Chapter 9 : The Truth About the Envelops
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Harry and Hermione turned bright red and quickly let go of each other. They turned away from each other and mumbled nonsense, while Ron grinned brightly.
"No use trying to hide," laughed Ron. "I saw that! He he he! Harry and Hermione are in love!" Ron sang the last line gleefully like a teenage girl and fluttered his eyelashes.
Hermione's face was so red that it was redder than Ron's hair. She muttered something about checking on Duncan because it was Dobby's day off today and left Harry alone with Ron.
"So," Ron clapped his hands, "how long has this been going under my long nose?"
Harry fidgeted, looking everywhere but Ron. "Um... last night? I suppose...." Suddenly, Harry found himself given a bear-hug by Ron.
"Took you long enough!" shouted Ron happily. "I've been dreaming of this moment ever since I met Luna. She helped me realize how good one feel when one's loved. I've been looking at you two for a long time and decided that you are the perfect match. You've got the right chemistry. You've got the trust. You two even look God-damned good like parents when you are taking care of Duncan! What more can I hope for? My best friends are becoming a couple!"
"But... I thought..." Harry stammered, finally looking up and saw Ron's smiling face, " I thought you liked Hermione...."
Ron nodded. "Yes, I did, once upon a time. That was a long time ago and it was really just a crush. Besides, I've found the love of my life now, anyway. Do you think I am the kind of man who would be in love with two girls at the same time?" Ron pouted in mock anger.
"You... don't mind?" Harry asked uncertainly. After seeing Ron's smiling face, Harry was convinced. He too smiled. "Oh! Thanks!"
"For what?" Hermione finally returned with Duncan. Her eyes traveled between the two boys suspiciously. "What's been going on since I left?"
Harry grinned and took Duncan off Hermione. "Nothing, I just told Ron of our new and improved relationship."
"I see...." Hermione's voice trailed off as she blushed. However, judging by Harry and Ron's facial expression, Hermione knew that Ron was in league with them.
There was an awkward silence, but soon broken by Duncan's gurgles. "Gah!" said Duncan and reached up and grabbed Harry's glasses, which then fell off.
Harry shouted angrily as he pulled his glasses out of little Duncan's grasp. "Hey, Duncan! Aren't you the naughty boy?"
Ron then cleared his throat. "Um, why don't we go out in the snow? I bet Duncan hasn't seen snow before. I'll meet you two by the lake in fifteen minutes. I must get Luna first." With that said, Ron ran off.
After Ron left, Hermione looked worriedly up at Harry. "Harry...."
"Shh..." Harry put his free hand against Hermione's lips. "Let's not worry about the envelops now. We'll go out there for a good time. Then, we'll come back to worry."
Hermione nodded in agreement. She raised to the tip of her feet and gave Harry a kiss on the cheek.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Harry! You and Hermione are no fun!" shouted a snow covered Ron standing afar. "You two are boring! Just sitting there making snow castle for Duncan. You aren't even parents yet! Get your butt over here and have a good snow fight with us!" Wham! Just then, another rather large snow ball flew towards Ron's direction and landed right in Ron's mouth.
Luna's dreamy silver-bells laughter rang. " Ha ha! I got my Ronnie full in the mouth!"
Ron, much to Harry and Hermione's amusement, started to dig the snow from his mouth and nose with great difficulty. "You are doomed, Looney Lovegood!" screamed Ron as he ran off to chase Luna.
"Will they ever grow up?" smiled Hermione as she added a tower to Duncan's snow castle.
"Ron?" Harry shook his head. "I once thought he would, but now seeing what sort of girl Luna is, I really doubt the possibility." Harry gazed at the girl beside his and saw her smile slowly faded and finally transferred to a frown. "No, Hermione, not today, not now. What did I tell you before we got here?" Harry warned, knowing exactly what was going on in Hermione's pretty head.
Hermione sighed. "It's just really hard not to think about it. Do you think we should tell Ron?"
Harry nodded gravely. "Yes, he is our best friend after all. He has a right to know. Stop thinking about it, Hermione. We'll talk about this later."
As Harry and Hermione gazed into each other's eyes lovingly, both had forgotten the existence of Duncan. Suddenly, they heard a loud crashing noise and turned their attentions back to Duncan immediately. "Duncan!" the both groaned.
Duncan sat happily in the remain of the squashed snow castle. He smiled innocently up at the older people before him. The front of his clothes was covered in snow, all the way up to his mouth. Clearly, not only had Duncan destroyed the snow castle, he had also eating parts of it.
An exhausted Ron dropped to the ground beside Harry and Hermione. "I'm so tired! Looney is too good. You two didn't even help me! You just sat and let Looney have her way! What sort of friends are you? Humph!"
"Gave up already?" enquired Luna as she headed towards the Trio and the baby. "Say surrender and I'll let you off."
"Ok!" Ron put up his hands. "No more snow balls. I surrender! Now, can we go back for some food?"
Everyone laughed at Ron's never satisfied appetite.
Hermione pulled herself together first. "Sure, why not? But we won't dine in the Hall today. Harry, get some food off the house-elves. We'll eat in Llyr. Ron, you are coming, we have important matters to discuss with you." She then added, "You are welcome too, Luna."
Ron groaned loudly. "When Hermione calls for a meeting, it's never good. Let me guess, you are calling us to discuss NEWTs study timetable?"
"No," Hermione denied. "You'll find out later. Are you coming, Luna?"
Luna thought for a while. "No, thank you. I know, it's one of those 'Trio Secret Meetings'. I think I'll excuse myself."
Hermione nodded. "Very well."
As she turned to walk back to the castle, she thought she heard Ron's whisper, "Not NEWTs? Then I'll bet it's about SPEW!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Wh... what?!" Ron nearly fainted after Harry and Hermione told him about the envelops. "This is serious stuff! We should tell Dumbledore! We could all be killed."
"Calm down, Ron. We will tell Dumbledore. We just thought you'd like to know about this too."
"Damn right you are!" Ron was still far from clam. "You didn't even tell me that you received more than the initial envelop! Do you still see me as a friend?"
"Of course we do...."
"Then you can count on me for help, no matter what happens."
"Oh, Ron!" Hermione suddenly threw herself on Ron. "Thank you for being so understanding. Thank you."
Ron turned bright red and slowly pulled Hermione away from him. "Thanks, but next time when you want to practice your hugging technique, do it on Harry. I'm taken. Now, we should head off to Dumbledore's office...."
Just then, the door to Llyr opened to reveal Dumbledore in the door way. "You want to see me, I presume?"
The Trio turned. "Oh, yes, Professor. We were just about to head down to your office. Come in, please," answered Hermione.
"What is it that you wish to discuss with me?" asked Dumbledore. "However, I would suggest you to put young Mr. Dursley to his bed before we begin."
True enough, Duncan had fallen asleep in Hermione's arms. Hermione quickly brought the baby to his room before coming out again.
"Now, what is this thing you'd like me to know?" asked Dumbledore kindly.
Hermione pulled her ancient book open to the page she was reading the previous night. "Here, Professor, states that the envelops Voldemort is sending belongs to a category of Chinese ancient dark art named, 'Tan Dee San Cia'. It says that this brand of dark magic is the most powerful dark magic in the world, though it is believed to be lost. It has the ability to wipe out the whole world if Voldemort choose to. Am I right about the envelops? The book didn't say too much on the topic. But I suppose that you would know more about it."
Dumbledore sighed heavily. "Yes, you are right, Miss Granger. The envelops are of the terrible 'Tan Dee San Cia' curse. This curse had been invented by the Chinese wizards thousands of years ago to get rid of their enemies. They would perform the curse and send them to the person of their choice a series of eight characters. One character would be posted per month. If the envelops hadn't been handled with care, the dark magic in one envelop would be enough to kill those in the same room. However, even if the series of the first seven characters didn't kill the person intended, a terrible curse would be activated once the person received the last envelop. That curse would give the sender the ability to wish anyone in the world dead. In short, if Voldemort managed to get all eight characters to the person he intended, no one would be safe in the world. He could just wish someone dead and that person would drop on the ground, even if he's on the other side of the world. This curse was so terrible that the Ministry of Magic in China banned it thousands of years ago. They burned every manuscript found around the country and killed anyone who knew how to do it to prevent anyone from using it ever again. How Voldemort comes to the knowledge of performing such curse is unknown."
"Eight characters? We've already got three!" exclaimed Ron. "That means that we only have five months to find a counter curse to block the curse when it activates or anyone could die at any minute?"
"But how?" asked Harry. "What's the counter curse?"
Dumbledore shook his head sadly. "There's no known counter curse. As I said, this curse was invented and banned a long time ago. No one should even know how to use it and therefore no one knows the counter curse even if there was one."
Harry thought for a while. "You mean, the only way to stop Voldemort would be to stop him before he sent out all eight characters?"
"That may be the only way," agreed Dumbledore.
"NO!" Hermione, who had previously listened quietly, suddenly shrieked. "That is too dangerous. Seeking out Voldemort would be suicidal. No one should ever do such thing! I will find or invent the counter curse even if I have to die for it. But no one, I repeat, no one should go after Voldemort as long as I'm alive!" The usually self-controlled Hermione was suddenly bright red with anger. The bossiness Harry and Ron managed to tone down throughout the years, reappeared to its full extend all of a sudden.
Dumbledore's eyes flashed for a split of a second, but turned back to their normal states immediately. "That would be good, Miss Granger. I wish you all the best to find the counter curse. Of course it would be dangerous and I have the least intention to send anyone at all after Voldemort." Dumbledore then turned to go. However, he stopped just before he stepped out of Llyr. "Also, Mr. Potter, your long awaited bed should be in young Mr. Dursley's room by now."
As soon as Dumbledore was out of their earshot, Hermione grumbled in complaint. "Oh great! Now we have an extra useless bed on our hand to take care of too."
"I don't see it as a bad thing," Ron grinned. "You and Harry can have an extra large bed if you connect the two beds together."
Hermione didn't make any comments on Ron's remark. She only ordered, "You two can go down to the library right now and start searching for a counter curse. I'll be down there with Duncan in ten minutes."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Hermione, we've been here for more than a week now!" complained Ron as he lay his head on top of a pile of old and dusty library books. "We've done what ever we could and there just isn't any counter curse. Just give up, Hermione, and let someone finish Voldemort off."
Hermione raised an eyebrow over the book she held up to her face. "Oh, really? And who might that someone be? Let's see... hmm... maybe someone named Harry Potter? No, Ron, we can't give up. We have to find the counter curse. Sending Harry after Voldemort is as good as murdering him with our hands. If we really can't find the right counter curse, we can at least find some useful spells for Harry. Be quiet and go to work."
Ron pulled a face. "I still can't believe this. I'm on holiday, free of prefect duties for the first time this year, and I'm sitting here doing research! I should be out there, dating my dear Luna."
Hermione replied, "Oh, it's good for you. Too much romance can ruin your brain. I'm saving you from utter brain destructions. You ought to thank me."
"I don't care! I'm starved! I mean starved! I want food!"
"You've had enough today. Stop complaining!"
Harry didn't say a word while Ron and Hermione argued. He was used to this. While he agreed with Hermione that going off after Voldemort would be a very dangerous thing to do, he couldn't see any other ways to stop Voldemort. Maybe he was destined to die in Voldemort's hands. If to save the whole population meant to give his life back to Voldemort after eighteen years, Harry would do it. But he knew that he could never leave Hermione and Duncan properly.
After another hour, Ron slammed down his books. "This is hopeless. I don't care, I can't find anything. I can also see that neither of you could. Let's just call it a day and finish now. After all, nothing is more important than filling your stomach."
As Ron gestured at the pile of books before him, a small and light book fell off the pile and landed on Duncan's stomach. "Waah!" Duncan woke with a start and began to cry loudly. As his fists bated against the book on top of him, a loose page fell out.
"What's this?" Hermione said as she picked it up. "Antibodies Against Death. Inspired by Muggles antibodies, this potion may help prevent death. Especially useful against malicious spell attacks. It is not 100% death-proof and would only work on people with certain degree of magic power...." Hermione read on. "This is really something, but it would be very hard to make enough for every single person, Muggle or wizard, in the world. Not everyone can use it either. Also, how are we going to let the whole world know of this recipe without the Death Eaters knowing? Still it's better than nothing, right? I shall start making this. Meanwhile, we should do as much research as possible. No, actually, we don't have much time.... We need to split the task. We really need a better protection charm than just this. From today onwards, Ron and I will keep researching. Ron on the odd days of the week, and I on the even. Harry will practice everything Dumbledore taught him plus whatever useful we can find daily with whoever not on research duty."
"But...," Ron opened his mouth to complain. However, with one glance at Hermione, he closed his mouth again.
I apologize a hundred million times to anyone who is still reading this story for not updating at all for more than half a year. Really really sorry. I've been busy... and lazy. I cannot try to get myself out of this using busy as my only excuse. Sorry, I should have updated. Hope there are still readers who support me. Thank you for reading this chapter, which should have been out a long long long time. I'll try finishing the story before school starts, to make up for my faults. Apology again.
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