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The Rise of the A.W.L. by MargaretLane
Chapter 17 : The Locked Trunk.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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Disclaimer: Everything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.



With Gryffindor’s first match against Hufflepuff taking place on the eighteenth, the Gryffindor team seemed to be spending every spare moment at practice, making it extremely difficult to corner James and find out if he’d learnt anything.

“I reckon our best bet is to corner him after the match,” Rose said. “If they win, he’ll be in a good mood and more likely to tell us something.” She paused. “Of course, if they lose, approaching him then might not be such a good idea. What do you think, Albus?”

He thought for a moment.

“Well, I wouldn’t approach him before the match. Of course, he doesn’t really do nerves, so it mightn’t make much difference, but I don’t think I’d be much help to anybody when we’d a match coming up. Quidditch sort of takes over at that point and I can’t really concentrate on anything else. To be honest, I’m not even sure he’ll have much chance to find anything out before the match. Maybe we shouldn’t ask him anything for a few days after it.”

She shook her head. “He’ll find out, all right. He’s probably done so already. He wants to know who did it as much as I do. The only question is if he’ll be willing to tell us what he knows. He knows how much we want to know, so he mightn’t. James is like that.”

“He certainly is,” Albus said feelingly.

She glanced at him sympathetically. James couldn’t be the easiest person to have as a big brother. He was just so…infuriating sometimes. If he were her brother, she’d have hexed him a long time ago. But Albus was a good deal more easy-going than she was. And yet, she suspected he cared more. James might irritate her while they were talking but she didn’t dwell on it. Albus, she thought, probably did.

“I guess we’ll wait for the match,” she decided. “If Gryffindor wins, we’ll question him after it. If they lose, we’ll just have to wait for another opportunity.” She sighed. The eighteenth felt like a long time away, particularly when all they wanted was an answer to a question, an answer James could give them quite easily if only he would.

She wouldn’t have minded so much if any of her other ideas had yielded better results. All she’d really learnt was that Dora could have done it.  She had the opportunity. Whether she had the ability or not was another matter. Rose was quite certain she couldn’t perform non-verbal spells, but it was possible she’d just muttered too quietly for the portraits to hear her. They had been in a separate room after all. They were close to the Great Hall, she supposed, but still far enough for it to be possible they’d miss something.

She was beginning to think she was the only person in the school who still cared about what had happened. The students were far more concerned with the upcoming match, even those from the houses that weren’t even playing and if the staff were still investigating, they certainly weren’t making it obvious. Perhaps they already knew who did it. It was even possible the person had confessed.

But she didn’t believe that. Whoever’d done it had gone to a lot of trouble to ensure they wouldn’t be seen, maybe even using an Invisibility Cloak so as to ensure they wouldn’t be. She doubted they’d just turn around and confess after all that.

Suddenly a thought occurred to her. Had she just missed a vital clue?

“The Invisibility Cloak!” she announced triumphantly.

Albus stared at her.

“Whoever was in the Great Hall that time, assuming somebody was and the portraits weren’t just imagining it, was obviously invisible, right?”

He nodded.

“So what we need to find out is who around here has an Invisibility Cloak.”

“You think somebody has?” He sounded doubtful. “They’re pretty rare, you know.”

“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “It’s possible what Violet saw was just Peeves fooling around.” She thought for a moment. “You don’t think he could have vandalised the memorial, do you?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“I wouldn’t think so. It’s definitely the sort of thing he’d do if he could, but I don’t think poltergeists have those kinds of powers. We should probably check that out though. There must be something on poltergeists in the library. Anyway, my point wasn’t that somebody here definitely has an Invisibility Cloak, just that if we found out somebody did, it’d definitely make them suspect number one.”

“I guess so.”

“So that’s my next job, well, along with researching poltergeists: find out if Dora has an Invisibility Cloak.”

He gave her a concerned look. “Take care, won’t you? She won’t be too pleased if she thinks you’re poking through her stuff.”

“No, she wouldn’t be, would she?”

A part of her couldn’t help relishing the idea of Dora’s reaction, but she supposed Albus was right. There was no point in drawing trouble on herself.

She’d just have to choose a time she could be fairly sure of having the dormitory to herself. Not that it was particularly easy to find such a time. Of course, the dormitories and indeed all of Ravenclaw tower would be empty during classes, but that was no help, as she’d  be in class herself. If she’d a Skiving Snackbox, she could get out of class, she supposed, but that had to be a last resort. The last thing she wanted was to miss any classes. And of course, in the evenings and weekends, people wandered in and out of the dormitories at all hours.

Her best bet would be to slip up at lunchtime and hope the eagle’s question wasn’t too difficult. It would mean doing without lunch, of course, but sometimes  you had to make sacrifices and she could always get some sweets from Honeydukes by owl order. That’d give her something to eat anyway.

And if she couldn’t answer the question, she’d just hurry back down to the Great Hall and try again another day. No point in missing lunch twice. If it took her too long to figure the riddle out, she wouldn’t have time to do a proper search anyway.

So after morning classes on Wednesday, she slipped away from her classmates, hurried back to Ravenclaw tower and rapped on the knocker.

“What can be heard but never seen?”

“Somebody under an Invisibility Cloak,” she announced triumphantly. She’d no idea whether or not it was the answer the eagle was looking for, but surely it was true.

“An acceptable answer.”

The door opened.

Even though the question hadn’t taken much of her time, she’d still have to hurry, she realised, as she gazed around at Dora’s things helplessly. There were so many of them and afterwards she’d have to get down to the greenhouses in time for Herbology.

And yet, she couldn’t rush things too much. Not unless she wanted Dora to realise somebody’d been through her stuff.

She thought for a moment. The school things she could ignore anyway. She really doubted it’d be possible to hide a cloak in amongst parchment, spare quills and schoolbooks.

Probably the best thing to begin with were the robes, she decided. It be easiest to hide it among them.

She felt her way through them without finding anything, so she turned to the bed, lifting the covers and pillows and checking underneath, feeling beneath the mattress and finally crawling beneath the bed itself. Still nothing.

She glanced at her watch quickly. She'd just about enough time to check Dora’s trunk, the only other hiding place she could possibly imagine.

Grabbing it and yanking it down from the rack, she tried to open it. Locked! Of course, she should have guessed it would be.

She pointed her wand at it.

“Alohomora.”

Nothing happened.

That was strange. Trunks were usually locked of course, but charming them so as to make them impossible to open by magic seemed a little like overkill. Unless of course, there was something in it the owner really didn’t want anybody to find.

She suddenly felt absolutely certain Dora did have an Invisibility Cloak in there. The only question was how to get it open so she could prove it.

Glancing at her watch again, she realised she wasn’t going to solve that dilemma now. Not with Herbology starting in less than five minutes.

Hurriedly, she stashed the trunk back on its rack and glanced around quickly to be sure she’d left no signs of her search, before rushing out of Ravenclaw tower and down to the greenhouses.

She made it just in time. Neville glanced up as she dashed in.

“Sorry Sir.”

“It’s all right, Rose. We haven’t started yet. It’s not like you to cut it so fine though.”

“She wasn’t at lunch, Professor,” Dora said maliciously.

Neville raised his eyebrows. “I don’t really think that’s anybody’s business but Rose’s, do you Dora?”

“I suppose not.” She sounded sulky.

Rose stifled a giggle. If only Dora’d known what she’d been doing.

She couldn’t wait for classes to be over, she could tell Albus what she’d discovered. It was so annoying, standing right beside him and not being able to tell him anything. If she did, though, she’d have risked Dora overhearing and that wasn’t a chance she was willing to take.

Once classes ended, she pulled him into a deserted classroom.

“Dora’s trunk was locked.”

“So is mine.” He sounded confused.

“No, I mean really locked. Like a spell won’t unlock it.”

For a moment, he looked interested, but then  the excitement faded.

“If I’d known how to lock mine magically last year, I’d definitely have done it.”

“Yes, but that was because of Dora,” Rose said impatiently. “She doesn’t have to worry about herself, does she?”

“I guess not.”

“So what is she hiding in there?”

“You think she has an Invisibility Cloak?”

“You don’t?” She was getting impatient. Couldn’t he see it was the only explanation.

“I dunno. I suppose she could have.”

“I’ll prove it,” she said. “I’ll check up on poltergeists, like I said I would, but I bet you anything it’ll just confirm Peeves couldn’t have done this. And that Flint and his mates won’t have been late for whatever they had after lunch on Hallowe’en either.”

“OK,” he said mildly.

His lack of interest bothered her slightly. Why was she the only one who really seemed to care if Dora got her just deserts?

She was going to read up on poltergeists that evening, she decided. If they couldn’t perform spells like the one the portraits thought they’d seen, and she was sure they couldn’t, it was yet another indication she’d been right all along.

“You see.” She waved a library book in Albus’s face later that evening.

“What?” He tried to see what she was waving at him.

“It’s a book about poltergeists and while they do have a kind of magic of their own - they can fly and stuff - they can’t perform complex spells and certainly not the type of thing that must have been done to Remus’s memorial. If Peeves had wanted to do that, he’d have had to go at it with a sharp object or something. Not that that’d have worked, not when it’s magically protected.”

“OK.”

“So you see, it’s got to be Dora. Who else would do something like that?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

She suspected he’d prefer they weren’t the ones to catch her out if it was. He was still wary about drawing her attention to them.

She’d targeted them for absolutely no reason last year though and they’d already caught her out once, so Rose really doubted catching her out again would make much difference. Not that she cared anyway. As she’d said more than once, she wasn’t afraid of Dora.

Albus shuffled his feet anxiously. “Are we still going to ask James about Flint and his friends?”

She thought for a moment. She guessed he’d rather avoid drawing their attention to them as well and maybe there wasn’t that much point any more anyway. Since she was more certain than ever it was Dora. And yet, she supposed a locked trunk wasn’t exactly proof positive. It would be as well to find out as much as possible. If it were Flint or his mates and James solved it without them, he’d lord it over them forever.

“Yes,” she said determinedly. “Don’t worry about it. They’re not going to know what we ask James, are they?”

“I suppose not.”

“If they go after anybody, it’d be him.”

He stared at her. “Do you think they will?”

“No, I don’t. And anyway, he’s perfectly capable of looking after himself, don’t you think?”

“I suppose so, but if they did hex him, it’d be our fault, wouldn’t it? For getting him involved in this.”

She actually laughed. “I think James is perfectly capable of getting himself in trouble without our help. Anyway, you know what Scorpius said; they’re bullies. Bullies tend not to target anybody who can fight back. And James certainly can.”

He thought about this for a moment. “I suppose.” He sighed. “Do you think we’ll ever have a peaceful term?”

“This one’s been pretty peaceful, really. All we’ve done is ask a few questions and glanced through Dora’s stuff. Nothing life-threatening. Look, I know you don’t like too much excitement, but doesn’t it bother you to think of somebody disrespecting Remus like that?”

There was a moment’s pause.

“Yes,” he said quietly.

“So let’s just wait and see how the match goes. If Gryffindor wins, we’ll ask him. If not, well, we’ll wait and see if we can get another opportunity.”



The match turned out to be a tense one, with Gryffindor and Hufflepuff neck and neck for much of it. The Hufflepuff Chasers were good and kept possession of the Quaffle for much of the first half hour. It was only James’s expertise as a Keeper that prevented them from pulling significantly ahead.

“Fifty - thirty to Hufflepuff,” Jordan called as James let the Quaffle past him.

“The scores are pretty low, aren’t they?” Derek said.

“That’s thanks to James,” Rose said. “I might not know much about Quidditch, but I can still see the Hufflepuff Chasers are really outplaying Gryffindor’s. As long as James keeps playing as he is, it’s going to come down to the Seekers. Whichever team catches the Snitch should get a good win.”

“Not good news for us,” Albus muttered.

From a Quidditch point of view, Rose supposed it wasn’t. Both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff’s teams were good. A significant win for either of them would put them well ahead of Ravenclaw, who’d lost their first game of the year.

From the point of view of talking to James though, a significant win for Gryffindor could be just what they needed. If anything would put him in a good mood, that would.

Neither Seeker showed any sign of finding the Snitch, however and the game wore on, without either team even pulling significantly ahead. After an hour and a quarter, Gryffindor had sixty points to Hufflepuff’s seventy.

And then the Gryffindor Seeker went into a dive, rising triumphantly with the Snitch in her hand.

The Gryffindors cheered madly.

“I don’t think we should bother James immediately,” Albus muttered, as soon as the din dulled enough to allow him be heard. “He’ll probably want to celebrate with his teammates.”

“We’ll wait outside the castle,” Rose said firmly, “and try and separate him from them there.

He bit his lip, but didn’t argue.

It was cold, waiting outside the castle and as they sat there, it began to rain.

The rain obviously drove the Gryffindor team from their celebrations, as they came hurrying towards the castle almost as soon as it began to fall.

Rose got up and hurried towards them.

“James,” she called.

He rolled his eyes.

“What is it, midget?”

“Come over here a minute.”

“Do you think I’ve nothing better to do than dance to your bidding, Rosie girl? I have a party to attend.” He started to stroll away.

“Ah, come on, James, just a couple of minutes.”

He paused for a second.

“All right then, but only because I feel sorry for you Ravenclaws. Where are you now? Last on the table?”

“Second last,” Albus muttered.

James guffawed.

Rose suddenly realised how she could get him to tell them what, if anything, he knew.

“Ah, but we’ve made some interesting discoveries on the mystery front.” She indicated herself an Albus. “Bet you haven’t found out anything at all.”

“And that’s just where  you’d be wrong, little cuz. In fact, I bet my discoveries are far more significant than anything you two pipsqueaks could figure out.”

She let a sceptical look cross her face. “Let’s hear it then.”

He shook his head. “Why should I share my findings with you guys?”

“I knew it,” she said complacently. “You didn’t manage to find out anything at all, now, did you?”

“Did too!” He sounded about seven years old. “Flint, Orpington and Montague had Charms with the Ravenclaws and they were absolutely right on time. So they couldn’t have been hanging around the Great Hall, hexing anybody or anything.” He sounded triumphant. “What did you guys find out?”

She thought it only fair to give him some information in return.

“Dora’s trunk is magically protected. I think she has something locked away in there.”

A sneering look crossed his face. “What has that to do with anything?”

It was only then that she realised they probably hadn’t told him what they’d learnt from the portraits.

“Some of the portraits in that little room off the Great Hall reckon whoever hexed the memorial might have been invisible.”

James let out a whistle. “That does change thing. Come on though, no second year could make themselves invisi…You think she has an Invisibility Cloak stashed away somewhere?”

“Well, it’s possible, isn’t it?”

“Possible, but not very probable! Those things are expensive, for one thing. Can’t imagine who’d give one to a second year.”

“Your father got his when he was in first year!”

“You know that was a special circumstance. I don’t suppose Dora has any dead parents likely to leave her something so precious.”

She could see his point. Perhaps it was pretty unlikely. And yet…

“Well, what do you think happened, so? It’s hardly any more likely a couple of fourth years have one, is it?”

He thought for a moment. “Maybe not, but I can find out for sure.”

“And how do you intend doing that?”

Reverse psychology had worked pretty well so far, so she figured she may as well continue with it.

He thought for a moment.

“That’s for me to know and you to find out. Maybe. If I feel like telling you.”

He sauntered off.

“In other words, he hasn’t a clue,” Rose commented to Albus. “But he’ll try and figure it out. He won’t want us getting the better of him.”

Now all she had to do was ensure he shared any future discoveries with them.



Thanks to Pheonix Potioneer for her suggestion that Rose should check if Dora had an Invisibility Cloak. She took your advice!

Hope everybody reading has a fantastic Christmas.

And please let me know if you can suggest any improvments to this chapter.


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