You are With
A/N: I feel like this
story needs a bit of explanation. I have
decided to write two excerpts from HBP (there will be a sequel, entitled I
am With You) from Dumbledore’s POV, first
person, present tense. In other words,
I’m exploring Dumbledore’s stream of consciousness. It’s been rather a daunting project because I
am neither as wise nor as quirky as our beloved and (sob!) departed Professor,
but it’s been an obscene amount of fun.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
A/N 2: Many, many
thanks to Stella, my beta-reader,
who helped me with my capitalizations (or lack thereof) and with my
A/N 3: Updated for
Mrs. Black’s name, which we now know, and because my new beta-reader, Lady Narcissa
has graciously informed me that I’ve been doing EM dashes wrong all this time!
Part One: Silent Manners, Polite Pity
Drive, how little you’ve changed, how little I’ve
missed you. How long has it been? Harry was barely a year old last time, and is
now nearly sixteen. So nearly fifteen
Sadly, there will be no wise-eyed tabby cat waiting to turn
into a dear old colleague at my arrival, nor will a robust groundskeeper
arrive, riding a flying motorcycle belonging to a man who is now dead, and
carrying a precious bundle in his arms.
No, it is that precious bundle – now turned volatile
teenager – that I must now collect from this place, where I entrusted him those
fifteen years ago. And this time, I must
do it alone.
Once I find that blasted put-outer …. Ah, yes.
Click, click, click, click.
The street grows a little dimmer, a little dimmer, a little
dimmer, and dimmer yet. The meticulously
tended plants drink in the descending darkness, welcoming respite from the
harsh, electric light. They may have
known darkness like this as seedlings, surrounded by rich, blessed soil, but
once they broke into the blinding world, they would never know it again until
this moment. Perhaps now they can sleep
again for just a little while.
But this is no time to contemplate the well-being of Muggle
gardens. No, there is more important
business to attend to tonight.
Tap, tap, tap.
Quick, succinct strides carry me to number four, and I turn
at the garden path, observing the most rigidly structured garden on the
street. Rose bushes stand as sentinels,
square and evenly spaced. Agapanthus, held
in perfectly circular patches around perfectly straight trees by perfectly
shaped white wire fences, struggle to cast off their bonds (one particularly
valiant plant sends a leaf through the fence – it will be cut off soon, I don’t
doubt), and I ascend the steps to the highly polished door, ornamented with the
brass number “4”.
Knock, knock, knock.
“Who the blazes is calling at this
time of night?”
A brief pause. The owner of that loud, harsh voice stands up
with some difficulty (causing the floor to creak ever so slightly) and walks
toward the door, which opens to reveal a very large and very angry face, which,
by the way, does not offer so much as a “hello” in greeting.
“Good evening.” I
suppose someone must offer
salutations and niceties. “You must be
Mr. Dursley. I daresay Harry has told
you I would be coming for him.”
Shock. Apparently not.
A noise from the staircase heralds the arrival of Harry
Potter himself, who appears to have been in the process of packing, as he holds
a telescope in one hand and a rather worn pair of shoes in the other.
“Judging by your look of stunned disbelief, Harry did not warn you that I was coming.” Vernon Dursley continues to stare, seeming to
forget every good manner his mother may or may not have taught him. “However, let us assume that you have invited
me warmly into your house. It is unwise
to linger overlong on doorsteps in these troubled times.”
has the sense to move over slightly, however, it is still a bit of a squeeze to
traverse the threshold.
“It is a long time since my last visit. I must say, your agapanthus
are flourishing.” Despite your stifling care….
My, but this conversation seems to be heading in the
direction of nowhere rather quickly.
Best to speak to someone else. Ah,
“Ah, good evening, Harry.”
He looks, at the very least, to be safe and whole, if undernourished and
“I don’t mean to be rude—” Had I no manners, I might have laughed
“—yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly
often. Best to say
nothing at all, my dear man.” But
I just could not resist a subtle jab.
“Ah, and this must be Petunia.”
For Petunia Dursley (née Evans, though that is sometimes
hard to believe) has just entered by way of what must be the door to the
kitchen. She seems just as shocked as
her husband. Just as speechless.
Understandable, as I tend to be a formidable figure to Muggles. Though I’ve never quite understood why….
“Albus Dumbledore. We
have corresponded, of course.” Silence. This is
rather a lot like speaking to oneself, except less interesting. At least I offer myself some sort of response. “And this must be your son, Dudley?”
An extremely large and frightened young man has just entered
the room. Yet more silence. This has long since become tiresome.
“Shall we assume that you have invited me into your sitting
No answer. I shall
take that for a yes.
Young Dudley hastens out of my path (though I am not sure
the action is motivated so much by manners as by extreme fright) while Harry
jumps the remainder of the stairs below him and takes his place standing next
to the armchair I have chosen to sit in.
That is really an extraordinary wallpaper pattern. I wonder if I might not be able to find such
a pattern at Gladrags for my next set of dress robes….
“Aren’t — aren’t we leaving, sir?” Harry speaks for the first time this evening. It is a pleasure to hear another human
voice. I’m afraid my own has long since
“Yes, indeed we are, but there are a few matters we need to
discuss first, and I would prefer not to do so in the open. We shall trespass on your aunt and uncle’s
hospitality” — or lack thereof — “only a little longer.”
“You will, will you?”
The Dursleys have clumped themselves in the middle of the
room, Petunia beside her husband, young Dudley making a valiant effort to hide
behind the two of them.
“Yes, I shall.”
They look so very tense.
They could certainly do with a bit of relaxation.
That is easily provided.
Sofa. “We may as well be
That was far more fun than it should have been.
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Harry’s eyes dart,
horror-stricken, toward my shriveled hand.
“Sir — what happened to your —?”
“Later, Harry. Please
Harry does so.
“I would assume that you were going to offer me refreshment,
but the evidence so far suggests that that would be optimistic to the point of
I believe a nice bottle of mead is in order, and perhaps
another opportunity to terrorize our muggle friends? Oh, but I am being dreadfully wicked this evening.
“Madam Rosmerta’s finest oak-matured mead.” The goblets make their way toward each
inhabitant of the room. Harry takes his
and drinks, good man. Perhaps the
Dursleys might avoid an extremely uncomfortable fate? But, no, as I had predicted, they have
abandoned good manners for the fear — the completely unfounded fear — that I
might poison them. This should prove to
be quite amusing.
But now to more pressing matters.
“Well, Harry, a difficulty has arisen which I hope you will
be able to solve for us. By us, I mean the Order of the Phoenix. But first of all I must tell you that
Sirius’s will was discovered a week ago and that he left you everything he
I sense a certain attitude in the room shifting from that of
anger and fear to that of vulture-like interest. The edge of my vision catches an eager face,
momentarily oblivious to the goblet that gently nudges it. But Vernon Dursley need not touch a Knut of
this young man’s inheritance.
Harry, in stark and sad contrast to his uncle, is merely
disappointed to remember something that had just slipped out of his mind,
perhaps for the first time this summer.
“Oh, right.” His voice carries a
deadness that should not belong to the voice of a man so
young as himself.
“This is, in the main, fairly straightforward. You add a reasonable amount of gold to your
account at Gringotts, and you inherit all of Sirius’s personal
possessions. The slightly problematic
part of the legacy—”
“His godfather’s dead?”
The nerve. As if he had cared when
Sirius was alive.
“He’s dead? His godfather?”
“Yes.” As I was saying… “Our
problem is that Sirius also left you number twelve, Grimmauld Place.”
“He’s been left a house?”
I should almost like to persuade Harry to give Grimmauld Place to
Mr. Dursley, just to see his reaction upon stepping over the threshold. But then there would be Fidelius to deal
with, not to mention all of the anti-Muggle magic that no doubt surrounds the
place. Ah well. A man can dream….
“You can keep using it as headquarters, I don’t care. You can have it, I don’t really want it.”
That is understandable.
“That is generous. We
have, however, vacated the building temporarily.”
The situation on the sofa grows ever more hilarious. Of course, for all intents and purposes, I take
no notice of it at the moment.
“Well, Black family tradition decreed that the house was
handed down the direct line, to the next male with the name of ‘Black.’ Sirius was the very last of the line as his
younger brother, Regulus, predeceased him and both were childless. While his will makes it perfectly plain that
he wants you to have the house, it is nevertheless possible that some spell or
enchantment has been set upon the place to ensure that it cannot be owned by
anyone other than a pureblood.”
“I bet there has.” I
sense an image of Mrs. Walburga Black’s captivating
portrait flashing into Harry’s thoughts.
A very apt connection.
“Quite. And if such
an enchantment exists, then the ownership of the house is most likely to pass
to the eldest of Sirius’s living relatives, which
would mean his cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange.”
Harry jumps to his feet, unceremoniously dropping the
possessions that had been resting on his lap. “No,” is his defiant and
admirable answer to that ridiculous proposition.
“Well, obviously we would prefer that she didn’t get it
either. The situation is fraught with
complications. We do not know whether
the enchantments we ourselves have placed upon it, for example, making it
Unplottable, will hold now that ownership has passed from Sirius’s hands. It might be that Bellatrix will arrive on the
doorstep at any moment. Naturally we had
to move out until such time as we have clarified the position.”
“But how are you going to find out if I’m allowed to own
“Fortunately, there is a simple test.”
We shall have to see how the Dursleys react to this.
“Will you get these
ruddy things off us?”
Speaking of whom, said family has now become quite a sight
to behold. My charmed glasses are having
the time of their lives bouncing noisily (and rather sloppily, I might add) on
top of each respective Dursley’s head.
It seems such a shame to ruin the glasses’ fun, but Mr. Dursley has asked (though rather impolitely) to
have them removed, so I suppose…
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” A simple (but reluctantly performed)
vanishing spell takes care of the matter.
“But it would have been better manners to drink it, you know.”
I’ll show you manners,
you unnatural, disrespectful, crackpot old —
Yes, Mr. Dursley, that
WHAT IN THE BLAZES ARE
YOU DOING INSIDE MY HEAD??
at all. And if it is all the same to you, I shall be
leaving. Your mind is not at all a
“You see,” I return to Harry, “if you have indeed inherited
the house, you have also inherited—”
The general reaction is amusing as it is predictable. The
vein on Mr. Dursley’s forehead, which has been abnormally large all evening
(one must wonder if that is a permanent feature on his face) grows ever larger
at an alarming rate. Mrs. Dursley lets out an indelicate shriek, while the
young Mr. Dursley, his eyes fit to escape the confines of their sockets,
hastily draws his feet up from the ground.
Also predictable, but certainly not amusing is Harry’s
reaction. He regards the elf with pure
and unveiled contempt.
“What the hell is
Ah, Mr. Dursley seems to have regained the capacity to
speak. A pity.
“Kreacher won’t, Kreacher won’t, Kreacher
Yes, yes, so we’ve heard.
“Kreacher belongs to Miss Bellatrix, oh yes, Kreacher
belongs to the Blacks, Kreacher wants his new mistress, Kreacher won’t go to
the Potter brat, Kreacher won’t, won’t, won’t—”
“As you can see, Harry, Kreacher is showing a certain
reluctance to pass into your ownership.”
That may very well be the understatement of the century, although I’d
have to look into that.
Harry’s eyes, narrowed in contempt, still haven’t left the
old house-elf. “I don’t care. I don’t want him.”
“Won’t, won’t, won’t,
“You would prefer him to pass into the ownership of
Bellatrix Lestrange? Bearing in mind
that he has lived at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix for the past year?”
The words have their desired effect. Harry cannot, in good conscience, let this
elf (on whom I would dearly wish to cast a silencing spell) go into enemy hands.
“Give him an order.
If he has passed into your ownership, he will have to obey. If not, then we shall have to think of some
other means of keeping him from his rightful mistress.”
Kreacher’s cries still rend the air, whereas no other voice
in the room can be heard. Harry’s brow creases, first in thought, then in
“Kreacher, shut up!”
Silence. Blessed silence.
“Well, that simplifies matters. It seems that Sirius knew what he was
doing. You are the rightful owner of
number twelve, Grimmauld Place
and of Kreacher.”
“Do I — do I have to keep him with me?”
Ah yes, I’d anticipated this.
“Not if you don’t want to.”
“If I might make a suggestion, you could send him to Hogwarts to work in
the kitchen there. In that way, the other
house-elves could keep an eye on him.”
My, but the Hogwarts kitchen is becoming a bit of a mad
house, isn’t it? Whatever must the respectable house-elves think of me, hiring all of these
“Yeah,” Harry says, “yeah, I’ll do that. Er — Kreacher — I want you to go to Hogwarts
and work in the kitchens there with the other house-elves.”
“Good.” Another matter taken care of. “There is also the matter of the Hippogriff,
Buckbeak. Hagrid has been looking after
him since Sirius died, but Buckbeak is yours now, so if you would prefer to
make different arrangements—”
“No, he can stay with Hagrid. I think Buckbeak would prefer that.”
That he would. He is
in need of a chance to spread his wings …
“Hagrid will be delighted.
He was thrilled to see Buckbeak again.”
Speaking of wings…
“Incidentally, we have decided, in the interests of
Buckbeak’s safety, to rechristen him ‘Witherwings’ for the time being, though I
doubt that the Ministry would ever guess he is the hippogriff they once
sentenced to death. Now, Harry, is your
Hesitation. The expression on his face explains all.
“Doubtful that I would turn up?”
“I’ll just go and — er — finish off.”
Which leaves me solely in the company of
this delightful family. I will
not attempt to make conversation, as all attempts thus far have proven to be
utterly futile. A
pity. It seems that of all of the
things this family needs, a good conversation is very near the top of the list.
This room could use a fireplace. Indeed, I have heard tell of a certain event
that took place here nearly two years ago in which a fireplace would have saved
the Dursleys a great deal of trouble and trauma, but quite apart from magical
traveling needs, a fireplace might add a modicum of warmth to this cold
environment (and I use the words “warm” and “cold” in a figurative sense). The temperature here is comfortable enough,
as one would expect from a well-to-do family, but the atmosphere has all of the
warmth of a Dementor that has caught influenza.
Perhaps a bit of music? I remember a Ravenclaw student — Miss Elisa
Abignente, I believe her name was — who came up with a particularly moving
rendition of the school song quite a few years back. If I could only remember
how it goes… ah, yes…
Hoggy, warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something
“Professor — I’m ready now.”
“Good. Just one last thing then.” I turn to the Dursleys. “As you will no doubt be aware, Harry comes
of age in a year’s time—”
Ah, so the woman can
That was as much an apology as a query for clarification:
that was a horrible thing for me to think.
“No, he doesn’t. He’s
a month younger than Dudley, and Dudders doesn’t turn eighteen until the year after next.”
Revolting nickname aside, that was a valid concern.
“Ah, but in the Wizarding world, we come of age at
If you say so.
“Now, as you already know, the wizard called Lord Voldemort
has returned to this country. The Wizarding
community is currently in a state of open warfare. Harry, whom Lord Voldemort has already
attempted to kill on a number of occasions, is in even greater danger now than
the day when I left him upon your doorstep fifteen years ago, with a letter explaining
about his parents’ murder and expressing the hope that you would care for him
as though he were your own.”
It is now time, Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, for you to learn my
real opinion of you, though I doubt you will go to any great lengths to take it
“You did not do as I asked.
You have never treated Harry as a son.
He has known nothing but neglect and often cruelty at your hands. The best that can be said is that he has at
least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon the unfortunate boy
sitting between you.”
Surprise. Incredulity. Both parents turn to face their son, as
though expecting another boy to be there.
Both are blind to the real truth of the matter, trapped in their mundane
lives, forcing their offspring to follow in their pitiable footsteps.
“Us — mistreat Dudders? What d’you—?”
none of that, Mr. Dursley.
WILL YOU GET THE
“The magic I evoked fifteen years ago means that Harry has
powerful protection while he can still call this house ‘home.’ However miserable he has been here, however
unwelcome, however badly treated, you have at least, grudgingly, allowed him
houseroom. This magic will cease to
operate the moment that Harry turns seventeen; in other words, at the moment he
becomes a man. I ask only this: that you
allow Harry to return, once more, to this house, before his seventeenth
birthday, which will ensure that the protection continues until that time.”
I allow myself one last, long look at the Dursley family,
sitting distraught and confused in their immaculate home. It is these people, not the poor, imprisoned,
or handicapped, that I pity most. They
have all that they want, but nothing that they need.
“Well, Harry… time for us to be off.” And to the Dursleys: “Until we meet again.”
Harry bids his family (if one might call them that) a short
farewell, and follows me to the front door.
“We do not want to be encumbered by these just now.” I indicate Harry’s rather bulky luggage. “I shall send them to the Burrow to await us
there. However, I would like you to
bring your Invisibility Cloak… just in case.”
Harry obeys, and a simple banishment spell sends Harry’s
possessions on ahead of us. Another
spell opens the door to the world beyond.
“And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue
that flighty temptress, adventure.”
A/N 4: Elisa Abignente
was originally an OFC of mine – a muggleborn Italian aristocrat and
musician. I’ve attempted to insert her
into a few different fics, none of which turned out to be anything at all. So, she is now a cameo in Dumbledore’s
memory. Perhaps I shall bring her out for the world to see one of these days,
as I do like her very much. On a
completely different note, my updating on this fic will probably be a bit
sporadic at best. I started this around Labor Day, if that gives you any idea.
Still, I fully intend on finishing Part
Two: Chill of Midnight, Warmth of Chimes before the end of my Christmas