|SIYE Time:1:12 on 14th December 2017|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: When the Weasley wedding is attacked, Harry grabs the first hand that comes to mind - Ginny's. They find Voldemort has hidden his Horcruxes in plain sight out of some of Muggle history's most important artifacts. Now the pair go across the continent, risking capture by both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, to end the war.
Hitcount: Story Total: 24505; Chapter Total: 1094
Awards: View Trophy Room
This is one of those "stranger than fiction" stories. There actually was a fire in the Turin Cathedral in April 1997 (a few months before the story is set). There has never been an official cause, which leads most people to think it was arson. Firefighters used their axes to break the Shroud out of its protective case and moved it to a secure location, where it stayed for about a year until the Cathedral was fixed. I couldn't pass up using that cool story rather than the typical "Harry and Ginny have to break into a museum and steal something". Enjoy!
"I still don't understand how you can be so calm about this," Ginny told Harry as she watched him spread chocolate on his fourth pastry. They were sitting outside at a cafe near the hotel on a resplendent morning. From time to time they would glance at the dome of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which was covered in scaffolding and mesh tarp.
He gave her a small, reassuring smile. "Gin, this was never going to be easy. In six years, everything has been a challenge - even getting together with you. No one told us where the Sorcerer's Stone was. Or the Chamber of Secrets. Or...”
"I get the picture." It was the same diatribe Harry went on last night when they made it up to their room. Ginny's mind was racing, wondering where the Shroud was and who had it. Harry just flicked on the TV and gathered her under his arm in bed. He even laughed at the American show they were watching, about six friends who evidently had nothing better to do than hang out at a coffee shop, even though it was dubbed over in Italian. Ginny didn’t understand it, but she was brooding too much to try. "But what if Voldemort has it?"
"How do you know?"
"I reckon I would feel it. But also, it's not his style. If he wanted the Shroud back, he would've just Apparated into the church and taken it. Maybe killed a guard or two. If he wanted to destroy the church, he would have.” Ginny took another glance to confirm that it was, indeed, still standing.
"It was as Franco said," Harry went on, referring to the manager of the hotel who told them about the fire. "A Muggle set the fire. The firemen rescued the Shroud and they've put it into hiding to keep it safe."
"I still can’t believe they have a job where all you do is put out fires," Ginny remarked. Harry chuckled.
"So all we have to do is figure out who knows where the Shroud is and follow them to it. It's really a lot easier than Hermione and I using the Time-Turner to rescue-"
"Yes, I know!" Ginny snapped, then smirked apologetically.
Harry scraped his wrought-iron chair against the concrete to slide it next to Ginny's. "Would it make you feel better if we went and checked out the church? Look for signs of magic?" Ginny nodded.
L ate that night, after a day of wandering the neighborhood between the church and the hotel, television (Ginny turned out to be adept at game shows, even in Italian), napping, and other pursuits that didn’t require them to leave the bed, the pair dressed darkly and walked the ten blocks to the cathedral. After a theatrical but authentic display of public affection, Ginny dragged Harry by the hand down a dark back street that happened to contain the church's only unguarded gate.
"Alohamora," Harry muttered and the padlock slid open. He was able to levitate it and the chain away without producing a sound and used a Freezing spell to create a thin sheet of ice on the ground for the gate to slide open. After a scramble and another Alohamora, they found themselves in what appeared to be a large rectangular office. Papers were organized into small boxes on the heavy-looking desk, which also had a lamp and a simple telephone. There were no pictures. The only personal item was a jewel-encrusted letter opener. Past the two leather chairs arranged to face the desk at opposite angles was a couch and two more chairs facing each other in front of a stone fireplace. Above the mantelpiece was a picture of an older, bald man wearing white robes and a simple beanie hat. Even in that hat, the look on his face made everyone aware he was important.
"Lumos," Ginny whispered, then cut across to the desk. She began shuffling through the papers and opening drawers.
"What are you doing?" Harry whispered.
"This is a nice office - like that of a man who would know where the Shroud is being kept. If Voldemort doesn't have it, of course." The last drawer on the right side was locked, but not for long. After flicking through some files, she brought a piece of paper up to her face, then folded it and slid it into her pocket.
"The bloke's name is Bishop. I've got his address," Ginny reported in a low voice as she pushed past Harry to the doorway.
"Homenum Revelio,” Harry murmured. Nothing happened. "We're the only ones here." Ginny cast out a relieved breath and nodded.
As they made their way past Bishop's secretary's desk and down a narrow hallway, the walls started to blacken with soot. The long rug that ran down the floor became discolored with water damage. You could still smell acrid smoke, even months later.
"We're on the right track,” Ginny mused.
At the end of the hallway was a massive open space under the soaring dome that could be seen for miles. Stone pillars and arches were obscured by scaffolding, drop cloths, and machinery. Wooden benches, scorched from the fire, were piled toward the main entryway.
“It reminds me of the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Sort of,” Harry remarked.
"Yeah, but that's the actual sky, not a spell," Ginny said as she pointed upward. She was right; the fire had burned a sizable hole in the dome. "So what do we do now?"
But when Ginny turned to Harry, he was gone, walking slowly toward an alcove at the end of the room. When the wind fluttered a sheet in front of the high wall, she could see a painting that looked like what could be seen on the Shroud. It was Jesus, his head ringed by a golden crown. Ginny jogged to catch up.
"This is where it was," Harry reported without prompting. "My scar started burning. Not bad, but it got worse the closer I got. It's... a different feeling than I've had before. Except once. In the Chamber of Secrets."
Ginny turned him around. "At which part? Talking to Tom? The basilisk? Me?"
Harry just shook his head. "Holding the diary."
Ginny's eyes widened. "You can sense the Horcruxes?"
“Maybe. It makes sense. They are a piece of Voldemort and we are connected somehow.”
“And the Shroud hasn’t been here for months. The feeling would have to be stronger if you were actually near it. Do you know what this means?”
Harry narrowed his eyes at her. “We’re not going to walk up and down every street in Turin until my scar hurts.”
Ginny produced a fake pout. “Fine, but it was a good idea. At least when we are close, we’ll know it. It will save a bunch of time.”
“If Voldemort didn’t take it back.”
Ginny’s shoulders slumped. “Right. Any thoughts about how to figure that out?”
“Yes, actually,” Harry responded with a proud smile.
He led Ginny around the side of the main hall, following the trail as the burned wood and scorched stone became more pronounced. It pulled them to the opposite side, where there was another hallway that was completely black. Eventually, wooden braces started to appear that were holding the ceiling upright. They reached a cramped room sectioned off with yellow tape that read “Policia”. Harry bent at the waist and raised the tape for Ginny to slide under before doing so himself.
“It’s a kitchen. Well, it was a kitchen,” Ginny observed. Harry nodded. The only thing that betrayed the fact the room was in fact a kitchen was that the appliances, although melted, could still be identified and the marble sink still stood. This ceiling was braced every few feet with metal scaffolding rather than the wood from the hall.
"And it looks like where the fire started," Harry surmised as he kicked over some of the former cabinetry with his toe. "Tell me what you smell."
"Smoke, Harry," Ginny replied in a leaden voice.
"This was a charm I saw McGonagall use once when she thought your brothers were smuggling firewhiskey into the common room," he explained as he brandished his wand at Ginny’s freckled nose. "Olfactio."
Ginny's hands immediately went to her temples. "A little warning next time, Potter."
"Sorry. Now what do you smell?"
"Still smoke, but heaps of other things, too. The soap from the hotel. Your toothpaste. And something else. Ugh. It's horrible, but I think I recognize it. My dad has some in the shed. It's a.. a chemical or something."
"His Muggle machines smell like it, right?" Ginny nodded. Harry pointed his wand again and cancelled the charm. "It's gasoline. It's used to start fires or cause explosions. Charmed cars like the Anglia and the Ministry's cars don't need it, but regular ones do."
"So a Muggle did start the fire?"
"Right. Magical fire doesn't have a smell."
Ginny grinned. "That was fairly clever, Auror Potter."
"Maybe I'm turning into Hermione."
"Don't push it. So were Fred and George smuggling the whiskey?"
"Absolutely," Harry answered with a smile.
"Did McGonagall catch them?"
"I think you would've remembered your mum's Howler if she had.”
"I don't know. They got so many of them they all start to blend together." With that thought, Ginny's face fell. Harry reached over and took her hand.
"We'll be home soon."
"I know. It's just that this is the longest I've been away from my family. Even at Hogwarts I've always had at least one of my brothers with me."
"If it makes you feel any better, your mom is always telling me she considers me a son."
Ginny turned up her nose and punched Harry in the arm. "Seeing what we got up to this afternoon, that's not helpful at all."
The moan of the huge wooden double doors in the main hall echoed throughout the cathedral. Harry and Ginny's eyes both went wide.
"Sounds like our time has run out," Harry guessed. He held out his elbow. "My lady?" he offered with a grin. Ginny took hold of it.
"You win a prize if you can Apparate us straight into bed," she purred.
"What's the prize?" Ginny stood up on her toes and whispered in his ear.
"Merlin, Ginny, you're going to us splinched!”
"Do you feel anything?' Ginny asked as she stretched herself on a bus bench outside of Bishop's apartment building, a block down from the cathedral. It was more of a palace, with a ringed courtyard anchored by an ornate statuary fountain of some sort of goddess. Three expensive sedans were parked in a line, ready at a moment’s notice.
"Sort of. It feels the same as in the church. The Shroud was here but it's not anymore."
Harry and Ginny had gotten a late start to the morning. After having a bit of a lie-in, they realized that literally every Italian they saw on their way to Bishop’s residence was wearing sunglasses and that they were standing out simply by not wearing some. That brought them into a sunglass shop. No one explained to the couple which were men’s glasses and which were meant for ladies. The disconcerting thing for Harry was that he looked better in women’s sunglasses. “I won’t tell if you don’t,” Ginny tried to reassure him.
Ginny frowned. "So what do we do? Go in? See what we can find?”
Harry shook his head. "It's not worth the risk. People are in there. They're coming and going all the time. Plus there's a guard." He nodded at a man in an official-looking uniform pretending not to pace in front of the drive.
Ginny lifted herself off the seat. "I'm going to go talk to him.” Harry grabbed her elbow.
“And say what? 'We're hoping Bishop will tell us where the priceless artifact you've been hiding is. We want to perform a magic spell on it.'?”
Ginny sat back down and crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I can come up with something.”
Their attention was drawn to a large group of men emerging from the building, They were all wearing black except for one, who was wearing a bright red robe and a grand gold necklace. They were speaking to each other in very animated Italian. Ginny wracked her brain to keep up, but failed. The only word she could pick up got Harry’s attention as well - Shroud. The group piled into a waiting black car.
"We need to follow that car," Harry proclaimed.
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