Chapter 6: Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour
Stand aye accursed in the calendar!
Disclaimer, Warnings, please see chapter 1. Do I need to repeat that?
AN: In this chapter, I have quoted a short passage directly from HBP by J.K.R., page 719, British pocket edition. I am sure everybody will recognize it.
Last time in Shattered Illusions of Safety, chapter 5 False face must hide what the false heart doth know:
"Good girl, drink a little bit more, you are nearly finished. I´ll help you, the pain will end soon, very soon."
Finally, the goblet was empty. The Dark Lord rose to his feet. He felt light headed with anticipation, Would it be enough? He peered into the basin. Nearly all of the potion had vanished, he could see the ground of the basin. He scooped the last of the potion out; suddenly it was only a quarter goblet full. He set the goblet aside.
There was a golden locket.
Time stood still. The cave and the black lake seemed to revolve around Voldemort standing in front of the glowing basin. He felt like a troll had punched his guts, as if an iron band squeezed his chest, out of breath, like suffocating.
The shivering, crying muggle girl leaning against the pedestal and his legs did not exist for the moment. She had fulfilled her purpose.
There was a locket inside the basin, but it was not his Locket, it was not Slytherin´s Locket!
Where was it? Why had the thief placed a substitute, knowing the Dark Lord would find it one day?
Voldemort was - again – enraged, furious, confused. This was the worst day of his life, well after Halloween 1981. His heart sped up to a frantic level. Nothing existed in this moment than the basin with the locket in front of him. Dark magic roared through him, spiked out of him, causing his robes and cloak to sway around his tall, lean form as if caught in an invisible breeze. The ruby eyes burnet like molten lava, fixed in an unseeing stare upon the false locket.
Unfortunately, the wretched muggle girl choose this moment to make her presence known, she moaned and tugged at his cloak, whispering, "Sir? Please sir, is it OK? Please, I need water, I am so thir-"
Ripping his cloak out of her feeble grip, the Dark Lord aimed his wand at her chest, snarling "Avada Kedavra!"
The brunette slumped against the pedestal, a shocked expression on her face.
Voldemort focused back on the locket. His magic had reacted to his turbulent emotions, it crackled around him like an electric charge; the familiar heady rush from the unforgivables coursing through his soul and body.
With an enormous effort, he controlled himself, concentrating on slowing his heart rate and breathing deliberately down, in and out, pushing the emotions – again – behind his Occlumency shields, reining in his dark magic. He just barely resisting the urge to pick up the locket at once.
He reminded himself that he was the Dark Lord; he had decades of magical experience. There were hundreds of ways this locket could be dangerous or deadly, he only had to think of the protective curse he had placed on his ring.
Raising his wand, he started to cast a series of detection charms to check for curses or other magic upon the locket. Was this locket perhaps transfigured, or charmed? Was it maybe a portkey to a holding cell in the Ministry of Magic, activated by his touch, his magical signature?
After twenty minutes, his scans had detected nothing at all. It appeared to be a plain golden locket, nothing more.
Voldemort´s left hand shot out, grasping the locket. He brought it close to his face and examined it. It was smaller than his locket, of a simple design, no markings, and no ornate S like on Slytherin´s Locket. He opened it slowly and carefully with one hand, the other pointing his wand at the locket, ready to throw it away and instantly raise a shield should a masterfully hidden curse manifest itself upon the movement of the hinge. Nothing happened.
Inside was no picture, but a folded scrap of parchment, which he quickly unfolded, tense with expectancy. There was a personal message to him:
To the Dark Lord
I know I will be dead before you read this, but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret.
I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can.
I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more.
Ice cold dread settled in his stomach. Someone knew he had made a Horcrux.
Who was this R.A.B.? Voldemort mentally scanned through the names of established Order of the Phoenix members or Aurors beginning with. B. Well, there was the Bones family, Amelia Bones, at that time she was an Auror, like her brother and father. Then there had been another Auror called Black, Sirius Orion Black, one of Dumbledore´s men. But Sirius was a rash Gryffindor fool, best friend of James Potter; he would have bragged about this if he had been involved. That meant Dumbledore had perhaps not found the cave, yet. The letter sounded as if this R.A.B person was working alone, and – he had definitely used the form of address of a Death Eater towards his Lord.
To the Dark Lord
It had been a Death Eater. It took him only a moment to process this new information to come up with a fitting name:
R.A.B. was Regulus Arcturus Black, the younger brother of Sirius Orion Black.
The same young Death Eater that had so suddenly disappeared seventeen years ago, and had later been declared dead by his family. Voldemort remembered whispered rumours from his other Death Eaters, that he had killed the boy for treachery. That had been shortly after Regulus had lent him that houself to test the protections in the cave. His thoughts raced.
"Regulussss." Voldemort spoke the name with a pronounced hissing quality..
How in Salazar´s name had that boy, still in school, found out where the cave was and that a Horcrux was hidden here?
Was Regulus the new Inferius, or did he escape with the locket and left an accomplice here to die?
Perhaps he could summon him, now that he had a name. "Accio Regulus Black´s corpse!" Voldemort called toward the black lake.
There were a few seconds of silence, and then a loud splash shattered the unnatural quiet, echoing eerily of the walls. Something move rapidly towards the island under the surface of the lake; he raised his wand a bit more and sure enough, the body of a dead man left the water and slithered onto the stones, coming to a halt a few feet away. The Inferius scrambled to his feet and took a step towards the Dark Lord.
The body was clothed into a torn black robe and black trousers, the feet bare. Shoulder length black hair, slender build, a once beautifully young, now sickly white face, but still aristocratic; even dead Regulus looked handsome, striking. With the command, "#Rest, guardian, all is well,#" the Inferius turned around on his heel and sloshed back into the lake.
So, this answered at least one question. The traitor Regulus must have had an accomplice that escaped from the cave and took the locket along nearly two decades ago. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Who was this companion? A young wizard or a muggle? Another houself? It couldn´t be an adult wizard, because of the boat, could it? On the other hand, perhaps it was an adult wizard, and the both of them had crossed the lake separately? He had not considered this possibility before.
Voldemort paced around the small island, while nervously playing with the locket chain in his hands.
He stood before an almost impossible task. Slytherins Locket could be anywhere and everywhere – or destroyed? No, he would not assume the worst; he had protected his Horcrux quite well. It could not be damaged, crushed or dissolved by ordinary muggle means or magic. Most likely it was hidden somewhere. How to pick up the trail of the thief after so many years? Was that accomplice Dumbledore or someone entirely different?
Voldemort considered the available evidence. Suddenly he was absolutely sure that the accomplice had not been Dumbledore himself. If it had been an 'Order of the flaming chicken member', then this person must have perished very shortly after leaving the cave:
If Regulus or this supposed accomplice had informed Dumbledore or some Auror where the cave was, this cave would have been raided by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement in the first war. There would have been traces of other wizards, of their magic, of a huge fight...because the Inferi were cursed to attack anyone that set a foot into the water.
However, the cave had obviously not been disturbed, save only once about seventeen years ago.
That was a small relief for the Dark Lord; however, Voldemort vowed to himself that he would find his Horcrux, if he had to turn around every stone in Britain!
When he was back at Malfoy Manor, he would speak with those people who had known Regulus best, like Severus or perhaps Rabastan, Avery, Mulciber or one of the other younger Slytherins around 32 to 35 years old. Maybe one of them remembered some small remark from Regulus, which had meant nothing to them, but could give Voldemort a clue.
Harry had known Regulus´ brother, Sirius Black, but only for a short while; well, perhaps Sirius had mentioned his younger brother, told Harry some stories about him? Yes, he would talk to Harry too.
Voldemort stuffed the false locket into his pocket and burned the piece of parchment.
Now the Dark Lord´s prevailing emotion was fury and the desire to strike back: How dare they to attack him personally like this!
Today he discovered that Dumbledore was searching for his Horcruxes, daring to almost waltz into the Gaunt cottage trying to steal the ring, and on top of that a supposedly loyal follower had betrayed him; one of his precious Horcruxes was missing, maybe even destroyed.
He would show the wizarding world, Cornelius Fudge and especially Albus Dumbledore that he was back in full power indeed.
And he would search for His Locket. Whoever stole it would pay dearly.
Darkness shall be unleashed upon the UK.
~ TBC ~
A/N1: The title
"Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour
Stand aye accursed in the calendar!" is again a line from Macbeth, Act4, Scene 1, which fit the grim mood of the chapter.
A/N2: So, how did you like this first part of the Additional Scenes? Good? Bad? Tolerable? Please tell me in a review. Thank you for reading and reviewing!
Thanks. But the girl did not really get out of his control. She only managed to resist the Imperious enough to utter her distress; well that is quite a feat for a Muggle, this shows she was a strong character. Not that it helped her at all.