A/N: New chapter! Huzzah for more regular updates! It's not as long as previous chapters, but I felt I'd reached an appropriate place to finish this chapter and decided to use it. There's a companion piece to this story, it shows Draco's side of things from last chapter, you can find it via my profile and it's called Shiver. (Somebody review it pretty please, it's been sitting there with no reviews) and I've also got an unrelated Dramione called Colourful Plastic. After all those plugs, you may now move on to read, review, and enjoy.
By Any Other Name.
Chapter Ten: Out of Towners.
They ended up spending almost a week at The Burrow, partly because Mrs Weasley wouldn't let them disappear again without having been fed a lot of well cooked meals, and partly because they were at a loss as to where they should go next in search of the last (bar Nagini) Horcrux. They also needed to destroy the locket, and Hermione would bet her life that they would be able to get rid of it in the same way that they had destroyed the cup, and the same way in which Dumbledore had destroyed the ring.
However, there was one small problem. The clasp on the chain of the locket would not open. In fact, it wouldn't budge an inch. Hermione was also willing to bet her life on there being protective enchantments surrounding the locket; it was far too small to fit over anybody's head without being the chain being undone, so that left them with a slight problem.
"We could always use Kreacher, he's got a small head, and he'd be no great loss to the world," Ron suggested.
"Ron! How can you say that? You're just another high and mighty wizard that forgets that elves aren't objects to be played with, they're living creatures! Forgetting that will only lead to problems!"
"He killed Sirius though! He doesn't deserve to -"
"House elves don't think the same way we do, Ron! Kreacher wasn't loyal to Sirius, he was loyal to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black! Sirius had been disowned a long time ago, so when Bellatrix and Narcissa came to him for help -"
"He was only too happy to give it," Harry completed her sentence for her through gritted teeth. "I think we should leave tomorrow."
"Godric's Hollow. We'll be able to concentrate on those enchantments when we're there. Maybe you should pay another visit to Knockturn Alley, Hermione, try and get some books about dark protective spells."
"I'll try, but I've got a feeling that somehow, any spells on that locket won't be in any books that we find."
"Worth a try though, don't you think?"
Hermione smiled, not wanting to seem pessimistic. Try as she might, she couldn't seem to convince herself that Voldemort would have just picked a few spells out of a book to protect one of his most prized possessions. Arrogance was undoubtedly Voldemort's downfall, so hopefully he was arrogant to the extent that he didn't think anybody would be able to get their hands on the locket in the first place.
Need your help. Protective enchantments. Any useful books you know of?
She received a reply the following evening. She was in the bath at Godric's Hollow, and the owl fluttered through the open window, dropping the letter onto the bath mat and flying off without expecting a reply.
Flourish and Blotts have an excellent range. Tell the manager you're collecting an order.
P.S. Watch your step, he's sending out more and more of us to track you and your two idiot friends, it's getting dangerous.
Hermione snorted. 'Getting dangerous'? It had always been dangerous! Nevertheless, she was grateful for the heads up.
"I'm going to see about those books, I don't know how much I'll be able to find, but I'll try. I'll be back in an hour."
"That means five," Ron said under his breath to Harry, who tried, and failed to keep a straight face.
"Do you really think it' a good idea to be hanging around in a place full of dark wizards for longer than necessary?" Hermione asked, hands on hips. "I like to think that I'm slightly more intelligent than that. Especially when Voldemort knows we're not just spending our summer lying on a beach or playing Quidditch. Honestly, you boys."
"We should come with you." Ron said, suddenly serious. Harry nodded in agreement.
"You two are far more noticeable than I am. I'll just slip in and out and no one will be any the wiser. You'll just attract attention. I'll see you later."
She turned on the spot before they could say another word and suddenly she was being pushed around by people rushing to get their shopping in Diagon Alley.
Hermione made her way through the crowds to Flourish and Blotts, giving up on her 'excuse me's and 'sorry's after thirty seconds when she realised that nobody was listening to her and manners had taken a back seat now that Voldemort had returned to full power. She still tried to avoid people, but once she realised that she was getting pushed further and further back towards Ollivander's, she lost her patience and barged through the crowds, finally managing to get to the bookshop, slightly out of breath from her energetic journey that had essentially only been a walk of approximately fifty feet.
She went up to the counter nervously and the dark haired owner spotted her. "Ah, Miss Granger," he said quietly. "These are for you." He pulled a large brown paper bag out from under the counter and handed it to her.
It was heavy. There had to be at least four bulky books in the bag, and perhaps a few smaller ones. Hermione tapped the bag with her wand and it shrunk to the size of a small box of matches. She slipped it into the pocket of her coat.
"We've got some new additions to the shop," the owner told her. "There has been a big boom in Defence Against the Dark Arts books, due to, well, You-Know-Who, if you're interested. And we've also got An Advanced Study of Ancient Runes by Damien Luthridge. And Miranda Goshawk has just released The Standard Book of Spells Grade Eight: An Advanced Course. Would you care to take a look?"
Hermione bit her lip. Surely it wouldn't hurt to take a look…The Standard Book of Spells Grade Eight would undoubtedly contain advanced spells that were way beyond anything they'd learn at Hogwarts, and maybe they could do with a couple of books about defence…
"There you are!" Ron jumped up from his seat, and walked over to Hermione. "Where've you been?"
"I might have taken a slight detour," Hermione answered in a small voice.
"Harry! She's back!" Ron called, directing his voice towards the bedroom.
Harry appeared a few seconds later, standing in the doorway, his hands on his hips. "You'll just slip in and out, eh?" he said to her, slightly accusingly.
"Well I went to Flourish and Blotts too, and then I got talking to Benedict -"
"Who?" Ron demanded.
"Benedict. He's the owner. He's really very nice you know. Anyway, he showed me some of the new books that they'd got in and I picked up some really useful books on defence and I got The Standard Book of Spells Grade Eight. Grade eight is above NEWT level, there's bound to be loads of useful stuff in there. Stuff that even the Death Eaters might not know. I thought it'd be a good idea to get it."
"Did you get anything about protection spells?" Harry asked, and Hermione frowned at him, because he clearly thought that she'd been so distracted by a few new books that she forgot what she'd gone to look for in the first place.
Hermione pulled the small brown package from her pocket and enlarged it back to its original size. She emptied the bag out onto the sofa and four large books fell out of it, as well as a small book, which had roughly the same dimensions as a pocket dictionary.
"Blimey! Where d'you find all that?" Ron asked, touching the battered leather covers of the books with his fingertips. He seemed to be slightly wary of the books, and Hermione had to admit that they were making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
The pages had yellowed with age and were slightly crispy when she turned them. They were thick, and had been written on by hand and then, Hermione guessed there was more than one of each book, duplicated. They were heavy. Even the small one weighed quite a lot, perhaps the same as a large can of soup. The books had thick hard covers which again, had been made by hand, with gold or silver leaf lettering on the front of them. All of the titles had faded slightly, and one had even worn away completely. Hermione didn't think she'd ever been near books as old as these in her life, and she felt as though she should wear a pair of gloves, so she didn't get finger marks on the pages.
Hermione spent the rest of the afternoon, then the evening, and most of the night devouring the information in each of the books. She slotted coloured pieces of paper in between the pages to mark any useful spells, with notes written at the top of her markers, so she would be able to find each spell quickly and without much fuss.
The frantic research was making her feel like she was at school again and she adored it. Even though her research revolved around dark magic, it brought back a feeling of innocence and uncomplicatedness which she had missed in the last few months. Writing the notes provided a welcome destruction from all that was going on, and she started to become engrossed in all the information that she came across, filing it away and storing it in her brain for when she would need it next.
At one point, she didn't really know when, because she had lost track of the time, Hermione found the spell which left her in St Mungo's. It was called the Tamanigo Curse and Hermione blanched when she saw the diagrams. She thanked Merlin that Draco had turned up at her bedside with an antidote because the thought of her becoming like the drawing the book made her want to vomit.
Hermione managed to keep herself from being sick and decided that she should get some rest and continue in the morning. With a yawn, she got up, went to the bathroom and changed into her pyjamas. Once she was curled up in the armchair, surrounded by her sleeping bag, sleep came quickly to her.
She slept uneasily. Her head was filled with diagrams from the books, which came to life with their varying curses, each more gruesome and grotesque than the last. Hermione awoke several times, breathing heavily and covered in a thin film of sweat.
Ron's snoring, which had in the past driven her to the brink of insanity, was now a consistent and comforting lullaby which helped her drift back into sleep.
"If the curse that was on the cup is in there -"
"Then the spell on the locket might be in there too." Hermione finished Harry's sentence.
"And have you found anything?"
"Well it's a bit difficult. It's only a stuck clasp, and there's nothing specific about that in here. It doesn't appear to have any side effects, which does narrow it down quite a bit, but on the other hand it might have side effects which we haven't come across yet."
"I still think we should just put it on Kreacher and be done with it."
Harry sent Ron a glare and Hermione knew that it was more to do with the fact that Ron's comment would cause her to start lecturing him about house elves than it was to do with any concern for Kreacher's welfare. Hermione pretended she hadn't heard Ron, and picked up the pocket sized book.
"This is probably the most irrelevant but most useful book out of the lot of them," she told Harry as she flicked through the pages of the book absentmindedly. "It's all about wards with no known counter curses - of course it was written hundreds of years ago and counter curses could have been invented since, but they're very tricky spells and, I imagine, even trickier to counter. I don't think any of the spells have been used on the Horcruxes, because the book talks more about buildings than objects."
"What, so it's got stuff like the Fidelius Charm?" Harry asked.
"The Fidelius Charm means relying on a third party. Dark wizards don't like to rely on anybody. These are spells which need one person and one person alone to make them work."
"So basically," Ron began, "you still don't know what the spell on the locket is."
Hermione turned to look at Ron with a steely expression on her face.
"Sorry, that came out wrong. I'm just trying to clarify what you know and what you don't."
Hermione set the small book down on the coffee table, picked up her coat, put it on and left the house without saying a word to the two boys.
She walked around the village for half an hour, mostly to calm herself down and get away from Ron, but also so she could ponder the spells which could possibly be the ones that Voldemort used on the locket.
On her third walk around the village, after she had stopped off at the small shop to buy some bread and milk, she caught a flash of platinum blonde hair in the corner of her eye. Hermione whirled around and saw that Malfoy was leaning against the wall of the pub, looking thoroughly bored, checking his watch.
He looked up and spotted her. He mouthed the word 'Go!' at her, nodding towards the pub as if to say that there was someone else in there. Hermione was about to leave when she remembered the books that Malfoy had provided for her. She opened and closed her palms as if they were a book and then nodded, giving him the thumbs up. He seemed curious for a moment, as though he wanted to talk about what the books contained, then glanced towards the door again as the interior door of the pub creaked and he mouthed even more urgently for her to go.
Hermione nodded and turned on her heel, walking away quickly, but not running, knowing full well that if she ran it would attract attention.
"Death Eaters," Hermione said breathlessly once she had got back to Godric's Hollow. She had started sprinting once she was sure nobody was around to see her.
"In the village, we need to leave. Where's the tent?"
"How many? Can't we take them on?" Ron stood up, wand in his hand.
"Oh what, so Voldemort can send more? There's just two, but we need to get out of here. We need to make it seem like we were never here in the first place."
Harry nodded and went about gathering his things, shrinking them and putting them in his backpack. Ron quickly followed suit and Hermione began shrinking all of her books as quickly as she could, throwing them with a little less care than she normally would have taken into her own bag.
They were about to disapparate when Harry shouted for them to stop. "What about the house? What if they find it? Voldemort knows where it is, so does Wormtail. What if they…"
"Harry, all we can do is lock it up."
"But you put the Fidelius Charm on your house, couldn't you -"
"Professor Flitwick did that. I'm sorry Harry, I know a few protective enchantments but they can be broken without much effort."
"What about the ones you read about last night?" Harry asked desperately, now clutching at straws. "You said they were useful."
"Harry you can't expect me to get dark magic right the first time around. And even if I did, what if Lupin comes looking for us? What will happen to him? I might do more damage than good if I get the spell wrong Harry."
"But it's my mum and dad's -"
"I know," Hermione said imploringly, stepping forward and placing a hand on Harry's shoulder. "But there's nothing we can do and we haven't got much time."
"Couldn't you try?"
Hermione sighed. "I can try a vanishing charm, but I'm not sure how long it'll last. The most I've ever done is a goblet, a house is going to take a lot more."
"Let's get outside then."
They moved out into the front garden, past the wooden gate and onto the street. "Keep watch for anyone, Death Eater or muggle, we've got the statute of secrecy to think about." Hermione rolled up her sleeves and drew her wand. "Evanesco!"
The house vanished for a moment, but then it flickered and reappeared. The small feeling of accomplishment disappeared along with Hermione's smile. She tried again, and again, and it wasn't until her sixth try that the house vanished and stayed vanished.
"You will be able to get it back, won't you?" Ron asked, frowning slightly at the vacant plot of land in front of them.
"Of course I will," Hermione replied. "I'm not stupid enough to vanish something I can't get back. Besides, it might not last much longer than a couple of days, so it might just reappear on its own. It's difficult with it being that size, it's really hard to judge. Normally people just vanish small things, like cobwebs or if something's spilled. It's more of a household charm really."
"Let's go," Harry said, tearing his eyes away from the place where his parents' house used to be and looking around for any sign of people. He grabbed Ron and Hermione by the arm and turned on the spot, dragging them into the darkness with him.
They appeared in a small clearing. For a moment, Hermione thought it was the Forbidden Forest, but then realised that it wasn't dense enough to be the Forbidden Forest. The trees were younger and there wasn't that uneasy feeling that drowned you when you were in the Forbidden Forest.
"Where are we?" Hermione whispered, not wanting to disturb the silence too much.
"Sherwood Pines," Harry replied in an equally low whisper. "My Aunt and Uncle brought Dudley here ages ago. I really wanted to go. I spent the three days with Mrs Figg instead."
Hermione felt a pang of sympathy for Harry, and regretted all the letters she had sent to him from France in the summer before third year telling him every detail about her holiday and how brilliant it was when he had always been excluded from holidays.
Harry pulled the tent out of his rucksack and enlarged it. He started to mess around with the poles but Hermione gestured for him to stand back.
"Erecto!" The tent put itself up in a flurry of poles, canvas and rope and Harry's eyebrows raised slightly.
"Nice one," he said, picking up the rucksacks and ducking in through the tent flaps so he could put them inside.
"Don't you think this is a bit…exposed?" Ron asked, looking around nervously.
"No. I'll put up some shield charms and a disillusionment charm on the tent. We should be all right. We'll have to keep moving though, they might track us down."
"Depends who's using the brain cell for that day. They have to pass it round, you see."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Voldemort's in charge of them and Voldemort's got plenty of brain cells, I think you'll find. And now that you point it out, not all the Death Eaters are stupid. Foolish, maybe, but not stupid. You can hardly say Snape's lacking in intelligence, or Bellatrix. Even Draco's quite smart."
"Draco?" Harry reappeared from the tent flaps. "Since when do you call him Draco?"
"I thought it would save the inevitable question of 'which Malfoy?' if I used his first name as opposed to his surname," Hermione responded icily, rapping the top of the tent with her wand and watching as it seemed to melt away into the background.
"I'll go and get us some food supplies" Harry said, digging into his pocket to see what he had in the way of muggle money. It transpired that he had very little. He turned to Hermione. "Have you got any spare cash? I'll square up with you when I get some galleons exchanged at Gringotts."
Hermione nodded. And reached into her own pocket, pulling out a small purse. She opened it and extracted a few tightly folded notes, then handed them to Harry.
"Shall I get tinned stuff? So it'll keep?"
"I can do a preserving charm that'll make things last a week or two longer, so it doesn't really matter. And make sure you know exactly where to apparate back to. That'd be a fine mess up if you can't find us again."
"Will one of you wait out here? So I can see you? I won't be able to see the tent so I need something to look out for if I miss by a bit."
"Yeah, I'll wait out. Don't be too long though, it's cold."
"Get used to it," Harry said. "We'll need to keep watch during the night. See you." He disappeared with a quiet pop.
"Hermione," Ron was frowning at her, his nose slightly scrunched up. "Malfoy's not smart!"
Hermione tutted and chivvied him into the tent with instructions to start unshrinking her books.