Hello all. I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read and review my story. After rereading it, I decided that it needed some cleaning up before I finalized the posting. I hope that you enjoy the rewrite; it reads a little easier and I like it better, if that's any indication.
As always, no characters belong to me. I am only responsible for the story idea and situations. With that being said, I understand that there are mountains of great stories dealing with Hermione's petrifaction. It is not my intention to plagiarize these pervious stories in any form. If there are similar thoughts to my writings from other authors, please let me know. It is quiet difficult to research all stories to avoid these types of mistakes, and is not intentional. In addition, I have twisted a few facts from cannon to my advantage, I hope that everyone doesn't mind.
Please enjoy the story and as always reviews and comments are welcome.
Love Warmed My Stone Heart
May 8, 1993
Hermione Granger sat alone towards the end of the Gryffindor table closest to the professor's. Above her head drifted floating candles giving off warm light, illuminating the oak tables in the Great Hall. Beyond them, the ceiling shone a bright blue intermixed with puffy cotton clouds. She had given up waiting on Harry and Ron in the common room and was absorbed in the offensive magic book that stretched out in front of her. Her bushy chestnut hair flowed downward delicately framing the smooth skin of her face and back over her shoulders towards the middle of her spine. Since it was a Saturday and there were no classes today, she was simply dressed in khaki slacks with a scarlet sweater surrounding slim shoulders.
Around the young witch, quite conservations concerning the upcoming quidditch match with Hufflepuff caused a louder than normal roar to escape the Gryffindor table. A small explosion to her right drew her attention to Fred and George sitting on each side of Neville, who was currently trying to rid his smoke filled face of the vapours. I wish that those boys would leave Neville alone. Hermione could see the expression of fear plastered over the embarrassment on his face. Shaking her head she returned her attention to the book in front of her. With all of the books in the library, I have to be able to find out what is petrifying everyone. The solution is here and I have to find it.
"Hermione, how can you be reading a book on Saturday?" Ron's loud voice brought Hermione out of her musings to see the bright red hair and elongating frame of Ron striding to where she was sitting on the opposite side of the table. On her side of the table, the contrasting unruly black mop approached. Harry was in his scarlet and gold quidditch gear, hanging loosely over the thin frame.
"Ron, I am trying to determine what is happening here at Hogwarts. We have to find out," Hermione replied disgustedly at the thought of not having the opportunity to read and learn.
"But it's quidditch today. Gryffindor and Hufflepuff." Ron parked himself across the table from Hermione. His red hair was plastered to his scalp, still dripping water in some spots.
"Ron, if we don't find out what is going on, then there may not even be a school to have quidditch." She glanced at Harry who sat down beside her with his broom leaning against the table. Harry straddled the bench with a leg on each side of the stiff wooden board. Starting at his knees, she took in his lean body before reaching his emerald pools that were focused on her chocolate ones. Quickly, she turned back to face the red head across the table from her, slightly shaken at the intense gaze.
"She's right Ron, we have go to find out what is petrifying everyone," Harry added.
"Thank you, Harry." Hermione turned back to Harry, and could see the messy black hair standing on end in some spots before connecting with the emerald pools that were still locked on her. He looked so tired, so beaten down after the year of rumours concerning the heir of Slytherin and his parselmouth abilities, yet his eyes blazed with an intensity that most could find disturbing. Usually, he only looked exhausted after he returned from the summer, but the year had been tough on the young wizard. Absorbing his gaze for a briefest of moments, Hermione regained her mental abilities for concentration, "I…I think that I am going to the library to do a bit of reading before the match," she managed to say forcing down the odd cramp in her stomach.
"But you can't go alone. Someone has to go with you." Fear and concern laced the soft voice. Harry raised a lone hand and placed it on Hermione's shoulder.
Hermione glanced at the hand poised on her shoulder. She could feel the warmth that radiated from his hand into her body. The calloused fingers lightly touched her shoulder through the jumper. Sensations of slow circles danced on the canvas of her skin as his appendage rested there. Forcing a large lump past her throat, freed the passageway for speech, "Penelope Clearwater said that she wanted to go to the library earlier while walking into the Great Hall. I'll see if she still wants to go." Hermione wanted to stay at the table to enjoy the warmth and security that Harry's hand provided. She wanted to enjoy his company and talk with him, but the safety of the school was at stake. She had to determine what was causing the students to be petrified. Opening her mouth to speak, the knot had returned to restrict her ability to verbalize. Forcing it down again, Hermione focused her will as she tried once more, "I will try to make the match Harry, but I may be late."
As their eyes made connection once again, Hermione sat gazing directly into Harry's eyes, almost witnessing his soul. "Please be careful, Hermione. I care for you."
Those four little words rang in her ears and reverberated into her heart. To say that she was floored by his words would be a monumental understatement. He cares for me. Strengthening her resolve with every ounce of will power she could muster, Hermione forced herself to continue. "I will." Hermione escaped from the table trying to hide the warmness that was creeping onto her face, while an unconscious slight smile crossed her face. Harry cares for me. Why would he say that? Pondering the words, she arrived at her conclusion. Must be the same way that he cares for Ron.
Hermione made her way towards the Ravenclaw table with obvious stares that she received on a daily basis from being associated with Harry Potter. The whisperings were always noticed, and most had the manners to avoid pointing directly at the trio, but there was always one who ignored proper manners. Shrugging off the gestures and unwanted attention, Hermione focused on her task at hand.
Slowly walking around the tables, Hermione spotted the curly headed Ravenclaw sitting at the end of the table with a book propped up in front of her. Advancing toward the Claw cautiously, she was fully aware of her affiliation with Harry and the rest of the school's thoughts of the raven-haired wizard. "Penelope, I am Hermione Granger from Gryffindor." Hermione paused extending her hand toward the brunet. She saw the thin nose and round eyes of the girl poke over the top of her book. "I over heard you saying that you wanted to go to the library. I wanted to go as well and since we are supposed to be in at least groups of two, I wondered if I could tag along with you?" Hermione saw the eyes of the girl dart down towards her extended hand and looked at it with trepidation.
The soft voice caught Hermione by surprise. "Yes, I wanted to go to the library, but why do you want to go with me? Why don't your friends go with you?"
"Oh… Harry has a game today and Ron is going with him."
"So, Harry will be at the pitch then?"
"That's right." This berk believes the rumours about Harry. He is innocent and harmless that he wouldn't hurt a fly. Where did that come from?
Penelope gave a half nod of her head before dropping her book to the table and smiling at the bushy haired girl in front of her. "Ok, we can go together. I was just about to leave." She stood from the seat while sliding her book into a bag that she threw over her shoulder.
Together the pair made their way out of the Great Hall into the corridors of the castle. Their light footsteps padded along the stone floor creating soft echoes that bounced off the walls. Together they turned towards the stairs to make it to the fourth floor. Waiting for the creaking stairs to align, Hermione could see the contorted face of the Claw deciding on the right moment to ask her question. Hermione knew what was coming. All that she could do was prepare for the worst that was going to happen.
As the stairs aligned for their journey, Penelope gathered the courage to ask her query as they reached the second floor. "Please don't think bad of me for asking, but is Harry involved with the attacks on the students?"
Hermione felt her temper flare at the question being asked. Her brow furrowed creating a slight cleft across the normally smooth forehead. A look of contempt filled her face due to the obviously outrageous question. "No, he doesn't have anything to do with the attacks of the students." Hermione said flatly.
"I am sorry for asking, but I just have to know." Penelope started to say something else, but the look in Hermione's eyes persuaded her from asking any more questions concerning Harry or the attacks in the school. "Umm…what are you going to the library for?"
"I have to return a book and pick up another one." Hermione lied to Penelope to disguise the real reason she wanted to venture to the library. Why she felt the need to hide the truth, she really didn't know; but the need, the desire, to clear Harry's name was important to her. More essential to the matter was the fact that she was trying to solve the mystery of the petrified students.
"Any subject in particular?" Hermione glared at the Claw while furrowing her brow at the girl. "I ask this only because I have read quite a number of the books in the library and thought I might be able to suggest one."
Hermione continued to study the Claw with concern. She relaxed slightly at the soft question lobbed her way. "Professor Hagrid has given us a paper on magical insects, and I need a reference for it."
"Try looking for McCormick's Guide to Magical Beast's, it covers a lot of different magical animals."
"Thanks Penelope. I will look into it." Hermione smiled slightly at the Claw to continue the deception as they both entered into the library. The wave of parchment engulfed the Gryffindor, who inhaled the scent while her thoughts drifted to the small library at her home with the dark brown leather chair, wall of books, and comfortable bay window overlooking the garden of the back yard.
With all of the amazing sights and sounds of the castle, this was Hermione's favourite room. The neat rows of high shelves were parallel to each other, allowing sufficient space to allow for easy browsing. Early morning sun streamed through the windows highlighting the smattering of dust that wafted in the air and cast shadows on the smooth stone floors. Surrounded by the knowledge contained in the tombs, Hermione was in her element.
"I would like to attend the game which begins at noon, Hermione. I want to leave in about two and half hours. That will give us plenty of time to get there before it starts." Penelope's voice brought Hermione out of her musings. The brunet turned slightly toward Penelope to simply nod her head before she went to work.
Immediately dodging to the far right of the library to the magical beasts section, Hermione began to skim the titles with a light touch of her fingertip against the spines of the books. On previous visits she had either read or skimmed a large selection of the books in defence, transfiguration, offensive magic, charms, potions and a large number of other subjects. The magical beast subject was the next on her list to research. Skimming the titles quickly, she pulled a small mountain of books from the shelves leaving the obvious titles of Break With a Banshee, Gadding with Ghouls, and the rest of Lockhart's rubbish on the shelves to continue their dust collection. With arms full, Hermione proceeded to her favourite table with the worn top towards the rear of the library to spread out for the research.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander was the first that she opened. Quickly she skimmed the pages to make the most of her time. Salamanders, ashwinders, and others beasts filled the book, but none could petrify people. Hermione immediately started on the next book, only to find much of the same information that was in the first. Unfazed by the lack of progress, she continued through the stack of books.
As the pile dwindled, she came to McCormick's Guide to Magical Beasts. The leather bound cover was definitely worn and the spine was brittle. Observing the poor condition of the book, Hermione gingerly opened the book and began to skim the pages. She found the same information in this book as the rest that she had previously gone thorough. However, towards the end of the book she came across a chapter entitled Unsolved Mysteries. Slowing because of curiosity, she began to read the chapter detailing evidence of creatures to be named nargles, blibering humdingers, and crumpled horned snorkacks, but due to the fact that these creatures had never been seen, it was believed that the creatures were invisible. Continuing to read the chapter, Hermione read accounts of muggle folklore such as the yeti; Lock Ness monster, which was a kelpie; and other tales. The last entry of the chapter was an account from 1392 in the small town of Goathland on the east coast in which several people had been petrified during a heavy rain one evening. The chapter went on to explain that since mandrakes had not been discovered at the time, there was no way to un-petrify them. It also noted that after the petrified people were found, several deaths had occurred in the weeks following due to a basilisk in the area, but the petrified people had never been explained fully. Could it have been a basilisk that had petrified them? What is a basilisk anyway?
Hermione quickly flipped through the book searching for information on the basilisk. Finally she found it and began to read.
A basilisk or King of the Serpents is considered a Dark Magic creature of enormous size and power. The creature itself has green skin and swollen yellow eyes. A chicken egg hatched beneath a toad gives rise to this dark creature and is currently restricted by the Ban on Experimental Breeding. This creature can live hundreds of years and grow to great lengths feeding on anything it can kill including humans. It kills with a death stare that as of yet, no one has lived through. Its fangs are extremely sharp and contain powerful venom, which is an extremely rare and valuable potion ingredient. The only known natural enemy is a crowing rooster, which can kill the beast.
Hermione paused and concentrated on the passage. She thought of a rainstorm and the distortion caused by the rain. If the rain caused a distorted image of the basilisk, maybe it only petrified instead of killing outright. But it can't rain inside Hogwarts. That can't be it, but… there had been water on the floor in all cases. If someone saw it in only a reflection, it might have the same results. Focusing back on the page in front of her with the extremely short narrative on the basilisk and having compiled her thoughts, Hermione studied the picture of the snake below. This must be it. That is why Harry is hearing voices through the walls; he is hearing the snake travelling through them. It really is in his head after all, but he's not imagining them. That's why all of Hagrid's roosters have died or went missing. It or someone is killing them. A slight shiver of fear travelled the length of her spine as she studied the picture.
"Hermione, are you ready to go?"
Hermione jumped, knocking off the pile of books stacked on the table that fell to the floor with loud thumps. A small yelp escaped from her voice as well from the sound of Penelope's voice. Hermione immediately looked up at the Ravenclaw standing across the table with a look of surprise.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. Did you find what you were looking for?"
"It's ok, I just wasn't expecting it." Hermione could feel the pounding of her heart begin to slow in her constricted chest from the scare along with the slight beads of perspiration running down her back and forming at her hairline. A confidence rushed into her chest to replace the fleeting jolt. "Yes, I think that I did." Hermione smiled at the Claw who was beginning to pick up the books that had scattered onto the floor. Unwilling to add to her already full book bag, Hermione tore the page with the information on the basilisk from the book. As her soul ripped with the page, she knew that latter she could return the page to the book and mend it. Quickly she folded the parchment into the palm of her hand.
Together the pair of students returned their books to the proper shelves before exiting the fourth floor library. As they approached the nearest set of stairs, an excited curiosity rose in her chest that she could not deny. "Penelope could we take a detour by the girl's bathroom on the second floor?"
Penelope stopped suddenly in the middle of the corridor. Her face twisted with obvious questions and even pain. Her brown eyes were only visible through a slight slit. Hermione continued to study the clear face waiting on her reaction. "Why…do you want to visit that bathroom?" The words were clear and considerably higher than the previous conservations. "That is where everyone has been attacked."
"I want to check on something." Hermione's words had no effect on the female Ravenclaw. Hermione decided a new tactic would be more appropriate. "Ok, Penelope. I think that a basilisk is in the castle." Penelope's face was still warped with questions and fear. "I found a chapter that detailed that several people were petrified in a rain storm in the late 1300's." Hermione paused to allow the information to soak in. "In the following weeks, several people in the same area were killed by a basilisk. I think that the petrified people saw the basilisk, but were not killed. They turned to stone."
Penelope had regained her composure to a degree and was intently focused on the words from Hermione's mouth. "To begin with, what is a basilisk?"
"Oh, it's the king of serpents." Hermione began to unfold the parchment in her hand before handing it to the Ravenclaw. She quickly read the page and stared back up at Hermione. "It really makes a lot of sense when you examine the facts."
"How does it make sense? It says here that it can grow to enormous lengths, feed off humans, and it kills. It doesn't petrify, Hermione."
Hermione could see the obvious questions from the Ravenclaw. "Ok, you have me on the petrified students. I will admit that, but the case of the petrified people in the 1300's was never solved. I think that because of the rain, their vision was distorted and it only caused the people to be petrified. I know that it doesn't rain inside Hogwarts, but in all of the cases there was water on the floor. The reflection could have caused the same reaction as the rain." Hermione could easily see the exasperated look on the face opposite of her. "But, if you look at the facts that we have, then it does answer a lot of questions. First, all of Hagrid's roosters have been killed. The only enemy of the basilisk is a rooster. Second, it can live for hundreds of years. There is no way of knowing how long it has been in the school. Third," Hermione paused before revealing her next fact. She didn't want to say it, but she must if she wanted to clear Harry's name. "Third, Harry has been hearing voices." Hermione voice dropped at saying this last piece of information.
"Hearing voices? What do you mean hearing voices?"
"Ron and I haven't heard them, but that is explained. If it was a snake, which a basilisk is, then Harry heard them in parseltounge. Ron and I wouldn't be able to understand them. It all makes sense Penelope." Hermione saw her face soften slightly. It is working, she believes me.
"Ok, if it is…this basilisk, where is it? Where has it been all of these years? Why hasn't anyone else seen it?"
"The Chamber of Secrets. It is the only answer, and I think that it is in the second floor bathroom because it's closest to where all of the attacks have occurred." Hermione studied the face of the fifth year. She couldn't read if her explanation of the facts had helped or not, but hoped that it had.
"So, why do you want to go and explore the bathroom? Do you want to be petrified like the rest or even killed?"
"No, I just want to examine the area. I promise that we will be careful."
"We! I am not going anywhere near it. I avoid that bathroom at all cost, because of Moaning Myrtle and what has been happening this year."
"Myrtle, I bet that is why she was killed. She saw the basilisk and she died. It makes even more sense. Penelope, we have to go and check it out. It will only take a few minutes." Hermione could see the obvious dread in the Ravenclaw's face. "After that we will go directly to McGonagall or Dumbledore." Please Penelope, go with me.
"Since it is on our way, we will make a quick trip, but absolutely no going in the actual bathroom."
"We won't go in, just observe from the corner. Thank you very much." Hermione was relieved that she convinced Clearwater to visit the bathroom. "Come on, we need to hurry." Hermione grabbed the Ravenclaw by the hand, and lead her toward the aligned staircase to the third floor.
Working quickly, Hermione and Penelope made their way down the next flight of stairs to the second floor towards the end of the corridor where the bathroom was.
Upon reaching the end of the corridor, both of the girls pressed their backs against the stonewall. Hermione closed her eyes, trying to ease the pounding in her chest. Oh my God, please keep us safe. Do us no harm as we investigate the bathroom. With her eyes closed she could feel the cool of the wall extracting the warmth of her body. Turning to peer around the corner, a hand dropped onto her shoulder, stopping her movement and a sequel to erupt from her lungs. Pivoting, Hermione observed Penelope's hand on her shoulder; restricting her. A strange, demanding look was fixated on her other hand. Hermione glanced, finding Penelope holding a small mirror. "Good thinking, Penelope." Hermione took the small mirror into the same hand as the book parchment. Slowly she extended her hand around the edge of the corner to begin focusing on the floor and the bathroom door. Feeling her hair being pulled to the side; Hermione bent her neck to see the Ravenclaw's chin resting near her shoulder while the round eyes were peering towards the outstretched mirror. A slight grin came across the Gryffindor's face as she rotated back toward the mirror. Slowly Hermione's hand tilted left, right, up, and down to view the entire corridor corner in the mirror. She could see clear water forming in pools and other odd geometric shapes on the floor. On the walls, she could see nothing written on them, but an odd premonition told her it in due time there would be more words of warning painted on the stone surfaces.
The door to the bathroom came into view and it was pressed open, giving them welcome into the bathroom. Another shiver erupted and ran the length of Hermione's spine as she recalled her time spent in that room brewing the polyjuice potion. Holding her breath, willing her heart to slow it's pounding, Hermione moved towards the stone corner keeping the mirror trained on the door as she moved. Peeking over her shoulder, the Ravenclaw moved step for step with her. Hermione returned her attention to the mirror and then she saw it. An end of a bright green tail flopped just outside of the door into the corridor with the rest of the body still hidden inside the bathroom. Both of the girls inhaled sharply, trying to move from the corner, but were frozen with their feet being planted firmly. Together they both simply stared at the door through the focused mirror at the moving tail. Slowly the tail slithered from the door back inside the bathroom, allowing the girls to relax their breathing. However neither of the girls could draw their attention from the mirror and the door. They stood focused on the door waiting for the next movement to happen, neither of them wanting to leave at the time.
Slow movement could be detected from the edge of the door by the shadows being cast of the floor. There were elongating and dancing in an odd hypnotic dance. An odd shaped bright green mass appeared at the door jam. It was hanging from midair it seemed, but Hermione could tell that there was more to the object that appeared. The bright green shape moved slightly from side to side almost sniffing the air. A bright red organism flicked outward stabbing the air with forked ends; measuring it. Hermione swivelled to see the face of Penelope, but it had an odd colour to it. It was a light charcoal in colour. Hermione didn't understand immediately until she turned back to the mirror and saw the swollen yellow eye of the basilisk.