Kingsley and Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody walked casually through King’s Cross station. They had already examined platform 9 ¾ both magically and on foot and had found no evidence of Harry ever stepping foot on the platform. Now they had crossed the barrier and had to be careful in their use of magic so as not to alarm the muggles streaming past them. They were rather limited in their searching techniques as they could not question anyone passing. They had no idea who could have been here that day in the station, and they also couldn’t afford to draw the attention of the muggle police.
After searching the area for any signs of a magical struggle, they stepped back through the barrier and consulted each other. They were outside the range of muggle hearing, so they could talk freely.
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know,” Moody replied, “There weren’t any hints of dark magic—there was barely any magical traces at all!”
Then an idea occurred to them that was so simple, they couldn’t believe they hadn’t thought of it sooner. They realized why it hadn’t been used before in this case: for a locating charm to work, it needs to be suited to the mental signature of the victim. No one, aside from Hagrid, had seen Harry in the past 10 years, aside from the occasional meeting on the street. There was another locating device, a potion, but it was less accurate. All they would need for that was an item recently used by Harry. They apparated back to Kingsley’s apartment and flooed to Dumbledore’s office.
They were in such haste that they forgot to check first to see if Dumbledore was able to see them. Luckily, Dumbledore was in his office and quickly made time in his schedule to talk with the two aurors. Dumbledore had asked the head of the auror department to spare an auror or two to help him in his search for Harry Potter and the two men standing before him had been in the Order of the Phoenix while Voldemort was still at large. Dumbledore didn’t want the wizarding world to get wind that their savior was missing, so their investigation was conducted in secret.
Dumbledore smiled at them and offered them a Lemon Pop. “Did you find anything?”
They both shook their head. “No, but we wanted to know where Harry has been living these past 10 years.”
Dumbledore smiled patiently at them and his eyes twinkled. “Harry has been living with his aunt and uncle. His aunt is his mother’s sister. I assure you that they have already been questioned by one of my staff.”
“Where do they live? We want to use one of Harry’s belongings so that we can use a locating potion.” Kingsley explained.
“Why, that’s a great idea,” Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling, “They live at Number 4, Privet Drive, in Little Whinging.” Kingsley and Moody nodded and flooed back to Kingsley’s apartment.
Just a little over an hour later, they were back in his apartment, disgusted at the behavior of Harry’s relatives, but successful in their endeavor to retrieve an article of Harry’s. They held up an old, baggy shirt (Moody had commented gruffly that it looked like it would be fit for a whale) and dipped it in the potion they had borrowed from Snape. If they were able to pick up a signature, then they could safely assume that Harry hadn’t been kidnapped, for a kidnapper always hides the magical signature so that the kidnapped cannot be traced. Once the allotted time before the locating device was operational had passed, a thin golden line rose from the potion and formed a hazy bubble a foot above the cauldron. Kinsley and Moody leaned forwards, trying to glimpse the image in the bubble.
In the bubble a large tree was shown, with its branches hanging low, a tree that would be easy to climb. The area underneath the branches was dark, but the two aurors had enough of a mental image to be able to apparated there. They left the cauldron smoking, and apparated to the location that they hoped would provide the missing Harry Potter.
But when they got there they found nobody. There was no living thing in the vicinity, save for the tree. Kingsley muttered, “Lumos” and the ground under the tree was lit up. It was very bumpy, and Kingsley could see a trunk and an empty owl cage abandoned near the base of the tree. It looked as though it hadn’t been disturbed for several days. Moody had also noticed the items and was bending over them. “Locked,” he announced.
Kinsley performed a spell that measured the magic levels in the area. “There’s no sign of a struggle and there hasn’t been any magic performed recently. Should we bring the trunk and cage to Dumbledore for him to examine?” Moody gave the clearing one last look and agreed. They apparated away, Moody clutching one end of the trunk and Kinsley’s hand firmly grasping the empty owl cage.
Harry paused, still holding the ratty, yellow dish towel with one hand and the plate with the other, and used his sleeve to wipe his brow. The kitchen window’s clasp was broken, and therefore it couldn’t be opened. This was a pity because the air in the kitchen was very humid and a cool breeze would have been welcome.
Drying the dishes after they had been washed was his daily chore. He did it once, every evening, and there was always plenty to clean. Luckily, he only had to dry them—Darius washed them. It was inevitable that Darius would finish before him, but Darius, instead of going up to their room once he had finished his portion of the chore, would help Harry finish his job. This allowed Harry to finish the job faster and then they walked back up to the room together. This happened again tonight.
Harry hadn’t done much during the past few days since his arrival at the shelter. He’d spent the majority of each day exploring the neighbourhood, relishing his new freedom, but being careful to return well before dark each night. A solitary figure in this rough area after dark was just begging for trouble. He had discovered a large library just a mile up the road and since then he had been browsing the shelves. Harry hadn’t been one for schooling when he was growing up—he just hadn’t had the time for it, but now he discovered that he had a thirst for knowledge and was able to spend hours learning useful and useless facts.
Each evening, before and after supper and dish drying, Harry watched Darius spend time with his two friends, Randy and Kris. As he watched them joke with each other this evening, he felt pangs of jealousy. He wanted that closeness, that friendship, he had observed for so many years, but never experienced. On his daily walks Hedwig joined him, settling on his shoulder (she was a bit heavy, but Harry managed) and they developed a close bond between master and familiar, but Harry longed for human friends, ones that could respond to his words.
He was sitting on his bed, and now he lay back and looked at the bottom of the bed above him. He had done this every evening and had by now memorized the wood pattern, the little grooves and dents in the wood that made it unique. It was much better than the cupboard under the stairs, where you couldn’t see anything because it was pitch black. He let his thoughts drift.
Who had been the boy who had occupied the bed Harry was lying on previously? What had happened to him? His roommates hadn’t mentioned a name or volunteered any other information about him. Whoever he had been, his roommates didn’t seem too sad about his disappearance. Harry mentally shrugged and shifted his train of thoughts. He couldn’t force them to tell him anything and he didn’t really want to either.
Unknown to Harry, Darius was watching him. Randy called his name and he returned his attention reluctantly back to the game. Randy wasn’t known for his patience and he particularly hated it when people weren’t paying attention to the card game. He always said that he didn’t have much time to waste waiting for other people, but Randy never appeared to be busy to Darius.
His last chore partner had been a scowling boy named Nathaniel. He hadn’t been friendly and had rebuffed all of his efforts to chat and become friends, so eventually Darius had decided to ignore him. Nathaniel had been mean, and had joined a large gang that had roamed the neighbourhood until recently when the police had chased them away. Nathaniel had left the shelter without a word of forewarning when that had happened and Darius didn’t know where he was now. However, Darius did know that the gang, and the gang leader, Marcel, would be back sooner or later. He wasn’t looking forward to it.
Luckily Harry, his new chore partner and roommate, was very different from his previous. Darius had noticed that Harry was quite shy and kept to himself. He also disappeared during the day time—Darius felt tempted to follow him, though he didn’t know why. He also didn’t know why he didn’t rush back up to his room after evening chores to be with his friends, like he used to, instead staying to help Harry finish his portion of the work. His friends hadn’t commented on the change in his behavior, but then again Kris and Randy weren’t that observant.
He risked Randy’s wrath and sneaked another glance at Harry. He was staring at nothing it seemed—again. He had done this each evening, and tonight Darius was going to do something about it.
“I’ll be right back.” Randy and Kris, intent on the game, barely acknowledged that he had spoken. He sighed, then got up and headed towards Harry’s bunk. Harry didn’t notice his presence and seemed surprised when Darius addressed him.
“Pardon?” Harry asked. He turned his emerald eyes to look at Darius in which Darius could see so much emotion in. He could see pain and loneliness. He pushed on, knowing that when he was upset, his friends could often cheer him up.
“I was just wondering if you wanted to play a game of cards with my friends and I…” he trailed off. Harry was just looking at him, but Darius could see something in his eyes change. Was it excitement?
Harry then moved his eyes down to the floor and mumbled something that Darius had to strain to catch, “I don’t know how to play.”
Darius smiled encouragingly. “That’s alright. We can teach you.” Then, seeing that Harry was in the midst of a mental deliberation, he walked back over to his friends. “Guys, I invited Harry to come play with us. So, you’ll need to deal in another player.” His friends just nodded, intent in the game. Finally, Randy let out a cry of victory and handed the cards to Kris, whose turn it was to deal. “Guys? Did you hear me?” Darius asked.
As a way of an answer, Kris dealt out 4 hands. Darius looked over at Harry and called, “We’re starting the next round.” He watched in relief as Harry got up off the bed and came over to join them on the floor, midway between the two bunk beds. Darius could tell that Harry was nervous, so he immediately started talking about the rules of the game, hoping to relax Harry. It worked, and the game started. Darius watched Harry carefully as the game progressed and was relieved to see that Harry appeared to be having fun, though still a little shy.
Harry was enjoying himself. He had been reluctant to take Darius up on his offer, but was now glad that he had. It was fun, playing the card game, but what was even more fun was hanging out with people who didn’t hate him. He didn’t know if he could call Kris, Randy or even Darius friends because he hadn’t had any before. But, for once in his life, he felt happy, and that was enough for him—for tonight. He gazed intently at the cards and, seeing no other option, placed an 8 of spades on the deck. “Change to hearts.”
Moody carefully placed the trunk on the floor of Dumbledore’s office. It had been difficult to floo here with a large trunk in tow, but Moody had managed it with minimal damage to the evidence. Beside him Kingsley had placed the cage.
“Would you care to take a seat?” Dumbledore gestured to the large plush couch in front of his desk. Moody hadn’t seen it there before and he was very observant (he needed it to survive in his job profession), so he assumed, correctly, that Dumbledore had conjured it. “Because I don’t see Harry in here now, and assume that you didn’t leave him elsewhere, I take it that you didn’t find him?”
Kingsley shook his head. “We used the locating potion—that’s why we needed to know where Harry lived. It showed us the location of a park just a few blocks from King’s Cross, but when we got there we saw this.” He gestured to the trunk and cage on the floor. “We didn’t open the trunk.”
Dumbledore stood and walked over to the trunk. He bent over and peered at the trunk. “Was there any signs of a struggle? Any magic use at all?”
“None, and that’s what’s so strange. If Potter was there, as we assume because this appears to be his trunk, then it looks as though he just walked away. But if so, then why can’t we track him down?” Moody said.
Dumbledore waved his wand and the lock clicked open. He pulled back the lid of the trunk and looked inside. In it were all the basics necessary for first years at Hogwarts. He lifted a robe out of the trunk and looked at the tag. Madame Malkin always sewed the names of younger students onto their robes, so that the robes would be easier to identify and the name on this robe was Harry Potter. “This is indeed Harry’s robe, so we can assume that these are Harry’s supplies for school, and that this is Harry’s trunk.”
“Has anyone questioned Hagrid? He was the one to pick Harry up.” Kingsley asked. Dumbledore nodded.
“Yes, Hagrid said it was quite an enjoyable day. He said he bought Harry a snowy owl, which would be why there is an empty cage. He said that after he handed Harry his ticket, he told Harry to owl him if there was any problem. He hasn’t owled Hagrid as of yet.” Dumbledore elaborated.
The trio discussed other ideas about Harry’s disappearance for the remaining three quarters of an hour, but they came up with no other ideas about how to find him. Finally, Dumbledore reluctantly decided to stop the search for Harry, at least until another lead came up, at which point it would be resumed.
A/N: please read and review! Feedback is greatly appreciated!