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The Venom Peddler

Chapter Text

June 23rd, 1993

Curiosity Killed the Cat. Harry thought as he slid back down the long tube to the Chamber of Secrets. He carefully held his broom above his head so that it wasn’t harmed when he landed. As he stood he rubbed his sore rump. Maybe he should have just ridden the broom down. He shouldered the broom over his left shoulder while he pulled out his wand to light up the tunnel.

He came to the cave-in pretty quickly. He transferred the lumos light to a couple of stalactites. It was a simple variation of the lumos spell found in his first year book of spells. He quickly levitated the rocks out of the way. He stacked them to the ceiling carefully. He didn’t know if it would help in another cave-in but it couldn’t hurt.

He only made a hole big enough for him to walk through. Shifting the rock any more seemed dangerous. Not that this entire venture wasn’t dangerous. He’d offered to let Ron and Hermione come with him but they’d both flatly refused. At least someone knew where he was.

He came to the puzzle door covered in snakes again. “Open.” He hissed and once again he was in the immense hall of the Chamber of Secrets. He’d heard Ginny say that she remembered nothing that happened while she was possessed when she answered the people who were rude enough to ask whenever one of her brothers weren’t there to scare them off. It seemed a pity to Harry that he was one of the few to ever see the grandeur of this chamber.

Using the lumos spell again on the first of the line of pillars saw them all lighting up then lighting the huge chamber beyond that. Harry supposed that made sense. Kind of like how turning on the light switch in a muggle house could turn on various lights at once. With more light Harry could see the pillars were elegantly carved marble once white but now somewhat dirty with green algae. There were carved snakes of various shapes and sizes wrapped around the pillars like vines.

With the light Harry could see the water was mostly clear and clean. Besides the smell of snake the Chamber didn’t smell like a sewer despite the entrance being under a bathroom. Harry wondered if the Chamber was connected to the lake and had always been a part of the water system for the castle. The girl’s bathroom would have been a ungendered bathroom in Salazar’s time. It’s not like it’d would have been unusual for him to visit it.

Harry wished he knew more cleaning spells. With the Chamber all lit up he could see several fantastic mosaics on the floor and the ceiling but they were dingy with age and algae. Once in the center of the room where the basilisk corpse still lay Harry could see that this room was the center of several hallways like the one he’d come in through.

It only reinforced that this was probably Hogwarts’ ancient water system. Harry smiled. He could only imagine how much time he could spend down here exploring if he had the time. If only he could stay at Hogwarts during the summer. He’d bet if he stayed down here the Headmaster and the other teachers probably wouldn’t even notice.

He walked up to the large head of what he assumed was Salazar Slytherin. This statue looked very different to the hunchbacked monkey figure of a statue he’d seen upstairs of the Founder. He thought he’d seen? Yes! There were two staircases one on either side of the head leading up to where the Founder’s hat would have sat. Harry quickly ran up the steps to the small balcony up there.

From above the Chamber looked even more impressive. As did the huge dead snake. Harry shuddered. Despite the nightmares and his own memory of the fight it was hard to believe he’d actually survived, that he’d actually managed to fight and kill the massive snake. He rubbed the healed puncture wound on his arm. It was as big as a galleon on the top and still as large as a sickle on the bottom. He could still remember how Madam Pomfrey had paled when she’d seen it. With the phoenix tears he’d survived the bite. Madam Pomfrey said something about wounds healed by phoenix tears shouldn’t leave marks and it concerned her that this one did. She’d cast spell after spell on the wound but finally released him when nothing came up. Still she looked at him with worried eyes every time he glanced at the Head table.

Harry turned to face the doorway behind him. Again it was a stone door covered in snakes. “Open.” He hissed. Once the snakes had pulled back Harry stepped through and stopped in shock. Whatever he’d been expecting inside Slytherin’s innermost chamber an ancient kitchen was not it. There was a massive hearth that took up a good quarter of the curved wall. There were various iron levers that could move to hang over the fire. Everything from a hook for a kettle to what looked like something you could spit a cow on. Various pots and pans hung from the ceiling and an old shelf curved against the wall across from the hearth that had held what Harry imagined were once foodstuff now long since turned to dust. A sink for washing up completed the assembly of items needed for cooking.

There was a grated hole in the floor and a solid oak table against the far wall between the shelf and the hearth with a single chair. Harry guessed that Salazar had not entertained much here in his secret chambers. There was another stone staircase just inside the door and Harry trotted up it next.

Here there was a living area. A chair and sofa near the hearth, a small end table. A blanket and pillow lay askew on the sofa along with an empty glass and a discarded book. Harry had the urge to go straighten up. Take the glass downstairs to the sink. Put the book in the small alcove he could see near the large four poster bed in the corner. A desk and chair sat under a globe that Harry didn’t hesitate to light up. The walls were covered in tapestries that moved like pictures and portraits. The largest was one of a fen under the late spring sun. Another appeared to be a family tree of some sort. It started with Salazar but quickly ran out of room after twenty of so generations. Apparently the family had been rather vast at some point. Harry wondered why there weren’t more parselmouths.

In a small alcove behind the bed Harry found a bathroom with a huge sunken stone tub and an almost throne like toilet. A sink and mirror sat near the entrance. A cup with the remains of a shave brush sat on the counter next to a rusty straight razor. The mirror slowly lit up as Harry walked closer and muttered something in a very thick accent. Harry didn’t understand most of it except for something that sounded like ‘birdd’ and ‘nest’ and assumed this mirror, like many before it, had something derogatory to say about his hair.

The next level up revealed a lab not terribly unlike the potions lab in the dungeons. Cauldrons were on the table as well as stored under it. Shelves of potion ingredients too many for Harry to count at a glance surrounded the walls. Most of the contents were dust now but it looked like a few items made of hardier stuff had survived. The next floor up was mostly bare for some reason. Only after a lumos revealed an engraved pentagram on the floor did Harry realize this must be for rituals.

The next floor up held two tables with a great variety of runes and other markings on them. Harry noted the pentagram was prominent again. Like in the potions lab downstairs there were shelves of crystals as well various other items that looked like potion ingredients again. There were also swords, daggers, spears, staves, armor hanging on the wall. He wondered what all this stuff was for. Certainly nothing he’d learned of in Hogwarts so far

As Harry climbed to the next floor up he wondered why so much seemed untouched. Surely Tom had done what Harry was doing. Poking around. Exploring the Chamber to its fullest. The next room was one Harry had been expecting. A private library.
This room had the largest ceiling by far and also seemed to be the top floor. It wasn’t just books but also scrolls, clay and stone tablets. Almost everything in the room had the same curly shifting script. If the entire book wasn’t written in the twisty script then notes in the margins were written in it. Reading it was interesting. Harry could hear the hissing words in his mind which made sense he supposed. Parseltongue was a language with layered nuances. Even the simple word ‘Open’ took several syllables to say. Despite the age of the books they were in good condition. Harry knew you couldn’t put as strong a preservation spells on things like food and ingredients that you could on parchment so that probably explained it.

Harry read one of the stone tablets which talked about the origin of parselmouths in England. Apparently a cult had ritualistically swallowed snakes whole to gain the ability initially. Harry shuddered. That sounded nasty. Apparently after several generations had done this parselmouth became an inheritable ability. Harry pulled back from the tablet with a raised eyebrow. Bully for them. It still made Harry wonder why there weren’t more parselmouths. Maybe the knowledge had been lost once it became inheritable?
He cast a tempus and figured he had about four hours left before Ron and Hermione would raise an alarm. He wondered if there was any information in here about basilisks. He looked through the scrolls first and found a beautiful rendering of the King of Serpents. He started reading eagerly but it looked to be a guide to breeding basilisks. He frowned but nevertheless skimmed through the document when he saw something that startled him and stopped him in his tracks. He read out loud in a quiet hiss. “Once one has bred a basilisk breeding more is easily done. Basilisks are genderless and lay eggs based on the presence of their master. It can be up to the master whether to care for the eggs and ensure their survival or to leave them in the nest to die and be reabsorbed by the basilisk. A basilisk may undergo this process several times over its lifetime. All that is needed is the presence of a speaker to trigger gestation.”

Harry’s eyes grew wide and he quickly put the scroll down on a desk. He grabbed his broom and hurried down the stairs to the kitchen. There he peered down into the grate into what he had assumed was the basilisk’s nest. Sure enough there was a small bundle of what looked like chicken eggs sitting in the center just under the grate.

Harry ran outside into the large part of the chamber again and leap off the balcony on to his broom. He hovered gently into the still open mouth of the statue and found his feet in the small nest. He cautiously approached the eggs before finally kneeling down next to them. He reached out a slow hand but jerked back in surprise when the egg lurched towards him.

He breathed out in shock. They were alive. He reached out again and quickly scooped the one that had moved up in his hand and brought it to his ear. “Hello.” He hissed.

He could hear the tiny hissing of the snake inside and from in front of him the hissing of the other eggs. Quickly he tucked his shirt into his loose pants and tightened his belt before gently lifting and slipping each egg into his shirt. They nestled warmly against the skin of his belly. There were six eggs in total.

He mounted his broom and hurried back up to the library. Now that he knew there were eggs to hatch he wanted to read that scroll more closely.