Chapter 217 : Together
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They were together and no matter what horror waited for them in this chamber, they would face it together. All around them, massive pillars rose as they entered the vast space that had once been the home to a monolithic monster. Ron and Hermione stopped on the threshold of the chamber.
A rank smell inundated them as the light from their wands illuminated a small portion of the darkened place. It was eerie being in a place that had been built so long ago and yet the hatred that had been behind it was waging a war above them. Ron felt a shudder of terror rip through him and the cup in his hand seemed to grow heavier and heavier. And yet despite this looming fear, Ron had a calm inside him. He was there with her, alone, and that made a difference.
Ron felt Hermione’s hand grip his tighter as they started forward into the chamber where they were sure to find the decaying body of a giant snake. His pulse raced through his body, down his hands and he could feel hers racing up his arm. They were united and for once he knew that they had always meant to be one being.
Hermione silently looked at him before she raised her wand and cast a spell to illuminate the entire space around them. The brilliancy of the sudden light in the darkness blinded them for a moment, but when their eyes adjusted, they saw the grotesque reality around them.
Salazar Slytherin’s great chamber that encircled them had seemed to be made of cruel, austere walls and unforgiving statues of stone that had stood proudly in their secret slumber for centuries. Ron couldn’t help but feel an itching need to keep out of the ruthless gaze of the snake statues that ringed the chamber, but it was the monstrous creature in the center of the room that made his skin crawl.
He had heard stories of the snake and Harry’s great defeat of it, but he had never been able to fully comprehend what a feat that was until he saw the gigantic beast before him. It was long dead and its body well on its way to turning into bones, but the snake still sent a shiver of apprehension as he and Hermione approached it. It seemed he was not the only one unnerved by the creature. Hermione’s grip had tightened even more. She was terrified, more so than him and he knew why. This creature had been bred to kill people like her because of one man’s ideology that had continued to be passed down through the centuries.
Even now as they approached the head of the enormous snake, it seemed to be paying homage to the statue of Salazar Slytherin himself, it‘s head facing the statue. That thought sent a chill down Ron’s spine and he couldn’t conceal the creepiness he felt being next to this dead creature. Hermione laid a hand of his arm and any fears he had had was overcome with calm.
Ron placed the cup down on the ground next to the head of the beast as Hermione edged over to the front of the mouth. Silently and diligently, they scoured the ground around them, searching for any loose teeth. Neither wanted to admit that they may have to pry a tooth from the mouth of the beast, but soon both realized that they had no other option.
“Hermione, how are we going to get that tooth out?” Ron asked, his voice sounding abnormally loud as it echoed off the walls of the chamber.
“I’m going to need you to hold the mouth open while I try to pry a tooth loose. It shouldn’t be too hard, judging by the decay of the beast,” she stated matter of factually, her tone quieter than normal. She too felt odd breaking up the silence in the chamber as if Salazar Slytherin’s ghost would come out of the walls to kill them.
“Hermione, how are you going to pry the tooth out? I don’t want you nicking yourself with one of those things--”
Ron fell silent as the painful possibility played out in his mind. He didn’t know what he would do if he lost her now that they were finally together. Hermione pulled out a knife from the little knap sack she wore around her neck.
“Don’t worry, Ron. I’ll be fine. Just hold the mouth open!”
And with that she stepped towards the snake. Ron had never been more enamored of her than he was at that moment. Her bravery buoyed his and Ron stepped over to the head of the snake. Trying not to think about the dead flesh his hands were about to touch, he gripped the edge of the snake’s mouth and pried it open. It was stubborn at first, but then yielded quite easily.
Hermione went to work right away, using her knife to cut and wheedle one of the incisors off. After struggling with the tooth for awhile, she ripped it out and held it above her head as if she had won some great victory. Ron dropped the mouth and together they approached the cup.
The easy part was over, Now they faced an even more difficult challenge. They knew that Horcruxes didn’t go down without a fight. Alone, it would have been daunting, but they were together. And together, they knelt down next to the now glowing cup, the tooth held by the both of them. It knew it’s time was drawing to an end and soon it was going to try and stop them. They couldn’t let that happen.
“Ready?” Hermione asked.
Ron wrapped his hand around hers, the touch of her soft, warm skin enflaming his.
“Ready!” Ron answered.
The cup’s glow was growing more and more menacing. Ron and Hermione lifted the long dagger of a tooth high above their head and with one united swoop of their arms, plunged the tooth through the very center of the cup.
The effect was instantaneous as a keening screech of something in its death throes rang out in the chamber around them. The cup cracked straight down the center of it, it’s beaming light twisting in agony. The two pieces of the cup fell to the stone floor and the light and screeching stopped almost immediately.
It was over. The silence returned, but neither Ron nor Hermione noticed that. Locked in a embrace, they were one and all the world seemed to melt away. At that moment, there was no war and no death happening above their heads. All there was was them and even though both would have given the world to stay like this, they eventually broke apart. There would be plenty of time to be together in the future.
Together, hands entwined, they got to their feet and walked out of the chamber of secrets.
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