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Chapter 6 : The Basilisk
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Tom extracted his wand from his robes and lit it, holding it so the light extended into the chute. Still, it looked like it would never end.
Pausing for only a moment, Tom’s eyes fell on a bar of soap on the sink. Taking it, he quickly transfigured it into a rock.
He then proceeded to throw the rock into the chute, listening carefully for the telltale crash that would signal it had reached the bottom. But it took much longer, and came much fainter, than he expected.
Swallowing his fear, Tom took a deep breath, lowered himself into the chute, and pushed off. Instantly, he felt as though he had been punched in the stomach. His breath left him and he tumbled down the chute at a breakneck speed. He slowed towards the end, but just barely.
Tom landed in a heap at the bottom. He winced, sitting up gingerly and checking his arms and ribs for injuries, but he found nothing.
Realizing he was no longer holding his wand, Tom fumbled for it, finally seeing it lying two feet away from him. He scrambled for it, but just as his fingers touched the smooth wood, a shadowy figure rose up in front of him.
“What is your name,” it asked. It had a low voice, a sleek hiss, but it spoke in English. It’s tongue was unnaturally long and protruded from its mouth, but other than that, it resembled a human face.
Something told Tom that fear and weakness would only annoy the apparition. “Tom Marvolo Riddle,” he said clearly and as loudly as he could. He still felt weak and could not muster much strength, so it came softer than he would have liked. He hid his grimace and tried to look confident.
The apparition’s face contorted into something quite like a grin. If a grin was twisted and manic. “Ah, a Riddle. With the first name of “Tom”. Such a nasty, common name. But as you do have Slytherin’s blood running through your veins, I shall let you pass. But be warned, young Riddle, many trials await you. Only the strongest can succeed.”
It began to laugh, echoing in the chamber as it became louder and louder, until it disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Tom stayed still for a moment, completely shell-shocked. Then he flinched, realizing he suddenly felt much stronger. It seemed as though the apparition had helped him. He quickly stood and took a tentative step forward. When nothing happened, he began walking faster and faster until he broke into an all-out run.
Tom whipped around corners, his wand light extending only a few feet in front of him. His breathing quickened, but he just increased his pace. He could fee his heart thumping against the bones of his rib cage. It, too, quickened with each passing second.
Until he ran face first into a solid rock wall.
With a sickening crunch, Tom’s head jerked backwards. He stumbled, regaining his balance and immediately collapsing as his head started to spin.
He carefully placed two fingers on his nose. When he removed them, they were wet with blood.
“Damn it,” Tom muttered. He siphoned away the blood from his face, then inspected his nose again.
It ached, and it was extremely tender, but as far as he could tell, it wasn’t broken.
Sighing with relief, Tom got to his feet and placed both hands against the wall. He pushed with all his strength, but it would not move.
Moving methodically, Tom pressed against the entire wall, but he still found himself trapped behind it.
Okay…just…just take a step back, he told himself. The voice of the apparition still rung in his ears.
Many trials await you.
Looked like he had just come across his first.
Tom thought for several seconds. This was Slytherin’s chamber. What would Slytherin expect him to do? He tried speaking in Parseltongue first, but to no avail. The wall remained standing in all its perfection. He then tried “reducto,” but the curse simply rebounded off the wall and ricocheted about the Chamber.
Getting frustrated, Tom punched the wall with all his strength.
To his surprise, the stone began to crumble away, falling and disappearing until an archway stood in his place.
Tom gaped at it before he realized his hand was bleeding.
“Blood price,” he murmured. “I’ll remember that.” He walked forward, more cautiously this time. Instead of feeling triumphant over his victory, however, he felt strangely worried. If this was just the first obstacle, what would be coming next?
And the next came almost right away.
A wall of golden mist emerged around a corner not ten minutes after the previous. He skidded to a stop, eyes narrowing as he studied the substance. Taking a stone from the ground, he tossed it into the mist, but was surprised to find that it came out unscathed on the other side.
Was it just an illusion? Designed to test his reasoning?
Taking a deep breath, Tom walked into the mist. As soon as his toe touched it, the world spun until it appeared as though he was standing on the ceiling. He felt dizzy. But of all the spells he knew, there was none that could help him in this situation.
He stayed frozen, afraid he would fall if he took a step. His muscles clenched, but he still did not move, even as his legs began to shake. He gritted his teeth, rooted to the spot by pure uncertainty. Knowing that he would have to move sooner or later, Tom decided just to jump. And before he could change his mind, he pushed off hard, flipped in midair, and landed face down on what was now the floor.
He was going to be very very sore in the morning.
He was exhausted, and in some ways defeated. But he pushed on. Surprisingly, however, Tom encountered nothing for what felt like ages. Instead of being lulled into a sense of security he knew would be false, Tom became more alert with every heavy footfall.
Finally, he came to another dead end. This one, however, was adorned with a stone statue of a giant snake. And it was giant. Tom gazed at it in awe. Every detail was perfectly captured, and in his wandlight, it looked real.
Tom knew exactly what to do for once. He spoke to the snake in parseltongue. Its ruby red eyes began to glow with an eerie light as it moved to one side, twisting and writhing as it did so. It gazed at Tom when it finished, as if challenging him.
Enter if you dare, it seemed to say.
Tom dared. He took a step forward.
And then everything went black. Pitch black. Tom’s wand light was extinguished. There was nothing. Nothing except the darkness.
“Lumos,” Tom said hurriedly. But nothing happened. “Lumos,” he said again, more panicked this time. But it was still black as the twisted strands of licorice.
Cursing loudly, Tom tried a different approach. “Incendio!” A blazing ball of fire erupted from the end of his wand and disappeared promptly in midair.
“Does any magic work?” he thought aloud. Pointing his wand straight up, Tom shouted, “Reducto!”
A loud, cracking noise resounded through the thick black air. Tom felt momentarily relieved before he realized what he had just done.
Tom sprinted in the direction he believed the opening was, slamming into a rock wall (this time with his shoulder) and turning to his left. He scampered through the opening in the wall, going a few more feet before stopping, panting, and putting a hand to his chest in an attempt to catch his breath. He could now hear the pounding of falling rocks as they crashed into the ground.
He groaned, kicking himself for being so stupid. Why the hell did he use that spell? He could have transfigured a rock or something. Something that wouldn’t have put him in more danger. God knew he already had enough of that right now.
Finally, the shuddering stopped. Tom inched towards the entrance, praying it wouldn’t be blocked. He extended his hand, feeling for an opening and… he found one. It wasn’t huge, but it was large enough for him to be able to get out. Of course, he still had to get up the chute, but that was later.
For now, he had to explore this cavern. Thinking for a minute, Tom conjured a candle and with a wave of his wand, lit it.
It caught fire and flickered slowly, shedding a small bit of light on the enormous room. It was only enough light to see a few feet in front of him, but to Tom it was more than enough. As he took a step, however, the candle flickered out.
So it wasn’t going to be that simple. Tom lit the candle again, this time setting it on the floor. He took a tentative step, smiling softly as the glow continued to dance, illuminating his path. He took another step, and then another, and the candle continued. He let out a long breath.
Tom returned to the candle and positioned himself so he was facing in the opposite direction of the entrance. The he paced normally, counting his steps.
He continued until he got to ten, when he stopped and lit another candle. Then he started over, lighting a candle every ten paces. A light sheen of sweat coated the back of his neck. Whether it was from exertion or fear, he couldn’t tell.
He made a trail of candles, marking where he had been, all the while continuing in a straight line. Or so he hoped. He lit so many candles that he lost count of how far he had come. Only the continuous one…two…three… registered in his brain. He almost collapsed with relief when his fingers touched a wall once more. But his relief was short lived.
As he pulled back from the wall, each and every candle burned out.
But he didn’t even have time to panic before torches began to illuminate the walls. The room filled with a warm golden glow, providing an almost ethereal light. If he squinted, Tom could just barely make out the other side of the room, where he had come in. But that was not why he was here.
Tom turned, and all thoughts left his mind as he looked upon the face of Salazar Slytherin, carved perfectly in stone. If he had thought the snake statue was big, he was mistaken. This was easily five times the size of that, and five times as alluring. Tom took an unconscious step forward, drawn towards the statue. He stared into its eyes, eyes like molten gold, and a cool, calm voice filled his mind.
Welcome, my heir. You have reached the end of your journey. Rejoice, for your perils are over. You have proven yourself to be strong, intelligent, cunning. A true descendant of mine. Behind this wall lies a basilisk. He is your tool. Use him at your disposal to complete what I could not. Rid the school of Mudblood filth, thieves of magic. And then Hogwarts will truly be perfect. Good luck, my heir. Now call the basilisk to you. Call him to you… Call him to you… Call him to you…
The voice faded gradually, though Tom could still hear it lurking in the corner of his mind. His eyes flashed red again, feral with longing to please his ancestor. He would do what others had only dreamed of. He was the most powerful Wizard ever to be alive. Pausing only to breathe, Tom began chanting in Parseltongue. He closed his eyes, just to be safe, and kept up his rhythm.
“Come. Come. Come. Come.”
He could hear the all too familiar sound of grinding stone, and then a slinking slither that only meant one thing.
“Come to me. Bow to me.”
He opened his eyes, just barely. Just enough to see green scales under his gaze. He opened his eyes fully, now looking upon the biggest snake he had ever seen. Its body wrapped around the entire cavern. But its head was bowed so that its eyes were invisible to Tom. It knew its master.
“I act in the noble name of Salazar Slytherin. You will serve me.” Tom could feel his mouth moving, but he did not realize what he was saying. The words flowed through him, an ancient gift of honor. His noble ancestor had left him all he needed, and now, their power was combined.
“I will serve you,” the snake answered, also in Parseltongue. It’s voice was chilling, cold, yet toneless at the same time.
As if some sort of ritual had just taken place, Tom felt as though he was now bound to the snake. He knew that the basilisk was loyal to him. He paused a moment, inspecting its thick body. Just to be sure of the snake’s loyalty, Tom spoke again.
“You will rid the school of Mudbloods. You will attack only Mudbloods, and only when I tell you to.”
Breathing a small sigh of relief, Tom asked the question that had been plaguing him.
“And what if you are seen?”
“I will not be seen. I will use the pipes to make my way around the school, Master.”
“Very well. Let us go now, and I will provide you with your first kill.”
“I thirst for blood. Master, thank you.”
Tom turned to exit the room, but the basilisk nudged him gently with part of its body.
“It will be quicker if you just hold on to me.” It waited patiently. Even without being able to see its face, Tom could tell that it was expectant.
He sighed, deciding to give in. He was tired, hungry, weak, and it was a long walk back. He swung his leg over the basilisk unsteadily, sliding until he found a position. Its scales were slippery, but not impossible to hold on to.
And then the basilisk shot off. It was out the chamber door in a matter of seconds and around the first bend. It covered what had taken Tom hours in only three minutes. Before he could blink, the basilisk was slithering up the chute, acting as if it was defying gravity itself, and into the stark white, brightly lit bathroom. He instinctively threw a hand up to shield his eyes. After spending a night in the chamber, the room felt strange and much too brightly lit for him. He blinked several times, trying to grow accustomed to the light.
The basilisk waited, most of its body still in the chute. Tom waved a hand at it, signaling it to go, and it slipped into the pipe next to the entrance, which closed as Tom took a step away from it.
There was no sign that it had ever been open.
Tom made his way to the dusty mirror that hung over one of the even dustier sinks. Did anyone even use this bathroom? He wiped some of the dust away with his sleeve and took in his appearance.
He had several cuts on his face and hands, his robes were torn, and his hair had never looked so messy or matted. But those, luckily enough, were easily fixable.
He waved his wand over his various cuts, causing them to scab and then mostly heal. They were unnoticeable, in any case. It was a simple enough healing spell. He used his fingers to comb through his hair, making it lie as flat as possible. And then he turned his robes inside out. They looked the same both ways, and he didn’t have any tears on the hem, thankfully.
He then moved on to the more pressing problem. A spectacular black and blue bruise was smack dab in the middle of his face. Very visible. And he wasn’t quite advanced enough yet to heal that. He couldn’t think of a story, either. A bruise like that was hard to get.
Finally, Tom thought of the Blemish Vanisher he saw girls use sometimes. This was a girl’s bathroom. There had to be a bottle somewhere. He checked the cupboards under the sink, the cupboards over the sink, but it was not until he resorted to checking behind potted plants that he found it.
A yellow bottle, small, but with plenty of the potion left. He dabbed some onto his bruise, and the colors faded. It was only noticeable now if you knew where to look. It didn’t hurt any less, but he could deal with that. It would heal by tomorrow.
He looked in the mirror once more. By no means was he perfect, but he was as close as he could hope to get.
Tom fixed a sheepish, slightly shell shocked expression onto his face, took out his vial of the Counter potion, and slipped out of the bathroom.
“What the hell?”
Amaya gaped at a large crowd of people surrounding the hallway outside the girl’s bathroom. She squeezed her way through throngs of students and teachers alike, ignoring rude comments and standing on her tiptoes until she could see past them.
A strange yellow substance coated the stones. Three or four panicked students stood in it, seemingly unable to move One students was laying down in it, and the other was stuck in a permanent yoga pose, as both her hands were glued to the floor just in front of her feet. A yard to her left, Headmaster Armando Dippet was speaking urgently with Professor Slughorn. Amaya leaned closer to hear what they were saying.
“-was saying, Tom Riddle has my last bottle.”
“Well, where is Tom?”
“I don’t know, Sir. Sleeping, maybe. It is only nine in the morning.”
“Avery said he wasn’t in the dorm.”
“Tom’s a great boy, if that’s what you’re suggesting. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“I know. Just looks suspicious.”
“He didn’t do this.”
“I trust him. And you. How long will it take to make a new batch?”
“A week at the least. It takes that long to stew.”
“A week! That isn’t fast enough!”
“It’s the be- Tom!”
All of a sudden, the group of people fell silent. A slightly disheveled Tom Riddle had just opened the bathroom door, clutching a vial of a clear liquid and looking extremely sheepish.
“Tom?” Professor Dippet said weakly. “What- What were you doing in there?”
“It’s kind of a long story,” he answered, his expression unchanging. “Professor Slughorn most kindly gave me some Sticking Solution to study. I was just passing through here to return it when I tripped and fell, and the bottle shattered. I jumped back into the bathroom to avoid it. Stayed in there all night before I remembered I had the counter with me. I’m such an idiot,” he concluded, shaking his head.
Finally, Slughorn spoke. “Well for god’s sake, get out of there now.”
Tom nodded, dabbing the potion onto his shoes. He crossed the floor gingerly before handing the vial to Slughorn.
“Sorry about that, Sir,” he said again.
Dippet smiled at him. “It’s quite all right. We have enough potion to free the students now, so no harm done.”
Tom looked relieved. “I’m so glad.”
“But Tom, what did you do all this time?” Slughorn asked, his mustache quivering.
At this, Tom smiled. “Nothing, Sir. Absolutely nothing.”
So, a quicker update this time. I had a lot of fun writing this chapter! It's definitely a milestone. I want to give a shoutout to my amazing beta, Megs. She's a lifesaver! And I also want to thank everyone who's being reading and reviewing this. You guys really give me the motivation to keep writing this. When I get reviews saying "this was great", I literally dance around my room. And when I get constructive crit, I take it to heart. Promise. And really, thanks to anyone who reads this story. I thought it was going to get no support, so those of you who read it really make me happy. I love you all! My beta, my readers, and my reviewers! (P.S. Wanna make me happy again? You can do it with a review!)
Edit June 2012; switched the order, will hopefully be less confusing now :D
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