And from the Toil of Our Hands
A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1.
Hermione looked over at Harry, who gave her an unhappy nod. Ginny agreed with him. Now that Riddle knew, there was no point in not telling everybody. Hermione said, “Riddle discovered how to make himself immortal, so he didn’t die when his curse at Harry backfired. He made Horcruxes. Pieces of his soul, torn off by black magic and hidden in places like this.” She pulled out the cup. “Hufflepuff’s cup. And Tom Riddle’s diary. Professor Dumbledore figured it out and sent Harry off to destroy all of them before Riddle realized what Harry was doing. We got the last one a couple hours ago, and that was when Riddle figured out what Harry’s been up to.”
Professor McGonagall carefully said, “And so you need something as deadly as basilisk venom to destroy these Horcruxes?”
Hermione nodded. “Nothing else but things like that or Fiendfyre will do.”
Willow abruptly said, “Hand me the cup.”
“Hand me that cup! I can tell from here it’s got a chunk of anima or part of a soul in it. I guess this is what you were talking about Voldemort doing. Boy, what a pretentious name. The guy must be a real dork. Do all these evil overlords take correspondence courses from the same place about how to be a Big Bad? Wow, it’s got some nasty curses on it too.”
Professor McGonagall warned, “Young lady, that cup is bound to be extremely dangerous.”
Hermione said to Willow, “Right. That’s a Horcrux. You can’t destroy it without really dangerous magics, like basilisk venom or Fiendfyre, like I was saying.”
Professor McGonagall harrumphed, “And Miss Granger, how precisely do you know so much about these very dark arts?”
Hermione blushed, “I’ve been studying ever since Professor Dumbledore told Harry about the Horcruxes, and Harry told us.”
Professor McGonagall pursed her lips angrily, “And just where did you even get
books on these subj…” She stopped and turned to Willow. “Young lady! What do you think you’re doing?”
Willow put her hand over the cup and concentrated for several seconds. She whispered something powerful, and... ripped
something invisible off of it. The curse sizzled and erupted viciously in midair. Willow just nodded and said, “One lethal curse down, four to go…”
Ginny watched in shock. It took Willow under a minute to strip away all the curses and destroy the Horcrux – without using a wand or anything like the sword of Gryffindor. In the middle of the effort, a smoky form started to emerge from the cup. It looked like Willow, but with black hair and black eyes and black clothes and horrid black veins all over her face. Willow simply muttered under her breath, waved her hand, and the form disintegrated. Finally, Willow made a pulling gesture, and a ball of writhing blackness was yanked out of the cup. She captured the sphere in her right hand, whispered words that made the air waver, and squeezed
. The Horcrux collapsed like a soap bubble.
Willow finally looked up. “This was a really powerful artifact before, but I pretty much wrecked it. Sorry.” She handed the cup to Professor McGonagall, who looked utterly shocked.
Then she studied Harry for long seconds. “So that’s what that is. Eww, you’ve got a chunk of Voldy in you too, that’s nasty. I bet you can feel each other’s emotions and stuff.”
Harry turned white. “W-what?”
“It’s right there. Behind your scar,” Willow continued calmly, pointing at Harry’s forehead.
Harry choked, “It can’t be. I mean…”
Ginny jumped in, “It can’t be. I would’ve felt it if he was a Horcrux!”
Willow insisted, “No, it would be completely masked by his basic nature. You’d have to be able to read his aura to see it.”
Hermione gasped, “Of course! That’s it! That’s what Dumbledore knew that he wouldn’t tell Harry! That’s why Harry’s been able to feel what Riddle was feeling, and why he was able to see through Nagini’s eyes when Riddle possessed it, and why he had those headaches any time Riddle got near him!”
Ron asked, “Then how come Riddle was so dumb he never figured it out? I mean, he gave Harry that scar!”
Hermione said, “That’s probably just what happened. When Riddle tried an Avada Kedavra on Harry and Harry’s mum’s spell kicked in, what was left of Riddle’s soul was blasted out of his body. But his soul was already so damaged by all the times making Horcruxes that a chunk of it split off without him wanting it to. He had no idea it happened. And the only living thing left in that house was Harry, so the slice of soul lodged in him and made him an accidental Horcrux.”
Willow stepped forward. “Harry? Let me get that out of you.”
Harry nodded feverishly. “Yeah! As fast as you can! I don’t want a chunk of Riddle in me!”
Ginny stepped in front of Harry. “Are you sure
you can get it out without hurting him?”
Willow thought for a second. “Oh, I can definitely get it out without killing him or injuring him, but it’s probably gonna hurt no matter what I do, because you said it’s been living in him since he was a baby, so his body’s gotten used to it.”
Buffy whispered to Ginny, “Willow-babble. Get used to it.”
Harry said, “I don’t care if it hurts getting it out. Dumbledore would’ve taken it out if he could. So I figure that means no one else can get it out without killing me.”
Hermione suddenly gasped, “Oh, that’s it! I should have known!”
Willow stepped forward and put her small hands on Harry’s forehead. She said, “Just think about a blank room, all white everywhere…”
Ginny watched as Willow concentrated. Black tendrils started creeping from Harry’s forehead onto Willow’s fingers, then across the backs of her hands. The tendrils started getting thicker and wider. They started pulsing horrifically. They began to slide up Willow’s forearms.
Ginny watched in horror as Willow’s hair began to turn black. Willow’s green eyes became pools of solid blackness. Black veins began writhing across her face. Her skin began getting paler. She began looking like the horror that the Horcrux had shown only a minute ago.
“Gotcha!” Willow yanked her hand off Harry’s forehead, capturing a pulsing blackness in her fingers. The black hair and black eyes and black veins vanished as if they had never been there. And Ginny realized they hadn’t
been there. It had been an illusion.
Willow held the blackness up to her face and grinned, “Fooled you! Loser!” She squeezed, and the blackness exploded into tiny motes of gray light.
“Nice work, Will,” said Buffy.
Faith said, “Way ta go, Red. Ya prob’ly scared the crap outta our pals. You okay now?”
Willow and Harry both sank to their knees. Harry looked like he was in pain, but Willow looked like she was about to pass out. Willow looked up at Faith and gasped, “Five by five, F. Five by five.” Faith just laughed.
Ginny grabbed Harry, who looked like he was about to keel over. She asked, “Are you all right?”
He nodded shakily. “Anything’s… better… than… having… that… in my… head.”
Hermione said, “Harry, that’s it! That’s the prophecy. You being a Horcrux is
the prophecy! And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.
You couldn’t kill him for good when a chunk of him was in you. He couldn’t kill you without maybe killing himself. And Professor Dumbledore figured it out.”
Ron growled, “You mean Dumbledore sent Harry out to get killed by Riddle so Riddle would kill himself when he did it? And I liked that old nutter!”
Buffy muttered, “Wow, and I thought Travers was an asshole.”