Chapter 33 ~ End Game
Ron sat in the large chair in the Headmaster’s office into which he had collapsed after his desperate sprint to deliver the terrible news... that Harry was gone. He was bent forward, holding his head in his hands struggling to catch his breath. Both Professor Dumbledore and Rick stared at him, as they waited impatiently, with a sense of deep foreboding, for further information about Harry. Just as Ron was about to speak, Hermione rushed into the room. She had started out from the Gryffindor common room at the same time as Ron; but not being so athletic, it had taken her longer to reach the Headmaster’s office. She was crying and visibly distressed.
Rick gently drew her down to a large black couch in front of Dumbledore’s desk. He put a comforting arm around her as she buried her head in his shoulder; the tears continuing to stream from her eyes.
“A few minutes after Rick left the common room, an owl flew in through the window with a message for Harry,” said Ron, regaining his breath and sounding very distressed. “As soon as he read it, he turned his face from us so we couldn’t see his reaction and said, ‘I think I know where Ginny is – I’m going to check on the Marauders Map’. Then he rushed up the stairs to the dormitory, taking the message with him.”
Hermione, having sufficiently recovered from her mad dash to the Headmaster’s office, continued the story. “We looked at each other for a second, then rushed up the stairs after him – but he slammed the dormitory door in our faces and locked it. It took a minute or two to break his locking charm – his magic has become very powerful – and when we got into the room, the window was open and he was gone. We found this on the floor,” said Hermione, thrusting a crumpled piece of parchment across the Headmaster’s desk, towards him, as she bit her lip, sobbing.
Dumbledore read the message aloud:
I am holding Ginny Weasley captive.
I believe that she is a friend of yours – perhaps more than a friend.
I make you this offer: Her life for yours.
I swear a binding Wizard’s Oath that if you come immediately - and alone – her life will be spared, and no harm will come to her.
I also swear that if you do not come, as requested, she will be tortured mercilessly and then killed.
To save her life, you must go as quickly as possible to the Hogwarts gates. On passing through them, look on the ground twenty feet to your right. You will find a silver branch in a zigzag shape - similar to that of your scar. Pick it up – it will bring you to me.
Decide quickly, I shall not wait long.
Which is it to be - your life or hers?
“Harry must have transformed into an Eagle and flown to the school gates ... and taken Voldemort’s Portkey....” said Hermione, sobbing again.
“I thought of grabbing a broom,” said Ron, “and trying to stop him, but it would have taken too long – he’d have been gone before I got there.”
“You’re right,” said Rick, having closed his eyes for a moment to search for Harry. “You’d never have caught him in time – and if you had, he’d have hexed you if you’d tried to stop him – the damn fool! He’s gone ... How on earth are we going to find him now?” he asked, turning towards a very sombre-looking Professor Dumbledore, who was still holding Voldemort’s note in one hand.
“I have no idea....” replied Dumbledore, shaking his head sadly, looking suddenly very, very, old.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
The four of then sat forlornly and wordlessly in the Headmaster’s office for what seemed a very long time – although it was no more than five or ten minutes. The only sound was Hermione’s constant sobbing, muffled by Rick’s shoulder, in which she had buried her face.
Suddenly the door flew open. Rick, Hermione and Ron, turned around hopefully ... but it wasn’t Harry – or Ginny – it was Professor Snape – and he looked terrible. The four occupants of the room jumped to their feet, as Snape staggered to Dumbledore’s desk, leaning heavily on it for support. His normally pale face was parchment-white, sweat was poring from his face, and his eyes were rolling about in his head.
“Potter,” he finally managed to say. “He’s got Potter and Weasley ... barrow....” he managed to gasp, before collapsing on the floor in front of the Headmaster’s desk, where he lay on his back, writhing in agony, grasping at his left arm, with his right hand, just below the elbow.
Professor Dumbledore moved around his desk with surprising speed for a man of his age and knelt down next to his Potions master. He held a small bottle of what appeared to be to Firewhiskey to Snape’s lips. But Snape pushed Dumbledore’s hand away, shaking his head violently. “Dark Mark!” he managed to get out, between his clenched teeth.
“Ah ... I understand,” said Dumbledore, sympathetically. “Voldemort has summoned his remaining Death Eaters to the place he is holding Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. You have Apparated away, but your Dark Mark is drawing you back ... is that it, Severus?”
“Yes!” gasped Snape, nodding his head, as he bit his lip in pain. “Can’t resist it....” he stammered, in despair.
“Professor,” said Rick. “I think I can remove the Dark Mark from Professor Snape’s arm ... can I try?”
Dumbledore looked towards Snape, who was staring at Rick in disbelief, while continuing to tremble with agony as he valiantly resisted Voldemort’s unrelenting summons. “Severus,” said the Headmaster, “Mr. Godfry has great powers – greater even than the one who put his mark on you. Your days as a spy are over – in deserting his gathering today, you have unequivocally revealed your true loyalties. The mark is of no further use to you ... it is only a source of torturous pain, which will very soon drag you back to him ... and certain destruction. Please, allow him to try....”
Snape nodded his head feebly, he knew he could not resist the pull of his Dark Mark for very much longer ... and then, his fate would be sealed. Dumbledore took a firm hold of Snape’s left wrist, and pushed the sleeve up, revealing the Dark Mark just below the elbow. It had turned an angry raw red, and seemed to swell up and contract in a persistent throb. There was a faint smell of burning flesh. No wonder he’s in agony, poor man, thought Rick, as he pointed his wand at the Dark Mark and allowed the spirit he could feel helping him guide him in this difficult task.
A bolt of the pure white light streamed from the end of Rick’s wand into Snape’s arm, and in a matter of seconds the Dark Mark was completely gone. Snape instantly ceased his manic trembling and grimacing as he stared at Rick in disbelief. Dumbledore and Rick helped Snape to his feet and manoeuvred him into a nearby chair. Although his Dark Mark was gone, he was exhausted from the battle he had waged against it.
“Thank you, Godfry,” said Snape, with uncharacteristic gratitude as he stared transfixed at the place where the Dark Mark had been. “Thank you very much.” He took the small bottle of Firewhiskey which the Headmaster was once again proffering and knocked back a good slug, before taking a deep breath, and speaking again. “They are at Haughtons Heath, Headmaster, on Druids Barrow. Miss Weasley has not been harmed, but Potter, I fear ... is lost —”
“No!” gasped Hermione plaintively.
“Potter held his Reflecting Shield for a remarkably long time, but in the end, the Dark Lord’s servants wore him down by keeping up a barrage of curses – and suffering the consequences. When he was no longer able to maintain the shield, the Dark Lord put Potter under the Cruciatus Curse. It was then, that I finally managed to overcome the hold of my Dark Mark and Apparate away. I don’t know how long it took me to get to your office from the school gates, but it is certain that Potter is finished by now. His mind will be gone, and the Dark Lord will have finished him off with the Killing Curse. I am very sorry Headmaster ... but there was nothing I could do,” he said sincerely.
“I understand, Severus,” said Dumbledore kindly. “But, perhaps it is not yet too late.... Rick, Apparate to Druids Barrow immediately and protect Harry, if he is still alive. I shall go immediately to the school gates and Apparate from there.”
“What the —” stammered Snape as Rick disappeared. He knew perfectly well that no one could Apparate or Disapparate within the Hogwarts wards. How was this possible?
His exclamation was cut short by Hermione. “Professor Dumbledore! Please take me with you. Harry may need my help. Rick can protect me with a Reflecting Shield ... please!”
“Very well, Miss Granger,” he replied, “we may indeed have need of your extraordinary healing powers before this day is over.” He went quickly to a cupboard and removed two brooms. Handing one to Hermione, he threw open a large window and climbing up to the ledge, straddled the broom. “Severus,” he said turning back to his Potions Master, “I wish you to remain here at Hogwarts. Please inform Professor McGonagall of events, and, should I fail to return, please lend her all assistance required.”
“Certainly, Headmaster,” he said, nodding solemnly.
“Come, Miss Granger,” said Dumbledore, leaping from the window on his broom. Ron, sensing his friend’s nervousness – not about Voldemort, but about leaping from a window on a broom, stepped up behind her on the window-ledge and threw a leg over her broom, saying, “I’ll fly you to the gates, if you like, Hermione.”
“Thanks, Ron,” she replied gratefully.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Druids Barrow was one of the largest of the ancient barrows to be found in this part of Britain. The inhabitants of old had constructed these raised mounds of earth, usually on top of a hill, as funeral mounds for their leaders. Long ago, when the priests lit huge bonfires upon this barrow on the sacred nights to propitiate their gods, the flames could be seen from much of Haughtons Heath. The heath was little changed since those times – a desolate, uninhabited place, covered in heather and clumps of rough, reedy grass. Despite it being a sunny day, the heath still managed to look bleak and unwelcoming.
When Rick Apparated invisibly to the barrow, he first saw Ginny, who was bound to a pole which appeared to have been magically fixed upon the barrow. Although apparently unharmed, she was weeping uncontrollably. The reason for her distress was all too apparent. Lying on the ground, no more than ten feet from her was the body of Harry Potter. Voldemort stood ten feet to the other side of the prone body, at the centre-point of the barrow, gloating triumphantly. Circling the barrow in their black robes and masks were Voldemort’s Death Eaters, who had been summoned to witness the moment of their Master’s crowning victory.
Rick was surprised that Voldemort still had so many followers – there were at least two hundred of them. He shuddered as he turned his eyes upon Voldemort. This was not his original body, of course – the one he had encountered in the Nightmare Reality and at Godric’s Hollow. It was the terrible creation of the Dark Magic he used that night in the graveyard at Little Hangleton to which Harry had been transported by the Triwizard Cup.
Voldemort stood regally in an arrogant pose at the centre of the barrow, with his arms crossed in front of him. He was tall and thin. His robes were black. Unlike his loyal Death Eaters who circled him, he wore no mask. Rick wished he did. Voldemort’s white, skeletal face was a ghastly sight. It was like the head of an enormous snake, with those terrible scarlet, slit-pupilled eyes. He was utterly repulsive – the very personification of Evil.
“Regard, the great Harry Potter ... the saviour of the Light,” said Voldemort derisively, to his followers. “What fools they were, to believe he could defeat me, Lord Voldemort,” he crowed. “They said he was my nemesis, the one prophesied to be my downfall – the one who had the power to destroy me! Yes, a Prophecy was given,” he informed them. A soft murmur ran through the circle of Death Eaters – this was the first time their Master had mentioned the Prophecy.
“The Prophecy foretold that one of us would destroy the other. I always knew it was correct. But the fools of the Light – who even now still deign to oppose me – overlooked one inescapable truth. A truth of which I have made no secret – but one which they, in their stupidity, refuse to acknowledge: That I, Lord Voldemort, am immortal. There was never any doubt about which one of us would be the destroyer ... and which one the destroyed. This boy has thwarted me many times. As a baby he was responsible for the destruction of my body. He has caused me unending trouble. But see now, how he lies destroyed at my feet.”
“When the news reaches the wizarding world that The Boy Who Lived ... is dead, all resistance to my great cause will collapse. Our enemies will be demoralised. We will kill them all: Dumbledore and his pathetic Order of the Phoenix – and all those who support them – will be the first to die – followed by the Mudblood vermin and Squibs – including those who were formerly Death Eaters. I shall show no mercy to those who allowed themselves to be turned into foul loathsome Squibs. The Half-Bloods will put under the Imperious Curse and enslaved. They shall not be allowed to breed. Once the wizarding world has been purified we shall begin our campaign to conquer the Muggles. Victory shall be ours!” he cried, raising his arms upwards, as his followers cheered enthusiastically.
When he had tired of their cheering, Voldemort raised a hand and the Death Eaters immediately fell silent. “The Boy Who Lived – Ha!” spat Voldemort, scornfully. “And yet, still he lives – although he is now no more than a vegetable. His mind is destroyed – but I did not kill him ... yet....”
“In ancient times Dark Wizards used to burn their enemies alive – right here, on Druids Barrow,” said Voldemort, pointing to the barrow upon which he was standing. “This place has great magical energy. It was known to those who where faithful to the powers of the Dark, that one who performed the live sacrifice of his mortal enemy upon this sacred mound, would gain that enemy’s powers.”
“Thus, have I brought my mortal enemy, Harry Potter, to this place. I intend to perform the ancient ritual. I shall burn him alive, as a sacrifice to the Dark Powers and Demons. When, by this sacrifice, I have added his considerable magical powers to my own, I shall become the most powerful – and feared – wizard in history,” he boasted manically.
“You!” said Voldemort, pointing a finger randomly at one of his Death Eaters. “Step forward.” Then turning to a large pile of branches and brush that had been prepared near the centre of the barrow, he snapped his fingers and they burst into flames. “Levitate Potter onto the bonfire,” he ordered the Death Eater who had come forward. The Death Eater pointed his wand at the unconscious body, saying “Corpus Leviosa.” But instead of the body being levitated, the Death Eater rose in the air.
“What is the meaning of this?” demanded Voldemort angrily. “Crucio!” he said, pointing his wand at the Death Eater, who fell to the ground screaming and writhing in pain. “You!” snapped Voldemort, pointing to another Death Eater. “Come here and levitate Potter onto the bonfire.”
The second Death Eater tried, but he too rose up in the air. “I-It’s a Reflecting Shield, Master,” he stammered quickly, before Voldemort could turn the Cruciatus Curse on him as well.
“Nonsense!” screamed Voldemort, but his voice betrayed a hint of uncertainty. “Use the Cruciatus Curse on him,” ordered Voldemort.
“B-But Master, it will —” the Death Eater began protesting.
“Do as I tell you, before I use the Killing Curse ... on you! Hurry up,” he snapped, growing impatient, at the delay to his carefully laid plans. This ritual was to be his crowning glory – not just the defeat of Potter – the last hope of the Light – but, also, the acquisition of Potter’s powers. Voldemort was not going to let anyone or anything stand in the way of his moment of triumph.
“Crucio!” began the hapless Death Eater, immediately collapsing and convulsing in pain.
“Impossible! Potter’s a vegetable, totally incapable of casting a curse. One of you must be responsible for this. Who is it?” demanded Voldemort in a fury, as he cast a withering glare around the circle of Death Eaters. “Has any one of you seen another using their wand?” he demanded. “Hurry up and find the culprit, before I begin killing you, one-by-one – until this nonsense ends!” he screamed angrily,
A loud murmur rose up from the Death Eaters as they began to scrutinise their neighbours suspiciously – and fearfully.
Suddenly a loud, rasping, spectral voice boomed out, “It is I.”
“Who said that? Who are you?” demanded Voldemort, feigning a calmness and control that he no longer felt. The voice obviously did not belong to a Death Eater.
“Come, come, Voldemort, you can do better than that, surely you know exactly who I am ... Squibbus!” boomed the voice, which seemed to emanate from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
“Don’t try that nonsense with me,” snarled Voldemort angrily. “You cannot Squib me or use any magic upon me at all ... observe,” he said haughtily, pointing his wand at a bush, which burst into flames.
“Yes, yes, I know all about your Cloak of Salazar Slytherin. But, you see, it wasn’t you I was Squibbing, it was your Death Eaters – or should I say ex-Death Eaters? I do believe I’ve Squibbed then all now ... every ... single ... last ... one.”
Voldemort looked on in absolute horror as his Death Eaters tried to use their wands to perform magic ... but to no avail. Voldemort had no further use for them ... and he hated Squibs with a passion. Not two minutes earlier, he had been promising to kill the foul loathsome creatures. They were desperate to escape. Unable to Apparate, they turned and ran off in all directions across the heath, hoping frantically to get away before Voldemort cursed them.
But Voldemort had other matters on his mind. Albus Dumbledore and an unknown witch had just Apparated to the barrow. Voldemort was furious at what had happened to his Death Eaters, and at having his carefully laid plans to gain Potter’s power through the ancient sacrificial ritual thwarted. But he was also becoming alarmed. He was certain the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor was no ghost at all – but a wizard ... and a very powerful one. The Squibbus Curse was something fabled and sought after, unsuccessfully, by generations of dark wizards – himself included.
Satisfied that he had, at least, finally defeated his great nemesis, Harry Potter, Voldemort decided to Apparate away, rather than risk a confrontation with a wizard with great and unknown power. The tables were now turned, and it was he who was outnumbered – Dumbledore may be an old fool – but he was a very powerful one. Frantically, he twisted his wand and gave the incantation but he couldn't Apparate. He knew he couldn’t have been Squibbed because his cloak protected him from all forms of magic. However, he quickly tried a Banishing Charm on a nearby stone just to reassure himself. It worked – so why couldn’t he Apparate?
“Ah, you are wondering why you cannot Apparate away, I suspect,” said the ghost. “I have just placed anti-Apparition wards around this barrow. Since they are not cast on you directly, your protective cloak does not make you immune to them.”
“Aperio Revelato!” said Voldemort, waving his wand around in a complete circle above his head. “And since my revealing spell is cast upon the vicinity and not the person, I can now see you!” he said glaring venomously at Rick, who was now plainly visible, standing close to Dumbledore and Ginny – who Dumbledore had freed from the post to which she’d been bound. They were beside Hermione who was bending over Harry’s prone body.
“Tom,” said Dumbledore calmly, “how remiss of me not to have introduced you to your other nemesis ... allow me to present Rick Godfry.”
“Ha! My nemesis!” spat Voldemort contemptuously. “Don’t use that word Dumbledore – you old fool. Nemesis suggests an antagonist of equal power. There is no wizard alive with power to match mine. Not you, not this fraudster Godfry, and not your great hope, Harry Potter! Look at him Dumbledore, look what I have done to your champion ... the one they dared to call my nemesis ... I have destroyed him – utterly.”
“You think you are clever, you feeble old man,” he continued his harangue, glaring hatefully at his old foe. “You think because you somehow destroyed my Dark Creatures and turned my loyal servants into despicable Squibs, that I am finished. But you are wrong Dumbledore, very wrong.... I have powers and protections that you cannot imagine. I am invincible. I will soon recruit more Death Eaters ... they will flock to my side ... as they always do.... I can offer them powers and magic that make you and your kind tremble in your shoes. I will soon dispose of this Godfry nuisance, now I know who it is that has been troubling me of late, and there will be no further Squibbing of my new followers.”
“Brave words, Tom ... brave but foolish,” replied Dumbledore evenly. “Although you are correct in one thing, Rick Godfry is certainly not your equal. His powers are greater – far greater – than yours. I am not in the least bit concerned that you have finally learned who it is who has decimated your ranks and left you completely alone. You will not be leaving this place alive, Tom ... I promise you.”
“You? Promise? Ha, ha! What a joke,” laughed Voldemort arrogantly. “I fear no one – certainly not you – you senile old fool. Now that I have disposed of Potter and laid that infernal Prophecy to rest, there is no one and nothing that I fear!”
“Disposed of who?” demanded Harry, glaring at Voldemort, his wand at the ready. While Voldemort and Dumbledore had been exchanging barbs, Hermione had been working on Harry. She was now very experienced in reversing the effects of the Cruciatus Curse and it took her only a few minutes. Rick, aware of what she was doing, was ready – he obliviated Harry as soon as he regained consciousness.
Harry knew he’d been put under the Cruciatus Curse, but mercifully, he had no memory of the excruciating pain. Ginny, however, was not so lucky. Voldemort had taken sadistic pleasure in making her watch as he tortured the one she loved until he was nothing but a vegetable – it had been the worst moment of her life, even worse than being in the Chamber of Secrets. She hugged Harry desperately after he’d been revived – it was as if he’d returned to her from the dead. But Harry had other business. There would be time for hugging Ginny later ... maybe ... if there was a later for him. He stood facing his hated enemy with a sense of destiny.
“Potter!” hissed Voldemort, completely stunned. For the first time that day, he began to feel he was losing control of events. “How in Hades did you recover after I held you under the Cruciatus Curse for so long ... it is simply not possible!”
“You must be losing your touch, Voldemort,” taunted Harry. “The Prophecy is not yet laid to rest, after all.... Perhaps you’d like to try a Killing Curse?”
“Don’t try your childish tricks on me, Potter!” snarled Voldemort. “You are all, no doubt, protected by a Reflecting Shield ... cast, I presume, by this mysterious Godfry. What are you, Godfry? Where did you come from?” he demanded, turning his fury upon Rick.
“I am your nemesis, Voldemort,” replied Rick. “I have come from the Light ... for one purpose ... and one purpose only ... to destroy you! I have followed you into the past and the future, into other realities in which you were seemingly victorious – but which I prevented from coming into existence.”
“Rubbish! You are talking complete nonsense – prove your claim!” demanded Voldemort.
“Alright,” said Rick. “Why don’t you try killing me with a Killing Curse.”
“Stop this stupid game, boy! I have already had this inane conversation with Potter! I know all about your accursed Reflecting Shield. I have no desire to be struck by my own Killing Curse.”
“But you’re protected by the Cloak of Salazar Slytherin, so what do you have to fear?” asked Rick innocently.
“That’s none of your business,” snarled Voldemort angrily.
“Afraid that it may penetrate your cloak, like the curse you used on Harry sixteen years ago?” taunted Rick.
“Silence! Cease your insolent nonsense boy! I have not the slightest notion of what you speak!” snapped Voldemort, desperate to conceal the vulnerability of his cloak.
“Yes, you do,” replied Rick, calmly. “I was there sixteen years ago when it happened. I went back in time. You didn’t see me in the Potters’ garden at Godric’s Hollow that Halloween night, because I was invisible – but I was there.”
“Lies!” retorted Voldemort.
“Lies?” asked Rick. “What’s your memory like Voldemort? Can you remember what you said to baby Harry after you’d killed Lily Potter? I can: ‘Pettigrew said that I would not be able to touch you; but there’s no need to touch you to kill you with a curse, my little enemy. I know – I’ll try putting my mark on you first. If I can do that, then I’ll certainly be able to kill you.’ Then you put that mark on Harry’s forehead,” said Rick, staring at Voldemort unwaveringly.
Voldemort gaped at Rick, totally stunned, as if he was some new unheard of species, before suddenly narrowing his eyes and glaring at him malevolently as realisation dawned upon him. “So, it was you! It was you who stopped my Killing Curse, that night! You cast that infernal Reflecting Shield of yours! I always knew there was no way Potter’s mother could have been the source of his protection. Blood magic could never have stopped a Killing Curse – nothing can – except for that blasted Reflecting Shield! So that’s why I was able to put that accursed mark on him – you weren’t protecting him then. It is you who was responsible for the destruction of my body ... for the years and years of pain and suffering I endured. I owe you a debt Godfry ... and it will be repaid ... in full – of that you may be sure. You will rue the day you came to meddle in my affairs.”
“Brave words, Voldemort,” said Rick, fearlessly, not intimidated in the least. “Do you remember where your Killing Curse struck you, when it rebounded off Harry? Probably not, you were too busy trying to get away. But I can tell you, it was four inches beneath your right armpit.”
Voldemort immediately brought his right arm down to cover the spot, as he continued to glare hatefully at Rick.
“That won’t help you now, Voldemort, it’s too late,” said Rick. “You have realised, no doubt, that the rebounding Killing Curse damaged your cloak. The place it struck is your point of vulnerability ... your Achilles Heel. While you were busy chatting with Professor Dumbledore earlier, I thought I might try a little experiment and see if there is a weakness there ... there is. I was able to use a Severing Charm on that spot. In fact, I tore away the front of your cloak – your front is completely exposed from your shoulders to your waist,” said Rick grinning.
“No!” gasped Voldemort in horror, frantically trying to cover his chest with his arms.
“Goodbye, Tom,” said Dumbledore, purposefully pointing his wand at Voldemort.
“Ha!” sneered Voldemort. “Did you really think it would be so easy to kill me, you hair-brained old fool? I have more protections than you know of.... Some months ago, I came across a very interesting spell, which I cast upon myself. You’ll pardon me, if I don’t reveal the incantation. It’s called the Mirror of Fate. The effects of any spell cast upon me, are instantly mirrored back to the caster. So, for example, if you were to cast a Killing Curse on me ... and succeeded in killing me ... you would also die.”
Dumbledore doubtfully pointed his wand at Voldemort’s chest performing a small Levitation Charm. They both rose a few feet in the air, before returning to the ground.
Voldemort grinned smugly.
“It is unfortunate Tom,” said Dumbledore solemnly, “that in order to rid the world of your evil, I must give up my own life. But, I have had a long and fruitful life, and I am prepared to make the sacrifice. I cannot think of a more meaningful way to leave this realm, than with —”
“No, Professor, yelled Harry – don’t do it! This is my fight and my fate. Because of the Mirror of Fate spell, the special property of my scar becomes meaningless. Whoever kills this evil bastard is going to die. Hogwarts needs you – not me. This monster killed my parents in cold blood, he tried to kill me. It is my duty to my parents to avenge their deaths. The Prophecy says: either must die at the hand of the other. It is my fate to kill him ... and suffer the consequences.”
“No, Harry!” screamed Ginny, throwing her arms around him desperately. “Please don’t do it!”
“Harry, please,” begged Hermione, tearfully. “The Prophecy also says for neither can live while the other survives. The Mirror of Fate spell, like the special property of your scar proves that the Prophecy is rubbish! If you kill Voldemort and die, then the Prophecy will be wrong; and if someone else does it, then it will still be wrong. Whatever happens, it’s wrong! Please, Harry, forget about that ridiculous Prophecy!”
“And let Professor Dumbledore die?” asked Harry, looking accusingly at Hermione and Ginny, who looked away in distress at the terrible dilemma.
“Harry, I am an old man,” said Dumbledore, laying a hand gently on his shoulder. “I have lived more years than most ... and cannot expect to have a great many more before me. I have lived a good life; done what I believed was right; fought my battles; laughed and loved. Death does not frighten me. If there is nothing beyond this life it will be a very pleasant and well-earned rest, free from pain and pleasure, from hope and fear. And if there is something beyond this life ... well, then I am eager and curious to know what it might be.”
“But, you Harry, are a young man, of great promise,” continued Dumbledore. “Your parents did not lay down their lives for you to throw yours away, avenging their sacrifice. Doing honour to their memory, and their sacrifice, does not require you to die like this. On the contrary, it requires you to live your life to the very best of your ability, to live a good and happy life, one which benefits others and brings them joy.”
“If I may be allowed to interrupt this tear-jerking sentimental claptrap ....” sneered Voldemort contemptuously. “I am greatly flattered that you brave and brainless Gryffindors should be fighting for the privilege of laying down your worthless lives for the sake of ending mine ... but, there is something you imbeciles have completely over-looked in your moronic heroism....”
All eyes turned to Voldemort.
“Did it ever cross your feeble minds to ask why I did not die sixteen years ago when I was struck by my own Killing Curse? There was nothing wrong with the curse – in fact, the Reflecting Shield increased its strength. I pride myself on my Killing Curses, and, believe me, I have had plenty of practice with them ... on hundreds – if not thousands – of victims. They have never failed. Never ... except for that one. Did you ever wonder why?” asked Voldemort rhetorically, a cruel grin touching the corners of his hideous mouth.
“Since you are all too obtuse to see the glaringly obvious, I will tell you.... It is because I cannot be killed. I spent many years researching immortality. I eventually learned it was not possible to make the human body immortal. However, I discovered an elemental ritual – extremely potent Dark Magic – with which I succeeded in binding my spirit to the dark energy of the universe. In so doing, my spirit acquired the properties of that energy. The magic which binds my spirit to the indestructible dark forces renders my spirit indestructible – immortal. That is why, though my body was destroyed sixteen years ago, my spirit survived. Living as a disembodied spirit was a torturous existence, but eventually I acquired another body.”
“If you kill me,” continued Voldemort darkly, “my body will die ... but not my spirit. I will suffer again the pain of disembodied existence, but, in a few years I shall appear again in the world, to continue my campaign. It won’t take me so long next time, now that I understand the dynamics of rebirth. Of one thing you may be absolutely certain: I shall return, and, inevitably, I shall triumph over you all ... in the end, victory shall be mine!”
“I, Lord Voldemort, have nothing to fear from death. But, for the one who kills me, death will be permanent. The death of their body will be the final end for them. Now, which one of you wants to throw your miserable life away now, to inconvenience me for a few years?” taunted Voldemort, mockingly.
“I do,” said Dumbledore, steadfastly. “Even if it is only a temporary setback for you, it will give the Light a chance to grow strong again and be ready to resist you once more, when you return.”
“No, Professor!” yelled Harry. “To grow strong enough to resist his evil, the Light needs your leadership. It is my destiny to kill him....” Harry suddenly leapt up in the air using the Somes Leviosa charm Rick had taught him at the Burrow.
“No, Harry, don’t!” screamed Ginny and Hermione, together.
Despite his apparent nonchalance, and seeming lack of concern at the prospect of losing his body again, Voldemort had turned side-on to the others on the barrow, after Dumbledore’s Levitation Charm had confirmed that his chest was completely unprotected. Harry’s intention was to get into a position where he had a clear shot at Voldemort’s chest. He either didn’t realise, or didn’t care, that in leaping away from the others he was no longer protected by Rick’s Reflecting Shield ... but Voldemort realised it.
Four curses rang out in unison. Harry Potter and Voldemort with wands pointed at each other, their eyes locked together in deadly hatred, screamed, “Avada Kedavra! ”
Voldemort had tried in vain to twist his chest away from Harry, but it was not far enough to hide it from him. However, in twisting away, he again exposed it to Professor Dumbledore and Rick.
“Avada Kedavra! ” cried Albus Dumbledore.
“ Squibbus!” cried Rick Godfry.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
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Coming up: Chapter 34 ~ A Midsummer Night's Dream
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