Word Count: 1,844
Prompt: Day 20 traditional - snowmen ornaments
Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns them, not me. This is for mischief's sake, not profit.
Author's Notes: This is for slythindor100 's Christmas challenge picture prompts. Sequel of Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four, Part five, Part six, Part seven, Part eight, Part nine, Part ten, Part eleven, Part twelve, Part thirteen, Part fourteen, Part fifteen, Part sixteen, Part seventeen, Part eighteen & Part nineteen
"I don't believe you have a horcrux inside," said Harry urgently, his green eyes piercing Draco. "Do you feel a stabbing pain from time to time? Do you have a sudden urge to maim someone?"
"Reckon I don't," said Draco slowly, his eyes lingering on the Christmas tree he had helped Harry decorate. His pale fingers rubbed circles on his forehead.
"Your friends make a good point, though, because why would the Dark…?" Draco paused and then muttered through clenched teeth, "Why would Voldemort hug me?"
"I've no idea, Draco." Harry's voice was tinged with worry. "Wish I did."
"I believe I can tell you why he stayed at the Manor."
"Voldemort wanted to humiliate Father and the purebloods he represented. He was quite bitter at the way he was treated at Hogwarts, I suppose, from what I heard after the Battle." Draco crossed his legs and stared at the crackling fire. "I think at the end he resented purebloods, and perhaps magic itself."
"And the prophecy?"
Draco scoffed. "Doesn't have to be fulfilled now, does it? Perhaps those events are meant to happen a hundred years from now, who knows?"
Harry looked up at the swooshing sounds of the Floo coming to life. He hoped it was Hermione and Luna coming from their assignment, and he was proved right.
Hermione smiled weakly at Harry as she brushed the ash off her shoulders, and then she turned to stare quizzically at Draco. Finally, she nodded to herself and walked up to the table whilst Luna, having arrived the same way, made her way to another chair and plopped down.
"What do you think, Hermione?" said Draco.
Hermione hefted a book and pointed it at Draco. "I want to hear your opinion first, Draco."
Draco preened a little as he steepled his fingers. "What would you say Voldemort was feeling those last few days? It will provide us insight into the curse."
Hermione leaned on the table and bit her bottom lip before gazing at Harry. "I think Voldemort hated you and wanted to prevail over you. To kill Harry Potter would prove to his supporters he was the most powerful wizard in the world."
"But he hated Muggleborns most of all," said Draco. "Did so for decades before Harry was even born. I reckon he abhorred the idea of them wielding magic; certainly heard him muttering about it in the Manor corridors."
"What you say might be true, but…" Hermione couldn't go on because Ron appeared in the room, announced by the whooshing sound of a portkey.
Unclenching his hand, Ron put the old sock back into his pocket. Seeing Hermione's raised eyebrows, he said, "Portkey. Can't use the Floo because it's wild at the Ministry. The network works intermittently and isn't reliable."
On his other hand, Ron held a battered-looking box which looked as if Hagrid had sat upon it. He waved it towards the Christmas tree. "Harry, I bought the ornaments for the tree but a clumsy wizard stepped on the box."
Opening the carton, Ron peered inside and picked up a piece of jagged, broken glass. He grimaced and turned to Draco. "These Christmas baubles were shaped like snowmen. Bought them to make up for Fred and George's prank."
Draco appeared surprised and moved at Ron's gesture and shot him a weak grin. "Thanks, Ron. Appreciate it."
Hermione had taken out her wand and she brandished it towards the box with studied casualness. She cast a Reparo but the spell backfired, reflecting against the box so the oncoming jet hit a painting on the wall which fell to the floor with a thudding sound. Harry frowned at the sound of Phineas Nigellus muttering angrily.
Ron took the strange occurrence with a shrug. "Doesn't surprise me, magic's been flaring up at the Ministry all day."
Draco shuddered when he heard that. He gazed contemplatively at the Christmas tree, recalling how the Weasley twins lamented that their prank with the green and red Christmas baubles had failed.
"Harry," Draco said slowly. "Ron told me the reason he brought me here was because your magic had gone out of control."
"Reckon it had." Harry blinked owlishly at the blond, and then he shrugged. "Not since we're together, though. It works well enough now. Remember the wandless spells I cast at the witch that attacked us? Those worked fine."
Draco took out his wand, his alabaster fingers rubbing the surface as if testing how pliable it was. He stood up and sauntered towards Harry. "Maybe if we cast the spell at the same time?"
Harry's fingers touched the wand and he nudged his wrist towards Ron and the box.
"Ron, you might want to put the box on the table," said Harry. "Don't want to hurt you, mate."
"Nope, I'll take my chances." Ron squared his shoulders and faced the Seekers with a determined look on his face. Harry noticed it was similar to the one he sported when directing the chess pieces in First Year.
"Ever the hero, Weasley," said Draco, a brief smile belying his sarcastic tone.
The two wizards muttered the spell which appeared to work this time. They all heard the pieces of glass tinkling inside. Ron picked up an intact snowman bauble, its black top hat a jaunty dash of colour against the snowy body.
"Well done, mate," said Ron. He walked up to the table and put the box there. "What does it mean?"
"The magic started misbehaving with you two." Hermione scrunched up her eyebrows as her keen mind tried to piece the puzzles together. "Now it has spread to the Ministry."
"Don't forget the other occurrences," said Luna in a factual tone. She had picked up a snowman and was holding it next to her robes, appearing to contemplate whether to make a necklace out of it. After a few seconds, she shrugged and put it back on the box.
Noting the quizzical looks directed towards her, Luna said, "The crop circles along the roads? Magic started misbehaving right there, as if these were fracture lines which spread from some central point."
"What did you say?" asked Draco in an alarmed voice.
"Fracture lines from a central point," repeated Luna.
Draco fumbled with the buttons of his robes before he could fish out from his pocket a yellowed parchment. He went to the table and spread it upon the polished wood, Hermione peering intently at it.
"Roman map," she said, recognising the calligraphy. "It must be very old."
"I've been studying it to break a curse." Draco smoothed the parchment as Harry peered over his shoulder, and Harry's breath against the fine hairs of his nape elicited a shudder from him.
"Oi, I've seen it before," said Harry. "Those roads are like spikes that lead to a central hub."
Harry frowned as he tried to remember. "The name on the map was Sarum."
"Sarum?" Hermione said sharply, "That's the ancient name for Salisbury."
"Which, if I may point out, is pretty near the Manor," said Draco in a worried voice.
Luna tiptoed over to join them and gazed at the map. "Have you noticed that those roads follow the ley lines?"
"The what lines?" said Ron.
"Some people believe the ley lines hold mystical power," said Draco. "I know about them because some of the cursed treasures Bill and I have had to deal with are on places along those lines."
The group was distracted by the swooshing sounds coming from the fire. Two lean bodies disentangled themselves, their red hair gleaming whilst they brushed the ash off each other's shoulders.
"There you go, Gred."
George looked up at the others and lifted his eyebrows. "What's with you lot? Seems like you've seen a ghost." He nudged Fred's elbow and smirked at them, "Gred, reckon these gits could have helped us man the store, because today was busy!"
"The magic disturbances, I suppose," said Harry. He was used to the twins' antics so he was the first to recover.
"What magic disturbances?" said Fred. "We mean the wizards and witches we got at the last minute. Wanted trinkets before they went to celebrate the solstice."
"The solstice?" said Draco thickly.
"It's today, Draco." Fred winked lewdly at him. "Reckon you're too busy doing the dirty with Harry to…"
"Merlin's beard!" said Hermione loudly. "Can't you two pipe down? We're trying to solve a mystery."
"Spoilsport," grumbled George. "You're acting just like the thin, wizened man who meandered into our shop."
"Yeah," said Fred. "Old bloke kept mumbling he had to make his way to Caithor Gall, the hall of playful trolls."
"He said drunken giants, Gred," corrected George. "I'm afraid your memory is failing in your old age."
"Caithor Gall?" Luna said sharply.
"Hall of drunken... giants?" said Hermione.
Draco nudged Harry's elbow. "That is what the witch who attacked us kept saying."
"Caithor Gall is a name out of legend," said Luna reverently. When the others looked at her, she shrugged. "Dad heard it when we were hunting the Snorkack."
"Sure thing, Luna!" George snorted loudly as he elbowed Fred, who sniggered.
"What else did the man say?" Harry prodded George before the twins could go on a tangent.
"Old wizard bought a few trinkets and then left." George shrugged nonchalantly. "Said he was from Wales, and was visiting London on his way to the solstice celebration in Wiltshire."
"Where precisely?" said Harry sharply.
Draco had the answer on the tip of the tongue but he didn't say anything, overwhelmed for a moment because of the dimensions of the problem.
Hermione shuddered, picturing in her mind's eye the forlorn landscape she had watched in the John Constable painting in Somerset House. The dark clouds spread menacingly over a stark plain, bereft of human signs but for the monoliths there. A few of them had withstood the passage of millennia and stood proudly, as if they were in the bloom of youth, while others leaned drunkenly over the ground. They looked like discarded toys Grawp would leave behind.
Hermione imagined vividly the impressions it must have made on the people arriving there, long after the strange monument was built. They must have thought drunken giants used to dwell there and played with the ancient menhirs, each of them weighing as much as four tons.
Hermione sat down heavily on the chair, her heart thumping wildly against her chest as if she had to sit a tough exam, and then she whispered, "Caithor Gall, the hall of drunken giants which I've just seen in a painting."
She turned to Draco. "Why didn't we see it? Voldemort didn't choose your house because of wealth or anything else. He chose it for very practical reasons, because it was near to Caithor Gall."
"All the roads in that map." Draco nodded as he pointed to the table. "Lead to Sarum because the hall of drunken giants is there. The spot where the ley lines converge is a place I know well, for it is near home. It is Stonehenge."