Harry didn't tell anyone, since it was public knowledge (announced by Dumbledore at dinner weeks ago) that the Chamber of Secrets was sealed and warded, but he'd gone back to the Chamber to explore it some when he could grab a spare hour or two unobserved in the last couple of weeks before school closed for the summer. He'd thought about telling Neville and Hermione about the second entrance, but decided against it. Firstly, because when he asked Millicent, she said she hadn't told Madam Pomfrey or any other teacher about being bitten in the Chamber of Secrets – she'd claimed her injury was from a summoned snake in a practise duel that got out of hand. So he'd initially guessed the Headmaster had gathered his gossip in a less direct fashion – like those ever-watching portraits, perhaps. But when he chatted about it with the Gryffindors Hermione mentioned she'd told Professor McGonagall about it, during a chat about her study schedule for next year.
"She was really curious to hear all about the Chamber of Secrets, and of course she wouldn't tell any students about it."
"But I said not to tell anyone else!"
"Oh, yes, but she's a teacher," Hermione said, as if that was all the explanation and apology required. She was a good friend most of the time, but every so often she really got on his nerves.
His other reason for staying quiet was simply that he really didn't want to risk anyone else getting hurt. If word got out, then either people would want to go with him (which could be dangerous) or the Headmaster would hear about it and seal up the second entrance too (which would be very annoying – it was going to be a great area for privately practising spells next year).
He found another secret passage after careful scrutiny of the study. He looked carefully at every single section of the diamond pattern of cavities on the wall for storing scrolls in, and found a small stone snake hiding at the back of one. Harry imagined that if the cubby holes were all full of scrolls, you'd never see it at all.
"Greetingss, sssnake guardian," he hissed, "will you tell me, Harold James Potter, Heir of Ssslytherin, what sssecretss you hide?"
"You are the Heir of Ssslytherin? What of young Master Riddle?" This snake seemed more wary of his claim than most of the others. The ones in the dungeon he suspected had never even been found by anyone else in a long time, given how excited they'd been to see him.
"He is dead these many yearss."
"He might have a ghost," Storm added, perhaps not very helpfully. "But it is a weak shade and my master defeated it in a duel."
"A ghost cannot be an Heir. Are you hiss ssson?"
What a horrible thought. "No, definitely not. I believe my Ssslytherin heritage must come from a more winding path."
Still the snake hesitated. "Does he have a ssson?" it asked. "A daughter?"
"Not that I have heard of." It hissed unhappily.
"Then I sssuppose I must let you past, Master Potter. Yet be warned, young ssscion, what liess within is one of Master Ssslytherin'ss preciouss ancient treasuress. Should you ssseek to damage it, though you be the Heir of Ssslytherin yet we shall still rise up to ssstrike you down."
"I shall take great care," Harry said, feeling very excited about what might lie within.
"Now, let me bite you, for blood is the price of entrance, and venom the penalty for all otherss who may ssseek to disguise themselves in your ssseeming."
"Isn't there just a passs phrase like for the other snakess?" Harry asked optimistically.
"No. I admit none but the Heirss of Ssslytherin; those gifted with the talent of Parselmouth and the foremost in their family line."
Harry thought he'd better clarify his family situation, just in case, for he didn't want to run the risk of magical venom. "I am foremost in my family, for my parentss and grandparentss died when I was very young; I am the Heir to the Noble House of Potter, and will be Head when I am of age."
It didn't respond, so he warily inserted a hand into the recess in the wall, and the tiny grey stone snake nipped a finger with its miniature fangs.
"Welcome, Master Potter," it hissed, and a section of wall swung open to one side.
The first thing Harry saw in the hidden room was a chair. A very ordinary, wooden chair like he sat on every day in classes. Then he saw what it was facing. If you sat in the chair, you would be directly in front of a rather intricate mosaic that had been placed on the wall. He thought it might possibly have been transferred from somewhere else, as it sat in a rectangular stone frame (rather than being embedded directly in the wall) and the edges of the mosaic were a little ragged, like a few sections of stones had been lost. Yet the central portion was intact, and depicted its scene with great detail using hundreds of tiny coloured square stone or coloured glass tiles perhaps a half centimetre across. There was an elderly man, with a grey beard and short hair, clad in a purple-bordered toga reclining (and napping) on some kind of daybed. On a small three-legged side table with decoratively scrolled legs near his couch rested a bowl of grapes and a platter of various foods including a flat round loaf of bread, olives, eggs, a wedge of cheese, and some kind of small cooked birds. Another small table held a jug and a bowl. A wooden staff leaned on the wall in one of the two corners of the room in the painting, and in the other stood a lampstand which held a couple of lit lamps, and it was the flickering movements of the light from those that led Harry to notice that the mosaic was enchanted to move, like a magical portrait.
He cautiously stepped into the room, wary of the large man-sized snake statues in each corner of the small room.
"Greetings, the Heir of Ssslytherin seeks admittance," he hissed cautiously. "I mean no harm to the treasure in thiss room." The statues didn't respond, but did turn to look at him. They were the quietest statues he'd found yet.
He moved in front of the mosaic, and sat down in the chair slowly, wand at the ready in case of trouble, but carefully not pointed at the mosaic, in case it make the snake gargoyles panic.
"Hello? Sir?" he said, but there was no response. Very slowly and carefully, he reached out to tap lightly on the bottom of the frame around the mosaic – it was how you woke up a slumbering portrait so he thought it might be alright. And luckily, the statues seemed to find it within acceptable parameters for behaviour, for they didn't do anything except watch him.
The man in the mosaic woke, blinking tiredly out at him, then smiling with delight as he realised he had a visitor. The shifting colours of the mosaic tiles made for a less realistic depiction than an oil painting was capable of, but there was so many tiny tiles that a great deal of detail could still be made out.
"Ƿesaþ hale! Mē līcode þeċ tō grētenne. Hwæt is þīn nama?" 
"Uh, hello, sir. I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you said."
The man gave a rueful little chuckle, shook his head and tried again, in another language that was also unintelligible to Harry, but which sounded a bit like some of the incantations for magical spells. "Mea culpa. Salve! Loquerisne inlingua Latina? Quid est nomen tibi?" 
"Do you speak English at all? Or French or Spanish? Parlez-vous français? ¿Hablas español?"  Harry thought it doubtful, but worth a try.
"Si voles, loquere lentius,"  the man said in a chiding tone of voice, wagging his finger at Harry. "Spraec thu Ænglisc? Eallníwe Ænglisc? Loquerisne Angle?" 
"Yes! English!" Harry said, nodding exagerratedly and smiling happily.
"In Latine loquor," the man said very slowly, tapping his chest. "Latine." 
"Oh! You speak Latin! Of course you do, with the toga and all." He tried to think of what Latin phrases he knew that weren't part of a spell. "Cogito ergo sum? Ave? Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus?" he volunteered hesitantly. 
"Bene!" the man said, and gave him a little clap. "Debes discere Latinam." 
"I don't sssuppose you are a Parselmouth?" hissed Harry optimistically. "It would make thiss discussion a lot easier."
"Salassar Slytherin? Est antecessoris tui?" The man shook his head. "Nihil, non poteo loqui serpente." 
Well, he clearly recognised Parseltongue, which was unsurprising for someone who might have known Salazar Slytherin himself (or at least some of his descendants), but he obviously couldn't speak it.
After a little period of pointing and naming objects slowly they managed to exchange names, and Harry also introduced his snake. Storm sulkily found the animated mosaic much more boring than the chattier of the animated snake statues. Harry learnt the man was called Ambrosius Aurelianus, and he must have been a wizard, for he picked up the staff in the corner, and with a short period of chanting and gesturing (that clearly took some effort and brought a tired look to his face), managed to make his couch float up into the air. He looked expectantly at Harry and made encouraging gestures, while talking indecipherably in Latin.
Harry got out his wand to show the man, and he nodded, looking pleased.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" Harry incanted, floating the wooden chair up into the air easily, and making it spin around in an upwards spiral.
Ambrosius gasped and applauded wildly, seeming very impressed. "Ecce! Mirabilis!" 
Harry didn't think it was anything very special, but he guessed the man wasn't a particularly good wizard, back in his day.
He bowed politely to the wizard, and then did his best with gestures and waving to show that he had to go now. The man looked disappointed and sighed. Harry thought he must be quite lonely, stuck down beneath the school in a hidden room. At least the portraits upstairs got to visit each other.
"Valé Harry! Se tueas!" Ambrosius said, sounding politely resigned.  He waved goodbye in imitation of Harry, then settled back down on his reclining couch, rested his head on the pillow on the raised scroll-like section at one end. He appeared to be settling back down to sleep.
Harry added "Learn Latin" to his study planner that evening for his summer activities, along with French. He hoped the Euro-Glyph School of Extraordinary Languages wasn't too expensive. Tracey had a subscription to the Daily Prophet, as he discovered the next day when he asked around about who might have a copy he could look at, and he sent off a letter asking for pricing details for their language learning courses, and for information about where and how they were held over summer.
He mentioned to Neville and Hermione casually one day that he'd come across a reference to an old Roman wizard named Ambrosius Aurelianus in a book, and asked if they had ever heard of him, but the name didn't ring a bell for either of them, and he couldn't find it in a few history books he checked. He didn't bother checking Hogwarts, A History. Hermione had that memorised, so if she didn't recognise the wizard's name he mustn't be in there.
End of year results came out for all the students in the last week of school, only a few days before they would all be catching the Hogwarts Express to speed (or slow) them on their journey home. Harry had gotten an implausibly high percentage result on his Charms exam (did they even know how percentages worked here?), and a personal smiling congratulations from Professor Flitwick for coming top of the year. Hermione looked very pleased when she heard he'd gotten an O, and was full of squealing congratulations, but looked flabbergasted and jealous when she heard he'd gotten the top mark in their year. She plastered on a smile though, and did her best to be politely congratulatory, which Harry appreciated. She certainly took being beaten better than Dudley ever did, and better than he'd feared she might (he'd even worried he might lose her friendship over it). Mind you it must have been a comfort to her that she had, after all, come top in many other subjects (though not Herbology which went to Neville, or Potions which went to Draco, to his smug delight). Harry was anxious to know how he'd gone in his Muggle subjects, but final results for those would be sent out over the holidays to his home address.
It was a small gathering in the library with just Harry, Hermione, Millicent, Draco, and Goyle. Goyle had been "Gregory" to Hermione for a while now, but only recently switched to a first name basis with Harry after Draco pointed out that he needed to explicitly ask or tell Goyle if he wanted to be friends (Draco thought it would be a good idea), as Goyle sometimes had trouble guessing such things. Also, that as the more high status wizard it was Harry's responsibility to make such overtures in any case – for one of lower station to ask to use another's first name could sometimes be seen as presumptuous and rude.
After a bit of trial and error Harry had found that Hermione seemed to get on best lately with the group of Slytherins Harry had carefully gathered today (he'd thought Tracey as a half-blood would get on better with her, but they just didn't work well together for some reason he hadn't figured out yet). Draco in particular was studiously polite to her, at least whenever Harry was watching him, though it seemed all bets were now off in regards to Draco's behaviour around Ron. It had taken him a while to notice, as Neville never said anything about it, but Neville didn't like socialising with Draco if he could help it. He was carefully and quietly polite, but not actually friendly with him. He got on better with Pansy and Tracey, though.
Millicent quizzed Harry curiously on his grades, and was interested to note how he'd gone up in a couple of subjects, and down in DADA. "Why did your grade go down? I thought Lockhart liked you?" she asked one afternoon.
"I don't think he studied very much for that subject," Hermione volunteered, in regards to Harry's grades.
"It's true – I just didn't want to memorise all those details about his ah, adventures. I preferred Professor Quirrell," he said, looking a bit mournful. "Of course his stammer made classes difficult, but the textbook and the lessons were much more practical. An EE is probably more than I deserved, this year."
"I'm sure he marked everyone fairly. You earned that grade!" Hermione said encouragingly. Millicent just smiled with amusement, working hard not to laugh. "I can't believe you did so well in bringing up your grades this year, especially Charms and Potions, when you had your other studies to juggle too," Hermione continued. "Of course, you do take remarkably good notes now. That must have helped when it came time to revise!"
"Isn't she just the loveliest font of information?" mused Millicent to Draco, who nodded in agreement. "What other studies would those be, Harry?"
"Didn't you ever tell them?" Hermione asked quizzically.
"I guess I didn't? I didn't think they'd be very interested, so I suppose the topic just never came up," he shrugged and turned to the Slytherins. "I'm doing some Muggle subjects, so I have proper qualifications and skills to go to university in the Muggle world after graduation, if I want to," he explained to them.
"What have you been studying?" Draco asked curiously.
"English, Maths, and Science. By correspondence, of course."
"And he's been keeping up with French, just to help his cousin with his studies, which I think is kind of him," added Hermione. "I've been practising with him, here and there."
Draco proudly showed off his superior French by chatting with a delighted Hermione, losing Harry quite often in the conversation as he simply wasn't up to their level.
"Why are you studying English?" asked Gregory as the others nattered in French to each other (though Draco seemed more fluent than Hermione, and much better than Millicent). "You're really smart, and you speak and write it already. Do you need to work on your spelling? I find it really hard. I have a dictionary to help me - my father got it for me. You can borrow it for the holidays if you like."
"Oh, that's very kind, but I don't need one thank you. The subject isn't covering spelling, it's all about how to improve your writing of essays, doing analyses of books and plays, and interpreting and writing poetry. That kind of thing. One of my final assignments was to write a short essay discussing how in Shakespeare's The Tempest how some particular lines spoken by Ferdinand and Miranda showed their feelings for each other."
"That sounds easy," grunted Gregory.
"Well, it's a bit more complicated than it sounds. Like asking what steps can cause problems with a Swelling Solution. You can give a short answer, or a more complete one."
"That was a tough one on the test," he grumbled. "I wrote, 'Don't add the wrong things that aren't ingredients', and 'Don't let someone put something in your cauldron.'"
Hermione looked quietly embarrassed to overhear that, remembering the firework that she and Ron had used as a distraction so she could purloin some potions ingredients for their Polyjuice Potion.
"What about Maths? How much more could you need to learn?" Gregory asked.
"There's still quite a lot to learn, though it is one of my favourite subjects. This year covered things like calculating the area of a trapezium or the volume of a prism, using algebra to solve simple simultaneous equations, converting fractions to decimals without using a calculator. Lots of fun stuff."
"I don't even know what most of those words mean," Gregory said, sounding bewildered, "and I thought I was good at maths. You must be doing some really complicated maths."
Harry laughed, though not unkindly. "Well, Hogwarts doesn't teach it! So it's not surprising it's unfamiliar. It's very useful for a lot of Muggle stuff, though. And I have to say I'm still impressed by how easily some wizards and witches can calculate sickles and knuts for change in their heads, when shopping."
"I can do that," Gregory said happily, looking more content.
"And are you learning Muggle subjects too?" Draco asked Hermione.
"No, I'm committed to staying in the wizarding world," she explained. "And I want to get the absolute best marks I can on all my subjects so I'm more competitive for Ministry positions when I graduate. If I tried to do both, it would split my focus too much, my parents and I decided."
"Ambitious," he said approvingly, with a nod. While he always tried to be polite, it was the most complimentary he'd ever been to her and earned him a big toothy smile, which seemed to startle him.
His friends weren't the only ones interested in Harry's grades. With only two days to go before the end of school, Snape ordered him to stay after class. Neville hesitated and gave Harry an enquiring look, but left at Harry's reassuring nod and request to wait outside for him. So long as he could avoid eye contact Harry thought he would be alright.
"An A for Potions, as requested. Your brewing in the second half of this year has been… quite acceptable."
Harry nodded politely, watching Snape's chin and nose as much as possible. "Was my performance on the written exam satisfactory, sir?"
"As I did not specify the standard required for written work, it will do. Next year, I expect you to write essays and exams to an Exceeds Expectations level, and to continue with your high standard of brewing."
Harry smiled a little. That was an actual compliment. Snape had slipped up there.
"Your Charms exam went well, I heard."
"Yes, sir. As you demanded. I studied very hard for it the past month."
"Not so, Potter. To reach the level of proficiency you reportedly attained in your practical examination would have required a more extensive period of practice than the timing of our little chat allowed for. And apparently you exceeded the level of proficiency routinely displayed in your Charms class, as I suggested to Flitwick you might be able to if pushed."
Harry scowled. He knew it had been Snape's fault. "I just tried really hard. I do better under pressure than in a classroom setting."
Snape leaned back in his chair and steepled his long, potion-stained fingers in front of his mouth. "Why are you doing this?"
"Underperforming. What is it you fear about excelling in class? I assure you I shall be most circumspect and keep your answer entirely confidential."
"Why do you even care? I'm not the Heir of Slytherin, you know. I might be able to speak to snakes, but apart from that I'm no-one special," Harry grumbled. "Is it a 'Boy Who Lived' thing? Because I'd rather just be left alone to do my own thing."
"A little more respect, thank you. And to answer your questions… or accusations, I am interested because… your mother Lily and I were friends once. Good friends. And I think she would be appalled to see you wasting your potential in such a pointlessly sly fashion. What do you hope to accomplish with such a deception?"
Harry went still and quiet. "Do you… really think she would be angry?"
"More sad, perhaps. Disappointed. But angry at whomever or whatever was behind your decision to hide your talents. She could erupt like an angry volcano when she thought an injustice was being done. You thought she was so sweetly spoken, until that last thing would tip her over the edge into raging about the injustices of the world."
"Hermione's a bit like that," Harry mused.
"There are some similarities," Snape conceded politely, albeit with a grimace. "Though your mother was more humble - she didn't feel the need to show off quite so much. She didn't understand anyone not living up to their potential, however."
"I just want to be normal," said Harry quietly. "Have a normal life, fit in with everyone. Make people happy."
"That's a rather pathetic reason to underperform," sneered Snape, instantly making Harry regret sharing and provoking him into retaliating verbally, all prickly like a hedgehog.
"You don't understand! When I used to beat Dudley at school I'd be punished for it!" he yelled angrily. "They don't… they don't care so much about my Hogwarts grades. They even want me to do better at school, because they think then I won't do accidental magic anymore."
"Then why not excel at all your classes?"
"People will thinking I'm cheating. It's happened before. It happened with you. So don't say it wouldn't," Harry said, cutting off a potential line of argument before it could start. "People already talk about me, some have said and written horrible things about me with less evidence than that would give them."
"You want to be normal. Unremarkable."
"I suspect you don't truly know what normal is, despite your efforts to imitate it, Potter."
"I do," Harry said stubbornly.
"You don't," Snape said with exasperation. "Let me tell you a story. One which you would be very wise not to repeat to anyone. When I was young, I lived with my mother, who was a witch, and my father, a Muggle. Who drank. Heavily. He was… a nasty drunk. When he was deep in his cups he would swear viciously at us, the most hurtful things he could summon up. And… he was violent towards my mother. Myself too, sometimes. We thought it was normal. It came to be normal for us, little by little as things got worse. Until neither of us remembered it ever being different. And didn't other fathers drink? Didn't we cause him so much trouble we drove him to it? It seemed to me that all men drank, in that town.
"It was only once I started talking to others at Hogwarts, cautiously, about their families that I realised – my father wasn't normal at all. That his actions were something others would not only fail to condone – that he and his behaviours were instead viewed with disgust and derision. My family wasn't normal, and it didn't need to be that way. It shouldn't be that way. You think other children are so scared of the consequences of good grades that they need to hide their prowess and their other talents? That other children are used to labouring as you are? Punished as you are? Ask around. Look around. Turn that cunning mind of yours on analysing your own situation."
Harry was silent. It was a sad story. But surely… the Dursleys weren't that bad… unless he'd done something wrong… except for the cupboard. But that was his own fault. Wasn't it? Maybe meals were still an issue, but he preferred that to being fat like Dudley anyway. Besides, things were better now, and he didn't get punished when he behaved well – it wasn't a problem. He had it all under control.
"I think… I made things hard for them sometimes, being different," he said, wanting to share something since Snape had opened up to him so obviously painfully.
"My father used to blame me too. Taught me to blame myself for all the family's ills. 'If you weren't such a little freak, you could go ter a normal school, an' we wouldn't be so goddamned poor!'" Snape assumed a working class Brummie accent to quote his father, evoking the disgust and blame his father had once directed at him.
Harry flinched at his words, hunching into himself slightly. The accent was wrong, but the rest of it sounded almost like something Uncle Vernon would say.
"They're normal. I'm normal. Everything's fine, and better than it used to be. There's nothing wrong," he said with fake sincerity. "You don't need to worry about me. I'll work harder in classes next year."
"Yes. I said things like that a lot too," Snape said softly. "Things were always fine. Off you go then, if you're not ready to talk. Perhaps I'm not the right person. But… look around. See what other families do. And Harry?"
"Make your mother proud."
Harry flinched, and started to scurry out of the room before the mention of his mother reminded him that he had something to say to Snape, and may as well do so in person rather than in a letter.
The goblins had finally written a tardy response to him a week ago, politely gloating that he'd blocked access for anyone except himself or Neville to remove items from his vault. And thus the two items he'd requested to be sent to bequest recipients couldn't be distributed by them. He paused half way to the door, and turned to Snape. "Before I go sir, I just wanted to say that as I'm having a little trouble with my vault access at the moment, I will retrieve my mother's bequest to you over summer. So you should have it at the start of next year as I'd rather not send something that fragile by owl, anyway."
Snape went as still as a statue. "What?"
"Your bequest in the will – the crystal lily. I managed to get access to Potter Cottage, so I've retrieved it. I have no idea why Dumbledore as executor didn't manage to do so in the past. But perhaps it's because it's been locked down as a family property, or a historical landmark," he added politely as an afterthought, mindful of his audience. "In any case, I'd be happy to pass on her gift. If you still want it."
Snape seemed frozen. "I was in her will?" he asked softly. His enunciation seemed overly careful.
"You didn't know? My parents had a joint will, by the way. There was a message for you from mum, saying she forgave you for something you said, and-"
A couple of vials of potions spontaneously exploded on Snape's desk, making Harry reflexively duck for cover and protect his head. One of the glass shards flew up to lodge in Snape's cheek. He didn't even flinch, he was busy staring at Harry – or into his eyes. Harry glanced away.
"Forgive me… those were, ah, rather volatile potions," Snape said in a strained voice. Oily green potions dripped slowly off the desk onto the floor. "I should have taken more care with their storage."
"Yes, sir," said Harry nervously. Those potions weren't at all volatile. "I'll ah, write out a copy of her message for you when I bring the little lily statue, alright?"
"That would be appreciated," Snape said very carefully.
"Sorry if I upset you, sir," Harry said warily. "I didn't mean to bring up any bad memories. I apologise if I phrased things poorly."
"Oh, it's not you who's upset me. Not you," Snape said with a note of bitterness in his voice.
He was still sitting there with glass lodged in his cheek and blood running down his face while Harry backed towards the door slowly and fled the room.
Harry didn't want to think about what Snape had said, but he did, all the same. And he informally polled all his friends about what kinds of chores they did, and for how many hours. He even made a bar graph of the results. Draco did the least – the minimal amount of effort he exerted in putting his dirty laundry in a basket could hardly be counted as a chore, by Harry's reckoning. Even Dudley managed that much, most of the time. Neville was second after Harry due to his work in the family's greenhouse, and the margin of difference was noticeable, even with Harry's bargained reduction in chores he'd arranged with Dudley.
Harry asked Hermione what level of medical care she'd expect her parents to organise if she had glasses and an intolerance to the lactose in dairy. Yearly check-ups with specialists wasn't something he'd expected as an answer, and she was worried to hear he hadn't had any dental check-ups except once in early primary school. "Tooth decay is a problem for wizards sometimes, Harry."
"I know, but I don't want to be a burden on the Dursleys, and I don't eat a lot of sweets and my teeth aren't bothering me, so-"
"You'll come and visit my parents' practice, Harry," she pronounced sternly, interrupting him. "They'll give you a check-up for free, I'm sure. If they knew you'd saved me from a troll, I know it would be free dental work for life."
"I guess you're not going to tell them about being petrified, either?"
"No. I've told you before - they'd worry too much if they knew how dangerous Hogwarts could be. I don't want them to pull me out! So for example with the troll I… well I told them you and Neville bravely saved me from a big bully." Harry reflected that the Dursleys wouldn't pull him out. He'd told them at the start of the year about Dobby's foreboding vague warnings about an evil wizard wanting to kill him, but they hadn't been bothered that McGonagall had refused to let him home school his magical studies, and wanted him back at Hogwarts.
He already knew from previous conversations the kinds of soft punishments some other kids got for things like kitchen accidents. Except for Neville, no-one seemed to have parents or relatives who scolded or hit them very much. Though he wasn't completely sure about Draco. His constant worrying about what his father would think of things seemed a little odd at times.
Still, life was what it was. And he didn't have anywhere else to live, so he had to deal with the hand he was dealt, and make the best of a not too bad situation. He decided philosophically that even if his family wasn't the best of families, it could always be worse. At least he didn't have a great-uncle who dropped him out of windows. Snape should really be worrying about that, not about Harry.
On the train ride back to London they made quite a merry little group of Gryffindors and were joined by Percy and Ginny Weasley, and also (for a little while) the Ravenclaw prefect Penelope Clearwater whom apparently was Percy's girlfriend! Fred, George, and Ron all stopped by their compartment to say hello during the journey, as did Alice Tolipan, with a friend in tow. The Slytherin girls stopped by together, being carefully and pointedly polite to Hermione in congratulating her on her good grades before they left. Draco visited as well, though seemed taken aback to find their compartment contaminated by Weasleys. He stiffly reminded Harry that he wished to open a correspondence with him over summer, which Harry politely agreed to, writing down his address for Draco. He raised his eyebrow enquiringly and glanced at Gregory and Crabbe, and Draco responded to his unspoken question.
"They don't write unless they have to," he volunteered. "So there's no offence meant there – they're just not diligent correspondents. They won't write to me either."
Harry nodded and smiled, and the two hulking boys looked relieved.
Harry had a little project he worked on periodically as they travelled through the countryside – he was making a map. When he saw a town or notable landscape feature, he jotted it down in a notebook, along with the time. Leaving Hogsmeade Station they went south for about an hour at a thundering pace, through an unpopulated and mountainous region of the Scottish Highlands, and then seemed to join a Muggle railway at Stanley, then continued south through Luncarty and Perth. With Neville's borrowed pocket watch, after that he timed how long it took to go from one major Muggle railway station to another, so he could calculate later how fast the train must be going. When asked, he explained that he was trying to figure out where Hogwarts was located.
"Apart from in Scotland?" asked Hermione.
"Yes, more precisely than that would be good. I'd like to know what the nearest town is. Nearest Muggle town," he clarified, fending off the anticipated comments about Hogsmeade. "Next year we get to leave the school grounds, after all! It would be nice to go and see a movie on weekends, for instance. I just wish I knew how to Apparate. But the theory is bewilderingly lacking in detail and I haven't been game to practise on my own lest I 'Splinch' and lose a body part or two."
"You're much too young to be licensed, anyway," said Percy pompously. "You have to be seventeen, or nearly. But your time will come, Harry. And I don't believe you're allowed to visit anywhere except Hogsmeade."
"Mmm hmm," Harry said noncommittedly, with an outward appearance of agreement.
Soon enough they had reached Kings Cross Station, and all walked through the gateway back to the normal world. Time for a relaxing break from the weird and the wonderful. Not counting the sleeping magical snake hidden in his robe pocket. Or visiting Neville's manor for their H.E.L.P. meetings, or going to the summer fundraiser for St. Mungo's. Or the magical language school he was hoping to enrol in, or another visit to the Ministry to talk about buying a house-elf, and permanently securing his parents' cottage. Alright. Maybe there would still be a bit of magic.
A/N: And that's the last chapter for this fic! But the "Perfectly Normal" series continues with "An Abnormal Godfather", so please pop by to check out chapter one, which should be up by the time you reach this author's note! If you enjoy it, please follow, favourite, subscribe, leave kudos, write reviews or comments, etc., according to what website you're reading it on.
Now for the bad news. :( That fic is *not* finished. I'm still writing it. That means *no* updates for at least a couple of months while I finish writing it (thus why subscribing/following is advised to help you not lose track of it).
All is not lost, however! While you wait (with more or less patience) for more of this series to be written and posted, I hope I shall keep you entertained once a week on Friday mornings (Australian time), as I post a few other new stories. 17th and 24th of June will each have a new standalone Harry Potter fic posted for your enjoyment. And from 1st July onwards (hotel wifi on holidays allowing) there will be a longer multi-chapter Harry Potter/Pokemon crossover fic (set in the HP world) posted, with a new chapter each week for a couple of months (it's 8 chapters). You can subscribe to/follow me as an author, if you want to be extra sure you don't miss out on any stories.
Over the last few days since I posted chapter 26, I had over 1,000 visitors on fanfiction dot net, reading an average of 4 chapters or standalone stories each for a total of over 4,000 views. I love the handy graphs this site has that tells me such things! But on the other hand… I got only 7 reviews on this site in that time. 1% of my readers left a review, and I loved every one of those – but it would be great to have more reviews to read this week! This is it – the final chapter of this story in the series. So please, if you're enjoying this story or the "Perfectly Normal" series in general, I'd really appreciate it if you would leave a review on this chapter (and the first chapter of "An Abnormal Godfather") to let me know if you've enjoyed something in particular about this story, and if you would like to read more of this series.
Thanks again to my Britpicker, Jennybeth98! *Mwah*! I do my best to stick with British spelling choices, and then she went over this fic double checking for me in case I missed something. She is also cheerfully on call to answer the occasional question about word choice I throw out to her. Thanks!
Latin phrases and translations originally provided by websites such as Omniglot, NovaRoma and Google Translate have been edited for accuracy by "My blue rose" and her husband. Thanks very much team!
Ambrosius would be speaking a mix of Classical Latin and British Vulgar Latin (no really, that's what it's called), but the Latin in this fic is Classical Latin (for ease of translation accuracy).
The Old English phrases have been created with the aid of Google! Any errors are no fault of My blue rose. :) If you're familiar with the language, and wish to offer any corrections, you're welcome to do so.
1. [Old English] Hello, nice to meet you. What is your name?
2. [Latin] My fault/mistake. Greetings/welcome! Do you speak Latin? What is your name?
3. [French] Do you speak French? [Spanish] Do you speak Spanish?
4. [Latin] Please speak more slowly.
5. [Old English] Do you speak English? New English? [Latin] Speak English?
6. [Latin] I speak Latin. Latin.
7. [Latin] I think therefore I am. Hail/hello. Never tickle a sleeping dragon [Hogwarts motto].
8. [Latin] Good! You need to learn Latin.
9. [Latin] Salazar Slytherin? Is he your ancestor? No, I cannot speak [the language of] snake[s].
10. [Latin] Behold! Astounding!
11. [Latin] Farewell Harry! Take care of yourself!