"You sure you weren't followed, Lucius?"
"I am no stranger to stealth, Tavin." Lucius grinned. "Unlike your breath."
The tall, lanky wizard smirked in response to Lucius' rebuff. He brandished his wand, and the large rusty doors to the Ministry'sMagical Artefacts Division squeaked open. "I can't imagine why you'd want to go rooting about in 'ere, Guv'nor. It's not like these relics have any magic left in 'em."
"Call me sentimental." Lucius followed his escort inside the dimly lit warehouse. "You know how I like to collect my toys."
"Aye, particularly the kind that gets you thrown in Azkaban, yeah?"
Tavin led his longtime associate to a small unmarked door. He whispered the password into the keyhole, and the lock disengaged with a click that echoed inside the empty chamber. Having fulfilled his part of the bargin, Tavin deftly caught the purse Lucius tossed his way. He peeked inside the drawstring bag and smiled. "If you get caught, you don't know me, yeah?"
Lucius nodded, and Tavin left him at the door's entrance. Lucius closed the door behind him and listened intently until he was sure that he was alone. Satisfied, he looked about the room; the signpost above the entrance read, "Tom Riddle Exhibit." He retrieved the modified Sneakoscope from his pocket. It remained dormant in his palm which suggested that Tavin was correct in his claim that all the artefacts herein were bereft of any Dark Magic.
He sighed. Looks like we'll have to do this the hard way.
He walked by several rows of filing cabinets, trinkets and other minutiae, most of which had very little, if anything, to do with Lord Voldemort. It was almost laughable, the Ministry's inclination to record every facet of the Dark Lord's life—as if cataloguing him would beget a level of control.
He stopped in his tracks when he spied the remains of Nagini, Lord Voldemort's pet snake, preserved for all time in an oversizedglass jar. The shelf was otherwise nondescript and would have been easily overlooked unless one knew what to look for.
Tom Riddle's Horcruxes.
Lucius rolled the ladder over from the end of the aisle and started to ascend the upper tiers. The items were all housed in simple metal containers with a small catalogue card attached. Lucius was impressed by the Ministry's meticulousness, for many of the items, having been destroyed, hardly bore any resemblance to their description, namely: a locket, a ring, a diadem, a cup and an odd turban. He paused, however, when he came upon an unmarked leather-bound book.
Tom Riddle's Diary….
He held the tome with reverence as he descended the ladder. Once again, he found himself entrusted to that which his master held most dear: the first Horcrux. Holding it in his hands, he knew it was no coincidence that Lord Voldemort had approached him last night in the guise of Ginny Weasley.
Lucius examined the book. It was withered and desiccated, suffering a hole starting from the front cover and ending in a small dent in the back cover with every page between being pierced. He brought out his special Sneakoscope in the hopes that its close proximity would elicit some sort of response.
Undeterred, he opened the book and flipped through every page one by one, looking for nothing—and everything. Agonizing minutes passed, but his persistence was rewarded when, toward the end of the book, he noticed a gap between two of the pages, prompting him to open the location in the book ever wider.
His jaw dropped.
Inside there was a single page folded inward toward the spine—folded in such a way that allowed it to escape being pierced like the other pages. With great care, he used the tip of his pen to unravel the bindings. His patience paid off when he was able to remove the page completely from the rest of the diary without tearing it. A follow up examination revealed that no other pages were spared.
His fingers trembling, Lucius unfolded the lone page and smoothed it out across his lap. Using his pen, he wrote three words on the blank page:
"Are you there?"
The words simply stared back at him. He eyed them for several minutes, looking for the slightest signs of life, but he was denied. Unfortunately, his time had run out. After he replaced the diary, Lucius folded the page with care and stowed it in the lining of his jacket. He left the room and proceeded to the antechamber of the Artefacts Division where Tavin waited by the lift. Both men shared a knowing look, but said nothing otherwise—though Lucius was tempted to ask Tavin for a refund.
After being discreetly escorted away from the restricted levels, Lucius promptly left the Ministry building and summoned his driver. His mind raced, pondering on how he would confront Lord Voldemort with nothing to show for his efforts but an empty page. Surely his master's patience would not suffer another failure on his part.
In waiting for his ride, he almost yelped when he felt the Sneakoscope flitting about in his pocket. His heart racing, he recovered the hidden page and unfolded it. The words that he had written previous were gone; in their place was inscribed:
He smiled; after all, Malfoys hate to waste money.