Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets: Take Two
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize (unless it's something you recognize that I created in another story!). I intend no disrespect to any religion that is alluded to in the following chapter; it simply fit well in the context of Severus' thoughts. I also apologize if I get a certain musical number indefinitely stuck in anyone's head. ;)
I apologize with utmost sincerity for taking all year to update. I've been doing a lot of writing, just not for fan fiction. Next semester is my final semester of graduate school – but I hear there's a paper or two due every three weeks, which makes writing for fun between mid-January and mid-May seem highly improbable. After that, I hope to study for and pass the Certified Fraud Examiner's exam. Then, I just hope to be working, and any future going to school plans (i.e. a Doctorate or a JD, or both) will be awhile in the future, I imagine.
I know that well over two-hundred people have this story on alert, and it would fill me with joy to see a lot of reviews come in for this chapter. I've gone back and fixed things in past chapters from things people have pointed out in the past, so I definitely read what you tell me, even if I can't get back to everyone.
Professor Snape simply stared at Harry, his wand dangling loosely in his fingers. The non-Slytherin students divided their attention between Harry and the Professor-who-never-lost-his-cool-until-now.
"What precisely did you tell the snake, Mr. Potter?"
Harry looked at his Head of House oddly, his brow puckered. "I told her not to hurt anyone, and that I would take care of her. She wasn't really going to bite anyone though, she was just scared and, well, a little nauseated from being flung into the air!" He paused a moment as a few students chuckled nervously. "Why do you ask, sir? I was speaking loud enough for you to hear me."
"Yes, Mr. Potter, but you were not speaking English."
"Oh, alright the--- I wasn't speaking English? Again?"
Several students looked up in alarm at this. Harry already knew he spoke the evil language of snakes?
Severus sighed. He feared Harry would suffer at the hands of his classmates for this revelation. Albus, for reasons known only to him, had chosen not to completely enlighten Harry on what being a Parselmouth would mean to those who grew up with parents fearful of the Dark Lord. He knew all too well what discriminations some students would have, borne of their parents fear, instilled unerringly in their offspring, to loathe all things related to the Serpent. Especially those raised on that ridiculous story about men and women and an apple, of all the silly ideas! As if a Serpent would whisper naughty instructions to the average person; unless it was Nagini. But no, Severus decided, she would just eat them instead.
Severus tightened his grip on his wand as his eyes flickered over the mass of students; many of which were now eyeing Harry as if he were a dangerous threat to them. He sighed internally, but gave no outward sign of his discomfort.
"Perhaps, Mr. Potter, we can discuss this at length in my office and then later with the Headmaster?"
Harry, realizing how many students were appraising him, nodded his agreement. Stepping down off the duelling stage, the closest students nervously backed away. Harry frowned. He had protected his classmates and this was the thanks he got?
Before he could become too discouraged, his group of friends surrounded him, and with a surreptitious look to Professor Snape, Ron and Draco began extolling the virtues of Harry's magical language gift.
Severus breathed a bit easier, but still announced a warning. "Any students found discriminating against Mr. Potter for his ability to speak to snakes, when it is likely that few of you have any understanding of Parselmouths, shall find a dramatic dearth of gems in your House's points glass. Any questions?"
The silence was deafening, and, after a moment, Snape dismissed the duelling club.
The seven friends agreed to meet in the library the next afternoon. When they all gathered, Hermione announced that she and Ron had a better place for them to meet that would be more secure than the library. After all, they didn't want the less friendly Slytherins – or any other Houses for that matter – eavesdropping.
"Not that I'd worry too much about Bulstrode," Pansy muttered, "as her reading skills are on par of a primary student, it's unlikely she'd set foot inside this library."
Hermione's lips twitched. "Even so. Follow me!"
When they approached the blank wall she and Ron had followed Ginny to, she held up a hand to stop the group, and then began to pace. Ron shushed those who tried to question Hermione's behaviour.
Sooner than later, a door appeared out of the stone, and Hermione quickly ushered them all inside; the door dissolved behind them.
Draco smirked. "You would be the one to find this room, Hermione!"
She gave a quick bow. "Thank you, thank you very much!"
Ron poked her.
"Okay, to be honest, I didn't find it. Ron's sister Ginny showed it to us the other day. She'd like to join our ... study sessions."
Neville frowned slightly. "What is this place?"
"It's the Room of Requirement. You pace in front of the wall and think about what you really need, and eventually the door shows up. It disappears once everyone is inside, so unwelcome guests can't get in. It's very clever. As far as I know, it's been here since the time of the Founders."
"Do you think we could use it to find out who the Heir of Slytherin is?" Ron wondered.
"Well, we can't ask it," said Draco, "but it might be able to provide the books we'd need to find out."
"No offense, Draco, but I have to ask. Are you the Heir?"
He looked intently at Hermione for a moment, but saw no malice in her brown eyes. He thought about her question, but finally shook head in negation. "My father would have bandied that about in all his high mucky muck pandering by now, I am quite sure," he replied. "Besides, I promise you I haven't been writing weird messages in the hallway with pseudo-blood!" He laughed at this, and soon the rest of the room joined in."
"I actually don't think anyone in Slytherin is the Heir," remarked Blaise. "We may be a quiet group outside the walls of our dungeons, but inside there is plenty of ego-touting going on. If anyone down there was the culprit, we'd have heard about it by now.
"Unfortunately outside of Slytherin, and you guys," Harry said despondently, motioning to Ron, Hermione, and Neville, "Hogwarts thinks it's I."
"We can try to pass it around subtly that it's not you, Harry," Hermione said earnestly, not wanting to see her friend in pain.
"Thanks. I don't know how much good it will do though, since we don't know who the real Heir is to counter their beliefs."
It was silent for a moment, and then Ron spoke. "Ginny wants to join our group," he murmured, returning to Hermione's earlier comment. "She mentioned it when Hermione and I went to check on her the other day. She's actually how we learned about getting in this room. I don't think she thinks anything weird about you, Harry. She'd really like more friends; she really just has Luna Lovegood. Said the Ravenclaws are rather uppity and they only have each other to pal around with."
Neville, Draco, Blaise, Pansy and Harry looked at one another. Harry shrugged.
"It's fine with us. If it's fine with Neville, bring her along the next time," said Blaise, speaking for his fellow Slytherins.
Neville nodded. "I've only met your sister the one time but she seemed like a sweet kid. It's fine with me!"
Ron smiled. "She'll be glad to hear that. I'll tell her tonight before we eat."
That evening, the seven returned to their new hideout and found Ginny waiting for them, along with Luna Lovegood.
"She really wanted to come with me," murmured Ginny to Ron's questioning gaze. "It's alright, isn't it?"
The seven friends looked at each other. "It can't be a bad thing to have two Ravenclaws," Pansy finally replied. "They're really smart… No offense to any of us, of course."
Ginny smiled and Luna offered a look of, well, no one was really sure how to characterize any of Luna's facial expressions. 'Dreamy' seemed to be her main expression; she certainly did not have thirty-six expressions from 'tough as pie' to 'sweet as leather', Ron thought to himself. Or was it 'sweet as pie' and 'tough as leather' – the latter certainly made more sense, although Ron found the entire musical he'd heard his Dad listening to altogether peculiar, and not particularly 'funny' as the title suggested, although it was at least about a girl.
By this point, Hermione had retrieved the door from wherever it hid itself when no one was around, and ushered them all inside.
After they were all settled, enjoying refreshments they discovered the room was happy to provide, Hermione called the meeting to order. "The first issue we need to discuss is Harry's ability to speak to snakes," she announced. "We also need to find out who the real Heir is so Harry doesn't end up ostracized by students who don't know Harry like we do."
Harry blushed a bit at this sentiment of caring, but nodded, his movements a bit jerky as if he didn't quite know how to respond to the warmth in Hermione's voice.
Draco smiled – a real smile, not a smirk – which Ginny found endearing on the older boy's face. It's too bad he couldn't let his guard down all the time; the youngest Weasley was learning more and more why Ron had accepted someone as a friend who came from a family who had looked down so strongly on hers for so many years. Draco truly was different. She hoped his Father wouldn't become the wiser until Draco was old enough to stand up to him.
Ginny spoke up, her voice a bit timid, "Is there anything that Luna and I can do to help?"
Draco shrugged. "We don't honestly know precisely what to do yet. It would probably help to get Professor Snape's opinion. I think he knows something he's not telling us, although, I'm not positive about that. The biggest problem right now is that quite a number of students heard Harry speaking to a snake in the duelling club today, and now they think Harry is the one who petrified Mrs. Norris and wrote that creepy message on the wall."
Ginny frowned. "What message?"
"Oh, that's right, you'd been sent back to your dormitory by then," said Pansy. "We had to stay behind, and when the Headmaster cast a spell to cease the flooding, these words appeared in what looked like blood, up on the wall. It said the 'Chamber of Secrets had been opened'. The rest of it was a bit smudged, as if the person who wrote it left in a hurry, but seems to state 'Enemies of the Heir, Beware, beware, beware'. Quite a mystery, if you ask me. Although we do at least know where the Chamber is."
"That's an odd message, don't you think, Luna?" Ginny asked her friend seriously. Luna nodded, but her eyes were looking off in the distance, and Hermione thought she saw a hint of fear in them.
"Albus, I don't know what harebrained scheme you're operating under, but you simply must let Harry know why the students are regarding him with so much fear after the duelling session today. It isn't right that we keep such grave information from the child."
Albus steepled his fingers and looked searchingly at his Potions Master. "Perhaps you are right, Severus, but I do not believe that this is the time. Harry is a boy; let him have the childhood—"
"His chance at a happy childhood ended when you left him with those despicable Muggles," Minerva said, chiming in for the first time. "Thank goodness Harry already found friends outside of Slytherin before this event happened today. But they are a small group; a few Slytherins, a few Gryffindors, and from what I observed earlier, two Ravenclaws as well. That is not enough, however, when the rest of the school sees a young child as something to be feared! We both know how well that turned out the last time."
"Harry is not Tom, Minerva."
"Harry was orphaned, left with people who hated him, who feared him, who tried to beat the magic out of him. He knew nothing about magic until Severus visited with him shortly before his first term began. He may have made a few friends, but the majority of the student body currently sees him as a threat. How do you know history will not repeat itself?!"
Severus smirked. Not that he denied the truth of what his colleague had to say, but it was wholly refreshing to see the Head of the Lions get so up-in-arms over one of his Snakes. Given, of course, that she had believed with all her heart that Harry would be one of her Lions, but no matter. The boy needed all the protection he could get.
Except for the kind the Headmaster provided.
Back in the Room of Requirement, the students had moved on to talk about school in general, putting their discussion of the Heir off until the Slytherins among them could talk privately with their Head of House.
Harry lounged in a reclining chair, pumpkin pasty in hand, when a memory surfaced. "Draco, what is up with your house elf named Dobby?"
As Harry tried to figure out how Draco's answer was at all related to his question, when Draco popped up from where had had been nearly asleep on a nearby sofa. "Sorry, what was that?"
"I asked what was up with Dobby."
"Oh, I thought you asked if I had a house elf named Dobby, but then I realized that of course you knew that, since I sent him to … what did he do?" Draco cringed a bit. Dobby had helped raise him, and he held the elf with a certain fondness, but he also knew the elf had ideas of his own that weren't always … the best.
"Well, he brought me my mail and such, which was a huge relief. But then he told me had a warning for me – and that was that I was to not go back to Hogwarts but he didn't say why. I refused, of course, this is my home... and so he ran out of my room, and dropped a dessert on one of my uncle's guests. A howler followed, so now they know I can't do magic during the summer … and I got padlocked in my room for the rest of the evening."
"Your uncle padlocked you into your room?!"
Harry smiled sheepishly at Pansy. "Well, they don't much like magic."
"Humph," snorted Pansy.
Neville smiled, despite the gravity of Harry's story, it was delightful to watch the Slytherins behaving like regular kids.
Draco sighed. "That's Dobby alright. I'm really sorry about that. He raised me though, so I generally trust him. I have no idea why he would send a warning though."
"Do you think it's about this Heir of Slytherin thing," asked Ron curiously. "I mean, no offense Draco, but it seems like something your Father may be involved in."
Draco shrugged. "I can't take much offense at the truth Ron. If we were in public, however, I might have to act thus."
Ron nodded. He understood.
"It is quite possible that Dobby overheard my Father say something which Dobby interpreted as a risk to Harry. It is quite possible that it is related to—"
He glanced at Ginny who was watching Luna nervously out of the corner of her eye.
"—dark artefacts possibly being in the castle. Father has access to quite a number of possessions that once belonged to "The Dark Lord". It is quite possible that he is distributing them to unsuspecting students just to get them off our property, or, he knows something about "The Dark Lord" that no one else does, and he's preparing for something terrible."
"Like Voldemort coming back to life?" whispered Harry nervously.
"Precisely that, Harry. Precisely that," replied Draco, with the saddest look Harry had ever seen in his friend's eyes.
I don't ask for reviews on a regular basis, but I'm going to ask now. Again, I apologize with great, huge apologies, and flowers, and all that, for taking all year to update. *cries* Graduate school has kept me really busy. Then any free time I thought I would have between spring and summer terms were eaten up by having and recovering from surgery. And there simply wasn't much time between summer and fall. Now I have about a month off, but am headed out to Arizona on December 18, to see my friend (and fellow fanfic writer, PinkCorsair)! I will be taking HP Book 2 with me, and if I can get any writing time in while I am gone, I will certainly do so!