Ginny held the door open for them; it was made of heavy, solid wood and it took the whole of her weight to hold it back. Will tried not to flinch away from her as he brushed against her arm on the way through; he didn't notice the puzzled, and slightly hurt expression which crossed her face, although Harry did.
It was a large, dingy room, dominated by what was presumably a dining table. It was the sort of table usually found in dodgy B-movies about vampires; so long that to ask someone at the other end for salt probably involved either a megaphone or a telecom system. The table was just as mockingly empty as those in the films, too. Will glanced around the room, to see if he was wrong; no. There were only four other people in the room other than himself, Harry and – no, Ginny had gone, allowing the door to swing smoothly shut behind her. Slightly hysterically, Will found himself wondering where the ominous creak had been.
"Will?" Harry made his name into a question, tugging slightly on his arm and pulling him towards the figures at the other end of the room. Will allowed himself to be pulled, not really sure what else he could do at this juncture.
"Hello, Harry. And welcome, William." The voice that greeted them sounded tired, over-wrought. As they approached, Will could make out an old man in the gloomy half-light from the candles on the walls. The speaker was… eccentrically dressed, to say the least, in what appeared to be a deep turquoise nightgown patterned with cabalistic symbols, or something. He had a long beard of the sort that one normally describes as white, but was really the sort of yellowy grey one sees in the very old. But for all his age and apparent fatigue, the old man seemed lively enough. He stood up at their approach, offering a gnarled hand to Will.
"I am Albus Dumbledore, William Parry. And I am very pleased to make your acquaintance at last." Will raised an eyebrow; clearly this man was very well informed.
"I am indeed, Mr. Parry," Will repressed a gasp at this rather disturbing display of omnipotence. "But you needn't worry; I cannot actually read your mind. And my information about you, contained here," he gestured towards a thick manilla folder on the table, "tells me a lot more about you – and your experiences – than simply your name."
"Professor-" Harry was frowning, clearly almost as confused as Will himself was.
"Patience, Harry. Firstly, let me introduce my companions. Mrs Weasley, and Mr. Lupin, I believe you have already met. And this is my trusted advisor, Severus Snape."
The other stranger nodded regally at Will, although he did not acknowledge Harry's presence in the room.
"Now, if you please, Mrs Weasley, I think we would all appreciate a cup of tea and some of your simply marvellous shortbread." Dumbledore's clear dismissal of the woman surprised Will, but not nearly as much as Mrs Weasley's meek acceptance of it. Wizards, he was beginning to see, held some rather antiquated values that had little to do with their fashion sense.
As soon as Mrs Weasley had left – this time, accompanied by a satisfying creak of the door – Dumbledore gestured that they seat themselves.
"Now, Mr. Parry. Do you have it?" Again, there was a no sign of uncertainty in the man's voice; this was not so much of a question, as a demand. It made Will's hackles rise, and from the corner of his eye, he could see Kirjava practically spitting at the man's brusqueness.
"Have what, sir?" The surprise on the man's face wasn't worried, Will realised. He was merely shocked that Will was prevaricating. A strange reaction, for someone – if this was the same Dumbledore in Harry's earlier stories – who claimed to be a teacher, and a headmaster, no less. But the surprise lasted only a second, to be replaced with a look that wasn't quite anger, but could quite easily become so.
"The knife, you mean? Yes, it's here."
"Well, boy, let me see, let me see!" Dumbledore almost cackled, his impatience all too clear. Will had a sudden flash of foreboding; this would not end well.
As he reached under his jumper, all three men leaned forward, the candlelight casting bizarre and grotesque shadows on their faces. Will glanced over at Kirjava, who simply flicked her tail in the feline equivalent of a shrug. She was right; he'd got himself in too deep to back out now. Resigned, he pulled out the fabric bundle that protected what remained of the knife, and reverently placed it on the table in front of him.
Dumbledore reached forward, and slowly began unwinding the fabric, unconsciously leaning further and further in, until he was no longer sitting on his chair.
Finally, the knife was uncovered, and the pieces lay glinting in the candlelight.
Snape spoke for the first time since Will and Harry had entered the room.
"It's broken. What do we do now?" He stated, in a flat tone. Dumbledore simply looked horrified.