Chapter 31 One Down...
Um seemed to sum it up, Draco thought. They were in the middle of a forest, at about midnight, and the Golden trio (duet?) were nowhere to be seen.
"Did anyone bother to figure out how bit the forest of Dean was? I mean, they could be anywhere…" Draco trailed off.
"And if they're smart, they'll have wards up, and they won't be visible anyways," Fred commented.
"Well, we'll just have to walk around a bit. It'd be stupid to yell, though I think that would probably be the most effective way of finding them."
Draco automatically rolled his eyes at George's comment. "I suppose I should be relieved that you realized it was a stupid idea, and decided that even though you did have the idea, it was a bad one. "
"Well, I suppose that comes from spending time with you, " George replied.
"What, that some of my thinking skills are rubbing off?"
"Oh shut it you two. Lets start walking. If it were me, even if there were wards, I would have someone keeping watch, and we might get lucky and get spotted."
"As long as we're not spotted by the wrong sort…" Draco muttered.
Shoving his hands deep into his coat pockets, he silently wished that he had thought to wear gloves, but took comfort in the feeling of his wand.
The trio marched into the night, unaware that more than one person was watching them.
Harry was cold and miserable, and feeling rather depressed that his wand had been snapped. The one thing he could say was a real defense against Voldemort, and it was gone.
He let out a drawn out sigh, and then smiled lightly as the sound of snoring wafted through the tent doorway. Hermione would be appalled if she knew that she made such a noise while sleeping.
Cupping his hands in front of his mouth, he breathed into them to get some warmth circulating through his fingers.
"I wish I had brought gloves!"
Harry froze, hands still in front of his mouth. He was pretty sure he hadn't just imagined that voice, even if he had been thinking the same thing.
Standing slowly, wincing a bit as the circulation started in his legs again, he gripped Hermione's borrowed wand in his hand and crept forward. The moonlight provided enough to see with, but he cast a lumos charm anyways.
"Well, it is Christmas Eve, or by now, Christmas Day. It wasn't like we were going to be looking for them on a beach or anything."
Harry froze, suddenly recognizing the voices.
Speeding up a bit, he saw the boundary where the wards ended, and stared at the sight in front of him.
Fred and George Weasley, along with one Draco Malfoy, were trudging through the forest. Malfoy had his hands shoved into his pockets, and Fred had his wand out, light coming from a coyote? patronus that was trotting through the snow in front of him. As he watched, George pulled his wand out and after a whispered "Expecto Patronum a hyena joined it.
Harry felt himself grinning. He had never found out if the twins had mastered that spell, and it gave him a sense of pride in knowing that he had been the first person to teach them.
Then, to Harry's utter surprise and shock, a fox patronus joined the other two, and the coyote and fox started to chase each other around in circles while the heyna sat back on it's haunches and looked like it was laughing.
Seeing the smirk on Malfoy's face, Harry had no doubt on where the last patronus had come from, and it made Harry realize, that Draco Malfoy really was on their side. He had known it of course, but after six years of rivalry, it was hard to really trust the other one.
But Harry was pretty sure that Death Eaters couldn't form a patronus.
As the three of them continued walking away, Harry hesitated only a moment, and then after taking a deep breath, he walked out of the wards.
Fred jumped and whirled around, his coyote patronus dissipating as he pointed his wand at the source of the voice. Beside him, he noticed that George and Draco were doing the same thing.
In front of them, hands held up in a placating way, stood Harry Potter.
Fred's eyes narrowed. "What exactly took place when George and I stopped you from going to Hogsmeade in the winter of third year?"
Harry raised an eyebrow, but said, "I was trying to sneak out under my invisibility cloak, but you and George stopped me, and instead gave me the Marauder's map, to which you opened it by saying 'I solemnly swear I am up to no good.'"
Fred heard Draco snort at that, but Fred allowed the relief to course through him, and he walked forward, pulling Harry into a half hug.
After greetings were exchanged, Harry and Draco both looking at each other warily, George piped up.
"Where are the others? Is Ron really gone?"
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Hermione is sleeping-I had the watch-and Ron is off…somewhere…" As he said it, he looked slightly angry, and Fred wondered at that.
"What did he do?"
Harry looked a little uncomfortable. "Well we had this cursed object, see, and we were taking turns hanging onto it, and it was his turn, and we got into an argument, and he just left. "
Fred felt himself getting angry. Sometimes Ron really was a git.
"Well, we're here now. And we actually have something for you. Can we, well, go someplace a little more secure?"
Harry nodded. "Hang on a moment, I have to let the wards let you in."
After a few murmured spells, Harry gestured for them to follow them, and Fred felt the tell tale tingle of the magic as the passed into the "safe zone."
"So, I do have quite a few questions, but I'd like to wake Hermione, so you don't have to repeat everything, which I'm pretty sure she'd have to have every little detail."
The three waited patiently outside the tent, one that Fred figured was magically enhanced on the inside, and after some conversation they couldn't really hear, Hermione followed Harry out, blanket wrapped around herself, but looking wide awake.
"Hi guys!" she exclaimed, and jumped forward, dropping her blanket, and giving each of the twins a hug. After hesitating for a moment, she surprised everyone there and gave Draco a quick hug.
After an awkward silence, Fred cleared his throat, and said, "Well, Merry Christmas guys, and here is our gift to you."
Fred, who had been holding the sword under the folds of his robe, grateful now that Hermione hadn't impaled herself, pulled it out for the others to see.
"Wha-how-when-?!" Hermione looked like a fish out of water as her mouth opened and closed. "That's the sword of Gryffindor! How did you get it? How did you know we needed it?"
"Uh, yeah. Love to tell you, but let's just say that you weren't the only one who got a special assignment from Dumbledore, and we can unfortunately not tell you the answer to those questions."
"Wait. Dumbledore gave you a job?" Harry looked at them in disbelief, his gaze resting on Draco the longest.
"You said that we weren't the only ones who got a 'special assignment' from Dumbldore." Hermione narrowed her eyes at them. "You don't know about…" she trailed off.
"The horcruxes?" Draco piped up.
This time, both of them gaped at him.
"We know, which is why we brought you this. It's supposed to-"
"-be able to kill or destroy a horcrux, we did figure that out," Hermione said, finishing George's statement.
"Okaaaay..." George finished.
"Well, what are you waiting for? I'm assuming that that cursed object that Weasel had was a horcrux?"
"Yeah," Harry said, and to Fred's surprise, he pulled a locket off from around his neck. "Locket of Slytherin." He looked at Draco again, and Fred wondered if he was trying to analyze the other boy.
"It's the only one we've been able to find so far. I mean, we suspect the snake is one, and Harry already destroyed the journal, and Dumbledore the ring."
This time, Hermione was looking at them closely, and Fred realized she was fishing for information, trying to find out how much they knew.
If only she REALLY knew…
Harry put the horcrux on the ground, and stopped. Fred was still holding the sword, and was about to hand it to him, but Harry said to stop.
"Malfoy," he said. "If you really and truly are on our side, then you get the honors."
Draco looked surprised, and then concerned, but Fred held the sword out to the younger teen, and Draco visibly swallowed. The early morning light was making it so they could see a little better, and Draco looked like he might pass out.
"C'mon, Draco. If you can stupefy you know who, then a little locket can't hurt you."
Draco blinked at George's words, and Harry spoke up. "Actually, the bit that was in Riddle's diary tried to kill me, so you might have a little bit of trouble."
Draco, who had grabbed the sword, lost the confident look that he'd been getting.
"Nice encouragement there," Fred said dryly.
"I'm just warning him!" Harry protested.
"It's okay. I'll do it."
Draco had gotten a determined look on his face, and he stood at the ready. "So, do I just chop at it? Or do I need to do something else?"
"I'm going to see if I can open it…"
They all watched with bated breath, Draco poised and waiting, as Harry spoke in Parseltongue.
Almost immediately there was en explosion of what Fred could only describe as darkness. Everyone fell back, and it took Fred a moment to reorient himself. When he did, he noticed Draco staring at an image of his mother, horror written on his face.
"You left me," the apparition said. "You let them kill me. You never cared. You were just a worthless child, just Lucius's heir. If I had been able, I'd have had more children, because you were such a disgrace."
The tendrils of shadow that had made up the image of Narcissa Malfoy changed, and suddenly Lucius himself was standing there. "You know, they aren't really your friends. They're just using you. They'll get your intelligence to help with the war, and then they'll drop you like a hot potato if they succeed. You're nothing to them but a means to an end. You're worthless to everyone around you unless it's to attempt to use that tiny brain of yours."
The apparition of Lucius continued to hurl insults at Draco, and the boy sat on his knees, wide eyed and pale, the sword all but forgotten at his side.
"Draco, it's lying! It's just messing with your head! You're stronger than it, than him! Kill it! Kill it now!"
Fred's words seemed to snap Draco out of his trance, and he suddenly looked very mad.
Letting out a yell, the blond ran forward, and slammed the sword down on the open locket. In another burst of shadow and magical energy, the locket was destroyed.
"That was for my mother," Draco snarled.
Everyone sat around what was left of it, looking properly freaked out, Draco most of all, but all had a sense of accomplishment.
"Well," Harry said brightly after a moment. "Just think. Three more to go!"