Professor Minerva McGonagall was a teacher who loved teaching. Nothing gave her a greater joy than passing her knowledge on to all that came through the doors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. What she hated was administration, which was, unfortunately, a large part of the job of the Deputy Headmistress. The sending of the Hogwarts letters was one of her least favorite tasks. This year's task was proving just as tiresome, with another new set of textbooks, from yet another new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Quirrell. She sighed. It was becoming increasingly difficult for Albus to fill the post, and competent candidates were few and far between. Quirrell had at least taught before.
With the letters completed, all that remained to be done was to address them. She was thankful this was a task which she could complete rapidly using a series of simple charms. She duplicated each year's letters and used a second charm to address them with details from the school's magical list of students. With a wave of her wand she sent the majority of letters off to the school's owls for posting. The only remaining letters were the first years and ones for the Quidditch Captains, Prefects, Head Boy and Head Girl.
The last task was to sort the first years' letters, ensuring that the Muggle-born students would have their letter delivered by a teacher to explain all about the Wizarding world. Minerva always liked to glance at the new admissions to see if there were any interesting names. There often was. This year was no exception with a Malfoy, another Weasley, young Neville Longbottom and the niece of Amelia Bones all starting school this year. Minerva had just sorted Susan Bones' letter into the pile to be delivered by owl when she encountered something she had not seen before. With surprise she examined the letter.
Behind the Bins, Lane off Mare Street, London.
Interesting, thought Minerva. There was no name on the envelope and a highly unusual address. She placed the letter to one side: as soon as the rest of the letters were complete she would question Albus about this.
Once she had finishing the remainder of the letters, she set off to the Headmaster's Office. Approaching the stone gargoyle that guarded the Headmaster's Office, she rattled off the name of the strange Muggle sweet that was the current password. This caused the gargoyle to slide aside, allowing her access. Minerva never understood why the Headmaster picked these most ridiculous passwords. She knocked on the door to the office and entered. Albus Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk, paperwork neatly arranged in front of him and his long white beard tucked neatly out of the way. It perturbed Minerva that even when she came in on unexpected business, he always seemed as if he was expecting her.
"Minerva, what can I do for you today? Would you care for a lemon drop?" Albus welcomed her as he rose from his seat and gestured towards a chair in front of his desk.
"I have a slight issue with one of our new admissions this year," she replied as she took a lemon drop from the bowl on the desk. "It seems this particular student does not have a name."
Albus took the envelope from her and examined the address.
"You have examined the register of students I assume, Minerva?"
"Yes, there was nothing unusual there."
"Well, it seems that we have ourselves a mystery," replied Albus. "Most curious; I suggest you visit this location and attempt to find our student."
"What does this mean, though? In all my years here I have never seen such a thing," questioned Minerva.
"All I can offer is my best guess at this point, Minerva, but I suspect that the School itself has detected an eligible student who has somehow been overlooked by our registers," replied Albus.
"I'll visit the location this afternoon once all the other letters have been sent," said Minerva. "Do you really expect we will find anyone though?"
"I am confident that there is a student; Hogwarts would not have generated this letter needlessly. I am visiting the Ministry tomorrow and will check the Magical Births Register to see if that will shed any light on the matter."
Their business concluded, Minerva stood to leave the office. Albus' had provided some insight, but it would not be solved until they found the boy or girl, if they actually existed.
"Very well, Albus. Good Day."
"Good day, Minerva, and do have fun in London," replied Albus.
It was early evening when Minerva Apparated into a quiet corner of a public park near Mare Street. The street itself obviously served as a high street of sorts for the local Muggle residents. A steady flow of traffic moved along the road and the Muggles bustled along with their shopping. They were quite oblivious to the fact that there was a witch strolling along their street and that, quite possibly, a young wizard or witch was already living among them.
Minerva investigated several lanes leading off Mare Street. They were mostly dirty affairs, consisting of service entrances for the various shops that fronted onto the main street. It was the third such lane where Minerva made a discovery. She had investigated the bins in every lane so far; after all, that was what the envelope had said. Behind this set of bins a set of old newspapers were laid out on the ground partly covered by what appeared to be a pile of dirty old rags. It looked to Minerva as if someone was sleeping in this disgusting place.
As she knelt down to examine the makeshift bed a noise from the alley's entrance caused her to spin around, but there was nothing apart from the passing of the occasional Muggle on the main street. Sloppy, Minerva, she thought to herself. She had become too absorbed in investigating to check for danger.
After thoroughly examining the remainder of the lane, she had discovered nothing further of interest. Sighing, Minerva decided to wait it out and see if her student came back to their "home". This was the best lead she had so far. Transforming into her Animagus form, the silver tabby cat leapt gracefully onto one of the nearby walls separating the lane from neighbouring properties and waited.
The sun set, Muggles came and went on the busy high street, the neighbouring restaurants became busy with the evening rush and then quieted as evening became night. When the restaurants finally began to close and there had been no activity in the lane she jumped down off the wall and, transforming back, strode out onto the street. Looking about, she spied one of the staff from the nearby restaurant who was quickly packing up the shop front, obviously keen to be home after a long day at work.
"Excuse me sir?" Minerva said, attempting to attract his attention.
"We're closed, sorry, ma'am," he replied.
"Oh, no, I only have a quick question for you. Do you ever have any troubles with tramps around here? Or maybe runaway children?" questioned Minerva.
"From time to time, always after anything we throw out, you know. Haven't seen any for a couple of days, come to think of it. The coppers always tend to move them on when they can."
"Indeed. Thank you for your time, you have been most informative," said Minerva sighing.
The chances of her finding this lost child seemed to be getting slimmer. If he or she had been there, they were now gone. Finding a single child without a name in Muggle London would be like finding a lost wand in the Forbidden Forest. With her inquiries for today concluded, she strode back down the now near-deserted street and upon finding a secluded spot to Apparate returned to Hogwarts.
Minerva returned to her office and as she was depositing her cloak her office door opened with a soft click and Albus entered.
"Ah, Minerva. I trust your day has been productive?" He inquired.
"Unfortunately, not, Albus. There are definite signs that someone has been living there, but the locals have not seen any suspicious activity. I myself observed the area for many hours and found nothing," she replied sadly.
"This is most unfortunate. I fear that unless new information comes to light, there is little we can do for the poor child," Albus sighed.
"I am not going to give up so easily! I will return to the area to look for him or her. If a child is living in those conditions they need our help, badly," replied Minerva passionately.
"Very well, I will ask the Ministry to monitor the area when I visit tomorrow. However, I must insist that if the child is not found by the start of term, you leave the investigation to the Ministry. You will be needed here."
Minerva was about to object.
"Minerva, I am confident the child will be found, but you have responsibilities here as well," said Albus gently.
"Very well, Headmaster," Minerva replied with a sigh.
As Albus left her office, she silently swore that she would do whatever she could to ensure that this magical child received the education they were entitled to.
Ginny October 31st 1991
"Ginny! Ginny!" A loud shout echoed up the stairs from the kitchen.
Ginny rolled over in bed and tried to go back to sleep. Even though the sun was now brightly lighting her room, it was far too early to get up. Since her brothers had all left for Hogwarts, there was less to do around The Burrow with just Mum around, so she had started sleeping later.
"GINNY! GET UP!!" the shouting continued.
She knew that meant it was now useless to try to sleep. If she didn't get up now, she would soon be dragged out of bed by her mother, so she grudgingly got up to start the day.
Ginny walked into the kitchen a short time later. She had been instructed to dress her best today as she was going to the anniversary ceremony at the Ministry. In honour of the occasion, she had put on her best skirt and favourite yellow top, which offset her fiery red hair.
"Oh, Ginny! You do look nice. Well done!" Her mum complimented as she entered the kitchen.
Ginny sighed. She swore sometimes her mum didn't trust her to dress herself... she was ten for Merlin's Sake!
"Thanks, Mum," Ginny replied as she sat down and began eating the breakfast. "What time do I have to leave today?"
"We have about an hour to sort out your hair before you need to Floo to your father's office," answered Mum.
"Mum! I'm old enough to do my own hair," Ginny replied, her temper beginning to show.
"I know, dear, but you must look your best today for the ceremony," Mum replied.
An hour and a quarter later, Ginny emerged from the fireplace at the Ministry of Magic. Even though she had been here several times with her father, the entrance to the Ministry was always daunting. She had entered at the far end of the Atrium and walked along the polished wood floor towards the fountain looking for her father.
"Ginny! Over here," her dad called as he stood near the fountain.
"Daddy!" she replied, waving back.
As Ginny trotted over to meet him she saw that the Atrium was different today. "Dad, is that stage for the ceremony later?" she questioned.
"Yes, Ginny. The Minister will stand there and give his speech. Look, can you see the monument they will unveil? It's the big block covered by a red cloth," asked her dad as he pointed.
"Yes, Dad. Can we go and look at it?"
"Not now, Ginny. We'll go after it's unveiled if you want. First, let's go and get some lunch before it all gets started," Dad said brightly as he took her hand and they walked off together towards the lifts.
Once they had finished their lunch Ginny and her father stood amongst the crowd of dignitaries, Ministry officials and members of the Wizarding public as they listened to the Minister's speech.
The Minister's voice echoed throughout the Atrium. "It has been ten years since He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named fell, defeated by the Potter family who made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of the wizarding world."
From the position Ginny and her dad had taken, she couldn't actually see the Minister, but his magically amplified voice filled the chamber, and those assembled listened intently.
"We have assembled here today to celebrate the fall of evil in our world and to remember all those that gave their lives fighting for our freedom.
"We remember those who were injured, those who lost loved ones; wives, husbands, parents, brothers, sisters and friends. For even though the sacrifices made were immense, we know that those who made those sacrifices can rest easy knowing that we succeeded in driving evil from our world.
"Today, we unveil our statue of remembrance here in the Ministry of Magic. Let their sacrifices never be forgotten."
Once the Minister had finished speaking he pointed his wand at the statue and the red cloth fell away, revealing a smooth dark stone that reflected the light. It seemed to Ginny that from a distance it looked like the surface of the pond just outside The Burrow. Loud applause filled the room.
"Daddy! Can we go and look at it?" pleaded Ginny.
"Certainly, Pumpkin. Let's join the line. We may have to wait a while though," replied dad.
The queue moved far too slowly for Ginny's liking. Eventually, she and her dad reached the front of the line.
"Ginny, look here," her dad was pointing up at the monument.
Ginny was short, so she had to stand on her tip-toes to see the names that her father was pointing at.
Fabian Prewett Gideon Prewett
"Who are they, Daddy?" she questioned.
"They were your two uncles, Ginny, your mum's brothers. They died in the war just before you were born," her farther replied sadly.
"Oh..." Ginny replied unsure if she should be sad or not. She had never met these people.
Her eyes scanned the monument looking for any familiar names. The three names near the bottom of the monument attracted her notice; they were the names the Minister had mentioned earlier.
James Potter Lily Potter Harry Potter
"Daddy, what happened to the Potters? How did they kill him?" Ginny asked as her father was leading her away from the monument.
"No one really knows, Ginny, except perhaps Professor Dumbledore. All we know is that You-Know-Who went to kill them, but when he tried to there was an explosion that killed him, Lily and Harry," her father replied.
"Harry would have been about my age wouldn't he, Daddy?" she asked sadly.
"He would have been in his first year at Hogwarts this year."
"Is he really gone, Daddy?"
"Is who gone, Sweetheart?" Replied her Dad.
"Yes, he's gone. Even Professor Dumbledore has said so."
They walked, in silence, back towards the fireplaces to head home. Family life is much quieter with all my brothers gone, Ginny thought as she sat with her Mum and Dad at the kitchen table at The Burrow for their evening meal. She was enthusiastically describing her day at the Ministry.
"Mum, have you heard from Ron yet?" she asked excitedly. She couldn't wait until she could go to Hogwarts like her brothers next year.
"No, Ginny. Your brother is in big trouble when he gets back for Christmas. He still hasn't written!" her mum replied in frustration. They had only heard that Ron had been Sorted into Gryffindor from Percy. "As it happens, I had a letter from Professor McGonagall today. Your brother nearly got himself hurt! He and his new friend Neville Longbottom ran off and nearly came face to face with a troll! "
Ginny squeaked, "He is okay, isn't he, Mum?"
"Yes, dear, luckily a professor stopped the troll, but he will be getting a Howler tomorrow," said Mum with her previous anger over the issue returning.
Ginny was relieved that her brother was fine, but the thought that Ron was off making new friends without her was making her feel even more lonely without him around. She was relieved it was only two more months until Ron and the rest would be back home for Christmas.
Adam 24th December 1991
Adam sprinted down the street, cursing his luck. The last guy he had tried to lift some money off had caught him in the act and was now pelting after him down the busy street. He couldn't get caught, he wouldn't get caught. If he was caught he would be taken to the cops and they would soon figure out who he was and what he had done. He dashed across the road, causing passing cars to blast their horns and brake to avoid him. It worked; his pursuer was forced to stop before he could cross. Taking advantage of his momentary lead, Adam ducked into a nearby side street and continued running.
Eventually, when Adam was satisfied that he had lost his pursuer, he slowed to a walk. He needed to catch his breath. His small size generally gave him one advantage, he was quick. His stomach groaned painfully, reminding him that he needed something to eat. It had gotten much harder recently to steal food. What little money he had was long gone. His clothes were stained and torn and he wore an over-sized coat that came down nearly to his knees. His light brown hair was growing long and shaggy, covering his ears and eyes, and forcing him to continually brush it away to keep his vision clear. Adam had always liked to keep his hair short; when it grew long it had a tendency to stick up uncontrollably. It hadn't taken him long to figure out that his current appearance always put shopkeepers on their guard when he walked in, resulting in it becoming nearly impossible to steal a sandwich or anything from a shop.
He wandered the streets aimlessly, looking for an opportunity. Truthfully, he hated stealing, but at this point he didn't have much choice. Things had been better a few months back when he had managed to stay in a lane behind a restaurant for several weeks. The foreign chef they employed had been kind and gave him whatever scraps he could. Then the lady in long black clothes had turned up. She had somehow known where he was--he guessed the chef must have told her. He hadn't stayed there since.
Adam eventually wandered back the way he came, until he came back to the main high street. Glancing in the window of a nearby shop, he noticed the date, it was Christmas Eve. Adam sighed; it would be his first Christmas on the run. He had been on his own for six months now. Still, maybe if he was lucky and could get some money, he could buy himself a Christmas treat. It wasn't as if he normally had many presents at Christmas anyway.
As he continued down the street he spotted his next target. The man stuck out a mile. He was gawking in the window of the local electronics store, as if he were a kid looking into a toy shop. He was wearing a type of hat that Adam hadn't seen before. It had a pointy top and it was bright red, the same colour as the man's hair which was poking out from underneath the hat. The man pulled out a small pouch and began rummaging inside it. As Adam watched he pulled out a £5 note, squinted at it through his glasses, and then stared back into the window as if trying to determine if he had enough money. Adam's stomach groaned again and he decided to make his move. He slowly approached the man.
Feeling incredibly guilty for what he was about to try and do, Adam said, "Excuse me, sir?"
"Yes, son?" the man replied.
The man turned and Adam could see him look him up and down with a sad expression on his face. Quick as a flash Adam's hand shot out, grabbed the pouch the man held loosely in his hand and ran. He heard the man shout after him, but as Adam glanced over his shoulder he saw the man just standing in front of the shop with a look of shock on his face. Adam kept running. He didn't want to risk the man changing his mind and coming after him. He ran until the man was out of sight. Surprisingly, he had made no attempt to pursue him. Adam stopped to examine the contents of the pouch. He sighed with relief when he saw there was money inside it, plenty of money. He would be able to get something to eat at last.
As evening came, Adam walked through the local park. Picking out a bench he sat down and began eating the sandwiches he had bought. Despite his hunger he ate as slowly as he could, knowing from experience that if he went days without food he needed to go slowly. Otherwise, he would just be sick and waste the food.
There had been nearly ten pounds in the man's pouch, along with a collection of strange gold, silver and bronze coins. Adam had no idea what they were. With the money he had bought himself sandwiches, other bits of food that he could hopefully make last several days and his Christmas present to himself, a bar of chocolate.
Adam stayed in the park for the rest of the evening, watching the world. He felt much happier with food in his stomach. Things were looking up, he had food and enough money to last him some time if he was careful. As the sun began to set he stood up and began to walk again, looking for a place to sleep. He needed somewhere out of sight of the main roads; the last thing he wanted was to be spotted. Spotting a covered entrance to a building set back off the main street, he approached it. He needed to check there was nobody else there; nicking someone else's sleeping spot would be bad, very bad. Satisfied that it was safe Adam took off his coat, lay down and wrapped it around him like a blanket. He made sure his body weight was placed on top of his money; it wouldn't do for it to go missing while he slept, as had happened before.
Adam closed his eyes and as he attempted to doze off he muttered to himself, "Happy Christmas."
Author Notes: This is the first real chapter and the first look at our POV characters for this book. Thanks to my beta, Arnel, for her hard work.