Beta read by: Jessi_Rose and Wiccan
Chapter Graphic: sauerkraut_poet
Title: In Memoriam
Rating/Warnings: 15+ (Mild Violence, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme)
For the Staff: An enormous thanks to jessi_rose and Wiccan for their
time and encouragement with Beta reading, to sauerkraut_poet for
the amazing graphic, to Dobby101 and Elf_ears13 for including me in
this project, and of course, the HPFF staff, who work tirelessly to make
magical things happen everyday. As Dumbledore is to Harry, all you
staff members are to us; patient and wise mentors, helping us learn,
grow and better ourselves each day. I tip my lime green bowler hat to
A/N: Please note that the opening three lines of this story are a direct quote from JKR’s “Half-Blood Prince,” pp. 595-596, U.S. edition.
Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face. “Severus...please...”
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore.
In that instant, time seemed to slow. Through his half-moon spectacles, Dumbledore watched Snape’s sneering lips form each syllable of the last words he would ever hear. He stared unblinkingly as the end of the wand before him ignited in a brilliant flash of green light. As if gazing into his Pensieve, memories flooded Dumbledore’s mind. He remembered another night on the rooftop of Hogwarts, over fifty years ago, when talk of murder echoed through the darkness...
Rain was pouring down. The hard stone beneath his feet had become as slick as ice. Yet, Dumbledore continued to run, his path illuminated only by brief flashes of lightning that streaked across the night sky. The drumming of the rain and the crashing of the thunder drowned out the sound of his pounding boots as he raced across the bridge suspended high above the rest of the castle.
A faint noise behind him made Dumbledore spin round. He tried to make out shapes in the darkness and blinding rain, but he saw nothing. He turned back and continued running.
His wand in hand, the end of his rain-soaked robes trailing behind him, Dumbledore made his way across the rooftop bridge that connected the West Tower with an unused section of the North Wing. On either side of him, large marble gargoyles lined his path. Each had a menacing look upon its face and great stone wings emerging from its hunched back.
A brilliant fork of lightning momentarily shattered the darkness. Was it a shadow or had one of the gargoyles near the end of the bridge just moved? Dumbledore raised his wand.
A jet of green light went flying past Dumbledore, narrowly missing his right shoulder.
Reacting on instinct, Dumbledore pointed his wand in the direction from whence the spell had come, sending out a retaliatory stream of pulsing blue mist.
A shrill cry of frustration rang out from somewhere in the darkness, but it was quickly swallowed by a great crash of thunder.
“Grindelwald! Show yourself,” Dumbledore bellowed so as to be heard above the sounds of the storm.
The only reply was another flash of green light, which again whizzed passed Dumbledore without making contact.
“You shouldn’t have come here, Grindelwald. You cannot honestly believe I will allow you to harm this place or anyone who resides here.” Though continuing to speak loudly, Dumbledore’s tone remained steady, unwavering.
“You’re a fool, Dumbledore!” a frantic voice called out. “How long do you think you can fight us off? You are but one stubborn, old man; we are hundreds and growing in number each day. It is only a matter of time before those with great, dark power, like myself, will rule over all. We are everywhere, Dumbledore, even inside your precious school. How do you think I got in here tonight?”
Dumbledore strained to tell from where exactly the voice was emanating, but the combined noise and darkness from the storm made it nearly impossible. He could have easily cast any number of spells to assist in the search, but he did not want to give his opponent any unintended advantage for attack. He might be the far superior wizard here, but Grindelwald was cornered and desperate, and Dumbledore was too wise to underestimate a desperate man.
“Perhaps you are right,” Dumbledore said, composure still etched in his voice. “I have been known to be stubborn and foolish at times, and I am certainly not as young as I once was.”
As he continued to speak, Dumbledore carefully calculated his next move, stepping cautiously behind the nearest gargoyle.
“But the same can be said of you, can it not? How long have we been fighting this same fight, Grindelwald?”
“The fight ends tonight, Dumbledore!”
And with that, three red jets of light came flying at Dumbledore. In the blinding flash, the silhouette of a tall man in long, billowing robes was momentarily illuminated against the night sky, only yards from where Dumbledore stood.
But Dumbledore had been ready for the attack. Without a word from the great wizard, the gargoyle beside him sprang up, expanding its massive wings and opening its great, fanged mouth to swallow the hurtling red lights. In an instant, the living statue exploded, propelling forth huge clouds of dust and rubble.
Grindelwald had been caught off guard, the force of the blast causing him to stumble backwards. In that moment of confusion, Dumbledore made his move.
All at once, Grindelwald was swept up off the ground as if by an invisible hand and thrown against another gargoyle, which immediately sprang to life and enclosed the stunned wizard within its stone wings.
Somehow Grindelwald had managed to maintain his grip on his wand. Fighting against his confines, he began shouting counter-curses, but the gargoyle would not loosen its grasp.
The trapped wizard’s wand flew suddenly from his hand and landed on the wet stone below him, well out of his reach. Infuriated, he clawed and kicked at the statue, a mix of rage and panic filling his voice and covering his face.
Dumbledore stepped in front of the gargoyle that held Grindelwald. The struggling man looked mad. His glassy eyes were wide with fury, his wet, black hair tangled and matted to his freshly bleeding face.
Catching sight of Dumbledore, Grindelwald stopped struggling. After a moment, he began to laugh uncontrollably. Between the sickening shrieks, he managed to speak.
“Going to kill me, Dumbledore? Commit murder on the roof of your precious Hogwarts? Ha!
Well, at least I have the satisfaction of knowing my death will haunt you everyday you walk through these halls.”
“You are wrong, Grindelwald.”
“Oh, yes. You see, I am not going to kill you.”
At this, Grindelwald stopped laughing. He stared at Dumbledore, who remained a formidable presence despite the fact that his robes were soaked through and rain was dripping from his long, auburn beard.
“No, I will let the Dementors do with you what they must. It will be a desperate day indeed when I so deplorably defile Hogwarts as to willingly participate in a murder on her rooftop.”
The jet of light that emanated from Snape’s wand crept ever closer to Dumbledore, slowly filling his line of vision until he could see nothing but the green glow before him. Again, his memories took hold. He was taken back to another time when bright, flashing lights overwhelmed his senses…
“Come on, Professor Dumbledore. Just one more.”
Upon hearing his name, Dumbledore turned around just in time to hear a loud click,
which was followed immediately by a brilliant burst of white light.
“Perfect,” said a portly wizard dressed in hideous tweed robes, a large camera slung around his fat neck. “That’ll make a great shot for the front page. Mind you, you’ll have to share it with the Minister if he gets any say. Never misses a photo opportunity, that one. A reporter will be along any minute, I expect. You know, to get a few quotes and all.”
Blinking repeatedly, Dumbledore struggled to get a good look at the man speaking rapidly to him; a man he assumed must be a photographer from the Daily Prophet.
But with the many colorful spots dancing in front of his eyes, the Headmaster was finding that focusing on anything at the moment was all but impossible. By the time his vision returned to normal, the photographer had already lumbered off, snapping pictures of the large, excited crowd that covered the Hogwarts grounds as he went.
The stern call emanated from a tall woman in emerald green robes, who at that moment came sweeping up beside Dumbledore. As it was everyday, the woman’s dark hair was pulled up into a bun that sat imperiously atop her head, and her thin mouth was stretched into a tight scowl…all of which combined to gave her the look of an aged bird, though she was still quite young.
“Professor McGonagall,” replied Dumbledore cheerfully. “What can I do for you?”
“Headmaster, I am convinced this was not at all a good idea. Reporters and Ministry officials swarming around. And the students!” Her voice rose with indignation. “Well, I must admit, I have never seen such blatant disregard for the rules. You think they would have a bit more self-control, considering the occasion.”
Dumbledore could not help but smile. One could hardly blame the students for acting out. It was, after all, a beautiful spring afternoon. While they were outside, classes canceled for the day, it was not hard to imagine how difficult it must be to sit still when the shade of the trees on the edge of the Great Lake called out to be laid under and enjoyed.
“Ah, yes, Professor McGonagall. Well, I have complete faith in your ability to keep them all under control. And I am sure that my impending speech will be so dry as to surely put them all to sleep soon enough.”
Clearly not satisfied with his reply but recognizing the fruitlessness of arguing, Minerva McGonagall nodded curtly and walked off, a misbehaving student immediately catching her eye.
“Cornelius, sit down this instant!” she barked. “And take that ridiculous hat off your head.”
Smiling still, Dumbledore took a moment to appreciate the scene around him. Long lines of white chairs covered the lawns that sat directly outside the main entrance to the castle. In the first few rows sat the proverbial “Who’s Who” of the wizarding community. Dozens of Ministry officials had turned up for the day’s events. Even a few high-ranking wizards from other countries were in attendance. Behind this illustrious group sat the students of Hogwarts, all of who were dressed in matching robes save for the small emblems that identified each with their respective house. Stroking his long, graying beard, Dumbledore supposed Minerva had a point. The students were starting to get restless, their behavior earning repeated glances from several flustered Ministry members. But before he had an opportunity to intervene, Dumbledore felt a great hand upon his shoulder.
“Excuse me, Headmaster, sir,” bellowed a deep voice. “They are just about ready for you.”
Dumbledore turned to face Odicrus Ogg, the Hogwarts groundskeeper. The man was large and broad shouldered, with a bushy red beard covering his suntanned face, and not a speck of hair atop his shiny, bald head.
“Thank you, Odicrus,” said Dumbledore. “And I do say it is about time.”
Ogg merely grunted. He was, at present, distracted by the swarms of people trampling over his well-kept grounds.
Dumbledore made his way through the rows of chairs and crowd of people toward the makeshift stage that had been erected for the occasion. His progress was slow as he kept being stopped by witches and wizards eager to shake his hand and offer their congratulations. By the time he reached the platform, the jovial-looking Winton Barfield, the current Minister for Magic and the day’s Master of Ceremonies, was already center stage, his wand held up to his throat.
“Greetings to all,” boomed the Minister’s voice, the sheer volume of which caught many off guard, and caused poor tiny Professor Flitwick to topple clear out of his chair. “Welcome fellow Ministry members, distinguished guests, and residents of Hogwarts, the finest wizarding school the world has ever known.”
This last comment caused the students to break out in whoops and cheers, though not all the foreign wizards look convinced. After a few sharp looks form their teachers, the students calmed down and the Minister continued.
“Yes, yes. Thank you all for joining me on this most special day. As you know, we have gathered here in order to honor a very great wizard. A wizard who stands up for all creatures and strives to make not only the wizarding world, but the world at large, a safer place for all. It is my great pleasure to stand here before you today, the first of May, 1958, and introduce the newest recipient of the title of Order of Merlin, First Class…Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
Applause broke out again as the Minister gestured for Dumbledore to join him on stage. As the Headmaster climbed the platform stairs, something overhead caught his eye. High above him, something small and red was streaking across the brilliant blue sky. Dumbledore recognized the shape at once. It was Fawkes. She had come to watch over the ceremonies. Dumbledore smiled, his eyes following the phoenix as she swooped gracefully above the oblivious crowd. He stared up, transfixed, until the magnificent creature flew directly in front of the sun. At that moment, all Dumbledore could see was a brilliant ball of warm light.
It would only be a moment now until the full force of the spell collided with his weakened body; just an instant left for one last memory. Dumbledore was not scared. He was prepared. His last thought was not even for himself, but for Harry. How he wished he could spare him from this sight, from what he was leaving the child alone to do. But, no, that wasn’t right. Harry was no longer a child, nor was he truly alone. His family was ever with him, even if Harry could not always see them...
“Professor Dumbledore, sir? What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
The boy that looked up into Dumbledore’s eyes seemed to the Headmaster so undeniably young. He stood there, his feet bare, his oversized pajamas hanging loosely off his small frame, and his father’s invisibility cloak clutched tightly in his fist. There was such innocence in the boy’s brilliant green eyes that the aged wizard’s heart ached at the thought of what was to come. How could he explain to this child, who had already suffered so much, what the deepest desires of such a troubled old man’s heart meant for him? The time for such confessions would come soon enough, but it would not be today. Harry was far too young to bare such burdens. How does one even begin to explain that their deepest desire is for a young child to grow up and prove himself a murderer?
No, such things must remain secret for the present. But what to tell him? Dumbledore would not lie to Harry. He had far too much respect for the young wizard to do that. So he would have to settle for a half-truth. Not so much the Headmaster’s greatest desire, but instead what he desired his greatest desire to be. He would tell him not what he wanted most in life, but what he wished he wanted most. If times were simpler, his mind less preoccupied, Dumbledore imagined he would be quite content with life. He would lack only the smallest things, like perhaps...
“I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks,” Dumbledore finally replied. “One can never have enough socks.”
The light finally reached his body. The warm green glow enveloped him completely. It all began to slip away as one hundred sixty years worth of memories faded silently into the night. Summoning every last inch of life left inside him, Dumbledore closed his eyes and forced his mind to form one last conscious thought.
“Good luck, Harry Potter…”