Harry didn’t think it was a good idea to chase Draco, given the state of things. The other boy would likely as not attack him if he tried, and that would definitely not help the situation. So he decided to give Draco some time to come to terms with the day’s events before attempting to confront him in hopes of explaining himself.

Draco, however, never showed for lunch or dinner, and Harry was left to fret about the state of things. He’d tried looking for the boy on the Marauder’s map, but it was of no help. Draco was either in the Slytherin common room, or the Room of Requirement, and neither place was somewhere Harry could go to set things right. Harry tried to get his mind off of the whole mess by playing wizard’s chess with Ron, but he lost several games in a row before finally calling it quits.

Draco didn’t show his face on Sunday either, leaving Harry with the feeble hope of pulling the other boy aside before or after class on Monday. Harry spent the day sulking, huddled in his favorite chair by the fire and surrounded by his friends. Ginny sat against the side of his chair as there were no available seats close to the fire. She and Hermione shared a concerned look that Harry caught but ignored. He didn’t doubt one or the other of them would start asking questions, but he had no answers to give them.

Sure enough. “Harry,” Hermione said quietly. “Are you alright? You seem a bit…” She trailed off, making a vague gesture.

Burrowing further into his seat, he sighed. “‘M fine, ‘Mione. Just have a lot on my mind.”

“Slughorn?” she asked.

Harry latched on to that as an explanation for his mood and nodded. “Yeah, I still haven’t…” He blinked, then sat bolt upright, remembering the flash of insight he’d had the day Ron got poisoned. “Felix Felicis, I forgot!”

Ron, Hermione, and Ginny shared startled looks. Hermione was the first to catch on. Closing the book she’d been reading, she grinned. “Of course, Harry! That’s brilliant! Slughorn’s sure to tell you everything if you use that.”

Harry grinned, then shot out of his chair and ran up to the dormitory to search for the vial. He found it tucked away in the corner of his trunk and opened the vial. The others had followed him up and were watching him cautiously. Taking a deep breath, he nodded to them, then took a sip of the elixir and stoppered the vial again. There wasn’t much left, but he didn’t feel right tossing it away, so he placed it carefully back in his trunk.

“How’d you feel, Harry?” Hermione asked.

“Brilliant,” he answered, grinning. Clapping his hands together, he ushered them all out the door. “Right you lot, I’m off. Think I’ll head to Hagrid’s.”

“But Harry,” Ginny and Hermione exclaimed.

Harry waved them off. “Don’t worry, I feel really good about this. Hagrid’s the place to be, I’m sure of it. See you later!”

He stepped through the portrait hole, leaving his flabbergasted friends behind. Harry knew exactly what to do. He would get Slughorn’s memory from him and go visit Dumbledore. Then he would tell the Professor everything he knew. Well, almost everything.

Luck was indeed with Harry that night, as he ran across Professor Slughorn on his way to Hagrid’s. He’d actually caught the man trying to steal venomous tentacula leaves from the greenhouses, which Harry found quite amusing. Slughorn followed Harry to Hagrid’s, where they found the big man crying over Aragog’s body. Harry was strangely bemused by the goings on as he watched Professor Slughorn’s eulogy to the king of spiders, followed by the ‘wake’ at Hagrid’s.

It was surprisingly simple in the end, really, getting Slughorn to hand over his true memory of Riddle. Harry held the vial in his hand as he made his way back to the castle. He knew that this was the last key to whatever it was Dumbledore had been after in order to fight Riddle, but he was also aware that he could use it to gain favor with the Headmaster.

Harry made his way up to Dumbledore’s office and knocked on his door. At Dumbledore’s, “Enter,” Harry opened the door cautiously and stepped inside. “Ah, Harry my boy, I take it you have managed to convince Horrace to part with his memory?” Dumbledore said with a small smile of satisfaction as he steepled his fingers.

“Yes, sir,” Harry said, handing the vial over to the Professor, who poured the contents into the pensieve. They watched the original memory in silence, then Dumbledore stumbled a few paces before sitting down on the steps by his desk. He looked as stunned as Harry felt. Voldemort had split his soul? Not once, but seven times over? It was unfathomable to Harry.

“What are they, sir?” Harry asked, wondering just what could even hold a soul fragment.

Dumbledore gathered himself , both physically and mentally as he explained. “They can be anything. The most commonplace of objects.” Reaching his desk, he pulled a couple of items from a drawer and tossed them onto the desk. “A ring. A diary.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “Tom Riddle’s diary was a Horcrux?” Did Lucius know? Harry shuddered.

Dumbledore went on to explain further, that he’d been hunting Horcruxes during his absences from school. With a sigh, he finished with a wan smile. “I cannot destroy this one on my own. Once more, I must ask too much of you, Harry.”

Right, Harry thought. Swallowing hard, he nodded. If it meant getting rid of Voldemort for good, he would do whatever he could.

Dumbledore smiled, patting Harry’s arm. “You’re a brave man, Harry. I shall send for you when it is time. Now, it’s late. You’d best be off to bed,” he said, starting toward the door to see Harry out.

Harry nodded, then frowned. “Sir?”

“Yes, Harry?” Dumbledore turned to him with an air of mild curiosity.

Taking a deep breath, Harry steeled himself. He had to do this. Had to at least try for Draco’s sake. “As you know, sir, someone’s been trying to kill you.” Dumbledore nodded, but remained silent so Harry went on. “I know who, sir, and why.”

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows in apparent surprise and gestured for Harry to take a seat by the fire. “Go on,” he encouraged.

Sitting down, Harry leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees as he clasped his hands. Leveling his gaze with the Professor’s, Harry told him all he knew, leaving out just how he’d come by this knowledge.

When he was done, Dumbledore sat and watched him quietly for a moment, his hands steepled under his chin. “I see,” he murmured. “And just how did you discover all of this, might I ask?”

Harry shook his head. “I’m sorry, sir, I can’t tell you. I was told in the strictest confidence by a reliable source and I can’t break their trust. I’m sure you understand,” Harry added pointedly. After all, the Headmaster himself often required people to take him upon his word. This time, it would be his turn to put his faith in Harry.

Dumbledore scrutinized Harry for what felt like hours but lasted mere minutes. Finally, the man nodded. “Very well. What did you have in mind?”

Clearing his throat, Harry briefly let his eyes roam around the room before focusing on the Headmaster once more. “Well, sir, I was thinking.”