Color rapidly leaving her face, Petunia stared in shock. Leaning backwards, she tried to get as far away as she could.
"Yes, yes, I took it. Okay? She didn't deserve to have it. It should have been mine."
"Where is it?" Harry repeated.
Loathing filled her face as she turned back to Harry. Even though he was glad that he had left the Dursleys, a twinge of sadness filled him that his mother's family hated him this much.
As if sensing Harry's emotions, Snape stood in front of him and blocked his aunt's view.
"Where. Is. It?" Snape harshly demanded through clenched teeth.
"In the attic," Petunia quickly blurted out. "It's in the attic. Please, just take it and leave me alone."
The trip back to Grimmauld Place seemed to take a long time. Harry was impatient to reach the house so that they could go to Privet Drive as soon as possible. Dumbledore told them that he wanted to call a quick Order meeting before they made any kind of decision. Even though Harry understood his reasoning (after all, they had been attacked the last time that they had searched for the necklace at his parents' house), he didn't want to waste any more time.
As soon as they entered Grimmauld Place, Harry was accosted by his friends. Hermione grabbed him in a strangling grip, while Ron stood nearby grinning widely.
"We're so glad that you're okay," Hermione gushed. "When we heard that you and Professor Snape had disappeared from Godric's Hollow and that no one knew where you were…"
Hermione trailed off as Harry gently pushed her back. Looking around, Harry noticed that the three of them were the only ones still standing in the hall. The others must have understood that they would need some time alone.
"I have so much to tell you guys, but it will have to wait until later. The most important thing is that we know where the necklace is. It's at my aunt and uncle's house."
Ron's mouth dropped open while Hermione's eyes got bigger.
"What…how…" Ron stammered.
"It doesn't matter right now how I found out. I expect that we'll leave soon to get it. We're so close," Harry excitedly responded.
"Well, what are we standing around here for?" Ron asked. "Let's see what's going on."
Scrambling down the hall, they quickly found a room packed with Order members. Most everyone was looking around, curious about why they had been called together on such short notice, hoping that it wasn't bad news. Apparently when Dumbledore and Snape had called everyone together, they had kept the discovery a secret.
Not wanting to call attention to themselves, Harry, Ron, and Hermione snuck into the room and took a seat near the back. The low buzz of conversation died down when Dumbledore appeared and made his way to the front of the room.
"Thank you all for coming so quickly. We are very grateful that Severus and Harry are safe and sound after the recent ambush at Godric's Hollow."
Hearing his name mentioned, Harry tried to unobtrusively slide down farther in his seat. He didn't know whether or not he, Ron, and Hermione would be removed from the meeting if anyone noticed that they were there, but he didn't want to take any chances.
"As you know, we were searching for a necklace that once belonged to Salazar Slytherin. This is the same necklace that Voldemort himself has also been looking for. Just today, we have learned the true location of the necklace."
Shocked whispers broke out in the room upon hearing the Headmaster's statement. Patiently, Dumbledore waited until the voices stopped.
"The necklace once belonged to Lily Potter; however, her sister Petunia Dursley is the one who currently possesses the necklace."
Not stopping to allow any questions, Dumbledore continued.
"Vernon Dursley is still being held by the Ministry. Petunia Dursley was at the Ministry today for further questioning. Dudley Dursley is currently staying a few days with a friend. Now is the best time for us to go to Privet Drive and retrieve the necklace. Petunia has informed us that it is being kept in the attic."
A voice interrupted. "What do you want us to do, Albus?"
"Since we were unexpectedly attacked last time, we will be taking more precautions. We will take more Order members with us, and we will leave as soon as the meeting is over. Everyone needs to take extreme caution."
The meeting didn't take much longer as a few more details were hammered out. Ron and Hermione knew that they probably wouldn't be allowed to go, but they were willing to plead their case as Order members filed out of the room to start getting things ready.
Getting up, Harry marched over to Dumbledore who was talking to the Weasleys and to Snape. The talking paused when they noticed that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were standing nearby.
"I know what you are going to ask," Snape drawled before Harry could even speak.
"And?" Harry asked.
"It's not up to me," Snape replied.
In expectation, Harry looked over at the Headmaster and the Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley started to shake her head, but Ron immediately spoke out.
"We already know where the necklace is, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. Harry, Hermione, and I can look for it while the Order watches the house."
"You Know Who has already attacked once. What's to say that he won't attack again?" Mrs. Weasley argued.
"How could he have found out?" Ron asked. "It's just a coincidence that Harry found out today. Besides, Hermione and I helped discover exactly what the necklace was and why You Know Who wanted to find it."
While Ron and his mother continued to argue over whether or not he and Hermione should be allowed to go, Snape drew Harry to the side.
"Will you be okay going back to your aunt and uncle's house? I know that they aren't there right now, but I don't want it to bring back bad memories for you."
Taking a deep breath, Harry said, "I'll be fine. We shouldn't be there too long. I just want to find it and get it over with."
"I know I said it last time, but I'll say it again. Stay close to me. Keep your wand ready. We'll be watching the house, but you need to stay vigilant also."
"I will," Harry solemnly responded.
Lightening the tone, Snape asked, "Have you been in your relative's attic before? Do you have any idea where the necklace might be?"
Tilting his head, brow scrunching up, Harry thought back.
"It's been a while. I never had much of a reason to go up there. Most of the cleaning that I did was around the house or outside of the house."
"What do you remember about the attic?"
"There are several boxes up there. It probably won't take long to search them. From what I remember, the boxes aren't labeled, though, so we'll have to look through all of them."
Satisfied that he had gotten all that he could, Snape left the room to make his own preparations. Looking over, Harry saw that Mrs. Weasley was still in deep conversation with Ron; however, Hermione – noticing that Harry was watching – walked over.
"Professor Dumbledore has agreed that we can come. It took a while for Mrs. Weasley to agree to it, but Mr. Weasley was able to calm her down enough that she finally said that Ron could go."
"What are they talking about now?" Harry asked.
"Mrs. Weasley is giving Ron all kinds of rules to follow and threats if he doesn't follow them."
As he watched, Harry noticed Ron nod every few seconds. Harry couldn't hear what Mrs. Weasley was saying, but he decided to make himself scarce in case she noticed him standing there and dragged him into the conversation too.
Within twenty minutes, everyone was gathered in the front hall. Harry once again clutched Snape's robes as they Disapparated and then reappeared a few houses down from his aunt and uncle's. The Order members immediately spread out, heads swiveling back and forth, wands discreetly held up their sleeves in case any Muggles wandered by.
As this was going on, Harry continued to stare at the house. It had been over a month since he had been inside the house. Even though he knew that it would bring up bad memories as soon as he stepped inside, Harry was determined to finish what he had started.
They were at the end of the driveway when the house suddenly exploded. Harry would have continued standing in place shocked if he hadn't been knocked down to the ground by Snape shielding him with his body. Lying on the ground underneath his professor, Harry moaned as he slowly turned his head and watched the smoke fill the sky above the house. Flames shot out of the windows and intense heat surrounded the area. Debris rained down as the Order members gradually began to rise from the ground.
"Are you alright?" Snape demanded, as he firmly grabbed Harry and turned him over.
Glancing down at himself, Harry noticed a few cuts and scrapes but nothing that seemed too serious.
"Yeah, I'm fine. What about you?" Harry worriedly asked. Snape had been on top of him, so he had probably gotten the worst of the blast.
"I'll survive," Snape grimly replied just as Harry noticed a piece of glass sticking out of the man's arm.
"Your arm…" Harry started before being interrupted.
"I'm fine, Harry. We need to check on the others and then get out of here immediately."
Before they could do anything more, Harry noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. The front door was missing from the house, so it wasn't difficult to see the dark figure materialize in the doorway. Shocked, Harry saw that Voldemort had the necklace prominently displayed on the outside of his robes. Death Eaters began to appear around the Order members who were stiffly pushing themselves up from the ground and surveying each other for injuries.
"You're too late, Harry. It appears that I have won."
Not wanting to appear weak, Harry retorted, "How did you know it was here?"
Voldemort slowly came down the walkway. Stiffening at the approaching figure, Snape positioned himself slightly in front of Harry, one hand clutching his wand while the other was wrapped around his injury trying to keep the glass in place.
Stopping a few feet away, Voldemort smirked.
"How touching, Severus, but it won't do you any good. In answer to your question, Harry, it wasn't too hard to figure out where else the necklace could be once I knew that your mother had owned it."
"My aunt hated my mother," Harry said, desperate to keep Voldemort talking. "Why would you think that my aunt would have it? I didn't even know until I happened to see my aunt today at the Ministry."
"Process of elimination. I figured that other than Godric's Hollow, you must have already checked Gringotts. This seemed like the only other place that it might have ended up."
The Order members were standing back to back as the Death Eaters created a ring around them. In the distance, Harry could hear the sirens approaching. He figured that they didn't have much more time before people starting appearing, wanting to know what had happened. A few curious neighbors had already stuck their heads out of their door only to duck back in when they saw what appeared to be a dangerous and deadly situation (despite not knowing who Voldemort or the Death Eaters were).
"And so it ends, Harry Potter. I have waited many years for this moment. I may not have been able to kill you before, but now I am stronger than ever."
As Harry stood there, he glanced around. These people had defended him and stood by him. They were willing to protect him and to do whatever it took to keep him safe, but it didn't matter anymore. They were all going to die and Voldemort would never stop. Harry felt like they had failed.
Slashing his wand to the side, Voldemort threw Snape away from Harry. The professor yelled as he landed on his arm, pushing the glass further into the wound; however, he immediately struggled to get back up. Harry wanted to go over to the man and help him, but his eyes were caught on the necklace as light gleamed off of the emeralds.
Staring at the necklace, a piece of the legend sprang to his mind. Dimly aware that Voldemort was once again raising the wand in his direction, Harry focused all of his attention on the necklace as he yelled out.
"In the name of Salazar Slytherin, I release you from the necklace."
Even as he said it, Harry wasn't sure that it would work. From the startled looks that everyone was giving him, he knew that he had been speaking Parseltongue. Realizing what Harry was attempting, Voldemort's Cruciatus Curse came quickly. Harry didn't have enough time to move out of the way, and the curse caused him to fall to the ground. Opening his mouth, Harry screamed in agony at the white hot pain that lanced through his body. Harry writhed on the ground partially aware of his friends yelling out for Voldemort to stop.
When the pain abruptly ended, the sudden silence around him caused Harry to wearily raise his head. As he watched, a white mist emerged from the necklace. The mist started to coalesce into the shape of a woman who floated in the air and surveyed everything that was going on.
Everyone had frozen in place not knowing what to do. This was Ophelia, Salazar Slytherin's fiancée. The woman who Slytherin had trapped inside of the necklace after discovering that she was having an affair. The woman who could only be released from the necklace by another Parselmouth.
Snapping out of his trance, Voldemort turned enraged eyes toward Harry. As he raised his wand again to form the Killing Curse, Harry was surprised when Hermione's voice rang out.
"Help us, please. He's a descendant of the one who trapped you in the necklace."
The woman had turned curious eyes when Hermione started speaking. At Hermione's words, the woman's face started to transform. Rage descended upon her. Power coursed visibly through her body. Voldemort hesitated when he realized that the spirit had turned her attention back to him.
Encouraged, Hermione continued. "He's trying to kill us. He's killed lots of people. We're trying to stop him, but we need your…"
A streak of light suddenly shot towards Hermione. Ron yelled out when Hermione crumpled to the ground and didn't move. Struggling to his feet, Harry tried to make his way over to his friend. Before he could move too far, a strangled sound reached his ears.
The woman had transformed back into a cloud of mist and was encircling Voldemort. As Harry watched, the mist became brighter and sparks of power appeared. The cloud swirled around and around until Voldemort wasn't visible anymore, although he could clearly be heard choking out.
Everyone stood still, mesmerized by what was happening before them. When the mist suddenly disappeared, Voldemort's body fell lifelessly to the ground. The silence continued for a few seconds longer before the Order members recovered and began fighting the Death Eaters. Harry noticed the Muggles who had come to investigate the explosion diving for cover. Policemen were drawing their guns as they crouched behind cars, unsure who to aim at.
As the fighting continued, pops filled the air as robed figures Apparated onto the street. It only took a moment for Harry to recognize them as Aurors. They must have heard about the disturbance and come to investigate. The Death Eaters were quickly rounded up and taken away. Several Ministry officials stayed behind to deal with the Muggles who needed to be Obliviated.
With the Death Eaters taken care of, Harry immediately rushed over to Snape. The man had gotten up from the ground, but his arm dangled uselessly by his side. Snape's face had turned even whiter as blood continued to flow down his arm from the cut. The glass was even further embedded, and Harry felt helpless not knowing what to do.
"Are you okay? We need to get you some help. Here, put your arm over my shoulder," Harry said as he gently helped support his professor. "We need to get you out of here. I'll find someone that can Apparate you somewhere."
"Thank you, Harry," Snape exhaustively replied. "I don't think I can stand here much longer."
While he frantically scanned the area to find someone to help them, he noticed that Ron was sitting on the ground with Hermione lying against him. Even though Hermione wasn't moving, her eyes were open and she was answering all of Ron's questions. Harry didn't know what spell she had been hit with, but it looked like she would be fine.
"Harry, Severus! Are you okay?"
Harry was relieved when Remus weaved his way over to them.
"I'm fine," Harry responded, "but Professor Snape needs help."
Quickly assessing the situation, Remus said, "Severus, I'll take you to Hogwarts. Madame Pomfrey is ready and waiting to help with any wounded that we have. As soon as I get you settled, I will return for Harry."
Anxiously, Harry let Remus take his place underneath Snape's arm. He wished that he knew how to Apparate so that he could follow them to Hogwarts and not have to wait for Remus to come back for him. He knew that Remus would come back as quickly as possible, but Harry didn't want to wait.
Despite the pain, Snape noticed Harry's nerves and stopped Remus from Disapparating. Since he was unable to touch Harry reassuringly, Snape could only stare into Harry's eyes and firmly say, "Everything will be okay. Madame Pomfrey will take good care of me, and I will see you soon."
Realizing that Snape wouldn't last much longer, Remus gave Harry a small smile before Disapparating. Harry knew that the wound wasn't as bad as it could have been, but he wouldn't feel completely better until Snape was fully recovered.
Not sure what to do with himself, Harry wandered over to the body. Voldemort was lying on the ground, and Harry had a hard time believing that it was really over. Somehow Ophelia's spirit had managed to defeat the most evil wizard of their time. Harry wondered what had happened to her. He hoped that she was finally at peace now that she was no longer trapped inside of the necklace.
Blinking out of his daze, Harry noticed that Remus was standing next to him, placing a hand on his shoulder and looking concernedly at him.
"It's over, Remus. It's really over."
Glancing down at the body, Remus gently squeezed Harry's shoulder.
"Yes, it is."
They stayed silently standing for a while longer. No one bothered them for which Harry was extremely grateful. Harry's parents had been murdered by this monster, Remus's best friends had been taken away from him, Sirius's life had been destroyed. Now, they would finally be able to move on with their lives.
"Are you ready to go?" Remus finally asked, looking closely at Harry's face. "Severus nearly threw me out of the Infirmary as soon as we arrived. He insisted that I hurry back to get you."
Harry gave a short laugh.
"Yeah, let's go."