Chapter Eleven: Crystal Intentions
20 November, 1994
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
"All you had to do was ask," said the voice, sounding far away yet close by all at once. "I've been waiting a long time to meet you, Harry Potter."
"Oh yeah, that's not too creepy," whispered Ron, his wand drawn and pointing at the opening to the pipe.
"Of course it's creepy, Mr. Weasley," called the voice again. "It's a mystrioys voice talking to you from the depths of an old sewer pipe. Did you expect it to be anything else?"
"Umm, did the creepy voice just call me by name?" asked Ron, getting a nod of agreement from everyone.
There was a ghostly giggle from the pipe, it sounded feminine though it was hard to tell, before it spoke again. "Come on down, I mean no harm to any of you and we have much to talk about."
"It could be a trap," growled Neville, holding two throwing knives in his hands.
"Yes, it could," agreed the voice, again giggling. "Lucky for you, it's not. I give you my solemn promise, no harm will come to you down here."
"Next it's going to tell us there are balloons and we'll all float down there," muttered Kara, not looking happy about this turn of events.
The Weasley boys, Neville, and even Luna, looked at Kara as if she was insane, but Harry and Hermione got the reference. Harry just sighed, standing up a bit straighter, before he walked over to the opening to the large pipe and jumping down into it. Neville swore under his breath, but followed a moment later with the others right behind them. It seemed they slid down for miles before reaching the bottom of the pipe and finding themselves in a small room with the skeletons of countless small, and not so small, animals.
"Yep, keeping the whole creepy vibe going nicely," muttered Fred.
"You've got that right, brother," agreed George as Luna created a large lantern with her ring.
The green light from Luna's lantern revealed the room to be circular countless smaller pipes opening up into it. It also reeked of death and decay, not to mention stale water and other unmentionable things. On the side of the room farthest from the pipe they had just slid down was an opening in the wall, looking as if it had been carved from the solid rock. Luna created another lantern and sent it floating ahead of them to light the way. With Harry in the lead, they followed after the lantern.
"Careful here," rasped Neville, looking around the tunnel. "These walls are extremely unstable, so try not to do anything stupid."
Everyone nodded, not wanting to bring the tunnel down on their heads. Luna quickly solved the problem by creating large supporting trusses every few feet along the tunnel. Making their way carefully down the center of the tunnel they soon found a gigantic snake skin that they had to step carefully around. Harry heard the Weasley boys joking that they could glut the market on snake skin purses with the shed skin, but the jokes fell flat as no one could bring themselves to laugh, not with what they feared to find at the end of the tunnel. Soon they were standing in front of a massive stone door with a snake motif, wondering how to open it. Their pondering was for nothing as the door slowly opened on its own, revealing a brightly lit chamber beyond.
Harry was the first in the room, scanning it with his eyes he noticed immediately that the void in his vision was located directly at the feet of a large stone statue of an old man. The corpse of a large dead snake lay to the side and looked as if its head had exploded, making Harry wonder what could have done that to such a massive creature. Filing that question away for the moment, Harry approached the void, turning off his ability to see magic, and realized that a figure was standing just in front of where the void was located.
The translucent figure was that of a woman, obviously a ghost, who looked to be fairly young and pretty, though she carried a hint of sadness about her. "Welcome to the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter. I wish we could have met under better circumstances, but we must all take what existence gives us and learn to deal with it as best we can."
"Lady Helena!" squealed Luna as she kept forward and stood smiling right in front of the ghostly figure. "I haven't seen you in so long! Guys, this is the Lady Helena Ravenclaw, better known as the Grey Lady and as the house ghost of Ravenclaw. Where have you been all this time, Lady Ravenclaw?"
"Ah, little Luna, my how you've grown over the years," replied the woman with a smile, reaching out a transparent hand to cup Luna's cheek. "Sadly, my presence was required here to protect the school and all the children within. Even now I stand guard over the last traces of a most foul relic of the past."
The Grey Lady gestured to the side where a partially destroyed book lay upon the floor. "A rather foolish young man, charming though he may have been, used magic most foul to bind a portion of his eternal soul within that book. Through deceit and trickery he used an innocent to help him regain physical form."
"Ginny," murmured Ron, looking at the book with absolute loathing.
The Grey Lady nodded her head, a silver tear running down her cheek. "Just so, Mr. Weasley. She fought most valiantly to resist his will once she understood what was to happen, but by then it was too late. Ginerva Weasley, a true champion of the Light, did trade her last moments of life to lay waste to the foul monster and his beast. Tom Riddle, for that was the fiends mortal name, was not nearly as strong as he thought and Ginerva resisted him as best she could."
The three Weasley boys were crying now, listening as their final hope their sister still lived was in vain. "Your sister fought with the only weapon she still had, her love for her family and the desire to protect them. I tell you truthfully that she nearly won her battle, till Tom called forth the beast he had used to attack and kill in the past, a basilisk."
Gesturing to the rotting carcass of the great snake, Lady Helena smiled sadly. "The beast came forth and Ginerva understood she had little chance against the foul creature. With the last dregs of her strength she cast Tom's soul reliquary into the beast's mouth, where it did bite down upon it and destroy the abomination. Tom had only moments to live, but his last order before he faded from the mortal plane was for the foul beast to kill your sister. Even as the beast looked into her eyes and the life fled from her body, Ginerva did not show fear and Godric's sword appeared in her hand. As the beast lunged to devour her, it failed to see the very weapon of its destruction clasped within her petrified hand. The blade, good Goblin crafted steel, did pierce the beast's mouth and seek out its brain, killing it before it realized the danger."
"A true Gryffindor if ever there was one," stated Neville, bowing his head in a show of respect.
"That's our sister," agreed Fred with a smile, even as he cried for the loss of his little sister.
"That she was," Helena also agreed, smiling sadly as she finally stepped aside to allow the group to see the area behind her. "As such, Hogwarts decided a cold stone floor was not a fitting resting place for one so brave."
The group could now see a small crystal tomb laying on the floor behind where the Grey Lady had been standing. It was just large enough to hold the small figure inside, a red haired little girl wearing Gryffindor robes. Laying atop the tomb was Gryffindor's sword, still covered in the dried blood of the basilisk. No one really cared about the sword, especially not the Weasley boys as they rushed forward to kneel alongside their sister's tomb. Harry and the others stepped away to give the three young men time alone, but Helena followed them as they did. Gesturing for Harry and Kara to follow her, the Grey Lady led them to where the remnants of the old book lay.
"I have heard much of you over the years, from both the students that have passed through these halls and the Headmaster himself, though he knows it not," she said with a smile. "The other spirits have also brought news to me of your adventures since your arrival here some few days ago. Nicholas himself came not an hour past and told me you had dispatched of another of Tom's foul creations, my mother's diadem, so I ask you now to do the same again. Even now the foul magics of yon book do try and befoul the very ground upon which it lays. I have remained here to fight the taint, but would be free again if you would but assist me. I ask that you destroy it and free this place from the darkness?"
"It would be my pleasure," Harry assured her, nodding to Kara just before they both unleashed their heat vision upon the remains of the book and then the carcass of the basilisk.
The moment the two foul objects where no more you could almost feel the chill in the room begin to fade. It was still a dirty and damp room, but now there seemed to be a trace of fresh air in the room. Helena nodded in thanks, then turned away and moved over to where the three Weasleys were now standing. Harry and Kara, now holding hands as they followed, motioned for the others to join them.
"I tell you now that Ginerva loved you all so much that she nearly chose to remain upon the mortal plane, that she might see you all again," the Grey Lady said with a frown. "I did dissuade her, not out of any malice towards your good family, but out of love for her. She did earn her rest, most assuredly, and I did tell her that to remain would be a hardship greater than she had already endured. Finally, she did agree with me, but begged I pass on a final message to you all."
The three boys, tears still streaming from their eyes, looked intently at her as she passed on their sister's last words to their family. "She asked that I tell you all how much she loved you, each and every one of you. It was her wish that you all know she would see you all again one day, though it was her hope that you not join her too soon as that would deny you long and happy lives. With that said, she did pass into that Great Beyond that I myself have never known. I must admit, I did regret my own choice to remain when I saw her leave."
Any further discussion was cut off when their mirrors started vibrating and Sirius' voice started calling Harry. "Harry, answer me! Minnie says the old bastard is on his way back. Hope you found what you're looking for because time is definitely up. Get out of there now!"
"Peeves!" barked the Grey Lady and not a moment later a oddly colorful spirit appeared before her.
"Peevesy hears the little miss bellow," grunted the odd creature. "What does the weepy brat want Peeves for?"
"Peeves, I call upon you to uphold your duty to the castle this night," stated Helena, glaring at the odd spirit floating before her. "These people must be able to leave without delay or discovery. To that end you must cause a distraction on the far side of the castle to draw the attention of the Headmaster, lest he interfere where he is not wanted nor needed."
"A prank you say?" asked Peeves with a mad grin. "On the Headsy? Too easy, but I'll do it."
Without another word the errant spirit was gone, leaving Helena to advise them on their escape. "The moment the Headmaster is distracted, make haste back to your own places of refuge. Ginerva's resting place should be taken with you, as Hogwarts will never allow another to gain entrance to this chamber once you leave."
"I'll take her to the Embassy," Harry stated with a sad smile to his new friends. "You get back to your dorms and tomorrow we can make arrangements for her final return home."
The three Weasley boys looked less than happy about leaving their sister's body with strangers, but knew it was the safest option. "Take care of her, Potter!" ordered Ron before he and his brother's vanished in a burst of speed. Neville, Luna, and Hermione were the next to leave as they needed to only return to their dorms to find safety. As for Harry and Kara, they waited until the Grey Lady said it was safe, then Harry picked up the crystal coffin and rested it on his shoulder. Using every bit of the speed at his disposal, Harry carried his precious cargo up the pipe and out the window of the bathroom which Kara opened for him. In moments they were back at the Embassy and Harry ordered the Veela guards to stand vigil over the coffin.
"She was a hero," he stated, resting a hand on the coffin and looking down at the peaceful face of the dead girl. "Ginerva Weasley gave up her life to protect us all, she deserves our respect and gratitude."
"It will be done," chorused the Veela guards, with four of them now standing guard at the corners of the coffin.
Their adventure now over, for better or worse, Harry and Kara made their way up to their room. Undressing and crawling into bed, they finally let their emotions overcome them as they cried in each other's arms. For all their powers, they were still young and the knowledge that a girl even younger than them had laid her life down to save the life of her friends and family was more than they could deal with at the moment. Harry could not help asking himself if he would have the courage to do the same. Kara was asking herself much the same, though she also cried for how unfair it was that a girl younger than herself had died. It was an emotional night for the two and by the time sleep claimed them it was quite late.
Morning found them all far to early, with the Weasley boys asking permission to enter the Embassy shortly after the break of dawn. Harry had approved and soon the three boys were standing next to their sister's coffin once more with tears in their eyes. Harry and Kara filled Sirius and the others in on what had happened before he rushed off to contact Arthur and Molly Weasley. As much as they wanted to openly admit that Ginny's body had been recovered, they could not do so until after Dumbledore and Voldemort were no longer a threat. Ron had argued against that, but when he was made to understand that tipping the enemy off before they were ready would just cause more conflict and possibly even deaths.
"A small service to see her to her final rest," Sirius told them as they prepared to sneak the coffin off school grounds. "Arthur will meet you in Hogsmeade and Harry will take your sister over the wards to prevent Dumbledore from getting involved. From there your father will take her home while he and your mother contact your brothers. Your father wanted me to warn you, do not speak of this to your brother Percy. Arthur is afraid Percy will try and tell someone at the Ministry which would just cause us problems."
"Percy always has been a bit of a prat," agreed George with a frown.
Fred nodded, adding, "He would sell out everyone in the family if he thought there was a promotion and raise involved."
The rest of the day was spent making arrangements for the upcoming first task and also listening to the Weasley boys occasionally telling stories about their sister. Harry found he rather liked the three boys, though Kara found Ron's constant eating to be a little unnerving. Eventually, once the sun had set, their plan was set in motion. Saying a final farewell to their sister, the Weasley boys watched as Harry gently carried Ginny's coffin out of the Embassy, then took to the air with her. Within minutes he had delivered his cargo to Arthur Weasley. After a tearful thank you from the man, Harry made his way back to Hogwarts.
21 November, 1994
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Albus Dumbledore was pulling his beard out. So far he had been unable to get anywhere near Harry Potter despite his best attempts at corning the boy outside his little hideaway. All of his wards were removed within minutes of him placing them and the Veela Guardians refused to let him close enough to the Embassy that he could place the wards directly on it. Not that he thought that would work considering the numerous protective spells on the building already. No, he was forced to use unanchored wards and the groundskeeper to notify him when Harry was outside.
That presented another problem, Harry was never alone when he left the Embassy. Whether it be the young Miss Black, his godfather, a group of Veela Guardians, or assorted other hinderances, Harry was never alone. The one time he had managed to corner Harry alone, the first time he placed the wards around the Embassy, Harry had just ignored him. Imagine! Ignoring him! Albus Dumbledore! It just wasn't done, but yet Harry had done it and no matter what Albus had tried, the boy would not speak to him other than to tell him he would not speak to him. That just would not do, not if Albus was to lead the boy to his destiny!
Another complication was Kara Black. Albus was sorry to say that the girl was going to have to die, soon, if he was to ever get Harry back on the proper path. Yes, it was very sad that the girl must die, but her death was going to be the event that would crush Harry's spirit and make him willing to die just so he could rejoin his lost 'love.' Then, once Harry and the Horcrux he contained was dead, Albus could step in and crush Tom Riddle and save the world, again. Of course, or so he told himself, he was not doing this for the fame or the power defeating Tom would garner him, that was just a bonus. Albus considered it a reward for all his sacrifices, such as not being able to trust anyone with all his knowledge about how to defeat Tom. Yes, the girl would have to die, but the rewards for the rest of the world would be tremendous.
With that in mind, Albus looked at the rune work in front of him. The rune configuration would be applied to the spectator stands late tonight, long after everyone in the castle was asleep. Once the fans were present and the Black girl was seated, Albus would activate the runes in her seating section. The runes would prevent the girl from leaving after the dragon Harry was facing went berserk, thanks to another rune cluster that Albus had hidden under the stadium floor. Once the dragon went insane, Albus would erect a shield around Harry to keep him safe, then let the dragon destroy the stands where the girl was sitting. Yes, the runes would also trap around twenty other people at random, just to insure no one suspected Black's daughter had been the target all along, but their deaths were noble sacrifices. He hated to have to be the one to pick the victims, hence the reason he had designed the runes to randomly activate unless they came into contact with Black's spawn. It had taken a great deal of work, runic arrays were never his forte, but he was confident that his design would do what was required.
"I know," whispered Dumbledore, looking over at the empty phoenix perch in his office, "it is a terrible sacrifice I must make, letting all those people die, but it must be done if the rest of the world is to live."
Albus sighed, exiting his office and heading towards the empty stadium to begin his work. It was only after the door to his office was close that the silently screaming portraits hanging on the walls of the Headmaster's office finally looked over at the empty perch. Fawkes had not been seen in years, not since Dumbledore had started his crusade to take Harry Potter from his godfather. That was the last straw for the noble bird and it had vanished shortly after Dumbledore started plotting to kill Sirius to get Harry back. That was the same time Dumbledore had silenced all the portraits in his office, stating that they had no right to try and council him as he knew what had to be done for the Greater Good.
24 November, 1994
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Harry was standing with Kara as they watched the crowd arrive to watch the first task. Over the last few days things had been rather quiet, save for the wailing of Molly Weasley when Harry had delivered the body of her daughter. It was heart wrenching to watch the proud looking woman as she collapsed on top of her only daughter's coffin, beating on the clear crystal as if by breaking it she could bring the girl back to life. Arthur Weasley, the patriarch of the Weasley family, had thanked Harry for his service to his family, but it was easy to see he was only just barely keeping his own sorrow from breaking free.
The following morning the Weasley boys still attending Hogwarts had been summoned home due to a "family emergency." Dumbledore had been reluctant to let the boys leave the school, but the sound of Molly Weasley screaming at the Headmaster in his office had run across the entire Hogwarts ground's. Needless to say, Molly left with her three sons within the hour, promising they would return by lunch the following morning. Harry watched them walk down to the main gates of the school, each of them giving him a solemn nod as they passed him, the only visible sign they could give him without revealing too much to anyone watching them.
Sirius and Remus had left that morning as well, both had been invited to attend the small service for Ginny Weasley, with Sirius casting a Fidelius Charm over the grave once the ceremony was complete. While that was happening, Harry and Kara remained visible back at Hogwarts, trying to distract the Headmaster in hopes that he would not leave to check on the Weasley family. Harry had felt it was a fair trade, his annoyance with the Headmaster continually trying to follow him around, for a family's ability to lay their daughter to rest. Still, if that old man jumped out of nowhere one more time and tried to convince Harry to enroll in Hogwarts, he was pretty sure he was going to beat the old man senseless.
Near nightfall Sirius and Remus had returned to the embassy, though Sirius was barely awake when they did. Remus explained that the Fidelius was a very complicated charm that required a good deal of magical power to cast it properly. Sirius was only barely powerful enough to cast the charm, making Arthur the secret keeper for the family, and once done he had needed several hours sleep just to make it back to the embassy to checkup on Harry and Kara. The two teens tried to convince him to head off to bed immediately, but Sirius refused and sat down to eat with them where he promptly fell asleep and had to be carried up to his room.
The 23rd of November was mostly been spent indoors cuddling with Kara as Harry had not wanted to think too much about the next day. That didn't mean they hadn't talked about it, in fact Remus and Sirius had done little else. Neville had sent a note that morning telling Harry the details of the first task, which honestly had Harry wondering if Dumbledore would rather see him dead than free. Sirius immediately became enraged, wanting to kill Dumbledore for agreeing to such an insane idea, but Kara talked him down enough so that he only paced around like a madman. Remus on the other hand drank tea and smoked cigarettes like a chimney, sometimes lighting two at once before realizing what he had done. Angelique and Hippolyta had arrived around lunch time and began trying to distract Sirius and Remus, though with widely different methods. Angelique used the age old methods of sexual innuendo and flirting to keep Sirius distracted. Hippolyta on the other hand discussed ancient history with Remus, which seemed to work better than Angelique's method if the grin on Remus' face was anything to go by. All in all, even with the following day's task ahead of them, the group found a measure of peace as they waited for what was to come.
Last night Kara had clung to Harry almost desperately, as if the tighter she held him the safer he would be during the task. At one point they had come very close to crossing that last line between childhood and adulthood, but at the last moment they both pulled back, not wanting their first time to be an act of desperation rather than love. That didn't mean the two teens had gone to sleep frustrated. In fact his wakeup call that morning still had him blushing as he remembered it, which did a wonderful job of keeping his nerves from overwhelming him. However reality is a cruel mistress and Harry knew that in just a short amount of time he would be facing a beast out of legend.
The dragon awaited him.
24 November, 1994
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Albus Dumbledore watched as the last of the crowd took their seats. For a moment he felt guilty as he watched the large number of students and adults looking around because he knew that by the end of the day some of them would be dead. It was a cruel fate to be the only one capable of making the hard decisions such as this, but no act was too terrible to commit if it insured Harry Potter was brought under his control. Yes, the boy needed to be prepared for his destiny and the only means by which that could be accomplished was with the death of Black's adopted daughter. Her death would make the boy realize he needed Dumbledore's guidance, but would also leave him in a state of mind where he would willingly die when the time came.
"Yes, a sad truth," Dumbledore muttered to himself as he walked up the stairs to the Judge's box, "but sacrifices must be made if the Greater Good is to be accomplished."
As the Headmaster took his seat, seeing Kara Black sitting in the front row center of the stadium, he activated the runes he had carved on the seats. If he noticed that every rune cluster activated and not just a random few and the ones on Kara's seat, he didn't show it. In fact, no one seemed to notice they could no longer stand up, which was part of what the runes were designed to do, make everyone think they should remain seated no matter what. No one had a clue they were now trapped in their seats, nor the danger they were in because the Headmaster had weakened the protective wards between the stadium and the arena floor where the contestants would face the dragons.
It was a nightmare preparing to unfold.
AN: Yes, I'm back. I could give you a long and drawn out excuse for the long absence, but truth be told it's no concern of yours.
I will continue to post chapters and have no intention of abandoning this story any time soon.
Ginny was always going to end up being killed in the Chamber, it was in my original outline for the story. However, there were four possible paths she could still take even being dead, with being straight up dead being one of them. Ultimately her fate was determined by a coin toss and you'll just have to wait and see if there is more to her story or not.
We still have one hero to reveal.
Once again, these chapters are not beta'd.