A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1.
Harry added, “We know exactly where it is.”
Hermione said, “Gregorovitch, the old European wandmaker, had it for study. Gellert Grindelwald stole it. Dumbledore took it when he defeated Grindelwald. He just didn’t tell anybody that he’s been wielding The Elder Wand for half a century. It’s in Dumbledore’s tomb with him.”
Bill said, “You four figured all this out? And no one else on earth has done that?”
Hermione blushed and said, “We had help. And we know Riddle’s figured it out too. Mostly.”
Bill pointed out, “And that tomb’s on Hogwarts grounds, and protected by Merlin only knows how many spells… You’re going to need a cursebreaker to get to it.”
Harry looked at Bill and said to the others, “There’s no point in keeping any of this a secret anymore. Riddle’s found out.”
Ginny said, “So we have to move now, and move fast.”
Bill just stared at her. “When did you get so determined?”
Hermione looked at Ginny and got a quick nod back. “Bill, your little sister is the latest Vampire Slayer.”
“That’s a myth.”
Ron laughed, “I knew you’d say that.” He grew serious. “Mum and dad said the same thing. Mum went spare when Ginny went out in the middle of the night and killed three vampires with a stake and came back all beat up.”
Ginny looked at Bill’s disbelieving expression. “Merlin! Come on Bill, just hit me with a spell. A stunner or something.”
Bill whipped out his wand and struck. Ginny didn’t bother to move. The spell just bounced off. She said, “That kind of stung.”
Harry said, “There’s a prophecy. It was made before I was born. It’s why Riddle went after me and my parents in person. It says one of us has to kill the other. That’s what Dumbledore’s been aiming for this whole time. I’ve got to destroy all the Horcruxes, and I’ve got to face Riddle and kill him. And Riddle knows half the prophecy, so he knows I’m the threat he’s got to deal with, so there’s nowhere I can run to get away from him. Either I meet him on my terms, or I meet him on his terms.”
Bill said, “I’ll have Fleur send a Patronus to mum and dad, and I’ll grab my gear. Give me a minute. Do you need to put together anything?”
Hermione said, “We’re ready to go right now.” But Ginny knew that was a small fib.
As soon as Bill ran into the cottage, Hermione said, “All right, Ron and I grab the cup and apparate to the quidditch field. That’s outside the school wards. You two tell Bill where to meet us, and you apparate there. We’ll be far enough from you that Ginny won’t feel the Horcrux. And we’ll go through the wards to Dumbledore’s tomb. Students can pass through the wards on foot. I think we’re still officially students. Ginny certainly is, and Ron should be. I don’t know if Bill will count.”
Ron said, “And it’s not like Snape’s going to bother to really keep Harry out.”
Ginny said, “Everyone like the Carrows at school was afraid Harry was sneaking around under his cloak, so they have to know he can walk right in through the wards if he wants to.”
Harry said, “We’ll have to be fast. He’s been putting together his army for months now, and I don’t know how long it’ll take him to get it all in one spot, but it can’t be all that long, when he’s got an army of Death Eaters who can apparate wherever he wants.”
Hermione grabbed Ron and rushed over to dig up the cup. Then they disapparated with a crack.
Bill came running out with a belt slung about his waist and a small backpack. “Okay. Where to?”
Harry said, “Middle of the Hogwarts quidditch pitch. We don’t know if non-students like you will be able to get through the wards without a pass from the headmaster. Which is Snape.”
Bill groaned, “You guys like to live dangerously, don’t you?”
Ginny said, “We’d just like to live, thank you.”
Bill said, “Right. Let’s see if I can get through the wards. If not, I’ll loan you some of my gear and head back here.”
Ginny didn’t bother to take Harry’s arm. She knew she could apparate to Hogwarts. She’d apparated from there to Hermione’s hideout with no trouble.
She took out her wand and disapparated.
She blinked and saw she was dead in the middle of the quidditch pitch. The place looked gloomy and in need of some painting spells. She figured there couldn’t be house teams, so she didn’t know if the pitch was getting any use at all. Considering that James Potter had been a quidditch star at Hogwarts, Snape was probably getting immense pleasure out of squashing all the dreams the students had of playing quidditch and being popular for it.
Hermione and Ron hurried over to her. Harry and Bill apparated nearby and walked toward her. Hermione stopped about forty feet away, although that was close enough that Ginny could tell Hermione had Hufflepuff’s Cup.
Bill asked, “Why’s Hermione over there?”
Ginny said, “One of the downsides of being the Vampire Slayer. I can sense evil. Being near the Horcruxes makes me sick. We’ve got the last one and Hermione’s carrying it.”
Ron said angrily, “The diary that just about killed Ginny and Harry? Horcrux.”
Bill asked, “So you weren’t the Vampire Slayer then? When did you get the power?”
Ginny frowned, “The night Dumbledore died. While Bellatrix Lestrange was torturing me to death. When the Sunnydale Hellmouth collapsed in California.”
Hermione said, “It saved her life. And she saved Harry right afterward.”
Bill said, “Sounds like you were really lucky.” He noticed that everybody else winced. “What?”
Harry said, “They were incredibly lucky that night, because I made them take some felix felicis first.”
Ginny growled, “And I’m never doing that again. Really great luck? Means someone else is having the worst luck ever. The Vampire Slayer before me? She died just because I needed some luck right then. And from what we’ve found out, she was the greatest Vampire Slayer in years and years.”
Hermione herded them all toward the Hogwarts wards, while she kept at least fifty feet from Ginny all the time. Hermione and Ron walked through the wards without any trouble. Harry walked through easily. Ginny did too.
Bill bounced back like he had just walked into a brick wall.
Ron groaned, “Just when it looked like we were getting a break.”
Bill pulled out his wand and tapped it against the wards. Once. Twice. Thrice. On the third tap, a small red disk appeared. Bill studied the shimmering disk and frowned, “Okay, I can’t get through wards like these. They use a complex combination of wand magic and other types of magic, especially earth magics. Maybe if I had all my stuff here, and a couple weeks to work on the structure of the spellwork…”
Hermione said, “You stay here. I’ll do a sonitransit
from the tomb, so you can give me advice.”
Bill said, “Do you want some of my gear? I have Hermetio’s Cracks, Crevices, and Creepers
and Runestrong’s Arithmantic Countercharming
. And I’ve got an Eye of Ankhamun, and two vials of ground bezoar to handle any poisons or potions.”
Hermione said, “I’ve got both books, and several bezoars. Can I borrow the Eye?”
“Sure.” He tossed it to her through the wards, and she carefully draped it around her neck. She turned and hurried off to Dumbledore’s tomb.