Chapter 8 : Truth and Truce
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I smiled and leaned back against the pillows, setting the package down next to me. One card was from Mandy, and one from Charlotte. I then opened the package. Inside it I found a card, and underneath several layers of tissue paper was my scarf! I picked up the card, and a bar of Honeydukes’ chocolate fell from inside it. The note read,
I hope you feel better soon. The chocolate should help. This is your scarf, I did wear it to the match – until James and Sirius noticed it, that is. They weren’t too happy about it and tried to put a spell on it, so be careful when you pick it up, I’m not sure what will happen. Nothing happened when I put it in the box, but I would still be careful if I were you.
I hope you get well soon,
I grinned again. Honeydukes chocolate… Remus sure knew his remedies. I broke off a piece and ate it, savouring the delicious taste, and then looked in the box again. My scarf was there, and as I lifted it out it was perfectly fine for about five seconds, until it suddenly shot out a large firework as the scarf turned red and gold – Gryffindor colours. Upon hearing the loud bang, Madame Pomfrey bustled out of the back room looking frazzled. She noticed I was awake and inquired about the loud noise.
Gesturing to the box on my lap, I muttered something about a prank box, and she frowned and sighed heavily, shaking her head; the hospital wing was no place for such games. While I pondered over how to get the red and gold out of my scarf, she only moved the box onto the floor and fed me a disgusting potion, then went over to a bed across the room where Luke Wilcox was still sleeping, his blond hair messy on the pillow.
There was nothing else to do in the hospital wing so I watched Madame Pomfrey tend to Luke. I tried to ignore the heaps of gifts and cards on his table, and instead looked at his face. Then my sensible side wondered why I was looking at him at all, and I turned back to face my cards. It was only a few moments of lying there until I dropped off to sleep again.
When I woke up several hours later, the hospital wing was much darker, and long shadows were thrown across the floor by the various empty beds near the window.
Luke was already awake, halfway through his stack of get-well-soon gifts. I wasn’t bold enough to say anything to him, so I just laid my head back down on my pillow and stared at the ceiling. I recalled the crazy events of this past week, which had felt so long; it seemed strange to think that only a week ago I had gone to Hogsmeade with Remus and arranged the prank contest. Sighing, I watched the time tick by on the large grandfather clock.
It reminded me of the watch we had found in the trophy room. What was it? Had it really once belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw? I wanted to find out the story behind it. I sat upright, and had swung one leg out of bed when Madame Pomfrey came around the corner and said, “Just where do you think you’re going so quickly, dear?”
“Um… I felt better,” I explained lamely, “and thought I needed to get going.”
“You won’t miss any classes, it’s Sunday,” she assured. “It’s nearly dinner time, nothing much is happening out there.”
“Well, I feel fine! Can’t I go? And if it’s dinner time…”
“You’ve got a nasty bruise still, and you nearly broke your arm! You got hit by a Bludger, and then sailed right into the Quidditch hoops. You need to rest for a while!”
I sighed heavily. My tactic wasn’t working. “I want to find out what happened with that… thing, in the trophy room!” I glanced over at Luke to make sure he wasn’t listening, but of course, I saw him watching the whole scene with a puzzled expression.
Madame Pomfrey scowled. “I’m sure Dumbledore can handle it. Now you need to rest, dear.” She picked up the bottle of nasty potion she had left on the bedside table, and gave me some more. I made a face and swallowed the medicine, and Madame Pomfrey checked on Luke quickly and disappeared into the back room again. When the hospital wing was quiet once more, Luke asked, “What were you talking about?”
I had expected this, but still had no idea what to say. It was my first chance to talk to him, and I was hoping to not mess it up. But I still had to answer his question. “Um, something I found. Listen, I’m sorry about that Bludger, I saw it hit you and—”
He laughed. “You have pretty good aim.”
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“Don’t worry about it, I’m fine now. I could probably leave if it weren’t for…” he tilted his head in the direction of Madame Pomfrey.
“Yeah,” I laughed.
“So why were you in such a hurry to leave?” he tried again.
I sighed. “You know the story, I’m sure you’ve heard it, about the trophy room and the watch?”
“Yeah, I heard a little about it,” he said. “Something about it being cursed and made Remus Lupin unconscious?”
“Pretty much. Well I wanted to find out what it was all about. I was going to ask Dumbledore if he’s discovered anything.”
“Can I come with you? Once we’re allowed out, of course.”
Now this I had not expected. Part of me wanted to say yes, so I could have more time to talk to Luke. But the sensible part of me wanted to say no because it wasn’t his business at all.
Instead I just said, “Why?”
“Well, I want to get out of here, but that’s not the only reason,” he said, grinning. “Remus is a good friend of mine, we’re both prefects, you know, and I want to make sure nothing bad happened to him. And, you’re still supposedly hurt… it would be a good idea for someone to accompany you, don’t you think?” He winked.
I giggled. Does he like me too? “Remus is fine,” I said.
“Okay.” I smiled at him, belatedly remembering the way my left eye always squinted up a bit when I smiled too much, so I opened my eyes a bit wider. Then I realised I probably just looked scary like this, and dropped the smile off my face in an instant. Fortunately, Luke didn’t seem to have noticed anything.
So later on that evening I begged Madame Pomfrey to release us, and with Luke’s help this time she reluctantly consented. We raced out the doors, sprinted down the hall and were close to Dumbledore’s office when I realised I still didn’t know the password.
I stopped a few feet away from the office. “What’s wrong?” Luke asked.
I was about to respond when Mandy and Remus came around the corner together. “Hey, we were just coming to talk to you!” exclaimed Mandy.
“Well, we escaped early,” I said, and she laughed. “Now we’ve come to talk to Dumbledore to find out about the watch. I bet you anything it’s Ravenclaw’s,” I added.
“Duh, only because I suggested that,” she said jokingly. “Wait, we still don’t know the password!”
“We do,” said Luke matter-of-factly, glancing at Remus. “Prefects have such a high status...” he teased.
“Rubbish,” I said dismissively.
“Ice Mice,” Remus told the gargoyle. The wall split into two behind it and revealed the revolving staircase, which we rode up until we reached a door with a griffin shaped brass knocker. Luke knocked on the door and some idle chatter from inside subsided. Dumbledore opened the door and looked only mildly surprised to see us there.
“Come in,” he said, and we all filed inside the room, which contained a number of portraits on the walls, and on the wooden desk sat various odd silver instruments on spindly legs that rattled and puffed smoke occasionally.
Mandy asked, “Did you find out what was going on with that wrist watch?”
“Was it Ravenclaw’s?” I added.
Dumbledore smiled slightly and put his fingertips together. “I thought so at first. But now I think it’s most likely that it did not belong to Ravenclaw.”
“Whose was it, then?” asked Luke.
“Why was it cursed?” said Remus.
“What was it doing in there?” Mandy wondered.
“Be patient, I will answer all your questions eventually, as best I can. But I cannot promise that any of my guesses are correct.” He looked over his half-moon glasses at our eager faces, and continued. “So first you asked whose it was. I am not sure. It is in Rowena Ravenclaw’s colours, as you mentioned, although I don’t believe it actually belonged to her. Now, why it was cursed… It appears to have been a deliberate curse. Why it was done I am not certain, but the effects were temporary. The charm has worn off; it can now be touched with no ill effects.”
“So wait,” I said, perplexed, “it wasn’t actually anything important? It was so scary at the time!”
“It seemed like Dark Magic to me,” said Mandy softly, “and it was out there in the front of the trophy case, wasn’t it, Remus?”
“That’s what I’m worried about,” Dumbledore said. “It is very suspicious, mainly the intention of the curse. But I have examined the watch, and cannot find anything else wrong with it.”
Luke was frowning in concentration. “Sir,” he said, “I’ve been reading the news a lot recently, and anything weird like this makes me worried it’s connected to You-Know-Who somehow. You don’t think it is, do you?”
The rest of us stared at him, then at Dumbledore. If Luke was right…
“Why would Voldemort sneak into Hogwarts and leave an old wrist watch here?” I pointed out. Remus’ eyebrows shot up and Luke glanced sharply at me. I shouldn’t have said the name out loud.
“It says in Past and Present of Hogwarts that you can’t Apparate in,” said Mandy, “there are special spells on the castle… and that’s up-to-date information, the book was written last year.”
“Maybe there’s a Death Eater at Hogwarts?” Remus asked.
A servant of Voldemort at Hogwarts? We all turned to Dumbledore again, who had been silently watching the conversation with interest. “Very good points, all of you. It’s unlikely that the watch belongs to Voldemort, or that Death Eaters are infiltrating Hogwarts.”
“You don’t think Hogwarts is in any danger from Vol – from You-Know-Who, do you, sir?” I asked.
“Do not be afraid to say the name, any of you,” said Dumbledore, his face very serious. “Fear of his name is just what he wants, and he thrives on fear to maintain his power. Hogwarts is not in immediate danger, although it has been growing steadily more unsafe for a number of years now.” He looked at our sombre faces and added, “I don’t think you should be overly concerned, however. Hogwarts is one of the safest places in the country, and is very well protected. You should enjoy the time you have at school, but be prepared for the unexpected.”
“You all brought up some interesting points,” said Dumbledore. “I thank you for such a lively discussion. And now I think it’s time for you all to be in bed.” He smiled as Remus, Mandy, Luke and I made our way for the door.
As we went down the staircase, Mandy asked me, “Do you think we should tell Charlotte?”
Charlotte was the gossip queen of Slytherin. I hoped she had the sense to keep quiet about our discussion, or at least not distort it and worry all of Hogwarts about it. But it really made me wonder how much I myself could keep quiet about it.
We all walked as a group, quietly discussing the implications of the conversation we had just had. Luke eventually split off to go on his way to the Ravenclaw common room, and a bit later Remus, Mandy and I passed James, Sirius, and Peter on their way to the library, and Remus joined them. I continued walking for about two steps until I realised Mandy had joined Remus and the other Gryffindors on their way into the library.
I ran and caught up with them. James and Sirius stared at us as I reached Mandy’s side, perplexed that we were hanging around. I was a little confused too, but I had only been following Mandy. Mandy started talking to Remus, and he answered as if this was nothing out of the ordinary, but I felt uncomfortable being here. It seemed that Remus and Mandy were the only two really keen on us all becoming friends. The boys were funny sometimes (all right, a lot of the time), and smart, but they let it go to their heads, particularly James and Sirius. Peter never really bothered anyone if the others weren’t egging him on. But Remus’s friends didn’t seem too thrilled to have us around. I did like Remus, though – in the short time we’d been friends thus far, we’d already discovered a lot we had in common, like a mutual appreciation for dry humour.
Remus sat at a table, and Mandy joined him. The rest of us just kind of stood there, not sure what was happening. “Why are the Slytherins hanging around?” Sirius asked Remus bluntly.
Mandy asked the boys if they wanted to hear Dumbledore’s ideas about the wristwatch, and Remus pointed out that Mandy and I had been there too for the wristwatch incident and that he trusted us. So the others sat down, and Remus, Mandy and I told the other Gryffindors what had transpired in the meeting with Dumbledore, after making them swear not to tell anyone. We speculated on whether there might be a Death Eater here, and who it might be. Sirius rattled off a whole list of Slytherins, culminating in my own name, which I did not appreciate. At least he’d suggested it as a joke though, or at least I assumed so.
“I just realised something,” said Peter. “Why are we rivals? It seems stupid, since we’re friends… or, well, we are friends, aren’t we?” he finished awkwardly.
Well, they talked to us, which was something, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say we were friends.
“Aren’t you all friends with Snivellus?” asked James, ignoring Peter.
“I don’t know,” said Mandy, glancing at me. “We were. It’s complicated. We’re in the same house, but Mel and I don’t really trust him. I don’t know if he trusts us, either.”
I chuckled at the look on James’s face, and then turning to Peter, I laughed out loud, he looked so confused. But I knew he had a point. Maybe our days as rivals were over. After all, the wristwatch incident had affected all of us, and we did have a lot in common – at least where pranks were concerned.
Peter brought up his idea again, as it seemed no one had heard him the first time, suggesting the end of our rivalry.
“I dunno,” said Sirius sceptically. “I kind of like it the way it is, to be honest. What you’re suggesting, Wormtail, means that we could no longer play pranks on these Slytherins. It’d be no fun anymore.”
“It’s all right if you don’t want to,” I said airily. “I don’t think we have any need to be allied with the likes of you. I’d rather have cooler friends.”
James laughed. “Damn. And we were hoping you’d at least join our fan club. Well it’s settled then – we’ll just keep on not liking each other. This has been fun.”
Eventually we decided we would try to be friendly to one another. Our brief meeting in the library had impressed upon us all that maybe we weren’t all that different, and pranks in good humour could be a sign of friendship rather than old rivalry. So really, nothing much changed, except that maybe we’d agreed to jinx each other in the hallways less.
As Mandy and I departed for the Slytherin common room on the first floor, she then turned to me and said, “Wait till you see how Charlotte takes it,” she laughed. “She won’t have a clue.”
“Yeah.” We got on a staircase and it suddenly disconnected at the bottom and started moving to connect somewhere else. “Urgh, I hate when they do this.”
“It keeps life interesting,” said Mandy brightly. “Otherwise we’d get back to the common room faster and you’d have to start your homework sooner.”
“Oh yeah, I guess that’s true…” We waited for the staircase to stop moving and got off, a floor below where it usually ended, and walked back to the common room.
A/N: I hope Dumbledore came across as somewhat believable in this chapter - he's incredibly difficult to write. Thanks for reading! Reviews are always appreciated :)
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