The news was all around the school by morning; Mrs. Norris had been petrified and her blood was used to write a morbid message on the wall: THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR BEWARE.
The castle was alive with speculations on the chamber and what it could possibly contain; they even managed to get Binns to talk about it during History of Magic the next day and the story of Slytherin's secret chamber was all over the school by mid-morning and Hermione dragged them both to the library as soon as breakfast got out.
It was too bad that the book she was looking for, Hogwarts: A History, had all of its copies checked out and her own copy had been left at home in favor of Lockhart's books.
"Should've just left them," Ron mumbled to him as Hermione ranted about the missing copies. "It's not like it would've made that much of a difference."
That was beyond true. Two months into the school year and Lockhart's class consisted of him acting out scenes from his books, usually using Harry as the creature he was taking down. Gabriel was just as disgruntled about it as he was and, much to Hermione's disapproval, he tended to skip the class more often than not, taking refuge in the library where Madame Pince turned a blind eye to what he was doing (it seemed that Lockhart had attempted to tell her how to properly organize the library and she hadn't forgiven him the offense). While Harry was clueless as to what was going on in Lockhart's class he was learning more about defense than he had since coming to Hogwarts.
"I just can't figure out what Slytherin's monster is!" She fumed, sitting down at one of the library tables in defeat. "I can't find any creatures that petrify like what happened with Mrs. Norris!"
Harry had to admit that he wasn't having much luck in finding out anything about the monster, either. All the books on magical creatures agreed that petrification on the level that had happened with Mrs. Norris was impossible. That left only spells behind the cat's current state and the Professor's seemed sure that no student would be able to cast the powerful spells that would cause that effect. Harry just got the feeling that they were all missing something, something horribly important.
Gabriel wasn't any help in identifying the cause or the culprit. Harry's counterpart was adamant that they stay out of it and let the teachers handle the situation. Being at low power and not even complete in sync yet left them with a glaring weakness that Gabriel didn't want to risk being exploited.
The problem was that Harry had a feeling that they'd be dragged into this mess whether they liked it or not and most of the time his feelings came true.
When they weren't in the library trying to solve the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets, Harry was down by Hagrid's cabin visiting Hope. The unicorn had been absent most of the year due to getting ready to give birth to three healthy unicorn foals and she had brought them to meet him now that they were strong enough to walk the distance.
Two of the foals were a beautiful pure white while the third foal took after both its parents and was spotted with gold. Harry found that the gold spotted unicorn was his favorite as he had warmed right up to Harry immediately.
"I'll call you Sol," he told the rather hyper foal before turning to the two watching foals. "You'll be Celestica and Mystica," he told the two, smiling as they seemed to approve the names. He wasn't sure what had prompted him to name them that but decided to just go with it as both Celestica and Mystica seemed pleased with their names.
Hope gently nudge Harry to her side and the twelve year old let out a content hum as Sol snuggled up to him, Celestica claiming his other side and Mystica deciding to use his legs as a pillow. 'They're so cute!' Gabriel cooed in his head and Harry wondered if this meant that his counterpart wanted to keep them as well. Tinker and Havoc, the two pixies that had made themselves at home in Harry's pockets, were already enough trouble as it was and the only reason that Professor McGonagall hadn't demanded they go was the fact that the rest of Gryffindor Tower had adopted the two pixies as well and hadn't actually told her about them yet.
'They haven't broken anything.' Gabriel countered, seeming pleased with something. 'Well, not anything that belongs to Gryffindor anyways. Lockhart's stuff is fair game!'
Something told him that he didn't want to know what the two scemeing pixies had done to the rather idiotic Defense , he leaned back against Hope's warm body and closed his eyes as a feeling of peace came over him.
He spent the next couple of hours dozing in and out of sleep, no worries keeping him stressed and awake, which was a nice change from normal. Hope and her three foals seemed just as content to lay there and even Gabriel hummed happily in the back of their mind. Harry didn't realize how much he had missed spending time with Hope before now and he silently promised himself not to let so much time pass before visiting her again.
Weeks passed without so much as another whisper about the Chamber of Secrets and the whole school was buzzing about who the culprit could have been. No one was taking the threat of the Chamber's "monster" seriously excepted for the teachers and Harry and his friends. It seemed that no one considered the fact that anything that could petrify a cat without being seen or leaving a trace could easily move onto students.
Harry himself hadn't considered that fact until Gabriel had pointed it out in their head. He was understandably worried that whoever had opened the Chamber and attacked Mrs. Norris had an agenda and the last time that someone in Hogwarts had an agenda, Harry ended up on the wrong side of Voldemort and had nearly died.
Harry, though, wasn't able to think much more about the Chamber or the secrets it held as the first Slythern-Gryffindor Qudditch match of the year arrived. Oliver was in a right tizzy, pushing up practices and demanding perfection from the players, saying that if they were going to beat Slytherin on their better brooms, they needed to think less and react more.
Gabriel agreed. 'Thinking your actions through slows you down,' he expalined at Harry's questioning prod. 'Muscles memory doesn't require thought and if you do it right enough, it becomes second nature to you.'
That sounded annoyingly logical but Harry remained that repeating was one thing and being forced to spend nearly as much time possible outside, no matter the weather, practicing the same move over and over was another.
"Slytherin's got better brooms," Wood began as the team gathered around for their pre-game speech. "No point denying it. But we've got better people on our brooms. We've trained harder than they have, we've been flying in all weathers and we're going to make them rue the day they let that little bit of slime Malfoy buy his way onto their team!" Chest heaving in emotion, Oliver turned to Harry. "It'll be down to you, Harry, to show them that a Seeker has to have something more than a rich father. Get that Snitch before Malfoy or die trying, Harry, because we've got to win today. We've got to!"
Harry gave him a solemn nod, eyes already planning out the best ways to shake Malfoy off his tail when they got on the field. Soon enough the team was making their way out to the pitch where the watching students erupted into cheers, only Slytherin booing their team. Oliver and Flint shook hands before readying themselves on their broom, the two opposing teams doing the same.
"On my whistle," Madam Hooch called out to them. "Three...two...one!"
The players were up in the air as soon as the whistle sounded, all of them moving to their practiced spots on instinct alone; just in time for one of the Slytherin Beaters to send a bludger hurtling towards one of the Gryffindor chasers only to be blocked by one of the Twins taking point on her, just as Oliver had, had them practice for the past month.
Harry didn't really have all that much to do until he located the Snitch so he just hoved near the start off point.
"All right there, Scarhead?" Malfoy yelled as he darted back and forth beneath him, probably trying to show off the speed of his broom. Harry ignored him as he swerved to the side to avoid a bludger that was heading straight for him. It was such a close near miss that Harry could have sworn he felt the bludger ruffle his hair as it passed.
"Close one, Harry!" George called as he sped past him, bat ready to knock the bludger back towards a Slytherin. Harry saw George give the bludger a hard whack in the direction of Adrian Pucey and was glad he had been watching as the bludger immediately turned course to head straight for him once again. Letting out a surprised curse, Harry maneuvered downward just in time for it to pass him once again. George hit it in the direction of Draco Malfoy, this time.
Then, like a boomerang, the bludger was heading for him once again. Harry heard Gabriel curse in their head and put on speed as he attempted to keep ahead of the bludger pursuit. He had no idea what was going on; bludgers were meant to unseat as many players as possible and yet this one seemed to have fixated on him for some odd reason.
Fred was waiting for the bludger as Harry sped past him on his broom, ducking just in time for Fred to knock the bludger off course from its destination of Harry's head. "Gotcha!" he yelled in triumph.
If only it was that easy as Gabriel barely managed to warn Harry in time as the bludger came after his head again. The twelve year old was getting more and more upset as the bludger continued to focus on him like it was magnetically attracted to him. To top it all off, it had started to rain and the droplets were hindering his already poor eyesight. 'Can't wait until that get's fixed,' Gabriel grumbled before shouting off another warning as the bludger approached.
The Nimbus Two Thousand responded eagerly to his directing and in was almost as if Harry and the broom were one as he avoided the bludger and zigzagged across the field at full speed. Fred and George kept on him, knocking the bludger away whenever it became dangerously close and Harry made a promise to himself to thank them after the game was through.
The Twins finally managed to signal to Oliver as they kept the bludger away from Harry as best as they could. The bludger was getting dangerously close to taking his head off as he made a mad dash across the field and back on the broom.
Madam Pince walked over their way as a timeout was called and it was just luck that the bludger took that time to launch into another attack, Harry barely able to roll his broom out of the way as Fred deflected it. The Flying instructor looked at the bludger in shock as rebounded back before dodging herself as Harry was forced to head her way to avoid having his nose broken.
"I've never seen such a thing!" she sputtered and motioned for the Twins and the Slytherin beaters to help her with the bludger. The four of them just barely managed to get the fighting ball into its case as Madam Hooch motioned to McGonagall to inform the watching students of what was happening.
"It seems that a Bludger has gone rogue and attempted to take the head off of the Gryffindor Seeker," Lee Jordan announced at Professor McGonagall's prompting. "The game has been called to a timeout until Madam Hooch can figure out what's wrong with it."
Harry gave a sigh of relief as he was able to hover in the air without worry of the bludger coming after him for the first time since the game started. Madam Hooch had her wand pointed at the ball, muttering something under her breath and frowning as her wand glowed red. "This bludger has been jinxed," she finally declared. "Someone set it up to target Mr. Potter only. When I find out who did this..." she trailed off, her eyes flashing in undisguised anger.
The Slytherin team looked just as stunned as the rest of them, however well they tried to hid it. Malfoy, on the other hand, looked amused and was snickering behind his hand as it was declared that the game would continue without the bludger as she had no clue how to reverse the jinx that was on it.
Ten minutes later and the snitch was in Harry's hand, Gryffindor winning 170 to 60. The fact that the Snitch had been hovering over Malfoy's ear when Harry had caught it was only icing on the cake and the blond Slytherin could be heard swearing up a storm all the way to the Slytherin dressing room.
"Unbelievable flying!" George said as the twins cornered him in the dressing room, ginning. "I've just seen Marcus Flint yelling at Malfoy. Something about the Snitch being right on top of his head and him not noticing. Malfoy didn't look pleased."
"It's a good thing Madam Hooch caught that rogue Bludger and took it out of the game," Fred added with a grimace. "That thing was strong! It'd have probably taken your head off if it had hit you!"
"Come on!" Alicia called from the girls side of the changing room. "Oliver and the other's are getting the house-elves to bring up food to the Common Room! Says he wants to celebrate the first victory of the season!"
The Twins ruffled his hair with two matching grins before leaving Harry to finish changing and make his own way up to the castle.
'I hope they have cake,' Gabriel said and Harry doubted that he had heard his counterpart happier since they had started talking. Shaking his head with his own grin, Harry quickly dried himself off and threw on his robes before nearly running out of the dressing room and up to the castle.
With his luck, if he had dawdled, the Twins would have eaten all the cake.
Harry was awoken with a groan later that night by a popping noise that filled the boy's dorm room. Being a light sleeper, Harry was the only one to wake up out of the boys he shared a dorm room with. Squinting his eyes in the dark, he fought not to scream in shock as large green eyes looked back at him. "Dobby?" he asked softly in disbelief.
"Harry Potter came back to school," Dobby whispered miserably. "Dobby warned and warned Harry Potter. Ah, why didn't you heed Dobby? Why didn't Harry Potter go back home when he missed the train?"
Harry blinked and replied without thinking. "I didn't miss the train," he said in confusion. The barrier had closed, sure, and it had nearly been a close call but he hadn't missed the train. Dobby looked up in surprise at his reply before shaking his head miserably once more.
"Dobby was so surprised when he heard that Harry Potter was back at Hogwarts," the little house-elf mourned silently. "Dobby accidently burned master's dinner...such a flogging Dobby's never had..."
Both Gabriel and Harry were enraged as the house-elf continued talking. 'This master of his better hope he doesn't live to see us fully powered and back in business,' Gabriel snarled in rage. 'Or else I'll introduce him to the other side of a flogging! See how he likes his hands ironed and how well rags keep out the cold!'
Harry agreed wholeheartedly. Sure Dobby had been attempting to keep him from Hogwarts but with the Chamber of Secrets opened and a monster on the loose... 'Wait a minute!' Harry thought in shock as he realized what had been bothering him since the summer and once again when the writing on the wall appeared. 'Dobby knew that something was going to happen! If we can find out who his master is...'
'We'll know who's behind this entire thing!' Gabriel crooned in happiness. Harry focused back on the wide-eyed house-elf, ignoring it when Dobby bemoaned his bludger not working in sending Harry home ('We've got to teach him how to properly save someone's life,' Harry sighed in his head. Gabriel gave an agreeing hum). "Dobby," Harry began slowly, thinking over his words carefully. "You were ordered not to tell anyone about what's happening in Hogwarts, right?"
The small elf stopped talking and focused on Harry, his big green eyes widening while he nodded. "Yessir, Harry Potter sir!"
"So if I asked you if You-Know-Who was behind this..." Harry trailed off as the house-elf seemed to understand what he was doing. Harry figured that Dobby had already been exploiting loop-holes in his orders to warn Harry.
"Not He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, sir," Dobby insisted but the emphasis on the last part was telling.
'Not Voldemort,' Gabriel realized. 'He's saying that it's not Voldemort but it also is him...somehow, Voldemort is doing this from before he became a dark lord!'
'But how?' Harry asked, feeling his head throb at another headache inducing concept being introduced to him. 'It isn't like he can just jump through time whenever he feels like it or he would have known not to try and kill us,' Harry pointed out.
Gabriel was silent, presumably trying to find another explanation for how it could be Voldemort and yet not be Voldemort.
"Alright," Harry said after a moment and as he was about to ask another question, Ron groaned and began sitting up in the bed next to him. Dobby squeaked at the sudden movement and was gone with a soft 'pop', leaving Harry with more questions than he had started with.
'I better tell Ron and Hermione in the morning,' Harry thought as he settled down to go back to sleep.