Kinsfire's story Family Matters ended, but perhaps there were some loose ends? After all, what other bonds might have been snapped by the BondSevering Curse? Sequel by permission of Kinsfire.
Well, I had hoped to have this up by last weekend, and was even considering cheating by claiming that Labor Day was part of the weekend. However, it was not to be. Looking at the average, I'm getting two weeks between chapters, which I can accept - though it's not the chapter a week I was hoping to do. However, the trend line doesn't look good. Still, this part of the story was in my notes as "Both Voldemorts start building powerbases, using the memories they carry up to the time of their creation, but have trouble since most were imprisoned after the first Voldemort's destruction. Each also starts carrying out initial demonstrations of power. Seeing reports of the other's attacks, they go hunting each other, while the Ministry group suspects what happened, and goes hunting themselves."
We'll see how it goes. After this, I'm back into stuff I plotted a bit more thoroughly. Lesson to self: You need to make notes even on minor characters!
Hermione groaned with frustration. Books that even mentioned magics that affected the soul were few and far between. Books that contained anything substantial were rare within that group. The closest she'd found so far to what they needed was one book which mentioned a bit of the arithmancy behind the spell that the Ministry used to communicate with the Dementors. That had led her to study some of the research that had been done on the Dementors. She had started to get an outline of a spell that would actually allow the extraction of a soul taken in the first few minutes after a Kiss, but decided that she needed to put that to the side for the time being.
All of the evidence she could find suggested that the Dementors were the creation of a wizard who was quite advanced in his or her understanding of soul magic. However, nothing she could find gave any hints who that mysterious creator was. She also found herself studying previous Dark Lords who had come close to immortality, or made claims of immortality. Of the twenty-three she sorted out of the list, only four had used something that appeared to be a horcrux, or related to a horcrux, and of those four, no explanation of how the horcrux had been found and destroyed was recorded. She swore to herself that such would not happen again. The damn things were simply too dangerous.
The research into what Voldemort might have used as his horcruxes was also problematic. Hermione had come to the conclusion from her discussions with Headmaster Dumbledore that Tom Riddle was a bit of magpie, who liked to take trophies of his victories. It didn't seem too large of a leap to theorize that he would use these trophies as the holders of his horcruxes. However, very little was known of Voldemort's life once he left Hogwarts.
The diary didn't fit too well into the magpie theory, but it did tie into his own desire for immortality, and it was most likely the first one made. Hermione had studied the locket very closely, as well, and had finally determined that it was, in fact, commissioned by and made for Salazar Slytherin.
The only thing Dumbledore had been able to tell her about Riddle's life after graduation from Hogwarts was that he had worked at Borgin & Burkes for a time, and that he had come back at one point to ask for a job as the Defense Against Dark Arts teacher. Dumbledore, worrying about periods of time that Riddle would not account for in the past years, refused him the job. Riddle, leaving Hogwarts at the time, had cursed the position, and as DADA Professors came and went, none staying more than one full year, it became apparent the curse was actually in effect.
In investigating Riddle's time at Borgin & Burkes, she found mention of an incident where he had been sent to try to buy a pair of goblets said to have been Helga Hufflepuff's from a little old lady. However, after returning to report no success, Riddle had only worked a few more days, before disappearing. While he worked, rumors circulated that the little old lady, believed to be the last of the Hufflepuff line, had been killed by her house-elf.
Hermione found this circumstance to be extremely unlikely. Her experience with house-elves led her to look deeper into the circumstances, and she soon came to suspect that Riddle had in fact killed the woman, and done something to the house-elf to make it confess to the crime. This led her to the idea that perhaps Riddle had used heirlooms of the Founders as his horcruxes. At least it gave her another avenue of investigation to pursue.
Her studies turned up very few items that were known to have been possessions of the Founders. Gryffindor's Sword had become well known, after the Chamber of Secrets incident. Most thought the Sorting Hat had been Gryffindor's as well, but Hermione couldn't find anything to solidly confirm or debunk that theory. Hufflepuff's goblets were now on her list, with the note that it didn't really matter if they really were or not, as long as Riddle thought they were. She'd also identified the possibility of a drop-spindle that it was said Helga has used to make the magical cords that had been used to mark and lay out the dimensions of Hogwarts, and well as being used as the limiting markers for the wards protecting Hogwarts.
The locket had already been identified as belonging to Slytherin, but she'd found suggestions that Salazar had also left a staff that he'd used in certain rituals. Other sources said the staff had been burnt out in one of those rituals. She made a note that more research was definitely needed.
Of the Lady Ravenclaw, she found no information. It was rather amazing to her that the one Founder noted for her love of books, had so little information available about her. More investigation of that was needed, as well.
Hermione wondered what she was going to report the next day, at the meeting they'd been having each week.
Phillius and Andiron met each other in a little pub called the Broken Barrister, located about midway down Knockturn Alley. Each looked the other over, and decided that the other might well make a good recruit for their Master, the Dark Lord Voldemort.
An outside observer would have found the convolutions the conversation went through absolutely hilarious, as each danced around the topic of Voldemort and Death Eaters so carefully. Soon, though, they reached the crux of the matter. Time to move in for the kill.
"So, Phillius, have you ever thought about actually doing anything about these damned muggles and mudbloods taking over our world?"
"Funny you should ask, Andiron. I have thought about it. And a few days ago, I ran into someone that I really didn't expect to see. Mostly because, well, the Daily Prophet had been reporting him dead."
"You don't say."
"In fact, the other night, we had a good time killing muggles."
"Oh, excellent! Wait a minute? You killed muggles? You must have been on the Dark Lord's other team. Wasn't that a brilliant strategy to split us up and wreck such terror on them?"
"Other team? Oh, yeahhhh! That makes sense. A lot more sense than the idea that the Ministry has been floating, that some idiot would try to pretend to be our Master. Um. On the other hand... perhaps we're not supposed to know about each other?"
"Yeah, mentioning that we'd seen each other might be good for a Cruciatus or two. On the other hand, how about let's compare notes so we don't create more problems while we're recruiting. I was thinking about talking to Batesman over there next."
"Don't bother. What about Xathian over in the far corner?"
"He should be good. From what I've heard at the Ministry, he should be ripe for recruiting. Gileson over there?"
"Looks good to me. Wanna check back after we're done with them?"
"Sounds like a plan."
Lord Voldemort surveyed his assembled Death Eaters from his throne. "My Death Eaters. It has come to my attention that someone is out there carrying out attacks in my name, that I have not authorized. I want to know who they are. I want to stop them. After tonight's attack on Attadale, you will all do your best to find me information on this other group!"
The Aurors on duty at the Emergency Portkey Monitoring Board looked up, as a candy-cane striped light above the map started flashing and a loud klaxon started screaming. The primary operator looked closely at a marking on the board. "We have three Emergency Portkey activations in Attadale. Two from one family, one from another. Auror Thompson, go check out the two that belong to one family. They landed in Glasgow. Tomlinson, go check out the other - it landed in Liverpool. Scout Team One, both keys left Attadale. Go see what's happening there!"
Thompson apparated back to the Command Center about 10 minutes later. "It was no accidental triggering. The family reports that they're all out, but that there were at least a dozen Death Eaters that they saw mostly just blasting away. There's at least another dozen or so wizard families there, so I don't..."
Thompson's report was interrupted by the alarm once more springing to life. The operator looked things over carefully. "OK, we have a activation in Liatrie. We need a full strike team to Attadale, and one to Liatrie. Those two villages are about the closest ones to Hogsmeade and to Hogwarts. I'm sending out the scramble message to the rest of the forces. Someone go check with the end-point of that latest portkey - it went into Glasgow as well, and find out what you can!"
"Good call, Auror Smythe." A thumping sound was heard. "Reserve Auror Moody reporting for duty, and I'll take that last portkey. I'll be back very shortly. Continue bringing up the reserve forces, but keep some of them back in case we get an attack on Hogsmeade itself. In the mean time, CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" A loud crack was heard as Moody apparated away.
"Who does he think he is, taking charge like that?" one of the Aurors waiting to go to Attadale asked.
"That, my friend, was Retired Auror First Class Alastair Moody, probably one of the three greatest Aurors to hit the streets. He's rather paranoid, but considering he actually does have a lot of enemies, it's justified. Now, we're all ready - let's go." The team of a half-dozen Aurors grabbed the hubcap that had been hastily made into a portkey, and with a tap of the team leader's wand, they vanished to Attadale. Just seconds later, a second team of a half-dozen vanished with their similar portkey to Liatrie.
As soon as both teams arrived, they looked around, and saw their prey. Quick flicks of wands sent stunner spells flashing through the night at the Death Eaters. However, as the first few dropped, they disappeared.
"Shelby! Get an anti-portkey charm set up, and get on the two-way mirror with the Command Center to tell them to drop people just outside of it. It would be really nice to get a few prisoners!
As Shelby started chanting the first few syllables of the anti-portkey charm, a voice was heard echoing over the town. "Return to base, my Death Eaters! We're done for now!" The Dark Mark flew out of a wand, and started illuminating Attadale in a sickly green light.
Events followed almost exactly the same path in Liatrie, except that the anti-portkey caster finished the charm just as the last Death Eater activated his portkey. There was no way to tell for sure who the legs and hips belonged to, but it was not likely they would have to worry about the head and chest. What remained of the body looked like it had been ripped loose from the rest by brute force.
Moody apparated back into Command Center. "How are things going?"
The communications Auror looked up from his mirrors. "When the strike teams got there, the Death Eaters taken out by the first wave of stunners vanished as soon as they were stunned. We presume by portkeys. The Attadale team didn't manage to get an anti-portkey charm up in time to stop the rest from leaving, but the Liatrie team almost managed it. They've got the bottom half of one of the Death Eaters. We have Repair and Obliviation teams, as well as Forensic teams, dispatched to both sites, and Auror Shacklebolt reports he'll be in within 15 minutes to start the after-action review. Fortunately, it seems it was a quick scare strike tonight, as all of the known actions have been so far."
Shacklebolt walked into the Command Post. "Everyone who actually dispatched out tonight, I want you to meet up in the Dahlbert Room for the review in 20 minutes. You two on the panels, I've got replacements coming in to cover for you so you can be there as well."
As the scout and strike teams came back, they filed into the designated conference room. There, they made notations on notepads in front of the, and those notations were transferred to a map on the wall. Each showed where the Death Eaters they had seen were located, who they had fired at, and anything else they had noticed of import. The location of the Dark Mark above each village was already noted, but guesses as to where it had been launched from were annotated as well.
"Listen up, men! It looks like we did everything right tonight, so far, so I'm proud to see that. Auror McPherson, you were at the monitoring board. Start your report."
"Yes, Sir! At 21:17, we got the first signal of an Emergency Portkey usage. It was immediately followed by two more, so closely that distinguishing which was which was impossible. Two of the portkeys belonged to members of the Bainbridge family. The other portkey belonged to a wizard named Fredrick Preston. I dispatched Auror Thompson to Glasgow, and Auror Tomlinson to Liverpool to interview the escapees immediately. As well, I dispatched a scout team to Attadale perform the initial evaluation.
"Auror Thompson returned at 21:24, and was reporting when the alarms went off for the Emergency Portkey usage in Liatrie. Judging that two separate strikes were extremely unlikely to be accidents, I immediately dispatched full strike teams to both locations. As soon as I had done so, Reserve Auror Moody came in, and elected to investigate the second portkey to Glasgow. He ordered me to continue bringing up the reserves, but to keep most of them on hand in case of an attack on Hogsmeade. I'm not certain when Auror Moody returned, because by that time the strike teams had reported in, and were preparing to return."
Kingsley stood up. "Good report. Now, let's hear from the rest of you." As Shacklebolt pointed at people, they gave their report on just what they had seen and learned. After they had all given their comments, he sent them off to get checked very quickly by the medical staff, then to write up the appropriate parchment reports. Once that was done, he expected they'd be done with their shifts, so he told them to go home and get some sleep. He spent the rest of the night reviewing their reports, and the reports of the Repair and Obliviation squads, and the Forensic squads.
Harry walked into his office. "Good morning, Violet!"
"Good morning, Sir. Auror Shacklebolt will be here in about 10 minutes to brief you on last night's events."
"Thank you. Send him in as soon as he gets here." Harry walked to his desk, sighed, and looked down at his daily schedule. There it was. At 15:00, he was to meet with the wee witches and wizards about something. He started going over the paperwork waiting in his IN box, trying to get some of the simpler things out of the way quickly.
A light rapping on the door alerted him to Shacklebolt's presence. "Come in!"
"Sir, I have the reports on last night."
"I figured. Let's hear the news."
"Nothing much, once more. At about 21:30 last night, emergency portkeys going off alerted the Aurors to an attack in Attadale. Normal dispatch procedures took place until a second alarm arose in Liatrie. Both are small villages. The only thing of note about each is that they're two of the closest settlements to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. This, of course, made Auror Moody rather paranoid when he showed up."
"Like that's anything new. Go on."
"He really doesn't change, does he? When the second alarm went up, the dispatcher decided not to wait for the scout team, but to go ahead and send full strike forces out to each, and to call up the reserves. Moody told him to hold the reserves in case a third strike, possible at Hogsmeade itself, took place. A rather sensible precaution, I would think.
"When the teams got there, they immediately tried to stun as many Death Eaters as they could, but as soon as they were stunned, they were portkeyed away. The teams then started raising anti-portkey charms, but they were too late. The Liatrie team only managed to collect half of one Death Eater.
"As usual, the Forensic teams didn't find much, and the Repair and Obliviate teams got everything under control. Right now, the spell signature specialists are working over the new information they got. So far, they think they've identified 12 Death Eaters that seem to only work with one group, and 8 Death Eaters that only work with the other. Both groups have about two dozen wands that they swap around at random. That's a standard technique for making our work harder, since the spell signature is a combination of a wand signature, and a wizard's own personal signature. Since they tend to only use high-power spells not needing a lot of precision, they can get away with it.
"However, there are two signatures they can't quite figure out. One from each group. In these cases, they can't seem to separate it into a wand signature, and a wizard signature. They have no clue what's going on, but they're working hard on it. Signature splitting is delicate work, and it's a rare talent that's good at it. We have our best, though, working hard on it."
"That sounds good to me, Kingsley. I can't see anything else you could be doing. One thing crossed my mind, though, while you were reporting. Are anti-portkey charms a good idea, since they would prevent the emergency portkeys, and the Auror portkeys from working?"
"Actually, that is a concern. I'll have to see what we can do about that. Perhaps the Unspeakables could do some research, and see if they can come up with a spell to neutralize any portkeys on a perpetrator? Then we could hit them with that, then banish a portkey for the ministry holding cells onto them."
"Good idea. I'll schedule a meeting with them about it later. Maybe I can get that meeting with the wee wizards and witches postponed."
Kingsley laughed. "It seems like every time I come in here, you have some really strange meeting scheduled for the afternoon."
"I know. I've considered having you appoint someone else to keep me up to date, but with my luck, that won't do any good."
Harry and Hermione flooed into Grimmauld Place about 9:30 that Saturday morning. Meeting them was the Weasley clan, Dobby and Winky acting as babysitters for the children, Dumbledore, Remus and Tonks, Sirius, Hermione's parents, and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Harry had decided to let him in on the horcrux hunt as he was the lead investigator in the attacks that had been going on, and as it seemed to be Voldemort supports carrying out the attacks, it was hoped he might find clues to any horcruxes.
The first matter of the day was bringing Kingsley up to speed on the situation. They reviewed everything, including the discovery of the locket, remembering the diary, and what they had subsequently found out from Professor Slughorn. Then Hermione took over.
"Normally, when a horcrux is made, the dark wizard's soul is split in half, and a ritual we believe is used to place it into an item. The item being used to store the horcrux must be prepared ahead of time, with another ritual. Obviously, Voldemort modified the ritual when he prepared his.
"The basic arithmagical calculations on the class of ritual that has to be used is complicated, but with the help of Professor Vector and some of the Unspeakables, I was able to verify that under no circumstances could a soul be split into more than 7 pieces. We may presume that either Voldemort made the same discovery, or that he simply planned to use 7 pieces in the first place because of its magical power.
"This means that there are possibly 6 horcruxes out there, because one piece had to remain with his body. The soul-piece in a horcrux is essentially dormant until it is given a new body to take over. That is, in part, why Voldemort had to keep possessing bodies during his time in Albania, and why he possessed Quirrell. He had to stay active to be able to take over a new body. However, it's obvious he had his eye long ago on taking over Harry, both because Harry had defeated him the first time around, and because Harry, even in his first year, obviously had an enormous reserve of magical power.
"Now, two of those horcruxes are accounted for - the diary, which has been destroyed, and the locket, which we're holding for experimentation. Studying Tom Riddle's life, I've found that he liked to take trophies of his conquests; that's one of the reasons for his use of the Dark Mark. The first dark wizard in recorded history to use one, it is his way of saying 'this is my property'.
"My next step was to look for other things he might have used. His diary was one of his first, in fact I think it was his first. Studying the locket, though, I determined that it is in fact an heirloom of one of the Founders - no bonus points given for guessing which one. I then started looking for other possible Founder artifacts. I found two possibilities for the Lady Hufflepuff - a pair of goblets, and a drop-spindle that was used to make the magical cords used in many of the warding rituals around Hogwarts.
"As for Godric Gryffindor, we have the obvious Sword currently hanging in the Headmaster's office, and it's widely believed that the Sorting Hat originally belonged to Gryffindor, though I can find no real verification of that. They don't matter, anyway, as Professor Dumbledore has already checked them with the Horcrux Detection spell, and they're not horcruxes.
"There's one other possible artifact for Salazar Slytherin, a staff he is said to have used in a number of rituals. This staff may or may not still exist, some sources say it was burnt out in a ritual, others say it wasn't, and in both cases, nothing says it was completely destroyed. Most frustratingly, I can find no potential artifacts so far for the Lady Ravenclaw."
Harry stood up. "The Unspeakables have found nothing yet on any long-distance way to detect horcruxes. There's no consensus among the Unspeakables on whether or not the old Prophecy about me applies, nor have any new ones been identified. Frankly, until something changes, it looks like we're stuck. We can go on looking for those relics, but who knows when we'll find something."
"There is one lead, Harry, on one of the relics" Hermione said. "Shortly after leaving Hogwarts, Riddle took a job at Borgin & Burkes. There, he was assigned a job involving the goblets I mentioned as maybe belonging to Helga Hufflepuff. If so, he might have claimed she wouldn't sell them, then stolen them and covered up the theft by killing the woman who had them. I think that death and the possible theft needs to be investigated more carefully."
Shacklebolt looked up. "I'll get a small team looking into it. I can't shake too many people loose, because we're having to cope with these new attacks." Shacklebolt got a strange look on his face. "What happens when someone takes one of these horcruxes in hand? From the sound of the experience with Ginny, just touching them doesn't activate them."
Harry thought for a minute. "I know I didn't find anything special about the diary until I actually wrote in it. Ginny, is that how it worked for you?"
Ginny looked down at the table. "Yes. And then when I picked up that locket, it seemed to be OK until I very stupidly put it around my neck!"
"Hey, hey! You got careless. That's been known to happen to a few others of us. You do need to be more careful, but it's quite understandable! And I think your experience with the diary helped give you the strength to resist the locket when you put it on. The locket is almost certainly one of his later creations, so I suspect the soul piece in it is a good bit stronger than the one that was in the diary."
Harry continued "And what if you hadn't put it on, and we had just destroyed it? We wouldn't have known that there might be more of these out here, and Voldemort might rise once more!"
Shacklebolt got a stricken look on his face. "What if one of those horcruxes has been found, and someone has been taken over by Voldemort's soul?"
"That's a pretty big stretch. After all, these attacks started about the time we discovered the possibility of a horcrux. Two coming to light at the same time does stretch the bounds of coincidence." Professor Dumbledore chimed in as the eternal optimist.
Shacklebolt sighed softly. "Still..."
Harry looked at him. "I will admit it's a possibility, and one I'll ask the Unspeakables to see if there's some way to check on. I certainly hope that's not the case! The last thing we need is another Voldemort running around!"
Harry looked around. "Anyone got any new ideas how I can get the public in on this search without causing a major panic? The longer these things are out there, the more likely someone will find one and find some way to make use of it. Hermione, do you think we should bring some of the Hogwarts Professors in on the research end of this? Perhaps Professor Vector and Professor Glyph for their knowledge of arithmancy and runes?"
"Frankly, Harry, if we can come up with some way to make sure they keep things quiet, then yes, I could use the help on the spell research. Soul magic is something that is very seldom written about. I've been researching Dementors, as they seem to be embodiments of soul magic. I'd also like Professor Flitwick's help. As much as I like Professor McGonagall, I can't see a lot of use for transfiguration magic in this, so I reluctantly have to say she should be kept in the dark - unless you think we need to bring her in, Professor."
"She is the Deputy Headmistress, and I might be needed to help out from time to time on this research and in handling the traps Voldemort set up to protect his horcruxes. I don't doubt young Minister Potter couldn't simply over-power most of the traps, but at the same time, he is the Minister, and he might not be available to help out. I think those four should be sufficient, though."
"Another thought, Headmaster. Perhaps you could get us permission to visit the libraries at Durmstrang and Beaubatons?"
"I think I can do that, Hermione. Both are fairly careful about just where they are located, so you'll probably have to floo there from my office. I'll contact Madame Maxine and Headmaster Badinov to make those arrangements first thing Monday.
"Thanks, Professor. I know their libraries aren't as extensive as Hogwart's, but they may have a few tomes that we haven't seen before. At this point, I'm getting pretty desperate."
Ron, who had been fairly quiet so far, spoke up. "I think we all are."