120 Chapter 120: Check

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16 March 1993, Hogwarts

Tom Riddle looked to be in his element, he was calm and collected, he had a small smirk on his face that indicated that he knew something that Harry didn't, that the end of the game was already preordained.

Harry finished observing his opponent and asked, "Is she dead?"

He was talking about the lying body of Hermione Granger, who didn't look like it was breathing at all, yet Harry could tell that she had a spark of life still left in her. It was odd, she was alive and dead at the same time.

The older boy's grin widened, "In a way. She was quite the host, I have to say. People seem to trust her. It was weird being in her body, recognized as being on the side of the angels. You should have seen the little Longbottom boy, running around like a headless chicken, trying to clear his name."

"Something that you orchestrated; I'm assuming."

"Every fairy tale has to have a good old-fashioned villain. You know, I always found that people do love their heroes, but what they love more, is tearing them down. Longbottom's fall from grace was almost too easy to arrange. You see, people don't really like heroes. Oh, they love to cheer them on as they save the day every time, but deep down, they don't want them to be real. They want heroes to fail because it would show them that they're not all that special. I heard that the hard way…"

Harry snorted, "The orphanage, I assume."

The older boy froze for a second but then, continued, "No. I learned that here. I wasn't always like this, you know. Have you ever seen a duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald? I have, in person. It was terrifying, to feel so small in front of them, like staring at some kind of divine beings of destruction. Because that's what they looked like, gods. I was still a student. I tried to form an organization, to see if we could stand up to them with unity, to unite the entire school to eject Dumbledore from his position. They accused me of raising an army. It was funny, people believed that it was more likely that I was doing that, than doing anything to help, so I ended up using other resources at my disposal. I became the villain society wanted me to be."

"The chamber of secrets…"

"Exactly. This was a treasure dove of information, and with it a way to force people to listen," Riddle froze for a second and shook his head, "But we're not here to talk about that. Have you figured it out yet, Potter? My plan?"

Harry stayed silent and Riddle asked, "How hard is it for you to say that you don't know?"

"I don't know," Harry responded flippantly while moving his rook.

"Oh, that clever," Riddle chuckled, "that's really clever. Speaking of clever, it's been nice, you know, that game of ours. It's a nice distraction from the boredom I have been feeling. You needed this; I can see it on your face. I'm sure you enjoyed it, having the challenge, having the enemy. You need me or you would have been stuck in your books, never leaving the library. You needed a challenge, and you got one in me. You're just like me, except that you're a lot more boring. You lack ambition. And you call yourself a Slytherin."

Seeing his opponent make a move, Harry thought for a moment before moving his knight and said, "Your body… Is it some kind of functional astral projection or is it a magical construct that houses your soul?"

The older boy grinned, "A magical construct. I'm glad you like it. It was very tricky to acquire."

Harry gasped as he understood what Riddle had done, "Hermione's soul is technically anchored to her body, but it's temporary isn't it, until your construct is stabilized. You moved her soul to the diary and you're using her body as a buffer as you create your new construct. The body thinks you're possessing it and casting a spell, which you technically are, but you're using her like a battery, and the moment it's over, you would have technically made yourself a fully functional independent body. You would detach yourself from her, let her body fully die. But there's something missing. This kind of soul magic is very sensitive. I don't know much about it, but I do know enough to say that this should have blown up in your face, but somehow, it's stable. How did you manage that without the drawbacks of forced soul possession?"

"I didn't. Hermione Granger willingly gave herself to me. It was a fair bargain."

"And what did you offer in return?" questioned the last Potter.

"I promised to create a world where everyone is safe, where everyone is happy. I promised her a world where she was still your friend, a world where she didn't abandon you. She still misses you, after all this time."

Harry stifled the guilt that was building in his gut and spoke up, "You created a world inside the diary, an illusion, a simulation of the life she desires."

"Yes, I created her an ideal world, where she would learn everything that she could learn, where she could practice magic."

"But it's not real," Harry protested.

"It's real enough for her…"

  The Potter scion had no way to refute that, "She would be dead."

"Not really, if you think about it. She would be alive in her little illusion, living in a play, in a utopia created just to suit her needs. Her soul would live on forever. Isn't that kinder than sticking her in a world filled with cruelty and death, a world that would discriminate against her just because of her lack of ancestry?"

Harry stayed silent for a good minute before stiffening in realization, "The ritual, that's what it is. You plan to do it for the whole castle, to stick them in your diary, in your makeshift world."

"I am offering a utopia and immortality for an entire generation of wizards and witches," Riddle stated.

"But how will your diary handle that many souls? It was made to handle a single shard, which you could stretch to a full one like Hermione's. But hundreds would overwhelm it quite easily."

Riddle smirked, "Do you know why the Hogwarts wards are considered impregnable? The official story is that it's powered by seven leylines that the founders harnessed very efficiently, but the scrolls I found here say differently. They say that the founders found a repository here, frozen from the age of the gods, that contained magical energy unlike anything they had seen before, a fragment of the magic of old, that they harnessed to create the miracle that is this castle. There is a reason this school is far more magical than it has any right to be. Slytherin passed on the way to channel the source of the school, enough to enchant a small diary into a true repository of souls." 

Harry didn't know how much of that was real, but Riddle was obviously holding something back about that repository of magic. But that wasn't important. He needed to figure out what his angle was because so far, his motivations just didn't make sense.

"No, for all your talk of altruism, you have something else in mind. Oh, that's brilliant. The magic they leave behind. Your victims, every student here would have their magic absorbed to sustain your new body. You can't regenerate magic, can you? So, you're using an overwhelming amount to take that into account. That's your goal, isn't it, to escape the diary permanently."

The older boy's smile widened even further, "This is why I like you so much. You can keep up with me. All my life, I've been looking for a distraction, someone to see the world like I am. And that's you. I've beaten you. And you know what, in the end, it was easy. I was almost tempted to wait until you're older enough to do anything, but you see, I'm not that patient. Fifty years in a diary is more than enough for me. Maybe you would have stood a chance here."

"And how exactly did you beat me?" Harry questioned.

"Really? It barely took more than a single month. You've been chasing me like a bloodhound and followed the exact path I paved for you. Do you think that I would have told you my plan if there was the slightest chance that you had to stop it? You're here because I want you here. My network is planting evidence in your dormitory. I took one of Lockhart's essays to learn your handwriting and have been writing a diary for a good week, your diary to be exact. They'll see the traces to the Undercroft, all the way to the opened chamber of secrets, to see the boy who lived finally dead and the bodies of a muggleborn and a Slytherin loner, who petrified his only friend because she found out he was the heir. At least, according to his diary, he has. The Potter name is tarnished forever, cursed as the end of his line, and you die with the legacy of being a monster. Dumbledore gets blamed for a Basilisk being in the castle on his watch and him not reporting it, and I get a new lease on life. See, you're beaten. Morgana, did you have to be so slow?"

"So, you're planning on killing me, then?" Harry questioned.

"Well, I can't have you stopping me in the future, so I kinda have to do it. And just like that, I beat you. I'll have to deal with the other ordinary people. And it turns out that you're ordinary, just like them. What a disappointment!"

Harry stood silent for a moment before answering, "I can still stop the ritual…"

"No, no, no," Riddle said while shaking his head disappointingly, "The ritual is outside of this room. And you can't leave without my permission. You're making this too easy. Now, I'm starting to doubt if you were ever a worthy rival. Maybe I just overestimated you in my head, because so far, you've done nothing but disappoint me."

"You still haven't considered my other variable. After all, I didn't really come to this place by myself, did I?"

The older boy looked puzzled for a second before giving Harry an incredulous look, "Longbottom? That's your plan? You think that failure can do anything?"

Harry snorted, "Longbottom alone, no, but he's not alone, is he? Have you wondered why your older self would attack the Longbottom family? It would have been easier to kidnap the boy after killing his parents and mould him into a political tool that would obey him. Lord Voldemort was many things, impulsive, irrational at times, but he was not stupid."

"Why then?"

"A prophecy. The dark lord would mark him as his equal, and he did. The scar on his forehead is proof enough…"

Riddle raised an eyebrow, "That's what you're relying on? Divination?"

"Prophecies are tricky things. They can be invalidated, of course, but if there's a chance they can be fulfilled, especially if it's already partially over, then the entire world would move so that this chance would be seized. And the prophecy states that only Lord Voldemort can kill Neville Longbottom."

"I am Lord Voldemort!!" Riddle exclaimed.

Harry shook his head, "No, you're not. You're not even a person. You're a diary, you will always be a diary. When Tom Riddle killed poor Myrtle, he was devastated. He hated himself, his cunning, his cleverness, the characteristics that made him open the chamber in the first place. When Tom Riddle used her death to make a Horcrux, he put a lot more of himself than he should have. The soul isn't quantifiable, not in the way people can perceive it at least, it's the combination of who a person is, and when he created the diary, to get him to cheat Death, he put away his empathy, his cunning, his controlled nature, a fragment of his personality that was so large, so deep, that it started to develop a sentience that became you."


Seeing a pressure point, Harry ignored him and continued, "Tom Riddle started to lose his personality, and became Voldemort. The process was slow of course, he had to forget the characteristics that he used to be. Making more Horcruxes sped up the process until he became the monster, he always feared he would be. He enchanted the diary, you to act as a weapon if he needed to get Dumbledore outside of his seat of power, and you had to obey. Your motivations are a lie…"

"That's wrong."

"Then tell me why you needed to open the Chamber of Secrets to perform your goal. You could have kidnapped the students in a day and readied the ritual. But you didn't, did you?" Harry asked with a pitying tone.

"I needed Dumbledore to leave the castle. His connection to the wards…"

"Then you could have changed the venue, get an older person to write in a diary and do your ritual in the ministry. There was nothing stopping you…"

The boy was stuck speechless, and Harry continued, "You never thought of it, did you? That's the problem. You were made to open the chamber of secrets, anything else is secondary. Your motivations, your goals are meaningless. They're not even your own."

Riddle had a furious look on his face. He stood up and started to pace, "This doesn't change anything. I won."

Harry kept giving him a pitying look, and the older boy snarled in response, "You hear that? I won!"

"Perhaps you did, but when you think about it, does your win even mean anything? Will you ever trust a single thought in your body to not be the programming that Voldemort planted in your head? You might have ensured that I lost, but you definitely did not win."

"The game is over, Potter!"

Before he could say anything, they both heard a loud banging. Harry's smirk widened, "Is it?"

It took less than a minute until a ragged boy entered the room with what looked like a bloody silver sword that was glowing faintly. Harry gave the boy a warm look, "Ah, you sure took your time, Longbottom."

He then turned to Riddle, "Are you still sure about your chances? Oh, and Knight takes rook, check."

The young Slytherin had a smug smile on his face. After all, his plan was still viable. He just needed to see what else Riddle had up his sleeve before going for the kill.


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I tend to upload drafts of early chapters on there to get people's opinions of them so you can read up to 20 chapters ahead as a bonus.

Thank you guys for your support in these hard times.

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