Thanks to Thobeobo and 1saaa for beta-reading this chapter.

I do NOT own Harry Potter or its universe. All rights go to JK Rowling and her publisher.

ENJOY!


Chapter 16

Chaos Unleashed


Winter faded into spring and the snow on the grounds started to melt. The castle was simultaneously more tense and more relaxed: no one seemed to know when the next attack would come, or if the problem had been solved. After so long without another petrification, some of the students had begun to calm down, thinking that their school was safe once more, while others remained alert.

As should you, Tom said when Krios told him. Threats to your life are always closer than you think.

Krios rolled his eyes. Considering he had spent months with a man possessed by the Dark Lord aiming a wand at him, and two more months with Bellatrix, he was well aware of this. He was always looking over his shoulder wherever he went as it was, thanks to Fred and George Weasley deeming him their worst enemy after everything that had happened this year. They had taken to trying to prank him whenever they could, so rare was the occasion that Krios found himself alone outside his bedroom.

Such wise words from a dream journal, he wrote back.

Tom's reply was the drawn image of a rather rude gesture.

I never would have expected you to be one for that kind of behaviour, Tom.

Don't you have a class to be getting to?

Krios grinned as he scribbled: It's Saturday afternoon, Tom, or have you had so much ink put in your head you've forgotten how to tell time?

It is difficult, I will admit, to think properly when a child is your only partner for conversation.

That was one way to sour the mood. Krios's grin vanished immediately. He tapped the tip of his quill on the tabletop while he thought of something to say. An idea struck him: he remembered something he had forgotten in the chaos of the Christmas holiday—a promise he had made.

He lowered his quill to the page again.

Do you know where the Ravenclaw common room is?

For what purpose?

There was a lingering curiosity in the back of Krios's mind at the question. He had found that Tom's emotions had started to be shared with him the more he used the diary—when Tom was willing for them to be, anyway, which led Krios to believe that Tom somehow knew Occlumency, or at least had a remarkable talent for concealing his thoughts without training.

Some of the first-years are picking on my sister's friend. I promised her I'd help make them stop.

Krios smiled when he wrote 'my sister'. It was so strange to have someone he considered family, but he truly thought of Altair that way after getting to know her the last few months. She and Daphne were the only ones his age he really felt comfortable around.

And you wish to do so by sneaking into Ravenclaw Tower, Tom deduced. Without any knowledge of how to hide yourself and avoid getting caught. After the Gryffindors were just punished for that.

You always assume the worst of me, Tommy, Krios replied with a smile. Finding where the common room is was only the first step. I was going to make a plan after.

Well… Tom paused for a moment. At least you are not so idiotic as your dull wit makes you appear.

Krios pressed his lips in a thin line.

Wit that is sharpened by your bone-headedness.

Bone is actually awful for sharpening a blade.

Do I want to know how you know that?

My family lived near a graveyard. I experimented.

Krios shook his head. Has anyone ever told you that you're a creepy bastard?

No, I'm usually told I'm quite charming.

He frowned as a thought occurred to him.

So you were raised by your parents?

Tom was silent for a very long time, which made Krios wonder if he had asked something he shouldn't have, but his worries were assuaged, at least partially, when Tom answered, I was raised in a muggle orphanage before my Hogwarts letter was delivered to me. I never knew my parents.

A sharp pang lanced through Krios. Their backgrounds were far too similar, and it hurt.

I was raised with muggles, too. I didn't know my parents until I got to Hogwarts.

Exchanging letters with James and Lily the last couple months had helped out a lot in learning more about his birth parents, but they always stayed on safe topics: school and work, magic—particularly their respective talents of Charms, Potions, and Transfiguration—or, strangely, Quidditch.

Krios still didn't care much for Quidditch, but it was easier to talk about than other things that would only lead to further conflict between them, so he put up with it.

But you're a Black, Tom said. Why would a family like that allow you to be raised by muggles?

I wasn't born a Black. They adopted me last summer and changed my name.

Again Tom didn't reply for a while.

What was your name before?

Krios hesitated before writing: Harry Potter.

A surname I am not familiar with, but I think I have heard it before. Tom decided to change topics after that and wrote, So, your plan for the Ravenclaws…

They spent the rest of the evening planning what to do. By the time Krios went to sleep that night, he was confident that, thanks to Tom's genius, the people who picked on Luna Lovegood would not do so again unless they wished to cause further issues for themselves.

When he woke up on Monday morning, however, it was to the news that the very Ravenclaws whom he had been planning on going after had been attacked by the Heir of Slytherin. But it was so much worse than a single attack.

Over half a dozen students had been petrified at once.

Cedric Diggory and a couple of his friends, apparently, held a study group for younger years every week on Sunday evening, after dinner. When last night's session had concluded, they left the library together, and were attacked not even five metres away. Four first-year Ravenclaws had been caught in the attack, but so had Lisa Turpin from second year and Katie Bell from third.

"It's a miracle no one was killed," Daphne murmured as she and Krios looked around the Great Hall at lunch that day. "With how many of them were involved, someone should have died."

Krios shot her a dark look, though the effect was ruined by the massive yawn he let out. He didn't know why, but he was exhausted. His body was suffering phantom pains that they usually only did after Bellatrix used the Cruciatus against him in their duels—something he hadn't felt in months—and he had no idea why that would be happening now.

"It's true," she said in her defence. "There were eight of them, and not one death."

"Father and the other governors on the Board are furious," Draco said gleefully as he dropped into the seat opposite Krios, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle, who had finally stopped following Krios everywhere. "If my father's last letter means anything, I don't think we should expect to see Dumbledore around here for much longer."

"He told you that?" Daphne asked skeptically.

Draco shrugged, smirking.

"He hinted at it. My father isn't very direct in letters, just in case."

"Why are they trying to remove Dumbledore?" Krios asked.

"They blame him for not stopping the Heir already," Draco said, giving Krios a pointed look. "Since he hasn't done anything to protect us, they want him out of the way for someone more suitable."

Krios frowned. That didn't make any sense: Dumbledore was a wizard loved by most of the magical world because of his talent, so why would the governors want him away from where he was needed? This all seemed more like something Lucius was doing just to put someone he personally respected in charge of Hogwarts, and he had managed, somehow, to convince the Board to go along with it.

"Okay," Krios said, "so who will they replace him with if this works?"

Draco grinned. "I hope it's Professor Snape."

It was with great effort that Krios stopped himself from making a comment. He knew Professor Snape would never want to be Headmaster of Hogwarts.

"It's a pity the Heir's attacking so many purebloods," Draco continued casually. "I mean, I suppose it's necessary with the blood-traitors, but there has to be a way to get the muggleborns alone, right?"

"Are you sure you want to talk about that here?" Krios asked, frowning.

Draco glanced around at the crowded hall. He grimaced and fell silent.

When classes got out for the day and everyone had returned to the common room, it was to find Professor Snape waiting stoically for them. His face may have been impassive, but Krios could almost sense a grimness emanating from him, encompassing them all.

"What's going on?" Altair asked as she and the other first-years joined them.

"I don't know," Daphne said. "It can't be anything good, though."

She was proved correct when Professor Snape addressed the gathered Slytherins once all of them had been collected and brought to the common room.

"Due to recent events, of which I am sure you are all by now aware, the staff have decided to implement new restrictions for your protection." Whispering broke out immediately, but quieted when he continued, "All students are to be escorted between lessons. No one, prefect or otherwise, is to be in the corridors after curfew. When you are not in class or in the Great Hall, it is recommended that you remain in the common room—however, this will not be strictly enforced due to the necessity of some assignments to be completed in the library.

"I do not think I need to remind you all of the severe importance of these rules," Professor Snape went on, giving them all a stern look. "These have been put in place for your own safety. Anyone caught disregarding them will be punished accordingly."

The Slytherins went their separate ways after that, but they were all discussing the same thing. Krios was joined by Daphne and Altair. They sat around a table in the corner of the common room: a place that Krios regularly frequented when he wasn't in the library.

"Okay, spill," Daphne demanded without preamble. "You've been distracted all day."

"More than just today," Altair added. Her eyes were full of worry. "You've been distant for a couple months now—you keep locking yourself away in your room when you're here, or you're hiding behind some book or another in the library, and don't say homework," she warned when Krios opened his mouth to do just that. "The books you're reading aren't even seventh-year texts."

"It's research," Krios said, thinking quickly. He wasn't about to tell them that he had been looking into methods of magical imprisonment. They didn't know anything regarding Tom, and Krios planned to keep it that way as long as he possibly could.

He wasn't sure why, but he had a feeling that was a bad idea, and his instincts hadn't yet failed him.

"What are you researching that N.E.W.T. students aren't taught?" Daphne asked, baffled.

"Just something I was curious about." Krios shrugged. After yawning again, he said, "I haven't found anything, though."

Altair and Daphne gave him flat looks. If he didn't know any better, he would have thought that they were sisters with how similar they appeared just then.

"It's nothing—seriously," he added when they didn't relent.

They shared a look, then Altair said, "See if you can get him to talk?"

"Of course," Daphne replied, smirking at Krios.

"Ta," Altair chirped. She gave them both a quick hug before sweeping off to join her friends.

No matter how much Daphne pressed that night, Krios was unbending. He refused to speak at all if she asked about his project, but kept up almost any other topic of conversation. Perhaps it wasn't the best method of handling the situation, but Krios was too tired to bother thinking of a different way. He felt as if he hadn't slept at all last night, though he knew he had.

The next afternoon, Professor Snape personally retrieved Krios for their lesson instead of waiting, like usual, in his office. They didn't say a word to each other until they were safe behind privacy spells.

"I heard the school governors are trying to get Dumbledore removed."

"Draco would be correct," Professor Snape said. He looked more tired than Krios had ever seen him. There were dark circles under his eyes and his shoulders were a bit slumped. "Lucius is determined to get his way, no matter what method he must use. I imagine we won't reach the end of the week before the order for Dumbledore's removal is given."

"Who will replace him?" Krios asked.

"Professor McGonagall is the most likely candidate, as she is currently Deputy Headmistress. I would not be surprised, however, if Lucius finds a way to appoint someone he approves of."

As Krios had suspected. He wasn't sure whether to feel pleased he was learning, or scared that the most powerful wizard alive wouldn't be around to keep them safe for much longer. If Dumbledore wasn't around, how long could they last before someone was killed? But that thought raised new questions in Krios's mind, and he voiced one aloud.

"What's Dumbledore been doing to stop the attacks?"

"You understand, I hope, that I cannot share much?" Professor Snape waited until he nodded. "The headmaster has been doing all he can to locate the Chamber of Secrets and handle the monster within. He, I believe, has learnt what the monster is through his own studies, but only guesses as to where the Chamber itself is. I am afraid he will not be around long enough to find it—if he hasn't, even after half a century of searching, then it is likely he won't before the week's end."

'Thanks for not sharing much,' Krios thought, suppressing a shudder.

"Why hasn't the school been closed yet?"

"No lasting harm has been done," Professor Snape said. "While Dark things are happening, all of it is reversible, given enough time to procure Mandrake Restorative Draughts for the victims."

"But what about their schoolwork?" Krios asked. "Won't they have to catch up?"

"It is not as difficult as you seem to think. Even the muggleborns will be given the resources they need to complete their year of studies once they have recovered—Professor Dumbledore is willing to see to it personally, if he must.

"Though it may not appear it," Professor Snape went on, giving Krios a shrewd look, "there are plans in place, should the worst happen. The headmaster has been prepared for a situation such as this since the Dark Lord first started his campaign twenty years ago."

"Do peoples' parents know?"

"It would be incredibly foolish of us not to inform them." Professor Snape sat down, releasing a weary sigh and rubbing his face. "A dozen students have already been withdrawn from Hogwarts—none from either your year or Slytherin," he added at Krios's confused look. "Most of those who have left are older Ravenclaws, seeking to continue their education at a… less endangering school."

"What about muggleborns?"

"A few have withdrawn as well," Professor Snape said. "Many, however, whether muggleborn or otherwise, have parents who believe that a school under a man as renowned as Albus Dumbledore is safer than elsewhere. They decided to trust him when he assured them he was doing his best to end this before someone is permanently harmed."

"But if he's removed—"

"Then more students will leave, yes."

They were both silent for a moment. Krios's mind raced as he tried to figure out whether this was the real objective of Lucius's actions. There was no doubt that Lucius was a cunning man, an opportunist, so it wasn't an unreasonable assumption that he could be taking advantage of the school's state to try and remove the kinds of wizards he didn't approve of.

March ended with a Hogwarts that was no longer under Headmaster Dumbledore. Fear plagued the halls unlike ever before. Any laughter was scattered and unnatural. While some students, like Draco, seemed pleased with the new development, most of the students walked in groups, too scared to go anywhere in the castle alone. The first-years were the most terrified, having lost almost half of their year's Ravenclaws in the last attack.

Suspicion of the Slytherins, who had not yet had a single victim from their house, was at an all-time high, especially in regards to Krios. Someone had mentioned seeing Krios talk to Cedric not long ago, and from there a theory had sprouted that Cedric, the kindest boy in school, had done something to offend the Heir of Slytherin—most rumours claimed it was because of the study group. However, it was now impossible for Krios to go anywhere without an escort comprised of most of the second-year Slytherins. Flora and Hestia Carrow, in particular, seemed to follow him at all times, except when he went to the bathroom, but even then they waited in the corridor.

"At least you're not trying to wipe my arse for me," Krios said to them after one such occasion.

"I will if you ask nicely, my lord," Hestia returned, batting her eyelashes.

Flora snorted so hard she choked.

Over the Easter holiday the second-years had to pick out electives. Krios, like many others, had no idea which ones to pick, and so sought out advice from those more experienced than he. Olivia Rosier really only vouched for the importance of Arithmancy, whereas Emmaline Burke told him to take the Study of Ancient Runes. Some of the older students recommended the same, but also suggested he sign up for Care of Magical Creatures.

And so, not knowing what to do, Krios wrote a letter to James and Lily Potter, asking for their advice.

Krios,

If you want to take a class that will be more useful in most career options, Arithmancy and Ancient Runes are commonly used. Care of Magical Creatures is really only useful if you want to go into magizoology or a few specific jobs at the Ministry. You've mentioned an interest in duelling, though, so I don't know if that will apply to you.

Many claim that Divination is useless if you aren't a Seer, but that's not true. You have to keep an open mind and realize that the future isn't as precise as many would prefer. It can be difficult if you aren't receptive to the specific magic it uses, but it is an enjoyable class nonetheless, and certainly one where you won't have to stress as much as you do in Potions or Transfiguration. It isn't exactly an easy class, but it is more relaxed than others.

It all depends on which career you want to go into, and what topics interest you. If you aren't sure, I know that Severus—Professor Snape, I mean—would be happy to help. He's always been a brilliant wizard, and very talented in many branches of magic.

Good luck,

Lily

P.S. James says hello

Krios read and reread the letter several times, thinking hard. He noted the absence of Muggle Studies and appreciated it. What she had to say about Divination intrigued him, however. Most of the students he had spoken with about that class had nothing positive to tell him, especially regarding the teacher, Professor Trelawney. From what they told him, she was quite eccentric, to say the very least.

With Lily's words in mind, Krios set off for Professor Snape's office to talk to him.

"Reasonable advice," he said when Krios finished telling him everything. Professor Snape ran a finger along his jaw as he stared into his dark fireplace, pondering.

After a few minutes of silence, he turned to face Krios again.

"I believe, with your particular interests, that Care of Magical Creatures and the Study of Ancient Runes would be preferable courses. However, I also think you should consider Divination."

"I didn't think you were one for reading tea leaves, sir," Krios quipped before he could stop himself.

"And you would be correct," Professor Snape said. "There are other aspects of Divination that you, more than others, may find interesting, though. I do not personally believe in the imprecision of it, but there are uses for Divination for those who prove themselves capable of it, as Lily told you."

Professor Snape gave Krios a look that was somehow piercing and soft at the same time.

"Are you all right?" he asked in an oddly concerned tone. "You look as if you haven't slept in days."

"I'm fine," Krios said, stifling a yawn. They both knew it wasn't true, though. He still hadn't progressed far enough in using Occlumency to successfully lie to someone as talented as Professor Snape.

The truth was that Krios hadn't been sleeping well lately. His dreams were plagued by images of his youth, reliving old nightmares he hadn't thought about in years. And, more recently, a bright flash of green light had begun to afflict his slumber, and he woke up in pain each time.

"I have been too busy for your Occlumency lessons since Christmas," Professor Snape said slowly, giving Krios a stern look. "But if you are going to attempt to lie to me, perhaps we should pick them up again so you can at least have a chance at succeeding. Why have you not been sleeping?"

"I've been sleeping," Krios retorted, uncaring of how childish he sounded. He yawned again. "I just… haven't slept well, I guess. Too many nightmares."

Professor Snape stared at him for a long time. Then, without saying a word, he swept across the office to the cupboard where he kept his private supply of potions and withdrew one. He returned to Krios and handed it over.

"Take this tonight right before bed," he instructed. "This is a Dreamless Sleep Potion. I would usually refrain from giving you any, but I think this can be considered a special circumstance. I will not, however, provide another after tonight—not for a while, anyway. It can become addictive."

"Thanks," Krios mumbled, accepting the potion.

"Rest well," Professor Snape said, still watching him closely.

That night when Krios climbed into bed, he immediately took the Dreamless Sleep Potion. His eyes slipped closed at once and he felt himself drift off to sleep. It seemed like seconds later that he awoke again, but something was wrong.

His body was moving though he wasn't telling it to.

'Awake at last,' said a smooth voice in his mind. The sound of it was one he had never heard before, but there was a familiarity to it, as if it belonged to someone he knew. 'I was wondering how long it would take before your mind caught up to your body.'

Krios tried to move his eyes, but they refused to respond. Every attempt at moving a part of his body failed, as if he was a passenger in his own mind.

'I wouldn't bother trying,' the voice said. It sounded sickeningly amused. 'Your body is mine, for now. But don't worry: soon enough I will have one of my own.'

'Who are you?' Krios demanded. He thought it as forcefully as he could, and his body flinched.

'There is no need to yell, you irascible child,' the voice chided.

Krios may not have heard the voice before, but the words connected the dots.

'Tom?' he thought incredulously.

'You consider yourself clever yet it still took you this long. I confess myself disappointed.'

Krios was too stunned to reply. He watched numbly as Tom—possessing his body, somehow—moved through the halls of Hogwarts. The sunlight streaming through the windows made Krios wonder how much time had passed since he went to sleep, whether it had been hours or days, if anyone had noticed something wrong, or even that he wasn't where he should be.

'What are you doing? What do you want?'

'I thought that was obvious, Harry.'

Tom chuckled. While the sound had come from Krios's body, it sounded nothing like him. The laugh belonged to Tom, that much was certain: it was mocking and cold. Had Krios been in control of his own body, he was confident it would have made him shudder.

'For months you have researched the books I told you to.' Tom laughed again. 'Such a good little puppet, you are, yet you failed to realize the truth: the more you used my diary, the more influence I gained over your thoughts and actions. Or did you think the petrification of those Ravenclaw girls and Cedric Diggory was a coincidence?'

A fury built in Krios unlike anything he had felt since the first time he met James and Lily. Perhaps it was for the best that he wasn't able to control his body right now, because he knew that he would do something he would later regret if he were in a position to act.

'Of course, you weren't entirely fooled,' Tom went on, far too amused. 'You had your suspicions, deep down, that somehow I could have acted without your knowing. You were idiotic to disregard the possibility just because it appeared I was stuck in a diary.

'But that's enough talk, for now. We have business to attend to.'

Without the sound of Tom's voice echoing in his mind, Krios was able to hear something he hadn't picked up on before: a scraping sound, like a massive beast slithering along stone, and an echoing hiss he recognized all too well begging to at last kill.

'My friend is hungry,' Tom told Krios gleefully. 'She has been very patient for so many years. I think it's about time she was given the freedom she so desires.'

Tom stopped walking outside a room Krios recognized, though he was confused why they were here. What possible reason could Tom have for visiting this wizard right now?

Tom looked around, twisted Krios's lips into a cruel smirk, and headed to the nearest bathroom. He stepped up to one of the sinks and dragged his fingers over the tap. Whatever he was searching for, he didn't find, so he moved to the next one, then the one after that, where at least he stopped.

"Come, my friend," Tom hissed in the serpent-tongue. "It is time for you to kill."

Krios could only watch, horrified, as the sink slid aside and revealed a hole as wide as an oak tree's trunk: a pipe that led to somewhere Krios wasn't sure he wanted to go. The horrible, murderous hissing of Slytherin's monster grew closer, and for a moment Krios worried he was about to see it, but then Tom looked away and moved back to the door.

'It wouldn't do for us to be ready without our prey, would it?' he asked tauntingly. 'But alas, we do not need to wait long. Here they come!'

Fear, worse than what he had felt thus far, embraced him in a suffocating grip as Lockhart and Evan Potter rounded the corner at the end of the hall. Lockhart was beaming brightly, talking about some adventure from his books or another, while Evan looked utterly miserable.

Tom, grinning viciously, slipped back into the bathroom, holding the door open. Then, without looking behind them, as Lockhart and Evan drew closer, he hissed a single command to Slytherin's monster.

"FEAST!"

The gigantic serpent hissed triumphantly as it raised from the pipe.

Evan glanced past Lockhart at the window on the other side of the hall. His eyes widened in shock and his mouth fell open, then his stiff body twisted and dropped to the floor.

Krios felt a clenching in his stomach. Even if he had the ability to do so, he would not have been able to tear his eyes from the sight. Tom's cruel laughter echoed in his mind, relentless and deafening.

"Oh dear, dear," Lockhart said, sounding only a little worried. "I suppose my tale must have been too much for the poor boy. I guess I shouldn't have told him about—" He stopped abruptly as he looked up from where Evan lay motionless, catching a full, unobstructed view of the monster's gaze.

Lockhart's bones seemed to liquify. His body folded in on itself as he collapsed, his eyes smoking.

"It's a pity he only saw the basilisk's gaze in a reflection," Tom said, looking at Evan. "I would have liked to kill this one, considering his reputation: the Boy-Who-Lived," he added with a snort. "If only… He would have made an excellent inferius with which I could haunt his loved ones."

Krios only had the most basic knowledge of what inferi were, but the thought of Evan Potter as an animated corpse for the rest of eternity sickened and horrified him. Sure, they didn't get along, but no one deserved a fate like that.

'And this is why you are weak, Harry Potter,' Tom mocked, snarling the thought. 'You lack the willingness to seek true power.'

Krios didn't bother with a reply. While they appeared to share a body, at least his mind was his own.

'I'm afraid we don't have much time left before someone comes along and discovers my little present.' Tom sounded pleased, his grin pulling Krios's lips. 'We will just have to hurry this part.'

He pulled a small knife from a pocket and, his grin growing, slit open Krios's arm. Using the flat of the dagger like a brush and Krios's blood like paint, Tom began to create words on the wall. Krios could feel himself growing dizzier the more Tom wrote, his blood draining faster. Once finished Tom stepped back to admire his handiwork, swaying on the spot.

FOREVER SHALL HIS BODY REST IN SALAZAR'S SANCTUARY

"No one will come for you, Harry," Tom said, laughing again. "You and I, the only Parselmouths in this school—perhaps even the country. None will be able to enter the Chamber of Secrets to save you."

Laughing ever louder, Tom turned and headed into the bathroom. Krios only now noticed that it was the same bathroom outside which Mrs. Norris had been killed so many months ago. They approached, cautiously, the hole in the floor beneath the sink, but Slytherin's monster had already retreated.

"Such intelligent creatures, basilisks," Tom said conversationally. "While they aren't quite as sentient as humans, they are far more capable than ordinary serpents. This particular basilisk knows not to feast immediately upon her victims, so that those who dare oppose Salazar's true heir can understand that this is not a battle they can win. Salazar's noble work will be carried out.

"But now," he continued, glancing back at the glimmering words of blood on the wall, "the time has come for them to know completely that they have no power compared to the Heir of Slytherin."

Tom stepped forward into the hole, and they plunged into the darkness.


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