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Chapter One


The smile which had been present on Voldemort’s face when Severus Snape had finally shown him his memory of killing Dumbledore had been almost frightening but he knew it was a good thing. It had to be a good thing, right? He had just killed the leader of Voldemort’s opposition… his own mentor.

He sank back onto the bed wondering for the millionth time that night whether death would have been better for him. Dumbledore would have been alive and Potter wouldn’t be attempting to beat Voldemort on his own. A smirk touched Severus’s face. He knew that Potter would be trying to go it alone, almost certainly believing that because Dumbledore had entrusted the secrets of the Horcruxes to him then he must be the one to destroy them.

Wormtail was still downstairs, still wandering about almost silently, eavesdropping on anything and everything he could. Mostly fire calls from other Death Eaters and one instance of a meeting with Voldemort. That one had almost cost the rat his life.

Severus hit his head hard on the wall as he stared through the dirty windows into the Muggle street beyond. Dumbledore, the old fool! How were they expected to win with only Potter?! It was ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous!

The boy had three Horcruxes to destroy and, knowing him, he won’t tell anyone else about their existence. He pitied the Order round about now; he knew that one of them, most likely Lupin or Minerva, would be trying to get the information from the youth with little to no success.

A shout greeted him from the room below and he knew that it was Narcissa. Since he had assisted Draco on his mission to kill Dumbledore the woman had been calling frequently, either to thank him repeatedly in a hysterical voice or offer him her services. Usually he sent her away to her son of whose safety she was so thankful and more than once he wished that he could send Wormtail with her. The rat was more of a hindrance than a help most of the time.

Dumbledore, why?! his mind yelled as Narcissa shouted up to him. Severus sighed, knowing that she wouldn’t leave until she had found him. He was always in and she was fully aware of it. Of course in the back of his mind he knew that if he hadn’t killed Dumbledore then he would have died for breaking the Unbreakable Vow and then one of the other Death Eaters would have done the deed.

“Severus?!”

“I’m here,” Severus said as he descended down the stairs to see the tall blond woman waiting for him. He almost envied Lucius for having the only woman with a heart in the Death Eater ranks, although her heart clearly only beat for her family.

“The Dark Lord requires your presence,” she said softly and he nodded. There was nothing else this time but he would almost have rather had the mindless thanks of the woman than the cold glare of Voldemort. He was trusted now, without question, but that did not mean he was liked, closer to treasured.

He threw the Floo powder into the grate after Narcissa had left and stepped into the flames without muttering a word. The Order may think that they had lost him for good but he would be there for them when he was needed; he was their spy still, loyal only to them and they would acknowledge that in the end.


*


“Harry, please!” Remus begged for the last time. He felt moments away from hitting his head on the wall and perhaps it showed because Harry sighed and ran his fingers though his hair. “Look, you cannot do this alone! Dumbledore had help from the Order and you have it too! You cannot do this all by yourself.”

Harry looked at him as if to ask ‘why ever not?’ but didn’t respond. The younger of the two was sitting on the edge of his bed at number four, Privet Drive and was still quite annoyed that Lupin had followed him. Nonetheless he felt quite impelled to accept the help of the Order; surely thirty heads were better than three.

“If you’re so adamant in refusing our assistance then just tell me why,” Remus said as he stopped pacing the small room and stared down at Harry, holding his gaze. His green eyes were cool and shielded, hiding all traces of emotion for once. With a wry smile, Remus knew that Severus would be proud.

“No one has the time for it!” Harry exclaimed and watched as Lupin looked startled, confused and amused all in quick succession. He knew already what he was going to say to him in response and waited for him to put the obvious into words.

“‘No one has the time for it’?!” Remus repeated and stared at Harry in pure amazement and yet there was something in the way that he held the expression on his face without a waver. The strange bored mask which told Remus that he was certain he was in the right. “Of course they have the time for it! What else is more important than defeating Voldemort?!” He resumed his pacing, strongly resisting the urge to start rambling incoherently about Harry’s current stupidity.

“Exactly. The Horcruxes—” Remus stared at him and Harry winced, damning himself for so foolishly giving away crucial information. He was almost certain that only he and Dumbledore were aware that Voldemort had created six Horcruxes – the sixth originally having been failed upon Harry’s reversal of the Killing Curse all those years ago but now completed in the snake, Nagini. Now it appeared that he had said the one word which would almost have thrust the Order upon him.

“Horcruxes?!” Lupin repeated hoarsely and Harry nodded, inwardly smiling at the man’s almost concealed panic. He had been a teacher of Defence Against the Dark Arts for one year and would have knowledge on the subject, even if it was a banned topic at Hogwarts.

Remus wanted to shout and hex Dumbledore’s memory to shreds. He knew that if he didn’t keep his mind on the matter at hand he would soon find himself going to Minerva’s office and yelling and cursing Dumbledore’s portrait there for his inconceivable foolishness. How could he have thought that not telling anyone about such a thing would ever turn out okay?!

He took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. It would not do to begin ranting in front of Harry when he was there to convince him to accept the help of similarly logically minded, collected individuals such as himself. But surely Dumbledore should have said something to someone! Fair enough, the man always seemed so indestructible but surely he knew that at some stage he would be killed… then what?

“As I was saying…” Harry began again and watched Lupin’s back as he gripped the windowsill tightly, his knuckles were whitening and his eyes were fixed upon the street beyond.

“How can he not have told anyone?!” Remus said suddenly, spinning round to face him. He knew that he didn’t look well; indeed, he wasn't in a state of particularly good health and so he was fully aware of the weak image he must be giving to Harry but he had stopped caring.

“He did tell someone: me,” Harry retorted simply. He watched Lupin stare at him in disbelief for a moment before a smile crossed his face. Harry was readying himself for the amusement that his voice would hold when he responded and was surprised when it held none at all.

“As little as I want to offend you, Harry: you do not have the strength it takes to defeat Voldemort alone. If you are to find and destroy the Horcrux he made then you will need assistance.” He stared at Harry, hoping that at some point soon he would see the error of his ways and accept the help being offered to him. Remus raised an eyebrow when Harry smiled and looked close to laughter but it was pained; there was no mistaking that. “What’s so funny?”

“Horcrux…” Harry smiled. “You say it as if he only made one.” He watched as Lupin’s mouth fell open slightly and his eyes widened. He hadn’t wanted to have to do it this way; he didn’t want to shock and possibly horrify the man but Lupin had given him little choice in the matter.

“How many did he make?” Remus asked him, his voice much more quiet than before. Even in a strictly Muggle area he did not enjoy speaking about the tabooed subject, especially when they were speaking of the multiple ones that Voldemort made.

“Well he tried to make six so that he would have had seven,” Harry told him and noted with a slight feeling of satisfaction that Lupin looked quite horrified, or very nearing the state that he had been in when Harry told him Dumbledore had died.

“He tried to make six?” Lupin asked him and Harry smiled slightly when he did; the man didn’t miss a thing. He was pacing again now and Harry wondered briefly whether he would begin to wear down the carpet by the time they left.

Remus knew why six – it would make a total of seven. The most powerful magical number and he would have been almost indestructible had he managed to do so. He could only hope that Harry had stopped him before he had reached anywhere near his targeted number.

“He only managed five,” Harry said, “before I reversed the Killing Curse on him all those years ago.” The fact that five Horcruxes still existed and had to be hunted down was still a heavy blow to Remus and he winced at the number. The effect of Harry informing him that only one had failed to have been made was as minimal to him as it was to Harry when Dumbledore informed him during the previous year.

“So we have to find and destroy five Horcruxes as well as Voldemort himself,” Remus stated and sighed as he rested his head against the window pane, the cool glass felt good against his warm skin and he closed his eyes in disbelief.

“No, he made the sixth and final Horcrux after his ‘rebirth’ in the form of the giant snake, Nagini. Or so Dumbledore believed,” Harry informed him and Remus thought he could feel the colour draining out of his face.

“That would explain how you could see through the snake’s eyes when you saw Arthur Weasley…” Remus broke off, wondering whether the shock he felt had somehow removed any tact he had ever possessed at the grimace on Harry’s face. “So we have six Horcruxes to get rid of now.”

“There aren’t six Horcruxes to get rid of, don’t worry. Dumbledore destroyed one – hence his hand, I destroyed another inadvertently in my second year and what do you mean ‘we’?!” Harry demanded and Lupin turned around to him with a smile on his face which only annoyed Harry further. “With all due respect, Professor, there is no ‘we’. There are four Horcruxes and a madman which I must destroy, not you!” He watched as Lupin smiled and shook his head. He looked as if he was about to laugh but Harry felt far from the feeling himself.

“For starters you can stop calling me ‘Professor’ right now, I’ve not taught you in years, Harry!” he said with a smile, amusement bubbling within him. “I wouldn’t let you deal with one Horcrux and Voldemort, let alone four!”

“Look, Professor—” Harry began.

“Remus…”he corrected and Harry rolled his eyes.

“Fine, Remus, you’re failing to understand that I’m not giving you a choice here. You are not having anything to do with the Horcruxes or Voldemort!” Harry almost shouted. Remus stopped smiling and held Harry’s infuriated gaze with his own, wondering why he would be so stubborn about the matter.

“You cannot stop me; you aren’t the only one who opposes Voldemort and, prophecy or not, you are not going to be alone in this,” Remus said to him calmly, although Harry could see that he was quickly losing his patience, which he had previously thought of as infinite, with him. “Anyway, what was that you were saying about people being too busy?” He quickly changed the conversation away from a potential argument with Harry towards earlier topics.

“Of course they are… McGonagall and Hagrid teach, you’ve been infiltrating Greyback’s society thing and now you’ll be all busy with Tonks—” he shot Remus a sly look at this point “—and everyone else have jobs, marriages, family… that kind of thing!”

“I see, so you think that you can do this alone because everyone else has family and jobs keeping them back?” Remus asked although he didn’t expect a reply. “Interesting theory although no one works for twenty four hours a day, jobs can be given up and do not even get me started on Tonks!”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked, suddenly wondering whether he and Tonks had been so short lived that they were no longer together after a grand total of one month.

Harry was now nearing the age of seventeen, which he would reach in the next week. He had spent the last month or so since Dumbledore’s funeral at the Dursleys’, mostly lost in thought and with nowhere else to go. He would most likely have been thrown out long since were they actually able to get into his room. Harry had been making sure that they didn’t come near him and, with the threat of magic hovering over their heads, they did little to stop him. Of course it was only Harry's word they had that he could use magic, but none of them particularly wanted to try it on especially since Petunia recalled her sister's use of magic after her sixth year in the school.

Although he could not legally use magic out of school until the age of seventeen, the Dursleys were not aware of this. This was very fortunate for Harry who merely had to wave his wand in their direction to send his family members scurrying.

Harry looked to Remus who grimaced slightly at his reference to Tonks which instantly incited Harry’s curiosity. Wanting to find out as much as he could without seeming to pry into business which was not his own had never been a strong point for Harry but he tried nonetheless and resolved to get Hermione to do it later, once he’d messed up.

“You and Tonks aren’t together then?” he asked lightly and Remus resumed his pacing.

“Idiot girl … all her fault,” Harry distinctly heard Remus muttering darkly to himself amongst other indistinguishable words. “No, we’re not.” His tone was irritable and Harry knew that he probably shouldn’t ask but he carried on probing the matter.

“But you seemed … well, close really,” Harry said and Remus looked grim, “and you were holding hands at the funeral.” The elder of the two shook his head.

“Okay, she was holding my hand and you and Hermione seem close; it doesn’t mean that you’re together though,” Remus said coolly. It was clearly a subject that he didn’t particularly enjoy talking about and Harry decided he’d pushed it far enough. Besides, Hermione would be able to get more information from him or Tonks; she seemed good at that sort of thing. “Why the curiosity?”

“I dunno, I just wondered really,” Harry shrugged, letting the topic slide.

“Anyway, back to the Horcruxes thing… so how are we—” he put particular stress on the word “—going to locate the other four Horcruxes?”

Harry gave him a cool stare but didn’t say anything in response. After a few moments, during which Remus wanted to hex Harry for a while for being so idiotic, he spoke again.

“Look, you do not have the resources to locate four Horcruxes on your own whilst Voldemort is slowly taking over. The longer it takes to find and destroy them the more people are going to be killed. The sooner you do it, the sooner Voldemort is destroyed and you can speed up the process by using more people, trusted people. Such as the Order,” he said and Harry grinned and shook his head in disbelief.

“That’s emotional blackmail!” he laughed, although there was a slightly odd note to it which made Remus wonder about his current health. He seemed fine however… “Essentially, I accept your help and less people die.”

“Sounds about right,” Remus said to him. He could almost see the cogs working quickly in Harry’s brain; on the one side he didn’t want to let any more people die than necessary but on the other he clearly didn’t want to entrust the job to anyone else, especially not since Dumbledore had been so secretive with it whilst he was alive.

“All right, fine.” Remus flashed him a triumphant smile and Harry sank back down onto his bed.

“Excellent, so when are you coming back to Grimmauld Place?” Remus asked, sitting down next to him and finishing his pacing, for now at least.

“Grimmauld Place?”

“Of course, where else are you going to stay? You need some kind of headquarters and seeing as Grimmauld Place is already yours…” Remus replied, a smile playing at the corners of his lips. He had finally persuaded Harry to accept the help of those who wanted to offer it, even if he had received information he would rather have ignored… for a very long time.

“I’ll come tonight,” Harry sighed in defeat, knowing that Remus was going to win all along. He shook his head, smiling slightly as he began to pack his trunk with all his worldly possessions.

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