THE PORCRUX SPEAKS
"Is it true, Albus?" asked McGonagall, "You have actually achieved a Porcrux?"
"It would appear so, Minerva," the portrait responded, "although it is difficult to tell from my vantage point. You see, even though I can make many memory connections, there are great gaps that I can only fill by guess and deduction. I attribute this marvelous turn of events to the five of you. Without the quality of your reading, without your care for the details, without your friendship..." the image of Dumbledore turned slightly and winked at Harry, "I would be, at best, snoozing in my frame and, at worst, I would be a memory orb lost in the Ministry of Magic."
Harry turned these words over in his mind. He had so many questions for Dumbledore he didn't know where to begin. He turned to face the portrait and began, "Professor, I was wondering..."
Dumbledore cut him off in mid sentence. "Harry, I imagine that you are bursting with questions. I will answer all that I can, in time. For now we have a few items that have to be addressed immediately. You see, according to wizard law, let me see if I can quote it...."
"...at the passing of any witch or wizard, when there is a part, portion, remainder or shade of the aforesaid witch or wizard left in the corporeal world, it must denounce, bestow, leave, relegate or otherwise disperse, or cause to be dispersed all its former corporeal possessions. Failure to do so, within seven hours times ten, of the passing of the aforesaid witch or wizard will result in the automatic transfer of all possessions to the Ministry of Magic."
"Certain members of the Ministry of Magic would enjoy seeing this clause enforced in my case. Therefore, I disburse my corporeal possessions in the following manner: First, to my brother Aberforth, I leave my entire sweets collection and my entire wardrobe (we are the same size after all), save one hat and one robe to be chosen by Mr. Harry Potter. Second: to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I leave one-half of all my personal savings in Gringott's Bank, to be used to keep the school functioning and to provide scholarships for promising, disadvantaged students, regardless of parentage. Vault number and key to be provided to Hogwarts Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. Third, I leave the remainder of my possessions, including but not limited to my wand, my glasses, my personal library, the remaining one-half of my personal savings in Gringott's Bank, my Pensieve, my muggle stock in an aeroline company (I was always impressed that they were able to make those huge, heavy things fly without magic), my collection of brooms, devices and artifacts, my estate in Glen, my villa in France, and all other sundry personal effects to Remus J. Lupin, on the contingency that he establish guardianship over these items until Mr. Harry James Potter reaches the age of majority, at which time all these items will pass to Harry James Potter's exclusive ownership."
Harry was thunderstruck. The enormity of what Dumbledore had just done shocked him to his centre. He tried to get his mind around what Dumbledore's bequest meant. He would now have access to additional resources in his struggle to stop Voldemort. He could begin without delay. His view of the future had changed in the space of ten seconds. "Professor Dumbledore," Harry began, "I don't know what to say."
"You can begin by calling me Albus. You see, Harry I am not really a Professor any longer. It is time that you begin to take your place as an adult in society. I have known many witches and wizards who expected that respect, who have done nothing more than grow older to earn that privilege. You have navigated situations that would have caused all but the most stouthearted among us to quail and shrink from the challenge. I expect extraordinary things from you my friend."
The word "friend" burned into Harry's psyche. He really did hold Albus Dumbledore as his friend. Harry knew at that moment that he would have given his life for Albus Dumbledore.
"Now there are several things I would like to say before I take some time to consider my current position," said Dumbledore. "First, thank you for your diligent efforts in reading my willy and testament here at Hogwarts. I am loath to contemplate hanging in repose in any other location. Hogwarts feels like home to me. Second, I would ask you to support each other in your coming trials. By sharing this reading, you have created a bond with each other as well as with parts of me. Third, and I hope you will not count me presumptuous, but I would like a few minutes alone with Harry."
Dumbledore had barely gotten these words out when there was a demanding knock at the office door. Harry's eyes flew to the miniature gargoyle on the shelf. It remained placidly in place. Harry's mind quickly sifted the possibilities. Either the person at the door knew the password, or had confunded the gargoyle, or had been standing in the stairway since the Ministry throng had departed.
Moody's magical eye swiveled immediately to the door. "It appears to be a Ministry lackey," he growled, "but let's spread out a bit before we open it. No need to present a opportune target if he has ill intent."
The five companions spread around the room. McGonagall went to the door, removed the golden shield and opened the door. Standing in the doorway was Percy Weasley. He had drawn himself to his full height, a motion that, rather than making him more imposing, only tended to accentuate his bony thinness.
"Yes Mr. Weasley, can we help you?" asked McGonagall.
"Yes you can," said Percy without preamble. Striding into the room, he unrolled a scroll of parchment he began reading, "Be it known to all present, that by official act and exercising the authority granted under the International Code of Wizardry Title 1, Section 234, paragraph B, the Ministry of Magic hereby lays claim to all of the corporeal possessions of the late Albus Dumbledore. Done and dated this day at," Percy pulled a timepiece from under his robe and continued, "9:31 p.m.. Signed Rufus Scrimgeour, Minister of Magic. "You see, it has been 70 hours 1 minute 14 seconds since Albus Dumbledore's passing, and since a shade of Albus Dumbledore remains and no division of Albus Dumbledore's estate has been duly registered with a member of the Ministry of Magic, the Ministry is fully within it's rights to lay claim to this property. You will all be witnesses to this transfer."
"Hold on there, sonny Jim," Moody said stumping toward Percy, causing the young Weasley to shrink back a step. "We have heard the division and disposition of Albus Dumbledore's estate. It was done well within the 70 hours required by wizard law."
"As I was saying, it is required that the disposition be done in front of a registered Ministry official. Minister Scrimgeour has researched the law, and even though Albus Dumbledore was the Head Mugwump of the Wizengamot, when he passed, he lost his authority to act in that capacity. Without a Ministry official present, anything that may have happened has no official standing, therefore I am here to exercise the Ministry's right to this property under the tenants of wizard law."
Harry's heart sank. He had already started to lay plans in his mind that revolved around his newly acquired resources. Once again his future looked dim indeed.
"One moment please."
Percy nearly jumped out of his robes. The voice came from directly behind him.
It was Arthur Weasley's voice. When the five friends had scattered around the room he had taken up position behind the door. He had been quietly looking over his son's shoulder since Percy came into the office.
"As you may recall, I am a registered official with the Ministry of Magic. I happened to take the liberty of using an Exact Quotes Quill during the dividing of Albus Dumbledore's estate," Mr. Weasley said as he extracted a roll of parchment from under his robes. "I am presenting this sealed document to you as a registered agent of the Ministry of Magic, in the presence of these witnesses, and asking you to see that it is duly recorded in the Ministry archives." Mr. Weasley handed the scroll to Percy and stepped back.
Percy looked at the scroll like it was a snake. He was dumbfounded. He recognized the defeat that stared him in the face. His shoulders slumped and all the self-important pomp drained from him. He knew he had a meeting with the Minister coming and he didn't relish the thought. Wordlessly, still looking at the parchment scroll in disbelief, he turned on his heel and headed for the door.
"Mr. Weasley, you will need the password to get past the gargoyle on your way out this time." said McGonagall, "We were just leaving anyway. We will be happy to escort you off the grounds."
As Lupin, Moody, McGonagall and Mr. Weasley caught Percy; McGonagall ushered them through. She stopped and spoke quietly to Harry through the doorway, "Potter, reseal this door after we leave, the incantation is "Impervable." When you leave, the password at the gargoyle is "Novus Ordo." Come straight to my old office when you are done and we will discuss how you get back into...um...this office."
With that they were gone and Harry was left alone in the Headmaster's office. Well, not exactly alone. Harry noticed that the portraits of the prior Headmasters and Headmistresses had taken attentive poses in their frames. They too wanted to know what was in store for Harry.