Chapter 20 : Running Away
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Hermione caught Ron’s attention the next morning with a glare. She paused in their cleaning long enough to whisper, “We need to leave tonight.”
“When we go after the Hor…” Ron started.
“Not here!” Hermione glanced around to make sure that no one had overheard their conversation. “Do you want everyone to know? We’ll finish our plans after lunch. Then we’ll leave after everyone’s asleep.” She didn’t give him a chance to answer, but hurried with another task Molly gave her.
They were surprised to be given some time after lunch, so they went to Ron’s room to talk. After checking for Extendable Ears, they began talking.
Ron looked around uneasily. “Why do you suppose Percy’s come back?” He decided to change the subject.
Hermione looked up. “Maybe he saw that he wasn’t giving your family a fair…”
“Chance?” Ron finished for her. “I don’t believe it. He believes anything anybody tells him and he doesn’t budge unless the person he looks up to the most changes their mind. He still blinking believes that filth from that Skeeter woman back in our Fifth Year.”
“RON!” Hermione was stunned at Ron’s vehemence. “And Percy doesn’t hate Harry.”
“I wouldn’t put it past him,” Ron said darkly, his ears turning a bit red. “He had to have been near the first to have heard that Harry broke up with Ginny. You know he spoke with me? Do you know what he said? He warned me to guard my back!”
“He means well,” Hermione said, ignoring Ron’s glare. “But what do we do about the Horcruxes?”
Ron began pacing. “It should have been all three of us looking for them…”
“I suppose we can research it a bit more and figure out the more likely spots they were placed in.” Hermione said slowly, tapping her chin as she thought.
“Well, didn’t Harry say there were six?” Ron said, counting them off on his fingers. “There was the diary and Slytherin’s ring, but they’ve both been destroyed. Then there’s Slytherin’s locket, but the one Dumbledore and Harry got was a fake and someone may or may not have destroyed it before they croaked. We have Hufflepuff’s cup and something of Ravenclaw’s or Gryffindor’s – though Harry said Dumbledore said that he was certain all the Gryffindor relics were safe. Then there’s the snake because You-Know-Who has so much control over that blooming snake.”
“And then Voldemort himself,” Hermione said. “The diary had been given to Lucius for safe-keeping until Voldemort said to use it, but he didn’t wait. Then the ring was found in Voldemort’s mother’s old house and the locket was in the caves where he had tortured those poor Muggle orphans when he was in the orphanage.”
“So we need to figure out where else he’d have stashed the Horcruxes, knowing the snake would be near him,” Ron said, exasperated. “And then how do we find them? Harry said he didn’t know that there was a door until Dumbledore pointed it out.”
Hermione sighed. “That will be difficult. They don’t teach that at Hogwarts, but I think I might have an idea…”
“Care to explain?” Ron demanded.
“Not right now,” Hermione said. “I’m still practicing. Harry said that Voldemort stayed for some time at his dad’s old house before the World Cup that year. Perhaps he’s hidden another Horcrux there?”
“Possible,” Ron said grudgingly. “So that leaves just one more spot and trying to find the real locket.”
Hermione frowned as she thought. “Harry said that Voldemort came back to request a teaching position from Dumbledore.”
“So?” Ron asked, not following her logic.
“He felt especially close to Hogwarts,” Hermione said.
Ron still wasn’t following.
“Ron, you can be so clueless!” Hermione said, completely exasperated. “Harry said Dumbledore said that Voldemort was placing the Horcruxes in places that had special meanings to him. What if he hid the Horcrux in the Slytherin house? Or even the Chamber of Secrets?”
Ron looked at her with a combination of shock and dread. “And it would explain why he also asked, knowing that Dumbledore would turn him down?”
Hermione nodded grimly. It appeared they were going to have to infiltrate the Slytherin common room and hope that it wasn’t hidden in the Chamber of Secrets, though with only Voldemort and Harry being Parselmouths, there was a good chance that it would lay there forever.
Hermione pretended to sleep so that when Molly checked on her, she wouldn’t linger. She heard the door snick closed. She began counting just like she had counted every other night only stopping when she barely heard another door snick closed. She started counting again to see if she would return. When she didn’t, Hermione got out of bed and tried to straighten out the wrinkles in her clothes. She didn’t want to use magic at the moment. She didn’t want the flashes of light to gain anyone’s attention. She picked up her rucksack silently and chewed her lip. She was positive she had everything they would need. She couldn’t take all her books and that bothered her more than a little. What if the information they needed was in one of the books she had left? But to take them all would be courting being caught, if not here at the Burrow, then elsewhere.
She took one last look around before taking a deep breath. She crept to the door and slowly turned the handle. She could hardly breathe as she opened the door, imagining that Mr. or Mrs. Weasley, or both, were standing there waiting for her. Did someone have an idea they were leaving tonight? She was fairly certain that they hadn’t been overheard, but what if they were? Could they manage to still keep to their plans?
She crept up the hall, her heart hammering. She carefully made her way up the stairs to Ron’s room. She knew that he likely had fallen asleep and most likely hadn’t packed. So there would be some delay while he tried to pack silently. What if someone heard then? She slipped into his room and silently shut the door behind her. She placed her rucksack on the ground carefully before making her way over to Ron. She placed her hand over his mouth as she shook him. His eyes widened when he saw her standing there. She took her hand away.
“What are you…” he started to grumble.
“Ron!” Hermione hissed. “Are you ready to go now?”
Ron looked away.
“I see. Would you be so kind as to get out of bed and get ready to go?” Hermione asked barely above a whisper.
Ron’s face turned bright red. “Er… Turn around.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and faced the wall instead of him. She could hear him moving behind her and finally he cleared his throat. She turned back to face him. “Ready?”
Ron nodded. “We’ll have to make our way downstairs, right?”
“Actually, I was thinking about Apparating from your room or the attic,” Hermione admitted.
“I don’t think you could Apparate from my room, but it is possible Dad didn’t ward the attic given the ghoul.” Ron looked up at the ceiling considering.
“What if the ghoul acts up?” Hermione asked, suddenly afraid.
Ron shook his head. “Dad did set wards so he stays in a certain area instead of roaming freely.”
“Do you know what those wards are?” Hermione asked.
Ron shook his head. “No.”
Hermione looked at the ceiling. “What if he starts making a ruckus?”
“Why?” Ron asked.
“They’ll come looking if he makes a ruckus, won’t they?” Hermione asked.
“And we’ll have Apparated to who knows where,” Ron pointed out.
Hermione frowned. “But they’ll know we’re gone sooner than we planned.”
“You planned that?” Ron shook his head with amazement. “When are you planning on them finding out we’re not here.”
Hermione waved her hand. “That doesn’t matter,” She looked around. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to try our first plan.”
“That would be…” Ron trailed off, waiting for her to tell him.
She sighed deeply. “Ron, we covered this already.”
“Remind me, then,” Ron shrugged.
“We’ll have to creep out of the house into the forest and Apparate from there,” Hermione said quickly. “And the sooner we do, the sooner we’ll be safely away.”
“I don’t know about the safe part,” Ron muttered as he followed Hermione down the stairs.
He hefted his rucksack again as they hurried across the yard, not wanting anyone to see them, including any Death Eaters that could be lurking about. Once they made it to the dubious safety of the trees, he dropped his rucksack and bent over, his hands on his knees as he tried to catch his breath. Hermione placed her rucksack more carefully on the ground, but she, too, tried to catch her breath. Once she could breathe easier, she started looking around. “Ready?” she asked after not seeing a single cloak.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Ron muttered. Apparating was not the easiest way for him to travel, but they didn’t have much of a choice. At least he had passed that second time. Hermione had taken him several days before Harry’s birthday with Harry’s agreement since they might need to Apparate away quickly and having two people who could Apparate would be far better than both of them trying to get to Hermione. Ron swallowed. Their careful planning had spun out of control and it hadn’t helped them one bit. Harry had been so proud when Ron told him he passed. Ron closed his eyes briefly, forcing the despair back down.
Hermione glanced around again, making Ron more nervous than he already was, “Alright then. You know where,” She disappeared.
Ron sighed, rolling his eyes. He picked up his rucksack and concentrated. He didn’t see how Hermione made it look so easy. He disappeared.
They appeared with two very loud cracks that caused a number of people to shout with alarm. When they weren’t repeated, the nervous people laughed it off supposing it was most likely a car.
“There’s not a single car on the street,” Ron pointed out. He couldn’t believe that they would actually believe that tripe.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “What’s easier? Believing that there’s a car somewhere that backfired or…” she shrugged, not wanting to finish the statement.
Ron frowned. “They’d rather believe a lie than the truth? Why?”
“They’re Muggles,” Hermione started looking around. “Now, we’re in the right city. At least I think so.” She frowned as she tried to remember what she had read. It was too dark to read and there was too much a risk of using Lumos with so many startled Muggles about.
“Didn’t you say that after it happened, no one wanted to live there?” Ron asked.
Hermione nodded, “Of course! It should be in that direction.”
“How would you know that?” Ron demanded.
Hermione pointed to the oddly-shaped fountain. “I remember that from the map. It should be about halfway to the edge of town in that direction.”
Ron considered the fountain, “Halfway to the edge of town? How’ll we know when we get there?”
Hermione sighed. “Because we’ll have found the most run-down house since no one will touch it.”
“Oh,” Ron shook his head. “We’d better get going then.” He followed Hermione through town which appeared to be larger than Hermione expected. It was far bigger than Ron would have thought, given the name. “Sounded all cozy…”
“It’s been awhile,” Hermione frowned as she considered each house. “Of course the town might have grown since it happened.”
They continued for several more minutes before Hermione stopped suddenly causing Ron to run into her. “There,” She pointed towards the worst-looking house they’d seen yet.
Ron had to admit to himself that it looked positively haunted. “You sure it’s not haunted?”
“Ron!” Hermione was astonished. “You of all people ought to know… Oh good grief. Look there.”
Ron grimaced as he saw a rather large dog start towards them. “I could swear that’s Snuffles…”
“It can’t be,” Hermione didn’t take her eyes from the large, black dog. “You know he died.”
“He fell into the Veil,” Ron corrected her, “According to Neville and Harry as well as the rest of the Order.”
“So?” Hermione demanded. “And your point is?”
Ron pointed at the dog. “It could be him. Do you know for sure what the Veil is or does?”
Hermione looked at Ron with complete surprise. “Dumbledore was sure that…”
“Yeah and how sure was he of Snape?” Ron demanded irritably.
“But I don’t think we should see if it is Snuffles…” Hermione seemed shaken at the thought. She hurried to the house and through the door.
Ron stood in place for seconds longer, “Sorry, Snuffles, maybe later?” He followed Hermione into the house where he found her busily putting up wards so they could sleep. He looked out the window to see the dog watching them from the broken sidewalk. Not moving, just watching. As if the dog knew them. He shook his head. “I’ve got to get more sleep.” He finally declared. “It’s all a dream. That’s all.”
He joined Hermione in tidying up a small area in the living room after she told him that she charmed the windows to show no one there. As he lay down and pulled the covers back up, he told her “We get to sleep in, considering.”
“Good night!” Hermione rolled to face away from Ron so he couldn’t see how upset she was that he hadn’t said good night.
Ron waited until her breathing was steady before speaking again. “Night, Hermione.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter.
Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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