A/N: Hello, lovelies. I'm so sorry for the long wait, this particular chapter has been giving me quite a bit of trouble, I'm still not completely satisfied with it, but I won't make you wait any longer. So here you go.
Oh, and to all those who have signed up to join my plot to take over the world, huzzah! And to those who have yet to join in, you still have a bit of time to join in.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Harry had always been a light sleeper. After years spent being woken at all hours of the night to perform some menial task or another for the Dursley's his body had conditioned itself to never fall to deep into a slumber. This particular skill was a pain when sharing a dormitory with five other boys as both Crabbe and Goyle snored like you wouldn't believe and Blaise had the tendency to mutter nonsense in his sleep. So when someone began gently running their fingers through his hair, he was awake in a matter of seconds. Harry forced his body to remain relaxed in the uncomfortable hospital bed kept and his breathing deep and even, but his visitor wasn't fooled for even a second.
"I know you're awake, Haraldr. Open your eyes, we have things to discuss."
Harry winced, the use of his full name and his father's ominous words did not bode well for him, add to that Loki's flat voice, devoid of any emotion, and he knew that he was in trouble. Big trouble.
Reluctantly, he opened his eyes and peered up at his father. It was late in the night, or early in the morning depending on how one looked at it, and the hospital wing was almost completely dark. Torches strategetically placed along the wall cast the room in shadows and hid most of Loki's features from view.
The flickering shadows made it hard for Harry to discern his father's expression, the thoughts and emotions he'd been to taught to read were lost to the darkness, which meant that Harry couldn't plan his words and actions accordingly. So he tried for an endearing smile and silently hoped for the best, but it didn't seem to move the man in the slightest. "'lo Dad."
"What were you thinking?"
Harry grimaced, it seemed that there would be no beating around the bush, or careful broaching of the subject, Loki was going straight for the kill. "I'm sorry," he muttered pushing himself up into a sitting position in the mildly uncomfortable hospital bed.
"I didn't ask if you we're sorry," Loki said coldly. "I want to know what you were thinking?"
"Obviously, and that is a problem."
"Yes, it is," Loki snapped. "You willingly put yourself in danger tonight. You jumped headfirst into a situation you knew nothing about and almost died because of it."
"I know, it was stupid, I'm sorry," Harry said meekly. "But in my defense I figured Dumbledore had a lifetime supply of lemon drops or an all male brothel hidden under the school, not trolls, and giant chess sets, and evil, should be dead dark lords growing off of the back of my Defense professor's head. So if there's anyone to blame for my current condition, it should be the headmaster for hiding an artifact that he knows the dark lord would be interested in, in a school full of nosy children."
"So you don't think you were in the wrong at all?" Loki said, he seemed calm for the most part, he was still idly playing with Harry's hair and the little of his face Harry could see was relaxed, but he knew not to be fooled, Loki was well known for hiding the most terrifying of emotions under a tranquil, incredibly misleading front. "The headmaster was entirely at fault for tonight's actions?"
"I wouldn't say he's entirely at fault," Harry said hesitantly. "But I do believe that if he'd been wiser in his choices none of this would have happened. I mean, it wasn't exactly the brightest idea to hide such a dangerous artifact here."
Harry's brow rose in surprise. "You do?"
"I do," Loki confirmed. "Dumbledore was not taking in account the possible ramifications of his actions when he decided to hide that blasted stone here. Because of this, I can no longer trust him with the safety of my son, thus I have come to the conclusion that you will not be returning next year."
Harry's jaw dropped. "You can't be serious?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"Because-because you can't pull me out of Hogwarts, you just can't!"
"You almost died, Haraldr," Loki snarled, his calm façade suddenly falling, replaced with a terrifying fury. "You could have died. Your headmaster's stupidity put your life and the lives of hundreds of others of children in danger. You will not be returning next year."
"There will be no debate, Haraldr. Dumbledore has proven that he does not have the abilities required to keep you safe, so I will no longer allow him to try."
"Of course he doesn't," Harry said desperately. "No one does, that's why you've been teaching me how to protect myself. Don't you trust me and all the things I've learned."
"Of course I do," Loki said. "You are powerful, incredibly so, and one day you will be an incredible warrior, but that day is not today. You are still a child, Harry, young and inexperienced, and there are men out there, men like Voldemort, who are older and more powerful than you. You need to be protected until you are fully capable of protecting yourself, and that is something Dumbledore has proven time and time again that he is unable to do."
"So where will I go?" Harry asked bitterly. "Back to the Dursley's where they can belittle me, make me feel unwanted, lower than dirt? Would you really send me back to them?"
"No, I would not. I will take you, we will leave to some forgotten corner of the universe and live out our lives in peace, free from worry, and fear, and expectations that we couldn't possibly live up to."
Harry smiled sadly. "And what happens to our family, to my friends?" he asked. "Will we forget about them? And do you honestly believe that they will forget about us? They will search every nook and cranny of the universe, and they won't give up until they've found us."
"You underestimate me."
"And you underestimate them and the sheer tenacity those searching for those they love posses," Harry looked up at his father pleadingly. "We can't leave, if we do we'll constantly be running, hiding from those who want to find us, peace will be nothing more than a pipe dream. It's about time that we accept that no matter what I do or where I go, I will always be in danger, you simply have to trust that I can take care of myself. The only way I can become stronger and more experienced than the people who want to hurt me is if I get experience of my own, but I can't do that if you keep me locked away in some gilded cage for my own protection."
"Please, Dad. Trust me."
Loki's entire body seemed to deflate. "I'm just trying to keep you safe," he said solemnly. "If something were to happen to you, I would never forgive myself."
"You can't protect me forever."
"I know," Loki sighed heavily. "Alright, I'll allow you to stay, but we'll be increasing your training this summer. It's time I taught you how to properly defend yourself."
Harry beamed threw his arms around Loki's neck in a crushing hug. "Thank you,"
"Anything for you, little trickster," he murmured, pressing a kiss to his son's head as he tried to ignore the feeling of trepidation settling in his gut.
Harry was released from the hospital wing in just enough time attend the leaving feast where he cheered along with the rest of Slytherin house when they won the house cup for the seventh year in a row thanks to their stellar performance on the Quidditch pitch. And just like that the year was over. Wardrobes were emptied, trunks were packed, and pets were found, all of the students received and promptly disregarded notes warning them not to use magic over the holidays, then Hagrid took them down to the fleet of boats that sailed across the lake and they boarded the Hogwarts Express. The train ride was spent talking and laughing as the countryside became greener, eating Bettie Bott's Every Flavor Beans as they sped past Muggle towns, and pulling off their wizard robes and putting on jackets and coats just before the train pulled into platform nine and three-quarters at King's Cross Station.
Harry reluctantly said goodbye to his friends, thanked Mrs. Weasley for the hand-knit sweater and fudge, then approached his relatives, all of whom looked appropriately horrified at the mere sight of him. They grunted at him in greeting, then turned swiftly and marched to the car, not even bothering to offer their help or to even see if he was following.
Harry spared one last wave and a grim smile to his friends before following the Dursley's to the car. The hour long trip to Little Whinging was spent in near complete silence, broken only by the low hum of the engine and Vernon's occasional rants at slow drivers. When they finally pulled up to Privet Drive the Dursley's hurried up the drive and left Harry to haul his things up to his bedroom. After his trunk was placed neatly at the foot of his bed and Hedwig's empty cage was set on the rickety old desk, Harry collapsed onto his bed and stared glumly up at the ceiling.
"There's no place like home."
"Now, as we all know, today, is a very important day."
Harry looked up from his plate of bacon and eggs to his uncle who was sitting at the head of the table, trying to look important. He knew he wasn't talking about his birthday, which so happened to be today, so what was he talking about?
"This could very well be the day I make the biggest deal of my career."
Ah, that was it, how could he have forgotten? Vernon had only been talking of nothing else for the past two weeks. Some rich builder and his wife were coming to dinner and Uncle Vernon was hoping to get a huge order from him.
"I think we should run through the schedule one more time," said Uncle Vernon. "We should all be in position at eight o'clock. Petunia, you will be…?"
"In the lounge," Aunt Petunia replied promptly, "waiting to welcome them graciously to our home."
"Good, good. And Dudley?"
"I'll be waiting to open the door," Dudley put on a foul, simpering smile. "May I take your coats, Mr. and Mrs. Mason?"
"They'll love him!" Aunt Petunia cried rapturously.
"Excellent, Dudley," said Uncle Vernon. Then he rounded on Harry "And you?"
Harry arched an eyebrow and, in an impressive imitation of his father's silky tone, said, "I'll be in bedroom, I presume, pretending as if I don't exist?"
"I can't make any promises," Harry shrugged, turning most of his attention back on his breakfast, "we'll just have to see how accommodating I'm feeling," Vernon's face turned red, and it looked as if he was physically restraining himself from lashing out, something Harry was quick to call him out for. "Is there a problem, Uncle?"
"No," Vernon managed to say between his tightly clenched teeth. "No problem at all," Vernon forcefully looked away from Harry and back to his family. "I will lead them into the lounge, introduce you, Petunia, and pour them drinks. At eight-fifteen…"
"I'll announce dinner."
"And, Dudley, you'll say…"
"May I take you through to the dining room, Mrs. Mason?" said Dudley, offering his fat arm to an invisible woman.
"My perfect little gentleman!" sniffed Aunt Petunia.
Vernon aimed a glare at Harry, when he made a soft sound of amusement, but otherwise ignored him. "Now, we should aim to get in a few good compliments at dinner. Petunia, any ideas?"
"Vernon tells me you're a wonderful golfer, Mr. Mason… Do tell me where you bought your dress, Mrs. Mason…"
"How about…'We had to write an essay about our hero at school, Mr. Mason, and I wrote about you.'"
This was too much for both Aunt Petunia and Harry. Aunt Petunia burst into tears and hugged her son, while Harry finally released his pent up laughter. The Dursley's all turned to glare at him.
"I'm sorry," he gasped, wiping tears from his face. "But do you honestly believe anyone would believe that tripe?"
"We wouldn't expect you to understand, boy."
Harry chose to ignore his tone and the unpleasant title he'd given him, although he certainly wouldn't allow it to go on for much longer lest they fall back on old habits. "I suppose you wouldn't. My apologies, please, continue."
"When dinner's over, you take Mrs. Mason back to the lounge for coffee, Petunia," Vernon said stiffly, "and I'll bring the subject around to drills. With any luck, I'll have the deal signed and sealed before the news at ten. We'll be shopping for a vacation home in Majorca this time tomorrow."
"How wonderful," Harry smirked, "I've always wanted to go to Majorca."
Chuckling at his relatives horrified looks, Harry slunk away from the table and up to his bedroom where he settled down to finish the last of his summer homework. By the time the sun had set, he had finished his Potions essay and was well on his way to completing his Transfiguration paper as well when he decided to take a break from his work and get something to eat.
"Dinner smells divine, Aunt." Harry said waltzing into the kitchen. "What are we having?"
Petunia, who was washing the last of the dishes, tensed when he entered the room. "We're having a separate dinner with the Masons." she said. "But I made you that steak and kidney pie you like, as well as treacle tart….For your birthday."
Harry arched an eyebrow, she was probably trying to bribe him into behaving while the Mason's were over, but he didn't mind as long as he got treacle tart. "How kind of you," he retrieved the plate of food from the kitchen table, "I think I'll take this to my room, I wouldn't want to be in your way."
"Thank you," Petunia muttered without looking at him.
Humming softly, Harry took his food up to his bedroom, but froze in the act of closing the door when he saw the odd creature sitting on his bed. The little creature had large, bat-like ears, bulging green eyes the size of tennis balls, and a long, thin nose. Harry noticed that it was wearing what looked like an old pillowcase, with rips for arm and leg-holes. After taking a nice long look at the creature, he recognized it from his text on magical creatures as a house elf.
"Harry Potter!" the elf said in a squeaky high pitched voice.
Harry quickly shut his door the rest of the way, set his food on the desk, and, with a wave of his hand, set up a charm that prevented any sound from leaving his room just as the doorbell rang downstairs. It was technically illegal to use magic over the summer, but as long as he didn't use his wand, the Ministry would remain none the wiser.
"Er, hello," Harry said, settling down in his desk chair. "If you don't mind my asking, who are you? And what are you doing in my bedroom?"
"I am Dobby the house elf, sir," the little creature squeaked. "And Dobby is here to tell, sir…well, it's very difficult, sir…Dobby wonders where to begin."
"How about we start with who sent you?"
Dobby flinched. "Nobody sent Dobby, sir. Dobby came here by himself."
"Dobby has come to warn the great Harry Potter, sir! He must not go back to Hogwarts."
"Okay," Harry said slowly. "Why don't you explain why?"
"There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year," whispered Dobby, suddenly trembling all over "Dobby has known it for months, sir. Harry Potter must not put himself in peril. He is too important, sir!"
"What is this plot? And who's behind it?"
Dobby made an odd strangling noise and then frantically began banging his head upon the wall. Harry leapt to his feet and grabbed the elf around his waist, forcefully pulling him away from the wall. Silently he praised himself for having the foresight to silence his room as Dobby's squeals of pain were deafening.
"Stop, Dobby," Harry said firmly. "You've punished yourself enough. Alright?"
Only when the elf nodded in agreement did Harry set him down, he watched suspiciously as Dobby weaved drunkenly around the room for a few minutes, regaining his bearings.
"Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts," he said after several minutes of silence.
"Yeah, we covered that already," Harry said. "Evil things are going down this year, but what? Give me something specific."
"Dobby cannot say," the elf moaned. "Dobby cannot say."
"Is Voldemort-" Dobby squealed in terror, "You-Know-Who behind it?"
Dobby hesitated, then shook his head slowly, but he stared intently at Harry as he did so, as if attempting to relay a clue.
"Okay, he's not behind it, but if whoever is behind it succeeds, will it result in You-Know-Who getting his body back?"
This time he received a nod.
"Alright, then I definitely have to go back."
"But the great Harry Potter cannot!"
"I have to, if I don't go, my friends will be in danger."
"The friends who don't even write to Harry Potter?"
Harry narrowed his eyes at the shifty looking house elf, he hadn't received a single letter from any of his friends this summer, at first he thought it had something to do with the wards preventing his friends' owls from finding him, but after he sent Hedwig to collect any letters and she turned up slightly ruffled and with nothing to give him, he realized that she was being intercepted, but by who, he hadn't been sure of, until now.
"Have you been taking my letters?" he asked dangerously.
"Dobby has them here, sir," the house elf meekly pulled out dozens of letters from under his pillowcase and even what looked like shrunken down parcels. "Harry Potter mustn't be angry… Dobby hoped if Harry Potter thought his friends had forgotten him, Harry Potter might not want to go back to school, sir."
"Give me my letters."
"Harry Potter will have them, sir, if he gives Dobby his word that he will not return to Hogwarts. There is a danger you must not face! Say you won't go back, sir!"
"I will say no such thing."
"Then Harry Potter will not be getting his letters."
Harry snarled and lunged at Dobby, the little creature didn't expect the sudden attack so all he had time to do was squeak in fright before the twelve year old was upon him, wrestling with him for the stack of letters.
"Give me my letters, Dobby!" he cried, attempting to pry the elf's thin fingers open.
"Dobby will not!"
Harry had only just managed to gain the upper hand in the bizarre fight when there was a soft cough from behind them. Both boy and elf froze and slowly turned to face their unexpected visitor.
"Well, isn't this an interesting sight."
Harry wrenched the letters from Dobby's slackened grip and leapt to his feet. "Dad," he gasped breathlessly, "I didn't expect to see you until later tonight."
"I'd figured I'd keep you company while your relatives brown nosed away downstairs," Loki observed the scene before him in amusement. "But it seems you're already being sufficiently entertained. Perhaps I should return later."
"Don't be silly," Harry dragged Loki to the chair, "Dobby was just leaving. Weren't you Dobby?"
The house elf looked upset, but he nodded anyway. "Of course, Harry Potter."
"Excellent. But Dobby," he paused in the act of teleporting away, "I will be going to Hogwarts this year, so please don't try and stop me."
Dobby must have seen something in the look on Harry's face as his tiny shoulder slumped and he nodded once, then popped away.
"What was that about?" Loki asked.
"Nothing." Harry waved the odd event aside as he grabbed his plate and settled down at his father's feet. "Just some crazy house elf. So what have you been doing in Asgard? Has Uncle Thor gotten into any trouble since you last visited?"
Loki sighed heavily "Your oaf of an uncle is always getting into trouble," he said. "Why just the other day he got so thoroughly smashed he almost started a war with all of Vanaheim."
"Welcome students, new and old, to another year at Hogwarts. I have many announcements, most of which you should be familiar with by now, but now is not the time for them, so, please, dig in."
The sorting ceremony had just concluded and Ron's little sister Ginny had, as expected, been sorted into the house of the lions. Harry, Draco, Blaise, and Hermione moved to the Gryffindor table to meet the youngest Weasley and enjoy the feast with their Gryffindor friends.
"Guys, this is Ginny," Ron said when their small group had settled down at the table. "My little sister."
Everyone greeted the redheaded girl and introduced themselves, but she seemed to have eyes for no one but Harry, much to his discomfort and Draco's amusement, if the blonde's smirk was anything to go by.
"So what to do you guys think of our new DADA professor?" Neville asked once introductions were out of the way
"I think he'll be brilliant," Hermione said, an odd smile stretched across her face as she looked up at the new professor.
"Lockhart?" Blaise asked. "Hermione are you kidding? The man's a fraud."
"Blaise is right," Harry agreed, "I tried reading his books, they're all rubbish,"
Hermione's cheeks flushed red. "Why do you say that?" she asked.
"Well his books don't exactly match up," Harry said absently, more focused on his food than the conversation at hand. "The dates in some of them overlap, he'll say he's off fighting a werewolf in one place, but he's battling with a ghoul halfway across the world at the same time. Plus there are no reliable sources for anything he says, the only proof of his deeds are in his books, and, well, they're not exactly unbiased."
"The overlapping dates are probably just a mix-up, and I'm sure if you looked hard enough you'd find proof of his accomplishments,"
"You wouldn't," Draco refuted. "Lockhart is a fraud, he probably wiped the memory of the people who really accomplished the deeds in his books and took credit for himself, you're just too blinded by your hero worship of him to see it. People claim that you're the brightest witch of our age, Granger, so act like it,"
And with that the conversation was over.
The day after the Welcoming Feast, on the first day of term, right after lunch, the group of six had settled in the slightly overcast courtyard before their first Defense Against the Dark Arts class of the year to read or discuss Quidditch. Harry was one of those who were reading, well actually, he was quietly laughing at Lockhart's Voyage's with Vampires, but his quiet mockery was interrupted when he got the unpleasant feeling that someone was watching him.
Pulling away from the book, Harry looked around the courtyard and made eye contact with a short, brown haired boy standing barely five feet away.
"A-alright, Harry?" the boy stammered , blushing bright red when the rest of the group turned to stare at him.
"Hello," Harry smiled kindly. "You're Colin Creevey, right? You were sorted into Gryffindor?"
The boy looked astonished that Harry knew who he was. "Y-yes, I was," the first year took a tentative step forward. "D'you think- would it be all right if…can I have a picture?" he asked, hopefully raising the camera he gripped tightly in his hands.
"A picture?" Harry repeated blankly.
"So I can prove I've met you," Colin said eagerly. "I know all about you. Everyone's told me about how you survived when You-Know-Who tried to kill you and how he disappeared and everything and how you've still got a lightning scar on your forehead," his eyes raked Harry's hairline. "And a boy in my dormitory said if I develop the film in the right potion, the pictures'll move," Colin drew a great shuddering breath of excitement and said, "It's amazing here, isn't it? I never knew all the odd stuff I could do was magic till I got the letter from Hogwarts. My dad's a milkman, he couldn't believe it either. So I'm taking loads of pictures to send home to him. And it'd be really good if I had one of you," he looked imploringly at Harry, "maybe one of your friends could take it and I could stand next to you? And then, could you sign it?"
Harry and Ron exchanged glances, the boy reminded them of their first meeting with Hermione and the long excited rant she'd spoken to them in one long breath, that was probably why he was finding it so hard to turn him down.
"I guess a photo would be alright." Harry finally agreed.
Draco laughed incredulously. "You're actually going to do it? Are you going to sign it as well?" he teased. "Maybe we should start selling signed photos of you, we'd make a good galleon off of them."
"Who's giving out signed photos?"
Harry only barely managed to suppress a groan when Lockhart swept toward the little group in a swirl of violently turquoise robes, the man was beyond annoying. Earlier that day he had cornered Harry with the intent of offering him lessons on, of all things, how to be a celebrity. The encounter had only strengthened Harry's belief that whatever the man was using to keep his teeth so white must have been harmful for his brain.
"Ah, I shouldn't have asked! We meet again, Harry!"
"Fancy that, Professor. It's quite odd isn't it? It's not as if we attend the same school or anything."
Harry masked his mockery with a charming smile, but he needn't have even bothered, Lockhart was obviously too dense to notice as his million watt smile didn't dim in the slightest. "Come on then, Mr. Creevey," Lockhart pulled Harry tightly to his side. "A double portrait, can't do better than that, and we'll both sign it for you."
Before the boy could raise his camera, Harry slipped out of his professor's grasp and moved away from him. "Actually, Professor, Colin asked to take a picture with me, not of me, but if you could perhaps take the picture that would be much appreciated."
Harry felt a smug sense of satisfaction when Lockhart's smile became slightly less blinding to the eye. "Of course," he said. "Get in there, Mr. Creevey."
Colin eagerly shoved his camera into Lockhart's hands and ran to Harry's side, the raven haired Slytherin threw an arm around the younger boy's shoulders and smiled at the camera. And if the smile came out just a bit smug…well, Lockhart's expression was just too amusing.
"That man," Hermione snarled, throwing herself in the empty seat beside Harry at the Slytherin table, "is an absolute fool, and to think I admired him!"
"You just got out of his class?" Harry questioned.
"Yes," Hermione all but hissed the word.
"Cornish pixies?" Neville asked sympathetically.
"He set them loose on the class before he even tried to teach us the spell that would immobilize them, but what was worse the spell didn't even work. Peskipiksi Pesternomi," she snorted disdainfully. "What an idiot."
"Well, at least we won't have to deal with your silly fangirling over the man any longer."
"Oh, shut it Malfoy."
The first time Harry ever questioned his sanity (though it certainly wouldn't be the last) occurred several weeks after the start of term. Hermione and Harry were making their way back to their common rooms after a long study session in the library, animatedly discussing the possible uses of a new spell they had learned in Transfiguration when a soft voice echoed through the halls.
"Come…" it hissed, "come to me… Let me rip you...Let me tear you…Let me kill you…"
Harry stopped dead "What the hell?"
"What's wrong, Harry?" Hermione asked worriedly.
"Didn't you hear that?"
Harry remained absolutely still as he waited to hear the voice again, but he didn't. Finally he shook his head and began to move again "Never mind," he said, "I must have imagined it."
Even as he tried to convince himself, a little niggling feeling in the back of his mind told him he hadn't, and unfortunately, it was right.
The Chamber of Secrets has been opened.
Enemies of the heir, beware.
Harry suppressed a shiver as he read the message written across the blank wall in what looked suspiciously like blood. Hanging from her tail from the torch bracket nearest the message, was Mrs. Norris, the caretaker Filch's cat. All around him, students whispered about the ominous message on the wall and the cat that looked, in every sense of the way, dead as a doornail.
"What's going on here? What's going on?" Harry winced when he heard Filch approach, when he saw his cat, all hell was going to break loose.
Filch shouldered his way through the crowd, shouting insults at anyone he passed as he did, but the moment he saw his cat hanging from the bracket, all insults ceased and he stumbled back in horror. "My cat!" he cried. "My cat! What's happened to Mrs. Norris?"
Only seconds after the man's anguished outburst, Dumbledore arrived on the scene, followed by a number of the professors. The group drew short when they saw the message, horror written clear as day on their faces.
Dumbledore quickly got a hold on his emotions and moved forward to carefully detach Mrs. Norris from the torch. "Come with me, Argus," he said face grim. In fact everyone looked decidedly grim, everyone but Lockhart. The man was bouncing around the scene a broad grin on his face.
"My office is nearest, Headmaster," he said eagerly "just upstairs. Please feel free…"
"Thank you, Gilderoy," said Dumbledore.
The silent crowd parted to let them pass. Lockhart, looking excited and important, hurried after Dumbledore, though Professors McGonagall and Snape and a sobbing Filch weren't far behind.
"The Chamber of Secrets," Hermione whispered after the professor's had disappeared around the corner. "What does that mean? What is it?"
"What, the omniscient Hermione Granger doesn't know?" Harry teased. "Honestly, you should really read Hogwarts: A History."
Hermione glowered and stuck her tongue out at him.
"So does that mean you know what it is?" Ron asked.
The Slytherin shrugged his shoulders. "More or less," he said. "There wasn't much on it, and the little there was was full of rumors and speculation, but that's because Salazar Slytherin is the only person who knows anything about the Chamber of Secrets, or if it even exists."
Harry noticed that his friends weren't the only ones listening, every student who had been present to see the spectacle with Filch and Dumbledore was now watching him, fortunately, he wasn't one to have sudden bouts of stage fright.
"As we all know, Slytherin, like many old blooded families today, wished to be more selective about the students admitted to Hogwarts. He disliked taking students of muggle parentage, believing them to be unworthy. After a while, there was a serious argument on the subject between Slytherin and Gryffindor, and Slytherin left the school.
"But, the story goes that, before his departure, Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing about. Slytherin, according to the legend, sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic."
"Great," Hermione scoffed, "just another normal year at Hogwarts."
"Do you remember that crazy house elf that visited me on my birthday?"
Loki shifted his position on the four poster so as to get a better view of Harry. After that one time he'd spent the night watching over his son, Loki found himself doing it more often than he once had, especially with the sudden attacks on the school.
"Yes," he said softly, "I remember."
"Well, I don't think he's half as crazy as I led myself to believe," Harry craned his head to look up at his father. "He tried to warn me away from Hogwarts, he told me that something was going to happen, but I ignored him, wrote him off as crazy, but…"
"But he was right all along."
"Perhaps he was," Loki said. "Crazy that is. But even the most brilliant people have their moments of madness."
Harry laughed softly. "No, I think he was just mad. But crazy or not he knew what he was talking about."
"What is troubling you, little trickster?" Loki asked, picking up on Harry's heavy tone.
"I'm just worried is all." Harry sighed. "Ron, Neville, and Hermione are considered to be blood traitors and 'mudbloods' by those of pureblood, the two kinds of people Slytherin strived to keep out of Hogwarts and, if he or she really exists, the people the Heir of Slytherin will set his monster on. I want to protect them, but I don't know what I'm trying to protect them from, and it's just so…"
"Frustrating? Horrible? The worst feeling in the world?" Loki pressed a kiss to the top of Harry's head. "I know the feeling."
As they moved further into the year, the attacks progressed from petrifying the caretakers cat to petrifying the students. Colin Creevey had been the first to be attacked, he was found in the middle of the night, presumably heading back to the common room after a failed attempt at finding the Slytherin common room, the only clue as to what had attacked him was the twisted, melted lump that had once been his beloved camera. After Colin there was a double attack, Justin Finch-Fletchley and, to everyone's horror, Nearly Headless Nick, the ghost of Gryffindor. His petrification caused perhaps the greatest amount of fear, for if a ghost wasn't safe from the Heir of Slytherin, who was?
Tensions were at an all time high for everyone, but Harry was perhaps the most affected, he was now hearing the strange hissing voice whispering chilling threats on a weekly basis. He was convinced that whoever or whatever he was hearing was behind the attacks, as he usually heard the invisible being right before another student was found petrified. He was searching tirelessly to find out what it was he could be hearing, but so far his search had resulted in nothing but several nights spent without sleep and a group of very worried friends.
"Harry Potter! Where have you been?" Harry looked up from his book on dangerous magical creatures and found himself facing an angry and concerned looking Hermione flanked by Ron, Neville, Draco, and Blaise. "We've been looking for you everywhere."
"You missed dueling club, mate," Ron said. "You told us you'd meet up with us when it started, but you never showed up."
"I didn't miss it," Harry denied. "It's not for another…" he looked down at his watch and winced when he realized the time. "Oh."
"This is getting out of hand, Potter," Draco scowled. "We know you want to find out what Slytherin's monster is to, for some reason, keep us safe from it, but you're going to kill yourself doing it and then what good would you be to us?"
"Shut up, Potter," the blonde snatched the book from Harry's hand and began shoving it and the rest of the books scattered across the library table into his bag. "You've done enough research for today."
"I said, shut up. Now, we're going to take you to the Great Hall and get some food into you, Merlin knows the last time you ate a full meal, and then we're going to the lake where we'll teach you everything we learned today in dueling club. I don't know how you plan on protecting us if you don't even know how to protect yourself."
And with that, Draco hauled Harry out of his seat and dragged him to the Great Hall, where he proceeded to shove every food item in sight down Harry's throat until the dark haired Slytherin threatened to throw up all over his new shoes.
Hermione had been petrified.
It happened in mid-May, not even a month before the end of term, and Harry couldn't help but blame himself for it.
After Draco's intervention all those months ago, Harry's friends had taken to accompanying him to the library in order to limit the amount of time he spent researching and tell him when enough was enough. But even they had been researching excessively after Hagrid was arrested and taken to Azkaban on the charges of opening the Chamber (apparently he'd been accused of opening it the first go round and that was why he'd been expelled from Hogwarts).
They'd been there the night he was arrested, the group of second years had been visiting him for a late night cup of tea when Dumbledore, Lucius Malfoy, and the Minister of Magic arrived. Upon hearing the three men's arrival, Harry, Neville, and Draco hid themselves under the invisibility cloak Harry had taken to carrying everywhere with him, and Hermione, Blaise, and Ron hid under Hagrid's massive bed. The six listened in silent disbelief as Dumbledore was suspended from his position as Hogwarts' headmaster and Hagrid was accused of opening the Chamber of Secrets and unleashing the monster on defenseless student. Despite the headmaster's protests, Hagrid was carted off to Azkaban, but not before the gamekeeper announced to no one in particular that if they wanted to find the truth, then all they needed to do was follow the spiders.
Well, they followed the spiders, it wasn't that hard considering the fact that every spider anywhere on the grounds was heading in a mass exodus away from the school and into the Forbidden Forest. They followed the blasted spiders directly to a colony of acromantulas who, after telling them that Hagrid was innocent (as if they hadn't known that already) and that whatever was lurking in the school was a spider's greatest fear, tried to eat them. If it wasn't for Harry's ability to conjure a vicious wall of flames that held back the giant spiders as they fled, the six second years would have been acromantula food.
Hagrid's arrest led Harry, Hermione, Neville, Blaise, Draco, and Ron to spending every moment they weren't eating, sleeping, or in class trying to discover the mystery of the Chamber so that they could clear his name.
The day Hermione was petrified, she and Harry were working in the library while the others were taking a break out by the lake.
"Oh my goodness, Harry," Hermione whispered excitedly rousing him from the stupor he'd fallen into while reading a dreadfully boring report on Chimaeras.
"What? What is it? Have you found the monster?" he asked straightening in his seat.
"No, but I think I've found a clue."
"What?"Harry asked excitedly, a clue wasn't the answer, but it was a start.
"We've already established that the strange voice only you've been able to hear must have something to do with the identity of the monster."
"Well, maybe you're not the only one who can hear it, but you're the only one who can understand it," the brunette pushed her borrowed copy of Hogwarts: A History on top of the book Harry was reading and pointed at the section on the four founders, or more specifically, Salazar Slytherin. "I was reading this in hopes that I could find something in the passage that could clue us in on what Slytherin's monster could be."
"And did you?"
"Somewhat. It says that Slytherin was famous for being one of the first blood purists as well as having the ability to speak parseltongue, the language of snakes. So what if his monster is some kind of snake? If it was, only he or one of his heirs would be able to understand, and more importantly, control it."
"And you think I can speak parseltongue?"
"You could very well be related to Slytherin on your father's side, the Potters were a very old pureblood family, in fact I'd be surprised if you weren't distantly related to Slytherin."
Harry couldn't tell her that her hypothesis was wrong without telling her that he wasn't a Potter, at least not by blood, so he nodded and quickly moved the subject along. "Okay, say you're correct, and I am a parseltongue-"
"Parselmouth," Hermione corrected "Parseltongue is the language,"
"Okay, say I am a parselmouth, what kind of snake are we dealing with?"
"I don't know, I've never heard of a snake whose venom could petrify a person, let alone a ghost."
Harry froze as a thought struck him. "Who says it's venom that petrified them?" he whispered.
"Well what else could it be?"
Harry dove into his backpack and pulled out an old text he'd borrowed from the library, he quickly flipped to the passage he was looking for and paused to read it. "Listen to this," he said, and then began to read aloud from the book. "Of the many fearsome beasts and monsters that roam our land, there is none more curious or more deadly than the Basilisk, known also as the King of Serpents. This snake, which may reach gigantic size and live many hundreds of years, is born from a chicken's egg, hatched beneath a toad. Its methods of killing are most wondrous, for aside from its deadly and venomous fangs, the Basilisk has a murderous stare, and all who are fixed with the beam of its eye shall suffer instant death. Spiders flee before the Basilisk, for it is their mortal enemy, and the Basilisk flees only from the crowing of the rooster, which is fatal to it."
"Hagrid said his roosters have been being killed off," Hermione whispered thoughtfully. "And the spiders…Oh my goodness Harry! But if it's a basilisk how has no one died? They've only been petrified."
"That's because no one's looked it directly in the eye. Colin saw it through his camera, Justin must've seen the basilisk through Nearly Headless Nick, Nick got the full blast of it, but he couldn't die again, and Mrs. Norris, I don't know if you noticed but the floor was covered in water that night, she must have seen its reflection in the water."
"We need to tell someone, Harry."
Harry nodded. "Go to Professor McGonagall," he told her, "I'll get the others and I'll meet up with you."
"All right, hurry."
Before Hermione could run out of the library, Harry grabbed her wrist. "Wait," he transfigured a sheet of parchment into a mirror. "Use this to look around corners, just in case."
"Brilliant idea," Hermione gave him a quick hug. "Be careful, Harry," then she dashed off.
Harry followed soon after with a mirror of his own, having to use the mirror to look around corners slowed him down considerably, but he eventually made it out of the school and out to the lake.
"Hey, mate!" Ron called being the first to notice him. "Come to join us?"
Harry shook his head. "We found out what Slytherin's monster is," he said. "No time to explain, I came to get you so we can tell McGonagall."
No one wasted any time asking questions, they simply gathered their things and followed Harry back up to the school. They managed to make it to the third floor before Harry heard a sound that made his blood freeze.
"Kill this time… let me rip… tear…"
"Oh no," he groaned, picking up the pace.
"What is it, Harry?" Neville asked.
Harry stopped their little progression. "Listen," he said, "tell me what you hear."
"I hear something," Blaise said softly. "It sounds weird like a broken pipe or…"
"Or hissing," Harry said grimly.
The dark skinned boy looked at him in surprise. "Exactly. You can hear it to?"
"In a way."
"Blood…filthy blood…not fit to eat…"
Harry cursed and took off down the hall, following the voice that was steadily getting fainter, he was so focused on tracking the voice by ear he didn't notice the body until he tripped over it and went sprawling to the ground.
"Harry, are you all…" Neville's concerned voice trailed off into a strangled sort of gasp when he noticed the body.
"Oh, Merlin." Ron whispered.
Harry didn't need to look behind himself to know who he had tripped over, the familiar little mirror that rested on the ground told him everything he needed to know.
Hermione had fallen victim to the basilisk.
"Harry you need to sleep."
Harry ignored his father and continued flipping through his book.
"Harry it's much too late for you to be up researching, go to sleep."
Harry paused at the stern order. "I can't," he whispered, "Hermione needs me."
"Not like this. You're of no use to anyone in such a condition."
Loki grabbed the twelve year old by the shoulders and forced him to face him. "No you are not," he said angrily. "You haven't eaten in days and you haven't slept in longer, this is not healthy. You'll kill yourself if you continue on like this."
Harry glared down at his lap. "Would I?"
"Would I kill myself? Can I even die?"
"We all die."
"You know what I mean."
Loki sighed. "I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know?"
"I mean, I don't know. Your mother's mortal blood is tainting my Asgardian blood, making it difficult to read."
"When will we know?"
"Most likely when you reach maturity, Asgardians age far slower than mortals when they reach adulthood. If you all but stop aging then we know your Asgardian blood is dominant, if you continue to age…"
"Then I'll age and die like a mortal."
"No!" Loki snarled. "No, you will not be dying."
Harry laughed hollowly. "It's not as if I have a choice."
"I will not see you die, little trickster."
Harry looked up at his father and for the first time Loki saw the fear he harbored reflecting in his eyes, Harry truly did not want to die, not because he desired immortality but because he feared what would happen to his father if he did. "Promise?" he asked in a small voice.
"Cross my heart and hope to die."
Harry laughed softly as he recalled the day he'd made the childish promise to his father. "Stick a needle in my eye."
Loki grinned and hooked pinkie fingers with his son. "I swear to you, I will not lie."
Harry rushed over to the library table his friends were seated around, startling them away from their books. "Moaning Myrtle's bathroom." he said face flushed and breathless with excitement.
Draco snapped his book shut and squinted up at Harry. "What?"
"The entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is in the second floor girl's loo, Moaning Myrtle's bathroom."
Ron, Neville, Blaise, and Draco gaped at Harry in astonishment. "Wha-How did you come to that?" Neville managed to say.
Harry slapped an old newspaper down onto the table. "I was going through the libraries newspaper archives earlier today, I wanted to see if there was anything about the first time the Chamber was opened and there was. It was first opened in 1942, and like now, the school was at risk of being shut down because of the petrifications of students, the school was saved when a student named Tom Riddle turned Hagrid in."
"Wanker," Ron muttered.
"Hagrid was expelled, but not before one student was killed in the very bathroom she still haunts today."
"Harry you're brilliant," Blaise grinned as he read over the article.
Ron stood up and began gathering his books. "We have to tell, McGonagall."
"Yes, because she was so much help when we told her about the basilisk." Draco sneered.
"There was nothing she could do, she didn't know where the basilisk was. Now it's different."
Draco was stopped from responding when McGonagall's voice echoed throughout the library. "All students are to return to their House dormitories at once. All teachers return to the staff room. Immediately, please."
"Another attack?" Neville asked.
"We've never been sent to our dorms before."
Harry felt a growing sense of trepidation. "Come on," Harry threw his bag over his shoulder and hurried from the library.
"Where are we going?" Blaise asked.
"The staff room, we have to tell McGonagall."
The five boys raced up several flights of stairs and down the hall to the staff room, but they hesitated when they Lockhart ran out of the room and past them with not even a glance in their direction.
In his departure, he left the door open just a crack, but enough for them to hear McGonagall's voice float into the hall. "It has happened," they heard her say. " A student has been taken by the monster. Right into the chamber itself."
There were stunned noises from the room, then Professor Snape asked, "How can you be sure?"
"The Heir of Slytherin left another message. Right underneath the first one. 'Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever.' "
"Who is it?" asked Madam Hooch. "Which student?"
"Ginny Weasley," said Professor McGonagall.
Ron made a noise that sounded like a mix between a strangled gasp and a tortured moan.
"Ron," Harry whispered, reaching out to grab his friend before he collapsed, but the boy stumbled back several steps and looked at Harry with such a horrible expression of pain, he almost flinched away from him. And then Ron turned and ran away.
"Tell McGonagall everything we found out," Harry said, then turned and chased after Ron.
Harry was cursing his stupidity and all around bad luck as he stared down the wraith like figure that was slowly gaining more substance by the minute. After chasing Ron down to Myrtle's bathroom and finding exactly where the entrance was, he proved Hermione's deduction at least partially correct by ordering the entrance to open in parseltongue, when the sinks slid to the side he and Ron leapt fearlessly into the long dark tunnel that led them miles beneath the school and directly into the Chamber. That's just about when everything went wrong.
Ron, who's wand was a hand me down from Charlie that never really worked properly for him, attempted a lumos but instead of lighting the tip with a soft light as it should have, his wand sent of several bright red sparks that seemed harmless until they hit the stone roof. The resulting collapse of the ceiling was enormous and left the two boys stranded on opposite sides. Harry had contemplated moving the rocks with his magic, but quickly discarded the idea, not only did it have the potential to cause another collapse, but he wouldn't be able to move enough rocks to create a path for Ron without tiring himself out, and if he was facing a basilisk in his near future he needed to be at his best. So after a quick discussion with Ron, he moved deeper into the Chamber, which led him to the position he was in now. Listening as the sixteen year old memory of Lord Voldemort boasted to Harry, basically giving away all of his plans like the stereotypical super villain, with Ginny Weasley laying pale, and corpse-like at his feet.
As Voldemort, or Riddle in his current form, spoke, Harry focused on formulating a plan, he had to get both himself and Ginny out alive while evading the basilisk that was sure to be lurking around somewhere. On top of that, he had to find a way to get rid of Riddle, because if he didn't do it now the bastard was sure to turn up at the worst time imaginable. That was just the way it was with villains.
Harry was so deep in thought, he didn't realize Riddle had stopped speaking until he looked in his direction and found him watching him with a large amount of irritation.
He shook his head a bit, clearing it of the fog that had fallen as Riddle spoke. "Sorry, that was kind of a long speech, I think I zoned out somewhere in the middle, but I'm pretty sure I found my way back by the end. You said something about me defeating you, and the greatest wizard of all time, but what was the question again?"
"How?" Riddle snarled.
"How did I defeat you?" Harry shrugged. "Well you're not near as great as you think you are, I reckon I have more power in my pinkie finger than you do running through your entire body."
"Is that what you think?" Harry nodded. "Well, let's see how mighty you feel after facing my pet," Riddle turned and looked up at the enormous statue of Salazar Slytherin glaring down at them. "Speak to me Slytherin," he hissed in parseltongue, "greatest of the Hogwarts four."
With a deep, creaking rumble, Slytherin's mouth slid open and, as Harry watched in fascinated horror, something deep inside of it stirred and slowly slithered out.
When the head of the enormous snake became visible, Harry conjured a blindfold and tied it around his eyes, then, with a deep exhalation, spread his magic so he could "see" the magical auras in the room, a useful skill that he had never needed to use, until now that is.
Ginny's weakening aura indicated that she was still only a few feet away from him, lying prone on the ground, while Riddle's dark aura hung above her, a thin string connected them, drawing magic from Ginny and siphoning it into Riddle. Harry tore his eyes from the horrible sight and looked at the snake, the thing was enormous, easily sixty feet long and pulsing with a poisonous green aura.
"All right," Harry muttered to himself, he with one hand he drew his wand and with the other he drew the dagger Loki had gifted him, "let's kill us a basilisk,"
It took several cutting curses aimed at the horrible creature's eyes and an Asgardian blade through the roof of its mouth to kill the basilisk, and even then, Harry still felt as if he had lost, or maybe that was just the basilisk venom coursing through his veins talking.
"You're dead, Harry Potter," Harry heard Riddle's voice from a distance, as if he were speaking through a tunnel. "The basilisk venom will kill you in minutes, and I'm going to sit here and watch as you die. Take your time. I'm in no hurry."
Harry fell to his knees beside Ginny and the diary, his bloodless fingers shook but, somehow, he managed to keep a hold on his dagger.
"So ends the famous Harry Potter," Riddle whispered. "Alone in the Chamber of Secrets, forsaken by his friends, defeated at last by the Dark Lord he so unwisely challenged. You'll be back with your dear Mudblood mother soon, Harry. She bought you twelve years of borrowed time, but Lord Voldemort got you in the end, as you knew he must."
"What did I tell you earlier?" Harry managed to gasp. "You're not near as great as you think you are," then he slammed his venom coated dagger into the cover of the diary.
There was a long, dreadful, piercing scream. Ink spurted out of the diary in torrents, streaming over Harry's hands, flooding the floor. Riddle was writhing and twisting, screaming and flailing, and then he was gone.
The knife fell from his limp fingers and Harry collapsed into the puddle of ink, he no longer had the strength to hold himself up.
"Dad," he whispered hoarsely, "Dad, I need you."
For a moment, all was still and Harry feared that he would die alone, just as Riddle had predicted, but then there was a flash of green and gold and suddenly Loki was there kneeling in the ink and blood beside him.
"Where is it?" he asked frantically. "Where are you hurt? What do I need to fix?"
"'s not something you can fix," Harry gasped. "Basilisk bit me."
"Where? Where is it, Harry?"
Loki gently grabbed the injured arm and pushed back the tattered, blood soaked sleeve. He gasped when he took in the severity of the injury, but he pushed aside his growing horror and placed a hand over the bloody wound. Carefully, he began siphoning the poison from Harry's blood, but with all of the venom that slowly joined the ink and blood on the ground, Harry could still feel so much more mingling with his blood.
"It's not working," Loki growled in frustration. "Why isn't it working?"
Harry felt something hot and wet his face, he looked up and realized with a jolt that his father was crying.
"It's okay," he whispered. "It doesn't hurt that bad anymore."
"No! I will not let you die."
"W-will you tell Uncle Thor about me? About how much I loved all of the stories about-about him and how bull headed and absolutely Gryffindor he is?"
"You will tell him yourself," Loki snarled.
Harry gasped when the fire raging in his body faltered and something cold, and brutal, and not human attacked, and suddenly fire and ice were at war, fighting a bloody and brutal battle with his body as the battleground. His body writhed in pain and screams tore themselves from his throat, the pain was unbearable, he was hot and cold all at the same time and he wished it would just end. Finally, after what felt like ages, the ice beat the fire into submission and the last of the venom drained from Harry's wound. But instead of settling back into the dormant state it had been in before, the ice spread through Harry's veins as the fire had, twining with his magic. However, unlike the fire, the ice didn't feel particularly bad, it felt safe.
"Harry?" Loki cried pulling the small boy into his arms. "Harry?"
"I'm all right," the twelve year old whispered, "I'm fine."
And suddenly Loki was crushing him to his chest, running trembling fingers through his hair and gently rocking back and forth. "Oh, thank you," he whispered. "I thought I lost you."
"I'm fine," Harry assured him. "I'm fine. You did it, you healed me."
As Loki slowly regained control over his emotions, he looked down at his son confusion in his eyes. "Harry," he said, "that wasn't me."
Before Harry could find the words to respond, a soft moan sounded behind them, reminding Harry that they weren't alone. "Dad, you have to go."
"As if you could make me leave after you almost died."
"Dad, Ginny will see you and all of those years spent keeping this a secret will be for nothing."
Loki glared at Harry, but there was a look of resignation shining in his eyes. "I will remain close," then he disappeared.
The moment he was gone, Harry scrambled to his feet and hurried to Ginny's side just as her eyes fluttered open. She looked at the huge form of the dead basilisk in confusion, then over to Harry, in his blood-soaked robes, then to the diary lying beside him. She drew a great, shuddering gasp and tears began to pour down her face. "What have I done?" she whispered.
"Nothing," Harry said firmly. "None of this was your fault," he grabbed the diary and held it up so she could see the gaping hole punched straight through it. "And the person who's behind it is no longer around to cause any more trouble."
"But it was me," Ginny wept as Harry helped her to her feet, "I'm the one who did it. I'm going to be expelled! I've looked forward to coming to Hogwarts ever since B-Bill came and n-now I'll have to leave and…w-what'll Mum and Dad say?"
Harry gently led the sobbing girl from the Chamber and down the dark tunnel, it took them several long minutes to get through the tunnel, made even longer by Ginny's slow pace, but eventually they made it back to the cave in.
"Ron," Harry called, "Ginny's all right, I've got her."
He heard Ron give a strangled cheer, and they turned the next bend to see his eager face staring through the sizable gap he had managed to make in the rock wall.
"Ginny!" Ron thrust an arm through the gap in the rock to pull her through first. "You're alive! I don't believe it! What happened? I heard the most horrible noises coming from down the tunnel, but I couldn't be sure what was going on."
"I'll explain once we get out of here." Harry said once he had shimmied through the gap. "Now come on, I don't want to be here a second longer than we have to be."
Harry bent down and looked up the long, dark pipe. "Have you thought how we're going to get back up this?" he asked Ron, who shook his head. Sighing softly, Harry reached out and placed a hand on the wall, he could feel latent magic running through them.
"Up," he hissed in parseltongue, nothing happened. "Um, all right stairs?" with a low rumble, stairs pulled from the wall, giving the group of three an easy path up.
"Up we go then."
The trek to the top of the pipe was long and exhausting, they must have been miles under the school, and was made in complete silence. When they finally reached the top, Harry hissed the password to reopen the entrance and they climbed out of the pipe, only to be accosted by both Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore, the Weasley parents, Moaning Myrtle, and Neville, Draco, and Blaise.
"Ginny!" Mrs. Weasley screamed and grabbed her daughter into hug, Mr. Weasley soon joined in. "Oh, thank Merlin, you're safe."
"Harry got to me just in time, Mum," the redheaded first year said.
And suddenly Harry found himself in a bone crushing hug. "You saved her! You saved her! How did you do it?"
"I think we'd all like to know that." Professor McGonagall said placing a hand over her heaving chest.
"Could we perhaps go to somewhere a bit more comfortable?"
"Professor Lockhart's office is close by, and as of now it's empty."
"What happened to Lockhart?" Ron asked.
"We gave him the task of finding Miss Weasley and he, unfortunately, fled," McGonagall didn't sound as if she would miss the blonde author in the slightest.
The unusual group trouped to the man's empty office, and settled down to listen to Harry's tale. He, for the most part, told them everything, only leaving out his injury and Loki's presence.
"You mean to tell us, you killed a sixty foot basilisk," McGonagall asked incredulously, "with a dagger?"
"Yes, ma'am." Harry nodded.
"May we see this dagger?" Dumbledore asked.
Harry hesitated for a moment before reluctantly pulling the dagger from the sheath tucked under his sleeve and handed it to the Headmaster.
Dumbledore studied the knife carefully, testing the balance, examining the hilts design, and holding it only inches away from his eye.
"I cannot be certain what metal this is," he finally concluded, "as it is nothing I am familiar with, although it looks goblin forged. I do know, however, that whatever this blade is made from, the element has absorbed the venom, making this a very dangerous weapon," he looked at Harry over his half moon spectacles. "Wherever did you get such a tool, Mr. Potter?"
"My aunt gave it to me," Harry lied smoothly, "right before I left for Hogwarts. She said it was my mother's, that she carried it with her everywhere before her death, so I've done much the same."
"I never noticed," Dumbledore smiled kindly at Harry. "As I said, this is a dangerous weapon, perhaps I should hold onto it for you, just until you're a bit older."
"No," Harry said sharply. "I'm sorry, Headmaster, but that is the one of the only things I have left of my mother and I will not entrust it to anyone but myself. If it is my safety or the safety of the students you are worried about, I will take it home and leave it there, but I'm afraid I can't allow you to keep it."
Dumbledore's kind smile dimmed just a fraction. "No, I understand, dear boy. And there is no need to leave it home, I trust you to handle it responsibly."
"Thank you, Headmaster," Harry retrieved his dagger and quickly slipped it back into its sheath.
After that, the conversation quickly turned to Ginny's possession and the diary that had caused so much trouble. When that had concluded, Ginny and her parents left for the infirmary and McGonagall went to the kitchens to prepare a late night feast. Harry and his friends left soon after her, following the three Weasley's path to the infirmary. The mandrake potion needed to wake the petrified had been finished that afternoon which meant Hermione would be woken up soon, and they wanted to be there to tell her all about what had gone on while she was unaware.
A/N: This one came out a bit choppy as well, but hopefully as the years progress and I get more used to writing them, they'll get better.