Professor Dumbledore walked the stairs in the castle that would take him to his destination. He was on his way to the room of requirement to research something that he knew not to be in any book in the library at Hogwarts. The castle was still quietly awaiting the time when the students would return from their summer vacations and walk its hallways once again. Other than the house elves who resided at Hogwarts full time, Dumbledore was the only other living person in the castle, or so he thought.
As the Hogwarts Headmaster reached the level he had intended, he looked ahead of him to see that the door to the room of requirement was already visible to him. He knew that it would only be visible if it was already in use, and all of the house elves were busy preparing the house common rooms, the great hall, and the classrooms for the new school year. Someone else had managed to slip into the castle without anyone knowing.
Unsure of what he would find inside, Dumbledore drew his wand and slowly turned the knob, easing the door open as quietly as he could. What he found surprised him, but he put his wand away as he entered and closed the door behind him.
What Dumbledore had walked into was not like a room at all, but a dim forest setting very much like one that might be found in the Forbidden Forest on the Hogwarts grounds. Dumbledore stood on a small hill at the edge of a tree line that looked down on a wide clearing in the trees.
Not all of the clearing was natural though, that much was plainly clear to him. He was looking on at a young man standing in the middle of the clearing deeply embroiled in battle with seven hooded wizards. He might have rushed to his aid facing such overwhelming odds, but he also noticed that, along with the charred and fallen trees in the clearing, there were at least as many of the hooded wizards lying just as still.
Two of the hooded wizards were too late in breaking off their attack on the young man as one of their own suddenly turned his wand on them. One of the others managed to kill his former ally, only to take a searing blast in the chest from the young man. The young man managed to dive behind a fallen tree to avoid a barrage of spells from the remaining three wizards. He had no more than hit the ground than first one and then another shaft of light sprang out of a small opening under the tree to connect with deadly accuracy on two more wizards. The last wizard tried to duck behind another tree trunk for protection, but was killed when the trunk itself was hit with a force so powerful that it exploded into tiny projectiles that shot right through his body.
Dumbledore cleared his throat loudly and immediately the young man spun around with his wand at the ready. To the headmaster's relief, he had the presence of mind to tell his friends from his enemies.
"Well, Harry," Dumbledore began, "your dueling skills have certainly improved."
"Professor Dumbledore," Harry said lowering his wand. "What are you doing here?"
"I might ask you the same thing, Harry," Dumbledore said as he walked down to where Harry stood. "The school year doesn't start for another two weeks you know."
"I'm sorry Professor," Harry said. "I know I shouldn't be here, but I didn't think anyone would know."
"I very nearly didn't," Dumbledore said. "If I hadn't given in to the temptation to research something, I never would have come here and found you. Since I did find you though, the question is just how you got here. I didn't arrive here until this morning, and the house elves told me that no one has entered the castle at all since I locked the doors at the end of the last school year. I know you didn't aparate into the castle, because the spells guarding against such a thing are still in place."
Harry pulled a handkerchief out of his right pocket and put it in his left hand. He stuck it into his left pocket and pulled out a silver coin. "I turned this into a portkey that would bring me here from Privet drive and then send me back again. I made it just before school ended last year."
"Why?" Dumbledore asked.
"Because I'm still an underage wizard," Harry said. "I'm not allowed to do magic away from Hogwarts."
Dumbledore looked down over his glasses at Harry and said, "Brilliant. I think you may be the first student to have figured that trick out."
"Then you aren't mad at me?" Harry asked.
"Of course not," Dumbledore said with a grin. "You haven't broken any rules that I know of. I take it that this is not your first trip to this room this summer."
"No," Harry confessed. "I've actually been coming here every day since I got back to Privet drive."
"Have you been dueling against odds like the ones you did today all summer?" Dumbledore asked.
"Oh, no," Harry answered. "I started out with far better odds, but I try to add another wizard about every fourth time I do it. There are some times though, when I spend the entire day just studying or looking up information when I turn this room into the library. Other days I'll just meditate and try to clear my mind."
"Excellent," Dumbledore said. "Just the kind of dedication we like to see from our students. Or is there some other reason? Has your scar been giving you problems again?"
"Scar?" Harry asked looking straight into Dumbledore's eyes. "What scar?"
Dumbledore looked to Harry's forehead for the scar that had always been there, and was somehow surprised to see that it was not. There was no scar there at all, and he suddenly wondered why he had ever thought that there was. Something in his brain finally clicked and he realized what was happening and devoted his thoughts to pushing out the force that had invaded his mind.
Looking once again, Dumbledore noticed the lightning bolt scar right where it had always been and said, "Very good, Harry. You have been practicing I see. You very nearly had me that time."
"But not for long enough," Harry said. "It won't be an effective weapon against Voldemort. Like with you, it would only buy me a couple of seconds before he realized what was happening."
"A couple of seconds could be a very long time depending on the situation at the time," Dumbledore said. "I think the wizards you just fought might agree."
"Maybe," Harry said not quite convinced.
"Well, Harry," Dumbledore began, "now that we have established that your scar is real, has it been giving you any problems lately?"
"Not the scar so much as what's behind it, Professor," Harry answered. "Every year that went by seemed to produce yet another talent that I had without knowing I had it. It was always the theory that Voldemort transferred some of his power to me when he gave me the scar, so I tried using my meditations to search my own mind to find what else might be in there without my knowing it."
"Interesting," Dumbledore said. "I assume you found something."
"Quite a bit actually," Harry said seeming not too excited about it. "It wasn't only his power that transferred to me. I also got a copy of his knowledge and memories, most of which I would like to forget."
"I was afraid of something like that," Dumbledore said. "I suppose that would be the reason for so much meditation to clear your mind."
"Exactly," Harry said. "Some people might think it would be a great thing to know everything that he knew before he tried to kill me, but I almost wish I had never found it. Sure I've leaned a ton of spells that I never would have dreamed of, but I also have a distinct memory of every person he killed."
"Oh, Harry," Dumbledore said sympathetically. "Your parents too?"
Harry could only shake his head as the pain of the memory flooded back to him. "I've been trying to work on separating his memories from my own, but they're so integrated, it's hard to tell sometimes where mine stop and his begin. On the other hand, knowing all of the things he's done, it makes me even more sure that he has to be stopped no matter what the cost."
"You should do quite well," Dumbledore said, "if the battle I just watched is any indication."
"But I don't think our battle can happen that way," Harry said. "We both saw what happened the last time we tried to use our wands against each other. Now that I know all the spells he does, we could probably duel for days and still come up with a draw. What I have to find is some kind of magic he doesn't know about yet, and even then it may come down to an old fashioned fist fight."
"I wish I could help you fight him, Harry," Dumbledore began, "but…"
"I know," Harry said cutting him off, "the prophecy says it has to be him and me. I think I prefer it that way actually. I don't want to worry about anyone else getting in the middle of our battle and getting hurt."
"Have you had any luck finding any forms of magic Voldemort doesn't know?" Dumbledore asked.
"A few obscure things," Harry answered. "The room of requirement has been very helpful in producing the books I needed. I'm not ready to reveal what those things are just yet though."
"I can fully understand that," Dumbledore said with a grin.
"So, Professor," Harry said, "what was it you were coming here to research."
"I had nearly forgotten," Dumbledore said. "I was trying to find the name of a candy I haven't used as a password yet."