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The Rise of the A.W.L. by MargaretLane
Chapter 18 : Searching for a Key.
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4

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 Disclaimer: Everything you recognise belongs J.K. Rowling. No copyright infringement is intended.

Caught up with trying to prove Dora'd cursed Remus's memorial, Rose completely forgot about the approach of November's full moon until she arrived in class on Friday to find Transfiguration being taken by Trelawney, who began by insisting she'd predicted Blackburn's absence.

“I gazed into my crystal ball and saw immediately it would be so.”

“Gazed out the window and saw the full moon, more like,” Angie whispered and Rose tried not to giggle. Did Trelawney really imagine anybody’d be impressed by that prediction?

She'd only just managed to stifle her amusement and turn her attention to the work left for them when Trelawney spoke again.

“I felt an ominous atmosphere as soon as I entered this room," she said impressively. "I am sorry to say someone in this room has a most unfortunate incident in store for them before the term ends."

“Hope it’s Dora,” Rose muttered to Angie, who rolled her eyes.

Suddenly, Trelawney flung out a finger.

“You are the unfortunate young man,” she announced, pointing at Nathan, who promptly tumbled from his seat. Her manner grew more serious. “I wish I could say that that was the worst accident that will befall you this month.”

“What’s going to happen?” he asked in a whisper.

Fionnuala, too, looked completely engrossed.

Trelawney shook her head. “Oh no, my dear, it would be irresponsible of me to say any more. We Seers have an immense responsibility not to cause panic unless it’s truly necessary.”

“Why say anything at all then?” Rose muttered. “Hearing you’re going to suffer an unspecified accident is hardly reassuring.”

She wished Trelawney’d shut up. They'd plenty of work to get through and she'd like to get it finished by the end of the class. If Trelawney was saying anything remotely interesting, it'd be different, but she was just spouting her usual rubbish. Rose didn't believe a word of it.

Nathan, however, seemed less sceptical and he still looked concerned when they finally left the classroom.

“Don’t mind her,” Rose reassured him. “She loves predicting doom and gloom. She apparently predicted Albus’s dad would die about a hundred times in his third year.”

“There are real prophecies though,” Rasmus said thoughtfully. Even he seemed half-inclined to take Trelawney seriously.

“Really?” Angie glanced from him to Rose and back again. “I mean, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised really. It's no weirder than magic existing, I suppose. But she wasn’t exactly very convincing. Not with all that stuff about predicting Blackburn would be ill today.”

“Oh, there are real ones, all right,” Rose said. “Trelawney’s even made a couple. I believe it’s a grand total of two right now.”

Angie snickered.

“It could be true though," Nathan said uncertainly. "You know what a klutz I am."

“Yeah, and Trelawney’s probably heard that from one of the other teachers and that’s why she picked on you,” Rose said. “I wouldn’t pay any attention to her.”

“I thought she was pretty impressive actually,” Fionnuala said dreamily.

Dora rolled her eyes. “You would.”

Rose paused for a moment, reluctant to agree with her.

“She seems impressive, sure,” she said slowly, “but there's nothing behind it. She doesn't know anything really."

The conversation came to an end as they reached the Potions dungeon.

“Well, sit down,” Fairfax said sternly. “Quickly now. We’ve a lot to cover today.”

They sat down, mostly because nobody wanted to incur his wrath, but also because his classes, though nowhere near as much fun as classes like Herbology and Transfiguration, were still always interesting. Despite his stern no-nonsense manner and his apparent lack of interest in his students as individuals, Rose enjoyed Potions far more now than when Slughorn had taught it. Perhaps it was because Fairfax, like Blackburn and Neville, and Jones too, seemed to genuinely love his subject and he seemed utterly convinced they would too if they'd only put in the effort necessary in order to understand it.

To Nathan's dismay the class was a practical one and twenty minutes into the lesson, he managed to knock over his cauldron, spilling its contents all over the classroom.

“Fifteen points from Ravenclaw,” Fairfax said irritably, as he vanished the liquid now spreading across the floor. “I warned you to pay more attention.”

“You see!” Fionnuala announced as they left the classroom. “Trelawney said he’d have an accident.”

“Do you think that was all she meant?” Nathan looked a little more cheerful. “I was afraid I was going to be attacked by a Hippogriff or something.”

Rose sighed. It was hardly unusual for Nathan to knock over a cauldron. Accidents like that were about as difficult to predict as Blackburn being absent the day after a full moon. But if she said so, he’d worry something worse was in store for him, so she decided to keep her mouth shut.

Dora was less tactful.

“Nathan, a three year old child could predict you’d have an accident before the day was out, never mind the term.”

“But Trelawney doesn’t even know us,” Fionnuala pointed out. “How could she possibly have known?”

“I think the fact he fell off his chair in class just might have given her a bit of a clue. Besides, she said something worse than that. Is spilling a potion really any worse than falling over?”

“Yes, it is,” Fionnuala said certainly. “Potions can be dangerous. If Fairfax hadn’t vanished it, who knows what it might have done?”

Listening to the argument, it suddenly occurred to Rose that Dora’d barely mentioned Blackburn’s absence that day. She seemed far more interested in mocking Trelawney’s fake predictions and Fionnuala’s naivety in believing them.

The papers too seemed to have completely lost interest . As far as Rose could see, they hadn’t so much as published a letter from a concerned parent about it that month. It seemed as if it really was over.

And Blackburn seemed to have returned to her old self, Rose realised, when the teacher returned to classes the following week. The wary look was gone from her eyes and Transfiguration had once again become one of the more interesting and enjoyable classes on the timetable.

She did, however, still seem to be avoiding any possible confrontations with Dora or even any unnecessary interactions with her, calling on her only if her hand was raised and barely meeting her eyes at any time. Dora, therefore, continued to do more or less what she liked in class, spending much of the time working on homework for other classes and occasionally muttering under her breath if Nathan had an accident or Blackburn mentioned the word "transformations."

In almost any other class, she'd at least have received a sharp telling-off and quite possibly points would also have been docked from Ravenclaw, but Rose couldn't really blame Blackburn for ignoring her. Dora's relationship with the A.W.L.'s leader meant she could probably make life pretty difficult for Blackburn if she chose to and Rose had no doubt she was more than capable of doing so if Blackburn angered her.

But it was still annoying to see Dora constantly get away with behaviour anybody else would be punished for and made Rose all the more determined she wouldn't get away with cursing Remus's memorial, assuming she had done it.

Somehow she had to get that trunk open, but the question was, how?

 Flitwick might be able to give her some suggestions, she thought. Charms was his speciality after all.

“Erm, Professor.” She paused at his desk after Charms on Thursday.

He looked up.

“Yes, Rose.”

“I was wondering about locking and unlocking charms. There are more complicated spells than Colloportus, aren’t there?”

“Well of course. The simple Locking Spell wouldn’t be much use if you were trying to protect something from wizards, would it? Not when you learn the counter-charm in first year.”

“So what kind of charm would somebody use if they were trying to keep something from being opened by wizards?”

“That’s a difficult question," he said slowly. "It would depend on the item you wanted to keep locked and also on exactly how you wanted to protect it. You realise there are spells which can discourage somebody from even attempting to open something or which can cause harm to anybody who attempts to do so?”

“But say you just wanted to keep something locked? A trunk, for example?”

He looked at her closely.

“This isn’t hypothetical, Rose, is it?”

“Not…not exactly, but I have a good reason for wanting to know, Professor. I promise you that.”

“Perhaps you could tell me exactly what that ‘good reason’ is?”

“I…can’t.” There was no way he’d tell her how to break into another student’s trunk.

“Rose,” he said seriously, “I’d be the first to admit you did some good investigative work last year.” He shook his head, sighing. “You take after your mother. And your father too. And yes, they managed to avert quite a number of crises in their time here. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to try and tackle difficult situations yourself. They got themselves in quite a few scrapes too, I seem to recall.”

“I know that, Sir.”

“So you’ll understand why I’m saying that if you know of anything…untoward happening at Hogwarts, or anywhere else for that matter, you should tell me right now.”

“I don’t, Sir.” She glanced up and met his eyes. “Honestly, I don’t know of anything you don’t.”

“Then do you suspect anything?”

That was a harder one to answer truthfully, because she did, of course. She suspected Dora. But there was no reason she could give Flitwick for doing so. To the best of her knowledge, he knew everything she did.


She shifted slightly. It suddenly occurred to her she did know something the staff might not.

“It’s possible whoever cursed Remus’s memorial might have been invisible.”

He started. “What makes you think that, Rose?”

“I was talking to the portraits. Violet…you know, the portrait in that little room off the Great Hall?”

He nodded.

“She said she thought she saw the staff table shake as if somebody might have bumped against it and then she saw a jet of light as if from a wand, but nobody was there. She thought it might have been Peeves, but…”

To her surprise, he looked quite concerned.

“You should have told me this sooner, Rose. Or one of the other members of staff.”

“Sorry, Professor. I didn’t mean to hide anything, but well, it mightn’t mean anything, after all. It could just have been Peeves.”

“Perhaps,” he said thoughtfully.

“Is it important?” His reaction concerned her a little. Something appeared to be worrying him and she couldn’t quite figure out what it could be.

“I don’t know, Rose, but I’ve a feeling it just might be.”

She sighed, as he turned back to the pile of papers on his desk. She doubted she’d get any more out of him just then. If she asked any more about locking charms, he'd definitely want to know the reason why. He might even guess she was searching for an Invisibility Cloak. And she wasn't at all sure he'd approve. There was a distinct danger he might try and stop her.

No, she'd have to turn to plan B - library research.

“You want us to search through every book in the library in the hopes of finding the charm on Dora’s trunk and lifting it?” Albus stared at her incredulously. “That’ll take forever.”

“Well, I’m hoping we won’t have to read every single book,” she replied. “Ideally, we'd find what we wanted a long time before that. Come on, Albus, what choice do we have? Flitwick isn’t going to help us.”

“He’s right, you know," Albus said thoughtfully, clearly replaying what she'd told him about their conversation in his mind.

“Right about what?”

“We should have told somebody what Violet said about somebody being invisible."

She shrugged. “Yeah, maybe.”

He was right, she supposed, and so was Flitwick. They probably should have said something. The truth was she'd enjoyed figuring things out themselves last year. She'd been proud they'd done it without adult help. Or at least with minimal adult help. Uncle Harry had supplied the Invisibility Cloak.

At that thought, she brightened. She, Albus and James were still the only ones who knew the Invisibility Cloak might be in Dora's trunk. That still put them ahead. If only they could get the trunk opened.

Doing so wasn't going to be easy, she realised as she searched the library for information. Looking up “locking charms”, “locking spells”, “unlocking charms” and “breaking locking spells”, all she found was information on Colloportus and Alohomora, which clearly weren’t going to be any use to her.

She sighed and returned to the bookshelves. Albus was right. There were so many books, it could take them the rest of the year just to find the spell they were looking for, let alone master its countercharm.

But it was the only idea she had right then, so she was going to keep trying. She'd try some of the books aimed at older students. Or even at adults. Something had to include the more difficult spells.

She took down a book on protective charms and returned to the table where Albus was still sitting.

“Find anything?” He looked up from the book he was staring blankly at. She didn’t think he’d turned a page in about twenty minutes.

“Yeah, maybe.”

She turned a few more pages. This book certainly included more difficult locking charms than Alohomora. It described how to charm a door so it would open only to your own fingerprints or your voice or when touched in a certain place or only on a particular day. Some of the spells she recognised as probably being those placed on certain doors at Hogwarts. The problem was few seemed to have counter charms. The whole point was you had to know the trick to open them. Just learning a counter spell wouldn't work. And in some cases, even knowing how to open them wouldn't help. Unless you were the person authorised to do so, you wouldn't be able to.

She sighed again and shook her head.

“What’s wrong?”

“We're not going to be able to get into that trunk unless we at least know what charm is locking it and I don't think a book is going to tell us that."

“So what would?"

“I don’t know. Maybe if we wait until the Christmas holidays. She’ll have to open her trunk to pack it and if I can arrange to be there to see how she does it…” She paused. That wouldn't be easy. If Dora had something in her trunk she was determined nobody should see, so determined she made sure the trunk was magically protected, she wasn’t exactly going to open it in front of anybody, was she? “It’s hopeless, isn’t it?” she said finally.

“Maybe not,” Albus said, but he sounded doubtful.

"Well, we haven't any better plans, so unless we think of something, I'm going to at least give it a shot,” she decided.

He nodded and closed the book in front of him.

 "Not much point in continuing this research, is there?" The thought of being finished seemed to please him.

"I suppose not." She wasn't pleased. She'd very little confidence she could pull off her plan and was struggling to think of a better one.

James didn’t seem to have found out anything either. Or if he had, he wasn’t telling them. She was pretty sure he hadn’t though. Much as he enjoyed taunting them, she thought he enjoyed showing off even more. If he knew anything, he wouldn’t miss out on a chance to gloat about it.

The question was whether that meant there was nothing to find out or just that he hadn't managed it. She was inclined to suspect the former. If the cloak was in Dora's trunk, and she was utterly convinced it was, then searching for it among Flint, Orpington and Montague's belongings was simply doomed to failure.

Albus’s thirteenth birthday fell on the eighth of December, distracting her from the mystery for a short period of time. He should have a party as she'd had, she decided, but as the Hogsmeade weekend wasn't until the following week and the common room was therefore full of students of all ages, the Ravenclaw second years instead gathered in the boys' dormitory.

“How come you can come into our dormitory, but we can’t go into yours?” Derek asked suddenly, as they lounged on the floor and beds. “Doesn’t seem very fair to me.”

“Think it had something to do with the Founders trusting girls more than boys.” Rose shrugged.

“In other words, they had sense,” Angie added.

“Hey!” Derek glared at her.

Angie raised her eyebrows. “Seriously, who’d trust any of you guys?”

“And of course, you girls are completely trustworthy!”

“Yep,” Angie said proudly.

“Yeah, right!” he said sarcastically.

Rose giggled, but she had to agree with Derek. If there was one person in their year she didn't trust, it was Dora, not any of the boys.

She glanced across at her surreptitiously, noticing the smirk that crossed her face. She shouldn't even be at Albus's party, really, not after what she'd done to him the previous year.

Still, Albus didn't seem to mind too much, which she supposed was the important thing. She knew how much he minded being away from his parents and sister on his birthday and of course, James wasn't much help. He hadn't even given Albus a present or even wished him a happy birthday. Too cool to acknowledge his younger brother's birthday publically, she supposed.

He'd better get him a present in Hogsmeade the following weekend, she thought, or she'd be very tempted to have it out with him. Even Lily'd sent a present, accompanied by a letter, bemoaning the fact she wasn't at Hogwarts to celebrate with him. Albus had promised to give her a detailed description of everything he did to celebrate.

And he did seem to be enjoying his party. Somehow, it didn't matter that they were confined to the dormitory as there was still plenty of fun to be had. She just hoped it was keeping him from missing his home and family too much.

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