Voldemort had just stepped through a door that was hidden in one of the bookcases that lined the walls. Harry made a mental note of where that door was, but he was now more concerned with the fact that the Dark Lord was here.
Snape turned to face Voldemort, and for the first time he looked scared.
“Really Severus, you no longer wish to be a Death Eater? That can be arranged.” Voldemort stated, his scarlet eyes flashing in fury. He didn’t wait for Snape to say anything. “I do have to admit you have been rather useless of late. True, your information on Harry here —“ Voldemort inclined his head towards Harry, a grin playing across is serpentine face, “ — was somewhat useful in my current plan. But you have not at all been up to your usual standards. You even let Draco escape, and no doubt he is the reason that Harry’s here so much earlier than I would have liked.”
“Master I —“ Snape started to say.
“Silence, Severus. You have made your wishes plain. I don’t want to hear any of your groveling.” Voldemort raised his wand so fast that none of them had even seen it. Before Snape could move even a fraction of a foot the Dark Lord said “Avada Kedavra,” and that all to familiar jet of green light shot straight at Snape, who crumpled to the ground, a look of horror on his face.
Voldemort looked down at the lifeless form of Snape was now sprawled on the ground. “Pity,” he said, shaking his head. Then, as though he had done nothing more than squashing a fly, he turned his attention back to Harry.
“It is a pleasure to see you here in the flesh Harry. Come for the live show, have you? Quite a send off it’s going to be, I’m sure. Did you enjoy that little game? I must say I rather wish it could have gone on a little longer. You really do have a temper on you, don’t you? Breaking the mirror like that. It was the last vestige you had of your beloved godfather, was it not?”
“Where’s Ginny?” Harry demanded. He had no room for fear right now, terrified as he was about what Voldemort had done to her.
Surprisingly the Dark Lord smiled and waved his wand. Ginny appeared, as though summoned, in the space between Voldemort and Harry. She looked much as she had done in the mirror, of course, seeing her here in the flesh made the horror of it all the more real.
Keeping his eyes on Voldemort as the snake talked, Harry rushed over to Ginny, and caught her just before she fell. As she collapsed into his arms she said in a very meek voice, “sorry Harry . . . couldn’t stop . . . “
“Don’t worry,” he said quietly to her, keeping focused on what Voldemort was doing. Now he had Ginny back they needed to get out of there. He knew that somehow that the battle with the Dark Lord would take place tonight, but would rather not chance his friends being around to feel the effects or suffer the consequences.
“How touching,” Voldemort derided. He was wearing a scathing look. It was hardly surprising given the value that he placed on love. No with this monster it was all about power. “I don’t think that Ginevra can really put her faith in you though Harry. After all it is your fault that she’s here in the first place, enjoying our little rendezvous.” There was that same sickening suggestive note in the Dark Lord’s voice that had been there just before Harry smashed the mirror.
Again he felt that same absolute hatred that he had felt then. Harry made to move toward the being that stood before him, wanting to attack. Voldemort smiled at this too, he seemed to be enjoying the fact that he could cause so much anger in Harry.
“He didn’t do that,” Ginny said in her weak voice, grabbing Harry’s arm. “He’s just trying to mess with you.” Harry chanced a quick glance at her, and saw that she was pleading with him not to do anything rash. He wasn’t sure he believed her, but they could deal with that later.
There was really only one thing that Harry wanted to do, and that was to get Ron, Hermione and Ginny out of here. If he had thought they could manage it, Harry would have just told the others to run as fast as they could out of this house. Once there they could Apparate away. They wouldn’t get very far Harry knew that. If they tried something so obvious, Voldemort was likely to act, and it wouldn’t be in a pleasant way.
“Well, well, Harry. Of all the ends that I’ve thought that would come to pass between us, this was never one of them,” Voldemort stated, looking around the tiny room. Nothing had changed since Bellatrix and Narcissa had been here over a year ago. Everything was still dark, shabby, and preserved the appearance of being devoid of occupants for large potions of time.
“At the house of a Muggle! One of the greatest exhibitions of my power is going to be demonstrated in the house of a useless Muggle.” Voldemort was flitting about the room, his black robes trailing behind him.
When his back was turned Harry seized the opportunity to motion to Ron and Hermione that they needed to leave. Voldemort spun around so fast that Harry was worried he had seen. He hadn’t, or made no indication he had, because he was continuing to speak.
“You see Harry, I had big plans for you. You fouled them up by getting away from Privet Drive, and again by avoiding death by Mr. Weasley over there. I must congratulate you on your excellent struggle against my Imperius Curse. It was not something I would have thought possible from one as unremarkable as you.”
What an absurd comment! Voldemort was complimenting Ron. When Harry chanced a half-glance at his friend, Ron looked stunned.
“A lucky chance I have to say. Some of Harry’s luck here seems to be rubbing off on you Mr. Weasley. But his luck is up therefore yours will be as well, I daresay.” There was a mad glint in those freaky red eyes. Voldemort pulled out his wand and pointed it at Ron.
Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all reacted instantly. Ron backed away, into the now closed door; Hermione stepped in front of him, and Harry and Ginny in front of them.
Voldemort lowered his wand, that frighteningly sinister grin once again plastered across his face.
“As I was saying Harry, this is not the most ideal setting for our final meeting, but I suppose it will have to do. Pity only your faithful friends are here for you. I would have liked to have a bigger audience. Perhaps Hogwarts would have been more suiting . . . consider it my first act as master of the school — to get rid of the last thorn in my side.
“No matter, no matter . . . there will be plenty of time for demonstration. You see Harry; I am now the greatest wizard in the world. I have achieved things that no other wizard —“
“I know you’ve tried, but you haven’t succeeded,” Harry spoke up. Perhaps it was the fact that he knew this would be the last time he would ever have to facedown Voldemort or because Ginny was still OK beside him, but Harry felt an odd sense of calmness as he stared at the monster that had been a once handsome boy.
The Dark Lord stopped in the middle of his self-egotistical monologue and glanced at Harry. There was a look of surprise in those red eyes. After a few seconds they narrowed, as though sizing Harry up. He knew that Voldemort was wondering exactly what Harry was talking about, or if he was just trying to buy time. Harry, who was still trying to figure a way out of this dead-end situation, said nothing.
“What do you know of my greatness Harry Potter?” Voldemort asked finally in a quiet voice that was no more than a hiss. “You’ve got no extraordinary magical ability at all. Your knowledge does not even scratch the surface of mine.”
“I know more than you think I do,” Harry said. He needed to keep Voldemort talking. It was distracting him from the fact that Ron and Hermione were easing the door open, and planning to back out slowly.
“You know nothing,” Voldemort smirked, clearly thinking that Harry was bluffing.
“Not true. I know a great deal more about you than most people,” Harry replied, talking a little louder than was necessary, given the scraping of the lock as it was being turned. “I know that your mother bewitched your father into marrying her and then she was abandoned, and died leaving you at Muggle orphanage. I know that Dumbledore came to see you there and learned that you were a great bullying git even then. I know you know about the Gaunts, that you murdered Tom Riddle and his parents and framed your uncle for it. I know that you stole Hepzibah Smith’s cup, and Slytherin’s locket after framing her house-elf for that murder. I know about Marvolo Gaunts ring. I know you tried to get a job at Hogwarts after Dumbledore was made headmaster, and he refused you, and that you then turned around and cursed the position. I also know — “ Harry stopped for a minute. He glanced at Ron and Hermione for half a second, and saw that they had the door open. Once he made his big pronouncement they were going to have to run for it, because Voldemort was surely going to act. They nodded to show they were ready. “ — About your Horcruxes.”
Harry had been watching Voldemort very closely as he rattled off all of the things that he knew. It was going to be unwelcome news for the Dark Lord that all of his secrets were out in the open. He didn’t take kindly to that sort of thing, and was likely going to start spouting spells, something that Harry was shocked to realize he hadn’t yet done.
“Dumbledore,” Voldemort hissed. “The meddlesome old fool.” He looked shocked at the information Harry had just enlightened him with, but quickly recovered. “So you know about my Horcruxes? Well, well, well . . . this does change things Harry. I’d rather have thought that I alone knew about them. Dumbledore did as well it seems, but couldn’t have located and destroyed them all if he told you about those treasured objects of mine.” He spoke calmly, but the pain that Harry had been feeling in his scar had intensified when he spoke of the Horcruxes, and throbbed even worse when Voldemort started talking about them.
“He didn’t,” Harry admitted, wondering why he was even engaging in conversation with a crazed murderer who was going to try and do him in yet again.
Voldemort’s shocked expression turned to triumph once more. “And he left the task of finding and destroying them to you Harry?” He let out a high cold laugh. “I will sleep much sounder tonight. You have no chance, you that has only your mudblood mother’s useless sacrifice — while I have the noble blood of Salazar Slytherin —“
“We did find them all though,” Harry replied. “Wormtail finished off your snake for us just now.” He remembered too late that he had promised not to tell the Dark Lord it had been Peter Pettigrew that had killed the snake. It really didn’t matter though.
“You lie,” Voldemort exclaimed cold fury in his eyes.
“Do I?” Harry asked. It was odd. He should have been scared out of his wits to be here, face to face with the Dark Lord, who was mere seconds away from trying to kill him again. Yet, Harry still felt rather calm, and had no reservations about taunting Voldemort.
“Nagini,” Voldemort called, in Parseltongue. Harry, as was usually the case, took a moment to recognize the snake language. Voldemort called several more times.
“She’s outside, shriveled up to nothing but a pile of dust,” Harry explained calmly. He was rummaging around in his pocket. His hand closed around the ring.
“Number one,” he said throwing it down on the floor. “Number two,” the locket. Number three,” the cup. “Number four,” the wand. “The diary I don’t have, but you knew about that one before didn’t you? And of course you can thank Pettigrew for your snake.” Harry finished.
Voldemort looked down at the ruined objects. Right now he was in shock, but that was already turning to rage, Harry felt the change occurring in his scar. He knew that it was now or never.
“Go,” he shouted to Ron and Hermione, who flung the door open and dashed out. Ginny followed, pulling Harry by the hand. He backed out of the house as quick as he could, keeping his wand pointed at Voldemort, just in case.
Two loud cracks rent the night air, and Harry knew Ron and Hermione had got away safe. He backed into the shadows, out of the door’s line of sight and thought about where he wanted to go, worrying that he wouldn’t be able to focus enough before Voldemort acted.
Ginny said nothing as Harry grabbed her arm tightly. He was trying fix his mind on a place far away from here. There was only one place that came to mind clearly. Harry focused on it and twisted as a shriek filled the night air. It was impossible to distinguish but the flash of green light was not.
It was pitch dark in the patch of trees when they appeared. Harry opened his eyes. He felt fine, but had a horrible sinking sensation in his gut. He was obviously fine, but he hadn’t been alone . . .
“Where are we?” Ginny asked, her knees trembling. Harry breathed a sigh of relief at her words. She was fine too. For a moment he had feared that they hadn’t actually missed that curse after all. “I feel like I’ve been here before.”
“You have,” Harry said, pulling Ginny out of the trees, and supporting her as they walked over a bridge and into a tiny village that was settled down to sleep for the evening.
“Godric’s Hollow?” Ginny asked, “Harry what are we doing here?”
“This is where it started for me, this is where I’m going to end it.” Harry replied. He hadn’t realized that until they were trying to get away from Voldemort on Spinner’s End. It was the only way that he was going to be able to finish Voldemort. He didn’t think that there was any other place on the planet where he would be able to do it.
Exactly what it was about this tiny village, Harry didn’t know, but he was certain that for things to be resolved they had to come full circle.