"Minerva, the willy table please," said Moody, who still held the glowing orb in his hands.

With a practiced swish of her wand, McGonagall produced a heavy, round oak table, and five equally massive high-backed chairs. The table was covered by a tablecloth that appeared to be made of red dragon skin. The table's curved legs were heavily carved with intricate runes and symbols running down their length ending in large clawed dragon's feet. The ancient oak chairs had matching runes on their arms, and a carving of a dragon rising in flight on the cap-piece. In the centre of the table was a golden framework supporting an ebony stand several inches off the table. Moody carefully placed the glowing orb into the arms of the stand.

"Each of us will now prepare our instrument," said Moody.

Without saying a word, each of the four adults moved to Dumbledore's table of odd devices. Each one chose a seemingly random device and took a seat at the table. Harry remained standing. He had never felt so woefully inadequate in his entire life. He had no idea of what to do or how to act.

Sensing his discomfort, and motioning to the empty chair, Lupin said, "Sit here, Harry. We will help you through each step." Waving his wand, Lupin said, "Accio spectacles." Dumbledore's half-moon spectacles arose from among the instruments and landed neatly in front of Harry.

At the sight of the familiar spectacles, their attending memories flooded Harry. He recalled the many times Dumbledore had looked at him, both through them and over them. The thought came unbidden to Harry, "I wonder why the difference?"

Before he could really examine the thought, Moody's voice interrupted. "As we read the last willy and testament of Albus Dumbledore, I want to explain the five traditional sections of the wizard willy and its associated reading. First is knowledge, I have been asked to handle this; second is passion, Minerva will be responsible there; third is personality, Arthur has been asked to handle this area; fourth is wisdom, Remus will take care of that. Harry, that leaves the fifth, the reading of friendship for you. As we proceed, we will each concentrate on the experiences we had with Albus Dumbledore in our designated willy. I'll begin."

Harry suddenly began to grasp what was being asked of him. He was going to be the medium through which Albus Dumbledore's friendships were to be permanently recorded and remembered. His mind flashed with a multitude of images of conversations, both engaged and observed. Dumbledore's friendships and associations with students, with Fawkes, with Hagrid, with Ministry members, with the Dursley's, with Hogwart's teachers, with Death Eaters... Harry's mind lurched; Dumbledore had been friends with Snape. How could he read Dumbledore's friendship willy when he still didn't understand why Dumbledore had trusted someone as vile as Snape. Suddenly, Harry didn't know if he was up to the task. If he were to gain some level of understanding for the friendship between Dumbledore and Snape, it might not be as easy to continue to hate Snape. Hating Snape was one of the two driving motivations in his life and it was a close second to his hatred for Voldemort. A second lurch; Dumbledore had seen something worthwhile in the young Tom Riddle and had helped him. Was it out of friendship? Harry didn't think he could stand that possibility.

Harry started to form the words of withdrawal from the group when his own recent words echoed in his head, "I'll do whatever I can. Professor Dumbledore never failed me." Harry reinforced his decision.

"I won't fail him," Harry said out loud. The adults looked at him as one.

"You understand," said Lupin. It wasn't a question. It was a flat statement that showed Lupin's insight into the mind wrestle Harry had conquered.

"I think you are exactly the right choice for this willy," said Arthur Weasley. McGonagall and Moody nodded their agreement.

Harry's mind flashed with wonder, "Would the others have been so quick to count me worthy if they had seen the thoughts that just went through my mind. They knew that eventually they would be called upon to sort their assigned willy. They've had time to contemplate how they would handle the task. Would that make it easier or more difficult? Reactions that save lives are sometimes done without conscious thought. Do I possibly have the easier task? If I was given a year or two, and asked to come back, would it do anything except cloud my mind and make me question my judgments? No, I'll trust Dumbledore. I'll go on."

Harry returned his full attention to task. Moody had taken a small cup-shaped object that had been spinning slowly in its stand and placed it on his head. The cup swelled, and the sides drooped, until it became a cap rotating slowly on Moody's head. Moody took out his wand, and with a gnarled hand, he touched the wand's tip to the surface of the glowing orb at the centre of the table. He placed his other hand on the top of the spinning cap and uttered one word, "Urim." Slowly, a bit of the bright silver light traveled up Moody's wand. It proceeded up his arm and across his shoulder. As it passed his face, Moody's visage began to change. Suddenly he took on the look of a round-faced, redhead boy. The boy aged, his hair and face lengthened, a beard began to grow, the beard and hair lightened and continued to grow, the face became lined and the eyes sparkled. Harry realized that he was looking at the Dumbledore he knew. The changes ended and the silvery light continued on up into the spinning cap on the now restored to normal ("Well, normal for him," Harry thought) head of Alastor Moody. Moody sagged slightly but didn't break the contact between his wand and the orb. "Remarkable!" said Moody quietly before turning to Minerva McGonagall and saying, "You next Minerva."

Professor McGonagall placed her wand tip to the glowing orb and picked up what had the appearance of a small silver teapot emitting puffs of steam in her left hand. She cleared her throat, nervously, and said, "Mercurius." The silver light traveled along the wand, up McGonagall's arm and across her torso. As it crossed under her chin, her face took on changes similar to the ones Moody had exhibited. Only this time as the face aged, it underwent expressions of happiness, expectation, frustration, success, joy, exultation, anger, sadness, and finally a look of contented peace. The silver light then traveled along her left arm and stopped at the small pot. The pot emitted steam more vigorously than ever, but Professor McGonagall didn't seem to notice the increased animation. McGonagall seemed to shrink slightly, as if carrying a heavy weight and keeping her wand in contact with the globe said "Of two substances now made one," she then echoed Moody's "Remarkable!"

Moody turned to Arthur Weasley and said, "Your turn, Arthur."

Arthur Weasley placed his wand tip against the orb and in his left hand, he took a humming rectangle of plaid metal and shook it. It immediately lengthened to several feet long. He then carefully placed the centre of it to the back of his neck. The metal wrapped around his throat in imitation of some metallic scarf. He said, "Persona Toda." The silver light traveled along his wand and up his arm. As it passed to the scarf, Arthur Weasley's face underwent the same type of changes as Moody's and McGonagall's had exhibited. This time, as the face aged, it changed from mischievous, to calculating, to thoughtful, to concerned, to worried and finally to the look of contented peace seen before. As the silver light continued on to the metallic scarf, the scarf hummed more loudly. Arthur Weasley hardly seemed to notice the loud humming coming from just below his chin. He slumped forward in his chair, and while keeping his wand firmly touching the orb, said, "Unexpected."

Harry realized that the scarf's humming was vaguely familiar. He strained his mind to place the tune. Finally, he found it. It was the tune that Dumbledore had used the first time everyone sang their own version of the school song. It also bore more than a passing resemblance to the Phoenix song that Fawkes had softly crooned as he perched in this very office, a time that now seemed so very long ago.

"Very good," said Moody, and he turned to Remus Lupin, "Your go now, Remus."

Lupin touched his wand tip to the glowing orb, which had now decreased significantly in its intensity. Almost hesitantly, Lupin placed his other hand in a silver bowl covered on the outside with pictographs of the sun, moon and stars and uttered "Lux Intelligencia." What happened next was astonishing. A thin black covering seeped from the silver bowl and seemed to grow up Lupin's arm. The blackness continued to spread until he was entirely covered. Lupin was gone, a dark shadow, a lack of light in the shape of Lupin, sat in his chair. The wand contact with the orb never wavered. Slowly, much more slowly than before, the light began to slide along the wand from the glowing orb. It paused at the juncture between Lupin's wand and what had been his hand, but then edged slowly on. As the silvery light covered the inky blackness, a battle seemed to be occurring. In places the silver light seemed to almost speed along, in other places it came to a stop and held there for some time before progressing forward. The changes in Lupin's face were less obvious than had occurred with Moody, McGonagall and Mr. Weasley but they were there, nevertheless. Inspected carefully, the shadow that was Lupin's face shifted and danced with contorted changes. When the light had enveloped his entire body, Lupin sat perfectly still. He looked as if he were made out of light. Every bit of his body emitted a soft glow, so that none of his features were distinguishable. Still his wand never wavered from contact with the now faintly glowing globe.

Harry wondered how, or if, Lupin was able to breathe under his armor of light. Moody interrupted this thought question with a clearing of his throat.

"Potter, no pressure now lad, but you'll have to hurry this through," Moody said softly. "Lupin mostly, but all of us to some degree are holding back the effects of our willy. As you face your willy, you may be tempted to break wand contact with the orb, don't do it. Your transfer will be fairly rapid; you will experience some of the friendships that occurred during Dumbledore's life. They can't hurt you physically, but you must be tough mentally. Now place your wand tip on the orb, put on Dumbledore's glasses, concentrate on your friendship with him and use the incantation "Pax Alma."

Harry's hand trembled slightly as he placed his wand tip against the glowing orb. He took off his own glasses, picked up Dumbledore's glasses, and put them on. Concentrating intently on the friendship he had with Dumbledore he said clearly, "Pax Alma." The feeling was immediate in his right hand. Emotion seemed to surge up his arm and toward the glasses on his face. He had tried on other people's glasses before and had always had the same result, near blindness. With Dumbledore's glasses, there was a distinct difference; he found he could see clearly through the lenses, but because they were half-moon, he didn't have to look through them, he could look over them. This is what he had done as the sensation of emotion surged through his hand and arm and upward toward his head. But as he looked down, he was astonished to see, instead of silvery light traveling along his body, a kaleidoscopic rainbow of colours. "The glasses must be bewitched as a part of this reading," Harry thought to himself. As an experiment, Harry tipped his head back slightly, so he was looking through the glasses at each of his companions. Instead of silvery manifestations, they were covered in different, intense colours of the rainbow.

Lupin's visage was different. When Harry looked at him through the glasses, his countenance was so bright that it hurt Harry's eyes and he had to divert his gaze back over the glasses. As the rainbow of light came closer to Harry's head he was awash in memories. Harry immediately realized that the memories were not his, they were Dumbledore's. The sensation was similar to what Harry had experienced when falling into Dumbledore's thoughts in the Pensieve. He kept this thought at the back of his mind as a calming anchor. "These are just memories," he silently repeated.

He caught fleeting glimpses of Dumbledore's parents, Dumbledore's brother Aberforth, of Fawkes, of Nicolas Flamel, many witches, wizards, centaurs, merpeople, elves, goblins, and several races of creatures Harry had never encountered. In each case a feeling of friendship, a bond coursed through Harry. In the fleeting images, Harry's fears of facing Snape and Tom Riddle were realized. The images went by so fast that Harry didn't have time to dwell on them. As the impressions passed, they became more familiar, some repeated numerous times, some only once, but each attended by a feeling of intense connection. The images suddenly stopped and Harry realized that he and his companions were enveloped by light traveling from the orb and down each of the five wands. The light then began to rotate, slowly at first, and then faster and faster. As each "spoke" of light passed Harry he felt as if a connection to his companions was made and broken. There were more flashes of thought and memory, but the images were so fleeting that Harry could not separate one from the next. He was overwhelmed by the strength of the connection he felt to his fellow willy readers. Suddenly the light seemed to catch and shatter into millions of sparkling, dust-like particles. Harry observed that the globe on the table was dark and empty. His mind was so full of thoughts and connection that he felt as if his head would burst open.

Someone was speaking. The sound was dull and far away. He realized it was Moody. Harry tried to concentrate. It was so hard. What was Moody saying? Through his mind fog, Harry could hear Moody summoning Dumbledore's portrait from the wall where it snoozed peacefully. Through eyes swimming with tears of gratitude for friends current, and for friends long gone, Harry watched the portrait settle face-down on the willy table under the golden support for the now dark orb. Each of the others at the table had removed their wand tips from the orb and had placed them at a corner of the portrait in a small channel that ran around the perimeter of the golden frame. Moody motioned to a spot in the centre of the painting that was connected to the channel by what appeared to be small threads. Harry knew Moody wanted him to place the tip of his wand just there. But then what? Harry's hand shook as he attempted to place his wand on the spot Moody had shown him. As he got close to the spot, his wand was pulled in, almost as if the spot and his wand were opposite poles of a magnet. When his wand touched down, Harry's hearing seemed to clear to a degree. Moody's voice was more distinct.

"All right, everyone, timing is important if we are to achieve a homogeneous re-blending. On my count of three we all say "Alma Reparo" without taking our wands from the portrait frame. Ready then, one, two, three."

Five voices chimed in unison "Alma Reparo." The reaction was instantaneous. Jets of silver light shot from four wands and filled the channel incised into the back of the portrait frame. A web of the same silver light shot from Harry's wand and covered the back of the portrait with an intricate silver lace that appeared to be in constant motion. Each of the five slumped back in their chairs, exhausted.

Moody took off the now stationary cap, McGonagall released the quiescent pot, Arthur Weasley refolded the silent metallic scarf, and with a look of relief, Lupin took his hand from the silver bowl.

"Well done," said a weakly smiling Lupin. "I do believe that now Dumbledore's portrait can tell us what we need to do to settle his estate.

"If I don't miss my guess, Remus, it will tell us a lot more than that. You see, I have participated in the readings of the last willy and testament of many Aurors, and this was no ordinary reading. Something extraordinary has happened here." The words were Moody's, and they were spoken in a tone broaching no argument.

"Well let's sign and seal the portrait and find out what it has to say," said Professor McGonagall in a subdued voice.

"I agree," said Arthur Weasley, "let's finish this."

« Chapter 1 - Mayhem and Memories   Chapter 3 - Signed, Sealed and Delivered »


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