Draco walked into the room he was sharing with Hermione now on a regular basis. She was curled in a tight ball on the sofa. She was trembling. "Hey, you okay?" he asked her walking over.

Hermione looked at him. "Now I'm scared," she said. "Whatever is doing this petrified a ghost. A ghost Draco."

Draco sat down beside her and took her hand. "Everything'll be okay," he said. "You said so yourself."

Hermione looked at him. "I'm not so sure anymore," she whispered. Draco slid his arm around her and hugged her.

~~

Oliver laughed at Fred and George as they joked with Percy about the rumors about Harry. He stopped when he was Maria quickly back up and hide in the shadows when Harry got near. As Fred and George started to talk about what Harry's next attack would be, he watched Maria pale and move quickly away. Oliver sighed and went to get ready for practice.

Oliver grinned. Practice had gone better than expected, especially since the chamber of secrets had everyone shaken up. He watched Fred and George land and start teasing Harry again. "Fred, George, can I have a word with you?"

Fred grinned. "Sure Oliver."

George walked over and learned on his broomstick, "What's up?"

"I think you two should ease up with the heir of Slytherin jokes."

Fred looked at George and raised his eyebrows, "Really?"

George shrugged and then frowned, "How come Oliver?"

"Well, it's Maria."

"Maria? What about her?" The twins responded.

"She's already upset and well, frankly she's scared to death of Harry as is, and well, your jokes are making it worse."

Fred sighed, "Bloody hell. Does she really believe all those stupid rumors?"

Oliver shrugged, "I don't thinks he wants to, but she's afraid."

"Alright. We'll ease up. She is our cousin." George said. He looked up at Oliver with mischief in his eyes, "Didn't know you cared about her Oliver."

"She's my tutor. I rely on her so I can keep playing Quidditch." Oliver mumbled defensively looking down at his feet.

Fred looked, "Uh huh. You sure about that?"

Oliver looked, "Yeah. I'm sure."

"Well then Oli. See ya in the showers." The two brothers headed off leaving Oliver bewildered.

Oliver watched them go and then bent down to finish picking up the equipment. His mind wandered as he tried to get ready for his tutoring session.

~~



Terrence grinned as he walked with Autumn back to the castle. "You're really getting good. You're gonna be a great asset for Slytherin's team next year."

Autumn blushed, "Thanks Terrence."

"So how are things going? What do you think of all the rumors about Harry?"

"I don't believe them. Any of them."

Terrence grinned, "Harry's lucky."

"How so?"

"He's got some really loyal friends, including you."

Autumn grinned, "I'm luckier."

"How do ya figure?"

"Well, Harry's my friend, overlooking the fact that I'm a Slytherin, and that my brother can be such a complete pratt."

Terrence laughed, "Yeah. He's a decent guy. I guess that's why I just can't figure out why so many people actually believe the rumors."

Terrence, do you like Ginny?"

"Ginny?"

"Ginny Weasley. Do you like her?"

Terrence stopped and looked at her, "Um… well… I… um, yeah." His voice getting softer as he spoke.

"I thought so. Why don't you talk to her then? I'm sure she could use a friend."

Terrence shrugged, "Her brothers wouldn't like it. They've probably already imbedded in her that all Slytherins are rotten to the core. She probably wouldn't even give me the time of day."

"You won't ever know if you don't try Terrence."

"I just don't think it'll work Autumn." Terrence sighed, "Besides, she's been really jumpy lately."

"I noticed that. I think it has to do with the chamber of secrets."

Terrence nodded, "Guess it's a problem for all of us, pureblood or not."

"Especially for us being Slytherins. Everyone thinks its one of us."

"I can understand that though."

"Talk to her Terrence." Autumn stopped at the girl's locker room.

"I'll think about it. Good luck with Harry and everything."

"Thanks. See ya tomorrow."

Terrence nodded, walking away and thinking about what she'd said about Ginny.

~~

Morgana lay back as Ron helped her to stretch before their last practice before the holidays. "So, is he?"

Ron stared at her, "Is who what?"

"Is Harry Potter the heir of Slytherin?"

Ron dropped her foot, "What?"

"Well? Is he?" Morgana sat up

"No. He's not."

Morgana stood up, "Are you sure?"

"You bloody well better believe I'm sure. He's my best friend."

Morgana nodded, "Right."

"What does that mean?" Ron frowned at her.

"You're his best friend, but you didn't know he was a parselmouth until the other night."

"So?" Ron looked at her frowning.

"Well, why didn't he tell you about that?" Morgana crossed her arms over her chest.

"He didn't know he was one. He didn't even know what one was or what it meant."

Morgana rolled her eyes. "Yeah, right."

Ron felt his anger rising. She always seemed to know how to get to him. "Now look here!" Before he could go on, Alissa blew her whistle calling them into a group in the Great Hall. Dumbledore had set up magical mats for them to allow them to practice.

Morgana smirked and turned her attention to the twins and practice. Ron followed her, setting as he did, angry that he'd not been able to finish what he wanted to say, angry that he let her get to him.

"Listen up everyone," Alissa said, holding a piece of parchment in her hand. "I have some good news and some bad news."

"What's the bad news?" a fourth year Ravenclaw girl asked. Her partner, a fifth year Hufflepuff boy sat beside her.

"The teachers decided we won't be cheering for the Quidditch team anymore. No one can see us cause of the stands being so high in the air, and platforms would be too dangerous, not to mention the possibility of getting hit by a player or bludger," Alissa said.

"So what's the good news?" Ron asked.

"Well that's each person's opinion," Marissa said. "We can still practice and see if there are any competitions in the muggle world or just do things like recitals for the rest of the school."

The team began to murmur amongst themselves when Goyle raised his hand. "Yes Greg?" Alissa asked.

Goyle stood. Hermione watched her partner with a raised eyebrow. "I may sound like a wimp for saying this, but I wanna keep doing this," he said. "The only school sport we have is Quidditch and there's only seven to a team. Weasley or some o the other guys or girls could make the house teams, but I know I never will. I'd probably make a decent beater, but I'm not that good on a broom. This gave me something to do and strive for other than classes everyday. Also helped to keep from getting bored when there was nothing to do in the common room." He sat back down.

Hermione smiled at him. It was the most she had ever heard him say to anyone else but her, and it showed everyone that he wasn't as stupid as everyone said he was. "I agree with Greg," she said. "I'm terrified of flying so I'd never try for Quidditch let along make it. Besides, I took dance as a little girl before I started here, and this is close enough to it. I missed dancing till this year."

"How does everyone else feel?" Alissa asked looking around. Murmurs got louder with people agreeing that they wanted to keep practicing as a group. Marissa grinned and looked at her sister. Alissa nodded. "Then let's get to work," she said.

~~

Because of the double attack, everyone rushed to get on the train to go home for the holidays. "At this rate we'll be the only one's left. Us, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle. What a jolly holiday it'll be." Ron told Harry and Hermione.

Harry was glad most people were leaving. He was tired of people jumping out of his way and avoiding him in the halls as if he'd sprout fangs. He was tired of all the muttering, pointing and hissing as he walked past.

Fred and George found it all very funny. They would walk ahead of Harry shouting, "Make way for the Heir of Slytherin, seriously evil wizard coming through…"

Percy was not pleased with their behavior. "It is not a laughing matter."

"Oh get out of our way Percy. Harry's in a hurry." Said Fred.

"Yeah, he's off to the Chamber for a cup of tea with his fanged servant." George chuckled.

Ginny wasn't pleased with it either, "Oh don't." She would cry out as Fred asked Harry who he was going to attack next or George pretended to ward Harry off with garlic cloves.

Alissa and Marissa frowned disapprovingly on their behavior. While they enjoyed a joke as much as the next person, they could see the affect it was having on Ginny and Maria.

Harry felt better with all of Fred and George's antics. At least someone found it ludicrous that he was Slytherin's heir. Plus they seemed to annoy Draco.

"It's because he wants to tell everyone it's really him." Ron said knowingly, "You know how he hates being beaten at anything and you're getting the credit for his dirty work."

"Not for long. The Polyjuice potion is nearly ready. Soon we'll get the truth out of him." Hermione said.

~~

Oliver looked around as Angelina chatted about something that he was only vaguely listening to. He was waiting for the Hogwart's Express to leave for the holidays. He glanced over and smiled seeing Maria standing alone in a violet traveling cape, her bag on the ground in front of her. Oliver muttered, "Excuse me." He then moved towards Maria.

Angelina stopped midscentence watching as he walked over to Maria. Her eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms over her chest as she watched them.

"Hi Maria."

Maria looked up, "Hello Oliver."

Oliver pulled a wrapped package from his coat pocket. "Happy Christmas."

Maria looked, "For me?"

"Yeah. I wanted to get you something for helping me with my studies."

Maria took the package, "You didn't have to."

"I wanted to." Oliver smiled at her. "Go ahead and open it."

Maria did and pulled out a gilded blue leather journal.

"I noticed your journal was nearly full the other night. This one has a privacy feature too. You'll be the only one who can open it."

Maria blushed, as she ran her hands over the front of it. "I…I… hold this."

Oliver took the journal and watched as Maria reached inside her bag and rummaged around. She stood up with a scarlet and gold package in her hands. "I… I was going to have it delivered after we got home. Happy Christmas."

Oliver took it, "Thanks." He slowly started to ease the paper off of it revealing a book. "101 Best Quidditch Strategies of the Century." Oliver grinned reading the title. "Cool."

Maria smiled, "It has a space in the back to take notes and write down your ideas too."

Oliver grinned, "Thanks."

Maria nodded and looked as the whistle of the train blew telling them it was time to board. "Well, I'll see you when we get back."

"Sit with us on the train." Oliver caught her hand. Maria looked at their hands and then at Angelina standing defensively in the distance. "Thanks, but I don't think I'm wanted there by everyone."

Oliver looked at her with confusion as she boarded the train. He watched her and then turned and saw Angelina. With a sudden spark of understanding he sighed and walked over to Angelina.

"What was that about?" Angelina asked him impatiently.

"I wanted to wish her a happy Christmas." Oliver followed her onto the train.

"Did you actually get her a present?"

"Yeah. She's been really great helping me out."

"Really Oliver, you're impossible." Angelina sat down in the train compartment with a pout.

"What did I do?" Oliver rolled his eyes as he sat.

"Anyone else would think you liked her?"

Oliver didn't answer. He just turned his head and looked out the window at the swirling snow as the train left Hogwarts.

~~

"Wake up!" Hermione said loudly as she pulled back the curtains in the window of the boys' dormitory.

Ron sat up sleepily, hiding his eyes from the bright light. "Hermione… you're not supposed to be in her."

"Happy Christmas to you too." Hermione tossed him a present. "I was adding more lacewings to the potion. It's ready."

Harry looked at her, suddenly wide-awake. "You're positive?"

Hermione nodded her head as she moved Scabbers so she could sit on the end of Ron's bed. "If we're going to do this, I think it should be tonight."

Harry looked at Ron and then they both looked at Hermione and nodded.

~~

Draco pushed open the door to the girl's dorm room. His sister was the only one who had stayed for the holiday. He walked over and gently shook her, "Autumn."

Autumn stirred, turning over and letting her eyes drift open, "Draco?"

Draco smiled, "Happy Christmas."

Autumn sat up and stretched, "Happy Christmas."

Draco took her hand, "Come on. Let's open our presents."

Autumn nodded and headed downstairs. She was thrilled that they had been able to stay at Hogwarts for the holiday. Everything was decorated so beautifully. She smiled as she went downstairs with Draco. The tree glittered softly next to the warm, cackling fire. She sat down on the soft bear rug and grinned. Draco handed her a gift. "It's from our parents."

Autumn nodded, opening it and pulling out a new pale green heavy winter cloak. Draco smiled, "I got one too." He pointed to a dark red cloak draped over the chair.

"Here." Draco handed her a small box. "Happy Christmas."

Autumn smiled opening the small box. "Draco, its beautiful."

Draco grinned, "You like it then? I plan on getting you a charm to add to it for each year you're at Hogwarts."

Autumn eased the silver bracelet onto her wrist. The small silver snake's eyes glittered green in the firelight. "It's perfect. Thank you. Now, here." Autumn handed Draco a square box wrapped in silver and blue. "Happy Christmas Draco."

Draco smiled and opened the box. The small silver bowl sat before him. "A memory catcher."

Autumn smiled, "Its like father's, just not as large. I thought it was a good size for your Hogwarts memories though."

Draco smiled, "It's perfect. Come on. Let's get dressed and get breakfast."

Autumn nodded standing up and hugging him. "Meet you back here in fifteen minutes."

~~

Hermione smiled at Draco as they met at the entrance to the room they shared. "Happy Christmas, Draco," she said.

"Happy Christmas, Hermione," Draco returned. They stepped into the room together.

"Here," Hermione said, handing him a gift.

Draco frowned. "I didn't get you anything," he said glumly.

Hermione shrugged non-chalantly. "It's okay," she said. "I saw it and thought of you."

Draco opened it to reveal a cloak clasp that was silver. Two snakes intertwined, their eyes glittering emeralds. It was very appropriate for Draco. "It's beautiful," he said. "Thank you."

Hermione smiled. "I'm glad you like it," she said.

~~

Alissa grinned at George when she saw him walking down the hall. "George! Wait!"

George turned around and grinned, "Alissa, hey. Where's your partner in crime?"

"Oh, here and there. And yours?"

"The same. What's that?"

"Just a little something for you. It's a Christmas present."

"You… you got me a Christmas present?" George looked at her. "I… I didn't think you'd…."



"Just open it."

George looked at her, but nodded and opened it. He pulled the dark red ribbon and as he did a load explosion sounded filling the hallway with smoke. Alissa giggled as George stood there a little toy Quidditch broom in his hand. "That's all?"

"What? Were you expecting a real one?" Alissa teased, giggling. What George didn't know was that his hair was no longer its natural red, but rainbow striped. By now, Fred's should be about the same.

George raised an eyebrow and looked at her suspiciously.

"Well, I've got to run. I'm meeting Alissa before dinner."

George tried to say something but Alissa ran off before he could say anything else.

~~

Morgana knocked on Snape's door and waited.

Snape walked over and opened the door. "Morgana, come in."

"Happy Christmas." He leaned down and kissed her forehead.

Snape smiled, "Happy Christmas." He leaned down and kissed her forehead.

Morgana smiled and walked over by the fire and sat down, "You are going to the feast?"

"Of course, but first," Snape reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a small box.

Morgana took the box and smiled. "Thank you."

Snape sat down next to her and watched as she opened the box. She pulled out a silver chain upon which an amethyst moon hung. "It's beautiful."

Snape smiled, "It was my mother's. I felt you should have it."

"Thank you." Morgana hugged him tightly then kissed his cheek.

Snape ran his fingers through her hair. Morgana smiled up at him, "Here." Morgana pulled out a flat package. Snape opened the box and pulled out a new copy of Unusual and Dangerous Potions. "I noticed your copy was really worn so I thought you could use a new one."

Snape smiled, "Thanks."

"Shall we go down to the feast?"

Snape nodded and stood up, reaching his hand out and helping her up. He smiled at the amethyst orb that shimmered at her neck. He had been uncertain of their relationship, but more and more he felt himself growing more comfortable in it.

~~

Fred walked down to the dining room confused by the giggles and stares that he kept getting as he passed people in the hall. He still didn't quite understand the present that Marissa had presented him with. The package she'd given him had exploded as he pulled the bow and left him with ringing in his ears and a little miniature bludger in his hand. He wondered where his brother was and figured he'd run into him on the way to dinner. He looked up as he heard approaching footsteps and his mouth dropped, "George?"

George looked up and his eyes went as wide as saucers. "Blimey Fred, what happened to your hair?"

"What do you mean my hair? Have you looked at yours lately?"

George ran a hand to his forehead and realization dawned on him. "Oh, I'm going to kill her."

"You don't think?"

"Exploding present from Marissa?"

"Yeah, and you got one from Alissa?"

"Yup." George laughed as he looked at Fred's head, "Well I guess they got us that time."

"Well, we have some planning to do then."

"You know Fred," George said opening the door to the dining hall, "You don't look too bad with your hair that color."

George studied his brother and grinned, "I think I can say the same for you."

The two of them laughed as they walked into the great hall and moved to their chairs.

"Hello boys."

George looked, "So how did you two do it?"

"Do what?" Marissa grinned at them.

"This." Fred said pointing to their hair.

"Oh, our little secret. We told you not to start prank wars with us." Alissa grinned at him. "It looks kind of cute on you."

George shook his head. "So does it wear off, wash out, what?"

"Um… actually…" Marissa looked at Alissa.

"We're not sure. We never tried it before. So um…"

"Once you find out, let us know." Marissa grinned at her sister.

Fred groaned as George shook his head. The two of them made a silent pledge with each other that they'd have their revenge.

~~

Once everyone had settled down after Fred and George's colorful appearance Dumbledore made the announcement for the start of dinner.

Harry and Ron ate heartily watching Hagrid get louder as he consumed more egg nog and Fred and George taunt Percy who was oblivious to the fact that his prefect badge had been bewitched to read "Pinhead". Before they'd finished their third helpings of Christmas pudding, Hermione ushered them out of the hall. Their plans for the Polyjuice potion still had to be finalized.

"You still need to get a bit of the people you're changing into." She looked at them as she pointed this fact out as if it were like going to the market. "And well, since Crabbe and Goyle are Malfoy's friends and he'll tell them anything, you should probably try to get something from them. However, we also need to make sure they don't show up when we're questioning him."

Harry stared at Ron kind of stunned. Hermione ignored them as she continued. "I've got it all planned." She handed them two plump chocolate cakes. "These were filled with a simple Sleeping Draught. You two just need to make sure that Crabbe and Goyle find them. They're bound to eat them, you know how they are. Once they've fallen asleep, pull out some of their hair and hide them in a closet."

Ron looked at Harry as if Hermione had lost her mind. They looked back at her. "Hermione, I don't think…"

"Something could go seriously wrong…"

Hermione stared at them with the same steely glint in her eye that Professor McGonagall sometimes got. "The potion is useless without Crabbe and Goyle's hair. You do want to question Malfoy, don't you?"

Harry sighed, "All right. What are you going to do? Whose hair are you going to get?"

"I've got mine." Hermione grinned, pulling a small bottle from her pocket that contained a single hair. "When I was wrestling with Millicent Bulstrode at the Dueling club she left his on my robes. She's gone home for Christmas, so I just have to tell the Slytherins I decided to come back."

Ron looked at Harry as Hermione ran off to check on the potion. His face was one of acknowledgement that they were both doomed, "Have you ever heard of a plan where so many things could go wrong?"

Surprisingly, the first step of the plan went smoothly. Harry and Ron left the cakes on the staircase and watched as Crabbe and Goyle came out of the Great Hall.

"How thick can you get?" Ron rolled his eyes. Crabbed had seen the cakes and pointed them out to Goyle. The two of them ate the cakes quickly and as they chewed, they suddenly keened over.

Harry and Ron dragged them to the closet and hid them, then removed several hairs from each. They also decided to take their shoes since theirs were too small for Crabbe and Goyle's feet. They quickly sprinted to the bathroom, still stunned by what they'd done. As they entered smoke filled their faces, nearly blinding them. Hermione was stirring the cauldron. They pulled their robes over their faces to block the smoke and moved over to her. "Hermione?"

Hermione had three glass tumblers ready for them on the toilet seat. "Did you get the hair?"

Harry and Ron held up their respective hairs.

Hermione nodded, "Good. I got you these spare robes from the laundry. You're going to need larger ones when you transform."

The potion looked like dark mud, bubbling sluggishly. "I'm sure I've done everything correctly." Hermione looked nervous as she reread the splotched page of Moste Potente Potions. "It looks like it should. Once we've taken it, we have one hour before we change back to ourselves."

Ron gulped, "So… now what?"

"We put it in the three glasses and add the hairs." Hermione said as she started to ladle the potion into the glasses and handed them out. Her hand shook a little as she dropped her hair into her glass. The potion hissed and then turned into a sickeningly yellow color.

"Ewww… essence of Milicent Bulstrode." Ron looked at it with disgust. "I bet it tastes awful."

"Add yours then." Hermione said rolling her eyes.

Harry added Goyle's hair to his glass making his potion turn a khaki color while Ron's turned a dark muddy brown once he'd added Crabbe's.

"Wait. We should get into separate stalls." Harry said as he stopped Ron and Hermione from drinking their potions immediately. "Once we change, we won't fit in here."

Ron nodded, "Good thinking." He moved to the next stall over.

Once they were all in separate stalls, Harry called out, "Ready?"

"Ready." Came Ron and Hermione's voices.

"On three. One… two… three…"

Harry pinched his nose and drank the potion that tasted like overcooked cabbage. His insides writhed and he felt like he'd just swallowed live snakes. He doubled over feeling like he'd be sick, when a burning sensation spread throughout his body. His skin bubbled like hot wax and then he watched in shock as his hands started to grow larger. He could feel his shoulders stretching painfully as his hair crept down towards his eyebrows. His robes split as his chest expanded and his feet ached in shoes that were now to small for his feet.

Harry slowly pushed himself off the cold stone floor once it had stopped. He could hear Myrtle gurgling in the end toilet. Harry struggled to remove his shoes and moved a bit. He tried to get used to feeling like Goyle as he put on the new robes and Goyle's shoes. He removed his glasses that clouded his eyes. As Goyle he didn't need them. "Are you two okay?" The low rasp of Goyle's voice surprised him a bit.

Crabbe's voice responded in a deep grunt, "Yeah."

Harry stepped out of the stall in front of a mirror. He stared at Goyle's reflection staring back at him. Ron's stall opened and Crabbe walked out looking pale and shocked. "Unbelievable."

"We'd better go." Harry said, loosening his watch. "We still have to find the Slytherin Common room and get someone to let us in."

Ron shook his head, "Seeing Goyle thinking is just too bizarre." He walked over and knocked on Hermione's door, "C'mon, let's go."

A high-pitched voice responded, "I… I don't think I'm coming. You two go on without me."

"Hermione, we all know Millicent Bulstrode's ugly, but no one will know it's really you."

"I'm not going. You two hurry up… you're going to run out of time."

Harry shrugged at Ron.

"That looks more like Goyle." Ron answered. "That's the look he gets whenever a teacher asks him something."

"Are you okay Hermione?" Harry asked.

"I'm fine! Just go."

Harry pulled his watch out and looked at it. They'd wasted five minutes of their sixty already. "We'll meet you back here."

Ron and Harry hurried out and started to look for the Slytherin common room. "Any ideas?"

Ron motioned to the dungeon entrance. "They come to breakfast from that door."

Harry watched as a long curly haired girl emerged. They ran over. "Excuse me. We've forgotten the way to our common room." Ron told her.

"Pardon me?" The girl said snobbily. "Our common room? I'm a Ravenclaw." She walked away staring at them suspiciously.

Harry and Ron ran down the stairs and into the passages. They walked deeper into the labyrinths under the school checking their watches. After fifteen minutes had gone by they heard a movement.

"There's one now!" Ron said excitedly. They ran to the figure, but their hearts sank as they saw Percy emerge.

"What're you doing down here?" Ron said surprised.

Percy looked annoyed. "That isn't any of your business… Crabbe isn't it?"

"Um… right." Ron looked.

"Well go on then. It's not safe to be wandering around these halls. Get on back to your dorm."

"You're wandering." Ron pointed out.

"I am a prefect. Nothing would attack me." Percy puffed out his chest.

"There you are." A voice drawled from behind them. For the first time in Harry's life he was pleased to see Malfoy. "Have you two been in the Great Hall eating all this tie? I wanted to show you something. I've been looking for you two forever." Draco turned to face Percy. "And what are you doing here Weasley?"

Percy was outraged, "You should show more respect for a school prefect! I don't like your attitude!"

Draco rolled his eyes and motioned for Harry and Ron to follow him. Harry almost apologized to Percy, but stopped himself just in time. They ran after Malfoy who muttered, "That Peter Weasley…"

"Percy." Ron automatically corrected him.

"Whatever." Malfoy motioned in the air with his hand. "He's been sneaking around a lot lately. He's probably trying to catch Slytherin's heir single-handed." Draco laughed as Harry and Ron exchanged looks.

Draco stopped by a damp stone wall. "What's the new password?"

"Um…" Harry looked at Ron who just shrugged.

"Oh, yeah… pureblood." Malfoy said ignoring the other two. A stone door concealed in the wall opened and Draco walked through followed by Ron and Harry.

The Slytherin common room was a low underground room. The walls were made of rough stone and round greenish laps hung from the ceiling on chains. "Wait here." Draco motioned Harry and Ron to some empty chairs away from the fire. "I'll go get my surprise. Father just sent it."

Harry and Ron sat down trying to look comfortable as they wondered what Draco wanted to show them. Draco came back down shortly and thrust a newspaper clipping under Ron's nose. "This'll give you a laugh."

Ron's eyes went wide and he forced a loud laugh from his lips then handed the paper to Harry. Harry read the article from the Daily Prophet. It told about how Mr. Weasley had been fined because of his and Ron's stunt with the flying car. Apparently Draco's father had even gone as far as to call for Mr. Weasley's resignation.

"Well?" Malfoy said impatiently. "Don't you find it amusing?"

"Ha…" Harry said bleakly.

Autumn walked into the common room. Seeing Crabbe and Goyle with her brother, she headed over to say hi.

Draco looked as Ron read the article, "Well?"

"What's that?"

"Hi Autumn," Harry mumbled.

"Hi Goyle."

Draco looked, "A Weasley's in trouble with the Ministry of Magic."

Autumn sat down, "Why?"

"Because of his twit of a son flying an illegal car."

"That's not nice Draco." Autumn sat down.

Harry grinned, elbowing Ron as he started to nod in agreement.

"He raided our home Autumn."

"They did? Did they find anything?"

"Yes, they did, but they didn't find anything. Father has taken too many precautions to outwit them."

Autumn nodded, "Anyway, I just needed to borrow a quill if you have an extra one. I lost mine and I've not gotten the new ones from father yet."

Harry watched Autumn with a gun. He wished he wasn't playing a trick on her and she knew he was there, but Draco would have him and Ron expelled. He was glad she'd felt bad for Mr. Weasley though it made Harry wonder why she was in Slytherin.

Autumn smiled, "Bye boys. See ya later." And with that she headed for her room.

"If that Arthur Weasley loves Muggles so much he should just break his wand and go join them. You'd never know the Weasleys were pure-bloods from the way they behave."

Ron's or rather Crabbe's face contorted in fury.

"What's wrong with you?" Malfoy snapped at him.

"Stomachache." Ron grunted.

"Well, go to the hospital wing and give all those petrified Mudbloods a good kick from me." Malfoy snickered. "You know, I'm surprised that the Daily Prophet hasn't reported on the attacked. Dumbledore's probably trying to keep it quiet. He'll be fired if it doesn't stop. Father always aid that Dumbledore's the worst thing to happen to this school. He adores Muggle-borns. A real headmaster wouldn't have let slime like that Colin Creevey in."

Draco started imitating Colin by taking pictures with an imaginary camera. "Potter, can I have your picture, Potter? Can I have your autograph? Can I kiss your feet, please, Potter?"

He dropped his hands and stared at Harry and Ron, "What is wrong with you two?"

Far too late, Harry and Ron forced laughs, but it satisfied Malfoy. Crabbe and Goyle must always be a bit slow on jokes.

"Saint Potter, the Mudbloods' friend." Malfoy said slowly. "He's another one that hasn't any proper wizard feelings or he wouldn't hang around with that Granger Mudblood. And people think he's Slytherin's heir."

Harry and Ron held their breaths. Surly Malfoy was second from telling them that it was him.

"I wish I knew who it was. I could help them."

Ron's jaw dropped making Crabbe look even more clueless. Malfoy didn't notice and Harry spoke quickly, "You must have some idea?"

"How many times do I have to tell you Goyle? You know I don't know. Father won't tell me anything about the last time the Chamber was open. It was fifty years ago and before his time, but he knows all about it. HE says that it'll look too suspicious if I know anything since it was kept quiet. I do know though, that the last time the Chamber was open, a Mudblood died. So it's only a matter of time. I hope its Granger." He added. Inwardly he cringed at his words. He didn't want Hermione to die. He cared for her too much now. He often wondered how Goyle felt since he spent so much time with her too during cheerleading practices.

Ron had Crabbe's hands clenched in gigantic fists. Harry shot Ron a warning look. If he punched Malfoy it would give them away. "D'you know if they caught the person who opened the Chamber last time?"

"Yeah. They were expelled. Probably still in Azkaban."

"Azkaban?" Harry was confused.

"The wizard prison Goyle." Draco shook his head in disbelief. "Honestly, if you were any slower you'd be going backwards."

Draco shifted in his char and continued. "Father wants me to keep my head down and let the Heir of Slytherin get on with it. He says the school needs to be rid of all the Mudblood filth, but doesn't want me to get mixed up in it. He's got his hands full especially since the Ministry of Magic raided our home."

"But you said they didn't find anything."

"Yeah, Father's got some very valuable Dark Arts stuff, but he'd hidden it in our secret chamber under the drawing-room floor…"

"Ho!" said Ron.

Draco looked at him as did Harry. Ron blushed along with his hair. His nose also seemed to be growing. Harry's eyes went wide as he looked at Ron's look of horror. They were both changing back. They jumped to their feet.

"Medicine… for my stomach." Ron grunted as they ran out of the common room and up the passage hoping Malfoy hadn't notice. It was a difficult sprint as their feet kept slipping around in the shoes that were now too big for them. They ran into Moaning Myrtle's bathroom and slid to a halt, panting.

"Well it wasn't a complete waste. I know we don't know any more about who's responsible for the attacks, but I'm writing Dad tomorrow and telling him about the secret chamber under the Malfoys' drawing room."

Harry checked himself in the mirror sliding his glasses back on. "Hermione, come out. We've loads to tell you."

"Go away!" A high pitched voice squeaked."

Ron looked at Harry. "What's wrong? You should be back to normal, we are."

Moaning Myrtle glided through the stall door looking entirely too happy. "Ooooooh wait til you see. It's awful."

Hermione opened the door, sobbing, her robes over her head.

"Um, what's up? Have you still go Millicent's nose or something?" Ron asked uncertainly.

Hermione let her robes fall. Ron backed up out of shock. Hermione's face was covered in black fur. Her eyes were yellow and she had ears pointing out through her hair. "It… it was a c…cat hair!" She howled. "M… Millicent Bulstrode m…must have a cat! The p… potion isn't meant for animal transformations!"

"Uh-oh." Ron said quietly.

'You'll be teased something dreadful," Myrtle said cheerfully.

"It's alright Hermione. We'll take you to Madame Pomfrey. She never asks too many questions."

It took them forever to persuade Hermione to leave and go to the hospital ward. Moaning Myrtle sped them on their way, "Wait til everyone finds out you've got a tail!" She laughed.

~~

Harry and Ron had finally gotten Hermione to the hospital ward and had been promptly ushered out by Madame Pomfrey. Ron reached in his pocket for something and realized that the letter his mom had sent him had fallen out. He hoped it had fallen out in the bathroom.

Ron looked, "Hey Harry I dropped a letter in Moaning Myrtle's Bathroom."

"Be careful." Harry looked up as Ron headed out the door.

Morgana passed the hall where the first attack had happened and stopped when she saw someone go into the girl's bathroom at the end of the hall. She waited outside for the person to come back out.

Ron picked up the letter he'd dropped and then walked out.

"Weasley."

Ron's eyes got huge as he turned nervously. He relaxed when he saw Morgana. "It's just you."

"What are you doing here and why are you coming out of the girl's bathroom?"

"It's not any of your business."

"Fine. I'll go find Snape then." Morgana rounded on her heels.

"Wait!" Ron looked.

Morgana grinned, "Yes?"

"We had come in here earlier to talk to Moaning Myrtle and look for clues and I dropped this and needed to come back for it."

Morgana leaned on the wall, crossing her arms, "Uhhuh. Clues?"

"To prove Harry's innocent."

"Right."

"Look, please don't…"

"I won't say anything Weasley. I don't know why, but I won't."

Ron looked, "Um, thanks."

Morgana nodded then turned and walked away.

Ron watched her go with relief and then ran back to the Gryffindor tower before someone else less understanding found him.

~~

Autumn walked into the common room and headed over to her brother. He was sitting in the window, lost in thought. "Draco?"

Draco looked up, "Hey Autumn."

"What's wrong?" Autumn sat by her brother.

"Nothing. Was just thinking."

"Did you hear about Hermione Granger? She's in the hospital wing."

"What happened?" Draco stiffened, as he turned to face his sister, a look of horror on his face. "Has anyone said?"

Autumn studied her brother, confused by his reaction. "I… don't know. All I heard is that she was in the hospital wing."

Draco's face paled. " We would have heard if it was another attack, wouldn't we?" He looked to her for reassurance.

"Why are you so upset Draco?" Autumn finally asked.

"I… I'm not upset."

"Yes you are. You've not even laughed or said anything mean about the attack. That's unlike the way you've been acting. And I mean, it is Hermione. You always make fun of her."

Draco sighed. He couldn't keep his secret from his sister any longer. "Autumn, Hermione and I are well… well, we're friends."

Autumn looked at him and shook her head, "You're lying to me."

"Why would I lie to you Autumn? Hermione and I have been friends since before the Gryffindor-Slytherin Quidditch game."

"No." Autumn got up from where she'd sat by him. "You're… How could you Draco?"

"Autumn?" Draco stood up. "What's wrong? How could I what?"

"You! After everything you said about Harry! After your whole Gryffindor can't be friends with Slytherins issue! You're friends with Hermione Granger." Autumn's voice slowly rose as she became more and more upset at the thought of what Draco had done.

"It's different with Hermione and I Autumn." Draco looked around thankful that no one else was there. He reached out to try and calm her down, saddened when she pulled back from him.

"No Draco. It's not different. It's the exact same thing. You're a hypocrite, a lying hypocrite."

"Autumn?" Draco's voice pleaded.

"Leave me alone. Don't worry about your secret, I won't tell anyone." Autumn turned away from her brother. She felt betrayed. He had tried to forbid her from even looking at Harry, yet here he was making friends with a Gryffindor who happened to be one of Harry's best friends. Autumn left and went to find some solitude.

~~

Maria sat between Fred and George, "Did Ron say anything?"

"Not particularly," Fred looked over at her.

"But he did say he was bring her homework to her," George finished.

"Then it couldn't have been an attack." Maria looked hopefully up at them. "I mean he wouldn't take her homework to her if…" Maria let her words die out.

"Don't know." George shrugged

"Ron can get weird notions sometimes." Fred added.

Maria nodded and stared at the fire.

"You'll be okay Maria. No one's going to get ya." Fred looked over at George.

"Yeah Maria, trust us." George watched her.

Maria nodded, trying hard to believe them, but finding that she just wasn't able to. "I have to go. I'm meeting Oliver for tutoring."

Fred and George stood with her. "We'll walk with you."

"How is that going anyway?" George's voice took on a hint of teasing.

Maria didn't notice, "Pretty well. He's improving."

"And with you?" Fred grinned.

Maria looked at them, "Would you two stop it? There's nothing between Oliver and I. Now come on, I'm going to be late."

Fred and George nodded, "Right." They grinned mischievously at each other and then followed her out.

~~

Ron set Hermione's homework on the stand next to her bed. "If I had grown whiskers, I'd take break from schoolwork."

"Don't be ridiculous Ron. I have to keep up." Hermione said quickly. She was in a much better mood since the hair on her face had disappeared and her eyes had started to turn brown again. "Do you have any new leads?" She asked in a whisper.

Harry shook his head, "Nope."

"I was so positive it was Malfoy." Ron said yet again.

"Hermione? What's that?" Harry pointed to something gold that stuck out from under her pillow.

"Just a get well card." Hermione said quickly, trying to poke it back under the pillow. Ron quickly grabbed it though and opened it. Her read it out loud, "To Miss Granger, wishing you a quick recovery. Your concerned teacher, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League and Five time winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award." Ron looked at Hermione with pure disgust. "You sleep with this under your pillow?"

Before Hermione could answer, Madame Pomfrey came in and chased Harry and Ron out.

"Who's there?" Hermione asked a few hours later.

Draco peaked his head around the curtain that was hiding her. "Me," he said. He grinned and walked over, reaching up to touch one of the ears. "A cat?"

Hermione blushed, though you couldn't tell under the fur. "Long story," she said. "What are you doing here?"

"Was worried about you," Draco said.

"You look like you haven't been sleeping well," Hermione said.

"Well since we've started sleeping more in our room," he said. "I sleep better. You haven't been there. Besides, Autumn and I got into a fight."

"Over what?" Hermione asked, tilting her head.

"You," Draco said.

"Me?"

Draco nodded. "I kinda told her to steer clear of Potter, then I told her we were friends and it made her mad," he said.

"I don't blame her," Hermione said.

"Huh?"

"Draco think about it," Hermione said. "You are forbidding Autumn to speak with Harry, a Gryffindor. Yet you are carrying on a friendship with me, Harry's best friend, a Gryffindor. It's a bit of a double standard."

"I guess you're right," Draco mumbled. He looked at his wizard watch and sighed. "I need to get back to Slytherin house before curfew. Besides, Madame Pomfrey may think I'm attacking you if she sees me here."

Hermione smiled. "See you later," she said. Draco leaned forward and kissed her forehead gently, wrinkling his nose at the fur. He gave her an impish grin and headed out of the hospital wing.

~~

"Lockhart is such a git." Ron said to Harry as they headed to Gryffindor Tower. Ron was complaining about Snape's overload of homework when they heard an angry commotion from above them.

"That's Filch." Harry murmured as they ran up the stairs, keeping out of sight.

"Do you think someone else has been attacked?" Ron asked, his eyes wide.

They leaned their heads towards Filch's voice and listened to his shouting.

"… even more work for me! I'll be mopping all night. It isn't like I have enough to do! This is the final straw, I'm going to Dumbledore…"

Harry and Ron listened as his footsteps receded into an out-of-sight corridor and they heard a door slam. They cautiously poked their heads around the corner. At once they saw what Filch had been having a fit about. A large flood of water filled half the corridor and more water seeped out from under the door of Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Now that Filch wasn't shouting they could hear Myrtle's wailing.

"Now what's wrong with her?" Ron said, rolling his eyes.

"Come on." Harry said, moving towards the bathroom.

Moaning Myrtle was crying louder than they'd ever heard. The bathroom was dark since the rush of water that had left everything soaked had extinguished the candles.

"Myrtle? What's wrong?"

"Who's that?" Myrtle gurgled miserably. "Come to throw something else at me?"

Harry waded over to her stall. "Myrtle, why would I throw something at you?"

"I don't know? I was just minding my own business and someone thought it'd be funny to throw a book at me…"

"But it doesn't hurt if someone throws something at you," Harry tried to reason with her. "I mean, it would just go right through you, wouldn't it?"

Immediately Harry realized he'd said the wrong thing. Myrtle shrieked indignantly at him, "Let's throw books at Myrtle because she can't feel it! Get it through her stomach and you get ten points. Fifty points if it goes through her head! Well ha, ha! What a great game, I don't think!"

"Well who threw it?"

"I don't know… I was just sitting, thinking about death and it fell through the top of my head," Myrtle said glaring. She pointed over to a spot under a sink, "It's over there. It got washed out."

A small thin book with a shabby black cover was lying soaking wet under the sink. Harry moved towards it, but Ron stopped him. Harry looked, "What?"

"Don't be stupid, it could be dangerous."

"Dangerous? It's a book. How can it be dangerous?"

"You'd be surprised. Father's told me some frightening stories about books the Ministry's confiscated. One burnt people's eyes out. Another, Sonnets of a Sorcerer, made all who read it speak in limericks for the rest of their lives. And then there was the one that an old witch in Bath had that you could never stop reading. You just wandered around with your nose in it and had to do everything with only one hand…"

"All right… I get it." Harry said, stopping Ron before he could continue on. He looked at the small soggy book and ducked under Ron. "We won't find out unless we look at it."

Harry picked it up and looked at it. It was a diary, and the faded cover told him it was fifty years old. He eagerly opened it. The first page had a name that he could just make out, "T.M. Riddle."

"Hang on," Ron approached cautiously. "I know that name. He got an award for special services to the school fifty years ago."

Harry stared at Ron amazed, "How'd you know that?"

"I had to polish his shield about fifty times in detention. That was the one I burped slugs all over. You'd remember too if you wiped slime off a name for over an hour."

Harry carefully peeled the wet pages apart. They were all blank, not even a trace of writing on them. "He never wrote in it." Harry said disappointed.

"Wonder why someone would want to flush it."

Harry shrugged. He turned the book over and saw the name of a variety store on Vauxhall Road, London printed on the back. "He must have been Muggle born." Harry said.

"Well it's not much use to us." Ron said. He leaned over and whispered in Harry's ear. "Fifty points if you get it through Myrtle's nose."

Harry shook his head and stuffed the diary in his pocket.

~~

Autumn sat in one of the large window turrets along a hallway that was not traveled often by students. She hugged her knees to her chest as she looked out over the moonlit snowy ground.

Terrence walked, stopping when he heard sniffling from down a deserted hallway. He walked down slowly, carefully stopping at a petite figure curled against a window. "Autumn?"

Autumn jumped and looked up, "Oh. Hello Terrence."

Terence frowned and sat down by her on the cold stone. "What's wrong? You shouldn't be out alone this late. It's not safe."

"I'm okay. Just an argument with Draco."

"About Harry?"

Autumn opened her mouth and stopped. She couldn't really get into it without revealing her brother's secret so she simply nodded.

"I'm sorry. He'll come to understand eventually Autumn."

Autumn shrugged, "What happens will happen. How are you?"

"Okay. Worried."

"About?" Autumn watched him as he sat by her.

"Well," Terrence blushed a bit despite himself, "I just noticed that Ginny seems to have changed since school started."

"Changed?" Autumn looked a bit confused.

"Well, she doesn't smile anymore, she's pale and she's always jumpy and upset."

"It's just because of the chamber and the attacks."

"I think its something else. She's a pureblood. She doesn't have any reason to be scared."

"I understand, but its still frightening."

Terrence smiled, "Yeah, I guess so. Come on. It's cold here. We should get back to the common room."

Autumn stood with Terrence's help. "Thanks."

"Thank you Autumn." Terrence smiled and the two set off.

~~

At the beginning of February, Hermione finally left the hospital wing, de-whiskered, tail-less and fur-free. On her first evening back, Harry showed her the diary and told her how they'd found it.

"Hmmm, it might have hidden powers." Hermione said, examining it closely.

"Well it's hiding them really well if it does." Ron watched her. "Maybe it's shy. Don't know why you didn't just chuck it Harry."

"I want to know why someone did try to chuck it." Harry said. "I'd also like to know how Riddle got an award for special services."

Ron leaned back in his chair. "Could've been anything. Maybe he got thirty O.W.L.s or saved a teacher from the giant squid. Maybe he murdered Myrtle, that would have done everyone a favor…"

Harry could tell from Hermione's expression that she was thinking what he was thinking.

"What?" Ron looked at the two of them.

"Well, fifty years ago, the Chamber of Secrets was opened. Right? That is what Malfoy said."

"Yeah…" Ron said slowly.

"This diary is fifty years old." Hermione tapped it excitedly.

"So?" Ron said, not quite catching on.

"Oh Ron, wake up." Hermione snapped. "We know that whoever opened the Chamber last time was expelled, fifty years ago. We also know that T.M. Riddle got an award for special services to the school, fifty years ago. What if, Riddle got his award for catching the Heir of Slytherin? His diary might tell us everything… where the chamber is, how to open it and what lives in it. The person behind the attacks wouldn't want that just lying around."

"That's brilliant Hermione. It's absolutely brilliant except for one little flaw. There's nothing written in the diary."

Hermione was already pulling her wand out of her bag as Ron spoke. "It might be invisible ink."

Ron and Harry watched as she tapped the diary three times and said, "Aparecium!"

Nothing happened. Hermione reached into her bag and pulled out a large bright red eraser. "It's a Revealer. I bought it in Diagon Alley." She rubbed hard on the first page, but nothing happened.

Ron shook his head. "I'm telling you, there's nothing there. Riddle got a diary for Christmas and just couldn't be bothered with writing in it."

~~

"He's of no danger to you." Snape eased an arm around Morgana's shoulders.

"I wish I could believe that." Morgana looked up at him.

"I promise you Morgana, I will allow no harm to come to you."

Morgana nodded, "I just wish… I wish he would leave me alone."

"I know. I don't know how he's getting the letters to you. That in itself is a feat."

"That's what scares me." Morgana sighed and took one last look at the letter before tossing it into the fire.

Snape watched her. "Run along. You'll be missed and supper has already started."

Morgana stood and kissed his cheek. "I'll see you there."

Snape watched her go. Once he could no longer hear her footsteps echo in the hall he left to find Dumbledore.

~~

Harry didn't know why he kept the diary and didn't throw it away. He kept picking it up and flipping threw it even though he knew it was blank. The name even seemed to mean something to him as if it was an old friend, but he knew he'd never heard it before now. It was as if T.M. Riddle had been an old friend, but that was ridiculous. He'd never had friends before Hogwarts.

Harry was determined to find out more so the next day he went to the trophy room to see Riddle's award accompanied by an intrigued Hermione and an unconvinced Ron.

Riddle's shield was tucked away in a corner. It didn't have any details about why Riddle had received it. They also found Riddle's name on an Old Medal for Magical Merit and on a list of old Head Boys.

"Sounds like Percy." Ron wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Prefect, Head Boy, probably top in every class."

"You say that like it's a bad thing." Hermione said slightly offended.

~~

Autumn walked the rows of books searching for the specific one she needed for her paper in the History of Magic. She smiled as she heard Ron and Harry's voice coming from a nearby corner. She moved towards them, hoping to get a moment to chat with Harry.

"You should give it to a professor Harry. What if its just lying in wait for the right moment to catch you off guard."

"It's a book Ron. It's just a book."

"Harry, I told you about different books that my father…"

"I know Ron. Just… let it drop. This could be the key to solving the mystery of the chamber."

Ron shook his head, "Fine. But I warned you."

Harry nodded and opened the book, fingering the pages.

Autumn watched from behind the row of books. She knew the book that Harry held in his hands. She recognized the worn cover, even though it fairly simple. It had once been housed in her father's library. She remembered that as a young child, she'd gotten a hold of the book and gotten into trouble for it. She wondered how Harry had gotten a hold of it.

She walked out of the shadows and over to the table, "Hi Harry."

Harry looked up and quickly shoved the diary into his bag. "Autumn, hi."

"What's that book?"

"It's just a book, nothing important."

Autumn watched him and frowned. She wasn't sure why he was hiding it from her or why he was lying to her. She nodded, "Right. Well, I just wanted to see how Hermione was doing."

"She's okay. Should be out of the hospital ward soon."

"Good. Well, um…" Autumn could feel the tension in the air as Harry held his bag shut and Ron watched the two of them, "I'll… see you later."

Harry watched her turn and go. He hated lying to her, but she might be like Ron, except in one way. She might turn him and the diary in. Harry waved, "See ya later Autumn."

Autumn headed towards a new section of books. She glanced one last time over her shoulder at him; worry crossing her face as she saw the book in Harry's hands again.

~~

As the weather improved, everyone's moods in the castle seemed to improve as well. The Mandrakes were becoming moody which meant that they were aging rapidly and leaving child hood. Harry overheard Madame Pomfrey telling Filch, "The moment their acne clears up they can be repotted. Then it won't be long until we can cut them up and stew them. Mrs. Norris will be back to normal in no time."

Harry wasn't quite sure why, but the attacks had stopped for now. He thought maybe because the school was so alert and everyone so suspicious that it was riskier to open the Chamber. Or maybe the monster was hibernating. The Hufflepuffs were still convinced Harry was guilty and Peeves didn't help any still singing his song.

Lockhart seemed to think he was responsible for ending the attacks. Harry overheard him talking to Professor McGonagall outside of Transfiguration class.

"I think the trouble is over Minerva. I bet the Chamber is locked for good this time. The culprit probably knew I'd catch him eventually. Better to stop now before I caught him. You know Minerva, the school needs a morale-booster. Get rid of those bad memories from last term. I won't give away the surprise now, but I think I know just the thing to do it."

Lockhart's morale-booster was revealed on February fourteenth. Harry ran into the Great Hall a bit late because of a late-running Quidditch practice and stopped short. He pinched himself to make sure he wasn't having a nightmare. And then took a careful look around to make sure he was in the right place. The walls of the Great Hall were decorated in large pink flowers. Heart shaped confetti drifted from the ceiling below. Harry slowly walked over to the Gryffindor table where Ron sat looking sick and Hermione was giggling. "What's this?"

Ron motioned over to the teacher's table, too disgusted to speak. Lockhart was wearing pink roes that matched the decorations and was waving for silence. The teachers on either side of him didn't look too pleased. McGonagall had a muscle twitching in her cheek and Snape looked like he'd been forced to drink a large beaker of Skele-Gro.

"Happy Valentine's Day!" Lockhart announced. "I'd like to thank the forty-six people who have sent me cards thus far! I took the liberty of arranging this surprise for you all and there's more!"

Lockhart clapped his hands and in marched a dozen dwarfs dressed in golden wings and carrying harps. "These are my friendly, card-carrying cupids!" Lockhart beamed. "They will be delivering valentines through out the school! And this isn't all! I'm sure my colleagues will be delighted to enter into the spirit of the occasion! Perhaps you can ask Professor Snape to teach you how to make a Love Potion! And Professor Flitwick knows a great deal about Entrancing Enchantments, the sly old dog!"

Snape looked as though he'd force feed poison to anyone who asked him about a Love Potion and Professor Flitwick turned bright red, hiding his face in his hands.

"Please tell me Hermione that you weren't one of the forty-six who sent him a Valentine." Ron asked her as they left the Great Hall. Hermione ignored him searching her bag for something, avoiding the question.

~~

All day long the dwarfs would barge into classes to deliver valentines at the annoyance of teachers and sometimes those who were on the receiving end.

Fred and George snickered as one of Lockhart's cupids cornered Oliver in the hall outside of class. They listened intently as the cupid began to sing a valentine.

Oliver Wood the Quidditch King

My knees wobble from your bewitching grin

Oliver Wood the one I adore

From this day forth, my heart is yours.

They snickered as Oliver tried to escape throughout the entire thing. His cheeks were bright red, while Angelina stood next to him, her eyes narrowed into tiny slits.

"You get the feeling it isn't from her?"

"How'd you guess George? Could it be the sudden temperature drop from her icy cold stare?"

George chuckled, "If it wasn't her, who do you reckon… sent…"

George stopped as he and Fred came to the same conclusion, "Maria."

"You don't think she'd really have braved it and sent it?"

"It was anonymous." Fred shrugged. "In any case, there's only one real way to find out."

George turned and headed out to find their cousin, Fred close behind.

~~

"Whoa there." Marissa said as Fred bumped into her.

"Where are you two off in such a hurry?" Alissa crossed her arms over her chest. "Off to create more havoc?"

"None of your business." George said raising a brow.

"We're looking for Maria." Fred grinned

"Have you tried the library?"

"On our way there now." George looked at Alissa. He reached into his pocket and pulled two foil wrapped candies. "Want a chocolate?"

Marissa looked at Alissa hesitantly. "Lockhart was giving them out in the dining hall." Fred told them.

Alissa took one and sniffed it as she unwrapped it. "Smells like chocolate."

Marissa took a tiny nibble. "Tastes like chocolate."

"What?" Fred looked hurt.

"Don't you trust us?" George pouted

"No. We don't." Alissa poked him.

"Well, it's safe. We promise." Fred smiled. What the girls didn't see was their fingers behind their back, crossed.

Marissa and Alissa ate the chocolate. "Thanks." They went to answer. But instead of their speaking voices, it came out in a song. "Thank you oh thank you good kind sirs."

Alissa's eyes went wide and she looked at her sister, covering her mouth.

"Why… you…" She wanted to say, but instead of her words, a song came out again, "Why you, why you, you tricked us you did."

Marissa kept her mouth shut her eyes narrowed at the boys. Fred and George had already started down the hall. "Toodles." Fred said, taking off in a run.

"Have fun in class!" George grinned before taking off after him.

Alissa groaned as she and her sister just stood there still stunned, trying to figure out what to do.

~~

Draco handed Hermione a card that was bewitched to twinkle around the hearts.

"What's this?" Hermione asked with a soft smile.

Draco blushed slightly. "To make up for not getting you anything at Christmas," he said.

Hermione smiled. "You didn't have to," she said, opening the card. Inside where flowers and stars, sparkling and twirling on the card. "Happy Valentine's Day to a Wonderful Friend" flashed across the parchment of the card. Hermione looked around quickly and hugged Draco. "Thank you," she whispered in his ear.

Draco smiled. "You're welcome," he said. They promised to meet later before separating.

~~

Harry headed to Charms class when one of the dwarfs caught up to him. "Oy, you! 'Arry Potter!" The dwarf shouted, elbowing people out of his way as he ran to catch up to Harry.

Harry turned red at the thought of receiving a valentine in front of a line of first years including Ginny Weasley and Autumn Malfoy. Harry tried to escape, but the dwarf reached him before he could.

"I've got a musical message to deliver to you in person." He twanged his harp in a menacing manner.

"Not here." Harry said trying to escape.

"Stay still!" The dwarf hollered grabbing Harry's bag and pulling him back.

"Let go!" Harry tugged at his bag that split in two with a loud ripping noise. Everything spilled onto the floor, his inkbottle smashing over everything. Harry scrambled to try and pick everything up before the dwarf could start singing. They were creating a holdup in the corridor.

"What's going on here?" Draco's voice could be heard through the crowd.

Harry tried to move faster before Malfoy could hear his musical valentine.

"What's the hold up here?" Percy had arrived.

Harry tried to run, but the dwarf tackled him and sat on down on his legs. "Right, here's your singing valentine:

His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,

His hair is as dark as a blackboard.

I wish he was mine; he's really divine,

The hero who conquered the Dark Lord."

Harry wished he could just vanish. He tried to laugh with everyone else, as he got up, his legs numb from the dwarf's weight. Percy tried to disperse the crowd, "Off you go. The bell ran five minutes ago. Everyone get to class. And you Malfoy…"

Harry watched as Draco reached over and picked something up. Harry realized in horror that he had Riddle's diary. "Give it back Malfoy."

"So what has Potter written in this?"

Draco hadn't noticed the year on the cover and thought it was Harry's. The crowd fell silent. Ginny paled looking from the diary to Harry a look of pure terror on her face.

"Give it back to Harry, Malfoy." Percy said sternly.

"When I've had a look." Draco said, waving the diary tauntingly.

"As a school prefect…" Percy started, but was unable to finish. Harry had lost his temper and pulled out his wand pointing it at Malfoy, "Expelliarmus!"

The diary shot out of Draco's hands and Ron caught it with a large grin.

"Harry! I'll have to report you. No magic is to occur in the hallways." Percy shouted.

Harry didn't care. He was one up on Draco and that was worth a deduction of points from Gryffindor any day. Draco looked furious. Ginny tried to pass him to get to her class and he yelled spitefully at her, "I don't think Potter liked your valentine much!"

Ginny's face turned a red to match her hair and she ran in. Ron pulled his wand, but Harry pulled him away. Ron didn't need another slug incident.

It wasn't until they got to Charms class that Harry noticed something odd about his diary. All of his other books were drenched in scarlet ink from the smashed inkbottle, but the diary was clean. He tried to show Ron, but Ron was having wand trouble again. This time large purple bubbles blossomed out of it and he wasn't really interested in anything but trying to stop them.

~~

Terence rounded a corner of the hallways on his way to class from the library. He was reading the book he'd borrowed. He was so engrossed in it that he didn't hear the footsteps running down the hall in his direction.

Autumn ran as fast as she could, tears streaming down her cheeks. She didn't see Terrence until she'd collided with him.

Terrence caught Autumn as they stumbled. He frowned as she looked up at him, her eyes red from crying. "Autumn? What's wrong?"

Autumn looked over her shoulder and sniffled, "Not here."

Terrence looked and pulled her into an empty classroom. "Now, What's got you so upset?"

Autumn trembled as she tried to get the words out, "I… I… s…sent Harry… a…. a…"

Terrence listened carefully trying to figure out what she was trying to tell him. "A what Autumn?"

Finally Autumn sobbed loudly, "A Valentine!"

Terrence grinned at her, "Well Autumn, that not so bad. Is it?"

"He thinks Ginny Weasley sent it to him."

Terence sat down and eased her into a chair next to his. "Why would he think that?"

"Draco."

"Ah." Terrence looked at her thinking. He took Autumn's hands. "Then tell Harry the truth."

"I… I can't."

"Why not?"

"He'll… he'll laugh at me. Or he'll get angry."

"Autumn…"

"He was furious with getting the Valentine Terrence. You didn't see him."

"I don't think he'll be angry with you Autumn."

"But he was so mad in the hallway."

"I bet… he was just embarrassed. If he knew you sent it…"

"I can't… I just… can't tell him. I'm too scared."

Terrence nodded, trying to comfort her. "I understand."

"What do I do?"

"Just talk to him."

"There's too much going on. I don't think I'd be able to."

"That's how I feel about Ginny."

"We're quite the pair aren't we?"

Terrence chuckled. "Yeah, we both give the same advice to each other, but neither of us listens to it."

Autumn blushed grinning slightly, "Thanks Terrence." She hugged him tightly.

Terrence gave her a bear hug, and then wiped a tear from her cheek. "You're welcome Autumn. You know, you're like a little sister to me. Sometimes I dream that I had a sister. I bet she'd be a lot like you."

"You'd be a great older brother Terrence. WE should go. You have Quidditch practice soon."

Terrence nodded and stood up with her. Together they left the room and headed for their common room.

~~

After searching all of her usual study haunts, Fred and George finally located Maria in a quiet corner of the library.

George eased onto the bench beside her and grinned, "Bewitching grin…"

"Quidditch King… not your best work cousin dearest." Fred had eased onto the bench on her other side, blocking her in.

Maria blanched before bright red spots rose on her cheeks. "I… I… d...don't know…"

"What you're talking about." Fred finished her words in a singsong voice.

"Your cheeks tell another story." George eased the book out of her limp hands.

Maria looked at them both and then down at her hands. Her voice trembled as she whispered, "You won't tell him will you."

Fred's grin softened and he looked at George over her lowered head, "Nah… but… Maria…"

"Be careful. Oliver's well, he's… dating Angelina." George watched her concerned.

"I know." Maria looked up at them, "But… she…"

"Has a lot of pull with the other girls." Fred stopped her.

"And, she can be pretty ruthless." George added with a sigh.

Maria pushed her hair back and shook her head. How could she possibly get them to understand? George eased an arm around her, "And well. There's also this problem that Oliver has."

"Problem?"

George nodded, "Yeah, Oliver doesn't really notice much outside of Quidditch."

I think you're wrong about that."

"We just don't want you to get hurt Maria." George rested a hand on hers.

"I know."

"Let us talk to him." Fred playfully nudged her.

Maria's eyes went wide and she shook her head, "NO!"

"Maria…"

"Please, no. I've liked him since we started here. A little bit longer isn't going to make a difference. I can handle wanting him from afar, and knowing I can never have him."

Fred and George both watched her, not so sure about her words being true. "Alright, but if you change your mind…"

"I'll find you."

"See ya later then, we'll be late for class."

Maria nodded and watched them leave. She tried to immerse herself back into her studies and temporarily block Oliver from her mind, something that was becoming increasingly difficult to do.

~~

Harry went to bed before anyone else that night. Partly because he couldn't stand Fred and George's teasing anymore. Alissa and Marissa had tried to get them to lay off Harry. They seemed to have a bit of a soft spot and felt bad for him in a way. But Harry also wanted to examine Riddle's diary again.

Harry sat on his bed and flipped through the blank pages. There wasn't a drop of ink on any of them. He pulled out a new bottle of ink and dipped his quill in. He dropped a blot of ink on the first page of the diary. The ink shimmered for a moment and then it was sucked into the page and vanished. Harry felt excitement rise in his body as he dipped his quill again and wrote, "My name is Harry Potter."

The words shined on the page before slowly sinking and vanishing. This time, something happened. Out of the page, in his own ink, works oozed onto the page. "Hello Harry Potter. I am Tom Riddle. How did you find my diary?"

These words faded away, but not before Harry had started to answer. "Someone threw it down the toilet." He waited eagerly for a reply

"Fortunately I recorded my memories in a more permanent manner than ink. I knew that there would be some who would not want this diary to be read."

"What do you mean?" Harry asked.

"This diary holds memories of awful times. Memories that were covered up. Things that happened at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

"That's where I'm at." Harry wrote. "I'm at Hogwarts and awful things are happening now. Do you know anything about the Chamber of Secrets?"

Harry's heart hammered in his chest. Riddle's reply came quicker, a bit untidy as he was hurrying to tell Harry everything.

"Yes, I know about the Chamber of Secrets. In my time it was said to be a legend and that it did not truly exist. This was a lie. In my fifth year, the Chamber was opened and several people were attacked. One student died. I caught the culprit and he was expelled. The Headmaster, Professor Dippet, was ashamed and forbade me from telling the truth. They created a story that the girl had died in a freak accident. They gave me an award and told me to keep quiet. I knew though, that it would happen again. The monster still lived and the person responsible was not imprisoned."

Harry nearly tipped his inkbottle over as he hurried to answer. "It's happening now. There have been three attacks, and no one has any answers. Who was it last time?"

"I can show you. You don't have to take my word for it, but I can take you into my memories. If you'd like."

Harry hesitated at Riddle's response. He didn't understand what Riddle meant. How could he enter someone's memories? He glanced over at the dorm door and then looked back at the diary. New words had formed, "Let me show you."

Harry paused and then answered, "OK."

The pages of the diary turned and stopped halfway through the month of June. A little square on June the thirteenth seemed to have turned into a tiny television screen. Harry raised the book and pressed his eye to the little window and before he knew what was happening, he was tilting forward and the window was widening. He felt himself pitch headfirst into the open page as the world dissolved into colors and shadows. Harry felt his feet his solid ground and he stood slowly, taking a look around as everything came into focus.

He recognized the office. It was Dumbledore's office, but Dumbledore did not sit behind the desk. A frail looking wizard who was mostly bald was reading a letter by candlelight. The wizard didn't' look up. Harry frowned and neared the desk, "Um. I'll just go."

The wizard ignored him. Harry thought maybe he was deaf so he raised his voice, "Sorry to disturb you. I'll just leave now."

The wizard folded the letter, stood up and drew the curtains in his window. The sky was ruby red showing it to be sunset. The wizard sat down and watched the door.

Harry looked around. He slowly realized that this was the Hogwarts that Riddle had known. This was a past Headmaster and Harry was just a phantom, completely invisible to him. Harry turned, as there was a knock on the door behind him.

"Enter." The old wizard said feebly.

A young boy about sixteen entered. A prefect's badge shined on his chest. He was taller than Harry but had jet-black hair.

"Ah, Riddle."

"You wished to see me Professor Dippet?" Riddle appeared nervous.

"Sit down. I just read the letter you sent me."

"Oh." Riddle said, his hands held tightly.

"I cannot allow you to stay here over the summer. Surely you'd like to go home during the summer?"

"No sir. I'd rather stay here then go back to… to that…"

"You live in a Muggle Orphanage?" Dippet asked curiously.

"Yes sir."

"You are Muggle born?"

"Half-blood sir. Muggle father, witch mother."

"And your parents are both…"

"My mother died when I was born. She named me after my father and grandfather."

Dippet nodded sympathetically. "Tom, special arrangements could have been made, but with the current circumstances."

"You mean the attacks?"

"Yes my dear boy. You see how foolish it would be for me to allow you to stay here. Especially in light of the recent tragedy and that poor girls' death. You will be safer at the orphanage. The Ministry of Magic is talking about closing the school and we are no closer to finding out the source of all this.

Riddle's eyes went wide, "If the person was caught sir. If it stopped?"

Dippet sat up I his chair. "Riddle, what do you mean? Do you know something about the attacks?"

"No sir." Riddle answered quickly.

Harry was sure it was the same sort of no he himself had given Dumbledore.

"You may go Tom." Dippet looked disappointed.

Harry followed Riddle out of the room and down the spiral staircase. Riddle stopped and Harry stopped as well. He could see that Riddle was thinking. Suddenly Riddle raced off, as a decision seemed to be met. Harry followed him. Harry didn't see the other figure in the hall until he called to Riddle.

"What are you doing up this late Tom?"

Harry stared in wonderment. It was a fifty year younger Dumbledore.

"I had to see the headmaster sir." Riddle answered.

"Well, go on to bed now." Dumbledore studied Riddle. "Best not to roam the corridors. Not since…"

Riddle and Harry watched Dumbledore disappear. Harry followed Riddle down the stone steps to the dungeons. To Harry's disappointment Riddle did not lead him to a secret passageway or tunnel, but to the dungeon where Harry had Potions. The torches weren't lit and with the door nearly closed, Harry could only just see Riddle who was watching the passage outside.

Harry felt like they stood there for nearly an hour. Just when Harry was starting to give up, he heard movement beyond the door. Someone else was in the passage and they'd past the dungeon where he and Riddle were hiding. Riddle edged through and followed, Harry behind him. They followed the footsteps and then Riddle stopped, his head inclined in the direction of a voice whispering to someone.

"C'mon… gotta get yeh outta here… C'mon now… get in the box…"

Harry tried to place the voice. It was so familiar.

Riddle jumped from around the corner and Harry followed. He could see the outline of a large boy crouched next to an open door, a large box next to it.

"Evening Rubeus."

The boy slammed the door shut and jumped up. "What yer doin' down here Tom?"

Riddle stepped towards him. "It's all over. I'm turning you in Rubeus. They're going to close Hogwarts if the attacks don't stop."

"What d'yeh…"

"I don't think you meant to kill anyone, but monsters don't make good pets. I guess you just let it out for exercise and…"

"It never killed anyone!" The large boy backed against the closed door from which Harry could hear a clicking sound and an odd rustling.

"Rubeus. The dead girl's parents will be here tomorrow. At least we can make sure that the thing that killed her is slaughtered…"

"It weren't him!" The boy roared. "He wouldn'! He never!"

"Stand aside." Riddle drew his wand.

Riddle's spell lit the corridor and the door behind the large boy flew open knocking him into the opposite wall. Harry let out a long piercing scream when the thing behind it immerged. It had a low-slung body, a tangle of black legs, hundreds of eyes and razor sharp pincers. Riddle raised his wand again, but it was too late. The thing bowled him over and scuttled away. Riddle took aim again, but the large boy knocked in to him and seized the wand, "NOOOO!"

The scene whirled and darkness enclosed Harry. He could feel himself falling and with a crash he landed spread eagle on his bed. Riddle's diary lay open on his stomach. Before he could regain his breath, the dorm door opened and Ron came in. "There you are."

Harry sat up, shaking and covered in sweat.

"What's up?" Ron looked concerned.

"It was Hagrid Ron. Hagrid opened the Chamber of Secrets fifty years ago."

~~

Hermione was studying as she sat on the floor in front of the sofa. Draco was directly behind her, playing with the ends of her hair in the ponytail she was wearing. It was an unconscious thing he started doing when they studied together. Draco was reading through his Potions book while Hermione worked on Transfiguration.

"Draco, can I ask you something?" Hermione asked as she continued to write out notes.

"Sure," Draco said, twirling a lock of her hair around his finger.

"I heard you wanted me dead," Hermione murmured. "That if there was a victim of this… whatever it is that's roaming the halls, that you hoped it was me."

Draco paused. He looked down at the top of Hermione's head that was still bent over her homework. "Where did you hear that?" he asked.

Hermione turned to look at him. "Does it matter?" she asked. "Did you say it?"

Draco swallowed nervously. "I said it in the Slytherin common room to Crabbe and Goyle," he said softly.

Hermione felt her heart ache. "Why?" she asked.

Draco looked down. "I don't know," he said. "But I didn't…"

"Mean it right?" Hermione asked. She started to gather her books together. "You never seem to mean it. But yet you keep saying it."

"Hermione…" Draco started.

"No just don't," Hermione said. "It's perfectly obvious that this means nothing to you."

"Don't put words in my mouth," Draco said.

Hermione paused at the door and looked at him. "I don't have to," she said. "You put enough in there yourself." She stormed out, leaving Draco to stare after her.