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Cartographer's Craft
Chapter 24

By copperbadge

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Harry didn't fully understand what Knightley meant by "mind the dust" until they were inside the restricted archives.

They'd presented the slip of parchment to a witch who scrutinised it carefully and ran two separate anti-forgery spells on it before taking out a complicated series of keys and unlocking the barred iron door that stood across from the much more unassuming wooden one which gave access to the regular archives. On the other side of the iron door was a small anteroom where they left everything but their clothing in a small locked safe; they were then searched more thoroughly than Harry had ever been in his life. When she was satisfied that neither of them were smuggling anything in, she gave them a small glass box containing a single quill, a vial rather than a pot of ink, and several sheets of parchment.

The inner door was shut firmly behind them and Harry found himself staring at what seemed to be a warehouse full of racks, each piled high with boxes and folders. The floor at first looked to be wood, but as Tonks moved forward he realised that it was stone covered in dust, dust at least an inch thick on the ground and only disturbed here and there by footprints. Most of the boxes had at least two inches of dust on their tops. He sneezed and a cloud of it enveloped him instantly.

"Watch out, Harry!" Tonks called from somewhere beyond the cloud. She cast a spell he didn't recognise and instantly the dust settled -- all over him. He shook his head and brushed at his arms. "Sorry, forgot you didn't know to do that."

"Guess they don't open this place very often," Harry said.

"Nope. Lots of the stuff in here is dangerous, or really dark," she answered, leading him down the aisles. "Normally it takes four weeks to get permission to even come in here."

"Lucky you know Knightley, then."

"Yeah," she said, turning right. "I didn't think it was worth the trouble when we had the inventory list, but sometimes you do just have to..." a left turn, "...see things in the flesh."

Harry glanced at the shelves. There was a large skull, much too big to be human, on one shelf. On another, an enormous eel twisted and circled endlessly in an aquarium. There was a whole rack of spears down an aisle they passed by on their way to a large, dirty sign reading "BLA - BLE". At the end of every shelf was a large table with a small indentation, apparently for the glass box to rest in.

"Here," Tonks said, ducking down an aisle. "Black, Black, Black...there's a lot of Black in here...Black, Black, Black, Black...Regulus."

She took down a pathetically small wooden box with a non-locking clasp and handed it to Harry. He carried it out to the table and set it down while she set down the glass box and opened it. Harry paused, taking a deep breath before flipping the clasp up and opening the lid. Dust puffed up as it slid off the top.

Inside were several labeled glass jars, each holding a single item. He almost laughed; it looked like the sort of jam sampler that Mrs. Jenkins would sell. They unpacked them all, then took the two fragmented pieces of wand out of the bottom of the box. Harry picked up the jar with the gold ring in it, unscrewing the lid. Tonks watched, cautiously.

"Don't put it on," she said. "You never know what's been cursed around here."

"I don't need to wear it," Harry answered, taking the quill out of the box and setting a piece of parchment in front of him. "I just need to know what it says."

He held it up with one hand while he copied out the shapes with the other, until he reached about the fourth character. Then he stopped and set down the quill, slowly.

"What idiot," he asked slowly, "wrote up the inventory report?"

"Why, what is it?" she asked, holding out her hand for the ring. He groaned and set it in her palm, and she examined it minutely.

"Are these what they look like?" she asked.

"Horoscope signs?" Harry asked angrily. "Yes. They are. Stupid -- idiot. It's a novelty ring."

She weighed the ring in her palm. "It doesn't look cheap, though. I mean, no, it's probably not of any great significance, but...finite incatatem," she said, aiming her wand at the ring. Nothing happened. "They're in's not even a code, I don't think." She looked at Harry. "What made you think of it?"

"A stupid hunch, that's all," Harry said sourly. He reached for the other jars and began repacking them. "I'm sorry I wasted your time, Tonks."

"It's not a waste of time. We're following leads. Lots of them die out," she said, helping him pack.

"Yeah, well -- hold on," he said, as she reached for the jar labeled Necklace - Broken - Pocket (L.F.). White beads rattled against the glass and he unscrewed the lid, emptying them into his hand. Most of them were still knotted onto the white nylon string, and they formed two strands which came together in a single line of beads, ending with a white plastic pendant, just like the inventory sheet had said.

Except it wasn't a necklace.

"Tonks, do you know what this is?" he asked, holding up the pendant. A tiny figure was molded onto it, arms splayed on the crossbar, body writhing on the upright.

"It looks familiar," she said uncertainly. "Isn't it a...Muggle thing?"

"It's a rosary," Harry said, turning the crucifix over. On the back was a little stamp. St. Dismas Ministry. Made in China. "What the hell was Regulus Black doing with a broken rosary in his pocket?"

"It's not something he'd carry, is it?" she asked. "Is it a good-luck charm?"

"Not really...I don't think he'd have one was given to him," Harry said, brow furrowing. He copied down the name, St. Dismas. "He might have thought it was like a good-luck charm, though. It'd look like that to someone who didn't know much."

"Do you think he might have got it the night he died?"

"Or not long before," Harry agreed. "I need to...I think I need to look at a telephone directory."


Remus came home that evening to find Tonks and Harry bent over a large map of London with a number of flimsy sheets of paper scattered around them. The map had been drawn on extensively in red ink, mostly with small circles and odd names. There was, however, a not-untalented doodle in one corner of what he took to be Tonks hexing the hell out of some poor sod, hopefully not himself.

"Productive day?" he asked from the kitchen doorway. Dinner was, once more, nowhere in evidence.

"Yes," Harry said. "We nicked your ink."

"I see that," he answered. "Why?"

"Harry thinks he knows where Regulus might have gone before he died," Tonks said. "Do you know anything about churches in London?"

"Not really. Churches? Like the one above the Gaunt Crypt?"

"The necklace on the inventory sheet wasn't a necklace," Harry said. "It was a rosary. It's really cheap, the sort they give out for free."

"We're going church-stalking tomorrow," Tonks announced. "Starting at Grimmauld Place and working our way out. Want to come?"

Remus smiled a little at their enthusiasm. "I'll put some dinner on," he said.


Sirius was all for church-stalking in London when he arrived for breakfast the following day. He wasn't keen on going through Grimmauld Place to get to London, but once they were out in the dingy street outside the house, he ran on ahead with Harry while Remus and Tonks walked more sedately -- and at a far better pace, if they were going to be on their feet all day.

"What are you going to ask?" Remus had inquired over dinner the night before. "It's not likely they'll remember one boy, twenty years ago."

"We can try," Harry said. "And maybe he left...a message or something. And we can ask about St. Dismas, whoever he was."

Remus had looked skeptical, but at least it was doing something. He knew how Harry fretted that things weren't moving fast enough, weren't working out as quickly as he'd like.

Now Harry and Sirius were standing on the corner, bent over the map, studying which way to turn. Sirius pointed left, and they disappeared from sight momentarily in the direction of a church spire down the block.

"How many churches do you think we ought to let them invade before they realise what hard work this is?" Remus asked. Tonks grinned.

"They'll wear themselves out soon enough."

"How many Catholic churches can there be in London?"

"Lots," she sighed.

They caught up to Harry and Sirius just as the boys were standing outside the front entrance of the church, debating about how to proceed. Sirius was all for opening the door and barging in; Harry thought they ought to knock, maybe. Remus solved the problem by tugging on the locked door.

"Well, there's probably a back entrance," Tonks said reasonably.

They learned a lot about back entrances in the next few hours. They walked parts of the distance and took the Tube for others when they could. At nearly every church they visited there was someone who tried to help them; usually it meant them asking someone else, who would ask yet someone else, until finally someone would appear who could tell them that no, they had no record of anyone coming here, and they didn't give out rosaries. They were, by and large, very kind people, but they were not very helpful in the long run.

"I don't suppose they'd feed us lunch?" Sirius said, as they trooped up the steps of a rather shabby-looking church with a sign pointing the way to a soup kitchen nearby. "I'm famished."

"You're rich," Harry pointed out.

"So're you."

"Well, we'll give them a donation then," Sirius said grandly, knocking at a little door labeled Office. It opened and a white-haired man in a collar and a black shirt peered out.

"Hi," Sirius said. "Sorry to be a bother, but I'm -- "

"Dead," the man blurted.

This was definitely not the expected response.

" I'm not," he said uneasily. The priest covered his face with one hand.

"Of course not, I'm so sorry," he said. "You just -- reminded me of someone I -- well, how may I help you?"

"No -- who?" Sirius asked. The man shook his head.

"We're looking for someone," Harry interrupted. "Or...something."

"Come in," the man said, standing aside. They filed into the small office, almost filling it. Harry nudged Sirius' ribs; behind the priest's desk was a cardboard carton with a white rosary hanging off the edge.

"We're looking for information on someone who died twenty years ago," Harry said awkwardly. "He left behind a white plastic rosary, we think it was given to him not long before he was killed. It was stamped with St. Dismas Ministries on the back..."

The priest raised his eyes to a poster on the wall. It was elderly and crumbling, a rather bad drawing of three crosses on a hill, a light shining from one of them. St. Dismas Guide Us was written in fancy font underneath.

"I think perhaps you are looking for your father?" he asked Sirius. "The resemblance is striking."

"My..." Sirius trailed off.

"Let me see, twenty years ago, yes...I remember him."

"How?" Sirius asked.

"Well, that is a story," the man said warily. "Please...let me show you our sanctuary. This office is rather small for five people."

He unlocked a door behind him and led them through, into a corridor and through a doorway which led to the front of the church.

"We minister to a great many of the needy, as I'm sure you saw," he said as they walked. "We once had a small ministry called the St. Dismas Ministry, which worked with prisoners who had either lost faith or...found it again. St. Dismas, you know, was a thief himself, the patron of the penitent criminal."

"So we've been told," Remus said.

"A folk saint, but nevertheless a symbol of great compassion for those who yearn for forgiveness."

"Regulus," Sirius murmured.

"I was not surprised the young man was drawn here. He clearly regretted his theft quite deeply."

"Theft?" Remus asked, inspecting the pews idly.

"Yes...he came to me, you see, rather late one night, terribly afraid that the wrath of some supernatural beast was going to descend upon him. He had stolen something of great value..." the man's voice trailed off. "I remember him quite clearly because I told him not to fear demons and the practitioners of evil if he walked with God, and I gave him, as you say, the rosary..."

He sat in one of the pews. Sirius hovered around him, nervously fidgeting.

"...and then he walked out into the street, and I -- he was killed by a -- it was not earthly doing, and I only barely recall."

"Avada kedavra," Harry said. The man stared at him.

"How do you -- "

"Please," Tonks urged. "You saw him killed?"

"I saw it -- four men, and a flash of green light. But then he and they vanished, and the police don't like to listen to the ravings of an hysterical priest," he said. "With nearly no evidence to back it up, and strange things do happen amongst the dispossessed...but..." he hesitated. "You know the young man's name and clearly you are...aware of his circumstances, so perhaps..."

He stood again and walked to the front of the sanctuary, opening a small door off to the left. They followed him into a tiny, dimly-lit room.

"He told me that this object he had stolen was the container in which a man's soul might be held," he said. "My research has turned up very little on the subject of this grail, but it was so clearly an object of some age and merit...possibly a reliquary..."

He removed a bright red cover from a small glass case, and Harry sucked in a breath. He could feel the darkness on the object.

"To be frank, I've never been at ease with it," the priest said. "But as no one has ever claimed it, not even the museums..."

The little cup sat on a painted wooden stand under cloudy, cheap plexiglass. It was not the glorious gold of the Hufflepuff cup -- it looked as though it had been carved from wood -- but it was identical in every detail.

"He left a letter..." the man opened a small drawer in the stand and took out a faded, dusty piece of folded parchment, sealed with wax. Sirius held his hand up to the seal, pressing the Black sealing ring to the wax. It was a perfect fit.

"I suppose that gives you the right to read it," the priest said, handing it to him. Sirius lifted the seal carefully. The parchment, aged as it was, tore along the crease when he unfolded it.

"To the finder of this letter I entrust the destruction of the Hufflepuff cup because it is a horcrux and I have given my life to secure it," he read. "I am being chased by the Death Eaters and they will find me before long. I hope to leave the cup in a safe place but if you find it and you can't understand this letter please deliver it to Sirius Black care of James Potter at the address below since he will know what to do and will reward you for returning the cup to him. I ask you in Merlin's name destroy this cup before its creator destroys us all. Yrs sincerely R.A.B."

"Do you understand it all?" the priest asked.

"Yes," Sirius answered. "There's more...Dear Sirius, Please destroy this cup or ask Dumbledore what a horcrux is, he will know and help you. I do not know how many more there are but at least one, a locket I have hidden at Grimmauld Place. I hope I have finally been of some use and you were right. Love your brother Reg."

"He wants it destroyed?" the priest said, horrified. "Such a beautiful work of art?"

Sirius put the letter carefully in his pocket.

"I'm afraid we need to take the cup from you," Remus said. "I'm sorry about this."

"But you can't possibly believe -- "

"Obliviate," Sirius said quietly, and the priest's face went slack. Remus took him by the elbow and led him out the door.

The case wasn't even locked; Harry simply pulled on the little handle and lifted the cup from its stand. The hairs on the back of his neck raised as he touched it and he passed it to Tonks as soon as he could.

"I'm taking it back directly -- I'll see you at the house," she said, Disapparating with a crack. Sirius, who was flexing his fingers compulsively, still stared at the empty case. Harry dragged him out and shut the door hastily behind them.

"Thank you again," Remus was saying. "I'm sure it's been very well looked after, but the British Museum will be able to care for it much more thoroughly, don't you agree? I'll be in touch if we have any questions."

"Yes, yes," the priest said vaguely. "Well done, so glad to see it properly cared for."

When they were back out on the street, Harry turned to Remus. "Tonks took it straight back -- did you feel it?"

"Yes," Remus said. "Let's not linger. Sirius, are you all right?"

"I want to go home," Sirius said simply.


Tonks had cleared off the kitchen table and placed the cup there by the time they returned through the Grimmauld Place floo. She was thumbing through a book of concealment spells stolen from Remus' room.

"He was a clever bugger, your brother," she said to Sirius. "It's the real cup, all right, but he glamoured it pretty thoroughly."

"Not too clever to get killed," Sirius said, going to the cabinet and taking down a wine glass. He was reaching for a bottle of wine when Harry grasped his wrist lightly and shook his head. Sirius looked from Harry to the bottle and nodded, putting the glass back. He took down a tumbler in its place and filled it with water.

"At least he died for a reason," Remus said gently. "You -- your counterpart -- died thinking that your brother was a traitor and a fool. Now you know he was...a hero of sorts. Perhaps not the best hero there ever was, but now Regulus has a second chance, as well. To be known as something more than a failure."

"Speaking of success, I forgot in all the madness," Tonks said. "Harry, I didn't tell either of them about the egg, did you?"

"Oh -- no!" Harry said, looking guilty. He took the little egg out of his pocket, offering it up for inspection. "Tonks found out what the rock is that Regulus left behind. She thinks it's a phoenix egg."

"Really?" Remus asked, fascinated. He took the egg out of Harry's hand and examined it. "Unhatched? How do you suppose he got hold of it?"

"Dunno," Harry said, as Remus passed the egg to Sirius. "We don't even know why he left it. I's not exactly the most useless thing to give someone, is it? You'd think he wouldn't want to help Voldemort."

"It's a taunt," Sirius said suddenly. They all looked at him. He held the egg up between thumb and forefinger. "Phoenixes are immortal; when they die they're reborn."

"And Voldemort isn't -- or wasn't -- or wouldn't be anymore, once the horcrux was destroyed," Tonks said. "Oh, he thinks like a Black, he does."

Sirius smiled wanly at that. "Such a simple, natural little thing, doing what the Dark Lord couldn't." He closed his hand around the egg and placed it in Harry's palm again. "I like him a lot better now than I ever did when he was alive."

"Kingsley sent me to someone who figured out what it was. He's interested in seeing it again -- he thinks he can hatch it," Tonks said. "And uh..." she looked uneasy.

"What is it?" Remus asked.

"Well, he's sort of an expert in magical ephemera. Cursed books, ancient scrolls, early Wizarding photography, that sort of thing. And charmed maps..." she said. "I thought maybe he might...understand how...Sirius happened. Or know how to find out."

Sirius touched his back pocket protectively; he could feel the map, solid and tightly folded.

"I don't want some stranger mucking about with my map," he said firmly.

"I didn't tell him about it," Tonks said defensively. "But I thought if you wanted to bring it with you if we go back, you could, and let him have a look at it."

"I'll come with," Sirius said, "but I'm not giving him the map."

"You let Harry use the map," Remus put in.

"I trust Harry. Besides, he understands it already."

"Well, we can sort that out later," Tonks said. "Really, to him the important thing is the egg. Would you mind him trying to hatch it, Harry?"

Harry chewed his lip thoughtfully. "What if he hatches it and it's that horrible thing you talked about? The thing that isn't a phoenix?"

"It's not a black egg," Tonks said reasonably. "It ought to be just a normal phoenix. Anyway, he's not open on Sundays so if we want to bring Sirius along, it'll have to be next week. Or Thursday night," she suggested. "If you can get away before dinner, we could eat in Diagon and then go down to see him. He's in Mardjinn, just where it connects to Knockturn."

"Better make it Saturday," Remus said. "My seventh-years have an assignment due Wednesday and I'm going to try to get them all marked before the weekend."

"Full moon, Friday after next," Sirius said.

"That's right, which means you'll be teaching most of that week. It looks like they'll return a verdict on Greyback sometime this coming week, too," Remus said. "Which means the next moon could be very....tense. For all of us. I'm going to suggest to Minerva that guards be posted at Hogwarts."

"They wouldn't try anything with Fenrir gone, would they?" Tonks asked.

"I don't know. I don't know who's leading his pack now. I'd be tempted to go back, but at this point my cover is rather shot to hell," Remus said with a small smile. "I suspect, if it's going to be someone else who wants to make trouble, we'll find out soon enough."

"Well, I'm knackered," Harry said. "And tired of talking. I say jolly well done for us finding the cup, and I'm going to go beg scones and jam off Mrs. Jenkins. Want to come?" he said, turning to Sirius, but Padfoot already stood before him, tongue lolling out. "Guess that's a yes. We'll bring you back some mango preserves," he said to Remus and Tonks, pushing open the kitchen door. It shut behind them with a slam, and Remus leaned back in his chair, stretching.

"He's right, you know," she said. "Well done us."

"Yes...I think we deserve a reward, don't you?" he asked. She ruffled his hair.

"Have anything in mind?"

"One or two ideas," he replied. "If you're willing to lock up the cup for a bit and come help me try them out."

"Do elaborate, Professor."

He picked up the cup and carried it to the shelf where the locket lay, placing it next to the other horcrux. He paused, fingers resting on the shelf, and she wrapped her arms around his shoulders from behind.

"Strange how objects can seem so evil," he said quietly. "There's a terrible symmetry in these; two destroyed, two in our possession, two still free out in the world."

She contemplated the horcruxes, her chin resting on his shoulder. "Remus..."


"Do you know what the sixth horcrux is?"

He nodded. "I have suspicions."

"Is there a reason you haven't told Harry yet?"

"I don't want to be right." He shrugged out of her embrace and turned, pulling her close. "Let's not think about it anymore today."

She kissed him, almost startled at how intently he returned the kiss. It felt like it had been after Sirius' death -- desperation to remember that they were real people, that Sirius was dead but they were still alive. She didn't even realise that they'd been moving towards the bedroom until he shut the door to the kitchen behind them.

As much as she loved having her privacy and a place to go that was all her own, she was beginning to prefer his poky little bedroom in Fourteen Back to her own flat. She spent so much of her time in shadows, peering around corners and running through cold dark streets -- digging through archives full of Dark objects and writing reports late into the night -- that the brightly-lit, wood-paneled room was comforting even without Remus in it. Safe refuge from the world.

"It's the middle of the afternoon," she said, even as she began to unbutton his shirt.

"Well, there aren't any Quidditch games on the Floo network," he answered, and she laughed. "I had to find some way to keep you entertained."

"Is that what this is?" she asked. He let her push his sleeves down to his wrists before he shed the shirt entirely and pulled hers over her head.

"You'll have to tell me if I'm boring you," he said, wrapping one arm around her waist and kissing her neck.

"Definitely not boring," she replied.

"So noted," he said, and she laughed again and pulled him towards the bed.


Note: Another illustration! Bluejeans07 drew Young and Old Sirius, reflecting each other in the map. Which is interesting, since chapter 25 is very much about reflections, mirror images, and the contrast between what was and what will be.

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