"Remus Lupin!" called a voice that echoed through his small flat.
Remus groaned and turned over in bed.
"Remus Lupin!" The voice called again.
Remus, deciding that he wasn't going to get back to sleep now, sat up in bed and looked blearily around his small bedroom.
The voice seemed to be coming from the living room. Remus slipped on his dressing gown and ventured out of his bedroom. The voice was coming from the fireplace; a Floo call.
"Hello?" asked Remus uncertainly.
"Ah, good afternoon, Remus," said the familiar face that was visible in the fire.
"Professor Dumbledore?" asked Remus.
"Remus," Professor Dumbledore chuckled. "You have not been my student for many years. Please call me Albus."
"What can I do for you... Albus?"
"I have an offer for you, Remus. May I come through?" Albus asked.
"Give me five minutes! I'm not dressed," Remus replied. He didn't want to meet Albus Dumbledore in his pyjamas.
Remus dashed back into his bedroom. He put on a clean set of robes and brushed his greying light brown hair into some form of neatness. He dashed back into the living room just as the Floo activated bringing Albus into his home.
"Do take a seat, Professor," Remus said hurriedly as he bustled off to the kitchen to make some tea.
Remus returned with the tea a few minutes later and sat down opposite Albus. Even though the timing of Albus' visit had surprised him, Remus had a pretty good idea what he was here about.
"Let me guess, Professor, you would like me to come and teach next year?" asked Remus with a chuckle.
"No, No! I must admit I was considering you. However, I have another friend who has agreed to do the job," Albus paused. "The job I have in mind for you, Remus, is something that I believe is far more suited to your skills and I think you will find this task of great personal interest."
Remus was silent; he assumed that Albus would soon make his intent clear.
"Your mother was Muggle-born, correct?" asked Albus.
"Yes," replied Remus, unsure as to where this discussion was going.
"Excellent, so I take it you are reasonably familiar with the Muggle world? I will require you to spend considerable time there."
"Professor, what exactly are you wanting me to do?" asked Remus.
"Ah, yes. We have had a young boy at Hogwarts this past year. He's a bit of a mystery. He was found by Minerva on the streets and has the potential to be a powerful wizard," Albus paused. "I would like you to investigate this boy to see where he comes from and, if possible, track down any remaining family. I would do it myself but I cannot afford to spend any significant time away from Hogwarts after the events of last year."
"Why are you so interested in this boy?" asked Remus. Finding a Muggle-born wizard with no known family was rare but not unheard of.
"He is a bit of an enigma. He was sorted into Gryffindor. Yet, he exhibits a skill that has been long associated with Slytherin; he's a Parselmouth. He was also responsible for saving a girl and eventually stopping the attacks that we suffered at school this past year."
"Have you considered asking the goblins to run one of their blood tests on the boy? If he is a Parselmouth then he must surely have some wizarding family," said Remus.
"I have and the results…" Albus stroked his beard. "Let's say they seem impossible and they still do not add up with the boy being a Parselmouth. I'm hoping that by investigating his past, it may uncover some new information. Information that will either confirm or deny these results," said Albus.
"What did the results say?" asked Remus.
"I think, for now, it is best if I do not tell you, Remus. I fear that if you know the results it will bias your investigation," replied Albus.
Remus sighed. "So where exactly would I start and how will I go about tracing this boy's history?" Remus asked.
"The boy's name is Adam Winters. I am reasonably sure that it isn't his birth name and was presumably given to him at some point by the Muggle authorities," Albus paused. "I also have a parchment listing the various locations that we know the boy to have been living at prior to coming to Hogwarts," said Albus, as he handed Remus the sheet of parchment.
"This isn't a lot to go on," commented Remus as he glanced at the parchment.
"I know. At some point he must have been in the care of the Muggle authorities. You should be able to trace him based on that. A young boy on foot and alone could not have gone far without attracting notice." Albus hesitated. "I also have authorisation for you to use Legilimency if you happen to encounter anyone reluctant to give you information about Adam."
Remus hesitated; he wasn't that keen on the idea of invading someone's mind and sifting through their thoughts.
"You would, of course, only use passive Legilimency to see what they are thinking as you question them. No aggressive invasions of the mind," said Albus, obviously picking up on Remus' hesitation. "Remus, if this boy proves to be who I suspect him to be, then it could have dire consequences for the entire wizarding world."
Remus considered the proposal, he needed the money that a steady job would bring him and the case had piqued his curiosity. If he could avoid using Legilimency then it would be perfect.
"I'll do it," Remus answered. "However, my Legilimency is a little rusty."
"Let us practice together then, Remus," Albus answered with a smile.
Adam June 19th 1993
Adam stared out of the window of the black Ministry car that he had been shoved into at King's Cross. He saw London stream past him as the driver sped through the streets. Adam realised the driver must be using magic; they were going far too fast for a normal car in London traffic. Truthfully, he was a little intimidated by the man assigned to escort him; he hadn't spoken to Adam at all, other than to tell him to get into the car. He wouldn't tell Adam where they were going.
They eventually pulled up outside a large building and when Adam saw it he felt worry begin to form in the pit of his stomach. He had never been to this place before but it looked familiar, almost as if he had been to similar places before. The building was a red brick building with four floors. The entrance to the building was at the top of a short set of steps leading up from the road. Above the double doors was a name. Adam couldn't read it from this distance.
The Ministry man got out of the car and went to the boot to retrieve Adam's trunk. Adam got out of the car and looked up at the building.
"Here you are. This is where you will be staying," he stated. "Someone will come for you at the end of the summer to fetch your school things and take you to King's Cross."
"What is this place?" Adam asked.
"It's a home for children. The Ministry has made arrangements with the owner for you to stay here over the summer."
Adam felt his stomach churn. He began to tremble slightly. He wasn't sure if it was nerves or anger that was causing him to tremble; it was probably both. He had told Professor Dumbledore that he didn't want to go to a children's home and he had ignored him; few of his experiences with children's homes had been good.
"I have to warn you that this is a Muggle establishment, so you will have to find a way to make sure the Muggles do not see your school things," the Ministry man stated.
"Can I send owls to my friends?"
The Ministry man seemed to think for a moment. "Well, you obviously won't be able to send anything as you don't have an owl, but if you're discrete you could probably send a reply with any owl that brings you mail," the Ministry man answered. "Now come on. I have other places to be."
Adam was tempted just to storm off there and then, but he was somewhat mollified that he would at least be able to reply to any letters Ginny sent to him. Anyway, the Ministry man had already taken his trunk, with all his things in it, up to the top of the stairs and pressed a button on the side of the door.
The door to the building opened and a woman stood there. She and the Ministry man held a quick conversation. He then came back down the stairs and without a word to Adam got back in the car and drove off.
"Are you Adam?" The woman asked in a kindly voice.
"Come on in then," she replied with a smile.
Adam stood at the bottom of the stairs, frozen in indecision. He was incredibly tempted, based on his past experience, to just leave, but that would mean trying to survive until school started again. Alternatively, he could stay here; maybe it wouldn't be too bad.
Having made his decision, Adam climbed the steps and entered the door. If it was unpleasant, he could always sneak away later. After all, he could do magic now!
"Let me show you where you'll be staying," said the woman as she gestured for him to follow her. She carried his trunk up the stairs to the second floor.
On the second floor they turned into a corridor that featured many identical doorways, the woman approached one of the doors, opened it and entered the room with Adam following. The room contained a bed, a small cupboard and a wardrobe. The bed itself was steel framed and had a mattress. It did not look anywhere near as comfortable as Hogwarts' beds, but Adam had slept in much worse. The woman came to a stop and placed his trunk at the foot of the bed.
"This will be your room, Adam," she said. "The rest of the children are either in the common room on the ground floor or outside in the garden. My office is downstairs, if you need anything."
Adam began to slowly unpack his trunk. He took out only his Muggle clothes and was careful to leave his school robes and equipment in the trunk. He decided he would keep his wand in his pocket. It was the most valuable thing he had. He closed his trunk and placed it at the foot of his bed, carefully ensuring that it was locked.
Adam wandered over to the window that was situated near the headboard of his bed. He glanced out into the garden that was behind the building. There were several groups of children in the garden; they appeared to be playing sports. He spotted cricket and football. Adam sighed and looked at the bed and cupboard that would be his home for the summer. He really missed his room in Gryffindor Tower and he really missed Ginny. When Adam thought of Ginny, he felt a pang of anxiousness; he hoped she would recover from her ordeal in the Chamber now that she was back with her family. Hopefully, she would write to him soon and then he could reply.
Adam lay down on his bed and stared at the ceiling. Oh well, things could be worse, he thought.
A short time later, Adam decided to go and see the common room the woman had mentioned to him. He walked down the stairs to the ground floor and eventually found it. He peered through the small window in the door. Inside he could see a group of children, some younger and some older than him. They were sitting on a combination of old battered sofas and wooden chairs that reminded him of the chairs in the classrooms at school.
When Adam opened the door and stepped inside the common room, nobody took much notice of him because most of the kids were reading and a couple were playing cards. There was also some music playing in the background. Adam realised that he had nothing to do. He didn't have any books that he could read in public. All he had were wizarding books and he couldn't read them unless he went and shut himself up in his room. So he just sat on one of the chairs quietly, feeling very awkward.
"YOU!" A raised voice from the doorway startled Adam.
Adam looked up and saw someone who looked familiar. He strained his memory to come up with the boy's name; Kyle. He was about two years older than Adam and was a reasonably large boy. Kyle had dark brown hair and a chubby face. He was a bully and Adam had last seen him several years ago.
"What are you doing here, freak?" said Kyle as he glared at Adam. "I thought they put you in jail!"
Everyone else in the room had either turned to stare at Adam or were doing their best to pretend not to have heard the conversation. It looks like Kyle has got a new little gang of followers here, Adam thought. Not wanting a confrontation, Adam stood up and shoving his way past Kyle, left the room and stormed upstairs back to his room.
He threw himself down on his bed feeling utterly miserable. He felt tears beginning to sting his eyes and punched the mattress in frustration. He had thought he was done with all this now! He was at Hogwarts! Seeing Kyle again had brought up too many bad memories. Where Adam used to live, Kyle and another boy had been the two biggest bullies; they had liked to beat up anyone who was even slightly different and Adam he had been classified as extremely different.
"Winters!" A shout came from the doorway.
Adam got out of bed and looked for the source of the voice. Kyle was leaning casually on Adam's door frame.
"What do you want, Kyle?" Adam said in a tired voice.
"You better watch yourself! The others may not know what you're like, but I do," Kyle replied as he advanced a pace into the room towards Adam.
Adam was suddenly very conscious that he was all alone in the room with Kyle. He took a step backwards. He knew from experience Kyle liked to solve problems with his fists.
Adam was saved by the sound of the door at the end of the corridor opening and someone coming through. The noise seemed to startle Kyle and he glared at Adam as he turned and stormed out of the room. Adam peered out of the doorway and watched as Kyle bulldozed down the corridor pushing past another kid who had just come up the stairs.
"Don't mess with him, mate," the other kid commented to Adam as he watched Kyle storm off. "Oh, by the way, it's dinner time."
Adam sighed and followed him down to dinner. With Kyle here, at this rate it was going to be a long summer.
Ginny June 27th 1993
Ginny was sitting in the Gryffindor common room writing in her diary. Today was a Saturday so she was wearing her Muggle clothing. The common room around her was reasonably busy with the hustle and bustle of students coming to and fro from their rooms. Many would spend today out in the grounds but the common room was already filling up with those starting their first essays of the year. Ginny's body tensed. She stopped writing. Slowly and deliberately, she closed the diary placed it inside her bag and left the common room.
She reached the bathroom on the second floor and went inside. She moved purposefully and stood in front the sinks.
"Open up," she hissed.
The sink sank out of sight exposing the pipe that was the entrance to the chamber. Ginny smiled. She walked slowly forward and without any sign of fear stepped into the gaping hole that had opened beneath the sinks.
She walked forward through the passage, until she came to the wall that blocked access to the chamber itself. She hissed at the wall and it too opened up. Ginny stepped into the Chamber itself and walked confidently to the statue at the far end.
"Speak to me Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four!" she hissed.
The mouth of the giant statue began to open and a slithering noise announced the arrival of the Basilisk. Its long body slithered from the hole in the statue's mouth to the Chamber floor. Once it hit the floor, it coiled up and waited in front of Ginny. It recognised its mistress.
"Search the school. Find the Mud-bloods. Sniff them out! Do not kill yet. I am not ready for my presence to be known. Not yet..." she hissed her commands to the Basilisk.
The Basilisk uncoiled itself and as it began to move towards the Chamber's exit, Ginny jumped deftly onto its back.
"Carry me back!" she hissed.
Ginny's vision blurred as the Basilisk carried her at tremendous speed back to the second floor bathroom. Once they reached the bathroom she allowed the creature to retreat back into the pipes to carry out its task.
Ginny left the bathroom and walked up to the third floor. Finding a corner away from prying eyes she raised her wand and pointed it at her head.
"Oblivate!" she whispered.
Ginny gasped as she awoke trembling. She looked around in relief; she wasn't in the third floor corridor. She was in her room at The Burrow. The dream had seemed so real. She glanced over at the small clock on her bedside table. It was just past seven. Far too early to be up in the summer but she wasn't going to get back to sleep now. She got out of bed and pulled on her nightgown that hung on the back of her door.
Ginny walked into the kitchen where her mother was bustling about preparing breakfast.
"Morning, Ginny dear," her mum said from the stove.
"Morning, Mum," Ginny replied, revelling in the smell of her mother cooking sausages and bacon.
"What's wrong, dear, you look pale?" asked her mum.
"Just had a bad dream, Mum," she replied. "I'm fine."
"Okay, but if you want to talk about it I'm here," said her mum with an understanding look on her face. "Can you come help me with breakfast?"
Ginny stood up and began helping her mum prepare breakfast. As she worked, Ginny felt secretly glad that her family was largely pretending that the diary and the Chamber had never happened. She didn't think she could have coped if they had been constantly babying her.
"Have there been any owls today, Mum?" asked Ginny.
"I'm sorry, dear," answered her mum. "Hermes returned with the letter early this morning."
This worried Ginny, she had been home a week now and Adam hadn't written. When she had sent a message with Errol, her family's owl, he had returned after a couple of days with the letter still attached to his leg. Errol was quite an old owl so Ginny had hoped he simply hadn't been able to find Adam or that he was too far away. So Ginny had asked Percy if she could use his owl, Hermes. He had grudgingly agreed and so Ginny had sent the letter again.
"You're worried about Adam aren't you, Ginny?" asked her mum.
"Yeah…" Ginny sighed. "Why would the owls not be able to deliver my letter?"
"It could be for many reasons; they might not be able to find him, he may be too far away, his house may have a spell on it that prevents owls from reaching him or..." her mum hesitated. "He may not have wanted to read the letter."
"Mum!" Ginny cried. "That's not true, something is wrong. I know it is. He said he couldn't wait to write to me!"
"Don't worry, dear, maybe his parents have taken him away somewhere as a surprise and he's too far away. I don't imagine any owl could reach him if he was in Australia or somewhere like that!" her mum said, attempting to reassure her.
Ginny knew that wasn't true. Adam definitely wasn't in Australia.
"Do you know where he lives?" Mum asked, obviously still seeing the worried look on her face. "Maybe we can go and visit him if he doesn't reply?"
"I don't know where he lives," said Ginny, her shoulders slumped. Then she had an idea. "Professor McGonagall does though. If we haven't heard back in a couple of days can we send her a letter and ask her to check on him?"
"Let's give it a few days and then try with Hermes again. Then I will talk to Professor McGonagall," said Mum smiling. "She will be on her holidays and I don't want to bother her unless it's absolutely necessary."
Adam June 28th 1993
Adam was sitting outside in the garden reading a book, it was late afternoon. He had finally figured out a way to be able to read his Hogwarts books without having to stay cooped up in his room. On the third floor there was a small library, and most of the books it contained Adam didn't want to read. However, he was able to use the covers of these books to hide his Hogwarts books. Right now, it appeared that he was reading a book about the history of Manchester United, but he was actually reading his Transfiguration book.
Adam spent most of his time reading these days. There wasn't much else to do around here. Kyle seemed to have threatened everyone that tried to talk to him which meant that he was generally avoided by most of the others. Adam didn't really mind, at least he knew he could escape this place at the end of the summer. Most of the kids here didn't have that luxury. In the end, Adam had decided his best strategy with Kyle was to just ignore him and Adam generally tried to stay near the staff that watched over the home, which meant not hiding in his room all day. Adam hoped that Kyle wouldn't try anything with the staff around and so far he'd been right. Kyle hadn't gone beyond verbal insults and Adam hoped it stayed that way.
What had Adam far more worried was that Ginny had not yet written to him and it had been over a week. A little voice in Adam's head kept repeating, She doesn't want to be your friend anymore. She doesn't want to be your friend anymore. Adam knew that wasn't true, he was still pretty sure she wanted to his friend. She wouldn't just forget about him? Would she?Stop it! Something must have happened that was stopping her from writing to him. Maybe her parents had taken her away to help her get over the Chamber.
Adam shook his head to clear it from his cycle of self-pity. Even if Ginny didn't want to be his friend anymore he would get on with his life, as he always had before when things went bad. Looking up from where he was sitting on the grass, Adam saw a large group of kids playing a game of cricket. Adam could spot Kyle among them. Sighing, Adam returned to his book.
"Winters!" Kyle's voice echoed across the garden. "Throw us the ball. Now!"
Adam ignored him.
"Winters!" Kyle seemed to be getting closer.
The next thing Adam knew he was face down on the grass. The left side of his face was throbbing wildly. Adam sat up slowly. As he did so he felt a strange liquid in his mouth. He spat it out; blood. Adam looked around. He could see a discarded cricket ball on the floor near where he had been. Kyle and his friends were also standing nearby laughing at him. They must have thrown the ball at me, Adam thought. A large crowd of other kids had also gathered around him, their expression's varied from shock to amusement. None of them are moving to help me though, Adam thought bitterly.
Grabbing his book, which had landed nearby, Adam got to his feet and stormed back into the building. As he was heading back up to his room he passed one of the staff.
"Oh my!" She exclaimed. "What happened to you?"
"Kyle threw a cricket ball at me," Adam replied without thinking.
"Oh, well, I'm sure it was an accident," she said. "Come with me and I'll get you cleaned up."
The woman led Adam into the office where she cleaned up his injury. She declared there was nothing broken and he hadn't lost any teeth. Adam was sure it would leave a lovely bruise though. Once she was done, Adam walked tiredly back to his room and collapsed onto his bed.
He spent the rest of the day lying on his bed. He was unable to get to sleep, having felt dizzy on and off all day since Kyle had hit him with the ball. The entire left side of his face was now throbbing. Eventually, in the early evening, Adam dozed off.
When he awoke the room was dark. He could hear faint sounds of movement around him. He sat up slightly and scanned the room.
Suddenly two figures loomed over him in the dark.
"Hello, Winters," one of them said in a hushed whisper. "Thought it would be fun to tell on me, eh?"
Kyle. Adam knew he shouldn't have said anything.
"Leave me alone, Kyle," Adam said, his teeth gritted in anger.
"What are you going to do, Winters? Smash up all the windows here? Destroy the room?" said Kyle in a mocking voice.
Adam tried to bottle up the anger he was feeling bubbling up. The last thing he needed was accidental magic here. Kyle obviously didn't like being ignored. Adam felt the impact of his fist on his stomach, forcing the wind out of him. A second punch hit his stomach. Adam groaned in pain. A third punch hit him from the other side of the bed.
"Don't mess with me again, Winters!" Kyle said, giving Adam a parting shot.
Kyle and his gang left the room. Adam groaned again. He felt sick and his head was pounding. He lay there in pain for some time before he finally succumbed to a troubled sleep.