Chapter 20 : Diadems and Lockets
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Ron and Hermione stopped by Mort Manor, but didn’t stay to explore it since they didn’t see a barn. “We should try Catherine’s House for Wayward Orphans,” Hermione decided, “maybe they’ll have a barn.”
Ron nodded slowly, considering her suggestion. “Yeah, no point in asking if You-Know-Who grew up here. Not without a barn.”
They hurried away to the last address they had. They stood off to the side looking at the now run-down orphanage. “You think magic’s holding it together?” Ron asked.
Hermione shook her head. “This is a Muggle building. Magic isn’t holding it together.” She nodded towards the barn. “We should start our search there. If it’s not there, then we can check the house.”
Ron nodded slowly, “Alright.”
They made their way to the barn, cautiously. They hung in the cover of the woods until they had to cross the small yard to the barn. Even then, they had their wands drawn, looking around hoping they were the only ones there. Ron pulled at the door but it resisted until Hermione whispered, “Alohamora.”
They looked around for traps, but didn’t see any. No one was hiding, waiting for them as far as they could tell. Both knew it would be wiser to split up to search, but neither wanted to. It was creepy enough without having to face it alone. The sun weakly shone inside through the rotting wood. Dust swirled through the sunlight.
Hermione pointed a direction as Ron agreed. They checked every likely hiding place. Hermione paused underneath the main rafter. An old rope dangled loosely. “I think that’s where...” She didn’t finish. Ron turned pale, but didn’t finish her thought for her.
Ron was the one lucky enough to find the trap door.
“Why would there be a trap door in a barn?” Hermione asked.
“Dunno,” Ron answered, still looking at the door he managed to trip over. His foot had gotten stuck in the ring. “But it’s a stupid place to put it.”
Hermione gasped. “Maybe it’s hidden in here!”
Ron swallowed hard. “Alright, what do we do now?”
“We’ll have to go inside and then find it.” Hermione guessed. “If it’s like what Dumbledore and Harry went through, it’ll be easy getting there but difficult to get it and to leave.”
Ron turned green at the thought.
They pulled open the door. They couldn’t see anything. “What if only one of us can get across? Harry said Dumbledore said the only reason Harry could come with was because he was under-aged.”
Hermione shook her head. “We don’t have the time to consider it. At least, not like Dumbledore did.” She chewed on her lip as she looked at the trap door again. There was no way of telling what was down there. The last time they had jumped down a trap door, there had been a Devil’s Snare. One that Ron had nearly died in because both he and Harry had been trapped until she remembered the counter. Harry had yelled at her for not remembering she was a witch. But she doubted that Nitwit would put something as easy as the Devil’s Snare here.
Nitwit had used Inferi who waited underneath the water for the locket. Would he do something like that here? Her brow furrowed as she tried to think what they might come up against. Harry told them that there were no problems getting to the locket. The only problems came when they tried to get the locket and directly afterwards.
She looked at Ron who was pale, but watching her carefully. “If there’s Inferi, remember they don’t like fire,” she said as he nodded. “Harry didn’t have problem getting there, but...”
“But he pointed out that Dumbledore said that being under-aged wouldn’t have counted. Only one of-age wizard crossed in the boat.” Ron frowned as he tried to remember exactly what Harry had told them.
Hermione nodded slowly. “True, though it seems to have been a charm on the boat. That’s just one thing we’ll have to chance.”
“What do you think will happen if only one of us is supposed to get through?” Ron asked.
Hermione grimaced. “We’ll fight. That’s all we can do. I mean, if we could have had time to prepare like Dumbledore did, that would be one thing.”
“But we don’t,” Ron finished for her. “Alright, let’s go.”
“Don’t stay in place when you land, especially if you land on something soft.” Hermione warned him as he started to jump down.
Ron grimaced at the memory of the Devil’s Snare. He nodded before jumping. She didn’t hear anything except his landing. “Just a bit dusty here.” He warned her as he moved out of the way. She joined him.
It was dark in the tunnel. “Lumos.” she whispered. Pale light shone from her wand, making the tunnel look creepy. “I don’t want anything brighter,” she explained at his questioning look, “just in case.”
Ron nodded grimly. They started to make their way down the tunnel, picking their way over roots and ducking under others until they came to a wall – a dead end. They both stared at it in horror.
“Blood,” Hermione whispered. “Remember what Harry said about blood?”
“But where do you put it?” Ron was looking over the wall without seeing anything that looked remotely like where one would put their blood.
Hermione chewed her lip nervously. “Did Harry say anything about where Dumbledore put the blood?”
Ron shook his head. “And when they were trying to get away, Harry didn’t waste time trying to find a particular place.”
She nodded. “Then we’ll try on this wall.” She pointed to the wall in front of them. “And if it doesn’t open, we’ll try another wall.”
He grumbled, but held out his hand for Hermione who whispered “Diffendo”. A small cut appeared on his finger. “That hurt!” He complained as he placed his finger on the wall. He stepped back as it opened.
There was no light coming from the hole in the wall. Hermione’s wand cast an eerie glow making the hole seem much larger than it could be.
Ron entered first, holding his wand ready in front of him. His throat went dry with thoughts of having Inferi or worse after them. Harry had detailed every bit of what happened that night in the cave. Over and over. They had all three discussed it until both Hermione and he felt like they had been there with Harry and Dumbledore also. His eyes darted about as they made their way through the tunnel. His nose wrinkled when the smell of rotting earth reached him. He could hear Hermione’s gag as she encountered the smell. Neither of them spoke. There was no point, not yet. They’d know soon enough what challenge lay before them.
The tunnel opened in a cavern. They both looked around, but neither could see the other side. Not that they were willing to light up the area more than they had to. Hermione started chewing her lip again as she stopped Ron from stepping inside until she had looked at the entrance closer. She motioned for him to step back a few paces. “Only one person can enter.”
“But Harry was able to go with Dumbledore...” Ron protested.
Hermione grimaced, “Only because he was under-aged at the time.”
Ron grumbled. “So who will go?”
Hermione grimaced again. She looked at the entrance worriedly. “I hadn’t thought about that. I mean, Harry had to help Dumbledore. But it shouldn’t hurt to look. After all, it sounds like that’s what Dumbledore did before taking Harry.”
“Shouldn’t?” Ron raised an eyebrow.
Hermione shook her head. “This is Nitwit we’re talking about. Remember, the seriously evil wizard?”
Ron rolled his eyes. “I’ll go.”
Hermione shook her head again. “I’ll go look. Then come back to talk about what we’ll do.”
Ron didn’t look completely happy with the thought of either of them being alone in the dark.
Hermione stepped carefully into the dark passage, the light of her wand disappearing within a few steps. She peeked around the corner to see piles of junk. Magical junk, but it was still trash. There was a trail leading through the towering heaps. She chewed her lip. Was it too obvious that they needed to follow the path? And would more than one of them be able to enter without triggering the spells Nitwit had set on the place? Professor Dumbledore hadn’t explained that to Harry before he died. And Harry had rued never having thought to ask. And if there were Inferi in the water guarding the fake locket, what was here? What guarded this Horcrux?
She crept her way back to Ron and told him what she had seen. They debated what should be done. Finally, Ron won the argument that since Harry had been able to enter the cave and pass the wall, which at least the both of them should be able to go to the edge of this room. Hermione insisted that she be the one to continue forward. Ron didn’t like the idea and believed it should be him. They bickered about it until they got to the edge of the room. Ron swallowed hard when he saw the tiny path and the heaping piles of junk that reached above their heads. He wasn’t exactly accident-prone, but he also didn’t fancy being buried by junk.
“Now remember, you must stay behind this line.” Hermione pointed to the faint line in the dust. “Actually, step back.” She waited until Ron had taken two steps backwards. “Promise me you won’t pass the line. We don’t know what traps have been set if more than one person enters.”
Ron looked mutinous but agreed reluctantly. He gripped his wand tightly as he watched Hermione take careful steps over the line, breathing a sigh of relief that nothing happened. He watched anxiously as she began to wind her way through the junk until he could no longer see her.
Hermione was more than a little nervous. She flicked her wand and a ball of light left her wand to settle over a pile in the distance. It had taken time, but she had finally managed to find the spell she believed that Professor Dumbledore had used to locate the fake locket. At the very least, she wouldn’t have to search every pile. Carefully, she wound her way along the path. It helped that the path was large enough for Nitwit. Even though there were a few places that were tricky. She stopped at the pile the ball of light hung over. All it did was look like junk. It didn’t help that she didn’t know what she was looking for.
She didn’t move from her spot. There was no path to either side. It ended at this pile, which meant that she was looking at the Horcrux. She chewed her lip again. There definitely was no snake. And she doubted that the locket would be here since another person had gotten to it. The diary and Slytherin’s ring were destroyed, leaving Hufflepuff’s cup and something of Ravenclaw’s since Professor Dumbledore was certain that the Gryffindor relics were safe.
She didn’t see a cup anywhere on the pile. A glitter caught her attention as she searched. She stared hard at the glitter to see a jewel. Was that a tiara? Why would someone have thrown away a tiara? Her eyes widened as she realized that Rowena wore a tiara in her painting, though everyone called it a diadem since it did more than just look pretty. She studied around the diadem. How could she pull it out without collapsing the pile of junk? And how would she get back to the entrance? She was beginning to have a suspicion about the towers of junk. Would they topple if she grabbed the diadem? Supposedly Nitwit would have some way of pulling it out. But how would he have done it? She looked around again for a clue. Nothing presented itself or caught her attention.
That left only one option - magic. She flicked her wand to create a small barrier to hold the pile of junk in place. She took a few breaths. Nothing happened. Then she began a spell to gently pull the diadem from its hiding spot. Carefully she worked the spell. She didn’t want the pile to topple. She didn’t want to be trapped in magical junk for the rest of her life. She almost cursed when the diadem stuck. She paused to take a breath. “You’ve gotten this far,” she reprimanded herself. “Don’t force it.”
She made herself calm down and began once more. She didn’t know if it was because she calmed down or if it was a trap that she managed to bypass, but the diadem began moving towards her once more. She barely breathed by the time it rested in front of her. She began to reach for it but pulled her hand back at the last second. This was a Horcrux. What if there was still an enchantment on it to harm the seeker?
She waved her wand and a silk bag appeared. She opened it as wide as possible and let the diadem sink inside. She tied the strings tightly. She turned carefully and crept her way back along the path which seemed to be getting smaller. She didn’t remember the junk being this close to her on the way to the Horcrux. She wanted to pause when she saw the entrance. It had been an arduous journey back. But Ron was waving frantically for her to continue. She hurried as fast as she could and sighed with relief when she stepped over the boundary. She handed the bag to Ron as she started to slip to the floor with exhaustion.
He grabbed her and pulled her along. “No time for that now.”
“What?” Hermione was tired.
“Hurry,” Ron insisted. “I’ll explain when we’re safe.”
They passed through the entrance which annoyed Ron as he had to give more blood so the wall would open. He pushed Hermione as fast as she could walk. When they were outside the barn, he held tightly onto Hermione and Apparated them back to Godric’s Hollow to the ruined Potter’s home.
Hermione was surprised. “Ron?”
He pushed her inside, looking around outside before entering himself. “That was horrible!”
Ron put the bag down on a broken table. “That was horrible,” he repeated himself.
Hermione watched him aimlessly moving items around. She opened the special box she had prepared before they had gone to Bristol. She waved her wand. The diadem floated across the room into the box. She shut the lid and sealed it. When she looked back at Ron, he was sitting at the table, staring at nothing in particular. “Ron?”
“We need help.” Ron didn’t look at her. “If that’s what Professor Dumbledore and Harry faced, we definitely need help.”
“Would you mind telling me what you saw?” Hermione snapped. “I think I did pretty good getting out of there with the diadem, as you might have noticed.”
Ron shuddered at the reminder. He rubbed his face, “Never again.”
“Fine, if you’re just going to spout nonsense, I’m going to sleep.” Hermione left for her temporary room.
Ron stared at the empty room, “Never again. I don’t ever want to see piles of junk become living creatures reaching out for you, trying to destroy you.” He finally said in a whisper. He knew she didn’t hear him. But in one respect, she was right. He glanced at the box where a Horcrux now resided and with one more shudder went to his room.
Usually, Ron had no trouble sleeping. Tonight was different. He stared at the ceiling, willing sleep to come so he didn’t have to watch horrific images over and over again. Or see what could have happened. He knew he was right. They needed help. It was more a question of who could help them. Professor Dumbledore had trusted Harry who had trusted Hermione and him. Who could they trust with this precious secret?
It was very late when Ron finally fell asleep.
He watched Sirius talking with a House-elf. Though their mouths moved, there was no sound. Sirius shook his finger at the House-elf. He blinked. They were all in the drawing room, cleaning, sorting – or to be more accurate – throwing everything away. The House-elf kept sneaking into the room and looking in the bag. He blinked. In his hands was a locket, very much like the fake one Harry kept after Professor Dumbledore’s death. He tried opening it without success and passed it to Ginny who tried opening it. Sirius finally tossed it in the bag. (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, paraphrase of pages 109-117)
Ron opened his eyes and sat up in bed quickly. The missing locket! “Hermione!”
She appeared in his doorway. “What?” she demanded. She was still upset at him.
“I know where the locket is!” Ron watched her expression change from angry then puzzled to hopeful.
“Where is it?” Hermione asked, wondering if Harry hadn’t exaggerated the trouble they might have finding and destroying the Horcruxes.
“The locket,” Ron pointed out, “the one we couldn’t open!”
“You’re talking about the one at Headquarters?” Hermione shook her head. Her hope for an easy quest faded even while Ron nodded.
Hermione sat at the table, parchment spread about her as she worked on their next plan. Ron had tried helping. After several being told to be quiet several times, he read one of his comics on the couch. He wasn’t reading. He was thinking about who they could ask to join them. Who else would have the determination to bring down You-Know-Who?
“We need to go pretty soon.” Hermione interrupted his thoughts.
“Why?” Ron looked up from the multi-colored pages.
Hermione sighed in irritation. “Headquarters? Where Mundungus can steal what he wants whenever he wants?”
“Oh,” Ron considered, “How about today?”
Hermione shook her head. “We need to consider and make our plans.”
“What about tomorrow?” Ron asked.
Hermione shook her head again. “We’ll need to prepare.”
“Prepare for what?” Ron tossed the comic to the floor.
“I’d know if you would tell me.” Hermione snapped at him. The look on his face stopped her tirade. She hadn’t seen that expression on his face before. He was terrified, more terrified than dealing with spiders. That told her more than she needed to know. He also refused to talk about what he saw when the brain wrapped its tentacles around him.
Ron remained silent as he went back to his room and shut the door.
Hermione sighed softly. “This is going to be a long day.” He was right about one thing. They needed to find help. She looked at the enchanted box; the lure of putting the diadem on to solve intricate riddles grew. But Harry had warned them about touching the Horcruxes. He had pointed out Professor Dumbledore’s hand.
A/N: As always, I hope you have enjoyed this next chapter. Please let me know what you thought about this chapter, especially if you have constructive criticism! I am always looking for ways to improve my writing! Thank you very much!
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