Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, I

Wait a minute, thought Ginny. What? She hadn’t expected Draco to be thefinal victim at all; if anything, he was the only person she’d ruled out. Theattacks had all been arranged by Voldemort; these last three weeks in advance.And Voldemort’s plan, according to the Basilisk, who had read his mind, was topermanently occupy Draco’s body, and to kill Harry and frame him for theattacks. How would Draco being petrified square with that?

Could another Parselmouth have ordered an attack? Ginny seriously doubted thatRon had done such a thing; he hated Draco, but he hated speaking inParseltongue, too, and surely wouldn’t have found or used the Chamber. Harrywas another possibility, but he was such a supreme rationalist that it wasdoubtful he’d be violent in that way, and on top of that, Ginny couldn’t thinkof a motive. A further possibility, which simply hadn’t occurred to her atfirst, was that Voldemort had deliberately targeted the body he thought hewould be in, so that he could foil the attack and add to his false heroicnarrative. Without Voldemort in Draco’s body planning a defense, the attackwouldn’t be foiled, and would instead proceed as the Basilisk planned it.

“Narcissa Malfoy innut gon’ter be happy about this,” said Rubeus Hagrid,Hogwarts’ half-giant groundskeeper, who was carrying Draco out of the school,through the front door, towards a safe storage facility.

“Mr. Hagrid, the potions are nearly ready,” said Professor Slughorn, who wastrailing behind him. “Draco will be as good as new within a fortnight.”

“There’re whispers about the school might close,” said Hagrid. “Most’ve thekids are already either transferred out or on a leave o’ absence.”

“When the summer’s finally arrived, the Chamber will be located anddismantled,” said Slughorn. “According to the Headmistress, Mr. Potter sayshe’s finally found a lead-”

The door closed behind them, and Ginny, no longer able to eavesdrop, turnedand walked away. Soon, another conversation walked into her vicinity.

“It’s big news,” said Tracey.

“No,” said Lavender. “No, no, no no no.” She was very nervous, and Ginnydecided this conversation must be important. “You mean he’s in the schoolright now?”

“Either that or he figured out how to Apparate in an area with anti-Apparitionwards,” said Tracey. “Oh! Ginny!” Aw, there’s no point in eavesdropping ifthey notice you and tell you exactly what they’re talking about anyway.“There you are! There’s a nasty update on the Defense Professor story.”

“What now?” said Ginny.

“They checked the wards’ records,” said Lavender, “and the Defense Professornever left the area that it’s impossible to Apparate in.”

“Theoretically he could have left without the wards detecting it by using aPortkey or the Floo Network,” said Tracey, “but those are also recorded andcheckable, and he didn’t do that, either.”

“Great,” said Ginny. “More problems.” She then ran off.

“Ginny!” called Lavender. “Where are you going?”

Looking for more conversations to eavesdrop on, idiot!

Ginny was interrupted, however, by the appearance of a solid white human; thefamous Potter Patronus. It spoke to her in Harry’s voice, which kept cracking,and sounded slightly crazed:

“Ginny! This is Harry Potter speaking! I need you to get here, A-S-A-P! I’m inan obscure washroom located behind the Owlery! When you get there, you’ll seea note I left; follow the instructions at the bottom of it! Come alone anddon’t worry – you are in no danger, I repeat, you are in no danger!_Everything I have jusst ssaid iss true. _Harry Potter out.”

Ginny was already walking in the direction of the Owlery by the time thePatronus disappeared. On her way there, she sent Patronus messages to everyremaining member of the More Sane Squad, telling them to have the washroombehind the Owlery investigated if anything unusual happened in the next fewhours. She got a few responses – Tracey was very concerned, and was disturbedby the possibility that Ginny was walking into danger; Ginny wound up needingto reassure her that no such thing was happening. Ginny wasn’t walking intodanger, after all; Harry had said so and confirmed in Parseltongue. Thepossibility sort of hit Ginny that she might have been False Memory Charmedinto a dangerous situation, especially considering Gilderoy Lockhart’scontinued presence in the school, and his modus operandi – would he be waitingin the Owlery washroom, waiting to jump her? But worrying about delusions thatmight have been magically placed on you was no way to live, even if it was amore likely situation than being a randomly briefly-formed brain in the midstof high-entropy space. Hesitating because of the possibility of False MemoryCharms would be like giving into blackmail – it might be the best decision inthis case, but it would make the world in general worse. Ginny readied herwand in case of a surprise regardless.

Glug-glug, glug-glug, glug-glug, glug-glug…

When Ginny got to the Owlery, she saw Harry, his robes stained with sweat, hislimbs shaking, and his eyes bloodshot, standing on the opposite side of it.

“Yes, Ginny!” said Harry, rather loudly from across the room. “It’s this way!”

“Harry, wait!” said Ginny, but Harry had already disappeared, through a smalldoor that was practically hidden in the wall.

Glug-glug, glug-glug, glug-glug, glug-glug…

Ginny approached the door Harry had gone through, and as she did, she suddenlydetected a strong magical field – Amortentia, it was definitely Amortentia. Itwas much, much stronger than a single cup of the stuff, but it was absolutelyAmortentia. It made Ginny wonder what that room in the Department of Mysteriesreally contained – Lockhart had said it was a fountain of Amortentia, but itdidn’t feel anything like what Ginny now felt.

Glug-glug, glug-glug, glug-glug, glug-glug…

When Ginny opened the door, what she saw was horrifying:

Owl feces and owl pellets entirely coating the floor and each wall. (Ofcourse, that was probably always there.)

Four sinks, each on the floor, each decorated with the signature animal of adifferent founder, the fourth, the Slytherin sink, opened up into a chute thatextended down further than Ginny could see – obviously leading to the Chamberof Secrets.

Leaning over that fourth sink, a smiling statue of Harry – it was Harry, hemust have been Petrified recently. It, too, was covered in owl feces.

In Harry’s petrified arms, a cauldron – a Tennant’s Bottomless Cauldron, infact – from which was pouring, with each second, a steady flow of Amortentia,straight down the chute to the Chamber of Secrets.

On Harry’s back, a note (attached with Spellotape) in his (shaky) handwriting:

“OPERATION DOMESTICATION:

petrification == Legilimency 2.0. Confirmed with Acromantula study

basilisk survived attack from tom riddle. how?

MULTIPLE BASILISKS == SLYTHERIN’S MONSTER

PARSELTONGUE COMPUTERS

Amortentia+deliberate self-Petrification == C.oherent E.xtrapolatedV.olition == real Yalizer

can’t do it alone. am locked out for reasons. Ginny

cast Bubble-Head Charm on self to protect self from Amortentia

use Feather-Falling Potion on table to descend directly to Chamber entrance

open Chamber and speak with Monster

decide on best course of action with it”

Ginny gulped. Perhaps the rumor that everyone got an end-of-the-year adventureat Hogwarts were true. It was certainly turning out to be true for her. Shestashed Harry’s note in her pocket (she didn’t understand every word, but shedid at least understand the general gist of her directions), created aprotective bubble around her head, swallowed the Feather-Falling Potion thatHarry had left, and threw herself down into the unknown depths below…


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