Act I, Chapter 7: Knowledge is Power
The holidays did not exactly feel like holidays for Harry and Ginny. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning they met with Professor Dumbledore and Professor Lupin in Professor Lupin's office to practice the Patronus Charm. Lupin had procured a Boggart for the duo to practice with. Due to both the creatures themselves and the horrifying dreams they brought forward, Harry and Ginny were understandably terrified of the things, so the Boggart transformed into a Dementor upon seeing them. Christmas was now slowly approaching and while Dumbledore and Lupin were both incredibly impressed by Harry and Ginny's progress, neither could produce more than a faint white mist. The Phoenix and Dragon Rune on Harry's arm didn't seem to care much about the Boggart Dementor. Ginny thought it was because the Boggart couldn't actually hurt them, so it didn't perceive it as a threat. Harry wasn't sure what to think. Between the Anti-Dementor lessons and their continuous search for more information in both the Hogwarts Library and the Marauders Library on both Dementors and the Zodiac Runes, Harry and Ginny were utterly exhausted by the end of each day and were often found falling asleep in the common room or the Home. Hermione had caught them both asleep on Harry's bed in the Home at one point and had screamed rather loudly.
In fact, the only person who seemed to have taken on more work than Harry and Ginny was Hermione. She was constantly studying in either the Home or a corner of the common room she had appropriated. Harry swore it sometimes seemed as though she was in both places at once.
It got so bad that she had constant rings around her eyes and ignored anyone who tried to talk to her. It was all Ron, Harry and Ginny could do to force her to sleep at night.
Harry was rereading Ancient Runes of Forgotten Civilisations in the Common Room when he had an idea. It was probably a terrible idea, but it was an idea none the less. Pulling himself up from his seat, he made his way over to Hermione's self-appointed 'corner'.
"Hermione, I've got an idea," Harry said, tapping her shoulder. Her nose was buried in her Muggle Studies textbook.
"Not now Harry," Hermione said mechanically.
"But it's a really good one," he tried.
"That's nice," she told him as she continued to scribble with her quill.
Harry sighed, time to pull the big guns, "Hermione I finished the Ancient Runes assignment before you." Harry winced as his friend instantly spun around with a stunned look on her face.
"Impossible, show it to me, you must have done it wrong, I'm only half way through mine, are you sure you've finished it…" Hermione's look of shock was replaced by annoyance as she saw him barely keeping his laughter in check.
"Honestly Harry, that's not nice. Not nice at all," she said pointedly.
"I'm sorry, but I really do have an idea that might help you handle everything," he told her.
A sparkle appeared in her eyes as her lips twisted into a smile.
"How?" she asked hesitantly.
"Close your eyes." Hermione furrowed her brow but followed his instruction. Harry opened the book to the right page and made sure he had the image memorised, before pulling out his wand. He grabbed Hermione's left arm with his free hand and held it out, so the inside of her arm was facing upwards.
"Don't flinch," he told her. She nodded her head. Harry steadied his hand and placed his wand tip against her bare arm.
"Scribo," he whispered, and his wand tip glowed a faint gold. Taking a deep breath, he began to trace. A curved vertical line with a flare at its peak, a short diagonal line adjacent to the first, then a straight horizontal line with a flick at the end. Harry let out a deep shuddering breath of relief and extinguished his wand.
"You can open your eyes," Harry said, taking a series of breaths to try and calm his racing heart.
Hermione cracked her eyelids and stared in shock and horror at the black tattoo now resting beneath her skin, without so much as a burn to indicate its placement.
"What did you do?" She asked slowly, her voice low and venomous.
"Read this," he said handing her the book. Hermione snatched it and stared at it. She flicked the page, then the next, then the next, then the next, then the next, before looking up at him.
"Harry! I can't believe you just did that!" She exclaimed. She grabbed her arm and almost dropped the book.
"Hermione, you just read the whole chapter," Harry pointed out, a Cheshire grin spreading across his face.
"Obviously." She said irritably. "What are you smirking at! You just gave me a bloody tattoo, and it didn't even do anything!"
"Hermione you read it in about ten seconds." Hermione's look of outrage vanished. She looked from the rune to the book, to Harry, then back to the rune.
"What did you do?" She asked, her voice tinged with awe rather than rage.
"I don't know how you're taking all these subjects, or why you're pushing yourself so hard, and I know I can't convince you to stop without making you have a go at me, but I can give you some extra tools to help you do it. Maybe now you'll be able to handle your course load. I don't know how long it will last, or how well it will work. You're not supposed to even try to draw runes until sixth year, and well, I just drew a Zodiac Rune so who knows what could happen?" Harry smiled at her as she turned back to her Muggle Studies book and began giggling. She started flipping through her book, changing page every few seconds, a massive smile plastered on her face, while Harry turned back to Ancient Runes of Forgotten Civilisations.
The Pisces Rune
The Pisces Rune, also known as the Knowledge or Wisdom Rune, is one of the most useful of all the Zodiac Runes. It was revealed upon his death that Albert Einstein, the famous Human Physicist and discoverer of Special Relativity (Purebloods gloss over here) actually had the rune branded upon him as a child by persons unknown (ten galleons says it was someone with self-esteem issues and a fetish for black clothing).
This rune, unlike most of the other Zodiac Runes, is more effective when used on a person than an object. When used on an object, the subject will permanently retain all information stored within it more efficiently than even the most advanced Data Processor. However, the rune does not aid in the ability to contain or extract information from the subject, so using it on a rock isn't going to do much.
Using the rune on a person is much more productive. Application of the rune increases the bearer's ability to retain and process information, bestowing upon them the magical equivalent of an eidetic memory. The subject will remember with perfect accuracy everything learned while the rune is active.
Possible functions include:
• Enhanced Memory
• Encyclopaedic Knowledge
• Accelerated Probability: The power to predict the outcomes of and what choices one could make.
• Causality Perception: The ability to perceive and understand all-cause and effect relations.
• Hypercognition: The power to perform complex mental operations beyond those of an ordinary human mind.
• Parallel Processing: The ability to carry out multiple thought processes at once.
Usage of the Pisces Rune does not increase the user's Intelligence, merely their ability to process and retain gathered information. In other words, if an idiot uses the rune, they will still be an idiot. The Pisces Rune also does not, despite any propaganda that contradicts what follows, bestow increased mental power or ability on the bearer. The Rune does not alter brain patterns.
Functions the Rune will not bestow:
Usage of the Pisces Rune is relatively simple and is one of the easiest runes to draw. The Pisces Rune is NOT PERMANENT! It will fade over time. As such, any mistakes made in the creation of the rune are not overly dangerous, they will merely limit its potency and lifespan. The Rune can also be easily removed manually through the use of the 'Eradicus' Spell mentioned in Chapter 1: Ancient Runes – What the Fuck are They and How do I Draw Them.
Possible Side-effects of using the Pisces Rune:
• Addiction: Due to the temporary nature of this rune, addiction to its effects are a risk.
• Intuitive Aptitude: A dangerous mental condition by which the afflicted can instantly learn and understand the complexity of their environment, leading to social detraction, migraines, sociopathic thoughts, psychopathic thoughts and actions and complete mental breakdown.
Thanks to the Pisces Rune, Hermione apparently finished all her remaining work in three hours, as she was back to her usual cheery self by dinner.
Unfortunately, Hermione's miraculous return to normal –aside from her constantly thanking Harry and wearing a not too subtle red hair scrunchy around her forearm like an armband to hide the rune – did not solve all the other problems Harry still had to deal with.
Hermione and Ginny steadfastly refused to let him go into Hogsmeade, and Harry had begrudgingly agreed that they were probably in the right. Every Gryffindor was reminded of Black's violent attack on the Fat Lady every time they attempted to enter the tower, which was now guarded by the annoying Sir Cardogan, who kept challenging people to duels. Opening the Hogsmeade Anchor was not an option. Padfoot's hand on the clock continued to point to School, except once, when it had moved to Diagon Alley temporarily, before returning to School once more. Thankfully, Hermione had agreed to buy his presents from the village for him, on the proviso she not tell anyone what they were.
Harry was also having a hard time deciding which broomstick to get as a replacement for his Nimbus 2000, which had blown into the Whomping Willow after he had fallen from it.
Hermione's new memory powers did come in handy during the quintets crusade to help Hagrid save Buckbeak the Hippogriff's life. Her ability to remember completely everything she learned was a huge help in searching through trial information. She sat in a chair for fifteen minutes, read three books concerning the operation of the Wizengamot – The Wizarding Parliament – then took an hour explaining it to them while simultaneously writing notes they could all refer back to later. Harry had to admit her lectures were much better than Professor Binns.
Harry was also worried about was Jessica's warning. Malfoy hadn't played a single prank on Harry, despite the Twins charming the forks at the Slytherin table to attack him and turning his uniform pink. Ginny also quite proudly and vocally claimed credit for making the blonde git jump up on the Slytherin table on Christmas Eve and start belting out Christmas Carols.
Harry really wanted to talk to Jessica again, but she had apparently gone home for the holiday break, as had Ginny's friends Matt, Luna and Foggy and most of her roommates. The only second-year Gryffindor besides Ginny who had stayed was Luke Cage, the boy who had carried her to the Hospital Wing after the Quidditch Match. Ginny had made a point of thanking and apologising profusely to him, all the while turning cherry red. The twins had fallen off the couch in hysterics, Ron had looked about ready to murder the poor boy, and Percy applauded her for showing proper respect and decorum. Harry and Hermione, taking the safer and more entertaining route, had helped her take revenge by vanishing all four of her brothers' clothes in the middle of the Common Room, leaving them in nothing but their boxers, to the great amusement of Angelina and Alicia.
For Harry, Christmas morning arrived early and loudly.
"Presents!" Ron yelled, throwing a pillow at him. Muttering several unsavoury words at his best friend, Harry pulled himself to his feet, bundled up his presents in his arms and trudged downstairs to meet the others. Fred and George were sitting with their eyes closed. They had apparently been Ron's first victims. Harry dumped his presents on the floor and plunked down near the fire.
"Ronald Weasley, get your thrice accursed arse down here where I can hex you!" Ginny screamed, storming down the girls-staircase, wand in hand. Harry ducked down behind the back of his chair as Ginny stormed up to the boys' dormitories in her green and yellow floral print dressing gown that clashed garishly with her hair.
"What's Ginny going on about?" Hermione asked as she walked down the staircase with her own presents, Crookshanks slinking down beside her.
"She's trying to murder Ron," Harry supplied, poking his head up and patting the seat beside him. Hermione delicately placed her packages on the ground and sat down.
"ARGHHHHHHHHHH!" Ron's scream was followed by a thud and a crash as he came sliding down the stairs on his face.
"That explains that I suppose," Hermione said with a shrug.
"Waddiwasi!" Ginny cried, running down the stairs behind him.
Ron scrambled to his feet, but not fast enough to avoid the high-speed pillow that careened into his face, which then exploded in a cloud of feathers.
"That'll teach you to wake me up in the morning before I'm good and ready!" Ginny huffed and stormed back up to her dormitory.
"Well that was an entertaining start to the morning," Fred stated while George just sat with his mouth open.
"George, close your mouth," Ginny stated as she walked back into the Common Room with her presents. She stepped on Ron, who was still on the floor trying to spit feathers out of his mouth and sat on the other side of Harry. Harry and Hermione couldn't help but edge slightly away from her.
"So," Ginny said, a cheery smile on her face, "who wants to go first?"
Harry and Hermione both received Weasley jumpers that year. Harry's was red and had a golden Gryffindor Lion knitted on the front. Hermione's was violet with a light blue book on it. Ginny and the Twins took great delight at laughing at Ron, whose jumper was maroon – his least favourite colour – again. The entire group also laughed when Ginny and George realised their jumpers had been in the wrong packages. George refused to take Ginny's jumper off, wearing it across his chest like a crock-top. Ginny was fine with it as she liked George's green jumped better than her yellow one anyway.
Hermione gifted Harry an old book titled Runes and the Stars, and Harry gave her an immaculate copy of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with gold tinted pages and beautiful illustrations he had been holding onto since his stay in London. Harry and Ron gave each other three packets of Chocolate Frogs. Harry bought Ginny a set of silver earrings with emeralds embossed inside them, which earned him a very un-Ginny like squeal and a very tight hug which left both of them blushing to the amusement of Hermione, Fred and George. Ginny's present was a blue and white knotted friendship bracelet with a lapis lazuli at its peak she had made herself. Harry immediately slipped it on his wrist then kissed Ginny on the cheek and hugged her right back, ignoring the catcalls made by the twins, the knowing smirk on Hermione's face and the look of absolute fury on Ron's. Then it was the Twins turn. George picked up a thick square-shaped package wrapped in pink from Harry.
Missing the wink Harry sent Ginny's way, George ripped the paper open, and a cloud of black smoke burst out. When it finally cleared, George's hair was all standing on end, and his eyebrows were a big bushy white, prompting everyone – including himself – to burst out laughing.
"You've just been pranked by Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs," Harry exclaimed, clapping his hands standing up and taking a bow. The package slipped from George's hands, hitting the floor with a thunk. Fred and George were now staring at Harry, jaws slack and mouths hanging open.
"Was it something I said?" Harry asked them.
"How do you…"
"know the Marauders?" they asked in awe. Harry frowned and pointed at the package. Fred bent down and tore the paper away, revealing a red book with a golden title:
Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Purveyors of Aid to Magical Mischief Makers
Are Proud to Present
The Marauders Handbook
"The Marauders were my Dad, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and Professor Lupin. They were all best mates at school… wait a minute, how do you know about them?" Harry asked, suddenly confused.
Fred, who was still staring in shock at the book Harry had retrieved from the Marauders Library, pulled a piece of blank parchment from his pocket and handed it to George, who took it, opened it, and placed it on the coffee table. He pulled out his wand and whispered,
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
Tiny black lines began to trace their way across the parchment, filling the entire paper. At the top was scrawled in his father's hand:
Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Purveyors of Aid to Magical Mischief Makers
Are Proud to Present
The Marauders Map
Harry's jaw fell open. It was a map of the entire castle, with every corridor and every secret passage outlined. But the truly incredible thing was, sitting right in the room marked 'Gryffindor Common Room' were six tiny black dots labelled; Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley, Fred Weasley, George Weasley and Ginevra …
"Holy cricket," Hermione gasped, "this thing shows everyone…"
"Everyone," George confirmed.
"Where they are," Fred added.
"What they're doing," George continued.
"Every minute of every day," they finished together.
"It's bloody weird how you can do that," Ron muttered.
"The Handbook talks about a Map, but I could never figure out what it was," Harry muttered, staring at the names. Professor Dumbledore was in his office, pacing.
"Where'd you get it?" he asked.
"Well… when we were in our first year, young carefree and innocent –,"
"– well, more innocent than we are now at least."
"we got in a spot of trouble with Filch for dropping a Dungbomb, and dragged to his office…"
"and inside what do we notice but a draw that's marked Confiscated and Highly Dangerous."
"You didn't!" Hermione exclaimed.
"So, while Georgy boy here drops another Dungbomb, I reached into the drawer and pulled out the first thing I got my hands on; a ratty old piece of parchment," Fred narrated
"Imagine our disappointment," George moaned.
"But we didn't give up. There had to be a reason this piece of paper just happened to be in that draw. So, we started casting revealing charms on it, and low and behold the Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs start insulting us!"
"Took us four months and a lot of insulting to figure it out, but eventually we cracked the password, and this became the ultimate secret to our success."
As the twins narrated their legendary exploits, Ginny was staring at the map, brows furrowed.
"What's wrong with my name?" She asked them.
Harry glanced back at the map. Sure enough, her name only read 'Ginevra …', there was no last name.
"Don't know. It started doing that after the Chamber last year."
"We spent hours staring at it, trying to find the bloody thing, but it turns out even the Marauders didn't know about it."
"Well that makes sense, none of them were Parselmouths, and you have to be one to get inside. The entrance is in the second-floor girls' bathroom," Harry said off handily, still staring at the map. Professor Lupin's name was labelled Moony and was floating in his office.
"That's weird," Fred muttered.
"We did see some kid called Tom Riddle go in there one time,"
"Didn't think anything of it though."
"We assumed he was a firsty got lost," George said, frowning. Harry glanced at Ginny who had gone white as a sheet. She nodded slightly, and Harry pulled out his wand, tracing the words Tom Marvolo Riddle in the air. He then flicked it slightly, and the words rearranged into the foreboding message: I am Lord Voldemort.
Fred and George both went deathly pale.
"The Map must have detected you weren't in control of your actions and recorded it as You-Know-Who instead," Hermione whispered, staring at the map with a critical eye. Hermione's statement seemed to make Ginny feel a whole lot better, as Harry caught the small smile that appeared on her face. He wasn't sure what it was that did it, but he was glad it did.
"It must be your neck thingy, could be interfering with the signal or something," Ron said, answering Ginny's original question.
"Must be…" Ginny said softly, but Harry could tell her thoughts were miles away.
"Harry, we don't mean to be rude but…"
"Where on earth did you get this?" George asked, holding up the Handbook. Harry grinned and pointed to the Sixth-Floor corridor.
Harry led the twins, with Ron, Hermione and Ginny trailing behind them, up to the painting of the silver city. He placed his thumb on the Rune and whispered,
"Marauders Forever." Fred and George grinned as the portrait swung open, revealing the Home. They made their way inside as Harry told the twins all he knew about the Marauders and his suspicion that Sirius Black might be innocent. As they made their way into the lounge room, they stopped dead. Sitting on the counter was a long, thin package in dark paper.
Harry walked hesitantly over to it and picked up the card sitting against it.
Sorry I've missed the last twelve Christmases. Hopefully, this goes a little way towards making it up to you. Don't believe everything you hear about me. It's a long story that deserves to be told in person.
Harry tore away the paper, and everyone's mouths fell open in awe.
Sitting on the bench was a brand-new state of the art Firebolt.