Chapter 30 : The Portfolio
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine. If he was, I'd be suing Rowling for putting him with a stinking Weasley.
Author's Note: The Final Battle was in the last chapter, and it ended in a victory for the good guys. I did not post a recap because this whole chapter will be a recap for the last eight months. Yes, I skipped ahead eight months. You'll see why when you read the story...
Chapter 30: The Portfolio
The seventh years had graduated, many of them with high honors. It was now the night before they left school forever, never to return, unless it was for their own children. A generation that had not yet been born, for their future parents may not have found each other. Only time would tell.
Harry Potter knew he had found “the one”. He knew exactly who she was, and she was starting to figure out who she was. But that was not what Harry was doing this dark night. He was on his way to Dumbledore's office, as the aging Headmaster slept, to drop off his portfolio. He had compiled this portfolio over the last six years, and it was full of the proof of Harry's continued loyalty. He slipped into Dumbledore's office, and hid the portfolio under some papers. By the time Dumbledore found it and read it, Harry Potter would be long gone.
The seventh years, a rowdy bunch, had climbed into the carriages that would carry them away. Dumbledore sat down heavily at his desk and prepared to look through his papers, to see if there was anything he needed to sign but had missed. As he was leafing through the thin stack, his hand brushed what felt like a book. He took it out and read the outside cover. It said simply My Life, in thin script. He recognized that handwriting. He would know it anywhere.
It belonged to Harry James Potter, a boy he was convinced had chosen to serve the Dark.
He opened the notebook and began to read.
By the time you read this, I will have gone, either to the “next great adventure” after so long of being stuck between life and actual death, or graduated from Hogwarts. This was last updated on: June 10, 1998.
We begin with my death. I was a scared little boy, and I had gotten detention in the Forbidden Forest. My best friend and I had decided to help smuggle a dragon out of Hogwarts, before Hagrid was caught with it. He couldn't hide it forever, especially after it learned to breathe fire. Draco Malfoy and I had just found the dead unicorn when something came out of the woods across the clearing from us. Draco ran, taking Fang with him. I was nearly paralyzed with fear, but I turned and tried to run. I was grabbed from behind and felt the creature bite me. I didn't know what was happening. I saw its hand around my chest, so I took my only option and bit it back. I thought it would release me long enough for me to run away. I was just an eleven year old boy, you know. That night, I died, and so too did any hope I had of a normal life.
Barely a week after my death, I was sitting in the Great Hall, pretending to eat real food. I knew there was something wrong, so I followed Professor Quirrell down the trapdoor on the third floor. I knew it was just as forbidden as the forest had been, but I was too curious. I found Quirrell in that last chamber, trying to get the Stone from the Mirror of Erised. He tried to convince me to join him, saying that together we would rule the world. He promised me my parents, returned from the dead. I did not want my parents to suffer as I had suffered, as I will doubtless continue to suffer. I turned him down.
I knew you had followed me. I knew you were listening. The thought brought me comfort. I thought that, as long as I knew you were behind me, Voldemort could never hurt me. You left soon after, though. I was horrified, and terrified. I was eleven and alone in death. I fought him as best as I could, and I did manage to keep the Stone from him. It was destroyed, before he could use it. I thought you would understand your mistake, and be proud of me. You hated me from that moment. My first year ended with me dreading the return to my relatives, and yet hoping you might still care enough to at least check on me once. I was a little puppy that had been kicked, wasn't I? I just kept coming back for more.
Dumbledore read the account of Harry's last week of his first year, and was surprised to feel tears trickling down his face and into his beard. Harry was right: he had left after only part of the conversation. He had come in, jumped to conclusions, and left without trying to verify them. He hadn't even asked his old friend, Nicholas Flamel if he had received the Stone. If Harry had joined Voldemort then, the Dark Lord would have risen long ago. He had been stupid. He went on to read Harry's account of his second year.
My second year began just as my first had. I still had hopes of a bright future, with a loving family. I learned early on that I could still have those hopes, when you called Heinrich Weisen for advice. He told you I was good, and you basically threw him out. I was scared then, you and Snape were like two peas in a pod, and I knew I was no match for the both of you. Not yet. It will be different when I have matured, I assure you!
By Halloween, I knew there was something seriously wrong. There was something loose in the castle, I could feel it. You know, vampires can sense living things. I sensed it moving around, and tracked it to the second floor, to Moaning Myrtle's out-of-order bathroom. On Halloween, I offered to attend Nearly Headless Nick's Death-day Party, and to bring Hermione. He prepared the dungeon for the living, and as we left I sensed the monster moving around. Hermione and I tracked it, and together we found the cat on the bracket. We saw spiders fleeing, and Hermione went into the bathroom to ask Myrtle if she saw anything. When you arrived, I lied and said that I had sent her off to find help, and when you left, I went into the bathroom to fetch Hermione. You see, I can talk to people in their minds, and implant thoughts, among many other things. We vampires are very strong mentally, as well as physically.
During the Christmas break, I went down to the Chamber, not to set the monster loose, but to stop it. I saw Ginny Weasley down there, in the process of summoning it, and distracted her. The spirit of Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, informed me with much mirth that he had taken you prisoner, and then he proceeded to taunt me with that knowledge. You were, and still are, convinced of my treachery. I can't tell you how much that hurt. That was the biggest event of that year, and I'm sure you noticed how I avoided you the rest of that year. I focused on my studies, to take my mind off my pain. With so much time, it's easy to dwell on things like that.
The summer before third year, I still had some hope. You hadn't destroyed it completely, not yet. Though I knew that the next year was going to be eventful, when I still hadn't received the permission form for Hogsmeade. I thought you had forgotten I was in third year, but I quickly realized that you didn't want me going to a buffet. That year, I nearly went mad. I looked up to you; I had since I started at Hogwarts. I thought you to be all-powerful, and a kind man. When you set werewolves and my old half-giant friend on me that was painful. You see, I was beginning to mature, and maturation brings my full powers. That included gifts, like traveling by smoke and mist, and the ability to grow wings and turn into various other creatures. My favorite is something you would never expect: the Phoenix.
That year, Professor McGonagall (bless her!), came to my defense. She saved my sanity, though it was nearly lost. She discovered my greatest secret, besides being a Seer. No, I won't tell you what that is yet. You'll have to guess. I've already left hints for you. At the end of the year, I managed to win Professor Lupin's trust, though it was against his nature to trust my kind.
Dumbledore read through it again. This was the first he had heard of a secret even greater than being a Seer. He remembered what Ollivander had said during the Wand Weighing Ceremony during the Triwizard Tournament, more than three years ago. Phoenixes are excellent judges of character, he had said. It proved that a wizard was truly noble if he could become one. And if Harry knew even then that he could be a Phoenix, a full year before he first turned into one, then that shot the theory that he and Ollivander had planned it between them full of holes.
My fourth year started. Nice trick, by the way, putting me under house arrest! That was clever, but not very well thought out. You knew I had friends. My friends helped me escape, and I attended the Quiditch World Cup. When the Dark Mark appeared in the sky, did you believe I had set it off? I think you did, and that hurt. Still does, as a matter of fact. Oh yes, around this time I had already started getting visions of your death atop the Astronomy Tower. I knew it would happen, and I swore to prevent it.
You thought I had somehow gotten around your age line and submitted my own name. I had not done so, though I could have. You didn't design it to prevent my kind from crossing, and I'll bet you didn't know you could. I laid in wait and watched as two wizards submitted my name: Severus Snape and Igor Karkaroff. Yes, I knew since the Durmstrang delegation arrived that their Headmaster was evil. This was because of the power I have but will not name... Have you figured it out yet?
Voldemort returned at the end of this year, though you know that already. Remember, I sent you a message from within the maze that told you the Cup was a portkey. That was a mistake on my part, I know that now. All it did was anger you enough to make you take it yourself. After he tied you up and used your blood to return, I snuck up behind him and slashed him. Yes, that mad creature on his back was me. He had hurt you, so I hurt him.
Dumbledore thought back to the graveyard that he had accidentally portkeyed himself to. He had been embarrassed to learn that Harry was right, then he remembered the creature that had pounced on the Dark Lord from behind, and slashed him until he fled, shrieking. He put the notebook down and put his head in his hands. He was barely through reading Harry's account of his fourth year, and already he hated himself. He kept on reading.
In my fifth year, I was surprised you had named me Prefect. I thought for one glorious moment that you had changed your mind since I placed the Imperius Curse on you last year, and made you tell me the truth, that you hated me. I knew early on that your earlier statement was correct: you couldn't stand to look me in the eye. I knew how you felt, that you believed I was so close with my so-called “Master” that he would look through my eyes at you. He tried to look through my eyes, but I threw him out. I was so “loyal” to him that I dragged you out of his clutches then watched as your Dark Mark faded. I thought I had won you over. But once again, that was for one glorious moment. No, Hermione never really hated you. She just hated what you were doing to me. I have fed on her a few times, but only if I was injured. I swear on my honor that I have never turned anyone. But, you don't believe that, do you? Did you know you can ask the castle if I was a danger to those within? Ask it.
“How do I ask the castle something?” Dumbledore asked, confused. The portraits on the wall stirred. Portraits that hadn't awoken for as long as he could remember woke up. In fact, four spots above the line of previous Heads gained portraits before his very eyes. One in particular woke up and spoke.
“I was wondering when you would realize we were here, too, Albus Wulfric Brian Dumbledore,” the portrait of Godric Gryffindor said slowly. “What aid do you require?”
“Ummm... ummm...” Dumbledore mumbled with his eyes wide. His half-moon glasses slid off his nose and fell onto his desk.
“You have a question about a young Gryffindor. Ask it,” Gryffindor said, his tone commanding.
“Was Harry Potter a danger to other students during his time here?” Dumbledore blurted out.
“Harry James Potter is my last Heir. He arrived with no friends, and gained few true allies. He has defended this castle, and all those who dwell within, with little thanks, and much betrayal,” Godric pronounced. “You tried to throw him out, on All Hallow's Eve five years ago. If he was a danger, then he would have been ejected from the castle.” At that, Gryffindor went back to sleep.
“I'm the biggest bastard to ever walk the earth, aren't I?” Dumbledore asked himself.
“Yes, you are,” a voice replied, with barely restrained amusement. Dumbledore wasn't entirely surprised to see Salazar Slytherin speaking to him. The four Founders' portraits disappeared until they were called upon once again. Dumbledore picked up his glasses and continued reading.
I returned once again, this time for my sixth year. You thought I had skipped. I was late because I needed to get information. I told you this, though. My visions of your death on the Tower kept coming more frequently. There was a time when I would lay down and see you falling off the Tower, dead by Snape's curse, every single night. When you told me of the Horcruxes that year, I tracked Voldemort's magical signature, and I found the cave. I saw the locket sitting in the bowl of poison, and took a sample of it. Just in case you're curious, it was a mixture of Alihotsy and Acromantula venom. Hermione and I synthesized the cure, by mixing my Phoenix tears with a crushed bezoar. It was her idea, and it worked to perfection. I told you true that night in the cave. I had removed the locket from the bowl and kept it until I found the real one. You see, inside there was a note signed by R. A. B. That was actually Regulus Arcturus Black, which I figured out that summer. The real locket had been at Grimmauld all the time. I had actually seen it, and held it, and didn't recognize it for what it was. And yes, before you ask, I knew all along that your kindness at the beginning of that year was all made-up. You pretended to care, and that hurt me even more than open hatred does. Have you figured out my secret yet? I've been leaving hints...
Dumbledore read those last lines with a heavy heart. He hadn't known Harry had known the truth all along. He had thought he was pulling the wool over the young vampire's eyes. But he should have known that it's nearly impossible to fool them, at least for very long.
My seventh year has arrived. I never thought I would survive this long, especially after my death. Since I am writing this, I know I succeeded last year in keeping you from joining me in death. However, I fear my continued loyalty to you has enraged Voldemort to no end. He now fears this form of “arcane magic” that lets you butcher Death Eaters and can even bring to bear against him. When you told me the prophecy in sixth year, during our first lesson together, you were right when you said that “the power the Dark Lord knows not” is love. You just didn't know whose love would stop him. I knew the battle would be on Halloween, and I made sure to destroy all of his Horcruxes by then. The Cup I took from Bellatrix and Ginny while they were on their way back to him. It was lucky they didn't Apparate. I destroyed it with Hermione's help, just as I destroyed the locket I mentioned earlier. Ravenclaw's diadem was hidden in Hogwarts, and Hermione and I found it and destroyed it. Nagini was a Horcrux and she was the last of them. I went to Riddle Manor and killed her, and Riddle himself did not take kindly to that at all. He cursed me from behind. I had actually missed his presence. I didn't know he was there, and you know he loves to strike from behind.
Yes, you will be wondering by now when I will mention the last one. He accidentally made a seventh the night he killed my parents. The last bit of his filthy soul attached itself to my own. You were right about that, though you were wrong about everything else. You see, that was the first to be destroyed, even before the diary in the Chamber and that damn ring you foolishly put on. It was destroyed years before. Remember when Heinrich Weisen told you I had a soul, and that I was the first one he'd ever seen with an intact soul. Yes, you remember. It didn't help my case one bit, for you thought that the soul I had was that bit of Voldemort's. When I died, that bit was loose. It was sent on, leaving my own intact. I'll give you another hint, though this will be one of the last I'll leave... That anomaly led directly to my having a very rare gift, this secret I've been leaving hints for.
Dumbledore read through the last paragraph several times, but still couldn't figure it out. Now that it was written down, he didn't know how he could have missed it all these years. He had been dead wrong, and he knew it now. And he might never get a chance to apologize to Harry for his abominable treatment of him.
We are nearing the end of this dissertation. The battle came and went, taking Voldemort to his “next great adventure”. It was the “arcane magic” he so feared that did it. You probably only remember the end, when Hermione kneed you. She had begged me for permission, and I gave it. You had hurt me for so long; I needed for you to feel some pain. I apologize for that. It was childish of me, but I never really had a chance to be childish. That night, since you were in no condition to actually fight, I placed you under the Imperius Curse, like you taught me back in fourth year. Voldemort never knew what had hit him, and neither did Cormac McLaggen, or the dozen or so other Death Eaters I killed that night. McLaggen I never really liked, so I decided to be creative. I flipped him upside down and sent him careening into Hagrid, who batted him away.
After the battle, I kept my distance from you, just as I had done in second year. I couldn't bear to see you look on me with more distrust. I knew every time you thought ill of me, and I knew you were just waiting for me to take up Voldemort's banner. I also had to deal with pain from another source. Did you know that I had been in love since my first year? I had to crush my love for her, and watch as she dated someone else. No, it was never Ginny. It was someone who knew me better than I knew myself. She has been the victim of countless love potions; so many, in fact, that she has begun to break free of their hold. One day, maybe I will finally be able to tell her how I feel. But not yet. I struggled with my feelings for the rest of the year, and I buried myself in preparations for my NEWTs. I studied so hard, in an attempt to distract myself from the pain. She got together with her old boyfriend seven, maybe eight, times in the next seven months. At this moment, they are not together, though they probably soon will be. I'll bet you can guess easily who she is.
Well, I'm done trying to convince you. You can do with this what you like. You can even burn it and curse my name to high heaven for all I care. Who knows, maybe I won't need to care what happens anymore. Only time will tell.
With all my respect and admiration,
Albus Dumbledore read the last few lines with growing dread. In his fifty-three years of teaching, he had come across his share of notes like this one. Sometimes, he had found them too late to make a difference. He knew he needed to find Harry Potter before something terrible happened.
Hey, it worked once, he thought. He cleared his throat and said, “Godric, can you track your Heirs?”
The portrait appeared. “Twice in one night you've called on me,” the ancient Founder of Hogwarts said. “You must really have bungled something. Yes, I can track their welfare enough to know when they are in immediate danger of their lives. However, when Harry Potter died six years ago, I lost the ability to track him.” Before Godric could disappear, Dumbledore had another question to ask him.
“When you say you can track their welfare, why did you not alert me that Lord Voldemort was attacking James and Lily Potter?”
“I did; I just chose to do it differently than coming out and saying that my Heirs were in mortal peril. Our spirits still inhabit the castle, though we very rarely come out in the open. In times of crisis, we can interact with the current Head through those little silver instruments,” Godric replied. Dumbledore's memory showed him the little silver object on his desk suddenly starting to whir and give off red smoke, then green. A little map had appeared above it that pinpointed Godric's Hollow as the scene of the impending attack. However, his shock at the news probably cost James and Lily their lives that night seventeen years before. He had sent Hagrid, though he was a little too late.
Godric's portrait had disappeared once again back to his rest. “I need to find him...” Dumbledore muttered to himself. “Fawkes, can you find Harry Potter, and maybe bring him here?” Fawkes trilled in acceptance of the task and vanished in a flash of flames. Dumbledore sighed.
Fawkes returned several hours later and trilled a failure to complete his mission. Dumbledore wasn't angry, he knew enough to know that people contemplating suicide tended to hide so as to better complete their task, and vampires are especially difficult to track. He decided to go out himself and try to find Harry, but first he needed to know exactly what he was dealing with. He went to bed, hoping his mind would provide an answer during the night.
The next morning, he had an answer. Minerva McGonagall had been close to Harry, so he would ask her. He went to her office, and found her packing for her summer vacation. “Minerva, I need to find Harry. I've just realized I've been the world's biggest bastard in regards to him,” he admitted.
“I don't know where he is, he didn't tell me. He also asked me not to reveal the truth directly to you, but to give you this book,” she said, and handed him The Power of the Vampire. “I believe you tried to take this from Miss Granger a few years ago, but Harry got it back for her. He told me he wasn't ready for you to know.”
“Then the answer is in here,” he stated, seeking confirmation. She nodded. He left, and flipped it open. It opened easily to the chapter on the Black Forest vampires. He read it as he walked, and his eyes opened wider and wider with each step. He ran back to his office and tossed Floo powder in his fireplace.
“Heinrich!” he called. Heinrich Weisen, who had left Hogwarts after his one year teaching the night before, stumbled over to the fireplace rubbing sleep out of his eyes.
“Yeah?” he yawned.
“Listen, are you sure Harry Potter has a soul?” Dumbledore asked, his tone becoming almost frantic.
“One hundred percent positive,” Heinrich confirmed with another yawn.
“You're quite sure it is his own?” Dumbledore asked, now worrying about the fate of the boy he used to hate quite fiercely.
“I've said it before and I'll say it again. Harry Potter is the kindest, most noble vampire you'll ever meet. And after what you've done to him, and I'm taking the summoning of someone like Abraham Van Helsing to terminate him as a case in point, I'd be surprised if he let you see him anytime soon,” Heinrich said severely.
Dumbledore closed the connection after that, and wept. It had finally sunk in that if Harry Potter terminated himself, it would be completely his, Dumbledore's, fault. So, he searched high and low for the young man he had wronged so thoroughly. He never gave up, not even when the new school year was about to start and he had to continue the search from his office. Eight months passed in this fashion, and Dumbledore began to despair that he would never find Harry by the time March rolled around.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter had been spying on the Weasley family for the past eight months. He sat on a rafter in their home in spider form, or sat outside the window in the evenings in mist form. He was watching Molly and Ron, and waiting for the right time to come out. One day in early March, Molly turned to her youngest son and said, “Ron, when will you and Hermione get married?”
“You said she'd be all over me by now, but she's broken up with me a whopping twenty-four times since we started dating back in fifth year,” Ron complained. Molly sighed and said, “Then I'll need to take drastic action to keep her in line.”
Soon afterwards, she had made an extra-strength dose of Amortentia, and she handed it to Ron with instructions to give Hermione the entire dose the day he planned to propose. She also said, “I'll place her under the Imperius Curse on your wedding day. You'll be married by week's end.” Ron grinned wickedly and left to go propose to his ex-girlfriend.
Harry sighed from his hiding place and determined that the best thing to do would be to screw Ron over once and then leave him to it.
Dumbledore got the message three days later. Ron Weasley had informed him that he and Hermione were to be married without delay, and they wanted him to officiate. He sighed and muttered, “I wanted this, but now the thought fills me with disgust.”
“You made your bed, now you must lie in it,” Phineas Nigellus Black cackled. He had been finding Dumbledore's recent change of heart highly amusing, especially since at odd times Salazar Slytherin would appear with his portrait and offer an insult or two.
“That's not helping, Phineas,” Dumbledore grumbled sourly. Phineas just laughed some more.
Ron and Hermione arrived for their wedding, and Dumbledore was revolted to see the way she hung onto Ron, and he noticed her glazed eyes and serene face.
“Do you, Ronald Weasley, take this witch, to have and to hold, from this day forward, until death parts you?” Dumbledore asked.
“I do,” Ron pronounced with a glint in his blue eye that Dumbledore didn't like.
“Do you, Hermione Granger, take this wizard, to have and to hold, from this day forward, until death parts you?” Dumbledore asked, silently begging her to say 'no'.
“I do,” she slurred, though no one noticed.
“Is there anyone here who objects to this union?” Dumbledore asked, while thinking, besides me, that is. He expected Harry to come forward and stop the wedding, but no one came forward. Arthur looked distinctly ill, but Molly looked proud.
“I declare you bonded for life. You may kiss the bride,” Dumbledore said quietly. He felt just as bad as Arthur did. Hermione pounced on Ron, kissing him passionately. Ron reacted accordingly, and stood there proudly, with her at his side. Dumbledore wanted to drop dead right there.
* * * *
EDITOR’S NOTE: EEEEEVIIIIIIIIILLLLL!!!! *bashes head on wall*
… Ahem. Sorry about that. I just needed to get it out of my system after reading it.
> Dumbledore wanted to drop dead right there< I think a few of my brain cells did just that.
Anyway, aside from the EVIL (Voldemort’s ghost is giggling like a schoolgirl, I’m sure) in this chapter, how did you all like it? Good? Bad? Glob bagronk-ghaara Mordor-ob? (That’s “Filth from the dung-pit of Mordor” in JRR Tolkien’s “Black Speech”. Quite the linguist, aren’t I? And yes, I just had to throw that in there :) )
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