MAYHEM AND MEMORIES
Harry Potter's green eyes took in the scene around him. The greatest Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the greatest wizard of the age, Albus Dumbledore, had just been laid to rest. The funeral crowd was slowly breaking up. Some were drifting away; others remained, lost in thought or quiet conversation. Harry's sadness was overwhelming. Dumbledore gone, he just couldn't believe it. He kept hoping that he would wake up and find that the last three days were just a bad dream...that Dumbledore was still alive, that Bill Weasley wasn't disfigured by a werewolf attack, that Death Eaters hadn't attacked Hogwarts, that things were back to the way they were when life was relatively safe and simple. But Harry knew this wasn't a dream. The lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead had borne testimony to reality as it had burned white hot just moments after Snape had disapparated away from Hogwarts. Harry had been filled with a disconnected sense of exultant pleasure; a feeling fostered by a connection that had been forged between himself and Voldemort when Voldemort had tried to kill Harry as a baby, a feeling that had revolted Harry to his core. He had blocked the feeling out, had forced it from his mind. He knew that the murderer Snape had reported Dumbledore's death to Voldemort. He knew that Voldemort was happier than he had been in his entire life. The knowledge that Voldemort took pleasure in anyone's death reinforced Harry's desire to never become like Voldemort.
Harry recalled his dead godfather Sirius Black's explanation of the methods Bartimius Crouch Sr. used in the Ministry of Magic's quest to defeat Voldemort and his supporters, "...in many ways Crouch became just as ruthless, just as cruel as Voldemort..." Harry considered this in light of his personal vow to do whatever was necessary to defeat Voldemort, to make him accountable for the thousands of vile acts, for the deaths, for the tortured and sundered families, for the constant fear that engulfed the magic community because of Voldemort's desire for ultimate power and control. Harry reflected on the chilling words of a prophecy joining himself and Voldemort, "...neither can live while the other survives..." Harry saw that he couldn't live now, not really. He was hemmed in by Voldemort's cruel actions to seize control of the wizarding world. Neither, Harry realized, could Voldemort live in the open, while Harry and the Ministry were dedicated to his defeat. Harry's emotions churned as he attempted to get his mind around Voldemort's desire to rule the entire wizarding world. With a sickening lurch, Harry suddenly understood that Voldemort's plans were for the long view. Voldemort's experiments with dark magic had made him virtually immortal. If Voldemort wasn't stopped, he could conceivably take over the world and rule... forever.
Harry's deep considerations were interrupted by Neville Longbottom's voice beside him, "The train to King's Cross is due to leave within the hour, Harry. We'd better be heading to Hogsmeade."
As Harry contemplated Neville's words; he wondered what would happen if he refused to get on the train, refused to leave Hogwarts at all. Would he be forcibly removed? Would the Ministry of Magic arrest him? Would he end up in the wizards' prison, Azkaban? He knew he couldn't defeat Voldemort from prison. Harry resigned himself to the fact that he was going to have to leave Hogwarts, the closest place to a home he had ever known.
"Neville you go ahead and I'll meet you on the train," said Harry. As Neville turned and headed for the path that led off the Hogwarts grounds and toward Hogsmeade, Harry looked around to see where Ron and Hermione had gotten to. At least he could be with them for the return trip to London. He spotted his best friends Ron Weasley, tall, skinny and red-headed standing next to bushy-brown-haired Hermione Granger near the edge of the lake.
"Oi, Ron, Hermione," called Harry as he approached the twosome, "the train is going to leave soon. We'll need to get headed to Hogsmeade."
Ron hesitated and scuffed at the dirt with his shoe, "I think I'll take one last walk along the lake, say goodbye like," said Ron. "Hermione, ...would you walk with me?"
Even in her saddened state, Hermione seemed pleasantly startled by the direct request. "I'd enjoy that," she said quietly with a slight blush creeping into her tear-washed cheeks.
"You two take your walk but make it quick. I'll save a compartment on the train, and if I can get close enough to Hagrid without getting flattened, I'll say goodbye for all of us," offered Harry.
"Thanks mate. The state Hagrid is in he might not think to come to the station to say goodbye. I'd hate for him to think we had forgotten him," said Ron.
"Harry, be careful, Grawp looks even bigger than I'd remembered," said Hermione candidly.
"Right," said Harry as he turned toward Grawp and Hagrid. The afternoon was sunny and bright. The world seemed to little note the funeral that had just ended. Harry scanned the remaining crowd. There were knots of witches and wizards discussing the funeral and their memories of Dumbledore. Harry saw that Hagrid was still inconsolable and now Grawp had joined him in a flood of tears. Harry thought that Hermione was right, Grawp did look even bigger than the last time they had seen him. He was immense even compared to Hagrid who was twice the height and five times the girth of a normal man. They seemed to be lost in grief. Harry thought better of approaching them as they mourned. Their tears could drown a normal person and their spasms of grief could maim. No, he decided, it would be safer to wait until they settled down a bit.
Harry saw that Ron and Hermione were just disappearing around the bend in the lake shoreline. He looked toward the path that led to Hogsmeade and saw Mrs. Weasley walking with her arm around Ginny. His heart skipped a beat when he saw Ginny. He struggled to put down the urge to run after her. His mind reeled, "What am I going to do about the feelings I have for her? I want her safe, and it seems that the farther she is from me the safer she'd be. But I want to be with her. It's got to be better to sacrifice now than to put her at risk again."
Harry's recollections drifted back to some of the dangers he had faced in his sixteen years. As he pondered those times, he suddenly realized that having friends with him had saved him more than once. After Cedric's death, Dumbledore had said the only way to defeat Voldemort was to band together, to support each other. Dumbledore had also counted it important that Harry come to understand what motivated Voldemort; that he operated alone, that he never allowed any true friends.
Harry was torn, "Can I protect my friends better by being with them or by staying away from them? Would Voldemort hesitate to use my friends? No. Would Voldemort hesitate to harm my friends if they weren't around me? Not likely. I can't win. I see value in each course of action. But which is the better way? Do I face him alone or with the help that's been offered? If I refuse my friends' help, do I take a step closer to becoming like Voldemort? Am I refusing to allow my friends to help, to have a go at it alone, out of...what...nobility and self-sacrifice, or just plain selfishness?"
Harry found he couldn't honestly answer his own question. "What am I to do? I need direction. I won't become like Voldemort in order to defeat him." Harry was in anguish body and spirit, and he realized, that as hunter or hunted, he would face Voldemort again.
As he fought the emotional struggle that seemed to engulf his entire being, a hand closed on his right shoulder. Harry, lost in thought, jumped in surprise. Professor McGonagall's bony hand had his shoulder clamped in a viselike grip. As he turned to face her he thought he saw a look of far-away sadness, but the look vanished immediately and was replaced by the familiar thin-lipped look of determined purpose.
McGonagall's tone was somber, "Mr. Potter, you need to come with us, there are some important details to attend."
Come with "Us? " "Details? "
Harry struggled to make sense of the words. "Who was "Us?" He and McGonagall were in a throng of witches, wizards, goblins, at least one centaur and other odd sorts of folk. "Are some of them of more import than others?" he wondered. "Who is McGonagall talking about? What "Details?" I've already packed for the trip back to King's Cross. The train is due to leave shortly. Have I forgotten to pack something? Is the train ready to leave now? That doesn't seem right considering the funeral is barely over. What details could be more important than saying goodbye to Dumbledore?"
As Harry's mind raced with questions, he realized that Professor McGonagall's presence at his side and her firm pressure on his shoulder was steering him out of the remaining funeral crowd, up the stone path by the graveyard, and back toward the castle. As they headed toward the castle, the funeral throng began to thin out. It was only then that one of Harry's questions was answered. He realized that he and McGonagall weren't alone in their trek back to the castle. To Harry's left was Remus Lupin, a pace ahead was Arthur Weasley and by the sound of the thumping shuffle to their rear, Harry bet that Alastor Moody was not far behind. As the path took a sharp turn at the ancient stone and metal gate that marked the visitor's entrance to the school cemetery, Harry glanced back and found that his guess had been correct. Moody was following a few feet behind, his magical eye swiveling so rapidly in every direction that all that could be seen was the white of his eye. As they had passed the last of the throng, Harry noticed that Lupin, Mr. Weasley and Moody moved into a close, seemingly protective, phalanx around him. Although they were alone as they ascended the stone steps going into the castle, they kept almost shoulder-to-shoulder.
As Harry opened his mouth to ask where they were going, Professor McGonagall increased the pressure on his shoulder and shushed him. Her meaning was unmistakable and Harry lapsed once again into his quiet mental gymnastics. As he weighed possibilities in his mind, their silent trek through the castle continued. Harry, lost in his thoughts, found with a start, that they had halted in front of the stone gargoyle that guarded the entrance to Dumbledore's..., no Harry thought abruptly, McGonagall's office.
Without moving from Harry's side and without relinquishing her grip on his shoulder, McGonagall said, "Novus Ordo." Harry was astonished at what happened next. He had seen the stone gargoyle spring aside on his many visits to Dumbledore, but what he had come to expect didn't happen this time. At her words the stone gargoyle bowed and gracefully stepped aside, dipping its wing in deference to the five visitors. As the stone wall behind the gargoyle slid aside, Harry thought the order of things had truly changed.
As the group ascended on the upward spiraling stone stairs, McGonagall's grip lessened for the first time since leaving the funerary plain. At the immense oak office door, Harry saw that, although the griffin knocker was still in place, what appeared to be a small mirror was imbedded in the door where the handle had been. Professor McGonagall placed the tip of her wand on the panel, bent and looked into the mirror and then placed her left hand against the mirror. The glass of the mirror seemed to bend and distort as Professor McGonagall's hand slipped through its surface. A loud click resounded and the heavy door swung open as Professor McGonagall quickly removed her hand from the panel.
"Inside everyone, and don't dally" whispered McGonagall, a stressed edge in her voice.
Everyone obeyed quickly and silently. The door closed quietly behind them and locked with an ominous click. As they stood in the entryway, Harry was relieved to see that the office looked exactly as it had the last time he was there. The tiny instruments of intricate design and unknown purpose hummed, puffed, spun and glowed in their tireless tasks. The portraits of Headmasters and Headmistresses, including Dumbledore's new portrait, hung sleeping in their frames. The only thing missing was Fawkes, and sadly Harry realized, the real Dumbledore.
Harry took his cue from the others and stood quietly as McGonagall swept to the fireplace and produced a thin golden veil from her wand, which immediately settled over the entire fireplace like a shimmering tarpaulin. She proceeded to the windows and door and repeated the process. Then waving her wand in a quick arc over her head she intoned "Impervable." Apparently satisfied with the result, McGonagall visibly relaxed for the first time since the beginning of their trek.
Moody spoke first and without preamble. "I suppose we should get this done as quickly as possible."
"Not so fast Alastor," Lupin said as he stepped between Harry and Moody, "Harry has the right to know what he's getting himself into."
Harry wondered at Lupin's words of thinly concealed concern. He hadn't considered that he could be in danger with these four trusted guardians close by.
"Remus is right," said Arthur Weasley, "we need to take a moment to explain to Harry what's going on."
The three wizards turned as one to McGonagall. "Apparently," thought Harry, "Professor McGonagall's decision would determine the next course of action."
McGonagall stood as if wrestling with the weight of her choice. Her stern look softened when she turned her gaze on Harry. "I suppose you're right. Heaven only knows how many decisions others have made for this poor lad without consulting him. Moody, you know the magic better than any of the rest of us, would you please explain it to Mr. Potter? And quickly if you please, we have a delicate time constraint to consider."
Moody's mismatched eyes came to rest on Harry. As Harry turned his attention, he was shocked at the old Auror's appearance. Moody had always looked a bit wild, but now he looked old and tired. His thinning hair was completely gray, his face was lined, and his back bent in the round-shouldered stoop of an old wizard. The missing piece of his nose and his multiple scars only added to the visage of age. An unbidden thought crept into Harry's mind, "I have actually watched this group of wizards age as they have fought against Voldemort." For some reason the thought chilled him to his centre.
Moody cleared his throat. All eyes in the room were focused intently on him and he seemed to grow a bit larger as he began to speak. "First of all, Potter, you must know a few things about the death process of wizards. You have become familiar with the house ghosts, and have learned, that for their own reasons, they have elected not to pass completely from this mortal realm. You have also confronted the veil of death in the Ministry of Magic when Sirius was killed. I know that you would desperately like to bring Sirius and your parents back. Dumbledore confided in me your experience with the mirror of Erised. He also told me that he explained that no wizard's power was great enough to bring anyone back from the dead. Death is immutable, but to a wizard with an ordered mind, death is an adventure, and there are ways to leave behind a bit of wisdom and personality after death. Dumbledore had a very ordered mind. He prepared things in the event that should he be caught in circumstances that gave him no alternative except..., well, he could still be in a position to help you."
Moody's words stunned Harry. He had watched helpless as Snape killed Dumbledore. Harry knew that Dumbledore had protected him in those awful moments at the cost of his own life. Harry thought that he would never be able to forgive himself for putting Dumbledore in a position that forced him to choose between their lives. Now Moody was saying that Dumbledore had anticipated that moment, had prepared for that moment, had been thinking of helping Harry in that very moment. Tears of remorse, and gratitude, welled up unbidden in his eyes. Dumbledore had truly been a great man. Moody's magic eye appraised the effect that the words had on Harry. Apparently satisfied that Harry had realized the import of the words, Moody plunged on, "Dumbledore was a remarkable wizard, a fact that we may all come to appreciate more fully as he helps us through the dark days ahead."
Harry shook his head to make sure he had been hearing correctly. "Excuse me, Professor Moody," Harry interrupted, "you just said that wizards, once dead, don't come back to life. How can Professor Dumbledore help us? He's dead, he's beyond our help and beyond helping us isn't he?"
Moody, caught off-guard by the interruption, refocused his thoughts and put his entire attention on Harry. "If you'll exercise a little patience lad, many of your questions will be answered, and if questions remain, there will be those here who will be able to answer them fully."
Harry looked at the floor. He was ashamed of his impatience. Here were people who had taught him and protected him. He could be patient. He vowed to himself that he would learn patience. He looked back up at Moody. "I'm sorry, Professor," Harry said quietly, "Please go on."
"Apology accepted, Potter." Moody began again, "As I was saying, Dumbledore prepared for many possible eventualities. If he didn't predict exact circumstances, he came close enough, as we shall see. Wizards have methods of separating bits of themselves for examination. You are familiar with the Pensieve. It allows thoughts to be reviewed and examined in an orderly manner; sometimes giving rise to missed details and understandings that would not have been possible otherwise. These ordered thoughts can be re-established in the owner's mind after they have been sorted. Dumbledore used this method quite extensively, he had a very ordered mind."
Abruptly a memory popped to Harry's mind. When he and Professor Dumbledore had been discussing the fate of Nicolas Flamel after the destruction of the Philosopher's Stone, Dumbledore had said that Nicolas would die but that "death was just the next adventure for the ordered mind." Now, Harry realized, he was about to find out what Dumbledore had meant.
Moody continued, "When muggles die, as I understand it, they leave a willy directing the disposition of their possessions."
"Excuse me professor," Harry interrupted, "I believe you mean will."
"Could be," said Moody, "I thought we used the same word. Irrespective of terms, most witches or wizards leave a memory to speak for them in their wishes. Harry, I believe you have seen a type of memory storage in the Hall of Prophecy."
With this statement, Moody moved to one of the bookcases lining the walls of the office. Taking out his wand, Moody performed an intricate movement and said, "Revalato luz." The bookcase immediately split in the centre and the two halves moved silently outward. A stunning silver light flooded from the widening crack. The two halves continued their outward movement, swung to each side and pivoted neatly out of the way. Moody stepped into the gap between the bookcases, for a moment his robes obscured the light. When he turned to rejoin the others, he held a shining silver orb carefully in his hands.
Moody was right, Harry thought, it was similar to the orbs on the endless rows in the Hall of Prophecy. He immediately noticed that this orb was different from all the others he had seen. Where some had glowed with a soft, dull light and others had been almost dark; this orb filled the room with a silver light as intense as winter sun reflecting off the frozen lake. The light flickered and pulsed as the silver substance inside ebbed and swirled.
"This," Moody said, "is Albus Dumbledore's last willy and testament."
An involuntary shudder ran up Harry's spine.
"I have been to a few willy readings," said Arthur Weasley, "This is a most unusual willy in its vigor and intensity. Unless I miss my guess, it is either very recent or it is very comprehensive."
"On point, Arthur," intoned Moody, "I'm intrigued to see what Dumbledore accomplished with this. As an Auror, I saw the results of poor planning; wizards and witches leaving too little of themselves behind. At its best, a creation of miserable report resulted. The unfortunate things couldn't concentrate for five seconds. They were consigned to a frustrated existence, knowing that they had something to say and not being able to communicate it at all. I expect the better of Dumbledore."
"What do you need from me?" asked Harry.
"Well, that's where the explanation comes in," said Moody, turning to Harry and invoking a concerned, fatherly tone. "You see we will all be part of the reading of Dumbledore's willy; each of us at Dumbledore's request. The four of us," Moody indicated himself, Minerva McGonagall, Remus Lupin and Arthur Weasley, "were all asked before Dumbledore was killed. In each case we were asked to include you in the reading. We have all had time to prepare ourselves for this eventuality but you have not. As we participate in the reading, we will be asked to filter Albus Dumbledore's memories and thoughts through our memories of him. As a rule, wizards must reach majority before they are allowed to participate in something as serious as a willy reading. It is not without its dangers. The willy filtering is intensely personal; it can leave lasting memories of the deceased, and of the other willy readers, that may come unbidden. It can make a strong connection between the deceased's attitudes and the readers. We feel that you are capable of this, and we know that Dumbledore felt you were capable too. I for one, feel that you have faced more than even the most experienced Aurors in the Ministry of Magic. Speaking of the Ministry, there are certain members of the Ministry who won't be too keen on the reading taking place here at Hogwarts. That's why we chivvied you away from the funeral. So, now we ask you Harry, are you willing to help of your own free will and choice?"
Thoughts and emotions ran through Harry. He considered the times he had kept secrets from Dumbledore; the times he disobeyed Dumbledore's orders, or broken school rules; the times he had felt outright rage and frustration with Dumbledore; the times Dumbledore had taken the blame for things that he, Harry, had done; the protection Dumbledore had given him even though it cost him his life. Harry considered the love and admiration he held for the man he had considered akin to a father. He realized he could do no less than what Dumbledore needed him to do.
"I'll do whatever I can. Professor Dumbledore never failed me, I won't fail him." Harry said with controlled emotion.
"Aye lad, that's what I wanted to hear," rumbled Moody. He and the others had waited patiently while Harry had taken pause to consider. In an ominously serious voice Moody said, "Let's get started."