Harry hoped his friends had gotten out ok. He was walking down a large stone hallway with a lamp every ten meters or so. The lamps were shedding a small blue light and other than allowing him to see, were not doing anything to alleviate his fear. At least there are no more dementors around. Harry shuddered at this lame attempt to lighten the situation. There just as well could have been and he wouldn't have been any more scared. He didn't understand how his godfather had survived twelve years at this dreadful place as he certainly wasn't handling it at all.
Finally the hallway ended at a simple double door. It didn't look particularly different than any other set of too wooden doors. But Harry knew that behind them lied his fate. He wasn't sure how he was gong to win, but he knew he had too. He was sixteen, and had encountered the wizard five times previously, every time he had survived. Twice his enemy had not, At least not in any way that was livable. But it still took him every fiber of him being to open the door. If he won now then he would have his last year at Hogwarts without trouble. He could have a normal time just being there and being with his friends. They would also be safe too. They wouldn't be dragged into messes like they were because of him. He suddenly felt a ping of loneliness. It was him against who knows what.
The eerie glow around him was what finally allowed hi too continue. There was bright light coming from the edges of the door. So at least there would be light at what he hoped to be his final encounter with the wizard. With that he opened the door.
The room wasn't just lit the walls were shining making it look like it was made of pure gold instead of stone. In the middle of the room was a pedestal on top of which was a throne. Behind the throne from wall to wall and ceiling to floor was a crimson curtain with gold highlights. But that was not what Harry was staring at, eyes wide. It was not the fact that the room was laden in Gryffindor colors or that it was distinctly different from the dark and dreary atmosphere of the rest of the place. It was the man, or Harry could say boy, standing on the pedestal; for standing on the pedestal was not Voldemort as Harry had expected. No, it was impossible, it was totally ludicrous but he was seeing it and he could not believe that this was a dream. Too much had happened, and his scar was perfectly fine. The boy standing on the pedestal was none other than Cedric Diggory, whom Harry had watched die two years previously.
"What? Am I so glorious that I garner the stares of even the great Harry Potter?" Cedric said, but it wasn't Cedric. It was Cedric's body. Even his beautiful voice came out of it, a voice that made Harry cringe with Guilt with every word. He had only stopped hearing that voice in his in thoughts recently. The boy he had gotten killed had finally let him go, and now he was standing in front of him.
But even though the body and the voice were the same, it was not the boy Harry had known. On his handsome face was a smile, a menacing smile that Harry recognized all too well. The tone as well, it was Cedric's voice but the tone. It had the tone of another boy whom Harry had had the unfortunate luck of meeting. He had the mannerisms of Tom Riddle. The same smile the same haughty tone. Voldemort…
"But how?" Harry stammered, still at a loss to explain what he still could not deny.
Cedric laughed coldly, it sounded to wrong. It was Cedric's laugh and yet it was not. It elated Harry and it disgusted him at the same time. "What is it Harry? Did you really think I was going to remain in the retched body forever? That was never my intention, that body was a necessary evil. It was what allowed me to finally find immortality. And I have Harry. Isn't it ironic that the spare I so sillily ignored would be the key to my victory? Here I thought I had to defeat you, but instead it turned out that you were irrelevant. A little prophesy created by an unfortunate encounter with an insane witch. Dumbledore really should have been paying more attention, foolish man." With that Voldemort, for there was no question now that that was who this was, leapt down off the pedestal in a feat of acrobatics that Harry was certain his old body was nearly incapable of. Then he walked straight up to him and looked him straight in the eyes. Harry realized that he had grown and that he was only a half a head shorter than Cedric had been. He remembered a boy quite taller than he was. Now they were almost the same height. Voldemort continued. "Oh how it was that I learned that there was a way to capture souls. Do you know what that is Harry? It's simple, the killing curse. Have you ever wondered why those killed by it never come back as ghosts? Why they disappear? Because they are taken into the wand of the person who uses the curse, there they are kept. But how is that helpful you might ask? Well, it was through that that I made this body. It was a simple matter of using the spirit to create its original form and then transferring myself from that half dead thing into it. What do you think? Doesn't it look better on me?" He then posed in front of Harry in a gaudy manner. Harry wanted to do something. The man was standing right in front of him, doing what amounted to nothing but showing off. And yet he couldn't, he had watched Cedric die once. He had felt that pain for the last two years. He could not watch him die again let alone kill him. Despite that he knew that this was Voldemort and that the spirit of Cedric was gone forever, trapped for eternity in Voldemort's wand, along with his parents, and any number of others. Yet he still couldn't do it. Voldemort had found his fatal flaw, Harry knew that there was no way he could kill him now.
The prophecy had already come to pass. It had been between him and Tom Riddle, but Tom Riddle was dead now, killed by him through his own ignorance. The man in front of him was not Tom Riddle, it was not Cedric Diggory, it was Voldemort, and only him. Harry finally understood what it seemed even the headmaster had not. The prophecy had not been about him destroying Voldemort. It had been about him killing the last shred of Tom Riddle remaining within. It had been about the birth of Voldemort. Neither can live while the other survives… It was true neither of them did live while the other survived. Harry was stuck in a destiny that would never allow him to truly live, and Tom Riddle was somewhere between life and death. Not dead, but not living either. Constantly looking for a way to live again, but it hadn't been that he would live again. It was that he would stop living and totally become what he had wanted to. Harry stared at the man he had been destined to create.
"I believe that you realize now what has happened? I do not need to point anything further out to you. I know what power you have that I was supposed to know not." Harry stared, that was part of the prophecy that he was not supposed to have heard, that along with the fact that he would be marked by the dark lord. "Oh and look, the "Dark Lord's mark" is still there. I guess that remains forever regardless of your fate. Fitting isn't it? Wondering how I know that? It was so simple. Dumbledore was a fool to think that you could keep it from me. After being a half dead spirit living on unicorn blood it was only simple to endure the pain of entering you head to find the information I needed. It was only a matter of time before I found the rest of it. And when I did I finally knew what I needed to do. For the power that you had that I did not was obvious." Voldemort than pulled out his wand leapt up to the pedestal again and waved it at the curtain behind it.
Harry froze at what he saw. His heart nearly stopped, No… For there behind the pedestal chained to the wall were those he had hoped had escaped: Neville, Ron, Hermione, Justin, Seamus, and Ernie.
"See, you had it with you all along. But you stupidly never realized it. You denied your own power, you always have. And now not only you but that power itself will pay for it." The smile on Voldemort's face widened, and Harry then knew what he should have known all along, friendship, that was his power. Tom Riddle and now Voldemort didn't have friends. He didn't know that power. But he was hardly stupid, it would be obvious to him that he did not have the same kind of people around him. Willing to kill for him, die for him only out of fear of a worse death. But not who would sacrifice themselves for him, lend him their strength or work together to make sure that he was alright. That was something the dark lord would not know, even though he would be aware that others had it. It was plain for him to see, for Dumbledore to see, for anyone who knew to see and yet it had eluded them all. And it looked like all seven of them were going to pay for it with their lives.
Voldemort looked giddy. It was scary to see it because it could only mean bad things for him and his friends. "So now you see it, your power. Well, let us play a little game with your power. You choose one of them and I kill them. If you don't choose well then I will have to choose for you. Simple isn't it? You choose one, they die, we all have a laugh at their expense then we do it again." Harry couldn't move; he didn't know what to do. He was trapped, images of Cedric's death played before him. Kill the spare… kept repeating in his head over and over again.
Voldemort laughed at his obvious predicament, "Come on, this is your last chance…" Harry still said nothing, his mind was lost, his body totally frozen in place. He was back in that graveyard watching Cedric die over and over again. But this time it wasn't Voldemort killing him, it wasn't even Harry himself. Now Harry had the gruesome image of Cedric killing Cedric from the inside out. The old boy would fall and then disintegrate into a shadowy blob only to transform into and then reform as the thing that was in front of him.
"Too bad, your time is up. Well, since you appear to care about spares so much. I suppose that seems a great place to start," and with that he threw a Dagger into Justin's chest. Harry was shocked back to reality by that, Voldemort using a dagger? That was until it became obvious that it was anything but a normal dagger. After a few moments of silence Justin started screaming. Bright sky blue lines began to cover his body and an identically colored liquid started to seep out of him eyes and mouth, it was obvious that the liquid was blood. That was not the end of it however, Harry watched as Justin's skin began to melt, and then before he knew it the boy was no longer chained to the wall. The shackles were empty. A robe embedded in a pile of skin colored goo was all that was left of the boy he once knew. Ernie stared, his mouth gaping, he started crying silently. Harry returned to his place of dreams, only now Justin death was added to the end. The scene seemed to play back and fourth between the two deaths. Harry could barely cope with his own guilt let alone think about how he was going to get out of this.
"Oh now, Harry, Harry. I know, why don't I change the rules a tad. If you choose them I will use the killing curse, painless, and I would know after all. You did make me hit myself with it. The curse itself was totally painless. It was the part afterwards that actually hurt." Harry was too lost to respond. Voldemort sounded so casual, so much like Cedric. Yet his words were nothing like what Cedric would say. Harry was not snapped out of his reverie, if anything he was drawn further into it.
"Oh now, can't have that. It isn't very much fun if you are lost in your own world and miss the happenings now is it? I know! I'll just have to go for where it hurts!" Voldemort's spite showed through as he said this and then he took two Daggers and threw them. Harry watched in horror, knowing exactly where they were arcing. He tried to move his wand and do something, anything to stop them, but he was too late. Both Ron and Hermione had Daggers sticking out of their chests.
Harry forgot about his wand, forgot about his guilt. Every fiber of his being had become pure anger, pure hatred. He charged and Voldemort with all his might. He never got there. Voldemort simple swung his wand lazily and Harry felt himself flung to the far wall. Once there he was held above the floor on the wall magically. Every part of his body but his head had lost feeling. He was forced to at least listen to Ron and Hermione's screams and soon there was nothing left of his two best friends.
Harry couldn't think of anything he had no idea what to do. He was stuck now, any chance he may have had he'd wasted lost in his own thought, and now that he was finally himself again he found it was too late. He and his friends were dead and there was nothing he could do about it.
"I see you have come to your senses. Now, again…who dies?"
"Sorry, I need some time to think, can't make such an important decision instantly you know." Harry couldn't think of anything however and he had no idea who he would choose and what he would feel if he made it. Would it be worse than what he was feeling now? Could it?
"Of course, but I do not have all day. And don't think that you can escape, no, you will never break that spell."
Harry was about to agree, about to choose, but suddenly he heard a familiar voice in his ear. "Harry, you know what to do. You have seen it done before, remember your wand. Make a portkey now!" Harry was shocked. Justin? But you're dead?
"Trust us." Hermione spoke this time, "Voldemort was right, your power is friendship. It was so strong a pull that it kept us from going, kept us here."
"What are you waiting for? Do it!" It was Ron's voice that ultimately made him act, and not a moment too soon.
"Ok I suppose that since we only have spares left, I will kill the other one. The one who could have been you!" Voldemort and Harry acted at the same time.
Harry shouted "portus!" just as Voldemort through his dagger. Three, two, one… Harry had been successful, the entire wall disappeared, Neville, Seamus and Ernie with it. The dagger just barely missed where Neville had been and instead flew out of the building into the wind and rain that was behind the now gone wall.
Voldemort seemed shocked. He obviously had not been expecting this at all. A voice frantically yelled at Harry. "What are you waiting for? Run!" Harry did not take the time to realize whose voice I was and instead turned and ran out the door and down the long corridor.
Voldemort had quickly recovered as Harry soon heard footsteps behind him. But he was running much faster than he ever had before. He could feel his friends in a way he had never felt them before. They seemed to be carrying him, and yet it was his legs that were moving. It was a strange sensation but it felt rather safe considering he was running away from a mad man.
"Go left." Justin told him when he got to the first intersection, and he had no reason to doubt him, so that's the way he went. He wondered why they were taking him this way, there was a dead end, but he trusted his friends. After all they had come back somehow from death itself to aid him.
He wasn't so sure about that when he reached the end of the hallway as all it appeared to be was a stone wall. "Look right!" said Ron. Harry did now totally at a loss for what to do, so he complied as he had been. It turned out however that to the right was a door. Harry threw it open and leapt inside, shutting the door behind him.
A lumos spell showed the room as a simple broom closet. The mundanity of it sent a chill down Harry's spine. He had been prepared for a torture chamber or execution room. A broom closet was the last thing on his mind. "What are you waiting for? Make a port key!" Hermione's urgent voice pushed him along. He grabbed the nearest thing which happened to be a mop and said "portus" thinking: take me to Hogwarts.
He started counting, three, two… It was then that the door opened and Harry froze. Fortunately the portkey didn't need him to count for it and so Harry felt the familiar pull on his abdomen. The last thing he heard was the sound of a dagger flying through the air.
He fell into a pale green lit room. When he looked around he jumped before he remembered that he had already removed the danger here, he knew where he was, the Chamber of Secrets.
It was then that three figures began to appear in front of him: Justin, Ron and Hermione. Harry didn't know what to say so he simply said, "Thanks," although he knew that that was not nearly enough for what they had done for him.
"It was the least we could do. You needed help and we were able to give it." Justin said with a happy smile on his face.
"Besides, I wasn't going to let the world lose the youngest seeker to play in a century!" Ron said, "You sure you want to be an Auror? You'd have a smashing chance in professional quidditch!" Ron's pale face smiled as he said this.
Hermione floated over and took Harry's hand. Or more put her hand where Harry's was as she had no substance like all ghosts. Harry had expected it to be freezing cold like the other ghosts he had met but it wasn't, it felt oddly lukewarm. "It was you and the three of them or the three of us. We realized that we didn't just want to help but that we were obligated to. We had the chance that not many Wizards do, to become a ghost for an actual important reason. Voldemort said it himself: your power comes from your friends. Unfortunately for him he underestimated this power." Hermione floated over to Justin and Ron again.
Harry started laughing. Ron, Hermione and Justin gaped at him. "Well, it's just that, its all rather corny now isn't it? I mean the power that protected me from Voldemort for all those years was love and now my power which saves me yet again is friendship? What's next? The weapon I wield against him being hope?" The three pale figures laughed. Harry had never felt this safe with ghosts before. He had always been a tad nervous around them even Nearly Headless Nick. But something occurred to him and he couldn't help but ask. "So are you haunting Hogwarts now or something?"
"Actually Harry, ghosts are tied to the thing that they stayed for. In this case you. That's why I didn't feel cold to you. Because when ghosts come back they are intrinsically attached to whatever it is that brings them back. If that thing is a person then they do not have the draining effect on that particular person as they do on everything else. If you want to know more about ghosts there is this really good book in the library on the…" If Harry had any doubt that these were his friends that eliminated it. Only Hermione could die and come back from the dead to save him only to make reading suggestions to him afterwards as if it had never happened. Ron was shaking his head. Justin was smiling.
"Yeah, so it looked like we are going to be together for a while. At least until you die I suspect." Justin said. He then added, "Which will be a long way off if I have anything to say about it."
Harry had a lot of questions for them, but they could all wait for later. After all they were going to be together for along time. At this point he had a more pressing concern.
"How am I going to get out of here?" He asked the three of them.
Ron laughed. "Just make the mop into another portkey. And this time be a bit more specific than 'take me to Hogwarts.' Honestly, you're lucky you weren't deposited directly into the lake."
And so Harry made his portkey, directly to the headmaster's office. He had a lot to explain to the man. Most of which could not wait. A few seconds and a pull on his stomach later and he was on his way…