Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Harry Potter and the Aftermath


by RyanJenkins 0 reviews

One valuable discovery leads to another, and this time it's beyond price.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Drama - Characters: Harry,Hermione,Ron - Published: 2016-09-21 - 4527 words - Complete



“Bingo.” I didn't realize I had said it aloud until Ron turned his head and looked perplexed. “Sorry. I should have said 'tally-ho!' If that space isn't full of gold, I'll eat whatever is in it.”

“You think?” Ron grinned.

“Holiday must have been standing top of it the whole time he was in there!” marveled Harry.

“Yeah,” I agreed, “and telling him about that would probably qualify as 'cruel and unusual punishment' under the United States Constitution. So let's make sure and do that over here.”

“That's not really fair, you know,” observed Hermione. “It's probably unplottable and protected by the Fidelius charm, as we said. There's no way he could have detected it. Still, he isn't exactly the sharpest quill in the packet, is he?”

“No,” agreed Bill judiciously, “but he was apparently smart enough to avoid becoming a Death Eater.”

“Unless they were smart enough not to take him,” pointed out Ron.

“All right,” said Harry. “We seem to have found what we came after, but how are we going to get to it? The Secret-Keepers are dead, aren't they?”

“Are they?” I was wondering. “Let's see – Holiday obviously isn't one of them. According to him, Fangboner would have been Primary Secret-Keeper, and Joey must have been a Secondary, if he killed Fangboner; he wouldn't have gone that far if it would have locked him out.”

“No, he wouldn't. That's clear enough,” Harry thought a moment, “if Holiday can be believed. He could have done for Fangboner himself, and tried to push the blame off on Joey.”

“I don't think so,” objected Hermione thoughtfully. “Holiday didn't seem concerned about blame – after all, he admitted killing Joey, didn't he?”

“Not in so many words,” I replied, “but he did say that Joey was suddenly taken all over dead while he was 'encouraging' him to talk. As confessions go, that's close enough for government work. Harry, I think you're right: here were two Secret-Keepers, and they're both dead.”

Bill lifted a finger, and said, “Hang on, wasn't there a third fellow? Wright?”

“Damocles Wright,” I confirmed, “Fangboner's deputy. But he was relatively new, and it looks like Joey and Fangboner had a long head start on their embezzling before Wright arrived. Somehow I don't think they would have happily cut him a piece of their pie, or trusted him as a Secondary. Besides, I suspect we know what happened to Wright.”

“We do? Oh! I see what you mean.” Harry is quick on the uptake.

“Yeah. I think it was his arm we found sticking out of that trap door on Mount Street. Process of elimination. Now we know that Joey wasn't in there, so it's odds-on that he set off that bomb; since he must have known it didn't explode, he must have croaked Fangboner before that, or he wouldn't have been sure he was dead.”

Hermione was nodding as I talked. “Yes. And the fellow at the trap door wasn't a corpse – I mean, he obviously died trying to escape.”

“All that makes good sense,” said Harry, “but it's not actually proof, you know. We don't have any of those three bodies, and probably won't get them. Still, it's good enough to be going on with, I think – although we'll list them officially as 'missing, presumed dead.' But that brings me back to my original question: if the Secret-Keepers are all dead, how do we defeat the Fidelius Charm and get into the vault?”

Bill frowned, and said, “I know a couple of things we can try – we're actually in a good position, since the problem usually is to find the location in the first place. But what I've got in mind will take a bit of time. I think we'd do well to consult Jamie first. And I'd like to send an owl to Professor Flitwick, too. D'you suppose the, ah, vault will be safe enough if we leave it for a bit and come back another night?”

Everybody looked at me. “Well...I guess so. The only danger would be from a Secret-Keeper, and I can't think who that would be. After all, it's been sitting there this long...we think.”

“Would it help if I had Abner make an official-unofficial visit to his friend here, and keep an eye on things? Shouldn't be long. Now that we know where it is, we'll just push on until we've got the job done. What d'ye think, Bill, back here in two or three days?”

“Four at most, I should think.”

“Thanks, Harry, I really would feel better if someone was keeping an eye on the trove, or alleged trove. But look, before we leave, there's something else I'd like to try.” Harry cocked his head at me in polite inquiry. “Remember what happened when we looked at old Ignotus Peverell's gravestone?”

“You mean that vibration that started up? Yes I do.”

“What vibration? You mean he was turning over in his grave?” Ron looked alarmed.

“No, nothing like that, unless he was making quite a lot of revs!” laughed Harry. “If there'd been traffic on the road, I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but of course there wasn't. And it stopped as soon as we stepped back. Ryan, have you got some idea about what it was?”

“Not exactly. But since we've seen the scan, thinking back, it seems to me that the vibration might have been coming from that – vault, or whatever it is, under here.”

“That's odd,” said Hermione. “Harry and I were here last Christmas, and we stopped in front of the Peverell stone for some little time. Dug away the snow a bit, in fact. But I didn't feel any vibration. Did you, Harry?”


“Huh, I didn't realize that. So...what was different this time?” I looked back and forth at Harry and Hermione, who pursed her lips and wrinkled her brow.

“Well, that was winter, it's summer now...and I was with Harry, instead of you, Ryan.”

“Don't see how that makes any difference.”

“No, I can't either.” If you can be annoyed and preoccupied at the same time, that's how she looked.

“I was just thinking that – you know, Harry is a direct descendant, aren't you, Harry?”

“Yeah, I think I must be. I inherited the Cloak from my Dad, when all's said.”

“I'd been thinking that somehow the spell recognized you as a family member...but why that didn't happen last Christmas has me stymied. You'd think--”

“I know! I've got it!” For a moment I imagined Hermione was going to raise her hand, as if she were back in class and the Prof had just asked a tough question. “When we were there last time, you weren't yourself, Harry!” She turned to me. “We had both taken polyjuice potion, and we were disguised as elderly Muggles.”

“That's right, I'd forgotten.” Now Harry turned to me. “So you think I should go out and try that again, see what happens?”

“Why not? Might be nothing, but it won't take long, and right now we've got a full team on hand, including obliviators, if it does turn out to be something...uhh...interesting...” I'm sure everyone was thinking some British-language version of what I was thinking: What with all those unidentified hexes and jinxes, this could get way more interesting that we expect, real fast. Or maybe just Here we go again!

Kenji packed up the computer and followed the rest of us outside. The moon was high in the sky and it was almost as bright as day. Harry called Orderic down with a discrete shower of yellow sparks from his wand, and told him what was up. Then, with the rest of us following about fifteen feet behind, he made his way into the graveyard and stood in front of Ignotus Peverell's headstone.


“There were two of you,” Hermione whispered. “Ryan, go stand with him.” So I did.


Harry and I looked at each other, and I had a thought. “Harry, there was one other thing. You were wearing...”

“...the Invisibility Cloak. Ignotus's share of the Deathly Hallows. Right.” He pulled the cloak out of his robes and threw it over his head....and as he vanished, the vibration started.

We stayed there, and I decided to make an experiment – I muttered “stay here,” and backed away as we had done before, but this time the vibration continued. It did seem to be coming from the direction of the buried vault, and it got steadily stronger. After a little while we started to hear a very low-pitched rumble, which got louder and became mixed with the sound of stone grating on stone. Ignotus's headstone suddenly moved – it rocked a little, and then started sliding down into the ground like a piece of bread going into the toaster.

“Blimey! Zombies!” Ron's voice from behind me was breathy and nervous, but Hermione's equally soft reply was merely exasperated: “Oh, please! Do be quiet.”

When the top of the headstone disappeared, a rectangle of lawn behind it sort of lit up. The vibration and the sounds rose to a muted climax and stopped. The rectangle split down the middle of the longer axis, and both halves fell in, as though hinged along the outside.

The moonlight revealed a stone staircase, going down into the ground, right toward the buried vault. We all stared at it, and then Harry's voice came.

“Stay here, everyone. I'm going to nip down and have a look.”

“Harry, wait!” Bill spoke urgently. “We should check this out first. It could be very dangerous.”

“It opened up for me, and I think it'll be all right – for me at least. In any case, I'm in charge, and I'm giving myself stay where you are, all of you!” His voice started to fade a bit and I could hear his grin as he said “It's good to be the king, you know!”

All this seemed to me like it had taken hours, but afterwards it turned out Hermione had the presence of mind (and the pocket watch) to time the whole business. She says it took about fifty-five seconds for the stairway to open up, but only about twenty seconds to close.

And after a couple of minutes, while I was wondering if Harry had seen any Mel Brooks movies, that's just what it did, but faster. The vibration and noise returned, the halves of the rectangular door swung back up, the glow died, and the headstone slid back up into place.

“Harry!” Bill called out, still speaking softly. There was no answer.

“You there, mate?” Ron was louder. Still no response.

After a breathless few seconds, Hermione said “Oh, Harry!” and we were all talking at once, trying to keep our voices down but getting louder anyway. This went on for some minutes. I was trying to shush them, but the only one I was officially in charge of was Kenji, and he was the only one not saying anything. Then Orderic came down in a rush and landed beside us, which got everyone's attention. He made a pressing-down gesture with both hands, and spoke in a whisper:

“Keep it down, will you? We've got some lights coming on in a few cottages. Dawn'll be here in an hour, it's time we were going.” He looked around. “Where's Harry?” We all tried to answer his question at once, and his face snapped into a grimace, his hands flashed that gesture again, and he said “Shush!” in a tone of whisper that stopped us all instantly.

I raised a finger, and whispered, “Harry opened up a staircase, leading down to that vault. He went down for a look-see, and it closed up on him.”


“We're waiting,to see if he comes back.”

Orderic inhaled deeply, looked at the group, and said in a low tone, “If you lot aren't out of here right soon now, the village'll be waking up, and my lot'll be here for hours, a whole day most like, straightening people out.”

Bill cut in quickly but quietly. “He's right. Let's leave one person here. Harry's got the Cloak, and the two of them can use it together. The rest of us – wait!”

He stopped because the vibration had started again. Orderic felt it and looked around, and I leaned into him and whispered “It's opening again. Watch the headstone.” The process unfolded as before, and when the door in the ground fell open, I held my breath again.

“It's all right, don't worry.” Harry's voice started out with a bit of an echo or reverb effect on it, as he came up the stairs, and then it was in the open, clear and direct, coming closer. “Sorry about that. Didn't mean to let it close, and it took me a moment to figure out what happened. I'll tell you all about it—-” Suddenly he was standing in front of us, folding up the Cloak. “-- after we get back. Orderic! Ready to go then? Good job.”

As he took off the Cloak, the vault started to close up again, and Harry turned to watch. After the headstone was back in place, looking like it hadn't moved in centuries, he turned back to us. The suppressed excitement in his voice had gotten everyone's attention, and the eagerness in his face was electric.

“Lets be off!” We left Godric's Hollow like a fighter squadron scrambling, and hardly talked at all until we had Apparated back to London and were back in Harry's office at the Ministry. When we got there and flopped gratefully onto the furniture, it actually took as a couple of minutes to notice that Bill wasn't with us, but before we could do more than state the fact, the door opened and in he came.

“Stopped off to order up some coffee, and a bit of breakfast,” he said cheerfully. This got him an immediate round of applause, to which he responded with a deep theatrical bow before collapsing into a chair.

“Brilliant, Bill,” said Harry. “Service above and beyond the call. I'll write you up for an M.B.W.E.” This got a laugh from the Britishers, while Kenji and I looked at each other, shrugged, and turned our palms up.

“Member of the British Wizarding Empire,” explained Ron, chuckling. “It's one of the honors the Queen gives out every year on the Wizarding Honors List at Halloween, but it's the lowest one, and they give MBWE's out by the boatload. It is an honor and all that, but, well – bit of a joke, really. We used to say you could get one for cleaning up after your dog on the street in front of Parliament. Haven't you got anything like that in America?”

“Not exactly. The closest thing is probably the awards for advertising. But they're not always given out by a queen.” Kenji laughed aloud, but the others just chuckled politely and I shook my head. “Take too long to explain. Wait'll you visit America, you'll see.”

“Well, I'm tired of waiting to hear what you found in that vault, Harry!”

“Pretty amazing, Hermione. But now that I've got the thought in my mind, I'd really like a coffee first. Bill, how long is that likely to take? Come to think of it, where did you go to order up this time of the morning?”

“Only place I could think of,” Bill began, but he was interrupted by three imperious knocks on the outer door and Molly Weasley's voice.

“Where are you lot, then? Hallooo!”

“Back here, mum!” Bill jumped up and ran out and in a moment Molly, Ginny, and Arthur followed him into Harry's office, each shepherding a collection of floating coffeepots, cups, saucers, silverware and such with their wands. After everything had been settled down on Harry's desk (he hurriedly lifted all the stacks of paper with his wand, and plastered them up on the ceiling with a holding charm) and we had all gotten a steaming cup in our hands, Molly bustled around the room with a hug and kiss for everyone, even Kenji (when he was introduced) which surprised him – that is, all except Harry, who only got a kiss on the top of his head because Ginny was sitting in his lap.

“Now,” said Molly, “eggs and bacon be all right for breakfast?”

“You haven't started cooking yet?” I asked.

“No, Bill came in like a young whirlwind, he did, woke us all up and said you lot'd been up all night and needed coffee, 'on an emergency basis,' if you please!”

“Perfect! The three of you – well, the two of you, find a seat and grab a cup. Harry's found something and is going to tell us what it is, but he said he really needed coffee first. If we wait for breakfast, there's a good chance that Hermione, and maybe two or three more of us, will explode from curiosity.”

“Found something?” Arthur looked at me. “Did you find the American gold?”

“Well, yes, at least we think so. But this is something else.”

Harry told Arthur and Molly about the vault under the church, and embarrassed me all to hell by going on about how it was only due to my brilliant inspiration that we found the way in. I resolved to have a word with him about all that, but later, because now that we had him talking I was as eager as anyone to hear the rest. Ginny kissed Harry on the forehead and moved over to a chair next to his. She accepted a cup of coffee from her father, a bit absently, and like the rest of us, her eyes were on Harry as he set down his cup and spoke.

“Well, the moonlight didn't reach all the way down the stairs, it must be thirty feet or more underground, so I had my wand lit when I reached the bottom. There's a door, made of wood with iron hinges, but it just swung right open as I approached. It was completely silent, the hinges didn't make a bit of noise. The vault itself is smaller than I thought, maybe eight feet by ten inside. The computer showed it as perhaps double that, any idea why?”

“Really thick walls?” I guessed.

“We may have been looking at the outer extent of the protective spells,” Kenji offered thoughtfully. “Interesting.”

“Well, be that as it may, it's all made of stone except the wood in the door. There wasn't much in the place, actually. Just a stone table, carved out of a single piece it looked like. The legs look like those columns in the old Roman ruins, fluted vertically and with ornate capitals at the top and bottom. On the table...” he paused, and everybody sort of leaned forward. “...I found two things, and here they are.” From inside his robes, he pulled out a small box of polished wood. (When we measured it later, it was a little under ten inches long, exactly six inches wide, and almost four inches high. Hermione said excitedly that it was a “golden rectangle” and when we all looked blank, she rolled her eyes and added, “Didn't any of you pay attention in Arithmancy?”)

Harry set the box on the desk, reached into his robes again and extracted an envelope, which had been torn open, and held it up.

Written across the front, in flowing script, was Harry Potter.

We all gasped, in unison. Molly and Ginny covered their mouths; the guys all just let their jaws drop.

“Of course I opened it. Trying to read it with the Cloak on was rather awkward, though, and I slipped it off. That's when the thing closed up, and I am sorry I gave you all such a fright. I didn't realize what was happening, I think because the door must have silently closed behind me, probably first off, and the noise and vibration didn't penetrate the chamber. At any rate, I was utterly fascinated by the letter, because it's from my father.”

That completely stunned us all, and even the girls just sat there open-mouthed. I can only imagine how Harry must have felt – well, actually, no, I can't, but you know what I mean. No wonder he didn't notice the vault close up. Ginny put down her coffee, got up and stood behind Harry, putting her hands on his shoulders. Without taking his eyes off the envelope, he reached up and covered her right hand with his for a moment. Then he pulled three or four sheets of parchment from the envelope and said, “Let me read you the beginning.” He cleared his throat, and began:

Dear Harry, if you are reading this letter it's because I haven't been able to bring you here and tell you about the Peverell family vault in person. I certainly intend to do so, when you're old enough, but things are pretty uncertain right now, because of a bad Wizard whose name I won't mention. If you do read this, you'll know what I'm talking about.

My father brought me here when I was twelve. He told me that our ancestor, Ignotus Peverell, either built this vault himself, or possibly found it here and converted it to his own use. He certainly put down all of the oldest concealment and protection spells, and one family story has it that he got his brother to help him, using the Elder Wand. By now, I'm sure you must know the story of the three brothers and the Deathly Hallows from Beedle the Bard, just like I did when I first came here.

The vault only opens to a direct descendant of Ignotus. I am one, and so are you, and someday, so will your children be. But mark this: you have to be within ten feet of the entrance, and you must be wearing the Invisibility Cloak, which was Ignotus's personal Hallow, for the vault to open. If you take off the Cloak inside the vault, it will close up and lock you in. Just put the Cloak back on when you want to get out.

Harry stopped reading and looked up. “I was so intent on the letter that I kept on reading, and it was only when I finished that I looked round, saw the door had shut, and thought about you lot, standing around watching the vault close up with me inside. So I put the Cloak back on and sure enough, in a bit the door swung open and the steps were there again. Didn't mean to frighten you.”

“No worries, mate.” Ron said what was in all our minds. “I think it's pretty amazing you thought of us that quick, really. I mean, a letter from your Dad! Must have rocked your world. Well go on then, what else does he say?”

“I'm not going to read the whole thing. He cautions me to only visit the Vault in the dead of night, because nobody in the village even knows it exists. Then he says that all the family money and valuables were kept there, up until modern times. It was his Grand-dad who finally decided that using Gringott's was safe enough, and a lot more convenient, I'd guess.”

Harry put the letter down and picked up the box. “But there was one exception to that, and it's this. The letter tells how to open it, and again, I'm the only one who can.” He tapped the box with his wand, and the lid lifted. It was hinged on the long side; the workmanship was so fine that the crack between top and bottom hadn't been visible at all. Inside was a cloth lining that looked like silk, a faint cream color, and arranged in an oval on the lining were twelve deep red jewels, gleaming and glinting. I noticed they stayed in place regardless of how the box was situated. Harry propped the box up on his coffee cup, so we could all see them, and picked up the letter. “Here's what he wrote about the box,” he said, and read:

...the box contains the Peverell Rubies. They have quite a story behind them, and some day I'll tell you the entire tale. They were brought to Britain a very long time ago, even before the Romans came. Some say they came from King Solomon's mines, but another story is that they come from the Orient, perhaps India or China. Wherever it was, they were shaped by a very great Wizard or Witch, who gave them permanent magical powers.

These rubies have a very powerful spell on them, which is actuated by the presence of true love. Please understand, they are nothing at all like a 'love potion.' They cannot create love, or the semblance of love, where none exists. But when you find the right person, the girl who becomes your one-and-only, as your Mother is for me, give her one of these. As you move through life, the jewel will cause your love to become deeper, truer, and more mature.

When you find the box, there may be fewer than twelve rubies, but do not worry about that. Both my Father and my Grandfather gave rubies to their dearest friends, and I plan to do the same, whenever Sirius Black decides to get married. Your Mother and I each wear one in our wedding rings, but my Mother wore hers in her engagement ring, and Dad did not wear one. It didn't seem to make any difference, because they had a lovely marriage.

The Peverell Rubies have another virtue. They cannot be lost. If stolen or misplaced, they will find their way back to their owner. And, if the love should die, or when the person who wears them dies, they come back and take their place in this box.

Harry folded the letter and set it down. Then he reached up and took both of Ginny's hands, guiding her so she stood beside him. Picking up the box, he held it open and said “Ginny, you are my one-and-only, as Dad put it, and you always will be. Please, choose one. We'll have it set however you like, but I don't want to wait another minute to give you this.” There was not a sound in the room as Ginny, her eyes brimming with wonder and love, picked out the ruby at the top of the oval. It came away easily in her fingers, and she held it cupped in her hands, looking at it, as Harry closed the box and stood.

Then their arms were around each other and they were kissing...and so were Ron and Hermione...and Arthur and Molly. Bill and Kenji and I just looked at each other and grinned, and I heard a fragment of an old song run through my mind:

Some starry night, when her kisses make you tingle

You'll hold her tight, and you'll hate yourself for being single
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