LESSONS IN LIFE BEGIN
Harry woke with a start. The sun was shining through his dormitory window. "Crikey, what time is it?" Harry said to an empty room. He looked at the beds of his roommates. All were empty. Harry grabbed his robes and searched for his timepiece. When he found it his fears were confirmed, it was half six. "I've only got thirty minutes to get dressed and up to the Head's office. Where is everyone?" Harry said in annoyance. He dressed quickly, his mind racing. "I don't think I've got time to get to the kitchen, get Dobby, and still make it to the office on time. I'm either going to be late or I'm not going to get Dobby."
As much as he was put out over no one waking him, he was also worried about where they had gone. Harry was prepared to race down the stairs when Dobby materialized in the bedroom.
"Is Harry Potter ready to go to the Headmistress's office?" squeaked Dobby.
"Yes...hey wait a minute. How did you know that I was going to do that this morning?" asked Harry.
"Your Wheezy told me." Dobby began, "He said Dobby should come to your room to go with you to the Headmistress's office. He said Harry Potter should get as much rest as possible. Dobby let Harry Potter sleep as long as he could before coming to his room. Master Wheezy also gave Dobby this note. The food is for Harry Potter." Dobby handed a sheet of parchment and a squashed ham and egg sandwich to Harry.
Harry opened the note. It was Ron's slanted scribble.
Moody woke us up before 5:30 and said he wanted our help immediately with something out on the grounds. He told us to let you get some rest, that you'd be plenty busy today. He summoned Dobby and let me give him this note. I told Dobby to let you sleep as long as he could, give you something for breakfast and take you to the Head's office. Moody said that after we are finished with his task he'd take us to see Hagrid. Harry, don't worry, Hermione, Ginny and I will talk to Hagrid about sending an owl to Madame Maxime. I included Hermione's list of questions. Good luck. See you this afternoon mate. P.S. Ginny says she loves you. Ron.
Harry saw that there was a second sheet of parchment folded under the first. It bore Hermione's exacting script. It had a list of questions with spaces for answers. Harry's initial frustration evaporated. His friends had taken very good care of him under the circumstances. And Ginny loved him! It had started out rough but Harry thought it could turn out to be a great day. Harry put down the note and demolished the sandwich within a minute. On a whim, Harry decided to take his invisibility cloak. As soon as he opened his trunk he knew something was wrong. The contents, never really organized at best, had been tossed unceremoniously about. It only took a few seconds to verify his fear. His invisibility cloak was gone. Harry was torn, he wanted to stay and search for the cloak but he knew time was running short on his appointment with Dumbledore.
Dobby made the decision for Harry as he interrupted the frantic searching, "Harry Potter must come with Dobby if Harry Potter is going to be on time. We must be careful. Dark deeds are about."
Harry abandoned his search, wondering at the elf's words about dark deeds, he turned to leave with Dobby. They hurried from the dormitory and toward the common room. When Harry entered the common room he had the distinct feeling that he was being watched. He stopped and beckoned to Dobby, pulling him close, Harry whispered into Dobby's great bat-like ear, "Does it seem like we are not alone?"
Dobby took a very slow, deliberate look around the common room. Satisfied, he turned to Harry and said, "Harry Potter need not fear, there is nothing here that will harm Harry Potter while Dobby is close."
Harry wasn't exactly reassured. Dobby hadn't said that there wasn't anything there; just that he wouldn't be harmed while near Dobby.
Realizing that he wasn't likely to get any more explanation from Dobby, Harry headed for the passage to the portrait hole. With one last glance over his shoulder; he headed out into the castle proper. Once they were in the corridor they made their way straight for the stone gargoyle. Harry was struck by the lack of people. It was as if they were alone in the castle. The feeling of being alone in an empty castle ended abruptly as they turned the last corner before the gargoyle. Dobby threw out a bony arm to stop Harry's forward progress and then placed himself in front of Harry in a protective stance. The hallway was filled with goblins. There was dust and debris strewn about the floor. Harry instinctively reached for his wand. As he brought it up to a defensive position, a voice broke his action.
"Put that wand away," whispered a stern Professor McGonagall. She looked tired and drawn. Her face was pale and her cloak was dust covered. "Please come here and I'll get you in to my office, keep your head down and act invisible."
Harry noticed that Dobby seemed to relax a bit upon Professor McGonagall's arrival. As they drew closer to the secret entrance to the tower office, Harry could see that the goblins were working busily on the stone gargoyle with their backs toward him. The debris in the hallway seemed to be construction debris.
"Are you remodeling, Professor?" asked Harry.
"You might put it that way," she said, "Now up the stairway, and touch nothing."
Harry and Dobby did as they were told. The stairway was motionless and they had to climb rather than ride. Harry noticed that their passage left footprints in the fine dust that covered everything in the stairway. From the multitude of footprints, he surmised the stairway had been a busy place since he left last night. When they reached the landing at the top of the stairs. Harry was shocked. The landing was full of goblins. They seemed to be in the process of preparing a large metal block and some wicked looking tools for some purpose. A thick red liquid that looked suspiciously like blood was spattered on the rock walls and pooled on the landing at the base of the door. The door bore the burn marks of magic spells. There were goblins working intently on installing a metal case around the mirr lock in the immense oak door. Harry looked to McGonagall, but rather than an explanation, he and Dobby were ushered silently and unceremoniously to the door. McGonagall nodded to the tallest of the goblins who placed his hand directly upon the mirr. The lock clicked and McGonagall lead them quickly in to the Headmaster's office. Harry noticed that McGonagall shut the door securely behind them. As Harry and Dobby entered the office, Harry saw that the dust and debris stopped at the office door, leaving the room looking the same as it had when he left it just a few hours earlier.
Dumbledore was alert in his frame and was smiling. "Good morning," he said brightly, "Right on time."
Harry instinctively glanced at the grandfather clock behind the desk. It showed exactly 7:00. Harry heard the great bell in the clock tower proclaim a booming good morning.
Dumbledore continued, "Minerva, Harry, would you be so kind as to give me exactly two minutes with our friend Dobby?"
Wordlessly, Minerva McGonagall gave a slight nod of her head, smiled nervously and led Harry back toward the door.
Dobby had begun to twist his ears and writhe in place when Dumbledore had called him a friend. Harry had seen Dobby behave that way before and he knew that Dobby was happily embarrassed. Still, Harry watched Dobby closely for any indication that the elf might try to injure himself for feeling unworthy of being called a friend. Harry wasn't sure that the Porcrux Dumbledore could stop Dobby if he was intent on hurting himself. Seeing no immediate evidence that Dobby was going to fling himself about, Harry left the room under the steering pressure of McGonagall's grasp on his shoulder. The door closed behind them with a palpable thump.
ack on the landing, Harry saw that the goblins were paying McGonagall and himself absolutely no heed. They seemed totally focused on the task at hand. One team of goblins had removed a second shining mirr panel from a heavy iron box on the floor and were installing it in the thick oak door. A second team of goblins had removed the old mirr panel from the door and were placing it back in the same heavy iron box. Harry watched enthralled as the goblins closed the iron box on the old mirr panel, and one, apparently in charge, ran a long wicked looking fingernail around the seam on the box. As if he were zipping a zipper, the iron of the box seemed to melt and flow at his touch. It sealed seamlessly, leaving what looked like a chunk of decorated iron instead of what Harry knew to be a container. The same goblin went to the door where the mirr panel had been installed and ran his fingernail around the perimeter of the panel. Harry watched in amazement as the edge of the mirr and the wooden door flowed together so that no seam could be discerned. The goblin then took out a large magnifying glass and inspected the junction between the mirr panel and the wood of the door. Apparently satisfied with the results, the goblin turned and straightened himself to his full height. Even though the top of his head barely reached Harry's waist, the long fingernails and pointed teeth lead Harry to believe that this was not someone to be trifled with. The magic that had just been done intrigued Harry. It had been done wordlessly and without a wand. Harry put that thought in the back of his mind for later examination.
Totally ignoring Harry, the goblin turned to McGonagall and in a businesslike, gravelly voice said, "The used mirr will be stored, as per our original contract, for seven hundred seventy seven years. If you desire it back during that time, please contact our office during regular business hours. After the storage period is over the mirr panel and its contents revert to GRASSP ownership. The mirr panel we are installing is our level two device as you requested. You can tell the difference by the fine gold line around the outside edge of the panel. Each generation level has an additional gold line around the perimeter. If you desire to go up one or more levels please contact our office with your requirements. All of our remaining devices have been rechecked for full function. This panel has been reset to accept all wand/eye/hand coordinated codes of the original and will not have to be adjusted in any way. Once again, GRASSP thanks you for your business." The goblin gave a bow, said something in a throaty growling language to his fellow workers, and left on the once-again spiraling stair.
Harry guessed that the whole process had taken the entire two minutes that Dumbledore had given to be alone with Dobby.
McGonagall went to the door; touched the mirr panel with her wand, looked in the panel, flinched slightly, and reached her left hand into the panel. A loud click resounded and the door swung silently open.
As Harry and McGonagall re-entered the room, Harry saw that Dobby was bowing to the portrait of Dumbledore. Dumbledore was giving his last instructions, "Remember the two things Dobby, tell no one and be exactly on time."
"You can count on Dobby, sir," squeaked Dobby in a voice that showed his pride in helping Dumbledore. "Now Dobby must be going. Dobby will be back shortly, and do not fear, Dobby will not let you down!"
"Thank you Dobby," said a smiling Dumbledore. Then turning to McGonagall he said, "Minerva thank you for all the excellent, quick thinking work; if you would show Dobby out. I will see you in..." Dumbledore looked at the grandfather clock, "... thirty-five minutes."
McGonagall looking a bit relieved, smiled a fleeting smile at Dumbledore and hurried out with Dobby.
Dumbledore focused his entire attention on Harry and said, "Well Harry, last night you said time was short, let's see what can be done about that. Please open the box on my desk and retrieve the Time-Turner."
Harry went to the desk, sat down and slid the solid looking box towards him. As he did so, Harry thought back on the GRASSP's goblin's magic with no word and no wand. Harry had tried his hand at nonverbal magic and had been only marginally successful. Harry made a quick decision, he concentrated, focused his mind on the incantation and pointed his wand at the solid block of wood, To Harry's delight, there was a click and as a seam appeared, the lid hinged silently open. "One success," thought Harry. Harry reached into his robes and changed his glasses for Dumbledore's half moon spectacles. He could once again see the fine black threads webbing the opening of the box. Harry placed the tip of his wand under the thread, focused on the incantation and saw the web fold neatly against the inside edges of the box. "Two successes," thought Harry. He reached inside the box, removed the emerald "hanky" and retrieved the golden Time-Turner. It was only then, after his intense concentration on the task at hand, that Harry noticed the pleased look on Dumbledore's face.
"Well done Harry, you are beginning to take the responsibility for your abilities much more seriously. I am impressed with what you just accomplished."
Harry swelled with pride at Dumbledore's praise. He knew what the D.A. was going to work on this afternoon.
"No need to blush, Harry," said Dumbledore, "You have talents and abilities that you don't even know you possess. Others will be jealous of your accomplishments. I caution you, jealousy born of unwillingness to work for what others accomplish, leads to treachery. Do not attempt to accomplish this alone. Work on your abilities, help your friends reach their full potential and you will all be stronger together."
Harry considered the words. They echoed a decision he had made last night. With a rush of elation, Harry realized that he had set his feet on that path before Dumbledore had encouraged him to do it. He had been one step ahead of Dumbledore.
Dumbledore, motioning to the Time-Turner in Harry's hands, said, "Harry look closely at the device you are holding."
As Harry did so, an image of a well-built sandy haired wizard pushed its way to the front of Harry's mind. A feeling of close friendship, of dangers faced and beaten together, coursed through Harry. The wizard was explaining this same Time-Turner to him...to Dumbledore? Harry recognized the wizard as Minister of Magic, Samthon Lung. The words of the memory matched exactly the words he could hear Dumbledore saying. It was like stereo, only one of the speakers was inside Harry's head.
Harry focused on the words. "You will see three concentric rings around the hourglass of the Time-Turner. The outermost ring indicates the phase of stars and sets the year. The middle ring indicates the phase of planets and sets the month. The innermost ring indicates the phase of the moon and sets the day. The hourglass sets the hour. The lock clip prevents the rings changing positions as you activate the hourglass to turn back time. By careful adjustment, you can come within minutes of the desired time. Beware that you heed all the cautions I gave you. Remember, awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time."
The voice inside Harry's head and Dumbledore voice stopped at the same moment. Harry realized a little better what made up this Porcrux of Dumbledore, "...a collection of memories..." "And I have some of those same memories," thought Harry, "This could get interesting."
"Now Harry, I would ask you to take a moment to reseal the box. Keep the small invisibility cloak, you will use it to conceal the Time-Turner when you are not using it." Dumbledore's instructions were precise.
Harry did as he was told, resetting the grip web and resealing the box wordlessly.
"Excellent," said Dumbledore, "Let's make some time for education. The two outer rings are set for this year and this month. Do you happen to know what phase the moon was in last night?
Harry's mind flashed to McGonagall and her explanation of Remus Lupin and his study of the moon's cycles. "Yes," said Harry confidently.
"Good," said Dumbledore, "That makes it much easier. Harry please trace you finger around the inner ring until you find the correct phase of the moon. Make sure that you are at the correct portion of the waxing/waning cycle, you can tell because the full moon recedes on the waning cycle. Then turn the inner ring until the correctly phased moon is at the pointer that locks the two outer rings. When you have them aligned, snap the lock slide and secure all three rings."
Harry did as he was told. His fingers seemed to work unbidden, as if he had done this before. He found the pictoglyph of the quarter moon on the waxing cycle, aligned and secured it, and looked back to Dumbledore's portrait.
"Now Harry, because the sand can fall from this hourglass either direction as it turns, there are only twelve turns in an entire day. Three turns will put you back here in the office shortly after midnight. We will be alone and we can start your education. Now if you would, please put the chain around your neck and turn the hourglass three turns counter-clockwise. I'll see you in several hours," Dumbledore smiled as he spoke.
Harry stuffed the emerald hanky into his robe, placed the chain around his neck and turned the hourglass three times. The effect was immediate. The closest experience Harry could relate the feeling to was when, as a child, he would spin around with his arms straight out and his head back. Uncle Vernon hadn't approved of that behavior, shouting something about "the neighbors thinking we're a bunch of whirling dervishes."
Harry saw the lighting in the room change. People came and went so rapidly that Harry caught just the faintest glimpses of them. When the motion stopped, Harry was a bit dizzy. He found himself standing in the same spot in a darkened room. Harry raised his wand and concentrated, "Lumos." Harry's wand tip lit with a brilliant light. Harry found the locations of the lamps and candles, and once again concentrating "Flamare Incarnum" he lit each. The room was filled with a soft flickering light. "Nox," Harry thought, but instead of putting out his wand tip, the candles and lamps as well as his wand tip were extinguished. "Well mate," Harry thought, "That's what happens when you get cheeky." He started over, lighting the candles and lamps, and then concentrated his thoughts on extinguishing just his wand. Harry was gratified to see the wand tip darken and the candles and lamps remain lighted.
At the lighting of the room, some of the portraits grumbled and complained loudly. Two portraits, Harry noticed, were awake and alert, Dumbledore and Phineas Nigellus Black.
"Well Harry, back so soon?" asked Dumbledore.
Harry glanced at the grandfather clock. It showed a little after 1:00 in the morning. Harry realized that this time line Dumbledore wasn't the one who had asked him to come back...or was it? This was confusing. He decided to plunge on, "You said I needed to start my education, and they say there's no time like the present."
"Yes Harry," said Dumbledore, "And there's no present like the time." Dumbledore was smiling and looking directly at the Time-Turner hanging around Harry's neck.
Harry blushed. He couldn't underestimate this Porcrux either.
"Now that we have the time, let us begin by learning something that will be rather foreign to your way of thinking," Dumbledore said in a serious tone.