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Chapter Eighteen

“Brilliant, just brilliant,” Kingsley muttered to Bill as the two of them blindly groped their way along the side of the building, neither of them willing to move any closer to Lucius Malfoy than they needed to. The fact that there were now three of the Malfoys in the house didn’t do much for their nerves, however, nor did it do anything to their resolution to complete their task. This might be their one and only chance to get hold of the Horcrux which lay within Malfoy Manor.

Everyone around them had fallen still, not that they could see much of them. Just indistinct shadows in the darkness. All that they knew was the vague location of the Horcrux and the magical core of the house; they didn’t know which, and neither Bill nor Kingsley knew how they would know when they’d come the magical core, if that was where they were headed.

They found a door at the end of the room, and carefully they entered, hoping not to find anyone on the other side. They knew that they were getting closer to their desired location, if only because they were moving towards the back of the house. There was no one in the room that they entered, not that either of them knew of anyway. From his pocket, Kingsley took the Frequency Counter. Instantly, the room was bathed in an eerie golden glow, casting shadows and silhouettes up against the walls. They were in what appeared to be a short hallway, with doors on each side, and statues on alternate sides along the way.

A glance down at the Frequency Counter gave them a small map of the floor that they were on, the image created because of the magic which had been stored within the walls themselves. They weren’t far from their energy source, whichever it might be. It was just along the corridor, and in the last room on their right.

Kingsley put the Frequency counter away and began to walk, more quickly and carelessly than before, even in the pitch darkness. At least now he knew where he was going; he would know he had reached his destination when his outstretched fingers touched the wall at the end of the corridor. Bill followed him, but with a little more caution than the other. Though they might know where they were going, there was no telling what was further along the corridor, nor in the next room. All that they knew was the location of an energy source. The Frequency Counter did not pick up people.

“I never knew you and I had quite the acquaintance to greet each other so warmly, Mr Shacklebolt,” said a woman’s voice quietly. Bill froze upon hearing her voice. For Kingsley, who had inadvertently walked straight into Narcissa with his arms outstretched, it was a little too late for that. Evidently, the hall had not been lined entirely with statues.


“How are we meant to know where we’re going?” Hermione murmured to Mad Eye who was a little ahead of her in the darkened building. She was beginning to regret having come with the eccentric man, though she felt better protected because of him.

“I can see in the darkness, just not far enough,” Mad Eye told her as he strode further on. There was no one in that part of the building. They were on the third floor of the building, where as the rest of the house would be gathered down on the ground floor. That meant that they should be left relatively alone, though the same would not be said for Kingsley and Bill.

“Freeze,” Mad Eye muttered suddenly and pulled her backwards against the wall next to him. They could hear movement somewhere further down the hallway they were on. It was the only one that would lead them to the energy source they were pursuing, and they could not go back now. At the same time, to attack would surely give them away. Which might draw attention away from Kingsley and Bill lower down…

His vision was next to none, and Mad Eye could feel his vision beginning to dim, at least his magical vision. He supposed that it was an effect of having so little magic in the air, now that it was all being sucked out of them and towards the house’s magical core. Walking slowly and deliberately forward to whoever stood ahead of him, Mad Eye readied himself for what could only be a physical fight.

His fists were held in front of him, ready to strike whatever he found first. Behind him, he could hear Hermione groping about in the darkness for something to cling onto, or at least give her an idea as to her current location. Something moved ahead of him. Mad Eye swung forwards, and something else did the same.

There was a thud. In the darkness, someone whispered, “Success.”

A single brilliant flash in the darkness, and Hermione was gone; Portkeyed back to the New Order in Minerva’s office.

Downstairs, Bill and Kingsley had no idea of that which transpired three floors higher, and were putting all their desperate thoughts into methods of escape. Preferably, escaping forwards.

“You thought that you could just walk into our house undetected and escape with a valuable artefact?” Narcissa demanded of them. Silence was her only response, and she continued, “Perhaps you have taken a liking to stealing as your only way of survival in poverty, Mr Weasley, but Malfoy Manor is not as poorly protected as Gringotts, I assure you that.”

Even as she finished speaking, something whooshed through the air towards them. Instinctively, both of them ducked, only to have their feet taken out from beneath them. There was a clattering along the floor, and Bill realised too late that the Frequency Counter had skittered out of his grasp and across the wooden floor. The room was instantly lit by an eerie golden glow, and they saw their attacker for the first time.

Narcissa loomed over them, and behind her stood her son. They really didn’t want to have to physically fight their way past them, but it appeared that they were shortly to have no choice in the matter. Bill and Kingsley scrambled to their feet, Bill diving for the Frequency Counter, even as Draco Malfoy leapt for it.

Bill felt himself falling over for the second time in the space of ten seconds. Malfoy was quicker than he, and the room flickered in and out of the darkness as they both landed on top of the Counter. At that moment, Narcissa leapt at Kingsley, her fingers clawing down his face. Shouts and yelps filled the room, footsteps thundering towards them.

Something smashed into the side of his face, and Bill was knocked backwards, even as his hands closed tightly around the Frequency Counter. They were shrouded in darkness again, and close by, he could hear Malfoy swinging at thin air. He took his chance and leapt forwards, stumbling over Narcissa and Kingsley who fought tooth and nail to overcome the other.

A thud and a crack filled the air behind them, shortly followed by a shriek from the younger Malfoy. It would appear that he had broken his fingers punching a statue in the confusion. Narcissa was startled momentarily into being knocked down by Kingsley. He scrambled to his feet and Bill grabbed his arm, dragging him down the corridor towards the room at the end. They didn’t have much time.

The door was locked with magic, but it would be easy to kick down. They both grasped their Portkeys as Kingsley threw himself into the door.


Mad Eye cursed under his breath as he dragged himself to his feet. Beside him was the unmistakable form of Bellatrix LeStrange, lying unconscious on the floor. He had managed to do something worthwhile this evening at least. Even if he had managed to send Hermione back to Hogwarts. He really needed to start thinking his activation words through, Mad Eye decided as he strode on.

The end was visible now at least. Below him he head shouts, muffled by the walls between them. It hurried him along; something was happening lower down and he had an odd feeling that it had to do with Bill and Kingsley. He walked quickly towards the end of the corridor, hoping that he would not encounter anything else to slow him. There was hardly time enough without any more obstructions.

It was in the next room, whatever it was. If it was the Horcrux, then he would Portkey out instantly. If it was the energy core of the house…? Then he ran the risk of destroying everything. So much magical energy contained in one place was not going to be good when instantly released across the house.

A gnarled hand reached out and rested on the doorknob. He couldn’t feel a particular strong field of energy brushing against him, but it was an energy source nonetheless. He didn’t know how well the energy inside was being restrained. Mad Eye took a deep breath and flung open the door. His closed his good eye, and shrank back, only to find himself in what appeared to be a perfectly ordinary room.

It was spacious and decorated entirely in white. Wise decorating, Mad Eye thought grimly as he stepped inside. The magical field was far stronger here, and he could feel it whirling around him, trying to find a way to take any magic held within him. Luckily, there was none held inside the individual. He did not want to think what it would do to him in order to get the magic from within.

He stayed close to the walls, knowing not only that white reflected heat, but also that it reflected magic. He changed his robes to ones of a white colour, similar in the way that he had as a younger wizard, when the summer heat became too much for his then perfect features. Cautiously, he stepped forwards towards the middle of the room. Towards the cup of Helga Hufflepuff.

There were many other artefacts on display here; it appeared to be a room designated for displaying and showing off their most treasured and magical possessions. The Malfoys had evidently done well for themselves, in the past if not the present. Some of the relics held in that room had been thought either lost or mythical by the general Wizarding populace.

His hand reached out to the cup and he grasped it firmly, tearing it from the magical field which bound him. The floor began to shake, and in his sudden panic, he spun round to see what had caused it. He did not believe it had been caused by the cup.

And then it hit him. If he had been the one with the Horcrux, then Bill and Kingsley had just opened the magical source of the house.

The floor was falling out from beneath him as the magic joined that in the room and spiralled upwards and outwards. The walls were being blown down, the contents of the house either blown apart or blasted outwards with everything else.

Mad Eye grasped hold of his Portkey at his waist and shouted a single word into the deafening roar.


He was spinning faster and faster, his body twisting and turning in the air as he and the Horcrux flew with the Portkey back towards Hogwarts. Back to Minerva’s office and the safety offered by the New Order.

He landed on the floor with a thud.

“Welcome back, old man!” Kingsley greeted him cheerfully, though not with a little pain inherent in his voice. Mad Eye opened his eyes to see Kingsley lying beside him, and Bill on the other side of Kingsley. All around them, the other members of the New Order had gathered, all talking at once.

“It’s just a good job that magic passes through people, otherwise you’d have been blown apart,” Mad Eye growled at him before resting his head back on the floor. “It’s here!”

He waved the Horcrux in the face of Hermione as she nagged at him as to whether or not he had managed to reach it in time. She recoiled slightly at the sight of it, though she could not explain her irrational fear of such an object. A Horcrux could not hurt her.

“I see this had been both an interesting and productive evening for all of us,” Minerva said quietly. Remus looked at her with a raised eyebrow, and then to Harry who was holding an old book in his hands. It appeared to mention Potions on the cover, though he was not certain as to whether or not his sight was failing him in that respect; Harry was not known for his love of Potions. The chances of him reading around the subject during his free time, and in the middle of the night, was highly unlikely.

“We’ll discuss this tomorrow, once everyone has had sufficient rest, and has been properly healed,” she said, pointedly looking down at the three on the floor. Before she had finished her sentence, Madam Pomfrey bustled into the room and hovered around the three prospective patients before beginning her work.

The rest of those present began to leave the room, either through the door or the fireplace. Hermione and Ron already arguing about which of them had it the worst during the mission, whilst Harry tried to get as much information out of Remus as he could.

“And then what?” Harry asked, following Remus through the fireplace, before they both stumbled out at the other end, almost falling over each other.

“You know, you could have waited a moment before following me through the Floo,” Remus replied amiably. “So once we got in there, Ron and I basically shut down the magic within the house and Portkeyed out. We had the boring bit, I suppose.”

“So what? Everyone else just scrambled about in the dark for a bit?” Harry asked dubiously.

“Pretty much, since no one could conjure magic since there was none, and most wizards don’t have candles close to hand for just such an emergency,” Remus told him.

“But how can you shut off the magic in a house?” Harry pressed. Remus sighed and rolled his eyes as he sat down at the kitchen table.

“If I’m going to spend the next hour or so explaining magical theory to you, you would do well to start brewing some tea.” It was going to be a long hour for Remus.

Back at Hogwarts, Minerva left the Hospital Wing some time later, after ensuring that Bill, Kingsley and Mad Eye were fine. In fact, they were more than fine, and she had left them shouting at Poppy, who in turn was shouting at them to keep their voices down or wake all the students. The students were all awake anyway; the entrance of three mysteriously injured visitors had the tendency to keep them more awake and interested than usual.

The Horcrux dangled from her hand by her side as she strode along the deserted corridors up to the seventh floor. The Room of Requirement was unused, for which she was thankful; she didn’t wish for the room to be discovered by any Weasley twin-wannabes. She walked back and forth three times, and entered.

The room which greeted her was almost unsettlingly similar to that which had been inside Malfoy Manor, though she would never know it, at least not now that the house had very recently collapsed. The walls were the same bright white, reflecting all the magic within back upon itself. It magnified its strength, but it prevented any from leaking out into the Hogwarts building, which could only be a good thing for the school.

In the centre of the room, upon a stone table, lay the locket Horcrux. Minerva carefully placed the cup next to it and, not wanting to hang around such dark objects, vacated the room quickly.

She took a deep breath and sat down outside the room. That was two they had in their possession; two had already been destroyed in that which burnt Dumbledore’s hand so badly, and Riddle’s diary; Snape had seen to Nagini, and Harry had felt that, though it appeared that Voldemort had not yet. That left Riddle house.

And then Voldemort himself.

She breathed in deeply once more and got to her feet. They had not much time now. Not now that two Horcruxes were in their possession. Voldemort would grow suspicious and check on them, and soon enough he would realise that they were missing. And he would know where to come looking for them.

They would begin brewing the potion tomorrow, she decided. That done, she knew that there would be little else they could do, until it had been made, that was. Perhaps sending Snape a thank you note and some flowers. The idea of Snape’s face upon the receipt of such a gift made her smile slightly in spite of herself and the situation they were in.

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