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<title>To Capture Tintagel (the Spiral Castle remix)</title><br>

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<h3>To Capture Tintagel (the Spiral Castle remix)</h3><br>
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<p>
I
<p>
Let’s say it starts with the scrape of chair-legs on stone; with the chill breeze sweeping through the ruined hall, ruffling the parchments on the table. Let’s say it starts here, for want of a better place to start. And it starts with a glance between a Dark Lord and his future general.
<p>
II
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That was one castle. This is another. Observe the way the battlements reach to the sky, the peaks of the towers above the dull stone fortifications of the walls, the crest - four houses, four animals, an ancient rivalry - hanging limp in the still air, on a stifling summer’s night. This is another, younger castle, and this is its prince.
<p>
III
<p>
There was never anything I could do about Sirius; he was like a force of nature, sometimes, with his wild black hair and that roaring laugh and his sudden, irrepressible urges to get us into trouble. And that year he’d been worse than ever, once our OWLS were out of the way - “It’s nothing but notoriety and marauding for me now, James,” he would say, and send Peter down to the library to borrow piles and piles of books which he would carefully plagiarise. A sentence here, a sentence there, and the ink’s still wet on a half-hour essay and Sirius Black is gone, out onto the Quidditch pitch with his Cleansweep slung over his shoulder.
<p>
There was never anything I could to to keep him under control, and I never wanted to. If we were a court suit, with me as the King and lovely Lily as the Queen and studious Remus as the Knight, he would be the Joker, always disappearing around corners and buying elaborate conjuring sets through owl order.
<p>
And so there was nothing I could really do about him, although the teachers asked me more than once - responsible James, Marauder by night and Head Boy by day - if I could just make him slow down, do some work, stop trying to break into the secret store-cupboard in the dungeons, stop raiding the Slytherin dorms at midnight. Professor McGonagall was once so exasperated she asked me if I’d just tie him to his bed at night, to keep him out of mischief. Never knew that I was so complicit. And so, on the excursions through the labyrinth beneath Hogwarts we marked out on the Marauder’s Map, it was me with one hand on the Invisibility Cloak and one hand on Sirius’s shoulder, trying to stop him from running ahead.
<p>
And one night, I couldn’t stop him, and he almost killed someone. That’s the thing with Jokers, you see.
<p>
As it was, I stopped him. Not by showing him the error of his ways, as so many teachers wanted me to. Not by sitting him down and talking to him, as Lily wanted me to. But by running after the intended victim, my hand grabbing his cloak, my breath icy in the chill air, the smell of bark and moss and tree-roots and earth, and a huge dark mass of muscle and fur and teeth ready to deal out the execution which Sirius - through pride and anger and stupidity - had ordained.
<p>
I loved Sirius enough to forgive him. I couldn’t love him enough to forget. And in the end, that was the only thing I ever did about Sirius, and things went back to normal, shuffling themselves back into some semblance of reality. There were bitter, bitter recriminations - Remus in angry tears, Sirius white as a ghost - and appointments with the Headmaster, and the awkward meeting, weeks afterwards, with the object of Sirius’ rage.
<p>
“You saved my life,” he said flatly, not looking up.
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“It was what anyone would -”
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“No, it was what <i>you</i> would do.”
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And then he looked up, greasy black hair falling across his face, glittering black eyes, sneer firmly intact.
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“Thank you. <i>Potter</i>.”
<p>
IV
<p>
That was how it ended, and this was how it started; the scrape of chair-legs on stone, and the wind blowing through the open door, and it’s the Great Hall of a castle abandoned years ago - centuries and centuries, in fact, and it’s only the great spell woven into its foundations that keeps it standing, age after age. Caer Siddi, the spiral castle, where a pale man in his mid-twenties is sitting on a chair that looks very much like a throne, wearing a cloak of tattered velvet.
<p>
Armaros Malfoy is sitting at the other side of the table, and his only son is standing by his chair - pale, unmoving, his eyes fixed on the former Hogwarts Head Boy, decked out in his velvet and shadows.
<p>
“Lucius, isn’t it?”
<p>
Pale green eyes fix on him across the table. Lucius bows his head. “Yes, sir.”
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The man in the cloak is not yet Lord Voldemort, but he’s more than Tom Riddle; and he’s brought this castle back from time, and peopled it with spiders and serpents.
<p>
The Dark Lord smiles at him, and indicates that he should sit.
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V
<p>
The book was bound in red leather, and the pages were thin and delicate little things like skeleton leaves. They made a soft crackling sound as I turned the pages, and some of the print came off on my fingers. Magical script in reverse looks like a foreign language, the dots and the loops in completely different places, like the writing in the book of the dead my father brought back from Arabia one year. Swirling and looping and quite beautiful; black on my white skin, like secrets beneath the surface. I read it in a week, while my housemates were indulging themselves in their passions for Quidditch, or food, or childish pranks.
<p>
Moste Potente Potions, the engraved frontispiece claimed, and they made good on that promise.
<p>
Just as I made good on my promise to get Severus Snape to attend an intimate dinner party of the Separatists. Oh, of course I knew that wasn’t their real name; I was a child, but not an idiot. And I knew that the man in the grey castle that my father had taken me to see was Tom Riddle, who was just beginning to make his mark on the world - and what a mark it was!
<p>
Severus Snape and Lily Evans - pretty Lily with the bright red hair, how charming - and not a chance in hell that she’d so much as look at him.
<p>
Comes the hour, comes the man: and that was the hour, and I was that man.
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VI
<p>
This is the younger castle, the brighter castle - flag, sunny day, battlements, Great Hall, tables, students - and this is the girl with the keys to the kingdom. She has red hair, tied back with a ribbon, and green eyes, and she’s sitting with her friends to have lunch, her books thrown onto the bench beside her. She’s hurrying, because she’s meeting James in the common room after lunch, and she still has her Arithmancy homework to do. James is sitting further down the table, with Sirius of the dark hair and Remus of the quiet smile, and Peter, unremembered Peter, of the nothing-much. Across the hall, there’s Severus Snape of the unrequited passion, and Lucius Malfoy, who has a book of forbidden Dark Magic. Watch closely; this is where it <i>really</i> starts.
<p>
VII
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I was trying to put her out of my mind, and it was like trying to pin down the North Wind. My father used to read me books about trying to pin down the North Wind, and I’m sure there was some sort of ridiculous moral about it, like - don’t attempt the impossible, it’s disappointing and embarrassing - but all I can remember is the way the trees were moving in the illustrations. Autumn leaves, red autumn leaves, red like -
<p>
Like Lily Evans’ hair.
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Damn.
<p>
I was trying not to look over to the Gryffindor table, but my eyes kept playing tricks on me - a flash of colour outside my field of vision, something reflected in the windows, and there she was, and I was staring at her again, making love to her food and tossing her hair just so, making it catch the light. Mudblood, Gryffindor, Potter’s girlfriend, and all I could do was think about how her hands held her fork, so white and slender, and imagine them touching me, smoothing the hair back from my face, sliding down to wrap around the base of my cock, squeezing -
<p>
And I was trying to think about Arithmancy, when all of a sudden there was Lucius.
<p>
“You’ve never failed to try and take what you want, Severus.”
<p>
And the unspoken, the unvoiced - <i>what’s stopping you now?</i>
<p>
“Can’t a friend do you a favour?”
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And I marvelled at the simplicity of the plan, its beauty - to take what Potter had by becoming Potter myself.
<p>
For an hour.
<p>
<i>Like Cinderella</i>, I thought at the time, with the chimes of midnight harrying me all the way back to the Slytherin dorms. No glass shoe, no prince, no enchanted castle - just the dull grey stone of Hogwarts in the summer heat, and a lock of James Potter’s hair, and the chance to run my hands over the curves of Lily Evans’ body, feel her breasts spilling from her robe under my hands, and gather up all that red hair into my fist.
<p>
One hour, a potion, Lucius’ little book of black magic.
<p>
Except it didn’t end as I planned, with the chimes of midnight and the flight with the taste of Lily still on my lips. Maybe it ended with the Shack, and Black, and Potter’s hand clutching at my robes, and Lupin-the-monster like a beast out of a storybook. Maybe it ended with the man in the mist-filled castle, with his mahogany throne and the spiderwebs, as I kept my side of Lucius’ bargain.
<p>
“Think of it as a test,” Lucius had whispered, and I never worked out what he meant by that. Everything’s a test. And I’ve never been unprepared.
<p>
VIII
<p>
There’s the book, there’s the agreement, and there’s a fifteen-year-old werewolf walking down the corridor, his fur safely hidden under his skin, his claws sheathed, his body walking to the slow steady pace of the moon’s rhythm. He passes Severus -
<p>
“What I’ve got isn’t catching -”
<p>
- and tries in a heartbeat to tell him about the power roiling under the surface, of blood and things he can’t understand, but it pales and he moves on, smiling at the other students, slipping into class to sit next to Sirius, Sirius with the strong hands and easy laughter who’s going to lead a victim to the wolf’s lair, under tree-roots and moss and with the dank smell of wet earth.
<p>
VIV
<p>
He sits and watches, the man in the castle, where the chill breeze comes through the ruined hall, and the parchments on the table whisper. He watches.
<p>
X
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It was a stupid thing that Sirius did that summer term. I spent half of the holidays being angry at James for not stopping him, when that’s stupid - how do you stop your best friend from doing something on a whim? I don’t know what Sirius was doing in the grounds that night, but that’s almost normal; after he’d mastered the transformation, he was off into the Forbidden Forest every night. Sometimes he’d meet Remus, we knew that much, and they went off running under the trees on the nights of the full moon, and James would sit in his room and pretend not to care that they’d disappeared without telling him. I always knew when the full moon was coming up, because James would start giving me presents. Small ones, of course - ribbons for my hair, but also sugar quills, little notebooks with a moving picture on the cover. Looking back, I suppose it was because he felt guilty, really; about using me almost like a stop-gap, when they’d done the transformations so they could <i>all</i> be off by moonlight.
<p>
Oh, don’t think that there was anything wrong between us - James and I. It had been the most perfect romance, with roses and secret meetings in the Astronomy Tower, the way a fifth-year romance is mean to be. I always knew that I’d be second to the Marauders, but how could I mind? They made such a perfect group of friends, with shy Peter and joking Sirius and clever Remus, and of course James, who was straight in line for Head Boy. James, the... well, I don’t know. How to describe the love of my life?
<p>
Dependable, I suppose. And that sounds so dull, but really it wasn’t. James, who’d always turn up on time, and ask me on dates, and could keep up Quidditch and his work and still find time for his slightly-too-studious girlfriend, who couldn’t turn into an Animagus (but not for lack of trying!).
<p>
It was close to the full moon, when Sirius told Snape about the tunnel under the Whomping Willow. Which, of course, makes me think that he was out of the castle to meet Remus - Sirius, not Snape - but doesn’t explain what a Slytherin was doing, sneaking around the grounds at night. I suppose I’ve answered my own question, haven’t I? No-one knows what the Slytherins get up to, though Merlin knows the Marauders have tried.
<p>
So Sirius was out of the castle to meet Remus, and Snape was out of the castle doing - well, whatever it is that Slytherins do - and James and I were out of the castle because Hagrid was off in the forest talking to the centaurs, and his cottage was empty, and it’s so hard finding time to be alone in the castle. But I can’t help thinking that what happened that night, between the two of us, was spoiled by what Sirius did to Snape. It was almost a murder attempt. Isn’t that a little self-important, to be angry at your boyfriend’s best friend because he tried to kill someone on the night you lost your virginity? Maybe. I was angry at Sirius for a good many reasons, but that was the first one I could think of.
And so, when I think of that summer, I can’t remember the things I ought to remember; the Quidditch matches, although Gryffindor won every game by a mile; the late-night parties; being with James on the night before the full moon, his fingers digging painfully into my shoulders and feeling like molten fire. All I can imagine is how some sneaky little Slytherin looked, the moment he landed at the bottom of the passage under the Whomping Willow, and saw Remus - gentle, quiet Remus - coming at him to kill with claws and teeth.
<p>
XI
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Of course, I couldn’t have done it without Riddle’s help. It was bloody difficult, and involved too much time around grubby little Gryffindors for my taste. I had to hide around corners like a common thief, especially in the library; watching them at their table, the fat one and the arrogant one and the boring one and James, dear James, the golden boy of Hogwarts and his red-haired whore. She wasn’t anything special. She had hair that was almost orange, and a little too curly, and a little too wild. It made me itch to yank at it, to shear it off with the sharpest scissors I could find, and tie it back off her face, so I could show Severus: there. There’s your love, your golden girl, and she isn’t much without her hair and laughter, is she?
<p>
She wore skirts that were a little too high, and shirts that were a little too tight, and she deserved everything she got.
<p>
And it was Riddle that told me where to overhear James and Lily, where to find a strand of James’s hair, and where to keep listening, in corridors and common rooms, to find out everything I needed to know. It surprised me that Lily, who’d been making eyes at half of Gryffindor, was a virgin. It surprised me even more that James, prince of Hogwarts castle, hadn’t exercised his - how should I put it - <i>royal</i> rights over other girls’ beds, but I suppose there’s no accounting for taste, or morality. Grubby little Gryffindors, all high values and dates in Hogsmeade, when any fool could tell that Lily was ripe for the picking, her breasts coming out of those tight white shirts like ripe fruits, her lips covered in strawberry lip gloss. She’d meet James in the library, behind stacks A to B (Arithmancy to Boggarts), and let him shove her up against the bookshelves, legs parted, and I’d be surprised if she wasn’t dripping wet through those short skirts -
<p>
The plan was simple. I wanted Lily to be taken - as violently as possible - by someone she’d never take a second look at, while James continued to carry her books between classes and pass her little notes in the corridors. There’s the golden boy, and his girlfriend has fucked someone else, and <i>he’d never know</i>..
<p>
Of course, the fact that it would secure Severus for the Separatists was also important. I wanted the fleeting smile on Riddle’s face to be for me, only for me.
<p>
And I would use the potion he’d given me - like water, really, tasteless and colourless - to sit in Hagrid’s hut, and watch.
<p>
XII
<p>
It was better than I’d ever expected.
<p>
“I have a surprise for you,” and were any words ever that sweet? Naked under her robes, like a present which was wrapped too quickly, with only the clasp at the neck - pale skin, marked by my bites - holding it around her body. Naked to my touch in the flickering firelight. It was like having a banquet laid out before a starving man, and not knowing what to savour first - round breasts, pink nipples, pale thighs, sparse red hair between her necks, fragrant with the scent of her, her, <i>her</i>, Lily Evans who thought I was James Potter. She cried out his name as I fastened my mouth around her nipple and buried my fingers up to the knuckle in her warm, wet cunt, feeling her sliding down onto me, eyes tightly shut.
<p>
She begged me to fuck her, begged James to fuck her, as I slid my teeth over her pink, pink nipples, watching her head fall back and her hands clench into fists in the empty air. I’ve never seen anyone spread their legs that wide before, her muscles straining under the skin - so pale, almost translucent in the final inch before her cunt, so vulnerable and so open, as if she was begging with every inch of her body. And she was. And I had her, on a bed of discarded robes, watching her face change with pain as I went inside her, watching her hands flatten ineffectively against the cold stone floor as she whispered the name of her lover, as if it was a talisman to ward off the pain of my cock inside her, breaking her, stretching her.
<p>
I could taste her on my fingers for days afterwards.
<p>
And her hair was around her like a halo, and she was so sweetly confused with the feeling of being fucked, of being so completely taken. She was clenched around my cock, and I thought about coming back next week to see those lovely pink lips around me, to find out if she could take me all the way to the back of her throat. Such lovely lips. Wasted calling out James’s name, of course, because wherever Lucius had taken him, it was out of earshot.
<p>
And when it was over, I had scratch marks on my back from her small, rounded fingernails, and her face was red and her lips were bitten. And she looked so unlike Lily Evans that it startled me.
<p>
XIII
<p>
That was how it happened, how the golden boy of Hogwarts was cheated of his love’s first time, by a book and a potion and two boys, one who had felt Tom Riddle’s cold lips on his forehead and seen how easy it was to bring a life, a love, crashing down in splinters. And it had been a warm night, but Lily shivered in the cottage after Snape had left, and the moon was one sliver away from full, over the castle battlements.
<p>
XIV
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That was one castle; this is another. Observe how Severus Snape casts his eyes down before the man on the black throne; the room is thronged with men and women in black, their footsteps soft in the dust of centuries, their voices barely reaching half-way to the highest tower of the Spiral Castle. The dust has lain undisturbed for twice the age of Hogwarts, and will settle again - slowly, without a sound - once the man on the black throne has left his stronghold. And the castle will fall back into history.
<p>
Tom Riddle places his hands on the table, and begins to speak. This is another, older castle, and this is its prince.
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