Chapter 26 : Riddle Me This
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Riddle Me This
Dumbledore looked up at Marius, shock plainly on his face. He then smiled and said, "I believe I didn't hear you correctly, Marius."
"I think you did, Albus," Marius countered. "Starting tomorrow you're suspended for a month. Minerva will be taking your place and Filius will be filling in temporarily as Deputy Headmaster."
"If this is about what happened at the Halloween Feast I can assure you that James and Sirius have been punished most severely not only here, but at home as well. I personally spoke with Charles and Mavis Potter and they are most unhappy with James and did see to his punishment."
Marius highly doubted that, but he didn't voice his thoughts aloud. "It makes no difference, Albus. You've allowed those two boys to run wild since their first day here, bullying and terrorizing other students and this is where it has finally led."
Albus got up from behind his desk. "I'll do as you and the other board members request for the good of the school, but you do know your grandson had a major part in forcing James and Sirius to the point where they were unfortunately forced to seek a spell from Sirius' cousin in order to protect them?"
"I aware that there were many hexes cast between Severus and his friends and Misters Potter and Black in the weeks leading up to Halloween and I will be talking with Severus about that when I see him tonight."
After he left Albus' office he went down to the dungeon to see Horace and get permission to see Sev. Horace inhabited a large office with a big fireplace and comfortable furniture. Marius knocked on the door. "Lord Prince, please come in. Can I offer you a cup of tea? One of my former students, Serafina Gudehool; she owns that new tea shop in Diagon Alley, Tea and Serenity, and sends me a new tea every month. This month's is Peach Flambé."
"I believe I could use a cup of tea right now, Horace," answered Marius with a nod.
Horace poured a cup of tea and handed it to him. "I assume you're here to see Severus?"
"Yes. I needed to come to Hogwarts tonight so his grandmother charged me with seeing he got a tin of his favorite blueberry scones."
"I'll go and get him. You can use this office if you like."
"Thank you very much, Horace."
Marius stood up as the door opened. Severus came in and launched himself at Marius. "Grandpa!" He gave him a tight hug. "I miss you and Gran so much!"
"We miss you too, Sev, as do Arlo and Mitzi."
"How come you're at Hogwarts, Grandpa?"
"I had some board business here tonight and your grandmother wished me to deliver some of your favorite blueberry scones that Mitzi baked." He took a small tin out of his pocket and resized it until it was longer and deeper and then handed it to Severus.
Severus opened it and smiled as he saw all the scones. He loved Mitzi's scones and always looked forward to her baking them.
"She made more than usual as she remembered you would be sharing them with your friends."
"Tell Gran and Mitzi I said thanks, Grandpa."
"I will," Marius promised. "But there's something else I need to talk with you about, Sev."
"Okay," Severus replied. He had a feeling it was going to be about the Minister of Magic being hexed.
"I understand there's been quite a prank war going on for the last few weeks."
"Potter and Black started it. First they cast a Pee-Your-Pants hex on Pete in Defense just because he has asthma and can't do some of the spells as well as them; it was just done to humiliate him. Next they cast some hex on Lily and I that made us forget everything we learned for the whole day. Black got it from his cousin like he did the spell he used on me last year that landed me in the Hospital Wing. That hex they used on Halloween was probably hers too. We just wanted to prank them back for the things they did to all of us; show them how it feels. None of our pranks were bad or harmful like theirs were. We're tired of being their victims, Grandpa."
"I know it's hard, Sev and I know they deserved to be pranked, but I can't allow my grandson to be breaking the rules either. I understand one of your friends knows a repelling charm of some sort?"
"Yes, Caddaric's uncle showed him it. It's called the Boomerang Charm and it turns any spell someone tries to cast on you back on them ...well, not an Unforgiveable, of course."
"I suggest you and your friends forget about any further pranks on Potter and Black and continue to use that charm instead. I would bet one of my vaults at Gringotts that they will want revenge for the punishment they believe is everybody else's fault except theirs and they'll end up looking thoroughly ridiculous and stupid if they do try something."
"Okay, Grandpa I promise no more pranking Potter and Black. We'll stick to using the Boomerang Charm only," Severus said.
"Good boy. Now give me a hug and one for your grandmother," Marius said.
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James and Sirius were sulking in their dorm room. They were alone; Remus, Frank, and Peter having gone somewhere else.
"I can't believe McGonagall would rather we obey some stupid rule and lose to those rotten snakes than ignore it and let her best team member play," James whined.
"Yeah," Sirius said. "My dad's always going on how Quidditch-crazy she is, but she must be getting loopy in her old age 'cuz we are gonna lose without you, mate!"
"We need to find some way to get back at that lot. I want revenge! It's their faults I'm missing the first game of the season and it's going to be their faults when Gryffindor loses!"
"I don't want to ask Bella for any more spells and get her in trouble," Sirius said glumly. "I guess we could try seeing if there's a spellbook in the library with good spells."
"I guess we could since there doesn't seem to be another choice."
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All the friends were on the seventh floor in the Room of Requirement. They were sharing the blueberry scones Severus grandmother had baked for him with a pitcher of pumpkin juice. Severus had told them what his grandfather had said. "Even though we were defending ourselves, we were still breaking the rules. He said to keep using the Boomerang Charm because he's sure Potter and Black will blame us for their detentions and missing the first Quidditch match and want revenge."
"I know James and Sirius are still mad; they're giving us dirty looks and mumbling all the time," Remus said. "Sev's grandfather is right; they blame us and want revenge."
"Huh! You wouldn't expect them to admit they were wrong, would you, Remus?" Alice asked.
"Potter's snorting fire because he thinks our team can't possibly win against Slytherin without him," Frank snorted. "It'll be a big kick in his arse if we do!"
"I swear his head is so big I don't know he gets through the doorways!" Lily snapped.
Severus smirked. "I hope when Slughorn has you brew a Swelling Solution, nobody accidently drips any on Potter's head."
"How much bigger could his head get?" Irene laughed. "It's already bigger than Jupiter now."
Everyone laughed and returned to their study of the riddle inside the scroll case.
"Kings and lords and Christians raise them. Since they stand for higher power. Yet few of them would stand, I'm certain, if women ruled this world of ours," Lily read aloud. Her face suddenly lit up. "How about a tower? Mum sent me an article about the Twin Towers in New York City and that's why I'm thinking of a tower."
"Twin Towers?" Caddaric asked blankly.
"Wait a minute," Lily said and slipped out of the room. She was back in a few minutes with the clipping Hyacinth had sent her and passed it around. "They're the tallest building in the world and over a hundred floors in each building. The American Muggles started building them in 1966 and finished in 1970."
"Muggles really are more advanced than us," Dorian commented when he finished reading the article. "I don't know how these purebloods can say that Muggleborns and Muggles are stupid."
"Well, if Potter, Black, Avery, and the Lestrange's are examples of supposed pureblood superiority I think the Wizarding World is in serious trouble," Severus joked.
"If the riddle does mean a tower and it makes sense given that Hogwarts has at least three towers," Pete said. "What tower does it point to?"
"Helga told us that Rowena spent a lot of time in Gryffindor Tower," Alice said. "But I don't really think she'd hide anything there."
"And hiding it in Ravenclaw Tower would be too obvious," Irene added.
"What about the Astronomy Tower?" Pete asked.
"Given her known interest in Astronomy and Astrology I think that it's more likely than the other two places," Caddaric said. "Besides it's the tallest tower in Hogwarts."
"How are we going to search it?" Frank asked. "The classroom is always kept locked for safety reasons by Professor Fleinhardt."
"Maybe, we could tell Professor Fleinhardt about the Grimoire and why we're looking for it," Remus suggested. "He seems like a really nice guy I don't think he'd go blabbing to Dumbledore and I don't think he really likes James, Sirius, or MacDonald because they're always disrupting class."
"I think we might need to do more research and maybe talk to Helga again before we decide our next move," Severus suggested.
"I agree," Emily said. "We don't know what we're even looking for. Is it the Grimoire itself or another riddle we have to solve to find the Grimoire?"
"Merlin forbade if it is!" Jane exclaimed with a roll of her eyes. "We've had enough trouble figuring out this one and we don't know for sure if a tower is even the right answer."
"Do you think we should talk to Rowena's portrait?" Lily asked Irene. "Would she tell us anything or would she be angry with us for helping her daughter?"
"I guess we should try and talk to her," Irene said. "The worse she can do is to refuse to answer our questions."
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The next morning at breakfast the students saw immediately that the Headmaster was missing. This was unusual as he was always one of the first at breakfast. Once all the houses were present Minerva tapped on her goblet with her knife and said, "May I have your attention, please." Everybody stopped talking and looked up at her as she stood up. "Professor Dumbledore has decided to take a short sabbatical. While he's gone, I will be in charge and if you need to see me, you will find me in my regular office. Thank you."
Everybody started whispering, but the arrival of the mail owls interrupted the speculations. The Potter family owl glided over to the Gryffindor table and landed in front of James.
Minerva leaned towards Horace and whispered, "I'll bet you a Sickle that letter is telling Mr. Potter about Albus' suspension."
Horace chuckled. "That a sucker's bet, Minerva. They were the first people Albus complained to I'm sure." He chuckled again and asked. "By the way, are you going to be sitting in the 'throne' while he's gone?"
Minerva looked distastefully at large chair Albus normally occupied and shook her head. "I believe I'll pass on that experience, Horace."
"This is rubbish!" James yelled, his cry echoing through the hall. He threw down his letter in disgust.
"Jamie, what's wrong?" Mary asked alarmed.
"My godfather's been suspended by the board and it's all those rotten Slytherins' faults!"
"I'm so sorry, Jamie," Mary gushed sympathetically.
"Mate, the Slytherins will be taking over the school now without Dumbledore to hold them back," Sirius said alarmed. "McGonagall's not strong enough to hold them back."
"Maybe, our entire house should owl our parents and ask them to write the governors to protest their decision," Mary suggested.
"Lot of good that will do," Sirius mumbled glaring at the Slytherin table across the room.
Over at the Slytherin table, the students were just as shocked as the rest of the school was. Dorian leaned over to Severus. "That must be why your grandfather was here last night, Sev."
"Yeah, he must have drawn the fun job of telling Dumbledore," Tav added.
"Dumbledore brought it on himself," Severus pointed out. "He's allowed Potter and Black to run wild ever since their first day and even rewarded them for being bad."
"I don't know what Potter expected after the Minister got hexed," Reg whispered. "She was furious when it happened. Mum and Dad were livid with him too! Mum owled me that Dad really laid into Sirius' bum with his ruler."
"I suggest all of us keep eyes on the students," Minerva said. "I have an uneasy feeling there's going to be even more trouble between Gryffindor and Slytherin with the Ravenclaw's and Hufflepuff's unavoidably drawn into it."
"Yes, I certainly don't want any fights erupting in Potions," Horace remarked with a shake of his head.
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James and Sirius were in the library looking at spellbooks, but they could find nothing that satisfied them. "There's just nothing as good as the spells Bella comes up with," Sirius complained.
"I know," James replied. "I want something really embarrassing to cast at them. Something that makes the professors send them out of the room and have everybody else mad or laughing at them. They deserve it for getting Godfather Albus suspended."
"Before we find a good spell to use on them, we need to find a spell that gets rid of a previous spell first," Sirius said.
"Huh?" James said.
"They're using some kind of shield charm. Remember when we cast the Medusa Hex on them how it bounced off them and hit us?"
"Yeah, but how would they know about that? We don't even learn about shield charms until fourth or fifth year."
"Probably Snivellus. He knows more curses than most seventh years. His grandfather and his mum were both snakes; they probably taught him a lot of dark stuff."
"Hey," James said pulling a book off the shelf. "Have you looked through this one?"
"No. What's it called?"
"The Dictionary of Obscure Spells," James replied. They took it over to a table and spent a half-hour looking at the spell it contained and laughing at some of them. "Look at this one, Siri. You cast it on somebody and they get fleas. The incantation is Pulex Oppugno."
Sirius grinned. "I'd love to see Snivellus, Silly Lily, Starkey, Longboob, Lupin and Pee-Pee dancing around and scratching themselves everywhere."
"And my bloody cousin, but we still have to find a way to get rid of those shields or else we'll be the ones dancing and scratching," James pointed out.
"Well, maybe I could mail Bella and ask her how to get rid of a shield charm," Sirius replied. "I'll tell her we need it to be on equal ground."
"Sounds good to me," James said.
"I want to embarrass the hell out of them so let's do it in the Great Hall after Bella sent you the spell for getting rid of their shields."
Sirius rubbed his hands together. "I would love to see the little prince dancing around scratching his arse and crotch at the same time!"
"We'll have to hide somewhere and get them as they're going into the Great Hall and then immediately do another spell with our wands so they won't be able to prove we did it if they take our wands."
"Good idea, James. If they can't prove it I won't have to worry about mum or dad spanking me again."
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Irene, Lily, and Alice visited Rowena's portrait the next night in Ravenclaw's common room. She looked very stern and they all felt a bit intimidated about approaching her.
"Excuse me, Lady Ravenclaw?" Irene said.
Rowena opened her eyes and looked down at the girls. "What is it you require of me?"
"We wanted to ask you about the clues you left for finding the Grimoire of Elements," Irene said and then hurried on before her courage failed her. "We found the first clue you left in the silver scroll case in the black oak and we've decided that the answer to the riddle is a tower. We think the riddle is pointing us to the Astronomy Tower, but we don't know if we should be looking for the Grimoire itself or another riddle that will eventually lead us to the Grimoire."
"Why do you want the Grimoire?" Rowena asked, opening her eyes and looking down at them.
Lily spoke up, "The ghosts, including your daughter, asked for our help in finding it. We know it's a very powerful magical object and we don't want it to fall into the wrong hands where it will be misused. Once we find it, we're planning to give it to Helena and she can do whatever she sees fit with it."
Rowena's smiled for the first time. It was so refreshing to hear the honesty of children. She knew over the years many had sought the Grimoire and its power. She recalled one wizard in particular who had been most persistent in trying to find out where the Grimoire was hidden. She had ignored him and refused to reveal anything, sensing his darkness and his selfish reasons for wanting it. "What you seek is hidden by a series of clues. When you discover the answer to the last one you shall be able to seek the Grimoire."
"Thank you, Lady Ravenclaw," Irene said, bowing her head.
As they left Ravenclaw Tower Alice said, "But we still don't know how many riddles we have to solve before we can find the Grimoire."
"I think that's probably all we're going to get out of her," Irene said. "She's not going to make it too easy for us."
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James was pouting after coming in from Quidditch practice. He had to be there yet he wasn't allowed to fly; he just had to sit on a bench and watch while the rest of the team practiced. There was absolutely no way he could be in the first game with his godfather gone and McGonagall as temporary headmistress!
"Hey, Jamie, good news!" Sirius called as he walked into the dorm. "I got an owl from Bella while you were at practice. She sent us the charm for getting rid of the shield. It's Dissolutus. Those doofuses will be sorry they ever messed with us!"
James smiled feeling much better. Snivellus and the rest of them were going to get theirs and get it good! "Yeah, they'll be itching so badly and the best thing is they all think the fleas came from Snivvy's mangy cat!
The next morning James and Sirius hid in an alcove that was near the Great Hall. James cast the Dissolutus spell at each of the friends as they walked past and Sirius cast Pulex Oppugno (flea attack) hex at each of them. After the last spell, they spent a few minutes casting a spell they'd just learned in Charms that week.
Remus began squirming about uncomfortably. "I don't know what it is, but my back itches something awful!"
Peter was itching too, but it was somewhere he couldn't scratch in public.
Frank kept scratching his head; Lily was scratching her arm. Alice jumped up suddenly with a scream. "Something's on me! I can feel it jumping around on me!"
Over at the Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff tables, the same thing was happening.
"Maybe we caught something. Don't you itch with Dragon Pox?" Emily asked worriedly.
"Can't be Dragon Pox," Severus said sticking his hand down the back of his neck. "We were vaccinated against it last year."
"What the heck is it then?" Dorian asked. "I itch as bad as when I got the measles when I was five!"
Tav saw a black speck jump off Reg and onto the table. "It's fleas!" He yelled jumping up. "We've all got fleas!"
James and Sirius walked into the Great Hall and stopped short as they saw what was happening. This was even better than they had imagined as they watched everybody moving away from Silly Lily, Starkey, Longboob, Pee-Pee, and Lupin. The kids at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables were doing the same to Diggory and old bed head Goshawk and even the Slytherins were vacating the table like rats from a sinking ship to get away from their flea-infested housemates.
The Prefects got the children up and away from everybody else. "Take them to Madam Pomfrey," the Head Boy ordered.
"How could they have fleas, Minerva?" Pomona demanded. "None of them had fleas at the beginning of the year and Hogwarts has never had a flea infestation."
"Perhaps we should follow the students to the Hospital Wing and find out what Madam Pomfrey has to say," Horace suggested.
A/N: Special thanks go out to my coauthor for writing this chapter and the next one, since my mother is back in the hospital with a bad allergic reaction to some med.
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