For a moment there was silence as Harry, Ron, Yugi, Joey, Ombre and Lockheart stood in the doorway, covered in muck and slime and (in Harry's case) blood. Then there was a scream.
It was Mrs Weasley, who'd been sat next to the fire. She and her husband leapt to their feet and flung themselves on their daughter. Yugi however, was looking past them, to Professor McGonagall, and… Professor Dumbledore. Fawkes whooshed past Ombre, who was still sulking because Yugi hadn't let her send Lockheart to the Shadow Realm, and settled on Dumbledore's shoulder.
Yugi smiled as Harry was caught up in Mrs Weasley's embrace, but wasn't prepared for her to swoop on him next. The woman swooped on all of them, causing them all to blush. "You saved her! You all saved her! How did you do it?"
"I think we'd all like to know that." Said Professor McGonagall weakly.
Harry and Yugi looked at each other, then nodded and Harry put the sword and the Sorting Hat on the desk, while Yugi dropped the remains of Riddle's diary onto the desk alongside the two items Harry had put down. Then between them they explained everything. Harry trailed off as he talked about the fact they'd worked out that the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets might be in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.
"Very well," Professor McGonagall prompted them, as he paused, "So you found out where the entrance was… breaking a hundred school rules into pieces along the way, I might add… but how on earth did you all get out of there alive, boys?"
So Yugi, since Harry's voice was hoarse from all the talking, told them about Fawkes timely arrival, Harry mentioned the fact Yugi had distracted the Basilisk by attracting it towards him, and Joey gave his friend a thumbs up, Yugi blushed and continued, telling them about Harry and the sword. Yugi faltered, so far he'd managed to avoid talking about Ginny and the diary… he knew Dumbledore, who'd known about the spirits of the Millennium Items, would understand but it was now impossible to prove that Riddle had forced her to do it all.
Instinctively Harry looked at Dumbledore, having realised why Yugi had trailed off. The Headmaster smiled faintly, the firelight reflecting off his half-moon spectacles.
"What interests me most," Dumbledore said gently, "Is how Voldemort managed to enchant Ginny, when my sources tell me he is currently hiding in the forests of Albania."
Relief swept through Yugi as he picked up the diary. "It was this; Riddle wrote it when he was sixteen."
Dumbledore took the diary from Yugi and peered keenly down his nose at the soggy, burnt pages. "Brilliant, of course, he was probably the most brilliant student Hogwarts have ever seen." He said, then turned to Ron's parents who were looking very confused. "Very few people know that Lord Voldemort was once called Tom Riddle. I taught him myself, fifty years ago."
"But Ginny," said Mrs Weasley, "What's our Ginny got to do with… with… him?"
"His d… diary!" Ginny sobbed, "I've b… been writing in it, and he's b… been writing back all year…"
"Ginny!" said Mr Weasley crossly, "Haven't we taught you anything? What have I told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself, unless you can see where it keeps its brain…" Yugi wondered what Mr Weasley would have made of Yami while he'd still been a spirit inside the Millennium Puzzle. Yugi decided he didn't really want to find out. "… it was clearly full of dark magic." Mr Weasley ranted. Yugi decided he definitely didn't want to find out.
"I d… didn't know," Sobbed Ginny, "I found it inside one of the books Mum got me, I th… thought someone had just left it there and forgotten about it."
"Miss Weasley should go up to the hospital wing straight away," Dumbledore interrupted firmly, "This has been a terrible ordeal for her. There will be no punishment. Older and wiser wizards have been hoodwinked by Lord Voldemort." Dumbledore opened the door, "Bed rest and perhaps a steaming mug of hot chocolate. I find it always helps. You'll find Madam Pomfrey is still awake; she's giving out the Mandrake potion, I dare say the Basilisk's victims will be waking up anytime."
Yugi's face lit up and Ombre smiled brightly, "Really?" Yugi asked, bouncing, "They're alright?"
"No lasting damage." Dumbledore said, smiling at Yugi's excitement. The Weasley parents led Ginny out, all three looking extremely shaken. Dumbledore turned to Professor McGonagall. "You know Minerva, I think this merits a good feast. Might I ask you to alert the kitchens?"
"Right," Professor McGonagall said, "And I'll leave you to deal with the student…" Professor McGonagall dived as a Silver dragon shot in the window, followed by a second dragon with a bundle of fur held by the neck, in it's mouth.
"Uh oh." Joey murmured as the baby dragons saw him and stopped, dropping the bundle of fur. It was a mewing Mrs Norris.
"It looks like the potion is being handed out." Ombre said happily. Professor McGonagall dashed out the door as Dumbledore turned to Ombre and Yugi.
"Princess, Mr Muto, if you'd be so kind as to return the cat to our caretaker." Dumbledore said, smiling slightly, "Then if you make your way down to the Great Hall, your other halves will join you shortly." Yugi picked up the cat, who seemed to be glad of any excuse to get away from the dragons, and he and Ombre rushed out the room.
"Mr Potter, Mr Weasley, Mr Wheeler." Professor Dumbledore said, "I remember telling all three of you that you would be expelled if you broke anymore school rules." Ron opened his mouth in horror, "Which goes to show that even the best of us have to eat our words," Dumbledore continued, "All five of you will receive Special Awards for Services to the School and let me think… one hundred points apiece, Yugi and Ombre included, to Gryffindor." Joey grinned at Ron and Harry, "But why, Gilderoy, are you being so modest about your part in this little adventure?"
Harry started, he had completely forgotten about Lockheart. He turned and saw Lockheart was standing stock still, scared witless of the dragons. "Mr Wheeler, if you could return these purple eyes silver dragons to their rightful places, I believe that one of them at least belongs in Hagrid's house." Joey nodded, and the dragons followed him out.
"Professor Dumbledore," Ron said as Lockheart left the corner, "there was an accident down in the Chamber of Secrets, Professor Lockheart…"
"Am I a Professor?" Said Lockheart in mild surprise, "Goodness, I expect I was useless."
"He tried to do a memory charm and it backfired." Ron explained quietly.
"Dear me," said Dumbledore, shaking his head in amusement, "Impaled on your own sword, Gilderoy."
"Sword?" Lockheart said dimly, "Haven't got a sword. That boy has though." He pointed at Harry, "He'll lend you one."
"Mr Weasley, would you mind taking Lockheart to the hospital wing too, I would like a few more words with Harry." Dumbledore said to Ron. The boy nodded, "Afterwards feel free to join your friends in the Great Hall." Ron closed the door behind them, and Harry felt nervous.
"Sit down, Harry." Dumbledore said, Harry sat in one off the chairs by the fire, "First of all, Harry, I want to thank you." Dumbledore said, eyes twinkling, "You must have shown me real loyalty down in the Chamber, nothing but that could have called Fawkes to you." Dumbledore stroked the phoenix, Harry grinned awkwardly as Dumbledore watched him. "And so you meet Tom Riddle. I imagine he was most interested in you…"
Something thing that had been bugging Harry tumbled out of his mouth, "Professor Dumbledore, Riddle said I'm like him, strange likenesses he said."
"Did he now? And what do you think, Harry?"
"I don't think I'm like him! I mean I'm in Gryffindor, I'm…" He fell silent remembering two things the Sorting Hat had said to him, "Professor," He started again after a moment, "the Sorting Hat said I'd… I'd have done well in Slytherin, and that there was another student in my year that also would have done well as a Slytherin, for a long time I thought the other student was the Heir of Slytherin."
"And yet yourself, who was told a similar message at your sorting, was not." Dumbledore said, Harry shook his head.
"Everyone thought I was because I can speak Parseltongue." Harry said.
"You can speak Parseltongue because Voldemort can, he accidentally transferred some of his powers to you that night, there is no guarantee that this other student, whoever he is, can do the same." Dumbledore said calmly, Harry noted the fact that Dumbledore had not said 'he or she' and that it probably meant the Headmaster knew who the other student was. "Both of you have traits that Slytherin himself prized, resourcefulness, determination, a certain disregard for rules that conflict with what needs to be done, and you have his own very rare gift of Parseltongue, and yet you were placed in Gryffindor why?"
"Because I asked not to be put in Slytherin." Harry said dejectedly.
"Exactly, as did the other student, that makes you both different from the Slytherins and makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is out choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more then our abilities." Dumbledore showed him the sword, "This is proof that you belong in Gryffindor, look."
Harry did so; a name was engraved below the hilt, Godric Gryffindor. "Only a true Gryffindor could pull that from the hat."
For a minute neither of them spoke, then as Dumbledore moved towards the desk Harry spoke up, "Professor…" He started, "Could you tell me who the other student is, please?"
Dumbledore pulled out a quill and a bottle of ink, "I do not think so Harry, it is not my place to say, and he will do you no harm, in fact it is far more likely he'll protect you, as he does all his other friends."
"Then he's one of my friends?" Harry asked, trying to lure more information out of Dumbledore, however the Headmaster wasn't biting.
"You seem to get on with all your year mates in Gryffindor." Dumbledore said, Harry sighed, he wasn't going to get any more hints out of the Professor, "No. What you need, Harry, is food and sleep. I recommend that you join your friends down at the feast, while I write to Azkaban, we need our game keeper back." Harry turned to go but as he reached the door, it opened so fast it nearly knocked Harry over and slammed into the wall.
Lucius Malfoy stood there, his face white as a sheet, he looked harried, and he had black lines under his eyes, had he not been sleeping well? Harry wondered with a vengeance, Serves him right! Cowering beside him, wrapped in bandages, was Dobby.
"Good evening, Lucius." Dumbledore said, acting pleasant though Harry was sure that Yugi would have sensed something else from Dumbledore at this moment of time.
"So!" Lucius Malfoy said, his eyes fixed on Dumbledore's, "You've come back. The Governors suspended you, but you still saw fit to return to Hogwarts."
"Well you see, Lucius." Said Dumbledore, smiling, Harry wondered how he could be polite to such a snake-in-the-grass. "The other eleven governors contacted me today. It was like being caught in a hailstorm of owls to tell the truth. They'd heard that Arthur Weasley's daughter had been killed and wanted me back here at once. They seemed to think that I was the best man for the job after all. Very strange tales they told me too, apparently you tried to bribe them and since they all know off your fall from wealth at the hands of a Japanese teenager, you then threatened their families to make them agree to suspend me in the first place."
Harry was glad Yami or Yugi weren't in the room, they'd probably send Mr Malfoy to the Shadow Realm for those offences. Mr Malfoy glared at Harry, who wondered what he'd done. Dumbledore explained everything to Lucius Malfoy, Harry was more interested in watching Dobby. The elf was pointing at the diary, then at Mr Malfoy and then hitting himself hard on the head.
"A clever plan," Said Dumbledore in a level voice, "Because if Harry here, and his friend Yugi hadn't discovered this book, why Ginny Weasley might have taken all the blame, after all no one would be able to prove she hadn't acted of her own free will." Mr Malfoy said nothing, his face suddenly mask like, "And imagine," Dumbledore went on, "What might have happened then, the Weasleys are one of our most prominent pure-blood families. Imagine the effect on Arthur Weasley and his Muggle Protection Act, if his own daughter was discovered attacking and killing Muggle-Borns and Foreign International Students. Very fortunate the diary was discovered and Riddle's memories wiped from it, who know what the consequences might have been otherwise."
"Very fortunate." Malfoy said stiffly. Dobby's antics became clear to Harry as he thought about it clearly.
"Don't you want to know how Ginny got a hold of that diary?" Harry asked Lucius Malfoy. The angry, and slightly scared, adult rounded on him.
"How should I know how the stupid little girl got hold of it." He snarled. Harry wondered why Mr Malfoy was scared.
"Because you gave it to her," Said Harry, "In Flourish and Blotts, when the others were arguing with your children. You slipped it inside her cauldron."
"Prove it." Mr Malfoy hissed, his white hands clenching and unclenching.
"Oh, no one will be able to do that," Said Dumbledore, smiling at Harry, "Not now that Riddle has vanished from the book. However, I would advise you not to go giving out any more of Voldemort's old school things."
Lucius wheeled around, "We're going Dobby." He snapped. He strode through the door and Dobby followed. Harry stopped for a moment, thinking hard, then he thought of an idea.
"Professor, may I return this to Mr Malfoy?"
"Certainly, and then join your friends at the feast, they'll certainly want to hear what's taken you so long." Harry grabbed the diary and dashed out of the office. Harry pulled off one of his grossly dirty socks and shoved it inside the book. Then he ran down the corridor, finally catching up with the two at the top of the stairs.
"Mr Malfoy!" Harry called, "I've got something for you." He shoved the book into Lucius Malfoy's hands.
"What the?" He shoved the book to Dobby.
"Open it." Harry mouthed, Dobby did so and looked in wonder at the sock.
"DOBBY! I said come!" Dobby didn't move.
"Master has given Dobby a sock." Dobby said, "Master has given Dobby clothes, Dobby is free." Lucius wheeled around and drew his wand, pointing it at Harry.
"You've lost me my servant boy!"
"You shall not harm Harry Potter!" Dobby shouted, and a loud bang sounded. Mr Malfoy was thrown backwards, he landed in a crumpled heap on the landing below. "You shall go now." Dobby stated fiercely.
"Potter, just tell your friend Muto, that he'll regret what he did to my son." The adult said as he turned to leave. Harry paled, that was a threat to Yugi, and not a veiled one either. Harry and Dobby talked for a little while longer, and Harry managed to extract a promise out of Dobby, that he would never try to save his life again. Then Dobby disappeared and Harry made his way to the feast to join his friends.
Harry quickly ran to his dormitory to get changed, there was no way he wanted to eat while coated in slime. When he got there, he found Yugi and Joey doing the same, and as they came down from their dorm they met Ginny and Ombre, who'd done the same too. The five made their way down to the Great Hall together.
"We're so…" Joey said as they opened the doors to the Great Hall. A huge cheer rose up, drowning out his words. He was sure somewhere in the noise he could hear the Weasley twins mutilating 'Hail the conquering heroes.'
They hadn't long sat down when the doors opened again, there in the doorway was Yami, Kari, Kaiba, Hermione and Rebecca. Yami barely got through the threshold before something collided with him, causing him to stagger backwards and end up falling backwards.
"Ouch." Yami muttered, then looked down at what had hit him. Yugi looked up at him, with tears in his eyes, tightly hugging the Pharaoh. Yami tried to get Yugi to let go. "Can't… breath… Yu… gi."
Yugi let go rapidly.
"It's Ok now, thanks to you lot from what we hear." Kari said, seconds before she was engulfed in a bear hug from Joey.
"Joey… can't… breath…" The others rushed over, and as Kari managed to get Joey to let go she turned to the others. "So, what really happened?"
As they walked over to the table, Kari looked around. Yami and Ombre were talking by the door, and after a few minutes of intense discussion they both walked over. Ombre looked confused, but sat on her hikari's left side, while Joey sat on her right. Yami wasn't certain whether Yugi's Shadow Game with Malfoy was a good or a bad thing but it defiantly had its advantages. Harry got to the part where he and Dumbledore had been talking and told the others everything. Yami was silent for a couple of minutes. Then he spoke up, "The Hat considered putting me inSlytherin." Yami said quietly enough for only the gang to hear, "But I didn't think it was important enough to mention."
Joey snorted, "You? In Slytherin? With Bakura? Not possible."
"Anyway, I didn't get put there, it's our choices not our abilities that show who we really are." Yami said, "But I swear if this gets out to Bakura or Kaiba, the person spreading it will end up in the Shadow Realm faster then Bakura on a good day."
The celebrations were loud enough as it was, but when Gryffindor was announced as the winners of the House Cup, with the group's 500 points securing it easily, the noise got louder and everyone cheered when t was announced that the exams would be cancelled and the cheering that accompanied the news Lockheart would not be returning next year included quite a few of the teachers.
Unfortunately the school year ended all too fast, though no one understood why Joey insisted in sitting in Kaiba's carriage on the train and driving him mental all the way home by getting his dragon to tap the window every time Kaiba had just settled in, causing the CEO to chase the blonde boy down the train, not that Kaiba could prove it was Joey's fault. Everyone shared their phone numbers, Harry claimed he go mental if he only had Dudley to talk to all Summer.
"Felly tone?" Ron asked Ryou quietly, the white haired boy had gotten off the train not long after they had. Ryou laughed and explained it to him as Hermione asked, "Your aunt and uncle will be proud though, won't they?"
"Proud?" Harry snorted, "Are you mad? All those times I could've died this year and didn't manage it? They'll be furious!"
"Offer still stands from last year, Harry." Yami said, about to walk through the magical barrier.
"I might just take you up on that." Harry laughed, then they rejoined the muggle world.
Author's notes: -
Joey Taylor - Well that's it for Chamber of Secrets, thanks to all those still reading, hopefully Prisoner of Azkaban won't be too long going up : ), see you all soon : )
Robin Moto – And please review, we'd like to know what you think!