Chapter 15 : Two Down and Two Down
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“Yes Miss Hermione, what can Drojo do for you Miss?” The little elf asked, as he appeared with a pop in the Gryffindor Common room, before Hermione and Ron.
“Drojo, have you been to Grimmauld Place recently?” Hermione enquired.
“No Miss, Drojo is staying at Hogwarts to look after you and Miss Deniz and Miss Nehir and kind Mistress.”
“When were you there last Drojo?” Ron asked.
“Miss Hermione, should Drojo answer, Miss?” Drojo asked, looking apprehensively at Ron, as if expecting to be beaten any second.
“It’s OK Drojo this is Ron, my boyfriend, you can answer his questions.” Hermione assured the frightened house elf.
“Yes Miss … Drojo was at Grimmauld Place five days ago, Miss Hermione’s Ron.” He said, to a surprised Ron.
“Is the house still secure though?” Ron asked nobody in particular.
“Miss Hermione, should Drojo go to Grimmauld Place to make sure everything is OK with Masters House?” Drojo asked, unperturbed by the idea of anything being amiss.
“No Drojo!” Hermione said, startled. Drojo looked a little scared by her outburst.
“No Drojo ...” she repeated quietly “… I’d never put you in danger like that …”
“Miss, Drojo will do it to make sure Miss Hermione and Miss Hermione’s Ron are safe.” Drojo said, with innocence written all over his face.
“Drojo, that is very brave and very noble of you, but Ron and I will go together. But I will tell Harry about this; how you were willing to serve his House without being told to, just because you wanted to. If you keep this up, you too could be a member of the Honourable House of Potter.” She smiled at the amazed house elf.
“Miss Hermione would do that, for poor Drojo? Ms. Hermione is a very kind witch.” Drojo said, bowing low to Hermione.
“Yes Drojo … we’re family.” Hermione said, smiling at the startled house elf.
“Ready to go Hermione?” Ron said, slinging a satchel onto his shoulder.
“Yes Ron.” Hermione said, smiling as Ron took her hand and led her through the portrait hole and down to the front doors.
Stopping outside, as the sun struck her eyes, Hermione pulled Ron into a fierce embrace.
“Hermione?” Ron said, both delighted and worried by her frantic embrace.
“Ron I’m scared.” Hermione said in a small voice “I don’t know how Harry can do this and stay sane? Risking and losing loved ones again and again. I can’t lose you Ron.”
“Hermione, you are not going to lose me and I’m not gonna lose you, we’re going to win and live happily ever after. OK.” He said
“I want to believe it Ron … really I do …But what if …”
“Hermione! No what if’s … only you looking after me and me looking after you … and both of us looking after Harry, OK.”
She didn’t answer, just hugged him tight for a moment and then stepped away. Taking his hand, she kissed his knuckles, giving him a wan smile as they walked to the gates of Hogwarts.
Before they went through to the apparition point, Ron stopped Hermione. “I think we should be a little extra careful love …” he said opening the satchel he carried on his shoulder. “… let’s get under here before we apparate, yeah!”
Shaking out an invisibility cloak, he draped it over his broad shoulders and pulled the hood over his head, holding the front open, welcoming Hermione into to his embrace.
“Ron! Does Harry know you’ve borrowed his cloak?” Hermione asked, as she wrapped her arms about his waist and looked up into his smiling blue eyes.
“I didn’t borrow it … it’s the one that you and Fred liberated from DE Collins; spoils of war. I just repaired it and put a shield charm and a silencing charm on it.”
“So no-one can see us or hear us under here?” she asked, with a mischievous grin.
“Ms. Granger, I can’t imagine what you’re thinking!” he said, as he leaned down to kiss her smiling lips.
“Hmmm for someone lacking imagination, that was a very good guess.” She said, pulling his head down and capturing his lips in a heartfelt kiss born of love, fear and desperation.
“Come on love … let’s go and pay a visit to grim old, Grimmauld Place.” Ron said, after many blissful minutes had passed. They stepped through the gates and apparated silently away.
Arriving silently, outside number twelve Grimmauld Place, Ron whispered to Hermione “Don’t move love … I want to check out the area, see if anyone is watching.”
So they stood still and observed the quiet suburban street. Nobody so much as glanced at number twelve and nobody seemed to be loitering long enough to observe this part of the street. Finally Ron had enough, “Come on love, lets go in, if anyone is watching they’re better hidden than I’d imagined they’d bother to be.” They walked slowly to the door of number twelve and went in.
“What the …” Ron said as he was first through the doors. The interior of Grimmauld Place had been transformed. Gone were the dank dusty floors, replaced with bright clean crisp beech wood floors, all inlayed parquetry. The walls were painted a variety of pastel colours, with splashes of strong colours, provided by dado rails and wallpapers. Even the paintings had been restored and reframed.
The Rooms had new furniture, bright modern and very elegant; sparkling chandeliers threw the abundant sunlight about the rooms in a myriad of reflections and refractions. “This place is amazing.” Hermione chimed in “It’s so full of light!” The dark velvet drapes were gone and the windows were now without cover except for folding beech wood shutters, that were neatly folded away on either side.
Each and every room had been transformed. The kitchen and bathrooms were modern clean crisp affairs, with an abundance chrome and marble. The bedrooms were light and airy. Even the library had been transformed; its literary content remained the same, but it was now cosy and quite, rather than eerie and dead.
Sitting at last at a small breakfast table just off the kitchen, in what was a small conservatory, Ron said, “What’s Kreacher going to think of all this?”
“What can Kreacher do for Sir’s friend and Miss” he said, appearing and bowing to Hermione.
“Oh! Sorry Kreacher…” Ron said, “I was just wondering what you’d make of this place, since Harry did it up?”
“Sir has not seen Grimmauld Place since Kreacher has made it, more suitable, for Sir.” Kreacher responded.
“You did this for Harry?” Hermione asked.
“Yes Miss, Kreacher asked if he might be allowed to set Sir’s houses right. Sir said yes.”
“Drojo’s learning to serve Harry out of desire rather than fear too.” Hermione said, telling Kreacher of Drojo’s offer to put himself at risk, rather than her and Ron.
“Kreacher has tried to teach Drojo what Sir has taught Kreacher, but Drojo is finding it hard to change.”
“Please keep trying Kreacher, it’s so much better to help, than to serve.” Hermione pleaded.
“Yes Miss, Kreacher is thinking so too. Kreacher has asked Dobby to help too.” Kreacher replied, “Can Kreacher get Miss and Sir’s friend some lunch?”
“Yes please Kreacher …” Ron confirmed, his stomach rumbling.
“Thank you Kreacher, that would be lovely.” Hermione added.
“Very good, Miss.” Kreacher said, and disappeared.
The crunch of jagged, multi-coloured crystals underfoot, told Harry they were no longer in Gringotts. The air pulsed with swirling colours, as if the Aurora Borealis had congealed about Harry’s optic nerve and a sound like white noise crackled in his ears.
“Harry?” Ginny’s voice came from beside him, “What’s happening Harry?”
“Ginny stay calm, do you have the cup?” Harry asked her gently.
“No Harry … it’s gone. What’s so important about that cup?” Ginny asked, the panic creeping into her voice again.
“It’s Helga Hufflepuffs golden cup. It’s what Tom Riddle may have used to create a horcrux.” Harry said calmly, taking her in his arms and holding her tight.
“What’s a horcrux Harry?” Ginny replied, the shaking in her voice eased slightly by Harry’s ministrations.
“It’s a vessel to hold part of your soul, created by the act of willing, intentional murder. Tom Riddles diary was a horcrux Ginny.”
“Oh no! No! no, not again. Harry please … not again.” The panic rose in Ginny voice, as the memories of being possessed returned to fill her with fear and loathing.
“Ginny stop! You are not a little girl anymore. Tom Riddle holds no power over you.” Harry said, taking her by the shoulders and looking deep into her hazel eyes with such intensity, that his own pale green ones flashed with magical power.
Ginny’s breath caught in her throat, as Harry’s strength and determination seemed to pierce her soul and fill her up with the passion and love behind his words. He radiated innocence and raw power in an intoxicating cocktail of insecurity and confidence, that she found irresistible. Without conscious volition, she found herself wrapped in his arms, blissfully without thought, she clung to his muscular form and drank the passion from his lips.
“Ginny!” Harry called, as if from a great distance, “Ginny!”
“Harry?” she answered, coming slowly back from the brink of heaven.
“Ginny, you OK now?” Harry asked.
“Harry … Please”
Harry kissed her again, briefly, “Ginny we have to stay alert.”
Ginny opened her eyes and looked into the depth of Harry’s. “Gods, how does he do that to me?” she thought, “I’m like some shameless hussy, unable to keep my hands off him.” Blushing, she looked away.
“Hey Gin!” Harry said, leaning his forehead against hers.
“Hey Harry …” she smiled, their silence and tenderness speaking volumes.
“We need to find a way out of here, wherever here is?” Harry said, looking around him for any point of reference.
“Perhaps a pointing spell …?” Ginny said, taking her wand from her back pocket.
“No! Gin…” Harry said placing his hand on hers, “… no coherent magic ‘til we know what we’re dealing with. Can you keep watch, while I try and find out what’s going on?”
“Sure Harry?” Ginny said, unsure just how Harry meant to ‘find out what was going on!’, but trusting him and his magic, she agreed.
Closing his eyes, Harry allowed his magic to flow through him, fill him with energy and power. Forgetting his normal senses, Harry focused on the interactions of the Magic all around him and its purpose. How long he stood there, he didn’t know, his mind wandered within the confines of his magic, touching, tasting, feeling, probing the magic all around him. Like a river in flood, his magic sloshed around within the confines of the magic in this place, looking for a weak spot, a chink in the armour. He almost missed it, the tiniest hole imaginable, smaller than the width of a human hair. Allowing his magic to travel along this miniscule highway, Harry immediately sensed an exit, an exit to what or where, he couldn’t tell, but this was the path to follow he was sure. Opening his eyes, he found Ginny staring up at his face in wonder, she blushed again at being caught staring. “What …” he wondered “… did she see in his ordinary face that caused her to stare so?”
“Harry, what were you doing?” she asked, her voice edged with wonder and awe.
“I was trying to find a way past all this.” Harry said waving his hand at the incomprehensible barrage of magical distortion surrounding them.
“You looked so serene, so at peace. I almost felt like I was in the presence of a holy man.” Ginny said, blushing even more.
“How long was I standing here?” He asked, feeling his own cheeks blush.
“Less than a minute, I think, it’s hard to gauge time in this place.” Ginny said, looking about her at the shifting spectrum of light.
“I think I found the way out.” Harry said, point at the nothing to his left.
“Are you sure Harry?” Ginny said, looking for anything that resembled a path or a door or an exit of any kind, in the direction Harry pointed.
“Yes Gin, I think Tom Riddle has been very clever, with this trap.”
“What do you mean, Harry?” Ginny asked, exasperated “You’re starting to sound like Dumbledore, do you know that? Nothing you say makes sense anymore!”
Harry laughed, “Sorry Ginny, I’ll try and explain.” After a slight pause to arrange his thoughts, Harry continued, “How would any wizard, try to get out of a totally sealed box?” Harry asked her.
“Tests Harry? Now you are turning into Dumbledore. If you grow a long scraggily beard, I’ll never snog you again.” she warned, waggling her finger at him as she stopped to think, “They’d apparate out.”
“Exactly Gin. And do you know how anti-apparation wards work? They stop a wizard or witch, from squeezing themselves down into a tiny spot, to apparate. They spread the magic. This …” he explained, indicating the confusion around them, “… is just a smokescreen to prevent us from using our eyes and ears. That …” he indicated where he said the exit was, “… is a corridor, with the opposite of an anti-apparation ward placed on it. If we apparate, we squeeze ourselves down, that then squeezes us down even more and possibly kills us and it also hides the exit by making it so small, even the most keen eyed person would be hard pressed to find it, with all this lightshow going on. Brilliant Tom, as much as I hate to say it, brilliant!”
“So what do we do, Harry?” Ginny asked
“Absolutely nothing, we let Tom Riddle do it for us. Think of this as a forced apparation ward. Take my hand and prepare to be apparated side-along, I’ll stop us splinching. Ready?” Harry said, holding his finger out as if going to press a door bell.
“Ready Harry.” Ginny said, holding on to him tightly. Harry touched his finger to the tiny hole and they were whisked away, to land with a knee jarring impact at the end of a dank, dark and narrow cavern. The damp clay floor was covered with fungus, that gave off an eerie glow; the walls glistened with stagnant, sweaty moisture. With only one path to follow, Harry led the way with Ginny staying close behind, in the narrow confines. A light seemed to emanate from around the next corner. Inching slowly and quietly around the bend, Harry’s view was drawn to a lighted dais, upon which sat a handsome and virile young African warrior; held across his lap was a staff, topped with a human skull.
“Hide if you will mortal, it matters little to me. Fate has brought us to this place and you shall not leave.” The warrior said.
“Stay here Ginny …” Harry whispered to her.
“No way Harry, we’re in this together … besides, I’d be scared stiff if you left me alone here.” Ginny replied, the worry making her voice a little shrill.
“OK” he said, wordlessly casting a disillusionment charm on her, “Stay right behind me.” He said, stepping slowly into view of the warrior on the dais.
“Who are you?” Harry asked.
“What does it matter? … I am me … I am Loa … I … Oh! Very well, you may call me Makaya.” he said, stamping his staff on the dull clay below him. Tendrils of magic snaked from the eyes of its skull, to slowly make their way into the room.
“Makaya, do you know why I’m here?” Harry asked, keeping an eye on the staff in Makaya’s hands. Watching as the warrior paced about the dais, his movements, foppish, odd.
“Do you know why YOU, are here Harry Potter? Does your avarice know no bounds; your lust … for power brings you here, shrouded in a garment of righteousness. Lust … for power; covetousness for that possessed by others; lust … for those possessed by others.” Makaya stood, thrusting his hips at Harry each time he said lust, his obvious arousal, disturbing to behold.
“I seek Helga Hufflepuffs cup, nothing more.” Harry replied, as again, he watched the emission of magic into the room, from the skull staff.
Ginny’s hands lay lightly under Harry’s top, holding him like a pillion passenger on a motorbike, her wand pointed directly at the figure on the dais.
“Power Harry, you seek the power to defeat him; you sneak around, behind the scenes, like a true Slytherin, undermining your foe. Even now you seek to influence me, claim dominion over me, to get what you want … power, control. This cup is nothing but a means to your further control.” He said, holding his hand out palm up, on it resting the small golden cup of Helga Hufflepuff.
More magic emitted from the skull, as he continued, “You want her, don’t you; you love her, lust after her …” a figure moved in the darkness, barely visible to Harry, a woman, voluptuous in figure, sensual, erotic. The image intensified and an unwholesome desire began to creep into Harry’s mind. Ginny’s fingers, rubbed gently on Harry’s side and the woman was gone, the illusion gone. Instead, Harry could see tendrils of magic were flooding from the skull staff, winding their way up Harry’s legs. “Don’t you want to take her … here … now … Mami Wata is waiting for you … come drown in her arms, you fool.”
“Enough!” Harry said, “Give me the cup.”
“Will you kill me for it … for her?”
Harry allowed his magic to flow against the magic rising from the floor, he couldn’t push it back, it clung to his legs like a second skin, all he could do was stop it from advancing.
“Stop what you are doing, I mean you no harm.” Harry insisted.
“You think you can take what is mine; you think you love, Mami Wata? She doesn’t love you … she’s bound you to the Drowned Road … she’s mine … SHE’S MINE.” Makaya roared.
Harry had enough of this insane wizard, “It is you, Makaya, who is bound; you think she loves you, ha! SHE has you doing Tom Riddle’s chores. Did he beat you? Does he have her now? Give me the cup!” Harry threw these words at Makaya, not knowing what he was saying, just hoping to gain enough time, to figure out what to do.
“Yes he defeated me … a GOD! He beat me into despair and spoke to me in my own tongue, tying me, twisting my purpossse to hisss own … You ssseek thisss …?” he held up his palm, on which rested the golden cup of Helga Hufflepuff. “… you ssseek death.” He said, placing the cup in his mouth.
Where moments before a man had stood, now, a giant serpent filled the room. Its head large enough to swallow Harry; its massive coils, seemed to replace the tendrils of magic, that had been swirling around the floor.
“Hassaeth iss sesh cha lishess sa ti?” Harry spat out in Parseltongue “Obey me! Give me the cup?”
The snake began to writhe, as if in torment, “Obey me! Give me the cup?” Harry spat again, in Parseltongue, “I will avenge you against Tom Riddle.”
The magic around Harry’s legs became coils of the snake. Hoisted into the air, he hung upside down before the forked tongue of the massive serpent. A streak of magic shot from the empty floor, striking the snake in the face. Bat bogeys began streaming from its flared nostrils and attacking its flat face. Harry was dropped to the ground; a sickening crack, followed by a scream of pain, told Ginny he was hurt.
Running to his side, Ginny helped him up, “Harry, are you alright?” she asked, his left arm hung limply at his side.
“Think it’s broken Gin.” he hissed out, the pain evident on his face. Holding his right hand out, he began casting “Diffindo … diffindo … diffindo …”
The snake was sliced deeply in numerous different places, no blood appeared, but it hissed in pain and continued to writhe uncontrollably.
“Look out Ginny!” Harry screamed, as a random coil struck out. Harry pushed his broken shoulder into Ginny’s, pushing her clear of harm, the coil striking Harry firmly in the chest, sending him flying through the air to land hard on the dais.
The only thing that stopped Harry from passing out, was the pain in his shoulder. Shaking his head, to clear the stars from his vision, he was just in time to see the snake lunge for him, mouth open wide, two fangs extended, one of them, gleaming gold in the pale light.
Ginny lost all control, she couldn’t get to Harry. Makaya was about to kill him. Raising her wand, she let all her emotions surge through her wand at the head of the serpent, as it descended on a dazed Harry. There was no noise, the snakes head just withered to bone and Harry Potter was obliterated. The scream of anguish that reverberated around the chamber, Ginny realised, was coming from her … what had she done? Harry?
How long she sat there, staring at the spot where he … where she had … The enormity of what she’d done struck her. Voldemort would win, the man she loved … she’d killed … tears fell from her eyes to the ground. Standing, she walked over to where Harry … where she … nothing, no mark, no ash … nothing. Just like her heart … empty.
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