21 Days in the Forest of Dean - Chapter 4 - Dolphinsarcasm - Harry Potter (2024)

Chapter Text

Harri wakes slowly. The warmth is so very seductive, and she wants to stay in the twilight of half-sleep. It’s restful and so gentle in a way that the waking world isn’t. Perhaps all of this has been some nightmare and Harri will wake up in her four poster bed in the Gryffindor tower, ready for the arrival of the other schools for the Triwizard Tournament. Because that is where this nightmare of a world must have started, three long years ago. But it feels as if three centuries have rushed past in less than three seconds.

“Herm?” Harri’s voice is hoarse from sleep.

There is no answer from the bottom bunk. Hermione must already be out and about. Perhaps there was another muggle grocery store to visit, or perhaps she had risen early to continue the research. Fiendfyre seemed to be a dead end. But surely there must be other ways to destroy a horcrux.

There is a gentle feeling of warmth at Harri’s thought of the horcrux, and she pulls the locket out of her shirt. It’s warm to the touch, more so than the simple heat of Harri’s body would be.

“Good morning.” It feels silly, talking to the horcrux. “Thank you for being warm, but I’m afraid we’re still going to have to destroy you. What with being part of him and all.” Hermione would be rolling her eyes at Harri talking to the horcrux, and would probably launch into a lecture on why Harri shouldn’t be talking to the horcrux.

The gemstones seem to twinkle, but Harri tucks the locket back under her shirt a moment later. The tent - even magical as it is - is chilly, and the warmth is ever so pleasant.

Hermione is already deep into three different books, two suspended near her head while she examines a page of the third. She doesn’t acknowledge Harri’s presence, totally engrossed in her work. Harri strains to get a glimpse of the book. Runes, by the look of it. IT would explain the multiple books. Hermione always said you needed at least two dictionaries on hand to deal with actual runes instead of the simple examples from class.

The pile of books doesn’t seem terribly enticing. Only half the spines are legible, and it looks like a third of the books are in runes and another third are in latin.

Harri picks up the Fiendfyre book almost without realizing it. Had she finished it? She thought she had, but perhaps there was still more to be learned. The library slip is still in its little pocket and Harri eyes it once more.

What had Riddle wanted with the book? He seemed to much prefer the killing curse. Perhaps he had wanted to know the ways his horcruxes might be destroyed. And what of Hohenberg? It was almost like the pair of them had traded the book back and forth several times. Had they known each other? They had to have known each other. A classmate? Someone that Riddle had to do a Defense Against the Dark Arts project with?

No, some part of her thinks. Perhaps someone from a different group doing a similar project. Though why would the sharing of the book feel so formal otherwise. Perhaps similar independent projects. Or maybe Hohenberg had been an early follower of Riddle’s. One he trusted to do research for him. Then again, Riddle didn’t seem to trust his followers now, and the memories of his younger self don’t give Harri any sort of thought that he did then.

She started thumbing through the pages of the book once more, not really reading the words this time. More looking at the comments. Riddle hadn’t made any as far as she could tell, but Hohenberg's handwriting was everywhere.

Perhaps Hohenberg had been an older student, then. Not a follower, but someone like Slughorn, in a way. Someone Riddle had wanted knowledge from. Or perhaps not. Harri’s train of thought derails quickly. Riddle had been the top student in his year by a fair margin. By the time he was thinking about horcruxes the chances of him needing anything from a student still at Hogwarts were none.

Ron stumbles into the room, still yawning, and Harri mutters a subtle tempus. Half past ten. Late even for him. She feels less bad for sleeping as long as she had. Perhaps it was for the best, in a way. Hermione tended to do her best work while uninterrupted, and this way their friend had the morning to herself to deal with runes.

Part of Harri wishes she had taken runes, but there is no way it would have gone well. She hadn’t been a very good student in third year or even fourth year, and runes had been the one class that really pushed even Hermione. The memory comes to mind almost unbidden - the small group of runes students all looking distressed to various degrees as they trudged into the great hall after an exam. Harri had thought that Hermione was being overly paranoid at the time and reveled in the rather worried expression on Malfoy’s face - the runes class had been down to only a dozen students, mostly Ravenclaws plus a handful of Slytherins and Hermione at that point.

“Morning, Ron.” Harri hadn’t eaten herself so she’s not sure what Hermione intended to be their breakfast.

“Harri. Herm.” Ron yawns again and finds the teapot. “More research?” He seems slightly in disbelief. Harri almost rolls her eyes.

“We don’t have anything concrete yet.” Harri glances at Hermione, half hoping her friend will chime in and say that she has found an archaic rune ritual that will destroy a horcrux provided they can procure a dozen somewhat rare ingredients.

But it is not to be. Hermione doesn’t so much as look up and Harri gives Ron a shrug before going back to Hohenberg's notes. Who had this ‘A. Hohenberg’ been? Had Dumbledore tried to get memories from them as well? Then again perhaps the book was a great coincidence. Perhaps Hohenberg and Riddle hadn’t even known each other.

“I’m sorry.” Ron’s words seem to come out of nowhere, and Harri looks up again. She must look puzzled because Ron mutters something and looks at Hermione. “I’m sorry. I was a git yesterday.”

“I heard you.” Hermione’s voice is cool and her nose is still in the runes book.

“It was probably the blasted locket.” Ron and Hermione glance at Harri, and Harri is suddenly acutely aware of the soft warmth of the locket against her chest, hidden beneath her shirt.

“No nightmares. Nothing.” To some degree it is a relief - even now Harri half expects a nightmare every time she goes to sleep. “It’s a bit warm, but even that might just be that it holds body heat well.”

“Hmmmm.” Hermione looks up, eyeing Harri. “It was freezing for me. Interesting that it is different for you.”

Harri finds herself trying to come up with an explanation. Something that will make it seem reasonable. “It could just be the tea.” Harri doesn’t believe her own words, and Hermione seems more than a little skeptical.

“I suppose. Didn’t you finish that book already?”

“I thought I did, but I wanted to read Hohenberg's notes again.”

“Anything new?” Hermione’s eyebrow is raised.

Harri finds herself shaking her head. “Not yet.” Technically not a lie. She’s not quite done going through Hohenberg's notes yet. “How are the runes? Anything there?” Hermione knows Harri well enough to see the deflection for what it is, but she answers anyway.

“Not yet. A few ideas, but nothing that has been tested against a horcrux. And I don’t want to send us after a red herring that would compromise anything without some sort of confirmation that the plan at least should work.”

“Perhaps we’d have an easier time of it if more dark wizards made horcruxes over the ages. The topic would at least have been more studied.”

Hermione nods and turns back to her books.

Ron had picked up a book, but he wasn’t really researching, more getting disturbed by the pictures if his facial expressions were anything to go by. The spine of the book was mostly illegible, and Harri wondered if the book was one on anatomy. She rolled her eyes and turned back to the Fiendfyre book and Hohenberg's comments. Some were just little tidbits calling the author an idiot or a madman, while others were tantalizing. Had Hohenberg found a way to control Fiendfyre? Probably not. Such a discovery would surely have been noted in Defense Against the Dark Arts. A darker thought comes to Harri’s mind. Perhaps they thought they had found a way, but it hadn’t worked. That would explain why there was no memory from him - or her - in Dumbledore’s collection.

“I’m going to stretch my legs.” Harri is feeling a bit stiff. Ron grunts in answer while Hermione is still simply buried in her books, and Harri slips on some more warm clothes and quickly exits the tent.

It’s cold outside, more so than she had though. Hadn’t they gone south in the forest, closer to the coast? It should be warmer.

The locket is almost delightful at Harri’s breast, warm and comforting in a way it probably shouldn’t be. Harri hums a phrase that quickly turns into a melody. It feels familiar. She should know this song. She does know this song that is stuck in her head.

Harri pauses, racking her brain. Hermione is fairly knowledgeable about classical music, but Harri isn’t. So surely there must be lyrics of some sort. Had it been one of Ginny’s songs that Ron complained about? Perhaps.

The melody is still stuck in Harri’s head when she returns to the tent, careful not to hum inside. Hermione prefers silence for her research, and as much as Harri is trying to help if there is an answer to all of this, it will be Hermione that finds it, not Harri. And certainly not Ron.

Why had they brought him? There had been a reason, but he seems like a deadweight. He’s not as skilled a duelist as either Harri or Hermione if it comes to that and unlike Harri he can’t even pretend that he’s there for research. Is he just there to eat? To provide moral support - not that either Harri herself or Hermione need that and with how morose Ron had been the past few days he certainly hasn’t been supporting either of them to any sort of degree.

And to top it all off, he’d begun their journey by splinching himself and exhausted Hermione to a dangerous extent that first day. It would probably be safer for all of them if Ron left.

Harri eyes him carefully. If the locket would do anything to any of them, it would probably be to Ron. His sister had been all too susceptible to the diary. Why would Ron be any less susceptible to the locket? Then again, he was a blockhead. Perhaps he’d drive the piece of riddle in the locket insane with that.

Dinner is a short affair - the food is hot but bland. Ron complains. Harri doesn’t. His mother and the Hogwarts elves have spoiled him. He wouldn’t last one week with the Dursleys and no magic.

Harri heads off to bed early. Hohenburg’s thoughts hadn’t proved fruitful in the end, and she couldn't look at Ron’s face anymore. She needed a break, and perhaps this way Hermione could get more done. Could actually find them a solution.

It isn’t easy to fall asleep early - Harri’s mind is still overactive and racing too and fro, and she finds herself humming once more. Where was the blasted tune from? She had heard it before. Of that, Harri was completely certain. But where?

The locket seems to pulse with warmth and Harri lets her fingers drift down to touch the place where it rests on her breast.

Sleep does find her before Hermione comes to head to bed, the melody a lullaby in her ears and in her mind.

21 Days in the Forest of Dean - Chapter 4 - Dolphinsarcasm - Harry Potter (2024)
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