By the Light of the Dark Mark
'You don't know what I'm capable of,' said Malfoy forcefully, ' you don't know what I've done!'
'Oh, yes, I do,' said Dumbledore mildly. 'You almost killed Katie Bell and Ronald Weasley. You have been trying, with increasing desperation, to kill me all year. Forgive me, Draco, but they have been feeble attempts … so feeble, to be honest, that I wonder whether your heart has been really in it …'
"What the hell is he playing at?" Harry thought incredulously, his heart racing, his ire piqued. "I know I'm not supposed to move! Let me go, you old goat, let me go!"
'… I have no wand at the moment … I cannot defend myself.'
Malfoy merely stared at him.
'I see,' said Dumbledore kindly, when Malfoy neither moved nor spoke. 'You are afraid to act until they join you.'
'I'm not afraid!' snarled Malfoy, though he still made no move to hurt Dumbledore. 'It's you who should be scared!'
"Yeah, yeah! Laugh it up now, you blond git. You don't have the dragon eggs to do it! You couldn't do it when you had me on the Hogwarts Express at the start of the year when you knew I was alone, no way you could do it now when anyone could come up at any moment!" Harry was getting angrier and angrier. As the ferret explained how he had let the Death Eaters into the school, but it was Dumbledore's constant defending of Professor Snape that finally made Harry lose his rag. He was simply unable to grasp how Dumbledore could trust the man after he had sold his parents to Voldemort, abused him for 6 years, mind raped him for months, and behaved like a typical Death Eater. This was wrong! This was all SO wrong!
He felt a surge flow through him; similar to the night he blew up Aunt Marge, similar to the night he faced that pair of Dementors in Little Whinging. A stifled gasp and a quick stretch later, and Harry found himself free of Dumbledore's Spell.
And then they came. More Death Eaters, including Fenrir Greyback, the Werewolf that had bitten Remus when he was younger, all arguing amongst themselves. They were all arguing over who should do it; Greyback said he wanted to do it after tearing out Dumbledore's throat, vicious monster that he is.
Harry didn't know what made him do it, but under his invisibility cloak, under the light of the Dark Mark, he examined the Locket, noticing as he felt for it in his pocket that there was something wrong …
He turned the locket over in his hands. This was neither as large as the locket he remembered seeing in the Pensieve, nor were there any markings upon it, no sign of the ornate S that was supposed to be Slytherin's Mark. Moreover,there was nothing inside but for a scrap of folded parchment wedged tightly into the place where a portrait should have been.
Automatically, without really thinking about what he was doing, Harry pulled out the fragment of parchment, opened it, and read:
To the Dark Lord
I know I will be dead long before you read this
but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret.
I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can.
I face death in the hop that when you meet your match,
you will be mortal once more.
Harry neither knew nor cared what he message meant. Only one thing mattered: this was not a Horcrux. Dumbledore had weakened himself by drinking that terrible potion for nothing. Harry crumpled the parchment in his hand and his eyes burned with tears.
"Nothing! It was all for nothing! Damn him! Damn the old codger for putting me through all that!" Harry was furious. He was positively livid and his mind was playing through all the injustices he had suffered at the hand of Voldemort. Losing his parents "Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies." As he thought those words, the rest of that Merlin-forsaken prophecy made its way, unbidden, into his mind.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches;
Born to those who have thrice defied him,
Born as the seventh month dies …
And the Dark Lord shall mark him as his equal" Harry's hand absently brushed his accursed scar,
"But he shall have power the Dark Lord knows not …
And either must die at the hand of the other
For neither can live whilst the other survives…
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…"
Harry gritted his teeth in outrage. Why, WHY did he have to think of that now? It wasn't conducive to anything. It wouldn't help him out of his bind, hiding in plain site from five Death Eaters. Even if he did now have his wand and could move, he couldn't incapacitate five people with one spell like Dumbledore could, nor could he cast silently. Even if he managed to take care of three, there were two others, including a werewolf – who were well known to be strongly resistant to magic. "And either must die at the hand of the other" came again to his utmost annoyance. "Shut up!" he thought angrily, "you're not helping!" Even if he managed to take care of three at once, he'd have enough trouble with the other two. "And either must die at the hand of the other" "Shut up, Sirius!" Sirius? Why the hell was Harry hearing Sirius' voice at a time like this. Dumbledore was still talking to the Death Eaters, who were arguing amongst themselves – some wanting to kill Dumbledore, others wanting to do it themselves.
'Draco, do it, or stand aside so one of us –' screeched the woman, but at that precise moment the door to the ramparts burst open once more and there stood Snape, his wand clutched in his hand as his eyes swept the scene, from Dumbledore slumped against the wall, to the four Death Eaters, including the enraged werewolf, and Malfoy.
'We've got a problem, Snape,' said the lumpy Amycus, whose eyes and wand were fixed alike upon Dumbledore, 'the boy doesn't seem able –'
But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly.
The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had ever experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading. "And either must die at the hand of the other" the voice was back again, stronger, more insisting, more urgent.
Snape said nothing, but walked forwards and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way. "And either must die at the hand of the other" The three Death Eaters fell back without a word. Even the werewolf seemed cowed.
Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the hard lines of his face. "And either must die at the hand of the other"
'Severus … please …'
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore. "AND EITHER MUST DIE AT THE HAND OF THE OTHER!"
Time slowed, and Harry watched in morbid fascination as Snape's lips formed the words he hated most in the entire world. The words that had shaped his destiny, the words that would likely be the culmination of his destiny.
Time stopped. Literally time stopped. He could feel the lub of his heart, and waited for the dub which never came. He saw the pain in Dumbledore's eyes as he watched his most trusted colleague take that irrevocable step. He saw the glee in the Death Eaters' eyes, and the sickness and dread in Malfoy's eyes as he truly grasped for the first time the consequences of his actions. "And either must die at the hand of the other". It was almost a whisper on the wind, this time the voice was decidedly feminine, calming, comforting. He knew what he had to do. With a cry of 'Professor!' Harry leapt in front of the Headmaster, his wand outstretched, placing it in the Headmaster's – for once in his life, truly surprised – hand. As lurid green beam of the Killing Curse hit him in the chest, a pain like he had never felt before rippled through him in waves of agony. His muscles tensed, but he refused to cry out, that was what the bastards always wanted. Ironically, he thought, he could here his mother
'Not Harry, please, not Harry!
'Stand aside you silly girl, stand aside now!'
'Please, not Harry, have mercy, have mercy!' Then, in that same, gentle feminine lilt, the first time he ever heard in his life, not filled with fear or anger, 'And either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live whilst the other survives'. In one final act of defiance, Harry opened his eyes to see the looks on everyone's faces. The Death Eaters' had a mixture of shock and glee in their eyes, as did Malfoy, but with that fear and despair could also be found. Dumbledore's face could only be described as inscrutable. It seemed that, with a wand back in his hand, despite still being weakened from the potion, he was still the most powerful being at Hogwarts. Then, finally his gaze fell on Snape, and he realised that he had been spinning, as though the curse had hit him at an angle. Snape's face was the oddest and most startling mixture of emotions he had ever seen on the Potion Master's face. There was a mixture, of fear, anger, what almost looked to be grudging respect, and finally, and most surprising of all, as sort of resigned acceptance. But that wasn't the oddest thing that Harry noticed. Before the darkness that was just blinking into view in the corners of his eyes totally enveloped him, he was astonished to see the fact that his chest, the beam of light, and Snape's wand, were still connected.