NOTE: This is a translation of a Chinese HP Fanfiction by 墨玉绿
BETA: the brilliant and awesome AzulticSerpens
January 16, 2001
It was true that some Slytherins had a tendency toward extreme egotism. At times, the young Dark Lord's paranoid and selfish nature led him to make hasty judgements — he had, wrongly, accused Harry of abandoning him. So, while he was seething in the safety of the past, he couldn't have known the dangerous situation Harry found himself in.
In Tom's future and Harry's present, once again, Harry Potter was engaged in a dangerous battle. He was facing imminent death, fighting against the formidable and sweeping dark force by the name of Tom Riddle — no, by the name of Lord Voldemort.
Just as Harry had arrived in the future, gasping and stumbling, the news of Voldemort's attack reached his ears.
Voldemort was coming— with an army and the shadow of death behind him.
In all their previous battles against Death Eaters, Voldemort was rarely seen at the front line. Instead, he commanded his troops from the shadows, pulling every string like a puppet master, watching Harry's and his friends' desperate struggles with all the amusement of a cat grinning at trapped mice. Although it was pathetic to even be thankful for this small mercy, Harry would have to admit that he was glad that Voldemort never hit them with his full force, and so... Dumbledore's army managed to escape through the cracks.
But now, the Dark Lord had lost all his patience.
He was coming to end it — once and for all.
"HARRY! You stay here!" Hermione didn't even have time to greet him, before running out of the lab, white lab coat flapping behind her.
All around him, Dumbledore's army were bustling with pale and alarmed faces.
Voldemort's forces were approaching from a plain a few miles east of their headquarters. The attack took them by surprise. All the resistance's young soldiers merely had time to grab their wands, potions, brooms, and portkeys, before rushing into battle bravely. This would be their toughest test yet. They were so young. They were not ready.
The Dark Lord himself is here! — The news spread like virus, reverberating through the battlefield to the cheers of Death Eaters and the grimace of light wizards.
Voldemort inspected the vast plain before him, endless black-robed bodies stood in battle formations behind him. He narrowed his scarlet eyes at the nervous young faces of his enemies.
It was obvious which side would emerge victorious in this battle.
The flat stretch of plain offered no cover for hiding. This would be a battle of straight forward combat, a war of attrition. Simple. The side with the most manpower would win.
The air was thick with tension, but the Dark Lord towered above it all with power and confidence. Behind him, his army snarled in their eagerness and bloodlust. He waved his hand and they advanced at once, a formidable dense mass of dark robes and raised wands.
The Dark Lord's handsome face was lit-up by a cruel smile.
Dear saviour of the wizarding world...Harry Potter...Tell me, how can you save them now?
"No matter the means, no matter the sacrifice, winning is all that matters. Winning is our honour," the Dark Lord declared. Cold winds carried his voice far and wide. The Death Eaters roared in approval; their master's words had stoked their desire for glory, blood, and death into a murderous frenzy.
They charged forward, running across the plain, swarming Dumbledore's army like hungry ants.
They were winning easily. As the battle raged on in pained screams and bright explosions and deathly swirls of spells, all that remained of the their enemies were the light's best fighters. Making clever use of brooms, Dumbledore's army fought in an orderly formation, a perfect harmony of defensive and offensive strategies, each protecting his comrades with his own life. Those young witches and wizards fought with everything they had.
And so the resistance was able to hold off their attacks. For now.
Still, the numbers were on their side. Death Eaters outnumbered their foes ten to one.
On the fringes of the battlefield, the Dark Lord stood with his Inner Circle, watching the struggle with cold eyes.
"My Lord, let us enter the battle too," Bellatrix Lestrange could barely contain her bloodlust, a mad glint in her dark eyes.
The Dark Lord, who now had the chiselled features of someone in their late twenties, narrowed his scarlet eyes as he patted Nagini. Casual and relaxed, he seemed as though he was watching a funny play at the theatre, instead of the bloodshed in front of him.
"Not yet. We'll wait. But I do believe it is time for my Death Eaters to downsize...a bit."
He had no need for weaklings as Death Eaters. War was an opportunity— death shall weed out all incompetence from his squadrons.
They were hopelessly outnumbered. The odds were against them. Yet the dire situation spared them not one second to breathe, nor one moment to say a prayer.
"Harry, take a break. I'll take the lead," Hermione, who had been manning the command booth, had no choice but to enter the battle herself. She rushed past Harry, who had just dismounted from his broom.
Harry grabbed her arm, green eyes troubled. He hesitated, then nodded and gave her a weak smile. "Hermione, be careful."
She gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze, before apparating away.
Harry gulped in the chilly air, trying to suppress the twisting pain in his chest. He felt like his insides were being crushed. His whole body trembled with agony until he collapsed onto the command table. If it weren't for the support of its cold hard surface, Harry was sure that he would be rolling on the floor right now.
Time-jumping had taken a heavier toll on his body than he had thought previously.
The messy-haired saviour pounded angry fists against the table, knuckles white with pain and helplessness. More than anyone else, Harry knew that he was in a wretched spot. With his condition so weakened and crippled, he would be useless on the battlefield, but... they still need him. Harry struggled to stand up.
Bitterness bled into bright emerald eyes, as he remembered the not-so-distant past. The leader of the Death Eaters— who was so eager to slaughter them all— was also the little boy who, just a day ago, had asked him hopefully, "Can't you come with me?"
But now... it seemed that all his efforts were in vain. Nothing had changed. If anything, it was only getting worse.
"How can YOU be hiding at a time like this?!" A sharp voice pulled Harry back from the cliff's edge of despair and pain.
With a pale and confused face, Harry looked up at the intruder, before snapping back into alert battle mode.
The intruder was young and impetuous, blood splattering his battle-robe, cuts covering his face and arms. His angry eyes flared with an admirable, but naive, self-righteous sense of justice. His Gryffindor sensibilities taught him that only cowards stay behind as friends battled with their lives. He glared at Harry accusingly, cursing out loud.
"How can you hide like a coward when Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley are fighting out there— YOU are supposed to be our leader!"
It was hard to hold a grudge against youthful bravery and honest passions.
Harry nodded as he stood up. "Grab your brooms. Gather some men. We'll head out immediately."
As he moved, another jolt of pain shot through him. Harry grew paler, but, no matter what happened to his body, he would persist and fight on.
He was a reckless Gryffindor, after all.
The Dark Lord twirled his new wand between long, pale fingers. He had obtained his prize from Dumbledore's tomb. The Dark Lord held no qualms about stealing from the dead. In fact, he planned on conquering them all — Death or Prophecy or whatever was foolish enough to stand in his way.
Finally, he had enough of playing along as the audience. It was time for him to put on his own grand act — starting with boy.
He pointed his wand to his throat; the spell propelled his voice outward to everyone on the battlefield, his low, rumbling laugh clear and booming like thunder.
"Hello, members of Dumbledore's army. Halt. Let us all take a break from battle—"
Everyone halted, frozen in terror or bewilderment. Everyone heard the clear, cold voice, even Harry, who was barely clinging onto consciousness.
"First, let us acknowledge this plain fact— you are losing," the Dark Lord's voice sounded surprisingly pleasant, amused, as he chuckled at something. "But I'm feeling rather generous today... and so I am willing to offer you a deal— a deal that is only beneficial to you and your friends."
Under the influence of Dark Lord's silencing spell, the whole battlefield remained unnervingly still and quiet, saving for whizzing of few extinguishing spells. His voice was the only source of activity across the battle-torn plain, tempting all with an offer to escape the bloodshed.
"However, as with any deal, you must pay an equivalent price. Give me Harry Potter and you will be rewarded. Give me Harry Potter and I shall withdraw along with my Death Eaters. Give me Harry Potter and none shall be harmed."
Beside him, the Inner Circle frowned at their Lord's decision, but only Bellatrix was crazy enough to question him.
"No, my Lord. It is the perfect opportunity to end them—"
"Do not fret, Bella," The Dark Lord replied nonchalantly, a twisted smile on his pale lips that told his cruel intentions. "Isn't this a fun game? Let us await their choice— will they choose life or follow their dear saviour to death? Will the Gryffindors prove loyal? Will the Chosen One choose to give up his own life for his so-called friends, all of whom shall forsake him soon?"
"Ah— and I shall enjoy playing along as the big, bad villain. What a wonderful show, isn't it? Good verses evil, a tale as old as time... Ooh, I'm getting rather restless with anticipation." Scarlet eyes glinted with a mocking delight. The Dark Lord's soft hisses lingered threateningly in the frigid winter air, sending chills down the spines of his followers.
Harry swallowed thickly as his broom zoomed forward. He shook, whether due to the cold or pain he did not know.
"HARRY —" The impetuous young Gryffindor called after him. "Harry, you can't— You can't go to him. This must be one of you-know-who's tricks."
Ah, to be so young and naive.
Harry flashed a grin at the young man, before speeding away suddenly, losing him with few sharp turns.
He had fought against Voldemort for nine long years. He knew his enemy better than anyone else, and so he saw through the man's goal right away.
This was more just a trick — this was a trap. And it was a trap that Harry couldn't refuse.
Harry knew that he would have to accept Voldemort's deal. If he chose not to go, Dumbledore's army would not turn him in willingly and Voldemort would show them no mercy. And so, the three elements combined to form the perfect clause for a deal that was beneficial for the Dark Lord, while trapping Harry like chains, tight around his neck. Now, Harry faced the impossible choice.
There was no way for him to win, so he had to go. Willingly. Bravely. Unexpectedly.
He needed to confront Voldemort face-to-face, to strike when the Dark Lord was least expecting it. He needed to find an opportunity to do the impossible.
He needed to win!
While Tom was waiting all alone at number 15 London Street, growing increasingly resentful toward Harry, in the present, Harry was currently confronting an older version of him. With a deathly pale complexion, Harry stood in front of the Dark Lord, staring at the handsome face that was so painfully familiar.
Seventy years ago, a boy had once cared for and obsessed over the green-eyed man in front of him. Though presently, faced with the same young man, the Dark Lord only felt fiery rage and murderous malice toward his nemesis. He had no recollection of the man who had raised him, for Fate had taken all his memories of the time-traveller many years ago.
"Harry Potter," the Dark Lord hissed, savouring the familiar name on his tongue. "Welcome, welcome."
Harry Potter shuddered at sight of the restored man in front of him— although not with fear. He raised his wand, his lungs struggling with every painful gasp of breath, Voldemort's face indistinguishable from the boy seventy years ago.
"Sectumsempra!" Harry made the first move. He didn't have the strength for a long duel.
Immediately, Voldemort answered. A streak of red light flew toward him. Harry dived left as the spell gazed his arm, his movement jerky and sluggish due to the pain clinging to every part of his body. Damn Fate and those troublesome time-jumps!
Before he could even recover his breath, a red light hit Harry squarely in the chest.
Of course, it was the Dark Lord's favourite — the torture curse.
"Well, well. I shall try not to hold your lack of manners against you. Throwing a dark curse as a greeting? Destroying my precious diary? Tsk, tsk —"
The Dark Lord moved toward the young savour, who was twitching on the ground in agony and muffed screams. For the briefest moment, the boy's pale, anguished face stirred up unknown emotions inside him. The Dark Lord paused, before breaking the spell and dragging the boy to his feet roughly by his hair.
"Give me Slytherin's Locket."
For some unknown reason, as his mind grew sharper, the Dark Lord grew more and more fixated on the so-called weakness. It felt like — He felt like he had forgotten something very important. He had to reabsorb that specific Horcrux, because he needed to remember, to recover all those memories and emotions stored within.
Unexpectedly, the young saviour obeyed.
With great difficulty, Harry stuggled out of the man's vice-like grip and pulled out a silver chain from his inner pocket. Something golden gleamed on the other end— Slytherin's Locket!
"TOM, keep your words! Withdraw your troops now!" Harry clutched the silver chain, shouting before he had time to think. The familiar name came tumbling out of his mouth easily, and Harry immediately realized his mistake. His chest squeezed painfully; it seemed that name had been branded on his heart forever.
For some reason, the Dark Lord was startled at the mention of his old name. He stared at the pale young saviour, who looked so weakened that he might keel over any moment, and suddenly, his heart raced wildly, almost as if some living thing was struggling to break out from his chest.
He pursed his lips, perplexed with yearning. Is...is this Horcrux calling out to him?
His soul screamed at him to grab the locket. He needed to find out about the weakness. Suddenly, greed and arrogance propelled him to move forward. Driven by a subconscious hunger curved deep in his bones, the Dark Lord eagerly reached out to snatch the locket from Harry's hands.
Of course, no one expected the saviour to even have energy to remain standing, much less to ambush the Dark Lord in his own camp. And no one expected that he was bold enough to use a destroyed Horcrux and himself as bait.
As soon as the Dark Lord's fingers touched the silver chain, Harry attacked.
"Avada— Sectumsempra!" Harry shouted, knuckles white as he aimed his wand.
Almost on instinct he changed the spell, he just couldn't... he couldn't use the killing curse. Selfish emotions split his heart; the image of the boy from seventy years ago filled his mind.
The dark spell hit the Dark Lord's stomach; at this close range, the damage was maximized. The man was cut from lower belly to left shoulder, a dark gaping gash spanning his entire torso with blood spurting out like leaks from a water hose. The Dark Lord stumbled backward, even he couldn't ignore such a life-threatening injury.
Only Snape knew the counter-curse to Sectumsempra, and, unfortunately, he wasn't present that night.
A faint victorious smile appeared on the young man's pale face. Before the Death Eaters could react, Harry gathered all that was left of his magic and apparated away on the spot.
"MY LORD!" It took Bellatrix's blood-curdling scream to snap the Death Eaters into action.
Lucius rushed toward his Lord and tried a couple of healing charms, but to no avail. The blood kept on flowing. Lucius panicked, even the Dark Lord could die from such tremendous blood loss.
The Dark Lord seemed to have reached the same conclusion. He only had time to clasp the Locket tightly in his hands, before ordering them. "Return to base— NOW! And get Severus."
The Dark Lord wasn't too concerned with the saviour's insignificant victory. It was only a tempory delay. He knew that he would not die so easily.
Right now, despite the pain of his body, all of the Dark Lord's thoughts were focused on the locket in his hands.
This horcrux, which contained the weakness that he had somehow forgotten, was finally his again. Finally, he could recover the truth— His instincts told him that this weakness was very, very important to him.
Couple of things -
First, special thanks to AzulticSerpens for her expedient work. She helps to make double updates possible :)
Second, good to know people do read end-of-chapter notes. I only use it to make logistic announcement or whatever. (Note: sometimes there are double updates. If you see an update not on Thursday/ Friday, then assume there's double update that week.)
Third, thanks to all the reviewers and constructive criticisms and complains about Harry's genius plan (LOL and there were lots). Yeeek! Angst and fatalism are just aspects of the story, nothing that I can do about it... Er, how about I leave a joke for you guys at the end of the angst-y chapters?
Fourth, here's 墨玉绿/Emerald Ink's Author's Note:
"I like to clear up a few things about Harry's decision:
First, why didn't he write to Tom? As mentioned few chapters ago, he wanted to write but he didn't know what to say. Also he believed that he would be back in three months, which is when Tom is at Hogwarts. It's never meant to be cruel.
Also, for plot reasons, Fate is able to interfere. Such events are not coincidental but intentional."