Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling.
When the dinner started, Bella sat at her seat, seething, her hand clenching her fork. She didn't have an appetite, she was too angry. How dare Aurora treat her son the way he had? What kind of example is that for the other students? Surely the astronomy professor knew how foolish it was to believe that a first year could be the culprit of these attacks?
"Try to relax love," Severus said quietly in her ear, pulling the fork out of her hand.
"I want to speak with Aurora," Bella said.
"As do I but we will wait until after dinner," Severus said, putting his hand over hers. "Then we can all have a nice chat."
Bella smirked at him, knowing he was just as upset as she was. "Fine."
"Try to eat," Severus said.
"Yes sir," Bella winked at him and pulled her plate forward.
After Dumbledore had made his announcement, Bella and Severus watched the students talk among each other in a loud agitated voices. "I can see students glaring at the Slytherin table," Bella frowned.
"They're glaring at Kaiden," Severus tapped his fingers on the table in agitation. "All I want to do is protect him. Protect him from harm, protect him from the cruelty of his peers."
"So do I," Bella said. "Honestly Severus, if more attacks happen I want to take Kaiden to the house and home school him until the Headmaster figures out what is going on here."
Severus met her eyes. "I've had the same thought." He admitted. "I've even thought about writing to Lucius to tell him to do the same thing with Draco. Maybe Kaiden wouldn't be upset about being taken out of school if Draco is home schooled with him. I know he and – he is very concerned about what is going on here."
Bella gave Severus an exasperated look. "You can say her name. I know Narcissa is worried for her son. I wouldn't expect anything else."
"Of course," Severus said, slightly amused.
Their attention was turned to their colleagues as Aurora Sinistra's voice got a little louder from where she sat, speaking to Sybil Trelawney. "It is frightening to have a child who speaks Parseltongue in class. Who knows what else he is capable of?"
Dumbledore adjusted his glasses and turned towards her, a severe frown on his face. "Aurora, you have had Kaiden in class all year. Has he ever shown himself to be anything but a bright and sweet child?"
"Well, no," Aurora admitted.
"Then maybe you will keep your mouth shut instead of spouting off nonsense!" Bella hissed, leaning towards Aurora.
"Especially in front of the other students!" Severus added. "It's bad enough for Kaiden without ignorant teachers making it worse."
Aurora's eyes narrowed. "Speaking Parseltongue, it is unnatural!"
Bella and Severus shot up out of their seats. "Our son has a gift," Severus said in a dangerous tone. "It, nor he, are unnatural. Just because you are afraid of something you don't understand -"
"All known Parselmouth's are dark wizards!" Aurora whispered loudly, also standing up. "I'm thinking of the other students. They need to be protected."
"From a student speaking a different language?" Severus asked sarcastically.
Aurora crossed her arms. "From a student attacking other students."
"You are delusional if you think a first year student is capable of these attacks," Bella gave a laugh. "Albus, you may want to rethink who teaches Astronomy. This one is clearly deranged."
Dumbledore stood up and spread out his hands. "Please, can we all just calm down? This is not helping."
"No it is not," Severus agreed. "Albus, you need to speak with your employee here before I lodge an official complaint against her."
Aurora gasped and before Dumbledore could say anything, she yelled out, ""A student who is a Parselmouth should not be allowed to attend school here!"
"I can't believe that we have been sent to the Headmaster's office as if we were errant students," Bella huffed as she and her husband sat in Dumbledore's office, waiting for him.
Severus stretched his long legs out. "You'll be in more trouble than me. All I did was cast a Silencio on her. You are the one that transfigured her into a bird."
"I was hoping she would fly away," Bella grinned. "It's not like I took her for a little visit with Snidget and Mrs. Norris. Although..."
"Do not even think about it," Dumbledore said as he walked inside and took a seat behind his desk. "Minerva has set her to rights and is having a talk with her."
"I should hope so," Bella said with a scowl.
"And I am here to have a talk with you," Dumbledore said, his voice sterner than normal. "What happened in the Great Hall was shameful. We tell the students that they are not to hex each other and then they see their own professors doing it!"
"Sinistra was out of line," Severus said.
"She was," Dumbledore agreed. "But instead of letting me deal with it, you dealt with it in an inappropriate fashion."
Bella let out a sigh. He was right, of course but she couldn't help but defend her child against anyone who would hurt him or talk bad about him. "I regret that we had a confrontation in front of the students, but I do not regret what I did to her. She is lucky I didn't cast something painful. Everyone heard what she said about Kaiden and he is being harassed enough by the students as it is!"
"I know he is," Dumbledore said sadly. "I am going to have each Head of House talk with their students about how bullying will not be tolerated and give them information on Parselmouths. I will be having a talk with the whole staff about the subject as well." There was a knock on the door and Dumbledore waved his wand to open it. "That will be Aurora."
"What?" Severus turned and glared as the professor walked in, her eyes stormy.
"I think an apology is in order," Sinistra said primly.
"Oh, I completely agree," Dumbledore nodded. "Go ahead Aurora."
"Me?" Sinistra's eyes widened. "I meant them!" She pointed at Severus and Bella. When they stood up to face her, she backed away.
"I'm sure they will offer their own apology after you offer yours," Dumbledore said calmly. "You started this Aurora. The things you said were cruel and saying it loud enough for the students to hear was disgraceful."
Sinistra's face turned red and to her credit, she did look a tad regretful. "I didn't mean to speak that loudly." She admitted. "My concerns are real but I shouldn't have let the children hear me."
"Your concerns," Dumbledore said slowly.
"Yes, I still think a Parselmouth should not be here." Sinistra looked nervously at her colleagues.
"It is not your decision to make," Dumbledore replied. "You also said something incorrect earlier. All Parselmouths are not dark wizards."
"What?" Sinistra gasped.
"Paracelsus, a famous alchemist in the sixteenth century was also a Parselmouth. He was not in any way a dark wizard," Dumbledore said. "There are more, I will be handing out literature on it so that you and everyone else can be better educated. Having this gift does not make a wizard dark, it is what one chooses to do with the gift that defines them. However, because of attitudes like yours there may be many more Parseltongues out there, too afraid to let it be known about their ability due to misconceptions."
Sinistra glanced at the pamphlet the Headmaster had given her. "All right, perhaps I overreacted."
"Perhaps?" Bella scoffed.
"Frightful things have been happening here!" Sinistra defended herself. "Combine that with the news that your son is a Parselmouth...well, I admit I acted irrationally. I'm still concerned that your son can speak snake language but I concede that I don't know anything about it beyond rumors." She sighed. "I will read the literature you gave Albus. Bella, Severus, I'm sorry for what I said."
"Thank you," Severus said quietly. He saw Dumbledore give him a pointed look and hid a sigh of his own. "We apologize as well." Bella nodded but didn't say anything.
"Thank you Aurora," Dumbledore said, dismissing her.
Sinistra left and Dumbledore walked over to the window, his hands clasped behind his back. "If there is another attack, the Ministry wants Hogwarts closed until we figure out who is behind it."
Bella glanced at Severus for a moment. "Actually Albus, if there is another attack we planned to remove Kaiden from the school until the matter was solved. I don't blame the Ministry for wanting to remove the children from danger."
"I don't either," Dumbledore said softly. "Hogwarts has always been the students home, a place where they could feel safe."
"True," Severus murmured. "Well, for the most part." Being tricked into facing a werewolf certainly hadn't felt safe. But he had definitely felt more at home at this school than he had with his parents. If the school had had to close when he was a student, he would have been devastated.
"I need to figure out what is going on and soon," Dumbledore said. "Before it's too late."
Everyone was sick of being escorted to their classes and having the earlier curfew, grumbles could be heard throughout the hallways. The teachers and Prefects weren't happy about it either but took their new duty seriously. Each House had gotten a talk about Parselmouths and how not to bully or harass one another. Kaiden hadn't wanted to tell his parents that it hadn't really helped, most of the students just made their accusations and insults more quietly to him.
The good news was that Mandrake Restorative Draught was close to being ready, according to Madame Pomfrey. Kaiden couldn't wait and not just because he wanted the three victims to be okay. They would be able to not only clear him, but would be able to Id the real attacker.
It was Friday afternoon and Kaiden and his friends were waiting in the library for one of their prefects to escort them back to the common room.
"This is so annoying, we would be safe in a group," Draco huffed.
"We would get detention if we didn't wait," Hermione said as she packed up her book bag.
Marcus and Percy entered the library at the same time. "Ready to go?" Percy said. He frowned as he gazed at them. "We are missing a Gryffindor. Where is Neville?"
"He was just here," Pansy said as she, Blaise and Draco stood next to Marcus.
"He wouldn't have left on his own, would he?" Marcus asked with concern.
"He better have not," Percy said, looking alarmed.
"I saw him head over to the Reference Section," Kaiden said. "I'll go get him." He weaved his way through the aisles of books and found that Neville was in the back, sitting against the wall holding a book and shaking.
Neville looked up with wide eyes. "I can't take it anymore," He whispered.
"Can't take what?" Kaiden asked, kneeling down next to him.
"I don't know what is happening to me," Neville said in a trembling voice. "I don't want it anymore."
"Want what?" Kaiden asked, confused.
Neville held out the book he was holding. Kaiden reached out his hand and took the thin black covered book. He could tell it was a diary, a very old diary. It was faded but he could make out the year which told him it was fifty years old. Curious, he opened it and saw the name "T.M. Riddle" was written inside. Other than that, nothing else was written in the book.
"Where did you get it?" Kaiden asked.
"I found it in my bag," Neville mumbled. "Awhile ago. I thought it looked interesting but I think it's been..."
"Been what?" Kaiden encouraged.
"Hey, it's time to go!" Marcus called out to them.
Neville and Kaiden stood up. "Do you want me to take this?" Kaiden asked, still holding the book.
"I don't want it back. Ever!" Neville said, shaking his head. "It's a bad book Kaiden," He said in a low voice as they walked to where their classmates were waiting.
Kaiden didn't understand how some old diary that clearly hadn't been written in could be bad but for whatever reason it was upsetting Neville. "Don't worry about it," He said quietly as he shoved the diary into his book bag. "You don't have to deal with it anymore." Strange as it seemed, Neville looked a lot better than he had been. He was still pale with dark circles under his eyes but he wasn't shaking anymore and he looked far more relaxed. Why in the world would a blank diary upset be so upsetting? He wondered as he and his friends were led back to their common rooms.
"Hey Marcus?" He asked the prefect as they walked. "Have you ever heard of someone named T.M. Riddle?"
Marcus frowned in thought. "It sounds a little familiar..oh! Yeah, I've seen that name in the Trophy room." He grinned. "I got detention a couple of years ago and had to polish everything in there over and over again. He got an award for something...I can't remember what. Something he did for the school, I think? Anyway, he'd be old by now."
Yeah, he'd probably be in his sixties or seventies by now, Kaiden thought. But how in the world did this diary end up in Neville's bag?
Later that evening, sitting in the common room Kaiden flipped through the diary, thinking. Why would T.M. Riddle write his name in here and nothing else? "Hey, does anyone know of a spell that would reveal invisible ink?" He asked suddenly.
"Yes, you tap the object three times and say Aparecium," Pansy answered, looking up from her Charms book. "Why do you want to know?"
Instead of answering, Kaiden took out his wand and tapped the diary three times. "Aparecium!" Nothing happened.
"What book is that?" Draco asked curiously.
"It's an old diary," Kaiden said. "I was hoping something was written in it."
Pansy rambled through her bag and removed a bright red eraser. "Here, try this. It's a Revealer I got in Diagon Alley."
"Thanks!" Kaiden took it and rubbed hard on the January 1st page but nothing happened. He sighed. "Darn, it didn't work."
"Because it's just an empty diary," Draco said, going back to his homework. "What's the big deal with it?"
"Neville had it," Kaiden said. "For some reason, this diary was making him really nervous."
"Where did he get it?" Blaise asked.
"He said he found it in his bag a while ago."
"He probably got nervous for keeping something that wasn't his," Pansy suggested. "You know how sensitive Neville is. Did he try to find the owner?"
Kaiden shook his head. "The owner isn't at Hogwarts anymore. This diary is fifty years old. There's only a name in it which I asked Marcus about and he said he had seen the name in the Trophy room on an award for doing something for the school."
"Weird," Draco commented.
"Fifty years ago?" Pansy asked slowly, looking thoughtful.
Kaiden nodded, opening the diary again. He didn't know why he didn't just throw it away. For some reason, he felt this strange pull towards the diary and the mysterious T.M. Riddle. It was like he had to know more about him.
"What are the chances that whatever award Riddle got fifty years for the school had to do with the Chamber of Secrets being opened fifty years ago?" Pansy asked excitedly.
"You think so?" Kaiden asked, getting excited as well.
"Let me see it," Blaise said as he leaned over to look at the small book in Kaiden's hands, forgetting he was holding his quill. It dripped ink onto the diary. "Whoops, sorry Kaiden."
Kaiden stared in surprise as the ink absorbed into the diary. "Did you guys see that?"
"That was odd," Pansy breathed.
Excited, Kaiden took a quill and began to write on the first page. "My name is Kaiden Snape."
"Kaide -" Draco started to say.
"Look!" Kaiden exclaimed as his words faded and new words appeared.
"Hello Kaiden Snape. My name is Tom Riddle."
"Kaiden, don't write in it anymore," Draco said, looking alarmed.
"I think that is a dark artifact," Draco said slowly.
"Yeah, for it to think on its own..." Blaise murmured.
"Father has always said to never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain," Draco said. "Trust me Kaiden, there is something wrong with that diary."
"But it might know about the Chamber of Secrets!" Kaiden protested. "Let me just ask it."
"I think Draco is right," Pansy said, looking worried. "Give it to an adult."
"But," Kaiden sighed.
"Say it does tell you there is a Chamber. Are you going to go find it or tell your parents?" Draco asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I'd have to tell them," Kaiden said. "If I went looking for it, I would be grounded for...well, forever."
"Then give them the diary now and let them see what it says," Blaise said. "There's nothing we would be able to do with any information anyway."
Kaiden wished they would stop making sense. He really wanted to write in the diary. He tightened his hold on it when Draco tried to take it from him and glared at his cousin.
Draco stared at him. "Okay, now you're scaring me. You can't even let go of it can you?"
Suddenly feeling a flicker of fear, Kaiden stared down at the book. Why was he being so possessive of it? Remembering how sick Neville had been looking, he dropped the book on the table next to him. "I'll give it to my parents."
"Good," Draco said approvingly.
After getting his things together, Kaiden quickly dropped the diary into his book bag and searched for Marcus to ask him to walk him to his parents rooms.
Severus and Bella had each been grading papers when the knock on the door interrupted them.
"Kaiden?" Severus said in surprise, looking from his son the to Marcus.
"Sorry to interrupt Sir, but he really wanted to see you," Marcus explained.
Severus nodded and moved to let Kaiden in. "Thank you Marcus." He shut the door. "Are you feeling all right?"
"Yeah," Kaiden said a little nervously.
Severus frowned. "What's wrong son?"
Bella walked in and her eyes brightened. "Hi Snakeling, what are you doing here? Not that you need a reason." She said, giving him a hug.
"I need to talk to you guys," Kaiden said, lifting his book bag onto a table and pulling out the diary. "Have you ever heard of Tom Riddle?"
Severus and Bella both froze, staring at him in shock. "Why would you ask that?" Severus finally said.
"So you have heard of him?" Kaiden asked.
"Kaiden," Bella said slowly. "Tom Riddle is Voldemort's real name."
Kaiden was so shocked he dropped the diary. "I wrote my name to Voldemort?" He whispered to himself but his parents heard him.
"You what? Kaiden?"
Kaiden picked up the diary. "I got this earlier today. It's...Tom Riddle's diary. If you write in it, it...Tom writes back."
With alarm Severus grabbed the diary, looking it over. "How did you get this?" He asked urgently.
"I- " Kaiden hesitated, not sure if Neville would be in trouble for having kept the diary.
"This is important Kaiden," Bella said in a tense voice.
"Neville gave it to me," Kaiden admitted. "He found it in his book bag and, well, he was acting really upset and agitated. He wasn't making much sense so I took it from him."
"Merlin Severus," Bella murmured. "We need to take it to Albus."
"Yes," Severus agreed. He knew that the Headmaster had been looking for and destroying the Horcruxes that Voldemort had made. He had found several so far and Severus had a feeling that this diary could be one.
"Draco said that it might be a dark artifact," Kaiden said. "Is it?"
"Yes, I believe so," Severus said. "Thank you for bringing it to us."
"There's something else," Kaiden paused. "The diary is from fifty years ago and Tom won an award for the school fifty years ago. The Chamber was opened fifty years ago..." Kaiden bit his lip. "I was going to write in it and ask about that." He admitted.
"You – what?" Bella gasped. If this book was as dangerous as they thought it was...
Severus took a deep breath to control his anger that his son had come so close to danger. "Thankfully you didn't. This could be a very dangerous book. And remember, you are to stay away from anything to do with the Chamber."
"Snakeling, do you want to stay down here tonight or go back to your dorm?" Bella asked softly.
Kaiden figured his friends were wondering what had happened so he was going to answer his dorm but then Snidget and Mrs. Norris began rubbing their heads against his legs, purring loudly. Smiling, he answered, "I guess here."
Bella smiled. "Go ahead and get ready for bed then, okay?"
"Okay," Kaiden said and walked to his room with the two cats following him.
Severus stalked over to the fireplace and grabbed the tiny pot that held the floo powder. Tossing a handful in he yelled, "Albus, you need to come through immediately!"