Chapter 27 : The Philosopher's Tale
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Rabastan had escaped. ‘How could have I allowed this?’ Harry thought of Rabastan skipping down the hallway, using more of the Firewhisky and billywig sting fusion in order to free all of the Death Eaters who he had helped to capture. Everything he had helped to do would be undone. The thought sickened him. Harry desperately tried to move his hand, to wiggle a toe, but to no avail. His body would not respond. It was as if his mind had left his body long ago, having no control over it any longer. All he could do was lie there. With each second that passed, he knew the Azkaban guard was getting closer to his friends and that Rabastan and the rest of the Death Eaters would be in the clear, ready to capture Flamel for themselves. His sickening feeling was furthered by another thought; he was letting his parents down, unable to do what they had done years previously. Their deaths were directly related to Flamel and the Eye; his parents’ allegiance to the Order and their protection of the Eye were the very reasons that had caused Voldemort’s awareness of them in the first place. He could not even uphold his own parents’ legacy. Harry felt as if he wanted to cry out of pain and frustration. He was not even allowed to do that.
Sudden voices and footsteps perked his senses. He braced himself for the worst that seemed as if it was only seconds away. Was it the Death Eaters already? Was it the Azkaban security, already having captured his friends? Harry felt incredibly relieved when he realized that it was neither. Though he could not move a muscle, Harry felt like bursting in to the arms of Ron and Hermione.
‘Harry? What are you doing on the floor for?’ panted Ron.
‘He’s under the Body-Bind Curse? Oh no, what happened?’ cried Hermione.
‘Stand aside! Finite Incantatem,’ bellowed Aberforth, pointing Harry’s wand at his body.
Instantly, Harry felt as if a giant weight had been lifted off of him. He rose his head too quickly, the blood flowing to it causing a dizzying affect. Trying to pull himself up to his feet proved difficult. Noticing this, Ron helped him by pulling him up by the arms. Harry stumbled over and picked up the Elder Wand and Invisibility Cloak as guided by Aberforth. It was only now that Harry realized that the Polyjuice Potion had worn off; the image of Aberforth now stood beside Harry instead of the Head Auror, Mosteban.
‘What happened to your face, Harry?’ asked Ron. ‘Are you alright?’
‘Yeah, yeah I’m fine! But something’s happened – you’re not going to believe this but Rabastan has gotten out –’
‘WHAT? How in the world did he do that?’
‘We must have dropped the Firewhisky and billywig stings when he apprehended you! I can’t believe –’
‘There’s no time! Harry – a little help?’
Harry had no idea what Aberforth was referencing to but was enlightened to the fact by a jet of red sparks that whizzed by his head, crashing in to a cell in a burst behind him. There were at least a dozen Azkaban officials coming straight for them, Harry pushing both his friends to the side in order to shield them from the oncoming spells.
‘Expelliarmus! Stupefy! Impedimenta!’ he bellowed in succession.
Harry sent his curses into the mass that was quickly heading straight for them. Miraculously, each curse connected; the greater force and size of his spells had knocked nearly half of the security down. Harry glanced at the Elder Wand, feeling as if it was aiming on its own accord. His hand vibrated slightly as he clutched on to it.
‘Stupefy!’ added Aberforth, aiming a barrage of non-verbal hexes at the security.
‘I think we can get through! Follow me!’
Harry charged forward, shooting off a pair of Stunning Spells at two of the final Azkaban officials. Though he could barely see them, Harry was able to make out the incapacitated Azkaban guard scattered about the corridor. As Harry winced in pain, he locked eyes with one of the officials. He was on his bottom, shuffling backwards while feeling around for his wand. Harry halted, glancing at Ron, Hermione and Aberforth for a brief second. As he did so, he noticed the short, black haired witch who they had met in the front foyer, a recovered Bowles and the second dark cloaked wizard who had stood beside him upon their entrance in to Azkaban.
‘What’s wrong, Harry?’ asked Hermione desperately. Harry knew what he had to do, choosing to let his actions answer Hermione’s question rather than words.
‘OBLIVIATE!’ he bellowed.
He closed his eyes, having trust that the Elder Wand would do what he commanded. Reopening them, he saw that at least a dozen streaks of pale green (barely visible in the darkness) were streaming out from the Elder Wand’s tip to each of the debilitated security. With one final burst, the green light was extinguished. After a moment of silence, Harry heard a whispery, fearful voice.
‘Wh-Where am I? Who turned out the lights?’ and after a brief pause, ‘Better yet... who am I?’
All four of them resumed their pace. Their run was more of a brisk walk, Harry having to be aided by Ron for a moment as he felt as if his legs would give out on him. He breathed heavily as he trudged down the hallway, refusing to let the pain in his face, lungs and hands deter him.
‘I thought you had left...’ came the voice of Nicolas Flamel who was standing at the bars of his cell.
‘We should be in the clear now,’ answered Aberforth, pointing Harry’s wand around the corner just to make sure.
‘Right,’ muttered Harry, trying to focus on the task at hand as best he could. ‘Mr. Flamel – I need to know where the Eye is hidden right away. We have to prevent the Death Eaters from retrieving it.’
‘I know. Luckily, I’ve put some security measures around its secret hiding place,’ answered Flamel without hesitation. Harry felt his excitement increase.
‘And where is this place?’ he saw Aberforth glancing sideways at them, still focusing on the dark corridor. Ron and Hermione looked at Flamel, their mouths hanging open in anticipation.
‘Far... far away from here, I’m afraid. Listen closely... to get there, you need to apparate at a certain time –’
‘STUPEFY! THERE THEY ARE! AND THEY’VE GOT FLAMEL!’
A blast of concrete and rock exploded close to Harry’s face. All around them flashes of red light appeared out of the darkness. One spell hit Hermione, knocking her in to the cell, her head smashing off the bars.
‘HERMIONE!’ roared Ron.
Instinctively, Harry cast the Protection Charm around them. The Elder Wand’s charm cast a bubble encircling them, curses from all different directions bouncing off and flying carelessly and randomly in to the walls, lighting the room like a fantastic fireworks display.
‘Is she alright?’ asked Ron worriedly, cradling her bleeding head.
‘Just stunned, Ron!’ answered Aberforth. ‘She’s just knocked out!’
‘YOU CAN’T HIDE FOREVER, POTTER!’ came the voice of Rabastan, muffled by the protective enchantment.
Harry knew he was right. Even though he held the most powerful wand in the world, Harry knew the charm would not hold forever. As he thought this, he looked to see that the protective bubble was beginning to grow faint.
‘Protego!’ Harry called again. This time, the protective enchantment began to wear off immediately, the onslaught of spells courtesy of the escaped Death Eaters causing considerable damage.
‘How do we escape?’ asked Ron, still holding the unconscious Hermione.
‘We’ve got to think of something!’ added Aberforth, looking around for inspiration.
Harry acted without thinking. He aimed the Elder Wand at the cell bars, hoping for the best. When he reopened his eyes, a small section of the bars had been blown away.
‘H-How?’ Flamel looked utterly shocked. ‘The enchantments are the most advanced in the world! Impossible!’
The red stunning spells continued to crash in to the protective dome. Harry pulled Ron and Hermione inside the cell, Aberforth backing in as well as the enchantment had almost disintegrated.
‘This wasn’t part of the plan! Now we’re breaking out prisoners! YOU’RE MAD!’
‘We don’t have a choice! We can’t let them get their hands on Flamel!’ shouted Harry. ‘Protego!’ he yelled yet again. This time the enchantment barely seemed to gain any strength.
Looking out in to the corridor, Harry could not make out a single Death Eater. They knew of the weapon that Harry held in his very hand and were wise to use the Kiss Quarters’ oval-like shape to their advantage, taking cover as best they could. Even with the Elder Wand, defeating all of the Death Eaters with only two wands would be nearly impossible.
‘We’ve got to try! It’s the only way out, remember?! We’ve got to try to defeat them!’
‘It’s a death sentence!’ roared back Aberforth. Harry could tell that he was on board with Harry’s plan, futile as it might seem. ‘Get Ron, Hermione and Flamel as far away from them as you can!’
‘Might as well give it a try...’ muttered Harry as he saw the protective enchantment almost entirely dissolved. ‘Accio wands!’
‘Are you ready?’ asked Aberforth to which Harry nodded. Staring out in to the hallway, Harry could see that the stream of spells and hexes had not stopped. Harry felt as if he was about to vomit. He flinched as a red Stunning Spell hit the part of the protective charm that was right in front of his face.
‘Harry... I don’t pretend to have known your parents well. But from what I knew of them, they were brilliant, loving people,’ spoke Nicolas Flamel suddenly and quickly from behind him. Harry turned slightly. He was taken aback by Flamel’s sudden seriousness. ‘I know you are in the same position right now as we speak. Trusting someone you barely know... But I am asking you to trust me. Trust me as I trusted them. Can you do that? Please?’
There was something about Nicolas Flamel that was calming in that moment of peril. His eyes momentarily locked on to Harry’s, an innate connection forming between the two even if just for the briefest of moments. Harry nodded to which Flamel closed his eyes. He felt as if trusting Flamel at this moment was the right thing to do.
‘Then I need you to use that wand – over there...’
Flamel pointed to the back of his cell. Harry could see nothing but the back of its tiny interior. Wordlessly, Harry understood Flamel.
‘Harry!? What are you doing?!’
Harry ignored Ron as he aimed the Elder Wand at the back wall of the cell, focusing greatly. He only hoped that the power and strength of the Elder Wand would continue to save him when he and his friends needed it most.
Wet air met Harry’s face as he blew away a large hole in the concrete. Through squinted eyes, he saw it fall to the rocks and ocean below. Half-turning, he was horrified to see that a group of Death Eaters had encompassed the outside of the cell, waiting for Harry’s powerful protective enchantment to cease.
‘I think I have enough strength left!’ bellowed Flamel over the howling wind that rushed in to the prison cell. ‘Grab my arm!’
‘But... but you don’t mean... we’re going to apparate?!’ asked Ron fearfully, cradling Hermione’s head. Aberforth ignored Ron, already knowing exactly what Flamel had meant.
‘But Nicolas!’ protested Aberforth, the wind blowing his long beard about, ‘even though Harry’s wand can overcome the security measures, WE can’t!’
‘Harry...’ implored Flamel.
‘It’s alright, Aberforth!’ shouted Harry. ‘Trust me.’
‘I’d like to but you’re making it quite hard for me to do so! We will be done for if we leave this place from here – no human can exit the enchantments without severe... severe repercussions!’
‘Then that’s a risk we’re going to have to take! Our lives depend on it. You’ve got to trust me!’
Aberforth shook his head, reluctantly yet forcefully grabbing Flamel’s arm as he helped Ron and the stirring Hermione to her feet. Something was poking Harry in the back; it was the wands of Aberforth, Ron and Hermione, hovering right in front of his eyes. The Summoning Charm had miraculously worked. Harry hastily stuffed them in his pocket, the Death Eaters screeching and hollering after them from outside the diminishing protective spell.
‘On three... we jump.’
Harry closed his eyes, hoping that Flamel was right.
‘One...’ he began.
Harry did not know what to expect. There was a reason why no one had ever simply apparated out of Azkaban before. He could hear the group of Death Eaters mere inches away from them. He peered out over the edge, the wet, cold wind ruffling his hair. The rocks and ocean was a long way down.
‘IT’S DOWN! GET THEM!’
Harry felt hard ground leave him as he leapt in to the wet wind, Ron, Hermione and Aberforth following him, their arms locked. A spell crashed in to the concrete just inches away from his head as he leapt out of the cell. He clutched on to Flamel behind him as he felt himself fall, surrounded by the harsh wind and rain. There was no stopping himself now. Harry felt weightless as the jagged rocks were getting closer and closer to him and his friends, his eyes barely open, the wind disabling his senses as he fell towards earth. He clung to Flamel tightly as the wind whipped by his face, hoping this was not the end...
It took a split second. Harry felt his very existence being tugged away from his reality by an unseen and invisible hook. As he fell, his surroundings became white, the rocks and ocean disappearing from his obstructed view. For a moment, Harry felt like he was travelling a great distance, his vision full of empty whiteness.
Then, slowly at first but accelerating by the second, a sharp pain shot up his legs all the way up to his brain. He felt like was under a torture curse, Harry screaming out in pain yet being unable to hear himself. He reached up to grab his head, unable to see, hear or even think. All that he knew was the great pain; in that moment it embodied his very being. His insides felt as if they were being squeezed out of him, his mind feeling as if it was going to explode in the pain.
Harry’s own muffled scream met his ears. His eyes registered blades of grass that were moving by his eyes, a distant light growing closer and closer. There was nothing that Harry could feel through the mind-splitting, pulsating pain. As his eyes adjusted to his new surroundings, he could see that he was somehow being dragged closer to the bright light, a door that stood open letting the light out. As the grass ended and the light swallowed him, Harry could make out other screams in pain coming from somewhere close. He could not breath properly, panting sporadically. His entire existence was faint, only deciphering a few objects around him, the rest a blur.
He was going to die. Harry felt that at any second, he would lose consciousness. He tried moving his arms or legs but could not. He screamed for help, not knowing how much longer he could hang on with the intense pain enveloping his body. His skin felt as if it was on fire, his eyes slowly closing as Harry bowed to the pain, not able to fight it off any longer.
Though he could not feel it, something propped up his head jerkily, his vision changing to a dark figure kneeled in front of him. Something stung his throat a second later, mildly at first. Again, Harry felt the stinging sensation encase his throat and his insides, some of it tingling his cheeks. The stinging sensation’s presence slowly made its way throughout Harry’s body, rejuvenating and giving it feeling once more. Miraculously, Harry felt the pain being pushed away, the stinging feeling reducing the mind-numbing pain until it was virtually gone. As the pain melted away, Harry’s entire body tingled.
He felt his head rest on hard ground once more. Lifting one of his arms, Harry considered it, his limbs feeling as if they had fallen asleep and they were just now waking. His eyes were now able to make out shapes in the room, Harry noticing that to his left there stood a roaring fireplace that enlightened the small room. The pace of his breath resumed a more normal one. Harry felt the strength in his body slowly come back to him as he achingly sat up and adjusted his glasses in order to better take in his surroundings.
The first thing he noticed was the shelf that lined the entire perimeter of the room only a foot or so away from the ceiling. The shelves were holding glittering objects that to Harry’s astonishment all seemed to be made out of gold. The golden plates, trophies, cutlery, photo frames, lamps and other assorted objects that lined the shelves seemed to sparkle in the flickering light of the fire. A rather large, prominently placed trophy caught Harry’s eye; it took a moment or two to finally decipher what the scripture on the trophy’s plaque actually read.
The Alchemy Lifetime Achievement Award
Is proudly presented to:
There were two, great, big, red armchairs situated by the fire, a small side table sitting between them. A small grouping of framed photos occupied the table, one featuring a happy Nicolas Flamel with an unidentified (and equally as joyful) older lady. Behind the chairs stood a matching yet slightly larger side table, a circular case of memory vials taking up its entire surface area. A mirror perched over a tiny counter top, a tattered looking couch pushed up against the wall beside the fireplace and a set of stairs leading to somewhere up above completed the modest room.
‘Look here,’ Harry heard from close-by, making him jump.
The voice of Nicolas Flamel seemed much louder than the whisper in which he had spoken in. It was as if Harry was hearing for the very first time all over again. He looked in to Flamel’s eyes; his returning gaze was one of focus, Flamel’s eyes moving about rapidly as if he was keeping track of a buzzing fly.
‘You should be fine,’ he muttered, shuffling over to Ron who Harry had noticed was only feet away from him in the same position.
‘Wh...’ Harry felt his voice crack as he spoke, clearing his throat before finishing his question. ‘What happened?’
‘I assume... those were the effects of the numerous enchantments of Azkaban,’ Harry heard Aberforth say groggily.
As he looked around further, Harry was relieved to see that Hermione was fully conscious as she sat in one of the armchairs. Aberforth had flipped the couch over and was sitting on the arm while Harry and Ron scuffled over towards the carpet in front of the fireplace and the chairs. The touch of the fire instantly warmed Harry. The coldness of Azkaban soon began melting away, the fire calming and restoring his energy. Harry felt his lungs and insides fill with warmth, making his experience inside the cold, unforgiving Azkaban feel like a distant memory.
‘They were indeed,’ answered Flamel who slowly sat in one of the other armchairs. ‘What all of you felt was the consequence of our apparation. Anyone who apparates from Azkaban... ultimately dies the most painful of deaths imaginable. I’m sorry you had to go through that.’
‘Not that I’m complaining,’ started Ron, his voice hoarse, ‘but how are we... still alive?’
Flamel bowed his head, the crackling of the fire momentarily acting as the only source of sound. Finally, he looked up, the fire making his features glow.
‘I asked you to trust me... because I knew I could save you all from the disastrous effects of the Azkaban curses that otherwise would have killed you. All of you have ingested a dosage of one of my finest creations, without which, we would all be dead. And without which, our world would be facing total, complete destruction. I am talking... of course... of the Philosopher’s Stone.’
‘Bloody hell!’ Ron’s surprise beat everyone else to the punch. ‘Does that mean I’m immortal?’
‘No Ron, it does not,’ answered Flamel without even the hint of humor. ‘The Stone’s powers were focused on the threat on your life. Overriding Azkaban’s curse took all of its strength to defeat. It has saved your life. You will feel no ill effects of the curses that have touched you.’
‘But... Mr. Flamel,’ began Harry slowly. ‘I thought... I thought you had destroyed the stone. After my first year... Dumbledore – Albus Dumbledore told me that you two had talked... decided to destroy it after you realized its dangers.’
Again, Flamel sat still, wearing a face full of guilt. He looked up like a child who knew they had done something wrong. His eyes were full of embarrassment and shame. He clutched at his short beard sheepishly as he glanced around at his onlookers.
‘I-I... I wanted to do it! I meant to... I just couldn’t... couldn’t bring myself to do it. I haven’t used it for personal gain in years ever since Perenelle...well... it’s not something I’m proud of... and now... I’m paying the price for my own foolishness...’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Hermione comfortingly.
Flamel’s eyes were forming tears. Harry glanced at Aberforth who looked at Flamel with pity and sorrow.
‘Stolen,’ was the only word that Flamel could bring himself to say.
‘It’s stolen?! Someone has taken it?!’ asked Harry, feeling his stomach sink. Flamel only nodded, pausing before a rush of speech escaped his mouth.
‘How could I be so careless?! I’ll never forgive myself if I have contributed to all the evil in this world! Why couldn’t I just destroy it like Albus had said we should?! I’ve tried looking for it for months now and... nothing! My leads have led me nowhere! It’s disappeared! That batch that I used to save your lives was some of the last extract from the Stone that I have!’
Flamel’s face was contorted in his upset rage. Harry glanced over at Ron who wore a blank expression as he listened to Flamel’s cry. Hermione placed her arm over the old man which seemed to calm him down some.
‘We can get the Order on the case,’ spoke Aberforth delicately. ‘We have some of the brightest, most powerful and trusted witches and wizards in the world in our organization. Together, we can get it back.’
Flamel looked up appreciatively. Though Harry knew that a missing Philosopher’s Stone was something to be greatly concerned about, he also knew that at that very moment, it was not his greatest concern. Refocusing, Harry tried to turn the conversation to something more prudent to their current task.
‘Mr. Flamel,’ he began softly, ‘thank you for getting us out of there alive. We could have never done it without you and we are all so thankful for – hold on... How come you were able to apparate out of Azkaban then? You couldn’t possibly have retrieved the Stone’s antidote and saved us if you were in the same condition as we were.’
‘That, my boy, is because of years of administering the Philosopher’s Stone’s elixir to myself. I am impervious to many effects, including those of Azkaban.’
‘Then... you could have apparated away from Azkaban any time that you liked! You could have left – but why didn’t you?’ asked Hermione perplexingly.
‘Indeed you are right. Before I answer that question, I believe you must know of why I was in Azkaban in the first place.’
‘The Prophet said you killed those three men,’ interjected Ron.
‘But you didn’t. Did you?’ asked Harry. Flamel looked at Harry and spoke matter-of-factly.
‘Actually, I did. But not in the traditional way as you might think.’ Flamel’s response dumbfounded Harry. ‘The three men who were killed were actually three, recently admitted Death Eaters. After the Philosopher’s Stone was stolen from my home, I knew – based on past thirst for it – that the Death Eaters had to be involved somehow. There were these three suspicious looking wizards who I had seen before snooping around my neighborhood, always taking notice of me in the streets and such. I suspected they were affiliated with the Death Eaters. I decided to track them down one night with the intention of drugging them with Veritaserum and discovering the whereabouts of the Stone. However... sometimes an old man’s mind works faster than his body. It was not a good idea.’
‘What happened?’ asked Ron.
‘They caught me outside this little Muggle bath shop before I could do a single thing. The three of them were waiting for me – goading me the entire time in to confronting them. They questioned me about the Eye and its whereabouts. They took my wand... roughed me up in a back alleyway. At first I didn’t disclose anything, but after a while, I decided to play their own greed against them. Being new recruits for the Death Eaters, I could tell that they were pretty keen on getting the Eye of the Posterus for themselves so that they could be the ones to give it to their masters and hopefully, rise up the ranks... separate themselves from one another. I told them the Eye was at my home. We apparated there together and along the way, I planted the seeds in their minds that would eventually lead to their deaths. To each one – individually – I told them of the prestige their names would get inside the Death Eaters if they were the ones to get the Eye. It effected each one of them greatly. They began to silently plot against each other – I even gave one of them a vial of Moonseed poison to which they were greatly enamored with.’
‘Stupid gits,’ muttered Ron under his breath.
‘The one slipped a bit of that poison in to the two other Death Eater’s mead that they took upon arrival at my home. The two drank while I pretended to retrieve the Eye for them, but as I was looking, one of the two Death Eaters killed the first one using my wand. I looked around to see that the one who had poisoned their mugs was now laying dead on my floor. The two remaining Death Eaters had conspired together. They shouted at me to keep looking as they noticed me watching. In seconds, the poison’s effects were felt by each of them. In minutes they were dead. Before I could do anything, I heard someone coming. It was a good thing that I hid and ultimately apparated because it was two members of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad who had been notified of the Killing Curse. My home as well as the homes of my associates, as you know, carries an advanced security system in which any curse of substantial power automatically sets off an alarm. I was on the run. The rest... I’m sure you know through the Prophet. So you see... I did kill them. Just not by my own hand – by my mind. They did the rest themselves.’
‘But where did you go?’ asked Harry.
‘I had to run. In the minds of the Ministry, I was guilty. It was my wand that had administered the Killing Curse and the three Death Eaters were unrecognizable to Law Enforcement – they had no idea who they actually were and what their affiliation was! Because of their newness to the Death Eaters, they had never before been encountered and labeled as such! I knew that I had to retrieve the Philosopher’s Stone, but without a wand... I knew I was done for. When I learned of my housekeeper... dear old Miss Gibbons... when I heard of her murder – I was heartbroken! Because I knew it was my fault. The Death Eaters had no idea where I was and they wanted to know the location of the Eye. They thought Miss Gibbons would know... and killed her when she did not... For months I tried my best to gain information about where the Stone was but alas... I was unsuccessful.’
‘How were you caught?’
‘I gave myself up. I sat myself down in a pub and literally walked in to one of your Aurors,’ Flamel said grinning. ‘I had enough. I wasn’t getting anywhere and I figured that as long as I was in Azkaban, the Death Eaters couldn’t touch me. I felt as if they were closing in on my whereabouts – too many close calls with them over the last few weeks before my capture. Plus... the Ministry as a whole is something that I have not trusted in a long while. If I tried to plead my case to them and attempt to prove I was innocent... well, being associated with something as corrupt as the Ministry and possibly revealing information to someone without the purest of intentions was something I could not risk. There are only a select few who I would trust with the location and the knowledge of the Eye. As well... I knew that if you, Harry, knew where I was – secure away from all the evil in the world – it may be possible for me to relay some very important information to you... I’ve led a long life – much longer than most. Spending my last years in Azkaban so that I can conceal information about the Eye from the Death Eaters? It seemed well worth it. That’s why I never escaped myself in my time there. If I did escape, in time, I would surely be caught by the Death Eaters and then both the Philosopher’s Stone and the Eye of the Posterus would be in their control. That reality would be... devastating to us all.’
‘It was you who had sent us those memories... wasn’t it? You were given them by Severus Snape... before he died,’ asked Harry softly, grinning as the mystery of the memories had finally been solved. Flamel looked at Harry confused.
‘Memories? Whose memories?’
Harry looked to his two friends – their faces told Harry that they too felt sure that Flamel was the one who had been secretly communicating with them all year.
‘You... You never sent us my mother’s memories? With the secret messages attached to them?’
‘I assure you I have never sent you anything before now. It would be too risky for me to do so. I trusted that you or someone in the Order would come to me, in time so that together... we could thwart the Death Eater’s plans.’
‘Oh,’ muttered Harry to himself, confused.
‘I do also want to apologize for putting you through that traumatizing event – jumping out of Azkaban fifty stories up,’ said Flamel as he shifted in his seat. ‘It had to be done though.’
‘I think I know why,’ began Hermione, Flamel offering his hand which prompted Hermione to answer. ‘The protective enchantments of Azkaban... would be more powerful on the inside than the outside. By apparating while in mid-air away from the prison’s interior... the effects of the curses could be less severe.’
‘Exactly. Still damaging enough to kill oneself, yet maybe not as quick in doing so. When it is lives on the line, even seconds could mean a world of difference.’
‘I still can’t believe he got out,’ whispered Harry as he thought of Rabastan and the rest of the Death Eaters who had escaped. ‘I had to wipe out the memories of all those Azkaban guards or else they would know we were there and what we had done! But now, I’ve given the Death Eaters an easy escape route away from the place!’
‘It’s all my fault!’ cried Hermione. ‘If I just wasn’t so clumsy, the billywig infused Firewhisky would not have fallen out of my pocket and he never would have escaped! None of them would have!’
‘Don’t beat yourself up about it, Hermione,’ comforted Ron softly.
‘The important thing is that we make sure the Eye is safely away from the Death Eaters – that’s what we risked our lives to make sure of,’ assured Aberforth. ‘We can only do what we ourselves control. There’s no reason to go back and relive the past. What’s done is done. At least our tracks are concealed. As far as the workers of Azkaban are concerned, we never even stepped a foot in that place tonight.’ Harry nodded shortly as he looked at his two friends.
‘When I created the Eye of the Posterus over one hundred years ago... I had no idea of the potential danger it could bring,’ spoke Flamel suddenly in a self-reflexive way. For a moment, Flamel seemed to speak inwardly, not registering that he was in the company of four others. ‘I didn’t know any of it. I’ve been... foolish and brilliant all at the same time.’
‘Mr. Flamel,’ posed Harry softly. ‘Where have you placed it?’
The fire crackled as one of the enflamed logs shifted sending up a small rupture of embers. The deep lines in Flamel’s face shone through his hand as he rubbed his forehead, his bluish-grey eyes receding to endless black pools of regret as he stared out in to the roaring fire.
‘I’ve hidden it, my boy,’ he spoke softly. ‘Away from the world so that hopefully, its powers can remained untapped. But...’
‘But... what, sir?’ asked Harry whisperingly after a few moments of silence.
‘I think... that the Death Eaters might know where the Eye is hidden after all.’
‘Are you saying that they have it?!’ asked Ron loudly. Flamel shook his head as he continued to stare in to the fire.
‘What do you mean?’ Aberforth asked directly. Flamel exhaled.
‘Before they killed Miss Gibbons many months ago,’ he began methodically, ‘they Death Eaters began stalking her in very much the same manner as they did to me. Due to my decreasing health and deterioration after not using the Philosopher’s Stone, Miss Gibbons was kind enough to pay monthly visits to the secret location of the Eye of the Posterus. Why? To recast the many complex enchantments used to protect it. The area in which it is hidden – a vast area to boot – requires the enchantments to be strengthened every month in order to maintain its secrecy. This is extraordinarily complex magic, you see. I’m very grateful that Miss Gibbons was able to learn of its extravagance – without her, the Eye’s location would surely have been revealed by now.’
‘Anyway,’ continued Flamel, ‘it was during one of Miss Gibbons’ travels to the location of the Eye that the Death Eaters had unfortunately been following her. As instructed by myself, she arrived in Derbyshire first before she would apparate away to Chrome Hill – the resting place of the Eye. This was done to ward off any intruders that may be spying on her. Still, even though the Death Eaters did not have the exact knowledge of the Eye’s location, they knew of the general area before she apparated away. Months later when I had recuperated, I travelled to Chrome Hill in order to re-administer the enchantments and what I found there was completely shocking. A pair of Death Eaters – Rodolphous Lestrange included – stood at the base of Chrome Hill, looking up at its grandness. After months of searching through Derbyshire and its general area, they had miraculously come to its exact location of Chrome Hill. I seem to remember one such visit to the Eye’s resting place... After exiting the chamber which I had created, I had the feeling that I was being watched. They must have been scouting out possible locations around Derbyshire; my presence outside Chrome Hill... had given away the location of the Eye.’
‘Then... how come they didn’t ambush you? Or at least followed you to the Eye’s resting place?’ asked Harry confused.
‘Because to any onlooker who does not know the secret of my enchantments, it would have looked as if I had simply appeared out of the hill itself – that’s why they couldn’t follow me. Once I thought I was being watched, I quickly apparated away before anyone could ambush me. They must have been dumbfounded – me suddenly appearing... standing alongside the bottom of Chrome Hill when a moment earlier... I was nowhere to be seen...’
‘Wait a minute!’ interrupted Harry suddenly, ‘remember when Gawain Robards told us of the two Imperiused smugglers who had stolen books from the Auror’s Library for the Death Eaters?’ Ron nodded, vaguely remembering the morning of New Year’s Day before they had visited the Longbottoms. ‘One of the books they had stolen was on Britain’s mountain ranges! Another was on famous witch and wizards which they could have used to gain information on you,’ Harry paused pointing at Flamel.
‘And one was on dark and complex magic, I remember!’ chimed in Hermione. ‘Once they knew of its location but were unable to access its exact location, the Death Eaters knew that there was something they were missing. They knew that the Auror’s Library contained one-of-a-kind books full of revealing information. These books held the information that would reveal the secret to Chrome Hill – or so they thought.’
‘Or so they thought, indeed. That appears to be all true and very convincing,’ added Flamel quietly, Harry and Hermione turning back to him after their moment of understanding. ‘Except for one small part. The Eye is not hidden inside Chrome Hill but rather at its base. Underneath an invisible lake of my making.’
Harry looked across at Aberforth who sat unmoving apart from his fingers stroking his chin. No one spoke for a few moments as they tried to wrap their heads around what Flamel was saying, but to no avail.
‘When I said it was powerful, extraordinary magic... I was not exaggerating in the least,’ Flamel spoke with the smallest of smiles.
‘H-How... er... how do you know where the lake is then?’ managed Harry. ‘If it’s invisible?’
A slow rumbling of thunder could be heard in the distance. Amidst the crackling of the fireplace, a fleeting pattering of rain could be heard on the tiny window pane beside the door.
‘Well... invisible is not entirely true – let me amend that statement. It is invisible to all those who do not know of its great secret. You see,’ Flamel shifted in his seat, taking his eyes away from the fire for the first time in minutes, ‘only those who travel to Chrome Hill on the correct day at the correct time and stand on precisely the correct spot... will be able to see the lake. The chamber itself is twenty feet below the surface.’
‘So when you exited the chamber,’ began Hermione slowly, trying to understand everything Flamel was saying, ‘any Death Eater that had been watching you would have seen you simply... appear?’
‘Because from their vantage point... the lake does not exist, exactly,’ finished Flamel. ‘Though I dare say... it is only a matter of time before the Death Eaters eventually discover its secret. Ever since I noticed them, I have not dared to go back in fear of them noticing me. It would be useless anyway, seeing as how I do not own a wand – I wouldn’t be able to recast the enchantments even if I could go back there unnoticed. Because of this, the enchantments’ effects have greatly diminished – soon, the lake may be permanently visible if one is to visit on the correct day, no matter their vantage point. Soon – if not already – it is very possible that they will retrieve the Eye.’
‘You really think they have it already?’ asked Harry with shock. He thought back to their improbable mission inside Azkaban and how upsetting it would be if their dangerous endeavor was all for not.
‘I have no way of knowing, but I will assume not. Judging from their efforts to abduct me just minutes ago, it appears as if they still have not discovered the secret of Chrome Hill. However... tonight might be the night when that secret is revealed...’
‘What do you mean?’ implored Aberforth forcefully.
‘Because the one time of month when the lake will appear... it happens in less than one hour. It is very possible that it will appear in full, no matter where one stands around the perimeter of Chrome Hill.’ Harry raised his eyebrows at Ron who worryingly looked back at Harry. Another burst of thunder met Harry’s ears, the pattering of the rain increasing its frequency.
‘Whenever I had visited Chrome Hill over the past months ever since Miss Gibbons had been followed I have seen strange men – surely Death Eaters – inhabiting the area around the hill... waiting for something to happen. There is a good chance they will finally discover the lake tonight.’
‘Then we’ve got to do something! We’ve got to get it before they do!’ said Harry. His head hurt as he stood up too quickly, grabbing on to the mantle to right himself as his dizziness dissipated.
‘We can’t fight off the entire ranks of the Death Eaters, Harry!’ retaliated Aberforth. ‘If what Flamel says is true, they will be waiting there right now! Rabastan and his group of Azkaban escapees will surely travel to Chrome Hill as well, knowing that we have Flamel! It’s just too dangerous!’
‘Then let’s get the Order on it then! I’m not going to sit here and wait for the Death Eaters to retrieve the Eye for their own personal use!’ retorted Harry angrily. ‘Do you know the power that they would have with the ability to see in to the future? Let alone the past and even the present? How could we ever match-up to them with that sort of knowledge being available?’ Aberforth seemed to realize Harry’s point.
‘I’ll round them up then – whoever is available. Don’t leave this house, alright Harry? Ron? Hermione? I’ll be quick!’ shot back Aberforth without hesitation, knowing that Harry was right.
Aberforth too took a moment to regain his bearings upon standing. Without looking back, Aberforth burst out the door and apparated, the noise of the falling rain drowning out the small popping sound that signaled Aberforth’s departure. The door closed behind him softly.
‘Are you two alright to move?’ asked Harry to his friends who both nodded in fatigued readiness.
Hermione had conjured up a wet cloth which she used to dispose of the dried blood that had stained her left temple. No one spoke for a few moments. Flamel sat in silence, eerily staring out in to the fire, trance-like.
‘Mr. Flamel? Are you alright?’ asked Hermione delicately. Flamel gave no suggestion that he had heard Hermione. When he spoke, his voice was barely over a whisper, yet clear all the same.
‘Is... Is that really what you believe the Eye of the Posterus is capable of Harry? Is that really all you think it can do, my boy?’
Flamel looked over at Harry with an expression Harry had never seen in Flamel thus far. His eyebrows were raised, his eyes tearing up, his face one of pure horror and shock all mixed together. Harry felt uneasy as the alchemist addressed him.
‘When the power of the Eye is fused with both the Philosopher’s Stone and the Resurrection Stone – one of the Deathly Hallows – a magical bond unites the three magical stones. Brilliant, dangerous, unforeseen things have occurred when these three stones have come in to contact with one another. When Dumbledore had allowed me to examine the Resurrection stone after he had found it inside that ring... the only time I have had in my possession, the Eye, the Philosopher’s Stone and the Resurrection stone... something miraculous happened. The Eye of the Posterus... the Philosopher’s Stone... they flew across the room and joined together with the Resurrection Stone that I held in my hand as I looked down at my deceased Perenelle. My wife... My wife Perenelle... she rose. She rose from the dead and stared me straight in the eyes – the very same way in which I am staring in yours now! Somehow – someway... the three stones... revived her! I don’t know how they did... but they did! Their extraordinary magical powers... when combined and connected... made the impossible... possible!’
Hermione’s eyes widened as she looked at Harry speechlessly. Harry felt confused yet a sinking feeling began to occupy his insides with each second that passed. He opened his mouth to respond but nothing came out. It was on his third attempt at speech that Harry was finally able to form words.
‘But... what does it mean? I don’t seem to understand what you mean.’
The old man shook his head slightly, leaning forward in his tattered armchair, his face illuminated by the sputtering fire. He leaned in close, barely speaking over a whisper – a whisper that chilled Harry’s bones to their very core.
‘Boy… if you don’t stop them tonight… this could mean the return of Lord Voldemort.’
Lightning illuminated the room through the window. After a pause, a massive burst of thunder nearly shook the house itself, one of Flamel’s picture frames falling off the side table as the thunder continued for a solid minute. Hermione looked perplexed as she looked around the house to see many of the golden trophies and other artifacts shake on the shelves.
‘That’s not thunder,’ she muttered to Harry and Ron. Flamel looked down in to his lap, only raising his head to speak after a moment or two.
‘I feared this might happen. You see... the Death Eaters know of this house as well. Seeing as how they know that you helped me escape, I had the feeling they might trace us back here. It seems as if that is exactly what they have done...’
Harry instinctively drew the Elder Wand and ran over to the tiny window. Peering out through it, he was horrified to see a group of dark cloaked figures walking towards the house in the distance, their faces hidden by the downpour and the dark skies. Harry heard Flamel speak from behind him.
‘We need to leave this place – now!’
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