Harry left the classroom and immediately put on his invisibility cloak. As he turned toward the Headmaster's office, his mind was filled with more concerns than ever. "It seems like the more answers I get, the more questions I have," thought Harry. His time with Professor Binns had calmed Harry completely after the redcap's attack. Apart from an aching shoulder, he felt almost normal. As he made his way almost mechanically toward the seventh floor, he pondered what he had learned and what his next step would be. Interrupting his thoughts, the huge school clock chimed its pronouncement of 3:30. He was in no hurry; he knew Dumbledore had said to return after 3:30, presumably after the office had cleared of the "other" Harrys. By the time he had passed the gargoyle and was ascending the stairs he felt comfortable that the office would be empty. Once more facing the mirr panel, he wished he could avoid it, but he knew better. More to forestall the inevitable than any real curiosity, Harry examined the landing. It had been thoroughly cleaned. Except for scorch marks on the door, the area appeared completely normal. No one would guess the deeds that had been done here just hours before. Harry screwed up his courage and activated the mirr panel. He was very relieved when he heard the lock click and he immediately removed his hand from the panel. He entered the office cautiously, realizing as he did so, that he was becoming more and more circumspect in his decisions and actions.

Dumbledore greeted Harry with a smile. "I take it that your class work with Professor Binns went well?"

"Yes," said Harry. "We finished Magic. Although it did bring a few more questions to mind."

"Ah, yes. Education often has that unintended result. Nevertheless, learning fills a primal need in humans. Without learning there is no progress. Now Harry, speaking of progress, I have mentioned several things that may have given you pause. One is that there was learning going on of which you were not fully aware. A second was the offer to teach you of a specific magic 'sooner than later.' Well Harry, it is later now and I would ask if you are willing to go back to sooner yet one more time?" Dumbledore smiled again.

Harry was of two minds. He wanted to learn but he knew that he was tantalizingly close to the time he could once again be with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. "OK," he admitted to himself, "mostly Ginny." Harry remembered his own commitment to Dumbledore and asked, "What do you propose?"

Dumbledore beamed as if Harry had said yes already. "What I propose is that you use the Time-Turner and return to this office at about 6:00 this morning. I will teach you the magic, and you can then determine of your own volition whether you stay or go. I can not force the decision either way."

"Fair enough," said Harry. He slipped the Time-Turner from beneath his robes, set the hourglass in motion with a practiced flick of his wrist, and he was gone.

When the sensation of time travel had subsided a bit, Harry found himself once again in a darkened Headmaster's office. He quickly lit the candles and torches and turned to Dumbledore's portrait. He was shocked to see, rather than the smiling, amiable Dumbledore he had left, a serious, worried looking Dumbledore in the frame.

Without so much as a hello, Dumbledore launched into a series of questions, "Are you all right, Harry? Is everyone in the castle safe? How did you manage to escape Greyback?"

Harry suddenly understood that "this" time line Dumbledore had not been informed of the details of his encounter with Greyback.

Cutting across Harry's thoughts, Dumbledore continued, "When you did not return to the office at the allotted time I feared the worst. The booming spell on the landing outside the door reinforced my deep concerns. It was almost an hour later when Minerva came in with the briefest of explanations regarding the state of things. Still, she had no definitive information on conditions. Are you all right Harry?"

The air of concern in Dumbledore's voice spoke volumes to Harry. "Dumbledore, or whatever portion of Dumbledore that makes up this Porcrux, cares about me; cares what happens to Hogwarts and the students." Harry's thoughts occupied only a second or so, but in that second, Harry was changed forever. His outlook, he realized, needed to be more focused on others. He needed to have more care and concern for the feelings, the trials, the travails, the needs of others. Harry suddenly realized he had grown up; he had matured past the point of everything being about him. With the realization came the knowledge that he was going to have to look outside himself and help others.

"I'm sorry Albus," said Harry with sincerity born of understanding. "I should have realized you would be concerned when I didn't make it back at the appointed time. I should have found a way to reassure you that things were going as well as could be expected under the circumstances. I am ashamed of my lack of compassion for your feelings and I beg your pardon." Harry finished speaking and looked resolutely at a spot on the floor in front of his feet.

Dumbledore was temporarily speechless. At length he began, "Harry, I was not looking for an apology from you. Quite the contrary, I wanted to know that you were still well and whole. If we understand each other more fully now, it is a worthwhile lesson learned on both our parts."

Harry suddenly recognized that he had called the Porcrux... Albus...and hadn't felt self-conscious. "What's going on here?" he wondered.

"I believe that you have taken a significant step toward your adult personality and perception." There was a long pause before Dumbledore continued, "How can I help you Harry?"

Harry considered why he had come to the office and said, "Recently I have found myself in need of a hiding place. A place secure from prying eyes, even if those eyes are my own. For example, shortly there are going to be three more of me here in this office."

"Challenging," said Dumbledore, "but I may have a solution. However, be warned, it is very intricate, dangerous magic. The magic is a type of invisibility. The spell duplicates and projects an image of what it hides. It is much like painting a picture and setting it in front of the real item or scene. If performed correctly, the effect is almost flawless, leaving only the faintest trace of a line to alert one watching for the magic." Dumbledore looked at Harry who was now smiling himself.

"I believe this magic is covered in an interesting chapter in a book written by our old friend Nicolas Flamel," said Harry as he located the book in his mind's eye library and reviewed the chapter covering invisibility. When he was confident with the physicality of the spell he returned his attention to Dumbledore and asked, "Do you have any advice for me?"

"Yes," said Dumbledore, "select a stationary scene for your initial attempt. Moving scenes are much more difficult to mimic. Second, choose a location that is relatively out of the way of regular come-and-go traffic. Lastly, do not leave this magic in place for more than forty-eight hours at a time. If left longer than that, the spell begins to become self-protective. It attempts to become the reality rather than the imposter. Eventually the magic will 'wrap' back upon itself and create its own reality. At that point it can be very dangerous to attempt to undo the magic. It will literally fight for its existence. The magic will not care who or how it hurts. It is mindless and can focus all the energy used in its creation against one who would attempt to remove it. Do you have any questions?"

"Just one," said Harry, "How do you suggest I position myself when attempting this magic?"

"You will always perform the magic facing the location you want hidden," said Dumbledore. "Your clarity of mental image is critical in the masking illusion you create. A tremendous amount of power must be focused to create any level of invisibility. Invisibility cloaks, disillusionment charms and vanishing spells only affect relatively small areas. The magic we are discussing requires much more focus and control. Imagine overlaying a scene with a pane of glass. Then, in your mind, concentrate on creating every item behind the glass. Your accuracy here will determine the degree of reality the magic contains. If you are sloppy in either concentration or execution of the spell, items in your overlay will appear surreal or broken."

Without further hesitation, Harry strode over to face the row of bookcases along the stairway leading to the upper alcove. He selected a section of wall with ancient anthologies of magic. Studying the scene, he concentrated on taking in the minutiae. Something in his brain stirred, "I can read the titles!" he thought, comprehension dawning in some remote corner of his mind. Forcing the distracting thought into a question pile, he refocused on the task at hand. He envisioned a pane of glass and began to fill it with mentally conjured images of the real scene behind. When he was fully ready, he concentrated on the incantation "Facadei." The transparent image he had created flickered for the briefest of moments and then took on the look of solid reality.

Harry walked to the edge of his imagined reality and was shocked to see that he could literally go around the bend of reality. His projected image stood a short distance away from the bookcase, far enough to allow him to step between the real bookcase and his image, in a narrow passageway. From behind the image, he saw that the Headmaster's office had taken on a misty, distant look. Walking fully behind the image and passing out the opposite side, he once again looked at the image. To get anything close to a real effect he had to stand directly in front of the image. If he moved off centre the prospective skewed and the image appeared distorted. He took a shufty and found that his hand stopped at his projected image. Although he could see the books, they did not feel like books. They were flat, two dimensional replicas of the real thing.

Dumbledore broke Harry's examination asking, "Well Harry, that seems very good for a first try. What do you think?"

"It wouldn't pass close inspection," said Harry honestly. "I'm going to have to improve my focus. I need to be more observant of textures and perspective if I am going to create a passable image." As Harry spoke, an intriguing thought entered his mind. "If I need to be more observant, I wonder if I could use two spells combined to create a more effective illusion?"

Harry attempted to vanish the illusion but it took two tries and much concentration. "And that was an illusion that was only several minutes old. I see what Albus meant when he cautioned me to end the magic within forty-eight hours," reasoned Harry.

When the image was gone, Harry decided on the upper alcove landing for a second attempt. It would pose a bit more of a challenge because of the steep angle of perspective. Harry turned the heavy Headmaster's chair with a flick of his wand and faced it toward the upper landing. He settled himself in the chair and pointing his wand between his eyes he concentrated "Wallacearia Condensata." Without a book before him to focus upon, Harry made a study of the items on and above the landing. Details came sharply into focus; the play of light from different sources, the subtle colour differences in walls, books and objects, the distance and depth of each object in relation to others, the way different materials reflected, refracted, or absorbed the light, the hard edge of metal or wood, the softer edge of cloth, the way that flickering candlelight subtly altered depth and colour. While still under the enchantment, he focused on creating a clear pane that stretched from curved room edge to curved room edge and from alcove landing to ceiling. He then concentrated on placing his observation on the clear pane. He paid particular attention to all the small details. When he felt he was ready, he focused his entire mind and might on the incantation "Facadei." The power gathered and focused to create the image was so immense that Harry felt as if all the oxygen had gone from the room. He slumped forward in the chair gasping for breath. Gathering what little strength he had remaining, he mentally ended the "Wallacearia Condensata" spell. The room came back into focus but he felt as if he had been forced to run beyond endurance and strength. He looked up at Dumbledore and said weakly, "I think I'll just have a sit down for a bit." His wand fell from his hand and he found he didn't have strength to retrieve it.

"Harry, sit and relax a moment," began Dumbledore. "The two magics you appear to have blended are, each one, draining to perform. You will have to exercise caution. The more quickly you attempt to bring the image charm into operation and the more complete the image you project, the more of your strength the magic will require of you. In theory you could exceed the total energy you have available. In that case, you would die."

Harry, listening from the chair, was too weak to move. Dumbledore's words bored into his psyche. "If I push new or unknown magic too hard it could cost me my life! This is what Voldemort was willing to risk each time he tried dark magic in his search for immortality." The thoughts chilled Harry. "Am I willing face the mortal risk to learn the things necessary to defeat Voldemort?"

Harry found that he could not honestly answer the question. He envisioned losing Ginny, or Ron, or Hermione to Voldemort's evil. He contemplated the immense emotional cost his plans had demanded already. He considered for a moment just chucking it all away, finding a quiet, safe place to live out his life with Ginny and let others fight the coming storm. "No. It will have to be me, in the end it will have to be me who challenges Voldemort's quest for control." It occurred to Harry that his feelings of discouragement seemed to be more prevalent when he was feeling weak or exhausted as he was now. "I'm not going to let a little thing like being tired stop me. From now on I will devote all the energy it takes to learn the things necessary to stop Voldemort." The thought steeled his resolve. Summoning his remaining energy, Harry bent down and picked up his wand. The small motion almost undid him.

Pushing beyond the pain and fatigue, Harry turned to Dumbledore's portrait, "I think I will be bit more judicious in the use of this magic in the future."

"I believe that is a wise decision. However Harry, look what you have been able to accomplish," said Dumbledore motioning toward the upper landing.

Harry diverted his gaze toward the magic he had created and was astonished. Even though he knew there was a contrived image just behind the actual alcove landing, he could not see any distortion or irregularity. The image was as near perfect as possible. He noted that the grandfather clock showed very little time remaining before "he" would be appearing in the office. It was time to make some decisions. Considering his options, he turned to Dumbledore's portrait and said, "May I spend some time behind this magic resting and reading?"

"I think that is an excellent idea," said Dumbledore. "You will be able to order your thoughts and read a bit. Behind the magic you will be able to hear what goes on in the office and set your time accordingly. From behind the magic you will be able to levitate items in and out. From the front of the magic it is a much more difficult proposition to get through, so I advise that you stay behind the magic and use your time wisely. In any event, you must not forget to eat your meals. "

"How exactly do I get through the magic from the front?" asked Harry.

"There are two methods of getting through the magic. The first involves examining the edge where the masking spell connects with reality. One looks for an object that can be moved slightly to allow access. That access is then resealed from behind after entry. The second method is much more dangerous. It involves apparating through the magic. As I have already stated, we are dealing with a very powerful magic. It is resistant to any kind of penetration. The one attempting to cross the barrier must have exceptional determination and deliberation. It is generally inadvisable to attempt to cross this magic by apparition. It is doubly difficult here at Hogwarts because of the protective spells that limit apparition. I suggest attempting to find a small breach at the edge of the magic."

Harry stiffened his resolve and stood. He shook with the effort. Scanning the edges of the magic, he noticed a suit of armor standing at the far end of the railing. Focusing his mind on moving the armor backward out of the plane of the imposed scene, he aimed his wand and "pushed." He was heartened to see the armor slide back just enough to admit a fairly thin person. "Now to try something I have never tried before!" he thought. He levitated himself toward the opening in the magic wall. It was tenuous going in his weakened state and because he had no solid place to set his feet. The feeling was disconcerting and not at all to his liking. He found the trickiest part was actually getting through the narrow gap created by the slightly moved armor. He had to contort his body and carefully maneuver the levitating spell to navigate the sliver of reality.

At length, sweating and exhausted, Harry found himself standing behind the magic looking out past the suit of armor. He aimed his wand, turned the Headmaster's chair to its previous position, extinguished the lamps and candles in the lower office, and finally slid the armor back into place. He lit the lamps in the upper room, performed the sound- deadening spell he was now so practiced at, and began to examine the "room" he had created with his magic wall. He found that he had access to the entire upper office behind the landing, including its attending bookcases and instruments, a small table and a heavy straight-backed wooden chair. "Plenty to be going on with for the time being," Harry thought.

Harry felt his most pressing need at the moment was to get some rest. The most enticing way before him was to read. He had found earlier that reading had a relaxing effect. Upon examining the texts available he found most in either foreign or ancient languages. He started once again at the realization that he could read the faded titles. As an experiment, he sat at the desk and summoned a likely looking example from among the huge books. The title, Mhezk Dur Angzt Ribenhldencyzst, was in an antiquated European dialect. Harry found that he understood the title... Holding and Using the Magic of the Ancients.

As Harry opened the book he heard voices from the lower office. Even though the text called out to be read, he couldn't tear his attention away from the scene unfolding below him. He-4 watched as he-1 (this is maddening), McGonagall and Dobby came into the office. He-1 and McGonagall left. Dobby spoke with Dumbledore. He-1 and McGonagall returned. More instructions were given and Dobby and McGonagall left. He-1 set the Time-Turner and disappeared. He-2 appeared from under an invisibility cloak and plotted with Nigellus. Dobby appeared with food (come to think of it I'm very hungry). He-2 left through the broom cupboard. He-3 appeared from under an invisibility cloak on the far side of the room. At this point Harry realized just what the fine red line he had noticed was all about...it was his own masking magic set on the upper alcove. It wasn't until he-3 had settled himself at the Headmaster's desk and entered into the mind-ordering spell that Harry was able to take his attention from the whirlwind of activity that had been Saturday morning.

"Blimey, after all that, no wonder I'm feeling drained," thought Harry. He focused his attention on the breakfast Dobby had delivered. He summoned the meal from the landing, through the false wall, and set upon it like a starved man. The food was the most delicious he had ever eaten. When he finished eating, he drank the last of his muscle potion, shuddered, and levitated the empty dishes back to the office proper.

Feeling a bit better for the meal, Harry turned his attention to the book open on the table. Before he performed the spell to allow him to read at leisure, he carefully examined the upper alcove. He didn't want to give anyone or anything a chance to attack him while he read. He definitely didn't want to have an emergency while trapped behind a magic wall of his own making. Finding no indications of attendant dangers he settled himself to read. The spell eliminated the distractions of the outside world and he found that he could read the old manuscript with relative ease. As he read, he was shocked to realize that the voice he heard in his head while reading the book was Dumbledore's. "Was this what Dumbledore meant when he said that the problem of different languages was being attended to?" wondered Harry. He surmised it was so. In a matter of minutes he had finished the text. Much of what it contained he had learned in his first three years at Hogwarts but there was enough new material to be entirely intriguing.

Harry felt markedly stronger, even for the short time he had been under the spell. He estimated that he should be able to read twenty or so of the books surrounding him before "snack time" as he had come to consider it. He levitated a stack of books to the table and arranged them for easier access. Picking up his wand and clearing his mind, He performed the spell and entered into the blissful world of words. He read the texts, many in obscure dialects, most in what he now considered less than foreign languages. He found some ideas outmoded, some theories rather amusing,(: notably the Pythagorean Order's admonition to never eat beans:) made him chuckle inwardly.

Harry had finished reading his first stack of books and was preparing the second stack, when he heard the lock click on the office door. He drew his wand instinctively and faced the door. He was prepared to fight to protect the "Harry" sitting in a Gemynd trance below in the office proper. He relaxed when he saw Professor McGonagall enter.

Professor McGonagall glanced at the Harry sitting stock still with his arm and wand raised in the air, shrugged, and turned to Dumbledore. "Albus, I brought the personal effects you asked me to collect last night. Where would you like them?"

"Thank you Minerva," said Dumbledore, "Please place the items you brought with you in the right hand desk drawer; and while you are at it, you will find a variety of items on top of the desk under the guise of invisibility. Please levitate them into the top left hand drawer of the desk. Do not be alarmed; Harry will not even know that you are here. You see, he is deeply immersed in ordering his thoughts. I would advise you, however, that Harry will be learning some quite advanced magic today. As that instruction proceeds, he may become...jumpy. I would suggest that for today, you knock before you enter, in order to alert Harry and prevent any accidents."

"I see," said McGonagall, a small note of irritation in her voice. She headed to the immense oak desk and filled the right and left hand drawers. "Harry" neither seemed to notice nor to care about McGonagall's interruption. After she had deposited a variety of items in the drawers, she turned to Dumbledore's portrait. "I have a few details that may help bring you up to current. Moody did find a breach in our perimeter defense. He is at work with the Gryffindor students inspecting and repairing all protective spells. I asked to have Hagrid come here to the office, but he had already gone into the forest in search of the injured centaur. GRASSP has replaced the lock on the door and they tell me that the original mirr panel did indeed catch an intruder. We are still receiving conflicting reports about attacks around the wizarding world. However, all the Order of the Phoenix members have been contacted and all seem to be fine. I haven't any further details, but Mr. Potter's information, thus far, seems to have been on mark and has proven very valuable."

"Thank you Minerva," said Dumbledore. "I believe Harry has had a trying day but I am going to ask him to work just a bit more. Thank you for arranging the class with Professor Binns last night. I know that you were uncomfortable with Harry wandering the castle after dark but I believe he has proven capable of taking care of himself. Would you please contact Professor Lupin and arrange an Occlumency class for noon today and thereafter a two o'clock Magic class with Professor Binns?"

"That can be easily attended to if you are sure Potter is up to the task," said McGonagall, "will there be anything else?"

"One last thing," said Dumbledore. "I have asked to have Francois DePais come to Hogwarts. Would you please let me know when he arrives?'

"Absolutely Albus," then glancing at Harry and shaking her head she said, "Good luck with Mr. Potter today." With that McGonagall turned and let herself from the office.

As McGonagall left the office, Harry considered her words. The attacks around the wizarding world concerned him most. He recalled Hermione's description of Ministry witches and wizards appearing and then leaving in all directions from Hogsmeade. She had voiced the assumption that they had been dispatched to inform parents that their children would be staying at Hogwarts for the last week of term. "What if that wasn't the reason at all? What if the Ministry had been alerted to these attacks and then either warnings or protection had been sent out by Scrimgeour? What if Scrimgeour had known of the danger and hadn't warned McGonagall? Her actions say she wasn't warned. How can I find out?" wondered Harry. "I know! I'll have Hermione check with her parents. They would have been informed with either notice of Hermione coming home early, or the notice of her finishing out the remainder of the school year. I'll have Hermione contact her parents as soon as possible. The answer could shed light on whether the Ministry is still attempting to hide information from the wizarding world."

Putting that thought in a mental queue for when he met with his friends again, Harry resumed reading. Words passed quickly into his waiting mind. As he read, he found himself comparing information in each book to the information presented in the others he had catalogued and stored. He found himself sorting the information into what he believed and that of which he was skeptical. Some books were placed prominently in his mind's-eye library, while others received ignominious placement on remote shelves. He finished the stack of books he had selected at almost the exact time that Dobby arrived with the food. The goings-on in the lower office were not quite the interesting distraction they had been at the off. More interesting to him was the meal Dobby supplied. He waited until Dobby was gone and seized his chance to levitate the meal to the table and set to it. The meal was consumed in short order and he found that he felt remarkably better. He quickly inventoried the remaining books and found that he would only have an hour or so of reading unless he brought books up from the office proper. Deciding against moving books around the office, he determined to read only until lunch, order his thoughts, and then set plans for his last week at Hogwarts. The reading process proceeded quickly and he finished all the texts on the upper level before Dobby arrived with lunch.

"Remarkable," thought Harry as he finished reading, "I can see specific spells that have been used around me and against me." Unbidden came the memory of the broom trip from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts with Dumbledore. Harry concentrated on the memory. He focused on Dumbledore's muttered incantation and found he could understand the meaning and the intent of the words. He could see the texts describing magics, separately potent, but if woven together becoming almost impenetrable. "Now I understand the meaning behind Dumbledore's words about Voldemort wanting to delve and tap old magic available at Hogwarts." thought Harry, "If Voldemort wanted access to that magic, it's worth my time to investigate a bit of it also. And I guess the best place to start is right where I am."

He studied the upper alcove, its furnishings and fixtures and all the delicate instruments. To his astonishment, he found that he recognized most of them both in construction and function. "Did Dumbledore choose specific books to be in this office in anticipation of me having the opportunity to read them? How comprehensive was Dumbledore's preparation? How much control do I have over the direction my life is taking?"

As Harry considered these thoughts, he came to the conclusion that he had to formulate a plan, a direction for his future. In the midst of this thought Dobby arrived in the lower office. Harry's immediate attention was drawn to the meal. His body was telling him that his hunger outweighed any vague future plans. It was as Dumbledore had hinted; he needed to watch out for his own physical needs, to take responsibility for his own health. In a blaze of understanding, Harry saw he needed to take control of what he was learning, where he was going, what he was becoming on his path to confront Voldemort. "Up until now, almost everything I have learned and done has been served up to me just as Dobby is serving these meals. I have been an empty vessel, accepting whatever is poured into me, floating whatever direction life's current carried me. NO MORE! Starting right now I set my own course! My pronouncements about confronting Voldemort or killing Snape, how naive! Nigellus was right, Voldemort is the hunter and I am the quarry. I am extremely lucky that Greyback didn't kill me. I haven't really learned to protect myself. That ends now! Today is the last time I'll be spoon-fed anything; food or knowledge. I plan, I seek, I prepare. I take full responsibility for my future!"

The thoughts took only seconds, but Harry's life was forever changed. He now captained his ship of life. He would steer it where he determined to go.

« Chapter 21 - Nicolas Flamel on Magic   Chapter 23 - Eight Ways to Sunday »


Harry Potter and the Crucible of the Soul is an unofficial fan site, in no way affiliated with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros. Entertainment.

All trademarks and copyrighted material are the property of their respective owners. Hosting by Succeed Online.