A/N: I'm really sorry for the long wait! It was a crazy summer semester of college, and I had to deal with a few deaths and two additions to the family! I realized when going through the rest of my plot that there will only be two, maybe three more chapter before Never Alone will finally be complete. It's been a long an bumpy ride, but I've enjoyed every minute of it! I hope you guys enjoy these last few chapters. Thank you to everyone who stuck through and continued to read, even after all this time. I couldn't have done it without you!
The first thing out of the ordinary that Severus noticed when he stepped out of the floo was that the bathroom door in his and Remus' room was open. He distinctly remembered closing it before they had left, and it rubbed him the wrong way to see it open. Before he could voice this, the bedroom door flew open, and a pale and worried Draco ran in.
"I can't find Harry! He told me earlier that he wanted to be alone for a while to think, so I left him alone in our room, but he's not in there now. I've searched the entire house; he's gone!"
Severus felt his stomach drop as he turned and looked at his open bathroom door once more. He saw that Draco and Remus had noticed it at the same time, but he held his hand up, keeping Draco or Remus from moving towards the door.
"Severus, what – "
"Wait here!" the Potions Master yelled, sending a glare at the werewolf as he moved towards the door, his wand held in his hand. He pushed the door all the way open, pointing his lit wand in front of him. At first glance, the bathroom looked abandoned. His strong sense of smell picked up something that made his stomach roil, however, and when he turned towards the shower, his wand fell from his limp hand.
Blood. Everywhere. And Harry...Harry. His knees hit the tiled floor, hard, before he even realized he was falling.
His breath came in short gasps as he crawled forward, unable to articulate anything as he felt warm tears cascade down his cheeks. His hand landed in something luke-warm and wet, and it took all of his willpower not to retch as he lifted his hand and saw it coated in deep red, partially congealed blood. The sound that next came out of his mouth both terrified him and made his throat raw as Remus and Draco broke into the room and flicked on the lights.
"No!" Severus screamed again as he gathered his pale, cold son into his arms. Harry was ashen and completely unresponsive. Severus knew when he saw how much blood there was spilt on the tile that there was no chance of Harry being alive. He pulled the teen closer to him as he sobbed uncontrollably into his messy hair.
"No...nononono...Please..." Severus heard Remus' voice moaning behind him. He could also hear the sound of someone else hyperventilating, and a short scuffle before a heart wrenching wail echoed off of the tiles around them. Draco was being held firmly in Remus' grasp, his face screwed up in utter anguish as tears streamed down his cheeks.
"Harry!" the young Slytherin screeched, fighting against the strong arms that held him firmly against Remus' chest. He wanted to be with Harry, hold him in his arms, shake him until the foolish boy woke up and said it was all a horrible prank.
There was the sound of many footsteps thundering up the stairs. The screams were sure to have alerted the rest of the house that something was wrong. Remus had enough sense to grab his wand and close the bathroom door, locking it and warding it. He ignored the knocks and worried questions coming from the other side as he watched the Potions Master stand, holding Harry's lifeless body in his arms still.
"Take him out of here," Severus choked out, referring to the blonde still clawing desperately at Remus' arms. The werewolf looked up into his husband's eyes, which were haunted and dead looking.
"What do I tell them?"
"Whatever you want," Severus said in a dull voice as he carried Harry over to the long counter between the two sinks that flanked the bathroom. He laid down the boy's body, and leaned over, his body wracked with sobs once more.
"Come, Draco," Remus whispered, pulling out his wand and removing the wards and locking spell. He pulled the Slytherin, who fought hard against him, back into the bedroom, locking and warding the bathroom door once more.
Molly, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George were all standing in the bedroom, watching as Remus led Draco over to the bed, forced him to take a sleeping draught, and laid the boy down. The tears that were streaking down Remus' cheeks terrified the group even more, though none of them asked what had happened.
Remus sat down at the foot of his bed, his head in his hands as he let out some of his own grief. He knew he should stay strong, but the horrible emptiness he felt inside was overwhelming.
"R-Remus?" Hermione asked softly, moving to kneel down in front of him, placing a hand gently on one of his knees.
Remus looked down at Hermione, the anguish on his face enough to tell Hermione something horrible had happened. However, the last the rest of the house had heard, Remus and Severus had gone to retrieve another Horcrux, and Hermione took it all the wrong way.
"Oh no...it's Professor Snape, isn't it? Is he...dead?" Hermione whispered, her own face reflecting Remus' pain.
Remus sighed heavily and shook his head, trying to find his voice amongst the panic and hysteria that was threatening to take him over. He couldn't say it out loud, he just couldn't. Saying it would make it real, make it true, and that was the very last thing he wanted.
"Children, I think you all need to leave and give Remus a bit of room, alright? Out with you," Molly said in a stern voice. She was giving Remus such a sympathetic look that Remus couldn't handle it anymore.
"It's Harry...He's d-dead," he gasped, feeling his throat close up as the grief and realness of it all came tumbling down on him like a ton of bricks. He heard the collective gasp, the insistence that that couldn't be true, and the choking sobs that started to take hold of Hermione, who was still kneeling before him.
"What, how? Remus, what in the name of Merlin happened?! You left Harry here; I know you forbid him from going along with you, I spoke to him just a little while ago!" Molly shrieked, her own grief obviously manifesting in rage and hysteria.
"Mum...Mum, come on," one of the twins insisted as they took hold of Molly's arm and tried to lead her from the room.
"No! How on earth did a sixteen-year-old boy die when he was supposed to be safe and sound at home?" Molly screamed, pulling her arm out of her son's grip and moving towards Remus. Everyone in the room jumped a foot when the bathroom door slammed open and a distraught looking Severus Snape stalked out.
"My son is dead because he killed himself, you incorrigible old tart! We left him here in your care while we were gone, so why don't you answer that question?" Severus roared, ignoring the terrified looks he was getting from Ron, Ginny and Hermione, who was still kneeling.
"I...we – Harry came down to dinner and ate with the rest of us, then asked us all to give him a bit of time alone. We had no idea...He never said anything about...Severus, I'm sorry," Molly wailed, her tears pouring once more as the twins crowded around her, trying to pull her away and out of the room.
Severus hadn't bothered to clean himself up. His hand was stained red, as were his knees. His robes dripped with it, a large smear covered his chest. Remus looked up and saw all of the blood, and promptly retched, shoving Hermione away when she tried to help.
"Get. Out," Severus said in a low, dangerous voice. He was shaking so bad his voice practically vibrated with the suppressed emotion. Ron and Ginny didn't waste any time; they were both still crying and looked extremely hurt and confused. Hermione followed only after Fred came over and helped her up, and George pulled away his distraught mother.
After the room had cleared, Severus stepped towards Remus, who shook his head emphatically and aimed a cleaning spell at the Potions Master's robes. He looked up into Severus' eyes, but there was nothing there but despair and an emptiness that terrified him.
"I can bring him back."
That definitely wasn't what Remus was expecting to hear. His face was scrunched up in confusion, but then he realized what Severus meant. "No, Severus, you can't. He's g-gone – "
"He's not! I can, I retrieved the ring, I know how – "
"Severus, you can't be serious! Do you want Harry back as some shadow of who he used to be? Even with the stone, Harry is dead! It won't bring him back."
"Shut up! Please..." Severus yelled, burying his face in his hands, which were still shaking uncontrollably.
Remus stood up and moved closer to the Potions Professor, pulling the man into his arms. Severus seemed to turn to liquid as he felt arms wrap around him. He went limp, his knees buckling beneath him as he clutched onto Remus with all his might and sobbed into his shoulder. Remus used his extra strength to hold his lover up, pulling him close as their tears mingled together.
"Why...We should have known, Remus, we should have been able to stop this! He never said...Oh Merlin, Harry..." Severus cried, holding Remus so close to him he was sure he was leaving bruises, but he didn't care.
"We didn't know, Severus. He never gave us any indication. We can't blame ourselves. Maybe...maybe he left a note somewhere. Did you see one?" Remus asked in a hushed voice, allowing the other man to hold onto him with bruising force.
Severus let out a choked sob as he shook his head. "All I saw was him...with my razor, Remus."
Remus clenched his eyes closed, but the tears still managed to squeeze their way out. He stood holding Severus to him for so long his legs fell asleep and his shoulders ached with the effort of holding the man up, but he didn't move, didn't try to calm Severus down. There was nothing he could do, and that was the worst part of it all. Lying in the next room was his son. Dead. Killed by his own hand.
The sound of hearts shattering and broken sobs rent the air for what seemed like hours.
"I need to put him under a stasis spell." Severus uttered the first words that came to mind after what felt like days, but was only maybe fifteen minutes of standing there, crying himself dry. If there would be any chance of bringing Harry back, they needed to stop necrosis and rigor mortis from settling in. Severus shivered at the idea.
"Severus, you can't...there isn't any way. You know magic has its limits. Anything thing that could supposedly bring him back would be dark, and it wouldn't be him; he wouldn't be Harry anymore! We need to make arrangements," Remus insisted, pulling himself slightly away from his husband as the man took over his own weight once more.
Severus pulled away completely, walking back towards the bathroom with his wand out. He took a deep breath and prepared himself for the shocking sight once more. The blood looked even darker in the bright light. He ignored it as he turned towards his son's body, and felt his heart skip a beat.
He was so pale, looked so small and broken. Severus extended his wand and tried to concentrate as hard as he could. "Subsisto corpus." Moving towards the linen closet where they kept extra sheets and towels, Severus pulled out a black sheet, and then carefully lifted Harry into his arms, wrapping the material around him. When he walked out of the bathroom, Remus was checking on Draco, making sure he was still asleep.
"I'm taking him to the lab. Please stay with Draco," Severus insisted as he carefully cradled Harry to him, using one hand to throw down some floo powder in the large hearth. "Grimmauld Place, Potions Lab." He was gone in a tower of green flame, reappearing in his small lab, just outside of the basement kitchen.
Lucius startled out of his light doze as a loud knock sounded on his door. He quickly answered the door and immediately felt his heart sink into his stomach as he saw his clearly unconscious son held in the arms of the werewolf, who looked so pale and had obviously been crying. His blood turned to ice in his very veins.
"What happened? Is he alright?" Lucius asked quickly as he allowed Remus into his room to deposit his son onto his recently occupied bed.
"Health wise, yes. Emotionally...none of us will ever be ok again," Remus said cryptically as he gently placed the blonde on the still warm bed. He hated to leave Draco here with Lucius and run off, but he and Severus just couldn't handle the boy's hysterics when they were barely holding onto their sanity as it was.
"Remus, what's happened?"
Hearing his first name from the aristocrat revealed to Remus just how worried the man really was. Perhaps he had underestimated the man's capacity to be human. His guilt for leaving Draco with the man lessened considerably. "It's Harry, he's...he's gone," he croaked, unable to say the word.
"Gone? Did he run off? I don't understand..." Lucius trailed off as he connected all the dots. If the boy had simply run away, Severus and Remus would be out hunting him down, and Draco would be right behind them. If he didn't run away, then he must be – "Oh no...I'm so sorry, Remus, I had no idea! I was sleeping. Was there an attack? I knew I should have left the Silencing charm off – "
"There was nothing you could do, Lucius. There was no attack...it was suicide. I gave Draco a sleeping potion; he was so hysterical and Severus and I panicked. I'm sorry to just dump him on you in such a state, but you understand we have our own grief to contend with..."
Lucius was stunned, completely unprepared for Remus' explanation of the Gryffindor's demise. What on earth could drive the boy to such a decision? And Draco...oh, he'd be inconsolable. How was he going to deal with this? He was horrible with comforting someone, even his own son. "I understand. I'll try to speak to him, calm him down. Give Severus my regards. I'm so very sorry."
Lucius watched as Remus simply nodded and made his way out of the room, closing the door carefully behind him. Lucius sat down on the edge of the bed beside his son, reaching out to gently brush away the too long locks of icy blonde from the boy's eyes. What was he going to say? He thought of the utter despair and life threatening grief he felt when he realized his wife had been killed. Draco would be feeling something similar, he was sure. Despite the fact that Draco and Harry were not together as long as he and Narcissa, he knew the love between them was no less than what he felt for his precious wife. Knowing he needed to wake his son and let him start the grieving process, Lucius took a deep, fortifying breath and drew his wand.
The gasp and wide eyed look Draco pierced him with clenched at Lucius' heart. It was clear the boy knew immediately what had happened as tears gathered in his blue-gray eyes and spilled over onto his cheeks, his face screwed up in pain as he curled in on himself, sobs racking his body. "Harry..." Draco moaned piteously as he clutched his sides in anguish.
"I'm so sorry, my Dragon," Lucius whispered, placing a hand gently on his son's shoulder, the boy's grief causing his own eyes to mist over. He wished he could take his only child's pain away.
Draco finally realized who he was with, and with a heart wrenching sound, sat up and wrapped his arms tightly around his father, gasping and sobbing into the man's shoulder. "Dad...It's my fault, I wasn't with him! Oh Merlin, Harry..."
Lucius clutched his son tightly to his chest, running a hand soothingly over his back and into his hair. "It was not your fault, Draco. You cannot blame yourself for the decision he made."
It seemed like hours that Draco sobbed into his shoulder, clutching so tightly Lucius was sure he would find bruises. Eventually the boy cried himself into a fitful sleep. Even then, Lucius held his son close, wishing he could do more, but there was nothing he could say. He couldn't bring Harry back, and nothing short of that would be enough to cure Draco's despair. "I'm sorry, son..."
Severus laid his son on one of the long lab tables, then pulled out his wand and transfigured a cauldron into a large bathtub. He gently placed his son in the tub, and started to conjure up water, freezing it in the air so that smooth ice crystals rained down over Harry's pale body. Once the tub was full, Severus placed the sheet over the tub, feeling his heart wrench even more as he covered his son's face.
Once back in his bedroom, Severus went back into the bathroom, and vanished the bloody mess away. He kneeled down, gathering up the razor. He held it in his palm, glaring down at it like it was the tool's fault. He turned and threw it with all his might, watching as it broke apart against the tiled wall. His hands were shaking again.
Severus reached for the handle of the faucet, but stopped as he caught sight of a folded piece of parchment lying against the porcelain. He felt his heart jump into his throat once more, and grabbed it up, calling for Remus as he did so. He unfolded it with fumbling, numb fingers, his hands shaking so badly he could hardly hold the parchment still enough to read it.
First things first; I'm so sorry. I should have told someone what I was planning, but I knew all of you would try to stop me, so I kept it to myself. I knew this was how it had to be. I knew when Pettigrew told me I was a Horcrux that my death would be the only way to be rid of that piece of soul. I also knew I couldn't possibly force one of you to do it, so I had to do it myself. I was just waiting, biding my time. When I heard that the last Horcrux had been found, I knew it was time.
I could have taken a potion, I suppose, or something less...shocking, but I couldn't exactly ask you for a poison without you getting suspicious, Dad. I'm sorry, to whoever found me this way. It was the best idea I had. And you all know how horrible some of my ideas are.
Draco, I love you so much, and I'm so sorry. I wanted to tell you so many times, but again, I knew you would try to stop me. I had to take this on alone, and I appreciate you helping me to carry the weight of the Horcruxes. If there is such a thing as Heaven or an afterlife, I'll be waiting for you here; I promise. I'm going to miss you so much.
Moony, I don't even know what to say...You've lost so many people in your life, and now you've lost me too. I'm sorry it had to be this way, but I stand by what I did. I didn't do it because I was some agonized teen wallowing in his own misery, though I might have done that a bit. I did it to save everyone else, and I hope you can understand that one day. Sometimes solutions aren't so simple. Sometimes goodbye's the only way. I'll be sure to tell Sirius and my mum and dad that you said hi and you miss them. I love you.
Dad, I know you'll probably never forgive me for this, and I don't blame you. However, I don't want you blaming yourself. This isn't your fault, not in the slightest, and I don't want you to torture yourself over this. I am so very grateful for everything you've done for me, from taking me in, to making me your son and loving me as your own, to helping me find those damn Horcruxes and bearing the burden of keeping them safe. I could never express how very much I love you, and I'm so sorry to put you through this. I promise to tell my mum how wonderful you've been, and James too, just to see him scowl. Please forgive me.
I've made a formal will with Gringott's. With news of my death, the bequests will be sent to the recipients of my estate. Grimmauld Place belongs to Severus and Remus, however, and my map and cloak go to Draco.
To everyone else I didn't address personally, most of you will be getting personal letters along with the bequests from my estate. Please accept what I've left for you as a last favour to me, and remember that I love you all, and I'm sorry. I'll see you all again someday.
Harry James Potter'
Severus read it three times before handing it off to Remus, who quickly took the parchment and read it all the way through in less than a minute. Severus was holding onto the edge of the counter, his knuckles white from his firm grip. There was nothing left to say, nothing he could say. He looked up and caught Remus' heartbroken expression in the mirror, not daring to glance at his own shattered reflection.
"We need to wake Draco."
"I've taken him to Lucius and told him what happened. I hated to leave him like that, but we can't handle his hysterics right now when we can barely handle our own. We need to talk, Severus. He's my son too, and I can't allow you to use dark magic on him. It won't bring him back, and he'd be so disappointed that you'd try something akin to Voldemort's desperate measures. Please, Severus. I know this is hard, but think of what Harry would want."
Severus scoffed as he gripped the edge of the bathroom counter, trying not to take out his fury and pain on his husband, knowing that the man was feeling the same things he was. "Obviously Harry wanted to die, seeing as how he killed himself," Severus snapped.
"He sacrificed himself, Severus. I don't think he necessarily wanted to die, but he accepted what he thought was his fate. He saw no other way, but he didn't give us enough time to even try to find a better solution. Damn it, Harry…" Remus moaned, clutching his head in his hands as he felt a surge of guilt. He should have made sure to reassure Harry more that they would find a way. What kind of father was he, to not know his son was on the brink of suicide?
"The stone is not necessarily dark, Remus. We could do it," Severus whispered, turning to his husband. His eyes were desperate, almost crazed, and Remus knew the man was only trying to deal with the pain in the way he knew how; find a solution.
"No, Severus. It was created by Death himself, and you've heard the stories; Harry wouldn't really be back, only some approximation. I'm sorry, but we just can't."
"Then what do we do, Remus? I don't want to bury my son," Severus croaked, feeling the gaping hole in his chest yawn even wider as he thought of placing Harry in some cold, impersonal box and laying him in the ground to rot, to become a feast for the vermin of the soil. He grabbed his stomach as bile surged and threatened to make an appearance.
"I don't know…
The wind was cool, but not cold, and the gusts were just the right strength to push him along on his broom. The sky was a brilliant blue, with only a few clouds, and the trees far below showed that autumn was in full swing, the reds and yellows scattering the ground. He turned his broom and flew for a few minutes, just savouring the freedom. He felt weightless, open, free, and he never wanted it to end.
"Oh, unfortunately my boy, you cannot stay here."
Harry nearly fell sideways off his broom as he heard that familiar voice, the one he hadn't heard since his last harsh goodbye. He whipped his broom around to face Dumbledore, who was floating lazily on a magic carpet that held a garish armchair. It looked positively outlandish, but so Dumbledore that Harry's chest ached.
"Sir?" was all Harry could manage as he flew his broom closer to the man. He looked younger than he had been at the time of his death, his hair and beard slightly shorter and more auburn than grey. His half-moon spectacles were missing, and both hands looked healthy and whole beneath his sparkling blue robes.
"Harry, I would say it's good to see you, but I really would rather not have met you here for many, many years," Albus said, his voice stronger than it had been in the months prior to his death.
"I'm sorry, sir, but it had to be done. Did you know, Professor? Did you know I had one inside of me?" Harry asked, hating how small and desperate his voice sounded. He didn't want the man to know how hurt he was by all of this, but that didn't matter now, right? He was dead, after all.
The late Headmaster sighed sadly, fixing Harry with such a sorrowful look that he felt his eyes begin to sting with tears. "I had hoped to be the one to tell you, my boy. I had always had plans to let you know, but I tried for a very long time to figure out just how to do so. How do you tell someone they must die, lest the whole world come to ruin under a madman's reign? I was foolish; I waited too long, just like with the Prophecy."
Harry gulped, feeling his heart sink to somewhere around his toes. So he was dead. It wasn't as though he was surprised, but it all seemed much more real now. He remembered he'd never see his family or friends again, and the grief that struck him nearly sent him toppling from his broom.
"Do not fret, Harry. You will see them all again very soon. You may have had to die to destroy the Horcrux, but the Prophecy states that one must die at the hand of the other. You died by your own hand, Harry, and so you are not truly dead. Do you know where you are?"
"The quidditch pitch, sir," Harry answered, annoyed with how gruff his voice had become. He'd planned this whole thing out; he shouldn't be surprised he was – wait, did Dumbledore just say he wasn't really dead?
"Yes, the quidditch pitch. I wondered where you'd end up, but now it seems perfectly predictable," Albus said with a little chuckle as he fondly surveyed the goal posts on either end of the pitch and the wide expanse of emerald green far below them.
Harry was lost now. Was quidditch so important to him that it became his heaven? He'd given quidditch up; that didn't make sense. "Sir?"
"This is your interstice, Harry, or the in-between. You're neither here nor there. Quidditch offered you the most joy and freedom in your life, and so in order to gently carry you to the After Life, fate decided to carry you through here. However, you'll not be making the full trip. There are some very important things I must tell you, but we must be quick. You'll need to return soon."
"I don't understand, Professor. How can I return if I'm dead?"
"Because your death was sacrificial, the Horcrux is gone. What remains is your own pure soul. You played the martyr, and so fate is giving you a second chance. It always would, Harry, as long as your death was not by Voldemort's hand. The key was your sacrifice. If you'd died in a quidditch accident, you'd have been sent back still. However, the Horcrux within you would have returned to the living world as well. You figured it out, my boy. I only wish you'd not had to go it alone."
Harry was stunned. He was going back; there was no need for a will or those letters. But it was too late; they'd be read by the time he was back, he was sure. He was not looking forward to his family's reactions to his decision. "Everyone was so sure there'd be another way, but I knew better. I don't know how, I just knew. So I was right, it was the only way?"
"Yes, Harry. I'm so sorry it had to be that way. But alas, we digress, and I cannot fathom you going back without this information. You must remember this, Harry, so pay careful attention," the Headmaster said firmly. The sparkle was back in his icy blue eyes, and Harry couldn't believe how much he'd missed that gaze.
"The Horcrux within you and the one your parents went to retrieve were not the last of the Horcruxes."
Harry nearly fell off his broom once more, and desperately wished he had something more stable, like Dumbledore's carpet. He sighed in relief when one suddenly appeared beneath him. "Are you kidding me? The bastard made more? Er…sorry, Professor."
Albus chuckled warmly once more, shaking his head slowly. "No, Voldemort did not make more than we've discussed previously, but the Horcrux I had gone to destroy the night Voldemort cornered me…I regret to say I did not have a chance to destroy it before my final duel. It is still there, Harry."
"Oh Merlin…But they have no idea! They could think that they're all gone and try to go after him!" Harry panicked, thinking of how much danger his friends and family were in if they tried to make a move without that last Horcrux.
"Now, now, Harry. Think – you had not yet figured out a way to even destroy the remaining Horcruxes, and you've not been gone long. Everyone will be too worried grieving over you to worry much about Voldemort, I assure you. Now, I made a grave mistake in not making some note of where I was going that night. I have no excuses, just my old age and concern for you. You'll remember I had promised to take you with, but changed my mind last minute?"
Harry blushed, remembering the horrible things he had said to Headmaster following the meeting where Dumbledore said he couldn't go with to retrieve the Horcrux. It was one of the biggest regrets of Harry's life, right alongside his treatment of Arthur Weasley before the man's sudden passing. He would never forget that night or his harsh words. "Yes, sir, I remember. And I'm sorry."
Dumbledore cut him off, obviously starting to worry for the amount of time they had left before Harry would somehow be sent back. "I understand my boy, truly. I do not hold it against you. I could have avoided that scene altogether if I had simply been honest with you. The reason I decided not to take you along with me after all is because the Horcrux is located in the graveyard in Little Hangleton.
"I did not want you to have to deal with such horrible memories, and so I tried to spare you by not bringing you along. I do not regret my choice not to bring you; I was killed that night because my strength had run out. I did not trust myself to be able to protect you, and I was right. However, I should have explained myself, and for that, I am very sorry."
The Headmaster had tried to protect him the whole time, and Harry had essentially wished the man dead in return. How horrible could he be? But Dumbledore had said he didn't hold it against him. However, that didn't help Harry not to feel ashamed and guilty. Harry wiped at the tears coating his cheeks, annoyed with himself once more. He'd become such a cry baby this year, and he was tired of it. He was a man now, not a child; he needed to learn how to control his emotions. Taking a deep breath, Harry pulled up a weak Occlumency shield, and the depth of his sadness and guilt felt just that much shallower. He would not apologize again, not when the Headmaster had already told him they had a time limit.
"What is it, sir, the Horcrux?"
"It is the very same scythe belonging to the statue of Death that serves as Tom Riddle Sr.'s headstone that once imprisoned you. If it had been something smaller, I simply would have tried to take it to a safer location to try to destroy it, but Tom must have had very good wards up, ones that I could not detect. He showed up very soon after I made my discovery, and it was too late by then. I did manage to lead him astray in my reasons for being there, however. I told him I was researching the connection between your brother wands, and I'm sure he believed me. He does not know we've been hunting his Horcruxes, or that we even know about them."
"How do we destroy them? We've searched every book we can find, and Hermione has come up with a few theories, but we're afraid to test them in case she's wrong."
The Headmaster fixed Harry with another one of his proud, sparkling gazes. Harry felt his spirits lift a little as he waited for the answer to that exhausted question.
"How did you destroy the diary in the Chamber of Secrets?"
"With a Basilisk fang. I stabbed it…oh!"
A/N: Of course, a cliff hanger. Did you expect differently? I won't promise to update more quickly, because that's a promise I may not be able to keep. There are only a few more chapters to go! Please review and let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to ask!