Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I claim ownership of anything that I write about which is previously claimed by J.K. Rowling. I am writing this piece of fiction solely for the purpose of writing and am gaining nothing from this in the way of compensation.
The creature of legend didn't disappoint Harry in its majesty. Forest-green scales glittered in the low light of the sconces that lined ancient walls, a red plume arching its way down a tree-trunk neck. Acidic-yellow eyes burned with the intensity of the magic that only one of its age and power could, staring at him with what he assumed was curiosity.
It was larger than anything he'd expected. Daring a quick glance at its body, he realized it must be nearly thirty meters long.
He could see Nagini bowing her head in submission before the magnificent myth, showing humility he thought her incapable of. The large tongue shot out of an even larger mouth, scenting him and Nagini in an attempt to get a read on them.
He bowed his head lightly, still meeting the gaze of the Basilisk. -I am known asss Harissson Potter, great ssserpent. May I know what you are called?-
It blinked languidly, its demeanor showing great indifference. He mentally berated himself. Parseltongue protecting him from the penetrating gaze or not, it could still kill him rather easily with a single nick of fang. He was pretty sure that Nagini was having an internal conniption for daring to ask its name.
-You hold the sssame majik asss my creator, youngling. Are you one of Sssalazar'sss dessscendentsss?-
Grateful for it to have dismissed his cheek, he slowly took in a breath. Time to see if it would turn hostile.
-No. I hold the magic of Ssslytherin and the Gauntsss becaussse the lassst member of the houssse attacked me in cold blood. My magic asss the lassst heir of Godric called for blood retribution in retaliation. I gained the title of Heir-Lord Gaunt and the magic through thisss.- He willed his magic to churn in anticipation of a negative reaction as he spoke.
Its eyes sharpened into a predatory glare, and he could see the formerly placid magic in the death stare ignite into a maelstrom of heady power. It lasted only a few seconds before the creature allowed its gaze to return to its previous state.
-I sssenssse no deceit in your wordsss, youngling. I ssshall make my own judgementsss-
Harry sighed slightly through his nose before he rose from his bow, noticing that Nagini had as well. He decided to leave her be, as her demeanor was distinctly off-putting. Then again, she was in the presence of her king for all that it mattered.
Under the watchful Basilisk, he realised he'd never been given its name after he asked, he decided to wander around the cavernous chamber. Walking along the walls, he tried to feel anything that was connected to the Gaunt magic or any hidden inscriptions or indicators that something more lied within, but he was left slightly disappointed by the lack on any, well, secrets. He realised the name could have been alluding to the unknown creature it supposedly held, but that thought felt empty to him.
It could have just been the teenager in him wishing to explore, though.
Deciding that he would ask the yet-identified Basilisk once he got to know it on a more personal level, he headed towards the entrance.
The door closed behind him with a slam.
Harry was sitting on his bed in the hidden dorm, absently patting Nagini's scales. He hadn't expected to see her, wondering how she had gotten to his room after he knew he'd left her behind with the Basilisk. Apparently it had told her of an entrance to the Chamber that was hidden by another false wall. Salazar that smug arse hadn't felt the need to tell him...
The thought drifted away as quickly as it came, leaving him to think over Slytherin House in general.
Theo had been an unexpected, yet completely appreciated help when it came to getting his foot in the door with many of the others who were either too weary by his connection to Salazar and Nagini or patronising of his bloodline.
He snorted at that, thinking of all the pomp and class he had to present himself with in their presence, the skill that he had to wield his magic with before they were even close to considering the thought of listening to his ideas. They might have been interested in his clout as an heir, but a large part of his appeal from the opening feast had dwindled when they realised he wasn't anyone's fool.
There was also the small fact that he was sure the snakes knew about his two houses, as much as they could given the limited information available. After a week or so of them treating him with wariness or curiosity not dissimilar to an insect under a microscope, there came a lul in which none dared approach him for any reason whatsoever.
Well, knowing that many of their parents were at the very least sympathizers and the common knowledge of Voldemort's connection to Salazar matching his connection to the Gaunts, he'd probably do the same in their position.
One small inconvenience, however reluctant to use that term, was Hermione.
She was a wonderful person who had a mind that terrified him. He could imagine what she could have done had she been given a different lot in life with a different blood status. The mere thought of her ravenous brain giving him shivers with its ability to absorb all knowledge, especially magical.
Thinking back on Hermione a little more, he realised that he was going to have to work hard to be able to get her ready to accept the position she was in. Getting her to accept her family magic would be easy, only requiring her to go to Gringotts and access her ring.
No, the real difficulty was convincing her to actually hold steady to the belief that she was who he and Nikita claimed.
After a few moments of silence, just staring blankly with his thoughts, a small ping in the wards alerted him to the fact that someone was standing outside of Salazar's portrait in the common room, Theo apparently.
Curious, Harry stood to the displeasure of Nagini, and walked to stand before the mirror that showed what was on the other side of the portrait, the mirror being the exit to the rooms.
Theo looked terrible, shaking slightly and paler than he usually was. His eyes though are what got Harry to react immediately, wide and frantic with the pupil shrunk in terror.
He reached through, grabbing Theo's arm and forcefully dragging the boy through to him. He was just glad that it was night time and everyone else was in their dorms by now.
Theo's head snapped to him, and before Harry could react, he was besieged by the trembling boy, being held against him as he felt tears leak through to his night-shirt.
Startled by the seriously out-of-character actions of his friend, he gently pried himself away and led him by the hand over to the sofa by the fireplace. As they sat there he took a deep breath and decided to get to the point of the matter.
He put one hand on Theo's shoulder and looked deeply into the other boy's eyes. "What's going on Theo? What's wrong?"
Theo shocked him by letting out a choked sob, before reaching into his breast pocket on his night-shirt and retrieving a piece of parchment. He clutched it tightly to his chest, letting out another strangled sob before holding it out to him with and increasingly trembling hand.
Curiosity mixing in with his worry, and small panic at these unexpected actions, he gently took the parchment and unfolded it, noticing with some horror the small splatters of blood on the bottom right corner.
My dearest Theodore,
I send you this in the hopes that you will receive it before your father finds me. He, my little Theo, he found out about my, OUR, plans to leave, to hide.
He went into a rage unlike anything I've ever seen before...It was hideous, his face contorted into a look that his former master would have approved of.
Please, Theo please. Take anything you have with you, call Minty and have her collect all of your possessions from the manor. Leave, when the school year ends you must run, hide, find any way to stay away from your father. His own words were not good for you my beloved son.
No matter what happens, you must flee, live, enjoy life and make your own path like I've always told you.
He is almost here, I must hurry for the temporary wards I've placed are beginning to fail. I love you Theo, more than you could ever realise with all of my heart.
My baby boy...
The letter ended there, and he felt himself go slightly numb to the world around him. Looking to where Theo sat on his left, it seemed he had gone slightly catatonic, staring blankly into nothing as tears continued to flow unimpeded down his cheeks, his body motionless as a mannequin.
He had no idea what to do with this information. He had no idea what to do, having never dealt with a situation like this before in his, admittedly, sheltered and reclusive upbringing. Deciding that talking it out, like he did with Nagini to understand any issues he might have, would be the best course of action.
He set the letter on the small end table by his side, turning to Theo again. Taking Theo's hands, he took in a breath to steady himself before speaking gently.
"Theo, I need you to look at me okay? Look at me, and tell me what's going on."
Theo turned towards him almost mechanically, his eyes still blank. When he spoke, it was in a deadened whisper so different than the solid, sarcastic voice he was used to he had to suppress a flinch.
"She's dead, Harry." his voice cracked a little "She's dead and it's because of me."
Harry took a deep breath and asked one more question.
"Why do you think it's your fault?" He questioned as gently as he could given the situation.
He didn't expect Theo to drag him into an embrace, to sob out a story of his life growing up, but as he did Harry became both enraged and sickened. Who could do that to their own child? Who could do that to their wife for some asinine belief that she had 'betrayed' him.
It made sense of some other things that he'd noticed in their short friendship, why the slightly taller boy was so clingy sometimes, why he was always more attentive than Hermione when Harry spoke. Harry was the only person he had left in the world now who truly cared for him. Sighing, Harry gave the boy a tight hug before sitting back on the sofa and looking directly at him, though Theo's eyes were downcast.
Taking hold of Theo's chin, he forced him to look into his eyes, to see what he was about to say was true.
"I know this is sudden, especially after what you learned tonight..." he cleared his throat "But I'd like you to consider an offer I'm going to make, okay?"
Theo just nodded slightly, looking so lost it made something in Harry's chest ache.
"You won't be safe to go home now," Theo choked back a sob, making Harry grimace in sympathy "so I'd like to offer you to come live with me at my family manor once school ends this June." There, he'd laid it out for Theo to take if he wished.
Theo jerked back slightly at the unexpected offer before his eyes shuttered. He bit his lip, seemingly in indecision. He looked at Harry with a sad, bitter smile.
"No. Harry, I-I can't move in with you. I ca-can't p-put you in danger like that. You're all I have left. I got my mother killed, and I won't do the same thing to you, I couldn't take it!" He shook his head vehemently at that last sentence.
Deciding to nip that problem in the bud, as he'd dealt with a similar crisis when he'd learned that Voldemort had gone after him and he'd been the only one of his family to survive.
He shook his head slowly before gripping Theo's shoulders in a tight hold, making the other wince. "No Theo. The night that Voldemort came after me-" Theo made a startled noise in the back of his throat "I'll explain later. But even though I survived, do you think my parents who died to protect me would want me to blame myself, to take away the love of their sacrifice?
Theo shook his head absently, making Harry smile a small smile. "Then why do you think it's okay to take away the love of your mother's sacrifice in the same way?"
The other boy looked torn for a moment, before he laughed a pained, slightly hysterical laugh. He dragged Harry into his arms once more, to the other's slight chagrin, but Harry accepted it when Theo leaned in next to his ear and whispered "Yes"
The two boys stayed curled up on the sofa for the rest of the night, one comforting and the other taking comfort. They eventually fell asleep, where Nagini draped herself comfortingly around her hatchling and the other nestling.
Marigold Nott nee Greengrass smiled down on her son and his friend, gently floating over to kiss each on the forehead once. As the boys shivered slightly, cuddling together more to ward off perceived cold, she smiled mischievously. As she disappeared, the only things left behind was the sound of bell-like laughter.
The next few weeks were different to say the least, in Harry's opinion.
He'd gone back to the Chamber a few more times, now that he knew of the entrance in his room, and spoke more with the Basilisk, still unnamed, to try and learn anything new. Well, he learned that the creature had a dry wit and biting tongue to match anyone else, usually leaving him breathless in laughter. It also was the best storyteller, weaving tales of adventure and drama, action and suspense, the stories of the times of the Founders.
The time he spent with Nikita, Niki as she'd insisted, was beneficial for both of them, as she knew more about the castle and its mysteries than he did, him having more political weight to add to their plans when they would commence.
She was as strict as she usually was in class, making no room for any perceived nonsense, but there was hardly any time for anything like that when they both got deep into planning reform and restructuring for the school of their ancestors.
The biggest difference, that even others could see, was how Theo interacted with him. Before, he'd been clingy in the sense of time and attention he received from Harry, but now it was literally hard to find him not within a couple feet from the black-haired boy. There was also the literal hugging that went on in Harry's room at night now that Theo stayed there permanently.
After the death of his mother, which still makes him slightly upset even if he was getting better with time, the other boys had decided that he was perfect material for their acidic comments and hateful words. When Theo had come to him one morning with red-rimmed eyes and tear tracks on his cheeks, Harry had taken no time to have him set up in his room with another bed. Though that bed still was barely used, as Theo liked to cuddle him when they slept to ward off nightmares and seek comfort.
They were currently sitting at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall, enjoying the feast and atmosphere that the spooky decorations made. He made to grab one more slice of treacle tart, his guilty pleasure, when all the noise died down. Looking up at what was wrong, he was surprised to see a misty, smokey white and blue bear standing before the Headmaster, before it began to speak.
'There has been an attack on Diagon Alley. One-hundred enemies in Death Eater garb have set it ablaze with Fiendfyre. We need immediate backup Professor. I repeat, one-hundred suspected Death Eaters are attacking Diagon Alley.'
You could hear a pin drop in the ensuing silence before screams and shouts broke out through the room in the panic that statement caused. He held his ears slightly with a wince as Professor Dumbledore stood shooting off something akin to purple fireworks from his wand.
He held said wand to his throat before his voice boomed out around us. "Attention students. I must attend to this immediately, but you shall all be safe. The other professors shall stay here with you in the Great Hall tonight as the castle shall be sealed off from exterior threats. Please follow the directions of your Heads of House. Thank you."
He pulled out a pendant from underneath his robe as it hung from his neck, showing a silver colored Phoenix in flight. He tapped his wand to it and muttered something before the pendant flashed a deep blue. He nodded at his fellow professors before doing the impossible, disapparating inside of Hogwarts.
His mind raced furiously as he thought of what this could mean. Had Voldemort regained a body already? Had the Death Eaters decided to cause havoc for no other reason than to do so? Were they even Death Eaters?
The professors all stood and began to seal the door, making it disappear completely from view as though it melded into the walls. The windows behind the professor's table also slowly began to meld into the walls, leaving no entrance for anyone to gain access tot he room and its students.
Order was quickly called again, and the feast returned to normal, well as normal as it could be in this situation.
When the feast had ended, the professors waved their wands at the tables, making them vaish. McGonagall then muttered a spell that filled the hall with sleeping bags, meaning they would be staying the night here. He grabbed one in a corner, which was quickly followed by Hermione and Theo, as they decided to speak to each other.
Hermione was nibbling on her bottom lip, obviously worried at the presence of the muggle and muggleborn hating terrorists. Theo was stone-face, his hands clenched into fists so tight that his knuckles turned white. Harry was about to say something to reassure them, but he felt a subtle twitch in the magic of the castle.
'-Boy, there isss sssomething going on with the wardsss.-'
He jerked back, startling his two friends. '-Sssalazar?-'
He heard a derisive snort in his mind. '-Yesss, you foolisssh child. But that isss not important! Sssomething isss attempting to breach the wardsss.-'
Harry felt the color in his face drain quickly, making he two others even more worried than before. He stood quickly, gaining attention across the hall, before he hurriedly made his way towards McGonagall.
She took notice of his worried face and pallid color instantly, motioning Professor Snape over as well.
He quickly stood in front of her, not giving her any time to react. He whispered, "Professor, can you make a silence barrier around us? Please, it's urgent." She looked startled, but nodded in compliance.
When the are was secure enough, he hurriedly explained at her and Snape's looks.
"Salazar contacted me. Someone is trying to breach the wards!"
Snape looked at him incredulously, obviously not believing or understanding, actually, but McGonagall took one look at his face and paled dramatically.
She looked like she was going to speak, but a painful throb exploded in his head, bringing him to his knees. He could hear Niki's loud exclamation too, meaning only one thing.
The wards were beginning to fail.
He quickly staggered to his feet, ignoring the worried looks that the two professors were giving him. He turned towards the Lady Smith and caught her eye, her nodding along to their non-verbal communication.
He strode out of the silencing barrier, where other students and professors were looking at him and Niki in worry and a lot of confusion. He and she quickly made it to Hermione, who along with an almost panicked Theo was looking on nervously. Another agonizing throb nearly put him down, making him want to throw up at the nausea that it caused him.
Niki bore it better, bringing out her wand and putting up and even more powerful silencing barrier than McGonagall had. She turned towards me, and I could see the strain of the pain and magic in her eyes, which told me to get on with it.
He knelt down to Hermione's level, looking her in the eye with as much seriousness as he could. The didn't have time for subtle encouragement anymore, this was life or death.
He spoke slightly harshly, but more urgently, which she noticed and paid that much more attention. "Hermione, I'm going to do something extremely risky, okay? I need you to let me do this, or we'll be in big trouble." She swallowed nervously.
Another throb nearly made him pass out it was so strong. He needed to do this now!
"Look into my eyes, and don't fight anything you feel okay? Let it come to you."
She looked like she was about to say something, but he didn't give her a chance.
He felt the connection form immediately, something that he had been perfecting with Niki when he had the chance. However, instead of reading her memories, he forced some of his own down the connection for her to see. The heirs, the Dagworth-Grangers, he and Niki talking, the ceremony at Gringotts.
Breaking the connection when another strong throb came, he looked into her slightly glazed eyes, but he felt deeper with his magic, looking for the connection he knew would be there if this had worked.
Nothing, he could feel nothing, and he was about to curse at his wast of time when he felt it.
Small, humming, the connection to the blue-bronze founder formed statically inside her resevoir, making him sag with relief before collecting himself.
Her eyes sharpened far more than he had ever seen them, the thoughts behind hazel working at a speed he would never be able to match. She looked at him once, then Niki, before nodding.
There was a loud cracking in the air, followed by the screams of the students and the cries from Niki and Harry, only slightly from Hermione with her relatively weak bond, meaning she couldn't feel the burning torture that the crack in the wards caused the other two.
Willing themselves to fight the pain, all three began focusing on letting out the familial magics of the founders, letting them pool together as they all connected hands. The magic reacted instinctively to the threat to the school and its heirs, pulling its own portion of the Fouders family magics into the pot before all three heirs pushed with strength none of them knew they had. There was a moment, before they could all feel the crack in the wards meld itself closed, strengthening the whole scheme exponentially.
The others in the hall noticed when the walls of Hogwarts began to faintly glow, a humming noise coming from all directions in a haunting tune.
Hogwarts was singing.
McGonagall and Snape, the only ones slightly in-the-know, watched the three in shock, and no small amount of awe.
This was the strength of the founder, the four greatest Sorcerers and Sorceresses that had ever lived.
It all ended as it started, making the confusion in the hall rise that much higher. Harry, Niki, and Hermione were all panting heavily as the force of what they had to do hit them entirely, exhaustion mounting in all three. They each shared proud looks, small smiles for their accomplishment, when they heard a small noise.
Theodore Nott and Zacharias Smith were both watching them with wide eyes.
All three had the same thought run through their mind at that moment. 'Shite'