AvydReedr PROUDLY PRESENTS
BOOK ONE OF THE PATH OF KNOWLEDGE:
—HARRY POTTER AND THE LOST CITY—
PART ONE: THE FOREST OF DREAMS
CHAPTER ONE: IN LOVING MEMORY
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated characters and situations are the property of J.K. Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.
A huge thank you to wrackspurts_nargles for amazing work as a Beta Reader.
Voldemort stepped into the moonlight, seemingly lost in deep thought. He paused, looking around, as though he were expecting something. When nothing happened, he sighed. With a stride, he glided across the street pavement, bathed in robes of liquid night. The shadows seemed to revolve around him, as the moonlight in the area dissolved into the darkness of his cloak, plunging his immediate surroundings in a most sombre light. He was concealed from those who could do him harm, few that they were.
His cloak billowed, though no howl of the wind, no touch of the breeze swept through the streets of Godric's Hollow. Still, the cold night air of October nipped his cheek, and in response, he adjusted his robes and glared at the house before him, ignoring the bitter taste in his mouth.
Contrary to popular belief, Voldemort wasn't completely heartless. He didn't enjoy killing, or murdering, of pillaging, or any of the other vile and atrocious acts of man. He simply saw the most effective way of achieving his dreams and would use anything he could do to get there. Unfortunately, that usually involved a death or two by his hand.
It had been a mistake to gather such a large influence and outright fight against the Ministry. He knew this now. All the distasteful and highly unnecessary acts of his followers had painted him and his movement in a bad light.
If given the chance to redo everything, Voldemort knew that he would have taken his time plotting and scheming. He was a snake and no matter the advantages of letting himself stand in the light, snakes were meant to play in the shadows. If snakes were hidden, their opponents wouldn't notice the fangs in their chest before it was too late.
'Yes,' Voldemort thought. There had been worse ideologies than his own, but they hadn't been questioned because they had done everything nice and proper, and had been voted in. If for some reason, he was to have a chance at redemption, he would do everything again. But redemption was far behind him. He had gone too far to back out now, and he was so close to achieving what he wanted, even if there had been so many unnecessary acts of violence and death.
Voldemort's stringy black hair stood strikingly against his alarmingly pale white skin as he contemplated his life choices. A small sneer graced his face and he shook his head, remembering his foolish choices as a young boy.
Finally, after a long wait, he began to stir. Glancing at both ends of the street, he walked briskly, his bloodshot eyes glinting with a vestige of madness as he encroached upon the three-foot walls of a small, two-storied cottage. He touched the cobble divider and recoiled. Protego Maxima. Fianto Duri. Repello Inimicum. Typical.
The poor excuse for a pure-blooded home bore down on him, its stone foundation, bricked walls and wooden window sills mocking him relentlessly. The tiled rooftop looked surprisingly imperious, even in its dishevelled condition. The moonlight danced in Voldemort's eyes as he smirked.
Silently, the billowing mass of shadow tilted his head, his eyebrows rising, eyes widening slightly and lips curling, like a child evaluating his new toy. After a moment of deliberate consideration and acknowledgement of the formidable wards before him, the cloaked figure reached into his robes with a frail and sinewy hand to pull out a long yew wand.
After slight muttering and swishing, the faint shimmering of the wards was no longer visible. With his momentary obstruction removed, he slid his wand back into his robes and gave a wave with his left hand, unlocking and opening the small wooden gate in one move. He tutted, sounding—almost—disappointed.
He stepped inside, and a pensive look drew upon his face, 'I could finish this without anyone ever knowing I was here,' Voldemort thought. 'Merlin knows I'm not in the mood to deal with all the screaming.'
Britain's current Dark Lord brushed past the gate with what one might call a 'spring' in his step. He wasn't going to waste time like the last time. Longbottom Manor had been such a poor excuse for a raid. The Lestranges had been so distracted with looting that they had failed to accomplish what he had actually sent them out to do, which was killing the Longbottom Heir. And they had gotten Rookwood killed too. Such a shame, in all honesty. But perhaps it was for the best.
Voldemort took a deep breath. If he hurried this up, there would be little chance of being intercepted by him. He was almost at the front door when he paused, a grimace on his face.
"I forgot to feed Nagini tonight," he sighed, shaking his head slightly, "she's going to be insufferable tomorrow. Always so temperamental…"
Upon reaching the front door, Britain's resident Dark Lord sneered. There were no inner wards protecting the house itself. No multiple ward perimeters. Nothing beyond the very basics any wizarding house should have. Voldemort was sure that the Potters were a pure-blood family and one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight at that. So what were they playing at? Why were their defences so weak? Was this a trap? It didn't matter, he realised. There was no way out of this. If he left now, come morning they would notice the removal of the wards, and any hopes he had of dealing with this prophecy prematurely would be squandered. He had to deal with this immediately, and that meant he had little time to second guess himself. Still, it wouldn't do to alert the Potter household and subsequently, the entire neighbourhood of his arrival. Voldemort furrowed his brow in deep thought, recalling what information had been gathered over the past few days.
It took the Dark Lord a brief moment to reach a decision. The initial wards at the perimeter of the cottage had been disabled permanently. He could detect no wards placed on the structure of the house. If there were any, they were too weak to notice, and would likely not interfere with his misdoings. It was very likely that the Potters had placed all of their faith in the strength of the Fidelius Charm, as he could not detect anything else close by that even resembled the strength of a ward. This decision was made almost certainly at the behoovement of Dumbledore, the controlling old coot. Admittedly, it was a formidable attempt at subterfuge, of that there was no doubt. It was also a layer of protection he doubted he would have been able to circumvent had he not been told the Secret.
How convenient that the Rat—Peter Pettigrew—had been so disposed to betray his closest friends. He had served him faithfully, of that there was no doubt. The poor excuse for a wizard was too afraid to do anything other than that.
But it had come merely as a necessity when he ordered Bellatrix to dispose of the despicable man. Even though Voldemort valued loyalty to his cause more than anything else, he could not be assured of Pettigrew's character—while the Secret had been very helpful, it unnerved him that Pettigrew had been too quick to change sides, too quick to betray. The Dark Lord did not appreciate that. It simply wouldn't do. It had been best to deal with him before he became a rampant issue, and so his devotion had been understandably short-lived.
His focus returned to the door and his mirth returned. There was no point in using his wand for something as trivial as Alohomora. With a simple brush of his finger, he unlocked the door and it swung open on its own as if begging him to enter. Voldemort then stepped inside the quaint, if not shoddy, little house.
The wooden floorboard threatened to squeak if he took another step, so he cast a silencing charm on himself and the floor. Voldemort cast his gaze imperiously around the house, his eyes demanding that the cottage give up its secrets. He locked onto the staircase leading up to the rooms and slid across the living room. He had been informed that this was the only way up to the bedrooms.
The house was dark and silent. Apparently, the Potters had retired early on Hallowe'en. How unfortunate—for them.
A few moments later and he had reached the corridor that led towards the children's room. He risked a glance into the room with a door ajar, to find that it was indeed the child's room.
Seconds later, he was inside, his wand already drawn when he saw something that made him falter. There was only one cot in the middle of the room, but inside - two sleeping newborns of a very similar age.
He had no way of knowing for sure which was the prophesied child. One was a boy, the other a girl. They looked almost identical. Twins? It was likely, though one looked older than the other.
'So that's what Pettigrew was going on about that night,' he thought. 'The Potters had two children, not one. And I had dismissed it for the ramblings of a madman.'
Voldemort silently cursed Pettigrew's ineptitude. He had forgotten to inform him of which child had been born at the end of July. Or maybe the Cruciatus Curse had addled his memories.
His red eyes darted between the two sleeping newborns, and he ran through his options, muttering identification charms over both of them. He noticed that there were a few resident magicks surrounding the children. No doubt for their own safety. He could kill both children right as they slept, but the Potters must have certainly put up seperate protections for both, and if they were triggered before he could finish the other off, that would just be an inconvenience - no, it was best to select one and be sure of it.
Alternatively, he could finish the Potters off, first. No, that would take too long. Dumbledore was certainly on his way here by now, or about to alert the Potters of his presence. He shook his head slightly and refocused his wand on the two children.
The magicks on the children were probably tied to the room, so that just meant he had to bring the child somewhere else to get rid of it. If he picked the wrong one, he could always track them down again, even if it took months. He could wait. The grief of losing a child would likely make them recklessly throw themselves into revenge, and he would await the best time to strike again - if needed, of course. For now, he simply had to pick one child to take far away and deal with. He considered his options of escape.
Flying was too noticeable, he reasoned, and he did not have good enough skill to do so with a child in hand. But that didn't matter. He had taken the Anti-Apparition Charm down earlier, so there was no harm in it. Yes, that was best.
He mused over his choice - the boy, or the girl? The boy, he decided. He looked younger, at least. His gaze flicked over to the girl and he sneered. Yes - there was no way a witch would best him, so the prophesied one must be this boy. A half-blood, like himself. How fitting.
He then gingerly picked up the child with his free arm and held him at a distance. A smear of repulsion hit him, and he felt like chucking the child out of the window. Yes, this was definitely the child. Something felt so…wrong about him. It was almost like a strong aversion charm was cast directly on him, but it seemed to come from inside the boy, not surrounding it, the way magic normally acts. There was no need to take both children. He removed his cloak and cast it aside, as it would only further impede his movements. Then, swiftly, he pulled out his wand and felt the familiar knot in the bottom of his stomach. As the world twisted before his eyes, he thought he had caught a flash of red fire in the corner of his eye.
Within an instant, he was in a completely different scene, just as was expected. With a long look around, he evaluated his location. It was perfect. He doubted anyone would try and look for the boy here. This place was so boorish that no proper wizard—him notwithstanding—would ever dare to travel here unless they had some pertinent business that couldn't be solved elsewhere. Much like him, of course.
He had no doubt his dark robes and Gaunt figure would attract undesired attention, so he set out to accomplish the necessary deed as quickly as possible. So, he all but dropped the child onto the floor.
Then, with a whip, his wand had flashed out once again, prepared to strike. He nearly faltered once the child opened his eyes, obviously disturbed from his sleep with the sudden apparition. Staring damningly back at him was a matt of hair almost as black as his own, and two suspiciously green eyes that seemed wry with amusement.
With a drawn-out, unnecessary pronunciation and wand gesture, The Dark Lord Voldemort flicked his wrist towards the child's forehead, and with a bored, almost lazy sneer, he growled the two words that would, from that day onward, change the entirety of wizarding Britain forever.
A burst of green light later, and the Dark Lord vanished, along with any trace of his being, save for the robes that had adorned his pale body that night. His wand was shattered, burst apart from the sudden magic that had destroyed him.
With the burst of green light, the young child had begun to cry, tears falling down his cheeks. But there wasn't a noise to be heard. His whole nervous system was aflame, with the remnant power from the Killing Curse that was not dispelled from the protective burst of magic having fallen upon him, making him writhe in uncontrollable, but silent, pain.
It took an hour for the pain to fade away, though, oddly, some of it seemed to concentrate rather alarmingly on his forehead. The young boy, frail and weak from the drain that the curse had put on his body and his magic, lay motionlessly on the hard ground of the alleyway, and if he was bothered by the grime and dirt on the street, he did not show it.
It was only a few minutes after he had fallen asleep when a pair of robed individuals came into sight. They walked close together, down the street, enjoying each other's company. They chatted softly, seemingly oblivious to the young boy that laid curled up in green blankets on the floor near them, hidden in the shadows.
They were newly-weds, and if anyone had suggested that the couple expected to find an abandoned child during their romantic nighttime stroll, the remark would have been scoffed at and left undignified by a response.
This is why, when the boy shifted during his sleep, and the green fabric of his blanket fell into view, Alicia Portwood gave a small gasp, and pointed towards the bundle of green they had almost missed. Her husband, noticing her action, turned to find out what had gotten his wife startled. He was surprised to see what was undoubtedly a small child lying on the ground.
Noticing the black robes strewn near the child—a clear sign that he had been left there, abandoned—William Portwood looked towards his wife as if he was trying to calculate her most probable reaction to this new encounter. Alicia brushed her blonde hair out of her face to get a better view of the child as she knelt down beside it.
There were many strange things about the Portwoods, one could find. Some of the more noticeable things included the odd tailor-made robes they wore or the boots and gloves that glinted like snakeskin as they had walked, or the matching pointed hats they had decided to wear on a whim. They were most certainly not normal, all things considered. But perhaps the strangest thing about the two of them was the fact that they were both genuinely magical; she a witch, he a wizard.
Alicia Portwood (née Giordano) was from a relatively new wizarding line that had emigrated from Sicily a while back to escape the effects of Grindelwald's war. They had stuck around when Alicia's grandmother married an Irish half-blood, but most of the family had returned to Italy since then. Alicia made no effort to hide her muggle heritage, though she rarely ever concerned herself with the muggle world.
On the other hand, William Portwood was a British pure-blooded wizard, like his forefathers before him. He knew that while his family might not share the same bigoted views as the other purebloods, they were still proud of their magical ancestry, and William knew how well his father would take the notion of adopting a child, who might not even be a wizard, into the family.
Alicia had picked up the child by now and was cradling him, attempting to soothe the distressed boy with a soft voice. He tried to voice his objection to what obviously seemed to be on his wife's mind, but one fierce and protective look from her shut him right up, and he resigned himself to what was inevitably about to follow.
"Alicia, love," he called, grabbing her attention from the small child, "if, by the age of eight, he shows not even the slightest bit of accidental magic, you know we cannot keep him. It would raise too many questions." He cleared his throat. "Besides, he might still have family out there, looking for him."
"Bloody good family they are if they care so little for their child that they leave him on the street," she spat, viciously.
'It doesn't matter if they care for him or not," he argued. "We can go to Gringotts tomorrow and get a blood test to see if he has any relatives that can take him in. If there are none, then we can apply for adoption. Alright?"
Alicia nodded curtly. She understood. While the Portwoods might not be as stuck up as the rest of British pure-bloods, they would never allow a muggle to be raised under their name. She hoped that, at least, he would be a squib, for then she would not have to completely cast him away. Grabbing the arm of his wife that was not occupied by a child, William pulled her closer to him and smiled reassuringly. With her confidence restored, they began to walk back home.
The Portwoods, together with the small, restless child, continued down the street. Alicia took the time to scrutinize the child's features. His black hair resembled William's, but he had green eyes - as she did. His puffy cheeks were cold to the touch, so she cradled him closer, perhaps a bit too tightly, but he didn't seem to mind. He did, however, squirm and make faces, as he kept trying to claw at something on his forehead.
Concerned, Alicia brushed away the hair that concealed his forehead and was repulsed to find a nasty red scar right there, a stark contrast against the child's fair skin.
She prodded William and he looked over, his eyes widening when he saw the scar. He gently made her stop fussing so he could get a good look at the child. Pulling out his pale wand, he waved it over the scar, and a tingling sensation rose through the air, accompanied by a concerned look from him.
"Alicia, I-" he paused, wondering how to best approach the topic with his wife, who grew more and more impatient as time passed.
"Well, William? What is it?" she said, clearly expectant. He wondered briefly what kind of cruelty it would have taken to curse a child, and whispered to his wife:
"It's dark magic. Some sort of curse, I think." It went unsaid that the boy was magical - he didn't see how a muggle child could have received this kind of curse. But he probably still had a family. William looked down to his wife and tried to catch anything that would let him know how she was feeling.
Alicia's head was down, staring at the child, and he couldn't get a glimpse of her expression due to the fallen hair around her head. She continued to hold the child tightly for a few minutes before she finally looked up into his eyes.
"Promise me that we will do our very best to help this child and rid him of whatever evil curse has been spurned upon him," Alicia stared unnervingly at the scar on the boy's forehead, "no child should be left to suffer such a terrible fate." She said the last part rather softly, but William heard it all the same. The calm determination his wife was showing was rather telling of how grave she thought the offence. William had rarely ever seen her that way.
He agreed to her statement automatically. "I promise, sweetheart. We'll do our very best to cure him," he said, trying to reassure her, "even if I have to call in every favour I have," he added, hoping to appease his wife, though he hoped it wouldn't come to that. At his final words, she leaned over and kissed him softly, a strange mix of happiness and peace in her eyes. She then grabbed his hand and led him on, down the street, back towards their home.
It was only as they were arriving at 'William's Wizarding Workshop' that Alicia noticed the glint of something golden amongst the blankets the child had been wrapped in. Her curiosity got the better of her, and she looked at the small embroidery in the edge of the soft fabric, realising it was his name. She bundled him, mulling over the name, deciding she liked it.
Harry Portwood. It had a nice ring to it.
With a sigh, she leaned against her husband, wondering if they were truly ready for a child.
Dumbledore reclined in his plush armchair, sucking on a sherbet lemon while reading tomorrow's paper.
The large, circular office was dimly lit, and the many volumes that adorned bookshelves on either side contributed to the musty aroma. In front of the Headmaster were three delicate instruments, all silver, and currently whizzing and working away.
The Samhain Festival, or Hallowe'en for the muggle-borns, had been resoundingly pleasant this year, with no big surprises. The pumpkin pie had been most scrumptious, and Albus Dumbledore was currently contemplating leaving aside his reading and giving the kitchens a visit, to see if there were any leftovers.
It was only as the clock struck eleven when Dumbledore stirred at all, his eyes widening to an alarming size.
The small silver cube on his desk had begun to pulse with a green light. Dumbledore stood up surprisingly quickly for a man of his age, and picked up the cube, holding it closer for inspection. There was no doubt of it. The wards at Potter Cottage had already fallen. The Headmaster hurried down his office, his thoughts flying at impossible speeds. Someone had betrayed them. A spy, in their midst. And they had also been the Secret Keeper.
Albus Dumbledore never swore, but he was sorely tempted to curse the name of whoever had willingly cracked. He then pushed all the thoughts of traitors and spies, choosing instead to cast a Patronus and alert Professors McGonagall to have the Order on standby. He cast a second Patronus, this time for Professor Snape, and asked him to update him on Voldemort's whereabouts. He did all of this while racing towards the front of his office, hoping that he was not too late. The enchantment on the cube would only check the integrity of the wards every ten minutes—so Dumbledore had no way of knowing if they had just arrived, or if the intruder had been there for a while. At most, he could only hope that the attacker would be stalled by the other wards, or be busy duelling the Potters.
Fawkes, perturbed by the racket, noticed his distress and began to trill calmly, gliding from his perch to the ancient wizards' shoulder.
With a nod from Dumbledore, the phoenix pulled the lofty old wizard into a flash of flame, only to appear in the small bedroom belonging to the Potter children. He sent Fawkes to wake James and Lily while he extended his senses around the room. He caught the faintly lingering feeling of magic and became worried that he had been too late.
Dumbledore walked towards the cot in the leftmost corner of the room and leaned over it, fully expecting the worst.
Upon finding only one child, he felt a strange mix of emotions. Thankfully, Rose was still there, peacefully asleep. But Harry was not. He took a long look around the room, trying to find anything out of place, a sign of what might have happened not moments ago.
The only thing of worth was a dusty old cloak laying on the ground. He gingerly cast several identification spells over it until he was satisfied it wasn't a cursed object.
Dumbledore picked up the cloak with both hands, stretching it out and holding it at arms' length. He watched dust flake down from the coat, with realization dawning on his face.
He believed he had found the final outcome of whatever had happened here. Dumbledore looked over everything again. It was undoubtedly his cloak. The silver snake pin that held the cloak together showed as much. With a sweep of his hand, he cast the piece of fabric aside, focusing instead on the problem at hand, replaying the possible events in his head. Voldemort had arrived there a few minutes earlier, disabling the wards. Then, undetected, he crept through the house and up into this very same room, ignoring James and Lily. That meant he knew exactly where the children were staying. He had then entered the room and had undoubtedly struck at Harry. From there, Dumbledore drew blank. He had arrived after the entire incident, and Voldemort's cloak was sprawled on the ground, right in front of the crib.
'He had stood here,' the Headmaster thought, 'he had stood here and blasted the child into non-existence, and then...'
Turning around, he was suddenly standing face to face with a silvery doe.
"Severus..." Dumbledore breathed.
"I cannot locate the Dark Lord, Headmaster. He has kept his location hidden from me, and I do not know why. But the Dark Mark has grown faint, something which I have not ever seen during my years in his service. Tell me, Albus, what is going on? What has happened?" the doe urged, it's voice rising towards the end of the message. Once Severus' voice had stopped playing, the Patronus quickly dissipated into non-being.
Dumbledore stood in the room for the next five minutes as he tried to deny what had obviously come to pass. His face morphed into a sombre expression, he swiped away at the lone tear that had fallen down his wrinkled cheek. His eyes were misty, and he blinked several times.
"There is no time to grieve now. What's done is done," he murmured to himself, "I must inform the Potters and then break the news to the rest of the Order, and the Ministry as well, of course."
Dumbledore stumbled to the other bedroom, the true magnitude of the event finally hitting him. It was over. They could all rest now. He reached the door to the other bedroom and knocked twice. It took him a minute before he saw the light flick on through the door, and noises of hushed talking.
He was greeted by James and Lily, who opened the door with slight bemusement of his presence. Lily was in a nightgown, and James had hastily thrown on a robe. They both had tousled hair and squinted eyes, both seemingly have just woken up by the knocking.
"Professor Dumbledore, why—"
"And either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives..." Dumbledore interrupted, his face solemn and tear-stained. "Voldemort is gone, and Harry…" he whispered, "Harry has left us."
At the mention of their youngest child, the Potters raced out the door and into the smallest bedroom, running towards the cot, waking up Rose in the process.
"DUMBLEDORE! WHERE IS MY SON!?" James roared, tears brimming in his eyes. Eyes that showed he knew exactly where his son was.
"The Dark Lord came for him, James. The wards had been breached; I arrived as soon as I could, but it had already come to pass. The Prophecy stated that—"
"WE DON'T CARE ABOUT A STUPID PROPHECY!" Lily wailed, "GIVE US OUR SON BACK!" and then she collapsed onto the ground, sobbing uncontrollably, tears flowing down her face as she rocked back and forward, cradling Rose, "Give us our sweet, little Harry back…"
Dumbledore faced them and sighed heavily, removing his hat and giving the couple a look filled with melancholy. He was already overbearing on their grief and decided to leave before anything drastic happened. Giving them his condolences, and promising to attend the funeral, he left, off to inform the rest of the Order, and Wizarding Britain, what had come to pass tonight. He would leave out the information about who had defeated Voldemort, as he thought it best for the Potters to grieve in peace, without ruthless reporters reminding them of what they had lost.
James and Lily didn't even register his departure, and instead held each other tightly, muttering words of comfort that neither took solace in. Rose, blissfully unaware of what had happened, or where her brother had gone, simply hugged her parents, trying to rid them of the tears that streaked down their faces, which only served to pull them deeper into morbid grief. James tried to compose himself, and held his head higher, tightening his expression, but one look at a picture of Harry that hung on the wall and he was reverted to his previous torment, pulling his wife and daughter closer, holding them with fear of losing them too. Both Potters choked on the tears rolling down their faces, silently cursing the names of everyone and everything they thought responsible for taking Harry away from them.
The Potters would hold a silent procession the next day. The few people who were present on the morbid day all knew of the prophecy, and though they knew that Harry had been one of the candidates for the prophecy, all had hoped that he would have been able to live a long and fulfilling life before the day came when he would have to face the Dark Lord. All present had given their sincere condolences to the Potters, and any spark of joy at the defeat of Voldemort was quickly dampened by the terrible weather and the thoughts of all those that they had lost.
Save for those present, very little of wizarding Britain even knew of Harry Potter's existence, and fewer mourned the loss of the child, who was believed to have sacrificed himself to save Magical Britain. The Potters did not bury a body, for they could not find one. Instead, Harry's grave sat next to all of the Potters before him, the freshest at Godric Hollow's cemetery. His epitaph read:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
Harry James Potter
'The last enemy to be conquered is death'
Notes: The story is set 20 years in the future. For reference, Harry was born on the 31st of July, 2000.
Romance only becomes a real subplot after Book Five (Fourth Year at Hogwarts). Any younger is just weird to write.
Chapters every Sunday!
Fiction M - English - AU - Pre-Hogwarts - Unique - Slytherin!Harry - Competent!Harry - Grey!Harry - Good!Dumbledore - Competitive!Hogwarts - No Bashing - No Slashing
Note that this is my first attempt at fanfiction. I'm very much a novice and would appreciate and enjoy feedback and constructive criticism, so please review! Also, if you have any questions, leave them in a review or send me a DM, and I'll try to answer them best I can!