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Harry, Hagrid, Slughorn, and I sit at the massive kitchen table, which is strewn with empty wine bottles. Hagrid and Slughorn are feeling no pain, while Harry and I look clear-eyed, focused.

They continue singing. "To the place he'd known as a lad, They laid him to rest with his hat inside out and his wand snapped in two, which was sad..."

As they finish, both men chuckle. Hagrid tops off everyone's mug with a bit more wine. Harry and I bring our mugs to our laps, then slyly pour them into the bucket at his feet.

"I had 'im from an egg, yeh know. Tiny little thing he was when he hatched. No bigger'n a Pekinese."

"Sweet. I once had a fish. Francis. Lovely little thing. One day I came downstairs and he'd vanished. Poof." Slughorn tells him.

"Tha's odd."

"Isn't it? That's life, I suppose. One goes along and then... poof."


"Poof." Harry and I say in unison.

We all nod soberly. Slughorn's eyes rise to the ceiling.

"That's never unicorn hair, Hagrid?" Hagrid looks up, reels a bit. Nods. "But my dear chap, do you know how much that's worth?"

"No idea... no idea at all..." Hagrid's great shaggy head hits the table with a thunk. Instantly, he is snoring, so deeply his mug shimmies across the table. Slughorn smiles, regards Harry and I, who merely stare back.

Slughorn averts his eyes. Suddenly nervous. A wind rises outside. Windowpanes rattle.

"It was a student who gave me Francis. One spring afternoon I discovered a bowl upon my desk with a few inches of clear water. There was a flower petal floating upon the surface. As I watched, the petal sank, but just before it touched bottom... it transformed. Into a wee fish. It was beautiful magic, wondrous to behold. The petal had come from a lily." Hearing "lily," Harry and I look up. Slughorn nods.

"Your mother. The day I came downstairs, the day I found the bowl empty... was the day she..." Slughorn falters, pain etching his face. "I know what you both want. But I can't give it to you. It will ruin me..."

Harry studies Slughorn a moment, thinking, then speaks. "Do you know why we survived? The night we got these." Slughorn looks up, sees Harry and I pointing to our scars.

"Because of her." I continue. "Because she sacrificed herself. Because she refused to step aside. Because her love was more powerful than Voldemort."

"Please don't say his-" Slughorn tried to interrupt, but Harry interrupts him.

"We're not afraid of the name, Professor. And we're not afraid of him. And you shouldn't be either. She didn't just die for us that night. She died for you too. She died for everyone who's ever woken in the middle of the night afraid a Death Eater waited on their doorstep."

Slughorn gazes into the guttering candle before us.

"Professor. I'm going to tell you something, something others have only guessed at." I take in a deep breath. "It's true. We are the Chosen Ones."

Slughorn looks up. Harry and I both nod.

"Only we can kill him. But in order to do so, we need to know what Tom Riddle asked you that night in your office all those years ago. And we need to know what you told him." Harry tells him.

Slughorn's eyes well with tears, his hands tremble.

"Be brave, Professor. Be brave like our mother." I say softly. "Otherwise you disgrace her. Otherwise she died for nothing. Otherwise, the bowl remains empty forever."

Slughorn shakes his head, staring into the candle. Finally, slowly, he removes his wand.

"Don't think too badly of me once you've seen it. You don't know what he was like... even then." Slughorn fishes out a tiny vial, the one with the worm, but his hand is shaking so violently, Harry has to take it.

Slowly, Slughorn raises his wand, touches it to his temple and withdraws a long, silvery thread. Harry extends the vial and it drops within.

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