Harry laid awake for hours and hours that night. Hermione had her arm around him and on Hermione's other side Ron was snoring softly. These things usually brought him comfort and soothed him to sleep. Not tonight. Tonight he didn't even want to be around them. He felt dirty. Like something was wrong with him. He slowly extracted himself from under Hermione's arm and walked over to his own bed. He laid down staring at the canopy. He quietly tried to say something in parseltongue but it wouldn't come
Through a gap in his curtains he saw snow starting to drift by the window. He wondered if he could possibly be related to Salazar Slytherin. It couldn't be..could it. Then again Harry knew nothing about his father's family
'I'm a Gryffindor..' he thought
Come to your destiny. The anti-thread voice was back
He shook his head 'No.' he thought savagely 'This is my destiny. I'm a Gryffindor. I'm right where I belong.'
He hid his head under his blanket and tried his best to fall asleep. They had Herbology tomorrow. Harry would talk to Justin, explain that he'd been telling the snake to back off, not attack. Harry felt a prickle of rage. Any idiot should have realized that. He squeezed his eyes shut and eventually drifted off to sleep.
The next morning when Harry woke up he was surprised to find that he wasn't alone anymore. Ron and Hermione were curled up on either side of him. They must have woken at some point in the night and joined him. The idea made him feel happy.
His good mood ended however when he heard later that the last Herbology lesson of the term had been canceled. The snow that had started last night had escalated to a huge blizzard. Professor Sprout wanted to put socks and scarves on the mandrakes: This was a tricky operation she wouldn't trust anyone else with now that the mandrakes were needed to revive Collin and Mrs. Norris.
Harry complained about this to Ron and Hermione as they laid in front of the common room fire once again. Ron and Hermione were using their lesson off to play chess.
"For goodness sake, Harry." Hermione snapped as she lost one of her knights "Just go and look for Justin if you're that worried about it."
Harry decided to take the advice so he got his feet and left the common wandered the corridors, wondering where Justin might be. He wandered towards the library perhaps Justin would be there making productive use of the lesson off. There was in fact a group of Hufflepuff second-years hanging around in the back of the library and they seemed like they were having an engaging conversation. Harry approached to see if Justin was with them when he caught a few words of what they were saying and froze where he was to listen
"I told Justin to lay low for awhile." One boy was saying "He's hiding up in our dormitory. I mean, Potter's pretty much marked him down as his next victim now. Of course he's been waiting for something like this to happen since let slip to Potter that he's muggle born. He even told him his name had been down for Eton..that's not exactly the kind of thing you should be rabbiting about with the heir of Slytherin on the loose is it?"
A blonde girl who was wearing her hair in pigtails looked anxious "So you really think it is Potter then, Ernie?" she asked
"Hannah...Potter's a Parselmouth." Said Ernie seriously "Have you ever heard of a decent one who could talk to snakes."
There was a good deal of murmuring at this
"And remember the message on the wall..." Ernie continued "Enemies of the heir beware...everyone who's gotten on Potter's bad side lately has been affected. He has a run in with Filtch and his cat's attacked. Creevey was embarrassing him when he broke his arm at that Quidditch match by taking pictures and wham, Creevey's been attacked."
Hannah looked uncertain "He's always seemed so nice though..and he's the one who made you-know-who go away isn't he? He can't be all bad."
Ernie lowered his voice, The Hufflepuffs leaned closer and Harry inched forward a bit so he could hear.
"Nobody knows what happened when Potter defeated you-know-who." Ernie said "He was only a baby when it happened. and he should have been blasted to bits by that curse. Only a powerful dark wizard could survive a curse like that." he lowered his voice even farther "Maybe that's the reason you-know-who wanted to kill him in the first place. Trying to get rid of another dark lord that would compete with him.."
Harry had had enough. He revealed himself and looked at the Hufflepuffs. If he hadn't been so angry he would have found it comical the way they all froze when they saw him.
"Hello. I'm looking for Justin." Harry said, all the Hufflepuffs looked as if their worst fears had come true
"Why." Said Ernie suspiciously
"I want to tell him what really happened at the dueling club." Harry said
"We saw what happened." Ernie said
"Then you noticed the snake backed off after I talked to it?" Harry asked
"I just saw you speaking to the snake chasing it toward Justin." Ernie said stubbornly
"It didn't even touch him!" Harry snarled
"It was a near miss." Ernie said "And before you go getting any ideas my blood's as pure as anyone's so..."
"I DON'T CARE." Harry snapped "Why would I attack muggle borns?"
"I hear you hated those muggles you used to live with.." Ernie replied. This was a low blow in Harry's opinion. Rage boiled up inside him and he was about five seconds away from tugging his sweater over his head and showing Ernie exactly why he hated the Dursleys. That would just make him look mental though, so he settled for glaring at Ernie and saying in a low voice "Don't talk about things you don't understand." and with that he turned and stormed out of the library.
He felt so angry that he didn't even notice where he was walking with the result that he ran right into Hagrid who was holding a dead rooster
"Hi Hagrid..." Harry said quietly
"Hi there Harry. Shouldn't you be in class?" Hagrid asked
"Got cancelled." Harry muttered "What are you doing in here?" Hagrid hardly ever came into the school. Hagrid held up the dead rooster
"Third one dead this term." He explained "Gotta get the headmasters permission to put a protective charm around the hen coop. You okay, Harry? Yeh look all bothered."
"It's nothing." Harry lied quickly "Look Hagrid, I have to go...Transfiguration starts soon and I have to get my bag.."
Harry turned and walked off, his mind still buzzing with what he'd heard in the library. Still silently seething he stomped up the stairs, the torches here had been extinguished by a draft from a loose window pane so it was especially dark. He suddenly tripped over something on the stairs. He squinted around to see what is was and felt sick. There, lying on the steps, was Justin. Harry felt his heart begin to pound so hard he thought it would burst out of his chest. Next to Justin was Nearly Headless Nick, he wasn't transparent anymore but black and smokey he hovered motionless a few inches above the ground his head hanging from his neck. Harry also saw a line of spiders scurrying away from the bodies just as they had done near Myrtle's bathroom. He didn't know what to do. Should he run? Should he go for help? Would anyone believe he hadn't done this?
While Harry tried to decide what to do Peeves shot out of an empty classroom next to him and knocked his glasses askew "Hello, potty wee Potter." he cackled "What's Potter up to, why's Potter lurking."
He started a flip in mid-air but stopped half way through it, he had spotted Justin and Nick. He flipped upright and before Harry could stop him he began to scream
"ATTACK! ANOTHER ATTACK! MORTALS AND GHOSTS RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! ATTACK!"
Doors banged open all along the corridor and people spilled out of classrooms. Harry found himself surrounded.
Peeves broke into a song, gleeful as always at the sight of chaos:
"Oh Potter you rotter what have you done, you're killing off students you think it's good fun."
Ernie yelled about how he'd been caught in the act this time they were both silenced by Professor McGonagall who sent everyone back to their classes she then ordered Ernie to float Nick up to the hospital wing with a fan as two teachers carried Justin off as well. Once order had been restored Professor McGonagall looked at Harry seriously "Come with me, Potter." she said, sounding grave
"Professor.." Harry begged, his eyes pleading "I didn't..I swear I didn't..."
"This is out of my hands." She replied.
The next thing Harry knew he had been lead to Dumbledore's office.