Pseudonymous Entity : Rise!
"I will burn...I will burn for you...with fire and fury."
Summary: "Do we have a deal?" A basilisk wasn't the only thing Hogwarts kept locked away for centuries. There is a secret hidden within the Chamber that is darker than blood. A fourteen year old savior, angry and desperate to survive the TriWizard Tournament, just found it. Revolution. Anarchy. Morally ambiguous. Survivor!Harry.
Characters: Harry Potter, and...
Warnings: Morally Ambiguous. I can provide further warnings if necessary, feel free to suggest them and I shall take them into consideration.
Contains: Questionable Alliances, Magical Theory, Political Maneuvering, Conspiracy, Blatant Manipulation, Unexpected Backstabbing...
AN: Originally this was a one shot written for a contest. It was a one shot that I tentatively thought to write out into a story at some point. It became something much more than that. I was drawn into what I started beyond the requirement and it took on a life - and possibility- of its own. I saw where I could take this. I could go so much farther than before. While I have never been one to shy away from subjects that me personally uncomfortable, I have never dared to push it so far in any of my stories. Always holding back just a bit. With this though. I could see it. Where it could go. What I could do. And I was excited. So I posted it and in the background while writing updates for my other stories I had this one. I write out ideas for it. Information. Where precisely I wanted to be headed. And now I have rewritten the first chapter and present it to you as the start of its own full length story. The updates for this may be longer in between than my other stories for how long the chapters are. I hope that you all will bare with me.
ANx2: The original one shot is still up if you would like to read it. It was called Darker Than Blood.
ANx3: Thoughts, Comments, Questions, Theories, Guesses and Limericks always appreciated.
Obnoxiously long AN done...
Ever Yours, PSEU
"Like a hand grenade thrown in a hurricane, spinning in chaos trying to escape the flame
Yesterday is gone faster than the blast of a car bomb
And when scars heal the pain passes, as hope burns we rise from the ashes
Darkness fades away and the light shines on a brave new day
Our future's here and now; here comes the countdown
Sound it off this is the call, rise in revolution
It's our time to change it all, rise in revolution
Unite and fight to make a better life
Everybody one for all, sound off; This is the call
Tonight we rise (RISE!) Tonight we fight (RISE!)
Never give up
Rise! Rise! Rise in revolution
Chapter One: The Beginning
Let them be angry.
Harry sat on the damp floor of an abandoned washroom. The walls and the stone tiles of the floor glistened with a wetness that never quite managed to go away. A mirror decorated with build up and condensation hung upon the wall to his right. Below it three sinks stood. Two of them leaked, water dropping from them into the half filled basin below like a metronome. No sign of the spirit which often inhabited the room. She must be off in some other bathroom today. He unfolded his legs and pushed them out in front of him, ignoring the splash of water from one of many puddles littering the floor. Being there alone was all the better for Harry. The Gryffindor tilted himself to the side a bit and reached a hand into the pocket of his slacks. He retrieved a brownie wrapped in some napkins. The only thing he bothered grabbing from the impromptu party the tower was throwing in his honour. Harry nibbled at it without really tasting it. Chewy and soft. It would have been enjoyable if he were in the mood for enjoyment.
The raven haired wizard began to fold one of his napkins into a crane.
Why was Ron jealous?
Harry pondered this for the fourth or perhaps fifth time that night. Trying to justify his friend's behaviour and failing to do. Harry knew that often if you have to go out of your way to validate something someone -or even yourself- does or says then they probably shouldn't be doing or have done it. It was your subconscious way of pointing out to yourself that something was right. The red head said he was upset Harry didn't take him to put his name in as well. But no that wasn't enough for him to be this upset. Disappointed that he wasn't chosen. More specifically perhaps...that he missed a chance to be chosen over Harry. To be better than him.
He set the finished crane carefully in a puddle, letting it float. Harry's hand reached for another napkin and began to fold it. Cranes were the only thing he knew how to make so another crane it would be.
The strength of his friend's anger and jealousy towards him troubled Harry. Was it just that strong of a reaction or had Ron been holding it in for so long that it came out in a burst? Harry swallowed the last bit of brownie in his mouth hard. His throat hurt. How could you harbor such negative feelings for someone else and still call yourself their friend? Shouldn't Ron have mentioned something? But no. No, he'd known. Harry knew. It was his eyes or the way he said the things he said sometimes without thinking. He'd known Ron was jealous of him at times. It was why he never brought the boy down to his vaults with him or even offered to. Why he purposefully avoided bring attention to his new robes or new books. He'd known. Harry had known and he had ignored it. Hoping maybe that it would go away on its own. That Ron would get over it. That it wouldn't have gotten to this point.
I don't know why I care.
Harry fixed a corner, smoothing out a wrinkle before setting the crane down to join the other. One more and he'd have a set of three. One for Ron, one for Hermione, one for...
Why did he have to apologize? Be understanding. Patient. They expected him to be. Hermione left him after assuring him she did not think he entered himself in the tournament to see to Ron- and after extracting a promise from Harry that he wouldn't do anything stupid. Harry hadn't promised anything -or even responded- but she'd taken his silence as agreement and gone to find Ron. To calm him down. Allow him to vent his insecurities. Help him to realize he was wrong to take them out on Harry. And Harry? Left to his own devices. To pretend he was pleased in the face of his fellow Gryffindors, the tower much excited to have a member of their house competing. He was left to smile and act assured and confident when he felt like screaming. Or crying. Or both.
The last crane sat in the palms of his hand. He stared at it. With a short waved it animated, lifting it's wings up and down in the parody of flight. His hands were shaking a bit he noticed in a detached way. He probably shouldn't be here.
Harry was frightened. He was frightened but he didn't get to be frightened. Not when he chased after the stone. Not when he faced down a basilisk below this very floor. Not when stood between his friends and a murderer. Not even when he fled through the woods at the world cup in a sea of other, frightened people. Even then he had to seem as if he had it together. That he had a plan or was confident he would get through whatever was happening. It wasn't true. He never knew if he would be able to do what he set out to. He was often scared, unsure, close to turning back. Harry was a child yet. If not has childlike mentally and emotionally as was proper. Still, he was the same age them. Younger even. Couldn't he be weak? Just once. Couldn't someone comfort him? Protect him. Save him. Or was that selfish?
I was better off alone.
Harry's hands curled into fists, crumpling the crane still within them. The paper bird gave a startled squeaked that was quickly silenced. He stood and tossed it aside. It hit the floor with a wet thwack, rolling over twice to the edge of the puddle the other two floated in. Neither bird looked its way.
Couldn't he be angry for a little while? Just for a little while he would like to feel sorry for himself. Angry for the situations he found himself in. At the world for placing him in them, to begin with. At the adults for never being there to do the adulting and leaving it to him when he could hardly handle smiling day to day let alone pretending he was braver than he felt and calmer than he felt and more put together than he was. Harry's childhood was hardly the case study of a well developed, emotionally stable young person. If anything they were all lucky. Imagine what he could have done the last time he was here if he hadn't felt quite so accommodating
Ginny did. She sometimes jumped if he came up to her from behind. Harry would catch her giving him considering looks. As if she were comparing the two of them in her head. The future Dark Lord and The Boy Who Lived. They both found this place refuge. Where they wouldn't have to worry what the world thought of them. Where they could get even with them if they chose. But no. Harry made his choice the moment he let Tom control the basilisk. He didn't even try to convince the sixteen-year-old not to kill him. He didn't try to bargain or compromise. Almost as if...he wanted the basilisk to catch him. He wanted Riddle to get him. He wanted to be finished with it all. No. That was stupid. He was fine. He was always fine.
Except he really, really wasn't.
Do it. Just do it.
Stone on stone grinding and groaning answered his call. Harry's heart skipped a couple beats. Was he really doing this? Was that fear or excitement? He stood there breathing in the rush of air that smelled like brine. Adrenaline. Green eyes stared down the whole in the ground that wasn't there moments before. Did this count as jumping down the rabbit hole if he'd already done it? Or was it one of those moments where the intentions...the motivation meant everything. Harry didn't have ulterior motives. He just wanted to get away. From everything.
Harry jumped. This time, he slid down on his feet rather than sliding through on his back. This was just as exciting but a lot cleaner. His knees were bent, head ducked, arms out. He jolted back in forth, legs sliding apart at times and almost too close at others. His fingers inches from the slick sides of the tunnel. He whipped along faster than his eyes could keep up with. Harry considered trying to get to his original position of flailing wildly on his back as it seemed a hell of a lot safer. He was very aware he could snap his ankle at any moment. Or his neck if he leaned up too far. The end came into sight, Harry's legs tense and sprang. The raven haired teen landed amongst the mud and strewn animal parts mixed with various unidentified bits decorating the floor. A macabre sort of silt. Cracking and creaking bones echoed ominously in the entry chamber. Harry remembered the first time he came down here Ron had shuddered with nearly every step he took.
But there wasn't anything to be afraid of. He turned and began down the path. What could he meet here that he wasn't prepared for? Giant snake? Been there. Dark Lord? Done that. The life draining spirit had, of course, disappeared when he pierced its diary with a fang from the very basilisk it set to kill him. He could appreciate the irony in that. An odd pang followed the thought. He really was alone now. Riddle had to be taken care of. Dumbledore wouldn't have let the boy walk out of Hogwarts even if he managed to regain a body in a fashion that didn't include another being losing their life. It was comforting. In a way he would never admit to his friends. Comforting to have had for only a short time someone who understood. How could they relate, in all honesty? How? They didn't know what it was like to grow up with people who hated him. Feared him. Wishing yourself anywhere else. Hating them. Doing everything you could to get their attention and always being rejected. Then to find out to you were special and come to a magical world where even more labels were thrown at you. Where you were judged again. To be feared for something you couldn't help. Parseltongue wasn't something he went out searching for. He was born with it. It was a part of him and they hated and feared it and even though he knew it was prejudice from years and years ago it still stung. Harry couldn't cut it off to appease them. He could only pretend it wasn't there. That all the pieces of him they might not like weren't there at all.
The biggest different between him and Tom, Harry reflected, was that even Dumbledore believed Harry's pretending.
Now he was alone and he felt sorry for it.
Harry paused and looked over his shoulder. How on earth was he to get back out? The last time he'd had a conveniently present Phoenix. He couldn't exactly call for Fawkes when no one was to know he was there. A little late to think of that, wasn't it? Harry turned back with a growl and stomped up to the divider at the other end. He didn't care right now. He would figure it out later. With a quick hiss, the cylindrical wall uncurled and parted. Harry slipped through into a larger passage. At the end, it would lead to the main chamber housing the statue of Slytherin. From that very statue came the basilisk when Riddle called for it. He stopped there, green eyes sliding over the room. The Chamber of Secrets. That was plural you know. So what else might have been here? The snake guarded it surely and kept its self hidden away. There must be more. You would think so. Harry didn't get the chance to ask Riddle what with attempting to outrun his pet at the time. He grinned. Imagine the look on the sixteen-year-olds face if little Harry Potter started asking him things like that rather than run off from the snake screaming. Would the teenage dark lord have wondered if there was something wrong with him? Harry often did. If there was something wrong with himself.
Secrets. He was thinking about secrets.
Well if there wasn't anyone around to tell him he would just have top find them himself. Tom managed it. He figured out the right thing to say and Hell he found the damn place. Let's see if their similarities extended to abilities to find hidden things. Harry didn't think finding the room leading to the stone's obstacle course counted as he'd found it quite by accident.
He began exploring the chamber and the many smaller tunnels leading off of it in a mangled maze. Maybe if he was lucky he would find something to help him in this horrid tournament. He valiantly ignored that his luck usually came at a price. He needed something to even it out between him and the seventeen-year-olds. Maybe even something to win. His mind whirled about as the young wizard wandered throughout the chamber. Winning. He hadn't thought about winning it before this moment. Surviving it certainly. But winning. Well. If he had to be in it, he could at least give everyone a show while he was at it. He would find something. A potion. A spell. Something to help him. Harry should have been more studious. Learned more. He was in a magical world. If anything the homework was far more interesting than what he got in the muggle world. Though he could cast a Patronus if they chucked Dementors at them he thought viscously. He'd like to see the other competitors do that. Lupin told him even adult wizards had trouble with it.
He wiped his smugness away. That was a horrible thing to think. Still.
Why shouldn't I take advantage of my talents?
Harry combed every inch, every corner and crevice, every statue and carving and faded mural. They were examined, tapped, knocked upon and prodded with his wand. Harry took to randomly speaking in parseltongue hoping he might find a password by accident as he often did. The chamber was as a whole far more interesting than it was his previous visit. Ignoring the attempted murder. Statues and carvings intricately crafted were placed around, featuring unknown -to harry at least- wizards and creatures. A lot of them were etched with runes, Harry didn't recognize most of them only enough to know what they were. He didn't know enough to know if there was anything to it. Hermione would if he asked-
I can do this on my own. I'm not stupid.
Harry leaned against the nearest wall. The smell of brine was curiously lesser down here than at the tunnels opening in the washroom. Why was that? His fingers ran along the carving in the wall behind him, following the grooves. Moss grew along bits of it, soft in contrast to the smooth, hard stone they grew upon.
Riddle figured it out. And the little dark lord used a spoken password. The Marauder's Map the twins gave him used two of them, one to activated it and one to close. The tunnel open with a spoken password as well. Both of those passwords were different than the ones used to get into Gryffindor tower. The one used to get into the other houses were different. They required different things. You had to answer a riddle to get into Ravenclaw common room. Some sort of puzzle for Hufflepuff. Find the right bit of wall for Slytherin.
But the passwords for the chamber and the map. They were different even more so. You had to say exactly what you wanted. You were honest, weren't you? You wanted to do something you shouldn't thus the map revealed its self to you. You wanted the tunnel to open thus it did. A fixed word or phrase that did not change. There were a lot of possibilities now which made it at once both hopeful and more daunting a task. Harry blew out a breath in a hard puff. This may take a while.
It was a good thing he had all weekend. If he was gone everyone would think he was sulking, hiding from the attention or preparing.
All of those assumptions suited Harry.
"I'm looking for something."
"I want to know your secret..oh...reveal your secrets! Darn."
He went through many declarations. Some more creative than others. When he started to get bored Harry tried to do them in a way to entertain himself as well. He shouted some and whispered others. For some, he twirled on one led and for another, he sang it out. A tribute to Fluffy the Cerberus. Harry knocked on carvings while saying some of them and offered to give statues a good cleaning. Could you bribe inanimate objects? Finally, frustrated and agitated and filled up to the brim with dissatisfactions Harry shouted out; "I SEEK A BLOODY SECRET!"
To his complete and under disbelief it worked.
He should bottle his luck because it was ridiculous. This was usually the point the spiders turned on them or the professor was a werewolf and it was the full moon and he'd forgotten to take his potion... Well, nothing to do about that now. He would have to put a warning of side effects on the bottle. No one read them anyway so it wasn't his fault if things didn't turn out quite the way they imagined they might. It was magic. Of course, there was more to it than a simple explanation or... He was getting off course.
There just to the right of the statue of Slytherin, the entire wall shimmered, groaned and slid back. It revealed stairs carved into the stone. Narrow and inclined leading up nearly fifty feet to a small platform perhaps the width of his bed in the dorms. His luck was ridiculous he thought to himself once more. As long as he owned it that was what mattered. Almost without a conscious thought his feet began toward the stairs, his footsteps suddenly loud to his ears. Shoes smacking against the damp stone and splashing in the puddles. He stood at the base of the staircase, each stair maybe a foot in length and four inches in width across. He hesitated. This probably wasn't a good idea. If he had Ron and Hermione with him-
This is my adventure.
He placed one foot on the stairs after the other, climbing. Somewhere inside of him his inner Slytherin pieces that almost sorted him to the house warred with themselves. On one hand, this was incredibly reckless. On the other, he was exploring a part of the castle no one else had ever seen. The last person to climb these stairs could have been the founder himself or even Tom Riddle. Albus Dumbledore had never done this. Would never do it. Hermione couldn't have done it. She would never curse for one or go searching for something like this or speak parseltongue even if she was able. Ron's password would be honest if it were I SEEK GLORY than a secret. This was something all his own. And that was addicting. Things no one else had seen. Information no one else would know. Ambition won out to his inner Gryffindor's confused exultation as it'd been pouting in the corner. What was wrong with some adventure?
Harry really needed to stop thinking of himself as multiple people. That just couldn't be healthy in the grander scheme of things.
Right about then he made his first mistake. The fourteen-year-old looked down. Green eyes widened, a foot tripped, his body fell. He was sliding! Harry just managed to cling to the steps with his arms as his legs fell over the side and swung down and against the wall with a hard thud. He dangled. Harry breathed in and out and in. He swallowed, gave a nod and got a better grip.
"Alright, new rule Potter. Never look down." Unable to pull himself up Harry tried to visualize the entire thing as a sort of non-regulation set of monkey bars. He pushed himself back and used his hands to get from one step to the other. He used to do this all of the time. Surely he could do it again? Especially as he had no desire to test his ability to sustain a fall from thirty feet to hard rock flooring. Harry kept his eyes on the next step, getting a rhythm. This one. That one. This one. That one. Another five feet the stairs gave a shudder. He heard a small crash.
"Don't look. Don't look. Just keep going. It's probably not important." Crash. "Damn it all to Hell anyway." Harry looked.
The first few steps at the bottom were committing suicide. Breaking off and falling to the floor in crumbled heaps. It may have become unstable when he fell on it. Not bad though he could just jump the last eight feet. He still had this. It wasn't until he saw the cracks forming in the stairs closer to him he realized where this was going. Crash. Harry swore some more and shook himself out of his denial driven daze. Scrambling Harry looked around for something -anything- he could use to get back onto the staircase. He thought he could make it to the platform. Running was sort of his thing. Harry didn't know if the platform its self would hold if the rest of the staircase went down as it threatened to but he knew he didn't want to be hanging thirty feet from the ground when it finally decided.
His leg banged against something. Chancing it, he let himself hang a bit more and discovered a wall hanging for a torch. Harry tested his weight against it experimentally. It gave out an eerie grinding sound. He grimaced. It would have to do, wouldn't it? Holding his breath Harry put his feet against it and pushed himself up, pulling with his arms. He managed to get himself halfway back on the stairs.
A shudder. A boom. Dust rose into the air.
He glanced to the left warily. The entire lower portion was gone! Terror was an excellent motivator it turns out for Harry found himself clambering to his feet and running up the remaining stairs, skipping three or four at a time. Something he wouldn't have dared if his life wasn't in danger. "Oh God...oh God.." He almost slipped to his -probable- death at one point when he looked over his shoulder to see how much time he had. The answer was not a lot. Heart squeezing in his chest the teen wizard threw himself forward onto the platform as the rest of the staircase went crashing to the floor. The colliding echoes of booms was overwhelming. Harry curled into a ball, eyes shut and hands tight against his ears.
When the clamor ended an even louder silence rose in its place. Harry squinted his eyes open against the dust lingering in the air, to his lashes. He shoved himself to a sitting position, hand sliding in the dust on the stone. He was covered in dust. Harry pulled a sleeve over his hand and used it to wipe the dirt from his face. His glasses -which had fallen at some point and were cracked horribly- were shoved into a pocket to be fixed later. He took a moment to wonder how exactly he was going to get back down. Harry slumped against the wall.
He really, really needed to start thinking things through.
Wasn't that exciting, though?
There was a carving on the wall. Harry's fingers felt it. He scooted forward and turned around. It was a tree of some kind rising up the wall. It was probably taller than Harry if he had been standing. Its roots at the other end of the carving descended beyond the platform reaching toward the ground. Branches and leaves twisted around one another with words barely visible spiraling within the design. Harry traced the grooves of it with his fingertips as he'd done the ones on the walls below. He was no master of art or art's history. He knew it was an incredible bit of art none the less. Harry rubbed at some of the words willing them to make sense. Maybe he could come back with some parchment, lay it on the picture and run a pencil over it to get the design so he could look at in the library.
An uneven edge nicked his thumb, blood smearing across it. A rush of guilt flooded him. No one would see what he had done. He wished hadn't messed up the picture regardless. Harry shifted and rose onto his knees. With a sigh, he pulled down his sleeve over his hand once more. It was already dirty from the dust what harm was a little blood? He would have to think of a cover if he couldn't get himself cleaned before anyone saw him. Assuming he ever made it out of there. Harry looked up and froze, hand hovering in the air. His blood was soaking into the carving. It reminded him so strongly of the events leading to his first time in the chamber it gave him chills. As the blood hit the roots a flash of light sparked out. Golden wiry strings of light began lighting up the roots then traveling up into the branches.
Harry stood warily, backing up. He turned and forced himself to hold still. There wasn't a lot of room for alarmed movement up here. Harry watched the light rising through the trunk, into the branches, into the leaves and the words. It wasn't quite as ominous as a book writing back to you or sucking you inside of it to show you memories in order to manipulate you. Still. This was a bad idea. He knew it when the wall slid aside to reveal a narrow corridor. Harry ought to try to find a way to get someone to rescue him. Or to get out. He should leave and never come back. Or maybe come back with his friends. They wouldn't know what to do. Hermione would.
I don't need them. I can do this on my own. I don't need anybody.
In the end, he couldn't resist. This was a secret even Riddle had not seen. It gave him a rush. A place entirely his own that no one else would ever see, no one else would ever know. He didn't have to share it. The secrets within would be his own alone. Harry shoved his trepidation to walk forward into the unknown. It was dark. And longer that he'd thought, the light from the main chamber fading behind him. Harry kept one hand on the wall beside him to keep himself from getting lost. Eventually, the way ahead grew lighter and the corridor opened into a room that could contain several Great Halls.
What Harry would have noticed first -were he anyone else- was that the library went up several stories from the level he found himself standing on, and down several as well. Or that there was a huge hidden library beneath Hogwarts. What Harry did notice was the lack of dust. Everything was clean/ Not what a normal teenager may have focused on but as Harry grew up with Dursleys and knew a great deal about keep things clean he knew the work that went into maintaining something like this. With his added experience of the wizarding world's obsession with house elves, he came to an unsettling conclusion. Someone -or something- was down here. Or came down here often enough to keep it this way. Did the Hogwarts elves take care of it? If they did why didn't anyone know about it? Why wouldn't they have told them about the giant snake in the other part of the chamber because that was information that could have saved him from being labeled a future Dark lord by the rest of the student body? Why didn't they stop Ginny or try to help Harry when he was fleeing from the basilisk?
It was second year all over again. It put him on edge. Hated by the school. Awful rumours. In the bloody Chamber of Secrets in the dead of night. Seemingly innocent literature lying about. Speaking of which.
Harry stopped at the end of the level and looked around. There didn't seem to be a way to get to next level either up or down. There must be a way of course. There was always a way. Harry walked back the way he came looking for a pull-down ladder or maybe another carving he could feed his blood into. He blinked when he realized he could no longer locate the tunnel he came in through. The entrance seemed to have been sealed away or covered by the endless bookshelves. Well. This was the Chamber of Secrets, wasn't it? So where the Hell was the secret Slytherin method of getting down?
He glanced over the edges of the shelving looking for designs, carvings, pictures. A clue. Those grooves there. Harry flicked his eyes between them, then he wanted to smack himself in the head. Who ever heard of snakes that liked climbing anyway. Harry leaned around and stuck a foot into one of the grooves, then his other foot. His hands fastened to the grooves that were higher up. Carefully he used them to climb down. As he suspected the grooves took him to the next balcony below. The ladder or stairs were built into the bookcases. Creative. He continued until his shoes hit the ground floor. The experience was far less exciting than the stairs he used coming in for which he was thankful. Having so many books fall on him would probably kill him. Death by literature. Merlin how embarrassing. He wouldn't be able to face his parents in the afterlife if he died in such a way.
It was a different quiet down there. Pressing in on him from all sides. His footsteps were quiet without him intentionally making them so. His voice when he tried speaking -though he did do that quietly. He didn't want to alert anyone to his presence. It was all so muted and compressed.
Was it a spell?
Or his imagination maybe.
Paintings and statues were everywhere down there along with maps of lands he'd never heard of before and globes of various sizes and materials. There were smaller globes on a table Harry thought might be made from a seashell. He felt like he was breaking into an exclusive, expensive museum. His eyes flickered about as he walked noting there weren't as many books down here as there were in upper levels. In fact, there were things with words written on them that were neither books nor scrolls. A pile of tablets near him had words etched into the wax spread over their face. On the other table there lay a sort of accordion folded packet of parchment with ribbons threaded through it. Or it may have been really thin leather or something. He examined those in interest though he refrained from touching anything. Whoever or whatever was keeping this place up wouldn't appreciate an intruder smearing or damaging the objects kept within. They were all obviously well cared for. A brief image of a dragon guarding the 'treasure' room had him both grinning and being even more cautious.
It was the wizarding world and one never knew.
In the middle of the hall, where the floor had paintings and runes and words decorating it without much free space, a necklace or amulet was suspended in the air under a glass jar upon a podium. There wasn't anything placed near to it. Harry thought he heard...whispering. Was someone here? He took more steps toward the glass jar, glancing around him cautiously. The closer he came the more clearly he could hear whispers. It made his skin crawl. An alarm sounded in the back of his mind. He couldn't stop moving toward it. As if he must see it. Know what it was. The edge of the podium just under the jar as words similar to those etched in the tree carving. He still didn't know what they said. Harry tapped a fingernail against the glass. It chimed. The hairs on his arms pricked up.
He would have to look up the object. And those words. Maybe there was a scroll or book nearby with its history. Hopefully in English or Latin. Hermione would be drowning in jealousy at the information he had at his fingertips. She'd probably-
This was his secret.
Hermione would never see this place. She could sit and stew and wonder where he found the knowledge he had and Harry would never tell her. She didn't deserve to know. He was the one who wanted to save her from the troll. He was the reason she was alive. The reason Gryffindor tolerated her. It was him. How could she abandon that so easily? Ron wouldn't have gone after her and she would have died. But she cared for him, Harry reminded himself. Hermione cared for Ron. In that way. For whatever reason. And emotions clouded your judgment. He was being spiteful. And it would pass. For now, he let himself be upset.
Harry stood there letting the anger roll over and down and through him. Then he shoved it into a corner of his mind. He'd been doing so well at pretending everything was alright. He knew how she felt. He knew why she chose to go to Ron over him. He had just...expected her to be more understanding. To show him some support before running after Ron. Ron. Harry grew up in a cupboard and he had a higher sense of self-worth than the red head and that was unbelievable sad when you considered Harry thought his name was Freak until he was seven. His best mate's inferiority complex was tiresome. When would he grow up? And the rest of the student body as well. How could they live being so immature and petty all of the time? It had to be exhausting. Was this what normal teenagers were like? Was he the odd one here. The abnormality... They could at least direct it at someone else once in a while. Why did they care so much if he was the fourth champion? Why get so upset? Didn't they realize somewhere in there that he was only a fourth year? Boy-who-lived or not, unless they were going to shoot killing curses at him he was under-prepared and under skilled for such a challenge. It was highly unlikely he would win.
So why act like he kicked the Hufflepuff's puppies?
Idiotic. Flighty. Moronic...
"You shouldn't be down here you know." Harry about jumped out of his skin. He whirled around to see a man sitting in a chair as if he were holding court. With burgundy eyes and dark hair Harry almost mistook him for an older Tom Riddle come back to finish him. He could tell now that there were differences. In his twenties, dark hair stuck up around his hat though Harry suspected it was intentional as the overall effect was neater than his ever managed to be. The man wore red slacks and a long unbuttoned vest with golden thread. The yellow snake coiled around his left arm was what really made him stand out. That and the velvet top hat. Who wore velvet top hats?
"Who are you?" Harry asked.
After a beat, his stomach dropped. He'd slipped into parseltongue while staring at the snake. He was about to repeat himself in English, and feeling relieved the man hadn't noticed and freaked out when the man answered him. "I am the Keeper of the Archives." He said it grandly, giving him a mocking half-bow from where he remained seated.
That didn't mean much of anything to Harry. Hermione was the researcher, not him. Then again he was fairly certain he'd have heard of such a person before now if it were common knowledge. And Harry knew he would notice a man walking about in red silk. This must be who was keeping the place tidy. He certainly did a good job of it. Hang on...did he just speak parseltongue? "You can understand me?" Harry was a tad concerned how excited the prospect made him.
"I can. I understand many languages. However, I have spoken this one in particular since my birth. I know it very well. I imagine it must have been the same for you? I have yet to come across anyone who learned through a second party speak it as flawlessly as yourself."
Harry's cheeks flushed, lips widening into a smile. He found someone he could speak parseltongue with and they weren't a dark lord! If anything the man had the snake for conversation while he was down here. A librarian with a hat fetish. He could work with that.
"I have always been able to speak this way. I did not realize the name of it or even that I was speaking another language until a few years ago." The words flowed out of him. It sounded relieved even to himself. Someone who would understand. "I could never hear the difference between it and English. Even now I have to concentrate or I'll accidentally speak one when I mean to speak the other. I did it just now, I automatically assumed you speak English and I was terrified what you would do when I realized I spoke parseltongue instead."
The man's lip pulled upward. Boy? He seemed even younger now. Maybe Percy's age. "You really shouldn't be down here." He repeated. "And I can't help but wonder how you have managed to find yourself down here in the depths of the school all alone." Long fingers stroked his snake, gently unwinding it from his arm.
Harry hesitated. What would he say? He two friends -and wasn't that pathetic all on its own- weren't speaking to him because someone put his name in for a deadly tournament and the now the entire school hated him? Again. Yes, that would be a shining example of a good first impression. Wait why did he even care? Just because he was another parselmouth didn't mean he had to care if he liked him. Only he did. Damn it. Harry wanted to bang his head against a wall.
"Or maybe," the other wizard continued after the silence dragged on, "we could speak of other things. Your large clothing. How thin you are. The dark magic centered on your forehead beneath the rune carved there. Why you were so angry a moment ago..."
Harry averted his eyes, finding the man's -boy's?- gaze too knowing for his liking. "You don't know who I am then? You don't recognize me?"
"We've never met." With that, the Keeper of the Archives stood fluidly. He walked toward him, his strides long and slow and lazy. A soft smile on his face was inviting enough so Harry didn't understand the chills that curled up his spine when the young man circled behind him, leaving his line of sight. He thought of turning to see him and then refrained. He didn't want to let on how unnerved he was. How his heart sped up, his breaths stuttered when he drew near. It was just because he was here again. Because it was a stranger. That was all.
"They left you all on your own little snake speaker. I have to wonder why. Don't they...want you?" The Keeper's tone of voice shifted. Lower. Quieter. Sweeter. And something unknown that made Harry's skin crawl.
"My friends and I aren't really speaking right now."
The Keeper continued on to another lazy loop around him. "Are you sure that's what it is? Are you really angry at one another...or are they angry at you? Did one of them side with the other over you? Prefer him to you? Maybe they don't want you around. Perhaps it's all just an excuse to sever ties-"
"They do!" He snapped automatically. "Or at least Hermione does. Ron will...my friend will get over it. He's just jealous." Harry realized he probably shouldn't be naming names. He didn't know who this wizard spoke to when he wasn't down here creeping out teenagers. Harry wouldn't want his complaints getting around. That's the last thing he needed.
The Keeper shifted. "Jealous. Such a lovely word. Jealous..." The man/boy drawled. "His jealousy is enough for him to let you wander alone? To somewhere as dangerous as the Archives? How...irresponsible. Careless." He ran his fingers along Harry's too long shirt sleeves as he passed and Harry began to notice they were shrunk to fit his form. He tried valiantly not to blush. Most of the time he assumed everyone thought he wore baggy clothing on purpose as no one had ever called him out on it. It was hard to stay still. In the silence and quiet pressing down on him. The chime from the glass jar still just barely heard echoing through the outer areas of the massive hall. Part of him wanted to run. A louder part of him told him to stay still. If ran he'd be chased. So tried to hold himself still. Tried to keep his breathing even. To act like he didn't feel like he was being hunted.
"They don't know I'm here. He wouldn't have let me come at all if he knew. I left while he was upstairs. Everyone else is either having a party or ignoring me anyway." Why did he tell him no one knew he was here? Harry twisted the ends of his fitted sleeves, left loose at the ends and a bit long. Perhaps the other wizard noticed his habit? That was a lot of noticing. Too much. In too short a space of time.
The Keeper's steps slowed. He stopped in front of him. Red eyes looked him over for a moment, considering him, making opinions Harry wouldn't know. The wizard leaned closer. "You don't want them here. Either of them. You want to keep this place to yourself. You do not plan to tell them of your discovery."
"I deserve to have space to myself!" Harry burst out. His hands curled into fists. How the hell did this guy know any of this? Shivering Harry turned away intending to leave. He couldn't handle this right now. Emotions affected your ability to think logical. They affect your actions. He was letting himself get too emotional. He was too far out of his golden mask. Harry needed to get a grip. To go back to the dorms and go to sleep. Ron might have gotten over by the morning. Hermione would help Harry talk to him if the redhead hadn't.
He shouldn't be here.
"Leaving...so soon?" The Keeper twirled into his path, long vest swirling around him. The older boy rested hands on Harry's shoulder grinning. He twirled about again, behind Harry, resting a hand on both of his shoulders. "Why should you go running back to them? Why should you have to be the one to compromise little snake speaker? And why should you have to work to earn their favour, to regain it? Should they not apologize to you? Don't you...deserve it?" A hand stroked up and down his arm. "You didn't ask for any of this. I don't think they trust you. I think they underestimate you. Take you for granted."
Cool breaths caressed his ear. Harry shivered again. Violently. He knew this guy was doing something, wanted something. It was just so hard to focus in the quiet and the whispers, and the necklace was shiny and pretty to look at. The whispers. The whispers vibrated the bones in his skin. He couldn't think straight. Thoughts were so fuzzy.
"Yes, they should apologize." He heard himself say. "But they won't. If I let it go Ron will come around eventually and-"
"And then? You will pretend it never happened. He will be The Boy Who Lived's best friend again and you can walk around tense and ready for the next blow up. The next time he will leave you. Wondering if it will be for good this time."
Harry couldn't catch his breath. Something inside of him twisted as words he so often thought were spoken aloud. His fears laid bare. How could someone who only just met him see through him so completely? It wasn't fair. To spend so much time building up walls and painting on faces to please everyone. No one saw through them. Not even Dumbledore. They all saw what they wanted to see. But this wizard came in and broke through the walls like he hadn't seen them. And Harry let him. "He won't." Harry tried. "He won't leave again. This hasn't ever happened before." He thought he should leave.
"Oh but that's not true, love." Hands ran down his arms again. "Do you remember the look in his eyes when you received your father's cloak of invisibility? The way they glimmered when you first spoke to snake in front of him? This jealousy. These doubts. Have always been there. You know this is true my clever young wizard. Are you so desperate for companionship that you would submit yourself to a friendship that may be less than worthy?"
Harry wanted to scream. Or cry. Or break something. It would be so much easier if it wasn't the truth. If it wasn't his own secret opinions and just the murmurings of a stranger who didn't know any better. And he kept answering him. Why wasn't he leaving? Hadn't he been leaving? Harry was sure that was what he decided to do. He wanted to leave, didn't he? Go somewhere safe. Because he wasn't here. He knew he wasn't safe so why was he staying? Anyone else would run off and never look back. Harry wasn't stupid. He'd known the moment he saw The Keeper that coming down here was a mistake. Where were those Slytherin survival instincts? Too wrapped up in ambition and greed Harry feared. And far too aware that running would be fruitless. Oh, what had he done coming here?
"I've never had friends before. They like me for who I am. How can I give that up?" His voice cracked and he hated it.
"Did they like you before or after they knew who you were? Did Ron choose your carriage because there were none open or because he saw someone in worse clothing than himself? I bet the first thing he did was ask you to lift your fringe for him when he realized who you were." The Keeper didn't give Harry time to respond which was good as Harry's heart had shoved its self up into his throat. "I could be your friend. If you let me."
"Why would you do that?" Harry rasped. "What do you want from me?"
The un-age-define-able wizard lay his chin on the top of Harry's head. The hands on his arms pulling him back against his chest. The hands started their soothing motions once more. "I rather like you little snake. You are so small and sad. It's adorable."
A startled laugh broke out of Harry. What an odd thing to say.
"I could do more than be your friend. I can show you things. Things you've never seen. Things they wouldn't teach you. They would say you are too young or that you wouldn't understand. That you wouldn't be able to do them." The Keep spoke quicker. Excited. "I haven't had another to talk to, to teach, in so very long. You would let me, wouldn't you? And you could tell me everything I have missed in the world. I haven't had news in a while."
Harry's eyes looked down at the paintings on the floor, up to the books on the cases, around to the different objects kept within the room. Anything to distract himself from that voice, from those words. He had to keep himself grounded. His eyes locked on the necklace in the glass jar. Another mistake. "What, what sort of things?" He asked. Harry took an involuntary step toward it.
A delighted laugh. The Keeper darted around him. He clapped. "Oh, so many wonderful things! Where should I start? Would you like to know how to fly without a broom? I can teach you to sail the skies, speak to the stars, see the threads of Fate. I could even," The red-eyed wizard leaned very close, "teach you to bring the dead to life."
"You sound like my potions master," Murmured Harry. The glass jar was within touching distance now. It couldn't hurt to take a look at it, could it? Just a look. "He's as passionate about his potions as you are about your secrets." He should leave. Right now. He should turn away and go back. Why wasn't moving? His feet wouldn't listen. He knew he should leave but he wanted to stay. That alone sent the bells in the corners of his mind clanging. Danger! They shouted. Danger...
A beaming smile. "Passionate. I like that." Long fingers brushed Harry's bangs out of his face. "Would you like to learn some of my secrets Harry? I can do anything you wish. Any type of spell. All you must do is ask and your wish will be my command."
Something about that caught Harry's attention and he managed to drag his eyes away from the necklace, locking them on the other wizard instead. His feet still wouldn't listen. His heart wouldn't listen, intent on beating straight out of his chest. His lungs even couldn't seem to find the strength to draw in a proper breath. Breathe Harry. "How's that?" He voiced the question steady. Thank merlin.
The Keeper bounced on his feet. His hands flitting about as he spoke like he was conducting an orchestra, red silk flowing. "Power like this, like mine, is sealed away for a reason Harry. A very silly reason sometimes. They never wanted anyone else to learn of it. To have it. I thought everyone with the potential should be taught, pushed to the limits of their talents. I believed we had a responsibility to make certain the future magic users became more with each generation than the one before. Building upon a solid foundation left to them. To grow. I believed if we pushed hard enough, trained long enough, learned and researched...we would discover we were limitless. That magic was limitless. Masters of the Universe." A sound somewhere between a growl and purr came out of the boy. "They wanted to lord their own power over the magical beings of this world. They wouldn't say it in such a way but that is what it amounts to. They thought it would be fairer to lump everyone in together and give them all the same materials. They wanted to keep everyone on the same level so when someone managed to 'accidentally' break out of the shell it would be an anomaly and no one would feel inferior. In reality, I frightened them. Students would come to me. People traveled to see me, ask me questions. Scholars from all over the world. Me. The youngest of the lot. How it infuriated them. Out of control, they called me. Out of line. Well...they couldn't have anyone threatening their superiority could they?"
"And you threatened them." Harry guessed.
The Keeper flashed his teeth. "Indeed." His snake whom Harry had quite forgotten gave a hiss of laughter from the chair. It lay coiled there. Watching. "I have limited access to my powers within these walls as a result."
Harry chew his lip. "Why don't you leave then? It isn't right for them to keep you here. And you've been here long enough maybe they aren't watching you anymore. I bet you could come out." Where would the other boy go? A slight tremor of disappointment hit him. What if the other wizard left and he didn't get to see him anymore? Maybe he could convince him to stay nearby. In Hogsmeade or teach at the school if he liked it that much. Somewhere close...
Long fingers left his bangs, traced the sides of his face and then were pulled back. "Oh, I would love to come out." The Keeper breathed. "Therein lies the problem. I can only use my full magic for someone else's benefit. What's more I can only leave this place under the control of a master." He said the last bitterly.
Harry frowned. "They made you...their servant? That isn't fair. That's not right. Just because you wouldn't do what they wanted or be who they wanted you to be. That doesn't give them the right to force you to do whatever they wanted. They could have left. Or asked you to leave." The raven haired teen's mind raced. He felt a shocking amount of outrage on the other wizard's behalf. Maybe Harry could help? There was so much stuff down here, surely they could work together and find a counterspell of some sort and set the poor wizard free. No one deserved to be shoved out of sight because they were different and then brought back out when it was convenient for you. Tugged and tossed around according to their current popularity. A toy for the public. How dare anyone be any different than anyone else? Any different than what you want them to be? Who cares for their happiness as long as everyone fits into the black white boxes you made for them right? Ludicrous.
"How can I help?" Harry's mouth asked.
Burgundy eyes glittered. "If you were willing to take the title of the master I could leave this room with you. I could use my powers whenever you like for whatever purpose you like. I'd be able to teach you everything I know." His voice was soft and sweet again. Almost affectionate.
Whispers. What were they saying? He couldn't understand them. "Wouldn't people notice you walking about with me?" Harry asked vaguely, losing track of what they were talking about. His gaze locked on the necklace once more. He wanted to put it on. Maybe he should. Only for a moment. He just wanted to see it. To have a closer look.
The older boy was waving a hand in his peripheral vision. "I can take care of that. I can even make it so no one but you can see me if you like."
"Yeah...that might be best. Just for a little while."
"As long as you like my little snake speaker." The wizard stepped beside him, taking hold of Harry's wrist gently when he had reached out to move the glass jar. "Careful. You have to say the words first. We have to do this properly. I will submit to you. Teach everything you wish to know. Help you learn anything you need to learn. Do whatever you ask of me. Keep you safe. In exchange, you will take me out of here and tell me what I need to know about the world as it is now. Do we have a deal?"
"Yes...we have a...deal." Suddenly his hand was free.
Harry moved the jar aside. He grasped the chain of the necklace carefully. It was heavy and smooth, the medallion hanging on the end showed a snake wound about a half cut apple. A strange triangular symbol within it. Another circle... He pulled the chain over his head. The medallion landed with a thud against his chest. Silence loud and strong. Strength. Power. Energy. Something inside of him opening and pouring out, filling him. Too much. There was way too much of it. In his heart. In his arteries. In the veins of his arms and his legs and the sides of his neck. In his mind. Harry rocked on his feet as it slammed into him, waves of it crashing. The Keeper's power.
After a moment -when he found he could breathe and his hands had stopped shaking- Harry eyed the boy standing beside him. His mind was much clearer now. Questions piling up inside of it. "What's your name anyway? I can't just keep calling you The Keeper after all."
The wizard put his fingertips to Harry's chin, leaned down ad put his mouth to his ear. "They called me...Salazar."
Harry shook involuntarily. "Um, and these words here. What do they say?" He asked pointing at the words carved into the side of the podium. The same ones he'd seen in the tree etching. Harry looked up at the wizard and wished he hadn't. His breath left out of his lungs. Red eyes were staring at him. So intense. Focused. So close.
"...God save the Kings..."
Notes: Here we are. Whew Salazar is a guilty pleasure to write I'm not going to lie.
AN: Thoughts, Questions, Guesses, Comments, Theories and Limericks always welcome.
ANx2: What is the verdict? Would you like to see what happens next? Because I am so excited.
"Just one spark is all it takes I tried so hard but it all goes up in flames...just one chance is all it takes, can't change the past but I can work to change today...I can't get away from the fire that burns inside consuming, I can't breathe, the voices scream, the enemy takes over everything...this is the madness in me."