Prologue: All Saint's Day, 1981, The Nest
Prologue: All Saint's Day, 1981, The Nest
Albus Dumbledore couldn't help but notice that the place looked like an overgrown tree house. A log cabin perched upon tall columns, nestled amongst a heavy wooded area. The house was at least up two stories from the ground. It was surrounded on all sides by an extensive forest preserve that, on further inspection, was thicker than even the Forbidden Forest. Upon further reflection, Albus decided that it was the perfect house for the couple.
He was an older man, but that did not make him frail in the slightest. He was of medium height and relatively slender build, with slightly khaki colored skin and snow-white hair. His eyes sparkled like the clear, star-filled night sky above him, though with light blue color, hidden behind oval shaped glasses. He wore robes of deep purple, and a pointed hat of a similar color, to cover up the slowly growing bald spot on the top of his head. He was not vain, per-say, but to say he was fine with the spot would be a lie.
Dumbledore continued to walk up to the house, heading up the rickety wooden steps. The house was still "in progress," as it only had one floor at the time, with the most basic of amenities. The couple was fine with this when they only had one child; but Albus also knew that this was not a permanent condition; eventually, they would need to expand. But for now, they were all cramped together.
A pang of guilt entered him as he reached the door, recognizing the burden he was about to place on them. In the end, though, this was the only safe and happy alternative for them all. As he paused outside of it, he could hear two voices conversing calmly. One of the voices had a deep, rough male Chicagoan accent. The other, in stark contrast, was feminine, with a low-pitched but smooth, thick Scottish accent.
"I'm simply saying, once we add the second floor we'll be more than ready, Nathaniel," the female commented, "We're handling Maggie alright, and we always wanted two children, maybe three."
"Melinda, I'm not saying we're not ready, I'm saying I don't want to bring another child into this world while You-Know-Who is still at large," Nathaniel sighed.
"We don't know when he'll be defeated, and I don't want to put off our family because of him. That shows how much power he truly has over us," Melinda replied stubbornly, "What happened to the man brave enough to leave behind his whole entire country and family just to marry a girl from Scotland?"
"He's been living with her for a few years now in a country that wants to kill him, his wife, his daughter, and everyone his wife loves," Nathaniel shot back. There was an awkward pause.
"I'm not saying never. I'm not even saying that I regret having Margaret, or that I regret being here with you and fighting against You-Know-Who. I would never regret all that. I just… want to be cautious with our second child, that's all. We've gone into hiding, Melinda. Surely that has to count for something in your decision," Nathaniel clarified calmly.
"I know," Melinda sighed, "I am just… not pleased that we have."
"Lily and James have been in hiding for a year. It was about time we followed suit, you being the closest person to Lily and all," Nathaniel soothed.
"It's just a frustrating reality to live in, that of we're in hiding and can't just go out as we please, say to Braemar or even over to Aberdeen," Melinda mumbled sadly.
"Oh please, not being able to go to the village is a blessing. I never understand what they're saying over there, they all speak Gaelic," Nathaniel scoffed.
"Everyone at Braemar does not speak…"
"They most definitely do. Anyway, have you heard from Lily recently? She was supposed to check in with us yesterday."
"I haven't heard from much anyone lately, actually. Since we went into hiding last month all I've had is a solitary letter from Dumbledore and another from Lily, both a while ago," Melinda paused, "But you're right, we should have heard from her yesterday. Should we get worried?"
"In a normal world? No. In our world? Yes."
"Great," Melinda sighed, "Now I'm worried. My cousin…"
At that moment, Dumbledore decided it was the proper time to knock on the front door and announce his presence. The two inside went completely silent and he knew he had terrified them in that instant.
"It's me, Albus," Dumbledore called calmly.
"Prove it," Nathaniel shouted back, "What was it you said to Melinda when she decided to marry me?"
"It's cruel of you to bring an innocent American into our troubles," Dumbledore replied smoothly, a slight smile on his face.
"That's right, let 'im in," Melinda laughed. The door opened and Dumbledore faced the young couple. Melinda was of medium height and curvy build, with long, thick dark red hair and almond shaped bright green eyes, and extremely pale skin. Nathaniel was tall, of stocky build, with dark brown and shaggy, dark brown hair, and richly colored, dark reddish-brown skin.
"Hello Albus," Melinda smiled, "How are you?"
"I'm afraid I have bad news, Melinda. But we should wait for…" Dumbledore paused as another, also Scottish voice rang out, "Alright, I'm here."
A tall, stern woman walked up the endless number of stairs to the house. She was very thin, with pinkish pale skin, and taupe colored hair tied back in a severe bun.
"Hello, Minerva," Dumbledore and Melinda said in unison.
"Hello, hello. You haven't heard yet, Albus tells me, because you've been in hiding," Minerva sighed, "But it's happened. Our worst fear."
"What, what?" Melinda looked between the two older people in confusion and dread. Nathaniel walked up behind her and gently put his hand on her shoulder, squeezing it comfortingly.
"Lily and James have been killed," Albus stated calmly, "I'm so sorry."
Melinda let out a sob and put her hands in front of her face, "No!"
"Yes," Minerva sighed, "I am sorry too, Melinda. Obviously we all loved Lily, and you most of all."
Melinda nodded, tears flowing down her face, "It was You-Know-Who that did it?"
"Yes," Albus sighed.
"What happened to their boy? Harry?" Nathaniel asked calmly, "You told me he was the one You-Know-Who was after, in the end."
"He's alive," Albus murmured.
Melinda and Nathaniel looked at Dumbledore as if he was insane. Perhaps what he was.
"You-Know-Who kills two fully grown, fully able wizards and leaves the baby alone? I don't believe it," Melinda whispered.
"He didn't leave him alone. Harry survived, and Voldemort has been destroyed," Dumbledore stated calmly.
"What?!" Melinda and Nathaniel gasped.
"It is a complicated story, though the short version is that Voldemort didn't set out to kill Lily. She died, unnecessarily, to protect Harry. Because she did, she protected him, and he was shielded from Voldemort's killing curse. It rebounded, and now Voldemort is gone. This all happened yesterday," Dumbledore explained calmly.
Melinda and Nathaniel looked at each other in amazement.
"Is he dead? Voldemort?" Nathaniel asked, his voice rather shaky.
"The Ministry- your employers, Melinda- will want you to think so. But I do not agree," Dumbledore answered, his eyes narrowing, "I believe he's been weakened, and we can expect him back. Maybe not now, maybe not a decade from now, but he'll be back."
"We are certainly in a time of relative peace now, though," Minerva interjected, "That much can be agreed upon."
"Yes," Dumbledore nodded, "Yes. I do believe he'll be gone for some time."
"What will happen to the boy?" Melinda asked quietly.
"Well, I was hoping you could take care of him. Because his mother died to protect him, her blood will protect him for a long while- until he comes of age, he will be protected, at least in part, from Voldemort, at least at home. You are related to his mother, and I believe your care would be preferable to that of her sister, Petunia, and her muggle family, don't you?" Dumbledore asked.
Melinda nodded, along with Nathaniel, "Of course we'll take him."
"Where is he?" Nathaniel asked.
"Hagrid has him, he's bringing him over," Dumbledore answered.
"Do you really think it wise, Albus? To trust Hagrid with something as important as this?" Minerva asked calmly.
"I would trust Hagrid with my life," Dumbledore responded calmly.
"As would I," Melinda agreed.
Nathaniel looked skeptical, but in the next moment a large rumble could be heard outside of the house. Rather than allow the large man walk up the rickety steps, Melinda led the party down the long steps to the ground below. And Hagrid was indeed a large man, at least one and a half times as tall as one and most definitely wider than expected. He had a deep, dark complexion, with long curly black hair and an equally long and curly black beard. His eyes were brown and almost as sparkly as Dumbledore's.
"'Ere he is, Dumbledore, Melinda," Hagrid greeted, carrying a small bundle in his arms. Nathaniel came down with a small toddler, with dark brown hair and dark reddish brown skin to match his own. Her eyes were like her mother's, brilliantly green and almond shaped. She looked around the woods curiously, finally looking up at the sky with a laugh.
"Still can' believe it about Lily an' James," Hagrid sobbed as he handed the bundle to Dumbledore, "Right tragic, it is."
"You're right, Hagrid," Melinda murmured, "But there's nothing to be done but move forward."
"You're right," Hagrid nodded, "Forgettin' meself is all. Good to see you, Melinda, Nathaniel."
"I expect we'll be seeing each other more often," Nathaniel smiled.
"That's the other thing I wish to ask of you, and I believe this shall be more of a burden on you two," Dumbledore sighed. Melinda and Nathaniel looked at him wearily, the young girl at Nathaniel's side looking up at Hagrid with wide, curious eyes.
"What, Dumbledore?" Melinda sighed.
"I wish for you to shield Harry from the wizarding world until he receives his Hogwarts letter," Dumbledore commanded mournfully, "And as a result, your children as well. They may know magic, obviously, and that you two are a witch and a wizard. But I do not want Harry to grow up in a world where he is a hero for something he couldn't control. That is too much pressure and fame for a young boy. I know it will be difficult, but all I ask is that you shield him from all of that."
Melinda glared at Dumbledore, "Are you sure that it's a good idea to keep him isolated that long? To keep Margaret isolated that long as well? I don't see the logic."
"Well think about it Melinda," Minerva paused, "Everyone in the Wizarding World is going to know that boy's name. He's going to constantly be barraged by people, recognized on the streets; people will worship him from this moment on. And the pressure!"
"I see where they're coming from, Mel," Nathaniel sighed, "Everyone will expect him to be more than he is. He won't be able to be a kid."
Melinda frowned for another minute, before nodding. She turned back to Dubmledore and asked, "And our jobs?"
"It's alright, Melinda," Nathaniel paused, "I can run the Apothecary from home, sending owls out to my employees. Owls are alright, Dumbledore?"
"Yes," Dumbledore nodded, "I of course know there are some things you can't hide them from, and that is one of them. And obviously you can go visit your family in America, Nathaniel."
"Will I be able to continue my work at the Ministry? As a diplomat?" Melinda sighed.
"You may, the Minister has approved it through correspondence until you return to the Wizarding World. I am sorry, Melinda," Dumbledore sighed.
"That's fine," Melinda paused, folding her arms across her chest, "Be glad we're alright with this, Dumbledore."
"I know you two are reasonable but this is beyond my hopes," Dumbledore paused, "And I thank you profusely."
"Ah, it's alright," Melinda sighed as she stepped forward and took the bundle of baby from Dumbledore's arms, "We'll see you lot in ten years or so."
"Also, another thing. Concerning who you write to," Dumbledore paused, "It might interest you to know that Severus Snape has switched over our side, and has my complete trust."
Melinda and Nathaniel both raised their eyebrows.
"You sure, Albus?" Melinda frowned, "I know Severus very well, but even I wouldn't…"
"I am absolutely sure, Melinda, and please don't question me on it again," Dumbledore stated, "Shall we go, Minerva, Hagrid?"
The two nodded and all three stepped out on to the path leading up to the house. Minerva looked down at the baby's face. He had pale skin with rose undertones, a lot of messy, black hair, and a lightning bolt scar running down his forehead. He was asleep, and happily so, curled up in Melinda's arms.
"Oh, and Melinda?" Dumbledore called from the road. She looked up at the man immediately.
"Be sure to write," the twinkle in Dumbledore's blue eyes could be seen as he spun in midair and disappeared out of sight.