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The Riddle-Harry and the Riddle-Hermione were reflected in them, their hair swirling like

Flames, their eyes shining red, their voices lifted in an evil duet.

"Your mother confessed," sneered Riddle-Harry, while Riddle-Hermione jeered, "that she

would have preferred me as a son, would be glad to exchange..."

"Who wouldn't prefer him, what woman would take you, you are nothing, nothing,

nothing to him," crooned Riddle-Hermione, and she stretched like a snake and entwined

herself around Riddle-Harry, wrapping him in a close embrace: Their lips met.

On the ground in front of them, Ron's face filled with anguish. he raised the sword high,

His arms shaking.

"Do it, Ron!" Harry yelled.

Ron looked toward him, and Harry thought he saw a trace of scarlet in his eyes.

"Ron --?"

The sword flashed, plunged: Harry threw himself out of the way, there as a clang of metal

And a long, drawn-out scream. Harry whirled around, slipping in the snow, wand held

Ready to defend himself, but there was nothing to fight.

The monstrous versions of himself and Hermione were gone: There was only Ron,

Standing there with the sword held slackly in his hand, looking down at the shattered

Remains of the locket on the flat rock.

Slowly, Harry walked back to him, hardly knowing what to say or do. Ron was breathing

heavily: His eyes were no longer red at all, but their normal blue: they were also wet.

Harry stooped, pretending he had not seen, and picked up the broken Horcrux. Ron had

pierced the glass in both windows: Riddle's eyes were gone, and the stained silk lining of

The locket was smoking slightly. The thing that had lived in the Horcrux had vanished;

Torturing Ron had been its final act. The sword clanged as Ron dropped it. He had sunk to

His knees, his head in his arms. He was shaking, but not, Harry realized, from cold. Harry

Crammed the broken locket into his pocket, knelt down beside Ron, and placed a hand

Cautiously on his shoulder. He took it as a good sign that Ron did not throw it off.

"After you left," he said in a low voice, grateful for the fact that Ron's face was hidden,

"she cried for a week. Probably longer, only she didn't want me to see. There were loads

of nights when we never even spoke to each other. With you gone..."

He could not finish; it was now that Ron was here again that Harry fully realized how

Much his absence had cost them.

"She's like my sister," he went on. "I love her like a sister and I reckon that she feels the

same way about me. It's always been like that. I thought you knew."

Ron did not respond, but turned his face away from Harry and wiped his nose noisily on

his sleeve. Harry got to his feet again and walked to where Ron's enormous rucksack lay

Yards away, discarded as Ron had run toward the pool to save Harry from drowning. He

Hoisted it onto his own back and walked back to Ron, who clambered to his feet as Harry

Approached, eyes bloodshot but otherwise composed.

"I'm sorry," he said in a thick voice. "I'm sorry I left. I know I was a -- a --"

He looked around at the darkness, as if hoping a bad enough word would swoop down

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 825

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The sound of his name seemed to act like a stimulant. Ron swallowed, then still | Blame Ron for retreating several steps.
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