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Chapter 88: On the Horcrux
A/N: GUYS WE'RE APPROACHING THE END. Are you as sad as I am? I like you guys a lot. This chapter is literally one of the best because... well... it's the climax!! And also I threw in a lot of my friend's names into the chapter (YEAH MEG AND ASHLEY) and that makes me happy. This chapter is one of those stomach-clenching, holy guacamole chapters that really ties it into the final confrontation (2 chapters for those counting!!) But yes, this chapter gets me because I love Regulus and I love Sirius and I really just love writing from the perspective of someone who thinks Horcruxes are really cool when, obviously, they are wicked freaky. WOOOOO everybody enjoy!!!
It took Sirius five seconds after Scarlett was out of his eyesight before he grasped that something was terribly wrong.
He first realized that how she had kissed him was in a way she'd never kissed him before. It unnerved him.
Then, Sirius thought about the conversation they'd had that night; it was just as unnerving as her kiss for a reason he couldn't figure out.
And then he remembered her eyes. He hadn't been able to see them as clearly in the nighttime, but he could have sworn he saw that her irises weren't brown or auburn like he expected. When he had first noticed, his impulse was to write it off as a trick of the light; after she'd left, when it might have been too late, Sirius recognized that there was no way it could have been a trick of the light. There was no way.
But how could her eyes be bright red? And what did that mean?
Sirius began running as soon as all of these things had clicked into his head. He yelled her name into the hallway, but heard no response. He ran and ran and turned the corner, hoping to find her looking at him, confused at his panic—
But she wasn't there. In the long central corridor that Sirius now found himself in, he couldn't see her at all.
Which meant she had been running too.
Where had she been running? Why had she been running?
Sirius started to run again, not entirely sure of where he was going but too distracted with the sound of his heartbeat to care. That was his map; in his heart he knew where to go. In his head he could not stop thinking of her.
Something was terribly, terribly wrong, and he had no idea where she was and no idea what she was doing and he couldn't help but think that something in her story didn't fit—
Sirius had to dodge to avoid hitting his brother and then an idea came to him and no matter how much he didn't agree with his brother, no matter how much they didn't get along, Regulus had to know something Sirius didn't about Scarlett and he had to figure it out before all of their time ran out—
"Regulus!" Sirius yelled, stopping his sprint down the hallway, and Regulus paused cautiously, as if unsure he'd heard right. "Regulus, I need to talk to you about something right now—"
"What is it?" Regulus said, wryly watching his brother catch his breath. "I think you might need to calm down for a second, you seem just a little bit too tense—"
"Shut up," Sirius said, panting as he composed himself. "I need to talk to you about Scarlett."
Regulus raised his eyebrows. "So you're finally admitting to me that you two were together. I knew it."
"What did she tell you?" Sirius asked, ignoring what his brother had said. "About her Dark Mark, she had to have said something to you, I know that you two are close. I don't think she told me everything."
Regulus, who had before been amused, sobered immediately at Sirius's question. "I don't know what you're talking about," he answered. "Honestly. What did she say about it?"
"Okay, just—that Mark," Sirius said, "How badly does it hurt you? Does it get worse?"
"No," Regulus said, confused. "No, it doesn't. It hurts when the Dark Lord is angry. But it's never been too bad. Why, Sirius?"
"Voldemort," Sirius growled; the panic was intensifying. "So the Dark Mark...doesn't hurt you until you do what it wants?"
"Do what it wants?" Regulus asked. "Sirius, what are you talking about?"
Sirius took a deep breath but it didn't help him any. "That's what she told me," he said hurriedly. "She told me that the reason we fought was because the Dark Mark made her. But it can't make her, can it, Regulus?"
"No," Regulus breathed. "It can't."
"So she was lying when she said that," Sirius said.
"Yes," murmured Regulus. "All she told me was that someone found out. Someone bad."
"Someone bad," Sirius repeated. "It's Voldemort, Voldemort knows. She told me that he wanted to kill me."
"He wanted to kill—Sirius, I don't understand. I don't know what it is that we are missing."
"Well, we need to find it and we need to find it now," Sirius said. "She just left. I don't know where she went. Her eyes were all red and—"
"Red eyes, like the irises?" Regulus asked, putting a hand to his hair. "That happened to me, at the wedding—wait a second." Thoughts came to him at an uncontrollable speed. "She was with you that night at the wedding. Where did she meet you at?"
"Hogsmeade," replied Sirius. "She said she was having a lousy time at the wedding and just wanted to go somewhere to walk. That's what she told me. Is that true?"
Regulus looked stunned and confused and anxious. "No, we were having a good time. She—" and he had to pause, wincing as he looked at his Dark Mark— "He's angry now, I just felt it—but she started feeling sick and that was when I noticed her eyes. She told me she was going to get medicine, but she never came back. And that's when she went to Hogsmeade. You're saying that she didn't know that you were at Hogsmeade that night?"
"She didn't know," Sirius echoed.
"Look," said Regulus. "You know that book you were looking for? Darkest Magicks?"
Sirius nodded but was having trouble concentrating on anything other than the fact that time was running out and with every second Scarlett felt farther and farther away. "Yeah, yeah, the ripped chapter. I saw. I figured it had to do with the Dark Mark."
Regulus began to pace quickly towards the library, and Sirius followed. "Lily was working in there. I went to get some fresh air," he explained. "She thinks that she's close to finding the chapter. She thinks that the library's getting a new copy of the book to put out tomorrow morning, cleaning up for the end of the school year. Lily was going to see if they'd let her see it early. They haven't done it yet, Pince says, because those chapters of the book were taken using some Dark Magic. It wouldn't let them try to grow the pages back, you know, Transfiguration magic—wouldn't let them repair the book."
He paused as they turned a corner. "I hope she has it," he said lowly. "It's the only thing that can give us an answer. The only reasonable lead we've had."
They didn't talk after that, concentrated on getting to the library as soon as they could. They slowed their walk as they approached the main door, and Sirius's eyes were diverted to one of the library's large windows.
He saw Lily through the window; she was engrossed in a book and Sirius's heart thumped wildly at the hope that it may contain the answers he was desperate for. He watched her turn a page, slowly, and put a hand to her mouth, her eyebrows furrowing. She looked horrified and seeing her through that window horrified him too.
Regulus opened the library door for both of them and walked with long strides towards Lily. "Is that it, Lily?" he said excitedly, but she did not immediately look up at him, reading the page she was on first. She looked up at Regulus; the expression on her face was haunting.
Both Sirius and Regulus went for the book at the same time and began to read. "She let me read it early," Lily said quietly. "It was going to be put out tomorrow. But she let me read it early."
As soon as Sirius read the title of that ripped out chapter his stomach clenched. It was the hardest thing in the world to read on but he knew he had to.
Chapter 7 - On the Horcrux
The Horcrux is said to be legendary amongst Dark Wizards. It is one of the most superior of Dark Magicks in that it aims to lengthen the life of the Dark Wizard. Only a Dark Wizard pursuing the longevity of life, at any cost, can be so bold and brave as to attempt this wizardry.
In order to form a Horcrux, another human life is required as a sacrifice. The killing of another human being splits the soul of the Dark Wizard; the newly divided part of the soul then is housed in an object. Where the split component of the soul goes is the decision of the Dark Wizard attempting such Magick. Many Dark Wizards have historically shown to hide a Horcrux in an object that is of personal value; unlike a Portkey, which is made of commonplace object so as not to catch the eye of a Muggle, the Horcrux is a representation of the Wizard whose soul it houses. By housing the soul in another object, the Wizard does not die, even when his body does.
What happens once the Horcrux is made? The Dark Wizard who has now made the Horcrux has the freedom to store it wherever he wishes. Many will keep their Horcruxes close. To lose a Horcrux, to kill the soul inside of a Horcrux, is extremely painful for the Dark Wizard who has created it. It is as if they are losing their life. Once a soul is lost, it can never be regained, and the Wizard must live as a shattered being for the rest of his days.
However, it is important to also explore the process in creating a Horcrux in more depth. Only a few Dark Wizards have attempted this wicked magic, and it is necessary in discussing Horcruxes to discuss methods used by known Dark Wizards. The first reported Horcrux was created by a European wizard named Victor D'Ashly, driven to fear by the Black Death to kill an individual and use the split portion of his soul in a Horcrux. How he understood the ability of the soul to harbor itself in an object is unknown; many believe that wizards before had thought to make a Horcrux was nothing more than myth, an interesting concept to pass around a fire when discussing magical theory.
The next notable Dark Wizard to make a Horcrux was Megara Medway, some centuries later. Medway's story is perhaps the most discussed when Horcruxes are mentioned. Medway's abuse by her husband led her to plan a strategy that is admired to this day. Casting the Horcrux's spell on a pin, she gifted to him the cursed object.
His death was not immediate; scholars claim that Medway's husband lived for at least another year after she cursed him. What is interesting about the method Medway chose was the subtlety of the incident; her husband might not have even known the cause of his own death.
The cause was simple and ingenious. Megara charmed the pin to take remnants of her husband's soul, day by day, until he deteriorated. He became weak and constantly tired. His limbs grew heavy and he grew moody and unsettled. By the time of his death he was a shell of his former self, completely unlike the brutish figure that Megara had been abused by. Dark Magick analysts consider this a form of "investment"; Megara split her soul prematurely to inhabit the pin, and then her soul began to overcome his own. By the time he realized there was anything peculiar about his illness it was too late to save him. Megara thus used the Horcrux twofold: not only did she use the Horcrux as a traditional storage unit for a Dark Wizard's split soul, she also used it as the vehicle in which to kill. Hers was the first of its kind at the time.
One final notable Wizard expanded upon Megara's idea. Patrick Kenton was a researcher of Dark Magick during the 1940s as an assistant for Grindlewald. His experiments, while failed, represented another new potential for the Horcrux branch of magic. Many of the witches and wizards Kenton used as subjects for his tests were captured Squibs or Muggleborns, undesired in the "perfect world" Grindlewald so desperately wanted.
In Kenton's most famous experiment, he utilized the same technique that Megara did in using the Horcrux as the method of killing. He put a barrette, which contained a part of his soul, in an unsuspecting Squib witch's hair and asked her to record her daily experiences within the testing center. Her journal entries over the course of the year progressively grow more manic, mirroring Medway's previous success.
What is particularly interesting about the case, Sirius read, was that the subject seemed to become under the Dark Wizard's influence. In a way that resembles both Legilimency and the Imperius curse, he was able to read the thoughts of the woman, to see things through her perspective, and to manipulate her into doing things she had no desire to do herself. As the year progressed, he was able to gain more power over his subject, which he observed by saying that the "Sparkle in her Eye—that of Which gives All whom Breathe true life—Soon resembled the Light of my own Iris."
Unfortunately, Kenton's experiment failed when he tried to "pull" the woman's soul away from her prematurely. Not enough under his influence, but unsustainable as the individual she'd once been, she fell into a coma that she never awoke from. Within the sphere of his branch of magic Kenton was exiled for his arrogance.
The power of the Horcrux has unlimited potential. As Dark Wizards try to make more Horcruxes, and find other techniques in which to harness the true power of the Horcrux, it is clear that the Horcrux was—and will always be—a revered and dangerous magic that has been around since our past and will likely be a part of our future.
There was a period of silence as Regulus and Sirius both finished reading.
They looked up at Lily, who was trying not to shake but failing. She hadn't stopped looking horrified. Sirius saw Regulus in his eye's periphery; he was ashen.
Sirius did not want to know what he looked like.
"I have to get her," he said, standing up from his chair so quickly that it nearly fell over. "He's going to try to kill her tonight. I have to stop him."
Lily grabbed his sleeve tightly. "Sirius, you can't do that!" she said, her voice wavering. "We need to talk about how we're going to save her, you can't impulsively fight a battle with Voldemort, he's the strongest Dark—"
"I don't care!" roared Sirius as he wrenched his arm away from Lily. "Don't you understand? He's possessing her. He's taking her into the forest tonight to try to kill her. There's something in the forest, I don't know what it is, but he'll find it and he'll kill her and make his Horcrux. He won't make a mistake unless we stop him. If nobody stops him then she will die, Lily—"
Sirius looked over at his brother, who had spoken. He hadn't regained any of his color and looked dazed from shock.
"Sirius," Regulus repeated, blinking to refocus his eyes. "If you go into the forest, with such a small chance of living...would you kill her too? If you kill him, like you want to, then she will die anyway." Sirius opened his mouth, ready to protest, but Regulus continued. "I have to go," he said quietly. "He would never let you live, Sirius. I'm a Death Eater; he has less reason to kill me than he does to kill you."
"No," Sirius said firmly. "I told her I would be there for her, I don't care about the chances that I die, I care about her living—"
"Regulus is right," Lily chimed in. "Maybe none of us have a chance, but if anyone does it's Regulus." She wiped her eyes. "We need to get Dumbledore, Sirius. Immediately. Before something more terrible happens."
"No," Sirius repeated again, furious. "I need to save her from him—"
"Sirius!" Lily said again, and the tears were coming more furiously down her cheeks now. "The best chance of saving her is getting Dumbledore. He'll know what to do. Okay? Regulus will try to...Regulus," Lily said, "try to trick him, try to get him to come back into the school. If he hasn't found what he's looking for, tell him you know where it is. If anything has already happened—anything at all—send a signal. We will keep looking out for one."
Regulus nodded. He stood up from his chair as well. "I know you love her," he said to Sirius. "I know you want to go out there tonight. I want you to be safe too. I want us all to be safe. I will do whatever I can to make her safe again, Sirius. I promise that."
The two brothers stared at each other a moment longer; Regulus looked exhausted and Sirius looked infuriated. Then, Regulus turned to Lily, and his eyes grew tender. "You stay safe too," he said, and kissed her on the cheek before he turned and ran.
Lily took a shaky breath and turned to Sirius, who was looking at Regulus's retreating figure with envy. "We need to go now, Sirius. We need to get Dumbledore. Don't worry about not going out there. She'll be okay. Regulus will do all that he can."
But Sirius wasn't settled by her comments. Even as they began their walk to Dumbledore—a walk that felt like an eternity—Sirius wasn't satisfied at all with being where he was. He deserved to be in Regulus's place, deserved to be the hero. How could he feel any satisfaction in the role Lily and Regulus had given him?
He deserved to be her hero. He deserved to save her, because this had been all his fault. If he hadn't kissed her that first time—if he had fought his selfish urges to be with her in spite of all that faced them—she might have been safe now. She would have been with Theodore, and he might have lived a lifetime unable to act on his feelings for her, but she would have been safe. Her life might not have been in danger.
Sirius hated that he couldn't be the one to save her.
But, more than anything else, he hated that she needed to be saved in the first place.