AN: WOW 37,805 views, thank you to everyone who has either left a review or just plain read my story, here's the next chapter for you all to enjoy.

The History of Lord Voldemort part II

Christmas was coming. The next morning, Hogwarts woke to find itself covered in several feet of snow. The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban. The few owls that managed to battle their way through the stormy sky to deliver mail had to be nursed back to health by Hagrid before they could fly off again.

No one could wait for the holidays to start. While the Slytherin common room and the Great Hall had roaring fires, the drafty corridors had become icy and a bitter wind rattled the windows in the classrooms. Worst of all would be Professor Snape's classes down in the dungeons, as the Slytherin's knew, the dungeons were freezing cold.

At the moment though, Harry sat on a rock overlooking the black lake, Christmas and cold corridors were the last things on his mind. He was thinking about Lord Voldemort and everything he had learned about him the night before. Unbidden a memory floated to the front of his mind's eye.

"All the details are on the second piece of parchment in your envelope," said Dumbledore. "You will leave from King's Cross Station on the first of September. There is a train ticket in there too."

Riddle nodded. Dumbledore got to his feet and held out his hand again. Taking it, Riddle said, "I can speak to snakes. I found out when we've been to the country on trips, they find me, they whisper to me. Is that normal for a wizard?"

"Am I destined to be a psychopathic murder?" Harry asked himself as another memory floated into his mind, this time his own.

Harry nodded. McGonagall got to her feet and held out her hand to Harry, who after a moment shook it firmly. "I can talk to snakes, I found out last year when weeding the garden, they find me and talk to me, is that normal for a wizard?"

As he sat there thinking about his and Tom's similarities, how they were both orphans, both Parselmouths, how they were both magically powerful, how they were both tall and handsome for their ages, he couldn't help but wonder if he. Harry was destined to be a Dark Lord, ripping apart families all because they were half-blood or Muggle-born.

But as he sat there, he remembered one crucial thing that separated him and Tom Riddle from each other, he, Harry James Potter, wanted to be remembered as the greatest wizard who ever lived, but he wanted to be remembered like that because of new spells and potions he had invented, for holding the most prestigious offices at the Ministry of Magic, Hit-Wizard, Auror, Head-Auror, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Ambassador for Great Britain to the rest of the Wizarding world, Minister for Magic and finally Headmaster of Hogwarts.

But Tom Riddle on the other hand, had and still wanted to be known as the supreme ruler of England and more than likely the rest of the world. Tom wanted to cause death and destruction, he wanted to be feared but he Harry wanted to be loved and adored by all.

He knew it would take a hell of a lot of hard work and dedication but he knew that if he put his mind to it he could achieve anything. And the first stepping stone to greatness began right here at Hogwarts were he could learn magic and also train to kill the Dark Lord, the second stone would be Lord Voldemort, dead at his feet and the rest would follow.

"Yes, the rest would follow with the death of Voldemort by my hands." Harry smiled to himself as he got up off the rock and stretched before he turned around and headed back to the castle for lunch.

As he reached the great hall, he spotted Blaise and Theo eating lunch with Daphne and Tracy and he headed over to join them.

"Ah Harry there you are, where have you been man." Theo asked him as he sat down next to Tracy opposite Theo and Blaise.

"Just needed to be on my own and think." Harry answered as he pulled a ham salad toward him and dug in.

"Does it involve the Philosopher's Stone?" Tracy asked him quietly causing Harry's head to whip around and look at her in shock.

"How do you know about that?" Harry demanded coldly, he couldn't believe that Tracy Davis knew about Quirrell and the Stone.

"After your pacing around the common room and you leaving to go wherever you went, I noticed that you had left your book open, so I went to close it and get Theo or Blaise to put it in your room, I noticed the page that had gotten you pacing was about Nicolas Flamel and the Stone." Tracy explained calmly and patiently.

"I had wondered how it had gotten onto my bed, thanks for that and sorry for snapping at you." Harry replied as he offered a sheepish grin to Tracy who smiled back.

"No harm done, just try to ask before lashing out next time." She advised with a smile as she downed her glass of pumpkin juice.

"Sure thing." Nodded Harry.

"So what's this about the Philosopher's Stone?" Daphne asked quietly so as not to be overheard, obviously Harry didn't want to people knowing otherwise he wouldn't have reacted the way he did with Tracy.

"I can't tell you." Harry said with a shake of his head.

"Why not." Blaise asked with a small frown.

"Because technically, I shouldn't even know about it." Harry replied quietly.

"But everyone who reads knows about it." Said Theo getting nods of agreement from the other three.

"Yes, but they don't know it's been hidden here at Hogwarts." Harry hissed at him.

"It's hidden here, but why?" Daphne asked him in shock.

"I told you, I can't tell you."

"Why not, don't you trust us?" Tracy asked feeling a little hurt at the thought.

"No I don't, I hardly know you." Harry answered bluntly as he finished his salad and poured himself a drink.

"What if there was a way for us to prove our trust and loyalty to you?" Daphne asked him seriously.

"You mean like an oath or something." Harry asked, he had only the vaguest idea about oaths having come across the term in his research into magic and the war against Voldemort.

"I was thinking along the lines of An Unbreakable Vow." Daphne said seriously causing Blaise, Theo and Tracy to look at her as though she had grown a second head.

"Isn't that the one where if you break it you die?" Harry asked as he thought back to the chapter he had read on Ministry laws at the Leaky Cauldron when he was looking up underage magic laws, there had been a whole chapter about that vow.

"That's the one." Daphne nodded.

"Are you nuts, swear an unbreakable vow just to find out why the Philosopher's Stone is hidden at Hogwarts." Theo asked as though Daphne was mental for even suggesting it.

"There's more to this than the Stone and I want to know what it is." Daphne replied with determination.

"But an Unbreakable Vow." Theo said ludicrously.

"What's up Theo, are the rumours true, was your father a Death Eater, is that why you won't swear the Vow." Tracy asked him tauntingly. As she asked this she noticed that Harry was now glaring daggers at Theo, clearly he had not heard that rumour.

"N-Noo, of course he wasn't." Stuttered Theo, he was scared out of his mind from the glare that Harry was giving him right then.

"DON'T. LIE. TO. ME." Harry hissed managing to shout in a whisper as he glared daggers at Theo. "I can see the truth in your eyes, your mouth might lie but your eyes never lie."

"Ok, come with me and I will explain it as best I can." Theo said as he stood from the bench.

"You best have a good reason for not telling me otherwise you will die." Harry hissed as he stood up followed by Blaise, Daphne and Tracy. "Now walk." He spat as he pointed towards the exit.

The five of them walked out of the great hall and into an unused classroom just off of the great hall.

"Explain." Harry demanded once the door was closed.

"During the war my father was a Death Eater, he agreed with everything the Dark Lord was saying but when I was growing up, I found that I didn't agree, just because someone is from a Muggle family, didn't mean they had to be killed or forced to be slaves, I thought to myself that we are all humans and every decent humans life is precious, whether they are Muggle-born, Pure-Blood or even just a Muggle." Theo explained in a rush hoping Harry wasn't going to curse him then and there where he stood.

"So you're not spying on me for your father?" Harry asked slowly as he stared into Theo's eyes to detect any deceit from the other boy.

"No Harry, my father doesn't even know we're friends, I swear." Theo answered pleadingly trying to portray the truth in his words.

"You swear." Whispered Harry, as he looked in Theo's eyes he knew the boy to be telling the truth but he wanted them all to swear the vow to him.

"Yes, I swear." Theo replied in a thick voice, he had the horrible feeling that Harry did not believe him and was about to strike him down where he stood.

"Then swear the unbreakable vow." Harry whispered softly.


"I cannot trust you not to stab me in the back now that I know that your father was/is a Death Eater, unless you swear that vow." Harry explained softly getting nods from the other three.

"Very well, I will swear the vow." Theo decided after a few moments thought, having the protection of The-Boy-Who-Lived would be worth it in the end.

"I will be the bonder for you all to swear the vow to Harry until it's my turn, then Tracy can be our binder." Daphne spoke up with enthusiasm, she really wanted to know why the famous Stone was been hidden at Hogwarts.

"Very well, Theo first." Harry said as he stretched out his hand to the other boy. Theo took his arm grasping Harry's wrist and Harry grabbing Theo's, Harry then turned their clasped arms and turned their arms until Harry's arm was above Theo's as Theo was swearing the vow to him, had Harry been swearing the vow to Theo, then Harry's arm would be underneath Theo's.

Daphne stood next to the two boys, her wand now resting on Harry's arm ready to seal the vow. "Votum." She said the incantation to begin the unbreakable vow, three ropes of magical fire wrapped around Harry and Theo's clasped hands and arms.

"Will you, Theodore Nott, Swear to keep all of my secrets?" Harry asked in a whisper.

"I will." Replied Theo also in a whisper.

"Will you, Theodore Nott, stand by me in battle, whether that be in the court room or on a battle field?"

"I will."

"And will you, Theodore Nott, swear to be loyal to me above all others, whether that be a teacher, a ministry worker or you father and the Dark Lord Voldemort." Harry asked the most important and vital question last and in a whisper.

"I will." Theo agreed after a moment's hesitation.

"Signa Etiam Votum." Daphne spoke quietly and the ropes of fire sank into Harry and Theo's arms, sealing the vow.

"Good, now I can trust you not to sell me out to your father." Harry said as he released Theo's arm.

Ten minutes later and Blaise, Tracy and Daphne had sworn the unbreakable vow to Harry, Blaise was the binder for Daphne swearing the Vow.

"Now that we have all sworn the Vow and you know there is no possible way for us to tell anybody with dying, will you tell us what is going on with the Stone?" Daphne asked after she had sworn the Vow.

"Quirrell is trying to steal the Stone for his master." Harry replied as he went to the window and looked out onto the grounds, from what he could see, Dean Thomas was trying to teach Ron Weasley Football.

"But why is the Stone here in the first place, shouldn't Flamel have it with him." Blaise asked with a slight confusion on his face as he looked at Harry.

"It's here as bait, as far as I can tell, Dumbledore is using the Stone to try and see if HE is still alive or not." Harry replied as he continued to watch the Gryffindor boys.

"Who's HE?" Tracy asked at the same time Daphne asked.

"Whose Quirrell's Master."

Harry turned from the window and looked Theodore square in the eyes as he answered.

"Lord Voldemort." The other three students all flinched at the Dark Lord's name but not Theo, he went pale and had to sit down.

"He's still alive." Theo whispered in shock. "Father always said that the Dark Lord would one day rise again."

"And now he's trying too." Harry said as the other three also took seats as they tried to process the fact that the terror that once plagued the Wizarding world was trying to come back and restart his war against the world.

"What will the stone do if he gets it?" Blaise asked quietly.

"It will rejuvenate him and bring him back to full power." Harry replied softly as he looked at them, all four had their eyes closed as they thought about the horror stories they had been told growing up.

"And what's your role in all of this?" Daphne asked after a few minutes composing herself, she opened her eyes and looked at Harry who had turned to look back out the window.

"What makes you think I have any role in this?" Harry asked as he watched the Gryffindor boys who had given up playing football and were now having a huge snowball fight with the Ravenclaw's and Hufflepuff's.

"Because you know so much that we don't." Daphne answered.

"Because you went to see the headmaster last night and were gone for hours." Said Tracy.

"And because you're the Boy-Who-Lived." Blaise answered as though that was enough for Harry to have any role in anything to do with Voldemort.

"And because the Dark Lord will want revenge and to finish the job he started ten years ago." Theo said quietly.

I suppose you're all right in a way." Harry said as he turned back to look at them all. "There is a Prophecy and it says that, either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives." Harry quoted some of the Prophecy in a voice hardly above a whisper but they all heard it as though he had shouted.

"How do you know that the Prophecy is about you?" Blaise asked after mulling it over in his head for a few minutes.

"Because I was born at the end of the seventh month and because he marked me as his equal." Harry answered as he lifted up his fringe to show them his lightning bolt scar.

"What are you going to do, I very much doubt that you can defeat him in a duel." Tracy asked as she looked at him in worry.

"No not right now I can't, but with Dumbledore training me I just might be able to do it." Harry replied with determination in his voice.

"What has he taught you so far?" Blaise asked curiously.

"So far he has begun showing me his history to better understand him, after that he will be training me in magic." Harry replied as he perched himself on the edge of the old teachers desk.

"Makes sense, understand your enemy to better defeat him." Daphne nodded.

"Exactly." Harry nodded back glad they understood the headmasters reasoning.

"Harry, you do realise that my father will expect me to join the Dark Lord once he returns to power." Theo asked fearful at the prospect of being in the Dark Lord's service.

"Yes I know and I've been thinking about something ever since you admitted your father is a Death Eater and you swore your loyalty to me." Harry replied softly.

"What have you been think?"

"I was thinking that with the right training, then you could become my spy." He replied not really thinking that Theo would go for it.

"You want me to join the Dark Lord and spy on him for you." Theo asked just to be certain that he understood Harry correctly.


"Will you train me in magic and promise to keep me alive to the best of your ability?" Theo asked seriously, if it were anybody else asking he would not even consider it but there was something about Harry Potter that made him believe anything was possible, including spying on the most feared and powerful Dark Lord in British history.

"I will."

"Then yes, I will be your spy."

"Good, no time like the present." Harry said as he stood up and removed his wand motioning for them all to do so. They all quickly pushed the tables and chairs to the sides of the room.

"The first spell I shall teach you is the Disarming Charm." Harry said as he stood opposite the four. "Observe."

"Expelliarmus." Fast as lightning Daphne's wand was ripped from her hand and Harry caught it expertly out of the air surprising them all.

"That's useful." Daphne commented dryly as she accepted her wand back.

"Now repeat after me Ex-pelli-ar-mus." The four students repeated the incantation twenty times before Harry was satisfied. He then showed them the wand movement and had them practice that twenty times as well.

"Now pair up and one fire the spell before letting the other try the spell." Harry instructed. Soon the classroom was filled with four voices shouting the Disarming charm.

For over two hours Harry had them practising the spell on each over until he was satisfied that they had the spell mastered.

"Now I will show you the Shield Charm." Harry said as he called a halt to their casting.

"Protego." a bright blue transparent shield appeared in front of Harry." One of you cast the Disarming charm at me.

"Expelliarmus." Daphnecast the charm at Harry and the bright red light bounced off of the blue shield.

"That's cool." Blaise grinned.

For another hour Harry had them practice the shield charm before having one use the shield charm whilst another cast the disarming charm at the shield for an hour.

"Right those two spells are some of the most important spells any good dueller has in their arsenal, so be sure to practice them both at least once a night before going to bed." Harry said as he put his wand back into his wand holster.

"You will also want to owl-order a wand holster from Ollivander's or go to his shop and buy one in person over the Christmas holiday, either way you need to have one before the term starts in the New Year."

"No problem Harry." Tracy said getting nods from the other three.

"Observe the other students and let me know who you think would join us and train with us in preparation of Voldemort's eventual return."

"Are we including the other three houses or just our own house?" Daphne asked.

"All the houses, target those who lost family in the last war, they will be the most loyal and likely to join."

"Very well and what about Quirrell?" Theo asked as they headed to the door ready for dinner.

"Keep an eye on him, don't be obvious about it, write down what you learn, anything at all and we will compare notes next Saturday before I give them to the Headmaster."

"Good thinking." Blaise nodded with a small smile.

"DO NOT under any circumstance try to stop, fight or capture Quirrell in anyway, he may be a stuttering fool but I'd bet my vault that that is just an act, he is more than likely to be very dangerous." Harry said in a no nonsense tone of voice as they left the classroom and headed to the great hall.

Two hours later, Harry left the four to their homework as he exited the common room and made his way to the Headmaster's office ready for another history lesson.

The lamps in Dumbledore's office were lit, the portraits of previous headmasters were snoring gently in their frames, and the Pensive was ready upon the desk once more. Dumbledore's hands lay on either side of it.

"Ah Harry, come in, take a seat, how's your day been." Dumbledore smiled brightly as he motioned for Harry to take a seat in front of his desk.

"Very productive sir, and yours?" Harry asked as he took a seat.

"Also very productive, I managed to persuade an old college to part with a memory of Tom Riddle, it has taken me the better part of five years to get this memory, but before I show you this I want to show you another."

"Ok." Harry replied wondering why someone who used to work with/for Dumbledore would refuse to give up a memory for five years.

"So," said Dumbledore, in a ringing voice, "we meet this evening to continue the tale of Tom Riddle, whom we left last lesson poised on the threshold of his years at Hogwarts. You will remember how excited he was to hear that he was a wizard, that he refused my company on a trip to Diagon Alley, and that I, in turn, warned him against continued thievery when he arrived at school."

"Well, the start of the school year arrived and with it came Tom Riddle, a quiet boy in his second-hand robes, who lined up with the other first years to be sorted. He was placed in Slytherin House almost the moment that the Sorting Hat touched his head," continued Dumbledore, waving his hand toward the shelf over his head where the Sorting Hat sat, ancient and unmoving. "How soon Riddle learned that the famous founder of the House could talk to snakes, I do not know — perhaps that very evening. The knowledge can only have excited him and increased his sense of self-importance."

"However, if he was frightening or impressing fellow Slytherin's with displays of Parseltongue in their common room, no hint of it reached the staff. He showed no sign of outward arrogance or aggression at all. As an unusually talented and very good-looking orphan, he naturally drew attention and sympathy from the staff almost from the moment of his arrival. He seemed police, quiet, and thirsty for knowledge. Nearly all were most favourably impressed by him."

"Didn't you tell them, sir, what he'd been like when you met him at the orphanage?" asked Harry.

"No, I did not. Though he had shown no hint of remorse, it was possible that he felt sorry for how he had behaved before and was resolved to turn over a fresh leaf. I chose to give him that chance."

"But you didn't really trust him, sir, did you?"

"Let us say that I did not take it for granted that he was trustworthy," said Dumbledore. "I had, as I have already indicated, resolved to keep a close eye upon him, and so I did. I cannot pretend that I gleaned a great deal from my observations at first. He was very guarded with me; he felt, I am sure, that in the thrill of discovering his true identity he had told me a little too much. He was careful never to reveal as much again, but he could not take back what he had let slip in his excitement, nor what Mrs. Cole had confided in me. However, he had the sense never to try and charm me as he charmed so many of my colleagues."

"As he moved up the school, he gathered about him a group of dedicated friends; I call them that, for want of a better term, although as I have already indicated, Riddle undoubtedly felt no affection for any of them. This group had a kind of dark glamour within the castle. They were a motley collection; a mixture of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking some shared glory, and the thuggish gravitating toward a leader who could show them more refined forms of cruelty. In other words, they were the forerunners of the Death Eaters, and indeed some of them became the first Death Eaters after leaving Hogwarts.

"Rigidly controlled by Riddle, they were never detected in open wrongdoing, although their seven years at Hogwarts were marked by a number of nasty incidents to which they were never satisfactorily linked, the most serious of which was, of course, the opening of the Chamber of Secrets, which resulted in the death of a girl."

"I have not been able to find many memories of Riddle at Hogwarts," said Dumbledore, placing his hand on the Pensive. "Few who knew him then are prepared to talk about him; they are too terrified. What I know, I found out after he had left Hogwarts, after much painstaking effort, after tracing those few who could be tricked into speaking, after searching old records and questioning Muggle and wizard witnesses alike."

"Those whom I could persuade to talk told me that Riddle was obsessed with his parentage. This is understandable, of course; he had grown up in an orphanage and naturally wished to know how he came to be there. It seems that he searched in vain for some trace of Tom Riddle senior on the shields in the trophy room, on the lists of prefects in the old school records, even in the books of Wizarding history. Finally he was forced to accept that his father had never set foot in Hogwarts. I believe that it was then that he dropped the name forever, assumed the identity of Lord Voldemort, and began his investigations into his previously despised mother's family — the woman whom, you will remember, he had thought could not be a witch if she had succumbed to the shameful human weakness of death."

"All he had to go upon was the single name 'Marvolo,' which he knew from those who ran the orphanage had been his mother's father's name. Finally, after painstaking research, through old books of Wizarding families, he discovered the existence of Slytherin's surviving line. In the summer of his sixteenth year, he left the orphanage to which he returned annually and set off to find his Gaunt relatives. And now, Harry, if you will stand ..."

Dumbledore rose, and Harry saw that he was again holding a. small crystal bottle filled with swirling, pearly memory.

"I was very lucky to collect this," he said, as he poured the gleaming mass into the Pensive. "As you will understand when we have experienced it. Shall we?"

Harry stepped up to the stone basin and bowed obediently until his face sank through the surface of the memory; he felt the familiar sensation of falling through nothingness and then landed upon a dirty stone floor in almost total darkness.

It took him several seconds to recognize the place, by which time Dumbledore had landed beside him. The Gaunts' house was now more indescribably filthy than anywhere Harry had ever seen. The ceiling was thick with cobwebs, the floor coated in grime; mouldy and rotting food lay upon the table amidst a mass of crusted pots. The only light came from a single guttering candle placed at the feet of a man with hair and beard so overgrown Harry could see neither eyes nor mouth. He was slumped in an armchair by the fire, and Harry wondered for a moment whether he was dead.

But then there came a loud knock on the door and the man jerked awake, raising a wand in his right hand and a short knife in his left.

The door creaked open. There on the threshold, holding an old-fashioned lamp, stood a boy Harry recognized at once: tall, pale, dark-haired, and handsome — the teenage Voldemort.

Voldemort's eyes moved slowly around the hovel and then found the man in the armchair. For a few seconds they looked at each other, then the man staggered upright, the many empty bottles at his feet clattering and tinkling across the floor.

"YOU!" he bellowed. "YOU!"

And he hurtled drunkenly at Riddle, wand and knife held aloft.


Riddle spoke in Parseltongue. The man skidded into the table, sending mouldy pots crashing to the floor. He stared at Riddle. There was a long silence while they contemplated each other. The man broke it.

"Yes, I speak it," said Riddle. He moved forward into the room, allowing the door to swing shut behind him. Harry could not help but feel a resentful admiration for Voldemort's complete lack of fear. His race merely expressed disgust and, perhaps, disappointment.

"Where is Marvolo?" he asked.

"Dead," said the other. "Died years ago, didn't he?"

Riddle frowned.

"Who are you, then?"

"I'm Morfin, ain't I?"

"Marvolo's son?"

"'Course I am, then..."

Morfin pushed the hair out of his dirty face, the better to see Riddle, and Harry saw that he wore Marvolo's black-stoned ring on his right hand.

"I thought you was that Muggle," whispered Morfin. "You look mighty like that Muggle."

"What Muggle?" said Riddle sharply?

"That Muggle what my sister took a fancy to, that Muggle what lives in the big house over the way," said Morfin, and he spat unexpectedly upon the floor between them. "You look right like him. Riddle. But he's older now, in 'e? He's older'n you, now I think on it. ..."

Morfin looked slightly dazed and swayed a little, still clutching the edge of the table for support. "He come back, see," he added stupidly.

Voldemort was gazing at Morfin as though appraising his possibilities. Now he moved a little closer and said, "Riddle came back?"

"Ar, he left her, and serve her right, marrying filth!" said Morfin, spitting on the floor again. "Robbed us, mind, before she ran off. Where's the locket, eh, where's Slytherin's locket?"

Voldemort did not answer. Morfin was working himself into a rage again; he brandished his knife and shouted, "Dishonoured us, she did, that little slut! And whore you, coming here and asking questions about all that? It's over, innit. It's over. ..."

He looked away, staggering slightly, and Voldemort moved forward. As he did so, an unnatural darkness fell, extinguishing Voldemort's lamp and Morfin's candle, extinguishing everything. . . . Dumbledore's fingers closed tightly around Harry's arm and they were soaring back into the present again. The soft golden light in Dumbledore's office seemed to dazzle Harry's eyes after that impenetrable darkness.

"Is that all?" said Harry at once. "Why did it go dark, what happened?"

"Because Morfin could not remember anything from that point onward," said Dumbledore, gesturing Harry back into his seat. "When he awoke next morning, he was lying on the floor, quite alone. Marvolo's ring had gone."

"Meanwhile, in the village of Little Hangleton, a maid was running along the High Street, screaming that there were three bodies lying in the drawing room of the big house: Tom Riddle Senior and his mother and father.

"The Muggle authorities were perplexed. As far as I am aware, they do not know to this day how the Riddles died, for the Avada Kedavra curse does not usually leave any sign of damage. . . . The exception sits before me," Dumbledore added, with a nod to Harry's scar. "The Ministry, on the other hand, knew at once that this was a wizard's murder. They also knew that a convicted Muggle-hater lived across the valley from the Riddle house, a Muggle-hater who had already been imprisoned once for attacking one of the murdered people.

"So the Ministry called upon Morfin. They did not need to question him, to use Veritaserum or Legilimency. He admitted to the murder on the spot, giving details only the murderer could know. He was proud, he said, to have killed the Muggles, had been awaiting his chance all these years. He handed over his wand, which was proved at once to have been used to kill the Riddles. And he permitted himself to be led off to Azkaban without a fight.

All that disturbed him was the fact that his father's ring had disappeared. 'He'll kill me for losing it,' he told his captors over and over again. 'He'll kill me for losing his ring.' And that, apparently, was all he ever said again. He lived out the remainder of his life in Azkaban, lamenting the loss of Marvolo's last heirloom, and is buried beside the prison, alongside the other poor souls who have expired within its walls."

"So Voldemort stole Morfin's wand and used it?" said Harry, sitting up straight.

"That's right," said Dumbledore. "We have no memories to show us this, but I think we can be fairly sure what happened. Voldemort Stupefied his uncle, took his wand, and proceeded across the valley to 'the big house over the way.' There he murdered the Muggle man who had abandoned his witch mother, and, for good measure, his Muggle grandparents, thus obliterating the last of the unworthy Riddle line and revenging himself upon the father who never wanted him. Then he returned to the Gaunt hovel, performed the complex bit of magic that would implant a false memory in his uncle's mind, laid Morfin's wand beside its unconscious owner, pocketed the ancient ring he wore, and departed."

"And Morfin never realized he hadn't done it?"

"Never," said Dumbledore. "He gave, as I say, a full and boastful confession."

"But he had this real memory in him all the time!"

"Yes, but it took a great deal of skilled Legilimency to coax it out of him," said Dumbledore, "and why should anybody delve further into Morfin's mind when he had already confessed to the crime? However, I was able to secure a visit to Morfin in the last weeks of his life, by which time I was attempting to discover as much as I could about Voldemort's past. I extracted this memory with difficulty. When I saw what it contained, I attempted to use it to secure Morfin's release from Azkaban. Before the Ministry reached their decision, however, Morfin had died."

"But how come the Ministry didn't realize that Voldemort had done all that to Morfin?" Harry asked angrily, he was not angry on behalf of Morfin but the fact that the Ministry had had a chance to stop Voldemort before he became so powerful and skilled, all those lives they had a chance to save, and his parents could have lived had the ministry just done a more thorough investigation. "He was underage at the time, wasn't he? I thought they could detect underage magic!"

"You are quite right — they can detect magic, but not the perpetrator:"

"So if you're underage and you do magic inside an adult witch or wizard's house, the Ministry won't know?" Here Harry played dumb so as to not let the Headmaster know that he had practised magic over the summer and would do so again in the coming summers.

"They will certainly be unable to tell who performed the magic," said Dumbledore, smiling slightly at the look of great indignation on Harrys face. "They rely on witch and wizard parents to enforce their offspring's obedience while within their walls."

"Well, that's rubbish," snapped Harry. "Look what happened here, look what happened to Morfin!"

"I agree," said Dumbledore. "Whatever Morfin was, he did not deserve to die as he did, blamed for murders he had not committed. But it is getting late, and I want you to see this other memory before we part. ..."

Dumbledore took from an inside pocket another crystal phial and Harry fell silent at once, remembering that Dumbledore had said it was the most important one he had collected.

"Once more into the Pensive, then . . ."

And Harry fell again through the silver surface, landing this time right in front of a man with thick, shiny, straw-coloured hair with a shiny Galleon-sized bald patch on his crown. His massive moustache, was gingery-blond. He was quite rotund the golden buttons on his richly embroidered waistcoat were taking a fair amount of strain. His little feet resting upon a velvet pouffe, he was sitting well back in a comfortable winged armchair, one hand grasping a small glass of wine, the other searching through a box of crystalized pineapple.

Harry looked around as Dumbledore appeared beside him and saw that they were standing in the man's office.

"That is Professor Horace Slughorn, the former Potions Master before Professor Snape." Dumbledore said to Harry as he too looked around the office.

Half a dozen boys were sitting around Slughorn, all on harder or lower seats than his, and all in their mid-teens. Harry recognized Voldemort at once. His was the most handsome face and he looked the most relaxed of all the boys. His right hand lay negligently upon the arm of his chair; with a jolt, Harry saw that he was wearing Marvolo's gold-and-black ring; he had already killed his father.

"Sir, is it true that Professor Merrythought is retiring?" he asked.

"Tom, Tom, if I knew I couldn't tell you," said Slughorn, wagging a reproving, sugar-covered finger at Riddle, though ruining the effect slightly by winking. "I must say, I'd like to know where you get your information, boy, more knowledgeable than half the staff, you are."

Riddle smiled; the other boys laughed and cast him admiring looks.

"What with your uncanny ability to know things you shouldn't, and your careful flattery of the people who matter — thank you for the pineapple, by the way, you're quite right, it is my favourite —" Several of the boys tittered again. "— I confidently expect you to rise to Minister of Magic within twenty years. Fifteen, if you keep sending me pineapple, I have excellent contacts at the Ministry."

Tom Riddle merely smiled as the others laughed again. Harry noticed that he was by no means the eldest of the group of boys, but that they all seemed to look to him as their leader.

"I don't know that politics would suit me, sir," he said when the laughter had died away. "I don't have the right kind of background, for one thing."

A couple of the boys around him smirked at each other. Harry was sure they were enjoying a private joke, undoubtedly about what they knew, or suspected, regarding their gang leader's famous ancestor.

"Nonsense," said Slughorn briskly, "couldn't be plainer you come from decent Wizarding stock, abilities like yours. No, you'll go far, Tom, I've never been wrong about a student yet."

The small golden clock standing upon Slughorn's desk chimed eleven o'clock behind him and he looked around.

"Good gracious, is it that time already? You'd better get going boys, or we'll all be in trouble. Lestrange, I want your essay by in tomorrow or its detention. Same goes for you, Avery."

One by one, the boys filed out of the room. Slughorn heaved himself out of his armchair and carried his empty glass over to his desk. A movement behind him made him look around; Riddle was still standing there.

"Look sharp, Tom, you don't want to be caught out of bed out of hours, and you're a prefect…"

"Sir, I wanted to ask you something."

"Ask away, then, m'boy, ask away. . . ."

"Sir, I wondered what you know about . . . about Horcruxes?'

Slughorn stared at him, his thick fingers absentmindedly clawing the stem of his wine glass.

"Project for Defence against the Dark Arts, is it?"

But Harry could tell that Slughorn knew perfectly well that this was not schoolwork.

"Not exactly, sir," said Riddle. "I came across the term while reading and I didn't fully understand it."

"No . . . well. . . you'd be hard-pushed to find a book at Hogwarts that'll give you details on Horcruxes, Tom, that's very Dark stuff, very Dark indeed," said Slughorn.

"But you obviously know all about them, sir? I mean, a wizard like you — sorry, I mean, if you can't tell me, obviously — I just knew if anyone could tell me, you could — so I just thought I'd –"

It was very well done, thought Harry, the hesitancy, the casual tone, the careful flattery, none of it overdone. He, Harry, had had too much experience of trying to wheedle information out of reluctant people not to recognize a master at work. He could tell that Riddle wanted the information very, very much; perhaps had been working toward this moment for weeks.

"Well," said Slughorn, not looking at Riddle, but fiddling with the ribbon on top of his box of crystallized pineapple, "well, it can't hurt to give you an overview, of course. Just so that you understand the term. A Horcrux is the word used for an object in which a person has concealed part of their soul."

"I don't quite understand how that works, though, sir," said Riddle.

His voice was carefully controlled, but Harry could sense his excitement.

"Well, you split your soul, you see," said Slughorn, "and hide part of it in an object outside the body. Then, even if one's body is attacked or destroyed, one cannot die, for part of the soul remains earthbound and undamaged. But of course, existence in such a form ... ... few would want it, Tom, very few. Death would be preferable."

But Riddle's hunger was now apparent; his expression was greedy, he could no longer hide his longing. "How do you split your soul?"

Well," said Slughorn uncomfortably, "you must understand that the soul is supposed to remain intact and whole. Splitting it is an act of violation, it is against nature."

"But how do you do it?"

By an act of evil — the supreme act of evil. By committing murder. Killing rips the soul apart. The wizard intent upon creating a Horcrux would use the damage to his advantage: He would encase the torn portion —"

"Encase? But how —?"

"There is a spell, do not ask me, I don't know!" said Slughorn shaking his head like an old elephant bothered by mosquitoes. "Do I look as though I have tried it — do I look like a killer?"

"No, sir, of course not," said Riddle quickly. "I'm sorry ... I didn't mean to offend."

"Not at all, not at all, not offended," said Slughorn gruffly, "It is natural to feel some curiosity about these things. . . . Wizards of a certain calibre have always been drawn to that aspect of magic. . . ."

"Yes, sir," said Riddle. "What I don't understand, though — just out of curiosity — I mean, would one Horcrux be much use? Can you only split your soul once? Wouldn't it be better, make you stronger, to have your soul in more pieces, I mean, for instance, isn't seven the most powerfully magical number, wouldn't seven —?"

"Merlin's beard, Tom!" yelped Slughorn. "Seven! Isn't it bad enough to think of killing one person? And in any case . . . bad enough to divide the soul . . . but to rip it into seven pieces . . ."

Slughorn looked deeply troubled now: He was gazing at Riddle as though he had never seen him plainly before, and Harry could tell that he was regretting entering into the conversation at all.

"Of course," he muttered, "this is all hypothetical, what we're discussing, isn't it? All academic . . ."

"Yes, sir, of course," said Riddle quickly.

"But all the same, Tom . . . keep it quiet, what I've told — that's to say, what we've discussed. People wouldn't like to think we've been chatting about Horcruxes. It's a banned subject at Hogwarts, you know. . . . Dumbledore's particularly fierce about it. ..."

"I won't say a word, sir," said Riddle, and he left, but not before Harry had glimpsed his face, which was full of that same wild happiness it had worn when he had first found out that he was a wizard, the sort of happiness that did not enhance his handsome features, but made them, somehow, less human. . . .

"That's enough, Harry," said Dumbledore quietly. "Let us go. . . ."

When Harry landed back on the office floor Dumbledore was already sitting down behind his desk. Harry sat too and waited for Dumbledore to speak.

"I have been studying this piece of evidence for a very long time," said Dumbledore at last. "It confirms the theory on which I have been working, it tells me that I am right, and also how very far there is still to go. ..."

Harry suddenly noticed that every single one of the old head-masters and headmistresses in the portraits around the walls was awake and listening in on their conversation. A corpulent, red nosed wizard had actually taken out an ear trumpet.

"Well, Harry," said Dumbledore, "I am sure you understood the significance of what we just heard. At the tender age of sixteen Tom Riddle was doing all he could to find out how to make himself immortal."

"You think he succeeded then, sir?" asked Harry. "He made a Horcrux? And that's why he didn't die when he attacked me? He had a Horcrux hidden somewhere? A bit of his soul was safe?"

"A bit... or more," said Dumbledore. "You heard Voldemort, what he particularly wanted from Horace was an opinion on what would happen to the wizard who created more than one Horcrux, what would happen to the wizard so determined to evade death that he would be prepared to murder many times, rip his soul repeatedly, so as to store it in many, separately concealed Horcrux. No book would have given him that information. As far as I know — as far, I am sure, as Voldemort knew — no wizard had ever done more than tear his soul in two."

"So he's made himself impossible to kill by murdering other people?" said Harry.

Harry, armed with this information, this crucial memory I managed to procure we are closer to the secret of finishing Lord Voldemort than anyone has ever been before. You heard him, Harry: 'wouldn't it be better, make you stronger, to have your soul in more pieces . . . isn't seven the most powerfully magical number . . .' isn't seven the most powerfully magical number. Yes, I think the idea of a seven-part soul would greatly appeal to Lord Voldemort."

"He made seven Horcruxes?" said Harry, horror-struck, while several of the portraits on the walls made similar noises of shock mid outrage. "But they could be anywhere in the world — hidden — buried or invisible —"

"I am glad to see you appreciate the magnitude of the problem," said Dumbledore calmly. "But firstly, no, Harry, not seven Horcruxes: six. The seventh part of his soul, however maimed, that is Lord Voldemort, without that, he has no self at all. That seventh piece of soul will be the last that anybody wishing to kill Voldemort must attack — the piece that will live in his body once he is rejuvenated."

"But the six Horcruxes, then," said Harry, a little desperately, "how are we supposed to find them, and they could be anything?" said Harry. "They could be oh, in tin cans or, I dunno, empty potion bottles. . . ."

"But would Lord Voldemort use tin cans or old potion bottles to guard his own precious soul? You are forgetting what I have showed you. Lord Voldemort liked to collect trophies, and he preferred objects with a powerful magical history His pride, his belief in his own superiority, his determination to carve for himself a startling place in magical history; these things, suggest to me that Voldemort would have chosen his Horcrux with some care, favouring objects worthy of the honour."

"Do you know what they are, sir?" asked Harry.

"I can only guess," said Dumbledore. "For the reasons I have already given, I believe that Lord Voldemort would prefer objects that, in themselves, have a certain grandeur. I have therefore trawled back through Voldemort's past to see if I can find evidence that such artefacts have disappeared around him."

"Now things become murkier and stranger. If it was difficult to find evidence about the boy Riddle, it has been almost impossible to find anyone prepared to reminisce about the man Voldemort. In fact, I doubt whether there is a soul alive, apart from himself, who could give us a full account of his life since he left Hogwarts. However, I have two last memories that I would like to share with you." Dumbledore indicated the two little crystal bottles gleaming beside the Pensive. "I shall then be glad of your opinion as to whether the conclusions I have drawn from them seem likely."

The idea that Dumbledore valued his opinion this highly made Harry feel proud.

"I hope you are not tired of diving into other people's memories, for they are curious recollections, these two," he said. "This first one came from a very old house-elf by the name of Hokey. Before we see what Hokey witnessed, I must quickly recount how Lord Voldemort left Hogwarts.

"He reached the seventh year of his schooling with, as you might have expected, top grades in every examination he had taken. All around him, his classmates were deciding which jobs they were to pursue once they had left Hogwarts. Nearly everybody expected spectacular things from Tom Riddle, prefect, Head Boy, winner of the Award for Special Services to the School. I know that several teachers, Professor Slughorn amongst them, suggested that he join the Ministry of Magic, offered to set up appointments, put him in touch with useful contacts. He refused all offers. The next thing the staff knew, Voldemort was working at Borgin and Burkes."

"At Borgin and Burkes?" Harry repeated, stunned.

"At Borgin and Burkes," repeated Dumbledore calmly. "I think you will see what attractions the place held for him when we have entered Hokey's memory. But this was not Voldemort's first choice of job. Hardly anyone knew of it at the time — I was one of the few in whom the then headmaster confided — but Voldemort first approached Professor Dippet and asked whether he could remain at Hogwarts as a teacher."

"He wanted to stay here? Why?" asked Harry, more amazed still.

"I believe he had several reasons, though he confided none of them to Professor Dippet," said Dumbledore. "Firstly, and very importantly, Voldemort was, I believe, more attached to this school than he has ever been to a person. Hogwarts was where he had been happiest; the first and only place he had felt at home."

Harry felt slightly uncomfortable at these words, for this was exactly how he felt about Hogwarts too.

"Secondly, the castle is a stronghold of ancient magic. Undoubtedly Voldemort had penetrated many more of its secrets than most of the students who pass through the place, but he may have felt that there were still mysteries to unravel, stores of magic to tap into."

"And thirdly, as a teacher, he would have had great power and influence over young witches and wizards. Perhaps he had gained the idea from Professor Slughorn, the teacher with whom he was on best terms, who had demonstrated how influential a role a teacher can play. I do not imagine for an instant that Voldemort envisaged spending the rest of his life at Hogwarts, but I do think that he saw it as a useful recruiting ground, and a place where he might begin to build himself an army."

"But he didn't get the job, sir?"

"No, he did not. Professor Dippet told him that he was too young at eighteen, but invited him to reapply in a few years, if he still wished to teach."

"How did you feel about that, sir?" asked Harry.

"Deeply uneasy," said Dumbledore. "I had advised Armando against the appointment — I did not give the reasons I have given you, for Professor Dippet was very fond of Voldemort and convinced of his honesty. But I did not want Lord Voldemort back at this school, and especially not in a position of power."

"Which job did he want, sir? What subject did he want to teach?"

"Defence against the Dark Arts. It was being taught at the time by an old Professor by the name of Galatea Merrythought, who had been at Hogwarts for nearly fifty years."

"So Voldemort went off to Borgin and Burkes, and all the staff who had admired him said what a waste it was, a brilliant young wizard like that, working in a shop. However, Voldemort was no mere assistant. Polite and handsome and clever, he was soon given particular jobs of the type that only exist in a place like Borgin and Burkes, which specializes, as you know, Harry, in objects with unusual and powerful properties. Voldemort was sent to persuade people to part with their treasures for sale by the partners, and he was, by all accounts, unusually gifted at doing this."

"I'll bet he was," said Harry, unable to contain himself.

"Well, quite," said Dumbledore, with a faint smile. "And now it is time to hear from Hokey the house-elf, who worked for a very old, very rich witch by the name of Hepzibah Smith."

Dumbledore tapped a bottle with his wand, the cork flew out, and he tipped the swirling memory into the Pensive, saying as he did so, "After you, Harry."

Harry got to his feet and bent once more over the rippling silver contents of the stone basin until his face touched them. He tumbled through dark nothingness and landed in a sitting room in front of an immensely fat old lady wearing an elaborate ginger wig and a brilliant pink set of robes that flowed all around her, giving her the look of a melting iced cake. She was looking into a small jewelled mirror and dabbing rouge onto her already scarlet cheeks with a large powder puff, while the tiniest and oldest and first house-elf Harry had seen laced her fleshy feet into tight satin slippers.

"Hurry up, Hokey!" said Hepzibah imperiously. "He said he'd come at four, it's only a couple of minutes to and he's never been late yet!"

She tucked away her powder puff as the house-elf straightened up. The top of the elf's head barely reached the seat of Hepzibah's chair, and her papery skin hung off her frame just like the crisp linen sheet she wore draped like a toga.

"How do I look?" said Hepzibah, turning her head to admire the various angles of her face in the mirror.

"Lovely, madam," squeaked Hokey.

Harry could only assume that it was down in Hokey's contract that she must lie through her teeth when asked this question, because Hepzibah Smith looked a long way from lovely in his opinion.

A tinkling doorbell rang and both mistress and elf jumped.

"Quick, quick, he's here, Hokey!" cried Hepzibah and the elf scurried out of the room, which was so crammed with objects that it was difficult to see how anybody could navigate their way across it without knocking over at least a dozen things: There were cabinets full of little lacquered boxes, cases full of gold-embossed books, shelves of orbs and celestial globes, and many flourishing potted plants in brass containers. In fact, the room looked like a cross between a magical antique shop and a conservatory.

The house-elf returned within minutes, followed by a tall young man Harry had no difficulty whatsoever in recognizing as Voldemort. He was plainly dressed in a black suit; his hair was a little longer than it had been at school and his cheeks were hollowed, but all of this suited him; he looked more handsome than ever. He picked his way through the cramped room with an air that showed he had visited many times before and bowed low over Hepzibah's fat little hand, brushing it with his lips.

"I brought you flowers," he said quietly, producing a bunch of roses from nowhere.

"You naughty boy, you shouldn't have!" squealed old Hepzibah, though Harry noticed that she had an empty vase standing ready on the nearest little table. "You do spoil this old lady, Tom. ... Sit down, sit down. . . . Where's Hokey? Ah ..."

The house-elf had come dashing back into the room carrying a tray of little cakes, which she set at her mistress's elbow.

"Help yourself, Tom," said Hepzibah, "I know how you love my cakes. Now, how are you? You look pale. They overwork you at that shop, I've said it a hundred times. ..."

Voldemort smiled mechanically and Hepzibah simpered.

"Well, what's your excuse for visiting this time?" she asked, batting her lashes.

"Mr. Burke would like to make an improved offer for the goblin-made armour," said Voldemort. "Five hundred Galleons, he feels it is a more than fair —"

"Now, now, not so fast, or I'll think you're only here for my trinkets!" pouted Hepzibah.

"I am ordered here because of them," said Voldemort quietly. "I am only a poor assistant, madam, who must do as he is told. Mr. Burke wishes me to inquire —"

"Oh, Mr. Burke, phooey!" said Hepzibah, waving a little hand. "I've something to show you that I've never shown Mr. Burke! Can you keep a secret, Tom? Will you promise you won't tell Mr. Burke I've got it? He'd never let me rest if he knew I'd shown it to you, and I'm not selling, not to Burke, not to anyone! But you, Tom, you'll appreciate it for its history, not how many Galleons you can get for it."

"I'd be glad to see anything Miss Hepzibah shows me," said Voldemort quietly, and Hepzibah gave another girlish giggle.

"I had Hokey bring it out for me . . . Hokey, where are you? I want to show Mr. Riddle our finest treasure. ... In fact, bring both, while you're at it. ..."

"Here, madam," squeaked the house-elf, and Harry saw two leather boxes, one on top of the other, moving across the room as if of their own volition, though he knew the tiny elf was holding them over her head as she wended her way between tables, pouffes, and footstools.

"Now," said Hepzibah happily, taking the boxes from the elf, laying them in her lap, and preparing to open the topmost one, "I think you'll like this, Tom. . . . Oh, if my family knew I was showing you. . . . They can't wait to get their hands on this!"

She opened the lid. Harry edged forward a little to get a better view and saw what looked like a small golden cup with two finely wrought handles.

"I wonder whether you know what it is, Tom. Pick it up, have a good look!" whispered Hepzibah, and Voldemort stretched out a long-fingered hand and lifted the cup by one handle out of its snug silken wrappings. Harry thought he saw a red gleam in his dark eyes. His greedy expression was curiously mirrored on Hepzibah's face, except that her tiny eyes were fixed upon Voldemort's handsome features.

"A badger," murmured Voldemort, examining the engraving upon the cup. "Then this was . . . ?"

"Helga Hufflepuff's, as you very well know, you clever boy!" said Hepzibah, leaning forward with a loud creaking of corsets and actually pinching his hollow cheek. "Didn't I tell you I was distantly descended? This has been handed down in the family for years and years. Lovely, isn't it? And all sorts of powers it's supposed to possess too, but I haven't tested them thoroughly, I just keep it nice and safe in here. . . ."

She hooked the cup back off Voldemort's long forefinger and restored it gently to its box, too intent upon settling it carefully back into position to notice the shadow that crossed Voldemort's face as the cup was taken away.

"Now then," said Hepzibah happily, "where's Hokey? Oh yes, there you are — take that away now, Hokey."

The elf obediently took the boxed cup, and Hepzibah turned her attention to the much flatter box in her lap.

"I think you'll like this even more, Tom," she whispered. "Lean in a little, dear boy, so you can see. . . . Of course, Burke knows I've got this one, I bought it from him, and I daresay he'd love to get it back when I'm gone. ..."

She slid back the fine filigree clasp and flipped open the box. There upon the smooth crimson velvet lay a heavy golden locket.

Voldemort reached out his hand, without invitation this time, and held it up to the light, staring at it.

"Slytherin's mark," he said quietly, as the light played upon an ornate, serpentine S.

"That's right!" said Hepzibah, delighted, apparently, at the sight of Voldemort gazing at her locket, transfixed. "I had to pay an arm and a leg for it, but I couldn't let it pass, not a real treasure like that, had to have it for my collection. Burke bought it, apparently, from a ragged-looking woman who seemed to have stolen it, but had no idea of its true value —"

There was no mistaking it this time: Voldemort's eyes flashed scarlet at the words, and Harry saw his knuckles whiten on the locket's chain.

"I daresay Burke paid her a pittance but there you are. . . . Pretty, isn't it? And again, all kinds of powers attributed to it, though I just keep it nice and safe. . . ."

She reached out to take the locket back. For a moment, Harry thought Voldemort was not going to let go of it, but then it had slid through his fingers and was back in its red velvet cushion.

"So there you are, Tom, dear, and I hope you enjoyed that!"

She looked him full in the face and for the first time, Harry saw her foolish smile falter.

"Are you all right, dear?"

"Oh yes," said Voldemort quietly. "Yes, I'm very well. ..."

"I thought — but a trick of the light, I suppose —" said Hepzibah, looking unnerved, and Harry guessed that she too had seen the momentary red gleam in Voldemort's eyes. "Here, Hokey, take these away and lock them up again. ... The usual enchantments..."

"Time to leave, Harry," said Dumbledore quietly, and as the in tie elf bobbed away bearing the boxes, Dumbledore grasped Harry once again above the elbow and together they rose up through oblivion and back to Dumbledore's office.

"Hepzibah Smith died two days after that little scene," said Dumbledore, resuming his seat and indicating that Harry should do the same. "Hokey the house-elf was convicted by the Ministry of poisoning her mistress's evening cocoa by accident."

"No way!" said Harry angrily.

"I see we are of one mind," said Dumbledore. "Certainly, there are many similarities between this death and that of the Riddles. In both cases, somebody else took the blame, someone who had a clear memory of having caused the death"

"Hokey confessed?"

"She remembered putting something in her mistress's cocoa that turned out not to be sugar, but a lethal and little-known poison, said Dumbledore. "It was concluded that she had not meant to do it, but being old and confused —"

"Voldemort modified her memory, just like he did with Morfin!"

Yes, that is my conclusion too," said Dumbledore. "And, just as with Morfin, the Ministry was predisposed to suspect Hokey —"

"Because she was a house-elf," said Harry.

"Precisely," said Dumbledore. "She was old, she admitted to having tampered with the drink, and nobody at the Ministry bothered to inquire further. As in the case of Morfin, by the time I traced her and managed to extract this memory, her life was almost over — but her memory, of course, proves nothing except that Voldemort knew of the existence of the cup and the locket."

"By the time Hokey was convicted, Hepzibah's family had realized that two of her greatest treasures were missing. It took them a while to be sure of this, for she had many hiding places, having always guarded her collection most jealously. But before they were sure beyond doubt that the cup and the locket were both gone, the assistant who had worked at Borgin and Burkes, the young man who had visited Hepzibah so regularly and charmed her so well, had resigned his post and vanished. His superiors had no idea where he had gone; they were as surprised as anyone at his disappearance. And that was the last that was seen or heard of Tom Riddle for a very long time.

"The locket and Hufflepuff's cup became Horcruxes didn't they?" Asked Harry.

"Yes," said Dumbledore, smiling, "I would be prepared to bet — perhaps not my hand — but a couple of fingers that they became Horcruxes."

"I will hazard a guess that having secured objects from Hufflepuff and Slytherin, he set out to track down objects owned by Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. Four objects from the four founders would, I am sure, have exerted a powerful pull over Voldemort's imagination. I cannot answer for whether he ever managed to find anything."

"Do you think that's why he really wanted to come back to Hogwarts, sir?" said Harry. "To try and find something from one of the other founders?"

"My thoughts precisely," said Dumbledore. "But unfortunately, that does not advance us much further, for he was turned away, or so I believe, without the chance to search the school. I am forced to conclude that he never fulfilled his ambition of collecting four founders' objects. He definitely had two — he may have found three — that is the best we can do for now."

"Now," said Dumbledore, "if you don't mind, Harry, I want to pause once more to draw your attention to certain points of our story. Voldemort had committed another murder; whether it was his first since he killed the Riddles, I do not know, but I think it was. This time, as you will have seen, he killed not for revenge, but for gain. He wanted the two fabulous trophies that poor, besotted, old woman showed him. Just as he had once robbed the other children at his orphanage, just as he had stolen his Uncle Morfin's ring, so he ran off now with Hepzibah's cup and locket."

"And now for the very last recollection I have to show you, Ten years separates Hokey's memory and this one, ten years during which we can only guess at what Lord Voldemort was doing. . . ." Harry got to his feet once more as Dumbledore emptied the last memory into the Pensive.

"Whose memory is it?" he asked.

"Mine," said Dumbledore.

And Harry dived after Dumbledore through the shifting silver mass, landing in the very office he had just left. There was Fawkes slumbering happily on his perch, and there behind the desk was Dumbledore, who looked very similar to the Dumbledore standing beside Harry, though his face was, perhaps, a little less lined. The one difference between the present-day office and this one was that it was snowing in the past; bluish flecks were drifting past the window in the dark and building up on the outside ledge.

The younger Dumbledore seemed to be waiting for something, and sure enough, moments after their arrival, there was a knock on the door and he said, "Enter."

Harry let out a hastily stifled gasp. Voldemort had entered the room, he was no longer handsome Tom Riddle. It was as though his features had been burned and blurred; they were waxy and oddly distorted, and the whites of the eyes now had a permanently bloody look, he was wearing a long black cloak, and his face was as pale as the snow glistening on his shoulders.

The Dumbledore behind the desk showed no sign of surprise. Evidently this visit had been made by appointment.

"Good evening, Tom," said Dumbledore easily. "Won't you sit down?"

"Thank you," said Voldemort, and he took the seat to which Dumbledore had gestured — the very seat, by the looks of it, that Harry had just vacated in the present. "I heard that you had become headmaster," he said, and his voice was slightly higher and colder than it had been. "A worthy choice."

"I am glad you approve," said Dumbledore, smiling. "May I offer you a drink?"

"That would be welcome," said Voldemort. "I have come a long way."

Dumbledore stood and swept over to the cabinet where he now kept the Pensive, but which then was full of bottles. Having handed Voldemort a goblet of wine and poured one for himself, he returned to the seat behind his desk. . "So, Tom ... to what do I owe the pleasure?"

Voldemort did not answer at once, but merely sipped his wine. "They do not call me 'Tom' anymore," he said. "These days, 1 am known as —"

"I know what you are known as," said Dumbledore, smiling, pleasantly. "But to me, I'm afraid, you will always be Tom Riddle. It is one of the irritating things about old teachers. I am afraid that they never quite forget their charges' youthful beginnings."

He raised his glass as though toasting Voldemort, whose face remained expressionless. Nevertheless, Harry felt the atmosphere in the room change subtly: Dumbledore's refusal to use Voldemort's chosen name was a refusal to allow Voldemort to dictate the terms of the meeting, and Harry could tell that Voldemort took it as such.

"I am surprised you have remained here so long," said Voldemort after a short pause. "I always wondered why a wizard such as yourself never wished to leave school."

"Well," said Dumbledore, still smiling, "to a wizard such as myself, there can be nothing more important than passing on ancient skills, helping hone young minds. If I remember correctly, you once saw the attraction of teaching too."

"I see it still," said Voldemort. "I merely wondered why you — who are so often asked for advice by the Ministry, and who have twice, I think, been offered the post of Minister —"

"Three times at the last count, actually," said Dumbledore. "But the Ministry never attracted me as a career. Again, something we have in common, I think."

Voldemort inclined his head, unsmiling, and took another sip of wine. Dumbledore did not break the silence that stretched between them now, but waited, with a look of pleasant expectancy, for Voldemort to talk first.

"I have returned," he said, after a little while, "later, perhaps, than Professor Dippet expected . . . but I have returned, nevertheless, to request again what he once told me I was too young to have. I have come to you to ask that you permit me to return to this castle, to teach. I think you must know that I have seen and done much since I left this place. I could show and tell your student's things they can gain from no other wizard."

Dumbledore considered Voldemort over the top of his own goblet for a while before speaking.

"Yes, I certainly do know that you have seen and done much since leaving us," he said quietly. "Rumours of your doings have reached your old school, Tom. I should be sorry to believe half of them."

Voldemort's expression remained impassive as he said, "Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, and spite spawns lies. You must know this, Dumbledore."

"You call it 'greatness,' what you have been doing, do you?" asked Dumbledore delicately.

"Certainly," said Voldemort, and his eyes seemed to burn red. "I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed —"

"Of some kinds of magic," Dumbledore corrected him quietly. "Of some. Of others, you remain . . . forgive me . . . woefully ignorant."

For the first time, Voldemort smiled. It was a taut leer, an evil thing, more threatening than a look of rage.

"The old argument," he said softly. "But nothing I have seen in the world has supported your famous pronouncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic, Dumbledore."

"Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places," suggested Dumbledore.

"Well, then, what better place to start my fresh researches than here, at Hogwarts?" said Voldemort. "Will you let me return? Will you let me share my knowledge with your students? I place myself and my talents at your disposal. I am yours to command."

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "And what will become of those whom you command? What will happen to those who call themselves — or so rumour has it — the Death Eaters?"

Harry could tell that Voldemort had not expected Dumbledore to know this name; he saw Voldemort's eyes flash red again and the slit-like nostrils flare.

"My friends," he said, after a moment's pause, "will carry on without me, I am sure."

"I am glad to hear that you consider them friends," said Dumbledore. "I was under the impression that they are more in the order of servants."

"You are mistaken," said Voldemort.

"Then if I were to go to the Hog's Head tonight, I would not find a group of them — Nott, Rosier, Macnair, Dolohov — awaiting your return? Devoted friends indeed, to travel this far with you on a snowy night, merely to wish you luck as you attempted to secure a teaching post."

There could be no doubt that Dumbledore's detailed knowledge of those with whom he was traveling was even less welcome to Voldemort; however, he rallied almost at once.

"You are omniscient as ever, Dumbledore."

"Oh no, merely friendly with the local barmen," said Dumbledore lightly. "Now, Tom . . ."

Dumbledore set down his empty glass and drew himself up in his seat, the tips of his fingers together in a very characteristic gesture.

"Let us speak openly. Why have you come here tonight, surrounded by henchmen, to request a job we both know you do not want?"

Voldemort looked coldly surprised. "A job I do not want? On the contrary, Dumbledore, I want it very much."

"Oh, you want to come back to Hogwarts, but you do not want to teach any more than you wanted to when you were eighteen. What is it you're after, Tom? Why not try an open request for once?"

Voldemort sneered. "If you do not want to give me a job —"

"Of course I don't," said Dumbledore. "And I don't think for a moment you expected me to. Nevertheless, you came here, you asked, you must have had a purpose."

Voldemort stood up. He looked less like Tom Riddle than ever, his features thick with rage. "This is your final word?"

"It is," said Dumbledore, also standing.

"Then we have nothing more to say to each other."

"No, nothing," said Dumbledore, and a great sadness filled his face. "The time is long gone when I could frighten you with a burning wardrobe and force you to make repayment for your crimes. But I wish I could, Tom. ... I wish I could. . . ."

For a second, Harry was on the verge of shouting a pointless warning: He was sure that Voldemort's hand had twitched toward his pocket and his wand; but then the moment had passed, Voldemort had turned away, the door was closing, and he was gone.

Harry felt Dumbledore's hand close over his arm again and moments later, they were standing together on almost the same spot that Voldemort had just been standing.

"So," said Harry. "There's Marvolo Gaunt's Ring, Salazar Slytherin's Locket, Helga Hufflepuff's Cup, and perhaps something of Gryffindor's and Ravenclaw's, that leaves a sixth Horcrux," said Harry, counting on his fingers.

"That is if he found something of both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw." Said Dumbledore as they both took a seat.

"True, but just say that he did, do you have any ideas what the sixth could be?" Harry asked, he didn't want to think about having to find out what three more Horcruxes were instead of just one.

"I think I know what the sixth Horcrux is. I wonder what you will say when I confess that I have been curious for a while about the behaviour of his snake, Nagini?'

"A snake?" said Harry, startled. "You can use animals as Horcruxes?"

"Well, it is inadvisable to do so," said Dumbledore, "because to confide a part of your soul to something that can think and move for itself is obviously a very risky business."

"I have been looking for a very long time. I think . . . perhaps ... I may be close to finding one. There are hopeful signs."

"And if you do," said Harry quickly, "can I come with you and help get rid of it?"

Dumbledore looked at Harry very intently for a moment before saying, "Yes, I think so."

"I can?" said Harry, thoroughly taken aback

"Oh yes," said Dumbledore, smiling slightly. "I think you have earned that right."

Harry felt his heart lift at the trust the Headmaster was showing him.

The headmasters and head-mistresses around the walls seemed less impressed by Dumbledore's decision; Harry saw a few of them shaking their heads.

"Does Voldemort know when a Horcrux is destroyed, sir? Can he feel it?" Harry asked, ignoring the portraits.

"A very interesting question, Harry. I believe not. I believe that Voldemort is now so immersed in evil, and these crucial parts of himself have been detached for so long, he does not feel as we do. Perhaps, at the point of death, he might be aware of his loss . . .

Harry sat in thought for a moment, then asked, "So if all of his Horcruxes are destroyed, Voldemort could be killed?"

"Yes, I think so," said Dumbledore. "Without his Horcruxes, Voldemort will be a mortal man with a maimed and diminished soul. Never forget, though, that while his soul may be damaged beyond repair, his brain and his magical powers remain intact. It will take uncommon skill and power to kill a wizard like Voldemort even without his Horcruxes."

"But I haven't got uncommon skill and power," said Harry, before he could stop himself.

"Not yet you haven't but I believe that with the right training and encouragement, you could match and possibly outclass Voldemort in both skill and power." Dumbledore said in a serious tone yet with a confident smile upon his aged face.

"You do?"

"I do." There was silence for a few moments before Dumbledore broke it.

"You already have a power that Voldemort has never had. You can love."

"I can love!" Harry asked confused.

"Yes, Harry, you can love," said Dumbledore. "Which, given everything that has happened to you, is a great and remarkable thing. You are still too young to understand how unusual you are, Harry."

"So, when the prophecy says that I'll have 'power the Dark Lord knows not,' it just means — love?" asked Harry, feeling a little let down.

"Yes — just love," said Dumbledore. "But Harry, never forget that what the prophecy says is only significant because Voldemort made it so. Voldemort singled you out as the person who would be most dangerous to him — and in doing so, he made you the person who would be most dangerous to him!"

"So because of my ability to love, I can defeat Voldemort."

"Yes, Voldemort has never understood love and thus he will never understand you."

"Too defeat your enemy you must first understand your enemy." Harry said repeating Dumbledore's words, he finally fully understood why they had gone so far back into Voldemort's past. To defeat him, Harry must first understand him.

"Exactly." Smiled Dumbledore. ""You see, the prophecy does not mean you have to do anything! But the prophecy caused Lord Voldemort to mark you as his equal. ... In other words, you are free to choose your way, quite free to turn your back on the prophecy! But Voldemort continues to set store by the prophecy. He will continue to hunt you . . . which makes it certain, really, that…"

"That one of us is going to end up killing the other," said Harry.


But he understood what Dumbledore was trying to tell him. It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew — "and so do I," thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, "and so did my parents." that there was all the difference in the world.

"I will always oppose Voldemort on my own two feet and with my head held high." Harry said out loud.

"And I will always stand shoulder to shoulder with you my boy." Said a beaming Dumbledore.

End of Chapter

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