Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all affiliated characters, settings and so forth does not belong to me. Is anyone surprised?
Heavily influenced by Unsung Hero by MeghanReviews. Go read that instead.
Good evening, Professor Dumbledore.
Hm? You were expecting someone else? If you mean the tall fellow with red eyes and rather scaly complexion, he'll be here shortly. We need to talk a little first, I think.
Why not? No, of course it can't wait, you're going to die soon, if the look of murderous intent on Voldemort's non-face is anything to go by. Well obviously we haven't talked before, you were always paying far too much attention to my twin, weren't you? Don't even try to deny it; such an act is stupid and completely redundant. Do you even know my name, Dumbledore?
…It's Harry. Not '…ah…' or '...Mr. Potter...' though I thank you for the respect implicit in the latter. You will address me by that, if you will, since first names are the province of friends – of which I seem to be extraordinarily bare; I wonder why? – and as you cannot recall ever being told it in the first place.
Well. We have much to discuss, don't you think? Like, for instance, why Voldemort is winning this war? Wouldn't that be a wonderful place to start? Or maybe, why you place so much stock in a – I gather though, that you refer to it as 'the' – prophecy when it is blatantly false.
You don't agree? Really Dumbledore, I understand you can be wilfully blind to many things, but this is getting just ridiculous.
Incarcerous! Didn't I tell you? Don't. Move. There's a good senile old man.
What on earth do you mean, 'why are you doing this'? I would have thought it was obvious, given you've just demonstrated in the last five minutes several reasons quite amply.
Dumbledore. You try my patience. Really you do. Good god, have you paid any attention at all? Were you even aware before this moment came that I ever existed at all?
Really? I sincerely doubt that. Let us begin. You know my name, naturally. Granted, I had to tell it to you, which should be ludicrous, Dumbledore, you are the headmaster who prides himself on being omniscient, or at least, knowing all the children under his care, are you not? And with my quite famous brother, you should have had a better memory for it because of that alone. Anyway. I am Harry Potter. Twin of the so-called 'Boy Who Lived'...who is Gryffindor, of course, what else? Ah, but do you know my House, Dumbledore? I bet you don't.
I can practically see the frantic raiding of your memory banks going on beneath that white hair, you know. Still can't get it? You've got a one in four chance of getting it right, how hard can it be?
Oh please. No, not Hufflepuff, headmaster, don't be absurd. Can you get much further from the truth? Ravenclaw. Ravenclaw of the sharp wit, the craving for knowledge that rules, the intelligence that sears… Ring any bells? I thought not. I'll bet for my brother you grilled the Sorting Hat mercilessly, demanding to know every aspect of his personality that the Hat had gleaned. I'd also be willing to place money on it that if the Hat told you anything, it told you that my brother would also have been a candidate for Slytherin – cunning, manipulative… You're asking stupid questions again Dumbledore. Your reputation for omniscience is meeting an even messier end then the one coming for you. You think I don't know what my brother is capable of? He is enough of a Gryffindor to brashly demonstrate at all times what little knowledge he has gained here; I wasn't referring to that. I meant, that when it comes to those incredible acts of valour you're forever giving him points for my brother would make a truly wondrous protégé for Lockhart.
Suit yourself. I am being honest here, Dumbledore, because it is quite famously said that you owe the dead that much. But we can go further in-depth if you like, if you are that far in denial.
Might as well start at the beginning. You should know it already, but somehow I've come to the conclusion you don't remember my part in it. So... shortly before the birth of my brother and myself there was a prophecy. Prophecy with a capital 'P' it seems. Not being the one it pertains to, I am apparently unworthy to know of its contents, despite, quite obviously, being in serious danger as a twin to the great protagonist. Also despite the fact that my godfather, 'uncle' and parents know the whole damn thing. On Halloween night a year after our birth, Lord Voldemort attacked Godric's Hollow in our parents' absence and was… well, killed is obviously a misnomer, but you get the drift, I'm sure – you've been the foremost Voldemort authority for years, despite doing little to nothing about him. I came away with this pretty lightning bolt scar, which hurts when Voldemort is near or experiencing powerful emotions – does my brother's do that? I thought not – and my twin, proclaimed the Boy Who Lived (which seems to make me the Boy Who Died) has a rather jagged 'S' shaped scar. I've always thought it looked a little like the sharp piece of rubble from Godric's Hollow's ceiling that I keep as a souvenir, but evidently that's just me.
With me so far? You never did explain, at least, not to me, why we both were scarred. Could it be you don't have a reason?
…That is quite simply the most asinine thing I have ever heard, and I have heard a great many idiotic things from you.
Now, let us begin with the other reasons behind my hatred for you quite aside from scars and Dark Lord attacks. It's really quite simple. I am, you will hopefully know, seventeen. I gained twelve O.W.L.s – all 'O' – to my brother's seven, and it is not conceit to say that I will have outperformed my brother similarly in my N.E.W.T.s this year; yet I have never earned a single point for my House, and you can't possibly say it's because I never deserved it. Don't worry; my 'parents' didn't notice the discrepancy either. Maybe if I were the Potter heir I'd've had a snowball's chance in hell…
Moving on. In third year my brother took several months to learn to produce a silver mist of a patronus, and was praised highly for it. I took several weeks of sneaking into his lessons, since no one seemed to have remembered I had an even worse reaction to dementors, to produce a corporeal patronus, and the achievement was not recognised at all.
You might like to know, by the way, that it is my owl, Hedwig, who is my patronus, rather than my father, godfather or uncle's animal alter egos. You might also be interested to know that Hedwig, like everything else I own, was once my brother's. Even this wand, holly and phoenix feather – recognise it, do you? I thought you might – used to be his.
W-w-why do I have this, Professor? It suits me better than my brother. You do better magic with the right wand for you, everyone knows that, and we can't have the precious Boy Who Lived working with an inferior wand now, can we?
You really must work on that stutter. It's terribly like Peter Pettigrew's, and we can just imagine how irritating Voldemort finds that.
In my fourth year, when my brother was taken to the graveyard via Portkey, I managed to use a variant of accidental magic to apparate there – through Hogwarts apparation wards I might add – and use silent and wandless magic to banish the Triwizard Cup to him – no, don't talk, I already know what you're going to say – and not a single person noticed I was missing for five days while I walked, hitchhiked and eventually managed to find and use a Floo fireplace back here. The only person who cared at all was Snape, who gave a week worth of detentions. Don't you care about your students, Dumbledore?
Oh, do shut up; your nose is going to reach the floor if you continue much longer.
Dumbledore, do you know that I am a Parselmouth? Didn't think so. Are you aware that my brother is not, to my knowledge? I will confess that perhaps he has shown hitherto unsuspected cunning and concealed such ability, but alas, I sincerely doubt it. Ask yourself, then, how he could have found and opened the Chamber of Secrets in our second year.
I see a light beginning to dawn. Dumbledore, I have been brewing potions in the Chamber of Secrets since the end of my second year. Last year I finally got round to becoming an animagus. A magical animagus. I know more spells, more incantations, more theories and just plain more everything than my twin, but even when I demonstrate this, the only notice anyone gives is to claim I'm trying to usurp my brother's attention, so I've learnt concealing it makes life both that much easier and that less disappointing.
Now, now, don't be say that in such a disappointed and faintly accusing tone. Slytherin is a perfectly honourable House. Or it would be, if the persecution of you and yours didn't force them to become your stereotypes. I happen to agree, though. I would have made a good Slytherin. My parents might even have noticed me, wouldn't that have been nice? It would have been a negative perception, naturally, but it would at least have reminded them they actually have two children. Hmmm. It was a real option, being a Slytherin, but I pleaded for Ravenclaw. I was still young enough to want my parents to be proud of me, as they would never have been if I wore a silver snake upon my robes. They're dead to me now, but once I'd have taken even the yelling and denial and self-recriminations that would have come with green robes so long as I knew they realised I was still alive.
Isn't that pathetic? I've learnt better now, I assure you.
So there you have it. One of us is perfectly average, or perhaps a little above average – you don't know how much it pains me to concede that – and one of us is the top of both peer group and school and yet… and yet of the two of us you believe he is the one who will defeat Voldemort. Why is that?
Prophecy, prophecy, prophecy. Perhaps it is time someone finally told me about that, hmm?
You'd rather talk about me? Your attempts at distraction are quite pitiful. It's a little late for that, don't you think? And besides… who's to say this prophecy isn't about me? I wouldn't know.
Why so horrified? Is it so terrible to think I might be right? You'd probably have had a better chance of survival if you had chosen me, you know.
B-b-but I'm d-d-dark? Dumblemort, that's pathetic. What has that got to do with anything? I was not born with this resentment you know. It is the accumulation of years – better to be 'Dark' and visible, than Light and utterly invisible, don't you think? No, of course you wouldn't, you don't know.
Petty? Yes, I suppose I can see why you might think that. But then, I am a seventeen year old who has never been hugged by anyone except by mistake since I was a year old, has been invisible for much of my life, whereas you are over a hundred and fifty and have been both king and kingmaker; your decisions are valued highly – too highly, I think, but I am of course, the outcome of your worst. Or one of your worst – let's talk about Voldemort shall we?
Why not? I know you talk of Tom to my brother.
Yes, yes, you and your bloody 'prophecy' spiel again. Forget the prophecy for a moment, if you can. We are not talking about that. We are talking about the Dark Lord Voldemort, so feared that the only people who dare speak his name – excluding the Dark Lord himself when he randomly begins referring to himself in third person – are you and I.
No it is not 'all in the past', or he wouldn't be slaughtering everyone in the Great Hall, would he? Let's talk of Tom Marvolo Riddle, and why he is currently wizard terrorist and lunatic extraordinaire instead of Minister of Magic, as he could have been.
You don't think so? I did my research. Or actually, I watched as you did the research for my brother. Charming, handsome, intelligent Mr. Riddle… fill in the blanks for me, headmaster, as you did for brother-mine. Where did Voldemort come from? Why didn't you stop his rise to power? Hurry, hurry – do I hear battle robes a-swishing upon the tower stair?
You couldn't? Stop him? Do you know, Professor, that I spent much of this year researching Horcruxes? A redundant question, I know. You were, point of fact, completely oblivious to my existence before this point in time. Regardless, the Restricted Section has been my home sweet home for much of my life here. Now, the diary I destroyed – yes, I – in my second year was, I recognise now, a Horcrux. Tom i' the diary was… sixteen? Seventeen? School age, not an age to be messing with such dark magic without the tacit knowledge and approval of Hogwarts staff.
I know it's hard for you, but don't be stupid. Tom Riddle was making Horcruxes – murdering, splitting his soul to pieces – while he was in school. In Hogwarts. You can't tell me not a single teacher realised this? That you, who had been keeping such a close eye on orphan, dangerous Riddle, didn't know what he'd done? Voldemort is cunning, but not so cunning as that. You made bad decisions with him too, didn't you?
Well you may have done what you thought was best, but you chose wrongly, obviously. And whoops, you've done it again. Because Voldemort is here, in the castle, in Hogwarts, and he has won, hasn't he. It's not quite over yet, but it will be soon, and why is that? Think on it a little while, I'll be interested to know how much longer you can keep your eyes wide shut.
For want of an 's' scar the child was lost; for want of the child the battle was lost…
Still you ask why I am the way I am? Why I do this? I stand over you now and tell you this and still you have to ask? I have better question: how could I not be so? How could I possibly support, how could I possibly save you, when you never acknowledged me? Why should I?
If I duelled Voldemort now, right in front of you, and won… if my brother were dead you would say his spirit helped me, possessed me. If my brother was petrified, stuck to a ceiling somewhere in Australia and magically drained you'd say he used wandless, wordless, utterly undetectable magic to help me. If I lost, you would of course say it was because I am inferior, I am not the one to whom your beloved prophecy pertained, never mind Voldemort has over fifty years magical education over me and greater knowledge of the Dark Arts than any wizard alive.
I am not an egotist, Dumbledore, but I'd quite like to be acknowledged for the things I do, particularly if they are extremely dangerous and suicidal, like challenging the Dark Lord to a fight. It would be extremely galling after all that to watch my so-called brother being lauded for my hard work, you understand.
Mmhm. I think you're beginning to grasp just how big a mistake it was that you made. The look of horror on your face is quite delightful. It's taken you long enough.
To be fair, it took my parents twice as long. Do you know what they said when they realised? Heh. 'Oh god, what have we done?' I almost didn't have the heart to tell them they'd done nothing – that was the whole point.
Look, there goes my brother, my twin, your precious Boy Who Lived. He's not rescuing you, is he Dumbledore? He's not saving anyone. Oh no, no, he's running for his life, trying to save his pathetic skin with first-year spells, fifth year at his best. Expelliarmus, expelliarmus, expelliarmus! Can you see him clearly now, the boy all your hopes and dreams were pinned upon, that all your careful manipulations have crafted, Kingmaker? He's a coward, a weakling, a fraud, resting too long on laurels that were never his. You chose badly, you trained badly, and you've failed spectacularly.
Listen, do you hear hissing? That's Voldemort climbing the stairs; he's talking to Nagini, discussing calmly all the myriad ways to kill you. That squawk and soft thump? That's Fawkes, his cry cut short and his soft-feathered body hitting the stair before falling to ashes, the baby in the cinders swallowed by Nagini before it utters its first cheep. I wonder how baby phoenixes are digested. You don't know? Neither do I.
Well, it's time for me to leave, regardless. I think our talk is over, don't you? I think you know it all now.
Oh, don't ever think I'm leaving because of that. I'm not afraid of Tom any more than you are. I'm leaving because his hate is older than mine, he marked you for death long ago and it would be foolish to challenge his claim. Besides, he'll be merciful, he'll let you die, and there's an indoctrinated child deep inside that still thinks you deserve that.
What a beautiful day. Pity I have to spend it with you, but we can't always get what we want. In my case, I never get what I want, so I don't know why I'm surprised. Mmm, I think I'd be content to die on a day like this; I hope you are too, seeing as one of us is going to die today, and it sure as hell ain't gonna be me.
Ah, but you're wrong. I am a killer, even if it is by abandonment, or could be perfectly content to become one if I wished. I see that expression! Don't be so judgemental – after all, you actively encourage my brother to become one, why should I receive all your disgust simply because I don't require your prompting to reach the same decision?
That's stupid. Killing Voldemort is still killing someone. Granted, his soul is a little ragged, what pieces of it are left, and yes, he looks like a terrible accident in genetic splicing… and okay, sure, he's about the nearest thing to a sentient pack of razor blades you can get, but he's still a person, and it's still murder to kill him, I don't care what excuses you make about being a Dark Lord and evil and so on and so forth. My twin is (or maybe we should say was…) content to do that. I would have been too, once, morality and sacredness of life aside. You wouldn't even have needed much. All you needed to do to ensure my loyalty was ask.
…never mind. I can see I'm just wasting words. Well, don't waste these precious last moments. Look outside, it's a glorious sunset; look how deep the shadows have grown. Look at my brother down there, running and hiding, ducking and weaving and weeping. Do you think he'll be pleased to see me?
I'm pleased to see him. Do you understand the ramifications behind the incantation 'crucio'? I'll bet you do. Latin. A word of ultimate hatred, a word for traitors, a judgement and a command – crucify him.
Is your mind well organised? Are you prepared for the next great adventure?
Ne fiat lux, Dumbledore. Let there not be light.