Chapter 29 : Making Inquiries
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It was late - in the Great Hall, students were already gathering to eat. They went downstairs to join them.
"Divination," said Philip, "is an elective class, offered to Third Years and above. It's taught by Firenze, the Centaur."
"But, we're not going to wait until we're Third Years to find the answer to this question," said Sadie. "All I need is the name of the textbook. I should be able to borrow a copy from the library. I don't even need to check it out - I'll just read the chapter on Dream Interpretations and take some notes."
As they approached the entrance to the Hall, Liam said, "Hey, Sadie? Thanks."
The blush was on her cheeks again, and her voice squeaked as she said, "You're welcome!"
They crossed the threshold of the hall and parted. Liam sat down next to Michael, while Philip squeezed in between Liam and Fortney.
"Finally, you're back," said Michael. "What took so long?"
Liam wasn't sure how to start answering this question. Philip, though, made a prompt reply. "Sadie is very thorough."
"You can say that again," said Liam.
"Well, you missed a bang up practice," said Michael. "The Badgers are gonna win it all this year, I'm telling you."
"That's the spirit, cousin," said Archie, and he gave Michael a hearty pat on the back.
"Yeah," said Archie's friend, Eric. "Just don't bet any money on us."
Liam checked in with Sadie after breakfast the next morning. He met with her in the Entrance Hall, at the foot of the Grand Staircase, and he walked her up to the second floor. "Professor Firenze doesn't use a textbook," said Sadie.
"That's what we heard last night. We asked one of the Third Year Girls."
"Firenze hasn't always been the instructor, though," said Sadie. "He was hired during the war, I think. Somebody taught the class before he did. We need to find out who that was."
"How does that help us?"
"Because that person almost certainly did use a textbook, and that book, if it was in use for several years, is probably still at the library. I could check it out and read it, or at least take some notes."
"You're not letting go of this thing, are you?" said Liam.
"Of course not!"
"How are we going to find out who was teaching Divination before Firenze?"
"One of the other teachers would know."
"I really don't want to go to a teacher about this," said Liam.
"You don't need to go into the whole long story. Just say that you were curious about Dream Interpretation, and wanted to read up on it."
"It would sound more convincing coming from you."
She smiled at this. "Yes, but I was thinking we should ask your Head of House."
"Because she's the youngest member of the staff, and she was a student here. She would probably remember who the Divination Teacher was even if she never took the class, and if she did, she's likely to remember the name of the textbook."
Liam didn't like the idea of putting this question to Meadows, but he didn't want to let Sadie down when she was working so hard to solve this problem. If it were up to Liam, he would have let the matter go again, as he had the previous Autumn. He could see that Sadie was not so easily deterred. They were going to find the answer to this question, whatever it was.
Liam walked Sadie part of the way back to Ravenclaw Tower, before returning to the ground floor. He had promised Michael that he would spend some time wandering the grounds. They hiked out to the Quidditch pitch, where the Gryffindor team was practicing. Liam and Michael sat with Paul and his friends and watched the players race around on their brooms.
The Gryffindor players were faster on their brooms and more reckless with their maneuvers. Liam was still learning Quidditch, but he could tell this was the superior team. Even Michael was forced to admit it.
"We might catch them on an off day," Michael said when they were on their own again.
"They're not practicing like that so they can have an off day on the first game of the season," said Liam.
"It could happen!" Liam gave Michael an amused smirk. "All right," he conceded. "It's not bloody likely, but it could happen!"
After dinner, when they were down in the dormitories, Liam put the idea to Philip. "Sadie thinks we should ask Meadows who taught Divination before Firenze. She's the youngest teacher, and may remember."
"You want me to ask her?"
"Yes. I don't want her to get suspicious of me."
Philip laughed. "All right. I'll ask her."
"And find out what book they used. That's what Sadie really wants to know."
It took him but a minute. Philip walked right up to Meadows as she was passing through the common room and asked her. He brought the answer straight to Liam.
"The teacher was Professor Tralawny, and the book she taught from was Unfogging the Future. And yes, she thinks there's still a few copies of it in the library."
Liam wrote down the information on a scrap of parchment. In the morning, he passed the note to Sadie as he went into the Great Hall for breakfast. "Good," she said. "We'll talk after lunch, okay?"
After breakfast, the boys finished some lingering homework assignments, then roamed the grounds until lunch time. When they returned to the Entrance Hall (having finally learned to wash their hands before the meal without prompting from their prefect), Sadie was waiting for them.
Liam sent the others ahead. "We haven't eaten yet," he told her.
"I can wait," she said, "but I'd like to speak to you as soon as you're done. I've answered one of my many questions."
"Good." He wasn't sure what else to do, so he gave her a little pat on the arm before going into the Great Hall.
"She's not going to take your whole day, is she?" asked Michael.
"I don't know." If Lara and the others had been sitting across the table from him, that may have been all Liam said. But, the girls had gotten to the Great Hall earlier than Liam and his friends, and had since departed. "This is important," he said sternly. "It'll take as long as it takes."
Sadie was still waiting, leaning against the wall by the Grand Staircase, when Liam exited the Great Hall some twenty minutes later. The Divination book was open in front of her. She looked up from her reading and smiled at him. "Let's find someplace where we can talk, shall we?"
They walked up to the second floor and settled into chairs in an empty classroom. Without any preamble, Sadie began to read aloud from Unfogging the Future.
Prophetic dreams are difficult even for the wise to interpret properly. They are couched in symbols whose meanings and purpose are often not fully known until years afterwards. The visions shown can be vague and full of contradictions or impossibilities. By attempting to bring the vision to fulfillment, one may be led astray into a completely different future; by attempting to avoid one's fate, one may bring his doom more rapidly upon himself.
"What the heck is there to interpret?" asked Liam impatiently. "The dragon is about to bite my head off! What kind of symbol is that?"
"I agree!" said Sadie, grinning.
"It's not vague!" Liam continued. "The dragon's right there! I can almost feel her breath." Sadie was nodding, a happy grin still on her face. "I thought you said you had an answer."
"I do!" She closed the book with a sharp slap. "This isn't a prophetic dream. I didn't think it was, and once I read that paragraph, I was sure. Your dream is too specific, and the words you're hearing aren't the words of an Oracle. It's just two people talking."
"So, what the heck is it?"
His anger and frustration was daunting her, but she pressed on. "Liam, when you're having that dream, does it feel like you're on the boat?"
He drew in a deep breath. "Yeah. I can feel the waves rocking the boat. I can even taste the sea air."
"And what you just said, that you could feel the dragon's breath. It's like you were really there, on the boat with the dragon.
"Do you have a song that brings back memories for you?" Her sudden shift of direction took him such by surprise that he didn't answer. "There's a certain song that make me think of being in California. When I hear it, I can almost smell the redwoods.
"And, when my mother makes ginger snaps, it makes me think of Christmas. Even if it's October, if she makes them, I think of trees and carols and presents. It's like I'm there again.
"Do you feel that way sometimes?"
"I guess so. But what does this have to do with me and this dragon?"
"This dream, this thing in your head, it's a memory. Not your memory; it's somebody else's. And, it's not a happy memory either, like Christmastime. It's a scary memory - a near death experience - the time this man, the man who's speaking in your dream, was almost killed by a dragon."
"So, the dragon isn't going to bite my head off?"
"I don't think so," said Sadie with a nervous laugh. "Not this dragon, at any rate."
"How did somebody else's memory get in my head?"
"Well, Wizards can use a spell that preserves their memories. They drop them into a thing called a Pensieve and watch them, like watching a program on the telly. My father showed one to me once, of him and mother when they were younger."
"But, I'm not looking at a . . . what-ever-you-called-it."
"I know. It's coming to you in a dream. It's like the memory transferred, somehow, into your head."
"I don't know. But, we think it's coming from the wand, right? That's still our hypothesis. So, we just need to ask someone how to get a memory onto a wand."
"Who are we going to ask this time?"
"Any book I look up, any student I ask, is going to point me towards Pensieves. But we know this isn't from a Pensieve. You haven't even seen one.
"This isn't a run-of-the-mill problem. We're going to have to go to a teacher."
"Not Meadows. I already asked her a weird question. Philip did, actually, but I don't want her to be suspicious."
"Suspicious of what? We're just asking questions? Anyway, I wasn't thinking of her."
"Professor Gregor will know."
"Not him!" said Liam. "He'll know for sure what we're up to. He was mad that Cyrus had this wand in the first place. He didn't want me touching it again."
"When was this?" Liam told Sadie all he could remember about his first detention with Professor Gregor. Months had passed, though, and his memory was foggy. "He was worried. He kept talking about affinity. Affinity of wands."
Sadie's brow furrowed. "That's troublesome. But, I think it concerns Cyrus more than it concerns us. Still, I'll respect your wishes. Let's ask DeVere."
Liam gave her a worried look, but she pressed on before he could voice a rebuttal. "He's very smart! You have to be, to be Head of Ravenclaw. And, he likes you!. He'll answer your question the best that he can."
Who else were they to ask? Liam had to agree, this was their best chance. "All right. Let's ask him."
So, the following Tuesday, Liam and Sadie put all their concentration into making the best possible potion. At the end of the period, there was a look of immense pride on Professor DeVere's face as he reviewed their potion.
"That's what I expect from the two of you," he told them.
"Professor," said Sadie, "after class, would you have a moment? Liam and I had a question. We have a little side project we're working on."
"Splendid! I would be happy to help."
Once again, though they were the first ones finished, Liam and Sadie waited with their bags packed for everyone else to clear out of the classroom. Then, they went down to the front of the room to speak to DeVere.
The Professor sat down at a chair near his lectern. "What can I do for the two of you?"
"We were researching memories," said Sadie, "specifically, how wizards preserve them."
"I suppose you already know about Pensieves."
"Yes," said Sadie, and Liam nodded. "Are there other ways to capture and preserve a memory?"
DeVere nodded. "There are certain objects which make ideal receptacles for memories. I would recommend a diary or a journal - not an empty one, but one that was already full of written recollections. Such objects are full of sentiment. The magical memories attach to that embodied sentiment and are preserved, often for many decades. The only word of caution is this: that the transfer to another wizard from such a receptacle is also very easy."
Sadie and Liam exchanged glances. Liam figured it was his turn to ask the next question. "What about using something else?" he asked.
"What about a wand?"
Professor DeVere looked very keenly at him. "A wand?" DeVere got up and pulled an empty phial from the shelves behind his lectern. From his belt, he drew his wand. "You use your wand to extract the memory, like this." He tapped his head and pulled from his hair a silvery thread. With care, he dropped the thread into the vial. "That was a memory. From here, I can place the memory into a Pensieve or set it in a diary."
"But," said Sadie, "you wouldn't use a wand to actually hold the memory?"
"No. Wands are utterly inappropriate for such tasks. They are conduits of magic, not receptacles. Imagine taking something delicate, a piece of fine China, for instance, and trying to store it in the middle of a big motorway. Memories are fragile things - you saw the thin thread just now. The first spell you cast would destroy it."
Liam bit down on his lip, trying to hide his disappointment. "Is there anything else that you would use, Professor?" asked Sadie.
"It would need to be an object of great sentimental value - an heirloom of some kind. A piece of jewelry, perhaps, like a necklace or a ring."
Liam and Sadie exchanged glances. Liam shrugged, and Sadie nodded. "Thank you Professor. That was very helpful."
"Let me know when you have settled on your precious object and are ready to make your transfer. I can give you some pointers there, too."
Sadie blushed hotly. "Right now, we're just researching," said Liam. "Thank again, Professor."
The two made a hasty exit. Half way up the stairs to the main floor, they stopped on the landing.
"We're stuck," said Sadie.
"It's got to be the wand," said Liam "I know it is."
"But, he said it's impossible! It must be something else that you touched."
"No! The dragon is a Madagascan Red! Same as in the wand."
Sadie pulled in a deep breath and stared off into space. "Did Cyrus ever mention the wandmaker?"
Liam shook his head.
"Then we still have one more question we can try to answer."
"Who's gonna know? We can't just ask Kane. He won't tell us."
"There's someone else who'll know. But, you're not going to like me asking him. And honestly, I don't like the idea either. But I know he knows."
"Not Gregor. Umberto."
In the staff room, Professor Gregor was pouring himself a cup of coffee, when Professor DeVere entered the room. "Ah," said DeVere. "Just the man I was looking for. You told Sonja and I to keep an ear out for Liam Wren, or one of his proxies, coming 'round with a strange question well outside the scope of his studies? Well, I got a winner of one from him today . . ."
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