A/N: This story was written for althor42's Isis' Bane series, though it incorporates plot points generated for his story, it can stand completely on its own. I highly recommend his series of HP/SG1 crossovers.
Disclaimer: I wish I owned the rights to Harry Potter, but alas, I can only play in world that J.K. Rowling created.
When the Sorting Hat had called out Gryffindor from atop her head on her first day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, no one had been quite as surprised as Hermione herself. She had already read about each of the four houses in Hogwarts a History and she had been quite certain that she would be placed in Ravenclaw, the house for those who loved knowledge, which she would have described as her defining characteristic. She had considered that Hufflepuff would not be a bad house for her, since after all she was very hard working. She had also thought that without the pureblood bias, she would have done well in Slytherin since she considered herself to be quite cunning. What she hadn't considered, at all really, was Gryffindor. Gryffindor was the house for the brave and the reckless, for those who would risk their lives to defend others, and stand up for what was right, no matter what the cost to themselves. Hogwarts a History was filled with such Gryffindors. Hermione certainly didn't see herself as brave, she was quite cautious she thought. She certainly couldn't see herself running after dragons or fighting in the wars, like the heroes in stories. However, in spite of all that, she had always done her best to live up to the virtues of her house. So, when messages had been written on walls proclaiming death to the muggleborns of Hogwarts, she had done her best to focus on solving the problem. She certainly wasn't going to sit around and wait for Slytherin's monster to petrify her. Fortunately, being the hero so far had required no more bravery than it took to walk the now dangerous halls of Hogwarts to the library. Unfortunately, she had seemingly reached the end of what she could learn from these books. And this was where she had run into uncertainty. A hero certainly wouldn't let their pride get in the way of saving the day. She had read several stories where heroes had had to ask others for help. But why did her help have to come in the form of Ronald Weasley.
She couldn't say how it had happened, there certainly hadn't been an open declaration of hostility between them, yet since the end of the second month of her schooling at Hogwarts, she and Ronald had had a rivalry of an odd sort that had never lacked in animosity. It was Ronald who had started it of course, she had been trying to help him one day in Charms where he had been doing abysmally, and had later found him mocking her to his friends, saying it was no wonder she didn't have any friends of her own. After that she couldn't help herself, she supposed it wasn't very noble of her, but the next time she noticed that he'd done poorly on a test she had said quite brightly that it was no wonder, since he didn't have any brains. She had been quite shocked of course when he had turned around in his seat a week later holding up an Astronomy test that he had somehow managed to best her on. He hadn't even said anything, he had just grinned, which was most infuriating, and turned back around as if he hadn't just started a rivalry that would last over a year. She later found out that he had spent the entire weekend studying for nothing but astronomy. And so it had gone on, she was still the top of her class, but Ronald would always find some way to best her in some test, or essay, or practical, unless she could figure out what he was studying for next, though he had gotten sneaky about it. And now, it seemed that he might just best her in solving this mystery. Seemingly, he was the only other person in the castle who seemed to be investigating the attacks, and she couldn't stand the idea of asking him for help. But she also couldn't stand the idea that someone could get hurt because he had a piece of the puzzle that she didn't. She buried her head in her hands. A hero would walk over to him and ask him for help, a hero would be decisive, a hero would just walk over and say...
"I need your help," said the voice of Ronald Weasley.
Still leaning over her long forgotten book, Hermione Granger sighed, it seemed he had bested her in asking for help.
"What was that Ronald?" Hermione asked hesitantly.
Ron grunted at the use of his given name. Only his mother called him that, and the twins when they were taking the mickey.
"I need your help; or, I think we can help each other." He hoped she didn't tell him to go away.
"I was thinking the same thing," said Hermione with a note of resignation.
"You were?" asked a surprised Ron.
"Of course. You are apparently the only other person actively, or openly, searching for whoever or whatever is behind these attacks. As well, we both have different and perhaps complimentary investigative techniques. It would be good for us to compare notes and work together from here on out." She said this all in a business like manner.
"Um, all right then, where do we start."
"We should start by reviewing our notes."
Ron sighed and pulled out his findings, as Hermione started a long winded lecture on everything from concealment and enlargement charms and animal longevity to legacy spells that pass family knowledge from generation to generation, Ron got the exact feeling he got whenever he had to read a history text book. For the most part, he only gleaned a vague sense of what she was saying.
"Is that all?" he asked when she had finished.
"Have you found the Chamber of Secrets yet?" Hermione asked heatedly.
"Well it just seems that all you've been able to find is where the chamber can't be and which monsters it isn't."
"And what did you find then?" Hermione asked challengingly.
Ron thought for a moment before looking down at his hands.
"I figured out who isn't the heir of Slytherin," he mumbled. "But I also figured out which part of the castle the chamber is in probably," he said more brightly.
"Alright then," Hermione said slightly mollified, "start from the beginning."
"Right, so first I thought that it was probably Draco Malfoy."
"And," Hermione said expectantly.
"It isn't him," Ron supplied.
"How do you know?" Hermione asked.
"He was in class when Nearly Headless Nick and Justin were attacked, and there are three first year Hufflepuffs who told me that he Crabbe and Goyle were picking on them on the other side of the castle when Mandy got petrified. Actually most of the school was in some class or another during at least one of the attacks. Except for a few seventh years who aren't taking a lot of classes, but I've crossed most of them off the list."
Hermione was almost speechless. "How on Earth did you figure all that out."
Ron shrugged, "I talked to a lot of people. I also got the twins to help me nick the class attendance rosters, I told them it was for a prank." They had just been so proud of him that he had just had to pull off a prank. It had been fun, Draco still looked over his shoulder now and then.
Hermione raised her eyebrows at that, and Ron wondered if she was going to complain about rule breaking. Instead she said, "How did you think to do all that?"
Ron shrugged, "That's what Auror Lyle would do."
"Who's Auror Lyle?"
"Oh, he's just this character in these books Bill used to read to me"
"Well then, are you sure all those students have alibis, how many people are still suspects."
"Sure I'm sure, there's just a few Hufflepuffs, a Gryffindor, and a Slytherin who weren't in class for any of the attacks. Unfortunately I don't think it's the Slytherin, he's one of the few muggleborns in the house, and he was in the infirmary during the third attack. The Gryff was playing on the pitch during the first attack, two of the Hufflepuffs were both in the library during the last attack, the third one doesn't have any alibis that I can find, but I don't think it's her."
"Because she's totally a girl."
Hermione took on a look that he had often seen his mother use. "Ronald Weasley, that is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. You would just be idiotic enough to cross every girl off as a suspect."
Ron spluttered, "No, of course not, I mean she's really girly, you know. She spends all her time mooning over boys and gossiping and drawing hearts and ponies on her homework assignments. Besides, she's failing half her classes, so I really don't think she's got the brains to pull this off."
Hermione sighed, she supposed that sort of girl didn't really fit into the profile. "You're sure that's everyone, right?"
"Well yeah, everyone except first year Gryffindors and Puffs."
"You just said that all the underclassmen had a class during at least one attack."
"Yeah, well I don't think a first year is going around and setting Slytherin's monster on people, so why check their alibis? "
"You thought that Draco Malfoy was capable of it. He's just a year older."
"Yeah, but he's our age, besides do you really think an eleven year old is capable of it."
Hermione sighed, "Yes well it probably isn't a first year, but one way or another you seem to have crossed every student off your list. Was there anything more?"
"Sure, I've narrowed down where in the castle I think the entrance is, I think it's somewhere around the stairwell by the Great Hall, I think either on the second or third floor."
"How did you figure that out?"
"Well, I figured whoever it is probably doesn't want to roam the halls with the monster, so they'll stick to the area around the chamber. So I mapped out the attacks and other odd stuff in the castle."
"Well," he says, pulling out a rough sketch of a map of the school. "Right here is where two third years heard a rumbling, just a bit before Angelina got petrified a few corridors over. A suit of armor got knocked over here sometime around the time Mrs. Norris got it right here." He pointed to a cluster of marks on the map.
Ron felt quite smug at the look on her face. Until she frowned.
"This is good, but we're still where we started. You've been out there paying attention. Is there anything you didn't mention? Maybe something you didn't think was important, but was just out of the ordinary, strange."
Ron thought for a moment. "Well, aside from how you strangely separate all the food on your plate." He smirked; the look she gave him was delightful. "Um, well, all the desks in the Arithmancy classroom disappeared last February, there's that crater that appeared overnight on the quidditch pitch, that bathroom no one uses that keeps flooding, someone killed all of Hagrid's roosters, there was the girl who..."
"Roosters!" exclaims Hermione, interrupting Ron. "Oh Roosters, just a minute." Ron rolled his eyes as she pulled out a ridiculously large book, and started flipping through feverishly. "Ooh," she said, her finger stabbing a page. "Oh dear."
"What is it?" he asked. "A giant magical rooster that petrifies you with its crow?"
Hermione gave him a 'don't be stupid' look, and turned the book around. Ron saw a picture of the largest snake he'd ever seen, he started reading, not liking what it said.
"But hold on, this says the look kills, not petrifies. I mean it fits with the rooster thing and the Slytherin thing, but no one's dead."
"What if they only partially saw its eyes? Angelina was right next to a suit of armor; she could have seen a reflection. The whole castles filled with shiny stuff."
"Justin saw it through Nick, Mandy can't stop looking at her reflection." Ron supplied. "Mrs. Norris was right next to that big puddle of water from Moaning Myrtles Bathroom."
"Hold on," says Hermione. She looked at the map. "That's right near the middle of your little cluster. Oh!"
Without another word Hermione jumped up and hurried among the shelves. She came back with an old year book. She started thumbing through the book when at last her finger once more stabbed the page.
"Aha!" she pauses and reads the passage. "Oh, yes it's right here! Myrtle died the same year that the chamber of secrets was opened. She died in the bathroom she haunts. Ron, what if the chamber of secrets is in that bathroom?"
"Hold on now, what about what you were saying earlier, about enlargement charms. If the chamber has been hiding a giant basilisk, then it would be too large for someone to mask the magic of the charm, 'cause to hide a chamber that size in the bathroom would take a massive enlargement charm. What makes you think that it's in there?"
"There's no other reason for the basilisk to go into the bathroom there unless that's where the chamber is."
Ron nodded his head, "That makes sense I guess. But if the great honking Chamber of Secrets was up there, someone would have discovered it by now." He paused for thought, "What if it's just the entrance in there, what if the actual chamber is somewhere else?"
"Of course," exclaimed Hermione. "The pipes, oh it makes sense now. Slytherin didn't need to hide the entire chamber, just the entrance. Say he redirects one of the pipes that go to the bathroom and casts an enlargement spell on it. It would be small enough to mask the signature, and he could do it without alerting the others. Then he could put the chamber somewhere away from the castle so it wouldn't be discovered."
Ron nodded; it made sense. "Right, now we can set up a watch and wait for someone to go down into the chamber."
Hermione gave him an exasperated look, "Or we could wait for someone to come up with a basilisk. There's a far better way to handle things from here that doesn't involve getting killed." The 'you idiot' was left silent.
"Oh and what's that then if your so clever?" asked Ron, heatedly.
"We go tell Professor McGonagall what we've figured out, I think she can handle a basilisk better than we can." She got up and started replacing the books that were no longer relevant.
"Wait, we can't tell anyone yet, we haven't solved the case," Ron explained, as if it were some sort of law.
"This isn't your detective book, where everyone's gathered in the end for the big summation. We need to put a stop to this before someone gets killed." She started walking out of the library, her books in tow. Ron started walking next to her, but at the exit they both stopped, looking out into the corridor nervously.
"What if we run into the basilisk on the way," Hermione asked Ron, who was thinking the same thing.
"We just don't look it in the eye," Ron explained.
"Sunglasses," says Hermione, she pulled out a pocket mirror. With a bit of transfiguration that Ron was sure they hadn't learned in class yet, Hermione handed him a pair of glasses identical to the ones she put on herself.
They headed out of the library in search of Professor McGonagall.
Ron still felt that they weren't doing things properly if they didn't figure out who the culprit was first. "I just wish I knew where I went wrong with my list," he tells Hermione.
"It was a good idea," she reassured him. "There were just too many students for you to do things right on your own. You've been paying close attention to that area of the castle though, was there anyone else you've noticed lurking around, anything else out of the ordinary?"
"Besides Filch, whose been haunting that corridor this whole time, I can't really think of anything that's happened around there. Oh, except that diary I found, someone tried to flush it down Moaning Myrtle's toilet. I never could figure out why someone tried to get rid of it. It was completely blank inside; the twins couldn't even find any hidden writing."
"Well I could find some revealing spells, maybe it isn't blank."
Ron shook his head, "Someone stole it; a couple days after I found it someone tore apart my room. Only thing missing was the diary."
"Someone stole it?" Hermione exclaimed. "Then it's almost definitely important, why didn't you say anything before?"
Ron's ears went red. "I actually thought you stole it. I'd just beaten you on a charms essay and I thought you'd thought to steal my diary for revenge. Actually I thought the joke was on you, I imagined you wasting your time trying to read it."
Hermione nodded at his reasoning, but then she looked furious. "I remember hearing about someone ransacking your room, I also recall having all the seams on my book bag split the next day. I was late for class."
"Oh really," Ron said with feigned intrigue. "What a coincidence.
Hermione frowned, but let him get away with it. "And it didn't say anything at all?"
Ron shook his head, "No, just the name on the front. T M Riddle, but there aren't any Riddles here at the school."
Hermione got an excited look in her eye. She pulled out one of the books she had brought with her. It was the yearbook again.
"Here it is," she said. "Tom Marvolo Riddle, he was a sixth year when the chamber was opened."
"What if he knew something back then, or what if he did it, the location of the chamber of secrets could be in the diary."
Hermione frowned, "Maybe someone was able to read it, and used it to open the chamber, but they'd also have to be the heir of Slytherin if they can command the basilisk. And why would they try to get rid of the diary like that?" They started walking again, in search of Professor McGonagall.
"What if it is one of the first years?" Ron asked.
Hermione shook her head, "No, you were right before. Even if someone told them how to find the chamber, can you really imagine a first year running around the castle, setting a basilisk on people without getting caught."
"No, listen, what if they were bewitched? I've heard of curses that can make you do stuff, dark objects. Look, we know that diary is from the time the chamber was opened, that someone tried to get rid of it at the entrance to the chamber. If all of the older students have alibis and a first year couldn't have done it, then we're left with a cursed first year. What if that diary was somehow controlling someone? They tried to get rid of it, then stole it back when they saw I had it."
"If it's the diary then it has to be one of the Gryffindors, only a Gryffindor would have seen you trying to work on the diary with the twins, and only a Gryffindor would have been able to get at your room."
Ron nodded, thinking of the theft of the diary made him think of something else. Something he should have thought of sooner. His stomach plummeted when he realized what it meant, who it was. Suddenly events from the year started clicking in place. Hermione started walking again, and Ron started following numbly.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"I've got the last bed in the dorm."
"And?" Hermione asked, her confusion evident.
"No one else's stuff was touched, just mine. Like whoever did it knew which bed was mine." He paused. "My sister, Ginny's the only first year who's been up in our dorm. She's the only one who'd know which one's mine. I guess she's been acting weird for a bit, I just thought she was homesick."
There was an awkward silence then, until Hermione spoke up. "But where would she have gotten it in the first place, do you think she found it somewhere in the castle. I mean it's not like she'd be getting anything from a dark wizard."
Ron thought, "I think she did get a diary when we went to Diagon Alley. But I don't think that a dark artifact like that would have just been lying around a used bookstore. But..." Suddenly the color drained from his face, and just as quickly it turned bright red. "She did meet a bloody dark wizard that day! Lucius Malfoy came up to us while we were in Flourish and Blotts. He was making fun of Ginny's second hand books; he pulled one out of her cauldron. He must have slipped it in! Dad's always said he was a big supporter of You-Know-Who!"
Hermione looked horrified at the prospect. Suddenly, as though it were coming from all around them, the voice of Professor McGonagall rang out.
"All students will return to their dormitories immediately. All staff will convene in the staff room."
Ron and Hermione looked at each other with worry; had there been another attack? Together they turned around and started towards the staff room. They walked on in silence, but inside Ron's insides were reeling. He worried about what might have happened, if his sister was all right. He wished that Lucius Malfoy were standing there in front of him…and that he was older and knew more spells.
During the two years that Ron and Ginny had been the only Weasley children left not in Hogwarts, they had been very close. But when he had come back from his first year in Hogwarts the one-year that separated them had seemed so much bigger. This year he had kept himself busy trying to solve the mystery, competing with Hermione, spending time with his friends. He wished he would have been there for his sister, he might have noticed something was wrong, she might have told him that something was. He wished this were just another one of the games they had played when they were younger, taking turns playing the hero, rescuing the other from danger.
They reached the staff room at last. Hermione knocked and they went inside. As Hermione explained, Ron stood there silently. He wished that they had been working together from the start.
Adventures, Hermione thought, would be better if they didn't end in the hospital wing. If they didn't end in mourning. A day after it had all ended the castle was still very somber; what with the headmaster's return and the permanent sealing of the Chamber of Secrets, and the news that the mandrakes would be ready the next week to revive their absent classmates; one would think that there would be celebration. However, it had all come too late. Ernie MacMillan had died, just the night before, poisoned by the basilisk. There wasn't much to celebrate in the end, but Hermione found herself walking into the infirmary towards the back where the last bed in the room was curtained off. It was strange, thought Hermione, that Ginny Weasley should look so normal. For surely there should be some sign that she had recently been possessed by the darkest wizard since Grindewald.
Hermione shivered at the thought of Voldemort roaming the halls of Hogwarts once more, for that was who Tom Riddle had become. She had just come from a meeting with the headmaster, and she had to wonder at how calmly he had explained everything to her. She pulled up a chair next to Ron, wishing she knew what to say, but they were left with only silence for a while.
"How is she?" she asked finally, unable to take the silence any longer.
Ron slumped back in his chair, not looking away from his sister. "She'd be awake now if they hadn't given her a sleeping potion. The separation process took a lot out of her though, and I guess she just needs some rest. She was pretty upset after it was over."
Hermione could imagine just how upsetting it would be to be in Ginny Weasley's shoes at that moment. "You shouldn't look so upset with yourself; Professor Dumbledore says we saved her life, it would have killed her eventually. You should be proud of yourself." She really didn't understand how he could sport an expression that said it was all his fault.
"When we were much younger," Ron started after a while. "All I wanted to do was follow my big brothers around. Ginny had just wanted to follow me. One day Fred and George were climbing trees in the back yard, so I had to climb a tree, and of course Ginny did to. She was five and she fell out, broke her arm. Later that night Bill and Charlie took me aside and told me that as her big brother, I had a responsibility to watch over Ginny and make sure she stayed out of trouble. After that, I always made sure I kept an eye on her. We were best friends once. Then I went to Hogwarts and it's like everything changed between us. This whole year I've ignored her trying to solve the mystery, and if I'd just taken some time to talk to her, I could have ended this long ago." Thoughts of Earnie hung in the air.
"You don't know that!" said Hermione. "You could have been the best big brother there is and she still might not have said anything."
Ron looked down at his hands. "I guess we'll never know then, will we."
It was odd, a few days ago she would have gladly watched him stew in self-misery. "Alright look, no matter what she was going to get that diary, she was going to be possessed, and even if you'd talked to her every day, it probably would have gone unnoticed for a while. Do you even know what the symptoms of possession are? Maybe you could have ended this sooner, maybe. But no matter what, your sister was going to get hurt. So stop thinking about what you could have done and remember that you still saved her life. Start thinking about how you'll do better in the future." Her mother always said that when you did something wrong you learn from it and move on. Though she had found that that was sometimes easier said than done.
Ron looked at his sister sadly for a moment, "She always did refuse to admit when something was wrong. I guess I just feel guilty for letting us grow apart, for not being her best friend anymore." He breathed out heavily through his nose. "If I'd just been one hour sooner-"
"Don't," said Hermione. "We're not responsible for that. Neither's Ginny. It's You-Know-Who and-"
"Malfoy," said Ron. "I wish I could show him what it's like dying by basilisk venom."
They hadn't been able to help themselves. The night before, they had consulted Hermione's book once more to find out more about the Basilisk's bite; what it had described had haunted her dreams that night.
They sat in silence for a while, though this time it wasn't so uncomfortable. Madam Pomfrey came out after a while to fuss over her various patients. When she had returned back to her office Hermione broke the silence once more, looking for a slightly more cheerful topic.
"You know it really is amazing we did this all on our own. Professor Dumbledore says we will be receiving special awards for services to the school; we'll get plaques in the trophy room." It was a pity she wouldn't be able to tell her parents. She really didn't think that they would react well to hear of all the danger their daughter had been in. That she had roamed halls that had carried the beast that had killed one of her classmates. Really, the less they knew about her world the better.
Ron gave a small smile at this. Then a nonchalant expression came over his face. He cleared his throat. "Say, um, some of us are meeting up in London this summer to see a few quidditch games now and then, and well, um... you know."
Hermione was rather surprised. "Are you inviting me to come with you?"
"Um, well yeah. If you want to."
She had never really enjoyed going to the school matches. "I'd like that."
"Great," said Ron. "I'll owl you later with the dates and stuff."
Hermione noted the time. "Do you want to go down for dinner?" she asked Ron.
He shook his head, "No, I'll stay here. You go on though, I'll see you later."
Hermione got up. "Well perhaps we can study for exams together later, they're only a week away." She started walking away, but turned around not being able to resist. "And don't think I don't know you're focusing on History, you don't stand a chance."
She didn't have to be a mind reader to know why he quickly hid the smirk that had spread over his face. She knew he was really focusing on potions. She wondered if she would let him have his victory. Hermione looked back at the boy who was staring sadly at his sister. She thought she would enjoy having Ron as a friend more than as a rival, but perhaps he could be both. Oddly enough, for reasons she couldn't comprehend, she was really looking forward to the summer quidditch games.