Harry's scar twinged one last time when the steel ring went on his pinky finger, holding the tiny green emerald in contact with his skin. Then his scar subsided, and did not hurt again.

Harry took another deep breath, still inhaling through his mouth even though this, rather than keeping from him the smell of the blood in the air, was just adding taste to the mix. He said "Lumos," and looked around the graveyard.

Black robes and severed skull masks, surrounded by pools of blood -

Harry found he had increasing problems breathing.

Harry knew that if he truly stopped to think about what he'd just done...

Thirty-six human beings.

(A catch in the breath, a double vision...)

When trapped in Azkaban, he'd considered solving his problems by removing a human being, one whose memories were inconvenient to him. There was a part of him that thought that was an okay way to solve problems.

There was a part of him, a remnant, which thought that that was totally not what he was about.

(A network of horcruxes, confused, searched for the necessary living focal point, to complete the circuit... and found one that was almost a perfect match.)

And only one of those two parts could walk away from having killed thirty-six people at the age of eleven with its sanity intact.

(The circuit closed.)

A boy stood under the night sky, and found a feeling of... something that wasn't gratitude, but resembled it in a way, towards the late Professor Quirrel.

The boy's lips formed words.

"I cannot possibly get anything done in life if I am not willing to defeat my enemies."

"I have defeated some of my enemies today."

"I am a good boy."

Just like last time, it made him feel better.


Some time later...

"Hello, Miss Granger. Are you ready to resume your service to House Potter?"