"Kids! Come say hello, your brother's back from the hospital to see you!" announced Remus as he and Harry entered the family home.
Harry had just been released from the Hogwarts Hospital Wing, meaning Remus, the only adult not busy with work that day, was given the honour of escorting him home.
Harry knew the parents had planned to bring him home to rest up and recuperate a little before allowing him to return to everyday life back at school, and while he thought their intentions were good, he felt it was a little bit unnecessary. He was perfectly healthy now, plus it felt like ages since he'd last gone to classes and seen his friends, so he was eager to get back to Hogwarts. Still, he wasn't about to turn down an opportunity to see the family, especially considering he spent so much time every year away from them.
He couldn't help but smile as he saw Sarah, Clarissa, Matthew and Joshua bounding down the stairs to say hello to him, though he was even happier that they were all able to refrain from tackling him to the ground in their excitement.
"Harry you're back!" screamed Clarissa, as she buried her head into his chest.
Harry only had time to laugh and ruffle her hair, before everyone started asking questions of him.
"How's your head? It's not hurting you anymore is it?" wondered Sarah as she tried to peer through his untidy mop of hair to see any evidence of a scar or gash.
"Do you know if you're going to be able to continue playing Quidditch this year?" asked Matthew.
"You didn't happen to bring us anything back from Hogwarts did you, Harry?" asked Joshua.
Both Sarah and Clarissa could only shake their heads at the boy's disrespect but Harry just found the questions amusing.
"Guys give him a little space before you going cramming questions down his throat," urged Remus, taking off his coat and hanging it up before trying and failing to unhook Clarissa from her hold around Harry's waist. "And Matthew, you better not let Lily hear that question from you because I don't even want to imagine what she'd do if she did."
All four of the younger kids cringed a little, causing Harry to ask a question of his own for Remus.
"She didn't take this whole injury thing pretty well did she?"
Remus just chuckled as he sat down on the stool to untie his boots, preferring to do it the muggle way as opposed to using his wand.
"Well it's not something to be taken lightly Harry but yes, your mother was very upset after the match, and unless you can somehow prove to her that you're absolutely fine, I don't think you're going to be allowed on a broomstick anytime soon, at least in her eyes."
"But I'm fine now," countered Harry. "Madame Pomfrey's treatment worked perfectly, haven't had a single headache in a little less than a week."
Remus just looked up at him and smiled. "Well that's definitely good news, but Quidditch is a dangerous game. Not only is there the risk of being hit by another Bludger, but there's also collisions, falls, and that's not even factoring in the constant g-forces you put your body through when you're flying through the air. Sorry cub but it's going to take quite a bit of convincing on your part for her to accept you playing the game again."
Harry could only hang his head, knowing how difficult it would be to convince his mother to change her mind. Immediately, he could feel the arms of his younger brothers and sisters wrap around him that much tighter.
"Harry your parents just want what's best for you," said Remus, looking up into his emerald eyes. "Your father knows how much you love the game, and has already came out and said that once you're feeling up to it, he wouldn't stand in the way of you returning to the game. Yes, your mum is a bit of a harder sell but that's only because she worries about you. Just give her some time, and I'm sure she'll allow it. Just know that whatever decision she makes; she does so because she wants what's best for you. If there really is no cause for concern with your health than I'm sure she'll allow you to play because that's what makes you happy. It's only if it's in the best interest of your long-term health will she make you sit out, you get what I'm saying?"
"I think so," said Harry, smiling a little as he nodded his head. "But don't think just because I now understand that parents sometimes have to make the tough calls and hope that the children will understand, that I'm going to let you guys keep me from returning to school this year."
Remus just smiled as he broke out into chuckles, before ushering the five kids into the living room.
Many people may call Harry Potter many things, but one thing he certainly wasn't was stupid.
It certainly looked like they were going to have their hands full with their discussion later that evening in trying to convince Harry that it would be in his best interests to withdraw from Hogwarts.
Back at the castle things were going along as normally.
The Professors were bogged down with all the marking they had to do, and the O.W.L and N.E.W.T students were spending practically every waking minute in the library reading any book they could get their hands on.
Draco Malfoy was being as much of a pompous git as ever, and Fred and George were fulfilling their roles of school pranksters by rightfully putting him back in his place whenever his ego got a little bit too big.
The first years were now progressing smoothly into the more intermediate level work they'd be doing that year, and almost all of them had mastered the levitation charm. While you could say they were just doing what was expected of them, if you compared their success to the struggles of Crabbe and Goyle, you might say they were well ahead in the curriculum given their ages.
The one's who were really missing Harry Potter's absence were his three best friends. Things just weren't the same back at Hogwarts without him, and every day seemed to be that much gloomier in their eyes.
While each of them had their work cut out for them trying to keep their head above water with their own course load, they were also juggling the responsibilities of organising S.P.H.E.R.E meetings, copying notes for Harry, watching over the Polyjuice Potion, and now researching whatever they could find on Tom Marvolo Riddle.
From what little they'd found so far, they knew he'd received an award for special services to the school fifty years ago, around the same time Harry had said the chamber had last been opened.
It had taken quite a bit of snooping around, but eventually, they'd made the connection between the opening of the Chamber of Secrets and Hagrid's expulsion and correctly identified that Hagrid must've been blamed for the event.
When they'd gone to visit him though, Hagrid had been tight-lipped on the subject, and the three young Gryffindors quickly dropped their line of questioning when they'd noticed how uncomfortable the subject made their half-giant friend, focusing instead on how Hagrid's prize-winning pumpkins were doing.
They'd only known Hagrid for a little more than a year, but the idea that Hagrid could've set Slytherin's monster on another student was completely outrageous to them. It was far more likely that Tom Riddle had framed Hagrid into taking the fall for his actions.
Spurred on by the thought of being able to right a wrong done against their gentle friend, the three quarters of the golden foursome that were still at Hogwarts continued their hard work as they anxiously awaited the return of their last member.
"Harry, why is it that you're so insistent on returning to school?" asked Lily from where she sat on one of the couches surrounding the fire place that evening, as the whole family discussed what they were doing with the kids and the imminent danger that awaited Hogwarts that year.
"Yea pup, even the teachers have said there's no real sense of urgency in having you return to classes because you already know everything!" exclaimed Sirius, only to have Lily and Alice shoot him a glare that let him know he was not helping, even though James found it rather amusing.
"We could always home school you, or arrange for private tutors if that's what you like," offered Emma, still hoping to be able to convince the children that withdrawing them from school was in their best interests as she was very much worried about the safety of her daughter if this Malfoy family had employed some dangerous plot to hunt down muggleborns.
"Guy's I know what you're trying to do and while I appreciate your concern, I've already told you a hundred times that I have to do this, I have to go back to school and do what I can to stop anybody else from getting hurt," said Harry, causing several of the adults to hang their heads in defeat, as they knew there was no way any of the other three kids would allow themselves to be withdrawn if Harry was staying at school.
"But Harry, why can't you just let the teachers handle it, we've already got Michael Wood there and we're looking over the situation ourselves. I'm sure there's nothing Malfoy can do without us catching him," said Amelia.
"This isn't about the Polyjuice potion is it?" questioned Lily. "Because if it is we can get somebody else to do it, we can have Michael Wood handle the whole thing and you guys can come home."
Harry just shook his head from his seat on the couch that he shared with his younger brothers and sisters, each of whom we're just happy to be included in one of the parent's nightly discussions.
"This isn't about the Polyjuice potion or the Malfoy family. This is something that only I can do," said Harry, not willing to meet anybody's eye in the room.
The others were silent for quite some time about the whole thing, until Lily picked up on something that the others had overlooked.
"You know something, don't you? There's something you're not telling us," said his mother.
Unfortunately, Harry being the completely useless liar that he was, was unable to conceal the truth in his mother's assessment as his face completely gave him away, even with all the lessons Snape had given him about controlling his emotions.
Knowing that there was no escaping it, Harry decided to just come clean with them.
"Okay yes, this isn't about Malfoy or the Polyjuice, or missing classes for that matter, it's about me stopping Voldemort because that's who's behind these attacks."
Immediately every single person in the room tensed up at this new information, as the only one's Harry had told about the whole thing were his three best friends, all of whom we're currently using their mirrors to participate in the family discussion, though they were doing a lot more listening than participating.
"How… How do you know it's him?" asked Lily, not wanting to believe that that monster was going after her son once again.
"Because Dumbledore said that Voldemort was the one to open the chamber last time when he was a student fifty years ago, only that at that time he went by the name of Tom Marvolo Riddle. Now he's just found a way to use somebody to do his bidding like he did last year with Professor Quirrell to get the stone," said Harry simply, as if the entire topic didn't bother him in the slightest.
The parents, however, we're taking much longer to comprehend this information, as it was clearly unsettling to them.
"Harry, did you ever consider that Dumbledore may be wrong?" asked James hopefully.
Harry just shook his head. "He's not wrong. We think Slytherin's monster is a snake because I can hear the thing's voice whenever there is an attack. Voldemort is the only other parselmouth in over two hundred years so it has to be him."
The parents didn't say anything for quite some time, once again struggling to digest the disturbing information, meaning that Sarah was able to ask the next question.
Harry's heart almost broke when he saw the look on his younger sister's face when she said, "so does this mean you're going to have to face him again?"
Tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ears, Harry pulled her closer to him and wrapped her in a hug, an embrace that the other children were soon to enter.
"I don't want to, and I'm trying to find another way to avoid confronting him, but if I have to I will, I'm the only one that can."
The parents could never describe just how useless they felt as they watched the scene unfold in front of them, powerless to do anything to help their son.
"Harry you said you're trying to find another way to avoid confront with Tom, what did you mean?" asked Alice, glad that he was trying to come up with an alternative way of solving the problem rather than simply combatting the danger head-on.
"I'm uh… I'm going along with a plan of Dumbledore's to showcase my parseltongue abilities to the whole school in the hope that it will draw the real culprit out and make them easier to catch because then they'll be less cautious knowing that the whole school thinks it's me."
This got mixed reviews from the family. Some people like Amelia, Remus and Frank saw the benefit of such an idea, while others thought it was only bringing unnecessary harm to himself. Lily, on the other hand, couldn't think of much else other than how angry she was with Dumbledore for using her son for his own personal plans without even informing them of what was going on.
However, if that confession upset her it was nothing compared to the reaction generated from the family by Harry's next comment.
"Me, Snape and him are already working to try and figure out who he's using as his host this time around, and Snape's giving me private lessons on the side to prepare for when I next have to face him."
At first, the parents were dead silent at this revelation, certain that they must have misheard him. For this reason, you could clearly hear Hermione admonishing Harry's lack of tact and Susan's giggling through the large mirror that was attached to the wall above the fireplace.
Harry could only smile sheepishly, knowing his delivery of the news had been somewhat blunt, but he was rather tired of hiding the charade so even though he had discussed with his three best friends how he'd inform the family about his actual relationship with the Potions Professor, he decided to just come right out and say it.
Once it settled in that he had in fact actually called Severus Snape an accomplice that was when all hell started to break lose.
"Snape," said James disbelievingly. "As in the same Severus Snape that joined Voldemort's death eaters before he was even finished Hogwarts."
Harry just nodded his head, listening as his family vented their outrage.
"As in the same Snape that we fought with every waking moment for seven long years," said Sirius, his tone also disbelieving.
Harry just nodded his head, finding it almost amusing to see the reactions of his parents on the one hand, but on the other slightly terrifying that such a confession could generate such a reaction from them. It certainly made him rethink his plan of inviting Snape over for Christmas that year.
The Marauders were obviously all still recovering from shock, though he was quite happy with this reaction as opposed to the anger he had been expecting, while some of the other adults were simply confused as to why he'd want anything to do with the man as they were well aware of the many awful acts of Severus Snape and the hatred that existed between him and the Potter family. Others were outraged that he was coercing with the criminal, and even more upset to learn of how close Dumbledore and Snape truly were. Lily on the other hand, wasn't saying anything, her face a mask of all emotions as she continued to stare at her son, only her eyes giving away to the many conflicting thoughts and emotions that were running through her head.
"When… When did this happen?" asked Dan, noticing that Frank's vein on his neck looked like it would burst at any moment. Suffice to say, Frank Longbottom did not like Severus Snape.
"Well at the beginning of this year after assuring Dumbledore that a better replacement could be found, he and I came up with a plan where I would prank Lockhart as much as possible until he resigns as the Defence Professor, seeing as we both believed that the man was unfit to teach. While my intentions were originally just to get the pompous fraud removed, Dumbledore being the genius that he is, came up with another one of his brilliant schemes, where we would use the opportunity to allow Snape to give me private tutelage," admitted Harry.
"Okay, we get the part about you and Dumbledore working together," said Emma slowly, as if she was trying to memorise all the information. "We're just a little confused though on what brought about this sudden shift of perception from when you thought Snape was a greasy git."
Harry couldn't help but laugh having never heard Emma swear before, but quickly answered the questions when he saw everybody looking at him and noticing how aggravated many of them were.
"Well, I uh… I never told you guys, but down in the chamber after I managed to defeat Quirrel, Snape was the one that found me. He told me about his past, and how he had taken on the position as a spy for Dumbledore, in Voldemort's camp. He told me about his life, his relationship with my parents, and the mistakes he's made, and we've been working together ever since. You see, pulling pranks was just a front for Snape to give me detentions, but instead of detentions, these were private lessons. The plan allowed for me to pull as many pranks as I desired, and allowed Snape to increase his image of hating Harry Potter, while all the while the man has been giving me private defence lessons," admitted Harry.
By this point, the Marauders had reached the conclusion that Harry was trying to have them on, and we're already applauding his efforts for almost pulling the wool over them.
"This close," said Sirius, standing up and holding his fingers together to show they were only millimetres apart. "You were this close to getting me. You'll have to try better then that though if you're going to usurp me as the reigning story telling king. Next time I'd recommend going with a more believable preface to your lie but otherwise the acting was top notch, you really committed to it. Honestly had me going for a second, but you lost me when you said Snape regretted his life's choices. That bastard deserved everything he got."
"Sirius," chastised Alice, casting a glance over in the direction of the smaller children, hoping they would ignore the more colourful language they were witnessing. "Watch your tongue or I'll have to scourgify it for you."
"I'm not lying," laughed Harry, "look I can prove it."
Taking off his watch, Harry pulled the pensieve out of its storage compartment before concentrating on the specific memories he wanted to show the family. He then put his wand to his temple and pulled out five long silver strands that he then proceeded to lower into the pensieve. With a swish of his wand, the memories began playing as large holograms in the living room, allowing them all to watch instead of having to submerge heir heads in the pensieve itself.
The rest of the family watched transfixed as Harry displayed his memories of his and Snape's discussion down in the chamber, his discussion with Dumbledore about their plan to sack Lockhart and arrange for private defence lessons, a memory of a private Defence lessons between Harry and Snape where the two were working on increasing his spell knowledge, a memory between Harry, Snape and the other three kids where they were working on their Occlumency shields, and a final memory of the discussion Harry had between Dumbledore and Snape while he was in the hospital wing after his crash earlier that month.
Still, no one in the family seemed capable of speech. Even Sarah, Matthew, Joshua and Clarissa were familiar with Snape, having heard plenty of stories about the greasy git and former death eater from the Marauders.
"Look, I know this comes as a bit of surprise to all of you, but you can't tell this to anyone," pleaded Harry. "This is a family secret. If word of this gets out, it could jeopardize Snape's position and his life. We would forever lose are only spy in Voldemort's camp. Mum, dad, I know there's a bit of a divide between you guys and Severus but I'm asking both of you and everyone else to keep an open mind about the man. He really is a good guy; you just have to see through the mask he's built up. All I'm asking is that you give the man a second chance, but don't change the way you act around him in public, we're still supposed to hate each other."
It took a while, but Harry was relieved to see that every single member of the family was eventually able to nod their acceptance, the Marauders doing so rather reluctantly, the majority of them sceptically, but what caught Harry's attention the most was that Lily did so with a small smile on her face.
"I still don't think it was wise to reveal all of your secrets to Snivellus," grumbled Sirius, "even if he is working for us now."
"Why shouldn't I," challenged Harry. "The man laid his soul bare to me, the least I can do is be honest in return. And before you say anything about him deceiving me, Dumbledore has already had the man give testimony under veratiserum and magical oath, so no he's not lying." This seemed to have the desired effect of appeasing any concerns as Sirius quieted down. "The point is Snape's not our enemy, he's a valuable ally and one that can be of great help to us."
"How come you didn't trust us with this sooner, Harry?" asked Frank.
"Frank, I trust each and every one of you with my life. If it was my decision, I wouldn't keep anything from any of you," said Harry. "I told Hermione, Neville and Susan, but that was more so because they pried it out of me. The reason I didn't tell you sooner, was because this wasn't my secret to tell. Snape didn't want to tell anyone other then Dumbledore about his secret, and only told me because Dumbledore made him. He's a man who isn't in a position to trust many people, and it's taken some time for us to help him out of his shell. Together, one of the things Dumbledore and I have been able to convince him of is that if he wants people to put their faith in him, he has to put his faith in them first."
"So Snape's okay with you telling us now?" questioned Lily.
Harry just shrugged his shoulders. "I think he is. He wasn't overly upset when I told him I would tell you guys, but I didn't really give him a say in the matter either."
The adults wanted to ask more questions of him, but at this point, Harry was starting to feel rather tired so he quickly asked if he could take the mirror with him to his room so he could continue to speak with his three friends who were back at Hogwarts.
Recognising that they could always ask him more questions tomorrow, were quick to allow him to leave, with the other four children following hot on his heels, leaving the parents to stay up and continue discussing the shocking revelations they'd just learned that day.
They weren't sure what troubled them more. That their kids would be put in danger by staying in school, that they were actively working with an ex-death eater, or that Voldemort had found another way inside a castle full of children.
One thing was for certain though, Sirius wouldn't be the only one indulging in a bottle of fire-whiskey that evening.
After a week of several long discussions with the parents, and the majority of his time spent reading and playing with his younger brothers and sisters, Harry was ready to once again return to Hogwarts, although his mother had still yet to give him her blessing that he could return to playing Quidditch.
While he wanted to get back to playing, not being able to participate wasn't that big of a concern in Harry's mind, as the next match against Hufflepuff wasn't scheduled until after the Christmas holidays, meaning he had plenty of time to practice and get back in game form before then.
What really concerned Harry was the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets.
His friends had been keeping him posted with every day updates on how the Polyjuice potion was doing, and if Hermione's calculations were correct – which he had every reason to believe they were - it would be ready just before Christmas.
While he knew that Draco wasn't actually behind the attacks, he had high hopes that they'd be able to find some piece of information to help them solve the mystery, preferably before the heir had time to petrify another student.
Every time he thought of Colin Creevy lying petrified he felt his insides turn to stone. He felt awful that the boy would have to spend months in the hospital wing until the mandrakes were ready to be used in a restorative draft, and had high hopes that maybe he'd be able to heal him himself. He had already decided to make visiting Colin in the Hospital Wing the first item on his agenda for his return, so when he did finally say goodbye to the family, he actually used Hedwig to flame right into the Infirmary itself.
Thankfully, Madame Pomphrey wasn't treating a patient at that time so Harry avoided giving somebody a heart attack with his abrasive entrance, but in Harry's defence, it was such a convenient and pleasurable means of travel that he never passed up on an opportunity to have Hedwig flame him somewhere.
Walking quietly over to the only curtained off bed in the room, Harry slipped inside only to find that it wasn't Colin Creevy in the bed but a little first year Hufflepuff girl with a large cast on her right leg.
Thankfully, she had been sleeping at that time so she wasn't aware of his intrusion, otherwise, her scared screams would have no doubt sent the resident healer running into the room to kick him out.
Quickly, Harry slipped back outside the curtain, confused as to where Colin Creevy was.
There was a possibility that they may have sent him off to St. Mungo's to see if there was anything they could do to help the boy, but Harry thought it was more likely that they had moved him into the back room so that nobody would be able to see him.
He had never been in the back room of the Infirmary before, but if the Hogwarts rumour mill was anything to go by, it was sure to be a gruesome scene, as the back room was reserved for only those injuries that were so serious that they didn't want anybody else that might enter the wing to see.
Carefully dispelling the security ward so that he could enter the room, Harry unlocked the door and stepped inside.
Immediately he was able to recognise the form of Colin Creevy, as he was the only one in the room, so Harry quickly hurried over to his bedside.
"Hi Colin," he began in a shaky voice, not really knowing what to say to the petrified younger Gryffindor. "I don't know if you can hear me, but I'm going to try and heal you like I did to my parents when they were petrified."
Tentatively taking a hold of one of the boy's hands, Harry concentrated with all his might about forcing some of his magic through the connection, and into the other boy, noticing with relief that this action didn't make him feel at all dizzy, further proof that he had made a nice full recovery from his concussion.
After nearly a minute, he could feel his insides churning, his forehead became very sweaty and his palms clammy, and only when he felt like he wouldn't be able to do it, Harry was able to re-create that golden glow he had made so many years ago and transfer it to the petrified body of Colin Creevy.
However, his jubilation was quickly filled with despair when Colin didn't react.
For five minutes, he waited there; staring down at the still form in front of him, before he tried again, and once again got the same results.
"I promise you, Colin, I will find out who did this to you and bring them down," said Harry, "I'm only sorry I can't heal you… but I won't give up, I'll figure out a way, you have my word."
"A valiant effort no doubt," said a distinctly feminine voice from behind him, "but maybe you should consider leaving this kind of thing to the professionals?"
Whirling around, Harry came face to face with Madame Pomphrey when the witch cast a quick Lumos charm to light up the room. Thankfully, she didn't look overly annoyed to have caught Harry in her ward after hours but instead was actually smiling at him.
"Unfortunately Mr Potter no spell can help Mr Creevy and while I certainly appreciate your attempt to help, I've already gone through every procedure in the book on how to cure someone of his state and nothing has worked. I can't imagine what could have done this to him, but this wasn't the result of any kind of spell. We will have to wait until a restorative draft can be brewed from the Mandrakes in Professor Sprout's greenhouse, but that will take months."
Dejectedly, Harry turned away from Colin's bed to leave, but not before Madame Pomphrey had one more thing to say to him.
"Next time Mr Potter, try to stay out of my ward, I'm sure I will have enough on my hands this year, I don't need to have you visiting me every time you have a Quidditch game."
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Harry couldn't help but manage a small smile at that, unable to pass up such a golden opportunity for a teasing last remark. "But Mrs Pomphrey, how else would we be able to have these nice chats then?"
He could've sworn he saw the healer roll her eyes at this comment, but then again he could've been wrong. It was kind of hard to see one's facial features when that same person was pushing you in the back out of the hall.
Chuckling weakly, Harry made his way back to the Gryffindor Common room, deciding that he could always catch up with his friends the next morning when they were awake.
As it turned out though, they found him on the fourth floor, thanks to a little help from the Marauders Map.
"Harry mate, you're back!" said Neville, pulling him into a friendly embrace and slapping him on the back.
Harry just laughed as Hermione and Susan wriggled there way into the hug, upset that Neville had been able to get to him first.
"I swear it's been like forever since you were last up and about back here," said Susan.
"It's true," nodded Hermione. "Things have been so weird around here with you missing in action."
"Well I'm back now," said Harry smiling.
"Good, and you're not going anywhere soon," said Neville pulling out of the embrace. "C'mon we'll show you the Polyjuice Potion and we can talk some more along the way."
Smiling Harry followed his friends as they filled him in on how Malfoy had been running his mouth ever since the match between the two houses, only to have the Weasley twins prank him one morning in the Great Hall by transfiguring his Slytherin school robes into Gryffindor Quidditch robes, complete with the Potter name and everything.
Snape had given them a month's worth of detentions scrubbing cauldrons and shovelling bags of dragon dung fertiliser outside the greenhouses for that act, but apparently, both Fred and George thought it was well worth it.
Harry couldn't help but laugh when Susan informed him that the twins had taken the opportunity to tamper with the cauldrons that the Slytherins used during Potions class, and had already found a clever use for the dragon dung fertiliser by using it in one of their home made stink bombs. The rumour going around Gryffindor was that they were planning to dump a whole bunch of them into the Slytherin Common room as an end of year prank, but nothing was for certain.
"You think those two are ever going to let up on the Slytherins?" Neville asked as they rounded the corner to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.
"Not a chance," said Susan emphatically to which Harry and Hermione both laughed but nodded their heads in agreement, causing Neville to smile.
"They're only making the divide between the two houses worse though," said Hermione to which the others just shrugged their shoulders.
"Yea but Gryffindors and Slytherins have always hated each other and probably always will. Honestly, now that we know Snape's actually a decent guy and not a biased jerk, the rivalry doesn't even bother me," said Neville, following Susan and Hermione into the abandoned girl's bathroom.
"True, do you think Snape will start giving us lessons again now that Harry's back?" asked Hermione, as she watched Susan push open the stall door to where the cauldron of Polyjuice Potion was resting on top of a toilet.
"Wait Snape hasn't been teaching you guys?" questioned Harry, to which the others just shook their heads.
"We figured he just stopped when you weren't available since the lessons were mostly meant for you, so hopefully it starts up again now that you're back," said Hermione, to which Harry nodded his head, promising to have a word with their potions professor on the subject at the next opportunity.
"Speaking of Snape, didn't you tell him you'd hold off until the holidays to tell the parents about the whole secret," questioned Neville, causing Harry to colour slightly as he scratched the back of his neck.
Choosing to ignore Susan's laughter, Harry simply responded, "I don't know, it just seemed like the opportune moment you know? Besides, I don't actually have to tell him I've told them until Christmas and it's not as if our parents are going to jump at the opportunity to write to him or anything so I should be fine."
His friends nodded their head in acceptance, but while they seemed to have a clear conscience about the whole thing, Harry's mind was drifting off to all the potentially problematic scenarios. His mother and Snape had apparently once been best of friends and if she wrote to him, Snape would surely find out he'd told. Realising what he had to do, Harry decided he'd come clean to the Potions Professor the next time they had the opportunity to speak privately.
"Okay enough talk about the Slytherins now, we can devise another prank on them later, come look at the potion," said Susan.
Pushing all thoughts of Snape from his mind, Harry stepped forward with a smile on his face, before he quickly pulled his head back.
The potion itself looked revolting, a very ugly shade of grey that bubbled under the fire that they'd lit inside of the toilet underneath the cauldron with an incendio charm.
The others just laughed at his reaction but assured him that he'd get used to the awful smell the more time he spent around it.
Harry wasn't so sure about that but stayed close nonetheless while he watched Susan and Hermione stir the potion and add a bit of crushed boomslang skin. This caused it to temporarily shift from an ugly grey to a dark maroon, before once again changing back to its original colour.
"Well now that that's done, we should probably get back to bed, wouldn't want anybody to catch us up out of bed after curfew now would we?" said Neville, once again getting out the Marauders Map to check to see if the coast was clear.
"I take it you guys have become quite adept at sneaking around the castle now in the dark?" questioned a smiling Harry, causing Neville and Hermione to colour slightly while Susan beamed a proud smile and nodded her head.
"We haven't been able to duplicate your disillusionment charm yet, but we've all mastered silencing charms, plus we have the invisibility cloak and the Marauders Map to help us out, so avoiding Filch and the prefect patrols has been pretty easy," said Neville.
Smiling, Harry took the opportunity to disillusion himself while the other three slipped under the invisibility cloak.
"Oh and another thing we didn't tell you, Harry, we decided to put a tracking charm on the Marauders Map, that way not only do we always know where it is, but it's easier for you or any one of us that's disillusioned to follow whoever's using it while they're under the invisibility cloak," said Susan.
Harry was stunned, just now realising what a great idea that was. "Wow, who came up with that?"
"Who do you think came up with that idea," said Neville sarcastically, causing Hermione to purposely step on his foot and the other two to start laughing.
"C'mon let's just get back to the common room, it's getting pretty late and I'm exhausted," said Harry, allowing the others to escort him back to Gryffindor tower.
He couldn't wait to see his four-poster bed again.
The first day back was pretty hectic for Harry, mostly because everyone in Gryffindor wanted to talk to him and he had to focus on trying to catch up on everything he missed in classes.
Still, he made a point of taking the time to sit down and talk to his teammates, as he had not spoken to them since the game against Slytherin.
He could tell that the Weasley twins had something planned for his return up their sleeves, and Harry was sure that if he had told anybody he would be returning last night there would have been a surprise party awaiting him in the Gryffindor Common room.
The girls made Oliver Wood apologise for his part in Harry's injury, but Harry merely waved off his apology, saying he didn't hold anything against him and it was his ultimately his decision to do what he did. In the end, now that the injury was behind him, all that mattered was the win for Gryffindor, a sentiment that Oliver Wood shared with him entirely, even if other members of the team didn't.
Unfortunately, his good mood didn't last too long as Harry confessed that he wasn't yet ready to return to Quidditch as his parents had still refrained from giving him permission to play, though he was hoping to do so after the Christmas holidays.
Each of the team members was very supportive, which of course made Harry very happy, and he even offered to Oliver that he would help him find and train a replacement seeker if one were needed for their next game against Hufflepuff. Oliver however just shrugged it off and told him not to worry about it, as he was secretly hoping that it wouldn't have to come to that. They needed Harry back in time for the next game. He was probably the best seeker Gryffindor had ever had and he knew if he was playing then they were almost guaranteed to win.
The girls, however, wouldn't let Harry worry about things like that for very long, as they pulled him away to show him the surprise they had prepared for his return.
He didn't know what to expect but he certainly wasn't complaining when the three chasers gave him a back massage for over an hour. In fact, it was probably one of the most comfortable and pleasurable experiences he'd ever had in his life.
Angelina, Alicia and Katie were all happy that their idea had been so well received and promised that they could make it a recurring occurrence if Harry was prepared to give them the occasional foot rub in exchange.
Harry had no problem accepting this deal after just experiencing how relaxing a massage was and was actually pretty keen to be able to learn and was certain that this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. He trusted his teammates completely and after sharing a locker room with them for more than a year was pretty comfortable around them.
The girls were just happy that they had finally found someone aside from themselves to give each other foot massages after a long day's practice on the Quidditch pitch, or the occasional time when they had to wear uncomfortable high heel shoes.
Three days later after Harry had re-adjusted to attending classes and living in the castle, Snape had held Harry back after Potions to inform him of what the Slytherins were plotting.
He was able to tell him not only where the attack would take place, but also when the blindside was to be expected as he had played a fairly large part in planning the whole attack himself. In return, Harry told Snape that he had revealed his secret to his family and that each member had sworn to think of him with an open mind and to give him a second chance to prove himself.
Snape was sceptical about the whole thing and was clearly unhappy that Harry had told them before the agreed time and doing so without notifying him.
Harry tried not to let this bother him. He felt bad for going against Snape in a way but knew he had to focus on the task at hand, and right now that was the plan with the Slytherins.
His friends had already made up their minds that they'd be accompanying Harry into the Slytherin ambush, which meant that there wasn't anything Harry could say to deter the three of them. In the end, Harry had to settle on making each one of them promise not to react unless the situation got out of hand and he or a bystander were in danger.
The three had no choice but to accept this, as they knew that the whole point of the ambush was the opportunity for Harry to reveal his parseltongue abilities, they were just concerned about what other spells the Slytherins would use before they did what they were supposed to and conjured a snake. They wouldn't put it past them to cast a few curses at Harry if they were given the opportunity, so they wanted to be there to help if they could, even if Harry was trying to relegate them to crowd control.
It was for this reason, that when Harry and his three best friends found themselves walking back from the library that Sunday afternoon, they intentionally walked right into the Slytherin ambush they knew was awaiting them.
"Hey I forgot to ask you, how's S.P.H.E.R.E been going in my absence?" said Harry, trying to make light conversation as to put on a front like they weren't aware of their surrounding.
Hermione just smiled and responded, knowing exactly what Harry was doing. "Pretty good, we're almost up to sixty members now, we've already sent a petition to the ministry to have them revoke the most archaic rule that permanently bounds a family of elves to a wizarding family, but we haven't heard back from them so we've started raising money to buy a space in the Daily Prophet so that everyone can read about our cause."
Harry just nodded his head, impressed by everything they'd done, but it was at this time that the Slytherins decided to reveal themselves and attack.
Harry was well aware of the effect of the first spell they cast and allowed the levicorpus to hit him directly, causing his body to be immediately lifted and hung upside down. He'd seen the Marauders use this spell against each other countless times and had even experienced it himself twice before and therefore had no problem retaining his wand.
Looking down, he could see Malfoy, Marcus Flint, and the rest of the Slytherin team smiling greedily up at him.
Harry wasn't worried though; he still had his wand in his hand and was confident he could take them all on at once if he needed to. No, what really troubled him was that there was no one in this section of the corridor beside his three best friends to witness the scene.
Immediately, he sent them a pleading look and begged them to run while they still could, hoping that they'd understand his true meaning as to go and get help so that they'd have an alibi to confirm the rumours when it was revealed that Harry Potter really was a parselmouth.
They looked like they wanted to argue like they were going to stay, but thankfully they understood what he was hinting at and did what they were told.
"Ha! Some Gryffindors your friends are Potter, look at them run away, abandoning you to our mercy," laughed Malfoy as his teammates behind him chuckled, each one of them holding their wand at their side.
"I think I've proven by now Malfoy that I can take you without help," said Harry through gritted teeth, fighting against the invisible hold yet purposefully neglecting from using his magic so that it made it look like despite his struggles he could not escape the Slytherins spell.
The Slytherins just laughed as they watched him squirm before a few of them got a little bit more adventurous and decided to start casting a few hexes at him.
Malfoy cast a curse that caused his toenails to grow longer, one which Harry had to admit was quite painful considering there was no space for them to grow inside of his shoes. He quickly focused on his wandless magic and was able to counter the curse before the pain could increase but at his point, Adrian Pucey decided to cast a bone breaker at his left arm.
Now Harry was getting mad, this was not part of the plan, they were only supposed to conjure a snake. Snape should have been there to make sure the whole thing didn't get out of hand.
Angry, he quickly dispelled the levicorpus, flipping in the air so that he landed on his feet before healing his broken arm.
At this point, the Slytherins seemed to have recognised that they'd just gotten themselves into a troubling situation, but Harry, despite his anger, was still thinking rationally.
If the Slytherins weren't willing to conjure a snake then he'd just have to do it himself, he just had to wait until his friends arrived back with eyewitnesses first. Originally the plan was to have the Slytherins cast the spells and for Harry to simply reveal his parseltongue abilities, preferably before a small crowd of witnesses, but now it didn't look like that would happen. He knew their story would go over a lot better if it looked like Harry was using the snakes to attack, but if he went on the offensive too early, he ran the risk of chasing the other students away before his friends could return.
Unfortunately, Harry didn't have much choice in the matter, as Draco decided now was the time to pull out the big guns, using his wand to conjure not one, but two large cobras.
If that wasn't bad enough Marcus Flint decided to enlarge them with a quick engorgio charm, and also made them aggravated by firing off an incendio charm at their tails.
Thankfully, Harry could see that his friends chose this time to arrive back on the scene, bringing with them Justin Finch Fletchy and Cedric Diggory, all of who were quickly approaching the scene to try and break up the fight, or at least they were until they saw the two very large cobras.
Immediately Justin froze, standing stock still while Hermione, Neville, Susan and Cedric continued to cautiously approach, inching their way closer to Harry and the two very large snakes.
Seizing his opportunity once he realised they were within hearing distance, Harry began speaking to the snakes.
Draco and the Slytherins were completely caught off guard when they heard Potter start speaking in some strange language they couldn't understand, but that was nothing compared to the confusion they had watching the effect this had on the two snakes.
The cobras, who were initially advancing on Harry, stopped what they were doing and almost seemed to tilt their head to the side and examine him before they slithered closer to him.
Surprisingly, Harry didn't even bat an eye when one cobra decided to slither up his leg and draped itself over his shoulder. Behind him, Justin looked like he wanted to bolt as fast as he could but found that he his legs were rooted to the ground in fear, while Hermione, Neville, Susan and Cedric were all watching Harry mesmerised.
"You're a… You're a parselmouth!" gasped Malfoy, as Harry smirked and whispered something to the snake that was still on the ground, causing it to turn around and turn towards the Slytherins.
Four of them immediately ran for it, leaving behind Malfoy, Marcus Flint, and Adrian Pucey to defend themselves as the three Slytherins stood rooted to the spot, much like Justin Finch Fletchy was doing several meters away, watching the whole scene with wide eyes.
The cobra proceeded to slither up Malfoy's leg, much like the other one had done to Harry, though Draco was clearly terrified of this action, while Harry was the picture of calmness.
The Slytherin boy was whimpering loudly, as he felt the snake drape itself over his shoulder like its counter part had done to Harry.
He looked like he was about to wet himself before Harry finally said something else in parseltongue, giving them directions to escape to the Forbidden forest through the doors at the end of the corridor, and to not harm any student they came across in their path.
The two snakes did so, slithering off of Malfoy's and Harry's shoulders respectively before they passed where Hermione, Neville, Susan and Cedric were standing. The four were understandably quite uncomfortable watching two very large poisonous snakes slither over their toes, but it was nothing compared to Justin's reaction when the two cobras slithered past him. One snake had stopped to smell the boy that was practically oozing fear, and Harry had to once again speak out in parseltongue at the snake that was now rearing up and looking threatening.
No one else in the corridor had a clue what Harry had said to the snake as it was obvious that he was now speaking parseltongue to control the animals, but the snake didn't seem to react to his command, prompting Harry to have to repeat it, only this time louder and angrier.
It really sounded like he was ordering the snake to attack, but thankfully Snape and Michael Wood appeared at that moment and between the two of them, they were able to quickly vanished the snake before any harm could be done.
Everyone was looking at Harry questionably with wide eyes, and Harry was quick to leave the scene.
He had played his job to perfection as far as he was concerned. He had revealed his abilities while preventing anyone from actually getting hurt. There may have been a slight altercation that would have been nice to avoid but in the end, the two professors had been there to eliminate the threat. If anything he was a little mad with Snape that the man hadn't been there earlier, preferably when his Slytherins were abusing their power and casting curses at him, but begrudgingly he had to admit that that was just the personal sacrifice he was expected to make in agreeing to putting himself at risk. He wasn't sure if the Potions Professor's late arrival could be attributed to him being angry with him over the whole telling his family about his true identity thing, but he certainly hoped that wasn't the case.
Still, at the end of the day, he was sure that they would get the result they wanted, as Justin's and Cedric's presence had ensured that the story would spread around the school.
All he had to do now, was sit back and let the Hogwarts rumour mill do his job.
AN: Leave a review and let me know what you think of this chapter. It caused me quite a few problems while writing it, so I'm rather self-conscience about it. Next chapter will feature the reaction of the school to seeing Harry's special ability, a certain Hufflepuff being petrified, another scene with Hagrid, and possibly the polyjuice potion if I can work it in.
Thanks for reading!