This fanfic, although it is set after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, only contains slight spoilers for the first two Harry Potter books. Pretty much, I assume that you have some knowledge of the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and all characters contained within this story are the property of J.K. Rowling and her publishing company. I am making no money off of this story, and wrote it purely for entertainment purposes. Do not repost anywhere without the permission of the author!
Episode 2: The Moment of Truth
Kelly M. Grosskreutz
It was a couple of weeks later, and Harry was sitting alone in the dormitory. Everyone else was at Hogsmeade enjoying the beautiful spring day, but he didn't feel much like socializing lately. The sun was bright and warm, but it could do nothing to brighten up or warm Harry's spirits.
He still couldn't believe that he was Voldemort's grandson. He didn't want to believe it. How could he be related to the most vile wizard that had ever lived?
He had many questions, but no answers appeared to be forthcoming. When he had come back to Hogwarts two weeks ago, he was in really bad shape. Hermione helped him off of the broom, and Professor McGonagall had immediately whisked him up to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey had been able to grow back his hand, but she could do nothing for the ache in his heart.
He spent a week in the hospital wing, but Dumbledore did not come to see him. When he asked Professor McGonagall if he could talk to him, she said that he'd been called away from Hogwarts. It seemed that some of the Death Eaters had tortured and murdered every Muggle in a little village about fifty kilometers from London. It was unknown when he would return.
Harry told Ron and Hermione everything that had happened except for Voldemort's revelation. He wasn't exactly sure how they would take the news. Even more so, he just didn't want to talk about it. No, this was something he had to think about on his own first. Was it true? If so, would this change anything? And why didn't Dumbledore ever tell him?
The sun gradually set. Ron came up to the dormitory and made Harry come downstairs to eat. He sat and listened as Ron and Hermione told him about the wonderful day they'd had at Hogsmeade, the wizard's village located nearby.
"You really should have come, Harry," Ron was saying. "You missed seeing Professor Flitwick kiss Professor Sprout."
"He did?" Harry asked, trying to sound interested for Ron's sake. Under other circumstances, he would've been interested for real.
"Yes, he did, right on the cheek. You should've seen her blush!"
The image did bring a little smile to Harry's face, but it didn't last long. The uncertainty and despair came back to drive away the happy thought.
"You just have to come with us next time, Harry," Ron continued. "It's just not the same without you there."
Harry muttered, "We'll see. Maybe next time."
Hermione rested a hand gently on his shoulder. "Harry, you can't hide here forever. Moping like this isn't going to help."
Ron looked helplessly at Harry. "You've been face to face with You Know Who before. I've never seen you act like this. I haven't pressed you before because I figured you'd tell us what was wrong when you were ready, but I can't sit here anymore and watch you tear yourself apart without doing anything. Please, Harry, talk to us."
Hermione nodded. "We're your friends, Harry. If you can talk to anyone, you can talk to us."
Harry, who'd been staring at the table while they were talking, let out a great shudder. A moment later, he raised his head and looked at them.
"It's not that I don't trust you guys," he began, slowly and quietly, "but I just don't know how to talk about it. I know I should, though."
"Yes, you should," Hermione said adamantly.
He paused for another moment, then quietly said, "I feel like I've got a dementor always around me. Like I'll never be happy again, and everything's hopeless."
Harry stopped talking. He just sat with his head bowed. Ron and Hermione waited patiently for a minute or so, then Ron blurted out, "What happened to you in that place, Harry? What did Voldemort say to you?"
Harry opened his mouth to speak but, just then, Hagrid burst into the Great Hall and ran straight for Harry. His face was white, his eyes wide. "Harry!" he exclaimed, panting for breath. "You've got ter come wi' me! Right away!"
"What's wrong, Hagrid?" Harry asked, truly concerned. He'd never seen Hagrid look this afraid before. For it was fear that was plastered on Hagrid's face. Fear, but yet, not just fear. There was something else in Hagrid's eyes.
Hagrid took a shuddering breath. "It's Dumbledore, Harry," he panted. "He's back, and he's askin' ter see yeh. Yeh've got ter come, quick."
Harry heard Hermione gasp, saw Ron's mouth drop open in shock, but it only registered in the back of his mind. He got up quickly and followed Hagrid from the room.
They hurried to the hospital wing. Hagrid was walking at such a fast pace the whole way that Harry had to run just to keep up. He was working so hard at doing this that he almost didn't notice when Hagrid stopped outside of the hospital wing doors, and he stopped himself from running into Hagrid's back just in time.
Hagrid turned to face Harry and knelt down next to him, putting himself at eye-level with Harry. "I think I should tell yeh a few things before yeh go in there, Harry," Hagrid said quietly.
Harry asked, "Professor Dumbledore's hurt, isn't he, Hagrid?"
Hagrid nodded, but didn't say anything. He didn't need to.
"He's not going to make it, isn't he." It wasn't a question.
Hagrid fought back tears. He appeared to be having problems winning the fight. Little escapees were trickling down his face. He shook his head sorrowfully. "No, Harry, he's hurt too bad."
"What happened? How could this have happened?" Harry blurted out, in tears now.
Hagrid patted him on the shoulder. "That's a long story, and there's no' time to tell it to yeh now. Yeh've got t' go in and talk t' Dumbledore. Now, dry yer eyes. Be strong, fer Dumbledore's sake. Save them fer after he's gone."
Harry wiped his eyes and blew his nose on a handkerchief that Hagrid lent him. Hagrid gave him another moment to pull himself together, then he quietly opened the door and motioned for Harry to go inside.
Harry had been in the hospital wing quite a few times since he'd first come to school at Hogwarts, but he'd never seen it like this, not even after Cedric Diggory had died. Flitwick and Sprout sat together, holding each other's hands, looking like two little kids scared of the dark. Both had tears streaming down their face. Other professors were huddled together in little groups, talking quietly, casting glances at a curtain that surrounded the bed in the far corner. Madam Pomfrey stood outside of the curtain, on guard. At first glance, it looked like everyone was there, but Harry noticed some notable absences. Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Professor McGonagall, Professor Moody, and Professor Snape were all missing.
Harry's gut was already churning, but his heart leaped into his throat at noticing Sirius and Lupin were missing. They, along with Moody, had accompanied Professor Dumbledore on his ill-fated mission. He didn't want to think the worst had happened, but their absence struck an ominous chord within Harry.
On the other hand, Harry was not in the least bit surprised that Professor Snape was not there. Snape had disappeared over two weeks ago. That in itself was not unusual. Since Voldemort had come back onto the scene, Snape had taken to leaving Hogwarts for short periods of time. But he'd never been gone for this long, and rumors were starting to fly around the school about his absence. Harry didn't know where Snape was, but he had a bad feeling about it.
As for McGonagall...just as he'd begun to wonder what had become of her, she emerged from behind the curtains surrounding the bed in the corner. Her shoulders were bowed as if a great weight rested upon them, but her head was high, and there was not a tear in her eye as she looked at Harry and motioned him over.
"He's ready to see you, Harry," she said, giving him a little squeeze on his shoulder. Madam Pomfrey didn't say anything, just held aside the curtain just enough to let him pass.
Albus Dumbledore smiled up at Harry as he approached the bed. Harry was shocked at his appearance, but did his best not to show it. Hagrid was right. Dumbledore didn't need to see grief and despair in his final hour.
"Harry," Dumbledore said, his voice only a little softer than normal. His eyes twinkled as he looked upon Harry, but there was pain in them as well. Harry kept his eyes on Dumbledore's face, determined not to look down at his waist, where the bedsheets were slowly turning red.
"You asked to see me?"
"Yes, Harry, I did. I haven't had a chance to talk to you since your latest encounter with Voldemort."
Voldemort. His grandfather. The last few minutes had driven that completely out of his mind, but now it came flooding back. He opened his mouth to ask Dumbledore the questions that had been plaguing him since his return, but something in him told him to stop and let Dumbledore speak first.
Dumbledore smiled gently up at Harry. "Professor McGonagall has told me about that meeting. Both from what she said and from looking at you, I can tell that there are some things you'd like to talk about."
Harry felt he should be surprised that Dumbledore had divined his thoughts so easily, but he was beginning to not be surprised at anything having to do with Dumbledore. Anything, except ... but now was not the time to dwell on that. Harry nodded his head.
Dumbledore's face grew serious. "Yes, I thought as much. Well, then, go ahead and ask me your question."
Harry swallowed and took a deep breath. This was the moment he had been both anticipating and dreading ever since he had been rescued by Hermione. "Professor, when I last saw Voldemort, he said some things. I'm not sure whether or not I should believe them." He paused, gathering his courage, then blurted out in a rush, "Professor, is Voldemort my grandfather?"
Dumbledore let out a sigh, as if something he had been dreading had come to pass. "Yes, Harry. He is your grandfather."
Harry bowed his head a moment to let the revelation settle in his mind. So, it was true. Voldemort hadn't been lying. Somehow, he hadn't thought so, but he'd been hoping ...
Harry opened his mouth, but Dumbledore spoke before the question left his lips. "Why weren't you told?" Harry nodded. "What good would it have done to have told you?"
"Well," stammered Harry, having never thought of this, "if he is my grandfather, don't I have a right to know?"
Dumbledore nodded, then grimaced in pain. The grimace disappeared as quickly as it had come, though. "Yes, Harry, you're right. You did have a right to know. I guess I was just being an old man and trying to protect you."
"Protect me?" Harry didn't understand that. What did he mean, protect him?
"I was afraid that this knowledge would devastate you, demoralize you." A look passed across Harry's face briefly. Dumbledore smiled gently and murmured, "I wasn't completely wrong, was I?"
Harry gave voice to his greatest fear. "I just don't know what to make of it. I've heard so many good things about my mother and my father, then I find out that my grandfather is none other than the most vile wizard that has ever walked the world. And then I have to ask myself, could I be like that? What are the chances of me turning into another Voldemort?"
Harry's heart was now in his throat. What if Dumbledore said he was doomed, that he had a good chance of turning out evil? What would he do?
"Harry, do you remember when you questioned me about whether the Sorting Hat had done right in putting you in Gryffindor?" Harry nodded. "Do you remember what I said then?"
"You told me that it was our choices that show who we truly are, not our abilities."
"That's right, Harry. That bit of wisdom also applies for bloodlines. Your father was also Voldemort's son, but he chose to stand against him. You can also choose to do the same."
A weight lifted from Harry's heart. "I do choose to stand against him, Professor. But how am I supposed to fight him? He seems to be able to defeat anyone, even ..." He stopped, his voice choked off by tears he could no longer fully hold back.
"Even me?" Dumbledore finished quietly. "Harry, I want you to understand something. Voldemort thinks that this war will be won by the most powerful wizard. I, too, once believed that. I believe now that that's why we were at a standstill in the last war. But Voldemort was not stopped last time through great feats of magical power. He was stopped by a power greater than any magical spell, the power of your mother's love for you.
"Yes, Harry, love. One of the most beautiful, positive emotions that can be known to mankind. This war, as well, will not be won by flinging powerful magical spells at each other. This war will be won by people with love in their hearts. Love, and coupled with that, faith.
"Your mother loved you enough to die for you. Your love for your friends and concern for your fellow students has given you the strength to face things that would make many an adult run away in fear. Your willingness to trust in me saved you from Voldemort at least once."
Dumbledore sighed and, as he continued to speak, Harry noticed his voice was getting weaker. "I won't lie to you, Harry. If you truly want to defeat Voldemort, the road will not be easy. Many more will suffer and die unless a few have the courage and the heart to act. But, if this war is ever to end, you must confront Voldemort one last time."
Harry shuddered. Dumbledore's eyes saw this and filled with sorrow. "I'm sorry that you will have to do this," he continued, his voice weaker yet. "The only thing I can say in reassurance is that I believe that you can do this. I do want you to keep in mind, though, that if ever you do need help, you can call on Severus Snape."
"Snape?!" Harry exclaimed. "But he's one of them! A Death Eater. He's gone back over to their side! And you tell me that I can trust him?
"Don't believe everything you hear," Dumbledore said firmly. "And you will hear quite a bit about Snape before this thing is through. You will find it even harder to trust him, yet trust him you must. It could be the one thing that will save you and enable this war to finally end."
Harry felt his stomach drop just a bit lower than where it had been before. Trust Snape? Why should he? The man hated him! Okay, so he had thought once before that Snape was trying to kill him when he'd actually been trying to save his life, but that was years ago. Surely the debt that Snape felt he owed to James Potter couldn't still be hanging over his head?
"I don't know if I can trust him, Professor," Harry said truthfully.
"Then Voldemort has already won," sighed Dumbledore sadly. It was getting harder and harder to hear him. "It is true that Snape is back with the Death Eaters but, to be honest, I'm not sure he truly knows which side he's on. But I know. I have faith in him, and I'm asking you to have faith in him, too. Try not to let your dislike of him cloud your thinking on this, for this is too important to let petty hatreds blind you."
Harry couldn't help but mutter beneath his breath, "Tell that one to Snape."
"Harry," breathed Dumbledore. Harry had to put his ear down by Dumbledore's mouth to hear him now. "There ... is ... another ... Pott ... err ..." His voice dwindled down to a barely heard whisper at the end of that sentence. Then, Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorceror, Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, member of the International Confederation of Wizards, and chief opposer of Lord Voldemort, closed his eyes and died.
Harry, stunned by all he had heard, could only bow his head.
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