Harry is standing by the grave of a friend, when someone approaches him for a talk. One-shot. I've placed the fic under AU because it will become one once the 7th book comes out.
"Are you coming, Harry?"
Harry was surprised to hear Hermione's voice - and a bit relieved. No, he wasn't alone. With Hermione and Ron at his side, he would never be.
He didn't answer at once. His gaze locked on the white tomb and, though he felt his heart wrenching at the sight, he decided he didn't wish to leave just yet.
"You guys go ahead," he finally said. "I will catch up with you later."
Ron was clearly about to say something, when a discreet nudge on his ribs by Hermione's elbow made him reconsider; so all that was left for him to do was nod and reluctantly follow Hermione back to Hogwarts. A hand, which Harry immediately recognised it to be Ginny's, caressed his hair a bit. Then the sound of footsteps slowly dying down until there was heavy silence told him that there was no one around anymore.
Harry could only hug himself as he was torn inside. He wanted to walk up to Dumbledore's tomb, yet his legs felt like lead, keeping him in place. It was as though Draco had cast him the petrifying spell again. In the end though, after what it seemed to Harry like many long hours, he forced himself to approach Dumbledore's tomb and let his hand trace its surface.
"Can you believe that I don't think you're dead, Professor?" he murmured before he could help himself. "Somehow I think that, if I go back to school and go upstairs into your office, Fawkes will still be preening his feathers and you'll be sitting behind your desk, smiling at me as though you expected me to be there." Harry's lips tugged into a smile as he thought back to other, happier times: when he had first met Dumbledore and had come to share a bond with him till the end.
"I don't want to go back to school and face the fact I'm wrong."
The twittering of birds was the only answer to Harry's pouring out of heart. Harry's free hand started fidgeting absentmindedly the locket in his pocket.
"Sir, I know that you, of all people, understand why I must do this," he whispered. "The sacrifices all of you made for me..." His voice faltered, but he quickly composed himself. "I assure you they weren't in vain. It's just that Hogwarts cannot offer me anything anymore, not with you gone. All year I did nothing else except witness deaths and injuries while, in spite of our efforts, Voldermort keeps winning. I have to stop him before he hurts anyone else." His eyes drifted on the engraving on the white marble. "You said it yourself, it's a path laid down for me, and now it's time I travel it. I don't want to stand aside and lose all the people I care for; I can't let it happen again. I want you to be last one I mourned."
Harry's face hardened and his mind involuntarily flashed back into that fateful night that seemed so long ago now: Dumbledore's determination to drink the Horcrux though it made him weak; the Inferi; the Death-Eaters' invasion at the school; Draco's revelation of his intentions; Snape's betrayal.
Harry's blood boiled in his veins at the injustice of it all. A tear trickled down his face in his exasperation and he felt a lump on his throat choking him. Nevertheless, he kept talking.
"I wish I were wrong about him, Professor, not you. Then we... I wouldn't be here now. How could you trust him, sir, how?" His hand, still resting on the tomb, turned into a fist. Such was the force with which Harry clenched his hand that his knuckles turned white.
"He will not live long enough to gloat on his victory, I swear it, Professor," he declared, his hand punching the stony slab angrily.
"Strong words from one so young."
Harry turned, startled. Several feet away from him stood a young woman, possibly in her early twenties. Though a travelling cloak covered most of her body frame, Harry could still tell that she was strongly built, if not as tall as he. Brown, shoulder-length hair framed her solemn face, whose features were rather coarse yet of undeniable quality. Harry marvelled at the confident gait as she walked up to him, and when he looked at her grey eyes, he saw reflected in them a determination and power of will that he had only seen before at Professor McGonagall.
"Harry Potter, I presume?" the young woman asked, her eyes fixed on Harry with obvious interest and curiosity.
"Yes," answered Harry curtly.
The young woman didn't say anything else. She merely circled Harry, as though inspecting him. Harry found that not only odd, considering that most people settled with just staring at his scar, but also a bit annoying.
"The Boy Who Lived himself," she said suddenly, like an archaeologist who just made an intriguing discovery. "I never expected I'd have the honour of meeting you."
"I wish I could say the same, miss, but I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage. I don't know your name," pointed out Harry, more harshly than he had wished.
"It is of no importance, since it can never reach the fame your name has acquired," the woman said, grinning. She didn't seem to notice the hostility with which she was welcomed, yet Harry could have sworn that he saw a twinkle of tease in her eyes.
"But," the woman continued on, "since these are bad times we're living in and no one can trust the other anymore without first exchanging at least the typicality of an introduction, I will humour you. Agatha Dupin." She extended her hand, and Harry took it, though still suspicious. The grip, he had to admit, was firm and confirmed the confidence that this person had - and it was also quite powerful.
"I wish we could have met under better circumstances but, alas, it wasn't meant to be," said Agatha once the handshake ended.
"You knew Professor Dumbledore?" asked Harry.
"As well as an employee can know her boss," Agatha answered. "I work for the Order."
Alarmed, Harry looked at his new acquaintance hard. "How come I have not heard of you? I know most of the members."
Agatha chuckled. "The reasons are so many that I'm too bored to name them all. I can, however, point out three obvious ones - so obvious, in fact, that I am surprised that you still felt compelled you should be suspicious of me. Firstly, like you said, you know most of the members, not all of them. Secondly, I never said I am a member of the Order, I said I work for it. And thirdly and most importantly, if I had wanted to harm you, I would not have revealed myself in such a dramatic manner, but cast about a dozen Unforgivable Curses on you while you still had your back on me and monologued."
Harry tried to flare at such words, but for some reason he couldn't do it. Although Dupin's words reached to the point of offensive, he didn't detect the venom he did whenever Snape run him down. Besides, she didn't speak of something false or out of spite. It was crude, straightforward honesty, and Harry found himself appreciating it. He had his fill of Fudges, Umbridges and Scrimgeours and their soft-spoken words to last him a lifetime. In the end, he nodded his understanding.
"I'm sorry, miss Dupin. I meant no offence," he said truthfully.
"None taken," answered Agatha, still smiling. "There is nothing wrong with being cautious, as long as you are for the right reasons. May I?" She pointed to the tomb meaningfully.
Harry was quite taken aback by the sudden question, but he composed himself. "Of course. Go ahead." He preferred to be left alone but, on the other hand, her wish to pay her last respects seemed truthful enough and he couldn't bring himself to send Agatha away. Moreover, though he didn't want to admit it to himself, he didn't want her to leave, not before he had learned more about someone who had also come to know Dumbledore.
"Thank you," said Agatha. She took out from her sleeve a small wand, which she waved once, murmuring a spell that Harry wasn't able to hear. Suddenly, a small flash of light appeared on the palm of Agatha's other hand, soon to be replaced by a red rose. Agatha run her fingers through the petals, lost in thought, and placed the rose on top of the white marble. All the while, Harry stood aside, watching and studying her. He caught himself wishing Agatha had known Dumbledore like he had, even cared about him in the same way. It was strange, but Harry wanted to trust her. His heart needed it after the betrayals he witnessed.
"Farewell, professor," he heard Agatha whisper; then he watched her as she grew silent, her eyes closed and her hands knitted together, giving thus the impression that she was praying. She didn't seem to take notice of Harry, who now watched her with mixed feelings of curiosity, wonder and approval. There was someone beside him who seemed to understand what Dumbledore's death truly meant.
After what it seemed for many long moments, Agatha straightened again and she half smiled at Harry. She was clearly trying to be pleasant, though she couldn't fully disguise her grief. "Thank you. I am sorry I had to interrupt your own time with him, but I wanted most people to leave before coming closer."
"It's okay," Harry said, earning another smile from Agatha. "It seems that you cared for the professor very much."
"Well, I worked for him; he was my headmaster; and he was a good man. Why shouldn't I?" said Agatha.
For a moment Harry didn't understand what her words meant, but then realisation set in his mind. His surprise must have been discernible, for Agatha laughed. "Yes, I was a Hogwarts student; a Ravenclaw, in fact. I graduated eight years ago."
Harry's heart almost leapt at this. "Then you must have been in the same year as Charles Weasley!" he exclaimed.
"Yes, indeed, though I doubt he remembers me. He could think of nothing else but dragons even then!" Agatha said with an overly dramatic roll of her eyes. She chuckled. "His brother, Ronald, is a classmate of yours, isn't he?"
Harry nodded. "He's my best friend!"
Agatha smiled. "It is quite a small world, isn't it? Even more so since we have another common acquaintance."
"Who?" asked Harry, intrigued.
"Mad Eye Moody. He was my mentor on my first year as an Auror," she explained. "And I believe he was the one that carried you safely from the Dursleys to the Headquarters of the Order."
"How did you know that? It was supposed to be a secret!" Harry exclaimed, aghast.
"It was... two summers ago. But ever since the ministry saw how badly it blundered not to listen to Dumbledore and your warnings in the first place, it's been telling openly to everyone that it was the ministry itself that provided the Aurors for such an 'impossible and life-threatening mission.' In fact, it's been trying to take credit for every action only Dumbledore has taken, like coming in contact with the Giants or spying on the Werewolves. Yes, they're aware of those and they're trying to save face. That is one of the reasons that they didn't mind the appearance of a giant at the funeral, as you may have noticed."
Harry listened on, stunned and angry.
"How dare they?" he said incredulously. Suddenly, many of the things Dumbledore had told him made sense. "I should have known. What else can one expect from people who did their best to make a lunatic out of me last year?" If he felt embittered before for what he had been through because of the Ministry, now he was filled with sheer outrage.
"I know. Like I know Scrimgeour wanted you to visit the ministry and praise it for its fine work, with the Daily Prophet as witness no less. May I ask what did you answer him?"
Harry shrugged, figuring he could tell her. "I said no; I told him I was Dumbledore's man till the end. Now I wish I had said plenty more. I should have..." Harry's voice faltered as he tried to control his anger, only to find he couldn't. "I SHOULD HAVE TOLD HIM HE CAN ROT IN HELL FOR ALL I CARE!"
Agatha shook her head a bit. "Not the politest thing to say, but I can't say I would blame you." She grew silent, clearly pondering on something, then turned again to Harry. "Will you walk with me, please? There is more I want to talk to you about, but not here."
Harry's wonder arose. "Of course, if it is important."
"It is," Agatha replied gravely, motioning for Harry to follow her to the direction of Hogsmeade. She took out her wand again and, though she didn't move her lips to make any incantation, she touched with it her forehead and Harry's. Harry instantly grabbed his wand, fearing that Agatha tried to cast a spell on him. Suddenly, however, a soft, clear voice rang within his head. You won't need that, don't worry. This is just an extra precaution, in case somebody tries to eavesdrop on us.
Harry looked up at Agatha, mesmerized. Her lips had not moved at all, yet he was certain that it was her voice he heard. He was about to speak, but before he opened his mouth Agatha placed a finger on his lips. /Don't utter your words; think them. Trust me, it is not very difficult once you put your mind into it - pun not intended. /Agatha grinned, yet still no sound came out of her lips.
Harry still looked at her, dumbfounded. What kind of spell was this? It didn't feel like the Legilemens spell or any other he had heard about or experienced.
I don't doubt that. I created the spell, based on the Legilemens' one, when I was still at Hogwarts, Agatha answered in the same strange manner. To be perfectly honest, however, I didn't think it was very useful until after I became an Auror; a job in which some conversations - like this one - are meant only for specific ears. Yes, I can hear you loud and clear. Be advised though, I was more serious than you think when I said you needed to put your mind into it. I'm not forcing myself to look into your memories, like the Legilemens spell does, but the mind is a very elusive instrument. It can associate words and images with knowledge and memories that are already stored in it in an attempt to gain and take in information. That, in its own turn, can cause all kinds of thoughts and emotions that might be relevant with what we're talking about - or, more likely, not - to be revealed to me. I had to train myself for years to keep the irrelevant thoughts in complete check and, though I understand it is probably too much I'm asking from you now, you must also try to concentrate on the thoughts that matter. Some thoughts are meant to be private and I don't want to invade them by accident. For example, the word 'invade', combined with 'thought', triggered in you thoughts about how you... Agatha winced. You looked into Snape's memories during Occlumency lessons?
I was curious! Harry admitted, his face turning crimson. I wanted to see why he hated my father so much. He heard Agatha sigh within his mind as she shook her head.
Knowing about you diving in Snape's memories was bad enough, but now you made me learn even more. This is precisely what I wanted to avoid. Please, don't let your thoughts run away with you. Agreed?
Agreed, Harry said, unable to avoid a certain level of insecurity. The truth was that that spell worried him. Having his mind exposed like that made him as vulnerable as Legilemens did. How was one supposed to control his thoughts? He tried to do that during his Occlumency lessons and he had failed.
On the other hand, he couldn't help thinking how useful such a spell could have been when he meant to spy on Draco; or even... find out about Ginny's feelings for him long before. Harry blushed, embarrassed.
I know. Tempting, isn't it? Agatha said, smiling mischievously, thus making Harry look down at his shoes.
Fortunately, Agatha didn't think that last piece of information demanded any comment, and simply carried on. Like I said, the spell and the variations I created of it afterwards upon taking up my job as an Auror, have their virtues. Death-Eaters might be trained in the ways of the Occlumency and defend themselves against the Legilemens spell, but they aren't prepared for something as subtle as this. So, when I want to gain information, I silently cast the spell on the person who has it and, using some keywords as I'm speaking, I catch any thoughts that are subconsciously triggered. None is the wiser, since no one realises I'm reading his mind at the moment, much like the way I learned about the... fiasco. She chuckled again when Harry's eyes widened, unable to help himself. And no, I'm the only one who knows how I cast those spells and, trust me when I say this, I intend to take the secret to my grave. I can let the rest think whatever they like about how I find out things, but I cannot risk disclosing these incantations to anyone else without the risk of this information reaching the ears of the wrong person, who will use it for the wrong reasons. That, I'm sorry to say, means I can't tell you either, Harry.
Harry, finally feeling a bit more calmed, murmured his understanding.
Good. Agatha's face sobered. And now I think it's time we get to what I've been meaning to talk to you about since I saw you earlier. Did Dumbledore show you everything there was to be seen through the Pensieve?
Harry gaped when the words echoed in his mind.
Harry, I helped him in that, Agatha continued on, her face solemn. Didn't I tell you my job is to find things out? It has been for the last eight years, in fact. Whenever Dumbledore wanted certain people, who were associated with You-Know-Who in one way or other, to be tracked down, he would contact me through Mad Eye Moody and I would do the work for him.
She stopped talking for a moment, and suddenly images of Mad Eye approaching her flashed through Harry's mind. Agatha clearly remembered the particular moment and let it flow in her mind's eye on purpose to show it to Harry. Before he could hear what Mad Eye wanted to tell Agatha though, she had regained control and stopped that line of thought.
As he might have told you himself, Agatha went on, though he could trust whoever he left in charge, it was still difficult for him to leave school matters or the school itself behind; especially to look for somebody without knowing exactly where that somebody was. So pinpointing the location for him was vital. There were also those who, knowing what the professor was after, would not speak to him. It was then that I would come into the picture and, whether by gaining those persons' trust or through my spell, I was able to hand Dumbledore the information. I admit that my means of extracting it could be devious at times, but I understood that Dumbledore must have needed it at all costs to ask it of me. Your thoughts concerning Slughorn shows me that you understand that too.
She paused for a moment; then leaned closer to Harry.
Were you able to gain the last memory concerning the Horcruxes? Dumbledore said that if anyone could do it, it would be you.
You know of that too? Harry asked, only half surprised.
Agatha nodded. People were not the only thing I was asked to track down this last year. I found Slytherin's ring after a strenuous search, as well as the locket through the House-Elf's memory; Dumbledore tried to find the other ones. Missing, I hear you thinking? Yes, that was why Dumbledore kept missing during the school year. We've been working together to find the Horcruxes and the people that could possibly have been connected to them; their memories were precious. I will be honest. I didn't realise his reasons for such teamwork at first, since we were supposed to be discreet on our contacts. Now I'm glad he finally disregarded such caution. Almost all the pieces of the puzzle have been gathered and put into place.
Too late, Harry thought sadly. Not before Dumbledore died. And the locket was not a Horcrux, either.
Agatha sighed and touched Harry's shoulder briefly.
Dumbledore had suspected as much, yet he still asked me to get it for him. I suppose it meant that in this way he narrowed down the odds of certain objects being Horcruxes. As for Dumbledore's... demise - it couldn't be helped. He and everyone in his confidence were the only ones who actually did something when they learned You-Know-Who was back. And though we knew it was only a matter of time till the Death-Eaters found some weakness, the ministry's state of denial slowed us enough. Thus the Death-Eaters were given the chance to prepare their attack and strike first.
But they even had help from inside! cried Harry desperately. And I tried to warn the Professor, but he didn't listen!
You mean about Professor Snape?
Agatha didn't flinch or grimace at the mental shout. Her face betrayed nothing but sympathy. You're still upset by this turn of events.
Aren't you? Upset, I mean, Harry asked, the edge in his thought evident.
I am. That is one of the reasons I came here to talk to you.
Silence surrounded them. Agatha's eyes were stubbornly locked on her wand, still clasped in her hands, while Harry looked at her with full attention. He couldn't help but feel more curious than ever now, and he wished he hadn't burst out like that; it was clear that it had made Agatha hesitant. So, seeing no other option, and still wishing to show Agatha that he was willing to trust her, he placed his hand on hers, thus stopping her from walking and making her face him.
Miss Dupin, what is it? He asked more softly in an encouraging manner.
A huff showed him that Agatha had finally reached her decision and he watched her straightening her shoulders again.
Heck, I will just go ahead with it, she declared. Aurors are not - or, rather, should not - simply be selected for their power in casting spells or apprehending the wrongdoers, but for their eagerness and curiosity to always discover the truth. And now I am here to discover the truth behind the Professor's death. It is important to me if I'm to complete correctly the last mission he handed me. I came to you with the intention to ask you to tell me everything you saw, but I've decided to postpone it for some other time. She gave Harry a sympathetic smile. I won't force you back to memories that are much too near and painful.
Harry's eyes flashed with determination. Even though the events were indeed too recent and hurtful, he still wanted to offer his assistance to Agatha.
If it will help you, then I'll tell you everything you want right now.
Agatha looked at him, concerned. Are you sure?
Mind you, I will have to know the whole story, Harry: not only that night's events, but also everything that came into your attention since Dumbledore first came into contact with you.
I understand and I can do that, Harry assured her. If I do it, maybe you might be able to help me understand certain things too.
Agatha eyed him closely for a moment; then finally reached her decision. Very well. But if you're uncomfortable at any point, stop.
And so, reaching at that moment to an agreeable place that seemed to offer privacy, they ended up resting against a couple of rocks, facing one another. There Harry told her everything; from the moment he received professor Dumbledore's letter while still at Privet Drive, to the times they had looked at the Pensieve. He didn't stop for a moment, until he finally told of the time Dumbledore, after drinking the Horcrux within the cave, was at the mercy of Snape.
And Professor Dumbledore asked Snape for help, but Snape just... Harry said in the end, his anger preventing him from finishing the sentence. Then he ran, just like the coward he is.
Agatha didn't speak for many long moments. She sat cross-legged, her eyes closed and her chin resting lightly on her hands, resembling a strange Buddha-like statue. Harry watched her, not certain if she had heard anything after all. Suddenly he heard her voice in his mind again, but she didn't seem to address him, but herself.
Harry looked at her, perplexed. Yes, miss Dupin?
Agatha returned the gaze, as though finally acknowledging Harry's presence.
I wonder if things are really as simple as they seem. You were there, yet I can't help but feel you've missed something. Your narrative, if anything, created more questions that need answering concerning this past year and, more importantly, the night Dumbledore died.
Harry looked at her incredulously. What do you mean?! Things seem as clear now as they did then! What kind of questions?
Agatha stood up and started pacing back and forth, her face betraying how lost in thought she indeed was.
I don't know where to begin! Did Dumbledore ever struck to you as a wizard who would plead for his life? We're talking about one of the few - no, the only one who could utter You-Know-Who's name without as much as flinching. More importantly, and forgive me in advance for sounding much too callous on this, Dumbledore, by what you told me, was already dying. Why would he plead in order to live as long as probably five more minutes? It doesn't make any sense.
Harry frowned. Well, Dumbledore was too weak, he probably wasn't thinking clearly. He bit his lip, realising that he couldn't believe such a theory himself.
Agatha shook her head.
No indeed, Harry. Dumbledore thought quite clearly when he petrified you at the last moment, thus making sure you would not interfere and put yourself at risk. He also thought clearly enough to engage Draco in a conversation in an attempt to dissuade him from working under You-Know-Who's orders. You know what that could mean, of course. It means that for some reason the Professor thought Draco hadn't been ensnared completely by You-Know-Who yet. And let us not forget that the Professor even had the clarity of thought to start a verbal attack against the Death-Eaters that followed Draco. So far, it seems clear what Dumbledore was doing; he wanted to gain time till someone came to his aid. Agatha stopped on her tracks and looked hard at Harry. Yet what did he do when Snape arrived?
Harry recalled the moment in his mind's eye again. Nothing. Then again, he didn't have much time to do much else.
So Dumbledore wasted himself in pleading? asked Agatha. He didn't fear You-Know-Who, he feared Snape? Agatha now had sat down again, clearly trying to find the elusive answer she was looking for. What made the difference?
He didn't expect the betrayal, Harry said.
No, that doesn't make much sense either, Agatha answered. Dumbledore was a shrewd man. The moment Snape was behind the Death-Eaters and he didn't take advantage of the element of surprise to fight at once, Dumbledore must have known Snape had no intentions of helping him. Harry watched how her eyes glinted as she attempted to apply reason to something that seemed unsolvable. But, if he knew that, as well as that pleading would be useless, why didn't he at least fight back? Dumbledore was too brave to be stopped by his weakness. Unless...
Agatha stopped her train of thought. Harry didn't say a word, waiting for an explanation. However, even though Harry could tell Agatha was clearly considering something, she had shut her thoughts from him.
Unless, what? he asked, frustrated and unable to help myself.
Agatha locked her gaze on him.
You said that everyone within the Order claimed Snape and Dumbledore worked closely together; that Snape was giving information to Dumbledore as a spy.
Yes. Harry answered. They all thought wrongly, obviously.
Agatha raised an eyebrow every so slightly before putting on her mask of calmness once more.
Harry, try putting aside your assumptions for a moment and let's try to look at things from a different perspective. Considering what we've come to know and deduce, is it not possible that Snape and Dumbledore... planned this?
What?! cried Harry in disbelief. That's impossible! You didn't see the loathing on Snape's face when he killed Professor Dumbledore!
No, I didn't, Agatha admitted. But I do believe a Muggle said it best in one of his detective novels: 'Once we eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.' My, let us call it theory, doesn't make any less sense than thinking that Dumbledore could be wrong about Snape and allow himself to be bested in such a way. In fact, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.
Agatha smiled kindly. Though you are very mature in some ways, Harry, you are still a child. You cannot comprehend an adult's way of thinking.
She chuckled when Harry was ready to tell her off.
It's nothing to be ashamed of, Harry. It's, in fact, only natural. How many times have you done something because you thought it was the right thing to do, only to be lectured soon afterwards for choosing poorly? And it works both ways. Adults can't understand the reasons behind their children's actions most of the time either. It only adds to the complexity of the human spirit. She paused for a moment. If I had a say in this though, I would rather more people thought the same way you do. The world would certainly be a better place if they did.
In spite of the kindness with which the last words were spoken, Harry still felt confused and annoyed at what it seemed to him as patronising. His curiosity about what Agatha had to say though prevailed and he kept himself from bursting out again.
We will start from the basics: I don't think I need to ask you what is it You-Know-Who desires the most?
Harry smirked. Have me dead, preferably by his own hands.
Agatha nodded. And, these last few years, what was the greatest of obstacles to his plans?
Indeed. Now put yourself in You-Know-Who's train of thought. He wants to destroy the one thing that he fears: you. You, however, are always under Dumbledore's protection. Now, tell me, if you were he, what would you do to make your greatest enemy more vulnerable?
Harry sighed. It didn't take a great mind to figure the answer to that question.
Remove all obstacles: kill everyone that stood between him and me. My parents and Sirius are already dead. And now Dumbledore is dead, too.
Agatha smiled encouragingly, her satisfaction matching the one a professor feels when his student answered correctly a question.
Now, if you were able to figure that, do you honestly think that Dumbledore himself wasn't aware of such a thing?
She knitted her fingers, her forefingers tapping lightly her chin while she was still lost in thought.
We can deduce with confidence that Dumbledore knew it was a matter of time before You-Know-Who went after him. As you became more powerful under his guidance, Dumbledore also understood that that time was getting closer. Soon You-Know-Who would send the Death-eaters against him; and Dumbledore, for all his power, would not be able to avoid them or fight them back forever. Didn't you ever wonder why Dumbledore personally came to pick you up last summer?
He wanted to make sure the Death-Eaters wouldn't attack me, Harry answered at once.
Agatha cocked her head. That is surely a good reason, yes; but was it the only one? Tell me, how do you explain your lessons through the Pensieve? Why was he desperate to share with you everything he had come to know about Tom Riddle and the Horcruxes? She now looked at Harry hard. Why was he so determined to keep you focused?
Harry froze, pondering that string of questions. And as he tried to apply reason to Dumbledore's actions, his eyes widened as he could only come up with one answer.
Agatha nodded solemnly again.
Dumbledore, knowing that he was running out of time, had to prepare the ground for someone who could fill in his place - and I don't mean the headmaster's. Once he handed you all the weapons and information needed to destroy You-Know-Who, his work was done.
Why now? Why didn't he tell me something before? asked Harry.
I suppose he thought you were too young for such a responsibility before - and somebody made him realise that he couldn't afford to tell you later, even though perhaps he wished it so; somebody who goes by the name of Draco Malfoy.
Finally Agatha stopped on her tracks and faced Harry again.
Speaking of which, how did Dumbledore know that You-Know-Who would use Draco?
That's not that difficult to guess, Harry replied. Because of the deep connection between his father and Voldemort, the natural choice would have to be him. He was also a student at Hogwarts; he had access where not even his father had.
Agatha, surprisingly, raised her hand.
You said 'guess'. Dumbledore, however, knew it was Draco. In fact, he knew much more: he knew why Draco was put to such a terrible task. How is this possible? Though wise he might be, Dumbledore didn't have Professor Trelawney's... dubious talent.
Harry remained silent for some time; then ventured to speak his mind.
I had my suspicions and I even tried to warn the Professor, yet... He looked at Agatha. What you're suggesting is that someone else must have informed the Professor. But the only one who could have known was...
He stopped, his heart missing a beat as realisation hit him.
Snape, Agatha completed. Now why would Snape reveal such a thing, if he were really working under You-Know-Who?
Harry shook his head. Agatha couldn't possibly be thinking that Snape was still against Voldermort after what had come to pass!
He wanted to keep Professor Dumbledore in the dark! He wanted to be sure that the professor still trusted him!
If I remember correctly, if there was someone who had complete faith in Snape, it was Dumbledore. Why would Snape then feel the need to prove himself to him? argued Agatha. And there's more. If Snape still worked for You-Know-Who, he would never tell Dumbledore who was behind the plot to assassinate him. In fact, he wouldn't have to. He could excuse himself by saying that, alas and alack, in spite of his efforts for the Death-Eaters to trust him, he didn't manage to learn anything. But you realise now that, by telling the plan, Snape gave Dumbledore the final motivation to finish quickly his tutoring of you. Wouldn't you say he in fact worked against You-Know-Who?
Why did Snape take the Unbreakable Vow then, making sure Draco succeeded? asked Harry again. Why did he allow himself such a thing if he weren't working with Lord Voldermort?
Interesting choice of words, Harry; did Draco 'succeed'? Agatha asked, raising an eyebrow.
Professor Dumbledore is dead.
But not by Draco's hand. If You-Know-Who's purpose was to initiate Draco by killing, he failed. Draco didn't kill Dumbledore; from what you've told me, he probably wouldn't even have been able to.
Which brings us back where we started. Snape betrayed the professor and killed him!
Killed him, yes; but, after what we have deduced, do you really think you can say we're talking about betrayal? Let's consider the possibility that Snape had a role to play, not against Dumbledore, but in his favour. We already figured that Dumbledore could have found out about Draco by Snape. While Dumbledore took you under his wings, what did Snape do?
He was close to Draco. Harry carried on hesitantly. Do you still think that Snape didn't join the Death-Eaters?
That would depend on what you mean by 'join', said Agatha, giving Harry an enigmatic smile. Since we're still keeping under consideration that Dumbledore and Snape kept working closely, is it too far-fetched to say that Snape could have been close to Draco under Dumbledore's command? Trying to keep him out of trouble in the same way Dumbledore tried to keep you, and at the same time preventing any attempts on Dumbledore's life for as long as it was needed?
Needed?! You're saying that as though Dumbledore was meant to die when he did!
Agatha cocked her head again, ignoring Harry confusion for the moment.
The necklace and the poison you're thinking of were quite the misfortunes. I suppose Draco kept his secrets only too well; but at least no one died before their time. As to your question, Harry, I can only give an answer I'm sure you don't want to hear: yes, in a way, Dumbledore was meant to die when he did.
Harry gaped. "I don't want to listen to anything else you might want to say!" he uttered, and started walking away.
Why? Agatha crossed her arms and raised her eyebrow. Does it suit you so much to think that Dumbledore simply had a bad character's judgement and allowed himself to be caught helpless?
Harry froze, his hands balled on his sides. He caught himself trembling. How dare she...?
I dare because I cared for the professor, and I want to know the truth. It's an Auror's priority and you should remember it, if you ever want to become one. When I was your age, I too thought everything was simple, that there was good and evil, black and white; then I grew up to discover everything was grey and only within there lies the truth. Have you ever thought that, though You-Know-Who seems so evil into your eyes and knows no good in his heart, You-Know-Who himself actually believes that he's doing good? To him the world is so rotten that it needs drastic changes. Since he feels he's the only one to understand this, he is doing something about it. If it were simply the ravings of a deranged, sick mind, then there wouldn't be some willing enough to believe in him; some who also share the notion that the world is lacking and needs extreme change. Unfortunately, no matter how pessimistic this sounds, the wizard world was ready to accommodate a You-Know-Who within its bosom. It found it in the face of Tom Riddle.
Are you trying to excuse Voldermort? Harry asked, shocked.
Agatha shrugged. Consider You-Know-Who as that muggle who lived in Germany more than sixty years ago. He wouldn't be elected as Fuhrer if most of the people back then didn't think he was right in many aspects. After all, ideas are meant to be expressed and never killed anyone. When acts that disregard human life are done in the name of those ideas, however... then they become dangerous. That is what an Auror is to fight, and that is why I am on Dumbledore's side. Is that enough answer for you?
Harry nodded, yet he couldn't help feeling that his head was starting to ache. Everything having two sides, not everything is black and white. Things started to seem much more confused than he had ever considered them.
Agatha smiled sadly and cupped Harry's face in her hand.
That is why I said your way of thinking is different than an adult's, and why more people should start thinking like you. Just know and be comforted that, for all the injustice in this world, there are those who are willing even to die for a greater good and make this place a better one. She gently prodded Harry to look up at her. It is not an easy thing leaving behind loved ones when such sacrifices are needed, but love itself never dies. You've experienced it already, Harry; you have the scar to prove it. She brushed some of Harry's hair away and her fingers traced the marred skin delicately. Dumbledore sacrificed himself once all the pieces of this larger than life game of chess got into the correct place and nothing could shake them. I think your friend, Ronald Weasley, would understand this best.
An involuntary sob escaped Harry's lips but he breathed in deeply and refused himself to be drowned by the sadness he felt. There would be time to mourn and to shed tears, and that wasn't it.
It shouldn't be like this, he thought. The school needed Professor Dumbledore; I needed him.
I know, Agatha said. But know that Dumbledore wouldn't sacrifice himself unless it was absolutely necessary. Now you have a responsibility, Harry, to him and to others, not to let their deaths be in vain. That is something that Snape must have been forced to understand as well.
What do you mean? Harry looked at Agatha closely now, wishing her to help him understand.
Well, one of the best strategies in such wars is to make the enemy believe that he can get what he wants. Since Dumbledore knew that You-Know-Who was after him, what better strategy then to allow it? With Dumbledore dead, You-Know-Who is given a false sense of security, since he will think no one knows his secret about the Horcruxes. Hopefully, he will become careless before long and then, Harry, you will take that opportunity to destroy him once and for all.
But how does Snape fit into that theory?
Is it not obvious? Snape obviously held true to his Unbreakable Vow by killing Dumbledore and, by doing that, he was able to convince the Death-Eaters who still doubted him and tried to make You-Know-Who turn against him. He was thus made the perfect spy infiltrated within You-Know-Who's ranks. Don't give me that sceptical look, Harry. I never said that Snape will attempt to return to the Order after what he did; he knows what fate will await him. Even if the Order was ready to accept him back, I doubt he would accept it. He only worked closely with Dumbledore, most likely because he shared with him more than any of us are aware of. Let us not forget what made Snape repent in the first place.
He said that he wasn't aware that my parents would die; that he was sorry for their deaths, said Harry. A lame excuse.
Yet which Death-Eater would claim that, unless it was true? Agatha murmured softly. She shook her head. That is not important for the present. It's sufficient to know that, whatever confidence Snape and Dumbledore shared, it has been broken with the latter's death and it will not be in Snape's character to trust anybody else enough to work closely with him as well.
Then what can he possibly do for our side among the Death-Eaters? He can't serve as a spy anymore, can he?
Agatha eyed Harry enigmatically before answering.
A spy works in more ways than just handing out information to his side. A cunning spy, above all else, is a charmer and a shadow. He knows how to weave whispers amid his words in such a subtle way that many who hear them believe afterwards that they arise from their own thought; he knows how to scheme ahead in order to know the actions of the enemy and then debunk them slyly enough so as not to be suspected of such a thing. In other words, if Snape is still on our side and plays the game well - which I have every reason to believe he will - perhaps the Death-Eaters will start crumbling from the inside. He might even weaken them enough for the Order to give the final blow when it gets to face them.
You mean he'll bring discord among them?
Like I said, he might. That is what I would have done, if I were Snape, stranded alone among the very people I had betrayed with no one to turn to for help except my own wits. Her eyes glinted as she turned to Harry again. I would also most likely be angry and resentful to the very person that placed me in such a situation with his death; which brings us to another possible reason as to why Snape looked at Dumbledore with such hate when he killed him.
Harry shook his head with resolution. There was another choice: not to kill professor Dumbledore! The Order would have protected him!
Just how, Harry? Was any member in sight when the events took place? If your recollection holds true he was outnumbered five against one. And, remember, I've been trying to reason with you what has come to seem logical to me: how can you know Snape wasn't obeying Dumbledore's own orders? After all we've thought, there is good evidence to tell us that there was another probable meaning in Dumbledore's last words. Such as 'Severus... please, do it.'
Harry opened his mouth dumbfounded.
You're joking, right? You mean to tell me Dumbledore was actually asking Snape to kill him?! Then why would Snape run off with the other Death-Eaters, instead of staying behind to explain himself?
Agatha shrugged in the way Harry was getting used to.
One reason could be that it was part of the plan Dumbledore had in mind. The second one would be that someone went after Snape before he had the time to do such a thing as explain, even if he wanted to. Agatha looked at Harry meaningfully.
Harry couldn't feel more exasperated. Am I to blame then? he asked bitterly. Snape was nothing but a misunderstood soul? What of his hate of me? Why should he wish to help the side on which I am as well?
Agatha raised an eyebrow again and looked at Harry in a shocked manner. Harry, that doesn't seem like you, to make a night's event all about you! I'm by no means saying that Snape is good through and through! Yet, for all Snape's hatred for you, being the son of your father, can't you consider for a moment that he perhaps has reasons to resent You-Know-Who even more? That could even explain why Dumbledore trusted him completely, even enough to ask Snape to sever the alliance with the Order so violently. She sighed. But, in all truth, Harry, we might never come to know all facts, or even half of them.
Harry sighed as well, sharing Agatha's frustration.
What I don't understand is what would you have me do? Forgive Snape and pretend nothing has happened?
Agatha shook her head.
No. I want you to keep our talk in mind when you go after Snape. You shouldn't make it your quest to seek revenge, but to seek truth and justice.
Harry saw a glint in Agatha's eyes he hadn't seen before.
Otherwise, you will have to deal with me first.
What?! Harry stared at Agatha.
Agatha turned once more to Harry, her expression unreadable.
Dumbledore handed me one last mission before he died: to keep an eye on Snape and make sure no harm comes to him until the final battle. I've demonstrated you my methods, so you can see it will not be a difficult task for me. What was threatening to make it difficult right now was how objective I could be if I knew I had to protect the murderer of my employer. Now that I know that there are very good questions that can only be answered if Snape remains alive, I can do my task without much doubt in my heart. Thank you for helping me in that, Harry.
Does Snape know of this?
Agatha shook her head again.
Then why are you telling me? asked Harry, puzzled.
I wanted to be sure that I would do my job without worrying about you going after Snape with any intentions of killing him - it will be challenging to protect him against the Death-Eaters. And, secondly, if you do try to tell the things I've confided in you, even to Ron or any other of your friends, it will be of no use.
Just then, however, Agatha had flicked her wand again. Stunned, Harry realised that his head felt lighter, as though the cloak of a presence was lifted off it. "You undid the spell," he said.
"I did. As for the answer to your last question: not even you will know where to look for me."
What happened next, happened so quickly that Harry could barely register anything. Suddenly, Agatha ran off, dropping something sparkling from her cloak. Harry instinctively picked it up, to see that it was a bottle with the label Polyjuice Potion written on it. He gasped, horrified at the trickery.
"Stop!" he cried out, already chasing the false person.
It was too late. In the blink of an eye, Agatha had disapparated. Harry looked on at a loss, wondering how she could disapparate within the area of Hogwarts; then, looking at his right, he saw the rooftops of the village of Hogsmeade. Harry smirked, understanding the purpose of the walk, and he mentally acknowledged that the Sorting Hat had placed that person in the correct house - whoever he or she was.
Harry sighed, trying to think what he should do next. He should go back to Hogwarts to meet Ron and Hermione; they would certainly be worried about him. Should he tell them about Agatha though? He couldn't hope that Ron would be able to give him any information by sending an owl to Charlie. If Agatha's face wasn't real, why should the name be? And he definitely didn't want to hear Hermione's lecture on how he shouldn't talk to perfect strangers and give them precious information without having evidence that he could trust them.
Yet, Agatha didn't give him evidence that he shouldn't trust her, in spite of her guise. And if she were really watching over Snape by Dumbledore's orders, he wouldn't wish to disrupt her mission by being the one to start rumours of someone circulating among the wizards, watching them and knowing their thoughts. He still remembered Agatha's words: there was the risk of such a secret finally reaching to the ears of the wrong person.
He made up his mind. He wouldn't talk about this meeting to anyone. He walked back to Hogwarts, the conversation ringing in his mind, pondering again on what Agatha told him and deciding to follow her advice on seeking the truth, not revenge.
His face betrayed nothing when he found Ron and Hermione in the common room.