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Hermione," said Harry tiredly, putting his head in his hands, "I know you think books solve everything, but it's going to take more than that. This is Voldemort and his soul we're talking about, not some Transfiguration essay."

“Look,” she snapped, “if you’d rather die, do it your way, but I’m staying here until I find something.”

Ron raised his eyebrows, and snuck a look at Madam Pince, who they knew was unhappy about letting previous Hogwarts students into the library after hours.

Hermione slammed close the large tome she had just taken her nose out of, and sighed as she reached for another. “Sorry, Harry,” she muttered, “but this isn’t something we can slack on.”

Harry shrugged and checked his watch. He was so close to finding the last Horcrux, but this was the one that was standing in his way. He could not let one little detail stand in between him and the downfall of Voldemort.

With a sudden burst of inspiration, Harry dove for a book and began shifting through its pages, hoping to find what he was looking for, whatever that was, and hoping he would know what it meant, if he happened to find it.

“Ooh, what do you think of this?” Hermione suddenly said, sitting up a bit straighter in her seat, her brown eyes lightening considerably with hope.

Harry and Ron both scooted closer to her, in hopes of being able to read the tiny text of the monstrous book she was currently poring over.

Near Hogwarts lays the legendary Black Lake, which has been on the grounds of Hogwarts since before Hogwarts was founded. The life within the watery depths of the Black Lake includes merpeople, the ancient Giant Squid, and many bothersome creatures such as grindylows. Until 1980, the merpeople of Black Lake inhabited the edge of the lake, but retreated to the lower regions, suddenly and unexpectedly. When asked why by Albus Dumbledore (see page 387), current Headmaster of Hogwarts, they merely stated that the magic of humans near the edge of the lake was becoming overpowering.

Harry squinted at the text, and reread it.

“Hermione, what book is this?” questioned Ron, after he had sat back in his chair.

Hogwarts, A History,” she said proudly. “I knew it would come in handy one day!”

Ron laughed, as Harry reread the text, attempting to decipher its meaning.

“Well,” Harry said loudly, “WHY are you two STILL sitting there?! Let’s go!”

“Go?” exclaimed a bewildered Hermione. “Harry, we can’t possibly do anything tonight!”

“Hermione, like I said before, this isn’t some Transfiguration essay. This is life, this is Voldemort.” Ron winced in protest, but Harry continued. “There are lives at stake, and we can’t afford to stop what we’re doing to sleep. Now you two said you’d be with me until the end. Are you still in, or is our bargain off?”

Hermione and Ron exchanged weary glances, but both rose from their seats and took their cloaks off of the back of their chairs.

“We’re here for you, mate,” said Ron, patting Harry on the back, and draping his cloak around his shoulders.

Ron and Hermione set off at a trot toward the door, and stopped as they sensed that Harry was not following.

“Harry,” Hermione laughed, “are you coming, or not?”

Harry nodded quickly, and followed them out the door, ignoring the glares that were emitting from Madam Pince, as she went to put their books away, and shut down the library for the night.

“It’s just like old times, isn’t it?” remarked Hermione, as they set off down the pitch black corridor, huddled together against the chill of the castle.

“Yeah,” said Ron with a chuckle, “except no cloak. And we’re allowed to be wandering around.”

“And this time we’ve even got a legitimate reason,” said Harry gravely, his eyes set straight ahead, and his hand clutched around his wand, as it always was these days.

Ron and Hermione exchanged dark looks. Harry had not been the same since they had left after Bill and Fleur’s wedding. He was always so dark and dramatic, but they didn’t know if they should expect anything else out of him, after all he had been through.

The three continued through the castle, running into Slughorn on the way, who winked at the three, and gave Harry a reassuring smile.

After running into a few more people, and ghosts, including Nearly Headless Nick, Peeves, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Flitwick, Harry, Ron, and Hermione finally made it to the door, and let themselves outside.

“Wait, Harry,” said Hermione, stopping Ron and Harry before they had barely stepped outside the castle. “What do you think we’re going to find?!”

“It’s got to be here,” Harry murmured. “It has to be at Hogwarts, I know it.”

“Just promise me you won’t become frustrated if it’s not,” she begged.

He shrugged and turned to walk toward the lake again.

“Harry, promise me!” she said shrilly.

“FINE, I promise,” he said sharply, setting off again toward the lake, motioning for Ron and Hermione to follow.

They finally reached the lake, and Harry stopped suddenly, staring at it sullenly.

“We need a shovel,” he mumbled, immediately turning and heading off for Hagrid’s cabin.

“Harry,” said Hermione, barely containing a laugh, “are you a wizard, or not?!”

“Right,” Harry said, turning around, and returning to his position of staring at the still, black water.

“Now what?” questioned Ron, joining Harry at the water’s edge.

“Honestly,” said Hermione under her breath, and walked down the edge of the water. “Harry, come help me…I need some light.” Harry got as close to her as he dared and muttered, “Lumos.”

“What are you looking for?” called Ron, following after her, to assure that she wouldn’t fall.

“I’m not sure…” she said softly, closing her eyes and waving her wand slowly over the water.

Suddenly, she made a violent movement with her wand and jabbed it toward the water. The ground rumbled and shook, and the water could be seen trembling violently.

“Something magical is under there,” she said excitedly, only sounding a bit frightened.

“How do you KNOW?” questioned Ron, eyeing her in amazement.

“Never mind that,” she said, crouching down so her nose was almost touching the surface of the still trembling water.

Then, she lifted her wand, and the water drifted away from the land’s edge.

Harry’s mouth dropped, and he said, “How did you—” He dropped his wand to his side.

“Ssshh…hold the light closer!” said Hermione, holding up her hand and shooting Harry a dirty look.

She lifted her wand again, and a patch of dirt floated into midair, and dropped to the ground, close to where it had been previously. The spell made Harry think of the year before, when he, Hagrid, and Slughorn had buried Aragog and Slughorn had replaced the dirt into the ground.

"Accio Horcrux," attempted Hermione. Nothing happened. "It has to be down there," she said breathlessly, getting closer for a better look. “Accio Horcrux!

Ron and Harry exchanged looks, as Hermione began shaking her wand slightly.

Accio Horcrux…Accio Horcrux!” she thrust her wand angrily into her pocket, and moved in for an even closer look. “There is definitely something down there…”

“What is it?” Harry said urgently, suddenly closing in on her even more, as to attempt to see into the hole.

“I’m not sure…”

“Well, does it look like a Horcrux?” asked Ron. Hermione shot him a frustrated look, and he recoiled, the smile melting slowly off his face.

“Why isn’t Accio working then?” questioned Harry, not daring to get closer to the hole than he already had.

“Maybe…” said Hermione timidly, “maybe it isn’t a Horcrux, Harry…”

Harry turned his head slowly to look at her, his face contorted into a look of confusion and exasperation. “It has to be…”

Hermione shook her head and pulled her wand back out of her pocket. “Accio,” she said surely and clearly, pointing the wand directly at the hole.

Nothing happened, and Harry’s shoulders drooped as he stepped back disappointedly. Then, suddenly and surely, something zoomed out of the hole in the lake directly at Hermione. She gave a little squeal and dropped to the ground. The object zoomed over her head, barely missing it since her trademark curls stuck up so much, and came to a stop just behind her.

Ron, standing back, held back his laughter and joined Harry and Hermione as they approached the object slowly and cautiously.

“What is it?” asked Ron finally, after a few minutes of the trio staring at the unknown silver box, which wasn’t so much silver as brown from being under the lake, on the ground.

“Why — why would Voldemort have a silver box as a Horcrux?” questioned Hermione unsurely.

Ron shrugged, while Harry’s expression was impossible to read.

“There’s something written on it!” said Ron suddenly, diving for the box.

“Ron, be careful when you touch it!” Hermione warned.

“Hermione,” said Harry exasperatedly, “if it was a Horcrux, don’t you think there would be a bit more of a barrier to stop us from getting it?”

She shrugged, her face glowing red, and returned her gaze back to Ron.

He was leaning to the ground, his face screwed up in concentration as he wiped the mud off the box with his already filthy shirt.

“It says—” he grunted as he wiped it off a little more “—it says 1976.” He squinted his eyes in concentration. “What does 1976 stand for?”

“Well…” said Hermione patiently, “I’m guessing that it’s talking about the year 1976.”

“Oh.” Ron blushed, and set the box back down. “Anyone want to open it?”

Harry, who had, before that, been staring aimlessly at the ground, nodded. “Yeah, I will.”

He picked up the box slowly and carefully. He turned it around a few times searching for the opening, until he found the silver latch. Time seemed to stand still as he opened it.

He opened it, and a few items fell out.

“What is all of that?” said Hermione, drawing closer to Harry, pulling Ron by the hand with her.

Harry picked up a piece of yellowed parchment and his eyes scanned it, as his mouth dropped. “I can’t believe it…”

“Harry, what?” said Ron, trying to grab the parchment from his hand.

Harry, still dumbstruck, handed it to him, and Hermione stood on her tiptoes to read over Ron’s shoulder.

Their mouths, too, dropped open.

“Now,” said Harry shakily, “I wonder what else is in here…”

Disclaimer: Harry Potter was written by JK Rowling, and I am not her. I am merely taking the wonderful world she created for us, and creating my own story :].

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