"I have no reason to believe that stone is real," said Sherlock, emotionless.

"Oh, dear!" Moriarty laughed without restraint, shaking his head and smiling before suddenly snapping into anger. "You actually…" He started off in a hostile tone, but relapsed into a smile once again. "Dear me, you wound my pride deeply with your accusation. Don't you think I deserve, if not some reverence, at least some shock? Admiration of how I thoroughly defeated you?"

"I will not shake," announced Sherlock, with amiable firmness in his voice, "nor will I break. I am willing to accept you won a round, that you scored a point, what have you—I have no reason to let that setback cost me the match."

Moriarty groaned. "Admirable attitude, though your perfect sportsmanship deprives me of the gloating I had been looking forward to so very much."

"My perfect sportsmanship also demands reciprocity. I made my move and now I await your response. Unless your unsubstantiated declaration of success is your entire move, that is." The next sound was the echoing, sinister noise of Sherlock's laughter. He did merely chuckle; he roared; he taunted. "I have waited long enough. Make your move quickly."

Moriarty opened his mouth to respond, then as though thinking better shut it again, red anger fading away and paleness returning to his face. "I see," he said slowly. Moriarty rubbed his chin thoughtfully and peered around nervously, as though stalling, before pulling out a knife from his pocket and piercing the side of his own head with it. "How is this for proof?" Moriarty asked gleefully, blood dripping.

This time, Sherlock leaped back in horror, drawing his breath in loud gasps. Childhood years spent fencing supplied a reaction in place of his wits and he moved his right foot forward, pointing at his enemy, left foot behind pointing to the side, knees bent and wand raised as though awaiting the opportunity to lunge. Cold sweat overtook him like a sudden spell, and his stomach turned.

"As you can see, I'm very much alive," said Moriarty, knife still sticking out of the side of his head. "This should be evidence enough I have the stone with me. Are you willing to listen now?"

"Yes," said Sherlock, eyes fixated on his moonlit enemy. "I'll accept you have the stone and await your explanation of how."

Moriarty—wand long put away—had been pacing around the rooftop, moving his neck from side to side as though mildly inconvenienced by the knife. He pulled it out in one go and blood poured out of the gaping wound for a single moment before closing immediately. "Your explanation from before was spot on," Moriarty started in an academic tone. He paused, then added, "Timeline aside, of course. I did threaten Voldemort and I did find out how to get past every defense of the stone—the final one, Dumbledore's, took some work. Only someone who wanted to use the stone, but not use it, could have taken it from the mirror. Quite a noble, gentle solution." He paused. "Of course, all I took that to mean was that I needed an imbecile to steal it for me. Are you familiar with the Imperius curse?"

"An unforgivable curse," Sherlock muttered slowly.

"Oh, come on now. I've already admitted to aiding the worst of dark wizards, at a certain point you become so damned if ever caught by the proper authorities you have no reason not to break more laws—I mean what are they going to do, give me the dementor's kiss twice?"

"You misunderstand me." Sherlock's voice was soft, but steady in spite of the sweat dripping from his forehead. "I wasn't complaining about your methods…just surprised that you can cast such a difficult curse at your age."

"Thank you," Moriarty said earnestly. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep your genius a secret from everyone?"

"Not quite. Unlike you, I operate in the light, Jim."

Moriarty opened his arms wide, gesturing at the darkness around them, in a transparent display of false confusion. Sherlock harrumphed, but said nothing. Upon the silence, Moriarty cleared his throat. "Ah, well. I suppose you like to pretend you are different. That's fine. Now, you can guess the rest—I never really took the stone from that room. I just produced some Elixir of Life and then returned it there. Nicolas Flamel was bound to need some Elixir from time to time, so it's natural that there were no alarms set about the stone being taken out of the mirror…only about it being taken out of the castle or maybe the room where the mirror was in. Well! For a couple months, every night I made my way past every trap, stole some Elixir of Life, then put the stone back where it was like a good gentleman thief. No one was the wiser. Not Voldemort, not Dumbledore…and not you, Sherlock Holmes."

"Let me guess," said Sherlock, "and tonight, Voldemort actually meant to steal the stone himself…so you are trying to escape from him?"

"My dear Holmes, one does not escape from Voldemort! Once that dedicated lunatic sets his eyes on you, you're dead! There are no exceptions!" Moriarty smiled. "But that isn't completely true, is it? There is one person who did survive him."

Realization set in like a punch to the gut. Sherlock grit his teeth just as Moriarty showed his in a wide grin. "You set this up," Sherlock said slowly, "the clues you left behind…you wanted me to force your hand…you wanted things to turn out like this, didn't you? You wanted me to come after you…so that Harry can defeat Voldemort for you."

"Quite the plan, isn't it?" said Moriarty, false modesty in his voice nearing mockery. "I'm proud of myself for that one, I am. I don't think I can defeat Voldemort, oh no. I'm confident of my skills but I'm not delusional. Only one person has ever defeated him…so I set things up in a way that your little hero could do what he does best—sweep in, defeat the evil wizard, save the day! This way, the only person who could catch me will be defeated by the brave little hero and I get to ride into the sunset with a considerable—" Moriarty stopped, cut short by a jet of red sparks flying past his left ear.

"You need not fear Voldemort," Sherlock spoke slowly, an air of indifferent disdain around his words. "Because I will catch you first."

"Oh my, you're angry, aren't you?" said Moriarty, laughing. "I understand—you are angry that you have put your friend in harm's way for something that will ultimately benefit me. You are angry that you cannot stop me. So much so that you have resorted to simple violence."

"A move does not become ineffective just because it is inelegant. My simple violence is enough to stop you. I acknowledge that you are a more experienced wizard, but I'm willing to lunge myself at you and tumble down the castle with you. Even should you be fast enough to cast a killing curse at me—not a certainty with this distance, especially if I approach you from the side—my corpse would still drag you from that wall to the bottom of the lake. You can't survive the fall, or at the very worst you'll attract enough attention teachers will find you while you are still recovering from the damage I inflicted upon you." With his free hand, Sherlock mimicked picking up an invisible chess piece and moving it around a board. "My Harry takes your Voldemort, my self takes your madness, my school sees to it that your plan fails. Checkmate."

"I wonder," Moriarty said musingly as he pointed his wand at him, "if you care so little of your life to casually discard it in an attempt to stop me. It is a bold move, but sometimes that's what it takes to achieve victory. Nonetheless…"

Suddenly, Sherlock felt a wand pressed against the side of his neck. The stranger leaned in closer, and whispered in his ear, "My pawn moves to the end of the board, and I promote him to myself." The stranger also had Moriarty's voice.

"Moste Potente Potions," said Sherlock, eyes wide. His mind raced, and his mouth struggled to catch up. "When I saw you for the first time…polyjuice potion…and the unforgivable curse Imperius…"

"Nooooooow!" said the first Moriarty, voice maniacal. "This is my move! Which one of us I the real one, Mr. Holmes? Surely you are correct about tackling me off the rooftop…but are you clever enough, I wonder? Clever enough…to bet your death that you know who the real me is?"

The moon, now unhindered of any clouds, cast a silver glimmer of light upon the three wizards. Wind whopped past the three, blowing against the castle's rocky walls and rising up once again. Only the first Moriarty's impatient tapping of his finger sounded in the air. "Well?" he asked. "What is your move, Mr. Holmes? Who are you going to try to kill?"

"Why are you doing this?" Sherlock asked slowly. "You could have killed me many times over. Regardless of whether the one behind me is the real one or a fake one…you have him under your command. You could have him kill me already."

"Maybe I want you to join me?" Moriarty said lazily.

"You are not that much of an idiot," Sherlock answered dryly.

"Maybe…I just…" the second Moriarty begun, fading out in a ghostly echo of Fred and George, and the first Moriarty finished, "want to play?"

"I see," Sherlock said. "In that case I should not keep you waiting, then. I should show you my move."

"Please," the first Moriarty said, in a polite tone.

"I acknowledge I have no experience as a wizard. I am not as talented at vanquishing evil as Harry, and frankly I lack the discipline to study what doesn't interest me like Hermione does. Nonetheless, even failure can be quite powerful." Sherlock pointed his wand to the ground. "Now, suppose I attempted to transfigure the floor—even if I fail…what will happen to your footing? To our footing?"

Both Moriartys allowed a moment of silence. "I see we have moved on from chess to fencing. Allow me to say then…" The first Moriarty trailed off, and the second picked up. "Touché. You've got me. I don't believe for a second you can turn the floor into anything you want…but I believe you are just talented enough to change the floor into an unrecognizable mess. I wouldn't be surprised if you understood what parts of the rooftop to attack to make it most unstable. With that…why, you could kill both me and my double at once."

The first Moriarty laughed mockingly. "As I'm sure you are aware, fencing is quite the subtle sport. You bluff a thousand times for every actual thrust you attempt. Here, I call your bluff. I don't even need to parry it, because I trust you won't thrust your arm forward…you talk big…but you won't kill an innocent person for justice. You are still just a kid." The Second Moriarty echoed the first's laugh. "My response is this—nothing! I drop my guard. Attack if you will, coward."

Sherlock studied the moment. "You are not wrong…" His voice was filled with regret. "I am too soft…I will gladly sacrifice myself to beat you, but not an innocent person." The regret crossed over into bitterness, and Sherlock nearly spat out those last words.

"You seem angry towards this innocent person I used," the first Moriarty said happily. "Almost like you hate him for getting in the way of our duel…why not just sacrifice him?"

"Because Harry would be upset and Hermione would never let me hear the end of it," Sherlock said bitterly, and then widened his eyes at his own words. He hadn't expected himself to say that. The wind blew colder, and the ghost of a smile passed by his lips then. "If there is one thing they taught me, is how much I scare them sometimes…"

"Your move, Sherlock. I'm growing impatient. What are you going to use now, I wonder? What kind of mental blade will you try slashing me up with?"

"None. Mycroft taught me épée fencing, not saber. It is a stabbing weapon, not a slashing one. Thus," Sherlock begun, picking up the knife Moriarty had tossed aside earlier, "my move is this!" In a quick move, Sherlock stabbed his own hand with the knife.

Neither Moriarty spoke for a moment. Sherlock grinned, rubbed his wand on his own blood, knelt down and begun tracing it slowly on the ground. "This is what will defeat you, Jim Moriarty! My final attack, which I shall write in my own blood."

Both Moriartys barely sneered, as if the dramatic gesture had been insufficient to warrant a reaction, then a quiet laugh came. "Harry Potter? Is that what you wrote? Is that supposed to be funny?" Both Moriartys spoke simultaneously and incredulously. "You mean that's your final move? The power of friendship? My dear, I thought you were my intellectual equal, not this sentimentalist simpleton!"

"You are right…I am not your intellectual equal." Sherlock said in a low tone. "You know…you really are brilliant, Moriarty. And a genius wizard too." After a moment's silence, he went on. "It took me a while to understand it…your twin wand setup. You have positioned the second Moriarty's wand against the extreme right side of my neck, such that it's pointed towards me…and the first Moriarty. Meanwhile, the first Moriarty points his wand at me but could very well be pointing it at the second Moriarty. In other words, one of you is using an unspoken Imperius to control the other…and I can't tell which is which. An unspoken unforgivable curse…what a talented dark wizard. I could never cast a spell like that."

"Why, Mr. Holmes, there is no need to put yourself down so much. That's too much modesty!"

"I assure you, I'm doing no such a thing. I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To me all things should be stated as they are, and to underestimate myself would be as mistaken as exaggerating my own skills. This is just how things are. You had a wonderful setup, and much greater powers than I possess. But," Sherlock added, like an afterthought, "just as there are things I cannot do, you cannot read minds."

Moriarty was silent for a moment. "What do you mean?"

"If you could read minds…you would have stolen the stone much, much sooner than two months ago."

"What do you mean?" Both Moriartys repeated angrily.

"Just now…I wrote down my plan in blood. But you know, even though you can see what I wrote plain as day…I'm kneeling down in front of it. From this angle, the Moriarty behind me should not be able to read what I wrote. Thus, since you were quite correct about what I wrote and you could not have not known it if you were behind me…the Moriarty in front of me is the real one."

It was less a laugh and more a victorious roar. Sherlock laughed and laughed, uncaring to the fact he remained surrounded. A mad grin on his face, he spat out, "I have won, Moriarty. A suicide tackle is enough to kill us both before you can kill me…not that you could, if you tried. Even now you are pointing your wand at your double, controlling him. Even assuming he's a weak-willed dumbass, it must take all of your considerable concentration to cast an unspoken spell like that. If you tried to kill me, you would need to stop casting that spell and he would regain control of himself, wouldn't he?"

"You could have won, Moriarty. From the moment I stepped onto this rooftop, you could have outdueled me any day…but your problem was that you tried to outsmart me. You tried to win too beautifully."

"You are like a hound, Mr. Holmes," Moriarty said quietly. "A hound out on a hunt…and you've caught my scent. I'm…amazed. You are correct, you can kill us both from this distance before I can do anything…but you know…I can still escape…by distracting you with another target." Without hesitation, Moriarty pulled out the philosopher's stone from his pocket. "Suppose I tossed this into the lake now. I have extracted enough gold and Elixir from it not to need it unless I want immortality, which I do not, so this is a believable move for me to make. Well…would you come after me, or after the stone?"

"Why don't you toss it in the lake and find out?" Sherlock asked impassively.

"Very well."

With no hesitation, Moriarty tossed the stone off the rooftop and toward the lake beneath. The stone flew a surprising height, betraying an arm strength Sherlock wouldn't have guessed the boy to possess. Once it disappeared from sight, Moriarty turned his neck around, a hopeful grin fading upon seeing Sherlock's unmoving stance. "The secret to immortality and gold, possibly lost forever…and you would rather keep me from escaping?"

"You know what I saw in that mirror," Sherlock said softly. "You know how much I want this…you should have known I wouldn't chase after the stone. You're slipping. Unless…you caught on to the fact you won't be able to escape with the stone and are hoping to use its recovery as a distraction."

"There are many dark creatures in the Forbidden Forest, Mr. Holmes. Suppose one of them picked up the stone? One of those disgusting centaurs or a giant spider? My, the world is not ready for it! Dumbledore and the others will prioritize it over catching me, I'm sure. I would also hope that they would be distracted by Voldemort…but I suppose that would be foolish of me, wouldn't it?"

"Absolutely. I have full faith that Harry and Hermione will stop him."

"I see…so the gameboard, the fencing piste, what have you, it's ready for us now! The stone was tossed somewhere as a distraction—I have a broomstick hidden behind me as a escape method, by the way—and you have full faith Harry will defeat Voldemort. You prevented me from escaping with the stone, but I have still full confidence I can escape with my life and reunite myself with the Elixir I already extracted from the stone."

"How?" Sherlock barked. "You can't attack me without losing control over the fake Moriarty behind me, and you can't make him attack me without enough of a delay for me to tackle you down the bloody castle."

"First, I'll inform you the name of the weak-willed man I've turned into a pawn. His name is Neville Longbottom. Second…"

Sherlock felt the wand pressed against his neck slowly retreating, and a chill went down his spine. He knew what was happening before the explanation came…because it was the same move he would have made in that situation. "I have ordered my double to walk away from you, Sherlock. Do you know why?"

"Because you are going to make him keep walking." Sherlock did not turn around to confirm this. "You…you are going to make him walk off the rooftop and kill himself."

"Precisely. And here's my move—I accept you are mad enough to toss yourself off the castle with me. But do you think we would reach the bottom quick enough to dispel my Imperius curse? Or do you think the poor weak-willed bastard I took over would die with us? Well, make your choice! Time is ticking down as we speak. If you take too long to save him, he'll dive right off the rooftop…but the moment you turn around...well, I'll fly out of the school grounds and disapparate. So, make your choice Sherlock! Will you let an innocent man die to stop me?"

"I…" Something in Sherlock's voice, something of the weary, something of the human in him came to light then. And he hated himself for it. His wand arm shook—there was still time to tackle Moriarty, to catch him, to defeat him. Images of Neville's crying in the flying lessons flashed in his mind, over and over again. I only saved him to have an excuse…I don't care about anyone, I…And even in his own mind, the words rang unconvincing.

"Damn you, Harry Potter," Sherlock muttered . "Damn you for making me…damn you, Neville…damn you, Moriarty…damn all of you!"

With a sprinting start, he turned around and chased after the cursed Neville. The effects of the Polyjuice potion had begun to wear off by now, and he only retained some of Moriarty's hair now. Sherlock leaped at him, pushing him off to the side and keeping him from the edge of the castle.

Knowing it to be useless, Sherlock looked back at where Moriarty used to be, finding only shadows now. "Damn it all to hell!"

"Sherlock?" Neville asked timidly, opening his eyes." I—I'm sorry. W-what happened, I don't—"

"You should be sorry, you useless imbecile! Because of you Moriarty—no, because of Harry, because of…me, bloody hell!" Sherlock punched the ground beside the boy, causing Neville to recoil in fear, but he paid no mind to it. "How did you let him control you? How—you could have resisted it, it was an unspoken Imperius curse, you must have stronger willpower than…"

"I'm s-sorry," Neville said, tears brimming over his eyes. "I'm so sorry...I didn't mean to do anything…I just want this all to be over…please…please, is it over yet?"

Something about his plea caused Sherlock to regain some of his composure. "No," he said slowly. "Not yet…" He glanced down at the castle. Somewhere down there, a fight entirely unlike his own must still be happening and they would have to hurry if they meant to reach it before it reached its end. "Stand up…the night is not done yet. Work is the best antidote to sorrow, and there is still much to do."

Sherlock meant that as much to Neville as to himself.

A/N: Well, if anyone is following this since the beginning…after a ton of personal problems, I've resolved to finally follow through with this story. It was bugging me that I let it stay at that horrible cliffhanger for so many years. I mean to eventually go through the entire story and rewrite it a bit, but for now I just want to see it through to the end. Hope you enjoy it!