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The Eagle and the Snake by ThestralHowl27
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
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~ The Eagle and the Snake ~
There were people all around him. Black robes ruffling against each other as the 11-year-olds underneath were trying to keep up with the teacher that was leading them. Professor Merrythought, her name was as she introduced herself to the first years. Most of them remained quiet and watched her with apprehension as she did and then as she lead the way deep into the castle that will soon become their future school. Others, a select few, were brave and maybe ventured to tell a joke out loud that brought on a few awkward chuckles from their peers.
They were a large crowd, impatient and anxious about the new environment they found themselves in. Some of them knew – or they thought they knew – all about the greatness of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, especially if their parents were wizards themselves. Those who weren’t as lucky simply gave themselves to fate and let it take the reins of their destiny. With both parents as Muggles, there was nobody and nothing else to turn to.
They all chatted amongst themselves as they walked up the long staircases of the castle. The Sorting hadn’t even started yet and most of them already found another soul to bond with in this time – whether it was because of friendliness or fear.
Tom walked by himself, in no way seeking the presence of another and distancing himself from any approaching figure. He shied away from any stranger’s touch, whether it was accidental or otherwise. In all his years of solitude in the orphanage, instead of trying to avoid it, he sought it out, even thrived in it, because it was the only environment he felt comfortable in.
The mass of first years stopped at the end of the staircase, but not because it was the end of the road – far from it. Above them there were several more staircases, and Tom was sure there were many other levels beyond. He had seen the castle outside when he stepped out of the boat. Not to mention that their journey in the world of magic had only just begun.
There was a figure at the end of the staircase. Recognition dawned upon Tom just as he laid eyes on the man standing before them. Professor Dumbledore, he called himself, Tom recalled.
He looked different than when he first – and last – saw him, for Tom never saw him again after his visit at the orphanage. He had been true to his word and let Tom fend for himself in Diagon Alley. It took some getting used to, but like he told Dumbledore, he could take care of himself.
When he visited him at the orphanage, he was wearing a very odd plum suit that no doubt attracted attention to him on his way there. Now the color was similar, but the suit was replaced with long, floor-length robes.
“All the first years are here, Professor Dumbledore,” said Professor Merrythought.
“Thank you for showing them the way, Galatea,” Dumbledore smiled at the witch. “You may join the rest of the teachers now in the Great Hall.” The witch left down the staircase and out of sight. Tom didn’t glance at her twice. His eyes were only for Dumbledore. The wizard looked away from the retreating figure and peered over the mass of first years. As if seeing the many emotions that were mingled in that cramped space, his eyes seemed to take on a gentle understanding. Tom continued to watch him warily, oddly distrustful of him. Although the wizard had been nothing but kind to him, Tom sensed something about him that he couldn’t really trust.
“Follow me,” he said in voice that held both an order and a request as he turned around. He walked up toward the pair of intimidating wooden double doors and swung them open. The first years followed, some right away, others more reluctantly until they filled the small room before them.
Tom could hear chatter, but it was strangely muffled. His dark eyes darted to the door in front of them that was much like the one they just passed. His eyes rested on Dumbledore once again.
The teacher turned around and regarded everybody over his half-moon spectacles. “Welcome to Hogwarts,” he said brightly, “You will join your classmates shortly, but first you will be Sorted into your proper House.
“There are four Houses at Hogwarts,” he paused briefly, as if for more effect, “Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Every single House has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While successes give you points for your House, breaking the rules will deduct points. At the end of the year, the House with the most points will win the House Cup.”
The corners of his mouth lifted up in a kind smile. “I hope each and every one of you will do your best. Now,” he rubbed his hands together enthusiastically, an excited gleam appearing in his sky blue eyes. “The Sorting Ceremony will begin shortly. Please wait here quietly until we are ready to receive you.” And with another pleasant smile, he turned around and left.
The first years waited until Dumbledore was out of sight before the chatter began. Some of them still bothered to whisper, but most of them didn’t. They were alone now.
“What House do you want to get in?”
“Slytherin is full of snobs.”
“I hope I get in Gryffindor!”
“How do you think they will choose our House?”
“Do you think we can pick?”
Tom tried his best to tune everything out, and he succeeded. Mostly. The experience acquired at the orphanage to tune out the shouts and arguments and cries of the other children was paying off. And this crowd was not much bigger than how many children there were at the orphanage, therefore it shouldn’t be much harder to close his mind to the annoying chatter. Then why was he having difficulties?
He sighed heavily and scowled, his dark brows arching heavily over his equally dark eyes. He supposed he was a little nervous after all. This was a big day in his life. The beginning of everything. The answers will soon come as well as all the secrets of magic that he had desperately wanted to discover ever since he found out. Maybe he will finally find out more about his father. Tom Riddle. The hag from the orphanage, Mrs. Cole, told him that that was his father’s name. She told him that his mother, when she gave birth to him, wanted him to be named Tom after his father and Marvolo after his grandfather.
He didn’t even wonder about his mother anymore. The sheer ludicrousness of the thought of her having died didn’t make him the least bit interested in her and her death. She had obviously been a weakling, with no magical powers.
Tim sighed again, and the scowl didn’t leave his face. He didn’t want to think of his parents right now. That he will leave for later. There were too many people around him. Too many distractions. Too many people with smiling faces and too many accidental brushes against his arm. It made him excruciatingly uncomfortable. He pushed his way against the opposing forces in front of his to make his way out of the crowd. His future classmates looked at him, some questioningly, others annoyed at the disruption.
Whatever they found in his eyes as their gazes locked, one by one, widened their eyes at him and then looked away. One by one, they got out of his way. Nobody looked after the antisocial boy who sought solitude.
Finally, he reached the end of the mass of people. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed there were a few others on the side, away from the core, but he paid no attention to them.
Instead, he let his mind wander freely to the glorious fact that in just a few moments he will be Sorted in a House and the next day he will start studying all the secrets of magic. He wondered greedily about all the things he will learn in seven years and how powerful he will eventually become.
In the middle of his pondering, he heard a small, barely audible gasp that was so unfamiliar and out of place that it cut through his concentration and he lost his trail of thought completely. The interruption angered him and his dark eyes peered around him, searching for the source. While doing so, his mind thought back to the sound. Somehow, it could only associate it with the word “innocent.” The term was thoroughly foreign to him, never having met anybody or anything that was remotely innocent in his life. Never before had he had to use that term. His frown deepened.
In no time at all, since there were only a few people away from the crowd, he found the source of the gasp. And she was looking straight at him, as if she had acknowledged him long before he had her.
The first and only thing he noticed about her was the eyes that were watching him so intently. They were a deep, bright blue eyes that were accentuated by a pair of thick, dark eyelashes. Meeting those eyes momentarily stunned him. He had never seen eyes like those before. Then it struck him. His assumption could not have been more wrong. There was absolutely nothing innocent about those eyes. The way they bored into his, the way she didn’t look away, though not due to her stubbornness, but out of pure fearlessness. Tom glared and, where everybody else looked away and got out of his way, she stood there, holding his dark eyes with a look that could only be described as mere curiosity.
Tom continued to glare, though her lack of emotion and response unnerved him slightly. Her gaze was almost uncomfortable to hold. Those eyes reflected wisdom, another trait he hadn’t encountered before and he could almost feel her looking into his soul and the past that he was desperately trying to uncover. He could almost feel her turning each page in his heart, reading his every secret.
He couldn’t stand that feeling any more and, finally, he was forced to look away.
There were so many emotions that Rin was feeling at the same time, it was hard for her to distinguish which one’s were hers anymore. Platform Nine and Three Quarters, the train ride and now finally at Hogwarts. Once she stepped within the castle grounds, the mixture of so many feelings from so many individuals knocked the breath out of her and she even lost her balance. Rin fell heavily to the ground on all four limbs, breathing hard.
She remembered vaguely somebody going to help her up, but she couldn’t recall the face. The person asked her if she was all right. Rin simply nodded feebly and gave her helper a half-hearted thank you. She knew she had to get a hold of herself otherwise she might attract unwanted attention, but she couldn’t find the strength to do so.
Never, in all living memory, had she been surrounded by so many people at once. But she knew that if she was to attend this school, she will have to work things through somehow.
Some unseen force made her emerge from the shock and follow her peers. Rin had no idea what she was getting into, which was both exhilarating and frightening for her. She had absolutely no knowledge of magic what so ever. Her parents were non-magic folk, so they couldn’t provide any input. She was all alone in a completely foreign world.
She was just as frightened as everyone else, possibly more so. But what drove her to come here, more than anything else, was her fascination with magic. As a commoner and raised as one, she didn’t know about anything else other than what she’d learned. To not believe things unless proven they exist or if she’s seen them with her own eyes. Perhaps that was why she was here. Perhaps it was pure curiosity.
She couldn’t exactly explain it to herself, but she wanted to come. A deep fear of change from the world she grew up to know to something completely unfamiliar engulfed her. That fear combined with everybody else’s fears and anxieties and insecurities and excitement almost knocked the breath out of her tiny body. Rin panted slightly and tried to control her breathing, in, out, in, out. She kept going.
They came to a meeting point, she heard some words exchanged, but she couldn’t comprehend their actual meaning. Her head was pounding harshly and it didn’t seem like it was going to stop anytime soon. How will she be able to concentrate in her classes and on her studies like this?
Rin brought her slim fingers to her temple, pressed lightly, then gave up. Before she knew it, they were walking again. She raised herself on her tip-toes and saw a tall figure in plum robes swinging open a pair of wooden doors. She frowned. She didn’t recall Professor Merrythought to have plum colored robes, but she dismissed the thought. She probably wasn’t paying attention. Rin quickly retreated to a less crowded part of the room, away from the chatter. Though that didn’t dim the pounding pain in her head, it relaxed her somewhat.
When the figure turned around, she saw that it wasn’t Professor Merrythought after all. This person had dark auburn hair and, even from a distance the deep blue was easily distinguishable. But they weren’t a blue that people compared to sapphires, like hers. No, this man’s were light like the sky outside on a clear, cloudless, summer day. His eyes were very pleasant, excited even behind his half-moon spectacles, but underneath they held great wisdom. He was a tall man, with an aged face due to both burdens from the past and shortcomings in the present, but pleasant and young all the same.
He started his speech about the Houses, but she wasn’t listening, at least not very intently. Instead, she tried to suppress her power to something she can at least ignore. She scowled, realizing only too well how vital it was for her to learn to do just that.
Rin walked to the wall with small, careful steps, swaying slightly on her feet. She leaned against it, eased her head on it and closed her eyes briefly. She put her sweaty palms against the cool bricks and relished at that simple action. For a moment, she could ignore the constant pressure on her mind and take a break. But only for a moment.
She sighed, opened her eyes and looked ahead at the mass of people. Their emotions tugged at her own, but in a crowd so large with such similar feelings, it was next to impossible to coincide them with the faces in the crowd.
Except… She tried to find the familiar sense of hostility among all the others. It wasn’t hard. It was a distinct feeling, and unique in this crowd. She started having a more intense feeling on this particular person since they got on the boats. It got muddled in the large mass of people beforehand, no doubt.
Rin concentrated on that feeling of hostility alone and tried to look deeper into it. At a glance, she could only feel the person’s most powerful feeling. She dug deeper, explored and felt a gasp escape from her lips as she encountered the sheer force of this person’s emotions. She felt greed. Curiosity. Jealousy. An intense desire to prove themselves. An intense desire to find something. A desire to be different. To be unique. To be better. The best, if possible. Last, but not least, an intense desire for power.
She found the combination, though odd, extremely interesting. Such different emotions from the general sparked her curiosity. Rin tried to locate the person, but she didn’t have to look far. He stood several feet away, secluded from the crowd. He seemed to be surveying it, his expression holding a certain spark of curiosity, but mainly irritation.
Sooner than she expected, his gaze found hers. He glared at her without remorse, but she stood her ground and took this opportunity to survey him closer. He was slightly shorter than she was, with pale skin, jet-black hair parted to the side and equally dark eyes. His expression was devoid of any emotion as he stared into her eyes. His figure was obviously slim underneath his robes, and she noticed that his hands were balled into fists. Finally, he scowled, and looked away, irritation dominating his handsome features.
Rin continue to survey him, but couldn’t deduce anything more about the strange boy than she already had.
Then, the tall double doors were swung open and Professor Merrythought emerged toward them. Behind them, Rin could see four tables filled with people looking straight at them. For a moment, first years locked eyes with their older peers, but they soon shied away from them and looked away.
“Follow me,” said the same man in plum robes whose name she hadn’t heard. He turned around and led them toward the hall. As they were scrutinized by everybody present, they shyly followed their teacher. The man motioned them to stop, and they scrambled in the small area between the long table where the teachers and the other students sat.
At one point, their guide stopped, so the students stopped as well. Rin peeked though the line of people that formed and looked around to see what was keeping them. As she peered around, she saw that everybody was looking at the hat that was on a stool a little ways away from them. She looked from the tables to the hat, waiting for something to happen. Then, right before her eyes, startling her, the hat burst into song.
Rin was astonished as she watched the hat sing its song. She couldn’t believe the hat really had spoken, let alone sang. It talked about the four Houses and one would have to be to get into one of them. She thought about all the qualities that it talked about, but at the moment, under all the pressure that everybody was unconsciously putting on her shoulders, she didn't feel very brave, or smart, or that cunning, and definitely not that patient. She continued to watch the hat in fascination while the teacher that has been their guide went toward the stool. He turned to face them and unfolded a scroll of paper. “When I will call your name, you are to come to the stool and you will be Sorted into the appropriate House.
“Avery, Sarah,” he called. Rin watched curiously as a small, red-head girl emerged from the crowd. With shy steps, she walked toward the stool. He motioned her to sit on the table, and she did. He carefully placed the hat on her head, and it slid down her tiny head, completely covering her eyes. The room fell silent as they all waited.
A few seconds passed until, a loud clear voice rang throughout the hall, “HUFFLEPUFF!” Rin’s eyes widened and her mouth went slightly agape. She had been watching the hat and was close enough to see that it had a mouth and it had just spoken to the entire crowd gathered. Even though she saw it, her mind couldn’t make the connection. Could the hat really have spoken?
One by one, she watched people get Sorted, some faster than others, as if the hat had to think about its decision. It was so very odd to her. She wondered what other wonders she would discover in this new-found world.
“Ishbel, Rin,” the man’s voice called out her name. She sighed heavily, closed her eyes briefly and went toward the stool. She felt many pairs of eyes following her short journey, but she tried not to let it show how much their surveillance bothered her. Rin kept her back straight and walked with small, but sure steps. She sat on the stool and felt the hat being placed on her head.
“Hmmm,” said a voice close to her ear and she jumped slightly. She didn’t expect the hat to actually talk to her. She wondered if the man heard it. “Interesting,” it said. “Wise beyond your years, I see, plenty of courage that lies inside and you’re ready to put forth all the hard work and learn and fit in. Hmmm. I suppose it’ll have to be…” Rin held her breath until the hat reached its verdict. It took several more seconds before its voice rang loud and clear, “RAVENCLAW!”
She sighed, glad that she was relieved of the pressure, and smiled for the first time since she set foot in the castle. The Ravenclaw table, the third table, started applauding loudly and cheering, waving her to join then. The man took off the hat and she ran toward the Ravenclaw table, eager to be away from the many watchful eyes. People were waving her to join them, but she decided to go sit by one of the first years that were just Sorted. The girl she went to sit by gave her a shy smile that Rin mirrored, but otherwise no words were passed between them as they watched the rest of the Sorting.
Rin was only paying attention to see where the boy she met earlier will be placed. Something about him sparked her curiosity and she indentified him quickly in the crowd that was thinning. Soon enough, he was called, “Riddle, Marvolo Tom.”
The boy went to sit on the stool, his expression completely blank as if he was ready for anything. As the hat slowly descended on the boy’s head, it barely touched his hair when the hat shouted out loud for the entire hall to hear, “SLYTHERIN!” Rin’s eyes widened as she watched him with fascination walk toward the Slytherin table. She had watched the entire Sorting up until now. For all of them, the hat had to at least be placed properly on the students’ head and it usually took at least a few seconds for it to decide, though she still didn’t know on what criteria the hat chose the House for each student. The hat barely touched him and it immediately placed him in Slytherin. She frowned deeply and followed him with her eyes until he sat down and she could see him no more.
The Sorting was soon over after that. The man in plum robes took the hat away and soon enough came back for the table. In the meantime, Rin noticed for the first time the table where the teachers sat. In the very middle, there was a tall chair that looked more like a throne and there were people sitting equally on both sides of it. The man sitting on the throne-like chair got to his feet.
He smiled pleasantly as his eyes swept over his pupils. “I welcome all of you to another great year at Hogwarts! To those of you who are new to this magnificent school, I hope you’ll like it as much as I do,” his smiled grew wider and chuckles rang throughout the Great Hall. “I have a few announcements to make, but I think you are all too hungry and thirsty to listen to me rant about school policy. So…” he raised his hands up in the air and then, magically, the empty plates that were on the tables were suddenly filled with food of all kinds, many of which Rin had never seen before. There was a loud sigh coming from all four tables as many people started eating already. “Dig in,” he finished.
Rin turned to her food and started enjoying all the exquisite tastes around her. She automatically reached for where there usually was a glass of water or milk and found a goblet full of pumpkin juice instead. She took a test sip and found it delicious. She took several more gulps, surprising herself by how thirsty she was.
People all around her started talking to each other, but she minded her own business and didn’t seek dialogue with anybody unless asked a direct question. That didn’t happen very often. As if sensing her unwillingness to talk, her peers usually left her in peace. The girl she sat next to was braver though, and turned toward Rin.
“So, your name is Rin?” she asked her. Rin turned her sapphire eyes from the potatoes she was eating to meet her gray eyes. She surveyed her with one glance before she answered her question. Rin noted she was rather pretty, her hair a mop of rowdy coppery curls, her eyebrows raised at her curiously. Rin nodded in answer to her question.
“That’s a pretty name. I haven’t heard of it before.” The girl’s gray eyes seemed to be doing some studying of their own. “My name is Elizabeth. I know, it is rather long, so you can shorten it if you’d like,” Elizabeth continued chatting easily though Rin was putting in no effort to keep the conversation going. As if she just now noticed that, Elizabeth’s chatter faltered slightly, sounding a little unsure. “Well, it’s really nice to meet you. I’ll see you around in the Common Room,” and with that Elizabeth turned toward the girl on her other side.
Common Room? She almost asked the girl what that was, but she supposed she would find out soon enough. Conversation buzzed around her, as everybody’s emotions settled into a constant excitement and relief now that the Sorting was over. The emotions weren’t as mixed as they were before, but they still settled on Rin’s shoulders like a constant pressure she could not get rid of. She tried to identify the boy she saw earlier, Tom, but there were too many people around for her to identify just one person.
The feast went on for a while, and just when she thought it was over, all the dishes were replaced with deserts. Since Rin didn’t know there would be desert, she was already full, but took a few bites out of a pie and some pudding she thought looked particularly appealing and found them both delicious as the rest of the food.
Rin sighed, content with her meal and wondered who made so much food and how exactly they did it. She supposed they used magic, and somehow simplified their work, but by how much?
She stopped in the middle of her dozing because she realized the hall had gone suddenly quieter. She looked toward where the teachers sat and saw that the same man who gave the speech earlier was up again and waiting to gain his students’ attention.
“Now that we’re all content and with our bellies full, it is time for my annual ranting,” he smiled again and students answered with another set of chuckles, “mainly for the first years.” Rin straightened her back and listened intently. “The forest on the grounds is strictly forbidden to all pupils. And I do mean all pupils.
“The caretaker, Mr. Apollyon Pingle wanted to especially warn the first years that magic should not be used between classes. He also wanted me to warn you that he has some new ideas of corporal punishments for those who break the rules.” Rin averted her eyes to a tall, solid man with graying hair that stood at the very left of the hall. He grinned wickedly and she looked away, horrified that they used corporal punishments.
The man continued. “Quidditch trials will be held in the third week of term and anybody who is interested to play for their House should contact Madam Hooch. That would be all. Now, off to bed! Tomorrow morning you will receive your schedules and start your classes.”
Everybody rose on his command and Rin followed suit. She heard a voice call, “All the first years, follow me,” and she tried to hurry toward that voice before she would get lost. She quickly identified the person as a tall boy, much older than she was, with fair hair and blue eyes. He seemed friendly enough so she followed him.
She tried to find the boy from earlier, Tom, but she couldn’t see him at all among all these people that were mostly taller than she was. With a small, disappointed sigh, she followed her fellow first years deeper into the school.