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He was staring down at some kind of hallway and the view was what he would have if he were looking down from above the ceiling. Lowering his face so that his nose was a mere inch away from the glassy substance, he tried to get a closer look, to make some sense of what he was seeing. Where was this place? He leant even closer, tilting his head, trying to see. The tip of his nose touched the strange substance into which he was staring. The island gave an almighty lurch, for a brief moment, Harry thought the island was sinking and he was going to drown in that black lake and become one of the dead bodies floating around in it but then he was thrown forwards and pitched headfirst into the substance inside the basin. Harry braced himself for impact but his head didn't hit the stone bottom. He was falling through something icy cold and black; it was like being sucked into a dark whirlpool.
Suddenly Harry found himself standing in the hallway. He couldn't understand what had happened or how he had just gotten here, wherever here was. He stared up and was met with sight of a plain plastered ceiling, he had almost been expecting to see the shimmering surface of the substance in the basin. How was he ever going to get out of here? Well, it wouldn't really be a loss if he wasn't able to return. He might as well figure out where he was. Harry passed a glance around the hallway, it was practically filthy. The floor was chipped and covered with a thick layer of grime. Several cracks ran through the mould covered walls. Harry began making his way through the corridor, trying to assess what the place was when voices caught his attention. This place was actually inhabited? Somehow that shocked him because the place was uninhabitable. It looked downright miserable.
The more he walked, the more the voices grew louder, stronger, A woman's voice,
"You're here late tonight … Albus."
"Are we alone, Minerva?"
"Until dawn Albus."
Harry hadn't realized he had reached a door. He peered in carefully and saw a tall, thin with long hair and an auburn beard and dressed in a flamboyantly cut suit of plum velvet. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles. A tall, rather severe-looking woman stood at his side. Her body was full within the gray uniform,
"Who else shall be in attendance tonight?"
The woman spoke,
"Severus Snape and Dolores Umbridge."
The man smirked pleasantly,
"Ah, our very good friends and midnight companions."
The man, Albus, scratched his chin and pretended to think,
"Umbridge has the appetites of a woman. Several women."
Minerva, the woman chuckled nervously. Albus laughed heartily,
"I've noticed you and Umbridge enjoy one another."
"I enjoy many things, Albus. Especially your little puppets."
Harry couldn't make head nor tail of that conversation. Into a cavern of shadows. A small lamp flickered from a corner. Harry realized the space was a large supply room stocked with cans of food, barrels of cooking oil, metal bed frames for the floor, mattresses, light fittings and bulbs.
Call Severus and Umbridge. Hurry, then we'll go select tonight's puppets."
The room spun to show the far side, a broad set of double doors. Albus appeared beside the doors and they opened with a sound of thunder. Harry watched a white trail drift into the room with a slinky, feline grace. The trail was the smell of food. It began to fill the room like fog.
Harry followed them silently and watched as Albus made his way to a bed where a dark haired, pale young boy with huge brown eyes, handsome features and pale lips sat, his nose inspecting the scents in the air. He looked ten or eleven. The boy was more fragile than a glass ballerina that his aunt had once owned. He was holding himself like he was trying to take up even less space than he already had and his clothes looked at least a size too small, that only exaggerated his skinniness. He looked so lost. The boy's eyes did not register the man beside him, his face held no expression. Albus leaned until his mouth was at the boy's ear, he whispered.
"Tom? Are you hungry?"
From the far side of the long room another door opened and Harry turned to see Minerva appear from it with four small children following behind her. They drifted into the fog and disappeared. Harry forgot his hiding place and he nearly jumped when Albus led the boy, Tom straight past him. Harry's eyes widened in shock. It was as if they hadn't seen him at all. Was that possible? Harry followed them to the kitchen, where plates of food awaited and it became apparent to him that no one could see him.
Activity in the supply room caught his eye and he was drawn to it. A tall, dark haired man was pulling mattresses from a stack by the wall and setting them on the floor. Harry made his way back to the kitchen and his heart hammered in his chest. This wasn't right. He observed the children as they smeared their faces with food, eating without a word, as if alone. They looked like they were eating after several days. Harry felt his gaze drawn back to Tom, who wasn't eating as frantically as the other children. In fact, he looked like he wasn't eating at all. Albus stood at the head of the kitchen staring at the boys and smiling pleasantly. Something about the expression on his face sent shivers down his spine. There was something dark about the man, something utterly sinister. Then he saw it, thick black smoke emanating from the man, seeping out of his pores, swirling around his being. It was his soul. He was certain of it. Why couldn't the children see that? His gaze travelled to the woman, Minerva, who was emanating the same darkness. He was feeling suffocated. Harry was overcome by the urge to get away from this place.
The light flickered and the children were no longer in the kitchen but the supply room. They stood naked in the vibrating luminosity, tattered clothes at their feet. Harry closed his eyes and turned away his head. He wanted to run…wanted to hide…This was madness. Complete and utter madness and he would die rather than watch it. His feet refused to move though. Some unnatural force kept him glued to the spot. His eyes were forced open and he was compelled to watch in horror as the scene unfolded before his eyes. His gaze was drawn again to Tom who stood at the left end, his gaze distant and far away, the only boy who didn't have food all over his face. A sound caught Harry's attention, it seemed to have caught Tom's as well. A white cat was sitting on the outside ledge of a window, scratching at the glass. Tom spoke to the cat,
"Go away. Go away. t's not safe to be—"
the man named Snape spoke,
"What is that noise?"
Albus spoke casually,
"It is of no consequence. Some cat climbed the fire escape."
"Leave it to me,"
Harry noticed the woman for the first time. She was a short and squat resembling a large pale toad. She had a broad, flabby face, a wide, slack mouth, and little neck. Her eyes were bulging and pouchy, and in her mousy brown hair she wore a black velvet bow. Harry attributed her to the name he had heard earlier, Umbridge, her face was craned toward the window, a wide smirk gracing her lips. She set aside the bottle she had been drinking from and opened the window, multiple panes grated with steel. She coaxed in a poisonously sweet voice,
"Here, kitty kitty…Nice kitty kitty…"
She grasped the cat by the skin of its neck, her other hand under its thin belly, pulling it inside the room and holding it high like a prize. Her soul was just as dark as her companions. Her stubby hands moved to the cat's neck. A scream of horror rose inside Harry's throat as he realized what she was about to do. They made a fast twist and a cracking sound. The cat went limp as a wet dishrag and she threw it out the window. The scream escaped Harry's lips and he nearly sagged to the ground but a hand closed tight over his upper arm, holding it in a bone shattering grip and keeping him on his feet. Harry was very aware of the fact that he was screaming, screaming for the children, those monsters were going to hurt them. He wanted to do something, anything to help them. He had to do something. But before he could so anything, he felt himself rising into the air; the supply room evaporated around him; he was floating upwards through icy blackness and the impossibly tight grasp on his arm grew tighter.
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