Chapter 2 : Marked By Lightning
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Snape’s dungeon. How typical. Although, it wasn’t Snape’s dungeon here … wherever here was. Reliving the battle, Harry surmised that he had been hit with Avada Kedavra. Which in theory meant he should be dead. So why wasn’t he? Or was he? Was this some weird kind of afterlife? It certainly wasn’t heaven. Hell, perhaps, though Harry had no idea what he’d done to deserve that. He was supposed to be the saviour of the wizarding world, for crying out loud! Or was he here because he failed?
The walls were as damp and cold as he remembered and there was nothing in the room – no cabinets or desks or cauldrons, nothing that could be turned into a weapon. Whoever these practical jokers were, they were smart. Harry ground his teeth in annoyance.
The sound of a key turning in a lock was bliss to his ears. Harry whirled round in time to see the man who was supposedly Tom Riddle slip into the room and lock it behind him.
“If this is the way you treat your supposed Chosen One, I’d hate to see what happens to your enemies,” Harry said sourly. He couldn’t help it. He hadn’t exactly had a good day.
“We need to talk.” ‘Riddle’ folded his arms, leaning against the door. His wand wasn’t in sight, but then again, Harry’s had been confiscated – he probably didn’t think he would need it. How arrogant. Harry quickly quelled the thought in case he used Legilimency.
Harry was reminded of a long-ago incident with his uncle as he also bit back the urge to say, “So what?”
Riddle surveyed him suspiciously. “First, you can tell me your name.”
The grey eyes flashed. “Tell me!”
Harry shook his head. “No way.”
Apparently remembering Bellatrix Lestrange’s advice, Riddle took a couple of deep breaths before saying in a voice of forced calm, “I told you mine, so now you tell me yours.”
Harry shook his head. He didn’t want to risk it. Riddle glared. “Fine. But you’re going to have to trust me at some point, Harry.”
Harry looked around pointedly at the dungeon walls. “Trust a man who throws his supposed allies in here? You’re right, it’s no wonder I haven’t told you my surname, favourite jam and blood group by now.”
The favourite jam part rang a bell somewhere in his head but he ignored it. Riddle’s facial expression didn’t change.
“We’re on the same side,” he stated. “At least we should be. Maybe you’re right and you do have concussion. No-one knows where it is you’ve been for the last two decades. I can’t imagine, wherever it is, it would have been a painless journey travelling back.”
“For your information, I’m supposed to be dead,” Harry shot at him. “And what do you mean, where I’ve been for the last two decades? I’m nineteen, I haven’t even lived that long.”
“Actually, according to our records, you were born in 1979,” Riddle told him smugly. “Dropped off at an orphanage not far from here. Your birth parents were never traced. A year after you arrived there was a duel between two older residents and you got in the way.” He smiled. “That’s when we knew it was you. Banished in green light, return by the same.”
Harry stared at him. “Would you curse me if I told you I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about?”
Riddle raised his eyebrows. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. You haven’t exactly been open about where you have been. Are you going to tell me?”
“I haven’t been anywhere,” Harry said slowly. “I don’t even know where here is supposed to be, only that everything’s the wrong way around.” Suddenly all the anger and frustration came pouring out. “You’re supposed to be the Dark Lord. Bellatrix Lestrange is a convict from Azkaban. Dumbledore was my mentor and he’s supposed to be the good guy, not you!” Harry paused, breathing hard. “And let me make something quite clear. I don’t care where I am, or why I’m here, all I want is to go back to where I came from in the first place and I am not killing Dumbledore for you!”
Only one part of that speech seemed to strike with Riddle. His eyes narrowed and he drew his wand. “What do you mean, Dumbledore was your mentor? Talk!”
“I mean what I said,” Harry growled. “I don’t know where this is, it’s either a nightmare or some sort of parallel universe, all I know is that it’s completely messed up and I am not staying.”
Now Riddle looked amused. “And how do you propose you get back to your – er – other universe?” he said in a voice that could almost have been sweet. Harry was reminded of Umbridge. “Would you like me to use the Killing Curse on you?”
“No thanks, I’d rather skip that part.”
“Well, then, I doubt you’ll be returning home any time soon - I would hazard a guess at never.”
“What do you mean?”
“The prophecy, boy, the prophecy!” Riddle barked at him. “You can’t go away, you’re needed here, and until you’ve done your job then -”
“What job? I don’t remember signing up for any adverts in the Daily Prophet saying, ‘Killers needed, sign a contract to murder your mentor (who’s supposed to be dead already), no lunch break’?”
“Your job is to kill the Dark Lord!” Riddle yelled. “You’re the only one that can! I don’t care if he’s taught you how to ice-skate, all I know is that’s what you’re here for and you’re not going anywhere until you do!”
The two men stood in silence, glaring at each other, until Harry realised something he’d said.
“Wait. There’s a prophecy here too?”
Riddle raised his eyebrows, apparently at the “here too”, but nodded. “Yes.”
Harry’s heart sank. He remembered Dumbledore’s words about the other one. “You are free to choose your way, free to turn your back on the prophecy; but Voldemort sets store by the prophecy, and if you do not take it up, one of you will end up killing the other.” Something like that, anyway. If the prophecy here was like the prophecy there – and it sounded like it – it meant that although he had a choice, in the end, the prophecy would end up being completed after all. Unless …
“Does he …” Harry swallowed. “Does Dumbledore know about the prophecy?”
Riddle rolled his eyes. “Everyone knows about it, Dumbledore included.”
So that possibility was out the window.
“And … does he know I’m here?”
Riddle shook his head. “Not yet. And I intend to keep it that way as long as possible.”
Harry sank onto the floor. The reality of the situation was sinking in. This wasn’t some nightmare, he really was in a parallel universe – and it looked like he wasn’t going anywhere till he -
Harry didn’t want to say it, not even in his head. He couldn’t. Even if Dumbledore seemed like the equivalent of Voldemort here … Harry suddenly shuddered. Dumbledore in Voldemort’s position was a frightening image. Voldemort was powerful, yes, but Harry knew in his heart Dumbledore was more so. And the Dumbledore in this universe probably wasn’t about to award him Special Awards for Services to the School and recommend a hot chocolate. Remembering all the other Dumbledore’s funny little habits, Harry’s eyes suddenly stung. He couldn’t do this.
“What happens if I don’t do what you want me to?”
“He’ll kill you first and the wizarding world will collapse,” Riddle said simply.
A shiver ran up Harry’s spine. There had been a time in his fifth year when he had thought Dumbledore did not have his best intentions at heart, but for the most part he trusted him – the other him, anyway – and the thought of either killing the other one was enough to make him feel sick. Suddenly a memory of recovering the fake Horcrux hit him, and he remembered force-feeding Dumbledore the potion and he did feel sick.
There was no way he could go through with this.
But if he didn’t …
Riddle was calmly watching his internal struggle, seeming confident that Harry would make the decision he wanted.
“The wizarding world will collapse more,” Riddle corrected himself. “Right now the only thing holding people up is you. If you back out – or fail – then their last hope will be gone and Dumbledore will rule for good.”
“Is this supposed to help?” Harry snapped.
“It’s supposed to make you see that you have no choice but to help!” Riddle shouted.
Harry shook his head. “I have a choice. I always have a choice.” He paused. “If there was one thing Dumbledore – my mentor Dumbledore, the other one – taught me, it’s that everyone always has a choice. ‘It is our choices that make us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.’ Or,” Harry added, “prophecies about said abilities.”
“That’s not true. Not the prophecy part. Prophecies are always correct, that’s why they’re made!”
A sudden thought struck Harry. “Riddle. If this was the other way round – if the prophecy was about you and me – would you expect it to come true?”
Riddle blinked. “Didn’t you hear what I just said?”
So he did. Harry thought hard. Back home – what was left of home – Voldemort was the one setting store by the prophecy, and Dumbledore said if Voldemort hadn’t heard it it wouldn’t have to come true. It looked like here it was the same. Remembering Riddle’s attitude and how it differed from Dumbledore’s, Harry realised something – though their motives may be different, it looked like their basic characteristics were the same. Which meant …
“Well, Dumbledore believes that prophecies don’t have to come true. So, that doesn’t mean he’ll hunt me, which means that if I don’t kill him it doesn’t mean he will kill me.” Harry knew it sounded muddled, but he was really thinking out loud rather than trying to explain to Riddle.
Riddle’s eyes narrowed. “And you expect a wizard like Dumbledore to take the chance that the prophecy will not be fulfilled, do you? Especially after he finds out you’re here? You think he hasn’t got supporters on the lookout everywhere, ready to report to him when you’re found?”
Harry’s insides twisted painfully. Maybe, for once, Dumbledore was wrong. Maybe he didn’t have a choice after all. Letting the wizarding world – this one – to rot, or killing someone he loved? What a choice.
See if I ever leave flowers on your grave again, Harry thought bitterly. If I ever get home.
Riddle had caught Harry and he knew it. He drew himself up so his tall figure was even taller. “That’s settled, then. You can come with me and I will fill you in on everything you need to know. Then -”
“Wait,” Harry said slowly. “I didn’t agree to do this.”
“Haven’t I just told you you don’t have a choice?”
“Oh, I have a choice,” Harry laughed darkly. “You see, I could walk away and let the wizarding world burn.”
Riddle stared at him. “You wouldn’t.”
“Up till now I wouldn’t have done,” Harry agreed. “But even if I try I will never be able to beat Dumbledore, and I have a job to do back home. I’m guessing if dying there brought me here, then dying here will take me back. All I have to do is let Dumbledore find me and then I can finish my job.”
“You’re crazy,” Riddle hissed. “You would let millions of innocent people suffer because of a job?”
Harry smiled at him. Suddenly he had the answer. “Not just any job, Riddle. Back home, I have the job of killing you, or millions of innocent people will suffer.” Harry couldn’t help but laugh at the look on Riddle’s face. “My choice really is to choose between my world or yours. And I choose mine.” He paused. “I wouldn’t be able to save yours anyway. Dumbledore’s too powerful for me.”
Riddle bristled. Whether it was Harry’s choice, or the fact that Harry had basically told Riddle Dumbledore was better, Harry didn’t know, but the next minute Riddle barked at Harry to follow him and unlocked the door.
Harry didn’t really care where he was going, until he saw a familiar gargoyle. His heart jumped so violently he thought he was going to be sick after all. He silently pleaded that Riddle wouldn’t take him up there, but he barked something in Latin and the gargoyle jumped aside. No Fawkes. No whirring silver instruments. The portraits on the walls were all of unrecognisable men and women. The Sorting Hat was the only thing he knew from the other universe. Harry hadn’t been in this office since Professor McGonagall had dragged him in to ask him where he’d gone with Dumbledore, That Night. It was so similar, and yet so different.
Riddle opened a familiar cabinet and brought out a Pensieve. Harry suddenly knew what was happening. His thought were confirmed as Riddle prodded the thoughts with his wand and a figure rose up out of it, revolving slowly, and began to speak in harsh tones.
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born as the seventh month dies … born to those who follow him, raised by those who despise him, where dark is light and light is dark … but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … marked with lightning by his enemy’s hand, he will be banished in green light and return by the same … to restore peace to the universe, two will become one and evil will become none … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …”
Silence fell in the headmaster’s office as the voice trailed off and the figure sank back into the Pensieve.
Finally, Harry broke the quiet. “I hate Divination.”