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"It's not here. . . It's not here."

Peter Pettigrew muttered that same phrase over and over as he sat bound to a plain wooden chair, secured upright by Professor McGonagall's invisible rope. Harry, Hermione and Ron stood near the door, while Ginny was remaining outside the Great Hall to pass on information and instructions to the faculty. Harry and Hermione were still reeling from Malfoy's murder of Neville, a painful shock that left them feeling a loss neither had anticipated. Ron had his own shock - killing another person, even one so deserving as Draco Malfoy.

In the middle of the bare room, her body just a few feet in front of his, Professor McGonagall faced Pettigrew, tall and taut with her arms raised slightly from her body. Her wand was gripped tightly within the straining fingers of her right hand, silently showing the anger the Headmistress felt. This was fury at a level she had never quite experienced before, pain coming to the surface: the murder of Harry's parents, the Longbottoms trapped within their own insanity at St. Mungo's Hospital, the crippling loss of Professor Dumbledore, the tragic murder of innocent young Neville Longbottom.

As cloudy as his mind was and as sad as his heart felt, Harry noticed something about the room. He wasn't quite sure what it was, but there was familiarity to it.

Professor McGonagall's eyes narrowed with ferocity as she raised her wand, a jet of red light striking Pettigrew squarely in his chest. Harry, Hermione and Ron all jumped, surprised at Professor McGonagall's action and terrified by Pettigrew's screams of anguish reverberating throughout the stone room. Following the echoes around the room, it suddenly dawned on Harry what this room reminded him of: a miniature version of Courtroom Ten at the Ministry, one that Harry had visited both in person when he was put on trial for using magic in front of Dudley and through the memories of Professor Dumbledore contained in the Pensieve. Whether intentional or completely accidental, it was a stroke of genius to bring Pettigrew here just on the chance he was aware of the courtroom and its history.

Reaching inside her robe, Professor McGonagall withdrew the ruby-handled dagger found with Pettigrew earlier. She raised it and, speaking in a sharp, understated voice, said, "Explain yourself. Now." Pettigrew sobbed again, this time more reflective of despair than physical pain.

His words were jumbled, and Harry had to listen hard as Pettigrew blubbered, "Oh, please, do not hurt me any more. The Dark Lord has done enough to me, I promise you. I have suffered greatly from his cruelty. Just look at was my hand." Professor McGonagall raised her wand again. "Nooooooo," Pettigrew cried, and he continued speaking as fast as he could spit the words out of his mealy little mouth.

"The Dark Lord sent us here to recover Gryffindor's Dagger. Seventeen years ago the Dark Lord had it with him at Godric's Hollow; it was intended to be one of his Horcruxes. I made sure that it was found after his demise and hidden for safe keeping. Ginny Weasley brought it back into the Chamber of Secrets years ago. With the recent loss of a Horcrux, the Dark Lord thought it best to keep it under his own protection. That is why we came."

A look of wretchedness swept across his face at the thought of the dagger. He sputtered, "But it's not in there. The moment I had the Dagger in my hand and followed the Dark Lord's instructions, I knew that the Horcrux was not in there like it was supposed to be. Oh, he is going to be so angry. But where could it be? He must not even know the answer to that now. But there is more, and I will tell you, kind Professor McGonagall. One of the remaining Horcruxes is in the Hufflepuff Cup. And it is well-hidden in Bulgaria. Where, I do not know, but perhaps that will help you." He looked up at her, a pitiful expression on his face.

Pettigrew remembered Lindgren and the capricious way that the Dark Lord had tossed away his life. He did not want to be next, so he looked at Harry and spoke once again, "Kind Harry, you spared my life once, and I am in debt to you for that. There is one more thing I can tell you. It is all I know. There is a lady, very powerful, a Death Eater who has no rival but one. Around her neck is a necklace, something so important that the Dark Lord trusts only her with it. You must watch out for her." He looked up with what could only be assumed as his pathetic version of hope. "Will you protect me? I have helped you; now I need you to help me."

Professor McGonagall stepped forward and began talking in stern hushed tones to Pettigrew. Hermione and Ron stepped forward to listen, but Harry just stood there. In his mind he was recounting each and every word Pettigrew had spoken tonight. Over and over Harry mixed and matched each bit of information until it began to resemble images fitting together like pieces of a puzzle.

Slowly, the murkiness in his mind began to clear as the pieces came together. Harry's mind suddenly was emblazoned with the light that only accompanies a stunning revelation. He stood there, the knowledge of this revelation spreading through his body, both tingling and numbing at the same time. Nothing - not learning about the death of his parents, to discovering he was a wizard, to facing Voldemort face-to-face, quite matched this moment.

And no one, absolutely no one, could yet know what he now knew.


Death and betrayal hung over Hogwarts like an oppressive, fear-inducing fog of night. A fog so thick, so still, that to chance into it would disorient the wanderer, causing feelings of hopelessness and despair. Professor Dumbledore's death was one thing - the murder of innocents like Cedric and Neville quite another. Each death struck the heart and mind in its own way, but all were too close to home and, therefore, too painful, too destabilizing. Every person's psyche had been sent reeling into the mist, and no one knew where they would come out.

Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all sat in Professor McGonagall's office, the sullen looks on their faces clearly indicating that they felt that same gloom. The Headmistress sensed the anger, despondency and mistrust that pervaded the school, and she could not blame one single person, be it student of faculty member, for having those feelings. All she could do was lead the way and hope that many, if not all, would follow.

Her first act was to expel Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle from Hogwarts, then turn them over to the Ministry for their crimes associated with the invasion of the school. Immediately afterwards, she closed Slytherin House, not only to mollify most of the students and parents, but to protect those members of the house, blameless or not.

Harry could not stand the silence in the room, so he began to force himself forward. . . not physically, but mentally and emotionally. All he could think of to do was talk, so Harry simply began to recount all that had just occurred, from the attack on the school to the interrogation of Pettigrew. Ginny paid close attention as Harry kept going over the details again and again. Hermione sat there quietly and listened, taking in each fact and integrating it with all the research she had been doing at Harry's request.

During Harry's third iteration of recent events, Hermione lifted her head, eyes open wide, and placed her hands on the long, leather-bound arms of her chair. No one in the room noticed the sparkle in those eyes, nor did it even register to anyone that she had gotten up and moved across the room. It was Ginny who finally noticed Hermione opening the cabinet that contained the Pensieve, and she shrieked when Hermione plunged her head down into the shimmering silver liquid. Professor McGonagall, Ron, and Ginny all leaped to their feet as they watched Hermione's shoes slip down into the Pensieve. Harry could only sit there and smile knowingly at 'Hermione being Hermione'.

Hermione was astonished at this world of memories. As she drifted around in the ethereal nebula of silver, hundreds of people in dozens of images were floating by. Hermione recognized some people, but the vast majority of the faces were completely unknown to her. It took very little time for her to realize that all these memories were associated with Professor Dumbledore - and that was not why she was here. Unbeknownst to Hermione, no one had ever attempted what she was now trying - to capture and coalesce the memories of several people whose only relationship to one another may have been scattered strings of shared memories. In another time, another place, the sheer uniqueness of her idea would have given a sense of pride to Hermione; but her concern now was to make her plan work - only she felt totally lost: a stranger in a vast crowd, in which not one single person was capable of either seeing her or helping her.

Hermione thought hard - Voldemort, Ginny, Harry. How could she possibly capture all those disparate memories, let alone tie them together into something useful? "Think," she told herself. "How can I get capture these memories and string them together? Come on, think. How can I do it?" Hermione floated around some more, making a concerted effort not to land in any specific memory. She didn't want to be trapped, particularly in one of Professor Dumbledore's memories, and that was most likely of all.

Then it dawned on Hermione: "These are Professor Dumbledore's memories, linked together by their one common thread - himself," she said to herself. "These other memories - Harry's, Ginny's and Voldemort's, have no common thread, no way of knowing that each of the other memories are even here - assuming they could know that at all. But I know they're here. I'm the common thread!" Hermione focused all her mental might on Harry, Ginny, Voldemort, and everything that she knew about their connections and shared paths.

With that, Hermione placed her wand next to her temple, withdrew silver threads of her personal memories, and exuberantly threw them out into the strange world around her. With her wand, she spun the threads around like lassos, spinning and snapping at wisps of memories that were somehow associated with her own. That was the plan - and it was working!

Hermione looked up as her memory threads slowly did their work. Memory after memory, fact after fact - all these gathered around her: ruby-handled blade, horcruxes, Cup , Agamemnon, Troy, mountains, Bulgaria, murder, Ginny, Death Eaters, Harry, monastery, necklace, Electra, Pettigrew and so many more. Each had its own importance, each had its own role in the past and in the future. All around her, the subconscious memories of Harry, Ginny and Voldemort himself were coalescing into images. As each one became clear, it took its place in a glittering sphere surrounding Hermione.

And with that, there was a dawning awareness inside of Hermione of everything that had happened - and much of what very well might be happening. Suspended there amongst all these memories, Hermione giggled hysterically like a little girl. She couldn't help it. No birthday party had ever equaled the thrill and excitement of this moment. There they were: the memories of Voldemort pieced together all about her. As she took in what each memory told her, the excitement turned to wonder. The wonder soon turned to resolve. Some questions remained unanswered, but she knew what was to be done next.

Hermione looked upwards and focused on the thought of the Headmistress' office. Slowly,ihe floated upwards through the memories, dispersing them back in the silvery world of the Pensieve. Harry, Ron, Professor McGonagall and Ginny stood breathless and overwrought, subconsciously pushing closer and closer to the Pensieve as they watched Hermione emerge and get to her feet.

Hermione's face reflected the mixed emotions she was feeling. Elation was mingled with fear, knowledge fought with the unknown and strength was battling inexperience. Looking from face to face, Hermione wasted no time in speaking. "There was one Horcrux for each founding member of Hogwarts, and it seems that there were two for Slytherin. The ring and locket, as well as the diary, are now destroyed. The Hufflepuff Cup is one, and the Gryffindor Blade was intended to be one. That remains an unsolved mystery. However, I know where the Cup is hidden. Follow me. We must get to the Owlery as soon as possible. I will explain on the way."

Ginny, Ron and Harry turned to follow Hermione as she strode through the door. As soon as Harry had taken his first step, Professor McGonagall called to him, "Harry, a moment of your time, please." Harry turned and looked at her, surprised but open to anything she would say to him. The Headmistress continued, "I have a final message for you from Professor Dumbledore." Harry could not prevent himself from glancing up at the portrait on the wall. She continued, "I had planned on giving this to you at a later time, but circumstances seem to dictate otherwise. I cannot predict when I will see you again. Very simply, the message states that you must go see your Aunt again. She has something of importance to give you."

Harry looked at her, his raised eyebrows showing his surprise. Harry did not know what he was expecting to hear, but it certainly wasn't that. He thanked Professor McGonagall and, before he turned to race after his companions, he gave her a hug. Partly in thanks, Harry found that he needed that little bit of emotional grounding. Harry gave the Headmistress one more small, knowing smile, and then left.


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