Chapter Fifteen – Scars
Ted and Andromeda Tonks stood in the hospital wing at Hogwarts as they watched Harry sleep peacefully thanks to the dreamless sleep potion that Madam Pomfrey had given him. On the bed next to Harry, Hermione was sleeping under the effects of the same potion, while a few more beds down, Professor Sprout sat restlessly, wanting noting more than to go about her business.
"Please, I've suffered much worse from some of my plants," the head of Hufflepuff grumbled when the resident healer had forced her into one of the beds. "It'll take more than a couple of bludgeoning spells to do me in."
However, that had been hours ago. Since then, she had tried to sneak out of the hospital wing three times before Madam Pomfrey had had enough and secured her to the bed with a sticking spell.
"It's not fair, is it?" Andromeda asked. "He's grown up having such a difficult life… Things were just getting better for him, and now this happens."
"I'm sure he'll be fine," Ted said, and he gave her a quick kiss on the top of her head. "Harry… He's a tough one. He survived years with those monsters, not to mention two encounters with You-Know-Who. He'll get through this. And we'll help him when he needs it."
"I still can't believe he really is still out there," Andromeda said as she turned and walked over to a chair to sit down in with her husband following her. "I know Albus told us he believed that he was still out there when we took Harry in, but… Well, you know how eccentric Albus can be at times. I just thought it was him preparing for the worst because he's dealt with two different dark wizards in his time. But to find out the he really is out there."
"You aren't having second thoughts about letting Harry into our lives, are you?" Ted asked with a questioning look at his wife.
"What?" Andromeda asked, very surprised that he would suspect her of thinking such a thing. However, thinking back to how she had just said what she did, she could understand it. "Of course not. I would still take Harry in if he had shown up on our doorstep with the devil literally nipping at his heals. But you have to admit, that it does change things."
"That it does," said Ted. "And if I were to guess right, I'm sure that You-Know-Who will hold an even bigger grudge against Harry since he tricked him into thinking he had escaped."
Andromeda chuckled at the thought of what had happened. After Quirrellmort, as Professor Sprout had taken to calling the possessed professor, had escaped only to be eaten by a three headed dog, she and Professor McGonagall were worried beyond belief over Harry's sudden disappearance, only to be even more shocked when Harry and Hermione suddenly reappeared when he removed the invisibility cloak. She wasn't sure how he had managed to sneak that cloak to school since she had checked his trunk before returning from the Christmas holidays, but she did have her suspicions. And if she was right, she would very much need to thank her daughter for it, because if she hadn't…
A shiver ran down Andromeda's spine as she thought of what could have happened to the two first years had he not had the cloak on him.
Madam Pomfrey came out of her office and walked over to Harry, where she then proceeded to wave her wand over him and check his vitals.
"How is he?" Andromeda asked.
"Physically, he's fine," Madam Pomfrey said. "Emotionally and psychologically… I honestly cannot say. The both of them went through a very traumatic experience. First seeing one of their teachers and head of house attacked. Then another teacher killed."
The healer indicated to the farthest bed in the hospital wing, where the body of Severus Snape lay under a sheet and surrounded by a stasis charm to preserve the body.
"Held hostage and their lives threatened," Madam Pomfrey continued. "Then the duel between him and Professors Sprout and McGonagall."
"Bastard will think twice before messing with me or any of my 'Puff's again," they heard Professor Sprout mumble from her bed.
"Like I said, it was emotionally and psychologically taxing on them," Madam Pomfrey said.
Albus Dumbledore stood in the remains of his office, surveying the damage that had been done during the duel between the possessed Quirrell and two members of his staff.
All of the windows had shattered and broken. Books had been blasted off the shelves, some of them damaged beyond repair, even with the aid of magic. The telescope he had spent nearly two years designing and putting together was broken and partially melted. Not to mention the various little trinkets he had collected in his hundred plus years of living being destroyed. It would take one of the Hogwarts house elves the better part of an hour to clean everything up.
Yet all the destruction of his office paled in comparison to the biggest tragedy. He had failed to keep Harry safe.
For the better part of the school year, the spirit of Voldemort had been residing within the very halls of his beloved school. Every week, Harry had been in the same room with the man who had murdered his parents and attempted to kill him as a baby. Every day he saw the man while he had been possessed, and not once did he detect that anything was amiss.
Then there was the death of Severus. It saddened the aged wizard when Minerva had informed him of what had taken place and how Snape had been willing to rejoin his former master. His betrayal brought into light some of his suspect actions during his time as a Hogwarts professor, such as his strict demand that all N.E.W.T. level students received an Outstanding on their O.W.L.'s in potions in order to take his class. That prerequisite limited the number of students able to take the class and diminished the number of those able to go onto careers as healers or aurors. It made him wonder if perhaps that had been his goal the entire time, and that his desire for redemption had been a ruse conceived by Voldemort back during the war. Granted, he had shown desire for the position of the Defense Against the Dark Arts job year after year, and yet remained teaching potions with each rejection. Snape was under no obligation to remain at Hogwarts and could have easily acquired the job he wanted at a school such as Durmstrang.
It was all too much for the Headmaster to take in at the moment and decided to push it aside for the time being.
"Knut for your thoughts?"
Dumbledore turned and saw Professor McGonagall standing near the door to his office, the only thing to go unscathed from the conflict, as even the majority of the portraits of former headmasters and headmistresses had been damaged and would take a master in wizarding portrait restoration to fix.
"I was just thinking how Voldemort could have been here without me knowing it," Dumbledore said. "In all of the conversations that I had with Quirrell did I ever get the inkling that he was possessed by him."
"You cannot blame yourself for that," Professor McGonagall said. "He fooled all of us, what with him acting nearly frightened all the time. It caused all of us to lower our guards around him."
"Exactly my point," Dumbledore said. "For years I had been saying that I do not believe Voldemort to truly be gone. For years I had been watching for any sign of activity from him. I was so focused on the outside, I never bothered to look for any threats from within."
"This is more about Severus, isn't it?" Professor McGonagall asked.
Dumbledore sighed as he pulled off his half-moon spectacles and rubbed the bridge of his crooked nose before putting them back on.
"Have I ever told you about my childhood?" Dumbledore asked.
Professor McGonagall was a little surprised by this sudden change in topic.
"Not to my recollection, no," she answered.
"My father didn't care much for muggles," Dumbledore said as he stared off into nothing. "When I was ten, my sister Ariana was six. She was outside playing when she had her first moment of accidental magic. A group of muggle boys saw her do this. They made fun of her, calling her a freak and a witch and that our mother had lain with the devil. When she tried to run, they attacked her. She was never the same after that. When my father found out, he went after the boys and ended up in Azkaban for using all three of the unforgivables on them. I saw it all happen… The first he used the Imperius curse on and made him slit his own throat while his friends watched in horror. The second he used the cruciatus curse, torturing him until his body seized so hard, his spine snapped. The last boy, he just stared at him for what felt like hours before he used the killing curse, ending him life instantly… I had grown up in a magical home, but that was the first time that I truly saw how powerful magic could be. That with a simple flick, a life could be saved or ended. The Greeks had tales of demigods that walked the Earth. The bastard children of the gods of Olympus… And while those gods did not exist, little did they know that those with what can be considered the powers of a god walked amongst them.
"When I started coming to Hogwarts and learned to control my magic, I vowed that I would make changes in the world. Both muggle and magical were too reckless to be allowed to thrive unchecked. Both sides needed order to the chaos they caused. I was going to be the one to do it. And yes, you could say that my ambitions were the same as any dark witch or wizard that had come before me, and I will now agree with you on that… But back then, I didn't see it that way. I thought what I wanted to do was for the right reasons and that all would see that and agree with me. And then in my seventh year, I met Gellert."
Professor McGonagall gasped at this.
"You mean, you knew Grindelwald before…" she started to ask.
"Before he tried to rule the world?" Dumbledore finished for her. "I did… When we first met, we had the same goals in mind. It allowed for us to form a quick friendship. During all of our free time, we would sit and plan how we would do it. How we would capture control of the Ministry and start our change here. And then from there, how we would spread our message and new order around the world."
"Something happened to change all that," Professor McGonagall said after Dumbledore went silent for nearly a minute. "The man you are today is nothing like the child you are describing."
"The loss of innocence happened," Dumbledore said. "Not long after we finished our final year at Hogwarts, Gellert started to change. He was abandoning anything light and wanting to only use dark methods in his plans. Eventually, it got to be too much for me, and it led to us having an argument one night. Our raised voices started to frighten my sister, and so Aberforth got involved. From there, it just escalated until our wands were drawn and spells were fired. To this day, I still do not know whose spell did it, but one of them struck Ariana and killed her. Aberforth and I tried to bring her back while Gellert ran away, but it was of no use… A few days later at her funeral, Aberforth and I got into another argument. He blamed me for her death, and rightfully so. It was the choices I made that led to that moment. My desire to fix what I saw as a broken world. My friendship with Gellert Grindelwald… That's when he punched me and broke my nose. I could have easily fixed it, but I didn't want to. It was a reminder for me of my sins that I see every time I look in the mirror.
"Anyways, after that day, I vowed to change my ways and not only be a follower of the light, but also to really try and change the world for the better. Not by forcing people to believe what I believe, but by showing them of what could be and letting them make the decision of right or wrong. It is the reason when I became Headmaster, I hired Hagrid not long after he had been expelled. It is the reason why I made arrangements to allow Remus Lupin to attend school here. It is the reason I have stretched myself so thin over the years as being Headmaster for this school, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards… And it is why Severus' betrayal wounds me the most of what happened recently. Even after the things he had done while following Voldemort, I wanted to believe that he seeked redemption just as I once had."
Professor McGonagall didn't know what to say after hearing all of that. She had known the man going back to when she first came to Hogwarts as a student during her first year, which was also his first year as a teacher. Never once in all that time, did he ever give even the slightest hint that he had a past where he had been slipping towards the dark. But as she thought about it, it made some sense. He had slowly slipped into the dark arts and crawled his way out of it when it cost him something dearly. It was why he spent so much time fighting against those that willfully practiced the dark arts. It had also explained his famous duel with Grindelwald.
It had been a battle of the ages between them. A duel that books today were still writing about.
At some point during the second world war, Grindelwald had joined the muggle named Hitler and was placed in charge of a special branch of the S.S., which had been tasked with finding magical ways to win the war. As the war came to an end, and word of some of the atrocities Grindelwald committed, Dumbledore could no longer sit back and let someone else deal with the problem she now believed he felt responsible for causing.
They met in the streets of Berlin one night. Face to face for the first time since the night Dumbledore's sister had been killed. No words were needed, nor spoken between the old former friends. Their wands were a blur of motion as they cast spell after spell at each other. The night sky lit up around them, and in the distance, the allied and axis forces could be heard fighting their own war.
In the end, Dumbledore had managed to disarm Grindelwald and stood over him with his wand pointed right at his head. One simple spell is all it would take to end the man once and for all. And yet, Dumbledore could not do it. Not because he had once been very close with the man, but because he refused to slip back into the darkness that once gripped him so tightly as a youth.
"I think it is time for me to retire," Dumbledore said.
"I understand," Professor McGonagall responded. "It is quite late."
"No," said Dumbledore. "I mean from my position as Headmaster."
"What?" asked the surprised and shocked woman. "Why?"
"I just feel that it is time," Dumbledore said. "I've been Headmaster of this school for nearly fifty years, and a professor for closer to eighty years. And with all of my responsibilities, I find myself stretched too thin, like too little butter scraped over too much bread. One of my duties must be given up, and Hogwarts is the only one that I know I can leave in safe and proper hands."
"So that's it?" asked Professor McGonagall. "You're just going to up and leave?"
"Of course not," Dumbledore said. "I will finish out this year and announce my leaving at the end of year feast… Though, I dare say, I would not be surprised that if by lunch tomorrow, the entire school doesn't know of my plans, as it is near impossible to keep a secret like this in these halls."
Just then, one of the school house elves popped into the remains of the office and let out a surprised gasp at the mess.
"Twiggle," Dumbledore said.
"Headmaster, you make a mess of your office," Twiggle said as he looked around.
Dumbledore glanced at Professor McGonagall.
"I hadn't had the time to inform the house elves yet," she said, and then turned to the magical being. "It's partially my fault."
"Twiggle can have it cleaned," Twiggle said. "But first, Headmaster has a visitor waiting at the front gate."
"Who could be trying to visit at this time of night?" Professor McGonagall asked.
Ten minutes later, Narcissa Malfoy was being led up towards the castle by another house elf, which she occasionally glared. She was feeling very annoyed that Dumbledore had sent such a creature to escort her. Didn't he know who she was? She was the Matron of the Malfoy family and daughter of the House of Black.
"Mrs. Malfoy," Dumbledore said as he met her in the entrance hall. "What brings you here at this time of night?"
"My son," she said curtly.
"I was not informed something was wrong with young Mr. Malfoy," Dumbledore said. "However, today has been a very busy day for me, what with the events at the Ministry."
"That is exactly the reason I am here," she said. "My husband and I feel that this country is no longer safe when someone attempts to murder the Minister in front of everyone in the Ministry and makes claims about some dark lord."
"I see," Dumbledore said as he subtly tried to probe her mind using Legilimency, only to find that she had her mental shields up. "Well, I believe that this was only an isolated event, and not the sign of something bigger working in the shadows. I do not think there is any reason to pull Draco from…"
"Save your words," Narcissa said. "My husband and I have made up our minds on this. Our home is mostly packed and arrangements have already been made for Draco to attend school at Durmstrang."
"Very well," Dumbledore said after a moment of silence. "I shall have your son informed at once."
Narcissa gave him only a brief nod before Dumbledore summoned one of the elves to tell Professor Sinistra, the temporary head of Slytherin house about what was happening.
"Sinistra?" Narcissa asked. "What happened to Severus?"
"I am sorry to be the one to inform you that there was an accident earlier today," Dumbledore said. "Professor Snape fell from one of the towers."
Narcissa paled slightly when she heard that. The Malfoy family had been close with Snape when he had been named Draco's godfather. And even after the fall of the Dark Lord, they remained close while others went their separate ways, occasionally having him over for dinner during the summer.
The two were silent as they waited, and after what seemed like a long while, Professor Sinistra came up from the stairs leading down to the dungeons along with Draco.
"Mother?" the young boy said, obviously confused. "Why are you here? Is father okay?"
"He's fine," Narcissa said. "I've come to bring you home."
"Because of what happened to Professor Snape?" Draco asked. "I bet Potter had something to do with it after what happened."
"No," said Narcissa. "Your father and I have decided to leave the country. Where are your things?"
"In my dorm," said Draco.
Narcissa nodded and turned to Dumbledore.
"I do not have time to wait around," she said. "Please have one of the school house elves deliver them to our home before noon tomorrow, as that is when we are scheduled to leave."
"Of course," Dumbledore said.
The mother and son left through the open door, and Dumbledore could briefly hear Narcissa asked what Draco had meant by his comment blaming Harry for what happened to Snape.
A/N: Wow, I honestly didn't think I would have this chapter done so quickly. But then the idea of Dumbledore's story came to me, and I just couldn't stop writing. Oh, if only it was always that simple.
Anyways, there have been a few questions that have popped up in reviews after the last chapter, so I thought I would answer them here.
Is Fluffy immortal now that he ate the stone?
Interesting idea, but no. Honestly, that never occurred to me when I wrote the ending to the chapter. The idea of Quirrellmort supposedly getting away, only to be ripped to shreds by the three headed dog seemed funny to me, so I put it in the story. But to satisfy everyone's curiosity, lets say that while Fluffy digests the bits of the stone he swallowed, his pee is the Elixir of Life and his poop is gold… And yes, I know I am a sick and weird person. I like to think of it as part of my charm. :)
Was the voice Harry heard Fawkes?
Nope. I can't tell you who it is either. All I will say is the voice will be heard a few more times over the course of the story and the identity of the voice will be revealed when Harry and Voldemort have their final confrontation. In fact, I already have written that chapter, and I know that when I post it, a lot of you are going to be in for a surprise.
So, those are the two questions that have popped up a lot since I posted the last chapter. As last time, no idea when the next chapter will be up. It all depends on time and how cooperative my muse is. So, till next time…