- The Dark Arts
- Albus Dumbledore Harry Potter
- Angst Drama
- Multiple Eras
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 07/16/2004Updated: 07/16/2004Words: 1,826Chapters: 1Hits: 824
- Story Summary:
- As Harry and his mates are about to return from their tumultuous trip, they meet the one person they never thought they would see again.
- Author's Note:
- This story stands alone, but it is the finally to a group of related fics:
"It isn't ghosts who haunt the living," Luna said, in response to nobody, as they trouped glumly along on the road toward Greater Hangleton. "It's the other way round."
They had proceeded in silence for thirty seconds before Harry shook his head and said, "What?"
Luna proceeded as if there had been no interruption. "It's the pull of the living that keeps ghosts hanging around. We can't let them go."
"But," Harry said, "Nick said..."
Luna's focus, however, was elsewhere, as it so often was, and she didn't seem to be listening.
Ginny, however, seemed to be worrying at something. "It's memories that we hold on to. Memories of what we think really happened."
Ron glanced from Ginny on his one side to Luna on the other. Like Luna, and most unlike herself, Ginny was thoroughly not there. "I think this time travel thing has given us all the creeps," he said, catching Hermione's eye as she walked next to Harry.
"It will tend to do that," Hermione said. "It makes you realize how fragile the thread of coincidences is that leads from one event to another."
They all lapsed back into silence. Each of them was considering the apparent randomness of the events that had lead them to this moment, twenty-two years in their own past, and of the apparently random events that had changed their lives there.
After several more minutes of listening to blackbirds calling to each other, Harry muttered, "If it's so damned fragile, how the hell can there be such a thing as Divination?"
"Well," Hermione said, "that's why I stopped taking the class."
"Yes, fine, but that damned prophecy is part of why we're here. That damned prophecy has been part of everything the Order has done for the past eighteen years... or the next... or... Oh, never mind. But it's had everything to do with everything Voldemort's done ever since--to my parents, to me, what the LeStranges did to Neville's family. If it's all such rubbish, why are people dying over it?"
"I don't know," said Hermione. "Maybe true prophecy makes its own future, like a big whirlpool, pulling everything into it." She shook her head, displeased with the fuzziness of it all.
"Only bloke who ever seemed to be able to make any sense out of all that garbage was Dumbledore," Ron said. "He always seemed to be able to sort it all out. Wish he weren't dead."
They all flinched. Dumbledore's death the previous school year was a nightmare from which the whole student body was still trying to wake.
"Well," Hermione said, "he isn't dead here. Not that that's any consolation."
Ginny, "I dunno. There're a couple of things I'd like to ask him..."
Ron grunted, "Yeah. I imagine we've all got a few. You, Harry?"
Harry managed a weak laugh. "Of course, we wouldn't know where to track him. Did he stay at Hogwarts during the summer? I always wondered. He could be anywhere."
"As a matter of fact, Harry," said a familiar voice, "I am right here."
It would have been comic, had it happened to someone else. The five jumped, as one, like startled cats, and it didn't seem funny to them at all.
In the shade of an ancient oak stood the tall figure of Albus Dumbledore. He was dressed, disconcertingly, in a white jogger into the jacket of which he had tucked both his beard and hair. A pair of round, large sunglasses shaded his eyes.
"Professor." Harry, like the rest, stared open-mouthed at his late headmaster. One ghost in a morning seemed like plenty.
"You must be from the future as well," Hermione mused softly, "or you wouldn't know Harry."
"Well reasoned, Miss Granger," said Dumbledore, smiling beatifically, his large sunglasses reflecting the glare of the neighboring field. "Yes, I'm from the future. Though, judging by your conversation, not quite as far as your future."
Hermione stuttered and began to look around. Her eyes were glistening. Ron quietly touched her elbow.
Dumbledore sighed gently. "It is all right, Miss Granger. Given the way that things have been progressing, I have assumed that I would die around, what? The end of your sixth year?"
Harry, Ron and Hermione nodded mutely. Ginny was sniffling. Luna was simply looking at Dumbledore with an expression of vague perplexion.
"Yes," the old wizard said, suddenly looking his hundred and fifty years, in spite of the shiny trainers, the warm-up jacket and the sunglasses. He drew himself up to his considerable height. "Yes. Well, I know you're not supposed to tell me anything, but let me know this: you did finally get rid of Dolores Umbridge, didn't you?"
The students all nodded, almost in spite of themselves.
"Excellent," said Dumbledore, clapping his hands together. "I cannot say that I can find it in my heart truly to dislike very many people, but I regret to say that Dolores was one of them. She left thoroughly disgraced?" He held up his hand. "Don't tell me what happened to make her leave, just the manner of her leaving."
Again the students nodded. "She tried to sneak out, but Peeves chased her down to Hogsmeade with Professor McGonagall's walking stick," Ginny said. "Most of the school was watching and cheering."
"Ah!" said the late headmaster. "Wonderful! I knew keeping Peeves around would pay off eventually."
The five students smiled wanly.
"So, there were questions that wanted asking. Any of you?" Dumbledore's massive eyebrows arched eloquently.
Ginny started to say something, but then shook her head and looked at her shoes. Ron and Hermione followed suit.
"Miss Lovegood?" Dumbledore asked.
"Oh, not you, Professor, no. Someone else," said Luna. Ginny looked up and grunted, her eyes tearing up again.
"I see," Dumbledore said. "Time travel is... educational, but it does raise some questions, does it not?"
Luna and Ginny both nodded.
Dumbledore crossed his arms behind his back. "And you, Harry? Any questions?"
Harry looked up at the clouds that were scattered across the blue summer sky. "I'm not sure, sir..."
"Did you ever discover why you were dreaming about that corridor?"
"Oh, yes, sir. We all did. The five of us and Neville. I dragged them all in to the Department of Mysteries, but they, and Neville too, they helped..." He was about to tell Dumbledore about the battle, but he realized that would give him information that might change his behavior in ways that could in fact be dangerous.
Dumbledore nodded, apparently considering just the same consequences. "Did I ever tell you about what was behind that door?"
Harry nodded, relieved--here was a subject he could discuss without revealing anything, he was sure. "Yes, Professor, you told me about the prophecy."
"Did I? I'm so glad. I hoped that I would." Dumbledore did in fact look deeply relieved. "Any other questions that I might be able to answer?"
Harry frowned, his scar twisting beneath the unruly black mop of hair that he had attempted to blow dry for this trip back to the seventies. Then he looked up into Dumbledore's blue eyes. "Just this, Professor. I..." Harry looked around at his friends. They all looked as though they had been as shaken by their visit to 1976 as he had. Nonetheless, he wasn't sure he was ready to talk with them about meeting his mother, about what he had told her. "I met someone here and it got me thinking. Doesn't the simple fact of our coming back here at all change the future--I mean, the present?"
Dumbledore took off his sunglasses, revealing the pale, pale blue eyes that had never failed to transfix and to disquiet Harry. "Have you ever wondered," he said mildly, "why your name is Harry?"
"What?" Harry said with a start, wondering if Dumbledore might not truly be so gifted a Legilemens that he didn't need to cast a spell.
"Well, why not Harold, or Henry, or Hal? Or Albus, for that matter--perfectly good name, Albus." Dumbledore stared down at the bemused faces of his former students. "The past, present and future are all tied together in ways that are both infinitely fragile and infinitely complex. It is true that the movement of a butterfly's wing in China can alter the path of a hurricane in the Atlantic. But it is also true that destiny is very capable of tending to itself."
"'Time present and time past are all present in time future....'" Hermione whispered.
Dumbledore laughed as he put his sunglasses back on. "Well done again, Miss Granger! Yes, Mr. Eliot and I had some very interesting discussions about that when I was still an Auror." Dumbledore smiled and began to pat his pockets. "An absolute Muggle, but with any talent at all, he would have made a great wizard."
Ginny began to weep. When had Harry ever heard her cry before? The Chamber of Secrets, perhaps? No, not even then. Suddenly the weight of it all began to squeeze his insides until he found that he, too, was loosing a flood of tears.
"Well," said Dumbledore, "I must be going. I have some people I've been meaning to see." He began to walk down the road toward Little Hangleton. He waved to them. "Goodbye, Harry. Hermione. Ron. Luna. Ginny."
"Goodbye, Professor," they all muttered thickly.
He stopped and turned around. "Oh, Harry!" he called back.
"Yes, Professor?" Harry said through his tears.
"You're taking good care of Fawkes, aren't you?"
"Yes, Professor," Harry was barely able to choke out.
"Good. I knew you would." Dumbledore strode away, an old man in a shiny white running suit. They could barely here him singing, "Let's dance. Put on your red shoes, and dance the blues...."
As his voice faded, Hermione buried her face in Ron's chest and began to sob. Ron kissed the top of her head; tears dripped down from his long nose onto her hair.
How long before they tell me? Harry wondered. Should I tell them I know? There's so little joy in the world--they shouldn't have to hide it, he thought, even as the jealousy and envy of being the one not chosen nibbled at him. But then he realized they would tell him when they could. And, he guessed, that would probably be sometime soon.
He looked over to Ginny and Luna. Ginny was looking directly at him, though her eyes were unreadably dark. Luna was staring at something over his shoulder. Their hands were locked together. It was a different kind of intimacy from Ron and Hermione's, but an intimacy nonetheless.
Harry put one arm around both girls. Together, they embraced him. Ginny's hands wrapped themselves in Harry's shirt as she pulled him towards her. Harry could feel Luna vibrating under all of the stillness. From behind, Harry felt two more sets of arms snake themselves around him.
They all stood there for a while, feeling distinctly un-English.
"Come on," Harry said. "Let's go home."