Outside a perfectly ordinary house in a perfectly ordinary village in Britain, a tabby cat sat upon a wall. A man appeared, the cat's tail twitched and its eyes narrowed.
No-one like this man had ever been seen in the sleepy village of Swyndale.
He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least once.
This man was Albus Dumbledore. He seemed to realize he was being watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was staring at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to amuse him.
He chuckled and muttered, "I should have known."
Dumbledore set off down the street toward the house on the corner, toward the cat. He didn't look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.
"Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall."
He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun.
"Good evening, Professor Dumbledore," she replied tersely, falling into step beside him. After a moment, she asked, "Are the rumours true, Albus?"
"I'm afraid so, Professor," Dumbledore replied heavily, "The good...and the bad."
"And the children?" McGonagall queried.
"Hagrid is bringing them."
"Do you think it wise to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?"
"Ah, Professor, I would trust Hagrid with my life," Dumbledore said.
A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky - and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them. If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it.
He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least three times as wide. He had long bushy black hair and a beard hid most of his face; hands the size of hubcaps, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins. In his arms, he was holding a Moses basket.
"Professor Dumbledore, sir, Professor McGonagall," Hagrid said with a nod, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got them, sir."
"No problems, I trust, Hagrid?" Dumbledore questioned.
"No, sir. Little tykes fell asleep as we were flyin' over Bristol," Hargid confirmed as he handed Dumbledore the basket. "Try not to wake 'em," he said quietly.
Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over to peep in the rim of the basket. Inside, just visible, were two babies, fast asleep. Under a tuft of jet-black hair over the boy's forehead, on the right-hand side, they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning. The little girl had the same scar, but hers was on the left-hand side, and she had tufts of dark-red hair.
"Is that-?" whispered Professor McGonagall.
"Yes," Dumbledore said. Dumbledore took the basket in his arms and turned toward the house on the corner - the house where Professor McGonagall had waited for Dumbledore earlier.
"Albus, do you really think its safe, leaving him here?" McGonagall questioned as they walked. "Ms Potter has changed since school; she's far more reckless then before. She really is-"
"The only family they have," Dumbledore interrupted gently. "The Dursley's refused to take them."
McGonagall swallowed a noise of outrage as they stopped outside the neat little cottage.
"These children will be famous," she whispered "There wont be a child in our world who won't know their names!"
"Exactly. They're better off growing up away from all that." Dumbledore paused, then amended, "Until they are ready."
Hagrid coughed and sniffled.
"There, there, Hagrid. It's not really good-bye, after all," Dumbledore said soothingly.
"But I c-c-can't stand it- Lily an' James dead- an' the poor little kids off ter live among Muggles-"
"Yes, yes, it's all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we'll be found," Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore opened the little white gate and walked to the front door. Carefully shifting the basket until it was cradled in one arm securely, Dumbledore rapped smartly on the door.
A few moments passed, then the hall light was switched on, and the door slowly opened to reveal a youngish woman in her mid-twenties peeping out through the crack in the door. When her brown eyes saw the silver-haired man, the door opened fully, and Dumbledore pressed the basket into her arms. With a nod, the woman smiled and closed the door softly as Dumbledore turned and swept down the garden path to his companions. For a full minute, the three of them stood and looked at the now quiet house.
"Well," Dumbledore said finally, "that's that. We've no business staying here. We may as well go and join the celebrations."
"Yeah," Hagrid said in a very muffled voice, "G'night, Professor McGonagall - Professor Dumbledore, sir."
Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.