ALL RIGHT! PLOT HOLE FIXED!
Literally all that was needed was a chapter in between the last one and the next one. Just finished it not two minutes ago. Hope you enjoy!
The next few months continued without incident.
The pixie settled in nicely to its accommodations, without truly alarming or alerting anyone to its presence. They'd decided to call it Brownie, until such a time as it named itself, but the small blue person seemed to like the name.
Classes continued as normal, with Lockhart no longer dragging in magical creatures to display to the class. He instead confined himself to bragging about his accomplishments and doing more theatre than actual teaching. He usually dragged one of the students up to act along with him. After one amusing incident, wherein Harry was called upon one too many times and promptly refused to leave his seat, threatening to place something he'd heard of called a 'Permanent Sticking Charm' on the seat of his trousers so he couldn't assist Lockhart, the man basically left him alone. Instead, he delighted to call upon the other students, preferably those he knew had talent. In those months, Harry quietly noted that Anthony Goldstein could throw his voice remarkably well, Padma Patil had a way of shoving Lockhart straight back into place by acting like the Queen, and at least two of the Hufflepuffs he didn't know well, Sally Ann Perks and Justin Finch-Fletchley, could ignore everyone around them given a focus- which involved tuning out Lockhart's pleas for them to assist him.
Besides Defense Against the Dark Arts, everything was basically normal. Transfiguration was mostly fun, though Harry enjoyed Charms more. He was steadily improving in Potions, with Snape mostly leaving him alone. Aileen made sure of it. Herbology was fairly interesting, and Harry noted how it played into Potions a lot.
Weekends were consumed with homework and hanging out. At the beginning of September, the weather was nice enough to go study outside, but as it got later in the month, the cold began to blow in and they started to spend more days inside, or at least go in earlier.
October brought with it a light snowy chill and frost on the windows in the morning. The group continued to look for another place to meet, especially since the classroom that had become their unofficial meeting place, and it was *cold*. The little elf called Bitsy tried to help them as much as she could, but they couldn't seem to find any good place to meet.
Until one day, in mid-October, when the Eight and the younger children met up in the classroom once again, only to find Bitsy waiting for them. "Hello," the tiny elf squeaked, bowing quickly to them.
"Hello, Bitsy," Hermione said kindly, bobbing a curtsey to her. "What is it?"
"Bitsy has found a meeting-place," she announced proudly. "The other elves be telling me of the Come-and-Go room."
"Come-and-Go room?" Harry repeated. Aileen exchanged confused glances with Thaddeus. "What is it?"
"The other house-elves be saying it appears only when you be needing it," Bitsy said. "It be on the seventh floor, across from the silly man teaching trolls ballet."
"Silly man teaching trolls ballet? Would that be-"
"Barnabas the Barmy," Daphne said as she entered. "It's in one of the old history books my mother owns. I believe I remember where it is. I don't remember any mention of a 'Come-and-Go' room, however."
"Because it be there only when you be needing it," Bitsy explained. "Very tricksy, it is. You must walk back and forth along the corridor three times, thinking of what you be needing, then the door appears and you can be going inside."
The group looked at each other, the younger children wide-eyed at the sight of Bitsy. "What's that?" Bridgette asked quietly, sliding behind Patrick a bit more.
"Who's that," Seamus corrected. "She's Bitsy. She's a house-elf."
"It's a bit complicated," he said. "Ask me later or do research ye'self."
"Research?" Bridgette said. "Fine, then." She turned, as if to flounce out the door again, before Patrick caught her arm and pulled her back into the room.
"Thanks, Bitsy," Harry said warmly. "I appreciate it."
Bitsy bowed, head bobbing, and vanished.
They shoved the Come-and-Go room to the backs of their minds as schoolwork became an ever-present pressure on their shoulders. Aileen spent countless hours reading over Harry's shoulder as he stressed over a report or an assignment, wishing she could point out the bit of text he was missing or nudge him a few pages over to the right section. Unfortunately, she hadn't had contact with him since the first day of term and it didn't look like she was going to contact him in the foreseen future.
Halloween approached before they knew it, and Harry finally completed the last of his homework on the eve before. He leaned back in his chair, took a deep breath, and released a long-suffering sigh. Hermione, who had been finished for an hour, looked up from her book.
"Done?" she asked casually. Harry nodded. "Great."
"Midnight snack?" he asked her. She rolled her eyes, but nodded. He raised his voice slightly and called, "Bitsy!"
With a small *pop* the house-elf appeared. "Mister Potter? Why are you being up so late?" she asked, looking slightly astonished.
"Had to finish my homework," he explained. "Can you get Hermione and I some snacks?"
"Tea and biscuits would be wonderful," Hermione said.
Harry shot her an incredulous glance. "Tea?" he asked.
She blushed slightly. "It makes me feel… more grownup."
"Hot cocoa, please?" he asked instead. Bitsy nodded and vanished.
"What will you be doing this Halloween?" Hermione asked out of the blue as he sat down in one of the comfortable chairs and sighed.
He shrugged. "Who knows. Probably not much. I don't feel like doing much on Halloween anyways."
Understanding lit in Hermione's eyes. "Oh," she said softly. "I see."
Aileen did too, and understood his decision completely.
"Wonder what will happen this year?" he said suddenly.
She turned to look at him. "Pardon?"
"Halloween. Something happens for me every Halloween, or so it seems. My parents died. Dudley tried to beat me black and blue when some of his candy turned up in my cupboard. I saved you from a mountain troll last year, even though we ended up fighting it. Those are the biggest three I can remember."
Hermione put her book down and leaned back in her seat, contemplating him with narrowed eyes. "That's an interesting thought," she said. "I wonder if you're right, and dramatic happenings are tied to Halloween, or you're just singling them out. Historically, Muggles have believed that Halloween, or All Hallow's as they used to call it, was the time when the veil between the afterlife and earth was the thinnest. A lot of mystical ceremonies are conducted around Halloween, too... It wouldn't be entirely amiss to think that, honestly. We've seen weirder."
Bitsy popped back in and set two mugs down on the table, quickly followed by a large plate of cookies. "Thank you, Bitsy," Hermione said cordially, taking a small sip of cocoa and sighing. "You're right," she admitted ruefully. "This tastes better than tea."
Harry grinned and took a long sip, sputtering when the hot liquid burned his tongue. "Ow," he said. "That wasn't nice."
They stayed up late into the morning hours, just talking, while Aileen and Thaddeus talked as well. Finally, around 3 in the morning, the two went to bed, only to wake up at 9.
They retired to the library for most of the day, reading books and talking quietly with each other. Aileen sat on the end of the table and watched, ruffling Harry's hair from time to time. They spent a quiet afternoon together, occasionally joined by the others of their group, before Seamus, Bridget, and Patrick showed up to drag them off to the grounds for a brisk game of tag.
They decided to skip dinner and instead returned to the common room, where they read more and went over their homework one more time at Hermione's insistence. The night dragged on, and more Ravens trickled in, complaining about some sort of terrible music coming from the Great Hall. They ignored it and went to bed.
The next morning, breakfast was alive with whispers. As Harry and Hermione sat down at their table, Hannah and Susan came over, brows creased with worry.
"What's wrong?" Hermione asked.
"Didn't you hear?" Susan asked. "There was some sort of attack last night."
"What?!" Hermione exclaimed, sitting up straighter. Harry mentally added this new occurrence to his list of odd happenings on Halloween.
"Yes. There was an attack on Ms. Norris-"
"Filch's CAT?" Harry asked in astonishment.
Hannah nodded solemnly. "There was a message too. 'The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir, beware.'"
A shiver ran down Aileen's spine as Harry and Hermione exchanged worried glances.
"There's more." Susan's voice was grim.
"What else could've possibly gone wrong?" Harry asked sarcastically.
"There were two people found right next to the body," Hannah said.
"Draco and Daphne."