The Sugar Quill
Author: Arya (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Sorrow of Slytherin  Chapter: Chapter Three: Midnight Dreams
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Thanks to Lockie for helping me with Sorrow’s wand

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I’m not JKR.    


Thanks to Lockie for helping me with Sorrow’s wand! 


The Sorrow of Slytherin

Chapter Three


            As the shadows of night fell over Hogwarts, the students of the school sleeping soundly in their beds, Sorrow crept from her chambers, cloaked in invisibility.  She held her breath as she passed her father’s study, hearing the familiar hiss of his snake within.  Silently, she wished him a night of deep sleep, with no midnight desires to walk through the corridors.


            She walked up the steps quickly, her bare feet slapping the cold stone, matching the pattering of her heart.  The halls were silent and dark, but her eyes were accustomed to the dark, and the silence only soothed her, to know no one was near.


            Her destination was known to few.  It was one of the castle’s many secrets, a favorite of Sorrow’s.  Rowena had told her about it on her sixth birthday, but she had been eight the first time she had discovered it.  She remembered that day quite clearly, must as clearly as her first visit to the forest.  But this memory was a happy one.


            Three times she passed the wall, the picture clear in her mind of where she wanted to go.  As the door handle appeared, she smiled, feeling a sense of accomplishment. 


            She pulled on the door handle and stepped into the room, still smiling.  Several lamps were lit on the stone walls, casting a low glow on the table in the center of the room.  Two bookshelves crammed full of books, scrolls, and yellowing bits of parchment stood against the far wall.


            Sorrow dropped her invisibility cloak onto the floor and closed the door behind her.  From beneath her cloak she pulled a small bag that writhed as though alive.  She turned it upside down and held out her hand to catch the toad that fell from the bag with a load, unhappy croak. 


            “I’m sorry,” she whispered, grasping the toad as it attempted to flee.  “I need your help…” She patted the toad’s  head gently and placed him on the table.  “Please stay.”


            The toad looked at her with large eyes, as if asking, “Why me?” but did not hop away.


            From another pocket came yet another bag, this one soft and round.  Gently she pulled from it what appeared to be a ball of cloth, and began unraveling it in her hand.  Inside was a perfect, white, chicken egg, stolen from the kitchen earlier that evening. 


            Her heart pounded within her chest, and her hands began shaking.  Suddenly, the toad gave a loud croak, and the egg fell from her hands onto the floor.  A small snake slithered from the broken shells, heading towards her as she backed into the corner…she tried not to look, tried not to give in, but she did, and she saw the huge yellow eyes of the King of Serpents…


            A scream erupted nearby, shaking Sorrow from her sleep.  Darkness surrounded her, but the scream continued.  A moment later she realized that the scream was coming from her own mouth.  Sweat poured from her face as she tore her covers off her body and sat straight up.  The screaming stopped abruptly, and Sorrow could suddenly hear movement in the corridor outside her chambers.


            “Sorrow!”  The door opened suddenly, and two large boys in their nightclothes sprung forward, wands out ready to attack. 


            The taller of the two boys, Jan, blinked and looked around the room.  “Where is he?” Jan demanded.  “Where is he?”


            Sorrow, still breathing heavily, shook her head, unable to speak.


            The other boy, Andren, stepped forward, a kind look on his handsome face.  “What happened?” he asked, touching his cool hand to her warm cheek.  “Did you have a bad dream?” He spoke as if to a baby, and Sorrow detested it.


            She grabbed her covers and pulled them around her.  “I woke and thought there was someone in my chambers,” she replied loftily.  “I was obviously mistaken.  Pardon me for waking you.”


            Jan shook his head in annoyance.  “Of course you were mistaken,” he muttered.  “You’re a Slytherin.”


            What was that?” Sorrow asked.  “Perhaps you two should return to bed.  My apologies.”


            Still muttering, Jan departed quickly, Andren at his heels.  Once alone, Sorrow hugged herself.  The eyes of the basilisk haunted her mind…


            It was wrong and she knew it.  The serpent would kill with those eyes, they would glare at one of the students and kill.  Basilisks were made to kill.  Yes, the first had been an accident, but after that?


            Why did Salazar want a murderous beast?  Why did he need the ability to kill?  He complained about the Muggle-borns, true, and about the women, but he didn’t hate them.  He lived with them, even taught them.  He wouldn’t kill them, surely not.  And why had he asked her to do the task?  She was ten, a child.  Children made mistakes, children were not worthy, in Salazar’s eyes.  Why entrust the creation of the King of Serpents to a child?


            An ache ran through Sorrow’s head.  There was no way she would be able to sleep after that dream.  The basilisk would follow her now, making peaceful sleeping nearly impossible.


            Sighing, Sorrow swung her legs out of her bed and stepped onto the cold floor.  From her bedside table, she took her wand, a slender piece of ivy with a single strand of unicorn hair inside.  A set of robes, the color unknown in the darkness, lay on her chair, and she picked them up and slipped them over her head. 


            The noise in the hallway had subsided, and no one was seen as she slipped out of her room.  She hurried to the stairs and climbed them to the main floor of the castle.  Moonlight streamed through the high windows, creating squares of white light on the ground. 


            Holding her breath, Sorrow approached the giant doors that led to the outside.  She pushed on them and slipped through. 


            The night greeted her, and before her, the forest.  A content smile crossed Sorrow’s face as she stepped onto the cool, damp grass and began to run.  All thoughts of her father, of the basilisk, of Rowena, left her mind as the wind blew her hair out of her face.  This was happiness. 


            She approached the forest and halted abruptly.  The dark trees loomed before her threateningly. 


            Three years ago.  She remembered now.  Three years ago from this day.  This time.  The moon had shone bright above her just as it did tonight.  She shivered, looking at the nearly-full orb in the sky.  It had been full that night…but the werewolves had not bothered her…


            A twig snapped and a hand touched Sorrow’s shoulder, scaring her.  She jumped away, her heart pounding.  Moonlight streamed onto the pale face of Rowena, who stood a foot away, her blond hair falling down her back, not in its usual braid.  She had not put robes over her nightclothes, and the thin white fabric shuddered in the night breeze.


            “Do you enjoy this night as well?” the pale woman asked, her voice soft and her blue eyes on the forest.


            Sorrow nodded, staring at Rowena.  Two days before, she had watched the woman lose her sanity on the landing.  She had returned to her classes amid whispers, saying little and looking frightened.  And now, in the middle of the night, she stood like a wildwoman before the forest. 


            “I did not mean to frighten you on the stairs,” Rowena whispered.  “I had not intended on…certain events.”


            Sorrow remained silent, unsure what to say.  A soft breeze swept through her hair, but she pushed the stray locks aside.


            “I…I realized something.”  The woman sounded almost frightened as she spoke, but her eyes did not move from the forest.  “I realize things which will come, and am haunted…”


            Sorrow shivered as the eyes moved from the forests to stare directly at her.  “I looked into my crystal after dinner today…Sorrow, you know you may speak with me?  Anytime.  Your father-”


            “Speak with you?” Sorrow interrupted as her heart thudded loudly in her ears.  “Why?”

            She knows, her conscience whispered.  She knows, but wants you to say…


            Sorrow, I know your father,” Rowena said, no longer whispering, concern spread across her face.  “I have known him for years…he has a way of influencing people, making them do as he pleases.  He spoke to you, and I have watched you since.  You are quiet, spending more time in the Library than is normal for even you…and now you stand before the forest, prepared to enter the dead of the night.  He has asked something of you, something which your mind tells you is not right.”  Her blue eyes, full of concern for the ten-year-old, watched Sorrow carefully, waiting for a response. 


            “He spoke to me of my sorting, as I’ve said,” Sorrow managed to say, avoiding the blue eyes that would know the lie.  “He was concerned.”


            Rowena’s face relaxed slightly, but she continued to stare at Sorrow.  “He has reasons for concern.  For months, we have argued about you, where you fit in at this school.  Born a Parselmouth, friend to all, lover of books, yet unafraid of the forest.  All of us have our own claim on you, and it frightens your father.  But there is more?”


            Sorrow shook her head.  “No,” she lied.  “He simply expressed concern and interest.”


            “I see…” Rowena did not seem convinced.  “If that is all…may I ask why you are going to the forest at this time of the night?”


            “I had a nightmare…”  Sorrow looked at the forest, her heart longing to be with the animals within, away from the overly curious woman who knew too much.


            “Nightmares plague the dreams of many,” Rowena said soothingly.  “Even as grown persons, we see the things we fear the most.  So you come to seek consolation with the forest.”


            Sorrow nodded silently, unable to describe the urge within her that had been present since birth.  From within the forest came a howl, causing shivers to race up her arms.  Not werewolves, she told herself.  Not tonight.


            “You should return to your bed,” Rowena said, her eyes returning to the trees.  “A ten-year-old is no match for the creatures of this forest…”


            Too tired to argue, Sorrow nodded and turned her back on the forest.  She would return in the morning.


            “Do as you wish, not as your father wishes,” came Rowena’s voice from behind.  “It is your life.  Your mother would wish you to think on your own.”


            Sorrow turned, but the woman had already stepped into the forest, invisible in the night. 

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