“How many times have you read that book, Aimee?”
Aimee Vass was propped up on her elbows on her bed, reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the seventh time. She didn’t look up from her book, but she sighed in response.
Her mother walked into the room and snatched the book out of her hands and made her way across the room to Aimee’s desk.
“Mum!” Aimee cried, her hands still grasping the air. “What are you doing?”
“You’re wasting way too much time reading these silly Harry Potter books. Do something else! Get ready for school! I’m not even sure you’ve finished your homework from yesterday,” her mother replied as she slammed the book down on the desk.
“Mum! Watch out for--” Aimee started to say.
Too late. The book slid off the desk and onto the floor with a thud, taking Aimee’s tiara that she had bought at a gift shop. The label claimed that J.K. Rowling herself had fashioned it for her fans. The tiara split in half as it started falling with the book on its tip, and Aimee’s mother pulled the tiara back.
“Mum! Look what you’ve done!” Aimee leaped off the bed and started to grab the two pieces, but her mother had already thrown them away in the trash can next to her bed.
Her mother huffed and said, “Why do you need it anyway? It’s just another piece of plastic, you can always get another cheap one from somewhere else!”
“JK Rowling herself made it!” Aimee protested, throwing her long blond hair behind her shoulders. Her brown eyes flashed with irritation.
Her mother smiled at her daughter’s childish folly, and said, “That’s what they say, so kids like you buy it. Anyway, pack your things now, or you’ll miss the bus,” and walked out of the room, picking up Aimee’s fake Marauder's Map and placing it on her bed on the way out.
Aimee sank into her chair, frustrated at her mother for once again, not accepting the fact that Harry Potter was the best series around. It wasn’t like her mother loved to read that much anyway, so why not let her? And she wasn’t one of the foolish kids who would believe anything the label told her. She was just an aspiring author who read books to “study” writing techniques. There is a huge difference.
When she opened her computer, she noticed she had just received an email from none other than JK Rowling herself. Aimee was such a big fan that she had dared to email her favorite author two months ago and had expected a response. She hadn’t gotten one, so it was surprising that Rowling would email her now.
The email wasn’t a “Hi, how are you doing”, but instead it contained an invitation.
Hey Harry Potter Fans,
Hope you still love Harry Potter! I’m hosting a book signing tomorrow afternoon at the lighthouse near the lake. It reminds me of the place where the Dursleys had run to when Harry started receiving thousands of letters from Hogwarts! I’d love it if you could come, and make sure you bring your books!
Aimee read the email three times before finally believing it, and pumped her fist in the air, shouting, “YES!”. Without waiting for her mother’s call, she skipped out the door to catch the bus.
During lunch at school, Aimee took off to meet with her usual group of friends at their meeting spot: the library. They met every day at school to discuss further developments in the books they read or write a part of the story they didn’t like. They called themselves the Harry Potter Fan Club. So original.
As Aimee skipped into the library, the librarian, Ms. D, called to her.
“Aimee! I have something you’ll like!” she said as she waved a book in her hand.
Aimee walked over to the counter and squinted at the book held in the librarian’s hand. It was another copy of The Deathly Hallows, but she already had that one. She was about to say so when Ms. D interrupted her.
“I know you’ve collected all the books already,” she said, placing the book down on the counter, her benign blue eyes twinkling with excitement. “But this one is different. J.K Rowling herself annotated inside the book and wrote down her thoughts for many of the scenes. I thought you’d like to read it since you are such a big fan.”
Aimee’s eyes lit up and she reached for the book. “Oh, yeah, of course! Thanks!”
She made her way to her table, and seeing that none of her friends were there yet, flipped through the pages, reading each annotation. They were mostly about what inspired Rowling to write these pages. When Aimee came to the end of the book, she was about to skip reading the last annotation. She had skimmed through the pages and found the annotations to be similar, so she decided not to go through another one. She stopped when a particular word caught her eye.
“Horcruxes?” Aimee whispered to herself.
The note read:
To those of you who have the annotated copies, you might be interested in knowing that I have a challenge for you. In the book, Harry has found all of the Horcruxes to kill Voldemort, but wait! There is one more yet to be found.
Riiight, Aimee thought. Another Horcrux? One part of Aimee felt that this was a joke. Why would Rowling hide a Horcrux in London? She hadn’t even announced that she was planning a game. The majority of Aimee felt curious and excited about participating in this new challenge. What would it be like if she found the Horcrux? Then she could call herself a true Harry Potter fan.
Aimee jumped and yelped. Covering her mouth and giving Ms. D an apologetic look, she looked up to who had spoken to her. It was her club member and friend, Georgie.
“Hey! You frightened me,” Aimee said, quickly stuffing the annotated copy into her bookbag.
“Sorry,” Georgie grinned and sat in the chair next to Aimee. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” Aimee quickly shook her head, but then blurted, “Did you hear about the book signing tomorrow?”
“Yeah, me mum told me. I was going to tell our group about it today. I think I’ll go,” he said.
“You think?” Aimee cried. “You have to! It’s about maintaining our reputation as Harry Potter fanatics!” She was about to tell him about the challenge that Rowling had written about on the last page, but decided to when she confirmed it. The prospect of winning the challenge was all the more exciting as she thought about it more every minute, but...
She could wait.
The next afternoon, Aimee wore her best shirt, a lemon yellow with blue flowers dotted all over the cloth. She stuffed all of her Harry Potter books into one large bag and ran off to the lighthouse. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day, and the water soaking her hair and falling in her eyes wasn’t helping her reach quickly. She swung off her bag and covered her head with it, determined to ask about the challenge as soon as possible before she had to wait any longer.
She skidded to a stop in front of the park gates, splattering mud all over her jeans. Just past the gate, in the park, she saw a long line of people, holding up their books and cheering. Well, it wasn’t a line, it was mostly a blob clambering to get under the canopy for protection, but fans were still flooding out of the covered area. She would get lost in the crowd as large as the sea.
Aimee pushed the gates open with a screech and trotted inside, but she went around the crowd. Some people called to her, telling her to get back in line and wait her turn, but this was more important than getting her books signed. She needed to know if the challenge was real, or if it had happened before already, and how many people knew about it. This was too important for a Harry Potter fan to just stay back and wait.
She pushed her way through the crowd and into the tent, where she caught a glimpse of a woman with reddish-brown hair. J.K. Rowling!
Aimee sidestepped people trying to push her back and eventually made it past the jostling crowd to the front, right in front of the renowned author.
“Ms. Rowling!” she called.
The author was signing a small boy’s book for him, and when she finished, she handed it back and smiled. Aimee couldn’t hear their conversation, and Rowling couldn’t hear Aimee either over the chattering crowd and thundering rain.
“Ms. Rowling!” Aimee repeated, a little louder this time. This time, two burly men standing under the tent beside the author noticed Aimee, and one of them walked toward her.
“Get back in line, miss,” he said in a deep voice.
Aimee stared at him and shook off his hands on her shoulders. “No, I need to talk to her,” she pointed at the author. “It’s important!”
“That’s what all of you fanatics say, but get back in line and wait your turn,” he said, a touch of irritation in his voice.
Aimee stood her ground. She needed to talk to J.K. Rowling about this urgently. She had waited long enough. “I need --”
The guard pushed her back, and Aimee realized he was not going to let her get any closer. With all the energy she could muster, she yelled, “MS. ROWLING! I NEED TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THE HORCRUX!”
This time the author did hear her and looked up, bewildered. She had just handed back the book of another child and noticed Aimee waving to her with the annotated copy of The Deathly Hallows in her hand.
“Norman! Bring her over here!” Aimee heard Rowling call to the guard pushing her.
Without waiting any longer, Aimee tore past the guard and stopped in front of the author, her hair dripping, and her shoes completely soaked. Face-to-face with her literary idol, the words had stopped short of her mouth. Aimee couldn’t find her voice.
J.K. raised an eyebrow. “You said you know about the Horcrux?”
Aimee tried to say “yes”, but choked on her words. She cleared her throat and managed a croaky whisper. “Yes.”
Rowling smiled mischievously. “Your name, love?”
“Aimee. Aimee Vass.”
“Nice to meet you, Aimee,” Rowling held out her hand, and Aimee couldn’t believe she was shaking hands with the one and only author of Harry Potter. The author gestured for the guards to close the book signing for a lunch break and led Aimee into another tent where they could sit and talk. Finding two plastic chairs, Rowling motioned for Aimee to sit down and took one for herself.
Aimee pulled out the annotated Deathly Hallows and started explaining what she had found. When she finished, the author looked at her with an amused expression on her face. A few minutes passed before she spoke.
“So. You’ve found it,” JK said.
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” JK paused, carefully thinking about her answer. “It’s like this. I annotated a few copies of the Deathly Hallows and I’ve hidden them around London. You’ve found one of them. It’s a hunt --”
“You mean other people have found the rest of the copies?” Aimee interrupted, unable to contain her excitement.
“Yes. It’s a hunt where you have to find one last Horcrux that’s not included in the book itself, but I’ve made it up,” JK continued. “You need to decipher some clues that will lead you to the Horcrux.”
Aimee was confused. “Like a treasure hunt? And where can I find the clues? And why are you telling just me? You said there were other people too? I don’t remember you announcing the game!”
JK grinned. “Way too many questions at a time, love. It is like a treasure hunt, and I’m not telling you where the clues are. What’s the fun in that? Secondly, I already announced it two weeks ago.”
“Oh. I wasn’t in England two weeks ago,” Aimee sighed. She rose from her chair, clutching the book to her chest. “Thanks, anyway.”
She waved at JK as she ran out of the tent, and she thought of only one thing.
She needed to find that first clue.
For the rest of the day, Aimee thought about where the first clue might be. It wouldn’t be wise to search all of London for it, the city was too big for that. But it had to be somewhere related to Harry Potter. And how many clues were there?
Aimee lay plopped on her bed, reading secretly under the covers. If her mother suspected her of reading another copy of the book she had read before, then she would be in trouble. Serious trouble.
It was half-past midnight, and while everyone else was asleep, Aimee lay wide awake, searching for the clue. The warmth of the covers and the softness of the bed tricked her into closing her eyes once, but she snapped back awake immediately and had chided herself for doing so. She needed to concentrate. If the clue was anywhere, it would be in the book, she had deduced. She must have read the book three times just searching for the clue. It seemed as if every part of the book could be relevant to the clue, but it just wasn’t there. Maybe Rowling had placed the clue in another book? Aimee was about to close the book when she saw it.
“But the only object anyone seemed to associate with Ravenclaw was the lost diadem…”
Right next to this line, Rowling had written:
A Horcrux is stored in a precious object. Things, places, and people. You must go to the place, where Harry first met his precious people.
Aimee could almost hear Rowling’s voice, singing the poem-like clue in her head. It felt like Aimee knew the answer, but she couldn’t place it. Harry Potter’s precious people? The Dursleys definitely weren’t precious to Harry, and his parents had died when he was a year old. His friends, maybe? Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger? They were precious to him, and they had come with him everywhere. Ginny, Ron’s sister, was precious as well, to Harry. But where had he met them first? Aimee closed her eyes and searched through her mind, clawing through all of the information she had stored about the books she had read. And then she knew the answer. Her eyes flipped open, and she sat up in bed.
She needed to go to King’s Cross Station.
Aimee was the first one up the next morning, and after leaving a note for her family telling them where she was going, she grabbed a piece of toast and stole away into the haze of early morning. The station wasn’t too far from her house, and she wasn’t surprised to see it bustling with action and full of people even so early in the morning. But the real question was: Where was the next clue? Where could she find it, in the midst of the sea of people swarming in and out of the station every minute?
She turned to find a station guard, in case JK Rowling had stationed people to be in on the game. She called one of them and tried to ask about the challenge, but over the thousands of voices echoing off the wall and the voice of the person announcing the next train arrival, it was pointless.
As Aimee stood rooted to the spot, frantically looking around for a place that might have the next clue, she was pushed around by the travellers either boarding or getting off the trains, shouting at her to get out of the way. Her head spun from being kicked around like that, and she almost stumbled to the floor. It was easy to get lost in a large station like this one, and there were hundreds of platforms on which the next clue could be.
When she exited the station to get away from the chaos, she noticed another station guard walking around in front of the station, holding a golden goblet in his right hand. He seemed to be asking people whether it belonged to them. The goblet looked familiar, and an idea sparked through Aimee’s mind. She ran under the overhangs, keeping her eyes on the guard. She couldn’t lose him.
She tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, sir, I think that’s mine,” she said, holding out her hand.
“Sorry, that’s mine.”
Aimee looked around, trying to figure out who had said that. A boy who looked to be about her age appeared to her left. Spiky brown hair sticking up and wearing frameless glasses, the boy looked victorious. When he caught Aimee looking at him, he scowled at her, and she immediately fixed her gaze back to the guard.
“Okay, children, don’t mess with me. I found this goblet left in a trolley between platforms nine and ten, and neither of you were there before. I was standing there all morning,” the guard reasoned. “Run along now, quickly, before I have to take you to the inspector.”
At the words “between platforms nine and ten”, Aimee sucked in a breath. This had to be the next clue she was looking for. The Hogwarts train stopped at platform nine and three-quarters, and the goblet was so exquisite that it couldn’t have been left there accidentally. Beautifully golden with what looked like a king’s crown as its base, it looked just like the goblet from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Before the other boy could say anything, Aimee cut in. “Oh, my father passes through this station everyday. He’s the station inspector, you see. He recently won that goblet in an auction, and he carries it around like his own pet. He must have dropped it.” Aimee held her breath. I probably pushed my luck there, she thought. She had told a series of lies, just to get that goblet. She hoped it would pass.
The guard stroked his chin thoughtfully, still clinging to the goblet. “Sir did mention a daughter.” He looked at Aimee closely, like she was a museum exhibit. “And you match his description, I guess. All right, miss, here you go.” He handed her the goblet.
The boy’s scowl was even darker than before. His twisted face surprised Aimee for a moment, but then she ran off, back home to solve the next puzzle.
He must be another competitor, Aimee thought, and giggled at how quickly she had fooled the guard.
When she opened the door to her home, her parents bombarded her with questions.
“Where were you?
“You’re not supposed to go out alone!”
“You could have been kidnapped!”
Unfazed by their concerns, Aimee stepped past them and walked to her room without a word. They were probably going to stop her from finding the Horcrux, but she didn’t want that to happen. She didn’t want anyone to interfere with her work when she had gone through so much to retrieve everything in the first place. They didn’t approve of Harry Potter, but no one was forcing them to read it. Her mother would definitely snatch her “toys”, as she called it, away.
Ignoring her parents’ calls, Aimee shut the door to her room and plopped on the bed, studying the goblet. She ran a finger across the smooth surface, occasionally feeling bumps and carvings in the cup, and turned the goblet upside down. Nothing came out, no message fluttered on her bed, nothing. There was nothing special about the goblet, except for the fact that it was a stunning goblet from the fourth book of the series. As she ran her finger across the top of the cup, she noticed an odd engraving. It read:
Erus aert testa erg snamsi erus aem dnoye btiw
Huh? Aimee thought. That doesn’t make any sense!
It didn’t look like a substitution cipher, but it could be. After all, there were two words that were the same, erus. She copied the clue onto a piece of paper and held it up to a mirror. The message remained garbled, and now it made even less sense. Maybe it was another language?
Sitting in front of her computer, she typed the same words into the search box, but nothing came up. So it wasn’t even a language? Not French, Latin, Spanish, or any other language that used the same script as English?
Aimee read the message out loud slowly, word by word, hoping that it was an audio clue. When that didn’t work, she tried to read it quickly, squishing the words together, but she stumbled on each time and her tongue twisted weirdly. Tired of trying to guess and failing, Aimee read the message forward and backward, and her eyes swung like a pendulum. She pronounced the message back and forth, and oddly enough, something started to make sense.
Aimee copied the message again, but this time she wrote it starting from the end of the sentence. This is what she ended up with:
Aimee gleefully slapped her desk and read the message aloud. “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure. Where have I heard that before?”
She repeated the message over and over again and checked her books for any sort of clue that might tell her what the sentence meant.
“Who is witty in the books? Dumbledore, Hermione, definitely not Ron, Harry is brave...brave...that’s it!” Aimee slapped her desk again as the pieces came together. “Wit is a quality, just like bravery. And the people who are witty are…” Aimee paused for dramatic effect, like she was hosting a show, and slapped her thighs like a drum roll. “From Ravenclaw!”
Aimee jumped up and down in excitement, then stopped. The message had been written on Ravenclaw's diadem. Where was she supposed to find a diadem? She wouldn’t be allowed in the castle near the queen, just because she was looking for something part of the game. Security would kick her out right away. Unless...she went in disguise. She could pose as one of the princes or princesses. She had a tiara and an elaborate pink silk dress with frills that was definitely fit for a princess. She was beautiful enough, anyway. Aimee threw back her blond hair dramatically, giggling at the thought. All she needed to do was gather her costume. She picked out the dress she needed, still not believing that going in disguise would work, but it was worth a shot, and then looked for her tiara, but it wasn’t in its usual spot, on her desk. She never kept it anywhere else, so it was odd that it wasn’t there. Where had she kept it?
It wasn’t until a few minutes later that Aimee remembered that her mother had broken it two days ago. Aimee’s eyes flashed with anger again as she retrieved the broken pieces from the trash can. What was the use now? No princess would go into a castle with a plastic tiara, let alone a broken one. She gazed at it sadly, noticing its pretty features as if for the first time. The shiny blue sapphire in the center of the tiara, braided plastic with vines stretching out like tree branches, letters entwined through the twists...letters?
Aimee peered closely at the broken tiara, with the object an inch from her nose. Yes, there were definitely letters in between the branches. But what did they spell out? They were jumbled all over the place and when Aimee tried to read them left to right, they made no sense. Not again, she groaned.
She even tried reading right to left, but that didn’t make sense either. What about top to bottom? The letters spelled something out now. It looked like a good day for a scavenger.
Where Harry must die
“AIMEE! What are you doing?!”
Aimee looked up in surprise and dropped the tiara. She saw her mother standing at her door, staring wildly at her. What had she done now? Her mother waved her hand up and down, and Aimee blushed to the color of a tomato. She hadn’t realized that she had put on the dress, but had forgotten to change back.
“Oh, whoops,” Aimee mumbled. “Sorry, just --”
“Too busy sticking your nose in stupid Harry Potter fandom?!” her mother shrieked. “It’s gotten so bad that you pretend to be a princess or whatever it is in those Harry Potter books?! Honestly!”
“Mum, I wasn’t pretending, I was --” Aimee started to tell her mother about the hunt for the Horcrux, but stopped, thinking that would enrage her even more. She wanted to apologize, but instead she said, “What does it matter anyway to you, huh? It’s not like you love to read anything! I wish you would just leave me alone and stop pestering me with your stupid lectures about focusing on something other than Harry Potter! Georgie’s mum is better, at least she doesn’t pull him away from what he likes to do!”
Instantly realizing how badly she had insulted her mother, she put her hand over her mouth, and she calmed down. “Mum, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to --”
Her mother’s face was white as a ghost, but she held up her hand, her voice quivering. “No, I get what you mean, Aimee. I’m sorry I ever tried to teach you anything.” With that, she slammed the door, leaving Aimee in an uncomfortable silence that tortured her brain.
Tears welled up in her eyes, and she dropped to the floor, crying. What had she done? She was so captivated by Harry Potter that she had insulted her own mother? She didn’t have the courage to go talk to her, and she didn’t want to continue with the game anymore. Sobbing miserably, Aimee got back to her feet and changed out of her dress. She wiped her nose on her white t-shirt, remembering how she and her mother used to go shopping in the malls on the weekends. She missed her mother’s warmth and how she used to cradle her when she was upset.
The door opened again, and for one fleeting moment Aimee hoped it was her mother. Instead, it was her father, staring wildly at Aimee’s curled form. “What did you say to her?” he asked.
Aimee turned her back to him. “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” she sobbed.
She heard her father sigh and mutter, “Girls.”
When her tears had dried out, Aimee could barely see what was in front of her. A part of her wanted to run to her mother and apologize, but the majority of her, and Aimee hated herself for feeling that way, wanted to continue the game. After debating fiercely in her mind, she decided that maybe if she won the game, if she retrieved the missing Horcrux, then maybe, just maybe, she could show her mother that the Harry Potter series was not a waste of time, and that she actually did something with all the information she had kept from the books. She picked up the crown again and tried to read the letters, but her vision was blurred by more tears threatening to fall. She wiped her eyes and willed herself not to cry, and concentrated again.
She read the letters from the top down, and remembered what the clue had said.
“Where H-Harry must d-die,” she whispered, her voice cracking a little, forcing the lump in her throat to recede.
It wasn’t in Hogwarts, his school, but there had been a ferocious fight between Hogwarts and Death Eaters, or Voldemort’s supporters. Harry knew he must die, after he watched Snape’s memories in the Pensieve, Aimee recalled. Harry went to Voldemort to die. They confronted each other in Hogwarts, but that was when Voldemort died. Am I forgetting something?
Aimee couldn’t keep her eyes open after crying so much, and all she wanted to do was sleep. She would after she figured out the clue. It felt like she hadn’t slept well in days, which she hadn’t, really. Aimee had been too busy pondering over the clues and wondering what she would find next to sleep. Not that this was the first time this had happened. Back when Aimee had been introduced to Harry Potter by none other than her mother, she would spend hours on Pottermore reading articles about Harry Potter characters, and playing their games, often late into the night, when her mother would have to carry Aimee into her bed.
Aimee stared at the diadem as if it would start talking and give her the answer. To Aimee’s surprise, it did! It didn’t talk, but Aimee now noted that the letters were entwined within the branches of a tree. She had seen that before, but she thought the tree was just part of the decoration. Now she realized that --
“It’s a hint!” she exclaimed. “The tree means that I have to go to a forest. The Forbidden Forest! That’s where Harry was supposed to die!”
Aimee twirled around her room, momentarily forgetting that ten minutes ago, she was on the floor crying miserably after fighting with her mother. She already knew which forest she had to go to. That part was obvious. Being a mega Harry Potter fan, she had participated in all of the events that JK Rowling had hosted relating to Harry Potter activities, and one of them had been in Heartwood Forest, where Rowling had given a tour of what the Forbidden Forest looked like in her stories. It only made sense to make that the location of the Forbidden Forest again, and Aimee was sure of it.
Aimee pulled on her coat and looked back one last time at her father, who was watching her go. She stared at him for confirmation, and when he nodded, she opened the door and stepped out into the wind howling.
Aimee knew that she had to go to the forest today itself, for two reasons. One, the Horcrux might be gone by tomorrow, and two, she wanted to fix the relationship between her and her mother as soon as possible. To most people, it sounded absurd that Aimee might be able to convince someone who hated Harry Potter by winning a hunt related to Harry Potter, but Aimee knew that her mother didn’t exactly hate it. It was worth a try, at least.
It also wasn’t odd for Aimee to go anywhere alone. As an only child, she had freedom to roam around London as long as she didn’t go too far, which really meant wherever. Her parents weren’t interested in anything related to Harry Potter, so they chose to let Aimee go alone.
She turned a corner on the street and continued walking until she saw a sign that pointed her in the direction of the trail that led to the forest. Aimee followed the street until it merged with the trail, and stopped. Heartwood Forest was mostly an open field, with trees surrounding it, and pretty purple flowers lining the trail and popping up between the trees. The Horcrux could be anywhere in this vast area, and Aimee was running out of time. She wasn’t so keen on going into a forest in the night, but she had no choice. Deep breath.
On and on and on for minutes, which turned into an hour, and still no luck. She looked on the branches of the trees, near the roots, she parted the flowers, and dug through the ground, but the Horcrux was nowhere to be found.
Aimee gasped. The sound of a person’s footsteps on fallen leaves. “Hello?” she squeaked.
She looked around wildly, and she was sure she hadn’t stepped on a twig.
It was getting dark. Fast. The sun was slowly dipping past the horizon, and she needed to get out of there before anyone saw her. She still hadn’t found that last Horcrux.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Aimee let out another gasp and ducked behind a tree, peeling her eyes to see who, or what was coming. Someone was looking for her. She couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was being watched.
She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Her vision was partially blocked by the trees spanning across the area, and the footsteps had stopped too. She couldn’t move ahead with her mission until she was certain that she was alone. Suddenly, she smelled a strong stench of rancid cheese, but she couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Aimee covered her nose with her hands, but she could still smell it. It was all she could do to keep from throwing up.
“Where is that smell coming from?” she whispered, her eyes tearing up.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
The person was on the move again.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.
The footsteps were getting faster and faster.
Crunch, crunch, CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH…
The footsteps were getting louder and faster, and still Aimee couldn’t see who it was. The smell was stronger now, like it was right behind her.
Right behind her.
Aimee froze. She could hear herself breath. Slowly, with her back still to whatever was behind her, she stiffly stood up, careful not to stumble backward.
There was a sudden gust of wind, and it carried a whisper.
She took a step forward, away from the person or thing behind her.
I’m right heeere.
She wasn’t going to linger around now.
Aimee broke into a run, pushing herself to speed up, out of the trees and into the fields. The whisper sounded like a call, pulling her somewhere, but it was still creepy. She stopped, panting, and looked over her shoulder. There was a dark shadow among the trees, and it looked like a boy as tall as Aimee, and there were spikes erupting from his head. He looked familiar, but there was no time to stop and check. He wasn’t running, but he was watching Aimee as she ran.
She continued running through the fields when her foot got caught in something and she stumbled and fell.
“Ow,” she moaned, and lifted herself on her elbow. She crawled through the grass, finally finding what had tripped her. A small, rectangular package wrapped neatly in brown paper sat innocently in the grass, waiting to be opened. Aimee didn’t want to wait until she got home. She couldn’t hide it from her parents. It was too big to fit in her pockets, but it was as small as a diary.
Was it a diary?
Aimee’s curiosity took over, and she ripped open the packaging. It was a two sided photo frame, with a photo inserted in each side. The border was made of dark-chocolate brown, polished wood, and the word FAMILY written in cursive on top. On one side of the frame was an illustration of Lily, James, and Harry Potter when he was a baby, all happily smiling back at Aimee. On the other side was a black-and-white photo of a little girl in a plaid dress laughing, with two young, happy parents smiling down at her.
When Aimee shook the paper to see if anything else was in there, a small piece of paper fluttered out.
To the person holding this note:
On one side of the photo is a photo of Harry Potter when his parents were still alive, and on the other side is a picture of my family, when I was a little girl. Both of these are my closest family. This Horcrux is not what it’s supposed to be. I’ve put my soul into this Horcrux, but out of love for both my families. I hope you make many Horcruxes like this and cherish them forever.
Aimee grinned at the message. She knew what she had to do. Clutching the message and the photo frame tightly in her hand, she jumped up and ran home. She needed to make a Horcrux.
She swung open the door to find her parents standing in the living room, talking, but without waiting any further, she ran to her mother and hugged her tightly.
“What?” her mother exclaimed out of surprise.
Aimee kept her hands firmly around her mother’s waist and gazed into her soft, brown eyes. She looked just like her mother, with her almond-shaped brown eyes and the straight, white-blond hair. She wanted her mother. She wanted her father. She wanted Harry Potter. She wanted all of them.
“I’m sorry, mum. I really am,” Aimee whispered. She really meant it. “I love you.”
Aimee buried her face in her mother’s shoulder. Her mother wasn’t shocked anymore.
There was a long moment of silence, and then Aimee felt a warm hand stroking her hair.
“I love you too.”