Act IV, Chapter 2: The Fury of Firefly
Ginny, Will, Clarissa and the rest of the Council of Fire stood in the Library of Worlds in stunned silence as the live feed from Harry's side of the mind link clicked off. Ginny sat deadly still as the Gemini Rune, which had been smoking a second ago, instantly lost its power. She sighed and sat up, running a hand over the now inflamed skin on her neck.
"What are we going to do?"
"I say we take the fight to this Dumbles of yours. He is not a foe your combined might cannot defeat!" Arthur proclaimed, brandishing his sword… and almost beheading Guinevere in the process.
"I think you should go and get my Basilisk, then set it upon him and drink some Champaign," Salazar said smugly.
"Your Basilisk is dead, remember," Ginny pointed out.
"Details, details," Salazar shrugged.
"I propose you storm this Grimmauld Place and rescue young Harry," Ulysses said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, "can you get passed the Fidelius Charm?"
Ginny turned to Will and Clarissa, whom she guessed were having a mental conversation of their own. "Can you do it? The Dragon Force is supposed to be infinite power, right?"
Will grimaced, "It's not that simple."
"Why? Surely with enough juice, you can get passed any ward. That's what Bill told me."
"Oh, sure. We could break down the Fidelius Charm, no problem. We could do it without a scratch," Will said, scratching his head.
"Then what's not simple about it?"
"We'd come out without a scratch sure," Clarissa explained, though she was staring at the locked door on the far side of the room and not at Ginny herself, "But you, Harry, everyone in the House, and everything within a… what do you think? Bout 3?"
"Yeah about 3 would do it," Will said, staring the same way Clarissa was.
"and everything within a 300-kilometre radius would go up in a mushroom cloud."
"We have access to infinite power sure, but funnelling that into the real world is a whole lot more difficult," Will finished.
Ginny gulped, "OK. So not that then. Any other ideas? I can't apparate you in if you don't know the secret, and your Phoenix friend won't be able to get through Dumbledore's wards." Will and Clarissa were staring at the door in silence, no doubt talking in their minds. Suddenly, she realised how Hermione must feel all the time. Then she frowned. She'd never gone through that door before, and it didn't show up when she sat in the Chair.
"What is that?"
"That is the door to the Orrery," Washington said, sipping a glass of wine.
"What's the Orrery?" She asked exasperated.
"The Orrery of Worlds. It's a fancy name for the local Multiverse. At last count, there were fifteen hundred thousand Earth's in the local group. I think. It could have changed, I suppose," Clara Hunter said from her portrait.
"The Multiverse? That's real?!"
"Of course, it's real. What made you think it wasn't?" Odysseus exclaimed.
Ginny couldn't really come up with an answer to that, so she just kept her mouth shut. Luckily, she was saved from further embarrassment when Will and Clarissa's conversation broke into speech.
"We'd need a world high on the Merlin Scale," Will whispered to himself, "That way we could use Narrative Causality to get in there."
"But which one?" Clarissa asked him.
"I can only think of one where we'd be certain of success."
Clarissa gasped and started shaking her head very fast.
"Nope. No way am I going there! We could get wiped out of existence!" Ginny got the feeling there was something she was missing.
"It's perfect though," Will said. Clarissa closed her eyes and looked at the ceiling.
"Please, god. Please just make Will a little less stupid. He doesn't need to be smart, just vaguely intelligent will do."
Will gasped in mock outrage.
"Will someone please tell me what the fuck you're talking about please?!" Ginny yelled, stamping her foot on the floor. They didn't have time for this, they needed to get to Harry.
The two turned towards her with shocked looks on their faces, as if they'd forgot she was there.
"We're going to take a quick trip across the Orrery. That, if we're lucky, should be able to get us inside the Fidelius without invoking the spell," Will said eagerly.
Ginny raised an eyebrow, "I think I preferred the mushroom cloud…" Will grabbed both Ginny and Clarissa by the arm and pulled them towards the door which, as if sensing them, swung open, revealing a lush green forest that looked too perfect to be real.
"Hold your breath," Clarissa said. Ginny did so, and then she was pulled through the doorway. It was like stepping through a wall of water. Cold, heavy, and loud. And it lasted no longer than a second. One moment she was in the Library, the next she was in the enchanted forest. The second her foot touched the ground, she felt incredibly light headed. Everything seemed to float slightly, and all Ginny's cares and worries washed away. Everything was just so wonderful. Like living a dream. The trees were the most brilliant green. The blue jays sang songs as if telling full-length stories, and she could understand every chirp. The wind on her neck was like the blessing of some long-forgotten deity. And the Magic! Oh, the Magic! It was everywhere! In absolutely everything. The grass, the trees, the sky, the ground, the wind, the animals. It was incredible. And she could feel it radiating out from her like waves. It was ecstasy!
"We can't stay here!" Clarissa yelled. It seemed very far away, and Ginny found herself not really caring too much. Why should she care after all? This place was just so… magical.
"If we don't get out we'll be trapped forever! Hurry!"
"I'm trying!" Will's voice was far away too. That was funny. Will. It was a special name. A nice name. A royal name. A hero's name. William. Like William the Conqueror. Now that was a story! She'd love to see the Battle of Hastings. She could hear the rumbling of cavalry even now.
"Will! It's… fuck! It's William the fucking Conqueror!"
"Stop Ginny from thinking so hard!"
William would be like a hero, she knew. Sitting astride a tall horse, banners unfurled behind him. Maybe she could be…
A set of hands grabbed her shoulders.
"NO! Stop thinking Ginny!" Clarissa's face pulled into view right in front of her. Ginny frowned. Her hair looked different. Like it couldn't decide what colour it wanted to be. It was fiery red like hers, then a deep rose red, then a golden blonde, and a chocolate brown. Her eyes stayed the same, though. Ginny didn't understand that.
"Focus on Harry. Focus on Grimmauld Place, that's what you want, right? You want to be in Grimmauld Place with Harry. So, we can help him."
Harry. She knew him. That was a good name. Harry. A good story. She loved him in that story she was sure. She could almost feel it even now. Harry was drowsy. Not really awake, but not really asleep either. There were people whose voices he recognised. An old and wise wizard named Doubledoors… no that wasn't right. Dumbledore! That was it. Then there was the devilishly handsome man who acted like a loveable rogue. Han Solo! No that was wrong too. It was Black. Something to do with Black. Black stars? Sirius! Sirius Black yes, and his best friend Remus the werewolf. That was a cool story. There was someone else she thought. A mother of many who loved her family more than anything. And Harry was trying to take that away from her. But she had to learn to let go. People grew up. You can't be a child forever…
"Got it!" Will exclaimed. Clarissa grabbed her around her waist and threw her over her shoulder. Ginny didn't mind. This was the next stage in her story. She was going to rescue Harry. Take that damsel in distress! Another wall of water passed over her, and Ginny fell to the floor.
In a split second, everything came back to her. She looked up and saw Clarissa retching on the floor. Will was little better. He had his head stuck in a bucket of conjured water. Ginny's stomach turned, and she joined Clarissa in her heaving. The entire contents of her stomach landed on the floor, which was only followed by the biggest migraine she'd ever had, times ten. She barely managed to miss the sick she'd created as she dropped face first to the floorboards, heavy breathing. She rolled over and looked back towards the shimmering blue portal floating in the main hallway of Grimmauld Place.
"What the hell was that place?" She whispered, pushing herself up on her elbows. Clarissa finally having regained her faculties, vanished the sick with a wave of her hand.
"That was the Disk. There's so much magic in the atmosphere Physics doesn't mean shit. All you have to do is believe something, and it can come true. That's why we almost got killed by William the Conqueror and his army of Normans just now."
Ginny fought back the urge to vomit again.
"How'd you stand that. I felt like I was being lifted out of my own head. Living dozens of stories at once…"
"You were. That's the danger of the Discworld for someone like us. There's so much Background Magic there that us, as Magicals ourselves, can barely operate. You could have destroyed the entire Disc if you thought the wrong thing. You could easily wish away your whole life by accident. Picture yourself as Dracula's sex toy, and blamo, you've got a vampire as your slave master, with no memory of what or who you were before," Will said, pouring the bucket over his head and drenching himself in water.
"We've got the Dragon Force on our side though. So, we could at least keep our sense of awareness on the other side. I still can't believe their entire planet is actually a disk being held up by four elephants that ride on a cosmic turtle." Clarissa concluded.
Ginny just shook her head. She didn't want to know if she was lying. She really hoped she was. Will snapped his fingers, and the portal vanished.
"I'm never doing that again," Clarissa proclaimed. Ginny found herself furiously agreeing with her.
"Me neither," Will agreed. Throwing his now empty bucket down the hall. That's when the screaming started.
"Vermin! Blood Traitors! Uncouth abominations of magic! In my house! Scum! Get out you monstrosities, get out!" Ginny cringed. Sirius' mum really didn't like Druids it seemed.
Clarissa, looking incredibly tired, merely pointed her hand at the portrait of the Black matriarch and a beam of energy consumed the entire image is the space of a single second. She didn't even look up; instead, she was humming a song to herself that Ginny thought she recognised from the Breakfast Club.
Then a plethora of clapping broke into Ginny's consciousness. Ginny, Clarissa and Will all turned towards the stairs, where Fred, George, Hermione, Bill, Charlie, Ron, Hagrid, Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick and Snape were all staring at them in complete bewilderment. Fred and George were the ones clapping. Ginny had to hide her glee at Snape's face. His jaw was hanging open like a bad hinge. Flitwick had fallen unconscious, and McGonagall didn't look very far behind. Then the Gemini Rune lit up once more, and Harry's thoughts and emotions re-awoke in her mind.
Harry! You're back online!
Yep. Massive headache, though.
Yeah, I think that's my fault. I may have travelled to another universe. Sorry?
All good. Bout time you got an adventure of your own.
Where are you?
The kitchen. Dumbles is pretty pissed.
Oooh! It's my turn!
"Brains, Thing 1, Thing 2. Harry's in the kitchen with Dumbledore. Back Out Protocol is in effect. He needs some backup. What say we give the Headmaster a lesson on why you don't mess with the Defenders?" Ginny said, winking at her friends. They instantly moved to follow her, Will and Clarissa as they walked towards the basement kitchen. McGonagall, Snape and Hagrid (carrying Flitwick), trailed behind, all seemingly trapped in states of disbelief.
Ginny pulled out her wand and, for dramatic effect, blasted the door open. She led the group inside and stood, hips squared, shoulders back, wand pointed right at the Headmasters head.
"Give me one good reason. I dare you," She whispered menacingly.
"Ah. There's the cavalry. Forget about the mind-link did we, Headmaster?" Harry said cheerfully. He was reclining in a rather comfortable looking armchair, legs up on the table. Sirius and Remus stood on either side of him, their hands on their own wands. Dozens of other Order members, including Mad-Eye and Tonks, were scattered around the room. Including…
"Ginny!" Molly exclaimed rushing forward to grab Ginny. She didn't move her wand an inch, trusting the others to handle it. Molly instantly found herself trapped inside a bubble of golden energy, courtesy of Will, who was fiddling with a strand of magic in his palm.
"I'd stay there, dearie. Mrs Potter has asked a very valid question, and I intend to see it through," Will said casually.
"And who are you supposed to be!" Molly yelled, her temper, still high from minutes ago, returning to full force. Her hand was bandaged up.
"William. Clarissa. Nice to see you," Dumbledore said softly, not moving his head.
"Cut the crap," Clarissa said. Hagrid had just squeezed himself into the room. Ginny wondered if Hermione had cast a resizing charm on the door. Hagrid placed the now conscious Flitwick on the table.
"How did you bypass the Fidelius Charm?" Moody growled, stepping forward on his peg leg. His Magical eye was locked on Ginny. Good, she thought. Stay locked on me.
"Quick trip to the Discworld. No form of Magic can cut across Universe boundaries, not even a Fidelius Secret. So, we skipped over to the Disc, tried not to throw up. Used a bit of Narrative Causality. Might have accidentally launched a Norman invasion of Ankh-Morpork. Popped up in the hallway outside. Definitely threw up. You might want to use some detergent on that," Will said casually as if he were asking for some toast in the morning.
"You can travel to other universes?!" Flitwick squeaked.
"We're the Dragon. What did you expect?" Clarissa said, answering for both of them. The charms professor seemingly didn't have an answer to that, so his mouth closed very abruptly.
"Stephen will be very disappointed in you. You know how he feels about crossing between worlds," Dumbledore said, "The Discworld especially."
"Watch it, Albus. I think Ginny's still waiting for you to fess up. I feel a Mexican stand-off coming up, and you know whichever side we're on will win. Your best bet is to convince us to stay out of it at this point, cause we certainly won't be helping you," Will told him pointedly.
"Very well. Would you care to explain why you have a wand pointed at my head, Mrs Potter?" Molly flinched again.
"Ginny! Listen to me right now! You're going to give me that wand. You're grounded. Big time! Threatening the Headmaster! Running off with a boy! I thought I taught you better…" Molly tried to walk through the golden shield but screamed when it seemingly electrocuted her.
"That's a Speed-Force Cocoon Molly. I wouldn't try to push through it. You'd need to be a Flash to come close. And trust me, you're not one," Clarissa said, rolling her eyes. Ginny caught Fred drop something onto the floor out of the corner of her eye.
"I'd like to see you take it away, Mum. This is my wand, bought at Ollivanders over a year ago now. It's not Charlie's leftovers. No offence, Charlie."
"None taken," Charlie said helpfully. He was standing beside Tonks, trying desperately to hide a grin. George dropped another packet on her right. She couldn't see Hermione. Seeing the look of seething on her mother's face, Ginny turned her attention back to Dumbledore.
"I want to know, Headmaster, why exactly you thought you had the right to break into a secure facility without considering contacting the inhabitants. I want to know why you thought yourself justified in destroying the Marauders legacy. I want to know why you attacked us. And I want to know what helped you sleep at night after you had the balls to leave Harry with those abusive pieces of shit for ten years? That is what I want to know. Feel like sharing?" Ginny pressed her wand into Dumbledore's neck.
"I left Harry at the Dursley's because they were his only blood relatives. The blood wards were invaluable. And there was nowhere else…"
"Try again," Harry said sharply, "I got exactly 1152 guardianship requests after my parents died. True, about 400 were from Death Eaters, but the others certainly weren't."
Dumbledore looked very confused, before his face sagged slightly, clearly coming to the realisation of just how Harry had come across that information.
"I see you've spoken with Ragnok."
"Fifty-two beheaded Goblins. I hope you're feeling good about yourself," Harry said triumphantly, leaning back further in his chair.
"Goblins? Ragnok? What are you talking about Harry?" Bill asked. Ginny couldn't help a grin spreading across her face. Bill worked for Gringotts, he'd know exactly what the punishment for Dumbledore's transgressions would be.
"Oh, nothing much. Just that the Headmaster has been bribing the Goblins to screen Harry's mail since he was born. All his mail. Hell, if we hadn't found out about it, 50 outstanding Wills naming Harry as their beneficiary would have been transferred over to Ministry custody this year," Ginny told the room. Bill suddenly went very pale. He turned to Dumbledore incredulously, mouth agape.
"Albus… is this the truth?" McGonagall whispered.
"I did it to prevent Harry from getting a big head from all the praise heaped upon him. The fan mail alone…"
"Yes, let's talk about that shall we," Harry said, sitting up and looking Dumbledore straight in the eyes, practically begging him to use Legilimency on him. The fan mail was a particularly sensitive topic for him.
"I've been reading through it, you see. And sure, some of it is pretty basic thank yous, or offering help and assistance should I need it, which, let me tell you, those days in the Cupboard, I totally needed it. But there was actually quite several cries for help. Kids, pleading for someone to come. Writing to the hero they'd heard stories about to come and save them. And they were never heard. Not one. You want to know what I've been spending my summer doing, while you've been sitting here in Grimmauld Place? I've been using them to investigate each one of those stories. I've found three dead kids so far. Reported five more to the Aurors, and seven to Muggle authorities. Then there's the one letter I carry around with me, because it reminds me of what I need to fight for." Harry reached into his pocket and withdrew a folded piece of paper.
"Dear Harry," he read aloud,
"I heard what you did too You Know Who. You must be a great hero. I was wondering, if it isn't too much trouble, if you could save me too? My mum… she's making me do something I don't want to. It hurts. It hurts lots. I… I think I won't make it out alive. Please help me.
From Jessica Jones!"
Harry virtually spat out the last line. Ginny didn't think there was a dry eye in the room. Well, except Moody's. That's when she saw Hermione. She was sitting in the corner, a tape recorder in one hand, and her wand in the other. She was twirling the glowing tip around in circles. Moody's eye remained fixed on Ginny. Hagrid was balling his eyes out.
Nice job, Brains.
Let's hit home, shall we?
"The problem? I was one of them too, thanks to you! You and your blood wards. Which brings us back to the original questions, doesn't it Ginny?"
"I think so, Harry. So, let's continue, shall we? Why exactly you thought you had the right to break into a secure facility without considering contacting the inhabitants, destroying the Marauders legacy in the process. That one's pretty easy, I think. Let's go with that."
"The Home, which might I say is a marvellous and ingenious piece of magical achievement, has not been destroyed. The Marauders legacy, as you call it, remains intact. Though the library seems to be missing. So perhaps we can move to the next set of allegations?" Dumbledore said though he betrayed no hint of emotion in his voice.
"He's telling the truth. I disabled the Self-Destruct with two seconds to spare. The Home is intact," Lupin said, a smile of relief crossing his face. Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Oh, thank God.
"Thanks, Moony. Always knew we could count on you at least."
Ooh. He didn't like that!
What do you mean?
There was something in his eye for a second there. Not very sparkly. Keep going!
Good. The angrier Dumbledore gets, the better it is for us.
"How about this one then. Why did you attack us?" Harry said shirtily.
"I didn't attack you. I was trying to discover Mrs Potter's whereabouts. She had vanished, and there was danger at Little Whinging. We came searching for her, seeing as how she is the best type of communication we have with you." Several people were looking very confused at this point. Ginny wanted it to stay that way. She could tell Snape was lapping up every word of all their speeches. She also had the feeling he had his wand ready and aimed at Will. Not that the greasy git had a chance, but it was mildly amusing to imagine him try.
"Then, what do we find, but that you've run off with a boy to his secret hideout that nobody knew about!" Molly yelled.
"That's the point of a secret hideout you idiot," Harry muttered. Ginny, the twins, Sirius and Remus all started snickering.
"YOU! Don't even get me started with…" Molly was suddenly silenced. Professor McGonagall had her wand out and pointed at the Weasley matriarch in her golden bubble.
"Please continue Mr Potter, Mrs Potter."
"Seven Hells, I thought she'd never shut up," Will whispered in Ginny's ear.
"Get ready for me to grab you," she whispered back.
"So, breaking down the door and jeopardising the security of the most important asset we have against Voldemort was a good idea, was it? God, I thought you were supposed to be good with plans and stuff. Mine are fucking better than yours, and I'm a teenager!" Harry exclaimed.
"You get em, boss!" George (or was it Fred?) yelled. Hagrid placed a hand on the twin's shoulder and shook his head softly.
"If you'd have knocked, we'd have let you in. You do realise that?" Harry said, rolling his eyes.
"He apparated straight to the Sixth-Floor Corridor after we told him, Harry. We had to try and Flu to catch up. If you'd have waited, we'd have told you the password," Remus' said pointedly, glaring at the Headmaster. Ginny glanced at Sirius, who raised an eyebrow at her. 'What's the plan'.
'Back Out' she mouthed back to him. Seemingly satisfied with that answer, Padfoot turned his attention back to the Headmaster.
"Is that all?" Dumbledore asked.
"You still haven't answered my last question," Ginny said softly, "I want to know what helped you sleep at night after you had the balls to leave Harry with those abusive pieces of shit for ten years?" Molly started raging again behind her silent barrier.
"What would you like me to say, Mrs Potter? I didn't mean for Harry's childhood to be as bad as it was. I incorrectly assumed that Petunia would care for the child of her lost sister. I would have. Anyone here would have."
"I told you, Albus. I told you they were the worst sort of Muggles, but you didn't listen," McGonagall retorted.
"Oh, you bet your ass. Everyone who knew Lily knew what Petunia did to her. Cutting her out. It broke her. Lily loved her sister. I'm in my right mind, now that I'm an official Auror again, to go and turn them in for child abuse right now," Sirius bit back.
As entertaining as that would be…
"We're the best of humanity Professor. Well, except Snape. That's the point, though. You can't hold everyone to the same standard. Most people aren't like us. The number of people willing to become a torchbearer for any side of a war is tiny compared to the number of people who'll follow the torchbearer into it. There is no good or evil. There is only power, and what you intend to do with it once you've got it. Most people will only help themselves, their family and friends. A few will use it to force others to their knees. Fewer still will use it to protect people they don't even know. Not everyone fits in the same category. Not everyone deserves a second chance. A shot at redemption," Harry said sadly. Then he kicked back his chair and stood up straight-backed. His jaw was clenched tightly, and there was a glint of determination, of heroism, of leadership, in his eye that made Ginny bite back a moan.
You are in for such a snogging later.
Looking forward to it.
"And until you do understand that, I can't work for you. I can't fight for your Order of the Phoenix, not if we aren't on the same page. Not to mention that I think Mrs Weasley will probably kill me the moment Will releases that shield. See you at school, Headmaster."
Harry thrust out his hand, and his wand soared out of Dumbledore's robes. At the same time, five tiny 'BANGS!' erupted from different points within the room, and fireworks shot through the open kitchen. The Order Members started freaking out, casting protection charms and trying to contain the harmless crackers, giving the Defenders all the time they needed. Ginny reached out with both hands and grabbed hold of Will and Clarissa. Then, picturing a large, bland, empty hall firmly in her mind, twisted on the spot. She felt herself twist through a tube of vibrant heat for a second, before her feet hit the ground, revealing the same hall she'd envisioned in her mind's eye.
"Out of the way," Ginny said, pulling her two passengers to the end of the corridor.
Fred arrived with Hermione next, the duo materialising in the middle of the corridor, before quickly joining Ginny, Will and Clarissa.
"Yes!" Fred exclaimed, "That worked perfectly!"
"I'm just glad that spell worked for Moody's eye," Hermione breathed. Ginny pulled the bushy-haired girl into her arms.
"Nice job Brains," She whispered.
"Thanks," she replied.
George stumbled in next with Hagrid, whose hand was still on his shoulder. George's leg was contorted severely, and Hagrid appeared to be missing an ear.
"Shit!" Will and Clarissa immediately moved to help them, pulling them out of the landing zone. Clarissa began weaving a series of bandages from thin air while Will was actually regenerating Hagrid's ear. If Ginny's heart weren't still beating out of her chest, she would have been impressed.
"I can't stay," Hermione said, eyes locked on George and Hagrid.
"Half an hour ago, I got a visit from my future self. She told me to pack everyone's stuff from our rooms in Grimmauld Place and to come back five minutes after we disappeared, which should be about now so…" Ginny immediately caught on. She nodded and released her friend. Hermione winked, before pulling a golden chain from within her pocket and throwing it around Fred's neck.
"Hermione, what are…" Fred tried to grab Hermione's hand, but she slapped it away, twisting the hourglass a single turn. The pair vanished, just in time for Remus and Harry to apparate straight in carrying a bleeding Sirius between them.
"Dumbledore wasn't fooled for a second. Sent a petrification hex straight at me. I dodged it, but Snape sent a hex as well, not sure what it did but Sirius shielded me. We got him out…" Harry trailed off as the door behind them swung open, revealing a woman with long brown hair and grey eyes. She was tall and bore a striking resemblance to Sirius.
"Get inside quickly!" She yelled, pulling the door open and beckoning them forward. Will grabbed Hagrid and vanished in a flash of golden dust, and Clarissa did the same with George. Harry and Remus pulled Sirius inside, and Ginny moved to follow but stopped when a door on the opposite side of the hallway creaked open, exposing an elderly woman with a walking cane.
Brains and Thing 1 chose that moment to apparate into the hallway at a run carrying two backpacks and three handbags between them
"Now that was exhilarating!" Fred exclaimed, running inside with Hermione, who was rolling her eyes, in tow. Their host waved her hand at the woman across the hall.
"Afternoon Miss Pevensie," she said.
"Afternoon Mrs Tonks. Seems you're having quite a day."
"Does doesn't it." Ginny breathed a sigh of relief; the woman must be magical. Ginny gave a quick wave of her own before following the rest of the Defenders into the house.
The Tonks' London Apartment had been magically altered to be larger on the inside, which was incredibly lucky, as Hagrid wouldn't have fit inside if it hadn't. Sirius and George were both lying on couches in the main living room with people hovering over them. A man Ginny assumed was Ted Tonks, Andromeda's husband, was standing over Sirius, while Clarissa continued to weave magic into George's leg. Harry was standing next to her with a bottle of what Ginny assumed was Dittany. Remus was pillaging through the fridge, probably looking for chocolate. Will, who was floating off the ground to reach Hagrid's head, was almost finished with the half-giants ear.
Ginny and Andromeda rushed over to Sirius.
"What have you got Ted?"
"I'm not sure. Harry says it was a curse from Snape, so it was probably Dark. I've got him stabilised I think..." Andromeda pulled her own wand and hovered over him. She breathed a sigh of relief and patted her husband on the back.
"Good work," she breathed.
"What about George?" Ginny asked.
"Not as good," Clarissa said, "He didn't account for Hagrid when he apparated. He's been splinched pretty bad."
Ginny took a deep breath and leaned against the wall.
"Well, that could have gone a whole lot worse."
"Well, that could have gone a whole lot worse," Ginny said casually. Clarissa's head shot up. There it was again! That infernal screeching. Her ears had been full of it since they entered the house, and it was driving her mad! She knew she'd heard it before but couldn't place where. Letting go of the Weasley twin's splinched leg, she angled her head towards a staircase on the far side of the lounge room.
You hear it too?
Yep. Any idea what it is?
I've got a vague idea. Remember what Doctor Strange showed us in the Floating Billywig?
Clarissa gasped. That's why the sound was so familiar!
"Oh, you just had to jinx it, didn't you?" Clarissa moaned. Everyone turned towards her, but she ignored them, instead standing up and making her way to the stairs. She called the Dragon Force into her cells, resistant though it was after Will's stint on the Discworld, and pushed it into her eyes and hands. The Dragon Force was infinite power, but they could only channel so much of it without burning themselves to a crisp. In an instant, the room became more vivid. Bright hues of dozens of different colours filling her vision. The ambient magic billowing off the people in the room, the residual power within the building itself, the wards surrounding them. But there was one trail that definitely didn't belong. It was black, dirty, and filthy. Like dirty oil. It was faint but incredibly clear to her enhanced vision. Pooling the Dragon Force into her hands, lest something attack, she stepped onto the second-floor landing.
"Clarissa, what are you doing?" Ginny asked. Clarissa ignored her, focusing on the trail instead. It was stronger up here… down the corridor. She advanced, using the light in her hand to illuminate the darkness until she arrived at the very end of the hallway, where the trail veered upwards into the roof. She could practically taste it on the air. Like a rotten fruit, or liquid tar. Intense scrutiny revealed a hatch leading up to an attic. She reached out with the Dragon Force and pulled the hatch down, before launching herself up into the enclosed roof space.
Bending her back and forcing herself not to gag, she brightened the tiny space. There were half a dozen cardboard boxes labelled 'Lockets', 'Cups', 'Rings' or 'Diadems/Crowns?' Whatever it was she was searching for was in here, but there was so much of the darkness that she couldn't pierce it.
It's in here, but I can't trace it. Now what?
"Clarissa, what are you doing?" Ginny called again.
"There's something in here. Something dark," she replied. She moved to the closest box and pulled it open. There were dozens of cups and mugs sitting inside.
"Dark? What kind of dark? Can you tell?" Harry yelled. There was something in his voice, an edginess perhaps, that made her stop.
"I'm not sure."
"Is it a container? Like for memories or something similar?" Clarissa's eyes went wide. He knew? Of course, he knew. He killed the first one, after all.
"It should be…"
"Check for lockets or rings first. If it is one of them, then those will be the most dangerous." Clarissa did as instructed, abandoning the box of cups and moving to one full of rings. They were all gold, wedding rings probably. Some had large jewels adorning them, and most had a foul taint to them, but nothing like what she was searching for.
"How do you know?" Will was asking below.
"We received a message from my future self containing a list of six objects. Diary, Ring, Locket, Cup, Diadem and Snake. We think the diary refers to Tom Riddle's Diary, an artefact that I destroyed in my second year. It stored the memories of a sixteen-year-old Voldemort. So, either the other five are the same, or objects of similarly destructive power. Bad enough to send a message back in time to warn us at any rate. The Diary possessed Ginny for an entire year, and almost killed a half dozen others. If the other five are half as bad, we all need to be careful. We've been trying to hunt the others down. We think our friend Jessica's mother has the Cup, and the Snake is with Voldemort – I saw it in the Graveyard. Where the others are is up for debate, but seeing as the Diary and Cup were with prominent Death Eater families…"
"The other's might be too," Will concluded, "Good sleuthing.
Clarissa abandoned the ring box and moved to the next one, 'Lockets'. She opened the box and immediately recoiled.
"Got it!" Sitting in the box was a silver locket with a green S engraved into the front. Summoning a shield of Dragon Force around the necklace, she reached in and pulled it free. Holding her other hand over her mouth, she moved to the hatch and dropped it through, where it clanked on the floor. She jumped back down a second later.
"So, this is it?" Andromeda asked, picking the locket up from the ground and running her hand over it.
"I didn't think I recognised it when we inventoried Grimmauld," She whispered.
"Lucky we did. Who knows what might have happened if Molly had thrown it out?" Remus replied.
"That's it. I can feel it," Ginny said. She looked incredibly pale, and her eyes were glassy. Harry had an arm around her shoulders, stroking her hair.
She's one tough kid.
Will snatched the locket from Andromeda and grimaced as it touched his hand. He quickly encased it within a sphere of energy.
"Definitely a Horcrux," he said slowly.
Harry and Ginny went even paler.
"What's a Horcrux?" Remus asked.
"It's a piece of him. A piece of his Soul," Harry said, his voice cold and stiff.
"I was possessed by a piece of Voldemort's soul. That's even worse…" Ginny exclaimed, "I'm going to be sick…" Then she turned and raced into the bathroom.
"Take it downstairs, Will. I want everyone to see it die," Harry said, a tint of anger cracking the calm façade. Will nodded and brought it down into the main room where Hermione, Fred, George, Hagrid, Ted Tonks and a now awake Sirius were still standing.
"What's… That the WMD is it?" Sirius said, coming straight to the right conclusion.
"Yep. It's a Horcrux," Harry said simply, standing in the middle of the room with his arms folded.
Sirius and Hermione grimaced, but the others just looked confused.
"What's a Horcrux?" Hagrid asked, his head bumping against the ceiling.
Hermione gulped "The vilest type of magic known to Wizardkind. A Horcrux is a vessel within which someone can hide their soul. That's all I could find in the Hogwarts Library, someone removed all the references to it."
"That's basically it," Will confirmed, "You split your soul in half, and then hide part of it within an object – a Horcrux."
"What does it mean?" Fred asked.
"It means that so long as these things are still out there, Voldemort can't die," Harry said bluntly. This time everyone went white. Hagrid literally fell onto his ass with a loud thud.
"Merlin's beard…" Hagrid whispered.
"My god, I actually touched a piece of You-Know-Who's soul and I couldn't even bloody tell! It felt normal," Andromeda exclaimed, staring at her hand in horror.
"That's why he didn't die when the Killing Curse rebounded on him thanks to Mum's sacrifice. If we're going to kill him, we have to get rid of these things first," Harry said, a hint of steel returning to his voice.
"We have an advantage. Voldemort doesn't know we're onto him. Even better, we know what the objects are and how many there are. The Diary's already gone, the Snake is with Voldemort himself, the Locket's here, and the Cup is in Jones Manor. That leaves the Ring and the Diadem. All we have to do is find them."
"The Diary…" George whispered.
"Merlin, Ginny…" Fred muttered.
"And destroy them," came Ginny's voice from the staircase. "We have to destroy them too." She advanced down the stairs, looking much better than a few minutes previously, and leaned against Hagrid's shoulder.
"How do you even destroy a piece of someone's soul?" Andromeda asked.
"None of the books in the Hogwarts library could tell. I only found three references in the entire room, and only abstract one-liners in the Restricted Section," Hermione admitted.
"Basilisk Venom can do it," Ginny pointed out, "we could take a trip down to the Chamber. I don't think the Basilisk was ever actually moved."
"It's an idea, but I don't think carrying Basilisk Venom around with us is a good idea. One spilt drop and you're dead," Ted countered.
"If there's one substance that can do it, there has to be more," George said.
"There's plenty of things in nature just as destructive as a Basilisk's venom," Hagrid said, nodding his head up and down, "Kaiju saliva, Manticore sting, Phoenix tears, Dragon Fire…"
"How about an unhealthy dose of Dragon Force?" Clarissa asked, a grin worming its way onto her face. Everyone turned towards her and Will.
"Could it work?" Harry asked.
"Infinite Power, I don't see why it wouldn't work." Will shrugged and lowered the protective barrier. He levitated it into the centre of the room.
"Everyone back," Harry said as he and Clarissa walked forward. The young black-haired boy with the lightning bolt scar fingered the floating locket, before tilting his head.
"It's speaking Parseltongue. When I tell it to open, attack it as soon as you can. The Riddle in the Diary tried to kill me. Somehow, I don't think this will be much better." Clarissa nodded to him, she knew what she was doing.
Harry started hissing at the locket, and the 'S' on the front seemed to slither slightly. Then the clasp flew open, revealing a single red eye. A shockwave knocked them back, but Clarissa summoned all the Dragon Force she could to brace herself. The golden energy flared around her, filling her veins and materialising as coursing energy bleeding from her entire body. Her hair was wiping in the artificial wind, and her hands blazed with power.
"I have seen your heart Clarissa O'Neill, and it is mine!"
Inky black energy leached from inside the locket, billowing out into the air, conjuring images of Will lying dead beside a volcano sprang into her mind, and flashes of her, standing atop the Central Tower of Alcheringa, lightning dancing across the island as a mad look filled her eyes.
"And I have seen your fears!"
"Bye beautiful," came the whisper of Will's voice as he lay broken in a crater and the light faded from his eyes.
The Gemini Rune on her neck flared with all of Will's love and devotion and Clarissa reached out, clasping the locket in her hand.
"Not today." And, pushing all of her power into her fist, she clamped her hand closed. The locket was crushed into oblivion, and all the darkness vanished, replaced by a single piercing scream of agony, then nothing, leaving only Harry, her, and the rest of the Defenders, standing in the Tonks' living room.
"Two down…" Ginny began.
"Four to go." Harry finished.