Illustration by Crystal Rose
“I want to join you.” Harry said the phrase in Parseltongue so that none of the Death Eaters would understand it. The sheer look of shock and confusion on Voldemort’s face was amusing enough, almost as much as he anticipated it would be. Inside he felt a strange sense of confidence and superiority, something he hadn’t felt for a long time.
Voldemort was suspicious, of course. “What trickery is this?” he hissed back. The death eaters all looked at each other frightened, concocting theories as to what their master and his nemesis could possibly be conversing about in their strange snake-like speech.
“No trickery,” Harry assured him coolly. “Just a bit of advice. You don’t want to kill me.”
Voldemort sneered. “Aren’t you a little biased to be giving me that advice?” he asked.
“I can see your point,” Harry agreed. “Nevertheless, for someone who only has two out of eight Horcruxes remaining, I would suggest not doing anything rash.”
The dark wizard’s initial reaction was anger, confirming what he already suspected, that someone besides himself knew about the Horcruxes. He controlled his anger quickly, however, —unusual for him, Harry noted— and turned to his curiosity.
“If you know so much about the Horcruxes,” he whispered, as if the Death eaters could actually understand him. “Then you would know that eight is not the correct number.” He was avoiding saying exactly how many there were, probably to make Harry think there were more.
“Oh, there’s eight,” he assured him. “You thought there were seven, right?” Voldemort looked ready to have another fit of anger here but contained himself. “You made the other one… unknowingly,” Harry summarized. He placed his hand over his own, surprisingly calm heartbeat. “I’m your last Horcrux, Voldemort.”
The look of surprise and shock was even more impressive than his first one. “Do not mock me!” he hissed. “I am not so easily fooled!” He pointed the tip of his cold wand directly at Harry’s throat but did not utter the words of the curse that Harry knew he longed to. He was still hesitant, nervous that maybe, just maybe, what the boy said was true.
“Ask me to do something,” Harry suggested. “Anything you can think of to prove myself.” Voldemort pondered this for a moment and said with a serpent’s smile.
“Very well, Perform the killing curse.” Harry shrugged his shoulders. It was such a predictable challenge. His old self would have never raised a hand to kill, not even his worst enemy. He’d nearly gotten himself killed by disarming a death eater rather than using that curse, completely given himself away. This new self, however, had no qualms about taking a life…” Harry withdrew his wand and Voldemort kept his own pressed tightly against his neck. He wasn’t going to take any chance that the boy would use the curse on him. If Harry so much as tried to turn in Voldemort’s direction, he’d be dead.
“Anyone in particular?” Harry asked. Voldemort glanced over the array of still-terrified and confused faces in front of them.
“You’ve dueled most of them. Don’t take out anyone useful.” Harry nodded and pointed his wand at the first person who caught his eye. A short somewhat stupid-looking fellow who wasn’t even carrying a wand and looked about ready to wet himself.
“Avada Kedavra!” he said quickly. The green light flew and the group of death eater scattered quickly. Narcissa Malfoy let out a very childish-sounding scream. The man who had been the subject of his curse lay dead on the ground. He smiled confidently and put the wand away.
“Anything else?” he offered. “I’ll use it on one of the Hogwarts students, if you really want me to.”
There was a long pause before Voldemort answered him. The wand retreated a bit from his neck. “No,” he finally said. “No, I think that will be sufficient.” Neither of them moved, and finally Harry assumed he could face Voldemort again, being careful to make it clear his hands were not making any further moves for his wand..
“How did this happen?” Voldemort asked, now looking thoroughly fascinated. He might have been a child asking how a science experiment worked.
“I’m not sure myself, to be honest,” Harry admitted. “It happened the moment I found out… what I was. It was like something awakened in me. I felt powerful, confident, not the shrinking coward I was before. And I thought, What sense is there in fighting against the person I am destined to help keep alive? That is my purpose, it has been since you transformed me that night. It’s obvious.”
Voldemort nodded, stroking his long fingers on Nagini’s snout as he took all this in. Harry hoped he did not ask for more clarification, for he certainly had none. Both of them knew that Horcruxes were rare enough, and a human being becoming one, there was simply no precedent for it. Yet realizing he was such a human had changed his alliance completely, as if somehow he had been awakened from a long sleep. As the two of them stood silently watching each other, the huge serpent around Voldemort’s neck lifted its head in curiosity. It then began to slither down Voldemort’s arm, which the dark wizard stretched out to allow it better movement. It then did something neither of them had witnessed before. Nagini began to move from Voldemort’s hand towards Harry. Harry put his hand out and the neck began to coil itself around him, confirming him as its ally. The owner of the two Horcruxes seemed marvelously satisfied. “This changes things quite a bit,” he said, smiling. “We still have quite a bit of work to do ahead of us.”
Harry smiled. “Where do you suggest we begin?” he asked. Voldemort was holding his hand out expentantly before he even finished his sentence.
“Your arm, if you wouldn’t mind…” he said. He was speaking in a human’s voice again, as human as the dark wizard’s could be, so that every last Death Eater would understand. Harry did not mind at all and rolled up the sleeve on his left arm, exposing it to Voldemort’s readied wand.
It hurt a bit more than he expected, but the pain was strangely satisfying. Voldemort performed the spell without a word, as Harry watched the skin beneath the wand’s glow smoke and darken to form a black skull with a snake protruding from its toothy grin. He wore the Dark Mark well.