“You don’t think it was me, Professor?” Harry repeated hopefully as Dumbledore brushed rooster feathers off his desk.
“No, Harry, I don’t,” said Dumbledore, though his face was somber again. “But I still want to talk to you.”
Harry waited nervously while Dumbledore considered him, the tips of his long fingers together.
“I must ask you, Harry, whether there is anything you’d like to tell me,” he said gently. “Anything at all.”
Harry didn’t know what to say. He thought of Malfoy shouting, “You’ll be next, Mudbloods!” and of the Polyjuice Potion simmering away in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Then he thought of the disembodied voice he had heard twice and remembered what Ron had said: “Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world.” He thought, too, about what everyone was saying about him, and his growing dread that he was somehow connected with Salazar Slytherin. …
“No,” said Harry. “There isn’t anything, Professor. …”
Page(s): 296, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling. This material is protected by copyright.
“I must ask you, Harry, whether there is anything you’d like to tell me,” Dumbledore said gently. “Anything at all.”
Harry looked up, meeting the Headmaster’s blue eyes, which were conspicuously absent of their customary twinkle. He remembered when he had seen Dumbledore at the beginning of the year, when he and Ron had crashed a flying car into the Whomping Willow. He remembered the disappointment in Dumbledore’s eyes, then, and had a sudden, fierce urge to never see that look again. He remembered seeing Dumbledore after Mrs. Norris had been petrified, and how the Headmaster had known that he was telling the truth.
For a moment, Harry thought to lie, to tell the Headmaster that there wasn’t anything to tell him.
But he didn’t.
“Yes, Professor, there is something.” He started, not quite sure what he was going to say next. But before he knew it, the words were pouring from his lips, and Harry told Dumbledore all about what had happened so far that year. He told him about Dobby visiting during the summer, and about the letter from the Ministry of Magic, and about Ron, Fred and George rescuing him from starvation. He told Dumbledore about the voice he had heard, then night that Mrs. Norris had been attacked, and about Dobby’s visit to the infirmary. And he told the Headmaster about their suspicions regarding Malfoy, and their plan with the polyjuice potion, though he did leave out the fact that they were currently brewing it. Finally, he told Dumbledore about his fears regarding Slytherin.
“…And after last year, Professor, I don’t know, I just want a quiet school year. But now everyone thinks that I’m the Heir of Slytherin, because I’m a parselmouth. And I don’t know what to do.” He finished, looking away from Dumbledore and to the small form of Fawkes, who was staring at him with eyes to big for his body. Looking at the phoenix, however ugly he might currently be after his burning, was reassuring somehow.
Looking back at Dumbledore, he saw the characteristic twinkle back in his eyes. “Tea, Harry?” he asked, drawing his wand.
Certain that he was in terrible trouble, Harry managed a small nod.
Conjuring a tea tray, Dumbledore poured two cups, a questioning look at Harry.
“Er, two sugars and some milk, please.” Harry managed, accepting the cup that was levitated over to him.
Dumbledore put an obscene amount of sugar in his tea, with a dash of lemon and no milk, and took a sip.
“I’m glad that you feel that you can confide in me, Harry.” Dumbledore started, sipping at his tea. “Though I must say, it was something of a surprise.”
It had surprised Harry, as well. Normally, he was very distrusting of adults. The incident with Professor McGonagall not believing them about the Philosopher’s Stone the previous year had only reinforced that habit. But there was something about Dumbledore. He was different than the other adults, somehow. But Harry wasn’t about to go saying that aloud, so he merely shrugged.
“It just seemed to be the right thing to do,” was all he said.
Dumbledore nodded sagely. “I see. Yes, that happens sometimes,” he said. “Perhaps I can lay one of your fears to rest, to start with. While it would be no great tragedy if you were descended from Slytherin, I can assure you that it is not the case. As for your sorting and the fact that you are a parselmouth, It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Here, he paused to take a sip of his tea. Harry did the same, thinking over the Headmaster’s words. While he wasn’t entirely sure he understood what had been said, he believed it, and that was enough to make him feel rather better.
“I can also tell you, Harry, that Mr. Malfoy is not the Heir of Slytherin,” here, Dumbledore paused, peering down at Harry over his half-moon glasses, as if assessing his very soul. “I would have preferred not to tell you this, but I see now that you are determined to hear the truth. You see, Mr. Malfoy cannot be the Heir, because the Heir of Slytherin is Lord Voldemort.”
Harry gaped at Dumbledore. That explained it! When Collin had been brought to the Infirmary, Dumbledore had said that it was not a matter of who, but how. Of course. Dumbledore knew that it was the Dark Lord, he just didn’t know how he was doing it.
“But Lucius Malfoy was a supporter of Voldemort. You don’t think he could somehow have had Draco smuggle him in, or told Draco how to open the Chamber?” Harry asked, his mind still set on Malfoy’s lack of innocence. And something else occurred to him. “And Dobby! He could belong to the Malfoy’s, and that’s why he knew to warn me!”
A frown appeared on Dumbledore’s face. “Yes, the matter of Dobby is rather strange. It is quite unusual to hear of a House Elf who acts in such a way. They are usually very loyal creatures, and never go against their masters wishes, even indirectly. Thank you for telling me this, Harry.”
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair, obviously collecting his thoughts. “I am quite certain that you are not insane, Harry, when it comes to the mysterious voice you have been hearing. However, it is strange… the fact that you have heard it around the time that attacks occurred. Added to the fact that you speak parseltongue… well, you’ve given me much to think on.”
The Headmaster leaned forward, giving Harry a rather piercing look. “Finally, I believe, there is the matter of your relatives. You have told me that the you Weasley boys felt the need to rescue you. Why is that?”
Here, Harry flushed rather pink. Oh, he wished he would have kept that part from his story!
“It’s nothing, Professor,” he mumbled.
“Please, Harry, I wish you would tell me. I had heard that you had gone to the Weasley’s this summer, but of course I did not know the circumstances surrounding your arrival. If there is some reason that you needed rescuing from you guardians, perhaps they are not suitable.”
With that, Harry looked up at the Headmaster, hope shining in his eyes. If there was such a thing as unsuitable guardians, it was the Dursley’s. He had tried telling adults before, and they had just brushed off his concerns. But hadn’t he just been thinking that Dumbledore was different from other adults?
“Well, the locked me in my room, after they heard that I couldn’t do magic over the summer,” he started reluctantly. He told Dumbledore about the bars on the windows, and the six, thick, locks on his door, and the catflap, and the fact that his wand and broom and trunk had been taken from him.
Dumbledore looked more than concerned. He looked outraged. But his voice did not betray his obvious feelings.
“I see. Well, Harry, I would like to speak to a contact at the Ministry, and have them investigate the Dursley’s treatment of you, if I have your permission.”
Harry felt uncomfortable. He was famous enough as it was, he didn’t want to bring more attention to him.
“Is that the only way?” he asked finally.
“I’m afraid it is.”
“Then… you have my permission.”
Dumbledore smiled a bit. “I would like to thank you, Harry, for trusting me with this. I assure you that I will be extremely discreet. My door is always open to you, of course. And I shall send you a note should anything come up in the investigation.”
Sensing the dismissal in the Headmaster’s words, Harry stood, setting the nearly empty tea cup on his desk. “I should be getting back to the Common Room, Professor.”
Dumbledore nodded. “Of course, my boy. Off you go.”
Harry offered Dumbledore a small, but genuine smile, whispered a thank you, and turned, leaving his office.
Albus Dumbledore watched as Harry closed the door behind him, and the smiled disappeared from his face. Resting his elbows on his desk, he sunk forwards, his face in his hands, looking, for once, his age.
“Oh, Fawkes,” he said mournfully. “How could I have failed another young man?”
Fawkes let out a sort of warbling song, the best the phoenix could manage in his current state.
“You’re right, of course. I thought he would be safest there… but Minerva did warn me. I believe she told me that the Dursley’s were the worst sort of muggles, but I never imagined that they would treat Harry in such a way.”
Visibly collecting himself, he stood. “The boy has given me much to think about. I shall have to ask Severus whether or not the Malfoy’s have a house elf named Dobby; he’s certain to know. And Minerva will have to know about Harry’s home life, as well as Poppy,” he was talking to himself, now, as he headed over to the fireplace.
Grabbing a pinch of floo powder, the Headmaster knelt down in front of the fireplace and tossed it in.
“The Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Amelia Bones office,” he called out, before leaning forward, his head in he green flames.
Yes, Harry Potter had given him much to think about.