So sorry for the delay! This one was a bit harder than I thought it'd be XD I was really excited for it when I started writing this fic, but after the Snape chapter I was more in the mood for comedy than angst, so I had some trouble XD Might go back and edit it one of these days when I'm an angsty mood, haha!
Thank you again for all your lovely, encouraging comments! As always, I'd appreciate if you could leave some more! You guys are truly what's keeping this fic going!
"Get away, bird," Riddle's voice erupted. "Get away from him. I said, get away!"
Harry raised his head to see Riddle pointing Harry's wand at Fawkes; there was a bang like a gun and Fawkes fell writhing to the chamber floor in a burst of gold and scarlet.
"No…Fawkes…" Harry murmured.
"Phoenix tears…" Riddle murmured, staring at Harry's arm. "Of course…healing powers….I forgot…"
His dark gaze burrowed into Harry's. "But it makes no difference. In fact, I prefer it this way. Just you and me. Harry Potter…you and me…"
He raised his wand.
Then, without warning—or seemingly reason—Riddle paused, and began to cry out in pain.
Harry blinked. He wasn't sure if he was dreaming, just seeing things. Before his foggy eyes the specter of Tom Riddle began flickering in and out like a television in a lightning storm.
He fell to his knees. "What is this?!" Riddle demanded of the empty air. "What is—ah!—What is happening to me?!"
Seeing he had a moment, Harry got up, going over to check on Fawkes. Relief washed him as he saw he was already beginning to get back up.
He ran over to Ginny now, hoping to see signs of her waking as Riddle disappeared.
Riddle tried to crawl towards him, pointing his wand at him, but his arm fell limp and he rested his elbows on the ground, he looked at him, his eyes alight with rage—Harry swore he saw a red glint there. "Did you do this to me?!" he hissed at Harry, like a snake rearing up.
"I didn't do anything!"
What was happening to him? As far as Harry knew, he hadn't done anything to him. Had he cursed him without knowing it? Was it something to do with the Basilisk?
Was he dying, or fading away? Harry hoped so, but he had no idea how. Whatever it was, he didn't do it…and whatever it was, he wasn't going to complain.
Ginny was indeed twitching…yet the moment he arrived at her side he got a very bad feeling. She wasn't twitching as if waking from a bad dream, her eyelids fluttered, as if they were forced shut, as if she was trapped in a nightmare, unable to wake herself, or scream.
Riddle rolled onto his back on the chamber floor, writhing in pain, crying louder than before. But to his horror, when Harry looked over at him he saw he wasn't getting less solid.
All that hope was driven from his mind like there was a hole in the spaceship.
"Ginny?!" He shook her. "Stay with me, Ginny! Stay with me!"
"You've lost her, Pott—AH!" Riddle's body gave a powerful lurch.
At the same time Ginny twitched more than ever, it seemed like she was trying to cry out, to make a sound, but couldn't.
"Ginny! GINNY!" Harry shook her even harder, as if he could wake her, and if he did this living nightmare would end. "You have to wake up Ginny!"
Something dropped in Harry's lap and he turned to see Fawkes had found his wings.
The diary, and the Basilisk fang.
Then, without thinking, without considering, as though he had meant to do it all along, Harry seized the Basilisk fang with his shaking hands, and plunged it straight into the heart of the book.
Ink spurted from the wordless diary, a trail of black streaming over the leather, and his hands, and Riddle screamed, falling limp on the floor, Harry's wand clattering out of his hand.
Had he done it? He must have. He wouldn't allow any other options to enter his brain.
Harry let out a breath.
He'd done it. He was gone...Dead…
Shaking all over, Harry pulled himself up. His head was spinning as though he'd just travelled miles by Floo powder. Slowly, he dragged his feet along the chamber floor and gathered together his wand and the Sorting Hat. He limped over to the Basilisk, its gaping maw dripping puddles of blood on the floor, its unseeing eyes staring at him. He reached up and grabbed the hilt of the sword from the roof of its mouth, tugging with all his might. It glittered to into his hands, and he stumbled back with the weight of it.
He trudged up to Ginny, breathing heavily. He wanted to say softly 'It's okay, he's gone, you can wake up now.' But before the words could make it out of his lips, they were snuffed out by a horrible realization.
She wasn't breathing.
Clattering metal and wood upon stone.
"Ginny?! GINNY?!" He fell to his knees beside her, shaking her even harder than he had before. "Wake up Ginny! WAKE UP!" The words burned in his lungs.
She didn't obey.
He continued to shake her… it was the only thing he knew to do.
"What do I do?! What do I do?!" He pleaded to no one. "DO SOMETHING!" he yelled at Fawkes. "Can't you heal her?!"
The Phoenix hung his head.
His head creaked up, turning slowly to the boy laying some ways from them. The boy who would one day become the most powerful dark wizard of all time. The boy who would one day grow up to murder his parents.
He stood up on shaking legs, making his way over to what he hoped was a lifeless shell.
Horror clutched as his veins as he saw Riddle's chest rising and falling; breathing the breath he stole from her lungs.
Harry drew back, putting his hand over his mouth, the word "no" forming silently on his lips.
All the while a horrible thought rang through him like the bell for his most dreaded class.
It's all my fault.
He knew it was. Riddle may have been the one to kill her, but in the end it was his fault.
He wasn't fast enough. Wasn't strong enough. Wasn't brave enough. If he was any of those things he could have saved her.
Without thinking he began crawling on trembling, burning hands and knees, and snatched up the Basilisk fang. He took a deep breath, and drove it again with all his might into the book.
But no ink spurted from it this time, Riddle gave no jolt or scream.
He opened the dairy, breath clawing at his lungs, and plunged it into the waters of the pages.
When he retracted the fang he saw the pages were ripped.
Just that; pages. Nothing indicated they were tied to the life of the creature beside him.
This wasn't possible. This couldn't have happened. No, Ginny couldn't be dead. Ron's sister couldn't be dead, just like that. Voldemort couldn't be back, just like that. No, it was too fast, too quiet. He was the Boy Who Lived, he was supposed to save her, to stop Voldemort.
In the end he was just a weak little boy, who grew up in a cupboard, who couldn't do anything.
He raised the fang stabbed it again into the book.
He didn't know how many times he'd pierced it before he threw the fang to the floor, seized the diary, and began ripping the pages with his own hands, screams grappling at his throat, wishing with every tear, with everything in him, the boy before him would fall to pieces with it. Until at last he fell limp, breath sitting heavy in his empty chest.
There was a glint in the corner of his eye.
Slowly he turned.
The sword still on the floor with the Basilisk's blood still on it.
Would it bring her back? He stole her life…so if Riddle died… could Ginny be revived? Or was it too late?
Even if it couldn't bring her back, this was Voldemort. Sure he was young, not quite the same monster, but he was still the Dark Lord, and he had tried to kill him just a few moments earlier. Wouldn't it be, really, self defense? A preemptive self defense for all the horrors he would soon commit?
He dragged himself over to the sword like an undead thing looking for life to steal, throwing his arm onto it, then pulled himself back, the metal dragging against the stone.
He held the sword high, intending and expecting to bring it crashing down…but it was much heavier than it had a second ago.
He could save countless lives if he just plunged that blade through this young boy's chest. If he just picked up his wand and cast the curse he cast on countless others—
It would be so easy. So easy to cut off that breath.
What are you waiting for?
He threw the sword to the ground with force, the metal ringing through the chamber, and plunged his hand in his pocket, pulling out his wand, almost fumbling with it, his hands sweating.
Maybe he just didn't want to feel the blade plunging into him. It would be too gross. If he used the wand it would be so much easier, he wouldn't feel the breath leaving him, wouldn't feel him dying.
His hand shook as he pointed it at him…
"No! Not Harry! Don't take Harry!"
"Step aside, girl!"
Screams, and the color green…
Just do it, you idiot. He's evil. He killed your parents. He'll kill you too, and countless others once he wakes up.
Why couldn't he? It was so easy. It's not like he didn't know the words. He'd heard them in his dreams for a very long time, in this monster's voice. This was the perfect chance for revenge. For justice. The only chance, most likely.
He collapsed to his knees beside him, sobs grappling at his chest.
Why? Why couldn't he do it?
He dragged himself over to Ginny, taking her hand in his…it was already so cold.
"Ginny...Please, you have to wake up…" He began to cry into her fingers. "You have to wake up. I need you to wake up."
He pulled himself to his knees, and reached his arms around her, holding her in his arms, tight as he could, rocking back and forth, tears so warm against his cold cheeks.
"Ginny…Your family needs you to be alive…I need you to be alive…"
But her pale features didn't change.
Harry wiped the tears from his eyes. He'd been trying his best to keep them back, but once he started talking about Ginny they wouldn't stop. To his surprise, Snape didn't tell him to keep it together, or scold him, he just kept listening…even handed him a tissue—(he scowled disapprovingly while doing so, though).
As he finished Snape down the last few drops of mead in his glass—(he'd got the bottle out as while he was talking)—and vanished the glass.
Harry had told him everything that happened in that chamber, answering every question, without leaving out any detail, just as Dumbledore has said—(this included a rather large number of details he didn't care to share. With anyone. Especially Snape.) It all just spilled out of him, like he was a leaky faucet that wouldn't turn off.
"Well," Snape said when Harry's truth-infected tongue finally fell limp, "it appears we have a Dark Lord to interrogate."
He began walking towards the door, and Harry was about to follow him, when a question he intended to be silent cut the air.
"What would you have done, Sir?"
He wouldn't usually ask that—screw that, he would never ask something so forward of Snape, for fear of, getting, you know know, murdered—but the truth serum wouldn't let him keep his thoughts to himself.
Snape froze, turning slowly, his eyes glittering.
That's it, the end was nigh. He hoped they'd give him a nice funeral.
But, when Snape spoke, it was the softness in his voice that sent chills down his spine; none of his insults ever sounded so dark…
"I wouldn't have so much as hesitated."
His tongue rose again: "Do…Do you think we'll have to kill him now?"
"That's up to the Headmaster."
Before either of them could move Snape flicked his wand, and Harry tried to speak but no sound came out.
"We can't have you blabbing all our secrets to the young Dark Lord, now can we?" Snape smirked, and Harry glared at him as they exited the room.