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Chapter 1 : I should have been a pair of ragged claws
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Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
- - - - - - - - - -
She has always despised the winter. It is aloof. It is stagnant. It is life arrested and progress delayed.
They say winter is fair in the lowlands of this country. She would not know, for she sought higher ground, even while the coast beckoned to her. The sea sang her name, but she turned her back to it. She was not safe there, where she might have been found. She has long since retreated to the mountains, where snow is sure to fall.
Even now she trips around a small patch of it, lying there as if to warn her she can never escape what she has left behind. She lifts the hem of her skirts, already sullied and worn from her journey. Pointless, she knows, but instinctive. She still has some of her dignity left.
Her foot slips, landing in the dirty pile of icy snow, and the cold seeps through a hole in her shoe. She lets fly from her lips a vulgar word she learned from the boys at school.
Thoughts of the castle weigh on her heart like a thousand stones. It is the only place she has ever called home. Her name is embedded in its walls.
She left before the first snowfall, and she knows the grounds must now be covered in a soft white blanket. The lake will be frozen over by now. It always distressed her when she was younger – what were the merpeople to do? But her mother told her never to worry, the merpeople liked it that way.
It still vexes her when the lake freezes over. The merpeople’s songs do not break the surface. One might never know there was life inside the lake.
She wonders whether there are merpeople here, in this part of the world. She supposes there must not be – the waters are far too warm for their comfort. And the coast again beckons, because she wonders what kind of life it breeds – but she must turn her back to such mysteries and questions, and press onward, into the lonely forest.
The light barely penetrates this part of the forest, but she can tell the sun is setting outside the canopy, sinking down into the sea. Her pace slows, and finally, she leans against an ancient tree to catch her breath. Blue flames burst into life on the forest floor with a wave of her hawthorn wand. The light casts sinister shadows against the underbrush, and a twig snaps just beyond the light’s reach. She draws her cloak around her as though it will protect her, though she knows she’s being foolish.
She places her bag in the hollow of the old tree and opens it to reveal her treasure. The diadem glints angrily in the blue light; it is hard and cold as a block of ice.
It no longer looks alluring, here in her dark solitude, and shame overcomes her. She was noble, and now she is a common thief – and for what? For this plaything? For this piece of metal that will allow her to play the role of her revered mother?
She has spent her life consumed with envy at her mother’s renowned wisdom. It is not fair, after all, that she should not have it also. They share the same name, the same blood, the same lust for knowledge – but the divine wit? No, that does not belong to her. That is why the world will remember Rowena Ravenclaw, and nobody will spare a thought for her daughter.
She has grown delirious in her hunger for knowledge. She has read more books than all of those children at the school combined. But she will never achieve what her mother has. It became clear to her, not long ago, that her mother had been keeping the secret from her. The diadem was her only hope. What use had her mother for it anyway?
But now it lies pointlessly in a hollow tree, on foreign, friendless soil. She may be the wise one now, but who will admire her for it?
Despite the warmth of the flames, her blood runs cold. She is utterly alone. And she dares not go back.
Stowing the diadem back inside the tree, she whirls around in shock.
His voice comes again out of the darkness, relief apparent through his rough and unpleasant tone. He speaks in a manner that, she supposes, is meant to be soft and soothing.
She has been followed. How can she have been so ignorant? She draws her chin up as her pursuer emerges from the shadow, but she does not speak. She has nothing to say to this man.
“You must come home.”
Her nostrils flare. “I do not take orders from you.” Her breath rises in a delicate cloud in the chill air.
“Your mother is ill. She is dying.”
Her heart trembles, but this is yet more of his deceit. “Lies.”
“I speak only the truth, fair Helena.”
“You speak only that which serves you, Dunstan.”
He presses his lips together, a sure sign of his rising anger. But he exhales slowly and speaks again, his agitation apparent despite his attempt at gentleness.
“It is not yet too late. Come home. This is not who you are.”
“You know nothing of who I am.” She spits out the words in disgust. Presumptuous man! How dare he?
“You are Lady Helena Ravenclaw. You are noble. You are not a common outlaw.”
“That is what I am. It says nothing of who I am.”
He exhales impatiently. His gaunt features and angry eyes are terrifying in the blue light.
“I grow weary of your riddles, silly woman. Your mother may encourage this behavior, but I do not.”
“Then go!” she says in pure disdain, drawing herself up to her full height. “Go back to my mother, if what you say is true, and tell her to die knowing that I am her Helena, and not yours! But I will not go with you, my lord. I will stay here and rot before I walk two steps at your side.”
“You are foolish,” he growls, now shaking with fury.
“And you are a fool.”
Suddenly his fingers close around her feeble arms, his horrible face inches from hers.
“You’re hurting me!” she protests.
“I promised to bring you back,” he leers, as she turns her face away from his. “You will come with me.”
All words are forgotten for the learned daughter of Ravenclaw; she is beyond the point of cleverness. And when she spits in his face, she knows what will happen before it does, but there is no way out.
The knife flashes in the blue light, and suddenly she is cold – colder than the stones of the castle walls, colder than the frozen lake, colder than the silver trinket tucked inside the tree.
She cries for her mother as the cold surrounds her.
She will never again walk the halls of the castle. She will never again hold a book. She will never again hear the merpeople singing, just beneath the surface of the great lake. She grieves for these things. She laments her own foolishness. She sheds tears of protest at the cold invading her body.
But when she cries aloud, it is for her mother.
A/N: This is a massive Founders fail, I know. XD
This is for the brilliant Alopex's Four Seasons Challenge at eHPF. The rules are to write a collection of four one-shots, each about a different season and a different era (Founders, Marauders, Hogwarts/Post-Hogwarts, and Next Gen). Each one-shot also has to explore a different concept pair. For this one-shot, I used Heritage/Tradition. I know, double fail. I try, I really do. :-P
The title "Visions and Revisions" is taken from the fabulous "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot - as are all of the chapter titles. The story summary and the lines in bold at the beginning of each chapter are likewise from the same poem. I am using that poem loosely for thematic inspiration, in an attempt to bring a sense of cohesiveness to a collection of one-shots about different characters in different eras.
Reviews are love. Thanks for reading!
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