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An ideal place to see but not be seen. The ground around the roots, however, was free of

Snow, and Harry could see no sign of footprints. He walked back to where Ron stood

Waiting, still holding the sword and the Horcrux.

"Anything there?" Ron asked.

"No," said Harry.

"So how did the sword get in that pool?"

"Whoever cast the Patronus must have put it there."

They both looked at the ornate silver sword, its rubied hilt glinting a little in the

light from Hermione's wand.

"You reckon this is the real one?" asked Ron.

"One way to find out, isn't there?" said Harry.

The Horcrux was still swinging from Ron's hand. The locket was twitching

Slightly. Harry knew that the thing inside it was agitated again. It had sensed the

Presence of the sword and had tried to kill Harry rather than let him possess it. Now was

Not the time for long discussions; now was the moment to destroy once and for all. Harry

looked around, holding Hermione's wand high, and saw the place: a flattish rock lying in

The shadow of a sycamore tree.

"Come here." he said and he led the way, brushed snow from the rock's surface,

And held out his hand for the Horcrux. When Ron offered the sword, however, Harry

Shook his head.

"No you should do it."

"Me?" said Ron, looking shocked. "Why?"

"Because you got the sword out of the pool. I think it's supposed to be you."

He was not being kind or generous. As certainly as he had known that the doe

Was benign, he knew that Ron had to be the one to wield the sword. Dumbledore had at

Least taught Harry something about certain kinds of magic, of the incalculable power of

Certain acts.

"I'm going to open it," said Harry, "and you will stab it. Straightaway okay?

Because whatever's in there will put up a fight. The bit of Riddle in the Diary tried to kill


"How are you going to open it?" asked Ron. He looked terrified

"I'm going to ask it to open, using Parseltongue," said Harry. The answer came so

readily to his lips that thought that he had always known it deep down: Perhaps it had

Taken his recent encounter with Nagini to make him realize it. He looked at the

serpentine S, inlaid with glittering green stones: It was easy to visualize it as a miniscule

Snake, curled upon the cold rock.

"No!" said Ron. "Don't open it! I'm serious!"

"Why not?" asked Harry. "Let's get rid of the damn thing, it's been months --"

"I can't, Harry, I'm serious -- you do it --"

"But why?"

"Because that thing's bad for me!" said Ron, backing away from the locket on the

rock. "I can't handle it! I'm not making excuses, for what I was like, but it affects me

Worse than it affects you and Hermione, it made me think stuff -- stuff that I was thinking

anyway, but it made everything worse. I can't explain it, and then I'd take it off and I'd

get my head straight again, and then I'd have to put the effing thing back on -- I can't do it


He had backed away, the sword dragging at his side, shaking his head.

"You can do it," said Harry, "you can! You've just got the sword, I know it's

supposed to be you who uses it. Please just get rid of it Ron."

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 816

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Was raise a shaking hand to his throat and feel the place where the locket had cut tightly | The sound of his name seemed to act like a stimulant. Ron swallowed, then still
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