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Summary: Voldemort thought it was a triumph, but was it really his fall? Dumbledore broods alone in his office after the Department of Mysteries.

Triumph and Fall

I can almost see you gloating, Tom.

I can see your thin lips, so cold and so cruel, twisting in a smirk of triumph and of contempt as you stand in a dark hole and think about my 'weakness'. I know what you're thinking about. We faced each other earlier tonight, standing in the Department of Mysteries with Harry between us.

The blood of Sirius was fresh in the air, and I was angry. I was angry for what you'd made Bellatrix do to him. I was furious with you for what you've done to Harry. And I was angry with myself, because I bear blame for just about all of it as well. I was so angry tonight, Tom, that I could have killed you. I could have lifted my wand, pointed it at you and whispered those terrible, final words... Avada Kedavra... You saw murder in my eyes and I saw fear in yours. You knew I could have done it, removed you in the blink of an eye. You thought I would do it.

But I didn't.

You're alive now because I didn't kill you.

I saw the fear turn to triumph, to contemptuous satisfaction and victory as my lips faltered over the words and I offered you a foolish explanation for why I wouldn't do it. You think I'm weak now, an old fool. That I may be... oh, Tom, but you're a fool too. Do you really think you won a victory tonight?

No, I won't kill you. I never will. You can stand in your dark hole and smile to yourself over that. Gloat, Tom. You're absolutely right if you believe I will never lift my wand and take your life with it. But you don't seem to understand why I won't. You've ripped so much away from me, hurt me and mine so often that if any man ever had incentive to peel your flesh from you bit by bit, that man would have to be me. Harry is the only other human on this earth who has had to endure as much at your hands... and Frank, Alice and Neville come close in second. By Merlin, I swear that if wasn't for Harry, I would kill you.

Ah... that confuses you, doesn't it? 'If it wasn't for Harry'... what a strange thing to say. Have you ever wondered, Tom, why you didn't die that fateful night the Avada Kedavra curse rebounded upon you? You were nearly destroyed, but you didn't die, did you? And why not? By rights, you should have. Have you ever questioned that, my clever Slytherin, my indestructible Dark Lord? Have you ever wondered where your immortality that night came from?

I'll tell you if you like. It was because Harry didn't die.

Imagine a single seed, a single phoenix. Halve the seed and put each half into two different bodies. Take two feathers from the phoenix and fuse them into two different wands. Those bodies, those seeds, are yours and Harry's. Oh, it is your choices that determine who you are, but what you are is essentially the same. You are one. Do you see now? Harry was protected from your curse that night, left with only a mark. The curse rebounded on you... and it should have killed you, but if it had, Harry would also have died. And Harry could not die because he was already protected. Thus, nor could you die. You were only destroyed, almost dead but not quite.

Do you understand now? It wasn't weakness that saved your life from my wand tonight, Tom. It was the fact that I care about Harry too much. Call that weakness if you will.

Let the penny drop: if I had killed you tonight, Harry would have died as well.

Your triumph, Tom, is your fall.

Yes, it's true. Harry Potter and Tom Riddle are inextricably intertwined. Your minds are connected, as you know very well, because you've used that to your own advantage in the cruellest possible way. But did you know that your very lives are intertwined? If you die, so does Harry. He doesn't know this, and I cannot possibly find the heart to tell him. In the final conflict, where the soldiers of good and the minions of evil come to clash swords, you and Harry will face each other. He will kill you... or you will kill him. You know what that means now, don't you, Tom? If you kill him... you die. The entire seed must dissolve, the single phoenix must burn.

And you thought you had achieved a victory tonight, believing that Albus Dumbledore, the one man you fear, will never kill you. You're right. I never will. And as much as I care about Harry, I can never warn him against what he will do. He has no future beyond this battle and he would sooner die than let you live. He is the true measure of a Gryffindor, a hero far beyond what the magical world believes of him. But he will never see the light. Nor will you. One of you will kill the other, and the one who kills will also die. You can hide in your lair and gloat now, Tom. You can prepare for your murder of Harry Potter. Do it.

Because when you do, you will destroy yourself as well. You will taste your victory, but it will never arrive. Your triumph will be your fall.

THE END.

A/N: A short, one-shot fic dealing with my theory on a few questions... please review and let me know what you think of this!