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Rowena's Quill, Chapter One



Okay, I can't stand it. I'm barely concentrating on my work, thinking only of how and where to publish my story. So here's Chapter 1. There are 34 in all, and I guess I'll be posting weekly every Monday. Hope you all enjoy.

Disclaimer: With a few exceptions, the characters and magic in this story are borrowed from J.K. Rowling and I am in no way making money from this. If I am at all able to copy her creations, it is only because she has breathed such life into them herself.



To the average Hogwarts student, the most boring subject in the curriculum was History of Magic. Ancient Runes was considered just as boring, but at least it was not a required subject. Every year, a few really brainy students signed up, but for the majority, Ancient Runes was blissfully ignored.

Tom Riddle, who was by no means an average Hogwarts student, considered them all fools. Without History of Magic, he would never have discovered that he was descended from Salazar Slytherin, and if not for Ancient Runes, he would never have been able to decipher the writings of his illustrious ancestor.

In Tom’s fifth year, Sophie Starkle became the new Runes professor. At the age of twenty-five, hers was the youngest appointment ever in Hogwarts’ history. This fact by itself was enough to pique Tom’s interest. Though only fifteen himself, he was determined to beat her record. He set out to discover the secret to her success.

Asking Slughorn was the first logical step. He loved talking about his past club members, and Tom was certain that Starkle must have been one of them. Slughorn really did have a knack for picking out talent.

“Sophie? Why, of course, she’s one of mine! Very clever girl indeed,” Slughorn told him. “Won the Ancient Runes award when she graduated Hogwarts and then went abroad to further her studies. And besides that extraordinary mind, she’s got charm, too!”

Tom decided to reserve judgment on that until he’d seen it for himself. At the outset, he was not at all impressed with Professor Starkle’s physical appearance. Her hair and robes were perpetually untidy and her inquisitive eyes seemed much too large for her face. But when he observed her with the faculty in the Great Hall at mealtimes, he began to understand her charm. Really, it was nothing more than flattery. Whenever an older member of the faculty – and they were all older – entered the Great Hall, she would stand up in deference and would not sit until the elder did.

It was an old-fashioned custom Hogwarts had dispensed with years ago, but near as Tom could tell, the professors loved it. Slughorn, of course, was a glutton for that sort of thing, but Professor Merrythought also seemed to be eating it up. Tom supposed that Merrythought was so old, she had probably been a student at Hogwarts when that custom was in place. Perhaps she thought it was high time she received her share of honorifics.

What really surprised Tom was that Dumbledore seemed as taken in by Starkle as everybody else. He noticed it on their first day of class. Dumbledore, apparently in his capacity as Deputy Headmaster, was observing Starkle teach. He did not arrive right away, but gave her a little time to introduce herself to the students.

“It is a pleasure to meet you all,” she said. “Already we have one thing in common: I studied under Professor Edenick as well, and I intend to model my lessons after his. I hope it will be a smooth transition for all of us.”

She paused and looked at the papers strewn around her desk. “Now where did I put that?” she murmured to herself.

“Disorganized,” thought Tom. It seemed Starkle was as careless with her possessions as she was with her personal appearance. Tom, who was meticulously attentive to both, could never respect someone like that. “If this is what Dippet hires,” he thought, “I’ll have no worries.”

At that moment, Dumbledore walked into the class. Starkle sprang up from her seat, and gave a meaningful look to the class that they should all do the same. Most were embarrassed, but all of them did it. Tom made sure to be the first. It had been over four years since he first met Dumbledore. He would do anything to erase that initial bad impression.

Ciamar a tha sibh, neach-teagasig?” Starkle asked Dumbledore. It was a simple, “How are you, Professor?” and though their coursework was not usually in conversational Gaelic, everyone in class understood her.

Tha mi gu math, tapadh leibh,” replied Dumbledore. His “Fine, thank you,” was also clearly understood. Then, twinkling at Professor Starkle, he continued in a fast and flowing Gaelic. Whatever he said, it made her giggle like a schoolgirl. Perhaps he was joking to put her at her ease, but he had not succeeded. She was very obviously nervous. She valued his opinion and wanted his approval.

“Weak, too,” thought Tom. But their banter made him curious. He wondered if these two linguists could speak the language of snakes.

Starkle spent a few more moments searching her cluttered desk. “Ah, here,” she said, and she gave the class their syllabus for them term. She knew she’d made a blunder, but she conducted the rest of the lesson competently. Tom saw that she knew her subject thoroughly, so despite all her obvious faults, he concluded that it was worth his while to try and get close to her.

Dumbledore also seemed impressed with her teaching, but was much less so at the way she kept her classroom. When she finished, he waved his wand over the room, and all the books on her shelves straightened themselves up, the bits of parchment peeking out of them folded themselves up neatly and disappeared from view, and the items strewn around her desk stacked into a pile and moved closer to her.

Starkle blushed awkwardly at this, but Dumbledore spoke in the same light-handed tone he used when correcting students in Transfiguration. He said something in an advanced Gaelic, but this time, Tom caught the gist of it. “Sharp minds ought to be free from keeping watch on their possessions.” Tom could not have disagreed more.

In the next few weeks of class, Tom did subtle things so that Professor Starkle would notice him. He knew his reputation would precede him. He was the brightest student in his year and a new prefect. And then there was his personal history, ideal for winning over soft-hearted fools given to that weakness known as “sympathy.” But with all of this, Tom felt he had to add something more. He always made sure to stand up whenever she entered the room, just the way she did for the other professors. His classmates had been following suit, and that was fine with Tom. It wouldn’t do to be too different. But he had been the first.

Starkle liked making them work hard. Despite what she said, she was not following the model of her predecessor Edenick. Her assignments were far more demanding. Tom found he could make good use of her lessons. With his comprehension expanding as it never had before, Slytherin’s words were becoming clearer and clearer. He wanted nothing more than to avenge his ancestor and restore his ways to Hogwarts.

The dispute between Salazar Slytherin and the other three founders was a subject the professors never mentioned. Tom learned about it entirely on his own. Slytherin wrote extensively about the necessity of keeping magical blood lines clean. Mudblood marriages were therefore a particular danger, and he exhorted wizards to keep careful control over their children’s friends. It was mainly for this reason that he sought to keep mudbloods out of Hogwarts. He concluded one of his writings with this: Progeny, after all, is our way of leaving a lasting mark on the world. There is, of course, the Horcrux, darkest of all dark magic, but the immortality it affords is risky to say the very least.

“A wizard can achieve immortality?” thought Tom as he read those words. If so, then Slytherin had just given him the most priceless information he’d ever from the ancient scrolls. Tom had been on a quest to find the secret to defying death from the moment Dumbledore had told him he was a wizard. Death had cast a shadow over his life from his very first hour. If his mother hadn’t died, he would never have been abandoned in that filthy Muggle orphanage. He would have been raised as befit a wizard of his stature.

In his five years at school, however, Tom had never found anything on the subject, and he had put in a good deal of effort looking. But his ancestor had given him the answer!

“A Horcrux,” thought Tom. At last he had something to go on! He spent the next few days scouring the restricted section of the library, finding only one source in Runes so advanced he could not make sense of it. He needed a better translator, and Starkle would serve.

Approaching her was a delicate matter. Slytherin warned that it was a risky spell, which probably meant dark magic, and Starkle was the sort who’d fear dark magic. She might even report him to Dumbledore if she suspected he was dabbling in something he shouldn’t. So Tom had to be careful not to raise her suspicions. One unknown but pivotal word could be his undoing. He carefully made up a list of words from scattered places, some relating to the Horcrux and others from Slytherin’s writings. In this way, she would not see any pattern. He went to see her on the auspicious night of Halloween.

“Please come in, Tom. I didn’t expect to see any students tonight. What about the feast?”

“Oh, I”ll be there soon,” he said casually. “It’s just that I’ve come across some words and phrases in my reading that I hoped you could explain.”

“Of course! I must say it is a pleasure to have a student who takes such an interest in Runes. Reading outside the assignments is the best possible practice.”

“And there’s so much out there to practice with!” agreed Tom. He handed over his list. She held it so that sitting on opposite sides of her desk, both of them could see.

“This first one means ‘split.’ And these mean ‘subterranean’, ‘love’, ‘hidden’, ‘unpredictable,’ ‘chamber’ and ‘immortal.’” Starkle wrinkled her forehead as if in concentration as she continued. “Now these three are concepts that cannot be translated with a single word. They refer to different types of magical lineage. The first is a direct male line – all wizards in other words, the second is a direct female line, and last is a mix of both witches and wizards, and not in any particular order. Shall I write it all that in for you?” and before he could answer, she had bewitched her quill to write by itself.

“That’s an extraordinary quill,” said Tom. It seemed as a good a way to make light of his list as any.

With some pride in her voice, she replied, “That is really one of its lesser abilities, Tom. It knows many, many languages.”

Tom was now genuinely intrigued. “You bought it when you were abroad, then?”

“Oh, no. It was a gift from my mother when I graduated Hogwarts. I would never accept an enchanted item like this – one that can think for itself – from anyone unless I knew them well and trusted them completely. That is an important safety practice. Professor Merrythought must have told you.”

“Yes, she has, but thank you for the reminder,” said Tom. A magical object that could think for itself! Some how, some way, he would have to get his hands on that quill.

“There’s a very enjoyable way to keep up your vocabulary and translation skills, you know,” said Starkle. “It’s a parlor game called ‘Rack ‘n Rune.’ We had a Rack ‘n Rune club when I was a student at Hogwarts. I was hoping to start one again. Would you like to learn to play?”

“Yes, thank you,” said Tom, his eye on the quill.

“Now where did I put it?” Starkle said to herself. She turned around, and Tom’s fingertips grazed the quill’s black feather. She whipped back around and Tom quickly pulled his hand away. “There it is! Accio!” A long flat box flew to her desk. She put a small wooden rack beside each of them, then laid out an enormous bunch of blank tiles between them, touched her wand to her quill and told it, “Gaelic.”

In a moment, the quill was writing Gaelic Rune letters on the tiles.

“The object of the game is simple,” Starkle began explaining. “The tiles will scramble themselves, and you have to unscramble them and form words. Once you have a complete word, you send it to your rack. Here, I’ll show you.” She pulled together a few tiles, and spelled out gràdh. “Now that’s one from your list. I’m sure you recognize it.”

“Love,” said Tom, pronouncing the distasteful word.

Starkle nodded cheerfully, touched the tiles with her wand, and they flew to her rack. “You can play solitaire also, but when you’re playing competitively, speed is essential. Shall we?”

“Yes,” said Tom, considering the game a good investment of time. She would be so at ease, she would never even notice the disappearance of her quill.

After about a quarter an hour, Tom was ready to make his move. Slowly, he inched his fingers toward the quill and then -

“Late for the feast, aren’t you?” came Dumbledore’s voice from the open doorway.

Tom snatched his back just in the nick of time. Professor Starkle, meanwhile, had leapt to her feet, making Tom appear to lack proper reverence.

“Oh yes,” said Starkle apologetically. “I must have lost track of the time.”

“Rack ‘n Rune will do that to you,” said Dumbledore. Turning to Tom, he said, “Professor Starkle was captain of the Hogwarts Rack ‘n Rune team when she was a student here.”

“I was rather hoping to restart the club.”

“You may have an uphill battle there,” said Dumbledore. “Gobstones seems to be in vogue these days, thanks to Miss Prince. You must know her, Tom. She’s in your house.”

“Yes, sir,” said Tom, instinctively avoiding Dumbledore’s penetrating gaze. His manner was smiling and genial, but he made Tom uneasy, as though even his thoughts were being scanned.

“Rack ‘n Rune can wait, I think,” said Dumbledore. “Shall we go down to the feast?”

“Yes, of course,” said Starkle.

Tom had no choice but to follow. As they crossed over the threshold of her office, the tiles of the game returned to their box, and the quill flew into a drawer in her desk, which locked itself. Tom inwardly cursed Dumbledore for his uncanny way of turning up at the most inopportune times.


Go to Chapter 2

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
kressel
Jan. 30th, 2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
Re: “Love,” said Tom, pronouncing the distasteful word.



You're the best! I've been checking my email by the minute, waiting for someone to post a comment. Thanks so much! *hugs*
(Deleted comment)
Re: *beams* - kressel - Jan. 31st, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
mrn613
Jan. 31st, 2006 12:48 am (UTC)
I don't know anything about Harry Potter but I'm happy to post a comment. I've been wondering what the Quill comments referred to.
kressel
Jan. 31st, 2006 01:10 am (UTC)



Thanks. That's sweet of you.
chanah
Jan. 31st, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
I like.


Looking forward to the next installment.
kressel
Jan. 31st, 2006 04:18 am (UTC)



Thanks for saying so. I know it's pathetic, but I'm desperate for comments.
netiimvzaviyos
Jan. 31st, 2006 02:55 am (UTC)
This is very good. Looking forward to future installments!
kressel
Jan. 31st, 2006 04:18 am (UTC)



Thank you so much!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 31st, 2006 10:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kressel - Jan. 31st, 2006 02:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Feb. 1st, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kressel - Feb. 1st, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Feb. 3rd, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
potterlovegood
Jan. 31st, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
A very captivating beginning. This story has really caught my interest. Generally I only read Luna fics, and I know that you said she would be coming in later chapters. Is she related to Prof. Sparkle? Just curious. Anyway, keep up the excellent work, looking forward to more.
kressel
Jan. 31st, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC)



Thanks for your interest. I LOVE your username. I was hoping for Luna & Harry to get together, too, but I'm happy for Ginny, too.

As to how Luna will appear in this story, I'll just leave you guessing. But thank you for posting your compliments. It means a lot to me.
Great start! - (Anonymous) - Feb. 1st, 2006 03:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kressel - Feb. 7th, 2006 02:59 am (UTC) - Expand
melanyebaggins
Feb. 2nd, 2006 04:58 am (UTC)
Have printed, will read as a bedtime story :) Thanks for the heads-up, I so rarely have time to check my friends' page these days :(
sarahcoldheart
Feb. 7th, 2006 12:07 am (UTC)
Came from loonylove, oooh I like this, very nice first chapter! ~goes off to see the second now!~
kressel
Feb. 7th, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)



Thanks so much for your compliments! I hope you'll be checking in every Monday!
miss_sophia
Feb. 20th, 2006 07:01 pm (UTC)
I've never actually read a Tom Riddle-centric story, so yours is a nice place for me to start. You're building a really interesting plot here with Tom and the quill, and I sense that there's a lot more to the quill than we have heard so far from Prof. Starkle. I definitely look forward to seeing where you take this.

In particular, I like how you're weaving in the threads of Tom learning about Horcruxes and the Chamber of Secrets. You dropped hints really nicely in the questions he asked Prof. Starkle about the rune translations.

I do think you're writing a bit of a different Tom from the one in canon. Your Tom seems a bit more motivated by prestige than by the fear of death and the desire to control. Also, JKR's Tom would likely not be questing for pureblood rights for their own sake, as Tom Riddle is a half-blood himself. Instead, he uses pureblood mania as a way of drawing in and controlling followers, whom he can then use in his quest to attain immortality. But it's perfectly OK that your Tom is different. I just thought I'd point that out. :)

I loved the way Tom reached for the quill while Prof. Starkle's back was turned. It's so subtly diabolical, and it really showcases Tom's arrogance and the way he turns into a sort of collector of sacred objects.

I also really liked how Dumbledore came in at just the right moment, as if he were watching Tom. In HBP, Dumbledore told Harry that he felt the need to keep an eye on Tom during his time at Hogwarts, and I thought this part of your story tied in really neatly with this aspect.

And nice reference to Eileen Prince and the Gobstones Club. I wonder if Tom and Eileen will interact in your story?

Finally, I think the ending is a great cliffhanger. I'm looking forward to finding out what Tom does next.

Oh, and an administrative note: I like how you included the link to Chapter 2 at the bottom. For some reason, I hadn't thought of that myself, so I'm going to use this method when I put my fics up on LJ. Great idea!

Looking forward to Chapter 2 (but won't get to it until later, because the hubby's pestering me to go to Starbucks with him). :)
kressel
Feb. 20th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. You make interesting points about Tom. I always thought he hated Muggles because he hated his father. As far as his being half-blood himself, I see that as part of what is making him so evil a character. He hates himself and the world around him.
(no subject) - miss_sophia - Feb. 21st, 2006 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - miss_sophia - Feb. 21st, 2006 05:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kressel - Feb. 21st, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kressel - Apr. 30th, 2006 07:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
paynesgrey
Mar. 16th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)
Ah! I love this! What an amazing and intelligent tale so far just with the first chapter! I'm very much intrigued and I'm pleased how you're characterizing Professor Starkle. She's already such a fleshed out character. I can't wait to read more. I hope I get the chance in between down times at work. *whistles and looks away innocently*

Oh, by the way, I'm quirkysmuse at my writing journal. Quirkyslayer is my regular journal. XD
kressel
Mar. 16th, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC)



Thanks so much for your compliments. As a writer yourself, I think you can imagine how I savor them. But don't get yourself into trouble at work! I lost a job due to internet use on work time. Now I'm telecommuting, so when I waste time surfing, I'm the one who literally pays for it.
pennipotens7
Mar. 19th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
Hello, Kressel. I´m penn from The Quibbler. I´ve finally read the 1st. chapter.
O___O
It´s Great !!! You´re very talented. I´m eager to read the 2nd and I´ll do that as soon as possible.
Congratulations!
kressel
Mar. 19th, 2006 07:09 pm (UTC)



Thanks for reading and commenting! One more week until our birthdays!
lunaobsessed
Apr. 25th, 2006 03:29 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this...I admit I was a bit wary at first, because I don't read many fics that aren't Luna-centered, and Tom Riddle is far from Luna. But I really liked it. ;)

Liked the Prince reference, and Sophia Starkle is indeed an interesting character. Clever idea with the quill, too. And very Dumbledore-ish to turn up when he did.

Glad I'm finally reading this. :) *moves onto next chapter*
kressel
Apr. 25th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)



Thanks for commenting! You've made me so happy! I hope you stick with it! There are quite a few chapters before Luna shows up.
heronmy_weasley
May. 2nd, 2006 12:09 am (UTC)
I know I said I'd save up my comments until I'd caught up, but someone on my RL LJ was mentioning the dearth of well-characterized Tom Riddle-as-student fics, and I thought of this chapter. It's an arresting start, and honestly, considering your prediliction for Luna, I wasn't expecting the story to start this way or with Tom himself, but it was effective, and you nailed him, exactly.
kressel
May. 2nd, 2006 02:06 am (UTC)



Thanks for posting! Funny you should mention this chapter. I just added a new paragraph to it yesterday pursuant to a critique that Tom doesn't show enough fear of death. Please move on in the story, though. Tom gets more chapters than anyone else, and I'm rather proud of Chapter 3.

If you don't mind my asking, what's your username on your RL LJ?
(Anonymous)
May. 7th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC)
Chapter 1-Rowena's Quill
Hello kressel, my name is Sue and I'm Fab4Mum on the SQ site. Thanks for the invite to read your story! And no, it was NOT a shameless plug - I was honored to be asked.

I enjoyed this first chapter very much! You have some very intriguing plot ideas that you are developing here. I like the idea that Riddle "wanted nothing more than to avenge his ancestor and restore his ways to Hogwarts." I hadn't thought of that, I've actually wondered why Tom would want to return to Hogwarts, and this is a very plausible explanation.

The game you have invented is awesome! (Kind of like Wizard Scrabble, very cool)Very well done.

I found the reasoning that Riddle has wanted to find a way to defy death all his life, even preceding his years at Hogwarts, owing to his own mother's death, to be an intriguing idea as well.

You have laid the plot foundation for a wonderful story, and have obviously done your HP homework, and I am looking forward to reading more!


ext_136030
Dec. 10th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
BS”D

Good written. I like this idea with the Ancient Runes and the quill. You painted Tom’s personality good and Professor Starkle is really interesting. And Albus is a part of the picture too, I really love him! I must read chapter two now..
kressel
Dec. 11th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
BS"D

I'm so flattered you're willing to read this, even though Deathly Hollows proved my theories totally wrong. BTW, Dumbledore gets a big role in this. My very favorite scenes to write were the ones in his POV.
devofriends
Jul. 15th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, I'm going to have fun reading this! Great start! :-)
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