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Harry Potter and the Trip to the Past

Chapter 32

Harry and Snape waited; Harry in breathless anticipation. Would Kreacher appear or would he not? Would magic somehow recognise that he was Kreacher's Master? He hoped so. A minute might have passed and Harry thought that Kreacher would not come; when there was a loud crack and an old elf, bent and twisted popped in.

"Who is calling poor Kreacher and why Kreacher is compelled to obey?" muttered a hoarse voice and Harry was horrified to see the state Kreacher was in. He was thin, his skin was scratched everywhere, and big and small wounds were scattered all around his body in various stages of healing; some of them very fresh. Guilt filled him, when he saw the pitiable condition of the elf.

"Kreacher?" Harry asked in a whisper. "Good Lord, I'm sorry!" he whispered again, anguished. He knew it was his fault. He had been glad, glad Kreacher had been sent away; glad because he did not need to deal with Sirius and Kreacher at the time; clearly that had been a terrible, terrible mistake.

"Are you with the Malfoys?" he asked fury in his voice.

"Why is unworthy half-blood traitor asking me about beloved Mistress's family? Why should Kreacher answer and yet Kreacher finds he must answer as if the unworthy brat is Master. But that cannot be. Oh... poor Kreacher is confused." He said and then answered Harry's question. "No, Kreacher is not with the Good Malfoys, but with kind Mistress Bellatrix and her family."

"I'm your Master now Kreacher." Harry said as gently as he could. "After Regulus."

Kreacher trembled and looked fearfully at Harry. "Good Mistress had forbidden the mention of Good Mas .. the blood traitor Regulus. Kreacher finds that he must obey or be punished." His lips trembled and huge tears fell from his eyes.

"Of course you don't have to obey. Did you just not say you were compelled to answer me as if I was your Master? Well, then, let me tell you, I fully allow you to talk as much as you want to about Good Master Regulus; only make sure you don't do it in the Lestranges presence. Did Narcissa Malfoy hand you over to Bellatrix's family, Lestrange's parents?'

Kreacher nodded. He stared at Harry for a moment and then, "Good Master Regulus." He whispered and looked fearfully at Harry, expecting to be at the wrong end of Harry's wand and was shocked to see Harry nodding his head. "He was a good Master indeed and he loved you, Kreacher."

Tears trailed down Kreacher's face. He stood there trembling and sniffling, making a pitiful picture.

Harry turned to Snape. "Can you get him something for his wounds?" Snape, who had been watching silently, shook his head.

"It would be better if you don't heal them Potter. If the Lestranges see him healthy, all it would mean is more pain for him. If you can, make him look more wretched before he leaves, so that they won't harm him. They'd be disgusted to see him, and would simply give him his commands and send him off."

Kreacher looked up at that, fearful of more pain. Harry grit his teeth, knowing how much pain house elves could take, especially elves belonging to the Blacks. That Kreacher was almost whimpering at the thought of more pain made Harry understand how much he had been put through all these years by a mad family, and who knew, maybe he had been experimented upon by Lucius Malfoy before that, and it was his fault. Well no longer.

"Kreacher, I'm your Master. Master Regulus made me your Master, and magic recognised it; that's why you came when I called you and you want to obey my commands. I'm not going to wound you more; I'm going to make your body look more wounded, but you won't be. Ok?" he turned to Snape. "If we are going to make him look wretched, then why can't we treat him?"

"Because we don't know how much of a scrutiny he is under and if all elves are asked to keep an eye on each other's healing." Kreacher nodded. "Yes; we are not to be healing ourselves, oh no we're not. Good Mistress will curse us." He said hoarsely.

Harry grit his teeth again. "Will you be missed now?"

Kreacher shook his head. "Good Mistress could not make me her elf; so Kreacher not given important and secret tasks. Kreacher alone most of the time, helping other elves cleaning and cooking and shopping. Kreacher used mostly for punishments, because good Mistress cannot understand why Kreacher cannot be owned completely, since Mistress Bellatrix is a Black."

Harry looked at Snape significantly, seeing that Snape too had caught on to what Kreacher was saying. Harry frowned trying to make sense of everything. Apparently magic recognised Kreacher as his. He wondered whether Kreacher now belonged to Sirius as well. No; he shook his head, Sirius had given Kreacher clothes, so Kreacher was no longer his. But Harry had done no such thing and Kreacher was now his by magic. Was it because Harry had travelled to the past accidently? Would magic have deemed everything differently if Harry had made a conscious effort to travel to the past? Well Harry did not know, but innate magic recognised Kreacher as his and by Merlin, Harry was going protect what was his. He had neglected Kreacher enough.

"Kreacher." he called. The old elf looked at him. Harry put his hand into his robes and brought out the Locket and held it out to him. "We, Professor Snape and I completed Master Regulus's last wish. The Locket is now free of the evil that was contained in it."

Kreacher's eyes bulged until Harry was sure they were going to pop out. He slowly put out his hand and touched the Locket and tears once again poured out of his eyes when he could not find the evil magic inside it. Harry opened the Locket and showed him and then flicking his wand, created a similar Locket in silver, mounted it on a conjured chain and gave it to Kreacher.

"This Locket belonged to Salazar Slytherin and so by right it now belongs to the School and Slytherin House. But in remembrance of Regulus and the success of the task he set for you, I thought you could wear this on your neck. And this is not equal to giving clothes I hope."

Kreacher shook his head. "No Master." He looked longingly at the Locket and then reluctantly shook his head again. "I wills not take this Locket right now Master. If any of the other elves see me with it, they will" he wound down.

"Of course they will. I'll hold this for you and give it to you when you come back to me."

"When can Kreacher do that?" he asked.

"Soon. I called you to request you to help me with a task. I need you to get something for me from Bellatrix's vault." Harry conjured the Hufflepuff Cup from memory and showed it to Kreacher. "The Cup is in a top shelf of her vault, placed quite separately from the other items, which may have a Gemino Charm upon them. Don't touch anything else; just levitate the Cup into a bag I'll give you in just a moment. Put this Cup in the place of the other Cup, so that the Cup will not be missed. Bring the Cup here and place it in Snape's Chamber's in a place he'll show you in a moment. You don't need to call me or him; we'll know the moment the Cup is placed." Harry looked at the elf anxiously. "Can you do this for me? This Cup is like the Locket, which Master Regulus wanted destroyed." He finished.

His last words made the elf straighten and nod. "I cannot do it immediately. I wills have to wait until I'm given key to purchase somethings."

"Fantastic. Do it when you can, but at the first opportunity finish this. Ok? Oh, and make sure you don't punish yourself and if the Lestranges ask you to, pretend to, but don't hurt yourself too badly. Eat well and take care of yourself Kreacher. While I would love you to finish the task well, your wellbeing is most important. You are NOT to hurt or harm yourself in order to bring the Cup. Do this when an opportunity presents itself." Harry patted the old elf on his shoulders and hoped he was doing the right thing and Kreacher would not end up being a casualty because of this mission.

Kreacher did not know how to respond to this so he kept quiet and stared at Harry. "When can I come back to you?" he asked hesitantly, his words a very soft croak.

Harry cringed guiltily. "Very soon Kreacher. I am in the process of completing the work started by Master Regulus and for that, there are a couple of things that need be done. One is destroying the Locket, which we've done of course and the other is destroying the Cup which I showed you; it has the same properties of the Locket, so don't touch it with your hand; levitate it and put it into," Harry conjured a small black velvet bag, "this."

"And then I can comes to you?" Kreacher asked him.

Snape broke in smoothly. "There is one more thing to be done Kreacher. Nagini must be killed too."

Kreacher gasped. "That's ... difficult Master Snape. Snake always with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."

"Yes, which is why, I'll be preparing a potion with basilisk venom and if you can get it to Nagini, most of our job will be done, and you can return to Potter. In fact you must return to Potter the moment you give the potion to Nagini; I will be making the potion, masking it and then placing it inside a piece of meat, so that Nagini will take it without suspicion; the moment she swallows that you are to pop back to Harry, here at Hogwarts."

"And don't punish yourself if anyone there, even a Black asks you too. Slink away and pretend to punish yourself; but be careful of the other elves, you don't want them to tell on you to Voldemort or any of the Blacks." Harry finished. "Get the Cup and place it where Snape will show you, and feed the potion filled meat to Nagini. Snape will finish the potion and call you; go to him and collect it. You are not to obey anyone else, and please Kreacher keep my secrets. Don't tell anyone what happened here."

Kreacher was silent for a long moment. Then he nodded and carefully hiding the black velvet bag, he walked with Snape to his Chambers to see where he needed to bring the Cup, and popped away, leaving Harry saddened and guilty of what he had done to Kreacher by sheer neglect.

"It was not your fault Potter." Snape's voice sounded softly in the room. "You could not have known he could not be claimed by a Black; Narcissa must have tried to, and when she failed, she must have given him to the elder Lestranges, so that he would not be interacting with other people. The elder Lestranges don't go anywhere and Narcissa must have thought Kreacher would be safe with them, with the secrets of the Black safe inside him. Then of course Bellatrix must have taken charge."

Harry shrugged his eyes troubled. They were silent for a while and then Harry looked at Snape. "How long will it take to finish the potion?"

"It's done already. I've a few potions made the moment we discussed Nagini as a Horcrux." Snape shrugged. Before Harry could question him about why he had not given Kreacher the potion, Snape added. "I did not want to give the Potion today. The elf was beaten badly and on top of that he had an overload of information and a very important job to do. The moment he comes with the Cup, I'll give this to him."

"Provided he's safe and no one knows about his part in the theft of the Cup. Otherwise come what may, we're not sending him back." Snape nodded and then sent Harry away; now they had to wait for Kreacher to do his part.

Harry left detention subdued and he stayed down the next few days, before the worry of his friends forced him to act normal. Luna was still wearing her shoes and those who had been hiding her things had yet to touch them again. One morning, a couple of days later, Harry shook his head, shrugged and decided to look to the future. He could do little with his guilt about Kreacher, which was not helping anyone, while thinking more clearly would probably help him and those who were dependent on him. And things fell into routine again.

A few days after Harry had placed the charms on Luna's belongings, Harry, Luna and the other students were rewarded by some of the Ravenclaw girls, including Cho Chang, Harry noticed to his irritation, sporting various colours on their person, while their hair was made up in ridiculous styles. The whole Hall gaped when Cho and a few of her friends including Marietta Harry noted slinked into the Great Hall, and looking around at the Ravenclaw Table and unable to find her, turned to the Gryffindor Table and stomped over rigid with anger. Cedric had stood up angrily, seeing the state Cho was in. Her skin was a virulent pink with small green eyes blinking all over; Harry had got the idea from Dumbledore's robes and Marietta's skin was in bold stripes of black blue and red. Another Ravenclaw, who Harry remembered as Amy Tawny and a part of Cho's gang had a sickly yellow with purple whorls.

Harry snorted. The girls looked horrible. Harry had thought there were more girls in the bullying ring; perhaps they'd backed off seeing what happened to these three.

"How dare you?" Cho screamed, all rational thought leaving her. Her hair was made up as a vulture and wobbled as she screamed, making Harry snigger. Marietta's hair was a square, which looked pretty horrible and Amy's hair was even worse. It was a rectangle on top of her head. "Remove these charms at once Loony bin. Else, I'll have you expelled."

The Professors Dumbledore and Flitwick had come down by then, and the other Professors were watching the drama unfold with great interest.

"What is this Miss Chang?" squeaked the little Charms Professor and Cho howled in anger. "It's Loony Lovegood, Professor. Look what she made us to be." Flitwick frowned at the Loony, but turned to Luna.

"Miss Love Lovegood, do you have anything to say?"

Luna stood up, her face serene. "Oh yes Professor I do accept I was to blame for this." Was as far as she got, before Cho lunged at her. Harry quickly cast a shield and watched with a smirk as Cho bounced off it and fell down, he hair wobbling in the most funny manner. She turned to glare at Harry, when Flitwick stopped her. "Miss Chang!" he exclaimed and Cho blushed. He turned to Luna and looked at her sternly.

"You will undo this at once."

"I don't know how Professor. You see," she continued calmly, "a friend warded my things for me, and he told me that they were now protected and those who took my things and hid them for fun would get a nasty shock. I don't know what spells he used and how he did it. If you give me some time, I can owl him and ask him about it."

Harry grinned at Luna's statement, she was trying to protect him, but it was not necessary. "Thank you Luna." he said, even as Flitwick turned to the three unfortunate looking girls. "I did them Professor, when I found Luna wandering in the corridors barefoot and searching for her shoes. People in Ravenclaw apparently take her things including books, shoes, socks, robes and hide them for fun." He finished with a snarl, all humour leaving him as he thought of how he found Luna.

"I found her wandering the Halls and I have warded her trunk and all her belongings. It is not her fault these girls decided to steal her things ... again, for fun! I won't undo the wards and expose her to bullying once more, Sir." He finished satisfied with what he'd done and uncaring about the consequences.

"Of course you won't." Flitwick said angrily. "I apologise Miss Lovegood, I was not aware of this." He turned to Harry. "I am happy Mr. Potter, that you have helped her. Fifty points to Gryffindor and a hundred points each from the three of you. And detention everyday for the next two months. Let's see if this cures you of your habit of taking other's things without their knowledge for fun." He finished with a spectacular scowl and stormed away out of the Great Hall, without bothering to undo the charms. Cedric, who had come to defend Cho, looked at her as if he did not know her at all.

Meanwhile Harry sat down and started eating again, sniggering now and then as he looked at the three girls. Dumbledore stared at him for a minute and then waved his wand over the three girls, cancelling the charms. "I'm very disappointed in you Miss Chang, Miss Edgecombe and Miss Tawny. I will be writing to your parents about this." His voice turned cold and the temperature dropped a few degrees. "I hope you do realise you were bullying a younger student and that it needs to stop at once." The three girls swallowed hard and nodded. Dumbledore left the Great Hall too and Cho lost for words and looked silly standing by the Gryffindor Table, turned to leave the Great Hall, when she saw Cedric scowling at her rather nastily.

"It was for fun Ced. Just I..." She shrugged uncomfortably and smiled weakly at him.

He scowled at her. "Clearly we have a different idea of what constitutes fun, Chang." He replied coldly and to her horror walked to the Gryffindor Table and sat with Harry and Luna and began to calmly discuss the Tournament with them. Cho looked stunned for a second, before she sobbed loudly and ran away from the Great Hall along with the other two girls.

"And that was that." Harry said in satisfaction. "Now they won't bother you Luna." He frowned. "But if they show their anger at you for what happened today," Cedric stopped him there. "They'd better not." He said coldly. "I'm sorry Luna; I never knew Cho was doing all this. If she does anything again, you'll tell Harry here or me, won't you?"

Luna seemed both bewildered and very happy. She nodded and thanked Cedric, before turning to Harry. She kissed his cheek, making him blush like a teenager and skipped off to class, waving goodbye. "I'll meet you later Harry Potter."

The days went by and as he became normal, Hermione and Neville were glad. They had been worried and Harry springing back to his normal cheerful self made them relieved as it did a watching Draco, who had not been able to meet them that week. Harry was impatient inside, but he could do nothing but wait. Meanwhile the Yule Ball came upon the Castle and Harry was never gladder for the distraction it offered.

Everyone was excited and discussed partners. Hermione was going with Victor Krum, Neville with Ginny, and Ron strangely with Padma again. Harry wondered how Ron had got his date, but he did not ask. The night of the Yule Ball, Harry dressed in dress robes of dark green with a thin gold border full of runes as a design. He looked very smart and holding the palest of lilies for Luna and walked briskly towards the Ravenclaw Tower.

Soon Luna appeared in a rather dazzling white robe with her usual butterbeer caps necklace and radish ear rings. Harry smiled at her and held out the lilies. "You look nice Luna. Shall we be off?"

"Thank you Harry Potter. Of course we may go." She clutched the lilies to her and slipping her arm through Harry's, both of them walked sedately towards the Great Hall, talking to each other about Mid Winter and how it was usually celebrated in various parts of the United Kingdom.

They reached the Great Hall and waited their turn and Harry gallantly walked into the Hall with Luna on his arms. He looked to see Snape staring at him and then rolling his eyes as Harry grinned and then Harry was among his friends. The whole evening turned out to be rather fantastic to Harry's surprise and he even managed to dance with Ginny, without either of them being too embarrassed.

As they were nearing midnight, Harry suddenly remembered about Rita Skeeter, who he had avoided until then by simply refusing to go to the photo shoot and the weighing of the wands. In the end Ollivander had had to come to the Great Hall accompanied by Dumbledore after the official weighing of the wands and the photo shoot and check his wand. That had been an interesting conversation.

"Mr. Potter," he had said softly. "I do not remember you purchasing a wand from me."

"I'm sorry Sir!" Harry managed to look contrite. "I didn't know. I got this wand from a wand maker in Knocturn Alley."

Ollivander's eyebrows almost vanished into his hair. "Ah!" he said mumbling something and then, "Well no matter Mr. Potter. May I check your wand?"

Harry grinned and then handed his wand to the old wand maker. Ollivander had peered at the wand and then removing his own wand, muttered something and then gasped. "My word, Mr. Potter." He said softly and by then Harry was feeling very uncomfortable. "From where did you get the cores?" he asked even more softly and Harry had an awful feeling that Ollivander somehow knew from just where he had received wand cores.

"And Fawkes's feather!" he said staring at Harry, and Harry shrugged, trying to look embarrassed. Dumbledore was by then frowning.

"Is there a problem Garrick, with Harry's wand?"

"Oh no!" Ollivander said comfortably, still gripping the wand, turning it this way and that. "No Albus." The he gave a wave and watched as a riot of colours escaped from the wand before he handed it back to Harry.

"This is a very powerful wand Mr. Potter. Do take care of it well." And then he simply turned and left, muttering his goodbyes to Dumbledore, who simply turned as well and walked out with him, no doubt trying to get Ollivander to tell him what disturbed him so.

Harry had stared at them for a minute, but then shrugged. He couldn't do a thing about this and if Ollivander suspected something, he hoped the old wand maker would not share them with Dumbledore.

Now, Harry dragged Luna outside, near where he could see Hagrid and Madam Maxine conversing in soft tones, and like he suspected, he saw a beetle flying nearby the huge couple. Harry waved his wand, conjured a small bottle closed with a wooden cork with holes and pulled open the cork, then he summoned the beetle into the bottle and swiftly replaced the cork tightly and placed it into his robes, ignoring the indignant beetle that was frantically zooming inside the bottle.

Luna stared at him with interest, but she did not say anything and Harry offered her no explanation, knowing that Luna would make up her own, which would probably be close to the truth. He smiled and winked at her and then they walked around a bit before going back into the great Hall and settling with his friends.

It was late that night before Harry had time for the beetle he had captured. He made sure he had the curtains closed tightly, with silencing spells on them, before removing the jar and setting it down on his bed. She was sitting tiredly, but seeing him she started zooming frantically trying to escape again and he grinned at her. "Rita!" he drawled. "Fancy seeing you here at Hogwarts and that too as an unregistered Animagus; isn't that a punishable offence? I heard it was a stint in Azkaban, with Dementors for company?"

More frantic zooming came from the jar. "Stop!" he commanded her. "You can't get out until I release you, and I'm not planning to do that until I'm satisfied you will listen to me and do as I say. Zoom once to agree."

Rita was still for a long moment and then she zoomed a resigned round and came to a stop.

"I'm going to need an oath on your magic that you will not publish anything about me without my agreement? If you agree to give that oath, then I'll release you and we can talk. Otherwise I'm afraid it's the jar for the foreseeable future for you. Zoom once to agree." He said simply.

Rita glared at him, but seeing no way out of it, she zoomed once again, hoping that Harry would understand that she agreed to his terms. Harry removed the lid, let her out and watched her turn back, even as he disarmed her. "I hope you will not try anything stupid?" he asked raising one eyebrow.

She looked at him with undisguised hatred. "No." She ground out and grabbed her wand back to her. After agreeing upon an oath sufficient to satisfy them both, Rita gave it.

"You may go now, but remember, if I see you on the grounds again, I'll tell Dumbledore."

She was furious. "I just gave you my oath. What do you mean I can't come inside Hogwarts?'

"Just that. What you're doing is illegal and you have no business to snoop around the School in disguise, eavesdropping on students to write your trash. Remember, no more snooping inside the School." Harry replied implacably and watched her reluctantly nod her head again. She turned into a beetle and zoomed outside the window. Harry watched her fly out of the school, before he went to a well deserved sleep.

The days soon started slipping by and it was soon time for the second task. Harry wondered who would be taken this time and he was soon answered when surprisingly Luna disappeared the day before the Second Task. He thought about that; he was friends with Neville and Hermione from day one and yet they had taken Luna. Perhaps it was because he had taken her to the Ball. That must have been the reason.

Harry rolled his eyes and walked to the cold Black Lake and jumped in. He cast a bubble head charm over his head and cast an accelerating charm upon himself. He swam powerfully to where the hostages were, took Luna without any difficulty and returned without bothering about Gabrielle Delacour, since he knew this time that she would not come to any harm.

He was the first to arrive and a few seconds before he hit the surface, Harry cancelled his spells. He was greeted by the judges and his nearly hysterical friends. Luna calmly opened her eyes and skipped away to Madame Pomphrey, who ran her wand over her and proclaimed she was fit. She turned to Harry, but he was already with Hermione and Neville, who were looking anxious.

"I'm fine, Hermione." Harry grinned. "Piece of cake."

"Don't take it so lightly Harry. There are a lot of creatures that aren't very friendly inside the Lake."

"I know, but surprisingly they did not come near me." They all waited for the other participants to come up and then turned towards the Judges for the scores. Harry was unsurprised to see him in the lead again.

And that was that. The days went by with Harry and Snape waiting anxiously for Kreacher's arrival. It was not until the end of March that Kreacher came with the Cup. He arrived inside Snape's quarters when Harry was at class, and silently kept the Cup where Snape had shown him, and went to wait for Snape. He did not have to wait for long; Snape had known the moment Kreacher had appeared inside his rooms; he came striding quickly. The elf was looking far better than when he had first come.

"You were successful Kreacher?"

"Yes Master Snape."

Snape went to inspect the bag. "Was it very difficult?"

"No Master. I waited until I was sent to Gringotts for something, and then I got the Cup and came here."

"Did you leave a copy of the Cup there?"

"Yes Master."

"Good Kreacher and thank you for what you've done. You have just one more job to do and then the moment you finish that, you'll come back here, and I'll call Harry and then you can be with him and do as he says. Remember do not hurt or harm yourself and heal yourself without anyone knowing if others hurt you. Harry will be most displeased otherwise."

Kreacher nodded. "What must I do now?"

Snape quickly walked to a cupboard and took a potion vial. He went into another room and called for a Hogwarts elf and asked her to get him some fresh meat. Once he had the meat in his hands, he dismissed the elf, made a deep cut into the meat, placed the vial inside the meat and sealed it. Casting an ever fresh charm on the meat first, Snape then waved his wand in a complicated manner a few times before he went back to Kreacher. Standing in front of Kreacher he conjured a thick bag, placed the meat inside it and handed it to Kreacher.

"Shrink this Kreacher and keep this upon you at all times. The moment you see an opportunity to give this to Nagini safely, do that and come here at once. Have you understood?"

Seeing Kreacher nod again, Snape dismissed him. "Go quickly now Kreacher, before anyone misses you."

Kreacher popped away at once and Snape heaved a huge sigh. One more Horcrux down by the looks of it.

He gave Harry a detention the following day during Potions class. That evening he told Harry about Kreacher's visit.

"Why didn't you call me?" Harry asked, deeply disappointed he had missed the old elf, as they destroyed the Horcrux in the Cup. "How did he look? Was he hurt more badly than before?"

Snape shook his head. "He was fine Potter. I think he took your order to heart and he had been healing himself, even when ordered not to. How could I have asked for you? You were in Minerva's class."

Harry sighed and nodded at the truth of Snape's statement. "So now we wait for Kreacher to come?"

"Yes, we wait. Once he does his job, all the Horcruxes are taken care of. I have a password for breaking the vial, and I also have a few charms, Dark Magic really, to ensure she doesn't digest the meat, until I speak the password." He smiled wryly. "Very Dark Magic, based on blood."

"I know." Harry replied shocking him.

"You do?" he stuttered in disbelief.

"Yes. I used it once to great effect. Something I don't like, but when you are dealing with criminals who walk as outstanding members of society and untouchable by Law, sometimes the only way is to deal with them is to use their weapons against them."

Snape waited for Harry to tell him the story, but Harry didn't say anything. Snape asked curious.

"Who was the person?"

"Lady Hestia."

Snape just stopped a gasp. Lady Hestia was the one of the foremost Potion Masters in the world and a most respectable woman. How on earth had Harry fed her this potion, which she had invented by the way, to put her to death?

"She was selling Dark Potions on the sly to rich muggles and magical businessmen to help them do away with their business foes. It was a pleasure to kill her using one of her own inventions."

"How on earth did you manage that?" this boy/man was surprising him almost every day.

Harry grinned. "With great difficulty. The Department of Mysteries helped too." And he wouldn't say another word, leaving Snape to huff in exasperation.

The days went by and soon it was time for the third Task. Three days before that, Kreacher came to Snape's dungeon, when Harry was at a detention with him.

"Kreacher!" Harry cried, hugging the old elf and utterly shocking him. "How are you?"

He looked very good. "I is fine Master Harry. I finished the job Master gave me and I has come here. Now can I stay with you?" he asked hopefully.

"Of course you can." He turned to Snape. "Can I send him to Spinner's End? He'd be safe there, when I'm at School."

Snape nodded. "I'm going to let you go to my home. You will be safe there. If you see any Death Eaters come to my home or even anywhere near it, you must make yourself invisible alright? And let me know of course."

Kreacher looked at Harry to confirm this order. Harry nodded seriously. "I'll take you to the Black home as soon as I can. But until then, as long as I'm in School, this will be the safest place for you. But be sure to hide if you see any of Voldemort's supporters. I don't want you to confront them."

Harry then took out the Locket he'd taken to carrying with him, since Kreacher had come with the Cup and gave it to him, and watched him as he reverently placed it around his neck.

"Kreacher! This is an order. You must not obey the call of any other person except me and Professor Snape here. If any of the other Blacks or Lestranges call for you, you will not obey. If any of their elves come to hurt you, I expect you to defend yourself fully. If any of the Blacks or indeed anyone else sees it fit to hurt you, I want you to defend yourself. And above all I don't want you to punish yourself for anything. Ok?"

Kreacher's eyes had widened and he could not believe his Master was telling him what he did. Why this was almost similar to what Good Master Regulus would say to him. Feeling over whelmed and faint, he nodded slowly.

"Good!" Harry gave him the key to his Gringott's account for him to purchase food and anything else he needed, and dismissed the old elf to have the first bit of peace he had in many a long year.

"Again Potter, this is not your fault." Snape said softly.

"I know, but I can't help but feel responsible." Harry sighed.

"All set for the third Task? Anything I should know? You haven't told me anything about this year, if I may remind you." He asked.

Harry frowned. He hadn't told Snape anything at all, because there were too many things that had happened this year the last time around and he hadn't wanted to confide in Snape until the last minute with the decision he had come to about the Third Task. He nodded at Snape. "The moment I take the Cup, stun Moody and have Dumbledore interrogate him. Tell him you heard him muttering about Voldemort or something."

Snape nodded. "I'll take care of it. When do you want me to come to the graveyard?"

"Follow the Dark Mark, when he calls you, come there. Don't kill Nagini, until Voldemort uses the Avada Kedavra at me. More importantly, don't stop him from using that curse on me ok?"

"WHAT?!" Snape's black eyes darkened. "I'm going to need an explanation Potter, if you want me to follow your instructions, especially these. Are you mad?" he bit out.

Harry sighed and hesitated for a long moment. "My scar has a bit of Voldemort's soul in it. That has to be killed."

Snape stood up so suddenly, Harry was startled. "What!" he shrieked, all control vanishing.

"My scar!" Harry replied patiently.

"I got that. Explain!" He snarled, his eyes boring into Harry.

"Well that night when Voldemort cast the AK on me, it rebounded on him and shattered his soul; a tiny part of that soul became embedded inside my scar. I have to die to get rid of it and Voldemort once and for all."

Snape sat there horrified. "You have to die?" he whispered. "Not an option. Not an option at all. I won't let you die Potter."

"I have to, to get rid of Voldemort once and for all."

Snape scowled at that, his eyes still reflecting his shock at hearing that Harry had to die. "You lived last time. How did that happen?"

"Voldemort killed me the last time too. I lived, because of the ritual he did at the graveyard, one I'm hoping he'll do again. He took my blood, my Mum's blood, which kept me anchored to this world, and I hope will do so again. If it does not," Harry paused and continued quietly, "you will do everything to kill him at once. When I fall, Voldemort will fall too. If he does, there's a good chance, I'll be back. Kill Nagini in the confusion, and wait. If I'm not back and Voldemort gets up, all fine and dandy," Harry said quietly, "know I've gone to be with my parents, and please kill him. Otherwise all this will have been for naught."

Snape stared at him, his eyes wild. "Damn you Potter! It's not enough I killed your parents, your mother, now I have to stand by and watch you die." He finished with a shout, his voice trembling. He sat down and looked down, clenching his hands, and struggled to control himself.

"Is there any other way?" he asked after an oppressive silence.

"Not that I know of."

There was only silence in the room for a long time after that.

"It's nearing curfew. Can I go?" Harry asked after what seemed an eternity of staring at Snape, who was staring at his hands.

Snape did not look up. He nodded, and Harry left the room, cringing at what he had rather flippantly revealed to Snape. He should have known Snape would take it badly, but how else could he have put it? Harry shrugged wearily as he walked back to Gryffindor Tower, he was rather sick of everything, and he could not wait for Voldemort to go, one way or another. Well, in another three days, he'd know.

Hermione and Neville were waiting for him and they frowned when they saw him so tired and defeated. "What did Snape make you do?"

"Can you believe it, nothing? He made me sit quietly for the whole time and let me tell you that was more tiring than anything else." Harry said crossly, too many emotions making him cranky. "Come on let's go to bed."

The next three days went by too slowly for Harry; Snape had stopped acknowledging him, and Harry felt wretched. Snape had become a friend of sorts, and it hurt Harry to know he had hurt Snape badly. Well he could not do anything about it. So, it was some relief that Harry woke up on the day of the Third Task. It would all be over by tonight. Or so he hoped.

Sirius and Remus had come to Hogwarts. "We've come to see you win." Sirius declared, hugging Harry. "You'd better be careful alright?"

"I will Sirius." Harry beamed and he, Neville and Hermione spent a happy day with Sirius and Remus.

In the evening, after many instructions from Hermione, Neville, Sirius and Remus, Harry walked to the Maze, catching Draco's anxious eyes from near the Great Hall's doors. Harry grinned and nodded at him. It had become increasingly difficult to meet with Draco; he was surrounded by too many Slytherins all the time for him to break away, but he mouthed a hasty 'take care' to Harry, before slipping into the Great Hall to meet his fellow Slytherins.

Harry nodded smiling, and soon he was at the entrance of the Maze, waiting for the other contestants to come. They were a bit early, and they stood there chatting, watching the spectators fill the stands and the other contestants come by.

When it was nearing the time, Dumbledore walked from the Castle with Snape, McGonagall and the other Professors, who came to the contestants and wished them luck.

Harry thanked them and looked anxiously at Snape. Snape looked at him for the first time in three days and nodded once. Harry heaved a sigh of relief and grinned, his wide smile turning into laughter, seeing Sirius stiffen and snarl.

"Go on Sirius. Go to your seats. It's nearly time."

Sirius, Remus, Hermione, Neville hugged Harry and wished him luck and told him for the millionth time to be careful. Hermione was crying and begging him to return safely and Neville looked as if he was not too far off from tears, even as he was nodding to Hermione's words of caution. Harry gently pushed them towards the stands and taking a deep breath turned to the Maze.

Unlike last time, Harry wasted no time and soon he was off into the maze, cutting, spelling, solving and walking steadily towards the centre. He saw no one, since he figured he had been way too quick with his obstacles; he'd simply annihilated them.

Then, there was the Cup, standing in all its glory. Harry took a deep breath, and went to take hold of the Cup, when he heard the pincers clicking. An Acromantula. He turned and stunned the Acromantula with a Parsel stunning spell and watched it fall and spin.

He walked to the Cup, and placed his hands on the handle. The Prophecy was going to be fulfilled one way or another today. He would make sure of it. That's all he had time to think of, before he was jerked away with the Cup.

End of Chapter – 32