Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Moments in Love

Goldilocks and the House-Elf

by Gandalfs_Beard 0 reviews

A new teacher makes life a bit "interesting" for Harry, and Dobby makes an appearance...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Drama,Humor - Characters: Gilderoy Lockhart,Harry,Hermione,Ron - Published: 2017-06-12 - 7496 words

Goldilocks and the House Elf

“OUT! Out! Shoo!” Madam Pomfrey shouted at the Gryffindor Quidditch team gathered around Harry Potter’s hospital-bed. “This boy’s got thirty-three bones to regrow - he needs his rest. Go on then... Mr Weasley, that means YOU too...”

As the grumbling students - including Ron - began to file out of the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey’s eyes lit upon the one person who hadn’t budged from Harry’s bedside. The girl with bushy hair fixed her steely gaze on the school nurse, and for a moment they engaged in a silent battle of wills. Finally, Madam Pomfrey threw up her hands and rolled her eyes in frustration.

“I suppose it would be more trouble than it’s worth trying to remove you Miss Granger! Hmmph!” snorted Madam Pomfrey. “No doubt you would just appeal to Professor McGonagall to override my authority again.”

Madam Pomfrey flounced out of the ward with a thoroughly exasperated expression on her face, but she gave her head a little shake and allowed a smile to creep to her lips when she reached her office. Poor Harry Potter was in for a rough night - regrowing bones was a nasty painful business. It was probably for the best that he had Hermione Granger to keep him company.


Harry grinned at his best friend as she squeezed his good hand.

“Thanks for staying with me Hermione!” Then Harry noticed that Hermione was biting her lower lip to keep it from quivering. “What’s wrong Hermione?”

“I just can’t believe him - that pompous, egotistical, fraud - Lockhart!” she muttered angrily and tearfully. “It’s obvious that his books are a load of rubbish... He probably didn’t do a single thing in them himself!”

“It was bad enough that he spoiled everything in Diagon Alley when he dragged you into the spotlight for that photo-op - that thoroughly put me off him...” Hermione turned scarlet in embarrassment as she remembered how excited she had originally been at the prospect of meeting Gilderoy Lockhart.

“...But I eventually resigned myself to the fact that he would be teaching at Hogwarts. I thought that at least we’d have a competent teacher - even if he was a conceited prat - but look what he’s done to you!” she squealed shrilly.

“Ssh... it’s alright Hermione. You don’t want Pomfrey to come back and turf you out do you?”

Hermione shook her head and tried to calm down, remembering that she was supposed to be comforting Harry, not the other way around.

“I’m sorry Harry!” Abashed, Hermione fluttered her glistening eyelashes and cast her eyes down. Harry suddenly felt a desperate urge to hug her and give her a kiss on the cheek. He cursed Lockhart inwardly for the umpteenth time.

“Yeah, he did turn out to be pretty pathetic,” Harry sighed, rolling his eyes.

“Worse than pathetic! He’s a narcissistic, egomaniacal, charlatan! ” Hermione snorted. “That ‘test’ he gave us in the very first lesson - 54 questions, all about him - not a single one about defensive spells or how to counter dark creatures...”

“And the Cornish Pixies,” Harry chortled, “don’t forget the pixies...” When he saw a little smile tug at the corners of Hermione’s lips, Harry felt a bit better.

Hermione began to feel a bit tired and she wanted a hug. She glanced around; Madam Pomfrey was nowhere in sight.

“Do you mind?” she asked as she climbed on the bed on top of the crisp linen sheet.

“Of course not,” Harry replied.

Hermione lay down next to Harry and snuggled against him, her arm across his chest and her head resting on his shoulder, sighing happily. Without thinking, Harry reached up with his good hand and stroked Hermione’s tawny tresses. A warm fuzzy glow spread throughout Harry as he cuddled Hermione, and despite everything that had happened up till now, he felt more cheerful than he had since the day that they’d missed the Hogwarts Express.

Neither one of them could fathom what had happened. And even Dumbledore had been puzzled over the strange blockage of the entrance to platform nine and three quarters.

Mrs Weasley and Ginny had gone through the barrier with no problem, leaving Harry, Hermione, and Ron on platform 9 at King’s Cross. Harry and Hermione had pushed their trolleys toward the barrier at a bit of a run, Ron right behind them.

There had been an almighty crash and Harry’s trunk had fallen off his trolley as his ribs slammed into the handle. Hermione almost flew over the handle of her cart but Harry had grabbed her in the nick of time before she hurt herself. Hedwig hadn’t been so lucky and she had squawked angrily from her cage which had tumbled to the ground.

“What’s going on?” Ron had asked as he picked up Hedwig.

“I dunno...” Harry had muttered in bewilderment.

“We can’t get through!” Hermione had anxiously squeaked, looking at the clock. “We’re going to miss the train...”

“Oi... What’s all the commotion over ‘ere?” an angry looking railway station attendant had barked. “What do you lot think you’re doin’?”

“Sorry... we lost control of our carts!” Harry had gasped, clutching his painful ribs with one hand and Hermione’s arm with the other.

“Right! Well watch it then... be more careful,” the attendant had grumbled before marching off.

“It’s gone,” Ron had moaned as he stared at the clock. “The train’ll be gone by now. What’ll we do?”

Harry and Hermione had glanced at each other uncertainly as Hedwig continued squawking.

“Maybe we should just wait by the car,” Harry had said, “...we can wait for your mum and dad.”

“That sounds sensible Harry,” Hermione had agreed.

“But what if they can’t get back through?” Ron had responded, sounding panicky. Then a gleam had appeared in Ron’s eye. “The car... that’s it!” Ron had started to look very excited. “We can fly the car to Hogwarts!”

“Don’t be silly Ron,” Hermione had said, rolling her eyes. “We can’t take your parents car...”

“Why not? I didn’t hear you complaining when we rescued Harry!” Ron had rudely retorted.

“That was an emergency!” Hermione had snapped, glaring at Ron. “This isn’t! We’ll wait by the car, and if your mum and dad haven’t arrived in one hour, we’ll send a note to Hogwarts with Hedwig, and eventually it will all be sorted out.”

“Oh!” Ron had muttered, deflating.

“Come on Ron,” Harry had quietly pleaded. “You know Hermione is right. It’ll all get sorted, and we won’t get into trouble - it’s not our fault the barrier is blocked.”

Ron had agreed, but he had looked a bit sulky while they waited by the turquoise Ford Anglia for his parents.

“There you are!” Mrs Weasley had screeched, nearly as loudly as Hedwig, when she arrived with her husband twenty minutes later. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you three. Why weren’t you on the train?”

Ron had quailed and Harry had thought it best to let Mrs Weasley run out of steam, but Hermione had jumped right in and explained everything. Mrs Weasley had looked appalled, but Mr Weasley’s eyes had begun to gleam just like Ron’s had.

“Don’t worry dear,” Mr Weasley had told his wife a bit too eagerly. “Why don’t you apparate home, and I’ll just nip them up to Hogwarts in the car.”

Mrs Weasley had eyed her husband suspiciously.

“Arthur, just remember that it’s daylight! ” she had said warningly.

“Of course dear!” Mr Weasley had quickly agreed. “No need to worry...”

They had driven off as Mrs Weasley kept a gimlet eye on them before apparating home to the Burrow. After driving for a good long while, they had finally left the city behind and reached open countryside, and Mr Weasley had peered eagerly at everyone. Harry and Hermione had shared a look of foreboding in the rear seat, unnoticed by Ron who had been in the front seat next to his father.

“Alright then,” Mr Weasley had said excitedly, “Everyone buckled in? I’ve been dying for a chance to take her up again... we’re going for a flight. No need to worry, I’ve put in an Invisibility Booster...”

“Wicked!” Ron had exclaimed, looking thrilled.

“...just don’t tell your mother, Ron!” Mr Weasley had concluded.


When the engine had started to whine, Mr Weasley had begun to show signs of worry. The Invisibility Booster had gone out hours ago, but he had been fairly confident that they wouldn't be seen as long as they stayed above the clouds. The Castle had just come into view as the flying Ford Anglia began to make horrible grinding sounds and smoke began pouring out from the motor.

“No worries... almost there,” Mr Weasley had said loudly with a forced smile. The smile had evaporated when the car began to sputter and shake.

Hermione had gripped Harry’s hand tightly and been unable to contain a moan of anxiety when the car shuddered violently. The motor had finally stalled altogether and the car went into a nosedive. Hermione had clung to Harry and screamed in terror.

“WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE DAD!” Ron had shouted, his face white with fear.


“It’s my fault entirely,” Mr Weasley had moaned as Madam Pomfrey dabbed at a cut on his forehead. Professor Snape had glowered at them all and Professor McGonagall had tut tutted, shaking her head.

“You are most fortunate that none of you were seriously injured,” the Headmaster had sighed, looking a bit disappointed with Arthur Weasley, and pointing at the evening edition of the Daily Prophet. “Unfortunately you were spotted when you were passing over Nottingham.”

“You can’t blame the children,” Mr Weasley had continued, shamefaced, “and I have to admit, I was hoping to get here in time to see the Sorting for myself...”

“The Sorting is over. But never mind Arthur,” Professor McGonagall had said kindly, “Your daughter Ginevra is in Gryffindor.” Then she had turned to face Harry, Hermione, and Ron. “Alright, you three had best hurry along to dinner then. None of you are in trouble!”

The three of them had received a hero’s welcome at Gryffindor table from some. Dean, Seamus, and Neville had been congratulatory. Parvati and Lavender had both given Hermione hugs while Ginny looked on quietly. The Twins had been impressed by their father’s impetuousness, if not a bit disappointed.

“Why couldn’t we have come in the car too then?” Fred had grumbled. But of all the Weasleys at Gryffindor table, only Percy had looked fit to be tied.

“I’ll be lucky if I ever get into the Ministry now!” Percy had muttered furiously.

“We’re lucky that we weren’t killed,” Harry had said with a frown, looking at Hermione’s still frightened features.

“Are you alright Hermione?” Parvati had asked.

“I will be,” Hermione had replied with a nervous nod.

Hermione had still been as white as a sheet, and Harry squeezed her hand comfortingly under the table. As the feast had concluded and the students had spilled out of the Great Hall, Harry and Hermione had departed slightly ahead of the crowd, Ron close behind them. The sound of squabbling caught their ears, and they had turned back to see Draco Malfoy having a go at Ron.

“I can’t see your loser of a father raiding anyone’s houses much longer Weasleby,” Draco had gloated. “He’ll probably be sacked by morning, then you won’t even be able to afford that chicken coop you live in...”

“Ron NO!” Harry had bellowed, seeing him ball his fists just as Professor Snape had emerged from the Great Hall.

But it had been too late. Ron had launched into Malfoy and begun pummeling him. Crabbe and Goyle had piled on top, squashing Ron and Draco both. There had been a crunching sound and Ron had looked aghast as Snape and McGonagall pulled the boys apart. Snape had glanced at Harry and raised an eyebrow questioningly as he wrestled Crabbe and Goyle away from Ron.

“My wand,” Ron had moaned.

“Mr Weasley, I am very disappointed in you!” Professor McGonagall had said severely, though her expression held a hint of sympathy. “See me tomorrow after classes to arrange your detention.” McGonagall had dusted Ron off and set him on his feet, giving Draco Malfoy a withering glare.

The next morning hadn’t been much of an improvement. Ron had eaten his breakfast glumly after spellotaping his wand back together. He had looked so sad that Hermione didn’t have the heart to reproach him for getting into a fight with Draco.

“Can’t you get a new wand Ron?” Harry had asked.

“And tell Mum I got in a fight with Malfoy?” Ron had snorted. “Are you joking? I’ll just have to make do for now...”

Thinking back to the row between Mrs and Mr Weasley following the disaster at the bookshop in Diagon Alley, Harry couldn’t really disagree. Harry had supposed that Mr Weasley was probably still getting an earful for flying the car to Hogwarts.

The first full day back at Hogwarts had gone from bad to worse when they had spotted Gilderoy Lockhart hectoring a decidedly cross looking Professor Sprout on the way to Herbology Class.

“Oh no!” Harry had groaned, looking around wildly for an escape route as Hermione began to bristle.

“Well, hello there,” Lockhart had beamed, all gleaming white teeth and shining golden locks. “I’ve just been showing the charming Professor Sprout how to properly doctor the Whomping Willow...”

Professor Sprout had snorted disdainfully and scowled.

“...Harry, Harry, Harry! How delightful to see you again,” the oblivious Lockhart had continued, “I’m sure Professor Sprout won’t mind if I borrow you for a few moments...”

“Come ON Harry, we don’t want to be LATE TO CLASS our FIRST DAY BACK at SCHOOL!” Hermione had said loudly, grabbing Harry’s hand and marching him towards Greenhouse Number Three. Ron had goggled at her, following close behind.

“Er... perhaps later Professor Lockhart,” Harry had called back, trying to hide a smirk as they left the stunned Professor in their wake. Lockhart was apparently unused to girls completely ignoring him.

“Five points to Gryffindor for punctual attendance,” a much cheered up Professor Sprout had announced when she entered the Greenhouse moments later.

Neville had waved happily when he’d seen Harry and Hermione enter. He was truly in his element, Herbology being his favourite subject. Lavender, Parvati and a Hufflepuff girl, Hannah Abbott, had partnered up with him to repot the “baby” mandrakes.

Harry had been feeling a bit cheerier himself until a curly haired Hufflepuff boy had joined him, Hermione, and Ron. He had seemed alright at first, but Harry and Hermione soured on him fairly rapidly.

“Justin Finch-Fletchley,” the boy had introduced himself in a chipper manner which bordered on smug. He had reminded Harry uncomfortably of a cheerful, less horrible version of Draco Malfoy.

“I know who you are - famous Harry Potter, and you’re Hermione Granger - Girl Genius....” Justin had looked down his nose a bit when he got to Ron “...and aren’t you the one who’s father crashed into the tree with the flying car?”

I was down for Eton you know,” Justin had continued boastfully, “But I must say, I am quite pleased that I came here instead. Mother was slightly disappointed at first, but after she read Lockhart’s books, she was most impressed by the notion of having a wizard in the family. That Lockhart - he seems like a delightful fellow indeed - a most splendid chap... Have you read his books...?”

Justin had droned on about Lockhart’s prowess and amazing abilities. Harry, Hermione, and Ron had been all too eager to put on their earmuffs and get to work repotting their baby mandrakes.

Harry couldn’t wait to get out of Herbology and far away from Justin. He had breathed a sigh of relief in Transfiguration, thankful that George had been able to get his trunk out from the cupboard under the stairs so that he could do his summer homework. Harry had managed to turn his beetle into a button in no time flat, much to McGonagall’s great pleasure.

Professor McGonagall had been far less pleased with Ron, who had accidentally squashed his beetle. Ron had angrily whacked his broken wand on the desk at the end of class, trying to get it to work better.

“Ron, maybe you should just face up to your mum and write home for a new one...” Harry had suggested.

“And get a Howler? Neville told me about those... No Thanks!” Ron had muttered. “What’s our next class after lunch?”

Ron had snatched up Hermione’s schedule which was sitting on the table.

“Defence Against the Dark Arts with the smarmy bloke...” Ron had sniggered in amusement when he spotted little daggers doodled next to all of Lockhart’s lessons. Then some other little doodles in the margins around the page had caught Ron’s attention.

“Er... why do you have Harry’s name written all around the edge of the page loads of times with little hearts drawn next to them?” Ron had demanded with a puzzled frown.

Hermione had seized her schedule, yanking it out of Ron’s hands, blushing furiously, and Harry had averted his eyes, pretending that he hadn’t heard, turning slightly pink himself.

Things had steadily declined that first day. During lunch, Ron had almost got into a fight with Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle again. Then Colin Creevey had tried to take Harry’s photo and get it autographed. Lockhart had taken the opportunity to corner Harry, insisting that Colin take a picture of the both of them together, and Ron had suggested in a snide tone that Colin should start a Harry Potter Fanclub with Lockhart, Ginny, and Hermione.

Harry knew that Ron was just in a bad mood, and Harry had tried to make light of it, but Ron’s mood had started to wear on Hermione and grate on Harry’s nerves.

That had been bad enough, but then Malfoy had come back around and started taunting Harry about being famous and giving out signed pictures. So Harry had tried to play it cool when Malfoy had started making comments too, hoping that Ron would take the hint.

“Starting a Scarhead Fanclub are you?” Draco had chortled gleefully. “Famous Potter - giving out signed photos? Never thought I’d agree with the peasant... I’m surprised that Weasleby doesn’t want one for himself though! It’d be worth more than his whole family’s house!”

“Well, they’re probably worth a lot more than the dark knick-knacks your daddy is trying to pawn so’s not to be arrested by ‘the peasant’s’ father anyway,” Harry had retorted. “Maybe if I give you one to sell, your daddy won’t be so embarrassed by you losing out to a muggleborn girl on every test!”

Draco had been infuriated and bewildered. How could Potter possibly have known?

“You... What?” Malfoy had sputtered, “Shut it Potter - you don’t know anything!” he had snarled before stalking off in outrage, much to Harry’s satisfaction.

Ron had swallowed uncomfortably and looked abashed when he realised that he had been playing right into Malfoy’s hands and been rude to his best friend.

“Sorry Harry!” he had mumbled.

Hermione had breathed a sigh of relief, and had seemed very pleased by the outcome of Harry’s sharp comebacks. But the brief respite was not to last. All hopes for the possibility that the insufferably vain Lockhart might at least be a decent teacher had evaporated completely in that afternoon’s first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson of Second Year.

The best that could be said, was that by the end of the day, Ron, Harry, and Hermione were all in the same corner again.

“Bloody Lockhart - he’s a puffed up maniac!” Ron had moaned after they’d finished capturing all of the Cornish Pixies. Harry and Hermione had been in complete agreement.

The next few days had been a marked improvement over the first, but Harry had done his best to avoid Colin Creevey and Professor Lockhart. But for poor Ron, each day had brought him closer to his first detention of the school year, and his wand was in no better condition.

The first DADA lesson of the year hadn’t dampened the spirits of most of the girls who had all still been swooning over the dreamy new DADA professor, but for Parvati at least, Lockhart had lost much of his lustre.

“I don’t know what Lavender still sees in him,” Parvati had grumbled. “I mean yeah, he does have a lovely smile and beautiful hair - but he’s an egotistical, talentless hack!”

Neville couldn’t agree more. Being manhandled and dangled from the chandelier by the Cornish Pixies had been an altogether humiliating experience.

Harry was used to getting up early, but he looked forward to his lie-ins on the weekend mornings, so he had been thoroughly perturbed when Oliver Wood had shaken him awake at the crack of dawn that Saturday for Quidditch practice. Harry had made a note to himself to speak to Professor McGonagall and remind her that staying on top of his schoolwork was a top priority for him.

To make matters worse, Colin Creevey had been been at the ready with his camera to waylay Harry again, and he’d followed Harry all the way to the dewy, misted over Quidditch pitch. The rest of the Gryffindor team had looked no happier to be dragged out of bed while the sun itself still seemed to be yawning sleepily and unwilling to awaken.

And on top of everything, Oliver Wood had thought it best to drone on endlessly in the locker-room about his new theories and game strategies for what seemed like hours while Fred and George snored away. The sun had finally decided the new day should begin and was well up before the Gryffindor team finally hit the field. Ron and Hermione had come down looking for Harry when they hadn’t seen him at breakfast.

“Aren’t you finished yet?” Ron had asked incredulously.

“Haven’t even started,” Harry had grumbled - or had that been his stomach?

“I brought you some toast and marmalade,” Hermione had said sympathetically.

“Oh... thanks Hermione!” Harry had brightened considerably and wolfed it down while the rest of the Quidditch team dragged themselves onto the field.

“Oi... what are you lot doing here?” Harry had heard Oliver call out furiously. He had turned around to see what Wood was on about and spotted green and silver clad figures invading the Quidditch Pitch.

“Beat it,” Oliver had snarled at the Slytherin Quidditch Team captain. “I booked the field for today...”

“Ah, but I have a specially signed note from Professor Snape giving us permission to practice on the field on account of the fact we need to train our new Seeker,” Marcus Flint had crowed, showing his crooked teeth with an ugly grin.

The toast and marmalade had churned uncomfortably in Harry’s stomach when a smaller pasty faced blond boy had stepped out from among the troll-like mountainous figures who populated the Slytherin Quidditch Team.

“Malfoy!” Harry had groaned.

“Are you pathetic losers still flying around on inferior brooms?” Draco had chortled. “My father made a generous donation to the Slytherin Quidditch Team.”

Sure enough, every Slytherin had been clutching a Nimbus 2001. Draco Malfoy had smirked broadly, basking in the glow of the Gryffindor team’s fury.

“At least nobody on the Gryffindor Quidditch team was so pathetic that they had to buy their way on,” Hermione had said haughtily, “They all got in on pure talent!”

Draco’s smug features had twisted into rage.

“No one asked you, you filthy little Mudblood! ” Malfoy had snarled.

Harry had had quite enough of Malfoy’s despicable rubbish. Nobody insulted his Hermione like that, and there were no teachers around to interfere. Harry had furiously whipped out his wand to hex Malfoy, but Ron had beaten him to it.

Red-faced Ron had pulled out his wand the moment he’d seen Malfoy on the pitch, furious about having to do his upcoming detention for delivering what had been a surely justifiable pummeling upon the smarmy git the first night back at school.

“Eat Slugs Malfoy!” Ron had bellowed.

Ron’s spellotaped wand had sparked, and smoke had billowed out of it. A jet of brackish green light had emerged from the wrong end of Ron’s wand and hit him in the gut. Ron had doubled over as the Slytherins roared with laughter.

“Are you alright Ron?” Harry had asked as worry flooded him.

Ron had answered by heaving and vomiting up a pile of slugs. Harry had fumed, seeing Ron’s wand smouldering. Fine, if Ron was too scared of his mum to ask her to buy him a new wand, Harry had decided then and there that he would buy one for him. Maybe Ollivander could send him one by Owl Order.

“Shouldn’t we take Ron to Madam Pomfrey?” Hermione had asked anxiously.

“Hagrid’s hut is closer,” Harry had muttered.

Hagrid hadn’t seemed too concerned though. He’d simply given Ron a bucket to throw up into.

“Better out than in,” Hagrid had said cheerfully as Fang slobbered all over Harry and Hermione. “So wha’s all this abou’ then?” Hagrid had asked.

“Malfoy called Hermione a Mudblood,” Harry had spat angrily.

Hagrid had looked outraged, as if he was about to storm off and give Malfoy a piece of his own mind, but Hermione said that she didn’t even know what it meant. Hagrid started to respond but Harry answered first.

“It’s a horrid name for a muggleborn - I expect it means ‘dirty blood’ as opposed to 'pureblood',” Harry had replied with a scowl on his face.

“I overheard Draco Malfoy call you that in Borgin and Burkes, the day I came out of the wrong Floo in Diagon Alley. His father warned him to be careful about how he talked in public... Fat Chance of that!” Harry had snorted. “Draco’s father doesn’t even know when to keep his own mouth shut!”

Ron had gradually stopped throwing up slugs, and later that afternoon he had gone off to do detention polishing golden award plaques and silver trophies in the trophy room under the eagle eyes of Argus Filch. Ron’s punishment had been to clean all the trophies spotless by hand.

Harry had spent the evening studying with Hermione. He felt sorry for Ron, but he had just been thankful for a bit of peace and quiet with Hermione at long last. That’s when he had first heard it - a hissing venomous voice echoing through the walls of Hogwarts!

“Rip... tear... must kill... feast on the blood of the unclean...!”

“What?” Harry had gasped, his heart leaping in his throat and his face white with shock.

“What’s wrong Harry?” Hermione had dropped her book with alarm when she saw Harry’s face.

“That voice - don’t you hear it?”

“No!” Hermione had said worriedly, “I don’t hear anything except the crackling of flames in the fireplace...”

Harry had told her what he heard, and had seen her frown pensively in response.

“You believe me don’t you?” Harry had asked, suddenly unsure of himself, wondering if he was going mad.

“Of course I believe you Harry,” Hermione had quickly replied, flinging her arms around him in a tight embrace and kissing him on the cheek. “Everything always seems to happen to you... but I don’t know what this is all about.”

Harry had relaxed and gone to bed feeling much better, but he was still awake when Ron finally rolled in moaning about his sore arms.

“Bloody Filch! He must’ve made me clean the same trophies a hundred times!” Ron had fumed as he climbed into his own bed.

Harry had let Ron have a good complain before regaling him with what had happened while he’d been studying with Hermione. Ron had peered at him skeptically.

“I dunno mate... if Hermione couldn’t hear it - well, even in the wizard world, hearing voices isn’t a good thing!”

After that, Harry had tossed and turned all night, his sleep fitful as his dreams were invaded by hissing voices and slithering creatures which he couldn’t see. And to Harry’s chagrin, his scar had started to twinge again as well.

As the month of October passed, and Halloween had approached again, Harry’s feelings of trepidation had grown. An ominous sense of foreboding had dogged Harry, and he had a premonition that something was going to happen on Halloween which he couldn’t explain.

“If your scar is hurting again Harry, that must mean Voldemort has something to do with it,” Hermione had said.

“Yeah... it’s not too bad - just twinges really, and my nightmares are a bit hazy. So he’s probably not here in person, but I still don’t like it,” Harry had muttered darkly.

Sir Nicholas, the Gryffindor ghost, had approached Harry and invited him to his Deathday party. Harry had accepted the invitation, but started to regret it, as it fell upon Halloween. Still, he’d made a promise, and he wasn’t going to back out. In the end, Ron had thought it would be pretty cool to go too, and Hermione had been absolutely intrigued to attend.

As Harry had left the Deathday party with Hermione and Ron, he had heard it again, the icy hissing deadly voice.

“...Rip...Tear...must kill...”

Hermione and Ron had frozen, watching Harry intently when they saw Harry go as white as a sheet, having heard nothing themselves.

“I hear it again - that voice...” Harry had muttered.

“...soo hungry....for so long...”

“This way...” Harry had shouted, his heart pounding rapidly, “It’s on the move - going this way...”

“...blood...must feast...the hunger...”

Harry had sprinted up the stairs, the others close behind him. He had reached the second floor where he had last heard the voice, and he lurched around it searching as Hermione and Ron panted breathlessly.

“Harry... what the bloody hell?” Ron had moaned, wiping the sweat dripping from his brow. “I can’t hear a thing...”

“Look...” Hermione had squeaked, her voice trembling in fright, spotting it first. “...down there, at the end of the corridor.”

And sure enough, on the wall, lit up by the flaming torches, were words which appeared to have been painted in blood:


And an even more awful sight had caught Harry’s eye, Mrs Norris, Filch’s cat, had been dangling by her tail from one of the torches, stiff as a rail.

“W...we should g...get help...” Harry had stammered, putting his arm protectively around Hermione.

“Are you joking?” Ron had said, “We don’t want to be caught here...”

And of course, given Harry’s luck, that was exactly what had happened. The Halloween Feast had ended and all the students had been returning to their dormitories. Hundreds of people had come down the passageways from all ends and surrounded Harry, Hermione and Ron.

The rumble of the crowd had quieted until only one gleeful voice could be heard.

“Enemies of the Heir, beware! You’ll be next, Mudbloods!” Draco had shouted, grinning as he leered at Hermione.

Harry had clutched Hermione tightly, his jaw taut with anger. If Harry could have, he would have hexed Malfoy to oblivion, but he knew that the professors would be there at any moment.

Filch had been beside himself and blamed Harry immediately for murdering his cat. Lockhart, the prattling, pompous git hadn’t been any help at all.

“Twas the Transmogrification Torture which killed the cat... most definitely... I’ve seen it numerous times. It’s a shame I wasn’t here - I know the countercurse which could have saved her...” Lockhart had boasted as his golden locks gleamed in the flickering flames of the torches.

“I knew it... He’s killed my cat... Murderer!” Filch had shrieked, pointing his knobby finger at Harry before bursting into tears. Harry had felt sorry for Filch, but also terribly anxious that Dumbledore might believe Filch and expel him.

“There, there Argus,” Dumbledore had said, “Mrs Norris is not dead - she has merely been petrified. We can cure her. And Harry is not to blame...”

“Rubbish... he did it! I know it!” Filch had sputtered. “He found out I’m a... I’m a... He knows I’m a Squib.”

Snape had peered at Harry inscrutably with his dark glittering eyes.

“If I may, Headmaster,” Snape had murmured, “Potter and his friends were most likely just in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”

Ron had gaped in shock, Snape of all people sticking up for them?

But Harry had noticed that Snape had been much less vindictive towards him this year. Snape hadn’t been entirely pleasant either, and he had still gone after Ron and the other Gryffindors in his classes with relish, but he had left Harry and Hermione alone during lessons, and Harry had been doing exceedingly well in potions.

Harry wasn’t sure what had changed, but he much preferred this somewhat less antagonistic Snape.

“So that’s why Filch is so bitter,” Ron had sniggered after they were given the go-ahead to return to their dorms, “I should have guessed that he’s a Squib.”

Harry had shot Ron a dirty look.

“That’s not very funny...” Harry had said, but Hermione looked puzzled.

“Sorry Harry! You’re right!” Ron had replied, looking ashamed of himself, knowing that his mum and dad wouldn’t think very much of his attitude. “It’s just - you know - Filch! He’s always so horrible to everyone, and my arm still hurts from when he made me polish the trophies all night!”

“What’s a Squib?” Hermione had asked.

“A bit of a rude word for a wizard born without magic - sort of the opposite of a muggleborn,” Harry had explained. “I saw Filch’s order form for a Kwikspell correspondence course on learning magic in his office one day when he tried to give me detention for tracking mud into the castle after Quidditch practice. He nearly had a fit and let me go, begging me not to tell anyone that he's a 'Squib'. ”

Hermione had hugged Harry and given him a kiss on the cheek as Ron flushed and looked the other way.

“That was very kind of you not to tell anyone, Harry. Poor Mr Filch! It must be dreadful to have to clean up after a bunch of wizards with no magic yourself!”

“Yeah... that’s what I was thinking too,” Harry had muttered. “It doesn’t seem fair really!”

They had found Neville and Parvati waiting for them with leftovers from the Halloween Feast when they returned to the Gryffindor Common Room.

“We believe you Harry,” Parvati had said as she and Neville watched Harry, Hermione and Ron hungrily devouring the pumpkin pasties and meat pies.

“We know you wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone,” Neville had added. Ginny had sat at the far end of the Common Room looking very disturbed.

Harry and Hermione had been scouring the library, looking for any information they could find. Ron had been a bit cross, as he was falling behind in his homework, and still had at least eight inches of parchment to fill in on his History of Magic composition. Hermione wouldn’t let him look at the rest of her essay; Harry had relented and let Ron copy from his own.

But no matter how hard Harry and Hermione had looked, they couldn’t find any information about the Chamber of Secrets. Finally, Hermione had had enough, and begged Professor Binns to tell the class what he knew.

“This is History, I deal with facts, not myth and nonsense, Miss Granger,” the ghost professor had said dryly, “However, I suppose I could be persuaded to tell you about the ridiculous legend of the Chamber of Secrets...”

The days following the attack on Filch’s cat had been wearing, as students had glanced at Harry furtively and quickly departed whenever he entered a room. Normally, Harry wouldn’t have minded that Justin Finch-Fletchley had run away from him at lunch-time, the boy was just a bit too full of himself. But the fear Harry had seen in people’s eyes had been getting too much to bear.

“It’s bloody ridiculous!” Harry had fumed. “Why would they think that I’m the Heir of Slytherin when one of my best friends is a Muggleborn?”

Hermione had frowned, not having a good answer for that one.

“Someone clearly wants to terrify all the muggleborn at Hogwarts...” she had muttered.

“Malfoy... it’s got to be him doesn’t it!?” Ron had said. “You heard him going on about Mudbloods...”

“You’ve got a good point Ron,” Harry had agreed, nodding. “His whole family’s been in Slytherin - they could be his descendants. His father is certainly evil enough!”

“We’ve got to find out,” Hermione had said, “and I think I know a way... the only trouble is it means I’ll have to pretend that I like Lockhart!”

Amazingly, Lockhart had fallen for Hermione’s ploy, and given her permission to check out Most Potente Potions from the restricted section of the school library. Hermione, Harry, and Ron had begun researching how to make the Polyjuice Potion when it came time for the first Quidditch Match of the season.

And THAT was how Harry had ended up in the hospital wing with thirty three bones removed from his arm by the incredibly inept Lockhart after a Rogue Bludger had broken it during the match.

At least Harry had the satisfaction of knowing that he’d beaten Malfoy and caught the Snitch, even after his arm had been shattered.


Harry and Hermione both awoke with a start in the dark infirmary, horrified to see a small, shadowy creature with bulging eyes the size of tennis balls, a long pointy nose, and bat ears, hovering over Harry with a damp sponge.

“Dobby! What the bloody hell are you doing here?” Harry barked as Hermione clutched him, quaking in fright.

They had both dozed off, Hermione still snuggled against Harry with her arms wrapped around him. Now awake, stabbing pains shot through Harry’s arm from what felt like dozens of large splinters. He hadn’t noticed the pain while sleeping cradled in Hermione’s warm embrace.

“Th...that’s Dobby?” Hermione squeaked.

“Yeah...” Harry sighed. “But I have no idea why he’s here at school!”

“Harry Potter came back to school,” the wretched creature whispered miserably. “Dobby warned Harry Potter not to come back to school sir. It is too dangerous for Harry Potter here - and it is too dangerous for Harry Potter’s girlfriend too...”

Harry and Hermione couldn’t help blushing at Dobby’s assumption, but neither of them bothered trying to deny it.

“...Dobby had hoped that Harry Potter and his muggleborn girlfriend wouldn’t come back when they missed the train...” the woebegone house-elf continued.

“So that was you?” Harry shook his head in frustration. “Blimey Dobby, you got Ron’s dad into loads of trouble because of that!”

“Dobby knows...” the pathetic creature moaned. “Dobby had to punish himself most severely for that...”

Hermione looked horrified when Dobby showed them his spindly bandaged fingers.

“...But Harry Potter must leave Hogwarts!” Dobby went on, “Dobby hoped that his Bludger would be enough...”

Hermione’s sympathy vanished instantly, and she bolted upright, her face blazing furiously.

“That was YOUR bludger?” she hissed angrily. “I thought Draco Malfoy was behind it. I swear, I could murder you for trying to kill Harry...”

“Not kill! NO!” sobbed the forlorn house-elf, “Dobby would never try to kill Harry Potter! Dobby only wants to save Harry Potter and his girlfriend’s lives. Dobby only meant to injure so that Harry Potter would be sent away and take his Hermione with him...”

“Dobby, this has something to do with the Chamber of Secrets, doesn’t it!?” Harry gasped, when it suddenly dawned on him. “You knew your master was going to open it and you’re trying to protect us...”

“But why can’t you tell us who’s behind it Dobby?” Hermione asked, her anger fading.

“Tis part of a house-elf’s enslavement, miss. I cannot speak my master’s secrets. Dobby has said too much already and must punish himself even more harshly now...” Dobby sobbed pitifully and blew his nose on a corner of the dirty, ragged pillowcase he was wearing, and Hermione bit her lip in sorrow.

“Do... does your master make you wear that horrid thing?” Hermione asked Dobby. The house-elf nodded, shaking his big fat teardrops everywhere.

“All house-elfs do - we is not being allowed to wear clothes. If master or mistress presents even a sock to a house-elf, then he is free to leave his owners forever...”

“That is why Harry Potter is being revered by all house-elfs - most house-elfs is being treated much better since Harry Potter killed He-who-must-not-be-named... Most gets to wear clean things like aprons and tea-towels instead of rags now! And their masters no longer beat them!”

“...but not Dobby! Dobby is still being treated like Vermin and issued death threats on a daily basis!”

Harry’s face had darkened with fury, the shock of the truth about wizards owning slaves finally sinking in. Dobby had told him before at Privet Dr that he couldn’t leave the family he served unless they set him free. But Harry hadn’t been sure what to believe at the time, and he had been very angry with Dobby for stopping all of his letters and getting him into trouble with the Dursleys.

“I’m so sorry Dobby...” Hermione’s own tears were falling fast now. “I didn’t mean it! I was just angry that you had hurt Harry!”

“Look Dobby,” said Harry. “I can’t leave Hogwarts. Voldemort is still alive...” Dobby shuddered with fright at hearing the name, but Harry ignored him and ploughed on, “...and I have to learn as much magic as I can if I ever mean to defeat him once and for all. If I don’t, Hermione and my other friends will always be in danger...”

“This Chamber of Secrets business has something to do with him! I just know it! I understand why you can’t tell me more now... and I swear, I’ll do everything I can to help you. Just please... if you want to help me, you have to understand that this is where I need to be. Promise me that you won’t try to make me leave Hogwarts anymore!”

“Dobby promises sir! Harry Potter is so noble, so valiant...” the house-elf wept as he nodded his agreement. “He risks his life for his friends and lesser beings like Dobby.”

To Dobby’s great shock, Hermione pounced on him and swept him into a tight hug.

“You’re not a lesser being Dobby,” she said adamantly as Dobby’s face turned crimson.

“Never has anyone embraced Dobby,” he wailed abjectly. “Harry Potter’s girlfriend is as gracious and magnificent as himself...”

Footsteps and voices approached the hospital wing and Dobby stiffened in alarm. “Dobby must be leaving now. But Dobby shall never forget Harry Potter’s and his Hermione’s great kindness.”

Dobby disappeared with a cracking sound. Hermione heaved herself onto the chair beside Harry’s bed as he slumped back on his pillow, both feigning sleep.

Moments later, the door to the hospital wing opened and several lanterns flared in their sconces. Dumbledore backed into the infirmary wearing his long woolly dressing gown and nightcap, holding what appeared to be one end of a statue. He glanced at Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, who both appeared to be quite red in the face for two sleeping students.
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