"The boy is on the move, my Lord," said Snape. " I am sure you are already aware of this."
Voldemort stared at his servant and nodded silently. " And yet I remain oblivious to what exactly he is up to."
"He wants to kill you," rasped Bellatrix suddenly. "Not that he will, my Lord," she schreeched. "However that is his plan."
Voldemort laughed. "It will take more than a seventeen year old child to kill me!" he said. "I have come far beyond the trials and tribulations of death. I have overcome them, have I not?"
"You have my Lord," cried Bellatrix. "Oh but you have!" She threw herself onto the floor. Voldemort looked down on her with a mixture of pleasure and revulsion etched on his sinister face.
Snape looked bored. "Despite Bellatrix's award winning acting there , my Lord, it is unwise to immediately assume that Potter is oblivious to your plans."
Voldemort looked affronted. "There is no way he could..."
Voldemort paused and pointed his wand at the door. A jet of red light erupted from it's end and the door split open leaving a pale blonde haired young man shivering on the step.
"NO!" Snape yelled and Voldemort paused. Malfoy screamed.
"My Lord," cried Snape. "I brought the boy."
Voldemort smiled slightly. His red eyes gleamed dangerously. "He failed his task, Severus."
"He helped me, my Lord. He helped escape!"
Voldemort listened. "You have entrusted a child to help you, Severus. That is I admit rather unlike you."
"My Nephew is only too pleased to serve you, my Lord," cried Bellatrix as she fell to her knees. "Only ever too pleased."
Voldemort ignored her. "How can I be confident if he cannot even carry out a simple task?"
"The boy has me, your Lord. He is new to this but loyal. You cannot doubt his sincerity towards your cause."
Snape did not flinch as Voldemort's eyes penetrated his.
"Clearing your mind, Severus? Oh and how you do it so well. I never know what exactly you are thinking up there. Never quite sure. I could always use the cruciatus curse. Then even you would spill your most darkest secrets."
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Does the Dark Lord not trust me? Does he question my loyalty? Am I not faithful?"
Voldemort waved his hand. "No, no. I trust you, Severus. You are my most loyal follower. You are my connection to the boy. My knowledge, my source. I have complete faith in you, Severus."
Snape bowed. "The Malfoy boy is unlike his Father. He can withstand much more. He is not cowardly," lied Snape.
Voldemort's eyes gleamed. "He failed to kill, Dumbledore."
Snape nodded. "He was not anywhere near the power of Dumbledore. Even when wandless, Dumbledore was surprisingly powerful. I knew the the boy was nervous. I knew I was to carry it out."
Draco watched silently in the corner. Bellatrix kept throwing him filthy looks. "Bow," she hissed. Draco ignored her. Any sign of movement seemed unwise.
Meanwhile back in Spinners End
Hermione opened her eyes wearily and looked around her. Ron was snoring heavily in the corner. She smiled to herself. "Well at least it will scare any rodents away." She fluffed up her pillow just about to close her eyes again when she heard a tiny sigh. Sitting up straight, she glimpsed Harry sitting by himself on the window ledge.
"Harry?" she whispered. She sat up beside him. He smiled slightly.
"I thought you were asleep?" he mumured.
"I was," she replied. "But Mr Snore a lot over there is keeping me awake." She pointed to Ron. Harry laughed quietly.
"What's wrong?" she asked him kindly.
"Nothing," he replied. "Just thinking."
Hermione laughed this time. "Come on, Harry. Since when have you and Ron ever volunteered to do some thinking. There's clearly something wrong."
Harry sighed. "Well, I was sort of thinking about him."
"You know who?" said Hermione.
"Voldemort! yeah!" Harry said. "I was thinking about the end."
"The end?" said Hermione sounding quite confused. "What do you mean "the end?"
Harry shrugged. "When I meet him, Hermione. The last duel or whatever you want to call it."
Hermione sighed. "Well dont think about it! It's not important at the moment. We have to find horcruxes and destroy them. We can worry about meeting him later."
"There is no "we" , Hermione. I have to do this alone. You heard the prophecy. "Neither can live while the other survives." I have to kill him. It's my task."
"Yes, but we'll be right there behind you all the way. We'll back you up in this, Harry. We'll keep watch and who knows we might take down a few death eaters in the process. We've got your back , Harry."
Harry shook his head. "You can live. You can survive. Voldemort wants me dead. Not you or Ron or Ginny or anyone else. Just me."
"Wrong, Harry. I'm a muggleborn. I'm not wanted either. As for Ron , Ginny and all our friends, they care about you, they support you. Anyone who supported Harry Potter up to now will never be wanted by Voldemort or his followers."
Harry sighed. "I've messed up their lives. I've brought them too far, they cant go back now. They cant leave not unless they betray me to him."
"No, Harry, they cant and no one wants to betray you and thats why you have to let us help you. We've risked enough already. Dont leave us in the dark now! Not when we have come so far."
"It's Ginny too," said Harry. "I dont want to see her getting hurt or even worse tortured by Voldemort. I didn't even want her to come. I think I could live without seeing her again if I knew she was okay. If I knew she was safe. But having her here in the heart of all this trouble, it's not right, Hermione."
"Ginny is strong, Harry. She's determined and speaks her own mind and never backs down. But she supports you and if I have to be honest. I dont believe you could have stopped her from coming with you. I dont think you could have stopped any of us."
"What if he kills me?"
"We wont let him, Harry. I wont."
"You cant stop him. My parents didn't. Cedric died within seconds."
"Your parents died because they love you. Cedric was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"And us, Hermione? What about us?"
"We'll be ready, Harry! We'll be strong and confident. There's no other way of facing this other than sheer courage. I wish I could tell you that I guarantee you will survive , but I cant. However I can tell you that you are a wonderful wizard who has one major advantage on Voldemort. One advantage that could change everything."
Harry looked shocked. "Whats that?"
"Friends, Harry! Friends who will die to save you."
Harry smiled and grasped Hermione's trembling hands. A tear slid down her cheek. She smiled back.
And that is Chapter 31!
So sorry that I took so long to post it. I've been so busy this month with things that I've had no time. Anyways will update as soon as I can!