Title: Terry Boot and the Guardian's Riddle
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: Terry Boot, misc. Ravenclaws
Warnings: I don't have a beta reader, but nothing worse than that...
Summary: Every common room is different. Ravenclaw makes the first years work a little harder, but the reward is worth it.
The group of newly sorted Ravenclaw finally came to a stop in the middle of a long hallway.
“Well, here we are,” Penelope announced. Terry was glad that he wasn't the only one confused. The hall looked about the same as any of the others they had passed through. Actually, it did miss something important – a door! Terry hoped that the prefect wasn't a bit dodgey.
“Why, hello there Miss Clearwater!”
The voice suddenly came from beneath. Glancing down, Terry noticed that some of the stones in the floor were rearranging themselves. Little tiles of granite quickly and smoothly slid from different parts of the hall until a face was quickly formed. The flat figure reminded Terry of those faces associated with the theatre.
“Hello there yourself,” Penelope replied. “Have a nice summer?”
“Nice and quiet,” the floor replied.
“I hope you didn't get too used to it. This lot seems a rowdy bunch.”
“Definitely rabble rousers, every last one of them. Probably would be less trouble to let Ogres into the tower. But, I suppose they might not stink as much.”
“Slightly less,” Penelope agreed. Terry struggled to keep up with the banter. The fact that it was between a girl and the floor distracted him. “This is the door to the Ravenclaw tower.”
“Does he have a name?” Padma wondered aloud.
“Of course not,” the Floor responded. “Don't be silly. I'm a function – not a person! Do I look like portrait?” The Floor actually seemed a bit offended at the idea. Terry was glad Melissa asked the question, because he had been wondering the same thing.
“Be nice to the Muggle born. They can't help it.” The Floor looked a bit dubious about Penelope's statement, but chose to let it pass.
“Let's get on with the formal bit. Step forward one at a time, present yourself, and receive your password.” The crowd milled for a moment before forming a line. After the stress of the Sorting Hat, not mention full stomaches, no one wanted to got through another ceremony. Still, a line quickly formed. Terry felt relieved that he was at the end of the line. Alphabetical order wracked his nerves sometimes. Michael didn't seem to mind though. He proudly placed himself first in line.
“Guardian of the Tower of Ravenclaw, I present myself, Michael Corner to you.” He finished the speech with a small bow to the floor. Terry thought that introduction a bit heavy handed. From the expression on the others', they thought the same.
The face on the floor shifted. The blank features changed until they reflected Michaels.
“Michael Corner,” The Guardian in the Floor boomed to the startled boy. “When you stop and look, you can always see me. If you try to touch you cannot feel me. I cannot move, but as you near me, I will move away from you. What am I?”
“I wasn't expecting a quiz before my first class,” Michael muttered to himself. It got him a couple chuckles, including a begrudging one from Terry. “I'm afraid I don't know.”
“The Horizon. Remember that – it's your password. Next! And a bit less flowery next time.”
So it went down the line. Everyone had a good time with the riddles. Most people didn't make much effort to solve the riddles. They were very hard, and it didn't seem to matter anyway. Only one person actually got one right.
“What was the biggest clan of Giants in the world before the discovery of the East Chinese Mountain Clan?”
“The East Chinese Mountain Clan,” Anthony responded smartly.
“Good,” the Guardian replied. “You should have no problem with this one then. What has six faces, but does not wear makeup. It also has twenty-one eyes, but cannot see?”
“Um... A clock?” Anthony guessed wildly.
“No, a six sided die. That is your password. Next!”
Finally, it came to the end of the line, and Terry found himself facing the Guardian on the floor.
“What regularly changes shape, yet remains a sphere, is always there, but often not seen?”
“The moon.” Terry felt very proud of himself. He heard a similar riddle from his grandmother once. He didn't need to tell the others that though. He liked looking like the quick one in the smart house.
“Very good. Light as a feather, nothing in it. A strong man can't hold it more than a minute. What is it?”
Terry's face scrunched tight in concentration. He had not heard this one before. He began to get nervous when he realized all eye were on him. He even had to remind himself to breath after a moment.
“Breath! The answer is breath!”
“Well done Mr. Boot. There may be hope for you. Some. I am sometimes strong and sometimes weak, But I am nobody's fool. For there is no language that I can't speak, Though I never went to school. What am I?”
“Right again. I am never quite what I appear to be. Straight-forward I seem, but it's only skin deep, for mystery most often lies beneath my simple speech. Sharpen your wits, open your eyes, look beyond my exteriors, read me backwards, forwards, upside down. Think critically and answer the question... what am I?”
Now, Terry stumbled. He wracked and wracked his brain, but could come up with no answer. Everyone was shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. It must be getting very late.
“Me?” Terry ventured. The floor just looked disappointed. “I'm sorry. I give up.”
“A riddle. The answer is a riddle. That will be your password. Welcome to Ravenclaw everyone.”
“Remember your password,” Penelope interjected. “Your password will only work for you and no one else. Trust me, you don't want to go through the hassle to get a new one. The good news is, your password is good as long as you live. Well, let's get inside.” Turning to the floor, she said, “You don't. He's still alive.”
The face in the floor gave a brief smile and nod. Then, the stone peeled away like the skin of a fruit until there was a hole in the floor.
“Don't gawk. Follow me.” With no other warning, Penelope walked straight into the hole. Instead of descending like she was on stairs, or even falling down, she sort of tilted as if down had suddenly gone in another direction. She didn't even break her stride. With a shrug, Michael followed her. The rest of the first years weren't far behind.
Terry cautiously brought up the rear again. Biting his bottom lip as he did it, he put one foot in the hole. With a sudden lurch, Terry found himself in another short hallway. What had been the hole in the floor a moment before was now an archway behind him with the ceiling beyond. Quickly, the hole closed up, and only a wall with the Guardian's blank face remained.“By the way,” the Guardian whispered, “good job. It's been a bit since some one solved more than two of my riddles.”
“Only about a hundred,” the Guardian replied as he disappeared.
“Quite straggling,” Penelope called ahead. Terry rushed forward to the Ravenclaw common room.
The short hallway exited from a free standing arch near the center of the common room. The room was magnificent. It was open several stories high. Terry had to crane his neck back to see the ceiling. The vast opennessGothic cathedral he had visited once on a vacation, only much taller- though not nearly as wide or long. A giant, friendly fire burned in a pit in the center of the room. Over it, a glass dome decorated with a map of the stars led to a chimney that took the smoke strait up to the top on the tower. Arranged in concentric circles around the fire were plenty of groups comfortable couches and chair and plenty of tables at various heights. Most were perfect for studying or reading, but many were clearly meant for games or even just resting feet on. reminded Terry of a
“The windows!” Michael Corner gasped. Truly, the view was remarkable. First, many traveled half way up the tower. There were also many of all different sizes scattered across the wall. They over looked the grounds, but not in a normal way. Windows right next to each other showed different areas. One showed a large field surrounded by stands that resembled a stadium sat next to one that overlooked the lake. Next, one looked like it was inside the Great Hall.
“Ravenclaw loved creative architecture,” Penelope replied.
The most impressive thing to Terry though was the books. Most of the free space between the windows overflowed with books and scrolls of all kinds. Terry might spend the rest of his life just combing through these stacks and never reach the end. Large stone staircases snaked around the room, giving access to the various levels of books and windows.
“It's a bit of a tradition,” Penelope said as she eyed many of the first years staring open mouthed at the books. “These mostly aren't academic - you'll still have to go to the library for research. But, most Ravenclaws leave something behind before they graduate. It might be a journal, a novel, poetry, or even just the notes they passed in class. It's all available at anytime for any member of the house. But, that's for another day. Right now you should figure out who your rooming with.”
“We choose?” Mandy asked, blushing. “Anyone?” Michael grinned. The rest looked nervous.
“Obviously, first year boys have to choose other boys for roommates and girls have to choose girls.”
“After the first year?” Michael asked.
“You can change rooms and roommates at the start of any year, but you can't have a roommate of the opposite sex until you're of age. That's seventeen in the Wizard World,” Penelope clarified. “Go ahead and pick. It's three to a room for first years. Let me know when you've got it figured out.”
Terry glanced nervously at the other students. He had no idea which boys to ask to be roommates with. The two first years he had rode with on the train had both been sorted into Gryfindor. Not that he had really gotten to know them either. They spent most of the time looking for that darn toad of the other boy's (what-was-his-name?).
Terry thought that Anthony might be a good choice – seeing as he was the only other one to get one of the riddles right. Still, it looked like that annoy Michael kid had gotten to him first. Anthony seemed normal enough, but Terry didn't want to spend to much time with someone so pretentious. Everybody else mostly paired up though. Well, he could always change rooms later, right?
“Hey there, can I join you two?”
“You know,” Michael started, “I was just thinking how nice it would be to be roommates with the next two most clever boys.”
Terry almost turned around and asked Kevin and Stephen if they needed a third. Unfortunately, Penelope came by just then.
“You three together?”
Terry nodded in resignation.
“Well, knock three times on the bookcase to the right of the window facing the Forbidden Forest. It'll open to your room. Better be quick. Classes start tomorrow you know.”