The Sugar Quill
Author: Arya (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Sorrow of Slytherin  Chapter: Chapter One: A Meeting
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The Sorrow of Slytherin

Disclaimer: Despite my crazy dreams, I did not come up with the idea for Harry Potter.  I must give all credit to JK Rowling, the genius woman that she is.  *sigh*

 

Much thanks to my brother (Bludger_Boy) for letting me steal the computer to type this fic!

 

The Sorrow of Slytherin

 

Chapter One

 

Sunlight streamed through the opening in the green canopy, falling on the small spot of ground where the eagle sat.  Sorrow sat quietly, controlling her breath, her eyes not moving from the beautiful creature that had come to rest in her forest.  Carefully, quietly, she inched forward towards the great bird, hoping that this time he would stay, that this time he would allow her to touch-

 

“SORROW!”

 

The girl closed her eyes and fell back onto her heels as the eagle took off in fright.  As the crashing footsteps grew louder, she stood and smoothed her robes, attempting to make herself at least slightly presentable.

 

“Sorrow!  You’re to – Child, what have you been doing?  These robes were clean this morning!”  Sorrow winced as the woman broke through the bushes and walked toward her with an aggravated look on her face.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sorrow told her, clasping her hands behind her back and swaying from side to side.  “I just wanted to see the eagle…I’m sorry, Helga.”  She smiled, knowing that the woman could never be angry at a child with a smile on her face.

 

As predicted, Helga shook her head at the young girl.  “Go back to the castle.  Your father wishes a word with you.”  She put a hand on Sorrow’s jet black hair, her face unreadable.  “He is in his study.”

 

“Why?” Sorrow asked, frowning.  Most days her father chose to ignore the existence of his only child.  A nod at dinner or a book left on her bed were the only acknowledgements she ever received.  To be asked to visit his study…something had happened.  She was certain of it.

 

Helga pursed her lips and patted the ten-year-old’s pale cheeks.  “I’m sure he’ll tell you,” she said, her voice soft.  “Run along.”

 

Frowning, Sorrow glanced at the sky.  “It will rain tonight,” she mused quietly.  “A fine rain.”  A small smile on her face, she left the woman in the clearing and began to walk to the castle.

 

To one unfamiliar with the vast forest that lay in front of Hogwarts School, it was an impossible jungle full of murderous, terrible beasts who wished for nothing more than human flesh and blood.  To Sorrow, who had grown up in the castle next to the forest, it was a place of misunderstood beauty and hidden secrets.  Sorrow had learned long ago that the only way to navigate through the forest was to follow the animals’ paths.  Whether it was instinct or simply learned knowledge, the paths made by the animals always led out of the forest.  Those made by humans did not.

 

Since childhood, Sorrow had felt a calling to the forest.  For years, she had looked at the ominous trees with wary eyes, wanting to go in, but hearing the words echoing in her mind… “Never trust the forest…never trust the forest…” She hadn’t understood the words, until, at the age of seven, she had wandered into the forest in the dead of the night.

 

Sorrow shuddered suddenly and pressed her hand to her cheek, remembering that first visit to the forest.  She had learned that night the truth of those words.  But from that visit had sprung a sort of obsession that remained with her still.  The forest had secrets, more secrets than any human, and Sorrow was determined to discover each one. 

 

She blinked suddenly as sunlight fell onto her pale face.  Her bare feet sunk into soft green grass as she stepped out of the forest and onto the moor.  Before her stood the grand castle that she called home.

 

“Sorrow!  Sorrow, your father wants you in his study!”  A tall boy wearing the green and silver robes of her father’s House hurried towards her, his face set in an expression of determination.  “Where’s the fat one?”

 

Sorrow scowled at the boy.  “It is not polite to call Helga fat,” she retorted, crossing her arms and glaring at him.   “You’re supposed to respect your elders.”

 

The boy snorted and raised his eyebrows at her.  “Well, if this is true, you should be more polite to me, Sorrow Slytherin.  I am your elder by three years!” 

 

Choosing to ignore this last remark, Sorrow began to walk across the moor, her toes squelching in the mud from the previous night’s rain.  She had no desire to make her father wait for her. 

 

“Is he angry with you?” The boy had caught up with her and did not seem to understand that she did not want to talk to him.  “What did you do?”

 

Sorrow sighed in exasperation.  “Merot, go back to class.  You’ll be late, and Father will be angry with you.”

 

“Today is Saturday, Sorrow.  No classes on Saturday.”

 

Holding in a silent curse, Sorrow began walking faster, her eyes on the cloudy sky.  “You should get inside,” she remarked.  “It will rain soon.”

 

Merot looked at the sky and shook his head.  “Wind clouds, Sorrow.  Not a drop of rain will fall from them.”

 

“Your belief, not mine,” the ten-year-old said with a shrug and a sigh.  She stopped as they came to the back entrance of the castle.  “I can find my way now, thank you.”

 

Merot gave a short, mocking bow.  “Of course, m’lady.  I will see you at dinner.”  Smirking slightly, he opened the door and disappeared down the dark corridor.

 

Sorrow hurried in behind him, turning down the steps that led to her chambers.  She would change into her new robes before seeing her father, and clean the twigs out of her hair.  Hopefully he wasn’t angry with her, though she could think of no other reason for him to ask to see her.

 

Her chambers, located in the dungeon next to the dormitory of the students in her father’s House, were lit with one dim lamp, forcing her to squint as she hurried to change into the beautifully embroidered emerald robes that had been placed on her bed the week before.  She didn’t particularly like the robes, but they would please her father.  Pulling the last of the twigs from her long black hair, Sorrow examined herself her mirror, satisfied with her appearance.

           

“Lovely, child,” the mirror said kindly.  “You look like the perfect daughter.  Now hurry along or you’ll be late.”

 

Smiling nervously at her reflection, Sorrow took a deep breath to calm herself and hurried out of the room.

 

The corridor leading to her father’s study was empty, thankfully.  The students were mostly outside by the lake, taking in the day before it started to rain. 

 

Sorrow halted outside the study.  The intricate snake designs on the large oak door seemed to move about in the flickering candlelight, almost as if enchanted.  Gathering herself, Sorrow raised her hand and pounded on the door.  From within was the faint hiss of her father’s voice

 

Enter.”

 

The door opened as he spoke, and Sorrow stepped forward into his study.  For a moment, the candlelight from the corridor lit up the dark room, and she could se the oddly monkey-like face of her father, but the door shut a moment later, leaving both father and daughter in darkness. 

 

Her eyes adjusted quickly to the poorly-lit room, and she gave a small curtsey to her father.  He nodded his head in acknowledgement, and spoke, his voice a hiss in her ears. 

 

It is approaching the time of your eleventh birthday, is it not?  At her nod, he continued.  Then it is nearly time for your House to be Chosen.  Godric believes I should inform you of this so that you might be ready.” There was a slight sneer in his voice as he spoke the name of his friend.  Perhaps Godric believes you will be placed in his House.  Do you wish to be in the House of Gryffindor?

 

“No, Father,” Sorrow replied instantly.  She clasped her hands behind her back and looked down at the marble floors.  “Of course I do not.”

 

Salazar nodded, smiling coldly.  Just as I expected.  As if the daughter of the great Salazar Slytherin would be placed in the House of Gryffindor with the Mudbloods and imbeciles.” 

 

Silence settled on the room as he finished speaking.  Her curiosity overpowered her fear of the man, and she glanced around the study.  It had been a year since she’d been in the room, and there were several additions.  In particular, the one curled around the leg of the desk in the center of the room.  The snake lifted its head and glared at her with its emerald eyes.  She frowned at it, then turned back to her father, who was speaking once more. 

 

I have a favor to ask of you, daughter.”  Salazar stood and approached her, looking down his nose at the girl.  He watched her for a moment, looking into her eyes with an almost puzzled face. 

 

“Yes, Father?” Sorrow asked, prompting him to speak, curious what he would ask.  Salazar Slytherin rarely asked for favors.

 

From inside his dark green robes, he pulled a thick, leather-bound book.  Turning it over in his hands, he looked up at her with a peculiar expression on his face. 

 

I have heard,” he began, “that you have a…gift for dealing with animals.  You seem to particularly enjoy the forest.”

 

Sorrow nodded, her eyes on her father.

 

Salazar looked away and began pacing the room.  When he spoke again, it was not in the usual hiss, but soft and almost sorrowful.

 

“Your mother loved the forest,” he said, his long white fingers stroking the leather cover lovingly.  “She spent most of the time watching the animals, wishing she had the power to speak with them.  Before you were born, before I was called to create this school…we lived within the forest.  For within, farther than even you have dared to venture.  In the forest, the snakes were mine, the snakes had always been mine…but the creatures were hers.  Even the centaurs, the proud beasts that they are, respected her.”

 

He closed his eyes, as if trying to return to the past where his wife still lived.  Sorrow watched him carefully, aware of his every move, listening to each word he spoke. 

 

“When I heard about the creation of the school for magical children, I made the decision to leave the forest.  Your mother, preparing to give birth to you, refused to leave.  I never saw her again.  Her life ended as yours began, and the idiot woman who aided with the birth found it appropriate to name you Sorrow.”  The last word was spoken in a low, angry hiss.  The story was well-known.  The woman had not lived long after the birthing.  Her husband had found her outside their tiny hut, a snake’s bite on her neck.  An accident, Sorrow had been assured many times.  It was always an accident.

 

“You were raised by the women of this school, which was perhaps a mistake on my part…but Rowena and Helga have done their best, as best as a Mudblood and near-Squib could do…”

 

Sorrow bit her tongue at this remark.  She knew her father hated Rowena for her ancestry, but his insults towards Helga were unnecessary. 

 

“It is time for this to end.”  Sorrow frowned, confused at the sudden severity of his voice.  “It is time you learned to be a witch.  Soon you will be a student of this school and in my House.  Your House.  You must learn the ways of a Slytherin, which are quite different than the ways of a Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff.  Or even a Gryffindor.”  He stopped pacing and turned to face his daughter.

 

“This book…it was your mother’s.  She wrote the notes on the sides, the remarks, the charms in the margins.  Your mother was a brilliant witch.  Had she lived…” His eyes met hers for a moment before returning to the book.  “This should have been given to you long ago, but I did not have the time.”  He gave the leather cover one last caress before handing it to Sorrow, who took it and hugged it to her chest.  A new book.  Her mother’s book. 

 

Salazar cleared his throat and spoke, the hiss returning to his words. “On one of those pages, you will find information about a creature called the basilisk.  Do you know what a basilisk is?”

 

Sorrow nodded.  “A basilisk is the King of Serpents,” she said clearly.  “It is created by hatching a chicken egg under a toad.  One look in its eyes will kill you instantly.”  Her heart gave an extra thud as she spoke the words. 

 

Precisely,” her father said with a faint smile.  And that is my favor.”

 

Confused and wondering what she had missed, Sorrow frowned.  “Pardon?”

 

Salazar crossed his arms.  You do not understand?  You are to hatch me a basilisk, preferably without killing yourself in the process.  He raised his dark eyebrows.  That is, unless you are too frightened to do so.

 

Sorrow shook her head.  “I’m not frightened,” she told him fiercely.  “But…may I ask why?”

 

That is not your concern.  Hatch the basilisk, and perhaps then I will tell you.”  He returned to his chair and sat.  Now leave.  Dinner will begin shortly.”

 

Sensing the end of the discussion, Sorrow departed quickly, her arms cradling the book.  Her mother’s book. 

//
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