Chapter 2 : Two Memories?
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It is just over a week before Harry’s Seventeenth birthday …
Harry lay back on top of his bed and wondered what thoughts and feelings would dominate him through that day.
He had arrived back at Privet Drive just after the funeral. Lupin had suggested he take a few days before returned to Surrey, but Harry was keen to leave and it seemed the best way of achieving that would be to arrive as promptly as he could.
Lupin had insisted upon speaking to the Dursleys before he left. He explained to them about the loss of Dumbledore, but Harry hadn’t stayed to listen. He just dragged his trunk upstairs, not wishing to hear their unfeeling comments.
Lupin had knocked on his door before he left and promised that the Order would pop in regularly to see that he was okay. He also gently recommended that Harry should at least try to speak with Aunt Petunia, since he was unlikely to return.
“You’ll be sorry it if you don’t, Harry. Perhaps not now, but in years to come you will regret not attempting to reconcile your differences,” he had said before leaving.
Harry didn’t remember falling asleep that first night, but the next day he woke up questioning everything and exploring some impossible ideas. How could Dumbledore, the greatest Wizard of his age, be dead? Maybe he wasn’t. Could Dumbledore have staged some elaborate hoax? Was he in hiding, biding his time?
Almost imperceptibly, his denial transformed into a terrible anger. He was angry at everything in the world.
He had paced up and down furiously all that day until finally exhaustion brought him back to his bed.
Most of his anger was directed at Dumbledore. How could he have prevented him from helping him that night? Why did he have to trust Snape? Why had he not stopped Malfoy?
It was in the early hours of the next day when Harry finally admitted to himself that what he was really angry about was himself.
It wasn’t that he was destined to fight Voldemort; he’d long accepted that. No, what really tore him up inside was the fact that he had known the risk to the school before they had left to find the Horcrux. Had he refused to leave with Dumbledore, could he have kept him alive?
What if, even now, Dumbledore had planned a way out? He had stopped Harry from intervening, but what if Dumbledore wanted to create the illusion of his death. That would certainly take the pressure off a little. Had he expected Harry to step in and do something? Perhaps he’d actually believed Slughorn’s assertions that he was really good at Potions. What if Harry was supposed to administer a Potion that would revive his Headmaster?
If that was the case, then he’d failed. Dumbledore’s trust in Snape had been misguided, and his belief in Harry looked just as poor judgement from his perspective.
Unless Voldemort was going to offer to settle his claims on the Wizarding world by accepting Harry’s challenge to a Quidditch match, it looked like he was going to be of little use.
Indeed, Voldemort was probably finding Harry's lack of any real magical talent almost as amusing as Dumbledore’s death.
Harry’s convoluted theories to prove that Dumbledore wasn’t really gone lasted the entire day. He managed to cling onto this faint hope until sunset but no more.
His next two days were filled with nothing but apathy. What was the point of it all? Voldemort was bound to win in the end. What could he do without Dumbledore?
Eventually, he came to the inescapable conclusion that no, Dumbledore was indeed gone. The sooner he accepted that, the better. Dumbledore, he realised, had been preparing him for his death for a year. He had known he was the intended victim of a murder plot for months, after all.
Hunger finally drew Harry out of his bedroom and downstairs to the deserted kitchen. In the fridge he found a prepared salad meal wrapped in cling-film. He took it, not knowing who it had been prepared for, and ate.
As he washed up the plate at the sink, he realised that the notion that Dumbledore had been preparing him took him a little by surprise. He climbed quietly back up to his room to consider this further.
He had been so convinced, all those years ago, that Dumbledore had allowed them to learn just enough to give him a chance to face Voldemort when Quirrell had attempted to steal the Philosopher’s Stone.
But Dumbledore hadn’t trained him over this last year, had he? All he did was explain some of Voldemort’s past and shown him his path ahead.
Harry’s head became filled with a jumbled mass of memories from all the times he had spoken to Dumbledore.
What he really needed was to talk the whole thing through; and only one person would do for that.
Unfortunately, it was two o’clock in the morning and he had no idea where Hermione was. He had a telephone number of her parent’s home somewhere, but he wasn’t sure if they were risking returning home or not. Hermione had just said the Order was accompanying them.
He got up and pulled a wad of unused parchment from his trunk, together with a quill and ink.
It would be much later when he realised that something had happened to him in the instant he rose up from his bed. It would be Hermione who would point this out, but in the very moment it happened, he had noticed nothing at all.
The pre-dawn light gradually entered his bedroom window and found him still scratching away with his quill.
Rubbing his sore eyes, he looked around. The room was strewn with parchment, all now covered with hurriedly written lists and notes.
He sat nodding down at the piece of parchment he was holding before a particularly loud burst of birdsong drew his attention outside.
Harry’s gaze returned to his desk. He wanted to continue, but he knew he was growing tired.
It was still a couple of hours before the summer sun would be up. Perhaps a quick walk would wake him up.
He checked he had his wand before heading to the bathroom. There he tried to wash off some of the ink that covered his hands.
A few minutes later, he stepped outside into the cool morning air.
He had the feeling that an owl would be waiting for him upon his return, carrying a message from the Order admonishing him for leaving the house.
Harry, though, decided he could trust Dumbledore’s protections for the next few days at least.
He followed his familiar summer trail, except he was forced to take a detour around the locked park. Rather than following the road, he decided to make his way along a footpath that left the road.
Originally intended as an escape from the suburban traffic for pedestrians, the short stretch was actually notorious as a favourite spot for muggers. This only occurred to Harry when he was halfway along the winding path and was surrounded by thick trees and bushes.
He hesitated, trying to remember if it would be quicker to carry on or go back the way he had come.
Annoyed that he’d forgotten how easy it would be to ambush him along this route, he decided to push on. If there was trouble he had his wand and anyway he could always Disapparate away to safety.
He walked on a few feet, but then stopped to listen.
Had he just heard voices from within the trees?
Harry reached for his wand, although he thought it unlikely that an attacker would announce their presence quite so readily. Of course, they might just be wondering what he was doing there in such an obviously compromised position.
He heard a rustling sound and an instant later a dark shadow darted towards him.
Harry just stood there shaking. He looked blankly down at his wand and then down at the animal lying still at his feet.
He couldn’t quite accept what he had just done.
Harry looked around nervously. There was no-one in sight.
He forced himself to pocket his wand and walk back to the path, but his mind was replaying the moment over and over again.
The fox had been much bigger than he had expected. Perhaps that is why he’d reacted so quickly, fearing it was an Animagus.
However, having examined the carcass, he was sure it hadn’t been an Animagus. It was simply a fox.
He wondered that he’d even been able to produce a killing curse. He’d never even practised before, not even when Ron insisted upon sneaking into the Forbidden Forest to try well away from prying eyes.
Ron had only managed to hit an old fallen tree trunk but there had been a rabbit hiding just on the other side that had been killed when the curse managed to get through a gap between the trunk and the ground.
Ron had tried to describe the feeling that producing the curse felt like, but Harry genuinely hadn’t understood. Moody had spoken about that feeling too, but had not elaborated at all.
Having just killed that fox, Harry’s overwhelming feeling now was one of guilt. Even so, he recognised that there was something else there too.
He struggled to identify this new feeling, and was more than a little shocked to realise he was feeling a kind of thrill. Part of him actually enjoyed the kill and was eager to discover what killing something larger would feel like; maybe even something human.
No, he decided. Those were not his feelings.
All he was remembering was Voldemort’s sick mind games.
Harry wasn’t sure when exactly Voldemort had begun to open his mind to Harry. He felt instinctively that Voldemort would not attempt to possess him again. However, because Dumbledore was gone now, Voldemort clearly felt he could chance Harry seeing the occasional flashes.
They were very brief at the beginning, but Harry had stopped taking much interest when he realized Voldemort was selecting what he should see. Accidental or unintentional visions were much more interesting and useful.
Sometimes, however, the images of what Voldemort was either seeing or imagining were so shocking that Harry sometimes had a problem ridding them from his mind. That, he knew, was the point, after all.
Feeling a little vulnerable, Harry headed straight back to Privet Drive.
“Harry, I’m really sorry. I thought I should come in person to tell you. Mum is going spare.”
“What’s happened?” Harry asked with concern.
“Don’t worry, everyone is fine,” said Charlie at once, before continuing reluctantly, “The thing is news about the date of Bill and Fleur’s wedding has leaked out. If you come, there’s a good chance the Death Eaters will try to get through the protections at the Burrow.”
Harry’s shoulder’s sagged, anticipating what Charlie was about to say next.
“You don’t think it’s safe for me to come to the Burrow?”
“That’s right, Harry. I’m really sorry. Everyone wanted you there; Mum especially. She isn’t too happy with me right now. It was me that first said it would be risky having you there even in disguise, but Dad agrees with me.”
“I don’t want anything bad to happen just because of me,” Harry said firmly. “I understand, Charlie. Please give everyone my best wishes and say not to worry. I want everyone to just enjoy the day.”
“Thanks, Harry,” said Charlie, looking more than a little relieved that Harry wasn’t angry with him. Charlie knew how much Harry hated staying with the Dursleys. “How long are you planning on staying here?”
Seeing the relief on Charlie’s face made Harry recognise that he was himself feeling a little relieved. He had only ended things with Ginny a few days ago, after all. Harry knew in his own mind that it would be for the best, but he wasn’t at all sure how he would react when he saw her again.
Harry forced his attention back to his conversation with Charlie.
“Just a few more days, them I’m free.”
Charlie nodded and said, "Be careful, Harry. Dad says they are waiting for your birthday but also watching in case you try to leave early."
Harry nodded back but said nothing.
“Oh, I’ve got a letter from Ron for you,” he said, handing Harry an envelope he had removed from an inside pocket.
“Is there anything you need while you are here?”
“No, thanks. I’m fine.”
Harry sat down at his desk and opened the envelope Charlie had given him.
I’m really sorry about you not being able to come to the wedding. I know how much you were looking forward to coming. Fleur was a bit upset but Bill says it’ll be a good excuse to have another celebration when the time is right.”
Harry smiled and nodded.
“Mum was all in favour of bringing the date forward and not telling anyone, but as Dad pointed out news could leak out about that too.
“Anyway, I’ve been roped in to helping out, but I’ll be free to join you as soon as possible after the wedding. I can’t be specific about the date because they keep changing it and in any case this letter might get intercepted.
“Have you heard from Hermione? I sent her a letter as soon as we got home (I’m getting as bad as Percy!) and I got one letter from her but she must have sent hers before she got mine.
“Got to go. Ginny is yelling some rubbish about the decorations I conjured earlier. Honestly, what does she expect?
“See you, Ron.”
Harry walked into the living room and smiled seeing Professor McGonagall standing at the window. His smile faltered when he saw how ill at ease she seemed as she turned to face him.
“Is anything the matter, Professor?”
She did not answer at once.
“You have probably read in the newspapers that attacks are now occurring on a regular basis. There was even one in broad daylight two days ago.”
“Yes, I’ve read the newspaper articles.”
“With your birthday only a few days away, you should really begin to plan for your safety. Perhaps a Fidelius Charm would be appropriate. I’ve spoken to Professor Flitwick, and he’s more than willing to help. As a matter of fact he’s getting rather a lot of practise in lately.”
“I can imagine,” said Harry darkly. “I don’t intend to stay here even a minute past midnight on my birthday, Professor. I’d be gone now if I hadn’t given my word to Dumbledore.”
“I’d like you to consider coming back to the school until term starts.”
“No,” said Harry more firmly than he intended. “I mean,” he added quickly, but faltered finding the right words. “I don’t intend to stay at school with all this going on. I’ve got to carry on where Dumbledore left off, Professor.”
“Harry, Professor Dumbledore would have wanted you to graduate.”
“Yes, but my priority has to be Voldemort. Besides, is the school really going to re-open?”
“Of course it is!”
“Professor, how safe will it be? One of Voldemort’s priorities will be to take over Hogwarts. With Dumbledore gone, what chance is there of us preventing that from happening?”
For an instant McGonagall looked at him with indignant anger but then her expression softened and she nodded in agreement.
“Unfortunately, most of the parents and school Governors agree that if Lord Voldemort wants Hogwarts, there is little now to stop him. The Ministry of Magic has already reassigned the Aurors who were protecting the school.”
“Well, I say let him have the place," said Harry. "At least we’ll know where to attack him when the time comes.”
“What an extraordinary thing to say. I rather had the impression that Hogwarts was more of a home to you than this place.”
“It was,” Harry admitted sadly. “It may be again, but not now.”
“I know what you mean,” said McGonagall with a sigh, sitting down. Harry sat next to her on the settee.
“One of the few things Albus advised me,” she confided quietly, “was not to fight to keep the school open. He said that if anything happened to him, then we should not risk casualties. He too was sure Lord Voldemort would want to take the school. Actually, he seemed to think the notion quite amusing.”
Harry smiled at her and nodded.
“I see you are in on the joke,” she added dryly. “I rather had the impression that Dumbledore was considering closing the school next year anyway. He seemed to think you no longer needed its protection.”
“You make it sound like he kept Hogwarts open just to keep me safe,” said Harry.
“I’m quite sure he did just that, Harry.”
Harry frowned slightly.
“Professor, let’s just suppose that Hogwarts doesn’t re-open next year. Professor Trelawney will still have to be protected. She has no idea of the danger she is in.”
“Actually, Sybill Trelawney has received an invitation to teach at Beauxbatons Academy of Magic from September. Indeed, Madam Maxime has extended kind offers to all of the Hogwarts teaching staff, including myself. However, she stressed that Sybill would be as safe as she was at Hogwarts.”
Harry grinned at her and said simply, “Dumbledore.”
“Indeed. The Headmaster appears to have found time in his busy schedule for a visit to Beauxbatons last year.”
“What about the students, Professor?”
“Madam Maxime has said every Hogwarts student would be welcome to continue their studies at her Academy of Magic.”
“Madam Maxime has perhaps wisely left it to me to decide which students should be invited.”
“Does the Ministry know?”
“No, and frankly we’d prefer them not to know at the moment.”
Harry nodded in agreement and asked, “Will Beauxbatons need to be expanded?”
“Interestingly, no. The Hogwarts castle is much bigger than Beauxbatons but at one time they rivalled us in terms of student numbers. And, thanks to Dumbledore, they've had time to prepare to receive a large additional intake.”
“Have you seen Beauxbatons, Professor?”
“Yes, just the once. It was an inter-school Quidditch competition. Unfortunately, our House rivalry was too great for us to play together as a decent team. We lost in the final by an outrageous margin.”
“Well, perhaps you can organise a return match?”
“Harry, I have no intention of taking up Madam Maxime’s offer. My place is at Hogwarts.”
“No, Professor. I mean, with respect, your place is with your students.”
For a moment, Harry thought she was going to explode. She looked away, looking a little flushed.
“You are not the first to have told me that, Harry.”
“Look,” said Harry, leaning forward. “It would be best to strip Hogwarts of anything you need or want to keep away from Voldemort now. If you wait you’ll just have to go in a panic.”
“The portraits have been saying the same thing for days now,” she said absently, referring to the old Headmasters and Mistresses of the school. “Sir Nicholas and the Bloody Baron have volunteered to stay behind and spy for us, as have Sir Cadogan and one of the Monks on the East Stair.”
“That’s what you intended to do, isn’t it?” said Harry gently.
McGonagall nodded and withdrew a small tartan handkerchief from her sleeve. Dabbing her nose she said, “I know enough of the secret passage ways to stay hidden, even if Lord Voldemort takes over the place.”
“I know you’re brave enough and certainly clever enough to do it, but you’d be far more valuable teaching at Beauxbatons. Voldemort is bound to target that place as well sooner or later.”
McGonagall signed deeply and seemed to be coming to a decision as she said, “Yes, I know you’re right. I’ll get things organised as soon as I return. To be honest, I suspect that Filius and the others may have been making preparations just in case.”
“Don’t forget to free the House Elves, will you?”
“They won’t be happy about that. I think I’ll order them to join us in France instead.”
“Good, I rather like the idea that Voldemort will have to cook his own celebration feast!”
“So, where will you go, Harry? I’m sure that Madam Maxime will be pleased to offer you a new home before term starts.”
“No, I don’t think France appeals just now, thanks. I’ll get regular messages to you somehow, but I’ve decided that only Ron and Hermione will know my full plans. I hope you’ll continue to use Grimmauld Place. I don’t plan on using it.”
“Thank you, Harry. The Order will be grateful for that. What about your Aunt and Uncle? There will be some risk to them after your birthday.”
“Well, Dudley is away for the summer. I’ve tried to persuade my Aunt and Uncle that it won’t be safe for them here, but they aren’t keen at all about going away.”
“The Order will maintain patrols if you wish,” she offered.
“Thanks. That would probably be best.”
“There are another couple of matters I need to raise with you, Harry. The first concerns Dobby the house elf.”
“He’s alright, isn’t he?”
“Oh, yes. He’s fine. Albus suggested you might like to take him into your employment.”
“I’m not sure,” said Harry doubtfully. “It might be dangerous, although I could certainly do with his help.”
“Hogwarts would not object if you both agreed terms. I must warn you, however, that the house-elf enslavement laws may be of essential use to you. An enslaved elf cannot ever betray its master.”
“Well, Dobby wanted to be a free elf. I’m not about to upset him by insisting he becomes enslaved to me.”
“May I send him to you so you can discuss it together?”
Harry smiled and said, “No, but you can ask him to pop by because I’d like to see him.”
McGonagall smiled back at him, but then her smile faltered.
“The second matter concerns Albus himself. He had for some time suspected he might not survive for too long once Voldemort returned to his former strength. Indeed, once it became clear what young Draco Malfoy was up to, he asked me to help him.”
She took a deep, steadying breath before saying, “Albus stored a memory, um, in me.”
“He gave me one of his memories. I know that it was a message intended for you, but I do not know what the message was.”
“Um, okay. How do I hear the message?”
“He wasn’t specific. There are three methods that I know of. The first uses the pensieve to deposit the memories in a form that you can read. That method will not work in this case, because I cannot recall the message at all.”
“The second requires you to perform Legilimency on me in order to force the memory from my mind. That method has some inherent risks in that my own memories will be affected.”
“What’s the third method, Professor?”
“Albus developed a method some years ago which could be used to transfer a message via a third party who would remain entirely ignorant of the message contents.”
“That sounds like the method he would have wanted us to use,” noted Harry.
“Indeed, however there are problems. At one time memory transfers were a relatively common method of sending secure messages until it was realised that it was relatively easy to intercept the communication.
“The Ministry used to use Muggles under an Imperious Curse. The messages could be blocked by either killing the courier or even just by simply confunding them. In addition, the messages could be retrieved by a sufficiently skilled Legilimens.
“My concern is that the message may already have been read by Snape. He must have an extraordinary skill in order to have fooled Dumbledore like that.”
“I don’t think we should worry about that,” said Harry. “Even if he has read the message, we need to know what it said.”
“Well, yes, but it isn’t quite that straightforward. As I said, Albus developed the method further so that the message was more secure. He split the message into two parts and used two couriers.”
“Oh, so Snape might not know what the message says.”
“No, but he might have recognised the fact that I carried a message. If he removed or corrupted the part I carry, you will never be able to hear it. What’s more, he might actually have modified the memory. Memories are dangerous, Harry. A traumatic event or shock, even if it is a lie or isn’t even yours, can kill. Voldemort drove several witches and wizards to suicide that way.”
“Who do you think carries the other half of the message?”
“I’ve no idea. For all I know, he could have placed it in you.”
“No, he didn’t do that.”
“How do you know? I know for a fact that although Albus used his Legilimency skills sparingly, he certainly used them on you.”
“Yes, I imagined he was doing that, actually. Still, he was never as invasive as Snape was. He never made me recall images of memories like he did.”
“Well, Snape wasn’t as skilled a Legilimens as Dumbledore was. Of course, he may well have just wanted to cause you more pain and suffering than was necessary.”
“No kidding,” said Harry dryly.
“Harry, I’d like to suggest a way forward. What if I was to transfer my part of the message to a third party? That way, if anything happened to me the message would be safe.”
“No, it would be best if you transferred it directly to me. If we used someone else, we’d just be increasing the number of people at risk.”
“Well, alright then. I’ll tell you how to summon the memory. However, I should warn you that you may become disoriented for a while. You may also find that you are concentrating on the wrong things. I wonder if it wouldn’t it be better to wait for Miss Granger or Mr Weasley. They could look after you if you suddenly had an urge to leave the house.”
Harry smiled but shook his head.
“How do I summon the memory?”
“You simply point your wand at me and say an incantation. The words to use are Memoria ego voco thee.”
Harry pointed his wand at Professor McGonagall and said clearly, “Memoria ego voco thee!”
There was a small flash and then a ghostly white shape shot out of her forehead and hit him between the eyes.
“Potter, would you mind telling me why you are pointing your wand at me?”
“I’m sorry, Professor,” he said at once, lowering his wand.
McGonagall looked at him sternly for a moment. Harry wasn’t sure what he should say.
“Well, Harry. I think I’ll be heading back.”
“Thanks for coming, Professor,” said Harry, blinking away the sparks in his vision.
“It just remains for me to give you Albus’ memory,” she said, fumbling inside her travelling cloak.
Harry, realising she must just be confused, said, “No, that’s alright, Professor.”
“Harry, the Headmaster was most insistent,” she said, holding up a small crystal phial. Inside, Harry could see a brightly glowing vapour.
“But,” he said in utter confusion.
“Here, Harry,” she said offering him the bottle. “Please give my regards to your friends, Harry.”
“I will,” said Harry, staring intently at the small bottle in his hand. “I’m not entirely sure when I’ll see Hermione, Professor, but she promised to be here before I leave.”
Hungry, Were You?
“Why did you hate my Mum so much?”
While Harry waits for Ron and Hermione to join him, Harry tries to talk to Aunt Petunia. Uncle Vernon is upset that Harry has invited his friends to stay.
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