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The Spellmaker

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Ortu | Rising


<Professor Slughorn?> Harry’s eyebrows rose in surprise. <How can he be of help?>

<<Slughorn knows about soul containers. I talked with him about them when I was a student. I cannot remember what specifically happened during that meeting, which means I decided not to risk including it in this diary. It is very likely Slughorn knows something important.>>

Harry blinked at him. <So what do I do?>

<<Talk to him. Figure out what he knows.>>

<Surely it can’t be that simple. Won’t he question that I’m asking about something so Dark? What if he mentions it to someone else?>

<<He was Head of Slytherin for many years. He’s used to dealing with Slytherin students asking him about Dark subjects, even dangerous ones, and he’s a great resource to have at our disposal. He’s also a strong proponent for student privacy, so we don’t have to worry about him spreading any rumors or talking to other teachers. Even so, we do need to formulate a plan for how we will approach the topic with him. Soul containers are an extremely niche topic, so we have to come up with a believable excuse for why you even know they exist.>>

Harry nodded, shifting slightly as he considered what excuse would work in this kind of situation. The movement pulled on his shoulder and his injury gave a distinctive twinge. It wasn’t painful, exactly, since his numbing spell was still active, but it abruptly reminded Harry that he really needed to get out of here and get his injuries fully treated as soon as he could. He’d kind of forgotten the urgency of the matter, getting completely absorbed with figuring out how exactly he was going to deal with Tom, but now that that was mostly settled he was once again aware that he was not, by any means, healthy at the moment.

<We can talk about that later. How do I get out of here?>

<<The Chamber may still contain relevant information for this topic, we should get as much as possible figured out while we're here.>>

<That may be true, but I also may not be completely unharmed.>

Tom's magic went still in surprise, then began swirling around him. <<You're hurt? Why didn’t you say anything earlier? Are you seriously injured?>> A week ago Harry would probably have assumed that the way Tom's magic was swirling around him indicated he was feeling genuine concern over Harry's injuries. Now, however, it was easy to spot the way Tom's magic looked too...interested, so to speak, in the idea that Harry might be injured.

Harry narrowed his eyes at the diary, suspicious for a moment about whether Tom was trying to figure out if Harry was weak enough to attack. But the diary's magic didn't look aggressive in the least, merely interested, and Harry was pretty sure that had more to do with Tom's inherent sadism than any desire to kill Harry at the moment. Which wasn't ideal, either, but as long as the other boy didn't act on his sadism Harry was...well, not necessarily fine with it, but he'd obviously just have to get used to it. It certainly wasn't Tom's fault that Harry could see his magic and tell what he was really feeling. Tom's questions had been perfectly normal and polite, and that was about as much as Harry could really expect from him.

<I...broke my arm pretty badly while fighting with the basilisk. Which was around two hours ago at this point, so I do need to get going.>

Tom's magic froze completely. <<You’ve just been sitting here for two hours, reading my research and talking to me...with a broken arm?>> 

Phrasing it like that made it sound kind of ridiculous, and Harry hurried to defend himself. <It's not like I chose to be in this situation, I had to deal with you first! Besides, I set it back with magic so it’s not technically broken anymore, and I numbed it so I’m not in pain. I'm not just being completely irresponsible about my safety.>

<<Are you trained as a Healer?>> Harry could almost feel the disbelief pouring out of the diary.

<No, but I do have some medical knowledge.>

Tom's magic twisted. <<How exactly did you set your arm back? Are you sure you did it correctly?>>

Harry wasn't sure if Tom was trying to get him killed by stalling or if he was just being condescending, but either way the questions made him frown. <I'm not going to tell you anything, so don't even try stalling. In any case, it was fine for now, but I definitely do need to see someone more qualified as soon as possible, so just tell me how to get out of here.>

Tom's magic went tense, then flicked at Harry with measured annoyance. <<I'm not stalling, I'm concerned you might be literally dying right now. Broken arms can be extremely dangerous, and I have no idea how you even set it yourself with magic, especially if you aren't trained as a Healer. You could have an extremely dangerous infection, or a broken artery, or any number of severe complications. I can at least try to help if you tell me what you did.>>

That caused Harry to stop for a moment. There definitely was a chance Tom was right, and Harry was already in grave danger, and so maybe his concern really was-

Harry shook his head. What was he thinking? Tom was sadistic and cruel, he wasn't concerned, he was...trying to get Harry killed by worrying about his injury? Stalling for time by...letting Harry know he really might be in danger?

Well, Harry dying would be a ten-year-long inconvenience to Tom, so it made some sense that he really was just trying to help. But even then, Harry just wasn't sure of how much Tom could be trusted at this point, so he decided to go with his initial instinct.

<Just tell me where the exit is, Tom.>

Tom was silent for a moment, his magic simmering lightly in frustration. Which didn't really tell Harry much about Tom's intentions with the questions, but at least it made it clear that Tom had accepted that Harry wasn't going to tell him more about his injury.

<<I have to tell you about something else, first. I am not stalling, it is related to leaving the Chamber.>>

Harry raised an eyebrow. <Go on.>

<<When you opened the entrance through the girl’s bathroom, you said ‘open’ in front of the sink with the small snake engraving, and when you were in my memory, you heard me talking to the snake statues.>>

<Where are you going with this?>

<<I wasn’t speaking in English back then. I was speaking in Parseltongue. When you opened the entrance to the girl’s bathroom, you, too, were speaking in Parseltongue.>>

Harry blinked down at the diary. If this was a joke, it was a very strange one.

<I’m pretty sure I was speaking in English. I think I would notice if I was speaking in a different language, especially one I've never heard of.>

<<Parseltongue is not like normal Muggle languages. It is a magical language, originating from the language of snakes, and it not only doesn't have to be learned, it can't be learned, and the only known way to acquire it is to inherit it from an ancestor who is a Speaker. You didn't notice you were speaking Parseltongue because, while to other people Parseltongue sounds like hissing, to Speakers of Parseltongue it sounds indistinguishable from English. Which may sound strange, but the reason for this is because while its origin is the language of snakes, Parseltongue as a human language is a bloodline trait, and within Europe only Salazar Slytherin, who was a native English speaker, is known to have possessed the ability. As for why you've never heard of it, Slytherin's bloodline was thought to have died out even before I was born. I discovered I had the ability purely by accident, and only after a lot of research did I manage to find out its history, as well as its more distinguished traits.>> 

The amount of detail in Tom's explanation might have sounded strange coming from anyone else, but Harry knew exactly what Tom was doing. Harry's constant desire for more knowledge was a weakness that Tom had never had any trouble exploiting when it suited him, and he was clearly using it now to bribe Harry into believing him about Parseltongue when there wasn't really any way for him to provide any actual proof for its existence. Which, honestly, Harry would have felt that bribing was an extremely manipulative and completely underhanded way of getting anyone to believe anything, not to mention completely unnecessary in most situations and as such a wretched undermining of what logic and discussions sought to achieve...except that there really just wasn't any proof Tom could give Harry about any of this, so bribing him was all he could do.

...which meant that there wasn't anything wrong with getting bribed, right? Hadn't Draco said something similar, anyways? That Slytherin could talk to snakes?

<You know, I did wonder why most doors to reach this place just required me to say ‘open’ to access. It seemed very unsafe.>

<<You don’t really need to worry about complicated passwords when you know only your descendants can even speak the language, and even then, only some of them.>> 

Harry’s brow furrowed. <So am I a descendant of Slytherin, then?>

<<You must be. I don’t know of any other bloodlines not from Eastern Asia that can speak it. I hadn’t realized the Potter and Slytherin bloodlines were connected, but then again, ancestry is oftentimes kept hidden.>>

Maybe that would have been much more shocking to hear if Harry had ever really cared about his ancestry. Still, being a descendant of one of the Founders of Hogwarts did sound interesting, and maybe there were other things in the castle that could only be...

A memory suddenly popped up. <Is that why the snakes near the Common Room were calling us both Heir? Because if we can talk to them that means we must be the heirs to Slytherin? What are they?>

<<I’m not entirely sure what they are, but I believe they were created by Slytherin himself, specifically to help his Heirs.>> Tom's magic flicked at him with measured annoyance. <<But enough of that, you can ask me all the Parseltongue-adjacent questions you like when you're healed. We need to focus on getting you out of here right now.>>

Right. The whole literally dying thing.

<You're right, sorry. Alright, clearly I believe you about the Parseltongue, so what does that have to do with exiting the Chamber?>

<<The second bookshelf to the left of the entrance to this room is actually a secret door to a set of stairs. They lead to a concealed passage in the dungeons, near the Slytherin Dormitory. You need to say ‘open’ in Parseltongue in front of the bookshelf, and they will be revealed. The reason I had to explain Parseltongue to you is because you need to be able to use Parseltongue on command to open these stairs.>>

Harry frowned. <On command? What does that mean?>

<<Right now, you can’t tell Parseltongue apart from English at all. With enough focus and time, you’ll be able to tell them apart easily, but for now, you need to use an Image of a snake to trick your magic into thinking your are talking to an actual snake, which will make it switch your language to Parseltongue instinctively.>>

Harry’s eyes widened. <This is a magical language, correct? Which means that my magic must activate every time I use it?> If he could just figure out what his magic was doing when he spoke Parseltongue, Harry could learn to do this easily.

Tom, who didn't know about Harry's magic but did know that Harry often took the phrase 'with enough focus and time' to mean 'let's experiment so I can figure this out now', instantly understood what Harry wanted to do and his magic flicked at Harry with distinct annoyance. <<Yes, but it is not a simple thing, to control your magic like that. Using an Image is crucial in the beginning, as it solidifies the inherited magical pathways so that you can later learn to use it more naturally. You don't have the time or the magic control to try and learn how to use it directly right now, so don't even think about it.>>

Harry peered at Tom stubbornly for a moment before sighing. “He's right, obviously, I shouldn’t even be thinking about experimenting right now,” he muttered, giving his broken arm an annoyed look. “I’ll figure it out later.”

He turned sideways to look at the shelf next to him, taking in all the different books that surrounded him. He now had access to so many different, unique books, that would have so much interesting information that had been lost to the ages, and likely couldn’t be found anywhere else, and had been written by Salazar Slytherin himself, and…

Tom's magic snapped at him, irritated, clearly able to sense that Harry wasn't, in fact, looking for an Image. 

"I'm going, I'm going,” Harry shook his head. He's such a worrywart. “I can come back later. For now I need help, or I really am going to die.” His arm throbbed pointedly, as if to make a point. He gingerly stood up from the chair, as carefully as he could, and began to search.

Thankfully, it only took him about a minute to find something that looked like the Image Tom had been talking about; a small snake carving on the cover of one of the books, which seemed to radiate a tiny amount of power. Harry grabbed it off the shelf and brought it over to the bookshelf Tom had indicated, raising it to eye-level and focusing carefully on the tiny serpent.

§Open §

For a moment nothing happened, and Harry wondered if the Parseltongue hadn't worked. But then the bookshelf gave a small rumble, and proceeded to move sideways into the wall to reveal a dark entryway.

Adrenaline suddenly shot through Harry, images of the basilisk's form uncoiling in the darkness flashing through his mind.

Was he dead?

However, after a few moments of nothing moving or otherwise looking suspicious in the darkness, Harry forced himself to relax.

“Bloody hell, what is wrong with me? Why am I such an idiot?” he berated himself. “What if there had been another basilisk in there? Why did I just open it without checking anything first?”

Harry knew exactly why, was the thing.

Because even though Tom had literally just tried to kill him, once they'd reached their agreement and started talking normally again - about Slughorn and Slytherin and Parseltongue and even about how Harry was clearly just being irresponsible about his safety - Harry had kind of just...relaxed.

Harry wasn't angry with Tom anymore, they both understood what had happened, and they both clearly felt like they'd reached a satisfying resolution to that discussion. And with that out of the way, Harry had just...started treating Tom like normal within a few minutes. And by the time the topic of using Parseltongue on command to get out of the Chamber had come up, it had just felt like a completely normal experiment to Harry, one which he'd requested Tom's assistance with because of course he had, Tom was the one who'd told him about the subject in the first place.

And because he'd requested Tom's assistance, Harry had instinctively just assumed that there was nothing for him to worry about, because Tom was brilliant and he knew what he was talking about, and he was clearly quite worried about Harry's safety. So, obviously, any instructions he gave Harry for carrying out this experiment would be designed to, as far as Tom was able, keep Harry safe.

Which was such an inexplicably stupid assumption for Harry to be making, when trusting Tom with his safety had literally almost gotten him killed less than three hours ago, that Harry suddenly knew, without a doubt, that Tom had planned all of their conversation on Parseltongue so that it would lead to exactly that assumption being made on Harry's part.

Tom had used the discussion they'd been having as a way to calm Harry down, to distract him from what had happened, to remind him that Tom was someone who Harry could listen to and trust with his safety, just like he'd done before. Answering his questions easily and with additional facts just because he knew Harry liked additional facts, all the while reminding Harry to care for his health and even stopping him from starting a different experiment that both of them knew was ill-advised, but which both of them also knew Harry would still want to attempt, and so Tom had had to intervene by suggesting he simply do it at a different time, when it was more appropriate.

And if this had been the first time they'd had a discussion that went like this, then Harry probably wouldn't have thought much of it. But it wasn't. 

It wasn't even close to the first time this kind of thing had happened, but Harry had just never realized how much it had affected him. 

Harry had started asking Tom questions about his experiments - on pretty much any subject that didn't directly deal with spells - pretty much as soon as he'd realized how smart the other boy was, and Tom had always been delightfully helpful with them. Not so much that it felt like he was necessarily happy about it, but definitely enough that Harry had always felt like he could come back to him with questions, and he had, again and again and again.

But Tom hadn't only been helpful by answering Harry's direct questions, he'd also often stopped Harry from hurting himself, by giving him unprompted suggestions on safer ingredient or methodology alternatives when he knew Harry was attempting something particularly reckless, or in a few rare cases by simply telling Harry not to do something. Which, Harry had learned to listen to and follow all of Tom's suggestions very quickly, and he'd never once suffered for it.

And Harry hadn't realized it then, but it was clear now that those kinds of interactions had created in him some sort of...trust instinct, a subconscious belief of 'trusting Tom keeps me safe'.

Which, in hindsight, was so obviously just Tom acting in a very specific way so that he could emotionally manipulate Harry into trusting him, that Harry felt truly stupid for not having seen it for what it was. But now that he did see it, he...

...didn't really care.

He didn't?

He didn't, not really, because Tom might have been pretending to be someone he wasn't to get Harry to trust him, but he wasn't pretending to be brilliant. 

And Tom being brilliant was the main reason Harry wanted to keep him alive in the first place.

He wasn't pretending to know about Potions and Herbology and Runes and History and Arithmancy and Magical Creatures, and all of the other topics Tom just knew so much about. He wasn't pretending to understand new discoveries and what they implied for fifty other related topics. He wasn't pretending to understand Harry's experiments so quickly and so easily that he could not only pick out the flaws in them almost instantly, but also come up with alternatives that were better and safer for Harry, even when Harry hadn't even asked him to do that-

Not that he'll do that anymore, now that he doesn't have to pretend to care about me to get me to trust him.

The thought was strange, unexpected, and Harry frowned at the faint sense of hurt it brought with it, like a tiny wooden splinter stuck in between his ribs. 

Does that matter to me? Why on earth does that matter to me, he just tried to kill me. Besides, it's not like I didn't know he was lying to me from the beginning. We've both been using each other from the start, I knew that all along. 

Harry took in a deep breath, then released it slowly. 

It was stupid of me to trust him with my safety like that in the first place. I shouldn't have done that, no matter what kind of person he was. That was just me being an idiot, it's obvious he would take advantage of it.

The splinter was not dislodged.

"He's been lying to me all this time, and that's fine," he said out loud into the empty Library. "It's also fine to want to keep him alive in spite of that. He's brilliant, so he's useful no matter what kind of person he really is. Him being terrified of dying is real, I'm certain of that, and that's enough for us to work together. But I don't know him, and threatening his life isn't a guarantee of anything, and I have no idea if he's even genuinely on my side right now or if he just doesn't want to die. He's extremely dangerous and extremely manipulative; no matter what he says, I can't just trust him with my safety. But as long as I keep that in mind, it's all fine.”

That didn't dislodge the splinter either, but it settled something else inside him, and he had no idea what that was about, either.

Harry's head hurt. Maybe his injuries were just making him feel off, he should just...forget about all of this until he was healed.

Harry sighed, putting the book with the Image back into its shelf. He didn't want to bring anything with him that might tie back to the Chamber, not for now. "Illuminare," he said, and a second ball of light materialized above his head. Harry then guided it carefully through the dark opening that hopefully lead to stairs, still wary that something would just jump out at him even though with how much time had passed since he'd opened it he knew that it didn't really make sense to worry about that now.

But thankfully, all the light revealed was stairs.

Harry breathed out a sigh of relief, and turned back to the diary, where there were a few messages from Tom that the other had clearly chosen to leave up for Harry to see.

<<You had better be looking for an Image and not just reading a random book.>>

<<If you pass out from your injuries because you were reading instead of getting help, I’m taking your magic and killing you. I feel like this is a fair warning.>>

Harry couldn't stop himself from snorting at Tom's joke, then his expression froze as he realized that this was almost certainly not, in fact, a joke.

Well, at least Tom was picking up on his end of the deal by being honest about his plans, and he’d also guided Harry to the stairs without any tricks involved, so maybe there really was hope for their cooperation to succeed even with Tom constantly looking for ways to kill him.

<I’m fine, and no, I wasn't reading a book.>

<<Did you find an Image?>>

<Yes, I also found the stairs. I’ll talk to you again once I’m healed.>

<<Be careful, Harry.>> Tom's magic flickered. <<Don't pass out on the stairs.>>

The words sent a cold shiver running down Harry's spine, and it took him a few seconds to answer.

<I won't.>

Tom’s magic flickered again.

<<For your own sake, I hope you are right.>>

Harry didn't know how to respond to that, so he didn't.

 


 

The climb up the stairs to the dungeons was, in a word, awful. Harry had to stop and sit down every few minutes to catch his breath, and reassess the state of both his ankle and arm. The swelling was starting to become fairly intense and Harry could feel himself growing slightly dizzy, which probably meant that the infection was advancing. He was also just in really bad shape endurance-wise; he’d never done a lot of exercise, and he knew that even if he hadn’t been injured, it would still have taken him longer than was probably expected to reach the top of the stairs. He'd considered using his magic to 'lift' him up the stairs in some way, but Harry knew that his exhaustion and starts of a fever meant that there was a huge possibility that his power would simply falter in the process, and Harry had no desire to risk falling down multiple flights of stone stairs when he could just do things the significantly safer - if definitely more time consuming - Muggle way.

“I might have to start exercising,” he wheezed, as he sat down for the tenth time in as many minutes. He had two Illuminare floating above him, one lighting the way ahead and one providing light to the portion of the stairs he was currently on, because for some reason the stairs had no light of their own. They had been constructed as a spiral around a column, so Harry had no idea how far up he was at this point, or how much longer he still had to go. He called up Tempus; it was nearing 5am, which meant he’d been climbing these stairs for a little under an hour.

“Merlin. I didn’t realize it would be this far,” he huffed out, forcing himself to keep moving even as his muscles and his lungs ached with the effort and his vision swam for a moment. “Surely it can’t be much longer?”

Five minutes later, his Illuminare suddenly came up against a shadowy surface that its light couldn’t penetrate, and Harry knew he’d reached the exit.

“Oh, thank Merlin,” Harry breathed out a sigh of relief. “Get me out of here.”

He gingerly walked up to the wall and placed a hand up to it. It felt solid, so he expected it to be a door, but when he actually pushed against it solidly his arm suddenly simply passed right through. 

“Huh,” Harry murmured. "Fancy."

He hesitated for a moment, then decided that there was no way anyone was awake at this time on the day after Christmas, and just walked on through the wall.

He emerged in a corridor shrouded in shadows, and Harry took a moment to ascertain his location. He looked back to where he'd come through, and noticed that it looked exactly like a wall. Putting his hand against it revealed it to be solid, and even pushing against it didn't do anything.

I probably need to say 'open' in Parseltongue, but without an Image I can't use Parseltongue on command. He'd test that theory out later.

With that, he slowly walked out of the dark corridor and into a slightly more lit area that he quickly recognized. He once again glanced at the dark corridor, wondering if it, too, would fade into a wall, but no. The dark corridor was still there.

Well. At least now Harry knew that he'd have to be fairly wary of using this entrance, in case anyone noticed him disappearing down a very dark corridor. In any case, as Tom had said, he was near the Slytherin Dormitories, which also meant he was near Snape’s private quarters. Which was perfect, because that was exactly where Harry was planning to go for help. 

Snape knew he hated the infirmary with a passion, and Harry felt fairly sure he could convince the Potions Professor not to force him to go by telling him this was all due to his Latin magic, which meant that Harry would also avoid getting asked too many questions he couldn’t answer. He wasn’t going to tell Snape he’d gone to the Chamber, for a variety of reasons, but since Snape knew about his magic and his past it would be easy for Harry to claim that an experiment had just gone wrong. Technically, he wasn’t even lying.

But as Harry took a step into the familiar corridor he suddenly found himself having to stop and look around him for another moment. There was something odd about the empty, dark dungeon walls that he'd seen hundreds of times before, like a filter on top of his eyes that made everything look almost like...

It kind of feels like I'm still inside the Chamber. Except...I'm clearly not. It's very strange. Maybe it's the fever.

...that doesn't matter, I need to get help right now. Focus. Focus.

He walked as well as he could to Snape’s quarters, which only took him a few more minutes since he was already quite close by. Once there, he gently knocked on the door. He knew Snape had wards that would warn him of any students knocking on his door late at night, no matter how softly. There was no need to go about making a ruckus.

A few minutes later, the door slowly opened and Snape peered out looking distinctly disgruntled. “This better...”

“Please, I need help,” Harry quickly whispered.

Snape’s eyes widened at the urgency in his tone, and taking in Harry’s haggard appearance, he quickly ushered him in and closed the door behind him. And maybe it was the relief he felt at finally being somewhere safe, but Harry suddenly felt himself becoming lightheaded, and his vision became spotty and darkened around the edges.

"Be careful!" Snape exclaimed, grabbing onto his broken arm to help steady him as he suddenly tilted off balance, and Harry gave a choked-off scream, the numbing magic not being enough to cover the sudden influx of pain.

Snape instantly released him and Harry dropped onto his knees, clutching at his arm. Tears were already running down his cheeks, and he hurriedly upped the amount of magic keeping him numb.

Snape stared at his hand, covered in blood, and his face twisted in worry and alarm. “Harry, what happened? Where are you hurt?”

Harry gasped in a breath. “Experiment...went...wrong." He took in a slow breath this time. "Arm broken. Set it. Infected. Fever. Ankle. Hurts.” He knew he wasn't really making sense but he could barely speak properly. He took in another breath. Then another. Merlin that hurt.

Snape quickly sprung into action, moving to a separate room within his quarters and emerging a few seconds later with three potions. “Here.”

Harry slowly turned his head to look at Snape. His breathing was slowly calming down, and the tears had stopped. He still felt lightheaded, but his vision was back to normal, at least. “What are they?”

“Pain Relief Potion, Blood Replenishing Potion, and Fever Fighting Potion. I keep these on hand, as they are the most important in case of any emergency. They were designed not to react adversely to one another, and can be taken on an empty stomach. My personal recipes, much more efficient than any you can find elsewhere.” He rattled off the words almost like he wasn't even thinking of what he was saying, and hurriedly crouched next to Harry to begin taking off the stoppers to the Potions. "Here, let me help you take them."

For an instant Harry thought about telling Snape that he had the pain under control, but he quickly realized it would obviously be better that he wasn’t spending his magic on that sort of thing if a potion was available.

"It's fine, my other arm is fine, I can do it," he said after a few moments. Snape gave him a hard look, but then slowly put the potion back down. Harry grabbed the potions and, steeling himself for what he knew would be an awful taste, drunk them down as quickly as he could. He could feel them taking effect almost instantly, and he slowly released the numbing spell until it was gone. The Pain Relief Potion worked perfectly - even better than his magic, if he was being honest. It almost felt like nothing was wrong with him anymore, but he knew better of course. Even the headache had dulled.

Snape quickly cast an diagnosis spell as they waited for the potions to settle, and Harry watched his expression become stony as, within a few seconds, a few lines of information appeared. Harry couldn't read what they said, but Snape's expression told him enough.

"Is it...bad?" The question came out in a whisper.

Snape turned to him, and his expression softened the slightest bit as his eyes caught Harry's. "Nothing I can't fix, don't worry. We'll discuss it all later."

Harry felt himself relax instantly, even though the promise of 'later' did make warning bells go off in his head. 

Snape gave the diagnosis another look before turning back to Harry. "I’ll bring some salve to help with the inflammation so I can actually start cleaning out the infection. Let me help get you onto the couch.”

Harry waved him off. “No worries, I can get myself up.” He’d just climbed up more than a dozen flights of stairs, he could move himself two feet onto Snape’s couch.

Snape's expression went stony again for a moment, but he acquiesced to Harry's request and went back to the other room to get the salve. Harry gingerly pushed himself up, extremely used to the motion at this point from all the stairs, and released a sigh as he settled onto the couch just as Snape reemerged with a small pot and a box filled with medical supplies.

“I’m going to need to remove the clothes on your upper body right now so I can reach your arm,” Snape said matter-of-factly, approaching the table and setting down the items. "The rest can wait until later."

“Sounds good. Can you do that with magic, or do you need me to actually take them off normally? Because I’d rather you just cut them off if that’s the case, I really don’t want to move my arm too much right now.”

“Of course there’s a specific spell for that," Snape replied absently, as he pulled out a few bandages and cotton swabs from the box. "It's one of the first spells taught to all Apprentice Healers.”

“Oh. But why doesn’t everyone use it, then?” Harry asked with some surprise.

“It can easily damage the clothes if the spell isn’t used with extreme care, so it’s only used when the state of the clothes isn't...a priority." He gave Harry's blood-soaked, ragged sleeve a pointed look.

“Fair enough,” Harry said with a yawn, his exhaustion suddenly catching up to him now that he felt like he was fully out of danger, and safe in Snape’s care. “So do you need me awake for this or can I take a nap? I haven’t slept yet at..at all.” Another yawn interrupted him mid-sentence.

Snape gripped at the bridge of his nose with with a pained look on his face. “This is why you get injured, you brat. You...” He sighed, looking defeated. “I’ll save the lecture for another time, but don’t think I won’t keep this in mind in the future. You have a lot of explaining to do.”

“Yes, sir, thank you, sir,” Harry said with a small, lopsided grin, feeling himself rapidly dropping into unconsciousness. He closed his eyes. 

I hope Tom doesn't kill me in my sleep. That would be really hard to explain, he thought drowsily, but before the words could really register with his brain he was already fast asleep.

 


 

The feeling of waking up to the light of the rising sun was...interesting. 

Or rather the setting sun, Harry soon realized, since, as it turned out, he'd been woken up at around 4pm by Snape so he could have something to eat for the day.

He'd slept for about eleven hours, which was significantly more than what Harry usually got even when he did make a concerted effort to sleep properly, but it was the fading rays of light coming from the spelled window that really made him feel like he was finally awake. There was something about seeing the sun - even if it was just the sunset, and it was just through a spell - that seemed to chase away the last vestiges of Harry's fear that he was somehow still stuck in the Chamber. It felt like undeniable proof that he had, after all of that, escaped. Survived.

But the peace didn't last long.

Harry had had to explain what had happened to Snape, at least to some extent, and his excuse of an 'experiment gone wrong' had...fallen flat, to say the least. Harry had been in extremely bad shape when he'd come in and his excuse was barely believable at best, especially with how far the infection had developed by that point, and Snape had been extremely angry with Harry when he'd finally admitted it had taken him almost four hours to reach Snape from the time of the injury. Harry had then tried to excuse himself by saying that he'd gotten knocked out from an 'explosion', but Snape had waved him off, frustrated, and made him swear to be more careful in the future.

Snape obviously knew he was lying, was the thing, and it made Harry feel fairly awful, especially when even in his anger Snape didn't demand answers and instead made sure to treat Harry with as much care as he was capable of. He finally fully understood Draco's issue with 'disappointing his parents', and why the blond tried so hard to avoid doing it.

Snape didn't even try to convince him to go to the Infirmary once, clearly already aware that Harry would have refused to go unless there was no other choice. But, thankfully, Harry's injuries were actually treated fairly easily with potions Snape already had on hand - he brewed almost all of the potions used in the Infirmary himself, and he was also partially trained as a Healer. He even had a balm that would prevent Harry's wound from scarring over as it healed, which Harry was honestly quite thankful for; he really hadn't wanted to have to explain that kind of wound to anyone.

The one specific thing Snape had lectured him about was his use of Reformo. After Harry had explained what he'd done, Snape had made it clear to him that although Harry’s bones had been aligned properly, he would still not recommend ever using such a spell again, seeing as there were too many things that could go wrong when abruptly forcing two bones to rejoin like Harry had. A blocked vein could form a thrombus that could travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which could easily kill Harry within a few hours. That same thrombus might instead travel to the brain, and cause a brain embolism which could kill Harry within five minute. A torn artery at an area proximal to the heart could lead to massive internal bleeding, which could easily kill Harry within ten minutes. 

And those were only a few examples. 

In summary, he absolutely could have died within the four hours that it took him to get out of the Chamber, and Harry was an idiot for not seeking help sooner.

Harry agreed with most of Snape’s assessment, but the fact of the matter was that Harry hadn't really had a choice in most of the situation. He still stood by his decision to use Reformo, for one. He’d known, of course, that things could go terribly wrong when setting his arm with magic, and he still had no intention of ever putting himself in the position of having to do something like that again, but it wasn't like walking around with his bone sticking out of his arm would have been better. And as far as waiting four hours to seek help, Harry hadn't really been able to get out of the Chamber before then, so it really wasn't his fault. It certainly wasn't like Harry had stalled himself on purpose.

...maybe a little bit near the end, when even Tom was urging him to get out. But that was ten minutes at best.

Regardless, he couldn't really explain any of that to Snape, who, although aware Harry was deceiving him, clearly wasn't aware of exactly how much Harry was deceiving him, and Harry intended to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. In any case, he had little intention of ever placing himself in a position where he would be forced to use Reformo again, not to mention have to wait four hours to get help after that.

But hey, on the bright side, if he was ever forced to do this kind of thing again, now he had some experience!

...he didn’t mention that to Snape, either. Harry didn't think his Professor would appreciate the thought quite as much as Harry did.

Snape had also fixed his glasses with a convenient little spell called Oculo Reparo. As a rule, Harry only ever used magic on the frames of his glasses, never the lens, since getting the curvature of the glass just right was completely beyond his ability to finesse. It was one thing to be able to think about aligning cells, quite another to understand exactly how much thickness each individual micrometer of a pane of glass would help correct the curvature of his congenital cornea. Harry didn't even know what his actual measurements were.

On the other hand, Snape had told him that there was a magical procedure that could give him near-perfect vision. It was, however, very difficult to get an appointment with the single Medi-Witch in England who could perform it, as she’d created the spell herself almost sixty years ago and hadn’t succeeded in teaching anyone else how to perform it properly. As such, she was constantly inundated with requests from all over Europe, and even if Harry was willing to pay significantly more than the standard price, he’d still likely have to wait for at least a few months before she could see him.

That being said, Harry certainly didn’t mind paying a small fortune to get his eyesight fixed. This entire debacle with the basilisk had really made him feel like he needed to take every advantage he could get in a fight, and if he ended up dying because of his glasses breaking at an inopportune time he would be quite displeased.

So, he got Snape to send off an owl to the Medi-Witch asking if she would accept an appointment at any point during his Summer Break, making it clear he was prepared to pay a frankly ridiculous sum for the expedited process. He had hundreds of thousands of galleons; he might as well use them in something that would last him his whole life.

He’d stayed in Snape’s quarters for the three days it took for most of his injuries to heal, the Potions Master needing to keep a close watch on his healing progress in case he suffered from any sudden complications, either from the infection or from the spell he'd used. Snape had conjured up a fairly nice cot that he set up in the corner of his living room, separated by a curtain for some privacy, and Harry had let himself be looked after for a few days. None of his friends were in the castle so it wasn't like anyone from his House would really notice he was gone, anyways.

But as it turned out, Harry got dreadfully bored almost instantly.

Snape didn't really let him do anything, insisting he try to sleep as much as possible, but Harry had never been good at sleeping for long periods of time and he couldn't really force himself to, even knowing it would help. He tried to talk to Snape about experiments, but the first idea he'd run by his Professor had made Snape go pale and lecture him for twenty minutes about being 'reckless and endangering himself', so Harry had changed the subject and decided never to bring it up again.

That being said, Harry knew Snape was feeling overly stressed because of Harry's injuries, and probably wouldn't have reacted quite that badly in different circumstances, but it made part of Harry wish he could be talking to Tom instead because he wouldn't have reacted badly, and would almost certainly have just given Harry suggestions on what to do to make the whole experience safer...

He spent the next two days trying to ingrain into himself the idea that Tom couldn't be trusted with his safety, and trying not to lose his mind from sheer boredom. His success at either task was questionable at best.

On the morning of the fourth day Harry finally convinced Snape to discharge him from the make-shift infirmary, and Snape agreed after making him promise that he would not, under any circumstances, engage in any strenuous physical activity or perform any experiments for at least a month, and to limit his magic usage as much as possible for at least a week. He was also to limit his ventures out of his room to meal-times and, if absolutely necessary, the Library, until the other students came back for the new school year. He was also given a strict schedule for the next week for potions to fully get rid of the infection, just in case, as well as a few nutrition potions that would help accelerate the healing he still had to do for his injuries.

Harry was also made to promise that he would immediately come back if he started feeling ill or if his injuries began flaring up again in any way. Harry had tried his best to reassure Snape that he was fine, and that that wouldn't be necessary, but Snape had just looked so obviously genuinely worried for his safety that eventually Harry had relented.

He'd taken his now-fixed and washed clothes back from Snape - who had Transfigured a few sets of clean clothes for him during his stay - and then Harry was on his way back to the Slytherin Dormitories.

He was halfway there when he suddenly registered the weight of the diary in his pocket, and Harry's blood ran cold. 

Snape saw the diary. 

There was no way he hadn't. Harry had passed out that first day, and had awoken already in clean clothes that were different from those he'd been wearing the night before. Not only that, but the robe that the diary had been in had been returned to him washed and mended, which meant that there was no way Snape hadn't noticed that there was something in his pocket.

And Harry had been so focused on trying to figure out an excuse for why he was even injured in the first place, been so focused on convincing himself not to want to talk to Tom, been so focused on the fact that he was just losing his mind because he had nothing to do and he couldn't even talk to Snape about experiments or ideas because then Snape would get worried, that the fact that the diary was in his robe pocket had just...completely slipped his mind.

I should have just left it in the Chamber. I could have easily gone back and gotten it afterwards, after I was healed.

But Harry knew he hadn't really been thinking clearly at the time, and the idea of leaving the diary behind simply hadn't occurred to him.

Why didn't Snape say anything? Surely he would have confronted me about having an extremely Dark object in a situation like...

Harry's eyes widened. 

He doesn't know.

He can't see magic, he has no idea.

He just thinks it's a normal diary. Or a normal notebook, even, which would make it pretty easy to explain why I would have it at the time that an experiment went wrong.

Snape had probably just thought Harry was carrying around a normal notebook, because he'd wanted to use it to make notes on his 'experiment'. It really was kind of an obvious assumption, and even if Snape had looked inside and seen it blank, the fact that Harry had been gravely injured would make it easy to assume that he'd simply...not gotten a chance to actually make any notes.

If he'd even bothered to care that much about a random book in Harry's possession. No one had ever questioned Ginny when she'd had it either, that was the whole point of having the soul container be a plain, black diary in the first place, that it would completely fly under the radar for anyone who didn't already know what it was. There was no reason for Snape to care about it, it was just a normal diary!

So really, it was fine. It was all fine. Snape didn't suspect anything, it was all fine! There was nothing to be worried about! Everything was under control!

Harry once again began making his way back to his Dorm, now at a much more subdued pace.

I'm alive. I'm healed. I'm fine.

Everything is...under control.