I'll be gone for the next week, but hope to finish this one shortly after I get back.
Chapter 5: Into the Woods
The plan went off without a hitch. Fi said she was going to bed and Hermione used small confusion charms to help the lie work.
The four stood outside ready to leave the hotel. Summer or not, Fi had goosebumps. “So how does this work again?” Fi said nervously.
Harry replied, “Just hold on to my arm.”
She held on tight, closed her eyes, and felt something happen to her body. When she opened her eyes, the sight had changed and the temperature had dropped. She was back in Scotland.
Amazed, Fi said, “Didn’t think I’d see this place again so soon.”
Ron said, “Hopefully you’re not attacked by a werewolf this time.”
“Yea,” Fi said. “No full moon tonight though.”
Ron said, “With our luck, tonight will still count as one.”
Fi said, “I know the feeling.”
“Which way?” Harry asked, looking between Fi and Hermione.
Hermione pointed. “North is that way. Turn right onto the trail.”
Harry took out his wand, “Lumos.”
“Be careful,” said Hermione. “There might be muggles around.”
“I could definitely get used that,” Fi said, admiring the magic. She pulled out her own flashlight.
Fi had a million questions for them. She was with real wizards and a witch and wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass. “So how exactly did you get involved in all this again?”
Ron answered as he glanced from side to side. “Long story. The better question is, when have we not somehow been involved with all of this.”
Hermione gave a fuller answer. “You-Know-Who has a fixation for Harry and Harry’s not exactly one to stay away from trouble.”
As she examined her surrounding for the path, Fi asked, “Why? Why does he care about so much about Harry?”
Hermione gulped, not sure if she should answer.
Harry decided she’d earned this much. “It’s OK. There was a prophecy that said I could challenge him. He tried to kill me when I was a baby, but my mother gave her life to protect me and his magic backfired. He didn’t have a body for the next 13 years.”
Fi thought of their initial conversation. This man was the one who killed Harry’s family. Fi said, “That’s how your parents died?”
There was an awkward silence for the next minute, but Fi had more questions and felt she was running out of time. “So how do you become a witch or wizard? Are you born that way or do you have to learn it? My aunt gave me an old witch’s spell book that’s been in the family. I know it can do at least a little magic.”
Hermione answered, disturbed by the last part, but waiting to answer it. “You are born with magic. You don’t know about it until you get older though. There are signs when you are growing up and the Ministry of Magic records your use of it and then invites you to Hogwarts, a school of witchcraft and wizardry. It’s similar in America with the Administration of Magic.”
Hermione paused for a second. What kind of book did Fi have that would let a muggle use magic? “As for the book, how do you know it does magic?”
“My aunt had it. It was a very old family heirloom. She used it in a Macbeth play and it actually created a dragon.”
That stopped Hermione completely. She turned around and looked at the girl. “That has to be very dark magic, particularly if one can use the book for spells when they aren’t trained. Do you know where it came from?”
“I’m not sure exactly. It came from some of our ancestors from Ireland. My dad found it and gave it to my aunt.”
Hermione said, “You really you shouldn’t have that.”
Fi was firm in her answer, “Not a chance I’m giving it up.”
Hermione didn’t push the issue. Now wasn’t the time. She was curious about one thing though. “Do you know your ancestors surname?”
“Their last name was O’Sianhan.”
“What?” Ron and Fi asked together.
“The O’Sianhans where a powerful group in Ireland for centuries. About a hundred years ago there was a civil war which divided much of the family. It was pretty devastating. Some who survived probably did flee to America.”
“Does that mean…” started Fi, but Hermione cut her off already guessing what Fi was going to ask.
“You’re not a witch. The Administration of Magic would have discovered that, no question. You do have magic in your blood though.”
Fi smiled at that thought.
Twenty minutes into their trek, Fi saw the path. It was dirt and really there was nothing specular about it. Why she felt drawn to it was something she couldn’t explain, but the feeling was just as strong as last time. She wanted to go down the path and it took a lot of effort to stop herself. “I see it.”
The other three turned to her. “Where?” Harry asked.
“Right there,” Fi pointed.
Now the trio saw it. Ron saw the dirt and then looked up at the sky. “Maybe this isn’t a good time. We should come back when it’s lighter.”
“I think you’re right,” Hermione said. Why had they come at night anyway? “We don’t have to go right now.”
Harry shook his head. “No.” Part of his mind said his friend’s logic was right, but he pushed that aside. “We can’t put this off. We know where it’s at now.”
Fi stepped on to the path and took a couple steps in. She slowed to let the others catch up. They weren’t nearly as quick as she was.
The trio slowly walked toward Fi. Harry pushed himself on to the path first and forced several more steps before turning back to look at the others. Later he’d think that if anything decided to attack them then, they’d probably have been done for. Going forward took all their concentration.
Hermione pushed forward next. Her logic tried to tell her it was better to wait, but she kept walking as she argued internally with herself. As she caught up to Harry, she noticed the urge to avoid the path was starting to dissipate.
Ron didn’t want to go on the path, but he remembered the last time he’d gone with his urges against his friends. He’d left them in the woods and hadn’t been able to get back for weeks. That wasn’t going to happen again. With a lot of determination, he walked until he caught up with his friends.
“I think it’s starting to clear,” Hermione said.
Harry agreed. “Yeah.”
“Just keep walking,” said Ron.
After another 20 feet, the feeling was gone entirely and they could walk easily down the path.
Hermione thought things through. “It must have just been at the entrance.”
“Yeah,” said Ron. “Weird.”
Hermione said, “Even for You-Know-Who, that is pretty impressive magic.”
Harry nodded and then looked to the youngest member of the group. They had let her take a big risk coming with them, but they didn’t need her anymore. “You can go back now Fi. It should be safe back there. Head to town and we’ll get you back when we’re done.”
“No way,” said Fi. “You don’t know the effect won’t come back.”
Harry said, “If it does we’ll come back and get you, but it was probably just by the entrance.”
Deciding on another approach, Fi said, “And what if there is something back there waiting on us to come back? I won’t stand a chance by myself.”
Harry almost dismissed the thought, but it was possible. “Fine. We’ll take you back and apperate back here.”
“I don’t know if that would work,” said Hermione. “This path is moving remember. I don’t think it’s that easy to get back on.”
Harry hated being the responsible one here and thought of reminding Fi of her promise. “We didn’t have a choice before, but we do now. Fi, you did your part.”
“I’m not that much younger than you.”
And here he was again with the opposite role he’d had for many years. “No, but you do have a parent and brother who don’t even know you are gone and you don’t have magic to protect you. We might not be able to help you ahead when we get into trouble.”
Ron added, “And trouble’s coming. It always finds us.”
Fi decided to stall. “At least let’s make sure the cave is ahead.”
Harry reluctantly agreed to that much. It wouldn’t be far and the next batch of traps would probably be inside. “Afterward you are heading back though.”
A few minutes later, the path went over a hill and, as they reached the peak, they could see below. Harry saw the cave. “That’s it.”
Ron asked, “The cave from your dreams?”
“Yeah, where he took that kid and tortured him.”
Harry turned to Fi. “Thank you Fi, but it’s time for you to go back. We’ll take you back to edge. Just head back to town from there.”
“Let’s just go a little further,” said Fi trying to walk ahead.
Harry stood in her way. He respected her determination. He’d been in her shoes before and it bothered him to be on the other side now, but he knew it wasn’t right to involve her anymore and this was where he was drawing the line. “You don’t know what kind of things he, what You-Know-Who does. There was practically an army of the dead the last place I went like this.”
“If he set-up…” said Fi. Something caught Fi’s eye and she turned around. “What was that?”
Harry and Hermione turned. “Where’s Ron?” asked Hermione.
Ron was staring at a little ball of light. He wasn’t sure what it was, but for some reason, that didn’t seem to matter. Fi screamed at him to get away, but that didn’t really register.
The light entered Ron’s body, and he fell to the ground.
The three ran towards him with Hermione making it to him first. “Ron!” she shouted. She got to him and knelt down.
Ron sat up and Hermione hugged him tight. For one terrible second, she’d thought he was dead.
“Are you OK?” Hermione asked, barely controlling her emotions.
“Fine,” said Ron, with a voice that sounded odd. “Never better actually.” He ducked out of Hermione’s hug, stood up, and started stretching his arms. He shouted, “I feel great.”
Fi, who had kept a comfortable distance between herself and Ron shouted at Harry and Hermione, “That’s not Ron!”
Hermione looked at her confusingly. “Of course it’s Ron.” There was uncertainty in her voice though.
Ron appeared right beside Fi. Harry and Hermione were shocked to see it done without an apparating spell. “What makes you say that Little Duck?”
Harry stepped back and drew his wand, pointing it at Ron. “What have you done with Ron?”
Fi took a step back from Ron. “He’s a Will-O-the-Wisp, an evil spirit.”
Hermione sounded completely dazed, but there was a small amount of recognition in her voice. “A Will-O-the-Wisp?”
Ron looked at Hermione. “You’ve heard of us?” said the spirit. “Good.”
Hermione shook her head. “They are just legends. They were never real.”
Ron mocked being hurt. He put his hand to heart. “Never real, breaks my heart to hear that I never existed.”
“They’re real,” said Fi. “This one is particularly nasty.”
Ron smiled at her. “Didn’t we have such fun though Little Duck? Don’t make it sound like it was all a great tragedy.”
Fi held up her fingers counting off what they had experienced together. “Let’s see. You possessed Jack and planned on keeping control of him. You threatened to leave us all in the Nexus. You possessed Mom. You left me in a burning building. No it was not fun.”
Hermione seemed to come to all at one time. In an instant she was up and her wand was pointed at Ron. Slowly and with a lot of command she said, “Get out of his body now.”
Amused, the spirit grinned at Hermione. “You do like his body don’t you.” It appeared right beside Hermione, with his arm over her shoulder. “It’s really no different with me here.”
Hermione pushed him away, stepped back, and kept her wand pointed at him.
“You heard her,” said Harry. “We want our friend back.”
Fi smiled for the first time. “I’ll get him out. I invoke your one true…”
“Wait,” said the spirit. “Don’t you at least want to know why I took all the trouble to come over here?”
“Not really,” said Hermione. “Get out of his body now!”
Much to his own shock, Harry took a couple steps forward and put his hand on Hermione’s arm. He hated this spirit for doing this, but he had to be the calm one here. “Let’s listen first,” said Harry. He looked at Ron. “And then you’d better leave immediately.”
“Of course, of course,” said the spirit.
Fi had been burned by him offering help already. “I think I agree with Hermione. Last time we met, he left me and my mom in a burning building.”
“Now to be fair Little Duck, that wasn’t what I was planning. I actually was trying to help a bit.”
Fi just went to the next thing on the list. “And the time before that when you possessed Jack and wanted to take over his body permanently.”
Ron bowed to Fi. “You beat me fair and square. Now let me just ask a question.”
“What?” Fi asked with little patience.
“What are you doing so close to the place we first entered this world?”
Fi said, “What do you mean where you first entered this world?”
Ron leaned against a tree and started scratching his back on it. “Hundreds of years ago, a wizard used to live in that cave. He did all kinds of experiments, opened a door to the Spirit Realm.”
Fi tried to connect the pieces. “And that’s when you came into this world? I thought you could come and go as you pleased?”
“Now, sure, but not then. He opened the door and some of us came through. The first person I ever took control of was his wife.”
“That’s horrible,” Hermione said. She still hadn’t lower her wand at all.
“Come now,” said the spirit. “You aren’t going to fire that at your dear Ron are you? He seems to have quite a few feelings for you. I think I could act on them a little better. Maybe sometime while you are both still alive.”
Hermione’s eyes were ice cold. “Get out!”
“What happened next?” asked Harry. He could barely utter the words, hating to see Ron possessed just as much, but a part of him knew that the more they found out, the more likely they were to live. “What happened to this man?”
“He decided he’d made a mistake creating the portal.”
“I wonder why,” Fi said sarcastically.
The spirit pointed, “See that archway above the cave entrance?”
Fi and Harry nodded.
“It keeps creatures from the Spirit Realm from passing. He knew we had other ways of returning so he built it to make sure he wouldn’t be disturbed by us in the cave. I got him for that though.”
“How?” asked Fi, not sure she wanted to know the answer.
“I went to the Mystery of Magic. He had been writing them, begging for help to close the portal. Fortunately they were half convinced he was mad by then. It didn’t take much more to convince them completely. As his wife, I came in and said he booby trapped the whole area; he had a goal of killing at least 50 wizards.”
“So they didn’t help,” said Fi shaking her head in anger.
“Nope. Instead they came and put a spell on the path to discourage anyone from coming any closer and made it unplotable. It was quite a nice revenge.”
Harry said, “So he never closed it?”
The spirit shrugged. “He must have done something. Otherwise a whole host of creatures would have broken out eventually. That archway is powerful, but wouldn’t stop them forever. I started possessing muggles after that. Much more interesting.”
Fi asked, “When did you figure out how to get back to the Spirit Realm?”
“Back was the easy part. None of us had any trouble returning to the Spirit Realm, but finding a way back into this world again was difficult. Most of my kind left here quickly and didn’t return. I was the last to leave. I really liked this world though. I went and explored, found Texas to my liking. I eventually decided to go home, but was determined to get back to this world. It took me almost 200 years to figure out I could use the nexus as a bridge.”
Fi tried to do the math, but didn’t have enough information. “How long after you got back did you find us?”
Ron laughed, but this time there was a bit of hurt there. “I figured the way back to this world not so long ago. I knew there had been a girl drawing all kinds of attention to herself. She was poking around the edges. I thought what better place to go back than to see her. Of course I didn’t anticipate how clever you were Little Duck.”
Fi added, “And having your power limited.”
Ron’s smiled faded. “No, not quite the triumphant return to this world I was expecting. I could be a real help now though. Get rid of that archway and I’ll come with you.”
Fi said, “And leave as soon we are surrounded no doubt.”
“Imperius” shouted Hermione.
The spell hit Ron, but his smile returned. He shook his finger at Hermione. “Naughty, naughty girl. I’m afraid that an unforgivable curse won’t get me out of this body though.”
“No,” said Fi, “but this will, I invoke your one true name, Bricriu, depart this mortal body.”
The spirit was pulled from Ron’s body, and Ron fell to the ground. The ball of light started flying into the woods, but turned and gave one final message to Fi. “Rest assured, I will be seeing you again Little Duck. If you live through the night that is.” It flew out, leaving the four behind in the dark.
Ron saw the ball of light leave. He was on the ground and wet. “What happened?”
The others explained. Fi said, “Hermione was determined to get it out. She never lowered her wand for even a second.”
Hermione blushed a little. “Yeah,” said Ron a little color there too. “Thanks.”
Changing the subject, Hermione said, “Maybe You-Know-Who didn’t set any traps. The Ministry already had one he wouldn’t expect anyone to get around.”
“Maybe,” said Harry. He had only gone into one of Voldemort’s hiding spots, but that cave had been booby trapped pretty severely even though it was already a hard place to find. He sincerely doubted Voldemort would have this any less guarded.
They started walking again. Fi walked beside Harry. “So have those two ever admitted they like each other?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “They’ve been like this for years.” He forgot about telling her to turn back.
As the four walked toward the cave entrance, Hermione noticed the ground about to change and stopped. “Wait.”
The other three turned to her. “What is it?” Fi asked.
“Look at the ground.”
Ron said, “There are some cracks.”
“They are in some pattern,” said Fi. “I have no idea what it means though.”
Harry looked back to Hermione. “What is it?”
Hermione looked closer. “I remember this from ancient runes. It’s a very powerful guard spell.”
Harry asked, “Did the Ministry put it up?”
“I doubt it,” said Hermione. “This isn’t their style, not even back then.”
Harry thought of the Will-O-the-Whisp’s story. “Especially if they were afraid to approach the cave.”
“What’s it do?” asked Ron.
“It’s a little different than I remember, but I’d guess it tries to scare you out of coming further.”
“What do we do?” Fi asked.
Hermione thought for a second. “We go on. It will try to get us to turn around. Just keep going no matter what.”
They nodded and walked forward together.
Hermione saw her friends disappear and gasped. She took a breath and kept walking. This was going to be some kind of test and she wasn’t about to fail.
She saw an old man standing by the cave entrance. “Hello there Hermione.”
She kept walking, ignoring the man. He kept speaking to her. “I know that you know the secret of this test, and I can’t stop you. I’m not even going to try.”
Hermione ignored him. She didn’t run, but walked quickly. She was halfway there.
“Do you realize that I am appearing to you as Godric Gryffindor?”
Hermione gazed at him for just a second. It was indeed Gryffindor. She looked back away. “You’re not real.”
“You’re quite right. I am created from the spell of the rune and from your own mind. Since you know the trick, you will make it through easy enough. Please let ask you one question first though.”
Hermione’s determination to continue through as quickly as possible battled her interest in an image of such a historic figure. Her determination won and she kept walking.
Gryffindor continued anyway, “You and I are both people of history; we understand it; we study it. With history in mind, ask yourself this. Is it always best for individuals to stay and fight? Against incredible odds, how often does it really work out?”
Hermione understood his point. She was almost to the cave entrance. She finally stopped and turned to him. “No matter the odds, we have to try to do what is right.”
“You’ve been very lucky many times Hermione. If luck is just a coincidence though, you know it won’t continue. Soldiers become heros on the battlefield one day, heroically saving a comrade without ever getting hurt and a causality the next day quite often. This is bigger than you Hermione. Voldemort has the Ministry of Magic under his control and most of Britain. He can kill anyone he wants. Even if you can win, it will only be with a lot of help. If you really understand history, you’ll leave and if you come back, it will only be after you have secured reinforcements from other countries.”
As much as she wanted to, Hermione realized she couldn’t dispute the validity of much of what he said, but she also remembered that Voldemort didn’t know the trio was after Horcruxes. A bigger group wouldn’t be able to hide that as easily and getting any kind of army was unlikely. Hermione stared at it for a moment. “You may be right, but it doesn’t matter.” She walked into the cave entrance. Gryffindor vanished.
Harry saw his companions disappear. “Hermione, Ron, Fi…” he said. Then he heard a scream, a scream from a very familiar voice.
All thought disappeared from his head and Harry ran to the source of the scream, to a figure lying on the ground.
She was face down, but the red hair was as vibrant as ever. It was Ginny.
Harry turned her over. There were cuts everywhere. Blood covered her robes. A huge scar went right across her face. “Ginny…Ginny…” he said panicking. Tears and every fear in the world came to him.
Her eyes opened.
Harry said, “You’re alive.” Deep down he started to realize this wasn’t real, but he couldn’t react to that yet.
“I won’t be,” Ginny said faintly.
“But,” said Harry extremely confused in spite of Hermione’s warning.
“I’m not real like this Harry,” said Ginny, “and you know that, but this will be the future.”
Harry remembered this wasn’t real, remembered what Hermione had said fully now. Still he had trouble letting go of her.
“What do you mean, ‘this will be the future’?”
She looked at him with a face that said boys are stupid. He’d seen that one more than once and even over the disfiguration he could see it now. It was so real. She answered, “Do you really think our relationship will stay a secret forever? Harry we were at Hogwarts together, rumors spread as soon as we were seeing each other. Voldemort will find out and…”
She slowed and Harry looked at her. “I won’t let him,” said Harry, but he lacked conviction.
“You can’t stop him. He’ll use me to get to you or just torture me in your place. There’s only one way to stop it.”
“How?” asked Harry. “Destroy him?”
“That will take too long,” said Ginny. “He’s getting tired of waiting for you. He’ll dive more into your personal life sooner rather than later.”
She looked him in his eyes. “Get us out of here.”
“You’d never go,” said Harry.
“I would with you. So would Mum, so would everyone else. Harry we can’t beat him and even if we can, it’s not worth it. If you say leave Britain, most will follow you. We will, with a little convincing. Mum is already scared to death. If you say we need to leave now, we will.”
Harry closed his eyes. This was a trap and he knew it, but it was a really good one. He put Ginny down and walked forward without looking back. It was harder than on the beginning of the path, much harder.
She said, “I love you.”
Harry didn’t respond, but his heart ached and guilt overran him. He walked through the gate and bumped into someone. Ginny was gone.
Fi saw her wizarding companions disappear. “Guys…”
Were they really gone or was the rune just playing tricks on her? She took a step backward. She could see all three of them on the path walking. Harry started running to the side. Hermione walked quickly across. Ron took a few steps forward. Fi held her breath and took a step forward again.
This time she noticed, someone standing on the other side and her heart skipped a beat. It couldn’t be.
“Hello Fi,” said the man with a voice filled with so much love.
“Yea Fi. It’s me.”
Fi shook her head. “You’re not real.” She started walking through the area as quickly as she could.
“Fiona, please,” said the figure. “It is me. You’ve already seen how things in these parts affect you differently than the others. This spell is no different.”
Fi turned to him. “What do you mean?”
“This area is still on the path and the spells put on it affect you differently.”
“Why are you drawn to everything you have encountered? Why was I?”
“Are we vedins?”
“That’s as good a word for it as any I guess. Come here.” He held out his arms.
Fi couldn’t resist and walked to him, even as part of her mind continued to scream that this wasn’t real. He hugged her. It felt so good. She wanted to know him for so long.
“Daddy, how could you get here?”
“It took a lot of work. I had to warn you though.”
Fi let go a little and looked up. “Warn me of what?”
“Fiona, you can’t go any further.”
The clouds in her mind started to part and Fi cried. This wasn’t real and she knew it for sure now. This wasn’t her dad. She took a step back and started walking toward the cave, trying not to look at the figure as she headed toward the cave entrance.
“Fi, please listen. You don’t understand. You know I’ve been protecting you right?”
Fi didn’t answer. He continued. “I can’t in there. The magic blocks me. Fi, I don’t want your mother to lose you. She couldn’t take it after everything else.”
Fi kept walking.
“Fi, I died because I did something like this. It left your mother alone and you without any memories of me. Please don’t do this to her and Jack.”
Fi wasn’t sure what to believe anymore, not entirely. She stopped just before the cave entrance.
“What’s ahead?” asked Fi.
“I don’t know,” said her dad. “I can’t see it.”
“I’m sorry,” said Fi. She took a step forward and entered the cave, bumping into someone.
It was Harry. He didn’t seem to be in any better shape than she was.
Fi lost track of everything as she walked forward. What was going on?
Hermione looked at the two entering the cave. “Harry, Fi…are you OK?”
Harry nodded very slowly without much thought. Fi didn’t say anything. Hermione asked her, “What did you see?”
“My dad,” said Fi, “and I’m not sure he wasn’t real.”
Harry said, “I’m not sure what I saw isn’t going to be real either.”
Ron looked around and saw the others had disappeared. “Just part of the trick,” Ron said to himself, trying to remember Hermione’s words. He walked forward, but saw a person standing in front of him. It was Voldemort.
Ron took his wand out, but was so shocked he dropped it. He ducked down for it, raised it quickly, his hand shaking. Maybe Hermione had read this wrong; maybe this sent a message to You-Know-Who to come.
The figure didn’t threaten him or seem to respond to the wand though. All he did was smile. “Hello Ron Weasley.”
Ron gulped. “You know who I am?”
“Are you real?” asked Ron.
“Yes, but I am not the real Dark Lord.”
Ron said, “So he doesn’t know we are here?”
Voldemort shook his head. “No, but it doesn’t matter. He will find out about this quest soon enough. You don’t think you could destroy 7 Horcruxes without him knowing do you?”
Ron responded, “We’ve already destroyed three.”
“Yes,” said Voldemort dismissingly, “a fact that will make him quite mad.” Voldemort’s smile returned. “Let’s think about those three though you have found shall we. One was given to your sister. One was found and destroyed by Dumbledore. The last’s location was penetrated mainly by Dumbledore. Even if you find this one, you still have 3 more to get to and must do so on your own without dying. What do you think Hermione would tell you the odds of that are?”
“We’ll beat you,” said Ron feeling a little more confident with this not being the real You-Know-Who. He could barely look at the man still though.
Voldemort took a few steps away from the cave and gestured for Ron to go on. “Go ahead.”
Ron looked at him nervously. “Are you going to try to curse me?”
“I can’t,” said Voldemort. “I’m not real. The magic here is not strong enough for that.”
“Then why just let me go?” Ron asked.
Voldemort smiled. “Because you are more an ally to me than to them.”
Ron shook his head. “That’s bonkers.”
Voldemort’s smile grew larger. “Is it?”
Ron didn’t answer. Voldemort continued. “You don’t have Hermione’s intelligence, not by a long shot. You don’t have Harry’s courage, determination, or so called destiny. What do you contribute?”
Ron was at a loss, his fears overwhelming his ability to see what he had done.
“You left Hermione and Harry once. They weren’t the same afterward. You left in anger, hurt them, and let Harry’s wand be broken too.”
“But….” Ron said.
“You came back and started everything all over again. You still don’t contribute, but you take food, you take attention, and you bring nothing.”
Ron took a deep breath. He had to push on. Get past this thing.
Voldemort didn’t say a word, not until Ron reached the exit. “You could write them a note if you wanted. Push it through and then leave. Apologize for being so useless and tell them they are safer without you.”
Ron swallowed and rushed through the cave entrance.
It took the group a few minutes to compose themselves. Fi particularly was harder to get back to normal.
“You’re right,” said Fi, still with a few doubts. “It had to be one of his illusions. That wasn’t my dad.”
Harry thought about taking her back again, but this far in he wouldn't let her go back on her own and he didn't like the idea of going through that last trap more than necessary.
Hermione finally said, “We should get going.”
“Yeah,” said Ron. “I can't wait to see what's next.”
Fi tried to calm herself and focused back on the mission. “What is it we are looking for exactly again?”
“Not sure exactly,” said Harry. “It should be old though.”
“Why though?” Fi asked. “Why do you want it? I mean I know you need it to defeat You-Know-Who, but is it a weapon?”
“Not exactly,” said Hermione.
Harry said, “It's better if you don't know exactly.”
Fi had enough of that. She stopped and anger overcame her worries. “You wouldn't be here if it wasn't for me! Ron would still be possessed if I wasn't here!” She slowed down. “I have a right to know what is going on.”
Ron and Hermione looked to Harry deferring to him. Dumbledore had entrusted the secret to him and it was his to share or keep. Harry couldn't break his word to Dumbledore to tell Fi any more than he had avoided telling Ginny, Mrs. Weasley, or Remus. “I can't tell you,” said Harry, holding up a hand to stop her responding. “I promised I wouldn't and you already know more than anyone else in the world besides us. Let's just leave it at this, You-Know-Who can't be defeated without us destroying what is in this cave.”
Fi was pushed between emotions for a minute, but decided to accept the explanation. She wished to know more, but this really wasn't her quest and she had pushed at other points.
The group started looking around the cave.
The group started looking around the cave.