Cage Match! Holly versus the Basilisk! As told by the Sorting Hat!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related concepts are owned by someone who isn't me. I will never seek or accept money for the circulation of this work.
Holly Evans and the Spiral Path
Chapter 12: Pass with Your Best Violence
27th April, 1993
I just woke up from a nightmare. Prof McG left the Quill and a note beside the journal. The note said:
I took the liberty of recording the Sorting Hat's recounting of your experiences on the night of 2nd April using this extraordinary quill of yours. It may seem a small consolation at this point, but Gryffindor received 20 points for this innovative use of Charms and Rune work to modify an already enchanted object. Icannot tell you how sorry I am that you were forced to suffer through so much. Please come see me at any time if there is anything you wish to talk about. Iwill swear another oath to keep your confidences, if it would help.
This is what the Quill scrolled out:
Transcription: 3rd April, 1993 starting 8:11 AM GMT
Adrian the Sorting Hat (A.) is propped up on a wig stand on a desk in the center of an office. Minerva McGonagall (MM) is sitting behind the desk; Albus Dumbledore(AD) is sitting comfortably in a stuffed chair opposite. Severus Snape (SS) is slumped in a lounge chair to the side of the desk, holding an icepack to his head.
AD: Adrian, as you have been a primary participant in these events, surely you can give us some idea of what occurred down there? Three people are extremely injured, at least one on the very brink of death. There can be no argument that their privacy is somehow more important than knowing what has brought them to this state!
A.: I will tell the tale in my way Albus, but not because you feel it is necessary. Miss Evans has explicitly given her permission for me to recount this...
SS: She's in a coma! How could she have acquiesced to this?
A.: I asked her ahead of time.
AD: Perhaps, Severus, it would be best if we let the Sorting Hat proceed with a minimum of interruptions. I do not think any in this room would doubt the Sorting Hat's ability to discern truth from deception, so we can move forward with the assurance that what he says is accurate.
MM: I would agree to that.
AD: Incidentally Minerva, why did you insist on having this conversation in your Transfiguration office instead of the Headmaster's office?
MM: We are three flights of stairs closer to Poppy's domain should we be needed. Also, despite my recent term as your stand-in while you were on suspension, I have never quite been as comfortable surrounded by the former Headmasters' portraits.
AD: Very well. Please recount your tale, Adrian.
A.: Well, my involvement within this tale begins in the evening of the second of April, when Idiscovered a bit of a disagreement was occurring within the Headmaster's office. Professor McGonagall was holding court with Professors Snape and Lockhart in attendance, while our little hero stood to the side of the Headmaster's desk, looking unusually docile...
SS: (mumbling) Miss Evans is not my hero.
A.: Yes, she is. Now stop interrupting. As I said, Holly was looking unusually docile. The argument occupying these learned professionals concerned how to handle an opportunity to deal with the threat of Slytherin's monster that has plagued our fine school this year. It seems Professor Lockhart had reasoned out that the threat could be tracked to a first year Gryffindor named Ginevra Weasley, that she had been accessing the entry to the Chamber of Secrets that was hidden in the second floor girls' lavatory, and that the entry was restricted to those who could speak the language of snakes, as Miss Evans has been rumoured to do. Checking with the wards and portraits, it was deduced that Miss Weasley was not within the castle proper, leading Professor McGonagall to conclude that Miss Weasley was down in the Chamber at that time. If there was ever a time to prove that Professor Lockhart's allegations were true, it was then.
Professor Lockhart was less than enthusiastic about leading an expedition into the Chamber, so it was decided that Professor Snape should accompany Holly and Gilderoy to see if the first part at least was true, while Professor McGonagall would contact Headmaster Dumbledore for assistance. Further discussion of Lockhart's research led the assembly to deduce that the creature in the Chamber was no less than a Basilisk, and well beyond the capabilities of those assembled to handle should a rescue be necessary.
With their tasks identified, the assembly moved to depart from the office when Miss Evans finally spoke. She asked whether I, Adrian the Sorting Hat, might be allowed to tag along on this mission. While startling most in attendance, Professor McGonagall moved immediately to my resting place and asked if I was amenable to such a venture. I agreed and was handed to Miss Evans, who promptly put me upon her head.
MM: Yes, Albus?
AD: Why would you choose to put one of Godric Gryffindor's priceless artifacts in harm's way in this manner?
MM: It seemed areasonable request, and the Sorting Hat had mentioned that he wished to accompany Holly when next she found herself embarking on some adventure.
AD: When did Adrian mention this to you Minerva?
MM: You were out.
A.: You are well aware how dull my existence has been, Albus. I believe you were present when I made the request of Miss Evans during her last visit to your office.
AD: Perhaps so. But...
SS: It's done! Can we move on?
A.: Quite so. Having been placed upon Miss Evans head, Holly initiated a silent conversation.
The voice of Holly Evans (HE) echoes from the bottom of the Sorting Hat
HE: Adrian, this is so fucked up.
A.: (addressing HE)Language, my dear!
HE: It's my head; you get no filters.
A.: Very well. What gathers your concern most?
HE: Well, I feel like Ihave a hangover. I also can tell I have two memories in my head that don't agree. The one set is what Lockhart has been spouting, while the other seems ...foggy.
A.: If I might suggest, you can isolate the first memories and concentrate on the edges of the second to liberate them.
HE: Sounds like something from Perenelle's notebook. I'll give it a try.
A.: (resumes narration)Holly continued to focus on her recent memories as we walked to our destination. Upon arrival, we were accosted by the ghost known as Moaning Myrtle. Professor Lockhart stood forth and attempted to intimidate the spirit with his presence. Myrtle seemed unimpressed and chose to draw water from anearby toilet bowl and dowse his fiery presentation.
SS: Bloody prancing fool.
A.: Ahem! At this point Holly stepped forward and spoke briefly to the truculent spirit.
HE: (shouting like amilitary drill instructor) Miss Henderson! During your recent sentry duties did you observe the passing of a flame-haired trollop?!
A.: The ghost snapped immediately to a military posture and replied that she had seen the suspect enter the lavatory, growl at the ghost and then whisper near one of the sink handles, at which point the ghost had chosen a strategic withdrawal. Holly commended her performance and suggested that Peeves looked lonely and had recently mentioned a desire to learn something called a Waterdance. Moaning Myrtle sped off before anyone else could speak.
SS smirks and shifts his icepack to his forehead.
A.: Holly then led our band to the aforementioned sink spigot, whispered something in what I can only assume was Parseltongue, at which point the sink moved forward and to the side, leaving an opening down into the depths of the castle. After a minute of heated discussion, Holly jumped down the hole, followed by Professors Lockhart and Snape. Holly landed at the bottom of the tube onto a pile of rodent bones that filled the 100 square foot room to two or three feet of accumulated detritus. As Holly and Professor Snape rose to their knees, Professor Lockhart spoke:"This is really disgusting. OBLIVIATE!"
SS rises suddenly from his chair, letting the icepack drop to the ground as he pulls his wand.
SS: That prancing ponce hit me with THAT? I will end what's left of his miserable existence...
AD: Severus, please!
A.: PROFESSOR SNAPE, Ithink you'll agree that subsequent events reduce the need for your immediate reprisal. I would suggest you return to your quiet observation, as you may find the details of interest.
SS slumps back into the lounge chair and cleans off the icepack with a flick of his wand.
A.: Where were we? Of course. Professor Lockhart had just thrown his Memory Charm at Holly and Professor Snape. The force of the spell pushed Professor Snape forward to strike his head against the chamber wall, knocking him unconscious. Holly just sat where she was.
HE: Adrian? Why didn't that work on me?
A.: (to HE) Your mind was protected by my presence. Have you made any progress on that foggy memory yet?
HE: Doesn't matter.
A.: (resumes narration)Before I could ask Holly what she meant by that, I could feel her focus her anger, her sense of betrayal, her righteous indignation into a swirling mass of power that she then pushed down her arm...
AD: Great Merlin! Holly used the Cruciatus Curse on Gilderoy?
A.: Heh. No, Albus. Holly didn't torture Lockhart with a Crucio.
AD: Thank Maeve.
A.: Holly was much more direct about it. With Lockhart moving forward to check on an unconscious Severus, he was taken completely by surprise when Holly leapt onto his back pushing them both to the bottom of the ossuary pile. From her position on top of the startled Professor, Holly began pounding her magic-infused fist repeatedly into his face. I could hear the bones of his cheek snap on the first blow. By the 15th strike, his skull had begun to look misshapen.
MM: Oh, my lord.
A.: Holly finally stopped hitting Gilderoy when he choked out from between his last three teeth"Who are you?" Holly's response was appropriately venomous, I thought.
HE: Obliviate that, you motherfucker!
AD: Adrian, I hope...are you sure you're not embellishing in the least?
A.: If anything Albus, my descriptions lack the proper gruesome nuance. Holly's performance evoked the kind of brutality not seen on this isle since the suppression of William Wallace. It reminded me of the heady days I spent accompanying Patrick ap Fierkus on his Geas to drive the serpents from Eire!
MM: You travelled with Saint Patrick?
A.: Godric was only my last mortal owner. Otherwise I would no doubt appear more stylish, wouldn't you think?
SS: And then...?
A.: Holly stepped back from the bloody mass that was once Professor Lockhart's head and checked on your limp form, Professor Snape.
SS: How kind.
A.: ...and found a few things she had been looking for. Holly pocketed a Bezoar and two vials that she guessed were Veritaserum and a Calming Draught.
SS starts checking his robes' pockets
A.: I chose then to see if Holly had calmed enough to engage in conversation.
A.: (to HE) What are your plans now, my dear?
HE: I'm sorting that, Sorting Hat! Give me a moment.
A.: You seem fatigued.
HE: I've never used my fist like that for more than one punch. I'm surprised I'm still standing.
A.: Yet you seem intent on moving forward.
HE: I ...I can't get these two out of here. Ginny is somewhere in there. Even if she doesn't know what she's doing, she's here for a reason. I don't think I can just wait to see what Riddle's next move might be.
A.: I'm surprised you care for her safety.
HE: Reading my mind, Adrian?
A.: I promise as always that your inner secrets will be safe with me. Would you mind if I tell this tale to the appropriate parties when our adventure ends? It may make any actions you take easier to justify to reactive Ministers and such.
HE: (sighs) Better you than me, I suppose. I prefer to avoid...
A.: ...any useless or unwanted talking, I know.
HE: Are you my friend, Adrian?
A.: I would be proud to say so, if you allow it.
A.: (resumes narration)Miss Evans then took me off long enough to press a kiss to my forehead and returned me atop her head.
AD quickly gestures towards SS with a staying hand before SS can speak.
A.: Ahem. Well, I then observed Holly preparing her entry to the inner Chamber. She applied a charm to the lenses of her goggles that turned them into mirrors of a sort then placed the goggles over her eyes with a grin. Holly then pulled a thin silvery cloak from inside her robes and applied a Silencing charm to it before putting it on, as well. After taking one more calming breath, she moved from the ossuary chamber into a connecting hallway that led to a large room with a massive door, carved in serpent motif. Holly took out her wand and carefully approached the portal. Seeing no obvious handle, she spoke once more in Parseltongue, eventually coercing the hatch to uncurl and allow us to enter.
We entered a stone chamber to rival the size and grandeur of the Great Hall, complete with marble pillars with self-lighting sconces and the back wall formed into a twenty foot tall rendition of Salazar's face. Water had been leaking in from somewhere above as it was gathered in pools wherever the stonework was uneven. It was then I realised that Holly's cloak rendered us invisible. Holly moved forward, skirting the outside of the Chamber to keep to the shadows, lest her footsteps reveal our location. As we approached the upraised dais in front of Salazar's beard, I could see a ritual circle had been scribed onto the stone floor perhaps 12 feet wide, across the edge of which Ginevra Weasley was lain on her side, facing downward.
Holly pulled back the hood of the cloak and reversed it to cancel the invisibility effect. Pushing her goggles to her forehead, she crouched down to examine Miss Weasley with her wand at the ready. Even with this preparation, Holly was caught off guard when the prone girl spun around and grabbed Holly's wand hand, smashing it to the stone floor with a crack. Holly had been flipped to the ground and thus looked up to find Miss Weasley standing over her, Holly's own wand pointed at her face.
Ginny spoke with an evil sneer, her eyes glowing red. "Finally! That girl's legacy wand was weak already and ill suited to either of us! Yours is the instrument I need." Ginny then walked back into the center of the circle to stand above a small book that had been obscured from our view earlier by the young girl's cloak. Holly flipped to a crouch and carefully moved forward, but found her hand burned as it crossed the outer edge of the circle scribed on the ground. "Tut, tut. I'll deal with you presently 'Call me Holly'; I have an important poem to recite. Once I'm finished we can see what fun your underdeveloped body can provide."
Holly curled up into ball, cradling her singed hand and broken wrist gently with her left hand. I could feel her concentrating.
HE: Adrian, we're fucked. She has my wand and I wouldn't know how to break that circle if I had it. I'm able to patch up my wrist, but what else can I do? I think Riddle is going to make her a permanent possession. I've really stuffed up this one. Why can't I think?
A.: (to HE) Allow yourself a moment, Holly. You are a bit young to be expecting to have an answer for every scenario. What I can say is that a ritual circle can be disrupted with ash or salt. Perhaps if you were to gain access to those sconces...
HE: I'm not so young, Hat. Not really.
A.: (resumes narration)What I saw flitting through Holly's mind at this point made me think a Dementor had been set loose in the Chamber. At first, it was a vision of Miss Granger frozen in the hospital wing, then the corpse of our unfortunate Penelope Clearwater, her face frozen in horror. I'm uncertain of the meaning of the next vision, as it was just Holly in a similar fetal position, facing her dormitory window. Further images began passing through her mind, fast enough to be seen and understood, then replaced by another; reading from her journal, listening to a house-elf, being beaten by a fat boy she knew. The next image startled me more than the previous- it was Professor Quirrel screaming Crucio at her, time and again! After that, the images came faster still; that Mountain Troll swinging its tree trunk to smash apart several lavatory stalls, Holly being whipped with a switch, Holly being dropped naked into a bathtub of icy water, having metal clamps touched to her bare back inducing an electrical shock...
AD: Dear God. I thought she was...Oh dear, God.
A.: ...being surrounded by young boys kicking her. Finally the last memory was of being struck aside her head with a cast iron frying pan. Holly burst out in unrestrained crying then. It was the wail of a wounded animal unable to stand it anymore. Holly continued the wail, crying out all her injustices in the middle of the cold stone Chamber where she was certain she would die...
MM: (crying) Adrian, Albus, is this necessary? I mean...
A.: TAKE WITNESS OF YOUR HERO. The moment Miss Weasley turned in laughter to deride Holly's plaintive breakdown, Miss Evans wiped both hands across her face and slapped then down onto the edge of the ritual circle. Immediately her hands began to smoke and burn, but within seconds the circle burst out in light, throwing Holly and Iaway from the dais to land separately some ten feet distant!
A.: The red headed girl standing in the center of this quickly fading circle raged in frustration. She then spoke in a clear intonation of summoning, using Parseltongue, then reverted to English; "You fucking bitch! It will take me hours to redraw that, but I'll make sure you don't linger to interfere ever again! Now face the monster of the Chamber, Salazar's familiar, the Basilisk!"
Holly swept up into a crouch and set her protections about her once more. She returned me to her head before setting the cloak to cover us with its disillusionment. Holly then backed away and took a moment to drink the Calming Draught, retrieve the Bezoar and ask for my help.
HE:Ugh, I can't believe I'm going to swallow this thing- it's like a giant turd-sized hairball. Adrian, I have a few moments before that thing gets a bead on us. You wouldn't know where I could get a wand to use, do you?
A.: (to HE) A wand? No, but I believe I may have a weapon suitable to the task.
HE: A weapon?Where...OW!!
A.: (resumes narration)I had expelled Gryffindor's sword from my depths but I had unfortunately not prepared the young witch as it knocked her head in appearing from under my brim. Holly attempted to pick up the sword with some effort. I advised her that if she found it unwieldy, she could touch the gemstone where the hilt met the guard and request an alternate weapon.
HE: Cool. Lightsabre!
A.: The sword then shrunk to the size of a small arming sword with a thrusting point.
HE: How's this supposed to help?
A.: (to HE) It is an ancient artifact; you asked for a light sabre. If I may suggest, perhaps ascimitar or cavalry sabre would be closer to your needs
HE: Um... right. Cavalry Sabre! Ginny's telling the beastie to track us by scent. We'll see about evading it first and circle back. I wish I had my broom...
MM coughs and looks downward somewhat shamefully.
AD: Minerva? Is there something you wanted to add to Adrian's narrative?
MM: Holly's broom is over there- I appropriated it when she and the Weasley twins were caught out of curfew pelting the Slytherins with dungbombs. She had ridden it to escape them when they had surrounded her. It was an appropriate punishment for flying in the halls, only...
AD: Only now you regret hampering her later efforts with your justified actions.
MM: Don't look so smug, Albus. I don't see how you have helped her in any way up to this point.
SS: Children, perhaps we can return to the story and save the finger pointing for when all the facts are available.
A.: I concur. While Holly was adjusting to the Sabre, Miss Weasley had retrieved Holly's wand and began casting spells to fill the room with mist, then projected small snakes to slither constantly on the ground, making for treacherous and poisonous footing. The Basilisk itself slithered from the mouth of Salazar's stone visage, fully 20 yards in length. Its mouth was at least four feet wide, and two pale amber orbs the size of street lanterns sat atop its head, projecting its trademark deadly gaze. Holly noted immediately that the mist seemed to reflect more of the yellowish radiance at times. She theorized that the killing gaze was not constant, but only fully effective on 'high beams' as she put it. The mist was meant to catch us from our magical concealment and would have been effective had we been disillusioned, but Holly's cloak seems to be of another order of effect. We remained visually undetected. After several minutes of evasion, Holly was becoming physically tired, but her spirit seemed somewhat renewed.
HE: Adrian, I can't convince the great snake to give up the chase. I think we need to take out the source.
A.: Do you mean to kill Miss Weasley?
HE: Gladius! Only if I have to. It's not really her doing this, after all. She's taking her cues from Riddle...oh yeah!
A.: (resumes narration)Holly tossed the empty potion bottle across the Chamber to draw her enemies'attention, then stalked back up to the dais where she approached Miss Weasley from behind. As Holly swung the roman short sword at the girl's shoulder, Miss Weasley turned and brought up a shield spell to deflect the blow. Holly switched her grip and knocked a very surprised Miss Weasley in the head with the hilt of the sword, sending her to the ground seemingly unconscious. While her body was unmoving, we could still hear the eerie voice coming from the prone redhead. "Well played, but I will kill you yet, even if this body is damaged beyond repair." The voice switched to Parseltongue and we could hear the Basilisk charging from across the Chamber towards us. Holly swung down at the ground- I thought surely she was going to cleave Miss Weasley in two with the strength of the attack, but her target was two feet closer. The Gladius sliced directly through the binding of the small black diary that lay to the center of the former ritual circle, shredding it into two halves. A shriek then emanated from the book to rival the one Holly had let out just a few minutes earlier.
Too late perhaps, Holly recognized that she didn't have time to deter the Basilisk's charge. Holly turned the sword towards the beast as it clamped down upon her arm, a venomous fang piercing her muscles, with the sword pinned in place poking out between its teeth on the opposite side of its mouth. Holly slumped to the ground, and then the beast began wrapping its coils around her body, continuing to hold her arm stretched out into its mouth. I could tell Holly was struggling to remain conscious, I can only guess that the Bezoar was preventing her immediate death. I could hear her ribs cracking as the serpent tightened its coils. Darkness closed in within Holly's inner vision. I heard a sudden crack and realised Holly's pelvis had been broken- the sudden rush of pain woke her from death's door. I heard her mumble two words.
AD, SS, and MM all sit at the edge of their seats.
MM: What words, Adrian?
HE: (whispering) p...p...p...pocketknife
A.: And with that, Godric's sword was projected through the Basilisk's head. From my viewpoint, the world tilted as the dying serpent cracked several more of Holly's bones in its death throes. Lying there, I could hear Miss Weasley suddenly gasp awake. She murmured a tremulous "H-Holly? Oh Merlin!" and then emptied her stomach and passed out again. We all lay there in the Chamber for a few minutes before I could hear and see Fawkes appearing in a flash of fire above us.
As I understand it, Fawkes has yet to leave Holly's side since transporting us to the care of Madame Pomfrey.
AD: You are correct. Fawkes has been weeping upon Holly's considerable wounds all morning. I don't think it actually helps any more after the first few drops, but Fawkes is quite upset.
A.: Now, Severus. Is Holly Evans your hero?
Like Minerva couldn't have left the Quill running a little longer.
Yeah, that's about what happened. I must have emptied Poppy's supply of Skele-Gro as I seem to be able to move all my limbs in the normal directions. I just feel so weak right now. Yay, I won. Yet there's Hermione, still frozen like a statue for another month before the Mandrake draught will be ready. I can't tell yet if it was worth it. But, I killed something back again. I liberated a sword, though I don't see it around here anywhere. And Ginny is back to normal, maybe. Hedwig and Fawkes are keeping each other company at the foot of my bed. I don't think they're involved- it's more like neighbors discussing childcare. I can almost tell what they're saying.
I'm still too tired. I'll write more later.