Chapter Graphic: Infairi
Beta Read By: Arithmancy_Wiz and Jessi_Rose
Title: From Rhyme to Riddle
Rating/Warnings: 12+ (none)
For the Staff: I know you've heard it from all of us, but we really owe you a lot of thanks for the smooth operation and running of the site. We all love each and every one of you.
“ . . . from rhyme to riddle, it had begun. It started in the fen with the greatest Wizard of the age, though the work was to be continued by the descendant . . .”
The quill wrote incessantly, with flourishing swoops in the little leather diary. His perfectly innocent eyes surveying the script, paused to look up, noticing instantly that he was being watched. He tilted his head in such a way as to convey the simple inquiry, “Yes?” The young first year looked away. They always do. Was he really that frightening? He tried not to let his irascibility get the better of him, and he turned back to the diary which lay open on his lap. The quill snapped back to life, continuing with the eloquent words he poured into it.
The fire crackled in the dim lighting of the Slytherin common room. Most students had already wandered off to bed at this late hour, but Tom still had to attend to his Prefect duties before he did the same. The responsibility of the Prefect was merely to patrol the dark halls and corridors in shifts. Since Tom was a fifth year, he had the earliest shift, which meant that he would soon have to be attending to that. It seemed rather superfluous to have such a job, especially with such finite restrictions, and the sixteen staff members doing nothing; but with power comes limitations . . . or so the adage went.
The break of dawn came as early as one should expect. Tom, already clothed in his black robes, already wearing his emerald and silver tie, Prefect badge already shining on his chest, sat perched on the edge of a seat in the library, quill in hand. The diary was nearly full as it was, but soon it would need no more to last an eternity, or however long parchment could withhold. The wet ink disappeared almost like vapor before Tom's very eyes, enchanting even himself. The time and energy he had poured into it was startling. He could spend three hours in one evening simply writing, and that was saying something, what with Prefect duties, homework, and least of all, classes to devour his days.
“My, my, you're up early, dear!” the old bat that worked in the library screeched down Tom's back. He shuddered, but put on a thick smile.
“Just doing my homework,” he replied. “But I do suppose I should be off to breakfast about now. A fine lady like you shouldn't be lowering herself in bothering with people like me. Really, it's flattering, but I'll understand should you ever feel compelled not to say hello.” He left the room quickly, leaving the librarian nearly dumbfounded.
Tom descended the many staircases with haste, putting a great distance between him and the old hag. Today was the day that his many hours of writing and planning would finally be put into action. It all seemed so beautiful in his mind. Ah, victim number one.
“Hello, Tom,” Olive Hornby said as cheerfully as she dared in the presence of other Slytherins.
“Good morning, Olive,” he replied with a slight smile.
He's in a good mood today!
Olive thought to herself.
She followed him to the table which already had heaps of lavish food atop the golden platters. Tom picked a particularly ripe looking plum off one of them and took a bite before continuing in their conversation. He let his eyes graze over Olive and put on a smothering expression so she would think he thought her pretty. She batted her long eyelashes.
“Did you finish your Potions essay?” Tom asked her, trying to seem offhand, as if he was too captivated
by her beauty.
“Yes . . . In fact, I was wondering if you would have a look at it?” She blinked through the pasty dust she so often referred to as makeup. It was truly disgusting to look at.
“Sure thing. Ah, would you look at that!” Tom said, doing anything to get off the subject. “Looks like little Myrtle got herself some new glasses. I daresay, they certainly aren't any better than the last ones.” Olive seemed disappointed at first that he'd changed the subject, but of course, Myrtle was a good subject. It was so comical just to look at her; she never failed to make for an interesting conversation. Olive walked over to where Myrtle had just tripped over her robes, and held out her hand to help up the pathetic little thing.
Myrtle looked up, confused. Even students in her own house ostracized her, so it made no sense why Olive Hornby would help her up. Olive smiled widely, and Myrtle knew she should have run for it, but she was glued to the spot.
“Nice glasses, Myrtle. Where'd you find them; the junk yard? They're three inches thick, can you even see through them? Wait, your little demonstration answers that question.” She would have gone on, but the over sensitive girl ran towards the Entrance Hall, tears streaming down her face.
Tom was worried about this one aspect of his scheme. It seemed to be the only part of it that was out of his hands. But alas, it had turned out far better than even he could have imagined. Olive stood in the middle of the Great Hall, smirking, while several other students just laughed. Tom hurried off to the next part of his ingenious plan.
“Myrtle!” Tom called. She was sitting in a corner down a corridor, between the wall and a suit of armor, and one of the portraits was consoling her. She pried her fingers apart just enough to see who it was.
“Whatdoyouwan?” she managed to say.
“Olive doesn't know what she's talking about. It was very rude of her to say the things that she did.”
“Why do you care? Aren't you one of her friends? I just want to be alone,” she wailed.
“Tell you what. There's a bathroom just down the hall that's out of order – I'm sure no one else would be in there if you wanted to be alone,” Tom said as gently as he could, excitement coursing through him. He could hardly contain himself. Everything was working out beautifully! He could almost hear the hissing in the walls; apparently he was not the only one waiting patiently for the plan to be carried through.
Tom's gentle footfalls echoed loudly in the deep dungeon. Every now and then there was a dull crunch
as a bone snapped under his feet. Usually that of an unfortunate rat. He walked as fast as he dared, and it really wasn't that fast. His eyes were near bulging point at the mere concept of such a place as he was in. Round the corner he went, and his eyes fell upon the most beautiful site. There, towering above all else, was a statue of the greatest wizard. He looked rather like a monkey, but none of that mattered. The man was a genius. He created this place, and it was because of him that Tom even existed. Because of him all that was good in the world could be remembered. All because of Salazar Slytherin.
Tom felt something pass over him. Not a real thing, but more of a feeling. He almost couldn't comprehend the greatness of the moment. He could feel the blood coursing through his veins. He almost felt like melting, yet there was a more dominant part of him that felt . . . admirable. Courageous. Memorable.
He knew he was capable of great things in life, but it was in that moment that he knew what those things would be. Everything seemed to slide into place in his mind. It all fit.
“Come to me, your master . . . Return to your destiny; fulfill what you must . . .”
he uttered, eyes closed. They shot back open as the grinding of stone met his ears. The magnificent statue was opening its mouth! The dark abyss within was stirring. An ancient horror was uncoiling from the mouth. A low, hideous hiss resounded from the stone walls in either direction, creating the eeriest of atmospheres.
Tom knew immediately what it was. The Basilisk was known only too well for its deathly stare, which would take the life of any onlooker. Yet when the beast's head emerged from the depths, Tom had no choice but to look it straight in the ruby-red eye. Ah, of course, the great Salazar Slytherin was far too clever to let something like that cause conflict. After all, being the heir, there must be an armistice of sorts. The red eyes glimmered in the dim light of Tom's wand. He recognized within the monster the familiar thirst for blood that he had seen so many times before, reflecting back at him in the mirror.
Tom crept into the girls' bathroom after Myrtle. He’d allowed her plenty of time to erase all signs of that crying fit she'd had. He whispered in Serpent Tongue for the Basilisk to come forth, and so it did. To this day, he wasn't sure whether his last words to Myrtle were in Parseltongue or not.
“From flesh to spirit,
none shall forget,
that moment, so sudden,
when they lapsed into silhouette.
The end draws near.
You draw your last breath.
I'll give you a hint:
The answer to the Riddle is Death.”