The Journal’s Final Message
It was Valentine’s Day when Hermione was finally able to do things without anybody to help her. She felt back to normal and was starting to get very antsy staying at home. She had gotten sick of staying cooped up at Grimwauld Place and was coming down with a severe case of cabin fever.
She wasn’t allowed to go back to work until the healers cleared her. Even though the Aurors had been nearly decimated many months ago and they were trying to maintain security, they still didn’t want her to return. So in the mean time she had tried to keep busy by doing research on horcruxes for Harry and reading Regulus’ journal. She had not found much of anything to help him and she was about ready to give up.
“This is frustrating!” she exclaimed and slammed the journal shut.
Ron, who was engrossed in the quidditch scores jumped at the loud noise, “Ahhh! What’s wrong ‘Mione?”
She held up the journal, “There’s nothing else in here that is helpful!” she tossed the book on the table in front of her in disgust, “Not one mention of horcruxes or anything else!”
“Have you tried writing in it like Harry?”
“It won’t work with me,” she replied shaking her head, “Harry was Sirius’ godson so he’s a Black by that connection, that’s why he can write in it. Since I’m not a member of the Black family it won’t work for me unless I marry Harry.”
“Ginny’d kill you,” Ron said and looked back down at the paper.
“I can take her.”
He looked at her over the paper, “You’re nuts.”
“Are you getting jealous Ronald Weasley?” she said with a chuckle.
“Nah,” he said, “Besides I’m much better looking than Harry.”
Hermione snorted, stood up and went into the kitchen.
“What was that snort for?” Ron shouted through the door, “’Mione?”
When she didn’t reply he harrumphed and went back to reading the paper. She came back out a moment later with a glass of pumpkin juice. She flashed a mischievous glance towards her boyfriend, “You know… it maybe a good idea just so I can do a much more in depth analysis of the journal.”
Ron lowered the paper looked at her in surprise, “What?”
“Yeah,” she said with a hint of a teasing tone, “I marry Harry and then I can write in the journal and get some answers,” she shrugged, “And I suppose being married to him wouldn’t be all that bad.”
After a few seconds of silence Ron, who had missed her tone entirely, looked at her in complete bewilderment, “Are you serious?”
She looked at him with a deadpanned look, “What do you think?”
He looked at her and saw her mouth quirk upwards. He breathed out loudly in relief, “You think you’re funny, but your not.”
She laughed at him and his facial expression, “That was priceless!”
“I’m glad you thought so,” he muttered with no amusement in his voice at all.
She wiped away a tear and settled down a little, “Ohhhh, thank you. I needed that.”
“Glad to be of service,” he replied and then added softly, “I knew I should have stuck with Lavender.”
Hermione heard that and hit him with a pillow, “Jerk.”
Ron threw the paper away and leaped at her. They wrestled for a few minutes before Hermione rolled him off the couch and on his back then kissed him. He of course didn’t mind and responded with full intensity. They broke off to come up for air and Hermione glanced at the journal opened on the table.
She looked at it with a puzzled look and Ron became concerned.
She reached out, pulled the journal closer and read the line she’d seen. Then she quickly stood.
“Of course! How could I be so stupid! I’ll be right back,” she said standing, “We have to go see Harry.”
Ron watched as Hermione raced out of the living room, “’Mione, what is it? What’s wrong?”
He stopped at the foot of the stairs and listened to her shout, “I can’t believe I didn’t see it before!”
“See what before?” he asked her, but got no reply.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” she muttered as she came down the steps. She’d quickly changed and grabbed her cloak, “Come on!”
She put on her cloak and grabbed the journal. She dragged Ron over to the fireplace and within moments they had disappeared in a green flame.
Hogwarts was decorated with Valentine’s Day decorations. McGonagall had allowed the students to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year due to the fact that the Hogsmeade trip had been canceled. She figured that the students could at least enjoy some sort of recreation and this holiday was perfectly timed for such a distraction.
She was walking the halls in between classes noticing the students were passing out and opening notes given them. She smiled at one student’s reaction to her note. The girl turned bright red and looked around her as if seeing if anyone had seen her, then she turned and made a quick retreat from the hallway.
The students were headed to the Great Hall for dinner. McGonagall entered with other students and walked up to the teacher’s table passing Harry standing at the Gryffindor table talking with Ginny.
A small card in a plain white envelope was placed next to her.
“Happy Valentine’s Day.”
Ginny looked up in surprise and saw Harry standing next to her. She looked back at the card then smiled.
“Thank you,” she said and reached for the card, but he stopped her, “What is it Harry?”
“Can you please read it later?” he asked quietly.
“Of course,” she said and gave him a quick hug and sat back down.
Harry nodded a greeting to the others and went to the teacher’s table.
Colin sat down next to Ginny having seen the whole interchange from the doorway, “What was that all about?’
Ginny put the card in her pocket, “Nothing. He just wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Oh, ok,” Colin said with a slight tone of anger in his voice.
Ginny picked up on his anger and hers rose, “Listen Colin, Harry’s known me for years. I will not dismiss that now that you and I are seeing each other.”
“Then stop hugging him and flirting with him,” he spat out and stood.
She grabbed his arm and pulled him down, “Sit down. I do not flirt with him. Harry and I are friends. If you can’t get over it then maybe we shouldn’t be together.”
His jaw clenched, “What are you saying?”
“Maybe,” she started, “Maybe we’re just not meant to be.”
He looked at her stone-faced, “Fine.”
He stood and went down to the other end of the table. Ginny felt a little better actually. Something inside her knew that Colin wasn’t it. She would have thought about it more when the doors burst open.
She and everyone else present turned and were surprised when Hermione and Ron raced in.
The hall grew quiet as they raced up to the teacher’s table and started speaking to Harry. Hermione was holding up a small bound book in front of her and showed them a page in it. Ginny’s stomach began to tighten. She then saw Hermione distinctly mouth the name Voldemort.
“They’ve found him,” she said.
“Found who?” Dennis asked, but Ginny didn’t answer.
After a few minutes more Harry stood and put his cloak on. Kathryn stood and whispered to him and then raced out of the hall through a side door. Harry turned to McGonagall and they spoke for a few moments before Harry, with Hermione and Ron ran out of the hall.
Then hall the erupted with conversation like water from a broken damn.
“What was that about?” Luna asked when she came over and sat down.
“I think they’ve found You-know-who,” Ginny said.
Luna’s face went pale, Dennis swallowed his food with a loud gulp and several other students around them stopped talking and looked at her with shock.
“Students!” came McGonagall’s voice over the din. The hall slowly quieted down and she stood in front of them.
“Thank you,” she said, “Now I’m sure you’re all curious about what just happened. Just be assured that there has been a slight emergency and it will not affect Hogwarts in any regards. So please continue doing your normal activities. Thank you.”
She started talking with Professor Sprout and left as quickly as Harry did. The hall again became noisy again with the students talking. Ginny turned back in her seat and felt the card in her pocket. She pulled it out and stared at it for a minute.
She looked at Luna, “I hope he survives.”
The trio raced along the castle’s stone hallways and out
into the night. They were racing to the
edge of the school grounds so they could apparate.
“If he’s where you say he is then this won’t be easy,” Ron said.
“He’ll have protection,” Harry said, “We need to wait for Kathryn before we go in.”
“How many Aurors are left?” Ron asked.
“Not enough,” Hermione said looking at Harry with concern.
“That’s why McGonagall’s getting The Order together,” Harry said, “I asked her just before we left.”
“That’ll be good,” Ron said, “Plus with the last horcrux gone You-know-who will be weaker than last time.”
“Don’t bet on it,” Harry whispered and stopped, “Ready?”
Hermione and Ron both nodded and with in moments they were gone.
They apparated just outside a high stonewall that was at least twenty feet tall and vines growing on its face. They walked around and found a small iron gate entrance leading to what looked like the backyard. They peaked through and saw the small castle that had several rooms lit.
“How long?” Ron asked.
Harry shrugged, “A half hour at least.”
Ron nodded and gulped, “Ok.”
They waited in silence with nothing but the sounds of crickets chirping in the distance. Then after what seemed like an eternity they heard the distinctive sounds of people apparating nearby. Harry jerked his head to the other two to follow him and they retreated back to where the sounds had come from.
They saw at least a dozen people heading to the cover of the stonewall as they approached. Kathryn, Shacklebolt and ten other Aurors had arrived. Kathryn looked and saw the trio approach and gave them a quick smile.
“Fancy meeting you here,” she said.
“We were in the neighborhood,” Harry replied and looked at the group.
Kathryn read his mind, “This is all that’s left,” she said.
“Professor McGonagall is getting more help now,” Harry said, “The Order.”
Kathryn nodded, “Good, we’ll need all the help we can get,” she looked around, “Is there a place where we can get in?”
“There’s a small entrance a few yards from here,” Harry said pointing to his left, “There maybe a few others plus the main entrance.”
Kathryn nodded, “We’ll have to go in there then. Let’s go.”
Harry led the small group to the gate and stopped. Kathryn looked in and saw the same thing Harry’s group had.
“Are you sure?” she asked looking from Harry to Hermione, “This could be a disaster if you’re wrong.”
“I’m sure,” Hermione said.
“And I trust Hermione,” Harry added.
“Ok,” Kathryn said nodding, “How long before McGonagall get here?”
Harry shrugged and shook his head, “I don’t know. The Order is spread out all over England.”
Kathryn leaned back against the stone, “We can’t wait all night.”
“We’re outnumbered though,” Shacklebolt said, “Thirteen of us cannot possibly take on Voldemort and his Death Eaters.”
“Agreed,” Kathryn said, “But twelve of us have to take the Death Eaters, only one of us has to face Voldemort.”
All eyes went to Harry. He nodded slightly at her comment. Suddenly there was sound of popping near them. They all turned and pulled out their wands. They immediately breathed a sigh of relief when they saw almost the entire Weasley clan minus Fleur, Percy and Ginny.
Arthur Weasley saw them first and silently walked over, “Is this all?”
“All that’s left of the Aurors, Arthur,” Kathryn said, “Are you it?”
“No,” he said, “More are coming.”
“We’ve been trying to decide whether to do something now or wait,” Shacklebolt said, “Since you’re the highest ranking Ministry official here you’re technically in charge Arthur.”
Mr. Weasley nodded, “I know,” he sighed as he looked in through the gate at the house, “Not much in the way of cover is there?”
Kathryn took a quick look with Shacklebolt and shook her head, “Very little. It’d have to be almost a straight shot at the castle from here.”
“We’d be exposed too long,” Shacklebolt added, “And the snow would slow us down.”
“They can’t know we’re coming?” Charlie Weasley said, “We’d have the element of surprise.”
“Maybe,” Mr. Weasley said, “but You-know-who’s source of information is impressive. He may or may not know we’re coming.”
“Well we can just sit here and debate about this or we can just get this over with Arthur,” Kathryn said.
“Agreed,” Mr. Weasley nodded, “Minerva could be sometime with the rest of the Order,” he paused in contemplation, “We wait ten more minutes then we move in.”
They nodded and waited in silence. Occasionally someone would shiver in the cold and blow on their hands, but for the most part the group never moved. Just before the ten-minute time limit Mr. Weasley had imposed was up there came several soft pops near their hiding place. McGonagall, Tonks, Moody and Hagrid appeared. They quickly joined the rest.
“This is it,” McGonagall said.
“Ok,” Arthur said, “Then lets go. Once inside, spread out along the wall then break off into groups and go around the grounds until we’ve covered the house. Hagrid stay here until we get in. Unfortunately with your size you will be noticed.”
Hagrid nodded understanding perfectly. They tried to open the gate, but it wouldn’t budge, even when they used the alohomora spell. So Hermione acted next, “Evanesca.”
The door promptly vanished in front of them.
“Good work ‘Mione,” Harry said and entered first with Kathryn. The group fanned out along the wall in the darkness before they broke off into groups and englobed the castle. Harry, Kathryn and Charlie Weasley quickly went to their left and found a small entrance in the side of the castle.
They quickly looked around and didn’t see anyone. Then quickly as they could ran to the castle and hid in the shadows of the entrance. They looked and saw similar movement from the shadows and Hermione, Ron and Shacklebolt joined them.
Harry looked at Kathryn and tried the knob. It turned easily and the door opened. Harry cautiously opened the door farther and poked his head through. He heard no sounds and saw no one in the small entranceway. He nodded to the group and they entered silently.
Once all six and entered Ron closed the door and looked at Harry. Harry saw a stairwell leading up and one leading down. He gripped his wand and headed up the steps with Kathryn and Shacklebolt, while Charlie, Hermione and Ron took the steps that led down.