HP vs Gilderoy Lockhart

I woke up to two bulbous eyes staring at me from the foot of my bed. Grabbing my wand, I growled, “Trying to kill me, eh?”

The house-elf gaped. “Dobby is not trying to kill the Great Harry Potter; Dobby is only trying to save him. Dobby…”

Dobby. I knew that name from somewhere. I hummed, my wand still pointed at the house-elf. “You’re Lucius’s elf, the one who used to serve those fantastic cakes!”

“The Great Harry Potter knows about Dobby?” the pitiful creature said, eyes filling with tears.

It wasn’t that impressive, really. House-elves were simply less prone to failure than their owners and therefore died significantly less often.

“So, which Malfoy sent you then? The older or the younger?”

“No one sent Dobby. Dobby went on his own. Dobby wanted to warn the Great Harry Potter – ”

“House-elves don’t just go places. Really, though, which one is trying to kill me? I’d have guessed Lucius, but Draco might be making another go at it.”

“They is talking about terrible things at Hogwarts –”

“Both of them, then?” – I paused thoughtfully – “Yes, of course, Malfoys always travel in packs.”

“Dobby –”

“Yes, thank you for this valuable information. If you’ll excuse me, I need to plan.”

Pulling at his ears, Dobby popped away. That was one of the most helpful assassination attempts I’ve ever experienced.

“Tut, tut – hardly any of you remembered that my favorite color is lilac.”

Lockhart sighed gustily, golden curls flopping with a dramatic shake of his head. His exasperation lasted only a moment, however, and he was soon back to grinning like a loon.

The Weasley rolled his eyes, grumbling about frauds. Of course, the boy was far too dense to realize that it wasn’t his accomplishments that Lockhart was faking – it was his personality. After all, it is common for truly powerful wizards to hide their cunning behind a mask of harmless incompetence. Just look at Dumbledore.

I, too, had once doubted Lockhart’s claims, for even I would hesitate to take on an entire island of vampires, no matter how many stakes I was using as hair curlers. Nevertheless, a small amount of research revealed that Lockhart was quite reputable.

Besides, Dumbledore would hardly hire someone as idiotic as Lockhart pretended to be. No, he was clearly more than he appeared.

Lockhart went on to prove his worth as a professor by releasing a batch of Cornish Pixies and hiding under a desk. By withholding support, he forced students to think on their feet and problem solve without relying on an authority figure to do everything for them.

This was true Defense Against the Dark Arts.

For the first time in decades, I feared that Dumbledore had hired a professor talented enough to break my curse. Gilderoy Lockhart would have to die.

I approached Hermione, Ron trailing at my heels. She was cheerfully chatting with Nearly Headless Nick, the ghost of Gryffindor House. I found it telling that the ghost of Gryffindor had been violently murdered while the ghost of Slytherin was a violent murderer.

“You shouldn’t let them upset you,” she said, “People are just awful when they’re in groups. They like to exclude people, you know, especially on technicalities. It makes them feel important, and it’s well-known psychological phenomenon…”

“I suppose,” Nick said morosely.

Hermione reached out a hand to pat him on the shoulder, realized what she was doing, and yanked her hand back. She sniffed. “I’m quite certain the Headless Hunt isn’t nearly as fun as you’d think, anyway.”

“Hermione, are you talking to ghosts?” I asked. “It’s useless, you know. They’re like paintings – not really sentient – so there’s no point bothering with them.”

“But you spent three hours arguing with a painting just last week,” Ron very rudely interrupted.

I glared at him. “Yes, and, if it was capable of changing its mind, it would have that realized I was right. We learned a valuable lesson about the idiocy of paintings, and I think we’ve all grown since then.”

Hermione giggled, sharing a traitorous grin with Ron. “Yes, well, I was just speaking with Sir Nicholas about ghosts and their very rich culture.”

“I can hear another Hermione rant coming on,” Ron groaned.

She ignored him, going on excitedly. “He’s invited us to his two hundredth Death Day Party!”

“So we can go to a ghost party with rotted food but we can’t go to the Halloween Feast?” Ron whined.

“Oh, hush, Ronald. You could have gone by yourself. Besides, Sir Nicholas’ Death Day Party was a wonderful learning experience,” Hermione chided.

He snorted. “Yeah, I learned that I never want to go again.”


I stopped in surprise. The Basilisk? If she was slithering around, it meant that someone else had been meddling in my Chamber of Secrets.

“…time to kill…”

“NO!” I hissed, “Bad snake! No killing.”

Hermione glanced back. “Are you okay, Harry?”

“Oh, yes, I’m perfectly alright. Just, erm, clearing my throat. Probably shouldn’t have tried the food at Nick’s party…”

Shortly afterward, we stumbled upon a petrified cat and a bloody message telling everyone that the Chamber of Secrets had been opened.

This was exactly like what I did in my sixth year, down to the curl of my S’s. This new “heir” was only a pale and pathetic imitation of my former glory.

Filch accused me of being the Heir of Slytherin (technically true), Dumbledore got me out of trouble through the power of favoritism, and Hermione began a new research project.

That night, I snuck into the girls’ loo and changed the password needed to enter the Chamber of Secrets.

I leaned up against the cauldron, glancing about the abandoned loo. Myrtle had long since disappeared down the toilet in tears. Her death was accidental, just a case of poor timing. I might have felt bad about it if she’d had the dignity to just die.

“So, Hermione, you want to explain what we’re doing here?”

She grinned, giving the potion a final stir and going into teacher mode. “This is Polyjuice Potion, or it will be in a month. It’ll let us sneak into the Slytherin Common Room and ask Malfoy if he’s the Heir of Slytherin.”

I frowned. “Hermione, of course he’s the Heir of Slytherin. Everyone’s the Heir of Slytherin.”

She wilted, confusion wrinkling her brow. “Come again?”

“Look, Slytherin lived a thousand years ago, right?”

“Nine-hundred and ninety-four.”

“Right. A long time. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the wizarding population is kind of tiny. Everyone is related to everyone, so everyone’s related to Slytherin. In fact, the only people in the school who are not the Heirs of Slytherin are you and the other Muggleborns. Also, possibly Ron.”

“Yeah!” the redhead yelled, sparking a wail from Myrtle’s toilet.

“…Salazar had standards.”

The grin melted off his Weasley face. He said, “But it’s still probably Malfoy, isn’t it? I mean, him and the other Slytherins are the only ones who believe in all that blood purity stuff.”

I snorted. “If Malfoy were the Heir of Slytherin, he’d be bragging about it. All the time. He would be right here, in our faces, bragging.”

“We’re in the girls’ loo,” Hermione said.

“Like that would stop him. He would follow us into the girls’ loo_ just_ to brag about it. I mean, honestly, this is Malfoy we’re talking about here. There are two things he mentions in every conversation: his father and his money. If he were the Heir of Slytherin, there would be three things he’d mention in every conversation.”

Hermione pouted. “So, that means we don’t need to brew an illegal potion with stolen ingredients, knock out three of our classmates, tie them up in a closet, sneak into the Slytherin Common Room, and interrogate Malfoy?”

I gaped at her. “Was that your plan?”

I fear that Hermione may be the most evil of us all. That is concerning since I am a retired Dark Lord.

I stormed to the girls’ loo, cloak snapping menacingly behind me. There had been another attack. This one targeted a student who aspired to be my minion, one day. Though I had no particular fondness for Creevey, I also didn’t have enough minions to start losing them to my own giant monsters.

What was worse, however, was the imposter’s apparent ability to guess my password. I suppose _“Slytherin’s Locket” _wasn’t the most unique password, so I changed it into something less obvious.

Malfoy’s summoned snake launched itself onto one of the students. Oh, sure, I could have stopped it, but I didn’t really care. Besides, our medicine is pretty good; he would probably be fine.

The real question is why no one else did anything. There were plenty of people around – Severus, Lockhart, the other students – and, as far as they were concerned, I was just a stupid second year who most certainly couldn’t speak to snakes.

Taking advantage of my opponent’s distraction, I disarmed him and hopped off the stage. I do so love winning.

“Hey, Hermione,” I asked, “Who’s the kid with the snake on his face?”

“Justin Finch-Flechley,” she murmured. My minions flinched at the boy’s screams.

“Everything burns!” my…erm, Malfoy’s victim cried.


“He’s a Hufflepuff.”

“Oh, that’s alright then.”

I had finally finished reading all of Lockhart’s books and had determined that I was doomed. He was talented in hand-to-hand combat, as evidenced by his battle against seven werewolves while wandless. He had mastered battle magic as well, tearing through smaller dark lords with ease and routinely using spells I’d never even heard of.

Worse still were the skills that he had neglected to name. For instance, several of his fights had occurred simultaneously, while on opposite sides of the planet. Many would assume that this was a printing error or proof that Lockhart was lying, but I was not so naïve. To someone with my knowledge of dark magic, it was obvious that Lockhart was a master of the Multis Me cloning spell, which was outlawed three centuries ago for inducing madness in its caster.

He even hinted at this in the title of his newest book Magical Me.

I also worried that he would see through my Harry Potter persona. An actor of his caliber would no doubt recognize such actions in another.

Lockhart constantly assigned me detention in order to better observe my actions. Even outside of class, he paid me particular attention, sending knowing smiles in my direction and giving me tips on how to be more famous. My few attempts to implement this advice ended disastrously, leading me to the conclusion that he was attempting to sabotage my reputation.

I would have to orchestrate his demise very carefully.

How in Merlin’s name did the imposter guess the password was Horcrux?!

“You’ve got to admit this is a load of bullocks,” Ron said, waving his arms around at the chaotic scene in front of us.

Dwarves swarmed the Great Hall, chasing down errant students and occasionally tackling them to deliver often-humiliating Valentines messages. I crouched beneath the Gryffindor table, hiding under my invisibility cloak, while Ron and Hermione sat in front of me.

“It does seem a bit…silly,” Hermione hesitantly admitted.

I said, “It’s a training exercise.”

“Not every stupid thing Lockhart does is a training exercise, mate,” Ron foolishly declared.

“That’s where you’re wrong. This, for instance, tests our stealth, and I am clearly winning.”

“That’s because you’re using the cloak to cheat,” he said.

I raised my eyebrows, realized I was too invisible to silently display my condescension, and sighed. “Using an advantage that no one else shares to surpass your competition is not cheating. It’s being intelligent. You would know that if you paid attention in Defense.”

I hissed the new password, “Open. Open. Open. I am Lord Voldemort and you will open for me!”

How the imposter guessed that one, I couldn’t even imagine. Perhaps he was an accomplished Legilimens. I trudged through the Chamber, towards the fool who had dared to attack my new Bellatrix. Hermione was currently lying stiff in the Hospital Wing, unable to serve me for months!

A hissed “_Salazar” _released the basilisk.

“Ssstay behind me, and close your eyesss.”

“Yesss, Massster.”

I waited in the Chamber. Eventually, my fellow Parselmouth would come, and I would be there to catch him when he did. I settled into a cross-legged position and waited. It was very dark in the Chamber and impossible to tell if the castle had awoken, yet.


3:37 AM

There was a leak from the ceiling, splashing water directly onto my head. I moved. It followed. I sometimes hate this castle.


7:50 AM

Slytherin’s statue failed to respond to insults regarding his heritage, appearance, or ability. It did attack when I cast the Killing Curse at it, however, and proved fairly susceptible to blasting curses. I transfigured the mound of rubble into a chair, Slytherin’s scowling face hovering above my own.


1:15 PM

I’m hungry,” I said.

The basilisk hissed, “I haven’t eaten in three hundred years.”

“It’s been at least eighteen hours for me,” I commiserated. Sometimes, I think that no one understands my suffering as well as the basilisk.

Really, what was wrong with this new Heir? He should be here, by now. It had been at least half a day. I hadn’t even changed the password! Still, I couldn’t just up and leave. I was invested, by Merlin, and I wasn’t going until the imposter was put in his place. My resolve was unwavering.


1:55 PM

“I’m still hungry…Wait, I have a brilliant idea,” I said. “All I need is a house-elf.”

I smirked. “House-elf!”

Nothing happened for several minutes. I muttered, “Alright, maybe I need a name, something stupid like Flimsy or Floppsy.”

I looked around: Still no food-bearing slave. What was the name of that assassin, again? Ah, right. “Dobby!”

The bedraggled creature popped in front of me, his eyes widening. “The Great Master Harry Potter sir is calling Dobby?”

“Feed me,” I said.

He came back after a few moments, several plates floating around him. My eyes lit up. “Is that duck?”

“Master Lucy is wanting duck for dinner,” he said.

I was impressed. “You stole from him?”

The house-elf shifted uncomfortably. “Dobby did not steal. Dobby just gave snack to very powerful guest.”

I frowned. “But I’m not his guest, right now.”

Dobby proceeded to slam his head against the ground. Shrugging, I dug into my meal, eating with all the table manners of a Weasley. Afterwards, I looked down at where a very dazed Dobby sprawled on the stone.

“Oh, right, and can you grab a peacock for my friend?” I gestured towards the basilisk.

After that particular bit of entertainment, I settled down to wait more comfortably.


4:30 PM

Bored out of my mind, I drowsed under my invisibility cloak.

I awoke to hurried footsteps and squinted through the cloak’s starry cloth as a small, robed figure walked inside. The red hair was unmistakable. Whipping the cloak off dramatically, I leapt to my feet.

“You!” I exclaimed. “I should have known. You Weasleys, always so righteous, always in Gryffindor, are the true heirs of Slytherin. You’ve lain in wait for generations, hiding your true cunning behind a veil of idiocy. But, now, I see you for the Pureblood fanatics you have always been.”

The youngest Weasley gaped at my brilliant deductions. “…What?”

I took a moment to smugly survey my opponent. The girl looked shocked. One pale hand had dropped her wand in surprise and her other clutched something to her chest. A book? I frowned. It looked familiar, though it was far too thin to be anything I’d read recently.

“Oh, don’t feign innocence, Weasley. It’s obvious that you’re all Slytherins. After all, every Weasley has been in Gryffindor for generations. Even the Gryffindor family didn’t all go to Gryffindor! And your constant breeding is clearly a desperate attempt to produce Parseltongue from your impure blood.”

The Weasley laughed. “You think Ginny Weasley could open the Chamber of Secrets?”

Her eyes trailed across me languidly. “So you’re the great Harry Potter. I don’t believe we’ve been introduced. My name is Tom Riddle.”

Suddenly, I recognized the book.

“Diary?” I shouted. “What in Merlin’s name are you doing here?”

She (he?) hissed, “How dare you address me so disrespectfully? I am Lord Voldemort!”

“You’re going to regret that name in a few years,” I said, “and I’m the real Lord Voldemort. You’re just my horcrux.”

Diary sneered. “You’re Lord Voldemort? No, I think I’m Voldemort.”

I narrowed my eyes. No diary was going to defy me. “Well, at least I’m not in the body of a girl. I certainly don’t remember being confused about that when I was in school.”

“I’m only using her body-”

I cut in, “Whoa, there. She’s only twelve. I don’t remember being confused about that, either.”

His Weasley eyes flashed with fury. “You’ll regret that,” he hissed. With a smirk, he turned to the Basilisk.


No, don’t do that,” I ordered in Parseltongue.

The Basilisk has no way of identifying the “one true heir of Slytherin.” It’s a snake, not some magical lineage device. As such, it follows any command given in Parseltongue.

Diary glared. “Attack him!”

“Don’t do that,” I ordered. “In fact, never attack me. And don’t listen to any of his orders, either.”

“That isn’t fair,” he grumbled.

I sighed, wishing my younger self was less of an idiot. “Diary, we are a dark lord.”

Diary snatched up the Weasley girl’s wand. “I don’t need the Basilisk for this, anyway. I wonder…if we were to fight, who would win?”

I glared. “Me.”

“Really? I don’t think so.”

“You stop this nonsense and get back in your diary, young man.”

The Weasley girl smirked. “Of course, you could always join me. I might let you rule at my feet -”

“Avada Kedavra,” I said, pointing my wand at the diary. The Weasley collapsed as the book glowed green and the soul inside screamed. The Horcrux was destroyed. Or released, or something like that.

It was a necessary evil. I had enough competition without another me running around.

I had assumed that, upon the destruction of my soul containers, I would notice. They’re tying me to this world, after all, so I should feel something when they disappeared.

Yet I did not.

This meant that all of my Horcruxes could be destroyed and I would have no idea.

That is a problem.

I dumped the Weasley in the girl’s loo. She’d wake up in a few hours, exhausted and suffering from amnesia. Obviously, she’d come up with some explanation and forget about it, in typical Weasley fashion.

I threw my invisibility cloak on as I hurried out of the loo and snuck back into Gryffindor tower. I’d never understand why the portrait would let students pass who were clearly out after curfew and invisible. The foolish portrait would probably let a Death Eater in, if one knew the password…Come to think of it, she was letting the Dark Lord in, now, so that would actually be a step down.

I crept into the Second Year boys’ dormitory, slipped off the invisibility cloak, and threw open the Weasley’s curtains.

“Spiders!” he cried, jolting forward. He relaxed upon realizing that I did not, in fact, possess eight eyes. “Oh, Harry. You’re back.”

“Yes, yes,” I grumbled. “Did you avoid suspicion, as I ordered?”

Ron grinned. “Yeah, I told everyone you were sick.”

“And no one questioned that?”

“Nah, McGonagall just said you should go to the Hospital Wing if it got bad. Dean, Seamus, and Neville thought it was weird they never saw you, but I just said you were sleeping under your invisibility cloak again…”

“That is something I would do,” I muttered.

“…and no one wanted to wake you after last time,” Ron said, shivering slightly.

“I don’t know why you’re still complaining about that. The scars weren’t even permanent.”

“Where were you, anyway?” Ron followed me to my trunk, where I tossed my cloak.

“The Chamber of Secrets. As usual, I solved everything.”

I’d hoped that would be the end of it since Dumbledore and Hagrid were kicked out of the school on the same day I went hunting for the imposter. Hermione’s petrification was the last of them, and they’d arrested the man who was previously blamed. Everything seemed perfectly resolved, to me.

I’d feel bad about using Hagrid as a scapegoat, but he did almost burn down the Forbidden Forest, the previous year.

Come to think of it, I didn’t feel guilty about my previous actions, either.

Hagrid wasn’t technically expelled for being the Heir of Slytherin. He was expelled for keeping a man-eating spider in the school. Which, to be fair, he did.

Unfortunately, the groundskeeper’s obvious guilt was not enough to stop the incompetent fools at the Ministry from nearly ruining my magical education. Again.

My minion and I tracked down Professor McGonagall, the acting headmistress, in her office.

“You can’t close the school!” I exclaimed, the Weasley echoing me.

McGonagall’s lips thinned. “The Board of Governors has determined that Hogwarts is no longer safe for students.”

“There hasn’t been an attack in weeks. I’m sure we’re fine,” I said.

“Mr. Potter,” she snapped. “There is a deadly monster in the school.”

“It can’t be that deadly if it didn’t kill anyone,” I argued.

“Petrifications are no laughing matter, and it’s only prudent to close the school before the monster kills a student, as it did fifty years ago.”

I snorted. “One death every fifty years? We lose more students than that to the moving staircase.”

Ron gaped at me. “We do?”

“What do you think happened to the Perks girl?” I asked. It really was a wonder Ron hadn’t accidentally strangled himself, which I’d like to add would set his death toll equal to my basilisk’s.

McGonagall sighed. “Any death is too great a risk.”

“But we caught the Heir, already,” I whined.

She frowned. “It has only been three weeks, Mr. Potter. There is no proof that we’ve caught the Heir.”

“But everyone knows that it’s Hagrid’s fault.”

Honestly, if we weren’t going to blame him, why arrest the oaf at all?

Professor McGonagall sighed heavily. “The school is closing, Mr. Potter. I’d suggest you get used to the idea. Now, please leave my office. I have work to do.”

I stormed from the office, Ron at my heels like a good minion. “How dare they? As if they can close _my _school without my approval…Fine, they want a monster; I’ll give them a monster.”

“Um, Harry?”

“Quiet, Ron. I’m scheming,” I said.

After a few moments, I worked out my plan. “We need to go into the Forbidden Forest and bring back an Acromantula.”

Ron frowned. “A what?”

“A giant spider.”

“What?! But why?”

“To stop the school from closing down, of course,” I said.

“I thought you said you took care of everything.” His Weasley mind struggled to keep up with my brilliance.

“No, no, I just took care of the Heir. You clearly weren’t paying attention,” I said breezily.


I huffed in annoyance. “Let me put this simply: To keep the school open, we need to kill Slytherin’s monster. The monster is in the forest. To kill it, we have to take it in the school.”

There, that was a close enough approximation of the truth. Most importantly, it was the explanation that would convince my minion to assist me, or at least keep him too confused to argue.

Ron shrugged. “Okay.”

“Alright, we’re agreed then. We go into the forest tonight. How is your Stunning Spell?”

“I never learned the Stunning Spell,” he said.

“Then you get to be bait,” I said.

He was always going to be bait, but I figured he’d agree more easily if he thought it was his fault.

“Erm, mate, are you sure about this?” Ron asked, trudging through the Forbidden Forest.

I floated next to him on a school broomstick and sighed loudly to ensure it would be heard through my invisibility cloak. “Ron, when have I ever been wrong about anything?”

“What about –”

I quickly interrupted. “That was a rhetorical question.”

“I still think this is a bad idea,” he muttered. “Spiders are bloody terrifying.”

“Didn’t you pay attention to the Hat? Gryffindors aren’t afraid of things. If you wanted to be afraid of things, you should have gone to Hufflepuff.”

Ron nodded sullenly. No one wants to be a Hufflepuff.

We followed the spiders deep into the forest, and, at last, found one of the larger acromantulas. From black-furred leg to yellow eye, it was about the size of a horse, its fang as long as my arm. That should be intimidating enough.

I whispered, “Ron, that’s it.”

“I-it’s so big,” he stuttered.

“You have to get its attention,” I said. “Wave your arms or something.”

Ron stood completely still, utterly failing at fading into the greenery. Hufflepuff. I cleared my throat and yelled, “HEY, SPIDER! I, THE REDHEADED BOY TO YOUR LEFT, AM VERY DELICIOUS!”

Was that so hard? The acromantula turned, clicking, and scuttling towards Ron. He ran away, the spider hot on his trail and me flying beside them. Demonstrating admirable stamina, the Weasley made it all the way through the forest and well onto the grounds before panting, “Harry, where should I go?”

I smirked beneath my cloak. “The Defense classroom, of course. Lockhart will take care of it.”

“I would like to take a moment to commemorate the loss of Professor Lockhart who died courageously fighting Slytherin’s Acromantula,” Dumbledore said.

I bowed my head along with the rest of the Great Hall. Lockhart was a brilliant man and a better teacher. It was a pity he chose to oppose me.

After no more than a second, Dumbledore clapped his hands and cheerfully remarked. “Now, let’s move on to happier matters. It’s time to award the House Cup!”

I listened raptly. Hufflepuff was in fourth place – naturally – with Gryffindor well above and Ravenclaw slightly ahead. Slytherin was set to be the winner.

Dumbledore sighed. “Yet I find myself once again needing to award points for special services performed for the school. To Mr. Ronald Weasley and Mr. Harry Potter, for locating Slytherin’s monster and saving the school, I award one hundred points…each.”

There were shocked gasps and mutinous mutters from Slytherin.

“This is ridiculous!” I cried. “You’re not even trying to hide your favoritism.”

“Now, Mr. Potter…” Dumbledore said.

“No! I refuse to accept this.”

“Twenty points from Gryffindor for talking out of turn,” Snape drawled.

I said, “Thank you! At least someone is trying to be fair here. Until this is righted, I declare a hunger strike.”

With that, I strode from the Great Hall, doors slamming shut behind me with an echoing boom. Gilderoy Lockhart would have approved.

“Harry, I brought you some food,” Hermione called, pushing into the boys’ dormitory. “I think it’s very noble what you’re doing for the Slytherins, but you really shouldn’t neglect your –”

She paused upon noticing the plate of turkey, tin of biscuits, tub of gravy, bowl of salad, various desserts, and assorted other food items hovering in the air around me. “…Oh, you’re eating.”

I said, “Of course I’m eating. I can’t just starve myself every time Dumbledore does something immoral. I’d be starving myself all the time.”

Hermione frowned. “But you said you were going on a hunger strike.”

“Yes, I definitely said that.” I took a bite of biscuit, taking care to swallow before speaking again. I’m not a Weasley.

Hermione sighed and said, “Where did you get all of this, anyway?”

“Ah, want some for yourself, eh?” – I grinned – “Never let it be said that I am not a generous ma-friend. Come Dobby!”

The house-elf popped beside me. “Master Harry Potter sir is wanting more?”

Hermione gaped at the hideous creature. “Are you okay?”

I chewed my mouthful of turkey thoughtfully before answering. “Well, it’s a bit on the dry side, and I wouldn’t mind a fork. But I suppose I’ll survive.”

“No, not you,” she snapped, and turned to Dobby as her voice softened, “Hi, I’m Hermione. What’s your name?”

“Dobby is Dobby,” he said nervously, pulling at his ragged pillowcase.

“What exactly are you?” she whispered.

“Dobby is a house-elf.”

She smiled widely, as if interacting with a small child. “And how did you get all this food? Did you make it yourself?”

“Dobby is good cook. Dobby took it from the kitchens for the amazing, very kind Harry –”

“He stole it from the Malfoys,” I added helpfully.

Dobby’s eye twitched violently, and he set about trying to bash his head in with the biscuit tin. I scowled. “Hey, I was using that!”

The house-elf helpfully switched to slamming himself against the floor.

Hermione said, “Please stop doing that!”

I said, “Hermione, there’s really no use trying to talk him out of it. He’ll probably just hurt himself more, later, for making you go to the trouble.”

“But why?” Hermione sniffled.

I shrugged. “That’s just how house-elves are.”

Honestly, I think they may actually like that sort of thing, but there are some things you just don’t tell a twelve-year-old girl. I do have some decency.

She bit her lip but dropped the subject. “There was something else I wanted to ask you, actually. I just didn’t have time what with making up all the classes I’d missed.”

“And getting O’s in all of them, I’m sure,” I said. There was a loud crack.

“Is he…?”

I said, “It was probably the floor. Dobby, fix the floor before you leave.”

“Yes, Harry Potter sir,” he squeaked.

She continued. “Um, alright then. Well, I was just wondering about Slytherin’s monster. I was looking it up in the library before my petrification, and I was really quite certain it was a basilisk.”

I laughed for a good, long while. When Hermione’s ideas seemed sufficiently mocked, I said, “Hermione, that is completely ridiculous. Do you know how rare those are? Besides, it was definitely an acromantula. Everyone saw it.”

“Well, I saw the creature’s reflection in my mirror, and it only had two eyes.”

“Are you sure? It was a pretty big spider, Hermione. You might have only seen two eyes, but there were six more above them.”

She shook her head. “And I’ve read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them twice now. Acromantulas don’t petrify people. Basilisks do.”

I reached forward to pat her on the shoulder. “It was an enchanted spider, obviously.”

“I guess that makes sense,” she said in a voice that implied that it really didn’t make sense at all. “I still can’t believe Hagrid wanted to kill Muggleborns, though.”

I shook my head regretfully. “Honestly, I’m surprised it took so long to arrest him. He did the same thing fifty years ago. Fifty years of biding his time, pretending to be an idiot, only to finally strike…we should all hope to be as Slytherin as Hagrid.”

“Why would we want to be Slytherin at all?” Hermione asked.

I smiled, hoping it wouldn’t twitch too noticeably. “That’s not important right now. Dobby, bring us cakes!”

“Yesh, ‘arry Potta shr,” the house-elf slurred, popping away.

My two months of exile in the Muggle world were not as terrible as they might have been.

The Dursleys continued to acknowledge my superiority and ability to injure them at any time, and my minions kept me well informed of news in Wizarding Britain. During my trips to proper civilization, I began tentatively researching Horcruxes and similar rituals. It turns out that making them solely based on the information obtained from one crumbling tome was probably a bad idea.

Most importantly, however, it allowed me time to work on my newest project:

Sporting with Spiders, the final installation in Lockhart’s book series.

Sure, the brilliant adventurer wouldn’t be writing it, and all the royalties would go directly to me. But I think that’s how Lockhart would have wanted it.

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