The Cupboard Series 6: Castle Voldemort

Chapter 13

Mad-eye stood perfectly still under a tree, his good eye staring at the sign just across the road while his magical eye continuously shifted about, searching for any hidden dangers. He may be concealed with a bevy of disillusionment charms, notice-me-nots, odour dampening spells and sound dampening spells on his boot, clawed foot and the end of his walking staff, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t still vulnerable.

He was out from under the powerful wards of Diricawl Academy, wards that he felt relatively safe enough to drop his guard while he was under them, at least to a small amount. Added to that, he was in the muggle world, a world which boasted its own set of hazards and dangers on top of all of the usual ones. Lastly was the fact of where he was, attested to by the sign that had part of his attention.

Greater Hangleton was apparently thirteen miles to his right; Little Hangleton, two miles to his left. And Little Hangleton, according to Dumbledore’s notes, was where Riddle’s parents had once lived, the muggles in some large manor house, the Gaunts in a hovel in some woods nearby.

Mad-eye knew that he could have simply apparated to Little Hangleton, but appearing in possibly enemy territory, without knowing what was waiting for you was akin to a death sentence. No, Mad-eye hadn’t lived for as long as he had by being a reckless Gryffindor and rushing in. Going in on foot, the muggle way, made much more sense.

Having assured himself of his destination, Mad-eye set off along the road to Little Hangleton, after all, the road left no footprints for anyone to follow.

The absence of his usual stomp, click when he walked was at first jarring in its absence but he quickly focussed on his other senses, listening for the sound of voices, muggle automobiles or the sound of footsteps or leaves or twigs being broken by someone trying to sneak up on him.

Rounding the bend to the top of a small hill, Mad-eye paused and leant on his staff, taking in the view. There were three particular spots that he could see that had his auror senses tingling.

The first was a graveyard. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about it. It looked old, with a lot of the headstones being weatherworn and beginning to slump. What was most interesting about it was its location. This, Mad-eye was certain, was where that fool Fudge was killed and Riddle was resurrected. One of the few rituals that would have created a body for the spirit of Riddle to inhabit needed the ‘bone of the father’. And if that ingredient was anywhere, it was in that graveyard.

The second thing that caught Mad-eye’s attention related to the first – the old Riddle manor house. Or at least, what remained of it. Part of one wall was standing on the southern side and the chimney, oddly enough, was still intact. The rest of the old manor, though, looked to have been consumed in a fire. Mad-eye’s mind harkened back to the tale of the dragon that was portkeyed in to Riddle’s headquarters, killing dozens and destroying the place. There was no doubt in Mad-eye’s mind exactly where that was any longer.

If he was not mistaken, whoever had helped Riddle get his body back – Lucius Malfoy, most likely – would have needed a base of operations. And what better place than one that Riddle had some claim over and was close to one of the important ingredients for the ritual?

The third and last feature that Mad-eye could see from his vantage point was the most interesting of all. It was a wood that butted right up against the road a little down from where he currently stood. The trees were close together, thick and tangled, making the shadows deep and dark, obscuring what was inside from view. It gave off a dark, menacing vibe, all but screaming to everyone who saw it to ‘stay away!’. Mad-eye could almost taste the magic in the air, wards at the very least and powerful ones at that.

All three features needed to be checked, of course, but if Mad-eye was a betting man, he’d lay money on finding what he was looking for in the heart of that dark forest.


The old manor house, or at least what remained of it, was a nightmare to check. It’d taken Mad-eye hours to check the detritus that littered the property. Charred planks of wood and blackened bricks had needed to be levitated away and then detection charms applied to ensure that there was neither any active magic or residue of past spells present.

The cellar had been the one room of the old manor that had remained, but it too, after it had been searched from top to bottom – twice, mind you – also turned out to be a bust.

Having checked and eliminated the two most unlikely features of this part of Little Hangleton, Mad-eye moved on to the third and the one that he held the most hope out for.

The forest.

An eight foot tall, six foot wide tangled hedge ran along the side of the road, separating it from the forest beyond and Mad-eye made sure to walk the length of it. Periodically, his wand appeared in his hand and he tested the magic beyond the hedge. It was there, neither increasing in strength nor decreasing, obviously a wall of magic of some kind surrounding the prize in the centre. The hedge, though, made the perfect first line of defence – unable to be penetrated by normal, muggle means.

After nearly two dozen probing searches with his magic over the hedge, Mad-eye blinked and stopped. He frowned at the hedge, hiding the fact that the magical barrier beyond it had disappeared.

“Found a corner, have I?” he wondered.

Getting past the hedge to traverse the next section of the magical ‘wall’ needed a little thought. In the end, Mad-eye went for the simple approach.

Contorquet gladii!” he intoned, swirling his wand in a circle before slashing the insides of the circle with an ‘X’.

A pair of flaming orange stripes of magic whipped out of his wand, spinning hard in a circle, slashing everything in its path. Leaves, twigs and bits of branch were mown down straight through the hedge to leave a gaping, round hole for Mad-eye to climb through.

And then came the hard part – traversing the forest, following the edge of the wall of magic. Mad-eye may have grumbled and complained the entire way but he did it. Hundreds of times, his cloak caught on something or his clawed foot tripped him up or he had to use his staff or wand to cut himself through.

By the time that he had made his way down the other three sides, Mad-eye’s cloak and clothes were ripped and torn, twigs were caught in his hair and spider’s webs clung to his arms, legs and chest. On top of all that, he was tired, sore and he’d had enough of nature to last him the rest of his life.

Despite that, though, he was more convinced than ever that he was on the right track. Not once had the magic of the wall that he’d been following dropped slightly. Whatever was powering it was doing an impressive job.

Sitting on the stump of an old log, Mad-eye took a swig from his hip flask and considered.

With magic that powerful, he knew that he was out of his depth. As an auror and a Master Auror at that, he had a more than passing knowledge of curses, charms, spells and he like. He knew counters to almost every piece of magic. He could strip away the usual stuff and once or twice had even managed to beat a very simple ward scheme that had been hastily thrown up in an attempt to protect a coven of hags.

This, though, he was out of his depth for. Wards like this, which was the only thing that could produce that kind of magical wall, was way beyond his expertise. That was what curse-breakers were for. Unfortunately, he had no idea where he was going to find one.

Mad-eye knew one thing for sure though, sitting around drinking in the middle of a forest wasn’t going to make one fall from the sky into his lap. No, if he wanted one, he was going to have to do something about it.

Right after he managed to get out of this Merlin-be-damned forest and trudged a safe distance away. No point in announcing to everyone that he’d been there, now was there?


“Thought you knew better than to count all your nifflers before they’re born,” Croaker replied. “By your own account, all you’ve found is a magical protection barrier, a powerful ward, by the sound of it.”

“What else would it be?” Moody asked emphatically, leaning forward to emphasise his point and fixing both eyes on the man across from him. “Why else would that particular place be warded like that? It was Riddle’s maternal family’s land. Where better to hide something?”

“You just said it yourself – that’s the Gaunt ancestral lands. An Ancient House, even if it was impoverished before it went extinct,” Croacker countered.

“Now you’re just playing silly-buggers,” Moody waved away the argument. “There’s no way that, even if the place had wards in the first place, that they’d still be at that sort of level without someone to maintain them or charge them.” Moody held up a hand before Croaker could object again. “And I know what you’re going to say, they’re probably powered by ley lines. They’re not, I checked. The nearest line is too far away to have any impact on those wards.”

A knock at the door interrupted them and Moody’s magical eye instantly swivelled to take in who was on the other side and how much of a threat they posed.

“Come in, Molly,” Moody called.

The door swung open and Molly Weasley stuck her head in the door, looked around at the two men and sighed.

“Oh, Mister Croaker, good, you’re here,” Molly said in a rush.

“What can I do for you?” Croaker asked.

“There’s an owl for you down in the Security Office,” Molly replied. “The bird is quite insistent that you be the only one to take its letter. It looks like it has an Unspeakable seal on it.”

Croaker blinked in surprise and Moody grinned, enjoying being able to read the Unspeakable so easily.

“Thank you,” Croaker said, rising. He paused once he was standing and looked down at his friend. “What are you going to do?”

“Find a good curse breaker I can trust and go back,” Moody replied as though the answer was obvious.

“Where are you going to find one of them? The goblins employ the best and their doors are closed,” Croaker stated before nodding to both Moody and Molly before striding from the room.

“My eldest, Bill, is a curse breaker,” Molly volunteered, sounding nervous.

“Really?” Moody asked interested. “And where might he be?”

“Egypt. He works for the goblins,” Molly replied.

“Not much good to me there, is he?” Moody asked rhetorically.

“There might be a way,” Molly replied hesitantly. “I think that my twins, Fred and George, have a way to get a message to him.”

“Now that is usual. Where exactly are your twins right now?” Moody asked.



The guttural voice of the speaker who’d called his name was obviously goblin. Unfortunately, Bill was in the middle of a delicate part of disarming the rune scheme that activated the trap that guarded the burial chamber of Brekan, one of the more powerful of the Ancient Egyptian sorcerers that served Djoser back in the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom.

Ignoring his name, Bill pressed on, slithering forward half a foot on his stomach and reached forward with his arm outstretched, the very end of his wand between his fingers. A hair’s breadth above his head, a dozen swirling scimitars danced, all designed to not just incapacitate anyone who attempted to enter this passage, but to dismember them into as many pieces as possible.

Finally, with one last grunt, Bill managed to get his wand into position so that it just touched the right rune. Pushing his magic, he channelled it, not into the rune to power it, but into a simple stone cutting spell, minutely altering the rune and causing the entire array to instantly stop working.

The scimitars, without the magic to sustain them, spun widely out of control, clanging into each other or careening into the walls. Tings of metal echoed in the passage and Bill’s eyes shot wide and he was sure that he’d just wet himself as the last of the swords landed, quivering, just in front of his eyes and between his outstretched arms.

“Weasley! I am not accustomed to having to wait,” the voice barked.

Looking back and around, Bill made out his boss standing twenty metres back, his arms crossed and one foot tapping. Jumping to his feet – now that it was safe to do so – Bill dusted himself off and trotted over.

“Sorry, Boss, couldn’t stop any sooner without killing myself,” Bill apologised.

“Training a new Curse Breaker of your skill would be costly,” Boondin stated, which Bill took as the closest way of apologising for interrupting his work as a goblin would ever give.

A small leather pouch was thrust at Bill and he took it carefully.

“Pay and documents you will need for your next assignment,” Boondin growled. “You’ve been reassigned.”

“What? Where?” a startled Bill asked. “We’re so close to getting into this tomb!”

“The Bank Manager of Gringotts London himself requested you,” Boondin stated.

“I thought Britain was closed?” Bill asked, taking a look in the pouch. “Hang on, this is all muggle – paper money, passport and a plane ticket?”

“Yours is a special case. No other employee of the goblins will enter Britain until your internal conflict is resolved. And only then after careful consideration,” Boondin informed him. “A contact will meet you upon your arrival. Go! Your muggle transportation leaves in two hours.”

“Yes, sir,” a still confused Bill replied before bowing acknowledgement and hurriedly striding towards the exit of the tomb, an exit that it would take at least a quarter of an hour to reach, eating up precious time.


His eyes darted all over the hall, looking for the person who was to be his contact point. Not once in any of the documents that he’d been given had it been stated who was to meet him here. The best that he could hope for was that he recognised the person as such when they contacted him.

Bill sighed in relief, though, at the shock of red-hair peeking over the crowd – there was no mistaking that particular colour. Weaving his way through the crowd, Bill made his way over, managing to get incredibly close with how distracted this particular person was with all of the muggles and muggle objects surrounding him. Really, it wasn’t all that bright sending his father here, as obsessed as he was.

“Dad!” he cried.

Arthur gave a jolt of surprise before accepting Bill’s hug, a huge smile on his face.

“Bill! How wonderful to see you. Did you just arrive on one of those aer-o-planes?” he asked slowly, obviously making an effort to get the word right and then smiling even more when he realised that he had.

“Yeah, Dad,” Bill replied. “What are you doing here? Better yet, what am I doing here?”

“Not here,” a female voice stated.

Bill turned to see a girl just a little younger than him. It took him a few moments to place the somewhat familiar face.

“Tonks, right?’ he asked.

“That’s right, surprised you remember,” she smiled.

“Well, you did date my brother, Charlie” Bill stated.

“For all of about two months, years ago,” she retorted. “Let’s get moving, we don’t want to draw any unwanted attention.”

Bill looked at his father quizzically, but Arthur had simply nodded in agreement, grasped Bill’s upper arm and began guiding him away.

“Dad?” Bill tried again.

Arthur refused to answer, instead pulling him along until they reached a small door in the wall, that Tonks surreptitiously unlocked with her wand before opening it and pulling him inside.

“A broom closet? Seriously?” Bill asked, amused.

Tonky merely smiled him before holding out a quoit.

“Grab on,” she commanded.

Bill did so, a second before Arthur.

“Activate,” Tonks said, tapping it with her wand.


“Bill!” five voices yelled at once.

The oldest of the Weasley children had barely had time to ensure his balance after the portkey ride before five new, red-headed bodies slammed into him, nearly knocking him down. His mother was kissing his face over and over again, while Ginny was wrapped around him, squeezing so hard that it felt that she was likely to cut off circulation if she wasn’t careful. The twins and Ron had also given him a quick hug and hearty slap on the back before stepping back and simply grinning at him while the women did their ‘thing’.

“It’s great to see you all as well,” Bill told them all.

And it was. Ever since He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had taken over and the British Ministry of Magic had fallen, news out of Magical Britain was scarce. Travellers weren’t permitted either way, in or out, with all portkeys and apparition stopped. Even owls were now being redirected away from the borders by all governments, both British trying to contain information to their shores, and foreign wanting to maintain the health of their flock.

“Now, can someone please tell me why I’m here?” he asked exasperatedly.

“That’d be me,” a gruff voice said from the doorway.

Bill’s eyes widened at the most famous auror from the last way.

“Mad-eye Moody,” he breathed.

“That’s right, lad. Glad I don’t have to introduce myself,” Moody said. “Come with me, your family can have you back later.”

“We will see him for dinner, won’t we?” Molly asked hopefully.

“No promises,” Moody grunted, before relenting slightly at her disappointed look. “But highly likely.

Moody led Bill from what turned out to be a small building away from the main complex of Diricawl Academy of Magical Studies and across the open ground. They walked in silence, Bill becoming more and more curious with each step but, after having worked with the goblins, used to the concept of only being told what you needed to know when you needed to know it and not a moment earlier. Didn’t mean that he liked it, but he could cope with it and knew how to keep his curiosity reined in.

Finally, they reached a copse of trees far from any other person.

“We can talk here without being overheard,” Moody stated. “You’re a curse breaker?”

“I am,” Bill replied, finally getting an inkling of why he was back in Britain.

“You’ve had experience getting through wards and traps?” Moody asked.

“Six years with the goblins; three as apprentice, three as a journeyman. Graduated as a fully-fledged curse-breaker in my own right four months ago,” Bill stated proudly. “I’ve had plenty of experience, mostly in Egypt, although I’ve had quite a number of expeditions to South America as well.”

“Good enough,” Moody nodded. “You know anything about horcruxes?”

Bill’s eyes widened. “Enough to know that they’re incredibly dangerous and should be destroyed as quickly as possible. I’ve never heard of a witch or wizard making one who wasn’t insane to one degree or another.”

“Got that right,” Moody grunted. “I got you here for a job that involves breaking through the protections that surround what I believe is a horcrux.”

The question of who it belonged to was on the tip of Bill’s tongue to ask before he reined it in. They were in Britain. A Britain ruled by a Dark Lord. There was only one possible candidate.

“What can you tell me about the site?” Bill asked.

“Not a lot,” Moody admitted. “I’ve circled it and felt the power that’s in the wards protecting whatever’s inside. Don’t know how they’re powered but I can tell you it’s not by ley lines. Wouldn’t be surprised if there’s dozens of traps inside that magical barrier as well before we can get to where the horcrux is hidden.”

“That’d be a given,” Bill stated. “I’m assuming that we need this taken care of as soon as possible?”

“Aye,” Moody nodded. “And as quietly as possible. You up for it?”

Bill grinned at him. “You couldn’t keep me away. But not today. Tomorrow at the earliest. I need to get a decent night’s sleep before I tackle something like that.”

“Expected as much,” Moody agreed. “Get plenty of rest, then, kid. We leave at first light.”

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