The next morning Harry awoke feeling refreshed, having had a solid night of sleep. He frowned for a second as he realized that something was askew with his perception. Throwing his glasses on, he remembered all the changes that Remus had done to his room the night before. Hearing a hoot from Hedwig he turned and looked up to see that she was regarding him with what could only be construed as puzzlement. Standing, he made his way to his long time companion and affectionately scratched her. Harry took a moment to feed her, and used a quick charm to fill her bowl with water. After showering and tidying up he rummaged through his clothes. It took him several long moments of searching before he found something decent to wear. I need to get new clothes, he thought, Dudley's old cast offs simply won't do.
Dressed, he descended to the kitchen, and made himself a quick breakfast. Ignoring the looks and sniffing that his aunt directed his way, Harry finished his meal. Just as he was making his way out of the kitchen his uncle and cousin entered. Seeing him his uncle stopped in his tracks and glared at him his fists clenching convulsively. Harry smirked at his uncle as he brushed past him and went up to his room. He settled himself as comfortably as he could on his new pillows and tried once again to relax and enter a meditative state. His mind quickly flitted over the concerns and thoughts were part of his daily existence. Comfortable that he had already cataloged those issues he found that he could set them aside. He focused his mind inward and started to follow the hypnotic rhythm of his pulse and breath. Unaware of time or surroundings Harry relaxed and let the tension drain from his body. Lost in his own body he heard neither the door creak open nor the heavy tread that rapidly approached him. Instead he became aware of another presence when he felt an old, familiar, and decidedly unpleasant tug. Reacting instinctively Harry ducked and rolled away from the tugging sensation. Opening his eyes, he came up from his roll with his wand fully extended pointing directly at his uncle's belly.
"What do you think you're doing?" Harry snarled at his uncle.
"Ungrateful cur. You've got visitors." With that his uncle disappeared out of his room. Harry quickly followed and made his way down to the front room. There he found Mr. Weasley and Remus sitting together. Mr. Weasley had the living room phone in his lap and was happily pressing buttons, listening to the beeping sound. Harry smiled fondly at the sight and wondered how this man was leading the Order during this troubled time.
Seeing Harry Mr. Weasley put the phone down, "Absolutely delightful. Ingenious how muggles manage. How are you Harry?" he asked as he got up and extended his hand to Harry.
Shaking his hand Harry responded, "Well, Mr. Weasley. You?"
"Very busy as you can imagine. Can we settle here to talk things over?" When Harry nodded affirmatively Mr. Weasley nodded at Remus. Standing, Remus took out his wand and performed the point-me spell. He then quickly took out four odd cubes and place one at each main cardinal point. When the last cube was put it place all four of them briefly emitted a dull blue light which brought a smile to Mr. Weasley's face. "Excellent. Portable privacy wards, very useful. Now Harry, I would like to officially welcome you to the Order, our youngest member ever. We would be foolish to pretend that you don't belong. With the Order's leadership I inherited many documents and items from Dumbledore. One of the items that I reviewed was his memory of the prophecy." Mr. Weasley's face fell as he said this. He continued in a lower voice, "I'm sorry that this burden has been placed on you. The inner circle of the Order knew part of the prophecy, but we had never heard the full thing. I, and the Order, will do what we can to help you of course. What I am going to ask you to do is to keep me as informed as you can about what you need."
"I'll do my best with that, but there are some things I will not be able to discuss with you and the Order," Harry replied. "Remus and I have found a way that I can discuss what I will be doing without giving up some security concerns that Dumbledore set on me."
"I'll have to live with that then," said Mr. Weasley. Smiling at Remus he continued, "I'm glad you're willing to rely on Remus. You two will make a formidable team.
"The next thing that we've to discuss is Grimmauld Place. Professor Flitwick assures me that the Fidelius Charm will last a couple more months. But during that time we would not be capable of allowing any new people to meet with us at headquarters. So we need to redo the charm. As the owner you can take down the current spell. But in addition to that I would like you to be our new secret keeper."
"Arthur, no. This is too much of a burden, he has enough to worry about," Remus snapped.
Holding up his hand Mr. Weasley continued, "I know Remus, but no other choice makes sense. I do not ask you lightly to do this, Harry. You've already faced Voldemort many times and the prophesy indicates that you are the one who will defeat him. The rest of us have no such assurances. I think the Order will be best protected if you are our Secret Keeper."
Harry nodded, "I'll do it. Just let me know when and what I need to do in order to perform the charm."
Remus sighed and frowned at Harry. "You've too much on your plate. You're spreading yourself to thin Harry. You need to learn to say no and delegate responsibility to others."
"I'll try to keep that in mind, Remus, but his logic can't be faulted. If Voldemort breaks me you are going to have bigger problems than just the fact that Grimmauld Place has been compromised." Turning back to Mr. Weasley, "This might sound odd, but how long does it take a Wizard to build a house?"
"A wizard who knows what he is doing, and has the proper materials and knowledge can build a house in less than two weeks. Like muggles we have people who specialize in building. But unlike muggles they can do it in a fraction of the time. Why do you ask?"
"Well I would like you to recommend someone you trust to completely fix Grimmauld Place. I want to make it a place that is worthy of being the Order's headquarters. It should have a new and complete potions lab, a training room, a fully stocked infirmary, and meeting room that isn't covered in layers of grim. I also was thinking that all Order members should have a port-key to take them to safety in case of an emergency. But to ensure that such a port-key doesn't compromise headquarters the arrival room should be specially designed so that you can only exit the room if someone lets you out. Finally the living sections of the house could all use new furniture and rooms could be made to be more comfortable."
"That all sounds nice Harry," Mr. Weasley said uncertainly. "But even the simplest of those changes cost too much money. Dumbledore left the Order with enough money to meet our operation costs. But even that will only last a year or two."
"Well, the Order's money worries are over," Harry stated firmly. "I'm putting the Black fortune fully at the Order's disposal. With that money I am hoping you will be able to better track Death Eater activities. I also would like to see that anyone going to fight has the best possible equipment and armor."
"Harry, this is your money. You need to think of your future," Mr. Weasley responded.
"That is just the point Mr. Weasley. I want to survive this war. I will not be able to lead my own life until this over. All the money in the world will mean nothing if we don't win. Also, I think the Order will be hard pressed to spend all the money in the Black vault. We are talking over eighty million galleons."
Mr. Weasley sat up in shock. Looking at Remus he asked, "He's joking right?"
"Not at all Arthur. Harry is very determined about this. So much so that he has given me access to the vault to better facilitate the Order's ability to access the money. I can't fault Harry's logic, and even if we somehow manage to spend all the money he still has the Potter account which will allow him to live comfortably."
"If you're sure, Harry," Mr. Weasley said uncertainly.
"Positive. Try to spend it all, I really don't want you to be conservative," Harry answered. Smiling wolfishly he added, "Find your inner Malfoy, and bribe someone."
"Well I don't know about that last one, Molly might object if I somehow managed to do that," Mr. Weasley paused and contemplated Harry. "I really wish I could refuse but I will honor your intentions. It goes against my grain not to be frugal, but so be it." Looking up at Remus he continued, "This will change how we go about things. We will be able to do so much more and we might even be able to implement some of Shakelbolt's ideas. As for your question Harry, yes I do know some people that we might be able to approach about reworking Grimauld Place. I'll have one of our aurors do a security check and then let you know."
"Before I run off to work, there is one more issue that I want to talk you about. We, the Order, believe that the Malfoy's are still supplying Voldemort with funds. With that in mind we are trying to bring extra pressure on them. We are in the process of gathering evidence against Draco Malfoy and his actions in allowing Death Eaters into Hogwarts. We've already collected the memories of Bill, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Neville and the teachers. We don't really need you to add to the testimony but I wanted to check to see if you wanted to add your testimony to the list?"
Harry rocked back in his seat as he thought over the events of that evening. He could easily picture the tears streaming down Malfoy's face as he held the wand on Dumbledore. Harry knew that Malfoy had been unable to murder Dumbledore, that he had lacked the cold bloodedness necessary to complete his assigned task. Was Malfoy a victim in this situation? Harry decided that - the fact that he was unable kill Dumbledore did not excuse him for allowing Death Eaters into Hogwarts. The battle at Hogwarts could be laid at the feet of the junior Death Eater. "No. I don't think I have anything to really add, since I did not witness Malfoy leading the Death Eaters."
"That's fine Harry; I think the aurors have already gathered enough information to go to court. In fact, Tonks has indicated that the aurors are already drawing up plans to try to capture the Malfoys at their manor. There is a chance that the Order will be asked to help support such an endeavor. I'll of course let you know if that is the case. I've also asked Remus to teach you, Ron, and Hermione how to pass messages using your patronous."
"That sounds good Mr. Weasley."
"Alright then. I'll be getting going, regular job and all. Is there anything else that we need to talk about Harry?" Harry nodded no and stood up. Remus moved about the room and collected the privacy wards and deposited them back in a velvet sack. Remus passed the sack to Mr. Weasley and they all walked to the front door. "If you don't mind I am going to pass the word to the rest of the inner circle that you're capable of receiving visitors. I know that a couple of them wanted to talk to you about various issues." With that Mr. Weasley apparated away.
Remus turned back to Harry and threw his arm around his shoulder. "How did the meditation go?"
"Better, much better. I actually spent most of last night writing in the journal that you gave me. This morning, however, I was much more successful than I've ever been before. So much so that my uncle was almost able to sneak up on me."
Remus looked surprise at that, "Tell me what happened."
Harry went over the events and ended by describing the pulling sensation that alerted him to his uncle's presence. "The pulling feeling was very similar to what I felt yesterday when I was chasing you."
Entering the living room again Remus settled in one of the chairs. "Well I have never read anything about what you described but it seems like a very useful trick to know. The account of the auror that first learned how to do an apparition chase never mentions using the skill for anything else. That's not say that there aren't other ways that such a skill might be used," Remus shrugged. "I suggest you try to develop that skill and seek to understand what things and situations bring out this ability. I should also teach you how to ward your room so that you are not caught again like that. A simple proximity alarm should be sufficient to ensure that you know what's going on. Do you want to go over any of the things that you wrote in your journal?"
Harry nodded, "But do you mind if we invoke that confessor charm again?" Remus answered by reaching out to grasp Harry's hand. Harry completed the charm and then asked Remus to secure the room a little better. As Remus worked on putting some privacy spells Harry asked him, "Do you think that you can get me some of those privacy cubes? I have a feeling that they will be very useful for me."
"That shouldn't be too difficult, Harry, especially now that I have access to the Black vault. I imagine that there is not much that I couldn't purchase if I tried hard enough. Those cubes are handy and take much less time to set up than all the spells I just had to do."
When Remus sat down Harry launched into all the details about the horcruxes and everything that he knew about Tom Riddle. To his credit Remus did not interrupt Harry's long story. Harry wrapped his tale up by explaining that Dumbledore had asked him to keep all of this secret. "That's quite a story that you have there. I'm not surprised that he asked you to keep it secret, but I also don't think he would have wanted you to tackle this problem on your own."
"Well, now I have you. And I must say that it feels good to have shared this with you. It'll be nice to have your perspective on this. Do you think Voldemort could've made more than seven?"
Remus steepled his hands in front of him as he considered the question, "Anything I have to add to the subject will be pure conjecture, of course. I agree with Dumbledore that seven is a likely number for the amount of horcruxes that he created. I've to imagine that there is also a limit to how many times a soul can be torn." Remus stopped at this point and cast about the room, picking up a piece of parchment. "Do you mind if I destroy this?" When Harry indicated no, he continued, "Now I am guessing, but I'm willing to bet that when tear your soul you don't control the size of the pieces that they get torn into. With that in mind let's tear this parchment seven times, each time in half. As you can see the first horcrux, the diary I'm guessing, had half his original soul. But each subsequent tear decreases the size of the soul by half. By the time we have reached the seventh piece you can see what Voldemort is left with," Remus concluded by holding up a small square of parchment. "If this is anything close to accurate then I would doubt that he is capable of creating another one."
"What about destroying them? I must've been terribly lucky with the diary. The ring almost killed Dumbledore," Harry stated.
"Well that is something that I can start researching. How are you going to track down the horcruxes?" Remus asked.
"Well, I told you the basics about what I learned about Voldemort. I'm going to try and follow his trail as best I can. I'll also go to Godric's Hollow and see what's there. I was going to have Hermione organize a research group. I thought between her, Luna, and Ginny - they would come up with more things that I could check. There is not much that we will be able to do against Voldemort until I track down those horcruxes."
They both lapsed into silence at that point. Harry flopped down on the pillow and thought about the events of the previous couple of days. His old anger of Snape returned as he thought about the teacher's hook. Part of him couldn't get over the invasion of privacy, and it left him feeling violated. Harry shot up as a thought occurred to him. "Remus…the horcruxes…Snape must know about them and that I'm trying to destroy them."
Remus' eyes widened in alarm, "You're right Harry, he would've been able to sift through your thoughts. He would've known about your meetings with the headmaster."
"But it just doesn't make sense. Why isn't Voldemort hunting me down? If Snape told him about what Dumbledore and I are doing I would expect that Voldemort would be hunting me down with everything he has. It would force him to step up what he is doing. Especially if he can't create new ones."
Remus considered Harry's words and took a moment before answering. "Well, I think it's safe to say that you are being hunted. Though, I agree that it doesn't seem like he's pulling out all the stops to get you. It could be that he simply needs to move the Horcruxes to safer locations."
"I wonder if he even knows were they all are," Harry stated. "It's pretty obvious from the locket that Dumbledore and I found that he hadn't checked on it since he had placed it there. It's going to be difficult enough to track them down without him actively protecting them and moving them around. I'm hoping that he doesn't trust anyone and hasn't let them know about his key to immortality."
"That seems like a reasonable assumption, from what we know about Voldemort. So we are agreed that he wouldn't trust any of his Death Eaters with moving, or handling his horcruxes. Given that I think you are right that he would have stepped up his attacks if he knew you were after the horcruxes. At the very least he would've started attacking those close to you, primarily Ron and Hermione. It's well known that the three of you share secrets."
Harry slumped back into his chair as these words hit home. Noticing Harry's distress he gently prodded the young man in front of him, "Harry you can't assume that your friends are in trouble because of you. Everyone has a choice in what they do with their life. Tom Riddle's choice was that of violence and hatred. That hatred in turn is countered by those who are willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of what is good. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna showed that they were all willing to make that sacrifice when they chose to follow you to the Department of Mysteries. Ron and Hermione don't just follow you because they love you. They also follow you because you are fighting an evil that they wish to oppose. You can't, or shouldn't, take that away from them. Everyone has the right to determine for themselves what they want their lives to stand for."
"I just want them to be safe," Harry whispered quietly.
Remus laughed outright at this pronouncement, "Well, now you know how we have felt about you these last couple years. Just remember that you can't keep everyone safe and that you need to respect everyone's choices."
Harry sat forward once more in his chair as he mulled Remus' words. "I hate the thought of them being targeted because they are my friends. What you say makes sense; it's just hard to accept. And Ginny," he paused as he grimaced, "I'm not even sure I want to know what she thinks of what I did."
"Well, I'm sure you'll find out soon enough. Now, let's get back to the matter at hand; Snape. I think we need to consider the possibility that he has not told Voldemort about what you and Dumbledore have been doing. I have problems trying to understand how he could've killed Dumbledore, and yet not have told Voldemort about the horcruxes. But, that is what we are left with, which means we must be missing a big part of the picture."
"I never did understand why Dumbledore thought he could trust Snape," Harry muttered.
"Neither did I. For me it came down to whether I trusted Dumbledore. I'm at a loss as to what to think now. Let's put this aside for now. Can you please turn off the confessor charm and we can move on to other issues."
Harry pulled out his wand and quickly performed the finite incantatum. "How about we take a break from all these weighty issues and go shopping. It seems that you are in need of a new wardrobe and I guess I could use some new clothes as well. Why don't we head off now and we can continue with some meditation and general training tonight. If you don't mind I'll have Tonks meet us for supper in muggle London." When Harry quickly agreed Remus sent a patronus message to Tonks.
"You're going to have to teach me how to do that. Send messages that is," Harry commented when he saw Remus' questioning look.
"Oh, that should be a simple matter. I figure that we can start doing spell work in the morning. Why don't you take a moment to write Ron and Hermione and see if they can't come over in the morning? I might as well go over the information with the three of you."
Harry dashed off two quick notes and sent them off with Hedwig. Remus had Harry follow his apparition trail into the heart of London. They then spent the afternoon moving from one shop to the next. By the end of the experience Harry had discarded the clothes he had been wearing and was comfortably attired in muggle clothes that actually fit him. Remus had used the occasion to teach Harry how to shrink, as well as lighten, his bags of new clothes. Given the fact that he had bought everything from trainers to muggle suits meant that Harry had ample opportunity to practice these new spells. To outward appearances the two men were each carrying one small bag. The fact that each bag contained many other smaller bags was lost on all the muggles that they were shopping with.
"You know, it's kinda nice having new clothes. Clothes that I can call my own. The thought that I won't have to ever wear Dudley's old junk is so liberating."
"I'm glad you like the new clothes Harry. I just wish we had taken the time to do this sooner." Remus looked up and down the street and proceeded to pull Harry to the opposite side, narrowly avoiding the heavy traffic. "We are only a couple of blocks away from where I asked Tonks to meet us. We should hurry though; we're running a little behind." With that Remus set a brisk pace that Harry was hard pressed to match without breaking out into a jog. In short order they arrived in front of a restaurant with a lighthouse picture below the name of 'El Faro'. Harry was peering into the restaurant when out of the corner of his eye he caught the sight of a lithe form brush up against Remus.
"Well hi there," said teasing female voice. "I'm supposed to be meeting my boyfriend here but I'm willing to forget about him in order to spend the evening with two dashing men like you."
The woman, who was brazenly putting her arms around Remus, turned and gave a Harry a saucy wink. "I'm sure you're boyfriend would not appreciate you cozying up two strange men," Remus responded with a smile. "Now Tonks, would you mind changing into someone we all recognize and love. I think you just shocked Harry. The poor lad is not used to strange women hitting on him."
"Remus?" Tonks exclaimed in shock. "It can't be you. My boyfriend wears the dourest clothes imaginable. He's the academic type that hasn't shopped for new clothes in decades."
"Enough Woman! I'm not sure if I should be pleased or insulted by your comments. Harry and I took advantage of the afternoon and purchased some much needed clothing. I'm glad you appreciate the results. Now let's eat."
With that the three of them proceeded into the restaurant where Remus introduced them both to the joys of Spanish food. Toward the end of the meal it suddenly dawned on Harry that this was the life for which he was fighting. Now that he had enjoyed the simple joy of dinner with friends he knew that that he wanted to repeat the experience when there was no worries of war and fighting.
As the three of them exited the restaurant Tonks sighed and stretched, "That was a fabulous meal. We'll have to do that again sometime. It's amazing to think that more wizards don't venture out into muggle London when there are such treats to be had. And you two," she exclaimed, "look fabulous in your new clothes. I can't wait to tell Ginny what a dish you are in regular clothes. A little on the thin side maybe, but definitely delicious." At Harry's embarrassed stammering she smiled and kissed him on the cheek. As she pulled away she whispered, "Thanks for making him get some new clothes, Saint. I owe you one." She continued in a louder voice, "Well I'll see you two tomorrow at the Order meeting." She gave Remus a more passionate kiss before she apparated away.
Remus stood idly on the curb gazing down the street. "You OK, Remus? She didn't break you did she?" Harry asked.
"What?" Remus turned once again becoming aware of his surroundings. Seeing Harry's impudent grin he reached out and tussled Harry's already disheveled hair. "Shut it," Remus replied affectionately. "Considering the state of your affairs you are in no position to mock me."
"Don't remind me," Harry groaned.
Throwing an arm around Harry's shoulder Remus replied, "Come now, let's get back and see what we can do with your meditation." With that the two stepped into a side alley and apparated to the back yard of the Dursley's house.
His uncle's boisterous voice could be heard clearly in the backyard, "I can't allow this to continue Petunia. It seems that each time I go into the living room there is a different freak sitting there."
Harry cast an amused glance at Remus, "Looks like we have a visitor. I better go deal with Vernon before he collapses in a heap." Harry smoothed out his new clothes, and then pushed the back door open, and strode purposely into the kitchen. At his appearance his relatives fell silent and regarded him with open surprise showing on their faces.
"You disgusting little thief," his uncle snarled as he looked Harry over. Pointing at Harry's new clothes with one of pudgy fingers he continued his tirade, "Where did you get these clothes? Used your unnaturalness to steal from us honest folks, did you?" With each pronouncement Uncle Vernon's face took on a deeper shade of red. "Well, it ends..", realizing his uncle was only building up steam Harry quickly cut him off by stepping into his face and pushing his uncle back into his seat.
Placing on hand on each of the armrests Harry leaned in until his face was a scant couple of inches away from his shocked uncle. "Like my clothes do you? Well we figured it was about time that I had something decent of my own. So Remus took me shopping, and I now have a complete new wardrobe. Where did I get the money?" Harry whispered with quiet menace. "Well, my wastrel, no good, layabout father left me enough money to buy you over a thousand times over and not even notice the loss. When I leave here I want you to remember, and understand, that if you had cared for me in even smallest of ways you might have been able to enjoy some of my good fortune." With that Harry straightened up and walked away, "Now you'll excuse me. I believe you implied that I have guests waiting for me."
The sight that greeted him as he entered the living room caught him by surprise. Professor McGonagall was sitting in his uncle's favorite chair, sipping tea. She had an open book laying on the stand next to her chair, a testament to her long wait. "Professor," Harry exclaimed.
"Mr. Potter, I hope that things went well with your family," she spoke in her usual clipped tones. It was only the years of experience dealing with his head of house that allowed him to notice her distaste when she spoke of his family.
"Oh fine, ma'am," Harry answered automatically. "Things are much better now that I can perform magic. I don't think I can cure my uncle from being a git, but at least I can now prevent him from acting on his instincts."
Professor McGonagall pursed her lips even tighter at this pronouncement. "I'm sorry that you grew up here. While, I understand Albus' reasons I never agreed with them. I daresay that the only thing he was afraid about when it came to his death was having to face your mother."
Harry smiled at his professor, surprised by her light banter. "Professor this is a pleasant surprise, is there something that I could help you with?" As he said this both he and Remus settled themselves into the remaining chairs.
"Well, I spoke with Arthur earlier. He asked me to pass along the message that Moody would be around in the morning. He's going to bring Bill Ferny around to meet you Harry. Ferny is someone that can work on headquarters for us."
"That sounds great professor, but that isn't what you came here for, is it?"
"Indeed not. I have several issues to discuss with you. The first being that the school will reopen next year. The school board met this morning and decided that it was more important than ever that the school remain open."
"Minerva, that is great news," Remus enthused. "We never closed the war during my school days and I think it would've been a mistake to do that now."
Looking back at Harry she asked, "Will you be attending Harry?"
Harry looked at the ground and sighed, "No, professor. I won't be returning."
"I can't say that I'm surprised. Know that you will always have my support and that Hogwarts doors are open to you. Will Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley be accompanying you?"
"Yes, they will be coming with me. Your support means a lot to me. Thank you."
Professor McGonagall nodded at his simple thanks. "I should be vexed at you for taking away Gryffindor's best. We'll be hard pressed to win the cup this year without you and Ron on the pitch. Not to mention the loss of Hermione's academic points. But then I also need to remind myself that I am no longer the Head of House for Gryffindor," she smiled as she said this. "I do want you to remember one thing as you go about this task of yours. Do not forget that all of us are resources for you to use. From Hagrid to Madam Pomfrey, all of us are will do what is necessary to help you."
At these words Harry felt an up surge of conflicting emotions; a hearting warming realization of goodwill and support that she spoke of, and a profound sense of loss in realizing that his time at Hogwarts was indeed at an end. Not trusting himself to speak, Harry nodded to the headmistress.
"I also have some items that I would like to give you." With this Professor McGonagall got up from her chair and pulled a non-descript bag from behind the chair that she was sitting on. Settling herself again she glanced at Remus and asked, "If you don't mind Remus, would you please get them out of bag?"
Remus looked at the bag in puzzlement, "Is this what I think it is?" When he saw the headmistress nod he smiled at Harry. With a dramatic flair he pushed up his sleeves, and intoned in a theatrical voice, "Notice, if you please, that I have nothing up my sleeves. Now if you please notice the size of this bag I will endeavor surprise and delight you by pulling out something that could not possibly fit inside."
"Oh honestly Remus, just get the items out of the bag," Professor McGonagall said in a huff. Turning to Harry she went on, "Albus always thought young Mr. Lupin to be the least troublesome of the Marauders. Made him a perfect he was so convinced of Remus' upstanding character. Little did Albus realize that young Mr. Lupin, was the one who would always add the finishing touches to all of the Marauders pranks. He was the one that added the element of elegance to their games. Sirius could be counted on for outrageous ideas, and your father was the source of brashness. Together they were just terrible."
"You wound me," Remus said in mock hurt voice. "But how did you know this?"
"I had my ways of keeping track of you. Though the marauders surprised me more times than not." Pointing at the bag she exhorted Remus back to his task, "The bag Remus!"
"Oh right, sorry."
Remus smiled sheepishly at Harry and then opened the bag and reached in. Harry's eyebrows went up in surprise as he watched Remus sink his arms up to his elbows in the bag. "Cool bag Professor," Harry commented to Professor McGonagall. With a grunt, Remus pulled a large box out of the bag. With a flick of her wrist Professor McGonagall conjured a table on which Remus set the box.
"There is one more item Remus, if you would please get that one also," Professor McGonagall said. This time Remus dove into the bag without the theatrics and quickly pulled out a second item. Harry immediately recognized the item as Professor Dumbledore's pensive. "There is also a book that is in the bag." Once all the items where on the laid out on the table the professor continued, "As you know, Harry, this is Dumbledore's pensive. We've been going through his estate and following his instructions. He wanted you to have his pensive. The book will guide you on how best to use it. As for the box, I'm not sure what is in it, though I can hazard a guess. If it is what I think you will find it to be much more valuable than the pensive itself. The box, on its own, is extremely valuable as it is layered with many protective spells that make the destruction of it near impossible. The box has been keyed to you. Undoubtedly, Professor Dumbledore obtained some of your blood during one of your many stays with Madam Pomfrey. You simply need to place your thumb on the latch and the box will open."
Harry contemplated box and thought about the headmaster. A vision of Dumbledore falling from the tower, flashed before his eyes. Tears threatened to spill from his eyes. Closing his eyes he took a deep breath and concentrated on his meditation techniques. When he felt a little more in command of his emotions he opened his eyes and looked apologetically at Remus and Professor McGonagall. Then he reached out and carefully placed his thumb on the box's latch. With an audible click the box opened. Harry noticed that it opened more like a book than a traditional box. As he pulled the box all the way open a letter and small pamphlet fell out. The cover of the pamphlet read: Index of Memories. Realization dawned on Harry and he took a closer look at the contents of the box. He saw that the contents, or sheets, where all arranged on a spindle, and that the spindle had a small handle that allowed for it to be turned. As he turned the spindle a new sheet appeared on the left side, while one disappeared on the right side. Looking more carefully at a sheet he could see small slits cut into the sheet. To his eye it seemed as if the slits where arranged like small drawers, as they were evenly spaced and had small labels beneath each slit. Harry randomly reached into one of the slits and felt a small cylindrical object. He carefully pulled it out. When it came into view he heard dual gasps and he realized that what he was holding a memory that could only belong to Professor Dumbledore. Looking more closely at the small jar he was able to read the label, "Conjuring – Inanimate Objects". Carefully placing the container back into its place he started turning the spindle. Sheet after sheet appeared, each containing more memories. "There has to be hundreds of his memories here," he muttered in an awed whisper.
"That is a precious gift Harry," Remus stated. Looking up at Remus he saw an almost reverent look on his face.
Professor McGonagall on the other hand had a small smile, and she nodded at Harry. "I'm sure you will find those memories invaluable. Why don't you take a look at the letter?"
Harry picked up the letter and turned it over. His name was written in a spidery scrawl that Harry recognized as the headmaster's. Opening the envelope he pulled out the letter.
There is so much to share with you and so little time. I have tried to buy you some time by putting together this collection of memories. They will help you learn the skills that you need to have in order to succeed. Originally, I was planning on giving you this gift at the beginning of your seventh year. It was my plan to guide you through the memories and train you personally in these skills. That was not meant to be. These memories have been constructed in a different manner than those that I have shared with you previously. Most of the memories are lessons that I've had, or have given, regarding various topics. In addition to that the memories include examples of how I used the skill in question. This second part will help you internalize the lesson more quickly.
I am sorry that I am not there to guide you through this process. If you encounter questions do not forget that there are many who will help you. You are not alone; do not push people away out of a desire to protect them. Your strength comes from your unwavering heart and your connections to the people around you.
Lastly, know that you are more than sufficient for this task. Do not let doubt cloud you, or let others say you from your path. Trust your instincts and let your heart be your guide.
Yours, in perpetuity,
"Thank you for bringing this to me Professor McGonagall. I'm a little overwhelmed by what he has given me."
"Guard it well. The value of that gift is beyond measure. Yet there is no one more deserving of this than you are." As she said this Professor McGonagall reached behind her neck and unfastened her necklace. Pulling it out from under her clothes she held it up for Harry and Remus to see. "This was given to me by my grandfather when I was a little younger than you Harry. It is a necklace of my clan. The necklace was something that was commonly given to hotheads who had a tendency to let their emotions get the better of themselves." At this she smiled reminiscently at the necklace. "Well, to make a long story short, I used to be one such hothead. My grandfather gave me this necklace in hopes of teaching me how to curb my impetuousness. The pendant has a charm that, when clasped, helps one think more clearly. It will help you set aside your emotions during times of difficulty. I want you to have this Harry." With that she stood and crossed the room and placed the necklace around his neck.
"Professor, no, I can't accept this. It should stay with your family, your clan."
"Nonsense, my son and daughter are long grown and moved on with their lives. It will give me much comfort to know that you're wearing it. Go ahead, clasp it."
At her request Harry held the pendant in his hand. Immediately a sense of calm stole over him. Closing his eyes he had a sense that he was sitting in a quiet glade that had a stream running through it. Only the sure knowledge that he was still sitting in his uncle's den prevented the illusion from being complete. A small smile played along his face, "This is wonderful." Opening his eyes he looked up at Professor McGonagall. "Thank you."
"You are quiet welcome Harry. It's getting late, so I will leave you now. I'll see you soon at the next Order meeting. Take care." With that she quickly gathered her things and took her leave.
"Why don't we clean up and settle in for the night. We have much to do tomorrow," Remus said.
Before climbing into bed, Harry went through the meditative process. As the sense of peacefulness permeated him he had an odd glow blue glow that appeared in his mind's eye. Snapping his eyes open, the glow disappeared. When closed his eyes again the glow was still missing. Shaking his head, he settled once more into a meditative state. After a moment the glow reappeared, only this time he was able to distinguish more than one different glow. When he opened his eyes again the glow was again missing from his room. At this point he decided that he had had enough and climbed into bed.
AN: Thanks to those that have taken the time to review the story to this point. Each one is very much appreciated. If you will take the time to write a review I will take the time to respond. The only catch is for those anonymous reviewers who do not leave an email addy.
I had a couple quibbles from the last chapter. One that Harry wouldn't give access to so many people. To this reviewer I will say that I think you have been reading too many fan fics. Canon Harry would trust these people with his life. Another quibble is Harry calling Remus uncle. That was more a moment of teasing/sarcasm. Maybe I didn't do a good enough job getting that across. Yes the two are becoming close friends and Harry was just playing on the fact that Remus took him to get some ice cream. shrugg As for Arthur Weasley being the head of the Order...no I don't think that will happen in book seven. But I think he gets sold short in some fics. I like his character and the integrity that he exudes. Hopefully in the coming chapters I can convince you that he is a worthy choice. Lastly, the next chapter will have more action. Yes there has been a lot of plot set up/development. Things will move a little more quickly now.
Thanks for reading. Please take the time to review!