Harry Potter and the Quest of Light
Chapter: 1 of ? (as many as it takes to fully tell the story I have planned)
Timeline: Post HBP. This means if you haven't read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yet you'll want to do so before reading this.
Series summary: With the death of Albus Dumbledore, evil is showing its face and becoming bolder and more aggressive. However, they are foolish if they believe that Dumbledore was the final pillar of Light. Harry Potter is more than willing to due what needs to be done to save the world from Darkness.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They are owned by JKR except for a few original characters I have created for the purpose of this story. Needless to say, I did not invent this world and am merely borrowing it for some fun.
Special thanks: Thank you Chris (Sir Chris on Without Chris's assistance, beta work and general thought organizing I wouldn't have been able to start this story. He has helped me with the plot and other various things. If it weren't for him you wouldn't be able to start reading this novel length fanfic.
Harry Potter and the Quest of Light
The only place He ever called Home
"After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure" - Albus Dumbledore, PS/SS
As the crowd seated around the large White Tomb began to dissipate Rufus Scrimgeour, Minister of Magic, limped slowly off to the side. He had just finished his talk with Harry Potter in which once again he had hoped to persuade him into publicly supporting the way he was handling the war against Voldemort. Sadly, Harry Potter continued to stand firm in his loyalty to Dumbledore. This was as Scrimgeour expected, after all. The boy's loyalty to Albus Dumbledore far surpassed what he had imagined until he had met the lad during Christmas. Still, Scrimgeour had hoped that he could be convinced that it was for the good of the public.
When Scrimgeour had moved off far enough to the side he looked over his shoulder to see Percy Weasley, his Senior Undersecretary, hurrying over to his side carrying a briefcase. He stopped beside the Minister, huffing silently. He took a moment to adjust his glasses and straighten his black dress robes.
The Minister coughed purposely to get the young man's attention. Percy looked up immediately and gave his full attention to his boss. "Did you have any trouble asking Cornelius and Dolores for a moment of their time?"
Percy straightened his back and drew himself up importantly to his full height. "No, Minister, I suspect Mr. Fudge and Madam Umbridge to be along any minute," Percy replied swiftly. He stood rigidly, looking important while Scrimgeour slowly paced around. "Ah, here's Madam Umbridge now."
One would be hard pressed to recognize the short woman that was waddling her way towards Percy and Scrimgeour. She was dressed entirely in black dress robes, complete with a small black hat and black handbag at her side. She was even wearing some unique, albeit repulsive, black lipstick. In short, Dolores Umbridge was hard to imagine without imagining a lot of frilly pink.
"Minister. Weasley," wheezed Umbridge, who was clearly out of breath from her short stint across the lawn to the meeting spot. She opened up her handbag and withdrew a pink handkerchief which she used to pat down her sweaty forehead, much to the disgust of the other two people present.
"Ah, glad to see you again Dolores. I trust you were nursed back to health quickly in St Mungos?" Scrimgeour asked in greeting, though he really didn't care to hear the answer.
"It's good to see you on your feet again, Madam Umbridge," Percy chimed in, offering his hand to the short witch, which Umbridge ignored entirely in favor of directing her full attention to Scrimgeour.
She grinned slightly, her gaping mouth opening a crack. "The healers performed quite well, Minister, though if it weren't for Potter and Granger I wouldn't have had to take such a vast amount of time out of my duties."
"Duties," began Scrimgeour heavily, "that you were dismissed of when Cornelius Fudge was removed from Office," he reminded her forcefully. He didn't need Umbridge thinking immediately that she'd have her old job back as even Fudge was only hanging around because Scrimgeour felt he might be of some use.
Umbridge looked as if she had just been slapped across the face by a giant. She blinked stupidly for a few seconds as her smile was replaced by straight lipped frown. "Of course, Minister, I didn't mean to suggest that I was still Senior Undersecretary."
Scrimgeour hid his smile behind his political mask. "Of course, Dolores, your experience would most likely be a great asset to the Ministry in times such as these. I'm sure you've heard that Cornelius is in fact acting as a Senior Advisor to myself." He stretched his legs upward, looking over the short witch as his eyes caught movement. "Ah, here comes Cornelius now," he said, nodding to the figure approaching from behind Umbridge, who Scrimgeour was now ignoring a toad-like grin from.
"Mr. Fudge," Percy said stiffly, snapping to attention and offering his hand to his former boss. Unlike both Fudge and Umbridge, Percy had managed to keep his position in the Minister's Office simply because Scrimgeour felt he had potential and, of course, not having the courage to suggest otherwise or set a toe out of line was a huge asset to any Minister. In fact, within a week, Percy had been promoted to Senior Undersecretary, the position once held by Dolores Umbridge.
Fudge shooks Percy's had distractedly as he glanced nervously between the large white tomb and Scrimgeour. "Terrible business, terrible business," he muttered as he anxiously adjusted the lime green bowler atop his head.
"Something wrong, Cornelius?" Scrimgeour asked in a low growl as he glanced over the departing crowded.
"Something… wrong?" Fudge exclaimed, staring incredulously at Scrimgeour. "Something wrong Minister? Albus Dumbledore is dead!"
Scrimgeour showed no emotion at all, "I realize this Cornelius…"
"I don't think you do! Albus Dumbledore, dead!" Fudge began to pace nervously, looking between all Percy, the Minister and Umbridge. "Dumbledore was the only one You-Know-Who ever feared! He'll be active! He'll be out in the open! He'll do things he never dreamed of doing before!"
Scrimgeour stared at the pacing man in the lime green bowler for a few seconds, watching him pace, as if to size him up. He let out a sigh that sounded much like a growl, "Get a hold of yourself Cornelius. There is still Potter. You-Know-Who seems very wary around that boy-"
"Oh yes, Potter!" interrupted Fudge, who was becoming more and more hysterical. "Yes. Yes, the very same Potter who you've gone and offended on two separate occasion! The same Potter who wont support the Ministry due to your, and in the past my own, actions! No no, I am quite sure that Potter won't be stepping in to support the Ministry anytime soon."
"Mr. Fudge, are you-"
"Cornelius! Control your-"
"Silence!" bellowed Scrimgeour suddenly as he stared Fudge, who had stopped pacing at Minister's command, and shook his head slowly. "No, Potter will come around to our way of thinking- eventually. I think once he realizes how grave the situation he will also realize that his best course of action lies in siding and supporting our actions. I believe, Cornelius, that I can handle a boy who isn't even of age yet."
Fudge wrung his hands twice before pointlessly adjusting the tie he wore over his dress robes. "No, Minister, I don't think you can!" he began, the pitch of his voice rising again. "Potter is not an ordinary boy!-" Fudge added quickly as he caught sight of Percy's face turning red with anger as it often did when someone spoke ill of his boss. "Let me explain," he continued as he began to pace again, "Two years ago I decided that I should start to discredit the boy and Albus Dumbledore because I didn't want to believe that You-Know-Who was actually back. Potter didn't crumble, though, oh no! He stood up tall with his chest out. Despite all my efforts, and Dolores' too, we couldn't bend him to our will. Oh no, there is no controlling Harry Potter…"
Percy puffed up his chest importantly again, "With all due respect, Mr. Fudge, he stood behind Dumbledore. This time Dumbledore obviously isn't around to hold his hand-"
Stopping his pacing, Fudge spun around, glaring at Percy angrily, which caused the young man to jump slightly and take a step backwards. "Damn it, Weasley! Didn't you learn anything from last year? Oh ho, if Potter is anything he is exactly like Albus Dumbledore. Don't expect him to cave, Minister," he spat, turning back to Scrimgeour. "Minister, you must make amends with the boy at once!"
Percy's face look ashen, Umbridge was still standing silently having stayed out of most of the exchange as though she was calculating and plotting, while Scrimgeour himself merely shrugged at the ex-Minister's outburst. "I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree, Cornelius."
"Minister! You cannot control Harry Potter like you control young Weasley here-" he gestured towards Percy with wild flail of his arm.
"Now just a minute!" snapped Percy, his face bright red with anger, as he stepped forward a pace.
"- No, no. Potter is very strong willed! To outcast him again would be foolish. Beyond foolish even! That boy is our only hope-" Fudge continued, ignoring Percy's protest.
"Cornelius!" interrupted Umbridge, looking shocked. "We may have underestimated Potter last time, but sure you are overestimating him this-"
"Silence!" yelled Scrimgeour for a second time. All three of the arguers stopped, blinked once and looked towards the Minister for direction. "Cornelius, it appears you have lost faith in the Ministry." It wasn't a question and Fudge made no move to either confirm or deny the statement. "I have kept you on as a Senior Advisor to help guide my actions, but to disagree with every single one of them out right, Cornelius, is uncalled for. If you feel this way, perhaps you should take your leave. I am sure Madam Umbridge would be happy to fill for you." There was an easily detectable note of finality in his voice.
Fudge immediately turned on his heel and headed back towards the large tomb. "Good-day to you, Minister," he merely stated as he left with a quick pace.
When they were sure that Fudge was out of earshot, Scrimgeour turned back to Percy and Umbridge. "He is right about one thing, though," the Minister began, the gears in his head spinning. "Potter is not as easily manipulated as we had originally thought. While it would have been excellent to use his support as a morale booster, it appears that it will not be happening at this very moment. I believe very much, however, that once his memory of Dumbledore begins to fade he will in fact turn around to our way of thought. Without his public support we must continue on as we had planned."
Umbridge shuffled her stubby legs for a moment before speaking up. "Minister? Perhaps you should leave Potter to me. I have the most experience with him, after all, as I was High Inquisitor at Hogwarts just over a year ago and watched his habits. I feel confident that I would be able to turn to our side given a bit of time."
Scrimgeour took up Fudge's favorite past time of pacing slowly in front of Percy and Umbridge before replying. He rubbed his chin, which was hidden beneath his mane of hair entirely, as he turned to Umbridge. "I indeed think you are correct, Dolores. Despite what happened with your smear campaign against Potter a while ago, you are the best equipped to deal with the situation." He looked over towards the white tomb, which caused him to miss Umbridge's wide mouth turn into a disgusting smile of pleasure. "And," he began, looking down at his watch, "I believe it is time we all got back to the Ministry. We have much to do," he said as he started heading towards the Gates of Hogwarts.
Umbridge, who could not wipe the huge gaping grin off of her face due to the fortunate turn of events, or perhaps Fudge's unfortunate events depending on the view, strolled merrily along behind the Minister and Percy. While she didn't have her old position and its power back, she did, however, have a great second chance at extracting revenge on Potter for the way things had turned out during her stay at Hogwarts. She stopped for a moment at the gates, Scrimgeour and Percy hadn't noticed as they took out their wands and Apparated away with two soft pops, and turned back to the large white tomb in the distance. With Dumbledore gone yet again, this time permanently, she knew that Potter would be ripe for manipulation.
Harry Potter stood in the Entrance Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry trying to hold back the tears. He had just finished attending the funeral of Albus Dumbledore, now ex-Headmaster at the school, Harry's trusted mentor and, as he now thought of his relationship with Dumbledore, his friend. While the death of Dumbledore was still weighing heavily upon him, he was swamped with tasks that must be completed as soon as possible, but with little time to do them.
First off was the reading of Dumbledore's will. This was to take place tomorrow morning in the Headmaster's office, scratch that, Headmistress' office. While he thought McGonagall would make a fine Headmistress there really was no replacing Albus Dumbledore. McGonagall knew that she had some extremely large shoes to fill.
Then there was Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna. They had all asked to speak of him about his plans for next year upon hearing from him that he wasn't planning on returning to Hogwarts next year. Harry was certain that he would not be returning because, above all else, it would be impossible to hunt down and destroy Voldemort's four remaining Horcruxes while staying at Hogwarts and trying to balance needless essays on Charms that he wouldn't need and Potions he'd never brew after learning about them. The main for him not wanting to return to Hogwarts, that he was keeping hidden, was that it would be too painful to return. The memories of Dumbledore were overwhelming. Everything about Hogwarts seemed to him reminding him of the aging wizard which made it impossible to stay too long in the building itself without him losing control of his emotions. Just a few days earlier Hogwarts itself was violated by Death Eaters and, in turn, had lead to Dumbledore's death. With Dumbledore now gone and the absence of Draco Malfoy as well as Severus Snape, he was sure the only real danger to the school was his presence since he was sure that Voldemort was already planning his funeral.
He had promised, of course, to talk to his friends after the reading of the will. Harry knew that this would allow him the time to clear his head and think about exactly how his plan was going to form. He was also hoping that Dumbledore's will had a few words of wisdom for him, but he figured this was just his wishful thinking.
Finally there was the Ministry. He had just finished a second unpleasant chat with the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. After the meeting he noticed that Scrimgeour was meeting with Dolores Umbridge, which he suspected was most likely up to no good. Of course the Ministry was the least of his worries as long as they didn't interfere with his plans that had to do with stopping Voldemort. Of course, with Dolores Umbridge in the thick of it, he felt that being left to his own devices was rather unlikely. Harry also silently hoped that the Order of the Phoenix would hold together without Dumbledore's leadership as the Order was already under pressure from the Ministry to cooperate fully within the law when the circumstances really didn't permit it. After all, Voldemort obviously wasn't playing by the rules with his six extra soul shards stashed away who knows where.
Harry sighed heavily and then immediately choked on the lump in his throat. He sniffed once before heading forward and throwing open one of the giant doors to the Great Hall. He had promised himself that he would tour Hogwarts once more for memories sake before confronting the actual reality that he wasn't going to return for his final year.
Gazing up at the awe-inspiring ceiling, he smiled faintly as he remembered how impressed he had been in first year when he had walked in for his Sorting ceremony and a young and bushy haired girl with overlarge front teeth informed him immediately that she had read how it was bewitched to look like the sky outside.
His attention shifted down to his right. The long table that had served as the Gryffindor table had been his eating spot for six long years. He remembered countless discussions he'd had while sitting there with Ron and Hermione talking about how Professor Snape was most likely going to steal the Philosopher's Stone at the next convenient opportunity and how it was their job to stop him. He gritted his teeth and felt a surge of anger at the thought of Snape. He wished now that Snape actually had been after the Stone during his first year at Hogwarts so that Dumbledore would have thrown the bloody murderer out on his ass five years before it was too late.
Harry gulped again at the thought of Dumbledore, but immediately had to wipe the tears from his eyes on the sleeve of his robe as he caught sight of the teacher's table at the far side of the Great Hall. Dumbledore's chair was empty, like rest of the Hall itself, but Harry knew that Dumbledore would never again raise his goblet and ask for silence. He would never again announce when Quidditch trials would be held, or that the Forbidden Forest was off-limits to everyone who didn't wish to die a most painful death. Harry bitterly thought of one person who he wished would die a painful death.
Fearing that he wouldn't be able to take anymore of the memories that were flooding him by looking at the chair that only Dumbledore had sat in (McGonagall, when temporarily taking over for Dumbledore during Harry's second year had refused to take his seat) for the last five years, he stormed from the Great Hall and closed the door loudly behind him. Selecting a random staircase to take him to his next location, he slipped down the stone staircase and into the stone cold dungeons underneath the castle.
Harry immediately regretted his feet for choosing this location. He had very few, if any, pleasant memories of the dungeons and, more importantly, the Slytherins who inhabited them as well as the Potions classes. Though this last year had gone rather well for Harry's Potions studies, they had been sorely tainted when Harry had learned that the so called Half-Blood Prince had been Severus Snape. His five prior years of Potions studies had been less than amusing as well. This was, among many things that were wrong in Harry's mind, all Snape's fault. Feeling his anger getting the better of him, he lashed out, punching the cold stone wall with his fist. Connecting solidly, he immediately regretted it the pain quickly registered in his brain. He winced, clutching his fist as he stumbled farther into the dungeons.
"- don't know what's happened to him, I keep telling you," came a voice that Harry recognized as Blaise Zabini.
Despite the pounding feeling his fist and pain flashing around his mind, he quickly ducked inside the regular dungeon classroom that was used for his Potions class.
"But you're his best friend! You have to know!" whined Pansy Parkinson. "If anyone knows, it's you!"
There was a shuffled of feet and robes somewhere farther down the corridor before Zabini replied again.
"Get off of me. I don't need you crawling all over my body like Malfoy does."
There was an angry shriek and another rustle of robes.
"Hey! Put your damn wand away!" Zabini exclaimed with a mix of surprise and anger. After a few moments there was quieter rustle of robes and Harry assumed that Pansy had complied.
"Everyone knows you're the one to talk to when they need answers and Draco isn't around," Pansy said adamantly as she still tried to persuade him.
Zabini snorted in amusement. "It's not like I know where Snape took him, or where the Dark Lord's headquarters is. Even if I did, I certainly wouldn't just go blabbing to someone like you… you aren't even in the Dark Lord's service ye-" there was a sound of skin hitting skin in a distinct slap, and it was only confirmed with Zabini's comment of "OW!" directly after. "You stupid wench," Zabini began again, growling. "Touch me again and I really will do it so don't tempt me."
"Oh real threatening. You don't have the guts, and I heard from Daphne that you're actually in to that kind of… thing. Fine. Don't tell me. I'll find out in a few weeks, you bloody ass," Pansy's replied, trying to sound as if she didn't care, but the worry in her voice was evident.
"Keep your bloody voice down. Merlin you really are stupid, you know that? What if the wrong person overheard you talking like this? Do you think they'd go 'Oh never mind, she must be kidding!'?" Zabini lectured her. Harry could just imagine the look on Pansy's face. No one ever talked to her like this.
Through the crack that was open in the classroom door Harry spotted Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson stride up towards the Entrance Hall. Harry could tell that Pansy's face was distraught and streak with tears.
"I just want to know he's ok," whimpered Pansy in a soft tone.
"He's fine, trust me. Dumbledore's dead and he's not in Azkaban. That mean's he's fine."
Zabini cut her off with a glare as the two Slytherins reached the stairs and began to ascend.
Harry drew his wand despite the throbbing pain in his hand. He was sure that Zabini was a Death Eater with what had had overhead, and he certainly wasn't going to let him get away. He stepped towards the door and began to silently and slowly slide it open, hoping to get a clear shot at the two bodies.
Upon opening up the door more, he heard the distinct sound of footsteps, quite a few of them by the sound of it, heading towards the staircase. He quickly withdrew back into the classroom and listened.
"So then I told Rosmerta to screw off if she wasn't going to do it. Natch' she just got mad and kicked me out, but it was worth it. I heard that Malfoy had her under Imperius, but he never kept her open to giving favors," a deep voice sniggered. A bunch of other laughs followed.
"'Guess it proves that even people not in their right mind wouldn't touch O'Toole either," a sharp female voice replied, louder this time as the group approached the door. More laughs followed.
"Oh real funny Viridian. You should help your father write some comedy or something instead of those books on minor curses and hexes dragonshit. Guess he wouldn't be too happy to know what stuff you got up to around here," the voice belonging to O'Toole replied.
The girl named only as Viridian replied in a hushed whisper, "Everyone in Slytherin casts stuff like that-"
There was a bunch of laughs before O'Toole replied. "Oh no, not that. You may try to piss me off, but you're still as big of a whore Stevens' mum. Remember at Christmas? You were down on your knees? Yeah, you remember, Viridian. Miserable slut," O'Toole spat out the final sentence with a clear loathing.
"That was the fucking Firewhisky, you fucking bastard!" cried Viridian, while another male voice, presumably Stevens' protested the reference between the girl and his mum.
The group, composed of six seventh year Slytherins that Harry had only seen a few times around the school, passed the door.
"Right. Whatever you wanna call it," O'Toole said. He was rather large, much like Crabbe and Goyle, with reddish-orange hair, but it was fairly lighter orange that that of Ron's or Ginny's.
"You're just fucking bitter because you never actually ended up getting any despite spiking all of the girls' drinks from fourth year and up with potions and Firewhisky," Viridian smirked triumphantly. She had pale green eyes with long and well groomed brown hair that hung down nearly to her waist.
Harry watched the Slytherins begin to climb the stairs as O'Toole and Viridian kept bickering about whether or not Viridian was a slut and whether O'Toole was in fact a hag in disguise. When they were about halfway up the stairs, the voice Harry knew to be Stevens' called out.
"Hey wait up Zabini! It's not like anyone cares that we're leaving. Nott's already gone with our luggage and stuff so what's the rush?"
Harry knew that Blaise Zabini had replied, but it was too fast and hushed for him to make out exactly what was said. He had a good guess, however, that Stevens and O'Toole in particular didn't like the reply because both gave a snigger and insulted Zabini in hushed tones. Determined to find out what in fact the Slytherins were up to, Harry silently crept once again to the door and checked both ways to see if anyone else was coming. The seventh years had already made it up to the top of the staircase and into the Entrance Hall and there didn't appear to be anyone else coming through the hallway from the Slytherin dorms, so he slid out into the hallway and headed quickly up to the stairs.
By the time Harry had reached the top of the stairs, he had his wand on the ready, unsure of where the Slytherins had gone. He sprinted towards the giant doors of the Great Hall, wondering if perhaps they had gone to sit down for dinner, however unlikely he believed that to be. Hearing the great doors creak open behind him, he spun around to see three fourth year Ravenclaws enter, but out the open door he stopped O'Toole and the rest of the seventh year Slytherins heading down the path towards the Hogwarts Gates and the Apparation point.
Sprinting again, he nearly bowled over the Ravenclaws, who shrieked and literally dived out of the way ("Watch where you're going, you maniac!"), he slipped outside and back into the main seating area that had been arranged for Dumbledore's funeral. Harry knew that he was already too late as Blaise Zabini, who now had his hand firmly grasping the arm of Pansy's robes, pulled her through the gates. Harry watched from the top of the steps as Zabini stopped pulling Pansy along, while Pansy clutched Zabini's arm instead while the boy drew his wand. Both disappeared with a soft pop.
The seventh years, while taking a slower pace, were already about three quarters of the way from the main steps at the castle to through the gates and into the Apparating point. Harry quickly decided against hollering for the Aurors to stop them, not wanting to cause a huge incident because he wasn't sure whether or not anyone but Zabini was a Death Eater or even doing anything illegal or not. Students of all ages had been leaving the school regularly since Dumbledore's death. They were fully allowed to do so given that they had informed McGonagall or their Head of House before doing so, and, of course, for younger students their parents had to know beforehand. The Hogwarts Express was making daily trips now for students who lacked Apparation licenses or an adult to manage Side-by-Side Apparation like Zabini and Pansy had done.
Harry knew that at least one group of people would be interested to know that Zabini was a Death Eater and that many other Slytherins were well on their way to being some themselves. He had seen Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Tonks and McGonagall head up to the Headmistresses' Office early after the funeral had finished. Quickening his pace again, he hurried down the second floor corridor towards the Defense Against the Dark Arts classrooms, which was the quickest route to the Headmistress' Office that he knew of.
However, he caught sight of a particular bathroom on his way down the hall that made him stop dead in his tracks. Harry went over and stood in the doorway of Moaning Myrtle's second floor girls' bathroom. Luckily, Moaning Myrtle herself wasn't around to distract his thoughts. It was hear that Hermione had brewed the Polyjuice Potion for the Trio so that could sneak into the Slytherin Common room and corner Malfoy about whether or not he was the Heir of Slytherin. Of course at the time, Malfoy himself had been innocent, which was clearly not the case now. It was also in this very room that the entrance to the much hidden Chamber of Secrets lay. With a simple command in Parseltongue, the language of serpents, Harry could enter the Chamber that had housed the Basilisk, the terror of his second year. Later on he had also found Tom Riddle's Diary, better know as Voldemort's first Horcrux, in this very bathroom as well. With the thought of Horcruxes at the top of his mind once more, Harry's uninjured fist clenched. He took one last look at Moaning Myrtle's bathroom and then continued on his way.
Rounding another corner, Harry stopped dead in his tracks yet again, but this time for a different reason. Anger swelled up inside himself as he stared into the Defense Against Dark Arts classroom. Sure, it had first been Quirrell's, but he had the little problem with Voldemort sticking out of the back of his head. Then the bumbling fool, Gilderoy Lockhart, had gotten the job. As useless and incompetent as he was, he at least wasn't openly out to get him like at least half of his Defense Professors had been. The best had easily been this third year Professor, Remus Lupin himself. Following him, there was Mad-Eye Moody, or so he thought. Moody, albeit a great teacher, turned out to be Barty Crouch Jr., who was a Death Eater. Of course that was still better in Harry's mind that Dolores Umbridge of the Ministry of Magic. That year was hard enough to forget, but no, it was this past year that Harry was angry at. Severus Snape had taught Defense. As Harry looked around the room, which had different décor every year, he clenched his teeth in rage as he looked upon all the Dark Arts posters and pictures that Snape had put up.
Drawing his wand swiftly, he pointed at the nearest poster and snarled "Incendio!" Flames leapt from the tip of his wand and hit the posted, instantly causing it to burst and burn into ashes. "Incendio!" he cried again, this time pointing at the next picture on the wall. When there were no posters left on the wall, save a few curled ashes, Harry stood seething in the center of the room. Somehow, he felt slightly more refreshed, but he knew there was one more thing left to do. Pointing his wand and Snape's desk, he slashed his wand forward violently. The jet of light hit the desk on its front, splintering the wood in two and causing it to collapse on the ground as all of the parchment it held spilled out on to the ground. Happy with his carnage for the time being, Harry stepped out of the room and continued on his way to see McGonagall.
He made it all the way up the seventh floor corridor without further incident, unless of course you count the part where he had caught Michael Corner snogging his latest girlfriend, until he passed his usual Charms' classroom when he heard what sounded like someone crying.
Entering the room cautiously with his wand out, he swept over the whole room without seeing anyone, however he was sure that he did in fact hear something. He waited a few more moments and shrugged slightly, heading towards the door.
"Is he gone?" whispered a female voice.
Harry spun around on the spot, his wand trained on Flitwick's desk at the front of the classroom and slowly advanced on it.
"I… I don't… know…" a second female voice replied. Harry could tell that she was crying.
"Quiet… I'll go check… it'll be ok."
Harry frowned, but kept his wand in his hand and trained on the desk in front of him. He was a good five feet away still, but could hear movement and rustling of clothes from behind it. The room was darkened as were all the classrooms when they weren't in use, so he couldn't make out anything in particular.
Harry barely had time to dodge to the side as the spell flash passed his right side. He ducked a second disarming spell and rolled to the side behind a student desk. He could see a silhouetted figure, wand out, slowly walking up towards him. "Hold on a second! I'm… I'm not here to hurt you!" he called out before he could stop himself. He winced as his attacker immediately turned to face his direction, her wand raised and ready to cast a spell. Way to go Harry, just give away your position, he thought futilely.
To his surprise, the girl lowered her wand slightly. He could still hear the second girl sobbing quietly behind Flitwick's desk.
"Harry… Harry Potter?" his attacker asked cautiously.
Harry nodded slowly and slowly stood up with his hands raised and wand clutched far above his head. "I'm not going to hurt you," he repeated again. "I just want to know what's wrong."
The girl's shoulders sagged with relief as she flicked her wand and muttered "Lumos," under her breath. The tip of her wand lit up. Harry recognized her as a fourth year Hufflepuff that he had seen around the castle every now and then. She had short black hair, grey eyes and a thin physique. From what Harry had seen her, she was quite kind. "Oh thank Merlin it's you," she said rushing up to Harry and wrapping her arms around his waist, crushing his midsection in a hug.
Harry stumbled back slightly, unsure of what to do. "I… uh… uh… what's going on?" he asked dumbly. He glanced back over at Flitwick's desk upon hearing another sob.
The Hufflepuff girl detached herself from Harry quickly and turned back to the desk. "It's ok, Sarah. We can trust Harry." It took a few seconds before a small girl with shoulder length blonde hair emerged from behind the desk, her eyes, Harry noticed quickly, were streaked with tears. She was still sobbing and shaking until the Hufflepuff girl went up to her and draped her arm around the younger girl's shoulders. The older girl looked back at Harry after whispering a few words to the girl, a Ravenclaw as Harry noticed by spotting the house patch on her robes, and spoke quickly. "I'm Rose Bidwell," she said quickly before adding "I'm sorry I attacked you, but I was worried that it was one of them coming back…"
Harry frowned again, nodding at the Hufflepuff girl as he sat down on the edge of a task, a good two feet from the two girls. He noticed that the Ravenclaw never took her teary eyes off of him, watching him warily. "It's ok," he began, "You didn't know who I was and were just trying to defend yourself and your friend. I'd have done the same thing," he continued, mentally kicking himself for how much of an adult he was sounding like.
Rose nodded and smiled slightly, "I really can't believe it's you. I thought for sure it was one of those creeps coming back. Mum and Dad always said that you and Professor Dumbledore were the only people that I should trust to do the right thing."
Harry's cheeks flushed at the praise and comparison to Dumbledore as he blinked a few times to make sure his tears wouldn't show. Being compared to Dumbledore in that regard was the largest amount of praise he had ever received, and it came from a girl who he had never spoken to before. Still, he told himself, he needed to act strong. "I… uh… who are 'those creeps' and just what exactly is going on," he blurted out all at once, his eyes glancing back and forth from Rose and the Ravenclaw girl under her arm.
Sighing and sniffing back some of her own emotions, Rose slowly lifted her arm off the younger girl. "I think it's better if Sarah tells you, actually," she said before turning to the girl she addressed as Sarah. "Sarah," she said calmly as Sarah herself finally looked back to Rose. "This is Harry Potter. He's a very nice boy and he really needs to know what happened so he can fix it."
Sarah looked back at Harry, her eyes still watery from her crying, but she had stopped since coming out from behind Flitwick's desk. When she didn't say anything for a few long moments, Harry stuck out his hand slowly as if offering her to dance.
"Hi Sarah, I'm Harry Potter. There's no need to be shy, I just need to know what happened to you so I can help you." Harry saw Sarah flinch away from him and he mentally winced, hoping that he could gain her trust.
Rose however nudged Sarah slightly, "Go on. I promise he's not going to hurt you."
The Ravenclaw girl hesitated again, but started to speak softly. "They hung me upside down until I begged them to stop and called me lots of nasty names like 'Mudblood' and… and 'bitch'," she said, barely whispering the last word. She began to cry again and clutch Rose's arm.
Harry wasn't sure whether he was more angered or saddened after hearing the tale. He couldn't help but recall images of the Quidditch World Cup when Lucius Malfoy and some others had decided to torment the muggle campsite manager or when he himself had used the spell on Ron as a test after learning it in from Snape's old Potions textbook. "Sarah," he said calmly and got the girl's attention again. "Do you know who they were?"
Sarah shook her head, tears splashing from her eyes as she did so, "They were wearing their cloaks' hoods over their faces."
"Bloody Death Eater wannabes," spat Harry under his breath, but reddening slightly as he remembered that both Rose and Sarah were present in the room. He was surprised to see, however, that neither Rose nor Sarah flinched at his remarks, possibly having drawn similar conclusions.
"I heard they are really bad men, and are growing really fast. Or at least that's why they said when they… they," Sarah couldn't finish her sentence before she got cut off by her tears.
Harry slid off the desk and moved over towards the two girls. "Rose, I need you to go find Professor Flitwick and tell him what happened. However, don't mention anything about Death Eaters. I'll talk to Professor McGonagall myself about that." He turned to Sarah, who was still clutching Rose's arm, and spoke softly. "I need you to come with me and talk to Professor McGonagall and tell her what happened. I won't hurt you and I need you to trust me, ok?" The girl hesitated a second before detaching herself from Rose and nodding.
"Send me an owl or something after you talk to Professor McGonagall, ok?" Rose asked as she headed towards the door with her wand in her hand. She left after receiving a nod from Harry.
"Alright, let's go then," Harry said as he felt Sarah clutch his forearm tightly and lean up against him. His stomach knotted unpleasantly. Just what did they do to her?
Harry led the girl out of the room and down the hallway, keeping his wand out in front of him. He had expected Voldemort and his Death Eaters to be a little more out in the open since Dumbledore's death, but this was far beyond what anyone had anticipated. Students in the school, his classmates for years, were basically doing what Death Eaters did on a regular basis and still within the school. He felt Sarah's grasp on him tighten as she gave another small sob, her head pressing hard against his side as they passed an open corridor. "It's ok, Sarah, we'll almost at Professor McGonagall's office. After that we can get you…" he hesitated and stopped himself from saying 'back to your dorm', which he figured under the circumstances would be a bad thing to suggest. He quickened his pace and hoped that McGonagall would have a good alternative.
He quickly gave the gargoyle the password and let it jump aside before he led Sarah up the stairs and knocked on the door. When he received no reply, he knocked again. After a few moments he simply opened the door and led the young girl into the Headmistress' Office. "She doesn't seem to be here, but oh-" he stopped himself as he noticed a note on Dumbledore's, err, McGonagall's desk.
I have been called away with the Heads of Houses to talk to the Board of Governors. Unfortunately, and I agree with your feelings right now, that this leaves the school gravely understaffed and with, I am sure, more open Dark Activity, quite a dangerous place.
If you need anything of Albus' from this Office, feel free to take it. If you were coming here requesting my guidance, like Albus, trust your judgment.
I believe you'll handle any situation accordingly, Mr. Potter. Please keep in mind that the Will Reading will still happen at 8:30 AM tomorrow in this very office, and that you and your friends will be on the Hogwarts Express by 10:00 AM, if, of course, that is still your plan.
"Well, I guess that settles that," Harry mumbled as he re-read the letter a second time.
"Am… am I going to have to go back to the tower?" Sarah asked shyly, tears streaking her cheeks again.
Harry crouched slightly and used the sleeve of his robe to dry the girl's cheek. "No, I think we can make you an honorary Gryffindor until you go home. You'll be safer there than in Ravenclaw Tower, since frankly I'm not even sure what's going on in there." Sarah brightened at the suggestion and hugged his side firmly. "Come on then," he said, guiding her back down the stairs and out of the office, "I'll have to introduce you to the rest of the crowd, but first we've got to take a quick trip up to the Owlery to send a message to Rose."
Harry and Sarah made it to the Owlery without incident, for which Harry was quite relieved as he did not want to fight anyone while trying to protect Sarah at the same time. He introduced the younger girl to Hedwig and gave them a few moments together as he wrote his note to Rose.
Professor Flitwick, along with all the Heads of Houses are gone from the school. Sarah is going to stay with me in the Gryffindor Common room until Flitwick is back tomorrow morning.
Keep Hedwig with you at all times. If you're in trouble, she has been instructed to return to me and lead me to you.
You may want to head back to Hufflepuff House. I don't expect any trouble from them and you should be safe.
Figuring that would be enough to accurately convey the situation, Harry attached his note to Hedwig's leg, explained his instructions and then sent her on her way. Harry and Sarah left the Owlery for the short walk to Gryffindor Tower.
"So, did you like Hedwig?" Harry asked conversationally, having observed that the girl was quite relaxed when stroking Hedwig's feathers, but still clutched his arm firmly as if afraid to let him go.
For the first time since Harry had met her, Sarah smiled slightly. "She's very nice."
Harry cracked a smile in return. "You know, Professor Hagrid bought her for me on my eleventh birthday. She was my first birthday present ever, and my second real friend in my life, after Hagrid of course."
He realized immediately that he shouldn't have mentioned that as Sarah's eyes opened wide. "You never got any presents before you were eleven?" The shock on her voice was evident.
They reached the Fat Lady's portrait, but before Harry gave the password, he crouched down a bit so he could talk to Sarah face to face. "Well, let me explain. You've probably heard how before coming to Hogwarts and finding out about the Wizarding World I was raised by my muggle aunt and uncle, right?" He got a nod in return so he continued, "The truth is that they weren't nice people at all. They treated me very badly and treated their own son, Dudley, very, very well. They ignored every single one of my birthdays and didn't want me around at all. They also tried very hard to keep me from finding out I was a Wizard and they succeeded pretty well until Hagrid broke down their door and told me flat out." He couldn't help sniffle slightly as he remembered the first eleven horrid years of his life.
Sarah apparently had a similar reaction as she let go of Harry's side and wrapped her arms around him in an actual hug, though her head only came up to his chest. "That's awful! I'm really sorry you had to go through that. I only have one uncle and I don't like him either." Harry noticed her eyes were shining with tears again, but he knew that they were tears over his past.
Harry shifted from foot to foot nervously as Sarah released him. He felt as if another weight had loaded itself on to his back. No matter what, Harry still did not like people feeling sorry for him. "Alright. I think we should go in now. You'll be safe in here and you can meet some of my other friends. Well, you've probably already met Luna since she's in Ravenclaw too. I think she'll be in here." He gave the password, as Sarah assumed her place at Harry's side again, clutching his hip nervously.
They made their way through the portrait hole and Harry steered the two of them over to where he spotted Ron and Luna playing a game of Wizard's Chess, but even Ron didn't look particularly interested in it as he had a very solemn look about him. Luna as well didn't seem interested and her normal dreamy, serene behavior was replaced with a far more depressed and serious one. Hermione, Ginny and Neville were all chatting in hushed tones on a couch beside the table that contained the chess match. They too, like Ron and Luna, appeared to be depressed.
Ron looked up first and spotted Harry, but frowned slightly as he caught sight Sarah. "Who's the ankle biter attached to your hip?" he asked bluntly.
"Ron!" exclaimed Ginny as she looked up and saw Sarah, who had pushed herself up against Harry more firmly due to her own nervousness after Ron's comment, "At least have some tact." She rolled her eyes and her brother while Hermione gave him a quizzical look. Luna, however, seemed uninterested and seized the opportunity to take one of Ron's knights with her queen.
"Alright here's the situation," Harry began as he sat down in the middle of a two person couch which was seated across from the one Hermione, Ginny and Neville were already seated on. As Sarah sat beside him, still clutching his arm nervously, Harry wondered where to start. "There are a lot of students supporting Voldemort right now." He waited until the gasps from his friends had dissipated before continuing. "This is Sarah," he said as he needlessly gestured to the growth on his side, "She was attacked by some Death Eater wannabes in her dorm. She luckily got away. I found her and another student in Flitwick's classroom." Hermione and Ginny smiled at Sarah, who in return simply hid her face in Harry's robes.
"Anyways, I took her to McGonagall's office, but as it turns out she, Flitwick, Sprout and Slughorn have all been called away to meet with the Board of Governors until the morning. I don't think it's safe in Ravenclaw Tower right now, especially with Flitwick gone, so I offered to let Sarah stay here with us tonight. Luna," he continued, turning to the blonde haired girl and was slightly pained to see that she looked quite serious and very un-Luna like at. "I don't think you should go back, either." He got a solemn nod in return without comment. "I'm not even sure anymore if all of our DA members are trustworthy. I think its best if we just sit tight until we go home and then we can start worrying about who is working for Voldemort and who we're able to trust. That, however, brings us to our next point, but for now-" he looked down on and smiled at Sarah "- I think I'll teach Sarah how to beat Ron in Exploding Snap."
Sarah warmed up to rest of his friends fairly quickly, Harry was pleased to see, but what got him laughing along with the rest of them was that the young girl needed no instruction on Exploding Snap at all. She in fact had trounced everyone who attempted to play with her including Ginny, who Harry had never seen lose a game in her entire stay at Hogwarts.
The entire group had gone down for supper and noted that only a few of the staff remained, as Harry had suspected. Nearly the entire Slytherin population was absent, too, which was quite unnerving, but yet a nice relief at the same time. They ate quickly and returned to the Gryffindor Common room at Harry's insistence after he saw Sarah quickly become nervous when a large group of sixth and seventh year Ravenclaws entered all in one large group.
After that Harry began to show Sarah the correct way to lose to Ron in Wizard's Chess. It appeared that after losing two games to Luna in quick succession during the evening Ron wasn't willing to lose again. The Harry and Sarah team only managed to win one game against Ron for the hour that they played and that was only because Luna had taken to whispering move suggestions to them much to Ron's obvious annoyance.
While Harry really wanted to talk to his friends about his plans for tomorrow, including finding a suitable base of operations, tracking down Voldemort's four remaining Horcruxes, discussing who was a trustworthy ally and who was a Death Eater and finally defeating Voldemort and his followers for good, he and his friends, including Sarah, need some fun in their day. Dumbledore's death weighed heavily on all of them and while mourning, in Harry's mind, was a good thing, it couldn't be all he did during the day.
It was around 9 PM in the evening when Sarah fell asleep against Harry's arm. They had been sitting on the couch while Sarah had been reading Hermione's copy of Hogwarts: A History. Naturally, Ron instantly noted that reading that book can put anyone asleep to which Hermione quickly scowled at him in reply.
"Alright, Harry, she's asleep. I think it's time you told us what's going on. I know you've told Ron and Hermione, but Neville, Luna and I want to know too," Ginny stated, glaring at him and doing a great imitation of her mother.
"Yeah, and we want to help fight V-Voldemort too!" Neville added quickly.
Harry glanced around and noticed that many students had gone to bed early, and the only other people still in the common room besides the group of seven were the Creevey brothers, who were noisily playing a game of Exploding Snap with some first years that claimed they weren't tired yet. Seeing as they didn't have a good opportunity of being overheard, Harry filled in the other three about his private lessons with Dumbledore, and finally about Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes.
"Blimey Harry, that's nuts," Neville said, shaking his head. "And you went with Professor Dumbledore to destroy one of them?"
Harry nodded. "Except that it was already taken by someone with the initials R.A.B. Hermione has been looking up the initials to the records of Hogwarts students, but hasn't had much time to come up with anything. That's one of our first priorities."
"Well, count me in anyways," Neville added, looking proud. "Gran's been saying all year I'd make a good Auror after she saw my Defense Against the Dark Arts mark and I told her what happened at the Ministry last year."
"Don't think you're getting rid of me that easily, Harry Potter," Ginny said, her face flushed with determination. "I'm coming with you, Hermione and Ron to Privet Drive this year as well."
Harry shook his head to this. "You can't, Gin," Harry began as Ginny glared and opened her mouth to protest. "Your mum would go spare if you even suggested it. Now I know she's letting Ron go, but that's because he's of age now."
"Who ruddy well cares what she thinks! This is important!" Ginny shouted as her face turned red.
Smiling meekly, Harry gave her a slight nod. "We'll get to that in a minute as I have no intention of leaving people behind, but I must stress that this isn't something to be said likely. Ron, Hermione, though I know you already said you'd come with me no matter what, I need you to listen to me. I am now Voldemort's number one target and since I plan on going around destroying pieces of his soul, the risk to myself will increase. Anyone around me also faces great danger as well. I need to know if you're serious about doing this, because I have quite a few plans I need to think over first."
"Like I said before you aren't leaving me behind, Harry Potter!" Ginny said passionately, he facing glowing. "I've fought the Death Eaters twice and I'm not about to stop now just because I 'might' be in danger!" She paused to glance around the six people. "I've been in danger since my first year at Hogwarts and even since my birth since I'm a Weasley." She huffed for a second before adding, "And then, I followed you and fought Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange along with some others in the Department of Mysteries. This isn't even mentioning that I was so possessed in my first year by Voldemort's so called first Horcrux. You are not getting rid of me so easily."
Harry nodded, grateful for her support. He hated asking questions like this, but he felt that it was his duty to make sure they all knew what they'd be getting in to.
"Oh, and for your information, Harry, You and I are still going steady, you great prat. I didn't argue with you earlier because I knew you weren't feeling up to it. Let's face it; I'm on any hit list of Voldemort's already and it won't change just because I'm openly snogging you," Ginny said, blushing at her last sentence as Ron's mouth hung open stupidly.
Laughing a little, Harry smiled warmly. "As you command, Miss Weasley. Seriously, though. That's one."
"Oi, you prat," Ron began as he rolled his eyes. "I'm a Weasley too and have always stood by you. I'm not going to leave now just because I might be marked by some of V-v-Voldemort's ruddy Death Eaters."
Harry smiled inwardly, "Alright, that's two then."
"I already said I was going with you and I'm not about to change my mind, no matter what you say. After all, I've taken enough 'mudblood' comments from Malfoy and his cronies to last me a life time. It's time I showed them what a muggleborn with can do," Hermione said, he cheeks getting a pinkish tint to them.
"Death Eaters tortured my parents. They… they don't even recognize me anymore. I think that's enough reason for me," Neville said, looking down at his legs sadly. Harry agreed.
"Those who fight evil have a better chance of finding Crumple-Horned Snorkacks," Luna commented dreamily. "My housemates are acting like they have Nargles in their pants and are using their treasured intellect for the wrong reasons. I've got to set them straight," she continued, without the dreamy tone. This was probably the most serious Harry had even seen Luna, and she had still mentioned Crumple-Horned Snorkacks and Nargles.
Harry sniffed slightly and felt his eyes watering. "Thank you. I mean it, thank you. I know I couldn't do this alone, but I didn't want to force you to follow me. I've got a bigger role in finding the Horcruxes than even the Order of the Phoenix knows about and right now we six are the only ones that know about it. For now, we're going to keep it that way. Ron, Hermione and I will be going back to Privet Drive and find a suitable location for our Headquarters as well as find out who we can trust from the Order or not. After Snape I'm not sure we can trust all their members, so I'd rather not work out of Grimmauld Place." He noticed Ginny about to get up and protest again so he turned to her and smiled. "Ginny, we'll come get you after the 30th of July. That's when Privet Drive's blood protection runs out and we'll be forced to move anyways. Your mum would go spare if you didn't stay with her and Fleur for a least half of the summer. After that you can come and stay with us. Neville, Luna- the same goes for you. We'll come get you after we have our Headquarters established and well protected. From then on we'll fill you three in and then from there we'll devise a plan to locate the other Horcruxes. It's going to be tough, but I'm truly glad you'll be there to help me along the way." He wiped the tears from his eyes with his free arm, the other being occupied by Sarah's head.
"Of course," Harry continued, sighing deeply. "We'll have to be very careful what we put in writing over the next month. We can't simply avoid contact with each other, but we can't be very obvious with it. I want you three," he began and pointed at Neville, Luna and Ginny, "to have an escape plan thought up by the time you get home in case you have trouble. Head to one of each other's houses if you get in to trouble and then alert Ron, Hermione and I of the situation. Also, keep those DA galleons we had before. When we're coming to pick you up on the 30th or 31st of July I'll make them warm up so you'll know to expect us." He got three nods in return. "We're going to teach Voldemort that he's not allowed to walk all over us anymore."
The other five nodded, ready to go the distance and defeat Voldemort at any cost.
Harry entered McGonagall's office unsure of what to expect. He had never been to a magical will reading, and he wasn't sure whether or not to expect a lot of people. Dumbledore was very influential and powerful in the wizard world since he was both Headmaster of Hogwarts and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.
Much to Harry's relief there were only a few people present in the Office. Dumbledore's Pensieve was placed on his old desk and chairs encircled it. It also appeared that the room had been magically enlarged to fit all the people present. Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, Slughorn and Sprout were present along with Moody, Lupin, Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt representing the Order of the Phoenix. On the far side of the room, behind Dumbledore's desk, sat Rufus Scrimgeour, Minister of Magic, flanked by two Aurors sitting on either side of him wearing their full dress robes. Off to the side sat a man that could only be Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth.
Aberforth Dumbledore looked nearly identical to his late brother, Albus. They had the same crooked nose and facial features and appeared to be about the same height and share the same physical stature. The only difference that Harry was able to determine was that while Albus' eyes were a bright blue and twinkled brilliantly, Aberforth's were more of a dull grey and without the twinkle. Harry thought that Aberforth's eyes were quite familiar, but he couldn't place them. He eventually just assumed that due to Aberforth's facial features he was reminded of Albus.
Beside Aberforth Dumbledore sat Hagrid, who took up two and a half chairs. He took the last available seat between Moody and Hagrid and waited patiently, wondering what exactly was going to happen and why Dumbledore's pensieve was out.
"Ahem," Scrimgeour coughed deeply as he stood up. "We're here to listen to the Will of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbeldore," he stated gruffly, as if everyone in the room didn't already know why there were present. He took out his wand and tapped the edge of Dumbledore's Pensieve three times in quick succession and then sat back down quickly.
There was a large puff of smoke that erupted from the Pensieve and blanketed the entire audience in thick white smoke. Harry couldn't see his hands in front of his face, but as no one else was alarmed he kept his concerns to himself and sat back in his chair.
Within seconds the smoke had cleared and there was Dumbledore, or at least a two foot highly ghostly white representation of him, standing with his feet just touching the liquid in the Pensieve. Harry was quickly reminded of when he viewed the memory of Trelawney giving the Prophecy to him at about the same time last year.
The figure of Dumbledore stood silent for a moment before adjusting his miniature half-moon glasses. "I'd like to thank you all for coming here, because unfortunately I have timed quite an untimely death and have troubled you all greatly. However, I ask that you listen to an old man's ramblings one final time." The ghostly Dumbledore looked around the room and nodded, "I see that Minerva has successfully brought everyone that I requested a few months earlier into attendance." Dumbledore gave McGonagall a small smile and Harry noticed that his Transfiguration Professor was dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief that she had in her lap.
"Since I'm sure you all have many more important matters to attend to than listen to me one final time, I'll get right down to business. I'll leave all my worldly possessions and money to one Severus Snape-" the crowd erupted until furiously comments ('An outrage!', Hagrid had bellowed), but Dumbledore's figure merely smiled and waited for everyone to quiet down. When they had, he continued. "- unless of course he had something to do with my most unfortunate death." The room broke into murmurs again and Harry could have sworn he saw the figure's eyes twinkling merrily at him.
"In the case that Professor Snape did have something to do with this Will needing to be read; I will leave all my possessions to my older brother, Aberforth. I am sure that he, like I, does not need so many books and would much rather have many more pairs of warm socks for the winter, alas I must burden him with a long list of items." The figure's eyes twinkled again as Aberforth bowed his head a bit solemnly.
"And now," the ghostly Dumbledore continued, "I must ask for the Minister of Magic to leave the room." When the Minister stayed seated and gave a dismissive wave of his hand and began to open his mouth to speak, Dumbledore continued. "Actually, Rufus, it is well within my rights. As Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot I passed several such laws that allowed a Witch or Wizard to disallow certain people from listening to a Will. I am merely invoking an entirely legal procedure."
Scrimgeour gave and unintelligible snort and stayed seated. "I doubt he'll mind."
"As I am sure you, Rufus, will not leave the room unless escorted, I will burden Alastor one final time and ask him to remove you from the room by force, if necessary," Dumbledore continued with yet another small smile. Harry could tell that even in death, Dumbledore had recorded a will that he knew would be amusing.
"I suggest you leave now, Mr. Scrimgeour. I won't hesitate to remove you and your two friends. Albus has requested that you leave," Moody said gruffly, his hand on his wand. Scrimgeour gave a non-committal shrug and left the room, his two Aurors hot on his heels.
"Excellent work as always, Alastor," Dumbledore replied merrily. Harry was beginning to wonder if this really was a will recording, but he knew that Dumbledore was very good at predicting situations before they happened.
The figure of Albus Dumbledore turned back to his brother. "I am sorry Aberforth, but I must make an amendment to my last statement. Alas I could not with the Minister present in the room." Aberforth said nothing and merely nodded politely at his brother.
"This concerns young Mr. Potter," Dumbledore began and Harry sat straight up in his chair. Smiling, Dumbledore continued, "I am sure you are all familiar with the claims that Harry must face Lord Voldemort alone. Due to this, I will ask you, Aberforth, to let Harry have any of my possessions that he feels he needs to complete this task before you struggle to find a place to put them all."
Harry's mind was reeling. He tried to think of what Dumbledore may have that he needed, but he was drawing a complete blank at the moment due to the shock of such a statement. He could feel all the eyes of all the other people present looking directly at him. This was more unnerving due to Moody's fake eye being only mere inches from the side of his face.
"Might I suggest, Harry, that you start with this very Pensieve that I am using to deliver my final statements? Surely you have recognized its importance during this last year. I assure you that there are some very important memories in here and," the figure's eyes twinkled yet again as Dumbledore's imaged gave another of his small smiles, "if you look hard enough, you may even find the memory I had of eating my first Lemon Drop."
"And, of course," Dumbledore continued while Harry was thinking over the Pensieve and what other objects he might need, "I am also sure that Aberforth will willingly give anything that the Order desires over to Alastor, and Remus." Harry looked over a noticed that Lupin was trying to hold back tears. Albus Dumbledore had a huge impact on many people's lives. "With that, I must leave you all. However, I expect you not to worry about me. I have faith in you all. Yes, especially you, Harry," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling as Harry had just felt a twinge of panic. "I may have passed away, but I try not think of it as a bad thing. Alas for me, death is but the next great adventure." Giving a small smile, the ghostly white figure of Albus Dumbledore receded back into the Pensieve.
The occupants of the room sat in silence as they tried to keep their emotions in check. They mostly succeeded, except for Hagrid, who was bawling his eyes out and blowing his nose on an oversized handkerchief. They all had one thing in common though; they were all remembering the good times with Albus Dumbledore.
When the group had mostly left, Harry heard a snore from behind him and whirled around to see Phineas Nigellus snoozing in comfortable chair that his portrait had. He quickly looked to the side and was disappointed to see that the portrait of Albus Dumbledore was lacking the former Headmaster himself, but still had a very nice looking chair in it. "But… but…" Harry sputtered sadly.
"Oh don't worry about that, Mr. Potter," McGonagall said coming behind him and staring up at the portrait. "His other portrait is located in Honeydukes as Albus always did love his sweets. I've been informed by Mr. Honeyduke himself that his sales have gone up considerably in the last few days due to Albus' sales pitch," she finished with a small smile. Harry couldn't help but smile himself at the very thought of a picture of Dumbledore helping sell sweets to children.
The Hogwarts Express was a quiet affair. Harry sat in a compartment with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna with Sarah dozing off against his shoulder again. They spoke very little during the trip and that was only Harry explaining what had gone on during Dumbledore's will reading.
The Pensieve was packed carefully with the help of Professor McGonagall, who knew how to transport such things, in his trunk. He wasn't sure what else he'd need and he really didn't have much time to stay around and look, but both Aberforth Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall had promised that they'd be around Hogsmeade and Hogwarts for most of the summer and that he was welcome to come back whenever to continue searching.
Harry had also vowed to leave all his depression and anger at Hogwarts before boarding the train. He knew he deserved time to grieve and fume on his own, but he couldn't let it cloud his mind from his true objective in defeating Voldemort. He realized that this would be an exceedingly hard task without his mind focused at least one hundred percent on his quest.
They were nearing King's Cross station when the compartment door slide open and banged loudly as it hit the end of its track. In walked a girl with long and shiny black hair.
"Hi Harry," the visitor said, smiling warmly. "I wonder if I could have a word with you? In private, of course."
"Erm well… I guess…" Harry said, mumbling. He wasn't quite sure what Cho wanted, but it was probably just another attempt to get back together with him. However, as he was shifting to get up, Sarah quickly grasped his arm and kept him firmly in place.
"Sarah?" he asked curiously, raising an eyebrow towards the young girl as she firmly hugged his arm with a fearful look on her face.
Harry looked back up at Cho and was about to shrug when something clicked in his brain. Glaring at the raven-haired girl, he pursed his lips firmly. "I suggest you leave, Cho, before I don't let you leave."
Cho raised an eyebrow and quickly glanced between Sarah and Harry, looking dangerous. "What if I don't want to?" she asked arrogantly.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry growled, swiftly drawing his wand and pointing it at the former Head Girl. The jet of light shot out and caught Cho in the stomach, pitching her back out of the compartment where she crashed into the side of the train with a thud. Getting up quickly, Harry walked over, half dragging Sarah with him, a few steps and shut the compartment door solidly, causing a loud bang again. He glanced out the window a saw Cho slowly getting up, favoring her back, with a furious look on her face.
"Was Cho one of the people who... you know?" Hermione asked silently.
Harry nodded. "It has to be Hermione, the way Sarah reacted to hearing her voice…" he trailed off as he headed back to his seat, keeping one of his arms protectively draped around the young girl's shoulders. "She'll be better off when we get her back to her parents in a few minutes."
The rest of the ride was uneventful, but when the Hogwarts Express pulled into King's Cross station, the screaming started. Rushing out of the compartment to look out the nearest window facing the station, the group gasped. Part of King's Cross station was on fire and Aurors were everywhere, trying to keep people calm. The group drew their wands, though by the looks of it whatever happened was already over as the Aurors didn't have their wands out.
Harry pulled Sarah along with him mainly because she wasn't letting go and scrambled out the nearest exit, Ron and Ginny in hot pursuit.
King's Cross station was in ruins. There area surrounding the barrier from Platform 9 3/4 was reduced to rubble and there were a lot of blackened scorch marks from spell damage all around the platform. Harry also couldn't help but notice many bodies lying deathly still on the ground with black pieces of cloth draped over them to hide them from view, but above all, the main thing to catch everyone's eye was the large Dark Mark hovering high in the sky.
"Potter." A familiar voice called Harry heard the clunk of a peg leg as Moody came up to his side.
"What happened?" Harry asked instantly. "Why did the Death Eaters attack? How did the battle go?"
Moody shook his head grimly, obviously disgusted. "Wasn't really a battle, Potter. More like a slaughter. Aurors didn't get here nearly quick enough." Moody's magical eye whirled around in its socket before stopping on Sarah. The eye whirled around again and both focused on Harry. "Well Potter," he began, the magical eye glancing at Sarah again, "It looks like we have something to discuss," he said gravely.
To be continued