‘You know, Ron, even if he finds the Horcrux, how are we going to destroy it?’
Ron shrugged dejectedly and the pair lapsed into thoughtful silence.
Hermione thought hard, what could destroy a Horcrux apart from the sword? She thought of fiendfyre, a curse that caused an immensely powerful inferno, but then she may end up burning everybody to a crisp in the immediate vicinity. She supposed in theory, the killing curse might destroy a Horcrux, but apart from hugely disliking the idea of using such evil magic, it was probably wouldn’t work on an inanimate object like the diadem, although they may have to use it on Nagini.
After a couple of minutes, Ron stood up and triumphantly punched the air.
‘Got it!’ He said victoriously as he grabbed Hermione by the arm and dragged her towards the exit of the room of requirement.
‘Ron!’ Cried Hermione in shock.
‘Where are you two going?’ Ginny yelled after them.
‘Bathroom!’ Said Ron as he marched resolutely forward.
‘Ron, what are you… Did you just say a bathroom?’
‘Yep, moaning Myrtle’s bathroom to be precise.’
Hermione was still utterly bamboozled as she got pulled through the corridors, and when Ron looked at her face he looked greatly pleased that he was the source of knowledge for a change.
‘Come on, Hermione, catch up – the Chamber of Secrets, the dead basilisk…’
‘Oh! Exclaimed Hermione, as Ron pushed her through a group of evacuating students, and she started to run towards the girl’s toilets she remembered so well.
After a few seconds though, she stopped and thought about the situation.
‘Ron?’ She said ‘How are we going to get out? The chamber is miles below the school, and you don’t have a Phoenix this time…’
Ron stopped in his tracks and looked confused for only a moment before that triumphant look graced his features once again. He had an answer already?! He was beginning to make her feel quite stupid.
But before she could ask, Ron had brandished his wand in the air and shouted,
A broom emerged from a large group of evacuating students, and Hermione heard an angry ‘Oi!’ from one of them, but Ron merely plucked the broom out of the air and shouted back,
‘Sorry mate, we’re trying to save the world!’
Hermione giggled and kept running, whoever it was whose broom they had stolen swore loudly at them.
They arrived in the bathroom and were both pleased to see that moaning Myrtle was not around.
‘Which sink was it?’ Hermione asked, but Ron had already crouched down in front of it and was making horrible spitting noises.
‘Ron, what are you doing?’ Hermione was beginning to lose track of how many times she’d asked him that question.
‘I’m trying to speak parseltongue. It’s the noise Harry made to open the locket.’
‘Right…’ she said weakly. When had Ron become such a genius?!
Ron tried the odd hissing and spitting noises about six times before anything happened, but finally the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets was once again revealed.
Hermione hardly had time to register her shock before Ron had hopped onto the broomstick and positioned himself at the opening of the pipe.
‘Come on then!’ he said with excited impatience, and Hermione perched herself hesitantly on the back of the broom.
Ron kicked off and they hurtled down the wide, twisting pipe. Hermione was thrown forwards and held onto Ron’s waist for dear life.
After a few nauseating, fast paced minutes they arrived at the bottom and Ron dismounted, Hermione was still clutching him. She found she couldn’t let go, she was still unsteady from the journey and felt like she would collapse if she tried to stand on her own.
Ron smiled at her.
‘You’re not a fan of flying, are you?’ He said, as he put an arm around her waist securely.
Hermione shook her head, Ron chuckled a little and they began to walk forwards, his arm still around her.
They reached a blockade of rubble with a small hole at the base.
Ron grinned slightly as he looked at it.
‘This was where Lockhart tried to modify our memories with my broken wand.’ He shook his head hopelessly. ‘Stupid git’
They let go of each other and Hermione reached for her wand.
‘Reducto!’ She cried at the wall of rocks, and blew the hole a little bigger, so she and Ron could crawl through quite easily.
As they got into what looked like a large antechamber, Ron gulped uneasily.
‘I’ve never been in this bit. Merlin, it’s creepy.’
Hermione nodded as she looked around the room. There was a huge doorway, engraved with snakes with emeralds set in the stone for eyes. Hermione shuddered, there wasn’t even anything evil down here anymore, but it was still a sinister place.
The door was open, she supposed from when Harry had entered it five years ago. She shuddered again, to think a twelve year old Harry had been in here alone.
She and Ron walked determinedly into the Chamber of Secrets itself, to be greeted by a giant snake skeleton and the ugly, stone statue of Slytherin himself.
They walked towards the giant corpse, and Hermione was overcome with astonishment.
‘Harry killed that... when he was twelve!?’
Ron nodded weakly.
‘No wonder Ginny fancies him… I always wondered what she saw in such a scruffy haired, moody kid, but when he’s killed a fifty foot snake for you, I suppose he becomes more attractive.’ She said, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
Ron laughed with her, but she thought she saw a flicker of relief rather than just humour in his expression.
They walked up to its giant skull, and Hermione used a severing charm to detach a fang out of the jaws of the monster.
Ron withdrew the cup from his pocket.
‘We should destroy it now.’ He said firmly.
Hermione looked at him.
‘It’s your turn…’ He said, trying to disguise the hesitancy in his voice, ‘You haven’t destroyed one yet.’
She took a steadying breath and clutched the fang. Ron was about to hand her the cup when she stopped him.
‘Ron, what happened when you tried to destroy the locket?’
She saw Ron go a little pale.
‘It…er…’ Ron swallowed. He looked like he was struggling to voice his thoughts.
Hermione looked him in the eye and said gently:
He hesitated, but then began to speak.
‘It told me things, horrible things. It used my weaknesses against me… just destroy it quick, Hermione. Don’t wait around. Don’t do what I did.’
‘What did it show you?’ She whispered fearfully.
Ron looked at her.
Hermione stared at him for a couple more seconds, and he stared back, his eyes fearful. But his confession had somehow given her strength.
She took the cup from him, and picked up the basilisk fang, ready to bring it down on the Horcrux.
However, as the basilisk fang neared the cup, it had started to fill, and Hermione did exactly what she had been warned against. She hesitated.
The liquid in the cup was somehow enthrallingly beautiful. It was like liquid silver light, but somehow with underlying darkness. Hermione leant forward to look closer.
‘Hermione!’ Said Ron, but his voice was far away, like the voice of someone trying to wake you from a dream.
She stared at the liquid and saw her own reflection in it. Then something started to happen. Her reflection changed into Ron’s
‘It’s no wonder no one can stand her, she’s a nightmare, honestly!’ Said Ron angrily.
Hermione felt a sickened feeling in her stomach. She tried again to bring the fang down, but Ron’s face changed into Snape’s and she hesitated again.
‘Five points from Gryffindor, for being an insufferable know-it-all!’ Said Snape contemptuously.
Snape changed into Malfoy, who changed into Pansy Parkinson and various other Slytherin’s who shouted insults that echoed horribly in her mind.
‘Filthy little mudblood! Besmirching, dirty, ugly…’
The list continued as the faces changed and underlying it all was a horrible mocking laughter.
‘Hermione!’ Yelled Ron, as if from a great distance. Tears started to form in her eyes, she was dirty, she was worthless, and he wouldn’t ever want her.
As if in reply to her thoughts, the face in the potion turned back to Ron’s, who turned away from her and looked towards another face in the picture. Lavender Brown. Ron wrapped his arms around her and whispered three words into her ear.
‘I love you…’
Somewhere beneath the grief and pain she was feeling there was a surge of anger, and she brought the basilisk fang down onto the Horcrux. It hissed and screamed as if in anger and pain when the venom made contact with the metal, and then there was no more.
She curled up in a ball on the floor, too ashamed to look at Ron, and felt as if she was drowning inwardly.
Ron moved in front of her and wrapped his arms around her, and said quietly,
‘I would have thought you-know-who could be a bit more original. He showed me you and Harry together…’
Hermione turned her tear streaked face towards his.
‘Really?’ She half sobbed. Ron nodded solemnly.
Hermione wrapped her arms around him and returned the hug, trying not to cry.
After a few seconds Ron broke away from her and smiled comfortingly.
‘Come on, we have to help Harry!’
And they scurried out of the chamber, hand in hand.
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