126 Chapter 126: Shedding Skins

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I would like to thank my beta, Akisu, for his help in this chapter.


19 March 1993, Hogwarts

With a sad smile on his face, Harry turned and made his way to exit the infirmary. Of course, that's when he felt a spell coming at him with his arcane hearing and ducked out of the way.

Of course, he couldn't have a peaceful evening for once. It was Neville Longbottom who was pointing his wand at him with a look of rage on his face, "What the hell, Potter?"

Harry pretended to be outraged, "What the hell is wrong with you, Longbottom? We're just outside the Hospital Wing you insensitive troll."

The boy who lived didn't seem to care about Harry's answer, "Why did you lie?"

He waved his wand around to emphasize his point, which produced sparks. A small crowd started to gather around them.

"Lie about what exactly? Seriously stop with the waving here. Why do you have to always resort to violence? Just for once in your life, calm yourself and talk like a rational person."

The boy lowered his wand arm, but still looked angry, "Why did you lie about the Chamber of Secrets?"

"I really have no idea what you're talking about…"

"Stop it, for Merlin's sake, stop it. We went to the chamber of secrets together. We found the secret room; I killed a Basilisk with a sword!"

Harry snorted in amusement, "Seriously, that's what you're going for? You killed a Basilisk, one of the most dangerous magical creatures in the world, without even using magic."

"I used the bombs you gave me…"

"What bombs? Seriously, why would I be making bombs in my spare time?"

"The cold bombs, the flashbang bombs, and the concussion bombs," Neville cited, "Do you honestly don't remember them. You made them to fight the Basilisk."

The last Potter hummed, "That's interesting. I can certainly see how useful those would be. The cold because snakes are cold blooded, so that would slow them down. The concussion and flashbang to blind the Basilisk, it's a theoretically good tactic. Still suicidal, but somewhat plausible. But there's a problem, how did you aim if you couldn't meet the basilisk's gaze?"

"You enchanted some goggles to protect against its gaze," Neville commiserated.

"No offence, but that's a little beyond the capability of second-year students. I know I would remember making something like that, and I definitely would be bragging about it."

"Stop lying, you little snake," the Longbottom scion exclaimed.

Harry let out a big sigh and spoke up, "Look, Longbottom, I don't know if you're lying to get attention, but telling the headmaster that I'm some kind of mastermind that somehow succeeded in a few days where he had failed, found the Chamber of Secrets, and defeated the monster inside, is just ridiculous. I was just in his office being interrogated about the events of the Chamber of Secrets, when I haven't even left my dormitory the night you got attacked or whatever it is you think happened."

"I'm not lying."

"Look Dumbledore told me that he spent an entire day looking for any evidence of what you said happened. He did find a secret room, but the Chamber of Secrets wasn't there. You didn't have any bombs on you, or any goggles. Hell, they didn't even find the sword."

Longbottom protested, "The sword was there, it just disappeared."

"Yeah," he answered while scoffing, "because swords tend to do that. Look, I don't care what you say, because it's not my problem. I don't care that you snuck into the Chamber of Secrets where the entrance didn't exist, I don't care that you fought a monster that massacred entire teams of wizards and witches by yourself with just a sword, I don't care that you were found without any of the equipment you said you had. However, I care that you're trying to use me as a witness when there's proof that I was in my dormitory that night."

The boy gritted his teeth, "Tell them that I'm telling the truth. I'm a hero. I saved everyone!"

Harry gave him a pitying look, "Look, man, Dumbledore thinks that you were under some kind of illusion curse, that made you experience something you craved, being a hero, slaying the legendary monster with absolute bravery, clearing your name from the stigma of being a Parselmouth, while you stayed unconscious."

"No," Neville protested weakly.

"I know you don't want to deny it, but don't you think that your feats are just too great, too unrealistic? If it was another student, would you believe that they did, in fact, kill a Basilisk with a sword?"

Longbottom kept shaking his head and Harry pressed, "Don't you think it's too much of a coincidence, that according to your narrative, I came out of nowhere, like some kind of quest giver in a fiction book, giving you all the explanations that you could need to heroically save the say, as well as the location of the chamber of secrets, the nature of the monster attacking, and the exact methods to defeat it. Don't you think it's too lucky that we're separated by some weird earthquake, that your sword somehow materialized when you needed it, and you used it to kill a mighty monster? Why wouldn't I just go tell a professor? Surely, they're more qualified than both you and me."

The crowd nodded in affirmation, but the boy just wouldn't let go of his story, "No, you were there. YOU WERE THERE!"

"Neville, just get some help. I don't know if you're going crazy or if this is a side effect of whatever curse you had on you, but you need to accept reality. Hell, even the headmaster is sure that there was never a Chamber of Secrets in the first place, that it was all a diary that trapped the user's mind inside it, and that could also hypnotize them to cast some kind of obscure petrification spell on random people and write about the heir of Slytherin coming for Muggleborns in blood. It was probably made by some kind of perturbed student who wanted to cause damage even after he graduated and left the castle. There was never any Basilisk…"

"No, it's a Basilisk. You said it yourself in the Slytherin common room," the boy who lived exclaimed.

"First things first, using a conversation where you deceived me by impersonating someone else is not a good argument to make. But what I said was that if Slytherin had a monster that could do all of this, it would probably be a snake that was long-lived, and could petrify people. A Basilisk was theoretically possible, but I don't think that Dumbledore would let students stay in the same castle as something like that. You trust Dumbledore's judgement, don't you?"

Neville gave him a heated glare and gritted his teeth, "Yes, I trust Dumbledore."

"So, you can't tell me that there's a small possibility that the old man wouldn't let an entire generation of students die for no reason, can you? Because if that's true, then he doesn't deserve to be the headmaster, does he?"

The boy nodded, and Harry went for the kill, "So if you think about it, either your story is false, or you're saying that Dumbledore shouldn't be the headmaster… So, tell me, which one is it?"

For the first time, the Longbottom scion hesitated. His rage began to wane as the weight of Harry's words sank in. He looked around at the growing crowd, some of whom were nodding in agreement with Harry's logic. He just answered bitterly, "You're playing dirty, Potter."

"No, I'm just being logical. But for all your lies, all your delusions of heroism, there's something that's really bothering me. You see, everybody lies, it's a normal thing. Sometimes it's because it's shameful. Sometimes it's because we're being stubborn jerks. Sometimes it's because we're ignorant about something. Sometimes it's because we don't even know that we're lying since it's far better than the ugly truth. A twelve year old boy lying isn't a big deal, celebrity or not, but what's really bothering me about you, what's really making me want to punch you, is the fact that your friend is dying. Her cold comatose body is in the hospital wing, which is just next to us. I just came to visit my friend, but you just don't seem you care about yours. You just care about being proven right, about being the hero, about people not calling you a liar, and that's just pitiful. There's a good chance your friend would die and here you are picking a fight with me because I wouldn't go along with your lies. There's a good chance that her parents will never talk to her again. And look at you whining about no one believing you. The truth is that all you care about is your own ego. Look at me, I came here because I missed my friend. Do you even miss yours?"

The Longbottom boy blanched, and Harry continued, "Take a good long look at yourself, Neville Longbottom. Are you happy with the person that you are, with the man that you're becoming? Do you think your parents would have been proud to see what you're doing, right now? I know I wouldn't. So, why don't you be a decent person, get in the hospital wing, and sit by your friend."

Longbottom just stood there, frozen in shock at anyone daring to say that to him. Harry was running out of patience, "I said, DO IT!"

The boy stiffened and nodded meekly. He slowly walked towards the hospital wing. Harry shook his head and addressed the crowd, "What are you all looking at?"

They all looked away and left one by one, looking down in shame. With the crowd dispersing, Harry watched Neville Longbottom's retreating figure until he disappeared into the infirmary. Honestly, there was a lot of real anger at Neville. Sure, he was successful at making the boy doubt himself, and there would probably be rumours circulating in the afternoon about the boy who lived going crazy, but the way the boy didn't seem to care about Hermione grated Harry immensely.

It was the guilt, Harry realized. To be perfectly honest, he stopped really caring about Hermione. They were barely friends for a month before she decided that she preferred Neville and Ron. Harry had long moved on with this, and his decision to ignore the plot from the previous stories, to not live in fear – a wise move in hindsight – just turned her into a regular lonely bookworm in his eyes, which wasn't worth the headache of being near Longbottom, and with it, Dumbledore's attention.

But there was something that Riddle said that bothered him. In Hermione's perfect world, when she bore down her soul to him, she said that she missed Harry and that they were still friends. Had he really forgotten about a girl who still hoped that deep down in her heart, they would one day reconcile or something?

It wasn't logical, but if Hermione dies, Harry knows that he would regret not making peace with her, at least.

Harry had won; he had literally gotten everything he wanted, he had gotten one over Dumbledore, ensured that he wouldn't be under his thumb, defeated Riddle, killed a divine beast that was probably thousands of years old, and had free reign over what to do with the Basilisk corpse, which he would leave alone for later after preserving the body, that is. It wouldn't do to have Basilisk parts available in the market while there might be rumours of a Basilisk being in the castle. Staging a fake expedition in the Amazon Forest in a couple of years might be better after memories start to fade about the whole incident.

However, for all that success the possibility that a child could die made the whole thing bittersweet. Hermione Granger was an innocent girl who was chosen by Riddle's sick mind to become his new victim. She died because Lucius Malfoy decided to plant the diary to get rid of a political rival. 

Harry wished he could have saved her, but he knew that it wasn't really his fault. It's not like he could have done anything differently. If he hadn't gone after Riddle, then the entire school might have suffered the same fate, or maybe Luna would have taken her place, which wasn't really all that better.

Turning away from the infirmary, Harry let out a deep sigh and continued on his way out of the school. It had been a long and exhausting day, filled with confrontations and emotional turmoil. No, this entire school year was filled with confrontations and emotional turmoil.

Harry hoped that it wouldn't be the case for the rest of his school years, yet he knew that this was a vain hope at best. 



I still haven't decided what to do with Hermione. Do I kill her off? Do I have someone save her? Do I leave her stuck in her fake world because she's happy there?

Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.


If you want to support me check out my patréon at https://www.patréon.com/athassprkr

I tend to upload drafts of early chapters on there to get people's opinions of them so you can read up to 20 chapters ahead as a bonus.

Thank you guys for your support in these hard times.

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