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Tip of Your Tongue

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Harry only went to the newly instigated dueling club to laugh at Gilderoy Lockhart. There was a solid chance that Snape was going to send the incompetent defense professor hurtling across the room, and that was one memory Harry could definitely stand to witness a second time.

Expelliarmus,” Snape called clearly, barely moving his wand.

Lockhart didn’t even try to block, and the spell hit him squarely in the chest with a force that nearly put him through the wall.

Beautiful.

“Perhaps,” Snape drawled with a barely concealed eye-roll, “we should first teach students how to block unfriendly attacks?”

“Excellent idea. A demonstration.” Lockhart scanned the crowd, eyes landing firmly on Harry. “Potter, Weasley, get up here.”

Harry sighed, but headed up towards the platform. He figured this would happen, but at least Ron’s wand wasn’t broken the way it was in his memories, and he thankfully wouldn’t have to duel—

“Why don’t we give Potter more of a challenge?” Snape said, stopping Harry in his tracks. “Say…Malfoy?”

Shit, Harry thought as he glared at Snape. He should have known the man would have it out for him. Not that Harry was afraid of dueling Malfoy—compared to some of the shit Harry had been up to lately, Draco was hardly a blip on his radar. But if memory served him right, this could potentially cause some complications.

Nothing for it now, the déjà vu brain said resignedly.

“Scared Potter?” Draco taunted as they faced each other on the platform.

Harry raised a brow, glancing over the other boy dismissively. “Of what?

Ignoring the blond boy’s spluttering, Harry turned and put several paces between them.

“On the count of 3,” Lockhart said, though Harry knew he wouldn’t even get that long. Malfoy, if he was anything at all like the boy from other Harry’s memories, would cheat.

“One.”

Harry tightened the grip on his wand.

I will not stand for us being defeated by a twelve-year-old, the horcrux brain hissed. You will—

What, the déjà vu brain interrupted dryly. Should we kill the boy? That is your usual method, isn’t it?

Shut up, Harry snapped.

“Two.”

Malfoy shouted some spell that Harry could not quite make out, but it didn’t matter. Last year, Voldemort—as Quirrell—had told Harry he ought to learn a shield charm, and he’d taken that suggestion to heart. His body responded automatically, flicking his wand as if he was merely going to bat away the spell.

“Protego,” Harry murmured, the subtle movement of his lips the only sign he’d spoken at all.

Malfoy’s spell glanced off, and Harry fought back a grin. He had to focus.  

All it takes is a split second to win or lose, his déjà vu brain had told him during the hours he’d spent perfecting his shield charm—among other things.

Good advice, that, because Malfoy was casting again, the determination on his face a sure sign that he’d mistaken Harry’s perfect shield charm for a stroke of luck.

Rictusempra,” Malfoy shouted, and Harry didn’t bother casting his shield again because it was still up.

This one hit Harry’s shield and bounced back, returning to Malfoy. The blond was too surprised to dodge it, and the tickling jinx slammed into him, sending him to the floor in barely restrained laughter. It didn’t last long, not even long enough for Harry to cast the disarming charm, because Malfoy snapped, “Finite incantatem,” at himself. And then Snape—always butting in where he didn’t belong, especially when it came to Harry—grabbed Malfoy by the collar and dragged him to his feet.

The sneer on Malfoy’s face was vicious, and Harry knew what was coming.

“With how you’ve fainted in the hallway, Potter, someone might think you’re scared Slytherin will come after you next. Let’s see you handle this! Serpensortia,” the other boy practically snarled.

With a flare of light, a shockingly small, black snake landed on the platform between them. It was thin—about the width of Harry’s thumb—and small enough that it could probably fit in his palm if it curled a bit.

“What?” Malfoy was saying, lip curled as he stared at the unintimidating snake, but Harry hardly noticed.

Pretty, the lizard brain said, cooing over it.

It’s a black adder, the horcrux brain said. A newborn, by the look of it. Vipers are born live, did you know—

Oh good, you’re a snake encyclopedia now, the déjà vu brain drawled.

The horcrux ignored him. Idiot boy probably summoned it straight from its mother’s nest.

Harry felt a little tug in his chest at that but stamped it down. He was not going to talk to the snake. He wasn’t. Even if it had been stolen from its mother and was probably just scared and confused.

“Allow me, Professor Snape,” Lockhart said stepping forward, wand raised. “I’ll get rid of it.”

Harry’s brows raised in alarm. “Um…sir, I don’t think—”

“Alarte ascendale,” Lockhart shouted.

That’s not a real spell, both the horcrux and déjà vu brain said at the same time.

Regardless, the baby snake went flying into the air with a frantic hiss, only to fall back down hard on the platform. Right in front of Harry.

Hurts, hurts, hurts,” the snake hissed, wiggling pathetically and probably making whatever injury it had worse.

Stop,” Harry hissed back before he could stop himself. The snake froze, and turned slowly, tongue flicking in the air as it sought out Harry. “You’re hurt. You’ll make it worse by wiggling around.

The snake tilted its head. “You are snake?

Uh…no—

Big snake. You are mother,” the snake declared, slithering closer.

“Step back, Potter.”

Harry looked up to find Snape standing over him, wand aimed at the snake, eying Harry warily. (Of course he was, because Harry was fucking speaking to snakes in public again. Fuck.) But Harry was close—too close, apparently, for Snape to cast the spell without risking hitting him.

Was it really even a choice?

Harry placed his hand, palm up, directly in front of the little snake. “Come, and I will take you to be healed.

And fed?” the snake asked. Harry laughed, quietly reveling in the growing alarm on Snape’s face. The damage was done now; all Harry could do was try to enjoy

And fed,” Harry promised. The snake slid forward, cool scales warming against his palm. He vaguely remembered somewhere that snakes needed external heat. The poor thing must have been so cold.

“Potter, put the snake down before it bites you,” Snape said.

“No.” Just to be safe, he brought his hands closer to his chest. As if anyone was going to try to take her from me now, he thought dryly. “She’s injured, and she’s a baby, and she thinks I’m her mum. So I’m taking her to Madame Pomfrey.”

The chatter from the surrounding students was like white noise to Harry as he strode from the Great Hall, leaving a dumbstruck Snape behind him.

Here we go again, his déjà vu brain said.

Warm,” the snake hissed happily, curling further into Harry’s palm. He smiled down at her. It was worth it.

 


 

Harry returned to Gryffindor tower with a contented newborn snake still in the palm of his hand.

Had Madame Pomfrey freaked out a bit when Harry asked her to heal a snake? Yes.

But she had done it nonetheless, and when Harry had passed on that the snake—now named Eden, because calling her ‘the snake’ was just unacceptable—was very grateful to the mediwitch for stealing the pain, Madame Pomfrey had looked oddly proud.

“What the hell, Harry?” Ron said the instant he was through the threshold to the common room. “You’re a parselmouth?”

Ah, shit, I forgot to tell them, Harry remembered much too late. Truthfully, he’d kept quite a bit secret lately. It was one think to tell your mates that you often had feelings déjà vu which led you to know things you probably shouldn’t. It was another thing to tell them you had a whole other set of memories from what was probably a parallel universe.

There was only so much insanity you could lay claim to before people started locking you up for it.

“I didn’t know it was going to happen until it did,” Harry said, which was at least partially true. He had planned on not saying anything. “Meet Eden?”

“Harry! Salazar Slytherin was a parselmouth,” Hermione continued. “He was famous for it because not many people can do it.”

“The whole school’s going to think you’re his great-great-grandson or something,” Ron said.

Wait, am I, Harry asked. Because that wasn’t in the Year 2 welcome packet.

Nope, the déjà vu brain said. The whole parselmouth thing is snake-boy’s fault.

The horcrux brain bristled. And the whole paranoia thing is repressed-trauma boy’s fault.

You can fuck right off out of here seeing as a good 67% of it was a direct result of your actions, the déjà vu brain snapped back.

Only 67%? the horcrux said almost sweetly. I clearly wasn’t trying hard enough.

“Harry,” Hermione said, drawing him away from his thoughts. “People are going to think you were behind the Chamber incidents.”

No shit, he thought. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to regret it, looking down at the small black snake in his hand fondly. His lizard brain agreed with Harry’s assessment of Eden if the steady stream of pretty shiny smooth was anything to go by.

Seamus snickered from an armchair in the corner. “Not bloody likely with Harry going around saying the snake calls him mum.”

Before Harry could think to respond—some mix of gratitude and indignation, probably—the door to the common room opened again, McGonagall’s tall form standing in the portrait hole.

“Potter,” the woman said as prim and unruffled as ever. “You’ve been called to the Headmaster’s office.”

Ah fuck, he thought but followed McGonagall out anyway. He’d done a damned good job of avoiding Dumbledore ever since Harry had found out he was a horcrux. Just seeing the headmaster sitting up at the head table at every meal was difficult enough now that he knew Dumbledore was counting on Harry’s death to win the war.

He’s a threat, the horcrux brain whispered. He needs to be dealt with before he kills us.

It was telling that neither Harry nor his déjà vu brain could bring themselves to disagree on that matter, even knowing what the horcrux meant by “dealt with.”

But not today, Harry thought, calming himself. Today, his only objectives were to convince the headmaster to let Harry keep Eden and try to alleviate at least some of the suspicions that he was responsible for the Chamber incidents. It was unrealistic to expect to stop all the speculation, but public opinion could be influenced, and starting with the headmaster was as good a place as any.

The walk to the gargoyle staircase was mercifully quiet, giving Harry the opportunity to collect his thoughts and sketch out a vague game-plan. As always with the Scottish professor, the silence didn’t feel too strained. Not that she wasn’t eying Eden warily from her periphery, but at least she didn’t seem intent on interrogating Harry herself.

The same could not be said for the two people waiting for him in the headmaster’s office.

“Ah, Harry, please sit down,” Dumbledore said, his usual cheer dimmed. As if his robes were reflecting his mood, they were a duller shade of cranberry and not as offensive to the eye as usual. “We have much to discuss, it seems.”

Snape, looming slightly off to the side, just sneered while Harry took a seat.

“Now, Harry—oh.” The headmaster peered down at Harry’s hand. “Is that the snake?”

“This is Eden, sir,” Harry said with cheer he didn’t quite feel, but he had a feeling that appearing more subdued would only put the professors more on edge. He kept his eyes away from Dumbledore’s, just over the headmaster’s left shoulder—it wouldn’t do to tip the man off, and Harry’s imagination was quite vivid at the moment. “She’s a black adder.”

Snape’s eye twitched.

“Eden? You’ve…named the snake?” Dumbledore asked uselessly, discomfort evident.

“It must be released immediately,” Snape cut in. “It’s a danger to the students.”

Harry scoffed. “Adders are barely even venomous—”

“I’m afraid I agree with Professor Snape,” Dumbledore said. “And besides, the creature will be better of in the wild, where it belongs.”

“I doubt that very much, sir.” It was almost surprising to Harry—now that he’d talked to the snake and named her and held her in his hand—how unwilling he was to let Eden go. But then he’d always bonded quickly with animals. “She’s a newborn. I don’t think she’s ever even seen another snake before because she thinks I am one. And it’s winter; she’ll freeze to death if you make her go outside now.”

“Then let it die.”

“Severus,” Dumbledore chided, and then sighed. “There’s still the issue of the threat…Eden poses to the students.”

“She’s not really any more dangerous than a kneazle, sir,” Harry argued. “Or even an owl. Have you seen that beast of a thing Malfoy uses for post? It could take my eyes out with its talons.”

“Harry—”

“Eden’s even safer, actually, since I can talk to her and make sure she knows not to attack anyone. Can you say that about anyone else’s pet?”

“And we’re supposed to trust that you won’t set her on students?” Snape drawled.

“Why would I?” Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes—it wasn’t worth detention. “Even if I wanted to, everyone would know it was me. And besides, it seems inefficient when I have a wand. Sir.”

Snape’s teeth gnashed together. “The letter clearly states you may have a cat, owl, or toad. Not a snake.”

“But Ron’s got a rat. Susan Bones in Hufflepuff has a puffskein. And there’s a Ravenclaw kid who keeps an ant farm.” Harry paused for a moment, ducking his head while he forcibly made his eyes water. He sniffled before meeting Dumbledore’s eyes—just for a second—before returning his gaze to the floor. “Is it…is it because speaking to snakes is bad?”

His voice wobbled at the end, and he could see Dumbledore cracking, his face twisted into some complicated mix of concern and distaste and sadness. Just another little push would do it.

“Because I heard some of the other students whispering that only dark wizards talk to snakes, but I’ve been able to for as long as I can remember.” The words came out rushed, almost panicked, and it was easy to squeeze his eyes just a little, enough to make a single tear drip over the edge. “I thought everyone could do it, I swear.”

“Oh please,” Snape muttered—the man just couldn’t seem to help himself—and Harry put on his best “oh no, my insecurities were right and everyone hates me” face. Accompanied, of course, by a wretched half-sob that was stifled when Harry bit on his bottom lip. His face was undeniably splotchy, eyes red and watery, nose sniffling.

I should get a BAFTA for this, he thought.

He knew he should feel bad about lying, but he didn’t and he hadn’t for some while. Maybe if he hadn’t grown up with the Dursleys where the truth would often get him in even more trouble than whatever lie he spun. Where he’d had to lie to teachers about having a delicate stomach when they asked why his lunch was so sparse—because if he brought suspicion on his aunt and uncle, it would only get worse. Where he’d feigned interest in Mrs. Figg’s six ugly cats and humored her with games of rummy so that she might give him a sweet before sending him back to Number 4.

And now, knowing that the headmaster who was supposed to protect him was planning to send him to his death once he’d worn out his use, Harry figured he didn’t owe the man a damned thing. Not honesty or respect or obedience. And sure as fuck not his life.

Dumbledore shot Snape a look. “Severus, leave us.”

The potions master was eager to go—no doubt pleased to be away from crying children—and a moment later, Harry was left alone with Dumbledore. Well, not quite alone, because a brilliant red bird swooped in from some other part of the office to land on a perch beside the headmaster’s desk.

Dumbledore’s familiar, the déjà vu brain said. A phoenix.

“Sir?” Harry sniffled, making a show of wiping his still-wet eyes on the sleeves of his robe.

Dumbledore smiled fondly at the bird. “Fawkes is a phoenix. I have an affinity for strange creatures myself.”

For a moment, neither of them said anything: Dumbledore because he seemed deep in thought, and Harry because he was waiting for the headmaster to make his next move.

“One act does not make us evil,” Dumbledore said after the silence had stretched almost unbearably. “Nor does one act make us good. We are not defined by a single moment of right or wrong, Harry, but rather the sum of all our choices.”

Save it for a fortune cookie, the déjà vu brain snapped.

Harry shoved down his anger and frustration. He had to keep his focus because this game he was playing against the headmaster—even if the old man hadn’t realized it yet—was as dangerous as any duel. A single mistake could ruin everything. So he had to stay calm.

Dumbledore sighed heavily as he turned his attention back to Harry, and particularly, Eden. “I will permit you to keep the snake, Harry—”

Harry straightened in his seat, his excitement not entirely fabricated. “Oh, thank you sir!”

“—on the condition that she does not attack another student.” Dumbledore leveled him with a severe look. “So much as one incident, accident or not, and you’ll have to get rid of her. I cannot allow my students to come to harm. Is that clear?”

Harry nodded vigorously. “I promise.”

“Good.” Dumbledore’s focus drifted for a moment before he shook his head, a twinkle returning to his eyes. “Well, you’d better run along. I hear the elves are making their famous shepherd’s pie for dinner.”

“Of course, sir.”

Harry stood gracefully, Eden still sleeping in his palm, and exited the office as quickly as he could without making it obvious. Only once he was out in the hallways and far enough away that the gargoyle was out of sight did the tightness in his chest loosen once more. It didn’t, however, alleviate the strange urge he was feeling to just scream.

Fuck, I hate talking to him, Harry thought, even though it had gone well, even though he’d managed to get what he wanted. He’d never felt safe with Dumbledore before, and now…now it was a thousand times worse.

He’s a prejudiced bastard, the horcrux brain spat. You’ll notice that he didn’t try to dissuade you that parseltongue is evil.

Harry had noticed, and if he had truly been a kid worried about whether or not he was going dark, he’d probably try his best to never use that ability again. He’d be ashamed of it and what it could mean, and in turn, that self-loathing and fear would push him right into Dumbledore’s trap: desperate for approval, for someone to tell him how good he was.

Wanker, the déjà vu brain agreed heartily. Then, softer, But don’t worry. We’re not going to let that happen.

Harry took another deep breath and released the last of the tension in his shoulders. His sixth sense would keep him safe. His friends would have his back. And one day, when he was strong enough, he’d make sure Dumbledore got what he deserved.

 


 

Harry couldn’t bear the Gryffindor common room that evening. The whispers were too loud and eyes seemed to follow his every move. It didn’t help that he had carried Eden around. He didn’t trust the other students with her, especially not in the house that boasted its hatred of snakes.

Ron, Harry, and, somewhat surprisingly, Neville had all retired to their dorm early on and had eventually agreed on a game of exploding snap. It was…it was actually really nice. Ron was as loud as usual, and though Neville was shy, he opened up more as the game progressed. And neither of them were treating Harry differently than usual.

“She’s lovely,” Neville said, complimenting Eden a bit hesitantly. Harry had gotten a mouse from the owlery for her, and she was now lounging on a pillow, stomach bulged with her recent meal and happy. The other boy paused a moment more, and then seemed to steel his nerves. “Could…could you ask her not to eat Trevor?”

Ron’s eyes widened. “Bugger. I forgot…and Scabbers?”

Harry tried not to grimace at the rat’s name, but he wasn’t sure how successful he was. Still, he nodded and turned to the snake on his arm.

Eden,” Harry hissed to catch her attention. Her head poked up in his direction. “You are not allowed to eat any of our nest mates. That includes a toad and a rat that live in the room with us.

I already ate,” she hissed back, confused.

You can’t eat them later either.”

She bobbed her head. “Good choice, mother. The toad is too big. I would choke. And I would never eat the rat. It smells wrong and bad, not like the yummy mouse.

Harry froze. “What do you mean the rat smells wrong?

A rat should smell like a rat,” Eden said. “I do not like how this one smells.”

Harry wasn’t sure whether this was another case of Eden’s lack of experience in the world, or if he should be concerned.

Although, considering he had an urge to throw Scabbers off the astronomy tower, perhaps he already was concerned.

I don’t like the rat either,” Harry finally said. “We should keep an eye on him.”

This confused her. “Why do we stalk it if not to eat?

To that, Harry had only one answer.

In case it is a threat.”

 


 

Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the disastrous dueling club, the entire school was buzzing with news about Harry Potter, snake-speaker. Every pair of eyes seemed trained on him as he entered the Great Hall, and Harry could only be glad that at least the winter hols were coming up. Most of the students would return home for 2 weeks, and if he was very lucky, rumors about him would die down by the start of next term.

Of course, that did nothing for the rumors circling about him now. And they were truly absurd.

“I heard it was a two-meter king cobra,” one of the Hufflepuffs said not very subtly, Harry catching the gossip as he passed. “And that he threatened Professor Snape with it.”

“Potter’s an unregistered animagus, and he’s got a snake form. That’s why he can talk to them.”

“Parseltongue is a family trait. What if Potter is You-Know-Who’s secret son?”

One, at least, was a little too close to the truth.

“Harry Potter won some of You-Know-Who’s power through conquest when he defeated him as a baby,” a Ravenclaw girl with white-blonde hair was saying, her voice light and airy. No one seemed to be paying her any mind, though the girl didn’t appear to notice. Wide, silvery-blue eyes locked onto Harry for a moment, and she smiled.

Friend, the lizard brain said.

Luna. The déjà vu brain’s voice was fond.

Keep an eye on that one, the horcrux brain added.

Unsurprisingly, the Slytherin table was quiet for the most part, their watchfulness more reserved and discrete than some of the other houses. What was surprising, however, was how much Draco’s superiority complex and one-sided rivalry with Harry was actually benefiting him right now.

“Potter?” Malfoy said loudly enough to be heard halfway across the hall. “The heir of Slytherin? As if. No way could he pull it off. And besides, he’s a blood traitor. You see the sort he wastes his time with. No one could tolerate pretending to like Weasley and Granger for so long.”

“Is Malfoy…accidentally clearing your name?” Hermione had to ask once they were seated at the Gryffindor table.

“Wonderful, isn’t it?” Harry said cheerfully, smearing jam over his toast. “I’m sure he thinks he’s slandering me, but I’m not going to tell him.”

Ron and Hermione shook their heads in agreement.

“I mean, he fainted at the first sight of blood.” Malfoy kept going, unaware of the unimpressed looks the rest of his house was giving him. “You seriously think he—” and here he gestured with both his hands at Harry, drawing a truly unnecessary amount of attention “—is going to attack anyone? He wouldn’t even duel me properly.”

“How he got into Slytherin…sometimes I wonder,” Harry mused. “Anyway. Since Herbology’s going to be cancelled because of the blizzard, what do you want to do this morning?”

 


 

Despite the high he’d been riding from a cancelled Herbology class and playing in the snow, Harry’s good cheer didn’t last through lunch because Justin Finch-Fletchley had been found petrified in an empty hallway.

This was worrying on two counts.

The first being that in other Harry’s memories, Sir Nicholas had also been found petrified alongside the Hufflepuff, but this time Sir Nicholas hadn’t even been in the same part of the castle. Justin should have been dead without having a ghost to diffuse the basilisks glare, but he wasn’t.

The second issue was, of course, the fact that nobody should have been attacked at all because Harry had the bloody diary.

What the fuck, the déjà vu brain said emphatically.

Harry couldn’t help but agree.

 


 

He didn’t know if he was more relieved or concerned to find that the protective spells he’d put on his trunk hadn’t been tampered with, and that Tom Riddle’s diary was exactly where he’d left it. On one hand, that meant that Ginny hadn’t gotten her hands on the diary again, and neither had anyone else.

On the other hand, this could be really, really bad news.

Would I even know if I was being possessed, he wondered. He suspected not, or at least that it wouldn’t be obvious.

You’re not being possessed, you twit, the horcrux brain said, exasperated.

That was possibly worse news. Because at least with the whole possession thing, he could just not write in the diary anymore, send it off to his Gringotts account for safekeeping. He could fix that.

But what if the diary could control the basilisk without needing to possess anyone?

No. He disregarded the idea almost immediately. Because if that were true, Tom wouldn’t have needed Ginny to write to him. He wasn’t corporeal until he’d almost killed her. I doubt he has the power for it yet.

But if you needed to be a parselmouth to control the basilisk, and preferably an actual heir of Slytherin, that really limited who could be responsible. Harry was the only parselmouth—aside from Voldemort—that he knew.

(It did occur to him briefly that Voldemort himself could be responsible, but since the man hadn’t utilized the basilisk at all when he was in the castle all of last year, that seemed unlikely.)

If they’re smart, they won’t go advertising the fact, the horcrux brain said pointedly.

So there could be another parselmouth, Harry reasoned. Maybe Voldemort did have a secret kid—

Absolutely not, the horcrux brain said, voice firm and unyielding.

No, but another horcrux could do the same, couldn’t it, the déjà vu brain said. Possess someone into opening the Chamber? Control the basilisk?

And now the horcrux brain was offended. If you’re suggesting that I would—

Well, you are part of the same soul, who’s to say you don’t want to finish what you started—

My 16 year-old self was an attention seeking little shit who wanted to impress the old families and be worshipped by his peers. Killing mudbloods was never a personal philosophy.

Harry had to cut in before it devolved into an unmanageable argument. I’m glad to hear that, he said, placating the extra soul-piece in his brain. But the horcrux idea is a good one. Was the diadem the only one in the school?

Yeah, but that means jack shit, the déjà vu brain said. One of the others could have found a way in just like the diary, though I don’t know how.

Ultimately, though, it wasn’t much help. Even with the déjà vu and horcrux brains identifying the three remaining horcruxes—with visuals, so Harry would know them when he saw them—the fact remained that if any of them were in Hogwarts, they could be literally anywhere in the school. Harry could only sense them in close proximity, and methodically searching from dungeon to tower wasn’t efficient.

He sighed.

He was going to need help.

 


 

“Let me get this straight,” Ron said, hours later (and past curfew) when he, Harry, and Hermione snuck out to their favorite abandoned classroom for a chat. “Voldemort blasted his soul to bits to make sure he couldn’t die and then accidentally put one into you when you were a baby. And then more or less died anyway.”

“Yes.”

Useless, the horcrux brain sneered as it always did when confronted with his downfall.

“And Dumbledore already suspects this,” Ron continued, “and knows there’s a good chance you’d have to die if he wants to permanently kill Voldemort. Which he fully intends for you to do, according to your sixth sense.”

“Yes.”

“And on top of that, the attacks are still happening, possibly because of a different horcrux, which will be incredibly difficult to track down if there is one in the castle.”

Harry nodded gravely. “That about sums it up, yeah.”

“Fuck.” Ron dragged his hands through his hair. “Fuck.”

“Let’s not forget the fact that you apparently have a full set of memories for this year that are clearly not from our timeline,” Hermione pointed out, eyes narrowed in accusation.

Harry winced. He’d had to fess up about his memory flood to explain everything else fully, and his friends were a little upset. Not because he was a freak even by wizarding standards.

(“Harry,” Ron had said. “You survived a killing curse as a baby, centaurs think you’ve got some grand destiny, and you might be the thestrals’ overlord. I don’t think either Hermione or I are going to be shocked when normal doesn’t apply to you.”)

They were upset because he hadn’t told them. Because he hadn’t trusted them with this part of himself, hadn’t thought they would accept him.

When are you going to realize that you can trust them with everything? his déjà vu brain asked.

“It would be far easier to keep a watch out for anyone acting suspiciously, or differently than usual,” Hermione said after a moment. When both of the boys gave her blank looks, she rolled her eyes. “If the horcrux is possessing them, it’ll show. We all saw how withdrawn Ginny was. Now that we’re aware of the side effects, we should be able to narrow down the list of who’s potentially being affected.”

“It’s a start,” Harry said. It was certainly better than scouring the whole castle, but there would be a lot of guesswork involved. He just hoped they would find whoever was responsible before anyone else got petrified.

Or worse.