Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 2: The Advancing of Shadows
Chapter 12: Slithering Shadows
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.
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October 31, 1992
The Second-Floor Corridor
Harry stared blankly at the wall as the crowd around him began to buzz. Muttered conversations broke out like hissing wildfires. They rose in intensity as though their
flames were being carefully stoked.
Enemies of the Heir, beware…
What did it mean? ‘Heir’ as in the heir of an Ancient and Most Noble House? Harry couldn’t think of what other context made sense here, but that didn’t seem quite right either. Why would some rich pureblood be going around writing threats on a school wall? It seemed somehow beneath them. Draco might, Harry thought, if he had the motivation or the capabilities, but he doubted whatever had happened to Mrs. Norris had been Draco’s doing. He had been at the feast with the rest of them.
That thought triggered another memory in his mind. The memory of Weasley and Granger hurrying towards the hall just as the rest of them made their exit.
Harry’s eyes swept the crowd and found them not far from the front. They must have made a mad dash for the stairs as soon as the sound of screaming had made its way down to the gathered crowd, or else they had already been among the students climbing when it had happened. They made sense as suspects seeing as they hadn’t been at the feast. Harry couldn’t see how anyone present could have done this from a floor below.
The two of them were staring at the wall with expressions much like the one Harry thought he must have been wearing. Their eyes were wide and full of confusion and their jaws were slack. Harry tried to meet their eyes, but he couldn’t. They may have been the most likely culprits, but somehow, he doubted it. He didn’t know all that much about Granger or Weasley, but he didn’t think either of them to be good enough actors to pull off a performance like that in the face of the stress they would be feeling if the whole school really had just come about their crime scene. Weasley certainly hadn’t seemed a master of his emotions during Neville Longbottom’s funeral.
He glanced to his other side where Daphne and the rest of his friends were standing. Most of them looked every bit as confused as Harry felt, but Blaise and Daphne served as the exceptions. Blaise’s face looked perfectly blank and Daphne’s looked as though she had just solved some great puzzle. There was a light behind her eyes that clashed strangely with the obvious worry and apprehension etched upon every inch of her face.
“You’ll be next, mudbloods!”
Harry’s head whipped around the second he heard the call. He had recognized the voice at once, but part of him had hoped it wasn’t Draco. It was though. He — or more likely Crabbe and Goyle — had pushed to the front of the crowd. The look in the boy’s eyes seemed almost deranged. The way the grey of his irises shimmered in the torchlight made them look like vengeful storm clouds.
Harry remembered what had happened the last time Draco had used that word. He had been so distracted by the chaos on the pitch that on that occasion, he had not considered how he had felt. He disliked the word. He was beginning to understand why many purebloods stood so strongly against whom they considered to be blood traitors, but to condemn an entire demographic based on a small number choosing not to follow your ways, or whatever their reason was…
It also struck too close to home for him. He was a halfblood born to a muggleborn mother. He had never known her nor did he feel all that attached to her, but it was still a consideration. He had spent a great many nights in his cupboard wishing for her and his father to rescue him. Though they never had, the thought was there.
“What’s going on here?”
The thick Scottish accent clearly belonged to McGonagall. She was among a procession of professors. Dumbledore led the way, but McGonagall trailed him alongside Snape, Flitwick, Sprout, and the headmaster’s brother. Harry tried hard not to glare at Aberforth. The old bastard had not given him a reprieve. Harry had been hoping that if he refused to kill the lamb for long enough, the codger would let him off, but he didn’t and he couldn’t understand why the man was so needlessly cruel.
“My cat!” screeched Filch. “One of the little bastards killed my cat! I know they did! I’ll kill them, whoever did it, I’ll string them up by their bloody ankles and rip the head from their shoulders. Every single one of them!”
“I do hope that will not be necessary, Argus,” said Dumbledore, striding purposefully towards the torch from which the cat’s lifeless body hung.
The students parted before him and the other professors and he reached the cat in good time. He plucked her body delicately from the torch after running his wand over her form a number of times.
“She is not dead.” Dumbledore spoke softly and in a hushed tone, but every student heard the words. The crowd had fallen collectively silent as soon as the old man had reached the torch bracket.
“But-but,” stammered Filch.
“I assure you, Argus, your companion is very much alive. Come, we shall discuss in more detail, but we shall do so in private.” He turned to the gathered crowd. “Everyone is to return to their common rooms. Curfew will be called to order in fifteen minutes’ time. Chop chop!”
“It was Weasley,” yelled Draco. “Weasley did it! Him and Granger! They weren’t in the Great Hall at dinner!”
Harry’s jaw tightened. Draco still had not yet prevailed over his obsession with Ron Weasley, it seemed. He thought that perhaps Neville Longbottom’s death might have made his former friend grow up a bit in that regard. Between the incident on the Quidditch pitch and his behaviour tonight, it was painfully clear that Harry had hoped in vain.
Dumbledore fixed Weasley and Granger with his blue-eyed stare. Harry could see the way Granger tensed and how Weasley’s eyes grew wide and frantic. A pink flush was creeping up his body, too, but he seemed to hide it well. If Harry hadn’t known Draco to be incapable of such a feat, he might have truly thought the blond responsible for the hanging of the cat. It seemed almost as though he was trying to frame Weasley and Granger. It might have seemed like an attempted cover up had Harry not been all too aware of the boy’s spiteful grudges.
“Is this true?” Dumbledore asked the pair of them. “Were you at the feast tonight?”
“It is, Albus,” said Professor McGonagall. “They were reported missing to me. I thought not to trouble you with it during the feast.”
Dumbledore’s face was impassive. “Master Weasley, Miss Granger, do join us, if you would be so kind.” He glanced back at the crowd. “Off with the rest of you. A good night to you all.”
Ron fidgited uncomfortably as he followed Dumbledore and the other professors. They seemed to be moving in the opposite direction as the rest of the school. Hermione was a mess beside him. She was shaking like a panicked dog in the middle of a thunderstorm and Ron vividly remembered the breakdown she’d had last May when the muggleborn had thought the two of them, plus Neville, were going to be expelled.
“May we use your office, Aberforth?” Dumbledore asked. “It is the closest, I believe.”
“If you must,” the man grunted. Ron liked Aberforth a great deal. He was miles better than Quirrell had been. He had arrived at the school at an ideal time for Ron, too; just as he took an interest in Defence Against the Dark Arts.
Much as Ron liked Aberforth, he found his office to be unbearably dull. Malfoy might have mocked him for his place of residence, but the thing Ron had always liked about the Burrow — despite the insecurities the home triggered within him — was that it was never predictable. It was always interesting and the house was never dull, either in terms of the atmosphere or the aesthetic. His professor’s office was almost completely void of any and all decor. Only two portraits served as exceptions and the professor stood in front of one and moved the other out of sight with his wand before Ron could get a clear view of it.
“They killed her!” Filch shrieked, pointing a gnarled finger towards Ron and Hermione. “You heard the boy in the corridor! They weren’t at the feast, it must have been them, I want them punished, I want them hung, I want—”
“Argus, I must implore you to calm down or I will be forced to request your leave. Given the circumstances, I believe you deserve to be here for this meeting. Please do not force me to ensure you are not present.” Filch snapped his mouth shut, but Ron fancied he could hear the old man grinding his teeth together in objection. Dumbledore laid Mrs. Norris down upon the desk and began examining her much more closely than he had in the hallway above. “It is as I suspected,” said Dumbledore, turning his blue-eyed stare on Filch. “She is not dead, Argus.”
“It appears to me that Mrs. Norris has been petrified. By what, exactly, I’m afraid I cannot say.” He looked to Snape, who had thus far not said so much as a word. “Would you care to have a look at her, Severus?”
Snape nodded curtly and stepped forward, drawing his wand like a sword as he did so. His long nose nearly touched the cat’s fur as he ran his wand over her, muttering in strange and ancient tongues Ron would likely never know.
He was at it for a number of minutes before he straightened. “This is nothing I have seen or heard of before.” His voice was as impassive as the calm sea. “She has been touched by no curse that I can identify and I am certain that no poison was involved. I do not know what else could have done it, Headmaster.”
“Nor do I,” Dumbledore admitted. Ron noticed that the professors cast odd glances at each other when that was said. Flitwick, McGonagall, and Sprout seemed to fidget, too. “It is a most perplexing case.”
“Ask them!” Filch exploded, glaring at the Gryffindors with the intensity of Medusa. “It was them; it must have been!”
“No second year could have done this,” Dumbledore said softly.
“Yet they are the only viable suspects we have.” Snape’s voice was smoother than silk and colder than the most biting of winds.
“You have examined her yourself, Severus. Surely you do not believe second years to be capable—”
“I have no doubt the fools never orchestrated the thing themselves. More likely, they carried out the instructions of another or acted indirectly. It may be that Weasley and Granger were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time,” his lip curled in a way that made it clear how likely he thought that to be, “but they have been linked to a suspicious set of circumstances. If they are so innocent, I would ask why they were absent from the feast tonight?”
Hermione’s mouth opened, but her tongue failed to form the words. She was frozen, just as she had been when the two of them and Neville had landed in the Devil’s Snare.
Ron cleared his throat. “We… uh, we were at Nick’s deathday party?”
“Who the hell’s what now?” Aberforth asked gruffly.
“Uh… Nearly-Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost?”
“Oh, him. Yes, I know the one. Now, what in the seven hells is a deathday party?”
“The celebration of the day a ghost passed on,” squeaked Professor Flitwick. “Most of them don’t celebrate, but some do for special occasions.”
“This was his six-hundredth,” Hermione piped up in a small voice much higher than usual. Ron thought it a miracle she had found her voice at all.
“I am most jealous,” said Snape, “I’m sure such an illustrious occasion must have been… exhilarating. It must really have made you feel… alive.” His lip curled once more. “Yet despite the majesties of such a gathering, I doubt ghosts serve food fit for the living. Tell me, why is it you did not return to the feast in time to ensure the two of you did not go to bed hungry?”
Ron looked at the floor and he could feel the heat of his blush as he muttered something about losing track of time.
“Typical,” drawled Snape. “I suppose the ghosts neglected to splurge on a clock for the occasion, did they?”
“I don’t care about some stupid ghost!” Filch had found his voice again and his face was flushed so red that Ron thought steam might billow from his ears at any moment. “I want to hear about my cat!”
“Oh, shut it, you old fool!” snapped Aberforth, turning to his brother. “Can we heal the damn cat so he can shut his mouth and get out of our sight?”
“In time, I believe we can, but it will not be tonight. Mandrake Draught should be sufficient, but ours are still maturing, I believe, and they are extremely rare. I doubt finding any will be a viable option, let alone affording it.”
“Our Mandrakes won’t be ready to harvest for months,” said Sprout. “May or June, I would guess.”
Filch looked catatonic and couldn’t so much as speak. “I will make inquiries,” Dumbledore promised, though Ron could tell he was not optimistic. “If I do manage to acquire the appropriate potion, I will ensure your precious Mrs. Norris is restored to you at once.”
“What of Weasley and Granger?” asked Snape. “Guilty or not, they should have been present at the feast or at least informed their Head of House. Need I remind you, Headmaster, that they would likely have been arrested for their part in the dragon fiasco last May had you not begged the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for their pardon?”
“Would you have seen children judged by the same sword as men?” Snape’s expression gave nothing away. “They are children and like all children, they must learn.” Dumbledore turned to the both of them. “You will each serve a detention for your poor communication. Professor Snape is most correct. Leave from the feast should have been requested. At the very least, you should have made Professor McGonagall aware of your absence.”
“You-you don’t think we hurt Mrs. Norris?” Hermione’s voice trembled, but she just barely managed to lift her head enough to meet Dumbledore’s eyes.
His expression was pensive as he met Hermione’s gaze. “No, Miss Granger, I do not. Bright as you may be, I think this leagues above your current set of capabilities. The same goes for Master Weasley as well. I will make an announcement on the morrow clearing you both of any accusations so that the school might not give you such a hard time. I fear it may not completely subvert the undeserved blame, but it is the best I can offer. I apologize if this causes you any problems.” He glanced at the clock on the wall. “Your house will doubtlessly be waiting. Minerva, do escort them and make the Gryffindors aware of their innocence.”
“Of course, Albus,” said McGonagall, leading the both of them from the room. Ron could only breathe a silent sigh of relief as soon as the door closed behind them.
November 1, 1992
An Abandoned Classroom
The night the writing had appeared on the wall had been a very tense one in Slytherin House. Harry had watched the way that many of the older students cast veiled glances around at one another and wondered what they all meant. He had contemplated seeking out Diana. Despite his divide with Draco, she had remained all too willing to answer his questions. He couldn’t find her though, nor could he see her brother anywhere. He wondered if the two of them were off somewhere. Perhaps Diana was criticizing him for the mudblood comment. Many of the older Slytherins were mocking him for it in quiet whispers — Daphne had done likewise. Harry couldn’t disagree that it made him look extremely suspicious, but he still personally didn’t think Draco was capable of such a feat.
Most in the house went to bed early that night, though Harry suspected many didn’t fall asleep for quite some time. The next morning was a Saturday and curfew was lifted, leaving the students to go about their days as normal. Dumbledore absolved Weasley and Granger of any guilt at breakfast and announced a full sweep of the castle had been carried out. Nothing at all out of the ordinary had been found, so they would proceed as normal.
Harry spent much of the day in the library, though he did practice combat magic with Cassie as well. He couldn’t wait for the day when their Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor might finally give up their detentions. He often went straight from lessons with Cassie to the detentions and Harry was just plain sick of them by now.
He let out all of his vent up frustration at Aberforth and the situation in one long, deep breath as he stepped from the man’s office and began making his way down into the dungeons. Instead of heading to the common room, Harry stopped a bit short in a corridor full of serpentine decor not far from the room where Slytherin dwelled. He glanced quickly around to make sure no one was nearby before he leant into the wall and whispered a command that escaped from his mouth in a rasping hiss.
The wall slid noiselessly aside and allowed him to step into the hidden passage before it closed just as silently behind him.
Since coming to the revelation at Malfoy Manor that speaking Parseltongue was a very unique gift, Harry’s imagination had wandered. There were a plentiful number of snakes in the dungeons. Carvings, portraits, implements in the shape of them, and even the occasional living one dwelling in the cracks of the ancient stone walls and floors. His curiosity had been piqued when he’d thought back to the London Zoo. The boa constrictor had not just heard him, it had listened. He had wondered whether or not all these snakes would do the same. Thus far, his results had been very much to his satisfaction.
Some of the decor was indeed enchanted, it seemed, to hide hidden passages that only Parselmouths could access. Harry had found three so far, but he wondered whether or not there were more. All three of them had been found in the dead of night whilst he crept around under his invisibility cloak. He wouldn’t be risking speaking to snakes in broad daylight. Not without a very good reason, at least. Between Slytherin himself and people like Voldemort long after him, the language had a dark and despised reputation in Magical Britain.
This passage was a shortcut that led much deeper into the dungeons. There were actually a couple of exits from the hidden tunnel he had not yet explored, but it ended in a wall that would slide open just like the entrance on the other side. It allowed the user to traverse a great distance of the dungeons in a very short amount of time. When Harry came out on the other side, he strode towards the nearest classroom and knocked twelve times.
Millicent opened the door almost at once and stepped aside, allowing Harry entrance. It was a simple abandoned classroom. A number of desks had been pulled back into the middle of the room from where they had been stacked along the walls to allow Daphne, Blaise, Tracey, and Lillian to sit. Two were open for Harry — who had been in a detention — and Millicent — who had clearly been tasked with standing guard at the door until Harry arrived.
“How was detention?” Tracey asked with a sly smirk. Harry hadn’t told any of them what Aberforth had him do in those detentions, but they all knew how poor a mood they left him in.
“Like the rest of them,” he spat, looking at Daphne. “What’s up, Daphne? I usually just call it a night after these detentions. What had you so hung up on a meeting?”
“Last night,” she said by way of an answer. Harry grew curious at once. He remembered the look in her eyes when they had seen the writing on the wall. As though she had solved some great puzzle, but also full of wariness and apprehension.
“You know what it means?”
“I know what whoever wrote on the wall was getting at. They might be bluffing. It seems a bit too much to believe from someone still in school, but I suppose it’s not impossible.”
“You know what is impossible?” Tracey asked no one in particular. “Any of us knowing what you’re on about unless you get to the point.”
A smile played at the corner of Daphne’s lips. “Patience is important, Tracey. You should learn it at some point.” She turned to the rest of them. “Do you all remember what was written on the wall?”
“Hard not to,” said Lillian. “I’ve heard the professors still haven’t figured out how to remove it.”
“The Chamber of Secrets has been opened,” Harry quoted. “Enemies of the Heir, beware.”
“Have you ever read Hogwarts, A History, Harry?” asked Daphne.
“Some of it,” he answered. He had read a bit of it before his first year and then some more of the book as the year went on. He had become altogether distracted by learning magic, however, so he had never finished it.
“How much do you know about the Hogwarts founders?”
He shrugged. “Not a lot. Slytherin was a Parselmouth and the first in Britain who could speak to snakes. Gryffindor was bold and used to duel wizards with wands and muggles with a sword for the fun of it. Hufflepuff was kind and I think she was the one who brought house elves to Hogwarts. Ravenclaw was brilliant and the rumour is that her tiara or whatever it’s called makes the person who wears it smarter.”
“Diadem, but yes,” said Daphne, “that’s basically all right. There’s a lot more, but only one bit is really relevant.”
Harry looked around to see if anyone else knew what she was talking about. It was hard to tell, but he thought Bulstrode might have. The rest seemed as clueless as he felt.
“After a few years of working in peace,” Daphne began, “Gryffindor and Slytherin started to argue. They argued over muggleborns; whether or not they should be allowed at Hogwarts. Gryffindor said everyone should have the chance to learn magic and Slytherin said the risks were too high.”
“The risks?” asked Harry.
“Muggle religion was on the rise in England,” said Daphne. “The muggles were starting to do horrible things to witches and wizards who they found. Things I doubt any of us can imagine.”
Harry shuddered involuntarily and hoped that none of them could spot it. He could see blood running over snow like a fast-flowing river filled to the brim with crimson water. He could see a frail body lying lifeless and somehow flat, and he could see the horrible ooze pouring from Wylla Nurmen’s skull; like a thick and chunky soup. He could imagine what the muggles might do better than Daphne could ever hope to realize.
“Is this where the blood supremacy stuff comes from?”
Daphne exchanged looks with Millicent and Lillian. “It’s… a big part of it, yes. Muggles didn’t exactly treat wizards well. We were stoned, burnt alive, hung, tortured, and all kinds of things for centuries. The Statute of Secrecy put a stop to it, but before that, it wasn’t easy for witches and wizards to walk around freely without a muggle trying to persecute them. It’s not the only reason blood supremacy exists, but it’s definitely a part of it.”
Harry managed to suppress the shudder this time. The words rang true with him. All he had been through and all Grindelwald had been through spoke the same horrible truth. Even Voldemort’s monologue in the third-floor corridor lined up. He had spoken passionately about muggles and their inherent need to destroy anything they failed to understand.
“We’re off-topic, though,” Daphne continued. “Eventually, the argument between Gryffindor and Slytherin got so bad that Salazar left the school.” She paused. “That’s where it gets interesting. All the rest is known fact, but rumours have been floating around for centuries about Slytherin. All kinds of them, actually, but one of them say he left a monster somewhere in a hidden chamber at Hogwarts. Some people say only his true heir can find the chamber and unleash the monster. Most seem to think if it exists, then Salazar hoped his heir would find it and use it to kill all of the school’s muggleborns. I find that part to be ridiculous, but the monster isn’t totally out of the question.”
“It’s… not?” asked Harry. “Isn’t that a little… far-fetched?”
“Slytherin was paranoid,” said Lillian. “We don’t know much about him, but we know that. Also spiteful… he didn’t like losing.”
“There’s a reason one of Slytherin’s key traits is ambition,” Daphne said with a smile that stretched to her eyes.
“But… surely it would have been found by now, right?”
“Who knows?” asked Millicent. “Maybe only Slytherin’s family can get into it. Maybe you need to prove you’re related. There are doors and stuff that won’t happen without blood.”
“Blood magic, yes,” said Daphne. “One of the most complicated and powerful branches of magic that exist. It is extremely illegal, but it wasn’t at that time.”
Blaise snorted. “I’m sure Salazar kept a pamphlet of all the laws of the world beside his bed at all times. It was his easy reading material before bed, I would wager.”
Daphne was trying and failing to look annoyed at the interruption. She was laughing just like the rest of them. “The point is, there are ways it could have been done. That’s what whoever wrote on the wall meant by the Chamber of Secrets. Enemies of the Heir must mean the muggleborns and maybe the blood traitors, too.”
That was an interesting point, Harry realized. He had no idea as to Daphne’s stance on blood supremacy or traditionalism. Her family was one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight and a Founding House to boot. That and her casual usage of the term blood traitor made him think she was at least a traditionalist. On the other hand, Davis was not a noble family, though Tracey had said she was a pureblood, and Harry himself was only a halfblood. If she did prescribe to the blood supremacist agenda, she was definitely one of the cause’s more reasonable and less radical patrons.
Harry found himself extremely curious. He thought about the ways Parseltongue caused some of the snake carvings and the like to obey him. What if that was the way to find the Chamber of Secrets? What if one of those doors in the passage he had used to speed up the trek here led right into it? Or what if it was just hidden behind another passage he had yet to find?
He was almost curious enough to go looking, but two things stopped him.
The last time he had recklessly given into his curiosity had been the night after his final exam last year. The night he had waited for Weasley, Granger, and Longbottom to return from their trek down the third-floor corridor. That had been the night he had come face-to-face with the Dark Lord and it was the night that Neville Longbottom had died because of his actions. He had promised himself he would be more careful after that, and even more so after he had been portkeyed straight into Nurmengard.
There was another thing, too.
“There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year. Dobby has known it for months, sir. Harry Potter must not put himself in peril. He is too important, sir!”
The elf’s warning rang through his hair like the clattering of bells as he frowned deeply.
Had Dobby known about the Chamber of Secrets? It seemed impossible, but it made sense. A petrification that not even Dumbledore could explain certainly fit the bill. Dobby had even said that there were powers even Dumbledore didn’t possess.
That was enough to discourage Harry. If Dobby had known the right of it, even back on the first of September, then he likely knew more. If he thought Harry shouldn’t put himself in harm’s way, Harry was inclined to listen — especially after the incidents that capped off his first year at Hogwarts.
Though all of this did raise an interesting question and a worrying possibility.
How had Dobby known about the Chamber of Secrets and did this mean Draco really could be responsible for the whole thing? Had his loud proclamation been a frame job after all? Harry couldn’t see how the boy might have acted whilst feasting in the Great hall, but there were many things he didn’t know. Perhaps he could have summoned Dobby and had him do it. Or paid an older student, maybe. The Malfoys had no shortage of disposable gold. It fit with his vicious mood, too; a mood that had only worsened since Harry’s split from him and his group.
Harry shivered as he remembered Daphne’s words about how the Malfoys had used him as a tool. He remembered all the suspicious things that pointed to the fact she may well have been right and suddenly, Harry wondered exactly what he may or may not have gotten himself into. Merlin, this was all so confusing and he hated every bit of it.
A lot of the chapters in book 2 have been longer than I had planned, so getting back to typical-length chapters is nice. Next chapter will feature the Quidditch match as well as some of the immediate fallout.
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