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The Clue In The Cauldron, Chapter 19: Following the Line - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The Clue In The Cauldron, Chapter 19: Following the Line
James spotted a set of odd glittering things along the lake, but he and his friends didn't follow right away, because they wanted more information from London. James sends Lily to gather it. She meets up with Teddy, and they search for clues in the Leaky Cauldron and the Boyler. In the latter, they find a hidden compartment, which Lily says has things in it.

Apparently, James is a little impatient, because....



Chapter 19:
Following the Line


The Cloak was not, in Al's opinion, a great way to hide a broomstick. Sure, anyone who was looking at them head on wouldn't see them, but people looking up would have a pretty good chance. And, when flying, people looking up would be in the majority.

Still, he was glad James had asked him to come along with it. It had been a perfectly normal request to use one of his things, not an attitude of "Well, I gave you the Cloak, but now I need it back, so..." He'd just told Al what he meant to do, and said that it would be easier with the Cloak, "if you don't mind using it for this." Al had slipped it into his book bag, and the pair of them had drifted away from lunch, boarded James's broom, and covered themselves up. Or rather, Al had covered them up. With his Invisibility Cloak.

James flew low over the lake, muttering that the mermaids never told, then came up on the far side. There weren't many students out and about, even though it was a sunny Saturday with no Quidditch. The weather was cold and most of the teachers were finishing February with large piles of homework. (Al had his own back in his room, but thought this was more important.)

"Look down," James said. "Do you see anything glinting in the sun?"

At first, Al didn't, but as they passed over a rocky spot, a sunburst flared up. "There!"

James nodded. He raised his right arm and pointed at another. "There's another!"

"They're going toward the Forest."

"That's what I thought during the game," James said. "This is the first really sunny day since, that's why I haven't been able to find them from practice..."

"They look new."

"Yeah," James said, and swerved the broomstick along the line that the two sunbursts were on. Now, Al could see a slight depression in the grass. They followed it to the eaves of the forest, then James landed and said, "Can't see from above in the forest."

Al disentangled them from the Cloak, then slipped off the broom.

James came into view, walking away.

"Don't you want to stay under it?" Al asked.

"I don't think we need to in here," James said. "No one in the castle can see us."

"Things in the Forest can!"

"Keep it handy," James said. "But it's faster moving without it."

Feeling a little disappointed, Al took the Cloak off and put it in his bag. James was now down on the ground, his nose pressed almost to the dirt.

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to find that little line we were following," James said. "Can you see it?"

Al looked toward the light at the edge of the trees, and saw a vaguely shorter bit of grass growing. He went to the spot and followed along in that direction. Knowing it was there, he could see a bit of scraped moss on a rock, a little sinking in the ferns. "There," he said.

James nodded and joined him.

They didn't talk much as they followed along. About a mile into the Forest, the path disappeared entirely at the top of a grassy hill that rose amid the trees.

James went to the top and looked around, but shook his head. "We lost it," he said. "Unless you can see something?"

Al climbed up to join him, looked around, and shrugged. "Nothing."

"Great." James sighed. "Well, at least we're further in for the Map." He drew the Marauder's Map from his book bag, opened it with Moony's wand (which was the only way to open it into the Marauders' view), then switched to his own and said, "Reficio." Al watched as lines rearranged themselves here and there, and the path along the side of the lake and into the Forest formed. They were standing on a newly drawn blank spot in the vaguely scribbled area of the Forbidden Forest, quite a long way from the school, and almost to the wall.

"Well, it's a good place to come, anyway," Al said. "We could have fireworks here, since they'll be watching where the roundhouse is."

"Good idea." James bit his lip. "I really thought it would lead somewhere. We should look around more, bring the others, have a dig. Something could be buried." He stopped, his face rather pale, and it occurred to Al that he was thinking Silas could very well be buried somewhere. Neither of them said it.

Discouraged, James got back on his broomstick, Al covered them both with the Cloak, and they flew back to the castle.

They'd planned to go out again the next day, but March was intent on coming in like a lion, and storm clouds blotted out the sky and let loose with a torrent of cold, miserable rain. Al didn't even quite dare send Uncle Ron's birthday card, for fear that Nyx would be blown off course. He waited until the next day to send it--it would still get there by Thursday--but the lessening of the wind didn't make it any more possible to go out and dig in the Forest. The storm had blown in more cold weather, and the mud was frozen into little abstract statues. A few more years in Charms might have made it possible to dig, but Al had no idea how to go about it at the moment.

Monday morning, James's owl, Lucia, arrived at breakfast, carrying a large brown parcel. It was addressed to James in Lily's handwriting.

"Is it your birthday?" Robert asked. "I didn't think it was, I didn't get anything--"

James shook his head. "My birthday was in October, remember?"

"Oh, right."

He pulled the letter off the package, read it, then handed it to Al.

Dear James,
I took Teddy with me, which was a mistake, since he made me give everything to Daddy!

Well, the originals. Daddy and Teddy made duplicates of everything and said that you could look at them, and see if you could solve anything even though I'm the one who found it. He said that you should show Rosie, too, since there's a foreign language. It was all in a hole behind the wall that I saw because of a charm Teddy did on my glasses--I was wearing a disguise--and it was pushed way back, so no one would accidentally see it.

It was very exciting! I saw the lines in the wall, and there was a box, and a lot of little books and ledgers and things.

I didn't see much at the Cauldron, but when I looked at the box with the special glasses, the part that had the little silver thing on it, like on Silas's trunk--it looked like there was a little line in the middle of the silver. Daddy says it has some magical leftover in it, but he thinks it was the charm that was stealing things. I said Charms don't leave lines, and he said it might have been worked into the silver itself. I said it looked like something was on the silver, and he said that's just how it would look. But he said I was smart to see it, and he's going to work on it in the Auror office.

So here are all the copies of everything I saw.

Love,


P.S.: Tell Al Teddy will make the same Charm for his specs if he wants, and he should want it, because it's an awfully nice Charm. Daddy asked for it, too.


James was rifling through the items in the box. Decisively, he closed it, then stood up on the bench and waved toward the Ravenclaw table. "Rosie!" he called. "Rosie Weasley!"

Rosie's head popped up from the midst of group students working together--one of them was Scops Malfoy--and she waved impatiently. A moment later, she had extricated herself and come over.

"What is it?"

"Things to look at," James said. "Lily found them at the Boyler. Come on." He picked up the box and nodded to his dormitory mates and Al. He led them to the antechamber where Al had met his year-mates in what seemed some impossibly ancient time. He put the box down on the table, and proceeded to pull things out of it.

"These are duplicates," he said. "But that's all right, I don't know how to follow trace magic anyway." He grimaced at this shortcoming. "I've got ledgers here. A debt. And then there's this." He handed Rosie a leather-bound book.

She took it. "If this is a true duplicate, then it's not actually an old book. It's a new book made to look like an old book." She opened it. "Look, the pages are too crisp."

James nodded. "And the language?"

"Fake Irish in runes again, I think," Rosie said. "I think it must be what Silas saw."

"So, what do we do?" Michael asked.

Ahmed took the ledgers. "I'll try to figure out who owes what to whom. Though I'll bet the Aurors will figure it out before I do."

"What about that place in the woods?" Robert asked.

"The Forest?" Rosie looked up. "What did you find in the Forest?"

James briefly told her, and she shook her head dismissively. "I'll try to work out what this says. I asked Mum for Irish dictionaries and grammars for Christmas, and I've a good one now, and I'm learning, but I need to work it out from the runes and figure in the bad grammar and wrong words."

"Good," James said. "And we'll all go have a dig in that hill as soon as the ground thaws a little and the rain stops."

Unfortunately, by the time the alternating rain and freezes stopped a week and half later, James had managed to catch a monster of a cold, and the Pepper-Up potion wasn't doing much for it. Al offered to lead the way out, but the others weren't quite ready to follow him. Instead, they spent the middle of March bringing James his homework and listening to some fairly delirious theories of the crime.

Al used the time to catch on his school work. How Rosie was learning a new language at the same time she was keeping up the top marks in the year was beyond him. On Saturday the seventeenth, while James was feeling enough better to tackle a History of Magic essay on his own, Al went up to Ravenclaw with her to work on a Charms assignment. She'd already got it, and it didn't take as long as he expected to catch on himself. Lazily, he stretched out on the blue and bronze tiles of the Ravenclaw balcony and lazily Levitated as many items as he could.

"That's not bad," Rosie said. "My record's fourteen."

Al currently had nine in the air, so he didn't feel particularly complimented by this. "Have you got anywhere with the book?" he asked.

Rosie sat down on a bench and turned to look out over the grounds. "Yes, I have. And I'm going to send my translations to Dad as well."

Al frowned as impressively as he could, but she wasn't looking, so she didn't notice. "Why?" he asked.

She looked over her shoulder at him. "Because someone's been kidnapped and could be killed, if he hasn't been already. Everyone should know what everyone else is doing, in case something someone is doing is what gets him found."

"Oh."

She sighed. "From what I can make out--and my Irish isn't very good, and reading bad Irish isn't easy--it's the story of how Brian Boru tamed the pooka. He took three hairs from the tail and made them into a set of reins, and he used them to ride it, and ever since then, it's been loyal to his descendants, when they're defending Ireland from something. Or something."

"So, the Boyles are descendants?"

"It's an island, smaller than this one. Sooner or later, everyone's related to everyone, especially in the wizarding world."

"Unless the line died out!"

"He had at least nine children--six sons, three daughters. And he was a king." She adopted a worldly sort of face and added, "And you know, kings don't generally just stay at home."

"All right..."

"So, sooner or later, everyone marries everyone, and everyone's related to everyone somehow. So anyone can probably call it. Does Ahmed know who the debts were to?"

"No."

She nodded. "I didn't guess he would. I think... I think they're to the pooka in the first place, so they wouldn't be written."

"But if it's loyal to the descendants--"

"This book says it is. But it's got a lot of details wrong."

Al came over and sat beside her, looking out at the somewhat alien view of the grounds that could be glimpsed from this side of the castle. He pointed toward the path he and James had found. "That's where we went," he said. "James thinks that somehow, the pooka got Silas off the grounds that way. Through the ground, maybe."

Rosie shook her head. "If there were any more secret ways on and off the grounds that humans could use--or be dragged through--I think Voldemort would have found them to get more Death Eaters in earlier."

"I think you respect him too much."

"He wasn't stupid," Rosie said crossly. "I don't have to think he was wonderful to think he wasn't stupid. Everyone knows he was smart."

"But being smart doesn't mean you think of everything."

She ground her teeth. "I still think he'd have found it. They looked for other ways in a couple of years ago, when they found a body here. Someone would know."

"Unless it only works for a pooka."

"They'd have found the magic trace." She peered out across the grounds. "Al, I don't think Silas was ever taken off the grounds."

"But it's been months."

"I know." She turned. "And we both know what that might mean. So does James. So do the others. We'd have found a way to dig in that hill by now if we didn't all know what might be there."

Al didn't answer. He just looked toward the forest, toward the place where he knew the hill was, and tried not to think about it.

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Comments
amamama From: amamama Date: May 7th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Oki-doki... Respecting Vodemort doesn't mean worshipping him, Al. And this mound in the Forest - please don't let ie be a burial mound. But if that's where the tracks disappear to, then - is the mound what they lead to? A magic scan sounds good. And I love all Lily found - and Rosie's resoning for passing this on to the aurors. Except I don't want it to be that bad, I want Silas to be found. But we're approaching the end of the school year, it's mid-March, so there are three more months to go before they solve the mystery. If you follow Rowling's school year rythm, that is.

Anyhow, as wonderful as always. Cheers!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 7th, 2010 07:18 am (UTC) (Link)
For the first time in several school year novels, I'm not sure I can actually stretch it out 'til June!
From: severely_lupine Date: May 7th, 2010 07:26 am (UTC) (Link)
They found a body? Was that something you already wrote?

I don't know that I entirely buy into the idea that Harry would give his 11-year-olds such a powerful and unique item as the cloak. Sure, he got it when he was 11, but there wasn't a great deal of choice there. And you'd think that, being an Auror, it could come in handy in his job.

I also find it rather sad that Teddy would part with Remus's wand, even if it is the only way to fully make use of the map...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 7th, 2010 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)
They found a body? Was that something you already wrote?

Nope, that's next up. Wondered if anyone would notice that. :D

I don't know. I just had the impression that he'd give the Cloak onward when it was time for the kids to go off into the world. He can use a lesser cloak at work.

I attached the wand to the Map so that it would always be part of the Hogwarts experience. Though I think it would wrench Teddy a lot to let go.

Edited at 2010-05-07 07:34 am (UTC)
From: severely_lupine Date: May 7th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nope, that's next up.

I thought it sounded like it might have been referring to Teddy's seventh year. Yay! XD
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: May 7th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's what I thought when I read that line, too!! Hurrah. :)
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 7th, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Always interesting to see how the younger generation views those who came before. I can see how intellectual Rosie might develop a certain respect for Voldemort's intelligence in the abstract; it actually wouldn't surprise me if Hermione had done the same, once the war was far enough in the past.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: May 7th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
That Rosie is a smart girl, very much like her mother, although I swear I can detect bits of Ron there, too. So, what body was found a couple of years ago? I'm really starting to worry about Silas -- it has been months!
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 7th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, the Prince in the story was held _prisoner_, so I'm going to vote for Silus being alive and well.

I'm also guessing that the old woman who came to collect her debts wasn't an old woman but an Irish shapechanger.

I guess the real question is the nature of the debt - or debts. I'm guessing the grandfather used the Pooka and that he and his descendents are now liable for the cost.

I guess the real question is whether the items being chosen were paying off the family's debt or if this somehow goes back to the original debt when the pooka was first bound.

Other than that, while I appreciate that he may have good reason to be scared, Silas' uncle is definitely withholding important information that could help his nephew to protect himself.

Ellen
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: May 28th, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that Rosie has more sense than the previous generation in that she trusts the adults in her life. OF course, she is also surrounded by more trustworthy adults . . . ;)
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