Dark Lord Potter

Chapter 26

Closing the Chamber

Wednesday, April 28th, Hogwarts Hospital Wing

Harry Potter wearily opened his eyes as he slowly awoke. He immediately regretted obtaining consciousness, though, as pain encompassed every part of his body. Harry's feet, legs, arms, and hands shook under the onslaught of vicious tremors; his chest felt as though it had been carved open and poorly patched back together while his face contorted in agony as tears began to cascade down from his bloodshot eyes. Unprepared for the sudden onslaught of agony, Harry opened his mouth to scream only to realize that the muscles in his mouth were in just as much pain as the rest of his body. The result was that instead of a scream, a low pitiful sounding moan echoed through the hospital wing.

Madam Pomfrey was upon him within moments, forcing some of the most disgusting potions he had ever tasted down his throat. While the muscles in his neck protested swallowing the heavy liquids, the potions' effects were almost immediate. The tremors slowed and the soreness around his chest and muscles dissipated.

"Thank you," Harry managed to wheeze out.

"It is quite alright Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey said compassionately.

"Why do I feel so…so terrible?" Harry croaked out. Seeing the look of utter disbelief on the matron's face Harry clarified, "I didn't feel like this last night in Dumbledore's office."

Madam Pomfrey let out a sigh before saying, "Mr. Potter, I was against the Headmaster taking you to his office last night; however, it was ultimately decided that it would be best to hear what happened before you forgot any details. As for why you felt better last night, I confess that was my doing. You were barely able to stand, let alone have a conversation. The after effects of the Cruciatus curse were already beginning to manifest, and in order to give you time to tell the Headmaster what happened, I pumped you full of enough potions to temporarily pacify a dragon."

Harry found himself momentarily annoyed at Madam Pomfrey, but quickly forced such thoughts out of his mind. It wouldn't do him any good to be upset with the matron of the hospital wing, especially when he needed her help. Instead he asked, "I don't suppose that you could drug me up like you did last night?"

Madam Pomfrey sent him a regretful look before saying, "No, Mr. Potter, that is not an option. I spent most of last night insuring that you wouldn't slip into a coma from all those potions, and I am not about to tempt fate a second time."

"Why does it hurt to speak?" Harry finally asked.

"The Cruciatus is indiscriminate with the damage it does to muscles and nerves, Mr. Potter. Your throat hurts because of the significant strain the curse placed upon your larynx. You also nearly bit your tongue in half," Madam Pomfrey said gently.

Harry wanted to scream in frustration as the memory of Tom Riddle holding him under the Cruciatus resurfaced. He felt the Gargoyle within him snarl in anger and disappointment at the way he was so swiftly and utterly defeated by the young Voldemort. The ease with which the sixteen year old Voldemort had fluidly batted away his attacks caused Harry to share in the Gargoyle's disappointment. Voldemort was powerful, there could be no disputing that. Even with Harry's natural affinity for magic, Voldemort was leaps and bounds a more accomplished duelist; his effortless display of silently casting powerful dark magic demonstrated that much.

"Mr. Potter, are you alright?" Madam Pomfrey asked, shaking Harry from his thoughts.

"Yes ma'am, just thinking," Harry replied honestly.

"I understand, Harry," Madam Pomfrey said earnestly, "Hopefully, you will be able to leave in a…"

"Get it away! Someone, HELP!"

Madam Pomfrey quickly turned her head towards the shouts and Harry gingerly twisted his neck to follow her line of sight. On the far side of the infirmary, Hermione's father was sitting upright in his bed, a bandage wrapped around his chest and head, the result of Harry's well aimed concussion hex. The reason for the Muggle's cries for help was the four and a half foot long snake that had risen up as high as it could from the floor in front of his bed.

Harry was too far away to hear what Salazar was angrily hissing to the Muggle, but he knew it was nothing flattering. Turning his head back to Madam Pomfrey, Harry saw her fingering her wand in preparation for the snake to strike. "Madam Pomfrey, please put the Soronus charm on me," Harry requested tiredly.

"What? Why?" Madam Pomfrey demanded momentarily shifting her attention back to Harry.

"My voice isn't strong enough to carry that far and I doubt you want Salazar to get into a fight with the muggle," Harry answered.

Madam Pomfrey looked hesitant but eventually said, "Very well, but only say what is necessary to get your serpent under control. That spell will put a strain on your already damaged vocal cords. Understood?"

At Harry's nod of acceptance, Madam Pomfrey quickly cast Soronus before again fixing her wand on the dangerous serpent that was apparently threatening her patient.

'SSSALAZAR,' Harry's magically enhanced voice boomed, the thunderous hissing heard throughout the hospital wing and well into the hallway outside, 'COME OVER HERE.'

Salazar shifted its gaze back and forth between Mr. Granger and Harry a few times before it angrily hissed at Mr. Granger one last time and slowly began slithering over to Harry.

Seeing that the snake was no longer an immediate threat to her other patient, Madam Pomfrey quickly removed the Soronus charm from Harry and informed him that it would be best if he refrained from speaking or at least spoke quietly for the next hour just to be safe. Turning around to go check up on Mr. Granger and the still unconscious Hermione, Madam Pomfrey found herself standing less than two feet away from Harry's familiar, who began hissing at her.

"He wants you to pick him up and put him on the bed," Harry said quietly.

Madam Pomfrey spun around and shot an incredulous look at her patient, who was fighting the urge to laugh.

Poppy quickly debated the pros and cons of leaving Mr. Potter with his familiar. She had seen the Headmaster personally levitate the snake out of the infirmary last night and the doors had not been opened since. Clearly the large serpent had found another way into the hospital wing. This unfortunately meant that even if she tossed the snake out, it could return and would most likely be a bit more irritated. Ultimately, she decided that she would rather know exactly where Mr. Potter's snake was than having it wandering around her infirmary. Sighing at the absolutely ridiculous notion that she was about to place a deadly serpent into a bed with an injured patient, Poppy levitated Salazar into Harry's bed with the instruction that it wasn't allowed to leave Harry's presence for any reason unless she was informed. As she walked over towards the Grangers, she couldn't help but look back and shiver slightly at the image of Harry Potter hissing to his familiar while gently caressing the snake's jet black scales.

Lucius Abraxas Malfoy was a man of many considerable talents. While attending Hogwarts, he used his family name, status, and considerable fortune to rise to the elite of Slytherin house. His head of house, Horace Slughorn, recognized his potential and introduced him to several important figures within the Wizengamot, Ministry, and the International Confederation of Wizards. Graduating as Head Boy in 1968 with seven NEWTs, the lowest being an EE, Lucius had several impressive job offers presented to him from practically every organization in Great Britain.

St. Mungos asked if he was interested in a healer's apprenticeship –he had laughed while reading the letter— the ministry had offered him the position of Head of the Department of Goblin Liaisons – he had burnt the letter, it wouldn't be acceptable for a Malfoy to be summoned by a Goblin– and representatives from the French and English ICW delegation had offered him a spot as a junior advisor –he had seriously considered these offers before rejecting both, he wouldn't antagonize either the French or English Ministry by selecting one over the other.

With a sizable trust account and no immediate plans for a job, Lucius left Great Britain and traveled to the continent. He spent a few months in the Malfoy summer homes in Paris and Florence, throwing parties for some acquaintances and influential wizarding families. In September of 1969, Lucius had enough of playing the role of wealthy scion to the Malfoy family and sought to make his own legacy. Throughout his years at Hogwarts, Lucius' ambition was twofold, to expand upon the already exuberant Malfoy fortune and to prove himself as a powerful wizard.

Using several contacts he had met during his well attended parties, Lucius began to heavily invest his trust account into several business opportunities, the results of which were highly lucrative. By December of 1970, Lucius had gained a reputation as a shrewd and cunning business man who always ended up on the winning side of any transaction; however, he did not command the kind of respect he once held over his fellow students at Hogwarts.

Surprisingly, it was a very old acquaintance that changed Lucius' life forever. Gerald Crabbe was three years older than him at Hogwarts, yet they had known each other from social gatherings for several years prior to attending school. It was at the Austrian Ministry Yule Ball that Lucius overheard Gerald loudly speaking about his exploits in the Central European Dueling Circuit to a large group of interested witches. Lucius had immediately pulled his old friend aside and asked him about the competition.

After a few tournaments, Lucius realized that competitive dueling was nothing like the formalized dueling club at Hogwarts. The wizards involved in the tournaments were among the most powerful and knowledgeable in all of Europe. Lucius quickly found himself outclassed in a world where someone who had taken almost fifteen months off from casting an offensive spell couldn't compete. After embarrassing defeats in Prague, Geneva, and Vienna, Lucius retreated back to his home in Paris and began to obsessively study all types of dueling magic. After almost a two year hiatus, he eventually resurfaced in Berlin during the summer of 1974. It was in Berlin that Lucius Malfoy showed himself as a truly powerful opponent. Using vicious curses like they were nothing more than Stunners, Lucius cut, burnt, froze, and electrocuted the competition. Lucius won the 1974 European Championship in Berlin; however, he also earned the attention of an observer. An observer by the name of Romulus Rosier.

Romulus was a legend in the European Dueling Circuit, winning four straight championships before being banned for accidentally killing too many of his opponents. After seeing Lucius' impressive victory in Berlin, he notified his master, the recently declared Dark Lord Voldemort about his discovery. It took less than a week for Voldemort to look into the dueling upstart's background and decide that he could use a young, clever, business savvy pureblood amongst his Death Eaters. He sent Rosier out to contact him.

Having no love for Muggleborns and hearing rumors of the Dark Lord's power, Lucius agreed to meet with Voldemort back in England. After one meeting with the charismatic Dark Lord, Lucius was all but foaming at the mouth to be marked as Voldemort's follower.

In 1975, Lucius permanently returned to England and began to buy influence in the Ministry of Magic. It started very small with little donations to young or mid-level ministry employees; however, by 1976, Lucius had an information network which spread through every Department in the Ministry. While Lucius proved himself as a valuable resource for inside information, it was his skill with a wand that earned him the Dark Lord's praise. After leading several attacks against Diagon Alley and notable blood traitors such as the Bones and Davis families, Lucius had risen into Voldemort's inner circle, joining Bellatrix Lestrange, nee Black, his former year mate in Slytherin, as the youngest members of said group.

It was, oddly enough, Lucius' loathing of Bellatrix Lestrange that brought about his betrothal. In an internal power play to frustrate his closest competition for the Dark Lord's favor, Lucius had written to Orion Black, head of the Black family, about courting young Narcissa Black as a future wife. Orion had quickly agreed and Lucius found himself taking the beautiful Hogwarts seventh year to the 1976 Yule Ball at the Ministry of Magic.

Lucius' intent was simply to unnerve and annoy Bellatrix so that she would make a mistake during a future mission for their lord; however, much to his astonishment, Narcissa proved to be a truly amazing companion. Not only did Narcissa subtly call him out on what his intentions were, but she willing played a part in Lucius' scheme to upset her sister. After a single night of dancing and plotting with Narcissa, Lucius knew he had found the one and asked his father to propose a marriage contract, which was quickly accepted.

Following Narcissa's graduation from Hogwarts in the spring of 1977, Lucius and Narcissa wed. To this day, Lucius could not imagine a more splendid affair than his wedding to Narcissa. His father had gone all out in preparation for his only son's wedding. The Minister of Magic himself presided over the ceremony while the Dark Lord, under polyjuice, sat in attendance. For Lucius, though, there were two Patronus worthy memories that night. The first was watching when Bellatrix, as Maid of Honor, was forced to bite her tongue so hard that blood began to pool out her mouth when the Minister asked if anyone had a reason for Narcissa and he not to be wed. The second was at the reception when his lord approached him and gave him one of the greatest gifts he would ever receive. It was a diary. A simple, leather bound diary with the words T. M. Riddle on the cover. After erecting a privacy ward and demanding an oath of silence, Voldemort informed him that the diary was a powerful object, created by the blackest of magic, and capable of restoring blood purity at Hogwarts. The Dark Lord had instructed Lucius to keep the diary safe at all costs. Lucius had never felt prouder, knowing that his lord trusted him with an object of such immeasurable power.

1981 was the pinnacle of life as far as Lucius was concerned. His son and heir, Draco, was already showing signs of magic, and more importantly, the tide of the war had completely shifted towards the Dark Lord following a series of devastating attacks against the Carmichael, Marchbanks, McNeil, and Prewett families. Lucius' ingenious donations towards the young and mid-level ministry employees were beginning to turn out amazing results as several of his bought politicians began escalating to the position of director in certain departments. Lucius was on top of the world…until Halloween.

Halloween was the day Lucius' life forever changed. The Dark Lord had become obsessed with a prophecy that a talented young Death Eater and friend of Narcissa's, Severus Snape, had informed him of. After several months of contemplation, Voldemort announced to the inner circle that the prophecy in question was about Harry Potter and that he had a spy in place that would allow him to pass the ancient magic which protected the family.

The Dark Lord set out that night to personally kill Harry Potter; however, something had gone horribly wrong. The Dark Lord had died. Word first reached Lucius about his Lord's death from a low level Ministry flunky. The boy, barely a year out of Hogwarts, had floo'd to ask if the rumors of the Dark Lord's death were true. Lucius had been so stunned at the question that he hadn't reacted; he merely started at the boy like he was mad.

After dismissing the young man, Lucius soon went out to find if the rumors were true and to his horror they were. Somehow the Potter brat reflected a killing curse, ending the life of the greatest sorcerer in the modern age. Several Death Eaters were in denial when told of their Lord's defeat, Bellatrix most notably; however, the quickly disappearing image of the dark mark told Lucius all he needed to know.

To make matters worse, the news about Sirius Black's betrayal broke on the 2nd of November, and Bellatrix launched a truly pointless attack on the Longbottoms the following day. Lucius knew that it would be open season on all Death Eaters now, and without his lord's powerful presence, he needed a plan to escape Azkaban. After a week of nervous planning, Lucius contacted every high ranking Death Eater that he trusted and explained his plan to escape prosecution.

Over the next few days, Lucius and two dozen other Death Eaters turned themselves in to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement after coming out of Imperius like trances. Lucius' trial was among the shortest, his bought politicians fearing that they would be implicated in giving information to Voldemort vouched for Lucius' character. He was set free with the court's sympathies. Even after the devastating defeat to his Lord, Lucius couldn't help but appreciate the look of annoyance on Albus Dumbledore's face as he read the Wizengamot's verdict.

Lucius did not allow the stigma of being one of the Dark Lord's follower's to stain his reputation, though. When the general election came about in 1984, Lucius put his money and name behind Cornelius Fudge, one of the first politicians he had ever invested in. When Fudge became Minister, Lucius reaped the benefits. Soon his name and the names of his fellow Death Eaters were back among the most influential and important in the Wizarding world. In 1985, Lucius had sat as the Minister's personal guest when Amelia Bones ascended to the rank of Head of the DMLE when seven years earlier he had personally claimed her older brother's life. By 1988, Lucius had become, along with Albus Dumbledore, Fudge's most important unofficial advisor.

Lucius took over as Head of the Malfoy family in 1990 when his father Abraxas was diagnosed with Dragon Pox at the age of 120 and was unable to continue his duties. At the age of 49, Lucius assumed the Malfoy family seat in the Wizengamot. Using his own powerful and charismatic presence, combined with his father's lifetime supply of blackmail on the senior members, Lucius quickly assumed leadership of one of the largest voting blocks in the Wizengamot. By taking control of a large standing political body in the Wizengamot, Lucius finally began to exert control over the one aspect in the Fudge regime where he was previously powerless.

Cornelius Fudge had often sought the advice of Albus Dumbledore not because he was a powerful wizard but because of the large voting block he represented in the Wizengamot. Fudge needed Dumbledore to have any chance at passing his laws. By formally representing another body in the Wizengamot, Lucius offered the Minister another option to pass his bills. Slowly, Lucius began to whittle away at Albus Dumbledore's established influence over Fudge and the Wizengamot. By the start of summer in 1991, Lucius had increased the number of traditionalists by six members while Albus Dumbledore's reformists had lost three members to the moderates and lost another member due to illness. Cornelius, seeing the slow shift back towards traditional wizarding values, had begun to turn to Lucius more for all political issues. Lucius was on top of the world during the summer of 1991 and nothing could shake him…well nothing except Harry James Potter.

Lucius must have cursed Harry Potter's name a thousand times between 1981 and 1984; however, as his influence and prestige returned, his thoughts drifted less and less towards his old master's vanquisher. It was therefore a shock when during a seemingly inauspicious trip to Diagon Alley, Draco had introduced him to The-Boy-Who-Lived.

The boy was small, certainly smaller than your average first year, and yet when Draco informed him about Harry's views on Muggles and his Parseltongue ability, Lucius couldn't help but be intrigued by the child. The closeness Harry seemed to have with Andromeda's daughter was worrisome –the filthy blood traitor had certainly filled her daughter with her twisted beliefs – but Lucius was willing to overlook the young girl for a chance at studying the legendary Boy-Who-Lived for a while longer. It was only after Harry Potter was chosen for the brother wand to the Dark Lord that Lucius accepted that the boy could hold true power someday, and Lucius would be damned if he wouldn't have a piece of that power.

Once he returned to Malfoy Manor, Lucius spoke long into the night with Narcissa and the two of them decided to have Draco invite Harry over later in the summer.

It was an unexpected and annoying sight to see Andromeda's daughter arrive by portkey with Harry; however, Lucius was not among the most skilled political leaders in the country for nothing. He easily adjusted his facial features and welcomed her happily.

Within the first few minutes of speaking with Nymphadora Tonks, it quickly became apparent that she had no idea that Narcissa was her mother's sister and Draco her cousin. After quickly writing a message and having an elf deliver it to Narcissa, Lucius put into action an impromptu plan that would not only bring Harry further onto his side, but would also damage the relationship Andromeda had with her daughter.

The plan went off without a hitch. Lucius and Narcissa fed their niece several well designed lies about her father ignorantly insulting the Dark Lord and then breaking protocol for a proper wizard's duel, forcing his magic to kill him. Later that night, Lucius couldn't help but laugh –like the Dark Lord would ever accept a wizard's duel from a mudblood. Not only did the story make Harry Potter see the folly of inviting uneducated muggleborns into the wizarding world, but little Nymphadora Tonks actually grew to resent her mudblood father.

Of course the crème de la crème of on the spot manipulations during Harry's birthday party was Narcissa's shocking statement that Lily Potter might not be a mudblood. Lucius had no idea what his wife was thinking when she brought up such an absurdly stupid notion, but her idea about having the boy perform a blood purity and talent's test was absolute genius. While the tests might kill the boy, if he survived, they would have a clearer idea of what Harry Potter's magical potential was.

It was rather simple to convince Harry, who obviously wanted to know more about his family, to take the test and to grant the Malfoys access to the results. There was nothing though that could have prepared Lucius or Narcissa for the results of the boy's test. Not only was Lily Potter a pureblood, but Harry Potter was the heir to several families and possessed several rare and powerful skills. It was only after leaving the ritual chamber that Lucius decided to support the boy. If trained and manipulated properly, Harry Potter could very easily become a rallying cry for the entire pureblood movement.

Needless to say, after one year at Hogwarts Lucius couldn't have been happier with the way in which Harry was acting. He was a Slytherin, had become best friends with Draco, had several confrontations with Dumbledore, and had befriended powerful neutral and light families such as the Zabinis and Bones to avoid painting himself as a future dark wizard. The only real flaw he saw in Harry's character was his reliance upon Andromeda's daughter; however, he could not see any immediate way of separating the two without damaging his own relationship with the boy. This problem only became more complicated when it became clear that Draco had also grown close to his half-blooded cousin.

During the summer after Draco and Harry's first year, Lucius had several ideas to slowly separate Harry from Nymphadora; however, a solution literally fell into his lap. It was clear following his stay at the Tonks' that Harry was less than thrilled with Andromeda's reaction to his and Nymphadora's relationship with the Malfoy family. It was easy to convince the impressionable young man that it was Andromeda's fault that their relationship had suffered.

After seeing Nymphadora at Harry's birthday party in the Leaky Cauldron, Lucius couldn't help but smile at the noticeable change in the girl. It was a clear case of teenage rebellion and an overprotective mother which was causing his niece to act out against Andromeda, and Lucius quickly used it to his advantage. Lucius praised the girl's resourcefulness for stealing a prized relic for Harry's birthday –earning the girl's admiration– and boldly defended her against her mother when Andromeda caught her attending the party.

It was easy to manipulate the girl against her mother. The fact that Andromeda understood what he was trying to do actually made Lucius' job easier. While Andromeda reacted to his manipulations by doing everything she could to keep her daughter away from a dangerous man, Lucius appeared like the sensitive and caring uncle who was merely trying to rationalize with Nymphadora's irate mother. Needless to say, Nymphadora Tonks was slowly coming to see Lucius as a protective father figure.

The summer passed easily and Lucius was able to continue his subtle manipulations of Harry Potter. Unfortunately, Lucius was so caught up in his own plans for Harry Potter, the Minister, the Wizengamot, and the Board of Governors that he failed to realize something important. Harry Potter was growing into a bright young Slytherin.

While the boy clearly didn't see or understand any of the intricate actions Lucius had taken to shape him into the cunning, powerful, young man he was becoming, Harry did have his own goals that he was pursuing. This was made all too apparent when Harry unintentionally foiled Lucius' plot to give the youngest Wealsey his master's old diary.

Lucius had waited well over a decade to put this plan in place, but finally everything was ready. With Harry and Draco as his eyes at Hogwarts and his place on the board of Governors secure, Lucius was ready to use his master's diary to resurrect the pure blood tradition at Hogwarts. The only problem Lucius had was a suitable target to give the diary to. Fate, however, chose to bless him during a trip to Diagon Alley.

Lucius had never liked Arthur Weasley. No, dislike was far too positive a word. Lucius loathed Arthur Weasley. In fact Arthur Weasley could easily be described as the antithesis of Lucius Malfoy. While Lucius was rich, ambitious, and powerful, Arthur was poor, content with a low paying job, and possessed average magical power. Arthur's ability to remain content with his pathetic existence was an incomprehensible scenario for Lucius. Normally, Lucius would have ignored such a peon of the wizarding world; however, Arthur's position as the de-facto Muggle-protector at the Ministry earned him Lucius' ire. In fact, if it wasn't for Dumbledore protecting the Weasley family, Lucius would have had the man killed years ago.

Needless to say, Lucius was disappointed with Harry protecting Arthur's daughter, yet with the diary still in place at Hogwarts, Lucius allowed Harry to play his games with the Weasley girl.

Draco and Harry's second year at Hogwarts progressed as anticipated. Despite the fact that his over-priced solicitor was unable to get Harry's guardianship usurped from Albus Dumbledore, Lucius was able to become Harry's financial guardian with the Goblins. It was purely a ceremonial position as the Goblins still managed the funds; however, the prestige that came with being in charge of The-Boy-Who-Lived's fortune more than made up the court cost –not to mention the damage to Dumbledore's reputation.

The only thing at Hogwarts that wasn't going to plan was the lack of a pureblood resurgence. By the start of December, Lucius was almost positive that the Granger girl had either lost or not used his master's diary. The mere thought that Potter had lost possibly the most valuable gift Lucius had ever been given by his lord was blood-boiling. Lucius was planning on teaching The-Boy-Who-Interfered a well deserved lesson in dueling over the Christmas holiday when the rumors of the Chamber of Secrets opening first reached Lucius' ears.

Lucius had written to Draco and, much to his surprise, found that the petrification of the mudblood Creevey was not the first time the students had heard of the Chamber that year. After scolding Draco for keeping things from him over the Christmas holiday, Lucius forced Dumbledore to admit to the Board of Governors about the Chamber's existence. The frequency of the attacks over the course of the year, combined with the fuss Lucius made over Draco's assault and subsequent polyjuicing, insured Dumbledore's suspension.

By the end of May, Lucius was positive that Hogwarts would be temporarily closing. His master's promise of a pureblood resurgence was quickly becoming a reality as half-bloods and mudbloods were struck down by the 'monster' within the Chamber of Secrets. Lucius was so assured of Hogwart's closure that he began subtly revealing a plan to sympathetic school governors about the possibility of re-opening the school the following year without mudbloods.

It was therefore with a triumphant feeling that Lucius received a floo call from Hogwarts stating that a mudblood had been taken into the Chamber by the heir of Slytherin and that the school would be closing. What Lucius had not anticipated was that the news of the school's closure would panic the neutrals on the Board of Governors. In an emergency vote, the Board of Governors re-instated Dumbledore to the position of headmaster. Upon arriving at Hogwarts, Lucius was met by Dumbledore and informed that Harry had disappeared, presumably into the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry's reemergence from the Chamber of Secrets with the Granger girl was among the most frustrating nights of Lucius' life. Not only did Harry manage to stop the Basilisk, but worst of all, the Granger girl survived the ordeal. Lucius was certain that within a few weeks of sorting through the girl's memories, Dumbledore would have figured out who was responsible for giving the mudblood his master's diary. It was now a race against time to find a suitable scapegoat.

Saturday, May 1st, Hogwarts

It had taken three days of swallowing the vilest tasting potions, being poked and prodded with a wand, and countless healing spells before Harry was released from the hospital wing. The after-effects of the Cruciatus had only lasted thirty-two hours, but Madam Pomfrey was apparently set against letting him go until she was satisfied that he was 100 percent healed.

Harry had planned on spending his first day free from the hospital wing finding out what the rumors were regarding what happened to him in the Chamber. He knew that Draco and Blaise, as his two closest friends, were probably being asked to confirm any ridiculous things being spread. Hopefully, they were dutifully taking note of what the Hogwarts population seemed to believe.

As Harry turned the corner towards the entrance to the dungeons, any thoughts of meeting with Draco and Blaise quickly vanished. Striding up from the dungeons was a very determined looking Lucius Malfoy. The narrowing of Lucius' eyes and the quickening of his pace told Harry that he was the reason for Lucius' voyage into Hogwarts' dungeons. Harry took a moment to take in the appearance of his best friend's father. Lucius' normally perfect robes were slightly wrinkled and the small lines under his eyes told the story of someone who had been very busy and not gotten a lot of sleep of late.

"You're up," Lucius noted.

Caught off guard by Lucius' blasé tone, Harry simply replied, "I am."

"Good," Lucius said before thrusting an invisibility cloak at Harry.

Harry took one look at the cloak before asking, "How did you get this?"

"It was placed on top of your trunk in one of our guest bedrooms at Malfoy Manor. Now be silent and follow me," Lucius instructed before tapping his head with his wand.

Harry watched as Lucius' body slowly faded from sight, leaving only a slightly visible haze where his body previously stood. Harry followed the slight visual distortion down to the lowermost level of the dungeons and into an unused Potions classroom.

Once inside, Harry heard a voice call out, "I say who's there?"

Harry turned around and saw a lone portrait of a wizard brewing a potion looking around the room suspiciously. The only response the portrait received though was a yellow bolt of magic striking it, causing the wizard in the picture to yell out in horror as the canvas immediately burnt away, giving the wizard no time to flee to another picture.

"What spell was that?" Harry asked after removing his invisibility cloak.

"Be silent," Lucius replied icily. "Muffliato, colloportus."

"Alright, what's going on?" Harry demanded.

"I just wanted to have a chat, Harry, one that the esteemed Headmaster of this institution wouldn't find out about," Lucius replied silkily.

Harry just looked to the remains of the portrait and back to Lucius before a feeling of dread hit him. "Do the portraits report to the headmaster?"

"Indeed," Lucius replied coolly.

Harry had to hold back the bile that was quickly trying to make its way up his throat. He and Salazar had killed Lockhart in view of a portrait. He didn't remember much about it other than passing it on the way to Myrtle's bathroom. Did it already tell Dumbledore? Had it actually seen or heard anything? If it did, why wasn't Dumbledore grilling him about Lockhart's death?

"I suppose you're wondering why I found it so important that we speak uninterrupted," Lucius commented, snapping Harry back to the reality of his situation.

"Yes," Harry answered as he fingered his wand in his pocket. He was sure Lucius wouldn't…attack him, but the Gargoyle in him was practically screaming caution.

Lucius' pale grey eyes held no sympathy or compassion; instead, they showed anger and resentment. After what seemed like an eternity, Lucius finally said, "We must find a way to curb your Gryffindor tendencies, Potter."

"What?" Harry replied confused.

"Think, boy!" Lucius barked out.

"I don't understand," Harry countered testily.

"You let the mudblood bitch live," Lucius snarled cruelly.

"Herm…Granger? What does she have to do with…"

"Everything boy, she is the key to everything! The old man has certainly already gotten a copy of her memories from the summer. I don't think I need to tell you that it will be bad for the both of us when the headmaster finds what he is looking for," Lucius hissed.

Harry could only nod his head. If the headmaster discovered he was responsible for the entire ordeal, things being bad for him would be the understatement of the century. "Do you have a plan?" Harry asked hopefully.

"I do," Lucius responded curtly.

"What do you need me to do," Harry asked hesitantly.

"To listen and follow my orders without question," Lucius demanded.

Harry nodded his head in resignation and listened to Lucius' plan.

Sunday, May 9th, Headmaster's Office

"Hello Harry, don't bother taking a seat," Dumbledore said as soon as Harry entered the room.

Harry nodded his head and watched as the Headmaster levitated a large crate off the floor and into the air behind him.

"I believe that it is time we deal with the issue of the Basilisk under the school," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling.

"Oh…yeah, I guess we should," Harry said, slightly relieved.

"I must say I am looking forward to seeing the Chamber of Secrets," Dumbledore said as he levitated a large crate and walked out of his office, Harry following behind him.

"Sir, can I ask what is in the box?" Harry asked.

"But of course, Harry," Dumbledore said with his usual twinkle.

Seeing that the headmaster wasn't about to elaborate, Harry asked, "Sir, what is in the box?"

"Why, roosters, of course. The crow of a rooster is the easiest way to kill a Basilisk, after all," Dumbledore said, smiling brightly.

Harry said nothing more as he tried to wrap his mind around the fact that a giant snake's greatest weakness came from a bird no bigger than a foot.

The remainder of the trip to the girls' bathroom was silent, except for Dumbledore whistling pleasantly as if he went to go kill a sixty foot snake every other day.

When they entered the bathroom, Harry led Dumbledore over to the entrance of the Chamber and hissed, "Open."

When the wall had finished opening, Dumbledore smiled and said, "I haven't been on a slide in over seventy years, Harry. I will see you at the bottom."

Harry was about to tell him to wait, but Dumbledore had already jumped down the pipe and his laughter echoed back up to the bathroom.

The man is most certainly insane, Harry thought before hissing, "Stairs."

A few minutes later, Harry reached the bottom of the staircase and found Dumbledore smiling brightly, his robes covered in filth from the pipe.

"I must admit that I did not expect for the grime on the pipe to be magically resistant to the Scourgify charm," Dumbledore said with a smile.

"I was going to tell you that there were stairs, sir," Harry said as he gestured to the staircase that he had just used.

"Hmm, I must admit that even had I known, I would have used the pipe. I haven't had that much fun in some time," Dumbledore replied.

Harry could only shake his head as he led Dumbledore to the entrance to the chamber.

"The Basilisk is through here," Harry said.

"Ah, of course, if you will give me one moment before you open the door, Harry," Dumbledore said as he opened the crate full of Roosters.

Harry leaned in slightly, wondering what magic Dumbledore was about to perform.

"Imperio," Dumbledore said strongly, causing Harry to gawk at the headmaster.

"I take it that you understand what this spell does, now," Dumbledore said knowingly.

"Yes sir, but I thought it carried a lifetime sentence in Azkaban if you used it," Harry said.

"Normally that is the case, Harry; however, using the Imperiuscurse on an animal does not require the emotional intent that the curse requires on a more intelligent being. I would have rather used any other spell, but only the Imperius curse will make certain that they crow when I tell them to," Dumbledore explained patiently.

"I don't understand. Emotional intent?" Harry asked faking ignorance.

"The Unforgivables are so named because while there are many dark spells that can cause harm, these three require a person to want to cause the spell. For the Imperius, the person casting the spell on another human being must want to totally control them. That emotional intent is not required when placing the spell on an animal, however," Dumbledore explained as he took out a blindfold and tied it around his eyes.

"So, does that mean using the Unforgivables on animals is…legal?" Harry asked hesitantly as Dumbledore began tying a blindfold around his eyes.

"Unfortunately, Harry, it is. The law only states the Unforgivables carry a sentence in Azkaban when they are used on another sentient being. It is a terrible inconsistency in the law that has allowed many dark wizards to practice these horrid spells with impunity," Dumbledore said gravely. "Now, Harry, please open the door."

After taking a moment to digest all that Dumbledore had just told him, Harry hissed 'Open' in parseltongue.

"It's open, sir," Harry said.

"Excellent. Is the Basilisk nearby?" Dumbledore asked.

'Hello? Are you here?' Harry called out.

There was a slight rumbling before a loud hissing responded, 'Isss that old man the best you can find for me to eat? The man looksss sssick.'

"It's here sir, and it thinks I brought you for it to eat," Harry replied.

"Oh dear. Well, I suppose I should stop it before I become lunch. Crow!" Dumbledore commanded, causing the six roosters under the curse to immediately crow.

While Harry could not see the Basilisk due to the poor lighting, he was able to hear the creature scream out in agony for what seemed like an eternity before there was a loud thump as it died.

"I think it's dead," Harry said.

"Agreed," Dumbledore said as he took off his blindfold. "I believe that you have enough bad memories of this place, Harry. I can have Fawkes take Severus back here to collect any necessary ingredients from the Basilisk."

"Sir, Mr. Malfoy told me that the scales of a Basilisk were very valuable. Do you think that I might be able to keep some?" Harry asked.

"Do not worry, Harry, typically when a dangerous magical creature is killed, the person who kills it is allowed to do with the creature as he wishes. Mr. Malfoy was rather insistent that since we would not be able to reach the Chamber of Secrets without your help that you be given at least half of all items which could be sold commercially. Since Basilisks are very rare, I dare say you have just increased your already large family fortune. I would also suggest not selling the Basilisk scales. They can be used to craft very magically resistant armor. With Voldemort still alive, you should take all precautions," Dumbledore said.

"I'll remember that, sir," Harry said.

Tuesday May 11th, Great Hall

Harry, Draco, and Blaise entered the Great Hall and made their way to the Slytherin table.

"So, did your father get us permission to be there when they wake Tonks and Ginny up?" Harry asked.

Draco put some sausage onto his plate before saying, "Father took care of it. He said it was actually easier than he thought. The Governors were told what really happened and they are happy that you were able to save Granger and stop the Basilisk from attacking. I personally can't imagine why they are glad she didn't die, but they are."

"Gee, I wonder why the Board is glad that a student didn't die, Draco. Could it be because it would hurt the school's reputation?" Blaise said sarcastically.

"So what time are we supposed to go to the Hospital wing?" Harry asked.

Draco unfolded a letter and a moment later said, "After our last lesson."

The three boys fell into a comfortable silence as they ate their breakfast. Soon though, Blaise announced that it was time to go to Herbology, and they got up and left the Great Hall.

When Harry entered the greenhouse, the first thing he noticed was Hermione sitting at a desk with Neville going over a Herbology book.

"Ohhh no, she's still here," Draco said as soon as he saw Hermione.

Harry had to physically stop himself from hitting Draco as the Gargoyle snarled in anger at the insult.

"Piss off, Malfoy," Neville spat.

Draco faced Neville and dismissively said, "Be silent, squib. I want to know what the mudblood is still doing here. Do your parents care so little about you that they actually decided to let you attend a school where you almost died?"

"Leave Hermione alone, Draco," Harry growled out, alleviating himself of the headache the Gargoyle was causing.

"Mr. Malfoy, that will be thirty points from Slytherin. If you continue to bother either Mr. Longbottom or Ms. Granger, it'll be detention for the rest of the year! Now take your seat," Sprout said angrily as she entered the room.

"Blood traitor," Draco muttered as the professor turned her back, "and what the hell was that, Harry?"

"Just leave Hermione alone," Harry said seriously.

After shooting his friend a very suspicious glance, Draco huffed and walked over to his seat.

Harry and Blaise rolled their eyes at Draco's attitude and took their seats near the back of the room. Harry had just put his things down when he was joined by a red faced Neville.

"You alright?" Harry asked.

"She shouldn't have to put up with him, especially after what happened to her," Neville replied with a little bark to his voice.

"Are you talking about Herm…Granger?" Harry asked.

"No, I'm talking about Nott. Of course Hermione," Neville said sarcastically

"Aren't we testy this morning, Longbottom." Harry said with a smirk.

"She almost died, Potter," Neville said incredulously, "She shouldn't have to put up with him in her first class."

"Hmm," Harry said neutrally.

As if sensing that Harry didn't have a comeback, Neville decided to keep talking. "Hermione told me what really happened," he said, causing Harry to look up from his Herbology book.

"Did she?" Harry asked.

"Yeah. I dropped off her homework while she was still in the hospital wing. When I gave it to her, she acted like everything was fine so I left. I was halfway back to the Gryffindor common room when I realized that I accidentally gave her my library book. It was almost curfew so I rushed back to the hospital wing. When I entered the hospital wing, I found Hermione trying to do the animation charm that we learned in February…she couldn't do it, and she started to cry. I didn't know what else to do, so…so I gave her a hug. When she finished crying, she told me all about You-Know-Who's diary and how he was possessing her. I told her that I didn't blame her for what happened, but that she should keep it to herself. She told me that you knew what really happened," Neville said very quietly.

"I know what happened, but why couldn't she do the animation charm?" Harry asked truly curious.

"She…she told me that she has blank spots. She can't remember ever learning the charm," Neville said sadly.

"Really?" Harry asked, suddenly realizing that Lucius' plan might not be the only option available to him.

"I've been tutoring her the last week to catch her up on everything for her Herbology final. I know McGonagall, Flitwick, Snape, and even Dumbledore have been trying to help her, but because it's so close to exams they don't have a lot of time. She's really nervous that even if her parents let her come back, she'll have ruined her grades," Neville admitted.

"So that's why this is her first class then? She's just now catching up," Harry said more to himself than to Neville.

"Exactly, she's been killing herself trying to catch up. That's why I don't want Draco to bother her now. Can you please talk to him?" Neville practically begged.

"No problem Neville, I'll talk to him after class," Harry said honestly.

Neville paled suddenly and blurted out, "Don't tell him what I told you."

Harry couldn't help but grin at Neville. "What do you mean?"

"Harry, please. Don't tell Malfoy about Hermione having trouble remembering stuff. It would kill her if people found out. You know how she is about school," Neville said adamantly.

After a moment's pause, Harry said, "Very well."

Neville appraised Harry for a few seconds before saying, "Thanks."

Harry spent the rest of Herbology taking notes about what to expect on his end of year exam. When the class ended, Harry quickly gathered his things and made his way over to Hermione and Draco's table. "Draco let's go, I need to talk to you about something," Harry said.

"I agree the smell in this part of the greenhouse is particularly bad," Draco said as his eyes flashed to Hermione, who looked like she was torn between crying and hexing him.

"Whatever, Draco. Let's go," Harry said before quickly exiting the greenhouse with Draco and Blaise following him. Harry led the two other Slytherins to a secluded section of the grounds.

"What are we doing over here, Harry? This is almost in reach of the Whomping Willow," Blaise said curiously.

Harry quickly looked around, took out his wand, and said, "Sorry Blaise I need to talk to Draco in private. Stupefy."

The stunning spell caught Blaise completely off-guard and hit him squarely in the chest.

"Did you have to stun him?" Draco asked.

Harry didn't answer, he just waved his wand in a circle. When he finished a silver dome formed around the three boys before vanishing.

"What was that?"

"Privacy spell. Even though you can't see it, there is an invisible dome surrounding us. Anyone who is close enough to hear us will only hear a buzzing sound in their ears," Harry said.

"Why did you stun Blaise then? If he wouldn't have been able to…" Draco asked.

"Draco, what I'm about to tell you stays between us, understand? Your father knows, but he isn't going to be telling anyone," Harry said.

"Alright," Draco said slowly.

"Draco, you know how your Dad told you how Granger was actually being possessed by the Dark Lord?" Harry asked.

"Yes," Draco replied hesitantly.

"What your father didn't tell you is that the book that allowed the Dark Lord to possess Hermione was a book he owned. Your father tried to give it to Ginny in Diagon Alley when we saw her in the bookstore," Harry said.

"What," Draco said horrified.

"Obviously, Ginny didn't get the diary. I saw what your father did and took it out of her cauldron," Harry said.

"Thank Merlin you did, Harry. If Ginny had been…wait, how did Granger get it, then?" Draco asked.

"I gave it to her when your father and Arthur Weasley were fighting," Harry said.

Draco looked at Harry for a second before laughing. "Oh Harry, that's too good, way to stick it to the mudblood," he said.

The Gargoyle's rage quickly overwhelmed him and Harry slashed his wand sending a jet of fire directly at Draco's face. Draco had to immediately dive to the ground to avoid having his face scorched.

While Draco was doing his best to avoid being cooked, Harry viciously slammed the Gargoyle back in his mind and tried to gain some resemblance of control. As Draco was picking himself up off the dirt, Harry managed to subdue his volatile Animagus.

"What the hell is your problem!" Draco snarled as soon as he was up.

"Shut up," Harry practically hissed, "Draco, this isn't funny. Dumbledore is trying to help Hermione figure out who gave her the diary. Hopefully, he won't ever figure out who gave it to her, but if he does, both your father and I will be in serious trouble."

Draco paled as he realized the seriousness of the situation. "So…what exactly do you need to talk to me about?" he asked.

"I'm going to help Hermione pass her finals, and I need you to mail this to your father," Harry said as he presented a folded piece of parchment to Draco.

"Huh?" Draco asked confused.

"Neville told me today that Granger has blank spots from when the Dark Lord possessed her. Apparently both Flitwick and McGonagall are trying to catch her up, but they don't have a lot of free time with it being so close to finals. I figured if I help her, as well as any other student that was petrified, I can always tell Dumbledore that I didn't know the diary was dangerous, and that someone else gave it to me. Hopefully he'll see my helping of Hermione as me feeling bad for what I inadvertently caused," Harry said, refusing to admit, even to himself, that a part of him was trying to make it up to Hermione.

Draco nodded his head. "Yeah…yeah that's a good idea. Why do I need to mail my father a blank piece of parchment for you though?"

"It's not blank, Draco, just charmed so that only he can read it. Besides, if I sent a letter to your father it would look suspicious, but if you do it…" Harry trailed off knowing that Draco had gotten the point.

"I suppose you're right. Can you tell me what this says, though?" Draco asked holding up the blank piece of parchment.

Harry gritted his teeth as he felt the Gargoyle's annoyance at being questioned…again. "Basically, it tells your dad what I'm planning to do and to work it into his plan."

Draco nodded his head at the vague answer and seeing that his friend was starting to get bothered at his questions simply said, "Very well, I'll go to the Owlery now. Save me a seat at lunch. Oh, and don't forget to enervate Blaise."

Harry nodded his head and watched as his friend quickly walked back towards the castle entrance. He took his wand out and canceled the privacy spell before pointing it at Blaise, saying, "Enervate."

Blaise woke up with a slight gasp of air. "What the hell, Potter!" Blaise snapped before reaching back and rubbing his head where it hit the ground.

"Sorry, Blaise," Harry said as he gave him a hand up.

"You know you could have just asked for some privacy," Blaise grumbled.

"True, but if someone saw me tell you that I had to talk to Draco in private, they might have tried to find out what I was keeping secret," Harry pointed out.

"Still," Blaise said as he started looking around. "Wait, where is Draco?" he asked.

"He's going to send a letter," Harry said.

"I don't suppose you're going to tell me what the letter is about - or will following that line of questioning get me obliviated?" Blaise said sarcastically.

"Please, Flitwick said I can't learn the memory charm till next year," Harry said with a smirk that Blaise was a little intimidated by.

"Merlin help us when you do learn how to obliviate people," Blaise muttered quietly to himself.

Great Hall, Hogwarts

Harry and Blaise entered the Great Hall and found Draco already at the Slytherin table.

"Finished already?" Harry said challengingly, the underlying threat of what would happen if Draco procrastinated sending the letter was obvious.

"Your elf was kind enough to get the letter to father," Draco said.

"And how long has my elf been acting as your express owl for you?" Harry asked after sitting down.

"She apparently sensed that you needed a letter taken. I was actually surprised when she popped into our dorm room, but it saved me a trip to the owlery," Draco said.

"It takes a really smart elf to sense their master's needs," Blaise commented.

Harry smirked; he was again pleased by his selection in a servant.

"Do you think Salazar could eat Dobby and pick out a better elf as a replacement?" Draco asked curiously, causing Harry to laugh and Salazar to poke his head out of Harry's robes.

'What doesss the rabbit want?' Salazar asked.

'Nothing my friend. He just wantsss to know if you would eat hisss houssse elf and pick out a good one for him like you did for me,' Harry replied.

'I will not eat an elf, but I will pick out a pathetically weak elf for the rabbit if given the chance,' Salazar hissed as he slid back down into Harry's robes.

"Sorry Draco, I wouldn't count on Salazar helping you out unless you want him to pick out the weakest elf in the lot," Harry said with a broad smile.

"Like I would want that fat snake picking an elf for me anyway…" Draco grumbled as he stabbed a piece of chicken with his fork.

Harry stopped listening to Draco though when he saw professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, and Flitwick enter the Great Hall. Deciding that this would be his best chance to speak to them, he got up and met them just before they reached the staff table.

"Professors, may I have a word in private?" Harry said courteously.

"Must you interrupt our lunches, Potter? After all, we only get a few breaks a day to enjoy a conversation away from students," Snape drawled.

"Severus, what kind of educators would we be though if we didn't make ourselves available to our students?" Dumbledore said with a smile.

"Headmaster, don't you think allowing Potter to pull three heads of house and the headmaster into an impromptu meeting during our lunch hour will only cause his inflated ego to expand?" Snape said bluntly.

"Now, now, Severus, I'm sure whatever Harry needs to tell us will be important," Dumbledore said.

"It had better, Potter, or else I'll have you scrubbing cauldrons for the last two weeks of term," Snape said menacingly.

"It is important, sir, is there a place nearby we can talk in private?" Harry asked.

"Of course, Harry, follow me," Dumbledore said.

Harry, Flitwick, McGonagall, and Snape followed Dumbledore into a side door to behind the staff table. The room was about the same size as a standard classroom, but instead of desks it had a modest sized table in the middle.

"Please take a seat. Tipsee!" Dumbledore called out.

There was a slight pop and a house elf appeared. "Yes, Professor Dumblydore?"

"Tipsee if you could bring some lunch for professors Snape, McGonagall, and Flitwick, as well as for Mr. Potter and I, that would be splendid," Dumbledore said.

"Oh, right away, headmaster," Tipsee said as she disappeared. A few moments later, several elves appeared in the room, set the table, and had several plates of food in front of everyone.

"Well, Severus, at least you won't miss lunch now," Flitwick said happily.

"True, but the company is still suspect," Snape said as he glared at Harry.

"Now, now, Severus, be sociable. What did you wish to speak to all of us about, Mr. Potter?" Dumbledore asked.

"Er…well, sir, Neville told me that Hermione has blanks spots in her memory, is that true?" Harry asked.

Dumbledore appeared to hesitate before saying, "Indeed it is Harry. I have found no way of recovering her memories."

"I-I'd like to help, sir," Harry said slowly.

"Arrogance! Surely you all can see it. He is just like his father! Do you believe you can do a better job at returning Granger's memories than the headmaster, Potter?" Snape spat.

"Well, sir, I wasn't talking about returning her memories," Harry barked back angrily as the table and all the contents on it started to rattle.

"Harry, Severus, both of you need to calm down. Harry, remember what happened the last time you lost control of yourself," Flitwick said seriously.

Both Harry and Snape quickly did their best to calm themselves at the reminder of Harry's destruction of the Hospital Wing.

"How do you want to help Miss Granger, Harry?" Dumbledore asked trying to refocus the conversation.

"Neville told me that a lot of teachers are busy because finals are getting closer. Since professor McGonagall and Flitwick are both busy I'd like permission to tutor her in Charms and Transfiguration," Harry said.

"I was of the opinion you and Ms. Granger didn't get along, Harry?" McGonagall said almost daring him to challenge her on the fact.

"Well…I don't really like her, but I don't want her to fail out," Harry lied. He could practically feel the Gargoyle smirking in the back of his mind at that statement.

"And when did this new opinion of Ms. Granger appear?" McGonagall asked shrewdly.

"Probably around the time I saw the Dark Lord possessing her," Harry said, ending any further protest by McGonagall.

"Well, I have no problem with you helping Ms. Granger, Harry, but you certainly don't need our permission to offer your help to her," Dumbledore said calmly.

"But I do. I need you to make Hermione accept my help. We don't really get along and she'd probably think I am just going to spend the time insulting her or something," Harry said.

"Are you, Mr. Potter? Because if you are, I will tell you right now…" McGonagall said sharply.

"I won't, ma'am, I'll even ask Neville to come along and help. I think he's helping her in Herbology anyway," Harry said.

"Why?" Snape asked after everyone was silent for a moment.

"What do you mea…" Harry started.

"You're a Slytherin, Potter. As much as I hate to admit it, you don't do things because it's the right thing to do. You have an ulterior motive and I want to know what it is," Snape demanded.

When Harry saw that Flitwick, Dumbledore, and McGonagall were thinking along the same lines as Snape, Harry said, "I plan on tutoring Tonks and Ginny as well in order to catch them up. Since tutoring at least three people in all different year levels in more than one subject will be incredibly time consuming and difficult, I was hoping that it could count as my tutoring for next year," he said hoping that they would believe that.

"What?" Flitwick asked the question everyone was thinking.

"Do you think I like helping annoying Gryffindors who can't do a proper levitation charm? I don't ever want to tutor someone I can't stand ever again," Harry said with some bite in his voice.

"Harry, you do realize that tutoring is optional, don't you?" Dumbledore asked sounding confused.

"Of course I do," Harry snapped with irritation. "But I know if I don't do it, certain people would never let me live it down as well as remind me every day for the rest of the year," he said making sure everyone noticed he was looking at Snape.

"Very well Harry. You are probably running late to your next class; why don't you let myself and your professors take a moment to think about it. I will send an elf to let you know our decision soon," Dumbledore said.

"Thank you, sir," Harry said as he got up and exited the room.

As soon as the door was closed, Snape said, "He's lying."

"About what? You constantly reminding him of his dereliction of duty by not tutoring people or his reason for wanting to tutor Ms. Granger?" Dumbledore asked fixing Snape with a penetrating stare.

"Both," Snape said bluntly.

"Please, Severus, you wouldn't even let the boy explain himself before you called him arrogant," Flitwick snapped, defending his favorite student.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with Severus, Filius. Mr. Potter is lying to us about why he wants to tutor Ms. Granger," McGonagall said.

"How can you be certain, Minerva? Perhaps seeing Ms. Granger being possessed by Voldemort did in fact cause Harry to rethink his opinions," Dumbledore said.

"Albus, the boy used a very dangerous spell against Ms. Granger's father not five minutes after rescuing her from the Chamber of Secrets! He has not changed his opinions about muggleborns and Muggles. I don't know why he wants to tutor Ms. Granger, but he has an ulterior motive," McGonagall said.

"Perhaps, Minerva, but if Harry is serious it would only help the girl. Let's all be honest, we do not have the time to catch Hermione up on everything she missed. Our schedules are too tight this late in the semester. Harry has the time to give to her, and if we approach Mr. Longbottom to make sure that Harry is staying polite, then we should consider this," Flitwick said.

"I suppose you have a point, Filius, but I can't help but wonder why Mr. Potter truly wants to do this," McGonagall said.

"I believe this is a situation where we must consider that the good Mr. Potter's help would bring Ms. Granger outweighs whatever ulterior motive Harry might have," Dumbledore said pensively.

"Very well Albus, but I don't like it," McGonagall said.

Defense Against The Dark Arts Classroom, Hogwarts

Harry opened the door to the defense classroom only to hear a gruff voice say, "No, no, no, no, no! Merlin, didn't Lockhart teach you lot anything this year?"

"Actually, professor, he didn't," Harry said with a smirk.

The man turned around and Harry instinctively dropped to the ground to avoid the spell that shot out of the man's wand.

"Stupefy!" Harry shouted from the floor.

"Protego," the man barked, deflecting the spell.

"Serpensortia," Harry said as a jet black snake shot out of his wand towards the man; however, the man simply waved his wand and the black serpent disappeared in a puff of smoke.

"Stupefy, Impedimenta, Expelliarmus, Stupefy!" the man barked, sending spell after spell at Harry.

Harry dove out of the way of the first two spells before shouting "protego" to shield himself from the last two; however, much to Harry's shock, the disarming spell broke his shield charm and a moment later the stunning caused him to be knocked unconscious before he hit the floor.

"Ugh, my head," Harry groaned when he woke up.

"Up you go, Potter," the man said as he roughly grabbed Harry's arm and pulled him onto his feet.

Once Harry was back on his feet, he got his first look at his attacker. Every inch of the man's face and skin seemed to be scarred. His mouth looked like a diagonal gash, and a large chunk of his nose was missing; however, it was the man's eyes that made him frightening. One of them was small, dark, and beady. The other was large, round as a coin, and a vivid, electric blue. The blue eye was moving ceaselessly, without blinking, and was rolling up, down, and from side to side, quite independently of the normal eye--and then it rolled right over, pointing into the back of the man's head, so that all they could see was whiteness.

"Who are you?" Harry asked in shock.

"I'm your interim Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, Alastor Moody. Now, can you tell me what you did wrong in that duel, Potter?" Moody demanded.

"I-I got stunned. My shield didn't hold," Harry said.

"Wrong! You were overconfident. You thought your shield would be able to hold up against my spells. Well, let me tell you something, Potter. Not every spell is equal for each person. That shield probably would hold up against 95 percent of the students at this school judging by how my disarming spell couldn't get through, but when faced against an adult wizard with any sort of power, it's nothing all that impressive. You should have kept dodging. Lesson learned. Take your seat," Moody barked.

Harry nodded his head and walked down the aisle. He was three seats away from Draco and Blaise when he felt the magic around the room start to build. Instinctively he dropped to the floor just in time to see an orange and yellow curse fly right over his head. He quickly turned around with his wand drawn, only to see Moody grinning like mad at him.

"Wonderful reflexes, Potter, take 20 points for Slytherin!" Moody said triumphantly.

Harry kept his wand aimed at the man as he slowly walked backwards into the empty seat next to where Blaise and Draco were sitting.

"What the bloody hell was that?" Harry hissed.

"That's Alastor Moody, the world's craziest Auror. Dumbledore got him to teach defense for the last two weeks of school," Draco said quietly.

"The man is insane," Harry hissed.

"Yeah, well, at least you were able to dodge his first attack when you came into the room," Blaise said.

"What do you mean?" Harry asked.

"Everyone else was stunned as soon as they entered. Some sort of rubbish about vigilance," Blaise said shaking his head.

"Potter!" Moody barked causing Harry to pale slightly.

"Yes, sir?" Harry asked.

"Tell me what you think of Lockhart," Moody asked.

"He was the single worst defense teacher this school has probably ever had. He made us read his books in class and then would grade us based upon how much emotion we put into the readings," Harry scowled.

"Understood. Since this is the fourth class where I believe the grading is not a true reflection of your skills, I'm going to be speaking to Albus later today about having the defense marks stricken this year," Moody said as several people cheered.

"However, you will have to pass a final that I give out at the end of the semester..." Moody said as a small elf appeared next to him with a soft pop.

"Stupefy!" Moody barked causing the creature to pop away only to appear back on the desk.

"What do you want?" Moody asked the elf.

"Headmaster Dumblydoor would like to see Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Potter, and Ms. Granger," The house elf said warily.

"Doesn't a staff member usually fetch students?" Moody asked as he narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

"No staff member would enter professor Mad-Eye's room to get them," the elf said timidly.

"They probably don't want me to make sure that they are practicing Constant Vigilance! Potter, Granger, Longbottom get your stuff and get out of here," Moody barked.

Harry quickly gathered up everything as quickly as he could. "Enjoy the rest of the class you guys," Harry said with a smirk and quickly left the classroom.

"Lucky bastard, I wish I could get out of this," Draco grumbled.

"Even if it means going to a meeting with Longbottom and Granger?" Blaise asked curiously.

Draco watched as Moody sent a stinging hex at Nott before saying, "Yes."

Outside the Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts

Harry stopped walking in front of the Gargoyle that led to the Headmaster's office. "Ice Mice," Harry said; however, the Gargoyle remained in place.

"Ice Mice? Really, Potter, I highly doubt that the Headmaster of Hogwarts…" Hermione started.

"That was his password a few days ago, Hermione," Harry replied putting forth an effort to be cordial and appease the Gargoyle in his head.

"You're sure this is the entrance to his office?" Neville asked.

"Yes, Longbottom, now start guessing candies, that's what all his passwords are. Blood Quills, Sugar Quills, Lemon Drops, Cockroach Cluster…" Harry said as the Gargoyle sprung to life and moved out of the way revealing the spiral staircase.

"Cockroach Cluster was his password?" Hermione said in shock.

"I know the man clearly has issues," Harry said as he strode forward, quickly followed by Hermione and Neville.

"You shouldn't say something like that about him, Potter. He is still the most gifted wizard in the world," Hermione said sharply.

Neville walked forward to knock on the door after they ascended the spiral staircase, but before he could Dumbledore's voice called out, "Enter."

"I think there is a ward that lets him know people are outside his office," Harry said as he opened the door and entered the office.

"Hello, Mr. Potter, Ms. Granger, Mr. Longbottom, please come in," Dumbledore said kindly.

Harry took the furthest chair to the left and made sure he avoided looking at Dumbledore's Phoenix; however, Hermione and Neville were both instantly taken with the bird.

"Professor Dumbledore, is that what I think it is?" Hermione asked, pointing at Fawkes.

"Well, if you think it is a Phoenix, then you would be correct, Ms. Granger," Dumbledore said with a smile

"Wow, a Phoenix. My gran said you had one, but I never thought I'd get to see it," Neville said reverently.

Fawkes gave a thrill of appreciation that caused Hermione, Dumbledore, and Neville to smile. Harry, though, felt as if he was staring right into the eyes of the Basilisk again. Every muscle in his body tensed and he felt a sudden urge to draw his wand and hex the bird. He suppressed that desire, however, when he saw Dumbledore staring at him with narrowed eyes.

"I assume that this is about what we talked about earlier, isn't it?" Harry asked.

"Indeed. Ms. Granger, it is the belief of the staff that you will have the best chance at succeeding on your end of year exams if you are tutored by Mr. Potter," Dumbledore said.

"NO! No, I-I mean, no, I'm doing fine, sir, I don't need any help," Hermione said quickly.

"My dear, Mr. Longbottom took it upon himself to reveal to Mr. Potter your problem remembering parts of the year," Dumbledore said softly.

"Why, Neville?" Hermione demanded, turning her teary eyes to look questionably at Neville.

"I-I thought that he could get Malfoy to leave you alone. You didn't need Malfoy bothering you…" Neville said weakly.

"So you went to Potter. The same Potter that put my father in the hospital wing and who hates me!" Hermione said angrily before turning back to the Headmaster, "Professor, no offense, but I don't want to be ridiculed for the last two weeks of class."

"Miss Granger, Mr. Potter assures us that he will not do that; however, professor McGonagall has informed us of how your relationship with Mr. Potter is…strenuous. So we have decided to ask Mr. Longbottom to sit in on Mr. Potter's tutoring sessions with you. If Mr. Longbottom believes Mr. Potter is not helping you, then he will report it to us and Mr. Potter will be punished," Dumbledore said seriously.

Hermione looked rather hesitant, but ultimately nodded her head.

"Good. Now, you will meet Mr. Potter every day from three to six pm to work on Transfiguration and Charms. You will then work with Mr. Longbottom on Herbology from six to seven. I understand you are almost completely caught up in Herbology, Astronomy, and Potions, correct?" Dumbledore said.

"Yes sir," Hermione said.

"Excellent. I truly believe you are capable of catching up, Ms. Granger. You remind me very much of another Gryffindor girl who didn't let anything stand in her way," Dumbledore said with a smile.

"Who, sir?" Hermione asked curiously.

"Mr. Potter's mother, she was just as dedicated as yourself and I see a lot of her in you," Dumbledore said as he smiled at Hermione.

It was certainly a good thing that Dumbledore was looking at Hermione because had he been looking at Harry, he would have been shocked to see the look of absolute hatred Harry was sending at Dumbledore. Neville and Fawkes both saw the glare though and Fawkes tried to calm the boy by singing; however, that seemed to only cause Harry's last nerve to snap.

"Shut up, you stupid bird," Harry snapped causing everyone in room, including Fawkes, to look at him in horror.

"Harry…" Dumbledore started uncertainly only to pause and then say, "Enter."

Harry, Hermione, and Neville all turned around to see the door open and Mrs. Tonks and Mr and Mrs. Weasley open the door.

"Oh, sorry headmaster, we didn't know you were in a meeting," Mrs. Weasley said.

"Is it time to wake Tonks and Ginny up?" Harry asked quickly, interrupting whatever Dumbledore was about to say.

"Yes, Harry, now that Mrs. Tonks and the Weasleys are here, we can proceed to the hospital wing," Dumbledore said.

"Andi!" Harry said sharply.

"Really, Harry I would prefer…" Andromeda started only to stop talking when a small elf popped into existence next to Harry.

"How can I help Master Harry?" Andi asked.

"Andi, go and tell Draco that it's time to wake Tonks and Ginny up. Oh, and be careful, the defense teacher is incredibly paranoid," Harry said as his elf nodded vigorously before disappearing with a quiet pop.

"When did you get a house elf?" Andromeda asked curiously.

"Over the summer," Harry replied evasively.

"Well, now that Mr. Potter has done us the favor of alerting Mr. Malfoy, we can head down to the hospital wing, I suppose," Dumbledore said.

"What does the Malfoy boy have to do with this? We were told that Ron and the twins wouldn't be allowed to be taken out of class," Arthur Weasley asked.

"Mr. Malfoy asked the board to allow Draco and I to be present when Tonks and Ginny are woken up," Harry said smugly.

"I see," Mr. Weasley said clearly annoyed.

"Can…can I come?" Hermione asked hesitantly, causing every head in the room to turn to her.

"Are you sure, Ms. Granger?" Dumbledore asked.

"I'd like to be there, sir," Hermione said as her eyes moistened.

"Very well, Ms. Granger. Mr. Longbottom, you are dismissed and you need not bother returning to class today. I'm sure Alastor will not mind you skiving the last twenty minutes of his class," Dumbledore said with a smile.

Neville nodded his head enthusiastically. "Thank you, sir," he said before getting up and leaving the office.

"When are we leaving?" Harry asked.

"Patience, Harry," Dumbledore said as he took out a piece of parchment, scribbled a note and handed it to Fawkes, who took it and then disappeared.

"I suppose we should head to the hospital wing. Severus should be arriving shortly," Dumbledore said as he stood up and left his office with Harry, Hermione, Mrs. Tonks, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley following him.

"Are the Clearwaters not going to be joining us?" Harry asked as the group made its way down to the hospital wing.

"Unfortunately, they are out of the country at the time. They will be arriving this weekend to speak with Ms. Penelope," Dumbledore said patiently.

"And naturally the Creeveys being muggles won't be allowed here," Harry said simply.

A worried look crossed Dumbledore's face as the Weasleys and Andromeda both had to bite back scathing remarks to Harry. Hermione, though, did not hold her tongue, "And why should being a muggle matter if their son was hurt?!" she snapped.

Harry couldn't help but smirk, "Would the muggles even comprehend what had happened? Or the treatment that is being provided? It would be a waste of time to specially key them past the muggle repelling wards to allow them entrance to Hogwarts, explain everything, and then having them leave immediately."

"They allowed my parents here, Potter," Hermione said challengingly.

"That was completely different," Harry said, "They thought you had died. Of course they had to be alerted and brought to the school."

Hermione looked apocalyptic at Harry's pronouncement and said, "So muggles should only be informed if their children have died!"

Realizing that a continued argument with Hermione would ultimately awaken his temperamental animagus, Harry simply nodded his head and refused to argue back for the remainder of the walk.

"Poppy, Severus are you both here?" Dumbledore asked after opening the hospital wing doors.

"Yes, we just finished preparing the potion," Snape said as he strode out of Madam Pomfrey's office with a vial in each hand.

"Whenever you are ready, Severus," Dumbledore said.

Snape nodded his head, walked over to Tonks' bed, positioned a vial at the tip of her tongue, and allowed the potion to enter her mouth. As soon as the potion touched Tonks' tongue, her head began to shake slightly. Soon her entire body was shaking and Mrs. Tonks was becoming worried.

"What's wrong? What's happening?" Andromeda asked.

"The potion that we created works by overloading the nervous system," Snape lectured unemotionally. "As a Basilisk's gaze freezes all the nerves in the body, the potion will bring your daughter's body back to homeostasis. One of the side effects, though, are involuntary tremors such as these while the potion makes its way through her body. It should pass."

Sure enough, a few seconds later Tonks stopped shaking and opened her eyes.

"Wha? Mum, is that you?" Tonks asked curiously.

"Oh dear, I'm so happy you're alright!" Andromeda said as she pulled Tonks into a hug while Snape went over to wake the other patients.

"Ugh…Mum…need…air…please…let…go," Tonks gasped out.

"I'm so sorry, are you alright?" Andromeda said as she began checking Tonks over looking for injuries.

"Why wouldn't I be…oh Merlin!" Tonks said as her eyes widened in terror. "Mum there is a gigantic snake in the school!"

"Nymphadora, please calm down. The Basilisk has been dealt with," Dumbledore said softly.

"Oh, thank Merlin," Tonks said, relieved. "That thing was huge, headmaster, how did you stop it?" Tonks asked.

"Ah yes, well, Ms. Tonks, Mr. Potter became rather obsessive about finding the Chamber of Secrets after you were attacked. He eventually discovered where the Chamber was and who was opening it. Since it's a rather exciting story, I'll let Mr. Potter tell it to you. Andromeda, perhaps we should give them some time to discuss things," Dumbledore said.

Andromeda looked ready to protest, but eventually acquiesced after giving her daughter a very tight hug and saying she would be speaking with Madam Pomfrey to see about her recovery.

Once Andromeda was gone, Harry stepped towards Tonks' bed unsure if his friend would be upset with him for inadvertently leading to her petrifaction. "Tonks, I, well, I'm sorry about wh…" Harry said.

Harry wasn't able to continue talking, though, because Tonks had grabbed him and brought him into a bone crushing hug.

"Thank you, Harry," Tonks said seriously before her eyes moistened, "and it's me who should be saying I'm sorry. I said some terrible things to you when I left. I never should have…"

"Tonks, we both said some mean things. We were both mad and…well let's just forget about it, alright?" Harry said.

Tonks nodded her head with a small smile on her face before asking, "Where was it, Harry, and who was opening it?"

"Err, well, the entrance was in Moaning Myrtles bathroom," Harry said, smiling brightly at Tonks' disbelieving look.

"Seriously, Harry, where is the entrance?" Tonks asked impatiently.

"I am serious, Tonks," Harry said with a grin. "Quite the cunning place to hide it, if you think about it."

"Wha? But? How did you ever find it? I never would have thought to look in Myrtle's bathroom," Tonks asked in astonishment.

Harry immediately launched into the story about how he began looking for the Chamber after she was attacked. How he had Andi and Salazar searching the school at every opportunity. Tonks was a very good audience. She cursed Snape when he told her how close he had come to being suspended and she nodded her head attentively when he told her about how Salazar discovered a student who was spreading the Basilisks smell around the school. Finally he told her about how Hermione had been taken into the chamber, and how he stunned Snape when he realized Salazar might be following the trail of the person.

"So who was it, Harry, who was opening the Chamber?" Tonks demanded impatiently, not noticing Hermione tensing up next to her.

"You mean all the attacks were because a stupid mudblood was dumb enough to let herself get possessed by one of her bloody books?" an angry voice said, causing everyone in the room to turn and stare at Draco Malfoy and the recently awoken Ginny Weasley.

When Draco saw that Tonks was okay, he made his way over to his godfather, who had just administered the antidote to Ginny. He watched quietly behind his godfather and the two elder Weasleys as Ginny started to stir before opening her eyes.

Ginny seemed to look around the hospital wing in confusion for a moment before Mrs. Weasley pulled her into a huge hug. "Oh Ginny, dear, we were so worried about you! Are you alright? Are you tired? Do you need anything?" Mrs. Weasley asked frantically.

"Mum? What are you...? Why am I in the hospital wing? What happened? The last thing I remember…sweet Merlin, there is a massive snake in the school!" Ginny said in horror.

"Technically, there was a giant snake in the school," Draco drawled, causing Ginny to turn towards him with a broad smile, "The Basilisk was killed after Harry dragged me all around this accursed castle obsessively hunting for the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets."

"Draco! What are you doing here?" she asked happily.

"Father strongly suggested to the board that Harry and I should be allowed here when everyone was awoken," Draco said with a smug grin.

"Harry's here? Where?" Ginny asked missing the slightly annoyed look that flashed across Draco's face.

"He's over there with Tonks," Draco said nonchalantly.

"Oh, okay. So what happened, Draco? One minute I'm staring at a snake and the next thing I know I'm waking up here?" Ginny asked.

"Dear, it's really not important. The good news is you're okay," Mrs. Weasley said as she pushed past Draco, who looked like he would like nothing more than to hex her.

"Mum, I want to know what happened," Ginny said immediately.

"Ginny, it doesn't matter, we'll be taking you home soon and…" Mr. Weasley said.

"WHAT! Taking me home? Why? Wait…how long have I been unconscious?" Ginny asked, suddenly horrified.

"Just over a month, Ginny. School ends in two weeks," Draco supplied helpfully.

"I don't understand, Dad, why would I be going home soon? I have to take my finals," Ginny said.

"Professor Dumbledore said that you will be allowed to take them over the summer once you've had some time to catch up," Mrs. Weasley said.

"No, I-I can catch up. I still have two weeks. I can catch up in that time; please, I don't want to leave now," Ginny pleaded.

"We don't want your grades suffering because you want to stay with your…friends," Mr. Weasley said giving a passing look at Draco.

"Actually, sir, if Ginny wants to stay at Hogwarts I'm sure we could catch her up in no time. Harry already has plans to tutor Granger and he had talked about helping Ginny as well. He is top of the year in Transfiguration and Charms. Blaise Zabini could teach Ginny Astronomy and Herbology in his sleep, and I could easily catch her up in Potions," Draco said dismissively.

"While that is thoughtful of you, Mr. Malfoy, I wouldn't want your grades suffering," Mr. Weasley said strongly.

Draco could see that he was beginning to anger the balding Weasley and couldn't help but smirk to himself as he said, "It wouldn't be a problem at all, sir. Harry, Blaise, and I are all among the best in our year. It would be quite easy to catch Ginny up. And besides, sir, Ginny is a Slytherin, and Slytherins always look out for one another," Draco said, knowing the last part was a direct shot to the older Weasleys hatred of everything Slytherin.

"See Dad, it won't be a problem," Ginny said, smiling fondly at Draco.

"Your mother and I will need to think about this, Ginevra," Mr. Weasley said, not sounding at all happy.

"What's there to think about? I don't want to study over the summer, and I know Harry, Draco, and Blaise will do a great job helping me. Now, Draco, tell me what's happened since I was unconscious?" Ginny asked.

Draco smirked and puffed out his chest importantly as he had often seen his father do. "First of all, Ginny, you were not unconscious, you were petrified by a Basilisk, and then given a dreamless sleep potion," Draco clarified.

"Whatever, I guess the professors were able to catch the person behind the attacks, then?" Ginny asked.

"The professors?" Draco scoffed, "Harry found the chamber after dragging me around the castle for three weeks looking for it. Lucky he did find it. Harry was going to be suspended for skipping class and detentions during the time he was looking for the chamber," Draco said.

"No," Ginny said horrified, "Suspend him? Dumbledore would never…" Ginny said in astonishment.

"Of course he wouldn't," Draco said condescendingly, "Dumbledore was tossed out shortly after you and Tonks were petrified."

Ginny could only shake her head as she tried to process the incredible turn of events which she had practically slept through. Eventually though she narrowed her eyes angrily and said, "So who was it?"

"Unfortunately, that is a secret. Very need to know - and certain people," Draco said, casting a not so subtle look at the scowling Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, "don't need to know."

"Mum, Dad, can you leave us alone for a moment?" Ginny asked hopefully.

"Ginevra, I certainly don't think that is at all necessar…" Mrs. Weasley started angrily.

"Mum, just go stand a few beds over so you can't hear. Please?" Ginny asked hopefully.

Mrs. Weasley looked at Draco for a moment before she stood up with Arthur. The two elder Weasleys glanced at Draco one last time before walking a few beds over not looking at all happy.

"Now who did it?" Ginny demanded immediately.

"Well, it turns out that Granger had this diary that she was writing in all year. Said diary was a really powerful dark artifact created by the Dark Lord. According the Harry, the Dark Lord was somehow able to possess her and used her to open the Chamber of Secrets," Draco whispered quietly.

Ginny's eyes narrowed dangerously by the time Draco finished talking. "You mean all the attacks were because a stupid mudblood was dumb enough to let herself get possessed by one of her bloody books?" Ginny hissed out angrily, her voice easily echoing across the nearly empty hospital wing, causing everyone present to look at her with wide eyes.

"GINEVRA MOLLY WEASLEY! How dare you use such language!" Molly thundered as she strode towards her daughter's bed, Mr. Weasley a step behind her with an equally angry look on his face.

"Ginevra, how dare you use such language! You know our family's opinion on such bigotry!" Arthur said seriously.

"I-I…I'm sorry, I was just so angry that she," Ginny pointed a finger at a teary eyed Hermione, "would be stupid enough to let a book possess her," Ginny said.

"That is absolutely no excuse for such…such…horrendous language! The way it just rolled off your tongue is even more disturbing! Tell me, have you used that word before, Ginevra?" Arthur demanded.

"No," Ginny said unconvincingly.

"And now you are lying to us!" Arthur accused angrily as he quickly turned away and strode out of the hospital wing.

Molly hesitated to follow Arthur out of the hospital wing when she saw Ginny had tears falling down her face. "I'll go talk to him, but you will be punished," she said as she left the hospital wing.

Ginny just watched her mother leave the hospital wing. When she was gone, she glared at Hermione, who was now crying. Stupid mudblood deserves to cry! Honestly, how can you not notice you're being possessed?

"You mean all the attacks were because a stupid mudblood was dumb enough to let herself get possessed by one of her bloody books!"

"What? Harry, what's she talking about?" Tonks asked quickly as Mrs and Mr. Weasley started to berate Ginny.

"It's my fault, Tonks. I-it was m-m-my diary. It w-was cursed. It was c-created by You-Know-Who and h-he was able to con-control me t-the m-more I wrote in it. I'm so sorry," Hermione sobbed.

Tonks' eyes widened in surprise and she instinctively looked at Harry.

"It's true, Tonks. Voldemort was possessing her for a large part of the year," Harry said as compassionately as he could.

"I-is that why you were so distant this year?" Tonks asked hesitantly.

Hermione could only nod. "I-I'm so…so sorry. I-I have blank s-spots where I can't r-remember d…days at a t-time. I'm so sorry for what happened to everyone. I'm sorry I ruined our friendship," Hermione said between tears.

"No, it's not your fault, Hermione, and you didn't ruin our friendship. You didn't know what was happening, I don't blame you, and...and I'm sure Ginny is just upset. She'll get over it," Tonks said soothingly.

"H-how can you not blame me?" Hermione asked weakly as Tonks pulled her into a tight hug.

"Regardless of what other people might have told you," Tonks shot Harry a suspicious look, this is not your fault."

"Hey, don't blame me," Harry said indignantly, "I saved her life and haven't once said what happened was her fault."

"Is that true, Hermione?" Tonks demanded.

Hermione could only nod her head. "Only a few people know what really happened. Please don't tell anyone. I don't want everyone thinking I'm d-dangerous or something. I-I really don't even know how I got the diary. It just…it just showed up in my handbag when I came back from Diagon Alley. Dumbledore says he'll help me try to figure out when I was given it, but…" Hermione said, trailing off sadly.

"Calm down, Hermione, calm down, it is okay. I'm sure Dumbledore will get to the bottom of this," Tonks said soothingly.

"I'm sorry, Tonks. At the very least, I ruined your summer. I'm sure you won't be able to take your exams after missing over a month of class," Hermione said sadly.

"Don't worry about that, my mum works at the ministry. The department of education is just a few floors away from where she works. What about you, though? How are you going to take your exams?" Tonks asked.

"Oh…um…well, Harry and Neville are going to help me catch up in Charms, Transfiguration, and Herbology. I-I'm almost caught up in Potions and Astronomy, and our defense marks have been thrown out…" Hermione said.

"What? Why are our defense marks being thrown out?" Tonks asked.

"Well, Lockhart sort of disappeared. No one knows where he is and the new defense teacher thinks his lessons were a joke, so he apparently wants to have the defense marks thrown out this year," Hermione said.

"I think I'm going to like this new defense teacher," Tonks said causing Harry to snort.

"Trust me," Harry said scathingly, "You're not."

Monday May 17th, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

The week following Ginny and Tonks waking up was incredibly taxing. As soon as Ginny and Tonks were able to leave the hospital wing, Harry began helping them to catch up in both Charms and Transfiguration. As if attending class, tutoring Ginny, Tonks, and Hermione, and answering the sheer number of questions from inquisitive students about the chamber of secrets wasn't enough, Ginny seemed to have developed an incredible amount of animosity towards Hermione. It had taken a meeting with professor Dumbledore and her parents to get Ginny to agree to not, under any circumstances, reveal what she knew about Hermione's involvement in the Chamber of Secrets.

Unfortunately, being forced to hold her tongue about Hermione only seemed to infuriate the youngest Weasley. Whenever the two girls were within earshot of one another, Ginny could be counted on to spout off some insult. Hermione had taken it well, seemingly ignoring the girl; Harry, however, was having to make himself scarce rather often when the two girls were together lest he lose control of his animagus and begin to hurl curses at Ginny.

"Harry, before we begin, I'd just like to thank you for taking this seriously. I and well…everyone, I guess, sort of expected you to act…well, like Ginny is," Neville admitted.

Harry observed Neville for a moment before saying, "You and Hermione have gotten closer, I take it."

Neville's face turned a little red before he said, "Tonks and I are practically her only friends in Gryffindor. She's not a bad person, Harry, and I'm glad you're finally giving her a chance," he said.

"Giving who a chance?" Ginny asked walking over and putting her books on the table.

"No one, Ginny, don't worry about it. So, how have your parents taken your horrendous use of the 'M' word? Have they given out your punishment yet?" Harry asked, somewhat hoping that a bad punishment would temper the moody redhead.

"Don't remind me. They decided that I'm going to be grounded for the first two months of summer. Two bloody months because of that…" Ginny said frustrated.

"Hi everyone," Hermione said, glaring slightly at Ginny.

"Sit down," Harry instructed Hermione.

"Nice to see you also, Potter," Hermione said indifferently.

"I'm sure," Harry said sarcastically.

"What are we going to be working on today?" Hermione asked.

"Did you read the passage I gave you on mammal transfiguration?" Harry asked.

"Yes, it was incredibly detailed. It was so interesting that I asked Madam Pince if she happened to have anything similar. Unfortunately, it turns out that the only other book that contains as detailed descriptions is in the…" Hermione said.

"Good you read it," Harry said cutting Hermione off and taking a cat out of his bag.

"You are going to turn this cat into a pillow," Harry instructed.

"B-but I thought we'd save that for later, I mean it is one of the most difficult…" Hermione said.

"There is no time for later. From what Neville tells me, you are slightly behind schedule in Herbology, and I know you are slightly behind in charms. You are very good at Transfiguration so I'm picking up the pace so that we can finish that early and spend more time on other subjects. So go ahead and try to change the cat into a pillow," Harry said.

"But we aren't supposed to do spells in the library, Madam Pince…" Hermione lectured.

"…Has been told by McGonagall to make an exception for you, Ginny, and Tonks. Now, no more stalling," Harry said with some bite.

Hermione looked like she wanted to argue, but decided against it. She took out her wand, and tried the spell. The spell struck the tabby cat in the side; however, it didn't turn into a pillow. While the cat's fur turned white and it choked up a few feathers, it remained a cat.

"Focus, you need to focus," Harry said.

"I know that, I'm not you, though, Potter. You just can't say 'focus' and expect me to get it on the next attempt," Hermione said in annoyance.

"You need a clear mental picture of the pillow you want the cat to turn into. Do it again," Harry said.

"Fine," Hermione said as she re-tried the spell. Once again the cat remained, but there was noticeable improvement. The cat's tail had completely disappeared and its body was practically completely white with some blue stripes running down its back.

It took nearly thirty minutes for Hermione to get the transfiguration correct, but she was incredibly pleased with herself when she finally finished. Harry congratulated her and had her spend the next thirty minutes making sure she was capable of doing it consistently and was familiar with the counter spell.

"Alright, that's a good job. Go work with Neville on Herbology for the next hour or so, and send Ginny over here," Harry said, unconsciously smiling at her.

Hermione hesitated for a moment before saying, "Alright…um-thanks, Potter."

"No need to thank me, just send Ginny over here," Harry said simply.

Hermione nodded her head and walked a few tables over where Ginny and Neville were working on Herbology.

"So I guess it's my turn now, is it?" Ginny asked, sitting down across from him.

"Yep," Harry said pleasantly.

"Can I ask you a question before we start?" Ginny asked.

"You just did," Harry replied cheekily.

"Prat. No seriously, though, Harry, why are you helping her?" Ginny asked curiously.

"I have my reasons, Ginny," Harry said ominously.

"That's the same thing that Draco said. My Occulmency is good, Harry, I can keep a secret," Ginny said.

"I know that, Ginny, but this secret is something between Mr. Malfoy and myself," Harry said.

"Fine, I just can't stand being near her. Dad always said to never trust something unless you can see where it keeps its brain. Stupid mudblood should have realized she was being used," Ginny grumbled.

Harry simply gritted his teeth. He would make sure Ginny had a very difficult time this lesson for that remark.

Friday, May 28th, Great Hall, Hogwarts

As Harry walked into the Great Hall for the last time as a second year, he couldn't help but feel a myriad of feelings wash over him. He felt proud for managing to help catch Tonks up on her third year Transfiguration and Charms. While this did help Tonks out immensely and give her a reason to stay at Hogwarts for the last couple of weeks, she was still going to have to take her exams in Potions, Herbology, Astronomy, Ancient Runes, Arithmacy, and History at the ministry over the summer.

Harry was also exhausted from the sheer amount of work he put into tutoring Hermione. Still, his animagus radiating its approval after each successful lesson was a welcome relief from the headache it usually gave him. Harry couldn't help but be slightly surprised that Granger made it through the exam week without suffering from a nervous breakdown, though. She was spending every spare second either in the library or running between teachers' offices asking for help. Harry was just glad that Transfiguration and Charms were the first two finals. Once they were done, Hermione didn't bother him for the rest of the week. Since Herbology was the last final, Neville was hounded by her for the entire testing week to go over notes.

As for his own exams, they went as expected. While he was exhausted from the late night tutoring and study sessions with Tonks, Hermione, and Ginny, Harry was almost positive that he would be receiving O's in every subject but History of Magic. Draco and Blaise didn't share Harry's confidence in near perfect scores, but they were sure they did well enough.

Ginny was probably the exact opposite of Hermione during the testing week. While Hermione was running herself ragged and driving every teacher in the school insane, Ginny was going about the testing week calm and collected. When Harry eventually asked why she wasn't worried, she simply replied that between Draco helping with Potions, Blaise helping with Astronomy, Neville helping with Herbology, and his help with Charms and Transfiguration, she wasn't expecting any problems on any exam except History of Magic.

In fact the only thing that seemed to rattle Ginny at all was whenever Hermione was in her line of sight. The girl still hadn't forgiven Hermione for her role in the opening of the chamber of secrets. It was even beginning to bug Draco who normally would use any excuse to bash Hermione.

Harry, Draco, Blaise, and Ginny sat down at the Slytherin table for the end of year feast. The entire hall was decked out in Ravenclaw Blue with the picture of a massive Eagle behind the staff table.

"Another year has passed us by at Hogwarts, and what a year it was. I'd like to think that your heads are just a little bit fuller than when you arrived, and I do hope that you don't empty them too much over summer vacation. Now as to the matter of the house cup. In fourth place, Hufflepuff house with 410 points, in third place, Gryffindor house with 425 points, in second place, Slytherin house with 500 points, and finishing in first place, Ravenclaw house with 510 points," Dumbledore said as the Ravenclaw table exploded into cheers.

"I still can't believe that Ravenclaw won the bloody house cup," Draco complained.

"I know it's the first time we've lost in eight years," Blaise commented.

"Yeah, but Flitwick looks happy, doesn't he," Harry said, pointing up at the staff table.

Draco, Ginny, and Blaise all turned their heads in time to see the tiny head of Ravenclaw house practically jumping for joy as Dumbledore presented him with the house cup.

"Better Ravenclaw than the Gryffindors," Ginny said.

"That's true," Draco agreed.

The food was excellent as always and too soon the feast was over and everyone made their way out of the castle and onto the Hogwarts Express. Harry, Tonks, Ginny, Blaise, and Draco found an empty compartment near the back of the train.

"So what is everyone planning on doing this summer?" Blaise asked.

"Well, I was going to be grounded for the first two months, but my dad won some ministry galleon drawing, and he decided to take the entire family to Egypt for the last two weeks of June to visit my brother Bill," Ginny said.

"So you're not grounded, that's good news," Harry said.

"No, I'm still grounded, just not for the month of June," Ginny grumbled.

"So you're still grounded for all of July and August just because you called Granger a mudblood? Tell your parents to take a calming potions or something," Draco said in disgust.

"Yeah, no kidding," Ginny said.

"I thought you'd said that they were reconsidering?" Blaise asked.

"That's what they'd said until my brothers," Ginny spat the word, "decided to tell my dad how I called a Hufflepuff first year a mudblood earlier this year. My dad probably would have grounded me all summer if we weren't going on vacation."

"What about you, Tonks?" Blaise asked in an obvious attempt at moving the topic away from the volatile subject of Hermione Granger.

"Well, my mum apparently decided that since I was petrified for over a month, she didn't need to punish me for what happened over Christmas. Unfortunately, she is making me come with her to work every day to make sure I study for my exams," Tonks grumbled.

"When do you take your exams?" Draco asked.

"July 9th," Tonks said. "So I'll have some time to study and get ready for them."

"So Harry, what are you planning on doing? I know you said Dumbledore is making you stay with the Dursleys for a little while, but if you won't be able to hang out with Tonks, do you want to spend June at the Manor?" Draco asked.

Harry sighed. "Tonks actually told me that she wouldn't be around much already, Draco, and I've decided to stay with the Dursleys for a while," he admitted.

"What? Why would you ever want to do that?" Draco asked in shock.

"Well...I-um need to work on my Occulmency," Harry said simply.

"Can't you do that at Draco's?" Blaise asked curiously.

Harry bit his lip before saying, "Do you all remember how I was really short and angry with everyone earlier this semester?" he asked.

"Yeah, it was hard to ignore you being a serious prat to everyone," Ginny said.

"Well…you see, the second stage of Occulmency involves reliving and sorting through a lot of memories. I-I have a lot of memories I really wish I didn't have to relive," Harry explained.

"So that's why you were mad at anything that breathed?" Blaise asked.

"Yeah," Harry said.

"And you two knew about it," Blaise said to Tonks and Draco.

"Yeah, we knew, that's why we didn't get mad when he was being rather prat-ish," Tonks said with a teasing smirk.

"Why didn't you just tell us, Harry?" Ginny asked sounding a little hurt.

"It was private," Harry said, not at all caring if the girl was upset.

"Maybe, but I think you didn't want us to ask what these memories you don't like reliving are about," Blaise said knowingly.

"It's not important. The point is I'm staying with the muggles so that I can be as angry as I want. I won't feel bad if I take out my anger on them," Harry said darkly as Tonks, Blaise, and Ginny shared a concerned look at that statement.

"So how long are you going to stay with them?" Draco asked seemingly oblivious to his friend's anger.

"I don't know. It depends how…" Harry stopped talking when there was a knock on the compartment door. Tonks cast the unlocking charm and Draco slid the door open, revealing Hermione Granger and a nervous looking Neville Longbottom.

"What do you want?" Ginny asked icily staring at Granger.

Hermione simply ignored Ginny and said, "Can I talk to you in private, Potter?"

"Why?" Harry asked truly curious.

"Please, it'll take less than five minutes," Granger said.

"Harry just go, the smell of mudblood is starting to give me a headache," Draco said causing Hermione and Neville to glare at him.

Feeling the Gargoyle starting to stir, Harry quickly got up, followed Hermione and Neville out of the compartment, and closed the door behind him. The two Gryffindors led him to an empty compartment near the middle of the train. Once the door was closed, Hermione said, "I-well, I-I just wanted to thank you for helping me."

"What?" Harry asked in astonishment.

"You didn't have to help me, but you did. McGonagall told me that you got it to count for your tutoring for next year, but…but still…thank you. I'm sure I wouldn't have done as well on my Charms and Transfiguration exams if you didn't help," Hermione said her face red with embarrassment.

Harry couldn't help but be amazed by two things. First, he was surprised that Hermione Granger had actually thanked him, and second that he could honestly say he didn't resent her like he had earlier this year. The Gargoyle seemed to preen in the back of his mind, and Harry found himself momentarily wondering just how much his Animagus would influence him. Before his thoughts followed that train of thought though, he realized that he was simply staring at Hermione Granger who was looking nervously at him. "I suppose. I owe you an apology," Harry admitted, a part of him still hating the words that were coming out of his mouth.

"What?" Hermione asked clearly confused.

"I…apologize for treating you the way I have. Mind you, I still don't really like you," Harry said as he tried to get his feelings towards the girl straight, "but I realize I shouldn't have treated you like I have been."

Both Hermione and Neville seemed completely shocked by his statement and simply stared open mouthed at him for a minute before Hermione said, "So…so what does that mean?"

Harry honestly didn't know how to answer the girl. He was far to confused about his own feelings to properly explain them. "I don't know," he admitted. "I guess we'll have to see where next year takes us. I don't hate you, and I won't treat you like I have before, though."

"What about Malfoy and the youngest Weasley?" Neville asked. "Are you going to do anything about them? Or how about how you and your Slytherin buddies treat the other muggleborns like Collin Creevy?"

Harry felt a great deal of indignation rise up within both him and the Gargoyle. Here he was attempting to make some amends and Longbottom had the audacity to throw the mudblood Creevy in his face! "I can't control what others do, Longbottom," Harry spat, "And as for Creevy and the rest of the Gryffindor mudbloods, my feelings about them haven't changed one bit."

"That, that doesn't make any sense at all!" Hermione said, "Why can you admit that you were wrong about me, but still treat them like you do?" she demanded.

Instead of responding, Harry simply said, "I'm not in the mood to explain myself to you two. Are we done here?"

"Yes," Hermione said enraged at Potter's hypocrisy.

Harry just nodded his head and quickly went back to his compartment.

"What did Hermione want?" Tonks asked as soon as he opened the door.

"To thank me for helping her," Harry said as he did his best to push the conversation with Hermione out of his mind.

"I still don't know why you bothered," Ginny spat.

"I have my reasons for helping her, Ginny," Harry said darkly.

"Whatever. I still can't believe Dumbledore is letting her come back after she let herself get possessed by You-Know-Who. I mean, what if he is somehow able to possess her again?' Ginny said darkly. "Can he really be sure that she's not still under his influence?"

"The diary is destroyed, Ginny," Tonks said hotly. "Hermione deserves to put this behind her. It's not her fault she was tricked by You-Know-Who."

"But it was so stupid of her," Ginny said.

"It could have happened to anyone," Tonks barked out angrily.

"No, it couldn't, Tonks, only a reading-obsessed mudblood would let themselves get possessed by a book," Draco said confidently.

"What does being muggleborn have to do with anything?" Tonks shot back.

"Let's see, Tonks. Would you just start writing in a diary that you just found one day without making sure it was safe?" Draco asked.

"I don't know if I would or not. If it was just a blank, plain looking, muggle diary, I don't see why not," Tonks said.

"Okay, well, would your mum not check it for spells if she saw you were obsessively writing in it and acting strange?" Draco asked.

"Maybe," Tonks admitted.

"See. If she was a half-blood or a pureblood this whole ordeal never would have happened. It's just one of the dangers mudbloods present to our world," Draco said.

"Whatever Draco, we have no idea what dark magic You-Know-Who put on that diary. I don't think any of us can say that we could have just overpowered or fought the enchantments he cast," Tonks said.

"What do you think Harry?" Ginny asked after seeing Draco reluctantly accept Tonks' point about the Dark Lord's power.

"I think both Draco and Tonks make good points," Harry said hoping to avoid the entire argument for the moment.

"What about you Blaise?" Tonks demanded.

"The Zab…" Blaise said.

"Are neutral, I don't care about your bloody family, Blaise, what do you think?" Tonks demanded.

"Fine, I think Draco has a point, Tonks, happy? I don't think that anybody with at least one magical parent would let themselves be tricked into being possessed, especially if they started to have blank spots in their memory like Harry said Granger was having. I mean when you start losing chunks of time that correspond to the attacks, you would think that the person would at least consider that they are connected. Granger didn't and people got hurt. That's what I think, Tonks," Blaise said strongly.

Tonks was quiet for a long time after Blaise finished. Finally Harry decided to break the silence and said, "So Blaise, what are you up to this summer?"

"Well, Susan is going to be spending some time at my house while my father and Madam Bones work on some Wizengamot proposal," Blaise said.

Harry, Draco, Ginny, Blaise, and Tonks avoided talking about anything that might upset someone for a while and just as the conversation about Hermione was being forgotten by everyone, the compartment door opened revealing Fred, George, and Ron Weasley.

"Ginny, get up, dad said not to let you sit with anyone who's a bad influence on you," Ron Weasley said sternly.

"Oh, and what's he going to do if I tell you to bugger off, Ron? I'm already grounded for two months because you went and told on me," Ginny spat at her brother.

"Ginny, you're coming with us," Fred said.

"Yeah, we won't let this lot turn you into a bigot," George said.

"Piss off, Weasleys," Tonks said threateningly.

Fred glared at Tonks before saying, "You know, Potter was really upset when his metamorph was in the hospital wing. What exactly do you do for him that caused him to miss you so much?"

Tonks whipped out her wand in a flash and yelled, "Bombarda!"

"Protego," Fred said quickly; however, while the shield held, the curse still pushed him back several feet.

"Stupefy!" George shouted, catching Tonks unaware and hitting her in the side of the head.

"Avis!" Harry barked causing dozens of birds shoot of out his wand. The flock of angry crows instantly began pecking, scratching, and clawing the three Weasleys, who quickly fled the compartment.

Draco slammed the compartment door closed and cast a locking charm on it.

"Enervate," Harry said, pointing his wand at Tonks, waking her up.

"I can't believe I got stunned! I hate them," Tonks growled.

"You can say that again," Ginny grumbled angrily.

"I swear to Merlin, Ginny, the next time your brothers call me a slut, I'm going to castrate them!" Tonks raged.

"Calm down, Tonks, they're gone," Blaise said.

"I don't care. Did you know that those two told all my dorm mates that the reason Harry was upset about me being attacked is because he couldn't get any with me petrified?" Tonks said angrily.

"What!" Harry said in horror.

"Oh yeah, Harry, apparently we've been together since Christmas of last year!" Tonks spat.

"Surely people don't believe that?" Blaise said instantly.

"Ha, you clearly don't know any Gryffindor girls. To them, I'm some scarlet woman who uses my powers to seduce Harry Potter," Tonks spat.

"Why didn't we hear about this? If it's a big rumor, surely someone in Slytherin would have told us?" Draco said.

"The twins told all the girls that if it got back to you, you'd probably curse them. After you and Blaise were polyjuiced, Draco, no one doubted you would probably hex the person who you overheard so the rumor stayed in Gryffindor tower. I only found out a few days ago when I overheard Katie Bell talking to Alicia Spinet," Tonks said viciously.

"I think 'that cassstrating' them 'isss too' good for 'thossse' two, 'Tonksss.' Harry said so upset that his voice shifted back and forth between English and Parseltongue.

'Who are you cassstrating?' Salazar asked curiously.

'The Weassssley twinsss.' Harry hissed menacingly to Salazar.

"Harry, can you please speak in English? That half-parseltongue half-English is just a little creepy," Draco said, speaking what everyone was thinking.

"The twins need to pay," Harry said menacingly.

"Agreed, maybe I can get Bill to teach me some curses," Ginny said.

"If you're serious about wanting to castrate them, I'm sure our library has a book with that spell. I could look for it and send it to you," Draco said honestly.

"I might take you up on that, Draco," Tonks said angrily.

The conversation about the most painful ways to hurt the Weasley twins lasted until the group noticed the large group of red heads that were making their way towards them once they stepped off the train at platform nine and three-quarters. Harry saw as Mrs. Weasley's eyes narrowed when she saw Ginny standing between Draco and him.

"There's your mum, Ginny, and she doesn't look pleased to see us," Harry commented.

Ginny turned her head to see where Harry was pointing, and sure enough her mum seemed to be pushing her way through the crowd as fast as she could to get to her. "I guess this is goodbye, then. I'll see you all next year," Ginny said as she hugged Harry, Draco, Blaise, and Tonks.

"Don't worry, Gin. We'll write you all the time, and you'll be in Egypt before your realize it," Tonks said.

"I hope so," Ginny said.

"Ginevra, let's go, your father is waiting," Mrs. Weasley said sharply.

Harry could practically see Ginny restraining herself from saying something back as she bit her lower lip.

"Alright mum," Ginny grumbled as she followed her mum.

"We are going to have to remember to write Ginny a lot," Tonks said.

"No kidding, she's been with her family less than twenty seconds and she already looks ready to murder the twins," Draco said as they watched Ginny interact with her brothers.

"Well, I see my father. I'll owl you guys," Blaise said.

"Bye Blaise," Tonks said.

"Yeah, have a good summer," Harry said.

"You too, Harry. Good luck with those Muggles," Blaise said.

"I'm sure father will make sure he doesn't get into too much trouble for cursing them, Blaise," Draco said.

"Good. I'll see you all later," Blaise said as he grabbed his trunk and walked into the crowd.

"Do you see your mum?" Harry asked Tonks.

"No, but if I know her, she is probably talking to somebody she knows from the ministry," Tonks said.

"Have you seen your father and mother, Draco?" Harry asked.

"I think they are probably waiting by the barrier like last year," Draco said with a smile.

"Is your father planning on scaring Harry's relatives again?" Tonks asked as she continued to search for her mum amongst the crowd of people.

"Father never misses an opportunity to frighten muggles," Draco said simply.

"I…oh, there is my mum," Tonks said, pointing to where her mum was standing with an elderly looking witch.

"Who's the witch she's talking to?" Harry asked.

"That's Griselda Marchbanks, she's an elder of the Wizengamot and heads the Department of Education at the ministry and the Wizarding Examination Authority," Draco said with distaste.

"How do you know that?" Harry asked, slightly surprised that Draco knew the older woman.

"Father doesn't like her. She managed to stop one of his proposals in the Wizengamot a few years ago. I've never seen father so upset. When he was done destroying our kitchen, I looked at the paper to see what had him so upset, and I remember her face from the front page. She looks a little older, but that is definitely her," Draco said.

"I wonder what she is doing here? She is way too old to have a child on the express," Tonks said.
"Let's go find out," Harry said as he quickly strode over to where Mrs. Tonks was standing, Tonks and Draco right behind him.

"Hello Mrs. Tonks, Ms. Marchbanks, how are you today?" Harry asked pleasantly, causing the two women to abruptly end their conversation and look at him.

"Hello Harry," Andromeda said.

Harry could tell that Andromeda was less than thrilled to see Draco. She would completely avoid looking at him only to flick her eyes back to him every now and then with a look of disdain.

"How did you know who I was, Mr. Potter?" Ms. Marchbanks asked curtly.

"Draco recognized you," Harry said simply.

"You're Lucius' son, are you?" Ms. Marchbanks asked Draco with just a hint of distaste.

"Yes ma'am," Draco replied coldly.

"You should know, Mr. Potter, that the decisions that you make during your youth can affect the rest of your life. I would urge you to make sure that you make the correct decisions. Andi, it was a pleasure, now I really must go say hello to Augusta," Ms. Marchbanks said before she left to go speak to a large woman wearing a Vulture hat.

"Mum, why were you talking to Ms. Marchbanks?" Tonks asked.

"I was simply making sure that your arrangements have been taken care of to take your exams. Now let's go, Nymphadora," Mrs. Tonks said as she practically dragged Tonks away from Harry and Draco.

"She still doesn't like me at all," Draco commented.

"Yeah, maybe she'll get over it someday," Harry said.

"At this point, I couldn't care less," Draco said harshly.

"Come on, let's go find your dad," Harry said as he and Draco began weaving through the crowd looking for Mr and Mrs. Malfoy.

"There they are," Draco said striding forward towards the barrier that separated the muggle and magical platforms.

"Hello Father, Mother," Draco said politely after he hugged Narcissa.

"Oh you two are getting so tall! Lucius, why didn't you tell me?" Narcissa asked.

"I hardly thought it was important, dear," Lucius said simply.

"Not important? My Draco is becoming a man," Narcissa said proudly.

"You baby the boy too much, Narcissa," Lucius said earning himself a glare.

"I do not baby him, Lucius," Narcissa said.

"Harry, how many times did Draco receive sweets from Narcissa this year?" Lucius asked.

Harry, who was enjoying the banter, was caught slightly off guard by the question, but one look at Draco and Narcissa told him what his answer should be. "I don't know sir, once or twice a semester," Harry said evasively.

"Bah! Everyone is against me. Once or twice a week is more like it," Lucius said exasperatedly.

"See, Lucius, I do not baby Draco," Narcissa said smugly.

"Please, Draco probably just gives Harry half the sweets," Lucius grumbled.

"So what are your plans, Harry? Draco did mention that Dumbledore is once again making you return to those filthy muggles," Narcissa said distastefully.

"Yes, but I don't mind it. I need to work on my Occulmency and I…well, I discovered that I have a lot of bad memories to work through," Harry said.

Both Lucius and Narcissa shared a look before Narcissa said, "Dear, you shouldn't have to relive those memories around those…those disgusting creatures."

"I'll be okay, ma'am," Harry said evasively.

"I don't like you spending any time at all with those things, Harry. As soon as you're ready to leave, send Andi and we'll come and get you or send you a portkey," Lucius said.

"Thank you, sir," Harry said sincerely.

"Well, I suppose we should go take you to them," Lucius said, his voice dripping with malice.

Harry could only nod as he followed Lucius through the barrier back into the Muggle world.

June 30th, Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts

A visibly withdrawn Albus Dumbledore removed his head from his personal pensieve and let a single tear slide down his face. He had finally figured out just who was responsible for giving Hermione Granger the diary of Tom Riddle.

Harry Potter.

After watching Ms. Granger's memory of her trip to Diagon Alley, it was clear that Harry gave her Tom's diary. There could be no disputing that.

"I can't believe Harry knew what he was doing, Fawkes," Albus said after taking a seat behind his desk.

Fawkes hesitated for a moment before thrilling his agreement.

Albus let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. He couldn't believe Harry would knowingly try to harm Ms. Granger, or put the entire school in danger. However, there were still many questions that needed to be answered. How did Harry come into contact with Tom's diary? Why did he give it to Ms. Granger? Did he know who Tom Riddle was?

"Do you mean to tell us that the Potter boy was responsible for the opening of the Chamber of Secrets?" Dilys Derwent bellowed from her portrait frame.

Albus looked up and seeing the expectant looks on all the portraits faces, he reluctantly nodded his head.

"Madness! Dumbledore, the boy must be expelled!" Charles Prewett shouted.

"I can not believe what Mr. Potter did was intentional, Charles," Albus said.

"What about what he and his snake did to Lockhart! We all heard what Sir Cadogan told you! The boy is a killer, Dumbledore!" Dexter Fortescue yelled over the other arguing portraits.

"Sir Cadogan also informed us that Lockhart started the confrontation and threatened to obliviate Harry. We all agreed that Lockhart's death will best be left attributed to the Basilisk," Albus stated calmly.

"That was before we found out Potter was responsible for this whole ordeal, Albus!" Dilys Derwent interjected.

"Hear, hear!" Several portraits cried out.

"We must not forget that Harry was responsible for saving Ms. Granger as well as closing the chamber forever," Albus argued.

There was a great deal of grumbling amongst the portraits as they argued Dumbledore's point. Finally, it was the voice of Albus' predecessor that quieted the arguing portraits.

"Are you sure you are not making the same mistake that I did with Tom, Albus?" Armando Dippet asked softly.

Dumbledore looked visibly shaken by the comparison. "Harry is not like Tom, Armando."

"But you can not deny that you have a soft spot for him, just as I did for Tom, Albus. We are often blind to those we wish to believe the best of and unfortunately that lesson took me far too many years to learn," Armando said.

"Armando is right, Albus. The Potter boy is very much like Tom Riddle. When you met with him after he saved Ms. Granger from the Chamber, did he appear to look like someone who had murdered his defense teacher hours earlier? No, he just gave us a report of what he did and went about his business. You had your Potions Master reporting to you for the rest of the term about Potter's behavior and did he at any time say Potter showed some kind of remorse or regret? No! The boy showed no typical signs of post-traumatic stress, and nothing at all to make us believe him to be a killer. In fact, did not a majority of your professors say how proud they were about how he was handling himself? The boy just washed his hands of murdering his teacher and went about his life, Albus! That kind of cold-heartedness is truly terrifying from a twelve year old child!" Charles ranted.

Dumbledore gently rubbed his fingers to his temple wishing that his old Headmaster's words weren't true. "Charles, perhaps he was releasing his emotions in private or amongst his friends? We do not know for certain that he did not regret what happened to Gilderoy,"

"Regardless, Dumbledore, you must report the boy to the Board of Governors," Dilys Derwent firmly stated.

"I'm not certain that is necessar…"

"It is, Dumbledore," the unmistakable drawl of Phineas Nigellus Black stated, "a formal hearing is the only way we can truly be sure about the boy's motives."

"I can not believe I would ever be of the same opinion with the likes of you, Phineas, but I agree," Charles said.

"Harry needs to stay at Hogwarts," Dumbledore said weakly.

"You believe a hearing will see him expelled?" Armando asked with a raised eyebrow.

"No," Albus replied firmly, "but I am wary of Harry's involvement becoming public knowledge. He has been vilified enough in the media for one so young."

"If that is truly the case, your solution is quite simple," Phineas said arrogantly.

"Phineas, if you have a solution then state it," Charles demanded.

"Well, Albus, if you would think like a Slytherin instead of taking advice from Hufflepuffs," Phineas stated, sending a pointed glare at Charles, "you would know that you hold all the cards, so to speak."

"Would you stop speaking in riddles, you confounded Slytherin!" Diana Trappings shouted from her frame.

Phineas scowled at the woman before saying, "Simply demand that the meeting be held in secret and that all attending members swear an oath not to reveal anything heard at the meeting."

"I'm not certain that I would be able to get the board to agree, Phineas," Albus said slowly.

"Bah! We all know that you can easily persuade several board members, Albus, so don't pretend to be ignorant of your influence! All you need to do is make it clear that you are taking these steps to insure that the press doesn't get wind of anything that happens at the meeting. Hogwarts' standing took a bad hit this year, Albus, the board is very aware of that. They don't want the school's reputation suffering any more than it has already. Trust me, the board will not want to go advertising to the public about its failures in dealing with the Chamber of Secrets. And once you have their oaths, there is no way they will be able to leak what they will find out about Harry Potter's role in opening the Chamber of Secrets," Phineas explained.

"I will think on it, Phineas," Dumbledore said as he warily rose from his desk and began walking towards his bed chambers, intent on getting some sleep before making some inquiries to see if Phineas's plan would work.


Success! The final installment, and it only took six months to finish. I do hope the wait was worth it. With almost 600,000 hits and 1700 reviews, I want to thank everyone who has read DLP. I know I didn't always respond to reviews or PMs, but I did do my best to answer as many questions as I could.

A very special thanks to EvilDime and John3776 who both took the time to do the beta work for this story. DLP wouldn't be nearly as good without you.