His body instinctively tried to turn away from the invisible blade that was gradually making a rather large wound in the side of his neck, but Harry found himself still unable to move against the magic that restrained him.
A vivid red that was his blood poured down his neck in a rapid stream. It felt warm and thick on his skin as it seeped downwards and started to blend in with the crimson of his dress robes, leaving Harry with a coppery scent in his nostrils.
He tried to speak; he tried to tell the monster that was Voldemort who was in front of him with evident elation radiating from his stance alone to stop, but he couldn't get his mouth to form the words so he just carried on screaming.
Cackles and shrieks of laughter drifted out from the crowd of Death Eaters before him as they saw the hero of the wizarding world being decapitated alive. They were cheering and jeering, their masked faces taunted him with such hatred and cruelty that Harry had never witnessed before.
Voldemort's brimming red eyes shone with palpable sadistic mirth in the gloom of the room, with them burning any lingering hope Harry had of ever escaping in a blazing firestorm. They penetrated his mind and through them Voldemort's cold voice spoke directly into his head.
Your death has been long overdue, too many times have you thwarted me. /With Dumbledore out of the way it was only a matter of time before I got my hands on you. /
Harry began to feel faint, he could feel the blade push in further and further and that insisting clock which was still chiming didn't help matters one bit.
/I hadn't thought you special, just an ordinary boy with ordinary powers and a lot of good fortune, but I can admit to your ears alone now, that I was mistaken. /Voldemort's voice echoed coolly through his mind.
Sweat started to drip down his brow as Harry's eyes glazed over, and he couldn't breathe without causing immense pain in his throat or preventing blood from gurgling noisily from his lips. He couldn't swallow any longer and felt himself starting to suffocate; he took one last big painful gulp of air and held on to his last breath for dear life.
I can see now, that you have many special talents you aren't even aware of...Dumbledore must have known all along, that maddening old fool.
/It doesn't matter because you will never discover them now. /He continued in a lazy voice.
And with your death the path to success will finally be cleared, no one will be able to stop me from exposing the wizarding world any longer.
Voldemort started to laugh then, a vibration from deep inside his belly resonating through the air. It sounded almost inhuman, an arctic sort of chuckle that had forced itself out of Voldemort unnaturally. It cracked and stuttered unsurely, almost shyly as if he had not been able to laugh in over a century and had forgotten how to go about something that came so effortlessly to most people.
The soft chortle grew in intensity, and Harry figured with an odd impassiveness and calm, that this was the first time he had ever witnessed Voldemort laugh. The sound soon reverberated maniacally around; his eyes gleaming with distinctive malice and triumph.
Harry did not feel anything except pain, not even fear or sorrow, just an odd displeasure. He felt strangely hollow inside and completely detached from the occurring scene. He started to rationalise it.
He knew he couldn't hold his breath for ever, he knew that if he lost anymore blood and if the blade that was still hacking ever so slowly into his neck would go in just that little further he'd lose consciousness.
/You are going to die Harry Potter. /Voldemort's cruel voice echoed in his head for the last time.
That's when everything seemed to slow down drastically, as if the whole room was hit with a very strong Impedimenta spell. A lot of things were happening at the same time, and because his mind projected everything in slow-motion, he was able to notice certain things he normally wouldn't have.
He didn't really comprehend what was happening, which was understandable as he was trying not to pass out from the sheer pain in his neck alone. All he knew was that Voldemort's gleeful expression suddenly transformed in to a wild and enraged widening of his eyes that was almost comical. His laughter abruptly stopped; instead a howl of fury took over and encircled him. A shriek so frightful pierced the room, it rang shrilly in tune with the loud stretched out clang of the clock as it sang its final song.
What was the man yelling about? He was dying wasn't he? Harry thought, confused by the reaction of Voldemort. How could I still have managed to displease him during my death?
He felt it then, the pendant he was still wearing under his robes. It was rumbling so quietly he imagined he was the only one who could hear it buzzing. It tingled on his skin and started to shake imperceptibly, magic darted out from it to connect with something behind him. Harry couldn't see what it was, but Voldemort and the Death Eaters obviously could.
The Death Eaters seemed to be trying to hex him. Their mouths were slowly opening and closing, forming curses with their lips, except for one Death Eater who was curiously standing to the side of the group, and wasn't wearing his mask any longer.
It was Snape.
Snape just stood there staring intently at Harry with his dark eyes, his greasy hair flailing everywhere in long strands around his face. His expression was carefully smoothed out into a blank mask, but Harry saw how his fists were scrunched up tightly around his wand as he held it midair.
And then he felt something sucking at him pulling him backwards with enormous force. It was as if a small whirlwind had materialised out of nowhere behind him and started dragging him backwards in long desperate hauls. He could hear the wind and little currents of air wheezing, making his robes and hair fly roughly through the air.
The blade that he hadn't felt pressing at him for the last couple of seconds abandoned the slow excruciating teasing on his neck. Instead it started slashing his throat desperately, his glazed over eyes widened as he started choking from the amount of blood that had gathered in his mouth. He saw his own alarmed expression slowly forming in the reflection of Voldemort's crimson eyes, and he saw what had made Voldemort so furious and anxious to kill him faster.
A big dark black hole hovered in the air behind Harry; it pulsed and seemed to vibrate with dark magic. The wind that drew him backwards seemed to be originated from it. A grey orb floated in its center, buzzing with magical power. The orb looked to be absorbing and culminating magical energy that was draining out of the pendant, and as it reached its peak, it sent off such an amount of power that Voldemort's invisible bonds - that all the while had tried to keep Harry stationary - were stripped of their magical energy and sucked into the orbs ever-growing bundle of power.
Time seemed to catch up with his brain then, and he flew back into the hole instantly. He saw Voldemort grab frantically for his ankle, saw the spells the Death Eaters had send his way speeding towards him. But before any of them could reach him the hole closed up abruptly in a rush of magic and he was gone.
"What was he doing traveling by a Portotalus/, that's what I would like to know! That's /dark magic Minerva, it could have killed him. He's lucky to be alive as it is, poor lad nearly drowned in his own blood!"
"Keep your voice down will you!" she whispered irritably. "Don't you think I realise the severe condition of the situation Mr. Potter is in? You know I am not able to disclose any more information as it is, for his and our safety. Will you please just wake him, it is extremely important."
"As I have stated before, it is ill advised to wake Mr. Potter during this part of his healing, as an experienced and licensed Medi-Witch I must insist that-"
"And as /I /stated before, I must speak with him immediately!" snapped the agitated female voice.
Silence fell for an instant.
"Very well -" replied the other in an indignant tone.
A sigh then.
"-he should rouse any minute now. I already gave him a light incentive. Actually, he should already have woken up," continued the voice in a resigned, but slightly warmer manner.
Harry kept his eyes shut.
He wasn't even sure he would be able to open them anyway. His eyelids felt as heavy as brick and they seemed to be stuck together with Stick-Together-Stuck-Forever Wizards' Superglue.
He did not need to open his eyes to see the disapproving frown on Madam Pomfrey's face that doubtlessly would be aimed at McGonagall right about now. Nor did he have to be able to see to know that Minerva McGonagall was probably pursing her lips in an impatient way, arms crossed, refusing to give even an inch.
He had awoken almost instantly after Madam Pomfrey had finished casting a reviving charm on him. He barely had kept himself from stirring, and had concentrated hard on keeping his breathing even as soon as he realised where he was and who the squabbling voices belonged to.
He was in the Hospital Wing.
The sterile smell that permanently wafted through the air of the Hospital Wing mixed with all kinds of medical potions had left him with no doubt in his mind about that. He had been there too often to be mistaken.
What he hadn't known and just could not seem to remember, no matter how hard he tried, was how he had gotten there. He recalled curses, chimes, Voldemort's furious red eyes, and then a black hole, but besides that his mind had resolutely refused to fill in the blanks.
Oddly his temporary memory-loss did not seem to bother him all that much. He was strangely calm about the fact that he had escaped a gruesome death by what he expected to be mere luck again.
He had been listening to the two women bickering for about fifteen minutes now, and had learnt some interesting things he was sure they wouldn't have mentioned if they had known he had been awake.
Apparently Hagrid had found him unconscious, covered in blood and in a state of near death just outside the gates of Hogwarts a week ago. He had scooped Harry up in his massive arms and taken off in a dead run for the Hospital Wing with great terrifying strides leaving startled onlookers in his wake.
People at Hogwarts?
Harry had almost frowned when he had heard that part. The school term had not started yet after all, but he remained motionless, kept his face carefully smoothed out and continued listening.
McGonagall had almost bumped head first into to the flustered Hagrid on her way to her office. She had taken one look at Harry, immediately banished the papers she was holding, drawn her wand, levitated him in the air with a flourish and brought him into the care of Poppy Pomfrey at once.
He gathered from their constant bickering that Madam Pomfrey had demanded to know what had happened for him to be in such a state, but Minerva consequently refused to give out anymore information other than that Harry had traveled by Portotalus.
Whatever that was supposed to be.
He figured it was that big black hole that had sucked him up.
Harry suspected that McGonagall probably didn't have any more of a clue of what had occurred and therefore couldn't tell Madam Promfrey anything else.
That was probably why she needed to speak with Harry so desperately.
But Harry really didn't feel at all inclined to stop his pretence of unconsciousness. In fact, he'd rather not wake up at all and just bask in the feeling of this detached and empty calmness.
"Well, why hasn't he woken up yet Poppy?" he heard McGonagall ask the Medi-Witch.
"I don't know. He should already... wait a minute."
A wand prodded his arm.
He remained silent.
A more determined prod then.
He tried to snore for effect, but the sound that pursued sounded more like a strangled hippopotamus.
He could practically hear the frown on the matron's face now, as it changed to a suspicious narrowing of the eyes.
A few seconds passed in silence.
Then, a hard jab in the ribs followed abruptly.
He couldn't help it, the sound escaped him before he even realised it.
His eyes flew open and he yelped loudly, his hand reaching up to the spot that doubtlessly would become a bruise, on sheer reflex.
He glared indignantly at the two women, rubbing his side gently. "You didn't have to poke me so hard you know." he snapped. His voice was hoarse and sounded more like a rusty flute then anything remotely healthy. All he saw was a blotch of white to his right, (what he figured was Madam Promfrey) and a dark blue one next to that (what had to be Headmistress McGonagall). He fumbled with his right hand for the nightstand he knew would be there, and found his glasses.
Two livid glares were sent his way in return when he finished putting his glasses on, meeting and wilting his to a blank expression.
"In all my life-"
"I have never-" started the two angry witches at the same time.
They glanced at each other for a quick second, nodded, and then bundled their indignation together in one frightening force, finally seeming to agree on something.
"Mr. Potter, we have been worried sick, your critical condition has kept us up monitoring you in turns for a whole week!" shrieked Madam Pomfrey, pointing an accusing finger directly at Harry.
"You-Know-Who has been terrorizing Muggle- and Wizarding - London ever since we found you practically dead! It is essential that we learn everything of your abduction," McGonagall said in a frosty voice that she only reserved for students who had done something particularly/ /awful. She looked exhausted, wearing a rumpled set of emerald robes, and her usual immaculate tight bun consisted mainly of lose strands of hair.
"I could have easily given you an overdose of Breath of Life potion if I thought I was unsuccessful in reviving you. It is a potion we give to patients who are in a coma ...a coma! It is not meant for people who are not in one! You could have died...yet/ again/!" The Medi-Witch concluded, red in the face, eyes flashing frantically, clearly brimming with emotions.
The uniform she wore was dirty; he could see spots of crimson on it which was probably dried blood, maybe even his.
"I have been trying desperately to keep the press at bay, after the Ministry spotted the enormous wave of energy at Hogwarts gates, and after people saw you being brought in by Hagrid. The public has been talking ever since, wondering if the two might be connected and if The Boy Who Lived is still alive. Hogwarts has been flooded with noisy reporters, and the Prophet has been publishing ridiculous articles!" snapped McGonagall heatedly.
Harry just stared.
He was able to count all the groves and wrinkles in her face, and he thought she had never looked older then she did in this moment. It was as if she had aged ten years in a week.
"I've seen... too many dead this past week; I don't think I could handle anymore," Madam Pomfrey continued, her eyes started to water, and she sniffled kind of pathetically as she turned her face away to try to hide her tears. She busied herself with her apron, crumpling it and then smoothing it down furiously.
"And all you do is lay there pretending to be unconscious as if all of this-" McGonagall gestured around to nothing in particular to emphasise her point. "-is one big elaborate hoax. Well let me tell you, this is absolutely serious!" finished McGonagall hotly, lips pursed forebodingly, she pushed the square spectacles that had slid down in her fuss back up the bridge of her nose.
Harry just kept on looking at them for a couple of minutes when no one broke the silence that followed.
Madam Promfrey was still pretending not to cry, and Headmistress McGonagall was staring back at Harry, refusing to speak, demanding an explanation with her eyes.
To be honest, he didn't really know what to say.
He didn't really know how he felt about the entire situation, and it annoyed him to no end that they expected him to feel ashamed and awful about his behavior.
The point was that he didn't really feel anything.
He actually hadn't really felt anything since his outburst during the Death Eaters feast when he had wanted his feelings to go away, and had suddenly felt void of any prominent feelings.
That seemed to remind him of something else, something that successfully provided him with a reason to avoid giving a response.
He reached up and felt underneath the pyjamas he was wearing, ignoring the questioning looks of the two witches.
There it was, the golden pendant Dazle had given him. It was still there, now an almost familiar weight around his neck; it vibrated and rumbled softly with the intoxicating dark magic as he took it out from beneath his garment.
On closer inspection he noted that it was emitting a blue-silverish glow as it lay heavy in his hand. The gold was a dim golden-yellow and very thick. The ancient-looking pendant was shaped in an oval, he detected that it had a fine glimmering emerald line marking the edge, made of what he expected to be crystal. In the middle of the smooth gold the pendant was carved with certain markings he had never seen before.
It was absolutely beautiful.
He tried to take it off to look at it better but wasn't able to lift it over his head.
He frowned. Why wasn't it coming off? He tried it again but it was as if an invisible energy force kept it from being removed.
Madam Pomfrey gave a loud sniff and cleared her throat.
"Ah yes that awful thing. I tried to take it off so I could reach the ghastly cuts on your neck more easily, but it refused to be removed for some reason. It kept on giving me nasty shocks every time I tried to touch it," she informed him, looking at the pendant with disgust plainly written across her tear-streaked face.
He made a sort of 'hmphf' sound in reply, not really sure what to say, then turned the pendant around, held it up into the light, and saw that the same markings were displayed on the back.
A loud gasp resounded through the room.
Startled, Harry looked up and saw that McGonagall's face had gone chalk white. She stood rigid, her body tensed noticeably, eyes wide in disbelieve.
"Impossible! No...it can't be," she muttered under her breath, looking at the pendant intently.
"Where in heavens name did you get that?" she whispered urgently, starting forward.
"Poppy, why haven't you informed me of this! You said he had been wearing this thing all week?" McGonagall demanded.
"Yes, I...I didn't think it was important," Madam Pomfrey began flustered. "and you were in such a state...just after, you know... That Day." Another sniffle left her. Harry figured she meant the day of the wedding. "I didn't want to bother you with something as trivial as jewellery I wasn't able to remove," continued a baffled Madam Pomfrey.
McGonagall stormed passed her, not even bothering to answer and grasped Harry by the collar in a firm grip, shaking him frantically. "Who gave this to you? You must tell me this instant!" Her eyes were wide and feverish as she looked at him.
Harry was totally shocked; he had never seen McGonagall like this.
"Who?" she repeated frantically.
"Uh... a house-elf did," Harry sputtered stupidly. It was the first thing his mind came up with
"What did it say?" McGonagall urged, as if it were a normal thing that house-elves gave away magical pendants. Her nails were painfully gripping his shoulders. She reminded Harry of the Gryffindor lion; sporting a fierce expression and strands of hair that sort of looked like a black mane framing her face.
Harry furrowed his brow in thought. He had been in an induced coma for a week; did she honestly expect his memory to be topnotch? He felt quite a bit fuzzy, which could not all be blamed on the magic of the pendant. Besides the elf hadn't been very well-spoken, he remembered it saying something about chimes and something about being lost for ever, but it hadn't really made sense then, and it still didn't make sense to him now.
"Well, it wasn't very coherent," he started hesitantly. "It did mention something about having to give this pendant to me or else his master would be very displeased," continued Harry bitterly.
"And?" she insisted.
"Dazle definitely said something about chimes, yes it said...listen for the seventh chime of the hour ...don't let your soul cloud in darkness or you'd be lost for ever." He shrugged. "I did hear chimes just before this big black hole thingy sucked me up right out underneath Voldemorts nose," Harry provided, still a bit unsure about McGonagall's sudden outburst.
"The Portotalus..." McGonagall breathed quietly. She had stopped shaking him but hadn't let go yet, he noticed that her eyes had widened a fraction upon hearing the elf's name.
"This means...this means..."
"He saved you," she concluded, in astonishment.
"He/ /really /did /save you! Merlin's beard, this changes /everything/, It just has to!" she prattled on incredulously.
She laughed then, eyes gleaming with glimmers of hope but sobered up quickly and continued to mutter hysterically: "A Portotalus...what had he been thinking...unbelievably irresponsible...for a whole week no less...totally unacceptable...could have killed you...I'll tell that... that."
She fell quiet as she noticed the anxious and worried glances of Madam Promfrey, and the bewildered look on Harry's face.
She continued to look into Harry's eyes for a minute, then took a deep steadying breath to compose herself, stood up calmly and smoothed out Harry's collar as if nothing had happened at all, as if everything was just peachy, although he did notice that her hands trembled lightly as she did so.
Her voice was eerily serene when she next spoke. "I must send an urgent message, I'll be back shortly." She then looked directly at Madam Pomfrey and said "Look at his eyes, did you notice? He's not well. The pendant, it is the reason he hasn't been himself, I am going to contact someone who will help."
Madam Pomfrey looked fixedly into Harry's eyes before she narrowed her eyes, looked back at McGonagall and nodded once in reply.
"Oh and you can let them see him now I suppose," she said grimacing. "But make sure he has the pendant covered up, we don't want anyone to know about this yet before we figure out how severe it is and what to do."
She excused herself from the room, and before Harry had acknowledged what just happened or could ask any questions, she had already been gone.
"My eyes?" Harry demanded. "What's wrong with my eyes, and what does she mean I'm not myself, I haven't felt better in months!" he exclaimed indignantly
He wasn't lying; he did feel better than he had in months. He had no lingering physical aches from the attack, well his throat was a little hoarse but that didn't really count. He wasn't depressed or inconsolable. Though he had to admit that he wasn't really happy either, but that didn't matter because happiness never stuck around for him long enough to enjoy it anyway.
"And who is he supposed to be, don't tell me she's off getting that annoying house-elf?" He asked Madam Pomfrey, eyes wide in disbelief. "I don't care if it saved me, I don't want to see that stupid elf!" he practically screeched like a spoilt child.
Madam Pomfrey's face softened, and her eyes looked upon him warmly, as if he was a child, a little helpless child, which only infuriated him more.
"I am not ill!" he shouted stubbornly.
But Madam Pomfrey continued to look at him with affection and said "Yes dear, of course you're not, are you hungry? You haven't eaten solid food for a week, you must be absolutely starving! I'll get you something from the kitchens; I'll be back in a jiffy." She turned and walked towards the door of the infirmary.
Harry gnashed his teeth in frustration. He couldn't believe Madam Pomfrey, or maybe he just didn't understand women in general.
"I'm not hungry!" he yelled in spite. Unfortunately his stomach chose that exact moment to speak up in its defense and growled loudly. Madam Promfrey stopped for a fraction of a second, turned around and just looked at him with one eyebrow raised.
"Fine! So I am a bit hungry," Harry said flushing. "The point is that I want some answers!"
"Mr. Potter, may I remind you not to yell at me? I understand everything is a bit confusing at the moment, I am quite confused myself. But until Headmistress McGonagall returns, I am afraid the only things I am able to give you are medical care and food. Now if you will excuse me, there are a few people very anxious to see you. And I'm afraid someone might get hurt if I won't let them out soon."
She turned back around again and continued her way out of the Hospital Wing. "And don't forget to tuck that pendant away," she called over her shoulder before she disappeared out of sight.
Harry stuffed the chain back underneath his pyjamas angrily, closed his eyes and threw his head back down onto the pillow. He was deeply confused, and the only two people he had seen in a weeks time, hadn't been helpful at all.
Well he wouldn't put up with it any longer; he wasn't just some little child who could be ordered around. He was an adult now, he was seventeen years old.
They didn't know anything about the severity of the situation. They hadn't a clue about the Horcruxes Harry needed to destroy, and if they didn't want to give him answers, he would leave for Godric's Hollow, because that's where he had planned on going to start his search in the first place, and find all the necessary answers himself.
He opened his eyes determinedly and scanned the room for his clothes and wand. For the first time he noticed how quiet it was in the Hospital Wing. He was the only occupant present and was stationed on the left side on the last bed, and his things were nowhere in sight.
He checked the little drawer of his nightstand.
He checked underneath his pillow.
He even checked under the bed, but came up with nothing again.
He was just about to march out of the Hospital Wing in his pyjamas not caring at all about the fact that his attire was probably inappropriate for a stroll around Hogwarts, find Madam Pomfrey and demand she give his things immediately when the door slammed open with a loud '/Smack/' that echoed through the room and a fleck of orange and brown came rushing at him.
"Harry! Thank goodness you are alright, we were so worried!" cried Hermione anxiously upon seeing him standing in the middle of the Hospital Wing. Her hair was as wild as ever and the ends seemed to be /singed/. Her face was black, completely covered in soot but she didn't seem to notice or didn't care as she crashed into him successfully knocking the breath out of him and making his teeth rattle.
She held on to him tightly. Maybe a bit too tightly, Harry thought ruefully as his face was buried in a puff of brown bushy hair that smelled of smoke.
"I'm fine Hermione," he tried quickly in a strained voice but was too late as she continued.
"We saw a Death Eater apparate you away from The Burrow, we thought you'd be dead like the others, we thought...we thought the most horrible things," she sobbed into his pyjamas.
He looked at Ron desperately, but Ron had stopped about two feet away, he also was completely covered in soot, the tip of his wand that he held in his right hand, was giving off bundles of smoke. His head was slightly cocked to the side and he was staring at him curiously.
"I knew you'd be alright, I just knew. But then you were gone for a whole week, a week Harry we didn't know what to think and-" she blathered on, tears were now smudged all over her sooth covered face and he felt his pyjamas getting wetter by the second.
"-and it's just terrible, everything is just terrible. I'm so glad you're alright, at least you're alright Harry," she finished, completely out of breath, crying frantically in his arms.
Harry was lost.
He didn't know what to do.
He figured he should probably feel bad about the fact that he hadn't at all thought of his two best friends all day, but he didn't.
The thing was still that he hadn't felt anything at all except for mild annoyance, anger and just plain nothing since he had woken up.
"Err," he began awkwardly, then patted Hermione on the back twice before prying her fingers from around his neck and peeling her off of him with a light push.
She looked up at him with big startled watery eyes that looked slightly hurt. "What is it Harry, are you in pain?"
"No ...I-" he glanced at Ron again his eyes pleading for help, he didn't understand why Ron hadn't said anything, he never hesitated to help Harry before. Instead Ron was still just staring at him, his face scrunched up in thought.
Harry looked back at Hermione, and looked helplessly on as her lips started to tremble.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, /shit/. What am I supposed to do now, everything is just too complicated with feelings involved. This is exactly the reason why I don't want to have them anymore, he thought resentfully. He felt the pendant that he still wore under his pyjamas tingle.
"Your covered in soot!" he blurted out senselessly for lack of anything else to say. He looked on in amazement when it seemed to be the right thing to distract her. Actually, she seemed to jump desperately onto the change of subject, and he was stunned to see that her eyes cleared of tears and the Hermione that was completely grief-stricken vanished in front of him.
Hermione looked down at her robes, scrunched up her nose and said "Ah yes, Headmistress McGonagall had locked us up in Gryffindor Tower to prevent us coming down to the Hospital Wing-" she scowled, "- and Ronald here thought it be a good idea to Incendio the back of The Fat Lady in order to get us out."
"Well it worked didn't it!" Ron said heatedly, it was the first thing he said since entering the infirmary. "Sort off anyway," he muttered.
"No it didn't Ron," Hermione said rolling her eyes. "The only reason we are even out of the Tower and not dead is because I was sensible enough to put the fire out before we were all burned to ashes, /alive/!" she snapped at him.
"Anyway, Madam Promfrey had just been on her way to let us out; it had absolutely nothing to do with the fire you caused," she stated matter-of-factly.
Ron shot her a betrayed look, and then turned to Harry. "What's wrong with your eyes?" he demanded.
"What do you mean what's wrong with my eyes?" Harry asked annoyed. "They're still there aren't they?"
"Yes, but...Harry they're not green anymore, it's pretty scary actually. I thought I was maybe...seeing things at first, but they still haven't changed back to green so I guess they must actually be black," Ron mused out loud.
"What's wrong with them?" he repeated.
Harry watched him incredulously for a moment. "Come off it, of course they are green, they have always been green, tell him Hermione." He turned to look at her and found her looking at him in confused wonder.
She bit her lip, shook her head and said "He's right Harry, they are...black."
"That's not possible," he stated flatly.
"It is, look for yourself," said Hermione walking over to one of the beds. She then took her wand from her sleeve aimed it at the lamp on the nightstand and transfigured it into a small hand mirror and handed it to him.
He glanced at them a moment and saw that they were looking at him nervously.
Harry sighed, took the mirror from Hermione and looked into it.
He gasped at his reflection, his face was paler then usual and his eyes...his eyes were definitely not green.
His irises were a pitch black. He could not even see his pupils; all he saw were round pools of the darkest black that stood out in the white of his eyes alarmingly.
He touched the side of his face just to make sure his reflection was real, looked back up at Hermione and Ron who were still looking at him anxiously.
"I don't understand," he whispered, looking at them for answers, eyes opened wide in bewilderment.
"Don't...You shouldn't...I mean you look very creepy when you do that mate," Ron provided unhelpfully.
Hermione glared at him.
"Well, he does," Ron muttered sheepishly.
Hermione opened her mouth to tell Ron off, but before she could get a word out, the door of the infirmary opened and Madam Pomfrey bustled in with a food tray floating behind her.
"Oh Mr. Weasley," she said upon seeing Ron. "there was no other way. We were required to cut it off to make sure the rest of his arm would survive," she continued.
Ron's face fell and turned an unhealthy grey.
"Oh don't worry Ronald, Fred is quite happy with his new hand. St. Mungo's has donated one of their more technologically advanced prototypes to him in commiseration for your loss. It is indestructible, and each of its fingertips has a special function that he's quite enjoying at the moment. Actually, he's driving everyone in the Great Hall insane," she continued in attempt to cheer him up.
Her face softened as she looked upon his slumped form. "I am sorry Ronald."
Hermione looked at Ron with concern, then turned to Harry and whispered "He's afraid Fred's hand will look too much like Wormtail's."
Harry just nodded. "What happened to Fred's hand, and after you know...I disappeared?" he asked quietly to no one in particular.
The temperature in the room seemed to drop drastically. Everyone visibly tensed, faces drooped and lips tightened. A dark shadow passed over Ron's already miserable face, the food tray that still hovered behind Madam Promfrey almost slid to the ground, and Hermione's eyes started to fill themselves with tears once again.
Great move Harry, just fucking /great/. He wanted to smack himself in the face for his obliviousness and tact. Obviously they didn't want to talk about it or be reminded of what had happened. That was probably why Hermione had dropped the subject as soon as she saw a way to avoid it, and Ron had acted like nothing had happened in the first place and had focused on him instead of anything else.
It was still just too raw.
"You really don't know, do you?" Hermione asked, her lips trembling slightly.
Harry shook his head, not sure how to react to all the emotions in the room.
She turned to the Medi-With then "Madam Promfrey, Headmistress McGonagall said she'd tell him, why hasn't she?"
"She was about to inform Mr. Potter of the situation when a pressing matter came to her attention. She had to send an urgent message, and will be back shortly," she answered while busying herself yet again with something trivial to hide her feelings, this time by levitating the tray back up and sending it to the nightstand on a wave of magic.
Silence fell again.
Finally Hermione took a long shuddering breath and said softly. "You must understand Harry, that what happened That Day was so horrifying, that sometimes we find ourselves trying to pretend it never happened just to stay sane and get through the hours."
A short pause.
"Harry... you are so strong, with all the things you've been through in your life it's sometimes hard to believe you're still here with us." A tear rolled silently down her cheek as she looked at him, with gleaming brown eyes that shone with sorrow and pain, but were also filled with love and pride.
He looked back at her and repressed the urge to grimace; he already regretted his stupid question. All he wanted were simple facts, so that he might discover useful details that could be essential. He was glad he didn't feel what they felt, because this way he would be able to focus all his energy on what was important right now; which was finding and destroying the Horcruxes.
Hermione took something out of the folds of her robe and handed it to him. "Here, it's a ...list," she said tentatively.
Harry took the thick scroll of parchment from her curiously and unrolled it. It was so extensive that it trailed a foot on the floor of the Hospital Wing.
It was indeed a list, a very long list.
He looked at the title and read:
/The deceased, the injured and missing of the attack at The Burrow, compiled by Hermione Granger./
He glanced back at her and she shrugged "It kept me occupied, the... scratching of the quill as I wrote soothed me," she stated objectively, as if making a list of injured and dead people wasn't strange at all and naturally had obvious therapeutic qualities.
The list was on alphabetical order, mostly covered with Delacours, Weasleys and Prewetts. He hadn't known the Delacours, but he saw that Gabrielle had found the same fate as Ginny, as had a lot of the others.
The only thing he knew of the Prewetts was that they were Molly's side of the family; most all of them had been murdered and some of the children were still missing. The list seemed endless.
He continued father down:
Weasley, Ann - Deceased from Avada Kedavra, the killing curse
Weasley, Arthur - Injured by Reducto, a blasting Curse- severe head wound, concussion
Weasley, Benjamin ÂÂ-Deceased from Avada Kedavra, the killing curse
Weasley, Bill - Deceased from Avada Kedavra, the killing curse
Weasley, Cassie - Deceased from Avada Kedavra, the killing curse
Weasley, Charlie - Deceased from Avada Kedavra, the killing curse
Weasley, Fleur - Deceased from Avada Kedavra, the killing curse
Weasley, Fred Â - Injured by Diffindo, a splitting curse, severe wound on right arm, amputated
Weasley, George - Injured by Incendio - Burn wounds - recovered completely
Weasley, Ginny - Deceased from Avada Kedavra, the killing curse
He started shaking, and his hands were crumpling the side of the parchment as he went over the names of hundreds of people randomly. Percy Weasley - Missing, Molly Weasley - in a coma, Kingsley Shacklebolt - Dead/, /Augusta Longbottom - Dead, Perkins - Dead...
He was so unbelievably angry reading this, his eyes flashed dangerously and he could feel his magic and the pendants magic flaring up around him as he scanned the list, but he didn't care. He could hear the windows of the infirmary start to rattle and the beds screeching on the floor as they started moving. Things were flying through the room dangerously, but all of that didn't matter to him.
He was so consumed by the list that he didn't notice the terrified screams of Hermione as she looked at him in terror, and the frightened shouts of Ron and Madam Pomfrey telling him to stop.
Verity - Dead, Madam Rosmerta- Dead, Pomona Sprout- Dead...
/Dead, dead, dead, dead... /everyone was just dead.
The windows started to crack and Hogwarts seemed to be shuddering in its foundation as if a massive earthquake had come.
He didn't understand why he felt so furious because he thought he wasn't able to/ feel/ anything. Maybe only small amounts of certain emotions, but it really all didn't seem to matter to him now. His hair stood on end and the magic around him started to encircle him in big loops of energy.
The door opened with a slam, the change of sound startled him and he looked up from the parchment. He noticed for the first time that he had been hovering two feet in the air, a silverish-blue light was radiating from his skin and from underneath his shirt what he realised was the pendant he wore.
No one had entered, then McGonagall came rushing into the infirmary; she stopped dead in her tracks horrified at the scene that was playing out in front of her. "Do something!" she yelled at someone to her right, Harry didn't understand because there wasn't anybody there.
Then a Disillusionment Charm was broken and out of nowhere Severus Snape stood next to McGonagall, wand pointed at Harry, a livid sneer on his face as he growled "Stupefy!"
Harry saw the red light of the stunner connect with his chest and he froze up instantly then crashed helplessly to the floor.
He stopped falling less then an inch from the ground; he hovered there for a second then was levitated to a nearby bed.
He couldn't move and he couldn't really see a lot, because he was stiff, lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. He felt drained and exhausted from all the wild magic he had done, and his brain malfunctioned causing him to be unable to think properly.
Did he just see what he thought he saw? He wasn't sure anymore, clearly it was a ridiculous notion to even think that McGonagall would bring him of all people into Hogwarts...
He heard Ron's angry voice snarl something that cleared him of all illusions. "That's Snape! What is he doing here, he killed Dumbledore!"
"Headmistress McGonagall what's going on?" squeaked Hermione's terrified voice.
"Mr. Weasley, if you would be so kind not to point your wand at me-" he heard Snape say in a cold annoyed voice. "I don't wish to be on the end of one of your dysfunctional spells, I quite like all of my body part," he sneered.
Ron's face turned a beet red and he scowled furiously at his former professor, continuing to aim his wand at him.
"Mr. Weasley put you wand down this instant!" said McGonagall.
"But Headmistress, he's a murderer! And now he's going to kill Harry!" Ron protested in dismay.
"As quick on the uptake as ever, I see," Snape mocked cruelly.
"Severus, you're not helping at all, so if you don't have anything constructive to say please stay quiet!" McGonagall snapped agitatedly.
Snape crossed his arms and pressed his lips together tightly, then settled for just glowering at Ron instead.
Hermione pushed Ron's wand arm down to his side and whispered something in his ear, upon which he nodded.
Madam Pomfrey who had yet to say a word turned to McGonagall and said eyes wide "Severus is the one who saved Mr. Potter? You mean to say that he's the one who gave him the pendant?"
McGonagall nodded and said "I recognised the pendant immediately when Mr. Potter had held it up into the light. Severus sometimes used it when he was summoned to a meeting to aid him in losing all sense of emotion but anger, resentment and hate.
"When Mr. Potter told me that a house-elf named Dazle had given it to him, there was no doubt left in my mind that Severus must have arranged for it. Dazle is Severus's house-elf you see, who came to Hogwarts with him each term. Dazle's family has been working for the Snape family for centuries. Severus explained everything to me."
She looked at Snape then who nodded.
Ron abruptly aimed his wand at Harry and shouted "/Enervate/!" then quickly rushed to Harry's bedside dragging Hermione with him.
Harry sat up quickly then swung his feet over the side of the bed and stood up.
"Your Dazle's Master?" he asked astonished, looking at Snape dubiously.
The three adults glared at Ron, who seemed be focusing on trying to spontaneously shrink and hide behind Harry.
"Indeed," Snape said sourly, looking doubtful at Harry, as if he expected him to attack him at any second.
Harry probably would have a week ago. But now that he had just exhausted most of his magic, and really wasn't overwhelmed by all kinds of emotions and notions of revenge any longer, he didn't actually seem to want to anymore.
Instead he was mostly curious.
Dazle had been Snape's house-elf? Harry thought incredulously. So when that stupid elf had been going on and on about needing to give him the pendant from his Master, he had been talking about Snape all this time? He couldn't believe it; Harry was stunned, this time figuratively.
"But he killed Dumbledore!" Ron blurted out from behind Harry.
Snape turned to face him, his eyes flashing darkly and his face set into a furious expression as he stared angrily at Ron.
"Things are not always as they seem Mr. Weasley," he snarled in a steely voice. "and there is absolutely nothing I regret more in my life then having to kill the greatest wizard of all time at his own request." Snape closed his eyes; a pained expression clouded over his face, and took a deep breath.
When he next opened his eyes, he seemed calmer. His face had gone smooth and void of any lingering emotion.
He spoke up again after a few seconds and he started to explain everything in a flat monotone voice.
"I was forced to make an Unbreakable Vow at the beginning of last year to keep my credibility as a Death Eater and destroy the whispered suspicions that had been going about of me being a traitor." He looked determinedly around the silent room.
"Had I known then how events would play out, I would have never agreed to make that vow." His eyes went over each of their faces, he let his fierce expression linger on Harry's face an instant longer, wanting to make sure everyone understood the sincerity of his words.
"Narcissa Malfoy had come to me in a state of terror for her son's life; the Dark Lord had appointed Draco the task of murdering Albus. Of course he would never succeed, and Narcissa knew that all too well. She had made me vow to protect Draco to the best of my abilities and if he should fail to complete his task, I was to carry it out for him."
Hermione gasped loudly at that. Harry glanced at Ron and saw that his face had emptied of all color, his freckles standing out sharply on his pale face.
"Albus had known he was dying; it was obvious to anyone who dared to look. He wanted me to kill him in the unlikely event that Draco would come close to succeed his task, so that I might save Draco, remain useful as a trusted spy to the Order and if necessary protect and aid Potter whenever I could."
A vision came to Harry then, he saw Dumbledore ancient and worn-out, his hand blackened and dying slowly. His face had been white as snow after he had swallowed all of the liquid in the cave when they had found the fake Horcrux, and he saw again how Dumbledore had been forced to lean on him to get out of the cave and to Hogsmeade.
Snape was right, Dumbledore had been dying. Now that his judgment wasn't impaired by overflowing emotions and grief he could see that clearly.
"We had informed no one of this mad plan which I grudgingly agreed to, I had never thought it would actually come that far." He sighed.
"It had to look convincing of course, to the Death Eaters and to everyone else. I knew it would be impossible to convince anyone of my loyalty to Albus and the Order after what had happened on the Tower. I had tried to warn you of the planned attack at The Burrow but all my letters and attempts at contact served in vain." His face changed, and he looked at Ron with what seemed to be real regret in his eyes.
"The only thing I was able to do was to go along, and see if I could lessen the damage. When I saw Potter standing there, in the middle of the attack, frozen and helpless I took the enormous risk of apparating him to safety."
"That was /you/?" Harry interrupted, stammering helplessly.
Snape sneered at him. "Yes Potter, if I had not, you would have probably been killed by one of the Avada Kedavras that had been flying around while /you /were merely standing still in shock."
Harry gaped at him. "I don't understand... why did you leave me a piece of parchment with your address on it?"
"I hadn't much time to form a concrete plan! All I knew was that I had to distract you with something else or you would have gone right back to The Burrow, which was the most dangerous place for you to be at that moment!" Snape snapped scowling at Harry.
"I counted on the one thing I was certain of, your hatred for me," he said coldly.
"That way I was able to give you a focus, something to center your grief and anger on. I had not actually expected you to be successful in disabling the shield that I had placed on the house to keep people from coming in and going out. I suppose I misjudged your power and the amount of dislike that you felt towards me," he finished icily
"Imagine my surprise when I heard from fellow Death Eaters that young and what I knew to be /wandless /Mr. Malfoy, because I had taken it from him myself, had been successful in capturing the Boy Who Lived, and that we all had to assemble at Goyle's house immediately." He looked at Harry with disgust then.
"I was furious, and did not know how to get you out of your very dire situation. In my desperation and lack of other solutions I took the pendant, one of my family heirlooms, and set it so that it would release a Portotalus at seven o'clock. I wasn't sure it would work; releasing a Portotalus takes a lot of power and is extremely dangerous.
"My great-great-great-great great grandfather Mandol Snape was the last Snape noted in history to have opened one successfully. He was sucked up and never seen again. The only thing that came out of the other end was that pendant, which is also the last existing Releaser left," he pointed at Harry's chest.
"Records show that those who have survived opening a Portotalus all had gone insane from the dark magic it and its Releaser possessed. Except for one, the Dark Wizard Grindelwald," he said coolly.
"It has been illegal to open up Portotaluses ever since Grindelwald started to open up so many with the purpose that oblivious Muggles, who of course couldn't see the things, started to wander into them and disappear for ever."
"But," Harry started "wouldn't it have been illegal anyway because of the dark magic?"
"Magic is magic Harry," Hermione began in her lecture tone. "In the very beginning wizards did not have classifications on what was dark magic or what was good magic. All magic just was.
"There has always been a difference though, between wizards who did good things and wizards who did bad things. It was all about what they did with that magic. I've read about Portotaluses and their Releasers," she continued excitedly.
"The myth states that it had actually been a regular way of transportation once. Like Apparating and using a Portkey, until the original spell properties got changed and were lost forever. No one exactly knows how or why, just that after it changed, it took immense power to actually open one, and only the greatest wizards or witches like Grindelwald who were lucky enough to own a Releaser succeeded," she concluded looking at Harry in awe.
"Anyway, the Ministry is said to have destroyed all registered Releasers because no one was able to use them anyway, and the few that were able to, almost always abused their powers," she finished proudly.
Harry nodded at her.
"Ten points to Gryffindor," Snape mocked coldly, his face turning to sneer at Hermione who flushed a bright pink but refused to lower her gaze when she met his eyes.
"Most spells that are currently classified as '/dark'/ are spells that cost us a lot of energy, effort and takes a special mind-set. They are spells not everyone is able to perform-"
"Hold on a second," interrupted Ron. "So listening to all of that, does that mean that the Killing Curse is actually not bad?" he asked confused.
"Of course it's bad," snapped Snape. "What Miss Granger tried to explain to you, why I don't know seeing as you are clearly too obtuse to understand the simplest of concepts, is that the magic itself is not bad, but the way the magic is used to perform that spell is bad," he said to Ron spitefully.
"Take the Patronus Charm for instance. It is a spell that a lot of wizard's even adults are unable to accomplish. The thing that differs between the Patronus Charm and the Killing Curse is the /objective/. The spell itself is merely the mediator."
Ron still looked a bit confused but remained silent. Snape turned to Harry.
"The reason that the pendant's magic is considered dark is because its creator wanted the bearer to do dark things with it. Not only does the magic of the pendant remove most of the bearer's emotions, but if worn for too long your magic and the pendant's magic start to blend, and you won't be able to tell apart your own desires from what the pendant desires /of /you.
"Your eyes will slowly lose all traces of colour and the pendant will start to instill resentment, rage and hate. You'll become short-tempered and unstable. After a while you'll be so enthralled by its charm that you don't want, and there for won't be able to remove it."
"I'm fine," Harry snapped, annoyed, his hand reaching up automatically to touch the pendant.
He didn't want to take it off, he didn't want to feel his grief and pain. He didn't care that Snape wasn't a traitor after all, that didn't mean he wasn't still an ugly, selfish, spiteful, hooked-nosed git. He didn't care what Snape said about the pendant. He won't be able to convince him that he actually /wanted /to feel all the hurt and sorrow and that it was just the pendant telling him otherwise! That was just ludicrous.
He just needed the pendant to help him to be objective that was all. He could not be objective and depressed at the same time!
He was absolutely sure that after he had found and destroyed most of the Horcruxes he wouldn't need the pendant anymore and would be able to take it off when he really wanted to.
Snape narrowed his eyes at Harry suspiciously.
"How long has he been wearing that thing Minerva?" he asked grimly.
"Since we found him a week ago. He has been in an induced coma for six days." She answered stiffly.
Snape's eyes widened, and his perfect expressionless mask wavered as his mouth dropped open in shock.
"Salazar Slytherin himself! The whole week?" Snape exclaimed.
Harry thought he saw actual concern flicker briefly in Snape's eyes, before his mask fell back in place and he scowled, but he wasn't sure.
"So what?" retorted Harry, looking directly into Snape's eyes. "You have worn the pendant as well!"
"Yes, for about an hour each time at most!" barked Snape. "You would have taken it off if you had not been in a coma; the pendants magic can be quite...overwhelming. If I had known you would have been out of it all week, all the while wearing the Releaser I would have thought of something else!" said Snape hotly.
The Hospital Wing went completely silent. All that could be heard were the ragged breathing of Snape and Harry.
McGonagall was looking at them disapprovingly, lips pursed and arms folded across her chest.
Madam Pomfrey seemed to be torn between telling them off and kicking them out of the Hospital Wing entirely.
Harry and Snape were glaring daggers at each other.
"It doesn't matter," said Harry his voice douched in ice water, "because I'm not taking it off no matter what you say," He snarled at Snape, his black eyes flashing shockingly in the clear light of the Infirmary. The pendant around his neck pulsed visibly with magic that started to surround him in waves as a sort of protective shield.
Hermione let out a frightened gasp and took an uncertain step back from him, her hair flying to the sides of her face from the energy that seemed to be radiating off of Harry.
Ron stood motionless in alarm, looking at him as if he had never seen him before in his life.
"What?" Harry snapped at them.
"Maybe... you should listen to Professor Snape, Harry, you're not yourself and he wants to help you," Hermione ventured, taking another timid step backwards.
"Yeah, mate... maybe you should err, let them help you...I mean..." stammered Ron, following Hermione away from Harry. "You're scaring us Harry," he finished softly.
Harry was livid, he had never been this angry at his friends ever before.
How could they be afraid of him? Didn't they know he would never hurt them?
His magic started to lash out once more, and the windows of the infirmary resumed their cracking as everything started to shake all over again. Bedpans, vases, and other objects started flying through the room.
He looked around at the others, and saw everyone looking at him fearfully except for Snape, who just looked at him incensed.
"I must discuss something with Mr. Potter. Alone." Snape's voice cut through the room calmly eyes narrowed and never leaving Harry's.
No one moved an inch.
"NOW!" he bellowed deafeningly.