Chapter Eleven: Blood Ties
Hope you're well. About these earrings; Father gave the emeralds to me years ago. Well, I say he gave them to me; actually I took them from his desk. But I'm sure he would have given them to me anyway.
He told me about them, though. He said they'd been in the family for centuries, and they were originally discovered in Egypt with some others the same. The others have got lost over the years; I can't tell you what happened to them.
I think there's a legend about them somewhere; something about each of the gems being magically bound to any blood member of the family, or something like that. I think it stems from the time Morcraban was rising to power. There's probably an accurate record somewhere in the old papers at the Manor.
I'll have a dig around here, but I think family records are the best place to start.
"Typical Aberforth," Albus muttered. "But at least that proves my theory."
"What theory?" Harry asked interestedly.
Albus sat down opposite the decorated fireplace and Harry sat facing him. "Minerva and I spoke to Professor Snape this morning. He confirmed what you'd seen in the vision and added some more, invaluable, information." Harry sat up straighter, eager to hear. "Severus thinks that Voldemort wants the emeralds for some sort of ritual – something that will greatly increase his chances of winning this war." Harry gulped.
"You mean, like make him stronger?"
"I don't know," Albus admitted, "and nor does Severus. There are several different things he could be planning, none of them good.
The theory I had that Aberforth confirmed was where the emeralds came from in the first place." Albus took a deep breath. "There are five of them – Voldemort has two, we have one, and the other two could be anywhere. They were created by one of our own ancestors, as it happens; that's how Aberforth had them."
"What exactly do they do?" Harry asked nervously. "What's their purpose?"
"You remember Morcraban?" Harry nodded. "Unless I've got my family history muddled, those were what she used to curse the family."
"So … they can remove people's magic? Like yours or mine?"
"Precisely. But there's more to the emeralds – the man who created them, Amon-Akins, developed them for a completely different reason … I just don't know what it was."
Harry groaned. "Is it possible to find out?"
"I hope so, or we're in trouble – particularly us."
"Why particularly us?"
"From what I can remember, those emeralds are linked to family members. If Voldemort had all five there's no knowing what he could do to either of us without coming anywhere near Hogwarts … that's why I was anxious when I found out about our link," he added seriously. "Having Thoron blood puts you in as much danger as me."
"Could he do something with only two emeralds, or would he have to have all five to be able to use them at all?" Harry suddenly thought of something. "You don't think … that's what's happening to me? Voldemort using the emeralds he has?"
Albus stared at him, the thought obviously not having crossed his mind before. After a moment he said slowly, "We can't rule it out."
Harry swallowed, unsure whether to be scared or relieved. Albus stood up suddenly, making him jump. "I've got something to show you."
When Harry looked at him questioningly he merely grinned and moved towards his fireplace. There were four tiles above, each with an animal engraved on them: a lion, a badger, an eagle and a serpent. Albus pressed the eagle and the stone sunk about half an inch into the stone before moving back into position. He continued to do this several times, each with a different animal, in a secret combination. Then he stood back.
The fireplace sunk into the wall and spun round, revealing a large, dark space. Albus gave Harry a nudge on the back and he stepped through nervously. The other side was pitch black. As he tried to see through the darkness he heard the doorway closing behind him.
Suddenly light flared up in many lamps. Harry blinked, his eyes watering.
The room was huge. The domed ceiling was half the height of the Great Hall, and half as long. The curved walls were lined with shelves, bookcases, display cases, cupboards and cabinets. Things were whirring animatedly all over the place; it was a flurry of colour. At the end of the room hung a pair of heavy, moth-eaten curtains.
"Welcome, Harry, to my secret grotto."
"Wow," was all Harry could manage. "What is all this stuff?"
"Various little items I'm accumulated over the years. Books. Artefacts. Weapons. I'd rather you didn't mention it to anybody, most things in here the Ministry would probably want to confiscate."
Albus pulled open the nearest cabinet and took a small box down from the top shelf, opened it and showed Harry the contents.
"One Thoron emerald," he said in satisfaction. "The chances of Voldemort getting to this one I would guess a being less than zero."
"Who knows about this place?" Harry said in amazement, drawing nearer to a glass case opposite in wonder.
"Careful," Albus warned him, "don't touch anything. Some things in here are dangerous. And, besides Minerva, you're the first in about …" he paused, thinking. "A hundred years, give or take a couple of decades."
"Wow." Harry peered as close as he dared to the glass. "Is that what I think it is?"
Albus grinned and with a flick of his wand the front of the case vanished. "A family heirloom. I would rather keep the other in here as well, but stories travel so well around the school and people know all about it and want it on display."
"Can I …?"
"Go ahead. Be careful."
Harry reached into the case and gently lifted the silver sword from where it lay on its royal blue cushion. "Did you say family heirloom?" he asked, lifting it close enough to read the engraved name below the sapphire-encrusted hilt: Rowena Ravenclaw.
"I certainly did."
"You're – we're – descended from Ravenclaw?" Harry asked in amazement.
"That's right." Albus gently brushed a fleck of dust off the blade. "And Godric Gryffindor as well."
Harry nearly dropped the sword. "What?"
Albus chuckled. "History left out the fact that they had a son. Lawrence, his name was. He married a Thoron and the rest, as they say, is history. Well, for some."
"Blimey," Harry murmured. "How do you know all that?"
"I'll tell you in a few minutes." Albus took the sword back and placed it carefully back into its case. "I imagine you want to look around here a bit more before I introduce you to my friend."
Harry looked at him sharply and he grinned back. "I promised, didn't I? Anyway, he won't run away. Take your time, and don't touch anything. I'll be back in a minute."
"Where are you going?" Harry asked as Albus moved back towards the doorway leading out of the fireplace.
"To ask Heather Louise to join us later. Then I shall come back -" Albus pulled a lever of some sort and stepped into the doorway. "- and introduce you two. He's been dying to meet you for years."
Albus winked at him. "Back in a minute."
Harry gazed at Ravenclaw's sword for a moment before tearing his eyes away and scouring the room. He had already resolved not to touch anything before Albus had told him. Something caught his eye, and he stared for a moment before drawing nearer.
A scythe hung on the wall. But it was no ordinary scythe. The handle was heavily and ornately engraved with a pattern that for some reason sent shivers up Harry's spine. The blade was sharp, unmarked and the place where it joined the handle was topped with a yellow-white stone carved in the shape of a skull.
This would have been strange enough, but what really grabbed Harry's attention was that the scythe seemed translucent – he could see the wall through it. The weapon was surrounded by a sort of ethereal glow, like a ghost.
"What's that?" he asked quietly as he heard Albus re-enter the secret room.
"I have no idea," Albus admitted. "It was found in the manor I grew up in. It was brought here by levitation charms, you can't actually touch it. Look." He stretched out a hand and attempted to grasp the scythe but it slid straight through. "See? You try."
The ghost-scythe was not solid, but Harry could definitely feel something. Like trying to grab water, he thought. It creeped him out and he withdrew his hand quickly.
"Didn't you say you were going to introduce me to your friend?"
"Oh, yes," Albus said brightly. "Over here."
Harry watched in confusion as Albus pulled back the moth-eaten curtains. There was nothing behind except the centre stone was bigger than the others by about half as much again, and jutted out half an inch or so. Albus had picked a gold-handled dagger from a shelf and put it to his finger before Harry realised what he was doing. "Albus! What's that for?"
Albus chuckled and wiped a drop of his blood onto the stone. "No worries, I've done this hundreds of times." He ran his wand over the cut, healing it, and stepped back to see the stone. "Good evening, Godric."
Harry opened his mouth.
He closed it again.
Words had engraved themselves upon the stone.
Good evening, Albus. I see I've finally managed to talk some sense into you.
"Godric?" Harry whispered. "Godric Gryffindor?"
"The Godric Gryffindor?"
Do you know of another?
Harry glanced at Albus. His eyes were twinkling with amusement.
More words appeared.
I must say Albus, you were right. The boy is most perceptive. You must be so proud.
Harry didn't know whether to laugh or not.
Godric Gryffindor at your service, my dear boy. Now, was there something in particular you wanted, Albus, or did you just feel like introducing me to Harry on the spur of the moment?
"Actually, I do have a bone to pick with you," Albus started. "Two words: Aminta and Harry."
That's three words … Ah. Oops.
"Yes, oops," Albus said, sounding half-annoyed, half-amused.
Dare I ask how you … um … found out?
"I had a look at the tree this morning to confirm suspicions."
That's … nice. Well. Congratulations.
All right, I'm sorry. But I was only following orders. Your orders.
"Wait – you knew Albus and I were related?" Harry asked, only just cottoning on to the conversation.
Of course. I'm guessing Albus has not got round to explaining that I have a link to the family tree – I know everything. I tell you, it hurts my head. If I had one, that is.
"Very funny," Albus muttered.
"Why didn't you say something?" Harry asked, confused. "Well, write something, I mean."
Your Uncle Albus refused to let me talk about the tree again after Aminta died. When he first mentioned Lily, and then you, I wanted to tell him but I have no defences to stop him giving me a good jinx, so I didn't.
Albus snorted. "Never stopped you before."
"Did he tell you about the Dursleys?" Harry asked. He felt he deserved an explanation why he had to grow up with his aunt and uncle when he had family elsewhere. Not wanting to be cursed did not sound like a reasonable excuse to him.
Well, he mentioned they had been a last resort. Why?
"I think Harry means," Albus said quietly, "that had I been aware of the fact that Lily was my niece then I could have given him the same blood protection Petunia offered without making him grow up in a cupboard."
For a moment Godric stayed blank. Finally he wrote,
Harry, I am so sorry. I never realised …
"Save it," Albus muttered. "Harry and I have some things to discuss elsewhere."
I really am sorry.
Albus drew the curtains back over the stone and silently exited the large room. Harry followed.
"Albus," he asked finally, "if you'd known … never mind."
"If I'd known, Harry," Albus said firmly, "You know what I would have done."
Harry looked up hesitantly into his resolved blue eyes.
"You … you would have …?"
"Harry," Albus said gentler still, "If I'd known I was blood related to your mother I would have taken you in in an instant. You know that."
"I wanted to, Harry, I wanted to so badly, you wouldn't believe. I didn't because I didn't believe I could give you the protection the Dursleys offered." He and Harry both shuddered at the name. "If I'd known I could have, I would have taken you without question; I swear."
A lump arose in Harry's throat and stayed there while Albus closed up the fireplace and conjured a pot of tea.
"About Godric …" Harry stalled, wondering how to phrase his query. Albus seemed to read his mind.
"Harry, Godric is perfectly legitimate. He is nothing like the diary."
Albus smiled. "I'm sure he would appreciate it if you didn't mention him to anyone, though."
"Why?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"Because Soul-Stones are normally powerful Dark magic, and have been classified as such. If the Ministry were to find him, he'd be destroyed."
"Is that what he is, then? A Soul-Stone?"
"Yes. There's a long story attached to that fact, if you want to hear it?"
"I'm all ears."
Albus chuckled slightly. "Well, what I'm going to tell you, you won't find in any history books. I had to hear it straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak."
"Godric and Rowena's son – Lawrence - was involved in a nasty accident when he was young – you don't need to know the details, but he was dying from the injuries, and the Healers in those days weren't as advanced as they are now. Godric had heard rumours of a coven of demons living in the south, and he tracked them down, brave man."
"Yes, demons. First rule of life – never deal with demons. They always hold to their word – unless the contract is destroyed – but you can never tell in whole what their word is. You never know what will happen to you."
"I'll remember that."
"Good; make sure you do. Anyhow, when Godric got there he was in a terrible state. Zoltan was the only one he could find, and he did a deal with him. Poor Godric would do anything to save Lawrence, and Zoltan agreed to save him if Godric … sold him his soul."
"Yes. Everyone thought he'd died, and of course Lawrence made a miraculous recovery. But Rowena knew in her heart something wasn't right. She figured it out, of course, but the only way out of the contract was to destroy it, and that was one thing she couldn't do. Instead she made a deal of her own – I don't know how she did it, no one does, and Godric never said. But she threatened the demon in some way, and next thing you know, Godric's sealed in a Soul-Stone."
"I take it that's a permanent fixture."
Albus nodded. "It is, unless the stone is destroyed. I don't know what would happen to Godric's soul then, and I'm not sure I want to think about it."
Harry could understand that. He fell silent, thinking about the story. Godric was braver than his reputation gave him credit for, and that was saying something.
So why hadn't he told Albus they were related? It didn't make sense.
"What was it you wanted to talk to me about?" Harry asked. Albus looked at the clock.
"I asked Heather Louise to come about now. Minerva's showing her here. When I looked up the tree this morning, I made another discovery."
Harry raised his eyebrows and Albus chuckled. "Out of all the people you could have run into in France, trust you to end up staying with your second cousin."