Hour 5: 11 PM
The Fifth Hour, 11 PM to 12 AM
Hermione, Daphne and Tracey sat down on the sofa as they continued to go over the information in the book, "Magics Most Dark", written by Saiph Black. They turned back to the chapter on horcruxes, and then began skimming the section on how to create one. The two Slytherin witches could tell that Hermione was searching for some specific information.
Tracey looked across the book at her best friend since childhood, "You Daphne, I would guess that our little bookworm friend here has an interest in this beyond learning how to create a horcrux."
Daphne raised an eyebrow at the comment, "Hopefully she's not about to make one, as I'd hate to have to watch her try to kill you for part of the ritual."
Hermione closed the book, but kept a finger inside to mark the page. "Would you two cut it out!" she exclaimed.
"We will once you tell us just what is going on," stated Daphne.
"Yeah," agreed Tracey, "I'm still not sure what to make of our little miss always go by the rules sneaking into the restricted section, stealing a book from the library which just happens to be about the most vile dark magic there is, and she won't even tell us why."
"It's really important," stated Hermione, as if that would answer all of their questions.
Tracey sneered, "Everything is really important to you, girl."
Hermione looked from Tracey to Daphne and then back down at the book. She blew her bangs out of her face and slumped back into the sofa.
"I can't believe I'm even talking to you two about this," she said flatly.
The two Slytherin friends looked at each other in silence and then back at Hermione. They waited for the Gryffindor witch to explain further.
"Look, Harry will probably kill me if I tell you," she protested against the silence.
"Harry Potter wants to make a horcrux?" asked Daphne with feigned shock.
"No of course he doesn't," responded Hermione, with irritation in her voice.
"Then what does Harry need to know about horcruxes so that you go sneaking into the restricted section?" asked Tracey. Her tone was gentle.
Hermione scrunched her eyes tight and then let out a deep breath. "Harry needs to know how to destroy a horcrux so he can eventually defeat the dark lord because he is the only one who can kill Voldemort according to some prophesy but Dumbledore says that the Dark Lord made these evil vile things to make himself immortal so no one, not even Harry, can kill him, and the headmaster told him one way to destroy a horcrux but I wanted to find out as much as I can in case the headmaster didn't tell Harry enough about these things and somehow we have to find at least four more of them because two apparently have already been found and we have to do it without you-know-who finding out that we know about it and that Harry has destroyed the horcruxes thus making the dark lord mortal again so harry can kill him and get on with his life without some mad man trying to track him down and kill him every year."
Tracey and Daphne just stared at each other and then at Hermione.
"Honey, you have to breathe every once in a while," said Daphne.
Hermione just stared at the blonde witch. "Really, that's all you have to say after I spilled my guts and told you everything?"
"Well, I think you might be right, you probably just tell us everything, and that might even include all of Binns' lecture material for the past five years," said Tracey with a smirk.
Daphne rubbed Hermione's shoulder. "I think I did get the gist of what you were saying. You're trying to help Potter figure out how to get rid of these foul things, as long as you, or he, can actually find any of them."
"And then Potter can go and kill the dark lord and you two can go riding off into the sunset together and live happily after ever," added Tracey.
Daphne covered her mouth to stop herself from laughing as she looked at the reaction of complete embarrassment on Hermione's part after Tracey had made her final statement.
"I am not wanting to ride off into the sunset with Harry," she protested. "Harry and I are just friends. He's like a brother to me. The brother I never had."
"I get it," said Tracey as she tried to apologise, "but it was so much fun watching you react to my teasing you like that."
"Well, let's finish with the foolishness now so I can get back to figuring out what can help get rid of those horrid things," said Hermione.
They opened the book back up and found a paragraph that discussed what sort of things could be used to destroy a horcrux. However it became clear that the author had included this information as a way to instruct the creator of a horcrux as to what lengths might need to be taken to prevent the destruction of the horcrux by someone who might be trying to find a way to defeat the individual who made said horcrux.
"If created correctly," Hermione read from the text, "the soul piece contained within the horcrux will work to protect itself, it will be empowered to try and prevent anyone from destroying it. This self preservation will be even more powerful if the horcrux was made by the taking of the life of a powerful witch or wizard."
"Don't bother killing Draco to make a horcrux, it probably would die from its own ineptitude," commented Tracey with a laugh.
"We're trying to be serious here," stated Hermione as she slammed the book closed.
"Who said I wasn't?" quipped Tracey.
"Depending on the object used to contain the soul piece, it is even possible for the horcrux to grow in strength if it has a way to syphon off the magical life force from another person," said Hermione as she continued to read. She thought to herself how that explained the workings of the diary several years ago.
"Look here," said Daphne as she pointed to the next paragraph, "now it says what spells can damage or destroy a horcrux."
"One would need to protect the horcrux as though they were protecting their own body," read Hermione again. "Spells which would not be able to kill another person will have absolutely no effect on the item, as it would take a spell powerful enough to kill another person without any possibility of being blocked or deflected to be able to destroy the should piece in the horcrux."
"The killing curse should work then," said Tracey, trying to sound hopeful.
"Even fiend-fyre might work," added Daphne.
"Or basilisk venom," mumbled Hermione.
"What was that?" asked Daphne.
Gryffindor Common Room
Harry was frustrated. He had never finished looking for Hermione earlier, and she was still not back at their dorm. "It's not like Hermione to be out past curfew," he stated. The thought of what could possibly be keeping his best friend was concerning to him.
Ron was concerned, but not enough to get all bothered about it. "Maybe she just decided to take some lessons from you, Harry, maybe she's lightening up and not being a stickler for the rules."
"And maybe you'll get the top grades in our class on all of our tests," commented Dean Thomas who was sitting with them in the common room.
Ron didn't even react to the comment. "Well, I'm heading to bed," said Ron as he got up and walked up the stairs to their dorm.
Harry looked at Neville as if to ask if he was going to come with him.
"No thanks mate, I'm not about to go and get caught and then miss out on tomorrow and heading to Hogsmeade," said the previously shy Gryffindor.
"Fine," said Harry, "I'll go look for her myself." He then stepped through the portrait hole and into the corridor outside.
Ginny Weasley was heading down the hall where she was sure she had seen Hermione headed after she had left the library. But then all of a sudden the girls she was following seemed to have disappeared. Ginevra assumed that they must have stepped into a classroom, but she had checked all of them and they all were locked. After searching for several minutes she was sure that they must have been in one of the classrooms, so she tried again, the time using the simple unlocking spell, alohomora, and again attempted to gain entry to the rooms. The first three classrooms she had checked were in fact empty and abandoned. When she opened the fourth door, she was slightly startled to see three people sitting on a sofa on one side.
The trio who had been studying the book on dark magic were surprised at seeing the intruder enter their room.
"Hermione, there you are," exclaimed Ginny. "But are you doing with these two snakes?"
Hermione rolled her eyes at her friends' outburst. "They may be Slytherins, but Daphne and Tracey are friends of mine."
"But they're snakes," repeated Ginny, "you should know you can never trust anyone from Slytherin!"
Daphne frowned at the prejudiced comment. "I don't look like a Malfoy to you, do I?" she asked rhetorically.
"Well, no," stammered Ginny.
"By Merlin's beard, Ginny," said an exasperated Hermione, "you're beginning to sound just like Ron."
Ginny tried to protest being compared to her brother, "But…"
"But nothing," interrupted Hermione. "I've been friends with Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis since we first took ancient runes and arithmancy classes together. They may be the only two Slytherins who have been nice to me and have never made a derogatory comment about the lack of my magical heritage."
Ginny now felt very awkward, standing in the door with her wand drawn on the three witches.
"If you put your wand away, I promise we won't bite," offered Daphne.
"Or hiss, or even slither across the room," added Tracey with a laugh.
Finally the tension seemed to lessen and Ginny took a few more steps into the room. "I've been looking for you Hermione, and now I find you hanging out with these two, and…" she paused as her eyes focused on a large and old tome in Hermione's lap, "what are you looking at and being so secretive about?"
"We've been trying to help Harry by figuring out ways he can destroy some dark magical items," explained Hermione, hoping that she wouldn't have to explain anything further.
"Well, if Harry needs help," said Ginny trying to smile, "you know I'm all for that."
Now the two witches with the green and silver trimmed robes turned to Hermione and gave her a look that silently asked, "Can we trust her?"
Hermione returned the look with a slight nod, "Yes we can trust Ginny. She earned that trust when she helped us out when we went to the Department of Mysteries at the end of last year." Then she turned back to face Ginny, "Very well, but you need to keep this a complete secret and not talk to anyone about this. If word got out about what we're looking into it cold jeopardize everything."
Narcissa was walking down the hallway towards her bedroom, which she considered was an increasingly lonely pace for many years, when she stopped by the door to Bellatrix's room. She was surprised that Bella had actually left the door open. She quickly peaked inside ad noticed something on her bed. It appeared at first to be a torn up piece of paper. Narcissa stepped in and took a closer look, and discovered that it was an old photograph. She sat herself down on the edge of the bed and started trying to place the pieces back together, much like a muggle jigsaw puzzle, to see if she could make out what was in the photo. It didn't take her very long to see that it was a photo of when they were children.
She gazed at the photo for several minutes, her eyes completing the missing pieces from the scene in front of her, a scene of Bella, Andy and her all playing together in the backyard at the old Black family summer home. She let out a sigh as she considered how much simpler those times were, how happy they all were when they were young. Narcissa decided she was being foolish to sit there reminiscing, so she scattered the pieces of the picture around the bed again and she quickly stood up and left the room, grateful that no one had come by and seen her and considered her weak for allowing herself to get all emotional over such a foolish thing.
Hogwarts, Hallway on the second floor
Harry was making his way towards the library, hoping to find some sign of Hermione. He knew that it wasn't like her to be late for curfew, and he was pretty sure she did not have prefect duty tonight either. Harry mentally chided himself for not bringing his invisibility cloak with him, an item he almost never left his dorm after curfew without bringing with him.
As he turned around a corner, he nearly walked into one of the professors. Harry was startled and jumped back a step and then his mind realised that the person with the long grey and white beard standing in front of him was the headmaster.
"You know that you shouldn't be out after curfew, young Harry," commented Harry's mentor.
"Erm, well, yes, you're absolutely right about that, professor," mumbled Harry as he tried to figure out what to say. "You see, Hermione is running late and I wanted to make sure she got back to the common room safely." Harry then silently cursed himself for bringing Hermione into this situation, he should have just made up some other story. 'Too late now,' he thought to himself.
"My, that is noble of you Harry," replied Dumbledore with a knowing smile. "But I expect you both to be in your dorm within the next few minutes, so you better run along. And I expect Miss Granger will back quite shortly too, she does understand the example she needs to set for everyone as prefect."
"Of course you're right, professor," responded Harry who was now feeling a bit dense. "I guess I'll just head back and wait for her in the common room."
Dumbledore just nodded to indicate that he thought that would be for the best. However, as Harry was turning around and was about to head back to the Gryffindor tower, Dumbledore called him back.
"By the way, Harry, I do have something with me that I suppose I should have given to you a bit earlier," explained the headmaster as he reached into a pocket of his robes. "Here is the ring, the Gaunt family ring that was a horcrux but it is now destroyed. I thought that you should have it."
"Oh, why thank you professor," said a confused Harry as he reached out to receive the offered ring. He looked at the design on top of the dark black stone and then back up to Dumbledore. "But I thought that this was a Gaunt family ring."
"Actually it is most appropriate for it to be considered a Potter family ring, as your family is the only surviving descendants of the Peverrell family, the last recorded owners of the ring.
Harry listened to the explanation from the professor and once again he was examining the design carved into the stone.
"Oh, Harry, I would recommend that you keep that ring with you, one never knows when something such as that could come in handy." With those final words the headmaster turned and walked away down another hallway, leaving Harry staring alternatively at the ring and at the empty space where the headmaster had just been. After a few more minutes of just standing still, Harry thought he might have heard Filch's cat coming down the hall, so he decided he better head back to Gryffindor tower right away.
The four girls were finishing reviewing what they learned from reading the book. Hermione didn't think that using fiend-fyre would be practical or in any way doable for any of the items, which she assumed were relatively small, if the diary was anything to go by. When they noticed the time they all agreed that they really needed to get back to their dorms without being caught violating curfew.
Hermione cast the tempus charm, and noted that it was now nearly midnight. "We'll all be in trouble if we don't et back to our dorms immediately. I didn't realise it had gotten so late on us," she added.
"But it was important that we learned all that we could about those horrid things," commented Tracey.
"Yes, but we do need to be going," emphasised Hermione, "because after all, we don't want to get detention for being out after curfew, or…"
The three girls cur her off and in unison they added "…or worse, be expelled!"
Hermione bit her lip in frustration. "Enough with that, I was a first year when I originally made that comment."
"And we will never let you forget it, Hermione, dear," added Daphne.
The four girls then made their way out of the classroom and started heading back to their respective dorms, two to the Slytherin dungeons and two towards Gryffindor tower.