Having Dumbledore in the know was more of a relief than he had thought it would be. It had always stressed him out, trying to keep everything that happened around him from reaching the man. With each year it was getting more and more complicated. The Horcruxi hidden in the castle (he was positive there was one with each passing day) and now the recent developments in the Chamber?
Having Dumbledore on their side was a boon that Harry hadn't anticipated but really should have.
The Headmaster was a wealth of information about anything to do with the magical world. Between the four of them (five counting Gabriel) they had managed to plan out a viable strategy in concern to horcruxi hunting. As they had the confirmation of the three inside Locket, Diary, and Cup, they knew where to begin their search.
Truthfully, it was the Locket and Cup that truly hinted to what Voldemort had been doing with his soul. While the diary was just a book, bought by a child named Tom Riddle that had once acted as the soul reciprocate of his knowledge during his younger years, the Locket and Cup spoke to a pattern that Dumbledore had recognized.
Harry hadn't been shocked to learn that stealing and claiming objects was a behavior that had started young in a growing Tom Riddle. Dumbledore, in his years of piecing together whatever it was that Voldemort had done to himself in his quest of eternal life, had come across a number of hidden deeds that the burgeoning dark lord had commited. This included the murder of Hepzibah Smith and the framing of her house elf. Dumbledore had noted that it was claimed that the Smith family had descended from Helga Hufflepuff and had in their possession her cup. Along with the cup, she had also owned the very locket that Kreacher had delivered to Harry and was now a melted ruin that had been disposed of by the Department of Mysteries.
From there, Dumbledore had deduced that the remaining horcruxi would be something that was just as valuable, either historically or personally to the madman. And after some debate between Harry and the Headmaster, they both eventually agreed that Ravenclaw's Diadem was also at risk of having been turned into a horcrux. Locating that item would take time, as it had been lost for years, yet they really didn't have a choice. Tom Riddle had been on his own for a few years after graduating, traveling around the world. It was not farfetched to think that he had come across it in his travels.
Dumbledore suspected that an item from Gryffindor was also on the list though Harry doubted that was true. The only well-known object of Gryffindor was the very sword that hung in his discovered study. Making it completely impossible to have been tainted by the soul magick that was required for making a horcrux.
No, Harry suspected that it would be something that was of importance to Riddle's own family, not unlike the Locket which had admittedly been a family heirloom despite having been sold to another. Harry didn't know how that had happened, no doubt having some horribly tragic story attached if one considered the brutality behind Smith's murder.
That made two more that would be harder to find, though still doable. That brought the number from three to five.
The sixth soul fragment would be Voldemort himself, as the main soul piece and therefore the main consciousness. It was Remus who had found that information during his time alone while Sirius and Harry were at Hogwarts. The book on the magic used had come in handy in the end, though Harry still had plans to burn both their copy and any copy he ever got his hands on. That magic was better left forgotten and buried in history with the other magics that really shouldn't have existed.
Not that Harry could remember all those magics, specifically, though he had the vague knowledge that they'd existed based on conversations had with Gabriel. Honestly, Harry wasn't looking forward to finding out exactly what those had consisted of though he supposed that he really didn't have a choice in the matter.
'It definitely isn't pretty,' Gabriel admitted.
"Are you alright Harry?" Hermione asked, drawing his attention back to her. They had met up in an abandoned classroom after sending Ron off to distract Fred and George. Ron had been a bit up out by this though both Harry and Hermione had assured him that they'd bring him into the loop once his Occlumency had finally settled. Right now, the redhead had a problem being consistent in his ability to protect his mind. Sirius had estimated that by mid-summer, he'd be able to keep it consistent.
"We brought Dumbledore in on it." Harry sighed. "He's willing to help Remus and Sirius handle the Voldemort problem."
He hadn't completely told Hermione what the Voldemort problem was, though Hermione had agreed that she was better off not knowing whatever it was the had Harry making that face.
There were just some things that shouldn't be shared with a child, fourteen years old or not. Especially something that made an Archangel grimace in distaste. Harry was just happy that she wasn't pushing it. He was well aware at this point that he'd have difficulty keeping anything from her now (or Ron, once the redhead could be fully brought into this).
"That's not what you brought me here for," Hermione pointed out, just as perceptive as ever.
"How would you feel about visiting a lost part of history?" Harry asked vaguely.
Hermione perked immediately, to the amusement of both Harry and Gabriel. "Lead the way!" She ordered before dragging him out of the empty classroom.
Harry laughed as he was pulled along a few hallways before Hermione remembered that she had no clue where they were going. Sheepishly, she relinquished his arm and allowed him to lead the way through the familiar route to the second-floor girl's restroom.
Today was the day that he would be taking both Hermione and the Headmaster to the Chamber of Secrets and the lost studies of the Four Founders.
"Ah!" The headmaster greeted them both happily from the entrance to the loo. "I see that Miss Granger will be accompanying us today!"
Surprisingly, that seemed to have relaxed the man from the tense position that he'd been waiting for them in. Harry smiled while Gabriel snickered from inside their head. The headmaster had been obviously hesitant when dealing with them since the end of their conversation, no doubt still processing the existence of Angels and God.
"Harry," Hermione breathed as she took in just where they were and who was waiting. "Are we going where I think we're going?"
Harry smirked, allowing his more mischievous side to shine through. Hermione and Dumbledore both knew that he and Luna had restored the Chamber. He'd filled that part in with Hermione before asked her to meet him today. However, he hadn't mentioned just what he'd discovered in the Chamber to either of them. They didn't know about the studies of the Founders or about the secret room that wouldn't open at the end of that hall.
No, that was going to be revealed to them now. He suspected that Hermione was going to try to move into Ravenclaw's study the moment she realized what those books contained.
Without a word, Harry merely moved into the bathroom. Myrtle was nowhere to be seen so they made their way to the sink uncontested. "Open." Harry hissed.
Immediately, the sink retracted, and the entryway opened to the amazement of both his companions. With a smile at them, Harry hopped into the hole and slid down into the passageway.
Early on Harry had discovered that he could call forth stairs while speaking the word in parseltongue, however, he found that simply sliding down the pipe leading to the Chamber was much more satisfying than simply walking down a flight of stairs. From the shriek of laughter that Hermione made as she followed him, Harry suspected that his frizzy haired friend would agree with him on that front.
The Headmaster joined them at the bottom only a moment after Hermione had regained her footing. The brunette was laughing slightly as she stood.
Both went silent as they took in the scene before them. The Chamber was beautiful, with nothing but smooth rock and newly patched up benches lining the walls of the entrance hall. Harry grinned at them before motioning the two to follow.
He could already feel the entrance closing above them, Hogwarts taking care of that without his input now that she had retaken the Chamber into herself.
"Merlin," Hermione breathed as they walked, running a had along the smooth stone of the walls. Harry smiled as he watched Hogwarts greeted her hand with magic as she touched it. "It's beautiful."
"Indeed," Dumbledore agreed, inspecting everything with a critical eye. There was something almost giddy about the way that the man was moving through the Chamber, like a child on Christmas day. Harry couldn't blame him. Other than himself and Luna, there hadn't been anyone down here in 50 years. And Riddle had certainly never seen the Chamber as it currently was, whole and restored to its glory days.
Harry felt pride curl in his stomach and his wings preened behind him as the two complimented his and Luna's work.
"The Main Hall is down this way," Harry told them, motioning for them to turn to follow him. "Most of the tapestries that are salvageable are there. Luna's been restoring them for the most part. All the portraits were destroyed beyond repair and there wasn't anything magical to them, so we just disposed of them."
"Pity," Dumbledore sighed, having hoped that there would have been more that could have been saved.
Harry grimaced and nodded. "It's not that surprising. This place was filled with nothing but dead animal bones and flooded as well. I'm surprised that we could save anything with that much rot and mold down here."
"You and Miss Lovegood have certainly done much to restore what is here," the Headmaster mused. "I must say, for only a third and fourth year, you two have accomplished much."
Harry grinned at him, knowing full well that Dumbledore was mostly praising Luna. Harry had the unfair advantage of having thousands of years of knowledge behind him, after all. "Luna's been a surprisingly large help. I don't think I'd have been able to save as much as we have if not for her."
The young Ravenclaw had a vast amount of knowledge when it came to certain magics, like restoration and needle thread, things that Harry had never learned in any life, whether he was male or female during that time. Not to mention, without her he'd have never found that book left for him by Azrael.
As they entered the Main Hall of the Chamber, Harry smiled at the pile of tapestries that Luna was nearly finished with. They were laid neatly on the floor, far away from where the water had used to be when it was still flooded just in case a leak sprung again while they were gone. It was doubtful, now that the Chamber was part of the castle again, but Luna had already become accustomed to working there so there was little point to move now.
The Headmaster gazed at the pile with intrigued eyes. Each artwork was down in beautiful gold embroidery and lit up with magic that had seeped into each thread yarn. Harry suspected that the only reason that any of this had survived this long was because of the magic that filled them.
Hermione, predictably, was looking at the statues and studying the way that they were carved. No doubt she'd been trying to picture them in her head ever since Harry had first described them all the way back in second year.
"I must say," the Headmaster breathed, "I never would have imagined any of this to be down here."
'It's definitely something,' Gabriel agreed, speaking up for the first time since they had descended into the Chamber. Harry had known that his counterpart was paying attention but he'd been oddly silent during their time down here. No doubt, he was waiting for the next part of the tour with just as much excitement as Harry was.
"There's more," Harry told them both with a grin. "Follow me."
To say that the next part was hilarious would be an understatement. Harry had led them two to the hidden passage in the floor and had almost had a laughing fit when he saw the wide-eyed wonder on Hermione's face and the glee that filled Dumbledore's.
Motioning for them to hop into the hole with him, Harry did laugh when a very familiar shriek filled the air as the platform took them down further into the depths of the ground.
As soon as they stopped, Slytherin's study lit up and the door to the hallway swung open in greeting to them. Hermione gasped, taking in the books and desk with awe.
Dumbledore, too, seemed stunned at this finding. "Is this?" the Headmaster wondered, looked at the green and silver adorned room.
"Welcome," Harry said grandly. "To Salazar Slytherin's study."
Gabriel cackled inside their heads at the wonder filled gazes the roamed the room. Harry motioned for the two to follow him as he moved towards the open door and the hallway beyond it. "This isn't the only thing that we found down here," Harry told the Headmaster, knowing that Hermione wouldn't be listening to a thing he said at this point. The girl was too busy studying every detail of the hallways and doors to be bothered to pay attention to him at this point.
The moment he lead them into Ravenclaw's study, he knew that they had lost Hermione for the foreseeable future. Dumbledore looked just as tempted as his bushy haired friend to delve into the books that were in the study though the elder man had much more restraint than his friend, much to Harry's relief. He didn't think he'd be able to explain to McGonagall why both the Headmaster and the bookish Gryffindor had disappeared to on the same day. And there would be no denying that he knew where they were. At this point, everyone assumed Harry knew everything that happened in the castle, student and professor alike.
"They aren't really wrong," Gabriel pointed out. "I mean, at this point the only thing we don't know are mysteries like the Bloody Baron and Peeves, or who the Grey Lady really is, or even where the Lost Diadem ended up and the story behind that. I mean, we even know the day to day gossip that goes around, like Lavender's budding crush on Ron, and who the Twins are targeting next, and the results of Filch's veterinary appointment for Mrs. Norris. I still can't believe that some cat actually mated her. The idea of her having kittens is horrifying on a number of levels."
Harry grimaced, conceding the point. Part of their adjusting physiology that came with their slowly (very, very, very slowyly) returning Grace had been a boost in their hearing. Anything discussed within half a kilometer is loud and clear, to the point where Harry had to delegate taking in that much input to Gabriel.
(How this seemed to work, Harry didn't really understand at all and Gabriel hadn't even tried to explain in. No doubt he'd know eventually, once this merging thing had completed. Until then, Harry was the most informed student in the entire castle and people had noticed.)
Caught up in his thought, Harry didn't notice the opening door at the end of the hallway until the Headmaster sucked in a shocked breath. Harry blinked at the suddenly open doorway in slight confusion before the meaning registered.
This was the very same doorway that had remained stubbornly closed since Hogwarts had opened up this section of the Chamber to them. Harry felt his eyebrows raise in surprise when, unlike the other doors, the revealed room was only dimly illuminated by a small light source that was obscured in the otherwise pitch-black room.
"That's new," Harry grimaced aloud. He hadn't been planning on anything changing when he brought Dumbledore down here. Probably stupid of him, really, considering how fast Hogwarts seemed to be changing thing down here. It was becoming just as random and chaotic as the rest of the beautiful castle the longer that the main consciousness of Hogwarts settled in.
"Not to worry!" Dumbledore hummed. "Surprise are the best kind of introduction, don't you think?"
Without another word, the elderly man easily resumed walking towards the newest edition to the never-ending secrets in this place. "Seriously, how did they even build this? This place is starting to defy the laws of pretty much everything at this point."
'Probably best not to question it too much,' Harry shrugged and followed after the Headmaster. 'We almost never get proper answers to our questions anyways.'
Gabriel, predictably, didn't have a response to that. The only time they ever seemed to get answers to any of their questions, it was almost always something horrible. Sirius Black? Framed and sent to prison without a trial. Moody's weirdness? Secretly a death eater pretending to be a professor who entered them into a death trap tournament. Voldemort's immortality? Horcruxi,
"Oh my," the Headmaster breathed quietly in front of them, coming to a stop within the poorly lit room. Harry frowned and moved slightly to the side so that he could see what had caused the man to pause.
What he saw took his breath away.
The center of the room as a crystal covered in rune and glowing a beautiful light blue, the light from which was all they had to see. It was enough to see the tendrils of magic that connected the crystal stone to the ceiling, where it seemed to splinter apart into different tendril going every which way. Some of the tendrils where large and pulsating with magic, and others were thin, almost frayed all the way through. The stone itself was pulsing lightly, and almost seemed to be dying as the magic funneled out of it.
Worse, dark spots, most likely magical parasites, were encroaching on the bottom of the crystal, draining more power than it had to give.
"It's the Ward Stone," Harry breathed.
I'm not dead!
You probably all thought that I had died or abandoned this. That is not true. I'm just a horribly busy college junior/senior (Transfer students, colleges just don't know what to call us) who does have a job and really does need to sleep sometime, caffeine can only do so much. Which means that things like writing aren't something I get to do as often as during my freshman and sophomore years.
Seriously, I'm an art student. Not only are almost all our classes 3-4 hrs TWICE a week (3-4 credits), we have to devote at LEAST 6 hour PER CREDIT outside of class. That 24 hours of homework for 1 class a week. The college literally has to give us 24/7 access to classrooms and buildings so that we can get out shit done. And I take up to 4 classes a semester (I did 5 once, and NEVER AGAIN) so that's 96 hours of homework a week plus at least 15 hours of work per week which gives me a total 57 hours to eat, sleep, and relax during a normal term.
And I am taking a class and working during my summer. I can do full time when not in classes and I was paying out of pocket for my summer class so first summer session was all the work I could, writing, reading, and sleeping (8 hours a night, god I missed that) before my class started. And this class? Was a study away class with a huge mural painting at the end, of which we are finishing up during the next week. And then, on the 28th, I'm back in classes full time with work again.
You can probably tell that I don't have much time for, well, anything anymore. My social life is hell, I don't get to see people I don't live with on any sort of regular basis. Half the time, I get home and I'm dead tired and just crash. Which is why you're getting this chapter about a year after I posted the last one. I think I finished writing Chapter Fifty-Four right before I began orientation for my new college last year. I wish I could say one more year and then I'm free but, well, I plan on inflicting graduate school on myself so that would not be accurate.
Just, have patience with me, please. I really love writing this and my other fics, I just have to find the time between classes, work, and basic life necessities life eating and sleeping. I won't be giving up on any of my current WIPs, I promise. The updates will come, just very sporadically.
(Also, I do read your comments and I try to respond when I can but it might take me a while, however, even if I don't respond I have read them and I appreciate them so much.)