Has it been over a year since this story was started? It doesn't feel that way to me. (Sigh) At least I'm not so depressed anymore. David Tennant's leaving Doctor Who was inevitable, but I really wish he hadn't left. Unfortunately, DT's still in a catatonic state, but I hope he'll be up and running in the coming days. March 27th, people, Doctor Who returns with The Eleventh Hour! Let's see if Mr. Smith's up to the task of filling not only Tennant's shoes, but nine other men's as well. And that's not even counting the men who played him in one-off, non-canon shows!
Aaanyway, back to the story at hand. Such as it is. I will be so glad when I can spill the beans.
Chapter XVIII: A Bad Case of Diary-iah
Perhaps it was a good thing that Severus Snape was not Headmaster or else he may have considered granting Filch's wishes of corporal punishment. As it was, he was glaring down at the green-bedecked Ronald Weasley before him, who was slumped down in his chair, refusing to meet Snape's eyes.
Weasley reluctantly raised his eyes to meet Dumbledore's. "Sir," he said quietly.
Dumbledore leaned forward. "Did you mean to conjure that snake?"
"Was it your intent to show off?"
"No, sir, it just…happened."
"Very well. One hundred points will be docked from Slytherin, Mr. Weasley, and I believe a month's worth of detention with Mr. Filch will suffice. Dismissed."
The boy ran out, not even bothering to shut the door on his way. With a snarl, Snape slammed the door.
"He is lying!"
"Can you prove that, Severus? He does admit to conjuring the snake, but not on purpose. Accidental magic can still occur in young witches and wizards who are attending school." Dumbledore smiled and offered Snape a lemon drop.
Irritated, Snape batted the dish away. "Only if we performed Legilimency on the impudent boy and as the act is illegal on an underage wizard, the only thing we would gain would be furious parents."
"Quite right, m'boy, quite right."
There was silence. Then Snape spoke in a low and dangerous tone.
"Should I ever find Mr. Weasley in a similar position with any student, I cannot guarantee the boy will find his way to your office intact."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "Grown fond of Mr. Evans, have you?"
Snape's voice was tight. "No, Headmaster, I simply do not want there to be any… misunderstandings." With a sweep of his cloak, Snape left.
Dumbledore sagged into his chair as soon as he heard the lock click. In truth, he had used wandless magic to Legilimens the boy. Quite easy to do, considering Ronald Weasley had no shields to speak of. The only things on the boy's mind were Quidditch and his mother's reaction to a failed assassination attempt, which, knowing that woman, would be a Howler. Well, he definitely wouldn't be sending an owl to Molly Weasley. Both she and her son didn't have enough tact for anything, save maybe chess, a game at which the boy excelled.
After all, he needed the Weasley family for two practical reasons, one of which was a little harder. The Weasley family was well known for being on the Light side during the last war against Voldemort. With there being no proof of the Dark Lord's permanent demise, he needed their alliance when Voldemort returned. With the Weasleys next to him, no one would doubt Dumbledore's status as Leader of the Light. Expelling their youngest son for attempted murder would muddle the waters and shake faith in Dumbledore.
Secondly, he had secretly promised Molly Weasley that Ginny would be the future Mrs. Potter. The problem lay within that he knew from a glance at Alonzo Frame that the boy definitely wasn't Harry Potter. The scar on the boy's forehead didn't quite match the one from all those years ago, when he had dropped the boy off at Petunia Dursley's home. It was almost as if the boy had fallen and scraped his head, leaving a scar shaped somewhat like a lightning bolt, but not an exact duplicate. For another thing, when he had asked for a drop of blood to grant access to the Potter vaults, the Frames had refused, stating religious reasons.
This meant that somewhere out there, Harry Potter was still hidden. But so long as Alonzo Frame attended Hogwarts, he couldn't exactly launch another full scale search without attracting undue attention.
Chris left the hospital wing a couple of days after being bitten. The puncture wounds would eventually fade away, leaving him with only two dots so small they could have been mistaken for freckles.
As he limped out in the direction of Ravenclaw Tower, the muscles still tender, he passed Professor Snape. The tall man stopped, nodded once, then billowed past, students stepping to the sides as he did so. Confused, Chris carried on.
He had no sooner answered the riddle ("What goes up but never comes down?" "Your age.") than he was tackled by Hermione, driving all thoughts of the nutty house-elf from his mind.
"Umph! Can't! Breathe! Her-my-knee! Let – go!"
"I can't believe you did that!" she babbled, letting go. "You could've died! You are so lucky Professor Snape was there!"
"Hold up, what do you mean?"
"No one's told you?" asked Draco, while Hermione continued to wipe tears away.
"No, I remember being bitten, then waking up in the hospital wing this morning. Madam Pomfrey said I'd been bitten by a particularly nasty snake, but the poison had been cleaned out of my system and I could leave any time I wished."
"After you were bitten, Professor Snape scooped you up and ran out of there," said Draco. "We ran after him, but he was moving too fast. We could tell he was not going in the direction of the Hospital Wing."
"How long was I out?"
"Three days," said Hermione in a small voice.
"Three days?!" Chris collapsed into the nearest chair.
"Still, at least you're not like Macmillan," said Draco optimistically, sinking into another chair, while Hermione sat down primly across from him. "Christmas is only a few weeks away and he'll be stuck in the hospital wing as a statue."
"Why him, though?" asked Chris. "Why did he get petrified?"
"Wrong place, wrong time," said Hermione.
"He does have a very long pureblood line, stretching back nine generations," said Draco, "or so he says."
"He also is very good friends with Justin Finch-Fletchley, who is Muggleborn," said Hermione logically. "I was talking with Justin, about our schools. He was heading for Eton, while I was going to go to Heathfield School, both of which are very highly held in the Muggle world for education. It is possible the Heir viewed him as a traitor for working with Justin."
"All this shows is that the Heir doesn't care if your blood is pure, if you associate with anyone with a trace of Muggle, you are a target." Chris lifted his eyes to meet Draco's. "Which means you are as much at risk as Hermione is."
The silence in the room was deafening.
Three weeks passed without incident. Classes sped by and soon students were leaving Hogwarts for Christmas. Chris, Hermione, and Draco had already decided to head home for the holidays and so did not sign the list that came around.
Before their parents came, Chris gave out a final order.
"Here's the plan. When we come back, we need to be familiar with creatures that petrify and/or kill at a glance. Hermione, you research the Muggle ones. Draco, the Magical ones. See if there is any overlap, any clues that we have overlooked, even if it seems far-fetched."
"I saw the groundskeeper – Hagrid, you remember, right? – with a dead rooster yesterday. Perhaps this is a clue?" said Hermione.
"Anything is a clue, Hermione."
Hermione nodded, biting her lower lip nervously. "Shouldn't we tell our parents?"
Chris snorted. "What, that there's some kind of creature prowling the school, turning the students into statues, and that said person is the Heir to a man who believed in the extermination of all non-pure-blooded magical folks? Sure, Hermione, but I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't see you come next semester. And you know my mum would pull me out in a heartbeat."
Hermione gulped. "Ok, so don't tell the parents."
"Yeah." Chris sighed. "Don't tell the parents."
The Christmas holidays passed in a blur. Chris spent most of it cross-checking possible creatures, so much that even his mother began to wonder about his sleep. Finally, Christmas Eve, she had had enough and disconnected the internet. He squawked in protest.
"We need to talk, Chris."
Reluctantly, Chris closed the laptop.
"Now what has you so wrapped up you have forgotten to eat or sleep the past week? Christmas is tomorrow."
Chris shifted in his seat. He had hoped not to have to tell his mother about the events at the school until the Heir had been caught.
"It's just school work, honest."
Rose pressed her lips together, all the while looking like McGonagall. "Even you don't attack your school work with such determination." Casually, she asked, "Is there a problem I should know about?"
Chris thought for a second. "No, no problems at all."
His heart twinged at the lie, but really, it wasn't like anyone had been killed so far.
She nodded and turned the internet back on. "All right, then."
He blew out a breath he didn't even know he'd been holding as his mother left the room and resumed his research on the cockatrice.
Rose was certain Chris was lying to her. But unless he came right out and told her what was going on, there wasn't a thing she could do. It was times like this she really regretted not telling him the whole truth. Like he would believe her story anyway. There were times even she had to pinch herself to remind herself of the reality of the situation.
She turned back to her paper. There was a small article about Peter Pettigrew in the Evening Prophet. The traitor had been sentenced to the Dementor's Kiss and executed shortly thereafter. His body had been burned, and the ashes scattered to the four winds.
She chuckled. Finally, something went right with her plans.
When the students returned to school, it was obvious the changes that had been made. Each student and his/her property were screened upon arrival by Filch for Dark objects. Once the students had cleared that area, they were grouped in fours to ride up to the castle in the horseless carriages. The path itself had little glowing rocks every few feet up until the entrance to the castle. Minor ward stones, Chris noted detachedly, that only activated if someone tried to cross them. Beside him, Hermione sat straight up; across from him, Draco stared out the window and Neville fidgeted with his fingers.
As they exited their carriage and passed through the gates, they felt a shudder pass through them as the wards did another passive scan.
They took their seats at the Ravenclaw table, while Neville went to the Gryffindor table. The air was very solemn, but there was still whispering. Taking advantage, Chris leaned over.
"So, anything new happen over the break?"
"There was another Petrifying," muttered Draco. "A double attack."
"A Gryffindor third-year, Angelina Johnson, and Nearly-Headless Nick. Odd, really, when you think that a ghost was Petrified." Draco snorted. "Looks like Gryffindor is going to have to find a new Chaser."
Sure enough, Oliver Wood, Gryffindor's Quidditch Captain, was fiercely whispering with the other members of his team.
"This means we'll need to work faster to find whoever is behind this," said Hermione. "There were about a dozen people who stayed at the castle over the break. They will most likely be questioned, but if the Heir was smart, he or she gave instructions to the monster to not attack until after the Heir left school grounds, to avoid suspicion."
The boys nodded in agreement.
True to form, all students that had stayed over break were found to have had alibis at the time of the attack. New sanctions had been put in place, including a curfew and mandatory professor escorts to classes.
The most worrisome part of these mysterious petrifications was Nearly Headless Nick. Whatever this creature was, it had the ability to petrify the dead, something that was practically unheard of in the Wizarding World.
And to be unheard of, well, that definitely wasn't good news.
It was three weeks after the start of term, after a double period of Potions with the Hufflepuffs, that Chris broke ranks from Draco and Hermione. After three hours in the dungeon listening to bubbling cauldrons, his bladder really needed emptying.
He darted in the direction of the closest little wizard's room. Thankfully, he found an empty one. Even better, this bathroom, instead of having the urinals and toilets in public, had little stalls encompassing pairs of them.
He was almost finished when he heard the bathroom door slam open and light footsteps run in to the stall opposite him. There was a grunt and a plop.
Concerned, Chris leaned against the wall. "Hey, mate, are you all right?"
There wasn't a response, but the person flushed the toilet and Chris heard his (at least, he assumed it was a he, after all, this was the boys' room) footsteps run away and the bathroom door slam open and shut again.
"Hey, you forgot to wash your hands!" he called. He snorted, zipping up his pants. "Basic sanitary procedure, I hate it when people don't wash their hands."
He unlatched his door and made to wash his hands in the sink. To his surprise, he stepped into a puddle of water.
The water was spreading from the toilet opposite his.
He sighed and cautiously opened the door. To his surprise, a book floated to a stop right in from of him. It was small, dark brown, and very wet. He picked it up, wary. He'd heard of books that did very nasty things and he wasn't about to be cursed to forever walk around talking in limericks because he let his curiosity run away from him.
A small date on the front indicated it was first published fifty years ago. On the first page, he could barely make out the name "T.M. Riddle." He continued to cautiously peel the wet pages apart, but there wasn't anything on them, not one drop of ink. On the back was the name of some variety stone on Vauxhall Road in London.
He frowned. Riddle? He pocketed the diary, resolving to research the name later.
Now before you all go, he should know that, considering he knows what Voldemort's real name is. Consider these points: One – he's a kid with an attention span of about ten minutes. Being that he can remember anything about that name, however vague, is pretty good. Two – the name Riddle is a pretty common name, almost as common as Tom.
Something else I want you to consider (and I know this might hit a few sour notes and tread on a few toes) that wasn't as prominent in the books as blood status. Did you ever notice that all of Voldemort's Death Eaters (at least, the ones we are given) were white? Apparently, not only did he believe in blood purity, but picked up on another tidbit that had been festering not only in the Wizarding World, but the Muggle as well: that non-whites don't hold the same rank as whites. Take the Patel twins, for example. Even if their bloodline was longer than the Blacks, they would still be considered second-class because of their Indian heritage. It's a cold, sad fact. Hence, why I chose Angelina for the Petrification. Even JK didn't fully grasp this point. Notice it was whites who were petrified and a white girl taken to the Chamber?
In other story news, I am going to be writing a bunch of oneshots, hopefully getting them all done by March 27, reasoning at the top of the chapter. These "Ten for Ten" are going to be either focused on or revolving around either the Tenth Doctor or 10.5, as the human Doctor is known. This is my new goal, besides updating this story a bit more frequently. Also, I'm going to be tweaking the Group so it works better, namely how the chapters are uploaded.