Sorry for the wait, but at least it wasn't as long as last time! From now on I'll just warn you that the updates will generally come a lot slower than normal - maybe every couple of months - because I'm graduating high school on Thursday and then starting full-time employment, so I really don't know how busy I'll be. Fair warning now, but I won't abandon this one. Promise. ;)
"Come...come to me...let me rip you...let me tear you...let me kill you..."
Harry froze immediately at the sound of the venomous voice that seemed to echo from the very walls of the hallway. It was a deep voice, but so chilling that it seemed to freeze its way through to his very bone marrow.
It had been a boring enough evening before he'd heard it. He had gotten detention for the fight with the Slytherin Quidditch team, but while the others had gone to Filch or to McGonagall or to Hagrid, Snape had requested Harry to serve with him - and he found out why when he got there. Apparently someone - three guesses who - had told the Potions professor what Harry had said on the field, about Snape lacking the authority to give his Slytherins access to the Quidditch field after it'd already been booked. Clearly Snape wasn't happy with the results.
Following in detention had been four hours of back-breaking labor, bent over the desks to scrub all of the potions spills and stains from the table legs. Apparently it really only mattered that the top of the tables were clean - the legs didn't really affect anything and so were largely left alone until once a month Snape gave the chore of cleaning them all to the most unfortunate student to make him angry at the time. This time was Harry, obviously, and he'd been told in no uncertain terms that if he was to leave before everything was done to the dour professor's liking, he would receive another month's worth of detentions with Snape in all manners of unpleasantness.
So, when Harry had finally finished and was sufficiently sore, he tiredly made his way to Gryffindor Tower. It had been along the way that the voice had stopped him cold, raising him to alertness far better than a freezing splash of water to the face - something he'd been the recipient of many a time at home.
Even as he froze in mid-step, his brain kept working and identified the subtle hissing sound behind the words as a language he knew very well - Parseltongue.
He immediately ran in the direction he thought the voice was heading, but the voice moved very fast - faster than he could keep up.
Then he came upon a corner, and the voice faded and disappeared.
As silence descended once more on the hallway, only broken by Harry's harsh breathing, Harry realized that he had no idea where he was. It was still a bit chilly, so he knew he must still be in the dungeons, but other than that, he hadn't the faintest clue. To top it off, the torches had all gone out while he'd been running, prompting him to use Lumos so he could see while he ran.
Gosh, it'd be real useful to have the Marauder's Map Dad and Sirius have gone on about right about now, Harry thought, shivering as a draft seemed to go over him. He raised his wand a bit higher, hoping that by doing so he could see better.
As he wandered aimlessly, looking for something familiar, he began to doubt what he'd heard. Surely a snake couldn't be so big as to move as fast as it had seemed to? He couldn't think of any snake bigger than that boa constrictor he'd (accidentally!) set on Oliver at the zoo before his first year, though he knew there were some bigger ones. Not any he'd seen though, and definitely not one as big as what the one belonging to the dark voice seemed to be.
He must've been tired, he decided. And sore. Surely after such a detention with Snape, it was normal to hear voices echo in the walls? Even if it was Parseltongue he'd heard.
Somehow, he couldn't quite convince himself that this was the case.
Suddenly he heard something ahead of him in the dark hallway, something that sounded like footsteps. He raised his wand again, strengthening the Lumos lighting the tip of it.
"Hello?" He called, hoping it was a teacher checking for students past curfew, who could get him back to the dorm some time before morning.
He heard the sound again, but no one called back. He walked faster to where he'd heard the sound, wondering if something was wrong. Then suddenly he heard what were definitely footsteps - they seemed to be walking quickly away, making Harry immediately suspicious.
"Who's there?" he demanded, even as he increased his speed to catch up.
He turned a corner in the hallway, shining his wand light high -
- and almost smacked in to Draco, who seemed to have been walking towards him.
"Draco!" Harry exclaimed breathlessly, lowering his wand so that it wasn't in his friend's face. "What are you doing here? Did you see anyone running your way?"
Draco shook his head as though trying to clear it. "No - I...where are we?"
Harry's brow creased. No one had been there and Draco didn't know where he was, either?
"I dunno," Harry said, swinging around and shining his light back down the hallway. But nothing was there. It made him feel uneasy. He turned back to face his friend. "Are you sure no one came this way?"
Draco nodded, still looking bewildered. "I didn't see anyone," he told the dark-haired boy. "What are you doing down here?"
"I had detention with Snape, and then I heard..." He trailed off, hesitating before deciding that he must've imagined the voice speaking in Parseltongue, and said, "Nevermind. I got lost, and then the torches went out, so I don't know where I am. How'd you get here? Do you know the way back to the Tower?"
"If we go up another floor, there's probably a painting that can tell us," Draco suggested. "I haven't seen one down here."
Harry shrugged. "Worth a try, but where's a staircase that we can get to?"
"I think there's one at the end of this hall," Draco said, turning and going back the way he seemed to have come. As he turned, something dropped from the waistband of his trousers. Harry got a quick glimpse of a black leather diary before Draco scooped it up in his hand and quickly stuffed it back in the waistband, right next to his hip bone.
"Hey, did you steal someone's diary?" Harry accused. "Is that Hermione's?"
"Of course not!" Draco sneered in an offended tone. "I'm not a thief, and I don't care to read someone's private thoughts! That's personal!"
Harry felt sorry for accusing his friend, but before he could apologize, the thought occurred to him and he blurted, "So that diary is yours, then? You keep a diary?!" He was delighted with this piece of friendly blackmail material, and Draco's blush and subsequent silence only confirmed it.
"Oh my gosh!" Harry laughed. "A twelve-year-old boy keeps a diary! Wait till Ron finds out!"
"It's not bad for me to have a diary," Draco defended, though something odd flickered in his eyes, disappearing before Harry could notice. "You don't have to tell Ron about it."
Harry laughed. "If it wasn't a big deal, you wouldn't care if I told Ron - would you?" He grinned and teased, "So, what do you write about then? Your crush on Hermione? Don't think I didn't notice, mate, 'cause it's obvious to anyone with two eyes, and I've got four!"
"I don't have a crush on Hermione," Draco denied, but his rosy cheeks declared this statement as false.
"Of course you do!" Harry laughed joyously. "I bet you write all about her in that very 'manly' diary you've got there." He reached over and snatched it before Draco could pull away.
"Have you planned your babies' names yet?" Harry taunted, holding the book away from the reaching boy. "Decided where you'll get married?"
He hadn't intended to open it at all - it wasprivate, after all, and he could respect that, though he was okay with making his friend thinkhe might - but as he pulled it out of Draco's reach, his fingers slipped on the front cover and it fell open, pages rushing past. And Harry realized oddly that there was nothing written on the pages.
"Why are you trying to keep it from me if you haven't even written in it?" Harry asked in a surprised voice, stopping his teasing. "It's not like I'll read any of your private thoughts..."
"Look, it's mine, okay? Just give it back," Draco demanded. Now confused at the harshness in his friend, he obeyed, but as it switched hands, Harry saw a brief glimpse of a name plate, and saw the name Riddle at the end.
"Why doesn't the nameplate have your name on it?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"Look, it doesn't matter," Draco said, tucking the diary back into the waistband of his trousers, though deeper this time so Harry couldn't grab it so easily again. "It's mine - I just picked it up in Diagon Alley before school before seeing the name. I used invisible ink to write in it so no one could see it, and used a password on it that only I know. Now, are we done with the Inquisition that we can get back to the Tower?"
Harry was taken aback a bit by Draco's annoyance, but chalked it up to it being late on top of the worry that someone might have read his private thoughts - even if it had been a friend. That would've put him on edge too, he realized.
He sighed. "Sorry, Draco. I didn't mean to be mean. I was just playin'."
Some of the tension eased off of the blond's face. "It's fine," he muttered. "I'm just tired. McGonagall had me writing lines till I thought my hand would fall off. It must be close to midnight by now."
"I think it's around half past one," Harry corrected. "I left Snape's office around midnight and I don't know exactly how long I've been wandering, but it's been quite awhile."
Draco's brow creased with concealed worry, and he yawned and said, "Whatever. I'm just ready for my comfy bed in our dorms."
"Ain't that the truth," Harry yawned.
So tired were they that, other than asking a few portraits how to get back to the Tower, they made the rest of the trip in silence.
With Halloween approaching, the mood of the school grew steadily more excited. Halloween had always been a widely celebrated holiday in the wizarding world, more so since the Halloween of 1981. And Hermione reflected that the attitude of witches and wizards around Halloween time was exactly if not similar to those of Muggles at Christmas time. The halls seems to constantly smell of pumpkins and cinnamon, and on Halloween morning there was evidence of decorating in the Great Hall, with pumpkins littered about every surface. It was all in preparation for the feast that night.
Harry didn't plan on participating in the feast; he had already made plans with his parents, and was going to be pulled out of school after classes were finished. Harry wasn't sure exactly what they would be doing, but his dad had said that they would be doing more than just going to Lily's gravesite.
But he wasn't thinking about that at lunchtime – no, he was thinking of the apparent giant snake roaming around the school. He still wasn't positive that he'd truly heard the voice – he hadn't heard it at all since that night after detention with Snape, and that had been more than two weeks ago.
Harry was startled out of his thoughts when a hand clamped down on his shoulder as he exited the Great Hall. He turned his head to see Oliver standing there with a somewhat concerned expression on his face. Harry couldn't remember the last time he had seen the older boy show such blatant concern, and he wondered what Oliver wanted.
"Can we talk, Harry?" The boy said, and Harry nodded.
"Sure. What's up?"
Oliver pulled Harry further down the corridor where there were less people before speaking.
"Alright, out with it," Oliver said bluntly, releasing his grasp on his friend. "You've been walking around nervously for a couple of weeks now, and I know that it's not about Quidditch. So spill it. What's bothering you?"
"It's nothing, Oliver, really," Harry tried. "I'm just a bit tired."
"Bollocks," Oliver stated. "Try again. Is it Slytherins? Are they bothering you? Do I need to go beat the shit out of someone?"
"No, Oliver! I'm fine!" Harry exclaimed quickly before Oliver could get too angry. "It's just…" he didn't know what to say, but now Oliver was just looking at him, waiting for an explanation. So, Harry decided on the truth.
"After that fight with the Slytherin team," he started, "I got assigned detention with Snape. I got out of the detention really late, and as I was walking back I heard…a voice. I don't know where it came from, but it was talking about killing."
Oliver's eyebrows shot up and he paled just slightly. "A voice talking about killing," he repeated. "Did you recognize the voice? Was it a student? Or a teacher?"
"No, I didn't recognize the voice, but it wasn't a student or a teacher." Harry said quietly. "And I'm not totally sure that I really did hear it – I mean, it was late, and I was sore and tired from detention..."
"Harry, don't try and talk yourself out of what you heard," Oliver said in as stern a voice as he had ever used. "You know that you are not the type to imagine voices, especially voices talking about killing."
Harry spoke again before Oliver could continue. "But it wasn't a normal voice!" he insisted. "I mean, I tried to follow it, but it seemed to be coming from the walls, and it moved really fast. I was running and it still disappeared before I could find out where the voice was coming from."
Oliver gave him a searching look. "There's something you're not telling me," he finally said. "What else is there?"
Harry fidgeted. He wasn't used to the older boy being so serious – usually he was playful and teasing, even to the point of annoyance. Having him act practically like an adult was strange and a bit intimidating – not that he would ever tell Oliver that. Perhaps that was what caused him to confess.
"Well...at first I thought it was just a normal voice, just deeper than I was used to and a bit strange and intimidating, but then I heard this subtle sort of hissing behind the words. The voice – it was in Parseltongue."
The look on Oliver's face was frightening, so Harry quickly continued, "Usually snakes aren't bad – you know that. I mean, you remember the snakes that would come into our yard - even the poisonous ones were nice when they found out I could speak their language. And we both know that that Anaconda at the zoo wouldn't have really hurt you. But, this snake…" he shuddered unconsciously. "I can tell that it wasn't a normal snake. This snake just sounded so…angry…and if anyone ever saw it, the best course of action would be running the other way. But, on the other hand, it couldn't have been a snake. It moved too fast, and I don't even know where it was in the first place. I don't know how thick the walls are, but I shouldn't have been able to hear the voice through one, from another corridor. Plus, its voice was deeper than the other ones I've heard. So, that's why I think that it was really just in my head – I mean, it's not possible for me to hear that for real, is it?"
"Have you told Uncle James and Uncle Sirius about this?" Oliver asked without answering Harry's question.
Harry shook his head. "I didn't know that I should. It might not be real, so why worry them?"
"Harry, you need to tell them," Oliver said solemnly. "I don't know what it is that you heard, but if there's something that's a danger to the school, and especially to you, then your parents need to know about it. We don't want a repeat of last year."
Harry nodded wordlessly, agreeing to telling his dad and godfather that night.
"And," Oliver continued with a sudden teasing glint in his eyes, "If you're just hearing voices and are crazy like I've said all along, they should probably find out sooner rather than later so that they can start searching for a mental institution with reasonable costs for you."
There was the Oliver he knew.
"Aw, shut up," Harry said with a quirking smile, punching Oliver in the shoulder.
Oliver laughed and threw an arm about Harry's shoulders. "Come on, Harrykins. You've gotta get to class before McGonagall turns you into cat food meant for when she feels like tapping in to her feline side."
Harry rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "And you've gotta get to class before Snape adds your bollocks to his potion supplies."
Oliver nodded sagely, smirk playing at the corners of his lips. "Always a concern to keep in mind, that one."
When James and Sirius arrived at Hogwarts that evening, Harry knew immediately that they were doing something very different this year than in any past year. Usually they were in casual but nice Muggle clothes so that they could visit Lily and Remus' gravestones, but this time the two of them wore Muggle jeans and T-shirts, with a leather jacket and a denim jacket on Sirius and James respectively. Harry could also immediately see that they didn't seem nearly as melancholy as they always did in past years. Rather, while they still looked a bit sad, their expressions were still more cheerful and excited.
Harry was a bit bewildered, but he went along with it as the three of them exited the Hogwarts gates, talking about nothing in particular. Then James wrapped an arm about Harry's shoulders, and there was a sudden pressure that came at him from all sides, like he was being squeezed through a straw.
After the apparation had ended, Harry and had to bend over with his hands on his knees to try and stop the sickening rushing in his head that made him queasy.
"Warn a bloke, will you?" Harry finally wheezed at his dad.
But before James had time to say anything or otherwise retort, the sound surrounding them finally processed in Harry's ears, and he looked up suddenly.
"We're going to an amusement park?" Harry said disbelievingly.
Sirius gasped dramatically, feigning being deeply wounded. "Harry James Potter," he said mock sternly. "This is not just an amusement park. This is freaking Disneyland!"
"Okay," Harry said, nonplused. "But why are we going to Disneyland today, of all days?"
"Well, you know how Lily and Remus were avid Disney-lovers," James said. "We thought that rather than it being a very sad day, we could have some fun instead. I know usually we don't do this sort of thing, but that's all the more reason to do it now. And it seems like doing something that would give us fond remembrance of them would be more meaningful than going to their gravestones. We can visit their gravestones later, but we decided that this would be better for tonight. Is it alright with you?"
"Yeah," Harry said. In truth, it was more than alright. Of course he had always missed the people that his parents had been so close to, and he had wished to know them in his own life. On the other hand, he had never really known them, so while it was more meaningful for James and Sirius to go and see the actual gravestones, he missed more the idea of Lily and Remus than anything else. Therefore he had always felt like it was more his parents' sorrow that had meant something, and sometimes he felt as though he was intruding on something when they started talking to the gravestones as though Lily and Remus were there for real. So, if James and Sirius wanted to go to Disneyland, he felt that that was up to their discretion more than his. And, it wasn't as though going to Disneyland was a hardship.
"Good!" James said with a grin, and slung his arm about Harry's shoulders. "Disneyland Tokyo was the one Lily went to with Remus when we were nineteen, so even though the one in Paris opened a few months ago, we decided here was better. I do hope you've brushed up on your Japanese, Harry."
"Dad, I've never known Japanese," Harry said dryly.
James and Sirius simply laughed while Sirius walked slightly ahead of them, leading the way to the entrance.
"Well, I suppose we'll somehow make do, then!" James said brightly. Harry simply shook his head, but he was grinning along with them.
Draco wasn't sure what was happening to him. He didn't have all of the presence of mind to focus on it, either. He knew that something felt off – wrong – but he somehow couldn't bring his mind to focus on it or care. He walked as though in a trance down the hallway, somehow knowing that he couldn't be caught.
He knew that that was unlikely, though. Everyone was at the Halloween feast. He was alone to do as he pleased.
To the girl's bathroom.
The sibilant voice was hardly heard, merely whispered in his mind like an idea. An invitingly compulsive sort of idea.
His feet carried him down the corridor, in the direction the voice guided.
He obeyed without a second thought. Opening the door, he wasn't fazed by the knowledge that this was the girls bathroom; he had no right to be here. He would be in trouble if anyone knew he was here. But no one would know.
Go to the sinks. Say, "open."
Draco subconsciously clutched the black diary close to his chest and opened his mouth in obedience to the voice in his head. Staring unseeingly at the sink with the little snake carvings that seemed to slither as though alive, he spoke a word in a language he didn't strictly know.
Hope you enjoyed it - let me know in the comments below! :)
UPDATE 9/15/15: I'm so sorry but I have found myself lacking interest of late in this fic, so I've decided to let you guys know I'm going to put it on hiatus for an as yet undetermined amount of time. I think I'll be interested in it again if I just give myself a break. So sorry to all of you following this, but I'm sure any writers will understand. Thanks for all your support thus far! ️ :)