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The Rise of the A.W.L. by MargaretLane
Chapter 16 : Investigating Again.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K Rowling.

"The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn" is from the Fenian cycle of Irish mythology.



There wasn’t much Rose could do until classes finished the following afternoon, but as soon as they did, she pulled Albus aside.

“I talked to Dora last night.”

He shifted anxiously. “What happened?”

She thought for a moment. “She sort of hinted she might have done it, but in a way that made it sound like maybe she just wanted us to think that. That’s what Angie thinks anyway.  I’m not so sure. I think she’d say the same thing if she had done it. She wouldn’t care if I knew if I couldn’t prove it. Or of course, it could be a double bluff.”

“What do you mean?” He sounded confused.

“She might have wanted me to think she wanted me to think she’d done it but hadn’t really, so I wouldn’t realise she’d really done it.”

He stared at her. “I’m lost.”

She sighed. “Well, if she hints she did it, while reminding us we haven’t studied that spell yet, we might think she’s just trying to make herself sound important and not believe she really did anything. That’s what Angie thinks, but what if it’s what Dora wants us to think?”

“Does it really matter anyway?”

Yes. She can’t be allowed get away with it. That’s if she really did it. Which we don’t know. But I intend finding out. Are you going to help me?”

“All right. But I’m not confronting her. And certainly not Flint and his mates.”

“How did you know I was considering them?”

He shrugged. “Well, they’ve hexed the memorial beforehand, so they’re obvious suspects for doing it again.”

“So you have been thinking about it!” she declared triumphantly.

“Not really. I mean, yeah, I wondered who’d do that. It’s pretty nasty. But surely the teachers will have a much better chance of figuring it out that we’d have.”

She grinned. “They didn’t last year.”

“Well, no,” he said slowly, “but that was different. We solved it because it was our things she wanted to damage and we used that against her. We don’t have any connection to this.”

“We’ll still hear things they wouldn’t.” She thought for a moment. “Scorpius might be able to help us out.”

“Scorpius?”

She nodded. “He’s on the Quidditch team with Flint and Phaedra Orpington, isn’t he? Not that I really think they did it. It has to be Dora, really. But he might be able to help us rule them out. If there was a Quidditch practice or something…” She trailed off. It wouldn’t really help as they didn’t know for sure when the damage had been done. Somewhere between lunch and the Hallowe’en feast, that was all they knew for sure. If the Slytherin Quidditch team had been practicing between the end of classes and the feast, it would be less likely one of them had done it, but still not impossible. They could have remained behind for a few moments after lunch or sneaked in between classes.

“James doesn’t happen to have a class with the Slytherins after lunch on Wednesdays?” she asked.

Albus shrugged. “I’ve no idea.”

“We need to find out. If he does, he could tell us if any of those three was late.” She thought back for a moment. “Dora wasn’t late for Herbology, was she?”

He bit his lip, trying to think. “I don’t think so. I don’t remember, really.”

“I don’t think she was. And she would have been. There’s no way she could leave after everybody else and still get out to the Greenhouses on time. Not that that means anything really. She could have done it after classes.”

“We’d a lot of Potions homework,” Albus reminded her.

She waved the comment aside. “She could have done that later. Well, no, I suppose she couldn’t since she went to bed shortly after the feast.” She stamped her foot in annoyance. “But she could have got up early to do it. Or done it at lunch yesterday. And I didn’t see her before the feast. Did you?”

He shrugged. “I wasn’t really taking any notice.”

“We should ask around and see if anyone did. If they didn’t, it helps confirm our suspicions. So that’s three things we need to do: talk to James and find out if he had a class with the Slytherins, talk to Scorpius and find out if the Slytherins had Quidditch practice yesterday and most importantly, find out if anybody saw Dora that evening. See, those are all things the teachers wouldn’t be able to do so easily. We can ask those questions casually whereas people probably wouldn’t tell the teachers stuff like that, in case they’d get someone in trouble.”

“James wouldn’t care about getting Flint and his pals in trouble,” he pointed out. “And the teachers would already know if somebody was late for a class. At least the teacher who taught that class would.”

She stared at him. He didn’t usually disagree with her.

“Sorry, they’re good ideas,” he said, when she didn’t respond. “I don’t suppose the teachers would ask about Quidditch practice and stuff anyway.”

She nodded. “There must be more we can do too.” She paused for a moment. “The portraits! I know there aren’t any in the Great Hall, but there’s that little room off it, remember. They might have seen or heard something.”

“I suppose so.”

She got up. “Let’s do that now. We can ask about Dora whenever. It’d be better to wait until we’re just talking to people anyway. It would make it less obvious. And James and Scorpius are probably in their houses. You can try and corner James at dinner. Actually, we could just wait on after we talk to the portraits and grab him as he enters the Great Hall.”

“He’d probably be with Robin.”

“So? We can pull him aside.”

He looked doubtful.

“You’re not scared of him, are you?” she asked.

“Well, not exactly, but he wouldn’t like us interrupting him; you know James.”

“Who cares what he likes?” As soon as she’d said it, she realised she shouldn’t have. It was obvious Albus cared. “Anyway,” she continued, changing the subject quickly, “let’s go and find out what the portraits know.”

She hurried down the corridor, not even bothering to check if he was following her. She knew he would.

They reached the small chamber that contained the portraits and Rose grinned. Violet was in her portrait frame. If there was gossip to be had, she’d have it.

“Hi Violet.”

“Hello. You’re Harry Potter’s son anyway.” She smiled at Albus.

“Erm, yeah.”

“Violet, did you hear about Remus’s memorial?” Rose cut across him.

“No, what happened?”

“Somebody enchanted it to change the expression to a smirk. It happened some time between lunchtime yesterday and the Hallowe’en feast. We think. It definitely happened before the Hallowe’en feast and somebody would surely have noticed it at lunch if it had happened before that. You didn’t see anything? Or notice anybody come into the Great Hall between lunch and the feast.”

“Lots of people, dear. The staff and prefects were decorating it and of course, the house elves were in and out getting the food and everything ready.”

“I think we can rule them out. The house elves, I mean. Did any students come in? Except the prefects.”

Of course, there was no reason it couldn’t be a prefect, but she’d been hoping somebody with no legitimate reason to be in the Great Hall had been in. Preferably Dora. Then she’d have some reason to be suspicious.

“I don’t think so, dear. Oh! Actually…”

Rose leaned forward eagerly. “What?”

“I’m not sure it’ll be much use to you. I can’t actually name anybody, but just before the teachers and prefects arrived to start decorating the place, something a little odd happened.”

Rose stifled her impatience. Violet clearly enjoyed keeping her in suspense.

“The staff table shook.”

Rose sighed. That was hardly the kind of thing she was looking for.

“It seemed like somebody knocked against it. Now, I just assumed it was Peeves up to his old tricks again. I didn’t see or hear him, but we all know he can make himself invisible.”

The significance of the last word struck Rose. “You think somebody might have been invisible?”

“Well, it’s possible, isn’t it? In fact, now that I think of it, there was a jet of light. It was only for a moment so I thought I’d just imagined it or that it was Peeves playing around again, but…”

Another portrait nodded sagely. “I saw that too.”

“But wouldn’t you have heard if anybody’d cast a spell?”

“There are such things as non-verbal spells, dear.”

Rose and Albus exchanged a quick glance. Somebody with an Invisibility Cloak or the ability to make themselves invisible, who could perform non-verbal spells. That wasn’t Dora. It wasn’t even Flint or his mates. At least she didn’t think so. It was possible, of course, that one of them might have an Invisibility Cloak, but she very much doubted they’d mastered non-verbal spells.

The other portrait who’d spoken interrupted her thoughts.

“Or they could just have spoken quietly. Even shoved the table to cover any sound they made.”

She felt herself relax. That was a rather more likely scenario. She doubted anybody old enough to have learnt non-verbal spells would do anything as childish as hexing a memorial to smirk.

And besides, if they had, she doubted either she or Albus would solve it. She barely knew any of the sixth or seventh years. Apart from Dominique and she was pretty certain she could be ruled out. And anyway, they probably had the ability to cover their tracks far more efficiently than a first or second year.

Albus too seemed doubtful.

“I don’t know about this,” he said after they’d withdrawn to the Great Hall itself. “If this person can perform non-verbal spells, maybe we should just leave things to the teachers.”

“We don’t know for  sure that they can,” she pointed out. “Like that guy said, they might just have muttered the spell. Dominique said that’s what she used to do when they started learning non-verbal spells, remember?”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“And we don’t even know that was when the spell was cast,” she continued, ignoring him. “People were in and out of the Great Hall the whole time. Somebody could well have slipped up unnoticed. We should have asked if any of the prefects were alone for any time, I suppose, but the portrait s probably wouldn’t remember, even if they could see what was happening the whole time. If the door was closed, they wouldn’t be able to.”

“Should we go back in and ask those questions?”

She thought for a minute. “I suppose we should, really, but I doubt it’ll do much good. Those aren’t the sort of things people remember unless they’ve some reason to do so. Do you remember if your dormitory door was open or closed this morning?”

He shook his head. “Well, it was closed while I was getting dressed; I’d remember that, but otherwise, I don’t know.”

“You see!”

She was, unfortunately, quite right. None of the portraits could tell them for certain whether the door had been closed at any point or who’d been alone in the Great Hall when.

“I think the door was open all the time,” Violet said. “I think I’d remember if it were shut.”

“I’m not sure,” another portrait argued. “I think somebody might have pushed it shut at one point. Somebody came over towards it at one point…oh, who was it now? It was a teacher; I remember that much.”

“I don’t remember that at all,” Violet insisted. “Are you sure it wasn’t earlier? During lunch, maybe?”

“Well, I’m not entirely certain, but I don’t think so. Why would anybody close the door during lunch? It would make more sense if they were decorating. People were moving around then.”

Rose sighed. It was just as pointless as she’d feared it might be. Out of politeness, she waited until the portraits had finished quarrelling before she and Albus once again withdrew to the Great Hall.

“We may as well wait for James now,” she said.

“OK.” It was clear he didn’t really like the idea.

They couldn’t really wait in the Great Hall, so she dragged him into a small classroom near the Entrance Hall.

“We can slip out into the Entrance Hall just before dinner and wait for him.”

He nodded.

Finding James among the crowds heading into the Great Hall for dinner, however, was easier said than done.

 “Do you see him?” Rose asked.

Albus shook his head.

Finally she caught sight of him and pushed through the crowds towards him. As Albus had predicted, he was accompanied by Robin.

“Hey, James,” she called.

He paused. “What is it, pipsqueak?”

He cracked up laughing and Rose rolled her eyes.

“That’s not even funny.”

“Really? I found it hilarious. Didn’t you, Robin?”

He nodded.

“What are you? His puppet?”

James stared at her. “Wow Rose, that was actually almost funny. Didn’t think you had it in you.”

She rolled her eyes again. “Never mind about that. We wanted to ask you about something.”

“Looking for mysteries again?”

“I don’t have to look for them. You saw what happened yesterday.”

“The thing with Remus’s memorial? Yeah. If I knew who’d done that, I wouldn’t be telling you pipsqueaks about it. I’d be finding them myself and hexing them.”

“Get some new material. That’s twice you’ve called us pipsqueaks in about the last five minutes. But anyway, what I was wondering about was Flint and those two pals of his, Phaedra Orpington and what’s the other guy’s name?

“Maximus Montague.”

“Yeah, you didn’t have a class with them yesterday after lunch, did you? Immediately after lunch, I mean.”

He shook his head. “No, I’d Herbology with the Hufflepuffs. Why?”

“Well, whoever cursed the memorial had to have done so between lunch and the feast really, didn’t they? ‘Cause we’d have noticed if it had happened before lunch.”

“Hey, that’s not bad reasoning actually.”

She grinned. “So if they were late to class after lunch…”

“They’d have had an opportunity.” He grinned. “I’ll find out.”

“And let us know when you do.”

“Maybe I will and maybe I won’t,” he said before disappearing into the Great Hall without so much as saying goodbye.

Rose sighed. “Come on Albus. We’d better go in too.”

She didn’t get much opportunity to find out any more that evening, but the following day, she called to Scorpius as they left the Potions classroom.

“Yeah?” He glanced around warily.

“Let’s walk to the Great Hall together. Albus and I have some things we want to ask you.”

He screwed up his face in confusion. “About what?”

“Well, about what happened to the memorial really.”

“Why would I know anything about that?” he asked defensively.

She sighed. “I’m not saying you do. But there are some things you might be able to tell us.”

“Like what?”

“Like if you’d Quidditch practice Hallowe’en night?”

“Of course not. There’d barely have been time with the feast and all.” He paused for a moment, before adding, “why?”

“Think about it, Scorpius. It had to have been done between lunch and the Hallowe’en feast and most people had classes immediately after lunch. So knowing people were busy between the end of classes and the feast would all but rule them out, right?”

She realised that wasn’t entirely true. After all, somebody could have used a Skiving Snackbox or some other method to get out of class, but those things would be easy to find out. The easiest time to do it would be immediately after class.

“You suspect it’s somebody on the Slytherin team?” Scorpius asked matter-of-factly. There was no way of telling if the idea offended him.

“No, I don’t really. To be honest, I think it’s Dora. But Flint and Orpington did hex the memorial before, so we can’t really rule out the possibility they’d do it again. You didn’t happen to see them around the common room that afternoon, did you?”

He thought for a moment, then shook his head. “Not that I can remember, but then I wasn’t really paying any attention.”

“Are you sure you didn’t notice anything? They didn’t slip out of the common room at any point, did they?”

He shrugged. “Lots of people were going in and out at various times. I can’t say I particularly noticed who was there and who wasn’t. I didn’t spend the entire time in the common room myself anyway.”

She sighed. “Could you try and find out? You could ask around and see if anybody saw them. Or could you get talking to them at Quidditch practice? They might let something slip.”

He stared at her and shook his head decisively. “I am not doing anything to draw their attention to me. They’re bullies, Rose. If they thought I was poking my nose into their business…”

“Do they bully you?”

He shook his head. “I haven’t given them any particular reason to take any notice of me. And I’m not going to start now, sorry.”

She forced a smile. “Yeah, all right, that’s fair enough. I suppose nobody’s going to give us any information on them if everybody’s scared of them, though.”

“James might,” Albus reminded her.

“Yeah, maybe, but knowing him, he’ll probably keep whatever he finds out to himself. I’d tell him if the positions were reversed.”

They reached the Great Hall and Scorpius turned to head for the Slytherin table.

“Well, that was a dead loss,” Rose muttered. “He didn’t exactly know much.”

In fact, it was beginning to look as if nobody did.

Even asking if anybody’d seen Dora in the common room that evening, which she’d expected to be the easiest task of those she’d planned, wasn’t getting her any information.

“Come on, Rose,” Angie said. “How is anybody supposed to remember where she was the entire afternoon? I think I saw her at one point all right. She was heading toward the dormitory, I think, but other than that, I’ve no idea where she was.”

Derek told Albus he’d no idea whether he’d seen her or not and Rasmus said he’d spent the afternoon in the library, so the Ravenclaw common room could have been completely empty for all he knew.

She wondered if it was even worth asking Fionnuala. She rarely seemed to notice what room she was in herself, let alone who else was there. Sometimes, though, she noticed something everybody else seemed to have missed. It was rarely anything so mundane as where her classmates were or what they were doing, but Rose decided it was worth a try anyway.

The good thing about questioning Fionnuala was that it didn’t really require you to explain yourself. She seemed entirely unsuspicious.

“Hey, Fionnuala,” Rose called, when she saw her staring out a castle window on Saturday evening.

“Oh, hi.” She turned around.

“You don’t happen to remember if you saw Dora in the common room before the Hallowe’en feast, do you?”

As she’d expected, Fionnuala showed no signs of considering it anything other than a perfectly ordinary question.

“Before the Hallowe’en feast? I went down to the library that afternoon to look for “The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn” and yes, I remember, when I got back, Dora was waiting outside Ravenclaw tower trying to figure out the riddle.”

“So she was out! Thanks Fionnuala, that’s just what I wanted to know.”

Not of course that it proved anything, but it did mean Dora was still definitely a viable suspect. 


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