AN: The twin of this story will probably be updated within this week.
Beta: sugar tear, FruitPastilles, SakuraSyaoranLiTRC
Harry woke to the feeling of being squeezed through a tube; a feeling alarmingly similar to apparition. His sluggish mind was still struggling to grasp the situation while his stomach already reacted in its usual violent way. Bile was burning its way up his throat as he was released of the tight hold whatever it was had had on him before. Though there was no time for him to breathe a sigh of relieve as he connected with a hard unforgiving surface, face first.
Groaning in pain he lay there for a moment completely dazed. He had hit his head quite hard on what felt like a marble floor. He was also aware of blood slowly dripping out of his nose.
"So typical," Harry grumbled to himself, head still pressed against the floor. "I bet if I were to lift my head and open my eyes I would look right into the eyes of a Basilisk."
'Quite right you are, dear,' a soft voice said from out of nowhere.
Harry flinched and stiffened, not expecting for someone else to be here. He tensed even more as he realised that he didn't even know where here was. Or how he had come to be wherever he was for that matter.
'Relax, dear one, no harm shall befall you in this place.' There was a small pause before a sigh could be heard. 'That is unless you bring it upon yourself….again.' Another sigh followed. 'You are terrible rash sometimes, dear.'
Opening his eyes Harry blinked a few times. The floor he was on was strangely familiar and at the same time not. It was very confusing.
The sound of feathers fluttering met his ears. 'Yes, I guess it does look different here.'
Feeling strangely calm considering the situation Harry slowly looked up. He could only gape as his gaze went up, up, up the long body of a snake; a snake that looked awfully familiar. Letting his gaze slide up further he nearly choked on his own breath. That was no snake like he had first assumed. He felt a shudder go down his spine as his gaze locked with the yellow eyes of a Basilisk. The moment their eyes met Harry felt frozen in his place; completely unable to move. His muscles were slacking more and more as his mind went blank.
Being as fixated on the eyes above him as he was he was startled when a soft weight settled on his head. He was even more shocked when said weight resulted in his head meeting the hard floor yet again.
'Tut, tut, tut, I warned you, didn't I?' The weight on his head shifted and he felt one of his hair strands being picked up. 'Then again you were always bad at heeding advice, weren't you?' He could feel the hair strand being settled down again and another strand being picked up. For a moment he had the strangest image of being preened.
Having his head pressed to the floor as it was it was difficult to talk, but Harry responded anyway. "Well, actually you didn't give me any advice at all. You just confirmed an absolutely ridiculous statement that I was frustrated enough to nearly believe."
The only response he got was an exasperated sigh and a sharp tug at his hair. The weight on his head shifted again and the hair tugging continued on the other side of his head.
After another especially hard tug Harry spoke again. "Not to be rude, but what are you doing with my hair? And…who are you?"
'Isn't it obvious? I am preening you.' The voice responded and kept tugging on his hair.
There was the soft sound of feathers fluttering as another hair strand was attacked by the vicious being on his head.
'I am doing it to tame your terrible ruffled feathers, of course. Really, you should take better care of them.'
Harry was completely bewildered. This was a very strange conversation indeed and if he didn't know any better he would have thought he was talking to a bird.
'And you know my name, dear one.' He felt the weight on his head shift and suddenly there were two big yellow eyes directly in front of him. He felt like he was staring at the Basilisk all over again. The all-too-familiar gaze pinning him down. 'After all you were the one to give it to me.'
Harry was completely still as his eyes roamed over the soft white feathers of his first friend. He blinked rapidly in an attempt to rid himself of the image. After all this couldn't be, wasn't possible, as his familiar had died. He would never forget the moment the stray curse had shot her straight out of the air.
He could feel tears gathering in his eyes as he stared at the loving yellow eyes of his snow owl. "Hedwig…."
'Yes, dear one.' The same soft voice answered and this time he knew it was her voice, Hedwig's voice.
"But how…you are-…I mean-!" He took a deep calming breath. "You are just a bird! Birds can't speak!"
The loving eyes narrowed to angry slits and before he knew it he was viciously attacked by a sharp beak; again and again. 'What do you mean with,' her attacks became faster with every word. 'JUST,' an especially hard peck followed, 'a bird?!'
Without thinking he freed one of his hands from under his body and softly petted her ruffled feathers. The bird on his head huffed and he was relieved to note that the attacks stopped. The head disappeared from his view and he just knew she had pushed out her chest and was glaring down at him; like she used to do when Pigeons was anywhere near her.
'If you would have paid better attention you would have realised that I am indeed not speaking to you. Or did you see my beak move when I talked, you insolent boy?'
"But…I mean-…how…?" Harry was completely lost. He couldn't help but wonder whether or not he had hit his head too hard when he first arrived. It was a very hard floor after all….
'Your head is perfectly fine. Well, except for your obvious disability to treat others with the proper respect.' Harry couldn't help the little twitch of his lips as he listened to Hedwig grumble on and on about 'being under appreciated' and that 'should have known' and something about 'messy feathers'. He could practically feel her glare pierce his skull while she ranted. He did his best to keep a serious face before refocusing on their previous topic.
"Eh…Hedwig…I am sorry, but, eh, if you don't talk to me and I didn't hit my head then…how can I hear you?"
Harry heard Hedwig sigh again before the weight disappeared from his head entirely and she landed on the floor directly in front of him. He lifted his head a bit to see her better. 'Harry, dear, you don't hear me. Not in the literal sense anyway. Our conversation is only in your head.'
With that Harry let his head fall back onto the floor with a soft thump. "So, you are telling me…I am hearing things?...Again?!"
A hard peck to his head was the fast response.
'You were never hearing things Harry. As I am sure you remember very well the Basilisk did speak. It wasn't your fault that the other humans were not able to hear it.'
Harry's despairing snort made Hedwig huff angrily. 'Really, stop with that nonsense. Being able to do things other can't isn't a bad thing. It makes you the person you are. It makes you my dear one, my chosen one, mine. So, stop being ridiculous and start acting more like the brave, determined and very lovable young man you are.' Nearly as an afterthought she pecked him again. 'And why are you still on the floor? You are going to mess up your feathers even more! And after I preened them so carefully too. Up, up, I say!'
Stumbling to his feet with his eyes tightly closed Harry shuffled with his feet not sure what to do. After all he couldn't be sure that there weren't other surprises waiting for him if he made a wrong move. Also, he hadn't heard any noise coming from the Basilisk during their conversation….
'Better…now, as I was saying, you don't hear me talking. This is due to me speaking in your head. You are the only one talking out loud. We are mentally connected. In fact we have finally reached the proper bond a familiar and their chosen one should have.' Harry could hear her fluttering with her feathers before she landed on his shoulder. 'No one beside you can hear me and once you have trained a bit no one beside me will hear you when you think to me. You can think of it as a two-way road if you want. My thoughts can come through to you and yours to me. Of course it is not something you can do overnight. You will have to train. Once you have you can specifically think about something that you want me to hear. It makes it easier for me too, because then I can focus on any given tasks better and don't need to constantly focus on you.'
"So, you are saying I would be able to talk to you telepathically just like that?"
He earned a nearly affectionate peck for his efforts. 'No, as I said, AFTER you trained you can do that. Right now you will have to at least mumble what you want to say to me if you want me to hear. You are currently lacking the proper focus to converse with me otherwise. It is like when one uses their wings for the first time the muscles need to be trained before you will be able to fly.'
"Does distance matter?"
'No, like your thoughts will reach you as I reached you whenever you needed me. We always had a familiar connection, but now it is finally able to grow. There were too many interfering factors before."
There was a pause before Harry tensed. "And…and how are you even alive? I mean-…you…because of me-….you were…-" A soft head snuggled close to his.
'Oh, dear one, you mean how I am alive?' Harry only nodded mutely. 'I am your familiar. As long as you are alive I am too. Your magic is deeply connected with my very soul….I may disappear for a while, but I will always come back as long as you live. Not even Death could keep me away from you, dear one.'
Hedwig snuggled even closer. 'Beside Death wouldn't do that anyway, that git. He has sped the process up, so I could return to you faster. After all he needs me to explain everything to you.' Hedwig huffed indignantly. 'Really, one would think Death would at least take the time to explain to its master the situation he had brought him into, but, no, of course that would be too much to ask. Souls to reap and Deaths to confirm, bah, he is simply gaining too much pleasure out of messing with its own master. Probably has some serious case of inferiority complex.'
Harry could feel the air sizzling around him, like small electric shocks buzzing past him. Hedwig only huffed. 'And apparently Death is a Stalker too, figures.' One of the electric shocks missed Harry's ears only per a few inches making the hair in his nape stay up on end. Hedwig who had swiftly avoided it only huffed. 'Doesn't know how to take critic either.'
He could only shudder as the air slowly regained its normal balance. 'Well, anyway, you can open your eyes. The Basilisk won't kill you nor will its gaze. In fact he has no intention to hurt you at all.'
There was a pause in which Harry could practically feel Hedwig's glee. 'He never had any intention to do so, but just to be sure I had a little chat with him before you woke up. I do know some cocks who would have no problem with singing a little lullaby for him after all.'
Harry's eyes snapped open at that and he couldn't help but gape at a very smug looking Hedwig.
"You threatened a giant snake?!"
Hedwig started preening herself and answered nonchalantly. 'Oh, well, what can I say? I am just a bird after all.' He couldn't help but blink at his familiar bewildered.
He was about to comment when he heard the massive snake they had been talking about move around in front of him. It sounded like it was pacing.
"Your familiar is a true menace, you know that?"
Harry's head swiveled around to stare at the Basilisk.
"I was only slithering closer in worry for your well-being and in bewilderment to your sudden appearance and the bird started attacking me with its vicious beak. As if I would ever attack anyone without a proper reason, I am no brute."
The Basilisk made a sound similar to a snort. "Opposite to some beings Basilisks are famous for their manners. Well, that and our potent healing agent."
It snorted again. "And I have absolutely no idea why this insufferable bird wouldn't stop screeching on about cocks. After all while I find the sound of their clucking most annoying, I am no youngling to die of such an insignificant even." There was a small pause. "Though I guess the cock who dares disturbing my peace wouldn't be as lucky. Way too cocky for their own good, they are." The Basilisk snorted again. "Maybe the younglings who died due to their clucking were simply bodily unable to stand their arrogance."
'What did you call me, snake?' Came the sharp demand of a very indignant bird.
Harry blinked slowly and simply shook his head. Trying to understand this right now wouldn't be of much use. Sometimes he wondered if miracles and catastrophes would never cease to happen to him. His acceptance of the madness surrounding him as reality was a true token of his previous experiences.
"I called you what you are, insufferable bird."
He shook his head again. This was unreal even for his standards and he had had more than his fair share of strange situations and conversations. One of his good friends was Luna Lovegood after all and he was Harry Potter with a serious case of Potter luck.
Hedwig hooted loudly and flew towards the Basilisk entangling him in a strange sort of dance. Both of them tried to get the better of the other with none of them having success.
This situation was indeed very strange, not of this world even.
"Not of this world….huh…"
Ignoring the bickering bird and Basilisk Harry looked around the room. It didn't take him more than a moment to realise why the floor was so familiar. This was the Chamber of Secrets and yet it was different. Whereas there had been nothing but cold stone and statues before, there was now a huge beautifully decorated hall.
On both sides there were statues of wizards and witches, dragons, Veelas, Nymphs and all kinds of creatures and beings imaginable. Harry was even fairly sure that the small statue towards the back of the hall was of an imp. The statues didn't appear to be sorted in any particular system, but then again he didn't even know who or what half of these sculptures and statues represented.
At the end of the hall, behind the two wildly arguing creatures, there was a small natural lake. It even looked like there were small fish and other creatures in it. Behind the lake was the mouth Harry remembered the snake in his second year coming out of, but instead of a snake water was constantly flowing out of it. On the far left side Harry could see a small part of the lake flowing down into nothingness. It looked as though it went down the edge and simply disappeared.
Shaking his head Harry could only assume it was some kind of magic and resumed his investigation of the room.
Looking up he saw the Sky, or what appeared to be the Sky, reminding him of the ceiling of the Great Hall. Apparently today was a sunny day as there were no clouds to be seen. Studying the Sky for a moment Harry let his eyes drift again.
It was painfully obvious that this was not the Chamber of Secrets he knew. It was similar, though only in some aspects. The size of the hall was the same and the Basilisk was here as well, but unless this was also somehow located in Hogwarts that was where the similarities ended.
This Chamber of Secrets was a bright, elegant hall that made one feel at home and at ease. There was no feeling of threat here and it was well-lit as well; the bright Sky above and the floating balls of magic made sure of that.
Blinking a few times Harry watched one of the balls of magic drift past him slowly. Holding up his hand he stopped it mid-flight and stared at it confused. It wasn't hot like he had thought it would be. The bright yellow ball of energy only emitted comfortable warmth. This would explain why it wasn't cold in here as it was in the Chamber of Secrets he had been in when he was twelve. Letting the ball of magic go he watched as it went back in its routine slowly drifting away.
'Can't catch me, snake? One would have thought one, who claims to be of such a superior race would have been able to deal with a mere bird by now.' Harry heard Hedwig's chuckle in his mind. 'Or are you perhaps not as capable as you wish to believe…?' Hedwig chuckled again. Out of the corner of his right eye he saw a very annoyed Basilisk snap at a highly-amused owl. His friend's wings flattered wildly as the bird flew around the Basilisk in circles. The snow owl avoided any and all attacks with graceful flaps of her wings.
Ignoring them he sighed and looked around once more. The closer look revealed that between some of the sculptures and statues there were bookshelves and elegant armchairs in different shades of blue. Looking up to the Sky again he noticed that the armchairs matched the colour above their respective spaces perfectly.
Hearing a loud splash Harry swiftly turned around and couldn't believe his eyes as he saw Hedwig calmly preening her feathers while a very angry looking Basilisk slowly emerged from the lake. On top of the Basilisks head was some kind of seaweed and it had its mouth full of fishes that it was desperately trying to spit out. Apparently fish was not the Basilisks preferred kind of food if the way its features were pinched was anything to go by.
He couldn't help it the scene was so ridiculous that he broke out in half-hysterical laugher and simply couldn't stop. His believed to be dead owl had just tricked a Basilisk into falling into a lake.
His laughter stopped abruptly as he remembered his surroundings. He was sure that this was the Chamber of Secrets, but not the one he knew. Recalling his previous thoughts he mumbled the same words to himself again.
"Not from this world…."
He looked at the Basilisk doing its best to hit a very smug looking owl with its tail and frowned. The Basilisk looked exactly like the one he killed in second year.
"Hedwig, where exactly are we?"
The mock fight of the two magical creatures ended abruptly as Hedwig flew back towards him leaving a livid looking Basilisk behind.
'We are in the Chamber of Secrets, dear.' Hedwig's voice whispered in his head as she settled on the floor once again. 'The Chamber of Secrets, Hogwarts, Great Britain, Earth.' She elaborated after a moment.
"But not the Chamber of Secrets I know. Probably not even the Great Britain I grew up in."
Hedwig hooted softly. 'You are right, dear one. This is neither the Chamber you know nor is it located in the Great Britain you are familiar with. We are in a parallel universe to the one you know.' She tilted her head in the way only owls could. 'And that's exactly why you need me to guide you. Death granted me insight in some of the history and workings of this world. With this information I, as your familiar, will help you to find your way in a to you unknown world.'
"A parallel universe….?" Harry mumbled to himself. "I have heard of those before. I think Dudley had an obsession with a series focused on that topic." He hummed thoughtful. "Does that mean that everything will be different here?"
Hedwig tilted her head to the other side. 'Different it will be, yes, though it is a parallel, so some fundamental things will stay the same. You will recognise many of the people here or their appearance anyway. You must remember that they may look the same and even have the same name, but that doesn't mean that they are the same person.'
The yellow eyes gazed into his with deep wisdom reflecting in them. 'Try not to let the shadows of your past mist your view, dear one. It could lead to very dangerous situations.'
Harry crouched down in front of his friend and absent-mindedly petted her feathers. "I will try my friend. I will try." He started blankly ahead for a moment before speaking again. "….Do you think I will ever be able to return? See Hermione and Ron again? Or Remus?"
A soft sad hoot was the only response he received.
Harry sighed before nodding determinedly to himself. "I guess I will have to think about that later. Maybe we will come up with some solution…" He trailed off as he realised that this was something he couldn't focus on until he was more with the way this world worked. His shoulders slumped as he ruffled his hair in frustration.
Hedwig softly pecked his petting hand. 'You are messing them up again, dear.' Kind yellow eyes captured his own. 'Don't worry, dear one. Everything will become clear in time, it always does. For the meantime stop worrying so much your friends will be fine.' Harry only snorted disbelievingly, but didn't retort.
"My friend will be here soon." The Basilisk suddenly spoke up from behind Hedwig. Slithering closer as he swiftly disposed of any remaining seaweed on his body. "If you prefer not to make his acquaintance you should go now. Jump down the edge the water disappears from. Imagine the place you want to go to as you fall and you shall arrive there safely."
"Your friend….?" Harry paused for a moment recalling what Death had said to him. "The enchantment was intended to….-! ….oh! Oh!" Realisation suddenly lit up in his eyes. "Your friend doesn't happen to be….Salazar Slytherin?"
There was an agreeing hiss from the giant snake as it narrowed his eyes towards Harry. "Yes, that is exactly who I am talking about. And I am quite sure that your dramatic entrance must have …startled him quite a bit." The snake shook its head and its eyes glittered in a mischievously knowing way. "He is quite protective, Salazar. You should keep that in mind in the future." It mumbled something under its breath and hissed excitedly. "Yes, you should definitely remember that, little Parselmouth. After all not everyone is immune to the deadly gaze of a Basilisk."
"Deadly gaze…oh! OH!" Harry was just about to question the snake when he was unceremoniously picked up by his cloak. The Basilisk had its dangerous teeth buried in the material mere inches above his neck and proceeded to slither with him towards the edge. Carrying him all the while as a lioness would her cup and startling Harry so much that he instinctively went for his wand. Before he could even reach it though, he was already dropped.
Gripping his wand tightly he was about to shout the levitation spell when Hedwig's soft voice stopped him. 'Don't worry, dear one. Simply think of a destination. The rude snake wasn't lying.'
Imagining a side-street of Diagon Alley as in-detail as possible, he could only hope that it looked similar enough in this world for him to appear in the right place. Splinching was a horrible experience that he had rather avoid after all.
Instead of feeling like he was being squeezed through a tube Harry found himself and Hedwig being embraced by what felt like a soft blanket.
In the distance he could hear the quietening voice of the Basilisk. "This promises to be highly amusing. I wonder how long it will take for them to realise that…-" The darkness around them tightened in a lieu of a firm hug as Harry became aware of the magic flowing around them. No, it wasn't flawing around them but with them. They were swiftly carried away riding on what felt like a stream of magic. "-…found…Shame I am not allowed to….."
The voice faded out completely and for a moment the magical stream and the darkness was all there was. Then, without warning, the stream disappeared from beneath them and the loud sound of a busy street nearby replaced the quietness of the space between.