Chapter 20 : Too Late
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Previously on Harry Potter and the Green Flame Torch: Exams are over, but things are only beginning for Harry and his friends when they spend a day in Hogsmeade that is much stranger than it already seems... Harry is led to the Hog's Head by Hermione, and follows her by Floo Powder to a place where red eyes stare back at him...
Harry fell out of the fireplace, slamming onto cold, stone floor face-first. His glasses skittered out infront of him, and he hurriedly slipped them back on.
The room came into focus. Dusty brick walls enclosed the small dark space and Harry saw a single door and window opposite the fireplace. A long crack ran through one of the walls, ending in a crumbling hole at the top. And in the centre of it all, leaning against the only object in the whole room, was Lord Voldemort.
“How predictable,” he said softly, fingering his wand with his long spidery hands and taking a step forwards.
Light fell through the crack in the wall onto his face, and Harry shuddered as he recognized the pale man with slits for a nose and piercing red eyes.
He’d been trapped, once again.
Voldemort smiled, and Harry realized he looked slightly different from what he remembered. As if he was… Younger, somehow.
Knowing that in these situations talking did little to help him, Harry remained silent. He watched Voldemort step away from what he had been leaning against, revealing a tall, marble statue of some kind, with a hollow basin at the top.
Where is Hermione? Harry wondered to himself, staggering to his feet. Before he could draw his wand, Voldemort had already waved his own and Harry felt as if pulled by an invisible force, onto the marble object. The situation was strangely familiar…
“Bind him, Nagini. Him and the Mudblood too. ”
Harry struggled, but found that he was still incapable of moving, and panicked when he heard Voldemort’s enormous snake sliging over the stone floor towards him. It wrapped it’s scaly body around Harry, suffocating him and crushing his ribs. Someone whimpered at the other side.
“Hermione?” Harry whispered through gritted teeth.
The moments before in the Hog’s Head, that seemed so far away now, came rushing back at him.
Voldemort’s cold, high-pitched laughter echoed off the walls.
“Still worried about your Mudblood? A true son of your foolish father.”
Harry recoiled. Voldemort knew about Hermione. He’d been too obvious, too outspoken about his feelings for her and now he knew. And he would kill her.
“At least I’m not a coward!” Harry cried out.
He had to stall for time, so that he could find a way out of that place. He had to keep Voldemort talking. And the best way to do that, was hurting his pride.
“A coward?” Voldemort stiffened.
“Why else would I be tied up here?” Harry demanded. “You’re afraid of me. You’re afraid I’ll kill you, like the Prophecy says.”
He only knew about the first part of it, after all.
Harry felt a hand squeezing his arm.
“Don’t make him angry!” Hermione whispered.
But Voldemort was smiling again. He circled them slowly, his long black cloak trailing over the floor. Whenever Harry lost him from view, he felt chills creep up his spine.
“Do you really think I don’t know?” he asked softly. “You can’t lie to Lord Voldemort, foolish boy.”
Harry was drenched in cold sweat. He had to clear his mind, so that Voldemort wouldn’t know what he was thinking. But how could he practice Occlumency when he was moment away from a sure death?
“Closing your mind to me won’t help…” There was a hint of satisfaction in his cold voice. “The connection that I have long cursed, your scar, are things I’ve realized recently are useful. Without them I wouldn’t know what you are thinking, what Dumbledore is planning…”
Voldemort paused, piercing his eyes into Harry’s. His scar burned violently, but the snake held him in place and he could do no more than grit his teeth and bear it.
“Ever since I possesed you in the Department of Mysteries, it seems, the connection has only gotten stronger… I manage to keep you from reading my thoughts most of the time, but yours are as easy for me to access as Wormtail is to cry…”
His scarlet pupils flicked to Hermione and back onto Harry's face.
“That includes the Mudblood, of course, as well as the Prophecy.”
Harry’s heart sank. Not only was he mortally humilliated and frightened by the idea that Voldemort had been looking into his head for the entire year, knowing about Hermione and things that were far more important, but he now knew about the Prophecy.
This time he wouldn’t escape.
What Voldemort was saying did make sense, it explained why at crucial moments throughout the year, talking to Ron about Hermione, or Apparating, he had felt his scar burn. As a reminder that Voldemort was watching? Or was it because he was pleased to uncover things important to him?
But why, then, had his scar prevented him from falling off the stone windowsill in the Owlery that day? Voldemort had to want him dead- unless he still needed him for something else…
What about his strange dreams? Harry remembered the two that had left the geatest impression on him, one of Hermione’s face behind the Veil, and the other one, of the Green Flame Torch…
Voldemort sneered, and Harry knew that he could see exactly what he was thinking.
“I must admitt, I never counted on there being another person to use as bait that would prove as efficient as Black.”
Harry felt a surge of anger within him.
Voldemort wouldn’t stop until he murdered everyone that Harry cared about.
“Let Hermione go… You’ve got what you wanted, I’m here, you don’t need her anymore…”
Something about the look in Voldemort’s blood-red eyes told him he was wrong.
“I doubt you’re in a position to be ordering anyone around, Harry Potter,” he laughed.
“Unfortunately two years ago, I realized that you could not be placed under the Imperius curse easily… I couldn’t take you to this horrible house on your own. The Mudblood, however, was easy to place under a faithful Death Eater’s curse… And, using the information so generously provided for me, it was even easier to let her lure you away under false pretences…”
Harry fought for air. Worse, even, than being spied on continually, was to be so painfully tricked… Voldemort had planned everything, and nothing of what Hermione had said was true… No wonder she had been acting so strangely. He should have seen right through it, the real Hermione would never have said the things she did.
“I’m sorry Harry…” Hermione whispered behind him. “I don’t think Professor McGonagall was herself either…” Her voice shook.
Harry recalled Dobby banging his head wildly against the wall of Hogsmeade, as he always did when he wanted to tell Harry something but couldn't. But how could McGonagall possibly be a loyal Death Eater? It didn't make any sense. And Harry was tired of Voldemort's games.
"Why are you wasting your time talking? Just kill me and get it over with, Tom!"
There was a brief moment of satisfaction after Harry addressed Voldemort in the way that Dumbledore had done.
Suddenly he felt very stupid. He wasn’t Dumbledore, and he was no match for an enraged Voldemort. He had to watch his words.
But Voldemort was unmoved. His mouth had twitched slightly at the mention of his Muggle name, but other than that he showed no signs of anger. He had, however, stopped pacing and faced Harry alone. There was a deadly silence in which he could hear the beating of his own heart.
“That is not the sole purpose of this visit, Harry Potter,” Voldemort said softly. “I could have murdered you as soon as you rolled out of that fireplace, but instead I have chosen to fill you in on what your last moments will be spent doing, and why. I would have thought you’d be at least a bit more grateful.”
One of Harry’s hands sneaked down slowly into his robes, but was stopped by a crushing spasm of the giant snake.
“The reason I brought you here is one you should already be familiar with. Haven’t you done your occasional research on it?”
What was Voldemort talking about?
“What else do you think you’re tied to, a simple statue placed here as decoration?”
Suddenly, it hit him. But why? It couldn’t possibly be…
“The Green Flame Torch. I daresay you don’t know the full story behind it. Created by Godric Gryffindor, his creation emitted green flames that destroyed anything of an evil nature and restored all good natured things, bringing them together to form one… Or so he said. In truth, the Torch was no more than an attempt to bring the Wizarding world under his command, and force it to live in a way that the fool Dumbledore would have adored. Muggles, Mudbloods, and Purebloods, all united under the Torch…”
Harry didn’t like the sarcastic tone in which Voldemort spoke of Dumbledore at all.
“My ancestor, Slytherin, found out about Gryffindor’s plan and searched for it… Where other than in his own home?”
Harry needed only to glance out of the room’s window for an instant to understand what this meant.
Gryffindor’s house. Godric’s Hollow.
“Slytherin added an element to the Torch that changed it for good... His own blood. Now, the Green Flame Torch no longer united the people it cast light upon under good, but under the holder.” Voldemort sounded as though he was savouring each of his own words. His eyes shone a bright colour.
“Do you see, Potter? The brilliance of it… Once I relight this torch I will be the most powerful man to walk on our world, without the need of Death Eaters or Imperius curses… Everyone will belong to me. Including Dumbledore. Including you.”
Harry felt his breathing come faster as he panicked, his eyes darting around the room. This was worse than he had thought. No wonder Voldemort had been
so interested in the Green Flame Torch... Not to destroy it, but to use it to his own advantage. If he managed to light that Torch, everyone and everything would become his slaves... Once that happened, Voldemort could even order Harry to kill himself. He had to leave, to warn someone...
Voldemort seemed to sense his fear as his nostrils dilated and a self-indulging smile crept across his face.
"This is where the Mudblood comes in."
Harry felt all the air sucked out of his lungs. He heard Hermione gasping behind him, and the snake loosened its grip for a brief moment. Then it tightened it's hold of Harry again, and he watched, horrified, as Hermione floated over his head and onto the floor. She was even paler than before, and seemed nailed to the floor from the shock of standing right next to Voldemort himself- she had never seen him before.
"NO! DON'T TOUCH HER!"
Harry yelled, struggling furiously against the thick, scaly body of the snake. He couldn't understand why Hermione was just standing there.
With a shock of recognition, he suddenly understood the meaning of one of his many dreams.
He was pulling back the veil, staring straight into Hermione's soft brown eyes...
"It's too late..."
Flashing back to the reality of Godric's Hollow, Harry watched in horror as Voldemort raised his long, spidery hand and aimed his wand at Hermione.
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