Title: Felix Felicis
Author: Izzy Hound
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Action Adventure, Het, Menage or More, Pre-Relationship, Romance, Slash
Relationship(s): Harry Potter/Hermione Granger Pre-relationship Harry Potter/Hermione Granger/Draco Malfoy
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Canon level violence and attitudes. Swearing.
Author Notes: Thank you Daisy May for helping me wrangle the plot, all the remaining mistakes are mine. Thank you Keira Marcos for letting me use the Dverger and a huge thank you to my artist CoCo for the lovely art.
Beta: Daisy May
Word Count: 62,000
Summary: Harry decided if one day he got bored enough to write his memoirs, he was going to call it “The lion, the wizard and the wardrobe that helped save wizarding Britain” and then dedicate the whole book to his house-elves. But first, they had to finish saving the country.
They sat in stunned silence staring at the box in Dobby’s hand. The saying when it rained it poured, popped into Harry’s mind.
“Dobby be putting it with the other,” he declared and walked over to the table. The three of them sat watching.
“Well, there’s that,” Hermione said rather shakily. “Merlin what a night.”
“Dobby,” Harry called, and the little elf came running over to them. “Err where was it?”
“It be with Kreacher he be hiding it in his hidey-hole,” Dobby looked nervous and wrung his hands in the edge of his pillowcase. Dobby be knowing you not be wanting it but books. But Dobby be thinking that maybe not leaving it to be nicked by sticky fingers is a good idea.”
“Great one,” Harry agreed. “Do you know how Kreacher came to have it or did you just take it? Do we have to prepare for Kreacher to try and take it back?”
“Kreacher not be coming his magic too sick to get through wards. Nasty necklace make him sick. He be taking it from a cave on orders of Master Regulus he be saying. Master Regulus be trying to take it from cave that Dark Git be hiding it in. Kreacher got lended to Dark Git but he be ordered back so he not be dying like Dark Git be wanting. Master Regulus was right miffed and took it but died. Kreacher try to destroy it but that be beyond elf magic.”
Well, Harry supposed that answered that. Sirius would have been so pleased to have known that his brother had in the end rejected Voldemort and fought on the same side of him. But it was a shame as well that his bravery was never known.
I many ways Regulus sounded a lot like Draco trapped into a role he may not have wanted but wanting to live more than anything. But that’s how the war had been fought using the young and vulnerable and how this one was shaping up to be the same.
“Great, but why didn’t Kreacher say anything?” Harry asked, wanting to know why the elf who knew they were fighting to take down the man responsible for his beloved master’s death had never spoken up.
“He be forbidden to be saying so that the Black family who be liking the Dark Git can’t be told and make the Dark Git suspicious. But you all be related and Kreacher not be liking you or the new magics peoples, so he be stuck, and the nasty necklace be telling him to be quiet. Has a nasty hissy voice. You’s be promising Dobby you not be going near.”
Harry and the others promised. He knew that the Diary had been able to communicate but apparently the necklace could too. But Dobby hadn’t warned them about the diadem. Did that mean it had less soul in it so less power?
“So, we just leave it there till Thursday I guess,” Hermione said looking over at the table with two inconspicuous boxes on. Merlin, they’re like buses,” She muttered making Harry laugh but only getting a confused look from Malfoy.
“Right Dobby did you get any books, not that we’re mad about the Horcrux, definitely better to get that?” Hermione reassured the elf.
“I can be going and getting them now.”
“Only if you can, don’t rush. Maybe you want to heal up a bit first,” She suggested but Dobby popped away without answering.
“So, according to our calculations, verified by memories, only two more Horcruxes to find, and we’re on the way to being Dark Lordless once more,” Malfoy said looking rather pleased. “That said I’m willing to bet a Hufflepuff item is one of them.”
“What items are there? I know she had a cup and a hair clasp,” Hermione said but Harry shook his head he knew what it was.
“Dumbledore showed me a memory of a lady, Hepzibah something and she had the cup before she was murdered.”
“You think she was the murder needed to make it?” Hermione asked before looking disgusted. “Merlin, that’s a morbid question forget I asked.”
“I mean probably it would be efficient,” Malfoy replied, ignoring Hermione’s last comment. But I think we’re getting distracted from our current problem of the Hallows. Horcruxes next week and the cabinet the week after,” he suggested in a rather joking manner.
“Right sorry, just so much going on right now,” Hermione said running a hand through her looking frazzled. “You know I get the teachers set so much work to well, teach us and keep us out of trouble but they’re really not factoring in what’s going on right now such as a war.”
Harry smothered a laugh he’d never heard Hermione complain about too much work in such a way before even during third year it had been a her problem not a workload problem.
“Well, I propose we let it slip or at least I will. It won’t matter if I’m dead. So, I’ll be up here whenever possible, which has the added benefit of not breaking routine and making parties, we don’t want involved suspicious.” Harry could tell Hermione was thinking of starting a lecture before thinking better of it.
Winky popped in and looked over at the table. “That elf! He gone and find a bit of Dark Git. Did his mum not be telling him you gift flowers not fragments of soul,” She muttered and turned back to them. “Don’t you be worrying Winky be watching and maybe teaching Dobby manners, is he here?”
“No, he’s at the Black house gathering the books he’s been a while, oh I do hope he wasn’t hiding how injured he was,” Hermione looked worried as she tried to reassure Winky.
“House elf be hardy. You’s not to be worrying,” Winky was proved right when a few minutes later Dobby reappeared with three trunks. He already was looking better than he had before he’d left.
“Dobby be sorry he be so long and worrying you. But Dobby be checking on Kreature and he be not a well elf, so Dobby be taking him to elf healers to be making him better. Dobby very sorry if he overstepped,” His ears were drooped, and he looked moments away from bursting into tears.
“That fine Harry reassured. “He’s my elf too and I’d never ask you to compromise your values or not offer help to one of your kind if you felt they needed it. Do I need to pay? How do I sort this out?”
“You be needing to pay when he be healed or die. The bank be knowing how to pay all you be having to do is sign a bit of paper. But Dobby thinks you should always read before you sign things.”
“He’s right on both counts the bank will help you but they’ll also not, they have issues with wizards for good reason, but they won’t fuck over the elves,” Malfoy said.
“Believe me after fourth year I’m incredibly leery of contacts.”
“Right before we get distracted again Dobby, we have another task for you but only if you’re up to it,” Dobby perked up and shuffled forward eagerly.
“Dobby can do it.”
“You don’t know what we’re asking yet,” Harry pointed out.
“Dobby be knowing Master Harry Potter be a good man and not be asking too much of Dobby. Sometimes Dobby be thinking his master not be asking enough but he be new, and he be learning. Dobby and Winky have a plan.”
“Right,” Harry shared a slightly concerned look with Hermione. “Dobby, could you spy on Dumbledore? We need to know where he puts his wand and what kind of monitoring devices he has. We need to know a routine, but just when he’s in the castle please don’t follow him elsewhere,” Harry added when he remembered that the headmaster was Horcrux hunting and they weren’t going to be in nice safe places.
“Dobby can be doing that,” He turned to Hermione. “Dobby be knowing his ABC’s can he be having a noteybook.”
Looking amused Hermione fished one out along with a pencil. “You may if you promise to look after yourself and get enough rest and things to eat and drink.”
“Deal,’ Dobby took the book from her, before popping off presumably to take up surveillance.
“Are you okay Winky?”
“Yes, Winky be sorting the books if she be needing something to do. It be getting late and you be’s having lessons in the morning it be time for you to go beddy-byes,” She declared hand on her hips and stern frown.
They got up without protest even Malfoy and headed to the door. “Oh, stop looking at me like that Potter she’s a former nanny elf, you learn not to argue with them early in life,” he defended.
“Nanny elf?” Hermione asked.
“Yeah, they look after the children while their mothers and fathers do grown up things. Though once a nanny elf always a nanny elf,” He shrugged and walked away.
“You know he’s not what I expected, I almost regret punching him.”
“Well no he’d earned it but he’s funny and strangely sympathetic. But Merlin are our elves bossy, they’ll be running our lives before we know it.”
“I’m slightly afraid, who knows what they’re planning. Do you think they’re romancing each other?”
“Possibly I don’t know that much about courtship, human or elf,” She blushed. “Right under the cloak no need for the portraits to get suspicious about what you’re doing here.”
“Not worried about yourself?”
“Nope because I have a school project with Malfoy and Merlin knows they’re never going to believe that a war would get in the way of my hunt for perfect Os. Come on I’ll escort you back and even find out if there’s any more Ginny drama for you to avoid.”
Monday passed in a haze of classes and careful reading in the room of requirements that evening even with the books from the Black library it was slow going. Especially as they didn’t offer up much hope for stealing the wand. The books had no spells that could help a theft to occur although plenty of nasty hexes to stop anybody touching their possessions. It appeared the Blacks were more kill you enemy and claim their property as wergild kind of people rather than the break-in and steal it.
Tuesday was less fun as they had Quidditch practice and Ginny was still in a snit with Dean but also utterly furious with Harry and wouldn’t listen to a word he said. Apparently, she didn’t take rejection well.
Whatever minor crush he’d had on her was gone and she was fast becoming that annoying teammate who wouldn’t pull her weight. Dean kept giving her confused looks as if he couldn’t understand what he’d seen in her.
Harry was still convinced that he should make her play seeker in the final game just so they had a chance with the quaffle. Maybe he’d ask Hooch if swapping positions was legal. Because honestly, it was a pretty solid play that nobody would see coming.
Pleased enough with his plans for quidditch and caught up again on his homework Harry was still able to grab an hour in the Room of Requirements where he was met with a motivational timetable taped up on the vanishing cabinets door.
“Winky did it,” Hermione said without looking up from where she was scrawling out runic arrays. We get an hour of no Hallow research a day at the moment. We’re trying to map the Horcruxes magical signatures.”
“Right well don’t let me interrupt,” Harry said as he settled down, a cup of tea appeared at his elbow. He grabbed the next book, a guide to potions and poisons.
By Wednesday Harry was struggling to hold on to his optimism they needed a plan and they needed it today. Well honestly, they needed it a few days ago but this was their last chance, midnight Thursday or else Malfoy would die.
Malfoy was a wreck in DADA so much so that Snape held him back afterwards. Crabbe and Goyle lingered at the door so Harry and Hermione shook off Ron who was finally remembering they existed as he shrugged off the post make up lust.
Winky was ready and waiting with the tea and even had biscuits ready by the time they arrived. They got to work but Harry couldn’t focus waiting for Malfoy to turn up. Eventually, after dinner which Harry and Hermione had in the room, he turned up.
“You know people are impressed by the amount of time you spend making out in broom closets,” he said by way of greeting. “I’ve heard more about your supposed prowess than I ever wanted to.”
“So, I take we weren’t missed?” Harry said rather than think of Hermione in such a way not when they weren’t dating in truth.
“Missed, but plausibly. The relationship is doing wonders for you both socially. I’ll miss watching it play out.”
“No, we’re not doing this, we’re not going to mourn you or give up, we have nearly thirty hours, that’s plenty of time. I mean we’ve pulled off miracles with much less information,” Hermione rebuked. “Now eat a biscuit Dobby will be here soon.”
Dobby turned up after longer than they expected but he seemed excited with the information he had. He pulled up a small stool and joined their circle of chairs, notebook on his lap.
“Dobby has been watching and old Dumbles he be spending a lot of time staring at nothing he be muttering to himself saying sorry to peoples. They mostly be dead, so he not be getting replies unless he be using the resurrecting stone. He be picking it up a few times, but Dobby not be seeing any ghosties. But mostly he be looking at maps and tugging his beard.”
“So, he’s not using the stone, that’s something, it should come along quietly enough for us then,” Draco mused, he’d been the one who offered to take the stone seeing as he’d not lost anybody close enough to tempt him into using it.
“He be sitting at his desk eating a bowl of lemon drops every day and be drinking tea, but not eating big foods. Dobby be watching he be shaky and very sleepy he, fall asleep…” Dobby flicked to the back of the notebook where Harry could see a tally chart. “Seven times at the desk with his face in the books.”
“So, the curse is taking a greater toll than he’s letting on,” Draco said. “Is he taking anything for it?”
“He be taking a potion at eight every day. Sometimes it be making him sleepy at his desk other times sleepy in bed.”
“Dobby,” Harry interrupted, suddenly recalling something. “Does he use his wand for little things like adding sugar to his tea? He used his wand to uncork the vial,” he explained to the others.
“If he’s so shaky from the withered arm, that makes sense,” Hermione pointed out.
“Yes, he be using the wand and he be putting it on his desk to pick up when needed, sometimes he be using it to turn pages or stir his tea. Dobby be thinking this is not what the Death wand be wanting to do.”
“Yeah, you’re not wrong,” Harry agreed.” All that power and he’s using it as a spoon.”
“But that means we can get it. Harry all you need to do is go up there and take the wand nip down to the doorway let Hermione take it from you in a duel and run back for the stone before we head down to the chamber,’ Draco said looking excited.
“We just have to ensure he’s asleep at the desk. Is there anything we can slip him that would knock him out but not kill him? Not that I don’t think he should die but his death would probably alert somebody and the whole place would be crawling with people and we’d miss our chance. Plus, we need him alive for a bit longer. We have Horcruxes to deal with and he may be of unwitting assistance.”
I think we can go for a low-grade potion he won’t need much to push him over the edge. Factoring in the complexity of the potions he’s on I think a medical sleeping potion would do it. They’re designed to be highly unreactive to other potions so they can be mixed but also quick acting,” Malfoy said looking at Hermione. Harry’s competency with potions had increased thanks to the half-blood prince giving him a confidence boost but not enough to join the discussion.
“Mhh, they taste slightly bitter, but could we lace the lemon drops, he wouldn’t be as likely to notice. Dobby, how much of the bowl does he through or do you think you could add a few drops to some while he’s there?”
“He be very busy when reading so Dobby can do so carefully, he put it on a few and take them away when done so he not be falling asleep all day and be getting suspicious.”
“Good that takes care of that so all we need is the potion itself. I think I should brew, I’ve done so before, but I get that you might not trust me.”
“Malfoy… Draco. You’ve got the most at stake. I trust you not to blow it by killing him,” Harry said.
“First names Potter?” Draco asked holding his hand out to shake with a wry smirk.
“Well, we did die together and with everything, I think we’re allies at least, so yeah if you want,” Harry said, taking the offered hand and shaking.
“Thank you, Harry. Hermione?”
“Yes, I mean if you don’t mind. Granger isn’t the greatest surname. And if we slip up and anybody asks it’s because of the runes project. We were ordered to be civil.”
“Right,” Draco flopped back in his chair looking utterly undignified but relieved a smile was playing on his lips. “You know I never saw this happening in September, I was so fucking worried and now I’m plotting the Dark Lords downfall and actually getting somewhere.”
“None of us saw this coming but, I think we’ve made more progress in less than a week than anybody else in a year and isn’t that damning. So, let’s not lose focus and plan for tomorrow. Who, when and where?” Harry asked.
Winky had turned up and had her flip chart paper ready to start drawing out their timetable. They spent a few hours going over details, but in the end, they admitted they all needed sleep or else things weren’t going to get any easier.
Thursday dawned bright, an auspicious omen if you were into that sort of thing. Harry carefully sorted through his potion supplies to grab the extra ingredients for Draco. They were showing an abundance of caution. Draco had never messed up the potion before but if he did today it would be disastrous. Nerves could make or break things.
Putting what he needed in his bag Harry raced down to the Common room only to find Hermione hadn’t turned up yet. He paced in front of the window watching the owls fly to either the Great Hall or back to roost.
“Hey.” A hand slipped into his and Harry smiled at Hermione. “We’ve got this. Now breakfast, we’ve got a long night ahead of us,” she whispered.
If he’d been asked what was going on in his lesson that day Harry couldn’t have told you. If he thought, he was distracted waiting for Snape to steal the stone in first year; it was nothing on them waiting to do the heist.
But make it through the day they did, what’s more, they managed to make it without attracting unwanted questions. Nobody stopped them to ask what was wrong. If anything, they got indulgent smiles. Apparently, him being in a happy relationship made other people happy, go figure.
His relationship with Hermione was another thing, were they going to have to break up after tonight when they were no longer needing its cover. Once magic settled it rarely unsettled again. Or would that be suspicious, should they stay together for the Horcrux hunt? Or forever, Harry shook his head to dislodge the thought. They’d talk about it when things calmed down. Talking was important.
Dobby had found Draco a nice potion set in the room, so they decided to go for that one rather than drag all the equipment up from the dungeons. Crabbe and Goyle had been sent away for the night.
“Is the brewing going okay?” Harry asked, he’d handed his ingredients to Hermione who got them to Draco during class.
“Yeah, I mean I’ve made two batches, and both are passing the medical-grade check when I do the spell but can one of you check as who knows if I’m making the spell biased.”
“They look great, and you can’t make that spell bias, it’ll be fine,” soothed Hermione as she walked over to the cauldrons and started to cast the spell to reassure Draco. The results on both batches were the same, it was medical-grade.
“We can use either one then. Great Dobby, did you find a potions dropper anywhere?” Harry asked, turning towards the elves who were busy in the corner. Occasionally a clink could be heard.
“Dobby be finding lots and some even be working. I be using this one.” He held up an ornate dropper with gold filigree around the glass. It was rather ostentatious but if Dobby said it worked it would do.
“Right come and fill it up and give it a practice first you need three drops per lemon sherbet,” Draco said. A few lemon sherbets had been liberated from the office and the dose to sweet to patient ratio had been calculated.
As Dobby and Draco practised dispensing potion Harry wandered over to Winky who was still busy in the corner. “What you got?” He asked, trying not to sound accusing.
“Winky be thinking this be all getting sorted for we having to be killing nasty soul bits. Mr Potter be doing it with fang. But fangs is not good and safe so Winky be finding magic blades that can be taking basilisk venom. When you be in your meeting with Death Winky be making nice with dead snakey and making blades better.”
Harry blinked, it made sense. The ring hadn’t been taken out with a fang but had a blade from the marks left on it. “Would Gryffindor’s Sword take on basilisk venom?”
“Oh, yes that be working. But swords be very big, and you all be needing one so you’s be having knives. I found seven, I be checking them to see if they be surviving though.”
“That’s brilliant,” Hermione said from behind him. “But make sure that you and Dobby have one each because honestly, you’re doing better at finding the Horcruxes than we are.”
Winky gave Hermione a delighted smile. “I be doing so but I must be sharpening them all now.” Taking that as a dismissal they wandered over to the armchairs.
“You know it’s slightly terrifying how efficient elves are, I mean how can so many wizards be useless when they have the elves helping them?”
“Probably because they don’t work with the elves but let them do the work and reap the benefit so that when they have to do something they flounder,” Hermione replied. “I’ve been thinking about it though how easily they move through wards is rather scary if it were misused.”
“Dobby is an unusually powerful elf; most couldn’t do what he can, Father was furious that he was no longer in the service of the family. But I’m not, he deserves better than being Father’s lacky. What was being asked of him would stress his magic, elves have moral codes, probably to deal with the fact that we don’t.” Draco had left the potions area to join them. “While with the right inducements most could make it through wards, many don’t even try. The Hogwarts wards can let them through as Dobby proved more than once but it takes a lot out of them. Most places have filters if you like that let bound elves through. But elves are polite and don’t like to intrude so it’s not a major issue most of the time.”
“Right so scary threat when they want to be but mostly content to let it go, that’s good to know I’m going to sleep better, truly I am,” Harry said sarcastically. “Especially as Winky’s playing with knives. She’s got a whole load of knives ready to infuse with basilisk venom tonight,” Harry said, catching Draco up with what was going on.
“Good, I think the chambers likely warded against elf magic, so they’ll have to come in with us. Once they’ve been to a place they can if strong enough return even with wards in place. So, they’ll have to follow us. One journey is better than several or else the headmaster will get suspicious. I’ve packed bags for us all. They have a broom in so we can fly out again after we’re done. They also have a change of clothes in case it’s as slimy as you recall down there. I threw in a few potions, basic ones like pepper up as it could be a long night.” Draco was pointing to three leather satchels that were lined up in front of the wardrobe.
“Brilliant, we can put the Hallows in them too, less time holding them is for the best. Harry has the map. Which you or I will keep hold of while Harry’s up in the office, under the cloak so the portraits can’t give him away.”
So, we’re ready,” Harry said feeling relieved. “We just have to wait for the next few hours and then Dobby can go drug the sweets.”
“What shall we do to pass the time, because honestly, I don’t think I can research I’m too keyed up,” Hermione admitted, giving the books a disgruntled look.
“You be sitting there,” Winky announced. “And eating, you’s be having a long night.” She headed off out of sight before returning with a large well-decorated cake.
“Winky where did you get that?” Hermione looked slightly shocked as she questioned her elf.
“I made it; I be telling the castle elves I need to be baking my mistress a happy anniversary cake.”
“Oh, that’s great,” Harry said, not sounding sure if it was great it didn’t help that Draco was muffling his laughter to the right of him.
“It not just be an anniversary cake. But Winky not be saying it’s a yay we’re doing a heist and dealing with Death cake. They might be getting suspicious.”
“Good point,” Harry said, feeling scolded but having to bite back a smile. “It looks lovely.”
“It be lovely, and you be all eating a nice big slice.” She used one of the blades she’d been sharpening earlier. Harry didn’t think it was a threat, but they all ate their cake without further comment. Draco had assured them that both elves would settle once the bond did and they no longer were worried about fading. But for now, it was best to give them their security by indulging them. Or maybe Draco enjoyed watching the elves boss them around.
They spent the evening chatting, talking about their childhoods, about magic and places they had been. Dobby popped away for a while before reporting back, he’d done his part and was off to keep watch.
The relaxed atmosphere became slightly more intense as they waited for word, so much hinged on Dumbledore falling asleep at the desk. Harry was tempted to have a drop of liquid luck, but he held off.
“Old Dumbles be sleeping at the desk and the Death wand be on the desk. Dobby be not wanting to be holding it, his magic be saying no in big letters,” Dobby reported as soon as he appeared bouncing in excited anticipation.
It was showtime, they grabbed the satchels Draco had made and headed across the school towards the headmaster’s office. Hermione and Draco were under the cloak checking the map as they went, they avoided being seen together by people or portraits.
Harry split off from the other two and doubled back so that it looked like he was coming from the library. They wanted it to seem believable, so he ran a shaking hand through his hair and let some of his nervous anticipation show. He reached the corridor leading to the headmaster’s office which was thankfully portrait free.
“Gummy bears,” he said trusting the other two were nearby, he felt the wards test him before letting him through. They had theorised that Dumbledore gave him a blanket permission to enter, but probably not other people and they may trigger the wards by trying to pass through even with the password.
Harry slipped up the stairs as quietly as he could and knocked softly before he opened the door, the portraits on the wall stirred but the headmaster didn’t. “Sir,” he called out quietly but wanting to be believable. He had his bag open as if he was stuffing something away as he came in. Instead, he pulled out a disillusioned cushion
“Oh, well I guess it can wait,” Harry said, allowing for the benefit of the portraits before backing away.
He dropped the disillusioned cushion on the floor as he went past the door. He grabbed the handle and pulled it closed till it hit the cushion and bounced slightly open, but Harry was already out of sight.
He headed down the stairs and sat just away from the base; as long as he didn’t cross the ward line he would only be recorded entering and leaving once. They figured he would still be treated with a degree of suspicion but when he kept using his wand it would throw things off, the death stick didn’t play understudy.
“Harry?” Hermione hissed and the gargoyle moved aside as he stuck his foot out near it.
“Hey, first part is a go, can you lob me the cloak?” The cloak sailed through the air and landed just within reach.
“Sorry,” Hermione whispered back.
“It’s fine, I’ve got it, how are things out there?”
“Great, Draco’s keeping watch, but most people don’t use this corridor and therefore prefect patrols don’t pass through.”
“Give it a bit of time, it’s only ten and he should be asleep till the early hours of the morning,” Draco reminded them. Harry settled in on the step.
They sat in silence, the bell struck ten and then the half-hour. Harry got up; it was time to get a move on. He pulled the cloak around him and slipped back up, the door was open, thanks to the cushion and the former headmasters had settled back to sleep undisturbed by opening doors.
He headed over to the desk. He had to get the stone first. Thankfully he knew where it had been kept and Dobby confirmed that Dumbledore had opened the draw a few times and stared at it.
Dobby had promised that he could deal with any wards on the desk, but he hadn’t sensed any. Harry couldn’t sense anything either. So, holding his breath reached out and pulled the draw ajar. Nothing happened. It was incredibly anticlimactic even if a huge relief.
He didn’t know which theory was right, that the desk couldn’t be warded as it belonged to all headmasters, or if it was a sign of Dumbledore’s illness. He also decided it wasn’t the time or place to speculate so instead he carefully pulled the draw open further.
He pulled out the ring. They were hoping to put the gold mount back later but that was of less importance than getting it. Harry pushed the drawer shut and backed carefully away from the desk; Fawkes stirred as he walked past but settled back with a ruffle of feathers.
Remembering to step over the cushion he made it down to the base of the stairs. He bent down and rolled the ring across the floor until it was past the ward line. Draco bent down to pick it up, putting it straight into his bag with a look of utter relief.
Draco had been shocked when they said he’d get the ring first. Harry hadn’t realised why until the other boy pointed out that once he had the ring he could run off. But Harry knew he wouldn’t, mainly because he was just as invested in taking down Riddle. But the show of trust meant something to him.
Heading up the stairs once more Harry slipped over to the desk again. Rather than walk around it and risk knocking the headmaster Harry leant over and picked up the wand. It vibrated and he almost dropped it in shock. He felt a prickle in his magic and then the wand went still in his hand. His holly wand which had always felt so right no longer did.
Slightly disturbed by the magic in the wand Harry headed down grabbing the cushion as he went and down into the corridor below.
“It’s a strange wand that forces dominance over your current one, Hemione if you change your mind it’s not a problem.”
“It’s fine, hold out your wand arm.” Harry obliged her gingerly holding the wand between two fingers. “Expelliarmus.”
Normally a wand would fly out of your hold, but the elder wand grudgingly thought about it before being drawn over to Hermione landing with the hilt ready to be caught. It was a very unnatural wand; one Harry could wait to return to its maker.
“Oh, Merlin, that is not nice. Why would anybody think having this wand was a good idea?” Hermione gasped as she looked at the wand in her hand. “It’s the most powerful but grudgingly so thing I’ve ever held,” She dropped it into her bag as quickly as she could.
“It’s been misused for centuries,” Draco pointed out. “I think I would be similarly unhappy. But don’t worry it won’t be with you much longer.”
The three of them each carrying a Hallow headed away from the office, Draco and Hermione were under the cloak, but Harry kept a hand on it just in case. Having the three Hallows together was courting a disaster, and he was beginning to wonder if he’d used up all of his good luck with how easily things had gone.
The bell struck eleven when they made it into the bathroom on the third floor. They had an hour to make it into the Chamber. Dobby and Winky each carrying a satchel were waiting for them by the sink Harry had described.
“Nothing to be worried about in the Dumbles office,” Dobby reported. At least they weren’t being hunted down.
“Well done,” Harry said as he walked over to the sink looking for the little snake before hissing “Open.” The wall started to fall away revealing the entrance. He glanced over at the other two, “You okay?”
“Yeah, just thinking about being petrified, Merlin that’s a big hole, I thought I was exaggerating the size of the eye I saw in the reflection but now I’m not so sure.”
“Mostly I’m focusing on how dorky you look trying to speak to snakes opposed to Him and how sinister he makes the whole thing,” Draco said. He cast Lumos and stared down the hole. “I assume we slide down?”
“Yeah, that’s what we did, there may be stairs but tonight’s not the night to fuck around trying to find out.”
“I agree,” and then in a frankly Gryffindor move Draco climbed in and slid down the hole. Winky and Dobby followed in quick succession.
“You next Hermione, I’ll try and close it behind us, there’s a snake carved in the wall so I reckon I can open it from inside. We don’t want any unexpected guests when we’re down there.”
Taking a deep breath Hermione walked forward. “Merlin this is awkward, give me a hand.” Harry helped her get into position and then watched her slide into the darkness. Climbing into the lip of the tunnel Harry turned to the snake and hissed “close.”
He was surrounded by darkness, the wall behind his back felt solid when he reached back towards it. Relieved he pushed off and slid down the tunnel landing with a crunch on the old bones at the bottom.
Draco and Hermione stood a few steps away Draco holding his wand up casting light down the tunnel where Winky and Dobby were moving the fallen stones. Getting up Harry moved towards the other two.
“Yeah, we checked, and the ring didn’t fall out neither did the wand, so we’re all set. Dobby and Winky reckon they’ll clear the way in about twenty minutes to half an hour, so we’ll make our deadline.”
“I mean theoretically we’re in the chamber, with three Hallows. I don’t want to piss off Death, but I doubt they’re going to quibble,” Harry said looking around. He hadn’t done much of that the first time.
“But let’s aim to get into the main chamber,” Hermione said. Also looking around. “Does it have a similar ambience?”
“Fewer skeletons. More dramatic architecture, you know columns and giant statues. It wasn’t cosy by any leap of the imagination. A bit like a gothic cathedral. I wasn’t paying that much attention, and had my eyes closed for most of it.”
“Good point. So, be prepared for anything?” Draco summed up. “I think they’re nearly there. Look, they’ve got a hole and working at it from both sides now.”
Draco was right Dobby had climbed through and was now out of sight. “Hang on,” Hermione reached into her bag and pulled out a lantern. “Draco and I should have remembered sooner. You have one too Harry we all do.”
Harry fished his lantern out; it was a different design to hers and it took a moment to figure out how to turn it on. “You know when this is all sorted, we really need to go through that room. It’s full of a lot of rubbish but more than a few treasures to make the effort worthwhile.”
“Let’s get through this first,” Draco said, lowering his wand and handing his lantern over to Winky who in turn passed it to Dobby. With light glowing from both sides, Harry could see that the hole was rapidly increasing in size.
That’ll do,” he said when the hole was about the same size as the cupboard door under the stairs was. “We’ll fit through.”
Harry headed to the hole and carefully crawled through. He held out his hand and helped Hermione and then Draco through before Winky hopped over with the other two lanterns.
“This way,” he said, taking one of the lanterns from her before following the tunnel into the darkness.
They passed a few smaller side passageways as they went but Harry couldn’t remember them, so he ignored them for the time being. One day they’d have to explore the place and map where all the tunnels went. He grinned, look at him planning projects for the future that had nothing to do with Dark Lords. It had been a long time since he’d felt such optimism.
The chamber finally started to open out and the stonework changed looking neater and more deliberate. They were getting into the main hall of the Chamber. As they stepped into the space the same magic that had lit the wall sconces worked again. The whole chamber bathed in the soft light looked as he had left it, robes in a heap and a giant dead snake in the middle of the floor and everything.
“I thought that would have rotted away more than it has,” Harry muttered when he saw it. He’d known it was big but like Hermione, he was partially convinced his imagination had increased the size. But no, it was bloody huge.
“Merlin’s, fucking….” Draco trailed off. “That thing was running, sliding, whatever around the school and nobody bloody noticed. Bullshit.”
“You fought that. Oh Harry,” Hermione threw herself into his arms. “Don’t you ever do that again,” She said looking near tears accentuating each word with a tap against his chest with her fist.
“I don’t intend to,” Harry promised. I mean what was the likelihood that there was another one that size.
“Where you came closest to death, Merlin, that’s an understatement,” Draco muttered. “I mean the eyes and venom are enough, but you were a scrawny thing it could have squished you and not noticed.”
“Yeah,” Harry rubbed his arm where he’d been bitten. “That nearly happened a few times. But the fang was the worst.”
“Fang? The one you broke off with the sword?” Hermione asked
Harry gave her a confused look. “No, I mean it was my first time with a sword and the advice pointy end in the enemy isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when it’s got a magically reinforced hide. No, it bit me, the fang got stuck in my bone and then broke off, I guess the snake had a calcium deficiency or something from not eating right. I managed to stab up through the mouth when I was in it though and that killed it.”
Hermione and Draco were staring at him in horrified disbelief. “It bit you?” Hermione whispered and gave in to the tears.
“I mean you knew that didn’t you, I told you Fawkes cried for me.”
“I … I can’t speak for Granger, Potter, but I thought it was because you were exhausted and battered about, not that you had the most sodding, toxic venom known to mankind with only one immensely rare cure in you.”
Hermione was wiping at her eyes and trying to stop crying. “Merlin that stupid little girl. I’m going to have to fight not to punt her out the window. She nearly got you killed. She nearly got us all killed. I mean yes it was a Horcrux, but she should have known better she was educated enough and raised in the magical world she should have been suspicious. I mean Malfoy senior managed to resist writing in it.”
“Yeah, I’m so tempted to take a photo of this and send it to dear old dad saying was this really what you wanted to unleash? Was your petty Weasley vendetta worth letting that thing free? But honestly, I don’t want to know the answer because I can’t guarantee it wouldn’t make me sick.”
“Master Harry Potter sir,” Dobby interrupted.
“Yeah,” Harry said, focusing on the elf over the snake.
“Dobby be thinking if he be knowing that was the threat, he be doing, even more, to keep you from coming. But Dobby be sort of happy he failed because Master Harry Potter sir was a hero and killed the threat.”
“Thanks, Dobby but remember you promised no more saving me,” Harry said. He looked around and moved further into the room near the dead snake, the others followed. “There’s another room through the mouth of the statue. It’s where the snake came from. But I never actually went in there. So, I’m guessing this is where we meet Death.”
“It is.” They spun around and standing in the middle of the room was a hooded figure. Death had arrived.
“I should congratulate you,” Death said, drawing closer. Harry was pleased that they weren’t wearing Sirius’ face this time but instead taking their more traditional form of a hooded figure. “You have the three Hallows. But I thank you for the care you took in keeping them separate.”
“You’re welcome,” Harry said for the group when the other two failed to speak up.
“If I may have your payments,” Death said, holding out their hand, it was gloved so Harry couldn’t tell it was skeletal like the dementors. Maybe there wasn’t anything in the glove at all and it was merely a nod towards their sensibilities.
Draco stepped forward with the ring in his hand, he very carefully tipped it into Deaths waiting one. Death wrapped their fingers around it and when they opened it again it was gone, gold and all. A bit like the muggle vanishing act. “Thank you, your debt has been paid.”
Draco let out a huge sigh of relief, before stepping back, joining Harry and Hermione.
Hermione stepped forward then the wand in hand she passed it over hilt first to Death. Silently Death took it making no comment, the wand disappeared like the ring. Harry shared a worried glance with Draco did that mean it didn’t count because Hermione had it in her possession. They hadn’t counted on that; Death had wanted the Hallows but hadn’t said they needed to be presented by the person paying the debt.
Harry stepped forward then passing Hermione as she retreated and handed over the cloak. They hadn’t been intending to give it up too, but Harry wasn’t certain if the wand had been counted against his debt and he didn’t want to risk it.
“My three Hallows, I asked for one for each of you and yet I have a third. Do you ask for a boon?”
“Harry froze, that hadn’t been his intention, he was just trying to stay alive and now he may have pissed Death off. He heard sharp shocked, indrawn breaths from behind him.
“No, I ask nothing,” Harry said quickly.
“Hmm,” Death hummed, sounding considering rather than angry Harry thought or at least tried to convince himself. “Yet by taking the cloak am I in your debt mortal.”
Harry looked at the cloak it lay draped over Death’s arm, it hadn’t vanished like the others. But then again Harry didn’t think he could just reach over and take it back.
“I ask nothing of you.”
“I doubt that,” Death challenged.
“Honestly I don’t. I’m happy you have them back because I don’t think we, by we, I mean the magical world, can be trusted with them and not hurt ourselves,” Harry tried to explain.
“That is true, I shall take the stone and wand as payment for your lives. Then the cloak shall be taken too, and I shall be more cautious in my gift-giving in the future,” Death agreed.
Harry nodded. He’d wanted to keep the cloak, but it was technically Death’s, so he had no ground to argue. “Thank you,” he said hoping he didn’t sound too disappointed.
“However, before we part ways I have a second proposal for the three of you.”
Harry froze, did they want to make a second deal with Death the first one had been exhausting enough. He glanced back at the other two who were looking shocked. He beckoned them closer, Death had said for the three of them. Dobby and Winky crept closer but still kept
“I propose that you hunt down the Horcruxes of the man who was known as Tom Marvolo Riddle.” Harry couldn’t believe it; they were already doing that. What was Death getting at? Did Death know they wouldn’t be refused as they were already hunting them and pissing off Death would not make things easier, probably harder?
“Three have already entered my realm, four remain and the final soul piece within the homunculus. If you accept the task, I will give you all a way of achieving this end, if not I shall leave you to hunt on your own.”
So, Death did know what they were doing and was willing to help. That really was an offer they couldn’t turn down and for all, they knew Death was the power known not in the prophecy. After all, Riddle put a lot of effort into avoiding Death. Rather than tangle with the nuance of prophecy, they were either self-fulfilling or retrospectively obvious, Harry focused back on the conversation.
“What would the terms of the deal be?” Draco asked rather than outright agree like Harry had been about to do.
“You would be responsible for delivering all the Horcruxes to me by Midsummer’s day. I care not how they are destroyed or by whom as long as they are all gone. Even if they fall in an accident, I will take them. I wish not to let the one who defiled my Hallow live on.”
Death was apparently very pissed off with Riddle not only about the Horcruxes but the fact that he was so ignorant as to defile a gift from Death. Yeah, Harry didn’t envy Riddle his afterlife.
“If you fail to do so I shall withdraw my blessing and you shall be subject once more to the whims of Fate. Whatever the outcomes the boons I give you shall leave you at this time.”
“Do we get to know the boon beforehand?” Malfoy asked. Which was honestly a good question, the boons the Peverell brothers had been given had backfired in a spectacular case of be careful what you wish for.
“For Miss Granger, I shall grant her access to a book that is no more, the contents lost long ago, from that she may draw answers to aid your quest.” Oh, Merlin, they were calling it a quest, Harry thought slightly hysterically. “Mr Potter shall be loaned my cloak to wear once more.” Harry nodded his understanding. The cloak would help in a Horcrux hunt. “While you Mr Malfoy I shall take the dark mark from your arm. If you fail to reach the deadline it shall be yours to wear for all your time.”
“I understand,” Draco whispered.
“But Death can be merciful. So, if you give me the Horcruxes your bonded have carried here this night I shall break the leech the mark causes between the two of you. Even if you fail this shall not be revoked. But be aware that all who bear the mark unbroken will fall when their master does. I shall give you an hour to confer.” Between one heartbeat and the next Death was gone.
“Well then,” Draco said, running his hand through his hair. “Let’s confer. I mean my answer is we do it. We were going to do it anyway and be sheltered from Fate as we do so is probably the best thing for us.”
“It would negate the prophecy. Which removes some certainty from the outcome but honestly, I think we’ve been under Death’s blessing all week and it’s been stressful but not the worst that we’ve been through,” Harry agreed.
“Are you happy with knowing that you’re damning the Death Eaters with the mark?” Hermione asked them both but mainly Draco.
“Yeah, they made their choices and by the sound of it they’d never be free with the mark and most of them don’t want to be. But that said Death said fall not die and that’s a distinction that I’m sure they know well. So, they may not die just be lessened, probably magically if Riddle has been leeching magic. So, yeah, I can do it, they haven’t fought for me so why should I for them.”
For all his bluster Harry could see that the decision was costing Malfoy something. But Harry was also pretty certain pushing him about it wouldn’t help matters. “So, Midsummer’s day when is that?”
“The twenty-fourth of June. Same day as the third task, he was resurrected on that day so bringing about his destruction then is a nice bit of poetry.”
“Death didn’t specify a year, but I think we assume that it’s this one so that gives us at most a month and a bit to find two Horcruxes, which is possible, I think. Worse comes to the worse we unleash Dobby on the world he seems to be good at it.”
“What do you think, Dobby?” Harry asked.
“Dobby be thinking that the best deal we be getting. Death be honourable and Dark Git be getting deader. Dobby thinks that you should be taking it and Dobby be honoured to work on Death’s behalf.”
“What about you Winky?” Hermione asked her elf.
“Dobby be having some odd ideas, but this not be one. We be doing Death and magic a service.” She looked utterly serious as she spoke.
“We’re all committed then,” Harry checked. “Good. Did you too bring the Horcruxes down here?”
“Winky be thinking it a good idea? We not be killing them before an it might be getting messy. We bring them down so they could be stabbed by the venom knives.” Dobby explained. “We be keeping them separate one in each of the bags.”
“Nice plan,” Harry praised the elves. “Do you want to get the knives done now while we wait, that went quickly so we’ve got some time to kill?”
They carefully placed the Horcrux boxes out the way not wanting to damage their down payment and headed over to the snake. The fang that had hurt Harry was laying on the floor. He carefully moved it away with his foot.
“So, how do we do this?” he said looking at the giant maw, Merlin he nearly had been eaten. He was going to have nightmares about it again he was certain.
“Winky be thinking she lift the head and press the blades between the teeths. But the snake be too big. Winky be thinking if Mr Harry Potter would hold the blades to the teeth it be working just as well.”
“Me,” Harry asked. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“No, but you are immune to the venom now, so out of us all, you’re the best bet. You don’t have to do much, press it against the end of a fang and the venom should flood the blade. The condition of the corpse looks good enough for that. Otherwise, you have to stab a venom sack and that’s riskier and messier, especially with a short blade you might not reach it considering the size of the beast,” Draco said.
“Right, tap the teeth I can do that,’ Harry said, taking the first blade Winky offered him. He stepped forward and the others stepped back. He wasn’t offended, he’d have done the same.
“Angle the blade so the hilt is touching the tooth and the venom will run down the blade away from you,” Hermione said as he was raising the blade. Harry carefully arranged the blade against the tooth. Nothing happened.
“Push up,” Draco suggested. “Venom flows when biting so the tooth gets enough resistance to open the venom sacks or else, they’d be dribbling venom on anything and everything.”
Harry pushed up with the blade against the tooth and a sizzling hiss sounded and a smell a bit like melting tar hit his nose, he pulled the blade away quickly but carefully. The surface of the blade was bubbling and shimmering. He turned around to show the others.
“It be looking like it works put it, down,” Winky gestured at the floor and Harry carefully put it down. “You all be not touching this very sharp and ouchy,” She warned.
Taking the next blade Harry repeated the process. One of the blades melted through, apparently, the enchantment on the metal wasn’t as good but, in the end, they had six blades infused with the venom.
“We be putting them in sheaths when they’re dried,” Winky declared looking pleased. “We be getting one each and spare if you be losing it but Winky be thinking that a very bad idea though, so we be keeping them safe till needed.”
“Very true, we should probably entail them later so that we can recall them, also it makes them legacy items and protected from Ministry confiscation laws. They’re not something we want to be caught with,” Draco said looking at the pile of blades.
“Dobby be taking them to Black house, then be getting them when need as we not be having Horcruxes to destroy this week.”
They still had a bit of time to look around before Death returned so they carefully explored the room they were in not wanting to go too far away. “You know I thought we could come down here as it’s more secure, but it’s a lot less homey than the Room of Requirement and harder to get to,” Harry said as he peered up a side tunnel.
“I think there must be another way in because I doubt Slytherin came down the access tunnel. But neither you nor Riddle found it, but then did either of you look?” Draco asked.
“I mean I didn’t and the fact that snake always came out on the third floor and killed Myrtle there I don’t think so.”
“Hmm, if we knew another way in it would help but as it stands the room is better than the chamber the last thing, we want is Dumbledore thinking Harry’s gone dark and plotting away in the chamber,” Hermione muttered.
“Have you decided?” Harry startled not noticing Death was back standing where they had left from, although they had the cloak around their shoulders.
They drew together once more in the middle of the room. “We have and we’re willing to accept,” Harry said, speaking for the group.
“Very good,” Death sounded pleased. “Bring me the Horcruxes.”
“Dobby passed one box to Harry and Winky passed him the other he walked forward with them to Death. A few feet from Death the boxes floated out of his hands and the lids popped open. Harry took that as his cue to retreat.
The locket and diadem floated out of the boxes and Harry took a moment to appreciate the sight of them, the diadem was rather stunning, and the locket Harry was fairly certain something he had seen before in the House at Grimmauld Place. If Dumbledore asked why he dropped by, Harry was going to drop that hint.
The two floating pieces of jewellery started to glow before they suddenly let out an inhuman screech and a billowing smoky red form burst out of each one. The bigger one from the locket surged towards the smaller one but the light from the objects blocked them from reaching each other.
The light grew and the shrieking increased to a painful level, Harry brought up his hands to his ears to try and muffle the sound. The light then increased so Harry looked away but still with his eyes screwed shut he could still see light. Then it stopped suddenly.
Harry’s eyes opened and blinked owlishly in the suddenly comparatively dark hall. He dropped his arms in the ringing silence. A quick glance showed that the others were equally as affected. The diadem and locket were laying on the tiled floor unmoving.
“It is done, the vessels bear no trace of their defilement. The third and last Horcrux are all that remain. Now Mr Malfoy it is time for me to hold up my end of the bargain.”
Nervously Draco approached Death. “Should I roll up my sleeve?” He asked. But Harry also heard the question: will it hurt?
Death obviously did as well. “It shall not be like that forceful reaping and you need not concern yourself with removal of your garments,” Death reached down and tapped Draco’s arm where the mark was.
Harry thought he heard a snapping sound and Draco jerked slightly. “Thank you,” he breathed out. Before shakily backing off, his other hand pressed over the mark.
“Miss Granger,” Hermione stepped forward and Death placed a suddenly materialised book in her hand. “As agreed. You will not be able to copy this book but what you take from it in notes will be yours to keep.”
“I understand, thank you,” she whispered.
“Mr Potter,” Harry walked forward. Death took off their cloak and offered it to Harry. He gratefully took it back and expressed his gratitude to Death noticing that it felt no different than before. “You may not loan it out to any beyond those here tonight, nor can it be taken from you, only those here in this room will know that you have it. As you said, mortals have proved to be untrustworthy and I grow weary of reaping the souls of foolish or the innocent they damn. We will not meet again until it is your final time.” Death disappeared again before they could say anything else.
“I guess we should get planning,” Hermione said after a long moment.
“Not tonight it’s what half one, we should be in bed in case Dumbledore comes looking for answers. We have time tomorrow to plan,” Harry suggested instead. “Take your pepper up before we get to the bathroom. Winky, could you grab the locket and diadem, let’s put them somewhere safe, but not in the Black family hidden place with the knives. Let’s get out of here.” Harry ordered the night starting to catch up with him. “You okay Draco?”
“Yes, Merlin it wasn’t even a fucking year and I’d forgotten how my magic felt when it wasn’t all tainted by that bastard. I feel whole and clean, even if we don’t get the mark off, I don’t care right now because I finally feel whole again.” Draco sounded giddy and looked a bit unsteady on his feet.
“That’s brilliant,” Harry said, getting his arm and pulling it over his shoulder. “Come on now.” He pulled Draco along hoping that moving him would bring him around enough that he could fly out the tunnel.
In the end, Harry poured the pepper up down his throat before managing to haul Draco onto Harry’s broom leaving the elves on one with Hermione. It was hard to say which of the three of them on that broom were the most worried looking.
Harry insisted that he fly up first on the spare broom to open the door and then he’d come back down to get Draco and escort her up. The elves each held a lantern and hesitantly they flew out of the chamber.
When Harry landed in the bathroom a relieved looking Hermione helped him get Draco off his broom. After closing the passageway. Harry threw the cloak over Draco and grabbed the map. They couldn’t get him to the dungeons and in the state, he was in the Slytherin dorms were too risky for him. Instead, they decided to put him in the Room of Requirements for the night. Winky volunteered to look after him.
Exhausted, Harry flopped into his bed and dragged himself into his pyjamas. They’d done it, they’d gotten the Hallows out of play and managed to keep themselves alive. What’s more, they had an ally, a distant one yes, but they came with one hell of a cosmic punch.
Harry woke up in the morning groggy and unsure quite what was going on. He hadn’t had enough sleep. But at least no nightmares that he could remember.
“Mr Potter could you come with me.” Harry blinked, no that was still Professor McGonagall standing in the middle of their dorm. Equally confused gazes were on her from all directions as his roommates stared.
“What’s going on mate?” Ron asked, but Harry chose to ignore him.
“Am I in trouble ma’am it’s just it’s who knows how early?”
“No trouble lad but the headmaster wants to have a quick word, even if it’s five o sodding clock in the morning, apparently it can’t wait.” Harry’s eyes widened slightly at swearing from his head of house.
“Right, can I get dressed?”
“Five minutes, I’ll be downstairs waiting for you.” She swept out the room.
“Well?” Ron asked. Not a clue Harry lied, it was going to be about the Hallows. “Right best of luck mate I need more sleep. Merlin but girlfriends are exhausting eh,” He gave a lewd wink and fell back to sleep.
“Do you need anything Harry?” Neville asked.
“Apart from more sleep. Nah, wait could you tell Hermione and grab my bag if I’m not back by breakfast.”
“Sure,” Neville agreed.
“Night,” Harry said to the others as he headed down.
“Ah Mr Potter, I’m sorry about this but the headmaster insisted.” She said as she led them down the corridor away from the common room. “But I must say I am very happy for you and Miss Granger, the pair of you are much more settled and I can only see good things coming from your relationship,” She smiled wistfully.
“Thanks,” Harry said with a blush. Merlin hopefully she didn’t start giving relationship advice. He focused on tightening his meagre occlumency shields as best he could.
“Here we are, gummy bears, after you.” They walked up the stairs into the headmaster’s office. Snape was standing there along with Dumbledore.
“Ah Harry, thank you, Minerva you can leave,” She didn’t make any move to leave.
“I think I’ll stay seeing as you dragged me and my student out of bed Albus.” She said sitting down determinedly on the unused chair.
“Well then this is Order business,” He turned to Harry and he looked shaken. “We seem to have a small issue, you see the stone from the ring,” He gave Harry a very intent look. “Has
“The stone?” Harry asked, looking confused, the whole ring was missing.
“Yes, this morning I woke early to do some more research and I found the band but no stone,” he held up the damaged gold band.
“I have no idea,” Harry said honestly. Did death put the band back, they’d taken it along with the stone but why, was it part of their blessing to throw others off their scent or was Death playing with Dumbledore, pissed at him for striking the stone? Coming too close to becoming Master of Death? Harry let his confusion show. “Did anything else disappear?”
“Ah, yes,” Dumbledore looked uncomfortable. “My wand of all things.”
“Death Eaters?” Harry suggested it was the kind of answer they expected of him.
“Maybe or perhaps a poorly thought out prank,” Dumbledore mused. “Are you missing anything?”
“Me,” Harry repeated, he made a show of checking his pockets, so he didn’t have to look anybody in the eye. “No, I don’t think so.”
“What of your cloak?” Dumbledore pressed looking desperate as he leant over the desk towards Harry as if it would get him an answer sooner.
“I don’t know I didn’t check; I mean nobody mentioned I needed to.”
“No, I suppose they didn’t. You see I ask because according to the other headmasters you were the last to come in.” Snape was giving him a dirty look so Harry ignored him.
“Yes sir, or at least I did drop by,” Harry tried to look bashful. “But you seemed to have fallen asleep and you didn’t stir so I left.”
“Ah, the burden of age. My boy. Did you see anything out of the ordinary?”
Harry made a show of looking around. “No sir, I mean you were asleep, and Fawkes was too so I left.”
“Fawkes burned last night,” Dumbledore said rather bluntly.
“Really, he didn’t look like he did the other time I saw him burn,” Harry said startled.
“Indeed, it is a mystery. Was there a particular reason for your visit?”
“Err, yeah sort of to do with the ring and the other thing,” Harry gave Snape a meaningful look.
“We are all working toward the same end here what did you see? a vision?” Dumbledore said, looking eager and slightly less disturbed. Harry thought back the urge to snort at the idea of them all working together.
“Err no, no more visions. More memories. I was thinking about Sirius,” Snape scoffed interrupting him. “Well it was the locket that Merope sold in the memory, I think I saw it in a display case at Grimmauld Place when cleaning.”
Snape and McGonagall looked confused, but Dumbledore looked gobsmacked. “You do?”
“Yeah in the parlour, it just stuck out to me as it had a snake on it. When everything else had the Black crest. I don’t know what happened to it. We weren’t allowed to go through them as Molly and Sirius said they were too dangerous.”
“Indeed. Indeed. Severus, Minerva, I thank you for your help alas I must leave you this morning to purchase a new wand and seek out more of what came of this clue. Severus do not mention any of this to Tom, Harry do send me word of the cloak” Dumbledore pushed away from the desk and headed to the fireplace before flooing away leaving the three of them in the office.
“You saw nobody around when you left?” Snape asked when the fire died down.
“No, I would have said.” Harry retorted in his best indignant voice “I have no idea what’s going on.”
“Neither do I lad, come along you to Severus,” She herded them out of the office. Snape strode away down the corridor leaving the two of them behind. “Too late to go back to bed but back to the common room and maybe catch up with your homework. Give you more time with Miss Granger and you won’t have to miss dinner as often. Harry blushed, but followed her advice and headed back to do his homework.
The rest of his roommates were pleased to see him but thankfully none of them pushed to find out about the early morning wake up when Harry explained it was to do with Voldemort.
It looked like Hermione had been right Ron was burying his head in the sand and enjoying his romance. Harry wished him the best; they could still be friends but not like they had been. Hermione came down and Harry led her down to breakfast quietly explaining the morning’s drama.
The rest of the day passed without any more issue, at lunch Harry sent the headmaster an owl letting him know that the cloak was gone. To all extents and purposes, it was. Winky was keeping an eye on the Room of Requirements and Dobby had returned to sort through the Black library. When they joined Draco in the evening after they made sure to be seen at dinner, he really could do without comments from McGonagall again, Winky popped away to get some rest. Malfoy seemed to have recovered from his euphoric high and seemed more relaxed than he had yet been.
“Glad to see you, thanks for last night though, the relief, the healing of my magic it err rather threw me off,” he shrugged looking sheepish.
“No problem,” Harry said. “But you’ll be pleased to hear that I managed to throw Dumbledore off the scent of the Hallows and he’ll be chasing shadows going after the locket.”
“Good. So, Horcruxes any ideas. I mean Gryffindor’s sword is ruled out as you got that all basilisk venomed and you didn’t mention seeing the screeching horror?”
“Nope, no screeching horror from the sword just the diary. There aren’t any other founder objects and I doubt he went for two belonging to Hufflepuff so we just have to find the cup, it’s distinct enough that it should be easy to find. The last one is likely going to be harder as we have no idea.
“Yeah, I reckon founders are out for the last item. If he follows through it’ll be something personal and something, he’s going to keep close, he knows the Diary’s gone, so I doubt he’s trusting another minion,” Draco mused.
“Would he have trusted the cup with someone, or will he have moved it?” Harry asked.
“Hard to say he won’t want to draw attention to it, but he’ll also want to verify the safety of them subtly. Hopefully, he checked the ring soon enough that he’s not suspicious although if he cursed it and he connects it to Dumbledore’s injury the whole thing will get harder.”
“What do you think Hermione?” Harry asked but didn’t get a reply. Hermione was curled up in her chair reading the book from Death.
They spent the rest of the evening discussing the likely location of the Horcruxes and the protections on them but they both knew it was only speculation. They needed more. Hopefully, Hermione would have some insights.
With an exhausted sigh, she closed the book and then promised to tell them in the morning. But they really did need to sleep.
The next morning Hermione started to explain that the book was less of a textbook but rather a collection of rambling notes from a wizard long ago who was exploring magic and more importantly souls.
Unfortunately, he didn’t say anything that explicitly told you how to track a Horcrux or even mentioned anything about them, possibly suggesting it predated Herpo the Foul.
“I think it’s been translated somehow so I can read it, but this is Death we’re talking about so somehow there’s an answer in there, they wouldn’t have given it to me otherwise. Or more accurately I imagine there’s the seed of an idea and I have to take it, make it grow and then work with you. Because let’s be honest Death charged the three of us with the problem, so it’ll take what we’re good at to complete and research is my jam.”
“Death is deliberate and rather blunt so Let’s see what we can remember there could be a clue,” Harry suggested. The three of them started to write down anything of importance they could think of.
The fact that Death told them the third and last remain was Harry though the biggest clue. It implied one of them had to be made after he got back and that he hadn’t known about Harry. From what Draco and Hermione wrote down they agreed.
“Master Harry sir, the headmaster be tearing through old Black secret place, so Dobby be bringing back the knives here in case he be finding them,” Dobby said after he suddenly appeared.
“That’s great, good thinking.”
“Winky be making fake books to be hiding in the library so he not be seeing that we be reading books he not be liking.”
“Even better, the pair of you are brilliant,” Harry praised. They honestly were and he was mostly convinced the less he knew about what they were up to the better he would be. “Make sure you rest though.”
“Dobby be being good. Dobby be also bringing more books.” A trunk appeared in the front of the circle. “Dobby be not bringing books about Hallows now though.”
“That’s fine. Shall we stick to the same topics, I’ll take divination if you want,” Harry offered.
With little else to do they set to work researching trying to find out enough that they could use it to paint a picture of what was going on.
After a few days, they fell into a routine making sure that they were seen elsewhere during the day but also meeting up at least every other day to share what they’d found. It was slow going and frustrating more often than not. Harry at least had the distraction of the quidditch match on the horizon, but that meant May was slipping away, and it was nearly June.
June came on a Sunday and with it, the match and Harry couldn’t bring himself to care, not even when Katie made it back onto the team. Ron couldn’t talk of anything but Quidditch and Lavender and Harry wanted to be as enthusiastic but all he could think was three weeks and three days till midsummer.
But Harry wasn’t the only one distracted through those weeks, Hermione was taking the book as a personal challenge, often flicking through pages just to backtrack and read them again and again. If Harry didn’t know it wasn’t enchanted, he’d be more concerned.
They were still pretending to date although Harry was beginning to wonder if it was pretending anymore. Not when they were so comfortable together. They were best friends who held hands and occasionally kissed and who should probably have a serious conversation.
Draco was distracted; he was still puttering away on the wardrobe as he had to send back weekly reports. But he was also getting caught up on their school work. The rune project for communication mirrors was by all accounts going well. But Draco was also researching, chasing through old newspapers for clues about the identity of the Horcruxes when he couldn’t stomach reading the books about them.
The fifth and seventh years were getting ready for exams and even Ginny seemed too exhausted to bother him, or maybe she’d learnt. Who knew, Harry didn’t. The teachers were ignoring them in favour of those with OWLs and NEWTs, but that was a relief, they didn’t need that degree of scrutiny.
Dumbledore was somewhere, he was rarely seen and when he was, he looked exhausted. He had written briefly to let Harry know he shouldn’t be concerned by the loss of the cloak, that these things had their time and must return to their maker. But after that nothing. No mention of any more lessons and Harry wondered if he’d forgotten. Dobby had taken to following Dumbledore around on the off chance he found a Horcrux. But it seemed that he was too busy chasing the locket that was not there.
They won the match; Harry had played Ginny as seeker and the change in tactics was enough for them to scrape by. Harry even enjoyed playing chaser the same as his dad had. But the same joy he’d felt the first time they won wasn’t there. This was just a game and he was playing in ones with higher stakes.
Hopefully, they won that game and next year he could play again with the same joy. Have Draco fly against him without the cares of this year. It would be something to look forward to.
Harry managed to convince Hermione to take the night off research and come to the party. They let loose, they danced and drank the punch despite knowing it was spiked and kissed in front of the fire to the cheers of their housemates. They were alive, loved even. This was what they were fighting for even if most of them weren’t ready to fight, still children, a little voice whispered why should any of them have to.
Laughing he spun an equally delighted Hermione into another dance. The morning could wait just a little bit longer and they would meet it with no regrets he drunkenly informed her.
They fell asleep in their armchairs; much neglected the past few weeks alongside his dorm mates. Lavender and Ron having chased them all out with their own beds due to a not as private as it should have been celebration.
Hungover but happier than he had been since the night they surrendered the Hallows Harry wandered up to the Room of Requirements. He made it before Hermione and Draco, but they were expected soon.
Dobby was busy hunting through the room looking for anything of interest or value while Winky sat on what had become her stool and knitted a sock.
“It be for Dobby, he be liking them, it be a bit odd, but my mama say find an elf with character,” she said when she saw him watching.
“Oh, so you’re courting?” Harry asked slightly dreading where this conversation was going.
“We be doing so but you not to be worrying about such things, you have a witch to be worrying about,” She gave him a judgy look.
“Right I should be doing more, I will,” He promised Winky and got an approving nod. He was probably going to have to mention the courtship to Hermione; it was possible she’d noticed it already though.
Harry grabbed his latest book on object scrying. They had whittled the options down to that or runes or some combination of both. The only problem was Trelawney hadn’t taught them to scry. Apparently, it was potentially a very invasive magic so a class full of immature and increasingly horny teenagers were judged unsuitable to learn.
The problem with scrying was you needed information, to begin with. A bit like the muggle fortune tellers take titbits of information and using them to create a story. For scrying you needed familiarity and a rough location or else you got anything with a similar description, which could be thousands if not millions of items or people. Which wasn’t much help for them.
Hermione rushed in and rather than greet him she started flicking through her notes. Sinking down on the floor she pulled different piles of notes towards her with near manic enthusiasm.
A slightly breathless Draco turned up shortly after giving Hermione a considering look. “Did she say anything?”
“No, just rushed in. What’s going on?”
“I think she had an epiphany, she dragged me aside and asked me if it was half each time? I think she was referring to the splitting of the soul.”
“And is it?” Harry wondered.
“Yes, then she rushed off like a mad thing.” They watched Hermione who had started writing out what looked like a runic array. Draco sat down to watch.
“Yes,” Hermione whispered. “Do you see? This is how we find the Horcruxes, it’s probably not exact but it’ll do. Probably to within a mile but a mile it’s a lot less than the world.” Harry looked at the runes, it looked complicated and he wished he knew what it meant.
“I trust you, but can you tell me how?” Harry asked after a moment.
“Of course, but first these notes I think whoever wrote them was murdered, that’s why they’re incomplete and I think the person who did so was Herpo the Foul who stole them to start his research into immortality that led to the creations of Horcruxes. It’s the same seed that started them and will at least allow us to find them.”
“Well fuck, I wasn’t expecting that,” Draco said.
“Mhh, me neither. But the text talks occasionally about the weight of the soul and how that tethers it to the body and how the soul can be damaged or even cleaved, tearing it from the body. Now in muggle primary school, we learnt about how the soul was weighed on entry to the afterlife in ancient Egyptian and Greek culture.”
“The horror of making a Horcrux made it into muggle culture?” Draco said, looking shocked.
“Probably. But think about what Death said the third and the last, we know how many there are and how much those parts weigh. So, what we need to do is scry for a soul that weighs less than it should.”
“Yes,” Draco whispered, catching on looking excited. “It wouldn’t work normally because there are billions of souls but if we look for a soul that weighs significantly less, an eighth of the normal weight.”
“Then we find the Horcrux,” Harry finished.
“Or at least one and as we think Riddle is the only one who made more than one then we should only find his Horcruxes,” Hermione said triumphantly.
“Draco you know our communication mirrors. Well, I think that we need to use part of that design so we can inscribe the array onto a mirror. It might not be necessary but there’s a saying that mirrors reflect the soul and as we’re looking for a soul, I think it’ll help, it will at least not hinder us.”
“We’ll need a proper silver mirror, not a more modern glass one or else it won’t take the runic array. As big as you can” Draco said inspecting the suggested design.
“Winky be finding one,” she declared and went off in search of the perfect option.
Harry sat watching, he wanted to help but would probably get in the way. He flicked through his notes looking up, scrying on mirrors. “We’ll need a scrying medium to place on the glass,” Harry said when he saw an opportunity.
“Good point Harry, Draco can you make one?”
“Yeah I’ll look one up,” he promised.
“Pick one which can take an infusion of Myrtle,” Harry suggested as the other two looked at him. “She was the first person he killed to make a Horcrux and the flower represents both love and immortality. It just seems to fit.”
“Oh, it does, beautifully,” Hermione agreed. “Let’s load this up as best we can, we’re going to do this,” she promised.”
They managed to set up the scrying mirror by the evening but left it under Winky’s supervising eye overnight. Scrying especially for a soul was an activity best done by daylight according to all Harry read.
So, they waited, they all had a free period on Monday after lunch but decided it best to wait a bit longer. The evenings were long, and it wasn’t like they could rush off in pursuit if they did find a location, they still had school.
Harry got the dubious honour of being the one who got to actually scry. Hermione for all that she knew of the prophecy was too logical, it made her sceptical and less likely to get results, a self-fulling prophecy for those who didn’t believe in prophecies.
Draco who knew how to use the scrying runes, wasn’t as far as they knew subject to a prophecy while Harry was. That touch of Fate they figured would boost their chances of success, even with Death’s blessing in place.
Harry hadn’t argued with their logic. He wanted to do something and so far, he felt like the underachiever in their partnership. Like he wasn’t pulling his weight to the same degree the others were.
He rolled up his sleeves and following the precise instructions written by Hermione began to activate the runes. The potion on the glass surface took on a soft golden sheen not dissimilar to the surface of a pensive. But then the pensive was a type of scrying device, one for seeing the past.
He pushed his magic at the scrying mirror trying to articulate that he wanted to see an eighth of a soul. The potion began to glow, and swirl and shapes indistinctly formed before washing away.
“I think you can put in a sheet,” Harry said as he watched the potion. Sheets of plain parchment had runic arrays that complimented those drawn on the mirror. It was hoped that if submerged they would capture the images shown in the scrying glass for them to refer back to later a magical cyanotype.
Draco carefully slipped a piece in making sure not to cause too much disturbance to the potion. The shapes within were settling and a map was forming; it looked a bit like the treasure maps Harrys had seen as a child. They were Harry realised based on them, Magic worked within the limits of what you knew.
The map, though childish, was forming into something recognisable. A red cross was forming, obviously representing the location of the Horcrux, but around it, a map of London appeared.
“Gringotts, they put in the bank,” Draco sighed, getting it out had just become much harder.
Harry broke his connection to the scrying glass when the image stopped changing. He fell back into his seat breathing hard. It had been more magically exhausting than he thought, like when he cast a Patronus the first time.
He gratefully took the tea and biscuit from Dobby, and watched Draco fish out the map, it worked. Unfortunately, it was less helpful than they hoped seeing as they knew where the bank was. But they hadn’t known that, it could have been in a cave somewhere like the locket had been.
“I think I’ll have to do the other one tomorrow,” Harry admitted. He didn’t want to wear his magic out too far not this close to the end of the year with the threats growing closer.
“Good idea,” Hermione agreed, “We need to change out the potion and by then daylight will be fading.
The next day they got ready to repeat the process. The fragment of soul was smaller, but they figured they’d get two hits, one for Voldemort, the other the last Horcrux. What they hadn’t expected was two crosses to appear one on top of the other both over a bit of land that Draco recognised, Malfoy Manor.
“At least it’ll be easier to get to, even if it has to be the last one, what with old noseless there,” Harry tried to point out.
“And we know where they are, which is more than we would have otherwise. We just need to get some recon on the bank, and we’ll be in a better place to make some decisions,” Hermione added.
“Yeah,” Draco agreed. He didn’t sound happy though perhaps resigned, after all, it was his home and his family that were going to be hurt by what they did. “For Mother’s sake at least, the thought of her stuck at home, what should be a safe place with that monster and his beloved followers…”
“She’s not marked, is she?” Hermione asked.
“No, she doesn’t support him or at least she supports him as much as I do which is to say she’ll say what needs to be said to stay alive. But she doesn’t like him or the inner circle. I don’t even think she likes Father anymore.”
“Well then let’s do what we can,” Harry said, he really didn’t have the experience to help, parental relationships were a bit of a mystery to him.
“Yeah,” Draco trailed off. “I think I can get to the bank. There’re rules in the school charter that means on the weekends you can partake in family business. All I need is Mother to send in a letter to Snape and if I let him know it’s to do with my tasks I’ll get to go. I’ll probably be able to floo home and from there to the bank.”
“No,” Hermione said. “You can’t go back there all alone. Not when we know that he’s setting you up to fail, to be killed. What if he gets into your head, I doubt he’ll let your visit pass without gloating or grandstanding?”
“She’s right,” Harry agreed. “You’re acting like a Gryffindor rushing in.”
Draco was giving them a confused look. “No, I’m not, just because people say Slytherins are cowards doesn’t mean we are it just means we have plans and backup plans. I say we still go ahead with this but plan it more thoroughly than perhaps you would.”
“You’re going to do it anyway aren’t you,” Harry said he could recognise the bull-headed look that Draco had in his eyes, it was the same look Harry had seen in the mirror.
“It’s the only way to get into the bank.”
“Is it though? You said people can go on family matters, does that mean Harry could go?”
Draco hesitated and gave Harry a considering look. “He is the last of the Potters getting permission would be difficult, you’d need a very good reason to go.”
“Kreacher,” Dobby blurted out. “You are needing to pay for Kreacher care, and you not be going to the bank to sort these things out before, so you have to be going now. Maybe talking to Professor McGonagall and say you want to be getting a gift for Miss Grangey too out of the family vaults and she be thinking it okay because it’s caring and romantic.”
“Dobby, I don’t think we need to go that far,” Hermione said blushing.
“Oh, I do and I’m sure the romance of it will help,” Draco said looking delighted.
“Family vaults?” Harry asked, looking confused.
“The Potter family vaults where the important records and jewellery are kept. Has nobody told you about them? Not even with the Black inheritance? Merlin, they really didn’t tell you anything did they?” Draco said looking horrified.
“I have more than the vault I’ve been going to?”
“Probably a trust vault if it’s all just money. And yes, you’ll have more even if the Potters don’t, the Black’s do, and you got that if you have the house and elf. Right, Winky, can I borrow your flip chart? I think I need to give Harry a crash course in family finance.”
The next few hours before curfew was filled with a complicated mixture of banking, genealogy and manners when dealing with the Dverger who were apparently not Goblins, that was an insult.
Harry winced when he found that out. He didn’t think he’d called them that directly to their faces, but he had certainly referred to them that way. It seemed that was another thing that wasn’t being taught especially to the muggle-born.
They had briefly debated if it was a way for Dumbledore to drive them out of the magical community or to financially suppress them and stop them from having a voice. They didn’t know and honestly trying to unwrap his occasionally seeming contradictory behaviours wasn’t worth their time or effort.
The next day Draco more than ably assisted by the elves continued his lessons on etiquette and how not to stagnate your family financially. They also discussed how best to frame their request.
They luckily had transfiguration on Thursday morning and Harry had a free period afterwards, so when the others left, he hung back. Hopefully, they asked in enough time that they’d be able to swing it so that he could go this weekend.
“Well, Mr Potter I assume you’re not trying to stay and make my classroom look pretty?” McGonagall said once the room emptied.
“Err, no Ma’am I had something I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Is it about the lessons or the Order?”
“Neither Ma’am it’s about my family and me trying to do my duty to it.”
“Ahh, that is good to hear, now I have some time, so I think we’ll be more comfortable in my office.” She led Harry through the side door and into her office, it wasn’t somewhere he spent much time before. “You know your Father and I had a similar discussion in his sixth year just after his parents, your grandparents were killed.”
“Oh, yes. I’ll tell you about that one day but now tell me what is troubling you.”
“Right well you know Kreacher, the house-elf. Well, I inherited him and the property and everything. Although I honestly only just found out that, the everything, is a lot more than I thought.”
“You didn’t know about the accounts?”
“No, not even the Potter ones. I guess everybody assumed I knew but I didn’t. Hagrid took me to the trust vault and Molly dealt with it when I was younger, I honestly have no idea. I’ve written to the bank and got a hugely complicated mess of paperwork back.” The said paperwork had arrived this morning via three separate owls.
“But anyway Professor, the thing was I ordered Kreature to get help, so he went to the elf healers and is apparently getting better but I need to pay for his care.”
“Oh, lad may I just say how proud I am of you and I’m sure Mother would be too. To show such compassion to Kreature after everything.” McGonagall looked slightly misty-eyed.
“Well, he was a victim too, stuck in that dark house for years with that toxic harpy and having lost all the family he was to serve. I might not trust him, but he shouldn’t suffer.” And the Horcrux had made him suffer.
“Indeed. I suspect you’ll need to visit the bank in person to sort it out. The headmaster is once more away but I’ll speak To Bill Weasley to see if he could escort us within the bank. I have a few things that the school needs processing, so I propose we go Sunday early. Tell nobody that you don’t explicitly trust, and we should be alright. Within the bank, we’ll be safe.
“That’s brilliant, Ma’am,” Harry said. “I’m not sure how long I’ll be though and would hate to hold you up?”
“No problem, the school business is always a few hours, but we should be done by lunch. It’ll give you time to go through your family vaults.”
“Thank you, apparently they have documents, furniture and jewellery in them or at least they might, there is a loose inventory in what I was sent, no details just item quantities. I was thinking of finding Hermione something.” Harry said despite not needing to use the idea to convince her.
“Ah, now that is a lovely idea. Your Father did much the same with your Mother when he finally convinced her to be in a relationship. I believe he had a bracelet commissioned that would give her a level of protection against the rising threat, just something to think about. But may I just say once more how happy I am for you both. And though many will say it’s a good thing for you, settling you and I must say making you a more dedicated student. But also, for her, she seems much more engaged with the student populace and happier to try her own thing. Just as it should be.”
“Thanks,” He said with a blush.
“Now off you go I’ll owl you the details. I’ve embarrassed you enough for one day I can see.” Harry got up and headed out quickly.
Sunday rolled around and at quarter to seven in the morning, Harry stood in front of McGonagall’s office door. They were flooing to the bank, doing so meant no escort and no possible leak by cutting out the amount of people who knew they were travelling. What’s more, the Bank could set up the connection cutting out the Ministry needing to be informed.
The floo ride to Gringotts was the smoothest Harry had ever known and he gave the fireplace a confused look when he stepped out, stepped not fell. His magic settling evidently had more than one benefit.
After promising not to run off anywhere McGonagall led him to a waiting Dverger and left him to his fate. His fate being three hours of intense paperwork. Dobby who had popped to the bank and invisibly joined him in the atrium was sitting next to him, helping him organise and read through the mess of two-family accounts.
But finally, for now, at least, he’d have to come back In August once he was officially an adult and do so much more, he was free to do the bit they’d come for. Visit the vaults.
Harry had explained that he wanted a gift for Hermione and wished to see what was in the vaults, after all, who knew if his ancestors had tacky taste? So, they rode the carts down, further than Harry had been when he’d visited his trust vault and into the depths of the banks’ system where the Philosopher’s stone had once resided.
Draco had assured them that Dobby would be allowed as Harry’s sworn elf and so he rode along intently staring at the doors in hope that he could sense a Horcrux. The cart came to a stop at a platform and they disembarked following closely to the Dverger, Rispklar who was apprenticing as a manager, guiding them through the passageways.
There was in the distance a flash of fire, A dragon just as Harry had thought the first time. But having had more than one close encounter with the creatures before he wasn’t willing to go for another.
Dobby stiffened as they walked past one vault number 711, It was likely in there, Harry kept walking not wanting to look suspicious. He wasn’t here to rob the place, yet.
They made it into the Potter vault. Rispklar’s fingerprint was needed to unlock it as Harry had yet to meet his majority. It also limited what he could take from the vault, but the bracelet McGonagall had mentioned was on the list of those he could take. What’s more, it was not only entailed so that it couldn’t be stolen but it was tasteful.
Three strands of delicate chain, one gold, one platinum and another of silver, all forged and enchanted by the Dverger from the description. Suspended between the three chains were small spheres of different precious gems all carved in minuscule runic arrays, giving the wearer protection. His dad had great taste.
Harry checked a few other options not wanting to miss an opportunity to explore the vault. He dismissed the rings as the connotations about them made him uncomfortable. One day maybe he’d give Hermione a ring but not yet when they still had to define just what they were.
The necklaces were a bit heavy and more matronly than he thought Hermione would like. Either that or they were the kind of thing you wore to high society parties and not every day wear. It was looking like the bracelet was the best option. So, he put it in his pocket.
With nothing else to do but look at furniture he had nowhere to store but in the vault, it was already in. The Dursleys would no doubt appreciate the quality and try to steal it or destroy it to spite him. Harry still couldn’t tell quite what motivated them more where he was concerned.
As they walked back past the vault Harry tried to strike up enough of a conversation that he had a reason to walk slowly and even pause outside vault 711, giving Dobby enough time to scope the area out and confirm their suspicions.
Harry slipped into the Room of Requirements to find Hermione and Draco kneeling down and leaning into the broken wardrobe. “Err should you be doing that?” Harry asked quietly not wanting to startle them and cause another wardrobe incident. He doubted Death and Fate would be so obliging twice.
“Harry, you’re back how did it go?” Hermione said crawling away from the wardrobe and getting up to give him a hug. He’d give her the bracelet later he decided when they didn’t have an audience.
“We be finding the bad soul piece,” Dobby announced for Harry. “We be also be doing lots of paperwork.”
“That’s brilliant. Although I doubt, you’re happy about the paperwork,” Hermione said letting him go.
“Let’s just say the blood quill wasn’t my favourite part, but on the upside, it’s going to make Umbridge even less happy. The Dvergers were less than impressed with her black market knock off, apparently, it’s a breach of the treaty.”
“Oh, that is good news, let’s hope that they make her pay but what about the vault did you get the number?”
“711. But I have no idea who that is, there was no crest or anything on the door.”
“Don’t worry, I know,” Draco said, who’d also gotten up when Harry was engulfed in Hermione’s hair.
“Does that help us?” Harry asked.
“Maybe it’s Bellatrix’s vault, her personal one not a Lestrange one. I think it belongs to the Black family. Did you disown her?”
“No, not yet I decided that it would be best to hold off overplaying our hand and the fact that it would magically wipe me out to do so without my magical maturation. That said I cut her off every other way,” Harry admitted rather gleefully.
“Good,” Draco said. “That means you can still get in the vault, but it doesn’t get past the fact without you claiming full magical control of the family you’d be subject to any curse she’s put on the contents.”
“She cursed her property, oh what am I saying, of course, she did,” Hermione said shaking her head.
“Mhh, to keep it away from the Lestranges, it wasn’t a love match. I believe there’s a doppler curse, the bank limits what magic you can cast within the vaults probably to stop squatters and dark rituals. But you taking anything would be recorded as a theft, so you’d have to destroy it in the vault.”
“Would we be able to get one of the knives past the security?” Harry wondered.
“Yes, but only after a vow to harm nobody within the bank that day. A precaution to stop duelling, once you leave the vow would cease to be in effect.”
“Useful, but it would have to be carefully worded as we would be harming a part of a soul,” Hermione pointed out.
“Or would we as Death did say Riddle wants to be whole. It would be aiding them and technically there’s nobody, I’ll have to think about it. The hardest part will be getting there. Only Harry and I can do it and I’m not sure that you’d be able to swing another visit so soon.”
“Unfortunately, I did all the paperwork to date, I thought it would be suspicious to leave it uncompleted and kind of insulting,” Harry admitted.
“Oh, you’d not be in your manager’s favour for years if you’d done that. No, you can’t go again but maybe I can go,” Draco suggested looking speculatively at the wardrobe.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“Well I qualify under the family rule and I can get into Bella’s vault.”
“Because you’re related?” Hermione guessed.
“Because I can ask and get her to give permission to me,” Draco corrected. “She’d probably give it to me if I manage to convince her that it’s to do with the task set to me. The cabinet one,” he clarified.
“But what would you go for? She may be insane but she’s cunning enough to be dangerous and likely indiscrete enough to give away your reason,” Hermione pointed out.
“Ok, bear with me but I think that we finish the Vanishing Cabinet, I’ve been talking to Hermione and she thinks that I’ve got most of the damage repaired and with both of us working on it we can get it done.”
“As a trap?”
“Of course, as a trap Potter, I’m not working for them, what do I have to do to prove it?” Draco snapped, pulling at his hair in frustration.
“No, I know you’re not,” Harry tried to explain, “I’m just trying to get caught up.”
“Right, sorry. I’m just a bit stressed too. If I get the thing working, it means it’ll win us time and get rid of a few Death Eaters. Then I go and buy the spare using funds in Bella’s vault, getting me access to the Horcrux at the same time.”
“Buy the other wardrobe? You mean you don’t have it already?” Hermione asked, looking slightly alarmed. “I vote we get control of that before we finish this one.”
“Yeah, that’s the plan. But no Borgin and Burke have the other one, they won’t sell it, a couple of threats, unfortunately, backed up by Greyback means that it’s waiting till I can buy it,” Draco explained. Harry frowned, that sounded slightly like the conversation he’d heard before the school year started when he was spying.
“Are you sure that Borgin will honour that agreement?” Hermione asked.
“Yeah, a few mentions that it was for the Dark Git and he was all compliant. Borgin’s also been helping with the repair he’s been sending me sketches of the one in the shop to try and compare,” Draco admitted.
“Makes sense, not his first run-in with Riddle and the first time resulted in a loss of stock and a few dead bodies. I think from the memory Dumbledore showed me that was the start of their bad reputation, before that they seemed more honourable if still terrible people.”
“Okay, so fear is controlling them but why go to that extent and not just buy the thing outright in September and have control of the situation?” Hermione asked.
“Because, this,” Draco gestured. “Was more of a backup plan than the original one, but that fell through months ago. And as to buying it the Ministry was and let’s be honest is still watching the hell out of my family finances. Father’s escape means that Mother is being constantly harassed over the most minimal withdrawals on the chance she’s using ten gallons to help him.”
“Oh, that’s ridiculous, but makes terrible sense they’re not doing anything of substance but harassing people, like Harry and your Mother just to claim they’re doing something,” huffed Hermione.
“Exactly and buying a wardrobe from Borgin would be a reason to really go after me and Mother, one I’m not sure she would survive. The Dark Git for all his dramatics is unhappy to be known about and I think would take possible scrutiny about his location… poorly,” Draco hedged looking uncomfortable. But then so would Harry be if he had a Dark Lord living it up in his home with all the sycophants and his Mother trapped under the pressures of both sides. Yeah, not a fun place to be, even for Slytherins who do well in that kind of situation.
“So, using Bella’s vault wouldn’t cause the same scrutiny?” Harry asked drawing Draco away from the dark places his thoughts seemed to be going.
“No. The Ministry’s only watching the Lestrange vaults not thinking that she has others, they’re remarkably short-sighted about that sort of thing, but then not many actually have more than one vault so maybe they just don’t think.”
“I think, just don’t think, is the motto of the whole country if not the magical world,” Hermione muttered. “But let’s be clear about what we do next. Draco you pester Snape into a trip to the bank, where you take out enough to buy a wardrobe and more if you can because let’s not leave the bitch enough money to bribe anyone if she’s sane enough to think of that option.”
“I think the previous conviction would outweigh the validity of anything a bribe could do,” Harry pointed out and only got pitying looks from the other two for his possibly naïve statement.
“Harry, they thought a baby beat the darkest lord in centuries, with no evidence. The right sob story and a shiny new political campaign and most won’t bother to question it, they’ll just bring back that don’t ask, don’t tell and don’t talk about the war mentality they used last time. Anyway, nobody who doubted it would have the balls to take it up with Bellatrix anyway,” Hermione said looking frustrated.
“Right but by that same logic even if she bribed someone into freedom or whatever you honestly don’t think Madame Longbottom wouldn’t take her out and then bribe herself out of the consequences, or Neville for that matter?” Harry asked.
“Oh, probably, but either way why leave her with unnecessary money?” Draco asked. “She’s mad enough I might be able to clear the whole vault out depending how I phrase it,” Draco looked speculative as if the challenge of figuring out how to defraud his Aunt was one he relished, which it probably was.
“Right but we’ve gotten side-tracked,” Hermione interrupted. “So, Draco goes to the bank and cases the vault takes what he can and destroys the Horcrux, we’re fairly sure he can’t tell when it happens, but we can always blame somebody else if he does notice.”
“Dumbledore,” Harry suggested. “He’s hunting for one now and let’s be honest he’s probably not being subtle about it.”
“Good idea… Oh Draco, a small problem but what are you going to do with the wardrobe when you buy it. I mean having two here isn’t going to work as a trap and we don’t want Bellatrix going to her vault if that’s even possible, hmmm,” Hermione pointed out.
Harry sighed and sat down, this is why he let other people plan, he just missed the little details. The other two sat down looking slightly defeated by the increasingly large oversight to their plan.
“Kreature,” Draco said, sitting up suddenly startling Harry. “How is the elf better than before? Free to return to duty?”
Harry gave the other boy a confused look, what did his elf have to do with anything? “Err yeah, he’s been cleared. He’s still not great personality-wise, you know bigoted and all that, but he hates Tommykins, literally cackled and rubbed his hands with glee when I let him know the locket was destroyed.”
“Brilliant,” Draco exclaimed without giving any more detail.
“As happy as I am to hear that Kreature is doing well what does he have to do with the cabinet?” Hermione asked.
“Everything. If I recall, he spoke to Bellatrix and that led to Black’s demise. So, Bellatrix trusts Kreature so what if we bring the cabinet here and use it to repair this one, and then when it’s time to bait a trap have Kreature take it to her so she is more willing to just rush in,” Draco explained.
“Isn’t this getting horribly convoluted?” Harry asked.
“Yes, but it’s the type of horribly convoluted that a panicking and desperate me would come up with and that’ll make them less suspicious as nobody expects me to succeed. The other option is getting Snape to pass the wardrobe along but honestly, I don’t trust him not to fuck with things to help one of his masters,” Draco admitted.
“Are you panicking and desperate?” Harry asked. He felt it was a valid question all things considered.
“Mildly,” Draco admitted, looking slightly uncomfortable. “They won’t question it as Borgin has been trying to get me to bring him this one to fix it since September. So, doing it this way will actually help as they’re more likely to trust that it’s working properly and go through without thought.”
“And Kreature is necessary to move it?” Harry checked.
“Yes, none of them are going to exert themselves to do such manual labour and I can’t be seen with Winky or Dobby as they’re traitors and seen to be on your side. Which let’s be honest they are. But turning up with a Black elf who obeys me is going to only work to our and my advantage. I mean if Kreature does as I say it raises the possibility, I can claim the Black accounts which nobody knows you have done, and I didn’t try before because the whole Ministry is watching thing. But with such a possible inheritance resting on my shoulders, they’re less likely to kill me or magically damage me outright.”
“Yeah, I was with this plan until that last part, I thought we were ending this before you had to see them again?” Harry pointed out. He was fairly sure that was the plan seeing as Midsummer was still in term time.
“I’ll likely have to see Bellatrix to get permission to get in her vault. If I go with Kreature it’ll win me influence with her and hint at what could be.”
“But won’t she tell you to take it from the Black vaults?” Hermione asked, but Harry shook his head, he knew the answer to that.
“You have to be of age to enter the Black vaults. Draco would be suggesting he could in future but not yet,” Harry said. He could almost see where this plan was going. “I provisionally agree but I don’t want to force Kreature, his last experience with Riddle didn’t go so great.”
“Fair, but I think you’re underestimating his desire for revenge,” Draco agreed.
“So, to recap, Draco goes to Snape and uses him as a vector to go to his home to gain access to Bellatrix. From her, he gets permission to go into her vault. Kreature goes along as a red herring to make sure Draco doesn’t get killed, maimed or tortured during this visit,” Hermione said.
“Hopefully I can then go directly to the bank from my home. I can’t see anybody interfering with that. If not, I can arrange a visit for the next day,” Draco added.
“Once at the bank he stabs the cup and takes out the Horcrux, hopefully, Death assists with that. While there he also takes the gold and buys the other cabinet which Kreature takes to the Black family hidden place I suppose, we don’t want it going to the manor…” Hermione trailed off.
“Nope we don’t want them getting their hands on it and I doubt the order will notice Kreature moving another bit of furniture around seeing as he’s done it often enough in the past,” Harry agreed.
“From the Black place Dobby or Winky bring it here as they can get through the wards. Draco and I fix it up and then what?”
“I send an owl that I’ve fixed it and somehow we move the cabinet to the manor, probably via Kreature as he can get through the wards and move the damn thing. A whole host of Death Eaters rush into a trap which we have yet to plan,”
“And then what?” Hermione asked as she ticked off the last point of the plan so far.
“We assess the situation on the ground when it happens. It depends if Riddle goes into the trap or not on what we do,” Harry pointed out. “But either way I reckon we use the wardrobe as a way to get into Draco’s house undetected and take out the last Horcrux. Kreature may be able to recognise another after the exposure and point us towards it but if not, he can report back on who ended up where.”
“So, all we need is Draco to risk his life and take part in a semi-official bank robbery and figure out where our trap is going to be. If we think it’s possible that Riddle’s going in too it’s going to have to be strong and possibly reversible as we’ll need a body to end the hysteria. All this and we have only a few days to do so,” Hermione concluded her summing up.
“Next week I’ll probably manage to get the cabinet and that gives us a few days to get the repair solid enough to use and enact it all. Tight but probably doable,” Draco said rather optimistically.
“We’ve had worse odds, with fewer plans in place,” Harry admitted. Last summer and the Ministry fiasco being one such example.
“Well, then I have a note to write to Mother and another to my Aunt if you’ll excuse me?” Draco said as he got up and gathered his things he left.
“Do you think we can? Do it I mean?” Hermione asked getting up and walking over to him before curling up in his chair practically on his knees.
“Yeah, I do, but who knows. I don’t know what half the stuff you’re doing means, so maybe I’m the least informed of us all but I have faith and Hermione I’ve not had that before. Death may not be everyone’s choice of allies, but I think they suit us.
“I do too and that’s a bit of a mind fuck because honestly, I thought we would be fighting on the side of the light. But Harry I worry that when all this is said and done neither side will be happy.”
“I don’t think you’re wrong to worry,” Harry finally admitted. “I haven’t really let myself think about when it’s all over the future has always been so far away.”
“And here we are living in yesterday’s tomorrows.”
“Yeah. But Hermione you know I’ll do what I can to keep you safe,” He shifted her slightly to the side and reached into his pocket and drew out the bracelet box. “Here I got you this, it’s part of the reason I went, you know.”
“Harry, you didn’t have to,” She said, not taking the box from him.
“I know but I still did. You don’t have to wear it but if you do it’ll help keep you safe. My Dad had it made for my Mum and I guess her situation was a bit like yours is now. So, maybe keep it in mind.”
She carefully took the box, eyes wide and Harry thought her hand looked unsteady. “You know the symbolism of this will make people talk, Lupin will know.”
“Yeah well it’s my choice and you deserve it and Lupin can talk all he wants, not that he ever does to me,” the last part came out more bitter than he intended, and he looked away, he didn’t want to let anything negative affect the moment.
Hermione’s hand was on his face gently encouraging him to look up. He caught a sparkle out the corner of his eye, she was wearing the bracelet. And then she was kissing him, not the sweet friendly kisses they’d exchanged before but one full of promises and emotions neither of them could quite bring themselves to say. Yet.
“Harry mate, you cunning dog you, getting Hermione a bracelet from your Mum too,” Ron said punctuating his comments with back slaps. It wasn’t quite the reaction Harry had expected when he walked into the common room that morning. “Lav, just told me all about it.”
“Oh,” Harry said, not entirely sure what was going on. He looked around but couldn’t see Hermione or Lavender for that matter.
“The girls have gone down already to get breakfast and have a gossip you know what they’re like. But I said I’d wait for you mate. We’ve been busy I guess who knew NEWTs and girls could be so exhausting.”
“You lived with Percy and you always complained about Ginny,” Harry pointed out as he slipped through the portrait hole, Ron following behind.
“Man, you’re right, don’t tell Mum but I think Fred and George had the right of it. But Lav, wants me to get some qualifications so I guess we’ve got to work for it, you know what I mean. Hermione’s got to be even worse… Guess we’ve been so busy we’ve not had time to hang out now quidditch is over.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Harry shrugged unsure where this conversation was going. “Maybe after exams, we could have a pick-up game,” Harry suggested.
“That sounds great. But here’s the thing that I really wanted to talk to you about,” Ron said pulling Harry into an unused classroom. Harry wondered what it was going to be. Had Dumbledore reached out to Ron and tried to get him to reconnect. Or was it Molly worried about losing her connection to him, she always seemed rather proud of it.
“Jewellery mate.” Harry blinked at Ron in shock that was not what he expected. “When do you know when to give it? And what should you give? I mean giving family pieces is a great idea no paying for it and makes her feel dead special so I might copy you on that. Aunt Muriel gave me a few pieces which I didn’t know what to do with till now. But how do you know when?”
“Err, spontaneous is good don’t do it on a big date so it feels more heartfelt, more of a surprise rather than an expectation,” Harry suggested. He’d seen Petunia get flowers and trinkets on a rolling schedule and had suffered the fallout when Vernon had missed out on his routine.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” Ron nodded. “Merlin is it hard though. I bought Lav, some lipstick, no idea what, but she loves it, keeps wearing it and when we kiss it gets all over me and tastes gross. Take it from me mate, don’t make my mistakes, no make-up or if you do make sure it’s your colour. But what jewellery should I give? I mean giving a bracelet right after you would be a cop-out yeah?”
“Maybe a hairpiece or cloak pin. I have no idea what Muriel gave you,” Harry pointed out and trying to get out of the conversation. He wasn’t a relationship expert; he was only in one by accident and the possible scheming of Malfoy.
“Hair clips!” Ron exclaimed. “Right tell the girls I’ll see them in class I need to owl mum for the hair clips, she’ll love them, she’s right into her hair,” Ron muttered as he gave Harry one last pat on the back and rushed out the room.
Bemusedly Harry shook his head and made it down to breakfast where he passed on Ron’s message. Harry waited until Lavender gave them some privacy before he recounted the whole affair to a giggling Hermione.
Ron wasn’t the only one to react to the bracelet. More than one teacher spotted it and gave the pair of them delighted if slightly tearful smiles. Harry guessed that they recognised it from when his Mum wore it.
Snape certainly did and the disgusted reaction he gave was almost comically over the top. If it hadn’t involved his mum and girlfriend, it would have been amusing, instead, it was worrying. Only the thought that he wouldn’t be a threat too much longer kept Harry’s wand out of his hand.
At lunch, Harry received a note from Dumbledore that he should expect another meeting on the 30th of June as he had made progress on tracing a Horcrux. Harry wondered if it was the locket that he had been busily chasing. Either way, Harry put it out of his mind it didn’t matter it should all be over by then.
That evening Draco let them know that everything was in place for him to get into the bank and get the other wardrobe. Everything was falling into place; the only choice was now where to trap the Death Eaters? And how to keep themselves busy as they waited. Last month a week was too short a time now it was too long.
Saturday dawned overcast. If Harry was prone to dramatics, he might take it as a bad omen. But he had read enough divination texts to know it could mean what you wanted it to. Harry decided to believe that it was a sign the future would be brighter.
By midday, the sun was out, and Harry was distracting himself with a game of pick up quidditch hoping to burn off the excess energy that was burning through him. Never before had he been the one to sit quietly as others faced danger. If nothing else Harry had gained a lot of respect for Hermione and Ron who’d been in this position before, from their very first year in fact during their hunt for the philosophers stone and they’d been trapped alone.
After lunch, Harry and Hermione slipped away claiming they needed to do some homework. They didn’t, they’d done it all and read ahead where they could. The next week would be an intensive crash course in runes for Harry and a desperate puzzle for the other two.
“Well, who wants to know how my day went?” Draco asked as he sauntered with his old confidence into their clearing. He dropped a bag by his chair and grinned at the two of them.
“Went well did it?” Harry asked.
“Potter it went so well I could kiss you. I am that damn happy, but I suppose I could deputise Miss Granger on my behalf,” he said with a laugh.
“Don’t worry I’ve got you,” Hermione said, kissing Harry’s cheek. “But what happened? You were gone longer than we thought.”
Malfoy gracelessly flopped into his chair and ran a hand through his hair. “Where to begin. So, as you knew the agreements were in place and I made it to the bank no problem. What I wasn’t expecting was Mother to be there. She’s alright, surviving, but she managed to convince her watchers to let her out and see me. She’s planning to run.”
“Draco,” Hermione gasped, sounding delighted but worried.
“She doesn’t know what we’re doing but she’s smart, she figured out I have a way out and she’s taking herself out of play to give me the best chance of success. When I send the cabinet through, she’s going to slip away. She’s got herself a bolt hole. I think my Mum’s going to survive,” Draco whispered the last part, a desperate, hopeful confession.
“As you said she’s smart, she’ll make it,” Harry tried to promise.
“Thanks.” Draco took a shaky breath and composed himself smirk back in place. “Well, Bellatrix is a fool and a poor one for it now.” He kicked the bag by his chair.
“Is that her money?” Hermione asked, looking at the satchel. Harry was fairly certain it was the same one Draco had taken into the Chamber.
“Nearly the whole damn vault. I left enough that it would change the vault status as that involves an owl being sent out and I don’t want to piss her off, but enough that even if the Ministry keeps the Malfoy vaults frozen, I can get by. Once this is all over and the Ministry stops being a dick, I’ll re-deposit it, but for now it’s safe in an anti-theft box.”
“Good,” Harry declared. He didn’t want Draco to become bitter after all this was over, he had enough going against him that anything to help was a blessing.
“But my reason for going was completed. One cup stabbed and the screaming wraith released. It dissipated fairly quickly, fast enough that I suspect Death assisted, especially as the Dverger didn’t react.”
“Not at all?” Harry asked. They’d come up with a plan for the eventuality that the destruction of the Horcrux triggered an incident in the bank.
“Absolutely no reaction, hence my belief Death assisted. After leaving the bank I went to Borgin and Burkes and bought the other cabinet. Excitingly Rowle was there and witnessed me order Kreature to take it away. We can also confirm he’s a gossip because shortly after Snape told me I had been summoned back to the Manor.”
“Draco, are you alright?” Hermione asked, looking worried as if his swagger was hiding injuries.
“Fine. Luckily, I didn’t see Tom, but I did see Father and the rest of my extended family, apparently, the possibility of the Black fortune set them all aflutter. I summoned Kreature, and yes Harry I was careful with him. After a bit of quick talking, I managed to keep the cabinet from being installed at the manor ahead of schedule.”
Harry relaxed Kreature was ok, Draco was ok, and their plan still held enough water to be functional. “They tried to get it early?”
“Of course, they did, every man for themselves as long as they’re below Tom is the way the ranks work. I had to show weakness, which was uncomfortable, but I got to keep the thing. Father backed me, guess he was after a Malfoy victory, Bellatrix did too but she’s insane so who knows why.”
“Merlin that sounds uncomfortable,” Hermione breathed out before she got up to give Draco a quick hug.
“You have no idea. After declining a touch of muggle baiting, I got myself away and back to school. The only problem is the Cabinet is stashed in Snape’s office. I couldn’t think of anywhere else to put it without overplaying the situation. But I think the school elves can move it up here.”
“Will Snape interfere? I know we wanted to avoid him,” Harry asked. The last thing they needed was Snape and either of his masters getting involved. Although Dumbledore would probably help Draco. Merlin knew he hadn’t done anything about the assassinations.
“No. I made sure of that. But you’re going to have to use the cloak exclusively when near me. So, as not to tip him off. As morbid as it is, it was nice to see them all one more time. I mean what we’re doing will kill them and I’ll miss them, but I think I’ll miss more what they could have been. I have no regrets.” Harry nodded, what could you say to that. Nothing really, but he’d lend his support where he could.
“But on the good news, bad news front. Kreature let me know he could sense the Horcrux in the house but no idea quite what it was. As loath as I am to do it, we may just need to Fiendfyre the whole place to the ground.”
“Let’s leave that as the last option,” Hermione said. “I’m sure your Mum can do wonders with the place once we clear the vermin out.”
“I can kick the Order out of the Black family place they’re in and your Mum and you can stay there if you need a place this summer,” Harry added. After all, the Order wouldn’t be needed and after he turned seventeen, he could leave… Harry froze. After they dealt with Riddle, he didn’t need the protection he could go anywhere, in less than two months he’d be an adult they couldn’t control him.
“Harry, you okay?” Hermione asked getting up and coming over to him.
“Yeah, I just realised that I don’t have to go back to the Dursleys after all this is done. I can be free, become an adult and be even more free.”
“Heady as hell isn’t it,” Draco said from where he was watching them.
“Merlin, I kind of love that wardrobe, where would we be without it,” Harry said, giving the thing a fond look.
“Harry, it’s a cabinet, not a wardrobe,” Hermione carefully pointed out.
“I mean is it though, furniture identification is nebulous and from what I can recall cabinets tend to have draws and shelves and that beast is just doors and a rail. Plus, I’m fairly sure it fits the traditional wardrobe size requirement of it can fit eight small men inside.”
“The what? Who measures wardrobes by how many men you can fit inside?” Draco spluttered looking incredulous.
“Muggle furniture makers a few centuries back, although they don’t quite clarify how small a small man is, but I reckon you can fit eight of me in there,” Harry said giving the wardrobe a speculative look.
“How do you know this? Even I don’t know this,” Hermione admitted.
“My aunt is particular in her décor and I have been subject to more than one discussion on the subject. But you know I also look stuff up because if you’re going to transfigure something you need to know what your paramotors are. But I’ll give you that wardrobes tend to be bedroom furniture, but do you expect me to believe that these ward busting, behemoths weren’t made to help some witch or wizard get lucky on the down-low?”
“I mean when you put it like that…” Hermione trailed off.
“Hence I shall be calling them wardrobes and not cabinets. Do you think I can keep one half after all this is finished? Draco you can have the other,” Harry said suddenly changing the topic.
“Only fair seeing as I bought it, does that mean in the future you and I can get lucky on the down-low?” Draco said with a wink making Harry and Hermione blush.
“Right boys, nobodies getting lucky with or without the Felix Felicis until after we win. Then you can finish dividing the spoils of war, but first let’s make sure these things work.”
The rest of the day and then the next flew past in a blur of frantic planning and dragged through many hours of doing nothing. Or at least Harry felt he was doing nothing. Hermione and Draco were hard at work.
He’d spent a few days pouring over the plans of Malfoy estate which Draco had drawn up and honestly, he now thought he could get around the place as easily as he could the Dursleys. All they had to do was wait.
Harry concluded as Wednesday failed to rush past that Saturday was a lifetime away and he was getting bored. While their deadline was the 24th they were aiming for the 21st a Saturday. Hermione was of the opinion they shouldn’t compromise on their education because of terrorists; therefore, they should attend classes and do homework and deal with other issues in their spare time at the weekend.
Harry figured that it gave them time for a backup if their first plan fell through. He also rather cynically figured that it would mean they would lose their Defence teacher just before the end of the year as per normal.
There had been some debate when Hermione and Draco were taking breaks to eat about if the curse was real? If it was set by Tom? and if it would affect a Death Eater? They had been surprised when Winky confirmed the curse was real and that the school elves often petitioned to have it removed.
They figured that with Tom’s destruction the curse would end but they also figured that Snape dying from the Dark Mark would count as falling to the curse.
It was Harry supposed rather delightful that Snape finally got what he wanted, and it would be in part be the death of him. But more than that he was pissed that Dumbledore hadn’t done anything about a curse that killed his staff and impacted the education of at least one generation of students. The idiot couldn’t die soon enough as far as Harry was concerned.
“I think that’s it,” Hermione said, startling Harry out of his funk. He put the cushion he’d been plumping back on the chair and headed over to where the other two sat between the two wardrobes.
“Shall we test it?” Draco asked. “I’ve got a few marbles after that we see how that goes, we can work up to transfigured bunnies and then people.”
“Sure. Harry, would you go get the fur hats Winky found and get them hopping?” Hermione asked while taking a handful of marbles from a bowl beside her.
Gathering the hats around him Harry watched the first test and from the excited sounds, Harry concluded it had worked. He’d have to get a move on with the rabbits.
They spent the evening sending transfigured creatures backwards and forwards before Dobby grew bored and went through the wardrobe himself. He popped out the other side looking delighted only to be greeted by an intense lecture from Hermione and Winky.
Harry winced but kept quiet mostly because he had been planning to do the same thing as his elf. But at least they knew it worked and more importantly elves could pass through. They needed it to get Kreature out the line of fire and to get Dobby into the manor to help with the Horcrux hunt.
“Well it works,” Hermione declared after finishing her part of the lecture. “I guess we go to bed and wait till Saturday unless you want to do it on Friday night?”
“No, the 21st is our best bet,” Draco assured them from the chair he’d moved to during the lecture. “Not only will we be more rested but Saturday’s the summer solstice and while it won’t affect things it just seems fitting that we do it on the longest day.”
“Oh, I hadn’t realised that was Saturday,” Hermione admitted. “I’ve been keeping track of days not dates recently.”
“As I said it doesn’t matter and we’ve been focused on Midsummer which is a bit later by the Christian calendar.”
“I think that it does matter,” Harry mused. “We know that Riddle is superstitious and that he uses dates of significance, Halloween, Midsummer etc. So, maybe he’s going to be more likely to act on that date than he would be otherwise.”
“You think he might fall into the trap and take part in the attack on the school,” Hermione guessed. “A bit like when he turned up at the Ministry.”
“Maybe or like at the Ministry he might commit more of his forces leaving him weaker after all he only turned up when things started to go wrong for his side,” Harry added.
“I think if nothing else the thought of attacking on a day seen to be light and taking the school would appeal to him,” Draco concluded. “But till then we have time to prepare and get sleep.” Harry nodded and got up. They had two days to rest and to iron out any kinks in their plan.
“Before we be having the meeting, Winky will be giving gifts,” The elf declared on Saturday morning when they all, including Kreature, brought through the wards by Dobby had gathered in the Room of Requirements. “Winky be finding battle robes and be making them fit. If you be fighting Dark Git, Winky be doing her all to be getting yous home. Winky be liking family and future, yous not allowed to be ruining Winky’s plans.”
“Thank you,” Harry said, taking the small pile of robes Winky passed him. His pile was much larger than the other two.
“Winky be giving you battle robes for your elves too. You can be ordering them to be worn and them not be clothes. They be worn she ordered,” Harry smiled, Winky really wasn’t letting anything get in the way of her plans.
Kreature had been brought through the Hogwarts wards the first time via the wardrobe just before the meeting began so as not to alarm the Order if they were keeping watch on him. Kreature assured them that he would be able to pop back and forth as needed to at least to the Room of Requirements, if not the whole school so they could use him in their plans.
Harry carefully ordered his two elves into the robes as Hermione did the same for Winky. Dobby looked rather dashing in his and Kreature looked more presentable than he did in his tea towel. Harry wondered if he could keep the elves in them.
“As great as they look, won’t they be suspicious of Kreature turning up dressed for battle to let Bellatrix know it’s time?” Harry asked after shrugging into his own set.
“They be hidden by elf glamour, Dark Idiots not be looking at elves too much to care,” Winky said looking proud.
They had decided to go with the original plan of Kreature informing the Death Eaters and moving the wardrobe. Snape was too much of a liability and none of them wanted him to know too much ahead of time and ruin their plan by interfering. If all went to plan, he would die without knowing what they did.
“So, let’s just go over this one more time,” said Harry, settling into place in front of Winky’s flip board. “After dinner, tonight at about half seven, don’t go for an on the dot time let’s look natural about this, Kreature pops over to the manor and tells Bellatrix that the wardrobe is ready, and you will move it after ten when night curfew has fallen. Kreature deliver your message and come straight back if you can.”
“Kreature have a strong bond and cause he be knowing the way now and be using it to make it through Hogwarts wards.”
“Tommy will be pissed about me dictating the terms of the invasion, but it gives him time to gather a big force to invade. I sent a message to Mother that I was nearly finished, and she said she’d pass on the message so they should be on standby already.”
“Good, so Kreature takes the repaired wardrobe and pops it over to the Manor, hopefully, Snape doesn’t get involved but he may be summoned as the school is being invaded. It depends on how trusting Riddle is feeling. We’re hoping that Draco isn’t summoned as he’s needed on this end and honestly, we have no idea if Riddle can tell the connection is broken and we really don’t want him to try and find out. Maybe we get Kreature to say something about Draco being needed at the end?” Harry suggested looking at the gathered group.
“Already covered, I hinted that I need to stabilise the cabinet with my magic, so they need to come through as a group quickly and I’ll greet them on this side. But yeah, let’s just drive that point home,” Draco agreed.
“So, while that’s going on Winky and Dobby move the other wardrobe, which I’m going to call Draco’s Cabinet from this point on so we can keep track of them, to an undisclosed location.”
“We not be telling you, so yous not be forced by Death Eaters or Ministry to be retrieving corpses. They be lost, it be the best thing to be happening to them,” Dobby confirmed.
“And you can get them there and yourselves out without being hurt?” Hermione asked.
“We be taking them to a magical well they not be able to do magics when there, but we can be doing enough to get in and out with Draco’s cabinet,” Dobby insisted, ears flapping with earnest excitement as he explained.
They had chosen the magic well as the location as none of them wanted to directly kill the Death Eaters by sending them to the bottom of the ocean or something similar. It was a minor point but one they felt comfortable with even with them likely dying by the end of the night, or at least that was the plan.
It also meant the Death Eaters would be less likely to question where they were as Draco had told them they were coming out in the Room of Requirements, somewhere they hadn’t been but was highly magical, so hopefully they wouldn’t immediately become suspicious and stop invading. But it also meant that if Voldemort did go through, they had a body they could easily retrieve to prove that he was dead.
“Then Draco’s cabinet is brought back to us leaving the Death Eaters trapped in the well. Kreature returns to tell us what happened at that end, such as who left and who stayed,” Harry continued to explain the plan.
“Kreature be doing as Master be asking, Kreature be wanting them dead for late Master Regulus,” the elf assured them, and Harry nodded. He had to trust the oaths, healing and a desire for revenge were enough for the elf to be loyal to him alone.
“So, this part isn’t without risk and if you feel in danger leave earlier and come back here or if injured go to the elf healing commune,” Harry ordered. “That goes especially for you Dobby.”
“Winky I want you to do that as well,” Hermione interrupted.
“Right,” Harry flipped to the next page of battle plans. “This is where we have a less solid plan in place. Mostly as we don’t know quite who’s where. But in essence, Draco, Hermione, Winky, Dobby and I sneak through Draco’s cabinet which is here temporarily and get into the manor. Kreature you then take Draco’s cabinet somewhere secure outside of the school and stay and guard it and Winky you guard my wardrobe in the Manor.”
“Winky be doing that,” she promised.
“Kreature be taking the cabinet to Azkaban,” he promised.
“Err, great points for creativity, but don’t get caught or hurt. Dobby you go with Hermione and try to find the last Horcrux, Draco and I go to lock down the manor wards through Draco claiming them so we have control of who can get in and out through other magical means and then we fight anybody left. Any questions?”
Hermione put her hand up before blushing and pulling it back down. “Kreature, can you cope with the dementors?”
“Kreature be doing elf magic like Patronus, but not be able to share,” the other two nodded and Harry figured they knew what he was talking about.
“What if Dobby and I find Tom instead of the Horcrux?” Hermione asked her next question.
“Hopefully you won’t, Dobby should be able to keep you safe, but I think I can loan the cloak to you, to keep you hidden, Death said that I could loan it to any there that night.”
“What if we find Tom before we lock down the wards?” Draco asked.
“I rip his arm off and beat him with the soggy end while you run to the ward stone?” Harry joked. “Honestly, we hope Dobby and Hermione render him, mortal, quickly enough that we can kill his form and end him forever. I’m not making any promises that this is safe, and you can back out now if you want.”
“Oh, Harry shush you’re being unnecessarily noble you won’t talk us out of it, and we know what we’re getting into so stop,’ Hermione scolded him. “There is and I hate to say it nothing more we can do but relax and enjoy the day, eat well and be ready for tonight. So, until six-thirty we shall go out and live.”
Unable to find fault in Hermione’s argument they got up and headed out. They’d live possibly their last day to the full, even if that meant not doing much at all but sitting in the sun with friends.
It had been a good day and Harry even managed to have treacle tart for pudding. They’d decided against using the last of the Felix Felicis as they couldn’t guarantee that the Room of Requirements wouldn’t dampen the effects again. That and the fact that when the good luck started to fade the bad set into counter the magical imbalance, and they couldn’t say how long their evening attack would be.
Harry and Hermione settled into their space choosing to sit in their own chairs. Harry kind of hoped he could also take the chair with him when they were done. It was rather hideous but comfy and it had been through a lot with him.
A strange wave of nostalgia for the past few months hit him. It would be over soon and then nothing would be the same. What would he do? Voldemort had been a key part of his life for longer than he knew that losing it would be freeing but also unnerving. He shook the morose thoughts off and focused on the now there was no point in planning for what had yet to come to fruition.
But Harry decided if one day he got bored enough to write his memoirs, he was going to call it “The lion, the wizard and the wardrobe that helped save wizarding Britain” and then dedicate the whole book to his house-elves. But first, they had to finish saving the country.
Draco slipped in before Harry could start planning the opening chapter of his hypothetical book. “All right?”
“Yeah, Snape was being clingy,” Draco said with a disgusted look. “I think somebody gave him a heads up that the attack would be soon, I think he thinks it next week though.”
“Good, what’s the time?” Harry asked and Hermione cast a Tempus.
“Nine past Seven a bit ahead of schedule but I think we should go for it. Sitting around won’t make us feel any better,” She replied.
“Right then, Draco?” Harry said standing up. Sitting down felt wrong. Maybe because it was easier to fight standing up?
“Let’s do this,” Draco agreed.
“Kreature it’s time,” Harry said, and the elf popped away before Harry had even finished the sentence. Apparently, he wasn’t the only impatient one.
The seconds ticked by and turned to minutes and Kreature didn’t reappear, Harry fought the urge to pace, to try and summon him back, anything. A hand slipped into his and Harry gripped it as tightly as he dared.
“It’s fine,” Hermione promised from beside him. “It’s fine, it’s fine.” She started to repeat it like a prayer but still, Kreature didn’t appear.
“Tempus,” Draco muttered, it had been over fifteen minutes. Dobby and Winky drifted closer to the wardrobes before they each placed a hand on one standing guard, perhaps prepared to spirit them away.
Harry spun towards the sound, wand in hand, he wasn’t the only one, Draco doing the same from the other side of the clearing.
“Kreature be sorry that it be taking so long. But it be hard to find Bellatrix to be telling her the full message. She being told the wardrobe ready and she run off giggling in excitement. It not be until she be calmed that Kreature be able to be saying that it be delivered after curfew.”
Harry let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. “That’s okay, Kreature we should have known how excitable Bellatrix is. Anything else happen?”
“Kreature be shown by old Malfoy where to be putting the wardrobe. There be lots of Death Eaters there. They be turning up more and more after Kreature give first part of the message. Kreature saw the Dark Lord he be looking happy in his tacky throne. Kreature to be putting the wardrobe in front of it.”
“Well fuck,” Harry sighed. “At least we know where the Dark Twit is likely to be. I bet he’s going to do a big old monologue before they go.”
“Kreature, did you recognise many of the ones who turned up?” Draco asked heading over to the flip chart to write the names down.
Harry watched Draco and the elf discuss who was there and who was likely to take part in an invasion and who was likely to stay. “It’s a case of hurry up and wait isn’t it,” Hermione said, coming to stand next to him. “Come on let’s go and learn more about our enemy.
They spent the next few hours discussing the strengths and weaknesses of those they knew to be there and who else was likely to arrive. Harry hoped that they would find Pettigrew in the Manor alive and human, he rather wanted to throw the traitor’s corpse at the Ministry and use him as evidence of their apathy and abuse.
With the Death Eaters and Dumbledore gone they’d have the chance to rebuild to make the world slightly better and undo what they’d done. It was a nice thought. A project for the future.
“It be twenty to ten, “Winky interrupted. “You be all going to the little witches and wizards room now before going to fight.”
“Merlin, nanny elves,” Draco muttered, making Harry and Hermione laugh but he put down his quill, nonetheless. They spent the next quarter of an hour relaxed and laughing and Harry wondered if that had been Winky’s plan all along.
“Winky can be staying with you,” the elf offered as they stood up and headed to the wardrobes.
“No Winky you go keep an eye on your elf he’s already proved himself recklessly brave,” Hermione said bending down and passing Winky her basilisk infused knife. Harry passed the rest of the blades out and they gathered around the repaired wardrobe, this was it. And with absolutely no fanfare Kreature popped away taking Harry’s wardrobe with him as the first bell struck the hour.
Dobby and Winky popped away seconds later, taking Draco’s cabinet as Harry had started to call it. A stool that had been wedged behind it slid down and crashed to the floor when its support suddenly disappeared.
“It feels wrong, sending the elves off to fight,” Harry admitted into the silence that followed the shifting furniture.
“Because you care, Harry. Merlin knows you’re probably the only one in this war who cares for the individuals who fight for your side,” Hermione said. “That’s why we follow you.”
“I’m not in charge, you did all the work, we’re a team,” Harry tried to explain.
“And teams have leaders and let’s face it Potter that’s you. You may not be the smartest or the best at everything but you’re damn inspirational. You think I’d be here because of anybody else. Who else steps in first and is willing to take responsibility. You,” Draco said with a scathing look Harry recognised even with it tempered by fondness. “Now stop being mushy and be prepared.”
Harry cast aside his doubts about leadership as best he could, he didn’t want to disappoint those who had given him such faith. Harry smiled he hadn’t realised he wasn’t fighting for anybody else but his family, but honestly that was just going to make him more dangerous.
Draco’s cabinet was back with Winky and Dobby, both of whom were grinning with delight. Thankfully they looked unharmed.
“They be coming though all quick and fast, lots of them. Dobby be going and ticking their names off the list,” The elf declared happily as he headed over to the flip chart.
“Winky and Dobby be doing as you be asking there be about fifty of them, we may be needing to write more names,” she added before going to help Dobby.
Kreature stood before them before he popped away with Draco’s Cabinet as quickly as he arrived. Before he had time to startle Kreature was back but without the furniture.
“Kreature be making school safe and not be leaving the wardrobe and school exposed. The Dark Lord not be saying he be coming through yet, but he be tricksy and Kreature not be trusting.”
“That’s great, good thinking, any news from that end?” Harry praised the elf, the last thing they wanted was Voldemort strolling through just as they tried to enter the wardrobe.
“There be a very boring speech, Kreature be having to listen to the end, there be lots of idiots they be rushing through and not even think to ask if it’s safe.” Kreature shook his head sadly at the stupidity he’d witnessed. “Dark Lord not be going but he be sending his circle through to control the other idiots. He also be sending Pettigrew to be warning Snape that they be coming. Dark Lord be going to get changed he want to be looking good when he arrives at the school, but he spent all evening gloating at poor fools who couldn’t escape him. He be thinking he wins and be planning a triumphant arrival.”
“Merlin, what dick,” Harry blurted out, gaining slightly incredulous laughs from the other two. “So, nobody is with the wardrobe? It’s just sitting there all vulnerable?”
“It be left unguarded, snake be going away too, the whole room empty in minutes maybe they not be wanting an encore of the speech,” Kreature muttered scornfully.
“Right then. Kreature go bring back Draco’s cabinet we may as well go through now, it’s our best bet,” Harry ordered pulling the invisibility cloak over his shoulder. The others gathered behind him and he felt them pull the fabric over their heads, it would be a tight fit but doable, they’d practised after all.
“Hopefully we get there after he’s finished changing,” muttered Malfoy.
“Speaking from the traumatising experience of his rebirth it’s not a sight you want to see,” Harry agreed.
Kreature was back with Draco’s cabinet and they had nothing to stop them. Harry opened the door and they all squeezed in. Fumbling Harry opened the door he could feel in front of him and stepped a little ungracefully out into an empty ballroom.
Carefully Harry cast Revelio. There was no reaction to the spell. He shrugged the cloak off passing it to Hermione and Dobby, who quickly wrapped themselves in it.
“I be feeling nasty bits of soul in house. It be in two places one be upstairs, and one be in the…” Dobby cocked his head to the side concentrating. “It be in the conservatory, Dobby be thinking.
“Right, not quite what we expected but let’s head that way. Hermione, you follow us and we’ll pull any spell fire we encounter. We have to go that way as well to get to the wards,” Harry ordered. “Winky you stay and guard my wardrobe ok?”
“Winky be making sure it be safe,” she promised.
Draco took the lead and they followed him carefully out of the room. Harry felt better as soon as they were in the corridor, having a wall to his back and something more than a wardrobe to hide behind was a relief.
The manor was silent, hopefully, it meant Narcissa had gotten away and the Malfoy elves were laying low. There were thankfully no portraits in the hall, Riddle having ordered them moved as he didn’t like seeing other family legacies Harry supposed. Though Draco was a Malfoy they were still loyal to Lucius and who knew what they had been ordered to do? That’s why they needed the wards to take control and stop any escape attempts.
“Dobby you still know the way?” Draco whispered when they reached a second hallway.
“Dobby be knowing.”
“Good, this way Potter,” Draco said moving down the right-hand side passage. As they passed further into the house Harry could hear the sounds of voices. Pettigrew.
“But Snape you’re not listening, the attack is already taking place, they’re in Hogwarts just because they’re not burning the place to the ground yet doesn’t mean they won’t start any moment. They’re waiting till curfew has settled less chance of resistance, you need to get up there to help them,” whined Pettigrew.
An open door let light fall into the corridor. Draco pointed at the door and nodded. This was their destination, Lucius’ office. According to Draco there once had been wards in place keeping people out, but Tommy didn’t like the word no and so everywhere became accessible, apart from Tommy’s room.
“Sounds like a floo call, Snape will see whoever goes in. So, let’s put the disillusionment charms in place and you take out Pettigrew and I’ll shut down the floo and get the wards,” Draco whispered.
Harry carefully cast the charm. They’d held off doing them so they could see each other and not accidentally hit each other if a fight occurred. But this wasn’t going to be a protracted fight, Pettigrew was vulnerable, but a coward and Harry wasn’t going to give him another chance. He’d had enough.
While Harry wanted to do something painful and messy to the man, he decided to keep it simple, less chance for things to go wrong and quieter too. A simple banishing charm into the wall. It would be enough to stun him if not more.
Harry wasn’t aiming to kill him. He wasn’t going to risk even a temporary stain on his soul or reputation for such a pathetic man. No Harry was going to let the man’s own actions end him. But he also wasn’t going to trust in any honour the rat had either.
Carefully Harry walked up to the doorway and slipped through the gap, a few feet from Pettigrew he cast silently. Pettigrew flew into the wall and hit with a satisfying thud. Harry quickly cast again and again petrifying and binding the unconscious form.
Snape didn’t have time to appreciate the silent casting he’d spent the last year teaching Harry in Defence classes as Draco managed to shut down the floo connection before he turned himself visible once more.
Harry watched the doorway still under the disillusionment charm, in case somebody heard the thud Pettigrew had made and came to investigate. Draco moved towards the bookcase and opened the secret door.
They’d already discussed this part of the plan. The family magic was such that Harry wouldn’t be able to go into the room with the ward stone, but Draco had to. What they weren’t sure of was how much effort it would take to gain control of the family magics with his Father still alive.
The worst-case option was simply he wouldn’t be able to get control, but Draco figured that was unlikely. He figured the family magic would prefer him especially as Death had broken the connection with the Dark Mark. No, their biggest problem was that it could leave Draco so magically exhausted he wouldn’t be able to fight and have to stay in there to be safe.
Harry heard voices and after a moment realised, they were from outside. A patrol was walking past the window, moving carefully Harry manoeuvred the unconscious Pettigrew out of view so as not to arouse suspicion if they glanced inside.
While it would be easier to transfigure him Harry resisted, he needed, for his sake, a human body with Dark mark and missing fingers. Harry figured it was rather brilliant that they had both the missing finger and the dark ritual hand. It painted such a glorious picture of devotion that not even the biggest bleeding heart could ignore. Pettigrew was a willing Death Eater.
A sudden surge of magic ripped out of the room and Harry struggled to keep his feet and control his magic, so he let himself fall to his knees. Confused shouting echoed around the house and Harry looked up to a wide-eyed Draco who stood with a bloody knife over a glowing stone.
“Merlin, tell me you used the right blade?” Harry gasped out.
Draco glanced down at the knife in his hand. “Yeah. No basilisk poisoning. Fuck I’ve got the wards.”
“Are they locked? Can you fight?” Harry demanded getting to his feet. He realised at some point he’d lost control of his spell and was visible. He shrugged it off, they’d already lost the element of surprise.
“Yeah nobody in, nobody out, the Malfoy elves aren’t here I can’t feel them, but I reckon Mother sent them away to be safe. I can fight not sure how well, I may overpower things so stay out of my range. I can feel fourteen people and two elves inside the wards. Not sure where they are but I think they’ll all be on their way here. I’ve tightened the wards upstairs, Riddle’s trapped in his room for now, but he will fight his way out.”
Draco walked out of the room getting more confident as he did. “Help me throw Pettigrew out the window, I don’t want them waking him,” Harry said while Draco got the window open so Harry could levitate Pettigrew out. He wasn’t particularly careful as he ended the spell and let Pettigrew fall, he figured he may owe Draco a new rose bush.
The sound of voices and pounding feet started to echo down the corridor. “Conservatory,” Draco suggested and the pair of them slipped out of the office. The footsteps were getting close but nobody was yet in sight.
They made it past the ballroom intersection and were well on the way to the conservatory before they felt the first brush of spellfire. “Draco shield,” Harry ordered as he knocked a side table into the hall for them to shelter behind.
A group of eight Death Eaters, young ones not even bothering to don their masks were behind them. Harry was immensely grateful he didn’t know them as he returned fire, dropping two of them instantly.
Harry didn’t hold back, casting silently and regularly getting another few down in a couple of minutes, Draco’s shield didn’t waver. Another dropped and the remaining two panicked. One cast Avada Kedavra. The green light streaked towards them and they both ducked behind the side table.
It rocked with the impact but held. Harry flung a few nasty curses over the top. He hadn’t been fighting nicely but now he was fighting hard. “Don’t waste your magic,” Draco snapped at him. “Save it for Tom.”
That said Draco threw a few similarly nasty curses at the last two. A thump indicated they were down to one. “Resistant little buggers aren’t they,” Harry hissed, giving him a dirty look for the hypocrisy. The next volley of spellfire he sent was toned down, but still effective in taking down the last Death Eater.
“Probably werewolves. Greyback brought a pack with him and likes them young. Thankfully I don’t know them so don’t get guilty about making me attack friends or family.”
“That’s eight down, we’re three and Pettigrew and Tom are two, there’s one more person in here, Winky and Dobby are the two elves,” Harry said as he got up heading down the corridor with Draco at his back once more.
“Ollivander, probably if he’s still alive they took him nearly a year ago, so let’s not bet on it. So, stay alert” Draco guessed. “If it’s Ollivander he’ll be no help after a year of torture and being locked in the dungeons.”
“You would have thought Tom would leave more men here, as guards and whatnot,” Harry muttered as they got up and continued to the conservatory.
“Not really,” Draco disagreed. “There aren’t that many Death Eaters; most people in Britain aren’t actually involved in the war. But of those that are some are probably at work and fifty or so of them are now trapped in a magical well. I know most people make it sound like an all-out civil war but there’s a reason they didn’t even take up a whole floor in Azkaban last time around and it’s not just that they bought their freedom.”
“Seriously? That few? Well fuck this country and its cowardice,” Harry muttered. But then again there were only a handful of people he’d ever seen at Order meetings so maybe the number of Death Eaters wasn’t as unexpected as he first felt.
“Fear is great for compliance,” Draco agreed, a scream cut off anything more as they both ran all out towards the sound. “I can still feel fourteen people inside the wards, nobody’s died.”
Harry didn’t respond but ran faster into the conservatory. At the end of the room, he could see Hermione fighting a giant snake. Thankfully not as big as the basilisk but still dangerous especially if it was Riddles familiar, the one that ate muggles whole.
Dobby was flinging what looked like the remains of a stone fountain at the snake slowing down its approach as Hermione cast spell after spell at it.
“It’s charmed to resist most things, it’s his familiar,” Draco yelled. The snake reacted to his voice spinning towards them towards hissing angrily.
“It’s fucking batshit. Killing it would be a mercy,” Harry shouted after listening to the disjointed rambling of the snake. The snake started towards them, so Harry darted to the left. The snake followed him.
“It’s the bloody Horcrux, that’s why,” Hermione shouted back. Harry wasn’t sure if it was in response to him or Draco or maybe both, it covered both.
“Fucking knife throwing it is. Draco help me distract it. Hopefully, we just need to hit it with a venom blade and not in a particular spot,” Harry managed to say while flinging fire and ice at the snake to stop it from getting too close.
“If we have to just hit one spot, I’m burning the place the fuck down. It can’t survive that,” Draco agreed, joining in slowing the snake down. “Dobby watch the door for any Death Eaters.”
Harry started to hiss insults at the snake, it shot across the floor towards him far faster than he expected. He managed to get out the way before it struck. For a moment he wished he had his broom so he wouldn’t be stuck on the floor with it. “Get off the ground if you can.”
Hoping that others followed his advice Harry engaged in a battle of speed and insults with the snake. His spells doing nothing but slow down the snake’s advances hopefully giving one of the others time to strike. He didn’t want to throw his knife considering how obsessed the snake was he might need it close to hand.
Harry figured that the others were trying to get its focus, with their shouting and spells but the snake remained unshaken in its hunt for him. It was just as obsessed at its master in getting Harry. He threw a couple of cutting charms at it and watched them bounce off.
He didn’t think he’d been so invulnerable as a Horcrux in fact he remembered some rather nasty injuries. Maybe the snake had been willing and that was the difference. But whatever the reason it was damn inconvenient.
It was herding him Harry realised when he had a moment to glance around, trying to trap him in an alcove. He could use that. He saw Hermione frantically waving her hands trying to get his attention. He spared her a nod but didn’t take his eyes off the snake. He dove to the side as the snake lunged, its body sailed over the top of him brushing his arm, as he tried to catch it with the blade. He rolled up onto his feet again.
Close, but not close enough, hopefully, the snake would agree and try again and give him another shot. He backed down the path hoping that Dobby was clearing the broken table and chairs from his path, falling over would probably be fatal. He needed to get a bit further before the snake struck again.
Not bothering to hide the snake slid down the middle of the path, its eyes focused on Harry and Harry alone. A few more feet Harry reckoned, and they might be able to take it down. He backed up more and the snake followed.
Hermione had climbed a pergola and was hiding in the foliage, knife in hand focused on the snake. Harry figured he had to go a few more steps and she might be able to hit the snake. Possibly a safer bet than letting it strike at him again.
Hermione shifted slightly; the snake so focused on Harry it didn’t notice. Harry drifted to the left and the snake followed, hopefully giving Hermione a better aim.
A scream from Hermione broke the standoff and then another more unnatural one followed as her knife nicked the snake. Hermione fell backwards from where she had landed, backing away from the writhing snake and the wraith billowing from its mouth before disappearing. A third scream full of rage echoed from within the manor.
“Well, then that worked. Good job Harry,” Hermione said, getting up and brushing off her jeans.
“You’re all fucking insane,” Draco muttered from behind Harry, looking up to where Hermione been before dropping down on the snake, knife first. Harry agreed.
“I thought you were just going to throw the knife, not yourself too,” Harry said slightly breathless from the adrenaline.
“It worked though. I didn’t want to miss with the knife and who knows if throwing it would have been enough to sink in, at least this put a bit of force into the stabbing action,” She replied looking rather smug.
“If not for the pissed off Dark Bastard headed this way, I’d kiss you,” Harry said. “Draco help me get some kind of barrier system in place. I reckon he’ll come in cursing.”
“Bloody reckless Gryffindor’s,” Draco was muttering before he suddenly froze with a wince of pain. “Tom’s coming fast, he’s just broken the wards keeping him penned in.”
The four of them hastily threw together a series of barriers across the room made of broken furniture and fittings enough to stop an unforgivable but not enough to pen them in. A sudden scream of pain echoed down the corridor towards them.
“Eleven, we’re down to eleven people inside the wards, I think he just killed some of the baby Death Eaters we downed,” Draco said with a wince. “I can feel people hitting the wards too. I think he’s trying to summon more followers.”
“But they’re not getting through?” Harry checked.
“No. But don’t count on me in this fight, I can’t concentrate with them hitting the wards like this.”
“I’ll cover him. Dobby you stick on Harry,” Hermione ordered as she ushered Draco behind a barricade at the back of the room.
“Go out the window if you need to,” Harry suggested and moved forward, hopefully, the man was as obsessed as the snake and wouldn’t notice the other two. “Dobby you hide behind that one and just focus on keeping the barriers as together as you can, don’t discriminate or he’ll figure out which ones we’re behind.” Dobby slid behind the barrier that Harry had pointed him to.
“Potter,” hissed a voice from the doorway, Harry ducked behind the closest barricade. “Come out with the cowardly traitor brat and I’ll kill you quickly.”
Harry stayed quiet. The lessons with Dumbledore hadn’t been completely worthless, in fact, they had helped a lot, but probably not in the way Dumbledore intended. Tom had an ego and Harry figured ignoring the bastard would piss him off more than engaging.
“Come on child, it’ll be quick, and you can be with your Mother and Father, your dear Godfather,” Riddle hissed in a mockery of comfort. Still, Harry held his silence.
“Avada Kedavra,” green light whistled overhead and fizzled out on the wall leaving a burnt crater where it hit. Tom stood in the doorway wand in hand and Harry noted, thankfully dressed. “You’re going to pay for Nagini, but compliance will earn you less suffering.”
He was a bit shit at negotiation, Harry realised. Probably why he hadn’t made it far in life or devoted himself to politics. This kind of impatient insanity wasn’t new to Harry, the problem was it was often indulged by the populace for too long. Tom was a bit like Dudley really.
A few more curses flew overhead wildly and without focus. The more magical energy Riddle wasted throwing around curses without aim the better it would be when Harry finally did face him.
Tom walked further into the room and the golden light from the evening sun lit the wand held out in front of him. It was a new one. Possibly one which wouldn’t react to Harry’s. Riddle’s fear may well have become his downfall. Harry threw a banish charm over the top of his barricade and watched Riddle deflect it with a shield, he cast another and the same thing happened. No Prior Incantatem.
The duel was on. Riddle flung spell after spell at the barricade Harry was behind, slowly undoing the elf magic holding it together. Harry carefully moved to hide behind another, the dust being kicked up from the spells covering his movement. Maybe it wasn’t a glorious battle but fuck it, it was working, and Harry was intent on surviving not giving anybody a fight to wax poetically about.
“Avada Kedavra” the spell hit the ground where Harry had been hiding a few moments before. But he was gone and the pissed of screech Riddle made when he realised this was music to Harry’s ears. “Come on Potter, no need to hide, come out and fight, die a man.”
Harry sat silently. Every time he’d stood up and fought Voldemort It hadn’t gone well it certainly hadn’t been a victory. In fact, hiding behind the graves in the cemetery and flinging spells had been the best fight he managed so Harry was reverting to those tactics.
“You know, you must, the prophecy demands it, why drag out your suffering. It’s too late to win, you know, I’ve taken the school. All your little friends are dead or bowing to me.”
Maybe once Harry would have surged to his feet screaming lair and engaged in a duel. But not this time. Harry had nothing to prove to Riddle and wasn’t that liberating.
“Potter enough, come fight,” a barrage of spells started to hit a barricade but not one that he or the others were hiding behind.
Harry silently watched until that one was destroyed and then the next. Fight smarter not harder was obviously not something Tom had learnt. After a fourth barricade was destroyed, slower than the rest Harry decided it was time to act. Riddle was getting exhausted, but he was also getting closer to where Hermione and Draco were hiding.
Harry cast a rapid chain of spells at Voldemort, a few hit the shield that quickly went up, but he still managed to push him back. Harry cast a few more and the shield rippled but didn’t fail.
An explosion rocked the ground in front of his current barricade and once again using the cover of the dust Harry moved location. His next spell a simple cutting charm made it past the shield, Voldemort not expecting an attack from a new direction. It struck Harry wasn’t sure where, but it had made Riddle drop, unfortunately in all the debris Harry couldn’t quite see where.
Harry carefully peered over the top of his shelter only to see spells headed towards him. He sunk down again, and the spells went over his head.
Not down and out, Harry realised but changing tactics and copying Harry, not presenting such a large target to hit. Harry could work with that, he waited out another volley of spells he didn’t recognise, dark but less powerful than others that had been used Harry realised as the scorch marks from where they hit the walls barely evident. Certainly not the burnt-out craters that had been left at the start.
Harry debated asking him to surrender, but there was no point Tom wouldn’t, he couldn’t not after committing his everything to the war for so long. So, Harry remained silent. Riddle didn’t deserve his words, his insults or his pity.
Spells flew back and forwards for a while longer. Harry didn’t keep track of the time; only the slowly sinking sun changing the light from gold to a soft pink indicated the passage of time. A few spells skimmed over him and Harry cast a handful of piercing and banishing charms back.
A few minutes passed and nothing further came towards him, but Harry didn’t drop his guard. The silence stretched and Harry carefully shifted his foot which was starting to cramp but no spells flew at him.
“Four,” Draco’s voice called out, startling him.
“Four?” Harry called back confused for a moment why Draco chose to break cover.
“Four people and two elves in the wards and none trying to get through. He’s dead Harry, they all are.”
Harry had thought he’d get up and joyously hug his friends in his moment of victory. He didn’t. He fell back on his arse and looked out a window and watched the fading colours from the last moments of the sunset while listening to Hermione’s quiet tears.
It was over and that was it. It was over and he hadn’t bloody noticed, how anticlimactic. Not that he could complain it was the type of fight that Harry had decided he wanted. He’d done his time heroically waving swords around when he was twelve.
Harry shifted slightly, a bit of chair frame was digging into his back and he noticed his face was stinging, he looked down and his hands were covered in small cuts, shrapnel from the explosions? Harry hadn’t noticed. There was more blood on his left arm. He poked it and winced; maybe he’d caught a spell. He’d have to thank Winky for her battle robes, they’d probably saved his life and at least his limb.
He heard more sounds from behind him and then Hermione and Draco were sitting beside him, and Dobby had produced a first aid kit from somewhere and was tying a bandage around his arm.
“You be lucky that you be wearing Winky’s robes or you be losing an arm, Dobby be doing what he can, but you be going to a healer tonight.”
“Thank you, I hadn’t noticed,” Harry admitted.
“You be busy fighting,” Dobby said, giving his arm a consoling pat.
“You okay?” he asked the other two. “Winky?”
“Were fine Potter, Merlin that was something. Winky’s fine I can feel her in the wards. Somebody died or disappeared during the fight as I felt them go but then they all suddenly went,” Draco said in a slightly muffled voice. Harry glanced over and he had his head in his hands.
“Dobby you can go check on Winky we’ll be fine sitting here,” Harry said. With a dead Riddle and a dead mad snake and a wound on his arm, he’d done this before, he thought almost hysterically his first and last Horcrux.
“Sorry about the conservatory and your Father but right now I’m mostly sorry about the conservatory,” Harry admitted.
“It’s fine I mean if the Ministry rocks up and tries to turn it into a bloody morbid tourist attraction like they did your cottage, we’ll have a problem. But right now, let’s shut up and watch the fucking stars come out.”
They sat for a while watching the stars appear as the last of the daylight faded. But the cramp in his foot came back so he got up. “Would it be morbid to go over there to see what happened?”
“Probably,” Hermione replied. “Pull me up and I’ll go with you.” Harry reached down and pulled her up, he briefly let go of her hand before she retook it.
“Go on, I’ll be here,” Draco waved them off. Carefully picking over the rubble they made it over to where they’d last seen spellfire.
Harry didn’t know quite what he expected, dust, a pile of robes maybe. Instead, he got a perfectly average dead body and a pool of blood. “Huh. Do we just leave it there?”
“I guess so, people, the Ministry and what not will want to come and confirm he’s dead,” Hermione added, looking away from the remains.
“Bloody morbid tourist attraction,” Draco said from behind them, he’d gotten up without Harry noticing. “It’s gone the mark, you know; I didn’t doubt Death… but still.”
“Hope’s a terrible thing,” Harry agreed. “You know I don’t have a sodding clue about what to do next. I mean does anybody even know, what happened this evening?”
“I suspect they do. A whole load of free-range Death Eaters probably just dropped dead, same as the ones here but at home or at work. More people are missing. I suspect Snape caused a stink at Hogwarts before he croaked it. But you’ve got a point Harry what do we do?” Draco said looking around kicking aimlessly sending a bit of glass flying. “We didn’t fucking plan this far ahead because of fucking hope.”
“They all be dead in the hall. Dobby be moving them, they be a tripping hazard,” Dobby interrupted. “Winky be ok and she be quickly popping back to Hogwarts, Dobby be wondering if he should be taking the living wand man to healers?”
“Yes, get him out of here and come back,” Harry ordered, at least it solved the mystery of who the fourth person was.
“Well, that’s good? Let’s go sit with Winky in the ballroom, it’ll be nicer than here,” Hermione suggested.
“She be pleased. She be bringing yay the Dark Lord is dead cake and lemonade from Hogwarts after I be telling her it be safe; she be saying you be coming to have it now.” Dobby popped off.
“Fucking nanny elves,” Draco snarled even as he stalked past them heading off towards the ballroom.
“You know, I think elves are the single most terrifying magical being there are,” Hermione said, taking Harry’s hand as they carefully made their way out the conservatory. “You best send Kreature a message to stand down too.”
Harry sent off a quick Patronus ordering Kreature away from Azkaban and back to Grimmauld Place or the Room of Requirements, if neither of those was an option due to the Order, he was to go to Hermione’s parent’s house.
“You think he just evicted the Order? I doubt he’ll ever willingly set foot at a muggle house,” Harry asked as he went down the corridor ignoring the damage from his first fight of the night.
The ballroom, the wardrobe and Winky remained untouched. “Thank you Winky, how was it in here?” Hermione asked as she took her slice of cake.
“The ugly little rat man came running. Winky be hiding so he not be seeing Winky but if he be wanting to be taking himself to Azkaban, Winky not be arguing. So, Winky did nothing as he opened the wardrobe door and trotted his little arse into prison.”
“Well, what can you do,” Harry shrugged in agreement. “Do you want to move this back to the school or call the Ministry here? Either way, I think we need to secure the wardrobes first. Being able to circumvent wards as they do isn’t going to make them popular.”
“Call the Ministry here I reckon otherwise we’ll have to put up with Dumbles and his motley band of sycophants controlling the narrative and I honestly don’t want to have to explain a hundred times that I didn’t abduct you as a gift-wrapped present to my Lord and Master,” Draco sighed and flopped down beside the wardrobe and accepted a piece of cake that Winky handed him.
“True. Plus, it gives us time to figure out what we’re going to say and to who. With Draco controlling the wards, we can get the right people in and keep the others out. But I reckon we may need to make a vow of some kind because I don’t think letting the truth of Horcruxes get out will do any good or as Harry pointed out the wardrobes,” Hermione said, also settling down.
“Or the elves, I’m not saying we don’t say they helped just that the amount of power they showed is likely to make the weaker magicals scared and scared people are violent and reckless. Getting the elves persecuted isn’t exactly a thank you,” Harry added.
“I’m in favour of calling Mother in, she has enough influence to control the situation and narrative and we can just be sacred sad and traumatised teens failed by the establishment,” Draco said from where he sat leaning against the wardrobe eating cake.
Harry figured it was more a desire to make sure his Mother survived. But Narcissa was likely in a position to help, more than they were right now. “Sure, do you need to call Kreature or… you have your own elves now don’t you?”
“Yep. But you might as well call Kreature. He can let us know what’s going on out there.”
Kreature arrived quietly and was quickly handed a slice of cake by Winky and made to join their impromptu picnic. He did so with ill grace.
“Kreature be securing Master Harry’s property and all the Order be remove, the house be loaned till Dark Lord threat be dealt with and now it be done, they all be getting gone,” Kreature said after taking a grudging bite of cake. “They not be happy about it but Kreature not be caring. Most of them be already gone to the school to protect it from invasion but some were still there in case it be going wrong and they need to retreat to safe place and have people who know about the cause and their plans if the fighters all get dead. The ones they left not be fighters, so it be easy to evict them and change wards enough to keep them out.”
“How optimistic of them, I’m so glad I chose you Harry over them,” Draco muttered.
“Kreature be guarding wardrobe at Azkaban, one Death Idiot come running out, but he not be knowing where he was and then the dementor be making him freeze. His soul be eaten like ice cream and he just be laying there till he be dead. Kreature be thinking that be it, and then Master be telling Kreature it be done.”
“Pettigrew lost his soul before he died?” Harry asked and got a nod from his elf. How ironic, but at least the body would likely be found by the Aurors, one less for them to tidy up. “What about the ones in the magical well do we know how they are doing?”
“They likely be dead, Winky can be checking?”
“Leave it some of them might not have been marked and not dead yet, they might be able to get out, but more than likely they’ll turn on each other and be gone by sunrise,” Draco suggested.
“A bit cold but considering its Greyback. I think I can stomach it,” Harry admitted, glancing over to Hermione who was nodding. “Why don’t you tell us what was happening at the school when you went back to get the picnic.”
“Winky be already making a picnic and be putting it in a safe place in the kitchens. When Dobby be saying it over, she be going and getting it as you all be hungry after fighting. But the school-elves be in a lot of panic when Winky made it to the Kitchens. They be finding Professor Snape dead in the corridor he be clutching his arm where the Dark Mark be, and it all be red a swollen when they checked.”
“Merlin, am I glad I’m free of it,” Draco hissed briefly, touching his arm where the mark had been.
“Dumbles be saying Tommy killed him as Snape failed a test and was found to be a spy, Dumbles be believing the invasion a trick, or that what he be saying to the Order. They all be milling around, they not even think to be asking where all the students are,’ Winky tutted showing her disapproval over their lack of care.
“They don’t know we’re missing from the school?” Harry asked. Maybe they could sneak back in without giving it away. Although dealing with the fallout from a dead Voldemort sounded more fun than a dead Snape.
“McGonagall be asking the elves to be checking the students and she be knowing yous be gone. Winky be giving the elves a note saying you be safe to give her. But Dumbles already be sending the Order out to rescue you. He be staying behind in his office to have a cry and maybe a nap, Winky doesn’t know as she wasn’t there very long. Better to come back and be checking on her family”
“Thanks, Winky you found out a lot in your brief visit,” Hermione praised. “So, staying here appeals. I don’t want to get dragged to wherever the Order thinks safe now they’ve lost access to the Black family place. And I also can’t wait until that Fidelius Charm is lifted on that place.”
“Or Dumbles dies and it falls. He’s sounding frail and that means he’s less likely to personally act against us, we may just have to wait him out,” Harry pointed out.
“We’re not missing the last few weeks of school because of this Harry James Potter, we will sort this out, quickly,” Hermione said, making Draco laugh.
“Telling the ministry would…”
“Draco?” A voice called from outside the room interrupting Harry, he raised his wand, but just as fast a beaming Draco was on his feet.
“Mother? We’re in the ballroom, how did you know to come back?”
“The elves darling, they said you were calling them home,” Narcissa, hair perfect and clothes immaculate stood in the doorway. “Is there room at your picnic for one more?”
“Of course, Mother, may I introduce my friends Miss Hermione Granger, her elf Winky and her boyfriend Mr Harry Potter and his elves Dobby, who you know and Kreature who you probably also know. They’ve just helped widow you.”
“Have they now,” Narcissa Malfoy gave them a delighted smile. “They have my thanks then, but they have my eternal gratitude for saving you Draco.” Harry gave her an awkward smile.
“Mother, really. But come sit down, let us explain,” Draco said leading his Mother over to the group. She sat down daintily, and Harry settled down as well until they were sitting once more in a rough circle, Hermione tucked under his good arm.
“Well then, tell me what’s going on?” Narcissa asked.
“It’s a long story. But I think Mother we need your help you see; we’ve made a bit of a mess and we don’t know what to do. But it all started…”