A/N: Thank you all so much for your reviews, favorites and follows! I am glad that you all liked the last chapter, with the mating finally happening, lol. We only have a few chapters left, unfortunately, so you know this is gonna be jam packed. I hope you enjoy what I've got this time. You can follow me on tumblr (nauticalparamour) where I post sneak peeks, story updates and answer questions. Also, this week, I will be posting a lot of Fenrir x Hermione oneshots, so please check those out if you are interested.
Please let me know what you thought of chapter thirty-three and be on the lookout for chapter thirty-four soon!
The following morning, Hermione would have liked nothing more than to spend the morning languishing in Theo's strong arms, feeling his body pressed against hers. The night before had been far better than she ever imagined and her heart was exploding with the knowledge that Theo was well and truly hers forever now. Instead, she found herself seated by the smug werewolf at Fleur's breakfast table, eagerly shoveling perfectly scrambled eggs into her mouth while Ron gave Theo a death glare.
"These are really delicious, Fleur," Hermione complimented the other witch. "Thank you."
"So, while you two were away yesterday," Harry said, clearing his throat, trying not to look too embarrassed, even though everyone knew what Hermione and Theo had gotten up to the day prior. "Ron and I talked over what happened yesterday at Malfoy Manor."
"Yeah, like, didn't you notice how freaked out Bellatrix was that we might have been inside of her vault?" Ron asked, taking a bite of some crusty bread. "She was furious about it, enough to torture us before calling You-Know-Who to get to the bottom of it."
"We were thinking...what could she have in there that would scare her so much that she wouldn't even tell Voldemort about having found me?" Harry asked, eyes wild and bright. "Maybe she was meant to hold onto something for him...maybe even a horcrux."
"So we were thinking...we need a way to get into her vault," Ron said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"That's brilliant!" Hermione said to the two boys, impressed that they had been able to puzzle that out all on their own. "So...getting into Gringotts...how is that done?"
"Bill, can you help us out?" Ron asked, looking to his older brother for assistance. "Don't you have some kind of like...goblin friends that can let us in?"
Bill snorted, looking at Ron as if he'd grown another head. "I'm sorry it won't be that easy, Ron," Bill said, rolling his eyes. "Even if the goblins had friends, they take security extremely seriously, especially with people like the Lestranges. Their vaults will be in the lowest levels of the bank, with every measure of security - I don't even know all of them. They wouldn't dream of letting you in to one of them."
"I know about all the measures of security," Theo said, looking between the room full of Gryffindors. "I've been going to Gringotts with my father since I was a child. We can get into Gringotts."
"What do you suggest?" Hermione asked, biting her lower lip, looking extremely concerned about the prospect after the bleak picture that Bill had painted.
"We will just walk in and pretend like we are going to my vault," Theo said coolly. "And then we can make a pitstop at the Lestrange vault. The rest of you can just put on a glamour so they don't recognize you."
"And the thief's downfall?" Bill asked, sounding a bit skeptical.
Theo shrugged his shoulders. "We can sort that out when we get there," he lied smoothly, knowing that the trio would not enjoy his methods for getting through it.
Once Harry had heard Theo's plans to get into the Lestrange vault, nothing could dissuade him from going along with it. Even Ron was so focused on finding the next horcrux that he was waving off Bill and Fleur's protestations. Somehow, the four teenagers found themselves hidden in the alley behind Gringott's with Hermione hastily preparing glamours for all of them.
If the goblins thought it was odd for Theodore Nott to show up flanked by several other people, they didn't say anything. Instead, they didn't even look up from their ledgers until Theo was towering over the Head Goblin's desk, looking down at him with an imperious sneer, reminding Hermione very much of Draco Malfoy or even Professor Snape. "I would like to be taken to my vault immediately."
"Without your father, young mister Nott?" the Goblin asked, still scratching away with his pen.
"Of course without my father. I am of age, aren't I?" Theo snapped back at him. "Now take me to my vault or does the Nott family need to cease business with Gringotts bank?" Threatening to remove what was certainly a sizable fortune from the bank got the goblin's full attention and before Hermione knew it, they were being ushered into a tiny cart, all four of them and the goblin.
Hermione was happy to be next to Theo, with his arm held tightly around her so that the jostling of the cart didn't affect her too much, but she still had to bite her tongue every time that Harry's knees jammed into her spine. She gripped Theo's arm when she noticed the huge waterfall that they were barreling towards. "What's that?" she shouted to him over the metallic sound of the wheels on the tracks.
"Thief's downfall," Theo said tersely. "Don't worry, I will handle it." He already had his wand out, resting against his knee while they barreled closer and closer towards the waterfall.
When they went through the water and Hermione could feel the glamour slipping off of her. Unfortunately for Hermione, Harry and Ron, the goblin noticed it immediately. "Undesirables! You dared to bring Undesirables into the Gringotts? We goblins want no part in your Ministry's wars!"
"Imperio!" Theo cast the spell, before anyone had any time to react. They all watched as a pleased, unbothered sort of look come over his face.
"Theo!" Harry scolded with a shocked look on his face. "That's an Unforgivable curse."
Hermione turned to look at her friend, biting her lower lip. "Harry, in this case, I think it's necessary, no matter how detestable I find it. Desperate times call for desperate measures," she said, feeling rather bad about it. Still, she knew that this was the only way they would be able to get the horcrux if it was in the Lestrange vault.
The boys looked like they wanted to protest more, but then they really considered the options before them. If they were going to get the horcrux that they hoped was in the vault, this was the way it was going to have to be.
The air grew colder and danker the deeper they got into the vault, until Hermione swore she could feel the change in pressure around them building. Just when she thought it was impossible for them to go any lower, the cart screeched to a halt outside of the Nott family vault. They stepped out of the cart and onto the stone platform. The goblin stepped forward, ready to place his hand on the door to let them in, only to have Theo give him a different command. "We need to make a quick stop off somewhere else. Take us to the Lestrange vault," he said sternly.
The goblin brought them three vaults down, hesitating for a moment, as if he were trying to fight off the curse, but in the end, he was unable to stop the compulsion from letting them in. "I'll wait out here with him," Theo told the other three. "But be careful - they will have all sorts of curses on their things. Try not to touch anything."
The three Gryffindors entered the vault cautiously, amazed by all the galleons that they found just laying about inside. Harry grimaced as soon as he crossed the threshold. "It's definitely in here," he said, gritting his teeth.
"Accio horcrux!" Hermione tried, hoping that it would bring the cursed object to her hand, but to her disappointment, it didn't.
Harry was looking around wildly, being as he was most attuned to Voldemort's magical signature, trying to find the horcrux. It was practically singing to him, eager to take advantage of someone after being locked away for so long. Finally, his eyes settled on a golden cup balanced precariously at the top of a pile of candelabra. He was about to begin climbing when Hermione remembered the warning.
"Wait!" she called, grabbing his shoulder. "Theo said not to touch anything," she reminded him, before grabbing a bobby pin out of her hair. Transfiguring it into a long sort of hook, she handed it to her bespectacled friend to try and fish the Cup down.
It worked better than expected and before she knew it, the golden thing was clattering down to the floor. Triumphant, Harry picked it up with a grin on his face, only to immediately drop it, hissing in pain. "It burned me!" Harry groaned, watching in horror as the cup quickly split in two. Bending down to pick up the real Cup, he hissed at the burning pain in his hand, only to want it continue to split. Every time one of the fake cups were touched it would split again and again.
"We need to get out of here!" Hermione called, realizing that it was copying itself at an exponential rate and the window they had to safely escape was growing narrower and narrower. Pushing Ron and Harry ahead of her, Hermione began to run towards the entrance of the huge vault, until her foot caught on one of the duplicate cups, making her fall. Sprawled out, she cried out when the metal made contact with her skin, burning her.
"Hermione!" Ron called, falling back to help pick her up. Hermione was grateful to have his help to right her to her feet, holding onto his hand while they fought to catch up with Harry, both incredibly aware of the cascade of fake cups that was closing in behind them.
Just as they could see the entrance to the vault again - Theo looking worriedly inside for them - Hermione could feel hope surging her in her chest. She was full of relief when she saw Harry exit the vault with the horcrux safely in hand. A laugh bubbled up in her throat when she realized that they had actually done it! They had gotten another horcrux!
Her and Ron were just about to make it out of the vault themselves when she felt Ron's hand ripped out of her grip. Turning her head, she watched as his legs were quickly swallowed up from the fake cups, steadily piling up around him until all she could see of him was his reaching hand.
"Weasley!" Theo growled, taking a few steps into the vault, pushing Hermione to safely. He grabbed onto the redhead's forearm and gave a great heave, pulling him from the metal pile. When Ron was free he was gasping for air, blue eyes looking wildly at Theo. The werewolf didn't give up and quickly pulled the other man to safety, slamming the door to the vault behind him.
Ron sat on the ground, breathing heavily, before looking up at his competition for Hermione's heart with confusion on his face. "You saved me," he said, looking at the Slytherin with admiration in his eyes. "Thank you," he said sincerely, forcing himself to acknowledge Theo as an ally for the first time.
Theo gave a tight nod. "You would have done the same for me," he said, even though it was unclear if that would be the case. Still, he wouldn't throw Weasley's begrudging respect back in his face. "Let's take care of this fucking thing right now," he said, keeping a wary eye on the goblin, making sure that the imperious curse hadn't lifted.
Harry gratefully dropped the cup on the ground, glad that it had stopped duplicating itself. Theo conjured the fiendfyre dispassionately, the horcrux's words no longer having any sway over him now that he was certain that Hermione was his mate for true. The death of the horcrux seemed almost anticlimactic after the trouble it had been to get it out of the vault, but none of the teenagers would complain about a little simplicity.
Once it was gone, they all clambered back into the cart, ready to get back to the surface. Hermione ducked under Theo's arm, wanting to be as close as possible to her mate, glad that she had them. "When we get back to the lobby, we will need to run," he told them. "The other goblins will notice something is amiss right away."