Harry found himself back on the train for his fourth year at Hogwarts sooner than he’d been expecting. He’d packed up all of his things into his new trunk the night before, taking the time to organize everything so that he’d find it easily the next morning. His homework was already packed into his new book bag, along with parchment and ink in order to save him time once he had his schedule. Ruth, Tinker and Havoc were happily snuggled into the fourth compartment of his trunk and Hedwig had flown ahead to meet them at the school.
Remus and Sirius had seen him off, along with the Weasley’s, just hours before. Harry wished that the differences from the beginning of his other school years hadn’t stopped there.
Instead, Harry found himself once again discussing a possibly life threatening event that was going to be taking place at the school. The Triwizard Tournament, something he’d been hopping had disappeared into history after regaining the memory of the event from one of his past lives of this Earth. The Tournament took place between the three European school: Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons. The schools would nominate one champion each and would have each champion compete in three tasks. The winner of the tournament, supposedly, would prove which school out of the three was the strongest in Europe.
The only problem was that the champions had a bad habit of dying in the increasingly dangerous tasks that they were forced to compete in once being chosen. There was no dropping out of the Tournament once named champion, either, as the magical contract was binding. Yvonne, their name in that life, hadn’t been sad to see it go.
Harry felt the urge to hex whoever thought to bring the blasted thing back. ‘Or make them participate,’ Gabriel snarled. ‘What is it with the government and doing monumentally stupid things?!’
Harry wasn’t the only one that felt this way as Ron and Hermione looked nauseated. It wasn’t hard to figure out that one of the tasks would involve dragons, what with Charlie being hired by the Ministry. It also explained the reaction of the Weasley matriarch. Of course Molly would be against something that purposely put children in harms’ way. Any sane parent would be.
“I hear that the reward money is 1000 galleons,” Neville timidly informed them, having joined their compartment not too long ago, bearing the news. “And eternal glory for whoever winds.”
“Eternal glory?” Hermione scoffed. “I doubt that. I bet no one even remembers who won the Tournament in the past!”
Ron hesitantly nodded with a look of longing on his face. “Bet that reward money would be nice to have,” he mumbled.
“Not at the price of your life!” Harry nodded in agreement with Hermione’s retort.
“C’mon mate,” he nudged Ron’s shoulders. “Your mum would kill you if you even thought about entering. And money certainly isn’t everything.”
Ron seemingly perked up, grinning. “Yeah, you’re right. But we’d probably have a good go at winning it, what with everything we’ve done during each year. Bet you wouldn’t even break a sweat if you got picked, Harry.”
“Nah,” the teen grimaced. “I’d like to be kept out of this, honestly. One year without something trying to kill me would be nice.”
Hermione nodded, wincing at the memory of the Dementor attack the year before. Ron just snorted. “With your luck?”
Harry shoved the redhead playfully but frowned. ‘Just one year...’
′Ron’s right,′ Gabriel mumbled in their head. ‘With our luck, we’ll be right smack dab in the middle of it.’
That was what he was afraid of.
The school was buzzing with talk of the Tournament and the two schools that would be arriving on October 24th, signaling the start of the Triwizard Tournament. Honestly, it was driving Harry and Hermione mad. Ron seemed happy enough speculating what the tasks would be and who the champion for Hogwarts would be.
Harry, on the other hand, was getting tired of people asking him if he was going to enter. He was also annoyed with the cancelation of Quidditch in favor for the Tournament. Being on the Quidditch team had been one of the few things that gave Harry a break from the school work or latest mystery of the year.
The rest of the House teams were just as annoyed and Harry found himself agreeing with Draco Malfoy, of all people, about how stupid this all was. Why couldn’t they have just scheduled around the Tournament?
Unfortunately, that didn’t change anything and Harry found himself with much more free time than he’d had in previous years. That was both a blessing and nuisance. On one hand, he had more time to begin working on that ritual, on the other hand he was bored.
Usually, he would spend time with Ron and Hermione when situations like this came up. That, however, wasn’t an option as both of his friends spent most of their time working on their Occlumency. Ron had, like Harry suspected, taken to the second method much better than the first and was coming along quite nicely, easily catching up to Hermione. Neither of his friends would be ready for quite some time but that didn’t seem to matter to either of them.
′ At least they’ve both found something they can bond over together.′
That was true. Other than their yearly mysteries, Ron and Hermione had very little in common interest wise. Hermione loved reading and applying herself academically while Ron loved chess and creating new and improved strategies. Now the two were constantly comparing notes on Occlumency and how it worked for them. Hermione was helping Ron think up new decoy memories and hidden layers in his mind while Ron was helping Hermione research different ways to re-enforce her barrier.
Which left Harry out as he couldn’t really learn Occlumency. Sirius had tested him that summer and had come back with a blinding headache and no memory of what he had seen in Harry’s head. Gabriel had theorized that this was due to their mindscape being that of an Archangel’s, despite the fact that Harry hadn’t completely merged with his Grace yet. Which meant that, even though he had adequate protection, Occulmency wasn’t a subject he could learn. Human minds and Archangel minds worked too differently compared to each other for Occulmency to work for him.
So Harry filled his new free time with homework, visits to Hope and Hagrid, and exploring the castle. He would alternative between the three options depending on the mood he was in.
During the past few years, Harry had never really taken the time just to walk the halls of the school or to actively try and uncover some of the secrets hidden within the walls. The school was alight with magic, the castle itself humming and enfolding him in a comfortable embrace whenever he placed his hands on her walls. Every time his senses increased, a whole new portion of the castle revealed itself to him.
Harry found that he could spend hours just walking around with no real destination in mind. He usually used that time to brainstorm and to come up with plans. Voldemort wasn’t going away and the Tournament wasn’t something he could ignore so Harry really didn’t lack things to plan for. He carefully ignored anything to do with the Other, knowing that he wasn’t nearly ready to start making plans for that problem yet.
There were also times when Luna joined him on these trips, pleased to have some company herself when she roamed the halls. Ginny never seemed interested in discovering all the secrets of Hogwarts, not since the disaster of her first year. Harry supposed that he couldn’t blame her for that.
So far they hadn’t found anything truly interesting yet though they had discovered the entrances to both the kitchen and the Hufflepuff dorms. Harry found it interesting that the Hufflepuff dorm room was by the kitchen and not by the Gryffindor dorm like the rumor mill claimed it was. No doubt the Hufflepuff’s were having a good laugh at the rest of the school.
Today, however, Harry was on his way to visit Hope and her now fully grown children.
Sol’s once white, gold spotted pelt had melded together into a solid, shinning gold that shimmered in the sunlight. The unicorn preened as Harry complemented his new look, strutting around and showing off. Celestica was still a beautiful pure white while Mystica now had a purple shimmer to her coat that hadn’t been there before. Hope, just as white as the day that Harry had met her, watched her grown foals with pride.
“You’re all so big now!” Harry grinned at them all. It never stopped amazing him at how fast the foals had grown. While it had been two years since they were first born, a long time for an animal to remain adolescents, Harry still couldn’t help but think of the three as the small foals he had first met. It wouldn’t be long before the three found their own mates and sired their own children.
The thought made him grin and saddened him at the same time. It was only three more years after this year until Harry left Hogwarts and he wouldn’t be able to visit the unicorn family as much as he was used to.
′We’ll just have to set time aside for whenever we want to visit,′ Gabriel hummed. ‘We’ll have full use of our wings by then.’
Harry didn’t comment on that, preferring to focus all his attention on Sol as the unicorn began nudging him in an attempt to start a game of tag. With a laugh, Harry jumped at the golden unicorn and the game began. Best not to worry about such things now, Harry thought as he ran after the fleeing Sol.
Classes, Harry found, were a lot different than the year before. They were actively moving further away from the beginning theory in all of the core classes and towards the more advanced stuff. A lot of this, Harry found he knew from his past lives on this Earth, meaning that classes were getting rather boring. Out of all of his classes, Harry found that Care, Runes, and Potions were quickly becoming his favorites.
While it wasn’t all that odd for Runes and Care to take the top of his favorite classes list, Potions had been unexpected. Snape was still on probation from last year and seemed to decide that if he wanted things to return to normal, he would need to actually teach them. No more slamming a recipe on the board and telling them to brew it. The man was actually going into the theory behind why they stirred a certain way and how certain plants reacted with each other. As the youngest Potion’s Master in history, Snape was an authority on how the subject worked.
There were still snide comments and the man was always scowling, but Harry found that he was enjoying the class more than he ever had before. There was also the added bonus of less cauldrons exploding. Harry was rather surprised by that little fact. It seemed that speaking in terms of plants and such had made the subject finally click for one Neville Longbottom, who was the main culprit of exploding potions.
About halfway through the second week of school, Harry’s new schedule was interrupted with a letter from Sirius.
I talked to the goblins about that thing we were after. I can’t say much here, not secure enough. I’ve included a present for you in the package. Call my name out and we’ll be able to talk.
Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise and picked up the package that did indeed hold a mirror. The small mirror was obviously magical in nature, he could see that quite clearly.
′Interesting,′ Gabriel piqued up.
Glancing around, Harry slid the mirror into his pocket and slipped out of the Great Hall. He had a free period so Harry made his way up to his dorm. Thankfully, Harry was one of the few Gryffindors with a free period in their year and Ron was off with Hermione practicing. Sure enough, when he got to his dorm room it was completely empty.
Harry slid onto his bed and pulled the blinds closed, sealing them with a sticking charm before casting a muffling charm around him, as well as a privacy ward. Picking up the mirror, Harry studied it for a minute. “Sirius Black.”
The surface brightened before fading away until Harry had a perfect view of his godfather’s face. “I was hoping you would call soon,” the man grinned toothily. “Shouldn’t you be in class, though?”
Harry blinked before shrugging. “I had a free period and I was curious. I haven’t seen a mirror like this before.”
“Well, that because James, Remus, and I invented them.” Sirius told him, smug. “We used to use them to talk during detention. It always drove our professor’s insane, trying to figure out how we were doing it.”
Harry shook his head while Gabriel snorted. “You said you met with the goblins?”
Sirius’ face turned serious, all humor melting off. “I did. They were not pleased to learn that a Horcrux was in their bank, let me tell you. Bella’s entire vault was confiscated and searched. Thankfully, we found the Horcrux. Unfortunately, it’s Hufflepuff’s cup.”
Harry froze, eyes wide. “He didn’t,” the teen hissed, catching onto what Sirius was saying.
“He did,” Sirius grimaced. “I have no doubt the rest of the Horcruxes are from the other founders. Ravenclaw’s Diadem is supposed to be lost forever but I wouldn’t put it past that maniac to have found it and used it in his ritual. Slytherin’s Locket must be one as well. I’m not sure about Gryffindor’s Sword, though.”
′The sword is definitely not one,′ Gabriel added. ‘We would have sensed that during the battle with the Basilisk.’
Harry relayed this to Sirius before groaning. “We’re going to have to search the Chamber, just to make sure there isn’t another one hiding down there.”
They hadn’t been in the Chamber since their second year. The whole place was covered in debris and water, there was no telling how safe it was after so long without upkeep. It was a miracle that nothing had collapsed on them when they went down the first time.
“Better you than me, pup.” Sirius shuddered. “I’ve put the cup in the box that I picked up. That thing is fowl, I’ll tell you that much. The goblin’s even refused to touch it.”
“I don’t blame them,” Harry sighed. “What did they do with the rest of the vault contents?”
“Destroyed all the dangerous objects and slit the money between the bank and the Black vault,” the man sounded bemused by this. “I honestly expected them to just keep it all, really. I guess they were grateful that I brought this to their attention. Soul magic is just as taboo to them as it is to us, turns out.”
“Not surprising,” Harry muttered before speaking up. “I have to go, Rune’s starts in ten minutes and I’m in the Gryffindor dorm.”
Sirius nodded. “I’ll let Remus know you called. Let us know if you find anything in the Chamber, okay pup?”
Harry nodded and the mirror faded back into a reflective surface. Harry stuffed the small object under his pillow before grabbing his bag. Cancelling the spells he’d put up, Harry darted out of the dorm and into the common room. As he walked, Harry considered what they now knew.
Voldemort had made at least three Horcruxes; the diary, the cup, and the locket. The diadem was still up for debate, really. Either way, three was a magically powerful number and somehow, Harry really doubted the man would have stopped there. Voldemort’s soul was far to corrupt to have stopped there. Looking back on his memory of their meeting in first year told Harry that.
The next magically powered number was seven, Harry mused silently. It would be idiocy to go any higher than that. Which meant that they had a good idea of how many the madman had made now.
′ That’ll sure make this easier.′
Harry agreed. They were finally getting somewhere.
Kreacher the house-elf held up a golden locket to the light, making sure that the object was out of view if another of the new elves happened upon him.
When Master Regulus had asked him to destroy the object so long ago, Kreacher had been determined to see it done no matter what. The Master had died for this thing to be destroyed. Now, Kreacher had failed in fulfilling this last wish of his master and he had been slowly driving himself mad trying.
Nothing had worked and only two years before, Kreacher had given up completely and had been waiting to die ever since. Then the new Lord had arrived. With him, Sirius Black had brought the answer to Kreacher’s problem.
Master Celestial could destroy the fowl object, was actively looking for all of these trinkets in order to rid the world of the fowl Lord Master that had left Kreacher to die.
All Kreacher had to do was take the locket to the Master Celestial and he would finally see it destroyed. Yet, Kreacher was hesitant to do so. Master had told Kreacher to destroy the thing. What would Master think, to know Kreacher had been forced to rely on another to see it done? Would Master be angry at him?
Kreacher didn’t know and it bothered the house-elf. He just did not know what to do. So he debated with himself, muttering underneath his breath as he looked at his master’s last request with disdain.
What was he to do?