Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 2: The Erosion of Innocence
Chapter 26: The Hatching of Serpents
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Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Book 2: The Erosion of Innocence
Chapter 26: The Hatching of Serpents
May 15, 1993
Ron skidded around the corner so fast that he almost fell. His nerveless feet were rendering movement quite difficult. It felt like they had frozen in a cold winter’s snow, but he knew that was not the case. They had frozen for entirely different reasons.
There had been another attack.
There was no other possibility. Ron knew it in his heart the second he had heard the terrible scream. Snape must have known as well as him, for Ron had never imagined the old bat could move so fast. His cloak whipped behind him as he ran through the corridors, the Gryffindor youth hot on his heel.
Both of them were breathing heavily by the time they came to a dead-end corridor whose wall was splashed with familiar red writing.
Their skeletons will lie in the chamber forever.
“This is too far,” Ron heard Snape whisper. There was an edge to his voice that Ron had never heard there. Oftentimes, it was smooth as silk but now, it seemed as jagged as the rough face of a steep and rocky cliff.
“Professor? Who was petrified?”
Snape must have seen something Ron didn’t because he stooped and picked something off the floor. Two somethings. Strange earrings with things hanging from them that Ron had never seen. Well… he had seen something similar, but not quite that.
“They look like the earrings a friend of my sister’s used to wear.”
Snape had ignored his existence since leaving his office, but finally, the man looked back and met his eyes. “Who is this friend you speak of?”
“Luna Lovegood, I think her name is.”
Snape’s expression remained impassive, but Ron could see the vein in his jaw pulse. “There is part of your answer,” he said.
“‘Their skeletons’, Weasley. It implies more than one attack.”
Ron’s sharp eyes swept around the corridor. He had become accustomed to finding a small speck of gold when no one else could, but he found nothing more in that corridor.
Snape was turning now, looking all around them but still he saw nothing. “You will return to your common room if you value your life,” he said.
“Sir! I know where the—”
“Enough of your games, Weasley.”
“Can you not see that the time for them has long-since passed?
“This has escalated too far and I must take steps towards putting an end to this madness. Dumbledore must know and this castle must be locked down. Now, be gone!”
Ron wanted so badly to argue. This was the most foolish thing a professor had ever done. McGonagall dismissing their concerns last year had been one thing, but this? He knew where the monster was coming from. Surely that same place could lead them down into the Chamber of Secrets. They could retrieve the stolen students and confront the Heir of Slytherin. It was the only way they were ever going to put an end to this lunacy.
Yet Snape would hear none of it and Ron knew that. The man would never let him finish, let alone take heed of what he was told. Snape was stubborn in his ways and his mind would remain unchanged. Ron was just a petulant child who knew nothing and understood too little to be of any use.
Arguing with the Interim Headmaster would do him or the victims no good. Professor McGonagall was petrified, Professor Flitwick was so ill he was not seeing students, and Ron doubted any of the other professors would heed him.
That left him only one option.
He was going to need to find a way to reveal whatever passage the monster was using in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. It was the only way; he would wait until the beast next appeared and slip in after it had left if need be. This madness had to end.
Minutes later, in the Slytherin common room…
The Slytherin common room was packed to capacity, but Draco could hear nothing but the vast emptiness of ringing silence. Never had he heard this room so noiseless. The only sound that hung in the air were the collective breaths of all gathered.
Draco could feel something red hot rising up within him.
They had all known something had happened when Professor Snape had announced via his magically amplified voice that the castle was in a full and complete lockdown and that any caught outside their common rooms would be expelled. That was far stricter than any lockdown that had come before it, so all of them knew something dire had happened.
Another attack, no doubt, and the room had been on edge. The last two victims had not been muggleborns, but Slytherins; and purebloods, the both of them. No one was safe; that was clearer now than ever.
There were two students missing when the heads had all been counted and Draco’s blood had run cold even then.
Diana and Harry.
The prefects had all done their best to stay calm in hopes the room would mimic them. It wasn’t all that late. Not with exams approaching and Harry’s known aptitude for disappearing and showing up again that next morning despite never having been seen re-entering the common room.
There were dark whispers, of course. Whispers about how Harry was taking out his friends one by one. He was the Heir of Slytherin, after all. Zabini had once called him a friend, as had Pansy, and now Diana.
Draco did not believe a word of it.
Harry was many things and Draco wished he was many more. He wished that Harry was more patient and yet more defensive. Perhaps then he might have talked him down back in September, back before all had gone completely off the rails. Draco wished he was less stubborn than he. Perhaps then, they would not have remained at such a painful impasse for so long. Draco wished he was more forgiving, but that last one he understood. He had been lucky to win Harry’s forgiveness back last year. Diana had told him so and she had been right, but that did not mean that he couldn’t wish for it now.
Draco knew Harry well. He had made foolish choices and passed judgement with ill thought, but he knew Harry perhaps better than any other.
Harry Potter was not the Heir of Slytherin.
He might seem cold and distant to everyone else and to some extent, it was even true. Many nights Harry had abandoned them to go sloping off on his own, but that was just his way. Draco’s father was much the same; he had grown up with that, he understood it well.
Harry cared for his friends even if he did not wish to spend every passing minute with them. He had been prepared to second Draco in a duel he did not understand, he had attacked Weasley for Pansy back in September, and he had even spared Draco from… whatever had happened in the common room the night of Yule. There had been selfish motives in the last, but Draco had not missed the look in his eyes. A part of Harry had still cared, at least back then.
He would not attack his friends in the way that some suggested. Certainly not Diana, who had never ceased showing him kindness.
So the question was — where was he and where was Diana?
The answer became more and more obvious as time ticked by. Draco’s eyes watched the entrance to the Slytherin common room, but it never gave way and admitted neither of them entrance. The dread built and built in his stomach. It swelled like a great and terrible bruise but it throbbed with pain that was far greater than he had ever imagined. It was pain unlike anything he had ever felt before, pain so raw and all-consuming he could think of nothing else.
His legs shook underneath him as he took to his feet. His mind whirled in chaotic circles as he felt something sting at the corner of his eyes and saw his vision blur just a bit near the edges. He would not cry here. Not in front of all his housemates. He was Draco Malfoy, the youngest son of Lord Lucius Malfoy. He did not let emotions like this conquer him — especially not in front of a room of so many others.
Nobody called after him as he marched towards the common room’s exit with as much dignity as he could muster. Snape’s warning of expulsion had all but fled his thoughts by the time he was out of the room. Only then did he pause and think.
What was he to do?
Harry was his first instinct. The Boy-Who-Lived was a Parselmouth even if he was not the Heir of Slytherin. Surely that meant something when dealing with Salazar Slytherin’s monster, right?
But that was no good. Harry had no reason to heed him and even if he did, Draco knew not where he was nor how to find him. He didn’t even know what he would say when he did. Draco knew nothing of the Chamber of Secrets or how to find it. What would he say? ‘Can you help me get into this chamber in a location I don’t know?’ It was madness.
The only thing he knew about the Chamber of Secrets was that it had been opened fifty years ago. A muggleborn had died and whoever had opened the chamber had been both caught and expelled.
It was almost no information to work on. It had all been kept very quiet and Draco would never have known had his grandfather not attended Hogwarts at that time. All students had been urged never to speak of it and the staff had pretended it had never happened the very next year.
Perhaps if Draco knew more of that, there would have been something he could do. Even if he knew where the victim had died. If this monster was of great size, he doubted it moved far. That would at least narrow down a location, but how was he to find one? Decades had passed since that fateful day. None at the castle now knew what had happened and even if they did, they had no reason to tell Draco.
Except… there were at least four beings that did know exactly what had happened. Whether or not they would tell Draco… that was another matter altogether. Surely only one of them would even consider it and he was someone who Draco had pointedly avoided ever since that first night at the welcoming feast. Ever since he had sat beside him and seen the way his life’s blood eternally clung to him like a second layer of skin.
But what other choice did he have?
Draco sniffed and shuddered, biting back tears the best he could. It was now or never.
Harry’d barely had enough time to snatch up Diana’s ring before the two figures were upon him. First, he had expected the Heir of Slytherin and their vaunted monster. When it became clear that was not who approached, he then expected to be caught out. Harry had actually been confused when their eyes had skipped over him. It took several seconds before he realized he was still covered in the silvery fabric of his invisibility cloak.
Still his heart beat as he watched Weasley and Snape. Any doubts he might have had over not going to the Interim Headmaster with the information he had were crushed there and then. Weasley was shrugged off as though he was little more than an insect.
It made Harry livid. All of it made Harry livid. Adults as a concept made him livid. They were held above children and put in positions of power, yet all Harry had ever known at their hands was negligence, foolishness, or utter torment. Only Dumbledore had served as an exception thus far, but even he had been a fool to place him with the Dursleys. Narcissa had been unwaveringly kind to him, but there was always the chance she was as scheming as he suspected her husband to be.
Professors would not be solving this problem. They had made that blatantly obvious to him, but it needed to be solved.
Shock had befallen him when he had found Diana’s ring. Shock so heavy that his knees had buckled beneath its oppressive weight. He had knelt on the floor whilst Weasley and Snape traipsed about the corridor and argued like petulant children while the Heir of Slytherin made off with Diana and, Harry supposed, Luna Lovegood if Weasley was to be believed.
Diana was his oldest friend. She had shown him kindness sooner than even Draco, but hers had never waned. It shone as brightly as the sun even now, despite Draco’s having dimmed and died altogether ages ago. Diana had helped him learn to have friends. She, Cassius, and Cassie had been the only ones who had never let him down. Whether she was caught up in whatever scheme her family might be running or not, she meant something to Harry. Something he could not quantify through words or thoughts, but something that tore at him like a rabid dog trapped unwillingly in a small and shabby kennel.
The pain started in Harry’s stomach before spreading outwards. It was like there was another invisible figure in the corridor who had stabbed him roughly through the gut. It was a piercing sort of pain that made his stomach ache and his intestines curl under the weight of loss and sorrow. It rose into his chest and his heart felt fit to tear before the feeling reached his throat. He was back at Saint Bartholomew’s church again, standing atop the pyre in Grindelwald’s body as acrid smoke wafted up around him in billowing clouds so thick that they obscured his vision. This feeling wrapped around his throat and choked him just as the horrid smoke had choked Grindelwald more than a century ago. Drawing breath was suddenly as arduous as it had been climbing walls and the like to get away from Dudley as a child. Every heaving breath made black spots dance before his eyes as the room spun on its axis like a child’s top.
The realization he came to then was one that caused something else to settle in the pit of his stomach. Something else that hit him with the force of any bludger.
Harry would do anything to set Diana free. She was one of only three true friends he had left. Theodore too, he supposed, but that was only when Draco was not watching. Pansy seemed even further away, lying prone and unmoving on her soft bed in the hospital wing.
Harry hated it. He hated much about this year, but that ranked highly. The feeling of loneliness. He had needed that time when he had been friends with Draco, Crabbe, Goyle, Theodore, and Pansy. He had needed it often, but that was different. Being alone was one thing, but feeling alone was another altogether.
It reminded him painfully of long, scalding days spent out in Aunt Petunia’s garden as the sunlight danced across the house’s windows, specs of it flickering like a thousand glowing gemstones as the sound of bustling cicadas filled his ears.
It was always meant to end this way, he realized. Voldemort had wanted for it to be this way ever since Harry had vanquished him at the end of his first year. Framing him, setting his own friends against him, taking Pansy and now Diana away from him. It was all meant to draw him in. Dumbledore had said that any plan Voldemort hatched at Hogwarts would have Harry in mind, and now he knew what the old man had meant.
Yet Dumbledore was gone. Vanquished by that same plan and forced untold miles away. The former headmaster was in no position to help Harry vanquish Voldemort again or to deal with whatever pawn he was using in his stead. The man had yet to even answer Harry’s letter.
He would need to go to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. There were no two ways about it. None of the professors would help him and he doubted any student could. For all of Cassie’s prowess with a wand, Harry feared she would be little help against the serpentine monster of Salazar Slytherin. Harry was at least a Parselmouth. That was something. Snakes had always obeyed him without a second thought. Perhaps he could take control of Slytherin’s monster if not at least keep it away from him long enough to retrieve Diana and maybe even ambush the Heir of Slytherin.
It was a crazy plan. The Heir could be anyone. It could be a seventh year of prodigious skill for all Harry knew. His best course was surely to retrieve Diana and take her to the professors as proof. Maybe then they would help him; maybe then somebody would be able to face this monster.
That sat worst with him. Of all the things about this that bothered Harry, that had to be right at the top.
By now, he had accepted that he was going to take a leap of faith he knew was foolish, to go try and save Diana. Harry also knew nothing about what he was facing. He knew not who this Heir of Slytherin was, nor did he know a thing about the monster they controlled.
That was truly what bothered him. What if Granger had been wrong and it wasn’t a snake at all? It made sense, but what if? His entire plan hinged on the fact that the monster would heed him because he was a Parselmouth. Even that was next to nothing, but if that proved untrue…
Harry’s throat constricted even tighter when he realized there was no way for him to know. Too much time had passed and there was little left to spare. He would need to take the chance and hope all was well once this bout of emotions had passed and once he could breathe again. He reached for his Occlumency to pull it under control, but then…
His eyes had been closed for some time against the spinning of the room, but they shot open now like he had been awoken from a deep dream by the touch of ice cold water.
There was a way for him to learn what this monster was. There was at least a hope that he could learn, though it relied on something he did not wish to do.
But what choice did he have?
Diana was worth it, surely, and if Voldemort truly wanted him dead, Harry needed to put a stop to whatever was going on. Hogwarts grew more perilous by the day; he could only imagine what would become of the castle if this all continued to escalate.
His heart was beating faster than it had in many moons. This was perhaps more foolish than facing the unknown in the Chamber of Secrets, but he would have to deal with its repercussions later. For now, he needed this and he knew it. Harry hated it, but there was no denying its truth.
The pendant still hung on Regulus Black’s chain, but it was ice cold where Regulus’s gift was warm against his skin. This had always felt cold. Perhaps it was reflective of the man who had given it to him, or perhaps it was a mark of the magic that had been used. Harry did not know, but it filled him with foreboding as he fingered the pendant and closed his eyes, clearing his mind of all thought and hoping that everything around him would fade away.
It happened faster and easier than he had expected.
His eyes were still closed when the voice drifted towards him, but he did not miss a single syllable and he could picture the small, dark room easily enough along with that blasted lake so far below their tower perch.
“What a surprise,” said Gellert Grindelwald through what Harry could hear was a smirk. “You have returned at last.”
Atop the Astronomy Tower…
The trip up to the Astronomy Tower’s peak had been one of the longest treks of Draco’s short life. Never had he felt like he was moving so slowly. It was like his limbs had been filled with sand and like he had been climbing the long, spiralling staircase attached to the tower all the way.
The air bit at him when he did finally step outside. It was cold for May. The air itself was warm enough, but the late-spring breeze had an unexpected bite that made Draco shiver. The moon was nearing full, much of it obscured behind a thick layer of dense grey clouds that hid it from vision.
Draco cared naught for the clouds, nor the wind, nor even for the moon. Nothing his eyes could see or his skin could feel meant anything to him. It was his ears that mattered and he listened hard, hoping beyond hope that he had not come here in vain.
And there it was. The telltale clinking sound he had been waiting for. The one that many had complained about during the two years he had spent so far at Hogwarts. To him, it was both the most terrifying and most beautiful sound he had ever heard. It drew him in like a flickering fire might a band of swarming moths, but his stomach quivered harder and harder with every step he took. He crept around the perimeter of the tower’s peak and out into its centre.
The Bloody Baron was there. Dark, iron chains hung from his hands as he clinked them loudly together over and over again. His back was to Draco but in the low light of the night, he shone brighter even than the half-obscured moon.
“Baron!” Draco called; he could think of no other way to get the ghost’s attention.
The chains stopped clinking for a moment before the ghost turned to face him. Draco shuddered at the sight; the Baron had always unnerved him. Those eyes seemed darker than the night all around them and his face was gaunter than any corpse. Ghosts were supposed to look like the men they represented at the moment of death, but the Baron looked like he had been dead for many years before his spirit returned. Draco might even have thought that was true if not for the fresh stains of silvery blood splattered upon robes as dark as his eyes.
The two of them faced each other, student and ghost. Draco felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, but he did not waver. He would not show fear now. One did not need to wear crimson and gold to be brave; he was a Malfoy, that alone was more than enough.
“You sought me?” The Baron’s voice was deep and rumbling. Draco didn’t know why he had expected it to be broken and rasping. No ghost he’d ever known had sounded that way, but it was what he had braced for. The Baron sounded… calm. Nothing like the raging shadow of a man Draco had watched for the past minute or so.
“I… I did,” Draco said boldly.
The Baron watched him very closely. “It has been a long time since anyone has.”
“I need your help,” Draco said. He hated the way his voice trembled and nearly broke. It had threatened to catch in his throat, but he had forced it out through willpower alone.
He felt the first tremor run up his body and cursed. Not here, he thought, not now. There was a time and a place to break down. In the midst of this chaos and in front of the vaunted Bloody Baron was not it.
Rather than looking disgusted by his weakness, the Baron’s expression changed in a different way. “Why have you come?” he asked, and his voice was quieter this time.
“I need your help,” Draco said again, louder and clearer this time, wiping a half-formed tear from the corner of his eye.
“I turned away the last boy who asked for my aid,” the Baron said stiffly. Draco thought he sounded almost bitter. “I will not help you find the treasure that boy sought.”
“Treasure?” asked Draco. “I’m not looking for treasure!” He hesitated before speaking the word his father had so often told him he was above, throwing it at the Baron like an axe meant to kill. “Please!” Draco begged. “My sister’s been taken by the Heir of Slytherin. I need to find the Chamber of Secrets.”
The Baron’s expression remained blank, but Draco thought the ghost stiffened if such a thing was even possible. “I cannot help you,” he said after another pause. “I have never known where Salazar hid his chamber.”
“But you must know something,” Draco pleaded. Tears had come again, but this time, he could not fight them. He shivered as they fell from his eyes and hung cold against his cheeks in the night’s bitter wind. He was shaking again and this time he let it happen as deep, powerful sobs wracked his body. “I-I need to f-find my s-sister. PLEASE!”
The Bloody Baron watched him with those cold black eyes just as the clouds overhead parted and the tower was suddenly bathed in a halo of silvery light. It made those seem even darker, especially now that the ghost did not seem to shine quite so bright. Draco could see right through him. The constellation Ophiuchus shone down straight through the Baron. He was like a looking glass through which Draco could observe the night sky and one of the first constellations he had ever known; a tall figure holding a serpent in each hand.
Then, the Baron spoke and Draco’s breath caught in his throat as he remembered a hundred of Pansy’s rants and all made sense in a single, dizzying moment.
“The mudblood died in the bathroom she still haunts.”
“Not for you,” said Harry.
The first thing Harry saw when he properly opened his eyes was the upward curve of Grindelwald’s lips. “No, I think not. You have come not for me, but to ask something of me.”
“Will you answer,” asked Harry, “or am I wasting my time?”
“Time in the company of wise men is never time wasted.” Grindelwald must have seen the way Harry was glaring at him even though the room was near pitch-black. “I will answer,” he said. “I promised you that I would and I am a man of my word.” His eyes gleamed in the low light of the room. They were blue as the eyes of death but with a silvery hew about them. “I will answer,” he repeated, “but I have conditions you will agree to before I do.”
Dread clamped down on Harry’s heart like an iron vice. “I thought you said you already promised to answer.”
“And so I did,” Grindelwald admitted. “You will find this to be true if you search your memory.” His lips were smirking again. “I think you will also find that I never promised I would not have conditions of my own.”
“Fine,” said Harry. What was he to do? There was nothing for it. Diana’s life hung in the balance and his might well also. “What are your conditions?”
“I will leave you in peace until the school year’s end and allow you to recover from all you have been through.” Harry waited patiently for the metaphorical penny to drop. “Once your school year concludes, you will allow me to share my past once again. You will take it in objectively. You will not fear what you feel, but instead, you will ponder it. You will allow it to wash over you and we will discuss it. I will not lead you. I will answer any questions you might have. Whether they may be about me, the time, my thoughts, or even some of the magic you see. But you will watch and you will not complain. You will speak with me and you will not cringe away. This is my price, Harry Potter. Take it, or leave it.”
Harry could hear the wind whistling fiercely outside the tower. It was a wonder the floor did not lurch underneath his feet. The bars shuddered in their frames as the cool air blew off of Lake Königssee and into the small prison cell Harry shared with the former dark lord.
“Fine,” he said through gritted teeth. “I accept your terms.”
“As I knew you would,” said Grindelwald, folding his hands in his lap and peering at Harry with those bright and piercing eyes. “Now, tell me what ails you.”
“The Chamber of Secrets has been opened at Hogwarts. I’m not sure if you—”
“I am aware of the legend, yes. I took quite an interest in all things of that nature as a teen, as you yourself have seen.”
Myths and legends, yes. Grindelwald had read many of them. The story of the Hallows was the one that had consumed him most, but there were others, too. Many of them featured a wand much like that which Death had granted Antioch Peverell, but there were some more varied legends sprinkled here and there.
“The chamber has been opened,” Harry said again.
“You are sure of this?”
“Very well. Continue.”
“Students have been turning up petrified.”
“Yes, petrified. They’re alive, but they’re frozen. Their pulse is there, but they’re completely unresponsive. Nothing will wake them up or counter the spell except Mandrake Draught. That’s being brewed by the Herbology Professor and it’s almost ready, but this has been happening for months. Can you think of any monster that could have caused it?”
“Tell me more,” said Grindelwald, drumming his fingers upon his knee as he stared out the open window, looking upon the clear, star-lit sky far above.
“The monster’s probably a snake and it’s moving through the pipes. I know that it’s coming from a bathroom. The first attack was outside that room. A cat was petrified and there was water everywhere.”
“What can you tell me of the other attacks?”
“The second was a boy with a camera. The film inside was smoking when Dumbledore took it out.” Harry saw something flash in the old sorcerer’s eyes at the mention of his old rival. Harry could not tell what, but it didn’t matter, nor was it a surprise. Dumbledore was the reason Grindelwald was here, after all.
“How many attacks have there been?” asked Grindelwald
“Four more. The next one was a professor. She was attacked near the Great Hall. The next was a student attacked near a mirror on the third floor. Two people got attacked next time out. One was in the dungeons and was found near a suit of armour. The last one was near the bathroom again.”
“That is three if you are counting the one with two victims as a single strike,” said Grindelwald.
“Tonight was… different.”
“I don’t know if they were petrified, because they were just taken. The Heir of Slytherin said that their skeletons would lie in the chamber forever.”
“And you wish to prevent this?”
“Yes,” said Harry. “One of them… she’s one of the only friends I have left.”
Grindelwald was thinking hard, Harry could see. This appeared far more difficult for him than getting Harry out of his relatives’ house. The moon had moved some in the sky since Harry’s arrival and the cell became suddenly illuminated by its silvery light. Harry could see Grindelwald more clearly now and track the path of his stare. He appeared to be looking up at a shining constellation. The stars coiled across the sky to form the vague outline of a long and powerful serpent. Serpens, Harry remembered. It was one of the constellations they had covered in Astronomy — one of more than sixty attributed to the second century Greek astronomer, Ptolemy.
“Tell me more about the third attack,” the man said slowly. “The one with the professor.”
“What about it?”
“Describe to me where it happened. What was the area like? What was around?”
“Uh… it was in a corridor. An open corridor connecting the Entrance Hall to the Great Hall.”
“Were there any windows?”
That struck Harry as quite an odd question, but he nodded slowly. “Near the front doors, yeah. Close to where Professor McGonagall was found.”
Grindelwald did not take his eyes off of Serpens for some time. When he did, there was a look about them Harry had never seen before; an intensity that glued him to the spot and sent a tremor running up his spine.
“I believe I have discovered the monster. If you must face it, you will listen closely to me before you do.”
Harry leant forward, eyes wide with anticipation as he nodded.
Minutes later, on the second floor…
Ron could do nothing but scream. He had been at it now for the better part of an hour, but nothing had changed. Just like every time he had come here this past week, nothing had changed. He was sure he had found it — the serpentine carving on one of the taps could be nothing but the secret passage he was looking for — but opening it still seemed as distant a goal as making the World Cup winning catch for England.
Ron brought his fist down so hard against one of the fossetts that it clattered down into the empty sink below. Ron snatched it, turned on his heel, and threw it at the wall with such force that it shattered into a dozen crystal pieces.
He was shaking so violently that he could hardly stand. Ron bent double over the sink, closed his eyes, and allowed deep, shuddering breaths to escape him one by one.
This was ridiculous! He had been here every day for a week; what had he expected to change? He had not found any new spell nor birthed any new ideas. All was the same, yet he had foolishly expected a different result. He was every bit as delusional as he had been the night they went after the Philosopher’s Stone, in a sense. Just in a different way that was somehow even more painful.
“Having a breakdown, Weasley?”
Ron flinched so badly that he smacked his own nose off the bowl of the sink. A thin trickle of blood fell from his nostril and stained the crystal sink crimson.
Draco Malfoy was standing in the doorway, his blonde hair gleaming in the low light of the room. His face was less pale than usual; it was oddly red and his eyes seemed puffy for some reason or another. It was a less impressive figure than the boy usually struck, but Ron could not will himself to care about him. There were things so much more important than a stupid, childish spat with a git who didn’t matter.
“Shove off, Mal—”
“Shut your mouth, you filthy blood traitor!” Ron stiffened and went for his wand, but Malfoy’s next words hit him so hard that he nearly toppled into the row of sinks that were now at his back. “How about you stand back as your sister gets taken down into the Chamber of Secrets. Then, you can tell me to shove off. Until then, you will shut your mouth or you’ll never open it again!”
Ron stood there, rooted to the spot and aghast at what Malfoy had just said. “Your… sister?” was all he could repeat.
The blonde’s eyes flashed. “Yes, Weasley, my sister! I know you don’t give a damn, so how about you get your worthless hide out of my way!”
“Your… sister got taken?”
Draco’s face twisted into something vile and Ron could see that he meant to throw a retort at him so hard that it would break him in two, but all that came out was a strangled choking sound as Malfoy buried his head in his hands and began to shake.
It took a moment for Ron to realize that Draco was crying. Openly crying right in front of him. Never in his life had he been so surprised to see anyone do anything. It was the absolute last thing he had expected. Ron found himself taken completely aback and with no idea what to do, but he finally began to process Malfoy’s words.
His sister had been taken into the Chamber of Secrets and he was here. He wanted Ron to get out of the way. Merlin, he would be damned. Draco Malfoy was ready and willing to risk his own life to save his sister’s. It was even what he intended to do, it seemed.
Slowly and with great trepidation, Ron stepped forward and placed a hesitant hand on Malfoy’s arm. The boy tensed, but did not pull away so Ron slowly guided him towards the sinks just as the boy appeared to regain control of himself and hastily wiped at his eyes with the arm Ron did not have a hold of.
“This is the sink that I think leads to the chamber,” he explained.
“Th-this one?” Malfoy asked.
“Yeah,” said Ron, pointing at the small, serpentine carving. “Can you see that?”
Draco leant forward and squinted. “A mark,” he said in a low voice. “Slytherin must have left it there.”
Ron nodded. “Trouble is, I have no idea what the hell to do with it.”
“Lucky for you, Weasley,” came another voice from the door, “I think I do.”
Both boys turned and gawked at the exact same time.
“Potter?” asked Ron, who would have thought by now he was dreaming had his nose not throbbed so horribly.
“Sorry to intrude,” Potter said with a small inclination of his head. “I didn’t think I’d ever see the two of you working together. Congratulations, Draco; you might actually have grown up.” The blonde’s face flushed with even more colour as Potter moved forward. “This sink you said, Weasley?” he asked. “The one with the carving that looks like a snake?”
Potter waited for a moment before turning, annoyed to see Ron gaping at him and taken too far aback to speak. These were the last two people who he would ever have expected to be going after the Heir of Slytherin. At this rate, he thought his brain might well short circuit.
The boy sighed before turning towards the sink and… hissing.
Ron gasped as his eyes widened, hardly even noticing the sink slide aside with the deafening sound of stone grinding against stone.
Not until it had opened fully did Ron speak. “You-you’re a bloody Parselmouth!?”
Potter paused at the mouth of the long, grimy tube long enough to shoot a glance towards Ron over his shoulder. “Why so surprised, Weasley? You seemed pretty sure I was the Heir of Slytherin back in December.”
With that, he was gone, leaving a gaping Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy to do little more than exchange glances and follow.
This was originally going to be the chapter that contained the confrontation down in the Chamber of Secrets, but I realized pretty quickly that wasn’t going to be the case. Alas, I have spent so many words already and no end is in sight, so I suppose that will be next chapter.
Please read and review.
PS: The next password will be released next week. THE NEXT SIX CHAPTERS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PATRONS RIGHT NOW! THAT’S THE REST OF BOOK 2 PLUS THE FIRST 3 CHAPTERS OF BOOK 3! Sign up to my Patreon page to read them now!
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