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Chapter 1 : Prologue--The Disappearance
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Her heart pounded in her chest as she ran, hot tears stinging her cheeks. Her feet pounded out an echoing rhythm in the empty hallways of Hogwarts, her eyes blurring so badly that she could hardly see where she was going. She barely knew where she was going, only that she must find him, Albus Dumbledore. He was the only one that could help her, the only one that would know what to do.
Suddenly she collided full force with someone, who stumbled backwards but managed to keep his feet. When she glanced upwards she saw it was the very man she sought that now supported her, keeping her from collapsing on the floor.
“My dear, whatever is the matter?” Dumbledore asked concernedly, tilting her head up to look at him. She fought to speak, fought to breathe through the horrible sobs that wracked her body. “Aurora? What is it?” Dumbledore supported her to a nearby bench and she sank down upon it, her limbs trembling.
“He's gone, Albus,” Aurora gasped, pushing a crumpled piece of paper into the Headmaster's hand.
Dumbledore quickly unfolded the paper, and his face became even more concerned and grave. He pulled out his wand and a silvery animal Aurora could not identify sprang away down the hall. “Come my dear, let us get you somewhere more comfortable.”
Aurora was too distraught to disagree, so she let Albus lead her slowly to his office.
“Why have you called us here?” Asked Minerva McGonagall, standing with some of the other teachers in front of Dumbledore's desk. Aurora sat in a plush, high-backed armchair facing the desk, clutching a cup of tea in her hands. She had managed to slow her sobs to an occasional hiccup, but she was still too emotional to face everyone else in the room.
“Yes indeed, I was just in the middle of writing a letter!” Puffed Professor Slughorn, coming up behind the rest. “We aren't as young as we used to be, Albus! I pretty well hope you have a good reason for calling us all up here at this hour of the night! I am sure we were all just about to retire!”
“Patience, my good man,” Dumbledore said, peering over his half-moon glasses at the large man. “As you well know, I would not call you up here, as you say, 'at this hour', if I did not indeed have something of importance to discuss with you.”
“Let's get to it then, shall we?” huffed Slughorn, elbowing his way between Snape and McGonagall, the other two teachers Dumbledore had summoned, and depositing himself in the second armchair standing in front of Dumbledore's desk. “Well hello Aurora, didn't see you there. You don't look well my dear, perhaps you should get out of the castle in the daytime a bit more, eh?”
“Horace, perhaps this meeting would move along a bit faster if you would cease talking,” Professor McGonagall said, a trifle testily.
Slughorn opened his mouth to retort, but Dumbledore hastily cleared his throat. “I have called you all here for a matter of great importance, and I do not wish to keep Aurora here any longer than necessary. If you would come closer, Severus, Minerva, I have something I wish to show you.”
Snape and Mcgonagall came forward to the desk, and Dumbledore spread out the sheet of paper Aurora had given him earlier. She shivered at the sight of what it contained, despite the heat of the teacup in her hands that was nearly enough to scald her skin.
As the words on the paper were revealed, there was a sharp gasp from McGonagall, and an inarticulate cry of protest from Slughorn.
Enclosed in the envelope along with this note you will find papers of divorce. I will not be returning home, as I am sure even you can figure out. You have served your purpose as much as possible, and I am leaving to pursue my goals. Feel free to tell your 'friends' at Hogwarts about me, but always remember that it will do no good. You know the extent of my power, even if they do not. Watch for me, for you will see me again. Standing in the ruins of Hogwarts...but yes, never doubt you will see me again.
“Albus, this is bad,” Professor McGonagall said in a near whisper.
“Headmaster,” Came the deep, oily voice of Professor Snape. “Am I correct in assuming this is the Adam you have warned us about?”
Dumbledore nodded grimly. “Before, he was only a potential threat. We now have reason to believe he might cause trouble.”
“Headmaster,” Aurora gasped, finally rousing herself enough to take her eyes from the piece of paper on the table. “He's not just a threat. Our magic is useless against him. If he decides to come after Hogwarts...”
“We will worry about that when it happens,” Dumbledore said firmly. “If the prophecy is correct, I do not believe we have to worry about that for a good while. Right now you must focus on regaining your strength, and I will contact some acquaintances and speak with them regarding the situation. Voldemort is still our first priority, at least for now.”
“What do you need us to do?” McGonagall asked.
“All of you, keep your eyes open. I believe Voldemort will be the one to make the first move, but that does not mean we should forget about Adam. Aurora, I don't want you alone outside Hogwarts at any time. I will assign someone to guard you if you must leave the grounds. The rest of you, keep careful watch for anything out of the ordinary, and let me know immediately.” Dumbledore reached forward and patted Auorora's hands with his good one, then turned to Slughorn. “I believe a Dreamless Sleep draught is in order for the next few days, Horace,” he said.
“Quite right, quite right,” Slughorn said, staring between Dumbledore and Aurora with a strange look on his face. He then heaved himself out of the chair and walked off, shaking his head and muttering to himself.
“I-I guess I'll just go back to my rooms then,” Aurora said shakily, setting the teacup down and rising from the chair. Her emotions were under only the most tenuous of control, but they were under control—at least for now. Afraid to say any more lest her voice betrayed her, she wrapped her arms around herself as she made her way out of Dumbledore's office and across the school to the Astronomy Tower, where her rooms were located.
Once inside, with the door securely bolted behind her, Aurora stumbled to her bed and collapsed upon it, letting the tears fall from her eyes as she released her control over her emotions. Adam, oh Adam what have you done? She thought desperately.
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