Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. All characters belong to J.K. Rowling.
A/N: So very sorry for the long wait! Enjoy!
"Mr. Filch?" Kaiden whispered, slowly stepping forward. He bent down and gently touched Filch's arm. The caretaker felt like stone. Was he…?
"We should go," Ron hissed, looking around nervously.
"We can't just leave him," Hermione countered.
"We can tell somebody but we don't want to be caught here," Ron broke off as the rumbling sound of students became louder. Apparently they had been even later for dinner than they had thought as some of the students were finished eating and were coming into the passage on both sides.
The happy chattering that had been going on among the students stopped almost at once, as they got a look at the words written on the wall and Mr. Filch lying on the ground.
"What does that say?"
"Is that Filch?"
"Did they do something to him?"
"Ha! You know what Enemies of the Heir means don't you? It means you Mudbloods and half-bloods better watch out!" Theo Nott's voice rang out almost gleefully.
Kaiden stood up and spun around angrily. He didn't know who the Heir was but he had heard what the word Mudblood meant. "You shut your ugly mouth Nott!"
Theo gave a mean grin. "Aw, worried for your friend?" He nodded towards Hermione. "Her kind shouldn't be at this school. They aren't good enough."
"Oh yeah? Then why does she get better grades than you?" Kaiden shot back.
Theo's face darkened and he took a threatening step towards Kaiden but was blocked by Draco, who had his wand out.
"Just try something," Draco hissed.
"Excuse me, I'm a prefect," Percy pushed his way through the crowd, his mouth dropping open as he saw what everyone was staring at. "Ron, what happened?" He breathed.
"We don't know," Ron answered.
"What is going on here?" McGonagall made her way through, Dumbledore following behind her. "Oh, Merlin!" She gasped.
Dumbledore stepped forward in concern and bent down to examine Filch.
"Are any of you hurt? Do you know what happened?" McGonagall asked.
Kaiden shook his head. "We found him like this," He said hoarsely, feeling shaky. "Professor, where are my parents?"
"I believe they went looking for you, as you didn't show to dinner," McGonagall said with a frown. "Where were you all of you?"
Before anyone could answer, they heard a sad meow and Mrs. Norris appeared, circling Filch and looking agitated. Kaiden bent down and picked her up, holding her comfortingly.
Kaiden felt relief flood him as his parents hurried up to him.
Bella put her arm around his shoulders, her eyes on the written words on the wall. "Albus?" She asked in a tense voice.
Severus glanced at his son before kneeling down next to Dumbledore to check on Filch. "What happened?" He asked the Headmaster.
"I am not sure yet," Dumbledore frowned. "I will levitate him to the infirmary." He looked up. "Minerva?" He gestured to the students who were still gawking at them.
Minerva understood and briskly spoke to the students. "Prefects, please lead your Houses back to your common rooms immediately!"
"The five of you, come with us," Dumbledore said to Kaiden, Draco, Blaise, Pansy and Hermione.
Kaiden stayed quiet as he walked between his parents, following Dumbledore who was levitating Filch. He hugged Mrs. Norris tighter as they walked into the infirmary. He didn't know how to explain what had happened. He didn't even know what had happened.
"What in the world?" Poppy looked on in dismay as Filch was lowered onto a cot. She and Dumbledore bent down close to examine Filch, each muttering spells under their breath and prodding him with their wands.
"Is he…" Pansy asked in a choked voice.
"No, he is not dead," Dumbledore said finally.
"He's not? But why is he all stiff?" Ron asked in surprise.
"He has been Petrified," Dumbledore said. "How this has happened, I cannot say."
"What do you mean he's –"Draco started but was interrupted by the door opening and Remus Lupin walking in, looking concerned.
"I heard what happened…Merlin, he's dead?" Remus stopped when he saw Filch, his mouth dropping open in shock.
"No, he has been Petrified," Minerva told him grimly.
"What does that mean?" Pansy asked.
"Petrification is the process of being turned to stone," Dumbledore said. "It is dark magic of the most advanced kind."
"Are you able to cure him Madame Pomfrey?" Hermione asked worriedly.
"Yes, it will be awhile though. I have to wait for a certain ingredient to be ready." Poppy said with a sigh. "But he will be fine."
Remus's eyes widened. "But how could this happen?"
"We don't know," Minerva turned to the children. "Why were you not at dinner? What were you doing?"
"Minerva," Dumbledore said softly. "It's not like they could have done this."
"I know that Albus," Minerva sighed, still eyeing the students sternly. "But perhaps they saw something."
"Why were you not at dinner?" Severus asked.
"We were in the library studying and then we headed to dinner," Draco spoke up. "It was later than they we thought, I guess."
"You were late to dinner because of studying?" Remus asked doubtfully.
"Yes," Hermione insisted.
"And then you came across Mr. Filch? Nothing else happened?" Severus stared at his son as he asked.
"Well," Kaiden hedged.
"Kaiden," Bella said softly.
"Can I talk to you privately?" Kaiden asked his parents.
"Of course," Severus said. "Come with us." He reached out an arm to guide Kaiden to the door.
Minerva sighed. "Come children, I will escort you to your dorms."
"Do you think we could keep Mrs. Norris until Mr. Filch gets better?" Kaiden asked hopefully as his friends followed McGonagall out of the infirmary.
"I think he will appreciate that very much Kaiden," Dumbledore said approvingly from where he stood by Filch's cot.
"Of course we can," Bella said as she followed her son out of the infirmary.
Once in their quarters, Kaiden put down Mrs. Norris. Snidget immediately ran up to the upset cat and began purring and nuzzling her. Kaiden watched with a sad smile before looking up at his parents. "Part of the reason we were late was because I heard a voice," He admitted. "A voice no one else could hear."
Severus crossed his arms and frowned. "Are you sure no one else could hear it?"
"Yeah. Draco and Ron think it's a snake that got into the castle from the forest," Kaiden shrugged. "It was saying awful things though. It wanted to hurt someone. I followed the voice and that's when we found Mr. Filch. We didn't see anyone else."
"I suppose a snake could have gotten into the castle," Bella said thoughtfully. "I hope it is not a poisonous one."
"We'll let Albus know about it," Severus said. "And next time you hear a strange voice saying threatening things, you will find one us and not chase after it." He said with a touch of sternness in his voice.
"Sorry," Kaiden said quietly. "Who do you think wrote the message? And what is the Chamber?"
Severus glanced at Bella. He didn't want to alarm Kaiden about a Chamber that may not exist if he didn't have to and he could tell Bella felt the same way. If they found proof that there was a hidden Chamber that carried some sort of monster, then they would tell their son so that he would be on guard. "We don't really know," He said finally. "Don't worry, the adults will figure it out. You and your friends are not to investigate, understood?"
"Yes sir," Kaiden mumbled.
Bella smiled sympathetically at him. "You have enough to worry about, school work, Quidditch, caring for two cats…" She nodded to where Mrs. Norris and Snidget were curled up on the sofa together.
Kaiden smiled. "Yeah, I should put more food and water down." He trotted into the kitchen.
Severus ran his hand through his hair. "I wish I knew what all this meant. Does the voice Kaiden heard connect to what happened to Argus?"
"If Kaiden heard a voice no one else could, then it must be a snake." Bella said. "But a snake couldn't have written that message and I don't know of any that cause someone to be petrified." She frowned in thought.
"I don't either," Severus murmured.
"I'm going to fix something for dinner. None of us have eaten," Bella said with a sigh. She and Severus had been too worried about the whereabouts of Kaiden and his friends to eat much of anything.
Severus nodded. "I should check that my Slytherins have gotten settled and then let Albus know of what Kaiden heard. I'll be back soon."
After dinner and Kaiden had left to go to his dorm, Bella and Severus decided to call it a night and get ready for bed.
"What did Albus think?" Bella asked as she brushed out her long dark hair.
"He doesn't know what to think," Severus said as he watched her. "He has searched this castle many times, as have the Headmaster's before him and no one has ever found any trace of a secret chamber. If it had just been the message on the wall, it could be dismissed as a prank but with Filch petrified…"
"Does he think the voice Kaiden is hearing is related to what happened?" It would be quite a coincidence if it wasn't but stranger things have happened.
"He doesn't know for sure, although he assured me he would research the matter," Severus said.
Bella set down her brush. "I don't want Kaiden in danger again." Frustration was clear in her voice.
"He won't be, as long as he follows the rules," Severus said, walking closer to his wife and bending down to wrap his arms around her. He met her gaze in the mirror. "As long as he and his friends don't find out about the legend of the Chamber, we shouldn't have to worry."
Bella leaned back against her husband, feeling secure and loved in his strong arms. "If they do, they'll take to searching the entire castle in their spare time," She said ruefully, knowing her son and his friends.
"If they try, I'll make sure they don't ever have any spare time," Severus said grimly.
Severus softened his expression as she stood up and turned to face him. "Have I told yet today how beautiful I think you are?"
"Hmm," Bella looked thoughtful. "No, you haven't yet today."
"How careless of me," Severus said, running a finger down her soft cheek. "You're beautiful."
"You're just trying to distract me from worrying," Bella accused as she grinned up at him.
"Am I?" Severus caught her lips with his, kissing her deeply.
"Mmm," Bella sighed happily. "I must say, I do love being distracted."
"Noted," Severus said as he pulled her closer.
The next day, Kaiden was in the library with his friends working on homework. The school was buzzing with gossip and rumors about the message on the wall and what had happened to Filch, though since many people didn't like him they were happy he was out of commission for awhile.
"How is Mrs. Norris?" Blaise asked.
"She is a little stressed but better, I think being in our quarters with Snidget helps," Kaiden answered as he read through his History of Magic book.
"Any word on who the professors' think wrote the message?" Ron asked.
Kaiden shook his head. "I don't think they really have any idea who did it."
"Well, it's got to be a Slytherin," Ron commented. His eyes widened when Kaiden, Draco and Blaise glared at him. "I don't mean, not because Slytherins are bad or anything," He said quickly. "I was thinking it has to be Nott."
"He is acting pretty smug about the whole thing," Blaise nodded.
Hermione looked up from her book. "Professor Dumbledore said it was very advanced dark magic. He didn't seem to think a student could do it."
"He didn't think one of us did it," Ron corrected her. "Doesn't mean that he doesn't think a student did it."
"We need to know what exactly the Chamber is," Pansy said.
Kaiden made a face. "Well, my parents aren't talking about it. I'm not supposed to investigate it either. Actually, none of us are."
"We don't need to search for it, just know more about it," Pansy shrugged. "What could be the harm in finding out more about it?"
"Hmm," Hermione looked thoughtful. "Maybe it just depends on who we ask."
"The next spell we will be studying is the Tongue-Tying Spell," Remus said as he addressed his class. "Now with this –"
"Professor Lupin?" Hermione raised her hand.
Remus paused. "Yes?"
"Could you tell us about the Chamber of Secrets?"
Remus crossed his arms, looking around as eager eyes stared up at him. "I know there is a lot of curiosity going around but we should focus on our lessons, not some legend that has been going around for fifty years."
"But don't legends usually have a basis in fact?" Hermione persisted.
"Perhaps, but this is Defense class not History of Magic," Remus said with a shake of his head.
Kaiden couldn't help it, he wanted to know too. "Please Professor, isn't it more useful that we know so that we can defend ourselves better?" Just don't tell my parents I asked, he thought ruefully as Lupin's eyes focused on him.
Remus gazed at him with some amusement. "Oh, all right. But all of you need to remember that this is just a story. Let's see, it goes back to the founders of Hogwarts. The school Houses are named after them: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. For a long time everything was peaceful about how the school should be run but then disagreements began happening. Mainly, one of the founders wanted to be more selective about what students they let into Hogwarts."
"Gee, I wonder which one it was," Dean Thomas muttered.
Remus continued as if he hadn't heard the interruption. "Salazar Slytherin believed that magical learning should be kept within all-magic families. He was in such disagreement about it with the other founders; he ended up leaving the school. However, legend says that he built a hidden chamber in the castle before he left. He sealed it so that no one other than his own heir could unseal it when he arrived at school. The heir alone would be able to open the chamber and unleash the terror inside to purge the school of those he considered unworthy to study magic." Disapproval was evident in his tone.
"What terror is supposed to be inside the Chamber?" Draco asked in alarm.
Remus shrugged. "Some sort of monster that only the Heir of Slytherin can control."
Neville paled, as did several other students.
"You don't seem too concerned," Kaiden remarked.
Remus laughed. "That's because it is just a story that has been passed down. There is no Chamber. The school has been searched many times, I assure you." He remembered rumors back when he was in school and how he and his friends had speculated about it. He figured it was part of the Hogwarts school experience.
"Of course not, because only the Heir can open it!" Ron exclaimed, throwing a dirty look at Theo.
"There is no Heir," Remus said in an exasperated voice. "There is no Chamber."
"Someone wrote that message on the wall," Pansy pointed out. "And someone hurt Mr. Filch."
"Yes," Remus agreed with a frown. "Clearly someone who has heard about the legend and wants to cause trouble in Hogwarts."
Kaiden exchanged a concerned look with his friends.
"Enough of this, we have a lesson to get to," Remus said, beginning his lecture.
"So the monster went after Filch because he is a squib," Blaise said as they walked to the dungeons after class.
"But he's not a student," Pansy said.
"So? Salazar Slytherin probably didn't think anyone who wasn't a pure-blood should be here in any capacity," Blaise said with a shrug.
Kaiden frowned, wishing that the Slytherin founder had not believed that. No wonder Slytherin had a bad reputation. "Well, he was completely ridiculous then. There are muggleborns and half bloods in Slytherin every year."
"There shouldn't be."
Kaiden spun around and glared at Theodore Nott. "Stay out of our conversation."
Theo smirked. "Why should I? Besides, I already know that your father is a half-blood. I've heard the story from my parents about how your mother defied her parents by marrying him. Are you worried Snape? Worried that you and your parents could be next?" He grinned maliciously.
Kaiden, feeling the stress and worry of the last few days, didn't even think about going for his wand, he drew up his fist but before he could let it fly into Nott's smug face, his arm was grabbed.
"Snape! What do you think you are doing?" Marcus Flint asked with a hard glare. He let go of Kaiden's arm.
Kaiden was still furious over Nott's threatening words. "I was going to smash his face in!"
"Kaiden!" Pansy gasped.
"Come with me Snape," Marcus said curtly, spinning around. "The rest of you go to your dorms. Now."
Kaiden followed the Slytherin prefect to his dad's office, realizing he was in a lot of trouble. Again.