Home Sweet Home
– CHAPTER EIGHTEEN –
Home Sweet Home
I landed in my room at Privet Drive. Fudge, the man who had caused me so many problems, was dead. The Ministry would be in uproar. I didn't care. Tracey was free; the Hufflepuff Cup was with her. If I were to believe that Riddle created six Horcruxes, it meant I only had two to find, one of which was Voldemort himself.
But I wouldn't destroy the Cup – not yet. If Dumbledore was right, then I needed both Horcruxes at hand before destroying them. On top of that, I didn't have anything to destroy it with.
Tracey, no doubt, was at Mrs. Jones' house. I had to get there before Dumbledore did. My pulse still buzzing from the murder of Fudge, I Apparated away into Mrs. Jones' hallway.
I was met by a dishevelled Mrs. Jones, who had her wand trained on me. Once she recognised me, however, she breathed a sigh of relief, hurried towards me and enveloped me in an embrace.
"Oh, Harry," she said, "you wonderful, wonderful boy." So it was confirmed, Tracey was here.
As gently as I could, I peeled her off me. "It was the least I could do," I murmured.
"How did you do it?"
"I reasoned with the Minister," I said distantly, searching the room for any sign of Tracey.
"You'll be looking for Tracey, I take it? She's upstairs."
"Yeah..." I was cut off by a creaking floorboard. I looked for the source, near the staircase. I froze. Walking slowly down the stairs, never breaking eye contact with me, was Tracey. My mouth suddenly felt very dry. From the corner of my eye, I saw Mrs. Jones leave the room. Tracey was wearing her purple robes, my favourite, and had her hair tied back. Her eyes were shining with tears.
Neither of us said a word as she descended the last few stairs. I ran a hand through my hair nervously. Finally, there was such a small distance between us that I could reach out a hand and touch her face as I used to. The extent to which I had missed her suddenly hit me. I missed the feel of her skin, the way the light hit her hair and made them shine, the way her lips felt against mine. There was an empty chasm in me that only she could fill. The cold feeling in me that Voldemort brought with him seemed to melt away.
"Harry," she said, barely above a whisper, "I'm so sorry..."
I closed the gap between us and pulled her into a deep kiss, soft at first, our lips brushing, but very soon I was pouring all my heart into it – the frustration I had felt being away from her, the passion I had felt upon learning of her incarceration, the relief I now felt knowing she was safe in my arms. The familiar feeling of warmth passed through me, as though I had swallowed a steaming mug of hot chocolate. After what seemed an age, I pulled away.
"I have something for you," she breathed.
I reluctantly tore my eyes from hers and glanced at what she was holding. It was the Hufflepuff Cup. I looked back at her as I took the cool handle of the Cup. "I missed you," I said.
"I missed you, too."
I willed the Cup to conceal itself and, duly, it shrunk and became a listless grey drinking glass made of some sort of metal. I placed it in my pocket. I looked back at Tracey but she was looking at something over my shoulder. I followed her gaze and found Mrs. Jones hurrying towards us, carrying a folded sheet of parchment.
"Dumbledore's here with Aurors," Mrs. Jones whispered, shoving the piece of parchment into my hand. "Take this, Harry." I opened my mouth to speak but she cut me off. "Now's not the time. Go, both of you." She embraced us both fleetingly. Needing no further encouragement, I took Tracey's hand and Apparated us back to Privet Drive.
"Why didn't she want Dumbledore to see us?"
I looked at Tracey, eyes narrowed slightly. "The way I got you out of Azkaban wasn't exactly legal," I said.
"What do you mean?"
I considered her for a second then told her exactly what had happened, starting from her note to me.
"Youkilled the Minister?" She seemed startled, but not horrified.
"Yeah. Why don't you think I killed your father anymore?"
She looked away. "Because you didn't. At the start of term, Hermione spoke to me about it. While she was speaking to me, the strangest thing happened. Her eyes got wider and I could see into her mind. I saw you, Terry and Hermione talking about all sorts of things...finding Horcruxes, the Knights of Walpurgis and m-my dad. I knew then that you didn't kill him; I can't explain it, I just knew."
"You performed a really advanced piece of magic there," I said. "It's called Legilimency – not many people can do it. Occlumens can sometimes accidentally perform it, but generally, it's a rare gift."
"I've been practising Occlumency ever since...you know..." She trailed off, but didn't need to say anymore.
"So what do you think?" I said quietly.
"The Knights of Walpurgis."
"I agree with everything Terry said," she said with conviction. "We should do it. Look at how the Ministry's treated us – they set us up."
"Yes," I said, unfurling the piece of parchment Mrs. Jones gave me. I recognised the handwriting immediately, and stopped listening to Tracey's rant against the Ministry. It was Dumbledore's handwriting! Though far untidier than usual, there was no doubting his unique script.
Following the theft of Rowena Ravenclaw's Wand from the Magical History Museum in spring 1980, the only conclusion to be reached is that Lord Voldemort acquired it...
The next few sentences I could not read – it seemed as though Dumbledore's handwriting became more illegible the more excited he became. Following the sentences I could not read, there was a series of complicated Arithmancical equations far beyond any I had encountered in class. I tried in vain to follow his thought process but it was no use. Frustrated, I skipped to the final paragraph, which read:
The Prophecy child was to be Lord Voldemort's final monumental murder. The Prophecy child was the sacrifice for the last Horcrux, the wand. By my calculations, the Horcrux was created nonetheless and remains, to this day, at Godric's Hollow.
My hand almost shook with excitement. Here in my hand was the answer to finding the final piece of Voldemort's soul contained within an object. This was it. It made sense. Voldemort had tried to use my death to create his Horcrux and the wand was a valuable object inexorably tied to Hogwarts. Nobody had returned to Godric's Hollow since my parents were killed and even if they had, the wand could have hidden itself – after all, it did contain a piece of Voldemort's soul.
I snapped out of my reverie and looked at Tracey. "What?"
"You haven't been listening to a word I've been saying."
I gestured towards the scrap of parchment and said, "Do you know what this is? Your mum's managed to steal some of Dumbledore's old notes. The final Horcrux is in Godric's Hollow."
Tracey visibly paled. "Godric's Hollow?"
"Yeah, what's wrong?"
"My mum grew up near Godric's Hollow. We visit my grandparents there every year."
I almost laughed. I had just begun thinking of ways to travel to the Hollow. "Come here, hold my hand." Tracey complied. I placed Dumbledore's notes on my desk. "Remember what we did at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters? Visualise the outside of your grandparent's house."
I closed my eyes and only opened them when I caught the smell of wildflower.
We stood on the slope of a steep valley. I glanced over my shoulder – a gate led to a small cottage in the hillside. None of the lights were on – the inhabitants were probably fast asleep. We were on a footpath, barely wide enough for a car, which snaked down the hill, at the bottom of which was a small settlement that took up much of the floodplain. Through the centre of the village ran a narrow, suspiciously straight, river.
"That's the River Rhymney," murmured Tracey, "and this is Rhymney Valley. The village down there is Fochriw."
We took to the path and followed it down the valley side. Other than the hooting of owls and occasional rustle of bushes either side of the path, it was deadly silent.
We were near the base of the hill with the Hollow in sight when I heard whispers. I started, before dragging Tracey with me into the darkness of the trees at the side of the path, which had now widened into a road. Tracey was ready to protest, but I raised a hand and silenced her.
As I had thought, a group of children, no older than nine, walked past. They stopped in their tracks, a small way down the path, in the wake of a blinding pair of headlights. I squinted and made out a blue Ford Fiesta stopping in their path. A tall, gangly man got out and, in a strong Welsh accent, said, "What are you doing out so damn late? Your mam's worried sick. You're gonna get a good hiding, you are. Hurry up and get in the bloody car all of you!"
"But dad!" moaned one of the children. By the light of the car, I could see that there were four children, all of whom had sandy hair. "We wanna go to the Forgotten Hollow! Billy says it's haunted!"
"Billy also says his chicken had a pup. There's no such thing as the Forgotten Hollow."
"But Nanny says it exists!" piped another of the children. "She says there was a green light one night that lit up the whole valley!"
"Your Nan likes a good story."
"I see a house!" cried a third child. "Daddy, I see it! Christ Almighty, I see it! There's a cottage and a garden and–"
"You're seeing things, dear. Remember that time you thought you flew away from a wolf?"
The car began to pull away and all I could hear was, "I see it! I see it!"
Once the car was comfortably out of sight, I stepped back onto the road, hand in hand with Tracey. "Godric's Hollow should be protected against Muggles," said Tracey. "All they see is a big cave in the hills that they call the 'Forgotten Hollow'. They think it's haunted."
We came at last to a wooden gate. Beyond it was a narrow path leading to a small cottage, covered on one side by ivy. It seemed familiar. I had been here before. I had opened the gate, wand in hand, and saw a woman with red hair playing with her baby.
This wasn't my memory, it was Voldemort's. I concentrated on the feel of Tracey's hand in mine and willed the memory away. I did not want to relive the night my parents died.
"Are you alright, Harry?" said Tracey.
"Yeah," I said, "it's just weird being here, you know?"
"I'm here with you now," she whispered.
I licked my dry lips and dragged my heavy feet along the narrow, weathered path. The closer we got, the less secure I felt. Had they left me a message somehow? Were there hidden truths in the house? I realised that they weren't perfect, but I didn't want to compromise my comforting vision of them as loving parents.
"Lumos." By the narrow beam of light my wand offered, I noticed that the roof was thatched and the exterior not covered by ivy bore the black and white Tudorian pattern. I had expected either a sprawling Pure-blood manor such as Tracey's or a tall, rickety house like the Burrow. I found the modesty of it attractive; I would have enjoyed living in its two floors.
If Voldemort hadn't killed them. Looking at Godric's Hollow renewed my determination to reach my goals. I had to defeat Voldemort. I had to defeat the bureaucracy that ran the wizarding world. I could not allow other families to be torn apart as mine had been.
The wooden door creaked open. The man, barely out of childhood, stood in the hallway, his wand raised. How he had troubled me. He could have been a reliable Death Eater of mine but instead chose death.
"You will not harm my wife and son," he said, surprisingly calm.
I would not waste words on him. Not this time. "Avada Kedavra!"
I drew breath and looked around, bewildered. My arm was bent and my wand raised – my usual battle pose, except Tracey's hand was wrapped around it. She was looking at me with worry.
"Are you sure you're alright?"
"Why?" I asked slowly. I dreaded finding out what I had done.
"You just shot a Killing Curse at that door!"
I glanced at the door. There was a gaping hole through its centre, as though someone had punched it.
"Tracey, it's not safe here for you. Wait for me outside."
"No," she said, "I'm staying with you. You need me now."
"It's going to get worse," I pleaded, "and there's a high chance you could be hurt."
"I don't care. I'm not deserting you – not again. Where would the Horcrux be?"
"Upstairs, in my room." At least Voldemort was good for something.
We walked to the stairs, with Tracey clutching my arm.
I stepped over Potter's body. Trust, the most traitorous trait in man, had been his undoing. There was one more murder to perform – the murder that would ruin Dumbledore and all the Mudbloods who hid in his wake.
"Stay with me, Harry."
I looked over my shoulder – there was no dead body. Why couldn't I concentrate? Why couldn't I repel the visions?
"It's only going to get worse," I rasped.
We were on the first floor landing. The door to our immediate right had 'Harry' arranged on it with brightly coloured plastic letters. Tracey tentatively pushed the door open.
The girl had put herself between her and the baby. As if that would stop me. She did not even have a wand.
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!"
I could feel Tracey's hands on my face, but the feeling was fading. I could not hear the words she was saying
"Stand aside, you silly girl...stand aside, now..."
"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me, instead–"
"This is my last warning-"
"Not Harry! Please...have mercy...have mercy...Not Harry! Not Harry! Please – I'll do anything–"
"Stand aside – stand aside, girl. Avada-"
I was silenced as a pair of lips met mine. I lowered my wand and opened my eyes. "Thanks, Tracey," I muttered when she pulled away.
My room was made up of a cot, a wardrobe and a pile of soft toys. Wisps of moonlight filtered through the window and offered a spectacular view of the countryside. I could almost feel the intense magic that had torn apart my family. We combed through the room but no luck – there was no sign of the wand.
"Let's check another room," said Tracey, "I don't like the feeling of this one."
The next door along revealed a small study. Quidditch posters filled every inch of the walls, most bearing the 'Tutshill Tornadoes' emblem. A single shelf had managed to squeeze itself between the posters and was littered with medals and trophies. As I looked closer, I noticed that some were for Quidditch achievements, some Auror achievements and some were old pieces of Tornadoes memorabilia. My eyes lingered on the Head Boy's badge that lay in the wake of the Quidditch Cup of 1977.
I looked at the table underneath the shelf. In one corner of it was a black box. I opened it and found a finely made silver ring with an emerald set in it. A note fell out that read:
For my dear Emerald,
Our second anniversary already! I tried to find a ring to match your splendour but only found this trinket that seems ghastly in the wake of your beauty.
Your ever-loving husband.
Tracey, who was reading over my shoulder, took a sharp intake of breath and tightened her grip on my hand. If I looked at her, I knew I would find her to be moved to tears. But I couldn't tear my eyes away from the desk. I placed the box and its contents in my pocket.
My gaze moved towards the piece of parchment that lay precariously atop of a pile of papers. I picked it up and blew, so that the layer of dust that had accumulated was sent flying and the scrawled writing was now barely legible:
I mean no offense, sir, but I find the notion of Voldemort finding us almost laughable. Lily and I greatly appreciated your offer to become our Secret Keeper but we have utmost faith in Sirius; I'd lay my life down for him as he would for me.
Harry's doing great. He said his first words yesterday and I'm afraid to say it was 'mama'. Oh well, there's always the next kid.
I know you think Harry will be the You-Know-What but I disagree. It's far more likely for Voldemort to choose Longbottom – after all, he's a Pure-blood. That could just be wistful thinking, though. Merlin, I didn't know I could love anyone as much as I do little Harry, I tell you.
We're hoping the Fidelius will be lifted soon – it's been such a strain on our lives. I fear for the effect this seclusion will have on Harry's social abilities. Someone's tripped the wards – it's probably Sirius, so I'll wrap up.
I sighed wistfully. Dumbledore never got his letter.
"Your father must have been a great man," said Tracey quietly.
"Yeah," I said, "he must have been -"
I was in my old bedroom once more. A girl, no older than eleven, with flaming red hair, bent down to her knees mechanically, with a sense of purpose. Her hand slipped under the cot and returned with a long wand of mahogany. She turned, wand in hand, and left the room without a backward glance.
"Harry!" I snapped out of my reverie and found myself in Tracey's grip. "You're really pale. What did you see?"
"Ginny Weasley," I said. "It was Ginny Weasley... Of course..."
It made sense now. Tom Riddle had used Ginny Weasley to move Ravenclaw's Wand. If he used Weasley, that meant the Wand was in the Chamber of Secrets. There was no other place he would have hidden it. Tom would not have thought any other possessed the ability to open the Chamber. It was the perfect hiding place.
But how would I get into the Chamber without Dumbledore noticing? As soon as I stepped foot in the castle, the portraits would inform him of my presence. What I needed was a distraction...
"Tracey," I said, "I need to speak to Dean, but in order to do that, I need to summon him. Would you mind if-"
Tracey extended her arm and rolled up her sleeve. "I thought you were never going to ask," she said, smiling.
"Are you sure about this?"
"Surer than I've ever been. I don't doubt you, not anymore. I believe in what you're trying to do."
I moved my wand so that the tip was touching her pale skin. "Victum Nex!"
The grey skull of the Knights etched itself into her skin. Like Dean before her, she winced, but otherwise remained stoic until the Mark had fully formed. When it did, I touched it, causing it to turn black as her hair.
Almost instantly, Dean appeared beside us. He was dressed in light blue pyjamas and seemed distinctly dishevelled. His scowl disappeared when he caught sight of me. "Harry! What's going on?" He pointedly ignored Tracey.
"I need you to help me with something. Can you do that?"
Dean looked around a little uneasily. "It depends what it is; I'll see what I can do."
"There's something in Hogwarts I need, something of the utmost importance for our cause. As you know, I can't be seen in Hogwarts. Can you create a distraction for me? It has to be something big enough to draw in Dumbledore's attention."
"Why don't I just get it for you?"
"It's in a part of the castle you can't get to. Get Terry and Hermione to help you if you can. I need the distraction created within the next half hour at the most."
Dean nodded briskly. "That I can do. How do I get back?"
"Touch the Mark."
As Dean disappeared, I noticed that Tracey was torn between bewilderment and bemusement. "Six months ago he thought you were a Dark Lord. Now he's acting like your House Elf."
"I can be persuasive when I want to be," I said, smiling slightly. "Come on, we've got to get back."
We walked back out of Godric's Hollow. When I had shut the gate behind us, I took Tracey's hand and Apparated to the Privet Drive.
"Are you really going back to Hogwarts?" asked Tracey as soon as we arrived.
"I have no choice. Voldemort thought he had found the perfect hiding place and his gamble didn't pay off. We're nearly at the end of all this, Tracey."
"How can you be sure that Dumbledore won't be find you?"
"I can't, but I'm willing to take a few calculated risks."
Tracey sighed as I lay my father's black box on my own desk. "Starting to be the bloody Gryffindor, aren't you? When are we going, then?"
I looked over my shoulder at her. "We? No, there's no we this time. This time I go alone."
"Don't be silly," said Tracey, "there has to be someone there to make sure you don't hurt yourself."
"I'll manage this time," I said a little coldly, "and anyway, you have far more important things to do."
"Oh, really?" she said sarcastically.
"Yes, I need you to draw Dumbledore from his lair."
"How on earth-"
"Simple: you go back to your mother's house. You convince her to call Dumbledore; he'll arrive as soon as he can." Tracey stared at me as if I had lost my mind. "Don't worry, he won't hand you in to the Ministry; that's not Dumbledore's way. You need to stall for time as long as possible and try and maintain your Occlumency. Eventually, he'll find out where I'm going, but by then, I'll be in the Chamber and he'll have no way in."
"Just do as I say!" I took a breath. "If I need your help, I'll call you via the Mark. I promise."
"You're lucky I love you," she said, shoulders sagging in defeat.
"I love you, too."
I picked up a dirty pillowcase that lay strewn on the floor and turned it into a Portkey. Tracey and I shared one last tender kiss before she disappeared as Dean had done. I looked around my bedroom at Privet Drive then Apparated away once more.