Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Crumbling Pedestal :: 02 :: Bedtime Stories

02 • Bedtime Stories

Notes: Portions of this chapter are paraphrased and/or borrowed from the US edition, chapter 35 (Veritaserum) and chapter 37 (The Beginning).


At the edge of the maze, the stands rising above with the shapes of people moving in them, and the stars overhead, lay the body of Cedric Diggory. Beside him, his wand, and clutched in his stiffening hand, the Triwizard cup. Had he been alive to hear it, he would have been hit by a confused welter of sound, of screams and the pounding of feet, the groaning of the stands as its inhabitants struggled to escape their confines and set the framework to swaying.

Had he been alive to see it, he would have noticed the note pinned to his robes. He would have been able to read the scarlet ink that read, “Potter is mine now,” and seen the dark mark burned black into the parchment.

But Cedric was dead and could not hear, nor could he see. Others did those things in his stead.

At the leaving feast, Dumbledore raised a toast to Cedric, reminding everyone of his good nature and sense of fair play, his bravery and honesty, and his loyalty to his friends. But he could not explain what happened the night of the third task, when Cedric returned to them dead, and alone.

And he did not tell those assembled of the note he had ripped from Cedric’s body before anyone else noticed it, nor of the strange trunk he had found in Moody’s quarters, or how the professor was found within one of the compartments of that same trunk, thin and starved in appearance, missing his glass eye and wooden leg and hanks of his grizzled hair.

Dumbledore didn’t know what had happened, but he suspected.

So the students were merely given a speech about Cedric Diggory, one that praised his fine example, and bemoaned the loss of a young man who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of Harry Potter, he said little. Missing, and presumed dead, he called for a toast to another brave young man.

That night, the Gryffindors were beside themselves, clustered in the common room of their tower. All of them had been forbidden the hospital wing ever since the night Cedric returned, and none of their questions had been answered. Not one of them knew what had happened to Harry, or if he was even locked away in the infirmary.

And now they knew.

There was very little talk, just scattered murmurs and low-voiced speculation. For a while.

*

Harry awoke to dimly-lit surroundings, though he was not uncomfortable. Given the yielding nature of the surface beneath him and the warm weight covering his body, he deduced he was in a bed.

Harry had a strange sense of déjà vu. That alone made him want to just keep his eyes closed and wait for the moment he knew was coming. But as he lay there, he started to remember that strange place and the strange conversation with someone he couldn’t see. Or should that be some thing?

When nothing happened, Harry finally cracked an eye open and saw a different blur of colours than he had been greeted with previously. From that he took courage enough to open both eyes and reach for his glasses. They were in the exact right place. He slipped them on and pulled himself upright, then looked around.

The room was quite plain. Off-white walls, white ceiling and pale wood furniture. Harry decided it was either a guest room of some kind, or the bedroom of one of those cheerful, perky, morning people. However, the decided lack of things had him leaning toward it being a normally unused room.

As if on cue, just when he was about to slip out of the bed, one of the doors opened and a young man stepped in. He was average height in Harry’s opinion, perhaps 5’10, maybe even six foot. Taller than Harry, at any rate. His hair was a glossy black that reached his shoulders, curling slightly at the ends. Pale skin, high cheekbones, and a well-shaped, sultry mouth were surmounted by the greenest eyes Harry had ever seen.

The stranger, whoever he was, smiled.

Harry hesitantly smiled back.

“Well, you’re awake. That’s good. You had us worried.” The man stepped further into the room, leaving the door ajar. “You’ve been out cold for over a week. How do you feel?”

“Er, fine, I guess. Do I even dare ask where I am?”

The stranger tilted his head and smiled again. “Had a rough time of it lately?” He produced a wand from his sleeve and conjured up a chair, then sat. “You’re safe, if that means anything. My friends and I built this place. We plan on making it into a school.”

“I’m going to make a wild guess and say you named the castle Hogwarts.”

The man blinked. “Yes, actually. What, are you skilled at Legilimency or something?”

Harry narrowed his eyes for a moment, vaguely recalling something about that from one of the books rotated through on the shelf. “I’m not holding a wand. I’m not sure why you think that.”

“True, though you need only look in that table to find yours. We saw no reason to hide it.”

Harry took his eyes off the man long enough to fumble open the drawer and pull out his beloved wand.

“Interesting, though,” said the man, “that you carry a wand with a phoenix feather core. It’s quite rare. Then again, it was because of that that we didn’t see you as any danger.”

Harry let out a bark of laughter. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that. I know the owner of this wand’s brother, and he’s no saint.”

“Well, you seem to be all right, so I suppose I should introduce myself. Salazar Slytherin, at your service.” He inclined his head for a moment in greeting.

I assumed that to be the case,” Harry hissed, then switched to English. “Harry Potter, though I doubt that name means anything.” He was pleased to see the look of gentle astonishment on Salazar’s face, which quickly turned into another smile.

“Well and so. You are an interesting fellow, aren’t you.” Salazar gave him a once over. “Hungry?”

Harry took stock, realizing he didn’t feel nearly as hungry as he should have if he’d been out for a week. “Yes, a little.”

Salazar pointed his wand at the other door. “Facilities are through there, and some clothes that should fit you. If you’d prefer to eat here I can arrange that, or you can come with me and meet the others.”

Harry glanced over, then back at Salazar, wrinkling his brow. “To eat in here would be to say I was never a Gryffindor. If you’ll wait, I’ll go get ready.”

Salazar gave him a very odd look, but nodded, so Harry slipped out of the bed and disappeared into the next room. His clothing, what there was of it, he stripped off and dropped in a basket that served the purpose of hamper well enough to Harry’s mind. The room itself was partitioned, with a rack of clothing and a puffy velvet bench to one side, and what was obviously a bathroom to the other.

Harry could only assume that in this time, no one would be threatening him for using magic, and so spent a good ten minutes bathing, using his wand to dry off afterward. The rack offered him a choice of trews, shirts, and several sets of robes in various styles. He yanked out a pair of dark green trews, and spent several minutes fiddling with the buttons along the side of each calf, then pulled a shirt of lighter green on and tucked it in. Plain black leather boots went on next, followed by a set of plain black robes.

When he stepped back into the bedroom, Salazar was still waiting. Harry gave him a small smile and said, “I have a request, if I may.”

“Yes?”

“I’ve said my name, but if I’m really when I think I am, I’d rather not use it. Do you suppose when we go to eat, that perhaps we could come up with something else? Not mention what I said earlier?”

“That’s a peculiar request. When? Something tells me you have quite a story to tell.” Salazar stood, making an odd movement with his head, then said, “As you wish. Please follow me.”

He left the room and Harry followed, not immediately recognizing his surroundings. If hadn’t been told otherwise, he would not have known he was in the castle he’d lived in for four years. After they walked for several minutes and turned down several corridors, Harry finally knew where he was.

“Are we headed for the Great Hall,” he asked, “or someplace else?”

Salazar spared him another odd look but continued to walk. “The kitchens, actually. Seems rather silly to eat in the Great Hall when there’s only a few of us.”

Harry nodded and spent the rest of the journey in silence, wondering how it was that they could communicate so readily given the time difference. He smiled slightly when a familiar painting came into view. He’d had no idea paintings could last that long. Or perhaps, it had simply been replaced over time when the need became apparent.

Inside, Harry noticed only a few house-elves, but those that were there were busy putting together a meal for the founders—as Harry was mentally calling them—and he could see it would be no trouble to feed one more mouth. The others smiled when they saw the two approach, though their smiles for Harry were polite rather than warmly welcoming as they were for Salazar.

“It’s evening, by the way,” Salazar said in an aside to Harry after he had greeted his friends. Turning back he began to say to them, “This is—” He looked back at Harry. “Suggestions?” he hissed.

Harry looked at his hands for a moment, thinking, then smiled and hissed, “Heru. I read it in a book somewhere.”

“All right. This is Heru.” He turned back and hissed, “Should I assume you already know who they are?

Heru nodded and said, “Hello, Rowena, Helga, Godric. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I hope I haven’t been too much of an inconvenience.” He copied Salazar’s earlier greeting, inclining his head briefly toward the three, and held back his amusement at the ping-pong match of looks that had occurred over he and Salazar speaking to each other in Parseltongue.

“Heru, have a seat, please,” Salazar said as he slipped onto a padded chair.

“Thank you.” Heru sat down beside Salazar and waited for the onslaught of questions.

“So, Salazar . . . you never told us you had a relative close by,” commented Rowena blandly.

“I don’t,” he said, which occasioned a series of looks at Heru.

“Would you like me to explain?” offered Heru. “It’s a long story, but I think I can compress it well enough, though you’ll probably think I’m insane.”

Since everyone immediately nodded, Heru started to speak, pausing only to fill his plate, take an occasional bite to eat, or drink to moisten his throat.

“You could say, I’m not from around here,” he began. “The worst of the matter is that which you’ll have the most trouble believing, I suppose. By all accounts, I’m from a thousand years into the future, give or take a decade or so. The records of your time are very imprecise. Later on, if any of you happen to have a pensieve handy, I’d be happy to let you rummage around in my head for supporting evidence.”

He ignored the wide eyes and went on. “I was born in nineteen-eighty to a couple who were part of a group of people fighting against the dark lord of the time. My family was in hiding for some reason—I suspect a prophecy was involved—using the fidelius charm. Anyway, it was unfortunate that the secret-keeper chosen to safeguard my parents was an agent of the Dark Lord, and he betrayed them. The Dark Lord came and killed my father as my mother tried to get to me and escape. However, the Dark Lord caught up with her. When she refused to let him kill me, offering her own life in exchange, he killed her and then tried to kill me.

“Just as with them, he cast the killing curse, except that things didn’t go the way he planned. The spell rebounded and destroyed his physical form, and left me with this scar.” He fingered his forehead. “After that, I was known throughout the wizarding world as the Boy-Who-Lived and famous for that and as the defeater of the Dark Lord.

“As you might expect, he didn’t die. His soul remained and he spent years trying to find a way to get back his body. I didn’t find out I was a wizard until I was eleven, when I was brought into the magical world by the groundskeeper of Hogwarts, a half giant. From then on, every year was a struggle of some kind. I prevented the Dark Lord from regaining his body during my first year; he’d possessed the body of our Defense professor and was after the philosopher’s stone.

“Second year I prevented his return again, by stopping him from completing a transformation from memory into life at the expense of a young girl, by finding and entering a very well hidden place within the school and defeating a creature down there, then destroying the container of the Dark Lord’s memories.”

Heru turned to Salazar and hissed, “Created the Chamber of Secrets yet, Salazar? Started with basilisk wrangling as a hobby?

Salazar blanched.

“Third year, well, he wasn’t really a factor, but I did save an innocent man from getting the dementor’s kiss, though he’s still on the run. Turns out he was my godfather. In the process, the betrayer escaped us, and went off to find what remained of the Dark Lord.”

Heru smiled briefly. “This year, fourth year, was a nightmare. Though, I think I was still being held during my birthday, so I should be fifteen now. Fourth year Hogwarts hosted the Triwizard Tournament and I was forced to participate—and I still have no idea how they managed it—and eventually got to the cup along with my fellow Hogwarts student. After arguing back and forth about who should take the cup and be declared winner, we compromised and took it together. It was a portkey, taking us to a graveyard, where the Dark Lord was waiting with the betrayer, and he used the bones of his father, the flesh of his servant, and the blood of his enemy, me, to become corporeal again.

“So that brings us to very near the end of this story. Short form, anyway. By this point I was fed up, and I don’t expect you all to understand that just now. I was fed up of the image, the fame, the wizarding public and students alternately loving me and hating me, idolizing me, and cowering away as though I’d become a dark lord myself. And I snapped. He challenged me to a duel, and I snapped. Starting ranting in Parseltongue until he stunned me, hauled me off to Merlin knows where, and locked me in a room. I was there for at least a month, but I had no way of knowing just how long.

“The really hilarious thing about this whole thing is that the Dark Lord was supposedly carrying on the work of someone in my distant past, an effort to cleanse the world of mudbloods and muggles, when he himself was a half-blood, just like me. This last part is, again, where you’ll think I’m insane. I woke up at one point in a totally white place that got rather strange looking after a while, had a conversation with a disembodied voice, was given a choice to stay or move onward, and ended up saying I’d take the offer. The next thing I knew, I woke up here.

“Oh. From what I understand, I’m not a natural parselmouth, either. Supposedly the Dark Lord passed on that ability when he tried to kill me the first time. I’m rather fond of it, though. Snakes are lovely creatures.”

He looked around the table, then calmly reached out and snagged a small cake and bit into it.

After swallowing, when no one had spoken a single word, he said, “Are we all right here, or should I prepare for a long stay in a room with padded walls and a binding spell?”

*

A pensieve was set on the table, hardly making a sound as it touched the smooth wood. Heru felt a little nervous, never having used one before. “Er, this process doesn’t actually take my memories does it? I mean, is this just like copying them, or what?”

“Just copies, Heru. And you can put them back afterward, as the process does have the effect of dulling them in your mind as a result,” Salazar assured him.

“If you say so. It isn’t as though I’ve got much to lose by doing this.”

Rowena nodded and gave him a small smile. “Touch your wand to your temple and concentrate on a memory you wish to copy. You’ll feel it when it happens. Pull your wand away and place the resulting strand into the pensieve. After that it’s a matter of putting in as much as you think we need to see.”

“Very well. I suppose I should mention that my name isn’t Heru. You’ll see that anyway, shortly. I don’t much feel like using it though. It’d be easier if I could just stick my head in and let it copy everything,” he quipped, then raised his wand.

Several hours later he was finished. Heru did conceal a few things. Any mention of the founders was omitted from the selection he had provided, with the sole exception of revealing that he had used Godric’s sword at one point. He did not reveal where, though. It was evident that no one would be getting sleep anytime soon.

“Should I go in with you? I don’t know if it might be easier since I’d be there to explain if necessary.”

“Yes, please. You can direct the flow of memories we see. Otherwise it’s likely to be a jumble of time.”

Heru nodded, gave them a wan smile, then dove in.

It was some time the next day, or perhaps the one after that, that they emerged exhausted. None of the four had any trouble believing his story, and his presence had been immensely helpful in filling in the small details as they skipped through his life. Heru was given charge of the pensieve so that he could reclaim his memories later on, and all of them dragged off to their respective bedrooms, promising that one of them would come to fetch him later if he had not already woken and found them first.

*

“I don’t know. You saw the memory,” Heru said. “I mean, I assume I’m here for a reason, but what, I have no idea.”

“Well, I can see why you don’t want to use your real name, but you’re going to need more that just the one.”

Heru shrugged. “I don’t care about names. You pick them.”

“In that case, your second name is now officially Servius,” proclaimed Rowena.

Heru nodded, unconcerned.

“Your third name is Tychon,” decided Helga.

“Your fourth name is Anselm,” chimed in Godric.

Heru blinked at the rapidity of these decisions, then stared at the final founder.

“And your surname . . . is Slytherin,” Salazar declared, lifting his chin.

“Eh?” Heru raised his brows in surprise.

“I said, your new surname is Slytherin,” he repeated firmly.

“Er, not that I mind or anything,” said Heru, “but isn’t that a little—I mean, I’m not even family. Why would you do that? I don’t understand.”

“Have you bothered to take a look at yourself, then at me?” replied Salazar. “We could practically be brothers.”

“Well . . . no, I hadn’t.”

“If you have no objections, we will be.”

“Will be? How?” Heru asked, bewildered.

“Blood magic, of course. Don’t they teach that anymore?” Salazar shot a look at his friends.

“Nooooooo,” drawled Heru. “Could you explain?”

“It’s simple, Heru. A little of my blood, some of yours, a few quick rituals—it should only take a couple of days—and you’d be my blood brother.”

“But . . . are you really sure you want to do that?”

“Would I offer if I didn’t?” Salazar countered. “The bonus is that it will magically change your name and identity.”

When Heru just stared at him in disbelief for a minute, Salazar hissed, “And besides, you’ve kept my secrets.”

“All right. Let’s do it, then,” Heru declared with a quirky grin.

*

Many things happened in the week which followed the agreement, but the culmination of it all was the final ritual of blood bonding. Godric claimed the right as Heru’s ancestor—which boggled everyone for a while—to actually perform the rites. Once the last words were chanted, the last runes were inscribed, the final blood spilled and mixed, and all his names added in, Heru was officially a Slytherin.

Months passed as the group worked on a number of things, among which were ways to record the births of magical children, how to apportion teaching duties and what to teach, where to house the students within the castle, and any number of other details that could not be overlooked.

During that time it became quite clear that by the founders’ standards Heru already knew most of what they be teaching. Heru knew that was only because they did not have to deal with a thousand years of spell development. Insofar as the regular students that would eventually be attending, Heru would be a fully qualified teacher.

On the other hand, the founders knew magics that were considered ancient to Heru, things he had only read or heard vague references to, magics that had unfortunately been lost over the centuries. So it was those that they taught him, once it was clear that even at fifteen, Heru was quite intelligent, a fast learner, and exceptionally strong magically. Or was, once they fixed him.

After a lot of frustration on their parts, they realized the fundamental problem that plagued Heru. The power and ability was there, but he couldn’t access all of it. Once they had spent the time to go over him with the ancient—by Heru’s standards—magical equivalent of a fine-toothed comb, they pinpointed the culprit. His scar.

In the end, it was modified. With Voldemort being centuries in the future they had, perhaps, a much easier time tinkering with its composition, resulting in a release of Heru’s innate power, the unblocking of his divinatory ability, and a severing of the scar’s pathway into his mind. Heru very much doubted that anyone from his time could have accomplished it.

It was not much longer after that, after Salazar had thoroughly tutored Heru in the fine art of potion making, that they started to do a great deal of experimental work. Potions, potions layered with spells, and anything else they could think of. In particular, Salazar was fascinated by Heru’s description of polyjuice potion. However, while he thought that was an interesting potion, he felt it was not quite good enough for his tastes.

It was nearing the time when the school would begin its first year of operations that a rather nasty accident occurred in the dungeons. In another time and place, Heru would have placed bets on Neville Longbottom being the cause, but of course that was not so here. The resulting disaster was cleaned up in careful stages, and Salazar chucked his notes in the bottom drawer of his office desk, cursing at the lack of progress, and resolving to deal with it some other time.

The actual consequences of the incident were rather more far reaching that either he or Heru expected.