The next day
The Doctor was sitting in the kitchen eating porridge when Hermione emerged from her room the next morning. She looked like she had hardly slept, but she was carrying a silent jewellery box and her sixth year charms book.
She put the box down on the counter, pointed her wand at it and read some long Latin incantation from her book.
The box clicked open.
Hermione smiled, satisfied. “Took me nine hours to work that one out.”
“You’ve done magnificently,” the Doctor told her. “What was that? The spell?”
“Sixteenth-century ownership revoking charm. It used to be used to switch slaves from one master to another,” she said, her nose wrinkling. “The spell used to create ownership is still used today on house-elves. That would explain how Malfoy knew it.”
“But Dobby doesn’t work for the Malfoys anymore,” the Doctor said.
“The Malfoys are wealthy enough to have more than one house-elf.” Hermione closed her textbook and set it aside. “Well--what are you waiting for? Open it!”
“Maybe we should get Ron, first.” The Doctor didn’t want Ron feeling left out and overlooked. He remembered enough from the books to know that was why Ron had left Harry and Hermione in the first place. He was going to make sure that wouldn’t happen in this timeline.
Hermione agreed. She went to wake him while the Doctor stared at the jewellery box, trying to work out its secrets.
Why would Draco Malfoy have the locket? Why would it be in a jewellery box apparently belonging to him? Why would he have given that jewellery box, and the locket inside it, to Borgin and Burke’s as a surety?
The last was perhaps easier to answer. When Malfoy had worked on the Vanishing Cabinets the year before, he must have needed to assure Borgin that he wasn’t going to abscond with half the shop’s goods, or break the Cabinets. Borgin must have demanded precious Malfoy heirlooms and artefacts as surety for Malfoy’s good behaviour.
But why Malfoy hadn’t bothered to come back and reclaim the jewellery box, especially now Voldemort and the Death Eaters were in power and Malfoy could walk around freely, the Doctor wasn’t sure.
Just one more question to add to the pile, he thought.
Hermione returned with a groggy Ron in tow. They all sat around the breakfast counter, wands out and shielding spells ready just in case.
The Doctor opened the jewellery box.
Three shields sprung to life in front of the three of them. But nothing--no curses or jinxes or hexes--attacked them.
They dropped their shield spells. “Apparently Malfoy thought that just the ownership spell on the box would be enough to keep people from getting at his things,” Hermione said.
Ron snorted. “Tosser.”
The Doctor pulled the jewellery box closer and picked through its contents. Almost everything was stamped with the Malfoy crest. Rings, letter openers, a small dagger, necklaces, pocket watches, an armband… the box is a lot bigger on the inside, he thought, amused.
They laid everything out on the bench. At the very bottom of the small compartment, they found what they were looking for.
Salazar Slytherin’s locket.
Hermione pulled it out almost reverently--or perhaps more like it was a dangerous animal that could bite at any moment. She looked pale when it was in her hand. “There is definitely something wrong with this.”
The Doctor took it from her.
Immediately, he knew what she was talking about. He could feel the piece of Voldemort’s soul inside the locket, waiting to wrap around their necks and drag them into the depths of despair. “No,” he told the locket firmly, and dropped it back inside the jewellery box. “Until we know what to do with it,” he told Ron and Hermione.
“Agreed,” Hermione said, faintly.
“What’s the big deal? It’s a locket,” said Ron. “If we want it to be safe at all times, we should wear it.”
“No. Definitely not.” The Doctor had never seen the sense in that plan in the book and he wasn’t going to ascribe to it now. “It’s safe enough on the TARDIS, in this box.”
Hermione hesitated, then nodded. “It has a piece of You-Know-Who’s soul inside it, Ron. We don’t want to be touching it.”
Ron reluctantly agreed.
After breakfast, they returned to the console room.
The jewellery box was safely hidden in the Doctor’s bedroom. Hopefully the TARDIS would keep anyone from finding that particular room if they did manage to invade her. No one had seen his bedroom for over seven hundred years and he was intending to keep it that way.
The sheet of butcher’s paper now bore some modifications.
“I think we need to go to Hogwarts,” Ron said. “We need to know more about Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. We have to find out if the diadem even exists, let alone whether it’s a Horcrux or not, and what You-Know-Who could have used to make the Hufflepuff Horcrux. Before we make a plan, we need more information.”
The Doctor nodded. Then he paused. “Hermione, you were looking at the portrait of Helga Hufflepuff, weren’t you? When we were in Borgin and Burke’s the first time, in 1927?”
She thought back to the previous day. “Yeah, yes. I was. I don’t think she wore much jewellery,” she said doubtfully. “No rings or necklaces. I checked for that.”
“Was she holding anything? Gryffindor was holding the Sword, which was arguably his most precious possession,” the Doctor pointed out.
Hermione thought about it.
“Funny how You-Know-Who didn’t try to take the Sword,” Ron said in the silence. “I guess he didn’t want his soul to touch anything Gryffindor.”
“Maybe Dumbledore wouldn’t let him get anywhere near the Sword,” the Doctor suggested.
Hermione finally said, “I think she was holding a cup.”
The Doctor--Harry--remembered something about a cup. Hepzibah Smith had showed Tom Riddle a golden cup when he had gone to see her about the locket…
“A cup?” Ron scoffed. “That’s Hufflepuffs for you. Downright oddballs.”
“It was a goblet, I think,” she went on, after scowling at Ron. “Golden. It had her crest on it, the badger.”
“Hufflepuff’s cup,” Ron snorted.
That sent another bolt of unwanted memory through the Doctor’s brain, and he doubled over, slamming his hands to his head like he could squeeze out the pain.
The Doctor dropped to his knees and Hermione fell down beside him. “What’s wrong?” she said, panicked. “Harry, you’ve got to tell us what’s going on!”
But the Doctor could barely breathe, let alone answer her. He struggled to consciously force the headache back and away. Usually he had such mental control that this was easy enough. He was many years out of practice, though, and this headache was very insistent.
Gradually, the pain began to recede, like waves washing out further and further away from the shore.
Finally, he was able to drag in a deep breath, and open his eyes.
Hermione, her arms wrapped around him, let her soothing noises fade away. Ron stopped frantically paging through a book on healing charms, and looked at the Doctor, uncertain and worried. “Harry, mate--” he said, then he stopped. “I mean. Doctor. Is this, does this happen to you a lot?”
The Doctor shook his head, wincing as pain stabbed through his temple again. “Just since getting my memory back. I think there’s things I’m not supposed to remember.”
“Not supposed to?” Hermione echoed.
“About this place. I don’t think I’m supposed to remember what hasn’t actually happened yet.”
“But you’re a time traveller,” she pointed out. “Surely you remember things that haven’t happened yet all the time.”
He laughed, but the laugh was hollow. “It’s usually all right, yeah. Don’t know what’s going on.”
She sighed softly and kept rubbing his back. “We’ll figure something out.”
“At least we know we’re right,” the Doctor mumbled, leaning into her hand.
“What do you mean?” Ron said.
“If I wasn’t supposed to remember Ravenclaw’s diadem--” throb, throb, “--then it happening again when we said Hufflepuff’s cup--” throb, “--probably means I’m not supposed to remember it, either. So we’re on the right track.”
Hermione chewed on her lip. “I suppose it’s the best guess we’ve got… and I suppose that means you’re probably not going to be able to remember the seventh Horcrux, or where any of them are.”
The Doctor shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said miserably.
She stroked his hair. “It’s all right. Shh. We’ll work it out, won’t we, Ron?” she said, looking at him.
Ron busied himself in the textbook, but just before he did, the Doctor noticed the expression of flat out longing on his face. He remembered it all too well from Rory, from Martha, from dozens of other lovesick people he’d met in his years. Ron was envious of the attention Hermione was paying the Doctor.
The Doctor would have to deal with that later. For the moment, he needed to close his eyes and let his headache recede naturally.
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