Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling.
Kaiden knew he had to get help, but a big part of him wanted to run away so that no one knew he was here. He was one of the ones to find Mr. Filch and now Justin and Nearly Headless Nick...would anyone believe he didn't have anything to do with this? Especially after the comments about Justin being afraid of him?
Feeling completely panicked, Kaiden could only stand there when a door opened with a bang, making him jump.
"Merlin, no," Kaiden whispered as Peeves came floating out.
"Why, it's itsy btsy Snapey," Peeves cackled as he moved past him. "What is Snape up to, lurking around..." He stopped when he saw Justin and Nick. Before Kaiden could try to explain, the poltergeist began screaming.
"Another attack! Attack! No one is safe, not human nor ghost is safe at Hogwarts! Run! Run!"
It didn't take long for the corridor to fill with Professors and students. Kaiden backed against the wall as the teachers tried to quiet the students and keep them away from trampling on Justin and Nearly Headless Nick. Professor McGonagall waved her wand high and set off a loud bang, which stunned the students into silence. "Everyone vacate this corridor, right now!" McGonagall ordered.
"You've been caught in the act Snape!" Ernie yelled, pointing at the Slytherin.
"Enough Mr. Macmillan!" McGonagall said sternly.
"He was the only here Minerva," Professor Sinistra said, looking at Kaiden suspiciously.
"Honestly Aurora, a first year student capable of this?" McGonagall said. She sighed. "However, I will need to escort you to the Headmaster's office Mr. Snape."
Professor Flitwick and Professor Sinistra carried Justin up to the hospital wing and after some consideration, McGonagall conjured a large fan to use to float Nearly Headless Nick up the stairs, which she gave to Ernie who was still hanging around despite being told to leave. He shot Kaiden an accusing look before following Flitwick and Sinistra, fanning Nick along in front of him.
"Come with me Mr. Snape," McGonagall said, marching him around a corner and then stopping before a large and rather ugly stone gargoyle. "Lemon drop!"
Kaiden watched miserably as the gargoyle suddenly jumped to life and moved aside, the wall behind him splitting into to two. A spiral staircase moved smoothly upward, not unlike an escalator. He knew where he was being led, he had been here during the summer. Dumbledore's office. If he was here for any other reason, he would be happy to be in the beautiful, circular room. It was full of trinkets that made funny noises and the walls were covered with portraits of the old headmasters and headmistresses, all who were sleeping right now.
"The Headmaster will be with you shortly, Mr. Snape." Professor McGonagall said. "I will also let your parents know what has happened, if they haven't heard about it already." She gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. "I'm going to go to the infirmary and check on Mr. Finch-Fletchley and Nick. Stay here."
Kaiden watched her go with a sigh and wandered over to where Fawkes was perched. "Lo Fawkes. Oh, you don't look well," He said in concern. He then remembered the Headmaster once telling him that Phoenixes, when they get old, burst into flame and then are reborn from the ashes.
Kaiden was about to gently pet the ill looking bird when it suddenly burst into flames. With a loud yelp, he jumped back and watched as the ball of flame became nothing more than a pile of ash. A tiny little newborn bird poked its head out of the ashes and blinked at him.
"Aw," Kaiden reached out and gave a soft stroke on the baby bird's bald head.
The door opened and Dumbledore walked in, looking quite somber until he saw Kaiden with Fawkes. He smiled and walked forward, peering at his familiar. "Ah, finally," He said with a smile. "He's been looking quite dreadful for days." He gestured for Kaiden to take a seat in front of his desk.
"Sir, I didn't do anything to Justin or Nearly Headless Nick," Kaiden said immediately. "I found them that way. I know it seems suspicious, since I was one of the ones to find Mr. Filch but -"
"Kaiden," Dumbledore interrupted. "I do not think you did anything to hurt them."
Kaiden relaxed. "Oh."
"It does appear that this incident will cause some inconvenience for you," Dumbledore said gently. "I've already heard a few rumors."
Kaiden slumped in his seat. "I know. Everyone thinks I'm the heir of Slytherin. I was getting scared looks even before finding Justin and Nearly Headless Nick."
"Everyone is on edge right now," Dumbledore said as he began shifting through the papers on his desk. "Frightening things are happening and no one knows for sure what is going on."
Kaiden eyes were absently wandering the mess of papers on the Headmaster's desk and he saw part of one word that was sticking out. Horcr -
Dumbledore moved some of his books around and Kaiden looked up at him. "Do you think there could be a secret Chamber in the school? That some sort of monster is roaming the castle?"
Kaiden turned to see his parents entering the office.
"Are you all right?" Bella asked in concern as she reached Kaiden, running her hand through his hair.
"I'm fine," Kaiden said. He looked between the his father and mother. "Do you know how Justin and Nick are? It's...it's just like Mr. Filch isn't it?"
"It is," Severus said. "They will be fine, once Professor Sprout finishes the Mandrake Restoration Draught."
Kaiden clenched his fists together. "I hope it is soon. Everyone thinks I did this to them!"
"Not everyone does," Severus said. "Your friends will stand by you. And us, of course. And your professors."
"I don't know about that," Kaiden said slowly. "Professor Sinistra acted suspicious of me."
"Oh?" Bella asked lightly, a dangerous look in her eyes.
"So what are we going to do?" Kaiden asked anxiously.
"You are going to be careful and not be alone in the hallways," Severus said. "Actually, I don't want you wandering anywhere in the castle alone."
Kaiden shrugged. "I'm usually with my friends anyway."
"Why weren't you today?" Bella asked curiously.
"I wanted to go to our quarters," Kaiden explained. "To check on Snidget and Mrs. Norris and to just...get away from all the whispers and accusations. Which will be even worse now," He sighed.
"Being extra cautious is a sound idea. I believe I will have to implement emergency rules until we figure out who is doing the attacking," Dumbledore said.
Before Kaiden could ask what the emergency rules were, his mum put her arm around his shoulders. "How about we go and check on the cats? You can have a rest before dinner," Bella said.
"Sure," Kaiden said. "Dad, are you coming?"
"I will follow in just a moment," Severus told him.
Kaiden looked from his dad to the Headmaster and wondered what exactly they were going to talk about. Did they have any leads on who was attacking people and just didn't want to tell him? "Was a snake ever found in the castle?" He asked suddenly.
"No, I don't believe so," Dumbledore answered, looking at him thoughtfully. "However, this is quite a large castle. There are many places for a snake to hide. Did you hear the voice again?"
Severus and Bella looked a little anxious as they gazed at Kaiden. He swallowed and nodded. "I think so. I couldn't make out what it was saying, but I heard something not long before I found Justin and Nearly Headless Nick."
Severus looked at Bella and then Dumbledore, a small frown on his face. "All right. Go ahead and head down to our rooms."
Kaiden crossed his arms, frowning and looking very much like his father. "I think I should get to stay. I want to know what is going on."
"Kaiden, let's go," Bella said quietly. Tensions were high as it was and Kaiden arguing with them would not go over well.
"It effects me!" Kaiden protested. "I'm the one who keeps finding the attack victims and hearing strange voices and having everyone think I'm the heir...shouldn't I know what you know?"
Severus raised an eyebrow. "You, young man, are an eleven year old child. Yes, what is happening is effecting you and I understand that you are feeling frustrated and maybe even scared. However, you know what you need to know."
"But I don't know anything!" Kaiden protested.
"Yes you do. You know you need to be extra careful until the attacker is caught," Severus said firmly.
"Let's go, Snidget and Mrs. Norris will love to see you," Bella said, pulling her son with her towards the door.
Severus shut his eyes after they left. He couldn't blame his son for being upset. He was upset himself.
"Stubborn boy, wonder where he gets it from?" Dumbledore said innocently.
Severus opened his eyes and glared mildly at the Headmaster. "We need to find out who is doing this and soon. Not only are students at risk but Kaiden is suffering worse with all the gossip going around."
"Yes, what has happened today is especially disturbing," Dumbledore murmured. "I do not understand what is going on this year. Even Hagrid is having problems, someone or something is killing his roosters."
Severus began pacing across the room. "Albus, what could possibly hurt a ghost like that? I've never even heard of such a thing,"
"I wish I knew." Dumbledore frowned. "The only creatures I know of that can turn someone into stone like that are Gorgons."
Severus made a face. "I am positive that if Medusa was running around Hogwarts, someone would have noticed her. The snakes as hair would have raised some eyebrows."
"Yes, I would suppose so," Dumbledore said, sounding a little amused before turning serous again. "Dark magic of the most advanced kind could also be the reason, but I can not figure out who it would be. It would be too advanced for the younger students so that possibly leaves the older ones, although even them I think it would be too advanced, and the teachers. I simply can't imagine who would do this."
"Perhaps you should begin interrogating the staff," Severus suggested.
Dumbledore gave him a exasperated look. "Really Severus, I simply cannot imagine a member of my staff doing something so horrible."
"Quirrell," Severus reminded him coolly. "The sixth and seventh year students should be investigated too, as well as the staff."
"Severus, if I do that it would cause panic among the students and a scandal."
"There is already panic among the students," Severus pointed out. "Certain students could be getting guidance from their parents who would love to cause trouble at the school. Death eater parents. It is worth looking into, at least."
"Cautiously," Dumbledore said. "No accusations, just general questions to get a feel if something is amiss."
Severus nodded in agreement. At least they were finally going to do something, even if it was a long shot.
Severus and Bella walked Kaiden to the Great Hall for dinner, taking points from anyone who appeared to be pointing and whispering. At the entrance, Ron hurried up to them.
Ron cast a nervous look at Severus and Bella before focusing on Kaiden. "Can I talk to you for a second?"
"Sure," Kaiden said as his parents continued to the Head Table.
"I'm sorry I let you walk alone," Ron said. "I should have gone with you. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine and I didn't need an escort," Kaiden said. He paused. "Well, now my parents are insisting on it. But you didn't do anything wrong."
Ron nodded, looking relieved. "Thanks. It's crazy what is happening, everyone is talking about it."
"I figured," Kaiden said with a wry smile. "Oh, how is Neville doing? Is he still in the infirmary?"
"He wasn't even there," Ron complained. "He never even went! Madam Pomfrey told me she hadn't seen him at all. Although, when she found out he was sick, she told me to find him and tell him he has to go to the infirmary. So I went back to the Tower and found him practically hidden in the common room, reading some book in the corner. He practically jumped a mile when I spoke to him. I dragged him down to the infirmary and that's when we saw Justin and Nearly Headless Nick brought in."
Kaiden looked at the Gryffindor table and saw Neville sitting with Hermione, still looking pale.
"She gave him some pepper-up," Ron shrugged, following his gaze. "She thinks he's just overwhelmed with his classes and final exams coming up and he's run down from it."
"Poor Neville," Kaiden murmured.
Kaiden slid into the seat next to Draco's, relieved to be at a table where he wasn't being glared at. Well...he ignored Nott, Crabbe and Goyle's glare and quickly filled his plate with pot roast and mashed potatoes. He was starving.
"So what happened? You weren't on your way to meet us here like you were supposed to be," Draco said in a tense voice.
Kaiden sighed and put down his fork, feeling guilty for worrying his cousin. "I was going to but then I decided to go to my quarters for a break."
"A break?" Pansy asked.
"I'd been putting up with whispers and accusations all day," Kaiden explained. "I just wanted to get away from it all. Of course, now it will be even worse."
"So what did you see?"
"I was just walking down the corridor when I tripped over something," Kaiden said. "It was Justin. He and Nearly Headless Nick were just like Mr. Filch was, well except Nick was all smoky. I didn't know what to do though I knew I needed to get help. It wouldn't have been so public if Peeves hadn't shown up and begun yelling."
"Peeves is a menace," Blaise commented.
"So now I officially have to have someone with me at all times," Kaiden rolled his eyes.
"Good," Draco said. He grinned when his cousin glared at him. "Sorry but I don't want anything bad happening to you."
"Well, things might change for all of you too. The Headmaster mentioned implementing emergency rules," Kaiden said.
Blaise made a face. "More rules?"
"Like we follow all the rules anyway," Draco chuckled. He paled slightly when he heard Marcus clearing his throat, sitting only a little further down at the table. He gave Draco an amused look.
After they had finished eating, the Headmaster stood at the podium and got their attention. "Due to recent events, emergency rules are being put in place," Dumbledore said solemnly. "Until we have found whoever it is that attacked Mr. Filch, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick, there will need to be some changes to ensure your safety. First, until this matter is resolved Quidditch matches and training sessions are canceled."
The room erupted at that, as the students began protesting. Kaiden was dismayed as well, how could they cancel the best sport in the world?
"Unbelievable!" Draco groaned.
"This is completely absurd," Marcus was saying to his friends.
Kaiden noticed a commotion going on at the Gryffindor table and that Oliver Wood looked like he might throw something. The twins had told him that Oliver was obsessed with Quidditch.
Dumbledore patiently before continuing. "Second," He said, his voice loud and echoing in the large room. "You will be escorted by the teachers in groups to every class. Prefects may help out with this as well. All students are to be in their Houses by 6pm and you are not to leave unless escorted by a Prefect, professor or school ghost. Please remember, Peeves does not count. The professors and Prefects will patrol in pairs after dark. This is only temporary."
"There goes our dueling club," Pansy sighed. "And any other club, for that matter."
Kaiden fiddled with his fork, feeling guilty even though it wasn't his fault. Maybe it felt like it was because of all the accusing looks he was getting. He braved a chance and looked at the Hufflepuffs table. Yup, Ernie was pointing at him as he whispered among his housemates. The Ravenclaw table didn't look as upset as the rest, they looked like they were discussing the matter with one another. He bet they were trying to viewing it logically. The Gryffindor table looked like they were going to start a riot. Professor McGonagall had marched down to them and appeared to be scolding them. He was getting many looks from that table as well.
"Everyone blames me," Kaiden said in a depressed voice.
"Not everyone," Pansy said sympathetically.
Theo leaned across the table just then, having overheard him. "Don't worry Snape. It's not like you could have attacked anyone. It would take someone much more powerful to it."
Kaiden shared a surprised look with his friends. Nott was on his side?
"It would take someone who knew all about dark magic," Theo said, appearing thoughtful. He then gave Kaiden a mean little grin. "Like...your parents."
"What?!" Kaiden stared at him in shock.
Theo shrugged. "It makes sense to me. They are death eaters after all -"
"They are not!" Kaiden protested. Not anymore...
"And with having a Parselmouth as a son, they just couldn't resist could they? So now they can use you to get into the secret chamber and attack whoever they want." Theo finished triumphantly.
"If that was true, why have you not been attacked yet?" Draco sneered. "Professor Snape doesn't like you."
Theo shrugged. "I'm a Slytherin, whether they like me or not. House loyalty."
"You are completely mental," Kaiden snapped at him. "My parents haven't hurt anybody. I don't know who is doing the attacking but it isn't them. Or me. You, on the other hand..."
Theo laughed. "Me?"
"Death eater parents, putting down muggles and muggle-borns," Kaiden mimicked Theo's shrug.
Theo gave a slow grin. "I wish it was me. If it was, Granger would be my next victim." He looked thoughtful. "Actually, she would have been my first."
"You're horrible!" Pansy said angrily.
Kaiden felt himself getting angry and was struggling to control it. He glanced at his parents and noticed they were in some heated looking discussion with Professor Sinistra and the Headmaster. He gave Theo a cool look. "Perhaps you can share your theory with my parents. I'm sure they would be very interested in hearing about how you think they are the assailant." He gazed at the floor and then gave Theo his own grin. "This room could always use another good mopping. What do you think?"
"I think you should never have been found," Theo snarled. "Too bad you didn't really die in that fire when you were a baby!"
Theo flinched and looked over at Marcus, who looked furious. He hadn't realized he had been that loud.
"You are out of line," Marcus said angrily. "Apologize to Kaiden. Now!"
Knowing that things could get very difficult for him in the Slytherin House if he upset the popular Prefect, Theo muttered an apology.
Marcus shook his head. "I will be suggesting to Professor Snape that your detention extend another week."
"No way!" Theo protested.
"I would be more concerned that Professor Snape will want to know why I make the suggestion," Marcus said with a raised eyebrow.
Kaiden tried to hide his laughter as Theo's face literally turned red with anger. Dismissing the annoying Slytherin, he turned his attention back to his friends.
"I love it when that prat is put into place," Draco said with a grin.
"People say the same thing about you," Pansy teased.
Suddenly a loud voice rang through the Great Hall.
"A student who is a Parselmouth should not be allowed to attend school here!"