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As the days went by, more and more students would cast their names into the Goblet of Fire which sat in the center of the hall on the stool that normally bore the Sorting Hat. A thin golden line had been traced on the floor, forming a circle ten feet around it in every direction.
Whenever you went downstairs into the great hall, countless people milling around the artifact, some hesitant of throwing their name into the lot and others just deciding to examine the Goblet of Fire for now.
"Anyone new put their name in today?" Harry asked his friends as he took a seat at the Hogwarts table. It was interesting to see that all four houses were together in one place after that food fight it was like the ice was broken between everyone as you could see students from different houses chatting with each other.
For example, Susan Bones who was on his left replied, "Yes, I think by now the whole Durmstrang lot cast their names!"
"I heard that only one person from Koldovstoretz cast their name in, that Russia Princess. Other than that no one else seem to dare try to compete with her," Lavender Brown spoke up, making it clear what she thought of that with the way her face twisted up in disgust.
Someone's laughter came from behind Harry. Turning around, he saw Fred, George, and Lee Jordan hurrying into the great hall, all three of them looking extremely excited.
"Done it," Fred said in a triumphant whisper to Harry and his friends seated next to him. "Just taken it."
"Done what?" Tracey Davis asked as she looked up at them with a raised eyebrow.
"The Aging Potion, dung brains," said Fred.
"One drop each," said George, rubbing his hands together with glee. "We only need to be a few months older."
"We're going to split the ten thousand Galleons reward between the three of us if one of us wins," said Lee, grinning broadly.
"I'm not sure this is going to work, you know," said Hermione warningly "I'm sure Dumbledore will have thought of this." Fred, George, and Lee ignored her.
"You won't be able to stop their foolhardy plans," Harry shook his head as he smiled in amusement. It was a daily routine for them to try something new to get past the aging line which prevented anyone under 17 to pass underneath it.
"Hey," George said, "you gave us this idea!"
Giving him a pointed stare, Hermione didn't need to say anything to show her disappointment.
"What, they were getting desperate and it might work!" he shrugged his shoulders as he took a bite of his breakfast.
"Or they might be stuck as old men forever," Blaise Zabini chuckled darkly.
Ignoring his comment, Fred called out to the other two, quivering with excitement, "Ready?"
With nods of heads all around, he uttered, "Then, I'll go first!"
Harry watched as Fred pulled a slip of parchment out of his pocket bearing the words Fred Weasley �� Hogwarts. He wasn't the only pair of eyes on him as everyone paused to see what he was up to again.
Fred walked right up to the edge of the line and stood there, rocking on his toes like a diver preparing for a fifty-foot drop. Then, with the eyes of every person in the entrance hall upon him, he took a great breath and stepped over the line.
For a split second Harry thought it had worked — George certainly thought so, for he let out a yell of triumph and leapt after Fred — but next moment, there was a loud sizzling sound, and both twins were hurled out of the golden circle as though they had been thrown by an invisible shot-putter.
They landed painfully, ten feet away on the cold stone floor, and to add insult to injury, there was a loud popping noise, and both of them sprouted identical long white beards.
The entrance hall rang with laughter. Even Fred and George joined in, once they had gotten to their feet and taken a good look at each other's beards.
"I did warn you," said a deep, amused voice, and everyone turned to see Professor Dumbledore entering the Great Hall. He surveyed Fred and George, his eyes twinkling. "I suggest you both go up to Madam Pomfrey. She is already tending to Miss Fawcett, of Ravenclaw, and Mr. Summers, of Hufflepuff, both of whom decided to age themselves up a little too. Though I must say, neither of their beards is anything like as fine as yours."
Fred and George set off for the hospital wing, accompanied by Lee, who was howling with laughter, and Harry along side everyone Great hall also chortling and then went back to their breakfast.
The decorations in the Great Hall had changed up with Halloween approaching fast and the time for the champions to be chosen by the Goblet nearing there was a change of atmosphere. A cloud of enchanted bats was fluttering around the ceiling free roof of the great hall, while hundreds of carved pumpkins leered from every corner.
The ghosts within the castle seem to be especially in a happy mood with Samhain approaching as this was the season after all that the veil between life and death was weakest.
Harry and his friends picked up their conversation where they left it as Fred and George made their exit out of the great hall.
"There's a rumor going around that Matteo got up early yesterday and in the dead of night put his name in," Parvati Patil gossiped.
"That bloke from Slytherin who was one of the semi-finalists?" Harry asked to which he got a nod of confirmation.
"We can't have a Slytherin champion!" Fay Dunbar loudly declared.
"What is there something wrong with a Hogwarts champion from Slytherin?" Daphne asked with a raised eyebrow. "Because I will have you know it was when there was a Slytherin champion that Hogwarts gained its most wins!"
"There is talk about Diggory casting his name inside Hufflepuffs," Susan cut in, being wise in the fact in knowing when things could turn to bad, so she quickly changed the topic.
"Hey look," Neville called out.
People were cheering as Angelina Johnson, a tall black girl who played Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team cast her name. She grinning in an embarrassed sort of way as she turned around to face the whooping and cheering crowd.
Quickly she came over to them, sat down, and said, "Well, I've done it! Just put my name in!"
"So you are seventeen, then?" Colin Creevey asked eagerly, clutching his camera in his hand, clearly wanting to take a picture.
"I had my birthday last week," said Angelina.
"Well, I'm glad someone from Gryffindor's entering," said Hermione. "I really hope you get it, Angelina!"
"Thanks, Hermione," said Angelina, smiling at her.
"You know who would have been a better choice?" Ginny asked everyone seated nearby.
"Who?" Harry asked, as he was first to bite.
"You," the red head said as she stared up at him.
"Me," Harry voiced, "why on earth would I be the champion?!"
"You did win the Duelling tournament," Luna answered in her sing-song voice.
"True," Lavender gushed to which Parvati giggled, "I still can not forget how manly and powerful you were!"
"You can be so dense at times," Daphne rolled her eyes, one she saw he wasn't getting the full picture. "You are the most powerful wizard in Hogwarts! If we want to win this tournament, only our best would do because that is what the other school would give. Their all!"
"Even I got to admit I do not hold a candle to your power," Angelina admitted.
"Well I can't enter now," Harry shrugged his shoulder, "I am not 17!"
"What're are you guys going to do today, then?" Hermione asked to change the topic. Today was Saturday the start of the weekend and they were looking two free days.
"I got something special planned," Harry made his intention known alongside everyone else as he glanced at Daphne from the corner of her eye.
While everyone was starting to get along some still found it a hard pill to swallow, dining with their once hated enemies and competitors.
One prime example was those scowling to themselves in a section of the table and those who needed to undermine everything.
"Daphne," a cool voice spoke up. Turning around Harry saw that it was Theodore Nott, a Slytherin in the same year as him, he of course had some goons shadowing him. A staple mark for all idiots, Harry guessed, really can't do anything on their own.
"I thought better of you, but here you are consorting with mudbloods, blood traitors, cowards, and half breeds!"
Harry heard plenty of angry growls from his friends at the pure insult directed at them, even Neville who wasn't the violent sort was ready to take out his wand.
"What do you want, Nott," Daphne asked with eyes that narrowed into slits as she used her napkin to daintily wipe at her mouth.
"You can find better company with me, I already am to be dining with some of our own from Koldovstoretz and Durmstrang!"
Before Daphne could speak up, Harry cut in, "for someone who is about to lose everything in the fiery crucible of war, you sure seem fine. If I were you I would make myself gone or be begging on my knees for forgiveness and mercy!" he barked out harshly.
Finally turning to face him, the blank eye boy gave him his full attention, "What is there to worry about. I will make easy sort of you, and prove why we of pure blood our superior to half breeds like you! I will make sure...."
"That is plenty enough," Daphne cut in, "and no, I shall not be dining with you. That honor is only for my betrothal."
"You are engaged," the Slytherin asked as his face showed something beyond disdain and coolness.
"Yes," she said as she faced Harry, making obvious who it was.
Walking down the long winding hallways of the castle, Harry caught sight of his target.
Daphne continued walking along the passageways unaware of her silent follower. She was going directly towards the Slytherin dorm, which suited Harry just fine, as the road she took had several unused classrooms, giving him appropriate space to surprise her.
When she turned towards a quiet hallway, he quickened his steps and silently came upon her.
"Hello, dear," he whispered to her as she wrapped his hands around her waist.
Daphne froze at first as he saw her quickly draw out her wand in a flash, but she caught his familiar scent as he dropped kisses along the hollow of her neck, she eased, but that didn't mean she didn't give him some tongue lashing.
"Potter!" she exclaimed in annoyance, though she did go ahead and stop him from lavishing her with smooth, warm kisses. "You had the jump on me! What would you have done, mmm, if I fired in my alarm."
"No harm was done," he murmured in between planting kisses on her. "Anyways, what going on between you and Nott?" he asked.
"Ahh, that fool," she said, "he thinks he has a chance with me. He has been pursuing me since we were children. Creepy I know, right," she said once she caught him slightly raise one of his eyebrows from the corner of her eyes.
"Anyways are you ready for my surprise!?" Harry asked, changing up the topic.
Felling her shiver underneath him, he chuckled, "Not that kind of surprise, but I wouldn't mind arranging it," he added, his tone joking.
"Of course, I knew that," she said in anger as she pushed him off of her. "Now I wasted plenty of my time today meeting up with you, I could have been getting to know our foreign guests and making some connections!"
"Fine, Fine," Harry said as he grabbed her hand. "Come follow him, and I will lead to somewhere that will shock you."
"Oh," he said as if he seem to remember something. Taking his wand out, Harry conjured a blindfold and handed it to her.
"Here put it on, this is a surprise after all!"
Sighing, Daphne took the blindfold from him forcefully and did as he told her to, "This better be worth my time, Harry James Potter! Or else..."
"Oh, it will be so worth it," he said as he lead her to the surprise.
Coming to the girl's bathroom, he was happy to note that Myrtle was away, as he wasn't looking forward to explaining to that creepy ghost about why he was leading a blindfolded person into the girl's bathroom.
"I'm sure you're wondering what this it is all about, but don't worry," he whispered to her, "soon, very soon you should get some answers and it will be so worth it!"
With that, he leaned towards a specific sink, with a stylized snake on the side. "Open," he hissed, and the sink collapsed, leaving a huge gap behind.
"What was that?" Daphne asked as she caught the noise.
"Nothing," Harry answered as he looked down at the long slide that lead down to the Chamber of Secrets!
However before he threw himself down the slide, it occurred to him that Tom Riddle hadn't been a guy that would appreciate sliding down like a little child nor would Salazar Slytherin.
"Stairs," he said in Parseltongue trying his luck to see if it would, and then the entrance shifted into a grand stairwell with torches on both sides, adding a certain cool lighting to the space. It would be a lie if he claimed he wasn't taken in by how impressive it all was.
Harry wasn't in a particular hurry as he climbed down the stairs, with Daphne still blindfold and counting on him to lead the way. They walked down the staircase until they finally came to the secret hiding chamber proper.
"I guess now you can look," he said as he removed the blindfold from her face.
He looked at Daphne's face, which was curious but mostly bland slowly transform into an expression of total shock. He couldn't help smiling as her eyes widened in shock as she took in everything.
"So, Daphne," he asked cheerfully. "How do you feel to be the first Slytherin in so long to be walk in the Chamber of Secrets built by your precious house founder long ago?!"
"How... when... what...." Many words spilled out of her but none really made any sense, but he could understand her underlying shock and awe in being inside the fabled legendary chamber of secrets.
This must be the stuff that all little snakes grow up on in the Slytherin house, fed to them like mother's milk.
"It's all your," Harry waved his hands around the place. "I give it to you, make this place your own. Maybe a library, training room, secret gathering place, or even a love making nest," he added with a cheeky grin.
"Did you ever go exploring here?" Daphne suddenly asked as she gazed around the place with its many tall pillars with serpents etched on it.
"No, not really," Harry answered as he looked in the spot where the Basisilk used to lay before the goblins came to collect it. They were also kind enough to dust this place up as it wasn't as wet and dusty as before with everything shinning a lustrous glow.
"Where is your sense of adventure and discover?" the Greengrass heir asked him in a mocking tone. "Are you sure you are a Gryffindor?" she asked, poking fun at him.
"Oh-hohoh," Harry said, "I will show you how Gryffindor I am," as he picked her up with ease to her squeals of delight.
There really wasn't much here, just a large empty space here, you could literally fit the Great Hall in here but other than that there was nothing of not.
There was the serpents etched on pillars that opened wide their mouths which the basilisk did use to come down to face him. However there lead to dead end as there was only bones of creatures that the giant creature hunted over the long years.
What did draw his attention was the giant head of Salazar Slytherin in the middle of the chamber. Coming before it, he ran his finger along it but got nothing, stepping back in annoyance he was just about to walk away until he felt the locket he kept around light up.
Taking it off of his neck where he usually kept it to be alerted when he came into close contact with the other Horcruxes. He held it up, Daphne must have picked up on the disturbance because she came over and asked, "What is wrong."
"I don't know," Harry answered as just then the locket flew out of his grasp, not before it somehow nicked him and drew blood, and flew up to the head. Taking a sharp intake of breath in surprise as he shook his hand, suddenly there was a loud click and then the mouth of the statue begin to open.
"I think you must have unlocked something," Daphne stated the obvious.
"Well you were looking for an adventure," he said as he held out his hand for her which she took and they both entered beyond.
Daphne was kind enough to cast a lumos spell to light up the place so that they could see. However that was not needed as somehow wizard lights came on which allowed them to see clearly.
What lead beyond could only be described as a treasure trove!
Galleon, Sickle, and Knut lead about every where carelessly like it wasn't worth anything. There were piles upon piles of them laying there that each cast their own illustrious glow.
There were shelves upon shelves of countless strange and magical items that he did not even know what they were or could do. Books abound that contained powerful secret knowdgle. Potions that glowered with their powerful magic.
And so much more that it would take a life time to talk about them all!
"This can't be," Daphne whispered, "the lost family vault of the Slytherin house!"