Year 2 – The Chamber of Secrets

Chapter 1 – Party at the Malfoys'

Chapter Summary: Harry is having a wonderful summer so far; he is invited to Malfoy Manor to attend Draco's 'official' birthday party, and learns something interesting while he's there.

Author: Khodexus

Rated T: For occasional graphic concepts and atmosphere. No cussing, no adult situations, no violence.

Disclaimer: I do not own any rights for the worlds or characters in Harry Potter. Those rights are owned by Scholastic Publishing Inc and J.K. Rowling. I do own the rights to my original characters depicted here, in as far as they differ from the worlds created by J.K. Rowling.

Note: This is the sequel to Harry Potter and the Dragon's Heir, Year 1 – The Philosopher's Stone. It is highly recommended you read that story first.

How am I going to convince Uncle Vernon to let me visit the Malfoys' this summer? Harry wondered. Harry hated living with his relatives, the Dursleys. Never more so than now that he'd returned from a whole wondrous year at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The thing was, he lived with his uncle Vernon, aunt Petunia, and his cousin Dudley, at number four Privet Drive because his real parents were dead. His parents were like him, in that Harry was a wizard. Oh, the Dursleys wanted to have nothing to do with magic, and even though his aunt Petunia was his late mother's sister they couldn't have been more dissimilar.

Petunia was a bony woman with a long face and neck, perfect for peering over fences or hedges, a past-time she was very fond of. Her husband, Vernon, was a large man with a thick mustache and small eyes. He'd locked all of Harry's school things – the things he used at Hogwarts learning magic – in the cupboard the moment he'd arrived home at the end of June. He'd initially padlocked his owl's cage too, but when Harry explained that if he didn't reply to the letters he received from his friends – wizards used owls to deliver mail – that they would worry about him, and might show up to find out what was wrong. Vernon obviously didn't want witches or wizards visiting his very normal home, and reluctantly removed the lock on Harry's promise not to send her out during daylight hours when she might be seen.

His cousin Dudley, at least, was somewhat manageable. Dudley was a large boy, who used his size to intimidate other kids, including Harry. But all Harry had to do was mumble gibberish words within his cousin's earshot, and it sent the boy scurrying for cover. None of his relatives knew that Harry wasn't allowed to do real magic outside of his school during the holidays, and they were terrified that they might wake up as hamsters or something, if they were too out of line. For the most part, Harry went along with what they wanted, but it was fun now and then to torment Dudley with the thought of being transfigured or charmed, he'd suffered plenty of torment at Dudley's hands over the years, afterall.

It had been almost a month since he'd returned to Privet Drive, and life was pretty normal in his relative's house. And after his fantastic year at Hogwarts, normal was exceptionally boring. Dudley's birthday had come and gone; one of the most important occasions for Dudley and his parents, but frankly Harry could care less about that. They'd had a big breakfast, and Dudley, who's girth already bulged past the sides of his chair, was wolfing down all the ice cream and bacon he could fit into his mouth.

There'd been a dinner party his uncle had thrown for a man at work, and Harry had spent the whole evening in his room "pretending he didn't exist".

But today was different. He'd heard the familiar flutter of wings, and looked up in time to catch a fancy black envelope at the kitchen table during breakfast as it was dropped from a friendly eagle owl. The bird swooped back out the window, and Harry had to retreat to his room to open his letter.

"It's bad enough you have those things terrorizing the neighborhood every night!" he heard Vernon growl behind him, "Can't they send letters through the normal post, or through some other less visible means?! I thought I told you not to receive letters during the day?" Harry recalled clearly that Vernon had told him not to send letters, but hadn't mentioned receiving them, but Harry didn't feel it was prudent to mention that just then.

So here Harry was, re-reading the letter, penned by his best friend in the whole world, Draco Malfoy, and contemplating what he could do to get his guardians to allow him to leave for most the rest of the summer. The letter read:

Dear Harry,

Father has granted permission for you to visit us at our estate starting the twenty fourth of July. We have made all the necessary arrangements and await only your reply. I'm very much looking forwards to practicing quidditch with you, and spending time with you, and introducing you to more of my friends. Not to mention Mother and Father are hosting a late birthday party for me since we were in the hospital wing at school during my real birthday.

Father and Mother send their regards.

Your friend,

Draco Malfoy

Harry was very pleased, but figured it'd be best to wait a little to inform his aunt and uncle. He thought about his problem for the better part of a half an hour before the solution hit him. He realized quite suddenly, and with an irresistible mischievous grin, that he could always reply back that he'd of course come, and then explain to the Dursleys that it was already decided. Then they wouldn't be able to stop him from going… he hoped.

So he sat at his desk to write a letter on a blank sheet of paper he tore from a notebook, and sent it off that evening with his snowy owl Hedwig, to inform the Malfoys of his decision.

"You what?!" Vernon went quite red in the face when Harry told him he was going to stay with the Malfoys for a few weeks. "I told you not to send that bird out at all hours."

"I had to reply. The Malfoys are real big on manners, and you wouldn't want to offend a rich and influential family like theirs." Harry was kind of 'playing it up' for his uncle's benefit, but it seemed to have the desired result.

"How rich can they be? If they were really that rich and famous, we would know about it, now wouldn't we? Even if they are… that sort."

"You saw them at the station last month." Harry assured them. "The tall man in the black coat with blonde hair down to here?" Harry held his hand about level with his t-shirt collar.

"They did look well to do, even if they were a bit oddly dressed." Petunia agreed, thinking about it and remembering the affluent family they'd seen, who stood out even among the other magic people picking up the students departing the train from Hogwarts. Harry personally thought that the Malfoys would not take it well if they heard anyone refer to them as 'oddly dressed'. Not that he really wanted to see what Lucius or Narcissa would do to someone who truly offended them.

"All right, fine!" Vernon agreed, still angry but at least giving Harry what he wanted. "But they better not show up here doing anything funny, and don't let the neighbors see them if you know what's good for you."

"I'll try." Harry wondered if he'd have any say in the matter of how the Malfoy's showed up.

"Try isn't good enough!" Vernon scowled. "I swear I'll lock you in the cupboard for a month if you embarrass us." Harry believed him, and quickly nodded and did his best to reassure them both that he'd do everything he could.

He could hardly wait. He hated it here with the Dursleys, and if he could have had his way he would have spent the whole summer with the Malfoys. Harry made himself scarce the rest of the day, not wanting to give Vernon cause to change his mind. Even one more day felt like too long to stay here now with a visit to the Malfoys' only a few days away.

Harry was kept quite busy during the days that followed. Petunia got it into her head that if Harry was going to be away for the rest of the summer, that he needed to get all of his chores done ahead of time. Not only that, but she said he ought to earn his vacation, not just go gallivanting off and leave all his responsibilities at home – as if Dudley had ever earned any of his vacations. Harry weeded the garden, washed dishes, cleaned the windows, mowed the lawn, washed the car, swept the attic, tidied Dudley's room, and any other chores his aunt and uncle could think up for him. Harry fell asleep each night exhausted, but woke up very excited on Thursday, the day the Malfoys were due to pick him up.

"It's so… small." Harry heard Draco's voice drift through his bedroom window, and he quickly sprang to his feet and rushed downstairs. The Malfoys had written back that they'd pick up Harry and his things early that morning. Harry was glad that they'd specified 'his things' or he wasn't sure Vernon would have let him pull them out of the cupboard under the stairs. As it was they had been stacked neatly in his room only fifteen minutes before.

Harry opened the door and was delighted to note that they were wearing normal clothes. Or at least far more normal than they usually wore. "Good morning, Harry." Lucius drawled, removing his hat, and standing just outside on the mat.

"Good morning, Mr. Malfoy. Good morning Mrs. Malfoy. And Good morning Draco." Harry replied, smiling at them all.

"Are you going to invite us in?" Narcissa asked, and Harry was very aware of his aunt and uncle watching him sternly from just out of sight of the doorway.

He glanced back briefly, and saw Vernon shake his head emphatically, while Petunia very desperately nodded for him to proceed. His uncle usually had his way with this sort of thing, but Harry couldn't bring himself to say no to Narcissa Malfoy. "Come on inside." He said, standing back from the door, and waving his friends in.

Lucius removed his gloves as he passed through the doorway, holding them lightly in one hand along with his black and silver cane. "What a quaint little cottage." He said, looking around.

"Very quaint." Narcissa agreed. "It looks very… comfortable."

Their manners were impeccable, but Harry, who knew them a little, if perhaps not extremely well yet, could tell that Lucius was finding this extremely distasteful. Not so much the house as Harry's relatives. He remembered a bit too late that Lucius was not fond of muggles – what wizards called those with no knowledge of magic. He didn't even feel that muggle born witches and wizards should be given the same opportunities as those who had grown up with wizarding traditions.

"It's wonderful to meet Harry's friend, and his family." Petunia said, coming forward to shake Lucius' hand, though she looked every bit as strained as he did, perhaps realizing that she didn't know Draco's name.

"Yes, quite wonderful." Vernon was a bit pink in the face, but he put on his best manners like the rest of them.

"Would you like to see my room?" Harry asked Draco, and the blonde boy heartily agreed. Together they went upstairs, passing by Dudley who peered at them through the crack of his door.

"Oh, you must be Dudley!" Draco paused, grinning, and pushed his way uninvited into Dudley's room.

"Draco!" Harry hissed, but his friend ignored him. The blonde boy looked all around the room, taking in all of Dudley's things as the round boy backed up nervously.

However, Dudley was used to getting his way, and he was also used to being bigger and stronger than other children. So when Draco picked up one of his prize computer games, he worked up what little courage he possessed, and whined, "Don't touch my…" But Draco's wand was in his hand in a flash, and pointed straight at Dudley's face. Harry's cousin squeaked, and dove for cover under the bed, though he discovered rapidly that he couldn't fit.

Draco just laughed. "You're lucky I promised Harry I wouldn't curse you, I've heard you don't treat him very nicely." He sneered.

"Draco, that's enough." Harry repeated.

"It's alright; I just wanted to make sure he knew I didn't appreciate his bullying. What's this thing for, anyways?"

Harry had to glance at it before he could answer, "It's a game for Dudley's computer." He told him. "I think he's really into the Wing Commander series."

Draco opened the box and looked at the floppy disks inside. "How do you play?" He asked.

"You have to put the disks in the computer, and you play it on the computer."

Harry spent a few minutes trying to explain computers to Draco, before Lucius called up the stairs for them to come down.

"Let me just get my things." Harry told Draco, starting towards his room.

"Don't worry, I'm sure Dobby has gotten them by now, let's just…" There was a thump on the wall between Harry and Dudley's room, and Harry shared a glance with Draco before rushing to investigate.

"…bad, bad Dobby!" the Malfoy's house elf screeched when they entered the room, slamming his head repeatedly into the wall next to Harry's bed. His things were mostly still stacked on the floor in front of his closet, with Hedwig's cage right on top.

Dobby was a pathetic looking creature. A small imp of a house elf with long pointed ears and lamp-like eyes. He seemed to always wear a sack or pillow case, with rips for his arms and legs.

"Why didn't you get his things in the coach already?!" Draco asked, scowling at the house elf.

"Dobby was very bad. Dobby was watching Master Harry and Master Draco, and he forgot to take care of Master Harry's things right away."

"Well get to it, you can punish yourself more later." Draco told him.

"Please stop." Harry added. "You don't have to punish yourself, its fine. I can take my things down myself. I don't mind."

"No, no, no! Dobby could not let wonderful gracious Harry Potter do that for him. Dobby will have to just shut his ears in the oven door later." He leapt up on top of Harry's trunk, and took hold of Hedwig's cage.

"No, please, really it's fine!" Harry assured him. But the house elf snapped his fingers and all of Harry's things disappeared from the room.

Harry sighed. "Is he like that all the time?"

"He seems to get a lot more forgetful and jittery when you're around actually." Draco told him, as they went down the stairs together.

Vernon took Harry by the shoulder and leaned in close to whisper in his face, "You better not have been up to anything abnormal up there."

"Nothing at all." Harry said back, before following the Malfoys out the door.

He was a little confused at first when he saw nothing waiting for them on the street, but Narcissa was quick to explain. "Law says we have to be very discreet about using any sort of magic around muggles. So our coach is presently disillusioned."

"Ah okay." Harry looked around to make sure no one was watching as they approached a spot on the curb, then Lucius opened the door of the coach with a gesture of his cane. "What if someone saw us getting in?" Harry asked.

"The charm should deter anyone from looking this way for the brief time it takes us to get in and out." Narcissa added.

The steps that folded out from the doorway were perfectly visible, and Harry was able to climb inside. Lucius, Draco, and Narcissa all followed him in, and took their seats around the expansive interior. Harry – knowing what he did about magic – was fairly confident that the coach was much bigger on the inside than it would appear on the outside, had it been visible.

Lucius gestured once more with his cane, and the coach began moving. It felt at first as if it was being pulled down the street by a pair of horses. Harry could hear the clopping of their hooves even if he couldn't see them through the disillusionment charm on the carriage, though he had a pretty good view out the window. But when the hoof-beats stopped, just a moment before the entire coach lurched into the air angling up, Harry sat back away from the window. "They're flying horses?" Harry wondered aloud.

"Granians." Narcissa supplied. "And yes, they very strongly resemble horses with wings. You can take a closer look at them once we're back at the manor."

"We have an entire stable of them." Lucius added, "I'm surprised Draco didn't show you when you visited us last Christmas. But then, you and he seemed quite enamored with your brooms, and obviously needed no other mounts during that time." He smiled fondly at them both, and Harry was able to overcome his startlement, and lean forwards to peer out the window once more.

He enjoyed watching the countryside fly by below them, and imagined that this was just about the next best thing to flying his broom. "I could get very used to this; it's much more enjoyable than portkeys, or apparation." Harry confided in his friends. "How fast are we going, do you think?"

"Granians are nearly unmatched in speed. We've already made it past London, and I imagine we'll be landing shortly."

"Already?!" Harry was impressed, he doubted even his Wind Chaser – the fabulous broom he'd played quidditch with – would be able to keep up with granians.

As Lucius predicted, they were soon descending through the clouds, and very swiftly approached the ground, to land gracefully outside the front of Malfoy Manor. Harry got out of the coach, and watched as Narcissa removed the charm keeping the whole thing invisible.

The horses were quite large, and their glossy coats shone a subdued grey, highlighted by their shimmering pearlescent feathered wings. "They're beautiful!" Harry admired, noticing with a start that their eyes were a very pretty shade of green. But Draco – who had seen granians many times before – dragged Harry into the house, to discuss what they'd do with themselves over the next few weeks.

"We need to practice quidditch every day." Draco told him on the way up the grand staircase which rivaled the entry hall at Hogwarts for size, and surpassed it in sheer decoration.

"I haven't had a chance to practice at all yet since Hogwarts." Harry admitted.

"I want to make the team, so I have to make sure I'm in top shape." Draco explained unnecessarily.

"My Wind Chaser has been locked up all last month." Harry continued, "It'll be good to get it out in some fresh air for a bit. Do you want to practice right now?"

"Definitely!" Draco smiled, "Make sure Dobby got your things in order, then I'll meet you downstairs at the broom closet."

Harry's first impression of the Malfoy's broom closet over the previous Christmas had been surprised and shocked, for it was a full walk in closet with racks and display cases for all sorts of brooms. But Harry had gotten used to the idea since then, so didn't delay as they grabbed their brooms – Harry's had been taken to the closet by Dobby already – and headed straight out the door to get some flying practice in.

Once they'd flown around the fields, performed tricks, and were starting to tire from the exercise, Draco told him, "We can practice some simple quidditch moves and tricks just the two of us, but I've invited several friends around next week for a full match the day before my party."

"Brilliant!" Harry grinned, and brought his broom to the ground to rest for a moment.

They came back inside for some refreshments, and then were soon back in the air tossing small wooden balls back and forth at each other. Harry didn't miss a single catch, and Draco merely almost fumbled a few. "You'd make a really good seeker." Harry complimented his friend.

"Yeah, but the team already has a great seeker." Draco noted. "I think I'll try out for chaser."

Harry frowned, thought about it, and added, "They just got a new chaser last year, and Terrence won't be on the team anymore, but even that means there should still be three experienced chasers on the team. You might make reserve chaser, but I think you should stick to what you're best at, that way you're more likely to get on the team, and you can always practice more for another position later, once you're accepted."

Draco thought that over a bit as they tossed a divotted red quaffle back and forth while performing maneuvers in the air. "You're right, I'll try out for seeker, even if I'll most likely play as reserve."

"I need a break now and then." Harry assured him, "And it'll be a big relief to know someone as talented as you are is out there looking for the snitch when I'm taking a breather."

After they'd finished practicing, they came back inside, and enjoyed some fruit juice and sandwiches before Harry made Draco show him the granian stable. Harry learned quickly that while they might be very pleasant to look at, they weren't the best tempered beasts, and he ought to keep his distance if he didn't want to get nipped.

Draco also showed him the family's albino peacocks, their pet snufflers – which seemed a bit like cats, in that they kept the manor free of vermin, but they looked and acted nothing like cats, having thin scaled bodies and six clawed limbs for climbing over virtually any surface at high speed. Then they went up to Draco's room so he could feed his own pet komodo dragon – which Harry commented was getting a bit big for its cage – and sat together playing chess for the remainder of the afternoon.

Harry was getting quite comfortable in the Malfoy Manor. It was his second favorite place in the world, after Hogwarts. It didn't have the secret passages, or moving staircases that Hogwarts had. But there were paintings that talked and moved, magical creatures lurking around every corner, and of course, magic was allowed here, just as it was at Hogwarts, at least for those of age.

Draco and Harry were still underage, but Lucius had a tutor come around five days a week and while in the elderly woman's presence they could legally practice charms, transfiguration, and even a few simple jinxes and hexes.

Draco taught Harry some more about wizard duels – a subject they'd delved into on their own time at Hogwarts the previous year – and they had some practice duels between them. Nothing too serious, of course, though Draco apparently knew some pretty good hexes.

Then there was Dobby. When Harry had first visited the Malfoys' he'd discovered the house elf seemed a little in awe of him, but he was under strict orders to stay out of Harry's way. House elves pretty much always had to obey their masters – in this case the Malfoy's – or they couldn't use their magic, or something to that effect.

Just as before, Harry was always spotting Dobby peering at him from doorways or around the corner, or from a hiding place where he couldn't be seen except for his lamp-like eyes reflecting the light.

It was the middle of the following week when Harry was wandering alone, as he often did when Draco was busy with something, that he overheard Lucius talking softly in his study. This by itself wasn't abnormal, nor was it what caught his attention. It was a single word, a name, which sparked Harry's insatiable curiosity.

"This is exactly why I invited you here, Valerios." Lucius was saying.

"I see what you mean." Valerios replied. "This does seem to be a sensitive and potentially volatile chain of events." Harry inched closer to the door, hoping no one would pass by in the hallway and see him eavesdropping. The Malfoys could be fiercely protective of their privacy, especially when it came to places like the study, places that, as Lucius told it, could be dangerous to someone who didn't know what they might be poking into.

Harry had met Valerios Vladescu very briefly over the Christmas Holidays, at a party he'd attended with the Malfoys. The man was very polite, and seemed foreign except for his complete lack of any accent. He'd seemed interested in Harry, not that that was uncommon, but Harry had received a soothstone as a Christmas present. The stone would grow warm to the touch when someone told a lie to him, and the stone had indicated that Valerios had been less than truthful, though about what, Harry couldn't say.

The two men in the room beyond were quiet a moment, and Harry felt a tingle along the back of his neck. Maybe they were doing something magic?

"The event that you spoke of does seem set." Valerios said at last.

"I know that your gift is stronger when working with certainties, so I was very thorough when determining if this was a certainty or not."

"Of course, even if some choices are already set, there are many others yet to be made, what exactly is it you wish me to advise you on?" Valerios replied.

"How best to prepare myself and my family to face and survive what is coming this year." Lucius said immediately.

Valerios was silent for a moment before responding again, "It is very difficult to say, I would recommend telling your son what you've told me, give him the information he might need should a confrontation arise."

"You don't think I should keep him home this year?"

"I doubt he'd stay. I see a great many things calling him to Hogwarts, and even if you succeeded in keeping him, he would resent you strongly for it. There is little danger to a true Slytherin like him."

"What about Harry Potter? As I mentioned, I have reason to believe he may have at one time been at odds with him, but he has also been accepted by his legacy. I am uncertain whether he would be in danger, but perhaps you can say with more certainty?" Lucius' voice was intense, and it seemed to Harry that he genuinely cared about what might happen to him. It was a little surprising.

"Now that is even trickier. I can say that these events you have uncovered make things clearer, but Potter has always been difficult to read. I cannot promise much concerning Harry, except that as he is in Slytherin, he should not be in direct danger. Unless there is more to this than you are telling me?"

There was a long silence, and Harry felt somewhat alarmed by this turn of the conversation.

"Nothing I haven't said." Lucius said at last, and Harry was almost certain he was holding something back, and this did not sound like the time or place to hold back. "Again, I have reason to believe he may have been at odds with him once before."

"I believe you have already prepared him as well as you can to face whatever trials may come. If you explain things to Draco, but not him, Draco will reveal more to him later when he has a chance. This may make Harry's path easier, but Draco himself will be far more likely to encounter significant danger."

"I will think carefully on your advice," Lucius said, and Harry heard something shift, a chair against the floor, and decided he'd pushed his luck far enough. He padded down the hall as quietly as he could, and slipped into his room a moment before the door to Lucius' study opened.

Why couldn't he have heard just a little bit more? What on earth were they talking about, and why was it putting him in danger? What was Valerios' role in all this, and why did he seem to know so much about Harry, and those around him?

He thought briefly about confronting Lucius with his knowledge, but decided it wouldn't make things any better. Lucius would no doubt put Draco's wellbeing above Harry's, even if he was concerned for Harry's sake. He had only a couple of clues to go on. Something about events that were certain to come to pass this year that would affect the school, and someone Harry had been at odds with at some point in his past, though Harry couldn't think who that might be, unless maybe he was referring to Professor Snape, or maybe even Seamus Finnigan, though for some reason neither really sounded right to Harry.

Between participating in tutoring, practicing quidditch, performing some mock duels with Draco and exploring the manor, Harry was honestly surprised to learn that the weekend and the first half of the next week had passed, and the very next day was Draco's party.

"So, what did you get me, Harry?" Draco asked late that night in Draco's room. Harry knew they both needed to get ready for bed soon, and he was exhausted from the quidditch match they'd participated in earlier with a bunch of Draco's friends, but he was also still too excited to sleep.

"You'll have to wait and see." Harry told him teasingly. "It's supposed to be a surprise after all, right?"

"You could give me a hint?" Draco cajoled, but Harry wouldn't budge. "I could guess, and you could tell me if I'm wrong or not?"

"Just wait. I'm sure you'll like it, and it won't kill you to wait another day, will it?"

"No, but I'd really like to know…"

Harry couldn't help but laugh, and the laugh turned into a huge yawn. He blinked sleepily a bit then jumped when the door suddenly opened.

"You should be getting to bed, big day tomorrow, and you don't want to be too tired for it." Narcissa told them both.

Reluctantly, Harry left the room, and headed into his own room to get ready for bed. He didn't remember changing, or climbing into the big four-poster. He awoke refreshed, but still a bit worn out after dreaming about chasing cats all up and down Privet Drive, a dream which he also didn't remember.

It was one of those times that passed by in an excited, frenetic blur, but Harry could still remember many details vividly. Draco's presents, his friends, the games they played, and of course, there was Jean Claude d'Avery. The man was a friend of Lucius Malfoy, who had visited during the party. Mostly he didn't bother Harry or the other guests, but there was a moment, towards the end, where he bumped into Harry between the hall where the celebrations were being held, and the kitchen.

"Well, well, if it isn't Harry Potter." He said, recognizing Harry at once. "I'd hoped we might have a chance to talk, I've heard a great deal about you, and the extraordinary events you participated in just a few months ago at the school." His smile was cold, and didn't reach his light blue eyes. Like Lucius he kept his hair long, though his was a darker shade of blonde and he held his back in a short ponytail. He also spoke with just a hint of an accent Harry thought might have been french.

"Excuse me." Harry wasn't really feeling like talking about that of all things, besides he'd just wanted to grab a snack and head back to rejoin Draco and the others.

Jean Claude, however, followed a little behind, and continued speaking, "It's extraordinary for one so young to face a powerful dark wizard and live. But then, this is not the first time you've done just that, is it?"

"I suppose." Harry admitted grudgingly. "It was Dumbledore mostly, if he hadn't shown up I'd probably be dead."

"So you had no role in resolving those harrowing events? I'd heard a few things, rumors mostly, but I'd like to hear it from you. Was it just Quirinus Quirrel that you encountered in the dungeons?"

Harry wondered how Avery had heard about Voldemort, it wasn't common knowledge, even among the students at Hogwarts, who knew a lot – it would have been hard to keep events like that completely secret even if they'd wanted to – but not the whole story by any means.

Problem was; he had to still pretend that he might be inclined to join Voldemort's cause, especially around people like Avery, whom Harry didn't know anything about.

"I don't know what you heard." Harry began, thinking immediately that he wasn't off to a very good start if he wanted to keep some of it secret. "Quirrel was trying to steal the philosopher's stone. But it's gone now; even if he comes back he can't get it, if it doesn't exist."

"So you believe He will come back?" Avery asked, putting an unusual emphasis on the word 'he'.

"I'm not sure what you mean?" Harry lied. He had an idea he knew exactly who Avery was referring to.

"The Dark Lord. Immortality is fine, but I heard it was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named who was after the stone in truth."

"With the stone, he could have come back, I suppose." Harry murmured, remembering those heart pounding moments in the dungeon. Voldemort had offered to bring his parents back, an offer Harry had very nearly accepted, though he was still grateful for Dumbledore's timely intervention. Harry had done a pretty fair job pretending he hadn't wanted to kill the Dark Lord Voldemort, the offer of his parents return had made it easy to fake his interest. Truth was; his interest hadn't really been faked.

"So he's still alive?" Avery continued as if Harry were no longer there.

"Not exactly…" Harry explained, "he was… sharing Quirrel's body, just barely surviving. 'Reduced to shadow and vapor' was how he said it."

Avery mulled this over as Harry grabbed a plate of cookies, gave Dobby a smile and a wave, and started back towards the main hall. "It's just… not fair." Avery said, almost too softly for Harry to hear.

"Pardon?" Harry blinked; what had he meant by that?

"Never mind. Thank you for speaking so candidly with me. I'm sure it can't be easy recalling such things, encounters with people who want you dead…"

"He doesn't… I mean, Voldemort said…" Avery gasped, and Harry remembered too late that most people didn't like it when he said Voldemort's name. "He said we could work together, I don't know that he wants me dead."

"Interesting. Though you can bet he will be very angry when he does return, I wouldn't want to be the source of such anger." Avery's eyes were at once haunted, and excited. Harry had a feeling right then that Jean Claude d'Avery was not a man he wanted to get to know.

Harry stared for a moment, but then realized Avery was lost in thought, and took the opportunity to escape. Unfortunately the incident was difficult to put from his mind, and while he tried to enjoy the rest of the party, he continued to dwell on it and Lucius' conversation with Valerios. Voldemort would be angry, quite possibly at Harry. The way Harry saw it, he had thwarted the Dark Lord twice now, was it even possible that he wouldn't want revenge against him? What was the point of pretending he might be sympathetic to Voldemort's cause?

Harry spent the next few days in a black mood, despite all the fun he and Draco were having. Whenever he had a moment to himself his mind would return to both subjects of his foreboding.

He had a room all to himself here at the Manor, which was more than he'd had most of his life at the Dursley's, and he didn't even live here. He was startled to find Dobby waiting for him in his room one evening after he'd bidden Draco a good night.

"Dobby, what are you doing in here?" Harry whispered, not wanting to get the house elf in trouble.

"Dobby is sorry, but Dobby was concerned for Harry Potter." Dobby replied in his squeaky voice.

"I'm fine, really." Harry assured him, sitting on the edge of his bed to regard the elf, who stood on one of Harry's trunks. "Why would you be worried about me?"

Dobby looked sheepish, his ears drooping a little, but he replied quickly, "There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot which could put kind, generous, Master Potter in jeopardy."

"Is this about Valerios?" Harry wondered out loud, remembering the conversation he'd overheard.

"No, Dobby has not heard any mention of a man named Valerios." Dobby shook his head, his ears flapping almost into his face.

"Can you tell me… what the plot is?" Harry moved closer, his eyes intense. "I mean, if I know more, I can be more careful, and I'll be safer… right?"

Dobby made a pitiful sound, and shook his head again. "Dobby has already said too much. Harry Potter must promise to be careful. There is danger for him at Hogwarts this year. Perhaps he should not go back?"

"I have to go back!" Harry insisted, a little distraught at the idea of not going back, "Otherwise, I'll have to go live with the Dursley's. Hogwarts is where I belong."

"Dobby thought Harry Potter might say that." He looked forlorn, and Harry felt rather sorry for him in that moment.

"Look. I'll be extra careful, alright? And, I'll write you letters, so you'll know I'm okay."

Harry immediately regretted his offer when Dobby's large eyes filled with tears, "Harry Potter would write letters to worthless Dobby?!" He sniffled, and began wailing, wiping his eyes and nose with the pillow case he used as a shirt. "Truly, Harry is the most wonderful, kind, generous, great wizard Dobby has ever met."

"You must not have met many decent wizards…" Harry was embarrassed, and thought Dobby was making a lot more noise than he should. "You'd better go; I don't want you to get in trouble. If Lucius finds you; you'd have to punish yourself, wouldn't you?"

"Dobby will punish himself anyways." Dobby got out between sobs. Harry wished Dobby could stay a little longer. He'd still never gotten much chance to talk to the house elf, but with the noise he was making Harry was afraid it might already be too late to avoid getting caught. "But Harry is right, Dobby will go now." And with that, the sobbing little creature disappeared from Harry's room.

Harry sighed, his curiosity running a mile a minute, thinking he'd never be able to sleep at this rate, but he found quite quickly that it was morning, and he'd slept most the night away without ever remembering falling asleep.

Author's Comments: Thanks to everyone who is still following all this. I've had this ready for a while now, but even just in the last few days have done additional editing. The transition to the new year was difficult, and I felt like I had to go back and do some of those descriptions and introductions that I skipped at the beginning of the first year. I started the first year where the 'change' occurred, but this time, I feel like I've got a complete book's worth of story to tell, so as you can see I started much earlier. Even earlier in some ways than the original Chamber of Secrets started.

I've got a lot going on for the second year, and I just hope I can manage to fit it all in without becoming too tiresome, and long winded. I also hope I've done a good job setting up for things that are to come. Thanks again, and I hope you'll all enjoy this even more than you enjoyed the first part of my story.

Once again the copyrights for the Harry Potter worlds belong to J.K. Rowling. All original characters depicted here and this story are copyrighted to me.