Thanks for all the reviews. Keep them coming.

The next year's going to be very different and hopefully I'm gonna make Harry's disinterested side come out more.

If you have ideas for how to proceed let me know; it's always great to be inspired.


Chapter 8

Ron Weasley

"We should find Lockhart," Neville mentioned.

"He'll only slow us down. He probably doesn't know anything!" I informed, but Neville shook his head. It was grating on my nerves. Every second we wasted talking was seconds wasted not acting.

"He might help us, in some way," Neville urged me and I nodded and moved towards the staircase leading to the professors office. I didn't want to waste time, so I gave up arguing with Neville. "I find Lockhart and you find Potter," Neville looked uncertain for a moment, but suddenly steeled himself. I'm glad he took the job, because Potter bothered me for some reason and I didn't want to waste time arguing with him.

"Sure," he agreed and I watched as Neville shifted direction towards the library. I hoped, for his sake, Potter was there. I wish now I had asked to go for Potter instead; he'd undoubtedly be easier to persuade than Lockhart.

"Professor Lockhart?" I knocked on the door urgently and it took only seconds before it was opened urgently. Lockhart looked dishevelled and sweaty and I could see stacked boxes from behind him. Anger swelled in me by his betrayal.

"You're packing?" I questioned, my voice reaching an uncomfortable pitch.

"Yes, dear boy, unfortunately I have some--- and I know you're not grown enough to understand, but us adults…" Lockhart rambled. I'm not sure what happened, but the urge of injustice I felt was too much and I blasted Lockhart back into his office. As he lay on the floor I began to feel panic. I'd attacked a teacher. I grabbed his wand and threw it out the window and then froze him, thinking it would be wisest to bring him with me, if not only to use him as bait in some way.

***

Neville Longbottom

The brief surge of surety I had felt when being told I'd be getting Potter was slipping through my fingers. Panic was settling in and I wasn't sure of how to fight it off. What if Potter didn't want to help? The panic I felt dimmed; of course he'd help, he was like that. He was the Boy Who Lived.

The library was empty when I got there, of course, but I nevertheless ran it through, knowing that Potter always hid in the back. I don't know why he never followed the rules, but he always stayed despite warnings having been issued.

"Potter!" I was so relieved to see him that I almost fell to the ground in exhaustion. "You're needed! I mean, Ginny Weasley has been taken. The Chamber of Secrets is nearby and we have to go there!" I think I rambled and Potter seemed unimpressed, or surprised.

"What does that have to do with me?" His voice was soft and I felt as if everything stopped for just a brief moment. I regained my breath.

"You're a parselmouth! You can help us defeat the monster, because it's a snake!" I explained hurriedly, motioning for him to come.

"And rush into what? Some chamber?" Potter looked unconvinced and I stopped my mental tracks. Why wasn't he coming? Didn't he understand?

"Potter, you have to help! You're the only one with the ability to speak to snakes! It's Ron's sister!" I suddenly realised what the look he was giving me meant. He didn't care. He didn't even look the slightest bit worried. Panic rose. "What's wrong with you?! You're the Boy Who Lived; you're supposed to help us!"

***

I was oddly calm when I reached Ron, Potter trailing behind me. I think he assumed that I'd be hexing him, but my instincts told me to hit him instead and it had given me the second I needed to stun him. I actually stunned him! I've never been able to stun before!

"Neville, what happened with Potter?" Ron was pale, but his worry seemed to fade for a second.

"And Professor Lockhart," I replied, seeing the limp Professor on the ground. Ron growled something too low for me to hear and then his eyes shot towards Potter. He didn't ask anything, but I think he might've been afraid of my answer as to why Potter was unconscious. By mutual agreement we pushed Lockhart down the pipe first. The echo of his landing reached us and I could hear that he had regained consciousness. Without hesitation Ron jumped down and I threw Potter next and followed suit. A queasy feeling was spreading inside of me.

***

Severus Snape

No portraits knew anything about the events and nor did the ghost. I worried that we would have to floo the Ministry, but I realised that we wouldn't have any choice soon. Albus's options were running scarce and the Weasley family were inconsolable.

But it was soon unravelled. And it came in the package of four students, one covered in blood and slime, who turned out to be Harry Potter. It was Albus's glare that silenced me, but otherwise I'm sure my rant would've been heard of the way to Hogsmeade. For everything I've done, trying to keep him safe due to a stupid dept I feel towards his father the child has the nerve to go hunt down some dangerous psychopath.

"Oh Ginny!" Molly Weasley crushed her daughter in a tight embrace and both girls sobbed. I looked away from the scene in distaste and focused on Potter, who looked very grim and eyes diverted towards the ground. What thoughts ran through his mind right now? I wondered.

"I believe there's quite the story to tell," Albus looked at the three boys over his half-moon spectacles and it was noted, by all, how Potter looked at the two others with a murderous glare and they, in turn, seemed to edge farther away. I realised this was the first time I had seen the boy show such hostility, but I didn't delve into it as their teenage-issues are none of my concern.

"Boys?" Albus prodded and fretted under the Headmaster's watchful gaze.

"Neville overheard that my sister had been taken!" Weasley's words made sense and I was suddenly able to see how this could spiral into actions.

"And pray tell, Mr Weasley, why you found your teachers inadequate to take care of the situation?" I questioned angrily, but a snort from Potter silenced me.

"Mr Potter?" Albus questioned before I could throw a fit. I assume it was the wisest things as well.

"You've hardly shown yourself capable at handling this situation, Sir," Potter had the nerve of saying. I frowned, angered.

"And so you decided to play the hero, Potter!" My voice was layered with mockery and I enjoyed the tinge of red staining the boy's cheeks.

"I didn't go. They forced me at wand point!" Potter looked up at the Gryffindors, but the anger he seemed to have felt moments before had evaporated and he simply stared at them almost bored. I could still see the tension of his jaw as he spoke, which seemed to be the only indication of his anger.

"Only a little! And how could you refuse?" Longbottom questioned, his voice was accusing as if Potter had done something terrible wrong that I wasn't entirely sure was.

"From the top, please!" Everyone fell silent and Weasley and Longbottom shared a glance.

"Well, we heard Ginny was taken and … well Hermione figured out where the chamber might be! And what was in it, too. We heard Lockhart would go there to fight the monster, but didn't know where it was, so we went to tell him," Ron Weasley informed as if this was simple logic.

"And where is Professor Lockhart?" Minerva asked, not seeing the Professor. The kids shared a glance and Potter barked out a laugh. This was not the Potter I knew, but I assumed it was the stress.

"Well, he hit his head … and seemed a bit delusional now. We bound him in his office" Longbottom explained uncertain and I briefly wondered how Lockhart hit his head. Longbottom was holding back.

"The beginning," Minerva pointed out. Madam Pompfrey ushered Mr and Mrs Weasley out of the room with their offspring, leaving only Ron Weasley back with Potter and Longbottom.

"Lockhart was going to leave, so we, I, forced him to come with us. Neville fetched Potter. When we got there we found the entrance, or what we assumed it to be, and got Potter to open it" I looked towards Potter. He seemed to have found some inner peace and held a neutral expression. Almost, his stance seemed much too tight for someone relaxed.

"They had me at wand point," Potter informed once more, his voice cool and collected. He fell silent, disinterested in divulging any more information.

"We went into the hole. Then down there Lockhart tried to grab Ron's wand and the cave crashed, leaving Potter on the other side than us," Longbottom's voice still held the tone of a scared boy. I wondered how he could ever get the guts to do something like this.

"And then what?" Albus prodded kindly.

"We gave Potter his wand so he could find my sister and then we'd follow him once we got rid of the stones," silence fell as Weasley spoke, "we didn't want to waste time! That's why we sent Potter ahead!" He explained; fearful that he was being punished for saving some time. Still, Potter's lack of interest in sharing was bothering me. What happened then? I shared a look with the Headmaster.

"Mr. Potter?" Albus questioned, "I believe the next part is yours," Albus smiled kindly once more and the boy stood a little straighter.

"I went into the chamber and there I met Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort's younger self, who had trapped Ginny Weasley through the diary and was leeching of her life. We fought and I managed to destroy the diary." Potter's voice was swift and pointed. I stared at him unable to comprehend what had happened.

"How did you destroy the diary?" I wondered.

"With the basilisk's tooth. It was the monster lurking around at Hogwarts, by the way." His words could seem careless and amused, but his tone was distracted and neutral. It made me uncertain of how to read him correctly.

"How the hell did you kill a basilisk?" My voice had risen and I hadn't noticed. Albus sent me a warning look.

"I believe this conversation can be held off for a short while. Severus, Minerva, please escort the Mr. Longbottom and Mr. Weasley to the hospital wing."

***

Minerva pulled her Gryffindors to the hospital wing and I was left the roam the castle for a short while, possibly figure out the true events. I moved deliberately towards the girl's bathroom.

"Ah, Professor," Filch greeted me. "I just met Mr. Malfoy, he looked quite angry," the caretaker looked happy at the thought. I wanted to tell him that he, Filch, would be the first to go should Lucius ever get his will through.

"Thank you," I replied, "the potion is ready, so you should probably go the hospital wing to see to your cat." The caretaker took off and I was left alone. I stared towards the bathroom, equally curious and worried. I had to know what happened and I made me move my feet. I managed to ignore the thoughts of a possible confrontation between Lucius and Albus and pushed the door open.

It looked remarkably normal, but I could hear the reason for girls not to enter gurgle in the system somewhere. I was quick to locate the right sink, but no spells allowed me to pass.

"Hello Professor," the sweet singsong voice of Murtle greeted me. She made a hiccupping sound.

"I need to get down there; can you see if I can get in, if there's anything to trigger a response?" I turned to the ghost who seemed eager at the prospect of helping.

"Oooooh no," she giggled strangely, "I cannot go down there; I've tried. There's something that keeps us away." My hopes fell to the ground. How could I solve this otherwise? I could hardly ask Potter, since it was him I was trying to decipher.

Within hours I manage to settle into a nice sense of familiarity. Potter had been in a small accident in the Slytherin common room, apparently due to him freeing the Malfoy family elf. The story is later given to me by Albus. I'm also informed that Potter didn't add much more to the story and it leaves me with a sense of curiosity. Only Potter could run into a wayward house-elf, willing to go through hell of his bonded family to save him; typical Potter-luck. I bloody well didn't have a house-elf save me. It's despicable how everyone adores him, even elves.

It makes me a little nasty towards the boy, but he doesn't seem to react to my foul mood. It would be a wonderful excuse to give him twenty detentions for the next year. It's nice that things seem normal again.

End of year 2.


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