Chapter 27 : Q (The Best One of Our Lives)
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“Yeah Hermione?” He looked up from the book he was reading.
“I think, I think I know where the last Horcrux is.”
“You do?” His voice was excited and panicked at the same time.
“Yes. But you're not going to like it.”
“Well, where do you think it is?”
“And I'm supposed to know where that is... How?”
“It’s in East Africa but it’s not the where that matters, rather it’s the what. You know how we went to a wizard house, and then you and Brett went to a wizard village? And Dumbledore said he found the ring in his family’s house, and you found the locket, or what should have been the locket, near a place he visited that has some wizarding significance?
“Well, those were all well protected. By magic, atleast. Well Mousa Ali, that’s not very important to wizards. But Hufflepuff had gone there with her husband on their honeymoon. Although why anyone would want to go there on a honeymoon is beyond me, still, they went there.”
“Ok, Hermione this information might be helpful if, oh I don’t know, you told what Mouse Ally is?”
“Mousa Ali, not 'mouse ally'. It’s, well, it’s a volcano. It’s still partly active. It doesn’t erupt or anything, it just bubbles and simmers inside. Which is where Voldemort would have hidden the Horcrux. Only he would have probably taken advantage of the natural hidden areas and passage ways, and possibly created ones himself.
“It’ll be difficult to find but destroying it should be pretty simple.”
“Well yeah, we just use the powder like we have been using.”
“Yes, you could do that Harry, but I think it would be much simpler and less likely for you to accidentally kill yourself if you do what I suggest.”
“Which is? Hermione are you sure you're ok? You seem a little out of it.”
“No, no I'm okay. You just throw it into the lava.”
“Throw the whole cup into the lava? Are you sure that would really destroy it? Because if it doesn’t destroy it then we are completely screwed over. There would be no way to get it back.”
“Yes Harry. Lava is one of the most dangerous substances on earth, that is naturally occurring. Especially for wizards. You see, Muggles can survive it if they are spattered with a few drops. It simply burns through their skin and hurts them, a lot.
“But that powder that Brett has, that powder is mainly dried lava simply ground up. It has another ingredient in it to cause the whole slow part, but the painful part is all the lava.
“The whole ‘get any on your skin and it burns you from the inside out after spreading through your bloodstream’, that’s all the lava.”
“How in the world does lava do anything like that Hermione? Sure, I understand it burns people, and it can kill people very easily. But how can Muggles survive ‘spatters’ but wizards can't survive a drop?” Harry asked, completely intrigued.
“Harry, lava is a magical substance. It destroys the magic in your blood and bones, and since Muggles possess no magic at all, they won't necessarily die from a little bit touching them.”
“So basically I have to make sure I never ever touch even a microscopic drop of lava? Well, how exactly do we get the Horcrux? I mean, if it’s all bubbly, then doesn’t that mean that some of it will spill over onto where we have to walk in the volcano? Ok that just sounds weird, who walks around in a volcano?”
“Apparently, Voldemort. But I'm telling you, this time the traps will definitely be worse than those in China .”
“Why do you say that? Isn’t being in a volcano with a ton of passages protection enough?”
“Harry, Voldemort had to have made the cup last, it’s the only possibility. The ring was his first, he had to have gotten the bust and the cane while still in school, he had the diary while he was in school, the locket came to him at the beginning of his job at Borgin and Burkes, but he had to work for such a long time to get the cup. Before he killed the woman that is.
“He would have protected it fiercely, hence the volcano part, just in case others somehow found out about the others and miraculously destroyed them. And we’ve done that, found and destroyed the others.”
“Ok fine, Hermione, we’ll go there and check. You could be right, or it could simply be sitting there waiting for us because who in the world would jump into a volcano? But I do have another question, who would go with me?
“Actually, no, who would be stupid enough to go with me?”
“Harry, I'm going with you and I'm sure one of my parents would insist on coming, and Draco and Ron might as well. It’s not about stupidity, Harry, it's about the fact that this needs to get done, that we need to destroy it so that you can destroy him. We all understand that and we all want to do as much as we possibly can to help.”
“Thank you Hermione.” His voice was quiet and soft. His face was turned away from her, his eyes even further. She knew he didn’t like it, she also knew he understood the importance of it.
Without another word, she walked quietly from the room, wondering how everything would turn out.
“Granger?” She smiled as she turned to look at him.
“Yes, Draco?” They were walking around the woods of his mother’s estate. He wanted to show her something, he had said, something that was as close as anything could come to being as beautiful as she. And she had blushed as she laughed, nodding her consent.
“Close your eyes, we’re getting close.”
“But then I won't be able to see, I might walk into a tree.” She laughed as he came up behind her and placed his hands over her eyes. Smiling, he replied, “I'm going to guide you.” As they walked slowly through the woods, his hands over her eyes, gently guiding her body with his, he told her a story from his youth, when he had first discovered this place.
“Father was having a party and us kids were out here playing hide and seek, and I was hiding so I ran as far as I could, and then some. But when I first saw it, I didn’t really see it. I tripped over a rock and fell face first into…”
“Into what?” she asked after he stopped.
“Just about… here. Ok, open your eyes,” he whispered softly in her ear as he took his hands off her face. Her eyes went wide, her breath caught in her throat, and she heard him chuckle behind her.
“How, but, it’s beautiful.” She was staring across a small creek, that dark blue of the ocean at night. Trees hung over the water, and over the little hills that probably hid caves, but opened up right above the center, just enough so that, should it have been night, she would see a huge expanse of the stars, twinkling brightly above them.
Flowers and grass grew all around; stones lined the floor of the creek, and everything together was perfectly romantic. She looked back at him, smiling, and he smiled happily back at her. Then she watched him get nervous.
“What do you mean ‘what’?”
“You're nervous, why are you nervous?”
“Oh, that what, well, I’ll tell you later. First, I want you to, where is it?” He started turning around in circles, looking for something that seemed important. Just as she was about to ask him what he was looking for, his eyes caught on something in the distance. He held his hand out to her, asking her to come with him.
She placed her hand in his and followed him up the small hills. As they got further up, she could see small parts of something. Not that she could figure it out, but still, she saw it.
He was definitely eager, that was obvious, and she couldn’t figure out what exactly he was eager about until they reached what he had been looking for. A big, dark blue blanket, on which sat a picnic basket.
“A picnic?” she questioned with a smile in her voice.
“Of course a picnic.” The smile on his face was large, his eyes shining brightly with happiness. As they ate strawberries, sandwiches (he didn’t know how to make much else he explained), chips, and many other little things, as they drank cherry punch he told her to pretend was wine, she could see his nervousness return.
But she let the nervousness slide, not wanting him to chicken out because she called him out on it. Chicken out on whatever he was nervous about. Finally they lay, staring at the expanse above them, her head on his shoulder, his arm underneath her back, hers thrown across his torso.
He was quiet as he pulled away from her; she was cold as he turned on his side to face her. Very lightly, he pressed his lips to hers. Smiling when he pulled back, she waited silently for him to talk.
“Granger, I know you would prefer me to call you Hermione, which is still strange for me. So I continue to call you Granger, but I think. I think it might be easier for me to call you Hermione, if Granger was no longer part of your name.” He gently moved a strand of hair from her face as she tried to understand what he was saying.
“I love you, I don’t know when I started loving you, I don’t know how I did, I just know that I do Hermione. I know that I will always love you, that no matter what happens in this life, I will continue to love more and more each day.” His hand was shaking as he reached across her and pulled a small black box from the picnic basket. Ever so slowly, she pulled it from his giving hand.
“I want to be able to tell you everyday, for the rest of my life, that I love you. I want to be able to hold you in my arms every night, to watch you fall asleep. I want to kiss you in the morning, in the night, whenever I want.
“Hermione Granger,” he gently pulled the top up as she continued to hold the box, “Will you let me have the honor of being your husband?”
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