Chapter 26 : The Value of Memory
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It was the longest class of Harry’s life. Normally he didn’t have much of a problem with Viktor Krum but suddenly Harry felt the urge to agree with Ron that Krum needed to be hexed into a newt. The longer he stared at his Defense Professor in frustration the more he seemed to be mentally connecting Krum’s two bushy eyebrows into a sold line across his forehead.
“Does anybody ‘ave any question?” Krum asked.
Harry bit his tongue so he wouldn’t shout out and ask if the class were finally over. However before Harry could even say anything Hermione’s hand shot into the air, which wasn’t surprising. It was common knowledge that every time a professor asked that question that Hermione would oblige them.
“Professor, could you review the Backhanded Counter Jinxs again and its practical use in dueling?” Hermione said without hesitation.
Ron gave a loud groan and Harry passed Hermione a nasty look but she didn’t pay either of them much mind. Krum beamed brightly.
“Vell, the Vachanded Jinx…” Krum began.
Ron leaned over towards Harry. “If I didn’t know better I’d say she’s doing it on purpose.”
Harry looked over at Hermione who was scribbling furiously on her parchment as Krum explained the practical applications of the Backhanded Jinx. Normally he’d agree with Ron but no person alive could act that interested in a jinx unless they really were that interested, not even Hermione.
After several more minutes passed Professor Krum dismissed the class. Harry quickly grabbed his satchel and threw his books hastily into it.
“You didn’t have to egg him on,” Ron said in a low whisper.
“I’m surprised the two of you didn’t take that lesson more seriously. It could definitely prove useful in a duel. You heard what Viktor said about its practical applications as a rebound spell,” Hermione retorted. “If the two of you would learn to take instruction more seriously…”
Harry snapped, “I doubt I’ll defeat Voldemort with a Backhanded Jinx.”
“Vell, it might come in handy,” Ron mocked in a dreadful Viktor Krum impression.
Harry managed to suppress his laugh. He realized that he didn’t need to encourage the situation. They had sat through Defense and now it was time to see if the Room of Requirement contained a hidden Horcrux.
It was easy to travel to the secret corridor and since they didn’t have to worry about violating curfew. When they reached the area where the secret door would appear Harry closed his eyes and asked for a place to hide a Horcurx. It seemed the most logical request. He slowly opened his eyes hoping that history would not repeat itself and the magical door handle would choose not to reveal itself. To his delight it did appear and without waiting he pushed his way into the crowed room.
A sinking sensation traveled down his throat and into his stomach. Ron and Hermione followed close behind him and Hermione pulled the door tightly closed as she wedged herself in between an old bookcase and a broken bedpost.
“It could take weeks to find anything in this mess,” Ron whined.
Harry knew the color had drained from his face as he stared at a broken chair and a maker where he had chosen to hide a certain object from the previous year. Could he have really been that close to the Horcrux the entire time and not known?
“Look,” Ron announced holding up a few old bottle of Goblin Wine. “Isn’t this Trelawney’s?
Hermione rolled her eyes as she began combing through a few items. She must have caught site of Harry’s fading color.
“Are you all right?” Hermione asked Harry.
“I hid the Prince’s book in here,’ Harry replied. The words tumbled out before he had even had a chance to think.
Ron stopped shuffling instantly. “Are you going to get it?”
Harry paused. “No, I don’t want the bloody thing.”
A grin tugged at the edge of Hermione’s lips but she didn’t say a word. Harry decided he’d search the opposite side of the room from where he had hidden the Prince’s book. His search paid off quickly as he found a large pile of golden and silver cups. None of them even came close to resembling Hufflepuff’s Cup from the memory he had had viewed in the Pensive.
“We have to be missing something,” Hermione declared as she opened a broken umbrella. “Perhaps the item is charmed to look like something entirely different.”
”What finding items Voldemort would choose to hide his soul in isn’t difficult enough?” Harry grumbled.
Ron shrugged as he dumped out a cauldron of broken potion bottles. “Well she may have a point. If Dung can charm an item to look like Slytherin’s Locket why couldn’t You-Know-Who charm Hufflepuff’s Cup to look like this old busted potion’s bottle?”
Harry swallowed hard knowing that both Ron and Hermione had a point. The problem was if they were right than this search had just taken a far more complex turn. He was back to his initial gut reaction of worrying that Voldemort’s Horcruxes could be anything ranging from a broken boot to a tea kettle.
Hermione let out a soft gasp and interrupted Harry’s thoughts.
“Odd,” she whispered.
“What’s odd?” Ron asked.
Hermione ran her sleeve over the bottom of an award that had been placed in an old cardboard box.
“Hey, I’ve seen that before,” Ron announced. “That’s the reward that Tom Riddle received for special services to the school. I thought you saw it in the trophy room, Harry. Did he win two of them?”
“The other one’s could be a decoy,” Hermione concluded.
She raised her wand and quickly waved it over the award. Harry half expected it to turn scarlet like the locket did but it didn’t.
Ron blinked. “So it isn’t a Horcrux?”
Hermione shook her head. “It doesn’t appears so which begs the question why would somebody go through the trouble of switching it with a decoy.”
“The one in the trophy room isn’t a Horcrux. I used the charms you told me to use and nothing happened,” Harry stated.
Hermione frowned. “This simply doesn’t make any sense.”
“But the bloody thing didn’t do anything. It didn’t change!” Harry argued.
Ron frowned, “This is the award though. I remember it because I had to clean it so many times. Yuck, I can still taste those slugs.”
Harry felt his mind swirling and suddenly only one thing mattered. He had to see Tom Riddle’s award in the trophy room again. Hermione started to say something but he didn’t give her the opportunity to talk him out of it. He knew rushing into the room during the middle of the day would probably raise eyebrows but he didn’t care. Could he have been so distracted by Ginny that night that he completely overlooked something obvious?
“Harry!” Hermione cried.
He didn’t slow his pace as he raced down the stairs and rounded the corner making his way into the trophy room. Within seconds he located the award sitting on the same shelf he had seen it on before. It looked identical to the award that they had just found in the Room of Requirment.
“I told you it didn’t change!” Harry declared as Ron and Hermione entered the room.
Hermione closed the door behind them before making her way over to the award. She touched her wand tip to the award and again nothing happened.
“This simply doesn’t make sense…” she trailed off.
Ron raised his eyebrow. “So, they aren’t Hocruxes?”
Hermione frowned. “I can’t say for sure they’re even Tom Riddle’s awards at this point. I think we’re going to have to take some more time to figure out this piece of the puzzle.”
Hermione lifted the trophy off the shelf and flipped it over a few times before pausing to read the inscribed on nameplate.
Ron frowned. “Should we continue with the Room of Requirement search? I mean the Horcrux could still be in there.”
Before Hermione could answer Harry kicked the trophy case in frustration causing the glass to shatter. He didn’t care if Flich came to see what had caused the commotion. He didn’t even care if he were kicked out of Hogwarts for destroying school property. One thing alone mattered; he hadn’t found a Horcrux just another riddle.
“Harry,” Hermione scolded as she folded her arms across her chest.
Harry threw his arms up. “This is worthless. I can’t do this without Dumbledore!”
“It’s not Riddle’s,” Hermione said loudly as she shoved the trophy under Harry’s nose. “It’s a prank.”
“A prank?” Ron asked, “Do you mean it’s a prank?”
Harry narrowed his eyes and read the inscription on the decoy award, A little trophy all about, flip me over I’ll help you out.
“Who would go through the trouble? It doesn’t make any sense…” Hermione mused.
Harry slowly turned the decoy over to look to see if there were more clues. He sighed loudly when he saw that it look relatively normal. There was a large circular opening at the base but it didn’t look out of the ordinary.
“The medallions.” Hermione said quickly. “Look at the bottom, Harry. It’s a safe keeping devise. I bet Dumbledore left this here for you to find.”
Harry turned sharply as he absorbed Hermione’s words. Could Dumbledore have really planted this decoy for him find. Wasn’t it enough of challenges to find Voldemort’s Hocruxes without being led on a wild goose chase by his former Head Master? He slowly reached into his bag and pulled out one of the medallions he had found over the summer. As Hermione has suspected it fit perfectly into the base.
“Turn it,” Ron suggested.
Harry slowly rotated the medallion and to his astonishment the bottom of the trophy fell open and a rolled up piece of parchment fell out.
Harry could hear sounds of footsteps approaching and Ron peeked out the door to see who was coming.
“It’s Flich,” Ron whispered. “Put it up, quick.”
Harry tucked the parchment into his pocket and Hermione raised her wand towards the broken trophy case. “Reparo.”
Flich opened the door a moment later and eyed the group suspiciously. “What are you doing in here?”
“Admiring the awards of course,” Hermione said instantly.
Flich narrowed his eyes and scanned the room, obviously not buying Hermione story.
“Well, we’ve admired enough we best be on our way,” Hermione continued in a sing song voice.
Flich raised his finger and touched the newly repaired glass, never breaking his suspicious gaze. Before he could continue with the interrogation Hermione grabbed Ron and Harry by the arm and ushered them out the door.
They quickly rounded the corner and started back towards the Gryffindor Common Room. Harry reached into his pocket to reassure himself that the small piece of parchment was still tucked into his pocket.
“What does it say?” Ron whispered.
Harry stopped and pulled the note out. Hermione and Ron both leaned closer.
If you have found this small note it means I am not longer able to offer you help. I do hope we’ve had the opportunity to discuss the task that I have begun and that you must finish. By now you must have realized that my portrait that was left behind will be of no help for it was necessary to remove any memories that lingered. I left two medallions for you to find in hopes you suspect Tom Riddle’s trophy but I am certain that this is not the item we seek. Tucked away in the Room of Requirement is the real trophy along with my notes and memoirs on this particular task. I regret it all the guidance I can give you.
“It’s from Dumbledore,” Ron said, stating the obvious.
Harry read the letter again unsure what to believe. He had been so disappointed after chatting the Dumbledore’s portrait he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of apprehension.
“We were right! We were right about the Room of Requirement!” Ron continued. “Lets go get it.”
“No,” Harry and Hermione said collectively.
Ron looked puzzled for a moment but Hermione quickly explained. “We can’t go to the Room of Requirement right now. Filch is obviously on to the fact we’re up to something the last thing we need is for him to confiscate Dumbledore’s memoirs.”
“Not to mention it could be another dead end,” Harry added under his breath.
“What was that?” Hermione asked barely catching what Harry had just added.
Harry gave a loud sigh before tucking the parchment back into his pocket. He knew he should be excited about finding another step in his quest, but he couldn’t seem to get past the feeling that he was only getting his hopes up.
“So tonight then? Harry can sneak out with the invisibility cloak and retrieve it,” Ron suggested.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed quickly as he tried to avoid Hermione’s curious look.
Thankfully Hermione didn’t push Harry into a conversation on their way back to the common room. They were no sooner in the portrait when Harry felt a tap on his shoulder. To his surprise it was Tonks. Over the years Harry had become use to Tonk’s warm greetings but her familiar friendly expression was hollow and empty. He of course had seen her concerned before but this was something different, something much more real.
“We have to talk immediately,” Tonk said in a voice Harry had never heard her use before.
“Is everything alright?” Hermione asked quickly.
Tonk glanced around the room in a way that nearly made Harry shudder. “Not here, come with me.”
Harry caught a glimps of Ginny standing up with concern and before he had even thought things through he stopped.
“Ginny, she should come with us to,” Harry suggested.
Tonk shook her head quickly, “No, just you and Hermione. It’s Order business…”
“What?” Ron protested.
“You’ll find out soon enough. Right now it is detrimental that tell you something. There isn’t any time to lose… we’ve already wasted far too much time as it is.” Tonks snapped.
Harry watched her expression for just a moment before following her out of the common room and down the corridor towards her office. It reminded him of being on the opposite side of a secret. The portraits all whispered and moved around frantically as the three of them passed by and even the moving staircase seemed to cease its activity as the traveled.
“Have a seat,” Tonks instructed as she quickly closed the door behind them.
“Is everything all right?” Hermione asked.
Tonk took in a deep breath. “Auror Bagley has been murdered. It happened in the middle of the night and we have relatively few leads on who might be responsible. From the looks of her office I’d say we couldn’t rule out Vampires. As you are aware Bagley was a high level member of the Order and we have evidence to suggest his memory was compromised during the attack.”
Harry glanced at Hermione who looked like she was mentally asking the same question as he was. Yes, Auror Bagley’s death was tragic but why did Tonks look so grim.
“As you two are aware, Bagley was in charge of locating several abducted Muggles including your aunt, Harry. You should know the Ministry has now classified all the missing Muggles as dead. We have reason to believe that the Dark Lord is using them to grow his Inferi Army.”
Harry felt the bottom of his stomach drop as the realization that his Aunt Petunia was more than like one of the zombie like corpses he had encountered in the cave where Voldemort had hidden his locket.
“There is something else you need to know,” Tonk said after a moment. “Cho Chang was in Bagley’s office at the time of the attack and for reasons unknown to the Ministry she wasn’t killed. Whatever attacked Bagley kidnapped Cho. Now the Ministry is unaware of your prior relationship with Chang but…”
“You think they took Cho because of me?” Harry interrupted.
Tonks took a visible breath. “Remus thinks so. Whatever the two of you were doing with Mundungus is obviously something that interests us now. Mundungus has been hidden away for his own safety, and we have no hopes of recovering Cho Chang alive. We’ve seen these types of attacks before. She obviously is of some value to the Dark Lord.”
Remember me? Well first let me say that I do apologize for not posting or updating like I should. I recently took over the fanfiction site HarryPotterfanfiction.com and it has proven a very time consuming task. I’m not going to leave this story and I still plan on finishing before book seven. However, I am not going to be able to keep up with my mailing list. I do apologize for everybody who has been waiting on this fic. Please forgive me and bare with me as I adjust to my new administrative position with one of the biggest fanfiction sites on the web.
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