My Saving Grace
Cowards and Kidnappings
"If you hate me, I completely understand." Trilla held her breath, waiting to see how Harry would take the news. He kept staring at the same place on the floor when she had been talking. Trilla didn't know if that was a bad thing or if he was just comatose.
"I don't hate you." Harry said, much more quickly than Trilla expected. She thought that he would have to think about his answer first, but it seemed that he didn't. "It was Voldemort who killed my parents, Trilla, not you."
The next few weeks were relatively uneventful. Things seemed to be almost back to normal when Percy stopped Trilla in the hall one afternoon. The twins and Lee were missing, probably in the kitchens or else pulling off some prank on the Slytherins. Trilla had no idea what Percy wanted with her.
"Whatever George did, I wasn't part of it." Trilla said quickly. Percy just shook his head.
"It's Ginny." He said quietly.
"Oh." Trilla was taken by surprise. She was almost positive that she was going to get into trouble. "What about her?"
"Do you have any idea why she's so pale all the time?" Trilla shook her head.
"Elladora is good friends with her. Did you speak with her yet?"
"Yes. She doesn't have any idea. I told Ginny to get some Pepper Up Potion from Madame Pomphrey and her ears were smoking for hours. I keep asking her what's wrong but now she won't talk to me." Percy sat down heavily on one of the stone benches in the corridor. He was more worried than Trilla had ever seen him. It was surprising just how little people skills Percy had.
"Maybe you just need to give her space." Percy looked at Trilla quizzically.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, she has four protective older brothers to compete with. Ginny probably just wants to try and make friends and do homework and hang out without the rest of you a bit. And, no offence, Percy, you've been breathing down her neck a bit much." Percy thought about what Trilla had said for a long moment.
"Perhaps you're right." He got up and walked down the corridor, leaving Trilla.
"Pssst." Trilla looked around and saw Fred beckoning her from behind one of the tapestries.
"What?" Trilla called out to him.
"Come here and keep quiet." Trilla ran over and found that there was an entire corridor behind the tapestry. "Do you have a spare piece of parchment? One that doesn't have any spells on it already?"
"Why do you need parchment?" Trilla asked suspiciously.
"George ruined our last one and now Lee's skin is purple."
"Bad spell combination." Trilla just nodded. "By the way, you wouldn't happen to know how to reverse that, would you?"
"Sorry, no idea. But I bet Hermione would know."
"I suppose that's a better idea than going to Percy." Trilla handed him a clean parchment and as quickly as he came, Fred was gone. Trilla just shook her head in bewilderment and began the long walk back to Gryffindor Tower.
"All students will return to their Common Rooms immediately."
McGonagall's magically enhanced voice floated through the castle. Students began walking in small groups back to their respective common rooms. Trilla looked for someone she knew, but couldn't find any she knew by name. Trilla saw Professor Flitwick and Professor Sinistra talking as they walked briskly down the hall. Neither seemed to know what had happened. But all the students already knew. The same thing happened when Justin Finch-Fletchley was Petrified. Someone else must have gotten attacked.
The portrait swung open and Trilla scanned the Common Room. Elladora was sitting against one wall, legs crossed, throwing fire crackers at a salamander that kept poking its head out of the fire.
"What's going on?" Trilla asked, sitting next to her.
"Don't know." She answered. "But I couldn't find Ginny all day. Have you seen her?" Trilla shook her head. Ella sighed. "Sweet girl, but you can't keep her in one place long enough to talk through a decent prank."
"You didn't have anything to do with Fred, George, and Lee and a blank piece of parchment, did you?" Ella laughed.
"If I did, did you think I'd tell you? I value my life, thank you very much." Trilla laughed along with Ella as the twins walked in, followed by Lee who had his cloak on with the hood pulled up all the way.
"What happened to you?" Ella asked Lee.
"Do you know how to fix it?" He asked hopefully.
"I'm a first year, Lee. All the advanced stuff you three taught me."
"Oh yeah. I forgot." Lee said absentmindedly.
"Harry," Fred called out when Ron and Harry entered the Common Room nearly an hour later. "Where were you?"
"Hermione's been petrified." Harry said unceremoniously. He threw himself onto the couch and stared at the floor. Trilla looked at George, and he wrapped an arm around her protectively.
"How?" Ella and Trilla asked at once.
"They found her outside the library with a mirror in her hand." Ron was staring out the window with an odd look on his face.
"Strange," Trilla said under her breath.
"I didn't know that Hermione carried a mirror around with her." George contemplated.
"That's the thing, she doesn't." Ron slammed his fist on the arm of the couch. "And we're stuck here. Useless." He got up and walked up the stairs to the boys dormitories, not saying another word.
They looked at each other, but no one had any words of encouragement to say. The other students left them alone. Only Dean and Seamus said how sorry they were and Lavender and Parvati asked if they could do anything. But that couldn't change the circumstances. Hermione was petrified, and it was just like Ron said. Short of finding and killing whatever did this to Hermione, they were useless. There was nothing they could do.
"Trilla!" Trilla stopped walking and looked around for the source that was calling her name. It sounded like Harry, but she couldn't be sure. Then Harry and Ron rounded the corner and skidded to a halt in front of her.
"What happened?" She asked them. They were both panting hard and had hopeful expressions on their faces, which was odd these days. Both had been quiet and brooding since Hermione had been petrified, which was completely understandable.
"What do you know about Basilisks?" Ron asked, looking at her hopefully.
"Umm," Trilla didn't know what to say. "Nothing." Harry and Ron looked at each other and their smiles faltered. Usually only George, Fred or Lee asked her questions like that. The end result was always funny and usually explosive. With Harry and Ron, though, Trilla expected that this had to do with something a bit more sinister with Harry's record so far.
"Alright, come with us anyway." Ron grabbed her sleeve and dragged Trilla down the corridor.
"Where are we going?"
"To Myrtle's bathroom. Tom Riddle said that a girl died the first time the Chamber of Secrets was opened and Aragog said basically the same thing. We think she might still be there. It could be Moaning Myrtle."
"Who's Tom Riddle? And who's Aragog?" Whatever Ron and Harry were talking about seemed important, but they seemed to forget that they had been keeping many secrets to themselves the past few months. Trilla would help them in any way they needed short of murder, but first she needed to know what they were talking about.
"Aragog's a giant spider that Hagrid thinks makes a good pet and Tom Riddle's that bloke Harry's been talking to in the diary," Ron answered quickly.
"Diary? Have you been writing secret love notes to someone, Harry?" Harry laughed but Ron just stared at Trilla blankly.
"You spend too much time with Fred and George," he said.
"Thank you. I'll take that as a complement." Trilla froze and paled as they rounded the corner to the girl's bathroom that Moaning Myrtle spent most of her time in. There on the wall was another message underneath the first two.
"Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever." Harry read the message quietly. It was written in blood, just as the other two were. This time it held a much more sinister note. Just who's blood was that written in? Trilla felt an overwhelming sense of dread as she stared at the wall.
"All students will return to their dormitories immediately." McGonagall's magically enhanced voice echoed around the castle. It seemed to echo more than usual. Trilla turned around and saw McGonagall standing a few paces behind Harry, Ron and herself.
"Professor," Harry was the first to gain the ability to speak back, "What's happened?" Slowly, the other teacher's trickled in the corridor. With Professor Dumbledore out of Hogwarts due to Lucius Malfoy, McGonagall was acting as temporary Headmistress. She looked between the three. Torn weather to tell them anything or not.
"They have the right to know, Minerva," Professor Sprout said, laying a hand on her arm.
"Very well then." She turned slowly to face the three, taking as much time as possible without it looking like she was stalling for time. "Someone has been taken into the Chamber itself, I'm afraid." Many of the teachers didn't seem to know this either as there were gasps. Professor Sinistra covered her mouth in horror. Even Professor Lockhart seemed to be shocked.
"Who, Minerva?" The Ancient Runes professor asked the question that they all were thinking. Professor McGonagall's eyes focused on Ron. They were sad, filled with pity, and for the slightest space of time, fear, before McGonagall's face resumed its usual composed look.
Ron stopped breathing for a second and his face got very pale. Panic tried taking over Trilla's mind for a minute until she pushed that thought away. Ginny would be fine. There was nothing to worry about. At least that was what Trilla tried convincing herself.
"Well, we have to get her out of there." Trilla regretted saying that the minute it came out. She had a bad knack for stating the obvious when she didn't know what to say.
"Very true, Black." Everyone turned as Lockhart began talking charismatically. "We should get onto that strait away. I'll just contact the right people at the Ministry and your sister will be back safely in no time at all." The last part was directed at Ron. He just stared back at Lockhart. Trilla wasn't sure if it was because he was still in shock or because he hated and mistrusted Lockhart, as they all did.
"Why don't you go rescue the girl, Gilderoy?" McGonagall looked at him with distaste. "Just last week you were saying how you knew where the Chamber was located all along." The other teachers nodded and murmured their agreement. "It's settled then. Gilderoy, you will rescue Miss Weasley."
Lockhart looked from McGonagall to the three students as if this was all some bad joke between them. "Right," he said, "right. I'll just umm…" Lockhart fished for words uncharacteristically. "Get ready."
McGonagall rolled her eyes as Lockhart practically ran down the hall from whence he came. She regained her usual composure very quickly. "I will alert Molly and Arthur. Please return to Gryffindor Tower." With that she swept down the hallway towards her classrooms.
"We have to go tell Fred and George." Trilla said.
"McGonagall's probably already told them." Ron said. He had regained some of his color and had a determined look in his eyes. "We probably know more than Lockhart does. Come on. We're going to go help him." Ron started off down the hallway. Harry and Trilla exchanged looks before running after him.
Lockhart's room wasn't as they expected it to be. All of the self portraits had been taken off the walls and were stacked in one corner. A trunk, bulging with clothes peeking out under the lid, sat in the middle of the room. "Oh, it's you three." Was all the professor said when they entered. He looked at the briefly before going back to throwing books into a suitcase, not bothering to arrange them in any particular order.
"You're leaving?" Harry said, outraged. "Now?"
"We really need you, Professor. My sister needs you. And you're running out on us?" Ron's voice was laced with venom.
"I don't know where the Chamber of Secret's is or what to do even if I did."
"All that stuff you did, though," Trilla tried to make sense out of what she was hearing. "You knew what to do then."
"I didn't actually do any of that," Lockhart scoffed. "I just took the credit." Trilla's jaw dropped. She expected this out of Uncle Lucius and Draco, not Lockhart, however cocky he might be. "I can't be having you know my secret, though." Lockhart raised his wand only to find three more point at his face. He faltered and Harry easily disarmed him.
"I don't think you'll be leaving just yet, Professor." Trilla motioned Lockhart forward with her wand. Having no choice, he did as he was told.
"Ok, guys," Trilla said as they entered the girls bathroom haunted by the ghost commonly known as Moaning Myrtle. "Now what?"
"Myrtle?" Harry called out tentatively. "Myrtle, can we ask you something?"
"Ooo, Harry!" Myrtle floated out of one of the stalls and smiled flirtatiously at Harry. "What do you want?"
"Uh," Harry glanced at Ron who nodded at him encouragingly. "We want to ask you how you died." Trilla couldn't help but think that it sounded a bit anticlimactic when it was put that way.
"It was simply horrible!" Myrtle was only too happy to share all the gory details. Ron nudged Trilla as Myrtle was talking and handed her a sheet of paper. It was ripped out of a book and had Hermione's handwriting on it. Trilla half listened to Myrtle's story and read the article on Basilisks. Everything suddenly made sense. The voices, the people being petrified – it all fit.
Out of the corner of her eye Trilla saw movement. She raised her wand in Lockhart's direction as he tried to slink backward. He froze, eyes on her wand.
"It's got to be in here somewhere." Harry said. "Look for the Slytherin snake somewhere. That's probably what Salazar Slytherin marked the entrance with."
They found a small snake etched into a tap on one of the sinks. Harry and Trilla exchanged glances. "Parseltongue, do you reckon?" Trilla asked.
"Probably," Harry conceded.
It took a few tries, but after a minute or two Harry finally managed to open the chamber. The sinks completely disappeared, leaving nothing but a large black void in the floor. Trilla lit her wand and held it over the opening. The bottom couldn't be seen.
"Good job, everyone. Well, I really must be going now." Lockhart went to make a dash for the door. Harry and Ron each caught him by an arm and threw Lockhart behind them with all their might.
"You first." Ron pointed his wand at Lockhart's throat.
"Now really, boys." Lockhart swallowed hard. "Don't you think there's another way that…" Ron shoved Lockhart in the chest, causing him to loose his balance and fall backward into the chamber. Whatever he was going to say was lost as he fell and landed on something that made a horrible crunching noise.
"You next, Ron." Harry said. Ron closed his eyes and jumped. Harry turned to Trilla.
"You stay here. In case the basilisk gets out and tries to hurt someone else. You can speak Parseltounge and you're also an heir of Slytherin. It should listen to you." Trilla thought back to the raspy voice she heard and what Dumbledore told her. She knew what Harry wanted her to do.
"You want me to try and keep it out of the Chamber and away from where it could hurt anybody."
"That would be great, yeah." Harry said, smiling.
"Let's just hope that I have a stroke of genius between now and then." Trilla said laughing. Harry followed Ron into the Chamber of Secrets. She needed to buy Harry time.
Only one or two more chapters to go. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who stuck with the story this far, especially everyone who reviewed.