A/N:

Is *anyone* still reading this story?

Well, if you are –

I'M BACK!!!!

*fireworks sound*

hehe.

So, yeah, I hate abandoning stories, and my muse has FINALLY!!!!! (after four months of paaain) returned to me, my beautiful, beautiful muse. So, anyway, hope you enjoy the chapter. This story is very nearly finished – WHOOO. This will probably be the second last chapter I think. Unless I do like an epiloguey thing.

Sorry this is short, but I wanted to split it into two chapters (mainly because I'm cruel like that :D ).

Please review and give me cookies.

~rowanx

Chapter 26

Riddles

"I can't believe I let you come," Harry muttered.

                "And I can't believe you still own a crappy firebolt 3000," Malfoy shot back. "You really should really get the new model – a Takilees 5000," he boasted, patting his new broomstick as they flew through the air side by side. "It'll be the only way to beat me at our next match."

                "Talent is what'll help me beat you, Malfoy, as it always does," Harry said dryly. "Look, are we nearly there? We've been flying for hours now."

                Malfoy yawned in annoyance. "Patience is a virtue, Potter. Yes we're nearly there, stop complaining."

                "I think I'm allowed to complain in my last few hours alive," Harry said joking wryly.

                Malfoy looked at Harry out of the corner of his eye. "I prefer to spend it free of whining," he said. "But do what you want to do."

                Harry was quiet for a moment before saying, "Is your father going to be angry?"

                "Angry?" Malfoy scorned. "He's fucking pissed. Already is 'cause I didn't want to join his gang of evil. Bastard," he muttered. "I'm going to kill him. That is, if he doesn't kill me first."

                "Your father would kill you?" Harry asked shocked. "Just because you wouldn't join Voldemort?"

                Malfoy didn't answer, instead he looked to the sky and the thunderstorms ahead. "It's going to rain," he commented, dodging Harry's question. Harry didn't press him. In Malfoy's face he saw fear he never expected to ever see on his enemy's face. He wondered if Malfoy was telling the truth. Would his father kill him? Was anyone so heartless towards their only son? "You see down there?" Malfoy continued, pointing towards a clump of trees that from their distance up in the sky looked like a small gathering but as they neared Harry saw it was more a huge forest.

                "Malfoy Manor is in that forest?" Harry asked bewildered.

                "No, but that's where we're landing," Malfoy explained. "We can't fly directly to the Manor, it would be too obvious."

                Harry wanted to ask how they were going to get there, but the sudden air force on him as they plummeted towards the forest was too much and he didn't think Malfoy would be able to hear him if he spoke anyway. Approaching the trees, Harry jumped off of his broom and fell through the leaves landing on a branch. He saw Malfoy do the same and the two boys swiftly climbed down the tree, their broomsticks in hand. Landing on the ground with a soft pat, Harry looked around him. There was no one about, no sign of any life. "So," he said, "What direction are we going in?"

                Malfoy looked around and walked over to a tree. Staring at it for a moment, he pointed to the left of him. "This way," he said.

                "How do you know?" asked Harry, amazed at Malfoy's great sense of direction.

                Malfoy shrugged. "I don't really. Just a guess. I was hoping that if I stared at a tree for a while you might think that I was picking up some old boy scout's thing."

                Harry sighed. "So in other words, we're lost?"

                "No, not lost. I know we're in this forest, and I know that somewhere on the other side of this forest is Malfoy Manor. Thus, we're not lost, we just don't know where to go," he pointed out stupidly.

                Harry frowned. The two walked on in Malfoy's random direction, hoping that they were going in the right direction. The trees around bristled in the breeze, and the leaves and acorns that littered the forest floor crunched softly underneath Harry's feet as he walked beside Malfoy for what must have been the first time ever. As they walked on in the soft heat of midday, Harry began to get a head ache. Assuming it was the heat he brushed it aside, not caring, but as time went on it began hurting more and more and he wandered if it was his scar hurting rather than his head.

                "You should tell Malfoy," Hermione said, placing a hand on his shoulder. Harry looked at her and saw the worry in her face. "It could be serious. Maybe Malfoy knows something about this forest he should have told you." Harry raised an eyebrow enquiringly. Hermione sighed impatiently. "Look, we haven't seen any wildlife so far, don't you think that's strange for a forest of this capacity? And now your scar's hurting – maybe there's some evil in this forest."

                Harry turned to Malfoy. "My scar hurts," he said simply, sounding stupid as soon as he said it.

                "So? What do you want me to do about it?" Malfoy said uncaringly, not looking at Harry. "Go whinge to Pomfrey, not me."

                "Malfoy, is there something about this forest you're not telling me?"

                There was a slight pause before Malfoy said, "Like what?"

                "Like evil." Malfoy almost stopped walking but then continued on at a brisk pace. Harry walked on beside him, refusing to turn his eyes away from his enemy's face until he got an answer.

                "Ok, fine," said Malfoy, still not looking at Harry. "This forest belongs to my father. I guess it does have evil in it, he uses it to practice his darkest spells..."

                "So that's why we haven't seen any animals..." Harry muttered, not sure if he was talking to himself, Malfoy or Hermione. Everyone listened though. Hermione nodded her head triumphantly, once again loving that she'd been right. Malfoy nodded his head seeming almost impressed by Harry's observation skills.

                They carried on walking until Harry got the feeling they'd never find their way out of the forest.

                "Malfoy."

                Draco stopped and turned. "Yes?"

                "Wait a minute." Harry closed his eyes and focused on the trees around him. Weaving his mind in and out of the trees he held out his hand, feeling around for the manor. Suddenly a block hit his hand and he swivelled round. Opening his eyes he pointed towards a clearing in the trees. "It's this way," Harry said faintly.

                Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "Uh, what did you just do?"

                "I have no idea," said an honestly bewildered Harry. "But, I looked through the trees with my hands and felt the manor underneath them and my arm turned me round to the right direction."

                Malfoy's eyes were wide. "Wow. I didn't know you could do that?"

                "Neither did I," muttered Harry as the two boys made their way towards the manor.

Cassandra watched as a wave of broomsticks rose into the air. Silently, she crept out from behind her hiding place and, with a click of her fingers, vanished.

After just twenty minutes of walking, Harry reached the end of the trees and looked out to the marvellous clearing in which Malfoy Manor stood. Draco's house really did look like it was straight out of a horror movie. It was a huge grey castle-like building, with hundreds of windows and turrets running along the top. Along the ground around the outside of the house were deadly-looking plants, creeping and curling around.

                Harry turned round to look at Malfoy who simply sighed in an annoyed kind of way. "Come on let's get this over with."

                It was Harry's turn to be sarcastic now. " 'Let's get this over with'? We're facing death and you just want to get it done? Well that's nicely optimistic."

                Malfoy walked past Harry without a word and stormed up to the Manor doors. A thought came to Harry and he ran up to Malfoy. "Wait," he said, having to walk pretty fast to keep up with Malfoy's angry pace. "Voldemort will know I'm here, aren't there spells we could…"

                They had reached the Manor and Draco got out a key and unlocked the front doors, swinging them open.

                Harry was silenced. He gaped at Malfoy for a moment. "You have got to be kidding me."

                Draco smirked. "Yeah, well, Voldemort's intellect isn't quite what it used to be in his mad old age. And I didn't sense my father being here. If he were in this building, we would know."

                "Well, Voldemort's definitely here," Harry said. After getting over his shock of how easy it had been to enter the manor, he realised his scar was killing him. "So, what do we do now?"

                "You ready for it?"

                "Ready for what?"

                Malfoy looked to the ceiling and then to the stairs as an indication that Voldemort was probably up there. Harry's heart was racing, his scar was throbbing, and Hermione was squeezing his hand so tightly he thought it would break. The two boys edged towards the stairs and Harry, realising how useless it was to be quiet, thinking about how powerful his and Voldemort's connection was, pelted up the stairs, wand in hand, ready to attack full on.

                At the top of the stairs he let go of his love's hand and turned around like a mad man, adrenaline pumping through him. He could hear Voldemort's voice inside his head, calling Harry to him. Harry went on impulse and ran up the next flight of stairs, sensing Malfoy close behind. At the top of the stairs was one doorway, and another flight running up. Harry banged the doorway open and immediately reached behind to pull Draco and himself to the floor. A beam of light flew past their heads and they straightened up and ran into the room, side by side, wand by wand.

                Voldemort laughed. "How did I guess?" he said with a smirk. "Malfoy and Potter. Oh won't your daddy be pleased, Draco?"

                "He better bloody be," Malfoy said darkly. "I went to all this trouble to piss him off, if he isn't there'll be hell to pay."

                Harry bit on his lip. He was trembling, and tried hard not to close his eyes with all the pain that was throbbing in them. His scar was burning his forehead, being so close to Voldemort and feeling the thick, repulsive evil in the air around him.

                "Come on then, Tommy," Harry said, feeling dark himself. "Let's finish this, shall we? I think the feeling's mutual when I say we've been playing around for too long."

                Voldemort stared straight at Harry. "Finally ready to face me this time, Potter? Not going to run away behind your precious Dumbledore this time?"

                "Shut up," Harry said. He looked at Malfoy and smiled. "Can we just get this over with?" he directed at Voldemort. Malfoy also had the craziness to smile back at his enemy.

                Looking back at Voldemort, he could tell the old man was confused as to why Harry wasn't breaking down with fear like he had done in the past. Shaking his hooded head, he said, "And what is it exactly you want to get over and done with?"

                Harry didn't like the superior tone in Voldemort's voice that he could hear. "I found your pathetic little mirror," Harry said, trying to get his confidence back. "'The blood will not stop, the pain shall go on, 'till the heir to the light, shall step forward and fight'. Well I'm here, and I'm ready for you, so don't pretend one of us isn't going to die here today."

                "Oh I'm not pretending anything. I know you may die today. But I certainly shan't." Harry glanced at Malfoy and Voldemort laughed.

                "Harry! Draco?" All three men looked towards the door in shock as Cassandra's sweet voice drifted through.

                Malfoy was the first to turn away, with disgust; Harry just looked to the floor, weighing things over. Voldemort stepped forward. "Cassandra, my dearest."

                "Father…" Cassandra had obviously already guessed that Harry knew the truth; she looked at him with a strange pleading in her eyes.

                Harry couldn't even look at her. He turned to Voldemort. "Well? Now you're loyal daughter's here, can we fight now?"

                "We?" Voldemort rose to his full height. "We aren't going to do anything."

                "But…"

                "You stupid boy. Now that I have Cassandra, it's not my place to fight such a pathetic young boy."

                Harry's eyes widened and he felt both Malfoy and Cassandra be hit with the implications in Voldemort's voice.

                "But…the mirror…it said, the heir…"

                Voldemort smiled. "As much as I hate you, Harry Potter, it is no longer my place to fight you. For what you have done to me, I will certainly have a hand in the final strike against you. But now that Cassandra has turned eighteen, she is the one true heir to Slytherin. She is who you'll be fighting."

                Harry turned and stared at Cassandra. "…You?"

~ ~

(ps, wasn't I just *so* clever with the title? Like, riddles as in the family, and riddles as in the parseltongue on the back of the mirror, type thing? Yes, go me with my ultimosity in play on words.)

(pps, I haven't read through this, because I just wanna get it up, so sorry for all the mistakes. Feel free to point them out to me in YOUR REVIEWS and I'll go back and change it. … maybe.)