First up let me apologize for leaving this story so long! I did not realize how long it had been at all, at least its on course. That I can take comfort in, I promise I wont leave it so long again :)
The Basilisk Ingredients
"So who is this Jerrod Banner?" asked Sirius, from where they sat in Lucius' office, which is where the usually discussed the Horcruxes. "The name sounds so familiar though I don't know why." added Sirius puzzled. He could barely believe he was getting along with Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape of all people right now. If someone had told him thirteen years ago, he would have had them committed at St. Mungo's ward for magical maladies. Of course back then he wouldn't have thought he'd end up in Azkaban, or saved by his own godson when he was eleven years old. He also wouldn't have thought he'd hate Dumbledore, for his manipulations. Remus was a touchy subject that he didn't want to think on. He'd continued to send his letters back to him unopened, he just couldn't deal with him right now. He knew he was as guilty as Remus, Remus had been the one he suspected to his shame, but he'd never acted on it. He would have gone to see him, even if it was to yell and scream at him demand an answer, why had he done it. Remus hadn't even given him that opportunity; he'd never once demanded his side of things. They'd all made mistakes, yes, but he just couldn't forgive Remus for not seeking him out, and worse still leaving Harry alone. He'd lost his parents, godfather that night and Remus too since he'd left him all alone.
"The name is familiar, he's British, and he was arrested more times than Borgin, most of it when he was underage, twice when he left Hogwarts. Mostly for stealing, breaking and entering and every other small time crime you can think off. He made the mistake of trying to pick my pocket." said Lucius wryly, thinking on the bloody sod the boy had been back then.
"And you trust him?" asked Sirius blankly, to him it sounded slightly risky, but if there was one thing he knew about Lucius Malfoy it was that he took big risks.
"He isn't the same bitter boy he used to be, I dug into his background, found out quite a bit about him and decided to help him." said Lucius. "None of it was good, the parents had three children, and more often than not they were brought to St. Mungo's for one reason or another with suspicious injuries. Broken arms mostly, concussions and cuts that required blood replenishers. Then Jerrod was nine a bout of accidental magic spelt the end of the father." said Lucius, he didn't think it was accidental magic. "And with it the constant need for the kids to end up in St. Mungo's. The mother, Jane was up to her eyeballs in debt, borrowing from Gringotts just to get her children healed had left a rather large gape in her purse. She never missed a payment but I think they went hungry more often than not. When Jerrod got older, he began stealing to help his family, nothing was more important to him. I started using him as a contact; eventually he saved enough money to help them all get a fresh start. I still use him from time to time, especially for things that aren't as obtainable over here."
"Oh," was all the stunned Black heir could say, he'd just never thought of Lucius Malfoy being the helping type, especially if they weren't Pureblood's. Banner wasn't a Pureblood name, so they were at the very least a half blood family, but a lot of his preconceived notions were being shot to hell lately. He was beginning to see what his godson saw in people - the best of them until proven otherwise.
"Horace Slughorn is at the door, Dobby will show him up, Master Malfoy." said Dobby appearing in the office, he didn't go in there unless otherwise told. He'd been asked by Lucius to let him know when his old Potions professor appeared at the Manor. Severus had indeed sent a letter, the old man had immediately replied, and had made plans this evening to come.
"Lucius?" called Jerrod appearing in the fireplace.
"Wait a minute, Dobby." said Lucius, "Show him to the dining room, do not leave him." Slughorn had sticky figures, and he didn't want anything going missing from the manor.
"Shall we go down and head him off?" asked Severus.
"No, remain here, go on Dobby." said Lucius demandingly, they needed to present a united front, powerful, in any hopes of getting Slughorn to reveal what he knew. He still wished he could use Harry to help them, without giving anything away of course. If there was one thing he could agree on, was they shouldn't get to know about the Horcruxes. He didn't want his own son knowing, never mind a boy he was rather fond off. He was a Slytherin, he'd bested Dumbledore, he hated him, he took advantage of things in a Slytherin way, yet remained pure in a way not many Slytherins were. Like giving money to St. Mungo's which is where he was supposed to go next week before Hogwarts started up to officially open the new wing. Or rather both of them, with the money Harry had given, they were able to expand the Potions lab, hire another Potions Master and researcher as well as a new wing. He only stipulation Harry had asked was it not be named after him. The plaque would give him away though, at the entrance it would have his name dedicated on it.
"Go on Jerrod." said Lucius, "Please tell me you got them."
"I found someone who has both items, it's not much, less than half a vial but the fang is whole…whether it has venom in it is another thing altogether." said Jerrod in explanation.
"Do you trust them?" asked Severus grimly.
"As well as you can trust anyone selling items for personal gain," said Jerrod sardonically. "I've used him before and it's never been underhand. It's definitely basilisk venom though, I've had it checked thoroughly and I can guarantee that's what I'll bring back."
"How much?" asked Lucius.
"It's a little higher than I would like, I tried to lower it but he wasn't having any of it." said Jerrod, before saying the amount with trepidation, waiting for the inevitable explosion.
"Alright, I'll have Dobby go to Gringotts with a letter to have the money placed in your vault immediately, do not owl the ingredients as we usually would Jerrod. These items are of massive importance and we need them immediately, if you don't mind, can you Floo over with them as soon as you get them?" asked Lucius.
"Of course," said Jerrod surprised, it must be really important if he was willing to pay so much for them, plus his own fee for finding them before the week was out. Although it was a close call, but he'd managed, just in the nick of time.
"It doesn't matter what time," added Lucius, "Right now I have a meeting to attend so if you can excuse us."
"No problem," said Jerrod in understanding, Lucius had always been a busy wizard. "I'll head to Gringotts in ten minutes."
"Good." said Lucius.
"One problem down," said Sirius gravely.
"Don't count the Hippogriff eggs yet," said Lucius in turn, "That way we can prevent disappointment." although if the venom itself didn't work then the fang wouldn't work anyway, that had been his main reason to going ahead with the transaction. Other than the fact he trusted Jerrod, he was an expert he would know if it was even the slightest bit watered down. He hastily began writing a letter to Gringotts, smearing melted candle on the back and pressing his Malfoy insignia ring into it as it hardened. As soon as that was done, the three left the office and began walking down to the ground floor.
"This is going to be impossible you do realize this don't you?" said Severus cautiously, there was a reason he hadn't told anyone else obviously. "I do not even think threatening him will help, and there is no guarantee's with the memory charm." even if the most powerful wizard in the world cast it. There was a risk factor involved, it could unearth at any time, which would make their lives uncomfortable as Lucius suggested earlier. Staring at them, as Sirius and Lucius walked down the remaining stairs to where he was on the landing.
"We have to try," said Sirius, "If there's a possibility of him knowing anything…any information about them we need it."
"Don't you think we already know that?" sighed Severus exasperated, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Let's just get into the dinning room." said Lucius rolling his eyes, honestly those two could argue for eternity on something unless and inconsequential.
"Who's that?" asked Harry curiously, wandering up to Sirius, Lucius and Severus. Watching the fat squat man appear in his lime robes, looking around in obvious awe.
"Horace Slughorn." stated Severus. "A Potions Master, someone we need help from to destroy the dark artefact before Arthur Weasley manages to get another raid sorted out on Malfoy Manor."
"Where are the others?" asked Lucius eyeing the fourteen year old curiously.
"Trying to get Mione out the library." grinned Harry amused, but they weren't having much luck. "Draco wants to go flying, he'll give up eventually."
"Not until he's tried everything," added Lucius wryly, knowing his son he would give up later rather than sooner.
"Mione doesn't like flying," shrugged Harry, it was amusing watching his attempts at blackmail though. Even after three years of knowing each other, Draco still hated admitting defeat at least of all to Hermione.
"What are you up to?" asked Severus curiously.
"Sending a letter off to Gringotts, I finally got through the last of the wills, I still feel bad especially if they had family." said Harry shaking his head. He had enough himself without adding money from strangers who had given him everything because he was the Boy-Who-Lived.
"You don't have to worry about that, they gave to you, because you were the epitome of light and all that is good in our world and because they didn't have family left." said Lucius softly. "They knew it would go to good use, and it was, I have never said it before but they couldn't have chosen better if they tried."
Harry flushed in embarrassment, "I just wanted to help."
"That is why they couldn't have chosen better." said Severus proud of his little snake.
"I'm going to go and get Mione and Draco before they start fighting," said Harry, uncomfortable with the praise.
"Go on then, you only have two weeks left to enjoy the holidays before the year begins." said Sirius, messing up Harry's red hair, which was loose and passed his waist already. No matter how often he offered to cut it or give him an appointment to go to the hairdressers Harry said he wasn't interested. He used the line 'it was proper for the head of house to grow in his hair' excuse, but Sirius knew he was happy with his hair the way it was.
"Oi! Geoff!" complained Harry, shoving his godfathers hand away. "You are still helping me with the other paperwork aren't you?" he had finished the Black and Potter paperwork, got everything up to date, now it was just the Evans one, but it shouldn't take too long. All he had to do was inspect the charities they had, there was no wills thankfully, so it shouldn't take him more than a few days. Of course he'd thought that about the Black ones, at least Sirius had most of them back so he didn't need to put up with them.
"I did offer," said Sirius, even though he hated paperwork, no hate was putting it lightly, but unfortunately as the Head of the Black family it was his duty. He was just glad he didn't have three heirs businesses to get in order; he certainly didn't envy Harry's workload. It's a shame; really, he shouldn't have to do this until he was older. He had adapted with finesse, and Sirius was proud of him and Harry knew that. If he got it done now it was less money coming from his vaults that he didn't approve off, and added to the fact he wouldn't need to do it when he was seventeen. He could only imagine the state of them if he had waited, Harry could only try and fix them when he could during the summer, only when he was at Malfoy manor with all their help. He sometimes asked Lucius for help with things he didn't understand, but it was mostly just him.
"Alright, I'll see you later!" called Harry from half way down the corridor, waving his hand backwards as he disappeared up the stairs.
"Was that who I thought it was?" asked Horace, looking like he'd seen a ghost.
"Lily's son, yes," said Lucius watching him with a satisfied gleam in his eye, not the way he would have liked it but he had seen him, perhaps that's all they'd need. "He is friends with my son, both are Slytherins."
"Not Gryffindor?" questioned Slughorn surprised. "Then again I always did say Lily should have been in Slytherin, such a cheeky girl she was." his tone became pained, even after all this time it hurt to think about her. He'd known about it the second it happened, the item she'd charmed for him had become…undone.
"Yes, yes she was, and Harry has inherited that." said Severus, his throat tight, Sirius didn't look like he was fairing any better. It was an unspoken agreement between Severus and Sirius that they didn't talk James or heaven forbid Lily. The pain he felt about James was less than he felt about Lily so it made sense.
"Just without the fear of consequences." said Lucius amused, trying to avert the conversation slightly, knowing neither Severus or Black were in any condition to talk about the Potters without becoming emotional or angry, perhaps a mixture of both.
"Dobby I need you to send this to Gringotts, do not leave without ensuring this gets to the Malfoy Estate goblin is that understood?" asked Lucius handing over the paperwork. His seal was on it, as irrefutable proof that he had indeed sent it and signed for it.
"Yes Master Malfoy, Dobby will do it right away." said Dobby nodding as he accepted the letter and popped away.
"Now, why don't you accompany me to the dinning hall, since it is too late for breakfast but too early for lunch, we may as well have some brunch." said Lucius sardonically. Thankfully the House Elves always had things on hand, if not for themselves then for any unexpected company. Casting a silencing charm so no ears could overhear the conversation, especially if Harry told them about Slughorn.
"Not that I don't appreciate being here, I am a little confused on the why," said Horace sliding into a seat after ending the dining hall, eyeing the three peculiarly. Lucius had gotten on well with Severus, at least for the year they'd spent in Hogwarts together. In fact it had gratified him to no end to hear Severus calling Lucius, Luke and getting away with it. Now the most astonishing thing of all was seeing Sirius Black and Severus Snape under the same roof without cursing each other until the death.
"We need your help," said Sirius, sitting down along with everyone else. "Or rather everyone needs it."
"Excuse me?" asked Horace baffled, all thoughts about how weird it was seeing them sitting together gone.
Sirius stared at the Slytherins, knowing they were probably better off at handling Horace Slughorn than he ever could.
"Horace, we found out some…unsettling information, we would like a Vow from you that everything we discuss here will never leave this room after the conversation is over." said Lucius seriously.
"A vow?" repeated Horace cautiously, what on earth was going on with them?
"Indeed," said Severus grimly.
"Very well," sighed Slughorn realizing he didn't have a choice. He had a feeling he should run while he had the chance, but he was indeed too curious for his own good. Severus stood between himself and Lucius; it looked as though he was going to be the bonder. The vow was basic, but watertight, red barbed wire flames wrapped around them until three consumed their arms before disappearing once the Vow was complete. It would hold them to their word until the day they died, whether it was through natural causes or by trying to betray their word.
Once they'd all took their seats again, things became tense, wary and grim.
"Do you know how the Dark Lord succeeded in cheating death when he was vanquished by Lily and Harry?" asked Lucius, his mercury eyes boring holes into Slughorn's just waiting for a single reaction. His eyes lit up when he flinched, oh he new something alright, the question was what?
"Cheating death?" spluttered Horace his eyes wider than normal. "He's gone, defeated!"
"No he's not, and fine you well know." said Severus suspiciously. Standing up he glared at Slughorn looming over him, allowing his magic to lash out. "The question is why? What do you know Horace? You can remain quiet…but until you reveal everything you remain here."
Slughorn swallowed thickly, his Adams apple bobbing up and down as he tried to gain control of his emotions…his fear. "I don't know what you mean." he rasped out, his heart thumping a mile a minute.
"You know exactly what we mean," said Lucius firmly sitting Severus back down, as the Elves brought the food in and disappeared again.
"Please, help yourselves." said Lucius; nobody could say he didn't have manners befitting a Pureblood heir. Although at that exact moment, at least one person didn't feel like eating. In fact Horace looked ready to vomit any given second actually. There was a platter of various kinds of nuts, fruit, biscuits crackers, half sandwiches and a selection of creams, cheese and other condiments.
Sirius picked up an orange from the fruit platter, it was already peeled, and he was watching what was going on apprehensively. It looked as though Horace Slughorn wasn't going to give them any answers. He watched the others relax and stare at Slughorn impassively, waiting on him breaking as they too snacked on fruit, grapes for Severus and Lucius was eating sliced apple. Breathing deeply, he decided on a course of action he prayed work - for his godson.
"Horace? Please, if he comes back…he will try and kill Harry, Lily scarified herself to save him…don't let her sacrifice be in vain…please. Harry is just a child…fourteen years old…he deserves to be happy not worrying about an evil wizard coming to kill him. Horace he's already lost his parents…I've missed ten years of his life…if you don't do this for us…or yourself do it for Harry…for the younger generation so they don't feel the darkness we did the distrust the pain of waiting for the black owl telling them their family is dead." said Sirius his voice choked with real emotion, emotions he couldn't try and hide. These were the thoughts that plagued his sleep since finding out about the Horcruxes.
"We already know about them, we just need to know how many." said Lucius quietly, observing them.
"You know?" choked Horace, feeling overwhelmed by Sirius Black's speech.
"About the Horcruxes, yes." said Severus rejoining the conversation, his heart hurting, they had to succeed; Lily's son had to survive. "No one needs to know where we got the additional information from, just help us we need a number if you have it." they were forgotten Slughorn might not have the information they need. Sure he knew about the Horcruxes, which was admittedly surprising. The Dark Lord wasn't one for sharing his plans, but back then as a young teenager he may have.
"You must understand…I didn't know what he was capable of…I honestly didn't, he was so charming, powerful, he could have been anything… absolutely anything he wanted to be." said Horace, defending himself.
"We know," said Lucius and Severus together as one, they'd been in his services they knew how convincing he could be.
"He came to me one day, it was just after the Slug club, and asked me about Horcruxes, asking if it was possible to create more than one." said Horace, swallowing thickly. Grabbing a goblet and guzzling it down, he felt so thirsty, and even after he'd drank the entire contents of the goblet he still wanted more. Regardless of his thirst he continued on, now that they knew he just wanted to continue talking, get it all off his chest for the first time in fifty years. "I thought it was all rhetorical, but I did say death was preferable than splitting ones soul…darkest of magic it shouldn't be known."
"How did he find out about them in the first place?" asked Sirius, he'd been raised in an Orphanage, all he knew was Hogwarts…surely Hogwarts didn't have that kind of information lying around.
"There was a book available at Hogwarts for a short while, until the Headmaster resigned…Armando Dippet I mean. It was removed when Albus became Headmaster if I remember correctly. Irma Pince was furious that Albus was removing books from her precious library. She had to pry it from her hands and threaten her by saying he would sack her if she didn't desist and if she tried to have the book replaced. To this day I don't think she has quite forgiven him, I certainly don't think Albus has tried removing any other books she's quite formidable when she wants to be. Especially protecting her books as she does." said Horace.
"I would love to have seen that," smirked Severus vindictively. He certainly wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of Irma Pince.
"I certainly got enjoyment out of it, I've never seen Albus so cowed before." said Horace smiling slightly.
"How many?" asked Lucius truthfully dreading the answer.
"He asked if it was possible to create seven," whispered Horace ashamed.
Sirius choked on the piece of orange he'd just swallowed, coughing as he tried to hack it back up, wheezing but with a simple spell it disappeared. "Thank you." croaked Sirius, breathing through the panic.
"Seven individual pieces, Merlin it's worse than I thought." said Lucius closing his eyes very briefly.
"Does this include the main host or do we count it as eight?" asked Sirius confused.
"No seven pieces, it must focused on the magical number, I wouldn't be surprised he's obsessed with so much." replied Severus.
"He beat Albus Dumbledore's scores in a few classes…he was brilliant, so bright, so talented…such a waste." said Horace tiredly.
"Enough with the praise," grimaced Sirius shuddering, he hadn't died he'd gone on to wreak havoc with the entire magical world.
"Excuse me," said Lucius, looking up, "I have another visitor."
"I can't stay, I'd rather go, say hello to Mr. Potter for me and I hope to meet him properly one day…" said Horace standing up abruptly sensing his chance to escape.
"Very well, Dobby?" called Lucius sharply.
"Yes sir?" answered the Elf.
"Escort Mr. Slughorn out." said Lucius, "And Horace? Thank you for your help, it has been…enlightening and invaluable to say the least."
"You're welcome," said Horace fiddling with his clothes not meeting any of their eyes before disappearing with the Elf.
"Jerrod?" asked Severus curiously.
"Yes," said Lucius, stalking out of the room and running up the stairs to his office, this was the moment he'd been waiting for. They had a definitive number; now all he can do was pray the basilisk venom worked…otherwise that was it. They'd done everything they could think of; this was their very last resort. The Horcruxes seemed to be indestructible, a house elf had tried, and they had been trying for a very long time. He was beginning to sound like Black, but he couldn't help himself, it had to work, otherwise they were all doomed. The Dark Lord could return to kill everyone seven times if he wanted to.
There we go, that's them got the number, the ingredient :) will I add another twist and not have it work? :P just how will the Dark Lord Voldemort come back now? will Crouch be the only one helping him making it take much longer for the Dark Lord to 'come back?' will they still use Harry? and will there be any horcruxes then? will Lucius give up his duty as spy to save his sons best friend or will they just hope for the best? will Sirius help train Harry knowing something is coming and able to feel it in his bones? R&R PLEASE!