Professor Binns was looking at her in such amazement.
"Well," said Professor Binns slowly, "yes, one could argue that, I suppose." He peered at
Hermione as though he had never seen a student properly before. "However, the legend of which you speak is such a very sensational, even ludicrous tale —"
But the whole class was now hanging on Professor Binns's every word. He looked dimly at them all, every face turned to his.
"Oh, very well," he said slowly. "Let me see...the Chamber of Secrets... You all know, of course, that Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago, the precise date is uncertain, by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age. The four school Houses are named after them: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. They built this castle together, far from prying Muggle eyes, for it was an age when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution."
He paused, gazed blearily around the room, and continued.
"For a few years, the founders worked in harmony together, seeking out youngsters who showed signs of magic and bringing them to the castle to be educated. But then disagreements sprang up between them. A rift began to grow between Slytherin and the others. Slytherin wished to be more selective about the students admitted to Hogwarts. He believed that magical learning should be kept within all-magic families. He disliked taking students of Muggle parentage, believing them to be untrustworthy. After a while, there was a serious argument on the subject between Slytherin and Gryffindor, and Slytherin left the school."
Professor Binns paused again, pursing his lips, looking like a wrinkled old tortoise.
"Reliable historical sources tell us this much," he said. "But these honest facts have been obscured by the fanciful legend of the Chamber of Secrets. The story goes that Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing. Slytherin, according to the legend, sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic."
There was silence as he finished telling the story, but it wasn't the usual, sleepy silence that filled Professor Binns's classes. There was unease in the air as everyone continued to watch him, hoping for more. Professor Binns looked faintly annoyed.
"The whole thing is arrant nonsense, of course," he said. "Naturally, the school has been searched for evidence of such a chamber, many times, by the most learned witches and wizards. It does not exist. A tale told to frighten the gullible."
Hermione's hand was back in the air.
"Sir — what exactly do you mean by the 'horror within' the Chamber?"
"That is believed to be some sort of monster, which the Heir of Slytherin alone can control,"
said Professor Binns in his dry, reedy voice.
The class exchanged nervous looks.
"I tell you, the thing does not exist," said Professor Binns, shuffling his notes. "There is no Chamber and no monster."
"But, sir," said Seamus Finnigan, "if the Chamber can only be opened by Slytherin's true heir, no one else would be able to find it, would they?"
"Nonsense, O'Flaherty," said Professor Binns in an aggravated tone. "If a long succession of Hogwarts headmasters and headmistresses haven't found the thing —"
"But, Professor," piped up Parvati Patil, "you'd probably have to use Dark Magic to open it-"
"Just because a wizard doesn't use Dark Magic doesn't mean he can't, Miss Pennyfeather," snapped Professor Binns. "I repeat, if the likes of Dumbledore –"
"But maybe you've got to be related to Slytherin, so Dumbledore couldn't-" began Dean Thomas, but Professor Binns had had enough.
"That will do," he said sharply. "It is a myth! It does not exist! There is not a shred of evidence that Slytherin ever built so much as a secret broom cupboard! I regret telling you such a foolish story! We will return, if you please, to history, to solid, believable, verifiable fact!"
"Just because there is no factual evidence, doesn't mean it's real," interrupted Arth. "in fact, just because there are facts, doesn't mean that they are true either."
"What do you mean by that Mr-"
"Kingscrown. And to answer your question, I'm saying that history books often tell lies."
"Impossible! How could they-"
"Who are the people who write history books?"
"People who are highly respectable and would not tarnish the great history of wizard kind on a whim-"
"Who got these historians to write? They need to at least have support if they want to write. Especially in the old days where power was law."
"People who were obviously influential at the time-"
"Would these influential people like it if what the historians wrote portrayed them as evil? Merciless? As a bad ruler?"
Professor Binns froze in shock.
"Well?" Arth said teasingly.
"O-of course not! They would not like to hear such words, however-"
"Since these historians are under the these people, would they offend their superiors for expressing the truth or write false tales of their greatness in order to curry favor?"
Professor Binns- ...
Everyone else- ...
For the first time since two years ago, the teacher pet duo, who would never interrupt while teaching, decided to go a bit rogue.