Neville stuffed his wand in his pocket and stepped to the Floo, grumbling, “Tell me again why we couldn’t just tell Luna to set fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement.”
Harry shook his head. “I have to do this myself. I don’t know why.”
“Well, that explains it,” Hermione muttered. Harry shot her a look and she shrugged.
Snape strode into the room, his leg thankfully healed. He fit into Sirius’s robes rather decently, but the red and gold rings around the cuffs didn’t suit him. Snape had found a cloak, but it wasn’t the same as the billowing one he usually wore, now riddled with burn holes.
“Have you worked everything out?” Harry asked him.
Snape nodded once. “Minerva has assured me that we can Floo safely to her office. It seems that Dumbledore did not leave her without a few tricks.”
Harry nodded. “And once we get there?”
“We head straight to the Room of Requirement to destroy the Diade-”
Snape cut himself off and stiffened, just as a pain shot through Harry’s scar.
“What is it?” Hermione asked in concern.
“He knows,” Harry replied. “He knows where we’re going and he’s coming. We have to go. NOW.”
Harry grabbed some Floo powder from the bowl and tossed it down. “Hogwarts, McGonagall’s office.”
He was whisked away and deposited in the Headmistress’s office, the one he remembered as Dumbledore’s. Professor McGonagall was waiting for him.
“It is good to see you, Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said with a slight smile. “I understand you are in need of something in this castle?”
The Floo flared and Snape stepped through.
“Well, more in need of destroying it,” Harry replied.
McGonagall nodded, then looked at Snape. “Severus,” she said coldly.
“Minerva,” Snape replied in kind.
Harry looked between the two of them as the Floo deposited Hermione. “Hang on, did you explain anything to her?” he asked Snape.
“There was no time.”
Harry looked to McGonagall. “He’s not really responsible for killing Dumbledore.”
“Oh?” she asked, almost disinterested.
“Yeah, Hermione can explain,” Harry said. “Come on, Severus, we have to go.”
Snape nodded and turned to go.
“Wait!” Hermione said, starting forward. “Here. You’ll need a wand.” She tossed a short, dark wand at Snape.
Snape caught it and stared at it blankly for a moment. “Is this yours?”
“No, of course not,” Hermione said. She hesitated and continued quietly, “It was Charlie’s.”
Snape blinked at it. “Thank you. I believe I will put it to good use.”
Hermione nodded as he and Harry left. “This way,” Harry said, leading the way up the stairs to the seventh floor.
It was late and the corridors were empty so far. In fact, they stayed that way almost until they reached the seventh floor. Rounding a corner, Harry came to an abrupt halt, but it was too late. He felt Snape come up behind him.
Amycus Carrow stood in the middle of the hallway, facing them and grinning.
“Well, what do we have here?” he said playfully. “Expelliarmus.”
Harry’s wand flew from his hand, as did Snape’s. “You never struck me as the teaching type, Amycus,” Snape said in a monotone.
“Neither did you,” he replied. “What you did strike me as was the traitor type. Looks like I was right. Did you feel the burn a little while ago, Severus?” Amycus asked with a strange sort of relish. “That was the signal. He’s coming.”
“Let him,” Harry said boldly.
Amycus smiled. “Anxious to meet your death, are you, Potter?”
“It won’t be my death that’ll be met.”
“Cocky, too, how refreshing,” he said, twirling his wand between his fingers. “In any case, I’m not about to take any chances. I think it will be best if I incapacitate you unti-”
“Stupefy!” a girl’s voice shouted. Amycus stiffened and fell, unconscious, all three wands spilling from his fingers.
“Ginny,” Harry said in surprise and relief.
Ginny came trotting over as Snape scooped up the wands and used one to tie Amycus up with vines.
“Hermione used the coins,” she explained before Harry had a chance to ask. “I’m glad to see you.”
“Believe me, I’m glad to see you, too,” Harry replied with a grin. “Thanks for that, but we really have to go. Wake the rest of the DA; we think Voldemort’s coming to Hogwarts.”
Ginny’s eyes widened. “Is he-”
A grim nod from Harry cut her off.
“I will,” she promised. “Go.”
Harry didn’t need to be told twice. He and Snape sprinted down the corridor, coming to a halt in front of the wall in which the Room of Requirement’s door materialized. Harry pushed it open, hoping that he was correct in asking it for the “room in which the diadem was hidden”.
Stepping inside, Harry found piles and piles of...garbage. Well, perhaps not garbage, but junk. There were old chairs, books, statues, clothes, toys...everything imaginable.
“How are we going to find the Diadem in all of this?” Harry breathed.
“Who says we need to find it?” Snape said. “We can just torch the whole room and hope it stays contained.”
“Sounds good to me,” Harry replied, backing towards the door.
“Harry, wait,” Snape said, placing a hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“What?” Harry asked. “We don’t have much time...”
Snape looked grim. “I know. I just...” he trailed off, shaking his head.
Harry had never seen Snape at a loss for words before. It was unsettling to say the least. “What?” he prompted.
When Snape looked back up, he held a pained expression. “There is something I didn’t tell you. Something Dumbledore told me.”
Harry waited for him to continue, a knot of worry forming in his stomach.
Snape swallowed hard. “He thought- I think... You are a horcrux, Harry. When the killing curse rebounded, we think it chipped off a piece of Voldemort’s soul. It explains your scar, the parseltongue, the visions.”
For a moment, Harry drew a blank. His mind raced. “So if I’m a Horcrux...”
“You have to die,” Snape muttered. “Or Voldemort cannot.”
Harry blinked, feeling his stomach sink. There was momentary panic, then a sudden calmness. Harry didn’t have to worry about destroying Voldemort anymore. He just had to die. Suddenly, it seemed almost easy.
Snape’s dark eyes turned on Harry. “I am sorry.”
Harry nodded, gulping. “Yeah,” he said, all he could manage. “Should I just stand here and get engulfed by fiendfyre, then?” he said a bit bitterly.
Severus shook his head. “Dumbledore was adamant that it be by Voldemort’s hand. The prophecy. I’m sorry,” he repeated.
Harry nodded numbly. “Just torch the room, then.”
“You ought to cast it,” Snape said. “I don’t know what effect using an unfamiliar wand will have.”
Harry nodded. Drawing in a deep breath, he cast it, cutting it off promptly, before it grew too strong. Fire engulfed the room, spreading with astonishing speed. Harry and Snape hurried out quickly, closing the door behind them. Without thinking, Harry pressed his hand to his throbbing scar.
“It’s gone. It’s destroyed,” Harry muttered with utter certainty.
“Just in time,” Snape breathed, looking down the hallway.
Harry spun in the direction Snape was looking and his blood chilled. Voldemort himself came striding down the hallway flanked by Bellatrix Lestrange, Lucius Malfoy and a whole host of other Death Eaters. Voldemort smiled a gruesome smile.
“My, what a pleasure,” he said as his pet snake curled around his feet. “Surprised to see me?”
Neither Snape nor Harry answered. Just looking at Voldemort, the person against whom he had been fighting so hard, made Harry’s skin crawl. It seemed like utter failure to allow himself to be killed by such a vile person. Harry only hoped that he would meet his end not far after.
“I didn’t want anyone to get in our way and give you a chance to...run,” Voldemrot said to Harry, “so I simply put the castle to sleep. And just like that, here I am. Expelliarmus.”
Harry and Snape’s wands flew from their hands.
“Here you are,” Snape agreed, remarkably cool. Harry’s heart raced. Snape turned to Bellatrix, “Bella, nice to see you. Looking just as lovely as you always have.”
A bright red burn stretched from Bellatrix’s forehead to curl across her cheek and down her neck. Half her head of hair was chopped off, ragged, frizzy and probably burnt. She looked downright murderous.
“I’ll kill you fo-”
“Bella, please,” Voldemort interrupted. “Save it for after we’ve killed the boy. He won’t escape this time.”
Harry gulped. “Kill me then. Just let everyone else go.”
“Always the hero,” Voldemort said with a sneer.
Voldemort raised his wand and Harry had to resist the urge to duck, to run, to fight back however he could. Still, something about this felt right. It was almost the same feeling of assurance that the spell which bound Harry to get revenge on Snape gave him when he was following its plan, whatever that was. Harry was by no means ready to die, but he couldn’t see himself doing anything but that at the present moment.
There was a flash of green and then nothing.
AN: Short chapter, sorry guys. And I apologize that it has been an eternity since I've updated this, but...well it's sort of at an odd point. I tried not to make it feel rushed, but I felt that this chapter was a necessary evil. Anything else I could add would be meaningless. The next chapter (possibly the final one) is going to be the more impactful one. Remember, you have until June 30th to vote in the Writing Games, if you haven't already!! It's only one little comment, but it means a lot to me. Thanks :)