keeper of the locket
,, More?'' said Mundungus. ,, That wouldn't have been effing difficult...bleedin' gave it away, di'n' I? No choice.''
,, What do you mean?''
,, I was selling in Diagon Alley an' she comes to me an' asks if I've got a licence for trading in magical artefacts, wasn' bein' serious, she was, just seemed to fink it funny to see me panickin'. Bleedin' snoop. She was gonna taunt me a bit further, but she took a fancy to the locket an' told me she'd take it and let me off that time an' to fink meself lucky.
,, Who was this woman?'' asked Harry.
,, I dunno, some weird woman.''
Mundungus considered for a moment, brow wrinkled.
,, Tall woman. Messy, dark hair.''
He frowned and then added:
,, Looked a bit like that woman on that picture, only older.''He pointed to a photo standing in Kreacher's cupboard.Kreacher walked to his cupboard, never taking his eyes off Mundungus, tightening his grip on the large saucepan he was holding, and picked up the photo Mundungus was talking about. He brought it to Harry, for him to watch.
Harry dropped his wand: it hit Mundungus on the nose and shot red sparks into his eyebrows, which ignited.
,, Aguamenti!'' screamed Hermione, and a jet of water streamed from her wand, engulfing a spluttering and chocking Mundungus.
Harry looked up and turned around. He saw his own shock reflected in Ron and Hermione's faces; they had been looking at the photo over his shoulders. The empty feeling in his stomach, from two years ago, came back and he threw the photo against the wall, glass flying around everywhere. Kreacher ran forward to save what was left of the photo, but Harry stopped him.
,, Don't, Kreacher. I want you to throw that away.'',, But, she's my mistress, she's good to Kreacher.''
,, No, Kreacher, she's only good to you when she wants something. Nothing good ever came out of her. Throw it away, that's an order.''
Kreacher, reluctantly threw it away and Harry just stood there, wondering how on earth he could get that locket now.
The following day
,, Figured something out yet?'' Ron asked Harry as they sat down for breakfast, which Kreacher was currently making. ,, I've been thinking about something all night, but I haven't come up with anything.
Ron did, indeed, look tired. He had dark blue circles under his eyes, his red hair was messy and he seemed to have put his shirt on backwards.
But he wasn't the only one; Harry hadn't slept either. He had been lying in bed all night, thinking about possible ways to get the locket, but every idea seemed more ridiculous than the other. And when he wasn't thinking about that, he kept seeing images of Sirius dying. He was laughing at one moment and falling backwards through the veil at the other.
,, No, I haven't either. I hope Hermione's had some more luck. Where is she anyways?''
,, Upstairs, probably still in bed, I think.''
Harry shrugged and began eating his toast, which Kreacher had just put down in front of him.
About five minutes later, Hermione entered the room, looking just as tired at the two boys already sitting at the table.
,, Haven't slept either?'' Harry asked her, as she sat down next to Ron.
,, No.'' Hermione yawned, grabbing a piece of toast.
,, But, you did come up with a plan, right?'' Ron asked, certain that Hermione, being the cleverest of the three, had come up with a plan.
,, Actually, I haven't. I have been thinking about a plan all night, but nothing came to mind. I actually hoped either of you had come up with one. But apparently, you haven't either.''
,, Nope.'' said Harry sadly, he had been sure Hermione had thought of something.
,, I did have one plan that might have worked,'' Hermione said. ,, well, several plans, but neither of them work as long as we don't know where she is. And knowing her, and her family, her house will be very well hidden and far away from Muggles.''
,, That's it!'' Ron exclaimed. ,, Her family would know where her house is, right? And where are we? Family's home! Maybe it's written somewhere, or-''
,, I'm sorry to disappoint, Ron, but I thought the same thing this morning, so I searched all of the rooms. But neither of the documents and letters I found gave any information.'' Hermione said.
Ron sighed and began to poke his toast with a fork.
,, Wait! Of course it isn't written anywhere, it's supposed to be a secret, with it written on something, everyone could find it!'' Harry began. ,, But maybe someone does know about it.''
Ron and Hermione were just about to ask what Harry was talking about, when he stood up from his chair and walked towards Kreacher's cupboard, which he had just went back into.
Harry sat down on his knees and knocked on the door. It opened and the old house-elf walked out.
,, Does master need anything else for breakfast from Kreacher? Kreacher could make bacon for on the toast.''
,, No, Kreacher, the breakfast is good. I just want to ask you whether you know about where all of the Black family members live.''
,, Kreacher knows, but-.''
,, Great! Then tell me, where does Bellatrix Lestrange live?''
,, Kreacher's sorry. Kreacher knows where the houses are, but cannot tell. Not one of the Black family house-elves can tell the addresses, it is an old curse that goes back centuries.''
,, Shit. Thanks, Kreacher, I understand. But can't you tell us something, doesn't matter what.'' Harry almost pleaded; he needed to know where she lived.
,, Kreacher knows something.''
,, Please tell us, Kreacher.'' Hermione almost begged him.
Although Kreacher still wasn't used to obey Hermione, he reluctantly did.
,, Kreacher knows about a person who was once imprisoned in mistress Bellatrix's house, but escaped. He still lives, but is strongly protected.''
,, Can you bring us there, Kreacher?'' Harry asked, full of hope they were one step closer to getting the horcruxes.
,, Kreacher can, just tell me when and Kreacher will bring you there.''
,, I will, but first, Ron, Hermione and I need to talk about it.''
,, Kreacher will wait for master's call.''
Kreacher went back into his cupboard and Harry went to sit back at the table with Ron and Hermione. The three of them were smiling now, even though they still had a long way to go.
,, Okay, I say we do it today.'' Harry said to the two.
,, Harry, no! We have to think of a plan, his house is heavily guarded, we can't just go knocking on the door! We'll get hit by a curse before we can make our way to the door.'' Hermione said.
,, Hermione, we have to! Knowing Bellatrix, she will give the locked to Voldemort as soon as possible!''
,, But maybe she won't give it to him! I mean, she was in Slytherin, right? It is Slytherin's locket; she probably just liked it or something. I'm quite sure Voldemort wouldn't tell anyone about his Horcruxes.'' Ron exclaimed.
,, I don't see Bellatrix as a lover of jewellery, but I do agree with you, Ron. Voldemort wouldn't tell anyone about his Horcruxes, she wouldn't know.'' Hermione agreed.
,, Think about it! Lucius Malfoy owned one of Voldemort's Horcruxes! If he trusts him with a Horcrux, maybe he trusts her with the information of him having Horcruxes!''
Ron and Hermione looked at Harry rather doubtfully; it didn't make sense to them.
,, Okay, maybe he didn't, but there is a chance he did! I mean, she is his right hand, he must tell her something! We can't take any chances, guys, we have to do it today.''
,, I still don't think Voldemort told her, Harry. But if you think this is the best, I'll follow, you know Voldemort the best.'' Hermione said.
,, Yes, mate, we'll go today. But, how are we going to get past the security of that one man's home?'' Ron asked.
,, I don't think they'll attack Harry if he tells him who he is, the people guarding the house probably are Aurors of the sort, so they won't harm Harry, I hope.'' Hermione said, standing up from her chair.
The other two followed. When they stood in front of Kreacher's cupboard again, Harry ordered him to bring him to the unknown man's house and the four of the Dissapparated.
They Apparated atop of a mountain. A small, wooden house stood there on its own. It looked like it was about to fall apart, one soft breeze of wind and there would be nothing left of it.
The house was the only thing there; no guards, not a single one.
Before any of them could say anything, Hermione used a spell to look if there was anyone close. But apart from them, and the man in the house, there was no one.
,, I thought this house was supposed to be heavily guarded.'' Ron said, still looking around.
,, That's what Kreacher's been told.''
The four of them, carefully, walked towards the door and turned around to see if anyone was trying to surprise them from the back, but there was no one.
Harry knocked on the door and a sound of breaking china could be heard from inside, the man had probably dropped something. Then they heard a small voice:
,, Who's there?''
,, Hello, sir. I'm Harry Potter. I'm here with my friends: Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and my house-elf, Kreacher.''
,, Harry Potter?!'' the voice excitedly said and they could hear someone rushing to the door.
The door slowly opened. With every inch, the man carefully looked outside to see if the people outside were speaking the truth.
When the door was fully opened, the four of them could see the man. It was a rather sad view; the man was short already, but his back was arched so much, that he looked even shorter. His hair was grey, even though the man looked fairly young. And he seemed to shake non-stop.
,, It is you! It's an honour to meet you, sir.'' The man said, shaking Harry's hand.
,, Ehh..Thanks, sir. Could we come in?''
The man looked rather anxious to let them in, but did it anyways. He motioned for them to step inside and closed to door behind them.
They now stood in a small living room, no bigger than Hagrid's hut at Hogwarts, but far more dark; all the curtains were drawn.
The man told them to sit down, the only problem was: there were no other chairs than the one in front of the fire place, so they all sat down on the floor.
The man went to sit in his chair and said:
,, I'm sorry, I would make you tea, but I've always had a fear of fire, since- since.'' His eyes widened in shock and he decided to stop his sentence there.
,, It's okay, sir. We're only here to ask you something, if you don't mind.'' Hermione said kindly.
,, Ask away, dear girl, I will try my best to answer. Oh, and you may call me Lawrence.'' Lawrence said, smiling to Hermione, revealing numerous of missing teeth.
But before Harry could ask Lawrence anything, Lawrence's eyes opened wide and he pointed a trembling finger at Kreacher.
,, Him. He has to go!''
,, He won't do you any harm, I can ass-.'' Harry began.
,, He has to go! Please, make him leave! He belongs to her family, I don't want him here!'' Lawrence said, shaking really bad now and close to crying.
Harry decided it was no use trying to convince Lawrence.
,, Kreacher, wait outside for a moment, please.''
Kreacher bowed and walked out of the door, disappearing outside, with Lawrence, still with his eyes wide open, watching every move he made.
When he finally came to his senses again, he thanked Harry and relaxed a bit.
,, No problem, sir. Erm..'' Harry didn't know how to begin his question. It was obvious Lawrence was traumatized by whatever Bellatrix did to him. And if he was scared of Kreacher, he most definitely would be scared to think about the time when he was imprisoned. But Harry had to try, he didn't want the man to suffer more than he already had, but he had to ask. ,, Sir, I know it might be hard for you and we understand if you don't want to talk about it, but we need to know. We know you were imprisoned at Bellatrix Lestrange's house and we-.''
But Harry was interrupted by a sudden outburst from Lawrence; he had already been shivering at Bellatrix's name, but now he seemed to go crazy at the memory.
,, Imprisoned I was indeed, at her house. Have you ever heard about what a terrible place Azkaban is? Well, it's nothing compared to my time there.''
,, If you don't want to talk about it we understand, you don't have to.'' Hermione said. Even though she really wanted to know the location, she didn't want this man to suffer.
,, No, no, it's okay. You have come for an answer, I'll give you one.'' Lawrence hastily responded, trying to force a smile, which looked off compared to his eyes, which were crazed and watery. ,, I-I was imprisoned there about 18 years ago. I had some information about the Death Eaters and you-know-who that I had to pass on to Dumbledore. I wasn't in the Order, but I tried my best to help them. I've always been a coward, you see, I couldn't handle the battles the Order got into, so I decided to help in my own way.''
,, When you-know-who found out about my knowledge of his plans,'' Lawrence continued, starting to shake even more than he did before. ,, He send her to find me, capture me and to find out how much exactly I knew. And thus began the worst two years of my life.''
,, You were imprisoned for two years?!'' Ron said, feeling sorry for Lawrence.
,, Y-yes. And it would've been longer if I wouldn't have escaped when she went to Azkaban. Served her right. I would've loved to see her writhe in pain after what she did to me. And not only to me, no, from time to time, other people would come and go, but I always stayed. Can you three imagine what it's like to see people enter, fear already stricken on their faces, before they get tortured to death. Yes, it's never simple killing with her, first comes torture. She loves it, I've heard her laugh like crazy when torturing, she's sick, I tell you, sick. And, if they hadn't already died from torture, she killed them. And you know why? Because she was bored with them. Bored with ruining people's lives, bored of hearing people scream in agony, bored.'' Lawrence began to get angry at this, but also scared at the memory.
Harry, Ron and Hermione didn't know what to say. Hermione was sobbing, Ron was trying to comfort her, but that didn't go well as he began to feel quite sick himself. Harry just felt pure hatred. He knew she had tortured Neville's parents to insanity, but never had he imagined this. She was crazy, Harry now understood why Sirius had hated her so much.
,, I'm sorry to ask, sir. But like your said, she got b-bored,'' Hermione gulped, through her sobs. ,, after a while and killed those people. Why didn't she kill you after a while?''
,, I had been asking myself that question for a while as well and I decided it was another kind of torture. Not only physical torture, but mental torture as well. Well, she managed to do that well, I say. I still have the images of those poor people, which got tortured right in front of me, in my mind. And from time to time, she physically tortured me as well.''
,, I can still feel the pain,'' Lawrence continued, looking like a madman, eyes bulging and shaking like crazy. ,, The pain of the Cruciatus Curse on me, sometimes hours long, but that wasn't enough, no. Knifes and chains and even the stone floor. My body bleeding everywhere, hurting everywhere. Broken bones, teeth missing, wounds, deep, deep wounds that she'd heal, only to open hem again. And blood everywhere-''
,, Stop, please, sir.'' Hermione asked, panic rising in her voice.
,, Blood on the walls, on the floor, on me, on the others, everywhere-'' Lawrence continued, ignoring Hermione.
,, Sir, please!'' Hermione now almost begged.
,, Everywhere you could look, but not only blood, oh no. She cut deeper and deeper, until you could feel your org-''
,, STOP, PLEASE.'' Harry now said, for Hermione was in no condition. She had hid her face in her hands, sobbing quietly, as Ron was comforting her. Ron didn't look that healthy either, he was pale and looked like he was about to throw up.
Harry was shacking as well, he didn't want to hear this, he had never heard something as cruel as this, he understood why Lawrence was traumatized after experiencing that for two years.
,, Sorry, I shouldn't have gone that far, you're just children, you aren't supposed to hear this kind of stuff yet.'' Lawrence said, coming to his senses again. ,, So after two years, I escaped. It was night and I wasn't chained to the wall, no, she didn't need me to be chained, I wasn't trapped there, I was already trapped inside my own head. But one night, my mind was very clear. I knew I most likely wasn't going to escape, one foot out of the dungeons and I would've been dead, but I tried it anyways.''
,, I went up the stairs, tripping a few times, and saw, to my great surprise, that no one was waiting for me. I walked into the hall, to the front door, which appeared to be busted open, must've been Aurors. So I stepped outside and I was free.''
,, But when I returned home, I didn't get the happy ending I expected. Because I had escaped from her home, a friend from the Ministry thought it would be better if my house would be heavily guarded. He managed to get some of his Auror friends guarding my house day and night. This drove my wife insane; she didn't like having people keeping an eye on her life. And it became even worse; the things that had happened to me didn't fade away, I became paranoid. Yes, I am aware of myself going crazy, but I can't do anything about it, sadly. My wife left me a while later, she couldn't handle living with a madman.'' Lawrence began to cry again. ,, And who am I to blame her?! I understand she didn't want to live with me anymore, I became a failure and an even bigger coward that I already was! I don't even leave the house anymore, especially after she escaped Azkaban, I'm a mess! Even the Aurors that were protecting me left, they didn't want to guard a man this crazy.''
Lawrence continued crying and Hermione went to comfort him.
,, I'm so sorry, we shouldn't have asked.''
,, No, no it's okay. You couldn't have known how bad it actually was. Can you just promise me one thing?'' He said, now facing Harry. ,, I know you're after you-know-who, but don't let her get away, please. It's not only my life she's ruined. You would do the world a big favour.''
,, I will try my best, I promise. But can you please tell me one more thing?'' Lawrence nodded and Harry continued. ,, Do you remember where her house was located? We are, indeed, busy with defeating you-know-who, but we need to get to her to accomplish that.''
,, I do not know an address, my boy, but I do know how to get there. I will not get you there, I think you can understand that, but I can show you through my memories.'' Lawrence got his wand out of the pocket of his robe and placed it on his temple. He withdrew his wand, with a silver substance now hanging from the tip. He stood up and walked to a cabinet in the back of the room and got out a Pensieve. He put in the memories and motioned the three to come forward and look into the Pensieve.
The three looked inside and were led to a great mansion in the North of England. They withdrew their faces and thanked Lawrence.
,, If you ever need anything, we'll be there for you.'' Harry told Lawrence.
,, Thank you, my boy. But you don't have to worry about me, worry about yourself instead.''
The three of them went outside, walked to Kreacher and then Dissaparated back to Grimmauld Place.