MoonPrincess623: You are either a very scary person, or lying. I know i wouldn't argue with him, I might get zapped. Purple eyed bishys are awesom, 'nuth said, and Voldie is going to keep on using terms of endearment I'm afraid. Read the Hargo and try not to worry about it.
Holysinner5527: My personal favourite was Rons lines. He got some pretty good ones that chapter, I think.
Misting Rain: Big effect. I can't say more or the I'll start givinh away the plot.
Vree: Yay! You're still reading. A mini Indigo? That does sound kinda fun...
animegirl1994: Umbridge is going to suffer! Suffer!
moonlightskymist: That was a experiment, of sorts. Sorry if it confused you.
Firehedgehog: -cackels back-
Chaos Babe: Which one? Book 4 is going to get sort of complicated, unless my current plans vanish on me, whih they might...
FallenHope-Angel: Eh, he volentered. Or was just dumb enough to touch something Indy had been messing down, there will be another. I do think Ron would be pretty scary if pushed to far. Just get that vibe.
Aftermath and Homewards
The upwards clime of the stairs took a very long time, partially because Ginny was, naturally, weak after her near death experience, but mostly because she kept lagging behind in an attempt to make Harry slow down and help her along.
Harry was ignoring her; it seemed the safest course of action. Also, he was to work out how to harvest the basilisk corpus, and had to decide what to tell Dumbledore, so he lacked any attention to waste on the fangirl. Even if he had wanted to, which he didn't.
Professor Snape was waiting for them outside Moaning Myrtles bathroom. He did not look at all pleased.
"Any why, might I ask, did you go after Miss Weasley yourselves, rather than seeking out a teacher?"
Harry almost mentioned Lockhart, and then decided not to. Let them think that they never saw the ponce, all the better to avoid difficult questions. Those questions that had no safe answers.
"In my defence, I didn't go after Miss Weasley, I went after potions ingredients."
A black brow was raised. Harry shrugged.
"The eyes were destroyed and the skull is partially crushed, but there is the best part of a rather large basilisk down there."
The eyebrow was lowered as this was accepted. Risking death for fanghouls was, of course, unacceptable, but for potions ingredients? That was fine.
"The Headmaster wishes to see you all, and," he looked at Ron and Ginny. "your parents are here."
She paled and shifted uncertainly. Ron wrapped strong fingers around her upper arm, his eyes stern.
For a moment, Snape looked amused, but then he turned away from them and swoops off in the direction of Dumbledore's office, his robes billowing out behind him dramatically.
Neville, who was easily distracted, wondered if the Slytherins took classes in making dramatic entrance/exits or if it was just one of those things that seemed to go hand-in-hand with the silver and green, like never telling you stuff and the knack for complicated plans. They all did it, even the Parkinson girl, and Millicent had it down to a fine art.
Following the potions master, mostly out of habit, he resolved to ask Indigo about it later.
"Ginny! Oh my precious baby girl! Are you hurt?"
Molly Weasley burst into tears and flung herself on her daughter, enveloping the girl in a huge hug.
Her husband frowned an almost unperceivable frown.
"Molly, calm down. We shall discuss the matter later, in privet. With Ron as well."
Ron nodded, and Harry, observing it all in silence, thought Dumbledore looked just a bit disappointed.
Then the old coot turned to him, and Harry mentally prepared for the battle to keep the old coot out of his mind.
Most pureblood children were taught occlomancy as a matter of course, if there was the power to poke around in there minds, they wanted to be able to block it, simple as that. Hanging around with those purebloods had gotten the squad roped in without much consideration about it. Occlomancy was, according to Snape and many books, primarily a matter of knowing you own mind, will power and imagination. Building really good shields could take years, but keeping people out of memories and the important parts of the mind was reasonably simple for anyone with enough concentration.
Ron was working on a mindscape of windmills, Yuki had constructed a snowstorm, Neville had a head full of lava pits, dancing skeletons defended Susan, Indigo held a desert oasis that contained nothing but a thought in each grain of sand beyond it, and Hannah had made a beautiful forests populated by memory caring deer.
Harry had chose a river, a crazy mash up of rapids, slow water and marshland, everything that mattered contained by aquatic life forms and the water an invitation to drown.
Indigo could navigate it, had tested it and told him that the fish were weirdly friendly and nothing had tried to drown him and it needed more work.
Harry wasn't worried. Indigo was, Indigo, and he had never really been able to stop the blond doing anything, including messing with his head. It wasn't like Indigo didn't know all his secrets anyway.
Dumbledore gave the first shot of the fight.
"My dear boy, I'm delighted to see you alive and well. However did you manage to defeat the creature?"
"Oh, it wasn't me sir. Neville made utterly inspired use of the terrain, he probably saved my life."
Neville, possibly joining the act but mostly likely just being himself, looked and the floor, scuffing one foot in an embarrassed manner.
"Not really, was practically an accident, an' it coulda killed you 's well…"
A certain tightness around Dumbledore's eyes, and a indrawn breath from the Weasley women.
"But it didn't, and the basilisk could have killed us without your intervention." Harry mocked up a thoughtful expression. "I suppose we owe you our lives."
"Yeah." Ron nodded.
"Nah. "Neville waved a hand dismissively. "We're friends, ya don't owe me for stuff like that."
Ron cooed and went and hugged the brunet.
"Isn't he just the nicest boy you've ever met?"
Yes. The noisiest and the hungriest as well, but certainly the nicest.
Dumbledore gave them all a smile of twinkly eyed benevolence. Interesting, why didn't he want the debt acknowledged? The power, probably, the influence Neville would hold.
"I am somewhat surprised that you manage to drive the spirit from Miss Weasley. Should I assume that you have been investigating exorcism?" He peered at them thoughtfully over his half moon spectacles. "Should I worry for Professor Bins?"
Could they do that? Well, yes of course, but how?
"Not on our account sir, he left of his own accord."
For a few seconds Dumbledore looked livid, and Harry pictures a flood as he felt an itch in his mind. Snape shifted in his dark corner, the old coot regained his self control.
"Harry," he voice was soft now. "that hardly seems likely."
"It seems perfectly logical to me sir. The basilisk was his only really dangerous weapon, without it retreat would be the best course of action."
Was he grinding his teeth?
"Riddle was many things but never sensible!"
"Who's Riddle, sir?"
Harry kept his expression carefully blank as the coot realised his mistake.
Let's see the bastard get himself out of that one.
It was Hogwarts, so naturally everyone knew that Neville had dealt with a basilisk and the Lockhart had vanished before breakfast the next morning. Nobody knew how these things had happened, and nobody was going to ruin a good story by getting the facts. As a result, there were some fairly interesting theories going around.
The one with Neville playing matchmaker between Lockhart and the basilisk and the unlikely pair eloping together was particularly popular, as it had the advantages of being completely implausible, and having been well told by its creator, and so reasonably well told now.
Indigo, in his normal breakfast spot at the Ravenclaw table, was enjoying it immensely, mostly because of how people were reacting to it. Total blanking of common sense.
"You're smiling Indigo, should I be worried?"
"Do you even need to ask Harry? Sit down, this is a good bit."
Harry settled into the space cleared for him by inventive use of elbows, and listened.
"…That's slightly disgusting."
"They think it's romantic."
"You have a twisted sense of humour."
"I'm not deigning it. What was it you wanted to tell me?"
"Who said I wanted to tell you anything?"
"I did. Tell."
Harry smiled crookedly, took one of Indigo's hands in his and focused on his last encounter with Dumbledore, pushing the memories towards his friend and letting the empathy, always heightened by skin contact, do the rest.
"He- That- Oh, that's beautiful-"
Indigo, no longer able to speak coherently, descended into laughter that somehow managed to be both pleasant to listen to while also holding an unmistakable note of evil joy.
Harry smiled fondly at the moderately insane blond, who was leaning heavily on him to avoid falling off the bench.
"Yes, I thought you'd like that. Though I must point out that his knowledge of Mr Riddle implies that he has important information that we are going to need at some point, and that him dying before we've got it really isn't an option. Something that will make you very cross later."
A nod against his shoulder, and continued laughter. Ah well, might as well take advantage of it.
"Will you exorcise Bins for me?"
A 1st year, whose attention had been caught by the hand holding and kept by the helpless laughter, whooped. Loudly.
Faced with the shocked and interested stares of the great hall, he dealt with the situation as best he could. By jumping onto the bench did a little celebratory dance and then ran out of the hall, still whooping.
Harry chuckled softly, and Indigo finally fell off the bench, still laughing.
Ron, wandering in to see this, knew one thing for certain.
"Someone is totally screwed."
The trip back to London was perfectly normal, or normal by Hogwarts standards anyway. There were little end of term fights going on all over the place, a number of Ravenclaws had barricaded themselves in there compartments and the Defenders of Anarchy were menacing everyone.
"It's time to rip you clothing, it's time to flay your skin/ It's time to get things moving in the city of corpse again."
It was generally agreed that they were getting creepier.
The Squadron had, with no forethought beyond the knowable that they would all fit in one compartment, spilt up. Percy was with his lovers, the Nutters had vanished and the Munchkins had their own compartment. The remained had separated into the group that wanted to do something quiet, Tracy, Hermione, Hazel, Hannah, Indigo, Dean and Neville (who was sleep) had gone to one compartment and the rest, who felt like conversation had taken the one next door.
Currently Ron was employing all his, not inconsiderable charm in an effort to make Millicent laugh. He hadn't managed it yet, but it was entertaining everyone else and persistence and natural good humour could yet win the day.
Platform 9 & ¾ was crowded, and the many families on it were milling around like cattle locked in a barn. Sheep in particular sprang to mind.
Among the sheep were two highly over excited people, a long suffering werewolf, a princess, a woman considering kidnap, a grandmother hovering between worry and rage and a large teddy bear tied to a small child who had started walking a month ago and was now refusing to stop.
The Hogwarts Express pulled in, and the students piled out. After a few minutes of bouncing up and down looking, the excitable people caught sight of their targets.
"Ma baby boy!"
Blaise, who was accustomed to this sort of behaviour, just sighed. Harry, who wasn't, ducked behind him in an attempt to hide, this could have resulted in an interesting little pile up. Fortunately Arabella and Sirius collided with each other before reaching them and, in the thoughtless way of all over excited people, gloomped one another.
Remus, long resigned to his best friends' lunacy, stepped around them and went to greet Harry.
"Hello Harry, no he hasn't lost it, he's just had sugar. Just ignore him, he'll calm down eventually…"
The hugging duo finally noticed who they were hugging and sprung apart, pointing at each other with identical expressions of deep outrage.
"Evil wench! I curse you with many allergies!"
"Cur! Ah' plague o' kamikaze pedes'rians on you!"
Remus sighed deeply, waiting for the inevitable result.
He wasn't disappointed.
Mirivell descended on the Nutters like a moderately pissed off angel of theft. She grabbed the Twins, getting a vice like grip on their upper arms.
"You are having dinner with me. Resistance is futile. Come along, before your mother notices."
They didn't really protest that much.
Neville was scared, because his grandmother looked cross.
Augusta Longbottom being pissed was a very good reason to be scared.
"Neville! Why didn't you tell me about the basilisk?
"Indigo!" Mirada hugged her brother, arms catching him just under the ribs.
"Oof. Hi Miranda. Why is Daniel tied to Semi?"
"He's started walking and now we can't make him stop."
"Ah, you were the same at that age."
Liren glomped him in a surprise attack from the left. Miranda stepped back slightly and left it happen with an interested expression.
"Get off! You're heavier then I am!"
She blinked, before realising that this was true, and getting off. Miranda seemed rather amused.
"Are ya really warding the summer palace? An' who're they?"
A hand was waved in the direction of the Snape siblings. The elder twitched.
"My siblings, Miranda and Daniel. And yes, if my parents allow it, I'll be warding the compound this summer."
"Cool." said Liren, eyeing Miranda, who'd eyed her straight back. "Are you gonna be as scary as Indigo?"
"Mother, Father. I'd like you to meet Penelope Clearwater, my girlfriend, and Oliver Wood, my boyfriend."
Molly seemed to swell to twice her normal size, turning an interesting colour as she did so. He husband ignored it.
"It's a pleasure to meet you both." said Arthur, smiling brightly at the pair as they shock hands. "Just lovely! Er. Do either of you know how to fuse a plug?"
Oliver admitted that he did.
The smiled could have illuminated a reasonably large building.