On their arrival at Grimmauld Place, they found most members of the Order already congregated there. As Molly had stated, there was to be a meeting as well. The unofficial offer initially made to Harry, Ron and Hermione for them to join had been somewhat thwarted by Harry's refusal to disclose his business with Dumbledore, thus; they hadn't been allowed to take part at that stage.
Harry was in a way glad about it. He had, more consciously than not, decided not to think about issues today. He had tried to push Dumbledore's will to the back of his mind. He would find out about it soon enough in any case and he could do with one day free of sadness and grief. But, what was it that belonged to him anyway that contained a very important clue? Once Dumbledore had secretly given him his father's invisibility cloak, could it be something again which had belonged to his parents? Was that why Dumbledore had said it belonged to him anyway? This was quite probable. "But the clue?" he muttered aloud.
"I know, Harry," said Hermione, who had now been told about the late Headmaster's note and seemed to be reading into Harry's thoughts. "It seems most puzzling, but don't work yourself up. You were having such a good time!" she added, sensing he needed to lighten up.
"Only because I refused to think. Today has been one day in my life when I can definitely say that I've been overloaded with information. It's almost like I've lived all this time not knowing very much. And, Dumbledore has included me in his will! But, why? He must have known I've been quite well provided for!" Harry ranted sounding irritated.
The sense of fun and elation he had experienced earlier on was now completely gone. It's the house, he thought. Like the Dementors, it seemed to have the effect of sucking out his happiness. And they were going to have to be there for a while! He'd better get used to it.
"Harry, why are you so pissed off about being so rich? Is it because of the way you have come by the money?" Stupid question, thought Ron, wishing he had kept his mouth shut.
"I suspect it may have something to do with it!" bellowed Hermione, reproachfully.
Harry sighed at his two friends antics as he ran his fingers roughly through his messy black hair. "You two, please stop bickering. It's me. I'm acting strangely, I know. I should be happy about the money. Also, I'm not going to say that I'm now, all of a sudden, this miserable because my parents are dead; after all, I've had nearly sixteen years to dwell on that already. I don't know..." Harry tried to explain, shaking his head slightly, on the verge of getting annoyed with himself.
"But you miss them, don't you?" Hermione asked empathically. "And Sirius... and ... Dumbledore writing you into his will, well..."
"This is going to sound odd but I just wish I could be normal,” Harry added, in another attempt to get to the bottom of why he was feeling so gloomy.
"But you are normal," stated Ron not quite understanding. "What is it that's not normal about you anymore?"
"Anymore? Ron, I've not been normal since the day I found out I was a wizard! Well, there is the scar for one thing, and the prophecy, and the added complication of the Horcruxes! Where do you want me to start?" he retorted with a hint of sarcasm.
"Come on, Harry, you are being a bit selfish. Remember, we’ve all had loses, we all miss Dumbledore," snapped Ginny. "Look on the bright sight, for goodness sake! You are of age now, you can do what you like, you don't have to be stuck at school, like me, not knowing what you three are getting up to, not being able to help!" she added. "And there was me thinking you were trying to have some fun today!"
"You're right," replied Harry forcing himself to smile. "I think it's this bloody house, Sirius' mum's portrait, the whole damn place!"
Hermione reached out her hand and placed it on his shoulder in a comforting manner as she spoke softly, "That's because you have a gift to perceive its darkness, things that have gone on here, you can feel that. I think Sirius did too. That's why he was like that, why he hated being here..."
"Can't everybody feel it?" asked Harry, genuinely wondering.
"To a certain extent," replied Hermione. "But I honestly believe you can feel it more, you're sensitive and very talented," she complimented him. "Hopefully this sensitivity will help you, you know, to spot dark magic."
"Maybe," Harry let out a little smile, this time from his heart.
"Harry will not disclose and that's the end of it. Either he joins regardless or he doesn't," summarised Lupin.
"Veritaserum, give him Veritaserum!" said Mad-Eye in a temper.
"Merlin's beard, Alastor! Don't be such an animal!" protested Molly. "We can't force the kid like that."
"Anyway, before we go any further a new leader has to be elected. I propose a ballot," suggested Arthur Weasley.
"Well, I'd have suggested Minerva myself but, since we don't know if she will ever completely recover..." explained Kingsley Shaklebolt.
Alastor has leadership skills, thought Arthur, but he can be, well, a little unpredictable and a little paranoid. Lupin would be an excellent choice but didn't dare propose him as he was sure being a werewolf was not in his favour and he didn't want people to express that thought too openly. Last thing poor Remus needed!
"I thin' it ou' ter be 'arry," Hagrid surprised everyone by saying. " 'e's supposed ter be the Chosen One."
"Rubeus, he's not even a member yet. He's only seventeen," pointed out Kingsley.
"Well, he's the least likely person to go defecting to You-Know-Who!" admitted Moody.
It was not an easy election, some members were too young, others too old, too peculiar, or not always available ... the list went on.
"Let's have a secret ballot, then, but let's wait until later because, who knows? Dumbledore may have said something in his will in this regard. Now, about Potter, are we going to ask him to join?" prompted Tonks. There was more or less unanimity. The same went for his friends. "Ok, let's get them in, then."
Remus Lupin brought Harry, Ron and Hermione to the drawing room in the first floor of the house. That was the same drawing room they had helped Mrs. Weasley clean a couple of years back. Harry remembered the sun faded, mouldy, green curtains, the worn carpet and the remainder of the awful tapestries, the ones that couldn't be removed as they had been fixed with a sticking charm. This time, there was a large oval table in the middle and the Order members were sitting around it. Tonks winked at Harry to make him feel relaxed. He returned the gesture by smiling back.
Harry got a bit worried when he saw it was Alastor who stood up to address them. He was fearing that, once again, he would ask to become privy to Dumbledore's secret. However, he was pleasantly surprised to find that that wasn't the case.
"And now, I must ask you this but, before you answer, before you swear the Oath." Harry and Ron glanced at each other inquisitively. "You must read it for yourselves and take the time to think about it." Moody paused. "It is not a commitment to be taken lightly and it constitutes a binding magical contract."
Another binding contract, thought Harry, but of course, it had to be that way. They couldn't risk people going over to the other side and so forth. Well, not that it had stopped Snape at all!
They read the Oath and nodded in assent. They were ready to become full members.
"Now draw your wands!" instructed the former Auror.
The existing members rose from their seats and formed a circle. They stood with their wands pointing towards the centre.
"Ronald Billius Weasley. Repeat after me: I Ronald Billius Weasley solemnly promise, swear and declare,"
"I Ronald Billius Weasley..." repeated Ron, trying not to trip his tongue out of nerves.
"My allegiance to the principles and rules of the Order of the Phoenix,"
"My allegiance to the principles and rules of the Order of the Phoenix," Ron repeated again.
"I will not betray any secrets I may become privy to. I will face danger courageously and will use my best endeavours to fight the Dark Arts even if that means endangering my own life."
When he finished repeating this final verse there was a loud bellow of, "Welcome, Ronald Weasley!" as they joined their wands in the centre of the circle. Sparkles in a wide variety of colors flew from the tips of everyone's wands as a bright white light shot out of Ron's.
"Now, Hermione!" proceeded Moody
"I, Hermione Jane Granger..."
"Finally, let's welcome a most awaited new member, Harry James Potter!" announced Alastor.
"I, Harry James Potter..."
Again, sparkles flew from the centre of the circle emitting a bright pure white light, just as it had for Ron and Hermione. Harry looked at this phenomenon, again awe stricken. This joining of wands seemed to always have an impact on him.
"And now everyone, let's have some refreshments before the will's contents are revealed," encouraged Molly Weasley. "Well, boys and girl, you've done it at last. I hope this isn't a mistake. You're still so young..."
"Leave it, Mum," said Ron, shaking his head thinking she would never, ever change.
When they exited the room and headed for the kitchen, Ginny reached out and grabbed Harry's hand, pulling him to the side. "What was it like?" she whispered to him. As she was the youngest, she always felt left out.
"It wasn't that mysterious, to be honest," Harry answered. "Anyway, we'll propose you as soon as you are seventeen, it's not that long to go," he added reassuringly.
They had a little break, and then Remus announced the reading of Albus Dumbledore's will. The way in which this was done was, predictably, different from the Muggle procedure. Each beneficiary, alone, entered the drawing room in turn and, with the aid of the late Headmaster's Pensieve, viewed a memory which Dumbledore had recorded and which detailed his last message to the said person.
Mrs. Weasley came back into the kitchen touched and satisfied. "It's so thoughtful of him. What are we to do without him now?"
"Please, Mum, don't sob anymore!" pleaded Ron, who could never get used to his mother's display of emotions.
"He's left us quite a bit, Ron. I would never had thought he held us in such regard!" and again, her eyes filled with tears. “Well Aberforth, his brother, got most of his estate, but still, he seems to have thought of everyone,” she continued, her eyes slightly humid.
After her turn had ended, Hermione came back to join the group looking positively self satisfied. “Guess what he’s left me?”
“Books?” answered Ron, nearly joking.
“Yes, Ron, from his private collection and some notes and papers!" She could hardly contain her excitement. “But shush, it’s not supposed to be public knowledge.”
Hagrid came out as well, weeping out his tears and cleaning his nose with a large handkerchief.
Harry was beginning to get worried since he now had the distinct impression that he’d been left for last. He wasn’t wrong. He was dying to see Dumbledore again, even if he kept repeating to himself that this was just a memory and not the real wizard, but his heart was also filled with a strange sense of dread, his nerves were getting the better of him.
"Good evening, Harry.”
“Good evening, Professor,” he replied, staring at the image as if trying to reach it.
Dumbledore smiled fondly at his former pupil. “Now, now, Harry, what did I tell you? You can’t bring back the dead. But anyhow, no doubt you are wondering why I left you for last.”
Harry nodded at the image, his eyes open like saucers. This experience could be said to be somewhere between being in the Pensive and talking to a portrait. It wasn't like Tom's diary, though, you didn't lose control.
“An object has been used for this exercise that I wish to leave to you.”
“The Pensieve?” Harry tried to guess.
The late Headmaster's smile turned to one of delight and his eyes sparkled as he clapped his hands together joyfully. “Correct, my dear. As always, use it well. I thought you or your friends may find something in there that I may have overlooked and, in any event, it may come in handy whenever you need to relieve the burden of too many thoughts. You thought I was going to leave you money, didn’t you?”
Harry blushed. “No, why would you?” he replied in a humble tone.
“Exactly. If you are of age when you see this, you will know by then that that is not at the top on your list of priorities. If you are not of age, well, you will have to wait and see.”
“I am of age, sir, as from today.”
“Very well, Harry and happy birthday. Now, there is something else and, I cannot stress enough how important I think this item is. Since you say you are of age, I will tell you what it is. It is your mother’s wand. It is currently in Hagrid’s care. He retrieved it when he went to get you from the wreckage.”
“Sir,” interrupted Harry, his heart pumping like mad. “Sir, what is the clue?”
Dumbledore's eyes took on that familiar twinkle as he spoke, “I think you have probably worked that out for yourself by now.”
“Priori Incantatem?” asked Harry timidly.
Dumbledore smiled again but remained completely silent. After a little pause he added, “All I can say to you is what I have already said in my earlier message. Do not attempt to use it until the task is almost complete.” The image smiled as if truly in a state of peace but with complicity. "And even then, only if you chose to fight Lord Voldemort," Dumbledore's image stated serenely.
“Also, Professor, Professor!” Harry was impatient. He needed answers. He may never get another chance. “Do you know how you died?”
“Yes, Harry, I do know how I died. But this is my will, not a conversation. I cannot discuss the details of my death with you or anyone. All the advice I can give you is the advice I already had for you before my passing: Don’t consume yourself with hatred and remember that you have power he knows not.”
Harry stared at him, trying to penetrate the late Headmaster’s soul. “Another thing, sir,” Harry was now very apprehensive. “I have broken my promise.” Dumbledore’s image was expressionless but still tranquil. “I've told someone...” Harry said ashamed.
“Ginny, Ginny Weasley, Professor. She found out for herself,” he tried to explain.
“Well, Harry, if she found out herself you have betrayed no one. Now, I must leave you, Harry. This is only an imprint, this is my will. I cannot answer your many questions and, again, I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful. Now, take care of yourself and don’t dwell too much. Good to see you.”
“Good to see you too, sir.”
Harry sat there for a considerable while after the image had vanished. Priori Incantatem, my mother’s wand ... Dumbledore knows how he died! All these thoughts were overwhelming him. Suddenly, with a stroke of geniality, he thought, That’s it, the Pensieve! And with a tap of his wand he collected all those thoughts. His troubles were now swirling into his newly acquired receptacle. Harry watched this take place and smiled in awe.
“He’s left me the Pensieve!” Harry announced to his friends and proceeded to join the party that had been thrown for him.
"Ok, just before we celebrate Harry's birthday," announced Lupin, "let's proceed to the ballot. New members should take part as well."
They went back the drawing room where they had been assembled earlier. In the centre of a table was a shiny object that reminded Harry of the Goblet of Fire. They all grabbed a piece of parchment and wrote down their choice of leader. They were instructed to tap it with their wands which caused the object to blast into red flames. Harry thought he could hear something like a phoenix song. Fawkes? But the phoenix itself was no where to be seen. After a few minutes, the flames extinguished themselves and one single piece of parchment floated above the goblet. Arthur Weasley extended his hand and picked it up: "Kingsley Shacklebolt!" he announced in a clear and decisive tone of voice. The nominated Auror appeared surprised by this result.
"Well, do you accept the position?" asked Moody, formalising the procedure.
"I guess I will have to, but still, if Minerva recovers I think we may wish to reconsider casting a vote again," said the tall black man, in a deep calm voice. His appearance was so different from Dumbledore's, he was much younger for one thing. This feels weird, thought Harry.
"Very well," concluded Arthur Weasley. "Now, the question of the Secret Keeper. The Fidelius Charm has still been effective despite Dumbledore's death, however, we are all in agreement that a new Secret Keeper should be found."
"Now, loyalty is the most important thing here, is it not?" reminded Mad-Eye Moody. "Who do we know that will not break a promise, reveal a secret no matter how approached?"
"Harry!" several voices shouted simultaneously.
"Potter!" addressed the newly appointed leader. "Would you accept this task?"
He was taken aback. He hadn't thought of this. He reflected a while. "I'd gladly bear the burden but I'd ask you to consider the fact that, since I am Voldemort's prime target, I'm the least likely member to survive. The Order could end up facing the same problem in no time at all, a dead Secret Keeper..."
"I love your optimism!" commented Ron ironically, in a low voice.
"Fellow members,” addressed Remus Lupin, “Are we prepared to cross that bridge if we get to it?" Remus asked, while giving Harry a diapproving look.
"Yes, I am", "And me", "Me too," various people replied.
All the eyes were now fixed on Harry.
"Ok, if you think I'm a safe bet, I'll do it."
"And with this being settled, let's enjoy ourselves!" said Mr. Weasley. "Happy birthday, Harry."
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