Harry apparated to the edge of the forest skirting Hogwarts grounds. He knew, given time, he could break the spells that prevented entrance to Hogwarts but he didn't have the luxury of time. He knew that Voldemort thought Dumbledore's Porcrux lost in the forest and would expect him to enter there. As he considered the thought, Harry marveled at Voldemort's access to the scenes he had pushed through his mind. "Where did he get that information? It appears that we do have a spy in our midst. That will have to be dealt with." Refocusing on the plan taking shape in his mind, Harry raised his wand and summoned the school broom he had left guarded by the bowtruckle. During the minute it took for the broom to arrive, Harry pulled out his Chocolate Frog cards and updated Dumbledore on the situation at the Blue Lyon Flour Mill, closing with the admonishment to tell the others to hold their places until he returned. Checking his dissociate lines, Harry saw that the teams were waiting patiently but that Ron was being harassed and tortured in the mill. Relief flooded into Harry, "Ron can't be the spy! Voldemort wouldn't torture his own without purpose!" Lidding the guilt he felt at Ron's pain, Harry sectioned off the distracting dissociate lines, grabbed the now waiting broom and rocketed into the forest.

As he sped through the forest, he noticed the broom seemed to understand the urgency of the moment and gave him no trouble. When he cleared the forest edge, he made his way directly to the castle's huge oak front doors. The doors were shut and locked. Harry had hoped for a mistake. He understood there was no reason for the staff to leave the castle doors unlocked during holiday, and he knew McGonagall well enough to see how security-minded she had become. Harry considered his earlier success at skirting the castle doors by elfin spectra, but he knew how it had weakened him.

"Back through the Chamber of Secrets then," concluded Harry. Inwardly thankful that he had previously had the leisure of time to determine a route and method of access to the castle, but fussed that he hadn't learned of Ron's access to the castle through the Quidditch field, Harry made his way to the lake and preformed his version of the Bubble-Head Charm. As soon as he and the broom were enveloped in a transparent bubble, Harry plunged into the lake and headed for the familiar drainpipe at the bottom. It took only a scant minute to locate the pipe and begin his upward journey through the dark water.

Harry splashed free of the huge pipe at the junction and immediately chose the connecting pipe that led to the girl's bathroom on the second floor. As he zoomed up the pipe, he ended the bubble charm and spoke the Parseltounge words he knew would open the top of the pipe. Exiting the pipe in the bathroom, Harry stayed on the broom, disillusioned himself and headed for the Headmistress's office. He planned his next step as he flew up the corridors and stairways at breakneck speed. In what seemed only a moment he found himself at the stone gargoyle. He reversed the disillusionment charm, presented the password, and scrambled up the moving stair. Here Harry paused for the briefest time as he was confronted with a mirr panel. He took his wand, double-checked that it was indeed his, and activated the pass sequence. Withdrawing his hand as soon as he heard the lock click, he pushed his way into the office.

Harry knew he had a monumental task ahead of him. Not only was the magic daunting, talking Dumbledore and Nigellus into the scheme could prove difficult. Directing his comments to Dumbledore's Porcrux and registering the precious minutes passing by, he launched into an explanation of his plan. It took five minutes to outline the details.

"Harry," Dumbledore began, "your plan is a most risky one. It is risky to you, it is risky to me, and most of all it is risky to the entire wizarding world. There are many things that could go wrong. You could be injured or killed performing the magic. I hate to be self-centred but my Porcrux could be damaged beyond retrieval, and there is the very great likelihood that Voldemort will not live up to his bargain. If he were to suspect..."

Harry cut him off. "I know the risks. I have weighed them. I don't see a chance for another opportunity like this. At this moment Ron is paying the price for my hesitation. I recognize the huge cost and the danger to all involved. I am not acting capriciously. I am willing to take my chances, are you?" Harry looked deep into the eyes he had come to know and respect, and waited for an answer.

"I suppose," said the Porcrux, "you could take what you want without my blessing or cooperation."

"Yes, I suppose I could," said Harry. "You have seen to it that I have developed certain skills. You banked on my ability to use them wisely."

"Very well, I concur. Be advised however, that as soon as you perform the magic, you will lose the ability to communicate through my portrait and Chocolate Frog cards. If left long, the magic will become permanent, irreversible. I admire your ultimate goal but I must ask you again, are you willing to chance this monumental risk?" The Porcrux ceased speaking.

As some of the Headmasters and Headmistresses started to understand the possible consequences of Harry's plan, there was a general tumult from the surrounding portraits. Hue and cry against Harry and his choice of action were almost unanimous. To Harry's surprise it was Phineas Nigellus Black that called the other portraits to order. "I see Potter is finally acting like a true Slytherin. He is willing to go to any means to achieve his ends, even placing his best friends and a revered teacher's tenuous existence on the line. Well done Potter."

Nigellus' words of praise almost caused Harry to reconsider his course of action. "If Nigellus approves, should I be more circumspect?" wondered Harry. Putting the distracting thought aside and steeling his resolved, he turned to Dumbledore's portrait and stated flatly, "Yes, I am willing to risk this, and as much as I hate to admit it, Headmaster Black is the one who taught me to capitalize on an enemy's weakness or mistake. I intend to defeat Voldemort, today if possible, regardless of the cost."

"Here, here!" said Nigellus a tinge of admiration in his voice. "Give the blackguard a twist for The Most Noble House of Black!"

With no further discussion, Harry set to work. He conjured the willy table and chairs, levitated several delicate instruments from the spindle-legged tables, opened the bookcase that had held Dumbledore's willy and retrieved the empty willy orb, retrieved and opened the sealed box that had been on the Headmaster's desk, and then seated himself at the table. The actions had the air of practiced, though hurried, efficiency. Harry then turned his attention to Dumbledore's Porcrux. "I fully recognize the danger in my decision, and I want you to know that if anything goes badly, I loved you like a father."

Dumbledore's eyes misted and he inclined his head.

With that assent, and following Nigellus' instructions, Harry launched into the most difficult and dangerous magic of his young life. Viewed from outside, the Headmaster's tower windows showed flashes of lightning and rainbow colours. At length, the windows went dark. The deed was done. Harry, sweating profusely, held in his shaking hands the crucible containing the remainder of the soul that would determine the future of all creatures on Earth.

He sealed the crucible inside its tight-fitting case, then carefully stowed several artifacts and a glowing willy globe back inside the hidden cupboard. He then sealed the cupboard with his own, intricate spell. Turning he noted remorsefully the darkened portrait frame that had once been Albus Dumbledore's Porcrux. Taking no time for recrimination, Harry gathered his necessaries and strode to the broom cupboard. "No time for dally," thought Harry as he opened the cupboard and selected the Firebolt, "straight off the castle grounds and back to Voldemort."

As he contemplated the task immediately ahead, Harry prepared his mind for the possibilities and sped on into the darkening evening sky.

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