Killing the Prey
I still don't own HP or GW
Parseltongue is in Italics
Heero looked at the snake's body in shock, "that was rather…"
"Anti-climactic," Zechs dry voice came from over his right shoulder, and Heero nodded. His eyes traced several roosters who were strutting around the room, one would cry out and set the rest off, "so…"
"Are you sure it's dead?" Quatre looked at the huge snake and watched it intently to make sure it wasn't going to spring back to life.
Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor Snape and Professor Kettleburn cast spells at the carcass, "it's very dead." Professor Kettleburn confirmed with a single decisive nod from Professor Snape and the headmaster.
The sound of clicking and several flashes of light shown in the room and they all turned to WuFei, as he lowered the camera and gave a shrug, "it's for Duo, you know as well as I do that he's going to whine about not being able to be here." The other pilots gave snorts of amusement but agreed.
Trowa came into the room; Harry clutched his hand when he saw the size of the snake, "wow!" Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey came in behind them.
"Wow, indeed, Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall said from beside him, than she repeated it under her breath, "wow indeed."
"So let me get this straight, you are saying, yes you acknowledge that there might be a large snake attacking the students and the large snake might be a basilisk but because a Pureblood hasn't been attacked yet, just a muggle and a muggleborn student, you are not willing to close the school during Winter break?" Quatre's zero voice put a chill down Lucius Malfoy's spine. Malfoy prided himself on only being afraid of three people (that he would admit to) one was his father, the second was the Dark Lord and the third was his wife, but this boy… no this young man filled him with dread.
Lucius sputtered but Lord Parkinson spoke up, "it is not that Mr. Winner, we have several children who have no place to go over the Winter Holidays and as such they stay at Hogwarts."
"I am willing to offer my chalet in France for the three weeks of the break," Quatre countered, "I would ask to have a few teachers to chaperone of course, but if you will send me a list of the students who would be staying I will personally write to their parents and offer my home saying that Hogwarts needs to update their security etc. etc. and my home is opened to their children during the renovations."
The men in the room sputtered and talked and argued for another twenty minutes before Heero casually remarked to Quatre, "I wonder if you should ask The Daily Prophet to write a piece about how the Governors of Hogwarts, people who are honor bound to protect children in the school, are unwilling to shut the school down in light of these attacks, just because their children haven't been affected."
"We could always put their children in the second floor, so the next time the Basilisk gets out…"
"That will not be necessary," Mr. Turpin hastily said, "your kind offer of your home in France is most welcome." Quatre tried not to look at Malfoy too smugly… he really did.
Students were very excited. Many of those who were going home to be with family were actually jealous of those 'staying' students. A chalet in France owned by Quatre Winner was nothing to be sneered at! The arrangements had been kept under a very tight silence as teachers didn't want other students deciding to 'stay' at the last minute. There were many jealous stares and smug looks passed around the breakfast table before the train was boarded that day.
"Wait," Hermione stopped Ron before she got into the carriage, "where's Harry?"
"He's staying with the pilots and will be spending Christmas with them," Ron reassured her.
"But…" Hermione protested.
"It'll be fine, Hermione," Ron said with an impatient edge to his voice, "come on the train won't wait for us!" Hermione bit her lip before getting into one of the horseless carriages.
"We know where the creature gets into the castle proper," WuFei said, "its entrance is in the pipes of the girl's bathroom on the second floor. We believe it is a basilisk because Harry has been hearing it off and on all year."
"Mr. Potter is a Parselmouth?" Professor Kettleburn looked very excited, "what a gift!" He beamed at the boy who smiled shyly at him, "a most misunderstood and mislabeled gift, but a gift indeed." Harry flushed at the praise and then grinned cheekily at the Professor
Professor Snape fought very hard to keep his eyes from rolling as he cleared his throat to bring the excited professor back on track, "yes, very exciting but this gift needs to be kept very secret."
"Of that I am well aware," Kettleburn said a bit sourly, "my great-aunt Agatha was able to speak with crows, let's just say when the Wizarding community found out about it… well it wasn't a very pleasant time after that and Aunt Agatha had to move out of England."
Harry began looking a bit concerned and Quatre put a hand on his shoulder to reassure the boy. Harry glanced up at the blond than his eyes sought out the Headmaster to see his reaction. Dumbledore's expression was smooth and calm, but Heero had not missed the unease he had seen in it when he had learned of the unexpected (and unwelcomed) news.
"I have to be looking at a snake and I can't tell I switched languages," Harry told the Care of Magical Creatures Professor.
"Hmmm… well we know the best way to kill a basilisk is with roosters, but they were killed at the beginning of the school year," Professor Kettleburn mused.
"Surely those are not the only ones in the whole world, or even in the whole town of Hogsmeade," WuFei scoffed.
"No," Professor Sprout said, "I know Mrs. Grady off of Merchant's road has a fine hen house."
"Harry," Quatre began.
"I know… I know…" Harry pouted, "I am to open the door or whatever, Professor Snape and Commander Zechs are going in first with Heero and WuFei. I am to stay with Trowa and with Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey, while the rest of you go down there." Trowa was trying very hard not to pout as well. Who was staying with Harry had been decided in a very neck and neck game of rock, scissors, paper and he had 'lost' to WuFei. Harry moved closer and slipped his cold hand in the taller teen's. Trowa looked down at the boy who was trying very hard to hide his nervousness but he gave him a very reassuring squeeze as the teachers and pilots searched the room for the entrance.
Myrtle was watching the whole thing with shocked interest, her bathroom never saw this much use nor filled with so many 'boys!' "Here!" Kettleburn said, "there is a snake carved on this tap."
Harry came over to where the Magical Creature's Professor was pointing and squinted than blinked as several flashlight beams shown on it. Harry nervously looked around the room than back at the snake, "Open," he said.
"English," Quatre said softly in his ear.
Harry huffed, than squinted as the torchlight flickered on the snake making the snake look alive, "can you not shine the lights on it, if the torchlight flickers it makes it look real." Lights were quickly flicked off and Harry tried again, "OPEN!"
"Well done!" Kettleburn exclaimed as the sink moved in and down and a long chute appeared.
Harry leaned forward a bit, grinning back at the person who quickly clamped a hand on his shoulder, "I'm not going down, Professor Snape, just looking."
"And if the basilisk had been waiting in the chute for you?" Professor Snape asked his voice flat and Harry flushed in embarrassment.
"Oh Mr. Potter probably wouldn't have been hurt, I believe a Parselmouth is immune to the snake's stare," Professor Kettleburn said absently, than sent several fireballs down the chute, "it's quite… filthy," he muttered, and cast several cleaning charms. "Now than," he was about to take a step forward when an exasperated Snape grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back.
"I believe we were letting those with protection against the basilisk to go first as well as those armed?" Professor Snape said his voice droll. Professor Kettleburn flushed as Harry tried not to snicker.
Several dozen more cleaning spells were cast down before Zechs and WuFei put on their special UV glasses and took a step forward, "one two three," Zechs said before the two jumped into the drain. Professor Snape waited a full thirty seconds before he and Heero went next, followed by Quatre and Professor Kettleburn thirty seconds after that. A few seconds later a beautiful doe came into view made of pure light. It walked into the center of the room and Professor Snape's voice was heard, "all clear," Professor Snape's voice said, "a bit slimy still around the sixty second mark, but we cleaned and cushioned the bottom, we are ready for you."
Professor McGonagall, Trowa, Madam Pomfrey and Harry waiting (impatiently) for the all clear as Professor Dumbledore and Professor Flitwick joined the explorers both carrying two black burlap bags.
The group moved forward after Professor Snape sent off his messenger and searched the tunnel. WuFei noticed the small skeletons littering the floor, "guess we know what it's been eating for years." Professor Snape nodded and he began vanishing them from the pathway.
"What is that?" Heero said softly as his flashlight shown on something littering the floor.
"It's too flat to be the snake, skin perhaps?" WuFei said before cautiously moving forward than whistling in amazement, "this thing is huge!" He did a rough estimate with his eyes, "between fifteen and twenty meters long." Professor Flitwick and Headmaster Dumbledore joined them as they continued forward. It was almost a five minute walk before they met solid wall with two snakes guarding it.
"Damn," Quatre sighed.
"We need Mr. Potter's unique expertise," Professor Snape's next patronus said when it came up the pipe.
Harry vibrated with happiness and impatience as Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey did a quick rock, scissors, paper game to see who would go first. Professor McGonagall lost so she went first Madam Pomfrey waited about ten seconds before following. Harry looked up at Trowa and grinned, "can I go first?" he asked. Trowa smirked at him but nodded and Harry darted forward, hopping impatiently from foot to foot until Trowa nudged his shoulder giving him the go ahead. Trowa waited a few seconds than looked at Myrtle before following the group down.
Headmaster Dumbledore had met the group at the bottom of the chute and was busy setting up balls of lights in the chamber. When Trowa joined the group they followed the tunnel passing the huge snake skin which had Madam Pomfrey paling quite dramatically. They came to the wall with the two snakes carved on it. Harry took a deep breath; yes this was exciting, but very very scary. Professor Snape watched Potter's face as he realized that this was not all about adventures and nodded to himself. The group spread out so that it was against the wall on either side of the two carved snakes. Trowa stood behind Harry, his hands on both the boy's shoulders, "hopefully one more time Mr. Potter." Professor Snape said his voice calm and Harry nodded.
"OPEN!" he hissed and yelped when the doors began to open and he was quickly scooped into a pair of strong arms and pulled against the wall, behind Trowa. WuFei listened and heard a hissing sliding sound coming closer to them, Harry heard an impatient demand for real food. Professor Flitwick and Headmaster Dumbledore moved to the open door and threw the black burlap bags into the room, than cast a quick slicing spell on the fabric. Several roosters came out and began to cluck angrily, the Basilisk hissed in agitation (and Harry learned some interesting new swear words!) Dumbledore sent a large ball of light into the room to imitate the sunrise and that set the roosters off!
Back to the present!
Harry tugged on Trowa's arm, "Trowa?" the tall boy looked down at him, "now what are we going to do with it?"
Again silence filled the room as everyone took stock, "It can be used for potions ingredients," was said by Professor Snape at the same time Professor Kettleburn piped up, "it can be used in Care of Magical Creatures for NEWTs students when they get back from Winter Break." Both Professors looked at each other and looked as though they were about to protest when Dumbledore interrupted, "we can bring students down here for Care of Magical Creatures for a few weeks, and then you can have it for Potion ingredients bringing your NEWTs students down here for ingredient preparation instruction." Both men looked mollified at the arrangement and put their heads together before casting several status charms on the dead snake.
"However there is one small difficulty we might have," WuFei said, "how do we, and will the students get out?"
"I highly doubt," Professor Flitwick said looking around the room, "that Slytherin had only one way in and out of this chamber," the others spread out, the pilots using high powered flashlights, the professor's using high powered lumos.
Harry stuck with Quatre and Trowa, "hey look," he said when they came to a small alcove, "I think it's a small snake carving," He waited for Trowa to nod his agreement before he concentrated on the carving, "OPEN," he hissed and was delighted when a small doorway appeared. A long line of steps appeared in front of them and before Harry could dart up them to explore, Quatre held him back as Trowa and Heero who had joined him, went up first. When the two teens had both their feet on the steps they began to move upward like an escalator. Professor Snape and Zechs right behind them.
A tense ten minutes went by and Harry noticed a light seemed to be coming down towards them, "look Quatre," he nudged the blond teen who had been waiting by his side. A light slowly filled the pipe and a doe gracefully climbed out, "the stairway leads up to the lower levels of the Dungeons, but they only go one way," Professor Snape's voice reported. Harry had to hide a giggle; it was kind of funny to hear Professor Snape's deep voice come from such a lady-like delicate creature.
Headmaster Dumbledore smiled, "well the children will have fun sliding down the chute and then back up the stairs."
Harry grinned, this coming quarter was going to be soooo cool, he wished he was old enough to be in Care of Magical Creatures. "Professor Dumbledore, what about students that aren't in Care of Magical Creatures?"
Headmaster Dumbledore turned twinkling eyes towards him, "like yourself perhaps? Hmmm… I will talk to Professor Kettleburn about those who would like to make a special fieldtrip." Harry beamed at him.
AN: My apologies for taking so long. It was so anti-climactic to kill the basilisk I couldn't think how to make it exciting. So I thought well than, let's make it about how unexciting it was, and thus the chapter was FINALLY born.