Draco Malfoy Harry Potter
Alternate Universe General
The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 04/18/2004
Updated: 06/08/2006
Words: 97,140
Chapters: 21
Hits: 109,125

They Shook Hands: Year Two (Original Version)


Story Summary:
Harry Potter's holiday with the Muggles has been dreadful. He wants nothing more than to return to Hogwarts, but when he is rescued by a masked wizard in a black robe, it sets off a chain reaction of disasters. Things are no calmer at school as an ancient legend comes to life and a deadly monster stalks the halls. The new Defense professor boasts that he will end the threat, but can even the magical might of the famed Gilderoy Lockhart prevail against the Heir of Slytherin? Nobody knows who it could be, but the prime suspect is none other than Harry himself!

Chapter 18 - Fear and Worry

Chapter Summary:
The castle tries to carry on after Hagrid's dramatic arrest as Harry's fears of the school closing grow stronger. Lucius Malfoy and the other governors finally get involved in the situation, and strict new security measures are put into place. In the process of flouting those restrictions, Harry and his friends stumble onto a clue which could unlock the mystery of the Beast of the Chamber! Lockhart acts as though he solved the problem personally, and Harry is tired of listening to the windbag. The Heir of Slytherin relentlessly attacks again, this time kidnapping a student into the very Chamber of Secrets itself!
Author's Note:
All chapters are posted on Schnoogle. All chapters and some juicy extras are posted on

They Shook Hands : Year Two

An alternate (but realistic!) universe Harry Potter fic
by Dethryl

Chapter Eighteen - Fear and Worry

The Great Hall was very quiet the next morning at breakfast. Seeing the place where two Aurors had disrupted routine so greatly was enough to quiet even the firestorm of chatter that had been lit off by that very event. Students looked up at the High Table, at each other, back, forth, and all over again. When the food was served, everyone was grateful to have the excuse not to speak.

Professor Dumbledore was not in his seat at the High Table. Strange. The old wizard was always twinkle-eyed and cheery as he greeted students on a new day. Perhaps he was making fireplace calls trying to get Hagrid released.

Harry numbly spooned cereal into his mouth. This had all gone too far; this was really real. First a girl murdered in a bathroom, now a very likely innocent man arrested? Where would it end?

His melancholy musings were interrupted by the arrival of the morning post, but not even the fine sight of dozens of owls swooping into the Great Hall could cheer him today. Harry looked for his own bird, but Regal was nowhere to be found.

"Post's here," Jenna observed. "Draco, you've got something."

Arlette, Draco's eagle owl, did indeed have a letter for him. She landed between the butter and the bagels and dropped the envelope squarely into Draco's plate of eggs.

"Hey!" Draco protested. "Stupid bird!"

"She's not stupid!" Jenna exclaimed. "Good girl!" she cooed, holding out a piece of bacon. Arlette snapped it up and hooted in satisfaction. She launched into the air, leaving a couple of fluffy feathers to float gently to the table.

"Jenna, have you been corrupting my owl?" Draco demanded.


"Yes, you!"

"Would I do that?"

"Of course you would!"

Jenna's face fell, and she looked ready to cry. "How can you say that?" she accused him in a wavering voice.

"Yeah, Draco, how can you say that?"

"Stay out of it, Parkinson!"

"Don't tell me what to do!"

"Don't tell me what to do!"

"Suck an egg!"

"She still did something to Arlette!" Draco retorted.

"It's just your imagination," Jenna told him with the straightest of faces.

Draco scowled at her and opened his letter. "It's from Father!" he announced delightedly. "He and the other governors have sacked Dumbledore!"

Several nearby heads turned to look. Draco's voice had been just a tad too loud.

"A half-dozen Petrifications, finally a death, and they only now take action?" Blaise questioned rhetorically.

"Father says that he only now has the support of the rest of the governors," Draco read. "The rest had some ridiculous sentimental attachment to Dumbledore and wouldn't act before now."

"So what's going to happen to the school?" Millie asked. "Without Dumbledore here-"

"Dumbledore is not Hogwarts. The governors will simply select a new Headmaster," Tim informed them all. "One who will be equally powerless to stop the Heir of Slytherin."

"They'll be talking about closing the school," Harry said morosely. "They did in Riddle's time."

"They can't close Hogwarts!" Pansy exclaimed loudly. More heads turned.

"They can, and they will." Harry looked directly into Pansy's face. "They were a day away from it last time, and it's only a matter of time until it happens again."

Pansy shivered in his intense gaze. Her pretty green eyes grew worried. "Do you really think so?" she asked in a suddenly hushed voice.

Harry nodded. "I can't let it happen. I can't. I've got no place to go." If Hogwarts closed, he would be sent back to the Muggles, and Harry would beg in the streets of London before that happened.

By the end of the day, it seemed as though a thousand different rumours were flying around the school. The school was to be closed; it was to stay open. Dumbledore would be back; he was gone for good. About the only rumour they didn't hear was that the Chudley Cannons were favoured to win the Cup.

Deputy Headmistress McGonagall had assumed the reins of power at the school, a move which Draco's father assured them was only temporary. It was not known what, if any, new ideas the old witch had for catching the Heir and ending the madness. She ran her Transfiguration class just the same as always, which meant that Harry and his friends struggled mightily and mostly failed to understand. Potions class afterwards was always a mood booster after such torment, and Harry was glad to descend into the dungeons for Professor Snape's lecture.

"You'd think now that she's Acting Headmistress that she'd have better things to do than read two feet from each of us," Blaise complained as they walked. "Like catching the Heir of Slytherin, perhaps."

"A futile task."

Blaise sighed. "You're right, Pansy. None of her ideas worked before, and they won't work now either."

"She won't last," Tim predicted. "I don't think she has the right temperament for the job."

"Who does?" Jenna asked as she pushed open the door to the Potions classroom.

"Professor Snape," Draco answered her. "I say, that's a brilliant idea." As the Slytherins entered the empty laboratory and took their seats, he posed the question. "Professor? Why don't you apply for the Headmaster's job, sir? McGonagall's only filling in; we all know it. You're the best teacher here, sir, and I know you'd have Father's vote if you put in."

Snape couldn't suppress a thin-lipped smile. "Now, now, Mister Malfoy, let's not be hasty. Professor Dumbledore has only been suspended pending an inquiry. I daresay he'll be back with us soon enough."

"He let the attacks go on, and now a student is dead, sir. If he hadn't been removed, how do we know he would have done anything?"

"Regardless of how you may have felt about him, Mister Malfoy, Professor Dumbledore cared deeply about every student at this school."

Further discussion was interrupted by the ring of the bell. The Gryffindor students were all late. Before Snape could wave his wand and shut the door, the lot of them ran into the classroom at full speed. Chubby Neville Longbottom tripped over his own feet and took a spill in the aisle. Draco and Pansy snickered a bit, but Harry rather felt bad for the boy. Weasley helped Longbottom to his feet, and the partners sat down to catch their breath.

Professor Snape eyed them all with a cool gaze. Surprisingly, he said nothing. Perhaps still full of good cheer from Draco's praise, the Potions Master let the infraction slide. Or he could have been storing it up for later usage; one never knew with Snape.

* * *

New security measures were announced that night. All students were to be escorted from lesson to lesson by a teacher. When not in class, students were required to remain in their Houses. Curfew now started after dinner, and violations would be severely punished.

Worst of all, Quidditch practices had been suspended. For once Slytherin House and Gryffindor House were in complete agreement, and also with Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, that this was going too far. All parties protested loudly and in vain. Slytherin's Captain, Bletchley, and Gryffindor's Captain, Wood, even went to McGonagall together to plead for mercy to no avail.

Harry chaffed at the new restrictions, as did his friends. As the days passed and nothing untoward happened, the drastic measures seemed more and more onerous. Harry himself grew more irritable and waspish as the day when the school must inevitably close drew ever nearer.

Professor Snape seemed very wroth because of the long minutes he now had to spend herding students through the corridors. It was time taken away from his brewing, tongues wagged, and all the school knew how badly he reacted when that happened. The Potions Master was downright grumpy as he escorted them to their next classes. On the Thursday before Easter, it appeared that he had had enough.

"Slytherins, I must escort these Gryffindors, but I trust you are capable of finding the common room by yourselves?"

They had no more classes that day.

"Yes, sir."

Snape nodded. "Excellent. Carry on then." He swept from the room.

"Of course the Heir won't touch them," Harry heard Lavender Brown whisper nastily as the Gryffindors followed Snape out. The door closed behind the last one, and the Slytherins were alone in the Potions classroom.

"So what shall we do?" asked Millie.

"We could duel, I suppose," Crabbe suggested. "Our practice room is right down the way."

"Are you in a strange mood to get hexed?" Goyle teased him.

"We could brew up a potion." Draco had developed a burning desire to experiment with the recipes in Moste Potente Potions; brewing was his new favourite thing to suggest.

"There's no girls' toilet nearby," Jenna snickered.

"Can we please not talk about that?" Blaise made her request with a green face. Jenna had confided to Harry at breakfast that morning that Blaise was having nightmares about bodies on the floor, and they had all noticed that she wasn't quite the same old Blaise.

"Sorry," Jenna apologized.

"Oi, Crabbe!" Millie exclaimed. "The tapestry room!"

Crabbe smacked his palm against his forehead. "I'd forgotten all about it!" he confessed.

"Me too."

"Tapestry room?" Tim inquired.

"There must be hundreds in there," Crabbe replied. "Really old ones, too. I think it must be some sort of storage room, because there's boxes and stuff there too."

"Well let's check it out," Pansy urged. "Anything's better than Transfiguration homework."

"How about Charms homework?" Jenna quipped.

"Oh, shut up." Charms was Pansy's worst subject this year. And last year.

As Millie led the way through the dungeons, Harry could not help but be reminded of the time he had traced similar steps following Tom Riddle. Millie turned left where Riddle had gone right, however, and soon after, she pushed open a door and lit the torch in the sconce. What Harry saw took his breath away.

Dozens and dozens of tapestries lined the walls in brilliant, rich colours. Scenes of wizards battling horrible monsters leapt out like illustrations for some of Lockhart's outrageous stories. Dragons, fairies, angels, demons, and other things Harry had no name for were rendered in stunning detail.

"Wow," he exclaimed in a whisper.

"I'll say," Draco echoed. "I am officially impressed."

How long they wandered around the room in frank amazement, Harry could not have said. It was Tim's startled shout that broke the spell and sent them running towards the back. Tim was examining a tapestry featuring a tall man wearing black robes. The man's face was vaguely simian, but his eyes were piercing; it seemed that he was watching them. Most peculiar was that this wizard had a very big snake coiled about his arm, resting its head on the man's shoulder. Great yellow eyes glared angrily at them, and Harry felt a chill enter the room.

"Who's that?" Draco asked.

"I think it might be our bloody founder," Tim breathed.

"Where do you get that from?"

Tim pointed to the corner. "See? Ess, ess. Salazar Slytherin."

"That's an artist's mark. Our founder was not a bleeding weaver!" Goyle protested.

As they discussed the strange picture, Tim fell silent. His brow furrowed as he studied the tapestry and bent his brain to unravelling its meaning.

"Eureka!" he shouted suddenly, making Harry leap out of his skin.

"Tim?" Draco questioned.

"I think I've got it!"

"Got what?" Harry asked.

"I just need to check my books!"

"Tim!" Pansy sounded very annoyed, but Tim ignored them all and bolted from the room. The others trailed behind him as he sprinted down the hall.

"What is he on about?" Blaise panted.

"Could be anything," Jenna gasped.

They finally caught up to Tim as he was sitting down on his bed. He had a book in his hand, and he was frantically flipping pages. He came to a pause and started reading, tracing down the page with his finger. Harry's breath caught in his throat at the wild look in Tim's eyes.

"I've solved it," he whispered, scarce heard above his friends' heavy breathing.

"What?" Harry didn't dare to hope. Surely he hadn't- could his brilliant, bookish friend have figured it all out?

"It's a basilisk, Harry." Tim handed him the book. "The beast of the Chamber is a basilisk."

Harry read:

"Of the many fearsome beasts and monsters that roam our land, there is none more curious or deadly than the Basilisk, known also as the King of Serpents. This snake, which may reach gigantic size and live many hundreds of years, is born from a chicken's egg, hatched beneath a toad. Its methods of killing are most wondrous, for aside from its deadly and venomous fangs, the Basilisk has a murderous stare, and all who are fixed with the beam of its eye shall suffer instant death. Spiders flee before the Basilisk, for it is their mortal enemy, and the Basilisk flees only from the crowing of the rooster, which is fatal to it."

Harry rocked back on his heels. "Great Merlin," he swore.

"Harry, let me see." Draco took the book. "Basilisks are uncontrollable except by Parselmouths, and are thus just as dangerous to most Dark wizards as to anyone else."

"It all fits," Harry said to Tim.

"Three different roosters have been killed this year," Tim told them. "And it certainly explains the voice Harry's been hearing. Nobody else can hear it because Harry's a Parselmouth."

"But it doesn't say anything about Petrification here," Draco objected.

"Interference," Blaise said, reading over his shoulder.


"Something blocked part of the power."

"The camera!" Draco realized. "That first year tried to take a picture of it!"

"Exactly," Tim nodded. "Remember Finch-Fletchley? He must have seen the basilisk through Sir Nick. And the ghost couldn't die again."

"That doesn't explain the sixth year girl," Goyle said.

"Yes it does," Millie said. "They found her with a make-up mirror in her hand. It must have come up behind her, and she saw the reflection."

"Tim, you're a genius," Jenna congratulated him.


"So what now?" Pansy asked. "Should we go tell Professor Snape?"

"Yes," Harry said immediately. "If they can't stop the Heir, they'll close the school."

"You don't know that."

"I saw Professor Dippet's face," Harry replied. "He looked the same way all the teachers look now."

"Father won't let them close Hogwarts," Draco pointed out.

"It might not be up to him," Harry answered. "If the rest of the governors are scared-" he trailed off with a shrug.

"Let's wait until it gets to that point," Draco argued. "We're in no danger, and what should we care about the Mudbloods?"

"They don't deserve to die for something outside their control," Harry argued back.

"I bet they already know the beast is a basilisk," Pansy wagered, "and they just don't want to cause a panic."

"You can't know that," Harry said, throwing her own words back in her teeth.

"Maybe we'll get lucky and the thing will kill Lockhart," Jenna suggested.

Harry baulked. Finally he was forced to admit, "That would be delightful."

"So there we are."

"Jenna, how did you change my mind?" Harry demanded. "I was dead-set."

"I appealed to your base desires."

Though he had been persuaded to inaction, Harry's worries continued. His fears of the school closing infected his sleep, and he would toss and turn in the grip of dark and threatening dreams where Aunt Petunia would lock him in the cupboard under the stairs while a mob of Uncle Vernons gathered around and laughed at him. His sleep was not restful, and Harry grew more short-tempered with each class he sat in. His patience was finally taxed to the limit in Defence, as it happened, and Harry could no longer contain himself.

It all started when Lockhart bounded into the classroom looking downright buoyant, but he stopped in his tracks and stared at them. "What a bunch of glumfaces!" The class stared back at him. "Come now, I know that none of you were in danger from the beast, but surely you have friends in other Houses who were. There should be a bit more cheer in this room, even if you are all Slytherins."

What the heck was that supposed to mean?

Pansy raised her hand. "None of us wants the school to close, Professor."

Lockhart coughed in an insulting sort of overly polite way. "The danger has passed now, Miss Parkinson. The culprit was taken away!"

"Oh yeah? Prove it," Harry flatly challenged him.

"My dear boy," Lockhart said condescendingly, "The Minister of Magic would hardly take away Hagrid unless he were one hundred per cent certain of his guilt."

"Oh yes he would," Draco chimed in.

"I wager I know a touch more about the situation than you do, Malfoy."

Harry stood up. "You don't know anything," he said, amazed at his own nerve. "And I've got better things to do than listen to you tell stories about how great you are."

Harry shouldered his bag and walked defiantly past the sputtering idiot and out the door. Every one of his friends stood up and followed him. Nobody said anything until they were back in the stone safety of the dungeons, and then Tim doubled over with laughter. The rest of the gang degenerated into hysterics.

"That was perfect," Tim wheezed. "Harry, bloody brilliant."

"Should have done it months ago," Millie said from the floor.

* * *

In Herbology class on Friday morning, Professor Sprout had seemed close to tears. She was Head of Hufflepuff and hadn't smiled since the fatal attack, but she had not let her sorrow affect her work.

"The Mandrakes are coming along quite splendidly," she had told them. "Their acne is just clearing up, and soon they'll be trying to move into each others pots. That's when they're fully mature, and then we can save some of those poor children."

"That won't help Granger," Draco had said in an undertone. Professor Sprout heard him, to judge from the stricken look that crossed her face, but she let them leave the greenhouse without comment.

News of Granger's death had spread across the Hogwarts grapevine by this point. Some of her friends had started asking questions about her sudden disappearance and had finally been told the truth by persons unknown. Now the Hufflepuff table was a sombre place, marked with uncontrollable sobbing, shock, and despair on the part of the whole House. The stink of fear was ripe.

Once the girl's demise had been acknowledged, the choir had decided to dedicate the Easter performance to her. Harry, close to sick with his worries about the school closing, could barely focus his thoughts on the show, now only hours away.

Harry was trying to eat something for lunch when Professor McGonagall strode into the Great Hall. She looked exhausted, with dark circles under her eyes. Her jaw was square as she stopped in front of the High Table and faced the students.

"Attention, everyone," the old witch said. "I have an announcement to make." A hush fell instantly. A sea of wide eyes looked expectantly toward the Deputy Headmistress. "Tonight's choir performance has been cancelled. All students will return to their common rooms immediately. Curfew is now in effect, and any student who breaks it does so at risk of his own life. More information will be available from your Heads of House. Thank you."

There was a great deal of worried speculation going on as the students filed out of the Hall and towards their Houses. Harry had a sick feeling in his gut that what he had been dreading was finally here: there had been another attack and the school was closing. The Heir of Slytherin had won, and Harry would be exiled back to a lifetime with Muggles.

"It's time to tell Professor Snape," he said to Tim in a tone that brooked no argument.

His brilliant friend nodded. "It might be, at that. Something funny is going on. Let's tell him after the House meeting."

Professor Snape did little other than to reiterate the Deputy Head's words in the Great Hall. All students were restricted to their House without exception until morning. It was for their own protection, Professor Snape said with a twisted smile. He had good reason to be sarcastic: no Slytherin had come anywhere near the Heir's work. As the other students drifted to their dorms, Harry and Tim loitered near their Head, who was watching his House with an unreadable expression on his face.


"Yes, Mister Potter?"

"We have to talk to you."

Snape must have heard something in his voice, because he looked down sharply.

"We think Slytherin's monster might be a basilisk."

Snape's eyes narrowed. "Do I dare inquire how you have come to this conclusion?"

So they explained Tim's theory, citing all the evidence they had. Professor Snape listened to it all without a single interruption. Finally the two boys ran out of details to share and fell silent. Snape's brow crinkled as he analysed the story, and a small smile crossed his face.

"You boys realize that you've proven smarter than the entire faculty?"

Harry felt his face go red. "We just got lucky, sir," he demurred.

"Outstanding work. I'm very proud of you all. Take twenty points each, and more will follow. Perhaps there is some hope for Hogwarts after all."

Harry's heart jumped into his throat. "Then it's true, sir? They mean to close the school?"

Snape nodded grimly. "Pack your bags. All students are being sent home tomorrow. Now that we know the beast, perhaps we can reopen Hogwarts in the future, but this school year is over."

As Snape departed, Harry's black despair came to a peak. They had figured out the mystery, but it didn't matter one darn bit. Despite all his care and effort, his worst fears were being realized. There was nothing he could do to keep the school from closing short of catching and apprehending the Heir, and they still had no idea whom that might be.

Harry trudged to his room with a heavy heart. How could he face the Muggles? How could he bear Dudley's nasty comments and his uncle's ugly smirks? It made him want to cry.

Shortly after the sun sank below the horizon, dinner was sent to the common room. Harry had no appetite and stayed in his room, brooding.

"Go away," he said into his pillow when a knock came at the door.


Harry rolled over and saw Percy Weasley standing in the door. He looked a frightful mess, which was very unusual for the neat and tidy prefect. Harry could see traces of tears on his cheeks, and his lips were pale and bloodless.

"What do you want?" Harry asked moodily. He was too wrapped up in his own misery to care about anyone else's.

"I think you know," Percy whispered. "I'm sorry she hurt your friend, but please don't kill her."

"Kill who?"

"Ginny. I know she was taken into the Chamber. And it's obvious you're the Heir. You speak Parseltongue, you defeated a Dark Lord as an infant, and the only reason to take Ginny, a pureblood, would have to be a personal vendetta. She helped beat up Malfoy, your mate. But I'm asking you to give her back. I have something more valuable."

"What?" Harry was not pleased to discover that he could still be shocked today. Ginny was a Weasley, a pureblood -- poorer than dirt, but still no Mudblood. She should not have been taken. He wasn't really surprised to learn that Percy thought Harry was the Heir. Most of the rest of the school did. He didn't bother to correct Percy; the words sounded hollow even to him these days.

Percy misinterpreted his question. "It's a map. It show you all the passages of the school and where everyone is. The possibilities of this are limitless for you. It's much better than some revenge on a first year."

Despite himself, Harry was intrigued. He knew where some of the secret passages were, but a map that showed them all? That was quite a treasure.

"What do you mean it shows where everyone is?"

"I took this from my brothers on Halloween. It was this that led them to Malfoy. Allow me to demonstrate." Percy pulled out a folded over bit of parchment. He smoothed the thing out on Harry's desk. "Tap it with your wand and say, 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.'"

"Where's your wand?"

"Snape took it. He doesn't want me to go off half-cocked looking for the Heir. Fortunately, I knew where to find you."

Harry obligingly drew his wand and said the requisite words. At once, thin ink lines began to spread like a spider's web from the point that his wand had touched. They joined each other, criss-crossed, and fanned into every corner of the parchment; then words began to blossom across the top, great, curly green words that proclaimed:

Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers
are proud to present
The Marauders Map

Percy opened the folds of the parchment and revealed a wondrous map showing every detail of the Hogwarts castle and grounds. What made it truly remarkable, though, were the tiny ink dots moving around on it, each labelled with a name in minuscule writing. Astounded, Harry bent over it. A bunch of labeled dots in the centre of the parchment showed that the teachers were having a meeting.

"Percy, this is incredible."

"It shows everything: people, pets, ghosts, secret passages, everything. I've been searching for hours, and I can't find Ginny anywhere on it. The Chamber of Secrets isn't on there either. Anybody can read it, but you can wipe it clean by tapping it with your wand and saying, 'Mischief managed!'"

"And you figured out how to work it?" He knew Percy was smart, but deciphering this artefact must have taken ages.

"Let's just say that Fred and George were, shall we say, persuaded to tell me its secrets."

Which meant they probably hadn't enjoyed it. "Percy, you're a true Slytherin."

"Thank you. I knew this would please you. So can I have Ginny now?" Percy pleaded. "I won't tell the teachers it was you. I'll keep it secret. You can do with me what you wish. Blindfold me, leave me here to wait, whatever."

"Percy, this map is fantastic. But I'm afraid it doesn't help," Harry had to say.

Percy fell to his knees with a choked sob. "Then take my life. I'll give you anything you want! Just please don't take Ginny! She's only eleven. My family can't lose her!"

As tears rolled freely down Percy's face, Harry felt his guts wrench. "Percy," he said hesitantly. "Hey, it'll be okay."

The older boy's shoulders were shaking. "Will it?"

Harry was about to respond when Percy's head snapped up. Harry heard footsteps in the corridor, and Percy hurriedly moved to the door. "I've got to go. I'm under lockdown. Please, Potter. Please."

And he was gone. Harry's thoughts were a jumble of confusion. Snape had told them the school would be closed, but seeing a prefect fall to pieces like that was certainly indicative that the situation was beyond hopeless. If Percy was still convinced that he was the Heir of Slytherin, then it was only a matter of time before others accused him as well. Circumstantial evidence would be enough to convict him. It had been enough to get Hagrid expelled.

There was only one solution: Harry had to save Ginny himself.

"So how am I supposed to do that?" he asked the empty room. "I don't know where the Chamber of Secrets is. Great Slytherin, what do I do?"

It was a rhetorical question, so Harry was considerably startled when a low, chilly voice answered him. "Open the Chamber."

"Who's there?" Harry demanded, scouring the room with his eyes.

A pale, silver shadow slid into the room. It was the Bloody Baron, Slytherin's House ghost. Harry hadn't heard the Baron speak since his Sorting when the Baron had predicted that he would do well in Slytherin.

And he was certainly right about that.

"Baron? I can't open the Chamber; I don't know where it is." Had anyone questioned the ghosts? "Can you tell me?"

The Baron hissed sibilantly. "One who can help you is on the second floor. The Mudblood was not the first to die in that bathroom."

Harry started. "You can't mean -- you don't -- Moaning Myrtle?"

The Baron hissed again, and the silver blood down his front shimmered as he faded from sight.

Impressed with his ghostly visitor, Harry felt a spark of hope. Perhaps all was not lost. Tucking the Marauders Map away, Harry slowly went to his wardrobe and carefully began to dress for the cold of the castle night. He took his time, and tried to come up with an idea.

Firstly, he could discard any worries about breaking rules; with Hogwarts closing, it just didn't matter. He opened his trunk and pulled out the invisibility cloak that had belonged to his father.

"I could use some help tonight, Dad," he whispered.

Second, he needed to secure some assistance. There was no way he was going to hunt down the Heir of Slytherin alone. Draco or Tim, he decided. Perhaps both.

Third. Third. Harry tucked his precious cloak into an inner pocket of his heavy wool cloak and headed for the common room. His friends were just finishing up dessert when he arrived. Third, eat something. He sat down and dug a spoon into the snowdonia pudding. With an intense sort of single-mindedness, he devoured the remainder and looked up at Draco and Tim. "I need to talk to you two. Will the rest of you please excuse us?"

In the bustle as the last of the supper dishes were being cleaned up, the three boys ducked out through the stone wall. Professor Snape had restricted them from going further towards the castle than the Potions classroom, which left them a few corridors in which to loiter. Harry pulled his friends into a dead end just to make sure they weren't overheard.

"Harry, what's going on with you?" Tim said with a cocked head. "You're acting stranger than normal for this year."

"I need you to come with me," Harry requested. "I know where the Chamber of Secrets is, and I'm going inside."

"You what!?"

"How could you possibly know that?" Tim demanded.

"Well I don't," Harry clarified. "But I will soon. I had a visitation from the Bloody Baron."

"The Baron spoke to you?" Draco said, awed.

"He told me that Granger was not the only Mudblood to die in that bathroom. Moaning Myrtle can tell us where the basilisk came from."

"They come from a chicken's egg," Draco smirked.

"You're not funny," Tim informed him. "That's amazing, Harry. Why is he helping you?"

"He didn't say. And I'm not about to ask."

"Let's go then," Draco said seriously. "We'll sneak into the Chamber, kill the basilisk, obliterate the Heir of Slytherin, and get awards and honours."

"And save Percy's sister." Harry filled them in.

Tim scowled. "The Heir has no business accosting a pureblood."

Even Draco didn't approve of this latest action, and he had been the Heir's most enthusiastic supporter. "Blood does mean something," he insisted. "I'll do my part, Harry."

As his friends went back to the dorm to get ready, Harry checked the Marauders Map. Professor Snape was in the Potions classroom, he saw, busy at his work bench. They would need to sneak past him.

Harry shook out his dad's cloak. It ought to cover the three of them, he judged, if they walked slowly and could keep in step.

"Ready?" Tim and Draco had returned.

"The others know something's up," Tim informed him. "And they're very put out with you for not sharing."

"It's going to be dangerous," Harry pointed out needlessly. "And my dad's cloak will barely cover us three."

"I told them they needed to cover for us. If someone were to come looking and find all nine of us gone, it would be very bad." Draco had a very good point. Someone needed to watch their backs.

Harry nodded. "Let's go." He flung the cloak over them all, and they vanished into the darkness.

Walking in sync, the three boys soon reached the Potions room. Harry peered through the open door and saw Snape hard at work. His focus on the task at hand was very intense. They made no sound, but Snape still looked towards them. His eyes searched them out, and he stared for a long minute before frowning and turning back to his work.

"Move," Harry breathed.

The castle felt downright abandoned. No teachers patrolled the corridors. No prefects asked their business. In no time at all they were up on the second floor, where the writing on the wall had spawned the whole mess.

Harry felt a lump in his throat as he read the second message from the Heir of Slytherin: "Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever." Summoning his resolve, he pushed open the door to the bathroom. Once they were safely inside, Harry pulled the invisibility cloak off, and Tim locked the door. Moaning Myrtle was sitting on the toilet tank in the last stall looking absolutely miserable.

"What do you want?" she asked when she saw them.

"To ask you how you died," Harry said promptly.

Myrtle's whole aspect changed at once. She looked as though she'd never been asked such a flattering question.

"Ooooh, it was dreadful," she said with relish. "It happened right in here. I died in this very stall. I remember it so well. I'd hidden because Olive Hornby was teasing me about my glasses. The door was locked, and I was crying, and then I heard somebody come in. They said something funny. A different language, I think it must have been. Anyway, what really got me was that it was a boy speaking. So I unlocked the door, to tell him to go and use his own toilet, and then-" Myrtle swelled importantly, her face shining. "I died."

"How?" Harry asked.

"No idea," Myrtle replied in a hushed voice. "I just remember seeing a pair of great, big, yellow eyes. My whole body sort of seized up, and then I was floating away. . . ." She looked dreamily at Harry. "And then I came back again. I was determined to haunt Olive Hornby, you see. Oh, she was sorry she'd ever laughed at my glasses."

"Where exactly did you see the eyes?" Harry pressed.

"Somewhere there," Myrtle answered, waving vaguely toward the sink in front of her toilet.

It looked like an ordinary sink. Harry, Tim, and Draco examined every inch of it, inside and out, including the pipes below. And then Harry saw it: scratched on the side of one of the copper taps was a tiny snake.

"That tap's never worked," said Myrtle brightly as he tried to turn it.

"Say something, Harry," said Draco. "Something in Parseltongue."

"But-" Harry thought hard. The only times he'd ever managed to speak Parseltongue were when he'd been faced with a real snake. He stared hard at the tiny engraving, trying to imagine it was real.

"Open up," he said.

He looked at Draco, who shook his head.

"English," he said.

Harry looked back at the snake, willing himself to believe it was alive. If he moved his head, the candlelight made it look as though it were moving.

"Open," he said.

Except that the words weren't what he heard; a strange hissing had escaped him, and at once the tap glowed with a brilliant white light and began to spin. Next second, the sink began to move; the sink, in fact, sank, right out of sight, leaving a large pipe exposed, a pipe wide enough for a man to slide into.

Harry looked at his friends. "Why do we always seem to end up going down into dark holes?"

to be continued...

Yes, there is an AU version of Year One. Please read my previous work, They Shook Hands before you read this one, otherwise things will get confusing. You can join my Yahoo group Deth By Fanfiction to participate in an open forum for discussing all things about this fic. Chapter updates go out here first before I post to Schnoogle. Many thanks to my loffly beta reader, Christi. This fic would not be possible without her help. I loff you so much, Christi!