A/N: Sorry I haven't updated in so long! I've been swamped by midterms and stuff, and the rare times I found myself free enough to work on this fic, I kept hitting a small writer's block. But I managed to get this finished, finally, so the wait is OVER!! Of course, you'll probably have to wait just as long, if not longer, for the chapter after this one. Sigh. Well, that's what school will do to you, I guess…
Disclaimer: Mesa no ownie Eh'ly Potta! Mesa now go kill-kill selfu because mesa even consida talking like-a Jar Jar Binks! (I know Episode 1's old, but I just watched it again recently and couldn't help but make a Jar Jar Binks joke. I apologize…)
Chapter 30: Things To Do With A Secret Playroom-Slash-Chamber-Slash-Basilisk-Layer
A month passed, and Harry, despite his severe dislike for the wizarding world (well, MOST of the wizarding world- Luna was cool, and Draco and the gang were alright), found himself enjoying his time at Hogwarts.
Part of it was because he was still breezing through his classes and impressing the staff. Of course, he had had the advantage of having the complete Hogwarts curriculum taught to him by the founders of the British Isle's best school for magic, so he better be better then his fellow students! Oh, there were times when he felt a little guilty for taking advantage of such a… well, advantage, but then he remembered why he didn't like the wizarding world, and he felt a lot better about it.
Another reason might have been because of the company he found himself keeping: Draco and Pansy, once one got past the arrogance and bigotry, were fun to converse with, which was weird because he honestly couldn't remember them being so approachable (then again, he had been a bit biased back then. That probably had something to do with it); Crabbe and Goyle, though not the conversationalists their smarter- much smarter- compatriots were, were still good company in their own right; they weren't exactly the best source for witty repartee, but every once in a while they would surprise him; and his newest acquaintance, Luna... well, all he could say was that talking with an extremely powerful seer was an interesting experience.
And it didn't hurt that he'd finally found a solution to one of the problems that had been plaguing him: his inability to consume normal foods. It had been Alucard's idea: set up and anchor (so he wouldn't be ripped apart from the inside when he stood up) the entrance of a inter-dimensional pocket inside his mouth, just past his epiglottis; after all, it wasn't that he couldn't eat the food, but rather his digestive system couldn't handle absorbing the nutrients the food provided. This way, he could actually put the food in his mouth, chew, and swallow, but the food would fall into the pocket. Oh, sustaining the spell for the whole meal time was a bit draining, he'd admit, but it was nothing he couldn't handle. It was certainly better then continuing to use the Notice-Me-Not charm, which was easily noticeable to those experienced in wielding magic. The fact that he could finally taste food again after so long would be a very nice plus, too.
He'd also started getting something from Integra that solved another, but related problem of his: sustenance. He'd been putting off feeding, but was at his limit when, lo and behold, Estella flew up to him one morning and proceeded to drop a package containing what the accompanying letter said were "blood pills"- small, red, gumball-like things that were each the equivalent of two liters of blood. When he asked just how the R&D department at Hellsing had come up with them in his next letter, he was told that they hadn't; Su, who he hadn't even been aware was already communicating with Integra, had, when presented with the problem of getting a steady source of blood to him, suggested, and he quoted: "Why not make it like a candy? Candy is easy to send to people, right?" He'd laughed out loud when he'd read that part.
Not all of his problems were getting closer to being solved, however. His search for the Staff of Libra had hit a bit of a dead end, for one. He'd taken Luna's advice and went out to search for the centaur village… or at least, he'd tried to. It was the damnedest thing- he would find a party of centaur and proceed to follow them, only to loose them some time afterwards. He couldn't detect any large areas of magic anywhere in the forest, so that ruled out some kind of charm, and he had not detected any lies from Luna, so he had little reason to doubt her advice. He'd even tried Legilimancy on the centaurs he found, only to encounter strong Occlumancy barriers, barriers that would draw attention to him if he were to try and penetrate them. He was finally forced to admit defeat, and decided to retreat for the moment.
Now he was focusing on another problem, one that was beginning to really piss him off: the lack of appropriate places to keep himself in shape. He'd scoured the castle from top to bottom- even discovering a few hidden rooms in the process that the Marauder's Map 2.0 (henceforth to be called the much less troublesome "MM2") did not contain- and still hadn't found a place secluded and/or big enough to comfortably practice his skills!
So here he was, stalking a hall on the second floor on his free time, stuck in a perpetual state of irritability as he continued his search. He was just about to call it a day when he heard the sounds of crying coming from a nearby girl's bathroom. Before he knew it, he was already opening the door, intent on comforting whoever it was he was hearing; despite being a trained, badass killer who was in a constant state of pissed-off-ness, he was, much to his chagrin sometimes, still Harry Potter, with all the morals that came with it.
It wasn't until he was completely inside the room that he was struck by something… literally, as a roll of toilet paper was promptly bounced off his head. "Get out! Get out, whoever you are! Leave me alone!" someone shouted from behind a closed stall, before hiccupping softly. Harry blinked; that voice sounded awfully familiar…
'Oh yeah! This is Myrtle's bathroom,' he finally realized. He was just about to apologize for interrupting her moping when he was struck with another realization: this was MYRTLE'S bathroom, as in the bathroom that, for reasons Sal never told him, hid the Chamber of Secrets.
The very BIG, very ROOMY Chamber of Secrets.
'Yatta!' Harry silently cheered. He had just found someplace to workout! Finally!! Without another thought, Harry began looking for the familiar snake engraved on one of the sinks and, finding it, told it to open in Parseltongue. It moved aside, revealing the giant pipe-slide he remembered from so long ago… along with the slime that covered it. He grimaced in disgust.
'That's just fucking nasty' he thought to himself even as he conjured up a high-pressure jet of water and sent it down the pipe, followed by a giant, high-velocity sponge for good measure. Satisfied that it was probably as clean as it would ever be (and making a mental note to ask Sal why he had made the entrance a slide of all things), he then gripped the top edge of the entrance and swung himself in.
One long, and thankfully clean, ride down the slide and a short walk in the darkness later, Harry was standing before the impressive set of double doors that led to the actual Chamber of Secrets. Taking a moment to admire the workmanship, he was just about to tell the doors to open when he was interrupted.
"Hey! Who are you?" a voice he recognized as Myrtle asked.
Cursing the nosy ghost and his own carelessness, he turned around, fully intending to tell her to mind her own business. He didn't get a chance to, though, as he was brought up short when the ghost girl gasped.
"It… can't be… Harry?" The question made his eyes widen in surprise. When he remained quiet, she asked again, "Merlin… is that you, Harry?"
"I… think you have me mistaken for someone else," he finally managed to say, feeling massively uncomfortable.
Myrtle shook her head. "No, I don't think so… I could never forget those eyes."
Feeling that keeping up his act would have been more trouble then it was worth at this point, Harry decided to drop it and dryly replied, "Well, you're the only one, then; I have no glamours on me, yet I have not been recognized."
Now it was Myrtle's eyes to widen in surprise. "You're… you're kidding, right? No one recognized you? Not even Hermione? Or Ginny?"
Harry shook his head. "None… well, except for Luna Lovegood, but she's a seer, so she doesn't count."
"I… see. Harry, I… for what it's worth, I'm sorry."
'Whoa, déjà vu…' Harry mused, a similar event from a month ago coming to mind. Outwardly he waved off her apology with a flippant, "It's what I've come to expect of these selfish fools- they see what they want to see, and blind themselves to everything else. Don't worry about it."
"I'll say it again, Myrtle: no worries." Harry ensured her. He turned back to the giant doors before him and proceeded to hiss out his command. As the doors ground open Harry, suddenly feeling oddly personable- probably because he'd found another who hadn't abandoned him- smiled over his shoulder and said, "Now, you want to join me? I could use the company."
Myrtle looked shocked for a moment, before nodding and- to Harry's immense shock because this was the first time he'd seen her do this- giving him a cheerful smile. As they walked- floated, in Myrtle's case- through the doors, a small part of him couldn't help but notice the ghost girl's smile made her rather… cute.
Nothing on Shinobu, of course, but still cute.
For some reason, Harry had found himself expecting to find great things in the Chamber of Secrets: secret libraries, living quarters, potion laboratories… even, for a fleeting second before he remembered Luna's advice, the Staff of Libra. It was a reasonable assumption, really, since it would have been quite UNreasonable to assume that, with several confirmed reports of some Hogwarts staff members or alumni in the last several centuries being Parselmouths, some of them would not have seen it fit to make their own changes to Sal's "playroom."
So it was much to his chagrin when he found that the Chamber of Secrets was just that: a chamber. A hulking big chamber with lots of snake motifs, to be sure, but still just a chamber. It seemed the only modification later generations had put in was the now-dead Basilisk, and even the thing's corpse wasn't there anymore; it was probably cleaned up and harvested for spare parts by the House Elves (apparently, the tunnel behind the giant statue's mouth was just that: a tunnel, left unfinished when Sal finally collapsed from his night of inebriation). Harry found himself feeling a little cheated, really.
That feeling faded, though, when, with Myrtle as his audience, he went through his first training session within the Chamber. To say that it was adequate was an understatement- the Chamber, with its high, vaulted ceiling and wide, open space, let him cut loose completely (and in the process scare the living heck- pun intended- out of the poor ghost). He was even able to use the snake motifs as targets to practice his spells! Who cared about secret rooms when faced with THE perfect training area?
It was now a month after he claimed the Chamber for himself, and he had long since given up finding something interesting… which was why he was so surprised when he felt someone enter the Chamber (after having Myrtle sneak up on him, he'd decided that he was going to just keep his Legilimancy scans up at all times, instead of letting out the occasional pulse. It might have been a bit more tiring, but, damn it all, he was getting tired of being sneaked up on!). A quick Assassin's Cloak and a jump onto the top of one of the snake motifs later, Harry was staring down upon the approaching figure of none other then Ginny Weasley.
'What in the world could she be doing here?' Harry wondered as she watched her walk under him, 'And how the hell did she get in here in the first place?!'
Further thoughts were brushed aside when he saw her stop at the base of the giant stone statue. His curiosity getting the better of him, he made his way closer just in time to see her remove one of the cobblestones that made up the floor. What was revealed made him blink, then blink again, then one more time for good measure.
Between the feet of the giant statue of Sal's father was a small, but very well kept, shrine. To him.
It was a Harry Potter memorial.
If that wasn't creepy, he really didn't know what was.
…It was touching in a strange way, though. He couldn't deny that.
His thoughts were interrupted as Weasley-onna began speaking to the shrine. He leaned in closer to listen.
"Hello, Harry. It's me again," she said as she started fussing with the shrine, "I know I haven't been here since before Christmas Hols, but so much has happened that I didn't get a chance to come down here until now. But at least I have more things to talk about than homework and the local gossip, right?" She giggled at this point, but it was such a soft yet strained sound that he wasn't really sure he could qualify it as such.
"Anyways," she continued, "You'd be interested to know that we have a transfer student. His name's Azrael Corvin, and he's a fifth year Slytherin. He's not very nice, but it's not the standard Slytherin not-nice. It's like… it's not malicious, I guess… well, it is when it's directed at Ron, but that's because Ron's been an ass ever since you died, and he can bring out the worst in anyone. Seriously, I don't know what goes on in his head! He acts more like a Slytherin then most Slytherins! I honestly wonder sometimes if the Sorting Hat might have put him in the wrong House!"
She gave an exasperated sigh before continuing. "…But I digress, especially since I've been saying that for the last three years now. Now, where was I…? Oh yes, the transfer student. He's mean, and I get the feeling that he doesn't like just about everyone. Malfoy and his gang are the exception, but it doesn't seem like he's trying to suck up to them, like one would expect. Rather, he's actually cordial to them, and- get this- they're downright friendly to him right back! Can you imagine? Malfoy being friendly? You must be shocked out of your mind in heaven right now, huh?
"There's also something else about Corvin: he looks likes you. I mean, he REALLY looks like you. I think he might be related to you in some way, Harry. Wouldn't it be cool if he was your long lost relative or something. They you wouldn't just have those nasty relatives of yours to call family. That would have been nice.
"Hmm… what else was there… oh yeah! Voldemort's been sending images to me again. It seems those Occlumancy lessons with Snape aren't really helping, but he's only really blasting into my mind and expecting me to learn how to build a shield on my on, so I guess that's no surprise. This time the vision went a little further. I actually got past the round room and found myself walking along this hall that had glittering, ticking walls. I've told Neville, and he's going to talk to Dumbledore about it. Maybe he might actually give an answer this time. Let's hope so. I'm getting sick of all these evasive answers he's been feeding us."
She looked down to a watch she had on her wrist and gasped. "Oh no! Look at the time! I have to go, Harry. I'll come back next week, hopefully. Until then!" she said in a rush. She gently returned the cobblestone to its place, got up, patted herself down, and quickly walked away without a backward glance.
Harry stayed in place, his mind going over what he'd just witnessed. Though she thought he was dead, Weasley- no, Ginny still thought of him, still considered him important enough to spend time with.
She had never abandoned him.
First there was Luna. Then there was Myrtle. And now there was Ginny. If they had kept him in mind all these years, what of others? Were there other that had never forgotten him, never dropped him when he was no longer deemed their savior?
Harry jumped down from his hiding place and started for the exit. Training was over for the day.
He had much to think about.
A/N: Hmm… who should Ginny be paired up with? I'm thinking Tom Riddle (you'll see just how this will be possible later). What do you readers think? Send me your opinions!