Chapter 25 : A Requirement
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Morning, it was a time that was dreaded above all other times. It meant that Harry was about to face another day at Hogwarts. At Hogwarts Harry felt trapped and worthless. Most of his Professors had been supportive but lately even Slughorn had run out of excuses for Harry’s dismal performance in class.
Since the night Ginny had informed him that Draco Malfoy was living in Grimmauld Place nothing else seemed to matter. He hadn’t spoken to her since and surprising even to him, he didn’t want to. Somewhere deep inside he realize she was just trying to do what was right but he connected her secrecy with betrayal and that was something he simply didn’t need right now.
Hermione had taken Ginny’s side in the disagreement, naturally, but in Harry’s mind the majority of the blame lay on Ginny not Hermione. Ron had elected to not get in the middle of things, which was good since Harry needed somebody neutral to talk to. He knew he could not figure out the message Dumbledore had left for him on his own.
Harry eyes protested but opened to face the sunlight of the new day blaring through the window of the dormitory. Neville Longbottom’s stumbled out of the door as his robe billowed behind him.
“Morning,” Ron said lightly. “We’re going to be late again.”
Harry groaned loudly before rolling out of his bed. “You shouldn’t have waited.”
Ron shrugged. “You know how I enjoy driving Hermione mad. Besides, I wanted to run another idea by you.”
“Another idea?” Harry asked warily. He knew Ron was only trying to help but his routine suggestions of what Dumbledore’s cryptic message might have meant were more frustrating than helpful.
Ron nodded. “I actually had it come to me last night while I was sleeping. Remember in our first year when you woke me up to look at that mirror, oh what was it called?”
“The Mirror of Erised,” Harry answered sleepily.
“Yeah, that’s the one. What if Dumbledore meant for you to find that mirror? That would definitely make the double part of his message make more sense.”
“One problem, I don’t know where he hid it,” Harry replied annoyed. “Not to mention I don’t think the Mirror of Erised would fit into my pocket.”
Ron tossed Harry a shirt that was lying on foot of his bed. “It would show you what your heart desired, which would be what Dumbledore meant you to have in your pocket. It just doesn’t make any sense—doubles, a requirement, something in your pocket…”
“I don’t think it was supposed to make sense,” Harry grumbled. “Do you think Slughorn would notice if I didn’t show up today?”
Ron grinned. “His star student-- he’s still whining because you aren’t living up to your reputation of being an expert potion maker.”
The previous year seemed like such a distant memory. He couldn’t even fathom a world where Dumbledore was still alive and thing that upset him the most was Hermione’s resentment over the Half Blood Prince’s book.
“Maybe we should ask Hermione,” Ron suggested slowly.
It wasn’t the first time Ron had suggested asking Hermione for advice on what Dumbledore had told Harry but just like the first time he had suggested it Harry instantly said no.
“But she’s good at figuring things like this out,” Ron continued.
Harry felt his temper bubbling towards the surface at the mere suggestion of trusting Hermione, who he knew would tell Ginny. “I don’t need Hermione’s help with this one.”
“It’s your call mate,” Ron finally conceded. “I’m going to head down to breakfast for a spot. Catch you in a bit then?”
“Yeah, I’ll be along,” Harry replied.
He knew Ron was probably right. Hermione was good at figuring things out but he knew that if Hermione knew that Ginny would find out. He simply didn’t trust her to respect his wishes.
Harry reached for his wand and tucked it into his pocket before tossing his robe around his shoulders. He picked up his book satchel and then froze. His hand reached back down into his pocket and he pulled out his wand. A recollection from when he had just discovered he was a wizard came to him. He was merely a kid who had just discovered he was a wizard. He didn’t often reflect on that part of his life and often he tried not to think about how his wand was the sibling of Lord Voldemort’s. In fact he had even told himself more than once that it was no more the fault of the wand than it was his fault to be related to the Dursleys. All of a sudden, the fact that his wand was the pair of the Dark Lord’s wand seemed very unnerving.
“Something in my pocket… or something that should have been in my pocket,” Harry whispered. He had mentally slapped himself for leaving without his wand the night he sought out a chat with Dumbledore’s portrait. It has been a stupid move on his part but he had been in such a hurry to talk to Dumbledore that he had left it in his book satchel.
It all made sense. His wand was something that should have been in his pocket, it had a double and it was a requirement to being a wizard. Did this mean that Voldemort’s wand was the Horcrux he had yet to figure out?
If the Dark Lord’s wand was the Horcrux then it created a whole new challenge for Harry. It was already going to be tricky enough trying to lure Nagini away from Voldemort but trying to steal the Dark Lord’s wand would be impossible. Harry began to count the Horcruxes in his head as a wave of panic rushed through him.
“There was the diary, ring and locket… that makes three that are destroyed.” Harry thought to himself. “Something that belonged to Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff’s cup, Nagini and his wand…”
Harry blinked hard as he thought to himself. If Voldemort didn’t find anything that belonged to Gryffindor or Ravenclaw then perhaps he did use his wand. Obviously he was very fond of the magical item. Did Dumbledore suspect that Voldemort might have used his own wand to make a Horcrux?
Harry let out a deep sigh. Oh how things would make so much more sense if he simply knew how a Horcrux was made. If Lord Voldemort needed a wand to make a Horcrux then it was impossible for his wand to be a Horcrux.
He tossed his wand back into his pocket as the idea that seemed so solid only moments before it fell apart. He expected to be the last Gryffindor in the common room since he had not taken school very seriously since his return to Hogwarts. His hopes that the trophy given to Tom Riddle might be a Horcrux had completely destroyed his desire to even be in the castle. In all honesty, he looked forward to returning to The Burrows for Christmas.
He didn’t have the heart to leave Mrs.Weasley during the holidays to finish his task. She wouldn’t take his leaving very well and the fact Harry knew that if he left Ron would certainly followed added to the guilt. No, he would spend the holidays at The Burrow and then he would deal with the issue of Draco.
Somehow he had connected Draco staying at Grimmauld with his search with the Horcruxes. He had mentioned briefly once that he wanted to question Draco about the Hocruxes but Hermione had begged him to think about what he was planning on doing. He knew that Draco probably didn’t even know what a Horcrux was but it would be an excuse to confront his enemy and possibly learn the location of Snape.
Harry felt his mouth grow dry and bitter and the mere thought of his old Potions Professor. His greatest fear was that Dumbledore had trusted Snape too much. Surely Snape was curious about what happened to his hand and what if he told the Dark Lord about his concerns. Would Voldemort put together the puzzle and realize that Dumbledore was out to destroy his Horcuxes?
Harry turned sharply, take back slightly that somebody was still lingering in the Gryffindor common room.
Neville Longbottom looked worn and broken. Harry had noticed it a couple week ago but didn’t want to comment. He assumed that he was feeling the extra burden of his father’s legacy from his grandmother. It would explain why Neville had been attempting to take his studies so seriously.
“Hey Neville,” Harry greeted. He knew he was already going to be late for Slughorn’s class.
Neville lowered his head for a brief moment then seemed to suck in a deep breath for a bit of courage. “Some of us have been wondering when we’re going to be able to help.”
“Help with what?” Harry asked, genuinely confused.
Neville spoke in a low grim voice. “You know, we want to help with what’s going on. We want to help you fight this war.”
Harry didn’t know how long he stood there staring at Neville before he finally regained the power of speech. “Neville, this isn’t a game or a school club. Do you have any idea what happens to those to stand up against the Dark Lord?”
He immediately regretted saying it. Neville knew very well what happened to those to stand up against the Dark Lord.
“We know what’s at risk,” Neville said in a bleak voice. “There is a group of us who want to do something, anything. You’re in the…” he lowered his voice, “The Order of the Phoenix aren’t you? I’m willing to bet they let you join.”
“Technically, wait how do you know about the Order?” Harry inquired.
Neville raised his eyebrow. “I’ve heard the tales too you know. Your parents weren’t the only ones who fought You Know Who.”
Harry nodded as he realized that he was coming dangerously close to sounding like those he loathed at the moment. The Order had treated him like a child and he was doing the same thing to Neville.
“Susan Bones, Luna Lovegood and myself all want to do more. We know you’re up to something. Frankly, nobody expect you to return to Hogwarts after what happened to Dumbledore,” Neville continued.
“Yeah, I didn’t actually think I’d be back either,” Harry admitted. “Neville, if there was something you could do I’d tell you but there isn’t. Right now you need to keep yourselves safe. The Order is going to need bodies to fight soon. There is a rather high turn over rate among the members and this war is nowhere close to ending.”
“What about the DA, we could start I up again,” Neville began. “We still have access to the Room of Requirement.”
“NO!” Harry spat instantly. “I’m not a teacher and I don’t have time to play around this year.”
“I didn’t think it was playing around,” Neville said defensively. “You’re not the only one who has something to lose.”
Harry swallowed hard as he felt an odd sensation of familiarity in the conversation. “Listen, we’ll talk later. Right now if I don’t get to Potions Slughorn is going to have my arse.”
“Yeah,” Neville said dully before snatching his satchel and dashing out of the portrait opening before Harry could say anything else.
Harry glanced at the clock and let out a deep sigh of frustration. He was officially late for class and without the Prince’s copy of Advance Potion’s Making he was not exactly Slughorn’s favorite these days. He’d most likely earn a detention and that was certainly something he didn’t have time for.
By lunch Harry was fairy certain the day was not going to get any better. Slughorn had not given him a detention but had given him a firm verbal warning about tardiness in front of the entire class. Charms hadn’t been much better, he had been so distracted by his conversation with Neville that he had been unable to do any of the wordless magic, which had earned him homework from Professor Flitwick.
On his way to lunch he had nearly collided with Ginny in the corridor. She had muttered under her breath but he hadn’t been able to make it out. It sounded something like bloody prat but Harry was fairly certain he didn’t want to know the exact vocabulary used. As he sat playing with his creamed potatoes he couldn’t help but feel that sinking sensation that the worst part of the day was still yet to come.
“I can’t believe how late you were this morning,” Hermione lectured as she and Ron took a seat in front of him. “You’re lucky Slughorn didn’t give you a detention. That is the second time this week you were late for his class.”
“Leave him alone, Hermione,” Ron warned.
“I was talking to Neville,” Harry said blankly. “It doesn’t matter, we only have two weeks left.”
“Neville? Did he talk to you about restarting the DA? I told him you wouldn’t think it was a good idea but he said he had to give it a go,” Hermione continued. “Harry, they just want to help. Everybody feels so worthless right now. People are dying. Did you know Neville’s father has fallen into a coma? I can’t blame him for wanting to do something more.”
Harry raised his right eyebrow but his eyes remained focused on his potatoes. He was about to tell Hermione that he really didn’t feel up to the banter when something Neville had said hit him like a bag of gobstones.
“It’s a requirement!” Harry said abruptly.
“Yes, potions is a requirement to graduate Hogwarts if you elected to pursue a NEWTs level potions class,” Hermione replied.
“No, it’s a requirement as in the Room of Requirement,” Harry said in an irritated voice. He glanced at Ron who seemed puzzled for a moment before catching on.
Ron blinked, “Oh, why didn’t I think of that. It all makes sense. What better place to stash a message intended just for you than in the Room of Requirements.”
“Who would stash a message?” Hermione asked.
Harry smiled as he made eye contact with Ron, “Dumbledore.”
“What about the pocket thing?” Ron pointed out. “The Room of Requirement doesn’t fit in your pocket.”
Hermione narrowed her eyes. “What in Merlin’s name are you two going on about?”
Ron looked cautiously at Harry and it was obvious he was wondering if Harry was going to tell Hermione about his conversation with Dumbledore’s portrait. For a moment, Harry considered not telling Hermione but loyalty got the best of him and he finally decided it was time to let her in on his new revelation.
“I talked with Dumbledore’s portrait,” Harry began in a low whisper.
Hermione frowned. “Surely Dumbledore wouldn’t have allowed his portrait to retain any memory of what the two ofyou were doing. It would be too dangerous. If the Dark Lord got his hands on it then he could coax the memories out and learn what Dumbledore was up to before…”
Ron grabbed Hermione’s hand as he noticed a look of frustration growing on Harry’s face. “We already know that.”
“Dumbledore told me as much, Hermione. He did leave a cryptic message for me. He told me that whatever I needed for the quest was in my pocket and that it was a requirement.”
“And something about doubles,” Ron added.
“What was in your pocket?” Hermione asked instantly.
Harry shrugged. “Nothing that was the mystery of it. So it had to be something that was supposed to be in my pocket. The only thing I could figure was it had to be my wand but there is no way the wand is a…” Harry looked around to make sure nobody was listening, “a Horcrux.”
“Perhaps not,” Hermione mused. “So you think the requirement part is referring to the Room of Requirments?”
“Why else would he choose those words? It makes sense that Dumbledore might have hidden a note or something for me there,” Harry replied.
He made a motion to leave the table when Hermione grabbed his arm and gave him a stern look. “We have Defense Harry. If you keep skipping classes you’re going to get into serious trouble not to mention people are going to start putting two and two together. It’s already obvious you aren’t back at Hogwarts for the education of it all…” She suddenly stopped in the middle of her lecture and her eyes grew wide.
“What is it?” Ron asked.
Hermione motioned towards Harry’s pocket. “Of course he’d expect you to have them in your pocket. I can’t believe you didn’t have them with you that night. Don’t you two remember? He left them for Harry to find. The medallions that we found at Godric’s Hollow and at Porter’s Glen are the doubles. Dumbledore would have assumed that Harry would still be working them out when he sought out his portrait.”
“There was no way Dumbledore would have even known that I was going to Godric’s Hollow,” Harry argued.
Hermione shook her head. “It’s logic, think about it what was the first thing you wanted to do after Dumbledore died?”
“Murder Snape,” Harry replied flatly.
Hermione took a heavy breath. “No, you wanted to return to Godric’s Hollow. Dumbledore must have known you’d visit there first before the next school year. There was no way that McGonagall was going to allow you to talk to Dumbledore’s portrait right after the incident. He must have suspected that you would seek out his portrait for help with the medallions.”
“And about the requirement part?” Ron asked.
Hermione paused. “That does pose a bit of a problem but maybe it’s as simple as Harry initially thought. Maybe whatever we’re looking for is in the Room of Requirements.”
“The Mirror of Erised,” Ron interjected. “That must be where Dumbledore hid it.”
Hermione looked at him with a confused expression but Harry waved his hand as if to say not to even ask.
“I’ll go back to the dormitory and get the medallions and then we’ll go the Room of Requirments,” Harry explained.
Hermione again grabbed his arm as he made a motion to leave. “No, we’ll go to Defense first.”
“So Hermione can see Krum,” Ron said wistfully under his breath.
Harry took a long look at his two best friends and finally agreed. Hermione was rarely wrong when she gave advice and Harry definitely didn’t want to attract anymore unwanted attention.
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