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The Clue In The Cauldron, Chapter 6: A Pile of Mysteries - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Clue In The Cauldron, Chapter 6: A Pile of Mysteries
Some speed-writing, skipping four days. :eyeroll:

Full moon date for September 2017 fudged by a couple of days, because I feel like it. (It should have been on the sixth. But given that the first was on a Friday rather than a Monday, I don't feel too terribly guilty about this discrepancy.

Chapter 6: A Pile of Mysteries

"Wait, wait!" The girl with the long brown braid down her back brushed made an irritated gesture and turned her broomstick around toward James. She flew over. "Didn't you just finish trying for Beater?"

"I was going to try for all three. See which you like me in."

"If I like you in any of them!" She shook her head in disbelief. "Well, there's no rule against it, but you're going to be exhausted by the time I try you for Seeker. Don't expect any special treatment."

James feigned shock. "Come on, Abby, I never ask for special treatment!"

Abby Ryan glowered at him. "Fine. We'll start up again. Here's a Quaffle." She shoved it into his hand. "See how many you can get by Celia. If any." She flew away.

James bounced the Quaffle easily on his hand and spun it on his finger (Mum told him that looking comfortable and assured was a good way to make the other team nervous), then turned his broom toward the goal. Celia Dean was there, and even though it was only a day after transformation, she looked completely all right. He wasn't sure if that was because there'd been improvements in the Wolfsbane Potion or because Mum had coached her over the summer as well. Either way, it didn't look like easy goals were in the cards.

He looked to the other two people trying out with him--Ahmed Elbaz on his right, and a third year girl named Cecily De Graff on his left--and nodded, then jabbed the Quaffle toward Ahmed and flew ahead in an easy attack pattern. Ahmed, who watched Quidditch fanatically, recognized it and tried to shoot back, but didn't have a very good arm. It fell short. James spiraled down to catch it, hoping that Abby wouldn't notice that it had been mis-thrown. Belvina Adams, the sole remaining team Beater, flew at him, so as soon as he caught it, he lobbed it over to Cecily. She missed.

He took another dive for the Quaffle, catching it just before it it the ground, and scooped it skyward again, looking for someone to pass it to. Ahmed was clear, and James managed to get it to him, but Belvina was already flying at him. She swung her bat at a Bludger and aimed it directly at Ahmed.

James flew up between Ahmed and the Bludger and tried to distract it.

Ahmed flew by, making a run at the goal. Celia deflect the Quaffle easily, aiming for Abby, who was pretending to be an opposing Chaser.

James spun and ducked the Bludger, going for the Quaffle. He snatched it out from under Abby's nose. She looked impressed. He flew it back down the pitch, toward the goal, finally reaching the area where Celia was patrolling.

"Not letting you through, Potter," she said. "So all that bribing me with breakfast this morning was for nothing."

"Damn, and I was going to try that on an opposing team, too." James ducked right. Celia ducked with him. He moved his arm to throw underhanded, and she got in position to block it. Ahmed was moving up. She didn't see him.

James dropped the Quaffle.

Ahmed scooped it out of the air and came around from Celia's other side, slamming it in behind her with a neat little twist. Below, Silas Boyle cheered loudly. James could see Michael Prince down there as well, deviling Aimee Weasley by making the ribbons in her hair stand up and dance, which was making Al laugh crazily, even though he knew Aimee would make him pay for it at holidays. Robert Highgold, who casually loathed Quidditch, was nowhere to be found, but James guessed he'd probably come up from the kitchens with some congratulatory snack later, and--

The Bludger came out of nowhere, clipping the end of Ahmed's broom. Ahmed was thrown violently back. He managed to catch himself, but James caught the dismayed look on his face as he grasped at his nose.

His glasses were falling toward the ground below. The grass might be soft, but it wouldn't do much good falling from this height.

James dove at the tiny glint on the glass, knifing toward the ground. Dad spent a lot of time with all three of them, teaching dives, to the point where they joked that Dad only knew one trick, but it turned out handy--he caught the specs only inches from the ground, and swung back up with them.

Abby had come to Ahmed's side, and she gave James a frustrated sort of look.

He gave Ahmed's specs back. "What?"

"Potter, would you terribly mind only trying for one position at a time?" She grinned. "Never mind the Seeker tryouts, I'll count that. If no one does a better catch, you're Seeker. If you're still planning to try out for that, that is."

"Er... yeah."

"Good. But whatever position I put you in, do you think you'll be able to concentrate and just play that position, or am I going to be dragging you out of everyone's way all the time?"

"James can concentrate when he needs to," Celia said, scowling slightly. Doing this exaggerated her large teeth, which had nothing whatsoever to do with her lycanthropy, but which seemed to discombobulate people she scowled at anyway. (James personally thought she looked deeply ferocious when she did this, but had learned not to make any overt notice of it, since her response to what she called his "mooncalf look" was less than pleasant.)

Abby rolled her eyes and flew away, signaling James, Ahmed, and Cecily to go down to the ground while she tested out the next group of potential Chasers.

"Really, James," Al said when he got there. "Copying Dad?"


"You can't just have a normal Seeker try-out?"

"Well, I meant to."

"And at least he already knows how to play," Silas said helpfully. "He can't help it if Spots' glasses fell off. How are you?"

Ahmed shrugged. "All right, I guess."

"Good." Silas reached into his bag and handed out several Cauldron Cakes (he was rarely without them), then sat down to watch the remainder of the try-outs.

James sat beside him. "How did we look?"

"If you make me commentate that kind of mess, I'm cutting off your Cauldron Cake supply."


"Honestly, Potter, you don't have to play the whole team by yourself."

"That's what Abby said."

Silas shrugged. "Well, one-man Quidditch would certainly be a way to make your own name."


"Do you really think we haven't noticed what you do?" Silas dropped his voice a little, so it wouldn't carry. "No one's expecting you to outdo both of your parents, your uncles, your aunts, your grandparents, and your... whatever Teddy Lupin is."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"What's what supposed to mean?" Michael asked, leading Al over with an arm hooked around his neck. Ahmed, still smarting from his Bludger encounter, limped along behind them. They all sat down.

Silas thought for a minute, then grinned and said, "I was trying to teach James how to swear in old Irish. He hasn't got an ear for it."

"You should try our cousin Rose," Al said. "She'll answer back in Ancient Greek."

"But I wouldn't understand her."

"Yes, you would," James said. "You know when she's swearing, because she looks just like Uncle Ron when she's doing it."

This got a laugh. Rose's affected stuffiness--she was doing her best to behave like her mother wanted her to--was fooling no one. Someone had woken her up in the library and, before she was completely awake, she'd managed to swear herself into the year's first detention, earning herself the year's first Howler from Aunt Hermione.

They watched the rest of the try-outs. To James's disappointment, Abby announced a need to think about the outcome rather than just announcing the outcome. Celia glided down and landed neatly in front of them. She was starting to look a little ragged around the edges, and when she dismounted her broom, she winced as her foot touched the ground.

"Are you--" Michael started, but stopped. Celia didn't care to be asked if she was all right after transformations. Instead, he said, "So, how was France?"

"French," Celia said. "Good food."

"No troubles?" Al asked.

James waited for Celia to turn on him for reminding her of the transformation--he didn't look forward to facing Celia down, but he'd do it if he had to--but instead, she just shrugged. "Nothing we can't handle. I bit my toe."

"What... why?" Ahmed asked.

"You've never bitten your nails?"


"Never mind." She started leading them back to the castle. "Nate Blondin said that your dad"--she looked at James and Al--"was up at Teddy's island, talking about all these things that have been disappearing. They think there's some kind of magic stealing going on."

"And he's asking the Department of Mysteries for help?" Al asked, impressed.

"Well, he's asking Teddy, anyway." Celia brushed her hair up out of her face. "It just doesn't make any sense. It's all very random. Like an accident."

James considered it. He and Al had gone over the letters they'd got, and there were rumors around school of things that were missing. None of the things had anything in common with anything else--candlesticks, mirrors, brooches, books... an odd assortment of junk that wouldn't be any use except as a stash of Portkeys, and really, who would bother stealing things to make Portkeys when you could just use an old shoe or a piece of rubbish?

An accident, though... that would explain a lot. Maybe the Room of Requirement--if he could find it--would show him everything that had disappeared.

Then again, Professor Longbottom had most likely already tried that.

"It's got to be going somewhere," Al said. "So somebody must know. It's not like you just wouldn't notice all that rubbish showing up, and if it did, and you didn't know about it, you'd tell someone, right?"

"Unless you wanted to keep it," Michael said. "Good point."

"So where's it going?" James asked.

"Could be anywhere," Celia said. "Or any time. Maybe that's why your dad has Mysteries on it. Maybe it's slipped through time."

"Teddy says Time's not that easy," James said. "But maybe--hey, maybe it all went back to whenever it was made."

"Or ahead in time to someplace where the thief will meet it," Michael offered as they went inside and started up the stairs.

"Maybe the thief's from past," Ahmed suggested. "It's a Dark Wizard making curses when he knows he'll be caught, and he'll send everything back here, Cursed."

"Let's hope it's not Voldemort making more Horcruxes," Al muttered, so only James would hear.

"Maybe it's not Time. Maybe it's Death," Silas said. "Maybe they're worried that all these things have gone behind that veil." They reached the Fat Lady and he said, "Domus Leoni."

The portrait opened, and they all spilled into Gryffindor Tower, still talking about what James considered quite an interesting line of inquiry. "Perhaps it's all becoming Thought, turning into nothing but ideas, and they've got it in the brain tank."

"That's just weird," Michael said as they started up the stairs to the dormitory (Celia didn't pause before coming along). "It's got to actually be somewhere. But who'd want all that rot? If I were a thief and I made a mistake with a Stealing Spell, I'd bring all the rubbish back and pretend I didn't know anything about how it got there."

James opened the door to the dormitory and let everyone in. He paused at Al, then shrugged, then arched an eyebrow at Celia.

She arched hers in return.

He let her in.

"We should look for secret rooms," Ahmed suggested. "Here at Hogwarts."

"Why would it be at Hogwarts?" Michael asked.

"Everything ends up at Hogwarts," Al said. "Rules to live by."

"Hate to remind you," Celia said, "but they more or less rebuilt the place. They know everywhere now. There are no secrets left."

Silas went to his bed, where his trunk was perched precariously on the edge of the mattress. "There are ways to keep places secret, even from rebuilding. I have a book here that-- Dammit!"

With a thunderous crash, his trunk lost its perch and came crashing to the floor, splitting up one corner seam. The things his parents had Charmed to stay small until he needed them exploded outward--fresh clothes in case he grew, a new tank for his toad in case it grew, a few books from home...

... a pair of candlesticks...

... an old silver mirror....

... a snake-shaped broach...

... an old diary...

The room was silent in the echo of the crash, and Silas was staring, dumbstruck, at what was now all over the floor.

"I didn't..." he started.

But the noise of the crash had brought boys running from all over Gryffindor Tower, and even the girls who were nearby came up.

These included Victoire, her Head Girl badge gleaming on her robes.

She looked at the mess, then held up her hand. "Everyone go back where you belong." She twirled her wand, and her Patronus leapt out and headed for what James guessed was the Headmistress's office.

No one moved. All eyes were on Silas and his broken trunk.


11 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 9th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my! I never expected that...What will happen?
And Celia is awesome.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 9th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
The thingy. The swirly thingy on the side. Yay, I love this story!!
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: March 9th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew it! That silver sign on the front of his trunk HAD to have something to do with the mystery!
willowbough From: willowbough Date: March 9th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yikes, poor Silas! Clearly the culprit's been using his trunk to store things in--but was the sudden reveal deliberate? Awaiting the outcome--to this development and the Quidditch tryouts too.
From: severely_lupine Date: March 9th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, the plot thickens. (Of course, I could say that at the end of every chapter you ever write, but still.)

Is Cecilia in James's year?
malinbe From: malinbe Date: March 9th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, the silver thing! Is it like... a magical magnet that attracts stuff?

Nice quidditch description, by the way, it must be such a pain!
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: March 9th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
James sounds like a Quidditch natutal. I'm sure he'll get a spot on the team. Now poor Silas! The mystery deepens.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 9th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew it i knew it - i just left a comment on the previous chappie that it was the swirly thingy - and here it is XD

insixeighttime From: insixeighttime Date: March 10th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooooh LONG time lurker coming out to say I KNEW it had something to do with that swirly thing! Well, that's a lie, I thought it did with the cufflinks and then convinced myself it didn't when the others going. But ooh exciting!
mcgonagalls_cat From: mcgonagalls_cat Date: March 10th, 2010 08:20 am (UTC) (Link)
So many wonderful concepts... I want each of them to bloom into a whole story!
sidealong From: sidealong Date: March 13th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Great chapter

The quidditch is well done.
So funny James playing all the positions at once.
His friends give us great insight into his character.
Love Celia playing keeper and the conversation clues.
And now you leave us hanging with stuff falling out of the trunk!


Can't wait for the next segments. Yay!
11 comments or Leave a comment