A Story of Hallows and Horcruxes
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Raincoats Books, and Warner Brothers Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to Harry Potter.
A fast–paced action thriller that chronicles Harry's journey as he seeks to destroy the Horcruxes. Follow Harry Potter as he faces desertion from friends, courts allies amidst enemies and traverses through the very depths of uncharted and undefined magic.
Harry Potter and Narcissa Malfoy.
Story begins in the middle of Deathly Hallows. There will be certain changes in canon that will be explained during the course of the story.
Spoilers from all the books.
Rated T for now will later go up to M.
Fractures In Friendship
Harry reeled the Extendable Ear back, mind whirling at the possibilities of the conversation that they'd eavesdropped. He turned towards Hermione. "The sword, it's fake—"
"I know!" she exclaimed, as she made a grab for her tiny beaded handbag. Hermione opened it – hands trembling in excitement – and put her arm deep into it and pulled out from its depth an ornate picture frame.
"The portrait of Phineas Nigellus," she said looking at Harry, as she explained. "He may have seen something in Dumbledore's office."
"Brilliant," said Harry, marvelling at her quick reasoning.
A lack of clue for so long after the Ministry debacle had very nearly killed their sense of adventure — thrill and excitement turning into boredom and lethargy. The eavesdropped conversation, however, between Ted Tonks and Dean with the goblins had once again renewed their vigour for the thrill of the hunt.
The two of them – Harry and Hermione – crowded over the blank and empty portrait of the former Headmaster of Hogwarts.
"Phineas ... Phineas Nigellus," tried Hermione, but nothing happened. The portrait remained static and blank.
"Professor Black, can we talk to you? Please." Hermione asked again, with respect and deference this time.
"Requesting always helps more than demanding, yes." A cold and snide disembodied voice answered from within the portrait, moments before the tall figure of Phineas Nigellus himself entered the picture frame.
Hermione, as she stood beside Harry, swiftly rapped the portrait with her wand causing a large black band to appear in front of the portrait, obscuring Phineas' face. Harry recognising the magic as an Obscuring Charm looked sideways at Hermione and gave her a small smile of approval.
Harry had first–hand seen Dumbledore using the Hogwarts' portrait's both as a messenger and as a spy; he didn't want Snape to employ the same means against them.
"What is this … what's going on?" Phineas questioned agitatedly as the black band obscured his visual senses.
"I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience, Professor Black, but I'm afraid that it's a necessary precaution," replied Hermione.
"You idiotic girl, remove this foul addition at once," Phineas commanded with rage. "You are desecrating a piece of art."
Harry ignored the man's vehemence and spoke out, "We need your help, Phineas."
Phineas' body immediately turned towards him and though he couldn't see him, he said, "Ah! Mr. Potter, is it? "
"Yes, Phineas," replied Harry. "We'd like to ask you a few questions."
"You have been very elusive Mr. Potter. There are a lot of people looking for you."
"I'm sure there are," said Harry non-chalantly.
"Indeed," Phineas replied quietly.
"What d'you know about the sword of Godric Gryffindor, Phineas?" Harry asked, jumping staring to the point.
"Ah, yes, the idiotic Weasley girl and her stupid friends acted most unwisely —"
"Shut up about my sister," Ron piped up, interrupting Phineas. Harry spared his friend a quick glance to see an angry expression etched on his face.
"The idiot girl attempted to steal from the Headmaster. A most fool-hardy venture — little surprise that she and her friends were punished for it."
"Her friends you said ... who was there and how were they punished?" asked Hermione, fear for Ginny's well-being clear in her trembling voice.
"That buffoon Longbottom, the oddity Lovegood and the Weasley girl, I believe, were sent to do detention with Professor Carrow."
"What kind of detention?" Harry asked, dreading the answer to his question. He knew the Carrows to be Death Eaters; detention with one of them had to be worse than Umbridge.
"I do not know, Potter."
Harry turned silent, fear for his friends' safety dominating all his conscious thoughts.
"They are alive Potter, if that's what you are worried about," said Phineas solemnly, inferring the silence accurately.
Harry silently heaved a sigh of relief. While he hadn't dared to contemplate that they might be dead, it had been a very real worry in his heart.
"When was the last time you saw the sword?" Hermione continued with the questioning.
"I recall the last time I saw it was when Dumbledore broke open a ring with it," answered Phineas.
Harry exchanged a glance Hermione. They both understood the significance of that. Dumbledore must have somehow used the sword to destroy the Horcrux in the ring.
He remembered the Gaunt ring had a massive crack through it. Dumbledore must have utilised the sword to destroy the Horcrux. That must have been the reason why he wished to give the sword to him. What he couldn't understand, however, was how a sword, no matter how legendary, could destroy a Horcrux. Hermione had told him that only the most powerful corrosive of materials can destroy Horcruxes. A sword shouldn't have worked.
His thoughts took a vexed turn though as realisation struck him, did Snape know about this?
"Did you tell Snape about this?" he asked Phineas worriedly, even as his heart beat rapidly in his chest; fear of discovery very palpable. If Snape came to know what they were up to then all would be for naught.
"No, Potter. Professor Snape has more important things on his mind then the sheer eccentricities of Albus Dumbledore." Harry heaved a sigh of relief at his words. "And I shall take my leave now, seeing as you have done nothing but waste my time," replied Phineas haughtily and left the portrait frame.
"The sword can destroy Horcruxes, Harry. Goblin-made items emulate anything that strengthens them which means that the sword is imbibed with Basilisk venom," Hermione informed him with evident joy, the moment Phineas disappeared from the picture.
"Muffliato!" said Harry, applying the charm on the blank portrait.
"Don't want him spying on us," he explained to Hermione's questioning look.
She nodded and then asked him, "Can you think of any time Professor Dumbledore may have hinted towards the sword's location?"
Harry slowly shook his head. He didn't remember Dumbledore ever mentioning the sword.
"Think Harry, maybe he'd said something ... anything about it," demanded Hermione with a curious look on her face, as if she wanted nothing better than to take a look inside Harry's head and find the answer herself.
"No. He didn't say anything about it. He didn't even mention the sword at all," answered Harry, still wondering if the Headmaster had ever talked about the sword during any of his private lessons.
"Can't you think of any place he might've kept it?" asked Hermione, looking desperate for a positive answer.
"Nope," said Harry. He didn't understand why Dumbledore hadn't just given the sword to him all those times he'd lessons with the 'dafter all hid the sword somewhere and not trusted Snape with it. Harry felt a chord of vengeance strike within him. He was glad to see that Dumbledore did have some reservation of trust against Snape.
"Ron, what do you think?" Hermione asked Ron, who surprisingly had been quiet for some time.
"Oh! Finally remembered me, have you?" Ron replied bitingly.
"What're you talking about?" Harry asked him, confused at his sudden burst of anger.
"Me, Harry. You wanna know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about that you seem more concerned with finding this sword than what may have happened to my sister," Ron snarled at him.
"What!" Harry asked Ron, confused. "I'm worried about Ginny."
"Yeah right," Ron scoffed. "You're sitting here talking about where Gryffindor's blasted sword might be and Ginny is suffering there in Hogwarts. And it's because of you, dammit."
"You heard what he said, 'They're alive Potter'," he continued furiously. "Which doesn't sound too good about how they are, does it?" Ron mocked him. "Why the bloody hell did we come on this trip?" he screamed at him.
"What have we done, huh?"he asked Harry heatedly, face scrunched up in anger and hatred. "Nothing — you'd no bloody idea what to do and now we're roaming the country-side as fugitives, suffering this damn cold, without anything to eat."
Ron stopped, breathing heavily from his impromptu outburst.
Even in the low light of the candle that hung in the tent, Harry could clearly see the vicious expression on his face.
Harry couldn't honestly say that he wasn't expecting this, especially after the whispered conversations he'd noticed between Ron and Hermione, the past few days. His lack of surprise though in no way stopped his own bubbling feelings of hurt and anger at Ron, even as some of his words about his inability to achieve anything struck true within Harry.
"Ron, you damn well knew this was going to be a difficult mission to accomplish," said Harry, his fists clenched and eyes narrowed at Ron. "What did you expect — Dear Mommy to feed you while you hunted for Horcruxes? Grow up Ron. This isn't a game we're playing."
"Yeah, well we thought that Dumbledore had a real plan that you were gonna tell us later on." He sneered at him.
"I've been truthful with you from the very beginning. I told you guys everything that I knew, everything that Dumbledore told me and you know what — I'm sorry, Ron. I'm sorry for not hiding anything from you," said Harry sarcastically.
"And don't you think I don't care about Ginny. I do and more than you think," asserted Harry, "but there is no bloody thing that I can do for her right now."
"So that's it. You're gonna to let it be," demanded Ron.
"What do you expect me to do?" asked Harry frustrated.
"I don't know. Something, anything," he screamed. "Get her out of that damned place."
"And how the hell am I gonna do that? I can't just waltz into Hogwarts with wands blazing and get her out of there," Harry told him, wanting Ron to see reason.
"You bloody disgust me. After everything that my family has done for you, this" he poked him hard with a finger on his chest. "This is how you repay us," he shouted.
Ron turned away from him and said, "I shouldn't have come on this stupid trip."
"Then you know you what the solution is, don't you? Get out!" said Harry pointing towards the tent flap, anger getting the better of him. "And you wanna know something Ron. You wouldn't even have a family had it not been for me, seeing the sheer number of times I'd to save them."
Ron looked at him with disgusted face. Harry thought for a second that he'd gone too far and Ron was going to strike him. His hand creped slowly towards his pocket, to grasp his wand but Ron had already turned away from him.
"I'm leaving," answered Ron shortly. He turned towards Hermione and said, "Come on, let's go," Ron said in a furious voice.
"Wait, Ron. This is not the right decision," begged Hermione, her tone pleading.
"Oh, c'mon! You said yourself that we won't get anywhere with the shitty way he's leading," answered Ron.
Harry whirled around to look at Hermione and snarled at her, "You too, Hermione! If you really think that I'm not capable of finding the Horcruxes, then leave! Leave, I won't stop you."
"Will you listen to me for a second?" Hermione demanded coolly.
"What do you have to say now?" Harry snapped.
"Harry, please for a moment, forget your anger and think rationally. We haven't had a breakthrough for months now. We don't know any of the locations of the Horcruxes. And the only one we have managed to find, we can't destroy. We need the Order's help," she said.
"No," Harry stated simply.
"Damn it Harry! You know we can't do this alone. We need help," she said beseeching him.
"If Dumbledore wanted to tell the Order about Horcruxes then he'd have told them himself," said Harry.
"Dumbledore is dead."
"So ... it doesn't mean that I'm going to stop following his orders."
"The situation has changed. Surely, you understand that. The sooner we accomplish this task, the sooner the war will be over. We cannot afford to wait Harry; people are dying out there."
"I won't tell the Order." His voice firm and left no room for argument.
Hermione sighed heavily and looked into Harry's eyes, regret was evident in her voice as she said, "I'm sorry that it has come to this but we need to do this, otherwise we won't win the war. Goodbye, Harry," she said while moving to pick up her things, Ron having already packed his luggage.
"I can't let you do that," said Harry while drawing his wand.
Ron took out his wand with a clumsy draw and Hermione went for hers.
"Expelliarmus!" yelled Harry, twirling his wand in Ron's direction. He was surprised, however, when both Ron and Hermione's wands flew towards him. He reflexively snatched them out of the air and stared at them for a moment, before reaffirming his grip on his wand and turning back to the two.
"What the —" Ron exclaimed.
"What are you doing?" Hermione demanded.
"I told you Hermione, I can't allow you to go to the Order," said Harry.
"So what are you going to do, Harry? Forcibly keep us here," asked Hermione with a tinge of anger in her otherwise calm voice.
"Make us your damn prisoners!" Ron exclaimed in rage.
"No," replied Harry truthfully. "You came with me on our own and I'm not going to force you to stay here if you don't want to. But I can't allow you to go and babble to the Order either. So, I'll obliviate you of your knowledge of the Horcruxes."
"Wha … what?" Ron said almost speechless.
"Harry, you can't do this. It's illegal," Hermione screeched.
"Didn't stop you from doing it to your parents, did it Hermione?" Harry retorted.
"Only because I wanted to keep them safe from the Death Eaters, and you know that, Harry," said Hermione.
Ron in the meantime must have caught up with what Harry had said because he charged towards him with a roar.
He stood no chance. Harry had his wand at the ready in the blink of an eye, Ron's belligerent roar having already alerted Harry to his intentions.
The silent Banishing Charm caught Ron in the chest, lifting him off his feet and threw him across the room to the wall of the tent. A Stunner followed the Banisher; the red bolt of magic knocked him out cold.
Harry's wand flicked towards Hermione, the moment he'd dealt with Ron. His actions didn't broker any reaction from her, but her pale face and the fear in her eyes said much.
"Remember the The Tales of Beedle the Bard Hermione,and the books on Horcruxes that you took from Dumbledore. I want you to hand them over. Also, take off the Slytherin's locket from Ron and the Put-Outer," demanded Harry.
"Keep them on the table over there," said Harry, as he gestured with his wand towards the corner-table.
"Dumbledore willed those items to us," she said quietly.
"I know." Harry nodded his head. "However, since you won't be looking for the Horcruxes anymore, you aren't going to need them. I promise you though, if and when I get done with the Horcruxes, I would return them back to you."
"Harry, please reconsider. You need help, you can't do this alone," she beseeched him.
"I can and I will."
"And how will you do it? You don't even know where to start looking for the Horcruxes, never mind find them. And even if you luckily manage to locate a Horcrux, how will you destroy it? Don't you see Harry, we don't have the information or the tools that we need!" cried Hermione, frustration evident in her voice.
"I'll manage somehow," said Harry. Though he didn't voice it, even he was unsure how he would do so. Hermione had pointed out some valid hurdles on his quest that he would need to overcome.
"You're deluding yourself, Harry. You know you can't do this alone. We haven't been able to achieve anything in the past few weeks. This thing is bigger than your ego. Just because you failed at the task doesn't mean that others will," she snapped.
"Is this what you've been thinking, Hermione? Did it even cross your mind that there may be more to my insistence than my ego; that there may be some reason for not involving the Order?"
Harry was hurt by her claims that he was unwilling to ask for help just to assuage his ego. He would never jeopardise others life just to prove himself. There were reasons for their solitary work; reasons that he'd have surely explained to her had she but asked.
"Did you even listen to what they were talking outside? The war's over and we lost it. The Order no longer exists. And even if we go to the Order or what's left of it, what can they do for us? And what do you think will happen if You-Know-Who came to know that we were looking for his Horcruxes? He'll hide them so well that no one will ever find them. And he will find out if we tell other people about it. There's some kind of leak in the Order. How else do you explain the attack on Privet Drive? They knew when I was leaving," he said.
"No, we can't tell anyone about the Horcruxes. I can't let you tell anyone about them," Harry asserted himself.
"Harry, we won't inform everyone about the Horcruxes, only those who are trustworthy," replied Hermione.
"How will you know who's trustworthy and who's not? Anyway, it's not a matter of trust. If any one of the people you're going to tell about the Horcruxes is slipped Veritaserum or Legilimency is used on them, which you know is quite possible, then we are all done for."
"That's a risk we'll have to take."
"I can't allow you to do that," he said. "I'm tired of this argument, Hermione, just give me the items and we can get this over with," said Harry.
Hermione walked over to Ron's prone form and picked off the Slytherin's locket from his neck. She frisked his body and took out the Put-Outer from Ron's pocket, then proceeded to extract the fairy tale book and the books on Horcruxes from her side bag and left them on the corner-table.
She turned around to face him and said, "You've what you want, now just let us go, Harry."
"I'll but after I've Obliviated the Horcrux's knowledge from your mind. Can't have you spilling your guts to the Order now, can I?"
"Harry, please don't do this! Obliviation is a very complicated piece of magic. It's not as simple as pointing your wand at someone and saying the incantation. You could permanently damage both of our minds. I did the Obliviation on my parents after a lot of study; you probably don't even know anything about it other than the incantation."
"Don't worry about it, Hermione, I'm a fairly accomplished Obliviator," said Harry and immediately trained his wand on her. Her eyes went wide as he cast the incantation verbally, a necessity, he hadn't progressed far enough to do it non-verbally, yet. However, the spell wasn't the Obliviation Charm.
Harry wanted an in-depth knowledge of her memories of the Horcruxes and their discussions about it. It was best to make sure that he had all the memories that he wanted to remove before doing the actual Obliviation. It removed any chance of partial remembrance as well as limited the chance of magical damage to the mind.
Reading minds was not an easy procedure; one could even say that it was impossible. Snape had that right. Legilimency did not allow one read another person's thought. It simply wasn't as easy as that, the human mind being far too complex. What it did was that, it allowed the caster to sense the emotions and get slight glimpses into the memories of the person on whom it was cast.
Most people could with some difficulty cast the spell and out of that a few of them could probably even get it right with some hard work. The difficulty didn't arise in getting the spell to work right; it arose in understanding and interpreting exactly what one was viewing.
While Harry had put some heavy work during the past year into his burgeoning skills, he was still a novice in the art of Occlumency and Legilimency.
From what little he could understand of the flashes of thoughts and emotions, he could sense the fear and excitement that was currently present within her.
Harry went a little back in time by forcing to think about his own sixth year and then pushing those thoughts at her, hoping that he would get some form of mental reaction. It was an extremely basic and crude procedure, but it was all he was capable of at the moment.
It worked; her tangible emotions and thoughts of her sixth year crashed against his skull.
He discarded the irrelevant memories and started digging for feelings that she'd associated with the Horcruxes. He found a fair amount of thoughts about their discussions of the Horcruxes. He wrenched himself free from her mind, the moment he'd gained the information that he sought.
Hermione's face was scrunched up in obvious pain from the mental invasion. Harry himself would have been in the same condition but for the amount of hard work and practice that he had been put under by his teacher during the past year.
Legilimency was difficult for the caster too, unless he or she was well acquainted with Occlumency. Since, the amount of external feelings over and above one's own could overburden the human mind and Harry was much better at Occlumency than he was at Legilimency. Experienced Legilimencers however, could be so swift with their work that one would hardly feel their presence.
He looked at Hermione, still reeling from the headache and disorientation that Harry knew she must be feeling, from past experience; wasting no time he lifted his wand and said aloud, "Obliviate!"
Hermione had been right though, anyone without proper knowledge of Obliviation could permanently damage their own mind and of the person on whom it was cast.
So, it was a good thing that he was rather experienced in Obliviation. His mentor had thought that learning Obliviation properly would help him with both Occlumency and Legilimency and he'd practiced it a few times on Filch, when he had been caught past curfew in Hogwarts.
Entering Hermione's mind, so to speak, he systematically focused on her memories relating to the Horcruxes, trying to encapsulate them in her mind, and then moved on to the gifts Dumbledore had left to her and Ron. Finally, he captured her memory of the current argument and metaphorically lumped them all together in preparation.
Since, it would be fairly easy for some experienced healers to return her memory; he didn't want her to have any inkling of thought regarding her Obliviation.
After he'd gathered all the memories, he proceeded to smear them with magic. The procedure was similar to painting colour on a piece of paper in which something had been written in. The written lines could be thought of as memories and the process of painting the colour was akin to the art of Obliviation. Of course, the actual procedure was much more complicated than that, but the gist was the same. If the colour could be removed, one could view the written lines once again.
He extracted himself from her mind once he'd finished the Obliviation and allowed her body to fall to the ground unhindered. There had been a lot of memories and as such the amount of pressure on her mind had probably forced it to shut down itself, which was probably the reason for her unconsciousness.
It had been more difficult than he'd thought it would be. Even when he'd practiced Obliviation under his teacher he had never really Obliviated so many memories or when he had done the clandestine Obliviations on Filch.
Harry took a deep breath to steady himself then walked over to Ron and went through the same procedure. He'd left certain memories intact in their minds so that their sub-conscious could explain what had transpired to their conscious mind.
All they would remember was that they had an argument over his uncaring attitude towards Ginny, which ended in a duel with him knocking them unconscious. Regarding their mission of destroying the Horcruxes, they will only remember that they had run away to kill Voldemort, without any plan on how to do so.
The misdirection that he'd planted was extremely weak and anyone with experience, digging deep in their mind could uncover the Obliviation. It was all he was capable of at the moment though. Creating fake memories to give the mind a semblance of what had transpired during the time-period of the memory that was removed was a hard procedure and well beyond Harry's current novice skills.
"Wha … what's going on?"
He heard some mumbling behind him, turned around to see that Hermione had regained consciousness.
She looked at him, their eyes met and she glanced down to see his wand pointing at Ron.
"Get away from him, you bastard," she screamed out at him.
Harry stood up and moved away from Ron's prone form.
Hermione half-walked, half-crawled over to Ron. She checked on his pulse to make sure that he was still alive.
"What have you done to him?" she asked breathlessly.
"He's just unconscious," replied Harry calmly.
"Give my wand back," she demanded.
Harry threw both hers and Ron's wand back at her. It didn't matter really; he could easily handle both of them in a fight.
"Ennervate!" Hermione incanted, while pointing her wand at Ron's chest.
"Argh … What's going on?" Ron woke up groggily. He turned his head around to get a bearing of the place and his eyes fell on Harry.
"I'm going to kill you," said Ron savagely.
Harry didn't bother to reply, only wondering how Ron's freshly Obliviated mind was interpreting the circumstances.
"I thought I knew you, Harry," said Hermione with scorn in her eyes. "What happened to the boy who used to care so much about his friends? You simply don't care what happens to Ginny and the Weasley family, after all they have done for you. I'm ashamed to have called you a friend once."
Anger towards him for his uncaring attitude towards Ginny and the Weasley family, reflected Harry. While he'd expected the former, since, he had left certain memories intact to show his apathy towards his Ginny, the latter took him by surprise. He realised that it must have been a consequence of removing so many memories, both fresh and old, though of course he couldn't be sure. Obliviation was extremely complicated and dangerous as he was coming to realise.
Hermione looked at him straight in the eyes. Her eyes showing the anger she felt at his so–called betrayal and the hurt she was undoubtedly feeling upon the break–up of seven years of close friendship.
The three of them stood there for a moment, standing at the three corners of a triangle — the low light in the tent cast huge shadows. A moment passed, and that was all it took to probably fracture their friendship beyond any hope of recovery.
Hermione closed her eyes and lowered her head before giving a slight shake. Harry got the impression that she was giving him up as a lost cause.
She turned towards Ron and said, "He's not worth it. Let's leave."
"Yeah, let's go. He doesn't deserve our friendship," said Ron picking up their stuff, his voice still taut with anger.
Harry watched them leave the tent and after a few short moments heard two sharp cracks signalling their departure.
He sat down heavily on the recliner, tired both mentally and physically.
His mind was in turmoil. Close bonds of friendship cultivated over a period of seven years – destroyed – shattered to smithereens in an instant of doubt, anger and hatred.
He could still remember the kinship he had felt with Ron when he'd first stepped into his compartment in the Hogwarts Express. He could still feel the excitement and fear that he'd felt while trying to save Hermione from the troll. He could remember, vividly, all their misdemeanours together. Hermione's incessant badgering to complete their homework. Ron's extremely detailed description of the various Quidditch matches that he'd heard or read about, his fascination with the Chudley Canons and all of their dangerous adventures that they'd gone through together — gone in an instant.
Everything was finished. He was alone once again. Was it my fault, Harry questioned himself.
No ... no, it isn't my fault, he thought. It is theirs; they chose to leave me, not the other way around. I'm not going to blame myself for their desertion.
He wiped his eyes roughly. Something in my eye …
He refused to admit, even to himself that he was saddened, even broken-hearted at their departure.
As for being alone in his life, well, he had always been alone, hadn't he? Ever since his days with the Dursley's he'd learned to live his life in solitude. Why should it matter now? Yet, despite his platitudes to himself, Harry felt more alone and lonely than he'd ever felt in his life.
He shook his head to clear his mind. He had more important things that needed his attention.
He gathered his things. He felt it prudent not to linger at the place any longer than it was strictly necessary.
He picked up the books on Horcruxes and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, from where Hermione had left them and stuffed the Deluminator and the Slytherin's locket in his moleskin pouch. He turned to look around the place. His clothes were strewn all over. A deft flick of his wand and a Summoning Charm was all it took to gather them at his feet. He picked them up and stuffed them into his rucksack.
He shifted his attention to the study table overflowing with old manuscripts on curse breaking, manuals of ward crafting and rune translation dictionaries.
He had been working with Hermione on a modified ward structure to ensure better protection for the tent before they'd eavesdropped on the conversation that'd lead to the argument. He closed the diary in which he had been taking notes and picked up the various books and put them haphazardly into his backpack.
The treatise on ward crafting and curse breaking were a gift from Bill. He had been hesitant to go to Bill after what had happened between Fleur and him during the summer of his sixth year, but circumstances had forced his hand. As it stood, there was no in the Order who was as knowledgeable as Bill when it came to curse breaking. And, he really needed to expand his knowledge in that area, considering that he was quite sure that even if he did manage to come across any more of Voldemort's Horcruxes, he would first need to break through the various protections surrounding it.
Bill had really helped him out though, supplying Harry with some of his own ward building manuals and runic arrays of ward structure and teaching him some of the shortcuts, tips and techniques for basic ward crafting and curse breaking. His helpful nature had made Harry feel even more guilty about what had transipred between Fleur and him.
Everything done, he lifted the rucksack onto his shoulders, hardly feeling the weight that it should have been, courtesy of a Feather Light Charm.
He left the tent and walked out into the chilly night and turned around to look at it. It would take some time to pack the tent. He'd have to first undo the various wards that he and Hermione had set up around it.
Ward breakers in general had to search out the points where rune-tablets, ward-stones or even runes were carved, to undo a ward. However, since he himself had set up the ward, he already knew about its placement and would be able to fore go the complicated and oft irritating method of searching for them. It might be easy to find the location of a ward anchor or it might be akin to searching a needle in a haystack without magic. It all depended on the capability of the warder.
He started to circle the tent, stopping at the place where he had set up the first ward stone. The Nauthiz rune was put into effect to act as a proximity alarm and also as a Muggle Repelling Charm.
Harry moved his wand in an intricate pattern around the anchor as syllables of a magical chant passed through his lips while he sought to deactivate the ward. It only took him few seconds to complete the task, having been through the same procedure numerous times in recent days.
He had set up the wards in a pentagonal structure with each ward linked to the other, and each anchor at the vertices. While he'd deactivated the first ward in the five-tiered ward scheme, he couldn't actually pull off the rune-tablet yet or risk injury from the magical backlash of breaking a linked ward structure.
The next ward was the basic defence ward based on the Algiz and Thurisaz runes. It had few spells placed on it like Protego Totalum, Tueor and Salvio Hexum to defend against basic curses and hexes and repel them.
The last two penultimate wards had been the most difficult to set up and as such took a corresponding amount of time to nullify. They were respectively a wall of invisibility and the circle of fire. The former put a stationary Disillusionment Charm on the tent and the later, a recent addition by him created a ring of fire around the tent.
It was done with the intention that if they ever got surrounded by enemies, he could activate it and encircle the entire perimeter with magical fire, giving them precious few moments to make good on their escape.
Finally, all that was left was the masking ward. It was a simple ward that transformed the magical discharges left from casual magic usage into natural energy, mostly heat. This was perhaps the most important ward that he'd learned from Bill. The ministry might not be able to detect low level magic usage but any serious magic done in remote places would surely be detected by them.
He sat down on the ground tired from the procedure of bringing down the wards. He cursed his choice of Divination once again. It would have been so much easier for him if only he had taken Ancient Runes for his electives. Without the knowledge of runes as a background Bill had been forced to teach him just generic methods of creating and disabling wards. Even that had taken a lot of effort. It had been helpful that Hermione had done Ancient Runes and was there to help him out. But she was not there anymore and he couldn't rely on her for help.
He sighed and dragged his mind away from his friends. There was work to be done.
A few well-placed Accio's dislodged the rune-tablets from the ground and gathered by his side. He placed them carefully in his rucksack and stood up.
It took him about two minutes to dismantle the tent and have it wrapped up into a small case that went into his back-pack. The function was available due to the numerous compression charms and enchantments that had been weaved into the tent. The only disadvantage was that the tent could only compress itself and the furniture it had come with. Any extra item would simply be evicted from it. It meant that they had to pack and unpack every time they moved. Something Ron had whined greatly about.
Everything was done, he just had to leave. The thought stopped him short in his tracks. Apparition was only possible to places one had been to, which greatly limited where he could hide in. It had been Hermione who had decided on the locations for their camps. He didn't want to go back to the places they had already been to and he didn't know any other secret hide-outs.
Just a second, thought Harry.
He did in fact know about a secret hide-out. It would be close to the enemy though. But then again, they said the best place to hide was actually in plain sight, so perhaps it was a good idea.
Destination decided, he turned around with deliberation and determination and Disapparated from the spot.
Edit: Chapter has been slightly edited to smooth out some rough edges and correct the dialogues.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Aekiel for his immense help with the draft of the chapter. Thanks to the DLP crowd for their comments.
Runes: The runes are from The Elder Futhark script.
Nauthiz: Danger, distress, confusion.
Algiz: Protection, a shield.
Thurisaz: Reactive force, directed force of destruction and defence.