This is chapter seven of Never Underestimate a House-Elf. For chapter one click here.
Summary: What if Harry thought of more than just steak and kidney pie, and called Kreacher to them as soon as he realized Hermione had apparated the trio away from Grimmauld Place? A very different camping trip ensues. Inspired by #WizardTeam and the Time Room
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Harry Potter, my fanfiction is for recreational purposes.
Author’s Note: Hi *waves sadly* I know that I haven’t updated in forever and I’m really sorry. I’ve lost pretty much all inspiration for this fic, so this chapter is likely the last chapter you will get for the next hot second. I do have the last three chapters outlined, but I have been struggling to make myself write them. My goal is to have them written and released by the end of the year. Many thanks for your patience, and I hope you enjoy the chapter.
Kreacher and Milly, free at last of the Malfoys, took to Hogwarts, and joined Dobby and Winky as spies for the students against the Death Eaters who had been installed there. It was surprising to the trio, though not so much Luna, how much the house elves were involved, as they had not been keeping up with Hogwarts as much as they perhaps should have been, focused as they were on the horcruxes and their own adventures.
Now that they had Gryffindor’s sword, and had succeeded in destroying two horcruxes, thus confirming 4 of the projected 7 split parts of Voldemort’s soul were gone, they felt bolstered. The end was not exactly near, but they had reached the halfway point.
It was a daily back and forth for the four of them, theorizing about what the last horcrux could be, after Nagini. After taking a day’s rest post the Gringotts break-in, Harry sat the four of them down and recounted all that Dumbledore had told him, repeating the theory that Voldemort was after items from the founders.
“Well, he got Slytherin and Hufflepuff then. The last one is obviously Ravenclaw because we know he didn’t get the sword. What’s Ravenclaw’s object then?” Ron asked, looking across the table at Luna and Hermione. As their resident Ravenclaw and should-have-been-a-Ravenclaw they were best equipped to answer.
“Well, there’s her lost diadem. I told you about it, remember, Harry? We were talking about how Daddy’s trying to duplicate it at the wedding. If you’d all told me about his going after things owned by the founders, I’d have brought it up ages ago,” Luna sighed. “Keeping secrets from allies can be as dangerous as telling them to enemies.”
“You’re not just an ally Luna,” Harry reached across the table to grab her hand. “You’re a friend.”
“You are a good friend to have, Harry Potter,” Luna smiled. Harry quirked his upper lip and had to hold back a laugh. Luna had the ability to make a space brighter, happier. And he knew that she was being completely genuine, even though she was currently a fugitive, on the run secondary school drop out because of her friendship with him.
“You are a wonder, Luna. I am glad to have you by my side.”
“Oi! And who am I supposed to be?” Ron asked in mock offense.
“Oh, how could I forget about you, love of my life, Roonil Wazlib?” Harry said in his most dramatic voice. Hermione giggled, and they were for a moment lost in the moment of silliness. Suddenly a memory came to Harry, and he froze in the middle of a laugh, almost choking on it.
“Harry, are you OK?” Hermione asked in alarm.
He stared at them, eyes wide and blinking. “A diadem… a sort of tiara?” At Hermione and Luna’s nods Harry’s face breaks out into a grin. “I think I know exactly where that horcrux is. And I never thought I’d say this, but you can thank Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape for that, if you like.”
NUaHE NUaHE NUaHE
Luna was cautious about the thought of going back to Hogwarts. Going back to Hogwarts meant going back to Ginny, and they had not parted on the best of terms. They were not unfriendly — they were close enough friends for long enough that would never happen, she hoped — but things had been awkward for them, in the lead up to the winter holidays. In the face of war their friendship had grown to be more than a friendship, particularly in the summer months where Luna spent more time at the burrow than not, comforting Ginny as she dealt with the absence of Harry and the realization that Harry was no longer hers to have if he ever had been.
Upon their return to Hogwarts, things only got more intense, even as they got more complicated, when they all had to face the Carrows and the fact that Death Eaters and the Dark Arts now ruled the school. Luna, Ginny, and Neville banded together to form a new DA, aided by Winky and Dobby, and for a time it seemed they were holding their ground and holding each other. The issue came when Luna realized how much Ginny and Neville were holding each other and decided to leave them to it. She knew Ginny would have had no issue, and neither would she, but she feared Neville would, and so Luna took a step back.
Luna now wondered whether that was a misstep, but she had no way to ask until now, when they were forming a plan to enter the castle again. The easiest thing to do would be to have a house elf bring them, but the problem was that the room of requirement was currently being used as a meeting place and intermittent safe shelter for members of the DA, and so they would have to plan carefully. The trio had reasoned that if it were Neville or Ginny, they would be able to reasonably excuse themselves, but if it were a more general DA member there might be more uncomfortable questions. Luna did not know how to explain that it was exactly Neville and Ginny who she wished to avoid, and so found herself saying nothing.
She was particularly unsure because she did not know what her place was with the trio. Her own feelings toward Ginny had been thoroughly confused by her growing feelings for Hermione, who she had been sharing a bunk with in the past few weeks as it had been cold and the four of them had each been doubling up. She knew that the trio were together — it was painfully obvious that they loved each other, and they took no effort to hide it from her — but she could not help the way she herself felt, or the niggling feeling that her own emotions were not entirely unrequited.
Still, Luna refused to let herself get unfocused from the task and rejoined the conversation about the best way to reenter Hogwarts and investigate whether the tiara Harry remembered from the room of hidden things really was the lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw.
NUaHE NUaHE NUaHE
As it turned out, there was hardly a need to worry at all. In the months since the Carrows had arrived at Hogwarts and started their reign of terror, Neville and Ginny had become masters of the room of requirement and its manipulation. They were able to create new rooms within the room, and so while the members of the DA were in the main common area, the quartet arrived in what was currently functioning as one of the bedrooms for people who were staying in the Room of Requirement full time, in order to escape the Carrows.
“Oh, it’s so lovely to see you!” Hermione gushed, pulling Ginny and Neville each into a hug after they arrived.
“I’m glad to see the four of you in one piece as well,” Neville replied, returning her hug. “Hey Harry, Ron. Thanks for bringing them, Dobby.”
“It was a pleasure Mr. Neville,” Dobby grinned. “I’ll be off now. Let me know when you need to leave.”
“And how’s my favorite baby sister doing?” Ron asked as he ruffled Ginny’s hair. “I like the new do.”
Ginny had cut her hair into a short bob, which Luna thought was cute in a way that was entirely unfair.
“Ronald!” Ginny punched his arm. “Leave my hair alone.” She pulled him into a hug, and they all heard a muffled “you git!” from where her face was pressed against his chest.
“It’s good to see you too Nev, Ginny” Harry nodded, still not one for physical affection with anyone but Ron and Hermione.
Luna hung back awkwardly at first, unsure of what to say. Still, she pushed through it and smiled brightly. “Hello! Is this the part where we start planning to save Hogwarts? And the world, of course.”
“Well, those sound like good goals to me,” Ginny smiled, pulling away from Ron to smile back at Luna. A spark passed between them, and Luna was all the less sure of herself than before.
NUaHE NUaHE NUaHE
As it turned out, the bedroom was more than that, and had a small seating area that was just large enough for the six of them, and they were all able to get comfortable as they caught up with one another.
“The magic of this room is amazing ,” Hermione breathed. “I simply cannot believe that we never thought to explore it further when we were still students here ourselves.
“You can always come back,” Ginny pointed out. “It’s not like this year of camping in forests and riding dragons has exactly the same as a seventh-year education.”
“True,” Ron laughed. “Though we have been hitting the books, unfortunately.”
“Unfortunately?” Harry pinned him with a look. “Some of this studying has been your idea.”
“Studying? Ron’s idea?” Ginny asked incredulously.
“I study,” Ron replied defensively.
“Not voluntarily, mate. At least not before,” Neville laughed, before trailing off.
“A lot of things were different before,” Luna said quietly, but her voice carried.
They were all silent for a moment before Ginny forcefully broke the silence. “What are you even looking for here? Why did you come back? You’re on a mission from Dumbledore, and Hogwarts wasn’t a place that needed saving when he died.”
There was another heavy pause as the quartet, and particularly the trio looked at one another. Eventually it was Harry who spoke. Dumbledore had instructed him to be careful about those with whom he shared the secret of the horcruxes, but if he could not trust Ginny and Neville, who could he trust.
“During the third task, when You-Know-Who was resurrected, he made this giant speech about how powerful he was to his death eaters. It was horrible, to see him lording over all of them, to not be able to do a thing about it…” Harry trailed off. Hermione and Ron both grabbed his hands and he swallowed before continuing. “He said that he had gone ‘farther than anyone before him’ in seeking power and staying alive or something like that. And he has, because he created a series of horrible objects, called horcruxes, that bind his soul to this world. As long as the horcruxes exist, he cannot be killed. Dumbledore set us the mission to destroy them all, to defeat Voldemort.”
“And he was a shit for it,” Ron said bitterly.
“What?” Neville asked, startled, still trying to grasp the information.
“What Ron means ,” Hermione continued with pressed lips. “Is that Dumbledore left us with very little information, including none on how to actually destroy the horcruxes, and limited information on what the horcruxes might be, so we’ve sort of…”
“Been stumbling through things not sure of our direction. A lot of it has been luck and planning in circles,” Harry sighed, squeezing both Ron and Hermione’s hands before letting go and leaning back in his chair, running his hands through his hair, somehow succeeding in making it even more messy. “Continuous and successive shots in the dark. We’ve been able to help the order somewhat by feeding the information that Kreacher has acquired to the Order, but even then, we haven’t been able to do as much as we have wanted.”
“But you’re here now because…?” Ginny’s question was open-ended as she continued to process.
“One of them must be here,” Neville guessed.
“Yes,” Ron grimaced.
“In this room, we think. Or another version of it at least,” Hermione added. “Another… configuration if you will. But I don’t want to undo everything that you have set up here, especially when so many students are using it as a refuge.”
“Well…” Neville got a thoughtful look on his face, glad to have a tangible task on his hands. “Perhaps we could ask the room to create an extension of itself?”
“How do you mean, mate?” Ron questioned confusedly.
“No, but we could!” said Harry excitedly. “I think I get it! We could create a door to that room, within this room! Like how we have rooms that are offshoots from the main room already.”
“It’s definitely worth a try,” Ginny nodded along with the others, also relieved to have something she could actionably do. She could not imagine the way that the others had needed to simply sit around for so many months, in a tent unable to do anything with the information that they had.
“No time like the present,” Hermione said as she stood up.
“OK, probably the best way to do this is to find a bare piece of wall,” Ginny hummed, walking over to the wall of the bedroom. “One of you should try pacing here, act as though you are outside the room, and think of the room you want.”
“It should probably be you Harry, you know the room the best,” Luna nudged him, and Harry took a deep breath before pacing in front of the wall three times.
Each of them let out a relieved sigh when the door appeared.
“I can’t believe that actually worked,” Hermione said with a shaking laugh.
“Is that the right room Harry?” Luna asked as Harry opened the door.
“Yes,” he swallowed. “Onward?”
“Onward,” the others replied.
Author’s Note 2: Just because I’m not working on this fic doesn’t mean I’m not creating! I have other fics on this site that you can view on my profile, and I also have a fanfiction podcast. If any of you are interested in listening, please visit https://intothearchivespod.com/listen.