Chapter 13

A/N: I do not own Harry Potter

The three apparated into the woods at the edge of Little Hangleton.

"It is very likely that Tom has dark wards if the Horcrux is indeed in the Gaunt residence."

"Perhaps it'd be best if you transfigured your robes, Albus," Severus pointed out quietly. Albus looked down at his midnight blue ensemble with phoenixes and griffins.

"I suppose so," he frowned, before waving his hand to turn them into a navy suit.

"Wait, do we have to wear suits?" Sirius whined, looking down at his own Rush tee shirt and jeans.

"Just get going, mutt."

They strolled down the street casually, Sirius waving at passing Muggles and Severus glaring at them. The Gaunt hovel was in extreme disrepair, and a young woman wrinkled her nose when seeing them head directly for it.

"That dump's liable to collapse at any moment," she called out to them, "the only reason it's not roped off is everyone knows to avoid it."

"Thank you, but we're with the demolition commission," Albus said firmly, sending a nonverbal Confundus at the woman, "Ward us."

Severus complied immediately, muttering one of his special silencing spells. Sirius lifted up the snakeskin at the door and tossed it aside.

"That could have been jinxed!"

"Well, it wasn't."

"Just don't touch anything else, Black." Sirius mumbled something about being an Auror and potions masters that Severus ignored. However, he raised his wand to open the door with an unlocking spell. The door swung open to reveal a pile of collapsed ceiling and a layer of dust over the floor. Albus started muttering a string of incantations in rapid Latin, waving his wand around in circular motions. A small chest appeared in the center of the hovel. He flicked his wrist and it creaked open, showing an old signet ring perched upon a green velvet pillow.

Without scanning for any more enchantments Albus practically dove for the ring. Sirius made to grab him by the middle but Severus was faster, casting a quick body bind at the temporarily crazed headmaster. Sirius let out a sigh of relief and began to check for nasty curses on the horcrux with what Severus guessed were typical Auror precautions for dark object removal. He almost forgot to look unimpressed when Black announced the presence of no less than seven curses on the container and the ring, including an eternal withering hex woven into the silver for any non-descendant of Slytherin, and proceeded to easily break them all.

"It wasn't my pretty face that got me through Auror training in a year!" Sirius said smugly to Severus, "You want to do the honors, or shall I?" Severus rolled his eyes and plucked the ring out of the box, waiting momentarily for some dark hex to strike him down. When it didn't, he slipped the ring into an enchanted mokeskin pouch that Hagrid had presented to him recently. He unfroze Albus, who looked thoroughly ashamed.

"Sorry lads, not sure what came over me." His eyes told a different story, lacking any sort of twinkle. Severus noticed that he looked at the pouch for longer than necessary.

"Back to your office then, Albus?" he asked softly. He received a strong nod in response.

"Of course, my boy. With all haste! I would like to be in my comfortable robes again! I've never been able to get used to these restrictive Muggle fashions, though I am rather fond of their tie selection. He fingered the black silk tie and it turned a revolting shade of purple that resembled a stuffed dinosaur in Harry's nursery. Sirius snickered, and the tie sprouted matching green spots. They exited the sad looking hovel and walked thirty paces before apparating away to Hogsmeade.

"Alright, so how do we destroy it?" Sirius exclaimed.

"Horcruxes can only be destroyed when it is damaged beyond repair. Normal spells like the cutting curse or a blasting curse will do nothing. The two best methods I've researched are Fiendfyre or something as poisonous as basilisk venom."

"Well, we can't get basilisk venom in England, but I think you can control Fiendfyre, correct?" Severus reasoned, looking expectantly at the headmaster. Dumbledore's face wrinkled for a moment.

"I'd rather not burn this particular horcrux to ashes. It holds a value to more than just Tom Riddle. Therefore I am glad I was fortunate enough to obtain a vial of basilisk venom." he produced the tiny glass tube from a drawer in his desk and held it aloft. It looked like black sludge.

"What if you're not around and we need to destroy one?" Sirius asked, frowning.

"We learn how to cast and control Fiendfyre, Black."

"That'll take months!"

"It may take us years to locate all the horcruxes," Albus reminded him gently, dripping the venom onto the horcrux which began to hiss and spew black smoke.

"What's the stone in the ring, Albus," Severus asked softly, not liking the possessive look in the old headmaster's eyes as he held the newly destroyed horcrux.

"I'd rather not say until I'm able to study it for a few days, my boy." Sirius looked at Severus with an eye raised.

"I think we have a right to know."

"C'mon Albus, we aren't going to take it, just tell us." Albus shook his head again, moving to place the stone in his warded desk. Sirius, however, was quicker, and snatched the ring out of his hand.

"Sirius, now is not the time."

"For once I fully support the mutt," Severus folded his arms, "I don't like how that ring affects you."

"What's so great about it anyway?" Sirius began twirling the ring around idly.

"NO!" Albus cried too late, as Sirius quickly turned it around three times in his hands. The ghostly spectre of Regulus Black emerged out of the stone.

"Bloody hell!"

"Hello big brother," Regulus the ghost looked around the office, smirking when he sighted Severus, "Sev."

"Reg, it's-it's great to see you," Severus choked out, both surprised at seeing the closest friend standing in front of him again and completely ignorant of what kind of object the Gaunt ring could be.

"I didn't know you came back."

"I didn't, Siri," Sirius flinched at his childhood nickname, "You called me back."

"What? Reg, you can't-"

"With that stone, you can. So you found out about the horcruxes?"

"Yes, we've destroyed one." Regulus nodded.

"And the locket? Has Kreacher destroyed the locket, Sirius?" Sirius looked dumbstruck, and then ashamed.

"He hasn't told me anything, Reg. You know we don't get on."

"Hard time letting go of the past, big brother? No matter, I suppose you'd do just as well as Kreacher. Before I-before he killed me, he entrusted me with a special task. I don't know why, a desire to test my loyalty, a need to make a contingency in case he perished, or a simple need of a suitable house elf. It doesn't matter now, I suppose. I betrayed him, stole the locket, and placed a cheap substitute in its place, in a cave where he played as a child. Kreacher has the locket, if he hasn't destroyed it he's hidden it in Grimmauld Place."

"What is the stone, Regulus. You know, don't you," Severus asked quickly. Regulus turned and sneered at the headmaster.

"All those secrets will be your downfall, you old fool." Sirius snorted.

"It's one of the most dangerous magical objects in the world."

"To you as to one of them, I'd wager," Regulus turned back to the two younger men, "It's the Resurrection stone, one of the Deathly Hallows."