Disclaimer: I am not and never shall be JKR and therefore do not own Harry potter. I do however look like Harry and Hermione's love child….
AN: If you haven't noticed I've responded to a review by merging chapters 1 and 2, so if you think you've missed something, you have also what do you think of the magic of the chamber? I figured it was literally a place for making secrets, dunno if I've seen that idea before.
Oh and this is thoughts and ~Parseltongue~
Chapter 2: Seeking Answers
As Ginny continued to sob inconsolably on the floor Harry crouched patting her on the back awkwardly and mumbling platitudes. "It's alright Ginny, it wasn't really you. I mean your only 11 and he's Voldemort yeah? Come on, we've got to let your mum and dad know you're alive." Harry tried desperately to think of something else he could say to get her moving; great I can handle monstrous snakes, and talking statues but not crying girls. Looking vaguely around the chamber as if searching for inspiration he picked up the sorting hat, dusting it absently when his eyes alighted on Fawkes. "Could you help me out here please?" He mouthed over Ginny's shoulder if Hedwig understands me Fawkes should.
For a minute he thought he was going to have to carry her out of there, despite the fact that he was about her height and in worse condition physically; but Fawkes had, evidently, divined his meaning and flew over singing his calming song. As the wonderful bird sang Ginny's frantic sobbing reduced to hiccoughing and a watery smile, "Harry, you found me, you saved me? Oh thank you!" She then threw herself at him and proceeded to cry on his shoulder making the already pained boy sway on his feet.
"Err you're welcome?" Harry patted her on the back awkwardly a few times, but she clung on fiercely when he attempted to disengage being hugged might actually feel nice if my whole body didn't HURT. Seeing no immediate respite from her affections Harry prattled on feeling rather awkward "Ron's stuck on the other side of a cave in. It was really both of us that came to get you, didn't realise what the diary was until it told me." Harry blushed, feeling dim, even he should have been suspicious about a thinking book that 'conveniently' knew about the camber. "Hermione figured out about the basilisk before she was petrified." He waved a hand in the direction of the corpse and Ginny gasped finally letting him go.
"Oh Merlin it's huge! I never did directly see it, and everything is kind of hazy, how did you survive? I'm so sorry Harry, do you hate me?" This last was said in a terrified whisper.
"No!" Harry responded forcefully. "Like I said before IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT! Now stop thinking about it and let's get out of here, I really could do with a pain potion then sleeping for a week." With that he grabbed her wrist and began towing her towards the exit, hissing ~close~ to the doors as he went.
Fairly quickly they found themselves back at the cave in where Ron was still dedicatedly clearing a hole. "Ron, we're back, we're OK, I killed the basilisk, and beat the heir and Ginny is fine! How's things on your end mate?"
"Harry? Oh thank Merlin you're alive, nearly at the time limit mate!" Harry could hear something that sounded suspiciously like tears from the other side. "Lockhart's a complete write off! My wand really did a number on him, but I've made a hole and you're both so ruddy small I recon you can wriggle through."
Harry insisted that Ginny go first, and then squirmed through himself, it was a bit tight but then he was out. Ron hugged him suddenly and let go embarrassed. "Merlin I have never been more afraid in my life! Thought I'd lost you mate, thought I'd lost you both and I was gonna have to tell everyone about how I failed my best mate and little sister." He sniffed loudly "So how in Merlin's name are we getting out of here?"
Fawkes took that moment to swoop through the gap and wave his tail feathers at them "I guess he'll take us?" Harry ventured uncertainly Professor Dumbledore did say something about lifting immense loads. "D'you recon we could just leave him here" Harry said jerking a thumb over his shoulder at Lockhart and grinning.
"Nah mate, it's what d'ya call it, poetic justice? Hermione would know, he'll be famous, but for all the wrong reasons. Serve the ponce right once we tell everyone what he said and what he tried" Ron smirked evilly. "Do you really think that bird can carry us though, I guess we could go one by one and Ginny could go first?"
Fawkes made a sound a disagreement and again waved his long tail-feathers at the group. "I think he wants us all, alright Ron you grab on, hold Ginny I'll hold you Gin and Professor, Professor?"
"He means you, you daft git" Ron interrupted.
"Er, yes hold onto me, right, off we go!"
As Fawkes transported them up the tube they felt a strange sense of weightlessness and were subjected Lockhart prattling "it's just like magic." Soon enough however they arrive back in front of the sinks, in Myrtle's bathroom, where she was eagerly waiting for them.
"Oh you're alive." Moaning Myrtle sounded disappointed.
"No need to sound so upset" Ron responded angrily walking towards the door.
"I just thought, if you had died Harry, you could have shared my toilet with me" this last came out in a rush and her cheeks darkened.
Harry hadn't known a Ghost could blush, "Ummm thanks Myrtle, I think I would have moved on though." Thinking hard Harry wondered if there was a way to make the poor ghost feel better, after all she was helpful, that might benefit him. "Myrtle, you said you died because you were in here crying thanks to bullies, and you came back to get revenge; well the same thing nearly happened to Hermione ion our first year, except I heard where she was and me and Ron got there in time. Is that right?"
"Yes!" She sobbed, "but now they've all left and I'm STUCK here, in this stupid toilet all on my own." She fled back to her stall crying.
Harry licked his lips nervously, not wanting to agitate the fragile ghost further. "Well, I had an idea about that." He paused until she sniffed and sobbed "what is it?"
"I thought maybe you could keep an eye on people like you and Hermione," Harry glanced at her nervously and was thankful to see a spark of interest. "You could listen to gossip and keep an eye on the girl's loos to find people being bullied, then you could keep them company, and maybe go to their house ghost or head of house or the prefects. You would get out of here more often and get to talk to the other ghosts, what do you think?"
"I, I'll think about it Harry. Thanks for caring." She sniffed again and hugged him, her ghostly arms making him shiver violently.
"You're welcome Myrtle, I'll pop back in to see you and we can talk more in a couple of days OK?" That gives me and excuse to be down here later. "We had better get to the infirmary guys."
Myrtle waved them goodbye forlornly and they left the bathroom following Fawkes along the corridors tiredly. Harry's legs felt leaden as he trudged wearily along barely registering that they were headed for McGonagall's office rather than the infirmary. As the students trudged wearily past, the portraits ran excitedly from frame to frame whispering to each other, but only Ron had the energy to notice, and Lockhart merely commented "Amazing they move!" When they stopped outside the door Harry yelped mentally and glared at Fawkes, you damn well know I don't want to deal with this yet you ruddy bird he growled mentally still glaring. Sighing in resignation he raised his hand and knocked wearily on the door, obeying the call of "come in" he opened the door and the bedraggled quartet straggled in.
McGonagall's shocked cry of "Mr Potter, Mr Weasley, Proff.." was cut short as a familiar plump redhead rocketed across the room and engulfed her children in a bone-crushing hug. "Ginny, Ron, oh Ginny, how? I thought you'd died!" Whereupon she burst into tears looking between the two of them and kissing Ginny repeatedly, as if checking she were solid.
For his part Harry just sank onto the nearest chair with his pile of artefacts on his lap, his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands trying to ward of sleep. He felt a brief pang for his lost parents, as he saw Mr Weasley move to join the family hug, rubbing a hand slowly over his wife's hysterical shoulders; however he wasn't sure if he wanted any part of the infamous bone crushing Weasley hugs. I just know we'll be here for ages before I can sleep and Madam Pomfrey will want to poke and prod me relentlessly. Honestly it will prove every suspicion I have about their level of concern for me if they allow me to continue speaking for more than 20 minutes or after my voice first breaks. He could see the Weasley's were getting themselves under control and McGonagall's intense glances kept getting longer and more curious as she stared at his filthy robes along with the hat in his hands. Then the door was flung back and Headmaster Dumbledore walked in trailed by a ranting Malfoy. Surprise, surprise he's back. And with such convenient timing, no need to do the work but he sure will get the credit! Harry thought angrily as he heard the end of Malfoy senior's pronouncement.
"…doing Dumbledore, I will see you never reside in Hogwarts again. A student has Died, a pureblood no less, no, no you should have shut the place down before it was too late."
Harry saw Dumbledore's eyes twinkle as the landed upon the still silently weeping Ginny "Died have they Lucius; which student was that again?"
Too distracted by his contempt for his foe to spot the trap, Malfoy continued "You know very well whom, the young Miss Weasley was taken to the chamber 'her bones shall lie in the chamber forever' or some such, now I doubt the Weasley's appreciate your false forgetfulness." Malfoy waved vaguely at them not really taking in just which children they were comforting.
"Ah yes Miss Weasley, well as the young Miss Weasley is right there, I do think her death may have been an exaggeration? I dare say she has had an ordeal, but it seems once again help was provided at Hogwarts for those who asked it, and the school is, once again, quite safe." Dumbledore flashed a menacing look at Malfoy over his glasses before continuing "which rather begs the question of how she came to be in danger in the first place and how she was saved does it not Lucius."
Malfoy spluttered before barking "Well, out with it girl!"
Ginny started at the sound then tearfully began her explanation for the safety of her mother's continued hug. "There-Sniff- there was a diary, it just appeared in my school books after we left Florish and Blotts, and I thought you had bought it for me to be a friend at Hogwarts. Sniff. When I wrote in it, it wrote back. Then the chamber was opened and I started having gaps in my memory, and I was scared and tried to throw it away –Sob- but I always woke up with it back in my book bag, and I COULDN'T speak of it! Then today I found myself I a kind of haze and woke up in this huge dungeon decorated with snakes and there was this ghost thing coming out of the diary –Sniff- and he said he was the Heir of Slytherin , and that he thanked me for pouring the gift of my heart and soul and LIFE into his diary so that he could leave and that I would never wake again – sob- and then it all goes black until I woke up and Harry was there with a dead monster and a broken book!" Ginny began to sob again in earnest "Am- Sniff-, am I going to, -Sob- be expelled? " She wailed.
"Oh Ginny, what have I always told you about magical artefacts 'if you can't see where it keeps its brain?'" Mr Weasley questioned.
"'Don't trust it'. Yeah I know Dad, but for some reason I just had to" Ginny replied despondently.
"Now, now who knows what befuddling spells were placed on the object, after all we all know the identity off the man who claims to be heir of Slytherin; even in his school days many adults were fooled by Voldemort." Enjoying the shocked gasps the Headmaster continued "Never fear you will not be expelled for this, after all it was not you that was responsible." Dumbledore beamed at them all before turning to Harry. "Now Harry my boy would you care to enlighten us further?"
Couldn't ask Ron could he? After all eh was only there for most of it, and I'm only clearly hurt and tired, no let's make bloody Harry Potter the centre of attention whether he wants it or not. Refusing to show his resentment on his face thanks the years with the Dursleys, Harry projected the image of a child eager to please and slightly nervous about rule breaking asked an innocent question. "of course Headmaster, but how did one of Vold.. (Harry saw them flinch)-I mean –You-Know-who's school books end up in Ginny's books. The only person who went near them was Mr Malfoy and he got in a fight with Mr Weasley" Harry questioned innocently not missing Dobby signalling between the book in his hands and his master.
"Sadly we may never know Harry" Dumbledore responded glancing obviously at Mr Malfoy. "But if you could please continue the explanation?"
"Off course sir." Harry replied getting to his feet, now THIS is the dumbest idea I've ever had, and continuing "this is the diary" he said as he walked unsteadily towards Minerva's desk, then 'staggered accidentally' into Malfoy's pristine silver robes 'sadly' smearing them in the grease, blood, ink and general filth, that his had acquired in the chamber. "Oh no I'm so sorry sir, I'm barely on my feet as it is." He apologised, looking pointedly between Malfoy's robes and Dobby, whilst hoping both would respond as expected, then continuing to the desk.
Meanwhile Malfoy looked livid, rapidly turning an interesting shade of purple he stripped of his outer robe and all but pushed it into Dobby's arms "here elf take this! Now.." but he never got the next words out. Dobby's ecstatic grin froze him in place as his brain caught up with his words "No! I meant.." but he was interrupted by the elf's proclamation "Master has given Dobby clothes! Dobby is free of the Malfoys FOREVER!"
Malfoy's brain rapidly processed the price of this loss, and decided to assign the blame to the most appropriate place; obviously it hadn't been his fault, it must have been Potter's. Turning towards Harry he raised his want shouting "You've cost me my servant boy!" His spell however was absorbed by a suddenly raised shield and he found several wands pointed at him, as well as his former elf standing in front of the brat- who-didn't-die. About to beat a hasty retreat he was dragged to the fireplace by an irate McGonagall who screamed at him "raising a wand to one of my students! I'll have you of off the board by the end of the week, now out, out!" She threw powder into the fire causing it to turn green and threw Malfoy in after it, shouting "Malfoy Manor" as she did so. Harry took this momentary distraction to wink at Dobby and mouth "talk to you later?" before attention could return to him.
"OK, so this all started when I didn't receive any mail over the summer, and it turned out that a house elf was stealing it trying to stop me from coming back to Hogwarts….and then I started hearing this voice in the walls, I told Ron and Hermione, but hearing bloodthirsty voices isn't EVER a good thing and I didn't want to be expelled….I shouted at the snake to stop and leave him alone, I didn't know what Parseltongue was and I didn't realise I was speaking it… we thought the heir was Malfoy, but heard him talk to Crabbe and Goyle and said he wished he knew…then I went in to talk to Myrtle and find out why she was upset but all there was, was this blank diary…Ginny tried to talk to us a few times and seemed off, but Percy said she just wanted to tell us an embarrassing secret of his…were visiting Hagrid to ask about the memory but he said it was an acromantula and that they lived in the forest now… snuck off to see Hermione and found a note in her hand, she had figured it out on her own…all petrified because they never saw it directly, then thought it uses the pipes, we know someone recently dead with no marks on her, what if the murdered student from before was Myrtle…voice from the pipes…Lockhart tried to obliviate us and run like all off the people he stole his books from…ghost thing over the diary called himself Tom Marvolo Riddle…very interested in me…called the Basilisk, and I said that you never truly left Hogwarts then Fawkes was there, he was brilliant, eh saved me."
Harry paused to pet the beautiful bird and hoped Ron didn't say anything to conflict with his slightly altered version of events, they don't need to know about the spiders or the pollyjuice. Sad thought it is to have my suspicions confirmed, it's been nearly 40 minutes, my voice is hoarse and I keep coughing and swaying slightly and the can't think to give me some water? Bastards.
Resentfully he continued his tale "He went for the eyes…this sword appeared out of the hat, and I jammed it through the roof of the basilisk's mouth when it lunged at me, but its fang went through my arm." Harry waved at his tattered sleeve and newest scar "I could feel it start to burn but Fawkes healed me, he dropped the diary on my lap whilst Riddle was gloating and I just stabbed it, with the fang, oh yeah here that is." He said thumping it down on the desk "the sword had gone when I looked so I guess it's back in the hat now, who's was it and why did the hat give it to me Headmaster?" Harry wondered if he would hear the truth.
"I don't know my boy, perhaps you were temporarily Hogwart's champion." He smiled beatifically at Harry "do continue."
"Well, that's about it, Ginny woke up, we crawled through the hole Ron made, and Fawkes brought us up. Oh, and Lockhart seems to have become even more useless!" Harry finished thinking sleep, sweet oblivion, he had been careful to regularly make eye contact when telling the absolute truth and not look suspicious when he bent it a little.
"Wonderful my boy, now Mrs Weasley you must take Ginevra to the infirmary, McGonagall will help; I just need a few words with Harry." Harry seriously considered screaming at him, but instead asked McGonagall if she could wait as he was still unwell.
When McGonagall was safely outside of the door having been dismissed from her own office, Dumbledore looked at Harry and said "Thank you my boy, you must have shown me great dedication to have called Fawkes to you. Now, is there anything you need to talk to me about, anything at all?"
Harry would have panicked except he knew the old man was just fishing, forcing himself to blush slightly he replied "um, you're welcome sir, I just remembered what you said about 'truly leaving' and that you hadn't trusted Riddle. I guess there is something though, the Dursleys, they really don't like me and.."
"Harry my boy" Dumbledore interrupted "I'm sure they like you, they are family after all, maybe your stubborn streak is the problem hummm." He looked at harry over his glasses "Now you simply must return this summer, it's the safest place for you."
"But.." Harry tried to continue.
"No, no your place is with your family; some rest and relaxation over the summer, now go and see madam Pomfrey for some rest of a more immediate sort" He smiled in a grandfatherly sort of way.
Harry could hardly be surprised by this callous attitude or wilful ignorance, it seemed to sum up the wizarding world. He appreciated the way it had got the little interview cut short, but I wish they would stop giving me evidence of how little they truly care, I liked my illusions dammnit.
"Ah there you are Mr Potter, come along to the infirmary with you." McGonagall chided as she steered Harry's tired body along the corridors his mind elsewhere.