Harry and Dumbledore talk again regarding Harry's decision, and the Author has a Question.
Summer, Day 14 (July 14, 1996), Hogsmeade
It only took a day for Dumbledore to send Harry a message requesting another meeting at Hogwarts on July 12th (two days thereafter). Harry responded negatively, saying that he would need at least another day, and that he would not meet on Hogwarts grounds. Dumbledore's second suggestion was a meeting at the Hogs Head Tavern in Hogsmeade on Harry's first available day. Harry agreed to that.
It had been four very rushed days for Remus, Tonks, and Harry to prepare everything for the meeting, but they managed. Five days after the previous meeting, Lupin and Harry portkeyed to the Hogs Head Tavern. Remus waited downstairs in the bar, while the 'proprietor' (another Dumbledore, from the looks of him, although he had obviously trained with Filch on social skills) led Harry to a back room where the Headmaster was waiting.
"Good afternoon, Professor," Harry said as he entered the room. He took off his backpack and laid it on the table. "As promised, I came alone, except for Remus as my escort. He's waiting downstairs."
"Good afternoon, Harry," the Headmaster said jovially. "I took the liberty of ordering tea and biscuits. Would you care for anything?"
"No, thank you, sir," Harry replied. He pulled a large, glass, magical device from his backpack, and set the device on the table so that both he and Dumbledore could see it easily.
"Bearing I mind your warnings about safety," Harry told the older wizard, "I bought the most accurate foe glass I could find, and had it attuned to me by a master in the field of detection charms."
The foe glass very clearly showed the faces of Albus Dumbledore (exactly as he appeared sitting at the table), Alastor Moody, and Severus Snape.
"This foe glass is calibrated to show anyone within one kilometer of me that is focused on capturing or incapacitating me, harming me, or forcing me to do something against my will."
Harry looked at the foe glass, then looked back at the Headmaster with a raised eyebrow.
"Well, ironically enough," Harry said, "two members of your Order just happen to be nearby and are intent on coercing, capturing, or harming me. Would you please find Mr. Moody and Mr. Snape and ask them to leave the area?"
"Harry, Alastor and Severus mean you no-"
"Sir, we agreed on a meeting just between the two of us. I kept my end of the bargain. Do I need to get a wizard's oath from you for you to keep your word?"
Albus closed his eyes and sighed. "No, of course not, Harry."
Dumbledore rose and left the room. After a minute (and some gruff laughter in the hallway), Moody's form in the foe glass receded to the shadows in the background. After five more minutes (and some angry shouts from the hallway), Snape's image also receded from the foreground of the magical device, leaving only Dumbledore's face clearly visible.
The Headmaster returned to the room and to his seat.
"Now, Harry," he said, "where shall we start?"
"You requested this meeting, Professor, so what would you like to discuss?" Harry asked amiably. He found a bit of satisfaction at turning Dumbledore's usual tactic of diversion back on the Headmaster.
"What I'd like to do is better understand why you've chosen to leave Hogwarts, Harry," Dumbledore said. "I understand the hardships of the last year were fairly extensive, especially for you, but is distancing yourself from your friends going to change that, or make it any better?"
"Sir, this last year, a Hogwarts professor sent two dementors to my house over the summer to try to kill me. She tried to dose me with Veritaserum twice, and tried use the Cruciatus curse on me once."
"She did /what/?" the older wizard said, obviously shocked and angry.
"Please, sir, let me finish," Harry asked, unwilling to be sidetracked. "In detentions approved by Professor McGonagall, Professor Umbridge had me carve words on the back of my hand with an enchanted quill. She conspired to have me expelled or, failing that, to have all of my privileges removed. All in one school year. That wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that it was a fairly average school year for me."
"I've got a job to do, according to the Prophecy you told me. I accept that. But if I'm to do that job, I can't afford two more school years like the ones I've had. I can't be busy worrying about who's trying to kill me, or what plot to destroy wizard-kind is going on in the school while I'm trying to get an education and trying to prepare for a showdown with Voldemort.
"Harry, there's no need to abandon the resources and support of Hogwarts. We can design a study program specially suited to-"
"Professor, with all due respect, Hogwarts is a training camp for Death Eaters."
This time, the anger behind Dumbledore's eyes was directed at Harry. The teenager could see why the world's greatest wizards and witches respected this man's power. Nevertheless, Harry felt the Headmaster needed to hear this.
"Think about it, sir. The point system is the means to express Hogwarts' standards to the students and to enforce those standards. All students, prefects, professors, and staff are required to follow its rules and guidelines. This system allows one professor to add points to his 'chosen ones' based on their wealth and status. At the same time, the students that the professor dislikes get points docked regardless of what they do, no matter how hard they try to do what's right. He gives no consideration to whether the students have done something right or wrong. He grades assignments the same way."
Seeing the Headmaster's face getting the "speaking down to a little child" look on it, Harry said, "Sir, this is not a complaint I alone have made. I know for certain that at least two professors made these same complaints last year, and at least three did the year before."
The Headmaster looked surprised, then settled back into a pensive look. "Please continue," was his only comment.
"Now, given the point and grading systems I've mentioned, what message is this system sending the average kid: that the world respects doing what's right, or that the world respects wealth and power? What lesson is Hogwarts teaching?"
"Harry, I know you have issues with Profess-" Dumbledore started.
"No, sir, I do not. He has issues with me. You've seen fit to allow them to continue unchecked. At this time, the best thing I can do for myself and others is to refuse to participate."
"Harry, Severus has given much to our side. His role-"
"- is something we're not discussing right now. We're discussing Hogwarts.
"Tell me, sir: is a school really the best place to set up as a battleground for Dark and Light? Can't you have Snape, Trelawney, and all of the other pawns play their part somewhere else, without sacrificing the futures of all of the kids at Hogwarts? How many kids will never be a Healer or an Auror just because Snape didn't like them and failed them, regardless of their skill? How many people will die because of one less Healer or Auror in the world? /WHY? Why does this have to happen?/"
Harry looked straight in Dumbledore's eyes, and continued in a soft voice that carried just as much weight as his earlier tone. "I can't participate in that. I can't live day after day, watching it happen, and not being able to do anything about it. The best I can do is step away, and focus on my job."
Harry could see that Dumbledore was surprised at the fire in his eyes and the conviction in his voice. Harry knew this was right. It just remained to be seen whether Dumbledore was going to listen or not.
"Harry, you have given me much to reflect upon. I promise you, I will consider everything you've told me, regardless of what you decide about attending Hogwarts," Dumbledore said.
After a thoughtful pause, the wizened wizard continued, "I ask for you to consider this: will Hogwarts be any better for not having you attend? Can you do more good by attending Hogwarts or by not attending Hogwarts?"
"Sir, I already have the responsibility of saving the wizarding world from Voldemort. Is that not enough? Are you asking me to do something more?"
Albus once again closed his eyes, rubbed the bridge of his nose, and sighed. "No. No, Harry, I'm not. I see you've taken what you've been told to heart, chosen a course, and considered your decision carefully. I can expect no more of you.
"I only ask that you remember your friends and extended family at Hogwarts. There are many there that will be sad to see you leave."
"I haven't forgotten my friends, Professor. I hope to see them on Hogwarts weekends, if you allow it."
"I shall do my best to facilitate it, Harry. You have earned at least that much."
The Headmaster rose. "Thank you, Harry, for your time, and for all you've given to Hogwarts. Would you be open to future discussions like this one?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you for listening. I've learned a lot at Hogwarts, and from you. I think it'll prove to be a good foundation for the job I have to do."
Thanks for those of you who've reviewed.
Well, to get just a little farther in the story, I decided to removed (or defer) a sub-plot (I removed the person rummaging in the remains of Black Mansion from Chapter 3) and to put out what I had for a short chapter. Here's why:
A lot of post-OotP fanfics have been written. Many of the ideas I had for this story that I had never seen before have since been done (like Harry being made an assistant professor). Now, with the direction I felt this story heading (Harry leaving Hogwarts), that is even more the case. I believe Draco664 (http://draco664.fanficauthors .net/) and bellerophon30 (http://www.fanfiction.net/u/712211/) have come up with the definitive fanfics of the post-OotP, Harry-leaves-Hogwarts variety. What can be said that they aren't already saying?
Based on this, I can either wrap this story up with a short epilogue, or I can continue with my (hopefully somewhat unique) view of this flavor of fanfics. If I continue, Harry will not spend his sixth year at Hogwarts, although he may return for his seventh year. He will still interact heavily with established characters.
Does anyone have a preference of whether I continue or end this fic? Don't worry, I won't be offended if no one answers or if the answer is 'end it!'.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006