Where water cleans, fire cleanses. Sometimes a forest must burn so it may grow back better, stronger. Perhaps the world must burn the same.

-Gellert Grindelwald

Chapter 6

Beneath the night sky, atop the tallest hill, stood a manor house Harry had seen once before. Stone and ivy gleamed proud under the crescent moon and glimmering stars. No eternal fire yet raged. Before the entryway stood a man with dark hair and green-trimmed robes.

Though he couldn't see the man's face, Harry knew without being told he was looking at the future Minister Riddle. Or a memory of him, at least. As he had been long ago.

This was not Harry's first visit to the past by way of Dumbledore's Pensieve, but the sensation of watching history unfold around him still made the hair stand up on his arms. He looked to the left and found Dumbledore. His Dumbledore. The Headmaster's face was grim.

"You have been thrown in the water hardly knowing how to swim, and you have comported yourself admirably." Dumbledore sighed. "Yet, you must learn the type of wizard—wizards—with whom you deal."

"Albus, I-"

"I apologize, Harry, but you must see. You must know…" Dumbledore grasped his shoulder and guided him forward into the memory.

They started up the hill. It was a steeper climb than Harry had expected, and he struggled to keep up with Dumbledore's long strides. Beneath his feet the terrain was broken and uneven. It wasn't a hill the owners of the mansion ever climbed, he suspected. Around them the air was still. The last chill of spring clung to the countryside, its grip loosening as summer fought to take hold. The night was silent.

As they crested the hill, the manor consumed Harry's view. It was larger than he'd realized, and it made him think of lords looking down on their fiefdom. He wondered why they were here. It was a Muggle home, no doubt about it, but Dumbledore and Riddle had both been familiar with the place before it went up in flames. Harry supposed he was about to figure out why.

"Inside," Dumbledore said, as if sensing Harry's curiosity. "What we seek is inside."

A stone stairway led up to a set of double doors which hung open. Harry followed Dumbledore up the steps and across the threshold. They crossed into a small foyer with a wooden floor and burnt orange walls. Harry moved further into the manor, Dumbledore slowing his pace and falling in line behind him. He looked back at him, but the Headmaster avoided his gaze.

Harry feltthe disturbance before he heard it. Around him, the air crackled with malevolent energy, an electricity that pricked at his skin and smothered his senses. He shivered.

"You can feel it, yes?" Dumbledore posed it as a question, but it wasn't really. He knew the answer, and Harry didn't bother responding. "The emotions, the magic—they bubble just below the surface. This place, even the memory of it, is haunted by what might have been. By what was."

Harry wasn't quite sure what Dumbledore meant but figured he would find out soon enough. Continuing through the house, Harry at last heard the first sounds of confrontation. A shouted curse, a screamed name. Shattering glass.

"Through that door." Dumbledore pointed toward the end of the hall. "Go."

Harry did so, but he noticed Dumbledore lagging behind. The Headmaster pinched the bridge of his crooked nose.


"Go, Harry."

Harry gave him a tight nod before stepping forward. The door at the end of the hall was already open. As he approached, the voices grew louder. Above it all sounded a woman's cries. Harry crossed the threshold, afraid of what he was going to find.

A trio of well-dressed Muggles stood around a toppled table, the remnants of a fine meal scattered at their feet. The future Minister walked amongst them, yew wand in hand. His back was turned to Harry. Around him, the air rippled in anticipation of what was to come. Riddle slashed his arm downward, and a wave of aquamarine energy exploded through the dining room with enough force to rattle the walls. It passed Harry like a warm breeze. The Muggles were not so lucky. The force propelled them in opposite directions, crashing them against the walls and leaving their imprints on the plaster. They fell to the floor with simultaneous thuds.

Riddle focused his attention on one Muggle in particular. He sought the man out, crouching down beside him as he stirred. Finally Riddle spoke, his voice a deadly whisper. "Today you reap what you have sown."

Emotions flitted across the man's face. First groggy confusion, then startled recognition. Finally, he narrowed his eyes.

"Figured it out, have you?" Riddle ran his fingers over the man's face, as if feeling the cut of his jawline. He laughed. "It really is uncanny."

Riddle stood. In that moment, Harry knew what he was watching. The man on the floor was Minister Riddle's father.

"Crucio." The curse came out as a reverent whisper, a trace of longing tinging his voice.

Harry took a step back. He would never forget the man's screams, not as long as he lived. Riddle Senior thrashed against the floor, his limbs spasming of their own accord. Froth spilled from his mouth, and a foul odor filled the air. Riddle had to end the curse—had to end it now—before the man's mind shut down. When Riddle finally did lift the curse, his father's arms continued to twitch.

"You deserve more. So much more. But the hour grows late." Riddle lifted his wand. "Avada-"

The tip of his wand glowed a pestilent green, and Harry looked away. He couldn't bear to watch. But the curse never came.

Wood splintered and bone cracked. Riddle's wand—what was left of it—clattered to the floor. The fingers of his left hand pointed at unnatural angles and the arm hung limp. Riddle turned, his face contorted in pain and hatred. He bit his lips, managing not to cry out. Tears tracked down his cheeks, and blood dribbled from his arm, splashing in droplets against the parquet.

Harry got his first good look at Riddle's face. He was young. Younger than Harry was now, probably. Between Harry and Riddle, the air shimmered, and Albus Dumbledore stepped out of the void, purple robes clashing hideously with auburn hair. The older Dumbledore stood at Harry's side, his eyes cast down at his feet.

"Dumbledore." Riddle ground the name out.

"My Lord." Derision rolled from Dumbledore's voice. With a flourish, he bowed deep and exposed the back of his neck to Riddle. The future Minister didn't move. When Dumbledore stood straight, he slashed his wand, a movement so quick Harry hardly saw it. Blood sprayed from Riddle's chest painting the wooden floor crimson, and he doubled over. "You wish to be so addressed, do you not? Lord Voldemort."

Dumbledore's laughter shook the walls, but his eyes were cold as ice. "You fancy yourself a practitioner of the Dark Arts?"

Dumbledore jabbed his wand, and Riddle's legs buckled. His knees hit the floor, cracking. "You know nothing. You are a child, risking everything in the name of misguided vengeance."

Dumbledore glided toward Riddle, not stopping until he stood directly above him. He put his hand on Riddle's shoulder. "You've a chance to be the best—the greatest—sorcerer to ever live. Yet here you stand, aiming to slaughter Muggles."

"It's his fault." Riddle pointed to the man on the floor. He was sitting up now, his back resting against the corner. He drew ragged breaths, a look of terror etched on his face. "Everything that's happened to me-"

Dumbledore slashed his wand again, and Riddle bent backward, his spine contorted but magically unbroken. A broken gasp escaped his throat. "Your petulance truly knows no bounds."

"What-" Riddle struggled to speak, his neck bent and head tilted back so that his eyes were on the ceiling, "do you want?"

"Rise." With a final wave of Dumbledore's wand, Riddle fell in a heap. "Rise as my apprentice."

"I'll never-"

"You will." It was not an order, nor a threat, but the truth spoken as Dumbledore knew it. "Or you will never leave this house."

With that, the memory faded and Harry felt himself drawn back into the present. On shaking feet, he took an unsteady step away from Dumbledore and toward the door. Only the look on the Headmaster's face kept him from fleeing. Dumbledore continued to stare down at the Pensieve, tear tracks staining his cheeks.

"There is much evil in this world, Harry. In our enemies. In our friends." Dumbledore gestured toward the Pensieve from which they had emerged. "Even in ourselves."

"I can see that." Harry thought his own voice sounded odd, as if it were coming from someplace else. Now more than ever.

Dumbledore at last pulled himself away from the Pensieve and collapsed into his chair. He gestured for Harry to sit across from him. Harry hesitated only a moment before complying. "I am not the same man I once was. Nor is Tom."

"Then why show me…" He searched for the right word, before lamely realizing he didn't know how to express what he had seen, "that?"

"Because there is something I need you to understand." Dumbledore sighed, running his fingers through his beard. "Have you ever questioned why I named you my apprentice?"

"Uh." He leaned over Dumbledore's desk, resting his head against his hand. It was a question he'd asked himself more often than he cared to admit. But he did not want to discuss it now. "Because I'm good with a wand, I guess."

Dumbledore nodded. "You are. Though your talent falls short of matching Minister Riddle's." Dumbledore met his eyes for the first time since their return. "That is not the only reason for your apprenticeship."

Harry shrugged. On another day, he might have taken offense at the way Dumbledore compared him to Riddle. Right now, he just wanted to go to bed. Though he doubted he'd be able to get much sleep. "I don't know."

"But you do!" Warmth had finally returned to Dumbledore's voice. "You have seen now what Tom and I once were, what we are still capable of becoming again. You are a better wizard—a better man—than either of us could ever hope to become. Much better."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Everything. The defeater of Grindelwald will be rewarded with more power than most men could dare imagine. This is a power with which I cannot trust Tom, nor myself. I would trust only one man with this power, Harry."

Harry sat up a little straighter. "Sir, what exactly are you saying?"

Dumbledore paused for what felt like several minutes. In reality, it was probably only a second. His eyes bore into Harry's. "When we face Gellert, you must be the one to defeat him."