Chapter 34

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Harry had his arms crossed on the table and his head rested between them. Who would have thought that he would end up here again? The portraits were conversing more like arguing over some nominal matter and that combined with the sounds of whirring emanating from Dumbledore's silver trinkets was beginning to give him a headache. Where was the old man anyway?

Harry felt his mind wandering back to Voldemort and the ministry. Would Voldemort have arrived by now? Had Dumbledore taken over the ministry? All he knew was that he had been brought and dumped here unceremoniously by Mad Eye Moody and the man had immediately vanished afterwards. Harry hated not knowing and he was hating it more now. He rose to his feet once again and began pacing Dumbledore's office. He had tried the door thrice now and every single time he had found it locked. He had tried the fireplace as well, which seemed like it had been blocked. This reminded him of the last time he had been here and it only served to fuel the hate that he felt towards Dumbledore. He was itching to destroy something, anything, just like last time. But, no, he would have to restrain the urge.

Being a sentimental fool would not get him anywhere. He needed to keep a level head. Playing nice with Dumbledore was the only thing that would get him out of here. He was going to hate it. More than that, he was going to hate himself. Sirius had died because of Dumbledore. If only Dumbledore had told him about the prophecy earlier, if only he had talked to him, supported him instead of ignoring him like an errant child.

Harry coughed and covered his mouth with his hand. He was glad that the portraits were leaving him alone. They were observing him but so far, they hadn't attempted to address him which was perfect because Harry was fairly certain that he would shout at them. Harry walked over to the golden post and saw a featherless baby Fawkes in the ash tray. He made his way to the Pensieve and observed the shelves full of memories. He felt curiosity burn through him and grabbed one, that seemed out of place, and poured its contents into the Pensieve, where they swirled and shimmered, neither liquid nor gas.

Harry bent forwards, took a deep breath, and plunged his face into the silvery substance. He felt his feet leave the office floor; he was falling, falling, through whirling darkness and then, quite suddenly, he was blinking in dazzling sunlight.

Harry spent the next few minutes, watching the memory, listening to the conversations and eyeing the characters with disbelief. Once the memory ended, he was soaring weightlessly through darkness, until he landed squarely on his feet, back in Dumbledore's now twilit office.

His mind was whirling, spinning out of control. It didn't take him long to put two and two together. That had been Voldemort's family. Some pieces were missing but he had no doubt about the fact that the girl with the lank, dull hair and plain, pale, rather heavy face had been Voldemort's mother. He slumped back in the chair and closed his eyes to rearrange the facts. She had looked so defeated. Harry nearly saw himself in her. Wasn't this how he had been treated by his muggle relatives? No, she had been treated far worse. And Tom…Tom Riddle had been every bit as handsome as Voldemort, maybe, even identical. His father. He had been his father. He needed to know more. Merope had survived and it was obvious that she had fancied Tom. How had they gotten together? How had they even gotten married?

What was Dumbledore even doing with that memory? The old man had no right to pry on other people's past. Harry had no doubt that he had been looking for a weakness, something to attack Voldemort with. There had to be more memories like this here. Maybe he ought to warn Voldemort. He had half a mind to steal them but the portraits were watching him and Dumbledore would certainly notice an empty memory cabinet. Why was he even thinking about his well-being? Hadn't he vowed to never return to him again? His heart was aching because Voldemort's pained expression kept flashing in front of his eyes. And now all this. He felt as if he owed Voldemort something for all the pain that he had caused with his words. Maybe this knowledge would settle the score.

He cursed himself. The last time he had been in this office, he had vowed not to feel. Dumbledore had termed it as his greatest strength but it had only been his greatest weakness, one that Dumbledore had exploited to the maximum. Harry rested his forehead against the wooden surface of the table. He had vowed not to return and here he was again. Somehow, he had managed to beak every vow that he had made to himself. His heart was bursting with pain and emotions and he was locked in Dumbledore's bloody office again.

He sighed, drew in a deep breath and began prioritizing his current goals in his head. His priority was to find out what had happened at the Ministry. Then, he had to get out of this office and this castle as soon as possible. Lastly, he had to return to Voldemort and warn him about the memories. Harry saw too many loopholes in his strategy. The major one being that he didn't know what Dumbledore had planned for him. What if Dumbledore decided to lock him away somewhere or better yet kill him?

Well he was definitely not going to die at Dumbledore's hands and as far as being locked up was concerned, he was confident that he could talk Dumbledore out of it. All he needed was to act like the victim and convince Dumbledore that he had been working for him all along. He had all the evidence to prove it as well, the biggest one being the interview if it still managed to get published.

He remembered the past five years and all his interactions with Dumbledore. Damn, he had been such a fool. He had played right into Dumbledore's hands at every occasion and his own obedience and naivety was beginning to disgust him.

The empty fireplace burst into emerald green flame, making Harry leap away from the door, staring at the man spinning inside the grate. As Dumbledore's tall form unfolded itself from the fire and made its way towards him, Harry rose to his feet and steeled himself. He wasn't naïve anymore. Things had changed. He had changed.

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