A/N: As previously stated, the culture and society of Peru, the Incas, and the modern day descendants of the Incas were solely based on my imagination. None of the magical rites, rituals, and the music and art described in here could stand scrutiny for their factualism. If I have inadvertently misrepresented the culture of that time, as I am sure could be the case, please accept my apologies. This is a piece of fiction and has to be treated as such.
Declaration: I write for my own pleasure and not for profit. I do not own Harry Potter Universe.
With You by My Side
Chapter 45- Tricks of the Trade (Part 2)
Inside the cavern under the Sun god's temple on Soto Island, the two teens and their teacher, the High Priest Huaco fell into a routine of sorts. Waking up to greet the early morning sun was followed by regular exercise, and breakfast was followed by Harry and Hermione working hard at mastering their control on their own thoughts or rather keeping them away.
When they were exhausted or frustrated from those attempts, which was quite often at the start, Huaco shared the history of the place and the impact of the interactions between the non-magical and magical communities. He regaled the two teens with many anecdotes about his experiences, which were considerable in his nearly two centuries of life. Harry and Hermione actually felt closer to the Peruvian magical community with the teachings of the high priest. They were by no means proficient in the art of wandless magic, which they started to learn in their second year at Hogwarts, but at least now it was getting better after understanding the main requirement for that, focus.
To the high priest it was a surprise that physical exercise helped the two teens immensely in disciplining their minds. Magicals were never known to exert their bodies in physical activity even to the extent of using magic to save their lives. He now understood why the two teens claimed magic to be a crutch; physical exercise as a way to increase not only magical power but also mental acuity was certainly unheard of by witches and wizards. The high priest could not deny what was in front of him though, he could see the difference within a few days. Harry and Hermione were getting better at wandless magic as the days went by.
Huaco saw their struggles when it came to connecting with magic around them, and did his best to help the two teens out. Unfortunately, the process of meditation was innate to each and all the high priest could do was to give them pointers and urge them to keep patience. It was amazing how a mere difference in upbringing and beliefs in one's way of life could cause such major differences in a simple thing as focusing one's mind.
The high priest could see that the only problem his two students had was of their own making. They could not keep their mind clear of any thoughts for an extended period of time. The record till date was about half an hour and that was attained after nearly a month of struggle.
Harry and Hermione did admit that they could never keep their thoughts away; if it was not studying something new, they were trying to think of ways to solve the problems that the everyday witch and wizard were facing. And of course their future together was always in their thoughts. Huaco felt that it truly was sad that two teens had the expectation of an entire society on their shoulders, so much that they could not even take time away from working towards betterment of the society they live in. British magic society was indeed in a sorry state.
From talking to the two teens, Huaco knew that things were a lot better. Harry and Hermione now have a team of good people around them who work towards their common goals and the two teens should be able to let them handle things as it was meant to be. Yes, things could go wrong or they may not totally agree with the vision of the two teens but as long as those left in charge had the right intention, there was no need to micromanage by the two teens. Harry and Hermione should learn to let go and unless they are at the helm of affairs, it was not their duty to see that things are perfect.
Huaco was pulled from his thoughts and could see that the two teens were at the end of their patience; he was happy that this time they were able to keep their mind clear of all thoughts for about three quarters of an hour. It was not the time for him to talk to his students about his thoughts; Harry and Hermione were at the end of the tether of their patience and riling them up more would not do the job. They need to have a fresh mind to see things from his perspective.
There was another thing that he wanted to talk to the two teens, especially Harry. Even though the high priest could see that the remnants of the foreign magic in Harry's scar was not an obvious threat, it was not helping him any.
Getting their attention, Huaco led the two teens on a walk around the cavern. The practice was a result of the two teens' restlessness arisen as a result of their continued failure in clearing their mind and focusing on the magic around them for longer periods of time. For them, the walk was always refreshing and calmed their anxiety and Huaco also found the walk around the cavern a pleasant change; it gave him the time to examine the structure closely which he never did before. He was surprised to find that from certain angles even an innocuous blemish in the rock face was in fact a rune. The whole cavern was littered with such runes and was probably responsible for sustaining the magic of the place.
Getting to the topic at hand, Huaco addressed Harry, "I hope you know that you still carry the taint of Tom Riddle's magic in you…"
Naturally the two teens were shocked, "But I forced the soul piece out of my body," Harry sputtered.
"Yes…" Huaco agreed, he now had an insight into what happened with the soul piece. They probably did not use a ritual for removing it; that would not have left any evidence of Tom Riddle's magic in Harry. He got the details of whatever went on with the Native American from Harry and Hermione; using their spirit form to get rid of unwanted spirit, in this case the soul piece of Tom Riddle, was a stroke of genius. Unfortunately, Harry was still a youngster at that time and so his magic was not developed to such an extent that he could actually change to his spirit form.
The high priest explained the problem to the two teens, "The soul piece resided in you for a very long time, Harry. At a time when your magical core was still not stabilized and was growing, it fed off your magic. Not only did Riddle's soul use your magic, it also in a way influenced your personality."
That statement was met with a resounding cry of, "What!" from both the teens.
"Now, now…" Huaco hastily tried to placate them, "…this inquisitiveness, and thirst for knowledge might very well have been your own personality. After all you did say that both your parents were bright, brave, and powerful individuals."
Hermione chewed on her lip in nervousness, "We do know that Tom Riddle was a very curious child…"
"He did have a ruthlessness though…" Harry agreed.
Huaco breathed a sigh of relief. The two teens did not notice but there was a sudden spike in the magical energy around them and he was sure that it was not just their own magic reacting to their emotions, but Harry and Hermione were even able to influence the ambient magic. There was no control obviously and that was what worried the high priest. He did not want a disaster if the two teens unleashed their magic on him in their anger.
"Thank inti for small favours…" Huaco muttered. When the two teens turned to look at him, the high priest collected himself and resumed explaining his suspicion, "It is very much possible that your own personality trait of being curious was reinforced by the soul piece but it was not strong enough to totally influence you, force Riddle's mannerisms, his way of thinking on you. Your will was strong enough to shut it out."
There was no way to actually say that Lord Voldemort's magic influenced Harry's own personality and similarly, there was no way to say that it did not. Only the way that a witch or wizard would react to injustice would give an inclination if the person was evil or not and it was more or less clear that Harry was indeed the dominant personality.
Huaco breathed in deeply before continuing, "Due to the long association with your magic, even if the soul piece was forced out, Riddle's 'essence' still lingered in you. If the extraction of the soul was done properly, everything that was from him would have been removed. You forced him out, and that could have left some effect on you."
The high priest conjectured about how the influence might have been growing from the time Harry entered his puberty. It was fortuitous that the soul piece was removed before it could influence the mature core and what remained was a lingering essence. If the soul piece was left after Harry's magical core started to stabilize, then it may have had a higher influence and Harry could have been a very moody and rebellious individual prone to fits of anger.
"Then again all of this might not have come to be…" Huaco continued, "… you grew to be a very strong willed young man with very good control not only on your emotions but also on your magic. You grew up in a much better environment than Riddle and you found your true love very early, someone who is your equal in all things except for raw magical power."
Harry and Hermione were relieved hearing that. It was horrifying to imagine that Harry could have been a near copy of the most feared dark lord. Without any conscious thought, Hermione moved herself into Harry's lap and held him tight. The two teens drew comfort from the presence of the other and thanked their stars for the intervention of Tendou and the Native American 'medicine men'.
While Harry was reassuring his betrothed, Huaco was contemplating the feat that Hermione achieved without any effort or thought on her part. She was able to apparate, albeit a very short distance, without the use of a wand and more importantly without the 'deliberation' part of the process. Yes, the high priest was very satisfied, at long last the two teens were able to perform magic without conscious thought on their part. Now all that they need to, was realize it and he was willing to help them in that.
"So how do we remove his 'essence' from inside me?" Harry question their teacher. He was still holding Hermione in his lap and both of them were happy with that arrangement.
Huaco suppressed a snigger at that; he was going to have some fun with the two, "There are many ways, the easiest is to merge your magic with another, bonding with your life partner."
The high priest was waiting for the blushing teens to make an appearance but he was surprised to find that they were very comfortable with the idea. He did not know that Sirius already sensitized the two teens to the idea and a mere insinuation of marriage or what accompanies that, would never faze them.
Without any embarrassment or any hesitation, Harry answered, "That is not an option until the day we actually get married."
Hermione supported her betrothed but was more pragmatic, "We will bond if there is no other option for us, Harry…"
The young man in question turned to his girlfriend with a hint of surprise written on his features but that one glance was enough for him to understand the need. It was not just him, but Hermione also had a lot to lose if there were any lingering problems with the Lord Voldemort's magic inside Harry. He accepted her decision with a nod and tightened his arms around the witch sitting in his lap.
The high priest wanted to pout, he wanted to have some fun with the teens but they did not even flinch. He settled to be mature instead and so continued his explanation, "The only other way that does not involve putting your own soul at risk is to physically transform into your spiritual form..."
'Animagus transformation…? How does that help?' the two teens wondered but was naturally picked up due to the magic of the place they were in.
"Your spirit may never be corrupted," Huaco answered. "Spirit or soul is usually used interchangeably, but as you know already, a soul may be corrupted. Your spirit form, is the true manifestation of what you are in your base form or your inner most core and that cannot be corrupted."
"So when you change to your animal form, the foreign magic in you is removed?" Harry asked.
"Yes," the high priest was succinct in his reply.
The two teens by now slowly untangled themselves; they began to walk around to bleed their frustration away. "But we are trying that, we are following the method diligently and our occlumency is also up to the mark," Harry nearly growled with his fist clenched.
The high priest was also perplexed; he knew that that two teens are quite thorough and meticulous. If they wanted to pursue something, then they do it with extreme concentration. He was also curious to know their forms and so with their permission, Huaco entered their memories of the day in the mountains of Colorado.
Huaco was astounded by what he saw; being blessed by inti to even see such forms led him to bow to the sun god in gratitude, before he managed to regain his composure. To Harry and Hermione, the scene was no less shocking. Apparently, the two forms were well known to the ancient Peruvians too. According to Huaco, Harry's form was the embodiment of immortality and unlike the Phoenix which can be killed only to be reborn, Harry's animal form resists all kinds of killing. It can only die a natural death. Hermione's animal form on the other hand, is known for its vitality. Together, both the magical animals are near invincible and at least according to the ancient Incas, are prophesied only to appear during extreme need.
To Harry and Hermione, that declaration was shocking indeed. They never considered the implications of their animagus forms before, on an intellectual level they knew that magical forms were nearly nonexistent and to have the two of them with magical forms that were extinct was a miracle no less. It was almost as if they were fated to be together, helping the other out when needed and to finally defeat the evil in their world.
After that little drama regarding their forms, Huaco spoke about the reason for Harry's failure to attain his animagus form, "Your form is too powerful, for you to maintain the form will need a lot of magical power. Something that you may not have currently."
The two teens were instantly reminded about their questions about magic and the validation of law of conservation of mass and energy. The point raised by the high priest may be the answer they were seeking, but now was not the time for that discourse. They were already having trouble in clearing their minds of all thoughts and they did not need a theoretical problem that did not bear any consequence to their current predicament to make things difficult.
The lack of magical power was an easy answer to accept as Sirius did mention that not many witches or wizards can transform into an animal form even if they were to have one. Moreover, it was very rare to find a magical animal as their animagus form and added to that the sheer size of 'Kuahee' made it more demanding on the magical power.
It was a thoughtful Harry who raised another pertinent point, "Two years ago Voldemort possessed one of our professors. The professor tried to drain my magical core, instead, I was able to reflect the spell back and the professor's magical core was drained into me. I gained a substantial boost to my magical power…"
The high priest rubbed his chin in thought, there was no way for him to assess if Harry's current magical core was powerful enough to drive and more importantly sustain the transformation. It was one thing to trigger the transformation but to hold the transformation to any length of time is even important and that would need enough power too. The two teens understood what Huaco was imparting to them and shuddered at the thought of being struck in a partial transformation.
Then again there was another aspect to the animagus transformation, which most people overlook. "You have the knowledge necessary to achieve the transformation and also the will to carry out whatever is necessary to achieve the transformation, but still you did not get the one thing that is most essential…" Huaco dangled the bait.
The two teens resisted for a few moments but huffed in exasperation at the old man's theatrics and took the bait, "… and what is it?" Hermione voiced.
"The need to achieve the transformation…" the high priest crowed in triumph.
The two teens answered him with an eloquent, "huh!"
Huaco gave them a gentle smile, "We have a saying here, 'there is a season for everything under the sun', and it applies to both of you. Especially you Miss Granger, you have no impediment to achieve the transformation except that the time is not right."
"Magic is mostly intent after all…" Harry rejoined in a soft whisper.
"For you Mr. Potter, it may be more important to commune with nature magic, that may be the only way for you to achieve the physical transformation into a snorkack," the high priest counseled.
The two teens were taken aback, "Snorkack?" Hermione exclaimed, "You mean crumple horned snorkack?"
Huaco looked at the wide eyed teens, perplexed, "No, just snorkack. Why?"
Harry and Hermione looked at each other silently communicating about it. By now they were able to block their thoughts easily enough and Huaco was able to pick them up only if they intended and so he was not privy to their thoughts. Thankfully, the two teens mastered the art of non-verbal communication due to their close association over the years. Finally they decided that there was no need to embarrass themselves by admitting that they considered Luna's explanations about what may really be exotic or even extinct magical creatures as nothing more than inane ramblings. Besides, it was nearly the time for their obligatory exercise regimen before dinner.
Harry decided on a partial explanation, "We learnt that it was called 'Kuahee' by the Native American people."
Later that night, sleeping in the cavern, cuddling each other, Harry broached the subject of his animal form, "So, Snorkack, eh!"
Hermione huffed, "I am not going to give Luna any more ammunition to tease me." It was well known that while Harry usually indulged the small blonde when she spoke about some strange animals with their equally strange names, Hermione was used to restraining herself from saying anything hurtful to the likeable blonde. While they knew that Luna had some strange powers to see future actions of some importance, Harry and Hermione never imagined that the animals she told them about were anything more than a figment of her imagination. Now though, they were not so sure. Still, they were not going to tell Luna about what they learnt about the Snorkack, they would hear no end of it.
Harry simply continued to stroke her back in a soothing motion while Hermione calmed down and continued, "We will have to dream up some nicknames for our forms just like your dad, Sirius, and Remus."
Harry sighed, "That's the best way I suppose. Using the Native American names is not so easy and the Peruvian name is a strict no no…" He sighed again, "Sirius is not going to let us live. I always thought that it was very immature of them, but now I see that they might have had the right idea about keeping their animagus forms a secret."
They also discussed about what they would have to do to finally connect the magic around them. It was still frustratingly difficult for them to feel the magic in the air. Huaco was unable to help them more than he already did; it was Harry and Hermione who were having difficulty keeping their minds clear. It was almost as if they were to unlearn what they learnt so far.
"Maybe we should touch our spirit forms when trying to connect with the magic around us…" Harry thought out loud.
Hermione perked up, "I guess that may be the way to go. Especially for you…"
Yes, they were willing to try calling up their animagus forms as they learnt during their stay at the medicine grounds of the Native Americans. Harry may actually have to use the magic in nature to achieve his transformation and the need for that may actually give them a kick start in feeling the magic in the air.
After that, it took the teens only about a week to connect with the magic around them. The method they used to attain this was totally unprecedented and that shocked Huaco. He was taught that the mind had to be tranquil and completely clear of all thoughts or even a motive and only then could their consciousness recognize the magic around them.
Harry and Hermione used a totally different approach; they quickly realized that they could never clear their minds of all thoughts as they were always in motion. Whether it was through their thoughts or their actions, the two teens were never idle, it defined who they were and it was their inherent nature. They could never go against their nature and that was the reason why they were failing at keeping their thoughts away.
A witch or wizard's 'spirit essence' was the individual in his or her most basic personality. It's intangible but is also essential and it was in this form whether physically or metaphorically that the witch or wizard was closest to nature. One might even say that he was communing with nature and its energy.
Therefore, it made sense that Harry and Hermione were able to connect so easily with the magical energy around them. Their forms were magical too which gave them heightened senses which transferred to the physical bodies of the two teens when they connected with their inner animal. To the high priest this was a revelation and it showed him why the two, even though they were not even fifteen, could be considered as the most powerful magicals on earth.
When the two teens were able to sense the magic around them, Huaco could feel the subtle shift in the magic around Harry and Hermione. Usually, it felt like a gentle breeze but when the two teens connected with the magic in nature, they instinctively pulled it towards them. At that moment, the high priest felt as if he was in a vacuum, suffocating to him due to the lack of magic that he could connect to. Due to their naivety, Harry and Hermione, tried to pull the magic towards them and inevitably the connection would snap and the magic would rush away from them as a torrent. The aged wizard felt as if he was buffeted around in a stormy sea; both the teens were powerful in their own right and even though Harry was inherently powerful, they turned out to be equal in terms of sensing the magic around them and pulling it to them. Now, only if they could only limit their hunger to just a single thread of magical energy and not everything around them and sustain the pull to use it for their benefit.
Now after another week of trying, Harry and Hermione were a lot better at controlling the force they put in to pull the magic towards them. They realized that the magical energy around them was as strong as a string of thread. They needed to guide it towards them gently rather than tugging at it and they managed to sustain the connection with the magic around them for a few moments, enough for them to achieve the most rudimentary effects without actual spells or wand movements.
At this juncture they had another transition to make; they had to consciously direct the magic around them to bring about the desired effect while still keeping their connection with the magic around them. Only then would it be possible for them to do magic for extended periods of time. It meant that accessing their spiritual form must become second nature to them; they would have to be in constant communication with both the magic around them and also with their 'spirit essence'.
Harry and Hermione felt that they got the basics down and now it was only through constant practice that they would achieve their target. May be it would become easy for them once they successfully achieve their animagus transformation? Even the high priest did not know the answer for that. Meanwhile, the two teens were hard at work to maintain their spiritual state even when they were doing everyday things like eating and bathing. They were thankful to be locked away in a place distant from the everyday chaos and spent most of their time in harnessing their inner animal.
It all started very differently though. Two days after they decided to use their 'spirit essence' to try and connect to the magic around them, Hermione noticed that Harry fell asleep during their meditation session and at mid-day too.
Huffing at her betrothed, Hermione poked him to try and wake him up. To her surprise, Harry was quite resilient to her efforts. She was trying to renew her attempt, this time a little harder when their teacher stopped her, "It is a good sign, let him be…"
"How can sleeping in the middle of accessing our spirit forms be a good sign," Hermione questioned incredulously.
"You do remember that the physical manifestation of his spiritual form requires a lot of energy," he stopped when he saw the growing realization in the witch's eyes. Huaco smiled at her before continuing, "… he is on the cusp of achieving the transformation but lacks the magical energy to do so and that had drained away his core and so his body is resting now."
Hermione was suddenly worried, "It's dangerous for him though…"
Huaco shook his head and patted her shoulder in reassurance, "Not to worry, his magical form is the closest approximation to immortality as possible. Harry's constant efforts to achieve the transformation will force his spirit form to draw the energy from nature…"
"So he will be able to physically transform now…" Hermione was excited.
"Unfortunately no…" the high priest interrupted her celebration, "… for that he has to consciously draw the magical energy into his magical core so that it can sustain the transformation. The advantage that Harry will get out of it is that once formed, the connection to the magic around him may well be near permanent."
That was all the encouragement that Hermione needed and she redoubled her efforts.
It was now three months since Harry and Hermione entered the cavern underneath the sun god's temple on Soto Island. With the companionship and teachings of their friend, mentor, and guide, the high priest Huaco, Harry and Hermione could say that they were reborn.
The two teens were no longer ordinary witch and wizard; they had an extraordinary perception of their surroundings. This was aided by the fact that they could sense changes in the magic around them. They were not experts at it yet but they were better than the average Chilean magic user and infinitely better than their British counterparts.
Even in the country that they learnt to sense magic around them, not every magical user was able to connect with magic around them. Magic users in Chile were different in that they were masters of using ritual forms of magic and on the other hand, they were inferior to all other magicals in that they could not use magic to help their everyday chores. Not everyone had the discipline and the ability to sense magic around them and use it to perform wandless magic. Only a few who were trained in the Sun god's temple achieved the ability to use their own magical core to power spells without a wand and only an extremely small numbers raise to the level of being able to power their spells from the magic in nature. Harry and Hermione really considered themselves blessed to be trained by one of the two currently alive.
Three months of pushing themselves later, the two teens were in a position where they need never use their magical core for anything more than sustaining themselves. With a mere thought they could do everything that a powerful witch or wizard could do with a wand. From something simple as levitating a feather, Harry and Hermione could blast a building apart if they needed to and without breaking a sweat. All it took them was to get in touch with their 'spirit essence' and pull a thread of magic from around them and visualize the effect they wanted.
There was a catch to that too, they could not maintain a contact with their inner animal for a substantial length of time. Harry was able to manage it for a whole morning while Hermione had to retreat after about two hours. They hoped that with time and practice, it would become second nature to them or once they achieved the physical transformation. For casting magic through extended periods of time, the two teens still had to rely on their wands.
Being in their spirit form or in contact with their spirit essence was a very strange experience, good strange, but still strange for Harry and Hermione. Hermione felt a little more energetic than normal and she was hard put to stay in one place. She wanted to run around the entire cavern just to burn off that excess energy but more importantly she was did not like the lack of the earthly smell that came with fresh air in a forest or a grassland. In addition to the heightened senses, she felt the magic around her thrumming with life and barely restrained power. It was very easy for her to unleash that energy with just a thought; yes, whatever they did currently using that magical energy was simple things like those they learnt in the first year at Hogwarts, but the potential was there for them to unleash it if needed.
Harry was in a way forced to draw the magic around him if he even wanted to remain in that state for longer periods of time. This was also the reason why he felt very lazy, it was almost as if he did not have the energy to even do simple things. He felt like turning around and going to sleep if he was using the magic around him. However, if he forced himself from his lethargy, Harry could feel the immense power at his command, not just from the magic in nature, but also from within him. He was way ahead of Hermione in channeling the free magic into his core powering it up. He felt invulnerable in such a state.
However, he was unable to transform physically even when he was powering his magical core up. So much so that he was resigned to the idea that he might never physically transform into his 'Kuahee' or 'snorkack' form.
The sad part for Hermione was that she was also unable to achieve her animagus transformation despite her burning desire to attain her 'Wischuk' form. Maybe it was seeing Harry's pain at not being able to transform, her mind subconsciously shut down her own transformation, or it was something else, Hermione did not know. She chalked it up to the possibility that it was still not the 'season under the sun' for her to transform.
They were now ready to go back to the surface, afraid about what was waiting for them. It was about three months and they could not expect Emma and Dan still waiting for them; they would probably have left back to England and now Harry and Hermione would have to think of ways to get back. But that was later, right now they were in front of an array of Tom Riddle's horcruxes.
The family decided that the diary of the dark lord was also to be consigned to the depths of hell whenever the team had a safe way of disposing the horcruxes off. Not only were all the death eaters who were on the fringe and could be coerced to back into the general society, were already turned, the soul piece inside the diary looked like it was beginning to rebel. The diary stopped responding to whatever was written in it and the family could sense that the soul piece inside the diary was looking at ways to release itself and maybe search for ways to gain a body. All it needed was a small change in the rune sequence and though the diary was inert, if anyone could find a way to release itself from the binding, it would be the creator of the diary. Harry did not want that to happen and so it was time to get rid of the soul piece.
To the two teens it somehow felt apt that the first steps to destroy evil were being taken in the Sun god's abode.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Huaco asked for the umpteenth time.
Destroying the diary was a simple thing, it was just a matter of etching the required runes to shut off the connection between the magic in the air that was keeping the soul piece alive, and the rune sequence assimilating the magic, and Harry did that. The result was, at least to Harry, a little disappointing. There was no fireworks display or spectacular blasts or anything like that, a single pulse of magic emanated from the diary and then it remained inert. The only sign that led them to believe that the soul piece was actually dead was the lack of 'evilness' around it. That and also the fact that the diary which was resistant to magic capable of destroying it, took damage now with the soul piece gone. A simple 'incendio' from Hermione's wand reduced it to ash.
The two teens had two other abominations with them, the diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw and the Locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin and now housed pieces of the dark lord Voldemort. As the case with the diary, the two items were resistant to magic and moreover, the priceless relics were of historical importance and the two teens did not have the heart to physically destroy them. The answer, again, was to cut off the connection with the ambient magic.
With their teacher watching them, the two teens concentrated and with minimal effort, latched onto the thread of magic that was being fed into the horcrux. The soul piece needed this magic to sustain itself and denying it the means was an easy thing to do for Harry and Hermione. With two simultaneous tugs, Harry took care of the locket while Hermione did the same with the diadem.
The three magicals waited a few minutes and when nothing else happened, let out a sigh of relief. It was easy for them to feel the change in the magic around the horcruxes. While earlier, there was a steady stream, albeit a very small one, of magic into the items, now there was none. They were truly inert. Disregarding the two teens' protests, Huaco lifted the two items with his bare hands.
Hermione could recall with vivid clarity the effect the horcurx had on her. She was thankful that there was no such feeling now; four of Voldemort's soul pieces have indeed been destroyed. Hopefully, there were only two more horcruxes to be taken care of. They did not have a clue as to their identity or to their location, but still the two teens were upbeat. It was a significant step towards destroying the evil known as Lord Voldemort.
The high priest was impressed. It was the first time that he was able to teach anyone to connect with the magic in nature and use it to power their intent to do magic. Never in his long life did he believe that he could find someone worthy of learning the skill and to find that not one but two teenagers achieve it; Huaco felt blessed. So much in fact that he broke another cardinal rule, he wanted to reward them with a treasure so great that even many of the priests in the temple did not know about it.
With a gruff, "Follow me…" the high priest disappeared from before the surprised teens.
Harry and Hermione looked at each other, unable to understand the reason. They felt that it was some sort of a test for them and were determined to do well in it as was their wont. They identified the displaced magic and latching onto it, followed their teacher.
The two teens were surprised to find themselves in a very narrow tube of rock. It was similar to a mine shaft and it was confirmed by an astonishing sight before them. Wherever they turned to, the eye caught the glint of gold and it was and enormous reserve of gold.
'This is the reason why we were always at war,' Huaco gestured toward the rich vein.
The two teens were awed at the enormous treasure. The point was really driven home after seeing the ore before them. "Where are we…?" Hermione asked timidly.
Huaco sighed; he knew that the two teens were trustworthy but he already crossed a line by bringing them to this place. 'An uninhabited island in Lago Titicaca,' he admitted.
"Wow!" Harry exclaimed, "No wonder you are so secretive."
The high priest chuckled; reflecting on the fact that he did not pick any malicious intent from the two teens even when faced with such riches. 'This area is not only a gold mine but it also has a magic that can grant you something that you need the most.'
"Should we ask for something," Harry thought out loud. He was not sure what he desperately needed; knowledge was something that was always welcome but he did not believe that a gold mine would give him that, however magical it might be. Frankly, the only thing he could think of was a ring for his wife-to-be.
'Place your hands on the wall and clear your minds of all thoughts,' Huaco instructed.
The two teens watched in awe as two blobs of gold arose from the vein in front of them, it was almost as if it was bubbling through their fingers; Harry's was a lot bigger than Hermione's. The gold began to morph and in front of Hermione was a chakana, also known as the tree of life. The beautiful craftsmanship aside, the piece pulsed with energy, almost a life of its own. The upper part of the chakana was made of pure white gold in contrast to the lower half which was normal gold.
The high priest plucked another piece of gold and molded it into a beautiful chain. He allowed the chain to thread the chakana and forgoing a clasp, the two ends melded into each other making it one continuous chain. Huaco placed the chain around Hermione's neck blessing her in ancient Inca rites, 'An amazing gift from magic, keep it near you always,' he advised.
The piece of gold before Harry was still morphing and only after Hermione's did, it began to take definite shape. In front of him was a long and hollow, "Scabbard!" Harry exclaimed in surprise.
The finished scabbard hung in the air in front of him and Harry reached out automatically still confused. Before anyone could offer any comments, the sword of Gryffindor materialized and slid gracefully into the scabbard.
"But I am not a warrior mage…" Harry stuttered out in shock and a little awe.
Huaco shrugged his shoulder, 'Nevertheless, it's your legacy. Keep it on you always…' He conjured a simple but sturdy leather belt and gave it to the young wizard. Harry decided to wear the sword on his back and the strap adjusted accordingly.
With his job done, Huaco disappeared again and the two teens followed him. They arrived with nary a sound in front of a surprised Dan and Emma Granger who were looking for any signs of their daughter and her boyfriend. They spent a restless night in a hotel in Puno and spent the morning in sightseeing with nervous energy. Dan and Emma arrived at the temple on Soto Island in time for Lunch as part of the remembrance feast.
An equally surprised but excited Hermione ran into her mother's arms, "Mum, Dad!" she exclaimed, "You are still here…"
Dan took his turn at hugging his daughter and chuckled at Hermione's surprise, "It's only the next day Hermione…"
"You were away for less than a day…" Emma also laughed at her daughter's antics. She was acting as if they were away for more than that.
Hermione was so surprised that she could not say anything and it was left to Harry to state the reason for their shock, "But we took three months to master the skill…"
"Three months!" Now it was the elder Grangers' turn to be shocked. "How is that possible…" Emma sputtered.
Harry and the Grangers turned to a smiling Huaco, 'I did promise to return you the next day.' He had a smug smile on his weathered face.
The two teens bowed to their teacher in gratitude and the elder Grangers followed their lead. The high priest waved them off with a blessing and watched as the four foreigners were warmly welcomed to the feast by the priests. There was a sea change in their attitude towards the two teens and their guardians. Though they were not totally accepted into their fold, the other priests knew that the two teens were blessed by the Sun god and that meant that they were nearly a part of their society.
Huaco watched Harry and Hermione with a contended smile, it was an eye opening experience for him too. To think that the fate of the entire world rested on the shoulders of the young man! Huaco mused that when the time came for him to meet inti, he could hold his head high and tell him that he did his part in saving the world.