Chapter 8 Horcruxes
It was already mid-afternoon when they finally reached the topic of horcruxes again.
"How many are there?" Snape inquired with a grave tone. Harry had the complete attention of both men since this wasn't something Dumbledore could ask the day prior. It had been too much to process in too little time, not to mention that the prospect of using the resurrection ring had taken priority on the headmaster's list.
"His soul is split in eight, if you consider the one that is in his current body."
Harry watched as both men reacted to that terrible truth. Dumbledore closed his eyes, as if his worst fears had come true and he wasn't willing to deal with them yet, while Snape drew in a sharp breath before falling silent in horrified shock. It may have been a trick of the light, but Harry could swear both of them had paled slightly.
"Seven containers, seven horcruxes… of course, the most powerfully magical number." Dumbledore whispered, looking intensely at a random spot on the desk's surface.
"Precisely." he nodded in confirmation at the headmaster, before smirking confidently "Then again, three of them have already been destroyed."
Snape looked incredulously at him, while Dumbledore simply nodded, unsurprised at the statement.
"Remember the Diary young Harry destroyed in his second year?" Albus elaborated looking at Snape, which made the man's expression twist, as if he had swallowed a particularly sour lemon.
"You mean Potter destroyed a Horcrux when he wasn't even a teen?"
"Potter most certainly did." Harry replied with a playful smirk, which made Snape scoff at him. He chuckled at the way the man's frown deepened, but couldn't say anything else since Dumbledore spoke again.
"The ring would be the second, but that is the last I'm aware of. Which was the third?"
The Head of Slytherin frowned, taking a breath to inquire more on the ring but Harry beat him to it. After all, he would rather not touch that particular topic at the moment.
"It was Slytherin's locket."
Dumbledore's eyes lit up in recognition, so Harry guessed the headmaster had already gotten the set of memories regarding that particular horcrux.
"I destroyed it as soon as I found it, as it was necessary to recover the fourth horcrux, which was stored in Gringotts." Harry felt something between amusement and pride when both men looked at him with disbelief. He felt like bragging about the way he had gotten Hufflepuff's cup the first time, if only to see their reactions, so Harry leaned back in his chair and started the tale with an amused smile.
His effort was rewarded with Dumbledore's twinkling eyes, seemingly entertained at the prospect of getting the hell out of Gringotts via riding a dragon, while Snape simply shook his head minutely while grunting "It is only dumb luck you survived that." under his breath.
"You would be surprised how many times we survived only with dumb luck," Harry stated matter-of-factly at the Potion's Master "Hermione used to play with the theory that we had felix felicis running in our veins instead of blood."
Snape scorned at the playful tone, but couldn't retort since Dumbledore spoke up first. "Since the Daily Prophet has yet to publish a dragon escaping from Gringotts using the main hallway," the headmaster joked, smiling at him "I do suppose you used other, more discrete methods this time around."
Harry smiled knowingly at Dumbledore, fully aware that the old man kept meddling in to make sure a discussion wouldn't start between Harry and Snape, but couldn't deny the effectiveness of the method.
"Hufflepuff's cup was stored in Lestrange's vault, so I simply needed someone from the Black family to get to it—"
"So Black helped you?" Snape hissed, interrupting him. Harry raised an unimpressed eyebrow at the Slytherin, but Dumbledore was the one to answer that query.
"Sirius wouldn't have been able to help Harry, since he is still regarded as an escaped convict." the headmaster explained patiently to the Potion's Master, who didn't bother to hide the animosity he felt towards Sirius "I admit I'm curious, since Andromeda was disowned that would leave only Narcissa. Did you manage to convince her?"
Harry smiled meaningfully upon hearing Dumbledore's hypothesis before shaking his head in negative "Not exactly. I don't know if he will come at my call, but there's no loss in trying—"
"Don't break the wards again—!"
Snape and Harry spoke at the same time. For a short moment nothing happened, before the familiar Crack! echoed as the house elf appeared in the middle of the room. Kreacher glared distrustfully at Snape and Dumbledore, grunting low under his breath before the bloodshot eyes finally focused on Harry.
"Good Lord Peverell called for Kreacher?"
"Indeed; thank you for coming Kreacher. Could you do me a small favor and bring Master Regulus' locket?" Harry requested softly, which made the house elf look indecisively at him, seemingly torn between complying with Harry's request and refusing to take his precious treasure out of Grimmauld Place.
This internal dilemma lasted for a whole minute before the house elf decided that he owned too much to Harry to deny his request, which made the creature nod with an unsatisfied grumble before it disappeared again.
"The house elf of the Black family?" Snape inquired, raising an eyebrow at him "How did you manage that?"
"Sirius' younger brother was a repentant Death Eater" Harry summarized with a shrug which made Snape's eyes open a little wider in surprise. Harry mildly wondered if the two had worked together or used to be on good terms, that would explain how Snape had recognized the house elf so readily. "Regulus also happened to be Kreacher's favorite Master— wait, he is about to come back."
Not a moment afterwards the house elf returned, the burnt, unrecognizable piece of gold hanging from the chain that was tangled on long fingers.
"You used Fiendfyre." Dumbledore stated, and Harry didn't bother to correct him "If I may take a closer look, Kreacher?" the old man asked kindly, extending an awaiting hand.
Predictably, the house elf answered by glaring and bringing the burnt locket closer to its small body, now grasping it using both hands as if trying to hide it from Dumbledore.
"I give you my word; the locket will be returned to you. Master Regulus would have wanted you to keep it after all." Harry reassured, which made the house elf hesitate again before he approached the desk with small, indecisive steps. The locket was offered to Dumbledore reluctantly, and the old man nodded and carefully took it from Kreacher's long fingers, as if it was a delicate treasure.
The Headmaster turned the object, critical eyes evaluating the melted gold, before he used his wand to run diagnosis spells at it. Seemingly satisfied by his findings, Dumbledore returned the locket in the same careful manner he took it, which made Kreacher stand on his toes in his attempt to have it back just a second sooner.
"Thank you Kreacher. You may return to Black's residence now." Harry addressed the house elf, who seemed busy inspecting the melted gold as if to make sure Dumbledore hadn't done anything to it.
Once satisfied, Kreacher nodded and bowed to Harry, completely ignoring the other two people on the room before disappearing with a loud Crack!
"I take back my words. Winky is a role model in comparison to that thing." Snape commented with a scowl, which made Dumbledore chuckle before turning towards Harry.
"So those are the remains of the third horcrux. I wonder how young Regulus managed to acquire it…"
Harry smiled sadly at the inquiry, stating simply "By paying a heavy price, I assure you. Regulus gave the task of destroying Slytherin's locket to Kreacher, as his final wish. And since I destroyed it, I managed to convince Kreacher to help me get Hufflepuff's cup from the Lestrange Vault." Harry continued before standing up, raising a hand theatrically. "I will summon it here."
Before any of the men could react, Harry silently activated an Yggdrasil's spell.
Making sure to affect only Dumbledore and Snape, Harry made a signal for Solution to come down from the ceiling.
"Hadrian-sama, should I−?"
"Ah, please ignore him. Is nothing personal, he hates pretty much anything that moves." Harry immediately dismissed upon seeing the way Solution glared at Snape.
"…Still, to scowl at Hadrian-sama in such a way…" Solution frowned heavily. He was glad to have excluded her from the wards, had she listened to Snape, Harry probably wouldn't have been able to interfere on time.
"Thank you, but there's no need to act on it." Harry said while patting Solution's shoulder, which made her immediately relax and smile sweetly at him. "Consider it an order, ignore everything that man does unless it is to personally harm me."
"Understood." While still unconvinced, Solution bowed deeply at the acceptance of his order, now with a serious expression on her face. The action made Harry nod approvingly before continuing.
"Good. Now then, give me the cup we recovered from the Wizarding Bank. The effect will stop soon." Harry stated, since he had been paying attention to the time passed since its activation.
Solution placed a hand on her cleavage and pressed until it went through, before taking out the cursed cup of gold. Taking it with both hands, Solution bowed before offering the object to him.
"Thank you. You can go back to your hiding position now, don't come out unless I call for you."
Solution nodded and hid, just in time as the effect of [Time stop] reached its end.
"How did it…?" Snape muttered under his breath, since the Cup had suddenly materialized from their perspective. Harry wouldn't have heard him if he weren't already expecting that kind of reaction.
"Pay it no heed." Harry shrugged with a secretive smile before placing Hufflepuff's cup over the desk. "Since Albus destroyed one already, I believe this one should go down by your hand."
He took the base of the cup and slid it towards Snape. The Potions Master looked at it, frowning in apprehension and… disgust?
Ah, this was the first time he was exposed at the Horcrux's dark magic, wasn't he?
"To believe the Dark Lord made seven of these…" Snape muttered as Dumbledore made a wand motion, summoning the Sorting Hat. The Potions Master quirked an eyebrow at the action, which made Dumbledore smile twinklingly at him before taking out Gryffindor's sword.
To Snape's credit, the slight widening of the dark eyes would have been impossible to detect if Harry didn't had such a good eyesight.
"A goblin-made sword, covered in Basilisk's venom thanks to Potter's little adventure on second year." Harry said playfully, smirking at the fed up humph that was released from Snape.
Still, oddly enough, the teacher didn't take the sword that Dumbledore offered.
"That girl… Aura. She gave me basilisk venom." Snape stated matter-of-factly as he turned to focus on Harry, which made him smile in amusement.
"Well, I needed money to live here. I figured a Basilisk was more than enough to obtain it." He replied to the unspoken question with a careless shrug, before nodding at the man "I assume you want to use that small amount to destroy it? Go ahead. If you need more venom for potions, I can take you down to the Chamber of Secrets some other time."
Although he said this about potions, Harry actually made eye contact with the two men, the offer available for both. Dumbledore's gaze brightened at the prospect of going into such an ancient chamber, and even Snape's dark eyes seemed livelier all of the sudden.
"I'd love to Harry." Dumbledore smiled at him while Snape simply nodded in agreement, before reaching into his pocket to take out the small little flask with yellowish liquid.
"You carried it with you?" Harry asked in surprise, considering how insecure would it be if the flask was broken or stolen. This question, oddly enough, only made Snape turn away from him however.
"…I suspected you. Did you think I'd be unprepared for battle?" Snape replied unemotionally after a small pause, gaze focused on Hufflepuff's cup.
Woah, so Snape would have tried to poison him if he had been a threat? Maybe just thrown it at him so it would burn off his skin like acid?
Harry mentally whistled, suddenly remembering that Snape had been, in fact, one of the scariest men he had met on his first life. It wouldn't have worked since Harry had resistance against poison and [Burned] negative status, but considering this plan would have been efficient even on the Dark Lord himself, he couldn't help but be somewhat impressed.
Choosing not to comment on it, since it seemed to make the other uncomfortable, Harry simply nodded in acceptance and took a step back. Dumbledore also placed some distance, watching with attentive gaze as Snape opened the vial and poured a single drop over the horcrux.
A pained scream resounded loudly within the field of Harry's privacy wards. The part of the cup that had received that drop burned all the way through, like a knife going through butter, and it was quickly followed by even more drops of venom.
It was an oddly slow way of killing a horcrux, which wasn't good at all.
Harry immediately tensed, summoning his elder wand and pointing it at the cup to contain the harmful magic that was attempting to lash out at Snape in self-defense. The Potions Master threw him a confused look for a moment, but seemed to dismiss the action as he poured even more venom on the horcrux.
The howls of pain resounded for a whole minute, until the cup was finally too melted to hold the small piece of Voldemort's soul any longer.
It was fitting considering Snape was a Potions Master, but that flask should have been completely poured at once, not slowly as the man had done. Still, looking at the satisfied expression Snape wore, Harry chose not the bring up the topic as he lowered his wand and relaxed his tense posture.
"That was dangerous Severus." Dumbledore reprimanded what Harry had chosen not to. "Did you really believe it would not try to defend itself?"
"I'd have been able to counter it." Snape muttered distractedly, gaze still focused on the destroyed cup. The man's posture was oddly relaxed, as if this had served as a therapy of sorts.
Choosing not to mention anything about this, Harry simply stepped closer to pick up the remnants of the cup.
"Another one down then." Harry commented after studying the unrecognizable piece of gold, turning the melted piece on his hand to see it from all angles "This should be enough for today."
Darkness was beginning to eat out the sky, with only a few weak rays of the sun visible on the border. Harry suspected dinner would begin soon on the Great Hall, so he made a hand motion to turn off his privacy wards, thus Solution could hear him once more.
"Let's leave the rest for another−" Harry started to say before suddenly halting "What is this?" he whispered, not recognizing the message his wards were conveying.
His wards had been… not broken, but the sensory one was…
"Is everything all right? Harry?"
"Hm?" Dumbledore's voice snapped him out of his pensive status, but Harry still was frowning in confusion. "I believe so? It doesn't feel like something urgent. It's still odd however… ah, I'll check it and be done with it."
Harry thought out loud, ignoring the confusion of both men before turning on his heel to go out of the Headmaster's room.
"Wait, why are you going to Hogwarts?" Snape's voice sounded from somewhere behind him, but Harry didn't turn around to look.
"Need to check something real quick. I'll be careful not to be seen, no worries." Harry replied lightly, making himself invisible, silent and odorless with a couple of wand motions, elder wand suddenly on his hand.
For some reason, he felt the wards around the Vanishing cabinet emitting a signal. But no one in this world should be able to trespass them by force, and they didn't feel broken at all…
—An hour earlier—
While Harry and Solution were present on the Headmaster's office, back in Potter Manor, the rest of the NPCs were gathered in a single room; the Library.
Back in Nazarick's world, they had been forced to learn the written symbols used by the nearby Kingdoms, so they would not depend on magical items to traduce documents for them. In addition to these new languages, English was also necessary, so they could understand the books Hadrian-sama tended to lend to them.
The only language everyone had known originally had been Japanese, since it was the one used for all the books that were held on Nazarick's massive library 'Ashurbanipal', located on the 10th Floor. It had taken a while, but in the end most of Nazarick's population could read these few languages without much issue.
Right now, all of them were distributed among the spacious room in Potter manor, each of them reading a book.
"W-we are being treated like children a-again" Mare muttered softly, his words resounding in the otherwise silent room.
No one could really object his statement.
They were, sadly, knowledgeable of the way Hadrian-sama reacted whenever he was disappointed, whenever they made a mistake or failed to fulfill his expectative. Their Master would sigh and give them a new, easy-to-fulfill order as if testing them, something so easy to perform there was no way to fail the task.
This was the reason all of them were currently gathered in the library, with an order to "search for the main cause neither [Message] nor the [Mirror of Remote View] had worked." The library had enough books that assigning this to all of them was somewhat understandable, and it was impossible to fail since even if they didn't find the right answer, it would be due to the lack of information gathered in the library and no fault would befall on them.
"Hadrian-sama is the kindest Master, tolerating our shameful mistakes without exerting a severe punishment." Sebas was the first to answer, icy blue eyes looking at Mare with something akin to reprimand.
"That is precisely what makes it effective… As expected of a Supreme Being, such a perfect punishment would not be possible without complete understanding of our personalities." Demiurge was the second to speak, closing the book he had just finished a little too harshly, the sound echoing in the library.
There was no need to explain what he meant, everyone present understood his words.
For them, the servants that would do everything in their power to properly aid their Master, they would rather atone for their sins with death, or intense pain as the lightest of punishments. Even some years imprisoned or the restriction of some liberties would be better than this.
They had been created to fulfill the expectative of the Supreme Beings, failing on that was not only a grave crime on itself, but also was an offense to their creators. Each and every single one of them had been created by a Supreme Being, which meant they were made with the characteristics needed to properly fulfill their tasks. So what did it mean for their creators when their servants, their creations, were inadequate?
A light punishment like this one was terribly unsatisfying. They felt the need to repent, the need to prove themselves capable as if there was something crawling under their skin like a very real, essential obligation.
None of them was aware that Harry's true motive behind the light punishment, the easy-to-follow order, was meant to calm them down and help them build up confidence again.
"We will find the answer; it is the least we can do to pay back Hadrian-sama's amiability." Albedo stated from her position near the back of the library, looking at the rest of the NPCs gathered in the room "Even if the answer is not here."
"Hmm? What will we do if the answer is not in the Manor?" Shalltear directed her question to the Guardian's overseer, delicate brows furrowed in confusion "Where else can we search?"
Albedo smiled at the vampire before turning her golden gaze towards the unassuming cabinet behind her, determined words traveling around the silent room with ease.
"Sebas did mention that this piece of furniture is actually a Gateway to Hogwarts."
"I see; according to 'Hogwarts a History' the school is renowned for its extensive library." Demiurge nodded in agreement, looking with interest at the Vanishing Cabinet as well.
"Is it really ok for us to go through? Hadrian-sama said to search on the Manor's library after all." Aura questioned insecurely, not quite willing to risk her Master's discontent.
"Hadrian-sama didn't say we had to stay, and all of us already have our illusory runes. Leaving this library if it proves to be unsatisfactory should not cause any problems." Demiurge answered Aura's inquiry with a reassuring nod, before turning towards the succubus "Dividing us in three groups to search on Diagon Alley and Knocturn Alley as well would be the best method."
"It must be what Hadrian-sama expects from us." Albedo agreed with an angelic smile, wings flapping once in anticipation.
The others shared a silent look, but in the end nodded in agreement. If Albedo and Demiurge thought that was the best course of action, the probability of them being right was high.
There was, surely, no better way to fix their mistake.
I think Harry would tease Snape to death if Dumbledore wasn't there to stop them from discussing haha.
As you may have surmised, Harry felt as the cabinet was used, but the wards weren't trespassed since the NPCs and Harry were keyed into them in the first place. Harry is going to investigate by checking the Cabinet's pair at Hogwarts, since the NPCs would surely had sent Lyre with a message if an intruder had suddenly gone into the Manor.
Well, the first meeting of the NPCs with Student!Harry is finally coming next chapter! It's going to be interesting~
Ah, I can't believe that, in almost a year, I've only written 8 chapters for this story. So saaad! I should pick up the pace on this one, considering this fic is meant to have less chapters than the other ones to be completed.
On another note, I own an apology to my dear Beta Reader Nyx. I was sure I had updated the last few chapters with his corrections, but it seems I only did so in AO3, so was left with the other version until just recently. I'm sorry! I really thought I had updated this site too! Thank you for helping me with grammar issues, it's really appreciated w
On another note, I've just started a new story named "Raid Boss" here in this site, same X-over section. I hereby invite you to take a look~
This chapter was short (sorry it took me so damn long to publish, considering the reduced length) with 3.7K words = 9 pages in Word.
Thanks for reading and hope you liked it! See ya' soon~
I'll be trying to publish a new chapter on my three stories at the same time, so if you're reading this one I invite you to take a look to the other 2 as well. Happy reading!