Harry Potter and Grief's Wisdom
A/N: Hey everyone. This is a few days later than I had planned, due to a cold turning into bronchitis. Hate it when that happens. But, I figured that getting the chapter out to you faster than has been usual would be a nice treat. Enjoy.
This is a work of fiction using the characters created by J.K. Rowling. They are not used with her permission. All actions follow the events of book five of the series. Any similarity between any person living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional. If you happen to find your life reflected in this piece I'll be impressed and perhaps a little scared.
Of all the things he had expected when he dove for the necklace, waking up in the infirmary was not really one of the considered options. The necklace was supposed to be lethal to whoever touched it with their bare skin. That was why Katie had her potion gloves on while it was being transported. But when he saw it heading to two girls who would have reached out to catch it or touch it, there really was no other option. He shivered and burrowed deeper into the covers, desperate for warmth. It was cold, very cold and the covers didn't help. His breath fogged and Harry felt a cold spike of fear rush through him as he realized what might be happening.
"Ah, you are awake. Good." The hollow voice rippled through Harry, making the boy seize up in fear.
Harry's breath froze in his lungs, burning deeply in him. Air hurt. His throat felt raw from the cold and he didn't want to breathe but had too. Each inhalation was an agony.
"I must admit that was a stupid move, despite the bravery involved, however it worked out well for you."
"It… it did?" Harry said through chattering teeth. He shook harder as his skin felt like it was burning from the intense cold of Death. The covers were utterly useless but he was still desperately seeking warmth.
"It did." The chuckle was emotionless and was more terrifying than anything Voldemort had ever done or said to him. Something about the hollowness was alive yet not and it chilled Harry more than the air. "The necklace had been re-cursed by Tom Riddle, adding to the death magics already imbued into the item. His action in strengthening its killing potential provided me another perfect excuse to take a part of his soul."
"Soul?" Harry's heart pounded in his ears, racing harder than ever remembered. He tried to move as he panted, muscles resisting him. They wanted to cramp up in an attempt to conserve what little warmth remained in him. The urge to pee hit and it made everything worse. He had to go but to come out from the blankets would expose even more of him to the cold and he would freeze to death. Why was it so hard to think?
"Yes. There was a part of his soul in your scar. It broke off when you were a child when he cast his spell against you. Your mother's protections were too strong for him to counter, as they had been charged by her own death. It was a soul piece he was not aware of losing, despite planning on making another soul container from your death." The rictus Death turned his way was horrifying. "What this means, young Harry is that there will be no more dreams and visions from Mister Riddle any longer."
"No dreams?" So he could sleep better finally?
"Yes. Well done. And I was so ready to take those two girls, for they would have touched the necklace without a doubt. Pity, your action has given them a long life. Oh well. Nevertheless, you have done well. And you having reunited the Hallows is specifically why you are not dead thanks to this curse. It is one of the few… gifts that uniting the Hallows brings. Congratulations." The voice felt like spiders crawling up his spine as Death spoke.
"Not dead?" Harry's words slurred, shivers slowing down.
Death chuckled, the sound seeming to echo through its skeletal body. "Indeed you are not, though, fair warning, it was a one-time gift. One more things before I take my leave. Now that the soul piece is missing your get out of death free card is gone so do avoid killing curses and other spells that can kill you. A killing curse wouldn't have worked before now because of Riddle's soul being present letting it die before you. It no longer is so. Take care Mister Potter."
Warmth rushed in and Harry gasped loudly, bolting upright in the bed. His skin and lungs no longer burned. However the overwhelming urge to pee remained, making his eyes go wide. He had to move. As Madame Pomfrey turned to take care of him, Harry hustled to the rest room, her voice following him, "Mister Potter!"
"Can't talk, got to go."
After the relief of voiding his bladder, Harry left the restroom to face several concerned people. Madame Pomfrey was there flanked by Hermione and Luna and behind them was the Headmaster. At a loss, he went with the first thing that came to mind. "Uhm… I'm feeling better now."
Hermione and Luna rolled their eyes and shook their heads, heading towards Harry. They hugged him and Harry swore her could feel them relax as they did so. Their eyes had been a bit red so maybe they had been crying? This worried him some. "Are you indeed feeling better Harry?"
"Yes Headmaster. I feel fine. I did have an odd… dream… just before waking though."
As Hermione and Luna looked up with concern, Dumbledore asked calmly, "Dream?"
Eyes cutting to Madame Pomfrey, Harry replied circumspectly, "It was similar to the… dream… I had in your office."
Dumbledore's eyes widened slightly as what Harry was implying registered, "Really now. We can speak on that later. I am glad that you are up and about now."
"Thank you. Uhm… when can I go?" Harry addressed this to Madame Pomfrey who seemed to be growing irritated with him.
The school nurse in question pursed her lips in annoyance, "No sooner than lunchtime Mister Potter. I want to ensure that you are indeed fully healed. You do this far too often for me to simply trust that you are okay."
After a sniff and maybe a slight huff, Madame Pomfrey cast a few spells before turning and walking off, leaving Harry alone with his girlfriends and the Headmaster. After a few privacy spells were cast, Harry explained, "I saw Death again."
"What?!" the others cried out.
"Yeah. That's what I was feeling," said Harry. "That was not fun. I felt like I was freezing while we talked. It was far more uncomfortable than what I remember about the necklace. But Death did say that it got a piece of Voldemort."
"Yeah, that was my thought. I just feel dirty thinking that I had a bit of Voldemort in me."
Dumbledore sat into a seat heavily, relief flooding his being. He looked up after a moment and asked, "Then you are safe?"
"Apparently. If I die again I don't have a get out of Death free card, which I didn't even know I had." Harry shrugged. "Knowing I had that might have made some of my adventures a little less terrifying. Are the two girls okay?"
Hermione smiled at him. "Yes. They were a bit freaked out when you appeared and landed in front of them screaming but they're okay. I know they want to thank you later. Katie is fine as well, though quite shaken up. Madame Pomfrey gave her a calming draught before letting her go."
Nodding along with the information, Harry narrowed his eyes in thought, "Was Voldemort told about what happened to me?"
"Not that we know of," commented Dumbledore.
"Thank Merlin. If he knew what had happened then the fact that we knew about Draco would be easy to figure out. So hopefully, we can move forward with our plan?"
"Yes." Luna smiled. "If Draco is still in the clear then maybe we can plan the ambush for the end of term?"
"I am still unsure of this," stated Dumbledore.
"It's the only way we can think of to even the odds. The Death Eaters have greater numbers than us and some of them are great fighters. We need to thin those numbers to make it easier to win. Weakening Voldemort's organization is the only option I can think of to turn things in our favor. And we still have to find the horcruxes if we want him gone for good," countered Harry. He rubbed his forehead in annoyance. "I mean, so far we only know of two that have been taken care of, the diary and the ring. We need to find the others."
"That is true Harry. But from what you've said about your meeting with Death, a third has been destroyed as well."
The three teens looked at Dumbledore with confusion. Sighing, he continued to explain, "If Death meant what he said, then the connection between you and Voldemort is gone. I believe that connection was an inadvertent Horcrux he created with you and that as Death said, with it your link is gone."
Luna looked pondersome as she mulled over the issue while Harry looked like he had gotten great and encouraging news. She spoke, sounding distracted as she was thinking and speaking at the same time. "So the odds are that Voldemort is either mortal now or there are at least four more items."
Harry looked a bit confused. "How?"
Hermione looked at Luna as if sharing the thought before replying, "Arithmancy. Three and seven are very powerful numbers. If he meant to split his soul three times, meaning the diary and the ring that would mean that with the soul in his body there you are. But if his soul split that Halloween, before attaching to you then I think that the odds are more likely that he was planning to make you his sixth horcrux with himself as the seventh piece. But if he is unaware that he was successful with you then perhaps he has erred and made another since he has returned, thus having his soul split into eight? If that's the case then he may have screwed up since numerically, it is a lot less powerful."
"Excellent reasoning Miss Granger. I do believe that is the case as well. However, only Horace can confirm if that is indeed true."
"He was the Potions teacher and head of Slytherin when Tom was here at school. I believe he spoke with Tom on the subject and thus Horace might just know what number he was after."
Realizing the reason why Dumbledore had brought him along for the job offer, Harry groaned, "That's why you used me to entice him back. You want me to confirm the number."
Looking ever so slightly abashed, Dumbledore replied, "Yes."
"Well, how about while we work on getting that confirmation we move forward under the hypothesis of seven items, given the magical nature of the number. That means there are perhaps four additional items we need to discover and destroy. I mean if it isn't seven then it would be eleven or thirteen, arithmanticly speaking, so we don't lose any time in proceeding," added Hermione.
"A fair point," conceded Dumbledore, looking at Hermione with respect. "I have a few ideas as to the identity of these items by looking into Tom's history. He seemed to prefer items related to the Founders. After all, the ring was the Gaunt family ring and was probably passed down from the Slytherin family."
"And the diary?"
Luna shrugged, "It was probably his and he used it to try out the ritual."
"That makes sense. Then we have a plan. If we can determine the pattern of items then we can take care of them. Then all we have to do is defeat Voldemort in battle. Fun," grumped Harry as he realized that this plan didn't exactly make things easier for him.
"That's what we are training for." Luna rested a hand on Harry's shoulder, giving him a comforting smile. "Besides the Defense group there is the Order of the Phoenix, Aurors, and the Muggles on our side. This is a fairly good sized force to go against him and part of it is something he is truly not expecting. Plus if we can thin down some numbers in our ambush then we can make that final battle easier."
"Miss Lovegood is correct Harry. If we can get a better idea of what Tom's plans are from Severus then we can move forward with good information. We are far more ahead of the game then he suspects, of that I am sure." There was a twinkle in his eye when Dumbledore gave his best Grandfatherly smile.
Sighing, Harry nodded. Snape was still a sore point and would probably always be. Despite having been told quite blatantly what side the man was on, he had little trust in the man. Too much pain had past, too many injuries for Harry to really put his trust there. Knowing what the man said, what the man said his relationship was with his parents, and how often he attacked or belittled put Harry in a very uncomfortable place. Why couldn't things be easy? That then reminded of yet another problem that had to be dealt with. "Wait, what about the fact that Draco has been tasked to kill you?"
Dumbledore tapped his lips in thought before saying, "Perhaps we can use the ambush to take care of a number of issues. I am going to die because of the Withering Curse, but perhaps we can use that to help cement Severus and Draco's positions in the Death Eaters."
The three teens frowned. True, the end result would be that but overall the idea just didn't sit right with any of them. Hermione asked nervously, "Are you sure that's a good idea? I mean, ambushing them as they come out of the Vanishing Cabinet makes for an easier fight for all concerned, with a far lesser chance of them hurting any of us. This notion you're proposing… you expect some of them to watch Professor Snape and Draco kill you?"
Dumbledore was about to reply when he looked thoughtful. It was clear that the ideas were conflicting in his head. "Perhaps it would be best to discuss this with all the concerned parties. I feel that it is a good plan but it is clear you three disagree. We shall discuss it later, in my office, so there is less of a chance that we will be overheard. I have work to do and you have resting you should be doing Harry."
Watching Dumbledore walk away, absently taking down the privacy wards, Harry was unsure what to do. Did Dumbledore really want Draco and Snape to kill him? And to allow Death Eaters to just waltz out of what was a perfect trap seemed the height of folly. Due to the size of the Vanishing Cabinet, only a few Death Eaters at a time could come through, making it a perfect time for them to be taken down before the next batch came through. This was definitely something that needed to be discussed. And just how in the hell was he supposed to get Slughorn to tell him the truth about Voldemort? He groaned in annoyance and dropped back into the pillows.
Luna smiled and leaned down, kissing him lightly on the lips, "It'll be okay Harry, you'll see."