“I wish I had time to give you all a tour of the manor, but sadly, we are lacking in that,” Charlie said apologetically.
The inside of the manor was more elegant and extravagant than any of them had imagined. The foyer of the large mansion led to a grand staircase which branched off in two different directions. The walls were decorated with elegant tapestries bearing the family crest. On the wall where the staircase forked, a large fresco of a Puritan man glowered over the main entry. Lost in his hypnotic gaze, Harry, Ginny, and Hermione found themselves in a trance.
“Yeah. That’s my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great…great-grandfather, Thomas Richardson. He was the first Richardson to settle in the New World. Come on. The library is over here,” Charlie explained.
He walked off to the right, and the other three followed. Stealing occasional glances at the fresco, Ginny would later swear that its eyes followed her into the next room. Passing through an equally elaborate living room, Charlie led them through an oak door.
When they finally entered the library, Hermione was flabbergasted by its expansiveness. The room was four stories high, with bookshelves that went from floor to ceiling. The three of them followed the walls up with their eyes and took notice of the massive domed ceiling. Like the Sistine Chapel in Rome, this dome was painted with a fresco, in this case depicting the birth of magic.
“Welcome to Richardson Public Library. Where the possibilities are limitless. The library is divided into sections dealing with different aspects of magic. Over here is my father’s collection on Voldemort,” Charlie said as he led the three of them across the room. As he looked at the many different books Mr. Richardson, Sr. had, one book caught Harry’s eye. It was titled: The Dark Lord and the Boy Who Lived.
“May I?” Harry asked, pointing to the book.
“Help yourself. Dig in, folks. This might take a while.” Hermione, Ginny, and Charlie each grabbed a book and began to skim over the texts. Harry slowly slid out the book that had caught his attention and immediately turned to the index. As he scrolled through the index, he found what he knew was in there. Pictures of James and Lily Potter—page 325. Turning to that page, he saw that the first photo was of Lily. Her green eyes shone out at him as if she were standing in front of him. Turning the page, he found a picture of James. His messy black hair and glasses reminded Harry how much he looked like his father.
Ginny looked up from the book she was reading and saw a tear roll down Harry’s cheek. Shutting the book, she got up and walked over to Harry. Peering over his shoulder at a picture of James and Lily at their wedding, she wrapped her arms around him.
“Sometimes I think this is all my fault. If it weren’t for me, my parents, Cedric, Sirius, and Dumbledore would still be alive,” Harry said, without taking his eyes off the photo. Turning the page, he saw a photo of what the safe-house in Godric’s Hollow that his parents had gone to looked like after the ordeal. The house was crumbling down to its foundation.
“Don’t talk like that. You;re not responsible for what Voldemort does or did. It’s not your fault,” Ginny comforted.
“How can you be so sure?” Harry asked.
Turning around to face Harry, she looked him in the eyes. “I know because you’re not him. You are a kind, gentle person who cares. Voldemort isn’t. If it weren’t for you, he would have killed me down in the Chamber of Secrets. You saved my life. You’re not him, Harry. You’re better than him,” Ginny explained.
Lost for words, Harry closed the book and immediately put it back where he’d found it. Turning his attention back to Ginny, he kissed her hard and deep. “I love you, Ginny.”
“Guys! I found it!” Charlie exclaimed. The other three quickly gathered around Charlie and the book he was holding. “It’s there,” Charlie said, pointing to a description of a cavern twenty miles from the manor.
“How do you know that?” Hermione asked.
“I found this diary entry stuffed into the book at this page. It’s from my uncle’s diary. Listen to this:
“The Dark Lord gave to me an heirloom for safekeeping. He said that this padlock holds the secrets to all of his dealings, the inner workings of his organization, and the locations of his Horcruxes. The Dark Lord fears that a young boy is coming with the power to bring him down. He asked me to safeguard his priceless heirloom until he returns for it. I hid the lock deep within the old family crypt. Only the closest members of my family know how to find it. It is safe and secure.
"The old family crypt is in that cavern. Back when my family’s land stretched all the way to the mountains, they buried their recently departed there. It hasn’t been used in over a hundred years. However, it’s still there, and I know how to get to it,” Charlie explained.
“Too bad you won’t live long enough to see it, young Mr. Richardson,” a cold, slimy voice echoed out of nowhere. Alarmed, the four of them looked up and met the eyes of Voldemort, Charles and five Death Eaters.
“Don’t move a muscle!” Charles exclaimed, his wand at the ready.
“I must thank you, Charlie. Not only do I get to kill you, but I also get to finally kill the famous Harry Potter. Hello, Harry. It’s been a long time,” Voldemort said.
“Not long enough,” Harry replied vehemently.
“Now, now, Harry. There’s no need for rudeness.”
Sliding his hand into his pocket, Charlie quietly pulled out a vial. With a lightning-quick movement, Charlie smashed the vial down at the feet of his three friends and yelled, “Excappa!” A bright orange light erupted, forcing Voldemort and the other Death Eaters to cover their eyes. When the smoke cleared, Harry, Ginny, and Hermione were gone.
“Noooo!” Voldemort yelled.
“Sorry, Voldy-Wart. But you’ll just be dealing with me today,” Charlie retorted as he transformed into an eagle and quickly flew out of the library.
“After him, you fools! I want to see him coughing up blood!” With those commanding words, the five Death Eaters stormed out of the library after Charlie. “Charles! Stay here! I don’t want you out of my sight!” Voldemort hissed as Charles moved to follow the Death Eaters out of the room.
“My lord, I know my son better than your Death Eaters do. Let me bring him to you,” Charles suggested.
“Do you think me a fool, Charles? I would not have you and your son teaming up against me! No, you will stay where I can see you!” Voldemort spat.
The five Death Eaters followed Charlie out into the foyer, where they lost track of him. In an effort to cover more ground they split up, each taking a different direction. Fenrir Greyback and young Vincent Crabbe went up the grand staircase and Mulciber and Nott exited into the kitchen, leaving Amycus who returned to the living room. Once back in the living room, the Death Eater began to violently trash the place in search of the Yankee. As he tossed throw pillows across the room and upturned tables and chairs in vain, Amycus began to get seriously angry and frustrated.
Suddenly, something on the ground caught his attention. A single gold necklace was lying on the floor. That wasn’t here before, he thought. He glanced back over at all of the entrances to make sure no one was watching. Then Amycus bent down, his greed getting the better of him, and picked up the necklace. Upon contact with the piece of jewelry, he felt as though he were spinning…or the room was. He quickly realized that the necklace was a Portkey. When he stopped spinning, he found an entirely new reason to panic: the Portkey had teleported him five thousand feet into the air. Unable to visualize a place to Apparate to, he found himself falling to his death.
Hidden beneath an Invisibility Cloak his mother had got for him when he was younger, Charlie watched as the two Death Eaters rummaged around in his father’s kitchen. Suddenly a great idea entered his mind. With a wave of his wand under the Cloak, Charlie silently made the door to the walk-in pantry open. Startled, Mulciber, who was nearest to the door, stepped closer to it.
“Stay here. I’ll check this out,” Mulciber commanded. He then disappeared into the pantry. Charlie’s moment had come as he had foreseen it. Moving quickly, Charlie threw off the Invisibility Cloak and kicked Nott‘s wand free. He quickly followed that up with a spinning kick, knocking the Dark wizard unconscious.
Alerted by the noise, Mulciber hastily re-emerged from the pantry. Charlie was waiting for him. As the wizard appeared, Charlie side-kicked him in the gut. Caught off guard, Mulciber collapsed to the ground, gasping for air. Charlie then struck him hard across the temple, incapacitating him.
Charlie then took out his wand and waved it in the air. The two wizards, out cold, were suddenly teleported out of the manor. Charlie picked up his Invisibility Cloak and returned to the foyer. He then preceded upstairs.
Why did I agree to take the west wing? Vincent Crabbe asked himself. When Greyback and he reached the fork in the grand staircase, it was Greyback who had suggested they split up. Crabbe knew he should have said something then, but in all fairness, Greyback scared him. Slowly walking down the dark hallway, Crabbe couldn’t help but feel that someone was watching him.
“Enough of this!” Crabbe exclaimed. I’ll just tell the Dark Lord the American didn’t go down this corridor, Crabbe thought to himself as he turned around. Suddenly, his stomach dropped. Standing down at the end of the hall he had come from, Charlie was now waiting. At his feet was a medium-sized wooden chest. Reclaiming his resolve, Crabbe charged at Charlie with his wand at the ready. Just as Vincent was about to utter a curse, Charlie opened the chest at his feet. Billowing out of the dark chest, a Boggart emerged like a shadow. Crabbe froze in his tracks at the nightmarish ghoul. Right before Vincent’s eyes, the Boggart transformed into his father, with his wand extended.
Whenever Vincent did something his father disapproved of, his father punished him with various curses. That kind of abuse can take a toll on a man’s mind. Raising his wand up to the nightmarish apparition, Vincent mumbled, “Rrrrriddddik—” Overcome with fear, he was unable to utter the incantation he’d learned during his third year of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Soon the fear became too much and young Vincent Crabbe fainted.
“Very brave, Death Eater. Very brave indeed,” Charlie said sarcastically. Jumping in front of the Boggart, Charlie watched as the entity transformed again into a mirror image of himself. The dark side of himself. Swallowing hard, Charlie pointed his wand at the doppelganger and said, “Riddikulus!” The sound of the words transformed the dark half of Charlie into the American stereotype of a nerd—bottlecap glasses, pants up to the armpits, the whole nine yards. He cracked a smile at the Boggart, and it retreated into the chest. Once it was inside, Charlie slammed the lid shut and locked it with a spell.
He waved his wand over the locked chest and it disappeared. Charlie then grabbed his Invisibility Cloak and put it on, disappearing himself.
“Four down, one to go,” Charlie muttered.
Fenrir Greyback entered what had once been Charlie’s mother’s room. Immediately he walked over to the dresser and started rummaging through her underwear drawer. Charlie, seeing all of this, stifled his anger. Moving in closer to Fenrir, he readied his wand underneath his Cloak.
Without warning, Fenrir rounded on Charlie and yelled, “Expelliarmus!” The spell hit Charlie hard in the chest, sending him flying across the room. Fenrir walked up to Charlie and lifted him two inches off the ground by his throat.
“Did you honestly think you could match wits with a werewolf? You’re no match for Greyback!” Fenrir barked. He moved to bite Charlie on the neck, but suddenly he was thrust across the room. Recovering himself, he looked up to see Hermione, Harry, and Ginny all bearing down on him with their wands. Sneering, Fenrir charged at the three young wizards. All together, they said, “Expelliarmus!”
The combined forces of the three spells sent Fenrir flying through the wall into the next room. Charlie quickly stumbled over to the new hole in the wall and saw that Fenrir was knocked out. Turning back around, he said, “I thought we agreed back in London: if this exact thing were to happen, you three were to stay in that closet until I came for you,” Charlie barked.
“We heard the commotion and felt you needed some help. We were right.” Harry explained.
“You’re right. I’m sorry. Listen, we’ve got what we came for. Let’s get out of here,” Charlie said.
“What about Voledmort and your father?” Ginny asked.
“No worries. I set up a charm that will take effect the second I leave the manor. Once I leave the grounds, a barrier will come up preventing anyone else from entering or exiting the manor regardless of method,” Charlie explained.
“That’s clever, Charlie,” Hermione replied.
“It won’t hold them for long, though. They’ll eventually get out. I only hope that we will have retrieved the artifact first.”
With that, the four of them all Apparated out of the manor with a loud crack!