It was 11:48 p.m. on July 30th, a
time when any reasonable person, according to the residents of Privet Drive, in Little Whinging, Surrey, would be asleep. However, in the smallest bedroom
of Number 4, a tall teenage boy with jet black hair, bright green eyes and a
lightening shaped scar over his right eyebrow paced back and forth with an
extreme intensity. This boy’s name was Harry Potter. A teenage girl and boy
sat on his bed watching him apprehensively. The girl had bushy brown hair and
brown eyes that were clouded with concern, and her name was Hermione Granger.
She sat with her hand entwined with the boy’s, who was very tall with shocking
red hair and watching Harry with a mixture of apprehension and bemusement. His
name was Ron Weasley.
“Harry, mate, why don’t you sit down? Your seventeenth
birthday won’t come sooner no matter how fast you pace. And besides, you’ll
wear out the floor,” said Ron.
Harry gave no answer except to push his
eyebrows even closer together and step up his pace.
“Yes, Harry, Ron’s had a good idea. Relax a
bit, won’t you?” said Hermione cajolingly.
Finally, Harry stopped pacing. He turned to Ron and Hermione and said, “Look. I’m worried, all right? Professor Dumbledore-“ Harry gulped. It was still hard to talk about his former mentor without leaking a few tears.
Hardening his resolve, he went on, “Professor Dumbledore told the Dursleys that
the moment I turned seventeen, Voldemort would be able to get to me at Privet Drive. I can’t have him find me yet – I haven’t destroyed all of the horcruxes!
He’s still got his soul scattered everywhere and he’ll be impossible to kill.
If he comes to Privet Drive right now, I dunno what’ll happen.” Harry’s face contorted in worry again and he resumed his relentless pacing.
“Yes, yes, of course you’re worried, Harry,” Hermione said gently. “But you’re just making yourself more nervous. Sit down and
have something to eat. Here –“ Hermione reached into a package beside Harry’s bed, “-have a pasty; Ron’s mum sent them; I’m sure they’re quite good.”
“Pass one of those to me, won’t you, Hermione?”
asked Ron. Hermione glared at him, but nevertheless produced a pasty and
handed it to Ron. He took a bite of it, closed his eyes while chewing
extremely slowly as though trying to savor the moment, swallowed, opened his
eyes, and looked at Harry. “Excellent,” he breathed. Because Ron and Hermione had been staying with Harry ever since the end of term, they had been treated
to a month or so of the Dursleys so – called food. When Mrs. Weasley’s package
of real food arrived they had been overjoyed. Ron gave the bag of food a look
normally reserved for religious figures and commented, “Harry, you don’t know
what you’re missing.”
Harry hesitated. He had been treated to Mrs. Weasley’s cooking before, and therefore knew exactly what he was missing. And he
supposed that Hermione was right: his birthday would be here when it would be
here whether he paced his room or not. With this thought, he took the pasty
Hermione offered and sat down next to Ron. Suddenly, Harry realized he had not
looked at the clock recently. He flung his head around to look at the clock so
quickly Ron and Hermione started. He closed his eyes tightly, took a deep
breath, opened his eyes and exhaled. Only 11:55. Harry gave an inward groan;
he hated waiting for something to happen. No one said anything for quite a
“Don’t worry, Harry. You – Know – Who isn’t
going to come to a house full of Muggles,” said Ron at last, bracingly.
“Why not?” asked Harry shortly. “Doesn’t
really seem to mind killing, does he? Suspect he’d be glad to get rid of a
couple more Muggles, especially as they’re related to me.”
“Don’t be stupid, Harry. You – Know – Who
isn’t going to risk detection-“ began Ron.
“Hush, both of you!” Hermione interrupted
them. “Look!” She pointed at the clock. It was 11:59. Harry stood up and pulled out his wand. All three of them took a deep breath as the clock
changed to 12:00.
Suddenly, there was a soft pop and a figure
appeared in Harry’s bedroom. Without thinking about it, Harry, Ron, and Hermione yelled, “Expelliarmus!”
A wand flew through the air and the person was
knocked backward into the chair at Harry’s desk. Ron reached and out and
caught the wand deftly. “Lumos,” said Harry hastily, lighting his wand to see
who had interrupted them, while Hermione and Ron kept their wands trained on
“Potter! What is the meaning of this?”
“Professor McGonagall?” Harry asked astoundedly, addressing the
figure that, with the aid of his wand, he could now see was the Transfiguration
teacher and new Headmistress at Hogwarts.
“Quite correct!” she said, glaring at him. “I’ll
have my wand, Weasley,” she added, snatching it from a dumbfounded Ron. “And then you three can explain why you attacked me.”
“Sorry, Professor,” said Harry quickly.
“We didn’t see it was you, Professor; we’re so
sorry,” Hermione added.
After Hermione gave Ron’s hand a particularly
tight and painful squeeze he said quickly, “Oh! Yeah, sorry, Professor.”
“Why are you two here?” demanded Professor McGonagall, gesturing to Ron and Hermione.
“Oh, umm…” said Ron eloquently.
“Why are you here, Professor?” Harry threw back at her.
“I? I am here because… because…” she
“Because Professor Dumbledore told you that
once I turned seventeen this house would no longer protect me.” Harry concluded for her. “And you thought the same thing I did.”
“Did I? Since when have you been able to read
minds, Potter?” snapped Professor McGonagall.
“You thought Voldemort might show up after I
turned seventeen to kill me.”
Professor McGonagall’s gaze softened. “Yes,
Potter, that is what I thought.” Her tone then lost its gentleness. “And I
presume Weasley and Miss Granger thought to protect you as well.”
Ron and Hermione nodded.
“Well, I suggest we leave this house
immediately,” said Professor McGonagall briskly. “I’ve written a note for your
aunt and uncle that I’m going to leave on their nightstand while you three pack
your things. We’ll Apparate back.”
Ron and Hermione began to gather their things.
Harry hesitated. He had no intention of staying at Privet Drive, but he
suspected that Professor McGonagall might intend for him to go back to school,
and that was certainly not going to happen.
Professor McGonagall withdrew a note from a
pocket in her robe and walked to the door. When she noticed that Harry had not moved, she snapped, “Potter! What part of ‘pack your things’ did you not
Harry looked her straight in the eye, deciding
on the spot that honesty was the best policy here. “I’m not going back to
Professor McGonagall looked at him with the air
of one trying to decide whether she would have the most success fighting this
battle now or later. Evidently she decided that it would be best to deal with
it now, because she asked him sharply, “Why not?”
Harry hesitated. Finally, he said
straightforwardly, “I’ve got to destroy Voldemort.”
“We’re not going back either,” added Ron, gesturing to himself and Hermione as the two of them came to stand next to Harry. “We’re going to help.” Hermione nodded her assent.
Professor McGonagall eyed all three of them
beadily for a moment or two. Harry thought he saw a tear or two leak out of
her eye, but when she spoke, it was in a calm and controlled tone. “I’m not
taking you to school, Potter. Molly Weasley asked me to come and take the
three of you to the Burrow for Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s wedding. Whatever
you want to do will wait until after the wedding, understand?”
Surprised, Harry nodded mutely. He joined the
other two in gathering their things. Professor McGonagall spoke again. “Is
there anything you would like me to add to their letter from you, Potter?”
Harry gave an inward, bitter chuckle. As if
the Dursleys cared about him! “You can add that I say that if Dudley ever wants to do anything but be a boxer, he ought to try not punching everyone he
sees. And that he looks ridiculous in his Smeltings Uniform.”
Professor McGonagall gave him a stern look.
“Be serious, Potter.”
Harry hesitated. He remembered Aunt Petunia’s reaction to the news that Voldemort had come back, remembered how she seemed to
understand what that meant. He did not feel right leaving her, at least,
without some form of protection. It seemed reasonable that Voldemort would, at
some point, visit Number 4. Harry did not want to be responsible for the death
of three defenseless Muggles, stupid idiots though they all undoubtedly were.
“Er, Professor, is there some way that my aunt and uncle would be able to
contact me immediately and secretly and I’d know they needed me? Some charm,
Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrows. “I’d
think you’d know all about secret communications, Potter.” She opened a pocket
in her robe and drew out a money bag. Next, she pulled out two knuts and
handed them to Harry, who took them, completely perplexed. He had no idea what
he was supposed to do.
“Oooo!” said Hermione, who had evidently been
listening all along. “Of course! Just like the coins in the D.A.” She hurried
over to Harry, took the two coins and looked at them for a moment. “Of course,
it’ll be slightly different, you won’t need to change the numbers, perhaps I
could get them to heat up...” Nodding, Hermione took out her wand and pointed
it at the coins while muttering an inaudible incantation. Looking thoroughly
pleased with herself, Hermione handed the coins back to Harry. “If your aunt
or uncle squeezes this coin, it’ll make the other one warm so you’ll know they
Harry stared at her in amazement. “Does it really
Hermione snorted in reply. “Of course it
works. Would I have told you it did if it didn’t?”
“Of course, sorry,” Harry said quickly. “So, Professor,
can you add note for only my aunt?”
Professor McGonagall glared at him. “Yes,
Potter, I can.”
“Er, right. So tell my aunt that if she needs
to communicate with me immediately, if Voldemort is standing next to her about
ready to kill her, then she can squeeze this coin and I’ll appear next to her
Professor McGonagall was not quite able to
completely suppress the ghost of a proud smile as she added Harry’s message to the note and folded in with it one of the knuts Hermione had charmed.
“Now then. I’m going to go leave this note for
Potter’s aunt and uncle and when I come back I expect to find all three of you
packed.” She then swept from the room.
Harry looked at his stuff that was scattered
throughout the room. Hermione grinned at him and said, “Harry, you don’t have
to do this manually anymore, you’re seventeen. The charm’s ‘-Pack-.’ “
Harry grinned back at her. “Right. Pack!”
Much to his dismay, all that happened was a few books halfheartedly flopped
their way into his trunk. Ron laughed.
“Don’t feel bad, Harry, Ron’s not very good at
it either,” she said, with an admonishing look at Ron. “Here. I’ll help. Pack!”
she said commandingly. All of Harry’s stuff fell neatly into his trunk (even
the socks folded themselves) as Ron let out a little whistle. “Wow, Hermoine.”
Hermione smiled appreciatively at him as Professor McGonagall reentered the room.
“Right. Now, I believe you can Apparate, Miss Granger, yes?” Hermione nodded. “Then Weasley, you will Apparate along with Miss Granger, and Potter, you will come with me.” Harry and Ron did as they were told. “Right
then,” said Professor McGonagall briskly. “On the count of three. One, two,
three.” There were two simultaneous quiet pops and the four of them left Privet Drive. Harry gave an internal sigh as he felt the now familiar feeling of his
insides being squeezed out of him.
Seconds later, the four of them arrived in
front of one of Harry’s favorite places in the world, the Burrow. Harry felt his spirits soar just looking at it. Ron and Hermione headed toward the house. He
attempted to follow them, but Professor McGonagall grasped his shoulder
firmly. Ron and Hermione turned back and waited for Harry. Professor McGonagall addressed them, “Go ahead, Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger. I’d like a word with
Potter, please.” Ron and Hermione looked at Harry questioningly. He shrugged
and mouthed “Go ahead; I’m fine,” behind Professor McGonagall’s back. They
turned and walked into the house.
“This way, Potter,” said Professor McGonagall briskly. She led him to a small broom shed in the Weasley’s backyard where, Harry remembered suddenly, he and Dumbledore had spoken almost exactly a year ago. How his
life had changed! Once they were both in the shed, he was snapped out of his
reverie by Professor McGonagall sitting him down on an upturned bucket and then
sitting herself down across from him. She then said gently, “Now then, Harry.
I must ask you again the question I asked you at the end of last term. I am
confident that you will see the matter in a different light, now that Professor Dumbledore’s death has had a chance to sink in. What were the two of you doing the
night he died?”
Harry looked at her for moment, mentally scolding
himself for not expecting this. He sighed and said the only thing he could
say, “Professor, I’m really sorry, but Professor Dumbledore told me never to
Professor McGonagall completely lost her
maternal air and snapped, “Potter! I know you and Professor Dumbledore were very
close, and it is understandable that you would not want to break your promise
to him, but whatever you were doing that night may be crucial to the success of
the Order! You want to defeat Voldemort, don’t you? I would think that you
would want to give the Order all the help you can in defeating the man that has
robbed you of everyone you ever loved!”
Harry felt a feeling of determination and
recklessness sweep over him. “That’s right, Professor,” he said fiercely. “I
want to defeat him. I have to defeat him. Professor Dumbledore
told me everything I need to know to kill him; I know that that’s what he
wanted to me to do. Voldemort’s going to die, and I’m going to be the one to
do it.” He met her dark eyes with his own bright green ones, feeling himself
fill with pride and relief, knowing that every word he said was true. He knew
how to defeat Voldemort; he had the power to defeat Voldemort. Now the time
had come for him to begin.
Professor McGonagall looked away for a moment.
“You’re determined to do this.”
It was not a question, but Harry answered it anyway. “Yes.”
“Very well. I should’ve known that would be
your answer.” Harry suspected that she had known perfectly well what he
was going to say, but he supposed that she felt that she ought to at least try
to stop him.
She stood. “Then listen to me, Potter. I have
two very important things to say to you. The first is that should you ever
need help, you can come to the Order and me and we will do whatever we can to
help. You have our support. Do you understand?” Harry nodded and she went
on. “Now. Professor Dumbledore apparently suspected that he would die because
he left a will of sorts.”
Harry’s curiosity was perked. “A will? What
do you mean, Professor?”
“Don’t interrupt, Potter,” she snapped. “As I
was saying, Professor Dumbledore left a will. He left you something, along
with a note.” With these words, she took a small wooden box from her pocket
along with a note in a sealed envelope and offered them to Harry. He took them quickly, trying to conceal his excitement.
“What’s in it, Professor?”
She looked surprised that he asked. “I do not
know; I have not opened it. He wished it to go expressly to you.”
“Oh,” said Harry. When Professor McGonagall said nothing else for a moment, he tried his luck and asked, “Er, may I go
She nodded. “Yes, I suppose so.”
Harry stood and left the broom shed and headed
toward the front door of the Burrow, his heart pounding as he considered what
might be inside of the package, Professor McGonagall at his heels.
Harry knocked on the door and he heard Mrs. Weasley’s voice say quickly, “Who is it?”
“It’s Harry, Mrs. Weasley. With Professor
Mc-“ But his statement was cut short by a pair of hands pulling him roughly
into the house and hugging him fiercely. “Harry, oh Harry, you’re all right!”
Mrs. Weasley hugged him again and then brought him into the light and began
suggesting different food items he might enjoy, as he was skinnier than she
“Hello, Molly,” said Professor McGonagall.
“Oh, Minerva!” said Mrs. Weasley courteously.
“How are you? Would you like some soup?”
“No thank you,” said Professor McGonagall. “I
must be off. There are lots of things to do tonight.”
“Oh, of course!” said Mrs. Weasley as she sat
Harry down at the table and plunked a bowl of hot soup and piece of bread in
front of him.
Harry ate down his food as quickly as possible;
he was very eager to get upstairs and look in the little box. When he had
finished, he said that he should get a little sleep.
“Of course, you’re probably exhausted. Now,
Hermione’s sleeping with Ginny and you’ll be sleeping with Ron. I’m sure they’re asleep, so try not to wake them,” said Mrs. Weasley.
When Harry arrived upstairs he was not
surprised to see Ron and Hermione waiting for him in his room, wide awake.
“What’d McGonagall want?” asked Ron immediately.
“She gave me something.” Harry produced the
small box. “Said that Dumbledore had made a will and wanted me to have this. She
didn’t know what was in it. She hadn’t opened it.” Harry decided not to tell
them about them about the note; he would read that later, in private.
“Well?” said Ron eagerly. “Open it!”
Harry examined the box. “I don’t know how,” he
said confusedly. There was no keyhole and no way to lift the lid; indeed, it
did not even appear to have a lid.
“Let me see it,” said Hermione briskly. She
made a lot of funny wand movements over it and her lips moved soundlessly, but
nothing happened. Hermione sat back, completely perplexed. “I don’t know why
it won’t open. I’ve tried everything I know.”
Harry took it back and flipped it over. On the
bottom of the box, he noticed a small carved lion. Harry traced the lion with
his index finger, and, much to his surprise, the box leapt off his hand, landed
on the carpet, and transformed into a full sized cabinet, at least three feet
tall and two feet deep. The three of them stared at it. The lion was now in
the place a keyhole would be. Ron pressed his finger to the lion, but nothing
happened. Harry leaned forward and did the same, and suddenly, the front of
the cabinet disappeared, revealing at least a hundred small bottles. Harry took one of them from the cabinet and read the label. “Subject: Severus Snape. Taken
from: Albus Dumbledore. Date: 1975.”
“What are they?” said Ron, dumbfounded.
“Potions or something?”
“No,” said Harry in awe. “They’re memories.”
“Memories?” repeated Ron and Hermione.
“Yeah. They’re exactly like the ones
Dumbledore showed me last year. He must have collected memories from loads of
people. This one must be a memory Dumbledore had about Snape during 1975.”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione stared at all of the
bottles in amazement. Harry’s eyes roved over the labels. Among the many
names on the bottles were his parents’, Sirius’s, Lupin’s, Voldemort’s,
Pettigrew’s, and even, Harry was surprised to see, his own.
“The possibilities are overwhelming,” muttered
Hermione. “There’s so much here, Harry, everything we’ll need.”
Harry nodded mutely.
“Wait a minute,” said Ron suddenly. “These
memories aren’t going to be any help at all unless we’ve got a Pensieve.”
Harry’s heart gave a jolt. Ron was right. “It’s got to be here somewhere,” said Harry. “Dumbledore wouldn’t have
forgotten that.” The three of them looked the cabinet over, looking for a
hidden drawer or something similar. Come on! Harry thought, frustrated.
Dumbledore would not have forgotten this! In his frustration, Harry tripped over his own feet, fell into the cabinet and his hand knocked a small carving of
a patched, frayed hat. Much to his surprise and delight, the Pensieve appeared
on top of the cabinet.
“Wow!” said Ron. “How’d you do that?”
“I tripped and my hand knocked that little
carving of that hat.”
Hermione looked at it thoughtfully. Ron leaned forward and pressed the hat. Nothing happened and Hermione did not look surprised.
“Harry, touch that hat again,” she said suddenly.
Harry looked at her. “Why?”
She glared at him. “Just do it!”
He sighed and pressed the hat. The Pensieve
“Brilliant!” Harry snapped at her. “Now it’s
Hermione looked pleased with herself, and when
he snapped at her, she gave him a patronizing look. “Press it again,” she said
slowly, as though explaining something very complicated to a very small child.
Harry pressed the hat again and the Pensieve
reappeared. Now Hermione looked extremely pleased with herself. “Will you please explain what’s going on?” snapped Ron.
Hermione smiled at them both. “Dumbledore’s
bewitched the box. Only Harry will be able to work it.”
Ron and Harry made small noises of
“Now then,” said Hermione, sounding remarkably
like Mrs. Weasley. “Incredible though this undoubtedly is, it’s very late, and
we all ought to get some rest. I suggest you close this up until morning, Harry.”
Much as though he would love to explore it all
now, he knew Hermione was right. He pressed the hat again to make the Pensieve
disappear, and the lion twice to make the door reappear and then make the box
shrink up again. Hermione left the room after telling both boys goodnight. Ron, exhausted, crawled into his bed with a muttered goodnight to Harry. Harry climbed into
his bed, but did not go to sleep. He took out his wand and whispered “Lumos.”
Next, he pulled out the letter that Dumbledore had given him and opened it.
His heart gave a jolt when he saw that familiar narrow, slanting handwriting.
His hands shook as he opened it and bent over close to read it by the dim light
of his wand.
me to begin by wishing you a Happy 17th Birthday. I have never
given you a birthday present, and would like you to consider what resides in
the small box that Professor McGonagall undoubtedly gave you along with this
letter seventeen years worth of birthday presents. Inside that box, Harry, is every memory I have ever collected. I believe you have earned the right to see them
all. View them with an open mind and learn what you can from them.
know that because you are reading this letter, I have died. It is extremely
important, Harry, that you do not dwell on this. You are strong enough to deal
with Voldemort, Harry; you no longer have need of me. On the subject of
dealing with Voldemort, there are a few things I wish to remind you of.
Firstly, though you have undoubtedly remembered, it is absolutely crucial that
you find and destroy all of Voldemort’s four remaining Horcruxes before you
attempt to destroy the piece that resides in his body. Secondly, you should
also remember that the power that you must use to defeat Voldemort is love.
That is and has always been Voldemort’s weakness. I trust that in time you
will discover exactly how this will help you. Thirdly, remember that no matter
what the prophecy says, no matter what anyone may ever say to you, you always
have a choice in everything you do. Lastly, Harry, you should remember how
truly remarkable you are. I have never met any person before with the strength
of character that you possess.
have the utmost faith in you, Harry. You are capable of the task set before
you. It has been a pleasure teaching you, Harry, and, if I may do so, I would
make one more suggestion. I never got around to offering you a lemon drop.
They are truly excellent and if you ever get a chance, you should certainly try
one or two of them.
Harry felt a smile break through the tears
streaming down his face. He would miss Professor Dumbledore; there was no
doubt about that. However, he would see to it that he, and Sirius, and his mum
and dad did not die in vain. He would find Lord Voldemort and finish him off.
His search would be difficult and fraught with worry, he was sure. But for
now, he was in a comfortable bed in the same house with his two best friends
and his favorite family in the world, and he could hardly begin searching for
Voldemort without a proper night’s sleep. A quiet smile crept across Harry’s face, and without another thought, he fell asleep.