Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter, there would’ve been a Harem. He deserves it after all the things I made him do.
It all happened in a slow motion sequence. Harry and Hermione looked at each other with serious expressions on their faces and nodded after some non-verbal communication. They stepped back from each other and quickly drew their wands. This was a time for happiness and joy for the most well-known light family in the Wizarding World. Of course Voldemort or his lackeys were going to make an appearance. Many people were only just realizing that something strange had happened; heads were still turning toward the silver cat as it vanished. Silence spread outward in cold ripples from the place where the Patronus had landed. Then somebody screamed.
Hermione was about to run into the now quickly turning chaotic crowd before Harry grabbed her arm gently. Before she could question him he rose up his wand toward the crowd and yelled, “Accio Ron!” He turned towards the Burrow’s direction. “Accio escape bag!” Nothing happened for a second, just yells and shrieks and cracks of Dissapparition. Then a figure flew over the heads of everyone still there towards them—a red-haired figure. Harry caught Ron with a grunt while Hermione caught a black suitcase that seemed fairly small to pack a bunch of clothes. Harry grabbed Hermione’s arm and looked at her again. They nodded and Hermione turned on the spot. Harry could’ve sworn he saw either a stray curse or a perfectly aimed curse come his way, which most likely announced the arrival Death Eaters, depending on the spell that was cast by the sickly purple color. Apparently Dolohov wasn’t the only one who knew that spell. Before he could ponder this, the nauseating feeling of air leaving ones entire body overcame Harry. He felt like he was traveling through space, and couldn’t breathe. He held a tighter grip on Hermione and Ron. When his feet touched the ground, Harry chanced to open his eyes. He was on a sidewalk of a wide street. He looked over to Hermione curiously.
“We’re at Tottenham Camp Road,” Hermione said as she opened Harry’s bag a little. “It just popped into my head. Are you and Ron alright?”
Harry looked down at Ron and noticed that his head had a small scrape on it. He also heard Ron’s ragged breathing starting to ease. “I’m alright. He’s alright too, just out of it. I’m not sure if it was a stray curse or he got hit by something when I summoned him. Should I revive him?”
Hermione looked around to see nobody watching at the moment. “Yes, please do that… we need to find somewhere to change… ”
“What the bloody hell was that?”
Harry let Ron on the ground so he could walk on his own after reviving him. “Death Eaters, I think, came when we left. I guess that means our little trip starts now?” Hermione nodded confirmation while Ron shook his head.
“I know that those were Death Eaters coming, but how did I fly through the air like that? And how did we get here? And where are we? And why?”
“I summoned you, Hermione disapparated us, we’re on Tottenham Camp Road, and we need to change out of this,” Harry replied, smiling at the overly curious redhead.
Hermione handed him the Cloak and some clothes. “Thanks for remembering to pack, Harry, and being prepared. I told you about my bag, but I can’t open it now… too many organized books that might fall. I suggest you put on the cloak when no one’s looking… Harry, this is an ingenious expansion charm!” She said with pride. How did you do it?”
“I asked Mrs. Weasley,” He said when they stepped into an alley. “I talked with her, and she finally decided that if we were going to go, she would make sure we were going to be prepared. She actually said she was going to start baking treacle tart tomorrow morning. Life is very unfair,” he muttered, causing Ron to laugh and Hermione to yell (in a whisper) at Ron to stop attracting attention, although he could almost feel the smile when she yelled. He put on the cloak and changed while Ron got his clothes from Hermione and she turned her back. “Where are your clothes, Hermione?” Harry asked when he was done dressing.
“They’re in the bag, but I’m not going to change until we find some place to go… We could always go to my house, but it’s not really a safe place to go. Grimmauld Place is out because Snape can go there—”
“Wouldn’t they have protection there against Snape? It’s not like they left him a note at the front porch telling him to stay out or something.”
Hermione chuckled a bit but flinched as two drunks across the street yelled to her.
“All right, darling?” the drunkest of the men yelled. “Fancy a—?”
But he stopped in mid-sentence. Hermione looked across the street in curiosity to see that he was still yelling, but no sound came out of his mouth. She looked at Ron questionably. He shrugged. When she was about to ask if Harry did it, she heard a whisper in her ear.
“Silencing charms are a wonderful spell, aren’t they?” Hermione laughed.
“Let’s sit here,” Hermione said after a few seconds of looking at the places of where to rest, looking at an all-night café. Harry casually walked in and clipped to the first table with Hermione following, leaving Ron to sit on the opposite, his back facing the door. Harry could finally feel the Polyjuice effects wearing off and his body returning to normal. He snuck out his wand and shrunk his clothes to fit him. He put back on his glasses when Ron said, “You, know, we’re not far from the Leaky Cauldron here—”
“It’ll be easy to find us there!” Harry whispered urgently.
“I know, but we need to know what’s going on, at least.”
“Voldemort’s taken over the Ministry. Anything else?”
“Okay… no, I guess that’s about it.”
The waitress came over and Hermione ordered three cappuccinos: she said two for her and one for Ron. Harry had to remember to thank her later, as he knew that she wasn’t going to drink two. A pair of strong looking workmen entered the café and squeezed into the next booth. He felt something buzzing in his pocket, but he was too busy eyeing one of them suspiciously. He whispered to Hermione, “That guy looks familiar.”
She turned her head to look back at them and Harry could swear that she froze up for a second as a small wheeze came from the back of her throat, causing his heart to skip a beat. She quickly looked back, her eyes wide. “I would know that face anywhere,” She said to herself, but Harry heard her. “That’s… that’s… ”
“Who is it, Hermione?” Harry asked, worried. “Is it a Death Eater?” She slowly, hesitantly nodded. Harry looked over at the two men, who were taking discreet glances at them. He finally remembered who he was. He had to choke back a growl. “Dolohov,” He said in a low, anger-filled voice.
Ron tensed. “W-what?” he said softly.
Hermione shushed him quickly and quietly. “Be quiet, Ron!” She whispered as Harry lifted his legs up and sat with his feet on the seat. “And don’t make a scene, Harry,” Hermione said, sensing his movement.
“It’s not like they aren’t going to,” Harry, said, his voice soft, but Hermione could feel the anger in him at the moment. Apparently, he could remember that night at the Ministry quite well. There was still a small mark on her chest from that incident. “Besides, this is just the element of surprise on our side. I’ll be right back. I have some unfinished business to attend to.” He raised himself to full height and jumped over the seat swiftly and silently. Wand still in hand, he crouched down low and whispered to Hermione, “Act normal and don’t try to leave until I cast a spell. And I would look away if I were you.”
“Yes,” Harry asked patiently, his eyes still focused on the ‘workmen’.
“I-… I- be careful,” She stuttered softly, tears filling her eyes.
He tore his eyes away from them and looked at her for a second. “You, too,” He said just as soft and looked back at them. He raised his wand at the Death Eaters, who were oblivious to the approaching Wizard. He took a few steps closer and pointed it at the back of Dolohov’s head. He waited until the waitress was rudely waved away from their table and let all of the anger and pure hatred that he had on Dolohov for over a year transfer into one word.
The dazzlingly bright red beam shot out of his wand and through the cloak towards Dolohov and hit him straight in the nose when he tried to face the man who chanted the spell. He was blown back brutally into his partner, his entire head now missing, his crimson blood sprayed, covering a fairly large section of the restaurant.
The waitress seemed to freeze for a moment in horror before she screamed and ran for the door.
“What the hell—Dolohov!” He said after finally figuring what happened. A beheaded figure was lying on top of him, the caster unknown, while his targets ran out of the restaurant at full speed. It looks like he wasn’t going to get paid after all.
He saw a spell that seemed to appear out of nowhere shoot at the waitress, hitting her in the back into the waiting arms of the Mudblood who he struck a year ago and took his chance. “Expulso!” He yelled towards the invisible source, and was amazed and frightened to see it hitting a shield that he couldn’t see before, barely two feet away from him. He scuttled out from underneath the body before he saw a red jet coming towards him and his wand force out of his hand, seeming to stop in mid-air. Seconds later, he felt something hard and fairly big stamp his chest and he cried out painfully from the force. He started blinking fast from the pain, not noticing his wand being thrown higher into the air, and after a rustling sound, he opened his eyes wide to find the Boy-Who-Lived pointing a wand at him, and a second later, another wand that seemed to come from the sky. He realized with fright that it was his own wand.
“How did you find us?” Harry asked with a deadly calm, pointing his wand at the Death Eater’s throat. He definitely did not look like the boy he remembered before.
Ron and Hermione came back in the café, carrying the waitress. “Harry, we obliviated her, we—Harry, what did you do?!” She half-screeched. Ron was so shocked that he dropped the woman’s legs on the ground.
“I killed him,” Harry said as he took his new wand and pointed it at the waitress. With a swish and flick, the woman’s body was raised and her body was taken behind the counter and in a chair, assuming a sleeping position. His Phoenix wand was trained on the Death Eater the entire time. “Sorry you had to see his body,” He continued sincerely.
“Harry… you just can’t kill him!”
“I already did. He didn’t hesitate to try to kill you, so I didn’t when I tried to kill him. Only I succeeded. I’m sorry.”
Hermione understood his logic, but the shock of Harry killing a human being was discomforting. Would she have to get used to it? Was he going to do it again? She would have a talk with him later. “Th-that’s okay,” she stuttered as she walked over to Harry. She stopped and looked at the man who had permanently scarred her. She kicked him on the side roughly. “I didn’t see you cast the spell. I just heard you shout and I ran outside to wait. It was just a shock, is all.”
Harry nodded at her with a smile, looking at the Death Eater through the corner of his eye. “Ron, turn off the lights and close the door.”
With a bit of fumbling, then a click of the Deluminator and a click of the lock on the door, Harry’s wand ignited at the tip, showing the newly-scared Death Eater. “Look, you, I don’t know what your name is, and frankly, I don’t care. How the hell did you find us?” Harry asked the man.
The man gave a grin, but Harry could tell that he was trying to mask his fear unsuccessfully. “Never underestimate the power of The Dark Lord. He always know where you are.”
“Cut the bull,” Harry yelled as he stuck the wand to the burly man’s throat. “I don’t have the Trace on me, so tell me how you found us. I’m loosing my patience!” Harry narrowed his eyes and pushed his foot down harder, causing the man to scream. Harry sighed, frustrated as he realized the Death Eater wasn’t going to say any more. “Hermione, could you please Obliviate this guy and Ron, please start cleaning up this place. I’ll get rid of the body.” He pointed his wand at the decapitated body and said, “Incedio,” softly. The moment the spell hit the body, Harry placed an opaque shield around him so no one could see a body burn up in flames.
By this time, Hermione carefully stepped over to Harry and pointed her wand at the man’s face. “Obliviate,” she said nervously. The man’s eyes became unfocused and dreamy.
Harry stepped off and looked over to Hermione. “Bloody brilliant,” he said, a bit of pride in his voice.
She blushed at his praise, but before she could thank him, Ron absently noted while he was repairing the window, “You know, that looks a lot like Luna’s complexion.”
Harry and Hermione both smiled, but didn’t say anything else on the matter.
“We need to go somewhere,” Harry said as he turned off the shield. Black smoke immediately rose out, and black dust fell on the ground in a pile. Harry pointed his wand at the pile and repeatedly waved his wand. The dust swirled around and scattered around the café until they were unnoticeable specks on the floor that needed to be swept up. “I still recommend we go to Grimmauld Place.”
“I know, Harry,” Hermione said as she Scourgified all of the blood and turned the table back up, “but what if Snape is there?”
“We’ll just look around it. There’s three of us and one of him. And I still think that the house has protections around it. We don’t have any other choice. But I still need to figure out how they tracked us. We should at least stay there until we find out what mistake we made. It’s stillunplottable, so we’re still safe. And besides, if Snape is there, we’ll have another head to mount next to the elves,” He replied with a sadistic grin.
Hermione thought for a second, then nodded. “I hope you know what you’re doing, Harry,” she smiled.
Harry gave a genuine smile as he levitated the man outside and onto the sidewalk. “Yeah, well, not all of us can know everything.”
“True,” she replied as she and Ron followed, clicking the light with the Deluminator as he did so.
They turned to the waitress and Hermione reversed her spell. She immediately grabbed Ron’s arm and Harry’s hand and Dissapparated. As it turned out, Harry was getting a bit used to traveling this way now. The summer workouts did wonders; now that he didn’t have such a fragile ribcage before, he could just hold in his breath when he succumbed into darkness. When he opened his eyes again, he saw the familiar, albeit gloomy home of 12 Grimmauld Place. He walked up to it, still absently holding Hermione’s hand while Ron followed the pair, lightly scowling, and tapped his wand on the door. He could hear several clicks of metal locks and the door swung open. They slowly stepped inside, Harry going in first.
When Ron closed the door behind him, old-fashioned gas lamps sprang to life he saw the dingy, dirty, cobwebbed, yet familiar surroundings of the Ancient and Noble House of Black. “Stay close for any jinxes,” Harry said as he took a step forward.
“Severus Snape?” The voice of Mad-Eye Moody asked from seemingly nowhere. At first, Harry thought he was delusional. ‘He can’t be alive… can he?’ But he came back to reality a second later. This was the trap. “Duck,” Harry yelled. They all ducked as a slight breeze blew over their heads. They stayed there for a second, Hermione using her other hand to grab Harry’s arm, for her safety or his reassurance, he did not know. Harry looked behind him to see Ron still standing, two of his fingers in his mouth. “Ron?” Harry asked in a bit of an alarm. Hermione’s head snapped back as Ron took his fingers out of his mouth.
“S’alright,” he mumbled, trying to stretch out his tongue. “Only a tongue tying curse.”
Harry breathed a sigh of relief and stood up slowly, Hermione coming up with him, not letting go of him. Not that he was complaining. “Is that it?” He asked. That couldn’t have been it. He took another step forward. Something shifted in the shadows at the end of the hall, and when Harry pointed his wand at it in a flash. A figure had risen up out of the carpet, covered in dust, or in dust color, Harry couldn’t tell; what he was worried about was the shape of the figure. Hermione gasped and clung tighter to his left arm as the figure glided toward them, faster and faster. He could even feel Ron pale behind him. It glided and it held a hand up towards Harry. Harry could see Hermione trying to step in front of him and he knew he had to act.
“We didn’t kill you, Head—!” He started calmly, but on the word ‘kill’, the apparently fake Dumbledore exploded in a huge cloud of dust. Harry quickly put up a shield so they wouldn’t be affected by the dust.
“Harry,” Hermione said, a little timidly. “That was… ”
“A dust zombie?” Harry asked incredulously. At Hermione’s confused look he continued. “I mean, this is Snape we’re talking about. A Defense Against the Dark Arts Prof—”
But he was cut off by Sirius’s mother’s portrait. “Mudbloods, filth, stains of dishonor, taint of shame—!”
Whatever she would have said next would never be heard. Harry pulled out a glowing, pale blue knife from his pocket, and with a deadly accuracy, he threw it as hard as he could at the portrait, slicing into her head. Her screams filled the entire house and Harry quickly ran towards the portrait and grabbed the handle. He slashed across the portrait and endured her screams until they were muffled and slowly dying. He slowly pulled out the knife, sweating a little. That was a tough portrait. He wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead as he looked over at Hermione and Ron and smirked at their gobsmacked expressions. “I think Sirius wanted me to do that.”
Hermione smiled at him and shook her head. “Is that Sirius’s knife?” At Harry’s nod, she walked over to him and looked at the knife. It looked the same as it did when Sirius gave it to him. “H- how did you get that fixed?”
Harry shrugged. “I just took all of the charms off of it ’til it was a normal knife, then I cast ‘Reparo‘, and then I put the charms back on there. It was easy, really. I did it when I had some time before Mrs. Weasley came to check on me.”
Hermione groaned. “I tried every spell I could, and I still couldn’t get it. It was that simple?”
Before he could apologize, a familiar flare of his scar came to him. He let out a gasp of pain. He suddenly saw a large shadow and a flash of absolute rage like electricity through his body, if only a shock.
“Harry!” A familiar voice screamed. He opened his eyes to see Hermione looking at him frightfully, not out of being scared, but concern. “Harry, did your scar… ” She stopped at his shaky nod.
“What did you see?” Ron asked, advancing on Harry. “Did you see him at my place?”
“No,” Harry gasped out, “he’s just really angry… really angry—”
“But that could be at the Burrow!” Ron yelled. “What else? Didn’t you see—”
Hermione interrupted him. “Ron, shut up! Give Harry a moment! I don’t think he saw a vision. It was too short.”
Ron gave Hermione a fierce glare, but she couldn’t see, as all of her attention was focused on Harry. “Harry, are you okay?”
Harry gave a shaky smile. “Ye—well, not really,” he switched courses as he saw the glare from Hermione that said ‘Don’t you even try!’ Hermione then smiled and led him up the steps. “Boys and their pride,” she snorted as Harry tried to lean off of her and walk up the steps on his own, only to immediately fall back onto Hermione’s embrace.
“I had to try at least,” Harry grumbled, although he liked leaning on Hermione if she let him. “Gryffindor lion pride and all that.”
When they reached the top steps, a silver patronus flew through the window and landed on the floor in front of them. It slowly morphed into a weasel, and by the time Ron reached the top, it spoke as the voice of Mr. Weasley.
“Family safe, do not reply, we are being watched.” The weasel then disappeared.
“Oh, thank God,” she whispered as she shivered slightly in the cold room. Knowing that the Weasleys were safe, Harry’s happiness overcame the pain in his scar. He straightened up and placed warming charms around the room while Ron dropped onto the sofa unceremoniously and smiled, then he frowned. “Er, Harry, I’m sorry. I just flew off the handle a bit. I—”
“It’s alright, Ron,” Harry said, putting his hand on his forehead. “I understand. You were worried. I’d feel the same way.” He then felt a slightly damp washcloth touch his forehead. “Thanks,” he whispered, sending a grateful smile at Hermione.
“You’re welcome. It’s a curse scar, so I don’t know if it’s working. Is it?”
“A little—ah!” He gasped as the scar was reaching its peak. He fell into Hermione’s immediately outstretched arms and a much longer shock of rage split through him as he was sent into another vision. He saw a large, blond Death Eater writhing on the floor of a dimly lit room. He tried to open his mouth and speak, but it would not move. He was looking through Voldemort’s eyes, he knew. He felt another mouth open far away, and guessed that it was his own. When Voldemort finally spoke, Harry mimicked his own mouth to match his second.
“More, Rowle, or shall we end it and feed you to Nagini? Lord Voldemort is not sure that he will forgive this time. You called me back for this, to tell me that Harry Potter has escaped again? Draco, give Rowle another taste of our displeasure. Do it, or feel my wrath yourself!”
A log fell in the fire, its flames licked out, lighting the room for a fraction of a second, giving Harry a short view of Draco’s terrified and paler than usual face.
He blearily opened his eyes to see an alarmingly pale Ron, but his vision was blurry. He looked around for a second for his glasses until he realized they were still on. Then the blurriness slowly disappeared, and Harry finally realized that it was Hermione’s brown hair that was blurring his vision. Hermione was clinging to him tightly, silently sobbing. He realized that he was lying on the sofa. He gave a small groan to alert her that he was awake. Hermione shot up and looked at him for a second, eyes glistening with many tears, and hugged him even tighter, her face burying itself in his neck.
“I thought we lost you… I thought I… ” her voice trailed away, muffled by his neck.
“Bloody Hell,” Ron whispered at the same time.
“Ron,” Harry rasped out. “C-could you… wa-ter… ?”
Ron immediately ran downstairs to get some water. Just as his head was out of view, Harry turned his head to Hermione. “D-did you hear?”
Hermione nodded quickly, her long brown locks trying to keep up. “Did that ever happen before?”
Harry shook his head, but immediately regretted it when his head started to ache again. “I mimicked his voice… so you c-could hear. For some reason… he doesn’t know about… the second attempt at killing us.”
Hermione crinkled her brow, tickling Harry’s neck. “How could he not know?”
There was silence for a moment. They could hear a small trickling of water downstairs. Finally Hermione spoke.
“Harry… at the wedding… ”
“What happened and why d-did it?” he finished her sentence. She nodded and he continued. “I don’t know, really. I mean did you want that to happen, well, what was about to happen? You c-couldn’t say ‘heat of the moment’ because that happened afterwards.” Seeing her hesitation, Harry whispered, “I don’t know about you, and you probably didn’t mean to do it, but I did. Sorry.”
Hermione’s eyes widened in surprise. “You… you did?” She asked hopefully. Not waiting for an answer, she looked down and muttered, “Well, I guess that makes the two of us.”
Harry would have leaped for joy if it wasn’t for the fact that his head was splitting open in pain. At least one of his questions was answered during the summer. Hermione fancied him, at least.
Silence followed. This time, companionable silence. Hermione reached out to hold Harry’s hand while Harry gratefully smiled at her. This time, Harry broke the silence.
“Hermione… I have to show you something… tonight. It’s about the Horcruxes. Okay?”
Hermione gently squeezed his hand as she heard footsteps coming up the stairs. “Of course Harry,” she whispered, “but you need your sleep, and I don’t think the middle of the night is wise. I really don’t like this place. Is eight o’ clock alright?”
Harry nodded as Ron bounded into the room with a tall glass of water. “Thanks,” he muttered as he drunk the cold water almost steadily and placed it on the floor next to him. Ron nodded and walked away from them back to the kitchen, preferably to get something to eat. Harry looked at Hermione one last time with a smile, receiving one in return, then faded off into the sleep he desperately needed, the scar’s pain residing. He felt his glasses being removed by gentle hands before he blacked out.
“Harry,” a gentle voice whispered, “Wake up. It’s eight.”
Harry slowly opened his eyes to sight that he wished he could wake up in the morning to see: Hermione. He saw that his glasses were placed on his face. He smiled his thanks and slowly sat up from the bed. “G’morning, Hermione,” He whispered.
“Good morning to you too, Harry. How is your scar?” She said after a few seconds.
“I don’t feel it now, but I got a twinge every now and then when I was sleeping.” He whispered as he looked around the room. He noticed that Ron was on the other side of the room, snoring quite loudly. He was about to ask Hermione where she slept when he stood up from the sofa when he noticed that there were a pair of cushions next to the sofa and Hermione was sitting on them, now standing up. He smiled at her and she blushed heavily when she realized what he was looking at before. “Y’know, I knew I was holding someone’s hand in my sleep,” He said softly, but made sure Hermione could hear.
“So, um, you said something about a Horcrux,” She said, trying to avoid her embarrassment.
Harry grinned at her before turning serious. “Yeah… and if I’m right,” He said, grasping Hermione’s hand and silently gestured for her to follow, which she obliged, “I think one is here.”
He heard a gasp of excitement. “Harry are you sure? A Horcrux in Grimmauld Place? Certainly the Order would’ve found it by now.” By now, her voice changed to disappointment.
“I think we did pick it up once,” Harry said as he went down the steps to the family tapestry. He stared at it for a few seconds, as if looking for a name, then smiled. “Yeah, we did.” He turned to Hermione. “Okay, I was talking to your photo about who RAB was, and we thought about all of the families that had ‘B’ as a last initial. Suffice to say, the first name that came up in my mind was ‘Black’.” He stopped for a moment, and could almost see Hermione mentally slapping herself. “Then we talked about any clues the note left us. The only clue we saw was that he said, ‘To the Dark Lord’. I would guess that he had to be a Death Eater since they call Voldemort ‘Dark Lord’ and ‘My Lord’. Sirius told me about his brother once. He was a Death Eater, and Voldemort himself killed him, or so he heard.” At Hermione’s slow nod, he continued by pointing at a name on the tapestry.
Regulus Arcturus Black
Hermione gave a small squeal and hugged Harry tightly. “You found R.A.B.! You found him!” She whispered excitedly.
“Technically, you found him,” Harry said as he hugged her back, “but we still hadn’t found the locket. It’s the one that we had a couple of years ago, but it wouldn’t open. I should have noticed it, though. It had an ‘S’ on it, not a ‘B’! It was the Slytherin locket, and I missed it.”
“No, Harry,” Hermione said as she pulled him along by the hand somewhere, “we missed it. We all held it and we just put it in a box. Oh, I hope it’s still in there… ”
“Where?” He asked curiously.
“Here,” Hermione said after a few more seconds of walking, “right here.”
Harry looked on the door to read:
Do Not Enter
Without the Express Permission of
Regulus Arcturus Black
Hermione pointed her wand at the door and whispered excitedly, ‘Alohamora!’ There was a click and Hermione swung the door open. The first thing that Harry noticed were the Slytherin colors, silver and green, all around the room; covering the bed, draping the windows, and painting the walls. He saw the crest over the bed excellently painted.
“Nice room,” Harry commented, “but it looks like it’s been trashed.”
“Yeah,” Hermione replied as she looked around, “I like the color green. Emerald’s my favorite, you know.”
Harry felt his face burn as Hermione smirked and raised her wand again towards the room. She said in a soft, firm voice, “Homenum Revelio.”
When nothing happened, Harry turned to her, his embarrassment forgotten for the moment. “What did it do?” He asked curiously.
“It checked for any dark magic or traps,” Hermione said calmly as he stepped inside and went straight to his bed, which had old newspaper clippings. She flipped through them, and when Harry stepped closer, he saw that they were all about Voldemort. He could see some green in almost all of the pictures, and wondered if they were killing curses in battle or the Dark Mark. He shrugged and walked over to the desk. He saw a picture in a frame, the people inside waving at him. He saw the crests on their robes with a small snake on it. He also noticed that there were eighteen people in the frame, in two rows.
“They’re Quidditch players,” Harry mumbled as he looked closer at the picture. He could easily tell which one was Regulus. He was in the middle, in the front row. If he was in the middle, then—
“He was seeker,” Hermione said silently, almost making Harry visibly jump. He didn’t notice her approaching. “I mean he was seeker, right? I mean, he’s in the middle, and if you look close enough, he’s holding a snitch, I think.”
Harry turned to face her. “How did you know that seekers are in the middle?” He asked. “He could’ve been captain?”
This time it was Hermione’s turn to blush as she mumbled something intelligibly.
Harry’s eyebrow rose, but decided that he shouldn’t probe any further. He walked around her to the wardrobe to look around. He got on his knees to crawl under. A few seconds later, he heard Hermione’s voice.
“Harry? Why did you ask to meet me and didn’t tell Ron?”
“Oh. Umm… ” He backed out of the closet and got on his feet, shaking his legs to continue the circulation as he did so. “I wanted to ask you to help me look for a picture of Sirius so I could add to the picture book.”
“Oh.” Harry noticed her crestfallen look.
“Hermione,” he started slowly, half- afraid of the answer, “there’s something… more… between us, isn’t it?”
“Well, I thought that was obvious,” she said, still looking down, her feet softly kicking the emerald carpet.
“So… you really do like… ?”
“Yes,” she said in a whisper. She looked up at him with glistening eyes. “Do you?”
Harry could do nothing but nod dumbly, but a second later he choked out, “Yeah.”
Hermione’s eyes widened in disbelief. “You do? But… how? And why would you?”
“How could I not?” Harry asked, confused. “And, just so I’m not confused, we’re talking about me liking you, right?”
“Yes, that’s what we were talking about… but… I’m a bossy bookworm, you of all people should know that!” She spoke in a hard whisper.
Harry walked forward to her and cupped her chin, forcing her to look in his eyes. “I never complained about it before. That was Ron. And I don’t really care if you’re bossy or a bookworm. If you weren’t bossy, I would’ve never left first year. And if you weren’t a bookworm, then I would’ve been dead a long time ago. Probably by the end of first year… ”
Hermione gave a sad smile, and wiped away a tear. “I have to admit, you would be dead without my help, but I would’ve been dead in my first year and, if I remember, almost every year after that. I fear that I need you to live,” she said with a grin.
Harry smiled back as he let go of her chin and wrapped his arms around her waist. “You’re strong, Hermione. You could live without me. I’m not exactly expected to live, after all… ”
“Harry,” she said in a warning tone.
“I’m sorry, ‘Mione,” He said, frustrated that she wouldn’t see reality, “but you know it’s the truth. I either have to kill Voldemort or be killed. And I really don’t think I can do what Dumbledore failed to do. I just can’t—”
“You can,” Hermione said fiercely, but softly as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I know you can. I won’t let you feel any different. All you need… ” she said as she stood up on her toes, keeping her face inches from Harry’s, “… is hope.” She finished by pulling him into a tender kiss.
Harry’s breath hitched when their lips met, but immediately replied. It was nothing like he had ever felt before. Harry felt that he didn’t need hisFirebolt anyway, he was soaring so high. He felt hope, power, Desperation, and… love. That was the strongest feeling. Harry didn’t know it was possible to feel anything in a kiss. It just felt so…
“Wow,” Harry said silently when they parted seconds later, red-faced and content.
“Yeah,” Hermione said in a somewhat dazed expression. Harry had to suppress a snigger; he never thought that Hermione could look like Luna.
“So… are we… ?” Hermione started hopefully.
“Together?” Harry finished, just as hopeful. Hermione slowly nodded, her smile growing, eyes glistening. “Well… as much as I want to… I can’t say that you’ll be in danger, because you’re here with me, and Voldemort already knows that you’ve been my best friend for six years. But there is one problem… ”
“Ron?” Hermione said tensely, the smile now morphing into a small frown.
“Yeah. He’s my best mate, he’s done so much for me, and I know he likes you. He’ll think I betrayed him or something. What do you think we should do?”
“Keep it a secret?” She said the first thing that came to her mind. She knew that Harry wouldn’t want to do that.
“We can’t go behind his back.” Hermione noted that Harry was not irritated or appalled by her suggestion. Something told her that Harry had considered it. His next statement confirmed it. “No matter how much I want to, we can’t.”
He turned to face her. He wasn’t even aware that he had been pacing, but mentally shrugged it off. He took on a look of sadness and averted his eyes after a second. “I really don’t think that we should… you know… be together.”
Hermione had to choke back something between a gasp and a sob, releasing as a small whimper. She knew that he was going to say it, she was thinking it herself, as she knew that’s what they eventually had to choose to do. But she wasn’t prepared to hear it. It sort of made it… final… when pronounced out loud. Her tears of happiness were replaced with a tear of sorrow and anguish. It was going to be hard for her to be nice to Ron from then on.
She once again felt a hand cup her chin. She looked up into those brilliant, but sad green orbs. “For the moment, Hermione,” He whispered as he put the other arm around her waist. “I don’t mean forever, I mean for the moment.” Harry gave a small smile. “For the greater good, ‘Mione.”
Despite the circumstances, Hermione chuckled a little. “Why does that saying come up in the worst of situations?”
“Alas, that is one of life’s greatest mysteries, my dear Ms. Granger. I must contemplate this issue when the time is right; for now, let us go and feast on some lemon drops.”
Hermione had a full-on laugh at his raspy voice imitation. “Let’s go to bed, Harry.”
“As appealing as that sounds,” Harry said in a suggestive tone that made her blush, “I want to look around for a picture of Sirius and for the locket, if it’s here. It is morning, after all.”
“Yeah, but since this place has only two windows, I wouldn’t know. This place needs some redecorating. I’ll help you, but earlier, when I looked around in Sirius’s room, I didn’t see any single pictures.” Harry saw that she hesitated for a moment before she added, “And Harry, I forgot to tell you something about the album.”
“Yeah,” He asked.
“It only works for Muggle pictures. I found out that a Wizarding picture has small recording cycle motions, you see. And they can’t talk. It took me a long time to manipulate the album to take the signature of a regular Muggle picture, but Wizarding pictures have too many spells on them already. It is more of several pictures into one, actually. More like a fast slideshow. Possibly, I might be able to take a Muggle picture of a Wizard picture, but I don’t think the person will be comfortable in the picture when it’s placed in the album.”
“Why not?” Harry asked.
“Because… well… okay, think of this. The quality of an old picture is pretty bad, right?” Harry nodded. “But the Wizard picture was made that way, if it gets older, then the picture becomes older. But if you take a picture of an old picture, and trying to get only one face in a group picture, it becomes a little… distorted.”
“I imagine that’ll probably hurt… but can pictures feel?”
“Have you ever thrown a picture in the fire or lit one.”
“Ohhh,” Harry said after a second, remembering a certain reporter screaming in pain when he threw away her toilet paper Prophet. Music to his ears.
They spent more time talking about the advantages and disadvantages of the photo album, and after Harry’s constant reassurances that it was still the best present that he ever received, they spread around the room, looking for a photo, and if found, a locket with a green ‘S’.
While they were looking, not knowing how long they were searching, they heard a sound. “Ron,” they said to each other with a smile. They resumed their business as they heard footsteps getting closer. They waited until Ron came crashing into the room. Hermione looked up at him, her hair tied back. He looked furious for some reason, but calmed when he actually noticed them. ‘Of course,’ she thought with little regret, ‘He thought we were snogging behind his back. If only!’
“This is what you two been doing?” He asked exasperatedly. “What are you doing anyway?”
“Good morning to you too, Ron,” Hermione said grumpily as she stood up and wiped off the dust off her flannel pajamas. Harry, with his sweaty mop almost covering his eyes gave a small wave to Ron and disappeared into the closet to hold back a snigger (and his blush from earlier). “We were looking for the locket. Harry found him; Regulus A. Black, Sirius’s brother.”
Ron quickly stepped back and checked the outside of the door to confirm it. He then came back into the room and looked around from the middle. “But he’s a Black,” Ron said uneasily. “Why would he want to kill You-Know-Who?”
“Sirius is a Black,” Harry said with an eyebrow raised.
“You know what I mean,” Ron snapped, “He himself said his whole family’s evil, except for the Tonks’.”
“Sirius also said that Regulus Black was a Death Eater,” Harry replied smoothly.
“And?” Ron asked. “That just proves my point. He’s on You-Know-Who’s side.”
“How do we know for sure?” Harry asked.
“Umm… because… well, look at his room. He’s a Slytherin!”
“And… ?” Harry asked, motioning his hand for Ron to continue.
“That means he was evil!” Ron said as if it was completely obvious.
“Ron, why else was he killed by Voldemort himself when he was only eighteen?” Harry asked. “What if it was because he knew about the Horcruxes? That’s the only excuse I can think of. And, if you have a better choice on who RAB is, then say it! Otherwise, I really think that this is him.” He sat silent for a few moments, appearing to be in deep thought, before he looked up at him and smiled. “Well, I guess I’ll have to ask someone who knew Regulus personally.”
“Who?” Ron challenged.
Harry simply stood up and cleared his throat.
There was a thunderous crack throughout the house as a short, shriveled house-elf with batlike ears and a filthy rag as clothing.
Hermione whispered, “How come I didn’t figure it out sooner?” Followed by a small smack on the head by herself.
“Master,” Kreacher croaked to Harry as he bowed low to him, but was caught off.
“Kreacher, before we converse, I must ask that you not insult Hermione Granger or Ron Weasley. That means not saying the offensive term for anything involving the purity of blood. Do I make myself clear?”
Kreacher stood straight up and seemed to tremble for a second, as if trying to disagree, but one look at the fierceness in Harry’s emerald eyes made him give in immediately. “Y-yes, Master.”
“Secondly,” Harry continued, “Don’t call me ‘Master’. I want to be called Harry, or at the most, Mr. Potter. But I prefer Harry.”
“Thank you, Kreacher,” Harry said. Just as he was about to start, he looked up to see Ron and Hermione staring at him, gobsmacked. Hermione was the first to recover, and smiled at him, tears threatening to come out. Ron came to a moment later, but said, “Blimey, mate, he killed Sirius and you treat him… with respect?” Earning a flinch, then a glare from Hermione.
“The past is in the past,” Harry shrugged. At the raised eyebrows from the two, he smirked and turned back to Kreacher, who had wide eyes. “What?” Harry asked curiously.
“M-Harry said ‘thank you’,” He said, awe evident in his voice.
“Yes, and you’ll receive more thank you’s, and possibly a prize, if you answer these questions truthfully. Alright?”
“Yes, Harry.” Harry noticed that he didn’t struggle at all with that sentence and answered immediately. Something told him that he had rarely heard ‘Thank You’. He wondered if S.P.E.W. would be a hit if it had a different name.
“Alright, then… ” He squatted down and made sure he was eye-level with Kreacher. He took a deep breath. “Have you stolen any lockets lately? One that had an ‘S’ on it. Couldn’t open? Belonged to Regulus Black?”
Kreacher’s eyes widened in shock. It was actually quite comical, seeing as his eyes took up about a fifth of his body. “Harry knows?” He said in disbelief?
He looked up and smiled at a jubilant Hermione and a gleeful Ron. “Told you,” he said to them, then he turned back to Kreacher. Do you have it?”
“What?” Ron shouted as Hermione’s face fell.
“Hold on Ron,” Harry said almost calmly, while on the inside he was panicking. ‘He doesn’t have the BLOODY LOCKET!?’ “Kreacher, do you know who has it?” he asked gently.
“Stop being so nice to him,” Ron yelled. “He doesn’t deserve it!”
Hermione restrained herself from giving Ron what he deserved with her fist and walked over to Harry. She crouched down next to him and looked Kreacher in the eye while Harry spoke again. “Kreacher, do you know who has the locket?”
“Mundungus Fletcher,” croaked the elf, his eyes still tight shut. “Mundungus Fletcher stole it all; Miss Bella’s and Miss Cissy’s pictures, my Mistress’s gloves, the Order of Merlin, First Class, the goblets with the family crest, and – and—”
Kreacher was gulping for air: His hollow chest was rising and falling rapidly, then his eyes flew open and he uttered a bloodcurdling scream.
“—and the locket, Master Regulus’s locket. Kreacher did wrong, Kreacher failed in his orders!”
Before Kreacher could lunge for the poker standing in the grate, Harry already had his wand out. He pointed it at Kreacher, making him stop in midair. The house-elf slowly floated back towards Harry, frozen stiff. Harry heard Hermione mutter something and she ran over to the house-elf’s rigid form. She pulled out her wand and conjured a small glass bottle.
“Going to extract his memories?” Harry asked as he slowly lowered the body.
“Yes, I am. I want to see what happened. But first, I want to see how it was obtained. Ennervate.”
Kreacher groggily opened his eyes. When his vision cleared, he realized his surroundings. He immediately scuttled away from Hermione. He wisely didn’t say anything, since he remembered that he was not allowed to say ‘Mudblood’.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Kreacher,” Hermione said, mistaking his disgust for shock. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Kreacher stayed silent, still sputtering.
“He did that because of your lineage,” Harry said in an unmistakable growl, watching the house-elf’s actions. He breathed through his nose and tried to calm himself down. “She was just trying to help you. She was just trying to ask you if you knew anything of how the locket was obtained. Please, at least make an effort to be nice to her.”
The threatening tone in Harry’s voice did not go unheard in Kreacher’s large ears. “Y-yes, Master Harry.”
“Kreacher,” Hermione started in a soft tone, “Could you please bring everything about the locket to the front of your mind?”
“Kreacher will try,” he slowly and tentatively, narrowing his eyes at the girl. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the few memories he had of his master’s locket until he felt something at the side of his head. Something told him not to move. He didn’t think that they would hurt him. He felt something slightly cool slithering out of his mind like a small snake, making him almost shudder. He felt the process repeat over and over again, until nothing happened when the wand, he found out, was placed on his temple. The wand drew back from him, taking nothing with it.
“I think that’s all, Harry,” he heard the girl say.
“It does look like a lot, but we know who has the locket, so we’ll look at the more important ones first,” his master said. He finally opened his eyes to see Harry and Hermione looking at a vial with, it looked like silver hair, with a mix of curiosity and excitement. He saw the redhead in the back slowly approach the two, also curious. He had seen those before, he knew.
“M-memories?” he asked with hesitancy.
“Yes, Kreacher, we needed these memories for reference. We need to… erm… get it back.” Harry almst let slip that they were going to destroy it. He didn’t think that Kreacher would take it well.
Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a locket which made Kreacher’s eyes widen. To Kreacher’s utter shock and to the shock of the other two, Harry placed the locket in front of the old house-elf. “Kreacher, thank you. I said that I would say it again, along with something else, if you agreed to helping us. You did, so here is a small token.”
“Oi, that’s just too much! Shouldn’t you wait ’til we watch those memories. We don’t know if they’re fake memories!”
“Ron, first of all,” Hermione said, clearly getting upset, “Kreacher didn’t know what we were doing until he saw the vial.”
“And we don’t have a pensieve, so how are we going to watch the memories now? It would just be better to give him the locket right when we get the memories!”
And, out of nowhere, a basin appeared in the center of the room with the softest pop, making the three jump out, and Harry with his wand back out and a curse on his tongue, Hermione following after a half-second. Ron fell back since the black basin was closer to him, and he fell on his elbows. “Ouch! Damn, that hurt!”
“Wait… is that a pensieve?” Hermione said, slowly lowering her wand.
Harry kept his wand up and slowly approached the ‘pensieve’. He found it very strange that the moment they wished for a pensieve, it appeared in front of him. He looked inside of the basin when he got close enough. It was empty.
“How did a pensieve pop up out of nowhere when we needed it?” Harry asked more to himself, and was surprised when he heard a reply. He surprised even more by the one who said the reply.
“Kreacher summoned one,” The old house-elf said grudgingly. It seemed as if he felt like he was betraying someone. Harry quickly figured that it might be Mrs. Black. A brief pang of guilt hit him as he realized what he did to Mrs. Black’s portrait. He hoped that Kreacher wouldn’t find out anytime soon.
After a moment of fumbling nervously, and Harry noted that the fake locket was now on his small, shriveled neck, he said, “Thank you, Master Harry Potter, sir.” Before Harry could ask him to say ‘It’s just Harry’, he disappeared with a crack.
Hermione took no time to run towards the pensieve and pour the vial into the giant basin. Harry looked at them swirling around for a moment – it seemed as if the memories extended and became a giant pool of memories – before he turned and walked to the doors and placed several security and locking charms. Then he walked back towards the pensieve and spoke.
“Ready to go in?” he asked the two. At their now determined nods, he had no hesitation in diving head first into the pensieve. The effects were no different than in fifth year, Harry mused. He still felt like he was falling from the sky, but in slower form. He saw Hermione dive in next, and shortly following, Ron. Harry turned to look down and saw a very familiar and unpleasant sight.
He saw a large black sea in the dead of night, a rocky cliff that seemed to have a small source of light, and a shoreline… with a small old boat on the end. Before he could ask any questions, he saw something that almost made him choke on his caught breath.
He saw a dark figure approach the boat, followed by a clumsy elf. Harry had to squint through the darkness to see that it was Kreacher, only younger. A lot younger. He knew who the dark figure was for certain, but his scar wasn’t prickling like usual. It took him a few seconds to realize that since he was in a pensieve, that was only an image of Tom Riddle. He finally landed on the shore when he saw Voldemort push Kreacher into the boat, followed by himself. Harry looked at the lake. Since it was an image, he shouldn’t be able to drown, right?
He heard Hermione whisper behind him, “Is your scar okay?”
“Yeah,” he replied in a normal voice, “It’s an image. He can’t hear us, you know.”
“Sorry,” she mumbled, “it just seemed so real.
“How do we get across?” She asked when Ron joined them, the same time the boat departed the shore.
“I don’t know,” Harry said honestly. “I could try… ”
He walked over to the shore and looked at the waves, wondering if he could step onto the waters, since it was only an illusion. He stepped onto the black sea, expecting to step onto the shore underneath. Although it didn’t matter, Harry realized, since he was fairly sure that he shouldn’t be able to drown in an illusionized sea. He briefly wondered if his pants leg would be wet before his foot hit a hard, yet uneasy, surface. He looked down and smiled.
“I think I found out how we get across,” Harry said to the two behind him. He looked over to Voldemort and Kreacher, still in the boat. They were still far from the cave. It was at that time that Harry had to wonder why Kreacher was there in the first place. Surely he didn’t replace the locket in front of Voldemort?
He almost stumbled from the waves. It felt similar to a black marble floor, but with jagged and pointy edges that kept moving, followed by small waves. Harry wondered how the boat could possibly and steadily row towards the cave when the waves were heading towards the shore. He mentally slapped himself as the simple answer appeared in his head. Magic.
Harry slowly walked onto the waves, stumbling as he did so. He really wished that he could fly like Voldemort did. Harry figured that Tom must’ve used some sort of spell on the cave, making it so the boat was the only way to travel to that cave, which was probably why he was in the boat himself.
He looked back to see Ron and Hermione approaching the waves, Hermione stepping onto the water first while Ron observed. Moments, he stepped onto the shoreline the moment a particularly nasty wave approached. Harry and Hermione jumped over it, while Ron stumbled and fell, stopping his fall with his hands. He push himself up.
“Maybe I should’ve kept watch over the pensieve,” Ron grumbled.
“You just need to – ugh – get the hang of it,” Hermione grunted as she walked over to Harry, who was a few feet away, snickering at Ron’s fall.
“Just hope that the Inferi aren’t gonna attack,” Harry pointed out with a grin. He caught Hermione’s arm as she stumbled into Harry, and she looked up to give a grateful smile. He made a move of moving his arm, but Hermione used her other hand to hold it.
“I don’t want to fall and you walk faster,” she simply said.
Harry accepted that excuse and they continued their trek across the sea, Ron catching up about a minute later. When the next wave came, they simultaneously jumped over it and continued. They finally reached the boat seconds before it hit the shore.
Voldemort looked no scarier than he is now, Harry thought. The scarlet, slitted eyes were still there, the bald head, the long and slim fingers that pushed the not-as-old house-elf out of the boat, and the slightly sharp, bared teeth that showed when he smiled as Kreacher fell out of the boat onto the stone floor. Harry suppressed the urge to pull out his wand and attempt a Crucio on the Dark Lord right then. He could almost feel Hermione grimace.
Voldemort stood up with ease – considering the boat might tip over by one wrong movement – and stepped off onto the dark stone of the cavern. Harry could see the faint green glow from the goblet in the cave, and stepped closer. He then experienced an unexpected fall into the sea. Harry almost panicked when he fell, letting go of Hermione as he did so, but he landed with a hard ‘thump’ on the bottom. Was it the bottom? Harry opened his eyes. Harry was only waist deep in the water, which was quite weird, actually. He didn’t feel wet. He realized that Hermione was on her knees on the above surface with wide eyes, with her hands still on his arm.
“Harry, what Happened?” She asked with fright.
“I—I don’t know,” Harry said. How did that happen?
Ron came up a second later, crouching down to get Harry’s hand. “Did some Inferi grab your ankles or something?” he asked as Harry grabbed on to his hand and pulled himself out, Hermione helping.
“No… at least, I don’t think so.” Harry was completely confused. Why did he fall through that one spot when he could’ve fallen earlier? Why did it have to be the spot that was right next to the boat and the cave? He didn’t feel something grab his ankles, and besides, the Inferi’s hands were supposed to go right through his legs, should they attempt to grab his legs. He looked back at the spot he fell in. It didn’t look any different from the rest of the sea. He reached out with his hand to touch the surface. It went through. He felt around the semicircular ring around it.
Harry was still perplexed when a blood-curdling scream broke the silence. He looked over into the cave to see Voldemort holding Kreacher by his throat, pouring the awful green liquid down his throat. Harry wanted to kill Voldemort right then and there. Then, Voldemort did something that made Harry’s blood boil. Tom laughed. Hermione stifled a sob.
Harry instinctively pulled Hermione close as they all helplessly watched Voldemort cackling as Kreacher kept screaming for someone to help him. Either Mrs. Black or Regulus, he didn’t seem to care. Harry remembered Dumbledore yelling as Harry forced him to drink the potion that eventually led to his downfall. He turned away from the scene with Hermione and closed her ears with both hands. Since Hermione made no attempt to move, Harry could tell that she was very grateful for it.
When the screaming stopped, Harry turned his head to see Tom dropping a locket inside the basin of the goblet. He refilled it shortly after. Harry looked at Kreacher, who was wheezing and snapping his fingers together to conjure water on the ground, then proceeding to lick the stony floor. Voldemort didn’t take notice; He did not even seem to realize that Kreacher was still there as he nonchalantly walked back to the boat, leaving the house-elf on the floor. Harry wanted nothing more than to flip the boat over the second Tom was in, but resisted. Tom slowly sailed away, and only then did he look back to see Kreacher gasping and wheezing. He laughed a purely evil, insane laugh as he turned back around and sped the boat up.
Kreacher slowly dragged himself over to the edge of the cavern to drink some water. And that was when it clicked. Voldemort knew that Kreacher was going to get the water from somewhere. He left him to be attacked by the Inferi. He left Kreacher to die.
Then, how did Kreacher escape the inferi?
Before Harry could voice this question, the water began shaking. Harry repeatedly kept stumbling. Hermione was clinging on to him, while Ron was trying to grab for her arm, but she kept swaying, resulting in Ron falling. Harry didn’t notice. What he did notice was Kreacher putting his hand in the water and scooping it up, drinking greedily. Harry knew what would happen next, according to the moving waves, which Kreacher didn’t pay attention to. Harry grabbed Hermione’s arm and jumped over the sinking spot onto the stone floor. When he turned around into Hermione’s embrace, Harry noticed three things. The first thing was that Ron was having a pretty tough time standing up. The second was that Kreacher was drinking from the same spot that Harry sunk in. ‘That must be why I sunk in,’ Harry thought. The memory appeared as everything Kreacher saw. Kreacher couldn’t see past the interior of the sea, so it didn’t exist in the memory. The question was, though, how could Kreacher see waist deep into the sea. ‘Well, he does have rather large eyes, but—’
Before he could finish his thought the third thing appeared. Inferi. They instantly grabbed for Kreacher, who had panic-filled eyes. They didn’t give him the chance to fight as he was dragged under the water before he knew it. Hermione, still turned away from the scene, heard a muffled scream from Kreacher and turned towards the source. She saw two shriveled feet disappear into the water before every thing turned black.
“Harry!” She instinctively yelled.
“I’m right here,” He murmured into her ear. He absently rubbed her arm as he looked around the darkened place, wherever it was. “Ron, you alright?” Harry yelled.
Harry heard an affirmative grunt. “I don wanna gedup right now,” Ron slurred. Harry almost thought he was seasick.
“Where are we?” Hermione asked. “Did Kreacher black out?”
“I don’t think he did,” Harry said, and before he could continue, Another scene reappeared. Harry looked at the surroundings. It looked like a clean – very clean, actually – version of Regulus’ room. Ron was on the floor next to a wall, almost on the verge of sleep. He looked elsewhere and saw someone who looked very similar to Sirius – Harry assumed that it was Regulus himself – was pacing about his room, muttering something. It seemed as if he was waiting for someone, Harry noted. Harry really didn’t care. He wanted to get out of the memory after what he had just seen, but knew that Hermione wanted to stay and research and analyze. She would probably want details on the last scene since her head was turned most of the time.
A loud crack brought him back to the present, making Ron fully awake and Hermione to attention.
“Kreacher!” Regulus yelled, brimming with fear. He ran over to his house-elf as he pulled out his wand and performed a drying spell on the once soaking wet Kreacher. “Are you okay? Tell me, what happened?” He asked frantically.
The three listened to the explanation that Kreacher gave to his master. They were very angry at Regulus for sending Kreacher to Voldemort in the first place. But more importantly was, “How did he escape?”
Their question was answered at the end of Kreacher’s stuttering explanation.
“Then… K-Kreacher was dragged in water b-by those t-things… and Kreacher came to you.”
“Kreacher,” Regulus said soothingly, “why didn’t you pop over here before you were dragged in the water?” It seemed as if Regulus was on the verge of tears from what happened earlier.
“Apparition,” Hermione said silently, realization dawning on her. “Kreacher apparated to Grimmauld Place.”
Harry recounted Dobby apparating in his house all those years ago and popping around Hogwarts. Both of those were impossible. A House-elf could apparate out of any ward, apparently. He would have to remember that next time they were in trouble.
Kreacher explained. “The D-Dark Lord was still there. I d-didn’t want him t-to see me. You t-told me—”
“That’s okay, Kreacher, I understand. So, it was a locket?”
“Very well. Kreacher, I prepared my bed for you tonight. You need at least a ten-hour sleep, no questions asked.”
Kreacher looked at him with pure disbelief for a few seconds, before he became extremely happy. He happily trotted over to the bed and fell into a deep sleep, not bothering to move the covers.
Regulus shook his head sadly at the house-elf before he picked him up. He pulled back the covers and placed Kreacher back in the bed, wrapping the covers around Kreacher’s small form to the neck as he did so. He quietly walked out of the room and silently closed the door.
Then the memory shifted again. This time it was a slow shift, not pitch black. This left Harry perplexed only for a moment. “It was all one memory,” Harry said slowly. “When we were in the dark, that was when Kreacher apparated.”
A small ‘O’ formed on Hermione’s lips as she considered this, while Ron started to stand up.
Only to fall once again when the memory appeared. They were back at the cave, only this time, Harry and Hermione were on the edge of the stone floor, while Ron appeared on the sea. They were at the same place when they disappeared the first memory.
“Accio Ron,” Harry said, and seconds later, Harry was helping Ron stand up on the opposite side of Hermione, who was looking around for Kreacher. So far, there was no one else in the scene but the three.
“Thanks, Mate,” Ron said uneasily. Ron looked like he was going to spew any minute now. Harry looked behind him to see the faint green glow. He walked over towards it, followed by Ron. Hermione was still looking for Kreacher. Harry looked into the goblet and squinted his eyes to see a golden locket that looked almost like the fake. Harry wanted to reach in and grab it, but knew it couldn’t happen. He took a deep sigh.
“Just wish you could take it, huh?” Ron asked. “Wish I could, too. Can we just go? I want to hunt down Mundungus now.”
Before Harry could agree, Hermione warned, “Here they come!”
Harry looked over to where Hermione was pointing towards a small boat, with two foggy characters. Harry knew it was Kreacher and Regulus. He walked back over to Hermione, shortly followed by Ron, to take a closer look. When they came into clearer view, Regulus looked distinctly nervous. And scared. Truly Scared. Harry could understand why he was so scared, stealing from Voldemort and all.
Harry saw Regulus saying something to Kreacher, and he saw Kreacher’s face turn from scared to downright terrified. He must have told Kreacher to drink the potion again, Harry thought with growing anger.
Soon enough, they reached the cavern and Kreacher got out first, Harry realized with no shoving. Regulus looked uncomfortable for a second before he steeled his resolve and stood up. With a face like that, Harry realized, he should’ve belonged in Gryffindor.
Regulus confidently walked over to the goblet and held it up. “To the demise of the Dark Lord,” he chanted. What he did next amazed all three of them. He drunk as fast and greedily as he could until he fell and cried out in pain. Kreacher closed his eyes and reached blindly for the goblet that had not spilled a drop. He grabbed it and approached the source of the scream. Kreacher opened his eyes to tiny slits as he forced open Regulus’ mouth and began pouring the foul liquid down his throat. The screams became louder and more agonizing, and Kreacher openly sobbed, but still resumed pouring the toxin; after all, it was an order.
When no more could pour out of the goblet, Kreacher took the fake locket out of the shaking man’s pockets and replaced the real one in the cup. Kreacher wrapped the chain around his wrist. He summoned a large cup and conjured water in it and tried to hand it to the still shaking Regulus. “P-please, sir,” Kreacher pleaded after a moment of forcing him to drink, “Y-you have to d-drink!”
“N-no, Kreacher,” Regulus stuttered. “I-I c-c-can’t. You know w-what I-I have to d-do.”
“What’s that, M-Master Regulus?”
Regulus, still lying down, looked out over the black sea, the waves calmly hitting each other and lapping over, giving it an all over, peaceful look. It wouldn’t last long, Regulus knew. He took a very deep breath.
“My work is done.”
There was no stuttering in his voice, no hesitancy whatsoever. He knew his time was up, whether then or the very next day.
“M-Master Regulus?” Kreacher said after a few moments. Regulus looked over to Kreacher and saw him holding out his hand. He shook his head at the old elf.
“No. Kreacher, my work is done. I must g-go.” Kreacher pushed his hand closer. He still did not understand. “No, Kreacher. I want you to g-go home… and d-destroy that thing.” Regulus slowly stood up, grunting in pain as he did so. “T-tell no one of what happened. Except s-someone you know that will k-kill him one d-day. Help him in any w-way you c-can.”
“But Master Regulus,” Kreacher asked, befuddled, “what of you? You are my master!”
“And you have been a great servant, and a better friend,” he replied with a raspy voice. He placed he goblet onto the pedestal and watched as the goblet automatically filled back up with the green, vile liquid, not knowing that the thing that is being protected is fake. He faced the sea one more time, before he walked towards it, as if in a trance. Kreacher watched on in curiosity, then understanding, and finally, terror. He made a lunge for Regulus, but Regulus simply raised a hand towards Kreacher, signaling for him to stop as he himself stopped. He didn’t look back towards Kreacher. “Remember what I have said,” he silently whispered and pleaded. He resumed walking towards the edge of the sea next to the boat. “Apparate straight out of here, Kreacher.” He finally looked at Kreacher in the eyes. “Do you understand?”
Kreacher nodded. He couldn’t say anything. His master… his friend… was about to… but why? “Why, master?” He voiced his question.
“I want to make a fool out of the Dark Lord, but I won’t be alive to do it. He will be looking for me with all the Death Eaters he has, and he won’t know that I am already gone from this world.” He gave a dry chuckle, which made Kreacher shudder, before he resumed. “I’ve left several hints as to who I am. If I survived today, and he finds out tomorrow, I will be dead tomorrow night. Try to destroy that thing. Don’t go hard on yourself if you cannot, but give it to someone if you are absolutely positive that you cannot yourself. Someone who is good, powerful, and wants to kill the Dark Lord… no… Voldemort.”
There was a long silence that ensued. The air seemed to wait for another action before it breezed again. The waters, for a moment, looked as if it needed something to swallow, to consume. Regulus resolved himself once again, for the last time. He figured that if he was so thirsty for water, it would be appropriate to die by water, and its creatures. He took a deep breath, but a second later, realized that… he didn’t need it. He lost the air by saying his last words, looking back at Kreacher and smiling one last brilliant smile, as if he had been waiting for this moment, yearned for it.
“Take care of mother for me. I love you both and my brother. Goodbye.”
Out of breath, Regulus quickly turned back and stretched out one leg and sat on the ledge, dipping his foot into the water. He hoisted himself in, but not before a claw could come and grab his head under. Regulus Arcturus Black was gone.
Kreacher fell to his knees and cried. Hard. He had lost his master… his friend… because of the locket that was in his hand. Seconds later, he popped away silently, still on his knees, but with a steely resolve. The locket in his hand was in for a universe of pain.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron stumbled out of the pensieve with fresh tears in their eyes.
“I – I had no idea,” Hermione said softly, clinging to Harry, wetting his t-shirt as she did so. “That… that was so awful!”
“I-I need to go,” Ron said softly, trying to hide his tears. He stumbled out of the door to look for Kreacher.
Harry made no move to hide his tears. He let them freely flow. He couldn’t believe what he had just seen… and Sirius called him a coward. Harry thought that he was anything but.
And, at that moment, Harry had found a new respect for Regulus Arcturus Black… and his little friend. A few minutes later, Harry, after talking to Hermione, decided to ask Kreacher to look for Mundungus Fletcher the next day. Ron did not come upstairs after that. They assumed he was crying. They were both thankful for that. They had a few things to discuss.
Author’s Note: I think I did a pretty good job on the pensieve memory. If I got any theories wrong, tell me. Although I really don’t want to change this. I was almost compelled to turn it into a one-shot.