|SIYE Time:0:00 on 22nd February 2018|
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: 27174; Chapter Total: 1041
Awards: View Trophy Room
Santorini took a breath. “Your people sought out Christ - Jesus - when word had spread of his good deeds. His miracles sounded magical, yet they knew not of him. I suppose they wanted to make sure he wasn’t wicked, or whatever you call it. So they met and the magical people gave him a test. Jesus performed every task they gave him and then some. Your people became afraid, as people tend to do when they encounter something they don’t understand. But our Lord had a way of making people feel comfortable and they parted peacefully.
“The night before Jesus was to be crucified, he sent for a wizard he had befriended through the tests. They spoke and came to the understanding that it did neither of their causes any good to acknowledge the other, or certainly to fight. Hence, the Agreement. There’s a famous painting of that dinner, with Jesus, his disciples, and your wizard. He’s on the left. You should look for it someday.”
“And it’s held for all this time? The Agreement?” Harry asked. The Archbishop nodded.
“Of course, we run into each other from time to time. Our people have had certain problems that only magic could solve. Plagues and such. You’ve been very accommodating. You even have a representative at the Vatican, Father Perceval. He and the Holy Father have a regular game of Euchre, so they say. But I’ve never met a wizard before. Or a witch for that matter, my dear. Which is why I was so eager to come down and make your acquaintance.” Then the kindly man’s face fell. “But I assume you aren’t tourists and you’re not here on a social call.”
The pair nodded. “How much do we tell him?” Ginny whispered to Harry.
“I think we might need him to open this case. Safely, at least,” Harry replied before turning back to the Archbishop.
“Have you heard that a security guard was murdered here, thirty or forty years ago? And the killer was never caught?”
“Heard of it? I was here. I was just a young priest at the time, but I remember everyone’s fear. Church attendance dropped for months. I still hear people talk about it from time to time, especially after the arson. Strange things have been happening around the Shroud since the very beginning, Mr. Potter.”
“Nothing stranger than this,” Ginny mused sardonically.
“The murderer’s name is - was - Tom Riddle. He’s a dark wizard. The most powerful there has ever been. He believes that the non-magical should be enslaved to serve wizards, but only those of pure blood. He calls himself Lord Voldemort now,” Harry explained.
“Your people have known all this time and haven’t told anyone? Did you punish him?”
Ginny couldn’t help but give a derisive giggle. “We’ve been trying for 20 years. He has followers. An army. There’s already been one war - which he lost. It’s a long story, but Harry… drove him into hiding when he was a baby. Now there’s another war. He’s taken over our government and killed a lot of people, magical and non-magical. Almost everyone else has gone into hiding.”
“My apologies, but you fought him as a baby and won?” the Archbishop asked with incredulity.
Now that she thought about it, Ginny had never met someone who didn’t already know the story of the Boy Who Lived. Recounting it, she could see where it would be hard to believe.
“That goes into why we’re here for the Shroud,” Harry began as he leaned on the case, tracing the edge of the glass with his finger. “He came to kill me and my parents. He succeeded with them but his spell backfired off me. Everyone thought he was dead but he wasn’t, partly because of the Shroud.
“When he killed the security guard, he was performing a ritual of extremely dark, extremely rare magic. It basically put a piece of his soul into the Shroud itself. As long as the Shroud survives, so does he.”
All of the life drained out of the old man’s face. He reached to hold himself up against the wall of the vault. “To kill him, you need to… destroy the Shroud? That’s why you’re here? I… I can’t let that happen. It’s one of the few things we have left from Christ. It’s our entire faith.” He made a step to reverse himself, to get help. Ginny reached for the man’s shoulder.
“No… Your Grace. We found a way to reverse the spell. We won’t hurt the Shroud. But we do need it. That’s why we need to get inside the case.” Ginny could feel Santorini’s shoulder relax.
“The Shroud is in that case for a reason, Signora Weasley. To protect it. It’s airtight. Bulletproof. Needless to say, the Shroud itself is very fragile. Only the Pope can order the case open, and he only does every ten years or so. I’m sorry. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. You will need to find another way to win your war.”
Harry lengthened himself. “Your Grace, there is no reason not to believe that if Voldemort takes Britain, he won’t conquer all of Europe. No other magical or non-magical government is strong enough to win against him. It would be the end of both of our worlds. And we have reason to believe that there is only one person who can defeat him.”
“And that is?”
“It’s Harry, Your Grace,” Ginny said through gritted teeth. “If Harry can’t defeat him, no one can.”
“Which is why they’ve sent you both on this… quest. Two teenagers.”
Ginny wrenched her face. “They didn’t exactly send us.”
“No one knows we’re here,” Harry contributed. “And only two other people know about Voldemort’s dark ritual at all, and they’ve both been captured. It’s up to us. All of it.”
“And I don’t suppose you have any proof of all this?”
“I’m sorry, Your Grace. All of our materials…” Harry began, but Ginny put up her hand.
“Harry, your scar.”
Harry reached to his forehead with a confused look, but a look into Ginny’s eyes gave him understanding.
“Archbishop, this is the scar Voldemort’s curse gave me when I was a baby. It burns whenever I’m near him or something having to do with him. It’s been warm all night, but it’s worse now. If I may?” Harry reached for the Archbishop’s hand and placed the man’s finger on the scar.
“Now watch what happens when I touch the case.” Keeping Santorini’s finger on the scar, Harry reached for the glass once again. A surge of power forced the Archbishop to pull his hand back.
“I… I… It’s true!” The older man shook his head. “You poor boy.”
Harry grinned for the first time. “You get used to it.”
“I’m sorry, Signore Potter, but that doesn’t change anything. I still can’t open the case. When we do, we have to bring in engineers. Scientists. It takes them almost a whole day.”
“Your Grace, can we at least try?” Ginny pleaded. “We understand the Shroud’s importance. We would never hurt it on purpose. And we can repair any damage done to the case - maybe even to the Shroud itself. We have a very effective spell for that. No one will know.” Aside from the Bat-Bogey Hex, Ginny considered her Mending Charm her strongest spell. Merlin knows she’s needed to use it enough, between growing up with Fred and George and running around with Harry Potter.
The Archbishop narrowed his eyes. “And your other spell? The one that kills the dark wizard? It does no damage?”
“The way we understand it, yes. But I do have to be honest with you because you’ve been honest with us: that spell has never been done before,” Ginny said.
“We learned it from another dark wizard. You may have heard of him. Gellert Grindelwald?” Harry interjected.
Santorini’s mouth dropped. “The Nazi? He was a wizard?!?”
“The most powerful dark wizard until Voldemort,” Harry explained.
“I saw the newspapers yesterday. It… it was you, wasn’t it?” He didn’t have to elaborate.
“Yes,” Ginny replied, her eyes never leaving the older man’s. She didn’t feel the need to elaborate, either.
The older man started pacing from one side of the vault to the other, his head downcast and his hands kneading each other. “That’s how grave the situation is, isn’t it? For two children to have to do that?”
Ginny considered correcting him, going into the story of her brief time with Grindelwald, but thought better of it. If that demonstrated her and Harry’s devotion to the cause, so be it. “Yes, Your Grace.”
The Archbishop stopped in mid-step. “I cannot forgive that, no matter the cause. Killing is against our faith, even though we have been just as guilty of it as anyone else. But I suppose that doesn’t matter to you, considering we’re from different worlds as you called it.”
Ginny’s eyes fell. The truth was that hearing his admonishment did wound her, even if Santorini had the wrong idea about what happened.
“So be it,” the Archbishop added. “Do what you will. But you are responsible for any damage to the Shroud. And even your considerable skills will not help you run and hide from our resources.”
Harry and Ginny couldn’t help but smile at each other. “We understand, Your Grace. We won’t even try to escape. We would feel equally hurt if something were to go wrong. And we would bring in our… resources as well,” Harry agreed.
Santorini nodded. “Oh, and one more thing, Signore Potter? Signora Weasley?... Can I watch? I’ve seen a lot of special things in my work. Even what some consider a miracle or two. I would like to see true magic, though. Just once.” Harry and Ginny nodded in concert.
“But you’re probably going to want to stand back,” Ginny warned. The Archbishop did as he was told.
Harry and Ginny circled the cabinet, both of them rapping on the bulletproof glass, assessing its strength.
“Severing Charm?” Ginny asked him with an eyebrow raised.
“Worth a try. Diffindo!” A bright light emitted from Harry’s wand. He held it as steady as possible along one of the seams of the heavy glass, moving his arm slowly. Dust was snaking its way into the air but there was no discernible difference in the case.
“Together?” Ginny questioned. She moved to Harry’s side and held her hand against his so their wands were pointing at the same spot. They both said the incantation at the same time and slid their wands against the same seam. This time, they could see it falling into itself.
“It’s working, Gin. Go along the whole seam, then down the sides. We can slide the top sheet of glass out.” Ginny nodded and did as she was told. By the time they were done, they were both out of breath. The last time Harry had held a spell that long was when he faced off against Voldemort in the Little Hangleton graveyard when his enemy had regained his body. And he was much more powerful than Ginny, who looked as though she were about to faint.
“I’m fine,” she said without being asked. Harry held her around the shoulders and kissed her temple just the same. When he felt she was no longer wobbling, he released her and slid the pane of glass off the cabinet and leaned it against the wall. A strange gas smell came from within the now-open case. The golden box was locked. With an Alohomora, the lock clicked open. Harry lifted the door to the casket and immediately fell to his knees, holding his forehead.
“Harry!” Ginny called. The Archbishop also took a few steps forward with concern.
“Just help me up,” Harry said through gritted teeth. Ginny took his elbow and dragged him to his feet. When he was finally standing, it was Ginny’s turn to keep him upright.
The couple peered in. There it was - the Shroud of Turin. They could see the red stitching pattern in the cloth and also found what was once red but is now brown, what Christians around the world believed to be the blood of Jesus himself. Ginny skipped a breath. Although it had only been six days since her brother’s wedding, it felt as if it took a month for her and Harry to get just to this point, their first Horcrux.
“You brought it, right?”
“In my inside jacket pocket.”
Ginny snaked her hand inside the fabric of his tuxedo coat - trying not to be distracted by the feeling of his chest under his shirt - and pulled out a folded piece of parchment. Sirius’s letter. It was Harry’s idea to use it as the sentimental object that would be sacrificed during the reversal spell. Ginny fought against it for fifteen minutes, wanting to sacrifice a hieroglyphic necklace she had bought on her trip to visit her brother Bill in Egypt a few years ago. Harry argued, successfully, that their first try with the spell should be with something of his, considering his continuing bond with Voldemort. She held the letter up between her thumb and forefinger.
“Here we go,” she announced with a look behind her at the Archbishop, who was moving his weight from one foot to the other.
“Restituo Amare!” Harry called while tapping his wand on the Shroud. A great wind started spiraling in the small room. The lights flickered. Harry and Ginny both felt their eardrums popping with the vortex, just as they had in the airplane. A purple ball of energy came from the roll of cloth and stuck to the end of his wand. Ginny moved the letter closer to him. It appeared as if the letter was a magnet to the energy, sucking it onto the paper while still allowing the purple glow to orbit the parchment. The Horcrux was not yet embedded in the letter.
Ginny grabbed Harry by his collar and kissed him with as much meaning and force as she could muster. Harry equaled her intensity. Neither wanted to break the kiss. Harry opened one eye and looked at the letter. It now had a soft violet glow. Finally, Ginny remembered what they were doing as well and took a look. They broke away from each other. As soon as they did, both of Harry’s hands went to his head and he again fell to the floor.
“Burn it, Ginny! Hurry!”
The letter burst into flames much stronger than would normally be the case with a piece of parchment, to the point where Ginny had to toss the letter onto the concrete floor. She scrambled to kneel next to Harry. As the fire burned through its course, high pitched screams seemed to come from the paper itself, but all three participants knew where the sound was really coming from - one-seventh of Lord Voldemort’s soul. The last thing that could be made out from the letter was Sirius’s signature. Harry removed first one hand from his head, then the other.
“Did it work?” Ginny asked fearfully. Harry just smiled at her. She wrapped her arms around his neck.
A/N: Yes, I am just as happy that we are done with our first Horcrux as you are. I’m with Ginny; it took forever to get here and it’s only been a week in their time. Hopefully it’s been an entertaining ride to get to this point. Thanks to everyone who’s come along, left comments/followed/favorited/whatever, and generally kept me going. The dings on my phone always get the creative juices flowing.
I know there’s going to be some questions about how this went down. First, I have no idea if Diffindo can get through bulletproof glass. We only have a few cases of broken glass in canon and that wasn’t bulletproof. What I do know is that it only took a fireman about ten swings with an axe to get through it during the actual fire (there’s a video on YouTube; it’s pretty cool). Simultaneous Severing Charms on the seam of the case should work, but who knows. I didn’t want to use the Blasting Hex due to the unpredictability of it. If you remember from the Hall of Prophecies, Ginny’s is particularly powerful. Plus, I just liked the idea of H & G combining their magic.
No, I’m not dealing with fiendfyre, Basilisk fangs, or the Sword of Gryffindor when disposing of the Horcruxes. Fiendfyre is too big when you’re trying not to alert the Muggle authorities. Good luck getting on a plane with a Basilisk fang (even in 1997 and even if they had one). And the Sword always just showing up when it was needed seemed like a cop-out to me. Regular burning is fine. If the object can’t be burned, maybe we get out a Blasting Hex.
Also, I’m still looking for a beta. My lovely wife was serving as one for a while (you may have noticed the Grindelwald chapters being tighter than the rest), but she’s gotten busy with work.
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