Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 14 :: Revelations

14 • Revelations

It had been several days and the routine remained the same. Remus had delivered his school supplies a few hours after Dumbledore had left, and since then Harry had been reading for his upcoming classes. He was rarely bothered except to be called down to meals, so he had plenty of time to put his resolution to do better to the test. It did not hurt in the least that he could almost always consult with Tom when he stumbled over something he did not understand, and be assured of a detailed and honest answer.

He was almost finished eating lunch when Dumbledore appeared the second time, and after alerting Tom, Harry gave the headmaster a polite nod and greeting.

“Harry, once you are finished I would like for you to accompany me to Gringotts,” Dumbledore had said, and Harry had finished his meal quickly and allowed himself to be portkeyed to the bank along with several Order members who were told to lounge inconspicuously in the lobby. In the end, Harry found out that he was not all that well off. Not poor, to be sure, but not wealthy by any stretch if the figures that Tom related to him were accurate.

After requesting a certain amount to be withdrawn on the spot—for spending money and presents, he had said—Harry went ahead and apportioned his vault contents by percentage, including a small bequest to the Dursleys which would be converted to muggle currency. Dumbledore had given his approval, and they had portkeyed back to headquarters.

It was then that Dumbledore ushered Harry into the drawing room, and it was then that the headmaster produced the sorting hat, causing Harry’s eyes to widen considerably.

“Do you still wish to talk to it, Harry?”

Harry took a deep breath, then said, “I—yes, sir, I do.” Dumbledore extended the hat on those words and Harry took it from his hands, then sat down on one of the sofas. He took another deep breath—it was not entirely for show—and placed the hat on his head.

:My, my, my.: The hat’s mental voice was very different from Tom’s, and echoed slightly. :What have we here? Oh!:

:What?: he asked, even knowing it was rude.

:Patience, child. I see that a great deal has happened to you since you first put me on, but nothing nearly so interesting as the past few months. I see, yes, how very intriguing.:

Harry frowned and was immediately told, :Nonsense, Potter. And while frowning is not unwarranted under the circumstances, you should strive for a blank, stony countenance. I know exactly why you wished to speak to me and we shall get to that shortly. So, Riddle has found his way to sanity, has he?:

:If you breathe one word of this to the headmaster I will fake a panic attack and land you in the fireplace, hat,: he threatened.

:Such a feisty young man. Riddle, you may as well join the conversation. There is something I believe the two of you ought to know.:

There was a moment of hesitation, then, :I’m here.:

:Splendid! Now, be good children and listen carefully. I contain the will of the founders and am always and forever their servant. But, I am not merely a clever little toy that blindly chooses based on a static list of criteria. And, though my allegiance is to Hogwarts, and by proxy to the current headmaster, I am not so constrained as one might think.:

:What are you getting at?: interrupted Tom.

:That is simple. Dumbledore knows of me what I wish him to know, just as it has been since the death of the founders with every head of the school. If I were only that which I appeared to be, Potter would not have been able to sway my judgment. Curb your impatience, children. All in good time.:

Harry peripherally noticed that Dumbledore had moved to one of the windows and was gazing outside, apparently lost in thought.

:Potter, I have known you were destined for something since before you were born. Yes, the prophecy that Dumbledore finally revealed to you was the start of it as far as I’m concerned, and I see that there has been another, which explains why you, Riddle, are currently enjoying my excellent company. What neither of you are aware of, or should I say sure of, is that there was another prophecy concerning you two. Your suspicions were correct.:

Harry felt a spike of excitement, and could not tell if it was his own or Tom’s. Perhaps it was both.

:The first prophecy introduced the players in this nasty little game. The third prophecy makes it quite plain that you two are soul bonded. I imagine that came as quite a shock, but I see that you two are working things out quite nicely.:

There was a pause, during which Harry got the distinct impression that the hat was indulging in a moment of amusement at their expense.

:The second prophecy, though, was spoken by your mother, Potter.:

:What!?:

:The surface is just that, child. People may enjoy comparing you to your father, but in reality you are far more like Lily than anyone would like to admit. Your bond with Riddle is not entirely responsible for your ability to experience things from his point of view. But, I digress. She came to the school one day not long after your birth to speak to Dumbledore on some matter or other, and left some time after none the wiser for the prophecy she had spoken. He never told her.:

There was another pause, then the hat said, :Dumbledore gleaned from that that you, Potter, were the only one capable of killing Voldemort, and that you in turn would die as a result. Should you fail, Voldemort would be immortal—or so he thinks. You may have realized from the two you knew of that each of them lacks a certain part of the whole.:

:I see.: Even in his mind Harry thought his voice sounded tight.

:Yes, I see that you do. He has been grooming you for that moment, with only a few lapses into maudlin concern.:

:The end justifies the means.:

:Naturally, Potter. But, of course, he is totally unaware of the third prophecy.:

:And if he was?: Tom asked.

:My honest opinion would be that he would not take the risk. You would, if you were wise, keep in mind that Dumbledore defeated the dark lord Grindelwald, and that accomplishment influences his decisions. He will not turn from his plans, I believe, because they represent the safest path for him. He believes that because he was right then, he remains right in his assessment of this situation. I truly believe that knowledge of the third prophecy would not sway him from his present course, though you are free to disagree if you wish.:

Harry frowned again and bit his lip. :You know, I really appreciate that you’re telling us all this, but . . . why?:

:Because I know what he does not, and with more surety than he could ever hope to have. The founders were very thorough, and you both share their blood. It is my duty and privilege to assist you in any way that I can.:

:All right, so our suspicions are confirmed. You know a hell of a lot more than you ever let on, and Dumbledore is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,: Tom stated.

:But, what now?: Harry asked, then realized part of the answer to that almost immediately. :Ah, I guess I don’t have much of a choice, then, do I?:

:I’m sorry, Harry, that another choice has been taken from you.:

:It’s all right, Tom. I knew it was a possibility.:

:Now that that is settled, let us move along to the original excuse, shall we?:

Harry had nearly forgotten, but was distracted almost immediately. :Wait a minute! We both share blood of the founders?:

:How else do you think you were able to wield Godric’s sword?: The hat’s tone was that of an adult explaining something to a very simple child. Harry’s thoughts stuttered around in a limping circle until the hat said, :I had my reasons for wishing to place you in Slytherin, Potter. Salazar would have been quite pleased with one such as you. Time and experience has simply made that ever more apparent. I also see that you have considered that I may attempt to re-sort you.:

:It would be like you,: Harry thought, :but surely you’ve considered how Dumbledore would react should you try.:

Laughter rang through his head. :The headmaster warned me of your not-quite request, Potter, and told me that he would not interfere with my decision.:

:Holy—:

:That answers that question.:

:Indeed it does. However, I leave the choice to you, Potter.:

Harry carefully considered his options. The safe path would be to remain where he was, though there was no true guarantee that there weren’t advocates of Voldemort lurking in his present house. Staying would also mean that he would not have to face the question of his friends’ loyalty. Choosing to enter the serpent’s den meant that his safety was much more at risk.

Dumbledore didn’t care, though. Why? Set a thief to catch a thief? The headmaster must be very, very sure of his interim safety were he to enter that place. Or was it that Dumbledore was hoping that the Slytherin students who followed Voldemort would be the unwitting means of deliverance? Aside from knowing the truth of his friends’ feelings, that was something to consider for the larger view.

He was mildly surprised that neither the hat nor Tom had spoken, then realized that for once, the choice really was entirely his own. How much did the desire to know the truth about his friends balance his fear of stepping willingly into the unknown? Did his fear on both accounts make him a coward, or merely cautious? He was going to have to leave them eventually, regardless. Was it not better to find out now how they would react, or should he hold onto them in ignorance for as long as he could? Truth, or potential lies?

:Slytherin,: he thought.

:So be it,: responded the hat. :But, before I announce that, you should prepare for your presumed reaction, child.:

:Wait.: It was Tom. :Dumbledore will surely ask about this decision. What will you tell him?:

:That is easy, child. I shall regurgitate back unto him his own opinion. He talks to himself quite a bit, you know, and that reveals much. I simply need to use my own choice of wording.:

Tom said something more, but Harry was no longer listening. He thought he had prepared himself for this eventuality, but he had only been fooling himself. Dumbledore had never cared, and all his genial smiles and understanding looks were nothing more than glittering lies. The person he had looked up to and trusted since the day Hagrid had come for him was nothing more than a sugar-coated death knell.

The hat being lifted from his head snapped him back to attention and he blinked rapidly, raising his eyes to see Dumbledore standing before him. “I will call in Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape to inform them of these events.”

Harry simply stared.

“Harry, I think perhaps you might benefit from a nap,” Dumbledore said gently.

Harry rose without a word and left, trudging to his room and inside. Once the door was closed he stretched out on the bed, knowing that for the first time in as long as he could remember, he was dangerously close to shedding tears.

:Harry, I wish that I could be there with you right now.:

He let out something between laughter and a dry sob, the sound muffled against his pillow. :I guess preparation for the announcement wasn’t something I needed to worry about.:

:Sleep, Harry, sleep.: He was more strung out than tired, but Tom’s voice was terribly persuasive. The word echoed through his mind, over and over, until eventually, he did.

*

He saw the chairs, the sofa, the rug, and even the fireplace. But those things did not concern him. What did was the mockup of Dumbledore that appeared in response to his thoughts. He slapped his wrist against his hip, taking hold of his wand a split second later, then slammed the figure with a well placed and powerful blasting curse followed by every spell of destruction he could think of, replacing the figure as necessary.

He was seriously considering what the effects of the Cruciatus Curse would be as he shouted, “I hate you,” when he felt arms wrap around him from behind and pull him close.

“Hate isn’t any kind of an answer, Harry. I would know.”

He slumped slightly in the embrace and glared at the blackened figure. “I know that.”

The grip on him tightened, and then Tom said, “I thought you wanted a dartboard? I was considering getting you one for Christmas, but. . . .”

Harry snorted and shot one last spell at the figure, obliterating it. “You just aren’t going to let me stay mad, are you.”

“Not if I can help it. Hate is a seductive thing, Harry, and I’d rather you didn’t choose to become what I was. However, I would never stop you from honing your skills on a Dumbledore target if that’s all it was.”

“You’re a strange man,” he said, dropping his gaze so he could holster his wand.

“This, coming from you?” Tom chuckled and brushed his lips against Harry’s neck, then turned him in his arms. “I know you feel angry, even betrayed, but I didn’t coax you to sleep so you could wreak havoc on our place.”

“What did you want me to do? Cry in your arms like a child?” Harry knew he was being a touch unreasonable, and that judgment was obviously shared by Tom given the flicker of impatience that crossed his face.

“I don’t think that’s something you would allow yourself except under extreme duress, but if you did, I would not turn you away.” Tom began stepping backward, pulling Harry along with him, then loosened his grip entirely as he sat down on the sofa.

Harry gave a slight sigh, then took the implied offer, straddling Tom and wrapping his arms around the man’s neck and resting his head on his shoulder.

“You can sleep if you want. I’ll stay awake.” And then he began to describe how he had felt when he first learned the truth about his father, speaking softly. Somewhere along the way, Harry drifted off, secure in Tom’s embrace.

*

Someone was shaking his shoulder. Harry rose up from the depths of sleep to disorientation and confusion, wondering who was disturbing his refuge from recent knowledge.

“Harry, come on. Wake up.”

He rolled over and yawned, then opened his eyes sleepily, trying to focus without much success on who was looming over him, though the shock of red gave him a very good idea of the culprit.

“Here.”

He felt something being pressed into his hand—his glasses. After rubbing his eyes with his free hand and slipping them on Harry looked at one of his best friends. “Ron.”

“Finally. I’ve been trying to wake you for ten minutes.”

He sat up and turned, scooting back so he could brace himself against the wall. “Are you all right?”

“Sorry?” Ron scratched his forehead in a gesture that might have been confusion.

“No one has told me anything. I mean, you seemed fine, but, that brain. . . .” He trailed off when he realized that Ron was avoiding his eyes. “They told you.” When Ron simply nodded Harry sighed heavily. “They didn’t tell me if any of you were coming, either. I guess you’re here now because of what happened.”

“It was kinda sudden.”

“So are you? All right?”

“I’m fine. Are you?”

Harry blinked and eyed Ron suspiciously. “Not really. I think I’m still in shock.”

:Nice twist on the truth, Harry.:

“Nothing was explained,” Ron said slowly, then, “Why did you want to talk to it?”

:He’s taking this awfully calmly. I think this is more frightening than if he was just yelling at me.: To Ron he said, “When I was first sorted, the hat wanted me in Slytherin. I’ve never been able to let that go, and it’s always scared me.”

:Are you sure it’s actually him?:

“Then why now?”

“Sirius,” Harry said. “I’m not sorry I talked to it. I had to know why.”

“How am I supposed to feel?” asked Ron, causing Harry to suffer some confusion. Where was the yelling? The accusations? The tantrums over the supposed betrayal of his best friend?

“I don’t know,” he said honestly. “That’s up to you.”

Ron shook his head and said, “It’s time for dinner,” then turned and left.

:I don’t know what to think.:

:What did you mean by the brain?: Tom asked.

:In the Department of Mysteries.: Harry briefly explained what had happened to Ron that night.

:It may have affected your friend in ways that not even he is fully aware of, Harry. Or, he could be an imposter sent in to see if you’ll reveal something.:

:I guess I better get down there. I don’t want anyone to come looking for me.: Harry slid off the bed and headed downstairs, pausing when he entered the kitchen.

Mrs Weasley turned at his arrival and smiled broadly, hurrying over to smother him in a hug. “Harry, dear! How lovely to see you again. Now you just sit right down. I know you must be starving.” She let go and bustled off toward the table to fuss over the platters of food.

:Are you sure I’m not dreaming?:

:She’s nervous, Harry. She may be worried about what happened, or worried that you’ll retreat. It’s hard to say.:

Harry took a seat and loaded his plate, though he wasn’t sure he could do justice to what he had taken. Ron, who had been missing, arrived a minute later and slid into a seat next to him to load up his own plate.

“Harry, you already have your supplies?” asked Mrs Weasley.

“Er, yes. Remus picked them up for me a couple of days ago. I’d already finished my holiday work so I’ve been reading ahead.”

Ron gave him a sidelong look that Harry couldn’t interpret. It became more or less clear, though, when Ron muttered, “You sound like Hermione.”

Harry cracked a slight smile and continued to eat. :At least that sounded normal.:

:Well, aside from asking him some odd questions. . . .:

Remus arrived and took a seat, followed a few minutes later by Tonks. Conversation was rather stilted, and Harry made the assumption that it had everything to do with his change of house. He was almost done eating when Snape swept in wearing a foreboding expression.

“Potter, report to the drawing room when you’re finished. And don’t keep me waiting,” he ordered, then swept back out.

Harry bit his lip. He had to wonder if Dumbledore was handling things this way in order to make him feel lost and increase his dependency on the man. Throwing both Ron and Snape at him the same day was a bit much. He set down his silverware and rose, taking a moment to glance at Remus. After getting a faint smile, he turned and headed for the drawing room.

“Sit,” he was told curtly, so he did. “You, Potter, are a nightmare, and I eagerly await the moment when I wake up. Until that time, I’m going to establish some ground rules. You will do nothing to bring shame to the house of Slytherin or I will make sure you regret it. I find myself in a unique position as your head of house, and be sure that I will capitalize on that.”

Harry remained silent, though he found it interesting that Snape was leaning against the wall right next to a portrait. He wondered how much of Snape’s harshness was for someone else’s benefit.

:That is likely, to some extent.:

“Being an upperclassman you will be in a room of your own. Though, being the headmaster’s pet, I am quite sure that would have been arranged regardless. Do not expect that you will be welcomed onto the quidditch team with open arms. With you no longer on the Gryffindor team, they may be content to leave things as they are. You will be taking lessons with me twice a week in the evenings, and I expect that you will cease with your childish disregard for authority and necessity and do something other than waste my time.

“And, as I would not be surprised if those people you call friends deserted you over this, I am confident that you will attend more closely to your studies rather than losing your new house points at every opportunity with your previous reckless behavior and disrespect. I will not coddle you. If you have any troubles with your new housemates, you will deal with it on your own. Are we clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very good. I expect you to do your utmost to make me forget you even exist, Potter. The less I see of you the better, and the fewer headaches I shall have to endure.”

Harry thought that was fairly harsh, though in character for the man. :I don’t suppose you’ll be asking him what Dumbledore said?:

:I will, rest assured. I am also curious as to how much of this is playacting and how much is just Severus being himself.:

Snape seemed to be waiting for some kind of a response, so Harry repeated, “Yes, sir.”

Snape sneered and swept off, leaving Harry by himself. :If it weren’t for you, I think I might be feeling effectively cowed at the moment.:

:Now, Harry. You’re forgetting resentful, humiliated, angry, despairing—:

:Shut up.:

A sense of amusement, then, :I’ll signal him in a little while, Harry. I’m not sure if he realizes yet that we can speak mind to mind, so I don’t want the timing to be too close.:

:He may come straight to you.:

:That would be even better. So what now?:

:I guess I go back to my room and see what happens.: Harry suited actions to words and went to his bedroom. Ron was already there, stretched out on the other bed, so Harry sat on his own and waited.

“What did he want?” Ron asked.

“To tell me what a miserable, inconvenient brat I am, and to advise me to keep out of his way so he doesn’t have to deal with me. My Occlumency lessons are back on as well.”

“I don’t like this.”

“This?” Harry glanced over, but Ron was staring at the wall.

“I don’t know what to say to you.”

Harry deliberated his next words carefully, wondering if he should just let Ron find his own way, then said slowly, “Ron, the hat always wanted me in Slytherin, and now it has its wish because I couldn’t leave well enough alone. But, that means I’ve always had those qualities, whatever it is that Salazar valued. I’m not trying to convince you of anything, but I do think you might want to consider that.”

Ron replied immediately, surprising him. “You’re saying you haven’t changed.”

“I suppose so, though it may end up looking that way.”

Silence stretched into minutes before Ron said, “Are we still friends?”

“That’s up to you.”

Ron grunted and stood, then changed into his pajamas and hopped under the covers of his bed.

“You’re staying?”

“Mum already left. She’ll be back in a few days,” Ron said, then rolled over to face the wall.

Taking that as a firm end to the sketchy conversation, Harry also changed, then doused the lights and got into bed, lying awake for a long time before he finally fell asleep.