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Harry Potter and the Final Flame by YelloWitchGrl
Chapter 8 : Chapter 8: His Severed Soul
Rating: 12+Chapter Reviews: 2

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“Where would they be?” Hermione grumbled as she ran a hand through her bushy hair, which was standing up more than usual today. Sighing heavily, she sat down next to Ron on the settee in the drawing room.

Harry shrugged and shook his head, as he stoked the fire, bringing it to a nice blaze. “After seeing the orphanage in the Pensieve, I was sure that he would hide one there.”

“It made sense,” Ron agreed slowly, as he frowned at the threadbare rug on the floor. “But maybe not in the way we first thought.”

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked, glancing sideways at him.

“I just mean…” Ron looked uncomfortably at her before adding, “maybe we weren’t looking at it correctly. What we would do isn’t what he would do.”

Hermione stood again and bit at her lip as she rung her hands. “The Horcruxes that we know about are the diary, the ring, the cup, the locket and possibly Nagini, right?”

“Yeah, that’s all I know of,” Harry replied, waiting for her to come to her point.

“So that leaves-” she counted on her fingers, “-only one more…” her eyes were grave as she turned to them. “That leaves us with a lot to cover and can we be sure that R.A.B. actually destroyed the locket?”

Harry felt his heart freeze momentarily. “I’m not willing to take that chance. If R.A.B. didn’t destroy it then killing Voldemort would be useless. He could rise again.”

“I agree,” Ron said without even shuddering at Voldemort’s name. “We have to figure out who R.A.B. is and find out what happened to it.”

“And,” Hermione continued on, “we have to find out what that last one is, which means following along his path.”

“How was Dumbledore looking?” Ron questioned suddenly, also getting to his feet. “Did he start from the beginning of his life or somewhere in the middle.”

Harry thought back to what he remembered from the old headmaster’s memories. “The… beginning.”

“He killed his father first, with his grandparents, right?” Hermione got out her notebook and began to make notes, sitting at the lone desk that occupied one wall of the room. “That was before he was even out of school, though.”

“No, it wouldn’t have been then,” Ron’s voice was sure and he walked over to look over her shoulder. “The teachers would have noticed the changes in him.”

“Not necessarily,” Hermione reminded him, gazing up into his face. “If he had only created one by that point.”

Harry halted and stared at her. “The diary!” he shouted and they both jumped.

“Bloody hell, you’re right!” Ron said, punching at the desk. “But… he didn’t know how to make it then, did he?”

“No, but…” Hermione flipped through her notebook which was half filled already with notes, “that would have been his seventh year at Hogwarts.” She looked between them before adding, “It doesn’t mean that he couldn’t preserve his younger self. I do agree, however, that this would be the first thing he’d want to save. He didn’t want all of that work to be for naught.”

“So did he use his father’s death to create the diary?” Harry asked.

Hermione shook her head. “No, I’m afraid not. They were already dead before he knew how to make them.”

“So who then?” Another thought occurred to him. “Do we know if this was before or after he left school?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione sighed heavily and laid her cheek down on the desk. “It doesn’t really matter, since you already destroyed the diary, but we have to figure out what came next.”

His stomach lurched, as it often did at odd times. The diary… that led him to thoughts of Ginny and those thoughts were hardly pleasant. She had nearly died because of that diary and if he could help it, he was going to pay Voldemort back for that. At the age of twelve, she had just been ‘Ginny, Ron’s baby sister’. Now she meant more… how much more, he was refusing to dwell on. If Voldemort ever found out how much he cared for her… but then again, it might not matter. Ginny had run away and he had no idea where she was. She could be in danger at this very moment and he wouldn’t know.

That thought did not sit well with him. It actually had killed most of his appetite and cost him countless nights of sleep.

Something was, however, going right for him. Harry had spent most of the past week trying to block her from his thoughts. While he wasn’t often successful, it had helped him to improve noticeably in Occlumency. He couldn’t keep Hermione out of his mind for long, but when they had first started he could not repel her at all. For her part, Hermione was progressing to not using her wand when they practiced, although she still relied on it heavily. “So what was his next move?”

“He-” Hermione raised her head from the desk and flipped back two pages in her journal. “He started work at Borgin and Burkes right after Hogwarts.”

This might be easier than he had first thought. “There he stole the cup and the locket.”

“You’re forgetting something, though,” Ron pointed out.

Hermione frowned slightly, and flipped back through her notes. “I don’t see what I-”

“The ring, Hermione,” Ron pointed out, looking slightly proud that he’d spotted something that she had missed.

Her mouth dropped open, as she blushed bright red, obviously flustered. “Oh my goodness, yes! I had forgotten about that! Voldemort stole the ring when he was 16 years old, so he might have made that Horcrux before leaving school as well.”

It was amazing to see her take her mistake so gracefully. The girl he had known, even a year ago, would have denied her slip up. While she didn’t look happy about it, she was accepting that she’d forgotten something. Probably because Ron looked so happy… “I don’t think so,” Harry mused out. “The first one, yes, but Voldemort still looked human when he left school. He could have made another one before he met with that old woman and nicked her things.”

“That would have been the ring, then. After he left school and before meeting up with her.” Hermione jotted down nearly a full paragraph before looking up again. “Do we know who he might have killed for that one?”

Harry shrugged, as did Ron. “Doesn’t matter, though, it’s destroyed.”

“You’re right, let’s keep going.” She consulted her notes again, although Harry saw that her cheeks were still tinged pink. “Do you think he created a Horcrux when he killed the old woman?”

It made sense… “Yes,” Harry muttered and shifted uncomfortably. It felt very wrong to be talking about murder so casually but… in the end, it needed to be done. They had to trace back Voldemort’s path of death and chaos if he was ever going to have a chance at killing him.

“What did he do after that?” Hermione gave Ron a fleeting look before turning back to her notes. Harry was amused to see that she had blushed again.

“Travel around the world, learning more dark magic. He went to Albania, I think,” Harry murmured, as he tried to think back on places that he knew Voldemort has been. “He still had only four objects then, as far as we know.”

Ron picked up a quill and twirled it around his fingers before setting it down. The firelight, which was dying now, danced over his face while he stared into it. “Do you suppose he left the other Horcruxes along his travels?”

The short answer to that was, ‘yes’. Harry could tell from Hermione’s face that she too had been thinking that exact same thing. “I don’t know how we’re going to find them,” she admitted after a lengthy silence. “We are only certain that the diary and the ring have been destroyed, but that leaves us with a lot of ground to cover.”

“How are we going to track him?” Harry’s stomach felt nauseated at the possibilities. It could take them years to locate all of them.

“We’re going to trace his steps from there,” Ron said suddenly. “Dumbledore was probably doing that very same thing and he had only gotten through the diary, the ring and what he thought would be the locket. Well, two of those deaths that could have happened before he began his travels.” He got up and stomped over to the fire, turning around to face them. His silhouette cast an eerie glow on the room. “So if he left with the necklace and the cup, then the deaths might also lead us to significant places for him.”

Harry ambled over to the couch and sat down, feeling the cushions envelope him in softness and a layer of dust. “This is getting complicated.”

Ron snorted, “I reckon it will be even more so when we’re finished.”

Leaning forward, he buried his head in his hands and nodded. “That leaves us with an entire world to cover and every day that we take, someone else could die.”

He heard Hermione’s breath hitch. “I…” her voice faltered but she continued on. “I know it is a daunting task that we have before us, but I also know that we can do this.” Harry jumped as he felt her sit down next to him. He hadn’t realized she’d even stood up from the desk and walked over. “We’ve been through a lot together.”

“Yeah,” Harry murmured and glanced sideways at Ron as he sat on Harry’s other side. “So what is our next move?”

“Albania, I think,” Hermione told them. “We don’t know how long he was there, or if he was just there when he was in spirit form, but it’s a start. I can’t think of a better plan.”

“And what are we going to do about finding R.A.B.?” Harry asked her as he reclined back into the couch and stared up at the cracked plaster on the ceiling.

Hermione patted his knee before pointing to her journal. “We have four questions that have to be answered. The first is: Who is R.A.B.?”

“What about the others?” Ron said, leaning over Harry to look at the paper.

“Second: What places were important to Voldemort? Third: Where did Voldemort go? Fourth: What is the final object?” She looked up as she finished her list.

“Well the second one is fairly easy,” Harry reminded her. “He liked Hogwarts.”

He watched her scribble a few more notes in her perfect penmanship. “But would he have had a chance to hide a Horcrux at Hogwarts?”

Could he? “Yes…” Harry answered slowly. “It is possible that when he came to interview for the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, that he was able to stash a Horcrux.”

“That’s a risk, though,” Ron pointed out, tapping at the journal. “If he hid something there, it could be stumbled upon by a student or professor.”

“There are lots of places to hide things at Hogwarts,” Hermione said carefully.

Ron nodded, “True, but it would still be dangerous to hide something there.”

“Agreed,” Harry added. “So should we head to Hogwarts?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Hermione told them. “We really need to do this in order, or we’re more likely to miss something and we know that he went abroad first. With so much ground to cover-”

Hermione froze. Harry and Ron were on their feet, wands drawn. A loud thump had resounded through the house, followed by the cacophony of Mrs. Black’s screaming. Moving swiftly and silently to the door, Harry peeked through and lowered his wand. Tonks was swearing loudly from below.

“Hey Tonks,” he called down and he watched her give a small wave before pulling at the curtain. Remus came bounding down the stairs from his room to help her.

Ron moved passed him and stared down as well, until finally they managed to get the curtain closed. They moved together, hand in hand, up the stairs and towards them. As they approached, Harry realized that Tonks’ clothing was dirty and tattered.

“What happened?” Hermione’s voice was full of concern as she took in the older woman’s appearance.

Tonks sighed and moved past them and into the room, to sit on the sofa. “You know what today is, right?”

“September 1st,” Hermione answered automatically. “Why?”

She glanced over at Remus before closing her eyes and leaning back against the couch. “The Hogwarts Express was attacked today.”

All four of them gasped. Hermione’s hands flew up to her mouth as she asked, “Was anyone… killed?”

She nodded once. “It was decided yesterday that Hogwarts would not reopen. The Aurors had received a tip that the train would be attacked and we passed that information along to McGonagall. She made the decision after that.” She let out a long breath, exhaustion emanating from her. “The train was still attacked though but instead of children, the Death Eaters were met by Aurors and MLE’s. When they realized it was a trap, the Death Eaters fled.”

“So… who was killed?” Harry questioned hesitantly.

Tonks opened her eyes and sat up straight, looking right at Ron. He backed up a step, reflexively, as Hermione gasped and put a hand on his arm. Harry felt a wave of nervous crash over him. No….

“Ron…” Tonks bit her lip before standing and placing her hands on his shoulders. “I’m sorry, but… Percy was killed today.”

The silence of the room was deafening. Finally a spark from the grate gave a loud crack as Ron let out a noisy breath. “Right.” He gave no other visible reaction besides that.

Hermione, however, let out a sob and Ron did respond to her. He pulled her into his arms and cradled her against his chest as she cried.

A numb feeling settled over Harry’s body and he didn’t know quite how to react. Unbidden, he spoke. “How is Mrs. Weasley?”

“She’s a mess,” Tonks admitted. “I went with Arthur and Kingsley to tell her after the fight. I think she is going to hold a service for him in the next few days.”

Conversation petered out after that. The three sat, once again, on the couch after Tonks left and Remus went up to bed. They didn’t talk but sat, instead, in silent support of Ron. He didn’t cry nor seem inclined to discuss his fallen brother.

Around 3am, he finally asked, “Is it wrong that I’m glad it was Percy and not one of the others?”

Neither Harry, nor Hermione, had an answer.

They delayed their departure, on Mr. Weasley’s orders, so that they could attend the funeral. Ron had said he didn’t care either way, but would attend for his mother. Harry tried to write to Ginny, but Hedwig was unable to find her. The day of the service, they received a very short note that Harry learned later, she had thankfully not sent to her mother.

Good riddance.

That had been it. Hermione had gasped and Ron had chuckled, a positive sign from the morose mood that had plagued him since he had found out.

The note she had sent her mother, said: Sorry but I can’t come. You are in my thoughts today. ~Ginny

“It could have been worse,” Ron admitted when they finally made it back to Grimmauld Place.

“I can’t believe he was engaged!” Hermione admitted in horror. “How could you have not heard about that?”

His fiancé, a fellow Ministry employee named Constance, had been present and crying loudly about his untimely death. The twins, who seemed to also be at the service under duress, had later told Harry that they were stunned that any woman, in her right mind, would actually put up with Percy.

“Maybe,” Fred had added, “she is under the Imperius Curse.”

Bill had cuffed the back of his head for the comment although Harry thought that the oldest brother might actually agree.

“Are we leaving tomorrow?” Ron asked, interrupting Harry’s musings.

Harry nodded, “We have to figure out where he went next.”

Hermione growled and threw her arms in the air before pacing around the drawing room. “I just wish I could figure out who R.A.B. was! It has been on my mind for days that I should know who he was but I can’t remember!”

“Yeah, if we don’t figure out who R.A.B. is, we’ll never find that locket,” Ron groaned out as they both watched Hermione stop to face the dirty, glass-fronted cabinets. She froze. “Hermione?” Ron questioned tentatively.

“Oh damn!” Hermione swore and she reached forward and flung the cabinet doors open.

Stunned, Harry and Ron didn’t move as she began digging through the few possessions that still remained. Neither of them had ever heard her swear before, but she was right now.

“How stupid could I get!? Regulus Black!” She muttered as she threw a tattered book to the floor.

Instantly the realization hit him and he spun to run to the tapestry that still hung on the wall. It had been here for the entire month that they had stayed in the house, and he hadn’t once thought to look at it! Searching through it quickly, he found the name, REGULUS BLACK. “There’s no middle name listed,” he shouted across the room to Hermione.

“It doesn’t matter,” she assured him. “The locket is gone and it is likely that we threw it out!”

Ron shook his head, “I didn’t even think about that old locket. It’s been nearly two years since we cleaned this place up.”

“It could be anywhere!” Hermione wailed as she sat down on the couch and Harry could see that there were tears in her eyes. “We don’t have the time to find it and I don’t even know where to start!”

Despair washed over Harry. He knew she was right and that they could search landfills for years without being able to locate it. That is, of course, if someone hadn’t magically vanished it. How was he going to be able to kill him without that last piece of his soul? “That locket wouldn’t open, so that must mean that Regulus didn’t destroy it.”

Hermione’s red eyes focused on his face. “I know!”

“Wait a minute, we really should figure out if Regulus is actually R.A.B. and if he is, why would he leave that locket in this cabinet?” Ron sat down next to Hermione and put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her in close to him. “I don’t know how we would verify it, but this is an important detail.”

“Who would we ask?” Hermione looked up at him before turning to Harry. “There isn’t anyone left to ask.”

But there was… he just hadn’t thought of him before. “Kreacher!” Harry called out in a loud, firm voice.

With a pop the ugly little house elf was before him. Only a second later, another pop announced the arrival of Dobby.

“Did master call?” Kreacher’s tone was full of murderous disdain.

“Dobby is here too, Harry Potter, sir!” Dobby told him, clearly glad to see him.

“Kreacher, what was Regulus’ middle name?” Harry looked down at the small elf.

“Arcturus,” Kreacher finally admitted, after glaring hatefully at Harry’s knees.

The three of them stared and then let out a cheer. They had found R.A.B.!

Harry turned to Hermione. “Now we know it was here, we have a place to start.”

“What is Harry Potter looking for?” Dobby interrupted, hopping slightly on his feet.

“We’re looking for-” and then the idea hit him. If only Hermione wouldn’t object. “A locket that used to be in this house. We threw it out, but we need it. Kreacher, do you have it?”

He shook his head, with insane happiness alighting his eyes. “Kreacher did not want the locket. It belonged to Master Regulus, not my Mistress.” It clearly delighted him to be able to tell Harry, ‘no’.

“Do you know what it looks like?” Harry probed, trying to keep his tone even.

Kreacher glowered up at him. “Kreacher knows.”

Without glancing back at Hermione, he finally said, “Kreacher, I want you to find that locket and bring it straight to me. You are not allowed to tell anyone else what you are doing for me.”

“Dobby will help, too, Harry Potter!” Dobby added excitedly, his ears flopping happily. “Hogwarts isn’t open this year so Dobby has a lot of time.”

“Kreacher will do as Master commands, but only because Kreacher has no choice but Kreacher would rather cut off his ears than do this for his master,” Kreacher answered and left with a pop. Dobby gave him an apologetic look and also disappeared.

Harry turned to face Hermione’s wrath but for once she did not look angry or reproachful. “That is a good idea. They can look in places that we can’t.”

He let out a sigh and turned away from his best friends. They were snuggled together again. The pain in his heart had not lessened from Dumbledore’s funeral, but grew steadily every day. It was not easy to forget Ginny, or how wonderful it had felt to hold her.

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