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Chapter 12 : Keep Breathing
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But all that i know is I’m breathing.
All i can do is keep breathing.
All we can do is keep breathing now.
--“Keep Breathing” Ingrid Michelson
“We know who R.A.B is” Ron blurted as soon as he and Hermione reached Harry in the living room.
He frowned up at them as he put down the golden snitch.
“How?” he asked.
“By mistake actually. I found this plaque outside the room Hermione was in.” Ron explained handing over the plaque.
Harry looked at it carefully, feeling a pang in his stomach as he read the name. It was Sirius’s younger brother.
“This must be some coincidence.” said Harry shaking his head. “Sirius told me Regulus had been a Deatheater, why would he want destroy a Horcrux?”
“Maybe there’s more to the story than what Sirius knew?” Hermione suggested.
“Could be.” Harry said. “They weren’t exactly close. Regulus was everything being a Black asks for. Sirius was the black sheep. A Gryffindor, and against all the pureblood mania.”
“Hermione, you didn’t see anything like the locket while you were in his room?” Ron asked.
“No, Ron…although I can’t say for sure. I wasn’t really looking for anything.” Hermione answered.
“Well what are we waiting for?” Harry exclaimed. “Let’s go look.”
Harry, Ron and Hermione rushed back upstairs and into Regulus’s room. It was much different to Sirius’s room. The whole room covered in Slytherin paraphernalia and moving wizarding pictures.
“Accio locket.” muttered Ron.
Nothing flew up at them.
“So that’s it? Not here then?” Ron asked.
“No, he must’ve charmed it so that it couldn’t be grabbed so easily. We’re going to have to search by hand.”
The three separated and searched through different parts of his room. Hermione got the drawers of Regulus’s bed side table. Inside them were a bunch of parchment and spare quills. In another drawer she found a stack of old newspapers, each mentioning Voldemort and his Deatheaters. After what felt like an hour, they all reunited, feeling defeated as they started to realize that the locket was not going to be found, at least not in that room.
“It’s got to be somewhere else in the house.” said Harry frustratingly.
“I don’t know, this room and Sirius’s is the only one Mrs. Weasley didn’t make us clean back when this was the Order’s headquarters.” Hermione reminded him.
“Hang on.” said Ron enthusiastically. “Harry, Grimmauld place is yours now right? Sirius left it to you.”
“I guess so.” Harry shrugged.
“Well, why don’t we ask Kreacher?” Ron asked.
“Kreacher?” Harry repeated.
“There’s no trace of him here, and anyway I wouldn’t be exactly thrilled to see him.” Said Harry seething as he remembered the elf’s blatant refusal to help him when he had been searching for Sirius.
“He must be here; he lived for Mrs. Black remember? He wouldn’t leave.” Ron said encouragingly.
“Call him Harry.” said Hermione speaking for the first time in a while. “However you two feel about each other, he is still your…property. He will appear when summoned by his master.”
“I’m his master?” Harry asked.
“Yes, he belonged to the Black’s, now that Sirius is gone; he comes along with Grimmauld Place.” Hermione explained, looking rather disgusted.
Harry uncertainly stepped forward.
“Kreacher!” said Harry firmly.
Sure enough, there was soon a loud pop noise and they were now joined by the grouchy old elf.
“Mr. Potter.” he said through gritted teeth as he made a forceful bow. “How can Kreacher serve?”
“I need to know where Regulus’s locket is.”
“Master Regulus’s locket?” Kreacher repeated, this time sounding softer, almost saddened. “How do you---
“Never mind how I know!” said Harry impatiently.
He side-glanced at Hermione and he could see her frowning.
“Sorry Kreacher.” Harry apologized. “But, that’s not important now. We know about the locket and we know there were two…where’s the other one?”
“That locket was so dark.” said Kreacher melancholy. “Poor master Regulus; Kreacher could not keep his promise. No matter how hard he tried.”
“What promise?” Hermione asked sympathetically.
“Mudblood Granger is mistaken if—“
“Kreacher, as your new master I forbid you to call anyone a mudblood or blood traitor.” said Harry firmly.
“Yes master.” said Kreacher bitterly. “Kreacher is here to serve.”
“Well then answer her.” Harry urged.
“Master Regulus knew the horrors the dark lord was about to unfold on the world.” Kreacher continued. “He did not want to be a part of it, so he made it his mission to learn secrets of the Dark Lord. He soon discovered about the locket and tried to look for it.”
“Once he found it, he brought Kreacher along with him.” He added.
“Brought you where?” Harry asked, intrigued.
“To a cave. Master Regulus reached a basin, he forced Kreacher to drink…” said Kreacher, his face faltering as tears were beginning to shed. “Kreacher didn’t mind to. Kreacher just wanted to help…but he couldn’t.”
“Things came out of the lake and began grabbing Master Regulus, all he could say to Kreacher was to drink the basin and destroy the locket.”
“And did you?” Ron asked.
“Kreacher tried as best as he could…but nothing worked.” said Kreacher crying. “It was too strong.”
“Where’s the locket now Kreacher?” Hermione asked sympathetically.
“Kreacher doesn’t have it.”
“Oh come on,” said Ron impatiently. “You were all too happy knick stuff from us back when we were cleaning this place up.”
“Kreacher lost all his precious belonging to that dirty thief.” said Kreacher angrily.
“What thief?” Harry asked curiously.
“That treacherous old bleeder.” Ron mumbled.
“Kreacher, you need to find Mundungus and bring him here.” Harry ordered.
“Yes, master.” said Kreacher bowing.
In with the same loud pop he appeared with, he vanished.
“Oh my god.” Hermione exclaimed.
“What?” Harry and Ron asked together in alarm.
“Ron, when you mentioned the stuff about Kreacher stealing from us back when we were cleaning…I started to think back to that time and…well I think we actually came across it.”
“What?!” Ron shouted.
“I remember now, there was a locket…it wouldn’t open with any spell so we just…”
“Threw it out.” Harry finished for her.
“Well, let’s just hope Mundungus still has it.” Ron said hopefully.
It was late afternoon and Harry and Hermione were alone in the living room. Ron had volunteered to go out in the invisibility cloak and find a newspaper. The uncertainty of what was going on was unsettling and the wizarding radio was refusing to work. It had only been two days since they had sent Kreacher out in search of Mundungus and they were down to the last sandwiches Hermione had stolen from the Weasley’s house before they had gone.
“Harry, I’ve been wondering.” said Hermione.
“Yeah?” Harry asked.
“What ever happened to Hedwig?” she inquired.
“I set her free.” Harry replied.
“What?!” Hermione exclaimed.
“She came round on the third day we were at the Burrow, I figured it would be best for her.” said Harry sadly. “A lot of people also know about her and she would just…give us away.”
“Oh Harry, I’m so sorry.” Hermione said placing a hand over his. “I know how special she was to you.”
Harry was overwhelmed by the surge of warmth that shot through him as she touched him. There it was again. That electrifying feeling. Hermione must have noticed, for she withdrew her hand almost immediately.
“I’ll…go and check if Ron is back” she said abashedly.
“Hermione, wait!” Harry said clearly.
Hermione stopped in her tracks and turned to look at him.
“I want to talk about what I told you a few days back.” Harry started.
“Harry,” Hermione said waving him off dismissively. “It’s fine. Really.”
“I know you didn’t mean to say those things…we’re just under a lot of stress and it won’t be the first nor the last time we say stuff we regret.”
“Are you sure we’re okay?” Harry asked.
Hermione gave him a small smile.
“Yes, we’re okay.”
The three had now been at Grimmauld Place for five days. Kreacher was yet to appear with Mundungus and the only source of information of the outside world came from the unreliable Daily Prophet and the seldom working wizarding radio. The strain of uncertainty was a heavy one. The three had taken it upon themselves to stay in different parts of the house, as they were afraid to hurt each other’s feelings. Hermione had taken to visiting Regulus’s bedroom often, determined to keep searching for any clues. It was there that she made the discovery that there were Death Eaters standing guard right outside Grimmauld Place. They had decided that the only way to go to and from the house was underneath Harry’s invisibility cloak. Hermione couldn’t help but wonder if this was the situation everyone who was fighting the dark side was going through.
A room away, Harry had taken refuge in his godfather’s old bedroom. Current Daily Prophets littered the floor. Had picked up the habit of searching for familiar names, anything that could tell him what was going on in the word outside. It had taken many issues to realize the Daily Prophet was also under Death Eater control. Everything was swept under a rug. The only way anyone knew of disappearances or deaths of loved ones was ‘Potter Watch” and underground station on the wizarding radio, which only worked late at night.
It was becoming overwhelming, sitting there, hiding, and achieving nothing while more and more people were being hunted down. All they could do at the moment was keep breathing. At the moment, that was their biggest challenge
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