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Chapter 28 : A Logical Answer
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A Logical Answer
Everybody crowded around Lily anxious to see what was in the scroll case. She briefly admired the elegant etchings on the case before carefully opening it. Inside, like the silver scroll case, was a faded piece of parchment; the writing on it was barely legible.
Severus picked it up very carefully and read aloud, "While exploring the wild highlands of Ireland, Robert was captured by goblins. Grumpy, the chief of the goblins told him he was allowed one final statement on which would hinge how he would die. If the statement he made was false, he would be boiled in water. If the statement were true, he would be fried in oil. Robert did not like either option, so he made a statement that forced the goblins to release him. What is the one statement he could make to save himself?"
"Wow!" Pete said. "That's gonna be a pisser to solve!" He suddenly clamped both his hands over his mouth when he realized what he'd said. "Sorry, Professor!"
"No problem, Pete," Fleinhardt replied genially. "I've been teaching for a long time and believe me I've heard worse."
"Even if we figure out the answer to the riddle we've still got to figure out how it relates to the Grimoire and how it will lead us to the next clue," Frank remarked.
"It will be a challenge that's for sure," Lily said as Severus carefully laid the piece of parchment back inside the scroll case and she shut it tightly.
"If you children need any help," Fleinhardt offered. "I'm rather good at riddles."
"Well, this one's going to be much harder than the last one to solve so we may just take you up on your offer, Professor," Jane replied.
"You know where to find me if you do need help," he replied.
The children took the scroll case with the riddle safely enclosed inside and went to the Room of Requirement where Lily stored it safely with the other scroll case. Severus copied the riddle from memory onto a piece of parchment, enlarged it and stuck it on the wall of the room with a sticking charm. His gran had shown him how to do a simple sticking charm when he'd first gone to live with them so he put his stuff from home on the walls of his new room.
Remus studied the verse. "Rowena was really clever."
"It's a matter of logic," Irene said. "Most riddles are based on logic. In this case we need to examine Robert's choices and decide what his most logical course of action should be."
"That makes sense," Severus said, staring thoughtfully at the parchment.
"What are we going to do to protect ourselves once Potter and Black get their wands back?" Frank asked, changing the subject. "Since they know a counter to the Boomerang Charm."
"I don't think we need to stop using it," Caddaric said. "They're so arrogant they'll just assume we'll stop using it just because they know a counter."
"We could use a shield charm of some kind to double our protection," Dorian suggested.
"That's a good idea," Reg spoke up. "Maybe I could ask my dad to teach me a simple one over the holidays. Siri won't be home. He's already made it known he's planning to spend the holidays with the Potters."
"And your parents won't mind if he doesn't spend Christmas with his family?" Emily asked. She couldn't imagine leaving her mum alone at Christmas.
"No. They might be upset for a bit, but I think they'll mostly be relieved because all he'll do is sulk and pout anyway because he has to spend time with his family and that will upset mum something fierce."
Severus shook his head in disbelief. He couldn't imagine that either. If somebody gave him time to spend the holidays with his mum and dad he wouldn't hesitate for a moment. "That sounds like a good idea, Reg. Caddaric's right. They are arrogant enough to think exactly that."
"If they get out of line again I can always cast the Hell's Laughter spell on them," Remus added. "Both of them seemed pretty shaken by the nightmares they had."
Everybody laughed and then returned to their houses to get homework finished up and clothes ready for class tomorrow.
Lily and Alice returned to their dorm in Gryffindor Tower. Mary gave them a dirty look as they walked in. "I hope you're satisfied!" she snapped. "Because of you lot Jamie and Siri can't have their wands except in class and it'll be your fault if they get hurt because they don't have their wands to prevent it."
Lily snorted. "Maybe the dunderheads should quit hexing people!"
"They were protecting themselves from being bullied by you, Snivellus, and your other evil friends! I'll be glad when Professor Dumbledore's back so he can stop you lot from hexing us unlike McGonagall who lets you get away with murder!"
"Stuff it, MacDonald!" Alice snapped. "Dumbledore kisses the ground the Bloody Bragging Brats walk on! Those two gits have bullied Lily since the first day she stepped foot in here and then bullied anybody who tried to help her so they deserve to have their wands taken away!"
"She deserved getting made fun of! She was always losing us points with her stupidity."
"And like you didn't lose us any points with all those potions you've messed up?" Lily snapped.
"That was entirely Snivellus' fault. He cast a dark spell on me to make me fail Potions, I told mum and dad that, but they wouldn't believe me."
"Like anybody with half a brain cell would believe that tripe," Alice snorted. She plopped down on her bed and looked over at Lily, ignoring Mary. "Are you going to spend some of the holidays with Sev at Mirrorvale like last year?"
"He hasn't said anything, but I hope so," Lily replied. "Marius and Vesper are like the grandparents I never had."
"Figures a dumb Muggleborn would think a dark witch and wizard were nice grandparents," Mary sneered.
"Shut it, MacDonald or I'll turn your big mouth into a zipper and put a padlock on it," Lily threatened.
"I hope he invites us again this summer. I really had a good time, especially playing two-on-two Quidditch," Alice said.
"So did Remus, Pete, and Dorian from what Sev said."
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Severus meanwhile had gone back to study the riddle again and to his surprise he found Emily and Remus there too.
"I think the clue is in how he words his statement," Remus said.
"Yes, I see what you mean, Remus," Severus replied. "Irene's right. He has to use logic."
"You mean he has to word it so he isn't lying, but not telling the truth either so they wouldn't be able to kill him either way?" Emily asked, frowning.
"Yes, I believe so," Remus replied.
"Hmm …" Severus murmured. "This is going to be a tough one."
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Charles Potter had invited the three Gryffindor Board members to lunch at the most exclusive restaurant in Diagon Alley, called The Gourmet Galleon. He figured it was well worth the money he'd have to pay for their lunches if they came up with a plan to lessen the influence of the Slytherins already on the Board, particularly Marius Prince.
At least one of the governors, Nigel Tuttingham, was uneasy with Potter's invitation. It didn't seem quite ethical to him, but he figured he could have an excellent lunch at Potter's expense, listen to what he had to say, and make his decision afterwards. The other two governors, Benjamin Ashburton and Colin Bottsford seemed not to have a problem with the invitation.
"I'm so happy you gentleman could join me for lunch today," Charles said as he unfolded the fine damask napkin and laid it carefully across his lap.
"What is it you wished to discuss, Mr. Potter?" Tuttingham asked as he studied the menu. "You know we cannot discuss anything that's currently before the board and that does include Dumbledore's suspension."
"Come on, Nigel," Ashburton joked. "We're having lunch not being interrogated."
Charles and Bottsford laughed at Ashburton's joke, but Tuttingham frowned.
The waitress appeared bringing them a pot of the restaurant's premium and most expensive tea and then took their orders. When they were served and had begun eating, Charles cleared his throat and said, "What I wanted to discuss is how to lessen the Slytherin influence on Hogwarts. As you're already aware, I'm sure, their decisions have a major influence on what gets funded."
"Of course," Bottsford nodded. "Such as last year when additional funding was proposed for the Quidditch budget and they, together with the Ravenclaws, voted it down in favor of extra funding for the library." He saw Tuttingham frowning and said, "Do lighten up, Nigel. This was last year's business and it does no harm to speak of it now."
"There was nothing wrong with increasing the funding for the library," Tuttingham protested. "We do want Hogwarts' academic reputation to be the very best."
"Of course we do," Charles interjected. "But what if there were five Gryffindor governors, three Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws and only one Slytherin?" Charles proposed. "I'm willing to bet you could get funding for some of the things you want to see."
"Like more funding for Quidditch," Ashburton said. "After all, Gryffindor house should be the main supplier of Quidditch players to the national teams, but we can't do that with old, broken down school brooms, Snitches that can barely fly, and Quaffles and Bludgers that are unraveling at the seams!"
"You can't change that, Charles," Tuttingham objected. "You would end up throwing the entire school dynamics into chaos!"
"The next time one of the Slytherins is up for re-appointment we'll make our move," Charles said, ignoring Tuttingham. He didn't need him anyway when he had Ashburton and Bottsford eating out of his hand.
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Marius was sitting behind his richly appointed oak desk, writing a letter to Severus when there was a knock on his door and his secretary, Isolda, peeked in. "Excuse me, Lord Prince, but there's a gentleman wanting to see you, a Mr. Tuttingham, but he doesn't have an appointment."
"That's quite all right, Isolda. Please send him in."
Nigel Tuttingham walked in. He extended his hand and said, "My apologies for disturbing you, Marius, but I felt you needed to know this."
Marius stood up and shook Nigel's hand. "Quite all right, Nigel. Have a seat and tell me what's troubling you." He sat down behind his desk and folded his hands.
Nigel told him about the luncheon and what had been discussed. Isolda brought in the tea cart and quietly left again.
Marius shook his head. "I fear Charles Potter will never give up! He wants to turn Hogwarts into a Quidditch camp and damn our reputation as the top magical school in academics!"
"I think he wants you off the board mainly," Nigel said as he sipped his tea.
"I expect he blames me for Albus' suspension."
"He shouldn't. It was a fair vote to suspend Albus."
"Speaking of Albus, I received an owl from him saying he has decided not to come back until after the first of the year. I've already informed Minerva and I'm planning to inform the rest of the governors at the meeting Tuesday night."
"That's odd. I thought he'd Apparate directly to his office the very second his suspension expired."
"Well, I suspect he's hoping for some disaster to take place while Minerva's in charge so he can say I told you so," Marius replied.
Nigel sighed, put his cup back on the tea cart. "Albus is very like a child sometimes." He got up. "Well, I must be going. Eugenie is expecting me at home as the grandchildren are coming over this evening."
Marius rose. "I am meeting Vesper shortly. She's planning to start her Christmas shopping and wants my opinion on the gifts," he said chuckling. "Although I think she does just fine without it." He shook Nigel's hand. "Thank you for your timely information. I think we may need to confront Mr. Ashburton and Mr. Bottsford at the next meeting."
After Nigel left, Marius sat thinking for a few moments about the information Nigel had brought him and then got up. He folded the half written letter and placed it in his pocket. He would finish it tonight at home and owl to Severus in the morning. Marius donned his heavy outer cloak and bade Isolda goodnight as he wouldn't be returning to his office. Black Leif got up from the position he always occupied in the outer office and silently followed Marius out.
Vesper was meeting him in Madam Malkin's which fortunately was next door to Gringotts. It had definitely grown colder since this morning, Marius noted as he stepped out of Gringotts. He found Vesper looking at robes when he entered the shop. Black Conor was with her and looked rather bemused as she held up various robes for his inspection.
"Hello, my dear," he said giving her a kiss on her cheek.
"Hello, darling." She pulled an emerald green dress robe off the rack and held it up for Marius' inspection. "What do you think about this for Lily?"
"Well, I think it will go very nicely with her hair and eyes, but why are you buying it now? As I recall they won't be allowed to go to the Yule Ball until fourth year so they won't need dress robes until then."
"I'm buying it because Lily is becoming an attractive young lady, Marius, and I'm hoping our grandson will notice."
Marius chuckled and teased. "Why Vesper, you aren't planning to play matchmaker for Sev are you? He's only twelve."
"Nearly thirteen, Marius and around the time young men start looking at the girls around them in a different light and I do recall a young Slytherin who almost lost the girl because he was too reticent to tell her how he really felt."
"I don't have any idea who you might be referring to, Vesper."
"I just don't want Sev to miss out on what's right in front of his eyes."
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James was chortling at the message he received from his father.
"Good news?" Sirius asked.
"The best!" James crowed. "Dad met with the three Gryffindor governors and they're going to get the Slytherins off the board except for one and you can bet it won't be Snivellus' grandfather!"
"All the better!" Sirius sneered. "So when's it gonna happen?"
"Well, they have to wait until their term is up before they can make their move, but dad says it won't be long. He said once there's more Gryffindor Governors we can get the funding we need for Quidditch."
"Whatever else they do they definitely need to get Snivellus' grandfather off the Board; he's the main troublemaker."
"Abraxas Malfoy too. I don't know why they ever let a supporter of the dark arts on the board in the first place," James grumbled.
"Because he has a lot of this," Sirius answered sarcastically rubbing his fingers together.
The next morning Minerva gave James and Sirius their wands and informed them they didn't need to turn them back into her after their last class. "But if I hear any complaints from anyone about miscast spells or hexes," She warned them. "Your wands will be mine until the end of the year!"At breakfast Minerva tapped her goblet with her knife and said, "May I have your attention, please?"
Everybody stopped eating or talking and looked up at her. "I received word from the Board of Governors yesterday that Headmaster Dumbledore will not be returning …"
"What!" Both James and Sirius screamed, jumping to their feet. James shook his fist at the Slytherin table. "This is all your fault, Snivellus; yours and your stupid grandfather's!"
"My grandfather isn't stupid!" Severus yelled back. "Your father's nothing but a big bully and so are you, Potter!"
Minerva used the Sonorus Charm to make herself heard over their squabbling. "If you'll sit down and allow me to finish, Mr. Potter, Mr. Black, and Mr. Snape I'll explain further."
They sat down, but James was still glaring angrily at Severus and he was glaring angrily back at James.
Minerva placed her wand at her throat and said, "Quietus." She glared at James and Sirius. "What I was trying to say is that the Headmaster will not be retuning until after the holidays. Ten points from Gryffindor for yours and Mr. Black's unruly outburst, Mr. Potter."
The rest of the table glared at James and Sirius for losing them ten points. They would never be able to win the House Cup if those two jerks kept losing points!
The Gryffindors were still grumbling and giving James and Sirius dirty looks as they left the Great Hall to go to class.
"I don't know why McGonagall didn't take points from the snakes," James complained angrily. "Snivellus had a lot of nerve insulting my dad!"
"I think she favors Snivellus; she thinks the greasy haired git is a genius," Sirius growled. "Even though he's barely competent at Transfiguration."
"At least we have our wands back now," James remarked.
"But McGonagall's got the hairy eye on us. Are we going to watch the Hufflepuff versus Ravenclaw game on Saturday?" Sirius asked.
"Naw. Who wants to watch the dumb 'Puffs play against a bunch of bookworms! I'm surprised they can come out from behind their books long to play," James sneered.
"Yeah, it's bound to be a pretty boring game," Sirius agreed. "Neither team has the killer spirit."
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Severus, Lily, Frank, Remus, Pete, Alice, Emily, and Jane all kept their eyes on James and Sirius and protected themselves with the Boomerang Charm now that the two gits had their wands back.
"Professor McGonagall did warn them about using their wands responsibly or she wouldn't hesitate to take them away again. I overheard Potter and Black complaining about it when they thought I was asleep," Peter said when they met in the Room of Requirement that night.
"Use them responsibly!" Irene scoffed. "They think it's their responsibility to make our lives miserable!"
"Well, at least the headmaster won't be back until after the holidays and all the professors will be keeping an eye on those two," Lily said.
"My brothers threatened to stomp on them if they cast anymore hexes on me," Caddaric remarked.
"I hope they do!" Reg grumbled. "Siri needs to be cut down to size along with Pothead."
"Let's not waste anymore time talking about those arses," Jane said. "Does anybody have any ideas about the riddle?"
"Remus thought that it depends on how he answers the riddle. He has to answer it in a way that keeps him out of the pot and out of the frying pan," Emily said.
"He needs to use logic," Severus added.
"Like when the eagle on our entrance way asks us a question to get inside our house," Irene said. "You give it your answer and it either says 'well reasoned' and lets you inside or it will say 'try again'." She studied the riddle intently. "What if he says you will boil me in water? The goblins would be facing a quandary because if they do boil him water that would make his statement true, but that means they should fry him in oil yet if they do that it will make his final statement false. They can't find a way around it so they're forced to let him go."
"Brilliant, Irene!" Remus said.
"Okay, but how does it relate to the next clue we're supposed to find?" Frank asked.
"Well, that's the next thing we have to figure out," Alice said.
A/N: I would like to thank my co-author, Alethea27, for continuing to write this story and doing a great job of it. My mom passed away two weeks ago and I am still in mourning and cannot write the way I used to. Right now I am only able to update one story, UnVeiled, though I hope to return to update my other ones before too long. I haven't abandoned them by any means, I just need time to work through my loss, so please be patient.
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