Chapter 25: The Beginning of the End
Harry paced the corridor for the eighth time, but the entrance didn't open.
He tapped his foot for a moment or two, before turning and leaving.
Potter, where are you?
The door wouldn't show up. I'm going to the kitchen to ask a house-elf if they can get in and find out who's in there.
And do you think that'll work? The house-elves generally don't agree to follow student requests.
All else fails, I can ask Professor Black.
It's good to see you thinking, Potter.
I'm glad to appease your ego. In which case, I've been thinking about something else.
A line from the prophecy, thought Harry. Neither can live while the other survives.
I thought that would be obvious, Potter. It says neither can live, while the other survives. Thus, if both of us live, then neither of us are surviving. Therefore, the prophecy has been fulfilled and we don't have to deal with it.
I'm… not entirely certain it's supposed to work that way, replied Harry.
Prophecies are what we make of them. If we give them weight, and give them credence, then they have power.
I more meant the English language. Doesn't neither mean not either? As in, none of the above?
There was silence for a moment, as Harry walked past the Hufflepuff common room, and up to the painting of a fruit bowl.
Harry didn't bother to reply as he tickled the pear and stepped into the kitchens, flagging down an elf.
"Hows can Kinder help Mister Student, sir?" asked the elf.
"Would it be possible for you to tell me who is presently using the Come and Go room?" asked Harry.
"Kinder can do that for Mister Student, sir," replied Kinder. The elf popped away, and another elf brought Harry a glass of pumpkin juice. He thanked the elf, and took a seat at the small table while he waited for Kinder to return.
"Mister Student Sir? Kinder apologizes, but Kinder can't get into the Room."
"Thank you for trying, Kinder. Do you know the reason why?"
"The room stops me, Mister Student Sir."
"That's very helpful, Kinder. Can I ask for your help later with finding out who's using the room?"
"Of course, Mister Student Sir."
"Thank you, Kinder. You've been very helpful."
Kinder nodded, and Harry left the kitchen.
Someone's in the room, and blocking access, said Harry.
The elves can't get in, but I asked for the elves to find out who steps out of it.
Harry went off to the DADA office to give Sirius the news.
Snape didn't know what Theodore Nott was doing, although he was trying to find out. All Theodore did was show up for lunch and class, before disappearing back to wherever he had been. It had Severus worried, as he knew it meant the Dark Lord had a way into the castle, or would have one soon.
"Mister Nott, stay after class," said Snape, examining Theodore's potion.
"Yes, Professor?" asked Theodore.
"I am aware that the Dark Lord has given you a mission."
"Yes, Professor," replied Theodore.
"You are already beginning to wear yourself out. You must slow down, or you will cause mistakes."
"I don't have time, Sir," replied Theodore. "The Dark Lord wants it done by Halloween... and if I don't, well..."
"Speak no more," said Snape, seeing the nervousness on Theodore's face. "I am well aware of the price of failure. Pair up with Miss Bulstrode, and give her all of your class notes. There are several charms she can use to create your homework to cover for you. I will begin brewing several different nutrient and awareness potions for you, to prevent any mistakes in your judgment. I will also deal with any questions about your absence from the dorms."
Theodore breathed a sigh of relief.
"Should you need additional wands, there are several students loyal to the cause who can be used."
"The Dark Lord said I alone must do it," replied Theodore.
Snape nodded, and then dismissed him. Snape determined he would speak with Dumbledore before lunch.
Theodore Nott is practically living in the Room of Requirement, thought Harry, as he walked from Lunch to Transfiguration.
Interesting, thought back Riddle. Ah, I already realize my counterpart's plan. There is a vanishing cabinet in the Room of Requirement-
"Mister Potter?" asked Professor McGonagall, as Harry walked into the Transfiguration classroom.
"Yes, Professor?" asked Harry.
"The Headmaster wishes to speak with you after dinner."
"Right, Professor. Thank you."
"Of course. The password for the gargoyle is Cockroach Clusters."
"Any idea what that's about?" asked Rachel.
"Not really," replied Harry.
Professor Dumbledore wants to see me after dinner, tonight.
Speak with Sirius, and have your parents there with you. I suspect he has determined something. In all likelihood, he knows of the Horcruxes, especially if he already acquired the Diary.
Right. The vanishing cabinet?
It's a portal between two locations. Step in one, and step out the other. With one in the Room of Requirement, and the other in Borgin and Burke's in Diagon Alley.
Not just the Diadem. The school itself. He means to kill you as soon as he can, and hopes to do so by surprise.
Which explains why Theodore is practically living in there.
Correct. Dumbledore has likely found out at least part of this, and wishes to speak with you to somehow prepare you for this.
"You alright, Harry?" asked Rachel.
"Listening to the voices in your head?" she asked.
"You know, I didn't mean that literally," said Rachel.
"That means you're going to tell me something," she added.
Harry groaned internally.
Potter, why do I feel as though you have done something both incredibly stupid, and also that will annoy me to no end?
Riddle rubbed his forehead while seated in his apartments at his own home. He rarely took dinner in the castle, preferring the comfort of home. Also, it let him relax from the ever-growing headache that was Potter, even if the boy was efficient at dealing with his counterpart.
"What is it, M'lord?" came Bellatrix's voice from behind him.
"Potter," grumbled Riddle.
"My poor Dark Lord," replied Bellatrix. Riddle could hear her smile, and the lightest touch of mockery. "What has he done now?"
"He accidentally revealed that he still is in communication with me to my counterpart's daughter," replied Riddle.
"Or perhaps our daughter sussed it out," replied Bellatrix. "She is our daughter, after all."
"Perhaps," replied Riddle.
"And perhaps there is something we can do that would annoy him in return?"
"And what do you have in mind?" asked Riddle, as hands wrapped around his torso.
"I think you can figure that out," came a whisper in his ear.
For the third time in five minutes, Harry swallowed while staring at his food in the dining hall. His face was beet red.
"Oh, come on, it wasn't that bad," said Rachel.
"That's not it," replied Harry.
"Then what is it?"
"My scar's acting up," said Harry.
"You don't look like it's acting up," commented Hermione.
"Well... no... it can be different at times."
"What sort of different?" asked Rachel.
"You don't want to know," said Harry.
"Just tell me, Harry," said Rachel.
Harry frowned, his face turning even redder, before pulling her close and whispering in her ear.
She turned beet red.
"Told you," replied Harry. "At least you don't have to deal with it."
"No, no I don't," contemplated Rachel.
"And I have to see Dumbledore after this, and James and Lily will be there, too."
"Well... maybe you should project back?" asked Rachel.
"Project what back?"
Rachel thought about this for a moment.
"I don't know, maybe Dumbledore performing fellatio on Snape?"
Harry went from red to green. "Yes, but if I do, what will he project back?"
"Oh... sorry, then," replied Rachel.
"What's going on?" asked Hermione.
"I'll tell you later," said Rachel.
Harry didn't get a chance to knock on the door, the door opening for him at the head of the spiral staircase. Harry smiled at James and Lily, who were seated at one end of the office, and glanced at Snape who was at the other end, disgusted at being in the same room as James.
"Professors," said Harry.
"Have a seat, Mister Potter," said Dumbledore. "I am hoping you might be able to shed some light on a mystery for me. Severus, if you would start?"
"Of course. Theodore Nott is performing an unknown task within the castle. He has been charged with performing the task alone and not trusting his fellow students or myself with any of the details. It must be completed by Halloween, or members of his family will likely be tortured and killed."
"Thank you, Severus. Normally, I would keep this information to myself. However, I have been investigating certain artifacts related to Voldemort's continued existence. Once I found the Diary, I determined that Voldemort had created a rather detestable object known as a Horcrux. I will not discuss the method, beyond stating that no sane being would do so, but the result is unmistakable. As long as such objects exist, Voldemort is immortal."
"I had hoped to locate another of his by examining sites of Voldemort's childhood, and determined that one was in his maternal family's residence. Sadly, it had been removed."
Harry nodded, then looked at James and Lily.
"Whatever you decide, Harry," said James.
Harry looked back at Dumbledore.
"It was destroyed."
Dumbledore smiled, breathing a sigh of relief.
"Do you know how many are left?"
"Voldemort's snake, Nagini, is the only remaining one," said Harry.
"And just how did you destroy them?"
"Gringotts guard dragon," filled in James. "Four galleons a pop."
Dumbledore was honestly surprised at this, and then happily nodded.
"So that leaves one remaining. Do you know anything of Mister Nott's approaching deadline?"
What do you think?
He is being cooperative, and he likely does wish to protect the students. As hesitant as I am to reveal anything, I would recommend stating the existence of the Vanishing Cabinet.
"There's a room on the 7th floor, that the elves call the Come and Go Room. More commonly, it's called the Room of Requirement. It's a room that can be called forth containing the school's lost and found. There's a damaged Vanishing Cabinet in there. Its mate is probably in Borgin and Burke's, if it hasn't already been moved elsewhere."
Dumbledore paused, deep in thought, before nodding.
"Voldemort means to assault the castle, then?"
"Yeah. He'll also be pissed when he finds the Horcrux in that room to be missing."
"Then plans must be made. Thank you, Mister Potter. Severus, please provide any further aid you can to Mister Nott."
"The house-elves are already feeding him in the room and one of the other students is covering his classwork," replied Severus, before turning and leaving, not glancing at James and Lily.
"Well, that went well," said James.
"Quite," said Dumbledore. "Harry, I presume your plan is to use Priori Incantatum?"
"That is exceedingly dangerous, if you should fail..."
"I've succeeded before," said Harry.
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, before nodding. He sat back and ran his hand through his beard.
Author's Note: No one expects to see the banished arisen! Or something. Blame Luan Mao for that bit, as he beta'd this, too.
Yeah, the bug hit me to finish this one. Now I just have to figure out the ending for this mess. Sadly, it won't be epic like Jamie Evans. This Harry doesn't lend himself to epic-ness.