Chapter Twelve
An Echo of Silence

There were two beds at the far end of the Hospital Wing that were constantly surrounded by people. A body lay upon each bed, one male and the other female, both pale and unmoving.

Helga, who had been bitten by the Basilisk and should have died in the Chamber, continued to breathe. It was absolutely remarkable that she was alive, but it did not look good for her. The Basilisk venom was already beginning to seep through the bandages that the mediwitch had managed to wrap around the bleeding wound. The venom appeared deadly even to those who simply touched it, as evidenced by the burns that both Runako and Raven now sported on their arms.

Harry, on the other hand, had been labeled as a lost cause. With what had been identified as Godric Gryffindor's sword still embedded in his chest, he appeared dead- not breathing- yet his heart still beat. The mediwitch had declared that the magic of the sword was the only thing keeping Harry alive. The blade itself could not be removed, not only because they had all vehemently protested, but also because it simply refused to budge.

There was nothing that could be done for either of them. It was certainly shocking that both were still alive.

Professor Dumbledore, ever his meddling old self, had pulled each of them aside to question them about the events that had transpired in the Chamber. As much as most of them respected the man, they were not about to reveal everything to him. Because though the man had correctly surmised that it had been Tom to show them the entrance and to lead them into the Chamber, he did not need to know about the other things.

Like what the Horcrux had said, or about the Horcrux at all, and certainly not that the Horcrux had been a serpentine replica of Tom. Never mind that most of them didn't have the slightest clue as to what a Horcrux actually was.

He knew it was childish of him, but Tom couldn't help but inwardly gloat at the man's predicament. Dumbledore looked more and more frustrated after speaking to the others. He'd give up eventually, he'd have no choice in the matter. It wasn't as though he could force them to tell him the truth, though he probably knew they told him naught but lies.

Tom was startled out of his thoughts when someone elbowed him sharply on the side.

"You aren't eating," said Antonin uncaring.

With a sigh Tom shifted away from the boy's bony elbows. Antonin had a bad habit of hitting innocent bystanders with them.

"Leave him be, Dolohov," Walburga growled. She was sitting before them, her head down, not wanting to risk looking up and catching Tom's eye. He'd been in a volatile mood since that new transfer student and the Weasley girl Adonis fancied had been admitted to the Hospital Wing.

Antonin rolled his eyes. "You had better not be worrying about that-"

Tom reached under the table and grasped Antonin's thigh in a painful grip. "About what, Dolohov?"

The boy grunted and shifted away quickly. Ignoring Melin and Reeve's glares as he encroached on their personal space.

"Tom!" Walburga hissed, she remembered too late not to look him in the eye and had to cringe back at the anger she saw in them. He raised an eyebrow at her. "We are your friends."

The boy continued to stare at her unerringly. "Friends, Walburga, are for Gryffindors. Remember your place."

"I agree," mumbled Adonis, his already pale face looking even paler under the lights of the Great Hall. "But Gryffindors can have Slytherin friends."

"That makes no sense," stated Orion Black, after a moment of confused silence. His beautifully elfin face twisted into a deceptively sweet smile as he looked at his eldest brother from beneath his eyelashes. "Perhaps you need sleep, brother."

Adonis eyed his plate blankly. "It made sense to me."

The others were silent as they avoided looking at him. Not only were they embarrassed by his disheveled appearance, they also felt very out of depth and awkward in the face of his... emotions.

Tom subconsciously agreed though. Gryffindors had the very awful habit of making friends, even with Slytherins. Before Harry had come along to throw everything out of balance, it had been something that he had desperately detested.

Somehow, Harry was different. Tom had known from the moment he had first gazed into those impossibly green eyes that Harry was going to change things. Harry, who did not belong to one house but all of them, yet was so obviously owned by the Gryffindors. He managed to befriend Slytherins regardless, with an ease and charisma that he didn't even know he possessed.

It was no shock that he even managed to charm and befriend Adonis and Helga, with their aloofness even to other Slytherins. Tom, himself, could never manage to get along with Adonis, who often acted too much like a Gryffindor.

Harry's mere presence sent ripples throughout Slytherin House, throwing them all off balance, and if there was one thing Slytherins didn't like; it was instability. There was an order to how things were run in Slytherin House and an outsider simply appearing and disappearing as he wished was not welcome.

Rudo had never been one to let others dictate how he'd live his life, especially not a group of snobby teenagers who were certainly far beneath him. Antonin and Walburga's plan of separating Rudo from Tom had worked, but not in their favor. Rudo never even bothered to pretend to follow the "rules", but he was still well-respected among the Slytherins. He was the epitome of Slytherin pride. He was rich, handsome, intelligent, and athletic. He wasn't overeager like Adonis, preferring to remain calm and collected, though he did have a very odd sense of humor.

In the end, Rudo didn't lose anything from separating himself from Tom's "group". He would have been upset if he had lost his friends, but it wasn't as though he couldn't make more. Indeed, it had been amusing to see the Slytherins so off balance, especially when Helga and Adonis remained with him.

Tom was intelligent enough to know that alienating the two would make things worse, so Rudo had been pardoned. As if he'd needed their pardon in the first place. No, Rudo knew, he knew Tom wanted to know more about Harry. Like all things he couldn't comprehend, Tom needed to either destroy the problem or research it until he knew everything about it. Tom wouldn't harm Harry, of that much Rudo was certain. He had seen the furious expression on Tom's face the day Harry had dislocated his nose. That anger was not for Harry, it had been directed at Walburga, and she knew it too if her behavior was anything to go by.

Things within Slytherin House were changing. It was so obvious that even Runako, who wouldn't notice if his pants were on fire, had noticed. That had been nice, too. Runako had been painfully adorable in his shy concern for Rudo, masking his concern with anger at his behavior towards Rayn.

It was more obvious now, though. With the way Tom's eyes glazed as he stared off into space, ignoring the many attempts by the other Slytherins to speak with him. Antonin's passive aggressive anger at his behavior showing in the glares he furtively threw at him.

Odd, though.

Rudo had chosen to seat himself by Adonis, who was obviously distraught, to offer some form of comradery because he was awful at offering sympathy. Reeve had followed, then Melin who had become constantly attached to Reeve as of late. As usual, Cordelia had chosen to sit with them rather than her ever gossiping circle of friends. Also because she wanted to offer her own form of sympathy, being Helga's best friend.

Tom had chosen to sit on Adonis' other side, though that had been the arrangement for a while before Harry came. Orion had ditched his obsessive little stalker- cousin- in order to squeeze between Rudo and Adonis. The boy was creepy, but he deeply adored his eldest brother, as much as he detested Runako.

To Rudo's disgust, Walburga and Antonin had decided to intrude on the moment, Antonin had pushed Reeve and Melin further down the table and taken their place beside Tom. While Walburga had sat next to Cordelia on the other side of the table, ignoring the dark skinned girl's glare.

Instead of offering comfort to the grieving Adonis, Rudo had spent the time sending angry vibes down the table at Antonin, who reciprocated.

The whole affair had been awkward and intensely nerve wrecking for everyone in the close vicinity.

"That was uncomfortable," Rudo mumbled, once dinner was over. He was accompanying Adonis to the Hospital Wing, where the older boy spent most of his time nowadays. " Don, perhaps you should get some sleep. We really don't need you passing out from exhaustion at this point."

"I'll rest later," said Adonis quietly, none of his usual vigor showing. He was truly a depressing sight. "I just want to see how she is."

Rudo pursed his lips and said nothing. There was nothing he could say. Never mind that he had acted pretty much the same way when Runako had had his panic attack.


Harry's rooms were disturbingly quiet when Tom entered. The room had remained unmoving and unhelpful, none of the usual magic showing. Vincent had been grateful that the room wasn't throwing books at them, at least.

But it was not a peaceful silence at all. Harry echoed in the room. Harry standing at the window, watching Quidditch practice from afar. Harry sitting in his armchair, a book on his lap and a bar of chocolate in his mouth. Harry laying on the floor with paper frogs hopping about him.

Tom closed his eyes and took a deep breath, willing the images away. A strange clicking sound startled him and he quickly withdrew his wand, tensing when a small shadowy form scurried out from under Harry's armchair. The Acromantula stared at him with its beady little eyes, as though it recognized him. Tom didn't put away his wand, but relaxed his stance.

The Acromantula, whose name he couldn't remember, made a few questioning clicking noises at him. Tom was understandably shocked when the thing spoke, it was garbled but unmistakable. "Harry?"

"Er," Tom blinked at it, resisting the urge to reach up and rub at his eyes like an idiot. "Harry is in the Hospital Wing."

The Acromantula continued to stare at him and Tom could almost feel the confusion pouring out of it. It then scurried across the room quickly, chanting "Harry" over and over again. Tom almost felt sorry for it.

He ignored it in favor of doing what he came to do. He had hoped the magical library would help him search for what a Horcrux was, but he couldn't do that now.

He didn't know why he attempted to be silent as he entered the bedroom, almost afraid to disturb the quietness of the rooms. The bedroom was a mess. The blankets were on the floor, the bedside table had been overturned, and there were papers about everywhere. He'd have thought it was just Harry's nature to be messy, if he hadn't been in the bedroom before.

He wasn't sure what he was looking for, if anything at all. Perhaps he just needed to check for himself. At times he still felt as though everything that had happened had been a dream, that Harry and Helga were all right.

It was unbelievable. He had planned, since he had found the entrance to the Chamber he had planned. He had spoken to the Basilisk, planned to use the Basilisk, and in the end he had killed it himself. He didn't regret killing it, no. It was hard to feel sorry or to regret its loss in the face of the attack on Harry. Strange how much Harry mattered, how much his presence changed things.

Something white caught his eye and he approached the desk. He gently picked up the pieces of the card he had made for Harry. His lip thinned and he shifted uncomfortably, resisting the urge to rub at his chest where he had felt a strange stab of pain. He muttered a quick "reparo!" and grabbed a stray quill. He paused, his hand hovering over the inside of the card, poised to write. But what could he say? Would Harry ever wake up again? Would he read whatever message Tom wrote in the card?

He wanted to write, though. He wanted Harry to know. I want to protect you. Want to know everything about you. You confuse me, intrigue me, drive me mad. You're the only one who truly sees me. You are only mine.

The quill remained unmoving and he finally dropped it. Dropping himself into the desk chair and burying his face in his trembling hands.

When Harry had first appeared, Tom had felt an odd connection to him. It had led him to continuously try to lash out against Harry, wanting so badly to sever that connection, whatever it was. Of course nothing worked. So he had decided to try and befriend him, draw him in, learn all his secrets. That didn't work either. Harry was stubborn.

The connection was no longer there. It had vanished- snapped- the moment Harry had plunged that sword through his own chest. It had hurt. It was as though he had lost a part of himself. He wanted that part back. He wanted Harry back.

"Harry?"

Tom was startled out of his thoughts as something began pulling at his pant legs. It was the Acromantula, its beady little eyes staring at Tom again.

"What is it?" he asked stupidly.

"Harry!" it chirped, doing a small hop and pulling at his pants again. "Harry!"

With a groan Tom stood, hesitating before bending to pick up the creature, holding it at arms length. It wiggled in the air, making a sharp whining noise that continued until Tom realized it was crying.

"All right! All right!" he cried desperately, holding it against his chest and patting it awkwardly on the back. "I suppose you want to go see Harry."

"Do you do this often?" a soft voice asked.

Tom's gaze snapped up and he froze upon recognizing Adonis standing in the doorway. The older teen was leaning against the doorway, an amused glint in his eyes that had been absent since seeing Helga's state.

The Acromantula wriggled insistently in Tom's grip. "Ooon!" With one last wriggle, it managed to free itself from Tom's arms and jumped, landing in a heap on the floor. It quickly shook itself not unlike a dog and made a dash for Adonis, who bent down to gather it into his arms.

"Looks like you made a new friend, Aragog," Adonis said softly.

"Friend!" the creature chirped. "Harry!"

Adonis chuckled. "Yes, let's go see Harry." He didn't say anything else to Tom, instead turning about and leaving the boy standing in the middle of the room.

Tom sighed, running a shaky hand through his hair. There was nothing to do but accompany Adonis and Aragog to the Hospital Wing, it wasn't as though he wouldn't end up there eventually anyway. They all did.

He froze momentarily. An unusual sensation washing over him. Unusual but familiar.

"Harry?"


Aragog was happy. It was easy to tell with the wiggling feet and the random chirping, like a baby bird.

Adonis was not happy. But that did not matter at the moment. Aragog had been alone, forgotten, until Adonis had finally remembered him. Harry would certainly not be happy if anything happened to Aragog.

"Oon!" Aragog chirped, gazing at him with his shiny dark little eyes.

"We have to be quiet, all right?" Adonis said quietly. He had waited until only Leoned and Vincent remained in the Hospital Wing. Unsure if anyone else knew about Aragog.

"Shh," Aragog hissed quietly.

It brought a smile to Adonis' face.

Leoned smiled at them as they joined him by Harry's bedside, Vincent asleep in the chair beside him. He looked a little green and had evidently been crying again. Not that Adonis blamed him, particularly if one considered his condition and everything he'd been through. Adonis knew Leoned blamed himself, the Basilisk had aimed for him, after all. And though Adonis was angry that Helga had decided to throw away her life to save Leoned, he didn't blame her either. Helga had more Gryffindor in her than she realized.

Adonis was careful as he placed Aragog on the bed beside the boy's unmoving form. The Acromantula made questioning clicking noises at Gryffindor's sword before ignoring it in favor of snuggling against Harry's side.

They allowed him to doze off. It would be a while before the others made their way to the Hospital Wing again.

The peace didn't last long before Tom was barging into the room, out of breath and looking around in a panic.

"Riddle?" Vincent wondered dazedly, having been woken by the sound of the doors being slammed open.

"Tom?" said Leoned, shocked at the boy's unusual behavior.

"Harry," Tom managed to gasp.

Aragog abruptly jumped up and off the bed, clicking furiously as he sped across the room to hide underneath another bed. Just as Harry gave a sudden gasp and the bed beneath him burst into flames.

"HARRY!" they all cried simultaneously. Leoned attempted an "aguamenti" but it failed to even touch the raging fire.

There was a low whistling sound before the bed beneath Helga suddenly erupted into flames as well. Vincent pulled Leoned back quickly, wide eyes staring at the fire before them.

The two fires suddenly connected in the middle of the room, swirling about in a strange dance.

"Is that-?" Vincent gasped.

"It's a phoenix," breathed Leo.


.


As a special gift, here's a little bonus side story.


A Tale of Two Brothers

Vincent Potter remembered when he saw Leoned for the first time. That small, willowy boy with the ferocious red hair, the large amethyst eyes, and the determined gait.

The red head had stood next to a dark haired, gray eyed boy who was obviously a Black. Both were waving at Adonis, which was the reason he'd noticed them in the first place.

When the red head's name was finally called, he walked up those steps in an oddly elegant way. His back straight, his head held high, and when he sat... It was something about the way he held himself that drew the eye.

That he was sorted into Gryffindor was no shock. The shock had been Runako Black, Adonis' little brother, being sorted into Gryffindor. Though Leoned seemed distant and untouchable, like a beautiful porcelain doll, he was actually a very sweet person. He was also quite brilliant and learned new things frighteningly quick.

Vincent couldn't deny that he had felt unusually intimidated by the younger boy. They didn't interact much except for the odd moments when they ran into each other, seeing how they were both in different years.

That summer he was invited to spend a weekend at Adonis' home for his birthday. Though the two of them often fought over things and became even more competitive at Hogwarts, they still remained somewhat friends. It was hard not to be friends with Adonis, in reality he was much too charming to hate and he knew it well. It was very frustrating sometimes.

Leoned was Adonis and Runako's cousin and had been invited as well. Along with a sly boy named Romulus and more of Adonis' friends, whose names he never bothered to remember.

It was his first proper meeting with Leoned, without one or both of them rushing off in the opposite direction. Though Leo only rushed because he worried he'd be late. Vincent rushed because it was very awkward being around the red head for extended periods of time, and also because it was embarrassing how much he stammered in his presence.

When he wasn't being so intense, Leoned was surprisingly easy to get along with. He was good looking, smart, witty, and easy going. He knew all of Adonis' friends by name and seemed to get along quite well with them. It wasn't very surprising though, Leoned's mother- though disowned- was still a Black, and Blacks tended to congregate in groups with other well known Pureblood families.

The Potters, on the other hand, though Purebloods, had never been interested in such things. So neither was he. As such he wasn't well acquainted with other Pureblood families, though he knew who they were.

After that summer the two of them grew close and began keeping in contact throughout the summer. They had much in common; love of Quidditch, love of chocolate, and- strangely enough- love of books.

His parents constantly teased him about having a "little girlfriend" and often asked him to invite her over so they could meet her. He never did and not only because Leoned wasn't a girl.

The truth was, he wanted to keep Leoned to himself for as long as he could.

They had their first kiss during Vincent's fifth year. The next year they began making plans for their future, already knowing that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

It was in December of 1942, Leoned's sixth year and Vincent's seventh when many things began to change. Leoned was pregnant.

It was so mind boggling and sudden. Most definitely sudden. Too sudden.

Even so it was exhilarating and, once he got over the shock, it was wonderful.

Until he decided to tell his parents and finally introduce Leoned to them.

"So what happened?" asked Harry, eyes wide and shining in anticipation.

Vincent smiled, it was amusing how much Harry resembled Leoned.

"Well, they told us the truth," continued Vincent after a heavy sigh. "Leoned was the product of Father's affair with Leoned's mother. Not long after I was born."

Harry's eyes grew impossibly wide, unable to believe just how terribly messed up his family was.

"Not that it mattered. Not only because Leo was already pregnant," Vincent smiled, as he always did when thinking about Leo and his condition. "But I wasn't going to leave him. Never will."

Harry blinked at him. "Why does Leo go by Potter then? And everyone knows him as your brother..."

"Oh, Father thought claiming Leo as his own publicly would tear us apart."

"It didn't."

"No, it did not. Many Pureblood families marry within the family, especially the Blacks. So no one was very shocked."

Harry was confused. "But Leo said there was a scandal."

"Well, there were two scandals. The first being that Father had an affair, which is not looked upon kindly by Pureblood families. The second being pregnancy outside of marriage, but that was mostly overlooked."

"Overlooked how?"

"Well, Leo was pregnant. Leo is male-"

"So men getting pregnant isn't common?" demanded Harry.

Vincent scratched the back of his head. From the bathroom there was the sound of the toilet being flushed and then running water. "You're better off reading about the subject. But Harry, you're not even comfortable with your own preferences. So don't even worry about it."

Harry blushed hotly.

The two of them turned as Leo finally exited the bathroom, no longer green in the face though he was now abnormally pale. He froze upon catching sight of Vincent and threw a look at Harry, who stared back with wide eyes.

Vincent took the opportunity to step forward and pull Leo towards the fireplace. Being sure to keep a tight arm about Leo's waist, ignoring the red head's long suffering expression. Even ignoring Harry's shout of joy when they finally stepped through the floo.

He couldn't hold back the chuckle though. It really was amusing how alike Leo and Harry were.