42 The writing on the wall
Sir Patrick appeared back out of the wall with a pale face.
"H-how! What! W-why is your head off!"
Nick rolled his eyes.
"Because I'm headless, duh."
"B-But you are Nearly Headless Nick!"
"Was. Now I'm Headless Nick."
"Impossible! This can't be!"
"Well It doesn't matter." Said Nick with an annoyed face.
"I don't want to join the headless hunt anymore. You people are rude and disrespectful."
"B-But it was your wish to join the hunt-"
"I said I changed my mind."
Arth took this as an opportunity to sneak out of the party with Hermione in tow.
Arth was very cold by now, not to mention hungry.
"I can't stand much more of this," Hermione muttered, his teeth chattering, as the orchestra ground back into action and the ghosts swept back onto the dance floor. However, the orchestra played music in a dead panned manner, which caused the already terrible screeching to become even worse.
"Let's go," Arth agreed. "The music is going to kill me, and I'm starving as hell."
They backed toward the door, nodding and beaming at anyone who looked at them, and a minute later were hurrying back up the passageway full of black candles.
"Pudding might not be finished yet," said Arth hopefully, leading the way toward the steps to the entrance hall. "I hope they have some turkey left over too."
"What is it with you and turkey, seriously. It's like you are addicted."
They were making their way down the great hall when they heard a scream.
Arth and Hermione glanced at each other once before rushing towards where the sound came from.
When they arrived, they saw that there was already a gathering of people.
"Move out, get away! What's the problem."
Hermione tried her best to force her way through the crowd but no one was listening.
The people who were clumping together let out a shiver before making way for Arth and Hermione.
Arth coolly made his way towards the scene.
Hermione stared on with a jealous look.
"... your skill sure does incite my jealousy."
"Why? It doesn't even work that well."
"Didn't it just work like really well?"
"It's because it was something simple. Otherwise, they would just ignore me-"
Arth froze as he had finally seen what was causing the commotion.
Something was shining on the wall ahead. Foot-high words had been daubed on the wall between two windows, shimmering in the light cast by the flaming torches.
THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED.
ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE
"What's that thing — hanging underneath?" Asked Hermione with a slight quiver in his voice.
As they edged nearer, Arth noticed that there was a large puddle of water on the floor which was unusual. When Arth got closer, he realized what it was at once and frowned.
Mrs. Norris, the caretaker's cat, was hanging by her tail from the torch bracket. She was stiff as a board, her eyes wide and staring.
A rumble, as though of distant thunder, told them that the feast had just ended. From either end of the corridor where they stood came the sound of hundreds of feet climbing the stairs, and the loud, happy talk of well-fed people; next moment, students were crashing into the passage from both ends. More and more people were joining them by the minute.
The chatter, the bustle, the noise died suddenly as the people in front spotted the hanging cat. The people who were already there stood in the middle of the corridor, as silence fell among the mass of students pressing forward to see the grisly sight.
Then someone shouted through the quiet.
"Enemies of the Heir, beware! You'll be next, Mudbloods!"
It was Draco Malfoy. He had pushed to the front of the crowd, his cold eyes alive, his usually bloodless face flushed, as he grinned at the sight of the hanging, immobile cat.
Arth hit Malfoy with a body petrification spell and left him alone. Idiotic Malfoy who never learns his lesson... probably Arth constantly erased his memory.
Arth sighed before turning towards a petrified first year.
"Someone go tell Filch his cat has been attacked."
"Yes, or tell someone else to do it."
Arth analyzed the petrified cat with a worried look. He reached out to touch it, only to be stopped by Hermione.
"Arth! Why would you touch her! She is dead-"
"She isn't, she's only petrified. I don't know why but she isn't dead."
"She isn't. It only looks as though she is dead but she is petrified."
"How do you know?"
"There are no external wounds on her body and she wasn't old enough to die of natural causes. She is also to unnaturally stiff, even if it is rigor mortis and the way she died is weird."
Arth ignored the protesting Hermione and reached out to feel Mrs. Norris's fur.
"If she was dead, she would've fallen to the floor instead of hanging on the torch bracket. And she seems almost peaceful, not panicked or in pain."
There was a sound of shuffling of feet as the first year boy and Filch came stumbling in.
"What's going on here? What's going on?"
Argus Filch came shouldering his way through the crowd.
Then he saw Mrs. Norris and fell back, clutching his face in horror.
"My cat! My cat! What's happened to Mrs. Norris?" he shrieked.
And his popping eyes fell on the students around him.
"You!" he screeched. "You! You've murdered my cat! You've killed her! I'll kill you! I'll—"
"Filch. Your cat is ok. She isn't dead."
"Yes it's me. Calm down and let's talk about this."
Everyone stopped and stared in amazement as Filch listened to the words of a student.