...

"Remorse is the pain of sin."

[ one ]


"...Dumbledore's last plan went wrong, Harry Potter!"

"Yeah, it did," said Harry. "You're right. But before you try to kill me, I'd advise you to think about what you've done... Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle..."

"What is this?" Of all the things that Harry had said to him, beyond any revelation or taunt, nothing had shocked Voldemort like this. Harry saw his pupils contact to thin slits, saw the skin around his eyes whiten.

"It's your one last chance," said Harry, "it's all you've got left... I've seen what you ll be otherwise... Be a man... try... Try for some remorse..."

"You dare...?" said Voldemort again.

"Yes, I dare," said Harry, " because Dumbledore's last plan hasn't backfired on me at all. It's backfired on you, Riddle." Voldemort s hand was trembling on the Elder Wand, and Harry gripped Draco's very tightly. The moment, he knew, was seconds away. "That wand still isn't working properly for you because you murdered the wrong person. Severus Snape was never the true master of the Elder Wand. He never defeated Dumbledore."

"He killed-"

"Aren't you listening? Snape never beat Dumbledore! Dumbledore's death was planned between them! Dumbledore intended to die undefeated, the wand's last true master! If all had gone as planned, the wand's power would have died with him, because it had never been won from him!"

"But then, Potter, Dumbledore as good as gave me the wand!" Voldemort's voice shook with malicious pleasure. "I stole the wand from its last master's tomb! I removed it against its last master's wishes! It's power is mine!"

"You still don't get it, Riddle, do you? Possessing the wand isn't enough! Holding it, using it, doesn't make it really yours. Didn't you listen to Ollivander? The wand chooses the wizard... The Elder Wand recognized a new master before Dumbledore died, someone who never even laid a hand on it. The new master removed the wand from Dumbledore against his will, never realizing exactly what he had done, or that the world's most dangerous wand had given him its allegiance. . . ." Voldemort's chest rose and fell rapidly, and Harry could feel the curse coming, feel it building inside the wand pointed at his face. " The true master of the Elder Wand was Draco Malfoy."

Blank shock showed in Voldemort's face for a moment, but then it was gone. Consideration took it's place and Harry saw the Elder Wand lower just a fraction. Harry's breath hitched.

"Remorse.." Voldemort whispered, as if he were finally processing Harry's earlier suggestion at the enlightenment. His chest rising and falling faster than ever, Voldemort's resentful gaze rested on Harry, but he made no move to impair the boy. "If I try for some remorse," he began breathy though his voice was unwavering, "what will happen?"

Harry was taken aback, his previously racing mind now frozen on one thought. One completely and utterly surprising suspicion. His eyes narrowed just a fraction, his steadfast voice now containing just a hint of hysteria as he whispered to confirm his suspicions, "You're... going to try?"

Voldemort stared at Harry for a moment, debating internally whether or not to let his guard down. He knew that gaining Potter's trust would be next to impossible if he didn't at least attempt to make peace with the unpleasant, and, what he believed, despicable Gryffindor. Most reluctantly, Voldemort lowered his wand until he was loosely clutching it with his arm hanging by his side. "What will happen?" He demanded harshly once more. At the moment, if he hadn't the prerogative to physically hurt Harry, he desired to at least verbally hurt him.

"Your soul will be repaired." Harry responded hastily, a sudden hope leaping inside of him. Tom was considering it; what a wonderful sign. Though, now that Harry really took the scenario into question, he was astonished to find himself at a loss of knowledge of what was in store. He could hardly imagine the man standing before him smiling, much less being benevolent and remorseful.

Riddle pursed his thin lips in contemplation and hesitation. Though his fingers still tightly curled around the handle of the Elder wand, he now had no intentions of using it. It focus had been transferred. After all, it was either this.. or die. Voldemort knew that he was losing. He knew that if he'd attempted to kill Harry twice already and had failed both times, this try would be no different. He was intelligent enough to know when to stop; when his time was near. He'd always been terrified of death; the sole purpose of being human was to live, after all. Therefore, if he could somehow still evade the ruthless, unforgiving reaper, he would do so without eagerly. Finally coming to an absolute conclusion, Tom swallowed before inquiring, "How..? How do I do it?" He took a step closer to Potter, as if doing so would make his plea for guidance more deserving. However, doing so only caused Harry to take a step back, away from the Dark Lord.

In return to Voldemort's question, Harry's brows knit together as he extemporaneously blurted out his confusion, "What do you mean?" Harry asked, his voice quivering with the minuscule fear that was pumping through his veins, his wand still pointed at Riddle.

Tom seemed to realize this and a scowl shaped his expression in response. He took to pointing out his act of relinquishment seeing as it seemed Harry hadn't taken notice. "I've lowered my wand, you would do good to do so, too." He spat, his red eyes gleaming with a fresh wave of fury that had washed over him, yet he still failed to raise his wand once again. Harry took this as a reassurance.

Just as Harry was about to lower his wand, however, he came to his senses. This could very well be a trick, knowing the deceitful and cunning ways of Voldemort. The moment he, Harry, lowered Draco's wand, Voldemort would whip his out again and attempt to murder him recurrently, and so Harry held the unfamiliar wand firmly, blatantly refusing to bring it down.

Voldemort sucked in a deep, exasperated breath before proceeding to drop the Elder Wand, as though to prove Harry's unspoken suspicions invalid. Harry watched as the wand clattered to the ground. His gaze only had time to rest on it for a moment, however, for Voldemort kicked it away swiftly. Riddle then growled gutturally, "Lower your wand."

With the consolation of knowing Voldemort had rendered himself defenseless, Harry finally lowered Draco's wand, but still kept a firm grasp on it. Nerved and determined, Harry caught Voldemort's red gaze before transferring back to their previous conversation of which only consisted of questions. "What do you mean?"

Voldemort took a deep breath, as though it were painful for him to admit he was inexperienced in a facet of life. "I have never been apologetic for my actions before." He paused, deciding to repeat his question, speaking as if Harry were mentally incapable of understanding him, "How do you feel remorse?"

Harry blinked, fully understanding what Riddle meant and silently trying to conjure a coherent response. Voldemort's words ringing in his ears, he furrowed his brows as he lapsed into deep thought. How do you feel remorse? How? How? Harry suddenly found himself at a loss for words; he hadn't a clue how to describe an instruction on how to be sorry. He and Voldemort just stood, staring at one another in a silent standstill until a quiet, soft voice chimed in behind them.

Harry turned to face the voice's owner, his wand held out in front of him just in case he would find himself in a situation where he'd be obligated to perform spells quickly and readily. However, he dropped the wand once more upon realizing who had spoken. It was Hermione. Her wild appearance seemed very much in contrast to her calm voice, which contained only the slightest bit of hysteria.

"You've got to know love before you can feel remorse." She whispered, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.