Death. It will find me.

Soon, very soon now.

I've found the antidote L. I have planned it out all. My departure. I am ready to leave this life. It has been messy. Riddled with mistakes. Riddle was one. There was even a time when I resurrected Voldemort. I...don't know if I can explain what I was thinking. My mind was not all there. My twenties were a confusing time.

I couldn't imagine having to spend an entire eternity with Riddle. I would rather kill myself. In fact, I tried. I've told you of all my failed attempts. I even tried hanging myself once. It's been as difficult to kill myself as it was to kill the Creature. Suicide, I've learned, won't work on ones such as us. It wouldn't let me escape Voldemort.

Life with Riddle was pure misery. Beneath the charming façade he was empty, like an echo of a human. I remember fighting with him for years, so many years, years and years, all through my thirties and forties. He was horrible, abusive and freakish. Or was that me?

Now that I think of it...It was me. I was the wicked one I remember screaming and snarling I remember clawing at his perfect face until I drew blood. He was wicked too I remember every instance he threw me across the floor. I remember him trying to snap my wrist bones (It did not work). I remember trying to smother him in his sleep. I remember him waking up cackling, reveling in our episodes of violent insanity.

I remember when he put me in a cage.

I've been in so many cages through my life L. Real and self-made, muggle and magic. But I swear this one will be my last.

These final years...I have rested. Getting to see H again is a joy I didn't expect to have. We are two worlds apart, but I'm glad to know that he is happy and that he is loved by his adoptive family. I have refrained from asking about his muggle parents.

I know it can't matter.

I should leave now.

I have the antidote.

I wish I knew about it then. The problem, then, was that Riddle couldn't kill me. This was our conundrum. I granted him life, but he could not give me death. For such a powerful entity, he was...a disappointing murderer. He used to say: 'but if you die, my little cockroach, then who shall keep me company?' like there was something outside a common enemy that bound us like we were lovers when we were not we were both too empty for love. To be united by hatred is a fragile alliance at best. And hate… that was all I knew. I hated the Creature. I hated the Dark Lord. I hated myself, this body, this hunger...

I hated what I did to A.

I...cannot justify what happened during that final battle in 2031. But I've had to live with it for fifty years. I know that atonement is not possible. I cannot go back to that day, those final moments. You asked me once... Could I have saved him? I have replayed his death in my head many times. I can still picture all the blood. I remember his flinching fingers extending me the Stone, and he in his dying breaths pleading with me to take it. Take it, and finish the fight. I remember the hunger taking precedence over all else.

Yes...yes...I could have saved him.

I made the choice not to.

R

X

X

X

September 29th, 2031.

It was the date of Albus' final memory in the pensieve.

The day he died.

It was coming up next.

I opened up the horcrux-diary and stared at a blank page, my eyes numb from a long day of strenuous research, frustration thrumming inside my veins. I clicked my pen, tried again.

Hello?

Mr. Potter?

I sighed. Wrong. Too formal.

Albus...

Al...

Much better, but still no response. I kept trying.

Are you there?

Please

I...

I'm so overwhelmed

I don't...

Tell me what I'm supposed to do...

Help me help you...

Still no response.

X

X

X

In times of duress there was one person in my life I knew I could always turn to.

I pressed my cellphone to my ear. Three long beeps passed. I waited, listening for the click.

"Hello?" answered the low voice of my father.

"Sorry," I greeted. "I know it's late. Just felt..alone."

"It's alright."

"How's Mum?"

"On bed arrest," Dad said. He sounded strange. His voice was distant, like he was speaking through a tin tube. "We were out...she had a bit of a heat stroke…Too much sun."

"Too much sun," I repeated. I knew how to read my old man. He was lying. 'Too much sun' wasn't even remotely believable.

"Can I speak to her for a sec?"

The phone was passed and then her slow, syrupy-with-sleep voice filled my ear: "Hi sweetheart." She sounded far away, distant like Dad. What was up with the connection today?

"Heatstroke? Better up your fluids, lady," I tried to joke. "Hope you feel better soon Mum...I bet Dad's doting on you."

She gave a faint little laugh. "He's always doting..." she said, quietly. "Couldn't leave me alone if he tried."

"Can you pass the phone back to Dad now?"

The phone was passed, and it was quiet for a moment. But I knew Dad was on the other end, listening to my too-fast breathing cadence. I could nearly hear the wheels in his head churning.

Then, he said: "Were you crying earlier? Before you called?"

"No," I piped, much too defensively

"I can hear it in your voice," came his assertion and I gave a disbelieving scoff, though he was right. I had been crying. "Tell me what's happened. Are you hurt? Should I come get you?"

"No." My face grew warm, embarrassed. I was a twenty-six year old man and my father still wanted to 'come get me' like I was sixteen and stranded at prom.

"I've just been stressed..." I said, rubbing a bleary eye. "That's why I called. I can't sleep. My heart won't stop pounding in my chest."

My dad went quiet. Deliberating.

"Then maybe you should take a break. From this work you're doing."

"I can't..." I grumbled. "No time."

"Listen to me. I'm telling you to make time—"

"No, Dad. I can't," I snapped. "I've got to focus. I've got to finish what I've started. I'm nearly at the end. I've just got to...I owe it to...well, to Mr. Potter."

A pause.

"No, you don't," Dad offered, quietly. "You don't owe some storybook wizard anything."

"He's not a storybook wizard, he was real, he did things, he—"

"I don't care," Dad cut in. "You know what I care about? You. You're my priority...Nothing is worth your wellbeing to me."

I felt tears sting my eyes.

"Hey Dad?"

"Yes?"

"Thanks," I said. "Thanks for...you know."

"Don't thank me. It's my job."

'Job'. An adult word, for the adult man that was my dad. Who took care of me and Mum and without ever needing a thank you made sure all was flowing smoothly in our little world.

"Well, tell Mum I love her and that I hope she feels better soon."

"I will."

"And Dad?"

"Hm."

"How are you doing? You sound...odd."

"I'm…okay," he said. His voice indicated anything but. It was growing fainter and fainter, like he was being pulled into the distance.

"What's wrong? Talk to me, please," I said.

"Nothing," came his terse—tight—assurance. "Nothing's wrong. Get some sleep. We'll call you tomorrow. Everything's perfectly—"

The line cut off. Fell eerily silent.

My heart plopped to the floor.

Hastily, with quivering fingers, I punched the number in again. My breath shaky, I said: "Hello?" No response. "Dad, bloody answer!" No busy tone. The voicemail was gone too.

Then I tried Mum's number.

Also gone.

What had just happened?

Had my parents just... vanished?