=Disclaimer: All you recognize from the original work belong to J.K. Rowling and her respective distributors, producers, and publishers. I play in the universe to stretch my writing muscles and to entertain my readers and myself. I do not profit from this work.
Chapter Fifteen: Biscuit Crumbs
Rose Tyler leapt from her seat the moment she saw her son dive for Draco's falling body. She didn't have to look to know the Doctor followed in her wake, and she never felt gladder of their mutual discovery of magic when a wave his tech-i-fied wand parted the sea of students blocking her way with a rush of warmth. They made it to the pitch just after Madam Hooch, who wisely moved for the frantic mother who, upon reassuring herself Harry appeared unharmed aside from his unconsciousness, turned her attention to the boy still clutched against his side.
Draco moaned piteously, but between herself, Madam Hooch, and the Doctor, they managed to carefully sit him up and vanish the sleeve obscuring his injury.
The arm lay at an unnatural angle below the elbow.
"Ouch," she murmured sympathetically, smoothing his blonde hair away from his tacky forehead while the Doctor's long fingers lightly poked and prodded. "Definitely broken."
"Stand aside! Stand aside everyone!"
The woman cringed at the self-important croon of their resident defense instructor. For reasons she could not comprehend, students and parents (though not the faculty, she noted with petty satisfaction) made way, and a man in pristine, dove grey robes swept toward them.
"Not to worry, everyone, I'll have Mr Malfoy here fixed up in a jiffy."
"Gilderoy," the Doctor said impatiently. "I really wouldn't."
"Nonsense, old chap. Just a quick tap an a wave of a wand will have him back to normal," he grinned widely, flashing as many teeth as his crooked smile allowed. "In any case, I don't believe the History professor's allowed to treat injuries when preferred staff members are present."
"What, like you?" Rose asked incredulously. "All due respect, Gilderoy-"
She bit out each word with as much venom as she could muster. His accusations she wished her son ill had enraged the woman far beyond the enduring annoyance she experienced from his general pomp and idiocy.
"-I think this is a job for Madam Pomfrey. If you want to help, I suggest you clear everyone away so we can move him once he's immobilised."
Her follow professor scoffed and graced her with a condescendingly sympathetic look.
"I know this may be difficult to believe, dear Roselyn, seeing as you yourself haven't the benefit of magic, but it really would save the poor boy significant pain to fix him up, here," he said reassuringly.
He pointed his wand at Draco, who stared up at him with wide-eyed horror. A wave of protest broke over the other assembled staff members, but before anyone could think to take his wand away, he cast.
The Doctor stuck his arm out at the last second, and the white light splashed against his elbow. A strange expression overtook his face, and he looked up to meet Rose's panicked stare. He rolled up his sleeve to reveal what used to be a perfectly functional limb and now resembled a flesh-toned rubber glove. He bent his boneless hand back against his wrist with a grimace.
"Well," he finally quipped. "That's different."
"Oh, is that all?!" Rose gasped, poking it experimentally and shivering when it responded like a wriggly sponge.
Draco paled as it flopped uselessly one way, then the other.
"Ah," Lockhart said lamely, a faint flush colouring his cheeks beneath Rose's murderous glare. "Yes, well, that can sometimes happen if the spell's performed on an unbroken arm."
The blonde flinched at the sound of Snape's voice behind him. The dour man sneered at him, and Lockhart shrank away.
"Perhaps, Gilderoy, it would be best to leave these things to the healers, after all," Snape rumbled tersely, jabbing his wand at Draco to render the boy unconscious and immobilised.
The Doctor pocketed his sonic, picked up his wand with his off hand, and helpfully levitated Draco while the Slytherin head-of-house revived Harry.
"Shall we?" the Doctor grinned, chipper as ever.
With a last wink for his son, he, Rose, and Snape departed together. Draco floated behind them, leaving Harry to look confusedly from between Kyle Hooper and Shafiq (who had rushed to help him stand at Snape's sharp look) while Madam Hooch corralled spectators back toward the stands.
"Did our defense professor debone my dad's arm?" he asked incredulously. "Is that really what just happened?"
Hooper smirked and shrugged.
"I do believe it did."
"Your mum looked like she was going to smack him," Shafiq sighed regretfully. "Do you think she will by the end of the year? She's so pretty when she's angry."
Harry made a face, shook his head, and pulled away from the boys' grip as the vertigo leftover from his overpowered spell and Snape's ennervate faded.
"First, watch it, mate. Leaving aside the fact that she's my mum, I might lose my breakfast. And no," he said as he remounted his broom. "She's not the smacking type. She prefers dematerialisation cannons, but the Doctor hasn't figured out how to make those work here, yet. I think the Twins and I are going to have a little fun, though."
Play resumed as soon as Hooch cleared the field, and Oliver Wood lost no time in pressing the advantage their missing chaser afforded him. Flint and Montague were good, but Draco's comparatively small size had been a boon to their strategies. Without the light, swift second-year, Slytherin's chasers (augmented by a burly boy from the reserves) fell back onto brutality to keep some semblance of an edge against Gryffindor's girls. Harry rather admired the other team. They flew in such synchronicity it was hard for him to accept Katie Bell had only been playing since the previous autumn.
He took to flying interception when he could in an attempt to distract the superior players. Fred and George, bludgerless since he blasted both into nonexistence, retaliated by harassing Montague and Flint in equal measures as human versions of the iron balls of fury.
It swiftly devolved into a sky-high brawl, and Harry felt glad his parents had gone with Draco. Someone managed to elbow George in the face, and blood streamed from his nose into the neck of his robes. Flint sported a rapidly blackening eye.
"Fifty to thirty, Gryffindor!"
"C'mon, snitch, where are you?" the Slytherin seeker frowned, flying quick figure-eights high above play to avoid the brutality below.
Finally, a fleck of gold caught his eye, and without waiting to check his rival's position, Harry dove. The noise of the stands faded to a low buzz as he focused in on the little ball, his broom responding to the lightest shift of his weight. Two hundred feet, One hundred fifty-
Fred tried to block him, but Harry just rolled. His knee skimmed one of the red-head's boots as he shot past, upside down. Fifty feet- The snitch changed direction, and the seeker put on a burst of speed. He tucked his elbows and knees, unblinking behind his goggles.
His fingers closed around the cold sphere, and Hooch's whistle rang across the field.
Jordan's voice echoed across the stands, grudgingly impressed despite his bias toward Harry's house.
"Potter catches the snitch, leaving us at one hundred eighty to ninety. Slytherin wins!"
Grinning, the seeker pulled up and raised his fist above his head to the cheers and crows of his house. A scan of the stands found Sirius, Jenny and Luna standing on their seats, the latter two waving Slytherin flags. Luna looked marvelously silly in her animated hat, and Jenny's smile stretched so wide he bet it hurt a bit. Sirius, despite his dislike for his godson's house, blew some type of simplified horn painted in silver and green until his hollowed cheeks turned red.
The next hour went by in a blur.
Jenny, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Daphne and Tracy made a point of giving him their personal congratulations, going so far as to lead the triumphant parade Slytherin formed on its way back to the common room. Sirius gave him a brief hug before Auror Tonks whisked him away, and Marcus Flint pushed a warm bottle of butterbeer into his hands the moment he walked through the common room door.
It was not until much later that night, long after his captain and older teammates had passed out from too much firewhiskey and mead, that he got a chance to escape.
Glad Luna had volunteered to take Jenny to his parents and assured the remainder of his friends had returned to their respective dormitories, the second-year slipped under his invisibility cloak and crept from his common room. The moment he stepped into the shadowed corridor, he missed Kilat.
Over the past month, he'd taken to keeping her with him, since he knew she'd heard the mysterious cat-petrifier as well, but in the party, he'd forgotten to retrieve her from his sister.
Although the cloak afforded him invisibility, it could not shield him from the ominous creaks and howls inherent to an old castle at the beginning of winter. Still, he pressed on. With a whispered spell, his footfalls faded along with the swish of his robes about his ankles. His heart pounded the entire way, thrumming against his ribcage so insistently he felt sure at least the portraits would hear, silencing charm or no. The trek, which normally might have taken ten minutes on a busy afternoon, took nearly thirty by the time he arrived before the hospital wing's great double doors.
He crept down the aisle between the neat, empty beds until he reached the one nearest Madam Pomfrey's office. The entire way, he'd refused to light his wand, relying on the dimly burning sconces and moonlight filtering through the windows, but as his eyes adjusted to the nearly pitch black infirmary, he came to a heart-jolting realisation.
The lump on Draco's bed was much larger and much more active than it ought to be.
In a flash he tackled whatever it was sitting on his mate's bedside, dragging it kicking and squirming to the floor. It squawked once before Harry willed it silent, and they lay, scrabbling for several tense moments, until Harry had its arms pinned at its sides. After sitting very still, straining his ears for Madam Pomfrey, another thought cancelled the silencing field around himself, and the harsh huffs of his labored breath filled the air.
"Who are you? What were you doing to-" Harry paused his hissed query, squinting in the gloom. "Dobby?!"
The terrified elf's electric green eyes widened almost comically, and his struggles ceased as his bat-like ears deciphered the voice. His mouth began moving, and Harry dispelled the charm for him, too.
"-tending young Master Draco," Dobby anxiously whispered, shivering under the boy's grip. "Dobby wanted to make sure his bludgers-"
"YOUR bludgers?!" Harry gasped, appalled, tightening his hold. "What do you mean, 'your bludgers?' You almost killed us."
"Oh n- no. No, Harry Potter," Dobby said pitifully. "Dobby only meant to hurt, never kill Young Master and his best friend. No, Dobby only wanted to injure Young Master and Harry Potter enough they might be sent away from school. It has begun, and it is too dangerous, too perilous for young sirs to remain."
Fat, reflective tears pooled in the elf's shining eyes and made dirty tracks over his sharp cheeks. Hiccoughing sobs overcame him, and suddenly Dobby curled against Harry's chest, letting the boy's restraint become a comfort.
"Dobby," Harry sighed, loosening his arms to rub circles the elf's small, bony back. "C'mon, Dobby, don't cry. Talk to me. What's so terrifying you'd put us in St. Mungo's rather than let us stay?"
"D-D-Dobby c-c-c-cannot say," he whimpered. "P-p-please, sir, you must go, both of you must go. Harry Potter does not understand- Could not understand what it was like before he defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He does not know what he means to us, to the wretched, to the lowliest of the magical world. Dobby remembers the days before, sir, the days when He Who Must Not Be Named laughed as Dobby's masters forced us to fight and kill one another, to torment our little masters when their fathers were displeased with the sacrificial lambs they offered to their Lord's pleasure. We house elves were treated as worse than vermin, sir! And not only did Harry Potter stop it all for Dobby's brothers and sisters, his friendship has affected a great change for Dobby's young master. He- Dobby may still be vermin to his master, but young master has shielded Dobby most cleverly since meeting Harry Potter."
Dobby blew his long, pointed nose in his filthy pillowcase and rubbed his bony knuckles into his eyes, smearing the tears and dirt into a muddy shadow about the bulbous orbs.
"And now, now Dobby could never forgive himself if he allowed young master and Harry Potter to remain, not when terrible things are to happen, now when history is to repeat itself, not now the Chamber of Secrets has opened once more-"
Harry's brows drew together at the admission, and Dobby's face slackened as horrified realisation overtook his features. Before Harry could think to react, the elf grabbed Draco's water jug and slammed it over his head, going cross-eyed.
"Bad Dobby," he hissed to himself. "Very bad Dobby."
He raised the instrument again, and the Slytherin quickly thrust an arm over the elf's skull, preventing the steel from impacting.
"Stop that!" Harry pleaded, appalled. "Why'd you hit yourself?"
"Dobby must punish himself for misbehaviour."
The little elf lowered the pitcher to the marble floor with a shudder.
Harry shook his head and rubbed both palms over his face, enjoying their cold temperature against his somewhat heated cheeks.
"I can't deal with that right now. It's wrong, and horrible, and I promise I'm going to talk to the Doctor about it, but right now, we have to deal with this Chamber nonsense," he asserted softly, meeting Dobby's gaze. "You have to tell me anything you can. My dad, the Doctor, he's here with my mum. They've fought off terrible things, worse things than You-Know-Who, before. They can do this, too, but they need your help. Please, if there's anything you can say, at all, any clue you can give me. I know who your master is. Can you say anything about how he cursed Mrs Norris? How it'll happen again? What's in the Chamber?"
"It-" Dobby said after appearing to silently deliberate for several moments. "It is not Dobby's Master who is opening the chamber, Sir. Dobby's Master does not control the Chamber or its monster. It is the same perpetrator as before, Sir. The very same as before, when the Chamber was first opened."
Harry grinned and squeezed the elf's narrow shoulder in encouragement.
"That's great. Dobby," he whispered. "What else can you say? I heard whatever it was, I think, just before the attack. Is it humanoid?"
If anything, that only managed to awe Draco's elf more.
"It is- It is not an it, sir," Dobby murmured, shivering again. "Slytherin's monster isn't like anything of this world, sir."
A creak echoed through the infirmary, and before Harry could pull his cloak back over his head, the elf had disappeared with a soft pop! Light slanted over the beds from the corridor, and torches flared to life to fill the other half of the chamber in a warm, yellow glow.
Draco turned in his bed, away from the light as Dumbledore and McGonagall rushed into the infirmary, hovering a shadowed figure between them.
"Wake Poppy," the headmaster's usually cheery voice sharply intoned.
His deputy rushed down the aisle in a flurry of plaids, leaving the wizard to wave his wand over their charge, whose rigid body settled on the first bed in the row. The silver tassel hanging from Dumbledore's nightcap bobbed and swayed as its wearer cast spell after spell to no effect. A moment later, McGonagall emerged from Madam Pomfrey's quarters, and the witches each took a side of the patient's bed.
"What happened?" the healer whispered, tying the sash tighter about her dressing gown as she bent over the figure.
"An attack," said Dumbledore, pausing in his spellwork. "The Doctor's device alerted me to unusual activity, but I did not make it there in time to catch the perpetrator."
"She had a bunch of biscuits beside her, just laying in front of the mirror hiding the passage from the kitchens to the classroom across the way," Professor McGonagall commented tightly, as if holding back sniffles. "We think she was on her way to visit Mr Malfoy."
With growing dread, Harry recast the silencing charm around him and crept around the beds until he could see between the professors and Madam Pomfrey.
Bathed in wand and torchlight, still and unblinking, lay Hermione Granger.
Harry's heart lurched, and his brain ground to a halt as the conversation continued over her frozen body.
"I don't understand how this could happen," Madam Pomfrey muttered, casting rapid-fire at the unresponsive girl. "What are we to do, Albus? What does it mean?"
Dumbledore stared hard at the floating digits of light produced by the matron's diagnostic spells, and expelled a long sigh.
"It means," he said, pocketing his wand. "The Chamber of Secrets has indeed opened again."
"It's just a legend," McGonagall said, crossing her arms. "Surely, it couldn't-"
A stern look from the headmaster quelled her doubt.
"But who would do such a thing?"
"I think you know as well as I who could be capable, Minerva," Dumbledore said softly. "We must not ask who, but how."
Harry only waited long enough for the staff to leave the room after ensconcing Hermione's bed in screens before bolting for the grand staircase.
He ran for all he was worth, uncaring of the burn in his lungs, until he finally reached the residential corridors on the fifth floor.
"Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff!"he gasped at the portrait hiding its entrance, clutching a stitch in his side.
The pair of children frolicking in the canvas nodded, and the gilt frame swung forward to reveal the arched doorway behind it. Harry rushed in and made a beeline around the parlour furniture to his parents door, cast a silencing charm over his shoulder at Jenny Renette's door, and knocked loudly.
"Mum! Dad!" he nearly shouted. "C'mon, it's an emergency!"
A light shone beneath the jamb, and a moment later, the portal swung open to frame his dishevelled father, clad in a striped dressing gown and button-up pyjamas. A sling held his right arm against his chest, which looked a lot less floppy than when Harry last saw it.
Despite the locks of hair sticking up wildly all around the man's head, the Doctor's eyes focused clearly on the out-of-breath boy, and his sonic already rest between his long fingers, humming brightly as he performed a perfunctory scan.
"You're not hurt."
"It's Hermione," Harry breathed, starting to shake. "It got her, Dad. Whatever it was, it petrified her."
The hearth behind him, previously nothing more than glowing embers, flared brightly, casting swaths of orange and dancing shadows over the walls.
"All right, deep breaths, now," the Doctor urged, pulling Harry into a hug. "Let me get your mum. You make yourself some tea, and I'll be right out."
Harry couldn't bring himself to do more than sit on the loveseat and put his head in his hands, though.
True to his word, the Doctor reemerged with Rose at his side, the latter looking far more sleepy, but approaching with arms outstretched for her son. Harry allowed himself to be pulled against her side as she sat.
"We'll sort it," she promised, breathing the words into his shoulder. "I promise, love."
"Of course we will, one way or the other," the Doctor agreed easily, settling in the armchair opposite as he pulled out a blue leather journal and his sonic. "Before you explain, how's your head?"
"Fine," Harry said impatiently. "I went to visit Draco in the hospital, and Dobby was there."
He launched into the elf's warnings and what he said about the Chamber's history. The Doctor didn't interrupt, taking fastidious notes and exchanging occasional glances with Rose. Harry's recounting of the headmaster's words made both scowl.
"Dumbledore, again," she said grumpily. "He knows a lot more than he's let on. If he's keeping secrets-"
"The old man's basically been running half the country's government for over a decade," the Doctor scoffed. "Of course he's keeping secrets. We'll speak with him in the morning. In the meantime, I think it's time we hit the books, again. If this happened before, there'll be records of it somewhere. Let's ask Sirius. His parents might have known something if he doesn't. Purist nonsense would be right up their alley."
"What are we going to do about Hermione?" Harry asked plaintively, rubbing his eyes. "She can't just stay petrified. Her parents are going to worry if she stops writing them."
Rose shifted in her seat and huffed.
"You leave that to me. A student's been attacked. I would hope the staff would have been assembled at the very least to notify us, and I doubt dumbledore would involve the Aurors when he didn't last year," she grumbled. "I'll call Amelia and see if we can't stir up some publicity about this, maybe get some donated mandrake draught sent for Hermione."
"If you can't, take the gold from my vaults and order some," Harry pressed. "We can't just leave her like that, and she might have seen something, besides."
Hello, everyone. Sorry for the long absence. Unfortunately moving, stress and inspiration don't make the best bedfellows, so I've been struggling to write, lately. Thanks, as always, to everyone who takes the time to review. Chapter 16 is already in progress, but as always, updates will come when time and my mental health allows.
I promise this is still an active project for me, but updates are going to be sporadic until things get settled down again. I have this story mapped out until 7th year, so rest assured, there's lots more to come.