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Halfway To Infinity by Eponine
Chapter 23 : Chapter Twenty-Two: Arithmancy
 
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Author's Note: Okay, so it's been pretty long since the last update. I know and I'm sorry about that, but the good news is that I'm officially done with the college admission process! Yay! At least one thing is taken off my plate, so I'm hoping to be able to focus more on writing. That being said, I'm going out of town for the next two weeks, so I'm not promising many updates. I do have quite a good more first drafts of chapters already written though.

Thank you so so so much to TheBird who beta'd this chapter in the middle of midterms. You're beautiful and amazing!

Right so, this chapter is dedicated to my fabulous Calculus teacher, who is a much better teacher than Professor Moon.

~ ~ ~

Chapter Twenty-Two: Arithmancy

Andrea didn’t go to any more classes that day and Lottie had to suffer through Occlumency and Arithmancy by herself. Thankfully, she didn't have to deal with Colm's pestering, as she didn't share any classes that day with the Maeliorics. Occlumency was fairly uneventful. The third years all enjoyed Professor Breckenridge’s anecdotes about his first attempt at using Occlumency while in disguise, which ended in a rather bizarre cat and mouse chase through the sewer system of a small country village. In Arithmancy, Professor Moon, an aged and withering man (who had so many charts of numerical patterns pinned up on the wall that at first glance Lottie thought it was wallpaper), delivered a rather longwinded lecture about how to tell whether or not a person was alive through numerical patterns. Lottie found the whole idea rather ridiculous; she figured that if she didn’t know whether or not somebody was alive, she clearly didn’t care enough about them to go through a series of mathematical operations just to find out.

“One must take the character number,” Moon drawled, “and divide it by the heart number.”

Lottie scribbled that down and stared at the professor expectantly. He took a long breath and continued in his monotonous tone. “You multiply that by two and add it to the cubed root of the social number.”

For a moment, Lottie envied Andrea. Why was this class even taught?

“The result of that must be compared to a chart of the lunar calendar, which shows various ranges of numbers for months past. Once you find the range in which your result lies, you can find out the time your subject passed to the minute. If the number is not in on the chart, your subject is still living.”

The bell rang for the end of classes. Lottie threw her parchment up in the air in celebration. After messily packing her bag, she ran down the stairs to the Palmyitor common room, desperate to not be seen by Colm Scrivener.

She turned the clock to the correct time and slipped through the base, pulling her duffle bag behind her. “Are you back already?” Andrea asked from the sofa.

“I could say the same to you,” Lottie responded. “Why so cheerful?”

Andrea shrugged. “I wouldn’t say cheerful. I just talked to Professor Stainthorpe for a while and she just put things into perspective for me. I mean… it’s not going to get better right away, but now I can cope.”

Lottie sat down on the sofa next to her. “Well that’s good,” she said.

They shared a moment of silence.

“What did I miss in classes?”

Lottie turned to her. “Honestly Andrea, you just had a minor breakdown and you’re thinking about what you missed in classes? We didn’t do anything in Occlumency. Breckenridge warned us against poor technique. And who cares about Arithmancy, really?”

I do.” Andrea grabbed for Lottie’s bag. “Show me your notes.” She riffled through the contents of the bag for thirty minutes before dropping it on the floor. “Honestly, would it kill you to organize this? Put your notes in your book or something! Find the notes for me.”

Lottie smirked and dumped the contents of her bag onto Andrea’s lap. “If you want it so badly, you can find it yourself.”

After five minutes of Andrea’s frustrated searching, she finally found the notes and read over them. Lottie stuffed the rest of her notes back into her bag.

“This formula makes no sense,’ Andrea said with a frown.

“That’s what I thought, but Moon insists that it works.”

“What do you do with this result? What does it tell you?”

Lottie shrugged and rested her head in her hand, eyes closed tightly in concentration. “I don’t know. You need a lunar calendar chart with some sort of number range. It’s supposed to tell if somebody is dead… or something.”

Andrea gasped loudly and dropped the notes.

“What?” Lottie asked, opening one eye. “What’s wrong?”

“This is exactly what we need!” Andrea shouted. “Oh, Lottie!” She threw the notes into Lottie’s face. “Why didn’t you take better notes?”

“I’m sorry, what do we need this for?”

Andrea leaned in and intently whispered, “It might give us a clue about Neville Longbottom.”

“Like what?”

“Honestly Lottie why are you so thick sometimes? If Longbottom is alive, maybe we can find him. I’m sure we could find more clues somewhere.”

“And if he isn’t?”

“Well… then we could find a tombstone or—or something.” Andrea put down Lottie’s notes and stood up. “Stay there, I’m going to get my Arithmancy book. Maybe it will have the formula.” She disappeared so quickly that for a moment Lottie thought she had Disapperated.

In a moment, Andrea was back, carrying an oversized book. “Okay,” she said as she sat down, dropping the book on the coffee table. “I’ll look for the formula and you get your parchment and quill ready.”

Lottie rolled her eyes playfully. “Okay.”

“I GOT IT!” Andrea waved the book in triumph. “Okay.” She eyed Lottie skeptically. “You know maybe I should do this. Here give me the quill.”

Lottie tapped her knee impatiently as Andrea calculated the number. Several times, she groaned, hastily crossed something out and wrote something under her scribbles.

“Okay I think this is right,” Andrea said slowly after five minutes of checking over her work. “I think the final number is thirteen point six three four two… with rounding. That should be exact enough right?”

“Sounds like it.”

“Okay, now we need to find it in the chart.” Andrea thumbed through the pages of the book. “Oh wow. Lottie, this chart goes on for over a hundred pages.”

“No way! Seriously? What are they doing, the history of everything?”

Andrea flipped to the beginning. “Actually, it looks like it,” she said, wide eyed. She pulled her glasses off and wiped them on her robes. “Okay, I’ll start at the beginning and you get your book and start at the end. We’ll meet somewhere in the middle.”

Lottie stared at her. “Do you honestly want me to--”

“Yes!” Andrea cut her off. “Now go get your book and hurry up.”

Hours passed and Lottie and Andrea were still camped out in the common room, surrounded with piles of extra books and parchment they had gotten from the library. They looked like prisoners of a bizarre type of fort.

“Hey, third years!” Lottie looked up, for a moment expecting Stanley to be standing in front of them. It wasn’t him, but the new prefect who was appointed after Stanley left, a temperamental fifth year girl named Matilda Keith. “You’re hogging up the best seats in the common room to do your homework?”

The common room was much more crowded now. Most of the students had just returned from dinner.

Lottie and Andrea exchanged a glance.

“Scoot!” Matilda shouted, pushing the pile of books onto Lottie’s lap. “Some of the older students want to sit down.”

Andrea opened her mouth to retaliate, but closed it once Matilda pulled out her wand. “Let’s go,” she said to Lottie under her breath. “We can go grab a few bites of dinner and then go to the library.”

Each carrying a minimum of seven books and their bags full of their scraps of parchment, Lottie and Andrea hobbled up the stairs to the Great Hall. The Hall was nearly completely empty when they reached it. Palmyitor and Clynalmoy sat at the staff table, conversing seriously.

“Let’s just sit here,” Lottie groaned, dropping the books onto the bench. Andrea set hers down carefully and sat across from her.

“Palmyitor looks tired,” Andrea observed, staring at the head table.

“She said she was going to the Death Eater headquarters,” Lottie said casually as she scraped the remains of a shepherd’s pie onto her plate. “I was walking by her office this morning and overheard her talking to Clynalmoy.”

Andrea seemed much more concerned about this than Lottie had been. “She was with Death Eaters?” She furrowed her brow. “I didn’t know she was still actively spying. That’s dangerous, isn’t it, for someone her age?”

Lottie shrugged. “Well she’s good at it, isn’t she? And she said it herself – there’s no one good enough to replace her.”

“One of the students who left already, maybe?”

“Well she did say that she wouldn’t need to have that job for long. A few more years, she said. I wonder what she’s waiting for.”

Andrea stared at her. “Mmm I wonder,” she hummed, sarcasm saturating every word. “We should go soon anyway,” she continued. “I think Palmyitor is starting to guess that we’re talking about her.”

Lottie stole a glance up to the staff table. Indeed, Professor Palmyitor stared at the two of them suspiciously from over a coffee mug.

“Ears like a bat,” Lottie murmured before wolfing down the rest of her dinner. “Ready?”

“Yeah, let’s go. We only have a few more hours before the library closes.”

The two third years piled their books into their arms and toppled off to the library. Lottie could feel Palmyitor's eyes on her as she left the Great Hall. They clambered up the stairs and made their way into a corner filled with spindly, dust-coated chairs.

“Where did you leave off?” Andrea asked.

“I was at 1980. How about you?”

Andrea sighed and said, “I’m just at the beginning of the nineteenth century. So we only have about a hundred and eighty years to go.”

“I highly doubt he’ll have died before the formation of the Order, Andrea,” Lottie said blankly. “Come on, we’re done. He’s not dead.” She reached for her book.

“No!” Andrea snatched her book and held it to her chest. “We have to be sure! What if we find out that he actually died a long time ago?”

“Well then we wouldn’t have gotten into Grimmauld Place, right?” Lottie rolled her eyes. “You can keep going, but I’m not going to. He’s not dead, Andrea.”

“Fine. I’ll do it by myself.” Andrea picked up her book and stormed to the next table.

Lottie put her feet up on the table and stared at the ceiling, purposefully ignoring Andrea’s sighs of frustration coming from the other table. She shut her eyes and tried to relax in a chair shaped like a human spine. "Seriously, you'd think they want to kill you with these things," she muttered.

"Well maybe they're made like that so people like you wont fall asleep," Andrea retorted, eyes moving so quickly that they blurred blue behind her thick glasses.

Lottie rolled her eyes and tilted her chair so that it leaned against the wall. The day had been a long one. And who was the student Palmyitor had been arguing with Gabaldon about?

Probably Andrea, Lottie decided. Quiet, brilliant Andrea was her favorite.

Poor Palmyitor… It was the first time Lottie ever felt real pity for the woman. She didn’t know that she had any friends and now her best friend had died. Clynalmoy seemed to be doing a fairly good job comforting her, though. She got back from the Death Eater headquarters alive, didn’t she?

Lottie shuddered. She couldn’t imagine having to keep company with Death Eaters and pretend everything was fine…

Andrea shut her book noisily and stomped over to her. “It’s not there,” she panted. “He’s still alive.”

“I told you,” Lottie teased. “Come on let’s go tell—”

The lights turned off. Everything was pitch black; Lottie could hardly see Andrea through the pervasive darkness.

“Andrea? What happened?”

“I think—I think—oh hold on. Lumos.” The light from her wand illuminated a narrow beam leading to the door. “I think after hours, the lights just turn off. Maybe it’s a warning?”

“Maybe,” Lottie echoed. “Come on, we should get out of here before we’re caught, and show Palmyitor what we found.” She lit her wand as well and, carefully avoiding all of the particularly squeaky floorboards, they crept out of the library.

Nobody was patrolling the pitch-black hallways. Lottie and Andrea crept along, sure to keep their wand light away from the portraits, so they wouldn’t wake up and tell the heads of their midnight escapades.

They were climbing down the stairs to Palmyitor’s office, when Lottie’s book fell from her sweaty palms. She swore as it clunked down the stairs and landed right in front of Palmyitor’s door. Silence followed.

“Do you think she heard us?” Lottie whispered to Andrea, lowering her wand.

“Well if she didn’t hear the book, she definitely heard you,” Andrea hissed.

They made their way down the stairs to find Palmyitor’s door shut in front of them.

“You’re lucky,” Andrea commented, rolling her eyes.

“Hey, I’ll take luck over detention. Come on, help me find my book.”

“Looking for this?”

In a moment of horror, Lottie dropped her wand. The light didn’t shine any higher than their ankles, but Lottie knew exactly who stood before them. The hair on her arm prickled against her skin, which suddenly felt as if it had been doused with cold water.

Lottie scrambled for her wand and held it in front of herself defensively. The light seemed to be intensified by her fear and, brighter than it had ever been before, it illuminated the entire corridor. Palmyitor looked even more tired than she had at dinner. A vein bulged on her forehead and her eyes bugged out of her face. “Get your wand out of my face,” she growled.

Surprised, Lottie lowered her wand, muttering, “Nox.” Andrea followed suit.

With a flick of Palmyitor’s wand, the door to her office swung open. “In,” she demanded.

With a glance at Andrea, Lottie shuffled into the office and stood as far in the corner as she could. Slamming the door behind her, Palmyitor strode in and sat down at her desk. The lights flashed on so Lottie could see Palmyitor properly. She was an anomaly in a nightgown. Everything about her seemed off.

Her eyes flashed dangerously at them. “Out of bed after hours?”

Andrea turned to Lottie. Unfortunately, Lottie had just turned to Andrea, so the pair stood, having a silent battle of the will. Palmyitor cleared her throat.

“Er—we were in the library and all the lights went out. We-we were going to the common room, when—”

“You know I can tell when you’re lying.”

Lottie was surprised by Palmyitor’s bluntness.

“Okay.” It was Lottie’s turn now. “We weren’t going to the common room right away, but we were coming to see you. See, we were—were using the Arithmancy we learned today about how to tell if someone is alive or not.”

Palmyitor arched an eyebrow.

“We were trying to find out more information about Neville Longbottom,” Andrea piped up.

“Woolbright, that is the job of trained adults, not third years.” Andrea blushed. “Now, I suggest that you two—”

“But he’s not dead!” Lottie interrupted. “We figured it out with the formula that Professor Moon gave us. He’s not dead!”

Palmyitor raised a hand to silence Lottie. “You know, Rowe, Emma was right about you.” Lottie shrank away from Palmyitor. “You are far out of line. Believe it or not, this war does not center around you.”

“Please, Professor,” Lottie persisted. “Just look at this.” She took Andrea’s calculations and the charts from the book. “The number Andrea calculated isn’t anywhere on this chart, so he must be—”

“Rowe, your place is to study, not to try and fight. Merlin knows you would be hopeless if all we could use you for was Arithmancy.” Palmyitor and Lottie met eyes. “Nevertheless, what you found may prove to be…” She arched an eyebrow and glanced at Andrea searchingly. “…Useful,” she finished. “I will show it to Professor Moon in the morning.”

Lottie couldn’t help but smile. She turned to Andrea, who did not look as relieved.

“Now I would suggest you head to bed. If I find you two aren’t in your beds in five minutes, you will have much more to worry about than your next Arithmancy exam.”


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