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Chapter Twenty-Nine
The Final Showdown

Tom Riddle.

The other boy raised one eyebrow delicately and looked at the Boy-Who-Lived in interest.

I see you have heard of me.

I like to think I know a little about you.

My, my, my reputation precedes me.

Not yet, Harry muttered, before speaking more loudly, That's as may be, but I'm not here to chat.  I've been captive here for two months; I think it's time for a little revenge.

Tom just smirked back.  Harry took the opportunity to mentally scan the room.  He quickly realised that Grindelwald was listening to the conversation intently, as was Dumbledore.  However, the injured headmaster was also inching his was towards his wand without the Dark wizards noticing.  Harry decided it was best to keep them distracted as long as possible.  He sent a quick mental message to someone he knew could help the professor while he was dealing with his opponents.

~Fawkes?  I need you here right now.  Dumbledore's injured, but I need him to be able to fight Grindelwald.  I can keep them both busy for a while, but I can't defeat both~

~I will be there soon, Master,~ the phoenix replied in a lilting tone.  

Tuning back into the situation around him, he saw Riddle starting to slowly advance on him.

I think that's far enough, Tom.  Tell me, I'm curious, why did you choose to be apprentice to a Dark Lord?  You could have done anything with your life.  You have brains, talent and power, so why waste it?

You think I'm wasting it? the young man scoffed, Just wait until my training is complete.  I will be as powerful as my master and together we will rule the world.  We will show everyone just who has the power.  Mudbloods and Muggles will perish, and the purebloods will govern!

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but you're only a half blood.  Doesn't that make you a hypocrite?

How do you know these things!  I have power, and I will destroy those with inferior bloodlines.  I am descended from Salazar Slytherin himself; no-one can beat me.

Really?  Well, I don't see how you can be high and mighty for being descended from a founder.  If I know my history, and trust me, I do, then Salazar Slytherin had no children while he was still at Hogwarts.

That is true.  My ancestor was born after he broke from the Muggle loving fools.

If that is the case, then where was his power?  At his final battle with Gryffindor, he was rendered powerless.  He had as much magic as a squib.  I see nothing to be proud of, Tom.

You lie!  He was the greatest of the Hogwarts four!

Nooooo, I believe the most powerful magically was my own ancestor, Lady Ravenclaw.

NO!  I have the power, and I will destroy you!

By this time Riddle was fuming with rage.  Harry was starting to see the insane rage Voldemort exhibited when his Death Eaters displeased him.  Glancing to one side, he saw Grindelwald watching the show, surprise etched on his face.  It seemed he had not expected the argument to go this far.  Harry also noticed Dumbledore had retrieved his wand and was preparing to strike.  Noticing the headmaster was severely injured, and would only end up getting himself killed, he sent a quick mental message.

~Professor, stay where you are.  Fawkes is on his way.  He will heal you, and then you can join the fight~

~Harry, are you sure you know what you are doing?  I mean, provoking Grindelwald's apprentice.  And how do you know so much about him?~

~He killed my parents, it's not the sort of thing you forget, or forgive.  I'll take care of him, while you take out Grindelwald.  You are destined for victory over the Dark Lord, and I am destined to face his apprentice now and in the future.  I cannot kill him, for that will change time, and no matter how much I want to, I cannot play God~

~I understand, Harry~

Just then, the throne room was filled with the sound of phoenix song.  Everyone looked up to the ceiling, where Fawkes was circling.  Grindelwald and Riddle drew their wands and prepared to strike the bird, but before they could do anything Harry waved his hand, and a dome of golden light appeared around him and his opponents.  Tom tried to send a Killing curse at Dumbledore, but it couldn't penetrate the shield.  Both he and his master turned to the younger boy, rage written in their features.

You will pay for that, boy.

I doubt it, Grindelwald.  I think it will be you who will be paying.

Harry took a fighting stance and started hurling curses and hexes at the pair opposite him.  Tom tried to hit him with the Cruciatus, but it was absorbed by the crystal around his neck.  The Slytherin's eyes widened in shock, and he stood frozen for a moment.  This was enough time for Harry to send a quick Impedimenta at him.  Harry was distracted, though, by a sudden flurry of movement outside of the dome.  When it had become apparent that their master was not easily winning, the ten guards who had been hiding in the throne room had emerged, and were heading for the Hogwarts headmaster.  Harry immediately started concentrating on their minds, sending pulses of energy into their heads and knocking them unconscious one by one.  Turning back to face Grindelwald, he looked over the Dark Lord's shoulder and through the dome, where Dumbledore was being healed by Fawkes.  Once his injuries had disappeared, the Headmaster stood up and turned to face Harry.  The boy nodded and created a distraction.

You know Grindelwald, you kept me here for two months.  You tortured me, and you tried to turn me evil.  But I didn't break.  It shows that I am a superior wizard to you.

NO-ONE IS SUPERIOR TO ME!

Really?  You couldn't break me.  I'm living proof that you failed.

I never fail.  I tortured you, and I offered you greatness.  You refused me, so it is you who failed.

Is that so?  If you are so great, how come you tortured me for two months, yet there isn't a scratch on me?  You thought a little anti-magic field would stop me?  Not even the most powerful can get around such wards.  Yet I did.  So that shows your wards were faulty.  Another weakness I can add to your growing collection.

I will not be beaten by a mere boy.

At this point Harry silently dropped the golden dome, allowing Dumbledore to enter.

How about by an old man then? the headmaster said from behind him.

Grindelwald whirled around and was met by Dumbledore's wand.  The pair immediately began to battle in earnest.  Harry turned around and looked at his frozen nemesis.  Waving his hand, he lifted the spell and placed a full body bind on Riddle.  He then started chanting quickly, feeling Simbi and Nirah shifting on his wrists.  Once the familiar energy had built in his palm, he threw it at the helpless Slytherin, breaking the body bind and throwing the boy to the ground.  He quickly raised his wand to wand off the advancing fifth year, and was shocked to find nothing happening.

How does it feel, Tom?  Being completely helpless in front of the big, bad wizard.  Imagine how your Muggle victims feel, as you torture and murder them.  This is what it feels like, seeing an angel of death, but unable to do anything about it.  Well, this is just something to think about as you go about your business.  And just remember, this is only temporary.  One day, I will meet you again, and make it much more permanent.

By this point, Tom was quickly crawling backwards across the floor to get away from the glowing figure.  A faint light, similar the one which had appeared at Christmas during the battle for the Muggles, was radiating from Harry's body.  He didn't seem to notice, though.  He suddenly sped up, and grabbed the wand from Tom's weak hand.  Grabbing each end in his fingers, he snapped it with a resounding crack.

You won't be needing a wand for a while, Tom.  Not until the spell wears off.  You'll have to get a new one now.  I believe Ollivander has one destined for you.  Oh and one more thing, Harry said as he grabbed Tom's arm, wrapping his hand tightly around his captive's inner left arm.

Morsmordre.

Tom's screams filled the throne room as the magic surged though Harry's palm, burning a black skull with a snake protruding from the mouth into the soft flesh of his arm.  When Harry released him, Tom scrambled back, holding his injured limb tightly to him, blanching when he saw what was there.

What have you done to me?

It's just a little souvenir.  It just proves who you belong to, who you will always belong to.  One day, we will meet, Tom Riddle, and I will emerge victorious.  Now leave, before I decide to finish you off.

Tom stood up and ran to the door, and just as he was leaving, Harry sent a burst of pain through the newly created mark.  Tom turned and stared at the boy in horror.  Harry smirked back at him.

I will never let you forget who owns you.  Never.  Until we meet again.

Tom turned and fled as Harry made his way to a convenient spot to help Dumbledore.  It wasn't necessary, though, as he had just whirled around to watch the fight when Dumbledore raised his wand at a reeling Grindelwald and yelled something Harry had never expected the headmaster to utter.

Avada Kedavra!

The green light hit the Dark Lord in the chest, and he fell to the floor, dead.  Harry walked up to his panting headmaster, a cheeky grin on his face.

And you called me an evil Dark wizard?  My, my, I never thought I'd see the day.

Well, it had to be done.  Just because I used a Dark spell to help the world, it doesn't make me evil, Dumbledore said as he stood up straight.

So we have an understanding?

That we do, Harry, that we do.

In that case, let's go home.

*~*~*

Once everyone was back in Domus Corvus Corax, Harry and Ginny let out a great sigh of relief.  Both were pleased to have their weapons and wands back again.  Dumbledore had given them the latter, and the former were found in a storeroom in Grindelwald's headquarters.  They, quite luckily, had stumbled across it while searching for prisoners.  Twelve other captives had been retrieved and brought back to the Order headquarters.  They were all a little worse for wear, but they would recover.

Once all of the former prisoners were settled, Harry and Ginny headed up to their rooms to clean up.  After a shower and a change of clothes each, they went back down to the ball room for an Order meeting.  Harry took his place next to Dumbledore and waited for everyone to arrive.  Once they were all seated, the headmaster stood up to speak.

Thank you, everyone, for coming.  I would like to congratulate everyone on a job well done.  The war with Grindelwald is finally over, and while the Darkness will never truly be gone, we now have a chance for peace.  Now, I'll hand you over to Harry Evans, our leader, who would like to say a few words.

Amidst cheers and applause, Harry stood up and smiled at the assembled witches, wizards, elves and ghosts.  He hadn't had chance to speak with his friends yet, but they had agreed to go back to Hogwarts after the meeting to discuss the last two months in Harry's room with Minh and Eustace.

Everyone, I also would like to congratulate you all on your success today, and over the last few months.  Your task has not been easy, but you have pulled it off magnificently.  I would especially like to commend Albus Dumbledore for his success as leader of the Order, as well as for defeating Grindelwald.  Our war is won.  We have played our part in history, and given the Muggle allies the opportunity they needed to defeat their own enemy.  Hitler, without the support of the Dark Lord, will lose organisation and power.  Tomorrow, June 6th 1944, British and American troops will invade Normandy.  If Grindelwald had not fallen, they would have been defeated.  As it is, they will push forward, the Russians advancing from the East, and Berlin will fall.  What we have achieved today is the salvation of not only our world, but the Muggle world as well.  Thank you.

As he took his seat, the entire Order stood, applauding him.  Embarrassed, Harry ducked his head as the cheering continued.  It had been a busy day and he wasn't expecting this.  When the noise died down, a wonderful meal appeared in front of the assembled crowd, and they all tucked in enthusiastically.

*~*~*

Later that evening, the four time travellers, Peeves, `Tea, Lolide and Gaerwyn all returned to Hogwarts.  They flooed straight into Harry's room, where Minh and Eustace were waiting.  As soon as Harry stepped out of the fireplace, he had two first years hurling themselves at him.  Pulling them close, he gave them each a firm hug before leading the group to the chairs by the fire.  Sitting down a comfortable silence descended on them for a few minutes, broken only when Ginny wanted to know what had happened to her brother and his girlfriend.

Ron, what happened in the camp?  I had a vision about your rescue, but I want to know what you had to live through.

Well, it was pretty awful, Gin.  Are you sure you want to hear about it?

Of course!  It can't have been any worse than what Harry and I went through.

True.  Alright then.  When we woke up after the Paris battle, we were in a holding centre.  That's where we met Yanika, the gypsy who helped in your rescue.  She joined the Order when we got rescued.  Anyway, the next day we were put on these really stuffy carriages and taken to the camp by train.  It was really bad in there, but it got worse when we got off the train.  We were separated immediately, and taken to different parts of the camp.

That must have been terrible.  At least Harry and I got to stay together most of the time.

Things went downhill from there, Gin.  We got put in these uniforms, had our heads shaved, and they put these tattoos on our arms.

Everyone gasped as Ron and Hermione lifted the sleeves of their robes, exposing the numbers branded forever into their flesh.

Can you remove them? Harry asked.

I'm afraid not, mate.  We asked Dumbledore about it.  Apparently they used permanent wizarding ink on all of the prisoners, provided by Grindelwald.  It was their way of ensuring that wizarding folk couldn't have them removed with magic.

That's terrible!

I know, Minh, but we have to live with it.  After the first few days at the camp, things started to settle down.  It was hell on earth, but we made sure we stuck to the rules as best we could to make sure we stayed alive.  I wasn't as bad off as `Mione.  She had to work in the crematorium, which was vile.  I just had to work on construction.  We survived, and we don't really want to remember it.  We'll move on with our lives now, but I guess we have a greater appreciation for people as a whole.  Some of those prisoners had been there for years, but they still had hope.  You have to admire them for that.  Call it a journey of self discovery.

And you two are going out now. Harry said with a smirk.

The two teenagers blushed and took each other's hands.  Everyone else just laughed.  It was Gaerwyn who asked the next obvious question.

Harry?  What happened to you and Ginny?

Well, there's a tale.  Unlike Ron and Hermione, we weren't separated.  We were put in a cell together for the first month and a half.  I was tortured, rather severely, and Ginny was made to watch.  Like you, there was an anti-magic field up, so we couldn't defend ourselves very well.  All I could do was gather intelligence through Simbi and Nirah.  They went out and found out all they could.

But Harry, why didn't you just get Simbi and Nirah to bite your captives?  You could have rendered them powerless.

`Mione, don't you think I thought of that?  It wasn't really an option.  Yet, Grindelwald's followers would have lost their magic, but as they couldn't use it anyway, they still could torture me.  And using the snakes would have revealed their presence.  Even if the wizards had left us alone, we were still locked in a cell.  All we would have achieved would be some annoyed Dark wizards, and no food or water.  Believe me, we thought of everything possible to escape, but we couldn't come up with anything.

I see your point.  So, what happened in the final battle?  Obviously, Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald, but what were you doing while he was doing that?

I was fighting his apprentice, who was none other than Tom Marvolo Riddle.

There was an audibly gasp from several people.  Hermione, Ron and Ginny because they recognised him as Lord Voldemort, Peeves because he had known the Slytherin from when he was in school.  Ginny recovered first.

What did you do with him?

Nothing much, Harry smirked, Insulted him a bit, duelled with him, sucked out his power, snapped his wand and put a Dark Mark on his arm.

WHAT!  Harry!  Why did you do all that?

Because, `Mione, I felt like exacting some revenge.  Anyway some of it was necessary.  I insulted him because I wanted to.  He's done enough damage to my life; I wanted to get my own back.  I duelled with him to keep him busy, and I sucked out his power temporarily to incapacitate him.  Snapping his wand was a tactical move.  You see, our wands share cores back home, and this is necessary for the events after the Triwizard Tournament.  Fawkes only gave the feathers for our wands to Mr. Ollivander at the first Order meeting, so I knew he had to get a new wand at some point.  This was the event that prompted him to get the wand that will some day kill my parents, and not be able to duel with mine.  It's a bit hard to get your head around, but I had a lot of time to think in that cell, especially after I got separated from Ginny.

What about the Dark Mark?  What was that for? Ron asked his friend.

That also serves a purpose.  The Dark Mark is a powerful and ancient magic, lost for centuries.  Except in my parseltongue book.  The way I figure it, I gave Tom Riddle the Mark, so he now knows the incantation, and will know to use it on his followers.  Plus, I can send bouts of intense pain along the connection.  It'll give me pleasure to know my parents' killer is writhing in agony.

I didn't know you had a sadistic side, Harry.

Well, `Tea, I don't show it much.

You mentioned being separated from Ginny.  What was that about? Eustace asked.

Grindelwald thought that separating me from Ginny would break me.  He wanted me to join him, to help him to take over the world.  He put me in isolation to break me.  I wasn't even tortured during that period, just left alone with my injuries.  Luckily, I found a loophole in the anti-magic field.  It didn't cover non-human healing magic, so I used elven healing methods to sort out my injuries.  I have some pretty bad scars, especially on my back where they peeled the skin off.

Harry lifted his shirt and showed the room his back, which was a mass of scars.  The rest of the group gasped in horror.

Harry, how did you get through that?  It would have broken me, Lolide whispered.

I'm actually pleased it happened in a way.

The room fell silent as everyone gave the boy incredulous looks.  They were starting to think the torture had driven him a little mad.  Before anyone could question his sanity and call St. Mungo's psychiatric unit, Harry hastily explained.

Not that I enjoyed it, not by a long way.  But I feel it helped me discover something important about myself.  All of these years, I have lived through so much, survived against unbeatable odds and come out unscathed.  Over the last two years, my powers have grown; I have become older and wiser.  I have so much knowledge in my head, of both Light and Dark Magic, and I just discovered my telepathy.  I was starting to believe the rumours that I was unbeatable, immortal, and a hero.  It was starting to go to my head.  But my experience over that last few months has grounded me, and taught me an important lesson.

And what's that? `Tea asked nervously.

That I'm only human.

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