Chapter 16 : Revelations
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Harry stumbled out of the fire place in Professor McGonagall’s office, coughing on some ash that had gone up his nose.
“Good day, Potter,” Professor McGonagall said calmly, looking up from her work and giving him an appraising glance, a more concerned look on her face than Harry was used to. He smiled back uncomfortably, aware that she was probably thinking of the list he’d made and feeling sorry for him.
“Hello Professor,” he replied, trying to sound upbeat.
“The Headmaster would like to see you in his office, Potter,” she said, returning to her marking.
“Er…now?” Harry asked, trying to brush ash off his robes. Professor McGonagall gave him a disdainful look as some of it fell onto her carpet.
“I’m sure you can take your trunk back to your dormitory and clean yourself up beforehand,” she said coolly.
Harry dropped his trunk on his bed and tried to flatten his hair before walking quickly to Dumbledore’s office.
“Ton-Tongue Toffee,” he said to the statue, and it swung open. He climbed up the stairs and knocked, entering when he heard Dumbledore’s voice. The Headmaster beamed at him as he came in, and gestured for Harry to take the seat at the other side of his desk.
“Hello Harry, how are you?” he asked jovially.
“Fine, sir,” Harry answered.
“I hear your duelling is coming along marvellously. Alastor told me that you managed to beat him!”
“Er…yeah,” Harry said awkwardly. “But I think a lot of it was down to luck.”
“Nonsense Harry! You are always too modest, in my opinion. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of a boast now and then!”
Harry grinned self-consciously.
“Now,” Dumbledore said, the smile fading from his face. “Alastor also told me that you managed to perform the killing curse. On your second attempt.” He looked at Harry rather intently and Harry felt very uncomfortable.
“Harry, when you attempted , and failed, to use the Cruciatus curse on Bellatrix Lestrange last year at the Ministry, what actually happened?”
“Er…” Harry said, slightly thrown by this abrupt change in topic. “Well, um…I said it and she was kind of knocked off her feet, but she didn’t cry out or anything…it didn’t actually work.”
“I see,” Dumbledore said, resting his fingers together in his familiar pose. “And when you attempted it over Christmas, you were able to do it at once?”
“Er…yeah,” said Harry.
“How did you feel when you doing it?”
“Erm…I dunno,” said Harry, twisting his fingers together nervously. Dumbledore shook his head.
“Of course you know, Harry. There’s no right or wrong answer to this. You’re not in any trouble. I am merely curious as to how you felt.”
“Well,” said Harry slowly, “I hate her…for what she’s done to me…to the Weasley’s…to Neville…”
“Quite understandable, Harry. Go on.”
“So…after she killed Percy, I wanted her to suffer. I wanted her to suffer like we’d suffered. So…I suppose it felt…good.”
Dumbledore looked at Harry intently. “Interesting. And how did you feel when you performed the killing curse?”
Harry blinked. He had an inkling of where Dumbledore was going with this and didn’t like it. “I didn’t enjoy it, sir, if that’s what you mean,” he said, rather sharply,
“I’m sure you didn’t,” Dumbledore replied. “It’s just curious.”
“Why? Why is it curious? Sir?”
Dumbledore paused for a few moments, and then spoke rather slowly. “Well Harry, I don’t know if Alastor told you, but the number of people who can actually successful perform the torture curse and the killing curse is probably far less than you think. I, myself, am unable to perform it.”
“Have you tried then, sir?” asked Harry in surprise. He couldn’t picture Dumbledore trying to torture or kill anyone, The Headmaster smiled slightly.
“No, Harry, I haven’t. But I still know I can not do it if I ever wanted to.”
“Okay, well…” Harry felt rather confused. “I mean, if I can, wouldn’t that be just another thing I’ve gained from Voldemort? You know, like Parseltongue and stuff. Wouldn’t that just be another…ability….that I’ve gotten from him?”
“Perhaps. But what I find most interesting is the fact that you could not perform the curse last year, after Sirius died.”
“Well…maybe I was just angrier this time…maybe I meant it more this time, I dunno.”
Dumbledore looked rather sceptical. “The death of Percy Weasley caused more anger and intent to cause pain than the death of Sirius?”
Harry shrugged. “I dunno. Maybe it was just…maybe it took time to sink in. I mean, what other explanations are there?”
“There is the possibility that it is a…new…ability.”
Harry looked at him. “D’you mean…I don’t understand, sir.”
Dumbledore sighed. “Nor I, Harry. Perhaps you should keep an eye on any other new abilities you may gain.”
“Okay, sir,” Harry answered, not really sure what Dumbledore seemed so worried about.
“Now, Harry. There are two things I would like to talk to you about. The first is that list that Mr Ronald Weasley brought down --”
“Please, sir, I really don’t want to talk about that,” Harry interrupted quickly. “It really…it doesn’t matter.”
Dumbledore frowned. “It matters greatly, Harry. For you to even dream of taking responsibility for these deaths is ridiculous. You need to understand that --”
“Please, sir,” Harry interjected again. “It doesn’t matter what you say. I understand what you’re saying, and everyone else - Remus, Mrs Weasley, Ron, Hermione - they’ve all told me the same. But it doesn’t change anything. Whatever you say, it’s not going to change the fact that I do think it’s my fault. Not one hundred percent,” he added hurriedly, seeing the look on Dumbledore’s face, “I know other people played parts too; Voldemort, Bellatrix…Snape. But just…let me feel this. It…gives me more reasons…to push myself, to fight. I feel like…if can do it, if I can kill him…it’ll be okay. It wont be my fault anymore.”
Dumbledore looked at him. “I cant change the way you feel, Harry,” he said sadly. “But you understand that no-one - not one of use - thinks for one second that any of this is your fault.”
Harry nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Right. The second thing I wanted to talk to you about, Harry, is how to defeat Voldemort. You asked me in September, if you remember, and I told you I would tell you when the time was right.”
Harry nodded again. “Yes, sir. So how do I do it then? With the killing curse?”
“There are other ways to kill a man, Harry.”
“I know, sir. Just…I thought, seeing as I can do it…but what way d’you think I should do it?”
“You misunderstand me, Harry. When you do come to killing him, by all means try and use the killing curse, or whatever curse you see fit. But first, there are…obstacles.”
“What d’you mean, sir?” Harry asked, sitting forward.
“Harry, have you ever heard of a Horcrux?” Harry shook his head. “Well, a Horcrux is made when a wizard decides to split his soul by committing a terrible sin - murder. When the soul is split, one part still resides in his body, and the other part is hidden in an object, usually an inanimate one. This means that the wizard is, to an extent, immortal. Even if his body is destroyed, there is still the other part residing in the object. He is still in a way, alive.”
Harry stared at Dumbledore in horror. “And…and that’s what Voldemort did? Why haven’t I heard of this before?”
“Horcruxes are very rarely spoken of. They are a very prohibited subject, and most wizards have no idea that they exist. Voldemort most definitely split his soul. This would explain why he failed to die that night when you were a baby.”
“So…I have to find the Horcrux and destroy it before Voldemort can die?”
“Yes,” Dumbledore said simply. “But you do not realise, Harry, that you have already destroyed one.”
“I have? When?”
“Riddle’s diary. No diary can have a memory that can think for itself like that. That was most definitely a horcrux.”
“But it’s gone! So…wait…you said I’ve destroyed one? Does that mean, then…that there’s more than one?”
Dumbledore suddenly looked very old. “I fear, Harry, that Voldemort split his soul not once, but seven times.”
“Seven?” Harry echoed in disbelief. “Seven?”
“Yes. I’m glad to see you appreciate the magnitude of this problem. However, I have destroyed another two, which leaves four more, the fourth residing in Voldemort’s body. So there are three more objects we need to find, and destroy, before you can actually kill him.”
Harry shook his head in amazement. “What were the other Horcruxes, sir?”
“If you look on this table, Harry…see the ring, and the cup? They were both Horcruxes, but now they are merely what they seem to be. The diary, of course, was left in the possession of Lucius Malfoy, but it matters not - it is, after all, just a diary now.”
“So…d’you know where the other Horcruxes are then, sir?”
“I have ideas, Harry. You are aware of his…for want of a better word…pet snake, Nagini?”
“Yeah, yeah. But…a snake cant be a horcrux? Not a living creature?”
Dumbledore bowed his head. “Indeed it is possible Harry - perhaps not advisable, but I am certain that within his snake is a seventh of Voldemort’s soul. As for the other two…well, I have garnered enough information to state with certainty that another part is hidden in a locket. Slytherin’s locket, to be exact. I am yet to find out where it is, but I am confident that we can find it.”
“Sir…” said Harry slowly, “sir, at Grimmauld Place last year, there was a locket. It was really old looking…gold…and we couldn’t open it. D’you think that might be…”
Dumbledore looked interested. “Indeed it might, Harry. The House of Black is a very old wizarding family and they all - with a few exceptions, Sirius included - were in Slytherin. Yes, I will indeed look into that, and tell you what I find.”
“Right. So, what about the last Horcrux then?”
Dumbledore looked at Harry very closely. “The cup on the table over there, Harry, is Hufflepuff’s cup. The ring sitting next to it is the ring of Ravenclaw. The locket, if it is a horcrux, is Slytherin’s locket. Can you guess what the last one might be?”
“Something of Gryffindor?”
Dumbledore smiled faintly. “Yes. Something of Gryffindor. Although…I cannot think what. The only known relic of Gryffindor is in this office…the sword on the wall behind me. I am fairly certain that it is not a Horcrux.”
“We will have to save that one for last, Harry,” Dumbledore said, still looking at Harry intently, his face very troubled. His eyes flickered over Harry’s face, resting for a second on his scar. Then, with great effort, he looked away. “I think I have given you enough to think about, Harry. Perhaps it is time for you to rejoin your friends in the Common Room. But please do not tell anyone about this just yet…it will not do for Voldemort to find out what we are doing. You can of course inform your trusted sidekicks, Miss Granger and Mr Weasley, but please wait a while. Just until I‘ve have assessed the locket at Grimmauld Place.”
“Of course, sir,” said Harry, standing up. As he walked slowly back to the Common Room he played over everything Dumbledore had told him. Harry shook his head in disbelief. He split his soul seven times. Seven times. The strangest thing was, was that it was not this fact that bothered Harry the most: it was the way Dumbledore had stared at him when he found out Harry could perform the killing curse; it was the way his eyes had seemed so troubled as they looked at him; it was the way his gaze had lingered over Harry’s scar.
“You alright, Harry?” Ron asked, as Harry sat down rather heavily next to him. “What did Dumbledore want to talk about?”
“Oh, er…nothing really. Just, you know, what happened over Christmas, how my training’s going…” Ron nodded in acceptance, but Hermione was looking at him sceptically, as though she knew he was hiding something. Harry tried to look innocent. “Where’s Ginny?”
“Outside with Dean. Think she’s breaking up with him,” Ron grunted. Harry sat up straight. “What? Really? Why?” He saw the smirk spread over Hermione’s face and tried to seem less interested. “I mean…oh, is she?”
“Yeah,” Ron said, not noticing Harry’s keen interest. “She said he was just annoying her or something. I think she’s bored.”
“No, that’s not it, Ron,” Hermione said, her large brown eyes boring into Harry’s. “It’s because she likes someone else,” she said deliberately, smiling faintly. Harry felt himself go red. “Oh look, there’s Dean!” Hermione pointed out. Sure enough, Dean walked through the portrait hole looking thoroughly miserable, ignoring them and walking straight up to the boys’ dormitories. Ginny walked in a few minutes later, looking rather fed up. She sat down next to the three.
“Well, I did it,” she said quietly, running a hand through her hair and looking at her knees.
“And how did he take it?” Hermione asked kindly.
“Not very well,” Ginny sighed. “But what can you do?”
“Oi, Ginny, Hermione says you dumped Dean because you like someone else…who’s that then?” Ron asked bluntly.
Ginny blushed slightly. “That’s not really your concern, is it Ronald?”
“Of course it is! I have a right to know who your next boyfriend is!”
“I never said he was going to be my next boyfriend, did I Ron?” she said coolly.
“Oh. Isn’t he?”
“I don’t know. I suppose that depends on him.” She looked up slightly and her eyes met Harry’s. They both blushed furiously. Ginny got up quickly. “Anyway, I have to finish…er, my Charms essay. See you later.” She hurried upstairs.
“I don’t like this boyfriend thing,” Ron said grimly. “Hey, what’s the matter Harry? Your face has gone all red.”
“Oh…I’m just…really hot. I’m just going to go for a walk,” Harry said quickly, jumping up. Hermione sniggered.
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