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The Clue In The Cauldron, Chapter 9: Ravenclaw Rosie - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Clue In The Cauldron, Chapter 9: Ravenclaw Rosie
James (under cover of the Invisibility Cloak) followed Ron and Ruthless out as they arrested Silas's uncle Ronan for the thefts. Ronan insists that, though he stole things (to cover for his grandfather, who'd broken some wizarding laws during the Irish Troubles), he has no idea whatsoever what happened to Silas and his father, and begs the Aurors to help. The Aurors are skeptical. James returns to his dormitory, where his roommates, Al, and Celia are gathered. He gives them the news, and Michael asks what they are going to do about it.

Chapter 9:
Ravenclaw Rosie

"Why are we going through Si's things?" Michael Prince asked. "Isn't he the one it happened to, not the one who did anything?"

"What do you mean?" James asked, looking at some of the new school books Teddy had sent and discarding them impatiently. "How can we figure out what happened to him if we don't know what was going on with him?"

Al, who'd been assigned Si's toad cage, couldn't see much use in James's approach, but didn't say anything. James generally had good reasons for doing odd things like this.

"He didn't keep a diary, did he?" Celia asked.

"No, Celia," Ahmed said. "Silas is a boy, actually."

"Fine, call it a bloody journal if it makes you feel more manly. Did he keep one?"

"No journal," Bobby said, flipping through rubbish that had already managed to accrue in Silas's nightstand. "I have his class schedule here."

"He has the same class schedule we do," Michael protested (he was in a particularly ill temper, as James had set him to the dirty laundry). "What good is that?"

Bobby squinted at it. "Anyone know why he's meeting with Aimee Weasley after lunch on Wednesday? It's got an A.W."

"Let me see that." James sat up straight and took the schedule and muttered, "She'd best be tutoring him. I don't want to hear one more thing about my friends and my cousins."

"Grow up," Celia said, rolling her eyes.

James raised his wand and said, "Expecto Patronum." Nothing happened, which was hardly a surprise, as James was a second year, and so far, only Dad and Teddy had got it before fourth (Teddy, who was a really good teacher, had taught all of his friends the year after he learned it, and he'd promised to teach it to James and Al later). James made a face and said, "I really have to learn that spell. Celia, could you go get Aimee?"

"Do it yourself."

"Hexed staircase."


James considered this, then shook his head. "The stairwells are too narrow to maneuver in."

"Oh, fine." Celia jumped off Michael's trunk, where she'd been casually perusing Si's homework, and sauntered away.

Al snatched up the homework, as he really didn't think Oompa Loompa the toad had any valuable insights. "Is Si taking ancient runes?" he asked.

"It's not an elective until next year," James said.

Al turned a piece of parchment around. "Well, he's got runes all over his notes."

"Maybe he just likes the look of them," Michael suggested.

"Or maybe he was trying to figure something out."

There was a tapping of feet on the stairs outside, then Celia came back in, Aimee in tow. Aimee looked at the mess with a rather Victoire-like expression, then shook it off and said, "What is it? I don't even know Silas."

James handed her the schedule.

She looked at it for a long time, shaking her head. "I don't know... hey, wait! That's not an 'A'. Look!" She held it up. Silas's block lettering was quite sloppy, and at first Al didn't see what she was pointing at. When he looked closer, he could see that the right side of what he'd taken for an A was actually bent in, and what he'd taken for a crossbar on it was really just a hastily drawn connection.

"It's an 'R'--Rosie!!"

"Our Rosie? Ravenclaw Rosie?"

"Sure. Of course." Al handed James the schedule back. "She started breaking into Aunt Hermione's rune books when she was seven. Remember? She wanted to put them all over the fort."

"You had a fort?" Bobby said drolly.

"We had the best fort in London," James said with finality, cutting off potential teasing without even trying. "And Al's right. At first, Rosie was mad for making it a longhouse, then she wanted to cover it up with runes and make it a charmed castle. I told her I didn't want her writing anything on the walls unless she knew what it meant."

"Right, and she found out," Al said. "She was trying to get Artie and me to use it as a secret code last year."

"It's not very secret," Michael said. "Lots of people can read runes."

"Including her own mother," James said. "But can any of you read them?"

No one answered.

James looked at Al. "What do you say? We haven't had a good chat with Rosie since she sauntered off to Ravenclaw. Shall we have a family reunion?"

"Does everyone need to come?" Aimee asked. "Because I have a lot of homework, and Marie's got a date--don't tell Dad--and Victoire is probably practicing saying, 'Hello, I'm Vicki Lupin' to her mirror..." She shuddered. "Is anyone else a bit...?" She shuddered again.

"Grow up," James told her. "And no, just Al and me."

Despite Aimee's protestations of not wanting to go, she looked a bit miffed at her exclusion. Al considered inviting her, but James tipped the Map in his direction, and Al realized that they'd be using it and Aimee didn't know what it was.

James got everyone settled into tasks, sent Celia and Aimee back to the girls dormitories (they were now muttering conspiratorially), and then led Al to the portrait hole. "It's past curfew," he said. "Do you think Rosie will turn us in?"

"Not in a million years," Al said. "But how are we going to get into Ravenclaw without telling someone else?"

"The doorknocker asks a question," James said. "We'll just answer it."

"And no one will see us?"

James pulled up the corner of the Invisibility Cloak from his bag, and shook his head in a hopeless way. "Really, Al," he said, and led the way outside.

They checked the Map first, and decided they wouldn't need to huddled under the Cloak until they actually got to Ravenclaw Tower. The teachers were meeting up in the Headmistress's office, Filch and Mr. Norris were patrolling outside Slytherin, and the ghosts seemed to be having a gathering of some sort in the dungeons. Al wondered if it was someone's Deathday Party.

They turned a corner on the seventh floor, and James pointed at the mural on the wall. "That's Dean's," he said. "The boggart changes into whatever scares you."

"I remember. We came up here and found the Room of Requirement that summer."

"Oh, right. That's what I wanted to tell you. It's over there," he said, pointing to a blank wall. "We don't need it now."

"No kidding. Unless it would give us Silas."

"It doesn't bring people."

"Right." Al looked at the disappointingly blank wall, and couldn't think what he needed enough to make the room show it. He wondered if there were any secret places left at Hogwarts after all the rebuilding. It somehow didn't seem fair that everyone knew about everything. They turned again and came on a staircase that led up to Ravenclaw tower, and James put the Cloak around them.

"Make sure your feet don't show," he said. "I always trip over it. It's too long. It's better if you sort of push out the front with your hands."

Al agreed, and, in this manner, they made their way to the Ravenclaw door knocker.

"We'd like to come in," James said.

The doorknocker frowned at them, then said, "What is the paradox of devotion to singular interests versus devotion to the greater good?"

"Is there a right answer, or just what we think?" Al asked.

"I think you just have to make it think," James told him.

"What is--" the doorknocker began, but James interrupted it.

"I think," he said, "that the paradox is, when you're willing to sacrifice the singular interests--like people you love, right?--in favor of the greater good, the greater good falls apart, because it's not in anybody's greater good not to care."

"And yet, in the case of a war, many such sacrifices are made."

James ground his teeth. This seemed very loud under the Cloak.

Al piped up. "But that's people saying they're going to sacrifice themselves, not other people. It would be one thing for me to say, 'I'll trade my life for something' and something else completely for me to say, 'I'll trade my sister Lily for that.'"

"Interesting. But how would you characterize the responsibilities of the leader in such a combat?"

"Can we just go in?" James asked. "That's three questions now."

The doorknocker looked at him impassively.

"Oh, fine," James said, sounding particularly like Celia. "Leaders have to make hard choices, but good ones only make that sort of choice when there's no other choice left. Bad ones just throw their people out there and try to start trouble, and that makes the good ones answer it, and everyone ends up getting hurt. That's wasteful."

"Hmm," the doorknocker said, then the door opened. Al wondered if Rosie had to go through that every time she wanted to have a kip between classes, or if the doorknocker saved its irritating questions for outsiders. He definitely liked the Fat Lady's passwords better.

James shook his head and led Al inside. Luckily, none of the Ravenclaws in their Common Room had been looking at the door.

Carefully avoiding contact with anything--James had apparently got quite good with the Cloak last year--they made their way to a corner. James pulled out the Marauder's Map and whispered, as softly as he could, "I solemnly swear I'm up to no good."

Al looked around anxiously, but no one stirred.

James tapped his shoulder and pointed at the Map. It showed Rosie beyond the outer wall, on what seemed to be a balcony. She was alone.

Al nodded.

They went out through a high glass door.

Rosie was sitting alone on the low balcony wall. She was wearing her pajamas (bright orange Chudley Canons decorations that clashed even with her muted shade of red hair) and writing thoughtfully on a long scroll.

She looked up, and leveled her wand.

"I see the leaves moving," she hissed, pointing at some dead leaves on the balcony floor. "Show yourself."

"It's just us," James said, opening the front of the Cloak.

Rosie let out a stream of words that Al didn't imagine she'd found in her mother's rune books (though some of them did have a vaguely Bulgarian sound that she might have got from her pen pal, Minka Krum), then pulled them over into a dark corner, shut the door, and said, "How in bloody hell did you get in here?"

"I answered a lot of really annoying questions," James said. "This is really what you like?"

"You made it past the doorknocker?"

"Shockingly enough, not being in Ravenclaw doesn't mean we don't have brains." James pulled out Silas's schedule. "Is this you?" he asked, pointing at the "R.W."

Rosie looked at it. "Well... yes. I told him I'd meet him. I saw him doodling runes, and I asked what they were--they were upside down--and he said he didn't know, and I told him a few when he showed me, and then he asked if we could meet and talk about them. Does this have anything to do with... you know?"

"It might," James said, and repeated the story he'd told back in his dormitory, that he'd overheard.

"Dad was here?" Rosie asked. "Hmph. He could have said hello."

"He was here to arrest someone," Al said.

She sighed. "I guess."

"So, what do the runes say?"

"I don't know," Rosie said. "I don't speak Irish."

"But you told him what the runes were!"

"I know the alphabet, not the language!"

"Oh," James said, disappointed.

"But," Rosie said, "he did write a few sentences down for me. I can work on getting them translated."

"But if you don't know the language..."

Rosie turned toward the door to the Common Room, her face glowing. "You should see the dictionaries in here. They're brilliant. There's old Irish, and Latin, and... oh, dozens of them. And a book that helps you figure out exactly which one you need. And--"

"We get the point. Why isn't this in the library?" Al asked.

"They were presents from Ravenclaws to Ravenclaws," Rosie said. "Who else would be interested?"

"A pair of Gryffindors, just now," James said.

"Oh, right." Rosie bit her lip. "The notes he gave me are upstairs. Now I wish I'd thought to give them to the Aurors, I just didn't think his doodling had anything to do with it."

"We can figure it out," James said. "I bet we find them, and they're all right, and--"

Rosie frowned. "James, this isn't you trying to get glory for yourself is it?"

"This is me trying to find one of my friends," James said.

Rosie looked skeptical, but went along with them anyway.


16 comments or Leave a comment
amamama From: amamama Date: March 31st, 2010 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)
"James, this isn't you trying to get glory for yourself is it?" *sniggers* Those siblingesque cousins... I love them. No, James is just too intrigued by the mystery and wants to solve it to find his friend. *g*

Great chapter, Fern. Love how we see things that are seemingly unimportant, but then maybe not. I do hope that Teddy et al have been looking at Silas' rune scribblings and wondering what they mean too, though. If not, I think I'll be rather disappointed in young Lupin. *g* Which is part of the fun of reading a story I guess.

Thanks for sharing, and a very Happy Easter to you!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 31st, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think Teddy even has the scribbles to find.

James has all sorts of motivations, but I think the primary one is to solve the mystery and find Silas.
sidealong From: sidealong Date: March 31st, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks for the chapter!

Loved the Chudley Cannons PJ's. Seems like a balcony would certainly encourage broom rides from the tower.

Now where did Silas get the Runes from...

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 31st, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thanks for the chapter!

I have no idea if it was even possible for Ravenclaw to canonically have a balcony, but I put it there for Teddy to fly to when he turned into a hawk, and it seemed easier than having to corner Rose among her dormitory mates.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: March 31st, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rosie swears? How that must irritate Hermione. (Must remember this one for the next fic call.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 31st, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I dropped that in a couple of chapters ago, and I kind of like the idea that Rosie is a lot like Ron in some ways.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 31st, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Given that wizarding swears are a bit different than Muggle ones, I can't help wondering what Rose said . . . .

That aside, I like the perfectly reasonable grounds Rose had for holding onto evidence (I was watching a mystery the other night, and the amateur sleuths didn't even try to explain why they weren't passing actual, physical evidence onto the police [although I did turn it on partway through and might have missed something]). I mean, doodles? It's perfectly reasonable for an eleven year old not to pass along doodles, even if the eleven year old later thinks they might be significant because of what an imaginative twelve year old said.

While I think Teddy is smart enough to pay attention if they're pointed out to him, he's likely to overlook them.

1) The significant stuff may all be with Rose

2) Silas didn't know what they meant and had some upside down. It's likely any doodles Teddy sees don't look sensible.

3) Add to this the runes are being used for Irish (maybe an old/obscure variety) and it will look even less sensible, since that's not the language normally associated with runes (if I wrote a few, random words in Chinese using the Russian alphabet, someone who knew Russian as a second language would likely see it as nonsense, especially after just a casual glance. Add in the fact that it's written by someone who didn't really know the runes in the first place and was more likely to write the runes wrong - and wrong in the ways that just scream "doesn't have a clue what runes mean" - and Teddy's fairly likely to glance at them and dismiss them.

4) Also, Teddy's just starting "official" work, is making an effort to separate from his school life (like not admitting he knows about the Marauders' Map), is also probably trying to be professional and keep his family life and the investigation separate, and Silas' is the victim and not the suspect.

5) And he's probably in that head over heels stage of being in love where mental faculties sometimes go on the blink (I've seen it happen to normally very intelligent, observant people and the change can be downright scary).

6) Back on the language front, the person using the runes might have had only a haphazard knowledge of them - they could, for example, have been written by a semiliterate person from the Middle Ages who'd made up a few of his usages (nothing too tricky, since Rose has to decipher it, but still something to make it easier for Teddy to discount them).

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 31st, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's probably a pidgen Irish, on top of it, written by someone trying to act like he knows more than he really does. There certainly would have been runes in Ireland (how many times did the Vikings drop by for tea?), and there was an Irish language, so hey, I know--write Irish in runes! It'll be totally magical, because the alphabet and the language are magical!


Of course, it probably comes in handy for Rose that she meant to use it as a Sooper Sekrit Code for writing in English, because she's not too wedded to the idea of proper use just yet, and that's most likely how she got to the idea that it's in Irish anyway.

I think Rose has all the rune stuff, so there's nothing for Teddy to notice (I'm doing my best to keep him at arm's length, though I love him so that I can't quite play total keep-away).
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 1st, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never been sure that the ancient runes Hermione studied were the Viking/closely related group kind. The rune numbers she showed on her site definitely weren't, but I'm not sure about the two words Hermione mentioned after her OWL. If they were from a real language, I wasn't making the connection (which isn't saying much, my language learning skills usually burn out fast [I WISH I was like Rose!]. Although, if I've got any talent there at all, it shows up in the "well, it LOOKS like [fill in the blank name of language]" category).

Of course, that raises all sorts of questions on the origin and use of wizard runes, especially since most of their spells seem Latin based.

Then again, wizards had contact with languages Muggles usually didn't (Mermish, Gobbledegook, Troll, and possibly others). The development of a pidgen or creole using elements of that and with its own writing system (possibly borrowing from ones used by the other races) wouldn't be unlikely.

The main questions are how that language was used and what its history with Latin spellcasting is.

I can't help thinking of the recent book Spellwright where all magic is based on writing systems with different languages used for different spells (and woe to the wizard who is dyslexic). Also, Wrede's Marelon books, where wizards can't cast controlable magic using their native tongue (and reference is made to how different languages change the nuances of a spell).

Also, the charter magic of Nix's Old Kingdom books, where charter marks seem to represent an infinite language and must be properly ordered and linked for their magic to work.

Although why I expect everyone to obsess over minutiae to this extent may be another mystery.

My guess in this story is that a wizard or witch back from the days when there wasn't an organized schooling system had very little training from other wizards and made up a lot of what he or she did from scratch. She or he had learned something of runes and made use of them but in nonstandard, possibly unique, ways.

In that context, the mysteries of the history of runes don't really have anything to do with the story (nor does it really matter whether they're Viking runes or not unless you want to draw them somewhere or have Rose go into overly detailed language discussions).

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 1st, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Deleted dupe.)

Hmm, I didn't look too closely at the ancient runes; I just figured there were old histories written in runes that the kids had to learn to read from!
willowbough From: willowbough Date: March 31st, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love the Ravenclaw doorknocker--so many comic opportunities here for the mining. And nice to see this isn't going to be a Gryffindors-only adventure, now that Rosie's involved.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 31st, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I still feel guilty about forgetting her on the train...

That doorknocker slayed me. Not up there with the level of the Map or the Room of Requirement, but on par with Phineas Nigellus's portrait for amusement factors.
From: severely_lupine Date: April 1st, 2010 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know, I wouldn't be surprised if there were still some secrets left at Hogwarts. The Marauders seem to have missed the Room of Requirement, the Weasley twins seemed mostly to just use the map, and the trio were never out actively looking for the secrets. If the castle can hide a giant cavern for decades (or centuries), I imagine it might manage a few more secrets.

Goodness, it's a wonder the Ravenclaws aren't forever late everywhere.

Have you mentioned Minka Krum before? I've had a Minka Krum in my notes for a couple years now, except she was Krum's granddaughter. Then again, I suppose there aren't that many Bulgarian names that are easy to spell, pronounce, and sound good.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 1st, 2010 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope, this is my first Minka mention. I whipped open my trusty characters-of-differing-backgrounds name book and actually pulled it out of the Polish section, since there isn't a Bulgarian section and I happened on it before I got to the Russians. And yeah--easy to spell, pronounce, and remember. ;p

I expect there are still secrets, too, and really hope James will stumble across one, but... I'm not sure where any of this is going! (Hence, the lightning speed.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 2nd, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Love Ravenclaw Rosie

Can there possibly be a sequel to this Hardy boys style adventure?
A Nancy Drew style adventure featuring Ravenclaw Rosie (and maybe her sidekick Minka Krum who arrives as part of the Bulgarian contingent for the TWZ cup - or Rosie goes to Bulgaria - whatever u prefer)
There are so few good stories with strong believable female characters...

Ooh...also on a more girly note...the possibilities... I wonder if Minka thinks Al's cute ;) Or perhaps she like her father likes bushy haired ppl - Hugo maybe?
under_crisis From: under_crisis Date: April 3rd, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Love Ravenclaw Rosie

whoa, have we got a girl for hugo yet? minka is a good possibility ;)

- from a jane/al loyalist :D
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