Disclaimer: Out of all the characters in this story as of yet, I think I only own three. Sad, no? If only I were as creative (or successful) as JK Rowling. . .
Lucia found Godric’s Hollow to be full of the sounds and smells of early summer when she Apparated there ahead of the Trio the next morning. A small and quaint cottage with an open doorway sat in the middle of what had once been an English garden. The birds were singing merrily, frogs could be heard in a croaking chorus from a nearby pond, and the overgrown lilies from the untended garden produced such a strong aroma that Lucia could almost reach out her hand to touch it.
The place was so calm, so beautiful, that it was hard for Lucia to imagine the deaths and despair one man had caused in this same house so many Halloweens ago.
As Lucia stood in front of the cottage, taking in her surroundings, three soft pops came in rapid succession from somewhere behind her, followed by heated conversation. She turned around to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione walking up from behind, arguing vigorously with each other.
“It was bloody disgusting!” Ron was shouting, his ears glowing a furious pink. “I mean, they’re fully-grown adults! Can’t they just do it in the privacy of their bedroom?”
“Come off it, Ron,” Harry was shaking his head. “S’not like you’re a blushing virgin yourself. . .”
“Especially after what you did with Lavender in the common room,” Hermione cut in.
“Actually, I was talking about him and you, ‘Mione.” The girl blushed a deeper scarlet than Ron’s hair as Harry’s words sunk in.
Lucia sighed as the Trio approached. Those three were still talking about the incident that had occurred just before her arrival at Headquarters. Ron had walked into the kitchen for an early breakfast and found Lupin and Tonks in a passionate embrace while the coffee percolated on the stove. Apparently, Lupin’s broken arm and Tonks’ crushed ribs had done nothing to impede their long snog; according to a very disgruntled Ron, it had only made the situation more interesting as the couple maneuvered around each others’ injuries.
“Well, it’s not like we didn’t expect it to happen,” she said now as the three others joined her. “After all the mooning they’ve been doing over each other—” This drew a round of snorts from everyone. “Oh, stop it—you know full well what I meant!”
Harry cleared his throat, and Lucia felt herself snap to attention. The little general is taking over. “Shall we start searching for the horcruxes, then?”
They all nodded. “Remind me, mate,” Ron said, furrowing his brow in concentration. “What’re all the horcruxes we should be looking for?”
“Honestly, Ron, you need some serious help with your memory!” Hermione groaned. “Isn’t this the third time you’ve asked today?”
Harry ignored her. “To start out with,” he began thoughtfully, “there’s the part that was in Voldemort’s diary—that’s one. There’s the Gaunt family ring—that’s two. Then there’s his snake, Nagini—that’s three. And Dumbledore suspected that four, five, six, and seven would be an object from each of the Hogwarts houses: Slytherin’s locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, and something from Gryffindor and Ravenclaw apiece.”
“Dumbledore destroyed the Gaunt ring,” Hermione continued, “Harry destroyed the diary in second year, we can’t worry about Nagini until the very end, and Slytherin’s locket is as good as gone. So, that’s three left.”
Harry sighed and kicked at a loose stone in the grass. “I’d still like to account for that bloody locket, though,” he mumbled.
“And you guys think there might be something here from the night Voldemort came?” Lucia asked.
Harry nodded. “I think—he wanted to make a horcrux from my soul—once he killed me,” he answered. “It must be still here, somewhere.”
“And you don’t know what it is yet? We’re just going to snoop around the place until we stumble across it?”
“Do you have a better idea?”
Lucia rolled her eyes. “Just checking, Harry,” she replied as the four of them started walking the final stretch to the cottage. She could feel Harry tense up beside her as they approached the yawning blackness of the doorway. To think that the Potters had died inside this very house…
“Are you all right?” she asked in a low voice.
Harry sent her a look. “What do you think?” he shot back, his voice cracking. “This is where my life was ruined…” He let his sentence hang in the air.
Lucia nodded, touched his arm as they stopped in front of the threshold. Ron and Hermione were just behind them, respectfully silent. “I know how you feel,” was all she said.
Harry gave her a faint smile of gratitude before plunging into the darkness of the house, with Lucia and the others closely trailing him. After the cheery brightness of the outside world, the dank darkness inside the house was almost too much to bear. Lucia nearly choked on it—her love of the elements had also given her an uncontrollable fear of dark places. Her companions were less affected, however, and soon everyone had lit their wands to reveal a totally wrecked entryway and living room. Part of the ceiling had collapsed, blocking the bay windows of what had once been a sitting area from letting in more than a hazy glow. Tables and chairs overturned, furniture smashed, broken glass littering the floor—Voldemort certainly had left behind a mess.
“Shall we spread out?” Hermione squeaked after they had all adjusted to the dimness of the room. Harry nodded, his emotions barely held in check as he pointed out where everyone would look. Lucia was assigned to cover the second-floor bedroom where the final standoff had occurred; Harry obviously wanted to stay away from where his mother had died to save him. Lucia merely nodded, not wanting to meet Harry’s pain-filled gaze, and climbed the stairs silently as the others dispersed on the ground floor.
The atmosphere in the former nursery was much brighter than that of downstairs. Through the shattered glass of the lone window on the far wall, a cheerful stream of light shone into the room and cast a warm, golden glow throughout. Everything, from the oaken dresser with the cracked mirror in the corner to the dangling and broken baby mobile slowly twirling over what had been Harry’s crib, spoke of Voldemort’s attack; but unlike the depressing entry of the Potter residence, there was a residue of love and emotion that Lucia could still sense in the air.
As Lucia surveyed the room, a glittering object on the floor in front of the crib caught her eye. Probably just a shard of broken glass, she thought, but she stepped closer to see in any case.
It wasn’t a shard of broken glass. It was a small silver hand mirror, glass side up, that was reflecting the sunlight from the shattered window. Lucia hesitated for a moment before picking the mirror up by the handle and peering into the glass.
At first, all she could see was her reflection, that of a scared-looking girl with grey eyes and dark hair. But within seconds, the reflection changed, morphed into a handsome young man’s face. The young man looked akin to Harry, with dark hair and green eyes; but yet he seemed alien in some frightening way. Lucia was so shocked by his sudden appearance that she nearly dropped the mirror.
“Who are you?” the man in the mirror asked, adding to Lucia’s fright. He couldn’t be much older than twenty-one or twenty-two, she realized.
“I should be asking you the same question,” Lucia managed to say. “And what in Merlin’s name are you doing in this mirror??”
The man humphed in obvious annoyance. “I asked you first,” he retorted. “But never mind. My name is Tom Riddle, and I’m in this mirror because it’s my home. Where else would you expect a part of your soul to reside, anyway—mmph!”
The words ‘part of your soul’ were all Lucia needed to hear to spring into action. Whomever this Tom person was, he was part of a horcrux, of that there could be no doubt. She quickly muffled the Tom in the glass with the front of her robes before examining the silver-plated back of the mirror. What she saw nearly made her drop the mirror again.
It was a coat of arms, with a flying ebony bird on a background of embedded sapphire jewels, a silver letter ‘R’ emblazoned beneath the creature. Lucia knew that emblem anywhere: she saw it in her common room every day during her six years at Hogwarts.
A muffled shriek from somewhere downstairs jolted her out of her reverie. Lucia thrust the mirror into the pocket of her robes and ran out of the room, stumbling a little as she did so. The shriek didn’t stop as she tore down the stairs, jumping over the last three, and continued to sprint toward the source of the noise: the cellar, where Ron and Hermione had been assigned to search.
“Harry! Lucia! Where the bloody hell are you people??” she heard Ron yell from what seemed like an interminable distance away as she tore down the stairs and plunged into nearly complete darkness. She was surprised that she had managed not to miss a step while being unable to see a thing.
“I’m here!” she cried. “Lumos!” The tip of her wand lit up to reveal a cavernous tunnel, complete with stalagmites and stalactites. Merlin’s beard. . . what did the Potters keep down here??
“Coming!” came Harry’s voice from the top of the stairs. “What’s going on?”
“Acromantula!” Hermione screamed from the same distance as Ron.
Lucia immediately sprinted into the tunnel, her heart pounding like mad. Harry followed close at her heels. An Acromantula was no joke, she knew. Not only was its venom highly poisonous, but it was also an extremely difficult creature to subdue. From the look of its surroundings, it was probably ravenous and very irritable. And with Ron’s infamous fear of spiders. . .
Lucia and Harry ignored the many branches of the tunnel as they ran—probably part of the Acromantula’s nest—and rounded a corner of the tunnel to find the massive, hairy form of the Acromantula between them and a very frightened Ron and Hermione, both backed up against the far wall where the tunnel ended. They had their wands out; but Ron was too scared to manage even the simplest of spells, and Hermione’s Stunners were merely reflected off the arachnid’s thick hide. The Acromantula was just getting more and more aggravated by the useless spells.
Hermione tried again. “Stupef—ARGH!”
The fully-annoyed spider had swung one of its hairy legs at the two humans below. Lucia cried out as both Ron and Hermione were sent flying by the impact. Ron was mercifully knocked out when he collided with the stone wall; Hermione screamed when one of her bones cracked upon landing on the hard ground. Blood quickly began to pool on the floor around her; the broken bone must have punctured through her skin.
Lucia’s cry got them the unwanted attention of the spider, and it wheeled around clumsily to face herself and Harry, its cluster of eyes focusing beadily on its newfound prey. Before it could fully register their arrival, however, Harry had beaten Lucia to the draw.
“Conjunctiva!” The spell struck the creature right in the middle of its many eyes, and it squealed loudly from the pain of the Conjunctivitis Curse. It reeled forward madly; Harry and Lucia dove out of its path just in time.
Lucia realized, as the injured spider turned around again to corner them in almost exactly the same position as it had with Ron and Hermione earlier, that they needed to disable the Acromantula—fast. Discretion was not advisable at this juncture; only speed was.
Quickly, before the spider had another chance to charge, she raised her wand and summoned the elemental powers faster than she would have liked. The cloud of swirling energy surrounded her as it usually did; but the furious energy of the fire element, sensing her panic and haste, tried to burn off and break free of her command. Harry began to edge slowly away from her as the colors rapidly increased in intensity, probably unsure of whom to fear more, the elemental girl or the Acromantula.
“No—dammit—not now—” Lucia hissed in pain as her wand hand started to burn from the effort of holding back the fire. The element wasn’t fully ready yet; she just needed a few more seconds before it was fully controlled, but Harry seemed too terrified of both her and the creature to create a diversion, and the Acromantula was preparing to swipe them off their feet as well. . .
The spider swung a leg blindly at the two humans. Harry was able to dive out of the way again; but Lucia, distracted by the burns on her hand and the tricks that fire was trying to pull, didn’t move fast enough. The dagger-like ends of the spider’s leg slashed through her robes; she gasped as her right side exploded in a flash of pain, blurring her vision. She felt the blood start to flow across her now-exposed skin, but suddenly she didn’t care. All her attention was focused on the heat and energy building in her trembling wand.
As the spider prepared to strike again, the dratted fire finally came under her control.
“Ignarus Totalis!” Lucia cried, and a roaring ball of flames erupted from the tip of her wand, launching itself at the Acromantula.
The Acromantula burst into flames and collapsed as the fireball struck it head-on. Its death shrieks reverberated throughout the cave as its body crackled and writhed violently in the midst of the newly-formed bonfire. Harry and Lucia watched the demise of the spider in silence, the former with his jaw dropped, the latter cradling her burned hand to her chest.
When the spider was nothing more than a glowing pile of embers, Harry turned to Lucia. “What—the bloody hell—was that?” he asked slowly.
Lucia shook her head. Now was not the time to explain. “Later,” was all she said before limping over to the now-unconscious Hermione. Harry followed suit and knelt next to an unmoving Ron while Lucia focused her attention on the girl before her.
Hermione moaned and shifted slightly as Lucia ran an uninjured hand across her crumpled form. Lucia winced as her fingers met the jagged edge of bone on Hermione’s arm. When she pulled back, her fingers were wet and tinged red.
“She needs to get to St. Mungo’s,” Lucia said to the air as she waved her wand, wincing again at the pain that shot through her burnt fingers, and stopped the bleeding as best as she could. The bone-setting she would leave to a professional Healer. “What the hell did your parents keep down here, anyway?” she asked Harry, almost conversationally now, with her back still towards him.
“My parents didn’t build this.” His voice was unusually muffled, and Lucia turned to see why. Harry was crouched, not over Ron, but before the solid stone wall behind his friend. He seemed to be tapping the rock with his wand, listening intently for something.
“What? How do you know?”
“I memorized the blueprint of the house before we left.” Harry moved higher and higher up the wall, standing slowly as he did so. “This wasn’t anywhere on the layout—”
“It could’ve been a secret cave,” Lucia interjected.
Harry shrugged. “Possibly. But that doesn’t explain why an Acromantula would be in here. I have a feeling my parents wouldn’t have been fond of keeping a monster like that two floors below my bedroom. But it looks like the spider’s been here for a while. . . almost like a pet or something.”
“Or a guard,” Lucia breathed as the realization hit her.
“Precisely. And I’m getting a sense of some Dark Magic residuals. . . right—around—here.”
At that moment, green lines of light spider-webbed out from the tip of Harry’s wand where it touched the rock face, weaving and converging together until a glowing outline of a door formed in the wall. Within seconds, there was a tinkling noise as a thin layer of flint disintegrated into powder at Harry’s feet, revealing a small and sheltered alcove where none had been before. Harry stepped back, looking pleased with himself, while Lucia just gaped at what was in the alcove.
A wooden staff, its head intricately carved into the shape of a lion’s jaws, rested across an altar of black marble. Lucia came over and stood next to Harry so as to read the inscription at the altar’s base, ignoring the aching pain that resonated from her injured side.
“Aram Mortis Cave,” Lucia read aloud.
Harry quirked an eyebrow at her. “Understand that, by any chance?”
“Yes. It’s in Latin—‘Beware the Altar of Death,’ or something along that line.”
“Just what I need—for Voldemort to go all Latin on my arse,” Harry quipped as he raised his wand.
“What’re you doing?”
“Destroying the Horcrux. Hermione came up with a spell to obliterate the soul within the object without harming the object itself.” Harry gave a small grin. “As I really don’t feel like harming the staff of the founder of my own house. . .”
“Hang on.” Lucia extracted Ravenclaw’s mirror from her robe pocket and handed it over to Harry. His eyes widened as he saw the backing. “I found it upstairs, in the nursery. And there’s a man’s image in there—it was talking to me when I picked the mirror up.”
Harry flipped the mirror over and stared into the glass. Lucia watched an unexpected wave of fury pass across his face. “Tom,” he snarled.
“You know him?” Lucia asked, surprised.
Harry nodded curtly. “This is the man we now know as that bastard who’s been giving us so much trouble, Voldemort,” he nearly spat as he strode to the altar. After placing the mirror next to the staff, he came back and took his position again. With his wand raised, he bellowed, “Anima Deleo!”
There was no visible explosion, but the shock waves resonating from the altar made both of them stumble a step back. Lucia thought she could see a faint green mist swirl out from the end of the staff and the face of the mirror; but when she took another glance, the mist was gone.
Harry swiped his forehead with the sleeve of his robes. “Thank Merlin that’s done,” he said. “Two down, one to go.”
Lucia suddenly felt exhausted, both physically and emotionally. All she wanted to do now was get home. “Will you take Ron and Hermione back to Headquarters?” she asked Harry now. “I’m really feeling like I need a good long sleep at this point.”
“Of course. I’ll just Portkey the three of us back, along with the Horcruxes—I mean, former Horcruxes. I want to have them completely tested for any remnant of Voldemort’s soul.” He peered into Lucia’s face in the flickering torchlight of the cave, his expression suddenly worried. “You sure you don’t want to come with us? You look completely beaten out.”
“Thanks, but I think I’ll just head home now.” With a friendly smile, she added, “I’ll stop by Headquarters tomorrow or the day after to check up on everything.”
“Will count on that, then.” Harry grinned. “And thanks for all that help with the spider—how the hell did you do it?” he asked as Lucia turned away.
“Later, Harry,” she said with a laugh. “When everyone’s awake.” Then, she Disapparated.
When she arrived back in the living room of her flat, Lucia felt even more drained than she had in the cave. She wanted to get some sleep, badly. But when she started to limp off to her bedroom, she noticed for the first time that her robes were leaving a wide red trail on the floor in her wake. On closer inspection, she found the lower half of her robes to be completely soaked with blood.
Lucia swore aloud and turned to make her way to the kitchen, where her father had stored his healing kit, when a wave of nausea washed over her, forcing her to clamp her hand to her mouth before she lost her breakfast. Once the urge to be violently ill had passed, it was replaced by an overwhelming dizziness and growing weakness, and she had to stagger to the nearby couch for support. Breathing heavily, she could just make out her pale visage in the mirror over the fireplace, but without much detail—her vision was becoming blurred.
Footsteps rang out in the hallway before Draco appeared in the entryway of the living room. “Lucia, you’re ba—” He stopped short, in both speech and motion, as he took in her frightening appearance.
At this point, Lucia’s legs gave out, and she sank to her knees with a short cry of pain. Yes, her vision was definitely going—she could barely see Draco beyond his blond hair.
“Lucia!” Draco was by her side in an instant to hold her up; she felt his arm wrapped protectively around her back, his concerned face looming over hers. The sheer effort of breathing was starting to hurt her now. “Lucia, what in Merlin’s name happened to you?”
“Draco,” she managed to gasp before the last of her strength left her. She allowed herself to slump into his arms and vaguely heard him calling her name, as if he was in the very depths of Azkaban, before the blackness took her mind.
A/N: Hooray! I got through the web (sorry, no pun intended) of plot bunnies in Godric's Hollow! I included a juicy fight scene for those who liked Chapter 2. . . I promise, more will be on the way. Next chapter preview: A bit of an interlude, where Lucia recovers and tells Harry about elemental magic. Thanks for your patience!