Hi guys! For those of you who don't know, I'm the new translator taking over for Snow Owl. I'm not using a beta so please feel free to point out any mistakes you see. Happy holidays!
September 2, 1942
It had been a long time since Harry had felt so safe sleeping.
The feeling of Hogwarts' magic around him was a reassuring presence. The bed was narrow but warm, washed clean by the house elves. Sunlight was streaming through the window, and a breeze was fluttering the curtains. But thoughts of 2001 made the scene feel ethereal and dreamy, unreal and untouchable.
The Hogwarts of 2001 was already under Voldemort's control. Harry and his friends were like wolves forced to flee from their home, unwilling to stray too far, never able to get too close. The dark forces were too strong. The good places of the world were being overrun and even Hogwarts, the place which had offered them refuge for so long, had gone dark. They had lost Hogwarts and it was as if the wolves had lost water. How long could they persist without it? How long could the wolves support themselves without water?
Harry didn't know.
All he could do was move forward. Even in the deepest darkness, without a light to illuminate the way, he would continue to move forward.
Hermione had said, "Without you, this war cannot be won."
Yes, without him there was no hope for victory in the war. For the wizarding world, he's more than just their savior, he is a symbol. He is their torch in their darkest hour, lighting the way forward. Harry Potter, a name once just associated with the gimmick of surviving the killing curse, is now a symbol of strength. Just saying the name gave people hope.
He can't retreat, there is no going back, he can only go forward and lead the wolves to the next source of water.
The morning sun lit up half the sky with its warm glow.
The Great Lake was beautiful. Its calm waters and the feel of the soft wind were something Harry had greatly missed. He leaned on the railing overlooking the lake which was sparkling in the sun. He loved this place. It brought back fond memories of his third year, sharing the view with Professor Lupin.
Back then Lupin had remarked that Harry's fear of the Dementors meant that what he feared most of all was fear itself.
But what was he afraid of now? He was afraid of the death of his friends. He was afraid to give up, afraid to fail everyone. He was afraid that nothing would change, that Tom couldn't be changed. People like Tom, whether they were muggles or wizards, often grew more and more terrible as they grew up, Harry knew.
"That's the Great Lake. I hear mermaids live in there." The short haired woman said as she came to stand beside him.
Of course Harry knew about the lake and the mermaids, having been well acquainted with both during his fourth year. Harry opened his mouth but thought better of saying anything. He couldn't give any indication of familiarity. Here he had not attended Hogwarts and would need to feign ignorance about the place he thought of as his home.
Joan tilted her head, watching the young man at her side. The breeze blew through his hair making it appear wilder than ever. The sight of it made her smile but she refrained from teasing him about it. Something in Harry's expression seemed wistful and sad to her.
"Harry," Joan said after a few moments of silence, "Are you coming with me to meet with Professor Dumbledore?"
Harry looked up, took a deep breath, and straightened. When he turned to Joan he gave her a brilliant smile.
"Yeah, let's go."
Joan turned and left, Harry following behind as if he didn't know the way to the Transfiguration Professor's office. There would be no avoiding this; hiding would be suspicious, better to wear a smile to meet the next challenge in his life. He was the torch, after all, the guide to illuminate the road leading to water.
"Good morning, Professor Dumbledore." Harry said as he knocked on the man's office door.
The wise old man was sitting behind his desk and nodded to them, greeting them with a warm smile as he gestured for them to come inside. The man had reddish brown hair and his beard was much shorter than he wore it in the future. Harry was suddenly struck by just how healthy the man looked.
The room they were in wasn't the headmaster's office, of course. It was just a normal office decorated with a desk, a few shelves, and Fawkes's perch.
Dumbledore held up a box, "Candied fruit?"
"They were flown in from France this morning. My students know these are my absolute favorites and often send me some." A voice announced with pride.
Harry turned to look at the speaker.
"Good morning, Professor Slughorn."
Horace rose from his chair and plucked a piece of the candied fruit from the box and popped it into his mouth, eying Harry curiously.
"This is Joan and I'm Harry." Harry said.
"You might be interested to know this, Horace. Harry here is a family member of your favorite student, Tom Riddle." Dumbledore seemed disinclined to mention that Harry had adopted Tom. Harry smiled at the man. Blood mattered very little to him, but to a Slytherin lineage mattered quite a bit. Harry didn't want Tom's blood to overshadow what a bright person he was.
Seventy years in the future, Dumbledore had spoken to the media. Tired and old, he had tried to reveal the relationship between Tom Riddle and Voldemort.
He said, "I am part of the reason that Voldemort is Voldemort."
That sentence set off an uproar in the wizarding world. The public opinion blamed the subsequent twenty years of darkness to the man. They called his good-natured intentions hypocritical. Despite the way people were pointing their fingers at him, Harry never lost faith in Dumbledore.
"Oh! You're his brother, right?" Horace looked at the young man's face keenly before he suddenly asked, "But I could have sworn your last name was Potter!"
"Tom kept his mother's last name." Harry said when he couldn't think of a better answer. He tried to appear calm, to speak like this was a clear fact.
A thought came to Slughorn. Riddle was a surname with no background but with a proud family like the Potter's in the mix, perhaps this was situation requiring discretion. With that in mind, Horace kept the chatter to less embarrassing topics and they all spoke at length. When it was obvious that Horace was winding down the conversation and was ready to leave, Harry swallowed hard and stopped him.
Harry hesitated a moment before he said, "Professor Slughorn, Tom… how has he been doing lately?"
Horace seemed surprised for a moment. "Tom has always been ahead of the class. He's been advancing quite well in all of his courses."
Has he advanced to Horcruxes yet? Harry thought, suppressing a wry smile.
"Er, he was looking through some…" Harry wrestled with his words, eyes inadvertently coming to rest on Professor Dumbledore before he swept them away. He took a deep breath and tried to calm his heartbeat. "I came across him looking at some very dangerous books and I'm a bit concerned about him."
Horace smile and waved his hand. "You can set aside your fears; Tom has proven himself to be completely trustworthy. In fact, he has shown himself to be such an exemplary student that we allow him access to the forbidden section of the library. I'm sure that whatever he was looking at, he was doing it to further his knowledge of magic, not for any terrible cause."
Yes, I know you trust him. You gave him the knowledge on how to split his soul.
"Yes, well, I'd still appreciate it if you'd talk to him about it." Harry couldn't help but glance at Dumbledore. The old man's face had a slightly frozen look to it. Harry's heart grew tight but he smiled politely at Slughorn.
"I understand. I will look into the situation." Horace said, giving Harry a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
"You…" Joan started as they stepped out of Dumbledore's office. Harry shot her a look and she decided to hold back her question. She couldn't understand Harry. He seemed so contradictory to her now. When she looked at him, she saw a man blinded by Tom's disguise, seeing only his grace and politeness. What an unexpected turn of events for Harry to have seemingly caught on to the child's game.
Harry let his thoughts wander as he lay in bed. He had told Slughorn his suspicions in front of Dumbledore. His goal had been achieved. Dumbledore had been alerted to Tom Riddle's dabbling.
In his fifth year, Tom would learn how to make a Horcrux, split his soul, and make the diary. In his sixth year, Tom would open the Chamber of Secrets, kill a girl, and frame another student. Dumbledore still didn't know that Tom was the heir of Slytherin. He hadn't met Tom when he was young and seen his potential cruelty. He had never seen Tom for what he truly was. Maybe Tom would open the Chamber any way; maybe he would kill a girl and frame Hagrid. But now the seed had been planted and Dumbledore's suspicions would inevitably turn to Tom. Tom would be forced to stop once again, if nothing else.
Still, it seemed unkind to manipulate people into viewing Tom with suspicion. He hadn't committed the crimes yet. He was still an innocent child.
It's important, Harry told himself. Dumbledore had to be watchful because Harry couldn't stay at Hogwarts to keep an eye on Tom, couldn't stop him when he was so far away. He needed someone else, in a better position, to make sure that Tom was on his best behavior. Really, there was no better choice than Dumbledore.
Harry buried his head in the pillow, and though it was only noon, he felt tired. What was the purpose of this era to him now? He had wanted Tom to realize what it meant to be loved, but love hadn't paid off. Now he had to remain alert to what the child was doing and make sure he was in an environment that would keep a watchful eye on him.
Harry rested in the bedroom, not wanting to leave and take the next step. He was suddenly feeling nervous about running into Tom. Tom would greet him with a smile on his handsome face and Harry's instinct would be to turn and run.