PoP 37

Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity

Year 2: The Erosion of Innocence

Chapter 24: The Falling of Pawns

By ACI100

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.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to my editor Athena, as well as my other betas 3CP, Fezzik, Luq707, Raven, Regress, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.

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Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity

By ACI100

Book 2: The Erosion of Innocence 

Chapter 24: The Falling of Pawns

April 16, 1993

The Headmaster’s Office 

9:48 PM

Harry’s Occlumency had grown in leaps and bounds over the course of the school year. He was now able to repel Dumbledore’s lighter Legilimency probes without much effort. Getting started with Occlumency had been extremely difficult. Learning to clear his mind had been one of the hardest things Harry had ever done. That first meditative stage had seemed to last forever and for a time, Harry had feared he may have strayed off the path and that he may never see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Once he had finally gotten past that stage, everything had become much easier. Defending his mind felt almost effortless compared to how finding it had been. Controlling it was still difficult. Grindelwald had mentioned many months ago how one could master and control their own emotions. That felt so far out of reach to Harry still that he might as well have been trying to jump high enough to touch the moon.

Yet he had made vast improvements in actively defending his mind this year. Dumbledore was beginning to vary his psychic attacks now and he had long ago begun to increase the pressure that he applied. The more difficult the attacks became to repel, the faster Harry felt as though he was improving. It was like he had been thrown in water at first and nearly drowned but once he had overcome that obstacle, he took to moving about the seas with the ease of an especially graceful fish.

“That will do for tonight,” said Dumbledore. Harry sat back in his chair and let out a deep breath as he raised his hands to his temples. Dumbledore had broken through on one of his last attacks. Every time he did whilst Harry was defending, it sent stabs of sharp and persistent pain coursing through his skull. 

“I am very pleased with your progress,” said Dumbledore. “You should be very proud of what you have already accomplished.”

“Thank you, sir. Do you think I’ll be able to keep actual attacks out soon? Ones that would be used by people who actually wanted to take something from me?”

“Oh, yes, I think you could keep out less skilled practitioners already.” Dumbledore raised a hand. “Do not mistake me. If you allowed them to attack your mind for an extended period of time, they would break through, but I think you could hold long enough to break eye contact and sever their connection.”

“When do you think I’ll be able to hold out against full-on attacks?”

The old man pursed his lips. “Who is to say? You have improved swifter than I anticipated and your question is not a simple one. I think you will find yourself able to defend your mind from most sooner than you might expect. That does not extend to somebody like Lord Voldemort. That is another matter altogether. Most men will never be ready to stand against that assault.”

“Do you think I will, sir?”

“I do. All you need is to hold out long enough to sever the connection. I think that at least is an achievable goal.”

“And what about our connection, Professor? You said I would be able to block it with enough practice. How hard will that be? How much practice will that take?”

Dumbledore rubbed at his eyes. “I’m afraid I cannot answer you in good faith. The connection you share with Voldemort is completely unique as far as I am aware. It is difficult to answer questions about it for that reason.”

“But you’re sure I’ll be able to do it?”

“As sure as I can be, yes. It will take a combination of active and passive Occlumency, but I believe it can be done.”

Harry frowned. “Active and passive Occlumency?”

“Yes, indeed. Active Occlumency is what we have been practicing here; it is the art of defending one’s mind from psychic attacks.”

“What about the other?”

“The other pertains to more subtle manipulations of one’s own mind. Clearing it is the most basic form of passive Occlumency, but there are others as well.”

So that was where Grindelwald’s experiments fell. They had been some form of twisted passive Occlumency. Or, that had been Grindelwald’s goal, anyway; to discover a method with which doing that was possible.

“What other kinds of things can you do with it, sir?”

“Many things, Harry, many things, but I do believe that is a conversation for another time. It is growing late, so I believe we should both pack in for the night unless you have anything else you wish to discuss.”

“I do, actually, Professor.” Dumbledore folded his hands in his lap and peered expectantly towards his pupil. This was often the time in the lesson when Harry would ask the wizened old man about magic or ask him for advice at how to get better at facets of it, but tonight, Harry had darker things to discuss. “I dreamt of Voldemort again.”

“Did you?” asked Dumbledore as he sighed, looking all of a sudden a great deal wearier than he had been a moment before. Harry nodded grimly. “Very well. What is it you saw?”

“Some kind of meeting. There were people at a table. Three or four of them, maybe, and then Voldemort.”

“Do you remember who any of the people were?”

Harry thought he remembered one, but it was all vague and hazy. He could remember Voldemort pondering about one of them. Harry only remembered the way his hair had gleamed in the lantern nearest him and he thought he remembered recognizing him well.

But could he tell Dumbledore this? It had been something he had contemplated deeply for the better part of a week. If not for that inner conflict, he’d have rushed off to meet with the headmaster that very next day. 

Whether he trusted the man fully or not, condemning him in the eyes of Dumbledore for something Harry wasn’t positive he was connected with sat wrongly with him. It really was quite hazy and Harry was not at all sure he was remembering things right.

And even if he was, did he want to turn the man over to Dumbledore? The one man who was trying to get him out of the miserable situation life had thrown him into more than eleven years earlier? One of the only men who seemed to genuinely care about Harry, no matter what his intentions were. If he wanted to use him, he needed him in good shape. Did Harry want to throw such a valuable aid away because he might have sided with a man who Harry did not know? No matter what he had done, his words at the end of last year had given Harry some small margin of pause.

“I don’t, no. It’s… fuzzy. I don’t know why I remember the first one so well. The others have been hazier.”

“It could be due to any number of reasons,” said Dumbledore. “Perhaps Voldemort’s emotions were at their strongest during the first vision, or perhaps it happened whilst you were most awake. There are many things it could be.”

Harry nodded, scratching his head and brushing a loose strand of raven hair from his eyes. “They were discussing something,” he remembered. “Something about Voldemort’s followers. How Voldemort thought they would come back to him or something.”

“I fear it is an assumption that is unfortunately correct. Many of his ilk would flock to him out of fear if for no other reason.”

“Right. Somebody else had suggested something, or asked him something. That was what made Voldemort mention it.” Dumbledore nodded to show that he was still listening in silence. “There was… something about his other followers. He didn’t say it, but he was thinking about them. The ones who weren’t there but who were loyal.”

“Many of his most violent followers are serving life sentences in the wizarding prison known as Azkaban,” Dumbledore explained. “Bellatrix Lestrange was one of his followers and is famous for proclaiming her undying allegiance to Voldemort and his cause before being led off to the prison alongside her accomplices, but there are more. She is not the only notorious member of his inner circle to have willingly gone to Azkaban rather than lie their way out of a sentence.”

Harry pondered Dumbledore’s last sentence. Something nagged at the corners of his mind, but it eluded him. It jogged something in his memory but he could not decide what it was. That last bit had confused Harry, but it also made him feel like he was missing something. 

“Right,” he continued, shaking off the feeling. “There was more, too. He… assigned someone else a task, but I can’t remember what it was. And Professor? There was something about Hogwarts. He never mentioned it, but he thought about it. I don’t know what it is, but something is planned here at Hogwarts.”

“It does not surprise me.”

Harry’s next words died on his tongue as he gaped at the old man before him. “It… doesn’t?”

Dumbledore seemed to age a decade before his very eyes then and for the first time since Harry had known him, Dumbledore looked as frail as one his age ought to have appeared.

“No, Harry, it does not. I have suspected that Voldemort has his hand in whatever is going on at the castle this year for some time now. I am simply out of ideas as to how he could be manipulating things from afar and have no way to prove my suspicions in any case.”

“You… think he’s involved with the Chamber of Secrets? If you think there actually is a Chamber of Secrets,” Harry added hastily; Dumbledore did not know he had overheard him that night in the hospital wing. He ought not to, at least. Sometimes, it felt like the man was omniscient. 

“Oh, I am sure of both,” Dumbledore said with a twisted smile. Harry thought it almost looked bitter. 

“How can you be, sir? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“No, I suppose not,” Dumbledore said with another sigh. “I ought to have told you some time ago, but I had hoped I would be able to resolve this madness one way or another before it concerned you.”

“Concerned me?” Harry asked, suddenly wondering if Dumbledore didn’t somehow realize he was a Parselmouth. “Why would it concern me?”

“Because it concerns Lord Voldemort very deeply and as we have covered, the two of you are linked in inexplicable ways.”

“I thought you said that you only thought Voldemort was involved?”

“This is not the first time the Chamber of Secrets has been opened. I am afraid to say that it is not even the first time it has been opened whilst I’ve dwelled inside this castle.”

“Professor,” Harry asked with narrowed eyes and mounting suspicion, “what does this have to do with Voldemort?”

“It has everything to do with him,” said Dumbledore. “Lord Voldemort was once a boy just like any other. A very troubled boy named Tom Riddle who was twisted by the hardships of his upbringing, but a boy nevertheless. He attended Hogwarts much like any other talented student his age would and was sorted into Slytherin, much like yourself.”

Harry felt a shiver run up his spine as his skin seemed to crawl and his hairs stood on end. 

That… reminded him far too much of himself. It scared him. The voice he had heard all the way back in September, the way Grindelwald’s visions had changed him, and now this? He was already not the person he had been when he’d arrived at Hogwarts this past September, let alone before his first year. Was he walking the same path as Voldemort?

No, he couldn’t be. Not if Dumbledore was going where Harry thought he was going. He wouldn’t… he would never.

“You think he was the one to open the Chamber of Secrets the first time, don’t you?”

“I am certain of it,” Dumbledore said with a grim sort of finality. “Voldemort has boasted for many years of being Salazar Slytherin’s final heir.”

“And you believe him?”

“Oh, I more than believe him. I know his claim is true; I have researched it extensively and I do not believe any who were not blessed with Salazar’s gift could find the chamber.”

“You mean Parseltongue?”

Dumbledore looked at him then and there was an intensity about his stare. “Yes, Harry, I mean Parseltongue.”

“Sir, that means if we found the Chamber, I could—“

“No. I would never have you risk yourself in such a way.”

Harry scowled but knew by Dumbledore’s tone of voice that arguing would be fruitless. He was so sock of waiting. Why could Dumbledore not appreciate that he was not a child? He had seen things no child should ever see and had lived whathad felt like three lifetimes on Privet Drive. If he only had confidence in Harry, they could end the threat now. Harry would not have been thrilled to involve himself in this mess, but if really was Voldemort involved. Voldemort,who would doubtlessly want Harry dead after the conclusion of their last confrontation…

“How do you know that it was Voldemort who opened the chamber? Is that the only reason you think it was?”

“Oh, no, there is much more. He did a rather poor job of framing Hagrid, for one thing.”

“Hagrid!?” Harry asked incredulously. “He framed Hagrid!?”

“It was the very reason young Rubeus found himself expelled. He would have found himself an exile had I not intervened and secured him the position of Gamekeeper.”

“How… how did anyone think it was Hagrid?”

“A good question, and one I myself have asked for many years. Armando Dippet was the Headmaster of the time — he is the one sleeping in that portrait, there, right behind my desk. He was very old and a wonderful man, but I believe his mind had begun to slip by the time Tom arrived at school.” 

Harry wasn’t surprised. Dippet looked ancient in his frame. Thin, frail, and balding, with only scarce wisps of thin white hair left atop his head. The man looked fit to keel over at any second.

“Armando was very fond of Tom. All of the professors were. He was very charming and had a way with words. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that he was probably the most brilliant student to ever pass through this school.”

“So, he… what? Just talked his way out of it and blamed Hagrid?”

Dumbledore’s expression darkened. “Hagrid himself had been raising a very dangerous magical creature in the school that same year. Tom discovered it and blamed it for the attacks that had been said to have been carried out by Slytherin’s monster.”

“And it… it couldn’t have just gotten away from Hagrid and been behind them, could it?”

“It could have, very easily, but I know it never did. It is something I myself questioned, though I was sure Tom was guilty. I was a mere Transfiguration professor at the time and failed to convince Armando of my beliefs. It was one of my many failures regarding Tom Riddle.”

“Your… failures?”

“A conversation for a different time. One that will come when you are older and wiser, I think.”

There it was again. That irrational twinge of anger and annoyance at having things loom ahead of him but feel so unreachable.

“So, you think Voldemort is somehow behind it again?”

“Oh, yes, I am quite sure of it. I always thought he might try again once he had left Hogwarts and I think he is the only one capable of such a thing. Slytherin has no other living descendants that we know of and it is only those descended from him who can speak his sacred tongue.”

It was odd to know something that Dumbledore did not. Harry knew all too well that one did not need Slytherin lineage to speak with snakes. Not unless the Potters had some secret ties to him that had escaped the archives of history.

“And… why do you think it concerns me?”

Dumbledore watched him very closely. “Because I think Lord Voldemort is interested in you above all other things. Any plans he carries out at Hogwarts have you in mind. I have no doubt of that.”

“But… nothing about the chamber has had anything to do with me.”

“Has it not? The last two students to have been attacked were Slytherins from your year, both linked to Miss Greengrass. She suspects you are the Heir of Slytherin entirely because of that first attack and the last will only make her more intent on proving herself right.”

“They… what?” Harry had wondered whether Daphne thought him the Heir of Slytherin. This really just confirmed it, but it was the matter of fact manner with which Dumbledore said all of this. And that last part… “What about wanting to prove it?” Then, it clicked. That colourless, odourless liquid… it really had been Veritasirum. 

Oh, Merlin, this was a mess…

“Miss Greengrass was very upset with you. She told me… some interesting suspicions not long before the winter break. She was logical. Brilliant girl, Miss Greengrass. She may be the most naturally gifted intellectual to have passed through this castle since Voldemort himself, but I digress. She was very adamant that I act against you. I, of course, suspected the truth even then and did nothing.

“But none of that is important. What is important is that Voldemort will have picked up on this in one manner or another and is trying to use a dangerous foe against you. He is already moving pieces into play that will make your life difficult and soon, more may fall into place.”

April 24, 1993

The Library

8:36 PM

Ron was finding it more and more difficult to not nod off by the second. He and Hermione had spent hours that day in the library, just like they had for many days in the past number of months. 

They had not dropped their quest to expose the Heir of Slytherin after their miserable attempt on Yule. Their efforts had only been redoubled once Ron had been attacked and Professor McGonagall had turned up petrified.  Yet despite months and months of trying, they had not been all that successful.

There really just wasn’t much to work with. Headmasters and Headmistresses had allegedly scoured the castle for generations in search of this fabled Chamber of Secrets and every single one of them had come up empty. 

The one useful bit of information they had was that the Chamber of Secrets had been opened fifty years ago. That was helpful, but finding records of that time was… difficult. The library had an entire section dedicated to school records. There were many copies from each year, but most of them from fifty years ago seemed to have been edited. Hermione was insistent that one must have slipped through the cracks with how many copies there were, but Ron had grown well beyond skeptical many weeks ago now.

He had stopped staring at the mountain of papers before him some time ago and instead allowed himself to be drawn in by the rhythmic flickering of the candle that sat upon their desk and illuminated the scrolls of text spread across it. Dark spots had begun creeping all around the fire so that it almost gave the impression that the flame was sputtering, even though Ron knew he was simply becoming drowsy. 

It took a titanic effort, but he pulled his attention away from the bright light and glanced around the room. The library was scarcely populated at this time. There were a few older students with their heads bent over hulking textbooks and heaps of parchment almost as large as Ron and Hermione’s, but these students were sparse. The only other pairs of students Ron could see were the two pale first-year twins from Slytherin who seemed eerily united at all hours of the day, and the odd couple pairing of the older Malfoy girl and Luna Lovegood; a very strange girl who lived near the Burrow and who Ginny had shared an off and on friendship with for the better part of the last few years. That was the oddest pairing Ron could imagine, but he had seen the two of them here more and more often as the months dragged on. What Diana Malfoy could possibly be doing entertaining Luna Lovegood of all people, Ron could only guess.

“Ron,” whispered Hermione, pulling him from his thoughts, “come look at this.”

She had found more records from that year and Ron did immediately notice a difference. These ones looked more well-preserved somehow and there were several small bits of text he didn’t remember seeing anywhere else. 

Hermione indicated three sections with her finger. They all seemed to have taken place in quick succession, so Ron leant forward to look and his eyes widened at the first entry.

“Myrtle,” he whispered, “she was the student who died?”

“Well, it doesn’t say that it was because of the Heir of Slytherin, but look at these next two.”

Ron did and he could immediately see what Hermione meant. It had been an eventful day at Hogwarts. Tom Riddle had been given the award Ron had scrubbed to perfection earlier that year on the same day and Hagrid…

“Blimey,” Ron muttered, “this was when Hagrid got expelled?”

“They’re connected,” said Hermione, “they have to be. But that means—“

“Come off it,” said Ron, “there’s no way they thought Hagrid was the Heir of Slytherin.”

“He’s the only student I can find who got expelled that year and these are the only set of records that even show Myrtle’s death. What else do you think is the answer?”

Ron hadn’t the foggiest of ideas, but it made no sense. Surely no one had been foolish enough to think Hagrid — the same man who had cried real tears over needing to smuggle away his pet dragon — had been behind the death of a student? It was complete and utter madness.

“He can’t have done it,” Ron said numbly.

“I know,” said Hermione, whose voice shook as she whispered, “but you know who did then?”

“Uh… no?”

“Tom Riddle got an award for special services to the school the same day this happened. I’ll bet he framed Hagrid. He was an upper-year Slytherin when this all happened; it makes sense.”

Oh, Merlin… it did. It all made far too much sense. “But… what does this mean for this time?”

Hermione’s face was twisted into a steely look of determination that was only made all the grimmer by the dim room and flickering candle. “I don’t know, but we have to find out.”

April 27, 1993

The Great Hall 

8:16 AM



By Rita Skeeter

“What the…” Harry muttered as he took the paper and turned it over.

Diana shared a smirk with Cassie. “Sounds like an interesting read to me,” she said, gesturing for Harry to place the paper in a spot where they could all read the article. Cassius leant forward along with them, beady eyes suspicious, but searching.

I told you all a number of months ago that I would be running some investigative work on the Chamber of Secrets and the attacks that are plaguing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Well, dear readers, I did what any sensible detective would do when investigating strange happenings at Hogwarts…

Start with the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor!

My digging is far from done and I have yet to find anything that implicates Albus Dumbledore’s younger brother in anything regarding the Chamber of Secrets, but I have found much else. Things that implicate both him and his brother in things just as dark… if not darker.

To anyone who thinks Albus is a paragon of the light and that his family can do no wrong, I fear you are in for a rude awakening this summer when I present to you, ‘The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore’.

Fear not, my investigations into the Chamber of Secrets are still ongoing and I will be sharing some insights from the book before the summer arrives. Insights that might make you all think I was onto something when starting with the less-famous Dumbledore brother.

“I’ll buy it,” Cassius said with a smirk. “It will be interesting to see someone go at Dumbledore. Nobody’s really ever had any real success with that.

“If anyone can do it,” said Diana, “it’s Skeeter. The woman’s mind is almost as sharp as her quill.”

“It sounds like she’s writing a biography,” said Cassie. “I don’t know how she thinks she’s going to get enough information for that.”

“It’s Skeeter,” dismissed Harry, “she’ll just make it up.”

“I don’t think so,” said Diana. “That would be risky. Dumbledore’s supporters would hang her out to dry if she didn’t come with factual information to support wild stories. 

“At least a source,” agreed Cassie.

Harry just sat back and nodded. It was an interesting development that would likely get lost in a storm of interesting developments, but perhaps it would add a layer of intrigue to the fast-approaching summer. 

May 1, 1993 

The Hidden Room

10:29 PM

Cedric, Susan, and Hannah listened on in enraptured disbelief as Ron and Hermione told them what they had found the night they next met. It was a mark of how serious all of this was that no one had yet discussed the fast-approaching Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.

“Who is this Riddle person?” asked Susan. “I’ve never even heard of them.”

“He was brilliant,” said Hermione. “He took thirteen OWLs and scored outstanding on all of them — same goes for his NEWTs. Some of his work on runes, archaic magic, and counter curses even got published before he ever graduated Hogwarts.”

“Riddle’s not a name I recognize, though,” said Cedric. “You would expect the Heir of Slytherin to come from an old and prestigious family.”

“Would you?” asked Hermione. “If they came from one of those, don’t you think everyone would know they were the Heir? What if Slytherin or one of his descendants just wound up marrying a muggle or a muggle born or something along the line?”

Cedric frowned deeply. “I suppose it’s not impossible,” he admitted, “but you would expect any connection at that point to be so distant that it might well be dormant. It’s hard to say, though.”

“It… adds up though,” said Susan. “It would explain why we’ve never heard of him as the Heir of Slytherin and the timeline works well. My auntie says that there are rarely coincidences in law.”

“Yeah,” said Ron, “that’s great and all, but what do we do? Do we tell someone about Hagrid being expelled for something he didn’t do? Do we tell them about Riddle?”

Cedric, Susan, and Hannah exchanged looks. “It’s… going to be really difficult to get anyone to reverse a decision made fifty years ago,” said Hannah.

“Probably impossible,” Susan agreed.

“But someone should know, right? That’s still on Hagrid’s criminal record.”

“Someone should probably know, yeah,” said Susan, “but do you think they’ll really believe you?”

“Not without more proof,” said Cedric. “If you could find something more. Whether that’s who’s doing it this time or something to prove that Myrtle was really the one who died and that those three pieces all go together. Then… maybe.”

“I will!” Hermione promised with a huff, crossing arms and looking ready to storm back off to the library at that very moment. 

May 7, 1993

The Library

8:56 PM

“Diana?” Luna asked in a sing-song voice that drifted more easily through the quiet library than the Malfoy heiress would have liked.

It was a Friday night and exams were approaching. Diana knew that in the next half an hour, the room would be much emptier but for now, it was rather busy. Most of the students were her age or older — some of them visibly stressed while preparing for their OWL or NEWT exams. Not that there were no younger students in the room. Weasley and Granger had been in here for some time, as was usually the case, and the Carrow twins had just entered and taken a seat near the Gryffindor duo. Diana watched them as they set down their backs. Hestia flicked her wand, either to get some spec of dirt off of it or to cast something, but Diana saw nothing happen. They must have been here to read up on whatever spell was giving them trouble. The two of them did everything together.

Despite how busy the room was, Luna’s voice carried more than Diana would have liked. That was just not something the younger girl understood. The need for subtlety seemed completely lost on her and tact was clearly a foreign concept altogether. Diana did not dislike her, per se, she just found her… off putting. She was kind, sweet, and strangely adorable, she was just never the type of person Diana would have associated with if her father had not so bluntly prompted it.

“Yes, Luna?”

“Would you like to come and visit me this summer? I wrote to daddy asking if you could and he’s excited to meet you.”

That was it? This was all it was going to take to earn a meeting with Xenophilius Lovegood? Just a few months of spending time with his daughter and treating her like any decent human being ought to have done? It was almost depressing.

“If my father will allow me to,” answered Diana, knowing all too well that the man would be more than happy to do just that. “He usually keeps me busy during the summers with social gatherings and the like.”

“You can come whenever you’d like,” said Luna. “Just pop in. I don’t really have friends, so seeing you would be nice.” It was one of the one blunt things Luna said with complete nonchalance that would have made Diana feel uncomfortable if she was any less composed.

“We’ll… schedule something,” said Diana. “I’ll try and find a time that works for you and your father as well as me and mine.”

“Daddy won’t mind. Just make sure it doesn’t interfere with our travels in July.”

“Oh? Where are you off to in July?”

“To find the crumple horned snorkack. We almost found it last summer, but it got away. Daddy is sure that this will be the year. We just need to keep the nargles away. He said they clouded our judgement and made us too impatient.”

Diana just nodded numbly and turned back to her book. Sometimes, that was all anyone could do whilst dealing with Luna.

May 8, 1993

The Quidditch Pitch

9:00 AM

Harry enjoyed Quidditch immensely. Playing it was one of his absolute favourite things in the world and was one of the few things that made him feel categorically light and gleeful. Even watching it had a certain majesty to it; a splendour that not many things could replicate with such ease.

The air seemed so thick with tension that it would take a Cutting Curse to slice through any of it at all. This was a must-win game for both teams. Gryffindor had defeated Ravenclaw after losing to Slytherin, whilst the badgers had fallen to the snakes several months ago before more recently beating Ravenclaw, who was well and truly out of the running. Either team could stay in contention for the Quidditch cup with an impressive enough victory with only one match left to be played. Harry and the rest of the Slytherin team would face Ravenclaw at the end of the month. It was their easiest matchup on paper and the confidence both from the house and team were at an all-time high, though Marcus Flint had been doing his best to ensure none of his players became too overconfident.

Harry was hoping that Weasley would make a mistake and catch the snitch early on in the game. Beating Diggory to the golden ball would be no small feat — he’d had a howler of a time doing it back in March — but he knew that Diggory was too sharp to make that mistake. If Weasley became emotional the same way he had during the lions’ match against Slytherin, then it was possible he would make the ill thought catch without considering the consequences.

The levels of noise exuding the crowd rose and rose as the players took to centre field, but just as Madam Pomfrey rose the whistle to her lips, there came a loud, echoing bang that drew the attention of all onto the person who had summoned it.

It was Snape. He was striding towards centre pitch with his wand held aloft. Professor Sinistra walked alongside him. She had taken over as Head of Gryffindor House once Professor McGonagall had gone missing, but she did not look brave now. She was pale and shaky, a stark contrast to Snape, who was as stern and impassive as ever.


Harry heard gasps, moans, and even a few screams from the gathered crowd. A sharp intake of breath from his right was what caught his attention. 

It had come from Draco, who was sitting between Crabbe and Goyle and looking wildly around the stadium. It did not take Harry long to ponder out why. Pansy was not with him, nor was she sitting with Daphne Greengrass and her ilk. 

Which meant…

No… surely not, Pansy! Why Pansy?

“Miss Greengrass was very upset with you. She told me… some interesting suspicions not long before the winter break. She was logical. Brilliant girl, Miss Greengrass. She may be the most naturally gifted intellectual to have passed through this castle since Voldemort himself, but I digress. She was very adamant that I act against you. I, of course, suspected the truth even then and did nothing.

“But none of that is important. What is important is that Voldemort will have picked up on this in one manner or another and is trying to use a dangerous foe against you. He is already moving pieces into play that will make your life difficult and soon, more may fall into place.”

Dumbledore had been right. Greengrass was glaring at him openly and he could see her fighting against outraged tears. Not even her Occlumency was helping her hold them back. Voldemort had moved yet another piece into play and done exactly what Dumbledore had feared, but it was worse than that.

If he really was watching Harry so closely, could he have noticed the way he and Pansy still shot each other friendly glances when Draco wasn’t watching? Could he have perhaps even discovered that the two of them still met up to speak on occasion? 

One way or the other, Voldemort — or whoever had opened the Chamber of Secrets this time around — had now made things personal and for some reason, Harry dreaded what would come next.

Yet even that was not all…

Why had Sinistra joined Snape out on the field? He was the Interim Deputy Headmaster. The last thing he needed was the backing of Professor McGonagall’s stand… oh… Merlin!

She was the representative of Gryffindor House and was looking every bit as shaky as any of her students.

It had been a double attack.

Author’s Endnote:

Things are really going to heat up next chapter. We are awfully close to the year’s climax and then its conclusion and I am very excited for both. I hope you all are as well.

Please read and review.

NOTE FOR PATRONS: I always tell you guys these versions of the chapters are drafts and here is a prime example of why:

In my infinite wisdom, there were a number of small details I forgot to add in the last couple of chapters. It’s almost like I hadn’t written the story in two months 🙂

None of these are integral to the central plot and they will not impact your reading or understanding of this year. They just add some much-needed depth and fill out some details. So at some point soon, I will go back over the chapters since McGonagall’s petrification and:

At least touch upon the Slytherin vs Hufflepuff Quidditch match

Add at least one, probably two more scenes with Luna and Diana 

At at least one more scene with Ron and Hermione researching the Chamber of Secrets 

And add a bit about course selection right before the Easter holidays.

Again, I call these drafts for a reason and apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused. In my defence, making JKR’s BS timeline work is a bitch because she skips over all of this kind of stuff…


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