a / n ; written for challenge two (because I am an idiot and didn't submit my entry for challenge one on time) of the forum-wide competion over at the HPFC forum. I am representing slytherin house and my characters are alice longbottom and bellatrix lestrange. I just thought I'd go ahead and mention (before I get a million reviews about how erratic this is) that the rambling, run-ons, and general degeneration of this piece was entirely intentional (though, feel free, judges to dock points, if you must, in your evaluation. I completely understand), and that anything recognizable either belongs to JK Rowling or Lewis Carroll. Really, I had so much fun writing this, it almost doesn't matter that I'll get a horrid score. ;)

et al
because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat

: - :

You can't temember if the walls have ever been a different shade of green, though you think they must have been because this green is too docile and doe-like, too much like falling into the world, and certainly nothing like the acid you don't recall (but think you almost remember in a sort of cellular sense) or the serpentine constellation that spilt its glare across the walls of your foyer like a ghastly gas lamp one November.

You can't remember if you've ever even had a foyer, because here there's just beds and bowls and bookshelves and begonias and green, floral wallpaper, all pressed together in one room, but you think you must have or maybe they've just misplaced it in all this crammed-togetherness, but this non-memory you keep sheltered in your split ends and tucked away in bedside drawers you won't unclose doesn't sit well without one.

And you try not to think about it - - what's locked in drawers or the philosophical question of foyers (because they're tied together like daisy chains and connected like cat's cradle, and thinking of one makes you remember the other or the other three and the one that looks like the black queen, that's a little guant and likened to the Grim Reaper from the side, especially) - - you try to think of cheerful things - - bright gum wrappers kept folded in your lap; the round face of a boy, smiling; the warm weight of a man's hand in your own. You try to fix them in your mind, hold them there, invite them round for tea. Grass swaying. Slices of oranges arranged neatly on a saucer. Daisy chains.


Dark things filter in instead, slip through the cracks in the doorways, seep from shadows along the walls - - plates thick with dust; enameled smiles that catch skin and candlelight between their teeth, swallow them whole; the broken-glass angle of a raven's beak as it opens wide.

('why is a raven like a writing desk?')

You wake up sometimes with a voice in your ears that sounds like birds cawing and drawers being snapped shut (which might also be the sound of your bones breaking or your nerves screaming or your own voice gone red, you can't often distinguish), with the black queen at your bedside with a smile like a guillotine and shadows in her cheekbones and a sliver of wood in her hand.

On her lips is a question like the riddles from your nightmares and the pages of children's picture books emptied out.

And it's not quite the right question, the one you think you hear, but it's close in answer if not phrasing. You've misplaced the original at some point, like the cradle you think you bought or the ring you used to wear or the color from your scalp. You don't know the answer anyway, and you tell her this and she flicks her wand and you shriek until her smile grows so big she disappears behind it and you fall into the ceiling, which is a little like a rabbit's den, but only a little because it isn't the right shade of earth at all and it's not the sort of wonderland you can extricate yourself from.