Chapter 35 : The Two-fold Riddle
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The Two-fold Riddle
A/N: Some more Professor L.F. for MySlytherinLovelies. Thanks to Snapegirl for letting me borrow her Excavato spell and for the final riddle.
"They come to witness the night without being called, a sailor's guide and a poet's tears. They are lost to sight each day without the hand of a thief."
Irene gazed at the riddle. "Well, it definitely has something to do with the stars since it says about being a sailor's guide."
"And the line about being lost to sight each day. You can't see stars during the day even though they're always in the sky," Lily agreed.
"I don't know," Severus said studying the riddle. "Sailors once used a sextant to take navigational readings by the stars in the old days."
"Does that mean we need this sext …whatever you said, Sev, to find the next riddle?" Pete asked.
"I'm probably interpreting it too literally, Pete," Severus admitted.
"Since it appears to do with stars again; why don't we talk to Professor Fleinhardt?" Alice suggested. "He helped us a lot last time and he never said anything to Dumbledore so I think we can trust him."
"I think Alice has a good idea," Caddaric said. "I mean if this riddle means we have to use a star chart or something to find the next riddle, we're probably going to need his help."
"Good idea, Caddaric," Tav said.
The next morning Reg returned to Hogwarts. He thanked everybody for the get well card they'd sent to his father. "Dad really liked your card and he asked me to thank you for him."
"We're just glad he's feeling better," Lily said.
"His Healer said he could come home next week, but he can't go back to work for another couple of weeks and he'll be on desk duty, I guess."
"That's good to know," Severus replied.
"Thanks too for keeping me updated on the Grimoire of Elements mystery while I was gone."
"No problem. How is Sirius doing?" Remus asked.
"I think what happened to Dad knocked him for a loop. He's believed for so long that mum and dad were dark and now he's finding out a Slytherin is willing to save Muggles."
"I'll bet my cousins Mavis and Charles don't believe your dad's a hero," Irene said. "I'll bet they're grumbling and grumping about it."
"Well, who cares what the Potters think! I'm proud of my dad and I think Siri is too," Reg stated.
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Ian and Miranda Goshawk came through the Floo into Potter Manor. They had received an invitation to dinner with Mavis and Charles. "I wonder what they want now," Ian muttered to his wife. He didn't care for his wife's cousin, her snooty husband, or their bratty, spoiled son.
"I don't know, but it's probably not going to be anything good," Miranda whispered back. "And try not to bring up the subject of James getting suspended."
"It will be hard, but I'll try."
Mavis and Charles met them and led them into their drawing room for before dinner drinks. James was nowhere to be seen for which both Miranda and Ian were thankful.
They made small talk over drinks and appetizers before one of their house elves popped in to announce dinner was ready.
Mavis led them into the dining room where the table was set with her best Brussels lace tablecloth, china, cutlery and crystal glasses. Ian seated Miranda while Charles seated Mavis. Miranda unfolded her napkin and placed it on her lap and asked, "Where's James this evening? Will he be joining us?"
"No, the poor dear's been studying so hard we've given him the night off to do as he wishes and he decided to do some extra practice with his Quidditch coach." Mavis replied. She rang a small bell sitting beside her plate. A parade of elves suddenly appeared, each carrying a tray. A platter of Cornish hens, a bowl of mashed potatoes, and other succulent smelling dishes appeared on the table. They helped themselves to the food and Charles poured them each a glass of the wine he had shipped directly from a vineyard he co-owned in France.
"We asked you to dinner, Miranda and Ian, because we're very concerned about the children Irene has befriended," Charles began. "We feel that they are a bad influence on Irene."
"And a dark influence no doubt with those six Slytherins," Mavis added.
"We just don't want her to get on the wrong track – one that could lead to a bad ending and completely embarrass us," Charles finished.
"They've taught her so many nasty spells and …" Mavis began.
Ian rose up from his chair angrily. "How dare you imply that our daughter could embarrass you in any way when your son has already provided you and us with the maximum of embarrassment?"
"I wouldn't expect you to understand what I'm talking about coming from the house you did," Charles said.
"And what's supposed to mean?" Ian demanded while Miranda glared angrily at her older cousin.
"Isn't Hufflepuff the house that believes everybody should have a second chance and that nobody's inherently evil?" Charles sneered.
"And Ravenclaws sit in their ivory towers and pay no attention to anything going on around them," Mavis added. "If they can't find it in a book, it doesn't exist."
"You always were jealous over the fact I was sorted into Ravenclaw while you were sorted into Gryffindor," Miranda said to Mavis. "And you've never had anything nice to say about any of the houses except Gryffindor."
"And it's always griped you to no end, Charles, that Orion Black was accepted into the Auror Academy and you flunked their psychological tests and were rejected," Ian added, tossing his napkin down. "Come on, Miranda. We're leaving."
"I never expected this from you, Mavis," Miranda said reproachfully before following her husband out of the room. He was waiting by the fireplace for her. "I've never felt so insulted in my entire life!"
"Well, you know what the Muggles say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions," Ian replied. They stepped into the fireplace and flooed home.
James flooed home a few minutes later and yelled, "Mum, what's for dinner? I'm starving!"
"In the dining room, darling," Mavis called.
James came in still dressed in his Quidditch uniform and holding his broom. He dropped his broom and his other gear in the entrance way for the elves to pick up and sat down at the table. "Did you have company?" He asked grabbing food off the platters and piling it on his plate. "This is pretty fancy food."
"We had Miranda and Ian over briefly, but they took offense and left without finishing dinner," Mavis said.
"Well, they're really stupid then because this tastes great," James said stuffing his face. "They should have waited until after dinner to get mad and leave."
"Yes, they should have, Jamie," Charles replied with a chuckle and took a sip of his wine.
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Professor Fleinhardt studied the riddle the children had brought him. "Well, you're absolutely right. It refers to a star or stars, but we don't know what star, what month or time of night it's visible." He thought about it for a few minutes and then said, "The only thing to do is to cast a spell over this piece of parchment to see if Lady Ravenclaw wrote anything besides the riddle. It won't hurt the parchment, but it will reveal if there's any further information to be had." Professor Fleinhardt took his wand out of his robe and waved it over the parchment while saying, "Denudo Clandestinus." He put his wand away again and looked at the parchment. "Ah yes! Here we go. Some coordinates are written underneath the riddle." He picked it up and then went over to his bookshelf, searched his shelves for a few seconds before pulling out a book. "What we must do now is convert Lady Ravenclaw's ancient coordinates into modern ones and then locate the modern ones on a star chart to find out what star she's referring to." He opened the book on a table across from his desk.
"Are you sure we'll be able to find the right star that she wants us to find, Professor?" Frank asked. "Won't the stars have changed their position in nine centuries?"
"The stars' positions do change. Their right ascension and declination changes about 1.4 degrees every century and so we must include that factor in our calculations, Mr. Longbottom," Fleinhardt explained. He wrote down some figures as the children watched. "Now I know this is probably confusing to you because it does involve usage of Muggle mathematics which only Miss Evans might be familiar with."
Lily shook her head. "I only had the very basics, Professor."
After consulting the parchment, his book, scribbling down figures and then crossing them out, Fleinhardt finally came up with acceptable modern coordinates and went over to the star chart pinned on his wall behind his desk. He looked at his figures and searched the chart, using his index finger and a ruler to trace the coordinates on the map. "Ah! Here we go! Very clever of Lady Ravenclaw!" Fleinhardt exclaimed. "The star the coordinates refer to suggests strongly the star Capella. It's the largest and brightest star in the constellation Auriga the Charioteer. Fortunately for us, it's visible all year round; it's best seen at around ten o'clock."
"Blast!" Severus muttered. "Curfew for us is at nine."
"I can write a note to all your Heads of House and tell them you're working on a special astronomy assignment for extra credit," Fleinhardt offered.
"I think that would be a great idea," Reg said. "If we find the next clue fast it may lead us finally to the Grimoire of Elements."
"Well, we have to find it first, Reg and solve it," Severus said. "But hopefully it will be the last one and we can find the Grimoire especially before school is out."
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Orion came home a week later. Once he was settled in his bed he gave a sigh of relief. "Merlin! It's good to be home, Walla. I missed you so much."
Walburga sat down beside him. "I missed you too, Orion … terribly. I was terrified when I saw Rufus. I thought for sure he was going to tell me you had been killed on assignment."
"I was careless, Walla. I was so involved in saving those children that I neglected the first rule of Aurors – constant vigilance which Alastor quotes frequently. I just couldn't stand the thought of the Muggle authorities going to their parents' homes and telling them their daughters were dead and them never knowing how or why it happened!"
"You are a truly great and caring man, Orion Black, and do not ever allow anyone to tell you differently," Walburga said, squeezing his hand.
There was a sudden knock on the closed bedroom door. "Dad? Mum?" Sirius asked. "Mr. Scrimgeour is here. Can I bring him up?"
"Yes, Sirius, bring him up," Orion called.
In a few seconds, Sirius knocked and entered the room followed by Rufus Scrimgeour.
He nodded at them. "Orion, Walburga."
"Please have a seat, Rufus," Walburga directed. "Sirius, would you please ask the elves to bring tea?"
"Yes, Mum," Sirius replied.
A few minutes later Kreacher popped in carrying a tray with a teapot, cups, and a plate piled with freshly baked shortbread.
"Did you find out anything from those Death Eaters I stunned, Rufus?" Orion asked after they were settled with their tea.
Rufus nodded. "We used Veritaserum on them, but they weren't able to tell us anything definite only that Voldemort is planning more attacks on Muggles and Muggleborns. Apparently, he keeps his plans to himself until his henchmen need to know them."
"That's very unfortunate," Orion said with a shake of his head. "It was only by the sheerest of luck that a witch lived across the street from that school, saw what was going on and summoned us."
"Well, unfortunately, we haven't had anybody who's been able to infiltrate Voldemort's ranks successfully to pass us information."
"Yes, it is unfortunate," Orion said.
"What I came here to tell you is that Minister Bagnold has accepted my recommendation that you be awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class. She plans to award it as soon as you're back on your feet."
"I'm very honored, Rufus," Orion said.
"Well, I believe in rewarding my men when they've gone beyond the call of duty so you have my congratulations and my thanks."
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The children were feeling frustrated. Now that they, with Professor Fleinhardt's help had figured out the clue, they wanted to see how the star Capella could lead them to finding the next clue, but the weather hadn't been cooperating over the last week. First it snowed and then it was very cold and foggy for a few nights. Finally, came a night when the sky was completely clear. Everybody bundled up and went out on the parapet where Professor Fleinhardt had set up his own professional telescope with a wider and clearer range than the telescopes they normally used in class. He adjusted the telescope according to the coordinates and then peered through the smaller scope. "Ah, there's Capella!" He stepped away from the telescope and placed a stool that he had previously transfigured for the shorter students like Lily, Alice, Emily, and Pete, in front of the telescope.
Lily stood on the stool and looked through the scope. "I see it!" She looked again. "But why are there two stars?"
"A very good question, Miss Evans," Professor Fleinhardt. "Capella is actually two stars, Capella A and Capella B and they are both yellow giants."
Severus took his turn at the telescope, then Alice, Pete. Remus, Frank, Reg, Dorian, Tav, Emma, and Jane.
"It would seem from the coordinates she left and from my calculations that she wants us to look for something below Capella," Professor Fleinhardt said. "Bring the telescope down to horizon level, Mr. Longbottom," Professor Fleinhardt directed.
Frank slowly lowered the telescope lens down to the horizon and then said suddenly, "I see something! It's a big boulder, but it looks as if it's sitting directly under Capella!
They all had a look at what Frank had spotted. Severus stood aside, pulling on his bottom lip thoughtfully. "If we have to dig the next clue out of the ground it's going to be really hard."
"Yes, because the ground's frozen," Remus said.
"Does that mean we'll have to wait until spring to find the next clue?" Tav asked.
"We might not be able to find the Grimoire then before school's out and Helena and the Baron won't be able to get married," Emily added. This seemed to distress her the most.
"There's a way to get around this," Severus said firmly. "We just have to find it."
Lily decided to look through the advanced charm book Vesper had given her for Christmas and see if she could find anything that would help them. They all went back to their dorms, pondering the problem.
The next morning's Daily Prophet had an announcement on the front page that Orion would be awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class. Walburga sought Albus' permission to take Reg out of school for the day so he could attend the ceremony and the small reception she was planning for after the ceremony. Albus graciously gave his permission.
Lily meanwhile was searching through her Ancient Charms book looking for something to help them find the next clue.
Alice was working on her essay for Herbology. She and Lily were the only ones in the room as Brenda and Nancy were studying in the library and MacDonald was sulking in the common room like she was expecting to see Pothead and Black walk through the portrait hole any second. Suddenly she heard Lily call, "I think I've found something that might help us."
Alice rolled off her bed and came over to Lily's. "What did you find?"
"It's actually a spell that helps you when you're planting a garden. You cast it on your garden tools and it makes them do the work faster. For instance if you were to cast it on a hoe before weeding, you'll be able to tear through the weeds."
"That sounds like just what we need, Lily," Alice said excitedly. "If you cast the spell on shovels; wouldn't you be able to dig much faster and through frozen ground even?"
"I'm assuming so," Lily replied. "The incantation for it is Excavto."
"I'll tell mum about that spell. It will really help her when she's working in her gardens," Alice decided.
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Charles Potter snorted as he put down that morning's Prophet. "I cannot believe that Bagnold gave into Scrimgeour and is awarding a dark wizard the Order of Merlin, First Class! It's an insult!" He huffed.
"It lowers the importance of the award too," Mavis added. "If you're going to give it to anybody for any stupid reason, you may as well stand out in the marketplace and give it to anyone walking by!"
Their discussion was interrupted by James staggering sleepily into the dining room.
His parents were shocked to see him up even before Charles left for the Ministry. "Jamie, are you sick?" Mavis asked worriedly, feeling his forehead.
"No, Mum," James replied. "I got an owl from Mary last night and she said Sirius' younger brother is telling everybody how good Sirius is doing at his studies with his tutor. I decided I'm going to study hard because I'm not letting that creep of a Death Eater-in-training get ahead of me!"
"Good for you, Jamie!" Charles replied. "But you also need time to relax and don't forget about Quidditch either."
"I got it covered, Dad." James said grabbing the Prophet and reading the front page article about Mr. Black receiving the Order of Merlin, First Class. He wished he could be there; he'd love to set off some of the dung bombs his godfather had given him for Christmas and show Sirius exactly what he thought of him and his dark family.
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Orion, Walburga, Sirius, and Reg waited in the Minister's office. They were all dressed in their best. Orion wore his Auror robe; Walburga was dressed in satin robes of pale green with silver trim and matching shoes. She wore her black hair piled high on her head and held in place by a jeweled comb. Sirius and Reg were wearing their best dress robes of plain black; Sirius' had a hint of gold on the lapels while Reg's had a hint of silver.
Orion, while almost recovered, was temporarily walking with the help of a walking stick; it was an attractively hand-carved from walnut and it had once belonged to Walburga's grandfather. He would be going back on Auror duty in another week, but would be confined to desk duty until his healer deemed him fit for full duty.
Minister Bagnold came into her office carrying a flat decorative box in her hands. Also in attendance for the ceremony was Alastor Moody, who was a good friend as well as Orion's partner and Rufus Scrimgeour. Bagnold took the gold medal on its pale blue ribbon out of the box. She stood in front Orion and said, "Orion Black, I hereby award you the Order of Merlin, First Class for risking your life to save two Muggle children from certain death by Death Eaters. From this day forward this medal will be a reminder of your heroism and bravery. Congratulations and thank you for your service." Bagnold said as she placed the medal over Orion's head.
Everybody clapped, including Sirius and Reg. Walburga squeezed Orion's hand tightly; she wasn't one for public displays of affection.
"Thank you, Minister," Orion said. "I'm very grateful for this medal and I am even more grateful I was able to save those two little girls."
The reception after the ceremony was small so it wouldn't tire Orion and was attended by the Minister, Scrimgeour, and Moody. Marius and Vesper also attended. Vesper had kept in close contact with Walburga while Orion was recovering.
Sirius saw them and walked over and stood in front of them. He was quaking on the inside, but showed no fear on the outside. "Lord and Lady Prince?"
"Yes, Sirius?" Marius replied.
"I want to apologize for my behavior towards you. I was dumb to listen to James going on about how all Slytherins are dark and dumb not to think for myself."
"It's all right, child," Vesper said giving him a hug. "We all make mistakes; that's how we learn. The good thing is you recognize your mistakes and not continue to do them."
"Thank you. I plan to apologize to Severus for all the awful things I did once I get back to Hogwarts."
"We appreciate it, Sirius, and Severus will too," Marius said.
Sirius went back over to stand by his dad. Orion touched his shoulder and Sirius looked up at him. "That was a very nice thing you did apologizing to the Princes. I know it was hard for you, but I'm very proud of you."
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The weather finally shifted at Hogwarts and the children, carrying shovels and accompanied by Professor Fleinhardt, began the trek to the boulder. It was farther than it looked from a telescope on the Astronomy Tower. Once they arrived, Severus looked up at the giant boulder and it was then he saw it – Rowena's sigil, a raven in flight carved into the stone.
"This is it!" he cried, pointing up at the sigil.
"Line the shovels up please, Sev," Lily asked.
Severus and Dorian laid the four shovels in a row. Lily pointed her wand at them and said, "Excavato!" The shovels glowed with blue sparkles. "They're ready to dig with now."
Severus and Dorian were going to start off the digging and then Tav and Frank would take over and finally Caddaric and Reg. Pete wouldn't be digging because it might cause him to have an asthma attack.
"Hold on, youngsters," Professor Fleinhardt said. "I'm going to cast the Impervius spell over you that will keep you from getting wet and covered in snow and mud." He cast it over the six boys.
Severus and Dorian began to dig; their shovels cut through the frozen ground easily. After about ten minutes they stopped and Tav and Frank took over. There was a loud clunk as Tav's shovel hit something. "I hit something." He dug around it a bit. "It's a small metal chest of some sort, I think."
"All right, boys. Please climb out of the hole. Mr. Snape and Mr. Andrews, if you would please give them a hand."
When they were all out of the hole, Professor Fleinhardt stood over the hole, pointed his wand and said, "Mobiliriscus!"
A small metal cask rose up out of the hold and floated over to Professor Fleinhardt. He expertly maneuvered it down on the ground. "You best not open it here." He shrank the cask and placed it in his pocket and then pointed his wand at the pile of dirt and said, "Mobilihumus." The pile of dirt floated over the hole and then he said, "Humus Repleo!" The dirt dropped into the hole filling it completely. "It's going to snow again tonight so it won't make a difference if the dirt's not completely smooth."
"Thanks so much for your help, Professor," Emily said.
"You are most welcome, Miss Dewhurst."
They went back to Professor Fleinhardt's office and after he ordered hot chocolate from his personal house elf, Galileo; he pointed his wand at the lock on the metal casket and said, "Alohomora."
The cask popped open and revealed a silver scroll case the same size as the first one they had found in Rowena's tree.
Severus opened it, carefully took out the roll of parchment inside and unrolled it. His dark eyes skimmed over the writing inside.
"What does it say, Sev?" Lily asked.
"It looks like it's in two parts and we have to solve the first part and that answer will lead us to where we'll need to solve the second riddle to find the Grimoire." He read the riddle aloud: "Perseverance is the key To find what you seek Solve these last few And what was lost shall be found." Severus frowned. "It says then, First, find me: Marking mortal privation, when firmly in place. An enduring summation Inscribed on my face. What am I?
"What's the second riddle?" Dorian asked
Severus looked at the parchment again and read aloud, "Some will use me, while others will not, some have remembered, while others have forgot. For profit or gain, I'm used expertly, I cannot be picked off the ground or tossed into the sea. Only gained from patience and time, can you unravel my rhyme?
"Wow!" Jane exclaimed. "This is going to be really hard!"
"But it sounds like if we do solve these; we'll find the Grimoire of Elements," Caddaric said.
A/N: Denudo Clandestinus – reveal secret. Mobiliriscus – move chest. Mobilihumus – move dirt. Humus Repleo – dirt fill up.
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