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Chapter 6 : Chapter 5 - Godric's Hollow
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"Good afternoon, dear. Are you feeling better?" Mrs. Weasley asked.
"Oh, yes," Hermione replied. "I just had a headache."
Settling on the couch across from Mrs. Weasley, Hermione cradled her cup of tea in her hands. Gesturing to the knitting, Hermione asked, "What are you making?"
Lifting her knitting to show Hermione, Mrs. Weasley responded, "I'm making a blanket for the Lupins' baby. I decided to make it green and yellow as Tonks doesn't know if she is having a boy or girl. When my babies were being born, I got so used to making blue blankets. When Ginny was born, she had all blue for the first few months until I had time to make her some pink things." Laughing softly, Mrs. Weasley continued, "Of course, my baby girl doesn't like pink."
Hermione laughed. "No, she doesn't."
She watched Mrs. Weasley work before she asked, "When will Ginny get home?"
"Next week." Mrs. Weasley sighed. "I hate that she is there by herself. Her letters don't say anything and of course the letters I send don't say anything. The only thing they do is assure us the other is alive."
"I wish I could do that with my parents," Hermione said wistfully. "I've never spent a Christmas without some type of contact with them."
Mrs. Weasley sent a smile in Hermione's direction. "At least you know that they are safe in Australia. Can't you join them? I'm sure Kingsley or Remus could make you a Portkey. I've also heard that Gringotts is helping some people leave the country."
"I don't feel right leaving before…with everything that is going on," Hermione said softly.
A knock on the back door interrupted the two women. After greeting Remus and Bill, Ron joined them in the sitting room. He was surprised to see his mother still there. He opened his mouth before he realized he couldn't exactly ask his mother to leave.
He sat awkwardly on the couch next to Hermione. Remus sat in the chair across from Molly and Bill sat on the love seat across from Hermione and Ron.
Remus looked around at the group. "What is going on?"
"I think we may have given you the wrong impression about what happened," Hermione began carefully, avoiding eye contact with everyone. "We have been helping Harry with his mission that Professor Dumbledore left him. You know the rumors that the Daily Prophet was printing last year, that Harry is the Chosen One?"
When everyone nodded, Hermione continued, "Well, he is the Chosen One. There was a prophecy given before Harry was born that basically says he is the one who can defeat You-Know-Know. Unfortunately, You-Know-Know is not entirely human at this point in time. He created …"
Hermione trailed off. She tried again to explain about the Horcruxes, but was unable to force the words out of her mouth. Ron, seeing her distress, jumped in.
Ron was unable to finish the sentence either. Realizing what was going on, Hermione let out a frustrated growl. "I can't tell you what we are doing. Harry must have put a jinx on the information so we can't tell anyone."
"Don't fight it," Bill said. "Harry or even Dumbledore may have put a jinx on anyone but Harry talking about your mission in any detail."
"We haven't pushed you, but can you tell us what happened?" Remus asked urgently.
Exchanging a glance with Ron, Hermione started the tale. "We've been travelling looking for the items we need to kill You-Know-Who. It started out well. We found the first thing we needed when we broke into the Ministry. B-but lately it hasn't been going that great. We've been living in a tent and moving almost every night. W-we heard a group of people talking about how Ginny, Neville, and Luna tried to steal the Sword of Gryffindor."
She chanced a look over at Ron. He was looking down at his hands. Placing a hand on his arm, Hermione continued, "Ron and Harry got into an argument-"
Ron interrupted her. "I got angry at him. He…I thought he would have had more of a plan or that he had more information to complete our mission. We were hungry and tired and that night…I just snapped. I started yelling at him and he started yelling back. Hermione ended up putting a shield between us and he…he yelled at me and I just had to get out of there. I ran out of the tent and Hermione followed me. She grabbed my arm just as I Disapparated. We landed right in the middle of a group of Snatchers."
Bill and Mrs. Weasley gasped. Ron glanced up at his mother before he continued, "We convinced them that we weren't on the list and they stunned us and left. A…a witch found us and took us in for the night."
"Ron had been injured by the Snatchers and he needed to heal. Plus the lure of spending the night in a warm, clean bed and eating real food was too strong," Hermione explained. She could hear herself trying to justify their actions. "We stayed the night and when we went back to the tent the next afternoon, Harry was gone."
"Gone?" Remus asked. "Where did he go?"
"We don't know," Hermione whispered. "He'd talked about going to Godric's Hollow so we spent almost a week there, but he never showed up. We figured he would come back here or go back to Grimmauld Place. We didn't go back to Grimmauld Place because the day we broke into the Ministry…as we were leaving, one of the Death Eaters grabbed onto me and I brought him to Grimmauld Place. I was afraid he may have left some traps there."
Remus sprang to his feet and began pacing in front of the fireplace. "Why didn't you say anything earlier? I thought maybe he was planning to meet you here."
Hermione looked up with tears in her eyes. "I'm so sorry, Remus. I really thought he'd come here. I don't know where he is or what he plans to do."
Harry knelt on the snowy ground next to his parents' headstone. He reached out with a shaking hand to trace his mother's name. The young wizard felt the hot sting of tears as they burned his eyes, obscuring his vision. He wiped his eyes with his gloved hands impatiently. It hit him again that his parents had given their lives for him. He couldn't imagine why in the world they had done that, he simply wasn't worth it. He had caused death and destruction his whole life. His parents, Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore – they had all died protecting him. His two best friends had even bailed on him. How could he be expected to honour his parents' sacrifice?
Harry looked down at the kitten bumping against his legs. He gave his pet a shaky smile. "I'm still here, Sparkle."
He gestured to the graves. "These are my parents. James and Lily Potter. V - I mean Tom killed them to get to me. You know before today I never even knew their birthdays. It's pretty sad, isn't it? I think I know more about Tom than I do my own parents."
Absentmindedly he gathered Sparkle in his arms and scratched her behind the ears. "I don't know how, but I will somehow make their sacrifice worth it."
With a last look at his parents' grave, Harry conjured up a wreath of lilies, which he placed gently on the ground. "I love you, Mum and Dad."
Leaving the churchyard, Harry wandered around the town square. The statue both humbled and amazed him. The looks of joy and love his parents directed at him filled him with a longing for a normal life. Unbidden, he imagined him and Ginny holding their baby. Could that really happen? Could he really defeat Voldemort and start a life with Ginny?
Shouldering his pack, he headed down the street. As he neared the end of the street, he saw it. The grass was growing wild around the house. It looked like it had been a nice cottage at some point in time. Ivy was growing up one side of the house and Harry could imagine it as a happy home. The top right side of the house was blown away. Harry shivered. This must be where his mother had died, where he had faced Voldemort for the first time.
Tearing his eyes away from the house itself, he saw the rubble scattered across the unkept yard. Without thinking, he reached for the gate. Harry watched the plaque honoring his family rise from the ground. Smiling, he read the words of support and encouragement left for him. He felt a strong sense of magic in the air and wondered if charms had been placed to keep people out. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and concentrated on the magic he felt in the air. He opened his eyes with a smile. He recognized the protective wards around the house; they were similar to the wards he had lived with all his life on Privet Drive.
Taking another look around to ensure no one was watching him, Harry drew his wand and after opening the gate, stepped into the front yard. He paused a minute, half expecting to hear some kind of alarm. When nothing happened, he made his way across to the house. He unlocked the front door and stepped inside his childhood home for the first time in over sixteen years.
Thick layers of dust covered the interior of the house. Harry closed the door and looked around. He was in a living room and could see the stairs off to the right. Harry chose to explore the first floor and hurried through the living room. Was that where his father had died?
He walked through a small dining room to the kitchen. He smiled as he surveyed the kitchen. It looked like a happy place; the walls were painted a bright yellow that hadn't faded over the years. It was a typical Wizarding kitchen with a large fireplace dominating one wall. There was a stove and large pantry on the opposite wall with plenty of large white cupboards on the walls. Harry could see a door leading out back and there was a small wooden table along the wall with the fireplace. Harry set down his backpack and let Sparkle out.
Sparkle jumped down from the table and immediately sneezed. Harry laughed and set to work cleaning up the kitchen.
A good hour and a half later, Harry sat down at the small table. To his delight, he'd found a case of butterbeer still cool in the pantry. He'd had to banish several containers of food that after sixteen years, he really didn't want to try to identify. While he now felt more confident with his magical cleaning skills, he found that he still felt more comfortable cleaning some things the Muggle way.
He'd found the tea kettle and put it on to boil while he pulled the food he'd brought with him out of his pack. He placed it in the pantry with a sense of being home.
As he was finishing up his tea and sandwich, Sparkle came running back into the room.
"What do you think, girl?" Harry asked as he poured some food and water out for the kitten. "This was my parents' house. I think we should stay here while we're in Godric's Hollow."
By early evening, Harry and Sparkle had explored the entire downstairs. In addition to the kitchen, dining room and living room, they found a small office and bathroom on the first floor. Harry didn't feel up to visiting the second floor yet. While he was fairly sure his father had died in the living room, he knew for certain his mother had died in his nursery up in the right hand corner. So he decided to sleep on the couch in the living room. The young wizard found a pillow and blankets as well as towels in a hall closet. He was pleased to find out that one of his parents supported Puddlemere United, the team for whom his former captain, Oliver Wood was currently playing. The blankets were decorated with the blue and gold logo of Puddlemere.
Having spent the last several weeks at his aunt and uncle's house with no heat, he was pleased to find that his parents' house was warm and the water was hot. After taking a hot shower, Harry changed into his new pajamas and lay down on the couch. Pulling out the Marauder's map, Harry watched Ginny's dot for a while. Sparkle curled up next to him and Harry fell asleep. After being at his parents' house for less than a day, it already felt more like home than his aunt and uncle's house ever had.
Ginny sank gingerly into the large armchair by the fireplace. She ached all over. Goyle had been practicing his Cruciatus Curse on her during Dark Arts that afternoon. Professor Carrow had offered the Slytherin upperclassmen extra credit to "help" with disciplining the other classes. Crabbe, Goyle, Parkinson, and Malfoy had jumped at the chance.
"Are you okay, Ginny?" Neville asked worriedly. He didn't like how pale she looked. The older boy hated the fact that Ginny was not in his class. He and Seamus tried to watch out for the girls in their year. All the boys did, but the sixth year Gryffindors had a rather small class without the Muggleborns and Ginny often took on the role of protector for her classmates.
Opening her eyes, Ginny smiled wanly at Neville. "I'll be okay. Goyle is getting better with his curses."
Lavender brought Ginny over a cup of tea and half a vial of post Cruciatus potion. Ever since Ginny had asked Kreacher to bring food to the common room, he had ensured that the common room was always stocked with tea and food as well as the precious healing potions.
Ginny smiled her thanks as she downed the potion. Within a few minutes, Ginny started to feel alive enough to listen to the conversation around her.
"I will be so glad to leave this place for the holidays," Parvati said as she joined the group by the fire.
"I know," Neville agreed. "I don't think anyone signed up to stay over the holidays. I know for certain no Gryffindors have signed up to stay. I'll check with Hannah and Luna to make sure that all Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws have a place to go for the holidays. I'd hate to imagine anyone being forced to stay here this Christmas."
"Ginny." Ginny looked up to see Seamus looking over at her.
"I don't want to worry you for no reason, but I don't like the way Malfoy's been watching you lately," Seamus said hesitantly.
"Malfoy?" Ginny asked.
To her surprise, she saw Neville and Parvati nodding. Lavender added, "I agree. He was watching you last year, but he has become much more obvious lately."
"Just be careful around him," Neville said.
Harry woke the next morning warm and content for the first time in a long while. After frying up some eggs and sausages that he'd purchased with the money Alicia had given him, Harry pulled out his notes to review while he ate. A squeaking noise made him look up. He and Sparkle had found a cache of cat toys in the study and Sparkle had been chasing around a toy mouse all morning.
"Hey, girl." Harry reached down and picked up both the kitten and the toy. "You look like you're having fun here."
Teasing the kitten with the mouse, Harry made a decision. "Sparkle, I think I'm going to leave you here today while I go explore. I want to see if I can find Bathilda Bagshot. She knew my parents and the Dumbledores. I don't know if she'll be able to tell me anything or not, but I think I'd rather leave you and my stuff here."
Sparkle meowed and butted up against Harry's hand. Harry laughed and set down the kitten. With a wave of his wand, Harry sent his dishes to the sink and they began to wash themselves. Carrying Sparkle and his bag into the study, Harry hid his notes and the Horcrux in his father's desk. He hated leaving them here, but the house had obviously not been disturbed in the past sixteen years so he felt safe leaving his most important belongings here.
After cleaning up and changing, Harry set several privacy and security charms before he slipped out of his childhood home and walking back towards the town square. Pulling his jacket around him tighter to keep out the cold winter air, Harry spent the better part of the morning exploring his hometown.
By early afternoon, Harry had explored most of the residential sections of town. By his reckoning, he had found six Magical households, but he had no way of knowing who lived there. He was headed back home when he saw a small older woman bundled up against the cold.
Nodding to the woman, he felt the weight of her stare. Did she know him? He couldn't see much of her, but she appeared to be quite old. Could she be Bathilda Bagshot?
"Can I help you, ma'am?" Harry asked.
Even close to her, he still couldn't see much of her. She was wearing a thick, dark winter coat with a heavy red scarf and a hat that covered much of her head. All he could see was her cloudy eyes and gray hair that was not covered by the hat. She moved quite slowly, her movements indicated great age. Harry felt certain she was a witch.
Nodding, she beckoned to him. Looking around, Harry did not see anyone else around. He followed her as she led him down the street to one of the houses Harry had identified as being Magical. The front lawn was quite overgrown and there was an air of general neglect about the home. He could see the woman's tracks in the snow, but the front walk had not been cleared.
She opened the rusty gate and led the way into the house. Harry wrinkled his nose. Something smelled badly in the house. He wasn't sure if it was the woman or the house. Looking around, he could see that the house hadn't been cleaned in some time, the smell of old rubbish mixed with the smell of rotten food. Taking a discreet step back from her, Harry asked, "Are you Bathilda Bagshot?"
She nodded slowly. "Are you Potter?" she asked. Her voice sounded odd to Harry almost as though it was rusty from disuse.
"Yes," Harry nodded. "I am. Did Professor Dumbledore leave something here for me?"
Harry felt a quick stabbing pain in his scar. He rubbed his head as she gestured towards the dark corner of the room. Harry turned to look and as he did so, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning back, he watched in horror as the old woman's body seemed to fall away. From her neck slithered a large snake. Harry's blood ran cold as he recognized Nagini.
Harry drew his wand as his head throbbed. He heard the familiar cold high laugh that haunted many of his dreams and as the room disappeared momentarily, he heard "Hold him for me."
Before Harry could cast any spells, he felt a stabbing pain as Nagini bit him below the wrist. To his horror, he watched his wand fly across the room. Nagini's powerful tail swung around and knocked him off balance.
Harry scrambled frantically to reach his wand. He felt the all too familiar feel of Voldemort's pleasure and realized that Voldemort was on his way.
"Accio wand!" Harry yelled desperately. Harry slipped on a thick liquid that he realized was blood. Nagini took advantage of his distraction and wound her way around his chest. Harry gasped as the snake's powerful body slowly tightened around him.
Beating his arms against the snake did nothing for him. "Please," he whispered. "Let me go."
Not really expecting an answer, Harry was surprised to hear the snake respond, "Sorry, my master wants to see you."
"Your master wants to kill me," Harry gasped in Parseltongue as his scar burned painfully.
"I must hold you," Nagini responded.
A flash filled the room and for a horrifying moment, Harry was certain he was dead. He heard Nagini hissing angrily before air rushed back into his lungs as Nagini fell away from his body. A soothing song filled the room and as Harry grabbed his wand, he realized that Fawkes had joined him.
He felt Nagini's fangs stab into his leg. With the return of Nagini's fangs was the addition of a warmth rushing up his leg and Harry realized that venom was pouring into his body. He fell to the ground and looked up in time to see Fawkes drop Gryffindor's Sword next to him. Harry grabbed the sword and swung almost blindly, hearing a scream as the mighty sword connected with the snake. He swung again, with more control this time, and severed the snake's head.
Intense pain seared through his head centered at his scar and he fell to his knees as the worst throbbing he'd felt in years seared across his brain. He could literally feel Voldemort coming closer. With a scream of pain, he looked up as a form darkened the doorway.
"No!" Harry heard Voldemort's anguished cry as he realized Nagini was dead.
Turning, Harry saw Fawkes directly in front of him. He grabbed the bird's scarlet feathers and to Harry's relief, he felt the bird lift him and soar out the window. The young wizard heard Voldemort yelling curses and felt the singe of a curse as it narrowly missed him. Turning his head, he saw Voldemort standing in the broken window. The bright flash of a curse lit the afternoon sky. As he lost consciousness, Harry realized he'd been hit with a cutting curse across his back.
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