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Chapter 1 : Deep Thoughts
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Neighbors peeked from behind their windows into the darkening sky as they watched a lonely teenager walk down the empty street. They didnít trust him. Not from his fly-away hair to the ratty trainers that he wore. They had very little difficulty believing that this teenager was the worst hoodlum that ever crossed anyoneís path. When pressed about their beliefs, they quickly pointed out his slouched posture and his furtive glances around him.
They agreed with Mrs. Dursley when she complained about the boyís awful behavior. They chose to believe her tales about his ungratefulness and his propensity for trouble. After so many years of dealing with her troublesome nephew on her own, she had finally confessed to them that she and her husband had had no choice but to send their nephew to a special school that dealt with hoodlums in a hopeless attempt to make him into a useful citizen of society.
However, the neighborís opinions mattered very little to him. He barely glanced at their jewel-tinted windows. He was nearly free of Privet Drive. He didnít know who would be happier when he finally left: his relative or him. The drapes at one of the houses swayed as they settled, released from unseen hands as he scuffed his shoe on a broken piece of the sidewalk.
He could hardly wait for the next few days to pass because once he left then he wouldnít return. Ever.
Yet he couldnít help smiling wryly as he considered whether he would make one short visit after he had dealt with Voldemort. After all, he did have a whole vault of riches and he could certainly make himself more than presentable. People in the wizarding world certainly appreciated those who had money like the Malfoys. From watching his relatives when they hosted his uncleís business dinners, he had the feeling that it might be the same in the Muggle world as well.
He chuckled softly at the preposterous idea even as he shook his head. It was a wonderful idea to think about, but he seriously doubted that anyone on this street would change their view of him. He suspected that no matter how affluent he appeared, they would still believe the worst about him.
As his birthday drew closer, he slipped away more often instead of listening to his closest friends bicker yet again about the television and its variety of programs. Ron was completely agog at the moving pictures and kept insisting that it was magic. Hermione continuously countered with detailed explanations about how a television actually worked. He privately thought that Ron was more interested in the commercials than in the actual shows because he was constantly changing the channels. He had even started feeling the tiniest bit sorry for his cousin Dudley as he miserably sat on the couch without being able to watch his favorite shows on his favorite television.
When his friends werenít arguing about the television, they were disagreeing about studying. Hermione felt that they should spend every minute studying since they werenít going to be going back to Hogwarts for their Seventh Year. She pointed out that none of them knew exactly how to find a Horcrux or how to destroy one. They only had his experiences with the two Horcruxes to guide them: one was completely by accident and the other wasnít a Horcrux.
Without realizing it, he reached the small park where he had first met his godfather and saved his cousin from Dementors. He sat on a swing that someone had managed to fix in spite of Dudley. He sat there and pushed himself back and forth slowly with his foot as he lost himself in his thoughts. His hand was still resting near his wand just in case a Death Eater jumped out from the bushes intending to take him to Voldemort. He didnít have any doubt that they were lurking around and waiting for him to lower his guard. Their leader only needed to wait until this time next week when his motherís protection through his Aunt Petunia had worn away. He grimaced slightly at the dark thought keeping him company in the growing darkness.
He deliberately turned his thoughts to Ginny. He missed her horribly and he really wanted to talk with her. Perhaps she would have some advice on... He shook his head regretfully. He couldnít write to her or even talk with her because he didnít trust himself not to beg her to be his girlfriend again. If he did that, then she wouldnít be safe. He needed her to be safe.
Absently he rubbed the back of his neck. Chills ran through him at the mere thought of Voldemort using Ginny again just because he truly cared for her. He would do anything to keep Voldemort from discovering exactly how much she meant to him. How could he continue if he lost her? It was too difficult to see a future without her. He could only hope that she understood what he wasnít able to tell her and that she would wait for him.
Yet how would he be able to keep his resolve to remain away from her while he was at the Burrow for Bill and Fleurís wedding? Neither of them would be able to stay away from the other. Unfortunately, the more that he thought about Ginny, the more uncomfortable he became.
He purposely turned his thoughts back to the reason that he had broken up with her. He made himself think about the Horcruxes that Voldemort had created. More specifically, he focused his thoughts on the diary which was the very first Horcrux made by Tom Riddle before he had turned into Voldemort. He had destroyed the diary with a Basiliskís fang when he had been a Second Year at Hogwarts. Of course that had been a complete accident because he hadnít realized at the time that the diary was a Horcrux.
It had taken another two years and a very narrow escape from both the Death Eaters and Voldemort to learn precisely what Voldemortís plan was. He had told Professor Dumbledore what he had learned in the graveyard after he had made it back to Hogwarts and was then subsequently rescued from the Imposter Moody.
In fact, Professor Dumbledore had his suspicions that there was more to the diary. Yet he had kept these suspicions a secret. What had shocked and surprised him was learning that the diary was only the first of many Horcruxes that Voldemort had created.
The next one was the Gauntís family ring.
Professor Dumbledore learned where it had been hidden and he had destroyed it with the Sword of Gryffindor at some point during the past year. Yet he had made a horrible mistake: Professor Dumbledore had worn the cursed ring.
It was hard to forget when his professor stopped by for a visit to speak first with his relatives and then had taken him to meet the soon-to-be Professor Slughorn. He had seen the cursed ring on his professorís finger. He had so many questions about what happened, but Professor Dumbledore declined to answer his questions because the story required a good telling. Then he had forgotten to ask his questions again when they got to the Burrow. Now the story was lost.
Another one of the Horcruxes was Slytherinís locket. The memory of what they had gone through to find it and then to bring it back only made him frown with growing resentment. Professor Dumbledore had learned where the locket had been hidden. What he hadnít learned was that someone else had found the locket before him. The only bright spot in the entire fiasco was the Professor Dumbledore died believing that they had found a Horcrux.
Now they had a fake locket that had been locked in his desk so that his relatives couldnít touch either the locket or the note that it held. He didnít know anyone with the initials ďRABĒ and Hermione hadnít been able to find even the smallest whisper of a person with those initials.
The fourth Horcrux was Hufflepuffís cup. He knew very little about this object except for that it was one of the Foundersí relics and that Voldemort had stolen it from its rightful owner while he was working for Mr. Borgin.
The next Horcrux would be something that had belonged to Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. However, Professor Dumbledore had been quite certain that all of Gryffindorís relics were safe. He remembered the pointed glances at both the sword and the Sorting Hat. What could have been passed down through the centuries from Rowena Ravenclaw?
The last Horcrux was Voldemortís snake, Nagini. He sighed slowly as he considered this Horcrux carefully. They had several discussions on how they would handle this one. Their only choice was that they would have to wait until all of the other Horcruxes had been destroyed. They couldnít take the chance that Voldemort would find out that they knew about his greatest secret. Neither could they let Voldemort know that they intended to destroy all of his Horcruxes. They couldnít take the chance that Voldemort would move his remaining Horcruxes to new locations or would make new ones. That is, if Voldemort could even make more Horcruxes.
As it was, he only knew of a few places where the Horcruxes could be hidden. Professor Dumbledore had repeatedly stressed that Voldemort would have hidden them in places that held some type of meaning to him. He had shared this information with Ron and Hermione. The three of them had worried about every little detail until they also knew Voldemortís life story as well as he did.
He pushed himself on the swing again. Had Professor Dumbledore known that he was going to die that night? It had seemed more than a little strange that the professor had made him promise to do what he said without bickering. Or had it been that much of a surprise? Was Snape supposed to have healed him instead of killing him? He stopped thinking so that he could take several deep breaths. He had to keep control of his emotion. The swing continued moving back and forth as he tried to understand the questions that he was asking himself. Just like every other time he had considered these questions, he still didnít know the answer to any of them.
No matter how many times that he replayed Professor Dumbledoreís last moments in his head, there didnít seem to be any way for him to be saved once Draco entered the Astronomy Tower room. Even then Professor Dumbledore spent his last few precious moments trying to convince Draco to leave Voldemortís service. Whatever decision Draco might have made was changed when the other Death Eaters charged into the room.
He frowned as he considered Dracoís actions. Only Ron and Hermione knew that it had taken him weeks just to be able to think about that night without wanting to hex both Snape and Draco. It was only in the past few days that he had been able to consider everything that had happened that night even though it was still difficult for him to understand the tragic events.
It surprised him to feel the smallest bit of concern for Draco. Not only because his father was a Death Eater who was currently in Azkaban but also because all of his closest relatives were Voldemortís followers excluding Sirius. Draco showed every sign of following in his fatherís footsteps except for one thing: he wasnít able to kill someone that he knew. He had disarmed Professor Dumbledore instead of killing him. Yet that still didnít change the fact that Draco was cruel and mean.
Harry rubbed his neck again without thinking about it as he negligently moved the swing back and forth with his foot. Was there a tiny bit of decency hidden inside of Draco? Was there something at odds with what he knew of his rival? Could it be possible that Voldemort was making Draco serve him? Why else would Professor Dumbledore not only offer to hide Draco but also his mother? Could it be that Dracoís mother was in danger?
A snippet of what Dobby had told him years before materialized in his thoughts unasked. Something about his mastersÖ Was it possible that Dracoís mother was also a Death Eater? He was fairly certain that she hadnít even at Voldemortís rebirth with her husband.
Why had Professor Dumbledore put so much trust in Snape? He rubbed his neck again and sighed with annoyance. Professor Lupin had expressed his utter disbelief for the reason that Professor Dumbledore had given him for trusting Snape when he had told them in the hospital wing after the brief battle following the Headmasterís death.
Nearly everyone knew how Snape and his Dad hated each other. Their reactions mirrored his own confusion as to why Snape would have felt sorry for causing his parentsí deaths. Snape might have felt sorry for causing his Mumís death, but not for causing his Dadís death. He just couldnít see Snape apologizing for that.
He rubbed his neck again as he tried to understand why Professor Dumbledore had trusted Snape. There had to have been another reason. One that was more realistic than what he had been told. Was this an attempt to make Snape not seem so evil? Was Professor Dumbledore trying to get him to trust Snape by telling him that he didnít mean for his parents to die? If so, then why? Why was it so important for him to trust Snape?
Darkness had truly fallen by this time and he shivered slightly. His neck continued to prickle uncomfortably. Why did Professor Dumbledore want him to be at peace with Snape? It didnít seem very likely from his perspective and it seemed even less likely from Snapeís view. He scowled at the ground in front of him. It actually didnít matter what he thought about Snape because he would make sure that Professor Dumbledore was avenged.
He pretended to ignore the undecipherable look that Dudley gave him when his cousin and his friends passed the small park.
Stars twinkled in the night sky through the light of the streetlamps. He sighed as his thoughts turned back to Ginny. He finally stood up from the swing and slowly began walking back home. He knew that it was only because of his wizarding friends visiting him for the summer that allowed him the freedom to move as he wished. So now he took advantage of returning home after his cousin Dudley. Aunt Petunia would then give him a suspicious look every time because she believed that he had been up to no good. On the other hand, Uncle Vernon would mutter under his breath each time about ungrateful whelps as he glanced over the top of his newspaper.
He slipped back inside the house and locked the door behind him. He was surprised to discover that he had been out much later than he had thought. His aunt had already finished wiping down the kitchen and gone upstairs to bed. He quietly made his way up the stairs and peeked inside his room to find out that Ron was already asleep. He shook his head with disbelief before he settled into his bed for what remained of the night.
I hope youíve enjoyed reading this chapter. I began writing this story before ďDeathly HallowsĒ was released and now it has become part of the Alternate Universe. However, Iím trying to keep the characters as close to canon as possible.
Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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