Disclaimer: I have taken some verbiage directly from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in this chapter. That book, and the characters that appear in the Harry Potter series belong to JK Rowling.
A/N. PLEASE remember my original statement about Dumbledore. I am TRYING to portray him as JKR was trying to do and failed miserably at doing. In this story he is not trying to manipulate or control Harry. Guide him…yes. It is difficult sometimes to do that so I might be inconsistent in my portrayal. Sometimes he might be too friendly, while other times not friendly enough. It is a very difficult line to balance.
Also though I am allowing Ron to not be totally ostracized from Harry and Hermione, he will never be their best friend again. I haven't decided on what his final place is, but he will be more and more of a fringe part of this story as it goes along. IF you have a man-crush/crush on the redhead like a certain reviewer does, please go elsewhere. I really do not want to hear how you think I am being mean to Ron. After a couple of his reviews, I have been tempted to have Ron trip on the steps to the kitchen and impale himself on his own fork.
"That was quite…interesting," Hermione said as she lowered the Daily Prophet. The newspaper had dedicated most of its pages to the news of Harry Potter being bonded. The editorial section alone was three pages long and filled with various opinions. The editorial Hermione had just read was very critical of Veela and argued that the Boy-Who-Lived-Twice had been forced to bond because of some Veela curse and called for the immediate arrest of Fleur and Gabrielle. The article had also thrown in a conspiracy connection between werewolves and Veelas suggesting that Lupin had betrayed Harry (like all Dark Creatures do) to the fate and that is why he 'fled' the country.
"Was zat ze one about ze werewolf and Veela conspiracy?" Fleur asked as she finished a bite of her breakfast.
"Yes," Hermione replied.
"Ave you read ze one where it suggests our Cultural Center is going to be a front for a Veela brothel?"
"Not yet," Hermione replied in a sigh that reflected her contempt at some of the editorials. She and Fleur were trying to determine how widely the acceptance was going to be and if the matter diminished over the rest of the summer. "How can these people believe such things? Oh wait this is a better one…and so is this one. They both are open-minded about the bond and wish us well. Here's one that suggests that Harry…oh…don't they have censors at the Prophet?"
"Well, 'Arry is one lucky man," Fleur said as her eyes moved to the person in question who was at a table on the other side of the room being tutored in runes by Gabrielle. "But zen again, we are very lucky women n'est-ce pas?"
Hermione glanced over at Harry who, recognizing Hermione and Fleur were discussing him, looked up and smiled back at her. She could feel the love he had for her and her bondsisters. "Very lucky," She murmured before turning her attention back to the newspaper. "Here's the one about the brothel…oh…and they're suggesting I'm going to be the madam because…oh that's just wrong," Hermione sighed again as she put down the newspaper. "I swear I don't know how these people can be so…so narrow-minded."
"We knew zere were going to be such things. Zat is why we did it during ze summer," Fleur replied with a shrug. "Zough zere are many people who support it and wish us well."
"I know," Hermione replied. "I just hope it's better before September."
"Eet will be," Fleur assured her. "Zough I am sure it will…eh…flare back up when we return to 'Ogwarts."
As if the very mention of the school had magic itself, Albus Dumbledore walked into the room at that moment.
"Ah, excellent," The Headmaster said as he glanced around the room. "I'm glad you're all here."
"What brings you to 'ere today, 'eadmaster?" Fleur asked as she put down the fork that held another bite of eggs.
"Two things," Dumbledore replied. He reached into a pocket of his robes and brought out three envelopes. "Here are your letters," Hermione took the envelopes and passed two of them to Gabrielle and Harry. "They are incomplete since Professor Weasley has yet to decide upon a book for Defense and it is unsure what book you will need Harry for Runes, but since you are returning to France shortly, I thought it was best to save the school owls a most tiresome journey."
"Did you say you have the Hogwarts letters?" Molly Weasley asked as she entered the room. When she saw Harry, Hermione and Gabrielle holding envelopes she continued. "I need to go to Diagon Alley tomorrow so I can get everyone's supplies then as well. Do you want me to call Ron and the rest?"
"Alas Molly, Ron, Ginevra's and the twins letters will be delivered when the rest are ready," Dumbledore replied. "I just wanted them," he nodded toward the bonded, "to have a chance to get what they need before returning to the Delacours while saving a long journey for a few owls."
"You mentioned a second reason?" Hermione asked before Molly Weasley could start on her 'they should be staying here' diatribe that had cropped up since they had asked about Ginny and Ron visiting with them until Ginny's birthday. Though she had begrudgingly agreed, she still was displeased with having anyone out of her eyesight.
"Before you return to France on Friday, I was hoping one of you would be so kind as to help me regain entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. I would like to study Slytherin's library some more."
"Sure," Harry replied. "When?"
"Now if that is possible," Dumbledore suggested. "I have found that putting something off only allows life to add those little complications that we all come to despise."
"Now's fine sir," Harry replied as he glanced at Fleur and Hermione.
"I would like to stay 'ere," Fleur replied to his glance. "I really need to work on ze lesson plan."
"I'll stay with Fleur," Hermione said.
"What about you Gabrielle?" Harry asked, but noticed that his youngest bondmate had picked back up the locket she had been trying to open for several days. "Why don't you see if Professor Dumbledore can open it?" He asked after getting her attention. Recently when she started working on the locket, it had become more and more difficult to stop her.
"Non," Gabrielle replied. "I'll figure it out."
"You've been trying now for almost a week," Harry said. "In fact you're becoming a bit obsessed with it."
"Open what?" Dumbledore asked as he moved toward the table.
"That locket," Harry indicated the gold object in Gabrielle's hand.
Dumbledore's eyes widened as he immediately recognized what the young Veela held in her hands. He had last seen it in the memory of an old house elf. "Where did you get this?" He asked as he snatched the object from Gabrielle's hands.
"Give it back!" Gabrielle said indignantly. This caused Hermione and Fleur to leave their seats and move to their bondsister's aid.
"Why do you need to know?" Harry asked sharply as a hint of rebelliousness appeared from the anger he felt from Gabrielle directed at Dumbledore.
"Where did you find this?" Dumbledore asked again in a more commanding voice.
"We found it in the drawing room when we were cleaning," Harry answered after a couple of seconds delay. "Why?"
Dumbledore was silent for several seconds as he tried to determine what he should do; but with each of the Bondmates now eying him expectantly, he knew he would have to explain. "I believe you have found…." It was then that Dumbledore realized that Molly Weasley was still in the room and was listening carefully. "A very interesting item," He finished in a friendlier voice as he slipped the locket into a pocket of his robes. He knew he had to get the subject changed and quickly. "Speaking of items…Harry, Hermione, your Prefect badges are in your envelopes…"
"PREFECTS!" Molly Weasley exclaimed. "That's wonderful! We've got to have a party…oh I had hoped Ronald might be selected but you two are definitely deserving as well."
"Sir what about the…" Harry started knowing that Gabrielle had not forgotten the locket.
"Yes, we definitely should go to Hogwarts," Dumbledore replied cutting off Harry. He knew that the bonded would not forget about the locket and he really did not want more questions about it while they were in front of Molly Weasley. "In fact, now that I think about it, I really could use all of you." The Headmaster also didn't want the surprise of what he thought the locket was to leak over the bond and result in words that might escape to listening ears. "Since you spent so much time down in the Chamber, I'm sure you could help me organize the material faster." Again, before they could reply he turned back to Molly. "Molly, if you'll excuse us, I think we should go immediately so I can assure they are returned by dinner."
It was a confused lot of teens who landed in Dumbledore's office a short time later via portkey. As they started to pick themselves up they heard the locks on the door to click closed.
"What's ze problem 'Eadmaster?" Fleur asked.
"This is," Dumbledore replied as he removed the locket from his pocket and sat it upon his large desk.
"I don't understand?" Hermione said. "What's so special about it?"
Dumbledore stared at the locket for a short time before he answered. "I believe it might be a Horcrux."
"WHAT?" and "QUE?" where exclaimed by the bondmates.
"What makes you think so?" Hermione asked.
"Sir, Gabrielle's had that a lot this past week," Harry said before Dumbledore could answer Hermione's question. "It…you don't think it's affected her like the diary did Ginny do you?" He moved over to Gabrielle and put his arms around her.
"To answer your question first Harry," Dumbledore started, "I don't think so. Not if she never was able to open it…something I believe only you can do."
"But…but I tried to open it and couldn't," Harry replied.
"I think you'll figure out how when I answer Miss Granger's question, but as to Gabrielle," He peered over his half-moon glasses as the young blonde girl. "Have you been feeling like you missed time in your life?"
"Non," Gabbie replied, her nervous anxiety evident in her voice as she stared at the gold locket.
"She's been pretty obsessed with the locket though," Hermione said. "Would that be anything to worry about?"
"It is possible that the locket might have encouraged her, shall we say," Dumbledore explained. "But I don't think it possessed her. I'm not even sure it could with your bond, but even if it was possible I don't believe we have anything to worry about. If something like that had happened to Gabrielle, I'm sure Harry would have known about it instantly."
A sense of relief when through the room and Harry tightened his arms around his youngest bondmate.
"So…why do you think it is a Horcrux," Hermione asked.
"To answer that question, I believe it is time for you to learn a bit more about Tom Riddle," Dumbledore replied as he moved toward the cabinet where he stored his Pensieve. As he lifted the basin and brought it to his desk he continued. "I would like you to join me in a couple of memories." He returned to the cabinet and retrieved a small crystal bottle. "The first is from a wizard named Bob Ogden from when he visited a poor family whose son had been hexing muggles. Now, hold your questions until this is finished and I shall attempt to answer them."
A few minutes later they re-emerged and Harry was the first to speak. "That's Slytherin's locket."
"Yes, now that you know that fact, can you tell me how you might open it?"
"Like ze Chamber," Fleur replied. "Parceltongue."
"I believe so," Dumbledore replied with a nod.
Harry remembered what else was said when the old man in the memory had tugged at the locket. "That...man said they were the last descendants of Slytherin, but that's what Voldemort is…."
"Let me give you a hint," Dumbledore said. "The older man's name was Marvolo Gaunt…does that tell you anything?"
"Riddle's father was a muggle," Hermione spoke up, "Then you're saying that woman was Riddle's mother?"
"Exactly and that young man on the horse was, of course, his father," Dumbledore replied.
"But…how?" Harry asked. "I mean he…he…"
"Was obviously not interested in her?"
"You forget that Merope was a witch."
"She used an unforgivable?" Hermione asked. "How? She could barely use a wand."
"What you didn't see was what happened next. Ogden returned a few minutes after that memory with reinforcements," Dumbledore explained. "Both Marvolo and Morfin were arrested. With both of them out of the way, I'm sure Merope's confidence emerged and so did her abilities. Though I presume it is possible that she used the Imperius, I believe a love potion is more likely. Either way, just a few months later the village of Little Hangleton enjoyed a tremendous scandal. You can imagine the gossip it caused when the squire's son ran off with the tramp's daughter, Merope."
"I thought Riddle was raised in an orphanage?" Fleur questioned.
"He was," Dumbledore assured the French witch. "You see a few months after they ran off, Tom Riddle reappeared without his wife saying that he had been 'hoodwinked'. Now what he meant, I am sure, is that he had been under an enchantment that had been lifted, though I daresay he did not dare use those precise words for fear of being thought insane. When they heard what he was saying, however, the villagers guessed that Merope had lied to Tom Riddle, pretending that she was going to have his baby, and that he had married her for this reason."
"But she was obviously pregnant."
"Yes she was, but she didn't have the child until a year after they had married," Dumbledore explained. "Long after Tom Riddle had left her."
"Why did it stop working?" Harry asked. "The potion I mean?"
"Maybe her pregnancy prevented her from brewing the potion?" Hermione suggested. "There are some ingredients that can be harmful to a pregnant witch. If she truly wanted the child, she might not have been willing to take the risk."
Dumbledore smiled. "That is a very insightful thought Miss Granger. I truly hadn't thought of that possibility. Though I think it is more likely that she believed that it was no longer needed. I believe she was so in love with her husband that she deluded herself into believing he loved her as well or that he would stay because of the child that she stopped giving him the potions. No matter what the reasoning, it did not happen that way. Tom Riddle left Merope Gaunt never to see her again nor to find out what became of his child."
"What happened to Merope?" Hermione asked. She had felt sorry for the young lady they had seen in the pensieve being abused by her father, but those feeling had left when she had discovered that the young woman had used magic to ensnare a muggle.
"She was left alone in London…" Dumbledore started.
"Wait…how do you know it she was in London at that time?"
"I guess I don't, but I do know she was there a short time later," Dumbledore explained. He moved over to the cabinet and took two more crystal vials down. He uncorked one of these and poured it into the pensive. "This is the memory of Caractacus Burke. He co-founded a shop on Knockturn Alley that specializes in…shall we say, darker items of magic."
"Borgin and Burkes?" Harry asked.
"How are you familiar with that place?" Dumbledore asked in curiosity.
"When I first flooed from the Weasleys, I made a mistake and ended up there," Harry explained.
"I remember Molly saying something about you getting lost in the Floo," Dumbledore said. "Yes, that is the place I am referring to." He touched his wand to the silvery substance in the bowl and a little old man revolving slowly in the Pensieve, silver as a ghost but much more solid, with a thatch of hair that completely covered his eyes.
"Yes, we acquired it in curious circumstances. It was brought in by a young witch just before Christmas, oh, many years ago now. She said she needed the gold badly, well, that much was obvious. Covered in rags and pretty far along . . . Going to have a baby, see. She said the locket had been Slytherin's. Well, we hear that sort of story all the time, 'Oh, this was Merlin's, this was, his favorite teapot,' but when I looked at it, it had his mark all right, and a few simple spells were enough to tell me the truth. Of course, that made it near enough priceless. She didn't seem to have any idea how much it was worth. Happy to get ten Galleons for it. Best bargain we ever made!"
Dumbledore shook the pensieve and the memory faded away before looking at the bonded teens. "So as you can see, Merope was in Knockturn Alley very near the end of her pregnancy."
Hermione glanced over at Harry. She knew he was conflicted in his emotions. She knew she should feel pity for a young, rather unintelligent woman who had obviously been abused growing up, alone, pregnant and heartbroken, but she also knew that Merope Gaunt had brought the situation upon herself, and by doing do had unleashed Voldemort on the Wizarding World. "What happened to her? How did Riddle end up in an orphanage?" She asked.
"That I found out when I met Tom Riddle for the first time," Dumbledore explained. "Though of course at the time I had no idea he would grow up to be who he became." The Headmaster sighed as if remembering something he wished he could forget before continuing. "Merope Gaunt appeared on the steps of the orphanage on a snowy News Year's Eve in nineteen twenty-six. According to the lady at the Orphanage, she gave birth within the hour and died less than an hour later. About the only thing she said during that time was she hoped the child looked like his father and gave him his name."
"Do you know if she regretted what she'd done?" Gabrielle asked. Having just recently been kidnapped and threatened with potions to make her more pliable, she also was not in a sympathetic mood but she had to wonder if, after being abandoned, Merope Gaunt had regretted her actions.
Dumbledore sighed. "Unfortunately I don't but I have wondered what she thinks of what her son became."
"I'd say he became like his mother," Hermione replied.
Dumbledore had expected the teens to express pity so was confused by Hermione's reply. "How could you compare Riddle with Merope Gaunt? Do you not feel a bit of pity for the young woman?"
"No," Hermione replied honestly. "I admit that I felt pity in the first memory, when she was obviously being abused by her father, but you also said he had been taken away to prison. What did Merope do then? Instead of celebrating her freedom, she shows the same disregard for human life that her son does. She raped a man; a muggle who had absolutely no way to defend himself, took away his free will, forced him to father her a child and then instead of living to raise the child, she decided her life wasn't worth living. "
"Surely you don't…." Dumbledore started.
"Sir, what you are failing to remember is that I am a muggleborn," Hermione replied testily. "What if some witch decided my father was fanciable and decided to ensnare him with potions? Would her childhood justify the action?" She glanced over at Gabrielle and continued in a gentler voice. "And how is the actions of that woman any different than those people who kidnap Veela? Kidnapped Gabrielle? They were going to potion her and rape her…exactly what Merope did. I'm sorry sir, but I'll save my pity for the lives that have been lost because Merope Gaunt used her magic in the most abhorrent manner possible."
There was silence for a few seconds before Fleur asked. "I agree with 'Ermione, but I also believe it is not worth arguing over," She nodded toward the locket. "Why do you believe ze locket is a 'Orcrux?"
"Because I believe Tom Riddle was the last person to have it," Dumbledore explained. "I believe he stole it from a very old and rich witch named Hepzibah Smith after killing her."
"Another of Voldemort's victims? Fleur asked.
"No…one of Tom Riddle's victims," Dumbledore replied, "Though if you examine the Ministry records you will find her death was attributed to accidentally being poisoned by her elderly house-elf."
"But Voldemort is Riddle," Hermione argued.
"Yes he is, but I mean that he killed Ms. Hepzibah before he rose to power," Dumbledore explained. "Would you say that Myrtle was killed by Voldemort or Riddle?"
"He killed Ms. Smith while still a student?" Hermione gasped.
"No, it was shortly after he graduated…at the time he worked at Borgin and Burke."
"But that doesn't make sense," Hermione argued. "Why was Riddle working at Borgin and Burke? He was Head Boy. He should have been able to get a job anywhere."
"Oh he definitely could have," Dumbledore agreed. "In fact several of his professors urged him to take jobs at the Ministry, one in particular. Horace Slughorn."
"He was the Potions professor before Professor Snape," Dumbledore explained. "He's retired now but I'm sure you will meet him someday. I'm actually surprised he wasn't at the Award Ceremony, but returning to the matter at hand. Tom Riddle worked at Borgin and Burkes because that is exactly where he wanted to work. Well almost wanted. What Tom Riddle truly wanted was to remain at Hogwarts as a professor. He approached Professor Dippet on that very idea. Of course Professor Dippet told Riddle that at eighteen he was much too young to be a Professor and that he should reapply in a few years."
"Did he?" Harry asked.
"As a matter of fact he did," Dumbledore replied. "A few years after I became Headmaster, Riddle requested an interview where he asked to be allowed to teach at Hogwarts."
"But why?" Hermione asked.
"So he would have an endless supply of young minds to corrupt," Dumbledore replied. "He was already deep into Dark Magic by then and was going by Lord Voldemort. He even had a few followers who were already calling themselves Death Eaters."
"Obviously you told him no," Hermione continued.
"Of course," Albus replied. "But he already knew I would. He had returned for some other reason that day…a reason I never quite understood." Dumbledore considered telling the teens about the curse Voldemort had placed on the Defense position, but then decided against it. With Fleur being a part of the defense position, it was possible that knowledge might lead them to reconsider returning. He decided it was time to move back to the story of the Horcrux. He picked up the locket again. "But this…this I believe young Riddle stole along with another item in the possession of Ms. Hepzibah before killing her and framing her elf to take the blame."
"So…what do we do with it?" Harry asked.
"I believe we should destroy it," Dumbledore replied. "Don't you?"
"Could zis be 'is last one?" Fleur asked hopefully.
"Unfortunately, I believe not," Dumbledore responded. "Though the Arithmancy is not complete, it appears that Voldemort had split his soul at least six times when the piece that lodged in Harry was left. If I had to venture a guess at this moment, I would guess that he was trying to split his soul into seven pieces."
"So zere are only two left?" Fleur asked. "Wiz ze Diary, ze snake, 'Arry and now zat locket, zere should be only two left."
"No…I believe Riddle never knew about Harry," Dumbledore explained. "Though I do believe he planned to create a Horcrux that evening. I think that Riddle wanted to use Harry, the object of a prophecy, to create his final Horcrux."
"But…what was he going to use?" Hermione asked. "I mean there wasn't anything there was there? I doubt he was going to create a Horcux out of an old shoe or anything like that. If he was banished that night, shouldn't that object still be there?"
"You are forgetting one thing Miss Granger," Dumbledore said with a slight twinkle in his eyes.
"Hermione forgot something?" Harry asked. "That might be a first."
Hermione glared at her bondmate before returning her eyes to the Headmaster. "What did I forget?"
"Tom had his own wand that night in the graveyard and when he fought Harry two weeks ago," Dumbledore explained.
"He…how did he have his wand?" Hermione asked in confusion.
"Someone was with 'im zat night," Fleur realized.
"Indeed there must have been someone," Dumbledore agreed. "And that person carried Tom's wand and whatever he might have been considering using away."
"Pettigrew," Harry growled.
"He would have to have been wouldn't he?" Dumbledore asked. "I don't know what he had, and now we'll never know, but I don't believe he kept it since Sirius was in pursuit of him almost at once. He probably tossed the object away and pocketed the wand before Sirius cornered him."
"So…zere could be a valuable artifact just lying in a sewer somewhere?" Gabrielle asked.
"Possibly," Dumbledore replied, "But at the moment that is not our concern." He walked over to where the Sword of Gryffindor hung on the wall and took the ruby-hilted weapon in his hand. "To destroy a Horcrux, you must destroy its container beyond the capability of magic to repair."
"And the Sword of Gryffindor can do that?" Hermione asked.
"Not originally," Dumbledore replied. "But with the deed Harry accomplished two years ago, it now can." Seeing the confused look on the teens' faces he explained. "The Sword of Gryffindor is a Goblin-made blade. Goblin magic allows the blade to absorb anything that will make it stronger. In this case, when the Sword was used to kill the Basilisk, it would have absorbed some of the venom. Since we know from example that basilisk venom destroys Horcruxes, the Sword of Gryffindor should be able to do the same. Now Harry, when I say, please command the locket to open. The rest of you please stand back…but have your wands ready. If Riddle makes an appearance like he did with the Diary, leave immediately and do not look back," Dumbledore turned his gaze upon Harry. "That goes for you as well."
It took Harry a few seconds looking into Dumbledore's blue eyes before he nodded and replied. "Yes sir."
"Thank you," Dumbledore replied as he lifted the sword. "Now."
Harry stared at the letter 'S' on the front of the locket, imagining it was real. "§Open§" He hissed.
"Back," Dumbledore commanded as the locket clicked and then swung opened.
Each side of the locket was covered by glass, and staring from behind the glass were what appeared to be living eyes; Tom Riddle's eyes. The eyes swiveled back and forth until the locked onto Albus Dumbledore who was staring at the locket in fascination.
"Albus Dumbledore," The locket said quietly. "Your secrets are known."
"Sir?" Harry queried the Headmaster wondering why he hadn't destroyed the locket. He turned to Fleur. "Is it speaking in Parceltongue?"
"Non," Fleur replied as she shook her head though her eyes had not left the locket either.
"Your secrets betray you Dumbledore," The locket continued as the eyes turned blood red. From one of the glass panes an image of a young girl rose. The young girl appeared to be about Gabrielle's age. The girl turned to face Dumbledore. "You would kill me again?"
Harry was shocked when the tip of the sword dipped and tears arose in Dumbledore's eyes.
"Ariana…I…I'm sorry," came Dumbledore's sorrow filled reply.
"Stab it sir," Harry said. "Whatever…whoever that is not real."
Ariana…Dumbledore's sister…" Hermione said.
"Remember the grave and what Bathilda said?" Hermione explained. "Ariana has to be his sister."
"He killed his sister?" Harry asked but his attention returned to the locket when it began to speak again.
"Your love for Gellert and the Greater…"
"IGNORE IT!" Harry shouted to drown out the locket and then moved to take the sword from Dumbledore's hand. Before he could reach it, Dumbledore's eyes cleared and with a swift motion, the Sword of Gryffindor rose and with a swift motion cleaved the locket in two. A shriek tore through the room as the Horcrux perished.
All was silent for some moments before anyone could speak. Dumbledore was the first. "That was…difficult." The sword in his hand tumbled onto the desk as he sat in his chair.
"Sir…" Hermione started nervously. "What she said…"
Dumbledore's eyes turned toward the witch. "Are you asking if I killed my sister?"
"Eh…" Hermione wasn't sure what she wanted but she slowly nodded.
Dumbledore removed his half-moon glasses and wiped a tear from his eye before he returned them to his face. He glanced from one teen to another and then finally his eyes rested on Hermione Granger. He wasn't sure how to answer the question. He knew he could deny it, claim it was just a trick of Voldemort's, but they had all seen his reaction and would probably not be fooled. He was sure they would research the matter and arrive at a truth that wasn't really the truth. Finally with a sigh he shook his head softly. "I've been asking myself that same question for ninety-six years," Dumbledore replied truthfully. "When I was young…Fleur's age," He continued. "Someone I thought was a…friend and I had an argument…actually the argument was between my brother and Grindelwald…."
Fleur gasped. "Ze Grindelwald?"
Dumbledore nodded. "He…I knew him when I was young. Considered him a friend but that particular day Aberforth, my brother, became upset with Gellert and me and wands were drawn. Ariana tried to…to stop us and she ended up dead. To this day I don't know who was responsible."
"But…" Hermione started.
"No," Fleur said to her bondsister. She knew what Hermione was thinking. She was going to suggest the use of the Pensive. It would clearly show who was responsible. "He's afraid to know. Besides no matter who actually cursed her, he would still feel responsible."
"I'm sorry sir," Hermione said.
"Who was Grindelwald?" Harry asked.
"Really Harry?" Hermione replied sternly. "The next time you fall asleep in History of Magic I'm going to…to…"
"Still love me," Harry joked.
Hermione mentally sighed, "Yes but that's beside the point. History is important. Gellert Grindelwald was a very Dark Wizard who wrought terror on most of Europe until Dumbledore defeated him in nineteen forty-five."
"Dumbledore was friends with a Dark Wizard? And then fought him?"
"I'm sure he wasn't dark at that time," Hermione replied. "But that does explain why it took so long for Dumbledore to finally confront him."
"It is long past," Dumbledore replied to Hermione's sympathy. "Unfortunately the ghosts of our pasts find the strangest times to return to haunt us." He rose from his desk. "Now that we have finished that unsavory task, shall we go down to the Chamber?"
An hour later, with both the inner rooms, the Chamber and the bathroom entrance blocked open, that the teens found themselves back in Myrtle's bathroom.
"Thank you Harry," Myrtle said shyly as she came out of her toilet bend.
"For making Rita write an article about me," Myrtle replied. "I never knew it was Voldemort who killed me."
"He was still Rid…" Harry started and then stopped with his mouth open. Dumbledore's words came back from earlier in the day.
"Yes he is, but I mean that he killed Ms. Hepzibah before he rose to power," Dumbledore had said. "Would you say that Myrtle was killed by Voldemort or Riddle?"
Then the words from a House-elf merged with those words. "It was a clue, sir," Dobby had said "Was giving you a clue. The Dark Lord, before he changed his name, could be freely named, you see?"
"Sir," Harry said finally when everyone and turned to stare at him. "Dobby, when he was trying to warn me about the diary, said something similar. That he had been trying to give me a clue that Voldemort had given Lucius the Diary before he changed his name."
Hermione and Fleur immediately realized the significance of that statement. "Zen 'e must 'ave been present when it was given to Lucius." Harry's eldest bondmate said. "Ow else would he 'ave known it was associated with Riddle?"
"It couldn't have been Lucius mentioning it later," Hermione agreed. "Because, if I'm not mistaken, the Death Eaters refer to Voldemort as the Dark Lord."
"That is true," Dumbledore replied.
"What…what if Dobby knows of another gift?" Hermione added.
"I think we need to speak to Dobby when we get to France," Dumbledore agreed.