Chapter 35 // The Heir of Slytherin
‘We needed to make sure Hagrid wasn’t the Heir of Slytherin,’ Harry whispered. I laughed.
‘Hagrid?’ I asked, ‘You’re kidding right? He wouldn’t even hurt a Nargle if they existed. You don’t seriously think he’s the Heir?’
‘That’s why he was expelled years again,’ Ron explained. The laughter died in my throat and I stared at him.
‘Did he do it?’
‘No,’ Harry shook his head, ‘he was framed by some guy, Tom Riddle. Someone else opened the Chamber. Aragog told us all about it.’
‘Hagrid’s pet,’ Ron bitterly answered, ‘some giant spider that could talk and wanted to feed us to his children.’
‘I didn’t know there were Acromantulas in the Forest!’
‘I don’t care what they’re called! Hagrid’s nuts!’
‘Who’s this Tom Riddle guy?’ I asked.
‘Some git who one a trophy for framing Hagrid,’ Harry said, ‘we don’t really care about him. We just want to find out who opened the Chamber and save Hermione.’
‘What if he did it?’ I wondered, ‘You know, that Riddle fellow? Framing someone is the perfect way of hiding your own crimes.’
‘I don’t know,’ Harry shrugged, ‘he seemed like a pretty perfect guy. Head boy, trophies, smartest of his year. Doesn’t sound like the Heir of Slytherin.’
‘You’re right,’ I bit my lip and shook my head, ‘anyway, I need to get into the Forest. Any tips?’
‘You were going to tell us why you need to get in there.’ And so, I told them about the cave. I was convinced that Luna was right: if we didn’t go in there, we would be running in circles. It didn’t matter how many more people I asked about it; they didn’t know anything and if they did, they wouldn’t tell me. Just like Harry and Ron wanted to find the Heir of Slytherin and the Chamber of Secrets, I needed to find the cave and whatever my father did there.
‘You’re crazy if you want to go in there,’ Ron said.
‘I have to,’ I answered, ‘you should know what that’s like, right?’
Harry nodded and looked me in the eye. He seemed to be making a decision.
‘I’ll tell you everything,’ he said and during the rest of the break, I listened to him talk. He told me everything he knew about the Forest, what creatures he had seen, which pads he had taken. Now and then, Ron would bud in, but it was mostly Harry who did the talking. I listened carefully, forgetting to eat, feeling excited and scared at the same time.
‘When you go in,’ he said, ‘you should take Fang. He’s not worth much, but at least he knows the way. He could lead you back out, if he doesn’t take of running scared. I hope you have a companion to join you.’
‘Luna’s coming,’ I pointed at the Ravenclaw table, ‘I trust her with my life.’
‘Good,’ he nodded, ‘you’ll need that. Do you have any idea were you’re going to start searching?’
‘Firenze only mentioned the Western part of the Forest. Hagrid told me about a path by the lake, so we’ll probably take that route.’
‘Why not take the path by Hagrid’s hut?’ Ron asked.
‘Too much risk of getting caught,’ Harry answered in my place, ‘she’s not going to find the cave in one night, so she needs a path that isn’t so openly visible. She needs to be able to come and go as she likes.’
‘Have you found the path yet?’ Ron asked, a troubled look on his face, ‘Hagrid has a weird sense of things that involve the forest.’
‘We’re checking it out this evening, after potions,’ I said, taking another piece of pork.
‘I’m praying for your sake that the path is an actual path and not some bushy outlaw kind of thing,’ Ron sighed, ‘I think people are staring at you.’
I turned around and saw almost half of the Ravenclaw table looking over at me. I bit my lip and turned towards Harry and Ron again.
‘They’re probably gossiping about me helping the Heir of Slytherin. They all think I should have been a Slytherin anyway, like you did,’ I nodded to Ron, ‘I spend most off my time in the library so that I don’t have to go up to the common room.’
‘Must be lonely,’ Harry said, and I knew he could relate. I shrugged.
‘I’m used to being alone,’ I said, ‘I’m not good at making friends, as you can see. The only real friend I had… You know.’
‘Why don’t you believe that I’m not the Slytherin Heir?’ Harry asked, ‘You don’t know me that well.’
‘I understood,’ I said silently, so that nobody else could hear me. But I didn’t say it in English. Instead, I used the snake language. Ron spit out his pumpkin juice and started shoving away from me.
‘Understood what?’ Harry asked in the same way, the clicking and hissing sounds deep in his throat, whispering almost as silently as I did.
‘What you said that night in the duelling club,’ I hissed again, ‘to Justin.’
‘You understood what? Wait, you’re a parseltongue too?’
I nodded and smiled. ‘Don’t worry, I’m not the Heir either.’
‘Guys, do you know how creepy that is!’ Ron yelled. The surrounding Gryffindors looked up.
‘What’s creepy?’ Harry asked, oblivious to the situation.
‘That snake thing you do! Seriously, don’t do it!’
‘So, you really don’t know when you talk snake?’ I asked. Harry shook his head. ‘It’s interesting that we both have it. It’s so rare. Salazar Slytherin was one of the most known parseltongues in the wizarding world. I know that there were others too, but none as famous as him. Nobody in my family can do it, as far as I know.’
The bell rang, and I promised Harry I would investigate it, to figure out how we both got to have it. Maybe it was something in the family tree. I found Luna in front of the potions classroom and during potions I filled her in on everything Harry and Ron had told me.
‘So, we check out the path tonight?’ Luna asked, dreamily cutting into lizard tails. I was afraid she would cut of her own fingers.
‘Yeah,’ I nodded, ‘We should check out the path now, so we know what we’re up against. Then we can see what kind of spells we need to teach ourselves. We can start our search in the Easter holiday.’
‘There will be people outside, by the lake by Easter,’ Luna pointed out.
‘I’m counting on that,’ I answered, ‘if we’re alone and someone sees us disappearing by the lake, they’ll start asking questions. But if there are a bunch off other students, we won’t be that noticeable.’
She nodded and for the rest of the time, we worked in silence, each wrapped up in our own thoughts. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drag Luna into this, but she already told me I wasn’t going alone, so, I didn’t really have a choice. I didn’t feel very good about it, though. I would kill myself if something happened to her.
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