Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. Dangerverse belongs to Anne Walsh. If you haven't read Anne's stories I suggest you do so. Besides the fact they're very, very, good, this story will make a bit more sense having read them.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Armando Dippet hummed cheerfully as he finished some paperwork. It was a fine, springy day and he was in quite a good mood. He put aside his pen, and neatly stacked his papers in front of him. The sound of children laughing came to him through the open windows, and he beamed proudly at the portraits hanging on the wall. And some of the teachers have been talking among themselves about me! Saying untrue things. That I'm inept, and silly. Mentally he stuck his tongue out at them. Am not. He thought to himself. And I have no doubt any of the students would agree with me.. He glanced up at a knock on the door. "Come in." He called. His transfiguration professor and Deputy-Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, came in. "Hello Headmaster," he began, "I've been meaning to speak to you about young Riddle…"
"Oh, no need!" Armando said cheerfully. "I was somewhat worried myself." He beamed. "But Mr. Riddle is doing quite well! He even seems to be gathering friends from the upper-classmen, and the prefects! It's amazing enough for a muggleborn, let alone a muggleborn in Slytherin. There's no need to worry Albus, but thank you for taking the time to talk to me." He waved his hands animatedly towards the door. "It's a glorious day out! Why don't you take the day off? Visit London, I heard they have a new sweet shop." Armando added, eagerly. Dumbledore paused, but walked out the door.
Armando frowned at the door. "I don't think he believed me." He spoke aloud. "Humph. He thinks I'm a bad Headmaster. He's probably even behind the rumors." He scowled as he began levering his frail body from the chair. With a grunt of effort, the Headmaster rose from his seat, and then tottered over to stand in front of the fireplace. The murmurs of the portraits followed him. He glared at the portraits, and they quieted. It's the fault of these old Headmasters. He scowled at the portraits. They all did great things. Then when a Headmaster comes along that only does good things, everybody criticizes him. He turned around, and his eyes found one portrait in particular. "And it's all your fault!" He pointed at the portrait. "Thank you, Helga Hufflepuff," He shouted at the startled picture. "For starting this ridiculous tradition."
Behind him a hole appeared in the wall beside the fireplace.
Armando scowled at the portrait, then turned back to the fireplace. "Great Googily-Moogily!" He jumped back. Was that here before? His thoughts raced, as he slowly approached the hole. He warily put his hand in the hole then, with a yell, quickly pulled it back. He eyed the hole, waved his hands inside it a bit, then leaned back. "Humph. Seems safe enough." He considered the hole, growing more excited. "Armando Dippet: Discoverer of mysterious Hogwarts passageway." He whispered. "Armando Dippet: explorer extraordinaire." He spoke a bit louder and smiled widely at the hole in the wall. He leaned a bit closer and peered down the hole. There seemed to be a slanted tunnel beyond. Almost like a slide. Armando mused. The only light was coming from his office – after a few feet the light faded entirely. There was a small bar hanging in front of the slide. He reached for the bar, but wasn't strong enough to pull himself up with it. Armando looked around his office, ignoring the shocked portraits, for something to stand on. He pulled a sturdy-looking chair over to the entrance then climbed up it into the hole. He pushed off from the entrance, and fell down the slide.
The portraits began exclaiming loudly as his terrified shriek echoed up the tunnel
Armando screamed loudly as he sped down the slippery slide. It seemed to go on forever. Then it ended. The bottom dropped out from under the slide and he found himself falling. He glimpsed a bright light. Am I in Heaven? Then he hit the ground. It gave beneath him and choked as water rushed into his lungs. His eyes opened and he swam upwards to the light above him. He burst above the surface and flapped his arms about trying to find a hard, and preferably not wet, surface. There was an edge of… something, to his right and he paddled towards it. He grabbed at it and pulled himself up a bit out of the water. He sputtered a bit, clearing the water from his lungs, as he looked around the room.
He was in a giant bathtub.
The Headmaster coughed as water hit the rim of the tub and splashed over the sides. He reached out to grab over the edge, but it was too slippery. I wish I had a small staircase or something coming out of the pool. He thought, desperately. His hands slid over the wet tiles. He glanced back, then did a double-take. Small ripples made their way across the pool, heading out from a point to his left. His feet abruptly found purchase as a short staircase rose from the water underneath him. He lost his balance and nearly fell back in the tub, but was able to pitch himself forward to fall heavily on the wet floor instead.
Armando gasped for breath and looked back at the tub. It sat there and did nothing. Armando shivered and pulled himself slowly to his feet. I don't think I want to be here anymore. He spotted a door on the far wall and made for it. Armando hesitated, briefly, before opening the door. What if there was something horrible on the other side? He snorted. Some horrible thing at Hogwarts? Balderdash. It will probably come out behind the tapestry of Wendelin the Weird in the fifth floor corridor or some such place. He turned the doorknob, fully expecting he'd find himself in some old hallway at Hogwarts.
But all he found was a near empty room. In the middle was a table with twelve chairs around it. There were twelve doors leading from it, including the door he had just came out of. He ignored the center room, and headed for the door next to him.
Eleven doors and several curses later, Armando sat wearily at a chair in the center room. Eleven doors and not one leads out. He stared blankly at the table. I'm cold. He thought, morosely. And wet. How long have I been gone? He wondered. I need to get a watch. He sighed. It must be near lunch now. I'm hungry. I wonder what the house-elves are making.
He sat straight up at that thought. House-elves. House-elves could go anywhere in Hogwarts. Surely they could get him out of here. Besides he was the Headmaster. They had to obey him.
"I need a house-elf now." He spoke to the room.
A small house-elf stood before him. "Yes Headmaster, Sir?" She asked. Armando pulled himself from his chair. "I want to leave these rooms." A pause. "I could do it myself, but I don't want to." He added, trying to save face.
"Yes sir, Headmaster, sir." She said quietly.
Armando found himself back in his office. The house-elf waited at his elbow. "Was there anything else Headmaster wanted?" She asked.
"No, that will be all." He ignored the noise from the house-elf leaving, and turned towards the wall. The hole was gone. He frowned at the wall, then resolved to tell his Deputy Headmaster all about it later. He heard a quiet snigger behind him, and glanced up to see the past Headmaster's smirking at him. "Lose something?" Phinneas Black asked.
Armando resolved to tell his Deputy Head much later.