Year 2 – The Chamber of Secrets
Chapter 12 – Heartbreak
Chapter Summary: The Quidditch season is about to end, and then Harry and his friends almost get into a huge amount of trouble.
Rated T: For occasional graphic concepts and atmosphere, alcohol reference, mild magical violence, and strong wizarding language. No adult situations.
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.
"So what do you think?" Draco asked Harry at breakfast. "How badly are we going to beat Ravenclaw?"
"I think we can win, but I don't want to rely on outscoring them on goal. I plan to catch the snitch as early as possible, so there's no chance for Ravenclaw to outscore us the way Gryffindor did. Or the way Hufflepuff was starting to last month."
"That sounds like a solid strategy. Maybe next year the rest of the team will get their acts together, and we won't have to rely purely on you." Draco offered a smile, and Harry could definitely hold out hope. But he wasn't going to hold his breath either. Flint would likely still be captain next year, and they'd have to really work at it to make significant changes around Flint's stubbornness.
The only other option would be if Flint was somehow no longer captain the following year. The only candidates who would be in their 5th year or above: were Pucey, who was as vicious as Flint, Derrik or Bole, who were not really the brightest, in Harry's estimation, or Miles Bletchley. Miles could do it, Harry thought, but he'd usually sided with their captain against Harry and Draco.
Then there was Harriet. Harriet McClaren had proven she was a decent quidditch coach, helping both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw train. But could she take over from Flint? Would she? Harry didn't know exactly how the captain was chosen, but figured Snape probably had something to do with it. Maybe he could ask his Head of House about the subject later.
In the locker rooms Harry mostly tuned out Flint's pep talk, still mulling over the idea of a replacement captain, but he was startled back into awareness when Draco approached him excitedly. "Father's here!" He announced practically bouncing with energy.
Harry had been so lost in thought that he hadn't noticed Flint was finished, and the rest of the team had already vacated this corner of the locker rooms, "What?! Here at the school?!" Harry blinked at Draco a few times.
"Yeah, I just talked to him outside the locker room. He's here on business, but he's going to watch the game! I was wondering…" Draco paused, and Harry wasn't sure he'd ever seen Draco so hesitant to speak his mind before this, "Would it be okay with you if I asked Flint to start this game?" He finally got out, "I want Father to see me flying, at least for a little while." He explained in a rush, "Then we can trade off if I don't catch the snitch right away, and you can still try to get it before the game drags on too long. So… how 'bout it?"
Harry's first instinct was to object. He'd been training for weeks specifically to try and end the game as quickly as possible, but ultimately he couldn't deny his best friend a little time in the spotlight, especially if Mr. Malfoy was there. "Yeah, go for it."
Harry wasn't sure what to expect, but surprisingly, Flint agreed to Draco's change rather quickly. Perhaps he was as in awe of the Malfoys as so many other Slytherins seemed to be, or maybe it was because Lucius was a school Governor.
Or maybe it was just because Flint disliked Harry.
So Harry trailed behind a little when they marched onto the field, alongside Graham Montague, Mark Urquhart, and Vincent Crabbe; their regular reserves. It was surprising to Harry just how different it felt not to be starting.
"As always, let's keep this a clean game." Hooch told them, glaring pointedly at Flint. Flint just glared right back as if daring her to go through with her previous threat. Harry shook his head.
"Head's or beasts, Mister Inglebee?" She asked after a moment.
"Heads." Duncan called.
"Beasts. Flint you choose your goal."
"We'll take the south goal." Flint decided, and both Hooch and Duncan Inglebee nodded.
"And, they're up!" Padma announced as both teams moved into position. Harry went with the other reserves to the bench in front of the Slytherin locker rooms, and sat ready to watch the first part of the match, still feeling out of place.
"…Flint takes the quaffle and passes to… Sif intercepts, and he's got a head start on goal. He veers past Connolly and shoots. Bletchley saves! Bletchley puts the quaffle back into play, and Flint takes it down the pitch. He dodges Sif this time, and passes to Pucey. Kempston checks Pucey… but no, he charges right through her, he… Hooch blew the whistle, looks like she's calling a foul on Pucey…"
Harry ground his teeth. It was only the second play of the game and they'd already drawn a foul.
"…Kempston makes her penalty shot, taking the first score of the game. Sif takes the quaffle again, and this time Slytherin's ready to block him. He passes to Kempston, and she ducks past Pucey. Kempston passes to Davies, who passes back to Kempston, who is coming fast on goal. She dodges Bole's bludger, and shoots, but the shot is wide… it's recovered by Sif, he shoots from behind the goal, the shot is good! Bletchley couldn't get to it in time! Ravenclaw now leads twenty to nothing…!"
Unable to watch anymore, Harry turned his attention on the two seekers. Draco was flying in a wide search pattern, and seemed to occasionally glance towards the stands, no doubt to ensure himself that his father was still watching. Harry sighed, hoping that Mr. Malfoy wasn't distracting Draco too much from hunting the snitch. Cho Chang, on the other hand seemed more focused than Harry had seen her before, and didn't seem to be paying any attention at all to her rival, Draco.
"…Slytherin's on the board, but Ravenclaw still leads thirty to ten. Fleet passes the quaffle to Davies, and Davies dodges Flint, he's got a clear shot unless, Davies was just knocked from his broom by a bludger shot from Derrik. Hooch is calling a time out, Davies might be injured."
Harry watched with some concern as Hooch and both team captains approached where Roger Davies had landed. He hadn't fallen far, as he'd come down low in order to dodge past Flint. It was announced that he was being taken to the hospital wing, and Ravenclaw's reserve chaser, Jeremy Stretton, would fly in his place.
Both teams scored once more while Harry watched, and waited, and then Cho Chang spotted the snitch. "…Chang's on the snitch, I think she's going to… Malfoy's gaining on her, he's going to beat her to the snitch, I've never seen a broom that fast!" Harry grinned; Malfoy's Nimbus 2001 really was an incredible broom. "…He's been hit!" Padma's announcement was more excited than Harry usually heard her, "Malfoy's been hit by Inglebee's bludger! It looks like another time out. He kept his broom, but he might still be injured, and it might also be a foul…"
Harry waited; tense and nervous, hoping Draco was okay. No foul was called on Duncan Inglebee, but if nothing else the snitch appeared to have escaped during the confusion, so Cho Chang wouldn't be catching it, yet. Flint waved Harry over onto the field, and he trotted out with his broom. When he got close he could see Draco had a bruise forming on his cheek, but he seemed in good spirits. "I would have caught it!" He assured Harry exuberantly, "Guess I need to keep a better eye on the bludgers though."
"Actually, I think your eye came a little too close to that bludger." Harry teased.
"You're up, Potter." Flint informed him coldly. "Hooch is making us give Malfoy a breather." Draco shrugged and started back to the bench Harry had just vacated, while Harry and the others took to the air. Harry thought back to the last time he'd spotted the snitch, and remembered the trance he'd slipped into then, wondering if he could do the same thing again now.
He tried to clear his mind, like when he was meditating with Pansy, and with startling suddenness, the noise of the crowd faded. Shocked, Harry lost his trance, and the noise rushed back in. Only an instant had passed.
Harry shook his head then rose swiftly, gaining more height above the field than he was used to, and let his gaze wander. When play resumed beneath him, he tried to focus again, just hovering in place for a time scanning the air. It came more slowly this time, as Padma's voice gradually faded from his mind. Awareness of the other players also faded, leaving nothing but Harry's search for the elusive flicker of golden wings.
He took a few moments just examining how this trance felt, as he wanted to hold onto the feeling and be able to use it again just as quickly the next time. He didn't know how long he hovered in place, but then he heard someone shout his name, "…Potter, look out!" He blinked, and saw the bludger flying towards his face, just in time to spin around his broom, narrowly avoiding the iron ball.
"Keep your eyes on the bludgers, Harry." Harry muttered under his breath.
His concentration shattered, his eyes tracked the black bludgeon as it reached its apex then began its return descent, and Peregrine Derrik – the beater who'd shouted the warning – caught up with it and hammered it back towards the pitch. Harry momentarily glanced at the scoreboard, and saw that Ravenclaw had scored twice, while Slytherin had only one more goal. But then he spotted it. It was just a little above his line of sight as he looked down at the scoreboard. If he'd been much lower, it might not have been in his field of view, and if he'd been any higher, it would have blended with the colors of the crowd in the stands.
He didn't look around, didn't check for other players, merely tucked himself down to lay aerodynamically along his broom and let gravity and the flight charms accelerate him towards the golden ball. It sped up as he drew close, as if just noticing him on its tail. He was vaguely aware that Padma had said his name – probably observing him in pursuit – and even one of Ravenclaw's beaters last ditch effort to check Harry fell short, leaving Harry open to sweep his hand through the air and grab hold of the snitch.
He slowed his forward momentum, and closed his eyes, enjoying the thrill of victory before allowing the trance to fade from his mind, realizing only then that he had regained his trance the instant he'd spotted the snitch. The roar of the crowd filled his ears in a surge of noise. "…wins the match, one-eighty to fifty!" Padma was saying, and Harry was soon joined by his teammates, singing his praises as they celebrated briefly in the air. Flint looked mildly annoyed, perhaps because the match had ended so quickly, but he joined in with the others anyways.
The party was a good one, but neither Harry nor Draco stayed for the whole thing. Draco wanted a chance to speak with his father while he was still at the school and Harry tagged along. "Where do you suppose he's gone?" Harry wondered aloud.
"I don't know, maybe to see Dumbledore?" Draco suggested, "We can ask Dobby."
"Yeah, Dobby was with Father earlier. Dobby?!" He called for his family's house elf and the diminutive creature popped into existence directly in front of them.
"Yes, Master Draco? And wonderful, clever, brave Harry Potter!" The elf's lamp-like eyes glowed when he spotted Harry there.
"Do you know where Father is?" Draco asked, glancing at Harry with a raised eyebrow.
"Master Malfoy was speaking with the Headmaster, sir. But now he has gone to find Master Severus Snape. Dobby does not know the purpose for his visiting Master Snape."
"Thank you, Dobby. You may go." Dobby snapped his fingers and disappeared with another pop, and Harry shook his head.
"You were rather short with him, weren't you?"
Draco just shrugged, "He's a house elf; you have to be direct with house elves."
Together they navigated the halls until they came to Snape's office in the dungeons.
They slowed when they heard raised voices muffled through the door, "Why didn't you come to me earlier, Lucius?" Snape demanded, his loud angry tone surprising to Harry, and from a glance at his face, Draco as well.
"I wasn't certain. I had heard rumors that this object may have been discovered, but no proof." Lucius retorted sharply.
"You'll forgive me if I find some of this hard to swallow. You knew this was coming, and you did nothing? You simply allowed the attacks to occur?"
"Why should we care if a few mudbloods are petrified, it could have been pranks for all I knew. The last time the chamber was opened somebody died. Plus, the most compelling evidence I had was something learned from a seer, and I know you've never put much stock in divination. Their babble is rarely useful except at the most inconvenient of moments."
"Indeed." Snape responded coldly.
"As you can see, I could hardly go to Dumbledore about this, without something more concrete. Dumbledore wouldn't understand. He doesn't know what it was like, and I've had enough bad press lately. But when I heard about what happened to Harry, my suspicions were confirmed, and I knew I couldn't stand by and do nothing. That is why I am telling you this now. Others might suspect my motives, but you have Dumbledore's ear. You are in a position to do something about it, while keeping my name out."
There was no response from Snape, and after a moment Lucius continued on, though they seemed to be returning to more normal tones, "So, it is as I told you. You're not looking for a new Heir, but the same one as before. I do not know why he stopped the attacks fifty years ago, but the object he left behind is supposed finish the job for him. You need to find that object, whatever it may be, and whoever has discovered it. It is the only way to stop the attacks now."
Their voices grew quieter and quieter, so that no matter how Harry and Draco strained their ears – practically pressing up against the door to hear more – they could no longer make out what was being said. But then they heard the doorknob turn, and they both leapt backwards, nearly tripping over each other in their haste to appear like they hadn't been eavesdropping. They were just in time too, for no sooner had they backed up and started strolling forwards – as if they were just approaching the door – than the door opened and there was Lucius Malfoy's sneering face.
His expression shifted immediately when he saw them, and he offered them both fond smiles, "Ah, Draco, and Harry. It's good to see you both. I must apologize that we couldn't meet over Christmas. We'll make it up to you, though. I swear it!"
Harry smiled graciously back at Lucius. "Why don't we find a quiet place to chat?" Lucius continued.
"Actually, I have matters of my own to attend to." Snape said, rising to his feet. "Feel free to use my office."
Lucius nodded and stood to the side so Harry and Draco could enter just before Snape stepped through into the hall, "I'll get back to you, Severus, if I hear anything more on the matter." The Potion's Master nodded then closed the door behind him.
Once they were all inside Snape's office it felt a bit cramped. Harry spotted Dobby hiding just behind Lucius' robes, staring at Harry with his wide luminous eyes. Harry offered the elf a little wave.
Lucius glanced down as if he'd just realized the house elf was still there. "Dobby, return to the manor and attend to your chores." He dismissed the elf. With a last longing glance at Harry, Dobby snapped his fingers and disappeared.
"What did he mean 'an object?' " Pansy asked.
Harry had gathered all six of his conspirators in the transfiguration classroom (the first room they'd found that wasn't in use) to share what he and Draco had learned from Lucius' conversation with Snape. Draco was unusually quiet, and thoughtful. Harry guessed it was because he wasn't used to hearing his father or godfather argue like that. Harry's mind was too excited by these new developments to really think about that right now, however.
"I don't know, he didn't explain any more than that, at least not while we could hear. I don't know what his sources of information are, but he seemed pretty confident in what he was saying. I don't see any reason we shouldn't try to take some of it into account for our own search, do you?"
"I don't like this." It was one of the Weasley twins. "It's one thing to try and uncover a student doing something rotten like petrifying people, but if it's not a student at all, but some old guy possessing people through an artifact…" "Well, as much as we hate to say it, this might be out of our league. Perhaps we should just let Dumbledore and Snape handle it?"
"We're already involved, whether we want to be or not." Harry insisted. "Besides, this affects all of us, not just non-Slytherins, or muggle-borns. We need to find out what we can, and report it to Dumbledore so he can stop it. I'm not saying we should go after the Heir ourselves, but we can't sit around and do nothing."
"Harry's right." Draco's sudden announcement caught all of their attention. "We have a responsibility. Everyone here is from a prominent wizarding family. We have knowledge, and traditions that other wizarding folk do not have. Gryffindor and Slytherin both have proud heritages to uphold, and we can't sit idly by while this pretender besmirches our House. And you two can't let innocent witches and wizards go undefended when you have the knowledge and ability to do something about it, can you?" Fred and George both shook their heads. "Then it's settled. We may not be the best for the job, but we have to do something, and we can't necessarily bring more into our circle because we don't know for certain whom we can trust. We've got new information we can use, information my father took a risk to bring to us. I can do no less."
Harry offered his friend a warm smile, as did the others. "So what's our next plan of action?" One of the Carrows finally asked.
"We need to start doing some research, figure out what sort of object this could be." Harry suggested.
"And we still have other plans to put in motion." Pansy cut in. "The veritaserum potion is almost ready, isn't it?"
"That's right. We'll come back to the Heir and the Chamber when we've had time to formulate a plan, and in the meantime, we'll deal with Lockhart. Anyone have anything to add?" Harry offered a smile to the Carrows, but no one had anything more to say just then, so the meeting broke up; Harry to meditate with Pansy in the Slytherin common room in preparation for his resumed Occlumency lesson the next day, and each of the others to their own tasks.
Harry was nervously determined when he arrived at what he was coming to think of as the 'Occlumency Room', Sunday evening. But his nerves had also prevented him from eating, and he could not honestly say he was looking forwards to the coming lesson. He'd been practicing his meditation almost daily, but he didn't know if any of it would help.
"Come in, Mister Potter." Snape's voice came to him clearly after he knocked, and Harry entered and took his seat in the center of the room as normal.
"Are you feeling less distracted today?" Snape asked him once he was seated.
"I don't know, sir." Harry admitted truthfully. "I hope so."
"Then let us find out. Stand, and ready your wand." They stood together, and Harry stepped a little away from the chair. He tried to control his breathing, to concentrate on nothing at all. He visualized doors closing in his mindscape, sealing whatever thoughts and memories lay behind them, and then tried to think of nothing at all.
"Legilimens!" Snape said softly.
Harry's vision slipped into darkness, nothing there, only a chill mist… It was a particularly cold Christmas, and Harry hid from his relatives in the shed in the backyard… the blackness returned, but started to fade again almost immediately… Harry held the snitch high in the air, and looked around in confusion, had no one noticed what he'd done…? Racing after the snitch, Harry didn't bother looking for Seamus; the sandy haired Gryffindor was not currently part of his world. There was room for nothing but him, his broom, and the winged golden ball, and the rapidly diminishing distance between them, a moment that seemed to draw on and on…
"Mister Potter? Potter… Potter. Potter!" Snape's voice at first didn't reach him, but then Harry snapped his attention back to the room he shared with the Potions Master.
"You'd slipped into a trance, Potter." Snape informed him. "A successful occlumency defense, however, you were otherwise unresponsive. Unfortunately that means you were quite vulnerable to non-mental attack. It is a good sign, but you must learn to defend both your mind and your body."
"I was noticing that myself." Harry answered, eliciting a raised eyebrow from his professor. "It's something I've been learning to do in Quidditch." He explained. "As you said, it's a sort of trance. When I slip into it during quidditch I can close out all the distractions of the noise of the crowd, and the announcer, and it's a lot easier for me to focus on spotting the snitch, and catching it. But I've also noticed I close out other things like players or bludgers coming at me."
"An interesting anecdote." Snape replied. "I'm not certain how much use it will be to your occlumency lessons, but practicing that might be a start towards more effectively focusing your mind. Are you ready to continue?"
After a moment, Harry nodded, and then Snape resumed their practice. They kept at it until Harry was able to slip into his trance once more, only snapping out of it when Snape hit him with a mild stinging jinx, proving once again that closing out distractions could be hazardous.
After that, Harry departed, feeling worn out, much like he did after a grueling quidditch practice, but also energized by his partial successes. Now he just needed to figure out how to go into his trance while still staying aware of his surroundings, and how to do it at will, instead of falling into it half on accident.
On Tuesday afternoon, Harry, Draco, Pansy, Flora, Hestia, Fred, and George met up before dinner to discuss the plan for the veritaserum potion.
"How's it look?" One of the Weasley twins was eager to know.
"It looks just about perfect!" Pansy announced happily. Draco had praised her and the Carrows for the work they'd done while he and Harry had been too busy to focus all the energy required to finish the potion themselves, and she'd been glowing every since.
"She's right." Harry confirmed. "It looks exactly like the book describes, and the lunar cycle completed this morning. I wish we could test it, but we don't have any extra, just enough for a single dose. It's really a tiny amount."
"About three drops, I'd say." Draco nodded.
"Alright. Now we need to work out a plan for how we're going to use it on Lockhart," One of the Carrows suggested. "I assume you two have an idea?" They both turned to regard the Weasleys.
"Of course." "Several, in fact." They grinned widely.
Draco was the first to break down, "Well? Tell us?"
"The trick here." "We believe." "Is to fool him into thinking we're talking about something else completely, while slipping the potion into something he's about to drink." "Then once it takes effect we can start asking him the right questions."
"It should probably be Harry who does it." Draco added quickly.
"Why Harry?" The twins asked in unison.
"Because." It was one of the Carrows this time to explained. "Lockhart likes him." "Haven't you seen how he goes out of his way to be seen with Harry? He enjoys the extra publicity."
"A good point." The Weasley's looked at each other, and shrugged. "But it's not enough just to hear him spill the beans. We need someone credible to hear it too."
"Someone like Snape!" Draco gasped excitedly.
"Err, we were thinking McGonagall. You can't get much more credible than McGonagall…"
"But she's just as likely to get us in trouble, as to snitch on Lockhart." Pansy objected.
"She might." The Weasleys both frowned.
"I think Draco has the right idea." Harry cut in. "And if Snape's going to be involved, you two should probably stay away from it. I know you'd love to see it happen, but it will be better if he doesn't know how many of us were involved in this, especially you two."
They didn't look like they liked the idea, but after thinking it over, they eventually agreed, "Alright… We'll leave it up to you then, Harry."
"He'll need help." Pansy looked back and forth between them. "Someone to fetch Snape, and show up with him at just the right moment."
"Severus is my godfather. So it will probably be best if I'm the one to fetch him. We can come up with a good excuse for it, right?"
"Right!" Harry smiled at his friend.
"How will you know what the right moment is?" One of the Weasley twins asked.
"What about that whistle Harry gave you?" The Weasley's blinked at the Carrows, not understanding, but Harry and Pansy both nodded, and Draco smiled.
"Yeah, that'll be perfect, think you can blow it without raising a fuss, Harry?"
"What whistle?" One of the Weasley's asked.
"Harry gave Draco a whistle for Christmas that only the person who you key it to can hear when you blow." Pansy explained.
"Oh, that's kinda neat." "Something like that could come in handy." "My thoughts exactly, Goerge." Fred and George grinned conspiratorially at one another.
"So do you think you can manage it, Harry?" The other Carrow repeated her sister's question.
"I can try. It might look suspicious, but anything else would be worse, I think. So when are we going to do this?"
"The sooner the better, I say." All four twins agreed then laughed when they realized they'd all spoken together.
Harry and the others laughed too. Then Harry added, "All right, by the end of the week, we'll figure out the exact time, and let you know, but we may have to play this a bit by ear as well. If we have a good opportunity, we'll take it. Agreed?"
A chorus of "Agreed." Answered Harry's suggestion.
They tried to work out some additional details, but there just wasn't a lot else to go on yet, so they wound down and separated to get ready for dinner. Harry was once again nervously excited, and just hoped he could keep this adventure from Snape during their Thursday Occlumency lesson. It would be disastrous if Snape discovered their plans before they'd acted on them.
Harry's Occlumency lesson went reasonably well. Harry was able to slip into his trance right away, but Snape eventually found a way to wear him down, and the second time was even quicker, leaving Harry drained and gasping. But once again Harry kept his most important secrets, secret. And then Saturday, opportunity came knocking.
It was an unusually warm day, right at the end of March. There was only a week left of term, and Lockhart had let slip to the first year Slytherins that he had something interesting planned for Spring Break. Under the guise of trying to wheedle more information out of him, Harry ascended the stairs to the second floor, passing by Myrtle's lonely bathroom on the way to Lockhart's office.
"Why, if it isn't Harry!" Lockhart answered Harry's knock promptly and beamed at him. "Haven't seen you much outside of class lately. It's about time we got caught up. My how the time flies, right?"
"Always, when you're having fun." Harry gave a false grin in return, and quickly entered the room, feeling suddenly self-conscious beneath the grinning stares of dozens of Lockharts in all the paintings, photos, and book covers throughout the room.
"So what brings you here at this hour? Only forty minutes until dinner by my count."
Harry was looking around for some sort of beverage, wishing he'd thought to bring one himself, but he wasn't sure how he would have explained it. "I was thinking about what you said in class yesterday. About the break…"
"O'ho. And you thought you'd get me to spoil the surprise for you? You sly old dog. Well it won't be happening. All I'll say is that it involves eggs, and bunny rabbits. But you won't get another word out of me on the subject; it's supposed to be a surprise afterall."
"Is that butterbeer?" Harry had spotted what looked like a bottle of butterbeer on one of Lockhart's shelves.
"That? Actually that's… something a bit stronger than butterbeer." Lockhart responded smoothly to Harry's nonsequeter.
"Oh." Harry didn't think he could get away with asking to try a little, not that he was really all that keen to try something much stronger than butterbeer anyways.
"Now, I probably shouldn't." Lockhart continued on, blithely ignoring Harry's consternation. "But I know what it's like to be young. I'll let you have a tiny sip, on your promise not to tell anyone about it."
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but then stopped. This was actually the perfect opportunity, and he supposed he could probably handle a very small sip of whatever it was. He slipped his hand into his pocket, and fingered the tiny vial with the few precious drops of veritaserum in it.
Lockhart, meanwhile, had pulled the bottle down off the shelf, and held it reverently in two hands while reading the label aloud for Harry's benefit. "Míruvórë Cúnë. Elven moon-wine, this bottle is nearly three hundred years old, though it's not quite as fresh as it was when I first opened it."
Lockhart was apparently satisfied by Harry's wide-eyed awe. It certainly sounded impressive enough. Lockhart pulled out a pair of goblets, set one in front of Harry, and then uncorked the bottle. He poured a very small amount into Harry's goblet – barely a mouthful – then poured his own goblet only about a fifth of the way to the top, leaving most of it empty. Harry reached for his glass, with the vial of truth serum cupped in his palm, intending to brush it over Lockhart's goblet in the same movement, but his teacher stopped him almost immediately. "Harry!" Harry jumped, and snatched his hand back, "Must let it breathe first."
Harry's heart started beating again when he realized Lockhart hadn't just caught him with the veritaserum. "Oh." He tried his best not to stare at the pair of goblets just in reach on Lockhart's desk. He slipped Draco's silver whistle into his other hand, and held both items ready in nervous palms.
"Have you ever tasted elf-wine before, Harry?"
"How about any other kind of wine?"
"Splendid. This will be a real treat then." He stoppered the wine bottle and got up to put it back on the shelf.
With his back turned, Harry immediately reached out towards Lockhart's goblet, but before he could thumb the cork off the vial, someone shouted in a miniature version of Lockhart's voice. "He's putting something in the wine!"
Harry gasped, and looked up at where one of the paintings of Lockhart was pointing at him, and gesturing for the real Lockhart to glance back.
"What's all this? What's all this?" Lockhart stared at Harry's hand, frozen over the wine glass, the vial of truth serum poised in his palm. "Harry?" He gave Harry a very uncertain look. "You're not trying to poison me, are you Harry?" He laughed nervously. Harry pulled his hand back at last, but then Lockhart took two great strides to Harry's side and grabbed his wrist, grabbing the vial from his hand.
"No sir." Harry said in a startled tone.
"Then… My word Harry, this is veritaserum isn't it?" Lockhart's expression grew suddenly dark, and Harry stood up quickly from his seat.
"Sir, I can explain, I…"
"Thought you'd get me to spill my secrets, did you?" He asked snidely. "What was your plan then? Or had you thought that far?"
"No, sir, that's not it at all…" Harry backed away, but now Lockhart stalked forwards, looming over him in a rather menacing manner, very much unlike his usual demeanor.
"How much have you figured out? What have I let slip? You've always been astute. I should never have taken you into my confidence. It was the detention, wasn't it? I said something about how I faked the homorphous charm."
"You… faked it? It was all a lie?" Harry found himself asking, "I know you exaggerated in your books, but how did you fool all those people who wrote you fan mail?"
"Oops. You weren't sure about that one." Lockhart looked sheepish, "It's very simple really, and quite ingenious." He shrugged, and Harry realized with a start that Lockhart had his wand in hand. "Of course, my books wouldn't have sold half as well if people didn't think I'd done all those things. No one wants to read about some ugly old Armenian warlock, even if he did save a village from werewolves. He'd look dreadful on the front cover. No dress sense at all. And the witch who banished the Bandon Banshee had a harelip. I mean, come on –"
"How did you do it? You weren't just taking credit for what other people did. People really believe you did those things."
"It wasn't easy. Simple, but not easy." Lockhart grinned again, those flashing teeth much more sinister than Harry remembered them. "First I had to track these people down. Ask them exactly how they managed to do what they did. Then I had to put a memory charm on them so they wouldn't remember doing it. If there's one thing I pride myself on, it's my… That's how you were planning to get away with this?" Lockhart's wand whipped forwards, almost into Harry's face. "Well I'm afraid you'll be the one forgetting this little incident, Harry. I'm truly sorry about this… what's that? A whistle?"
Harry paused, the whistle halfway to his lips. "It's… a luck charm…" Harry lied.
"Well it won't do you any good. Say goodbye to your memories, Harry. I don't know how long you've suspected all of this, so I'll just have to remove everything from the start of the school year. Obliv…"
Suddenly, the door flew open, and a red flash arced from the doorway and launched Lockhart clean across the room, sending various nearby objects swirling about.
Lockhart crashed into the wall, knocked loose several paintings, slumped to the floor, and was still.
Author's Comments: I know many of you were anticipating this chapter, though I hope it still comes largely as a surprise. Yes the timeline here is very different than in the original books, and it's only going to continue diverging. Plenty to sink your teeth into, and I hope you all enjoy this, as always.
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.