Chapter 24: Wipe Away the Last of Your Humanity
Purple flames flew from Voldemort’s wand. They lashed Dumbledore’s side and he cried out in surprise and pain. Voldemort’s manic laugh echoed off the high ceiling and the hall once again erupted with noise as fighting broke out.
‘Dumbledore! You’re losing your touch in your old age!’
Dumbledore’s face didn’t change as he sliced his wand through the air and shot jet after jet of blue light at Voldemort who blocked them easily and sent a killing curse back.
Dumbledore stepped to the side gracefully and did a full turn before sending back a blinding red spell with his wand pointed over his head.
Now Voldemort was forced to dodge and he jumped to the side just in time. The curse just missed his chest and he turned back to Dumbledore his eyes narrowing even further in fury.
Dumbledore widened his stance with his wand at the ready, preparing himself for the next attack.
Voldemort breathed fire that swept around like a snake and singed Professor Dumbledore’s long, silver beard. Dumbledore sent a jinx flying back and it hit Voldemort right in the stomach. His arms began to twitch and then his neck and his legs until his whole body was spasming like he was having a seizure.
He pointed his wand at his own chest and cried, ‘Seizi-off!’
Voldemort returned to the battle with renewed anger. Spells flew every which way and people all around me crumpled to the ground as they were hit with killing curses flying from Voldemort’s wand.
Dumbledore blocked the curses coming towards him and looked around frantically as Voldemort slaughtered people all around him. He was undiscerning. Death Eaters and students alike dropped like flies.
People’s cries of shock and grief rang through the space as their loved ones were killed right before their eyes and soon people were yelling in rage and despair; the noise was deafening. As I watched, I saw the Head Boy, Edward Lovett, collapse when a green spell from Voldemort’s wand hit him squarely in the chest.
A scream unlike any I had heard before split the chaotic uproar in half. A woman, a seventh year girl, ran as fast as she could to his side. She pushed people out of the way to get to him and just as she reached him and realised he was dead, she screeched again as if she were in physical pain herself.
A Death Eater she had disturbed as she pushed past took this valuable time, while she was vulnerable, to send a curse flying at her back and her scream was silenced swiftly as she collapsed on top of Edward. She coughed one last time and blood splattered onto Lovett’s shirt. The back of her nighty was soaked in blood and her blonde hair was red at the ends where it had touched her back. A stream of blood flowed from her mouth and down her chin. The light left her eyes and, staring straight ahead, her expression was still the same look of horror as when she had seen him die. A single tear squeezed itself out of her lifeless eye, cutting a trail through the blood and dropping off her chin onto the floor.
I sobbed in fear. What is going on? How can Voldemort kill all of these innocent people? Tears ran down my face in earnest.
As I surveyed the scene I realised that what I had seen was happening all over the corridor. People crouched over their loved ones, protecting their bodies as the Death Eaters closed in and tried to finish them off.
Voldemort’s face was a sick mixture between rage and joy as he swept his wand through the air, crumpling more people.
Dumbledore looked around and seemed to make a decision for himself as people started to run in to help. He pointed his wand in front of him, clutching it with both hands and a blue explosion sent everyone flying.
Voldemort was blasted backwards and landed on his back a few metres away.
It soon became apparent that Dumbledore’s spell had created an invisible barrier between the watching crowd and the battle. People bashed their hands against the invisible barrier trying to get through to help.
But Dumbledore hadn’t stopped to appreciate his work. He was on Voldemort before he could even think about getting up. Voldemort’s wand flew out of his hand and Dumbledore caught it.
I realised my legs didn’t hurt anymore and I nearly melted with the pleasure of the numbness the adrenalin had given me.
‘Are you going to kill me, Professor?’ Voldemort hissed from the ground. He leered at Dumbledore, trying in vain at some humour. He had propped himself up on his elbows. He smiled a twisted smile.
Dumbledore closed his eyes for a second and breathed in deeply. Then he opened them quickly as Voldemort spoke again.
‘You’re weak! Just like every single one of these useless people I killed. Weak!’ Voldemort taunted him.
‘A lack of the desire to kill is not weakness, Riddle.’
Dumbledore readied himself to strike when…
‘STOP!’ A high pitched scream came from my right. Everything fell silent. I craned my neck around the banister pinning me to the ground and saw Bellatrix Lestrange holding a struggling Professor Quirrell. A glint of silver caught my eye and with a jolt I realised that, having lost her wand in the battle, she was holding a knife to his throat. ‘DO IT AND EVERYONE DIES, DUMBLEDORE!’
Dumbledore looked around him and saw that the Death Eaters each had a person wrapped tightly in their arms. Bellatrix cackled menacingly. Every single Hogwarts student and teacher had a knife to their throat or a wand to their temple except for me, barely visible behind the chunk of banister.
‘Drop your wand!’ she yelled at Dumbledore.
Dumbledore sighed and dropped his wand. It made a loud clatter in the absolute silence that rang louder and louder each second.
Voldemort grinned and got to his feet.
Someone whimpered in the silence as the Death Eater’s grip tightened on their hair.
Glancing around, I found that Fabian Goff had a ragged looking man holding him by his blonde hair. The blade was pressing harder and harder into his neck and as I watched, a bead of blood formed under the knife and ran down to his collar bone, staining his shirt. He whimpered again softly.
‘The other one too, Dumbledore!’
Dumbledore dropped Voldemort’s wand and it made an equally disturbing noise in the loud silence. Voldemort bent and picked it up ever so slowly as if waiting for an attack.
‘Joel! Someone screamed across the dungeon. All attention was turned to Fabian and then to where he was looking. Joel Haeden’s Death Eater was pushing the knife further and further into Joel’s throat as he struggled.
‘That’s it!’ The Death Eater lost his temper and with one quick, practised, fluid motion he slit the young boy’s throat and let him collapse to the ground.
‘NO!’ Fabian shrieked. He struggled harder, yelled and sobbed but the Death Eater holding him pressed the knife harder against his throat too so he stopped but continued to cry silently and sob underneath his breath. Tears ran down his face and he mouthed silent words of desperation as he cried.
Tears blurred my own vision and I sniffed sadly, reaching down with my head to wipe my nose on the shoulder of my robes. That’s when I realised my arms were trapped too.
‘Surely that wasn’t necessary, Greyback?” Dumbledore asked but he didn’t mean it as a question. He was looking at the Death Eater with disdain and something else… was it… pity?
‘Now, tell the Dark Lord what he wishes to know or all of these people will be killed!’ Bellatrix screeched maliciously.
Dumbledore bowed his head in defeat.
‘No, Dumbledore! Don’t tell him! We’re not worth the whole Wizarding World!’ Someone yelled from the crowd.
There was a sickening slice and a gargle as blood poured out of their neck onto the floor. The last words spoken by that person were a protest against Voldemort. I swallowed as my mouth went dry. I pictured having my life flash before my eyes as my existence spilled out onto the marble floor.
My head was spinning and people were shouting from where they were held. More people were collapsing on the ground until a poka-dot pattern of blood decorated the floor.
Dumbledore held his hand up for silence. He sounded angrier than I had ever heard him when he spoke.
‘Very well, Tom,’ Dumbledore growled from deep in his chest. He slowly bent down and retrieved his wand. He kept his eyes and head pointed up at the crowd to see if they had made a move but no one spoke or did anything as he slowly stood up.
‘What are you doing?’ Voldemort yelled, his dark eyes widening in fear. He brandished his wand at Dumbledore. ‘Put it down!’
‘I need to put up a sound barrier, Tom. I will replace my wand on the ground when I am finished.’
Just tell him something fake! I willed.
Voldemort eyed Dumbledore warily but he didn’t say anything.
‘If you don’t tell Him the truth, Albus, He’ll find out and we’ll be back worse than ever. The more lies you tell, the more people die!’ Bellatrix warned.
‘Muffliato,’ Dumbledore muttered and pulled his wand slowly through the air in a large arc. A blue substance wove around the crowd. It created a soundproof, domed shield. I could see Bellatrix’s mouth moving but there was sound coming out. Wait a minute. Am I on the same side of the shield as Professor Dumbledore and Voldemort?
Dumbledore stared over Voldemort’s shoulder at me and winked subtly.
Dumbledore knows I can hear him? Why wouldn’t he do anything about it?
Dumbledore sighed as he eyed the watching people, their cries silenced by the existence of the barrier. His face looked worn and old.
‘The code, Dumbledore,’ Voldemort spat.
‘First, my terms.’
Voldemort chuckled. ‘Ahh the terms. Aren’t there always terms?’
‘Indeed there are, Tom.’ He nodded gravely. ‘I tell you the code to open the Pyramid, and everybody – and I mean everybody – walks out alive.’
‘There is no magic that can reawaken the dead, Dumbledore,’ Voldemort goaded. There was a knowing smile playing about his lips.
Dumbledore shook his head in dismay. ‘Of course not. But everybody in this Hall with a beating heart walks free?’
Voldemort sighed and shrugged. ‘Fine.’
‘Your word, Tom.’
‘My word?’ Voldemort raised his eyebrows and laughed a short laugh. ‘Ha.’ Then, fixing Dumbledore with a steely glare he said, ‘You have my word, Dumbledore.’
Dumbledore nodded and sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. ‘To open the pyramid you will need half an amethyst gemstone, a full, true pearl from the biggest clam in the deepest part of the ocean.’
Voldemort let out a girlish giggle that sent a shiver up and down my spine. ‘Is that it? They may as well just hand you a key.’
‘You will need a ruby soaked in the blood of your own fear,’ Dumbledore continued without showing any sign he had heard.
Voldemort looked confused and sceptical. ‘Fear? I don’t have fear,’ he scoffed. But even as he did his eyes widened in terror. ‘What about the code to break the curse surrounding the heart! I’m sure I will need a spell or something to become The Ruler!’
‘You will need to join an emerald and a piece of obsidian, the blackest stone there is, with an unbreakable piece of magic called… well… I’m sure you know, Tom.’
‘Oh please! Love?’ Voldemort laughed psychotically. He imitated Dumbledore’s voice and said, ‘Love can do anything. It’s the most indestructible source of power in the world. Honestly, spare me the lecture on how important love can be. I don’t want to hear it.’ Voldemort said forcefully. ‘Love is weakness!’
‘Love is strength,’ Dumbledore countered calmly. He looked at Voldemort with such pity on his lined face. ‘Love is power beyond anything you can imagine. I feel sure you’ll learn this someday.’
Voldemort laughed. ‘You have said the same thing over and over since I became powerful. Your prediction is yet to be supported.’
‘What happened to you, Tom?’ And for the first time that evening, Dumbledore looked sad. ‘You had such promise – such talent. Why did you throw that all away?’
I frowned, confused.
Voldemort smiled revealing a set of perfectly white teeth and ignored the Professor’s questions. ‘Dumbledore, I have no fear. How am I supposed to have… a ruby soaked in the blood of my own fear?’
Dumbledore smiled weakly. ‘Oh, I think I have upheld my end of the deal very well. You did not bargain for all of the world’s secrets. I’m sure you will work it out, Tom. Goodnight.’
Voldemort’s icy glare cut through the air like a knife. And just like that, in a whirl of black smoke and a dreadful rush of air, Voldemort was gone.