A/N: This fic was written for red haired mom in the Ravenclaw Christmas drabble exchange over at MNFF. She was nice enough to let me post it. Thanks!
The riddle, unfortunately, is not mine. It’s from the “Riddle Me This” Forums.
And, lastly, thanks to Ashley/GryffindorGoddess for beta-ing!
I sat down and sighed. “What is the point of this class?” I asked to no one in particular.
“Believe it or not, some of us don’t just suddenly understand Transfiguration before McGonagall teaches us,” the girl sitting next to me snapped.
I looked up at her. This was the first year we had Transfiguration with the Ravenclaws, and it was also the first time any teacher at all had decided to seat us alphabetically. “Who’re you?” I couldn’t help but ask. After all, it wasn’t as if I knew people from other Houses, especially not random average-looking girls.
“Victoria Bauer,” she told me, not looking at all angry anymore. She had large blue-grey eyes, light brown hair, and fairly pale skin. She was very ordinary. Someone that you might see every day but never look twice at.
I began to offer my own name, “I’m—”
“Sirius Black,” she finished for me. “Every girl in the school knows who you are.” Her voice was so matter-of-fact, it was strange.
But I didn’t have time to reply; McGonagall came into the room and began to teach.
“So you’re a Ravenclaw?” I asked the next day, arriving far earlier than usual to class.
“Of course,” she answered, smiling as if sharing some private joke with herself.
“Better than Slytherin,” I muttered, the words slipping out before I could stop them. I had just completely split off from my family about a month ago; I think I had an excuse.
Her head tilted slightly and her eyes hardened. “Why is it that all Gryffindors hate Slytherin? Is it a prerequisite or something?”
“Because they’re all scum.”
“Have you ever known one besides your family and Snape?”
I blinked in realisation. “No, but—”
“Because you’ve never wanted to get to know them, I assume.”
I shrugged but said nothing. Victoria Bauer was strange.
“Do you have a nickname?” I asked a week later at the end of class.
“Why?” she asked, probably wondering why the week of polite, meaningless conversation had suddenly turned personal.
“Well, most people would have a nickname for something like Victoria.”
She gave me that calculating look again. “My friends call me Tori,” she answered, then walked quickly out of the room.
I don’t know why I kept talking to her. Maybe it was because James was sitting far in the back, and I couldn’t communicate with him in any way. Perhaps it was because Victoria, contrary to the first thing she’d ever said to me, was one of the most intelligent people in my year. She understood everything second to only James and me, but she never flaunted her intelligence. But she did have a strange way of looking slightly superior. An expression so slight and hidden, it seemed almost Slytherin.
“What about your family?” I asked one morning a month later.
“What about them? Mum owns a shop in Diagon Alley and Dad works for the Ministry.”
“What’s he do there?”
“I don’t know,” she answered, looking at me with the slightest hint of a smile on her face and a look in her eyes that I could only assume was supposed to be a hint.
“What do you mean you don’t… Wait, he works in the Department of Mysteries, doesn’t he?”
She looked as if she were mentally applauding me. Honestly, I had never met anyone with such an expressive face.
“What about your family, Sirius?”
“I hate them,” I answered easily, not bothering to say anything but the truth.
“Because all they care about is being purebloods?”
“Have you ever met my brother?” I asked, not answering her question directly..
She shook her head, and looked toward the door nervously, as though worried McGonagall would interrupt. I didn’t know why she should be worried though; it wasn’t as if we were talking about anything groundbreaking.
“Well, Regulus isn’t like me. He’s like them. He’s a coward who thinks that just because he was born into my family, he can do whatever he wants. They think they’re wizarding royalty or something. Like they can look down on everyone else just because they have a bunch of equally snobbish wizards as ancestors. Are you a pureblood, Victoria?”
“No, I’m more like a half-blood.”
“You never want to meet anyone like my family, trust me.”
“So you don’t think you’re like them at all?”
“Of course I’m not like them. I’m about as far away from Slytherin as you can get,” I scoffed.
She didn’t say anything, but something in her expression hinted that she didn’t think I was as different as I thought.
“I’m not them,” I growled.
“I know you’re not!” she insisted. “I just think you’re a bit more Slytherin than you would ever let on.”
“What do you want to do with your life?” she asked me.
“I barely know what I’m doing tomorrow,” I answered, shrugging.
“But don’t you ever think about it?”
“Well, yeah, but not much. I guess being an Auror would be cool, but it’s not something I’ve forced myself to consider.”
“But it’s sixth year! There’s not much time left.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to be a Healer.”
I grinned. “That’s very noble of you.”
“It’s just interesting to me… And, Sirius?”
I looked at her.
“I think you’d be a great Auror.”
“Do you have a boyfriend, Victoria?” I asked abruptly one morning.
She stared at me strangely, giving me that look again—the one that made me feel like she knew me better than I knew myself. “No, I don’t,” she answered, raising an eyebrow at me.
I shrugged, careful to keep my expression casual. “I was just wondering.”
“And what about you, Sirius? None of those girls fantasizing about you catch your eye?”
“They’re all idiots,” I answered truthfully, rolling my eyes. “Besides, I don’t have time. All the girlfriends I’ve had were too needy and obnoxious.”
“Too busy being a Marauder?”
I stared at her, startled at her using our self-proclaimed nickname. “How did you know…?”
“Your Gryffindor fangirls all love to use that title. They use it like you’re all gods,” she explained, looking incredibly smug. “They’re always talking longingly about the Marauders… or you, specifically. Since Remus and Peter don’t have the same ‘appeal’ and James is too wrapped up in his obsession with Lily Evans to see straight.” She looked toward the back of the room to where James was sitting. He was leaning back in his chair, and when my eyes found him, he waved and grinned. I grinned back, but shook my head at Victoria.
“You think you know everything, don’t you, Ravenclaw?”
“I can’t believe Halloween is tomorrow,” she grinned, her head shaking in disbelief. “I love Halloween.”
“As long as we can go to Hogsmeade, I’m happy,” I answered easily, wondering vaguely if she was the reason I was getting to class earlier and earlier every time. No, that was ridiculous.
“We?” she said suggestively, but obviously joking.
I laughed. “We: meaning the whole school, Tori.”
She stopped laughing abruptly at the use of her nickname. I just realised that it was the first time in nearly two months that I hadn’t called her Victoria.
“What’re we doing today, Prongs?” I asked as we walked to Hogsmeade on the last day of October.
“Zonko’s first, you think?”
“Sounds good. H’bout you?” James asked Moony and Wormtail.
They both grinned. “Just fine,” Remus answered.
“Here we are!” James announced to no one in particular as we walked in the store. We immediately began looking through the products, but James elbowed me before I could even try anything out.
“What?” I asked.
“Look,” he hissed, gesturing toward the opposite wall. “She’s staring at you,” he explained.
I looked over and my eyes immediately fell to Victoria, who was standing there. She waved when I grinned, and kept talking to one of her friends.
James smiled knowingly. “You like her, don’t you?”
“Victoria? She’s great, but—” I answered.
But he looked confused. “Victoria? Who are you talking about? I’m talking about Sally.” He pointed again, and I looked toward the right place.
A tall, blonde girl who was looking at me as if she wanted nothing more than to snog me. I felt my face begin to twist in disgust, and quickly turned away.
“Wait, you’re talking about Victoria? The girl who sits next to you in Transfiguration?”
“Yeah,” I answered, far more embarrassed than I would ever let on. Why had I assumed he was talking about Victoria? What made me think of her?
He was looking at me knowingly. “Fallen for the Ravenclaw, haven’t you?”
“What? No,” I insisted, a bit more offended than I should have been.
He smiled smugly, but said nothing.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as Victoria sank down beside me, looking much more upset than she ever had before.
She just shook her head, not answering.
McGonagall began class, and she avoided my eyes through its entirety.
At the end of class, I finally said something. “Victoria—”
But she was walking away, not bothering to wait for me to finish talking to her.
“Victoria!” I said again, unwilling to give up. After all, if she thought she could run away, she wasn’t expecting one thing: the Marauders’ Map.
I didn’t want to use it, though, if I could possibly find her without it.
I raced out of the room, slinging my bag over my shoulder, and ran out into the corridor, grinning at James as I left. He gave me that look again, but for once it didn’t bother me.
A minute later, I had to stop. I wasn’t about to find her in the middle of a bustling corridor. Secluding myself in an empty classroom—only vaguely aware that I should be in Potions—I pulled out the Map. Activating it, I began to search. It was very difficult to find anyone, so it was a full five minutes before I noticed. She was heading up to the Ravenclaw Tower. (Yes, James and I had followed people from other Houses in order to find out where their common rooms were.)
Well, maybe getting into their common room wouldn’t be too bad. I was certain that I could handle it.
I raced up the stairs two at a time, and by the time I reached the top I was panting heavily. Unwilling to wait, I pounded on the door once, and was about to knock again, but a soft voice interrupted me:
“My first is foremost legally,
My second circles outwardly,
My third leads all in victory,
My fourth twice ends a nominee;
My whole is this door’s only key.
What am I?”
I stared at the knocker; I was still having a hard time understanding that it had just asked me a riddle.
“Er, could you say that again?”
The knocker repeated the question, and again fell silent.
“I have to answer a bloody riddle to get inside?” I said, more to myself than the eagle.
It said nothing, so I just stood there, silent. “That makes no sense. And I don’t even care. Why are Ravenclaws so weird that they can’t even have a password like we do?”
Then, of course, I felt ridiculous for voicing my opinions to a bronze eagle. I felt like pounding my head against the wall. Was this a trick? All I really wanted to do was see Victoria.
Why did I want to see her anyway? She was just another girl. Maybe I was friends with her, but she wasn’t my best friend or something like that. I was considering leaving. It just made sense to, after all…
But I couldn’t.
“Fine, can you repeat that slowly?”
I sat down, my back to the door, and processed the riddle. I had memorised it after the fifth time hearing it, but it still made no sense.
“Why does this have to be so hard?” I asked, still talking to myself.
“Sometimes,” the soft voice answered, “the most obvious things are the hardest to see.”
“Is that a clue?” I snapped.
But it was just a door knocker that happened to be capable of human speech. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been conversing with it.
“Maybe you’re not seeing what is so clearly in front of you,” it suggested in its haunting voice.
“Nothing is in front of my except this bloody door,” I maintained, not bothering to remember it was just a knocker.
“And whatever you were coming here to see.”
“Well, if I haven’t figured it out by now I never will.”
“Some things take more time than others. Some people realise things before other people do.”
“What’s that got to do with the riddle?”
“Nothing… and everything.”
Frustrated, I began to pound on the door, but through the noise I heard, “Some things you can’t force. For example, they won’t be able to hear, you know.”
“Can’t I have a hint?”
“Who are you going in here to see?”
“Victoria Bauer,” I answered while mentally trying to convince myself that far stranger things had happened besides conversing with the Ravenclaw door knocker about a riddle.
“I know,” he said after a moment, “but you don’t.”
“What don’t I know?”
“The answer to this—the answer to everything you so desire.”
“All I want is to talk to Victoria,” I spat.
“And to do that, you must answer the riddle. Listen this time.”
He repeated it again.
“Tell me, would a Ravenclaw be able to get this?” I wondered.
“Not many. But Victoria would.”
“She’s smart,” I admitted.
“She’s wise,” he clarified as I sat down to think.
“Why are you going to let me in if you know I’m not in this House anyway?”
“She wants to expect you,” he answered vaguely.
I forced my mind back to the riddle. “Well, obviously the last line means that whatever the answer is would be the only way to get through this door… Can you tell me if it’s just one word?”
“It’s one of the most simple and complex things ever—all in just a word. Far more powerful than all the magic in the world.”
“What’s this got to do with Victoria?”
“First, second, third, fourth… what’s that mean? It can’t be words, right? I guess it could be letters…”
“Could a four-letter word really carry all that weight?”
“Maybe,” I insisted, unwilling to let the philosophical bird throw me off.
“Legally, circles outwardly, victory, twice a nominee… It’s not that strange until the last one. Twice ends a nominee? What’s that have anything to do with anything? Two times a nominee,” I rephrased it, still speaking aloud, waiting for the eagle to respond. But it was silent. “Two… the end… nominee…. The only thing that’s twice in nominee is… well, the letter ‘e’. But that’s ridiculous, of course. ‘Twice ends a nominee’ could mean that it ends in ‘e’. Is that it?” I asked, not really believing it was right.
“Perhaps,” it answered. “Is there any other explanation?”
“I dunno. I guess there might be. But I feel like it might be right.”
“Well, if that’s how you feel.”
I didn’t pay attention to his words. I had no idea how Ravenclaws might get enjoyment out of this. It seemed of the utmost cruelty to me. “Legally, outward, victory, ‘e’.”
I just shook my head, thinking for a few minutes. Then, I thought of something.
I shot straight up, leaping to my feet and whipping around to face the door. “The answer’s love, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” it answered, sounding as pleased as a bronze eagle could.
“Why aren’t you opening? I got the question right!” I cried desperately.
“Do you understand why that was your riddle?”
“Because you felt like mentally abusing me before I got inside?”
It disregarded my words. “Remember that I told you that sometimes the most obvious, most important things are the most difficult to see.”
“Answers to crazy riddles?”
“Love,” it clarified as it finally swung open.
There was a crowd of Ravenclaws—a lot of them stared at me as I stepped through the door. But I looked through them swiftly, my eyes only taking a moment to locate Victoria, who was slowly getting to her feet, a look of what appeared to be wonder coming to her face.
She ran lightly to me, while I stood awkwardly in the doorway.
“You came?” she asked. “And you got through the door. Enigma—”
“Enigma the eagle,” she explained. “He always gives the hardest questions to outsiders… No one has ever gotten through except you.”
“It took me an hour,” I said, speaking finally, “but I made it. It gave me this crazy riddle.”
“Is it important what it was about?”
“Of course! The few times that Enigma’s had to give questions to students from other Houses, he always makes them significant.”
I blinked, silent. Was she truly telling me that… that the eagle had given me a riddle about love for a reason… and that he’s used it because I was going to see Victoria?
“Er, why were you so sad in class earlier?” I asked, attempting and failing to pull my mind away from that startling train of thought.
“That’s why you came? It was just a test grade,” she blushed slightly, embarrassed.
I felt some eyes one me, but I had a feeling the eagle wouldn’t let me out if I tried.
“Victoria, the eagle gave me a riddle about… love.”
She stared blankly for a minute. “Really?” she asked mildly, her eyes, as always, giving away her true feelings. She looked happy but anxious.
“Yeah, and I think I know why.”
I felt nervous for what seemed like the first time ever. I reached my hand out and tilted her chin up to look me in the eyes. “I think it knows that I love you,” I said too softly for anyone except her to hear.
Her eyes widened in surprise, but her lips curved into a smile. “Sirius, I love you too,” she answered sincerely, her voice louder than mine. Now everyone was staring, but I didn’t care.
I leaned down slowly to kiss her.
Faintly in the background I heard applause burst out as my lips touched hers, and someone clearly shouted above the din, “Victoria Bauer got Sirius Black!”