Harry Potter and the Tomb of Libitina
Chapter 1: The Will of the Greatest
Harry's hand closed automatically over the fake Horcrux but, in spite of everything, in spite of the dark twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace with Ron and Hermione.
At that moment Professor McGonagall's voice reached over the crowd, "Unfortunately the Hogwarts Express will not be ready for the journey until later this evening; there will be a space of some three hours before it is ready. Those students whose parents have attended today are of course free to go."
Ron looked around nervously. "You don't think something's gone wrong, with the train I mean?"
Hermione turned to him and whispered, just loud enough for Harry to hear as well, "I don't think so; I think that the Ministry will just be upping the security for the journey." Harry thought that she was probably right, as usual, but before he could agree with her Professor McGonagall had laid a hand on his shoulder from behind.
"Mr Potter, I would appreciate if you would spend some of the time, between now and the train journey home, in my office," she said in a voice that Harry had only ever heard her adopt when he had requested permission to see the petrified Hermione in their second year.
if this is about what Dumbledore and I did that night?"
"No, you have already made your views on that clear and, misguided though I believe them to be, I respect them. This is about... Albus' last will and testament."
Harry stared at her in amazement. He looked at Ron and Hermione. They were both gaping at him. He looked back to the new headmistress. "My office, Mr Potter, as soon as possible please." Before he could fully catch up with this development, she had turned and marched off, choking back a sob.
Predictably, Hermione was the first to wake from this impressed reverie and said quietly, "You'd better go, Harry." Harry nodded silently and turned and walked away back up the stone front steps, through the Entrance Hall and the corridors that he had pounded so often that year on his way to his tutorials with Dumbledore.
When he reached the stone gargoyle that guarded the spiral staircase, he met Hagrid waiting outside, eyes still red and tears still clearly visible in his thick beard. He did not seem capable of speaking to Harry or even smiling as he usually did, but merely nodded and turned to the gargoyle and said, "I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me." No sudden leap from the gargoyle; instead it gave a deep bow and stepped sideways. Harry stepped onto the staircase, which rumbled into life and moved upwards.
Inside the office there were a small group of people. The first he saw was Mad-Eye Moody, whose magical eye was completely still in its socket. Harry then noticed Professor Slughorn, Professor Flitwick and Professor Trelawney (whose usual garb of many shawls and overlarge glasses had today been replaced by black dress robes and blissfully scaled glasses). The last in line was Remus Lupin. Harry stood awkwardly in a corner feeling uncomfortably bright in his green dress robes. After a while Harry heard the stairwell move again and Hagrid walked in followed by Professor McGonagall and finally the innkeeper from the Hogshead. Harry vaguely wondered why he had been invited but Professor McGonagall spoke in a voice that was barely audible above the many sniffs and sobs throughout the room.
"Thank you all for coming, I thought it would be a good time now while everyone was already here to hear Albus' will." She turned away and walked across the room that appeared not to have changed at all in the time that she had taken possession of it, and over to the cabinet that Dumbledore had once stored drinks in and withdrew from it the stone basin that Harry had seen so often though out the year. She removed her wand from a pocket and touched the silvery thoughts that swilled within it and stepped back as a tall figure grew out of it, his eyes twinkling he grew to his full height and smiled around the room.
Harry noticed that this Dumbledore's hands were whole and healthy. Quickly, he turned to Professor McGonagall and asked, "Professor, when was this recorded?" His voice was a whisper, his throat barely managing to get the words out.
"A few months after You-Know-Who's return," she replied, her voice just as husky as his had been.
Harry turned back to the transparent Dumbledore and waited for him to start speaking.
"This memory is being played back and that can only mean one thing; I have passed on to the next great adventure. I have only one thing to say about that; Damn." Harry noticed Slughorn and Moody grin to themselves. "I suppose that means that I must distribute my few possessions among those I care about. Firstly, I leave my rather large collection of books to the Hogwarts school library. Now to Alistair Moody, possibly my oldest and dearest friend, I give you the various possessions of Grindelwald whom you helped me defeat so, so long ago and I hope you will find them useful. I know that they are possibly some of the most powerful magical items still in existence and will no doubt help you lead the Order of the Phoenix, which I also leave in your charge. To Horace Slughorn I leave my many essays on the various magical properties and uses of dragon's blood, as well as my – uncompleted – notes on alchemy, a topic I know you take great interest in.
"Minerva, I leave to you the position of Headmistress at Hogwarts, as well as this pensive which you will find most necessary as Headmistress especially if you continue teaching as I did until your arrival. To Severus Snape ..." There were angry noises from all around the room. Undoubtedly the most indignant was Hagrid; who jumped to his feet and brought one of his great fists down on an empty chair which was reduced to sawdust and splinters from the onslaught. No-one bothered to tell Hagrid to control himself, or to repair the chair. Harry was so angry in fact that his furious thoughts caused him to miss what Dumbledore was bequeathing to Snape, Flitwick and Trelawney, but he was brought back to his surroundings by the sound another familiar name that should not be among this list.
"...To Sirius Black, to you I can only offer my most humble apologies for sending you to Azkaban and I find myself at a loss for what I can give to you to make up for this so I give you one third of my Gringotts account that may go some short way to repaying the thirteen years that I, along with others, robed you of. To Remus Lupin I also give one third of my Gringotts account this hopefully will make your uncomfortable life somewhat more bearable and will hopefully lessen your financial difficulties. I also beg you to reconsider your choice to allow the Homorphus Charm to be performed on you. I am sure even with me gone there will be someone who can perform the charm for you."
"To Rubeus Hagrid I wish to one last time declare my non-swerving confidence in you and to insist to Minerva that keep your jobs both as Game Keeper and Care of Magical Creatures teacher."
Harry could have sworn he heard Professor McGonagall mutter, "Naturally."
"I also have a special gift for you, a gift that I would have been arrested for giving you if I was still alive so I give it to you now. An Antipodean Opaleye egg that I procured though means of my own but only as long as you swear that it will live in the cave that lies beyond the Forbidden Forest."
There was some curious muttering at this. Hagrid's jaw was currently residing somewhere around the region of his chest and did not look like returning to its customary position for some time. Harry attempted to remember what an Antipodean Opaleye was, but was cut short when the memory of Dumbledore continued.
"To my brother Aberforth," Harry looked around but could not see who Dumbledore was addressing and had almost decided that he had been unable to attend the funeral when he met the eyes of the barman from the Hogshead. At that moment he realized where he had seen him before. It had been niggling at the back of his mind for over a year now and he could finally remember that it was in the photo of the original Order that Moody had shown him. "I admit I have not always been the best of brothers," the memory continued. "But know that I have always cared about your welfare more than you can possibly know. To you I leave the remaining third of my account at Gringotts and all of the instruments in this office that I inherited from our father."
Harry was about to get up thinking it was over when he realized that he would not have been summoned unless he was also a benefactor of the will. Sure enough, "Lastly to Harry Potter, the closest thing to a son I have ever had and the student who I am most proud of throughout my whole time at Hogwarts. To you I leave you something that is by rights yours anyway. You will find it in the third drawer on the left side of my desk in a small case that bears the Potter family crest."
Professor McGonagall opened the drawer with a wave of her wand and summoned a small box about the size of a shoe box but only half as deep and in the shape of a shield which she passed to Harry. He resisted the urge to open it because Dumbledore was speaking again.
"This leaves only the issue of Fawkes. I admit that I am not absolutely sure about this due to the fact that I am the only recorded case of taming a specimen for several hundred years. I see three possibilities; one that he will return to the wild state in which I first met him, secondly he may remove himself from this world go on to the afterlife to follow me, thirdly that he will go to whom I leave him to, if that is the case then I will leave him to, if Fawkes will assent to accepting him, Harry Potter. And so I now bid you all one very final good-bye." With that the translucent figure disappeared again.
There was a time where all the people in the room sat either lost in thought or examining what Dumbledore had left them. Harry was in the latter class. The box that had been produced from the desk was covered in a thick layer of dust. Harry pulled out his wand and gave it a wave. The dust disappeared silently, leaving behind a white cover with a lion and a stag grappling on it. Harry stared; the stag an image so very familiar to him. It was the exact one that his Patronus formed and, he was prepared to bet, the same one that his father had been able transform into. After a while he opened it. Inside there were several glass vials and a tightly folded note. Harry opened it and read Dumbledore's familiar snaking script:
Harry, this box was one of the only things that could be found in the ruins of your parents house and I should have given it to you along time ago, but in all honesty, I didn't know if you would want to see what was inside. All that it can possibly show are bad memories. You will see that there are four bottles inside. These are memories. The one with the yellow stopper contains the prophecy and the others are memories of your mother and father at Hogwarts and after. I am sure you will find them most interesting. But these are not what this box was originally made to store. If you look in the underside of the lid you will see a small compartment, within which is the key to Godric's Hollow. Use it well.
Harry stared at the note, remembering the exact same three words that had been written on the note that had come with his father's invisibility cloak. He was pulled from his reverie by the sound of Hagrid tearfully muttering the words he had so often said before, "Great man, Dumbledore, Great man."
Harry turned around and smiled at Hagrid, "Yeah, he was, Hagrid," he replied. Hagrid managed a weak smile.
"So, wha' was in the box?"
"The key to Godric's Hollow, not that it will do me much good. From what you and Sirius said there wasn't a key hole to put a key in after... You-Know-Who went thought it," Harry said carefully, not wanting to upset people when they were so miserable already.
"Don't be so sure about tha', Harry," Hagrid said with a stronger smile. "Your mum and dad were damn powerful. Maybe they will have done something about the house. I doubt Dumbledore would give you a useless gift."
"Yeah," Harry said, realizing that Hagrid was completely correct. He then remembered the egg that Dumbledore had given to Hagrid and his saying that it was illegal. "What is an Antipodean Opaleye?" he asked, with a sneaking suspicion that he might already know.
"It – well – it's a dragon, Harry," Hagrid said, confirming Harry's guess. "Come from New Zealand, beautiful scales and nowhere near as vicious as most other dragons. But well, the thing is that I don't know if I can take it."
"Why not? Hatching an illegal dragon didn't worry you with Norbert."
"It's not that it's illegal, is just that I can't keep it were Dumbledore asked me to. Ya see, that's were Grawp lives these days and don't think he would appreciate sharing his cave with a dragon; giants hate dragons and dragons hate giants, ya see it's just 'ow they're born. They're the biggest threat to each other, apart from wizards." Harry was impressed at the loyalty that Hagrid was showing to Dumbledore but deep down he was glad that there would not be another dragon hatching any time soon, even if it was less vicious than other dragons.
Remus Lupin then walked over to Harry and Hagrid and after a quick nod to Hagrid he turned to Harry and said, "Come on, Harry, I think we should go back out to the grounds; your prolonged absence may be noticed by some people." Harry was sure that by some people Lupin had meant Scrimgeour and the other Ministry members.
"Ok," he said quietly and he got up to go and, together with Lupin, walked to the foot of the staircase.
"I am also going back to the grounds, because my absence will be noticed by other people," he said with a quick smile and Harry thought that, this time, he must be talking about Tonks.
Once they had stepped off moving staircase, Harry turned to Lupin, "Professor..."
"Remus, please, Harry. It is now almost three years since I was your teacher so please address me by my name."
"Remus; what happens to the gold that Dumbledore left to Sirius?"
"Well, as Sirius left all his possessions to you, the money will go on to you."
"No! I've got more than enough money already, you have it."
"Harry, that is very generous but…."
"You were Sirius' best friend. He would've wanted you to be able to live comfortably more than he would want me to have extra gold, which I will never be able to spend."
"That is true, Harry...," Lupin was clearly about to argue the point but Harry cut across him.
"Well that's settled then; I'll send an owl to Gringotts to tell them."
They walked together through the maze of corridors in silence for a time, until Harry remembered Dumbledore's parting words to Lupin.
"Remus; what is the Homorphus Charm?"
"Ah, well that is a charm – an immensely complex charm, mind you – that can cure a werewolf. The problem is that it has to be performed when the werewolf is transformed and not under the effects of the Wolfsbane Potion."
"What would happen? If you did it when the person isn't transformed or has taken the potion, I mean?"
"If I hadn't transformed then it wouldn't do anything, if however, I had taken the Wolfsbane potion, I would be cured of my transformation but I would lose my human mind. I would have the mind of a werewolf forever."
"Could you teach me to do it, Professor? – Sorry, Remus – then I could perform it on you."
"A generous offer, Harry, but I am afraid I can not let you take that risk. It would require you to be touching me when I am a wolf and it would be all too easy for me to bite you before you could use the charm. Do not go thinking that nobody has ever offered to do this for me; your father, Sirius, and Dumbledore have all said they would be delighted to do it but I have thought long and hard about it and I could not let anyone else suffer as I have simply in order to try to help me."
"But surely, there must be some way." Harry said, as they walked down the marble staircase that led to the entrance hall.
"No, Harry, there is not, and now you must excuse me, for if you will remember it is full moon tonight and I should go and take another dose of potion that Horace so kindly made for me," and with that he turned around and headed off towards Slughorn's office.