At the Potter Residence in New York, Harry and Lily were pouring over what was dozen upon dozens pieces of parchment.
“Mum, everything that I can see indicates that there is a strong quantity of dark magic coming from Little Hangleton,” remarked Harry. “In the general area of that rundown shack that the Gaunt family lived in for generations.”
“Voldemort stole the ring there from Morfin Gaunt,” responded Lily slowly, remembering. “Voldemort used his father’s death to make the ring into a Horcrux and then must have hidden it somewhere in the shack after the Ministry officials cleared out of the area.”
Harry had a pretty good idea that might have been the case, but he wanted to be entirely sure. Still, the readings around that area were of high levels of dark magic and the only thing that could generate those particular levels of dark magic would be a Horcrux. Still there was something that caught Harry’s attention when he was looking through the papers.
“Three deaths around the general area of the house over the past fifty years,” read Harry. “Two deaths were by strangulation of some sort and the third death was by severe blunt force trauma to the back of the neck. It also says the third victim’s face was nearly mangled beyond recognition. All three were Muggles it also says.”
“Muggles that no doubt found themselves unfortunate enough to stagger into their doom and had no way to defend themselves against the magical defenses Voldemort had put around the parameter of the shack to protect his Horcrux,” replied Lily. “I doubt they even made it through the front door.”
Lily sighed, going over something in her mind.
“We need to proceed with caution when we try and retrieve the Horcrux as soon as possible but its very dangerous business,” remarked Lily. “Who knows what Voldemort’s demented mind will concoct.”
“Yes, be ready for anything and with Voldemort, the word “anything” has never led to a list that each idea is more horrifying then the last,” remarked Harry. “Still, at least we know precisely where one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes is.”
“I just wish we knew exactly what we were up against, but it’s impossible to get close without going inside,” added Lily.
“Well, that’s exactly what I’m gong to do right now,” declared Harry which caused his mother to give him a surprised glance and Harry decided to elaborate. “I know where this particular Horcrux is, there isn’t any point sitting around and waiting. Every day that passes is a day that Voldemort has to gain more power, recruit more warm bodies for his plans. If the Horcrux is snatched, I’ll be a third of a way from being able to put Voldemort’s soul back together with both the locket and the ring in my possession. I mean, I need to get the remnants of the diary, the Ravenclaw Pensieve, the Hufflepuff Cup, and…that final Horcrux, the one that we don’t have any earthly idea exactly what it is.”
“We’ll worry about what that final Horcrux is when we get all of the others, Harry,” said Lily. “Of course, getting the Horcrux and putting Voldemort’s soul back together will be much easier then putting an end to Voldemort once and for all.”
“Unfortunately,” answered Harry darkly. “Voldemort will be more dangerous now once he realizes he is no longer immortal, when his anchors to immortality have been eliminated. Not, that Voldemort needs to be any more dangerous, but his desperation will make him one of the toughest battles of my entire life.”
Harry sat in thought for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was only a matter of seconds.
“There is really no point in delaying this journey,” continued Harry. “I know we were supposed to go to the Burrow this evening, but this needs to be done right now because there isn’t too much more I can be prepared. Mum, I’ll meet you and Hailey at the Burrow once I’ve disabled all the protections around the Gaunt shack and got the ring safely out of there, to back here.”
“Harry, you can’t be thinking about going after one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes by yourself. I strictly forbid it,” declared Lily in a stern voice, causing Harry to open his mouth but she quickly proceeded before Harry could retort. “If you’re going after the Horcrux, I’m going to come with you. I might be of some assistance with my past as an Unspeakable at the Department of Mysteries.”
Harry nodded in agreement, but rather reluctantly. While Harry admitted that his mother knew quite a bit more than most because of her years upon years as an Unspeakable, Harry was very reluctant to put anyone else in danger anymore then he had to. Still, Harry also had to admit that his chances to getting out alive with the Horcrux were increased with the help of his mother, then if he went in there alone with no help whatsoever.
“I do agree that if we get the Horcrux out right now, that we’ll be one step closer from ridding ourselves of the terror of Voldemort,” added Lily. “Through even with a second Horcrux of Voldemort in our grasp, it could be years yet before we get close enough to eliminate Voldemort. Not to mention, if we look at the true Prophecy and assume things will happen to the letter, there is still three more confrontations between you and Voldemort before it’s all over.”
“Fate is something that I really judge with several grains of salt,” replied Harry calmly. “I haven’t still seen that ultimate evil that the prophecy talks about. The same ultimate evil that could put the entire world in peril. A peril that is allegedly supposed to come to a height between the sixth and seventh battles. I would think that is supposed to be that evil would give some hint by now.”
“Maybe,” answered Lily in a skeptical voice. “Still, there are events detailed in the Prophecy that have definitely happened since it was given. The road to get to the final conclusion, the battle with the fate of the world in hand might not play out exactly how the Prophecy had noted, but there’s a pretty good chance that this great evil may still show up sooner then we would like.”
“I really hope not,” replied Harry barely able to repress a slight shudder. “Voldemort and to another extent, the Shredder are two problems that are enough to deal with. A third party, this great evil or whatever might be more then even I can handle.”
“That’s a bridge that the Magical World will have to cross when it happens,” said Lily. “I’m going to send Hailey ahead to the Burrow and then we’re going to Apparate just barely outside of the location of the Horcrux. “
Harry nodded before watching his mother leave the room. She would return momentarily and then the next step towards the demise of Lord Voldemort would take hold.
In her bedroom in the back of Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix Lestrange was in a rather foul and nasty mood. Most of it had to do with the fact that her nephew had already gotten it into his egotistical brain that he already had the skills to defeat Harry Potter. The truth was that young Draco didn’t have the killer instinct needed to by the followers of the Dark Lord. He held many of the same beliefs of the Dark Lord, but Draco couldn’t back up much of what he said with decisive action. At least Lucius, for all of his flaws, was capable in the art of dueling despite having the ego the size of Russia.
Lucius had taught Draco the very basics in dueling and had taught him for a few dangerous curses, but they were weak and ineffective. Draco would be blown straight off his feet if he fought Harry Potter tomorrow and the time on Draco’s life was running rather short. He had just under a year to complete the assassination of Harry Potter but a small part of Bellatrix’s brain, a part had not been ravaged by insanity, had deduced that her master had never intended Draco to be successful against Potter in the first place. Rather, the Dark Lord was using Draco as a sacrificial lamb, to test Potter, to see what the boy would and would not do.
Then again, Bellatrix doubted it was much her business to question anything the Dark Lord. She had joined the Dark Lord just before her seventh year at Hogwarts and had not looked back ever. Since Lucius Malfoy had disgraced himself into an Azkaban cell, Bellatrix was the Dark Lord’s most trusted and most valuable Death Eater. Other than, and this caused Bellatrix a great deal of resentment, Severus Snape, a man that Bellatrix suspected was nothing more then Dumbledore’s lapdog. Still, once again, Bellatrix knew without a shadow of a doubt that she had no cause in doubting the Dark Lord. The master had his reasons for everything he done.
Bellatrix did find some amount of satisfaction that unlike Malfoy and Snape, her devotion to the Dark Lord never wavered. She always stuck true to the cause, rather then crying Imperius to the Ministry or hiding behind Dumbledore like a greasy coward. She braved Azkaban rather than renounce her master.
The reason that she was sent to Azkaban in the first place was Bellatrix’s fondest memory. It was the night that she, her husband, her brother in law, and Barty Crouch Junior attacked Frank and Alice Longbottom, torturing them to the point of insanity. This attack was just over a year after the Dark Lord had began his unintended sabbatical due to the events at Godric’s Hollow. The Wizarding World had eased back into an era of peace, an era where they wouldn’t worry about Death Eaters breaking into their homes and murdering their families.
Bellatrix remembered that particular night like it was yesterday. All three Lestranges had gone underground to regroup after the Dark Lord had gone missing, plotting their next move. They were joined some time later by Barty Crouch Junior, who had only joined the ranks of the Death Eaters mere months before that night. The four Death Eaters moved slowly around the country, staying barely ahead of Ministry Aurors who were rounding up any of the Dark Lord’s followers that they could get their hands on.
Some time later, they had received word that members of the Order of the Phoenix had captured the Dark Lord, who was severely weakened from that night at Godric’s Hollow but still alive. The Lestranges and Crouch Junior knew their duty as followers of the Dark Lord would be to track down their Master and free him, before helping restore him to his former glory. The fact that they also found out that only three people knew where the Dark Lord was being held captive made their job much easier. Those three were Dumbledore and the Longbottoms.
Attacking Dumbledore would be basically suicide, so an attack was planned on Frank and Alice Longbottom to attempt to force the whereabouts of the Dark Lord out of them.
Snow fell to the ground on a chilly night in the middle part of December, outside of Longbottom Residence. A set of light pops appeared just outside the gates. A hooded, masked female figure with black hair slightly poking out from underneath the hood and mask waved her hand calmly, indicating for her three companions to join her. Looking around, the Death Eater raised her wand, before summoning the bolts from the hinges of the gate. The other two Death Eaters crept around the parameter with their wands raised. The fourth Death Eaters used a cushioning spell on the ground to nullify the noise as the gate clattered to the ground.
Mere moments passed as the other two Death Eaters returned from their stroll around the parameters.
“The wards are up Bella, we should be guaranteed at least an hour before the Ministry can soften them enough to break through,” declared one of the Death Eaters.
“Very good, let’s get this over with so we can find the Dark Lord and restore him to his former glory,” replied Bellatrix in a calm voice, before motioning for the other three Death Eaters to follow her onto the grounds.
In less than no time, the Death Eaters had reached the front door. Bellatrix lifted her wand and pointed towards the lock, opening the door with a simple unlocking charm. The four Death Eaters slipped in, but a shrill sound, nearly like a whistle echoed through the Longbottom residence.
“They must have some kind of parameter spell, they’ll know we’re here,” muttered one of the Death Eaters.
“That’s just all the better, isn’t it?” asked Bellatrix. “They’ll have to fight us and there are four of us but only two of them.”
“They’re skilled Aurors Bella,” replied another Death Eater with a slight whimper. “I thought we were going to catch them in their sleep.”
“Are you a man or are you a mouse, Rodolphus?” asked Bellatrix calmly. “An Auror on their best day couldn’t take me on my worst. I was trained personally by the Dark Lord after all.”
A jet of red light flew down the stairs, causing the four Death Eaters to scatter.
“Immobilize, do not kill them under any means,” whispered Bellatrix. “They know where the Dark Lord is being kept.”
Frank Longbottom nearly flew down the stairs, sending another spell at one of the Death Eaters but it was deflected. The Auror did not give up the fight, sending a jet of blue light at his foe. The spell engulfed the Death Eater and sent him spinning like a top, nearly crashing into a wall. Frank ducked a jet of black light, before rolling underneath and two spells flew together in mid air. The third Death Eater ducked behind Frank and sent a spell right at his back, causing Frank to lose his balance and fall to the ground. Two wands were pointed at Frank’s head but the Auror had the presence of mind to make a slashing motion with his wand.
A loud percussion sound echoed throughout the house, and the Death Eaters were knocked backwards. The third Death Eater had rejoined the fight and began to engage into battle with Frank. In the heat of battle, his mask split, revealing the face of Barty Crouch Junior. Crouch seemed to be enraged about losing his disguise and sent a three very lethal spells at Frank. Frank managed to dodge the first two and just barely conjured a solid metal shield to block the third attack. The spell sliced the shield to shreds and Frank attempted to catch Crouch off guard with a stunning spell in the confusion but Crouch avoided that attack.
Alice Longbottom had appeared at the very top step, with a horrified look on her face.
“Frank, they did something to the Floo connection to the house and they put up Anti-Apparation and Anti-Portkey wards,” said Alice frantically. “There is no way we can…”
The stairs unexpectedly shifted into a slide and Alice slid down the stairs, where she came face to mask with Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix sent a jet of purple light towards Alice but a shield appeared, managing to deflect the blunt of the curse. The curse still shredded the shield into nothingness but Alice was relatively uninjured for the moment. The Auror regained her composure and sent a jet of yellow light towards Bellatrix. The Death Eater felt a searing pain on her arm where the curse had struck as if she had scalded briefly with acid.
Bellatrix saw red and sent a black ball of flames towards Alice but the Auror ducked underneath, looking frantically over her shoulder as her husband was battling three Death Eaters at once.
“No Lily Potter here to save your skin this time, you blood traitors,” said Bellatrix sadistically, as she sent a large jet of fire towards Alice, who managed to cut Bellatrix’s attack off in midair with a jet of ice cold water. “It’s time we wrap this little duel up and get down to business.”
Bellatrix shot a set of cords from her wand, wrapping them around the arms and legs of Alice, who struggled quiet vainly against the grip. She raised her wand to attempt to slice herself free but another Death Eater levitated her wand out of her hand. The wand clattered to the ground as Bellatrix gave her wand a little jerk, causing Alice to get yanked across the room as if getting pulled by a crude fishing line.
Bellatrix whipped her wand, causing thick cords to tightly bind Alice’s arms and legs.
“Alice, hang on,” muttered Frank raising his wand and aiming his wand at Bellatrix but Bellatrix whipped her wrist, levitating Alice Longbottom in front of her as a shield and caused Frank to stop in his tracks.
“Drop the wand,” ordered Bellatrix coldly, causing Alice to rise slightly closer. “Throw it at my feet and there will be no need for your wife to get splattered all over the floor.”
“Don’t do it Frank,” hissed Alice.
“Shut it, blood traitor,” snapped Bellatrix. “Well Longbottom, this offer of kindness is only good for about fifteen more seconds, before your wife gets flung all over the room.”
Frank reluctantly bent down, setting his wand on the floor, which contradicted everything he had learned during his training as an Auror. The two Lestrange brothers stood on either side of Frank, pointing their wands threateningly at him, as Barty Crouch Junior calmly kicked the wand out of Frank’s grasp.
Bellatrix relaxed her hold on Alice, causing the woman to land on the ground, her arms and legs were still tightly bound.
“Our son Neville, he’s upstairs, he’s only two, please don’t…” said Alice in a terrified voice.
“As long as your brat doesn’t come down here and stumble upon our fun, there will be no need to kill it, Longbottom,” replied one of the Lestrange brothers in a savage, unfeeling, voice.
“What do you want with us?” demanded Frank in a hoarse voice.
“You’ll know soon but perhaps I should give you a small taster of what will happen if you refuse to hand over the information we want,” responded Bellatrix in a cool voice, before raising her wand and pointing it at Alice. “CRUCIO!”
Alice bit her lip, trying to avoid giving her torturer the satisfaction of hearing her scream in agony, but her nerve endings began to sting slightly at Bellatrix Lestrange’s assault but the curse was dropped after just a period of ten seconds.
“Now, that you’ve seen the consequences of defying us, you will tell us where the Dark Lord is being held captive,” demanded Bellatrix.
“I don’t know what in the hell you are talking about,” responded Frank in a confused voice.
“CRUCIO!” yelled Bellatrix angrily, pointing her wand towards Alice and holding on the curse just a little bit longer this time. Alice couldn’t block the effects of this curse this time and she began to scream in agony. After thirty seconds, Bellatrix dropped the curse. “Drop the charade Longbottom and tell us the location of the Dark Lord, or your wife will suffer even more.”
“I honestly don’t know what you are talking about,” repeated Frank in a confused voice. “Voldemort’s dead, anyway, he fell and…”
“CRUCIO!” screamed Bellatrix with more fury and more power, hitting Alice with the full brunt of the curse. Alice screamed at the top of her longs, her nervous system thrown out of whack along with her limbs twitching involuntarily. Her bound hands rose towards her face and looked to be seconds away from clawing out her own eyes, but Bellatrix let off the curse.
Frank Longbottom broke free from the Lestrange Brothers but Bellatrix raised her wand towards Alice’s throat.
“One more step and I end it,” threatened Bellatrix allowing her husband to shackle Frank’s arms and legs together.
“Let’s see if the little bird will sing,” declared Rabastan Lestrange with a bit of a leer, as he looked down at Alice with a creepy look from underneath his mask.
“No, not this time, this is my fun, Rabastan,” remarked Bellatrix in a threatening voice, causing her brother in law to take a step back. “Still, she might be able to blurt out something that her husband might not.”
Bellatrix bent down, pointing her wand at Alice’s head.
“Where is the Dark Lord?” asked Bellatrix, with a dangerous glint in her eyes underneath the mask.
“I can’t tell you that,” whispered Alice weakly.
“Can’t or won’t?” demanded Bellatrix in a dangerous voice.
“WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US!” yelled Alice angrily but since she was bound and couldn’t do more then yell so Bellatrix jabbed her wand towards Alice’s head, causing her to fall back and her eyes to shift to a blank, unknowing look.
“What did you do to her?” asked Frank in a horrified voice.
“Nothing lethal,” replied Bellatrix in a neutral voice. “She’ll just be nothing but a brain dead vegetable from this point on. Maybe, you should have told us where the Dark Lord was instead of lying to us.”
“Voldemort’s long gone,” replied Frank weakly. “You can kill me, but that doesn’t change anything.”
“I don’t wish to kill you, not yet anyway,” answered Bellatrix before pointing her wand towards Frank. “CRUCIO!”
Bellatrix held the curse on Frank for quite some time, making him pay for his insubordination, causing the Auror to scream in agony in a never ending stream of agony. His arms and legs struggled to pull the tight shackles free. Frank felt several of his bone snap within the struggle, while becoming less aware of the surroundings around him.
At the top of the stairs, little Neville Longbottom appeared, looking confused at the sounds coming from downstairs. He had been scared out of his room and had bravely ventured outside to have a closer look.
“Mummy!” yelled Neville, as the child slid down the stairs, diverting the attention of the Lestranges and Crouch Junior away from Frank Longbottom. The young child bent over his mother, looking a bit confused. “Mummy sleeping?”
“No, Mummy’s brain dead,” cooed Bellatrix in a sadistic voice which caused Neville to look up at Bellatrix’s skull faced mask and stepped back, looking positively terrified at Bellatrix’s horrified appearance.
“Mean lady, mean lady!” chanted Neville but the two Lestrange brothers grabbed the child by the arms, holding him in placed.
“Now, Longbottom, as you can see, we have your son so I suggest you tell us where the Dark Lord is being held,” said Bellatrix as she looked down at Frank, who had a vacant look on his face, with drool flowing out of his mouth. “Well?”
Frank’s eyes were out of focus, as drool continued to flow out of his mouth.
“Bella I think he’s gone,” declared Rodolphus in an emotionless tone.
Bellatrix pulled her mask off before ripping it off and throwing it down the ground, her black hair flipping recklessly to the side, as her eyes glared in complete rage, causing the small child to back off in terror, along with the three Death Eaters.
“No, he can’t be gone, he folded to the Cruciatus Curse way too soon, I put too much into the bloody curse!” screamed Bellatrix, looking slightly enraged about her plans being halted before growing suddenly thoughtful. “His wife being tortured into insanity must have been too much for him already, but suffering the Cruciatus must have thrown him off the edge of sanity.”
Bellatrix’s face had a blank and unfeeling look on her face, before turning towards Neville who was slumped against the wall, sobbing and looking completely scared.
“Child, you’re about to meet the same fate as your parents,” said Bellatrix, as she raised her wand and pointed it towards the two year old but before she could proceed to do the deed, a loud crashing sound was heard.
“Damn it, the wards are down,” cursed Rodolphus.
“Ministry of Magic!” barked a loud voice from the outside. “Come outside and drop your wands within the next thirty seconds or we will come in after you.”
“We should have known, all the top ranking Aurors have parameter wards around their house that alert the Ministry of Magic of any intruders,” said Crouch Junior. “My father told me as much.”
The two Lestrange brothers and Barty Crouch Junior moved quickly into the house to find a way out but Bellatrix stood in front of the whimpering child, looking like she wanted to take her aggressions out on him.
“Bella, we need to get out of here!” yelled Rodolphus from the other room.
Bellatrix paused before nodding towards the crying child.
“Have a nice life, kid,” said Bellatrix calmly before turning and departing, just seconds before the front doors broke up and a group of Ministry Aurors poured inside.
Bellatrix, her husband, and her brother in law managed to barely escape the Longbottom home on that night. Barty Crouch Junior wasn’t so lucky and thus was captured rather quickly. However, the Ministry Aurors had caught up with the Lestranges the next morning and after a fierce battle where a fair few Aurors were killed, Bellatrix, Rabastan, and Rodolphus were subdued and taken to Azkaban to await a trial. Other then the fact that they were unable to find where the Dark Lord was and restore the Master, Bellatrix had nothing but fond memories of the night where the Longbottoms went insane.
Outside of the Burrow, Hailey arrived with Harry’s Portus Amulet around her neck. She had her wand out, merely as a precaution. She had a funny feeling that someone had watched her when she appeared outside of the wards and had taken a bit of a longer route around on her broomstick to attempt to shake off any unwanted guests. The Burrow had been hidden from The Death Eaters fairly well, but some of Harry’s paranoia was beginning to rub off on the younger Potter sibling.
With her wand still in hand, Hailey knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” asked a muffled voice.
“It’s Hailey, younger sister of Harry Potter, heir to the legacy of the Marauders, daughter and Lily and James Potter, also known as Prongs,” declared Hailey. “Now open the bloody door, I think I’m being followed by someone.”
The door quickly opened as Ginny appeared on the other side, frowning.
“Sorry, but I had to check,” replied Ginny, quickly shooing her friend inside, before looking around. “Uh, where’s Harry and Lily?”
“They had some urgent business to attend to, they should be here soon,” answered Hailey.
“What kind of urgent business?” asked Ginny, who looked suddenly worried, not to mention quite apprehensive.
“They had to collect one-seventh of something, naturally,” answered Hailey, disguising the true meaning of her words just in case anyone else was listening from another room.
Ginny nodded, understanding immediately.
“You said you were being followed,” muttered Ginny in an undertone.
“Absolutely, I took a bit of a longer route to get here, skyward in fact but someone is watching the general area where this house is,” replied Hailey with a frown. “It might have been Foot Ninjas come to think of it.”
Ginny looked completely worried at this news. The Foot had broken into Azkaban, a place that had been fool proof, with the exception of the escapes of both Bellatrix Lestrange and Sirius Black. Even with all the increased wards, the fact that the Foot were lurking perilously close to the Burrow caused Ginny a great deal of concern.
The Foot thing was minor compared to the concern that Ginny felt about Harry going after a Horcrux. Even with his mother helping him and the fact that she had full faith in him, Ginny still worried of Harry’s safety. She couldn’t even begin to imagine what defenses Voldemort would implement to safeguard his soul but the possibilities were far from good. And because of experiences with the diary, Ginny also worried about the effects the Horcrux would have to anyone who came near it.
“Come on, Hailey, the others are in the Kitchen,” said Ginny in an absent minded voice, her mind still solely on Harry’s safety and hoping that he could make it to the Burrow without any lasting injury.
Outside of the run down Gaunt shack, Harry and Lily landed gracefully on their feet. Harry paused, looking around. The air had a chilly, almost foreboding quality that caused Harry to shudder and it seemed the further they moved towards the front door, the colder the air got and the darker it became.
When they stopped a few feet from the door, Lily raised her hand, indicating for her son to stop in his tracks. She studied the vines that looked to nearly be a part of the worn front door of the shack.
“Very clever, Voldemort,” muttered Lily, looking on the vines. “Something no Muggle would recognize and most witches and wizards wouldn’t think to check for Devil’s Snare on the front door of a shack either for that matter.”
“He put Devil’s Snare around the entrance,” said Harry, recognizing the plant at once. “That explains the two Muggles that were strangled. The moment they touched the front door, those infernal vines wrapped around their neck and choked them to death.”
“Crudely put, but my thoughts as well,” said Lily, raising her wand and pointing it towards the vines. Harry did the same and the two Potters had shot fire spells at the vines to subdue them.
The jets of fire began to fade when they hit a certain point and only mere sparks struck the vines. This action had the reverse of the intended effect, as the vines began to retreat off the vine and went towards Harry and Lily.
“Harry, move!” yelled Lily frantically but it was too late as more Devil’s Snare poked through the dirt out of the ground, and ensnared itself around the legs of Harry, before creeping around his body and Harry’s wand slipped out of his hand, before falling slightly out of reach. Lily found herself in a similar predicament, as the Devil’s Snare wrapped around her, body, slithering dangerously close towards her throat.
Lily relaxed her body, but she found it very hard to maintain a state of relaxation with the vines crushing her body and sweat rolling down her forehead. Harry seemed to be more adept to relaxing. His eyes were slightly shut and his breath rate seemed to slow, as if not to give the Devil’s Snare an excuse to wrap around his throat.
“Wandless magic, no good,” muttered Harry slowly, using the minimum amount of breath possible, as the Devil’s Snare had very little movement. “Voldemort obviously charmed this place to cause the effectiveness of our spells to lose power in midair.”
Lily slowly moved her arm a fraction of an inch, her wand still in her hand. This would either work well or she would be strangled to death the minute she shot off the spell. It was a chance she was willing to take.
Before Lily could shoot off a spell, her wand shot right out of her hand once the Devil’s Snare moved slightly up her arm. Lily looked on with despair as her wand, an extremely powerful wand that once belonged to Salazar Slytherin that might have been the only thing to bypass the spells Voldemort had used to enhance the Devil’s Snare, shot straight out of her hand.
All attempts to relax had been thrown out of the window as the Devil’s Snare had wrapped around Lily’s neck. After all this time, she was about to die at the vines of Devil’s Snare, a quite unspectacular death.
However, rather then her word going black and colder, the area around Lily’s body began to warm up. She flickered her eyes towards the ground to see that the Devil’s Snare that had wrapped around her was sliding down her body. As Lily looked down, she saw that the Devil’s Snare was burning quickly reducing to a pile of ash.
Lily turned her head and saw that Harry stood there, completely free from the Devil’s Snare, with her wand just barely wedged in between two fingers. Not only had Harry somehow found a way to repel the Devil’s Snare, bypassing Voldemort’s modifications but he was glowing orange.
Once the sinister plant had been turned directly to ash, the glow around Harry began to fade and one very confused Boy-Who-Lived had stood there.
“Mum, take your wand back,” said Harry, slowly handing his mother back her wand with a bit of a frightened look on his face.
“Harry, are you okay?” asked Lily in a concerned voice.
“Your wand, I caught it and it seemed to activate my mystic abilities, causing the Devil’s Snare to burst into flames,” remarked Harry slowly. “It’s almost like if instead of me using the wand, the wand was using me.”
“I’ve used that wand countless times and that’s never happened to me before,” said Lily, looking as if she was in deep though. “It did belong to Slytherin before and while he wasn’t completely evil, it’s hard to deny that he didn’t partake in some unusual experimentation.”
“I’ll be sticking with my own wand, thank you very much,” replied Harry, as he picked up his wand. “I’m comfortable with it and I really don’t like being controlled by anything wand, human, or otherwise.”
“Still, it did help you save us from being choked to death by the Devil’s Snare,” declared Lily.
“No, I did nothing, the wand was the blasted thing that saved us,” replied Harry. “All I was doing was thinking frantically about finding a way to dispose of the Devil’s Snare.”
“Maybe the wand picked up on your thoughts somehow and acted accordingly,” suggested Lily with a frown.
“That doesn’t make me feel much better,” muttered Harry darkly, before deciding to change the subject. “Since the Devil’s Snare is gone, we might as well proceed inside.”
With their wands at the read, Harry and Lily moved inside. Harry raised his wand, opening the door. A loud creaking sound echoed from above and Harry would not have been surprised at the least if that house had caved in right then and there. It was quite the dilapidated place and the aura of darkness that was prominent outside was even more so when proceeding indoors.
Surprisingly nothing strange or out of the ordinary was met as Harry and Lily moved further into the house. They reached the kitchen which was even dustier then the rest of the house. As they moved forward, a rather surprising sight greeted them.
It was the Gaunt family ring, sitting on a table, in plain sight, with no visible protection whatsoever.
“This is way too easy,” remarked Harry in a skeptical voice.
“Agreed,” whispered Lily, looking around from side to side. “Better try and summon the Horcrux Harry, just to see what will happen once the Horcrux is removed from the table.”
“Accio Horcrux,” declared Harry and his spell had flown right towards the Horcrux but the ring had vanished from sight and a cupboard off to the side of the kitchen began to rumble.
Lily beckoned her son to take a few steps back as the temperature of the room began to rise to levels only found in the topics. The cupboard sprang open and what appeared to be a half inch section of black cloak appeared.
Harry recognized the beast at once. It was a dangerous but quite rate dark creature that was only found in the tropics. It was a Lethifold, a foul beast that smothered its prey its sleep and then digests them whole, leaving them without a trace.
Harry strained, not quite remembering exactly how to repel this beast. He was certain that he read of it somewhere, but he couldn’t quite remember, something which caused him a great deal of frustration. The fact that there seemed to be some kind of fog flowing that slowly weakened Harry and made him feel rather sleepy added to the problems that plagued the Boy-Who-Lived.
Harry saw his mother was having similar problems staying away and she slowly slumped against the table, as the Lethifold seemed to sense that it would soon have edible prey. An cloud of hopelessness plagued Harry, not that much unlike the one that he suffered when he came too close to a Dementor.
Then, the only counter against the Lethifold came to Harry in a burst of unexpected inspiration.
“EXPECTO PATRONUM!” yelled Harry in a forceful voice as a bright silvery raven appeared from his wand, hovering over the Lethifold. The monster seemed to be weakened as the spell backed it into its cupboard. The fog also disappeared and Lily looked up as the fog faded from the room completely.
“Patronus Charm of course, since many think that the Lethifold is a distance cousin of the Dementor, an unconfirmed theory but one that does hold some ground,” replied Lily before a loud rumbling appeared on the ground below them. ”Now what?”
“Mum, I’m afraid we are about to have a close encounter with the undead,” said Harry, as he raised his wand and the floor cracked slightly towards the edge, causing over half of it to cave in and several pale, rotting hands to poke out from underneath.
Moments later, a group of five Inferi had risen from the ground, their undead arms stretched towards Harry and Lily. Harry raised his wand and shot a jet of fire towards the Inferi, but the undead monsters only stepped back a step forward before proceeding, with their arms outstretched. More fire curses flew towards the beasts, but it seemed that these upgraded Inferi wasn’t as easily repelled by fire as many others of their kind were.
Lily found the hand of an Inferius wrapped around her throat. Harry was off to the side, barely able to contain the attacks of three more of the undead monsters. Lily managed to twist her wand to the side and send a very powerful slicing charm towards the thighs of the Inferi. A loud ripping sound echoed as the two halves of the Inferi blasted to either side, before disappearing into oblivion.
Three of the Inferi flew backwards from a very powerful fireball that Harry managed to muster from his wand. Their bones were essentially ashes and they were no longer a threat.
The final Inferius was obviously the least decomposed of the group and grabbed Lily by the throat before throwing the witch down. It reached its hand upwards, preparing to rip her to shreds but a spell hit its back and caused the monster to spin around, before mindlessly advancing upon a new target.
Harry sent a jet of fire towards his attacker, but it only stalled it momentarily. The Inferi gripped its hands around Harry’s throat, and pushed Harry back against the wall. The beast bared its rotting teeth at Harry, maggots crawling from its mouth.
Lily looked from the cupboard to the Inferi, gaining an idea in her head. She pointed her wand towards the cupboard before levitating it into the air. The Inferi had made a motion for Harry, grabbing his ankle. Harry had pulled his blade out but he dismissed the idea rather quickly as the Inferius might not be effected when it had no flesh to slice.
The cupboard, containing one Lethifold landed on top of the Inferius, the weight crushing the monster and Harry breathed a sigh of relief but he had another question that was perplexing.
“If the Horcrux isn’t up in the shack, then where is it?” asked Harry before adding. “It has to be here, it has to be, we didn’t go through all of that for nothing.”
“Don’t worry we didn’t, Harry,” replied Lily in a reassuring voice. “The Horcrux is definitely on this property but since it’s not up here it has to be below ground”
Lily surveyed the area of the caved in floor, looking down but seeing nothing but endless darkness.
“The trouble is, I can’t see exactly how we can get from up here to down there,” replied Lily.
“Well this is Voldemort, so maybe I can just hiss stairs in Parseltongue and a stairway will appear, leading us down there” said Harry with a bit of a skeptical tone, before adding in Parseltongue sarcastically. “Stairs!”
Sure enough, a magically concealed stairway slowly appeared, causing Harry to look baffled.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” remarked Harry with a surprised expression, as he surveyed the stairway.
“Once again, way too easy,” said Lily. “Keep your wands ready Harry, I wouldn’t put it past Voldemort to lead someone down a set of stairs and into a floor made completely of quicksand or something to that nature.”
Harry nodded as he followed his mother down the stairs. The wands of both of the Potters was the only thing that had illuminated the nearly pitch black darkness. As they moved further down the stairs, they appeared in a large dungeon that seemed to be magically stretched beyond the abilities of the Gaunt shack.
In the blink of the eye, the lights from both wands went out and the dungeon was as black as night. This lasted for only seconds as the dungeon became illuminated by torches. Looking frantically from side to side, Harry discovered that walls on either side were covered in spikes.
Lily had a sense of forbidding and turned around, but the stairway that they had used to go downstairs had vanished and there was nothing.
Nothing was said as a large stone structure quickly rose from the ground, before it spun around revealing a stone statue of a snake that turned to face Lily and Harry.
“You have reached the bottom of the cavern,” hissed a voice from within the stone snake. “None can do this if they did not have the ability to speak Parseltongue. Thus far, you have proven yourself to be worthy.”
Harry stepped forward, facing the snake with an apprehensive look on his face.
“However, should you not prove yourself to be worthy, you will not proceed further,” declared the stone snake with a venomous hiss. “You are to answer a question pertaining to the Dark Lord, one that only he knows the answer.”
Harry understood the underlying meaning. This particular defense had been structured so only Lord Voldemort had the ability to proceed past this point and grab his Horcrux.
“Should you answer in error, these spiked walls will close in, crushing all that intrudes to bits,” hissed the snake. “Magic is useless, as this room was designed to keep magic from being performed.”
“That’s why our wands went out,” whispered Lily frantically.
“Now, you have but thirty seconds to correctly answer this question or you shall meet your doom,” continued the snake before proceeding without preamble. “What is the precise reason why the Dark Lord had chosen the path in life that he did?”
“Because Albus Dumbledore had lied about not knowing about Lord Voldemort’s link to Salazar Slytherin,” hissed Harry in Parseltongue, quite relieved that he knew about this particular detail of Voldemort’s life and could fool the defenses properly.
“Correct,” hissed the stone snake, before the spiked walls and the snake vanished, revealing a large glass sliding door that extended from wall to wall.
On the other side of the glass laid a pedestal. On top of the pedestal laid the real Gaunt ring and it seemed to beckon Harry forward, much like the diary had when Harry had found it after Ginny had disposed of it. This had to be the one; this had to be the real Horcrux.
“Harry, be careful, I’m not liking how accessible this thing is,” muttered Lily calmly but something seemed to tell Harry to disregard his mother’s words and raise his wand, shattering the glass.
Harry moved forward, looking at the ring and Harry felt a compulsion to move closer.
“I can see your fears,” hissed the ring and Harry blinked twice. “Yes, Harry Potter, I know that you dread the fact you cannot save them all, the fact that even your best is not good enough. I can see it all. I can also see that you desire a world where they are all safe and together we can make it happen.”
Lily saw the unnatural, unhealthy look in her son’s eyes and began to worry. As she moved closer, Lily felt the tell tale signs of an extremely powerful Confundus Charm and had put up her Occlumency barriers to block out the effects of the ring. Still, even with those precautions, she felt a slight headache. Lily saw Harry looking at the ring, nearly mesmerized by the ring.
“HARRY!” yelled Lily loudly. “Step away from the ring, it’s trying to control your thoughts.”
“Harry, listen to me, block everything else out your mind,” hissed the ring. “I can give you what you want. I can give you the end of Lord Voldemort. I can give a world where all you love and care about is safe. I can give you whatever your heart desires.”
Something told Harry that he shouldn’t proceed and take this offer, but a soothing feeling eased all of his troubles away.
“How?” asked Harry in a slightly slurred voice.
“Put me on,” replied the ring with a soothing hissed. “Once we are one, all of your troubles will disappear and it will be the end of everything.”
“HARRY NO!” yelled Lily but her son’s fingertips had already touched the wand to pick it up. Lily panicked and shot a stunning spell at Harry’s back.
The stunner didn’t knock Harry out but rather snapped him out of his dreamy state induced by the Horcrux. Harry withdrew his fingers, which were blistered from the mere contact of the Horcrux, and fell to the ground weakened.
“No, I don’t believe you,” replied Harry, who still felt a little light headed but no longer under the control of Compulsion Charm that was put on the Horcrux. “You can’t give me this things, nothing can but hard word and dedication.”
“I can give you all these things and more, Harry,” hissed the ring. “I can save your beloved Ginny from certain death, unless of course you wish for her to perish.”
“That’s enough out of you!” yelled Lily angrily, sending a jet of purple light at the ring. The ring was engulfed in a stasis field and Lily looked down at Harry. “Harry, are you okay?”
“As good as I can be expected,” muttered Harry, wincing as he nursed is severely blistered fingers. “What did you do the Horcrux to make it stop it feeding those dreadful thoughts into my mind?”
“Stasis charm,” replied Lily calmly. “I didn’t think it would work at first, but I had to do something.”
“So all the magic is there, just frozen and unable to effect anyone,” declared Harry.
“Until it wears off,” replied Lily, who tapped her wand on the ring, scanning it for any other magic. “Interesting, in addition to the obvious Horcrux and Confundus Spells, there is a third spell in the ring.”
“What is it?” asked Harry, his curiosity getting the better of him.
“A deadly curse that once the ring is put on, the curse would spread to the body to all the internal organs, shutting them down one by one, leading to a slow and quite painful death,” said Lily grimly.
“So, it was rather lucky that you were here and stopped me from putting that ring on, Mum,” replied Harry, taken aback slightly at how close he was to dying tonight, because of a simple bit of stupidity, of not using Occlumency to shut out the effects of the Horcrux. “Did you hear what it said?”
“Bits and pieces, I think because I’m also descended from Slytherin, I might be a Parseltongue, but since I’ve didn’t know for years, I haven’t had a chance to test my theory,” replied Lily calmly as Harry slumped against the wall, looking and feeling like he had a horrid case of the flu. “I know some of the language subconsciously, but not enough to speak it. Maybe if I was face to face with an actual snake, but other than that I don’t know.”
Harry nodded, that made a great deal of sense.
“I suppose since the magic in the ring is disabled, we should get it out of here and put in with the Locket,” added Lily, as she pulled out a small box, before levitating the ring of Gaunt inside the box.
At that instant, the Gaunt shack began to rumble, with the magically expanded dungeon beginning to shrink before the ceiling above them began to crack.
“Damn, the ring must have been magically holding this run down place together,” said Lily, as rubble flew dangerously close to their hands, causing mother and son to get some nasty looking scrapes and cuts, before Lily managed to blast enough of the debris out of the way. The collapse was stalled long enough to grab her weakened son by the arm and use side-along Apparition to get both him and the Horcrux to safety just seconds before the Gaunt shack had completely caved in, leaving nothing but a pile of wreckage behind.