I have had enough. It's halfway through fifth year, and I've had enough. Umbridge has taken away my Firebolt, taken away my Defense Association, and made me carve my own hand open for the last time! I am going to rebel! And not even Dumbledore can stop me. Even if he was at school. Which he isn't.
It was the middle of the night when I enacted my plan. I quickly packed a couple sets of clothes, my toothbrush, and the stuffed Niffler Hermione bought for me. She says I'm depressed and therefore need something to cuddle with. I'm just happy she didn't decide to throw Ginny at me again.
With my bag packed, I pinned the note to my bed hangings, threw my Invisibility Cloak over my head and, clutching my wand in my hand, walked boldly out of my dorm and left Gryffindor Tower. After making a couple short detours, I marched straight into Moaning Myrtle's bathroom and hissed, 'Open up! I'm in a hurry!"
Within seconds, I was facing a large hole in place of one of the sinks. I took a deep breath, plugged my nose and jumped, yelling something I'd seen in one of Dudley's movies: "Geronimo!"
The next morning, Ron woke to find his best friend missing. Pinned to his bed hangings was a note:
I've gone on strike. I'll see you all when the toad leaves.
P.S.: Ron, I told you I'd do it.
The rest of Gryffindor woke to a strangled yell coming from the fifth year boys dorm.
"Take me with you!"
The rest of the school found out a bit later, in the form of a large message splattered on the wall in red paint:
THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED (AGAIN). SORRY, NO KILLINGS THIS TIME, JUST LODGING FOR ME! (Next to these words, Harry had drawn a tiny little smiley face giving a thumbs up sign.) I'M NOT LEAVING 'TILL TOADIE LEAVES. YOU KNOW WHO SHE IS. And also, I think I'll stay on strike till someone fixes the leak in the boy's plumbing on the fifth floor. It's disgusting! And another thing, Ron, you prat, stop leaving wet towels on the floor! I slipped on one on my way out and nearly had to call off the whole strike! And possibly bring Dumbledore back, although I won't push it…And Lavender, I swear by Merlin, if you keep clogging the sink in the Quidditch locker room with your stupid mascara, I am going to have to resort to desperate measures. Why are you even in there, you voyeuristic pervert? And hang on, Quidditch! I want to play Quidditch again! And another thing…
The writing had started out twelve feet tall, and shrunk as the message went on, until it was completely illegible. Even after it was impossible to read, it still went on for another five feet. It seemed Harry had a lot of issues with Hogwarts.
The hall was crowded with students for the rest of the day, gawking at the message Harry had left. Some weren't sure exactly who had written it. (Apparently, Harry wasn't as well-known as they'd previously thought) Some people (Colin in particular) were bobbing around in the crowd, taking pictures to sell to the Prophet (or the Quibbler. Who ever pays more, basically). Umbridge tried to make them go to classes, but really, it was hopeless. Whenever she sent Filch to try and clean up, he was booed out of the corridor.
Harry sat uncomfortably on a lump of dead snake, surveying his surroundings. He was in the middle of the Chamber of Secrets. It smelled. Really, really, really, really bad. Really. Like dead things. And, oddly, vanilla. He was kind of wishing he'd paid more attention when Hermione had told him to pay more attention when they were learning Cleaning Charms in Flitwick's class. This place could really use a good Scourgify. He momentarily entertained the idea of just pointing his wand and yelling 'Scourgify!', but didn't want to end up with a buffalo on his chest in the middle of the Chamber of Secrets. No one would ever find him. He imagined his skeleton lying in the Chamber forever, with the skeleton of a giant buffalo still pinning it to the floor for all eternity.
This place was obviously already driving him mad.
Harry entertained different possibilities, then gave up and yelled, "Dobby! Come here a second, please?"
Dobby appeared with a crack, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn't been sure that would actually work.
"Yes, Mister Harry Potter, sir?" Dobby asked with his customary ugly smile, which quickly turned into an ugly grimace at the smell.
"I think you see - er, smell, my problem." Harry said. "Could you possibly give me a hand?"
Dobby grinned again. "Of course, Mister Harry Potter Sir!" He disappeared with a crack and returned with a very confused Argus Filch in tow.
"Clean, caretaker!" Dobby demanded, stuffing a mop and bucket into his hands.
"Dobby! What are you doing?" Harry asked, appalled.
"Sir, the house elves is not having time to do everything masters wish of us," Dobby scoffed. "So we has humans that do it for us too!"
Harry thought about that for a moment. "I guess Hermione's all worried over nothing, then?"
Dobby nodded, and sat down to supervise Filch as he began cleaning. "This is what we is been trying to tell her, sir. Nothing to worry about."
"Ah, ok then…" Harry watched as Filch scrubbed the floor on his hands and knees. "So, is he going to tell anyone where I am?"
"They already know, sir." Dobby said, before popping out momentarily and returning with two tall glasses of lemonade. "You left a big message on the wall."
"Oh yeah! So how'd they take my demands?" Harry asked curiously. "I wasn't sure if they'd be able to read it all…"
"Oh, no sir. If sir doesn't mind me saying, you has terrible handwriting."
Filch neared the giant snake skin and Harry stood. "Hang on, I kinda wanted to keep that."
"For the feng shui, Mister Harry Potter, Sir?" Dobby asked courteously, nudging Filch away from the dead basilisk.
"Ah…what? No! Of course not!" Harry looked confused. "What's feng shui? Never mind. I wanted to give it to Professor Snape to bri- er, I though it would be a nice birthday gift."
Dobby nodded knowingly. "You wanted to bribe him, Mister Harry Potter Sir?"
Harry grinned embarrassedly. "Yeah…"
"Do not worry, Mister Harry Potter Sir, Dobby will take care of it."
And with that, Dobby and the giant basilisk carcass disappeared from the chamber, taking much of the smell with it.
Harry stared for a moment, then turned and watched Filch continue to scrub the floor.
Filch grunted and looked up at Harry. "Give us a hand, then?"
Harry considered it. What the hell. He'd cleaned worse at the Dursleys. He grabbed a scrubber and joined the old squib on the floor.
"So do you really have to do what the house elves tell you?" Harry asked curiously.
Filch shuddered. "Don't talk about those creatures. They're evil, they are. The things they get up to in those kitchens…" He shuddered again and began scrubbing faster.
That day, during lunch in the Great Hall, Dobby appeared next to Severus Snape's plate. "Professor Snape, sir?" he asked politely.
"Yes?" Snape asked curtly. Ever since that Potter boy had gone on 'strike', he'd had to deal with rebellious students in every house, hoping to imitate the Boy-who-lived. He was not in a good mood.
"Mister Harry Potter Sir has a present for Professor Snape, sir."
What now? Snape thought irritably. "Yes, well, what is it?"
"It is a wonderful present, sir! Dobby has put it in your office!"
Snape narrowed his eyes. Whatever Potter had decided to 'gift' him with, he didn't like the idea of it being in his office by itself. "Bring it up here, elf."
"Yes, Professor Snape, sir! But Dobby should warn you sir, it is very large!"
"Just bring it."
"Yes, sir!" Dobby cracked out of the room, and seconds later, a dead thirty foot basilisk sat in the middle of the Hall, wedged between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables.
There was a small bow positioned around one of the gigantic fangs.
Dobby reappeared at Snape's side and offered him a small card. He had to nudge him a couple times to snap the man out of his shock.
"Sir! Sir, here is your card, sir." Dobby forced Snape to take the card and hold it properly.
Snape finally pulled his eyes away from the carcass and looked down at the piece of paper in his hand. As he read the words, he tuned out the rest of the Hall. He didn't hear the screams of fear and disgust, he didn't notice Umbridge yelling something about impurities, and he didn't smell the foul stench still rising off the body. All he saw were the words on the paper:
Enjoy the Basilisk. I killed him just for you. Well, really, it was for Ginny at the time, but let's not mention that, shall we? I thought you could use some of it in potion making. Dobby should help you put it into vials and all that. I didn't want him messing it up or anything, so I told him to leave it as is and put it in a large, well ventilated area. Hope you're enjoying life on the surface. Do you know if any of my demands have been met yet? It kinda smells down here.
Professor Dolores "Toadie" Umbridge was furious. Students rebellions were running rampant! Several groups, most notably those Weasley twins, had decided to go on sympathy strikes, and spent their time chained to various statues, chanting and begging passerby to bring them food. Her Inquisitorial Squad was in shambles. Filch had mysteriously disappeared the day after Potter and had yet to return. The Basilisk incident had left the Great Hall smelling like dead snake, and, strangely, vanilla.
That boy was undermining her authority, and to top it all off, he wasn't even here to take the proper punishment!
Ron and Hermione were at a loss. They were receiving daily updates from Harry. He somehow managed to get letters to them every morning. The last one had been particularly confusing:
Dear Ron and Hermione,
Everything's fine down here. I finally got Dobby to fix the plumbing, so I can brush my teeth. Thanks for the Niffler, Hermione. It's great. Argus and I play catch with it all the time. Oh, and I nearly forgot. Forget about S.P.E.W. Trust me. They don't need it.
And in a different, more old-fashioned handwriting below that, it said:
Those bloody elves don't deserve people wasting their time campaigning for them. Why don't you start working for the ethical treatment of caretakers?
"Er, Hermione?" Ron asked, staring at the letter in her hands.
"Yes, Ron?" Hermione asked, still examining it carefully.
"I've no idea."
"You don't think it's Filch, do you?"
"That would explain why he's gone missing too."
"D'you think they've gone on strike together then?"
"I don't know. It's kind of creepy, isn't it?"
Soon, Hogwarts grew used to having the Boy-Who-Lived living in the Chamber. No more did people ask, "Where's Harry?" or "Hey, where'd that dorky kid with the glasses go?"
Snape and Dobby managed to fit thirty feet of basilisk skin, fangs, venom, and entrails into twelve small containers (They were magically expanded, of course). Snape sat down that night with a large bottle of firewhiskey and decided to rethink his opinion of 'that Potter boy'.
The house elves, without their caretaker to do it, had to go up to the Great Hall during passing period and replace the long, white candles with several thousand Glade Vanilla Scented Candles (tm).
Soon the Great Hall smelled better, but unfortunately, the candles caused several student's owls to die of carbon monoxide poisoning, and had to be removed.
Umbridge couldn't teach her class, because nearly every student, save Hermione Granger and Ernie Macmillan, was on strike. The Slytherins claimed to be striking because of unfair treatment from other teachers, but in reality, they were spending the time they were supposed to be chained to statues down in their common room playing Exploding Snap.
Draco Malfoy, as he was leading his Slytherins out of class and down the stairs toward the dungeons, got his hat knocked off by overzealous strikers. It disappeared and has yet to be found. He pitched a serious hissy fit and stalked off to pout, strike forgotten.
The rest of the strikers were more loyal. Most were only on strike from Umbridge's class, but some of the more radical strikers never left their posts. Fred and George in particular refused to be unchained from the showerheads in the girls' Quidditch locker rooms. Lavender Brown did the same in the boys'.
Crabbe and Goyle missed the point entirely, and spent countless hours eating in the kitchens, as eating in the Great Hall in recent times meant running the risk of having dead owls fall on your head.
The Board of Governors had an emergency meeting and decided that enough was enough. They were ready to meet Harry's demands and sent a team of cryptologists to decipher Harry's handwriting.
They soon gave up, and it was because of this failure that Harry sat in his new throne in his Chamber and read the message Dobby had just delivered, instead of having breakfast with Argus.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that we have agreed to meet your demands, and hope to see you out of the Chamber of Secrets soon.
Unfortunately, we were unable to understand more than half of the writing you left on the wall. We formally request a new copy of the demands, numbered and signed by yourself, when it is convenient to you.
Board of Governors
(Here all twelve members had signed their names.)
Harry stared down at the letter in his hands. "Argus," he called across the large, echoing chamber.
"Yes, Harry?" Argus asked through a mouthful of scrambled eggs. They had long ago finished cleaning, after Harry had come to his senses and asked Dobby for a proper cleaning charm. Now the Chamber was sparkling, and, although still smelled faintly of vanilla, they had gotten used to it.
"The Governors want my demands."
"I don't remember my demands."
Argus put his fork down and looked up at Harry in surprise. "How could you not remember?"
"I was really just ranting…" Harry said apologetically. He pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill from the desk Dobby had stolen from McGonagall's classroom. In fact, all of the furniture they had was taken from rooms in the castle. Their beds had been stolen from Slytherin in a fit of contrariness when Ron and Hermione had sent a message telling Harry to come back and deal with things like a rational adult. The table Argus was eating at was actually the Hufflepuff house table. The Hufflepuffs were sitting on the floor until Dobby could finish negotiations with Harry to give it back. They had a mix of chairs from all the houses, which looked very odd and didn't match at all. Harry had convinced Dobby to relocate the Prefects bathroom down in the Chamber, and had in fact just taken a swim. Argus had had a stroke of brilliance one day, and now they had a fireplace, courtesy of Ravenclaw house. The throne, of course, was the Headmaster's chair from the Great Hall.
Other smaller items seemed to randomly fall out of a hole in one part of the ceiling. They had no idea why. Quills, books, sometimes even shoes just dropped from the ceiling and landed in a pile on the floor. They sorted through it from time to time, and found some interesting stuff. Harry had been particularly proud of a Daily Prophet with news of his strike emblazoned on the front page, and had convinced Dobby to frame it for him.
Harry sat down in the green chair today, and dragged a side of the Hufflepuff table in front of him so he could write on it. Argus gave him a dirty look as his chair went sliding across the floor along with it. The house tables are actually quite light, Harry thought as he set to work.
By Harry Potter
1. Dolores 'Toadie' Umbridge has to leave Hogwarts. Forever. She is not allowed to visit it in anyway. In fact, she is not allowed to think any of the following words: Hogwarts, Harry, Potter, Inquisitorial Squad, Detention, Decree, Pink, Wilbert Slinkhard, Quidditch, Halfbreed, Inspection, "hem hem", etc…If necessary, the use of the Crutacius Curse, or even Muggle electroshock therapy may be used to meet the terms of this demand.
2. Possibly bring Dumbledore back, if you've time.
3. Put me back on the Quidditch team.
Harry paused and chewed on his lip thoughtfully. "Any suggestions, Argus?"
Argus scooted down the table and pulled the parchment close in front of his eyes in order to read it better.
"Aye, I got a couple suggestions."
4. Free Argus Filch from the house elves.
5. Do NOT free the house elves.
6. Help Hermione Granger to see the light in regards to the house elves.
7. Allow Argus Filch to practice capital punishment.
"Hey, hey, Argus," Harry said in alarm. "I don't think I want to go quite that far!" He took the quill back from Argus and fixed number seven so it now read:
7. Allow Argus Filch to practice capital punishment. On Slytherins.
Argus considered for a moment. "I suppose that's fair enough."
Harry tapped his forehead with the quill, spattering ink all over his scar. Next to his lightning bolt scar, the ink looked like raindrops in a thunderstorm.
"I can't remember the rest of my rant…" he muttered absently. Getting a sudden idea, he called Dobby.
"Yes, Master Harry Potter Sir?" Dobby asked cheerily. All the excitement around Hogwarts lately had made him a very happy elf. He'd had to punish himself countless times, and when people like Harry told him not to, he had to punish himself for punishing himself. Then he had to punish himself again for going against their word! Dobby was covered in bandages, and had several teeth missing. Yes, he was one very happy, masochistic elf.
"Dobby, I told you to stop punishing yourself," Harry said automatically, not even looking up at him. Dobby nodded gravely and twisted his ears in punishment. Then he stomped on his own foot.
"Nevermind, Dobby…" Harry said, now looking up at him. "I need you to bring me my demand wall."
"Yes, sir!" Dobby said dutifully. But then he thought of something, and added doubtfully, "But sir, the wall is very tall. It holds up the ceiling and other things. It is not like the fireplace, where we could cover the hole with a painting and act like it was never there. There is no paintings that big, sir!"
"How big, Dobby?" Harry asked curiously, an idea forming in his mind. Because he would have his wall. Harry had been deprived of many things in his short life, and he had decided that never again would someone tell him no, even for something as unlikely as this.
"About sixteen feet, sir."
"Hmm…Alright, Dobby, this is what you do…"
Up on the surface, Umbridge had been sacked. Ron had been forced into an etiquette class taught by Professor Sprout. Lavender had been unchained and banned from the boys locker rooms. Hufflepuff had gotten used to eating on the floor, and a few of them learned the lotus position and achieved Nirvana. They joined a small cult headed by Luna Lovegood and made plans for Snorkack hunting during the summer holiday. They called themselves "The Order of Nargle"
The day after the Governors sent Harry their request for the full list of demands, the wall he'd written the original copy on disappeared. Dobby used elf magic to hold it up and disappeared into the forest for three hours. When he came back, he led a giant that vaguely resembled Hagrid up to the opening and wedged him into it. As long as no one got too close, and Dobby kept him well supplied with deer meat and butterbeer, Grawp was relatively quiet and happy. Although this meant that Charms had to be moved to a different classroom and no one could use the bathroom on that floor, as it was blocked by Grawp's foot, most people looked on the bright side: At least the castle wasn't falling down, and soon maybe Harry would come back up and stop the anarchy that had prevailed in his absence.
After much discussion, Dumbledore was brought back because, as one of the Governors said, it was best to play it safe and do everything Mr. Potter had asked.
When Dumbledore had left, his school had still had order. Now, Harry Potter, Argus Filch, the Prefects bathroom, a wall, and several items of furniture were missing, including his favorite chair. A giant had taken up residence in a hole on the third floor. An entire house was sitting on the floor during mealtimes, some of which had joined a cult. The Great Hall smelled funny. Students were striking. Several had taken up permanent residence in the Great Hall so as to be fed from time to time. Slytherins were becoming unsociable and spending countless hours in their dungeons, playing board games. Ravenclaws were questioning their sanity and mumbling on and on about fireplaces and chairs. Gryffindors were proving themselves to be unabashed perverts, and Dumbledore had had to confiscate four cameras so far on the grounds that they contained pornographic material. And Harry's list had only included him as an afterthought!
To put it simply, he had had enough.
"Welcome, welcome," Dumbledore said to the assembled group, which consisted of several of the more prominent Governors, the two youngest Weasleys, Hermione Granger, and Professor Snape. They were all crowded uncomfortably in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.
"I have gathered you all here today for a purpose," Dumbledore said grandly.
"Is it to get Harry to come out of the sink?" Ron asked hopefully. Hermione elbowed him sharply, and he grimaced. "Sorry, go on."
Dumbledore smiled down at him benevolently. "Indeed, Mr. Weasley, you are correct," he said. "We are here to negotiate with Mr. Potter in the hopes of making him return to Hogwarts and forgo his strike."
"But how, sir?" Ginny asked, frowning. "I mean, do you just plan to yell down the tap? I don't think he can hear you."
"Young lady, I should think Dumbledore would have a much better idea than that!" One of the Governors scolded Ginny. "After all, he's Dumbledore!"
"That I am, good sir," Dumbledore said, eyes twinkling. "And, no. We will not be shouting at the taps."
He walked down the row of toilets and opened the last one. "If you'll excuse me, Myrtle, might I have a word?"
"Professor!" the same Governor began, sounding rather shocked. "If there is a young lady in there, I should think you would knock first!"
Dumbledore ignored him, and stepped back as Myrtle rose out of the toilet and looked at him questioningly. The Governor looked rather abashed.
"Yes, Professor?" she sniffled.
"Myrtle, if you are not too busy, we would like your assistance with young Harry."
Myrtle's eyes widened. "Harry?"
"Yes. He is deep under the school at the moment. He can be reached by following the tap from this sink." Dumbledore pointed at one of the sinks.
"Um, sir?" Ron asked, deftly avoiding Hermione's elbow.
"Yes, Mr. Weasley?"
"It was that sink." Ron pointed at the sink next to the one Dumbledore had been talking about.
"Oh, yes of course. Thank you Mr. Weasley." Dumbledore nodded to Ron and turned back to Myrtle. "He can be reached through that sink." He pointed at the correct sink. "We would like you to ask him to come home."
"Is that all, sir?" Myrtle asked importantly, preparing to leave.
"Tell him his friends miss him dearly." Dumbledore said after a moment's thought.
"Yeah! And tell him we want to know what's going on down there and why 'Argus' is with him!" Ron added. Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.
"And ask him if he's finished with the list." One of the Governors added, twisting his hat in his hands anxiously.
Myrtle nodded and disappeared into the sink. They all stood quietly for a moment. Soon Ron grew fidgety.
"So, er, are we just going to wait here for her to come back?" he asked after a few minutes.
"Sir," Ginny said, looking at Hermione and Ron. "I have to, ah…feed my brothers. They're still in the locker room, you know, and I was late for Charms so I forgot to get them breakfast…"
"I actually have to go too." Hermione said awkwardly. "I feed Terry Boot's group today. He's up in the Astronomy Tower with a bunch of those Narglites."
Dumbledore nodded. "We will alert you when Myrtle returns."
"Really?" Ron asked enthusiastically. "In that case, I have to go too."
"Where?" Hermione asked, grabbing her bag and manuvering around several Governors toward the door.
"Er…Well I was kind of hoping I could get something to eat myself." Ron said sheepishly. Hermione rolled her eyes and grabbed his sleeve.
"You're going to help me feed the Order of Nargle."
About an hour later, Myrtle returned. Ron, Ginny and Hermione had come back fifteen minutes ago, and were doing homework at Hermione's insistence.
"Don't see why," Ron was grumbling. "If I get a bad grade, I can just go on strike like the rest…"
"I have news!" Myrtle called, popping up out of the sink and nearly giving some of the more elderly Governors heart attacks.
"Yes, Myrtle?" Dumbledore asked hopefully. "What does he say?"
Myrtle took a deep breath. "I had to talk to Argus first, but after Harry finally agreed to talk to me, I told him what you said."
"And?" Ron asked impatiently.
"Oh," Myrtle blushed silver. "He's so pretty…he said that he misses his friends too, but he has to do what he's doing for…'The Cause', I think he said. And he says he and Argus are good friends now, that they bonded over a shared knowledge of cleaning tips. Then he started talking about baking soda and vinegar, something about stain removal…I got a little lost at that point…" Myrtle trailed off, confused.
"Well, what did he say about coming home?" Dumbledore asked keenly.
"Oh," Myrtle still had the confused look, and answered absently. "He said no."
"What about the list?"
"He said he'll have it ready by next Tuesday. He's so pretty…"
"Tuesday?" The Governors were getting blustery in their shock. One of the candles went out. "How many demands does he have?"
"Oh, I don't really know," Myrtle said. "He was working on it when I came in. He had quite a long list already. I think he's mostly just having trouble reading his handwriting. It's terrible."
"We can't wait till Tuesday, Dumbledore!" They were getting blustery again. "The school is in shambles!" Another candle went out.
"Yes, I know it can't wait," Dumbledore said. "That is why Severus is there."
The group turned as one to Snape, who up to this point had been standing stiffly in the shadows. He hadn't been in a girls bathroom since that one time in his school days when James Potter had…well he hadn't been in one in a long time.
"Severus," Dumbledore said gravely. "You know what I must now ask you to do."
Snape nodded. He'd been waiting for this moment since they'd entered the bathroom. His good opinion of Potter had just dropped a few notches. Dumbledore handed him the two letters, both with the Hogwarts seal stamped on the back. Severus turned with a swish of his cloak and left silently.
When he reached the end of the apparition ward, he spun on his heel and vanished.
He appeared moments later at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, and strode into the kitchen to find Black and his werewolf in a very compromising position. He stood, waiting for a moment, and when it became obvious that they had not noticed his entrance, coughed loudly.
They ignored him. He coughed louder, until Remus finally looked up at him and asked, "Do you need some Pepperup Potion, Severus?"
Snape scowled at him and held the letter out without a word. Sirius stood up, fixing his hair, and took it with a glare.
He flipped it over and examined the seal before breaking it and pulling out the letter. Then he looked up at Snape and asked, "What's it about?"
Snape sneered at him and replied, "You are holding it in your hands. Read it yourself, you daft -"
"Can I see, Sirius?" Remus said loudly, cutting off the argument before it could really even start.
"I haven't read it! Wait your turn!" Sirius whined, unfolding the paper and glancing down at it. As his eyes trailed down the parchment, he began to smile. By the time he'd finished, he was roaring with laughter.
"Harry...strike? Chamber! Brilliant!" he howled. Remus took the paper curiously, and looked it over. Dumbledore had sent it. It appeared that Harry had gone on strike and was hiding out in the Chamber of Secrets, which was why Umbridge had been suddenly sacked, and Dumbledore returned to his position, although there were almost three paragraphs detailing how Harry had only added that as an afterthought. Dumbledore was asking Sirius to come up to the school and talk him out of hiding.
Remus finished reading and set the letter down on the table. "So are you going to do it?"
Severus eyed Sirius sharply. Remus almost thought he could see a glimmer of hope in the man's eyes. But that was obviously nonsense.
"Of course not!" Sirius grinned. "This is a brilliant prank! My Harry is a genius! Although..." he frowned thoughtfully. "D'you think Dumbledore would let me come down there to congratulate him?"
"He most certainly would not." Severus said irritably. "The headmaster has enough on his hands right now without mutts wandering about the school, acting like children." He glared at them disdainfully, before sweeping out of the room and out the front door.
"Arse." Sirius muttered.
Severus marched angrily out of Grimmauld Place and apparated crossly to the Riddle House, all the while muttering under his breath, "Stupid mutt, won't even bloody help when the headmaster asks him to...make me go to the bloody Dark Lord...show him...arse...
He stalked furiously up the lane and into the dreary manor. He made his way into Voldemort's favorite room (the basement), and flung himself down at Voldemort's feet, intoning, "My Lord," he scowled slightly and muttered, "bloody mutt."
"What was that Severus?" The Dark Lord sat in front of the fire, looking down at him incredulously (or as incredulously as a person can look without a nose).
"I...was cursing one of the old fools' pets," Severus said quickly, adding, "the bastard," in an undertone.
Voldemort smirked at him and said, "Ah, so you are in a mood, Severus? Would you care to explain why?" Severus was one of Voldemort's favorite followers. He was always so dramatic. Always a scene with that man.
"My Lord," Severus said, standing and holding out the letter. "You've received correspondence. From Dumbledore."
Voldemort perked up slightly. "Post? For me? Have you checked it for curses and such?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"Hand it over then." Severus handed him the letter and backed away with a bow.
Voldemort opened the letter, shook it out, and read:
We have a slight crisis at Hogwarts that I think you may be able to solve. Now I realize that you must be asking yourself, "Why would I help Dumbledore?" But I assure you that I can make it worth your while.
You see, young Harry has gone on strike. He refuses to do anything. He has holed himself up in the Chamber of Secrets and refuses to leave until all of his demands have been met.
That is where you come in. You are the only other Parseltongue in the area. In the world, actually. So we were hoping that you could pop 'round to Hogwarts and open the Chamber for us. Harry will be alone down there, except for possibly the caretaker, but we aren't too sure about that. You will have to open all the doors, which means eventually, you will get to see young Harry. Say hello and such.
Voldemort raised an eyebrow at the letter. "Is this a joke?"
Severus raised his head and sneered. "No my Lord, Potter has really gone on strike. Dumbledore asked me to give you the letter, and he is currently exploring other means of retrieving the boy. I think you were his last shot."
Voldemort smirked. "I think we shall be making a little visit to Hogwarts."
Severus gave a tentative chuckle as the Dark Lord burst out into full-on maniacal laughter.
"Argus," Harry said absently the next morning. "Pass the pumpkin juice?"
Argus passed the pumpkin juice.
"Thanks," Harry said. "So, what's on the agenda for today?"
"Abso-posi-lutley nothing, Harry m'boy." Argus said jovially. He was a much more cheery person these days, the much needed vacation from the house elves and cleaning in general had done him loads of good. He now only felt a small twinge of sadism toward the student body, and was getting much better at 'Pass the Niffler'.
Harry sighed. "I suppose I should get finished with that wall," he said regretfully. "Dobby said Grawp keeps getting bored and trying to wander off."
Argus grunted non-committally. "Oh well. Pass the sugar."
Harry passed him the sugar bowl. Argus' rheumatism caused him to drop it, and it fell to the ground and smashed to pieces.
"Blast," Harry muttered. "Oh well. No sugar I guess."
Argus looked faintly disappointed, but shrugged philosophically. "It was bad for my dentures anyhow."
About three hours after that, Ron and Hermione were walking up a set of stairs, hands full with trays of lunch for the Order of Nargle. The students had been so enthusiastic about their striking that not even Dumbledore could make them all stop. Not that he tried very hard.
Hermione was going on and on to Ron about what not to do when he was serving the food to the Narglites.
"And for goodness sake, Ron don't stare at their badges, or their faces! Last time you looked like a gaping toad." It had become a terrible insult at Hogwarts lately to call someone a toad.
Ron glared at her. "Hush, Herm. I get it. I'll stop insulting the stupid Nargle-thingies religion."
"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed severely. "Have some respect for other people's religions! I don't care how bogus they are. And don't call me Herm." she added as an afterthought.
"It's hardly a religion, Herm." Ron said, jumping the vanishing stair. "More like a cult."
"Ronald! ...Well I suppose you're probably right. Just don't say any of that in front of them. Their eyes scare me a little. Ah!"
"Hermione? You didn't need to demonstrate how scary they are, you know." Ron turned around to look at her. "Oh. You fell in the stair. Never mind."
Hermione hadn't been paying attention, busy with scolding Ron, and had indeed sunk her foot into the vanishing step. She just barely kept her trays from spilling everywhere. Only one blue sugar bowl fell, and it landed in the stair and disappeared. Hermione stared after it for a moment, then shrugged and set the tray down on the stair above. Her leg sunk deeper.
"Ron, help me out!" Hermione cried out painfully. "This really hurts!"
Ron set his tray down and pulled on her until she was sitting next to her tray.
"Well," she said, standing and brushing off her robes before picking up her tray again. "I feel rather stupid."
Two hours before Hermione and Ron fed the Narglites, Voldemort swept dramatically across the Hogwarts lawns, escorted by Severus and Dumbledore himself. They had agreed to a momentary truce while Voldemort attempted to extricate Harry from the Chamber. Neither would try to kill the other, or anyone else for that matter.
It was just after breakfast, so all the students were already in class or at their statues. Or in their common rooms. In any case, no one was in the second floor corridor, and as that was where Voldemort and Dumbledore were headed, that was good enough for them.
Voldemort entered the bathroom and stood in front of the sinks. "Open up," he hissed at one of them.
"Ah, Tom," Dumbledore coughed. "I believe it is the one next to that."
Voldemort glared at him. "I should think that I, of all people, would know which sink it is, thankyouverymuch."
"Oh, no. I did much the same thing," Dumbledore said diffidently. "Young Mr. Weasley had to inform me of my mistake."
Voldemort paused, and looked at the sink next to the one he'd been addressing contemplatively.
"Open up," he hissed.
It opened, and Dumbledore twinkled smugly. Voldemort glowered at him, spots of red appearing high on his cheekbones.
"Quiet, you old fool." Voldemort snatched Dumbledore's cloak and wrapped it around himself before jumping down into the darkness. "I'm not getting my robes dirty!" he called up to Dumbledore, who chuckled slightly and jumped after him.
At that precise moment, Harry was standing behind the chair they'd nicked from Hufflepuff, giving Argus a haircut. He'd learned how on Mrs. Figg's cats when he was in his destructive stage as a child. If he'd tried to destroy anything of the Dursleys' they likely would have killed him and buried the body in the basement.
"So do you want me to layer it or...?" Harry asked through the comb in his teeth as he snipped away.
"Oh, no. Just a trim is fine." Argus said peaceably. Harry nodded and continued with what he was doing.
"How short did you want it?"
"I was thinking shoulder length...or maybe to my chin?"
"That'd look good on you, like a bob?"
"Yeah, something like that. Only more masculine."
Suddenly, they heard a small crash in the tunnel just outside their room.
"What was that?" Harry asked, looking up curiously.
He brushed the hair off the front of his clothing and strode over to the door to press his ear against it and listen.
"Ow, you buggering-"
"Now, now, Tom. This is hardly the time for foul language."
"I agreed not to kill anyone, Dumbledore. I said nothing about serious bodily harm."
Harry stepped back from the door, eyes wide.
"What is it, Harry?" Argus asked curiously from his chair. "More solicitors?"
"Argus, I told you. Moaning Myrtle wasn't a soliciter." Harry said,giving Argus a strange look. "It's Voldemort and Dumbledore, I think."
"Oh," Argus stood up and brushed his shoulders off. "Think they're here for tea?"
Harry rolled his eyes. Argus' new, happier temperament did leave something to be desired at times like this. "No, Argus. They're either here because Dumbledore's gone completely 'round the twist and decided a lovely jaunt with the Dark Lord in the Chamber of Secrets is just what his Thursday morning needed, or he's decided to resort to begging Voldemort to help him." Harry sighed. "He only had to wait one more week before I had my list ready, then I'd come out. After they met my demands, anyway…"
Argus furrowed his brow in thought. "Either way, we're going to have to leave now, aren't we?"
"But I don't want to!"
"I know, Argie. I know."
They stood together in front of the door, watching anxiously as Voldemort hissed at it outside.
"Open up," he hissed.
Harry was struck with a sudden idea.
"No! Don't open up!" he hissed urgently at the doors. They stopped halfway and closed themselves again.
Harry grinned at Argus. "Maybe we won't have to leave after all!"
Dumbledore watched as Voldemort hissed unintelligible words at the door. He wondered what old Tom was saying. For all he knew, he was telling the doors about his trip to Cancun as a young lad. Or yelling 'Open Sesame!' Or even talking dirty to them. Snakes were very strange, Dumbledore knew.
So Voldemort hissed whatever he was hissing, and the doors started to open. Dumbledore breathed a sigh of relief.
Which quickly became a gasp of shock as a faint hissing from the other side caused the doors to slam shut again.
"Tom!" Dumbledore scolded. "What did you do?"
Voldemort's red eyes widened in surprise. "I did nothing!"
"Well, that's probably the problem, then!"
"Quiet, you old fool!"
"Well well, isn't that original!"
"I'll crucio you so bad!"
The door opened. Harry stood there, staring at the bickering Dark Lord and Headmaster in shock.
"Er, sir? Voldemort?" he asked, looking blankly between the two of them. Argus Filch stood behind him, peeking over his shoulder with what looked like a half-finished haircut.
Dumbledore and Voldemort stopped fighting. Voldemort reached carefully for his wand. Dumbledore elbowed him.
"Hello, Harry. And how are you on this lovely Thursday morning?" Dumbledore asked pleasantly.
"Good, I guess," Harry said, still staring between the two.
"Gallopin' Gargoyles, Harry, you were right!" Argus said. "They're just taking a stroll!"
Harry shot Argus a warning look and turned back to the two powerful wizards.
"Would you care for some tea, sir?" he paused. "Voldemort?"
"Tea would be lovely, Harry," Dumbledore said jovially. Voldemort accepted as well and both stepped into Harry's makeshift home.
"Lovely accommodations Potter," Voldemort said, glancing around. "You've made the Chamber very homey. I don't remember it ever smelling this nice. Is that vanilla?"
Harry nodded. "We never could get rid of that smell."
"Ah, so that's where the Hufflepuff table disappeared to," Dumbledore said thoughtfully. Then he saw his favorite chair sitting in front of a fireplace. His jaw tightened and he lost a bit of his sparkle.
"Well, well," Voldemort said, suddenly getting into the mood. "Harry Potter, we meet again."
Harry was preparing the tea. "Was that one sugar or two, Voldemort?"
Voldemort paused. "Two. And you won't be slipping off this time. Oh no. No no no no no. I've got you now."
"I'm afraid we're out of sugar, actually. Cream?"
"Oh, no. I like my tea black."
"Out of sugar?" Dumbledore seemed appalled. "Harry how do you manage?"
Harry ignored Dumbledore and said, "So I'm thinking you're an Earl Grey man?"
"Of course," Voldemort shook his head. He mustn't get distracted. He had a job to do here. Harry handed him his cup of tea. He sat down in one of the green armchairs and sipped at it.
They all crowded around the fireplace with their tea, Dumbledore and Voldemort looking quite at home, Harry glancing confusedly between the two of them, and Argus looking supremely uncomfortable.
"Er, was there a point in you coming down here?" Harry asked after a few minutes.
Voldemort started in shock, and looked up at Harry.
"Ah, yes. I was supposed to kill you," he said pensively.
"No, no. Tom, don't you remember?" Dumbledore asked, sipping his own tea carefully, mindful of his long whiskers. "We made a truce. You don't kill anyone, I don't kill anyone."
"Well, Dumbledore, now that I think of it, that was hardly a fair truce on your part." Voldemort reasoned. "After all, who in this school do you have on your 'People I want Knocked Off' list?"
Dumbledore looked suddenly foreboding. "Well, there is the matter of my missing chair. I nearly joined the Narglites, you know. All that sitting on the floor really does something to a person's head."
"Yes," Voldemort said, eyeing him. "It's the sitting on the floor bit that did it."
Harry cleared his throat, eyeing Dumbledore nervously. "Ah, who are the Narglites?"
"Oh, you don't know?" Voldemort leaned forward eagerly. Harry reared back slightly in his chair, repulsed by the noseless man. "The Narglites are this wonderful new organization run out of Hogwarts," Voldemort nattered on. Harry continued to eye him warily. "I was actually thinking of joining myself, you know. I hear they have an amazing dental plan."
"D-dental plan?" Harry asked bewilderedly. "Who runs it?"
Voldemort screwed up his grotesque face in thought. "I believe her name is Luna Lovegood. Brilliant young child."
"Luna?" Harry asked incredulously. "You're thinking about joining a cult Luna Lovegood started?"
Voldemort shrugged philosophically. "I hear several of the members have already reached enlightenment. In my travels, I ran across several Hindu temples that claimed enlightenment strengthens your magical power. I see nothing wrong with that."
Voldemort finished up his tea and set the cup aside. "And now, back to what I came here for." He rose and strode to the middle of the chamber, stepping on a hat before kicking it out of the way and striking a terrifying battle pose.
"I shall destroy you, Harry Potter, once and for all!"
He cackled evilly, quite certain that he had won. Dumbledore stood up slowly, still not sure if the pilfering of his chair deserved a death sentence or not. Harry's eyes widened, and he reached for his own wand, knowing that he'd never make it in time. Argus cried out in anguish, certain that his new best friend was about to meet a terrible demise.
None of them counted on the sugar bowl falling rapidly from the ceiling and hitting Voldemort square in the temple, knocking him out cold.
Harry, Argus and Dumbledore stared at Voldemort's inert body on the floor for several minutes, none of them able to form a coherent sentence due to shock.
Finally, Dumbledore strode over to the body and picked up the still intact blue sugar bowl. "Thank heavens," he said cheerfully. "I never could stand my tea without a bit of sugar."
He then proceeded to empty two spoonfuls of sugar into his tea and sat back down to finish it.
"Argus?" Harry asked weakly.
"Yes Harry, lad?"
"Is he dead?"
"I'm not touching him."
Harry crept cautiously over to Voldemort's side and felt for a pulse. There was one, but it was very faint.
"So, uh, what d'you think we should do with him?"
In the end it was rather simple. Once Dumbledore finished his tea, Harry called on Dobby and asked him to put everything back in its rightful place, including the demand wall and Dumbledore's favorite chair. Harry grabbed his Daily Prophet, finished his tea, and jammed the hat Voldemort had kicked aside onto his head. It was really very cool. Black tinged with green, and a silver lining. It offset his eyes nicely, according to Argus. Harry thought that, if it'd had a feather, it would have been absolutely perfect.
Dumbledore called Fawkes, and they organized themselves so they could all fly easily up the tunnel. There was some argument over who would carry Voldemort, and in the end Harry ended up stripping one of the beds and turning the blankets into a rope, tying one end around himself and the other around Voldemort. Needless to say, Voldemort was quite battered by the time they reached the surface.
Harry promised Dumbledore he wouldn't go back down to the Chamber without talking to him first, and Dumbledore left Argus and Harry to dump Voldemort's motionless body over the school fence. They'd entertained the idea of leaving him in the Forbidden Forest, but in the end decided they'd rather not have Death Eaters searching for their master on the grounds.
Harry and Argus wandered back into the school, chatting idly, Harry still trailing the blanket rope he'd made. It was very long, and kept getting caught in doors once they got inside.
At one point, Harry had to double back in order to find what his blanket was snagging on. He didn't expect it to be a Slytherin.
Draco Malfoy was furious. Furious and tired and furious. And grumpy. Not to mention furious. In the past few weeks since Potter had gone on strike, his hat had gone missing on the stairs, his bed had disappeared, prompting a very disturbing invitation from Blaise Zabini to share, someone had stolen his favorite chair from the common room, and the Narglites had attacked him for disagreeing with their views on the definition of a cult. Not to mention that, with Potter gone, he had no one to pick on.
As he trailed through the corridors, he mourned the loss of his favorite hat again. It had really been very cool. It was black tinged green with silver trimming and smelled like strawberries and chocolate. He'd been thinking of adding a feather, but hadn't gotten around to it before it had disappeared.
As he mourned his terrible loss, he saw a green bit of cloth dart around a corner. It looked like…
"Impossible," Draco thought, with no small amount of hope. "The blanket my mother gave me wouldn't be gallivanting around Hogwarts. Not at this hour, anyway."
He quickened his step and caught up with it. It was indeed his blankie. He picked up the end and allowed it to pull him along, until he suddenly realized something was wrong here. Something was dreadfully wrong. He examined it closely and realized that this was just a strip of his blankie. It appeared as though someone had torn it to shreds!
He stopped dead, gripping it tightly in his fist. It tugged on him, trying to pull him along. He tugged back insistently. He was not going anywhere with his blankie until some things were explained. The blanket stopped pulling on him, and he stood in the middle of the corridor, waiting for something to happen.
Suddenly, Potter wandered around the corridor, looping long ropes of torn blanket around his arm as he went. He looked up and stopped in surprise at the sight of Draco.
"Malfoy?" he asked. "Aren't you supposed to be in classes?"
Draco gawked at him and tugged on the blanket. "And aren't you supposed to be in some dank pit under the school? Give it back!"
Potter looked down at the ruined blanket in his hands. "Is this yours?" he asked blankly.
"Is this yours?" Draco imitated angrily. "IS THIS YOURS? You bloody well know it's mine! Just like you knew you were taking my bed and my favorite chair!"
"It was you!" Draco gasped. "I was just guessing, but you did take my chair, didn't you, you stuck up, self righteous bastard! You think that just because you're the bloody hero of the wizarding world, you can go around stealing people's beds and chairs and sodding blankies!"
Potter started slightly. "I didn't – wait, blankies?"
Draco colored. "Shut up! I'm not finished with you yet!"
"Well, I didn't know they were yours, really," Potter said reasonably. "And I only took beds from Slytherins because Ron and Hermione were being gits and calling me immature and it's not like we were just being rude, we were actually using them, and I stole stuff from all the other houses too and…blankies?"
Draco could only glare at him, until several thoughts occurred to him. "You stole the Hufflepuff table. They became Nargles and attacked me for not following their beliefs."
Potter started. "Luna doesn't seem the type to-"
Draco wasn't done yet. "And you stole the Prefect's bathroom. I had to take a shower with Slytherins, Potter. I haven't had to do that since first year. Do you know how disgusting those bathrooms are after Crabbe and Goyle have used them?"
"-But you weren't a prefect in second year-"
Draco waved his hand carelessly. "And why would that make a difference? Anyway, I'm not done yet." He leveled Potter with his most menacing glare. "Not only did you destroy my favorite blanket, but you stole my bed, and that means you were sleeping in my bed! Do you realize how contaminated it is now? I'll have to burn the mattress!"
Potter only stared at him in dawning comprehension and slight horror. Draco thought this the best time to make a dramatic exit, and in turn, swept past Potter, snatching the hat off his head as he went. It didn't smell like strawberries and chocolate anymore. Now it smelled like Potter, and, strangely, vanilla.
"And this is my hat!"
And in the end, that was that.
Harry got chewed out by several more people, including Hermione, Ernie, and a large portion of the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff houses. He agreed to pay for the Ravenclaw's therapy and to provide the Narglites with a commune to hold their meetings, house some of their members,and keep the various amulets they'd begun making. He also reluctantly agreed to give up on the demands and to sit in on a first grade muggle class for several weeks. His handwriting has improved drastically.
Soon the Narglites became the most popular society in wizarding Britain, and the Quibbler was worshipped as something of a bible. Many prominent members of the Ministry, the Order, and the Death Eaters had joined the Narglites, including Voldemort and Dumbledore. Minister Fudge was denied membership on the grounds that he'd been killing goblins and was therefore a threat to the peace. The Narglites were so widespread that they were able to swing the vote and get the Minister removed from office, to be replaced with Luna's father.
He is hailed as the greatest Minister ever to hold the title, as soon after his inauguration, Voldemort and Dumbledore signed a peace treaty and joined the expedition to Sweden. They have found six Snorkack colonies so far.
Sirius and Remus never did make it in time to congratulate Harry, as by the time they finished with what they'd been doing in the kitchen, Harry was back in classes and keeping his head down like a good boy. When they found this out, they returned to the kitchen.
Snape decided that he did, after all, quite like Harry Potter, and couldn't for the life of him remember why he'd ever hated such a charming young boy, who had such access to rare and valuable potions ingredients. His and Harry's relationship thrived, especially after Harry convinced Aragog to donate several of his children's venom to Snape's potion stores.
Draco continued to be extremely furious with Harry over his blankie and his hat. He'd calmed down quite a bit though, after starting a row with Harry in the potions corridor and finding that Snape was really quite terrifying when his anger was directed at Draco. After several washings, the hat retained it's strawberry and chocolate scent, and Dobby was convinced by Harry to sew Draco's blankie back together, so he was able to put it behind him for the most part.
Harry approached Draco one day in the corridor and offered him a feather for his hat. Draco thought about it, and realized that, now that the war was over and Luna Lovegood had basically caused world peace, there was really no reason for him to hate Harry anymore, especially since Harry obviously had such an amazing sense of fashion.
Argus Filch became something of a father figure to Harry, quelling Harry's friend's worries about pedophiles. He found out about the Dursleys foul treatment of Harry, and although he couldn't do any magic on them, he did take a train to their house and spend a week sleeping on their lawn. Petunia nearly had a heart attack, and Dudley stopped going outside, as every time he did, Argus hissed at him and demanded satisfaction.
Harry had to explain to him that his Muggle relatives probably didn't understand what he meant, and that none of them knew how to use a sword anyway.
In any case, the neighbors were disgusted at the man who lived on Number 4's lawn and claimed to be a 'visiting uncle'.
Since Dudley had stopped leaving the house, he'd become obsessed with playing Dungeons and Dragons online, and lost eight stone simply because he was too fanatical to remember to eat. He met a girl online that seemed to share his interests and he met up with her one day at a café, only to find that her name was Sirius Black and she (he?) was Harry's very angry and wrathful godfather, out for revenge.
As he was beaten crudely around the head with a stick, he wondered where his life had gone wrong and why everyone seemed adamant to blame him for his parent's faults. And why this insane person who was obviously a wizard wasn't just using magic.
On his way home from the café, he found a flyer advertising the 'Order of Nargle'. He became an avid member and left his family to live on the commune and learn the ways of the Snorkack.
Snape decided that it would be advantageous for him to keep Harry around, and decided to try and adopt him. He and Argus Filch began a custody battle that frankly baffled the newspapers.
After a few years, Harry came of age and it became a moot point. Strangely, that didn't stop the battle, and after a few more years, the courts decided to simply ask Harry what he wanted.
By this point, Harry was twenty three and living in sin with Draco Malfoy and Susan Bones, who had changed her name to 'Sunburst'. Strangely, Harry, Draco and Sunburst were of the few who had not joined the Order of Nargle. Harry told the courts that he loved both Snape and Argus equally, and couldn't they all just get along?
After reading Harry's quote in the paper, Hermione Granger came back from her research trip to Italy and put him in a drug rehab program. While still in England, she met up with Ron Weasley again and had a wild fling which culminated in a tattoo and several muggles needing to be Obliviated.
And they all lived adequately ever after.
A/N: So I'm just going to put this out there: This is what the wizarding world would be like if Rowling had stuck with her first year premise of 'Most wizards don't have an ounce of logic'. Because for all that she says that, I've only seen a few instances of it being true, and right now, the only one that comes to mind is Harry marrying Ginny. :D Also, it's true that Glade candles can kill birds, I wasn't just making that up. Also, this story was concocted in Las Vegas with my sister, transfiguredbunny, after a morning of debauchery and turkey.