January 3, 1945
Joan didn't have the right to interrogate the German Dark wizard, but Harry's firm, stubborn and unusual attitude made her reconsider. After discussion with a German Auror team, Harry was allowed to ask Karkaroff some questions under the supervision of a German Auror.
Harry was still wearing Alphonse's coat; it's fluffy lining provided excellent warmth, but Harry still felt cold.
Who was Karkaroff? Right now, probably only he knew that Karkaroff's head was crowned with the title of an early Death Eater.
With Karkaroff here, wearing a robe and hood, what could it mean?
Was Tom doing all of this?
Then, what about the hopeful change he believed in before? Was it another one of his damn disguises?
Harry could clearly remember how Helena Ravenclaw was cheated of Ravenclaw's Diadem. He was blinded and deceived, had become addicted to the carefully crafted facade he couldn't extricate himself from; he even religiously believed that it was a turning point in despair, the rising dawn in the dark night. He delivered hard work and trust, but why is it that in the end, he was always proven wrong? That it was all an act? That the light he worshipped was just a carefully constructed illusion?
Harry felt a little out of breath. His mouth felt like it was pierced by something, and with each breath, oxygen was leaking from it; although he was gasping, his brain was on the verge of suffocation.
"Just be Tom Riddle, okay?" He had asked almost imploringly.
And he simply answered, "Okay."
Thinking about it now, was it because he didn't intend to comply with the agreement that he promised so readily?
"Who told you to do this?"
Karkaroff didn't speak - just looked at Harry with sullen eyes, his hooked nose even more terrifying and pronounced under the lamp in the interrogation room.
Harry glanced at the German Auror standing next to him and refrained from saying the name Tom Riddle. Instead, Harry just asked, "Is it him?"
Karkaroff understood. Although Harry Potter saw his face and became suspicious, and although he would be severely punished by that person, no matter what, he couldn't give up the name Tom Riddle. Right now he only had to choose between pain or no pain; if he spoke, there'd probably only be death for him.
And how could he, Igor Karkaroff, tolerate his life ending right when he was about to gain power?
So he raised his eyes, and said rudely, "I don't know who the fuck you're talking about."
Harry suddenly started laughing. "That's right, I was wondering how he could come out to travel so leisurely, and even… Came to travel in Germany."
Harry suddenly made a realisation; it turned out Tom's every move was already planned.
The thought made Harry shiver. Could it be that every night, from knocking on his door to picking up his school bag and leaving, he had been repeatedly practicing? And was he just an extra, repeatedly acting just to highlight the protagonist's perfect plan?
Harry couldn't help but laugh madly, holding his stomach to the point where he could almost laugh while curled up on the floor.
The German Auror standing by looked strangely at the madman, wondering whether he should intervene and take him out.
Karkaroff looked at Harry, who was laughing so hard that tears were coming out, his mind in a state of confusion. He needed a perfect lie. No, it didn't matter if it wasn't perfect; as long as he tried to coax the past, his punishment from that person may be lighter.
"Who are you talking about? I don't know them," he said in calm pretence, trying to play a relaxed and arrogant expression. "The name of the person who ordered me to do this would scare you to death!"
"Malfoy! Have you heard of it?" Karkaroff wasn't stupid; he understood that person's situation and knew about his plan to recruit Malfoy into his force. He exhausted his limited abilities to pretend.
Harry stopped laughing and made a startled expression. "Really? I met Mrs Malfoy just the day before yesterday, and she didn't say Mr Malfoy was at…"
"Tch, who would tell an outsider about this sort of thing!" Karkaroff hastily completed his lie.
Harry began to laugh again as if he really was experiencing something joyful.
"How could Abraxas Malfoy have a wife... Hahaha…" Harry laughingly buried his face in Alphonse's coat.
His laughter continued; even Joan and the others waiting outside the interrogation room could hear it clearly, making the group look at each other.
It sounded happy, but if you listened very carefully it would've sounded like someone's faith was collapsing.
And that person didn't know all of this was happening. No matter how powerful and outstanding he was, he couldn't have been able to predict what would happen next. That person just once again appeared in the tallest tower of Nurmengard Castle.
"How is it?" The young man was still wearing a hood, his facial features hidden in the dark.
The Old Dark Lord was sitting in the corner, laughing as if he was crying, talking to himself, "Of course… How could it possibly just resurrect someone…"
"Unsuccessful?" The young man raised his eyebrows, but Grindelwald couldn't see that action.
Who was Grindelwald? The Dark Lord who conquered Germany. Hardened by war and blood, he could easily distinguish fiction from reality - could see that those summoned back by the Resurrection Stone were probably just the souls' ignorance. He had tried countless times but was disappointed countless times. In the end, he could only slump his arms, extinguish all the hope that was suddenly evoked, and hopelessly admit that the power of the Deathly Hallows was nothing more than this.
He threw out the ring that had always been in his hand, caught by the man in the hood.
"Unfortunately, even if you're unsatisfied, our deal has already been accomplished."
"Don't worry, kid," the Old Dark Lord leaned wearily against the wall, his voice hoarse, "take it - take it all. I'm tired."
The man in the hood shrugged his shoulder and left a few words before leaving. "If you want to leave, you could find me. The jailer downstairs is one of my people."
He paused. "Of course, the terms of my offer won't last too long."
But the Old Dark Lord didn't even spare him a look.
Just as he came out of Nurmengard Castle, a few individuals in black robes suddenly retreated from the empty street.
"Lord." The leader came forward, bowed his head, and hesitated before saying, "Karkaroff was caught."
"Idiot." The person laughed, before pausing again for a moment. "Which Auror team took him? If it's a left-wing group, then it'll be troublesome." He'd already bribed the right-wing superiors; if he was taken away by the right-wing, then he'd be back in about two or three hours.
A few black-robed figures hesitated. Another person stood out; their facial features were hidden, but their voice was that of a woman's. "... They seemed to be… British Aurors."
Nobody saw their Lord's eyes narrow dangerously.
"Who was there?"
The words seemed to be squeezed out of his teeth, causing a burst of terror.
"W-we don't know, but the leader was a woman with short hair." The woman in the hood summoned her courage, and stumblingly said, "That's right, I think the man who caught Karkaroff was called…"
Even in the dark, the woman could feel her Lord's increasingly cold gaze, and the cold sweat on her forehead became worse.
"Harry!" Another black-robed man suddenly remembered, the name exiting from his mouth, but then he received a sudden red light from that person and he couldn't help but scream.
Tom Riddle felt for the first time that things were out of his control.
He had carefully used the girl who had become one of his people as an excuse, created disguises and erased all traces of himself in his journey, and even put in the effort to send postcards to dispel Harry's suspicion; not to mention that it took him a semester to finally get Harry accustomed to his existence and almost completely eliminate his guard against him. Everything was destroyed in the hands of that idiot Karkaroff!
Damn it, damn it, DAMN IT!
The shivering Death Eaters couldn't see the expression on their Lord then. His eyes had become red, looking as if it was about to drip blood, the tyranny and bloodthirstiness within stirring and tumbling just like a molten volcanic crater when it's about to erupt, burning everything it touches without leaving a trace.
Tom took a deep breath, looked at the Death Eater who was struggling to stand up from the ground and calmed his tone. "Go back and receive your reward."
"Yes!" Fanaticism replaced the originally terrified and panicked expressions on their faces.
Maybe following their Lord meant having to suffer from his cruel punishments, but they were also granted a sense of power and strength others couldn't give.
Besides, if you make a mistake, you'll be punished; this was an unchanging rule.
Karkaroff could feel the ugly mark on his arm begin to ache; with the airflow targeting his heart, he almost fainted.
This feeling was not the same as being punished by that person through the imprint… This was… Feedback from the anger of that person - he was making him feel pain even before the punishment! How much despair would he be in during his actual punishment?
Karkaroff opened his eyes in vain and twisted his body almost painfully. The pain from his imprint may not be so strong, but even a valiant adult may not be able to endure the torture from the gods.
He was no longer able to restrain his fear of that person; speculations in his mind about how that person would punish him tumbled in his mind, making him sick and afraid.
"What's wrong with you?" The German Auror hurriedly came forward; his task was to be responsible for the prisoner's security, not to mention, there were instructions from the top for this person to be safely released. If he died in his hands, he'd have to bear the responsibilities.
Karkaroff struggled, his hand that was suppressed on the chair almost breaking its fixture.
"Calm down!" The Auror forcefully grabbed Karkaroff's forearm, trying to press his hands on the sides of the chair. Who would've known that Karkaroff would let out a scream, sounding like a jackal with an overwhelming wound?
The Auror quickly let go of his hands and looked at Harry at a loss.
"Move." Harry's heart shrank fiercely as he strode forwards, forcefully tearing Karkaroff's sleeve.
Under the light, the ugly, squirming pattern was exposed.
That pattern - one Harry had seen countless times.
He fled everywhere; almost everyone who saw him would immediately open their sleeves and press down the pattern with their thumbs, making him feel a burning pain from his scar.
This pattern may have been slightly different from the one from 50 or 60 years later, but it was being repeatedly improved and perfected by that genius and will become more and more similar to its future graphics.
Skeletons and snakes.
Look, another perfect example to prove the stifling proposition 'Fate's plan can never go wrong'. Why? Because this was a game set by Fate, where the rules couldn't be challenged or tampered with.
When the time-traveller relaxes, at the right moment, it would fiercely push the trajectory of history.
Harry felt that all of his strength had been drawn away.
He tried to lift his hand and press down hard on the pattern, to call Tom and confront him, but he didn't even have the strength to lift his hand, much less to deal with the child. No, he wasn't a child anymore.
He grew up…
"What is this?" The Auror curiously wanted to reach out.
"Don't!" Karkaroff screamed, struggling.
"Stop if you don't want to die," Harry warned.
Harry sat down on the chair, Alphonse's coat wrapped tightly around his head, trying to clear his head.
"Your task is to simply find his weakness," Hermione said into his ears, Ron said into his ears, Ginny also said into his ears, even Neville, Luna, Cho Chang… Everyone said so, their voices like flies wrapped around his ears, unable to be shaken off no matter how hard he tried…
It was like hypnosis. He gradually began to waver, his faith collapsed beyond recovery.
That's right, he just needed to find his weakness…
Why did he go all out to try and change him? Why did he have to experience the heartbreak of disappointment and deception?
"Harry, for you to do all this, is it worth it?" Someone once asked him.
Harry buried his head into the coat, the breath from his nose spilling onto the fluff; his oxygen was slowly depleting, causing him to suffocate a little.
For the first time, he began to feel as if… It wasn't worth it.