morning in the library.
Normally Sparrow would be flanking Violet in order to read the book she had
open, but today, she had a tight hold on Jocasta’s right hand, and Jill had Jocasta's other hand. Violet and Miranda were at one end of the table, Cormac at
was twirling a curious flower in her hand, one whose petals perfectly matched the color of her clothing. Sparrow rarely saw the like, save in the scant weeks
between the season of rain and the season of sun, where the blooms blanketed
the hills. Yet those weeks were far off, hard to imagine here in the midst of
misery. So where had she got that flower? Miranda’s garden, perhaps? Or it
could be that the girl had already got into the advanced spells for transfiguration,
which was, for Violet, highly probable.
Cormac, he had his elbows propped on the table, fingers laced together, face
resting on his hands, eyes focused in a pose of troubled contemplation. He had
been highly attentive when Jocasta had let out what details she was willing to
divulge of her thought processes, concerned when Jocasta had admitted that her
actions were likely death-seeking, and then looked seriously disturbed when the girl
had stated that the matter likely rested on a set of topics she dared not
reveal. Whatever his thoughts on the matter, he had not revealed them yet.
go,” said Miranda, flipping open Granger
And Snape’s Advanced Basic Potions to page 53. “A recipe for the Draught of
Peace which should avoid some of the trickier parts of the normal method. Assuming we can get our hands on Bottled Sunlight.”
rolled her eyes. “Can’t we talk about other things? Like the fact that you
haven’t even mastered the vanishing spell yet.”
said Cormac finally letting a wry grin come back to his face, “Now who’s the
is something I wanted to consider,” said Violet, “outside our O.W.L. topics.
This whole speaking-silently thing. One might call it a mind link, or some
manner of reverse legilimency. But we don’t know how it works. We don’t know if
it’s ever been done before.”
said Jill. “I suppose we’re in the right place to look.”
Violet placed the flower in her shirt pocket,
ducked under the table, and brought up a huge book, which she let fall on the
tabletop with a thud. “Already did. This is a short treatise on the subject.
Comparatively short. I was able to skim it fairly quickly. And what do you
think I came up with?”
Violet slapped the cover and said, “Nothing!
In the entire study of legilimency there is nothing about deliberately sending information to people. It’s
always about taking information from someone’s head. A very nasty business, and
if an incompetent wizard does it it’s also incredibly painful.”
shuddered. “Don’t remind me.”
is a different business then,” said Cormac. “Sending, not receiving. I
wonder…it does remind me of something. Hang on.” He rose from the table and
disappeared into the stacks.
looked concerned. “Jocasta,” she said, “did someone try to perform legilimency
LET US NOT DISCUSS THE MORE INTIMATE DETAILS OF MY PRIVATE GRIEFS IN AN OPEN LIBRARY. •
said Miranda. “Although I should note that such a response is, in itself,
fairly telling. You must be more circumspect about how you obfuscate your
be ofuscatory,” said Jocasta. •
BUT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I PREFER TO BE SINCERE. • “Quiet, brain.”
returned with another heavy tome, which he placed on the table with a thump.
“Here,” he said, “records of the Wizarding Wars. Volume 2. I remember coming
across this particular passage a few years ago.” He opened the book and flipped
to page 375. The page, as with every page, was covered in miniscule writing,
but there was an offset block of text near the bottom of the page, and Cormac
pointed to that. “From the diary of Albus Dumbledore,” said Cormac.
I dare not tell the boy everything. For his
mind is linked to Voldemort’s. What he knows, Voldemort knows. To an extent. I
have tried to teach the boy Occlumency and it has been fruitless. I am
disappointed in him. Perhaps it was a bad idea to have Snape do the job. But
Snape is our best occlumens, second only to me.
The part of Voldemort’s soul that lies
within the boy establishes the link. We must find a way to block that link, or
who knows, Voldemort may learn about the link, and may send him a nightmare, or
a falsehood. It is an incredible vulnerability, one we cannot shield with walls
of stone and doors of iron. To shield it we will have to rely upon the strength
of the boy’s will and his ability to learn. Even from a professor he despises.
Maybe I should have picked the third-best
occlumens we have, but Professor Slughorn is nowhere to be found lately. This
is an unsolveable dilemma. Alas for Harry, that he had to become a Horcrux.
Alas that I cannot tell him, for if he knows, Voldemort knows. I wonder if, one
day, he will forgive me for my silence.
said Jocasta. “Cool. I’ve seen one of those.” She glanced up at the rest of her
comrades, who were sitting there silent, staring at Jocasta in wonder and
Cormac glanced nervously at everyone else. “Do you know how a Horcrux is made?”
being absolutely serious?”
described the process, as it was known to the general wizarding community.
Nobody knew the exact steps to split one’s soul besides murder; nobody wanted
to know. Nor, as it seemed, did Jocasta, for upon hearing the basic description
she began to shiver.
some scary shit,” said Jill. “Scarier than what you told me. Where on earth did
you – ”
TAKE A WILD FUCKING GUESS, JILL. •
Jill drummed her fingers on the table. “I see.”
NEW RULE: JOCASTA CARROW NEVER GOES HOME AGAIN. •
looked confused. “Why would you not want to – ”
weren’t supposed to hear that!”
drumming on the table got a little louder.
not,” said Cormac. “And yet, I heard it as well. I think you meant it for all
of us, even of you didn’t think of it. If there’s a Horcrux at your house we
need to tell McGonagall, or somebody.”
It’s fine! It has to be fine!” •
PROBABLY NOT FINE. •“Shut up, brain!”
never fine,” said Violet. “But. Do we believe that it’s an urgent matter?”
BETTER TELL SOONER RATHER THAN LATER. • “God
drumming got a little louder.
stood. “I will go and fetch Professor Longbottom. He needs to hear about this.
You all can stay here, calm down a bit and discuss sweeter topics. Hopefully I
won’t be too long. ‘Scuse.” She took a vial out of her pocket, popped the cork,
and downed it in one go. Suddenly there was a cat streaking out of the library,
and a vial thumping onto the carpet.
the feeling,” said Cormac, “that she doesn’t actually need to become an
Animagus when she has that stuff. Jill, what did you mean about something less
scary than – Jill?”
eyes were glowing red.
pushed her chair back and stood bolt upright.
stood up with her, and tapped her on the shoulder, not flinching when Jill
regarded her with that firey gaze. She motioned to the book stack. ◊◊
SIT HERE WITH ME. ◊◊
upon the floor. Sparrow sat in her lap. They held each other tight.
sat herself down beside them and lay her head against Jill’s shoulder. Her shivering
and Violet sat down in front of the three, looking thoroughly confused and
house,” said Cormac. “The Carrow mansion. Carraw Hall. Well, I never wanted
to go there before and I certainly will not go there now. Not that it’s – I
mean – You said you wouldn’t go there again. I assume you’re sincere in such a
statement, even to the extent of defying the orders of your parents?”
be so,” said Cormac. “And if it be so, that we must aid you in this defiance,
and defend you from wrath, then let it be so. I will certainly pledge my wand
to that cause.”
“You have my wand as well," said Violet.
Cormac glanced at Jill.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO DEFEND ME AGAINST ANY ENEMY OUT OF THE PAST. BUT YOU MAY NEED TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST ME. †††††
Sparrow hugged Jill tighter.
"It sounds as though you need help of a different sort. The same sort that Jocasta needs. Perhaps you all do."
need help,” said Jocasta. •
“Oh for God’s sake!” She shook her head. “We’ve gotten quite off track,
we,” said Cormac. “I wonder.” He stood, and went back to the table, where the record
of the Wizarding War still lay. “Harry Potter as a Horcrux. Hm. There’s
something here I’m missing.” He traced his finger over the tiny text. “How was
the mind link established?”
said nothing, nor when she rose did she come to stand beside Cormac. Nor, when
she came to stand at the end of the table, did she face her friends, but stood
with her back to them, hands clasped behind her.
Jill, and Sparrow exchanged glances. They rose as one, and came to stand at the
table, Sparrow and Jill no longer clinging to each other quite as tight as
before. Not that Sparrow dared let go completely.
Jocasta, for her part, gave Sparrow a
peck on the cheek, then went to look over the book with Cormac.
said Cormac, tapping the page. “Dark magic. There’s the key.”
me?” said Jill.
the key difference,” said Cormac. “Harry’s link to Voldemort’s head was
established in the act of turning the poor boy into a Horcrux. And none of us
glanced at Jocasta.
certain I would remember if that had been done to me,” said Jocasta. •
PROBABLY. • “Oh just – ” She pulled a chair backward
roughly and sat down heavily. “Keep going.”
Well. One mind link and another. One established through dark magic and the
other established through…what, exactly? What is the common factor between
these two sorts of psychic links? What is the basic mechanism of the mind link
for the Horcrux?"
"Well?" said Jocasta. "Spit it out."
"I don't know the answer," said Cormac. "That's why I'm asking you."
Soul,” said Violet, without turning around. “The basic mechanism of the Horcrux
is to split one’s soul and place it in an object. That is what happened to
harry Potter, even if by accident.”
“Oh, yes,” said Cormac. “In the act of
Voldemort killing himself. Quite the Own Goal. Now, the basic mechanism itself does
not seem dark, does it?”
certainly could be seen that way,” said Jill.
talking real basic,” said Cormac. “The pure mechanics of the thing, the idea of
putting a part of one’s soul in an object. Hell, people do it by accident in a metaphorical sense when
they love an object too dearly. It’s the process that matters here. Were it
possible to lodge a bit of one’s soul in an object, or perhaps a person,
without resorting to dark methods…hm.” Cormac stroked his chin. “I suppose it
would have to be truly voluntary to be less than dark, wouldn’t it. Sounds
a bit romantic when I think about it. Anyway!” Cormac closed the book with a
thump. “Do we know of any spell that could do such a thing?”
of none,” said Violet.
want to turn around and actually talk to us?” said Jocasta.
threw up her hands in silent exasperation.
apologies,” said Violet. She turned back to her friends. “I have simply been
lost in thought for the past few minutes. As for this business…Mr. Potter's horcrux
was an accident and so is whatever is happening here. But I can’t say it’s the
same thing, can I? You need to cast a spell to do a Horcrux. And this whole
thing just…happened. Somehow. No wand involved, no spell involved.”
PERHAPS NOT. ◊◊
have an idea, then?”
PROFESSOR BUDGE TOLD ME THAT THERE IS AN EMOTIONAL COMPONENT TO SPELLS. WE ARE
TAUGHT, AS STUDENTS, THAT THEY DEPEND UPON DETERMINATION AND INTENT TO BEGIN
still need to cast a spell to do magic,” said Violet. “Even without a wand.”
SAVE FOR THE RANDOM WILD SWINGS OF MAGIC
THAT YOUNG CHILDREN MANIFEST. ◊◊
a good point.”
AND THE BLESSING THAT LILY POTTER GAVE HER
SON, IN THE MOMENT OF HER SACRIFICE. PERHAPS, IN A DESPERATE MOMENT, MAGIC
MIGHT ARISE FROM EMOTION ALONE. ◊◊
Violet at last stood closer. She
took the book from Cormac and flipped to the beginning of the records of the
Second Wizarding War. “There was something about Harry Potter’s early
childhood…here. It says he magicked himself to the rooftop to escape some
bullies at school, without intending to.”
THERE YOU GO. ◊◊
said Jocasta. “Harry’s incident was a matter of desperation. And so was mine,
come to think of it. But when Sparrow managed to Send…well, the first thing I heard
from her was ‘I love you’ . But she also Sent to you, Cormac?"
"I would also call that a moment of desperation."
"I’m still not sure what the common factor is here.”
thought to all the times she had Sent to someone. What had proceeded each
instance? Not simply “I love you,” but also “I am sorry.” For the most part.
There were times when neither had been the case, and she was only saying
something she needed to say, but didn’t want to.
THE TIMES I HAVE SPOKEN IN THIS WAY…THINK.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE SO MUCH TROUBLE SAYING 'I LOVE YOU'? IT IS FOR THE SAME
REASON THAT THEY FEAR TO SAY 'I AM SORRY.' I KNOW THE REASON. CAN YOU GUESS IT? ◊◊
apologize sincerely is to surrender,” said Jill. “It’s a moment in which you
put your heart in the hands of another. Or a bit of your soul, you might say.
Is that it? A whisper of the heart? Is that the link?”
explain the first time,” said Jocasta. “Doesn’t explain how I reached you.”
said Jill, with a wry grin. “I don’t know. I think you did surrender to me before that evening. Or did you not intend to
honor the terms of our duel after all?”
grinned from ear to ear.
pushed back her chair, stood bolt upright, rolled herself right over the table,
stood in front of Sparrow, grabbed her shoulders, put her face close and –
shook her head. ◊◊
MANDRAKE LEAF, REMEMBER? ◊◊
OH, BUT THERE IS THE REST OF YOUR FACE, MY DEAR. •
well rewarded for it.
them, Jill, Cormac, and Violet laughed enough to make each of them grateful
that this was a Sunday
morning, such that no other student was mad enough to be in the library and
find themselves disturbed by the racket.
said Jill, “when I am ready, and less fearful of myself, I will give my little
Sparrow as many kisses as I am holding back from her now, for suggesting the
terms of that duel.”
not all at once,” said Cormac. “Can someone drown in kisses?”
THEY CAN RUN OUT OF AIR. BREATHE, GIRL. ◊◊
finally let go of Sparrow’s neck and caught her breath. “They certainly can.
Whoo! Alright, so besides Miranda and Jill I can say that Sparrow saved me from
certain doom, even if it was entirely by accident. You all did in your own way
on that night.” •
I LOVE ALL MY FRIENDS. •
said Cormac. “And you know, when I think about Jocasta’s experience here, I
think that the link will permit no lie. I think one can only Send things that
they truly – ” He paused, and looked at Violet beside him. She had the flower in her hand again, but if Cormac registered it, he was not glancing at it, for he and Violet held each other's gaze without blinking.
remained in that position for a good ten seconds while Jill, Jocasta, and
Sparrow all exchanged glances. It would have been very easy for them to discuss
the situation silently between themselves, but none of them wanted to risk
interrupting whatever was happening.
was happening involved the two getting real close. They held each other in a
gentle embrace. Violet caressed Cormac’s cheek, and tucked the lavender flower
behind his ear. Then they pressed their foreheads together, and remained that
way, eyes closed.
know,” murmured Jocasta, “I daresay I’ve been upstaged.”
the two parted, though not very far from each other. “Alright then,” said
Violet. “I think we ought to be finding Professor Longbottom if he’s taking his
time getting to us. Come on.”
was the Headmistress stepping out of the stacks, flanked by Miranda. “My apologies,”
said McGonagall. “I arrived here a few minutes ago but had no wish to intrude
upon your more personal business. As for why I am so late in reaching you, it
is because I most certainly did not expect to be woken up for anything on a
certainly started moving faster when Longbottom told you it was about a
Horcrux,” said Miranda, as she stepped out from behind the stacks wtih Professor Longbottom in tow.
Well. If it had been anyone besides you two I would have thought they had been
goaded by their friends into trying to hoodwink me. But I had to entertain the
possibility that you had got yourself into yet another fine mess. Now, what exactly is this Horcrux you’re referring
“It’s nothing!” said
THERE’S A HORCRUX AT MY HOUSE AND I’M SCARED
TO GO HOME BECAUSE I WAS JUST INFORMED ABOUT HOW THEY WERE MADE AND I WOULD NOT PUT IT PAST MY FATHER TO HAVE
MADE IT GODDAMMIT I SHOULDN’T HAVE SAID THAT I SHOULDN’T HAVE SAID THAT AAAAAAAAAAA – •
YOU ARE HERE. NOT THERE. AND WE ARE HERE WITH YOU, ALWAYS. ◊◊
I KNOW. THAT'S WHY I'M NOT JUMPING OUT THE WINDOW RIGHT NOW. •
“I see,” said McGonagall. She chewed her
upper lip for a moment. “And you’re not joking. No, you don’t sound like it."
"Jocasta," said Professor Longbottom, "you are certain of this? Couldn't be mistaking one thing for another?"
took a deep breath. “I…am certain that I am not mistaken. Excuse me one moment.
Sparrow, your other arm, if you please?” She put an arm around Sparrow’s waist
as Sparrow put an arm around hers. “Thank you. Now where was I, oh yes.
Horcrux. Ahem. Yes. When I was a wee little Wizard, I found the old ring in a
cupboard – ”
tell if you’re having us on,” said McGonagall.
stalling,” said Jocasta. “I was four years old and I went searching through
some of the furniture in a dusty forgotten hallway. Found a ring in a drawer
and I thought it looked nice, but I couldn’t understand why it was whispering
to me. And it made me feel all funny. Kind of queasy, really. So I asked my
Father about it. He whisked it away and I never saw the thing again…but years
after that Bertrand told me it must have been a Horcrux. But he wouldn’t tell
me what a Horcrux was, no matter how much I asked him, and when I asked anyone
else they pretended not to hear me. So there we go, that’s a childhood mystery
turned into a fucking nightmare! Are
not,” said McGonagall. “But I am satisfied by your description. I will send a
letter to – no. This requires floo powder. I will be busier than ever,
children, but I imagine you will be as well. Professor Budge is my deputy until
I get back, and do pay attention to Professor Clearwater. Good luck.” She
turned to go.
GOOD LUCK. ◊•°≠†∫
McGonagall paused, and turned back to the children, giving them a look of satisfied amusement. Then she disappeared into the stacks.
"Sounds like you're all figuring this out," said Professor Longbottom.
"We've got the general idea," said Cormac.
"Excellent. Keep up that level of study, and you should have no trouble passing your exams. Jocasta, meet me in my office after dinner. We have much to discuss."
He did not wait for a reply, but left the same way McGonagall had gone, leaving five children to wonder about the past and the future of
night, three girls slept in the large bed of the Dorm Room of Requirement. One between
them made no effort to escape the other two. Indeed, she held them as close as
they held her.