Harry Potter and the Trouble With Neurotypicals 11

Harry Potter and the Trouble With Neurotypicals: Book 2”

By = Fayanora

 

Note: Fanfiction. Not making money off this. J. K. Rowling gets all the credit for the Potterverse.

 

Book Two: Aspie Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

 

Chapter 3: Rumors and Scary Voices

 

The next day they sat down at the Griffindor table and had breakfast, Harry's Slytherin friends popping over for a few minutes to catch up on things that had happened since the last letters they'd gotten from him, but eventually got ushered back to their own table by McGonagall, when it was time to hand out the class schedules. Harry looked at his and saw they had Herbology with the Hufflepuffs first.

 

While walking over to Herbology, Harry spotted Lockhart, who was their new DADA teacher, and hastily Disillusioned himself so Lockhart wouldn't see him. Once they were safely inside greenhouse 3, and Lockhart was safely away, Harry undid the spell.

 

"Wow!" said one of the Hufflepuffs. "You're only in second year and you can do a Disillusionment charm?"

 

"Uh, yes. So can Ron and Hermione. I taught them."

 

"Cool! How'd you learn it so fast?"

 

"Actually, an older friend of mine taught me. Antigone Dreyfuss, a Slytherin."

 

The blond boy scrunched up his face. "You're friends with Slytherins?"

 

"Well yeah. They're good people, regardless of their house."

 

"Who are you?" Ron asked the boy, heat in his voice.

 

"Zacharias Smith. And who are you?"

 

"Ron Weasley. Anyway, didn't you hear Dumbledore at the end of last year? Antigone, Angela, and Danzia helped us keep the Philosopher's Stone away from You-Know-Who."

 

This shut the boy up, making him look slightly abashed. He opened his mouth apologetically, but couldn't say anything else because Professor Sprout was talking.

 

"Good, now I have all your attention, we'll be re-potting mandrakes today. Now, who can tell me the properties of a mandrake?"

 

Harry's and Hermione's hands were in the air so close to one another that Professor Sprout picked Harry apparently at random.

 

"Mandrake is a very potent restorative," Harry said. "It's used to do stuff like restoring petrified people to their normal state."

 

"Excellent; ten points to Griffindor." Hermione looked annoyed at Harry.

 

"Mandrakes are an essential part of most antidotes. They are dangerous, however. Can anyone tell me why? Yes, Hermione?"

 

"The cry of the mandrake is fatal to anyone who hears it."

 

"Precisely. Ten more points to Griffindor. Now the mandrakes we'll be working with today are young, so their cries won't kill you yet, but as they will knock you out for several hours, it's best to take the same precautions.

 

"Everyone take a pair of earmuffs," she continued, and everyone scrambled to get a pair that weren't pink and fluffy. Neville didn't succeed, and looked very embarrassed. Harry, feeling bad for him, traded with him. Neville got a black pair, and Harry's brown skin contrasted his new pink earmuffs, making several people giggle. Harry didn't notice, though.

 

"Make sure, when you put them on, that your ears are completely covered. When it's safe to remove them, I will give you a thumbs up."

 

Professor Sprout put her own earmuffs on, and they all followed suit. Then she rolled up her sleeves, grabbed the plant by its base, and yanked up an ugly, pale green, mottled root-baby, which immediately began screaming and flailing about, struggling the whole time Professor Sprout fought to get it into a newer, larger pot, covering it with dirt. Finally, she gave the thumbs-up, and everyone took their earmuffs off. She began giving other instructions about them, and everyone started getting their things ready to do it themselves.

 

Since they were doing things four to a pot, it leant them some time for chatter. Another boy, whom Harry recognized but didn't know his name, came up and introduced himself.

 

"Justin Finch-Fletchley," he said. "I know who you are, of course, the famous Harry Potter. And Hermione Granger, one of the best students of our year." (Hermione smiled as he shook her hand, too.) "And Ron Weasley, right?"

 

"Er, yeah," Ron said, shaking Justin's hand.

 

"My name was up for Eton, you know. I can't tell you how glad I am I came here instead. Mom was a little disappointed, of course, but I showed her the two Lockhart books assigned, and she came round to the usefulness of having a wizard in the family."

 

"Yeah," said Harry. "I think I know how you feel, about being excited to be here. I was raised by Muggles. I didn't know I was a wizard until I got my letter. Hogwarts is so much better than where my aunt and uncle were going to send me before I got my letter."

 

"What?" asked Zacharias Smith. "I heard you were raised in a castle!"

 

"Nope. I had no idea I was a wizard until shortly before my 11th birthday. Didn't know I was famous, either. And I was very startled to find my parents had left me some gold; I'd never had more than a few pounds at a time before then, and that I had to get by getting jobs behind my aunt and uncle's backs."

 

"What do you mean by 'pounds'?" asked Zacharias.

 

"That's what Muggles in Britain use for money," Justin said, showing the other boy a pound coin.

 

Though all the wizard-borns were fascinated by it, their gawking was cut short by needing to get back to work. It was very difficult work, fighting the dirty little humanoid roots into new pots, and they were all dirty by the end of the class, and had to wash up before going on to their next classes.

 

For the first time they could remember, the Griffindors were split up for their next class. Ron and other wizard-raised kids went to Muggle Studies, and Harry and Hermione and other Muggle-borns went to Wizard Studies instead.

 

The classroom that Wizard Studies was in was open when they got there, but empty, so they sat down and began to chat while they were there. The class was a mix of people from all four Houses. There were also first years in the class. A lot of the Griffindors, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws were surprised to see a pair of Slytherins there; Angela Whitechapel and a first-year boy with long brown hair tied back in a ponytail; the boy had striking violet eyes as well. Many were surprised Harry was there, too, but they honed in on the Slytherins instead of him.

 

"Slytherins, in a Wizard Studies course?" someone asked incredulously.

 

"Yes, Mr. Thomas," said the calm, soothing voice of Dumbledore, who had suddenly appeared behind the teacher's desk at the front of the room. "And the blood status of these students is to be kept secret; Muggle-borns are not well thought of in Slytherin House, so it is a matter of their safety that nobody outside this room should know."

 

"Oh. Uh, yes, Professor Dumbledore," Dean said.

 

"Do I have the word of everyone else here?" Dumbledore asked. Harry finally noticed, as he asked, that the door had been closed.

 

"Yes, Professor Dumbledore," everyone intoned.

 

"Good. I will hold you to that. Now, let us start the class today by having everyone introduce one another with your name, and something interesting about yourselves, like a hobby or an interesting birthmark or scar. I shall start. I am Professor Albus Dumbledore, and I have a scar under my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground."

 

He then picked Dean Thomas to go next, and they went down the rows from there. The Slytherin boy, they found out, was named Willem Stone. Harry made a note to try to add Willem to his list of friends from other Houses.

 

Then it was Harry's turn. “Well, I'm Harry Potter. I like to read and I don't like loud noises and crowds. Um... that's it.” He motioned to the next person that it was their turn.

 

When they were done, Dumbledore beamed. "Good. Now that we all know one another's names, we may proceed. Welcome to Wizard Studies. This class was founded at the request of several students who felt they were struggling to navigate the rules and regulations of wizarding society's culture, as well as running into obstacles of understanding stemming from not knowing many of the things that wizard-raised children take for granted and don't think to explain to Muggle-borns, such as attitudes about giants, the rules of Quidditch, or facts about house elves."

 

He walked around the front of the classroom as he spoke, his arms behind his back. "I appointed myself teacher of this class for two reasons. First, I have long experience with the wizarding world, being immensely old as I am. Secondly, I am fond of Muggles, and have educated myself about them to a degree that many wizards and witches have not. While that trait would also make me a good Muggle Studies teacher, we have one of those already, and I feel this knowledge will help me understand what you need to know. But please, if you feel my knowledge has a hole in it, let me know. You're never too old to learn, and even at my age I still feel I do not know nearly as much as I should.

 

"Also, there are many popular wizarding-world beliefs I disagree with, such as the poor treatment of Muggles, and the prejudice against other magical creatures, even giants. So I will be able to teach you about these beliefs, I hope, in a way which will keep your minds open about whether you agree with them or not. For, just because somebody tells you something does not necessarily make it true. This goes for all things, even your classwork. On the whole, your teachers are right about what they teach, insofar as most magic has worked so well for so long that it barely changes over the centuries; most of our incantations today would be recognizable by ancient Roman wizards and witches. But there is, I wish to stress, always room to grow. There may be better ways of doing things. As Muggle-born or Muggle-raised individuals, hopefully your unique perspective on the wizarding world will help us to grow and change and expand.

 

"Anyway, my speech is done. Are there any questions?"

 

There was silence at first, but then Hermione raised her hand.

 

"Yes, Ms. Granger?"

 

"I noticed there was no book for this class. Why is that?"

 

"Ah. Yes, that is because nobody has yet thought to write such a book. Perhaps, after you graduate, Ms. Granger, you could write one."

 

"So how will this class be structured?" she asked.

 

"In the weeks since I decided to make this course, I have been working on a syllabus for it. We shall start with a summation of important historical events, in case, uh, in case any of you were not paying attention in History of Magic."

 

There started a chatter at this, most of it boiling down to "Professor Binns is so dull he could bore a ghost to death," before Dumbledore raised his hands for silence.

 

"Yes, I am aware of Professor Binns's abysmal record. And the events that made me consider the changes I've already made to classes have made me also ponder removing poor Professor Binns and replacing him. But for now, I shall like us to begin."

 

After coughing a little to clear his throat, Dumbledore continued. First, he added that his summations of history would include recent history as well, to put the modern wizarding era in a proper context, before moving on to classes about various beliefs, cultural norms, manners, etc.

 

His summation of the events leading to the statute of secrecy was far more fascinating that the Binns version, and prompted questions from a curious class. They were still discussing it when the bell rang to go to their next class, and so had no homework from it yet. Harry felt sure he was going to enjoy that class very much.

 

Transfiguration was just as it usually was for Harry. He wasn't quite as good as Hermione, but at least he was better than Ron. He gently suggested to Ron that he spend at least 15 minutes of non-class time practicing so he could get better. Ron kept staring at his old, battered wand though, with a strange look on his face.

 

"What's wrong?" Harry finally asked.

 

"This wand is so old, I don't know how much life it's got left. It still works, but, well... I dunno. I've just been feeling, lately, like it's tired. Do wands age like people do?"

 

"I don't know. That's a question for Mr. Ollivander. Anyway, if you want a new wand, I'd be happy to--"

 

"No."

 

"But you didn't even--"

 

"If I get a new wand, I'll get it myself or get one from Mum and Dad somehow. Anyway, I'm probably imagining it. Just forget I said anything."

 

Harry didn't say anything else, but it did make him think. He realized that Ron was never able to get his to work as well as most students, and had been among the last to get the levitation charm to work last year; only Neville had done as poorly. In fact, thinking about Neville made Harry think he spotted a pattern. Ollivander said the wand chooses the wizard... Ron's wand was a hand-me-down, and Neville's wand used to be his dad's. He wondered if they were being held back by their wands. It was something to look into more.

 

The lunch bell rang; class was over. They went down to the Great Hall, where Harry started talking about seeing Luna, ignoring the smirk on Ron's face. When they got there, Ron and he split up, Harry going over to the Ravenclaw table, looking for Luna. He caught her before she sat down, and he invited her over to his table.

 

She stood there, pondering the question for a minute before deciding. "Well, okay. But I'm going to eat breakfast and possibly dinner at my own table, at least for now. Okay, Harry?"

 

"Sure thing."

 

As they left, a bunch of other Ravenclaws stared after them, and began muttering amongst themselves about how the famous Harry Potter was friends with that weird firsty; what was her name? Loony? Loony Lovegood?

 

These mutterings spread to Hufflepuff and Slytherin tables, too; even Griffindors were looking askance at the two of them sitting there, chatting and laughing; some of them whispered carefully, not wanting to offend the famous Potter boy.

 

On their way out the hall, they ran into another first-year, a small, mousey-haired, excitable boy holding what looked like an ordinary Muggle camera. When Harry looked at him, he went bright red.

 

"Hello, Colin," Luna said to him. He blinked at her, waving quietly back, then turned to Harry again.

 

"Hi Harry! I'm Colin Creevy," he said breathlessly, taking a step forward. "I'm a Griffindor, too. I wanted to know... I mean... could I get a picture?"

 

Harry's mind worked quickly. It was clear Colin was a Harry Potter fanboy. He had to head this off quickly. "I'd rather not, Colin. No offense, but I have sensory issues, and camera flashes make me ill." This wasn't entirely true; sure, the flash at Flourish and Blotts had been the proverbial straw breaking the camel's back, but he had no reason to think camera flashes would bother him on their own.

 

"Yeah," Ron said, supporting him. "You should've seen it in Flourish and Blotts, when Lockhart tried getting a photo with him; he puked all over the git's shirt!"

 

Harry frowned slightly. "Gee thanks, Ron, for telling him that. That's really something I want everyone to know. NOT."

 

"Oh," Colin said, his face falling. "I just wanted proof I've met you. Everyone's told me how you survived when You-Know-Who tried to kill you, and how he's been gone ever since, and about the scar on your forehead from it" (his eyes raked Harry's hairline) "and a boy in my dormitory said how you can develop pictures in a potion that will make them move!"

 

Sensing he was going to keep going, Harry interrupted, "Yeah, well, from what Dumbledore told me last year, it wasn't anything I did. It was my mother dying to protect me that did it. She cast powerful magic with that self-sacrifice. And you know what?"

 

"What?" Colin asked excitedly.

 

"She was a Muggle-born. A Muggle-born witch's self-sacrifice defeated Vol-- er, You-Know-Who."

 

Colin's eyes went so wide Harry worried they'd pop out, and just said "Wooooowwww..."

 

"Oy," said Ron. "How come you never told me that?"

 

Harry shrugged. "It never came up before. Anyway, Colin, I'm sorry to disappoint you. Aside from the sensory issues, I... well, I'm still uncomfortable with being famous. Like I was telling someone earlier today, I was raised by Muggles and didn't know I was famous, or special, or important at all until after I got my letter. Professor McGonagall and Hagrid told me about it all the next day. People keep telling me I'm famous and stuff, and I just don't feel like anything but an ordinary kid. Well, aside from the magic. But otherwise, I'm just Harry."

 

"Wow, really?"

 

"Yeah. Imagine if it'd been you instead of me."

 

Colin stopped talking, lost in thought about going from a regular kid to someone famous overnight. Others in earshot looked thoughtful, too; even, Harry noticed, Draco Malfoy.

 

"So," Colin said, coming out of his thoughts, "you just want to be treated like a regular kid?"

 

"Exactly."

 

Colin nodded. "Will do, Harry. So... wanna be friends?"

 

"Sure. I like having friends. Never had any before I got my Hogwarts letter. Now, the more the merrier. Just as long as I don't have to deal with too many people at once. Crowds make me ill."

 

"Is that part of your sensory issues?"

 

"Right, Colin."

 

Just then, he saw Lockhart coming, and hastily pulled Colin away in a friendly gesture, attempting to be casual. "So, Colin, how you doing finding your classes? And you too, Luna, come on. I know I had trouble my first week, I can help you find things if you'd like."

 

"Thanks! That'd be great!"

 

"You're most kind, Harry," Luna agreed.

 

"Yeah, and I can show you some of the shortcuts, and places to look out for, and so on..." Harry said, continuing to talk as they got farther from Lockhart, while Ron and Hermione attempted to keep up with him.

 

 

Later, on their way to Defense Against the Dark Arts, Harry told Ron and Hermione, "As much as I dislike Lockhart, it's a good thing he came by when he did."

 

"Why's that?"

 

"Because that thing I did, showing Colin and Luna the way to their next class, gave me an idea; we upper years should show the first-years around in depth; take them under our wings. Nobody did that for us, and we had so much trouble that first week or two. So I think we should help them."

 

"That's a great idea, Harry!" Hermione said. "We should tell other people, too. Get it spread around like your other ideas."

 

"Oh, speaking of that, we need to discuss MAC at a..." he trailed off, and sunk low in his chair as he could, for Lockhart had come in.

 

Harry didn't know how much more difficult it was to hide behind his books than it might have been, for he hadn't known that Lockhart had tried to get his entire collection on the book list. As it was, he'd only managed to get Voyages With Vampires and Holidays With Hags on the book list, having picked two at random when he'd been informed he couldn't have more than that.

 

The class with Lockhart was... interesting; but not for good reasons. After giving them a quiz on how well they'd read the two assigned books, he released a bunch of Cornish pixies into the room, tried to do a spell on them that did nothing, got his wand chucked out the window, and caused utter bedlam. It was only thanks to Hermione and Harry stunning them out of the air one at a time that order was finally restored. By then, Lockhart was long gone and the bell was ringing.

 

As they left, Ron and Harry complained loudly about how inept Lockhart was, and Hermione defended him.

 

"Listen, Hermione," Harry said, becoming irritated by her defense of the buffoon, "just because someone writes something in a book doesn't mean it's true, even if it's labeled non-fiction. Publishers exist to sell books, and they don't always care if what they're printing is truth or tripe."

 

"But he's a teacher!" she shot back, as though this made him a god.

 

"Teachers are just humans, like anyone else. Dumbledore told me even he makes mistakes; he admitted that sending me to the Dursleys was a mistake."

 

She looked unsure of her position, but still like she wanted to believe.

 

"Anyway," Ron added, "the position's cursed. We've known it for years; everyone says so. New DADA teacher every year for years, after all. And the last one actually died. There probably wasn't anyone else who wanted the job. And if the position's cursed, even certain other teachers might not be so keen on it now," he said, referring to Snape's desire to teach DADA.

 

"Well... I don't know," she admitted. "Those are good points."

 

"Trust me, Hermione. I read a lot of tripe in Muggle libraries too. It's a universal fact of life that you can't always believe what you read. If everything written in books claiming to be true were actually true, then the world would literally be like ten thousand years old, the planet would be flat and sitting on the back of a turtle or something like that, or other such rubbish that science has since disproved. And the fact he couldn't even handle pixies on his own is a scientific observation that makes me think he's rubbish and a liar."

 

She frowned, her worldview shattered. "Okay, okay, you convinced me. It's just... well, he's just so handsome."

 

The boys rolled their eyes.

 

~

 

It was lucky Harry had his new idea of helping out first-years to help him avoid Lockhart, because the git seemed intent on cornering him to chat him up. Probably knew, subconsciously, that Harry was more famous than him and wanted to smarm up to him, but Harry was having none of that.

 

When the weekend came, Harry and his friends in MAC gathered for their first meeting of the year, to discuss how they would do things this year. They'd already gotten permission to advertise on the House bulletin boards, so Angela - who was good at art - helped in that regard. Luna was there too, and she was at least as good as Angela in art, so they worked together. Harry was glad to see that Luna shared his enthusiasm for open-mindedness towards Slytherins, and got along quite well with Angela and the other Slytherins. Heck, she got along with them better than she did with almost anyone else in school, excepting himself, probably because they, too, knew what it was like to be outcasts.

 

Things had not been great for them, he found out, before last year's end of year speech by Dumbledore, and now the three Slytherins were having an even harder time of it this year than before, since they'd been known to have helped Harry. About their only saving grace, it seemed, had been the unexpected support of Draco Malfoy, who seemed to be taking his pro-Potter stance more seriously.

 

"That reminds me," Antigone said, "Draco wanted me to give you a message. He... how did he put it? Ah yes, he 'extends his hand in friendship, not mere civility.' He admits you and he may still have ideological differences, but he's interested in trying to overcome those. Apparently, he had ideas about you very similar to some of the others' ideas about you, like living in a castle and other rubbish."

 

"Well that's promising," Harry said. "I don't know how much I trust him and his two bodyguards, but I'm glad to hear this. If you see him, tell him I'll meet him in the library tomorrow after lunch, if he's free."

 

"Okay, will do."

 

While Angela and Luna were designing the MAC advertisements, Harry and Hermione discussed the syllabus for the club, aided by the fact that both of them had brought a bunch of Muggle books on various subjects with them, having bought them over the summer. This process was also aided by Ron, whom they looked to for his input as a wizard.

 

Just before they left, Ron promised to send an owl to his dad, asking for his input as well, since Mr. Weasley was fascinated by Muggles.

 

"There's no more time now," Harry said, "as it's almost dinnertime, but we need to work on other ways to spread interest. One idea I had was seeing if I could give a speech on the subject of Muggle academia to the Muggle Studies class. I figure, with my fame - as weird as that still is to me - they'd be more likely to listen to me."

 

"Good thinking, Harry. Do you want help writing it?"

 

"Sure, sounds good to me."

 

He wasn't looking forward to speaking in front of a class, but as long as it was just a class at a time, and as long as everyone was largely quiet, he felt he could do it.

 

The next day, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Luna went to Hagrid's after breakfast. It was the perfect excuse to avoid his cooking, after all. Luna, being polite, took a rock cake, and politely refused another after nearly breaking a tooth on it.

 

A little harder to do was refuse Hagrid's lunch offer, but they managed it without hurting his feelings and ate in the Great Hall as usual. Luna was still eating lunch with Harry every day and other meals with her own table, so they got to talk at lunch some before Harry's meeting with Malfoy.

 

Harry really wasn't sure what to expect at this meeting with Malfoy, and so just in case, he took his two-way mirror with him so he could call Luna and the others if need be. And so, screwing up his nerve, he went into the library.

 

Draco was sitting at a table in the back, alone and reading a book about Quidditch. When Harry came up to him, he looked up, put the book aside, and stood up, holding out his hand.

 

"Harry Potter," Draco said, his voice devoid of any bad attitude, "I apologize for my attitude and comments on the train last year. Such behavior is unbecoming of a Malfoy."

 

"Apology accepted," Harry said, shaking his hand. Having done this, Harry cast some privacy charms and the two sat down.

 

"Wow," Draco said with greed in his voice, "those charms are quite advanced for us second years. Can you teach me those?"

 

"Yeah, I can do that sometime. Not right now, of course."

 

Draco put his face and posture back to prim and proper. "Yes, of course, completely understandable. Naturally, you want to know why I asked to meet you."

 

"Antigone said something about a new overture of friendship?"

 

"Well, sort of. I understand we still have ideological differences, so maybe an acquaintanceship would work for now, maybe work our way up to friendship?"

 

Harry scratched his chin, thinking. "I can do that, on one condition."

 

Draco looked wary, but hopeful. "And what might that be?"

 

"You attend at least one meeting of our Muggle Academia Club. And actually pay attention and contribute to the conversation in a non-hateful way."

 

The blond boy's face momentarily contorted in disgust, but then changed to 'pensive,' before he got it back to a stoic mask. He did not immediately respond, and also scratched his chin.

 

"May I ask why you're asking this condition?" Draco asked, his annoyance barely masked.

 

"It's simple. You've been taught certain things about Muggles by your parents; parents who have likely never gotten to know anything about Muggles first-hand. I know you're being required to take Muggle Studies, but since even my friend Ron gained a newfound respect for Muggles after some of our discussions about Muggle science and academics, I decided this would be an excellent opportunity to expose you to the same information; it might help you expand your point of view on Muggles."

 

The other boy's face went from flabbergasted and annoyed to pensive. Then a sly grin split his face and he chuckled. "Potter," he said jovially, "you would make an excellent Slytherin."

 

Harry smiled. "Does that mean you accept?"

 

Draco held out his hand. "You have a deal, Potter." They shook hands. "So when is the next meeting of this... this club of yours?"

 

Getting out his notebook to check, Harry soon said, "We have one scheduled for Tuesday after dinner. Meet me at the library, and I'll guide you to the classroom we use for it from there."

 

"Tuesday after dinner," Draco said, writing it down in his own notebook. "Got it. I'll be there."

 

"So, in the meantime, did you want to talk about anything else?"

 

"Well," he said, looking a little embarrassed. "I am curious to hear the real story of what happened with Quirrell last year."

 

Harry nodded, smiling. "Okay then," he said, and launched into the tale from the very beginning.

 

 

Between MAC and Malfoy, Harry was having a great weekend. He spent so long speaking with Malfoy that it was almost curfew when they stopped, hurrying back to their dormitories without running.

 

As they walked out of the library, he heard a voice to chill the marrow.

 

"Come... come to me... Let me rip you... Let me tear you... Let me kill you..."

 

Harry jumped, looking around for the source of the voice.

 

"You okay, Potter?" Draco asked him. "You look like you've seen a monster."

 

"Did you hear something?" Harry asked, testing a theory without giving too much away.

 

"Hear what, Potter? There's nobody here but us. Are you going to be okay? I don't fancy telling any of the Professors I'm out after curfew because I had to walk you back to your dorm."

 

Harry forced his emotions under control. "No, sorry. Just... sudden noises make me jumpy, and I thought I heard something. I'll be fine."

 

Draco didn't look so sure, but after a pause, he shrugged and walked away. Harry watched him go. When he was out of sight, Harry ran for it, not caring if he got in trouble. He had to get away from that voice.

 

When he got into the common room, he went over to Hermione and Ron.

 

"Hi Har-- Harry, why are you out of breath? You been running, mate?"

 

Harry gestured for silence, then got out his wand and put up privacy wards around the three of them before sitting down. Even then, he had to catch his breath before he could say more than a few words. But finally, he explained what he'd heard.

 

"A voice only you could hear?" Ron said, looking at him like he was crazy. "Even in the wizarding world, mate, that's---"

 

"I thought you might say that. But I recognized it. I'd been practicing with Circe so much that I recognized it. It was parseltongue."

 

"Parseltongue? So you heard a snake?" Hermione asked. "Did you see any snakes in the area?"

 

"No, I didn't. So I've no idea where it might've been hiding, and I really wasn't keen on finding out. I got out of there as soon as I could."

 

"Well if it was a snake, it was probably just talking about..." Ron lowered his voice because Scabbers was in the room, "rats or mice or something. Y'know, cuz snakes eat them?"

 

"Maybe. But I've spoken with snakes before, and they sounded normal. This sounded... deeply evil. And big, and dangerous. I got the impression it was talking about killing humans."

 

"Harry," Hermione said in a pacifying tone, "snakes don't kill humans unless they feel threatened. Snakes aren't evil."

 

"I don't know if I believe that. Magic makes all kinds of thing possible. Couldn't magic make a snake smart enough to be evil? Maybe there's some kind of magical snake monster?"

 

"Harry, I know the voice must have been terrifying, but I've never heard of a magical snake creature that could be a threat to humans. I think you're overreacting."

 

"Yeah, mate. I haven't heard of anything like that either, and my brother Charlie was in Care of Magical Creatures, and he talked about his classes in his letters and over the summer all the time."

 

Harry put his head in his hands, letting the darkness calm him. Finally, when he came back up, he spoke.

 

"You're probably right. Given how big, drafty, and old this castle is, I guess I shouldn't be surprised I'm hearing snakes around. I've always wondered why there were so few mice and rats in a place like this, not counting pets."

 

"Well, lots of people bring cats, too. Toads are out of fashion, so that leaves rats, cats, and owls allowed for pets in school. And with Mrs. Norris hanging around, I doubt many people with rats let theirs run around loose."

 

The rest of the night Harry spent trying to forget the scary voice, but wasn't having great luck. It didn't surprise him that he had nightmares about a great venomous snake that night.

 

 

 

 

Note: I've had time to think about it, and I've decided that, given his attitude when forced into being a Death Eater, I believe most of Draco's racist behavior in the books was due to essentially hurt feelings when Harry rejected him. Oh sure, he was actually racist against Muggles at the start, but I believe he was largely just parroting his father; Harry rejecting him so completely and publicly just cemented Draco into his beliefs. Like, "Potter acted exactly as rude as father always said blood traitors do, thus father must be right." Whereas in this AU, Harry's response and Draco's subsequent response made him more open minded. He's still a spoiled rich kid, and will have lots of privilege to become aware of and hopefully attempt to take into account for in dealings with other people, but yeah, still open minded as regards blood traitors at the very least.

 

Note 2: Given that basilisks can only be made by hatching a chicken egg under a toad, can be killed by a rooster's crow, how they're basically the snake version of Voldemort, and they can only be controlled by a parselmouth, I figure they're rare enough that Hermione only found out about them in the canon books by looking through really obscure books about even more obscure monsters. So knowing it's a snake monster isn't going to help them much.



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