Chapter 26

Draco pulled the gold string that was suspended above the glass bell and hammer. A piece of parchment fluttered down to the floor and Draco stooped to pick it up.

Dear Draco,

Seems odd not to call you Malfoy, but in times like these, I guess putting aside differences is a good thing. We both were prats in school, I look back at that day in Madam Milkens, and I wonder if I shook your hand, if things could have been different between us. I think it would have, we wouldn't have been pitted against each other in different houses. Might have even found out we were alike in some ways. I never told anyone other than Dumbledore, but the Sorting Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin, so you see, we probably could have gotten to be good friends. I want to give you something Draco, even though I can't give it to you of my own free will; I would do it in a heartbeat if I could. Outside this vault is a lake, down inside that lake is a dagger, just not any dagger, but Merlin's Dagger.

Draco stopped reading and looked out the vault door at the black water. "Bloody Hell! That's where that old fool hid it." Draco went back to the letter.

You know the old legend, that he hid his dagger to keep part of his magic alive for his heir. I found the dagger, I'm his heir, but I can't reach it. Part of the legend also said that once an enemy turned friend would be able to reach it. You are the only one I can think of that, that would qualify for this. I was destined to kill Voldemort not you. I didn't even want to kill him, but I had no choice, I had no choice in my life, my life was dictated the instant that I survived that curse. I never had a life that I could truly call my own. That was why I took the de-aging, innocence potion. I wanted what I was robbed of, a family. You have a choice Draco, you can walk away, Merlin knows I would, it wasn't pretty in that lake, I almost died, I wouldn't be around if it hadn't been for Solon. He pulled me out of the lake, he was the one who told me it was because of my blood that I could not get the dagger. Funny, how blood holds such an importance in ones life. We never think of it, it's always there; we take it for granted. The lake to me is poison, because of my blood; I was dying in that lake. I'm asking you to retrieve that dagger, retrieve something I can't do for myself. Darien will need that dagger, and only a Slytherin with Slytherin blood will know which one it is. You will have a reward for it, but I can't say what that reward is, but, I know it is something you will like, something you've always wanted.

Your friend and now godbrother,

Harry Potter and now Darien Michael Snape

Draco reread the letter two more times. He kept glancing at the lake. "By the Gods, Harry Potter you are insane."

Draco walked around the vault, pacing, letting off steam. What Harry was asking of him was plain suicide. If the water had that potential to the boy-who-lived, Draco shuttered at the thought of what could actually to him if he went inside the water. Besides he wasn't even sure how deep the under ground lake was, not to mention he didn't like the idea of what the water dwellers looked like either. They didn't look like the sort that would allow unwanted visitors to their water realm either. Through Draco's pacing around the vault a silver string now appeared above the bell and hammer. Draco caught the color of the string and yanked hard on the thing, wondering now what would materialize inside this enchanted vault. A wooden box fell to the floor, nothing special, it looked like an old Muggle cigar box. Draco had seen one that had been enchanted when he was with his father in Knockturn Alley when he was younger. Opening it up, Draco found gillyweed and another small note.

Eat it, it will help you breath underwater. H.P.

"Right Potter. Like I'm that stupid." Draco paced some more.

It wasn't that Draco didn't want to do this, he found himself growing more and more curious about the whole situation as it was. The dagger had been something that Merlin had hidden for a reason, it was said to be astonishing. A legend in its own right. The dagger had been forged out of magic, Merlin's own magic. Merlin had been one of the most powerful Mage's the magical world had ever seen. Draco looked back to the lake, it looked black and foreboding. He was no coward. Draco picked up the gillyweed and walking out of the vault he peered down into the water, the steam still rising. He could see nothing, the wind whistled inside the cavern, leaving him with an unearthly feel. Steeling his nerve, Draco placed the gillyweed in his mouth and dove head first into the black water.


Hermione had finished up the schedule and headed out into the halls and up the stairs to go see Janus. She rounded a corner and stopped when she saw that flash of red hair. Her heart picked up and started racing. Percy glared at her and was flanked with two Auror.

"Well, if it isn't the little know-it-all." He snarled at her.

Hermione gritted her teeth, she hated that childhood nickname. "What are you doing here Percy?"

Percy strode over to her looking down at her. Hermione hadn't grown that much, she was still smaller compared to him. "When I figure out where that little boy came from, you'll regret ever having adopted him. You won't have him too much longer. And you'll be brought before court, I'll see to it."

"I haven't done anything wrong Percy. Darien is legally mine, there isn't anything you can do about it." Hermione shoved him aside and continued walking.

"Wait and see." Percy called after her. "By the way. Where is Harry?"

Her steps faltered. She started walking again, quicker this time.

"Guess we'll just add foul play to that long growing list you're tacking up there." Percy yelled at her after she rounded the corner out of sight.

Her found herself enveloped in coldness and a white haze. She realized she was standing in the center of the Bloody Baron and backed up. The warmth flooded her body as soon as she stepped out of his ghostness.

"I.I'm sorry." Hermione stammered out.

The Baron cocked his head and studied her. "A Lioness should never apologize." The Baron got down where he was right in her face. "A Lioness always defends her young and will go to any length to protect them. Find that Lioness within yourself that you have seemed to have lost." With that he shot up through the ceiling.

Hermione stared at that part of the ceiling not believing what just had happened. The whole time she had been at Hogwarts, the ghosts never really helped them. Or given them advice. Well excluding Moaning Mertle, she helped plenty. But the Bloody Baron had always been a torment to the Gryffindor students while they were here. She had never seen him speak civil to anyone other than someone in Slytherin.

"He wants me to find it? How the hell do I do that? It wasn't like I lost it, it was stolen from me." Hermione seethed to the ceiling.

The Baron's head popped back through. "Then take it back. Surely you can put that brilliant mind of yours to work into a plan that would get what you want. Or is that to Slytherin for you."

Hermione placed her hands on her hips and glared at the ghost. "I'll have you know I can be a Slytherin if I wanted too."

He grinned at her. "Then do it." He threw the gauntlet down and cackled with laughter at the gleam in her eyes. "My, you just may be a snake covered in lion hair." He swirled down the hall she was in. "Wouldn't be the first time." He slashed his sword at the paintings and Hermione watched as the owners of the paintings went flittering out of his reach.

With new determination, Hermione took off, she had to go find a book, and it wasn't in Hogwarts. Not the one she was looking for now. She needed one that she knew of, but it would mean she would have to go to the last place she wanted. She just hoped Mr. and Mrs. Weasley would be accommodating.