Summary: What if Harry had been the Heir of Slytherin? How would that have changed the events in the Chamber of Secrets?
Disclaimer: Tell me. If I were JKR... and I wanted to write a story with Harry as an heir of Slytherin... why would canon contradict that? I do not own Harry Potter, or canon wouldn't contradict it, if I even got that far in writing.
Note: The title will not make sense. Keeping with what I have planned, it will make sense later (if there is a later), but for now it will be left as a "huh?" sort of thing. Plus, this starts at the beginning of the chapter "The Heir of Slytherin" and covers part of the chapter "Dobby's Reward" of the original Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and there will be a distinct likeness to canon in the beginning.
The Meaning of the Name
Prologue - Heir of Slytherin
He should have been terrified out of his wits. This was the Chamber of Secrets, home to a basilisk, where Ron's sister had been taken - and he had only his wand, his wits, and his meager magical knowledge.
And yet… he felt odd. Comfortable, almost. The closest he could name to having felt like this before had been at the Burrow. Harry shivered as some phantom breeze ruffled his hair, stepping forward as the stone wall closed behind him.
He was at the very end of a very long, dimly lit chamber. Towering stone columns rose up into the darkness, casting shadows in the strange green haze. He eyed the carved serpents warily, as if expecting them to strike. Something told him they could, that they weren't there just for decoration.
Sighing as the tension began to drain out of him, feeling less like a taut bowstring, Harry allowed the light at his wand's tip to extinguish, peering around with more curiosity than fear. It was rather empty for a secret hideout, he thought. Where was the basilisk? For that matter, where was Ginny?
Harry blinked as the phantom breeze returned, stronger, urging him forward. He took the advice, gripping his wand tightly and treading lightly as he could, and winced as even the most careful of steps echoed loud against the walls. Was he really that noisy?
Yes, something seemed to say. He wanted to duck his head in embarrassment.
Then, as he drew level with the last pair of columns, he caught sight of a great statue, tall as the chamber itself, of a man with an ancient, monkeyish face and a long thin beard that all but touched the stone folds of his robes about his feet. And between his feet, lying face down, was a small figure in school robes with a head of bright, Weasley-red hair.
"Ginny," he realized, and broke into a run, falling to his knees at her side. "Don't be dead - please don't be dead…." He grasped her shoulders and pulled her face up, brushing her hair out of her face with his wand. She was white as a ghost and chill to the touch, but her eyes were shut, so she wasn't Petrified - and she was breathing.
Harry shook her harshly. "Ginny, wake up, we need to get you out of here…."
A quiet voice answered him, but it wasn't Ginny's. "She won't wake."
Harry whirled about, grasping his wand like a lifeline. "Tom - Tom Riddle?"
The boy who had attended Hogwarts fifty years prior nodded slightly, looking like he'd walked out of the memory that had implicated Hagrid - not a day over sixteen. But wait, there was some sort of fuzzy outline about him. There was something wrong with this picture….
"What d'you mean she won't wake?" Harry demanded, frowning at Ginny's limp body. Hadn't Flitwick said not to use the Levitation Charm on living things? But he had cast it on Trevor… "We need to get her out of here, it's not safe - there's a basilisk. Tom, do you know a spell for moving people?"
Riddle looked amused. "The basilisk will not come until it is called."
"Good to hear," Harry replied, and winced. This time it was some odd sort of scolding smack, saying think. He stared at Riddle a second before it clicked. "How… how would you know that?"
"You're more observant than you're taken for, Potter," Riddle remarked coolly.
There was a curious look in the older boy's eyes when he looked at Harry. A look that made him want to back away, far away. But he couldn't leave Ginny!
A second swat. Harry ignored it.
"You did this, didn't you," he accused. "What's wrong with her? Why won't she wake up?"
"Temper, Potter," Riddle chastised carelessly. "What's happened to little Ginny is as much her responsibility as mine. The fool her, entrusting her heart, spilling her secrets to an invisible stranger…." He laughed, a high, cold laugh that made the hairs on the back of Harry's neck stand up. "But then, I've always done well in charming the people I needed."
"Spilling her secrets…" Harry repeated softly, not entirely understanding.
"The diary," said Riddle. "My diary. Little Ginny's been writing to me all year, telling me her pitiful little woes. How her brothers tease her, how embarrassed she was at coming to school with all secondhand supplies, how" -Riddle's eyes gleamed- "she didn't think famous, good, great Harry Potter would ever like her…."
Harry looked back at the prone witch, noticing, for the first time, the small black book lying beside her.
"It was all very boring, listening to the whiny troubles of an eleven-year-old girl," said Riddle. "But I was patient, I was kind. Ginny simply loved me. No one's ever understood me like you, Tom… I'm so glad I have this diary to confide in… It's like having a friend I can carry around in my pocket…" And he laughed a second time.
"So she wrote you," Harry concluded. "How does that lead to this?" He pointed to Ginny's prone body with his free hand.
"Little Ginny didn't just write me," said Riddle. "No. She told me everything, all of her secrets, all of her fears, laden with her soul and her magic, and I grew stronger. Strong enough to feed a little of my secrets, pour a little of my soul back into her…"
There was no mirth now. Think, it pressured.
"You did it," Harry breathed. "You made her set the basilisk on everyone. You made her write the messages on the walls. You did all of this!"
Riddle nodded pleasantly. "As I said, Potter: more observant than most credit you. But do you understand why?"
"If you meant to 'cleanse the school' then you've done a right shoddy job of it," Harry started savagely. "Not a single one's dead. Not even the cat."
"That was originally my intention." Riddle inclined his head. "But no longer. For that last few months, my new target… has been you."
"Me? Why?" The air around Harry thickened with some anger.
There was a strange, hungry look in Riddle's eyes now, looking down at Harry like he was prey. "I have many questions for you, Harry Potter…"
"Like what?" said Harry slowly. Something told him to tread carefully.
"Well," Riddle smiled, "how did you - a skinny boy with no extraordinary magical powers - bring down the most powerful wizard alive? How did you escape with nothing more than a scar, while Lord Voldemort's powers were broken? How did you do it, Harry Potter?"
Harry took another step back. Bringing up all that Boy Who Lived nonsense never meant anything good. "Why would you care? Voldemort was after your time…."
Riddle's eyes lit with an odd red gleam. "Voldemort… is my past, present, and future, Harry Potter…" He turned off to the side, writing in the air with his finger, tracing burning red letters in to the air.
TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE
Swish, flick. With the simple motion of Riddle's hand, the letters in his name began to rearrange themselves.
I AM LORD VOLDEMORT
A thrill of fear ran down Harry's spine. This was the boy who would grow up to kill his parents and so many others, standing right in front of him, smiling, outlined in- he felt a cold chill. Riddle's outline was becoming clearer, more solid, and a glance at Ginny's told him her breaths were becoming ever more shallow.
"It was a name I'd already been using at school," Riddle said calmly. "Only among my closest friends, of course. It was a name more fitting, I thought. For me, to keep my filthy Muggle father's name, who abandoned my mother just because he found out she was a witch - I, in whose veins runs the blood of Salazar Slytherin himself? No, I fashioned for myself a new name, one I knew that one day all would fear to speak, when I had become the greatest sorcerer in the world!"
Harry could taste it in the air, some sense of disgust. Half-breed…. The breeze kicked up again, only this time Riddle finally noticed, and gazed at him with a glint of calculation.
"You're not," said Harry quietly.
"Not the greatest sorcerer in the world. You spent all last year trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone; Nicolas Flamel made it. Albus Dumbledore even helped him, and you feared him even at the height of your power. You never dared to try and take Hogwarts!" A light swat. Harry paused to reorganize his thoughts. "I don't know who is the greatest sorcerer in the world. But you're not him."
Riddle's face had twisted into a snarl, but a second later he forced it into a very ugly smile. "No, you don't know, Potter. Observant you may be - but what do you know about the wizarding world? Next to nothing, I say. Can you even name a school of magic outside of Hogwarts?"
Harry blinked, feeling heat begin to rise into his cheeks. He hadn't even considered that there were schools other than Hogwarts, even though - intellectually - there had to be.
There was a shift in the air, something like a sigh. He had a lot to learn.
"You are a disgrace to your blood, Potter," said Riddle softly. "And not only due to that Mudblood mother of yours. The Potter family was old blood, pure and powerful. You are pathetic."
It was all Harry could do not to recoil. His fist clenched, nails all but drawing blood in his anger. "Pathetic, Riddle?" he repeated, fighting keep his voice steady. "Tall words for a shade. I've seen the real you, living off of other creatures like a parasite. If I'm pathetic," he spat, "what does that make you?"
The words hit home as cruelly as Riddle's own. Riddle flinched visibly, features twisting into a hateful sneer, before turning away from Harry and striding closer to the feet of the statue.
"We'll see just who's pathetic, Potter," he snarled. He looked up at the statue, and opened his mouth and hissed. Parseltongue. "Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts four."
Mouth going dry, Harry whirled about to face the statue as well - Slytherin's stone face was shifting, the mouth was opening, and something was stirring from within its depths.
Harry backed away in alarm, slipping on Ginny's hair and landing awkwardly with his back against a column. He could feel the grooves of the carved serpent writhing and twisting, feel cool stone about his stomach, holding him taut in place - and yelped in pain, as the snake sank its stone fangs into his hand.
Something heavy hit the floor of the Chamber, the sound muffling by the roar of magic in Harry's ears, as something slammed into place. Something that he'd been missing, something that felt right.
Then came Riddle's hissing voice: "Kill him."
Harry panicked, closing his eyes tightly. He was pinned, he couldn't move, and the basilisk was after him -
Calm down, came a voice, from somewhere in the back of Harry's mind. Tell it to stand down, and it will listen.
Startled, confused, Harry obeyed. "Stand down!"
The basilisk must have done as it was bidden, because Riddle let out a strange, unintelligible sound of rage. "I ordered you to kill him! Do so!"
From the lack of apparent movement, Harry reckoned the basilisk had not listened to Riddle. Why? Did his order count for more or something?
There was a sense of amusement. Look at it, boy. You need not fear its gaze.
Reluctantly, prodded by an odd feeling of trust he didn't understand, Harry opened his eyes - and couldn't help the gasp that escaped him.
The basilisk was long and thick, every bit of twenty feet long, a bright poisonous green. More to the point, its great, bulbous yellow eyes were fixed on Harry, and the purportedly deadly gaze was oddly muted.
Harry tore his eyes from the snake to look at Riddle, who glared back, nearly spitting with fury.
"Very well," he snarled, striding over to Ginny and laying one of his hands on her forehead. He murmured an incantation under his breath - and as the outline around him grew more vague, Ginny groaned -
Harry stared in horror as the redhead rose to her feet slowly, eyes blank. What did Riddle do to her? Sure he couldn't control her from outside of her body…?
He sacrificed part of his corporeality to control her, the voice mused, and originally gained form by draining her soul…. The tone grew thick with disgust. So he must be…
Be what? Harry thought desperately, raising his wand - but the Disarming Charm wouldn't help much here.
A monstrosity, came the reply. Such of the like that should immediately be destroyed.
But how? Harry demanded, springing aside to dodge a brilliant scarlet jet from Ginny's wand, and took cover behind the basilisk.
Think, think, think. The basilisk gave an outraged hiss as one of Ginny's spells singed its hide. Harry looked up at it, and then hissed, "Subdue her."
Good, the voice praised, as the basilisk moved to obey. Now - the diary. Swish and flick, incantation 'Deleoanimula.' I will do the rest.
Harry dived for the diary, swishing his wand. "Deleoanimula!" The wood heated under his fingers - in his ears he heard an inarticulate scream of rage - sickly black magic pooled at the wand's tip - it exploded outward onto the diary -
In the back of Harry's mind, the voice intoned a second incantation: Exsicco magicus!
Three people screamed as one. Riddle was writhing and twisting, flailing about before he vanished, and in the basilisk's coils, Ginny went limp once more. Harry whined in pain as white-hot magic pulsed over his skin, burning, burning before sinking in and settling behind his navel. His wand - or what was left of it - fell from his bloodied hand.
Breathing hard, Harry forced himself to his knees, staring at the blackened remnants of his wand. I don't think my wand agreed with that spell, he though shakily.
Apparently not, granted the voice. But all is well. I do believe you should take your leave now… you need to see a Healer for that hand. I never learned much of the healing arts.
Harry bent down to pick up the wasted wand with his off hand, tucking it into his robe pocket, followed by the diary. Then he paused, finally having the mind to actually think outside of keeping his skin intact. Never learned much? Who are you, anyway? And what are your doing in my head?
A chuckle. You really do understand so little… If anything, Harry got the sensation of a smirk. To fully explain my presence would have you here this time tomorrow. Abbreviated, then - among the pure-blood families, it is tradition for the sons to follow the ways of their fathers. To that end, the head of the family thought to best exemplify the family's attributes would be bound to the ancestral home, to guide those that follow. Do you understand?
Harry nodded mutely. There had been no answer for who the voice was, but a glance around was enough of one in itself.
Ginny moaned. He reflected that it probably wouldn't be best for her to wake up in the basilisk's coils, and had it release her. "Wait a while," he told it tiredly as she stirred, "and then, when you get hungry, or feel like killing something, go out into the forest. No more humans."
"As you wish," it replied, dipping its head in respect, and retreated down the statue's mouth.
He could swear Slytherin was smiling.
Ginny's eyes opened, and she blinked at him blearily. She took in the bloodied hand and his spell-burned skin, took in a shuddering gasp of air, and burst into tears. "H-Harry what-" Then her eyes slid out of focus, and she clutched her head whimpering.
Harry hurried to her side. What's wrong with her?
Severe magical depletion, said Slytherin carelessly. She'll survive, but her magical abilities may not recover.
Ginny latched on to his arm, and Harry pulled her upright, thankful it was his left arm she grabbed. Half supporting her, half dragging her, he left the Chamber, the stone entrance sliding silently shut behind him. By the time they had reached the rockslide he was all but carrying her.
"Ron!" Harry called. "I've got her -"
"Ginny? Is she okay?" Ron's worried face appeared in the sizable gap he'd managed to make in the rocks. He paled at seeing her exhausted state, and pushed an arm in to pull her through first. She slumped in his arms. "Harry! What's wrong with her?"
Harry pushed through. "I dunno," he lied, hiding the nasty feeling that he - that is, his spell - was at fault for her condition. "Just tired, I guess."
In the back of his mind, Slytherin radiated a sense of approval. Your lying could do with a bit of work, he remarked, but that will come with experience. It was good sense not to mention the spell.
Harry tried not to feel pleased by the praise but couldn't deny the warm feel it caused. He focused instead on something else.
"Hey, Ron - what happened to Lockhart?"
"Oh, that git?" Ron sounded distraught and distracted. "He's over there. The Memory Charm backfired, hit him instead of us. Hasn't got a clue who he is, and good riddance I say.
"But Harry," he continued, "how are we going to get out of here? Ginny needs the hospital wing."
And so do you, said Slytherin softly. That hand needs tending. The magnitude of the magic has deadened the nerves, but I assure you that you do not wish it left untended when the feeling returns.
Harry walked over to the pipe, staring up. But how do we get out?
You came down the pipe? He sounded amused. Think, boy. I chose a more dignified route for myself. Though to be fair, calling it a route is probably deceptive. Which way do you wish to go?
Harry frowned at the obvious question. Up.
Then do so.
Irritated, but realizing Slytherin was trying to get him to think again, Harry pondered the problem. A route that was not a route rather nixed the idea of stairs - and that would be one long stairway to reach from here to the third floor. And the emphasis on "up" reminded him of summoning a broomstick, bringing it up into your hand.
Suddenly Harry had a mental image of himself saying "up" and the floor rising at his order, and snickered. Oh, it was worth a try. Concentrating hard on the image of a snake, he hissed, "Up!"
The tunnel was illuminated in a stunning glow of magic, and a feeling like a hook latched onto Harry's navel, dragging him upward through the solid roof at blinding speed. Almost before he'd had time to register the change, Moaning Myrtle's bathroom came into view - beneath him - and the hook disappeared. He hit the ground on his backside with a painful thud, and groaned. But he wasn't the only one groaning.
Ron swore, cradling Ginny, who seemed to have passed out. "What was that for? Couldn't you have given us any warning?"
"I didn't think it would work," Harry said faintly, trying to keep his embarrassment out of his voice. He could feel Slytherin's amusement as he scrambled back to his feet.
Myrtle's head appeared through a stall wall, and she blinked at Harry. "You're alive."
"No need to sound so disappointed," he replied dryly, and shuffled out the door. He could feel the beginnings of pain igniting his hand already.
The halls were deserted and unsettlingly quiet as they hot-footed it to the hospital wing, as even the portraits they passed were silent; Harry noted with a sense of unease the strange looks they bestowed him - him, not his arm.
They sense a shift in your ambient magic. Do not worry, they will not comment.
Yes… Yours is a naturally wild magic, and my presence forces it to calm somewhat. He sensed Harry's alarm, and so continued. Calmer, it will be easier to control. It will be simpler for you to learn as such.
Harry still didn't like that his magic was being messed with, but he subsided, having come up to the door of the hospital wing. He took two strides forward and knocked.
There was a few seconds' pause before the doors cracked open and Madam Pomfrey's face appeared. "What is" -she caught sight of Harry's hand- "Mr. Potter! What have you done to that hand of yours? Get in here!"
She opened the door more wildly - and saw Ginny.
"Miss Weasley?" Madam Pomfrey glanced back at Harry and sighed. "Of course. Bring her in, Mr. Weasley. Professor Lockhart, go get the Headmaster, will you?"
Lockhart looked at her with a wide smile. "Oh, am I a Professor? Surely I must have been awful at it."
Even he realizes he's useless, thought Harry uncharitably, trotting to a bed.
"It's no use, Madam Pomfrey," said Ron, placing Ginny in another one. "A backfired Memory Charm, he hasn't even a clue who he is."
"Then go to the staff room yourself, Mr. Weasley," the mediwitch directed. "Headmaster Dumbledore is there, as are your parents." As Ron rushed out, she tapped Harry's hand with her wand. "Merlin, Mr. Potter, what did you do?"
"Spell backlash," he replied, wincing with every tap.
"That must've been one powerful spell," she remarked severely. "Now lie down while I get you some pain relief potion and burn salve."
Harry nodded meekly, relaxing into the bed. What he wouldn't give to go to sleep… but while his hand throbbed and stung like it did, he doubted he'd have much luck.
A moment later, Madam Pomfrey was back, with a foul-smelling blue concoction in one hand and a paste a Chudley Cannon shade of orange in the other. She put the paste on the bedstand, and offered the potion to Harry to drink. "Pain relief potion. It'll hold you over until I can treat your arm."
Harry took it, desperately hoping it didn't taste as bad as it smelled. Pinching his nose, he leaned back and downed it in one go.
Madam Pomfrey nodded in approval as he coughed and sputtered (it didn't take as bad as it smelled, it tasted worse) and bustled over to Ginny, brandishing her wand like a deadly weapon. The mediwitch took her pulse and temperature with deft flicks, frowning as she declared them normal. Then, as Harry watched, she gave the wand a complex movement, murmuring an incantation - and screamed.
What the hell?
Doubtless she has noted that the girl's magical ability is all but depleted.
Yeah… you said that earlier. Harry frowned. But why? What happened?
The was a pause. The girl was possessed and her magic harnessed by the entity of the diary at the time it was destroyed. The combination of spells used and the possession is what has caused her condition.
Then it's… my fault? Harry felt awful, at least until Slytherin swatted him again. It was a great deal softer than when in the Chamber, but still enough to garner his attention.
I have no idea where you gained this guilt complex, said Slytherin quietly, but rest assured I will break you of it. Before you drown yourself in misery, ponder this: had you not destroyed the diary, the girl would have died. Of her own stupidity even, for trusting an artifact she knew nothing of.
Harry winced, stung. But Slytherin had a point. Harry himself couldn't fathom just spilling out his soul to someone, let alone someone he didn't know.
At that moment the door flew open and a redheaded blur shot through, skidding to a stop by Ginny's bed - Molly Weasley. Mr. Weasley and Ron followed at a slightly more sedate pace, and Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall entered last.
Madam Pomfrey turned to the three Weasleys, babbling a mile a minute - something about a magical transfusion to jump-start Ginny's system and encourage the regeneration of her magical reservoir - but Professor Dumbledore paused in the entrance, sending a scrutinizing look at Harry, and walked over to his bed.
Harry felt disconcertingly like he was under an X-ray, like Dumbledore could see right through him, right into his mind. It was a feeling he often got from Snape - he felt Slytherin's sudden odd, muted anger - and feeling it now put him on his guard.
"Harry," Dumbledore began softly, "would you please tell me exactly what transpired while you were in the Chamber of Secrets."
Tread carefully, Slytherin warned. There was a note of tightly leashed fury in his tone. Refrain from any mention of me or the spells you used.
Slowly, haltingly, Harry began to recount the events past the rock slide in the passage leading to the Chamber. He described it in detail, leaving out - with Slytherin's prompting - his reactions. He told the headmaster what Riddle had revealed, offered him the diary, and then paused.
Professor Dumbledore inspected the diary, prodding the blackened pages with his wand, face thoughtful. "Oh, yes. Tom was indeed brilliant. One of the most brilliant students to go through Hogwarts, in fact," he remarked. "But I wonder, Mr. Potter; how did you destroy the diary?"
Harry swallowed. How was he supposed to answer that without mentioning the spells? Mentioning Slytherin? No lies, he said. No lies and no truth. So… what? An opinion? Or just… partly. Just like at the Dursleys, he reflected, even though Professor Dumbledore was about as far from Dursley as was possible to get.
"I'm not sure," he said slowly, leaning back into the pillow and closing his eyes, refreshing the feeling of the white-hot magic burning through his system. "It was just… I wanted him gone, I wanted Riddle gone. And" - he opened his eyes, staring down at his wand hand - "my magic reacted. It burned, really really bad, and my wand's all but reduced to ash" - Harry noticed the startled look that crossed Dumbledore's face - "but when it hit the diary, Riddle started screaming and twisting, and then he was gone."
"I see…" Professor Dumbledore speared him with a piercing look, and Harry knew the Headmaster knew he was hiding something. Hopefully he wouldn't push. "Is there… anything else you want to tell me?"
Suddenly he felt the urge to do just that, tell Dumbledore everything. But Harry swallowed and pushed aside the urge, having the oddest impression a seething Slytherin was assisting him. "There's not much else to tell," he said finally, looking away from the assessing gaze - strangely, the naked feeling abated somewhat. "I gathered up my wand and the diary, woke up Ginny and left. I didn't feel much like staying."
"Understandable." The Headmaster stood up. "Well, Harry, if you ever feel the need to speak to me, feel free to drop by my office."
Harry nodded - at Dumbledore's back, as the professor turned and strode over to Ginny's bed where stood guard a stunned and sobbing Mrs. Weasley. Madam Pomfrey turned to him from Mr. Weasley instantly, speaking at a rapid pace with much movement of her hands, a trait Harry recognized as a sign of nerves.
He found Ron looking at him uncertainly and beckoned him over.
"What's wrong?" he asked quietly, though he already knew the answer.
"Ginny," said Ron, pale-faced. "Whatever happened to her almost turned her into a Squib, Harry. Madam Pomfrey says she should recover her magic in time, but that it'll take years."
"Yeah. Said if we hadn't come straight here, she wouldn't've managed to treat her in time."
Harry couldn't really think of a reply to that, unless it was "I don't think she was meant to keep her magic at all." He certainly wasn't going to say that though….
"Harry," Ron began slowly, "what could do this? What could rip someone's magic away?"
Harry closed his eyes, feeling the thrum of Slytherin's presence in the back of his mind, silent and unhelpful. "Dark magic," he murmured, reopening then to give Ron a flat look. "The sort of magic that can take a person over. Possession and destruction."
The redhead looked slightly queasy and glanced over to his sister's bed, where Madam Pomfrey and Professor Dumbledore were deep in conversation. "I'm not going to ask what happened in the Chamber," he said suddenly. "Not yet. One of these days, you'll have to tell me, but for now…" He shook his head, shot Harry a wan smile, and walked back to Ginny's bed.
Your friend is more intelligent than I originally took him for.
Harry smiled slightly. He has his moments.
An odd ending, I know. But unless I planned on writing out the rest of CoS, during what not overly much changes (and that would just be boring), I had to stop it somewhere.