Harry Potter and the Ties of Blood
"What do you know about Horcruxes?"
"Can we backtrack a little?" Harry enquired, perfectly polite even though the words he had just heard should have shocked him to the core. He remembered Sirius telling him a long time ago that he had a brother named Regulus, who had joined the Death Eaters and been killed by Voldemort when he tried to leave. "Regulus Black – you're Sirius's brother?"
Lenoir – Regulus – nodded. "Yes," he said, allowing Harry to come to terms with what he had just said. "Something tells me that it will come as no surprise to you to learn that Sirius was never a Death Eater, he was incarcerated without trial for a crime he never committed."
Harry nodded absently, "Yes, I know that. I met him in my third year here, and he told me the real story. Unfortunately Peter escaped before we could get him to the Ministry, so we were never able to prove his innocence."
"Doesn't surprise me that Sirius found you, you meant the world to him. Must have killed him, knowing that you believed he as good as murdered your parents," Regulus mused. "I … I heard that he was at the Ministry of Magic last year, and he … died there."
"It's true," Harry said simply. "Bellatrix stunned him and he fell through the Veil in the Department of Mysteries."
Regulus closed his eyes for a moment, pain showing briefly on his face before he had his emotions under control, the perfect Pureblood mask back on his face. "I always wanted to come forward, to try and convince the world that he was innocent, to get him out of that godforsaken prison and re-united with you."
"Why didn't you?" Harry asked.
"I couldn't let any of the Death Eaters who were still free learn that I was still alive, not before my work was done. I hid in France under an assumed name – Lenoir means 'the black' in French, I couldn't quite bring myself to give up my name entirely – for many years. I took up my post teaching here during the Tri-Wizard Tournament, because I know that the Dark Lord was stirring and that I would need to be closer to the action."
"What were you doing in France that was so important?" Harry questioned, for the first time actually curious. This could be useful to him in some way. "And Sirius told me you were a Death Eater, didn't Voldemort kill you?"
Regulus flinched a little at the name, but shook his head. "To answer your second question first, I was a Death Eater. I joined the Dark Lord's ranks straight out of Hogwarts, convinced that he was finally doing what was right for the world and purging it of the filth that had found its way into our society. It took me about a month to realise that while I agreed with the Dark Lord's goals, I didn't like his methods.
"I stayed in the Death Eaters for nearly a year, out of fear and out of a growing desire to see the Dark Lord destroyed; the things he did were abominable, and I knew that someone had stop him, and that they would need inside information to do so. For a long time I wanted to be that person, to be the hero and make up for the mistakes I had made, but after awhile I realised that I wasn't anywhere near powerful enough.
"I spent that year researching the Dark Lord and finding out as much as I could of what he was doing to become immortal, so that I would be able to tell someone with the power to defeat him, like Dumbledore, what he was doing. Somewhere along the line he came to suspect me, and eventually he ordered my death. I don't think he realised that my treachery had gone as far as it had, because he sent one of the rank-and-file Death Eaters to do the deed. I modified his memories so that he would remember killing me, and fled England entirely," Regulus let the story pour out, and Harry got the feeling that he had been getting desperate to tell someone.
"As for what I was doing in France, it was a continuation of what I had been doing in the Dark Lord's service – trying to find a way to destroy him. And that takes us back to my earlier question for you: Do you know what a Horcrux is?"
Harry frowned slightly, thinking back to the summer. The word was familiar, he was sure that he had come across it when he had researched the Carcer de Malus in the Potter library. "It's a very dark object," he said slowly, the information coming back to him. "It's created when a dark wizard splits his soul and stores half of it in an object – the Horcrux."
"Correct," Regulus nodded, "I'm surprised that an innocent Gryffindor such as yourself would have any knowledge of such a dark artefact, Mr Potter."
"Innocent?" Harry arched an eyebrow, allowing a faint smile to play across his lips. "Hardly. I found the information when I was researching a new weapon that Voldemort has uncovered. I'd forgotten about it until you mentioned them."
"New weapon?" Regulus asked, but Harry shook his head slightly. He didn't know that he could trust Regulus, and he certainly didn't want to let word of the Carcer de Malus spread to people he wasn't sure of.
"So what about Horcruxes?" Harry turned the discussion away. He felt that Regulus could probably be trusted, but he was far from certain. At the very least he was going to hear the man out, and then think on what he had to say.
"The Dark Lord did a lot of research into becoming immortal, and he found the Horcrux spell, which he decided to use as a fall back measure while he tried to find something better."
"So he has a Horcrux and that was how he survived when he attacked me as a child?" Harry questioned, making sure he was following the story correctly.
"I wish it were that simple," Regulus sighed, "Just before he sent someone to attack me, I located his Horcrux and managed to steal it away, leaving a replica in its place. I was going to take it somewhere safe and destroy it …"
"Well for a start at the time I didn't know how to destroy it, so I left it at my parents house and planned to go back for it … but the Dark Lord ordered my death before I could, and since I decided to let the world believe me dead, I never did get to. Also, just before my 'death' and disappearance, I discovered a very unsettling piece of information: the Dark Lord created more than one Horcrux."
"Do you know how many?" Harry asked quickly.
"That's what I have been doing all of this time in France," Regulus explained wearily, "Trying to identify and locate all of his Horcruxes. Given the recent activity in some of the areas I had suspicions about, I believe that Dumbledore is aware of them as well, and is trying to find them. I'm afraid I didn't manage to find out the exact number that the Dark Lord created. Initially I thought three, as it as a number of some significance, but I know of at least four, so that assumption was invalid."
"So more than four," Harry shivered involuntarily. He remembered what he had read about Horcruxes, and he knew that no one had ever tried to split their soul more than once. Even going that far was terrible, but to try it twice, let alone four or more times. "He truly is a monster," Harry spoke the conclusion of his thoughts out loud.
"Only just realising that, Potter?" Regulus sounded amused, in an almost hysterical way.
"I've always known that he was monstrous, but … even given everything I've seen of him, I still thought he was at least mostly human. Twisted and bent, but human. If he has done what you say then he can claim only the most tenuous of links with humanity."
"That's Merlin's honest truth," Regulus agreed, and for a few moments they were quiet.
"So why are you telling me all this?" Harry asked eventually.
Regulus gave him a surprised look, "I already told you that I know you are the one destined to fight the Dark Lord. If you want to have even the slightest chance of succeeding, you'll need to destroy all of his Horcruxes to render him mortal before he can be killed."
"I suppose I will," Harry nodded. "Thank you for telling me this, Professor Lenoir."
"In private, I would prefer you call me Regulus. After all, you are my god-nephew, if such a thing exists, and my adopted nephew, if it doesn't."
"Adopted?" Harry questioned, the faintest stirrings of surprised curiosity filtering through to him.
"When you were born, Sirius was named your godfather. The war had already started back then, and Sirius didn't want to have children while the world was still under threat. At the same time, he desperately wanted to know that something of him would survive the fight. He absolutely adored you, and he asked permission to do a blood adoption ritual on you and make you his Heir, unless he had any other children."
"Blood adoption," Harry whispered. He had heard of this, both back at Potter Manor and during his political studies class. "That ritual means that I have some of his blood in my veins," he recalled, "I am, both legally and actually Sirius's son." The realisation provoked enough emotion that his eyes filled with tears, and two drops ran down the sides of his face. They dried up again within seconds, but Harry knew that he would be writing to Charles again tonight.
"I read recently that he left everything to you in his Will; because of the blood adoption, you will still inherit the Lordship of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black even if I ever were to let it become public knowledge that I'm still alive," Regulus explained.
"I'm sorry," Harry said automatically, "I wouldn't want to cheat you out of your Inheritance-"
"It doesn't matter to me at all," Regulus assured him, "Better it go to you, really, for a great deal of reasons that I don't really want to go into."
"Once I've Inherited, if there is anything I can do for you – money, a place to live, anything I can help with as the Lord Black, I will do it," Harry promised, mostly on a whim. He felt the tingle of his blood magic a little too late, binding him to his oath.
"Thank you," Regulus whispered, eyes full of emotion that he couldn't quite hide behind his mask.
Harry nodded a distracted acknowledgement, internally going over what he had just said to Regulus, burning the words into his memory so that he would know exactly what he had promised should Regulus ever come to collect.
"So, what are we going to do about the Horcruxes?" he asked after Regulus had gotten himself under control again, and he was convinced that he wouldn't forget his promise. "You said one of them was at the Black House, is that the one at Grimmauld Place?"
"Yes," Regulus nodded quickly. "I tried to get back into the house for it after he returned, but I wasn't able to. I suspect it's under the Fidilius Charm, given how hard I tried to get in."
"It is," Harry said absently, "I know the secret; I can get the item if it's still there."
"The family house elf, named Kreacher, knew something of its significance," Regulus told him, "He promised me that he would keep an eye on it, and make sure it remained safe within the house."
"I know Kreacher," Harry said softly, "I made a deal with him when I inherited him from Sirius that he could keep the things of true importance to him, so long as they weren't completely dark."
"I think a Horcrux would be considered completely dark," Regulus remarked, "But that makes things easy. If you inherited him, then you can summon him and I will ask him if he still has the object."
Harry nodded. "Kreacher!" he called, and a second later the elf appeared, bowing to Harry before looking at where he was.
"Master Regulus!" Kreacher half-screamed half-sobbed, flinging himself at the Political Studies teacher and hugging him tightly around the knees, blubbering indecipherably into his robes.
Regulus patted him gently on the head, "Hello Kreacher, it's good to see you again. Did you do as I asked?"
"Oh yes Master Regulus Sir, Kreacher is keeping it safe for you," the elf babbled, "Kreacher is keeping it where no one notices, does Master Regulus want Kreacher to get it for him?"
"Not just yet Kreacher, just make sure you keep it safe."
"Always, Master Regulus," the elf promised fervently, before coming to the realisation that Harry was still in the room. "Kreacher is sorry Master Harry, what is he being needed for?"
"I called you here to speak with Regulus," Harry reassured the elf. "Why don't you get back to whatever you were doing before I summoned you?"
"Yes Master Harry, Kreacher will be doing that now," the elf said, vanishing with a crack.
"It's still safe," Regulus whispered thankfully. "Now all the remains is finding the rest of them, and then figuring out how to destroy them, then you'll actually be able to kill the Dark Lord when the time comes."
"Should I tell Dumbledore that I know about the Horcruxes, he might know the locations of the other ones, or know how to destroy them," Harry asked. "He would probably be of a lot of help in finding them even if he didn't already know."
Regulus frowned, "This has been my quest, my life's work, for so long. It was hard for me to even share it with you, knowing that you are our prophesised saviour … on the other hand, it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall if you went to Dumbledore and told him straight up that you knew about the Horcruxes."
Harry smiled by rote. "His reaction would be interesting, especially since he is apparently keeping his knowledge of them secret," he agreed politely. "Perhaps we shouldn't involve him just yet … if he did not choose to trust me with this information, then I see no reason to let him know I have it."
"You and the headmaster really are at odds this year," Regulus remarked, shaking his head slightly. "But I agree with you; if he's keeping secrets from you, he can hardly expect you to do anything other than keep secrets in return."
"You know of four Horcruxes you said, do you know where they are? Have you identified them yourself?"
"Only one, the one that Kreacher has. It is a locket, one that was owned by Salazar Slytherin. I know that he managed to get his hands on a cup owned by Helga Hufflepuff, and that he later entrusted it to Bellatrix Lestrange – I am almost certain that he made it a Horcrux. I think it logical to assume, then, that he located items belonging to the other two Founders, and made them Horcruxes as well."
"How would you tell that something was a Horcrux? From what I read, you can make one out of anything, even living beings," Harry said slowly.
"That's true, although making a Horcrux out of a living being would be a little stupid, considering that a living being would have a will of its own and would be able to live its life against the wishes of the Dark Lord that created it. It would be a little too easy to lose track of, but I suppose it would work well enough if you were desperate."
"So we can probably rule out living beings," Harry said softly, "Voldemort isn't a stupid person, if he was, he wouldn't be nearly as much of a threat. It doesn't answer my question though – how do you tell?"
"I am not entirely sure how you would tell if it were a Horcrux. I know that the Dark Lord chose items that were of some significance to him – the locket of Slytherin was a family heirloom, and the rest of the Founders are well known figures of power in our world. Having something from each of them would have been a bit of a power trip for him. I am convinced that Slytherin's locket is one because of its location, and because it resisted all my initial attempts to destroy it."
Harry nodded again. "I was just asking because in my second year, a diary was brought to this school by Lucius Malfoy. The diary was blank, but when you wrote in it, the ink would be absorbed, and then something else would write back to you, in the same ink. It was capable of possessing people, and caused a student who found it to open the Chamber of Secrets. The person writing back turned out to be a sixteen year old Voldemort."
"That definitely sounds like a Horcrux," Regulus agreed immediately, "What happened to this diary?"
"I stabbed it with a basilisk fang," Harry admitted. "All the ink came out and the memory of Tom Riddle – Voldemort's birth name – faded away to nothing. I gave it back to Lucius Malfoy afterwards, but I think it was well and truly destroyed."
"I think so too," Regulus looked a little pale, "Basilisk venom is an extremely potent substance, it should have been strong enough to destroy the soul fragment in the Horcrux. If you saw the memory of the young Dark Lord fade away, then I think it very safe to say that particular Horcrux is gone."
"That's five, too," Harry pointed out, and Regulus shivered. "Do you know of any others?"
Regulus sighed and shook his head, "I know that he entrusted one to Bella – the cup – and that he entrusted something of deep importance to Lucius, which must have been the diary. The locket was hidden in an ocean-cave by a town I think he grew up in. I think he may have hidden something in the village of Little Hangleton. That's where the graveyard that he picked to return to life in."
"His father died there," Harry said softly, "So that must have been where his parents lived, I think he killed his father there."
"I didn't know that," Regulus murmured, "But it would make sense. Killing his father there was one way of asserting his dominance over the place, leaving a Horcrux would be another, as would holding the rebirthing ceremony there. He has always placed a great deal of significance in such things…
"In any case, you must surely be getting hungry now, and I am due back in France for dinner with my fiancé," Regulus shook off the mood and brought their meeting to a close. "I had mostly wanted to maker sure that you were aware of the Horcruxes, since it didn't seem like Dumbledore was going to. I will continue to look for them, as I am sure the Headmaster will, this part of the fight doesn't really need to be your problem."
"Good," Harry nodded, "Voldemort has already left a lot of problems on my plate, it was going to be difficult to find the time to deal with another of them, especially since I doubt one would be here at Hogwarts, and I'm not generally supposed to leave the castle."
"Actually, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he had left a Horcrux in the castle; it is another of the reasons I came to teach here," Regulus corrected him. "As I told you before, he places a lot of significance in places and objects of power or history. Hogwarts would be the ultimate place to leave something he considered precious."
Harry sighed and nodded, "I suppose you are right, it would make a lot of sense for him hide one here. If I find the time, I'll try and figure out where he might have left it," he said, although he already had a fairly good idea. "I'll let you know if I hear anything of interest."
"And I will do the same," Regulus assured him. "We could perhaps meet up again sometime for a less ominous discussion, I have enjoyed talking with you, Mr Potter, and being able to share my secret with someone after all this time."
"I'll try and find time to come and see you then, sir," Harry promised, "But I'm quite busy, with Quidditch, DA, classes, homework and some other research I've been working on."
"I understand," Regulus assured him. "Take care of yourself, Mr Potter. Good night."
Harry walked slowly back to the Gryffindor common room after the meeting with Regulus, digesting all of the information. It was ever so slightly disturbing to consider how completely twisted Voldemort was, to have split his soul Merlin knew how many ways. Harry wrote a mental note to go down to the Chamber of Secrets and see if he could find anything resembling a Horcrux down there; it seemed the most likely place for Voldemort to have hidden something in the castle.
"There you are Harry," Hermione sang out when Harry climbed through the portrait hole. "Where have you been?"
"Professor Lenoir wanted to see me," he explained absently.
"He's the Political Studies teacher, isn't he?" Hermione asked, frowning at the slightly unfamiliar name. "You know, I've never seen him around the castle, where does he live?"
"He lives in France," Harry explained, "He's got some sort of magical link between his house and his classroom here."
"But … how would that work? All the wards around the castle should stop you from being able to establish a link like that," Hermione said, frowning at the puzzle. Harry shrugged, but she'd already stopped paying attention to him, her mind focused on trying to figure out how the magic was done. "Damn, curfew already, I wanted to go and check the library," she said a minute later, getting up from Ron's lap. "I'm just going to check my copy of Hogwarts: A History," she announced, heading up to the girl's dorm.
"Thanks mate," Ron said, voice laden with joking sarcasm. Harry gave a slight smile in return.
"I'm going up to the dorm," Harry told his friend, "I need to write a letter home, but I'll be down later for a game of chess if you like."
"Sure," Ron sighed. "I suppose I should get started on that assignment for Flitwick."
"Isn't it due tomorrow?" Harry asked; he'd finished the assignment last week.
"Yeah," Ron sighed dramatically again. "I got distracted," he explained, "And I didn't want to say anything to Hermione, because she'd get all angry at me leaving it to the last minute. Do you think you could give me a hand with it?"
"I could read over it when you're done," Harry offered, already heading toward the stairs to the boys dormitory. He didn't really want to waste time looking through Ron's essay, but it was the sort of thing a mate would do, and he was sure that he want Ron and Hermione to still be close once he got his emotions back.
"Thanks mate," Ron called after him. Harry spent a long time in the dormitory that evening, writing down the important details of his conversation with Regulus so that Charles would be kept up to date. He also included a section about his emotions, and the fact that he had cried when he realised that Sirius had actually made him his son. He thought that Charles would especially want to know about that.
Once his letter was finished, he lay on his bed for awhile, enjoying just being alone, out of the crowd of students that he had no connection to, not needing to pretend to feel anything for anyone. He caught sight of the dreamcatcher as he lay there, and sat up with a sigh, unfastening it from the wall and touching his wand to the stone in the centre and whispering the words to a spell he'd memorised before returning to Hogwarts.
He sank immediately into his mind, watching the dreams and memories unfold as though from a distance, not truly a part of them. He watched as Sirius fell through the Veils again and again, saw Cedric's lifeless eyes staring at him. Those were his own nightmares, he was sure, but there were others, featuring the torture and death of people he didn't know, and he knew that Voldemort had sent these to plague his sleep.
"Harry," Fleur greeted him the next morning just before sun rise as he jogged down to meet her at the edge of the forest. "I haven't seen you for a few days."
"Sorry," he apologised by habit, "I've been a little busy with my homework, can't always get away in the early hours of the morning. I've just been practicing whenever I find the time."
Fleur nodded and the two of them settled into their morning routine. Since that first morning, Fleur hadn't said anything about it was that she needed to find out if he was worthy of, and the otherness that he had seen in her eyes that day hadn't shown itself again. It was pleasant, and Harry enjoyed their mornings together as much as he enjoyed anything these days.
Once they were done, they walked together up to the castle for breakfast. "How is your Defence group going?"
"We're an offence group this year," Harry said offhandedly, "It's going fairly well, I think. I'm teaching them a lot of Auror grade magic, I was researching it all summer. If they ever get attacked and can't run, they'll stand a chance."
"You are not teaching them to incapacitate and run away any more?" Fleur asked, sounding almost disapproving.
Harry smiled winsomely at her, "We've got a competent Defence teacher this year," he pointed out, "She's teaching us everything we need to know about how to incapacitate, to defend ourselves from the dark magic itself. I don't really need to cover that again, although we do spend some time on defence spells every session as well. I'm just focusing on attack, for when they can't get away."
Fleur smiled at the compliment, and they walked in silence for a little while. "You should come to The Burrow for Christmas," Fleur said suddenly, just before they reached the castle doors.
"Why?" Harry asked, surprised.
Fleur paused, then shrugged her shoulders uncomfortable, "It would be good; the Weasley's missed you over summer, and my family will be there, I would like for you to meet them …" she trailed off, "Please, think about it?"
"I'll think about it," Harry said slowly, "But I had already made plans for Christmas with a good friend of mine."
"It doesn't have to be Christmas day," Fleur told him, "Just come to The Burrow over the holidays, for a little while. Please?"
"I'll think about it," Harry promised again, and Fleur nodded, realising that was the best she was going to get out of him. They walked into the Great Hall together, separating to go to their own tables for the meal. The few male students up this early in the morning gave Harry their customary jealous glances. More than a few of the students seemed convinced that he and Fleur were having an affair, although no one said as much to either of their faces.
An owl Harry recognised as belonging to Charles landed while he was eating his breakfast, and he frowned. He'd sent Hedwig out last night, so this couldn't be a response to the letter that he had just sent. He broke the seal and read the brief letter quickly.
Try and get the Headmaster to let you out of the castle this weekend, I have made a breakthrough.
Harry stood up immediately and went up to the staff table, where Dumbledore was sitting. "Harry, my dear boy how can I help you?" Dumbledore asked, his blue eyes twinkling.
"You remember the matter I spoke with you about at the beginning of the term?" Harry spoke softly, but chose his words with care just in case. Dumbledore shivered slightly, but nodded, "The friend I was staying with over summer has found something he thinks might be important, but he won't trust it to a letter. He wants me to go home briefly on the weekend to speak with him."
"I don't know if that's a good idea …" Dumbledore trailed off uncomfortably. Harry knew that the headmaster was trying to say that he didn't want Harry out of his sight and out of his control.
"It isn't supposed to be a good or bad idea," Harry said shortly, "And I'm not really asking your permission, Headmaster, I'm letting you know that I'm going home on the weekend, for a little while. I will probably spend Saturday night there and return to the castle early on Sunday morning."
The twinkle left Dumbledore's eyes, "Harry-" he started, voice full of disapproval.
"I am sorry if I seemed disrespectful, sir," Harry interrupted smoothly, voice perfectly apologetic, "I didn't mean to. I will be going because it could be truly important to the war, and so there is really no choice about my going."
"I suppose you are right," Dumbledore nodded in acknowledgement. "I do wish you would trust me, Harry. We would make a formidable team."
"I would find it easier to do that if you trusted me, Headmaster," Harry said simply, and returned to the Gryffindor table before Dumbledore had a chance to respond.
"Open," Harry hissed at the sink in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom; his classes were finished for the day and he was taking the opportunity go and investigate the Chamber of Secrets, looking for Voldemort's Horcrux.
The sink moved away and Harry stepped immediately into the pipe that was exposed, falling rapidly down under the foundations of the castle. When he reached the bottom, his robes were covered with slime, and his feet crunched disconcertingly on the bones of small creatures unlucky enough to get stuck down here.
"Scourgify," Harry murmured, waving his wand at himself. His robes were returned to their immaculate appearance, and another quick spell had a ball of light floating above his head and illuminating the way.
The last time he had been down here, Harry hadn't been in any mood to appreciate the surroundings; he had been too scared that a basilisk would appear out of nowhere and try to eat him. Now he was paying a little more attention. There were carvings of snakes all along the walls, and what looked like torch brackets, although there were no torches to be seen. It would have been very impressive once, Harry thought, although now it was just damp and mouldy and unappealing.
It didn't take him long to reach the place where the cave in had separated him from Ron in his second year; the tiny hole that Ron had managed to create for Harry and Ginny to crawl through had shifted and was no longer an option, but that was alright; Harry knew a lot more magic now. A few spells banished the rocks and repaired the roof, so it wouldn't happen again. Harry stepped over the shed basilisk skin and continued on his way.
Soon enough he reached the doors to the Chamber itself. "Open," he hissed again, and they did. The first thing that Harry noticed was the stench of rotting basilisk; he gagged and barely managed to perform a spell that would keep him from smelling it. The corpse was right near the door and absolutely disgusting. Harry spent a few more minutes clearing it away. If he had thought about it earlier, he could have harvested the parts for potions ingredients, but it was far too late for that now.
A few more charms took care of the foul scent in the air, and when Harry reversed the spell that had prevented him from selling anything he gave a sigh of relief. The air now smelt perfectly fresh, and left Harry to deal with his next problem: trying to find the Horcrux down here.
Not really expecting any results, Harry raised his wand and incanted, "Accio Horcrux." Nothing happened, and Harry tried the spell again, this time only thinking the incantation, but willing with all his might for the object to appear. Again, nothing.
"Well, that would just be too easy," he remarked with a sigh, and set around examining the chamber itself. He was struck by the beauty of it: the first time he had been here, it had been a sinister place. He had come to rescue a student from the jaws of death, and he hadn't really thought of it as anything other than terrifying.
He walked through the forest of pillars, all carved intricately with serpents and decorated with emerald eyes that glittered faintly when Harry's light shone on them. It took him almost an hour to cover every inch of ground in the Chamber, but there were no immediately apparent hiding spots, or any objects to be seen at all.
Pulling his Firebolt out of his pocket, Harry whispered a quick charm to return it to its normal size, and mounted. He took off quickly, soaring up to hover in front of the massive carving of Salazar Slytherin himself. "Speak to me Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four," he commanded in Parsletongue, remembering the words that Riddle had used to summon the basilisk.
Slowly, Slytherin's mouth opened, and Harry peered warily inside. If he had been able to feel fear, he might have been afraid that there had been more than one basilisk, as it was he felt a little nervous, and took what precautions he could. There was nothing moving inside, and when he directed his ball of light to go in ahead of him, there was no giant snake inside.
The hidden chamber here was massive, and would have left the basilisk with plenty of room when it was curled up here, presumably sleeping away the centuries while it waited to be called. It was also completely empty, now that the basilisk itself was gone. Voldemort obviously hadn't left anything in here.
With a frown, Harry flew down and landed again. The Chamber of Secrets made an obvious hiding spot for Voldemort; he would have considered himself the only person who knew where the entrance was, and also the only person able to get inside. Perhaps there were further secrets hidden within the chamber.
A glance at his watch told Harry that he wouldn't have time to explore that theory immediately, as it was already nearly dinner time. He would have to come and explore more thoroughly, try to uncover any further secrets he could down here some other time.
Not bothering to dismount from his broom, Harry flew back up the tunnel, and then up the pipe, emerging into the bathroom once more. Myrtle still wasn't present, Harry was happy to note as he slipped out of the door and headed for the Great Hall, his broom once more shrunk and hidden in a pocket.
As he was passing the library on his way down to the Great Hall, Harry saw a group of first year students emerge, talking excitedly amongst themselves. In the middle of the group he saw Sebastian, smiling at his friends and looking healthier than Harry had ever seen him before. Sebastian noticed him as well, and quietly excused himself from his friends, dropping back to walk beside Harry.
"Hey Sebastian, how are you?" Harry asked quietly.
"Reall good," Sebastian smiled, "I've got friends in my House now, and sometimes people from other houses talk to me as well."
"I'm glad to hear it," Harry told him. "Are you enjoying Hogwarts more now?"
"Yeah," Sebastian nodded enthusiastically. "It's much better now. The lessons are kind of interesting, but sometimes they are too easy and sometimes they are too hard, not a lot of the in-the-middle, you know?"
"I remember the feeling," Harry said, thinking back to his own first year. He had been more concerned with the Philosopher's Stone and Quidditch than his lessons that year.
"I … I wanted to thank you, too," Sebastian said quietly, sounding embarrassed now, "Dad said that you found me down by the lake that night, and that I would have d-died if you hadn't brought me back to the castle."
"You're more than welcome. I noticed you've been looking healthier since then."
"Dad is making sure I take care of myself," Sebastian explained, a trace of disgust in his voice telling Harry that he was no closure to accepting what he was than he had ever been. "He went and got me blood from a Muggle hospital place and made sure I drank it. It was gross, but … I feel a lot better now."
"I'm glad to hear it," Harry smiled again. "If you need someone to talk to about all of this, please don't hesitate to come and find me, or send me an owl and I'll meet you somewhere."
Sebastian looked nervous at his feet, and shrugged. Harry didn't push the issue, knowing that when he was ready, Sebastian would come to him. He just had to keep making sure that the kid knew he was there, and make sure he didn't get himself killed. "Anyway," Sebastian spoke up again, "I've got to and catch up with my friends. I just wanted to say thanks."
Harry was smiling as he watched Sebastian run off, following the boy at a more sedate pace down to the Great Hall for dinner. As he passed the Slytherin table, he saw Zabini give him an inconspicuous wave, and nodded slightly in acknowledgement as he headed over to the Gryffindor table and his friends.
"Come sit with us, Harry," Neville invited from between Ginny and Seamus. Ron and Hermione hadn't come down to the Great Hall yet, so Harry went and joined them, listening with half an ear as Dean – sitting on Ginny's other side – tried once again to explain football to Neville, with Seamus occasionally butting in with less than helpful comments.
Throughout the meal, his mind was focused on the upcoming weekend, when he would be going home and seeing Charles again. He wondered what his Sire had discovered that was important enough to call Harry away from Hogwarts.
Chapter Edited 16 July 2008
Sorry this chapter took awhile to get out. I was all busy and distracted. Next week my bosses are away, so I might have some extra time for writing, although I'm not sure. They might leave me with lots of work to do.
Since I am using Horcruxes, do you want me to use the full-Canon ones – Harry, Nagini, the Cup, Ring, Diadem and Locket – or try and go more my own way?
I've already made up my mind on a few of them, but I would like to see your input on the others. (No, I won't tell you which ones I've made my mind up on). Bear in mind that what Regulus said earlier in the chapter is just what he, the character, thinks. He doesn't know for sure, and so might have guessed wrong on some of them!