HANGLETON AND HOLLOW
Harry stood in the corridor outside the library and puzzled over what had just happened. Unable to get his mind around Rose's reaction, he put the incident away for later consideration. As he thought on the things he wanted to accomplish, and the speed at which the day was slipping away, he said more to himself than anyone in particular, "I need more time."
A portrait of a prim witch with a ruffly jabot and a monocle on a short hand staff sniffed and said, "Wait until you're a portrait on a wall. You will have all the time you could want."
"Time again," lamented Harry. "It's always about time."
He made a quick decision and headed for Hagrid's cabin.
Hagrid was still in his garden, now tending to huge corn stalks that were shockingly similar to Grawp's variety. Harry had a momentary longing to see Grawp and had to put down Slytherin's magic. As if on cue, Capricio appeared at the top of the chimney. Harry rounded the corner for the back of Hagrid's hut and motioned for the dragon. It dropped from the chimney in a steep dive, enlarging as it plummeted, and bowled Harry to the ground.
"I'm happy to see you too," said Harry. The dragon swished its dangerous tail. Suddenly Harry thought he understood Capricio's meaning. "You watched me put down Slytherin's magic. You can tell I'm the master of it now!"
Capricio cuffed Harry with his wing.
"OK. Not the master, but getting better?" offered Harry.
Capricio's churr was interrupted by Hagrid. "Blimey 'arry, what'er yeh doin' out in the daylight with 'im?"
Harry scratched Capricio's scaly hide. "I'm being cautious. Here behind your cabin, we can't be seen from the castle."
"Yeh, but there's no such thing as too much caution. Don't want yeh mixed up in lawbreakin' with the Ministry still all sensitive 'bout Dumbledore's willy," said Hagrid.
"Granted," said Harry realistically. "I just needed Capricio's advice for a few minutes."
"Well off with yeh then. Jes' don' get caught," said Hagrid as he offered a huge hand to lift Harry from the ground.
"Perish the thought," said Harry with a smile. As he turned toward the forest, he shot over his shoulder, "And say hello to Grawp for me the next time you see him. I miss him."
Hagrid smiled as Harry and Capricio disappeared into the forest.
Harry stopped at the edge of the trees and sat down. Capricio wormed a divot into the hard, dry soil and waited for Harry to speak.
"Cap, I've got a bit of a dilemma. I've worn my friends out. One by one I've pushed them too far...past their endurance. The problem is, I'm not done with the things I've set to do," said Harry as he looked at the dragon in his earthy nest.
"All right, I haven't worn you out," responded Harry. "Are you game to let me try?"
The wyvern hopped from his indentation and stretched his wings.
"OK," said Harry, and he outlined his plans to the dragon.
Plans shared and agreed upon; Harry pulled out his Time-Turner and invisibility cloaks and they disappeared.
The weather upon their arrival in "time" couldn't have been more different. There was no warm sun, only darkness and a cold grey mist that cut into the lungs with each breath. Capricio complained.
"I agree," said Harry, "but it needed to be now. Let's get into the forest and find a thestral. We need a mount."
It was mere minutes after Harry had conjured raw meat that the first thestral appeared. Even though the skeletally thin, horse-like creatures looked almost identical; he could have sworn that the one that nuzzled him for more meat was the same one Ron had ridden to the Gaunt's cabin. Harry waited for it to finish the second batch of meat before he gave out his goal.
As he patted the bony shoulder, he asked tentatively, "Are you willing to take us to the Little Hangleton church?"
The thestral turned sideways to Harry as if saying, "Well get on. What are you waiting for?"
Harry mounted and they were immediately off, Capricio flying alongside. In what seemed like mere minutes (although Harry knew it to be several hours) they began their steep descent to the Little Hangleton churchyard.
Despite their speed, the thestral landed quietly on the hard packed earth. Harry asked the thestral to wait and called Capricio to his shoulder.
"Quietly now," said Harry as he massaged his frozen hands. "Let's see if this is a graveyard or a dedicated cemetery."
Harry released Capricio and walked cautiously among the grave markers. He could see where a conscientious sexton had repaired headstones that had been damaged in his fight with Voldemort and the Death Eaters. The huge marker above the remains of Tom Riddle, Sr., had been reset and leveled. To the right was a larger stone, doubly as massive as Riddle's, that listed his parents. The death dates were identical.
Harry compassed the markers. The ground was barren and clear of other graves to a considerable distance. It appeared that the Riddles had purchased the surrounding plots so as not to be crowded by lesser stones. He slid down the back of Riddle's stone and as he motioned to Capricio, he sat on the ground. The dragon landed at his feet.
"Cap, I'm fighting a struggle, but not with Slytherin's magic this time," whispered Harry. The dragon worked its way up his robes and waited. "There is a prophecy that says either I have to kill Voldemort or he has to kill me. If I don't succeed..."
The dragon made a warning sound.
"I know. I've been training for that very fight, but on the chance that I fail, if I only destroy his body, I don't want Voldemort to have access to his progenitor's bones again. That's how he got his body back. If I fail, someone else may have the opportunity to face him in the future... and destroy him. I want to close this avenue of possible regeneration should I fail to destroy all his Horcruxes. In completing this task, I'm facing my mortality. That's a bitter pill, but I just have to eat my liver."
Capricio opened his wing and examined a small gold scar, then he looked at its twin on Harry's hand.
"Right!" said Harry. "We're in this together. But I'm being realistic not fatalistic. It may not even come down to me facing Voldemort. Dumbledore intimated that many of the prophecies in the Hall of Prophecy were never fulfilled; or at least they were subject to broad interpretation as to their actual meaning. In the last year I've almost met my end a dozen times. Thanks to you and some of my other friends, I've scraped by. I'm afraid my luck won't last forever. That's why the preparations here."
Capricio swished his tail.
"All right then," said Harry accepting Capricio's willingness. "I need you to stay here and guard this grave. No need to have anything go askance at the finish. I'm going to try and determine if this is a dedicated cemetery. If it's not, we will take the bones with us back to Hogwarts."
Capricio flew to the top of Riddle's grave marker and became as still as if he were made from stone.
"I'll be back shortly," said Harry to the silent dragon, and he headed for the church.
It became apparent that the graves were older as he approached the church, with the more recent interments fanning toward the outskirts.
As he picked his way between stones, he came to a short wrought-iron fence. It posed little impediment, as it was barely three feet high. Harry stepped easily over it. As he did, he looked to his right and left. In places the fence was broken, in others it was missing entirely. Harry played a hunch that the fence had been originally intended to delineate the borders of the cemetery. Fully inside the fenced portion of the churchyard, he said, "Ogram."
Immediately light began to gather in the darkened night. A being, similar to the Ogram of Hogwarts cemetery, but with distinct differences in visage, appeared in the swelling light.
Harry was immediately concerned for the attention Ogram's bright white light might attract on the moonless night.
Ogram looked at Harry with the same penetrating gaze Harry had experienced at Hogwarts.
Harry's thoughts and plans were driven from his mind by Ogram's radiance. Ogram spoke before Harry had regained his wits. "You need not fear. I am able to limit those to whom I am visible. Others will not see."
Ogram's voice was comforting and Harry noted that Ogram had addressed his concern without a verbal question. He tried an experiment and thought, "Can you read my mind?"
In his head (at least Harry thought it was in his head), he heard... "Yes. I concern myself with the thoughts of all who enter my protected domain."
"Do you protect this entire cemetery?" questioned Harry in his mind.
"No. My influence ends at the boundary fence. Sadly, all beyond are Scatterlings."
"I have been here before," thought Harry as he became more accustomed to the novel method of communication.
"Of this I am well aware," spoke Ogram to Harry's mind. "I observed the battle you fought with emissaries of the Evil One."
"Then you understand that I mean no harm or disrespect to those you guard?" questioned Harry.
"I see the intent of your mind and heart," responded Ogram.
"Is there an empty plot under your protective care?" asked Harry silently.
"There is," responded Ogram.
"Could you show me?" inquired Harry.
Without word, Ogram led Harry to trio of markers. "Three brothers," indicated Ogram, pointing a brilliant hand at the spot of ground. "All victims to a great conflict. Their earthly remains were never returned to their homeland. These markers are symbolic of the family's desire to remember those passed beyond mortal concerns."
Harry looked at the crumbling markers. The dates indicated deaths between 1915 and 1917.
"Do family members still visit this site?" asked Harry.
"No. It has been many years since anyone reverenced these men's sacrifices," said Ogram.
"Would I be allowed to move three Scatterlings to these plots?" asked Harry hopefully, but before Ogram could respond, he thought, "No probably not. The markers may be crumbling but they were intended for specific individuals."
Ogram looked at Harry for several long minutes before responding. "I watched as you battled with the followers of the Evil One. Their intent was most vile. You fought to protect, not to enslave or create abominations. You would be allowed to move Scatterlings here, but you will not be allowed to harm or disturb any of my other charges."
Harry indicated that he understood and headed back to the Riddle's graves. He struggled to cross the low fence, skirted a yew tree and came to a halt at the huge gravestone. Capricio watched silently.
"I'll need a few minutes to regain my strength and wits," said Harry. "Talking with Ogram really takes it out of a bloke."
After a thirty minute rest, Harry felt well enough to examine the area in detail. He was concerned when he found dissociate magic on Riddle's parent's headstone. He parsed the magic and found it of old vintage, with Peter Pettigrew as the holder. He took out his folded sheet of gold. By hand, he fashioned a covering for the double stone. Knowing the limitations of dissociate magic from an inanimate object gave Harry a bit of comfort.
He then took out his gold pocket lining and used it for a shield to hide his magic from the Ministry's detection. Soon he had a layered tent, covering not only the Riddle's graves, but also an area extending to the nearest gravestones.
"OK Cap," said Harry. "This is where I need your help. This will be a dry-run for our re-interment process in the cemetery. I've seen you dig a nest in the earth. Can you dig away the dirt down to the coffins?"
Capricio enlarged and went immediately to task. Harry used no magic in the excavated hole, but levitated the loose dirt to the side, forming a huge pile. Quite soon, three coffins were exposed to view. Each was covered with hammered-and-soldered copper tooled in ornate patterns. Harry could see where Wormtail's magic had forced a beach in the top of Tom Riddle, Sr.'s coffin. Harry sealed the hole, then moving the gold tent as a shield, levitated all three coffins toward the church.
He stopped just short of the markers for the three brothers and called Capricio. "I need a hole big enough to allow these three coffins, but without disturbing any of the surrounding graves."
Capricio applied himself and dug furiously as Harry shunted the loose dirt to a hovering mass nearby. When the excavation was large enough, Harry formed a layer of gold and placed it in the bottom of the hole, set the coffins gently atop, and sealed them with the remaining gold. When all was to his satisfaction, he replaced and leveled the dirt.
"Ogram?" he questioned to the night air.
Ogram appeared immediately. "You have done as you said you would," said Ogram. "These remains are now under my protection." He vanished.
"Not very talkative, that one," said Harry thoughtfully. He led Capricio back to the markers now standing over empty graves. "Let's make it even more difficult for anyone following us, shall we?"
He placed a layer of dirt in the hole and then encouraged Capricio to melt it into slag with his flaming breath. Layer after layer were fused together, leaving a monolith of cooling stone just inches below the packed soil.
"Let Voldemort try to find any trace of his father in that!" said Harry emphatically. "Now let's see if Wormtail might have been watching."
He approached the Riddle's headstone and teased a bit of dissociate magic from beneath his gold covering. When he reverse incantated the dissociate magic, it appeared that Wormtail had not concerned himself with the magic since the fateful night of Voldemort's return. Harry thought back on his dissociate magic on the post outside Hagrid's cabin. He had been within several miles of the magic and had been barely able to see Hagrid's huge form moving about.
"This is old magic. Even if Wormtail had been paying strict attention to his dissociate string, he's going to be hard pressed to have heard or seen anything tonight," explained Harry. "Nevertheless, we weren't very cautious. Let's remedy that oversight"
Under his protective tent, Harry fused the layer of gold to the headstone. The granite took on a burnished, gilt look.
"That should severely interfere with any dissociate information gathering," Harry said with a smile. "We've done well here," he said and led the way back to the waiting thestral.
Upon arrival, Harry tented them all in gold and made a meal. Capricio ate voraciously. The thestral, in his own time and unaffected by time turning, consumed his meal with quiet reserve.
After the meal and a bit of rest, Harry presented his next proposal. "This stint into time was to accomplish a specific purpose. I feel compelled to go to another time just to observe. Capricio I'll need your strength to help me through. I want to go back to the night my parents were killed by Voldemort."
Capricio frilled his neck ruff and growled menacingly.
"You've got the wrong end of it," said Harry quickly. "I'm absolutely not going to interfere. The mirror of Erised taught me that if I live in the past, I'll never really live. I won't make the mistake again. I've also come to accept that, if the past is changed, the present could be damaged. I'll make sure we are not seen and that we do not change anything. You have my word."
The dragon seemed slightly mollified.
As Harry took the Time-Turner from beneath his robes, the thestral shied away. Each time Harry tried to approach, the thestral became more agitated. Frustrated with the animal's recalcitrance, Harry finally relented, tucking the Time-Turner away.
The thestral calmed down and allowed Harry to mount.
"Back to Hogwarts then," said Harry frustration tinging his voice.
As they took to the sky, Harry fumed at the thestral's unwillingness to let him use the Time-Turner. He even considered using it on the fly but thought better of it as he pictured himself unseated in mid air in the dark. Rather than waste the time in aggravation, Harry set his mind to the next excursion. He fully realized the emotional stress he was about to endure. Cautious not to enter the Gemynd trance unintentionally, he studied out very carefully the reasons, dangers, demands, and value of the trip.
When they finally landed at Hogwarts, Harry considered himself fully prepared for his upcoming trial.
He thanked the thestral and released it into the forest. He called to Capricio as he removed the Time-Turner. As soon as the dragon was in his pocket and warned, Harry set and locked the rings and they were gone.
When the vertigo-like sensation subsided, Harry sat down to talk to Capricio. "This is the longest "when" I've ever time-turned. Here and now, I'm only about one year old. It's the evening of October 31st."
Harry looked involuntarily at Hogwarts castle in the distance. The Great Hall was alight with the candles, pumpkins, and ghosts of the Halloween feast.
"I'm not entirely sure what time Voldemort attacks my parents," said Harry, forced control in his voice. "In his journals, he worked out planetary alignments and listed dates he considered most powerfully magical. If he was as methodical in choosing the date and time of my death; the death of a magical rival, as I think he was, it should be tonight as the full moon rises. That's just before midnight."
Harry checked to see if Capricio was taking in the explanation when a troubling thought occurred to him. "Cap, I hadn't considered it before now, but I have to ask... Tom Riddle could communicate with snakes. If his ancestry is correct, he was Slytherin's heir. He made it to the Chamber of Secrets. Am I going to have any problem with you as the charged executor of Slytherin's wishes?"
Capricio growled, and as Harry looked into his endless ebony eyes, he saw that Capricio had accepted him as Salizar Slytherin's legitimate heir.
"Well I'm glad that is settled," said Harry with a sigh. "I'll need your strength just to watch. My innermost desire is to step in and save my parents. I think I've matured enough to accept the past. Any attempt to alter those events would be out of selfishness. If I love my parents, if I'm to honor their sacrifice in my behalf, I have to leave the past alone."
Harry and Capricio sat in silence for several minutes. Finally Harry said, "Let's go. I'll never be more disposed than I am right now. About how to get there...should we use a thestral again? It might be the best solution since I'm not even sure where Godric's Hollow is located."
Capricio made a noncommittal noise in his throat.
"I know, you don't care because you fly anyway," said Harry as he smiled at the dragon.
He conjured some meat and soon had a herd of thestrals milling about. Harry didn't recognize any except Tenebrus. After they had fed, Harry asked, "Would any of you be willing to take me to Godric's Hollow and back?"
The words were barely out of his mouth when Tenebrus stepped away from the herd and toward Harry. Harry patted the thestral's bony side and then mounted. He restated the destination and held on for his life as they were off in the flapping of huge leathery wings.
The moon had not risen and the night was so dark that Harry couldn't have guessed where they flew. He concentrated on not slipping off the death-viewed creature. Occasionally he saw the light of towns slip beneath them, but he had no idea of their names.
"I hope Capricio is following," thought Harry earnestly, "because I can't see him either."
Suddenly the thestral dropped its head in a steep descent. The paucity of lights told Harry that Godric's Hollow was a sparsly-inhabited area. When they were fully on the ground, Harry's reasoning was confirmed. Godric's Hollow comprised a village of widely scattered estates separated by low rubble-stone fences. They had landed at an intersection on a narrow country road. The verges were so overgrown with brush that it was difficult to see beyond.
Harry moved close to the signpost. The faded sign indicated the intersection of Wild Moor Road and Bowman Wright Waye. An arrow pointing down Bowman Wright Waye proclaimed Godric's Hollow. As Harry released the thestral in a stand of elm trees, he saw the stars disappear as Capricio circled overhead. He smiled inwardly at the comfort the dragon's presence engendered.
He made his way stealthily down the lane toward Godric's Hollow. He took each step carefully in the dark as the lane angled down into a bowl nestled between the rolling hills.
As he began the descent into the hollow, Harry spoke quietly; wondering if Capricio could even hear him. "I've thought this through. There are things I need to know about this night. I've settled myself to the fact that I can't get involved. I can't attack Voldemort. He has the protection of his Horcruxes. My father and mother do as much as can be done to him in his present state. If I'm to honor their sacrifice, I must leave this be."
He swallowed the bile that had surged into his throat at his own words. Picking his way carefully down the dark road, he was soon at the bottom of the vale. A single stone cottage lay there, cloaked in a stand of arching hardwoods. The cottage broadcast no lights, and indeed there appeared neither activity, nor sense of human presence.
"This can't be right," thought Harry as he looked around for other homes that might house his parents. Then Grimmauld Place sprang to mind. He remembered that he couldn't see number twelve until after Moody had showed him Dumbledore's slip of paper.
He called to Capricio and the dragon was immediately at his side. "Cap, watch out for me for a while. I need to review some of Dumbledore's memories and I don't want Voldemort sneaking up on me."
Capricio responded by becoming larger and wrapping Harry in a "dragon tent."
"Thanks!" said Harry. "I have to admit this is the safest I've felt in a long go."
He lapsed into Gemynd wordlessly and sorted his Dumbledore/shared memories. He found bits of the Fidelius Charm in pieces spilled over from Moody during the willy reading. He found Sirius in a memory where Dumbledore had reluctantly relinquished his position of Secret Keeper of Lily and James Potter's remote redoubt. He could feel Dumbledore's conflict about fully trusting Sirius. Dumbledore's angst was assuaged a bit when Sirius immediately wrote the Potter's address and returned it to him, effectively releasing the captive memory.
When Harry saw Sirius' handwritten note in Dumbledore's memory, he knew he had found the key for which he had been seeking. He ended Gemynd and jostled Capricio.
"I've got it Cap!" he whispered excitedly, as he mouthed the address.
The dragon unfurled its protective embrace and reverted to its diminutive form.
Harry's excitement evaporated in an instant. He had taken up position across from the derelict stone cottage; assuming it was his parent's magically concealed abode. But when Capricio's protective enclosure disappeared, Harry found himself not in a stand of trees, but in the front garden of a brightly lighted home.
"This wasn't here a moment ago!" he said aloud. Realizing the magnitude of his error, he hastily retreated across the lane and pelted through the brush, finally stopping behind the abandoned house.
When he had caught up his breath, he made a low whistle. Capricio dropped from the sky to his side.
"You could see that, couldn't you?" asked Harry thumbing across the road.
"Why didn't you warn me?" asked Harry indignantly.
"No danger! No danger! Do you really think so?" asked Harry. "We just left a thestral in their back garden! Don't you think Voldemort will notice that?"
Capricio turned his back on Harry.
It took Harry a few minutes to calm his heart rate and get a grip on their situation. In a small voice he began, "Cap I'm sorry. I did tell you to watch out for danger. There really isn't any danger here yet. I get it. I guess I wasn't as prepared as I thought. If Voldemort had already been here...I shudder to think about what could have happened."
Capricio took to the air and Harry was left with his ever-darkening thoughts.
"I can be here and not interfere," Harry reassured himself. "After all, I allowed history to run its course with Dumbledore."
"Ah, but did you?" questioned his own mind. "You may have bypassed the castle the night Albus was killed, but you helped at the cave and you jumped right in at the Gaunt's cabin."
Nettled at the thought, he countered, "My hand wasn't detected in those instances."
"Ahh...but are you quite sure of that?" interrupted his alter-id. "Have you asked Albus if your assistance went unnoticed?"
"No," he admitted grudgingly to himself. "I haven't spoken to him since the Gaunt's cabin. I'll have to ask him."
"That's assuming you survive this moment," jibed the pesky inner voice. "You know you want to cross to that house and knock on the door. Don't try to deny it."
"I can't," retaliated Harry as his mind stretched to its limit in mental anguish. "I can't alter what's about to happen. I would run the risk of an unknown future...a future where Voldemort is unstoppable. As bad as the real future...my present...is, I've always felt that it was possible to defeat Voldemort. That's what it comes down to. I must allow my parents full latitude. Without them, there would be no chance for the future."
"But the cowardly..."
"Enough!" Harry shouted in his mind. "This will be the hardest thing I've ever done but I will do it!"
Harry's forced assertion stilled the spectacular turmoil in his mind. He emptied his thoughts of anguish and made his final preparations.
He checked his disillusionment charm and invisibility cloaks. He double-checked the area for any inadvertent magic traces. Finding all well, he steeled his mind to what was about to happen; replacing the torment with focused observation.
Unsure how Voldemort would arrive, Harry kept all his senses on keen alert. Even with the academic knowledge of what was about to happen, Harry still nearly jumped out of his skin at the "pop" of apparition.
As soon as he identified the location, he was shocked to see elf-spectra magic diffusing around two cloaked figures. Harry's breath caught in his throat. Peter Pettigrew and Voldemort were standing no more than three paces from where he was concealed.
Upon their appearance, Pettigrew fell to his knees and retched.
"Not you favorite way to travel?" asked Voldemort in a voice of cold amusement.
Pettigrew vomited again.
"Regardless of your weakness," said Voldemort flatly, "the elf apparition is impossible for the meddling Ministry to detect."
Voldemort waited two breaths and than commanded, "Get up!"
When Pettigrew did not respond immediately, Voldemort kicked him violently, sending the small man sprawling.
"My Lord, the effects..." whimpered Pettigrew.
"Silence!" ordered Voldemort. "You have pledged your entire life, your entire being to me. You will push past any physical discomfort. If I were to command you to throw yourself into a fire, you will do so. Never hesitate at my command again, or I will take your miserable life."
"Y-yes my Lord," stuttered Pettigrew, as he attempted to gain control of his mind and body.
"What place is this that you have directed me to?" demanded Voldemort. "Certainly even the Potters don't live in this ramshackle hovel!"
"No my Lord," responded Pettigrew, and with head bowed, he withdrew a slip of parchment from beneath his robes and handed it to Voldemort.
Voldemort's eyes flashed crimson. "I see," he said as he looked across the road to the erstwhile hidden home. "In your pathetic way you have done well Wormtail."
Pettigrew flinched as if whipped.
"What! You object to me using your friend's contrived name for you?" asked Voldemort derisively.
"N-no my Lord," whispered Pettigrew, his eyes still diverted.
"I think it only fitting that I use the name. In a very short while none will remain to use the endearment..."
"But master, you said you were only interested in the Potter's son. You said nothing of James and Lily..." gasped Pettigrew.
"Silence!" commanded Voldemort. "I have no interest in James Potter, Lily Potter, Sirius Black, or Remus Lupin. I believe those are the friends I saw in your mind using the appellation. They are an annoyance to me. They are Order of the Phoenix members and must therefore die. They do not interest me. They are of no consequence. They simply must die."
Pettigrew pressed trembling fingers to his lips, but remained silent.
"It will depend on how quickly the Order responds to the Potter's deaths...if any come rushing in, I shall dispatch them also. An attack here may bring heroes swarming to their deaths. However, if no one is brave enough, or watchful enough to come...no matter. There is another, and his parents, who will be killed tonight. Unfortunately, the information you have provided, leads me to believe that Dumbledore is protecting him personally. First the Potter brat, then to Dumbledore and the Longbottoms."
Pettigrew recoiled in fear as Voldemort loosed the silver fastenings of his cloak and revealed a snake coiled tightly around his chest.
"Now Nagini," said Voldemort with relish. "Time to feed."
The snake, only a shadow of the monster it would become, uncoiled and slithered to the ground. Pettigrew tripped over his own feet in his haste to retreat from the serpent.
"Wormtail! The box!" commanded Voldemort sharply as he snapped his fingers at Pettigrew.
Pettigrew searched his robes frantically, finally pulling a small velvet-covered box from an inside pocket. He held it out to Voldemort without drawing any nearer the snake than necessary.
"Very good Wormtail," said Voldemort as he took the box. "Which will it be... the halfblood Potter brat or the Longbottom pureblood?" He withdrew a finely faceted crystal about the size of a chicken egg and held it up to the starlight.
"I wonder what the world will look like from inside Rowena Ravenclaw's dynamic crystal?" mused Voldemort almost to himself. "Lothe I am to include the muggle mother and the mudblood son, but at least the father is a pureblod. That will suffice. Then on to the Longbottoms."
"I...I do not understand Master," worried Pettigrew.
"Nor will you ever!" exclaimed Voldemort. He slid the crystal into his robe pocket and thrust the empty box back into Pettigrew's trembling hands.
"After Nagini and I have finished with the Potters, you will proceed exactly as I have instructed. The time window will be small. The fools in the Order will undoubtedly be slow to see what has happened. Their belief that none of their own could betray them gives us advantage. As we discussed, after I am finished with the Potters, after I have given myself and Nagini a little treat, you will go back to Hogwarts..."
Pettigrew whimpered and shook but remained mute.
"...you will take this crystal, albeit in a different form, and deposit it at Hogwarts exactly as I have commanded. You will return to me with Gryffindor's sword and hat. Then we visit the Longbottoms. I might proceed to eleven, or thirteen, or even forty- seven. They are magically powerful also... "
Pettigrew ignored the abstruse comment, and voiced his personal concern, "Master, the magic necessary to breach the castle..."
"You are a self-made Animagus. Elfin magic is difficult, but it is not beyond your meager talent. As motivation...if you fail...you die." Voldemort laughed. "Who knows? You may arrive at Hogwarts and find easy entry. You are not yet discovered a spy."
Voldemort laughed again. "All will go according to plan. In several hours, you will return the sword to its rightful place. It, along with the altered crystal and several other trinkets, will safely await my arrival. I will rule from Hogwarts after I subject the wizarding world."
"Come Nagini. Destiny awaits." Voldemort swept from concealment, Nagini slithering at his heels.
Harry could not watch. Even though he had considered himself prepared, he found in the actual moment, his courage quailed. He reached inside his robes and withdrew the Time-Turner, made a tiny adjustment and was gone.
The travel "time" had been so brief that there was minimal associate disorientation but although he had not moved so much as a millimeter, when his vision cleared, he was witness to a scene of carnage.
The full moon had risen, silhouetting a frenzied Pettigrew scrabbling through tangled wreckage that moments before had been the Potter's home. Harry could hear him keening even though he was a considerable distance away.
"No! Not now! Master where are you! The Ministry will be here any minute. Master where are you?" Pettigrew continued his sobbing as he clawed at the wreckage.
Harry watched as Pettigrew freed the great snake from the debris. He saw the snake's forked tongue flick out to taste the air. Immediately it wound itself around Pettigrew's leg and then disappeared under his robe. The look of panic on Pettigrew's face was patently obvious.
In a sudden flash of gold and red, Rubeus Hagrid was standing at the roadside, a Phoenix feather in one hand and his pink umbrella in the other.
"You there! What'r yeh about!" demanded the giant man of Pettigrew.
Pettigrew mumbled something about coming to check on James and Lily and finding their home destroyed.
"Oh help me Hagrid," implored Pettigrew. "Someone may have survived."
Taken in, Hagrid threw himself into the work. He moved stone and beam as if they were tissue and kindling.
Harry saw Pettigrew stoop and pick up what appeared to be a long piece of splintered wood. With a start, Harry recognized it as Voldemort's wand. Pettigrew pocketed it quickly and turned to Hagrid.
"Hagrid I can't stand it...if James and Lily were here...I can't take what that would mean."
Hagrid paused and blew his nose on his great spotted handkerchief. "It's that bad," he said tearfully. "I've jus' found James."
Pettigrew shrieked. "I can't Hagrid. I must leave. I must find the person responsible."
Without waiting for assent or permission, Pettigrew disapparated. Harry saw Pettigrew used elf-spectra.
Hagrid shrugged at Pettigrew's departure, and wiping at his streaming eyes, went noisly back to work.
Harry knew it was only a matter of time before Hagrid would discover Lily in the wreckage, shortly thereafter Sirius would appear. He felt he couldn't face the additional emotional turmoil on top of everything else. Searching about for Capricio, he found the dragon battling furiously on the trunk of a nearby tree.
Harry was about to call Capricio from the struggle when he saw a sparkle of reflected moonlight between the dragon's claws.
He crossed silently to the tree to see what the dragon was about. His distress at the moment was somewhat distracted when he saw Rowena Ravenclaw's crystal embedded tightly in the tree trunk. Capricio ignored Harry's arrival and continued savaging the tree. At length, the dragon succeeded in slashing the crystal free. Then, like a trained retriever, he dropped the crystal at Harry's invisible feet.
Harry moved the skirt of his invisibility cloak over the sparkling jewel. He had just reached to pick it up when he thought better of the motion. Instead, he examined it carefully and finally determined to wrap it in gold foil and study it under more closely guarded circumstances. After the crystal was secured, he clucked to Capricio and headed for the waiting thestral.
The thestral seemed impatient to get away from the area of magical mayhem, and immediately upon Harry's request to return to Hogwarts, it was off.
During the trip back to the castle, Harry was flooded by a feeling of utter emptiness spawned by what he had seen and heard. He felt mentally exhausted. The time encounter with his parent's deaths, with Pettigrew, and with Voldemort had emptied him emotionally and spiritually. He had no desire to go on. A post-traumatic feeling of self-loathing encompassed his entire being. As his malaise deepened, he mentally separated himself from the events of the last hours. He found the separation, and the silence, brought struggle not solace. He was marginally roused from his despondence as the thestral lowered its head for the descent to Hogwarts.
When they landed, Harry released the thestral and time-turned immediately. When he and Capricio had settled, he made straight for the tower housing the Headmistress's office. He had a multitude of questions and he needed answers.