Title: Chapter One
Summary: Chapter one of ‘Corridor Care’. After Dumbledore’s untimely death at the end of Draco’s fourth year the shunning of Slytherins has gotten to the point of physical harm for the members. With a not omniscient headmistress there are no staff members able to help, and those who belong to the snake house must band together to fight the opposing force – a force that looks remarkably like their expected future. With the entire house looking to Draco for protection and external guiding forces making increasing appearances, future prospects for the snakes look slim, no matter what Potter says.
Word Count: 5096
I returned from the Easter Holidays later then the rest of my housemates, my father was in a meeting with the Dark Lord, and he would not let me go without speaking to me first. At that point I did not know what was so imperative that he could not tell me before the gathering, or in a letter, but I stayed none the less. Father never hasn’t a good reason for doing something or not. Or at least, he never used to. I fear that servitude to the Dark Lord has changed him, he has become often foolish and rash. Or perhaps he is just getting old.
But the news he had…
As soon as I walked into the Common Room I knew something was wrong. The attacks had continued over the course of the last five months, to the point of us just beginning to feel safe before another one knocked us head on our arses. I believe they had realised they had to be more careful after Tom, Madame Pomphrey asked some pretty tricky questions. We are now learning healing spells and looking after the injured ourselves. Of course, I also believe our patrols have had an effect. There have only been four more attacks – all of our third year boys and Graham Pritchard, a second year. He’s a big second year though, and knows quite a bit more than some fourth year Gryffindor- and Hufflepuffs – not that that’s saying much mind. We just thank Merlin that the girls haven’t been hunted yet, though whether this is because they have some sense of decency or because the females can be more ferocious with their hexes we do not know, nor do we expect to. This one had obviously been a bad one, perhaps even the first female.
I take my seat before asking, it does no good to stand in the doorway when you could be comfortable, and it can project an air of confidence.
“Heard what Moyo?” Mojmir Yggdrasil is in first, and is usually insanely chatty and light hearted. To hear him so serious, and for him to not finish a sentence, had me worried.
“Theo said he heard his father talking.”
“Pansy…” Pansy is quite melodramatic. This time she didn’t pull it off.
“They’re thinking about initiating people early.” I bow my head.
“It’s true?” My silence is enough of an answer.
“I am to be first.” There was silence throughout the room. I raise my head. Horror, sorrow and resignation was written on every face, but no shock.
“Is that why you’re late?”
I pause. Many are struggling not to cry. Most are struggling to school their expressions. A few are not trying, letting their emotions have free range for once. I am pleased for them. They deserve it.
“Nothing Been.” Beena Roberts is our most emotional member. If I had to describe her with one word it would be bubbly. Everyone loves her, even the students not in Slytherin. I have more than once seen a Hufflepuff pat her on the head fondly, or a Ravenclaw get something for her, or a Gryffindor smile and laugh indulgently. She has even made Snape almost smile once, and she has been here just eight months.
“There is nothing we can do. Or if there is, I have not yet thought of it.”
“I suppose we could say that there is too much to risk, having a Dark Mark when we are directly under the nose of about half the Order members.” I shook my head.
“It has no guarantee of working. If he wants a spy within the castle it might, but for any other reason, and especially if he doesn’t want us to continue our education, it will not faze him in the least. If anything he would order us to be extra careful.”
It was at that point that the walls started fading to grey and slime covered, the chairs changing from soft to hard, the ornaments and decorations painstakingly and lovingly erected merging into walls and ceilings, trinkets and knickknacks sinking into the surface they rested on. In short, our home was being turned back into the dungeon that was expected. As it finished, Professors Snape and McGonagall entered. Many of us sneered, those who had had trouble masking their emotions had disappeared during the room’s changing, a few stood and left – there would be no more discussion tonight. I also debated leaving, but I knew it was likely me that they came for. Father had often said that Snape let first Dumbledore, then McGonagall know too much for a spy on our side, personally I believe that Snape tells them enough for him to still be trusted, and therefore make a useful spy. Apparently the Dark Lord agrees with me, from some of Father’s rants.
I forced myself to meet McGonagall’s eyes. She looked unusually severe, but also kind of crushed, resigned. I glanced at Snape and he too looked unusually sombre. It is unlikely that many people would be able to tell the difference, but I spent fifteen years around my mother. I know perfectly well how to read subtle differences in facial expression and body language. Admittedly though, in first year, and even up to third, I wouldn’t have been able to tell one emotion from another, except those Snape allows to get through his façade. Snape is just that good an actor.
“Mister Nott, misters Bletchley, misses and mister Moulde, miss and mister Warrington, miss and mister Bole, and miss Opani. If you could please accompany me to professor Snape’s office.” Theo, Leigh, Ric, Krystal, Altara, Roche, El, Tom, Elisha, Ed and Ana followed the professors out. No one spoke until well after the room had rearranged itself. Finally Sarah whispered:
“That’s nearly a quarter of us.” Everyone heard her. “All their parents… they’re all Death Eaters.” Silence reigned again.
“What the hell could have happened?”
“There was a raid.” We started and turned towards the door. Roche had an arm around his younger sisters, Altara and Krystal. Carefully he walked over to a loveseat that had somehow wound up in the room, pulled Krystal into his lap and tugged Tara down to sit next to him, not once letting go of her shoulders. Elisha and Ed followed them in, faces ashen. Leigh was leading El in, it looked like she was in shock, while Ric and Tom watched them protectively. Theo and Ana completed the picture, Theo clutching the tiny girl’s hand tightly, while she gripped her wand.
We waited until Ana had finished pulling up the wards before anyone spoke. Finally she turned around.
“It was a raid. I think there were about fifty Death Eaters there, or at least fifty witches or wizards on His side. Anyway, tonnes of them got caught. I think about fifteen or eighteen Death Eaters in total, although only about fifteen people got away. The rest were probably unimportant lackeys. Our parents… Theo’s dad, Ric and Leigh’s dad, my mum, Tara and Krystal and Roche-“
“Two of our aunts, one of our uncles and three of our cousins. None of whom are- or were Death Eaters, but they’re undoubtable dark wizards.” Ana nodded to acknowledge Roche before continuing the tale.
“Elisha and Ed lost both their parents, and Elaine- you remember Elaine?” Of course we all remembered her, or had heard about her. She’s their older sister, she graduated three years ago. They adored her, I didn’t like her so much, she was always a bit short with everyone except her immediate family. She, like the rest of the Bole’s, was also closely related to El and Tom, first cousins by marriage I believe.
“Elaine… she’s… she died.” El let out a sob, Tom and Leigh both tried to pull her close and Cheryl White hugged her legs, having previously been holding Leigh. Ana ploughed on regardless.
“El and Tom’s father almost lost his arm, and their mother is furious. I believe she threatened to throw him out if he came back in such a state again.” There were a few hysterical laughs, but they soon petered out, to be replaced by silence punctuated by a few dry sobs.
I struggled to think what to do. The problem was my mind was hazy. So much bad news, and so much at once… we’re only teenagers! I thought desperately. How can we be expected to know what to do, to cope with this…
How much I wished to simply throw a tantrum and have someone else work it out, to not have to worry about all this, only about tests, and popularity, and taunting Gryffindors – normal teenage stuff.
Reason won out, as did reality. We had classes in the morning, and it would be bad enough to face the school without being exhausted too.
“Bed everyone, I am correct in assuming no one has permission to skip classes?” At the collective negative responses I smiled at them. It was a wan smile, a bitter smile, a hard smile. It was not one of reassurance, but one of survival. And it was that smile that eased my housemates.
I sighed as I watched Draco storm into the Common Room just after curfew. In the fortnight since the captures of our families the rest of Hogwarts has been shunning Slytherins worse then ever, and of course our completely inept headmistress has been too blind to stop it from happening. Malcolm Baddock and Dai Kongfuze, our other second year boys, are yet more casualties, and they have started attacking the girls. Maia Mercury and Lani Auger, both fourth years, Toni Embollous, second, and Talisha Derrick and Beka Llomon, both third, have been beaten, and all when they were in pairs, although Maia, Toni and Lisha were beaten by other students, not our masked attackers.
It is incredibly ironic that the tormentors of Slytherin house are masked and caped, perhaps it is to say something of our parentage? Many of the others agree with me, and some refuse to see any humour in our situation. Zara and I have had quite a few chats about humour in unsavoury situations. Blaise thinks our sense of humour is deplorable, and Draco usually heads him off, but of course Draco is taking this situation personally, and while he finds ironic and amusing, he will never find it humorous. He is our king, and he will do anything to protect us, but I wonder when he will see that that is one of the causes of there being so many casualties.
Not that this is his fault, of course not! But all the attacks, since we have started organizing patrols – or more accurately since they realized we had patrols – have been on Draco’s rounds. Someone is using this as a way to get at Draco personally, and it has the added bonus of hurting the rest of Slytherin house.
“Tildy,” Matilda Elorda. Draco’s little protégée. He absolutely adores her, and the feeling is entirely mutual. In fact, I believe she was the one who gave him the idea about turning Slytherin into a family, for which we are all entirely grateful to him. I truly do not believe we would have survived without Draco.
But this must mean it is not another attack, as Tildy is currently doing her homework with Bee (Bianca) Keepre and Momo (Monique) Sage in the corner.
Tildy. They really kicked him in the gut this time.
“Tildy, why did you not tell me it was necessary to have a discussion with some of your Ravenclaw year mates?” It is truly amazing how quickly those words can send half our house the colour of porridge.
“Draco, your ‘discussions’ tend to make me nervous.” I love Tobe, I really do. He is always cautious, always knows his place, always knows when someone needs to be taken down a peg or two. He always knows what to say, when to back down and when to stand up. He is an amazing man. In fact, he did the most concerning our security, and many ideas are planted because he knows what to say and when to say it, leaving the most influential people with his ideas, not only believing they are good, but believing they made them up.
“You need discussions?” Now Mal was standing. He and Tildy are second cousins, and extremely close.
“I trust you to take care of it?” Draco is terrifying when he’s in this mood, he turns rather sadistic. I hope whoever he ends up with is able to handle him like this, be it friend or lover. I certainly can’t.
“Oh, we will.” Dai had a feral look on his face, and Mal was smiling. Graham simply nodded and resumed his potions essay. That was Graham for you: quiet, methodical, and, paradoxical to his brawn, the majority of the time a pacifist.
“No, you really don’t-”
“Oh I think we really do, Tildy.”
“You don’t even know what they did!”
“Discourtesy towards a lady is more then enough of an explanation.”
“Discourtesy of the worst kind. They need to be taught manners.” Well, whoever they are, they’re going to have a hell of a time for the next two and a bit years, and there won’t even be someone to blame for it. Purebloods learn subtlety before they can talk, or Malfoy’s do anyway.
“It’s fine, I don’t-”
“Be careful with what you do. Do not let it get violent save in words, do not make any below-the-belt insults, and do not react to any insults, of you or others, no matter how detestable they may be, and it is absolutely imperative that you do not threaten them in any physical or verbal way. Make them leave with a distinct feeling of unease and fear, but do nothing actively to ensure they leave with that perception.”
“Tobe’s right. Even a threatening aura can be used against you. Show some teeth in your grins, a hint of feralness and hardness in your eyes, and be nothing but cordial.” Of course Key was giving a lesson to the entirety of Slytherin house, and not just a warning to Mal, Dai and Draco. Graham hardly needs it, but I suppose if he stepped too close and at the wrong time, he could very easily be considered threatening.
Draco shot another approving glare around, then moved upstairs. Zar, Sarah, Blaise and I followed him, knowing that he needed to let go, but also knowing he was unable to. If we are there we can at least influence him into insults.
“What do you think Pans, reckon we could convince him to go after Potter?” Harry Potter; Gryffindor Golden Boy, The Boy Who Lived (or the Boy Who Just Won’t Die, depending on who you talk to) Our Saviour, The Chosen One, Draco Malfoy’s Enemy. Black hair that looks like a bird nested in it, green eyes, glasses, scar, The Harry Potter. It is absolutely astounding (and incredibly amusing) that the only one who can make Draco reveal his true emotions every time is the one he has to hate. Harry Potter would be good for him now, but the resulting detention wouldn’t.
“Come now Zar, you know as well as I do that he’d fret himself silly if the detention fell on one of his patrol times.”
“Girls! Stop sending Draco after the poor boy! Our saviour will be nothing but frozen ash soon!”
“Come Blaise, I can’t be that terrifying.” Draco was leaning against the door, amusement lurking in his eyes.
“Oh but Draco dear, you are.” He glared at Sarah as she walked into the dorm.
“Why do you think none of us want to marry you?” Zar got a glare as well, but this one from Blaise.
“Here I was thinking that it was because no lady would be able to stand looking like the ugly one in the relationship.”
“Yes, yes Draco, you’re so pretty. Maybe you should marry someone completely butch, then be the wife.” Zara untied her hair and started finger combing it, ignoring the tug Draco gave it.
Blaise snorted. “You do spend enough time on your hair to be a girl.”
“Look who’s talking! How many hair potions do you have again Blaise?” Sarah once saw the inside of the boys’ bathroom, she has never let them live it down.
The dark boy tossed his head “Enough.”
Draco leaned back, watching the banter with amusement. I felt a pang of sadness, he looked so tired; of school, of expectations, of Dark Lords, of prejudice; he’s too young to be world wary. But we all are. We’re cynical and jaded, and if anyone in Slytherin isn’t now they will be before they finish school. It’s a pity; such bright, clever, hopeful young minds, they have no place in the outside world. Because that’s what it is, there’s a world for children and a world for adults, and school is the way you get catapulted into adulthood. This family thing, the banter, the good times; it’s just a break. They’re just breaks, but Merlin do we need them.
“Pansy!” I roll over, trying to shake off the annoying voice attempting to pull me out of my slumber.
“Pansy! Get up!” Why are they not going away?
“Pansy! Up!” I open my eyes. Ella Boon, Tobe’s younger sister, is standing above me.
“There’s something you need to see. Come down to the Common Room.” I sit up and wait for her to leave so I can prepare, at least partially, for the day. She doesn’t move.
“Now Pansy!” This must be important. Appearing in the Common Room in nightwear is something almost never done in Slytherin. As we are walking down the stairwell I notice the walls. They are not covered with memorabilia, but with slime. Someone who is not a Slytherin student is in the house. I glare at Ella and turn back, but she pulls me down the rest of the staircase.
The Common Room is trashed. That is quite honestly the only way to describe it. All of the furniture has been desecrated in some way, either by being tipped over, scratched or had huge chunks carved out of it. A slimy substance covers almost everything, and there are feathers everywhere from the couches. Rude and degrading messages have been written on the walls in a way vaguely reminiscent of the ‘heir of Slytherin’ fiasco in second year, and along with the messages comes the side note “written in the blood of your helpless, innocent victims”. I always did think the paint looked like unicorn blood, of course completely ignoring the fact that that unicorns are arguably not innocent (even they must copulate), and are certainly not helpless. This is of course only the beginning of the damage, it honestly looks like giant cats and Cornish pixies were left here to battle it out.
“What is this?” Everyone turns. Draco is standing at the foot of the stairs, surveying the room in anger.
“Well Draco, darling, it seems someone has deemed it necessary to creep into our Common Room in the dead of night to trash it, write insulting messages on the wall in what appears to be unicorn blood, and trap a fucking Asp in the fireplace!” Alright, I didn’t know about the Asp. I touch Zara’s shoulder to find she is literally shaking. She needs to calm down, all she is achieving at the moment is to rile Draco up.
“Show me.” Okay, rile Draco up more. We move to the fireplace, and indeed there is a full-grown, and very angry, Asp there. It seems to be unable to get out, for which I am extremely grateful. I glance at Zara and see she has gotten the significance of the Asp as well as I have. For a start we are Slytherins, the snake house, and I am well aware that we are often called ‘poison Snakes’, then there was the whole Cleopatra fiasco, who killed herself using her house fauna (no, she did not go to Hogwarts, by house I mean the house of her family. They have since changed their fauna, and deny it ever being the Asp), then on top of that there is numerous amounts of student family history, not to mention the one whom we are supposed to swear allegiance to, and we all know he is the most poisonous snake of them all, all in all it is a very good message by itself, if only it weren’t so dangerous! And how are we to get rid of it? What would it look like if we were seen carrying one of the most poisonous snakes in the world through the castle?
“Who is here?” It seems Draco has had enough of staring at the snake. Not that I can talk, as I have been doing the exact same thing.
Is it spitting poison? I didn’t even know that was possible for an Asp.
“No one Draco. I awoke early this morning to work, and when I saw the couches slashed I wondered what else had been done to the room and removed the enchantments. It’s lucky I did, or we would have burned the snake alive.” Of course. The plusher couches are a part of our Common Room, as well as the original one. The walls would have probably been covered up by the knickknacks hanging on them, which is the same as most of the tables and other surfaces. Even the fireplace has logs in it in ours, in the original it is false fire that needs no kindling and emits no smoke. We prefer the crackle and psychological warmth a real fire provides us with, but the Asp might not, especially if it was in the fire while it was lit.
“Draco, we need to clear this up. And we can’t be late for breakfast or classes, or the rest of the school will know something’s wrong.”
“Not that they’d care.” I pinch Zara. By saying that she is completely undermining Sarah’s point, and while what she said is true, Sarah’s point is a necessary one.
Draco starts issuing orders of how to clear it up. Those in nightwear disappear up the stairs to get ready for the day, and when we reemerge downstairs it is to work in silence until it is time to leave.
It is at the end of the day, and we have just spent the last three hours clearing up are resetting the room enchantments, then doing the usual things, albeit a bit quieter. We have yet to discuss this morning, and we will not until our king is ready. At the moment he is doing Herbology homework.
Again I observe the House. Everyone is here save Fiona Kamplex and Martin Onrin, both third years. Fi decided to get a book out of the library about Asp habitats and diet for Joule Prescot, Christopher Yeager and Cheryl White. Joule and Chere want to keep it, Chris wants to show it is impossible, and most of the house has been drawn into the debate. Martin insisted on accompanying Fi, as he has been attacked already and the masked ones seem to be concentrating on hurting the whole house, as opposed to repeatedly targeting the same people.
I check the time. Fi and Martin should have been back by now. A tendril of unease worms its way into my stomach, and I glance around. Xenon Mackenzie, Martin’s best friend and the third third year boy, catches my eye and nods to Draco. I wince. Worrying Draco about this is one of the last things I want to do at the moment. Xen raises his eyebrows at me and moves to get up. I make a slashing motion with my eyes and turn to our king.
“Draco darling, Fi and Martin aren’t back yet.” I was treated with an icy stare.
“And why did you allow two third years out alone, especially after what happened today?”
“Well-” fortunately the portrait opened at that point, and Fi and Martin stepped through. Martin was supporting a burn on one cheek, and Fi was almost aflame with anger. Blaise quickly moved to heal the burn, and Sarah started checking Fi for injuries.
“Leave me alone Sarah, it’s just Martin. We were exiting the library and Smith hexed him. Filthy-”
“Fi, language. It’s just a stinging jinx, I’ll be fine.” Blaise nodded and finished healing the welt, and Fi dumped the books on the table the debaters were convened around.
“Are we keeping the snake?”
“We can’t! It’s absolutely stupid, not to mention completely impractical and exactly what everyone expects of us!”
“Actually Chris, I think our attackers expect us to get rid of it, perhaps vanish it or simply take it outside.”
“And what’s wrong with either of those!” Chris needs to learn to think from an open viewpoint and not let his emotions make him say stupid things. He hasn’t mastered that technique yet, and Joule is quick to jump on the opening he left.”
“If we vanish it it would be considered inhumane, and if we just take it out of the castle and leave it it would probably bite a student within seconds! That’s-”
“Look, let’s just keep it in there for now and read the books to see if it’s possible to keep!”
“No Chere! You’re letting your want to keep the animal influence you-”
“And you’re letting your dislike of the Asp influence you.”
“What would Snape or McGonagall say if they saw it in our fireplace! Think of the practicalities! How would we light a fire, how would we feed it, who would feed it, how would we replicate it’s habitat, how would we keep it hidden, why would we go to all that trouble if we can be done with it within a minute!” Both Joule and Chere open their mouths to retort, as do Been, Leigh, Ella, Momo, Daph, Ed, Tara and Blaise. It’s Draco who gets there first though.
“Don’t be obtuse Chris, you know as well as I do that we can easily simulate a perfect environment and have it as part as our Room, and I’m certain most of Slytherin will be lining up to feed it. But honestly, you want to keep an extremely poisonous snake for a pet? It could just as easily escape and bite anyone, not even necessarily one of us, and then we would have to explain why there is an Asp in the castle.” He sighs and raises his hand, only to lower it again. My eyebrows shoot up. Draco once told me that he used to run his hand through his hair when he was stressed, but he stopped when he was about seven. This must be getting to him worse then I thought if he is almost dredging up habits from nine years ago.
“This idea obviously isn’t working. Go to bed. We will have the new plan in the morning.”
We stay, us ‘mature’ ones. It is hilarious that others think the older you are, the more mature you are. It simply does not work that way, maturity is mental age, not physical. There are many of the younger years we could include in these meetings, but their time will come. Now isn’t then.
“This plan is working well. I have no doubt that there would be more casualties if we were not patrolling.” I honestly believe that, I also believe that if Draco didn’t patrol so often there would be fewer people hurt.
“This isn’t just about patrolling anymore Pansy. They attacked our Common Room. They put an Asp in our fireplace!”
“But they sealed it in so it couldn’t harm us while we were unaware of it.” Draco (and most of the others) give me an incredulous look. I smile at them. Adrian sighs. It is obvious that the dark haired Chaser is having trouble with today’s situation. I don’t blame him, home is sacred, the last fortress. It is perhaps a good sign that they are not ready to kill as of yet, but how long it takes for that to change I am not sure.
I glance around. Everyone is incredibly weary. A good nights rest will not cure what ails us, but it will certainly help. We need to sleep before we have this meeting, a fresher opinion and all that. But-
“We need stronger wards.” -Draco will keep us going until we have a solution, or he will send us off to bed and work thrice as hard himself.
“How will we explain it to anyone who comes wandering here?”
“Is there even a type of ward that would allow only one type of person through?”
“Of course there are, the question is do we have enough power. We will need to both make it undetectable and strong. That takes a lot of magic.”
“If we have it up all day-”
“Enough.” Everyone looks at Sarah in surprise. She is scowling at us, hands resting on hips.
“Everyone is exhausted. The only thing we will achieve by this meeting is run ourselves ragged. The best thing to do is gather information then have this meeting at another time, preferably not in the middle of the night. For now we will continue with the patrols and discuss the merits of protection spells when we have more information and understand what we’re talking about.” Blaise is nodding in agreement, and looks as if he would offer to be the brute force (or spell force) if someone disagreed.
“What about the snake?” Draco sighs again, and almost runs his hand through is hair again. He must be absolutely exhausted, though I suppose nearly nine months of being hunted in the only place you feel safe would do that to you.
“It can stay for now. I will tell the others in the morning. If it is not being cared for properly, comes close to harming a student, or is too distracting we will think of a way to return it to it’s natural habitat. Sarah’s right. I expect to see everyone well rested tomorrow, ensure you have a full nights sleep.”
“That includes you Draco.” Sarah had switched her steely gaze onto him, and the rest of the House silently back her. He turns around to give us a half-smile.