The Boy Who Lived was now the Man Who Fought.
Barely a man, and certainly more than worthy of the title, Harry Potter had been fighting the battles of the adult world since he was twelve years old.
And he was getting damned tired of it.
Harry no longer knew if he fought for vengeance, or for the side of good. Most of the time it just felt like he fought for the right to live his life free of a dark shadow.
He was an Auror now.
The wizarding world was torn again by tales of the Dark Lord. It seemed for every nest of Death Eaters they uncovered, another three took its place. There were always those who would sacrifice anything for power, who would court and whore themselves to it, who would ally themselves with any promise of supremacy, no matter what the cost. Fear was a constant companion, conspiracy lurked behind hidden corners.
They were taking children, this time. And Harry Potter was mad as hell.
Another dead end, another nest of Death Eaters, praising a lord who was never seen, who never showed his hand. No one even knew if Voldemort was truly back, but mention of the name alone was enough to put them on their guard. They had learned the lessons of ten years ago well enough.
Harry scrubbed a hand wearily over his face, fingers tracing the scar on his
forehead. There was no pain, no warning, and that somehow made it all the
worse. It was as if
There had been some sort of ritual here. What kind, it would have been hard to tell if the results weren’t already seared into his soul. A raging battle had all but torn the area apart, fragments of the simmering cauldron imbedded deep into the ground, the earth itself writhing still after the effects of so many spells at once. Smoke wreathed between sickly trees, the smell of some sort of potion hanging across the air in a sickening shadow.
But still, he looked. Looked for what he knew he would find. Soul shrieking against this duty – how many times had it been now? – stomach churning in the knowledge of what would be there, mind steeling itself to the task.
Which is how he found the little girl.
She’d been protected from the battle, curled up behind what had once been the support of a stone altar. The top of the altar itself had been blown halfway across the moor. Crouching down, he felt his heart catch in his throat. She couldn’t have been more than 2 years old, a beautiful little thing with black hair curling around an almost cherubic face.
He steeled himself, feeling his face tighten as he felt for a pulse, already half-knowing what he would find in a place like this.
His fingertips touched still warm flesh and he let a strangled noise escape from his throat. Alive. Oh thank Merlin, alive! He carefully lifted the sleeping form and braced her against his shoulder. It throbbed dully from where an incendiary spell had cut too close, burning his skin but he hardly felt it as he stumbled his way out of the wreckage, cradling his precious burden. Alive, thank Merlin alive, too often they had come too late and found the missing child dead or worse, a half-living mass of twisted flesh, warped and hissing as it crawled along the ground. The ministry believed that somehow the Death Eaters were trying to bring Voldemort’s soul back, the blackest of arts mixing with the deadliest of agendas.
The eldest stolen child had been barely three. And Harry himself had put the dying mass of flesh out of its hell, a kindness to the screeching agony it had known for the brief last hours of its tiny life. Too often they had been too late, too many had been lost, but this one, oh thank god, this one was alive. Unharmed.
Tears cut stark tracks along his face, unnoticed and unheeded as he headed to a patch of soft moss, laying the child down with exaggerated care, shaking hands reaching for his wand and light, trembling fingers touching unmarked skin and heart singing in exultation. Alive. Unharmed. Whole.
His fingers stroked against a soft cheek again and startling green eyes opened, locking on his own. He felt a sob try to escape, and choked it on a grin, smiling down at the little one who stared up at him so quietly.
Then the tiny arms reached for him in a silent plea for comfort and he did cry, gathering her up in his arms and rocking her as she howled in relief, running his hand up and down that perfect, unharmed back, along those smooth unmarked arms, pressing his face to hers and letting their tears mingle on the ground.
Eventually the howls died to sobs, then to hiccoughs as she leaned against him, one finger to her mouth, sucking hungrily on the digit. Reaching out, Harry picked up the discarded blanket on the ground, bringing it to the light. One set of parents he could return their child to, alive and well. His heart ached for the dozens for whom he never could.
Bringing the blanket to the light, he searched for a clue, a name. What he saw sent a bolt of old memories and regrets lancing through his heart. There, embroidered in a tiny seal in the corner. The lion, the snake, the badger and the Raven, united around a large H.
He hadn’t stepped foot inside his alma mater since he had graduated, leaving behind the halls, the dorms, the ghosts and feasts.
And his heart.
He hadn’t looked back.
Harry sighed and cradled the infant to his chest. The ministry was out of the question – he wouldn’t trust that stupid fart Fudge to take care of a fully-grown adult, let alone a helpless child. And Hogwarts would be a start, to find the parents, to reunite them with their lost child.
There was nothing for it.
Time to go back and face the past.
All Content Copyright © 2001 Taleya Joinson