Another one bites the dust
Well, I admit it. I messed up.
Yes, I believed that even with a new baby in my life, I'd have about an hour a day to write.
I shall pause so that those of you with children can laugh your buttocks off.
Hopefully, not that the little one is into a routine and sleeping through the night, I'll also get more sleep, which in turn means I won't have to doze on the train into work, and can once more whip out the laptop and stumble my way through another fic.
Please bear with me, normal service will resume soon. In perhaps a year or so...
Ron and I had already decided not to give the goblins a description of just what occurred down in the catacombs. Not only would we implicate ourselves in some unauthorized, explosive-driven excavations without the correct permits, but we probably also gave an expensive guard dragon a bad case of blow back, not to mention the concussion. Add to that the fact that we used a prohibited item that could interfere with the nature of causality, and now possessed an item described as the most foul in existence. Basically, you end up with a situation where, if the Ministry was to find out what occurred, Ron and I would die of old age before the bickering between all the departments about who got to prosecute us first was done.
It took some doing, but eventually Rilifa decided that her time was far more valuable that to spend it interrogating an uncooperative pair of teenagers about some odd events occurring well below her feet. Ron’s constant requests for food may well have played a small part in our hasty exit too.
We stepped out into Muggle London and wandered around for a little while until we found a restaurant that looked interesting. I treated Ron to a massive meal (accompanied by a large number of exotically named drinks in odd-shaped glasses) to celebrate our pilfering from under the goblins’ noses. Now that he was earning more in a season than his father was in three years, just for playing in the reserves for the Cannons, Ron was far less sensitive about me spending my money on him. Thinking back, I probably owed him a meal or three from when we were traveling around France. I’m pretty sure he paid for more than his share to subtly impress Susan.
As if his two metres plus frame wasn’t enough to do that. It certainly impressed the four waitresses in the restaurant who each somehow managed to find something to do near our table while they weren’t whispering in hushed tones together while giving Ron some very appraising looks.
Even with a disgusting Horcrux in my backpack at my feet, time seemed to just fly by. I’d forgotten how much fun it was to just talk with Ron about Quidditch. The more we drank, the more expansive our gestures became, as we recounted moments from games past. He had a rather unique perspective now, having been picked as a reserve for a first class team. Of course, first class was a relative term when used to describe the Chudley Cannons. The only reason the team still existed was the enormous trust set up by their original benefactor. Still, Ron was easily the match for their current keeper in terms of skill alone. In terms of height, arm-span and strength, the current keeper could hardly keep up. It was only his record of saving the most attempts at goal (held continuously for the past five years) that kept him in the senior team. The fact that he also let through more goals than any other keeper in the same period was overlooked.
What Ron (and I too, to tell the truth) found most amusing though, was when a tiny fellow dressed in orange nervously came up to our table and stammered out a request for an autograph. Initially, Ron had thought that the little tyke was after my mark. When it became obvious that the kid had no idea who I was, Ron’s sense of irony kicked in, and he could hardly control his laughter as he gave the young Cannons fan an extravagantly loopy signature (his first) on the back of a napkin. Yep, Ron’s career looked promising. Especially if he could get over the fact that he didn’t need to play for his beloved Cannons, he’d be snapped up in a heartbeat by nearly any team who were looking for a long-term investment in a promising young keeper.
At any rate, both Ron and I were both rather drunk and sporting regular yawns by sunset, along with a bad case of time-turner-lag. We found an alley out of the way from prying eyes and apparated back to Grimmauld place, an action that probably would have cost us a rather large fine if caught by the Ministry, not to mention a prolonged stay at St Mungos if we had been a little less skillful.
“So, what are you going to do with this thing?” Ron asked while gesturing towards the locket in my backpack, his eyes a little bloodshot.
Before I could answer, Blaise swept regally into the room. “Harry! Where have you been?” she asked before noting Ron’s presence. “Weasley,” she greeted him with a cautious nod.
Ron returned the nod with an appreciative grin. Blaise wasn’t wearing a bra, and judging by the sweat stains around her neck and down her chest, had obviously been working out. “Zabini,” he replied.
Unconcerned with her petite, but well shaped frame being on display, she turned back to me. “Well?”
“Soul searching,” I slurred slightly with a giggle. Hey, I wasn’t lying.
She frowned. “What?”
Ron grinned and butted into the conversation. “We just robbed Gringotts,” he said with pride.
I rolled my eyes and sighed. Drunk-Ron didn’t have a single subtle bone in his body. “Mate, we’re not supposed to tell anyone else, remember?” I scolded him. Mind you, thinking back, Sober-Ron isn’t much better.
He blinked at me. “Oh, yeah. Sorry,” he said, sounding anything but.
Blaise glanced between the pair of us, a dubious expression on her face. “You robbed the Goblins?” she half-shrieked.
I drew myself up to my full height, about level with Ron’s armpit. “We most certainly did not!” I said indignantly, though my slight swaying must have detracted from the tone I was trying to project.
Ron put his fists on his hips, a dopey grin on his lips. “That’s right! We robbed Harry’s vault!” he said happily. “You’d have to be daft to rob the Goblins!” he concluded, wagging a finger at her.
I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to think through the fog of fatigue and alcohol to mount a better defense. “Ron, please shut up anytime you feel like it, ok?”
Blaise frowned at us, trying to decipher drunk-Ron-speak. She seemed to be pretty good at it, given her next statement. “Harry, you can take anything out of a vault you own at any time, you know,” she said patiently, as though talking to children.
I nodded impatiently. “I know that! We were only trying to stop us from robbing me,” I said, explaining as eloquently as possible, given the circumstances.
She blinked slowly, but just looked at me, an expression of frustrated incomprehension on her pretty face. She finally opened her mouth and asked, “Will it be safe to send Weasley home by himself?”
My eyes widened as my imagination ran wild with visions of Ron describing his day to his mother in a drunken slur. “Absolutely not,” I replied emphatically.
Blaise gave me a sour look. “Of course not,” she said sarcastically. “You,” she snapped, pointing at Ron. “Come here!”
Ron gave her chest a detailed ogle, but still retained a healthy dose of respect for the volatile Slytherin. “Why?” he asked, nervously.
She sighed, but reached out with her wand and tapped Ron on the forehead, muttering something under her breath. “There, now you won’t think the world is coming to an end tomorrow. Winky!” she called.
The nervous house elf appeared in a flash. “Mistress?”
“Take this big oaf down to one of the guest rooms, please. You may want to get Dobby to remove anything breakable between here and there, just in case.”
Winky gave a small curtsey. “Yes, Mistress,” she said, before heading off with Ron. My friend compliantly followed along, but as they left the room he asked Winky if she would mind making him a snack.
Once Ron had been led away in the direction of the kitchen, Blaise rounded on me, and on seeing my inquisitive expression said, “Hangover-prevention charm. Now, just what in Salazar’s name is going on?”
I sighed, figuring that she had a right to know what I was up to. I put the backpack on the coffee table and rummaged through it, pulling out the foul necklace. “Looking for this,” I said.
She frowned for a half-second before gasping with shock. “That’s what the Headmaster and Granger brought with them to St. Mungos!” she blurted. “The night you left for Europe.”
I shook my head. “Not exactly. They found a replica made by my second cousin. This is the original.”
Blaise looked at the locket reverently. “Salazar Slytherin’s locket? That is his actual property?” she asked reverently, reaching out for it.
I nodded absently, but frowned as something she said kicked my alcohol-infused brain. “Just how did you know who it belonged to?” I demanded, pulling it back out of her reach.
She suddenly looked like a caged animal, biting her lower lip. “I, ah, I sort of overheard Granger and Dumbledore talking in his ward after they got back,” she said, her cheeks taking on an ever-so-slight pinkish hue. “I told you in Italy that they came in for treatment.”
I raised my eyebrows at that. “I’m guessing that eavesdropping is not a part of the standard St. Mungos student healer curriculum?”
She made a face at me, more in an effort to get rid of her blush than in any real malice. “I was sorted into Slytherin for a reason”, she offered as though it was a mitigating factor as she reached for the locket again.
“There’s just one thing you need to know, before you try it on for size or anything like that,” I warned, letting her have it.
She sent me a mock glare. “And that would be?”
“It is a Horcrux.”
She closed her eyes and shook her head with incomprehension. “What, exactly, is a Horcrux?”
I took a deep breath. “The foulest of magic. It requires a cold-blooded murder to create, and it stores part of your soul in an object. That object is then defined as a Horcrux. So long as it survives, the person who made it can’t die. If you do, some of your soul is held in this world until you can claim it. This one contains part of Voldemort’s soul.”
She dropped the locket as though it was radioactive and looked up at me in horror. “Riddle?”
I nodded with a sigh. “Yep. Despite me killing him once as a baby, then again a couple of years ago, he’s still around in spirit form even though he is effectively dead. Somewhere. He needs to have one of his followers perform a ritual in order to come back to life, but by himself he can just about possess a snake.”
“The ritual that Wormtail took your blood for?” she asked tentatively, after a pause.
I nodded absently. “Yeah. I still don’t know enough about the bloody things. I mean, when you perform the ritual, do you take back the part of your soul you put in the horcrux, or do you, I don’t know, sort of… share it?” I looked up from my drunken musing. “Look, Dumbledore thinks that Nagini is a horcrux. Well, the snake was the only horcrux anywhere nearby during the ritual. So, either the snake is no longer a horcrux, and that part of the soul was absorbed again into Tom’s body, or he’s sharing it with the snake. If the first, we only need to go after the other horcruxes, and we can ignore Nagini. If not, we need to take out the snake too.” I paused. “Did that make any sense to you at all?”
Blaise paled, but nodded. “Just a minute. Riddle has more than one of these things?” she asked, turning a bit green.
I swallowed and nodded. “Yeah, he split his soul up into seven parts. Six horcruxes, and whatever was left of his soul, he kept. At least, until I killed him as a baby. At that point he had six bits left.”
Blaise nodded. “So, you killed him again a couple of years ago, that makes two parts of his soul you destroyed.”
“Four. I destroyed a horcrux in my second year without knowing it.”
She blinked. “What?”
I shrugged. “It had to do with the Chamber of Secrets. But the story isn’t exactly mine to tell. If I ever get permission, I’ll let you know.”
Conflicting emotions warred in her eyes for a few moments, but she eventually nodded and asked, “The fourth?”
“While I was in Italy,” I said simply.
She brightened. “That’s why you were there? You were chasing down these things?”
I nodded. “It was being stored by the Vatican as a demonic artifact.” Before she could ask for more information, I continued quickly. “Please don’t ask.”
Her frustrations nearly boiled over. “You’re leaving an awful lot out, Potter,” she said angrily.
“I know,” I said in a placating tone of voice. “But until I have permission to tell you more, I just can’t.”
“Fine,” she grumbled. “The last three?”
I nodded as we got back on track. “One was Riddle’s maternal grandfather’s ring. Dumbledore destroyed it, but you saw his hand afterwards.”
Blaise paled. “Destroying one of those things did that?” she nearly shouted, absolutely horrified. Instantly, she grabbed my hands and turned them over, looking for some sort of blemish, I assume. She even went as far as to tap my hands with her wand and mutter something. The only response was a slight glow coming from the I will not tell lies scars on the back of my hand.
“Yeah. Anyway, of the two remaining, this is one, and the other is probably a goblet belonging to Helga Hufflepuff,” I continued, drawing her attention away from the thrice-damned scars.
Blaise looked at me oddly. “How do you figure that?”
I shifted a bit uncomfortably. The memories Dumbledore showed Hermione and I were fairly detailed, but not exactly something I wanted to relate. “Something Dumbledore and I worked out. Riddle seemed to have a fascination with items that would have traditional or sentimental value. After Hogwarts, he spent a lot of time tracking down things belonging to the founders. The goblet belonging to Hufflepuff was one of the items he found, and has disappeared.”
Blaise looked down at the locket, then back up to me. “What do you plan on doing when you find it?”
I shrugged. “Destroy it,” I said simply. I was in no condition to come up with anything better.
She rolled her eyes and muttered something about drunken Gryffindors. “How?”
“Dunno,” I replied helpfully.
Once more she shut her eyes and muttered under her breath. “How do you intend to even find it then?” she asked.
I blinked, and grinned. “I thought I’d pay your patriarch a social visit,” I said easily. “He’s probably got the best information network in the UK. But, first thing tomorrow, I’m dropping this into Dumbledore’s lap,” I finished, looking down sourly at the twinkling locket.
“Good idea, pass it on to him.”
I nodded, and looked up at her. “Now, could you cast that spell on me too, so I don’t have a hangover tomorrow?”
Early the next afternoon (having spent the morning recovering), I stopped at the fountain outside of Hogsmeade. The dark, threatening clouds in the sky matched my mood perfectly. A dark, bubbling rage simmered in my soul, lit less than ten minutes before when I'd met a sixth-year DA member near the apparition point in the town, who greeted me warmly, even though I couldn't remember his name. All I could remember was that he was a friend of Dennis Creevey. In an effort to get over an uncomfortable pause in our conversation, I asked him who was now teaching potions.
The student had snorted and said, “Snape of course, Nothing will ever get rid of him.”
I barely remember making my excuses before storming over to the fountain. I had hoped that the joyful images within would calm me, but Grawp's massive grin did little to make me feel better. Even Cho's fun-filled giggle and twirling, care-free dance couldn't lighten my mood.
Dumbledore had lied to me. Again.
A lie that had caused Hermione to flip out and leave.
A lie that had me spend hours wondering if I was a murderer.
I'd given the old man too many chances. If he lied to me about killing Snape, what else would he be lying about?
I clenched a fist as tightly as I could, feeling the locket’s hard edges bite into my skin. The urge to lash out was overwhelming. I needed to hit something. I wanted to hit something.
I drew in a deep breath and let it out explosively. It didn’t help much, but I managed to stop from unleashing uncontrolled magic. No, that wasn't the way.
Without looking back, I marched off towards Hogwarts. As my mood darkened further, the heavens opened, and it pissed down.
I never even wondered just how he intended to keep such a secret from me.
The long trek up the hill to Hogwarts simply fuelled my anger. Visions of physically assaulting Dumbledore flickered in my mind, each more gory and painful than the last. With each scene, my anger grew ever more intense, to the point that by the time I reached massive doors covering the entrance to Hogwarts, I didn’t intend to just open them. They were shut tight against the rain, but that wasn't about to stop me. I bundled my anger into an incandescent ball in my belly, then pushed it with everything I had, shouting, "MOVE!"
The raw magic hit the ancient doors, and with a shower of sparks, smoke and debris, the bottom third broke apart and blew inward.
I stomped through the new portal, ignoring the wards as they alarmed loudly. That would just bring Dumbledore to me. It would save me hunting him down.
Sure enough, besides Mrs. Norris, who took one look at me and fled in a sort of crouch with her belly against the floor, Dumbledore was indeed the first on the scene. His aura was flaring with anger, much the same as mine was, I imagine. The instant he saw me he paused, a look of confusion on his face. "Harry?"
With a snarl, I held up the locket. "This look familiar, you bastard?" I shouted, trembling with rage.
His eyes widened. "You found it?" he asked dumbly. “Harry, are you all r--”
With a snarl, I drew back, and hurled it towards him with a scream and with more than a slight push. My aim was a little off though, (proving that I was certainly a Seeker, not a Chaser) and it struck a suit of armor to Dumbledore's left, knocking the helmet off; though my unexpected action did cause him to flinch away. "Take it, and never speak to me again! We're through," I screamed, much to the astonishment of the slowly gathering crowd.
I ignored the gasps and stormed back out into the gathering tempest.
Oddly, as the rain lashed my face and drenched my hair and clothes, it not only cooled my skin, but my temper as well. Within a few minutes, I was half-way to Hogsmeade, and wondering why I was feeling as though a weight had been lifted from around my soul.
By the time I’d reached Zab’s abode, several floo trips from a new starting point, I’d calmed down enough that I was frowning at the sudden change. Before discovering that Snape was still teaching Potions, I told myself that the next time Dumbledore lied to me, I’d just silently leave his presence and never talk to him again.
So what caused the sudden, not to mention deeply vivid rage? Not to mention its equally sudden disappearance.
It didn’t take much logical thought to determine that it had been the locket itself that had fuelled my emotions. While it was gratifying to know that I wasn’t really capable of that sort of explosion of wrath at simply being lied to, it was intimidating to know that I could be manipulated so easily. Especially by a non-sentient item. At least, I assumed the locket was non-sentient.
Brenen led me to the sitting room to wait for Zab, who apparently had left instructions not to be disturbed. I sat down, rested my cheek against a fist, and began to think.
Some undetermined time later, Zab sat down in an armchair opposite me. “Apparently, it has been a rather remarkable day,” he said.
I slowly focused on him. “Hmm?”
Zab gave me a knowing smirk. “Albus Dumbledore is being praised for single-handedly driving off a demonic creature from the gates of Hogwarts. According to witnesses, a creature at least ten-feet tall smashed its way through the main gates of Hogwarts and set about destroying the castle until the unflappable Supreme Mugwump appeared on the scene and banished the creature to whatever hell spawned it,” Zab said with amusement in his voice.
I rolled my eyes. “Did any of these witnesses mention a lightning-bolt shaped scar on this demon’s forehead?” I asked sourly.
Zab’s eyes were alight with amusement, but as usual, he didn’t answer my question. “Mind you, not every witness could describe exactly what he or she saw. As a matter of fact, if you gathered all those who claimed to have personally viewed the hellish apparition, there wouldn’t have been room in the entrance hall of Hogwarts for such a creature to exist,” he finished.
I sighed and waved his amusement away. “I suppose I’d best be grateful that no one saw the whole incident. I’m sure the Prophet would gleefully make something of the fact that I threw a locket at Dumbledore and told him to stay out of my life. I need your help.”
That brought him up short. “You’re maturing,” was all he said.
I gave my old Master a level gaze. “Because I’ve learned when I need to ask for help or because I know who to approach for help?” I asked sourly, not expecting an answer.
“Yes,” he replied ambiguously. Of course, if I wanted help, I’d sure as hell have to work hard in asking for it. Zab wasn’t the sort to offer any help in that respect.
I took a breath. “Voldemort is closer to being fully dead now than at any time in the past,” I said softly.
Zab didn’t respond immediately, his exquisitely sharp mind processing all the direct and implied information in my statement without any tiresome exclamations of surprise and denial. Finally, he said, “His body wasn’t stolen, was it?”
I frowned at the first point Zab wanted clarified. Most people would want what they saw as the most important point clarified. Not Zab though, he was logically working through the whole timescale, defining points where different outcomes would have changed the whole picture. “No, neither time.”
Zab’s eyes briefly focused on my own, conveying a sense of approval. “Then many assumptions I made will need to be reevaluated. Assuming that Riddle is not, as you say, completely dead, then my original premise was incorrect.”
I thought for a second. “If you thought he used a Horcrux to cheat death, you were partially correct,” I said, trying to subtly mislead my old mentor.
Zab blinked and stared at me. “Where in Salazar’s name did you learn about Horcruxes?”
Zab rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair. “Naturally,” he grumbled.
“Anyway,” I started, not in the mood for one of Zab’s lectures on Dumbledore’s failings, since I already had a fair amount of personal experience with them, “Riddle was forced into spirit form after he died attacking my family.”
Zab narrowed his eyes at me. “If Riddle had created a Horcrux, then it must have been present at the ritual that restored him to his body. The few texts I have on the subject say all agree that you cannot create another Horcrux once you have died and been resurrected. If he is not completely dead, then he must have discovered another way to keep his spirit alive while his body was destroyed.”
I shook my head. “Nope. Before he died, Riddle made six Horcruxes.”
Now that piece of information shocked the normally unflappable wizard. “Six?” he bellowed.
I nodded. “That number was picked on the basis of seven being a numerically powerful figure. Seven parts of his soul, six of them stored in objects.”
Zab cupped the sides of his head and rested his elbows on his knees. “I never suspected. I never came remotely close to imagining this wild possibility,” he muttered softly. Eventually, he gathered himself and looked up at me again. “Well, that little datum puts a whole new light on things. Until now, I had assumed he used a single Horcrux, which was exhausted when he resurrected himself.” Again, his voice dropped and he muttered to himself. “What insanity would convince someone to even attempt to split their soul into even more than two parts?”
I frowned. “The belief that their soul was worth nothing compared to eternal life?” I said rhetorically. “Are you absolutely sure the Horcrux is exhausted when finally used?”
Zab ran his forefinger and thumb around the edge of his goatee, a sure sign he was thinking deeply. “Each of the three texts I have on the subject that mention it all agree on the point. The portion of your soul stored in the Horcrux is reabsorbed into the body during the ritual. The Horcrux then returns to its original state. Why?”
It was my turn to frown. “It means that I only need to track down one more Horcrux, rather than two.”
Zab stared at me. “You’ve found some of his Horcruxes already?”
I nodded. “That’s what Dumbledore wanted to speak to me about.” Slowly, I told Zab everything I knew about the Horcruxes, and what I had seen of the Gaunt family’s and Riddle’s life in Dumbledore’s pensieve. I described the destruction of the diary, ring and journal, and my theory that Nagini was the Horcrux that Riddle used at the ritual. I even told him about the locket, and how it stoked my internal anger at hearing of Snape’s apparent survival.
Zab’s eyes followed my own throughout my exposition. He asked no questions, trusting that I would give him all the relevant information. He did snort softly when I described my reaction to Snape still teaching Potions.
“I trust you have re-thought your opinion, regarding Severus’ death?”
I nodded slowly. “He’s a ghost.”
Zab nodded, a small smile on his face. “Well done.”
“It’s the only explanation. Snape either has an outstanding life debt he needs to repay; one that for obvious reasons cannot be passed on to his descendents, or he has some unfinished business that needs to be completed. I remember Nearly-headless Nick telling me that some ghosts were simply afraid to cross over. Snape is a bastard and a bully, but spying against Voldemort shows that he will never go down in history as a coward. He wasn’t afraid of death.
“There was no way Dumbledore could have kept it a secret from me if he had survived, especially if he was continuing to teach,” I continued. “But that is my problem, or at least, my problem that I can fix by myself.”
That piqued his interest. “Go on.”
“I need your help in tracking down the last piece of Riddle’s soul. There is an extremely high probability that the final Horcrux is a goblet, originally belonging to Helga Hufflepuff. The Smith family inherited it generations ago, and it stayed in the family until a young Tom Riddle Jr. stole it from the estate of Hepzibah Smith.” Frowning with concentration, I waved my holly wand and created a short-lived illusion of the golden goblet for Zab’s perusal.
Zab frowned. “And how am I supposed to assist in this endeavor?”
I shrugged. “Use your spy network to see if the goblet has surfaced anywhere. Right now, I have no idea where to start looking for the thing,” I said sourly.
He sighed. “My ‘spy network’, as you so eloquently referred to, is not in the habit of tracking the whereabouts of individual magical items. I initially created it in an effort to collect and filter information during Grindlewald’s rise. If necessary, it could probably be used to track down a person, but an object? No chance.”
I tilted my head to one side. “Would it help to know that if it isn’t in a hiding place, it is probably with one of Riddle’s surviving lower-level underlings somewhere in Albania.”
Zab blinked slowly. “It may,” he said, once more not answering my question directly. “Tell me, have you decided what to do with it, once you recover it?”
I blinked. “Destroy it. That’s the whole point of this exercise.”
Zab sighed. “Think, boy. Do you think everyone wants it destroyed for the same motives?”
I frowned, thinking on what Zab said. I was long past getting angry at his innocent-sounding insults. “Destroying what’s left of Riddle is a noble goal in and of itself,” I said, not sure what Zab meant.
Zab rolled his eyes and muttered something uncomplimentary about Gryffindors. “Very well, let’s start with you. Why do you want to risk your life to hunt down and destroy this Horcrux?”
“Because it would mean closure for me. Riddle would finally be destroyed, with no chance of returning to make my life a misery.”
Zab nodded impatiently. “Yes, yes, that’s what you’ve told yourself. Now, what is the real reason? Why are you so adamant that the item be destroyed as soon as you have it?”
“I told you--” I began.
“No, you gave me a wonderfully noble reason.” Zab snapped. “Look deeper. Why do you want it destroyed as soon as you hold it? Why not in a day? A week? A year? Would you let someone else study it first before destroying it? Would you let someone else destroy it?”
My mouth opened and closed a couple of times as I thought. Finally, I said, “Dumbledore, I suppose. I just gave him one to destroy.”
Zab nodded sadly. “Yes, we’ll come to him in a minute. The situation is different though. You gave him the second to last Horcrux. Technically, he need not destroy that one until you procure the last. So I ask again, why do you want to destroy the last Horcrux as soon as you can?” he repeated.
I took a deep breath and let it out. “Because I don’t trust that it couldn’t be stolen from me,” I said finally.
Zab leaned back in his chair, a satisfied look on his face. “So, you have a motive. Now, do you suppose that Dumbledore has the same motive?”
I frowned. “Broadly, I’d say we do. We have the same goal in mind.”
“The end goal is not equivalent to motive,” Zab nearly spat.
I frowned more deeply. “He didn’t want me to know to begin with. He didn’t want me to know what a Horcrux was.” I blinked. “He wants their existence destroyed so others don’t learn of their power!”
Zab’s thin smile reminded me a little of McGonagall. “Aha! The boy shows some brains at last. Remember Harry, the most important question is not how, or who, but why. Goals can be identical, while motives can differ dramatically. A burgeoning Dark Lord who knew of Riddle’s Horcruxes may want to hunt down and destroy them too, if only to ensure that a powerful wizard isn’t raised to challenge him later.”
I nodded, absorbing this new facet of the game of human interaction. Looks as though I’ve still got bloody light-years to go before I’m at Zab’s standards. “Ok, that I understand.”
Zab nodded. “So, do you assume that Dumbledore and yourself are the only people who know of the existence of the Horcruxes? What of the members of the Wizengamot, who may have their own goals and motives? What of the Ministry?”
I swallowed. While it would be nice to believe that everyone had the same goal, that of Voldemort’s permanent inhumation, Zab was right in that there were probably as many motives as people. Hell, some of them may not even want the last Horcrux destroyed.
That sobering thought brought me up short. “Hang on, what if the goals are different? Most people would want Riddle gone for good, be it for revenge, safety, pragmatism or just on principle. But what if there are people who want the last Horcrux to be kept safe?”
Zab’s face split into a grin. “Go on.”
I ran the tip of my tongue over my upper lip and continued. “Well, the obvious faction would be those who support, or at least sympathize with the pure-blood agenda. There may be those who want the power for themselves, and want to study the Horcrux to find out how to replicate it, since information on creating a Horcrux is pretty sparse.”
Zab nodded. “It is indeed. Anything else?”
I thought about the people I had known at school. “Sycophants like Pettigrew would want it to resurrect Riddle. Clever Slytherins like Davies or Greengrass may want it to hold power over a Dark Lord, should he arise again through another method.” I paused. “There may even be those who want to destroy Riddle who want to possess it too, if they believed that you couldn’t guarantee his death with the final Horcrux’s destruction.”
Zab leaned forward, giving me a sort of seated bow. “Excellent reasoning, Harry. Now, knowing this, would you still destroy the Horcurx the moment you possessed it?”
I sat back to think. “No.”
“No? Are you just saying that because you think I want to hear it?”
I shook my head. “No, of course not. But I’ve just listed a few reasons why some people would want the last Horcrux kept intact. If and when I actually do have that goblet in my hands, I’d need to think long and hard to ensure that I was in fact not doing someone else’s bidding, and that I was destroying it for my own reasons.”
Zab again gave me a half bow. “And that, my boy, is one of the most important lessons you can ever learn.” He rose swiftly, once more making me marvel at the athleticism he displayed for his age. “You may see yourself out, and I would be obliged if you informed my Great-granddaughter of recent events. She may not be directly involved, but her indirect assistance would be invaluable.”
I nodded and rose myself. “Thank you,” I said sincerely.
Zab smiled. “I do believe an old acquaintance of mine is about to feel an overwhelming desire to visit some obscure ruins in the middle of bloody nowhere, somewhere in rural Albania,” he said as he left the room.
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