The Lord Has Cursed
A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1.
Ginny apparated to a spot near Shell Cottage that was not far from where she had left. She had left looking like Bellatrix Lestrange, and she was returning looking like Dolores Umbridge. Not really an improvement in any way.
The worst part of it was that she had to undress before using the Polyjuice Potion with Dolores Umbridge’s hair. Umbridge was too wide to wear Ginny’s things, and Ginny was too tall to wear Umbridge’s things. Ginny was just glad she had an extra set of clothes, so she could take out a robe and change it to a pink monstrosity the right size for Umbridge. She had also needed to transfigure a cap into a pink hairbow, and transfigure a pair of shoes into pink heels of the right size, to complete the usual hideous Dolores Umbridge look.
Hermione and Ron came running out of the cottage when they saw her.
Hermione ran up and muttered, “Ugh, I still don’t know why you had to pick her
.” She handed Ginny a flask of Polyjuice Potion that Ginny quickly downed.
Ginny said, “That didn’t taste so bad.”
Hermione said, “It shouldn’t, it’s your own hair.”
Ginny stepped out of the shoes and took off the hairbow. Then she gritted her teeth at the painful transformation. But in under a minute, she was herself again. She quickly transfigured the robe to a black one that fit her properly. Then she transfigured her shoes back to normal and put them on again.
“Thank Merlin for that! I’d rather look at Bellatrix than that frog-faced creep!”
Hermione squawked, “Ron!”
Ron fussed, “Well, it’s true! Bellatrix is a bleeding psycho, but Umbridge? Pure evil.”
Ginny didn’t say anything, but she was certainly glad Hermione was a hundred times smarter than Umbridge. Hermione had outsmarted Old Frogface about a dozen times in Ginny’s fourth year. It was a shame Harry and the twins couldn’t control their tempers around Umbridge, but Ginny was sure the old bat would have trumped up charges against Harry sooner or later anyway. Anyone evil enough to sick dementors on a fifteen year old boy wouldn’t stop at faking evidence or just plain lying to get Harry booted out of Hogwarts.
Ron asked impatiently, “Well, did you find it? Did you hack it to pieces? Did you have to knock Griphook out and take the sword away from him?”
Ginny grimaced. “I got the cup. Griphook ran off with the sword while I was standing there feeling sick from the Horcrux. So we’ve got it and we can’t destroy it, and it’s making me want to puke.”
“Well, hand it over.” Hermione held her hand out sternly.
Ginny handed her the cup and watched as Hermione paced off fifty steps before using an Excavating Charm to bury it in the sandy soil.
When Hermione walked back, Ron said, “Okay, we’re down to one Horcrux. So when Harry takes care of Ickle Tommykins, we’ve got him trapped. We’ll have time to find someone or something that can destroy the cup. Maybe Harry can go down to the Chamber of Secrets and snag us a basilisk fang, or we can get somebody like Flitwick to conjure up some Fiendfyre for a few seconds.”
Hermione frowned, “Ron, you don’t really think it’ll be that easy, do you?”
He blushed, his ears turning pink. “Well… No. But we’re doing great so far, and maybe when we get in trouble again, one of us could, you know, summon the sword, and we could use it on the cup.”
Hermione pursed her lips. “I don’t think the sword of Gryffindor works like a house elf. You can’t just call it when you feel like it.”
Ginny said to Hermione, “I’m sorry I messed up. I guess you were right, and we needed to plan things out for a month or two.”
Hermione said, “No, I think you were right after all. As soon as Bellatrix can get up and get herself cleaned up, she’s going to go to her vault and retrieve that cup and the sword. And as soon as she find out that sword’s a fake, she’ll never trust that cup there again. This was probably our only chance to find it.”
Ron grinned, “And your plan worked! You got into Gringotts and stole a lost goblin treasure and got away with it. I bet Griphook’s in huge trouble right now, the little blighter.”
Ginny heard the door of the cottage open behind her, and she turned to see who it was. Bill was helping a white-faced Harry stagger toward them
“Uh-oh,” Ron muttered anxiously.
Harry struggled to walk up to where they stood. “It’s bad. Really bad,” he gasped.
Hermione interrupted, “Bill’s here. Do we need to…”
Harry shook his head in exhaustion. “Don’t think it matters anymore. Riddle knows we’re hunting his Horcruxes.”
Ginny gasped. Everyone gasped. Ron said something that would have gotten his mouth washed out if they’d been home.
Bill said, “What?”
Hermione said, “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is Tom Riddle. Head Boy at Hogwarts around fifty years ago. He found out how to make himself immortal. Horcruxes. They’re a very dark magic where you commit murder and use how that act damages your soul to tear a chunk of your soul off and seal it in a magical container. He split his soul into seven pieces, and Dumbledore figured it out. He sent Harry on a quest to find all of them and destroy them, so Harry could stop Riddle once and for all. We’ve found all of them and destroyed all but one. But if Riddle knows what we’re up to, he can make more and beat us.”
Ron said, “We had to break into the Ministry.”
Ginny added, “And sneak into Hogwarts.”
Hermione said, “And break into Gringotts.”
Bill looked ashen. “And… you’ve managed to do all these things? And get away with them?” He received four tired nods.
Bill looked at Ron. “I guess I’ve really been taking you for granted. That’s… astounding.”
Ron shook his head slowly. “No, you haven’t. I’m just the sidekick.”
“No, you’re not!” Hermione insisted angrily.
Harry said, “Look, I’ve got to tell you what I saw. He was really, really angry. I mean, he was blowing up most of a wing of Malfoy Manor while everyone else ran for their lives. He was torturing the Malfoys for letting Hermione get away, and he was torturing all the Lestranges for letting us steal the cup out of their vault, and he killed Macnair for not recognizing it wasn’t the real Bellatrix when he met Ginny at Gringotts. They think it was Hermione.”
Hermione said, “Oh Merlin! As soon as they grab Griphook and hurt him a bit, he’ll tell them it was Ginny. We need to warn Mr. and Mrs. Weasley!”
Bill said, “I can handle that part.”
Harry said, “Riddle knows we have – had – the real sword of Gryffindor, and he figured out what that means. He thinks we used it on Nagini. So he’s heading after the Deathstick. Right now. He’s pulling together an army to take it.”
Bill said, “The Deathstick? That’s a legend.”
Hermione said, “That’s what I thought. It’s not. It’s one of the three Deadly Hallows, and Riddle wants the Deathstick to fight Harry, because Harry’s wand beat his when they dueled.”
Bill guessed, “That’s why we have Mister Ollivander here now?”
Hermione explained, “Harry’s wand – the wand that picked him when he was eleven – it’s the brother wand to Riddle’s. When Harry and Riddle dueled, the wands… linked.”
Harry said, “When that happened, it stopped being a duel of magical skill and started being a duel of… I guess… determination. I won, and I got away, but we figured Riddle’s been obsessed ever since with figuring out what happened, and how to beat my wand.”
Bill said, “But no one knows where the Deathstick could be, or even if it’s real.”
Harry said, “We do.” Bill’s jaw dropped open.