The Golden Thread::Book Two::Chamber of Secrets::

Reassurance

Harry looked around the office with interest, if he wasn't so scared of being kicked out of school he'd have been happy to have a look around in here. He then spotted the old school sorting hat. Well, it couldn't hurt to try it one one more time. Just to be sure. He picked up the hat and placed it on his head. Just as it had the day he'd been sorted the over-large hat fell over his eyes. He waited and then a voice spoke to him

"Bee in your bonnet Harry Potter?" it whispered

"Sorry to bother you..." Harry muttered awkwardly "But I was just wondering...did you put me in the right house?"

"Ahh yes. I remember that well. You were quite difficult to place." the hat replied "But I do stand by what I said last year.." Harry's heart leapt but then the hat brought his hopes crashing down when it continued "You would have done well in Slytherin." Harry yanked the hat off his head and replaced it on the shelf

"You're wrong!" he snarled

The hat is never wrong.. Slytherin is your destiny. Your soul is mine. Harry jumped as the cold voice in his head spoke to him. It was clearer than it had ever been. Harry shook his head like a dog trying to dislodge water from it's ears. No. The voice was wrong. The hat was wrong. As Harry tried to calm himself down he heard a small choking sound and wheeled around. There was a large red and gold bird sitting on a perch beside the desk. It looked incredibly sick, it's feathers were falling out. Harry watched it and it peered back at him making the weak chocking noise again. It looked ready to keel over at any moment and Harry was just thinking that all he needed now was for Dumbledore's pet bird to die while he was alone with it when, much to Harry's shock and horror, the bird burst into flames. Harry yelped and backed away. Well this was just peachy. He looked around for water but couldn't find any. The bird had become a giant fireball and soon it was nothing more than a smoking pile of ash. As Harry stood there wondering how much more bad luck one kid could possibly have, Dumbledore entered the office.

Dumbledore explained to Harry that the bird's name was Fawkes and he was a phoenix. Harry watched as a baby bird emerged from the pile of ash and Dumbledore told him that a phoenix made a very good pets with their healing tears and loyalty to their owners. He finally said that he didn't believe Harry was the one who attacked Justin, Nick or anyone else which gave Harry an immense feeling of relief.

"However, I still wish to talk to you." Dumbledore said

"About what..?" Harry asked.

Dumbledore gave Harry one of his piercing looks that always made him feel like he was being looked right through "Is there something..you want to tell me..anything at all?"

Things flashed through Harry's mind. The potion in the bathroom, the strange voices, Malfoy's veiled threat when he'd shouted 'You'll be next mudbloods." the things people were saying about him, his growing fear that somehow, some way, he was connected to Slytherin and the monster and his worry that the next victim might be his 'Mione however when he opened his mouth all that came out was "No, sir, nothing."

The double attack was the only thing everyone was talking about the next day. Harry couldn't escape the whispers that started to follow him, the fact that people were avoiding him in the corridors. It got to be too much. Harry slipped up to the dormitory and grabbed his invisibility cloak and packed a few things in his bag. He knew exactly where he was going to go. Somewhere he wouldn't be found by pretty much anyone. He slung his bag over his shoulder, threw his cloak on and left the common room. His feet carried him out onto the still snowy grounds and towards the frozen lake. He reached the tree grove he'd discovered with Ron and Hermione and, taking off his cloak, climbed through the gap in the trees. He reached into his bag and pulled out a rolled up blanket, he laid it on the snow covered ground and sat down, then he took a jar out of his bag and whispered a spell Hermione had taught him. Blue flames shot from his wand and into the jar. He sat the jar in front of him and the small fire warmed the tiny grove. Harry breathed deeply and closed his eyes, he was finally away. He needed this..needed air...needed to be alone..needed to think. He wasn't sure how much time had passed when he heard muffled footsteps outside his hiding place. Ron and Hermione had apparently figured out where he was. In a matter of minutes they had climbed into the grove and sat down with him.

We thought we'd find you here. Are you okay? Ron thought

Not really.. Harry admitted Can I tell you guys something?

Anything. They answered together

When I was sorted...the hat wanted to put me in Slytherin. And then yesterday when I went to see Dumbledore...I tried it on again and it said I would have done well in Slytherin. Harry took a deep breath And I heard that voice in my head again. It told me my destiny was in Slytherin...what if I do have something to do with this? I know I'm not the one doing it but I have this nagging feeling that somehow...I'm the cause.

You're not.. Ron thought quietly The only one responsible for this is that nutter Malfoy, and as soon as the potion is ready we're going to prove it.

But...

Hush Harry. I don't care what some ruddy voice told you, your destiny is in Gryffindor...it's with us.. Ron thought

Ron's right... Hermione thought. Harry felt his worries momentarily dissolve. He threw his arms around Ron and Hermione and did what he'd been wanting to do for ages and kissed them both on the cheek. He pulled away and smiled at them. Ron's ears were bright red and Hermione was grinning stupidly. None of them said anything for awhile

We should get back to the school before we catch frostbite. Ron thought finally. Harry packed up his stuff and they left the grove and headed for dinner. Harry was feeling more contented than he had in days. He didn't care what life threw at him now. As long as he had his Ron and Hermione somehow everything would be okay.