Chapter 5 : Year Four
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One of the things that few students knew about the Headmaster was that he loved to play chess. Jayson knew, because he saw the chess set in the Headmaster’s office one day and challenged him to a game. That first game lasted nearly four hours before Dumbledore finally won when Jayson ran out of pieces. Dumbledore was so impressed that he invited Jayson to play once a week during the time he used to spend in potions class. He was no longer taking the class because, due to a mix up, he had sat for the potions OWL exam last year and received an “O” for it. Snape decided that he did not need a lab assistant, so Jayson suddenly had two hours free twice a week. This led to Jayson having almost the whole of Thursday uncommitted. Therefore, he came in and played chess with Dumbledore instead of spending the entire day in the Library trying to sneak out any Potions book he could from the restricted section. Dumbledore realized that this particular student was special, and not just in potions, so he decided to keep a closer eye on him and chess gave him the opportunity to do so.
The last game took slightly more than two hours to play. In the beginning it looked like Jayson’s head wasn’t in it. Dumbledore wondered and asked if everything was going well. Jayson gave him a look before admitting it wasn’t.
“I am going crazy in Divination. Professor Trelawney’s lessons are not helping me one bit. She goes on and on about ‘seeing with the inner eye’ and reading tea leaves when she’s not predicting someone’s horrifying death. Worse, every time she calls on me to work something, I am getting these flashes of things that happen about ten minutes later. She then tells me I have to ‘expand my vision’, but doesn’t give a clue as to how to do it. I honestly believe she has no clue on how to help me control these things.”
Dumbledore laughed, “Of course, Professor Trelawney’s sight is not quite as active as yours, so I can see why you are frustrated…”
“Mr. Livermore!” Professor Trelawney called.
Jayson shook himself out of his thoughts and brought himself back to the present. “Yes Professor?” He said with a small start.
“I asked if you have anything to tell us today.”
Great, she wants another prediction, and then a thought hit him. “Why yes…everyone in Herbology next period, there’s a pop quiz coming.”
Everybody groaned when Jayson announced that. Suddenly, the bell rang and everyone stood up. Jayson took off like a shot and was out of the classroom before Professor Trelawney could catch him. He took the stairs down two at a time. He wanted to get as far away from that class as he could.
“Hey Livermore! Wanna talk to ya!” A Slytherin yelled out who was also coming down the stairs. Jayson stopped and turned around. He saw two Slytherins approach him.
“Yeah, Pope, what can I do for you?” Jayson inquired.
“I just wanted to thank you for the heads up on Herbology.” Pope replied. “Trelawney’s finally getting to ya, isn’t she?”
“You might say that…”
“You want real instruction on Divination, not that old bat faking it every Tuesday.”
“Okay, where exactly are you going with this?” Jayson asked.
“Well, we know where the real training can be found for those of you with the sight.”
“Really, and where might that be?”
“The Centaurs, of course…they live their whole life looking at the cosmos. I bet they have what you’re looking for.”
“Centaurs? Where am I going to find Centaurs around here?”
“Why in the forest.” Pope replied. The second Slytherin nodded in agreement. “If you want the real thing, you gotta go see them.”
Jayson stared at them for a minute. It wasn’t like Pope or any of the Slytherins to be nice to anyone outside of their own House. Still, if this was true.
“Thanks, Pope.” Jayson said as he headed for the Library. As Jayson departed, the second Slytherin, whose name was Martin started laughing.
“We’ve got him now.” He said to Pope.
“Yeah, golden boy is gonna get into it deep this time.” Pope replied.
When Jayson arrived at the Library, he went immediately to Madame Pince and asked if there were Centaurs in the Forest. Madame Pince confirmed their presence there and told them that they were well known for their ability to foresee the future. This got Jayson thinking and he immediately began to look up volumes on the subject. He read of the great Centaur Chiron and how the clan was indeed well versed in the arts of Divination. He made a decision right then that he would seek out those who could help them.
It wasn’t too difficult to get past Filch or the Prefects on patrol. Jayson’s ability to “phase shift” between any distance less than a mile meant that no one could really catch him unless he wanted to be caught, which was not tonight. He carefully set out after dark into the hallways, then phased shifted to the main lawn. He knew that the patrols would look here occasionally but he was well past the area they usually looked. What he did not know was that there were two sets of eyes watching him from the moment he left the portrait hole.
As soon as they saw Jayson leave, they put their plan into action. Pope went to the nearest Floo and did something surprising. Somehow, he was able to connect to the Granger’s. As soon as he saw Hermione, he whistled over to her. Hermione, expecting Jayson, came over and was immediately grabbed by Pope.
“Lemme go! Who are you?” Hermione yelled.
“Quiet kid, unless you want to get your friend in trouble for being here.” Pope said smiling.
Hermione didn’t know what to think. “What do you want? Why did you grab me?”
“To help Jayson of course, because he is about to get into major danger. You can help by talking him out of it.” The second answered.
“Where is he?”
“Across the grass, heading for the Forbidden Forest.” Martin answered and let go of Hermione. She took off immediately for the direction he had pointed to. Both Pope and Martin laughed.
Jayson reached the outskirts of the forest. He looked around before stepping into the trees. He wondered whether or not to call out, but he didn’t have to wonder very long.
“Why are you here, human?” A voice called to him.
“I seek the wisdom of the Centaurs.” Jayson called back.
He looked around and saw a figure come out of the shadows. The figure was half-man and half-horse. According to what he read prior to searching, he had just found a Centaur.
“What is your name, young one?” The Centaur asked.
“My name is Jayson, what is your name?” Jayson asked back.
“I am called Ronan. For what reason do you risk your life to seek us out?”
“I have heard from many sources that you are one with the second sight. I have that sight, but it is sporadic and frustratingly inconsistent. I seek the knowledge of how to control my sight so that it is a boon to people and not a hindrance to them.”
“A worthy goal, young one, but what have you to offer in return?” Ronan asked.
Jayson was stumped at that question. He hadn’t considered the possibility that he would have to exchange something to receive the information he sought. He then realized that he hadn’t considered a lot of things. For once, his acting on impulse has put him into an awkward situation.
However, before Jayson could formulate and answer. He heard a strange noise, and then suddenly the Centaur fell to the ground.
“Finally, I have bagged one of the four-legged freaks!” A hoarse voice spoke as a figure stepped out of the shadows. Jayson reached for his wand immediately.
“Back-off, whoever you are!” He shouted. The hooded man turned and let loose with a second arrow. Jayson phase-shifted about three feet to avoid the missile and started rapid firing disarming spells at the hooded figure. It was the one spell he could do non-verbally, so he kept shooting until he had hit the figure several times. The figure dropped his crossbow and disappeared into the forest. Jayson ran over and grabbed the weapon, then went over to the fallen Centaur. It was then that Hermione found him.
“What are you doing here?” Jayson called to her.
“Didn’t you send for me? The two guys who brought me here said you were in danger.” She replied.
“I can guess which two too. Right now, I need one of my potions.” He looked at Hermione and started to talk in very deliberate tones. “I need you find Charlie. He is probably in the Common Room. Tell him that I need the bottle that looks like a bubble with the long skinny neck. He will know which one I am talking about. Go! The password is “tempus.”
Hermione nodded and ran back in the direction she came. However, she only got half way when she ran into McGonagall. She quickly explained how and why she was here and that Jayson was adamant that he needed that bottle. McGonagall took her to the Common Room and they found Charlie. He did know which bottle and soon the three of them were running where Jayson was standing over the Centaur. Jayson had managed to get the arrow out, but not before cutting his hand. McGonagall got to him first, followed by Charlie and Hermione. To everyone’s surprise, Dumbledore was also arriving.
“What are you doing here, Mr. Livermore?” McGonagall demanded to know.
“Trying to save a Centaur’s life right now, Professor, do you know the advanced healing spells?”
“Yes, but you need an antidote for the poison.”
Jayson pulled a vial out of his pocket. “Got one, and Charlie has brought me what else we need.” Jayson took the bottle from Charlie and opened it. He then took a piece of the arrow that had the Centaurs blood and dropped it in. He then shook the bottle until the liquid turned a dark pink. “This is a generic replenishment potion. It sits in a stable but unfinished state until you add the blood of whatever being you are trying to help.” He picked up the Ronan’s head, who now was barely breathing. He poured in the antidote and helped the Centaur to swallow it. After which, McGonagall performed the healing spell, which worked perfectly.
“Are you sure that potion is going to work?” She asked.
“It always has so far. Here goes…” Jayson replied and began to pour the potion slowly down the Ronan’s throat. The Centaur began to swallow the liquid as Jayson continued to pour. About five minutes after Jayson had finished, the Centaur began to attempt arising. “Help me help him up.” He said. They helped the creature back to his feet.
“Why did you help me?” Ronan inquired.
“Because you needed the help, I help anyone who needs it whenever I can. That is why I have studied potions so diligently, because that offers the greatest opportunity to assist others in need.” Jayson replied.
“The young human has given us a token in return, the life of one of our own.” A voice from the trees spoke out. “The debt is paid. The balance has been kept. We will grant him what he asks for.” Another Centaur stepped forward. “My name is Firenze. I will prepare the tomes to allow you to do what you wish. But know this, the sight is not a tool or a skill. It is an art to apply to the world as one would put paint to a canvas or music to paper. To achieve your desire you must begin to look at your gift in that fashion. Return in seven days and I will have the tomes ready for you…”
Jayson said thank you in a very quiet voice before falling to the ground.
“Jayson!” Hermione screamed.
“Oh dear,” Dumbledore said. “It seems that Jayson was also poisoned when he removed the arrow. We will need to get him to Madame Pomfrey right away unless we can find another potion up his sleeve.” They looked and saw several potions in his coat, but none of them were labeled, so they decided to levitate him to the hospital wing.
Jayson woke up about four hours later to find himself in an infirmary bed with McGonagall, Dumbledore, Charlie, Hermione, and Mrs. Granger looking on. He also woke to the biggest headache he felt he had ever had in his life.
“How are you feeling?’ Dumbledore asked quietly.
Jayson groaned. “If this is what hung over feels like, I’m never drinking fire-whiskey ever. How did I get here, and how did Mother Granger get to Hogwarts?”
Dumbledore smiled. “I am responsible for your foster mother’s presence. Professor McGonagall levitated you here from the forest.”
“Sir, I am not the one who brought Hermione here, how could Pope and Martin do it?”
“I am not sure, are you sure you never told anyone about how to reach your home?”
“No one but Charlie.”
“I told no one.” Charlie piped in quickly.
“Well then,” Dumbledore continued, “we will just have to find that out on another day. But we will find out don’t you worry.”
“Now then,” McGonagall interjected, “What possessed you to go out to the Forest in the first place?”
“I went seeking answers no one else can give me but the Centaurs. I was becoming a side-show attraction in Divination class, and Professor Trelawney was no help whatsoever. I wondered why Pope and Martin were being so helpful, but they did provide me the answer I was looking for?” He looked at Dumbledore, “Sir, will you accompany me next week when I receive whatever Firenze intends to bestow upon me?”
“I would be honored, Jayson. You will probably meet Bane as well. He is the leader of the Centaurs.”
At this point, Mrs. Granger came forward. “You had us worried for a while, son.”
“I had me worried too, Mum.”
“I would like to speak to Jayson alone please.” McGonagall announced. Everyone nodded and stepped out of the area. Hermione gave him a quick kiss on the cheek as she and Mother Granger were the last to leave. “I wanted you to know I am rather upset at you.”
“For going out to the Forest, yes Professor.”
“No, not for that.” She replied.
“Huh? Then why?”
“For not trusting me to see that you needed to go out there as you trust Dumbledore. I am not your enemy, Jayson.”
Jayson looked at her dumbfounded. “I never really gave it much thought. I never meant anything by it, Professor. It’s just every time I needed something unique, he was there.”
“Well, I am here too, you know. I can believe that you have earned your share of dissenters who would like nothing more than to see you falter.”
“Like most of the House of Slytherin?” Jayson asked.
“Actually, no. Quite a few, yes, but not most. No more than in the rest of the Houses…including ours.”
“What?” Jayson asked shocked. “Why? What did I do to them?”
“Nothing, except get an OWL in your third year and put Snape to sleep in front of a room full of students and get on the good side of Madams Pince and Pomfrey.”
“Oh, in other words, jealousy.”
“I would say so. There are those who don’t see how hard you work, especially at potions. They only see the things you are allowed to do and feel the staff is playing favorites.”
“But anyone could have gotten what I got if they did what I did, which is work my arse off and studied hard…and blow up the room quite a few times.”
“Again, actually no…you are a rare breed, Mr. Livermore. You have a real gift in potions. I don’t think anyone else in Hogwarts could have accomplished what you have. That is, until Miss Granger arrives here as a student.”
“She will make me look ordinary by comparison. I expect that she will get all “O”s on her OWLs. She absorbs everything she is taught like a sponge to water.”
“Yes, Mrs. Weasley has said as much. She is very talented. It was smart of you to recognize her talents and get her tutored right away. She is progressing and happy in her situation. Something I get the impression she wasn’t prior?”
“Not even close, Professor. She was constantly getting teased at the Muggle School.”
“It is a wonder she cannot brew potions as well.” McGonagall joked.
“I didn’t want the house blown up, Professor. I was still learning by rote. I decided that I would only teach Hermione spells that would not do damage if she miscast.
“Which is back to my main point, namely that your situation is a completely unique one. No one has ever taken on so much responsibility at such a young age. That base replenishment potion was a stroke of genius.”
“I took the idea from the Muggle medical concept of plasma, which is the part of blood that can be interchanged regardless of type.”
“Yes, very good. Now, Mr. Livermore, you will earn my forgiveness with one thing.”
“Yes Professor?” Jayson asked.
“From now on, you come to me first when you need something. I am the Head of your House after all.”
“Very good. I will leave you to recover. Madame Pomfrey wants you here overnight to make sure the poison is out of your system.” With that, McGonagall exited the infirmary.
Jayson, Dumbledore, and McGonagall went to the edge of the Forest and were met by Ronan, Bane, and Firenze. Bane handed some scrolls to Jayson.
“From this moment on, you are considered a friend to the Centaurs.” Bane said.
“And I consider the Centaurs to be my friends as well.” Jayson replied and stuck out his hand. Bane took it and they sealed the deal with a handshake.
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