For the next few days nobody talked about anything but the attack on Mrs. Norris, Filtch kept it in everyone's minds by guarding the scene of the crime or trying to give out detentions for things like 'breathing loudly' and 'looking happy'
Harry and Ron spent time trying to comfort Ginny who seemed to be the most disturbed by Mrs. Norris' fate. They knew she was a cat lover.
"C'mon, Gin.." Ron said, putting an arm around her "Don't be upset, you didn't really know Mrs. Norris..trust me, we're better off without her." Harry put a hand on his foster sister's shoulder
"I'm sure they'll catch whoever did it and have them out of here in no time."
Hermione also seemed to have been affected by the attack..she was reading even more than usual, and that was saying something. She wouldn't answer the boys when they asked what she was up to and it wasn't until the Wednesday after the attack that they finally found out.
Harry had had to rush threw lunch because Snape had made him stay back and scrape tubeworms off the desks after potions. He then headed off to meet Ron and Hermione in the library. On the way he ran into Justin. Harry raised a hand to wave but Justin turned and hurried off in the other direction leaving a very confused Harry standing with his hand raised in a wave looking like an idiot. He shook his head and continued on his way.
When he got to the library Harry found Ron working on his History of Magic homework.
"Where's 'Mione?" Harry asked, plopping himself down beside Ron
"Over there someplace." Said Ron waving a vague hand at a row of bookshelves to their right without looking up, he was making his writing as large as possible to meet the required length for their essay "Probably looking for another book. I think she's trying to read the whole library before Christmas." Harry chuckled. That sounded about right at the rate Hermione had been going lately.
"Heard that." Whispered an irritable voice behind them. Harry and Ron spun around to see Hermione looking at them with a raised eyebrow and crossed arms. She looked annoyed but finally seemed ready to talk to them
"All the copies of Hogwarts a History are gone." She reported as she sat down between "I wish I hadn't left my copy at home but I couldn't fit it in my case with all the Lockhart books.."
"Why do you want it?" Harry asked curiously
"The same reason as everyone else. To look up the legend of the chamber of secrets."
"What is the chamber of secrets anyway?" Harry asked quickly. Hermione bit her lip
"That's just it..I can't remember...and I can't find the story anywhere else."
Harry then told the others about Justin running away from him.
"Ahh..don't worry about that." Ron said "He was a bit of an idiot...all that stuff about how great Lockhart is.."
"That doesn't make him an idiot." Said Hermione quickly, her face going red. Harry and Ron rolled their eyes at each other.
"Sure, whatever you say 'Mione." Harry grumbled.
"Hey, 'Mione can I take a look at your essay?" Ron asked, checking his watch.
"No, you can't!" Hermione snapped, looking suddenly stern
"Aww come on, I just need help with the conclusion.." Ron begged, giving her his best puppy-dog stare. Harry felt himself melt and knew if Ron had looked at him like that he would give in. Hermione however, didn't change her mind.
"No way. You've had plenty of time to finish it."
The bell rang and Harry trailed a bit behind a now bickering Ron and Hermione as the three of them made their way to History of Magic.
The class began with it's usual stupor but then something happened that never had before. Hermione put up her hand.
Professor Binns looked shocked "Yes, Miss-"
"Granger, Professor." Hermione answered "I was wondering if you could tell us about the chamber of secrets."
The rest of the class instantly snapped out of it's trance. Dean, who's gaze had been fixed firmly out the window, snapped his eyes forward, Lavender Brown's head came up off her arms and Neville's elbow slipped off of his desk. It took a bit of persuading but Professor Binns eventually told them the story:
Hogwarts' four founders, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin, had founded the school almost 1000 years ago. Slytherin had had an argument with the others about the students who would be admitted to Hogwarts, he wanted to keep it in the pureblood families. Gryffindor in particular had been against this idea and Slytherin had left the school. Legend said that, before leaving, Slytherin had built a hidden chamber which only himself and his heirs could open. A chamber that was home to a monster meant to purge Hogwarts of those that Slytherin felt were unworthy to study magic. In other words, muggle borns. (Harry and Ron exchanged looks and shot worried glances at Hermione.) Binns assured them that the school had been scoured many times and no chamber had been found. The class shot questions at him to the point he became annoyed, he insisted that it was a legend and returned to his lecture. The class was back in it's usual daze within five minutes.
Slytherin sure was a loon wasn't he. Ron thought as they headed to Gryffindor tower to drop their school bags off before supper Never knew he was the origin of all this pureblood mania though. I wouldn't be a Slytherin if you paid me. If I'd been sorted in their I would've just got back on the train and gone home.
Hermione nodded in agreement but Harry's stomach lurched uncomfortably. He'd never told the other two what had happened at his sorting. The sorting hat had seriously considered making HIM a Slytherin. In fact the only reason he was a Gryffindor was because he'd begged to go somewhere that wasn't Slytherin.
"Hey Harry!" squeaked a voice. Harry looked around, it was Collin Creevey.
"Hi Collin." Harry murmured automatically.
"Harry, guess what? Someone in my class has been saying you're-" But he was swept away by the incoming tide of people "Bye Harry!" he yelled as he was shunted along the corridor towards the great hall
"Wonder people in his class are saying..." Hermione wondered, staring after him.
"Probably that I'm the heir of Slytherin.." Harry muttered with another uncomfortable squirming sensation in his stomach.
Ron felt Harry's discontent and grabbed his hand "Forget it, Harry, people here will believe anything." He said with disgust in his voice.
"Do you think there's any truth to this chamber business, 'Mione?" Ron asked as they climbed another staircase
"Well..I don't know..Dumbledore couldn't revive Mrs. Norris so I think whatever attacked her may not be human.." Hermione answered
They found themselves in the corridor where the attack had taken place..
Don't suppose it could hurt to take a look around? Harry thought, he let go of Ron's hand, dropped his bag and began to look for any type of clue.
Look, scorch marks! Harry said, pointing.
This is funny.. Hermione thought. Harry walked over to find her looking at a line of spiders. They were all climbing up the same thread of web and out a small hole in a window.
Never seen spiders act like that before..Have you...
Harry shook his head and then he felt a wave of fear. It wasn't his, it was Ron. Harry and Hermione turned around to see him standing well away and carefully looking away from the window. Through the Thread Harry could tell that there wasn't much keeping him from taking off running back down the corridor.
Harry walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder
What's the matter?
I..Don't..Like..Spiders.. Ron thought, shuddering slightly.
Really? Thought Hermione But you've used spiders in potions a load of times...
I don't mind them dead..I just hate how they move
Not funny, 'Mione...If you've gotta know Fred turned my teddy bear into a spider when I was three because I broke his toy broom and I've hated them ever since.
Hermione was trying not to laugh and Harry, partly to get their mind back on serious matters and partly to avert the argument he was sure was about to break out, mentioned the water that had been on the floor. They figured out that it had come from Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. They made their way inside and questioned Myrtle about what had happened at Halloween. She told them that she hadn't seen anything because she'd been too upset by the way Peeves had treated her at the deathday party. As they left the bathroom to actually go to dinner they were caught by Percy.
"What are you two doing in there?" He demanded of Ron and Harry "That's a girl's bathroom!"
"Just taking a look around..clues you know." Ron said, shrugging.
"Get. Away. From. There. Now." Percy hissed "Don't you care how this looks, hanging around here when everyone's already suspicious."
"Why shouldn't we be here." Ron snarled "We never touched that cat and you know it."
"That's what I told Ginny but she still thinks you three are going to end up expelled."
"You don't care about Gin at all." Ron shot back "You're just worried we'll ruin your chances at being Head Boy."
"Five points from Gryffindor!" Percy snapped "Get out of here, now. Any more detective work and I write to mum."
The trio chose spots well away from Percy in the common room that night. The could't bring themselves to work, even Hermione put down her books. All they could think about was if the Chamber of Secrets was real and, if it was, who would possibly be opening it. Ron suggested Malfoy and that perhaps the key to the chamber had been in his family for who-knows-how-long. They brooded about how they would be able to prove it and that's when Hermione had an idea...Polyjuice potion. A potion that would change the drinker temporarily into another person. Snape had mentioned it in class. The plan was going to be difficult to pull off though, the book they needed was in the restricted section and required a note from a teacher and they needed to figure out how they were going to get one...