When He Loved Me
This chapter is dedicated to Emily. Please keep reviewing. You made me laugh.
Yes, Nelle is Perenelle Flamel, kudos to the people who guessed. And yes, she is dying, because Sherlock still has the Philosopher's Stone he stole. Also, Kyoanna, you're getting warmer ;). Thank you so much EVERYONE who reviewed. You guys have no idea how much of this story's plot was thought up due to inspiration by you readers. Please keep giving me your ideas. While I may not incorporate much of what you give me, your ideas always get me thinking about new possibilities I hadn't thought of and then my plot starts to get twistier.
This story got so much more attention than I was expecting when I first started writing it, and is by far my favorite Fanfic I've done. And it's all thanks to you that I've stuck with it. Love you guys.
Also, a lot of you have PMed me, asking about my updating schedule, and to just answer all of you guys at once, I will aim for one MoD chapter a week, but I usually wait to start writing until I have around 30 reviews, and I wait to post until I have at least 50. This is both to pace myself, as I also have college work that I need to focus on, and to make sure that this story still has demand.
May the gods be ever in your favor
Severus all but prostrated himself before Nelle in gratitude and relief, still clutching Sherlock to his chest. Nelle waved him away. "If you ever need anything, Sevvy," she said warmly. "Just come right back here. Now get. I reckon that child needs a bit more medical attention, and my supplies seem to have suddenly disappeared." She said gesturing to the rubble that used to be her kitchen.
With a swift apology, Severus stood to his feet. He shifted Sherlock in his hold so that he was cradling the small boy in one arm, before he reached out to clasp Nelle's wrinkled hand in his own. "I will never be able to repay you, Nelle." He told her. "Never."
"Don't I know it," said the old witch wryly. "No get before that child falls back asleep and everything we just did comes for naught!" That got Severus moving and, almost before he realized what he was doing, he was stepping out of the green Flooplace in the Infirmary. Madam Pomfrey gasped and dropped a vial of blue potion, which then gave off the indicative foul smell of calming draught.
Severus soon saw the reason for the potion, as he purposefully walked past the still, silent forms of the petrified students to where there was a free bed. His own godson was agitatedly pouring over a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, looking manic, at the bedside of one Hermione Granger. Draco's head snapped up. As Severus gently, quickly, laid Sherlock's limp body down onto the nearest available bed, he saw the deep rings on Draco's paler than normal face around his eyes, the redness around his pupils.
"Poppy!" Severus called, though he really didn't need to. The Mediwitch was already on her way, floating a plethora of medical tools and potions behind her. Before she'd even reached the bed that held Sherlock, she was already casting diagnostic spells, and catching several potions from the air around her. "You mustn't let him fall asleep just yet," Severus warned her, seeing that one of the potions she'd grabbed was intended to help patients fall unconscious. "The healer I've just come from told me that if he does, all previous treatment will be undone. Now, I believe it's just a matter of healing the obvious damage done by the treatment. She'd have done it herself, but…her workplace was somewhat…compromised."
Poppy nodded wordlessly as she worked. After vanishing several potions into Sherlock's gut she spoke. "He's magically exhausted" Severus nodded, having expected this. "Whatever caused him to exhaust his magic also left several areas where his nerve endings were damaged, but that's an easy fix. My scans indicate great mental trauma, and that…is not so easily magicked away, Severus."
"Mister Malfoy," Severus turned to his godson, and then hesitated a moment. Draco was staring at Sherlock with such a heartbreaking look. It was as though Sherlock was sunlight, and Draco a blind man who'd only just been given sight. Luckily, Draco shook himself out of whatever it was quickly and stood to his feet.
"I'll go fetch John," he said crisply, before racing out of the room.
Cedric felt guilty as he listened to his friends gossip on the way to Charms. "Did you hear?" whispered one of his friends in a low tone. "Potter's been taken to Saint Mungos."
"No," said another Hufflepuff. "Really? It's about time then! So, they found proof of something, did they? I wonder what happened?"
"It's none of our business," Cedric tried to steer the conversation away from the topic of the poor little second year who was probably suffering from some kind of magical mental illness. His friends ignored him with practiced ease.
"I heard that one of the older Slytherins poisoned him."
"No way, Malfoy would throw a fit. Not to mention Flint's fond of the little bugger for some reason. Or, he was until this year."
"So, maybe it was Flint?"
"I dunno. I heard that it was Slytherin's monster. I've heard it said that it's some kind of demon, and now it's possessing Potter's body. Maybe that's why they've taken him away. To go get exorcised."
"Geez, McKay, you're such a Muggleborn! There's no such thing as demons and the only people who exorcise people are crazy muggles."
"My Uncle Dave got exorcised once…he wasn't crazy before, but boy is he now….Poor crazy Uncle Dave."
Cedric was about to comment on McKay's crazy uncle, just to keep them from going back to the Sherlock topic, when a scream pierced the hall, effectively cutting off all conversation for two solid seconds, before the noise returned as a thunderous roar. The part of Cedric that had landed him in Hufflepuff in the first place urged him forward, slipping agilely through and around curious students, until he reached the front of the crowd. What he saw sent chills down his spin.
"Guess this rules out the Potter brat," mumbled one Ravenclaw. "He's not even here."
"Or maybe that's just what he wants you to think," sniped back a Slytherin.
"Someone has to get a professor," Cedric said disbelievingly. "And why are you all just standing around gawking. Find out who was taken!" So saying he took off in the direction of the nearest Professor's office, as the students suddenly scrambled to make sure all of their female friends were still alive.
Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever.
John was sitting in the Gryffindor common room between Seamus and Dean when Draco burst into the common room. "How'd you get in?" Dean asked curiously. But Malfoy didn't even pause to answer him. He only grabbed John's arm and hauled him to his feet. The Malfoy Heir was panting, hard. The gleaming in his eyes made him look slightly insane, and his entire face was flushed red.
"Sherlock!" Draco all but shouted, his normal grace and composure nowhere to be seen. "He's back. C'mon!" As soon as Mycroft had uttered his brother's name, John was already running towards the Fat Lady's portrait. Soon the four boys were tumbling out of the Gryffindor Tower together, running past other students with out caring who they pushed and shoved as Mycroft led the way to the Medical Wing.
As soon as the heavy wooden doors of the infirmary were in sight, John pulled ahead of the rest of the group and flung open the doors with a tad of unintentional magic. He saw Snape and Pomfrey hovering around the furthest bed, and John pumped his legs even faster. He was going so fast, that he very nearly rammed right into Madam Pomfrey, but he managed to stop at the last second, before grabbing hold of the side of the bed.
Sherlock was laying on his back, head turned towards John. His eyes were only barely open, but he looked so very amused. "…like stars…" he mumbled, his words slurring. He tried to sit up, elbows propping him up, but Poppy only clucked and gently forced him to lay back down. "John" John took hold of Sherlock's hand, which felt so much colder than it should have. His eyes flickered past John, over his shoulders. "David. Sean." The two other Gryffindors laughed, half in relief half in honest amusement.
The corner of Sherlock's mouth twitched in a smile as Pomfrey and Snape stepped away to discuss further treatment of Sherlock's mind. A careful combination of potions would keep Sherlock awake until his magic had returned to a sufficient level, and they were sure that he'd have no relapses. For now, all that they could do was wait for Sherlock's magic to heal the boy on its own. Then Sherlock frowned. "Where's my brother?" he asked, confused. He was sure that's he'd seen Mycroft earlier.
Mycroft approached Sherlock's bed from the other side. "I was just getting your handler," Mycroft sniffed. He would have looked just like himself, if not for the pure emotion he was unable to hide on his face, and the haggardness that still lingered. "Now, Sherlock, just what trouble did you manage to get yourself into this time?"
"It wasn't my fault!" whined Sherlock.
"Than who's was it, mate?" asked Seamus. Sherlock frowned.
"I don't know," Sherlock admitted with a resentful twist of his lips. Dean and Seamus both looked very alarmed at hearing those words come out of his mouth and Sherlock sneered at them. "How am I supposed to know? I've been locked up for god knows how long!"
"Locked up?" Mycroft demanded.
"In my mind palace," Sherlock said softly, letting his head fall back against his pillow. Reluctantly, Sherlock related what had happened from his point of view, which, admittedly, wasn't all that much. Sherlock complained to all of them that the past several months (and he was horrified to learn that it had been several months) had been the most boring of his life and they better act more interesting than usual to make up for it. The three Gryffindors and Mycroft related what had happened outside of Sherlock's head. Sherlock had trouble coming to terms with that what they were saying could be true. Especially when Mycroft summed it up quite neatly.
"You turned into a goldfish."
They did, however, censor certain parts of "Harry's" behavior, such as his apparent crush on Ginny, his discrimination of the Slytherins, and his borderline bullying of Hufflepuffs, Neville, and Collin.
They managed to successfully pull Sherlock's attention away from "Harry" when Dean accidentally mentioned Slytherin's Monster and the Chamber, which led to another round of question and answer. Sherlock grew increasingly somber when he was informed of the list of victims included Greg and Colin. "What is being done about the monster?" he inquired.
Draco and John exchanged a look. "The Ministry has been alerted," Mycroft told him. "Hagrid was arrested not too long ago, apparently somebody tipped them off that he was the one who released the monster in the school. I even found some records condemning him for a similar string of attacks that happened over fifty years ago."
Sherlock would have spluttered in disbelief if he'd had the energy. "HAGRID?" he gasped. "B-but, he's…Hagrid."
Mycroft nodded solemnly. "Seeing as how the attacks didn't stop upon his incarceration, my Father promised to get Hagrid a Veritaserum trial. However, even if Hagrid does turn out innocent, that means the culprit is still at large. If he or she is not found soon…"
"They'll shut down the school…" Sherlock closed his eyes, wishing for the first time in a long time that he could fall asleep. "And you have no leads?"
"I have one," Mycroft said, now a bit more confident. "Thanks to Miss Granger." He moved to hand his brother the paper he'd pulled from Greg's palm. Sherlock narrowed his eyes, considering, but then shook his head. His brain hurt too much for him to try to read at the moment.
Understanding, Mycroft simply put it back into his pocket without another word. "Evidence has lead me to believe that the monster is a basilisk, roaming around by way of pipes."
Sherlock frowned, wearily searching through his mental files. His knowledge on things like basilisks were, unfortunately, rather lacking. He'd been remedying his lack of knowledge about the supernatural as much as he could when he came to Hogwarts, but there were so many obscure things to discover and learn about magic, magical creatures and lost arts that he still had a long way to go on nearly any given subject. On one hand, that thought thrilled Sherlock because it meant that he didn't even have to grow bored. There was just so much to learn. On the other, it was incredibly annoying because when something like this came up he had almost no information to draw on like he could for mundane muggle cases.
"I'd thought that basilisks killed their prey with their gaze?" Sherlock asked, confused.
"They do, brother mine," Mycroft assured him. "However, the cat was standing in a puddle of water. Creevy was peering through his camera. The Hufflepuff was standing behind Nearly-Headless Nick and Gremione was holding a compact mirror she borrowed from one of her dormmates."
Sherlock idly traced shapes on the back of John's hand with his thumb as he chewed this over. "But why would indirect visual contact cause petrification? Wouldn't it make more sense for it to simply cause paralysis?"
"Petrification is the magical form of paralysis," Mycroft informed him. This lead to a debate about the logic and science behind that that quickly scared off Dean and Seamus, who promised to spread the word to Gryffindor that Sherlock was back and healthy. The two Holmes brothers barely noticed them leave, while John gave them a bright, happy farewell.
Severus and Poppy, who had gone into the Mediwitch's office to discuss Sherlock's further treatment out of earshot of the children, returned with Madam Pomfrey bearing a flat, rectangle pad of pressed herbs which gave off a strong, sweet smell. She then wetted it with a vial of clear, scentless potion before draping it over Sherlock's forehead. Relief was immediate. His muscles relaxed into boneless goo and the throbbing of his sore brain began to wane.
"This is a potion typically used to treat those who have suffered the Cruciatus Curse," Poppy told Sherlock as she handed him yet another vial. "Drink it all, and no complaining about the taste. I'd simply vanish it into your gut like the others, but that renders this particular potion useless, I'm afraid."
"For my nerves," Sherlock guessed before pouring it down his throat, wincing a bit at the literal crappy flavor. Madam Pomfrey confirmed that as she cast a spell to check his core. A weak, pulsating white orb appeared above his chest. John absently batted at it, feeling the slight warmth it gave off when his hand passed through it.
"It's very pretty," he commented. "Prettier than I'd expect yours to be." Sherlock pouted at him.
"I'll bet Mycroft's looks like a lump of lard," Sherlock sniffed. "And yours like a lumped-up jumper." John smiled at him humorously.
"Do behave," Severus drawled from where he was leaning against the wall, looking decidedly weary. "I shall come back to ensure you are still resting in a few hours. I have other students to attend to. Try not to get into any more mischief before then."
"So, after is all right?"
"Brat," was all the Potion's Master said as he swept passed the students. "Poppy," he said to the Mediwitch in a low voice. "I don't believe those two will cause you any trouble."
Pomfrey rolled her eyes. "Severus, I'm not so cold hearted as to separate those three just after they've finally been reunited. Go tend to your snakes, I'll watch these three." Snape nodded his thanks before exiting. Poppy turned back to the bed at the end of the row, where John had curled up next to Sherlock on the mattress. The smallest Weasley boy's golden head was resting on Sherlock's chest, their hands still entwined. Draco Malfoy had pulled over a chair as well as his thick textbook and was reading out loud from it in a smooth, articulate voice with practiced ease.
Poppy smiled to herself. Despite how horrid the school year had been thus far, with all the petrification and the threat of Hogwarts closing her gates for good, she felt as she looked at the three children that maybe, just maybe, they had made it past the worst of the storm.
It took a rather long while to discover just who had been taken. In fact, it took such a long time that many began to write it off as a rather unsavory prank. However, the teachers did not brush it aside as quickly. When Severus returned to the dungeons to discover that a new message had been scrawled across a wall in blood, he had immediately called for all of his snakes to return at once to the common room for a tally count.
Sprout, Flitwick and McGonagall, who had all already been informed, did likewise. The Slytherins were second quickest to assemble, aside from the Hufflepuffs who were mostly already gathered in their dorm out of fear and the staunch belief of "safety in numbers", shepherded by the concerned fourth year, Cedric Diggory.
At first, when one Ms. Weasley was the last of his snakes to show, Snape had irritably chalked it up to her hanging around the Gryffindor second years, as she had been want to do. So, he'd sent a patronus up to Minerva in Gryffindor Tower, asking for confirmation of the little girl's presence.
She had sent back her own to the negative.
Now concerned, he waited impatiently for another twenty minutes. Then he told the prefects to not allow anyone to leave to common room, before he left, his robes flying about in a flurry with every step he took.
"Point me Ginerva Weasley," his wand spun in his hand…and kept spinning. She was near, but no where that the wand could pinpoint. Severus felt his stomach drop. Sweet Merlin, they only just got Sherlock back. Now Ginerva was missing? In the back of his mind, Severus guiltily thought better her than the Little Weasley, but he ruthlessly shoved that aside. No matter how much he considered John to be his responsibility, Ginerva was actually one of his snakes.
He called for a gathering of the professors and his worst fear was confirmed. All students were accounted for…except Miss Weasley. Her parents were sent for, and Minerva wearily gave the other Weasley boys permission to break the news to their youngest brother. Severus turned away from the crying, worried faces of the red headed clan, listening as they disappeared in the direction of the infirmary.
They simply couldn't catch a break, could they?
Sherlock looked up from where he'd had his face buried in John's hair, listening to his brother speculate about the Monster of Slytherin, when the infirmary doors burst open for the second time that evening. In rushed the three other Weasley boys present at Hogwarts. Sherlock had been expecting his self-proclaimed "adopted brothers" at some point that evening, but not like this. Not with tear-stained faces. Not with tense, angry expressions. Not with fear etched into every muscle. Something had happened.
"Percy?" Sherlock asked, knowing that the oldest would give him the facts the straightest. However, he was shocked into silence when the sixth year only flung his arms around him, drawing John and Sherlock both into his arms, close to his chest with a heart wrenching, strangled sound. "Percy?" Sherlock asked again, his voice now muffled by the front of Percy's clothing.
The boy didn't answer as the twins dejectedly leaned against their brother, until the four of them were in some sad parody of a group hug. "What's happened?" Mycroft demanded.
The twins answered in a hollow voice. Sherlock and John froze, while Mycroft adopted a thinking pose. "When?" he asked. The twins looked up at each other, and seemed to come to a decision. "The message got put up an hour or so ago," said George.
"But we only just found out who exactly it was a few minutes ago"
"They called everyone to their common rooms,"
"And she was the only one we couldn't find."
"Message? Where? And what did it say?" Sherlock asked, still squished with John in Percy's embrace. Percy answered in lieu of the twins this time.
He sniffled once, and then was all business. He released John and Sherlock, but not before tenderly brushing his fingers through Sherlock's hair. "Another message written in blood," he said tensely. "Her skeleton will lie in the chamber forever" he quoted. "People are saying some Puffs found it on the second floor."
"Where Mrs. Norris was," John said, contemplatively. His intestines were tied up in knots out of worry for his little sister. He forced himself to act as though they were on any regular case, however, knowing it was Ginny's best chance. As John was thinking along these lines, Sherlock unsteadily slid out of bed.
"What are you doing?" Mycroft said frantically. "You're supposed to be resting!"
"And Ginny is supposed to be safe!" Sherlock retorted. "Are you going to help me, or not?" Mycroft hesitated before nodding.
"We're with you too," said Percy.
"No way we're"
"Loosing another Weasley" agreed the twins.
As one they slid passed the ghosts and portraits monitoring the halls, out of pure luck, they managed to not run into any professors. "Where are we going?" John asked Mycroft, who was leading the way.
"The monster is somewhere in the sewer system, which is where all of the pipes in the castle are connected to," he answered quietly as they ran. "So, the entrance to the chamber is somewhere with access to the sewers."
"A Bathroom," Sherlock caught on, though he was wheezing slightly, stumbling a bit from exhaustion. Percy, with a strong, practiced arm, slung Sherlock up into their air and onto his back without breaking stride. It was actually a rather impressive move. Sherlock normally would have bristled by this treatment, but at the moment he as simply too relieved to be off of his feet. He still felt very drained.
"How do we know"
"Which one?" Fred and George asked as they ducked beneath the sight of a portrait, upon hearing them the man in the picture called out for whoever was their to reveal themselves, but they ignored him as they continued on, nearly to the hall where the message had been written.
"I'm assuming the one nearest to where the first attack took place," Mycroft said. "Not only is it fairly central to the attacks, but it's also one that literally no one ever uses."
"Why?" asked John.
"Myrtle," it was Percy who answered. "Rather annoying ghost. Trust me, you learn to ignore her fairly early on. She's in the girl's toilet on the second floor."
The skidded around the corner, and pounded across the stone floor, footsteps echoing in the empty hall as they drew closer to the bathroom. "That…actually perfect" said Sherlock.
"Yes," agreed Mycroft. "Proof that the monster was physically in the bathroom. Face-to-face visual contact, instant dead girl left to haunt the loo forever. Not only that, but rarely used pipes."
"Also," smiled Sherlock. "A witness."
John reached the door first, and opened it only to be blasted in the face by a jet of water. "GET OUT!" screamed a whiney, annoying, high pitched voice. "NO BOY'S ALLOWED! GET OUT! GET OUT!"
"Myrtle!" reprimanded Percy.
"Please," interrupted Mycroft will all the Malfoy charm he could muster. "We need your help." Obviously not used to any kind of positive attention, Myrtle paused and looked down at Draco Malfoy, noting his attractive features and noble aire. She giggled and Sherlock may have thrown up in his mouth just a little.
"With what?" she asked, still sounding rather whiney despite trying to look flirtatious.
"My friend was taken by the monster that lives in here," Mycroft explained. "Would you tell me what you saw in here? Anything at all will help! Please, I'm really worried about them."
Myrtle thought about this for a second, completely oblivious to the fact that all five boys were quickly losing patience. Luckily, before one of the Gryffindors could do something Gryffindorish, such as chucking a bar of ancient, dusty soap at her head, Myrtle decided to answer.
"You're not going to try to kill it, are you?"
"And what if we are?" George asked, somewhat angrily. Myrtle rolled her eyes.
"Because you'll all die," she said simply. Then she smiled. "If you do die," she told Mycroft "you're welcome to share my toilet."
With a perfectly straight face, Mycroft replied. "An absolutely enticing offer. Please, Myrtle, tell me how you died."
The whiney ghost looked rather pleased. "Oh, it was horrible" she crooned with a smile. "I was in that stall there, crying because that dreadful Olive Hornbey was making fun of my glasses, when all of a sudden I heard a boy talking. But he wasn't speaking normally at all. He was speaking some made up language, and it was rather annoying to listen to. So, I opened up the stall to tell him to Go Away."
"And then," Percy prompted when she stopped talking.
"And that's when I saw it…great big yellow eyes" she said dramatically.
"And then" the twins said, now shaking with restrained anger and frustration.
Mycroft nodded. "Luckily, I know how to kill it. So, my dear, if you simply tell me how to go after it, I'll exact revenge for you."
Myrtle gasped, clasping a hand over her translucent chest. "You would? Oh!"
She made a strange, moaning sound that made all of the boys present wince, and did a loop in mid air before plunging straight down into the seat of a toilet, splashing water everywhere. Then, her head reappeared in front of one of the faucets at the round sink. "This is where the boy was standing, but I don't know how he went down."
"Down?" asked Sherlock as he slid off of Percy's back, who seemed reluctant to let go of him. Myrtle only nodded, much tot heir irritation. The two Holmes brothers examined the sink. The only difference was the fact that there were tiny snakes carved around the spout on that particular faucet, whereas none of the others had such a design. There was no secret switch or rune to read aloud and activate. Mycroft growled in vexation.
Eyes not leaving the tiny stone snakes, Sherlock asked his brother "Any ideas one how to get this thing to open?" Then he jumped backwards as the sink began to vibrate and rumble. He turned to his brother with a smile, thinking that Mycroft had done something clever, but then frowned upon seeing the shock on Draco's face.
"What?" Sherlock asked.
"Yeah," said George.
"My thoughts exactly" added Fred.
"Back to that later," said Percy as he pulled out his wand and put protection charms on his brothers and Mycroft. The way is open" he said and, indeed, the sink had slid away to reveal a long, filthy tunnel like hole in the ground. "Let's go get Ginny. She's already been down there a long time." John nodded in agreement and made to jump down first.
Percy grabbed his arm and pulled him back, "wait!" he warned. Then he cast a cleaning charm on the walls of the hole, then a charm to decrease friction. With that he threw himself into the hole, sliding down it quickly. After a few seconds they heard him cast a cushioning charm. Then Percy called back up that it was safe.
The twins went next, first Fred, then George. Draco followed. "Ready?" asked Sherlock with a weak smile. "Could be dangerous…"
John took Sherlock's hand. And together, they jumped.
Arthur and Molly Weasley had been enjoying a rare day in when the owl came. Arthur had smiled, recognizing it as a Hogwarts owl. He was hoping for some news about Sherlock, as all of the previous letters had been somewhat lacking of updates concerning his raven-haired child. To be quite honest, he was growing concerned.
Thinking that the owl was from Percy (The twins always wrote their letters on colorful muggle parchment or hexed their owls into flashing various vibrant hues) Arthur called Molly in saying "Mollywobbles! Owl for us!"
Molly had scurried in, drying her hands on her apron as she's just been washing up the kitchen. "What's it say, dear?" she asked as Arthur turned it over. Then he frowned. There was the Hogwarts Wax seal on the front. That meant that a teacher had sent it.
"I'm not sure," he said as he slid a finger under the flap, popping the seal up. He pulled out the letter and felt his heart stutter as he found that there was written on the parchment only two words and a signature.
"Come quickly ~Severus Snape"
At the bottom of the hole it was dark, the only light coming from their wands which they had lit the moment their feet touched the floor. It was filthy and scummy water was up to their ankles. The boys paid it no mind, not even the normally prissy Mycroft. In fact they explored this new dungeon with single minded determination to find Ginny until they stumbled upon an enormous fifty-foot snake skin.
"Pretty safe to say that the basilisk theory has been confirmed" George joked weakly.
"What?" asked Fred sarcastically. "No. That obviously belongs to a flobber worm."
John would have forced a laugh at his brothers, but just then, a jet of magic blasted into the wall behind them. They all five lunged away from where the spell had hit the chamber wall, leaving a crater behind. They stared into the darkness, looking for the source of the spell, but their eyes couldn't make out anything in the low light of the Chamber. Mycroft picked up his wand, which he had dropped in the commotion. But before he could light a lumos another blast his hid hand and he cried out loudly, in pain.
The chamber gave an alarming crumbling sound, that was louder than thunder. Rocks and stone and rubble came raining down on their heads, dust flying into their eyes and mouths. They coughed violently, covering their faces with their robes to prevent the most of it from getting into their lungs and noses. Great giant boulders crashed into the water making waves, some big enough to knock the smaller boys off their feet and even Percy had trouble staying upright.
When the dust cleared, the eldest Weasley present did a quick head check and gave a small cry of anguish. "SHERLOCK!"
"Here!" the reply was faint, as though it were coming from….
….. on the other side of the wall of rubble, Sherlock felt fear twist his stomach. He'd only just gotten his family back. And now he was alone again. In the dark. Except now he could hear the quiet but frantic voices of his brothers and John. Sherlock called back to them once, but then summoned his wand to his hand. His body relaxed as his recognized the magic that thrummed between his body and the instrument.
"Lumos" he breathed, and sighed deeply when the darkness was pushed back just a bit. Forcing aside all of his worries and feelings, all of the aches, pains and exhaustion of his transport, Sherlock focused his everything on the case at hand. "I'm going to find Ginny" he called back to John before he took off running.
The trajectory of the spell's light had come from this angle, Sherlock thought to himself. Following that, he saw splash outlines on the otherwise dry wall, indicating that the attacker had run down the left of the labyrinth Sherlock now found himself in. Before long, Sherlock was rewarded with a most magnificent sight.
A large chamber had opened up out from the narrow tunnel. A huge statue of a willowy man stood in the center. He looked to be very severe and stern, probably about mid forties, knowing the way that wizards age. Slytherin the Original, unless Sherlock missed his guess which he doubted. The water level was lower here, but there was the tell tale smell of rotting flesh. This is where the monster, the basilisk, must nest.
"Harry Potter" said a smooth voice. Sherlock whipped around to face the one who had addressed him. "Or, you prefer Sherlock, don't you." It was a boy, probably around Percy's age, maybe a tad older. Infinitely better looking though. His hair was styled much like Mycroft had done his hair in their first life, though the coloring matched Sherlock's. His eyes were a fetching forget-me-not blue, and his skin was almost artfully pale. The boy smiled a white, even smile, tilting his head in a way that Sherlock was certain he must have practiced in a mirror. It made him look almost too agreeable. However, there was a careful method to his every movement. Calculated. And the boy's eyes gleamed with intelligence.
He was, in short, somewhat interesting.
"You have me at a disadvantage," Sherlock drawled, lowering his wand with the tip pointing lazily at the floor. However, his empty hand was ready with a fistful of magic, ready to be flung at the new contender who wore robes of a slightly different fashion from what Hogwarts students wear, albeit with a highly recognizable Hogwarts crest over his heart and a Slytherin tie about his neck.
"Of course," smiled the boy. "My name is Tom. Tom Riddle, pleasure to meet you. I must say, I've heard quite a bit about you."
"I wish I could say the same," said Sherlock. "But that's of little importance. I can tell by the way you hold your shoulders that you weren't born into nobility but you've come to emulate the mannerisms of those around you who have. However, I can assume from the shape of your nose as well as the structure of your cheeks and chin that you are probably descended from nobility from at least one, if not both, sides of your family somewhere down the line. Raised poor, but expectant of a greater life style as is obvious from the good quality of your outer robes but the sad state of your shoes and trousers which are mostly hidden. Their kept in good shape, but it's obvious that your trousers are two sizes too short and your shoes are all but worn through. Both are held together by willpower and magic, aren't they." Tom looked flabbergasted, but Sherlock wasn't done.
"I can feel the magic coming off of you, except it's tightly restrained. You've perfected the art of acting to just a great degree that even your magic pretends to be something it's not. It's dark, and wild but you've managed to make the barest, tiniest wisps at the very end protrude out the greatest, so those weaker than you who try to taste your magic without your approval feel only a vague grey, disciplined energy. Therefore, you are powerful, you know you are powerful, but are hiding your potential from people of equal or greater power for your benefit while letting some who are weaker feel your true power also for your benefit.
"However, there is something off about your magic. Namely that it's not flowing. The magic of all living wizards is a constant stream of sparking energy that never ceases and yet yours seems almost frozen. No one, not even Dumbledore could control their magic to that degree which leads me to the conclusion that you Tom Riddle, are not alive. Therefore you must be dead, but you are obviously not a ghost. You're holding Ginny's wand. Ghosts are intangible."
"Remarkable," breathed Tom Riddle. Sherlock paused, just for a moment, remembering a time long ago, in the back of a cab when another interesting person had smiled and called him "Brilliant" rather than "freak". Nevertheless, Sherlock continued.
"Ginny's wand, why are you holding Ginny's wand? More than that, why would it work for you? Her wand is arcadia, it wouldn't perform that well for just anybody. This means that it must think you are Ginny, but the only way to fake a magical signature is by absorbing the magic of the person who's signature you are faking.
In short, you are a dead-not-ghost which Ginny's magic inside of you, extremely powerful with a gift for manipulation, from a humble beginning but aspirations and expectations of greatness due to nobility in your bloodlines. Ergo, you are not only the Heir of Slytherin, Mr. Riddle, but you are a horcrux of none other than the Dark Lord Voldemort."
Tom Riddle had started applauding him with a slow smile spreading across his face. "Truly" he said. "Ginny did not lie when she spoke of your greatness, Sherlock." His face was nearly shining with happiness. "Never in all of my life have I ever met someone who's cleverness matched my own. And now, here you stand exceeding it. I'd say we would be great together, but we're already great, you and I. Aren't we."
"We are," Sherlock agreed. "But I have people who make me better."
Tom rolled his eyes. "Yes, Ginny has told me about John."
"But did she tell you that he agreed to go wherever I follow? That he agreed to love me even if I decide to become a Dark Lord myself." Tom's eyes narrowed, not out of suspicion, but intrigue. "What about how he and I together have decided to support the Dark and all it stands for." Sherlock thought about what he just said. "Most of what it stands for."
Tom actually laughed a bit at that. Quietly, but honestly laughed. "Really? You, the Boy-Who-Lived who managed to defeat me in infancy. How did that happen, by the way?"
"Blood ritual sacrifice. For some reason, you gave my mother the chance to save her own life. Best I can figure is this activated a ritual she set up previous to your attack. I've analyzed it since. Done tests and experiments. To be quite honest, Aeldin, I can't imagine how I survived otherwise."
"What did you just call me?"
Sherlock ignored him. "Anyway, I've actually come to make a proposition."
"And what is that, little Gryffindor?"
Sherlock frowned at him. "Ginny told you about me and John you say? Then you know that I…that he is mine. And that Ginny is his. And that makes her mine too. I wont let you take what's mine Tom. Let Ginny live, and I'll aid your cause. Resurrect you to full power and end the war once and for all. If she dies, however. I will destroy your horcrux which I'm willing to bet is that little book lying over there."
Sherlock looked over to Ginny's still, pale form that was laying on the ground some ways to the right of them. Her red hair was arrayed on the ground around her head like a halo, and her limbs where haphazardly twisted in uncomfortable looking positions. In one of her hands was clutched a small, black book.
Tom gave a helpless smile. "Despite how clever you are, Sherlock. There are a few things wrong with that."
"Oh? Do tell."
" Killing Ginerva is what will give me my body back. And even if it didn't, you can't stop me."
"Basilisk venom could, and I bet I know where I could find some. Failing that, Fiend Fire would do the job. I've never cast it before, but I know someone who has. I could just take the information from them and, honestly, how hard could it be?"
Tom was no longer smiling. He didn't look angry, just pensive. Considering. "And tell me, Sherlock. Just how would you give me back my body?"
"It's simple, Thomas," Sherlock smiled. "I possess another one of your horcruxes and a Philospher's stone. Using these two thing could summon the remainder of your horcrux soul pieces to the largest chunk of soul—you—and all that I would need to do is create a homunculus body to put your soul in after. I've actually already made a few, for experiments you understand. I think I've gotten quite good at them. Though, the first few looked like troll babies."
Tom started to laugh again, doubled over. All at once, he was no longer as solid looking as before. To his right, Ginny suddenly took a gasping breath, though she did not stir. The wand dropped through Tom's hand. "All right, Sherlock. I'm listening. She won't die just yet. Convince me."
"No. So far, all I've told you is what you would gain from joining me. In all reality, I don't give a flying fig about Ginny. I just don't want my John to be sad. What can I gain from having you join us."
"John and I, obviously."
Tom, held his chin in hand, tapping a foot on the floor as he thought. "Hmm, Ginny said you're fond of animals…" he said slowly. "All animals?"
"How do you feel about giant, people-eating snakes?"