Ashes of Chaos Chapter 46
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Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 2: The Sacrificial Slytherin
Chapter 29: Two More Pieces Left to Fall
April 2, 1993
The Restricted Section
Much of the Hogwarts library was often in a lowly-lit state. The large windows allowed copious amounts of light to flow into the vast room, casting a blend of light and shadows over the portion of the room nearest the windows in question. Even the deep recesses of the library — far enough away from the window for no sunlight to intrude upon them — were lit by the soft light of torches that was present in so much of the immense, ancient castle.
At night, it was different, especially in the much smaller, far less travelled sector of the library.
Curfew had been in effect for a number of hours, and the cavernous room was completely quiet and void of any and all light. The silvery, luminescent light of the moon — which was nearing the end of its monthly cycle — would have cast small pools of light in the room, but the windows were veiled by dark, heavy curtains. The soft glow of torches was non-existent, for they had been snuffed out with the arrival of curfew some time earlier.
All was quiet and not a soul was present.
Until a bookshelf noiselessly slid forward and the floorspace it had occupied suddenly slid aside with it, allowing a small, dark figure to pull themselves up through a hidden trapdoor that had barely been used in a great many years.
Harry had thought his knowledge of the castle was expansive. He was pretty sure that, outside of the Weasley twins, their friend Lee Jordan, and perhaps a few other exceptions, he was the most knowledgeable person as to the many secrets the castle seemed to guard with the protectiveness and fervor of an old woman hiding a secret, family recipe she had developed decades earlier. Perhaps some of the professors knew more of these secrets than him, too, but Harry couldn’t be sure.
The point was, he knew a lot about the castle. Far more than most students ever knew, anyway.
This fact was very true, but it hadn’t changed the truth of the last few days. During that time, he had been forced to accept that he didn’t know quite as much about the ancient castle as he had believed. At least, he didn’t know quite as many of its secrets as he thought. Far more of them had remained hidden than he could have ever imagined, though they had by now been made known to him by the beauties of the Marauder’s Map.
That’s what the glorious piece of parchment left in the alcove on the second floor seemed to be called, anyway.
It had been lying face up when Harry had seen it, but he had immediately ascertained its use and he hadn’t hesitated for a second in swiping it. He had a strange feeling it had belonged to the Weasley twins, though he suspected they hadn’t created it. It wasn’t known where they had been attacked, but that seemed as good a place as any. It actually made sense, from a strategic standpoint. An ambush right as they were exiting the alcove Harry had found the map in. It was very possible that the Heir of Slytherin had simply never investigated the alcove and thereby never found the map.
There was a part of him that found this odd, particularly if Emily Riddle was indeed responsible for the string of disappearances that had befallen the castle this year. Voldemort had known about the alcove last year. It had in fact been her who had shown it to Harry all that time ago. Perhaps the Heir had simply overlooked the alcove?
By now, Harry had come to the conclusion that if Voldemort was indeed the Heir of Slytherin, it was most likely another was doing her bidding and that she herself wasn’t acting directly. She had been forced to occupy the body of another last school year, and she had left that final altercation down in the catacombs worse even than she had entered it. Harry had no idea why she would all of a sudden be capable of opening the Chamber of Secrets on her own once more, so he suspected a third party. If this was true, it also explained why they likely hadn’t investigated the alcove, which only added credence to the theory, in Harry’s opinion.
The Heir must not have seen the map, and they certainly would have had they investigated the passage. Nobody would have left that tool just lying there, ripe for the taking. It would have been utter madness to waste such a potentially useful object.
Ever since finding the map, Harry had spent a great deal of time studying it. So many passages were found and noted by its creators that he had never been aware that he was sure there were even more that had eluded even the Marauders. Still, their knowledge of the castle was exceedingly impressive, and Harry could only assume they had been very near the end of their Hogwarts education by the time they had created it. Not only was the magic involved likely advanced to the point of being impossible for him to currently comprehend, but he couldn’t see any other way they would have gained so much advanced knowledge about the castle. He’d spent more time than any he knew investigating its vast halls, and the knowledge they had accumulated but his own to shame.
Hell, he had perhaps spent even more time exploring than the Weasley twins. They might have actually known very little about the castle. If they had this map, it wasn’t exactly as though knowledge of their own was overly necessary.
When studying the map, he had noticed a secret passage leading into the heart of the Restricted Section. One that was particularly well-hidden and one he was fairly confident in saying likely hadn’t been found nor used in some time. Judging by the excessive amounts of dust present in the dark passageway, he assumed his earlier assumptions had been very much correct.
He’d spent much of the year lamenting his failure to take advantage of the pass he’d had last year granting him access to the Restricted Section. Especially now, while hunting down the Heir of Slytherin. There had been a brief time not long before finding the map when he had considered sneaking into the shadier section of the library, but he knew there to be wards. He had a feeling those wards would probably alert Madam Pince and maybe others to his unwelcome presence. He had no idea how to take down wards yet, so that was a problem. Even if he did, he assumed taking down the Hogwarts wards would be utterly impossible. Many said they were the very best in the country, if not the world.
Once he had seen the passage on the map, he had leapt on the opportunity, and this was how he found himself stepping up and out of the trapdoor, watching the bookshelf slide noiselessly back into place as he cast his eyes around the ominously dark and shady shelves that towered up all around him.
He needed two things.
Questionable and powerful magic that might help him in his crusade against the Heir of Slytherin, and some sort of spell that might help him learn more about the map’s nature.
He still hadn’t gotten it to wipe itself clean of the intricate display it showed. He was sure it could, for any with the capability to create such a thing obviously understood the need for subtlety. There was probably a password, or something. He needed a spell to help him devise exactly what that was, and any other potential facets of the map.
He would need every advantage he could get in whatever was to come, for he had a feeling the end of this deadly dance was drawing near.
When everything inevitably went to hell, he needed to be ready.
April 11, 1993
The Speaker’s Den
Harry stared with great concern as the snake which had slithered its way into the Slytherin common room finished its report.
It had subtly drawn Harry’s attention and been taken into the Den, at which point it relayed the messages from its brothers, many of whom had been tasked with tailing Charlus and Hermione in an effort to ascertain anything they might know that he didn’t.
Thus far, his efforts had been fruitless.
He did know that the same night he had found the Marauder’s Map — which he still had yet to figure out the workings of — they had exited the Forbidden Forest visibly shaken. After his own brief stint in the forest near the end of his first year, Harry wasn’t terribly surprised, though he did wonder intensely what they had been in there for. He considered it pure idiocy to willingly venture into those woods. Then again, his brother had never exactly been full of common sense. Granger was at least intelligent though, despite all of her other flaws. He would have thought she would have pointed out what was wrong with strolling casually into an area occupied by an unspecified number of inevitably dangerous things.
She obviously hadn’t, which just as obviously meant they felt they had needed to venture into the forest.
Why, he still didn’t know.
His brother had apparently chosen a very inconvenient time to suddenly sprout a brain. Harry actually found it quite annoying. He hadn’t let anything slip as far as the snakes could tell, and they had tailed him everywhere they could. This meant that he was likely only speaking about sensitive matters in very out of the way places, or while protected by some fairly powerful privacy wards. The Muffliato spell was a likely candidate, if Harry had to bet.
All of that might have sounded obvious, but Harry also hadn’t forgotten how the idiot had blabbed about his entire Polyjuice plan while Myrtle listened into the whole thing. He wasn’t exactly known for subtlety, and Harry was frankly annoyed he had chosen now of all times to start being subtle.
His brother really did just have an innate talent for pissing Harry off, even when he wasn’t trying to.
It was vaguely impressive, in an oddly warped and infuriating sort of way.
In the end, he could do little more than tell his snakes to keep searching. If nothing continued to turn up, he would have to look into alternative methods of prying Charlus’s secrets from him.
April 16, 1993
An Abandoned Classroom
A pale boy with dark hair leant back in his chair, looking over those who he viewed as being beneath him with cold, hard indifference, mixed with no small bit of defiance.
“You’re… sure this isn’t too far?” one of his associates asked. “If they ever find out what we’re doing—”
“They won’t,” the head figure said from his chair, his snap of a voice cutting across one of his several accomplices with ruthless efficiency. “Leave that up to me, Jugson. I have it all under control.” Marcus Jugson — Slytherin seventh year and Alex Jugson’s older brother — shut his mouth in a hurry and nodded.
“This is… a lot,” another pointed out.
“Sometimes,” said the lead figure, a sort of twisted, sadistic smile adorning his regal-looking face, “extremism is needed to solve extremely irritating problems.”
No one dared argue with him any further.
April 20, 1993
A Room in the Dungeons
By the time Harry and Charlotte concluded their session that Tuesday evening, both of them were practically slumped against their desks. Charlotte due to the rigorous routine and mock duel Harry had subjected her to, and Harry from spending the last number of minutes trying to control and guide his Legilimency probe, something he was still struggling with.
Since their first lesson, Charlotte had come a long way in duelling. Her defence still wasn’t quite up to par with her offence. She had long since mastered the Protego Shield, though spell deflection was still very much beyond her. Harry had a feeling she wouldn’t be mastering that this year, and that it might be a project for her second year more so than her first. She also just seemed more predisposed to attacking, as her offensive instincts were far greater than her defensive ones.
But she was improving.
As was Harry in Legilimency. He could now partially guide a probe, though he could do so with zero subtlety and very questionable consistency. It turned out that being a Natural Legilimens didn’t make controlling the ability any easier. Just that you could do it and had the potential to go further. He really should have gleaned that from Charlotte’s troubles much earlier in the year but though he did of course remember them, it seemed like an age ago now. So much had happened since then.
“You might actually get through stage two by the end of the school year,” Charlotte said thoughtfully.
“That would be ideal,” said Harry. “The terrifying thing is that even after stage two, I’ll be miles away from intruding the mind of anybody who is even decent at Occlumency.”
“I personally found stage two one of the harder levels,” said Charlotte.”I have no idea if it’s a side-effect of Natural Legilimency, but take it as you will.” For a time so short it must not have been even a second, Harry made a mental note to write to Emily before he had to forcefully wipe the thought from his mind. She would most certainly know if it was true, particularly because she was — according to her — a Natural Legilimens as well. However she was not someone Harry wanted to write to during this entire Heir of Slytherin debacle. He still considered it a minor miracle that she hadn’t purposefully led him astray already, and he had no desire to test his luck once more. He seemed to have a very limited supply of it to work with at the best of times, and he suspected there to be a high probability he had already used up his reserves of it for the year.
“Could be,” Harry answered noncommittally, thinking rather deeply about it. “The whole concept of being a Natural Legilimens basically just means your mind naturally forms connections for you. That wouldn’t have anything to do with control. It actually makes sense that we would have a harder time with the control bit, since the connections are stronger and there’s a good chance our mind will start forming them before we actually know how to handle it.”
Charlotte looked rather stunned. “That… actually makes a shocking amount of sense.” She eyed him curiously. “How do you know how Natural Legilimentes work?”
“Sorry, I can’t say. It’s… complicated.”
Charlotte sighed but nodded thoughtfully. “And the rest of what you said?”
“I literally just worked out on my own. I have no idea if any of it’s actually right or not, but it makes sense to me.”
Charlotte seemed to agree, for she hummed along before broaching a new topic of conversation. “Am I allowed to ask you about your Occlumency? I have no plans of actually checking it.”
Tension seemed to settle over the room. It was the first time discussion of Occlumency had arisen between the two of them since the incident in the Speaker’s Den nearly three months earlier.
“You can,” Harry said warily, “but it might be time to talk about… you know.”
Charlotte looked intensely uncomfortable, but she continued anyway, clearly realizing she was in too far to turn back now. “How are you progressing with it? I… know where you were at in January.”
“I’m right at the end of level two. I think I’m actually getting tested to see if I can progress to level three later this week.”
He could tell Charlotte wanted to ask who his tutor was, but she didn’t, instead choosing to ask a completely different question.
“You knew it was me who entered your mind in the Den?”
“Sort of,” Harry admitted. “It was odd. I could sort of… tell it was you, I guess. Maybe because you’ve actually entered my mind before. I have no idea if that’s a thing or not; being able to recognize somebody’s Legilimency after it’s used on you in the past. Even if I hadn’t recognized it at the time, it was pretty obvious, to be fair. I know damn well Tracey is no Legilimens. Blaise actually might be. I know he knows Occlumency, and probably quite a bit of it. I have a feeling he isn’t good enough at Legilimency to do whatever the hell you did, though.”
“The thing I needed to do wasn’t actually that hard,” admitted Charlotte. “It was more dealing with everything else at the same time that was difficult, and making sure not to screw something else up in the process.”
“My point still stands,” countered Harry, and Charlotte ended up nodding reluctantly. “I am going to hope very strongly that you haven’t told anyone anything you saw.”
“I… don’t think I can, even if I wanted to.”
Harry’s brows rose. “Somebody did impose the Sanction, then?”
“Zabini did, yes.”
That was interesting. You clearly didn’t need to be a Parselmouth to impose it then. Harry supposed that made sense, since he had always spoken in English when invoking it, but it was still a useful tidbit to know.
“That makes the whole thing much easier,” Harry said with an outward sigh of relief. “I’ve read quite a bit about the Sanction. It’s still a bit of a mystery to me but, the best I can work out, it makes it physically impossible for any information put under it to leak. It will physically prevent you from telling anyone if you try, and the way it reads, it doesn’t even sound like the information could be taken from you or shared through Legilimency.”
“That… is a very powerful Sanction.”
“I’ve never heard of anything like it before, but something similar might exist.”
Charlotte bit her lip. “I’ve… seen things similar, but they are very rare. Sanctions as powerful as that one, I mean.” Silence hung in the air as Harry slowly and deliberately formed the obvious next question on his tongue, but Charlotte beat him to the proverbial punch. “Do you know what I saw?”
“I think so. It’s… hazy, but I remember the memories that flashed through my mind.”
“The one from last year—“
“Not here!” Charlotte blanched at the intensity with which Harry spoke and the older boy seemed to ponder very deeply before speaking his next works. “I… might need to explain some things when this whole Heir of Slytherin mess is over. I’ve… been holding off telling anyone. I don’t trust people. I never really have, and this is a big thing to just reveal to people. The Sanction stops you from revealing any information, but it doesn’t stop you from acting on the information. I am honestly unsure of the Greengrass’s loyalties, and I’m even more unsure about your family’s and the Zabini’s.”
“You don’t have to believe me,” prefaced Charlotte. “I don’t honestly expect you to believe me at face value, but my grandfather despises Voldemort.” Harry was a bit surprised at how casually Charlotte threw out the Dark Lady’s name. Her sister had spoken it with no quiver last summer, but he supposed it just felt odd coming from Charlotte. “My family has reasons for detesting her, but I can’t tell you more than that.”
“Your family was neutral in the Purity War, right?”
Harry looked conflicted. “I… want to tell you guys some of the things I know. I think it’s important if you’re going to be around me, since I have… some suspicions that might concern you guys directly.” His throat constricted. “Especially… after Daphne.”
“Whenever you’re ready, Harry, we’ll be ready to listen. None of us judge you for holding secrets. I know you’ve figured this out already, but most everyone in your circle of friends has a ton of secrets. We don’t judge you for keeping yours, and we won’t judge you for only telling them to us when in the Den and with the Sanction imposed.” She fixed him with a hard stare. “I would actually recommend you only tell us there.”
Harry felt a modicum lighter, even if the oppressive tension of the year was still resting heavily atop his shoulders. “Thanks, Charlotte. I… really do appreciate it.”
April 21, 1993
Charlus and Lockhart had long since given up properly scheduling meetings. With the forced lockdown of the castle, it made a prearranged schedule rather difficult. A great many students did still flagrantly violate curfew, but it was more difficult for them, with Lockhart being one of the professors. Charlus had asked him once why they didn’t simply put permanent tripwire wards all over the castle. The man had answered something vague about how the Hogwarts wards were very finicky. They hadn’t wanted to chance adding anything else permanent on top of them. Especially if it was the force of Aurors casting them. They were already pushing the Hogwarts charter to its limits. Best to leave the castle’s infrastructure well enough alone, whenever possible.
Spell deflection was still troubling Charlus greatly, and he had yet to truly get a handle on it. That was perhaps an understatement though, as he had thus far failed to do it so much as once. He certainly had the reflexes and coordination, but the necessity for non-verbal spell casting was troubling him greatly. Lockhart said that it wasn’t something that came natural to everyone, even those much older and more seasoned than Charlus. The mind had to be trained to work in a very specific way in order for non-verbal casting to be at all effective. He had also pointed out that the skill was not typically expected of Hogwarts students until their sixth year, and that Charlus was, for all of his fame, talent and notoriety, still only a second year.
He knew the man had a point, though it had done nothing to console him. Worse still was that he felt as though he was making no progress at all in Occlumency. He knew this wasn’t true and that he really was making progress, it just did not at all feel that way to him. Lockhart had warned him that he would be spending months doing little more than meditating, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. Very far from it, as a matter of fact. For all he was touted for, patience was most certainly something that the Boy-Who-Lived lacked. It was perhaps the reason he was struggling so much with non-verbal casting and meditation, now that he thought about it.
Charlus tried to shove all of these thoughts down as he stepped across the threshold and into his dormitory after his most recent lesson with Lockhart.
When he entered, something immediately caught his attention, something that was distinctly odd.
A piece of green parchment lay atop his bed. It seemed to shine silver every time it was caught by the light, and Charlus could not help but feel a pang of dread as he strode carefully towards it. This was also when he came to the sudden realization that he really ought to learn some basic detection spells. Deciding to trust his instincts, Charlus picked up the peace of parchment with very few words written on it in an elegant, near-perfect script. This whole situation felt very ominous, but he had a strong feeling the parchment wasn’t dangerous in and of itself.
Merely the implications of what was written upon it.
You’re running out of time. The end draws near, Charlus Potter. Two more pieces left to fall, and then any intervention on your part will be wasteful and ill timed. Two more pieces left to fall and we shall see how the saviour fares against the foe he was thought to have vanquished.
Two more pieces left to fall, and the real game begins.
Make haste, Boy-Who-Lived, for time is not on your side.
– The A message from the Heir of Slytherin
Charlus felt his blood run cold but before he could do anything with the offending bit of parchment it burst into flames in his hands. The fire seemed to do nothing to his skin, only the parchment which it hungrily consumed in front of his very eyes.
Two more pieces left to fall.
Charlus had no idea what that meant, but it did not sound good.
He could only hope that either Hermione or Dumbledore could work something out, if the latter was even getting his mail like he had said he would.
At that same moment, in the kitchens…
The pale figure stood in the centre of what had been a gaggle of house elves with his intentionally oversized cloak wrapped tightly around him, the hood pulled up to obscure his face.
He had realized quite quickly the creatures had no intention of complying with his plans, so he had needed another solution.
That solution had been a number of Stunners and Memory Charms. Thank Merlin the latter was easier to perform on house elves, who had rather simplistic minds.
Only one elf remained at his feet, the others having been shoved into the corner and allowed to wake at their own time.
He needed at least one elf’s compliance for his plan to work, and he was going to accept nothing less than his plan succeeding flawlessly.
Meanwhile, in the Chamber of Secrets…
The ancient chamber of Salazar Slytherin stood just as pristine as the day the Hogwarts founder had put the final touches on the fabled room. Not a speck of dust rested anywhere on the cold, stone floor, and the columns were as structurally sound as one could possibly hope for. The torchlight flickered, sending long, ominous shadows dancing across the walls like cultists partaking in an ancient ritual. That was, if such a tranquil scene as the one described could be as ominous as the air that permeated the room where five bodies lay, bound and unmoving.
In the centre of the room, a figure stood, surveying the bound bodies with detached indifference.
None of them were important to her. Not beyond being merely a means to an end, at least. Even the prized Daphne Greengrass was little more than a pawn. One she could carelessly discard and do with as she wished.
Her footsteps echoed against the floor, sounding resoundingly through the hall in the absence of any other noise to speak of.
None of the figures moved, and would not for some time.
There would only be one captive she would let move.
A captive she had not yet captured, for the time had yet to be right.
He would fall soon enough, but several pieces still needed to be arranged in order for that to happen.
With a flick of a wand that rested in the hand of a body she was currently controlling, Emily summoned the lunar chart to her in an instant. The next full moon appeared to be on June 4th.
That was plenty of time.
Plenty of time for the next piece to fall, which, in turn, would lead the final pawn into her open arms, and complete the set she so desperately needed.
It would all work, just as she had planned so many months ago. Now, not even Albus Dumbledore stood in her way.
Yes, all had and would continue to go according to plan. It always did.
April 22, 1993
A Room in the Dungeons
Harry sagged with complete and total exhaustion the second Grace withdrew from his mind. His body would have tumbled from his chair and thudded against the classroom floor had the older girl not leant forward and reached out to steady him. His vision swam both from exertion and disorientation, but it slowly refocused and he blinked the exhaustion away the best he could.
“Congratulations,” said Grace, “you are now a level three Occlumens.”
Despite everything going on in his life, Harry genuinely beamed at her. He could not remember the last time he had smiled in such a way, and Grace was unsure if she had ever seen the boy who sat before her smile in a way nearly as genuine or as pure as this. It was by far the happiest she could ever remember seeing him.
“Thank you,” Harry said. It was an odd thought, but he realized he might have honestly thanked Grace more than any other person alive. Possibly more than any combination of living people, so long as obligatory, insincere apologies were not counted in that total.
“My pleasure,” said Grace with a smile. “I’m just happy you’re still progressing so fast with everything going on. I was worried it would be a distraction.”
“No,” Harry said determinedly. “It all just means I need to be better.”
Grace gave him an approving look. “That’s the attitude I hoped you would have, but you would be shocked at how many people fold in a situation like the one we’re in.”
“Then they shouldn’t be mentally weak.” It was blunt and clinical, but it was Harry’s honest opinion. If he could still push forward after everything he had been through in his life, he saw no reason why others couldn’t match his feat.
Grace nodded. “I agree, but plenty don’t.”
Harry looked very uncaring. “That’s their problem.” He seemed to collect his thoughts before asking his next question. More precisely, he was readying himself for what may well turn out to be an influx of new information. “So, what’s on the table for stage three?”
Grace straightened, a telltale sign that a lecture was on the way. “As you know, stage two of Occlumency focused on the building of rudimentary Occlumency shields. Or, more accurately and less cliched — rudimentary Occlumency reflexes. Stage three focuses on solidifying those shields. By the end of stage three, your Occlumency will hold against all but the most skilled in Legilimency. They won’t be infallible, but no novice or even intermediate Legilimens would be breaching your mind. It would take somebody who was exceptionally skilled to do so.”
That certainly sounded appealing, though Harry dreaded how much time it would inevitably take. “And what about sub skills?”
“They are… a lot more complicated in level three. As you have probably worked out, the stage two subskills were basically just augmenting your mind.” He nodded. “The stage three subskills focus more on expanding your mind and allowing it to do things it shouldn’t technically be able to do.” Harry’s eyes gleamed in anticipation. “I think that’s a discussion for another time, though,” Grace said with a smile, watching amusedly as her young protege deflated in front of her very eyes. “You’re already tired and the last thing I need is to add to that. I doubt you’ll be cramming for exams, but I do have a feeling you’re still going to try and do something productive before the night is over.”
Harry was going to read up more on wards from a book he’d taken when infiltrating the Restriction Section, so productive was certainly one way of saying it.
“I’ll let you get on your way then,” said Grace. “I’ll see you on Sunday, as always.”
Minutes earlier, in the Slytherin common room…
Charlotte burst through the entrance to the Slytherin common room breathing heavily, her heart in her throat only to freeze at once.
She had snuck off to the library to acquire a book for exam prep. On the way back, spells had shot past her. She had turned, only to find a number of shadowy figures pursuing her. She had debated fighting for all of three seconds, then one of them had fired off three curses she had never even seen before, and she suddenly thought that might not be in her best interests.
She had done all in her power to lose them, but nothing had worked. They had never drawn terribly close, but their shadows had loomed on the outskirts of her sight, imposing and sinister as they marched forever behind her, not falling for any evasions she might have come up with.
She had been sure that when she returned to the Slytherin common room, she would have been safe. The usual crowd of people would have naturally afforded her a certain degree of protection.
But there were no people in the Slytherin common room.
Well, none that were awake, anyway.
All figures present were slumped against their seats, very obviously asleep and looking completely and totally out of it. Charlotte intuitively knew they had been dosed with something — a sleeping draught, most likely.
“In a hurry, Weitts?”
Or perhaps not all the figures were asleep.
One rose from the lounge often occupied by her sister, and it took Charlotte a moment to recognize him. He was slim and pale with dark, intense eyes and slicked black hair. A prefect’s badge gleamed sinisterly in the ghostly light of the common room, and there was something unhinged behind his eyes. Something reminiscent of what she had seen in Mulciber’s expression moments before he had tried to maim her with that damned, cursed blade.
“S-Selwyn?” she stuttered, hating how her voice faltered and nearly failed her. “What’s going on?” Her eyes widened. “YOU! You’re the Heir of Slytherin?”
Selwyn laughed. It was more of a cackle than anything, but he seemed to take great amusement in the remark. “Me? The Heir of Slytherin? I hate to break it to you, Weitts, but more than one person can be plotting at Hogwarts at the same time. I have no love for mudbloods, but I’m certainly not going to waste a year of my life trying to off a few of them.” He sneered distastefully. “And — as much as my family might not get along with the Neutrals — making a Founding Twelve Family’s heiress disappear wouldn’t exactly be my style.”
Oh… oh, shit!
“You’re the one who helped Mulciber and Jugson! The one who stunned me from behind!”
“Now you’re getting somewhere,” Selwyn drawled lazily, withdrawing a long, dark wand from the sleeve of his robes.
“But… why? I haven’t done anything to you or your friends!”
“Oh, it has little to do with you, Weitts. Much as you might believe otherwise, not everything revolves around you. I find your disgusting display of overconfidence to be utterly pathetic and I think you are a jumped up brat with delusions of grandeur, but I don’t care about you, really. You just so happened to be related to somebody who I very much care about, and friends with another.”
“My sister and…”
“Potter!” snarled Selwyn. “I would never have cared, but I owe him for the dragon bullshit last year. Last time I let anybody else come up with a plan. That didn’t just cost my family gold and a reputation, it cost me. It was supposed to be the year I got back at your sister.”
“Get back at my—“
“Did I stutter?” Selwyn snapped irritably, causing Charlotte to close her mouth suddenly and without further prompting. “She wasn’t the only one vying for top spot when Yaxley left school. He was in charge here before your sister, before you ask any other stupid questions. Things were run tightly here when he was in charge. He didn’t let blood traitors run around as if they ran the house, let alone train them. I should have had the spot and I would have… had your sister not turned that bitch against me!”
“Pax! We were friends, once. Very close friends… more than friends. Until she stabbed me in the back to flock to your sister like the pathetic little sheep she is.” Charlotte’s mouth dried. This was not good. “She took something from me, then led me into a trap and ruined my reputation in this house. It’s taken two years to build it back up, and when I was close, Potter had to go and fucking ruin it again!” He really did look unhinged and Charlotte would have run for it had she not known her other assailants were likely waiting outside the common room door to do just that.
“Now, I’m going to take something from your sister, lead her into a trap and fucking ruin her.” His eyes gleamed. “Oh, and Potter. A few of my other friends are off to deal with him as we speak. Not the ones who led you here, mind. They’ll be coming with us.”
He waited no longer.
Charlotte drew her own wand to defend herself but knew at once it would be of no use. Selwyn was even better than Harry at duelling, and she had yet to beat him so much as once.
She managed to evade him for a few moments, cutting a path towards the dormitories where she might hopefully find sanctuary. She had never seen a boy in the girl’s dorms, and she could sense the presence of wards, likely to ensure that continued. If she could just get to the dorms…
Charlotte’s shield crumbled as if it was never there, and she shrieked in utter agony as the Cruciatus Curse washed over her. Her screams did not wake any in the room, and they were the last thing she herself heard before her vision went red, and then completely non-existent.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the dungeons…
Harry was having a normal walk back to the Slytherin common room right up until the first curse soared past his face.
It appeared to have been fired from the shadows, but he didn’t stand still long enough to find out.
He rolled to the side at once, dodging two spells as he drew his wand and returned a volley of his own in the direction the magic had last emanated from. None found their mark, but three figures stepped out of the shadows, all of them recognizable to Harry, and all of them sixth and seventh years.
The following exchange was fast, furious, and actually quite short.
Harry sent a torrent of magic towards them, causing the three of them to scatter. He then focused his wand on the nearest of them and fired, before turning to the next and doing likewise, and so on, so forth. He had no idea how to fight three opponents at once, so he just decided to fire on all of them.
A well-placed Bone-Breaker of his did find its mark, and his next planned move was to finally activate the ring Grace had given him. He hadn’t exactly had time to cease casting long enough to speak the activation phrase until now. were short.
The torture curse ripped through his shield and slammed into Harry’s back, sending him toppling to the floor, doing all he could not to scream. Ropes bound him faster than he could move. His wand was torn from his grasp and was firmly held by one of his as silents.
And that was when Harry knew exactly who was behind this.
All three of these upper years shadowed Daniel Selwyn, the bastard who had hit him with the same torture curse he’d just been subjected to while he’d been bound last year. Selwyn had obviously remembered that simple restraints hadn’t stopped Harry from escaping last year. The boy must have accurately assumed he could summon his wand.
That wasn’t going to be an option this year, Selwyn was furious with him for ruining his reputation and costing his family so much gold. Up until now, he had posed no threat, and Harry had been so distracted by everything else this year that he hadn’t even pondered a retaliatory strike.
Yet here it was, and he could do nothing but thrash helplessly as he felt himself levitated off the ground.
Ah, subplots, they are so much fun.
I am actually rather surprised nobody guessed Selwyn earlier in regards to Charlotte’s attacker. I have hinted at the animosity between him and Grace, and he does have every reason to be cross with Harry.
Oh well, I guess I win this round.
For those of you trying to work out who the Heir of Slytherin is… I’m sure you can tell, but you’re running out of time.
Just two more pieces left to fall.
Please read and review.
Thank you to my lovely Discord Editors Matilda, (others) for their corrections/contributions this week.
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