Dumbledore's New Role
Hermione would have liked to have kept the fact that Dumbledore was the new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher a secret, just in case the Headmaster did not want people to know before there class with him. However, Ron could always been counted on to be blindingly tactless in almost all situations.
‘Have you heard? Dumbledore’s going to be teaching Defence Against The Dark Arts!’ blurted Ron for what seemed like the thousandth time at breakfast the next morning.
‘A little louder Ron,’ said Hermione, rolling her eyes. ‘I don’t think they heard you in Scotland!’
‘What? It’s great news,’ said Ron, turning back around in his chair. ‘We finally get someone who’s going to last.’ He began happily shovelling spoonfuls of porridge into his mouth, grinning about what he felt was the best news he had heard in a very long time.
‘Yes I agree Ron, it’s fantastic news but what if Dumbledore doesn’t want people knowing before he tells them himself?’
‘You worry too much,’ said Ron in between mouthfuls. ‘It’s going to be great, isn’t it Harry?’
‘Yeah, great,’ said Harry with far less enthusiasm than was expected.
‘You alright?’ asked Ron, taking a momentary break from stuffing himself.
‘Yeah,’ sighed Harry.
‘Is something the matter?’ asked Hermione.
‘I don’t know,’ shrugged Harry. ‘I’m glad Dumbledore’s taking over Defence Against The Dark Arts and everything, but why not sooner?’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Hermione.
‘Well, if he’s the only wizard out there who Voldemort’s afraid of why didn’t he do this years ago?’
‘I dunno,’ shrugged Ron. ‘Why don’t you ask him?’
‘Maybe I will,’ said Harry, staring thoughtfully into his pumpkin juice.
* * *
By the time the sixth year Gryffindors had their first Defence Against The Dark Arts class Ron had successfully blabbed about Dumbledore’s new appointment to almost everyone he had seen. The majority of students were just as happy as he was that their beloved Headmaster would be schooling them in the fight against Voldemort, but this jubilation was not completely school wide. The Slytherins were less than happy, and some of the more vocal students used any opportunity they could to voice their distaste at Dumbledore’s new teaching position. No one paid them any attention though; the majority of students and faculty considered Professor Dumbledore teaching Defence Against The Dark Arts to be a spectacular idea.
Unsurprisingly, this was still the main topic of conversation by the time Harry, Ron and Hermione were filing into the Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom later that week. Hermione shook her head as she heard scores of her classmates discussing nothing but Dumbledore.
‘So Ron, did you remember to tell everyone?’ she said dryly as she sat down.
‘Yeah yeah,’ said Ron, slinging his bag on to his desk. ‘Give it a rest, will you?’ The class took to their desks but the various conversations did not die down, people were still speculating on the upcoming class and what it could possibly entail. Only when Professor Dumbledore appeared at the top of the stairs at the front of the classroom did the multiple conversations finally cease.
‘I am pleased to see that my new appointment has generated such lively discussion.’ He descended the stairs and stood in front of his class, gazing serenely at the assembled young minds that he was now doubly responsible for. He was used to being in the charge of students at Hogwarts but it had been some years since he had taught a class. The task did not daunt him though, in many ways he was glad to back in the saddle, he just wished that it were not under such dire circumstances. The sixth year Gryffindor class sat quietly and patiently, waiting to see what their Headmaster had in store for them.
‘I do not see the need in repeating what I said on the first night of term,’ he began. ‘I am sure that all of you are more than aware of the dangers that face us at the present time. Lord Voldemort has returned to full strength and I have taken it upon myself to school you in the ways of protection against his influence and his followers.’
The class sat with a mixture of emotions, many were excited that Professor Dumbledore had taken such firm action, but there was still the underlying fear of the Dark Lord and his loyal band of Death Eaters. Dumbledore seemed to pick up on this and he smiled benignly before continuing.
‘I myself am aware that the very mention of the Dark Lord conjures a mixture of emotions, and therefore what I teach to one student may not be as effective to another. So I have decided to see you all individually for personal tutorials, this will allow me to ascertain the best possible method for your own protection and give me the chance to teach it to you on a one-to-one basis, which I feel will prove far more productive than the traditional class structure.’
Dumbledore allowed his latest announcement to sink in and watched as expressions moved from surprise to confusion and back to surprise again.
‘So what is going to happen today is I will post this list of names and times,’ with a wave of his hand a piece of parchment appeared in the air beside him. ‘And while you are waiting for your tutorial I suggest you adjourn to either your common room or the library and use the time to do some homework.’
The class stood up uncertainly and began to file out, seeing the parchment that Dumbledore had conjured posted on the door. Some people headed back to the Gryffindor common room, some to the library, including Harry, Ron and Hermione.
‘This is an excellent idea,’ said Hermione enthusiastically, as they headed towards the library. ‘I think it will really give people a chance to learn a lot.’
‘I’m just glad I’m a Weasley,’ said Ron, nudging Harry.
‘And why is that?’ asked Hermione, turning around to face Ron and Harry.
‘Because,’ said Ron, grinning. ‘He’s seeing people alphabetically.’ Hermione rolled her eyes and sighed as she realised what Ron was talking about.
‘I can’t believe you sometimes Ron,’ said Hermione, shaking her head. ‘Here we have a chance to learn from the best of the best on how to defend ourselves from You-Know-Who and all you can think about is skiving off.’
‘Hey hey, easy there Hermione,’ said Ron, holding his hands up in defence. ‘I’m just glad I don’t have to go first, that’s all.’
‘Well personally, I can’t wait for my tutorial, the questions I can ask, the things Professor Dumbledore can teach me, the possibilities are endless.’
‘Okay, take it easy,’ said Ron, casting a knowing glance at Harry. ‘We know you love to learn new stuff but there’s no need to wet yourself.’
‘Oh honestly Ron,’ sighed Hermione, as she turned on her heel and continued on her way. Ron grinned widely at Harry as they followed Hermione to the library, he did so love to bait her.
Finding a table in the library, Harry and Ron began taking parchment and books out of their bag, ready to get some homework done before their tutorial with Dumbledore. Hermione however had disappeared into the shelves and returned several minutes later with a stack of heavy tomes.
‘Aren’t you going to do your homework?’ asked Ron, as he smoothed out a piece of parchment.
‘I did all my homework last night,’ replied Hermione, as she dumped the large books on to the table with an audible thump. ‘You know, you could stay on top of things as well if you didn’t spend your evenings playing Wizard Chess and Exploding Snap, both of you.’ Harry looked up from his piece of parchment that he had only written his name on, not expecting Hermione to pick on him as well.
‘I’m sorry Hermione,’ said Harry flatly. ‘I like to have something to take my mind off things and playing Wizard Chess and Exploding Snap with Ron helps me forget about things like, oh I don’t know, Sirius’ death.’ The words left his mouth and hung in the air like a dense, uncomfortable fog while Harry stared at Hermione. She could not return his gaze and Ron looked at both of them with a worried expression. Eventually Hermione spoke up, but in a much quieter tone.
‘Harry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…’
‘Forget it,’ said Harry, opening one of his books. ‘It’s okay.’
‘Harry, she didn’t mean anything…’
‘I said forget it,’ snapped Harry, fixing both his friends with a hard frown. After a few seconds his expression softened and he let out a long sigh before speaking again. ‘Look I’m sorry guys, I didn’t mean to bite your head off, it just gets to me sometimes, you know?’
‘Of course,’ said Hermione, sitting down next to Harry. ‘I didn’t mean to push.’
‘It’s okay,’ said Harry, smiling weakly. ‘Lets forget about it.’ Although the three friends had made up little conversation followed, instead they each got on with their work, the sound of turning pages and scratching quills the only noise that could be heard.
Some time passed, and Harry was busily working away when an irregular movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention. He looked up but saw nothing, Ron and Hermione did not seem to have noticed; they carried on with what they were doing with blank expressions. Shrugging it off, Harry carried on with his work but then a dark figure walked passed their table and turned to face him. Harry froze, his quill a mere inch from his parchment, his mouth open agape, this could not be happening.
It was Sirius.
He looked exactly the way he did the last time Harry saw him, his black hair and beard cut and trimmed neatly in stark contrast to the wild and woolly dimensions it had reached while he was imprisoned in Azkaban. Harry continued to stare in total shock as Sirius smiled and waved, this simply could not be happening.
As Harry stared open mouthed at his supposedly deceased godfather, Sirius turned around and began to walk away. Harry called after him as loudly as he could without incurring the wrath of Madam Pince but not only did Sirius fail to respond but neither Ron, nor Hermione nor indeed anyone else in the library react to Harry’s raised voice. He called louder but still Sirius would not answer and still no one seemed bothered that Harry was now shouting. Standing up, he began to follow Sirius throughout the library, but no matter how loud he shouted his late godfather just would not answer. Catching up with him, Harry grabbed Sirius by the arm, causing the man to turn around.
‘Sirius! I thought you were dead. How did you…?’ Harry stopped when Sirius smiled again, turned around and carried on walking, seemingly in the direction of a door at the end of the library. Harry frowned in confusion as he tried to remember where that door led and as he pondered this a feeling of cold dread swept through him. He did not know where the door led but he was now certain that it was nowhere good, and he had to stop Sirius from approaching it.
‘Sirius, no!’ shouted Harry, as he started to run towards his godfather, but his legs felt heavy and would not cooperate with him. As he strained to reach Sirius he saw his godfather reach for the doorknob and begin to open to mysterious door. All Harry could see past Sirius was complete blackness and the feeling of dread intensified as he watched as Sirius stepped inside. The door closed slowly behind him and when Harry finally reached it he swung it open only to reveal the wall of the library, Sirius was gone again.
‘No!’ screamed Harry.
‘Harry, Harry wake up.’
‘Harry, you were having a bad dream.’
Shaking himself awake, Harry opened his eyes and unclenched his fists, hearing the crackle of parchment as he did so. Caked in sweat, his glasses had slid off his nose, and Ron and Hermione were standing on each side of him, both with worried looks on their faces.
‘What, what’s going on?’ he asked blearily.
‘You were having a bad dream,’ said Ron, laying a reassuring hand on Harry’s shoulder. ‘Sounded like a bloody awful one as well.’
‘I dreamed about Sirius,’ said Harry, putting his glasses back on and attempting to smooth out the parchment he had crumpled in his sleep.
‘We know, you began screaming his name,’ said Hermione, offering him a handkerchief.
‘Screaming is the word,’ said Madam Pince irritably as she approached the table. ‘I will not have such noise in my library. Mister Potter, if you feel the need for an afternoon nap kindly do it in your dormitory, not in here, thank you.’
‘Yes, sorry,’ said Harry, slightly embarrassed. ‘It won’t happen again.’
‘I should hope not,’ huffed Madam Pince, before returning to her desk. The people who Harry’s screaming had attracted began to go about their business again but Ron and Hermione sat in silence, not knowing what to say.
‘Harry, are you okay?’ ventured Hermione uneasily.
‘I’ll feel better after I talk to Dumbledore,’ replied Harry.
‘I hope so,’ said Hermione.
* * *
One by one, the sixth year Gryffindors had their tutorials with Professor Dumbledore and when it was Harry’s turn he made his way back to the Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom. Knocking gently, the door swung slowly open and stepping inside Harry saw Dumbledore sitting at his desk at the head of the classroom.
‘Ah Harry, do come in,’ smiled Dumbledore, putting down his quill. Harry approached the desk and stood before the Headmaster, causing him to smile amusedly. ‘Please, take a seat.’
Harry sat down and looked at his Headmaster who frowned slightly as he looked the young man up and down.
‘Are you all right Harry?’ he asked. ‘You look a little flushed.’
‘I fell asleep in the library,’ said Harry meekly.
‘Ah, I myself have often found the peaceful environment of the library to have a certain soporific effect, but I am sure Madam Pince did not share this viewpoint.’ Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled mischievously as Harry grinned slightly. ‘But as fearsome to students as our dear Madam Pince may be,’ continued Dumbledore. ‘I do not think she is the cause for your ruffled state. Tell me Harry, when you slept, did you dream?’ Upon mentioning this, Harry looked almost confused as to how Dumbledore could know, but he had long ago stopped being too surprised at the extent of his Headmaster’s knowledge. Nodding weakly, Dumbledore looked satisfied that Harry was not going to hold back.
‘I dreamed about Sirius,’ said Harry quietly.
‘I thought you might,’ said Dumbledore sympathetically. ‘He was a good man and an important part of your life; it is only natural that you dreamed about him.’ Breaking eye contact, Professor Dumbledore pulled out a piece of parchment from his desk and quickly wrote down a few lines, covering the parchment with his hands as soon as he was finished. ‘So tell me Harry, what happened in your dream?’
‘Well, I didn’t know I was dreaming at the time,’ said Harry.
‘Very few of us do,’ said Dumbledore. ‘But please, tell me what happened.’
‘I was working in the library with Ron and Hermione when I saw something in the corner of my eye. I didn’t know what it was at first but then I saw Sirius walk right in front of our table and smile and wave at me.’
‘Go on,’ said Dumbledore, listening intently.
‘He turned and walked away so I started calling after him, quietly at first but louder and louder when no one told me to be quiet.’
‘What happened then?’ asked Dumbledore.
‘I followed him through the library but he still wouldn’t answer me, then when I caught up with him he just turned around and said nothing.’
‘Where was Sirius going?’ asked the Headmaster.
‘He was heading towards a door at the far end of the library,’ continued Harry. ‘I couldn’t remember seeing it before but I started to feel really bad about it, like I knew he shouldn’t go near it.’
‘And did he?’
‘Yes,’ sighed Harry. ‘He went through the door and when I opened it all I saw was the library wall, as if the door had never existed.’
‘What do you think this means?’ asked Dumbledore.
‘I’m not sure,’ said Harry, shaking his head slightly. ‘But it must have something to do with Sirius dying.’
‘Well done Harry,’ nodded Dumbledore. ‘It is clear to me that the door in your dream refers to the veil that Sirius passed through when he died.’ Dumbledore paused momentarily to look over his glasses at Harry before continuing. ‘Forgive my bluntness Harry, but I would imagine that you are tired of people treading on eggshells around you, I know I would be.’
‘It’s okay, Professor,’ said Harry.
‘Well, what I want you to do now is read this parchment, then I think you will know what it is I have in store for you.’ Professor Dumbledore handed Harry the parchment that he had written on moments before and sat back as Harry began to read:
“I was working in the library with Ron and Hermione when I saw something in the corner of my eye. I didn’t know what it was at first but then I saw Sirius walk right in front of our table and smile and wave at me.”
Harry blinked at the off yellow parchment while the words he had not long ago spoken sat plain as day in Dumbledore’s flowing script. He looked up at Dumbledore, then back down at the parchment, and slowly realisation stared to dawn on him.
‘You…you’re a…’ stuttered Harry.
‘Legimens,’ nodded Dumbledore.
‘I know Harry,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I should have made the responsibility of teaching you Occlumency my own in the first place, but I thought, foolishly I will now admit, that it would be a good test for Professor Snape as well.’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Harry, remembering with a shudder when Professor Snape had caught him observing embarrassing moments from the Potions Master’s past.
‘It is no secret, to those of the Order at least, that Professor Snape has a colourful past and that were it not for my intervention he would have surely been tried as a Death Eater.’ Harry repressed a slight surge of anger as he recalled the numerous times that Professor Snape had treated him unfairly but he also kept in mind that as much as he did not like the Potions Master he was putting his life in danger on a regular basis in order to provide The Order of The Phoenix with valuable information as to the movements and activities of Voldemort’s Death Eaters.
‘At any rate,’ continued Dumbledore. ‘It was as important for Professor Snape to let go of certain aspects of his past as it was for him to teach you the art of Occlumency, unfortunately some of Professor Snape’s darker moments run far deeper than I had anticipated. He is, after all a skilled Legimens.’
‘So, does this mean I’m going to start learning Occlumency again?’ asked Harry.
‘Yes, as part of your Defence Against The Dark Arts education we will be meeting once a week to go over your progress and test your abilities. I will set you reading each week but I am not going to make you write essays and such, knowledge written is not always knowledge remembered, and it is imperative that you learn as much as you can.’
‘Thank you Professor.’
‘Don’t thank me just yet,’ said Dumbledore. ‘This is not going to be an easy road, you are going to have to absorb an awful lot of information and it will no doubt get stressful at times, but I would not be proposing this if I did not think you could handle it.’
‘I’ll try my best,’ said Harry, nodding determinedly.
‘I sincerely hope so,’ said Dumbledore, pulling out another sheet of parchment. ‘This is the book I want you to start with, show Madam Pince this parchment and she will allow you to check books out of the Restricted Section.’
‘Thank you Professor,’ said Harry, pocketing the parchment.
‘Thank you Harry, I shall see you next week.’ Getting up from his chair, Harry left the Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom and made his way back to Gryffindor common room, expecting to see Ron and Hermione, but they were not there. Approaching one of the armchairs, Harry enquired with Neville Longbottom as to their whereabouts.
‘I think they said they were going to visit Hagrid,’ he said.
‘Cheers Neville,’ smiled Harry, as he made his way to the portrait hole.
- June 2005