Harry felt a familiar tug behind his naval as he was yanked out of the Ministry and shifted five hundred miles north to the lakes of Scotland. He was completely unsurprised as he reappeared in Riddle's office, just as he had last year when it had been his turn. The lamp and the fire burst to life in response to a human presence, illuminating the cold office. The portraits on the walls stirred, including the large painting of Albus Dumbledore, presumably hopeful for the Headmaster's return. Harry nodded to the portrait of his former Headmaster before moving to the window-seat, which was long enough for him to lie Katie down on. The moonlight shone in through the window, bathing her in pale light and glistening off the tears on her cheeks as she lay there, staring unseeingly at the ceiling. Were it not for the devastated expr
Leaving Katie alone for a moment, Harry removed the Dark Knight's sword from his back and propped it up against the wall from where he had retrieved it a few hours ago. He tore off the remains of his jumper and threw them over the sword, then unclipped the armour and gently peeled it off his torso, trying not to disturb the base-layer t-shirt underneath which was caked to his skin by dried blood. Dropping it next to the sword, Harry debated how to deal with the t-shirt. He crossed to a mirror to inspect the damage. There was a deep gash in the bottom of his jaw, millimetres from his windpipe which was covered in crimson. Thankfully a crust had formed, stopping the bleeding, but it still looked pretty horrific as if his throat had been slit and blood had flowed down his front, giving him a scarlet bib. He knew that if he disturbed it too much, it would start bleeding again and he had already lost a lot of blood.
Carefully, Harry raised his wand to the neckline of his t-shirt. Scourgefy! The spell was on
Noticing a coat-stand just inside the door on which several cloaks and robes were hanging, he picked out a long black coat with silver cuffs and trim along the hems. The liner was soft and would not scrap his wounds but still keep him warm. Harry pulled on Riddle's coat, trying not to move his neck in the process. He buttoned it up, stopping a few inches below his neck. Picking up his t-shirt again, he rolled it up into a bandage and wrapped it around his neck covering the wound, then tied it off with the sleeves and buttoned the remains of the jacket.
Satisfied that he wasn't bleeding to death and that he didn't look like a zombie, Harry crossed back over to Katie and perched on the edge of the window seat. Katie didn’t move and continued to stare up at the ceiling steadfastly as Harry sat next to her, his eyes searching hers, trying to read her emotions. On impulse he gently raised a hand and swept a stray lock of hair out of her eyes. At his touch she startled and looked straight at him.
"Harry..." she groaned weakly, surveying the room in confusion.
She managed to sit up unaided, her eyes immediately focusing on the sword and armour propped up against the wall, topped by his bloody clothes. Harry realised he looked like an odd highwayman with a long black coat and the fabric of his t-shirt obscuring the bottom part of his face. She looked back up at him, but instead of her eyes rising to scan his scar as he was used to people doing, her line of vision sank to inspect the makeshift bandage on his neck. She stared at it for a second before looking up at him curiously.
"Why aren't we in the hospital wing?"
"Because you need to understand some things," said Harry, standing back up restlessly. "Madam Pomfrey doesn't have anything that can help you, anyway. Your scar and head should be alright in a day or so, trust me."
"That's just it, Harry... or whoever you are: How can I trust you when you lie to me all year?" Her eyes had turned hostile and her tone accusing. "I don’t even know you."
"What do you want to know?" Harry asked her. The time of reckoning had come, and he knew he had a lot of explaining to do.
"For starters," Katie said, "Who are you really, and where do you fit in all this?"
Harry wasn’t sure she was ready to hear the answer to that yet so he said, "I'm here to make sure Riddle tells you the truth."
"Yeah, right," Katie scoffed, angrier now. She swung her legs off the seat and sat upright, resting her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands. The anger was coming now, taking the place of the despair. Harry remembered it well. He remembered smashing various instruments for the hell of it, hoping the destruction would make him feel better. Would Katie be able to control her anger, or did Hell really have no fury like a woman scorned?
"What would you know about truth?" she demanded. "All these weeks you pretend nothing has happened to you, and all the while you’re hiding...what we saw tonight."
"I'm sorry," said Harry sincerely, knowing that she was right. He stood up and pulled a nearby chair around to face her, giving her enough room to move. "I thought I was helping you by staying out of the way. Evidentially I was wrong. If I had been with you earlier today, I..."
"You could have what?" snapped Katie. "Stopped me from going?"
"I could have warned you not to trust those visions," he said quietly, his voice full of the regret that he felt.
Her eyebrows shot up as she realised what he meant. "You knew this was going to happen, didn't you?" Her face was thunderous as she glared at him.
"I suspected something like this would happen," admitted Harry. "I should have known that sooner or later he would try to get you to go there."
"Why didn't you tell me?" demanded Katie, her voice a mixture of fury and pleading. "If I had known beforehand, I never would have gone. Sirius would never have..." she trailed off, her whole body shaking with anger.
Harry hesitated. He couldn’t tell her the truth, could he? He couldn't say that he had been hoping to have left by this time, leaving her to face this danger alone. He couldn't make her see, not in the state she was now, so cut up over Sirius. And somehow he knew that she blamed him. She already thought it was his fault Sirius was dead and she didn't even know that he had distracted him tonight, most likely causing his death. He was guilty, just not in the way she imagined.
Get over it, the Dark Knight snapped impatiently. He was dead either way, so stop snivelling about it and move on!
"I'm sorry you had to go through that, Katie," Harry said stiffly, avoiding an answer. "I know how hard this is and what Sirius meant to you."
"NO YOU DON'T!" she shouted at him. Her shrill voice pierced his ears as she bellowed, her face red with rage as tears continued to stream down her face. "You don't know what it was like. He was the closest thing to a father I have ever known. He was everything to me, and now he's gone!" She burst into tears.
Harry had never been good at this sort of thing but he managed to keep the grimace from his face. He gently rested his hand on her shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting gesture but she immediately shook him off, glaring at him in the process.
"Okay..." he said hesitantly, taking a step back and raising both palms in surrender. "I’m just trying to help."
"Help?" she snapped. "You lie to us and then suddenly want to help. You don't know anything!"
"I know more than you might imagine," said Harry dryly, his voice as calm and as soothing as he could make it without being patronising ? he hoped.
"Oh," she said angrily, oozing sarcasm. "So you know what it’s like to have the closest thing to a father you have ever known murdered in front of you? You know what it’s like to be hunted every hour of every day because the Dark Lord is after you? You know what it’s like for the whole world to think you’re mad and a liar?"
"Yes," he snapped back, trying, but failing, to remain calm and not get angry at the irony of those accusations. "I know you can't understand this right now, but I’m probably the on
Katie's head shot up and she stared into his eyes.
"How...?" she stammered, tears still flowing down her cheeks.
Harry ignored the question and stood up. "You have many questions, and you definitely deserve answers. Tonight, you are going to learn everything. I am going to make sure Riddle tells you what he should have told you seven years ago. I am going to tell you everything."
"Everything," confirmed Harry. "Why you were attacked when you were a baby, why he is after you now, what was in the Ministry tonight, and most imp
"How do you know all this?" asked Katie. Her rage seemed to have gone, and her voice was now pleading, on the verge of tears on
"Because I on
"I don't..." began Katie but she was cut off as the fireplace erupted into green flames and Riddle stepped out into the office. He smoothed his robes down and unconcernedly swept soot from his shoulder, as if it were a normal day.
Harry's hand had instantly moved to the wand in his pocket, just in case. He ached all over, was still bleeding in places, and wanted nothing more than to go to bed, but he needed this to be done. Harry stepped away from Katie and began to pace in nervous anticipation of the conversation they were about to have, gripping his wand tightly in case Riddle tried anything funny.
Riddle drew himself up to his full height and looked around the office, first at Katie and then at Harry. Katie had sat up straight again, and was staring expectantly at Riddle. Harry on the other hand was wearing Riddle's own jacket, had his hand on his wand, and was pacing back and forth. Riddle paused for a second, his eyes appraising both of them, before he crossed over to Harry.
"Let me see your neck," he directed firmly.
Harry hesitated for a moment, but he knew he needed medical attention. He released his wand back into his holster and raised two hands to untie the makeshift bandage. As he dropped it on the desk, Riddle stepped closer and the lamp grew in brightness.
Harry drew back instinctively as Riddle extended an arm and lightly pressed Harry's head backwards. His fingers were cold to the touch and Harry felt a sickening wave of dread and nausea come across him as Lord Voldemort's fingers moved lightly over his throat. It took all his control not to throw him off. It was like a Dementor grabbing him, crossed with the knowledge that he was exposing his throat to a monster and fully expected him to slit it at any moment. Somehow, Harry managed to belay his baser instincts and stand still. Riddle raised his wand, and Harry felt himself tense. He could see in his peripheral vision a glow of blue light and then an icy coolness flowed into his neck before he felt the whole area go numb and then tighten. He assumed that the wound was closing itself, but he couldn't tell.
After a few more seconds Riddle finished his work. Relief flooded Harry as the headmaster released him and, with a quick glance at Katie, Riddle took his seat behind the desk. The Headmaster suddenly looked wearier than Harry had ever seen him. He reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a bottle and two small glasses. He removed the stopper from the bottle and Harry was able to spell the spicy aroma of pepper-up potion. Riddle poured a measure into each of the glasses and offered on
Having put the potion away, Riddle faced Katie, regarding her carefully, a surprising hint of pity and guilt in his eyes. She swallowed the potion and returned his stare with a glare of her own that was part anger, part relief.
So you should feel guilty, you bastard, thought Harry coldly as he ignored Katie and stared back at Riddle. She has no idea what you’ve kept from her all these years, how justified her anger at you really is...
Then Riddle's eyes moved on to Harry. There was caution there, as well as triumph. It was that later expr
"This has been a long night for all of us," said Riddle at last, turning back to Katie. "I know you are both tired, but I must ask you to stay awhile. We have many things to discuss."
"Damn right, we do," muttered Harry, though Riddle ignored him.
Katie rose from the window seat and sank into the chair in front of Riddle's desk. She glanced from Riddle to Harry and back.
"Harry said you were going to tell me everything," she said, her tone slightly accusing.
"Yes," said Riddle gently. "Mr. Potter is correct. The time has come for you to know everything."
"That time came and went years ago, Tom," said Harry, coldly.
"Now see here!" interrupted an indignant voice to Harry’s right. "You can’t talk to the headmaster like..."
"Thank you Phineas," interrupted Riddle, his eyes never leaving Harry. The portrait fell silent and the headmaster continued to survey Harry.
Riddle did not appear angry or even surprised, "Normally I would ask that you leave us, Mr. Potter, but it seems you are more central to our situation than was first thought. I think the time has also come for you to tell us all what you should have told us when you first arrived here."
Harry hesitated. There was a look of victory in the Headmaster's eyes, and Harry got the distinct impression that he knew more about where Harry came from than he was letting on. Riddle may not be the evil monster Harry was used to, but he was still cunning, which made him dangerous. There was no way he would let the Headmaster weasel his way out of telling Katie what she needed to know.
"In turn," replied Harry evenly, his jaw clenched painfully. "I will tell you, certainly. But first, Katie has a right to know her part in this, since she’s the victim here. I'm going to make sure you tell her everything. I want to hear you tell her why she has no parents, why she was attacked when she was on
Riddle's face seemed as placid as ever. He didn't even react or ask how Harry could possibly know this. It was almost as if he had been expecting this conversation.
"How much do you know?" he asked in a tone so casual, he might have been asking if Harry knew what the latest cricket scores were, and this on
"I know the whole thing," said Harry, his tone openly hostile now. "I know all about your Divination interview with Trelawney. I know what was said, and what was overheard. I also know what pathetic excuse you are going give for what you have done to Katie. But I want to hear it from you. You've ignored and deceived her all year and had her go through torturous Occlumency lessons with little to no explanation, and don't get me started on Umbridge! Can't you see that she needs to know? Tell her, Tom, or I will."
Riddle surveyed Katie for a moment and Harry saw a look at great sadness and regret cross his face, which on
"Yes," the Headmaster said at last, "I have made a grave error of judgement, on
"Don't lay that on me," retorted Harry angrily. "I was on
"As was I," replied Riddle firmly. "Fault my methods by all means, but please do not suggest that I would ever knowingly endanger any of my students."
It was an argument that would have sounded more sincere from Dumbledore and might even have humbled Harry were it not spoken from the lips of Lord Voldemort.
"Protecting her by deceiving her?" Harry mocked him. "Just like you told me my parents died in an accident? Does the truth mean nothing to you?"
"I was trying to spare you the heartache by distancing you from the danger, just as I was with Miss Bell," replied Riddle, sounding impatient for the first time.
"Distance her?" Harry shot back. "Protect her by removing her from the on
"ENOUGH!" screamed Katie, jumping to her feet and sending the chair toppling over backwards with a loud crash. "Both of you shut up! The two of you stand there talking about me as if I am not even here!"
Her eyes flashed dangerously as she continued her rant, cowing the two males in the room. "Who lost their godfather tonight? ME! Who has been ignored," she glared at Riddle who looked away guiltily, "lied to," she glared at Harry causing his face to redden in embarrassment, "and put through Hell this year? ME! I don't care what arguments you have with each other. Both of you know whatever you are about to tell me, and both of you have kept it from me. I am tired and sore. In case you’ve forgotten, tonight I lost the closest thing to family I have, so give me on
If the situation had been less serious, Harry would have pointed out that the door she was referring to was locked. However, this was no time for jokes. Katie's words had cut him to the core. He was as bad as Riddle. She was right, he had known all the time the reason why it was her, and yet he had not told her. Her anger would on
Harry was temporarily at a loss for words, but Riddle seemed to recover first.
"Your anger is entirely justified, Kathryn," he conceded. "In keeping the truth from you, both Harry and I have done you a great injustice. Though it means nothing at such a late hour, it seems that we both made our choices with the best intent."
"The best intent," she scoffed. "Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intent. I bet it was a real comfort to the people of Hiroshima. Thousands dead, but hey Einstein invented it with the best intent, so it’s all alright!"
Riddle sighed deeply, resting his head on his hands. He hoped to live to see Voldemort looking just as tired as Riddle now did.
Tell her you bastard, Harry screamed inwardly. Dumbledore had told Harry, and now it was Riddle's turn to tell Katie. Prove me wrong...show me you do have a decent side to you.
"The worst things imaginable," Riddle repeated softly. "Yes, I have had many failings these past months, culminating in the loss of Sirius tonight."
Katie flinched at the sound of the name, resting her chin on her chest. She swayed slightly where she stood.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he bent down and picked up the chair Katie had knocked over. He placed it back on its legs just behind her.
"Sit down," he said kindly. "We are going to tell you what you want... or rather need to know."
Katie looked back and forth between them for a second before sinking into the chair. She crossed her legs and put both hands in her lap, suddenly looking very small and meek. Harry felt another wave of pity for her. He wished there was some way to protect her from the heartbreak to come. If there was a way to lessen her anguish, he would do it. He felt so helpless standing there watching the silent tears cascade down her face.
"Nearly seven years have passed since you arrived at Hogwarts," began Riddle slowly. "And every year I should have told you what I now must. I foresaw this day, this conversation, ever since I left you on the doorstep of your aunt. You were in more danger than any but I knew. I knew that he was gone, but I also knew he would return... be it ten years, or twenty. I have fought Grindelwald long enough to know what he would never rest until he had killed you, so your future had to be decided then and there. I knew that standard defensive spells would never be enough should he return to full power, so I looked to the past, to what had defeated him in the first place ? your mother's sacrifice. I therefore decided to place my trust in your mother's blood and sent you to live with your closest relative, your Aunt Gillian."
"But she hates me..." protested Katie.
"But she still took you," interrupted Harry before Riddle could answer. "In taking you into the place where your mother's blood resides, she sealed the magic that has kept you safe, the strongest magic available, and the on
"Just as he did this year and all last summer?" said Katie miserably.
Harry could on
"There are unhappy consequences to all plans," the Headmaster conceded, his eyes fixed on Katie on
Katie stared into Riddle's eyes as he spoke, tears still trickling down her cheeks. Harry could on
"After your return from the Chamber a year later," continued Riddle. "I should have again told you, and yet I did not. You were still too young. As Harry also pointed out, the flaw has emerged."
Katie glanced up at Harry, a look of confusion plastered over her face. He didn't blame her for not understanding. Dumbledore had asked Harry if he saw a pattern before it even had a chance to repeat itself. It seemed that Riddle was no better a narrator.
"It's a paradox," sighed Harry, shaking his head in exasperation and pacing the room. "All this year he has ignored you, sacrificing your happiness for duty, and it was the same when he left you that doorstep. What did it matter that you were neglected and bullied, if his great weapon against the Dark Lord was safe and in a few years would be ready for use?"
With every sentence Harry found himself enjoying it more. Every accusation was a nail in Riddle's coffin, further proof that he was the cold-hearted bastard that Harry knew him to be. Harry had been looking forward to this, showing Katie what Tom Riddle was really like and exposing him as a master manipulator. He wanted to see the look on Riddle's face when all his crimes were laid out in front of him. Harry found that as he progressed down the list of Riddle' failings the smile spread further across his lips.
"Then when you get here," he said excitedly, the smile growing wider, "all of a sudden everything inexplicably changes. Now that he's seen you, looked you in the eye, things are different. He doesn't tell you the truth because he cares more about your happiness than he does in preparing you for the battle both he and I know you must face eventually. What did he care that hundreds may suffer in future days, when you were happy now? Then at the beginning of this year ?" Harry snapped his fingers ? "he flips again and is back to neglecting and preserving you. He jumps from on
"What the hell are you grinning about?" snapped Katie, rising to her feet. "Do you think this is funny? Do you think that this is some great story? If it were, the author would be a complete prick! What you find so amusing happens to be my life! You stand there telling me about all his failings and loving it the entire time, but for each failing I have suffered and lost someone. This isn't a game! You aren't scoring points against each other. This is my life, so get a God-damned grip!"
Harry opened his mouth to say something but shut it abruptly as Katie continued, still on a rant.
"And another thing..." Her eyes flew from Harry to Riddle and back again. "You can't stand there and accuse him of playing God with my life when you knew all this and failed to warn me. That’s just plain hypocritical. You’re no better than he is."
Her eyes snapped coldly as she pointed her finger at him accusingly. "Pot," she said with venom, then turned her finger on Riddle. "...Kettle. And from where I stand you’re both the same colour."
Harry recoiled under her wrath, knowing with every word that she was right. He had longed to show Riddle up, to throw it in his face, but he had never stopped to consider the impact it would have on Katie. Harry had used her as a tool in a petty game of on
He had sat in this office a few months earlier, nurturing his anger at Dumbledore and thinking that the old man should have done better, that if he had been in Dumbledore's shoes, he would have told Harry all about the Prophecy and not tried to manipulate him. Now, on
"You are correct," Riddle said to Katie, before Harry could think of a response. "We have both made the same mistake, and it was a costly on
Katie shot a glare at each of them before sitting back down and nodding to the Headmaster.
"The following year, Kathryn," continued Riddle, "I watched from afar as you battled Dementors and found the truth about Sirius. I almost brought myself to tell you that year, but you were so flush from your victory, having swiped Sirius from the clutches of death, that I dared not break the moment. By now my excuses were running out. The following summer was packed with disappearances ? I mentioned them to you on
Riddle shifted in his seat and leaned forward.
"That scar is the physical manifestation of a link between your mind and that of the Dark Lord’s," began Riddle. "It was forged when the curse rebounded. In your early years here at Hogwarts it served as an alarm bell, if I am not mistaken, and I guessed what that meant. My suspicions were confirmed when you began to dream of him before the Tournament. I feared that he would try to use you through that scar, a theory which I am sorry to say was proved correct this evening."
"He used it to lure me to the Ministry," said Katie, understanding where this was going. "But it was useful, like the night I saw Mr. Weasley being attacked."
"Yes," interrupted Harry. "Unfortunately, you never stopped to consider that a door on
"Indeed," conceded Riddle. "And I must confess, I knew Grindelwald might try to access your mind. I knew that you should learn Occlumency, but I dared not teach you myself in fear of giving him access to my mind, to my knowledge. As such, I chose to keep my distance, to make you a less tempting target."
"So he can enter my mind any time he likes?" asked Katie, looking between them uncertainly.
"Yes and no," said Harry, before Riddle could respond. "While he has the ability to do it, he has spectacularly underestimated you. His plan was to pop in, deliver a false image, and then leave. However, he failed to notice that you had witnessed the night Arthur Weasley was attacked. Like you, he failed to realise that the connection works both ways, and until now, he did not see the danger in the connection. Whatever you think of your ability at Occlumency, you are stronger than you realise. Tonight when he possessed you, you gave him the mother of all brain-storms, so much so that he will think twice before daring to enter your mind again."
"But how... what did I do?" asked Katie bewildered.
"What did you think of when he was inside you?" asked Harry in a patient voice, knowing very well what she had thought of to drive Grindelwald from her mind.
Katie just stared at him, her jaw trembling and a vacant look on her face.
"You thought of your parents and Sirius, didn't you?" he asked, receiving a small nod in response. "Your love for them was what drove him out. It sounds corny, but he genuinely cannot bear to feel it. You hurt him tonight, and I believe that he will not dare to try that again... maybe even go as far as to employ Occlumency against you."
"But that's on
Harry could on
"Harry is right," said Riddle slowly. "I would expect Grindelwald to be very cautious of entering your mind again after such a defeat tonight. Although he succeeded in luring you to the Ministry with it, tonight's experience has shown him the dangers of your mind."
"It's too late now," said Katie, staring at her feet. "The damage is done. Sirius is..." she trailed off.
Harry remembered the feeling of guilt all too well, but he also remembered that he had refused to listen to words of comfort. He knew that Katie would not listen if he tried to comfort her ? it was better to let her cry herself dry and speak to her later.
"And you haven't answered the question," continued Katie, finding her courage on
Harry and Riddle exchanged a quick glance before Riddle answered.
"You may recall in August after you first came to Grimmauld Place, Sirius told you what he was after," replied Riddle. "Against everyone's advice, he told you what we suspected."
"He said Grindelwald was after something he didn't have last time," said Katie. "A weapon?"
"Not exactly," replied Riddle. "It was a Prophecy. The whole point of tonight's operation was to get hold of that Prophecy, a task that Grindelwald ultimately failed to do. Ever since he regained his body he has been after it, determined to hear what was said, and we have been guarding it."
"This Prophecy is the whole reason for everything," Harry elaborated. "It was why he was after you to begin with when you were just a baby. He on
"So you knew about this so called Prophecy?" she replied, staring aghast at the pair of them, her tone accusing. "You both knew he would try to get me to go there to retrieve it for him? You knew he would try to trick me, and you never warned me. Why?"
It was the Headmaster who answered first. "Because I believed it would endanger you," said Riddle, sadly. "I tried to let you live your life as normally as possible, believing that if I kept my distance it would keep you safe. I thought that as long as you were at Hogwarts he couldn’t get to you. It was a mistake that has cost us all dearly."
"Cost me dearly," Katie corrected him.
"I think it's time we heard the Prophecy," said Harry, gesturing to the Pensieve. He didn't want this to turn into a full blown argument when there was still so much to get through. Also, he was interested to hear if the Prophecy was the same.
"It broke," said Katie in a dejected voice. "It fell when I was helping Ginny."
"The copy was destroyed," Harry corrected her. "The original still exists. In fact it is right in front of you in the Pensieve."
Katie turned to look at the shimmering bowl on the table, a terrified expr
Riddle slowly leaned forward and stirred the Pensieve with his wand. As the three of them watched, a familiar figure wrapped in shawls emerged from the bowl, rotating as she recited words so similar, yet very different in their meaning.
The silence in the room was absolute.
"That was Professor Trelawney, wasn't it?" asked Katie softly. Her eyes were wide, and she stared unblinkingly at the Pensieve before her where Sybil Trelawney had stood seconds before.