Harry Potter and the Golden Sepulcher–Chapter 12

Here it is.  The final completed chapter in my abandoned Harry Potter Book 8. And, since I’m sadistic that way, I will probably do a post describing, in extremely vague detail, some of the exciting chapters that I will, in all likelihood, never write.

Still, thank you to everyone who had commented about the story.  It is far from my best writing, but I had great fun working on it and it taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t.  In addition, I met my best friend through this story, which counts as a win to me any day.

(NOTE:  Posting from my phone again, so pardon any mistakes or formatting problems.)

Chapter 12—The Missing Chapter

The three of them appeared on a hill overlooking the Burrow. It was still some distance to the Lovegood house, but Ron insisted on stopping by his parents’ home to pick up something he claimed would be vital to answering the riddle of the ankh. He rushed off, disappearing a few minutes later through the kitchen door.

“I wonder if it’s a book,” Hermione said after Ron had entered the house. “Maybe he saw an ankh somewhere while he was studying for the N.E.W.T.’s.”

Harry raised an eyebrow and looked at her.

“Okay,” Hermione said. “Not a book, then.”

They waited in silence at the top of the hill. Hermione seemed lost in thought, still apparently trying to decide what Ron thought was so important. Harry stared at the grounds surrounding the Weasley house, recalling the times he had spent there. His mind wandered from Bill’s and Fleur’s wedding to two-on-two Quidditch matches in the orchard to amusing hours spent degnoming the garden. A wry grin stretched curled the corners of his mouth as he could almost see his twelve-year-old self, slinging little gnomes over the fence into the field beyond.

As he was studying the garden, though, he saw movement that was not from his own imagination. He squinted, but could not see clearly what had caught his attention. Taking his wand out, he held it the point to the bridge of his nose.


He felt a slight wave of vertigo as the garden seemed to sweep toward him. Soon, he was eyeing the overgrown flower beds as though from a few feet away instead of nearly half a mile. Taking a moment to orient himself, he tried to find the place where he had seen the movement and saw a mane of red hair amidst a mass of begonias.

Ginny sat alone among the flowers. Harry could not see her face from where he stood, but her head looked bowed as though in prayer. Next, he scanned the scene for some sign of Dean Thomas, but saw no one around Ginny and breathed a sigh of relief that he did not have to see her with him again. He knew the blame for her going with Dean was all his, but he could not help but feel angry when he saw the two of them together, their relationship reminding him so much of the feelings he had harbored for her during his sixth year.

A flash of light caught his attention and drew him away from his reminiscing. Focusing on the source of the illumination, he increased the magnification of the spell, turning his wand like he might adjust a pair of binoculars, until he saw her hand holding something shiny and knew at once what it was–the diamond necklace he had given her, the one he had thrown at her feet in a fit of anger.

Ending the spell, he started to go down the hill to the garden to see her, to tell her that she should be with him and not Dean Thomas, but a hand on his arm halted his progress.

“Oh, not yet, Harry.”

Hermione was holding his upper arm, gently pulling him away from the Burrow. He jerked his arm away, and scowled at her.

“What do you mean?”

“She’s not ready to deal with you,” she explained. Her voice reminded him of times at Hogwarts when she had to distill a complex lesson into simpler terms that he and Ron could understand. The patience in her voice, something he had grown so accustomed to over the years, only made him angrier.

“Oh, but she’s ready to deal with Dean?”

“I’ll wager that she’s not dealing with Dean right now either,” Hermione said, her voice rising to match Harry’s. “She’s very confused and your confronting her would not make things any better for either of you.”

“What’s there to be confused about?” Harry asked. “There’s me and there’s Dean. It’s as simple as that.”

“No, it’s not,” Hermione said, the patient tone returning to her voice. “It’s not simple at all.”

She opened her mouth to explain, but a sound from the house made them both turn. Ron had emerged through the kitchen door, holding a large parcel in his hands, the door slamming shut behind him.

Harry looked back toward the garden for some glimpse of Ginny’s hair, but she was nowhere to be seen. She had either left the spot where she was sitting or had blended in with the surrounding flowers.

Harry and Hermione remained silent as Ron walked to rejoin them. When at last he reached the top of the hill, he eyed both of them as though knowing of the exchange that took place between them.

“Everything okay?” he asked. His voice was muffled and bits of food flew out as he expelled the words.

“Fine,” Harry said.

“Fine,” Hermione echoed.

Ron gave them both an unconvinced look, then shrugged and held out the bundle. “Muffin?”

Hermione turned on him and, for a moment, Harry thought she was going to hex him.

“You came here for food? The vital something for helping us solve the riddle of the ankh is . . . a muffin?” she said.

Ron took an involuntary step back, drawing the muffins in closer to his chest. “I don’t solve riddles very well on an empty stomach.”

Hermione’s wand hand twitched as though she was fighting the urge to attack him, then it relaxed. When she spoke, her voice slid out through clenched teeth.

“Can we please go, now?”

“Well, yeah,” Ron said. “I mean, Kreacher’s come a long way, but you just can’t beat home cooking.”

They Disapparated to within a mile of the Lovegood home and continued on foot. Harry and Ron, feeling the anger coming from her like heat waves and being quite familiar with its possible consequences, allowed her to move some distance ahead of them.

“You two get into a row while I was inside?” Ron asked

Harry took a long time in answering. “It was nothing,” he said finally. “How was your family?”

Ron looked for a moment like he might pursue the matter further, but shrugged instead and took another bite of a muffin in his hand. “They’re good,” he said, swallowing hard. “Should’ve grabbed something to drink.”

Pulling out his wand, he gave it a quick flick and a glass of white liquid appeared in midair before him.

“Milk?” he offered, holding the glass out to Harry. “Straight from the Burrow’s kitchen.”

“No, thanks.”

Ron shrugged again and turned the glass up, taking a long drink. When he finished, his face contorted into a look of disgust.

“Skim,” he said, using the same tone that he might use to describe Draco Malfoy. “I can’t believe she went to skim. Said she wants to lose a little weight now that Ginny’s about to finish school.”

Harry let his mind wander back to Ginny for a moment, then Ron grabbed his attention again.

“Dad wants to move,” he said, taking another bite of muffin.

Harry stopped walking and spun on Ron. “What? What do you mean? Leave the Burrow?”

Ron took a step back and swallowed. “Yeah. Dad says now that he’s Undersecretary to the Minister, he can afford a better home for his family.”

“He can’t do that,” Harry protested. “The Burrow is . . . the Burrow is . . . it’s . . . it’s home.”

As the words came out, Harry could hardly believe he was saying them, but there was no dissention in his mind as he spoke them. The Burrow had been the first place outside of Hogwarts where he had truly felt welcome and the thought of the Weasleys abandoning a place he thought they held sacred, more sacred than he himself, seemed blasphemous. A chilling thought of the house empty—furniture gone, dust on every surface, garden gnomes running rampant, the ghoul moving away—left him almost nauseous.

“Mom’s against it,” Ron said, sensing Harry’s distress. “She’s told him that it’s too much trouble to move and that she doesn’t want to seem pretentious by purchasing some fancy new house.”

Harry sensed an unspoken “but” at the end of Ron’s words. He raised an eyebrow, waiting for it.

“But,” Ron began slowly, “I think Dad’s starting to win her over. He’s promising her a bigger kitchen.”

Harry, seeing that Hermione was now some distance ahead and waiting for them to catch up, started forward again. “They can’t sell the Burrow,” he said. When Ron failed to respond, Harry asked him, “What do you think about it?”

Ron hesitated, then said, “I think Dad has a legitimate argument.” Harry started to sputter a protest, but Ron cut him off. “Look, Ginny’s the last one of us to leave the house. Once she’s gone, it’ll just be Mum and Dad in that big house. They don’t need all that space—even a house elf couldn’t keep the dust out of so many unoccupied rooms—so I think they should get something smaller and closer to London so Dad can be closer to work.”

“He can Apparate,” Harry argued. They had nearly reached Hermione now, whose impatience showed in the form of gold sparks that showered the tip of her wand as she tapped it against her forearm. “It doesn’t matter where he lives.”

“Yeah, but it’s the idea of being close to the city,” Ron said. “Surely the Muggles get that or else there wouldn’t be so damn many of them around London.”

Harry started to argue further, but could think of nothing to say against Ron’s logic. He had lived outside of London for his entire Muggle life, but had never seen the charm of living so close to everyone else. For the most part, he preferred the solitude he rarely found since had entered the wizarding community, the solitude he found, in part, at—

“I’ll buy it,” Harry said.

Ron choked on his last bite of muffin, then washed it down with a drink of milk before saying, “What?”

“I’ll buy the Burrow,” Harry said. “If you’re parents want to move, I’ll buy it from them.”

“You’re mental,” Ron said. “You have Grimmauld Place and—“

“I can sell it,” Harry said, parrying Ron’s protest.

“No, you can’t,” Ron shot back. “Sirius left you that house.”

He grew up there.

“He walked away from it,” Harry said. “So can I.”

They reached Hermione, who glared at them.

“What are you two going on about?” she asked them, stowing her wand

“Harry wants to buy the Burrow,” Ron said before Harry could answer.

Hermione’s look changed from angry to confused to excited. “You—really, Harry?”

“Yeah,” Harry said with a pointed glance at Ron. “Really.”

“I knew they were talking about selling it,” Hermione said. “But I can’t see them selling it to someone who wouldn’t appreciate its . . . its charm.”

Ron looked at Hermione, then at Harry, then back at Hermione.

“You’re both mental,” he said, shaking his head and walking past them both.

They topped a hill and looked at the Lovegood residence perched atop the next one, resembling a chess rook struck by some engorgement charm. The large hole made by an exploding Erumpent horn the previous winter had mostly been repaired, although the ivy reaching up on the side that had been destroyed stopped short of the rebuilt walls, its ends blackened and dead.

Harry had mixed feelings upon seeing the castle-like house again. The three of them had come to this house not many months ago seeking help from Xenophilius and, though he had provided them vital information that ultimately led to their defeat of Voldemort, Lovegood had also betrayed them, attempting to give them over to the Death Eaters in exchange for his daughter. On one hand, Harry could understand that kind of love, but on another, he still harbored a certain amount of bitterness against Lovegood, bitterness that had not faded with their ultimate victory against the Dark Lord.

They passed the signs in the front yard alerting them of whose home they were approaching, encouraging them to pick their own mistletoe, and reminding them to keep off the dirigible plums, and a new one that had not been there on their last visit the previous winter. This sign was much larger than the others, standing nearly tall as the three shocked friends looking at it. In a large, neat hand, someone had painted in glittery gold letters.

Luna Lovegood, Close Personal Friend of Harry Potter

As they watched, the letters changed shape, jumbling together into a reflective mass before stretching out again, forming new letters.

Very close. Really.

“Don’t even say it,” Harry said, cutting Ron off before he could unleash some witty remark.

Ron chuckled. “You have to admit it’s a nice touch.”

They made their way through the garden, overgrown with an odd assortment of plants, some of which Hermione could not even recognize. In full summer, flowers in a dizzying array of colors bloomed everywhere and fruit of various varieties budded out from several short trees. What looked like a sapling Whomping Willow stood near the house, it’s boughs banging on the side of the castle-like building as though demanding entrance. All around, garden gnomes ran unchecked and a few even stopped to make rude gestures at the newcomers.

Ron pulled out his wand to hex a particularly brave gnome, but Hermione stopped him.

“Better not,” she warned. “Lovegood probably thinks they’re baby Crumple-Horned Snorkacks.”

“No, said a dreamy voice from the side of the house, “they’re garden gnomes.”

Luna Lovegood stood up from a thick knot of brush. Her blonde hair was tied back in a bun by what looked like a dried squid tentacle, her wand stuck through the knot of hair. Her face was covered in black soil and she held a trowel in her gloved hand. Bright turquoise coveralls, a few sizes too large, draped her thin frame, making Harry wonder how he could have missed her, even ducked down in the thick growth of the garden.

They were about to greet Luna when another figure stood up beside her. Expecting it to be Luna’s father, they were all surprised to see a stocky young man, perhaps a few years older than themselves, his face as dirty as Luna’s. Instead of a trowel, he held a wispy plant with long fibrous leaves that looped over toward the ground. The leaves swirled, braiding themselves in intricate patterns, then unwinding, only to do it again in another complex weave.

“These garden gnomes, though,” Luna continued, “are actually spies from the Daily Prophet that have been planted here to spy on Father.”

Harry was so used to Luna’s outlandish statements that he did not even both to share a knowing glance with Ron and Hermione. “Who’s your friend,” Harry asked her instead, forgetting for a moment the bad memories he had of the place while in the presence of his dear friend.

Rather than waiting for introductions, the young man walked forward and held out his gloved hand.

“Iguana Scamander,” he said. His voice was boisterous, brimming with energy that was reflected in his large, dancing eyes. His clothing was a simple counterpoint to Luna’s—plain brown coveralls and a matching shirt, the long sleeves rolled up past the elbows. “Call me Iggy.”

Harry reached out and took the gloved hand, feeling a thick layer of soil, along with what he thought might be an earthworm, pressed into the skin of his palm. He opened his mouth to introduce himself, but Iggy cut him off.

“I know who you are.” He looked at Ron and Hermione. “I know who all of you are. Luna’s told me so much about you.”

Harry looked over at Ron, trying to decipher his friend’s unreadable expression. He knew Ron had a soft spot for Luna, but had been deliberately vague on how soft that spot was. Hermione was apparently wondering the same thing, if the glare she was giving Ron was any indication.

“She has, has she?” Ron said. He held his own hand out and gave Iggy’s a hard squeeze when it was offered. “Funny, she hasn’t told us anything about you.”

“Then again,” Hermione said, giving Ron a sour look, “we’ve all been rather busy and haven’t seen Luna as much as we would like.”

“I know,” Iggy answered, staring at them with such intensity that Harry felt a growing need to take a step back. “I’ve read all about it in the Quibbler and then Luna’s filled in the gaps. I have to say I’m honored to meet you at last.”

Luna walked up beside Iggy and smiled. “When I told Iggy that I met you at school, he didn’t believe me. Then, when I told him that we were friends and that I fought with you at the Ministry, we almost had a fight about it. I had to get Daddy to tell him before he would believe me.”

“How long have you known each other?” Ron asked, still eyeing Iggy.

“Practically since birth,” Iggy said. “Our fathers were friends at Hogwarts and have been ever since.”

“Is your father–?” Hermione began, but Iggy cut her off.

“Newt Scamander, yeah,” he said, as though as used to answering this question as Harry was to inquiries about his own identity. Harry knew he had seen the name before, but could not quite place it, nor did he need to with Hermione Granger as his friend.

“Newt Scamander,” she said. “He wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We used it as a text at school.”

“Oh, yeah,” Harry said, recalling the name now in slightly less vague terms.

“My dad travels all over the world looking for rare magical beasts,” Iggy explained. “It’s no wonder that he and Xeno are such good friends. Common interests.”

“Speaking of your father, Luna,” Harry said, feeling an impatience to ask about the ankh and a strong desire not to see the man who betrayed them, “is yours home?”

“Yes,” Luna answered. “He’s inside now doing some research on Naked Mammoths.”

“You mean elephants?” Hermione asked.

Luna gave her a blank look. “Let’s go inside. Daddy will be so happy to see you.”

Behind Harry, Ron faked a cough to hide a snicker.

Luna turned to lead them into the house. Harry followed Hermione in step behind Luna and Iggy, but felt Ron grab his upper arm and hold him back.

“What do you think about this Iggy character?” Ron whispered. By his tone, Harry knew the answer his friend was looking for, but he was not prepared to give it.

“Um,” he stuttered, “I guess if Luna likes him, that’s good enough for me.”

Ron grunted his disapproval of Harry’s opinion, but said nothing, releasing Harry’s arm and following him toward the door of the odd Lovegood house. The two aged crab apple trees that had stood sentry by the front entrance during their last visit, leafless and covered in mistletoe, were now in full foliage, their green, waxy leaves rustling in the slight breeze. The garden all around was as full of life as it had been empty of it in winter, but the infusion of vibrant greens, yellows, and oranges only managed to further disconcert Harry, who felt as though he was walking through some surreal dream where he walked the same path he had walked before, heading to the same near-capture by the Death Eaters.

Harry followed Luna and Iggy into the kitchen and here the feeling of déjà vu faded. The room—circular and brightly painted the last time—was now perfectly square and decorated in a diagonal black and white checkerboard pattern that made Harry feel dizzy until he closed his eyes and sought to balance himself on the counter. Obviously, the room had the same effect on Ron and Hermione, who gasped upon entering and both sought their own means of determining which way was down.

Luna, taking their distress as a sign of appreciation, smiled and waved her small hand in an arc around the room. “Daddy and I decided to redecorate after the unfortunate incident with the Snorkack horn.”

“Erumpent,” Harry heard Hermione whisper from behind him.

“It’s . . . it’s brilliant,” Ron managed, clutching onto the back of Harry’s shirt to keep from falling over.

Slowly, the three of them made their way to the center of the house and up the spiral staircase that led to the upper floors. The room was much as it had been during their last visit, with teetering stacks of books and papers everywhere, but instead of the models of creatures hanging from the ceiling, now models of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and many others involved in the downfall of Voldemort spun on silken strings, some waving wands, some flying brooms, some just standing. Harry was particularly drawn to one large figure of Ginny, flying on a broom near a figure of himself wielding what looked like a tiny holly wand. The attention to detail was striking and even Hermione could not hide her admiration.

“Luna, these are wonderful,” she said, eyeing a rather overly muscular figure of Ron near the window.

“I like having my friends around,” Luna said, smiling at the expressions of awe she was seeing, “even when they’re not.”

Harry looked around the room, admiring the models, but still unable to shake his feelings of unease. He felt as though something was missing from the room and, with a slow turn around, he realized what it was.

“Luna,” he said, “where’s the printing press?”

“Oh,” Luna said, “it survived the explosion and Daddy moved it to the new Quibbler offices in London. He’s expanding. Hired on several new reporters.”

“Yeah,” Iggy said, standing directly beneath a model of himself. “I’m actually going to work for him writing a column on magical beasts around the world.”

“Sounds great,” Ron said, sounding as though it was anything but great. “I’ll have to be sure to check that out.”

Led by Luna, they continued on up the stairs, past Luna’s bedroom with its painted faces of Harry and the others surrounded by the golden chains made up of the word “friends.” Harry felt another mixed set of emotions here. The affection he felt for Luna rushed in at once, followed by the slow seeping anxiety that came from memory. This was where the betrayal had been discovered. Here, in his daughter’s bedroom, Xenophilius had admitted to attempting to sacrifice them to Voldemort. Harry looked out the window, half-expecting to see Death Eaters again, flying on brooms just outside.

Finally, they reached a closed door, which Luna opened and they found themselves in the largest library any of them had seen outside of Hogwarts. Row upon row of leather-bound volumes stretched away into darkness, the only light in the windowless room provided by a few torches that flickered in wall sconces near where they stood.

“Luna?” came a voice from the darkness. “Who’s that with you?”

Harry recognized the voice and his stomach lurched. A moment later, Luna’s father came into sight, wearing robes in alternating chevrons of orange and brown, the colors adding to the distress of seeing the man again. Even though the rational part of his mind told him to forgive Xenophilius Lovegood for what he had done, the irrational part still burned as the slightly cross-eyed wizard emerged into the light, a pair of reading glasses perched on his short, pointed nose.

“Potter?” Lovegood asked, squinting in the gloom. “Harry Potter?”

“That’s right,” Harry answered.

Xenophilius moved forward cautiously, as though afraid Harry might pull his wand on him at any moment. Everyone else seemed to sense the tension in the room, as well. He could feel Hermione and Ron stepping away from him. The only person who seemed blissfully unaware was Luna, who looked on with her usual calm smile. Even Iggy backed away a few steps.

Xenophilius drew within a few feet and, just as Harry thought he was about to stop, he threw himself at Harry’s feet and began sobbing wildly, clutching the bottoms of his jeans.

“I’m so sorry, Harry,” Lovegood moaned in between sobs. “So sorry . . . Luna . . . they had my Luna . . . I couldn’t . . . her mother . . . . “ He stopped talking, unable to control himself any further, and lay crying and shaking on the floor.

The irrational part that held onto the bitterness against the man shattered, destroyed as surely as the Erumpent horn had been. Kneeling down, he helped Xenophilius to his feet and held him up as Luna’s father collapsed into him, drenching his shoulder in what Harry hoped was only tears. Behind him, over the muffled Lovegood, he heard Hermione crying as well, overwhelmed by the emotional reunion.

“It’s okay, Mr. Lovegood,” Harry said. “It’s nothing, really. I know you only did what you had to do for Luna. I . . . I would’ve done the same thing.”

Xenophilius pulled back from him, but refused to let go of his shoulders. Despite his still flowing tears, he smiled. “You . . . you are great for many more things than defeating You-Know-Who, Harry Potter.”

“Uh, thanks,” Harry said.

Xenophilius stepped back and pulled a painfully pink handkerchief from a pocket inside his robes. He dabbed at his wet eyes and surveyed Hermione and Ron as though seeing them for the first time.

“Daddy,” Luna said, her smile wider than ever, “you remember Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley?”

Xenophilius looked at them and Harry thought he might burst into tears again. His bleary eyes darted from them to Harry, then back before he said, “And to you, as well, I apologize for my mistakes.”

Behind him, Harry heard Hermione bawl. She rushed forward, nearly knocking Harry over a she passed, and wrapped her arms around Lovegood’s shoulders.

“Yeah,” Ron added, barely audible over the renewed crying. “What she said.”

After nearly a quarter of an hour, everyone had composed themselves enough for Harry to explain the reason for their visit.

“We found this,” Harry said to Xenophilius, holding out the ankh to him. “We were hoping you could tell us what it is.”

“Yes,” Hermione said, “you were such wonderful help with the Deathly Hallows that we thought you might know something about this, as well.”

Harry fought the urge to mention that Hermione had been the strongest voice against believing the tale of the Deathly Hallows, that she had argued for weeks against pursuing that line of information as a possible means of defeating Voldemort. From Ron’s small cough just behind him, he knew that he was not alone in suppressing that impulse.

Xenophilius took the ankh from Harry’s hand and examined it with a look of wonder etched on his face. He turned the golden object over in his hands, looking closely at every inch of it. He held it at various distances from his nose, at one point allowing his eyes to cross as he studied it.

Finally, he pulled out his wand and cast a series of charms on the ankh, all of which had no visible effect.

“Ah, yes,” he said at last.

“You know what it is?” Harry and Hermione asked together.

“No idea,” Lovegood admitted, although his demeanor seemed unaffected by his lack of insight. “Still, I believe I have a book here that may answer your questions.”

Xenophilius turned and sped down one shelf-lined corridor, lighting torches overhead as he went. Harry and the others dashed after him, afraid of losing him in the library that, they knew, was entirely too large to be contained in the small upstairs of the Lovegood house. Where cases were full in many places, books had been stacked in piles nearby, some taller than Ron and balanced so precariously that they all had to slow down to ensure they did not even brush the leather bindings. Barely able to keep up with Lovegood, they hurried along as best they could until they found him standing atop a rickety ladder, examining the uppermost shelf of one of the bookcases. He blew hard on the books, sending a cloud of dust downward like reversed smoke and ran his fingers over the spines until he found the one he was searching for, which he pulled out with a flourish and slid down the ladder, landing hard on the floor.

“It should be in here,” Xenophilius said, smiling.

“How did you remember which book it was in?” Hermione asked, gazing around at the thousands of volumes surrounding them.

“Well,” Xenophilius explained, “I put it there, now didn’t I? Wouldn’t be much use if I didn’t know where my own books were.”

Hermione stared at him in what Harry could only describe as awe. Even with all the hours she had spent in the Hogwarts library, she could not even begin to say where each particular title rested on the shelves. Here, Xenophilius Lovegood was displaying evidence of a memory far greater than any of them could have guessed from their limited contact with him.

Harry took the book and read the title–Magical Artifacts of Ancient Egypt–before opening the creaky leather cover. More dust fell from the pages as he looked for a contents page, along with a folded piece of paper from somewhere in the middle. Harry disregarded the paper and, finding the list of contents, looked for any reference to ankhs.

Chapter Twelve, the book said, dealt with the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the tome used by ancient priests to prepare pharaohs and their chosen for the afterlife. Chapter Fourteen, he read on, dealt with a particular pharaoh’s mask which supposedly gave its owner the ability to speak to the living from beyond the grave. Chapter Thirteen, however, was not listed. No space existed between the surrounding chapters, as though the missing one had not even been listed in the book. Harry flipped the book open, looking for the page numbers where he thought Chapter Thirteen should be, but found only a few blank pages, completely devoid of ink.

Bewildered, he showed the pages to Hermione and Ron.

“It appears to be some sort of concealment charm,” Hermione said. She took out her wand, tapped the first blank page, and said, “Aparecium!”

Nothing happened.

“Hmm,” Hermione said, her face twisted in thought. She tried several more spells, none of which produced so much as a faint line on the pages.

“Let me give it a go,” Xenophilius said. He repeated many of the same spells Hermione had already tried, in some cases pronouncing them completely different. He then tried a few spells that, based on the sour look on Hermione’s face, he made up on the spot, all with no effect.

As they discussed different methods of reading the erased passages, Ron bent over and picked up the folded piece of paper from the floor. Opening it, he read the few words, his eyes growing wide.

“Blimey!” he said. “Harry, take a look at this and tell me if you recognize the handwriting.”

Harry took the note and recognized the letters at once, even if the words made no sense.

Xeno, I have taken the liberty of removing the content of these pages. Should Harry Potter ever come to you seeking this book, please tell him that the best place to hide something is often in plain sight.

The note was signed in the unmistakable, spidery hand of Albus Dumbledore.

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