Harry felt like the last month had been a blur. A blur of emotions, of memories, and a whole overload of new information. Hogwarts was amazing, of that he was certain. But he still felt like he was scrambling just to keep up. To add to the whole overwhelming experience and his chaotic rollercoaster emotions, the fact was that he wasn’t sleeping well still. The bed was so large and so comfortable, which just felt strange, because he was used to the old cot in his cupboard or the lumpy bed in Dudley’s spare room. And he was still getting used to being in close proximity to so many people. It was getting easier as time passed though. It was only the first week of October. He was sure that by December he’d be accustomed to it all.
He was currently in the Gryffindor common room playing chess with Ron, his friend. Well, playing chess was a bit of an optimistic explanation of what was going on. Ron was crushing him, but trying to teach. Harry just wasn’t very good at chess, though he didn’t mind playing it. Ron was trying to help him improve, and he wasn’t mocking him for repeatedly losing. Harry knew without a shadow of a doubt, that his former muggle classmates would not have been so kind.
“-there’s word going around that Garrett's a parselmouth!” A voice belonging to a sixth-year boy piped up loudly from behind Harry’s head. Ron looked up, startled. Harry could see his friend go quite pale. It was especially obvious against the red hair and freckles. Curious, Harry listened in closely.
“Don’t be stupid Tony! There’s no way that’s true. You-Know-Who was the last one,” An older girl snapped back at the boy.
“The last European parselmouth you mean. There’s some in India and Australia I believe,” A third person, a boy, corrected the other two.
Harry was still watching his friend carefully. Ron still seemed frozen, but some colour had returned to his skin. Harry was wondering what it was that could frighten the red headed boy so much. Time to find out he decided.
“Excuse me?” He asked, and turned to face the older students. “What’s a parselmouth?”
“It’s none of your- oh. Potter. Right. I guess you haven’t heard the term before then?” The older boy stopped his dismissal mid-sentence and for once Harry was glad for his fame.
“A parselmouth is someone who can talk to snakes Potter. Like You-Know-Who,” The girl explained.
“Yeah. It’s hereditary, meaning passed down through the blood. Salazar Slytherin was one too. All British parselmouths are descendants of his,” The second boy continued the explanation.
Harry blinked. Oh. “Thank you,” He said, because he always tried to be polite. He then turned back to his friend. Ron was still staring off, looking disturbed. “Your move Ron,”
“Right. Of course, mate,”
Harry took a deep breath as the game went on. He’d learned that witches and wizards held a very deep fear and superstitious nature when it came to anything related to Voldemort. Most wouldn’t even say his name, though they believed him to be dead. It made sense that any abilities the man had would be viewed in awe and fear, even if it were just a language.
The thing was, Harry knew that he could talk to snakes. He’d done it before, at the zoo. He was a parselmouth. No wonder the hat had wanted him in Slytherin.
He’d have to keep this ability hidden. And also learn more about it. It might save his life one day.
Harry’s “dark” ability became very important the next year at Hogwarts. It didn’t surprise him. Well, the way it became important surprised him; he would never have been able to predict that. What he had predicted was his own brand of luck. If anything bad could happen, it would likely happen to him. The chance of something bad happening increased at certain points of the year, such as the end of October and the end May (the end of the school year). It also increased whenever he was around unreliable teachers or adults. Last year had been Quirrell and Hagrid, this year was Lockhart. Also, possibly Hagrid.
To be fair, Hagrid didn’t mean any harm. Ever. It was just that he assumed that everyone was as strong and resilient as he was. Most of the students weren’t half-giant however, and so were considerably more fragile than the man believed them to be.
The first incident had been on Halloween, with the petrification of Mrs Norris and the bloody message on the wall. He’d heard the voice through the walls and assumed it to be a person. It had been so loud compared to any of the snakes he had heard before, and something about the accent had been off.
It was only after the incident, when he’d been lying in his bed that he realised that the voice hadn’t been human at all. During the next history class Professor Binns had told them the legend of the chamber of secrets, and Harry had connected the dots. The “monster” was clearly some massive species of snake, and it was likely hundreds of years old. Hence the peculiar accent and how loud the voice had been.
The incident had sent the gossip mills into a tizzy. Everyone was scared all of a sudden, and a certain group of students even set up a scam selling “protection amulets” to all the gullible students. Harry informed his friends of the giant snake theory, though he didn’t mention that he could communicate with snakes himself. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust his friends, it was that he didn’t trust the staff and students. In a castle like Hogwarts it was nearly impossible to be sure that no one was listening in on your conversations. From the places a person could hide, to the spells used to monitor other people, to the ghosts that could be standing in the very walls, and the portraits on the walls that were so easy to forget about, Hogwarts was a privacy nightmare Harry had concluded.
Hermione, being the brilliant witch she was, put giant snake, parselmouth, and petrification together to discover that the monster was likely a basilisk in a matter of days. Harry then passed that information onto the Gryffindor quidditch team, as that was the fastest way to spread information out onto all the other year levels.
It was all over the school in a matter of hours.
The next incident was the killing of Hagrid’s roosters. That was all the confirmation most people needed, and soon after Professor McGonagall’s office was crowded with students asking her to teach them to transfigure regular items into roosters.
Harry and his friends stayed out of it though. Upon learning how dangerous a basilisk was, none of them were keen on confronting it. Harry also had argued with them that now they had warned all the staff and students they really had done their job. Ron’s only further suggestion at that point was to carry small mirrors with them, so that they could check corners before stepping around them. Ron had always had a mind for tactics and strategy, so of course they had all started doing just that.
The next big incident had happened at the duelling club. Harry and his friends had gone along to that hoping for a good demonstration at least, as to what older witches and wizards could do. What had ended up happening was a rather hilarious if useless demonstration between Snape and Lockhart. Watching Lockhart land ass over tits was great. It had made some of the resentment which had built up thanks to the useless classes the man taught vanish. It hadn’t really helped much in terms of learning though. After what had happened between him and Quirrell last year, Harry had really been hoping for some help with fighting another magical person.
Then he got put up on stage with Malfoy, and was asked to perform a spell he’d only had one chance to even try before. Like that was going to go well.
At least he performed the spell that had been asked of him, and had not cheated like Malfoy and summoned a highly venomous snake into a room full of people. It had been one of the hardest things he’d ever done. To stand aside and do nothing as the snake shouted out its rage and confusion at being abruptly summoned to a place it had never been before.
He stood aside and did nothing as Lockhart offered his brand of “help”, which only enraged the snake further. The snake then locked its eyes onto Justin Finch-Fletchley. He wanted so badly to help of course. The boy hadn’t done anything to deserve being bitten by such a dangerous snake. But Harry knew better. Magical healing was much better than muggle, especially in terms of handling poisons and venoms. Plus, there was Professor Snape. A Potions Master who was literally at the scene. It wasn’t Harry’s job to save the other boy.
So, he stayed where he was and said nothing. The snake coiled up and struck out, biting Justin in the leg. Harry flinched at how loudly the boy screamed. That sound seemed to pierce his heart.
“Not my problem,” He reminded himself in a whisper that no one else heard over the screams and shouts of the other students. “Not my responsibility.”
There were older students in the crowd. Some of them seventh years. Surely one of them knew a banishing spell. It was fourth year material if he remembered Hermione’s lecture correctly. Most of those students should know it, and be taking the initiative to perform it.
Professor Snape did his job before the snake could bite again however, and banished it. He rushed over to the Justin’s side and began administering first aid. Harry hadn’t known that the man carried what looked like a medical kit (but was filled with potions) around with him. He shouldn’t have been surprised. The man was the type to always be prepared, and he took his responsibilities seriously. Regardless of his poor treatment of some students, like Harry himself and Neville Longbottom, Professor Snape was one of the most reliable members of staff.
Justin was fine in the end. Professor Snape got to him fast enough that the only consequence he faced was an evening in the infirmary. There were other consequences to what happened that day though, ones Harry hadn’t seen coming.
The first was that the house of badgers now idolized Snape. And by idolized he meant they outright stalked the professor. They followed him around, paid him compliments, and from what Harry heard had even gone so far as to find out when the man’s birthday was. They were going to send him gifts apparently. The funniest part of all this, in Harry’s mind, was that there was nothing the man could do to dissuade them. There was nothing he could say to them to hurt them, no task he could give them that they wouldn’t do with a smile, and no amount of point-loss that fazed them. Or threatened point-loss, Harry should say. Professor Snape never took too many points off for their behaviour, and the ones he did were usually returned by the end of the day.
“How mysterious.” Harry had commented sarcastically when he noticed.
Loyal and hardworking were not good traits for a fan club, if you were the one they were fanning over. It made it hard for them to be shaken off, even with Snape’s best uses of snark and intimidation. It also made it hard to be mean to them Harry suspected. A Hufflepuff could stand there with wide eyes, looking like a kicked puppy if you rejected them. For hours.
The second result was what Harry could only describe as one of the greatest massacres in history. Well, “massacre” might be a bit much seeing as it was only one person targeted. But the person was targeted so well, and so thoroughly, that it was awe inspiring. He definitely saw some of the more politically aspiring Slytherins, and worryingly enough, the Weasley twins, taking notes.
Hufflepuff house held Lockhart responsible for what had happened to Justin, and they were not forgiving.
People seemed to forget that badgers build dens, and within those dens they form tightly knit family groups. You attack one of their family, and you attack all the family. This doesn’t just go for current members either. The former Hufflepuff network was one that rivalled the Slytherin network, and unlike the Slytherin network, this one was much more dangerous. Hufflepuffs don’t discriminate between bloodlines or occupations, so their network is the largest. It extends nearly everywhere. From food production, to clothing, markets and shops, to politics, even the auror division was tied up with them. The Slytherin network only accepts the best of the best. Those with financial and political power, those who are at the top of their academic field. It’s so much more limited. People underestimate badgers. They think they’re the lowest of the low. The ones who weren’t cunning enough, who weren’t smart enough, who weren’t brave enough. They’re wrong. It takes strength to always show kindness. To actively demonstrate compassion. Badgers can be ruthless to outsiders though.
Lockhart’s destruction started off slowly. Little pranks. His special shampoo had something added to it that made his hair fall out and not grow back. The man ended up wearing wigs. His toothpaste was swapped for something that stained his teeth green and his gums yellow. Holes appeared in his clothing. His wand went missing for a few days. His food was either over or undercooked. Sometimes it spilled onto him when it was being delivered. Then it got bigger and moved away from pranks. The clothes he owl ordered arrived damaged. His facial creams went out of stock. Bookstores starting writing to him to say that they would no longer be willing to sell his books.
It didn’t take long for the man to be at his wits end. None of the other staff members offered to help him though. Lockhart hadn’t made any friends during his time with his arrogance and narcissistic attitude. Professor Snape seemed to be quietly enjoying his view of the events unfolding, and if the rumours had been true, had offered his discrete help to the badgers. Whether that was true, and whether they took him up on the offer was unknown. Harry thought it was certainly possible.
Just a few weeks before exams were due to start, aurors did come to Hogwarts to arrest Lockhart. They’d been looking into his past and discovered that the man had been stealing achievements from others, erasing their memories, and then writing about them for profit. He was arrested during dinner time in the great hall. In front of all the students, staff, and several members of the press which had been “unofficially” invited along. The students had risen to their feet and cheered once Lockhart had his hands behind his back and his wand confiscated. Harry and his friends had joined in, though Hermione had been a little heartbroken. No one liked it when someone they looked up to turned out to be a fraud.
Once Lockhart had been removed the aurors stayed. Tales of a possible basilisk roaming the school had reached outside ears, and they were keen to investigate.
They found that Ron’s little sister was in possession of a cursed diary, one that was feeding off her apparently. When they tried to remove it Ginny had gone hysterical, and one of the aurors had been forced to physically restrain her while Professor Snape had cast a fire spell that Harry never heard of. “Fiendfyre”. It had glowed a bright green and devoured the diary, and disturbingly enough the diary had also started screaming before it was snuffed out.
Afterwards Ginny had been mostly okay. She was going to be seeing a mind healer regularly for the next few months (minimum), but the badgers had come through for the Weasley family. One of them had an aunt who was a mind healer, and she offered to counsel Ginny for a third of the normal cost in exchange for some of Mrs Weasley’s famous chocolate chip biscuits.
As it turns out there really was a basilisk in the school. An international team had to be called in to deal with it. It took them about a week to find the entrance to the chamber of secrets, and they got in thanks to the Indian witch they had with them who was a parselmouth. They made their way down to the lowest point of the school, and after determining that the ancient basilisk had lost her sanity, put her down as humanely as possible.
The chamber was then cleaned out. All the old skeletons were removed, the dust was vanished, and the shed snake skins were sold for what was frankly a ridiculous amount of money. That money then went into buying new school brooms, replacing some of the outdated and older potions and astronomy equipment, as well as towards the victims. Some of the victims had missed out on months of schooling, or in Ginny’s case a serious reduction in her ability to learn during that time. The money was only to pay for tutors over the summer months though.
Harry’s greatest moment came when he managed to speak with Aisha, the Indian parselmouth. She didn’t speak any English, but that didn’t matter of course. She’d been shocked when he’d opened his mouth and hissed at her, but had soon responded in kind. She had also understood why he kept his ability hidden.
Harry had never spoken to anyone regarding his ability, and certainly never dreamed of speaking to someone else who had the same ability as he did. It had been wonderful though. Wonderful to know that in other places in the world his ability would be celebrated, not feared. And to know that he had options in the future; options for travelling and careers that he had never even thought about.