– Originally written for Sweek’s Harry Potter fanfiction competition. –
I know we’ve talked about this before but I really don’t think this is a good idea.
Apparently, he was here! Right here, looking for Harry Potter in his own common room! We had to spend the night in The Great Hall.
Dumbledore took care of sleeping bags and security so we could sleep but it’s not like anyone could even if they’ve tried.
The Fat Lady is miserable, they could not convince her to go back to her post. They had to replace her with some odd knight portrait.
Aaron is actively pinching me as I’m writing this so I’m cutting it short.
Please, do reconsider coming here. It was a bad idea to begin with and now… now I really do not think I should even take part in this.
Edith read through the letter once again. She had already scribbled her response and sent Aaron back to Hogwarts. Having to use their family owl was frustrating. She always wanted a pet owl, all for herself so she can send it wherever she wants, whenever she wants. Instead, she was stuck sharing the bird with other members of the Picard family.
Thankfully, most of the letters her mother was receiving were not carried by the great horned owl. Edith saw many different beautiful birds throughout her childhood. She knew all of the owl types by name; she’s seen pigeons, eagles, phoenixes, and even colorful tropical birds she’s never heard of before.
“They’re called Zebra Finchers, my dear”, her mother’s voice echoed in her skull. Rhea Picard’s rise to fame required extensive knowledge and care of every magical creature there was. From simple bugs, mice and rabbits to huge dragons and chimearas. Years of studies led Edith’s mother to have a knack for education herself. At the age of 25, she had already published three books. Describing the wilderness and how she’s been interacting with a herd of centaurs, how she learned their mysteries and decided, very respectfully and wisely, to keep them as secrets, quickly became a bestseller in its time. Same with her guidebook on how to keep Erklings from capturing children.
“I’ve used transmutated figures made out of hay. They looked like human children, only a bit more yellow!”
No wonder she’s gained quite a fanbase. She had never even thought of marriage before meeting with a very peculiar blue-eyed man. This man – who later became Edith’s father – was a Muggle. He approached Rhea at work as she was documenting the hunting rituals of Jarveys.
“So that’s what’s happened to all of the rats in our garden”, he said and just a few months later, the maiden last name of Bouvier vanished from all of the book covers, the marriage was sealed and Rhea Picard was pregnant with their firstborn.
Now, seventeen years after their initial meeting, Mrs. Picard spent most of her time in what she called her “home office” where she not only took responsibilities as a magizoologist but also experimented with creatures as her pasttime trying to unveil the true range of their magical capabilities. The comfort and well-being of animals was her top priority. There was never any harm done. Instead, more and more took shelter in their family house as Mrs. Picard simply could not decline it to any of the creatures which came looking for it.
Edith was the oldest of the Picard children. Her siblings – Anemone and Deryn were 10 and 6 respectively. Just as she used to, before heading to a wizarding school, they spend most of their time helping their mother and embracing the world of magical creatures. A craft even Mr. Picard ended up being fond of despite being a Muggle.
“I made my non-magical husband groom a Kelpie once!” Mrs. Picard presented to the whole world in an interview for The New York Ghost. Their love of animals was a wide topic of another of her bestselling books and thus, the entire family was in the spotlight.
Edith was glad she did not have to spend her whole days at mother’s “home office”. She was tired of doors opening and closing as people were coming over either with their pets or just for simple advice.
“My gecko has stopped eating even though I keep giving it its favorite kind of glowing flies!”, “My bullfrog can’t stop jumping up and down, I think someone has cursed it!”
The girl was tired of it and was glad when she finally received an owl carrying a slightly yellowed letter with her name and address written on the envelope.
But the letter wasn’t from Hogwarts – the wizarding school she was dreaming of going to. Instead, it came from an international facility which focused on teaching obscure magical languages.
“My grandfather’s alma mater!” her mother said once she expressed her disappointment. “I went to Beuxbatons ’cause your grandma was staying in Vouvant, France, at the time. There was just the two of us. Going there was such a privilege!”
There wasn’t much that could be done. Edith ended up at the Euro-Glyph, still dreaming of Hogwarts. To make matters even worse, one of her colleagues knew witches who went there. Thus, Aaron took a trip and became a link between the girl and her dream. A dream which now was to become a reality.
A quiet poof could be heard that morning just next to The Hog’s Head Inn, on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. A tall seventeen-year-old girl sporting bottle-green robes suddenly appeared as if out of thin air. She spun a bit out of control yet quickly regained balance. Her gray eyes glanced at the environment. She was taking in the moment.
For years, Edith has learned oh so much about this place. The only place in Britain with no Muggles in sight. As a half-blood, this was a completely new experience. Her father was always so keen on observing how magic was performed, Edith felt almost obliged to do things his way instead. As of now she was lost in a sea of snow-buried cottages and trees, so she quickly drew her wand and whispered “Point Me”. She was to head to the post office to pick up a package and then to Honeydukes where, as Amy told her, a secret entrance to Hogwarts was located.
“I’ve seen the Weasleys vanishing from the third floor too many times to know something’s off”, Amy has claimed. “I was never able to make out what they were saying. A spell, I think. But they always came back with a stash of sweets. Once I finally visited Hogsmeade for myself, I immediately recognized the sweets’ origin being Honeydukes, so I’m pretty positive there’s something hidden there.”
Edith’s pen pal spoke a lot of Hogwarts, its history and secrets. For starters, because that’s what Edith could read about for hours. Another reason being Amy belonged to the Ravenclaw House and was heavily interested in everything regarding the history of the wizarding world. The castle itself was known for its secrets and thus, it became a point of interest. A one which Edith was now glad of.
She walked past a young couple just coming out of Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop. They still smelled of freshly brewed tea with a dash of cinnamon and their entire attention was focused on each other until the girl passed them by. They glanced at her clothes with a curious look on their faces but said nothing. “I ain’t that weird, am I?” she thought.
For years she’s been a subject of jokes in her school environment. She assumed it was mostly due to her mother’s success and simple jealousy. Peers mostly made fun of her caramel-brown bowlcut which made her look more like a young teenage boy. They called her “Ed”. This was still better than her French grandmother squealing “Eddi” every time they were in the same room. Her full name “Edith” wasn’t great either but at least it was better than any of the variations.
A slew of owls interrupted her thoughts. They flew North and just as sudden was the noise of hundreds of wings flapping in the air, the town was flooded in silence once again. This had to mean Edith was nearby. She recasted the spell and followed the flock.
Indeed, she was right. The birds unknowingly led her to the post office. Edith pushed the red front door and entered the building where she immediately witnessed a middle-aged witch dealing with the arrivals.
“No, no, you sit here, you will be flying to Frankfurt”, she muttered to a Northern Saw-whet Owl.
“Rudolf, stop! I’ll be giving you treats momentarily! Don’t shuffle the mail around! Rudo–”
A Madagascar red owl spread its wings in frustration pushing letters off the color-coded shelves. Edith, wand in hand already, only had to wave it.
The letters slowed down until they completely stopped in the air. Rudolf screeched, took off and sat at the highest point in the post office, away from all of his bird colleagues. The middle-aged woman turned on her heel and almost tripped.
“Who–?… A customer!”, she exclaimed. Edith wasn’t sure who was more confused – the witch or herself.
“Hi. I came for a package.”
“Oh, did it just arrive? Is it one of those?”, the office worker asked pointing at the array of letters in midair. “I wasn’t able to catalog them yet, not to mention feed all of our brave owls who brought them.”
“No, no. It’s a bigger package. From Hogwarts.”
The eyes were drilling holes in Edith’s skull. The woman did not look amused.
“Hogwarts? Yes, my dear.”
Her short legs hurried to the back of the building leaving the girl alone with a flock of owls. As if on command, they turned their heads to face Edith and one of the young barn owls even flew right past her attempting to grab a piece of her clothing.
“Get off!” she yelled not kind to the idea of meeting with the bird’s sharp beak. “It’s enough that I’m my mother’s daughter. I need no more animal interaction.”
“Miss Bouvier, am I right?”
Edith knew using the last name “Picard” would raise suspicions. The witch came back into her view carrying a hefty package. The paper appeared to be stamped more times than probably necessary as the ink turned into colorful blobs instead of readable text. A Spellotape originally used to seal the wrapping was ripped and Edith could only read “NOT ACTUALLY DANGEROUS” handwritten by someone with a shaky hand.
“What’s happened to it?” she asked grabbing the package.
“Increased security measures. They monitor everything coming out of Hogwarts. Secrecy Sensors and such. Not to mention the dementors at the front gates of the castle! They wander off sometimes and when they come around…”
“I see”, Edith cut her short. “Well… I appreciate you fetching it for me.”
“I wish they’d just catch him already. It’s tiring to all of us… RUDOLF, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
The Madagascar red owl left its post all of a sudden and started descending at a high speed towards the two witches. Accompanying it was a loud screeching hiss, drowning out every other sound. Edith dodged the bird at the last second. The office worker snatched the bird from midair and pushed it close to her chest.
“Someone’s not getting their food today!”
Exiting the building in a hurry, Edith tucked the package under her robes and used the compass spell once again. Honeydukes was her next stop and then it was finally off to Hogwarts. She was a bit uncomfortable carrying something underneath her clothes, especially since the snow started being more of a nuisance rather than a pretty sight.
A couple of minutes later, she arrived. The door welcomed her with a bold “BY THE ORDER OF MINISTRY OF MAGIC” note stating dementors will be patrolling the streets after sundown. Edith wasn’t afraid of them. They were supposed to be a security measure and yet they were so easily repelled with the use of a spell. A tough spell, she had to admit that, but still merely a spell.
Doors opened and two young boys exited the store with their hands dirty of chocolate and teeth still glued by toffees. She held the door open so they didn’t cover anything else in sweets anymore. One of the boys attempted to thank her but it came up as “Phanguu-” instead. Edith nodded and slipped into the building.
The shop was probably loads more impressive before Christmas. There were still multiple different types of sweets arranged on the walls but it was clear that the production hasn’t yet started at its fullest after the holiday season. A chocolate reindeer made a terrifying noise and his cherry nose blinked a few times. The magic was wearing out and it reminded the girl of those primitive Muggle dolls as they were running out of battery power.
“What can I get you?” a bald man asked seeing her wandering round the shop. “I have unfortunate news about the Pepper Imps. They all froze due to cold temperatures and the company of our cold-bringing… customers.”
Edith was sure none of the dementors ever came here to make a purchase. But since she was here already and knew she might be crossing some paths with the rather terrifying creatures, it would be wise to grab a few chocolate-coated candies.
“And a Frog as a bonus!” added the salesman. “They were running rampant, most of them were sold out for Christmas and the few we have left are getting bored on their own. Feel free to look around a bit more. If something you want is not in stock, we can order it for you! The owl is in price!”
The girl wasn’t interested in getting more sweets at the moment but she appreciated the invitation to explore. She forced a smile, took the paper bag and hid behind a rather large rendition of a Christmas tree made out of liquorice. A batch of customers just entered the store gathering all of the bald man’s attention. Now she only had to find the cellar.
The paper bag shuffled as if something was moving inside. A few seconds later, something else started shifting. This time somewhere in her robes. She heard the salesman loudly advertising some of his favorite products to the people who’d just arrived. His voice drowned the sounds of the bag ripping apart as the Chocolate Frog violently escaped its packaging and began hopping away.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Edith exclaimed grabbing her candies off the floor, shoving them in her pocket and rushing after the Frog. The confection made its way across the store, turned right next to a box of Exploding bonbons and was gone out of sight. Following it turned out to be a great idea as it knew exactly where the rest of its family was stashed, therefore revealing the path to the cellar.
The chocolate family was glad to see its member back and not eaten by the girl who’d just entered the room with it. Edith immediately stood behind a set of crates, somehow tall enough to hide her. The hidden entrance to the castle was supposed to be located here somewhere. She looked around but saw only the wooden floor and a maze of boxes. The Frogs were hopping around happily, croaking to each other. The smallest was playing with a dusty mint. Even though mostly empty, the cellar was full of life and Edith once again felt shuffling in her robes.
Confused, she patted her clothing. Something tiny had escaped from underneath making the girl drop the package she grabbed from the post office. In mere seconds, the Frog child was crushed by something vividly orange in color. Bits of chocolate sprayed on the floor and the mint landed in the corner.
“Toffi!” Edith almost yelled. The orange creature grew three sizes and meowed causing the rest of the sweet family to run away.
“How’d you–? You jumped into my robes as I was Apparating, didn’t you?”
The cat stood proudly before her.
“What am I supposed to do with you now? At least turn yourself small and stay quiet”, she said angrily.
Toffi was one of the youngest out of their pet cats and the most peculiar one. His mother was Rhea Picard’s favorite subject of experiments. Multiple spells unveiled many magical abilities Mrs. Picard had no idea about. Just a few months earlier, the cat gave birth to four small kittens, all of them having a share of their mom’s skills. The orange one – Toffi – was able to change sizes at will. Edith was sure he was sleeping peacefully on her bed at the Euro-Glyph but apparently he wanted to have an adventure as well. Always by her side, since the time he was gifted to her on her seventeenth birthday.
“An owl would at least be useful. This is just more trouble”, she remembered saying. Of course, her mom’s opinion was different.
“Your classmates will be so thrilled! I’ve never seen such a smart little kitten.”
This time, this small little kitten has caused quite a mess and a sea of problems. Or so she thought. The remains of the Chocolate Frog fell in between the wooden boards except for one specific spot. Edith approached it carefully. There was definitely something underneath. But how to lift boards placed so closely together it’s hard to even distinguish the trap door from the rest of the floor? Toffi seemed to read his owner’s thoughts.
A visible grimace was seen on his face as he shrunk to the size of an ant.
“Whatcha doing?” Edith asked but the kitten was already gone. There was a loud ‘thump’ and the trap door flung open revealing a long staircase. The girl wasn’t keen on waiting any longer, in fear someone might come investigate the odd noises. She hopped under the floor boards and closed the trap door behind her.
Once closed, the staircase was lost in complete darkness. Grasping the Hazel wood wand in her fingers, Edith said “Lumos” and the tip started glowing. Looking down, there was nothing but blackness and two golden dots – Toffi’s eyes reflecting the bright light. The girl descended a few steps. Toffi returned to his original size, again proud of his accomplishment.
After a couple of minutes, the situation barely changed. Now, the darkness was surrounding them. But it had to end eventually. They cautiously went down more and more stairs, Toffi hopping from one to another. Edith stopped counting them once she hit a hundred. There was nothing but silence and the sounds of their feet for what seemed to be hours. Edith began to grow worried. Then, as if to calm her distress, she heard another pair of footsteps. And another. They were getting closer.
The blackness turned to gray as they approached what seemed to be a stone wall. The girl looked around but it was the noise which tipped her off. It sounded as if it was coming out of a tunnel. She lifted her head. It wasn’t a wall. It was a giant slide. How to cross a giant slide?…
Edith carefully placed her wand on the floor, the tip illuminating the nearby environment. She took off her bottle green robe and opened the package received in the post office. A soft material was almost as black as the darkness. Madam Malkin’s plain work robes and a silk blue and brown tie wrapped around a neatly rolled letter.
As promised, I am providing you with my old Hogwarts uniform. I don’t know how well it will fit you, you’re three years older than me, after all. I don’t think it is wise for us to meet inside the castle. If you still want to do this, good luck. You’ll need it.
I hope this won’t get me in any trouble.
Edith crumpled the parchment paper in her hand and put on the uniform on top of the gray sweater and dark-colored jeans. As Amy mentioned, it wasn’t the greatest fit. The robes were obviously too short and the high boots she was wearing, now coated in melting snow, were plainly visible. Still, she had to deal with it. At least she hoped she won’t have to blend in much. It was the holiday break after all, so the corridors should be mostly empty. She had the disguise and was underneath the castle. The only problem now was right in front of her.
Toffi was fairly quiet until she wore the uniform. The kitten began to dance around her, eager to smell the new clothing which gave Edith an idea.
“Want to help me?” she asked. Toffi meowed in response.
The girl placed her old bottle-green robes on the ground, lifted and extinguished the wand and pointed it at the clothes… or so she believed standing in complete blackness.
The robes tore apart leaving only strips of fabric. Chocolate candies fell out of the pocket and spread across the cold floor. Edith picked them up before Toffi could even start using them as toys and began tying the strips together to create a long rope.
“If you grow large, you’ll be able to support me”, she said to the cat. His ears were pointing directly at her. “Hopefully there’s something to hang onto up there.”
Toffi stood proudly awaiting his role in the endeavor. Edith tied the rope around his belly and stood up to cast another spell: “Wingardium Leviosa!”
The orange cat began to rise and grow at the same time. The young witch sent him away as high as she could to still be able to grab onto the other end of the fabric.
“Hang on!” she yelled and hopped on the rope. The climb wasn’t easy. Her hands kept slipping off the rope and her height made it especially difficult to fit through the passageway. She also didn’t want to harm the pet in any way as Toffi simply wedged himself between the walls. There was nothing above but a hard ceiling.
“C’mon, this has to open up somehow”, she said to herself attempting to point the wand at it and still keep her balance on the rope. “Alohomora! Aberto! Dissendium!”
The last one worked. Something moved and an opening began to take shape. Thankfully, there was no-one above to take notice. Edith recasted the Levitation Charm and both of them ascended like an oversized fluffy balloon.
Edith jumped off the rope and onto the floor. Toffi returned to his original size and fell right into his owner’s arms and the passageway closed off as the obstruction, which ended up being a statue, retreated to its position. They were finally in Hogwarts but it was just the beginning of their adventure as the ending goal was the mythical Chamber of Secrets.
The idea came up immediately once she heard the essay topic they were tasked with before the holiday break. They were to choose one of the highly dangerous creatures classified as XXXXX by the Ministry of Magic and provide as much information on them as possible, including specific reasons and examples as to why they cannot be domesticated even by the most skilled of magizoologists. A year ago, one of those beasts was found inside of the Hogwarts castle by The Boy Who Lived himself. Amy spoke of the incident in as much detail as they were given, implementing the entire history of the Chamber into her letters.
Edith was obsessed for days, daydreaming about it and how huge it has to be to be the home of the King of Serpents. And to think that for ages, no-one knew nothing about it! They dismissed it as a mere legend even though historical events clearly pointed at it actually existing somewhere underneath the castle walls. All of this mystery was even more exciting. Thinking about it meant immediate butterflies in Edith’s stomach. To document a Basilisk in the best possible way, she had to encounter it and this one was a guarantee, albeit most likely already dead.
Echoing Amy’s words in her head, she remembered she’s currently on the third floor and the Chamber was presumed to be located at the second. She tucked her wand into her pocket, next to the chocolate candies and held her hand up so Toffi can shrink and be placed there as well.
“You better behave. We’ve gotten this far. Would be a shame to cause trouble now.”
She heard footsteps so instead of looking around, she chose a direction at random, acting as if she knew exactly where she was going. Faking confidence, she walked down the corridor. The sun was barging in through the magnificent windows, covering the stone walls with much needed light. The passage seemed to be almost as long as the staircase but it was nothing compared to the place she ended up at. Hundreds of moving portraits and even more moving steps.
“The famous Grand Staircase. You know, it was Rowena Ravenclaw’s idea to make them move around! At times like these, I’m so proud of being a Ravenclaw!”
A task as simple as going down a floor seemed almost impossible for Edith. A beautiful pale blonde haired lady from one of the portraits must have sensed her confusion. Her voice, soft and charming, sang a question:
“Do you require assistance, young one?”
Edith jumped slightly, not expecting anyone to approach her. “I– err… would like to get to the second floor.”
“This way, dearie.”
The woman disappeared from her frames and instead, appeared on a corn field a few pictures to the right. Edith placed her feet at the first out of the set of steps in front of her awaiting them to relocate.
“They won’t move. You can follow me”, she heard the song. The lady now stood next to a very short plump man who did not seem to enjoy her company.
“Can a tired old minister not even be able to read his book in peace?”
Edith took more steps forward, turned to the right and entered another set of stairs. These did not want to hold in place. They started moving as soon as her feet stood on top. The girl grabbed the rails hastily trying to keep her balance.
“No, no, no. This isn’t the way to go!”
The lady rushed to a different portrait waking up all kinds of wizards and witches. A cow was heard mooing somewhere to the left and Toffi was knocking at the sides of Edith’s pocket.
The girl looked around for her guide but instead of the beautiful pale lady she’s seen before, she was now staring at a bird-like creature with feathered wings sticking out of the frames into neighboring pictures. The staircase suddenly stopped and, as if ashamed of its actions, began slowly moving backwards. It descended just enough to grant Edith access to a corridor below the one she entered the structure.
“Second floor, dearie”, the voice sang. The woman was back to her beautiful self, floating slightly behind a coffee table where an elder witch was peeling an orange. Not waiting for an answer, she took off leaving Edith and Toffi in front of the entrance to the corridor.
They entered the passage, the girl patting her clothes to see if nothing has happened to her pet cat. Only once she absolutely made sure everything is in place, she continued her journey. This corridor wasn’t as empty as the last and she was threading cautiously. Voices at the end suggested that there were at least three people talking. One of them, definitely older than the rest. Edith wasn’t keen on meeting with a professor although she knew much about them. His voice sounded tired and yet passionate at the same time. The students seemed to enjoy listening to his tales. Their reactions were filled with awe.
“Can we see the grindylow tank again?”
The other voice was high and squeaking, as if belonging to a first- or a second-year. Edith has immediately thought of grindylows her mother used to breed in the nearby lake. “Horrible creatures”, she said to herself in her mind. Thankfully, they were useful to her, maybe for the first and only time as they were a great excuse for the students and the teacher to vanish from the corridor and leave the way open.
Edith was almost hugging the suits of armor to be able to hide in case someone would suddenly enter the passage. Toffi seemed to have noticed the pressure so he stayed quiet, rumbling between the chocolate candies. Moving through the second floor corridor, Edith was imagining the bloodied letters announcing the opening of the Chamber of Secrets.
“Chicken blood”, she recalled. “Of course. Basilisks are afraid of roosters.”
She took steps in haste but hers were not the only ones she could make note of. Someone, or something, as she heard more than two feet at the time, was following her and she wasn’t pleased by the thought of having an encounter with whatever it might be. Finally, she turned a corner and saw two windows and a few torches giving out the faintest of light despite the fire dancing in the air. There was something off-putting about it and as the young witch looked to the sides, she noticed a slightly opened door leading to what looked like a very dirty bathroom.
Edith pushed it open, slipped into the room and quickly closed the door behind her. The stench was out of this world. So much in fact that Toffi has decided to investigate. He hopped out of the pockets, rattling the candies and growing to his normal size mid-jump. The duo began exploring.
Edith’s first thought was that she would never ever use this bathroom even if she explicitly had to. It seems like no-one has been maintaining it for years if not more and she would never expect something like this to happen at a place like the famous School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The cubicles were cracked, the floor was flooded. Edith’s feet stood in inches of murky water and she was glad she’s decided to wear high boots today.
Toffi was jumping around the sinks instead. He was softly touching the fractures in the mirrors with his tiny paws making the shards break off completely and fall on the stained floor below. As more and more of them were dropping, Edith turned back to see if the cat hasn’t harmed himself in any way. She noticed the candle flames shuffling from the corner of her eye. Took a few steps and suddenly stopped as the bathroom was drowned in a loud noise.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, YOU LOUSY– a kitten!”
A translucent girl flew into the room. The robe she was wearing was just the same as the one Edith had on currently. The anger on her face subsided in the second she noticed Toffi but the cat did not seem happy. Startled by the ghost, he jumped in the air with a long hiss. Then, almost as if by chain-reaction, one of the taps spun briefly and the sink began to recede.
“Oops, I guess we’ve opened it again”, the girl stated. She pushed her round glasses with the tip of her finger and flew closer to Edith. “I haven’t seen you before.”
The young witch was beginning to open her mouth but was thankfully interrupted before she could say a word.
“Of course, it’s not like people come around here often. Especially not now. They still fear the big scary snake.”
“The Basilisk?” Edith inquired. The ghost nodded.
“So I hope you’ll stay a while longer as my much needed company.”
“I’m afraid that will not be possible. I have matters to attend to in the Chamber of Secrets.”
“You too?!” the ghost snorted. “The redhead last year was miserable enough. And you have a kitten with you.”
She turned to Toffi as he attempted to grab her with his paws confused as to why he’s continuously unsuccessful.
“But of course, you all have more interesting stuff to do than talking to the poor Myrtle. Go, if you have to!”
A ghostly tear appeared on her face as she took off at a great speed to one of the cubicles. Edith could hear her sobbing. She was feeling guilty of causing such reaction but at the same time, she was standing right in front the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. This meant there was no turning back now.
Edith took a few steps forward and once she did, Toffi appeared next to her. They were both staring at a wide pipe now exposed to the view. Worryingly, it seemed easier to get in rather than get out but as Harry Potter has managed it last year, Edith was sure she can handle the challenge. She patted her pocket signaling the cat to shrink and hop inside. Once he did, she took a deep breath, lowered herself down the pipe and began sliding down.
The speed at which she was descending was so high it has left her lightheaded. Not only that, the robes she was wearing were now wet and slimy and Toffi wanted nothing to do with it. He exited the pocket. His landing was met with a crack, frightening the kitten once again.
“What is it?” Edith asked rubbing her forehead. The floor itself was wet as the corridor was situated under a body of water but what Toffi jumped onto was anything but. Bones of small animals. Mice and rats, most likely, right next to a huge sheet of gray, molding skin. Edith was quick to put two and two together. “Shed Basilisk skin. We’re here. We’re really here! In the Chamber of Secrets!”
The kitten wasn’t as thrilled of this discovery. He sat in the driest possible spot and began licking himself clean. His efforts were in vain to which he reacted with an unhappy meow.
The duo had no idea how long the tunnel was or what was at its end. It seems as if they were in for another lengthy walk, this time threading through mud, slime and possibly, excrements. Toffi was keeping close to his owner, not even willing to rush after the spiders. Those creatures didn’t look confident either. All of them appeared very small as if they were children, only beginning to settle in. Edith noticed they were fleeing from the noises and splashes made by her feet. They weren’t spreading out and hiding by the walls though. Instead, they were rushing forward, deeper into the dark tunnel. Maybe they were leading her somewhere? She had no idea.
What she was wondering was how the Chamber even opened before her? She only recalled Toffi getting scared. He must have touched something, turned a knob or do something to cause a reaction. She replayed the incident in her head and it dawned on her. His hiss. The cat must have unknowingly imitate Parseltongue. The language was obviously, not taught at Euro-Glyph but they covered it during one of the classes a few years back. The Basilisk was a huge snake, it should have been obvious that the Heir of Slytherin would have to communicate with it in Parseltongue.
“I guess I should be glad you took a trip with me, huh?” she said to the orange cat beside her.
Minutes later, they arrived at what appeared to be an open door carved with snake-like ornaments. Behind the structure, another was hiding in shadows. Pillars as tall as the eyes could see, carvings spiraling in the fractured stone, a green gloom stood thick in the air. Edith was looking right at Salazar Slytherin himself, memorialized as a giant statue at the end of the Chamber. In front, a dead body of a gigantic serpent bathed in blood and venom, was getting torn apart. Now she understood where the tiny spiders were heading. Their goal was to warn their family someone is coming.
Multiple sets of eight eyes stared at the girl and her cat. Toffi squealed and hid behind his owner. She took a few steps back and drew her wand albeit with no spells coming to her mind. If there was anything her mother taught her about magical creatures was to be kind to them. These appeared to be a young generation of Acromantulas. Ironically, also considered impossible to train by the Ministry of Magic. When Edith was planning to come here, she never thought she’d have to face such dangers. The only one meant to and, to be fair, was indeed, already dead. Thinking about it now, she called herself naive and wished she came prepared for trouble.
“Acromantulas can speak, can they?” the voice in her head sounded. She gulped, opened her mouth and loudly said: “I mean no harm.”
The family did not believe that one bit. Couple steps back, slow and steady. But they were not interested in her leaving. The spiders kept drawing near, hiding the Basilisk behind their enormous haired bodies as if to claim it their own.
“I want nothing with the Basilisk. It’s all yours”, Edith stated.
Their pincers made uncomfortable clicking sounds filling the Chamber. The noise echoed in the otherwise empty space, making it seem as if the beasts were surrounding the duo. And then a raspy voice was heard:
The spiders held in place, still moving their pincers, thus the clicking did not subside.
“I, for one, would like to know who you are and why you are here.”
The voice was coming from somewhere behind one of the spiraling pillars. Edith looked to the right. A fairly small spider, only ten feet in size came closer to investigate the strangers.
“This is a dangerous place. Even for us. Especially for us. But now, that the Serpent of Slytherin is dead, we can claim it our own and live in peace”, he continued. “As for you, human, I can see no reason.”
“I-I came looking”, Edith muttered. “For the Basilisk.”
“Your reasoning is unknown to me.”
“I wanted to see it. To write about it. Describe it in detail”, she explained quickly.
“Ahh…” the spider dwelled on her words. “Curiosity. A noble trait. Rewarding. But dangerous at the same time, would you agree?”
Edith nodded. “You can have the snake. I mean no harm.”
“You were the one to draw you weapon first. Your wand. A thin piece of wood believed by your kind to be powerful enough to stop us.”
There were no good answers coming to her mind. She did not dare to move, either so she stood in silence as hundreds of eyes were glaring at her.
“Curiosity is dangerous, as I said. You could argue I should not even stop my newborns from eating you outright. But I was curious. And you are inconsiderate.”
It was difficult to prove him wrong. Edith was wondering if Protego Totalum could shield her but wasn’t brave enough to test the theory. A set of black legs moved in the distance but no-one took notice. A few seconds later, those same sets of legs jumped on the spider closest to Edith. Toffi hissed. The girl screamed. The family was clicking and clacking in anger. The set of legs and whatever it belonged to were gone, leaving the Acromantula squealing in pain. The beasts’ attention was switched to the unknown attacker.
Black legs hopped on another spider, this time, slashing one of his eyes in the process. The creature wasn’t as large as the others but it was a lot more nimble and much faster. It was switching targets posthaste, jumping around and, as Edith soon realized, carving a path for her.
The girl turned on her heel and lunged forward, back to the stone structure and the slimy corridor. The spider family rushed after her. The distance between them was closing faster than the witch would like. Suddenly, another giant creature stood by her. Toffi took courtesy in getting his owner out of the sticky situation. He grew to rival the young Acromantula in size and let the girl grab onto his orange fur.
Edith was grasping the hair in panic. She climbed on top of the cat. They were moving as fast as they could, cracking all of the old bones and splashing muddy water all over the place.
“How are we going to clear the slide?!” Edith yelled to Toffi. The black creature was still incapacitating Acromantulas one by one but there was no chance it could get rid of all of them. Toffi launched himself at the slide as if it was a tree. His claws dove into the plumbing. One paw after another, he was getting them out of the Chamber. The orange face was visibly determined to make it and Edith was proud of him.
Finally, a light was seen at the top. A dim light but nevertheless, it was a beautiful sight. The girl made her way out of the pipe first, grabbed the kitten by his tired paws and brought him onto the cold floor of the bathroom. Toffi shrunk to his normal size and hid in his owner’s arms. She hugged him pushing him to her chest with as much strength as she had left in her.
They were not the only ones to leave the Chamber however. A set of black legs jumped out as well and only now Edith could see who has managed to rescue her. A huge dog looked at the duo and barked as if to scold them. Then, it barked again. Using a different tone.
“I think it wants you to follow it”, they heard a voice. The ghost was observing this peculiar scene from a distance. The dog nodded as if it understood what she was saying.
“Can you lead us out?” Edith asked. The creature repeated the gesture.
The corridors of the Hogwarts castle were flooded in darkness helped only by the light coming out of torches. It was middle of the night. Their adventures must have taken them hours. It was no time for sightseeing nor Edith was interested. She blindly followed the black dog, knowing well she’s naive for doing so. Still, it helped her in the Chamber. If it was to kill her, it would do so when it had the chance.
They exited the castle and crossed the grounds. They arrived nearby a large tree. Its branches were swaying around in the air yet stopped all of the sudden as if paralyzed. Edith noticed something as orange as the kitten she was holding. Another cat was pushing its paws against the tree bark.
The dog led them forward behind the tree and into a tunnel. Edith was tired of tunnels and walking but had no other choice. They marched together. A dog, two cats and a human girl. Out of the tunnel and into what appeared to be a shack.
“Can this be…? The Shrieking Shack?” she asked in her thoughts.
They exited the building. The dog stood still and the orange cat stopped beside him. Edith and Toffi did the same. The young witch looked around. She recognized the snowy buildings despite nighttime. They were back at Hogsmeade.
“Thank you”, she said to the dog. It wagged its tail and barked. She petted him on the head and once she was done, he ran off and the cat left with him.
“What a strange day”, Edith spoke to Toffi. “I guess we should be heading back. Hop in.”
Toffi shrunk and placed himself back inside the pocket, next to chocolate candies. If the duo were to encounter any dementors on their way back, the sweets will surely come in handy. They had to clear one more walk to reach the outskirts of Hogsmeade and Apparate back into their Euro-Glyph bedroom. The essay still had to be written before the end of the holiday break. But, to everyone’s surprise, Edith Picard’s wasn’t on the topic of Basilisks. She changed her mind. Chose Acromantulas instead.