helping herself to more gin.

"A witch?" Dumbledore pressed. "Or wizard."

"A boy," she confirmed.

Mrs. Cole helped herself, almost absentmindedly, to another healthy measure of gin. Two pink spots had appeared high on her cheekbones.

Then she said, "He's a funny boy."

"Yes," said Dumbledore. "I thought he might be."

"He was a funny baby too. He hardly ever cried, you know. And then, when he got a little older, he was… odd."

"Odd in what way?" asked Dumbledore gently. "

Well, he —" But Mrs. Cole pulled up short, and there was nothing blurry or vague about the inquisitorial glance she shot Dumbledore over her gin glass. "I'm not good at these… things." She gestured at him vaguely.

Handling wizards and the invariable politics that came with it.

"By all means, be frank with me," he smiled benevolently.

"Well... his name is Tom Riddle-"

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