Chapter 22 : Tree Quest
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The next morning Lily rose early. She took her journal out of her nightstand drawer and wrote down everything Helga had told her, Alice, and Caddaric last night and then showered and got dressed. She was anxious to tell Sev what Helga had told them and maybe they could start their search for Rowena's tree after class today. Since Helga had said it was located at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, they wouldn't be breaking the rule about going into the forest. She made sure everything she needed was in her book bag and before leaving she locked Belinda and her journal inside her trunk. She didn't trust Mary not to do something to Belinda or read her journal. Marius had taught her how to lock her trunk magically so it could not be opened by use of an unlocking spell. Lily went downstairs and to her delight she saw Severus sitting on the bottom step of the staircase with his long legs stretched out in front of him. He appeared to be reading and was probably reviewing for their classes today.
"Hi, Sev!" Lily said, sitting down beside him.
"Good morning, Lily," Severus said, smiling. Lily was always such a breath of fresh air. "How are you?"
"Looking forward to classes more than I was last year," she replied. "I really like Professor Bones and I think we're going to learn a lot with her."
"She seems very competent and it doesn't sound as if she'll put up with any crap from Potter and Black," he agreed. "How was your visit with Helga Hufflepuff last night?"
"She told us a lot." Lily related the main points of their conversation with Helga.
"A large black oak?" Severus murmured. "I wouldn't think it would be too hard to find. I remember Gran telling me about oak trees when I was eight. She said they can live for hundreds of years; that they're very hardy."
"I almost started to giggle about what she told us about Godric. I thought he sounded like an arrogant prat, kind of like old Pothead."
"It seems he wasn't the noble gentleman he's always been portrayed as either. He does sound a lot like Potter. I can see him strutting around like a peacock trying to impress all the girls in a few years," Severus remarked.
Lily made a face. "He struts around like a peacock now, but the only one who's impressed is MacDonald."
"We need to let the others know what you found out, but I don't think it's a good idea for all of us to go searching for this tree together. We don't want to attract unnecessary attention especially Potter's, Black's and MacDonald's."
"Maybe we can set up a schedule and specific times to search," Lily suggested.
"That would probably be the best solution," Severus agreed.
Severus was now taking fourth year potions, but was still helping Horace with the second year class. Horace scanned every book bag as the students came in as he was certain James had brought his invisibility cloak back to school with him. Today's lesson was brewing an Energy Potion.
"This is for people who become overly exhausted after performing some intense activity, but are not in danger of exhausting their magical core," Horace lectured, and noticing James' smirk, he said, "This is not to be taken before a Quidditch match; this potion is only for emergency situations. Please pay close attention to the amount of Licorice Root you add because too much will ruin the potion and also the octopus tentacles are rather rubbery and hard to dice so please try not to waste them because they are rather expensive. You may begin."
Both Horace and Severus walked around the room helping and offering advice. Horace checked on Potter, Black, and MacDonald for which Severus was thankful. He didn't want anything to do with that lot. He'd had his fill of their insults and general nastiness last year and if they needed tutoring this year Slughorn would have to find somebody else.
As usual there was at least one mishap during the class and for once it wasn't Potter, Black or MacDonald. Although Avery had prepared his potion correctly; he stirred it too vigorously causing it to splash in his face. The results were instantaneous; he was suddenly running about the room and chattering loudly. Horace sighed and gave him the antidote and a Calming Draft. He directed Severus to escort Avery to Madam Pomfrey. He would need to stay in the hospital wing until he calmed down.
When their classes were over for the day, Severus and Lily decided to take a quick look around at the edge of the Forbidden Forest to see if they could spot Rowena's tree, but to their dismay the trees in the area were numerous.
"We're going to have to find some way to mark the trees we've already checked so we don't keep checking the same trees, Sev."
"She didn't say how far in we should go either," Severus replied, scratching his head. "And I don't know where the Forbidden Forest actually starts so we'll have to figure that out so we aren't out of bound and end up in detention."
They returned to the castle. They were all meeting in the library after dinner to work on their assignments and share their latest finding about the Grimoire. Peter came up with the idea of marking the trees they'd already checked with colored chalk, but the only problem was if it rained they'd need to start all over again. Irene thought she and Lily might be able to come up with a charm that could make the mark waterproof. They decided that when they searched they would always mark the tree in the same inconspicuous spot and everybody would use the same mark.
In the Defense Against the Dark Arts the next day, the class found out that Amelia Bones was definitely not someone that could be pushed around. James and Sirius thought it would be great fun to cast a Pee-Your-Pants hex on Peter during class. Peter's face turned bright red when he realized what had happened and dropped his head in shame. Seeing his reaction, James and Sirius burst out laughing, guffawing loudly and of course disrupting Professor Bones' lesson on the Grim and hellhounds completely.
"Pee-Pee Pettigrew pissed his pants!" James laughed making fun of Peter and humiliating him further.
After she sent Peter to his dorm to change his clothes she stood beside James' and Sirius' desks with her arms crossed, tapping her foot. "Did I not warn you what would happen if you played pranks and disrupted my class?"
"Yes, ma'am, you did," James replied giving her his most charming smile.
"And did you not think the rules applied to you or Mr. Black?"
"It was just a harmless joke, Professor, and it's not like anybody was hurt," Sirius protested.
"You obviously didn't consider your classmate's dignity when you did this," she said. "Follow me up to the front of the classroom, gentlemen."
James and Sirius sent each other a puzzled look as they walked behind her. When they got to the front, Professor Bones said, "I know I said yesterday that my detentions would be scrubbing the castle, but after reading Black Conor's class notes from last term I believe his punishment works much better. Gentlemen, drop to the floor and give me fifteen!" she barked.
Severus grinned. It reminded him of the stories his dad used to tell him about being a Royal Marine and some of the drill sergeants he'd had.
Everybody watched, barely holding in their laughter as James and Sirius, red-faced and sweaty, struggled to do the fifteen push-ups. It took them at least ten minutes to complete and they collapsed on the floor after the last one, breathing heavily. "And an additional ten points from each of you for bullying. Return to your seats and be warned the next time you disrupt my class it'll be twenty pushups plus fifteen house points from each of you."
They staggered back to their seats and slumped down into them. Alice, who was sitting across from James, clamped two fingers over her nose and leaned away from him.
"Please hand in your essays on the Grey Man. Your assignment for the next class is to reread the chapter on Grims and hellhounds as there will be a quiz next class on what you've read. Please make sure Mr. Pettigrew knows this also. Class is dismissed."
"Potter, you really stink. Go take a shower!" Lily said, wrinkling her nose as she passed him on her way out.
"Shut up, Silly Lily, who still takes her dolly to bed with her," James sneered.
"Oh, the big Quidditch star can't even manage to do his punishment without smelling like he's fallen into a pail of fish guts!" Severus sneered back.
"Shut up you slimy snake!" Sirius growled.
"BO, Black!" Alice said clamping her fingers over her nose. "I'm eating lunch elsewhere if those two are going to be sitting at the table without showering."
"Come on, James and Sirius. You don't need to listen to that lot. They can't appreciate a good prank, having no sense of humor! Bones should be disciplined for making you do that!" Mary said, taking each of their arms.
Remus shook his head. "Somebody ought to cast that hex on her and see how she feels about it then."
Peter joined them halfway into lunch. He didn't have much to say and still looked mortified.
"It's okay, Pete, we know you couldn't help yourself once Potter and Black cast that hex on you," Remus said, attempting to make him feel better.
"Bones' kicked both their arses," Frank stated. "She made them do fifteen of those Muggle exercises like Conor did last year."
"You should have seen them, Pete," Lily crowed. "Their faces were bright red from struggling to do the push-ups and they were all sweaty."
"And really smelly too!" Alice added.
"Don't worry about them, Pete," Remus said. "What we'll do from now on is sit behind them so they can't cast any more hexes without having to turn all the way around and Professor Bones will catch that right away."
Peter felt much better about the incident knowing his friends fully supported him. "Are we meeting tonight?"
"Yes, the Room of Requirement at seven," Lily whispered.
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Amelia knocked on the door of the Headmaster's office wondering what he wanted with her. "Come in, Amelia," Dumbledore called.
She opened the door and entered the office.
"Amelia, please have a seat," Albus answered motioning to the chairs in front of his desk.
Amelia sat down and waited while Albus ordered tea from his personal elf, Tingly. The elf was back with the tea and crumpets within seconds. She accepted the cup of tea Albus poured for her, but declined the crumpet. She took a sip of her tea and then asked, "What did you need to see me about, Headmaster?"
"How are you're classes proceeding?"
"Quite well, thank you. It's very interesting teaching a variety of grade levels."
"I wished to speak with you about Mr. Potter and Mr. Black. I understand you made them do fifteen rounds of a Muggle exercise in class today. May I ask what they did to require this punishment?"
"They cast a hex on Mr. Pettigrew that not only humiliated him, but disrupted my lesson. I thought they needed a lesson in respect."
"Come now, Amelia. They're just boyish pranks and they didn't really hurt anyone," Albus said.
"It hurt Mr. Pettigrew's dignity and was done for no other reason than to humiliate him. I don't tolerate bullying either inside my classroom or outside of it. Mr. Pettigrew tries hard, but because of his asthma he is limited in what he can do, but that is no reason for Mr. Potter and Mr. Black to pick on him." She put down her teacup and got up. "Now, if you have nothing else you wish to discuss I've got papers to grade. Good day, Headmaster."
"Well, she's certainly nothing like her brother, Edgar," Albus huffed to Fawkes.
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Lily set up a schedule to search for Rowena's tree, but they still didn't know where the Forbidden Forest began.
"Why don't we ask Hagrid?" Remus suggested. "He would probably know if anybody does."
The next day after classes Severus, Lily, and Remus went down to see Hagrid. They explained what they wanted to know, but Hagrid seemed suspicious of their request. "Why do ya need to know?"
Severus spoke up. "Well, I'm taking fourth year potions and I wanted to search the edges of the forest for potion ingredients, but I don't want to get detention for accidently wondering into the Forbidden Forest."
"Aye," Hagrid said nodding. "Yor' must be the Snape boy Horace is always talkin' bout when he stops by. Says yor' a genius at potions."
"I think he might be exaggerating a bit," Severus replied modestly.
"Follow me then and I'll show you lot where you can't go past," Hagrid said. He led them to a certain area farther into the forest. "Okay, see this line of trees? See the big red X up there on them trees? If ya go past here, alarms sound in Dumbledore's office and yor' Head's offices and they'll come out and fetch ya and you'll get detention for sur'. Only sixth and seventh years can go past here and that's only if they're with me or Horace."
"But we can go anywhere in the woods up to here?" Lily clarified.
"You can," Hagrid said, nodding.
Lily turned to Severus. "Sev, you should be able to find a lot of different potion ingredients without going past this point."
"I'm sure I can, Lily," Severus replied.
"Thanks, Hagrid," Remus waved to him as they left.
They shared the information with the others in the Room of Requirement that night. Tav and Peter were busy pulling the research together that Lily, Remus and Irene had found. "It looks as if there's been a lot of fights and deaths over possession of the Grimoire once Merlin disappeared never to be seen again," Tav remarked. "A lot of people have known about the Grimoire and of course sought its power."
"When we find it and give it to Helena, I hope she keeps it safe," Emily remarked with a shiver. "It doesn't sound like something you'd want floating around for any witch or wizard to grab."
"We've got to find Rowena's tree first," Severus reminded everybody.
"Let's keep a low profile when searching," Lily said. "And don't talk about the Grimoire outside of this room. We don't want Potter, Black, or MacDonald finding out."
"Yes, MacDonald's really nosy. We have to keep our trunks locked all of the time otherwise she snoops through them. She stole Lily's homework last year and got her in trouble with Hagbroom," Alice said.
"That's pretty awful when you can't trust your Housemates," Caddaric said. "If anybody was acting that way in our house, the entire house would reprimand them with Professor Sprout's okay. They'd have to make amends for anything they did."
Irene nodded. "Same way in our house. If somebody was stealing, Professor Flitwick would take them to task, give them detention, and make them pay for anything they stole.
"Doesn't Professor McGonagall do anything? I mean she seems pretty stern." Jane asked.
"She tries to punish them, but anything to do with Potter, Black, or MacDonald, by extension, the Headmaster waives because Potter is his godson."
"Well, that explains a lot of last year," Tav said.
"I have to confess I would have loved to have seen Potter and Black doing those fifteen pushups," Dorian said, chuckling.
"Yes, but I'll bet Dumbledore called her into his office and rebuked her for making them do the pushups," Severus said.
"Probably," Lily sniffed.
They divided up into teams to search for Rowena's oak tree. Lily and Severus went together, Peter and Emily, Jane and Dorian, Irene and Remus, and Caddaric, Alice, and Frank searched as teams. Nobody had any luck the first week they searched.
They halted the search on Saturday because the afternoon were the tryouts for the Ravenclaw and Slytherin House teams and everybody was going to be rooting for Dorian, Tav, and Jane to make the Slytherin team. Ravenclaw went first since they only had two positions to replace and it didn't take the captain long to pick his players from the ones who had tried out. Slytherin was up next. Avery, Wilkes, and the Lestrange twins all tried out and the competition was fierce, but in the end Jane got Keeper, having blocked eight out of the ten Quaffles thrown at her by the Slytherin team. Dorian got the Chaser spot that was open because he was agile and swift, and Tav being short and lightweight got the Seeker position.
Severus, Lily, Remus, Alice, Frank, Peter, Emily, Caddaric, and Irene all applauded while James, Sirius, and Mary, who were sitting in the Gryffindor section booed loudly. The Slytherin Captain, Rolf Applewhite, flipped them off. He was fed up with listening to certain Gryffindors complaining that Slytherin had cheated every time they won and Gryffindor didn't. He had no complaint about the Gryffindor team members themselves although he had heard Potter was going to be one of their new Chasers. He would need to keep a close eye on Potter during their first game in November.
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After the game, James and Sirius were lounging on their beds in the Gryffindor second year dorm. They were alone as Remus, Frank, and Peter were gone. "We gotta find a way to make Snivellus and Silly Lilly look like the dumb arses they are, Siri," James complained. "They're both so stuck-up and act like they're Merlin's gifts to the world!"
"Yeah, they do need to be brought down a few pegs, but let's not do anything in Bones' class because my arms hurt like hell for two day after Bones made us do those pushups!" Sirius replied.
"Does your cousin know any hexes we could cast on them to make them do everything wrong whether it's potions or spells for a whole day maybe?"
"I'll owl Bella and ask," Sirius said getting up from his bed and moving over to his desk. He scribbled a note to Bella. "Bella will find us a hex. She doesn't like Muggleborns and she hates the Princes because Snivellus' grandparents snubbed my aunt and uncle. Let's go to the Owlery. I'll send this off with the little prince's owl, Diogenes."
Bella was quick to reply and Diogenes arrived back while James and Sirius were getting ready to go down to dinner. Sirius opened the window, grabbed the letter, and slammed the window shut again. Diogenes flew back to the Owlery in a huff.
"What does your cousin say?"
Sirius' face cracked into a big smile. "She says there is hex to make somebody appear stupid. It's called the Bardus Asinus, the Stupid Ass hex. To cast it you say Obbrutesco and to remove it you say Amolior. She says it lasts for eight hours."
"That's perfect, Siri! We'll do it tomorrow, but we've got to cast it on both of them at the same time so they don't realize they've been spelled. I don't know how we can do that though."
"I do," Sirius said. "Snivellus and Silly Lily almost always walk into breakfast together. What I'll do is run into her and knock her down and while Snivvy's helping her up, you can cast the spell on both of them."
"Brilliant, Siri. I'll practice saying the spell after dinner."
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The next morning James was hanging around outside the Great Hall. Sirius was hiding in a shallow alcove nearby waiting for Snivellus and Silly Lily to walk past at which time he would race out, slam into her, and knock her over. He saw Snivellus and Lily coming down the hall and as they passed the alcove where Sirius was hidden, he raced out and plowed into Lily. "Get out of my way, Silly Lily; I'm starving!"
Lily was knocked to the floor and her book bag opened, spilling out all her books.
"Black, you moron! You could have hurt her!" Severus yelled, shaking his fist at Sirius. He bent down to Lily. "Are you hurt, Lily?"
"I don't think so, Sev, but all my stuff …" she replied, pointing at her spilled books and parchment.
"Here, I'll help you."
While they were both bent gathering up Lily's stuff, James waved his wand and muttered, "Obbrutesco!" He then tucked his wand quickly away, satisfied that nobody had seen a thing, walked into the Great Hall and sat down by Sirius.
"Well?" Sirius asked.
"Done and done," James replied with a smirk.
Lily hadn't had such a frustrating day since her first few days at Hogwarts. She couldn't remember spells or their counters in Charms. It didn't help that Potter and Black were constantly mocking her and making cracks about Muggleborns being too stupid to attend Hogwarts. Flitwick was looking at her with a peculiar expression.
James and Sirius were chuckling behind their hands. This was working out even better than they had imagined!
In Potions, Severus stood staring at Lily's frothing potion. He couldn't seem to remember what to do to return it to normal. Alice called for Professor Slughorn who pushed Severus aside and waved his wand over Lily's potion. "Evanesco. That's a zero for today, Miss Evans." He turned to Severus with a frown on his face. "Why didn't you offer Miss Evans your assistance, Mr. Snape?"
"I …I didn't know what to do, Professor."
By the end of the day Lily was in tears and Severus was feeling extremely frustrated. He couldn't seem to remember the simplest spell or potion formula. He felt extremely dull as if his brain was floating in molasses. He wondered if he was getting sick and should have Madam Pomfrey check him out. Whatever he was getting Lily had obviously caught it too. He went to the Hospital Wing.
Madam Pomfrey looked up from taking inventory of her potion cabinet. "Mr. Snape, what can I do for you?"
"I think I might be getting sick," Severus said.
"Sit down in that chair and I'll scan you."
Severus sat down and Madam Pomfrey waved her wand over him. He felt a slight tingle down his body and then a piece of parchment appeared. Madam Pomfrey took the parchment and looked it over. "Everything appears normal, Mr. Snape. All your vital signs are normal. What makes you think you were getting sick?"
Severus explained about his day. "I can't remember the simplest spell or potion formula – even ones Gran taught me when I was eight. I didn't know what to do to save Lily's potion today."
"You say Miss Evans is experiencing the same symptoms as you?" Madam Pomfrey asked.
Severus nodded. "She messed up in Charms today and she's brilliant at Charms and she's almost as good as me in Potions."
"I'll send a message to Minerva and have her bring Miss Evans in and we'll get to the bottom of this."
Madam Pomfrey sent off her Patronus, an eagle, to Professor McGonagall and within fifteen minutes, Minerva came through the doors of the Hospital Wing with Lily. Severus noticed right away Lily's eyes were red and swollen from crying.
"Miss Evans, Mr. Snape tells me you were both displaying the same symptoms today. The inability to remember how to do the simplest of spells, potions or any other of you subjects. Is this correct?"
Lily nodded. "I couldn't remember how to do the simplest spells and I still can't," Lily mumbled her face red with shame.
"Horace and Filius were telling me they noticed how strange Miss Evans and Mr. Snape were acting today," Professor McGonagall said. "I thought perhaps they had been studying too much and had gotten overly tired."
A line appeared between Madam Pomfrey's eyes as a memory lodged in the forefront of her mind. She motioned to Minerva and they stepped aside. Poppy cast a Silencing spell around them so they couldn't be overheard by the children. "Minerva, I just recalled something like this that happened several years ago. Horace brought one of his Slytherins to me suffering the same symptoms and we found out it was a hex cast on this person by Bellatrix Black. It was apparently a hex that made them appear to be really stupid all of a sudden. I believe it was called the Bardus Asinus hex."
Minerva's eyes narrowed and her lips tightened into a thin line. "Bellatrix Black? I believe I might know who cast that hex on Miss Evans and Mr. Snape. I won't be able to prove it though because their wands will only show the last spell they performed in Charms today, but I will inform their teachers what happened and allow Miss Evans and Mr. Snape to make up their classes today."
That evening Minerva called a house meeting and lectured them all on using magic in the halls and using spells that they learned elsewhere than in their classes. She didn't name any names, but let Potter and Black know in no uncertain terms that she knew it was them that had cast the spell on Severus and Lily.
The search for Rowena's tree continued, but so far they had found nothing. Lily and Severus were searching when Lily suddenly tripped over a large root of a tree that was sticking up from the ground. Severus caught her arm and kept her from falling. Suddenly Lily's eyes widened and she pulled on Severus arm that was still holding her. "Sev, look up there! Isn't that a raven that looks as if it's flying?"
Severus nodded and reached out to touch the trunk of the tree. "And this is a black oak; it's huge too!" He smiled widely. "I believe we've finally found Rowena's tree."
A/N: What information or clues does the tree hold? Find out next chapter!
Also, we think it's time that Lily, Sev, and their friends pulled a prank or pranks back on Potter, Black, and MacDonald. Agree-yes or no?
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