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He’d been on the run since less than an hour after he and Snape had disapparated from the borders of Hogwarts. Even though the task that had been set before him had ultimately been achieved, he had not been the one to achieve it. He had failed, and The Dark Lord had called for his head before he’d even escaped the school grounds. Since then, he’d never stayed in one place for more than a week. He was currently sleeping in an abandoned house in the village of Staining, outside the city of Blackpool. He’d been here for 3 days now, and knew that he must set out again when he awoke. His only thought was that he must get to Azkaban. If he could get there and free his father, one of two things would happen – either this noble act would allow The Dark Lord to forgive his weakness on the Astronomy Tower, or if it didn’t, at least his father would be there to protect him, and they would go on the run together. He knew that at best it was an extremely flimsy plan, with both potential outcomes highly unlikely, but it was the only plan he had. He had only the vaguest notion of where Azkaban was: somewhere in the North Sea. He wasn’t yet comfortable apparating on his own, his Nimbus 2001 was still at Hogwarts, and the Floo network was of course being watched, so his only option was to walk. He’d been walking from Spinner’s End ever since Snape had apparated with him there. And he still had a very long way to go. …
Draco Malfoy awoke with a start. The disorientation that came with sleeping somewhere new every few days quickly evaporated, and he looked around to try to find the source of the sound that had awoken him. “Draco…” a voice whispered from outside the house. “Are you in there?” “M…mother?!” “Yes son, it’s me. I’ve come to take you home.” He got up from the cot on the floor that he’d been sleeping on. “Take me home…? I don’t understand.” The front door of the house opened and Narcissa Malfoy stood in the entrance. She observed her son silently for a moment. Then, with a hint of sadness in her voice, she said “Your hesitancy has cost us dearly son.” Draco said “That is why I am running of course. How did you find me?” Narcissa sighed. “That’s really not important now is it?” “It is to me. If you can find me, surely He…” Her anger flared up. “ ‘He’ has known where you were this whole time, my foolish arrogant son. Don’t think for one second that He couldn’t have killed you whenever He wished. Where do you think you were going anyway? Where on earth did you think you could escape His gaze?” “To Azkaban. I’m going to break Father free. If anything can save my life, it is that.” Narcissa’s lip quivered, and a single tear spilled down her cheek. “Your father is dead.” Draco stood in shock for a moment. “No… no… I’ve been reading the Prophet. It would have been mentioned…..” “The Prophet has more important things to report on at the moment. Your father was killed because of your error. And it is time for you to pay the price as well.” As she reached for her wand, 3 more tears spilled down her cheek. Draco’s mouth fell open, as he stared back and forth from the wand to her miserable face. “You… you killed Father.” It wasn’t a question. She either didn’t hear this, or ignored it. “Forgive me Draco. Another loyalty test from The Dark Lord, you see. It was either this, or he’d kill us both himself.” Draco’s mouth slowly closed, and he discovered he had some tears of his own to shed. Under his breath, he muttered “I hope Harry finds him…”
Narcissa’s own shock at hearing this was enough to make her wand dip down momentarily. “What did you just say?” she shrieked. At the end of his life, Draco discovered a well of courage inside of him that he’d heretofore never known existed. “I SAID I HOPE HARRY POTTER FINDS YOUR MASTER AND KILLS HIM! I HOPE HE FINDS YOU SOON AFTERWARDS…” Narcissa had heard enough. “AVADA KEDAVRA!!” Draco’s last thought before the green light hit him in his chest was “Harry… I’m so sorry…” ... Narcissa walked slowly out of the house. She felt as if she might faint, but The Dark Lord was waiting for confirmation that his will had been carried out, and she would not keep him waiting. Dazedly, she turned back to look at the house, and pointed her wand up in to the air. “Morsmordre!” With the Dark Mark now in place over the house, Narcissa apparated back to The Dark Lord’s side. Minutes later and many miles to the south, Harry Potter awoke with a start. His scar was prickling painfully. Wherever he was, Voldemort was pleased about something, and for the first time in over a year, he had not tried to conceal it from Harry.
Excerpt – THE DAILY PROPHET August 7th, 1997 – Front page story
HARRY POTTER STILL MISSING By Rhiannon Skeeter It has been over 3 weeks since Harry Potter, better known to the world at large as The Boy Who Lived, or more recently, The Chosen One, has been seen alive. He was last seen attending the Weasley – Delacour wedding in Salisbury, in the first week of July, where it is rumored that several alleged Death Eaters were in attendance in disguise. Ministry officials have declined to comment on this last bit of information, though we were able to get a few words from one of them on the disappearance of Mr. Potter alone, under the condition of anonymnity. “Master Potter has stated quite clearly on several occasions that he does not enjoy publicity, and never has. It is my opinion that he has simply gone into hiding to enjoy some privacy while he can. He’ll be starting school again in the fall I’m sure you know, and we all know how little privacy he gets there.” Owls to Harry’s muggle relatives in Little Whinging went unanswered. Minerva McGonagall, newly appointed headmistress of Hogwarts, had this to say on the matter(continued on page 3)
Excerpt – THE DAILY PROPHET September 9th, 1997 – Front page story HARRY POTTER PRESUMED DEAD By Rhiannon Skeeter In a press conference rife with tension this morning, Rufus Scrimgeour, minister of magic, announced that they had received evidence which would suggest that The Boy Who Lived is no longer alive. When pressed to divulge what this evidence was, Scrimgeour would only say that it was
compelling enough that they would be calling off all searches in England & Scotland for Potter’s whereabouts. Since the end of June, the ministry has had teams of wizards searching some of the more remote areas of the country, in case there was truth to the notion that Potter had simply gone in to hiding. This has been a most controversial decision, as many witches & wizards believe that the ministry could be putting their resources to better use. These teams of wizards will presumably be put back to work on the investigation into You-Know-Who’s current location. We caught up with one of Harry’s classmates, Ron Weasley, after the conference. “We’re not giving up,” said Ron. “I don’t care if I have to search every inch of this planet myself. Until I see his body for myself, I’ll not believe he’s dead.” Ron’s younger sister Ginny was too distraught to comment. It has long been rumored that she and Potter had been romantically involved at one point. (continued on page 4) Excerpt – THE DAILY PROPHET September 12th, 1997 – Second page story DRACO MALFOY FOUND DEAD Draco Malfoy (son of former Hogwarts governor & notorious Death Eater Lucius Malfoy) , who was suspected to have played a major role in the DE break-in at Hogwarts earlier this year, and the subsequent assassination of Albus Dumbledore, was found dead yesterday in a house outside of Blackpool. Aurors had been sent to the house based on a report they had intercepted from the Muggle “police”. Though they would not divulge what they had expected to find there, they would say that the body of Malfoy came as a surprise. “We have no suspects at this time,” said Nymphadora Tonks, head of a newly formed squad of Aurors whose sole purpose is to find the location of Severus Snape (see page 6). “Of course we have our suspicions, but as we have very little evidence to go on so early in the investigation, I wouldn’t want to voice any of them.” Draco’s mother Narcissa could not be reached for comment.
Cup…snake…locket…Gryffindor….Ravenclaw… These words, even in the haze. … On the morning of September 10th, Harry Potter awoke in much the same way as he had for the past 2 months: with the sun shining into his eyelids and his mantra repeating itself into his ear by way of an old tape recorder. Earlier that year he had discovered his grandparents’ abandoned ancestral home in Godric’s Hollow, and it was here that he had been hiding. Hermione had helped him to make it unplottable, and they had hesitantly made Dobby their secret keeper. Harry got up and noticed the copy of the Daily Prophet at his feet. He glanced at the headline and chortled. The plan was working. He reminded himself to ask Hermione who decided he should die, and what the “evidence” was. He read the article as he was getting dressed, becoming particularly amused at Ron’s comments, seeing as how Ron was one of only two people (and one house-elf) who knew for a fact that he was still alive. In fact, Ron had probably been the one to leave the paper for him while he was asleep. He reminded himself to ask Hermione who decided he should die, and what the “evidence” was. Cup…snake…locket…Gryffindor….Ravenclaw… Once Harry was dressed, he reached over and shut the tape recorder off. It had done it’s job for one more day. … It had been Hermione’s suggestion that he disappear for a while, and he had agreed almost immediately. However, when she suggested that he use this time to relax and not think about Horcruxes at all, he had briefly thought her quite insane. At the rehearsal dinner for Fleur & Bill’s wedding, she had pulled him aside. “I am going to keep researching them,” she had said. “I want you to use this time to be alone, and not think about them at all. Relax and be irresponsible for the time being. Down time may be a luxury which you may not get for a while once this really begins.” “But…” Harry said.
“Think about it. If you start nosing around and Voldemort gets wind of it, he’ll surely figure out what you’re up to. Nobody will care what a muggle-born nobody like me is up to. This makes sense Harry.” “And if he figures it out anyway?” Harry asked. “It’s no secret that you’re my best friend. Voldemort’s not stupid.” “I’ll take my chances,” Hermione said. “This is the best plan for now. Let him think you’re off vainly searching for him, and I’ll find out as much as I can. Then we’ll start searching for them for real.” “And how exactly do I just disappear?” She grinned sheepishly. “Ron helped me out with that one. You’re going to apparate to Godric’s Hollow tomorrow after the ceremony. Don’t even wait around for the reception. Once you’ve disappeared, we’re going to…” she hesitated. “What!?” “We’re going to modify a few memories here and there. People will come away from this wedding swearing that they saw Death Eaters leaving it.” Harry looked horrified. “That’s…. that’s illegal!!” “And necessary,” she said, annoyed. “In one week, the entire world is going to be convinced that you’ve been kidnapped by Voldemort. You’ll be safely stowed away for the time being, and I’ll be free to research the remaining Horcruxes with relative freedom.” Harry grinned. “Breaking the law for the good of mankind. We really have been a horrible influence on you.” He sighed and kissed her cheek. “You’re the best.” She blushed. “Don’t thank me yet. You do know that you can’t use magic while you’re away…” Harry started to protest, than nodded. “It’ll be detected. The ministry will find me within minutes.” She grinned. “Glad you understand. You’re pretty much going to have to be a Muggle for a few months.” He nodded again. “I can do that.” … Looking back, he had agreed rather hastily. Immersing himself back into Muggle society meant using Muggle money, something he had very little of. He gave himself one final look in the mirror, trying in vain to fix his hair, and left for his job at a local bookstore, where nobody knew he was famous. Being a nobody was the best part of Hermione’s little experiment, and he knew he’d be sorry when it was over.
A Long-Expected Revelation
Harry returned home that evening to find Hermione waiting for him in the cavernous Potter dining room. She had brought three books with her, and had laid them all out on the table. “Hi!” he said. “I thought Ron would be with you.” “Molly..” she started, then blushed and caught herself. “I mean Mrs. Weasley is starting to suspect something. His visits are going to have to be less frequent for now.” “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell her…” Or Ginny, he thought. “No it wouldn’t hurt, but it wouldn’t help either.” She said sternly. “If there was any way to keep it from him I wouldn’t have even told Ron. He’s a horrible liar, in case you haven’t noticed.” She studied his face. “The less people that know, the better. Mrs. Weasley would agree with me.” “Ok, fine. What did you bring for me?” “Maybe nothing. Two of them are actually Muggle books, but something in each of them caught my eye. The third is… well I’ll let you see for yourself.” Harry’s eyes skimmed over the first two titles without much interest. His eyes came to rest on the third and he let out a small gasp. The Noble & Most Ancient House of Black – A History & Genealogy “Where did you get this?” he exclaimed. She hesitated, then said “It was in the Shrieking Shack. I’m thinking somebody didn’t want it to be found.” Harry gaped at her. “Just what the hell were you doing in the Shrieking Shack?” he asked, stunned. “It was pure luck, actually. I was in Hogsmeade to pick up something from Dervish & Banges, and it dawned on me that it would be a brilliant place to stash a Horcrux. Voldemort wouldn’t even have to try that hard to set up magical protection; the place’s reputation was enough to keep people out.” Harry knew the answer already, but he asked “And did you find anything?” Hermione sighed. “Of course not; I would have told you already. I did find a library on the second floor though, and it’s definitely something I will want to investigate further. That’s where I found that book.” “Ok… so have you read any of it yet?”
“Yes. Before I show you what I’ve found, I want to ask you: do you know what the names Sirius & Regulus have in common?” “Umm.. they both end in ‘us’ ?” Hermione looked annoyed. “It appears you’ve been paying as much attention in Astronomy as you have in History. They’re both stars Harry.” “Ok, so they’re both stars. So?” “So….. Sirius is considered by many to be the brightest star in the sky…” “This will eventually have a point, right?” Harry asked, sounding even more annoyed than Hermione looked. “Do you want to hear what I found or not?!” “Yes, ok, fine.” “Regulus is considered one of the brightest as well… but the third brightest is called Arcturus. Look up Arcturus Canopus Black in the index.” Harry grabbed the book and opened it, receiving a large amount of dust in his face as a reward. He thumbed through the index and found it – Arcturus Black, pages 456-457,460-472 “Skip 456 and 457,” Hermione said. “Go straight to 460.” Harry found the page and saw that it was the beginning of a chapter – Notable Blacks of the 1700s. He began to read. The Black family was one of the few pureblood familys to end the 17th century with most of their records (dating back to the 2nd Century B.C. at least) completely intact. Muggle persecution of wizardkind had been going on for centuries, and while most wizarding families knew how to protect themselves by the time 1600 came around, much of their ancient history and bloodline information had been destroyed by Muggle fanaticism before then. The Black family was one of a very few exceptions, due to the extreme measures that most Black patriarchs took throughout the centuries to inundate their homes with Muggle repelling charms. Because of this, Blacks throughout the ages were considered the authority on protection from Muggles… Harry stopped here. “Protection from Muggles? What’s so difficult about that?” “If you had paid attention in your history class, you’d know that until about 800-900 years ago, Muggles coexisted peacefully with our kind, fully aware of our existence. Between the first and fifth centuries though, a rift began to grow, and Muggles began to view our kind with unfounded mistrust. By the end of the 1400s, the majority of Muggles outright hated us, and many of them tried to have us wiped out. But even though this
happened over a long period, it took a while for it to sink in with many wizard families, so for years our world had it’s collective guard down. It’s one of the reasons the ministry exists. Keep reading!” In 1721, it was decided by the wizarding community at large that an official organization should exist for the sole purpose of keeping our existence guarded from Muggle-kind. This organization, known then as the Wizarding Heritage Protection Society, would eventually usurp the obsolete Wizard’s Council and evolve into the first Ministry of Magic. The first elected head of the WHPS, by a unanimous vote, was Arcturus Canopus Black (b. 1693) Harry looked up again, but Hermione shushed him and urged him to keep reading. Arcturus proved to be a worthy leader, as he was stern but fair, and well liked by all who knew him. But many of his ideas concerning the handling of Muggles, though well-intentioned, were considered too extreme in the eyes of many. For example, his introductory proposition to the society was to allow the extermination of Muggles to the brink of extinction, in order to indoctrinate the survivors and raise them as subservients to Wizards, much like house-elves. As many wizards considered this too ludicrous to be anything but a joke, it was almost unanimously voted down. Arcturus was not to be deterred, though. In his three years as head of the WHPS, his proposed bills included: worldwide Muggle sterilization, feeding Muggle criminals to dragons, Wizard regulation of Muggle religions (especially those that had led the persecution of Wizards in the past), and the infamous final bill of his career, his proposition to grant selected Pureblood families the right of Jus Primae Noctis over the Muggles in their vicinity… “Jus Primae Noctis?” Harry asked. “It would basically mean that Muggles would be bred out of existence.” Hermione said cryptically. “Have you read enough?” “I suppose… I still don’t know where this is going though.” Hermione sighed, amused and exasperated at the same time. “Harry, doesn’t Arcturus sound like the exact kind of Wizard that Sirius’ parents would admire…. perhaps enough to name a son after?” “Yeah… but they didn’t…” “No. No they didn’t. But maybe one of them had Arcturus for a middle name…” Hermione paused and hid a smile as Harry worked it out in his head. “Regulus…. Holy…” “Look at the genealogy in the back. It’s complete all the way through Draco Malfoy.” Harry looked puzzled. “His mother, Harry! His mother was a Black.” “Oh… oh yeah.”
Harry turned to the end of the book. There, staring him in the face in bold letters, right next to Sirius’ name: Regulus Arcturus Black (b. 1963) R.A.B. Harry sighed and collapsed into a chair. “O.k…. you found him. Now what?” Hermione paused. “Well, that’s something we’re going to need to work out together, all three of us. But this is the best lead we’ve had; I expected you to be excited.” Harry chuckled. “Oh, I am. But knowing who R.A.B. is is barely scratching the surface. We’ve still got a long way to go; this just reminded me of that. I mean, how much does this really tell us?” “It gives us a starting point at any rate. Plus, for what it’s worth, it proves that Sirius’ nobility was not a fluke. Even though he didn’t know who you were, Regulus died to help you out…” Harry became angry at this last bit. “Yeah, and in doing so he helped weaken Dumbledore enough to be killed as well. You’ll pardon me if I don’t feel particularly forgiving of him just yet.” “He had no way of knowing that would happen.” “I know. I still am not ready to let this particular bygone be bygone. Ask me again once Voldemort is dead.” “Fair enough.” Harry looked over at the other two books Hermione had brought with her. These two were brand new. “Great Britain’s 100 Most Haunted Places? And Unexplained Mysteries of the British Isles? Going ghost hunting are we?” Harry asked, confused again. “Well, I started thinking. What would happen if a Muggle stumbled upon the cave with the fake Horcrux? Hypothetically of course, how would they react to the Inferi or to the mysterious green glow in the center of a lake?” “They would probably think the cave was…” Harry grinned. “Haunted?” Hermione beamed. “Precisely. Now, you said that the protection that was set up around the cave was meant only to keep out wizards….” “But Voldemort probably wouldn’t have bothered setting up any Muggle protection…” “So maybe over the years some Horcruxes have already been found… by Muggles,” she finished for him.
Harry was silent for a while as he thought about this. “Wouldn’t it be so perfect…” Again, Hermione finished for him. “If Voldemort’s underestimation of Muggles proved to be his downfall. I was just thinking the same thing.” Harry smiled his first real smile in weeks. “Let’s get reading.”
Ravenwood was a sleepy little village 12 miles inland from the eastern Irish coastline. Known primarily for it’s dairy farms, it was the kind of place where only the most disreputable of people were out of bed later than 8 p.m. At 9:30, in the town’s only inn, Remus Lupin was just finishing off his third mug of butterbeer, and he was getting impatient. Three days previously, he had received an anonymous tip that Severus Snape, and possibly several other Death Eaters, were currently hiding in this town. The tipster had said to meet him at this very inn, The Grey Pilgrim, at 8:45 that evening. Just as Remus was about to give up and leave, a lone cloaked figure walked through the doorway and motioned for him to re-take his seat. Remus could not see the figure’s face, and very slowly brought his wand out of his robes. He would probably offend his visitor, but he was not taking any chances. The cloaked figure got his Firewhisky from the bar and sat down facing Lupin. Lupin regarded the stranger warily. He still could not make out his face under the cloak’s hood. “I told you to come alone,” a voice hissed from inside the cloak. Lupin looked around in shock. How did he know? “I am alone! What makes you think otherwise?” “The fact that you, Shacklebolt, and Weasley couldn’t hide your thoughts from a first year Hogwarts student, much less from me,” said the stranger. “Nervous thoughts are always the clearest…” The stranger removed his hood. It was Snape. In an instant, Lupin was on his feet, his wand pointed at Snape’s heart. Kingsley Shacklebolt and Charlie Weasley joined him seconds later, from where they had been concealed at the other side of the inn. Snape regarded all three of them with an amused half-smirk, half-sneer on his face. Lupin gritted his teeth. “I oughtta kill you right now.” Snape’s grin grew wider. “Not a very private place for a murder. However, if you think you can get off any curses before I disapparate, you’re more than welcome to try. But then you’ll never know what I called you here to tell you.” Very slowly, Snape brought out his wand from his robes. The others tensed briefly, until Snape laid the wand down on the table. “Take it Remus,” Snape said. “Until we are done here. Then you may decide if you still wish to kill me.”
Lupin spat on Snape’s shoes. “Nothing you have to say will change that.” But he took Snape’s wand and sat down just the same. He motioned for the other two to join him. Snape tented his fingers and regarded the three of them silently for a moment, then began to speak. “The secret of The Dark Lord’s immortality is, at the moment, known only to 4 people. The Dark Lord himself, who acquired the knowledge from Horace Slughorn. Albus Dumbledore deduced the secret in the years before he died… “In the years before you killed him, you mean?” Charlie asked angrily Snape paused, a pained expression on his face. He then continued “…and had passed this knowledge along to Harry Potter. During my flight from Hogwarts, I learned the secret as well, quite accidentally. I pulled it from Potter’s mind. It seems he was thinking about it a great deal during those hectic few hours.” Snape paused and waited to see if they had any questions. All three men remained silent, so he continued. “Mr. Potter is currently acting on this knowledge, in an attempt to destroy The Dark Lord himself. I am here to tell you that he will not succeed. Not without my assistance, that is.” Lupin’s head was whirling as he tried to make sense of all of this. “I don’t know if you’ve been reading the news Severus, but Harry is dead! We’re supposed to believe you have inside knowledge on him, when there’s nothing to even prove to us that he’s still breathing.” Snape was nodding through all of this. “A valid point Remus. I guess you’re just going to have to trust me that I know he is alive.” Charlie & Kingsley both barked laughter at this, but Lupin remained silent. Lupin again pointed his wand at Snape’s chest. “You clearly believe yourself to have the advantage over us, Severus. So prove it. Tell us this secret you possess and maybe you won’t find yourself waking up in Azkaban tomorrow morning.” Snape looked down at the wand and frowned. “It would not be in my best interest, or yours, to reveal that to you right now. It’s one of the few things Potter is doing right – researching the matter in secret. If I were to tell you, you’d start looking in to the matter and draw attention to yourselves. That would only assure Potter’s failure.” Kingsley stood up and also pointed his wand at Snape’s chest. “I’ve heard enough,” he said. “You’ve given us zero reason to believe any of this horse dung, and every reason to bring you in. In my mind, the only question is do we let the dementors kiss you tomorrow, or let them draw it out a week.” Charlie stood joined Remus & Kingsley. “I agree,” he said. “Just thank your lucky stars we found you before Harry did.” Snape obviously had not expected this, and he began to panic. He looked at Remus, and for the first time Remus saw real fear in his eyes. “You’re making a huge mistake!” Snape cried. “Harry is lost without….”
“STUPEFY!” Three red beams hit Snape all at once, and he dropped to the floor. Remus bent down to look at him. “Help me pick him up,” he said. Charlie & Kingsley each grabbed one of Snape’s arms and hoisted him up. Remus looked at the other two and smiled. “Do either of you believe a word of it?” “Nope,” they both said in unison. “Not one.”
Remember My Last
Harry and Hermione had stayed awake late in to the night, poring over the two Muggle books. After 5 hours and 3 trades so that they each had gone through both books twice, Hermione announced that she was too tired to continue and would be heading home. Harry’s elation that he had started with when reading the two books had faded considerably. They had only found 3 places in the books that had sounded like they were worth looking in to, and even those three were long shots. None of them seemed like the type of place that Voldemort would deem important enough to stash a piece of his soul in. Hermione was undaunted though. “I’ll take Ron with me to do a cursory look around each of them. If any of them seem worth looking in to further, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, I’ll look in to some more books like this.” … Harry was so exhausted that when, two hours after he had fallen asleep, Hedwig suddenly started panicking loudly in her cage, it still took him several minutes to wake up. “Whuzzz… whuzzat..? Hedwig..!? Be quiet… Uncle Vernon will be…. Zzz..” Hedwig started rattling her cage even louder, and when she was almost at the point where the cage was about to fall from it’s place on Harry’s dresser, Harry was finally able to wake up. “Hedwig! Come on, what’s gotten in to you?” He got up and opened her cage. Her behavior was not exactly unusual, but the time was. Hedwig normally did her hunting right before sunrise. She was over 4 hours early. Harry got the cage open and Hedwig flew over to the window where, Harry finally noticed, sat another bird which had been tapping patiently. When Harry put his glasses on, the giant red blur at the window solidified into a friend he thought he had lost forever. Fawkes had come to Godric’s Hollow. Harry found the catch on the window and let the phoenix in to his room. “Fawkes..” he said in an awed voice. “How.. how did you find me?” Fawkes gave him a look which might have been amusement. He lifted his head up, and Harry saw that he had a small parcel tied to his neck. Harry untied and unwrapped it. It was a black diary, not unlike Tom Riddle’s Mission accomplished, Hedwig flew back to her cage and slipped her head under her wing. Fawkes watched her for a moment, and then he flew over to join her. He landed next to her cage and laid down for some sleep
of his own. Hedwig, not always the friendliest of birds when it came to other birds, accepted him without protest. Harry opened the diary to the first page and began to read: Harry, You hold in your hand all the information I was able to collect on Tom Riddle’s Horcruxes. If you are reading this, one of two things must have happened. I am either dead, or have become so enamored with the sweets at Honeydukes that I am no longer of any use to you. Either way, the fact that you are reading this means that you will be continuing this journey alone. Which, if I must say, you were probably meant to do all along. I can not offer any advice to you. As Professor Snape told you on his first day as your DADA teacher, the Dark Arts are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, and indestructible. As such, any advice I may feel like writing down here might be useless by the time you read it. Those who dwell in the Dark are constantly having to adapt to the world of Light around them. You must adapt with them to have any hope of success. The notes are divided in to 3 sections, one for each remaining Horcrux. You’ve destroyed the diary, I’ve destroyed the ring, and together we’ve destroyed the locket; therefore I have burned the sections I had pertaining to the ring & the locket. Harry felt dread sink into his stomach upon reading this. Professor Dumbledore must have written this shortly before their trip to the cave, and had obviously assumed the locket would be destroyed before or upon their return. Any information Dumbledore had collected on the locket was gone forever. I wish I could give you more to go on, but of course these items are very well protected and coming by information on them was not easy. The rest is up to you. If I’ve never told you before how very proud you have made me these last 6 years, allow me to do so now. Your courage, loyalty, and honor are boundless Harry, and it has been my extreme privilege and humble honor to be your headmaster. The wizarding world will one day have you to thank for the demise of Voldemort, and your praises will be sung for centuries. Of this, I have no doubt. I have but one favor to ask of you. I know you already have an owl that you are quite fond of, but I wonder if you would mind looking after Fawkes as well. I don’t think he’ll mind. He doesn’t eat much, and what he does eat, he will find on his own. Harry looked up from the letter and looked over at Fawkes. Fawkes was still awake, and had both eyes on Harry. He knew it was the lack of sleep, but he could swear that the phoenix was smiling at him. Fawkes winked once, then turned around and went to sleep. Harry went back to the letter. One last thing. No matter what has happened, no matter what the circumstances of my death were, no matter what you may have seen or heard by the time you read this, I swear to you this: Severus Snape is a good man. I hope, for his sake and for your own, that he will be able to demonstrate this to you himself when the time
comes. You’ve trusted me without question on everything that has come before. Trust me on this Harry, I beg of you. I’ve done all that is in my power to do to prepare you for the trials that lie ahead. Farewell Harry Potter, and good luck to you. Your friend always, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Harry finished reading and wiped the tears from his face. He wanted to get right in to reading the sections on the Horcruxes, but he was still so very tired. He promised he’d get right in to them upon waking. He climbed in to bed, a million thoughts whirling around in his head. As he drifted off to sleep, his thoughts were of Snape, and of what Dumbledore had meant by “the circumstances of my death”. It was almost as if Dumbledore had known he was going to die that night…
Voices from downstairs woke him up the following morning. Harry was used to this, as Hermione & Ron had permission to come and go as they pleased. He took his time getting ready, for he wanted to prepare himself for the reaction that revealing the contents of Dumbledore’s diary would provoke in his two best friends. He felt a chill go down his spine; whatever had transpired so far, the diary meant that the real quest began now. “…. well Sirius was S.O.B. , but I bet nobody will ever see anything special about that.” Harry froze halfway down the stairs. That was not Ron that Hermione had brought with her. He reached the bottom of the stairs and peeked his head into the doorway to observe the two guests in his living room. He had barely done so when a fiery blur of red hair & freckles (enshrouded in a flowery smell that reminded him of the Burrow) had run into him so fast and hard that it knocked him down onto the floor. Ginny was down on the floor with him in a flash, kissing him fiercely and punching him in the stomach at the same time, knocking the wind out of him. “You GIT! You selfish PRAT!!” Each insult was succeeded by another punch to the stomach. “I’ve been dying inside for two months! And all this time… all this time Ron & ‘Mione have known!” But she started laughing and hugged him so hard, he lost his wind again. When his wind had returned, he was able to laugh a little himself. He pointed to Hermione. “It was her idea! Punch her for a while why don’t you!?” “Yeah and I bet you fought real hard against it,” she mock pouted. “The whole world thinks you’re dead, and here you are, in your comfortable mansion, letting everyone believe it. Not everyone will forgive you as quickly as I have.” With that, she kissed him so fiercely again that Hermione began to blush. Ginny looked up and grinned. “Sorry ‘Mione. I’ll wait until later.” Harry looked over at Hermione. “What made you change your mind!? What happened to ‘The less people that know, the better.’ ?” Hermione grinned. “The Burrow is depressing enough as it is right now, and I haven’t seen one of my best friends smile in months. I wanted to bring some cheer back to her, what little I could. Besides, it’s not as if she’ll go running to find a Death Eater to tell.” Harry frowned for a second, sat up, and looked over at Hermione. “Hey that reminds me… whose idea was it to make the ministry think I was dead?” Hermione observed Harry for a moment, suspecting that he was joking. “Harry… we thought.. Wasn’t it yours?”
Harry stood up and walked over to the couch. “No.. I figured you or Ron must have sent some fake evidence in as part of your plan.” “No.. the plan never involved faking your death.” Harry began to pace, and Ginny reclaimed her spot on the couch. “So someone completely unknown wanted the ministry to think I was dead. Why would someone do that? Do you have any idea what the so-called evidence was?” Ginny actually answered this one. “They wouldn’t tell us, but Dad overheard Scrimgeour talking to Fudge about it. Not the most discreet man, Mr. Scrimgeour. Anyways, Dad thinks it was a body part.” Harry smirked and ran his hands all over himself. “Well I don’t appear to be missing any vital parts. What makes them so sure it was mine?” Hermione answered. “They would have done some magical tests on it… and they wouldn’t feel comfortable announcing their suspicions unless they were sure it was yours.” All three of them frowned at once. “It must… it must not have been a body part then. Unless there’s a clone of me we don’t know about!” Harry joked. “Don’t forget Harry, Voldemort,” (Ginny flinched) “has your blood now. Who knows what he’s capable of doing with it?” Harry considered this for a moment, then shook his head. “Voldemort wouldn’t want people to think I was dead. What would be the point? It’s not his style. No, he’ll want people to KNOW when I’m dead, and that he’s the one responsible.” Ginny piped up again. “So… who then?” Harry sat down in a recliner and sighed. “I suppose we won’t know until we find out for sure what the body part, or whatever, is. Until then…. I have something to tell you that is more important right now. But Ron should be here to hear it as well.” Ginny got up, reached in to her pocket, and pulled out some floo powder. She walked over to the fireplace, threw the powder in, and stuck her head in to the fire. “RON! Get over here now!” There was a loud crack outside, and Ron walked through the front door. “Will you keep your voice down!? Mom almost heard… bloody hell, what are you doing here?” Hermione repeated herself for Ron’s benefit. “It would have been nice if you’d informed me,” said Ron. “Dad has spent the night at the Ministry two nights in a row, and she’s handing out extra chores to keep her mind occupied. Since you weren’t around, they all went to me!” “Boohoo. Sit down, Harry has something important to tell us.”
Harry ran upstairs and came back down with the diary. He re-read the letter from Dumbledore to them. All three remained silent after he finished. After a minute, Ron broke the silence. “I think…. I think we should each pick one remaining Horcrux to research independently. Hermione will keep studying the locket, I’ll start researching Gryffindor & Ravenclaw, Ginny will start researching… Nagini I guess, though I don’t know what she’s going to find…” Harry shook his head. “I’ve decided that I don’t want this coming between you guys and your schoolwork. This is…. What? What’s wrong?” Ron & Ginny were both looking at Hermione in an odd way. “You didn’t tell him!?” yelled Ron. “I was going to today. I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.” Harry frowned. “Tell me what!?” Ginny & Ron spoke at once. “Hogwarts is staying closed.” Hermione nodded. “Too many parents are keeping their kids at home; there haven’t been more than 23 students who’ve returned to school. The governors decided that, for now, it would be in everyone’s best interest to keep it closed.” Harry sat down and put his head in his hands. “I guess I’m stuck with you all then.” He grinned at Ron. “So I’m researching Hufflepuff’s cup then?” Ron nodded. “Fine. But you realize there’s more to this than just the Horcruxes themselves. Just as the items themselves were significant to Tom Riddle, the places he will have stashed them will be also. The ring was in the Gaunt house… the locket.. was once in the cave.. the diary was left in Lucius Malfoy’s keeping.” Hermione moaned. “It’s like one of the logic puzzle books my father has in his waiting room at work. Which Horcrux goes with Which Location…” Harry ignored this. “I was thinking we’d write down a list of any locations that Riddle would have deemed significant enough, and maybe cross reference them with those haunted places books that Hermione bought.” Ron grabbed Dumbledore’s diary out of Harry’s hands. “No doubt Dumbledore will have included some of that information in here.” Harry said “Let’s go off memory for now; we’ll look through that later. Somebody write these down. The Riddle House, which we already know is considered haunted… the Orphanage…. Borgin & Burkes… Hogwarts, of course… anything else?” Hermione chimed in. “Well I guess this is covered by Hogwarts, but the chamber of secrets was significant to him…” Ron said “And what about Azkaban? It would certainly be guarded well..”
Ginny began to write down Azkaban, but Harry held up his hand. “I doubt it. Despite how many of his followers wound up in there, he never had anything personal vested in it.” Ginny looked up timidly. “What about…. Your parents’ cottage Harry? Surely.. the place he met his downfall is significant to him..” Harry looked at Hermione, who shrugged. “Yeah… write that down. Though we did visit it the day after the wedding… I think we would have noticed anything unusual. But we’ll check it again.” He sighed again. “This is a good start. And frankly, I’m done being serious for today. Let’s go do something fun.” … Hermione & Harry were stunned to learn that Ron & Ginny had never been to a movie, so the 4 of them walked into town to see what was playing. They caught an early showing of Austin Powers, which had just been released the previous week. All four agreed that it was pretty lousy, but they enjoyed themselves just the same. They spent the rest of the day exploring the town and simply enjoying each other’s company. It was the best day Harry could remember outside of Hogwarts. … They returned to Harry’s home just as the sun was beginning to set. Hermione & Ron, arm in arm, went inside the house, but Harry grabbed Ginny’s arm. “Wait… I want to talk to you. Alone.” He led her over to the other side of the house, which had an incredible view of the entire town. He sat her down on the lawn and looked in to her eyes, which were unflinching. “My mind hasn’t changed, you know. We still can’t be together.” Ginny smirked. “Yeah… funny thing about that. At this point, thanks to that horrible Skeeter woman, everyone knows we were together at school. Do you really think it’ll make a difference to V-Vo… dammit… You-Know-Who that we’re broken up on a technicality?” Harry considered this for a moment. “I suppose you’re right.” Ginny continued. “If I’m in his sights now, it’s not going to matter to him that we’ve broken up. He’ll know you still care about me.” Harry nodded again. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him softly. “If I am going to be a casualty in your little war Harry, I want to at least be able to enjoy the reason for it. While I can.” As the sun set over the Potter manor, and over the Trio’s last happy day together, Harry could only think of one thing to say. “As you wish.”
The Blood Of Slytherin
Excerpt – THE DAILY PROPHET September 13th, 1997 – Front Page Exclusive PETER PETTIGREW CAPTURED IN IRELAND By Wagner Jinnloo Peter Pettigrew, alleged Death Eater and illegal Animagus, was captured and arrested last night in the village of Ravenwood, Ireland. Acting on an anonymous tip, Ministry Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt, accompanied by two members of the elusive vigilante group known only to the public as The Order, apprehended Pettigrew under the impression that he was Severus Snape. On the way back to the ministry though, the polyjuice potion that Pettigrew had taken began to wear off, revealing his true identity. Shacklebolt was disappointed upon learning this, but was still relatively upbeat. “While the capture of Snape would have been a marvelous victory for the ministry,” Shacklebolt said, “capturing Pettigrew is a victory as well. It’s just a smaller one. This man is indirectly responsible for the deaths of Lily & James Potter, several Muggles, and who knows who else over the years. Not to mention the framing of Sirius Black for his own death, which led to Black’s imprisonment in Azkaban for nearly 12 years. Having Pettigrew in custody is nothing to be disappointed about.” Rufus Scrimgeour, minister of magic, made a brief statement this morning in the lobby of the Ministry. “The arrest of Peter Pettigrew is a severe blow to the dark forces currently at large in our world. Hopefully, he will be able to reveal to us the location of other dark wizards, and we can finally put an end to this conflict. I will be interrogating Pettigrew personally this afternoon, with the assistance of Mr. Shacklebolt. We are obviously hoping that he will cooperate freely, but we anticipate that there will be a need to use Veritaserum on the accused. I have already received authorization from the Wizengamot to do so if necessary. We will hopefully have more to report on later this afternoon. Thank you.” This reporter received an tip that suggested Pettigrew had had his memory modified or erased before he was arrested, something that Scrimgeour neglected to mention. Interrogating Pettigrew will not be an easy task.
In related news, Ministry officials are now searching the village of Ravenwood and the surrounding areas for any sign of Pettigrew’s associates. It is unknown at this time what exactly they hope to find. Ireland’s own Ministry had pledged full cooperation and has offered their assistance in the search. ....… “Wormtail performed admirably, my Lord. More admirably than I would have expected possible.” “Yes. Imperius can have that effect on people.” Lord Voldemort chuckled softly. “It’s curious where people will place their priorities, Severus. The ministry now has in their hands the wizard solely responsible for my return to power, and thus the deaths of thousands. Yet rather than celebrate, they instead mourn the fact that they have not captured you, merely because you killed a single old Mudblood loving fool. It’s almost insulting.” Snape smiled and nodded in agreement. “I must say though.. I still think I could have handled the Auror and his friends, had it truly been me who had been attacked.” Voldemort looked down to where Snape was kneeling at his feet. “We’ve been over this Severus. The whole point was to gauge whether or not you could gain the Order’s trust once again. I couldn’t risk actually sending you; you are much too valuable.” “Thank you, my Lord, you are too kind.” Voldemort nodded. “Now that we have our answer, we can start utilizing you in other ways. Rise, my friend and take a seat on the couch. I wish to hear your opinion on a matter I have been pondering since before the Potter brat was even born.” “And what of Pettigrew, my Lord? Will there be any attempt to free him?” “I chose Pettigrew solely for his expendability. I will not waste my time, and you shall not waste yours, worrying about his well being in Azkaban. He is on his own. Sit, Severus.” Severus stood and walked over to the couch. The couch and the man sitting on it were in a moderately sized mansion in the far north of England. The former Muggle residents, not coincidentally, were quite recently deceased. Voldemort & Severus, along with several others, had been hiding here for nearly 2 weeks. “As you know Severus, I am the last in the line of Slytherin. Had I known this at the time, I might have thought differently about framing my Uncle Morfin for the murder of Thomas Riddle. The blood of Slytherin could have been passed on by him as well.
“While the blood of Slytherin will indeed endure eternally in this immortal body I have created, I decided a long time ago that that was not enough. Slytherin’s bloodline should continue. Do you agree?” Snape nodded slowly. Voldemort continued. “I don’t mind telling you that your intelligence surpasses my own Severus. So I wonder if you have deduced yet the reason for sending Lucius Malfoy and his son on missions in which they had no hope of success.” “The thought had crossed my mind, my Lord. It always seemed to me that you would have had no problem retrieving the prophecy yourself. If you’ll forgive me my Lord, I had questioned your judgement for appointing Lucius as the leader of that mission.” “As you should have. He was a loyal fool, but a fool all the same. His son was no better.” “So why send them to fail? Why not just kill them yourself and be done with it?” Voldemort paused for a moment, wondering how he should continue. “Severus… I have many followers. But you are the only one I can truly call a friend.” “Thank you, my Lord.” “As such, I can trust you with one of my most closely guarded secrets. I can, can’t I? “Most assuredly, my Lord.” “I knew I could. As I said a moment ago, I know now that the bloodline of Slytherin, my bloodline, must continue. I desire a son, Severus.” Snape held his breath. He’d known what Voldemort was about to say for some time now, but he was anxious to hear it from his lips. “But only the worthiest of followers would suffice to act as the mother of this child. I had Narcissa Malfoy in mind years ago, but only now has she proven herself worthy. Her loyalty is second only to your own.” “I agree my Lord.” “So why not just kill Lucius and Draco, you ask me. Because although Narcissa is loyal, she is also proud, and she truly loved her husband and son. She would never come to me willingly if I had killed them for no evident reason. No, she would have to know that they deserved to die for failing me. Only then would she welcome me without question. Loyalty would not be enough in this case.” “It was a brilliant plan, my Lord.”
“Now, I am poised to give her a new son, to replace the one she lost. What greater gift could I possibly give to such an obedient servant?” Voldemort began to laugh. It chilled Snape’s blood to hear it, but he forced himself to laugh along just the same. ......… The sun was just over the horizon in Godric’s Hollow, and Harry Potter once again awoke to the prickling of his scar. “Need to tell Remus or Moody…” he muttered to himself. “First thing… when.. I..” Harry was asleep again before he could finish.
Snake and Cup
Hermione shook him awake 2 hours later. “Harry.. Harry get up.” He grabbed his glasses and looked at her. “Why, what is it? Is something wrong?” She shook her head. “No no, it’s just that I wanted to get an early start.” And with that, she threw some clothes at him and left the room. He came downstairs to find her reading the Prophet at the dining room table. She looked up at him and smiled. “Take a look at this!” He sat down next to her and his eyes widened at the front page headline. “Pettigrew…Ireland…wow.” He read the entire article, then turned to page 2 to see if there was any more. There was not, but his eyes widened again at a smaller headline towards the bottom: MALFOY’S BODY ARRIVES AT MINISTRY. Hermione had gotten up while Harry was reading to make some breakfast. “Hermione! Did you know that Malfoy was dead!?” Hermione walked back and looked over his shoulder. “No. I rarely look past the front page anymore, so they must have not mentioned it there.” She skimmed the article. “They’re going to conduct an investigation into his death. I don’t know what they expect to find…” “Blackpool…. Ever hear of it?” She shook her head. “I doubt it means anything. Probably just a stop on his flight north.” Harry looked troubled. He had suddenly remembered a dream he had had the night before. A dream in which Voldemort had revealed the details of his plan to have 2 of the Malfoys killed. And the reason why. “Hermione… I’ve been dreaming again…” She looked up sharply. She didn’t have to ask what he meant. “And your scar?” After a moment, Harry nodded. She sighed. “Harry!! This is not the time to be keeping that a secret again!” “Well, it’s only happened twice,” Harry said. “The first time I didn’t even dream, it was only the scar hurting.”
“What was the dream about?” “Voldemort… and Snape.. talking about both Lucius & Draco Malfoy being dead… and that Voldemort intended for them to die.” “Did he say why?” Harry tried to remember, but that portion of the dream was drowned out by laughter. “He may have. I can’t remember.” Hermione nodded. “O.k. Just put it out of your head for now I guess. We’ll talk more about it later.” Harry looked around. “So what are we doing today? What did you want to get an early start on?” “We’re going to the Riddle mansion,” Hermione said nonchalantly. Harry gasped. “Umm.. why, exactly? Why today?” “No time like the present Harry,” she said. “Besides, unlike you, I’ve been reading Dumbledore’s notes. The Riddle mansion was the next location he intended to investigate after the underwater cave.” “Will Ron & Ginny be joining us?” “Molly flipped when Ginny came home so late last night, and Ron got the worst of the screaming. Best not to risk it.” “So… just you and me.. alone.. going to the Riddle house.” Hermione started to laugh. “Harry, don’t tell me you’re scared!” Harry glared at her. “Hell yes I’m scared. Last time I went in search of a Horcrux, a best friend died indirectly because of it. Apparently you think it’s funny that I’m in no hurry for it to happen again.” Hermione stopped laughing. “You’re right, Harry, I’m sorry. We won’t go too far in, o.k.? If we get even the smallest sign that there may be a Horcrux in that house, we’ll stop and come back when there are more of us.” “Fine.” …
It had been decades since the Riddle mansion was considered the finest looking house in Little Hangleton, but Frank Bryce had at least managed to keep the house looking presentable. In the three years since he had died, however, the house and grounds had fallen into a permanent state of disrepair and ruin, adding to it’s reputation as a haunted place. The grass was overgrown, brown, and weedy. Many of the trees lining the driveway were dead or dying. The house itself was no better. The front door was hanging on one hinge. Most of the paint had peeled off the side of the house. A few windows had been broken by some of the braver adolescent boys of Little Hangleton. The house itself swayed in the wind as if it wanted to fall over and die. It looked as if it had been 300 years since someone had lived here, instead of just 3. Hermione and Harry stood at the gate, gazing up at the 3 story house anxiously. They kept glancing at each other and then back to the house, almost as if daring each other to go on. Hermione was starting to feel as if she had been too hasty in coming here. Harry had promised himself that he would not look down the hill to the graveyard, but his eyes kept straying there. The graveyard was the only thing in sight that looked well preserved. This thought made Harry uneasy. Hermione took a big breath, then started walking up the driveway. Harry reluctantly began to follow. They got to front door and Hermione peeked inside. She got her wand out, and Harry got out his. “Just a once over, okay? We look inside every room for any sign of the unusual. If we see anything, we’ll come back later with more of us. We see nothing, we never have to come back again.” Harry nodded. “Where do we start?” … They saw nothing unusual in the basement or on the first floor. They started up to the second floor and began to hear a low hissing sound from the bedroom at the second floor landing. “That’s where the caretaker was killed,” thought Harry. Harry motioned for Hermione to stop. He kept walking up the stairs, and the hissing grew closer. Just as Harry was about to open the door, the hissing became words. “Massssterrr… You’ve returned!” Harry stopped and looked back at Hermione. He mouthed “Parseltongue” to her. She mouthed back “Go with it!” “Yesss, I have returned. When did you expect me?” “Monthssss ago Masssster. You told me you would return for me within a week… That was monthsss ago.. I’ve been trapped in thisss room ever ssssinccce.”
Harry turned around, excited. He mouthed “Nagini!” Hermione mouthed “Duh!” She slowly walked up the stairs to join Harry. Harry mouthed “Open the door on three…1…2…” “MASSSSSTERR… WHO HASSSS JOINED YOU!?” Harry mouthed a word that would have made Mrs. Weasley blush. Harry was panicking, and said the very first thing that came to his mind. “My… wife hasss joined me..” Harry smacked his forehead. Voldemort with a wife? What a stupid thing to say. “Thisss isss not the sssmell of a Pureblood, masssster,” Nagini said. The first signs of suspicion were now in Nagini’s voice. “Why does Narcissssssssssa smell of a Mudblood!?” Harry’s jaw dropped to the floor and his eyes grew as large as dinner plates. Why would Nagini think that Narcissa Malfoy was Voldemort’s wife? Then Harry realized an even bigger problem. Nagini knew that Hermione was not Narcissa based on her smell… yet thought he was Voldemort. Hermione was growing impatient. All she had to go on were Harry’s facial reactions, and they were making her extremely curious. “Nagini… do I sstill sssmell the sssame?” “You ssssmell the sssame asss you have sssince the night Wormtail ressstored your body, massster. You sssmell not of yoursssself, but of the Potter brat….the..Potter…POTTER!!” Harry had no idea how smart snakes were, but he knew that Nagini had just figured out his ruse. The door shook hard on it’s frame as Nagini rammed hard into it. Harry knew that the door could not stand many more hits like that, and motioned for Hermione to have her wand at the ready. After the fourth hit, the door broke free from its top hinge, and Nagini was able to peer through a crack at them. “Ssssssstarving….” While Harry had at least seen Nagini in his dreams before, Hermione had never seen her at all, and her mouth opened in a horrified O. “I’ll eat the Mudblood firsssst Potter. That way I can ussse you to get rid of the horrible tasssste..” Nagini was moving in and out of view, and neither Harry nor Hermione could get a clear shot at her. She rammed the door one more time and that was all it could take, for it flew off the remaining hinge. Harry &
Hermione both ducked and the door flew over their heads, then clattered down the stairs. Nagini saw her opportunity and wound herself around Hermione’s leg. “STUPE…” Before Harry could finish the spell, Nagini’s tail had whacked him in the head and stomach in succession. Harry sat down hard; he was seeing stars and the wind had been knocked out of him. “HARRY!” Hermione shrieked as Nagini pulled her off her feet. Her wand fell out of her hand as she hit the floor, and Nagini began to drag her back into the room. Harry shook his head hard to try and regain his senses, but it wasn’t working. He tried to stand twice and fell to the floor both times, all the while vaguely aware of Hermione screaming. Not knowing what else to do, he bit down hard on his tongue. It worked. Distantly aware of the taste of blood in his mouth, he charged in to the room. Nagini had coiled herself around Hermione’s stomach and arms, and was getting ready to strike at her neck. “NAGINI!” Harry yelled. Whether it was in Parseltongue or English he couldn’t say, but either way he gotten the snake’s attention. Harry pointed his wand directly at the snake’s head. Hermione saw what he was about to do and began to shake her head no, but he knew there was no other way. “SECTUM SEMPRA!” Nagini narrowly dodged the spell and it hit the wall. Infuriated, Nagini sank her fangs into Hermione’s leg. Hermione shrieked. “NO!” Harry ran to Hermione’s side and pulled at the snake’s head with all his strength. He finally wrenched it free from Hermione’s leg. Without a thought in his head other than he needed to end this quickly, he stuck his wand into Nagini’s open mouth. “SECTUM SEMPRA!!!!” Nagini’s head exploded, and her grip on Hermione gradually relaxed. … Hermione was drifting in and out of consciousness. The wound on her was nearly as bad as the one Harry had received from the basilisk in his second year at Hogwarts. “Hermione, I’m going to carry you outside,” Harry said. “I don’t want to apparate from inside here.” “No..”
“It’s o.k. I just need to get you home to Fawkes and we’ll get you fixed up.” “No… Harry…. We can’t leave yet.” He looked into her face. She was breathing very fast. “Why not?” “Because…. Nagini was not a Horcrux…” Harry looked at her, shocked. “Of course she was. Why do you say she wasn’t?” She tried her best to calm herself. “Dumbledore wrote about… seeing.. the soul fragment leaving the ring upon … destroying it… nothing like that… happened this time… “You’re not thinking straight Hermione. Dumbledore burned those pages…” “He wrote that… part in another … section.. so we’d know what to look for… you still have 4 Horcruxes left Harry…..” Harry groaned, but his mind was not changed. “So? What does that have to do with getting that snake poison out of you?” “If there is.. a Horcrux here… it’ll be gone when we come back…” “What!? Why?” “Dumbledore said….. that Nagini and… Voldemort… we’re connected. Voldemort surely knows already that she is dead… if there is one here, you need to take care of it.. now..” Harry stood on legs that were still a little wobbly. “O.k… maybe I can call Fawkes to you.. I’ve done it before.” He cleared his throat and said, “ALBUS DUMBLEDORE WAS THE GREATEST SORCERER WHO EVER LIVED.” Hermione looked up at him and smiled. “I’ll wait here. You keep looking.” … Harry’s first thought was that Nagini must have been left in the room specifically to guard something in there. However, the room was mostly bare with no closets, and Harry saw nothing in the room other than the chair that he remembered from dreams. There was nothing else in any of the rooms on the second floor, so he began to climb the stairs to the third floor.
In a disheveled sitting room, three doors down from the stairway landing, he found what he was looking for. Harry’s first thought was that he was looking at the Goblet of Fire. It was a goblet, to be sure, and it glowed a pale blue. It was sitting on top of a heap of dirty clothes in the corner of the room. He then remembered that he had seen this cup in Dumbledore’s Pensieve last year. He began to wonder what kind of magical protection must be surrounding it, but then remembered that Marvolo’s ring had not had any protection around it. Harry supposed that extreme measures around only one of the Horcruxes would be enough. He ran over and grabbed it. He waited. Nothing happened. He looked at the cup. It was gold plated, but still modest, with the image of a badger embossed into the side. He yelled in triumph, and ran back down to the second floor bedroom. There, he found an attentive Fawkes standing watch over a sleeping Hermione. The wound on her leg was gone.
A Return To Hogwarts
“You did WHAT!?” “I ran up and grabbed it. Why, what was I supposed to do?” Harry had shaken Hermione awake right as he had found her, and they had swiftly apparated back to Godric’s Hollow. They were now in the dining room, with Hufflepuff’s glowing blue cup sitting on the table in front of them. “You could have tried to detect a curse around it. You could have… I don’t know, but surely SOMETHING smarter than just grabbing it!” “It was just sitting there on a pile of clothes, I didn’t see anything suspicious, and for all I knew, you were dying downstairs!” Hermione did not have a retort to that one, so she went back to staring at the goblet. “We still have a problem. Dumbledore’s hand was cursed when he destroyed the ring. We don’t have Snape around this time to help us if this one is cursed as well.” Harry was silent for a moment. His face was unreadable. After a minute or so, he said, “No.. we don’t have Snape around.. but we may be able to get back his Advanced Potion Making Book.” Hermione shook her head. “Who knows if that will do any good?” Harry said, “I know I don’t. But I’d want to at least look through it before we attempt to destroy that thing. Do you have a better idea?” Hermione looked from Harry to the cup and back. “Actually, yes. You left the book in the Room of Requirement, right?” Harry nodded. “Well, if we’re going to be sneaking in to Hogwarts anyway, I’ll look through the library for some books on curse breaking while you’re getting the Potions book. “Sneaking in to Hogwarts?” said a voice behind them. “Sounds like fun!” Harry & Hermione turned around to see Ron & Ginny standing at the front door, both grinning. “Off probation I see,” said Harry. “That was quick.” “We told Mom we were helping Fred & George out in the store,” said Ginny. “They said they’d cover for us, no questions asked, so long as we actually did help them out once they opened their third store.” “Third!?” gasped Harry. “Nobody told me they’d even opened their second yet!”
“They were finally able to buy Zonko’s in Hogsmeade,” sneered Ron. “A partnership in Weasleys’ for the former owner convinced him.” “Do they have a spot in mind for the third shop yet?” asked Harry. Ginny laughed. “They have spots in mind for the third, fourth, and fifth shops. The third one is going to be in Edinburgh. The fourth….” She trailed off and looked at Ron. “Nutters..” muttered Ron. “What? What about the fourth?” asked Hermione. “They’re going to open another store in London. In muggle London.” Harry & Hermione gaped at the two Weasleys, waiting to see which one would start laughing first. Neither did. It was not a joke. “But.. they can’t!” Hermione said. “The statute of secrecy..” “It’s going to be a Muggle item only shop,” explained Ron. “The rack they had in the first store was doing so well, they figured they try out a whole store full of the muggle magic tricks. The Ministry is all for it. They’ve made a little arrangement.” “Arrangement?” asked Hermione. “Yes,” said Ginny. “They’re going to be giving out free shield hats, cloaks, and gloves with every purchase during their 2 month long Grand Opening, completely paid for by the Ministry. They hope enough Muggles will wear them on their own; obviously they’re not going to tell them they’re really magic. They don’t offer a whole lot of protection, but they’re better than nothing. It was actually Dad’s idea.” “That’s atypically generous of the Ministry,” Hermione scoffed. “Those cloaks aren’t cheap!” “It’s Scrimgeour’s attempt to get back on good terms with the Muggle Prime Minister. Ever since he found out what caused the destruction of that bridge last year, he’s blamed everything that goes wrong in England on wizards. I don’t think a day has gone by so far this year where the Prime Minister hasn’t requested a meeting with Scrimgeour to yell at him about something new...” “This is boring!” interrupted Ginny. “I want to hear why we’re sneaking in to Hogwarts!” “We!” exclaimed Harry. “There’s no reason for all of us to go. Hermione & I just need to get a few books.” Harry expected Ron to be upset, but Ron hadn’t even heard him. He had just noticed the cup on the table and was staring at it. “Harry! That’s not.. you didn’t already…” Harry grinned. “We went this morning. It was on the third floor of the Riddle house.”
“You went without us!?” Ron & Ginny shouted simultaneously. “We didn’t know when you two would see the light of day again,” said Hermione with a smirk. “This isn’t exactly the kind of thing that we can do leisurely. The obituary page of the Prophet is getting longer every day.” They both nodded, and took a seat on either side of Hermione. Harry & Hermione took turns telling them the events of that morning. Ron was impressed. “So you got two Horcruxes at once,” said Ron. “Maybe this will be easier than we thought!” Harry & Hermione exchanged a knowing look. “No, just one,” said Harry. “Dumbledore was wrong about Nagini.” Ron croaked in surprise and buried his face in his hands. “So now there are two that we know nothing about, and a third that we have no idea where to start looking for. This quest stinks Harry!” “If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a quest, now would it?” … Without the hustle and bustle of students and teachers coming and going everywhere, Hogwarts was a very lonely looking place. A cold wind blew in off the lake, raising the hairs on the back all of their necks. It was just after sunrise, and Hagrid’s hut was dark, but there was smoke rising from the chimney. The four of them looked at it uneasily. Hagrid hadn’t done very much to repair the fire damage from earlier in the year. It made them wonder what else he had been neglecting. Hermione took a deep breath, and knocked twice. As expected, they were greeted by the booming voice of Fang. Fang carried on for about 2 minutes, but there was no sign that Hagrid was in the hut with him. Hermione tried again twice, but received no answer other than Fang’s increased enthusiasm. “He couldn’t have been gone long,” said Ginny. “Unless Fang learned how to light the fireplace.” “I don’t see a single light on in the castle,” said Ron. “My guess is he’s in the forest.” “Well come on then,” said Harry from inside his invisibility cloak. “It’s not like we’ve never been in there before.” Rather than make Harry take the cloak off, Ron took the lead into the forest, Hermione second, with Harry last behind Ginny. “Where exactly am I going Harry?” asked Ron.
“Well, Aragog’s dead and I doubt he’d be having tea with the centaurs. So chances are he’s with Grawp.” “I’ve never been in to see Grawp! Hermione, you lead!” They started walking in, calling out Hagrid’s name every few minutes. They reached the spot where Hermione and Harry had first seen Grawp in less than an hour, but neither Hagrid nor Grawp were anywhere to be found. Hermione sat down to think. “Let’s just go back and wait for him at the hut,” she finally said. “He’ll turn up pretty soon.” The others all groaned and started walking back the way they had come. About 15 minutes into their walk back, 3 crossbow bolts narrowly missed Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. All three froze in their tracks. “ Halt!” a voice shouted from behind a tree. “I didn’t have to miss! Identify yerselves or the next three make their homes in yer heads!” “Hagrid!” cried Hermione. “It’s Hermione Granger, with Ron and Ginny Weasley!” Hagrid stepped out from behind the tree, his crossbow still trained on all three of them. “A likely story! Tell me something, Hermione…” Hagrid stopped to think for a moment. “What form does yer patronus take?!” “Otter! An otter!” “Foine, foine. Tell me Ron…” Hagrid again stopped to think. “What was the final score of the Gryffindor / Ravenclaw final last year!?” “450 to 140!” Ron said proudly. “Can you please lower the crossbow now!?” “GINNY!” Hagrid boomed, ignoring Ron. “What did Romilda Vane ask you about Harry when you two first got together!?” “If it was true that he had a hippogriff tattooed on his chest!” Hagrid stared at the three of them, wanting to be convinced, but they could tell that something had really spooked him that night and he wasn’t taking any chances. “One more… one more.. let’s see…” he muttered to himself. “O.k…. why do we have to be quiet in the front hallway of the headquarters of the Order!?” “So we don’t wake Sirius’ mom up Hagrid!” they all said at once.
He was finally convinced, and he lowered his crossbow. “Blimey!” he said, as the three of them ran up to hug him. “What in the ruddy hell do yeh lot think you’re doing here?” “We..” began Ron, but Hermione interrupted him. “I am still planning to take my N.E.W.T.s Hagrid,” she said. “Mrs. Weasley said that you can take them at the ministry!” “Well that’s mighty admirable of you Hermione,” said Hagrid. “That don’t give you cause to be wanderin’ in this forest so late at night.” “We were looking for you!” Ron said. “She wants to get some books from the library, and we need you to let us in to the castle.” Hagrid stared at the three of them. “If it were anybody else… well this is not the place to discuss it. C’mon, this place ain’t safe right now.” The four of them waited for an explanation, but Hagrid did not give one; he immediately turned on his heel and began to lead the way out of the forest. They struggled to keep up. “Hagrid,” Hermione said a few minutes later. “What had you so spooked back there?” “Not now, not now. Wait until we get back to my house.” … 20 minutes later, they arrived at Hagrid’s front door. Hagrid breathed a great sigh, looked at the three pairs of eyes staring at him, and said simply, “Dementors.” “Dementors!” Hermione exclaimed. “Dementors,” Hagrid repeated. “In the forest. Unicorns have been going missin’ from the forest for weeks, and the dementors are keepin’ me from tryin’ to find out why.” With that, he beckoned them inside. Harry briefly debated whether or not he should go in as well, and decided to stay outside and listen at the window. “They’re not even turnin’ up dead this time,” Hagrid said once they’d all been seated. “I’ll come across the scene of a struggle, where there might be a little bit o’ unicorn blood, but I ain’t found no bodies. Somebody’s jus’ takin’ ‘em. Whenever I start followin’ a trail from one of those scenes though, the dementors chase me out of the forest.” “Is that what happened tonight?” asked Ginny. “No… I wish,” said Hagrid, and shuddered. “I must’ve gotten really close to sometin’ tonight they dint want me to see. One of ‘em tried to kiss me.”
The two girls shrieked, and Ron practically fell out of his chair. Hagrid nodded. “Never been so happy fer this giant blood before in me life. It made me really dizzy, and I had trouble walkin’ fer a bit. But as you can see, I still got me soul.” He grinned. “We can drive them out for you if you want Hagrid,” Ron said. “You know that both Hermione and I can conjure corporeal patronuses. Patronuses… patroni..? Anyways, more than one patronus. We’ll have the forest cleared out in no time.” Hagrid considered this, then shook his head no. “Don’t want you lot gettin’ involved without some betters here in case somethin’ goes wrong. No Professor Dumbledore or McGonagall to call on if the…” He stopped talking. Bringing up Dumbledore had an obvious negative effect on Hagrid, and he got up and walked to the other side of the hut so the three of them would not see him tearing up. With his back turned to them, he quickly changed the subject. “So! Yeh need some books from the library do yeh? I don’t think Headmistress McGonagall would have a problem with that. I’m sure she’d want to know someone was getting’ some use out of ‘em. C’mon then.” He left the hut and started towards the castle with the three of them in tow. Hermione was now in the rear, and she whispered “You still with us Harry?” “Yeah, in front of you,” he whispered back. Hagrid was still anxious to keep his mind off Dumbledore, so he looked back and said, “What do you lot think about Harry goin’ missin’ ? Any idea where he mighta gone?” The three looked at each other. “He told us at the wedding that he had to go away for a while,” said Ginny. “I’m sure he’ll turn up once he’s done… whatever he needs to do.” “Aye, somethin Dumbledore told ‘im he needed to do, I’m guessin…” He sighed as he caught himself again. “Books! Yeh need books. Let’s go get ‘em.” Hagrid opened the portcullis at the front of the castle, and led them all inside. If the outside of the castle was lonely and gloomy, it was nothing compared to the inside. What had been the setting for all of the happiest moments in Harry’s life now had all the life and charm of a mausoleum. Hagrid might have picked up on this thought, for he said, “Aye, not so cheery right now. Jus’ wait. It’ll be back open again in no time.” They followed Hagrid up the stairs. When they got to the fourth floor, Hermione whispered “Good luck!” Hagrid led the three inside the library, while Harry broke off and continued up to the seventh floor. He reached the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy, and was about to begin the familiar ritual of passing by three times, when a low and sinister voice interrupted his thoughts. “I think it’s almost your bedtime Potter,” hissed the voice. Harry pivoted to see the Bloody Baron floating halfway down the corridor looking straight at him. “You can see through my cloak! I never knew that,” said Harry. “What do you want?”
“I merely wish to hear of the disappearing unicorns. I have a feeling that oaf may have regaled you with details of their latest plight.” “I’m sorry… sir,” Harry said, unsure how to address the Baron. “I’m afraid I don’t have time…” “No, of course not,” hissed the Baron, annoyed. “Always in a hurry is our young Master Potter.” The Baron began to float away. Harry hesitated, then called out “Sir! I’m sorry sir, that was very rude of me.” The Baron began to float back. “Such a polite young man,” he said. “More polite than I would have expected, judging from the way Snape always spoke of you.” “Snape formed his opinion of me before he even knew me,” Harry said curtly. “Why do you want to know about the unicorns?” “Let’s just say their disappearances seem a little…. familiar to me,” the Baron said. “What has the half-giant told you?” “Only that they’re being taken from the forest by force, but with little to no blood left behind. And that whenever Hagrid tries to track them down, Dementors chase him from the forest.” “I see..” The Baron paused. “That is.. fascinating. Tell me, how well do you know your history, young Potter?” Harry smirked. “You sound like my friend Hermione. Not very well, I’m afraid. Professor Binns… doesn’t exactly make history a compelling subject.” To Harry’s shock, the Baron actually chuckled. “No, I suppose not.” His tone quickly became serious again. “Hear this Potter. Just as it threatened to in your second year here, I feel some of this castle’s dark past may be about to repeat itself.” “Just because some unicorns are going missing?” asked Harry. “What do you think is going to happen again?” “The unicorns are just the beginning,” the Baron said, ignoring Harry’s question. “This friend of yours, Hermione, you say she knows her history?” Harry nodded. “Yes, but..” The Baron interrupted him. “Listen to me Potter. You’re not likely to find this dreadful event in any school textbook. It’s not the kind of thing Binns would teach you either.” Harry noticed with another shock that the Baron almost sounded afraid now. “If I am right, a tremendous folly is about to be attempted again. It failed the first time, costing hundreds of lives. I’ve no doubt that a second attempt will fail as well.”
Harry was growing quite annoyed with the Baron’s cryptic narrative. “I don’t suppose you expect me to thwart this attempt, whatever it is? Because frankly I’ve got enough on my plate at the moment.” The Baron stared down his nose at Harry. “You’ll do as you wish, of course,” he said menacingly. “But if I’ve piqued your interest enough to distract you from your own selfish interests for a bit, you’ll want to look in to strange occurrences in and around the year 1726. That way you’ll recognize the signs, should they arise again…” “That’s it?” asked Harry. “You can’t tell me what this ‘folly’ was yourself?” “If you see more signs Potter, come and visit me again. Then, only then, will I speak of it. I will do so only if I absolutely have to. It is simply too horrible…” With that, the Baron drifted back the way he had come. Harry took only a moment to ponder this bizarre exchange, then resolved himself to the task he had come here for. He walked by the tapestry once. I need to get my potions book back. Again. I need to get my potions book back. A third time. I need to get my potions book back. He looked over his shoulder. The door to the room of requirement had materialized. … When he got back to the fourth floor, he found the library deserted, so he hurried downstairs to find Hermione stalling Hagrid at the front of the castle. “Well, it’s just that I want to look through all of the books one last time, just to make sure I have everything I need!” “Hermione!” chuckled Hagrid. “You’ve already looked through ‘em 6 times. Ain’t you sure by now?” “I don’t..” Harry walked up behind her and gave her the pre-arranged signal – he tugged the back of her cloak three times. “… want to waste any more of your time Hagrid; I’m sure I have everything I need.” “Waste my time!” bellowed Hagrid. “Listen, the three of you can waste my time whenever you want. This place is damn lonely without yeh!”
Hermione smiled. “We’ll make it a point to visit more often then,” she said. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed Hagrid’s cheek. “You just be sure that Harry’s with yeh when yeh come back,” said Hagrid. He waved farewell and walked back to his hut. The four of them raced to the edge of the grounds so they could apparate back to Godric’s Hollow (Ginny was side apparating with Harry). On the way there, Harry told them what that Bloody Baron had told him. “I don’t remember anything around that time period in Hogwarts: A History,” said Hermione. They had reached the borders. “I suppose it’s worth looking in to.” “Come on, let’s go,” said Ginny. “We told Mom we’d be home by 10:00.” “Alright then,” said Harry, as he grabbed Ginny’s hand. “I think we’re done here.” The four of them popped out of existence.
After Ginny had said goodbye to Harry (with Ron staring alternately at the clock and the ceiling the entire time), she and Ron jumped in to the fireplace and went home. Harry looked over at Hermione. “Can you stay for a bit? I have to work tomorrow, and I don’t have a day off for another week.” “Sure,” she said. “Ok,” Harry said. “What all were you able to grab from the library?” Hermione laid 7 books out on the table for Harry. Harry surveyed them all. Each book sounded more sinister than the last. “How many of these were from the Restricted section?” he asked. “6 of them. And I think Hexes Most Heinous might have been misfiled; it was in with some books on how to make water dance.” Harry grabbed the first title he had seen, Advanced Curse Breaking Volume 3 – Hiccups through Narcilepsy, and started thumbing through it. “So I guess I’ll read 4, including the potions book, and you’ll read 4, and hope that if there is a curse on the cup, we’ll have already seen the cure in one of them?” “Don’t be silly,” Hermione said. “Even if you weren’t working, I could get through these books faster than you. I’ll read through them all this week, and we’ll try to destroy the cup on your next day off.” Harry nodded. “Okay then…” Hermione was on her way out the door to apparate home, but something in Harry’s voice stopped her. “What’s wrong?” “I was just thinking… It won’t take Voldemort too long to figure out why I was in his father’s house. I’d say my cover will be blown by my next day off.” “So?” “So… maybe it’s time I come out of hiding.” Hermione considered this for a moment. “Maybe… soon. But not quite. Let’s get the cup business out of the way and then we’ll decide on our next step” “The cup is the main reason though,” Harry said. “What if those books aren’t enough? I’d feel much better destroying this thing in a room full of adult wizards then with just you and those seven books…. No offense!” he added, as she began to scowl. She sighed, and nodded. “I agree.. to an extent. I will tell you what. We’ll tell one more person, an adult, and they can be here when you…”
“Lupin,” Harry interrupted. “Of the adults I trust, he’s the least likely to be put in danger by the knowledge we’ll have to give him.” “Agreed. What should I tell him though? He’s too busy for an afternoon field trip to Godric’s Hollow..”” Harry considered this. “He won’t believe the truth, that’s for sure.” He looked up at her. “I guess I’ll just have to come with you.” … Excerpt – THE DAILY PROPHET September 16th, 1997 – Front Page Headline PETTIGREW TO BE TRANSFERRED TO AZKABAN By Jean Nilor Wong Peter Pettigrew, alleged Death Eater recently captured in Ireland, will be moved this afternoon from his comfy cell in the ministry to the minimum security wing of Azkaban prison. Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour made a brief statement to the press, then handed the microphone over to Auror Kinglsey Shacklebolt for any further questions. “The memory and confusion charms placed on Pettigrew were simply too powerful for any of us to penetrate,” said Scrimgeour. “He has no idea who he is, or what he has done to deserve his punishment. As such, he has obviously not been able to give us any information as to You-Know-Who’s whereabouts. For all practical purposes, Peter Pettigrew doesn’t even exist anymore. Thank you.” When asked to run down the list of counter-charms that had been attempted on Pettigrew, Shacklebolt would only state that they had exhausted every possibility available to them. “Ironically, the only known expert on memory charms who might have a chance at restoring Pettigrew’s memory is currently in St. Mungo’s for the very same malady.” Erased memory or no, this reporter will be back tomorrow with an exclusive interview with Pettigrew himself… …
“How many so far, Severus?” “Macnair has reported 37 my Lord. Not even half the number you have requested.” From his newly acquired balcony, Voldemort surveyed the hillside below him, where the majority of Hogwarts’ unicorns were now roaming. “No matter. We have plenty of time. If we have to breed them ourselves, so be it.” “Breeding unicorns is no small feat my Lord,” said Snape, who was at Voldemort’s side. “I don’t think Macnair is up to the challenge. He’s a male, for starters…” “I have no intention of putting Macnair in charge of this,” Voldemort said sharply. “I have someone else in mind. Though he will take convincing…” Snape raised one eyebrow, but did not inquire further. “The unicorns themselves, my Lord…” Voldemort cut him off. “In time Severus, all in good time. Be patient, and all will be revealed to you.” Voldemort brought out his wand, conjured up two firewhiskys, and handed one to Snape. “I have a job for you, my friend.” Snape sipped his Firewhisky and waited. “I have recently discovered the lifeless body of my beloved Nagini,” Voldemort said. “This alone would be enough to disturb me…” Voldemort became lost in his thoughts and suspicions for a moment. Snape knew better than to interrupt, and simply waited. Voldemort finally snapped back to himself. “Nagini was guarding a family heirloom which I hold very dear. Whoever her murderer was, they took this treasure for themselves. “I’m going to send you to check on some of my other possessions,” he continued. “Chances are I am worried for nothing and this murderer and thief did not know this item’s true value.” Snape nodded. “But if they did, they may know of the existence of other… hidden possessions of mine.” Snape kept his mouth, and his mind, shut. Voldemort stared down at the unicorns running freely on the hillside, still getting used to their new home. “It is my hope that none of these other objects have been disturbed. I need you to go and make sure of this.” Snape knew for a fact that two others had been disturbed; he had seen one of them, with his own eyes, resting on Dumbledore’s finger. The other he knew about from an accidental image that Potter had let slip from his mind while chasing Snape from Hogwarts. He did not dare reveal this though, of course. To reveal this would mean revealing his knowledge of the Dark Lord’s immortality. Even someone as trusted as Snape could not be allowed to live with that knowledge.
Voldemort chuckled menacingly, bringing Snape back to reality. “It does not really matter though,” he said, mostly to himself. He was back in his own thoughts and seemed to have forgotten that Snape was there for the moment. “Nobody would dare destroy the last one. Dumbledore proved that to me at the ministry.” Once again, Snape knew not to comment. After a moment, Voldemort once again returned to his senses. “Severus my friend, the first object will be found in the house of my mother and her father. It is a ring that my grandfather owned. If you find it, leave it where it is; I merely wish to have confirmation that it is still there and undisturbed…” “As you wish, my Lord,” Snape said quietly. Over the next 10 minutes, Voldemort divulged the identities and locations of the remaining Horcruxes to Snape. “This third one will be a little tricky,” Voldemort said. “You’ll need to get to a basin in the middle of the underwater lake. Once there, you’ll find the basin full of a noxious green liquid.” Voldemort looked around to make sure they were alone. “Simply stick your head into the liquid and pull the locket out with your teeth. Be careful though, do not drink or inhale the liquid.” “That is all then? Just those three items my Lord?” “Just those three. If all three of them are safe, I may decide to move them. I’ll decide once I’ve heard your report. You’ll leave in the morning.” Snape breathed a sigh. He would need to cast some powerful memory charms on himself during his trip; the Dark Lord would perform Legilimency on him upon his return, and Snape needed the Dark Lord to believe that all of these objects were still safe and undisturbed. As Snape got up to go to bed, a question formed in his mind that he did not quite dare ask the Dark Lord. None of the objects that Voldemort had revealed to him were items that nobody would “dare destroy” , as he had put it. None of them had been anywhere near the Ministry when Dumbledore had confronted Voldemort there. So what was this final object that Voldemort wasn’t telling him about? “Don’t worry about it Snape,” Voldemort said coldly from behind him. Snape silently cursed himself; his Occlumens wall had let that little bit slip. “Greater men than you would probably die in the attempt to retrieve the locket, but the protection on the last object is 100 times as great. Believe me when I say that nobody would dare destroy it. This final object does not need checking up on.” Voldemort said no more, which meant Snape was dismissed. Snape fell asleep minutes laters with visions in his head not unlike the ones Harry Potter had been dreaming about for the past two months. …
“I thought he’d never go to bed,” said a silky voice from behind where Voldemort stood on the balcony. Voldemort turned his head and smirked. “Good evening, my love. Are you feeling well?” Narcissa Black (as she had recently re-named herself) wrapped her arms around Voldemort’s neck. “Feeling wonderful. The healer at St. Mungos has given me a due date of May 20th.” Voldemort smiled and put his hand on her abdomen. “This will be the most powerful child this world has ever seen. His name will be spoken in hushed voices centuries from now.” Narcissa looked into his eyes, not fully understanding what he meant, but she smiled just the same. “And what will that name be, my Lord?” Voldemort looked at her as if the answer was the most obvious thing in the world. “My love… it will be Salazar, of course.”
The Hidden Memory
Peter Pettigrew had no way of knowing if he had ever been this scared in his life, but if he had to guess, he was sure that this moment would be in the top 5. He was being led from his cell in the ministry to a courtroom in the basement, to hear his official sentencing before being taken to Azkaban. 2 aurors were flanking him on every side, for a total of 8. Peter had been averaging 50 or so death threat Howlers a day, and they were taking no chances. They arrived at the courtroom and the two aurors in the front guard, Shacklebolt and a new initiate by the name of Rahgente Gadfly, led Pettigrew to the chair in the center of the room and forced him to sit. Immediately, the chains attached to the chair sprang to life and bound Pettigrew to it. Rufus Scrimgeour was sitting where Cornelius Fudge had sat in judgement of Harry Potter some two years earlier. He had a stack of papers in his hands that he was currently skimming through very quickly. On Scrimgeour’s left side was Percy Weasley; on his right was Minerva McGonagall. They were the only members of the Wizengamot present. Scrimgeour finished his final readthrough of the sentence and stared down at Pettigrew. “Peter Pettigrew,” he began. Pettigrew looked around at the aurors, then around the room. He looked back at Scrimgeour. “That’s me, right?” he asked, his voice trembling. Scrimgeour nodded. “You sit before this council today to hear sentencing for the numerous crimes you have committed against both the magic world and the non-magic world. The fact that you do not remember these crimes does not excuse you.” Scrimgeour motioned for the two aurors to leave. Once they were gone, he turned his attention back to Pettigrew, with disgust in his eyes. “Upon the conclusion of this meeting, you will hereby be removed to Azkaban prison, where you will stay until you die.” Pettigrew stiffened at these words, but he remained silent. “Since you have been tried and convicted in absentia, this council has agreed that you deserve to at least hear a list of the crimes you are being sentenced for.” Percy stood up and put on his glasses. “Peter Pettigrew, the list is as follows. Bear in mind that this is not a complete list of the crimes we suspect you of; merely the ones we had enough evidence to convict you for.” Percy spent the next 15 minutes reading off the list of offenses that Pettigrew had committed. Peter was genuinely shocked by each of them. Percy concluded with “And finally, using your position as secret keeper to betray Lily & James Potter’s location to You-Know-Who, which resulted in…” Pettigrew interrupted him. “Potter… I know this name!” he said excitedly.
Scrimgeour, who had been going over his notes again, looked up in surprise. “Do you mean to say that your memory has returned?” he asked skeptically. Pettigrew frowned. “No.. I just know this name alone… Potter..” He kept mumbling to himself, a puzzled look on his face. “Maybe your conscience won’t let you forget the most despicable of all your crimes,” growled Scrimgeour. “Finish reading Weasley!” Percy cleared his throat and cast a frightened look at Scrimgeour. “Which… ahh..resulted in the murders of the Potters, and the attempted murder of their infant son Harry… Pettigrew would have jumped out of his seat at that point had the chains not held him down. “Harry!” he shouted. “Harry Potter! This name… I …” Suddenly Pettigrew went as limp as a rag doll, his eyes glazing over. “I must speak with Harry Potter,” he said, in a voice that was not quite his own. “I must..speak..with.. Harry Potter…!” McGonnagal, Scrimgeour, and Weasley all exchanged incredulous looks as Pettigrew repeated himself 4 more times. “Enough!” Scrimgeour finally shouted. This seemed to bring Pettigrew out of his trance. “Exactly what do you need to speak to Harry Potter about?” Pettigrew screwed up his face in concentration. “I…. I don’t know!” Scrimgeour relaxed. “I’m sure you don’t,” he said mockingly. “If you’re done spinning tales, I’d like to get this over with. Being in your presence for this long will require at least 3 baths when I get home! Weasley!” Percy cleared his throat again. “And the attempted murder of their infant son Harry. Peter Pettigrew, this concludes your sentencing. Do you have any questions about the list that I have just read to you?” Pettigrew was having a hard time concentrating on Percy, but he shook his head. Scrimgeour nodded. “Fine. The aurors will now take you to the lobby of the ministry, where they will apparate with you to Azkaban. KINGSLEY!” Shacklebolt and Gadfly once again entered the room. The chains binding Pettigrew dropped to the floor. Pettigrew was visibly shaken now, not with the knowledge that he would soon be in Azkaban, but with the frustration of the fragment of a memory which had surfaced. He had no idea who Harry Potter was; only that something inside of him was practically ordering him to find him and speak to him. Of what he was supposed to tell him when he found him, Pettigrew was clueless. The 8 aurors and Pettigrew made quite a show for the press photographers that were waiting for them in the lobby. As soon as they stepped out of the elevator, Pettigrew found himself being assaulted by both questions and flashbulbs.
In the ensuing chaos as the aurors prepared to apparate, nobody noticed a stooped cloaked figured making his way through the photographers. This figure slowly made their way to the front of the crowd, and found himself face to face with Pettigrew. Pettigrew tried to make out a face behind the cloak’s hood. All he could make out though was a wicked smile. Pettigrew looked down to see that this figure had their wand out, pointed straight at him. He gasped and tried to push through the aurors on his other side. Kingsley noticed this, then noticed the cloaked figure and their wand. He began to shout for the others to notice, but before he could… “Latitum Memoriteratus!” A jet of baby blue light shot from the figure’s wand straight to Pettigrew’s forehead. Pettigrew blinked in surprise and stumbled backwards, but he appeared to be unharmed. By the time Shacklebolt looked back to the person in the cloak, they had already apparated away. Shacklebolt looked back over to Pettigrew. Pettigrew was rubbing his forehead, confused. “Are you hurt?” Shacklebolt asked gruffly. Pettigrew shook his head. “No… just… no.. I’m fine.” Shacklebolt looked around to the other aurors. “Latitum Memoriteratus? Does anyone know what that spell does?” The aurors, and everyone else who had heard him (including several photographers) shook their heads no. Shacklebolt nodded. “Okay, well now’s not the time to worry about it. Aurors, apparate to Azkaban on my count. 3…2….1!” …
“There’s been more than just a removal Pettigrew’s memory,” said Minerva Mcgonagall. “Something, some bit of information is locked away in his mind, and it was placed there deliberately. And it seems only Harry Potter could have unlocked it.” Remus Lupin had his face in his hands. “Somehow I doubt it, Minerva,” he said. “He latched on to something he thought would buy him time. He was just trying to delay his trip to Azkaban. Scrimgeour was right to not listen to him.” Minerva surveyed Remus with concern, and a little apprehension as well. “The moon will be out in 3 hours Remus. Shouldn’t you be… locking yourself up soon?” Remus pulled his head up and grinned. “You’re right. But I would hear of Pettigrew’s attacker first. Did anyone get a look at him?” Minerva shook her head. “13 of the nosiest photographers in London and nobody gets a look at this guy? How did he get so close in the first place?!” “We’re still looking in to that,” said Minerva. “It seems nobody even remembers seeing him until he had his wand in Pettigrew’s face.” They heard a pop and a door opening, then Arthur Weasley peeked his head into the kitchen at 12 Grimmauld Place, where Minerva and Remus were conversing. “Ah… it seems you’re already talking about what I came to ask you about.” He was looking at Minerva. He sat down at the kitchen table. “Tell me everything.” Minerva sighed. “Perhaps we would do well to call a meeting so that I do not have to tell this story 14 different times!” As Arthur and Remus were nodding their agreement, several more pops were heard outside. “Maybe we don’t have to call a meeting after all,” said Arthur. The entire Order of the Phoenix (except for Kingsley Shacklebolt, who was still taking care of business at Azkaban, and Hagrid) were now pushing to get through the front door first. Once everyone was seated snugly in the kitchen, Minerva did a head count. “Who are we missing?” she asked. “Hagrid,” Fred, George, Ron, & Hermione said simultaneously. “I’ll call him,” Molly Weasley said. “He may be on his way here already though; he never did learn to apparate, poor Hagrid.” Molly marched out to find the fireplace. “I’ll go ahead and start without him,” said Minerva. “As you may have heard, there were some rather odd occurrences at the ministry today…” She began by telling of Pettigrew’s odd trance, and ended with the strange spell that the hooded figure had cast, and Pettigrew’s lack of a reaction to it.
Everyone was silent for a moment. Then Charlie Weasley spoke up. “It’s the same line he gave us when he was disguised as Snape,” he said. “He said he needed to speak to Harry then too.” Remus nodded at this. “The two are connected, though not like you may think they are Charlie. Obviously, whoever had him Imperiused at the inn in Ravenclaw wanted him to get close to Harry. Pettigrew was panicking during his sentencing, and I think he just latched on to the only thing he could think of – the thing that made us sit up and take notice at the inn.” “So the trance was faked too then?” asked Hermione. “That seems like quite an elaborate ruse for someone as dense as Pettigrew.” There were murmurs of agreement at this. Remus merely shrugged. “Who knows what goes through someone’s mind when they’re being sent to prison?” he said. “I’m more interested in the spell that was cast on him. Latitum Memoriteratus.. has anyone ever heard of this?” Every head at the table was shaking no. Remus frowned. “I want someone at Azkaban watching Pettigrew,” he said. “If the effects of that spell start to manifest, I want to know about it right away.” Arthur nodded. “I’ll ask Kingsley to arrange it,” he said. “It’ll need to be done quietly, but I’m sure he can pull some strings.” Minerva looked around the room. “Is there anything else?” Everyone shook their heads. “Okay then, until next time…” Everyone stood up to leave. A thought suddenly struck Hermione. “Wait!” Everyone turned to look at her, and she blushed. Minerva raised one eyebrow, amused. “Yes, miss Granger?” “Umm.. well I just was wondering if… does anyone know of anything significant about the year 1726?” Hermione was greeted with a sea of stares, some amused, some annoyed, all confused. All but Tonks, who merely looked curious and a little frightened. Alastor Moody spoke up first. “A rather odd question miss Granger… may I inquire as to its inspiration?” Hermione begin to sputter as she searched for a reason that sounded real. Surprisingly, Ron came to her rescue. “Hermione is thinking of writing a book about Hogwarts,” Ron said. “Kind of a less stuffy version of Hogwarts: A History. The kind students will actually want to read.” Hermione smiled as she kicked him under the table. Minerva didn’t believe this, but she decided not to press it. “So why 1726?” she asked. “What makes you ask about that year in particular?”
Again, Ron answered. “Just before the school year ended, she interviewed all the school ghosts,” he said, a little too quickly. “3 of the ghosts were happy to oblige, but the Bloody Baron wasn’t forthcoming at all. He did tell her that he would talk to her if she did some of her own work first. He told her to research that year in particular!” Hermione grinned unconvincingly. Nobody was going to believe that. She looked around the table, but surprisingly, rather than disbelieving looks, she got many thoughtful looks as the Order of the Phoenix tried to remember anything significant about 1726. Suddenly, everyone started talking at once. “Is that the year that Nicolas Flamel swam across the English Channel?” asked Bill Weasley. “I’m zeenking zat’s when ze Centaurs invaded Paris,” said Fleur De La Coeur. “Is that the year Knocturne Alley opened?” asked Molly Weasley. “It’s the year Arcturus’ Gate was created,” said Tonks timidly. “I’m sure of it, that’s when goblins let a thousand nifflers lose in London,” said Moody. “No wait, wasn’t it…” began Arthur, but Hermione interrupted him. “Wait,” she said. “Tonks, what did you say?” With a sigh and a downward glance, Tonks said “Arcturus’ Gate. It was created in 1726.” Only Arthur and Moody seemed to know what Tonks was talking about, for they were both wearing the same stunned expression; everyone else just looked expectant. “And what exactly is Arcturus’ Gate?” asked Hermione. “I’m not sure what this has to do with Hogwarts,” began Tonks, “but it is an extremely dark magical object created by an ancestor of mine.” Tonks shuddered. “It was created to be used in a ceremony which, to the best of my knowledge, never occurred. Or at least never occurred successfully.” “What is it?” asked Ron. “What is it a gate to?” Arthur and Moody exchanged glances with Tonks. When Tonks still hadn’t answered after nearly a minute, Arthur spoke up. “You were there Ron. You were there the day Sirius fell through it.” “The veil?” asked Hermione. “That thing has a name?” Tonks nodded. “What was the ceremony that it was intended for Tonks?” “That part I never found out,” said Tonks. “My mother was never one for fairy tales at bedtime; I used to hear instead about all the horrible things the Black family had done.” This was greeted by a lot of odd stares. “You know, so I wouldn’t end up like them!
“Anyways, nobody outside of Arcturus’ closest inner circle knew what the Gate was meant for,” she continued. “But one thing that did get passed down – if the ceremony had been successful, the Gate would have been closed off once it’s purpose was complete.” She looked over at Hermione and Ron. “Obviously, the Gate is still open.” “So some 18th century nutter intentionally created a gateway to the land of the dead?” exclaimed Ron. Tonks nodded. “And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that dear old Arcturus died that year,” she said. “We don’t know anything for sure. But my mother was convinced that Arcturus was killed by this ceremony going badly.” The table was silent for a moment. Then Hermione spoke up. “That’s interesting… but you’re right, I don’t know what it has to do with Hogwarts,” she said. Tonks nodded in agreement “Unless anyone can think of anything else, I guess I’ll just keep reading.” She looked around the table, but nobody else seemed to have anything else to add. “Okay then! Umm.. Remus, can I speak with you privately before I leave?” Remus looked surprised, but he nodded. “As long as it’s quick,” he said, and gestured skywards. Hermione gasped, and nodded. Everyone said their goodbyes, then Hermione led Remus up to the room which had been hers and Ginny’s two years before. “Have a seat, sir,” she said. “I need your solemn promise that what I’m about to show you stays with you. Absolutely nobody, including other Order members, can know about this.” “Hermione, I…” “Yes or no.” He sighed. “Fine, I promise.” Hermioned nodded, satisfied. She then turned her attention to a corner which, as near as Remus could tell, had nothing in it. “Harry…” Harry was already taking off his invisibility cloak when she said this. Normally he would have been ecstatic to see Remus again, but after hearing Tonks’ story his face was very grim. Remus, however, looked ecstatic enough for both of them. “Remus,” he said. “It’s great to see you. Now listen to me very carefully….”
It took nearly 45 minutes to bring Remus up to speed. By that time, the sun was dangerously low on the horizon, and every so often Remus would catch himself growling quietly. They explained everything to him, from Voldemort’s personal history to the Bloody Baron’s cryptic message. “Horcruxes,” Remus muttered quietly. “So obvious.. and yet none of us thought of it.” “Even if you had, I doubt you could have guessed that He would make more than one,” reassured Hermione. “Probably the only person who could have guessed that would have been Slughorn.” Remus sat a moment in thought. “Here’s what I think. I think I need to chain myself up in the attic right now. We’ll discuss our next step once I’ve recovered tomorrow.” Harry beamed. “So you’re going to help us then?” he said excitedly. Remus gaped at him. “What kind of a question is that?” he asked, incredulous. “You’re damn right I’m going to help you!!” Remus got up to leave. “I want the two of you to stay here tonight,” he said. “You can use the same rooms you used when you stayed here before. And Harry?” “Yes?” “You have no idea how good it is to see you safe.” … Remus had placed silencing charms all around the attic so that nobody would be bothered by his constant howling & growling. As such, Hermione slept soundlessly across the hallway from Harry. Harry was not so lucky. He was dreaming again. Currently, he could find nothing in his dream to worry him. He was standing on a balcony overlooking a rather tranquil countryside in the early hours of the morning. He was waiting for something.. or someone… He then noticed them. Several unicorns had just crested a hillside about a mile away and had began running towards the bottom of the hill. They did not seem to be agitated at all, but for some reason he could sense that they were unhappy.
He heard footsteps behind him and turned on his heel. He found himself face to face with Fenrir Greyback. Fenrir got down on one knee. “You summoned me, my Lord?” “Indeed,” Harry said. “But first, may I ask how well Snape’s Wolfsbane potion worked for you?” “It worked exactly as promised my Lord,” said Greyback. “Though I must say I would prefer not to take it. My reflexes are much more heightened when I am completely lost in my wolf form.” Harry nodded. “I have an assignment. You may involve some of your kin if you wish, but I would prefer this be handled by you and you alone.” “As you wish, my Lord,” said Greyback. “I will only seek assistance if absolutely necessary. What would you wish of me?” “You are to play a crucial role in the ceremony which I have planned for next year,” said Harry. “You are to find four Mudblood children and bring them to me.” “Most certainly my Lord. It should be a simple task.” “Not that simple,” said Harry, annoyed. “I haven’t told you which four children yet!” Fenrir cowered, anticipating a curse. When none came, he said “My apologies, my Lord. Which four children did you have in mind?” “That is for you to discover,” said Harry. “I require four children born at certain times during the year. I require 2 Mudblood girls born during the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes. And I require 2 Mudblood boys born during the Summer and Winter Solstices.” Harry waited for Greyback to ask him any questions. When he didn’t, Harry continued. “The age of the children does not matter, save for the boy born during the Winter Solstice. This child must still be an infant by the time the ceremony begins. Therefore, he must be born this coming Solstice.” Fenrir frowned as he began to appreciate this difficulty of this task. “And.. who will care for these children until the ceremony begins, my Lord?” Harry smirked. “You, of course, Fenrir. And make no mistake – these children must be in perfect health, not to mention still human,” he said, with a warning look in his eye, “by the time we are ready to begin.” “You wish for me… to be a babysitter, my Lord?” “CRUCIO!” The curse that Fenrir had expected earlier was now upon him in full force.
“I WISH FOR YOU TO DO AS YOU ARE TOLD WITHOUT QUESTION!” Fenrir was fading away. His face was melting and transforming, and oddly it was starting to look like Hermione. “Harry! HARRY!” Harry sat upright in his bed at 12 Grimmauld Place. His scar was on fire, and he was still screaming. “YOU HAVE UNTIL THE MONTH OF JUNE TO FIND THESE CHILDREN, GREYBACK!” Hermione screamed in horror and stumbled backwards away from the bed. That was not Harry’s voice. Harry screamed again, in his own voice, and fell off the bed onto the floor, where he began to convulse. Hermione’s concern over her friend eventually won out over her horror at what she had just heard, and she kneeled down at Harry’s side. Gradually, Harry’s convulsions died down and he was able to look around. Hermione remained silent. He would talk when he was ready. His breathing finally returned to normal. He looked up at Hermione and half-grinned. “If you say one word about my Occlumency lessons..” She laughed and stood up. Shakily, Harry stood up as well and sat on the bed. Hermione got right to the point. “Was it Voldemort?” Harry nodded. “I was Voldemort. And this was probably the most vivid one yet. I was giving orders to Fenrir Greyback…” Harry’s eyes widened. “There were unicorns there… and he mentioned a ceremony.” Hermione nodded, as if she had been expecting this. “That confirms it, I suppose,” she said. “But I don’t think that’ll be enough to convince the Bloody Baron to tell us the rest.” Harry frowned. “There was something else… at the end… something right before I woke up..” Hermione seemed to not have heard this; she got up and started pacing. “This is.. so unlike him! Why isn’t he blocking you any more Harry?” Harry chuckled. “Maybe he thinks I’m dead too?” he said jokingly. Hermione stopped and turned to look at Harry. “That’s not funny. What if that’s exactly the reason why?” “Voldemort is not going to believe the Prophet or rumors that Death Eaters were at Bill & Fleur’s wedding,” said Harry. “He wouldn’t think I was dead unless he’d seen the body for himself. He’s just trying to bait me again.” “Bait you?”
“Bait me out in to the open, like he did with Sirius,” Harry answered. “In fact, who knows if what he’s sending me is what is actually happening?” Hermione thought about this, then nodded. “However, that doesn’t mean we should discount anything you’re seeing,” she said. “What were the orders you…. He was giving to Greyback?” “He was ordering him to kidnap some children,” Harry said in disgust. “Four Mud…” Harry realized what he had been about to say and clapped his hands over his mouth. Hermione either did not notice or did not mind. “..Muggle born children born at certain times during the year.” Hermione looked puzzled. “If that’s supposed to be bait, it’s not very good,” she said. “You would think he’d try for something more personal to you, like he did with Sirius.” Harry shrugged. “Who can fathom his logic?” “I’m sure it’s connected to this ceremony, whatever it is,” surmised Hermione. “I think it’s time we read a little more in to the history of Arcturus Black.” “Go for it,” said Harry. “Just wait until after we’ve….” Harry’s eyes widened as he finally remembered what he had seen at the end of the dream. “What?” asked Hermione. “What is it!?” “Your missing personal interest,” Harry said smugly. “Hagrid was in the dream. He was herding the unicorns!” … “Remus, isn’t there anyone who could follow Snape’s instructions and make the Wolfsbane potion for you?” “No doubt Horace Slughorn could,” replied Remus. “But he’s gone back in to hiding, I’m afraid.” Remus had come downstairs that morning looking like he had fought off some giants for fun while he slept. The fact that his multiple bruises and cuts were self-inflicted made it that much more painful for Hermione to see. “If I get a moment,” Hermione said, “I’m going to try to make some before the next full moon.” Remus chuckled. “Good luck Hermione, but you…” Harry cut him off. “It’s no use arguing with her, sir,” he said with a yawn. “She made Polyjuice Potion in her second year and she will not let anyone forget it.” Remus’ eyes widened at this. “Why on earth would you be making Polyjuice Potion in your second year?”
“It’s not important,” said Hermione, and she glared at Harry. “We’re going to destroy the cup today, and we need to focus on that.” She pushed back from the kitchen table and stretched. “Harry, you go ahead home. Remus and I will need to stop by the Weasley’s first, of course.” “Why is that?” asked Remus. “It’s where we keep our secret keeper,” said Harry. “He’s helping Molly with housework until Hogwarts reopens.” … Harry had been waiting for nearly an hour, and had almost started to fall back asleep when he heard four pops outside. “This is being the place, mister Lupin!” Harry heard from outside. “19 Wapcaplett Way. Just like mister Harry is telling me.” The front door opened. “Harry!” he heard Ginny yell. “Let’s get this over with!” Harry grabbed a hammer from the table on the side of the bed. He’d bought it specifically for today. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, Ginny & Dobby both fought with each other to hug him first. Once all the hellos had been said (Ginny, Ron, & Dobby had all insisted on being included) the 6 of them sat down at the dining room table, where Helga Hufflepuff’s cup still sat. “So are you just supposed to smash it and hope for the best?” asked Ginny. Everyone exchanged glances around the table, and eventually everyone nodded. “This has been done twice before,” said Harry. “We’ll never know what happened with the ring that Dumbledore destroyed, but when I destroyed the diary, the only thing bad that happened was I got some ink in my eye.” He grinned. “It’s like I said before. He wouldn’t have to protect each one to feel safe. As long as one or two were heavily protected or cursed, he could afford to be blasé about the rest.” “Maybe,” said Ron. “But the two that have had the most protection so far have been found. At least one of them was destroyed. He had to have known that His protection was still vulnerable.” “So?” said Ginny. “So, I’m thinking Harry got lucky with the diary,” said Ron. “I’d be willing to bet each of the others has some kind of curse on it. Especially considering how easily you found this one.” He nodded towards the cup.
“Which is why we’re so well prepared, Ronald,” said Hermione, and she kissed his cheek. “All the potion ingredients Harry could afford are in the cupboards, at hand if we need them. We’ve got several curse breaking books on hand, all of which I’ve read through twice.” Ron shook his head in amazement at this last part. “And we’ve got the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we’ve ever had sitting with us. We’re as ready as we’re ever going to be.” She looked at Harry. “It’s now or never!” Harry stood up, hammer in hand, and regarded the cup. He raised the hammer up in to the air, but then… “Harry, stop!” yelled Remus. Harry looked across the table at Remus, puzzled. “I’m sure Voldemort,” (Ron, Ginny, and Dobby winced) “would have thought of this, but it wouldn’t hurt to try and detect any curses first.” Without waiting for assent, Remus grabbed the cup from the table and pointed his wand at it. “Maleficus Deprehensio!” For a few moments, nothing happened. Remus placed the cup back on to the table. After a few moments more, the cup started shaking violently. But just as quickly as it had started, it stopped. Then the growling started. A deep, angry, throaty growl was coming from inside the cup itself. It gradually turned into both snarls and growls, with the occasional bark and howl. Everyone sat in stunned silence as the cup tipped over and started sniffing. Then, incredibly, Remus began to laugh. He laughed so hard that he almost fell out of his chair. Everyone began to look at him strangely, and Dobby was even becoming a little afraid. Once he had calmed down, he looked over at Harry. “Whatever angels are watching over you Harry,” Remus said, “I wish they would start sending some of your good luck my way.” Harry cast him an amused but quizzical look. “I don’t know how he did it,” continued Remus, “but Voldemort made sure that anyone who tried to destroy this cup would become…” “A werewolf,” Hermione finished for him, and began to laugh as well. Seconds later, the rest of the table joined her (including Dobby, who didn’t get the joke). “Allow me, Harry,” said Remus, and he reached for the hammer in Harry’s hands. Harry handed it over gladly. “On three?” Remus asked. “1…2…3!” Remus swung the hammer down and hit the cup on its side. Rather than shattering, the cup merely began to crack. This was apparently enough, for two things happened at once as soon as the crack reached the bottom of the cup.
From the crack came two apparitions. The first was the misty form of a miserable face that only Harry and Ginny recognized as the face of Tom Riddle. It still looked mostly human, so Harry surmised that this was probably one of the first Horcruxes that He had created, if not the first. This apparition quickly rose through the ceiling and disappeared, moaning as it went. The second apparition was a ghostly wolf-shaped thing, which went straight for Remus, snarling angrily as it flew towards him. At first it appeared to be both disappearing in to his skin and melding with it at the same time. A moment later, the apparition backed out of Remus, with what could only be described as a confused look on its face (if it even had a face). Harry wasn’t sure how curses could be confused, but this one surely was. With a renewed sense of purpose, it flew at Remus once again, only to back out again twice as frustrated as before. Harry noticed that it had begun to lose form, and was more transparent than when it had first emerged from the crack in the cup. It decided to give up on Remus, and began to look around the table for someone else. Remus knew the curse had already lost most of its power, but he didn’t want to take any chances. In a flash his wand was out and pointed at the wolf-thing. Just as it had set its sights on Ron, Remus shouted “Immobulus!” That was all it took. The wolf-thing froze, and then dissipated like a cloud of smoke. “Dobby!” Ron shouted. “Geroff me!” Everyone looked over at Ron, who now had a terrified house-elf on his head, holding on to his ears for dear life. “No one is telling Dobby of these things, Wheezy!” Dobby said, trembling. “Dobby would stay at home with Mrs. Wheezy if he had known!” “You’re the one who begged to come,” said Ron, still trying to pull Dobby off his head. “You didn’t let us tell you what would happen!” Dobby finally hopped off of Ron’s head and crawled back to his chair, still trembling. “Well now,” said Remus with a smile, “let us hope that the remaining three will be as effortless as that one! What’s the plan for finding the next one?” Hermione and Harry looked at each other. Both sighed. “There really isn’t one Remus,” said Harry. “Who knows where the locket is, and the other two we have no clue what they are.” “Well.. as for the locket,” said Remus, “I’m surprised at you, Hermione. The most obvious place to start would be 12 Grimmauld Place. After all, Regulus wasn’t exactly an outcast from his home once he became a Death Eater. Quite the opposite, I would imagine.”
Hermione sighed. “I did think of that. But nothing is left there, Remus! Sirius got rid of everything in that house that belonged to his family,” she said. “If the locket was there, it was thrown out, and could be anywhere now.” Remus thought this over. “You’re right I suppose,” he said. “But it’s still a good place to start. I’m practically living there now anyway; I’ll go through the house from top to bottom and see if I can find any clues that Regulus may have left behind.” Dobby suddenly perked up, and he looked over at Remus, his eyes shining. “I is realizing something, mister Harry Potter sir!” He laughed and clapped his hands together. “We is telling mister Lupin that you is alive, and where he can be finding you! Does this mean we can be telling Mrs. Wheezy soon?” Hermione grabbed Dobby’s hand and shook her head. “It was a risk even telling Remus, Dobby,” she said. “I can’t explain it, but I feel very strongly that this needs to stay a secret still. To be perfectly honest, I feel like too many people know already.” You were the one who told Ginny, thought Harry, but he stayed quiet. Dobby nodded sadly, and looked down in to his lap. “It is just… I is seeing Mrs. Wheezy crying over Mister Harry’s picture,” said Dobby. “She is not knowing I am there..” He cast nervous glances at Ron and Ginny, expecting them to be angry, but they only looked sympathetic. “She is telling Mr. Wheezy it is her fault Mister Harry is gone. It is why she is being so strict with Ron and Ginny. Wheezys have been so good to Dobby.. Dobby wanted to give something back to Wheezys.” Ginny walked over and gave Dobby a hug. “We won’t keep it a secret any longer than we need to Dobby,” she said. “I promise you.” … A short time later Dobby said his goodbyes and apparated back to The Burrow. Remus was about to leave when Harry remembered something from the previous night’s meeting. He caught Remus on the front porch. “Remus… did Molly ever get a hold of Hagrid last night?” Remus thought about this for a moment. “I don’t know if she did or not. He didn’t show up, that’s for certain.” Harry thought about Hagrid’s role in his dream from the night before, and started to worry for the first time. It must have shown on Harry’s face, for Remus noticed it. “Harry?” Harry shook his head. “It’s nothing.” He smiled. “I just wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed him.
Remus raised an eyebrow, but he decided to let it go. “I’ll let you know the moment I find anything Harry,” he said. “And even if I don’t find anything in that house, I’ll be back in a week to check on you.” Harry nodded, and gave Remus a hug. He noticed for the first time that he was actually taller than Remus now. Remus waved goodbye and popped out of existence. Harry went back inside. Ron and Ginny were playing chess at the dining room table. Harry eventually found Hermione in the living room reading The Noble & Most Ancient House of Black – A History & Genealogy. “Find anything interesting… or familiar?” asked Harry. Hermione looked up at Harry and nodded enthusiastically. “Just look,” she said. She handed him the enormous book, which was turned to page 469. She pointed to the second paragraph on the page and indicated that that was where he should start reading. It was not to be though, for Arcturus died in 1726, under suspicious circumstances. His body was found in the middle of an open field (in an area which is now covered by the dark forest surrounding Hogwarts) amidst a scene of horrifying carnage. Several known associates of Arcturus (including Ursa Gaunt, former Seeker for the Cannons, and Lister Parkinson) were found dead amongst the carnage, all of their bodies severed in to many pieces. Arcturus’ body, however, was whole and undisturbed. If it weren’t for the fact that he was dead, he would have appeared to be in perfect health. In fact, the only thing amiss about his body was the fact that it appeared to be drenched in Unicorn blood; yet there was not a single Unicorn to be found anywhere near the scene. It was first assumed that someone had performed the Killing Curse on him, but investigators could not even find any evidence of that. To this day, the cause of his death remains a mystery. Set up at the center of the carnage was Arcturus’ Gate (see page 467), a magical doorway to the land of the dead that Arcturus claimed he had created to learn more about death, and to attempt to contact some of his ancestors. Many theories have been formed to explain the deaths and their relationship to the Gate. The theory most widely agreed upon by historians was the most simple and obvious one – that Arcturus Black had probed too deeply into his doorway and had been killed by an angry spirit who had not wished to be disturbed.
None of the rational theories were as popular though, or as widespread, as the rumor of Arcturus’ Folly. Much has been made of Arcturus’ Folly, so-called by both people who claim to have survived the event, and by the conspiracy theorists who have taken the formers’ testimony and formed their own ridiculous theories around it. For example, due to the fact that Arcturus’ body was found with Unicorn blood on it, many people have chosen to make the leap that his death was somehow connected to the 100 Unicorns that had been stolen from France’s Unicorn preserve earlier that year. These crackpots also like to bring up the fact that Lister Parkinson was currently under investigation for kidnapping four Muggle born children the previous year. (Incidentally, his guilt was never proven, as the four children were never found.) Supposedly, Arcturus’ Folly was something far darker than merely an attempt to communicate with the dead. Discredited witnesses and the theorys they helped develop put the Unicorns and the kidnapped children through some questionable logic to arrive at the conclusion that Arcturus was performing a dark ritual for which the Gate was intended all along. It was a ritual that was supposedly intended to bring someone back from the dead. These people claim that something went wrong with the ritual (they can never say what, of course), and that it was the chaos caused by the magic backfiring that caused the deaths of Arcturus and his associates. Most, if not all, respectable historians agree that this theory is rubbish, and there has never been any evidence to suggest otherwise. Harry looked up from the book. “Obviously Tonks and her mother didn’t think it was rubbish.” Hermione nodded. “Do you recognize anything that might give your dream more credibility?” she asked. Harry nodded. “The four Muggle borns, of course.” Harry frowned. “The dream still won’t be enough for the Baron. I’m thinking we’ll have to wait until we actually hear news of a child being kidnapped before he’ll talk to me again. The only problem being…”
“…that children get kidnapped every day.” finished Hermione for him. Harry, frustrated all over again, threw the book on to the couch, where it opened to the last page of the Black genealogy. Hermione went to pick the book up to keep reading it, but she saw something on this page that made her gasp. Harry had been on his way back up to his room to take a nap, and he looked back at Hermione. “What?” he asked. “Lucius and Draco Malfoy… they’re gone!” “Gone?” asked Harry. “What do you mean they’re gone?” “It’s like they’ve been erased from the book,” said Hermione. “And…. Narcissa is listed in here as a Black now.” Harry took the book and looked at the page. Sure enough, Narcissa was a Black again, with no lines leading from her name except the one that went back to her parents. “Great,” said Harry. “Another book that thinks for itself. Keep an eye on this one Hermione.” He smirked, gave the book back to Hermione, and headed back upstairs.
Daughter of the Equinox
Tucked away in a forgotten corner of basement level 5 of the Ministry of Magic was a small unremarkable office with only one desk in it. This desk belonged to one Mary Lows, and being forgotten and unremarkable was exactly how she preferred things. Her job was necessary but boring, and was often regarded as a waste of time by other Ministry employees. This general disdain meant that few people even knew she was there at all, and it allowed Mary to work at her own pace, and in glorious seclusion. Though she officially reported to the head of the department for International Magical Cooperation, she was, in a sense, her own boss. Mary was the Ministry liaison to Muggle parents with wizard children. Her responsibilities included, but were not limited to, keeping track of all Muggle-wizard births in London, sending the confused new parents a friendly letter explaining why their newborn child might, for example, suddenly levitate out of their crib, and answering all questions the parents might have during the first 11 years, before the child was ready for their magical education. It was largely a thankless job; the question she was asked more than any other was “Can’t
we just turn it off?” But she was a Muggle born herself, and she saw this as a way of trying to make it up to her own parents, who had had a particularly difficult time raising her. The moment that Mary put her key into her office door on the morning of September 24th, she immediately knew something was off. Mary was a slave to routine, and one thing she made sure to do every night before going home was to turn off all the lights in her office. As she pushed her door open this morning, she saw that a single light was on, the one that overlooked her overflowing filing cabinets. She stepped over to the cabinets and gave them a cursory look. They did not appear to have been tampered with, but she admitted to herself that they were so disorganized that she wouldn’t have been able to tell if they had been tampered with or not. She shrugged, turned off the light, and sat down at her desk. 3 Muggle-borns had been born the day before, two boys and one girl, and she wanted to get the letters out to their parents as soon as possible. … If you had told Otis Cotton of Guildford that his 6 month old daughter Samantha was about to be kidnapped, his knee-jerk emotion would be relief. This would of course give way to shame and despair almost immediately, but for a split second his only thought would be that the nightmare that had begun on March 21st when she was born was finally over. Needless to say, Otis was not adjusting well to life as the parent of an infant witch. In the 24 hours between the time she was born and the time Otis had received a letter (carried by an owl, if you can believe that) from someone claiming that his newborn daughter was a witch, Samantha managed to create quite the impression on the hospital staff. When Samantha was three hours old, a young nurse had been startled to find three sparrows flying perfect circles around the delighted infant’s head. This would have strange enough without the fact that the birds had been rainbow colored. As the stunned nurse was leaving to alert the head nurse though, the three birds disappeared with a pop. When the young nurse returned to the nursery with the annoyed head nurse though, they were not disappointed, for the birds had been replaced by three juggling kittens. Unfortunately for the nursing staff, these little amusements gave way to more alarming phenomena. When Samantha was 7 hours old, a nurse arrived to change her and bring her to her mother to be fed. Samantha was crying at that point, and as the nurse reached down to pick her up, the nurse’s cap suddenly caught on fire. Instinctively, the nurse ripped the cap from her head and began to stomp out the flames. This only distressed Samantha more, and the nurse shrieked in surprise as the viewing window into the nursery shattered into a thousand pieces. Luckily, there were no babies directly in front of the window; Samantha was alone in the nursery that morning. By the time the letter from Mary Lows arrived in Freda Cotton’s hospital room, Freda and Otis were both nervous wrecks. They had learned enough to know that they needed to keep their daughter happy to avoid being injured, but that was all they had learned, and it was only a matter of time before she became upset again.
They heard the tapping on the window and both jumped about 5 feet into the air. Otis walked over to the window and, without thinking, opened it to let the enormous brown bird in. The owl untied the envelope from its neck and flew back out the window in quite a hurry. Freda looked confused as her husband opened the envelope. He began to read the parchment out loud. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cotton, My name is Mary Lows, and I just wanted to congratulate you on the arrival of your healthy baby daughter. I also wish to extend you my assistance. No doubt by now you will have noticed that Samantha is no ordinary child. You should have seen the effects of both the extreme positive and negative aspects of her moods. I know this won’t make sense now, but please trust me when I say that this is perfectly normal. You are now the proud parents of a newborn witch. Otis looked up in terror, and Freda matched his look of terror and then some. If this was supposed to make them feel better, it had failed miserably. Otis began to read again. What I wish to offer you is very simple. I am one of the very few members of the magical community who has regular contact with the non-magical world. It is my job to help you, the non-magical parents, adapt to and cope with your daughter’s unique abilities. Having a witch in the family is a rewarding experience, but can be a monstrous challenge for non-magical parents. Plus, I must add that we at the Ministry of Magic have detected an enormous, very powerful latent talent in your daughter. This will be quite beneficial to you and her when she learns to control her talents (around the age of 11), but for now it merely means that you have additional challenges ahead of you. I sympathize, as my parents were both non-magical as well. I will be available every step of the way to offer any assistance or advice that you may require. On a related note, a team of Ministry obliviators has been dispatched to your hospital. Anyone who has witnessed your daughter’s powers will have their memories modified so that you will not have to answer any hard questions about her. This will be completed at no cost to you. My services come completely free of charge as well. When you wish to contact me… Otis read the instructions for using floo powder, and decided he’d had enough for the moment. He gave the letter to his wife and began to pace as she read about Magical laws that they must abide by, and secrecy directives that they must familiarize themselves with. … It was now 6 months later, and there had not been a day yet where they had not contacted Mary in a panic for some reason or another. Otis had started smoking again. Freda was going bald. They both loved their daughter dearly, but neither of them believed that they would survive 11 years of her uncontrollable “abilities”.
… Fenrir Greyback crept silently along Ferry Lane, where the Cottons lived. He had compiled a short list of candidates from the records he had stolen from Mary Lows’ office, and Samantha Cotton was the first stop on his list. It was just past one in the morning, but when he reached the Cotton residence he could tell that they were still awake. All the lights were still on in the house, and he saw a shadow pacing in one of the upper windows. Very faintly, he could hear the unmistakable shriek of a baby. As he pulled out his wand, he noticed that there was not a single living plant in their front yard. He even noticed one tree that looked as if it had recently been on fire, and portions of the house that looked as if they had caught fire as well. As he opened the front door, the shrieking grew louder, and he could now hear the exhausted cooing voice of a parent trying to calm the child. He climbed the stairs slowly. The Muggle would be no match for him of course, but he still wanted the element of surprise, if for no other reason than to avoid harming the child. He pushed the door open, and the shrieking became almost unbearable. The child’s father had his back to the door, so the baby, who had her head on his shoulder, noticed Greyback almost immediately. The shrieking quieted almost at once as the baby observed the newcomer with terrified curiosity. Otis breathed a sigh of relief. “Finally. Dear Samantha, you’re going to be the death of me!” Greyback chuckled and said “You may be more correct than you realize.” Otis Cotton whirled around in surprise. The intimidating figure of Fenrir Greyback crossed the distance between them in two steps. Samantha, robbed of her view of the interesting newcomer, struggled to turn her head to keep him in her sights. In the most pleasant voice he could manage, Greyback said, “Mr. Cotton, I have come to take your child off your hands for you.” He grinned, and brought out his wand from behind his back. The effect was immediate: Otis recoiled from both the grin and the wand, and stumbled over a stroller that was behind him. Otis regarded the wand with mixed curiosity and apprehension. “Take her off my hands? Did Mary send you?” “Well…. Yes! Yes she did!” Otis looked down at Samantha, then back at Greyback. “She didn’t tell us that someone would be coming for her. Why do you need to take her?” Fenrir thought fast. If he could convince Otis to give her to him freely, it be the best way to avoid any harm to the child. “Well… umm.. we at the Ministry would like to run some standard tests on her. Just to make sure she’s growing up healthy.”
Otis frowned at this, and began to pull out his cell phone. “So you arrive at 1:30 in the morning to do this? Besides, Mary just did a check up on her personally not two weeks ago.” “Put that away,” growled Greyback, motioning towards the phone. “Mr. Cotton, I’ve no time to argue with you. You can give your daughter to me, or I can take her from you.” Otis opened his mouth to yell for his wife, but Greyback was too fast for him. In a red flash, Otis was on the floor, stunned, and Samantha landed in Greyback’s waiting arms. She immediately began to shriek again. “Don’t make me stun you too, child,” said the annoyed Greyback. Before he could follow through on his threat though, Samantha took a huge breath of air and let out her loudest shriek of the night. Suddenly, Greyback’s eyebrows were on fire. “Ack!! NOO!” He didn’t dare drop the child, so he quickly deposited her in her crib and went to work beating out the tiny flames on his face. Once they were out, Samantha shrieked again and Greyback’s shoes flew up in to the air with his feet still in them, causing the large man to fall to the floor. This was finally amusing enough for Samantha, and she started laughing. Once he had stood up collected himself, Greyback reached for his wand again. "SILENCIO!” Samantha continued laughing, but no sounds issued from her mouth. “We’ve got plans for you, Samantha,” he said icily. “Please do not force me to kill you. Not yet, anyway.” Samantha stopped laughing and, incredibly, matched Greyback’s cold glare with one of her own. He snatched the child from the crib and made his way out of the house. Freda Cotton, enjoying the first decent sleep she had had in weeks, did not discover that her daughter was missing and her husband was (still) stunned until the following evening. By which time Samantha Cotton had already made the acquaintance of Lord Voldemort, who had approved her for the ceremony. Chapter 15
Severus Snape picked his way carefully through the ruins of the Gaunt home in Little Hangleton. He had known before he’d even gotten here that what he was supposed to find was not here, but when creating a false memory in your own head, it’s always best to make it as real as possible. Severus was going through the motions as if he really was looking for Gaunt’s Ring, so that when the time came to alter his memory, he would only need to alter the very end. Luckily for him, he had indeed seen the ring for himself, so forging this particular memory would be simple. He knew that creating a memory of the locket would be trickier since he had never actually seen it, so he had to rely on Harry’s memory of the object to be accurate.
The third item that Voldemort had sent him after he had never seen before, so he hoped that it had not been disturbed so that he would not need to imagine what it might look like. A single incorrect detail would mean death. “Ring.. ring.. looking for a ring with a big black stone… Ah!” He opened the cupboard that Voldemort had told him the ring would be inside, reached inside, and closed his hand around nothing. He brought his hand out and examined his palm as if there was something resting on it. He shook his head, satisfied, and put his hand back inside the cupboard. He closed the cupboard, and pointed his wand at his own head. “Obliviaddo!” Snape searched his memories of the past 10 minutes, and found the memory of finding the ring inside the cupboard to be believable enough. Satisfied, he apparated to the seaside cave. *** Despite his assurance that he would be checking in on Harry a week later, Remus didn’t return to Godric’s Hollow until the end of October. By that time, the name of Samantha Cotton had become a major point of contention between Harry and Hermione. “What if I were to go speak to the Baron myself?” Hermione yelled from the bottom of the stairs. “You can’t stop me from doing that!” “No offense Hermione, but you’re a muggle-born, and the Baron is pure Slytherin,” Harry yelled back. “I doubt he’d have anything to say to you!” “How long are you going to ignore this, Harry!?” As she was saying this, there was a knock on the front door. Hermione cautiously made her way to the door and peeked through the eyehole, to see Remus standing on the front porch, looking more cheerful than she had seen him in years. “Remus!!” she exclaimed as she invited him in. “What happened? We expected you back weeks ago!” “I was incommunicado for a while,” Remus said. “McGonagall sent me in to gather some information from the werewolves.” Hermione looked at him, puzzled. “But… Greyback must have seen you fighting with the Order at Hogwart’s last year. How did you…?” Remus chuckled. “Fortunately, I’ve managed to convince them, and Greyback, that they must have seen someone else there, as I was clearly in Ireland recruiting leprechaun spies that evening.” Hermione nodded. “What did she send you in to find out?”
They were interrupted by Harry, who came running down the stairs two at a time. Remus hugged Harry, then continued. “Nothing in particular, it had just been a while since we’d heard anything from them. I didn’t really find out anything interesting from them anyway; Fenrir seemed too preoccupied with something to pay the rest of us any attention. He only spoke to me twice the whole time I was away.” Harry was only mildly interested in Remus’ dealings with the werewolves; impatiently he asked, “Did you find the locket?” Remus shook his head. “It’s as you said Hermione, that house was picked clean. I even checked Kreacher’s nest but that was completely empty as well. If the locket was in that house, it’s not anymore.” Harry frowned, then punched the wall in frustration, and began walking towards the kitchen to get a drink. Remus started to follow him, but the look on Hermione’s face made him stop. “Hermione?” Hermione was grinning from ear to ear. “Picked clean… of course…” she muttered to herself. Harry had stopped to regard Hermione’s odd reaction as well. “What are you grinning about?” Hermione tried to put on a serious expression, but she was simply too proud of herself to stop grinning. Mischievously, she said, “Remus, Harry, would you care to accompany me to the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade?” Harry, too tired to pick up on Hermione’s hint, said “Hermione, we’ve got drinks here. And clean glasses to boot.” Hermione put her hands on Harry’s shoulders. “We’re not going for drinks. Aberforth Dumbledore has the locket. It was given or sold to him, after it was stolen from Sirius’ house by Mundungus Fletcher.” *** “For the last time, no! I don’t have any blasted locket!” Hermione and Remus were sitting at the bar of the Hog’s Head, attempting to coax the truth out of Aberforth. Up until then the conversation had been kept low, but Aberforth had shouted this last bit loud enough to make most of the patrons look in their direction. “We know for a fact that he has sold you stolen items in the past,” said Remus. “Can you at least tell us if he tried to sell it to you?” “Damn it Lupin, all he showed me from the Black place were some silver goblets, of which I had no interest in,” said Aberforth. “Anything else he may have borrowed, he kept for himself, or sold to others.” Remus tried again. “So… could you maybe tell us who else he might have…”
“FLETCHER IS NOT MY PROBLEM!” roared Aberforth, and Hermione noticed that he seemed a little frightened. “I wash my hands of ANYONE careless enough to wind up in Azkaban!” “But..” Hermione started, but it was no use. “GO ASK HIM YOURSELF IF IT’S SO IMPORTANT! Now get OUT!” *** “I still think he’s hiding something,” muttered Harry. Hermione and Remus and re-joined him in Sirius’ old hide-out cave, more recently occupied by Hagrid. Hermione shook her head. “I don’t know… if he had the locket, and was so eager to ‘wash his hands’ of Fletcher, it seems to me he’d be glad to be rid of it, “ she said, becoming more frustrated with each word. “One less thing to tie the two of them together.” Remus was sitting to the side of them with his face in his hands. He too had been frustrated by the meeting. After a minute of silence, he said, “It seems to me our next step is clear. I’m going to Azkaban to speak with Mundungus.” “I’m going with you,” Harry said at once. “Don’t be absurd, Harry,” said Remus, shocked. “With the Dementors gone, Azkaban is one of the most dangerous places in the world right now. Especially for you!” “I don’t care,” said Harry. “If Mundungus has the locket, I’m going to get the information from him personally. He owes me.” Remus looked as if he wanted to try to continue reasoning with Harry, but the look of determination on Harry’s face made him give up. “Fine. As soon as we can let the Order know where I’ll be…” Harry interrupted him. “No. We’re going right now. Hermione can let everyone know for us.” Under normal circumstances Hermione would have protested at the idea of being left out of something as important as this, but she was secretly relieved that she was not being asked to go to Azkaban. She nodded at Harry at once. Remus sighed. “I assume you have your cloak?” “Always. Let’s go.” They both popped out of existence, and Hermione soon apparated away as well, inventing a reason for Remus to be at Azkaban in her head along the way. ***
Less than a mile away, a dark figure walked out of the Shrieking Shack. The old house was the last place that Voldemort had asked him to check. While the objects he had been sent to check up on had been removed from the Gaunt house and the seaside cave (as he had known they would be), he had fully expected to find this object still in its rightful place. Severus Snape looked up at the grey sky over Hogsmeade and sighed. The object he had expected to find in the Shrieking Shack was missing as well. His only hope was that the object in question had been removed by Harry Potter, and not some random looter. Just as he had done in the Gaunt house and outside the cave, Snape pointed his wand at his head and whispered “Obliviaddo.” He was now nervous. He had no idea what this object looked like, so this false memory was going to be the hardest to pull off. With a feeling of dread unlike any he had felt in years, Snape apparated back to the Dark Lord’s side to report that the rest of his “heirlooms” were all accounted for.
The Voice of Severus
As with Hogwarts, Apparation directly to and from Azkaban was prohibited, and was, therefore, impossible. Remus had steered Harry and himself to a neighboring island in order to observe the prison from a distance. Harry felt unease (and just a little nausea) seep into his stomach. In all of Harry’s imaginings of what Azkaban might look like, nothing could have prepared him for the grim reality of it all. He now understood why Hagrid could never be convinced to talk about the place (no matter how drunk he got). The island that Remus and Harry were on was experiencing some very pleasant weather, especially for the time of year; the sun was shining on their backs and the sky was virtually cloudless above them. Less than a mile away though, across the small channel that separated the two islands, Azkaban was surrounded by a particularly violent storm.
Azkaban had the look of a place that might have long ago been a grand island fortress. A 15 foot high wall was built along the entire perimeter. Harry could see several very tall structures inside the walls, and had they not matched the stormclouds above them in color, they could be considered majestic. The towers and wall looked to be in a state of advance disrepair and decay, but Harry knew that this appearance was probably deceiving. Worse than the mere gloomy look of the place was simply the feeling Harry got from it. The place itself seemed to bleed misery from its walls. Every once in a while when the waves on the beach quieted down for a moment, Harry thought he could hear the anguished cries of the prisoners inside. Even with the Dementors gone, their effects seemed to linger. Harry looked over at Remus, who was shivering (or shuddering, Harry wasn’t sure). “Are you ready?” asked Remus. “Sure.. only how do we get there?” asked Harry. “There’s an invisible bridge between islands,” answered Remus. “The position of the bridge, and the island it goes to, changes every day. There’s about 23 different islands that the bridge connects to, if I remember correctly.” “How do we know we’re on the right island then?” asked Harry. Remus grinned. “We don’t. Let’s get moving.” Remus walked down to the shoreline and stopped. As Harry watched him, Remus began to sniff the air. After about 30 seconds of sniffing, he was satisfied. “We’ve got to go North a ways. See that island over there?” He pointed to a speck about 5 miles to the North-Northeast. “Meet me over there.” He popped out of existence, and Harry followed suit. Remus was already not satisfied with this island when Harry got there. “Too far east. See that one?” He pointed to another island. “Race you!” POP Harry arrived at the third island to find Remus looking satisfied. “It’s here. Let’s take a walk.” Remus started jogging north along the shoreline, and Harry began to follow. After about 20 minutes, Remus stopped suddenly, causing Harry to nearly run in to him. “We’re here,” Remus said casually. Harry looked over to Azkaban Island with dismay. “Remus… that island has got to be 6 miles away now..” “Nearly 7, if I’m not mistaken,” said Remus cheerfully. “Cmon Harry, we don’t want to draw this out. Let’s get moving.” With that, Remus stepped to the edge of the shoreline, took another step, and landed on nothing. For all Harry could see, Remus was levitating. Finally sure that he had found the invisible bridge, Remus began to jog along it.
“I don’t suppose we could come back with our brooms and fly across?” Harry yelled after him. “No chance!” Remus yelled back. “Anyone trying to fly this close to Azkaban would find themselves on the wrong side of about 20 stunning spells. Come on!!” Harry groaned quietly and began to follow. --As they began to close in to within a mile of the island, Harry began to wonder why this place had even needed Dementors. The prison buildings alone seemed to be sucking the happiness right out of him. This seemed to be the reason for Remus’ overtly cheery attitude: the happier he acted, the happier he felt. “Smile Harry, or you’re not going to last ten minutes in here.” Harry thought of his Firebolt and Ginny and managed a small grin. Remus nodded. “It’s a start. Come on.” Harry then noticed a figure approaching them in the fog at the end of the bridge. He breathed a sigh of relief when he realized it was Kingsley, then realized with horror that he hadn’t put on his cloak yet. Harry’s next few words were drowned out by a blood curdling scream from one of the far towers. “Harry!” Kingsley said, grinning. “Now what would Molly think of such language?” Harry then noticed that, even though Kingsley was smiling at them, he had his wand out and it was pointed directly at both of them. “Out for a stroll, Lupin?” Kingsley asked, with a seriousness that his smiling face masked well. “You know the law; nobody comes here unannounced and without permission. Especially,” he looked over at Harry, “in the company of someone who is supposed to be dead.” “I’m afraid there wasn’t time to ask for a formal invitation,” said Remus, also looking much happier than he sounded. “Harry has a rather pressing errand here that really can’t wait.” “Lupin, stand back, I’ll deal with you in a second,” Kingsley almost growled. “Potter! Patronus, and reason for it. Quickly now!” “It’s a stag because that was my dad’s Animagus form,” Harry said without hesitation. “But that’s pretty well known by now.” He grinned. “Better ask me something harder!” Kingsley nodded, his tone becoming even harsher. “Fair enough. What did I do to Marietta Edgecombe in Dumbledore’s office?” “Removed the D.A. from her memory,” Harry said smugly.
Kingsley nodded, satisfied. He turned his attention back to Lupin. “Harry, have you asked Lupin any security questions today?” Harry thought about it, then shook his head. “The reason I ask is because Lupin really does know better than to come to this place uninvited,” Kingsley said menacingly. “If you really are Lupin, then your reason for coming had better be of earth shattering importance.” “When you hear why, I expect a full apology for this treatment,” Remus said impishly, bringing a fleeting image of Fred and George to Harry’s mind. “In Harry’s fifth year, how did we get his family out of the house so that we could pick him up?” Remus opened his mouth to answer, then quickly shut it again. “Uhhh…” Harry’s eyes opened wide in alarm. “No hints Harry!” yelled Kingsley, whose wand was now pointed directly at Remus’ heart. “Kingsley!” Harry cried. “It’s him, I know it’s him! Ask him something else!” Behind him, Remus began to panic as he searched for the correct answer. “Out of the question, Potter!” Kingsley yelled. “This is EXACTLY why we do this. It seems you came to Azkaban in the company of a Death Eater! INCARCER…” “LAWN!” Remus yelled. “LAWN! KEPT! LAWN BEST KEPT! Britain’s… London’s… someone’s best kept Lawn…. Something!!!” Kingsley hesitated, but his wand did not lower at all. “Fine. One right.” Remus’ legs suddenly gave out beneath him, and he sat down hard. “This place has made you paranoid Kingsley!” Remus said angrily. “So tell me, when do we get you fitted for a magic eye?” Kingsley ignored this. “I want an exact quote on this next one Lupin. How did Pettigrew know you weren’t alone at The Grey Pilgrim?” Lupin relaxed a little. “Because..ahh.. you, Charlie, and I couldn’t mask our thoughts from a first year Hogwart’s student… much less from him..?” Kingsley nodded, then put out his hand to help Remus up. Remus refused. “My apology?” “I won’t curse you for putting me through this, that’s your apology,” said Kingsley. “Now get up and explain yourself. Both of you.”
Remus stood up and dusted himself off. “We must speak with Mundungus Fletcher.” Kingsley’s mouth dropped open. “Fletcher!? But I thought…” He looked at Harry. “Surely you…” “What?” said Harry. “So you came all this way, flouted Ministry protocol, and put yourself in front of an Auror’s wand, to talk to Fletcher?!” asked Kingsley, stunned. “You’re not here to see Peter Pettigrew at all?” Harry’s eyes widened. “What on earth would I have to say to Peter Pettigrew?!” “I was hoping you could tell me,” said Kingsley. “You are the only thing left in his empty brain, and he never shuts up about you. He hasn’t slept at all since he arrived here! He keeps saying he’s under some obligation to talk to you, and he can’t sleep until he does. But whenever he’s asked what he has to say, he says he doesn’t know!” Harry exchanged amazed looks with Remus. “I have no idea,” said Harry after a pause. “But I have nothing to say to him, and am not interested in what he may have to say to me. I’ve got more important things to worry about.” Kingsley pondered this for a moment. “We’ve got 30 Aurors rotating on guard duty, and that’s not even half of what would be adequate,” he said. “30 rotating Aurors guarding over 400 prisoners. And Pettigrew’s constant whining agitates every prisoner on his block.” Remus realized where Kingsley was going with this, and sighed. “Get to the point, please.” “Agitated prisoners are bad for everyone,” Kingsley continued, “especially an understaffed prison guard. I’ll make you a deal Lupin. I’ll let you see Fletcher, no questions asked, if Harry talks to Pettigrew and gets him to please shut up. I don’t care if he simply wants to tell you a dirty joke Harry; just listen to it and be done with it and you’ll make my job a lot easier.” Remus nodded. “We’ll need to see both of them in private,” he said. “It was not in the plan to even let you know that Harry was alive; we certainly can’t have every prisoner in Azkaban privy to that information.” Harry decided that was his cue to put on his cloak. The young Auror Rahgente Gadfly arrived to cover the bridge guard post, and Kingsley motioned for Harry and Remus to follow him. “Pettigrew first, or no deal,” said Kingsley. “Fine,” said Remus. “Which block is he in?” “Minimum security. The least dangerous criminals in here. It’s there, the shortest of the four towers.” Kingsley pointed in to the distance at the four prison blocks.
“We’re not actually going in to one of the blocks, are we?” asked Remus nervously. “Don’t you have interrogation rooms in the administrative building?” Kingsley nodded. “Keep your robe on Lupin, the administrative building is between us and the blocks.” Kingsley trudged along the shoreline until he came to a wooden path, and began to take that uphill towards the center of the island. “I’ll arrange for Pettigrew to be waiting for us when we get there. EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Kingsley’s patronus, which bore a strong resemblance to Bane the Centaur, trotted away up the path in front of them. --About 45 minutes later they arrived at the prison administrative building. It was a 2 story brick building, and about the only place on the island that looked hospitable to humans. “Interrogation room #6,” said Kingsley. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to join you.” “Not at all,” said Remus. “But… we’d like to be alone with Fletcher actually.” “We’ll see,” Kingsley grunted. “You still with us, Potter?” “Yes,” said Harry, annoyed. “Let’s get this over with.” Kingsley nodded. “I’d like you to stay under your cloak, even when we get in there Harry. I’d like to try something first before he knows you’re there.” Kingsley led them down a blinding white hallway with several unmarked doors on either side of them. He stopped at one that looked like every other door and let them inside. Peter Pettigrew was standing in the center of the room with chains on every limb and one around his neck, all connected to the floor. He had the unhealthy look of a man who has lost way too much weight in a small amount of time. His eyes were sunken, and his face had several bruises on it, some fresh, some old and yellow. Harry was painfully reminded of the first time he saw Sirius. When Peter saw Kingsley and Remus, he stiffened. “Mr. Shacklebolt,” he said politely. “You’ve brought me here to interrogate me? When you know that I do not remember anything? What is the meaning of this?” “I wanted to ask you something about Harry Potter,” Kingsley began. The words had an obvious effect on Pettigrew: he appeared to grow hopeful and even more depressed at the same time. “As I’ve said many times, I know nothing about Potter,” said Peter, “other than the fact that I need to speak to him!” “My point exactly,” said Kingsley. “You need to speak to him, yet you know nothing about him, not even what he looks like. So I ask you this: What if I was to tell you that I was actually Harry Potter?”
Peter looked up at Kingsley, his eyes widening. The depressed look went away, and he looked merely hopeful and excited. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out, and the hopeful look was slowly replaced once again by the depressed one. “You’re not Harry Potter,” said Peter dejectedly. “You’re right, I’m not,” said Kingsley, “but how do you know?” “I DON’T KNOW! DID YOU JUST BRING ME IN HERE TO TORTURE ME, TO ASK ME ALL THE SAME QUESTIONS AGAIN!?” “Harry,” said Kingsley calmly, “please take off your cloak.” Harry stepped in front of Kingsley and removed his invisibility cloak. He stared down at Peter with as much contempt as he could muster. “Peter Pettigrew, I am Harry Potter. Now what do you want?” For a moment, Peter simply stared at Harry, expecting another trick. Then, his face went slack and his eyes rolled up to their whites.
Harry, Remus, and Kingsley stared in shock as the voice of Severus Snape began to issue from Pettigrew’s mouth. “Potter. Congratulations. I placed this message for you in Wormtail’s brain with no way of
knowing if it would ever reach you. I have merged the message with the life debt Pettigrew owes you, insuring that only you could unlock it. Yet another spell I invented in my time at Hogwarts. “Pay attention Potter, because this will not be repeated. Your pathetic ineptitude at closing off your mind gave me an idea after I had escaped your wrath at Hogwarts. Miss Granger’s idea of making you disappear fit perfectly with this idea, so I put it into action immediately following the rumors of your disappearance. Quite simply, it is because of me that the world now thinks you are dead. “How I managed this is not important; what is important is that the Dark Lord believes the story to be true. You’ll have noticed by now that you have easy access to his thoughts and emotions once again. Since he thinks you are dead, he no longer needs to block the link between you. How you choose to use this information is up to you, but as I have risked more than my life to give you this advantage, don’t jeopardize it by doing something careless and stupid, like letting anyone know you’re alive…”
Harry looked at Remus and Kingsley and grinned sheepishly. “Make no mistake Potter, you are still every bit as loathsome to me as your father was, and it gives me no pleasure to help you like this. However, I took an unbreakable vow to Dumbledore to follow all of his orders, even in the event of his death, and he has ordered me to assist you in any way I can. Do not squander the enormous trust he has placed in you……”
Pettigrew shook his head twice, and his eyes came back to normal. “That was… enlightening,” said Kingsley. “How much of it do you believe?” he asked, mostly to Remus. Remus shook his head. “Well… we never did find out how the Prophet deduced that Harry was dead,” he said. “I suppose it’s possible.” He then looked at Harry. “Harry… have you been experiencing…” “Yes,” Harry interrupted. “Mostly just the feelings, but I’ll have a dream about once or twice a week now. Usually nothing terribly interesting….” Harry’s mouth dropped open. “Hagrid…” “What about him?” Remus asked. “If Voldemort thinks I’m dead, then he’d have no reason to try and bait me out into the open… which means that Hagrid really has been captured!” Pettigrew had been watching these exchanges with mild interest. He finally spoke up. “Mr. Shacklebolt? If you had no point in bringing me here, can I go now?” “No point?” Kingsley shouted. “I brought you here to talk to Harry Potter, like you’ve been asking me to for months!!” “Harry.. Potter?” asked Peter uncertainly. “Yeah,” said Harry, “you know, me??”
Once again, Pettigrew went slack and his eyes rolled up to their whites. And once again, the voice of Severus Snape came from Pettigrew’s mouth. It sounded angrier this time. “Potter!! Killing Nagini like that was very sloppy! It’s carelessness like that that will get you and I killed! ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU USE A SPELL THAT I INVENTED! “I placed this additional message for you as Pettigrew was being led out of the ministry after hearing his sentencing. I have new and crucial information for you. Due to your foul up at the Riddle Mansion, the Dark Lord knows that the cup has been taken. “He is now sending me to check up on the rest of his Horcruxes, many of which you and I know are not where he expects me to find them. But he does not know that I know what the cup was, giving us another advantage – he has revealed to me the identity and location of all but one of the remaining Horcruxes. He also does not know that the ring has been destroyed, and I assume by now that you have destroyed the cup and the locket.
“There are two more for you to find, and though I do not know for sure what the final one is, I have a theory. The one I know for sure is a Black genealogy and history book which currently is in a library in the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade. This may seem like an odd choice for him. The reason he has chosen this book is because he plans to merge the Black family bloodline with his own, the bloodline of Salazar Slytherin. Narcissa Black is now pregnant with the Dark Lord’s son."
Harry had a brief flash of Nagini asking him why Narcissa smelled of a Mudblood. He looked over at Kingsley, who looked stupefied, like he couldn’t process what he had just heard. Remus merely looked exhausted and defeated.
“I will do my best to convince the Dark Lord that his Horcruxes are safe, but from this moment on you must act as if I will fail, or have already failed. Get the book and destroy it! “Which brings me to the last Horcrux. The Dark Lord let his guard down for a fraction of a second in my presence when revealing all of this to me. I wish I could tell you that I know this for a fact, but unfortunately it is merely an educated guess. Potter, at this moment in time, I believe that in an act of desperation in the moments immediately following the backfire of Avada Kedavra on him when you were a baby, he hastily made his final Horcrux out of whatever he could. “I believe the Dark Lord’s final Horcrux is the scar on your forehead. The scar you have carried with you all of your life.”
Chapter 17 Pettigrew paused, as Snape seemed to realize that this information would take a moment to process. Harry stared alternately at Pettigrew’s face, and the floor, his hand automatically rubbing his scar. Despite the staring he had received all of his life due to that scar, he had never before been more aware of its presence. Remus and Kingsley maintained a respectful silence while Harry dealt with what he had just heard. Though all of this was new information to Kingsley, he still had a basic idea of what Horcruxes were, and knew that he had just witnessed a potentially history changing revelation. After about 30 seconds, Snape/Pettigrew continued. “No doubt your first instinct will be to disbelieve what I have just said, Potter. But Dumbledore didn’t set you on this path to have everyone else do the work for you, so this is just as well. When you carefully consider the nature of your scar, and the reactions it has always had to the Dark Lord’s actions, you will eventually come to the realization on your own.
“I will say only this regarding your scar – do not destroy it yet! The link between the two of you is clearly through your scar, and if the link is severed, you will not be able to find him. Your scar must remain intact until the others are destroyed, and you are sure of his whereabouts. “If I can offer any more assistance to you I will attempt to do so, but this is likely the last time you will hear from me. At least until the Dark Lord has been defeated…………” Pettigrew started choking, and his eyes rolled back to normal again. Once he stopped choking, he observed the room with extremely bloodshot eyes. “Mr. Shacklebolt…?” Kingsley had his face in his hands, but he looked up at Pettigrew. “Yes, Peter?” “Do you..” Peter began, but then his head fell forward and he fell asleep standing up. ---
Kingsley called for Pettigrew to be taken away, and 3 minutes later he was alone with Remus and Harry. All three of them seemed to be waiting for someone else to speak. Harry broke the silence by muttering to himself, “Neither can live while the other survives…” “What was that, Harry?” asked Remus. There was a slight tremor in his voice. “Nothing,” said Harry dismissively. “I already know what I think, but I’d like your opinions first.” Kingsley and Remus looked at each other. They had been dreading this. Remus avoided the question slightly by asking, “The book he mentioned… doesn’t Hermione already have it?” Harry nodded. “Yes, and it’s already shown similar behavior to Riddle’s diary. It makes enough sense for me to think he’s not lying about that.”
Kingsley coughed nervously. “You’re both going to have to fill me on all of this later. What I want to know is this, Harry: Who else knows you’re alive?” Harry counted in his head. “Hermione Granger, Ron & Ginny Weasley, Dobby, the Malfoys’ former house elf, and you two. Plus a few Muggles I work with who have absolutely no idea who I am. Oh, and Snape, I guess.” “The Malfoys’ former house elf!” exclaimed Remus. “You never told me that!” Harry shrugged. “It didn’t seem important. We can trust Dobby.” Kingsley seemed as concerned as Remus was, but he let it go. “Anyone else?” Harry thought about it. “Oh! And the Bloody Baron, the Slytherin ghost at Hogwarts! That’s it.” Kingsley raised an eyebrow. “Why the Baron?” Harry explained about needing some books from the library and needing his potions book back. He left out the part about the unicorns and the Baron’s puzzling words. Kingsley pondered this for a moment. “Okay. I was worried it was more than that. 6 people, one house elf, and one ghost. That’s almost already too many people Harry; I strongly advise against any more ‘accidents’ like me.” He grinned, and Harry grinned back. Kingsley began pacing. “So let’s get some things straight. You-Know-Who made Horcruxes. It sounds like he made several of them?” “Six,” Harry said. “Six! And how many have been destroyed? Snape mentioned a ring.. and a locket…?” “Three of them have been destroyed,” said Remus, joining the conversation. “Harry unknowingly destroyed one 5 years ago. Dumbledore destroyed the ring last year. And I destroyed the cup a few weeks ago.” “And the locket?” “That’s why we’re here to see Fletcher,” said Remus, amused. “I guess we don’t need to be alone with him now. We believe he may have it.” “He should be on his way,” said Kingsley. “Then, at last, we have a genealogy book and… a world famous scar.” Remus and Kingsley both looked back at Harry. “Harry,” Remus began. “It’s the truth,” muttered Harry, as he began to rub his scar again. “I don’t want it to be, but it just fits too perfectly to deny it. A piece of Voldemort’s soul has been staring out at the world from my forehead since I was a year old.”
Remus shook his head. “No, it doesn’t make sense Harry! He’s tried to kill you three times now, four if you count the version of him in the diary! Why would he try to kill you if there was a piece of himself in your skin?” “It’s because of the diary that it does make sense Remus!” argued Harry. “Dumbledore said last year that Voldemort knew he could casually throw the diary in to harm’s way because he knew he had 5 other Horcruxes still in existence. If he killed me, he’d be fine because he’d know that he still had 4 others out there.” Remus didn’t have a response to this, so Harry continued. “He made six to begin with, but if he thought he was running out he could always make more. As long as he knew he had a few left to fall back on, he could afford to lose one of the others….” Something that Snape had said suddenly forced its way back to the front of Harry’s thinking, but before he could let Remus and Kingsley know what he had just thought of, there was a knock on the door. Harry quickly put his cloak on. “Mr. Shacklebolt?” said a squeaky voice from outside the door. “I’ve brought Mr. Fletcher to see you, as you asked.” “Thank you, Warwick,” said Kingsley to the tiny auror at the door. “Please leave us.” Mundungus Fletcher trudged into the room and took his place exactly where Peter Pettigrew had been. He looked at both Remus and Kingsley with bored interest. “Shacklebolt. Lupin. What do yeh want?” “I’ll get right to the point,” said Remus. “A locket. A silver locket. Missing from the Black house. Do you have it, or know who does?” At first Mundungus said nothing, as if he was considering his answer very carefully. Finally he said, “No.” Kingsley smirked. “It’s been my experience that people who are innocent of what they are being accused of answer much quicker. Trust me Dung, you don’t want to make us ask you again.” Mundungus looked over at Remus. “If you came all the way here to ask about it, it must be pretty valuable. If I did have it…” Kingsley stormed over and grabbed Mundungus by the front of his shirt, fury in his eyes. “We’re not here to bargain with you Dung. So you tell us where it is, or I let Lupin bunk with you in your cell during the next full moon!” Remus grinned. “It sure would be a nice change from being chained up in my own attic, I’ll say that much.” Mundungus’ eyes rapidly switched from Remus to Kingsley, trying to figure out if either one of them were bluffing. When neither one backed down, he went slack like he was about to faint, and Kingsley almost had to catch him.
“I..I gave it away…” he finally said. “To who?” Kingsley growled. “I couldn’t open it!” Mundungus said, with an edge of panic in his voice. “The catch on the side wouldn’t budge. So I gave it to Borgin, and told him that if he could open it, he could have it!” Remus and Kingsley both hissed in breath. “Borgin.. as in Borgin and Burkes,” said Kingsley. Mundungus nodded. Without warning, Remus reached out and plucked about 5 of Mundungus hairs from his head. “OW! What’s that for!?” “For the polyjuice potion he’s going to have to use,” answered Kingsley. “We’ll just have to convince Mr. Borgin that you reaaaally want that locket back. So much that you escaped from Azkaban to get it! I’ll just have to bribe a friend of mine at the Prophet to run a little headline of my own invention.” Kingsley walked over to the door and rapped on it three times. “Warwick! We’re done in here!” The tiny auror strolled in and led an unusually silent Mundungus back to his cell. Harry shrugged off his cloak. He had barely been paying attention to what had just happened. “Snape needs to succeed,” he said abruptly. “Snape needs to convince Voldemort that all the Horcruxes are safe.” “Well, obviously,” said Kingsley. “What’s your point?” “Because if he catches Snape in even a single lie, he’ll catch him in every lie he’s been telling soon afterwards. He’ll know that only two are left… which means he’ll definitely start making more, and we’re back at square one.” “If you’re suggesting we try and help Snape, Harry, I can only say good luck to you,” said Remus. “Nymphadora has been tracking him for months with no sign of him anywhere.” Kingsley nodded. “We’ll just have to hope that he can pull it off on his own.” Harry nodded in agreement, but inside he was trying to think of how to find Snape… Or how to let Snape find him. --Severus Snape slowly crept up the stairs, to where Voldemort and Narcissa were discussing Muggle torture devices in the house’s library while waiting for him. Snape reached the landing, walked over to where Voldemort was sitting, and bowed before him, knowing full well that he was probably about to die.
“My Lord,” he said quietly, “I have done as you asked. All of your heirlooms are safe and accounted for.” Voldemort smiled. “Glad to hear it, Severus. We can discuss this at a later time then.” He nodded towards Narcissa. Snape looked up in surprise. “You don’t wish to see the memories for yourself, my Lord?” “I trust you Snape,” said Voldemort absently. “If you say they’re safe, then they’re safe; quite honestly I didn’t expect anyone to find them anyway. I can see the memories some other time.” Voldemort grabbed Snape’s chin and forced him to look into his eyes. “Right now, I’m spending time with the mother of my child. Leave us.” Snape got up and walked as fast as he could down the stairs, relief flowing through every part of his body. --
The Baron's Confession
When Harry and Remus arrived back at Harry’s home, it was almost dark. Harry had barely had a chance to draw in a breath when Hermione came barreling towards him from the front door, her eyes wild with excitement. “Harry!” she shrieked. “Remus! Inside, quickly! You’ve got to see this!” Harry and Remus exchanged weary but amused glances, and followed her inside. She led them in to the dining room, where she proceeded to shove the Daily Prophet into their faces. “Read it! First article!!” she shouted triumphantly. Remus grabbed it first. “Artifact stolen from Department of Mysteries…” he muttered. He kept reading, and after a moment his eyes widened. He looked over to Hermione, who had a very smug smile on her face.
“The proof the Baron will want…” said Remus, and Hermione nodded enthusiastically. “What are you two babbling about?” asked Harry, and he grabbed the paper from Remus’ hands. He began to read out loud. “Ministry officials are reporting that in the early hours of Monday morning, thieves broke in to the Department of Mysteries, and stole only a single item. The item in question, commonly known as Arcturus’ Gate, was being used by the Unspeakables in their ongoing study of death.” Harry raised one eyebrow, and kept reading. “When asked for comment, Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour would only say that recovering the Gate was not a ministry priority. ‘We’ve got plenty more important things to worry about than the ghoulish fascinations of the Unspeakables. They’ve informed me that they have plenty of oddities that will aid them in their study, and the loss of this particular item is not a significant one.’ When asked for a possible motive for this theft, Scrimgeour would only say that there was none that he could think of. “This being the third break-in into the Department of Mysteries in less than three years, questions are once again being raised about security at the Ministry, and whether or not it is good enough. Not for the first time, several high ranking Ministry officials are proposing the relocation of selected Ministry departments of a more secretive and sensitive nature to a secret location, to remain undisclosed except to the people who would work there. If this idea gains more support, we can likely expect a vote on it within the next 6 months. “For a history of Arcturus’ Gate (and many myths that have sprung up around it) , please see page 5.” Harry put the paper down, and smirked. “If I go tell the Baron about this, will that satisfy you?” Hermione nodded. “So, did you get the locket?” she asked. “I kind of get the feeling you would have shown it to me already if you had.” “We didn’t get the locket,” Harry said. “We did get another lead to follow…” He looked over at Remus, wondering how he should continue. “What?” Hermione asked. “What’s wrong with you two?” “While we didn’t get the locket,” Remus said, “we did get a couple of messages from Severus Snape. He seemed to think he knew what the last two Horcruxes were.” Hermione gasped. “Messages..? I don’t..” “We’ll explain that part later,” Harry interrupted her. “I wonder if you would mind bringing me the Black genealogy book,” said Remus. “I’m curious about something.” Hermione looked confused, but she nodded. “I was reading it upstairs. I’ll be right back.”
Harry and Remus walked in and collapsed onto the living room couch, both exhausted. After a moment, Hermione arrived back downstairs, clutching the book to her chest. She handed it to Remus, who immediately turned to the end of the family tree section. After a moment, he hissed in breath like he’d been stung. “Well,” he said softly. “Well well. Now we know what they’ve decided to name the lad.” He lowered the book so that Harry and Hermione could see it. There, at the bottom right side of the page: Narcissa Cassiopeia Black (b. 1955)----------------------------------------------------- ? | | Salazar Slytherin Black Harry and Hermione stared at this new entry for a few beats, not quite sure what to think. Even though Snapettigrew had revealed that Narcissa was carrying Voldemort’s child, it hadn’t yet seemed real to Harry. “I wonder what the question mark is for,” said Hermione. Remus and Harry decided that now was the time to fill Hermione in, and took turns re-telling everything they had experienced at Azkaban. When they were finished, Hermione lightly brushed Harry’s hair out of his eyes with her hands, revealing his scar. “How…” she whispered. “How are we supposed to destroy this?” “I suppose the obvious is out of the question?” asked Remus. “Having someone at St. Mungo’s remove it, and then just destroying it by itself?” “That’d be nice,” said Harry, “but it sounds too easy. I think I even remember Dumbledore saying that he didn’t know if he himself could remove it or not, and that he was reluctant to try.” Hermione said nothing at first, and she began to thumb through the book absently. “Snape said Voldemort chose this book because it tied in with he and Narcissa having a child?” “Thus adding to the Black family and history,” said Harry, “of which that book is all about.” “If this was a homemade family tree like Sirius’, that might make sense,” said Hermione. “It just doesn’t seem important enough. There’s got to be something else.. something else that would make this book so significant to him…” Hermione’s eyes suddenly grew wide. “Harry… this settles it. We’re going to see the Baron. Now.” Remus chuckled, and Harry merely made a brief sound of annoyance. “It’s nearly 10:30 at night and the two of us have just spent most of the day at one of the worst places in the world,” said Harry. “We’re not going anywhere tonight!”
Hermione looked at Harry with a scowl that would have made Mrs. Weasley proud. “Get something warm to wear Harry. We’re going tonight.” Before Harry could protest further, she ran out of the room to grab something warm to wear for herself. As she ran back in, Harry asked, “Can you at least tell me why it needs to be tonight?” “No!” she yelled. “Now come on! Both of you!” With that, she ran out the front door. “I hate when she does this!” Harry stomped upstairs to grab a sweater, and when he came back downstairs Hermione was back inside. “Bring the Marauder’s Map Harry!” “What? Why?” “If you’re right about Hagrid, there will be nobody to let us inside the castle this time!” Harry winced. He had almost forgotten about Hagrid. “Hurry!” Hermione yelled, and ran back outside again to wait for them. Harry came rushing back downstairs after finding the map, and once again Hermione was inside. “Your knife! The one that opens any lock! Get that too!” "It was destroyed at the Ministry, Hermione," said Harry, and he yawned. "Oh.. oh yeah," Hermione said. "Well.. bring a flashlight, or something useful!" By the time Harry came back down a third time, he was quite out of breath. Luckily Hermione was still outside this time. He plodded outside to join her and Remus. “Come on, come on!” Without waiting, Hermione popped away Remus looked down at Harry and sighed wistfully. “Well, I didn’t want to sleep tonight anyway Harry.” He grinned and popped away. Harry shook his head angrily and joined them. --He arrived at Remus’ side at the edge of the borders of Hogwarts, and saw that Hermione had already started sprinting towards the castle. “Whatever she thinks she knows,” said Remus, “she’s going to be terribly disappointed if she’s wrong.”
“That’s the problem,” said Harry. “She’s almost never wrong.” Harry and Remus half-heartedly struggled to catch up with her. They finally did a mere 4 yards from the main entrance to the castle. They were both out of breath, while Hermione appeared completely invigorated. “The map, Harry,” she demanded. “I want to know exactly where the Baron is.” Harry dug the map out of his pocket and thrust it into her waiting hands. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” Hermione said. As she pored over the map, Harry and Remus sat down on the grass to rest. After a few minutes, Hermione sat down beside Remus with a puzzled look on her face. “Remus…” she said, “I see a couple people in the castle… but the only ghost I see is Binns..” “A couple people?” asked Harry and Remus at once. “Who?” “I don’t recognize either of these names!” Hermione exclaimed. “Simon Fisher-Becker? Lady Jane Grey?” Remus took the map from her and examined it for a moment. Finally, he said “Ah… of course.” He looked amused. “Hermione, you didn’t think that somebody would actually name their child The Fat Friar, did you?” “Umm.. well no.” “Simon Fisher-Becker is obviously the Fat Friar. Lady Jane Grey.. well that’s the Grey Lady I suppose.” He searched the map for a moment. “Ah, and here is Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington in Gryffindor Tower. Better known to you as Nearly Headless Nick,” Remus concluded. “The map shows names, not nick names… no pun intended.” Hermione nodded her understanding, took the map back from him and continued searching. After a moment, she smiled widely. “Just as I thought.” She spread out the map in front of Harry and Remus and pointed to the Slytherin common room… To where the ghost of the Baron Arcturus Black, better known to scores of Hogwarts students as The Bloody Baron, was hovering in front of the fireplace. --“Even if I did have my knife, it wouldn’t get us in to the Slytherin common room,” said Harry. “Only the password works on the dorm entrances.” They had found their way inside the castle, and were now in the dungeons, discussing how they were going to contact the Baron. He had not moved from his position in front of the Slytherin fireplace the entire time it had taken them to get down there.
Harry looked at Hermione. “Now that we’re stuck for a moment, do you think you could tell us what we’re doing here in the middle of the night?” “I would have thought that was obvious by now, Harry,” said Remus. “Whatever Voldemort may or may not be up to, it’s been attempted once before. Now that we know who he really is, Hermione must think that the Baron can fill in the blanks for us.” “And do you think he can, Remus?” asked Hermione. “I’m actually too tired to have an opinion,” said Remus. “Right now just consider me along for the ride.” Hermione paced back and forth in front of the blank wall that led to the Slytherin dormitories. “Parselmouth…………. Mudblood……… Imperio…… Crucio….” “What are you doing?” asked Harry. “Trying to guess the password, of course. Inferi… Lycanthrope…” At this last try, the wall began to rumble, and Hermione jumped backward with a shriek. But the wall remained shut, and they soon saw that the source of the rumbling was the Baron passing through the wall.
“Potter,” the Baron said with a sneer. “You just can’t go very long without breaking school rules, can you? Even when the school is closed! Ah! And I see you’ve brought some friends! Or should I say, accomplices?” “You told me to come to you if I thought I saw more signs that your ‘folly’ was being attempted again,” said Harry indignantly. “Well, I believe I’ve seen more.” Harry thought for a moment, then added, “Arcturus.” The effect was immediate. Arcturus hissed at the three of them and flew over their heads, a red gleam in his eyes. All three were startled and caught off balance, so that they fell to the floor. “So. You’ve pieced it together…. Though probably not all of it. Can I assume, then, that this is the brilliant Hermione you spoke of last time?” Harry nodded. “I’ll get right to the point. Arcturus’ Gate has been stolen from the Ministry of Magic.” Arcturus’ mood changed at once; he suddenly appeared terrified and very very old. “You are sure of this,” he whispered. Harry and Hermione nodded.
Hermione added, “2 muggle born children have been kidnapped in the last 3 months, and it appears they were both taken by the same person. One, a girl, was born during the spring equinox. The other, a boy, was born during the summer solstice.” Harry and Remus gaped at her: she had not told them about this. Arcturus sighed deeply and closed his eyes, his face full of worry. “Very well, Potter, Hermione,” said Arcturus, trying to regain his composure. “You have done as I have asked. I will now tell you the full story of the day I shuffled off my mortal coil. The day that we tried and failed to perform The Black Sacrifice.” “The Black Sacrifice?” Harry, Hermione, and Remus asked at once. “Quite possibly the most evil spell ever imagined, both in its intent and in its execution.” He hesitated. “I hope that… by telling you this in hopes to prevent it from happening again, I will have proven to you my remorse over the whole thing.” The three humans looked back and forth at each other, and nodded hesitantly. “Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t feel remorse simply because I died in the attempt. The centuries since have given me a lot of time to reflect on what a horrible thing I did. I am not the least bit proud of what I am about to tell you.” Arcturus looked around at the three of them, still dreading telling this story. But he was committed now. “Before we had made the attempt, the Sacrifice had been performed twice successfully, to my knowledge. Both successful attempts were led by ancestors of mine. The purpose of the spell is to call upon the spirit of a once living human, and place it into a fresh new host body to live anew. In each of the successful attempts prior to our attempt, the host body was that of a first-born Black male. Hence the name, the Black Sacrifice. “The host body in our attempt was my newborn son, Sirius.” Harry tensed at hearing this. “Your son was named Sirius Black?” Arcturus nodded. “The Blacks, you may have noticed, love to name children after the stars. Sirius was quite a popular name for male Blacks. There have been at least 4, to my knowledge. Along the same lines, I was the third Arcturus in our family. Hermione appeared to be thinking something over, and she finally asked hesitantly “Whose spirit were you trying to call upon, Mr.. uh.. Baron..Black..?” Arcturus looked over at her. “I’ll get to that,” he said coldly. Hermione looked down at the floor and said no more. “Dark wizards in my day and age were without a strong leader, and thus, they were more likely to act rashly and irresponsibly. Many thought that I should declare myself as some sort of leader for Dark wizards to rally behind, but I did not want that responsibility. In short, we needed a strong minded (and willing) Dark wizard to unite us, but there seemed to be none living at the time.
“I knew of an obscure ritual that had been passed down in secret from father to son in my family. It was decided amongst my close circle of friends that if we could not find a uniter among the living, we would find one among the dead. Arcturus hesitated again. The next part was going to be the most difficult to tell. “The ceremony itself was remarkably simple; it was the preparation that was complicated. The blood of 100 unicorns was required, and catching 100 unicorns is not easy at all. “4 large cauldrons were placed around the Gate, at each point of the compass, with the Gate at the exact center. Each cauldron was filled with the blood of 25 of the unicorns.” Hermione spoke up again. “We learned in our first year that anyone who kills a unicorn is cursed! Who could have survived killing 100 of them?” “Dementors,” said Arcturus simply. “Dementors have no problem with the curse that comes with killing a unicorn. They did it all for us.” He again gazed at her coldly, daring her to interrupt him again. “As I was saying, 4 cauldrons, filled with unicorn blood. Once the cauldrons were full, into each one was placed… an infant wizard.” Hermione gasped. Harry only nodded as if he had been expecting this. “Why only muggle borns sir?” asked Harry. “Being a muggle-born was not necessary for the children in the ritual,” said Arcturus. “We simply figured that if we were going to sacrifice four children, they might as well be Mudbloods.” Harry could hear Hermione grinding her teeth at this last part, but she remained quiet. “The requirements were that they be wizards, and that we had boys from the Solstices and girls from the Equinoxes. The reason for that last part has been lost in time, I’m afraid.” This last part made a light go on in Harry’s head. “What about the child being a first-born male? Was the reason for that lost in time as well?” Arcturus thought about this for a moment. “Indeed… I do not know why that was a requirement either. The host child did not need to be male… but I am certain that a first born was required.” Harry said nothing to this; he merely sat back, smiling thoughtfully. Hermione looked over to inquire what he was smiling about, but by then Arcturus was continuing. “The purpose of the four infant wizards is troubling… I wonder if I should continue. It will not be a pleasant thing to hear, and it is not necessary for you to know their purpose to prevent this from happening again.” Remus spoke up. “I think it is best,” he said softly, “that we hear all the facts. No matter how unpleasant they may be. Then we can decide for ourselves if they are useful or not.”
Arcturus nodded. “An infant placed into unicorn’s blood… will be in a perpetual state of limbo. Hovering back and forth between life and death. For while the blood suffocates them, it also, by its very nature, prevents them from dying… Imagine drowning, but not being able to die… “Opening the Gate is a very dangerous task. You open the door to all kinds of malevolent spirits, and there is simply no way to block them. Some are the ghosts of dead humans, some spirits were never human at all, but they all exist on the same plane that the Gate leads to. “Nothing is more attractive to a spirit than a living human… and the most attractive form of life is a new life. Spirits are driven towards a new life by both a sense of terrible envy and intense fascination. The four infant children, with their souls jumping in and our of their body like that, draw malevolent spirits to them like moths to a flame. Leaving us alone to perform the ritual relatively undisturbed…” Arcturus stopped again to observe his guests, who were all horrified. “Once the spirits are occupied with the 4 children, the calling forth of the particular ghost you wish to ressurect is a relatively simple enchantment. The host body must be placed directly in front of the Gate at precisely the moment when the spirit comes through it. The spirit inhabits the body, the body’s old soul enters the gate to replace it, the Gate is closed, and afterwards the spirits who are left outside the gate are weakened when the link to their homeworld is cut off. They become relatively easy to banish afterwards.” Remus thought this over for a moment. “You speak about all of this as if you were successful, when we already know you weren’t. So what happened? Why did you fail where your ancestors succeeded?” Arcturus thought this over, wondering where he should begin. “In order to locate the correct spirit, the ritual must be performed where they died, and as close as possible to the time of year that they died. We needed to perform the ritual in June, and we had all four children as early as February. But in the last week of May, one of the children was rescued. “The WHPS, of which I helped form, had just that year formed an elite squad of dark wizard catchers which they called Aurors. A young Auror, intent on making a name for himself, had been tracking our movements from afar and had discovered what we intended to do. He assumed that by rescuing one of the children, we would be unable to continue with our plans. “Unfortunately for us, we were desperate, and by the time the deadline rolled around, we were still one child short. Foolishly, we came to the decision that 3 children would be enough to pacify the spirits we would encounter. And at first, we were right. “But when we placed my son on to the altar, their interest could not be held by the other three children alone. They started to go after my son as well, and when I removed him from the altar to try and protect him, they became infuriated. I knew the ritual was a failure already, so in an attempt to at least try to save myself, I placed my son back on to the altar and made a run for it. As I fled from the scene, I noticed that the three cauldrons that had held the children had all been dumped by the spirits; only the one without a child remained upright and full. The children, free from the unicorn blood, would be dead, leaving nothing behind to distract the spirits.
“Hundreds of people had turned up to watch the ritual performed, and the scene was one of utter chaos. People were being torn apart by spirits left and right, but for reasons unknown, I was left alone in my flight. It seems that a particularly mischievous spirit had set his sights on me and had asked the others to leave me alone. “I heard a kind of whistling sound behind me, and turned to see the full cauldron of unicorn blood flying straight towards me. The spirit upended the blood directly over me, cursing me to death almost immediately. The last thing I heard was this spirit’s cackling laughter. Arcturus paused yet again, looking down to observe the silvery blood stains all down his shirt. “I was the leader of the ritual and the only Black (other than my son) present. With me dead, the Gate began to shut, and many of the spirits (not to mention a few solid objects like the cauldrons) were sucked back through the portal. Once it was shut, there was nothing left behind to give anyone any idea of what had happened there. And I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to tell them. Nobody until now has known who the Bloody Baron really is…” “There has to be someone,” said Hermione. “Otherwise, how would someone know enough to perform the ritual again?” “I’ve only told one other person of these things, and not nearly with as much detail as I’ve told you,” said Arcturus. “A brilliant young Slytherin prefect, who was obsessed with Hogwarts history, badgered me into telling him the story in his 6th year here. Though I left out the identity of Arcturus Black of course. Now… what was his name… it’s been so long!” “Tom Riddle,” said the three of them at once. “Yes, that was it!” said Arcturus. “How did you know?” Hermione didn’t answer this; instead she asked a question of her own. “You never told us who you were trying to resurrect sir.” Arcturus sighed. “Is it really that important? Alright, I can see that it is. You see, we wanted a leader who would command respect immediately; we were too impatient for someone to gain respect over time. Someone whose name alone would command the loyalty of all the Dark wizards in the country. We were trying to resurrect Salazar Slytherin.” “And that’s exactly who Voldemort is trying to resurrect,” said Remus in an awed voice. “Which means we have until June to stop him…” Harry ignored this; something else was gnawing at him. “Arcturus… the Auror… the Auror who rescued the baby.. whatever happened to him?” “Once he realized we weren’t going to be deterred, he showed up at the ceremony site,” said Arcturus sadly. “He got there too late to prevent anything though. In my first few minutes as a ghost, I saw his dead body clearly on the north side of the Gate. He looked awful; it looked like the spirits had set him on fire.
Arcturus looked towards the stone floor, an unseen smile spreading across his face. “But when a man is determined enough, you’d be surprised what he can accomplish. That same Auror came back to the school a year later and applied for a teaching position. It seems he never wanted to be too far from the site again, in case anyone decided to attempt the Sacrifice again. He became a bit obsessive, actually.” Harry, Hermione, and Remus exchanged looks, completely confused. “If he died the same day you did, how did he come back a year later to teach?” asked Harry. “Was he a ghost? A ghost teacher like Binns?” “No,” said Arcturus. “No, he was not a ghost. He was as alive as you are. But I am not mistaken when I say that he was most definitely dead the year before.” “But…” stammered Hermione, “that’s simply impossible!” “Young lady,” said Arcturus, grinning, “one thing I’ve learned in my two centuries at this school is that when you’re dealing with Albus Dumbledore, the word ‘impossible’ rarely comes in to play.”
Borgin Sells Out
Remus spoke up first. “Dumbledore. You expect us to believe…” “That the Auror was Dumbledore, yes,” finished Arcturus. “Of course, he went by a different name back then. I’ve learned that he changes his name every time he…” “You died in 1726, Baron,” interrupted Remus. “Dumbledore was old, but not that old.” “He was born in 1845, sir,” said Hermione timidly. “I’m sorry, but you must be mistaken…” “Maybe you’re not as bright as Potter believes, young lady,” said Arcturus with a sneer. “I would have thought that you, of all people, could have put the pieces together by now.”
Hermione wasn’t sure whether to take this as a compliment or an insult, so she simply shook her head and shrugged. Arcturus turned his attention to Harry. “It is my understanding,” said Arcturus, “that Sirius Black the 4th, the only Black ever to be sorted in to Gryffindor, became an Animagus while here at Hogwarts.” Harry nodded. “His form was a dog, a huge black dog… probably a labrador, but bigger.” “And did you ever,” continued Arcturus, “notice any dog-like traits in him while he was in human form?” Harry shrugged. “Fiercely loyal… quick to anger… I suppose. Pettigrew though… Pettigrew definitely displayed rat-like tendencies when in human form. What’s your point?” “All Animagi inherit some traits of their animal form upon successfully becoming one. And since most of the time Animagi can only become normal, non-magical animals, this in and of itself might not be so remarkable. Every so often though, a wizard will discover that their Animagus form is that of a magical creature. And that wizard will inherit not only that animal’s traits, but their powers as well.” Hermione gasped as she finally understood. “But.. the registry.. He wasn’t on there.” Arcturus chuckled. “Dumbledore was alive long before the registry even existed,” he said. “As for supposedly being born in 1845, that was simply the last time he was re-born. “Albus Dumbledore, the only Phoenix Animagus ever known to exist, has died at least 6 times to my knowledge. He once told me that his memory gets fuzzy trying to go back any further than that.” --The following morning, the three of them plus Ron and Ginny were sitting in Harry’s living room, discussing everything they had learned over the past 2 days. “It’s obvious that it won’t even work,” said Harry, “so why waste our time figuring out how to prevent it? I say we just let him try it and fail!” “It’s tricky, though, Harry,” said Ginny. “I’ve never known a spell to be concerned with semantics.” “It’s not semantics!” argued Harry. “It’s simple fact! The spell requires a first-born, and Narcissa’s child will not be her first born!” “It will, however, be Voldemort’s,” said Remus quietly. “Ginny is right; it’s tricky. There’s three schools of thought here: he will be Voldemort’s first-born, he will be Narcissa’s first born as a Black, but it is not technically her first-born child.”
“I don’t even think it matters, honestly,” said Ron. Harry looked over to him, eyebrow raised. “Would you really consider just waiting to see if it blows up in You-Know-Who’s face? I mean, suppose it does turn out that his baby is not a suitable host. Those four other babies will still die while You-Know-Who is figuring that out.” Harry’s look softened. “You’re right… I’m sorry.” Nobody spoke for a few minutes. Then Hermione broke the silence. “About… Dumbledore…” Harry glared at her. “I thought we had agreed..” Hermione interrupted him. “ ‘We’ didn’t agree on anything. You told me to keep quiet and I didn’t say anything back, at the time.” “What about Dumbledore?” asked Ginny eagerly. Harry continued glaring at Hermione, daring her to say anything. “The Baron thought he’d have a little fun with us after all the serious stuff he had to tell us,” said Harry. “He thought he’d try to give us hope that Dumbledore is still alive.” “And I still say,” said Hermione, “that he’d have no reason to lie to us!” “I think they deserve to make up their own minds, Harry,” said Remus, “so I will tell them. After Remus finished, Ron spoke up right away. “I always thought it a bit odd that he would name the Order after his pet bird. He didn’t though.. he was naming it as his Order!” Harry groaned. “So you believe it too?” He looked over at Ginny. “Please tell me that you don’t.” “I’m sorry Harry, but you have to admit, it would explain a lot.” “Such as?” “One of Dumbledore’s favorite sayings, for one,” said Ginny. “ ‘There are worse things than Death.’ It would explain why his tomb burst in to flames, and the phoenix shape that you thought you saw flying out of it. Fawkes’ loyalty to him, and the fact that they could speak to each other…” “Fine, fine,” said Harry. “So where is he? If he’s alive, why hasn’t he let the world know?” “Gee Harry,” said Ron with a smirk, “you’re right. I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would want to hide from the world the fact that they were still alive.” Everyone, including Harry, laughed at this.
“Plus… he may not look like himself,” said Ginny. “I know Fawkes becomes an adult rather quickly after being re-born, but it may be on a different scale for Dumbledore. Who knows what age he may look like now?” There was another long silence as the five of them pondered this. This time, the silence was broken by Remus. “If he is indeed alive, and wants to remain hidden, nobody in this room is going to find him. So let’s keep our focus on the Sacrifice, and let Dumbledore worry about himself.” --Times were bad for the shopkeepers in Knockturn Alley. Even those shops that sold relatively innocent items were struggling, due to the fact that nobody wanted to be seen shopping there. Being seen in Knockturn was a good way to get your name on the Minster’s list of enemies, whether you deserved it or not. Borgin and Burkes did not sell anything which could even remotely be considered innocent, and thus they were struggling more than any other store. Borgin would often go entire shifts without a single sale, and he had had to fire most of his staff as he could not afford to pay them anymore. To make matters worse, the Ministry had recently published a new list of banned magical items, and Borgin was dismayed to discover that the newest list was well represented in his establishment, just as the previous lists had all been. Rufus Scrimgeour himself had paid the store a visit the previous week, to make sure that Borgin was in compliance. For all outward appearances, he was, but his secret storeroom, already full of all the previously banned items, was now suddenly very crowded. So when Borgin heard the front door open that Tuesday morning, he could barely contain his excitement. He’d been in the back doing inventory, certain that nobody would be in to disturb him. When he saw who his customer was though, the excitement drained from him. “Fletcher,” he said coldly. “Make it fast. I’m about due for another Ministry visit.” “This won’t take long,” said Mundungus. “The locket. Were you able to open it?” Borgin had to think for a moment to remember what Mundungus was talking about. “No, no I wasn’t…” Mundungus smiled. “Then you’ll have no problem giving it back to me.” Borgin observed Mundungus with naked suspicion. “You couldn’t wait to get rid of that thing last time I saw you, along with all that worthless junk with the Black family crest on it,” he said. “You kept mumbling about it being ‘evidence’. ” Mundungus nodded. “Exactly. The person I stole it from no longer suspects me, so I can afford to take it back. Even if I can’t open it, it was always my favorite item amongst that ‘junk’ , as you call it.”
Borgin’s eyes drilled into Mundungus, searching for any hint of dishonesty. When he couldn’t find any, he shrugged his shoulders and walked into the back of the store to search for the locket. “If you’re still interested, I know how to open it,” Borgin shouted from the back. “That’s a very interesting locket you brought me. Worthless, yes, but interesting.” If you think it’s worthless, thought Remus/Mundungus, you must not have gotten it open yourself. “I can’t open it myself,” yelled Borgin. “But I probably could be persuaded to tell you how to open it. Ah! Here we are.” Borgin walked back in to the front of the shop, holding out a locket. Remus had not seen the locket for himself, but this one seemed to fit the description Harry had given him. “Persuaded, eh?” asked Remus with a smirk. “How much?” “50 Galleons,” said Borgin humorlessly. Remus nodded. “I think I’ll pass,” he said, realizing that they didn’t need it open to destroy it. “Even if I had that kind of money, I think it looks fine the way it is.” “Fine,” said Borgin angrily. “Now get out. I’ve got enough problems without escaped prisoners browsing my shelves in broad daylight.” --“Apologize, and give him 100 Galleons,” said Harry 3 minutes later from his hiding spot down the street from Borgin & Burkes. He reached into his pocket and handed Remus the necessary funds. “Even if you’re right, it couldn’t hurt to know how to open it.” “He’s already suspicious enough, Harry,” said Remus. “If I go back in there, he’ll start to wonder why the locket is suddenly so important... even moreso. He may even decide that he wants it back.” “I’ll hold it,” said Harry. “And I’m thinking 100 will be enough to distract him from any questions that pop in to his head.” Harry looked Remus over from head to toe. “You’d better hurry, I’d say you’ve only got about 20 minutes left on that Polyjuice.” --Remus strolled back to the shop. He was about to walk back in when he heard heated voices coming from inside.
“… they’re in compliance, Weasley!” he heard Borgin pleading desperately. “I haven’t seen them in any of the 5 lists that have been released so far!” “There’s a new list being released next week,” Remus heard Percy Weasley say. “The Minister of Magic thought he’d give you a friendly heads up.” “You’re driving me out of business!” shouted Borgin. “This new list leaves me with…” He paused to do the math in his head. “7 items left in the store that I can sell!” “Perhaps this is a sign that you should pursue a more reputable occupation Borgin,” Percy said coldly. “So.. if that is all..” “No, that’s not all!” said Borgin. “There’s got to be something I can do… Fudge and I always had a bit of an.. understanding..” “The new Minister had made it quite clear what you can do to avoid this level of scrutiny, but you’ve thus far refused.” “I HAVEN’T REFUSED ANYTHING!” yelled Borgin, loud enough to make a passerby on the other side of the street look over. “I can’t give you information that I don’t have!” “Well then, we have nothing left to talk about,” said Percy. “I hear the joke shop business is simply booming Borgin. Maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll put in a good word with my brothers and they’ll give you a job.” Percy sneered, and moved towards the front door. “Wait… wait!” There was raw panic in Borgin’s voice now. “Fletcher! Mundungus Fletcher! He was in the store not ten minutes ago! I think he’ll be back!” Percy raised an eyebrow and chuckled softly. “Fletcher is not a Death Eater, and thus is of no real concern to the Minister at the moment. Names, Borgin. Death Eaters’ whereabouts. Real information that can lead us to You-Know-Who. Talk, or starve.” Borgin sat down on the floor and covered his face with his hands. “I don’t know! I swear to you, the last Death Eater in the store was Draco Malfoy, over a year ago!” Percy nodded. “Very well. Then you can expect the new list next week." Percy walked out the front door, leaving Borgin alone. Remus slipped back in to the store silently. “Thanks Borgin,” he said sarcastically. “Glad to know I can trust you to keep your mouth shut.” Borgin looked up and grimaced. “What would you have done? Anyways, didn’t I tell you to get out?” “I came back to apologize, actually,” said Remus. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to know how to open the locket after all. I have 100 Galleons for you, and it sounds like you’re going to be needing it.”
Borgin’s eyes widened. “100 Galleons? Show it to me.” Remus brought out Harry’s money. “There must be something very special inside that locket if this is what it is worth to you,” Borgin said. Remus shrugged. “Merely sentimental. It reminds me of a locket my mother once had.” Borgin didn’t believe this at all, but he was torn between his curiousity and his concern for his rapidly disappearing inventory. He sat in thought for almost two minutes; Remus waited patiently. “I want to know what you find in there,” Borgin said finally. Remus shook his head. “Sorry. You tell me how, no questions, or I keep my gold and go spend it in Diagon Alley somewhere.” Borgin growled, but he nodded. “Fine. The Galleons first.” Remus handed over the money. Borgin eyed it greedily, and took it in to the back of the store for safekeeping. When he returned, he was grinning maliciously. “Well?” asked Remus. “How do I open it?” “I’ll tell you, but I don’t think it’ll do you any good,” said Borgin. “It seems only a Parselmouth can open that locket. So, now that Harry Potter is dead, unless you plan on asking the Dark Lord himself to open your precious locket for you…” But Remus was already out the door, and he did not hear the end of Borgin’s taunt.
Excerpt – THE DAILY PROPHET November , 1997 – PERSONAL ADS SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME
Where is my Prince? I lost him last year in Scotland. Teach me something, please. I’ve heard from him twice since, and I wish to return his favor. My Prince is fiercely close minded, but if he remembers where he once found Roonil Wazlib, He’ll find me there as well. 196:4:12-A 71:18:16-B 221:11:1-C 366:72:19 212:45:3 56:42:15 57:12:6 234:18:19, - - “I wish you had run this by me first, Harry,” said Remus. “You’re an adult now, and you’ve certainly earned the right to make your own decisions, but…” “But you would have tried to talk me out of it,” finished Harry. “If it makes a difference, I don’t trust him either. But if he was going to kill me, he would have done it at Hogwarts.” “Do not underestimate Severus Snape, Harry,” Remus said severely. “He could have any number of tricks or traps planned for you. His entire message to you through Pettigrew could have been to push you into doing something like this.” “Something like what?” said a voice from the front door. Remus and Harry turned to see Ginny leaning against the front door, the early morning sunlight at her back. Harry and Remus exchanged guilty glances, like they’d been caught discussing something dirty. “Nothing,” said Harry. “Don’t ‘nothing’ me Harold Potter,” Ginny said. “If you’re going to attempt something heroic and stupid again, I at least deserve to know what you’re attempting.” “Fine. I put a coded message in the Prophet for Snape,” Harry said matter-of-factly. “If he is really trying to help us, he’ll need to know what the book and the locket really look like.” “Meaning…” Ginny began. “Meaning that I told him to meet me somewhere and I would show them to him.” Ginny gasped. Hermione, who had just woken up and had joined them from the living room, gasped as well. “A coded message?” she said. “How do you know someone else won’t decode it?”
Harry, who had begun this conversation by showing the message to Remus, showed it to Hermione. “Because only Snape will know what ‘Roonil Wazlib’ means. It’s the name that was in Ron’s Advanced Potions book that I tried to pass off as my own.” Hermione scanned the ad. “So.. it’s a book code?” Harry nodded. “The first number is the page number, second is the number of lines down the page, third is the letter. All Snape has to do is get a copy of Advanced Potions to decode it.” Although Hermione was horrified at Harry’s plan, her eyes widened in admiration. “That’s really clever Harry!” “Stop encouraging him!” said Ginny angrily. “Not that clever,” said Harry. “I got the idea from a muggle book I’m reading called Red Dragon.” “So what does the message say?” asked Ginny. “ ‘Snape,’ ” Harry begun. “ ‘I have some items that may be of some interest to you. Meet me at my parents’ house this Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. Come alone. I will do the same. Potter. ’ ” “Like hell you will!” exclaimed Hermione and Ginny at the same time. “I have to agree,” said Remus. “In spite of everything we’ve witnessed over the past week Harry, at the end of the day Snape is still a fugitive and a murderer. If you meet with him and don’t tell the Ministry, and anyone found out…” “I’ll take my chances in that regard,” said Harry coldly. “Even though it was Pettigrew you were talking to in Ireland, Snape couldn’t have been too far away. Unless Pettigrew developed supreme Legilemency skills, Snape was probably just outside the inn, or maybe even inside it somewhere, letting Pettigrew know what to say. He’ll know if I’m not alone, and he’ll disapparate before you can say Quidditch.” “Fine,” said Ginny. “Then you’re not going. You’re no Legilemens Harry. Snape will know if you’re alone; you won’t know the same about him.” “I’m supposed to be dead,” said Harry. “And if Snape is still alive, by now he’s led Voldemort to believe the locket and book that I will have with me are still safely stowed. Anyone he brought with him, he’d have to kill them if they saw me.” Harry smirked. Hermione had been staring silently at the floor, but she suddenly looked up. “Why?” Harry looked at her. “Why what?” “Why bother Harry? This isn’t like you! Why do you feel like you owe him anything?”
Harry considered this for a moment. “It’s not just that. Maybe I still feel like he owes me a little. I have many questions for him. I feel like he owes me some answers.” --Harry sat alone in the ruins of the house in which he should have grown up. Though it was in the same town as the house he was hiding in, he hadn’t come back here since his first visit at the beginning of the summer. He had come here early to reflect on some of the questions he wanted to ask Snape. Although he had told Hermione that answers were his main reason for arranging this meeting, he really only had one question planned. Harry looked at his watch. 8:55, and Remus had told him that Snape wasn’t very punctual. Harry stood and moved through the ruins slowly, marveling at the fact that nobody had ever tried to rebuild on this land. It was as if the terrible things that had happened there had become ghosts, haunting the ruined house and keeping everyone away from it. Harry had a brief image of Arcturus surrounded by hundreds of dead wizards, in what was now the Dark Forest, and thought that this idea was all too likely. “Clever, Potter,” said a voice behind him suddenly. Harry jumped and whirled around, his thoughts evaporating. Severus Snape was standing five feet behind him. Knowing it was probably a bad idea but unable to stop himself, Harry brought out his wand. Snape regarded it and smirked. “I must say, too clever,” Snape continued. “Clever enough for me to assume that Hermione Granger has gone from writing your Potions essays for you to writing coded messages in the Prophet for you.” “I wrote it myself,” said Harry indignantly. “Check if you don’t believe me.” “That won’t be necessary, Potter,” said Snape with a sneer. “I daresay I’ve had enough glimpses into your pathetic little mind to last me some time.” Harry brought his wand to chest level. “Against all better judgement, I may be saving your life tonight Snape. And yet you still continue to insult me to my face?” Harry expected nothing more than another cynical jibe from Snape. What he didn’t expect was for Snape to suddenly look troubled at these words. “You’re…you’re,” Snape appeared to be having difficulty with what he was about to say. “You’re.. absolutely right Potter. And… I apologize.” Harry was dumbstruck. His arms fell to his sides and he accidentally dropped his wand. In what seemed like an eternity to Harry, he and Snape both looked down at it. Harry picked it up as quickly as he could. He knew
that in the time between dropping the wand and picking it up, Snape could have easily drawn his own and done whatever he pleased while Harry was defenseless. Snape merely stood silently and stared the whole time. Once Harry had his wand again, Snape looked around at their surroundings. “A rather morbid place for a meeting, Potter,” Snape mused. He seemed to have recovered from his apology already. “Perhaps you could tell me what we are doing here.” “I’m here to show you the locket and the book,” said Harry simply. “That’s not what I meant and you know it!” Snape snapped back. “Why did you bring me HERE of all places?” “Maybe I wanted you to see the consequences of your actions in person,” Harry said. “You did this Snape. Voldemort came here and killed my parents because of you.” Snape’s face twisted as violently as it had when Harry had called him a coward during the flight from Hogwarts. “Oh to be 17 again,” said Snape angrily. “To know everything and to have everything in the whole world figured out. God, how I miss that feeling.” Snape turned on his heel and walked towards where the front door used to be. “Hey!” said Harry, surprised. “You’re leaving? Don’t you want to see the ‘cruxes?” “In a moment Potter,” said Snape. He had calmed down slightly. “First, I have some things to show you.” Harry followed him to the front. Snape walked behind a tree and when Harry joined him, he saw that Snape had brought his Pensieve with him. “You don’t need to tell me that you came here for answers tonight, Potter,” said Snape, and Harry thought he heard a slight hitch in Snape’s voice, as if he was holding back tears. “I owe you none. But..” Harry noted that Snape was having the same difficulty speaking as he had had when he apologized. “I.. I simply can’t stand to see those eyes of yours look at me so accusingly anymore.” “Huh?” said Harry, confused. “Since when do you…” “I will be missed soon Potter, so we need to get this done.” With that, he grabbed Harry’s elbow and plunged headfirst into the Pensieve.” They landed with a thud on the grounds of Hogwarts. Harry looked around and saw his father, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew sitting underneath a familiar looking oak tree. James was playing with a snitch while Pettigrew looked on in awe. Harry turned around and saw Young Snape sitting under a different tree, his face buried in a piece of parchment.
“Snape..” Harry said. “I’ve already seen this memory.” “Had you not been staring at your father the whole time, you might have seen something significant the first time Potter,” Snape said. “Come on over to where I am sitting.” Harry followed Snape over to where Young Snape was seated. “What am I looking for?” “Read the parchment,” Snape said impatiently. Harry looked down at the parchment in Young Snape’s hands. Two years ago he had thought that this was a list of O.W.L. questions that Snape had brought with him to review; instead, he now saw that it was his own mother’s name, written over and over again, with slight differences each time. “Lily Prince” “Lily Evans Prince” “Lily Snape-Prince” “Mrs. Severus Prince” “Mrs. Severus Snape (crossed out)” “Lily Snape (crossed out)” “Severus Prince-Evans” “Seen enough?” said Snape. “You.. had a crush? On my mom??” asked Harry, incredulous. Snape sneered. “You could say that.” “But later in the memory…” Harry stammered. “You call her a…” “I know what I called her Potter,” said Snape. “Being who I was, it would have seemed odd if I hadn’t said something unpleasant to her. She might have realized…. how I felt…” Harry looked out to the edge of the water where his mother was spending time with friends. He then looked down at Young Snape and saw that he was looking in the same direction, with the same look of longing he had seen on his young father’s face the last time. “All right, Snivellus?” Harry heard his father yell from across the grass. “No need to watch this bit again,” said Snape. He brought out his wand and twirled it, and the scene before them evaporated like smoke. Harry and Snape now found themselves in the Hogwarts library, and Harry saw Young Snape seated by himself at one of the bookshelves, his nose buried in a book about werewolf hunting. Harry noticed that this Snape was slightly taller than the one following the O.W.L.s “First day of sixth year,” Snape said to Harry without prompt. “Hello, Severus,” said a timid voice behind them. Both Snapes and Harry looked up to see Lily Evans standing there, with three books in her left arm and a small piece of parchment in her right hand. She was holding this bit of parchment out to Young Snape. “Evans,” Young Snape said curtly.
“Have a good summer?” Lily asked. “What do you want?” Young Snape asked, ignoring the question. Lily sighed. “Fine, be that way. I’ll get right to the point, then. I received Os in every O.W.L. except one, Severus. I received an A in Defense Against The Dark Arts. I’ve been accepted into the N.E.W.T. level class, but I thought I ought to get some tutoring anyway. Professor McGonagall said you were available.” Young Snape reached out and snatched the parchment from Lily’s hand and scanned it. “Snape – You will receive the standard 50 points to Slytherin if you will tutor Miss Evans. – M. McGonagall” “150,” said Young Snape after a moment. “Excuse me?” said Lily. “I won’t tutor you for less than 150 points, Evans. If that’s a problem, find someone else.” With that, he went back to his book. “I can’t haggle points with McGonagall!” exclaimed Lily. “Are you insane?” Snape ignored her and kept on reading. “Please, Severus,” pleaded Lily. “I need a N.E.W.T. to have any hope of becoming an Auror.” Young Snape raised his eyebrows and closed his book with a slam. “Oh! That’s different then,” he said sarcastically. “I’d never miss a chance to help someone join those self-righteous jerks. When do we start!?” He stood up, turned on his heel dramatically, and stormed off. Lily sat down and began to cry silently. At that moment, James Potter strolled into the aisle, whistling quietly. He stopped whistling when he noticed Lily sitting there. “Evans? Are you o.k.?” he said, concerned. Lily looked up sharply and began quickly drying her tears. “Potter. Beginning your creepy ogling of me as soon as possible this year eh?” James had begun to sit down next to her, but this made him stand up again. “Fine. I was just trying to be nice. See you around.” He began to walk away. Lily watched him go for a moment. “Pott… James! Wait!” James looked around. “Don’t go,” Lily said. “I’m sorry, I just… that was mean. I take it back.” Harry looked up at Snape. A question had just formed in his mind. “You stormed off. How are we still seeing this?” “I’ll show you in a moment,” said Snape.
James sat back down, almost reluctantly. “What did he say to you?” he asked. “Who, Snape?” asked Lily. “Oh no, it wasn’t what he said. I just really need a tutor for Defense Against The Dark Arts, and he won’t do it. I hate to admit it, but there’s really nobody else in the school good enough.” “Lily Evans needs a tutor in something?” said James incredulously. “I was just… well I thought that.. you pretty much knew everything!” “Oh stop it,” Lily said, but the innocent compliment had made her blush. “For your information, I only got an A on my O.W.L. I barely passed.” “You got an A? What do you need a tutor for then?” “Because you need top marks on your N.E.W.T. to become an Auror! All the other requirements aren’t an issue; I got Os in all of them.” James pondered this for a moment. “Well… I mean I’m not exactly a tutor, but I got an E on my DADA O.W.L. If you want… I could maybe…” “Evans!” said a voice from the end of the aisle. James and Lily turned to see that Young Snape had returned. “Yes, Severus?” Lily said angrily. “I’ve changed my mind. Or rather, McGonagall changed it for me. When do you want to start?” Lily’s mood brightened instantly. “You mean it?! Okay! The sooner the better!” “You’re just lucky you asked me so early,” said Young Snape, as he glared at James. James, on the other hand, ignored Snape entirely. “My tutoring schedule has filled up within a week for the past 3 years. I have a Sunday night spot open and a Saturday night spot.” “Sunday is good. Thank you Severus!” Young Snape nodded, and left. The memory then began to dissolve around them. “You never went to see McGonagall,” said Harry. “You just didn’t want my dad helping her study.” “Very good Potter,” said Snape. “So you were listening to them the entire time?” Harry asked, a little disgusted. Snape ignored this. “Ready for another?” Harry shrugged and nodded. “How many more are there?” “A few. Does it really matter? You’re getting to know your parents, isn’t that enough for you?”
Harry pondered this, and nodded. “Fine then. Next memory. This one is about 1 month later.” Snape twirled his wand, and they found themselves once again in the Hogwarts Library. Young Snape and Lily were seated next to each other at a table, and she was whispering animatedly into his ear, a smile on her face. She finished whatever she was saying and he looked at her and shook his head no. “By the end of tonight,” Harry heard Lily whisper, “I will make you laugh Severus!” Young Snape crossed his arms and gave Lily a look of mock defiance. “Not a chance Evans.” But when Lily turned her head briefly, Harry saw Young Snape’s lips curl up into a tiny smile. Harry looked up at the scowling figure next to him and couldn’t imagine this man ever smiling, even with the evidence right in front of him. Young Snape managed to hide the smile by the time Lily looked back. “You’re too serious!” she said. “You won’t live to be 25 if you stay so serious all the time!” “Being serious suits some people, Evans,” said Young Snape. “I happen to think it suits me well. Maybe I don’t even enjoy laughing all that much, have you ever considered that?” Lily looked him over. “No,” she said. “I don’t believe that.” She smiled at him, and looked back down at her paper. Young Snape tried to think of a response to this. When he couldn’t, he said, “We’d better finish up, Alice will be here any minute. She aspires to be an Auror as well, you know.” “And I bet she’ll make a great one,” said Lily as she stood up to leave. “Thank you Severus. I’ll see you next week.” To Harry and Young Snape’s surprise, Lily bent down and kissed him on the cheek. Lily turned and left, and Young Snape put his hand to his cheek and held it there. His hand was still there and his mouth was still slightly ajar when Alice walked in to the library 3 minutes later. Harry didn’t see it, but Snape twirled his wand again. The library dissolved into the library a week later. Again, Young Snape and Lily were seated next to each other. This time though, Snape was bent over his schoolbooks, clutching his stomach laughing hysterically. He was trying without much luck to keep his laughing quiet, and Madame Pince was giving the pair hateful stares every couple of seconds. “Shhhhh!” Pince said every three seconds. Lily was trying her best to look smug, but being smug didn’t seem to suit her: she merely looked happy. “See how good that feels?” said Lily, and she giggled. “You’d better be careful, people might actually think you’re happy Severus.”
Severus stopped laughing immediately and tried his best to go back to his perpetual frown. Lily was still beaming at him though, with a smile that had melted more hearts than Severus could even guess. He gave up, and smiled back. “That’s more like it,” Lily said, satisfied. “Now come on, let’s get back to it. I think we may be getting a surprise test on vampires tomorrow.” Snape twirled his wand once more, and the library gave way to the Hogwarts grounds once more. This time it was just before sunset. Severus was sitting with his back against the same tree Harry had seen him at before, a thick book open in his hands, while Lily paced in front of him nervously. “November,” Snape said quietly. “Come on Lily, I’ve asked you this one three times already!” said Severus. “The three blood types that are more resistant to vampirism. I know you know this one!” “I’m certain I do,” said Lily airily. “It’s just… it’s too nice of a night to study! That’s partly why I asked for our session to be outside tonight.” “Your make-up test is tomorrow, Lily,” said Severus with a grin. “Nice night or no, you need to know all of this by tomorrow at 11:00.” Lily stopped pacing. “I know, I know,” she said. “I’ll make a deal with you. Walk down to the lake with me. Leave the book behind. I just want to forget school for an hour. After that hour, I’ll be a captive audience, I promise.” “I don’t earn points for my house by taking evening strolls, Lily!” exclaimed Severus nervously. “I earn them by making sure you get an O on your make-up test!” “Severuuuus!” she mock pouted, and began to pull on his arm. “One hour. I promise.” She finally succeeded in pulling him in to a standing position. Severus chuckled. “Fine. Starting now.” Harry and Snape followed Lily and Severus down to the lake. Lily did almost all of the talking, and Severus mostly just nodded in the right parts to indicate he was listening. She talked mostly about home and how much she was starting to miss it again, her wonderful parents and her less-than-wonderful sister. She would sometimes ask about Severus’ home life, but he would only shake his head and indicate that she should continue doing the talking. “I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to go home over Christmas,” Lily said. “I know I won’t be,” said Severus. “Hogwarts is more of a home to me than that place ever was. But you sound like you have much to go home to. Why would you stay?” Lily bit her lip, and looked out at the lake. “Severus… are we friends?”
Severus looked out at the lake as well, not entirely sure how to respond to this. “Yes… yes I think we are,” he said finally. “Good,” she said, and smirked. “Because I don’t tell deep dark secrets to my tutors.” “Deep and dark, hmm?” said Severus. “I’m intrigued.” “It’s just that..” Lily began, and she paused. “I’m just… I might stay because I’m just hoping that someone will ask me to the Yule Ball.” “The.. the Yule Ball?” stammered Severus, and he swallowed hard. He had definitely not been expecting this. “Someone… in particular? Or just someone?” “Oh, someone in particular,” said Lily. “I just… don’t think he will ask me. We don’t exactly have the best history..” Severus swallowed hard again, looked down at the ground, and began to fidget nervously. “Well.. ahh..,” he began. “He’d be a fool not to.. Lily..” Lily smiled, and gave Severus a brief hug. “You’re sweet. Do you think you’ll ask anyone to go?” “Oh! I umm.. I don’t… maybe. I don’t think anyone… would say yes though…” Lily observed him silently for a moment. “Well,” she said, “maybe you should start acting around everyone else the way you act around me. If they knew what I did… they’d be fools to say no as well.” It was the kindest thing anyone had ever said to Severus, and he turned his face away to hide the fact that his eyes had begun to well up a little. “Severus?” said Lily. “Are you okay?” A small hourglass that Severus kept for his tutoring sessions began to glow red in his pocket. “Time’s up, Lily,” he said quietly. Snape twirled his wand once more. They now found themselves in what Harry recognized as the corridor outside of the Slytherin dorms. Severus was pacing nervously. Harry noticed that he had combed his hair for a change and had tried his best to hide as much of his acne as possible. “One week later,” said Snape. Severus was whispering under his breath. “Miss Evans, would you do me the honor of… no no… Lily, I was wondering if…. Oi! Lily! Come to the ball with me!” Severus slapped his forehead several times. “No that’s stupid! Lily… your eyes are especially beautiful tonight… no… Lily.. I was thinking about what you said last week…. Lily! Since you’re staying here over the holiday anyway…. Okay.. okay.. let’s do this.”
Severus began to walk very fast up to the library. He continued to practice the entire time. When he reached the top of the stairs on the fourth floor, he turned the corridor to the library just in time to see James Potter bending down to give Lily Evans a goodnight kiss. Severus screeched to a halt. “Goodnight,” Severus heard James say. “I’ll see you in Potions tomorrow morning.” Lily nodded, smiling. James walked away, leaving Lily leaning against the outside wall of the library, staring dreamily at the ceiling. As soon as James was out of sight, Lily finally looked down and noticed Severus standing there, his mouth agape. She ran over to him and hugged him tightly. “He asked me!!” shouted Lily. “He asked me Severus! Can you believe it!?” “Yeah…,” said Severus, but he did not hug her back. “Yeah.. that’s.. great news Evans.” The sudden usage of her surname brought Lily back down to earth. She stood back and observed Severus for the first time. “Don’t you look nice tonight!” she exclaimed, and examined him again from head to toe. “What’s with the… no! You thought of someone to ask, didn’t you!?” “Yes,” said Severus immediately. “Yes, that’s exactly it. I was going to ask her after our session actually.” “Well, who is it?” Lily asked excitedly. “Maybe all four of us could go together as a group!” “Yeah… yeah that’d be… super,” Severus said absently. Lily cocked her head and looked closely at Severus. “Are you okay?” Severus did his best to recover from what had just happened to him. “Yes.. yes I’m fine.. just anxious to get started. We’ve got three chapters to cover tonight.” Lily thought about pursuing the matter further, but simply nodded. “Are you going to tell me who you’ve decided to ask?” “Dina Shacklebolt,” Severus said. Not coincidentally, Dina had just appeared at the end of the corridor. Lily’s smile faltered. “Oh Severus.. I’m sorry, but I think Remus already asked her.. and she said yes.” “Oh,” said Severus, who had known this already. “Well I really don’t know who else to ask, so I guess I just won’t go.” Lily nodded. “Don’t give up yet. You’ve still got a few weeks to ask someone!” “Why are you showing me all of this?” asked Harry. “You’ve wanted to know since your fourth year why Dumbledore believed that my remorse over what happened to your parents was genuine. I am showing you why.”
“Remus told me that they didn’t get together until 7th year..” said Harry. “They didn’t. Not really. The Yule Ball was their only date that year, as far as I know. He still hadn’t matured enough in her eyes to start anything serious with him. Not that it mattered to me whether or not they were truly together…All that mattered was that I wasn’t going to the Ball with her. And after that night, I never got up the courage to ask… anything of her again.” Snape watched silently as Severus followed Lily into the library, the younger version slumped over like he had just been punched in the stomach. “Let us jump ahead a couple of years,” said Snape, and he twirled his wand again. Harry now found himself in the living room of a tiny run down house. Severus was sitting on the couch with his face in his hands, and Harry’s mother’s head was in the fireplace, weeping uncontrollably. “Severus!” she cried. “How can you do this?” “I… I’m sorry Lily..,” said Severus. “You’re my best friend Severus! You were the first invitation I sent out! How can you not be coming to my wedding!?” “I just… can’t. I just can’t Lily,” Severus said, barely above a whisper. “Maybe if.. maybe if the groom were anyone else…” “Don’t give me that!” she shouted, suddenly angry. “He’s changed! You know he’s changed! It’s you who refuses to change Severus Snape! Certainly if James Potter can grow up, so can you!” “I… “ But before Severus could say any more, Lily had disappeared from the fireplace with a pop. “Three more, and then we’re finished here,” said Snape. “Okay,” said Harry. He was not sure how much more of this he could take. Spinner’s End gave way to.. Spinner’s End, this time during the early morning. Someone was knocking at the door. Severus, yawning, trudged over to answer the door. It was Lily, and in her arms was an infant Harry. The real Harry gasped. “Hello stranger,” Lily said, and she smiled. “Long time, no see.” Severus smiled wearily. “Hello Lily. Come in, come in.”
Lily walked in and sat on the couch. “Tea?” asked Severus. “Thank you, but no,” said Lily. “I actually can’t stay very long. I just wanted to introduce you to my son. Severus, say hello to Harry.” Severus gazed down at the squirming baby in Lily’s arms. He tried to smile, but he couldn’t. “I had heard that Lily and James had had a son a few weeks before,” said Snape to Harry. “And my worst fear for their son was confirmed by this little visit.” “And that was?” asked Harry. “You see Harry, when a pure-blood marries a mu… muggle-born, their children will very rarely inherit any physical traits of the muggle-born parent. The pure magical blood will always carry the dominant traits. I could already tell that you would be a dead ringer for your father when you grew up. I knew then that if ever we were to meet when you got older, every time I saw you, it would be a constant reminder…” “Except for my eyes, of course,” said Harry suddenly. Snape shook his head. “No Harry. Look at your eyes as they are here.” Harry walked over and looked into the infant Harry’s eyes, and received one of the worst shocks of his life. They were most definitely his father’s eyes. “What the… what did you do Snape? You.. you modified this memory somehow.” “No. No I did not,” said Snape simply. “Then what…?” “That is for the final memory to answer,” said Snape, cutting him off. “Severus…,” began Lily. “Be honest with me. Is it true that… you’ve joined the Death Eaters?” Severus recoiled a little. “Where did you hear that?” he asked. “Mostly just rumors,” said Lily. “But.. when I heard it from an Auror, it became rather hard to ignore.” Severus stood up. “So what if I have, Lily?” he said. “It’s not as if it’s an illegal organization…” “Not yet,” said Lily. “Severus… some of the things I’ve heard.. the terrible things they’ve done...” “None of which the Ministry can prove!” said Severus. “We are a politically inclined organization, Lily, seeking merely to gain influence with the Ministry, just like every other politically inclined organization. The stories you hear are merely our political enemies trying to discredit us!”
Lily shook her head in disbelief. “You either really believe all of that, or you’ve become a terrific liar. I don’t know which is worse.” Severus sat down again, troubled. Lily stood up to leave. “Just promise me, Severus, that if it becomes too dangerous, that you’ll get out while you still can.” “Nobody leaves the Death Eaters,” Severus said coldly. “Political organization, hmm?” said Lily sadly. “Just like every other, with their no-leaving-or-punishment-ofdeath clauses.” She got to the door, then turned around again. “You’re welcome at the house any time, Severus. James said he would love to see you.” “I’m sure he did,” Severus said sarcastically. Lily nodded as if she’d been expecting this. “I’ll say it again, Severus. It’s you who refuses to change.” She gave him a small half-smile, closed the door, and left. Spinner’s End evaporated, and they now found themselves in a room that Harry knew very well. It was the room that he had killed Nagini in. Severus was kneeling on the floor in front of Lord Voldemort much as Pettigrew had done in Harry’s 4th year dreams. “Rise, Snape,” said Voldemort. Severus stood, and regarded the Dark Lord without fear. “I have summoned you because I thought you might like to know the progress I have made with the information you gave me. The information on the seer Trelawney’s alleged prophecy.” “Yes, my Lord?” “I have narrowed the child’s identity down to two possibilities,” said Voldemort. “The first is the son of the Aurors Longbottom.” “That was my thought as well, my Lord.” “The second is the son of two other Order members. The Potters.” Severus tensed at hearing this. He had come to the same conclusion, but he had hoped the Dark Lord would not. “The Potters, my Lord? Surely.. surely it would not be the son of the Potters. The Longbottom boy is a pureblood… while the Potter boy is..”
“A half-blood, just like me?” Severus tensed up even more, anticipating a curse. Voldemort chuckled softly. “And a half-blood, just like you Snape.” Severus, who had closed his eyes, opened them in surprise. Voldemort nodded. “Yes Snape, I know. I’ve known for some time now. And while it may matter to some of the others… I know Lucius would call for your immediate expulsion if he knew… I’ve decided it doesn’t matter to me. You’ve proven yourself more than worthy to be amongst us.” “Thank you, my Lord.” “So what of it then? Do we ignore the Potter boy simply because he is a half-blood? Or do we kill them both and remove any and all chance of the prophecy coming true?” “I… I suppose you’re right my Lord.” “I’m going to see to their destruction personally, Snape. This is too important to be trusted to anyone but myself.” “Of course, my Lord.” “And I’m going to start tonight.” Voldemort stood up and walked towards the doorway to the hall. “My Lord…,” said Severus hesitantly. “I wonder if.. maybe.. I could ask something of you. A favor, if you will.” Voldemort considered this, and nodded. “I think you’ve earned that right Snape. Though I’m not guaranteeing that I will grant your request.” Severus nodded. “When you… when you visit the Potters… are you going to just kill the boy?” “Are you asking if I am planning to kill his parents as well?” Severus nodded. “No doubt they will attempt to get in my way Severus, as parents are wont to do when their child is threatened. If they force me to, then yes, I will kill his parents as well. Why?” Severus hesitated. “If at all possible… please spare his mother.” Voldemort regarded Severus warily. “Why? Why do you care about the Potter woman, Snape?” “We were.. friends at school for a short time, my Lord,” Severus said. “We’ve since grown apart… but… I would not want her to come to any harm because of me..”
Voldemort watched Snape in silence for a few moments. “You were in love with her,” he said finally. Snape decided that a lie would be pointless here, and he nodded. “I… I still am, my Lord.” Voldemort nodded slowly. “Very well Snape. If I can avoid killing the Potter woman, I will.” “Thank you, my Lord.” “I know what you’re thinking,” said Snape. “Do you?” asked Harry “You’re wondering why I didn’t ask him to spare your father’s life as well.” “No,” said Harry. “I understand. He would have never believed you were sincere with that request. You had to ask for what you knew you could get, and hope for the best…” Snape looked over at Harry. “I’m impressed, Potter. Ready for the finale?” Harry nodded. The Riddle Mansion gave way to the smoking wreck of the Potter home in Godric’s Hollow. In the distance, Harry could hear sirens. “Snape,” said Harry nervously. “You were here? That night?” “Afterwards, yes,” said Snape. “This memory is short, so pay attention.” Severus searched through the remains of the Potter home, tears streaming down his face. He was following the sound of Harry crying. Severus arrived at what was left of Harry’s room and found Lily sprawled out on the floor, her lifeless eyes staring into the sky. He began to sob uncontrollably. He knelt beside her to close her eyes.. and stopped. With his hand covering Lily’s eyes, he looked over to where her son Harry was still crying. “I.. I couldn’t save you,” Severus whispered. “But part of you will always live on. A part of you will live on… in your son.” Severus stood and reached into Harry’s crib. He placed Harry on to the floor next to his mother. Harry saw his mother and stopped crying immediately, and reached out to be held by her. When she did not respond, he began to cry again. “Part of you will live on…” Severus whispered again.
“Snape..” “Shh. Watch.” Severus put his hand over Lily’s eyes once again, and then put his other hand over Harry’s. He closed his eyes and uttered a brief whispered incantation. There was a brief white flash, and then… Severus took his hands off of Harry’s eyes. They had been replaced by Lily’s brilliant green almond shaped eyes. Severus turned his attention to Lily, whose eyes had been replaced by Harry’s. It was then that Severus noticed Harry’s scar. He was about to examine it more closely when he heard a voice from outside. “Oi! Lily!? James!? Are yeh okay? Answer me!” Hagrid, thought Severus. He stood and disapparated, and the memory dissolved around them. “When people tell you that you have your mother’s eyes Potter, they never know how right they are.” Harry looked at Snape, who was trying to smile and failing miserably. Harry thought that he should feel weird or disgusted by Snape's revelation, but instead he actually felt oddly comforted. “Dumbledore knew. He knew that you were in love with my mother.” Snape nodded. “He knew.. and so he knew that you were truly sorry for revealing the prophecy to Voldemort.” Snape nodded again. “Let’s get out of here Potter,” said Snape, wiping away a few stray tears. “This thing is even less fun to be in when there’s nothing happening in it.” They jumped out of the Pensieve, and landed back at the ruins. “I went to Dumbledore with everything I knew about the Death Eaters that very night,” said Snape. “I swear to you that I’ve been a loyal Order member ever since.” “There’s one thing that still doesn’t make sense, though,” said Harry. “If you’ve remained a loyal Order member, then why did you kill Dumbledore?” Snape shook his head in annoyance. “He ordered me to, Potter,” Snape said. “Just as he ordered you to force feed him that green potion, he ordered me to kill him.” Harry, confused, motioned that Snape should continue. “I had unwittingly taken an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy. The first two parts of the vow were to watch over Draco Malfoy and to make sure no harm came to him, two things that I had no trouble agreeing to. But then she asked that, should Draco fail in a task that had been set before him by the Dark Lord, that I would take on this task myself. That task was the murder of Albus Dumbledore.”
“I was beyond the point of no return. If I had backed out at that point, Bellatrix’s suspicions about my true loyalties may just as well have been confirmed. My only hope was to tell Dumbledore what I had agreed to and hope he could think of a way out of it. His response was to order me to fulfill the vow. If nothing else, to spare Draco’s soul. Dumbledore sacrificed his life to secure my place in the Death Eaters and to spare Draco the horror of committing murder.” Harry looked at the ground, processing everything that he had seen and heard that night. Snape regarded him impatiently. “Are you finally satisfied Potter? Can you finally accept that Dumbledore knew what he was doing in trusting me?” Harry nodded slowly. “I’m just one person though… Professor Snape. You still have the rest of the world to convince.” “All in good time, all in good time. Now I must get back, so if you will please show me the two Horcruxes.” Harry brought them out from his coat pockets. Snape lit his wand and observed both closely. “Hmm.. excellent. Thank you Potter.” In a night full of surprises, the final one came in the form of Snape holding out his hand to Harry. Harry hesitated, then he shook it. “Good night…. Harry. And good luck.”
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