Author's Notes: I'd like to take a brief moment to thank all the amazing people who sent feedback and reviews to "The Thinking Cap". I was absolutely stunned by the response. Since I've never had quite so many sequel requests before, I had to write this one. Special thanks as always to Persephone Kore for encouragement as needed, and to Alan for threatening a sequel called "Bride of the Thinking Cap". ;) As always, feedback is worshipped and adored at email@example.com.
All characters below belong to J.K. Rowling and the rest of the merry Harry Potter crew. I'm just having fun with them, not making a profit.The Thinking Cap Returns By Andrea
"Is it just me, or is this the smallest class yet?"
"They seem to just be getting smaller and smaller these past few years."
"If you two would do your research while we have these children's whole minds to explore instead of just looking for all the stupid -- excuse me, 'daring' and 'cunning' -- things they've done, you might learn something. Most of these children were born just before the war was over. Who has lots of children in the middle of a war?"
Rowena's voice was tart as she chided the men, but Godric and Salazar sounded completely unrepentant as they chorused, "Yes, Mum."
Helga snorted. "Honestly, the two of you have never grown up."
"A thousand years of nothing but eleven year olds to listen to," Godric replied promptly. "Besides, you're only as old as you feel."
"And since none of us have bodies anymore," Rowena interjected, with the definite impression of rolling her eyes, "you two can feel as juvenile as you want."
"It would get very boring in here after all this time if we were staid and proper wizards all the time," Godric explained earnestly. "Relax, Rowena. It looks like we're almost through with this class."
"And speaking of who would have lots of children in the middle of a war," Salazar suddenly spoke up, sounding very excited, "it's a Weasley!"
"Oh, how lovely. They finally had a girl. Her mother must have been so pleased," Helga cooed.
"Remember what we agreed last year, Godric. This one's MINE!" Salazar said fiercely. "I'm not letting you steal another one away from me."
"I never agreed to anything," Godric protested quickly. "YOU said that. I'm not about to give up a Gryffindor to the bone just because you're jealous!"
"She's not a Gryffindor! Look at that ambition -- wanting to stand out in her family, wanting a boy to notice her. Modest ambition for now, but strong for a girl her age. And there's something...I just can't put my finger on."
"You don't have fingers anymore," Godric snorted, "and you're just stalling. Look at her, she's completely fearless! Not that I'm surprised, after dealing with those brothers of hers." Godric chuckled warmly. "See, I told you those twins were a perfect fit for my House!"
Salazar snarled and grumbled, "DON'T remind me about the twins right now. And she's hardly fearless. She's terrified of that Parselmouth you stole from me last year."
"That's different. She likes him."
"If that's the Gryffindor approach to romance, I'm shocked your House has lasted this long. Wait, is that why you feel the need to let in all those Muggle-borns? Not even purebloods reproducing?"
"Now you're just trying to be annoying."
"Is it working?"
"Boys," Rowena spoke up dryly, "before you continue in this vein all night, we DO have a Sorting to finish."
"Right. Put the girl in Gryffindor."
"No!" Salazar snapped. "I'm telling you, there's something..."
"If you can't give me anything more than 'there's something', I'm taking her."
"Not again! Rowena, Helga?"
"I'm sorry, Salazar dear, but I truly think Godric's right," Helga said soothingly. "I know you wanted a Weasley, but there's always the next one."
"But she's the youngest! And there really is something...compelling about her. Don't you see it?"
"There's always the next generation," Rowena added. "There are always plenty of Weasleys. Maybe next time."
The Hat shouted out, "GRYFFINDOR!" and Ginny Weasley sighed with relief as she handed the Hat to the next person and trotted off to join her cheering brothers at the Gryffindor table.
But even as she was grinning fit to crack her face and settling down with her new Housemates, Salazar was still mumbling, "There's just something...I can't put my finger on..."
"You say that at least ten times a day now. Honestly, Salazar, this is the perfect time for reflection and thinking."
"We've been reflecting and thinking for a thousand years now, Rowena," he countered snappishly. "I've thought all the deep thoughts I can think, and I'm BORED!"
"I have an idea!" Helga suggested perkily.
"THIS is when I regret just being a disembodied mind trapped in a hat. I can't strangle you for being too cheerful!"
"Oh stop being so grumpy! You threatened to do that all the time when we WEREN'T just disembodied voices, and you never did. Now then," she went on briskly, "if you're so bored, we could work on next year's song!"
"Whose bloody idea was it to SING every year?" Godric grumbled.
Three voices chorused back at him, "YOURS!"
"Which is why," Salazar added silkily, "you should never cast a complicated spell whilst half-DRUNK!"
"I was NOT half-drunk. I'd just had a bit of mead," Godric shot back defensively.
"I think it's a lovely idea," Helga interrupted before the two men could come to...well, as close to blows as two disembodied minds could manage. "It's so much fun! And the children do enjoy it; just think about what lovely memories they have of it for years to come. Come on, it's never too early to start next year's! We can describe you as tall, dark, and handsome this year, Salazar."
"Really?" The wizard seemed cheered by that promise. "But Rowena said that was a bad idea with my current reputation."
"Nonsense! I think it's lovely! I'm sure everyone will understand the metaphor." Helga promised airily. "Now come on, let's get--I say, what's happening? It's far too early to be time for Sorting again! Who is this boy?"
"It's that young Parselmouth from last year, remember?" Rowena put in, sounding intrigued. "Oh, look at how little he's studying. I knew he'd waste that mind in Gryffindor." She giggled. "Oh, the poor dear's afraid we put him in the wrong House!"
"As if WE'D make a mistake!" Godric puffed. "He's in the perfect House."
Meanwhile, Salazar was cavorting as merrily as a disembodied mind could cavort and shouting to the Hat, "YES! It's not too late to transfer, you know! Come on, boy, just say the word and you'll be where you belong!"
Godric made a highly offended (or possibly rude; it was difficult to tell) noise and shouted, "Oh no you don't! He's MINE! Don't listen to--He's taken off the Hat! What if he BELIEVED you?!"
"Then he'll be right where he belongs!"
"I am NOT letting you steal one of my students!"
"Like you're one to talk, Mister 'I've had every Weasley in the past 86 years'. Even when they're CLEARLY more suited to my House. That Percy had a plan to become Minister of Magic at age ELEVEN! How much more ambitious do they need to be before I can have them?!"
"Are you STILL sulking over that Ginny girl from this year? Whine, whine, whine, that's ALL you do! You'd think after a thousand years--"
"Oh be QUIET, Godric. You've been annoying me since the Renaissance!"
"It took me that long?"
"I was IGNORING you before that!"
"All right, I'm thinking of something...black!"
"A badger," three voices chorused.
Helga sniffed. "Well, you don't have to sound like it's so obvious," she said in a hurt voice. "I could have picked something else this time."
"Helga, you've picked that for the past three hundred years," Rowena replied in a long-suffering tone.
"Which would make this the perfect time to choose something else."
"All right, all right. I apologize. What DID you choose."
There was a long pause, then Helga admitted in a very quiet voice, "A badger. But I COULD have picked something else!"
A trio of groans met that pronouncement.
Helga huffed. "Honestly. At least I'm trying! It gets awfully dull around here between Sortings. At least I don't spend all my time sulking over petty grievances."
"I am NOT sulking. Just because I happen to think that Parselmouths are rare enough that I should get first claim--"
"Will you STOP going on about Potter?" Godric snapped in exasperation. "The boy is Sorted. It's done with. I've let YOU get away with stealing some Gryffindors at heart, and you don't catch me whining about it years later. I still say that Snape boy--"
"I'm ignoring you again."
"Good. Now maybe I can get some peace and--"
\\Help me -- help me -- Please help me--//
The Founders were all shocked into silence by the thin voice suddenly pleading with them.
"It's Potter again!" Rowena exclaimed. "I don't think we've ever seen a student this much!"
"Where on Earth are we? And where did a BASILISK come from?!" Helga squeaked.
Salazar coughed. "Er, didn't I mention? Ah...anyway...Ah-HAH! That's what it was about that Weasley girl. I knew Riddle was going to be a problem. That's what I get for taking halfbloods."
"YOU LEFT A BASILISK IN THE SCHOOL?!"
"Ouch. Ah, priorities! Keep the boy alive first, yell at me later?" Salazar suggested frantically.
"Oh. Right. Help him fight a basilisk when we're DISEMBODIED VOICES IN A HAT!" Godric shouted.
Salazar hissed. "Why doesn't the boy just try talking to -- Godric, did you just drop a SWORD on his head?"
"Lovely, give the boy a concussion instead of help!" Helga snapped.
Godric protested, "He was supposed to duck!"
"This is the problem with choosing students based on bravery, not intelligence."
"Oh shut UP, Rowena!"
"How does one duck when a hat starts dropping things on your head?" Salazar asked dryly.
"...That's not the point! If he'd just put the bloody Hat back on, we could find out what's going on..."
"There's not much we can do about it, unless Godric hid another sword up here without mentioning it to us," Rowena pointed out logically. "Now Salazar, about this basilisk..."
"I hate all this waiting."
"We've done nearly nothing BUT wait for all these years, Helga. Surely you've gotten used to it by now."
"That's beside the point, Rowena! Usually we're waiting for a happy event. Now we're waiting to find out if that dear little Parselmouth and the Weasley girl SURVIVED!"
"I know you didn't like them being Sorted into Gryffindor, Salazar, but a MURDER plot?!" Godric snarled, wishing he had a body again so he could pace or at least tap his foot impatiently.
"For the thousandth time, I didn't do it!" Salazar protested. "I TOLD you that halfblood would be nothing but trouble, but NO! You all said, 'Expand your horizons, Salazar.' 'There's more to life than purebloods, Salazar.' HAH!"
"Look!" Helga exclaimed suddenly. "Hair! Is it--no, it's not the Parselmouth. Oh look, it's Albus!"
"Albus! Thank goodness," Godric exclaimed gratefully. "He always was one of my favorites. Such a bright boy. How's my Parselmouth?"
"Albus! I'd wave if I had hands," Salazar said happily.
\\I thought I should thank you for your help. You will be pleased to know both Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley have come through their ordeal intact.//
Relieved cheering filled the Hat.
"Oh, I KNEW everything would turn out all right!" Helga exclaimed.
"You weren't so confident a moment ago," Rowena pointed out, but she would be sniffling if she still had a body.
\\The basilisk has also been killed. Mr. Potter wishes to thank you for the sword, Godric.//
"What a polite boy," Godric said proudly. "You see? I knew he was too good for you, Salazar."
"You really need to stop gloating just because YOUR student became Headmaster," Salazar snapped. "I didn't MEAN for the basilisk to be used against the students!"
\\A bit of warning on the basilisk would have been nice, Salazar. But we made do. Young Mr. Potter is already fulfilling his potential.//
"In MY House," Godric added smugly.
Salazar just grumbled.
\\I'd best be going. I have a celebratory feast to oversee. Have a good summer.//
"Thank you, Albus!" Rowena and Helga sang out in chorus as the Headmaster removed the Hat. Godric managed to somehow convey smirking without a face.
"Stop gloating, Godric," Salazar grumbled. "It's not as if I MEANT for students to be in danger."
"Oh yes, that reminds me," Rowena purred. "Salazar, dear..."
Helga took up the torch and said in a sweetly deadly voice, "Since we're not worrying about the students anymore, I think it's time for us all to have a little talk about just what is appropriate to leave in the school."
"And the importance in confiding such things to your fellow Founders," Godric added dourly.
Salazar cleared his throat nervously. "...You're going to make me regret this, aren't you?"
"Us?" Helga asked innocently.
"You really don't have any faith in us, do you?" Rowena said sweetly.
Godric chuckled darkly and added, "Maybe just a bit..."
"All right, all right, all RIGHT!! I, Salazar Slytherin, hereby apologize for setting up a secret chamber and raising a basilisk in it, even though I was TRYING to protect--"
"Stick to the script!" Rowena snapped.
Salazar sighed. "Fine. For setting up a secret chamber and raising a basilisk in it, for keeping secrets from my...dear...friends--"
"Who put up with you no matter how trying you are," Helga added.
"Or how many of my students you try to steal, corrupt, or murder," Godric interjected firmly.
"It's not MY fault that--nimrod Riddle used my poor basilisk to try to kill Muggle-borns! She was SUPPOSED to--"
"No excuses!" Godric bellowed. "One student died and half a dozen others NEARLY did, whatever your intentions were. Now get on with it. And find your own word."
A long-suffering sigh. "FINE. I, Salazar Slytherin, hereby apologize for setting up a secret chamber and raising a basilisk in it, for keeping secrets from my dear friends, who put up with me no matter how trying I am, and for somehow inspiring an insane student to using my name as justification for turning into a megalomaniac. THERE! Are you satisfied yet?"
"Hmm...yes, I think so," Helga said consideringly. "Rowena?"
"You're forgiven, but I reserve the right to bring this up later. Godric?"
"As long as he doesn't have some OTHER hidden room around here with some other large and deadly beast waiting to be discovered..." Godric said suspiciously.
"Any other large and deadly beasts around here probably belong to YOUR half-giant!"
"I don't think you have ANY room to be insulting MY students right now, Salazar."
"And we've accepted it," Helga said soothingly. "Right, Godric?"
Godric grumbled a bit, but eventually said grudgingly, "Apology accepted. Just don't do it again!"
"Oh, and it's so tempting, too," Salazar said dryly. "After all, there are so very many possibilities for mischief for a disembodied voice inside a hat..."
"We could always try dropping things on students' heads in the middle of the Sorting," Helga put in, her voice full of mischief.
"Hey!" Godric protested loudly, though he was laughing. "That was an emergency!"