Harry tossed and turned in his bed, still unable to sleep. It was the summer after his sixth year and the events that had preceded his vacation still clouded his mind. Dumbledore was dead. Snape had killed him. A few beads of sweat formed on his forehead as he recalled that night in the tower. He remembered very little of it but the few moments he did recall haunted him. He recalled standing there like a total fool, unable to do anything while the greatest wizard in history was killed. He remembered the look on Snape’s face when he had done it: cold and heartless. But most of all he’d remembered Dumbledore’s words that night. Severus…please. Dumbledore had pleaded for his life, and Harry still couldn’t accept it.
Harry turned around and saw Ron sitting up in his bed looking confused. They were all staying at the Burrow for the summer but most of the time, everyone was at Grimmauld Place for Order meetings.
“What is it, Ron?” Harry asked, amidst a sigh.
“Are you okay, mate?”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“Well,” Ron began. “You were taking deep breaths, and you’re sweating like mad.”
Harry ran his hand against his forehead and realized that Ron was right. “I’m fine,” Harry said, quickly. “Go back to sleep.”
“You were thinking about Dumbledore’s death, weren’t you?” Ron said, searching Harry’s expression for a reaction.
“Honestly, Ron…it’s fine. Go back to bed.”
“Harry, listen to me,” Ron said. He sat up straight on his bed and continued. “You’ve been like this the entire summer. I know Dumbledore’s gone, and you’re not the only one angry about it. But, he died for a reason…he died so that you would be saved.”
“The time that he took to freeze me, he could have used to deflect Malfoy’s spell,” Harry recalled.
“He saved you in the hopes that you would continue to find those horcruxes and kill Vold-” Ron struggled with the name. “Voldemort.”
“Well, that’s what I’m trying to do,” Harry said.
“No, it’s not,” Ron huffed. “That’s what the order is trying to do. You’re sitting around remembering that night, over and over again…it’s killing you.”
Harry turned away in frustration and lay back down on his bed. “Go to sleep, Ron.”
Ron nodded slowly and pulled his covers over him. “G’night, Harry.”
Harry kept tossing and turning late into the night, and tried to figure out, if what Ron was saying was true. Could it be possible that he was so overly caught up in Dumbledore’s death that he forgot the reason that Dumbledore had truly died?
“I’m afraid Mr. Weasley may have a point.”
Harry sat up immediately. Who had just said that? He turned around and looked in all directions until his eyes fixed upon the back of the room where a tall, thin, figure stood flooded within the moonlight. Even in such darkness, Harry could tell who that was in an instant: the long silver hair and beard, the tall, stern yet gentle presence, and those kind, but, wise eyes that hid behind his half moon spectacles.
“Professor Dumbledore?” Harry whispered.
“Good day, Harry,” Dumbledore said, smiling, as he took slow, calm steps towards Harry. As he drew closer, Harry realized that Dumbledore was partly translucent, like Nearly Headless Nick.
“Professor Dumbledore?” Harry repeated. “Is…that….I mean, is that really you, sir?”
“Well, I guess you could say that it is me,” Dumbledore said gently. “But as you can see, I am not in a mortal state. You could say that I’m a ghost but I don’t prefer that term. It makes me feel like I should be haunting an abandoned mansion somewhere.”
Harry laughed a little, as Dumbledore looked over at Ron. “I have been observing you for quite a while, Harry,” Dumbledore began. “And when I heard Mr. Weasley’s remark towards you, I thought that maybe I should pay you a little visit.”
“I don’t understand, sir,” Harry said slowly.
“Harry, you’ve been overly upset about my death and though I am flattered, I have to say, dear boy, you’re wasting away precious time. You’re losing crucial moments that you can spend searching for the horcruxes, by dwelling in the memories of an old man.”
“That won’t be a problem now,” Harry said suddenly. “You’re back. You may not be alive, but, you can still talk to us and…and give us advice about where to look.”
Harry noticed a sad look on Dumbledore’s face. “Harry,” he said softly. “I’m not back. I am merely a spirit and nothing more.”
“No, no,” Harry said quickly. “We need you, professor…I need you. I could never have survived my years at Hogwarts without your help.”
“This is why I’m here, Harry. I’ve come not to help you but to tell you something. Harry, you don’t need me. You’ve been mourning my death, because you’re afraid, that you cannot handle the tasks ahead of you, alone.”
“I can’t, sir. I could never have defeated Quirrell if you hadn’t come to the rescue at the last minute; I could never have defeated the Basilisk if you hadn’t sent Fawkes…each year I survived because of you.”
“No, dear boy, you survived on your own. If you recall, you had
grabbed Quirrell’s face, and he was withering away by the time I arrived. All I did was carry you out. You didn’t need me then. During your second year, I did not send Fawkes…you called him there, with your loyalty. I did nothing, Harry, you did everything.”
Harry pressed his hand against his forehead, as Dumbledore continued. “This was the one thing that I was afraid of. I was afraid that you would think yourself to be dependant on me …which is why I had to die.”
Harry suddenly looked up. “What?”
“Harry,” Dumbledore said quietly. “I had planned my death.”
The stony silence following was deafening to the extent that Harry felt like the world was collapsing. “That’s not true,” Harry said slowly.
“I’m afraid it is,” Dumbledore replied. “I had planned it from the beginning of your sixth year. Professor Snape was most reluctant to do it, and I had to spend a good amount of my time persuading him and in the end I think he gave quite a convincing performance.”
“That’s absurd!” Harry burst out. “Why…why would you do that?”
“You know Harry, that during your final battle with Voldemort, you will be alone. I won’t be there, Mr. Weasley won’t be there, and Ms. Granger won’t be there. As much as I hate to admit it, I am your weakness. Over the years you have grown so accustomed to my guidance and my help that I feared you wouldn’t be able to fight Voldemort alone. That is why I had to die.”
Harry couldn’t believe it. He wanted to shout, he wanted to burst, he wanted to go berserk, but he couldn’t move. “You’re a very brave, kind and able boy,” Dumbledore said. “I came to tell you that and now that I have, I think it’s time to bid you good night.”
“Professor,” Harry said weakly. “You can’t go…you can’t leave just like this.”
“It’s for the best, Harry. However, in all this discussion, I forgot that I had brought you a little present.” Dumbledore reached into his pocket and drew out a small silver heart shaped locket. “It was your mother’s.”
He gently placed the silver trinket in Harry’s cold hands and smiled one last time before disappearing into black oblivion. Harry closed his eyes; his fingers wrapped around the locket and took a deep breath.
“Ron! He’s waking up!”
Harry opened his eyes slowly and looked around the room. The entire Weasley family was surrounding him with a very frantic Hermione and Mrs. Weasley trying to wake him.
“What happened?” Harry asked.
“You were making this weird noise,” Hermione said. “And then you started shaking and twitching…we thought something had happened.”
Harry scratched his head and said very softly. “Dumbledore came to visit me last night.”
The room fell silent. “That can’t be, Harry,” Ron said. “I was awake all night and I didn’t see him or hear him.”
“It must’ve been a dream,” Mrs. Weasley said soothingly. “No worries.”
“No!” Harry said. “He was really here!”
“Just rest a little, Harry,” Mr. Weasley said. “Perhaps today you shouldn’t come to the Order meeting.”
“No,” Harry said. “I’ll come. I realize I’ve been a total pain this entire summer, but I’m ready now. I’ll do whatever I can to help find those horcruxes.”
Mr. Weasley smiled. “I’ll see you at Grimmauld Place then.” He patted Harry on the back and left the room along with everyone else.
Could it be possible that he was dreaming? Could it be possible that Dumbledore didn’t come to see him? But it had seemed so real.
Just then, something on Harry’s bed caught his attention. He turned and saw a tiny, heart shaped locket lying on his covers. Harry smiled slowly as the silver glimmered under the morning sun. “Good bye, Professor,” he said quietly.