Disclaimer: Harry Potter and friends belong to J.K. Rowling. I make no money from this story.

A/N: Any italics in the story are either flashback/thoughts or quoted directly from the books.

Please review, your feedback helps my writing improve and inspires me to write more content more often. ;)

Also – bold lettering is Parseltongue.

HLP 2 – Slytherin Secrets

Chapter 11:

Harriet hurried down the hallway toward the staircase. Her detention with Professor Snape had just finished and she had about three minutes to get back to the dorm before curfew began. She felt thankful that her uncle had gotten her detention switched from Lockhart to himself. She'd take scrubbing cauldrons without magic to being near the creepy defense professor any time.

Rip – tear – kill –

Harriet looked around frantically. She could hear the sibilant voice, but the hall was empty. She hurried down the hallway, glancing around frequently. It was because of this that she didn't see Justin Finch-Fletchley's body until she fell over it. She screamed, her voice echoing down the corridors, drawing attention from professors and portraits alike. Her eyes drawn to the prone boy, she totally missed the nearly transparent Nick floating next to the body.

"Miss Potter, what is the meaning of – Oh, My!" Professor McGonagall gasped. She was the first person on the scene as her office was at the foot of the staircase. She stared down at Harriet who was still sprawled across Justin's body. With a flick of her wand, a white wispy cat burst out of her wand and disappeared down the hallway.

"P-professor, did you hear the voice?" Harriet asked.

"What voice? Did you hear whoever did this?" McGonagall asked, her full attention on the young girl who was sitting on the floor, rubbing her bloody knee.

"I heard a voice, it was really creepy. It said…" she paused, looking up at Professor McGonagall, "it said rip – tear – kill. I didn't see anyone, but I started running…" she stopped, noticing the professor staring at her in horror.

"What's wrong?"

The thundering of feet cut off any response Professor McGonagall might have made. Albus Dumbledore came rushing up the staircase, followed by professors Snape and Lockheart.

"Goodness, Miss Potter, what are you doing here? It is past curfew," the headmaster asked.

"I found her here, lying across Mister Finch-Fletchley. Albus, she's a parselmouth," McGonagall whispered in a horror-filled voice.

"Miss Potter was supposed to be on her way back to her common room," Professor Snape drawled. "She has just finished scrubbing cauldrons for me."

"Interesting. Gilderoy, please take Mister Finch-Fletchley to the hospital wing," he gestured at the blonde haired man hovering behind them. He turned back to Harriet, "what did you see, Miss Potter?"

"I didn't see anything? I heard a voice. It was saying rip – tear – kill. I didn't know what to do, so I started running, and I fell over – over – over the body," Harriet said this last with a sob, still clutching her bleeding knee.

"Can you repeat what the voice said in English?"

"I-I thought I was speaking English."

"No, you repeated it in parseltongue – snake language. Concentrate carefully, see if you can notice the difference," Professor Dumbledore instructed.

Harriet thought about it for a minute. "I think it said: 'rip – tear – kill.' I didn't even realize it wasn't speaking English, sir."

"Hmm, so whatever it is, it speaks Parseltongue. Severus," Dumbledore turned to the potions master, "I want you to work on finding out what this creature is and where it is coming from."

"Very well, Albus," Professor Snape stepped up to Harriet and waved his wand over her knee, murmuring words under his breath, too low for Harriet to overhear them. Harriet felt the pain immediately leave her knee and watched in fascination as the blood retreated back into the wound and it sealed itself up. He turned back to Dumbledore. "If you are finished with Miss Potter, I recommend we send her back to her dorm. I'll take Nick to the infirmary."

"Yes, very good. You may go Miss Potter. You are not to speak of what happened here," Professor Dumbledore advised.

Harriet stood up and with a mumbled, "yes, sir," fled down the hall and up the moving staircase.

HLPHLPHLP

They could hear the whispering start at they entered the great hall. Harriet cringed at the feel of everyone's eyes focused on her.

"Why are they all staring at you?" Rhonda whispered.

"I don't know?" Harriet whispered back as they moved toward the Gryffindor table at the other end of the room.

"…parselmouth…" one voice whispered as they passed by.

"…heir of Slytherin…" another voice could be heard as they passed the Ravenclaw table.

Harriet cringed. Obviously someone had talked about what had happened. She looked up at the head table to see her uncle glaring at her with concern.

"What's going on?" Herman's voice whispered from her other side.

"I don't know?" was Rhonda's bewildered reply.

The three of them slid into empty places at the Gryffindor table. Harriet noticed how the rest of the table subtly shifted to give them a wide berth. She pulled out a small mirror and held it up to her face, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Nothing had changed. The burn scars were gone and the rest of her looked normal.

Trying to ignore the stares and whispers, Harriet pulled a bowl of scrambled eggs toward her and heaped her plate with them. She noticed her friends shooting her questioning looks as they did the same.

She looked up as Gryffin joined them. "What's going on?" he whispered to Herman.

"We aren't sure," he replied, shooting a look at Harriet. "Everyone's whispering about the heir of Slytherin and parseltongue."

"Parseltongue? Why would anyone be on about that?" Gryffin asked, shoveling a forkful of sausage into his mouth.

"Are you blind?" Rhonda hissed, "they are staring at Harriet. Someone seems to have started a rumor about her being the heir of Slytherin. Probably just Malfoy tryin' to make trouble again." She took a bite of toast heavily coated with marmalade.

"Ignore them, they're just idiots then," Gryffin stated, deliberately raising his voice so as to be heard by the eavesdroppers surrounding them. He took another bite of sausage, "anyone who knows Harriet knows better than to believe she would be attacking other students."

Harriet noticed several of the Gryffindors blush and turn their attention back to eating. She ate silently, cursing the fact that she couldn't say anything to her friends. She was rather startled therefore when she heard Professor Snape's voice behind her.

"Miss Potter, I wish to speak with you about your essay on dittany. Please come to my office as soon as breakfast is over."

Harriet nodded, "yes sir."

Herman leaned toward her once Snape had left, "what was that about? You essay was just fine. I proof-read it for you before you turned it in."

"I don't know. Maybe he's heard the rumors and wants to ask me about them. I'll meet you by the pitch afterward and we can talk about it," Harriet whispered back. She could feel the glares on her back from the students at the other three tables. "Will the three of you walk me to Professor Snape's office? I don't like some of the looks I'm getting."

"Of course we will," Gryffin said, leaning forward to squeeze her hand. He began shoveling food into his mouth at a rapid rate and Harriet winced, hoping he didn't choke. She glanced over at Rhonda and raised her eyebrows.

"Blimey, Rhonda, are you really going to eat all of that?" Her best friend's plate was piled high with bangers and eggs.

"Course I am," Rhonda replied, taking another bite of food, "I'm a growing girl after all."

"You might want to start running with me in the morning then, to balance it out. Cousin Tonks says that now is when we have to take the most care of our bodies," Harriet offered, hoping her friend would take her up on the suggestion.

"No way, I have no intention of getting up at six o'clock every morning. How you do it every day is beyond my ken," Rhonda hissed back. Harriet shrugged and turned back to eating.

"I'll go with you," Gryff offered, "if you don't mind the company that is."

"Me too, Cassie said I should start exercising more," Herman put in.

Rhonda sighed and shot glares at her brother and their friend, "I'll try too, but only twice a week to start," she surrendered with a huff. Harriet smiled and hugged her, "You are the best, Ronnie."

"Eew. Do ya have to call me that?" Rhonda groaned. That was about as bad as the nicknames the twins were always coming up with for her.

HLPHLPHLP

"Well, well, well, if it isn't the Mudblood, the Blood Traitors and the Parselmouth?" the sneering face of Draco Malfoy emerged from around the corner, followed closely by his two bodyguards. "How does it feel to be a pariah?"

"Bugger off, Malfoy," Herman snarled, clenching his fist.

Harriet sighed. She really hated Malfoy and his holier-than-thou attitude.

"Go stick your head in the toilet and flush it, Malfoy," she sneered back, forcibly shoving past him. She was in no mood to deal with his harassment. She knew if she wasn't at her uncle's office soon, he'd come looking for her and she really didn't want a detention for fighting in the halls. She snarled when he grabbed her arm as she tried to shove past. She hadn't even had a second to draw her wand when she heard, "Petrificus Totalus," "Densuago," and "Unguiculus Jelixio,*" shouted from behind her. Crabbe turned stiff as a board and fell over, Goyle dropped his wand and put his hands over his mouth as his teeth began growing at an alarming rate, and Malfoy's fingers turned to jelly. The three of them turned and ran, screaming for Professor Snape.

"Merlin's balls, now we are all going to get detention," she moaned. They hurried toward Professor Snape's office, oblivious of the disillusioned form smirking after them from behind a suit of armor. When the four of them had turned the corner, Severus Snape stepped out of his hiding place and banished the spell hiding his presence. He was going to have to speak to his ward about her language, but he was secretly pleased at how quickly her friends had defended her. He made a mental note to speak to his erstwhile godson. He knew the boy was the mastermind behind the incident with the lead. Why he'd ever allowed Narcissa to convince him to be the boy's godfather when he loathed her husband so much, he didn't know.

He strode into the classroom only to be confronted by Draco Malfoy and his goons.

"Professor, we were just attacked in the hall by Potter, Granger and the Weasleys," Draco whined. His goons nodded their heads in agreement.

"I suppose you didn't do anything to provoke them?" Snape asked with a sneer.

"Of course not, godfather," Draco replied, oblivious to the undertones in his head's voice.

"Of course not, take Mister Goyle to the hospital wing. I will speak with Miss Potter and her friends." He waited until they were almost at the door. "Oh, and Draco, ten points from Slytherin for using the term 'Mudblood,'" he bit back a laugh as his godson blanched and fled the room.

It was only moments later that Harriet slipped into the room nervously. Severus cast a spell on the door that would allow it to remain open, but would prevent eavesdropping. People could see who was in the room, but could not overhear anything and no devices could circumvent it.

"Sit," he gestured to the chair across from his desk.

"Sir, I didn't tell anyone, not even Rhonda and Herman," Harriet blurted out.

"I know. The portraits are partly to blame, but so are some loud mouth teachers who I won't name. I want you to be very careful. The last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened, a student died. I have my suspicions about what the creature is, but until I know for sure, keep a mirror on hand at all times, and be certain your friends do the same," he advised. He sat down at his desk and picked up a piece of parchment, pretending to peruse it.

"What do you think it is?" Harriet enquired.

"The symptoms point to a basilisk. How Albus hasn't figured it out, I don't know, but be careful, a basilisk is very dangerous. If you hear parseltongue again, or encounter the snake, I want you to run the other way," he handed her the parchment and a book. "I have an extra credit assignment for you and your friends. I want you to research the history of the chamber for me. We need to find the entrance to the chamber and silence this monster once and for all. Don't tell your friends I gave you this assignment, find some way to suggest it on your own. You need to come see me on Friday nights and update me on your progress. Be here at seven. If anyone asks, you are taking remedial potions."

"Yes, sir," Harriet rolled up the parchment and slipped it into her robes. She stood up to leave when he called her back again.

He was holding a thin, well-worn book. "Give this to your friend Herman, tell him I said he can keep it. It is payment for helping me when you were ill. And Harriet, be careful," he advised.

Harriet nodded, looking at the book. A snicker escaping when she read the title: The Arte of Occlumency by S. Prince. She laughed as she exited the room.