Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to anything… it's depressing to admit that every time I post something.
A/N: I was a bit quicker with posting this time, but the chapter is short, sorry. It's actually quite boring as well… So, now that I've gotten you all excited to read the chapter… right. I promise we're getting close to some sort of action/climax stuff.
Chapter 6: Letters
Harry spent the week after Christmas arranging his and Andy's flight with Liz. He was a little worried when she told him that he would need a passport to get through airport security, because he had never seen one before. She brought hers over the next day, and he transfigured a deck of cards into flawless passports for Andy and himself. Well, nearly flawless; they had the pattern of the back of the cards on the back cover of the documents. Luckily, it was just a simple, dark blue pattern that didn't stand out much. Harry was glad he hadn't used the deck with puppies on the backs that Liz had in her handbag. Needless to say, this bit of magic got some strong reactions.
When Samantha heard she tried to tell him that it was illegal and he would get caught with forged documents. Andy showed them both to her and she kept quiet the rest of the night. Harry really appreciated her concern, but his main objective was to get to England, and if that meant using illegal means… Well, he didn't feel great about it, but he reminded himself that he wasn't looking to hurt anyone, except maybe those robed people in his dreams.
Harry was packing everything away in his trunk the night before he and Andy were to leave. He was amazed at how much of his stuff seemed to have gotten scattered about the small cottage over his short stay. Andy and his friends were keen on looking through his magical things, so they could be found on various tables or chairs. Harry didn't mind at all and was happy he could do something for them in return for their kindness.
His injuries were all but healed by now with only a few faint bruises and scratches to show that anything had been wrong.
Samantha was looking at the book Hermione had charmed into his trunk on Christmas. She read the inscription and asked, "What's Hogwarts?"
"A wizarding school," Harry replied absently. He continued packing for a few seconds before realizing what he'd said. He looked up in surprise to see Samantha smiling. "How? I didn't know what it was before…"
"I was reading about amnesia and found that asking some simple questions in a non-pressure situation can get positive results." She was grinning from ear to ear due to her small triumph.
Harry was feeling quite happy as well. He still didn't really remember Hogwarts, at least not how he thought he should, but he guessed that he was a student there. It would make sense. He was too young to be a professor, and he didn't know any other reason he would be going to a school. This also gave him hope that, perhaps, people were looking for him.
Later that night a scruffy, air-weary owl started tapping at the window after supper. Everyone froze. The muggles were surprised at the strange behavior for an owl, not understanding what it was doing. Harry was stunned that any owl would find him here. He wondered if it could be from one of the black-robed men, since they were looking for him, and decided to be cautious.
Opening the window, he let the owl in with a large gust of wind and snow. The owl landed tiredly on the table and hooted impatiently at him. Harry used the tongues from the fireplace to grab the parchment and a well-aimed severing charm to cut the missive from the poor owl's leg.
He wanted to check the letter for curses and hexes before touching it, so he set it aside, saying, "Nobody touch that; it could be dangerous." He knew he needed to take care of the owl first, before messing with the letter, so he pulled out some left-over meat and bread from supper and placed them on a plate in front of the owl. He left a bowl of water beside it and turned his attention to the parchment.
It was innocent looking as it lay unmoving on the table. However, Harry remembered enough about magic in general to be wary of anything that could be charmed, cursed, or hexed to cause harm to another person. He waved his wand over it and muttered several revealing spells, finding only an identity charm, which ensures that only the intended is able to read the letter. The sender can mask the true contents to anyone else by writing an alternate text to go along with the charm.
Somewhat satisfied that the parchment was not going to cause harm, Harry sat down and began reading.
I hope this letter finds you well. We are all searching for you and hope to find you soon. However, we have all but exhausted our resources, and I fear it will be nearly impossible to find you without some further clue. Please respond to this message to the best of your ability. I will send assistance to you upon receipt of your letter.
My best wishes,
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Harry read through the sentences several times. He found that he wanted to trust what this 'Albus' said. The letter confirmed that someone out there was searching for him. He knew that the bad wizards were also looking, but he only felt warmth and security coming from the note, and he knew instinctively that this was not a trick from them. He would reply, but he didn't know what to say. After all, he was leaving the next day for England. He considered trying to stow the owl somewhere so he could write back once he returned, but he didn't want to be that cruel to the poor bird.
Instead, he decided to send the owl when they left the next morning. That would give the bird some much needed rest and would, hopefully, prevent the need for any other wizards to come to Andy's home.
Harry didn't think they would hurt his new friends, not the good people looking for him, anyway. However, he didn't know if they would feel the need to obliviate the muggles he'd exposed to magic. Andy, Samantha, Liz, Josh, and Cory had become good friends of his, and he didn't want their memories of him altered or vanished completely. Additionally, he knew first hand was memory loss was like, and he didn't relish the thought of steeling someone else's memories. He knew that there was a risk with any muggle knowing about magic, but he had spent almost two weeks with these people, and they hadn't told anyone else about him.
The lost feeling had abated somewhat with the new friendships, and if Harry was honest with himself, he was terrified of never remembering who he was. If he could never remember his old friends, he wanted to have something in life, like his new friends. If their memories were wiped of any knowledge of him, then he would be all alone and lost again.
He had to prevent wizards from tampering with his new friends. He planned to bring the owl along in the car and let her out once they arrived in the city with the airport. He was told it was a six and a half hour drive, so he didn't think anyone would be able to trace the owl back to Andy's cabin, even if they were able to find the location of its departure.
Now he had to decide what to write. He didn't want to let on that he didn't remember who he was. He trusted the man, Albus, who had sent the letter, but he just couldn't trust him enough to tell him that without really knowing who the man was. So, he figured he could tell him once they met again. Harry knew he wouldn't be able to hide it, then. It would be too obvious after a few questions that he had no recollection of his old life beyond basic knowledge of the world and magic but nothing specific of his past.
He swiped his wand across the line, obliterating the ink. That wasn't the right way to address the wizard. If Harry was right about being a student at Hogwarts, he wouldn't be referring to his headmaster by his first name. He also decided to dispense with the endearment. It didn't seem very professional.
I received your letter last night. I am safe, and there is no reason to send assistance. I will return soon. Thank you for your concern.
He rolled up the parchment and tucked it away so it was ready to send off once they got to the airport. He hoped the letter was not too suspicious. He couldn't sign his full name, because he still didn't know what his last name was. He hadn't thought too much of it until signing, but now the thought of not even knowing his name was gnawing at his mind. Again. It was just like that first day he showed up in Andy's cabin. After he'd learned his first name, some of the frustration had lessened, but it started to return with the letter. Why didn't that Albus person use his full name? It seemed rather unusual for a school official to be so familiar with a student.
Harry sighed and pushed the letter out of his mind. Walking to the couch, Harry sat and enjoyed his last night together with his friends. After this he would only have Andy. He was deeply touched by the fact that Andy was coming with him, but he would miss his other friends. Harry hoped that he could, one day, visit the friends he made here. Perhaps he would have his old friends and life back as well, and they could all come to visit. He smiled at the thought and settled in to watch the end of the movie, most of which he had missed in his daze.
The week after Christmas was a long, stressful time for the occupants of Hogwarts castle, as well as for the Order of the Phoenix. The news of Harry Potter's disappearance had become public knowledge, although the details were sketchy at best. There were rumors from the Boy-Who-Lived being killed by Voldemort, to Harry acting as Minister with use of Polyjuice Potion, and everything in between.
Dumbledore actually found himself chuckling at a few theories. If nothing else, they were good for a laugh when the world looked bleak.
The Headmaster looked pale and drawn, and his one hundred and fifty years seemed more like a millennium as he sat looking over documents again and again. He'd had very little sleep in the past two weeks. The impending attack wouldn't help matters, either.
His wandering thoughts were interrupted by a tapping on the window. He welcomed the owl and conjured a bowl of water and treats before removing the letter. With disappointment, he recognized his own writing and seal on the parchment. It was the eleventh of twelve long distance owls that he'd sent to various parts of the world. This particular one had been sent to southeast Asia.
He looked up to see Remus standing in the open doorway. The old wizard cursed himself for not paying attention. The lack of sleep and continuous stress was really starting to get to him if he didn't even notice someone passing the gargoyle.
"Hello, Remus, have a seat. Would you like a lemon candy? The Weasley twins were kind enough to get me a variety of sweets from muggle London for Christmas."
Remus smiled at the old man. Despite the current mood, Dumbledore had a way of making you feel like a carefree child again, even if only for a short while.
"No, thank you, Albus. I think I'll stick with chocolates."
Leaving the small talk, Dumbledore asked, "Any news from the teams?"
Remus shook his head. "Nothing. We had three different teams search the area. The best we could find was that a portkey was made at some time in that location, but we can't tell when it was made or its destination. For all we know, it could have been a porting site for a World Cup or something else. There's no way to know if it was Harry…"
Dumbledore nodded his head. That was exactly what he'd expected to find at the abandoned Death Eater location. The dark wizards never stayed long at their rendezvous sites, from which Harry had escaped. The lower ranking Death Eaters never went to Voldemort's true location. Instead, they met members of the Inner Circle to exchange information, or in some cases, prisoners. The only time a lower Death Eater is allowed in Voldemort's 'home' is for a promotion or death.
It wasn't surprising that they couldn't find more information about the portkey. Dumbledore knew they were practically impossible to trace, unless there was no other magic in the area and the spell had been done in the last few hours. However, he recommended the searches for two reasons: to look for any clues, and to keep people like Remus and the Weasleys busy. Dumbledore wasn't a cruel man, but he couldn't work on the problem of finding Harry and deal with emotional family at the same time. If they thought they were helping everything went much more smoothly. There was the added bonus of possibly finding something.
"Is that one of the owls you sent to Harry?" Remus asked, pointing to the owl then the letter in Dumbledore's hand.
"Yes. There is only one left, now. We have only to wait a while and hope."
"Where is the last one?"
"I want to go look there," Remus announced.
"My boy, I don't think it would do any good. Do you realize how large of an area that is? Where would you begin? We will wait for the owl to return and go from there. It is possible that one of the other owls missed him in another place."
Remus sighed. "I know, you're right. I just need to do something. I can't just wait here and see if he comes back!"
Dumbledore nodded. He walked over to a bookcase and pulled out an old, but nice looking book. It clearly hadn't been used much.
"It would be a great help if you could learn Intercontinental Location Charms. As you can see, I haven't made much use of this book, and I've studied very little about these over the years. I had forgotten about this text until this morning. Would you be willing?"
"Yes, of course. I haven't heard of these spells before."
"That's not surprising. They are dreadfully difficult and notoriously inaccurate. If anything, they would give us a basic direction of where he may be. But perhaps we'll get lucky with these," he said with a hopeful smile. Remus returned it half-heartedly.
"I'll start on this right away." Remus took the book and walked through the door. He turned around before closing it. "Thank you, Albus. I know you're doing all you can, but be sure to get some rest. Good day."