The Library of Lost Wands, chapter 2
by Antonia Zenkevitch
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Chapter 2; Cawsai Revellium
Lindsay wondered if the person responsible for the disappearances was near her now, in the close confines of the train. Had she seen them in the chaos outside, and if so, were they now unpacking in a nearby cabin. Perhaps they were plotting the steps towards wizarding war as the vanished seers had warned. Trying to sow division in the magical community seemed all the more treacherous here on the Eagle. This great engine bought people together from across the continent and the world.
Beyond Amos Quirrel’s obvious Ravenclaw house pride, he and fellow magical engineer Jacque Marc Lumez had bestowed upon their beloved invention the names of witches from many international magical houses of learning. They honoured those who had increased opportunities for magical travel, study, and cooperation. The engines under their charge pulled carriages called Ottaline, Helga, Evangeline, Nova Nerida, and Benedita. A passenger favourite was Fancourt carriage, named after the witch who had invented the lunarscope. Into this carriage the elegant woman of crinoline had ascended, very probably with her mint-stripped friend’s small dog stowed away under her skirts.
Lindsay had heard Amos and his wife favoured a carriage bedecked in cranberry and sky-blue velvet. Maps of the world hung here, each bewitched with the homonculous charm so passengers could chart their own progress across the continent whilst also being able to track the current whereabouts of well- known magical explorers. This carriage was named ‘Sayre Story’. Its namesake was Isolt Sayre who used the alias, Elias Story to cross the Atlantic to a new life. It was she who had become a founder of Ivermorny School, where Quirrel’s wife had been taught many moons later. Some of Annie Quirrel ancestors had been Sayres while other branches of her family tree knew America before the Europeans came. Annie had once told Amos that her antecedent, Isolt, before leaving for the ‘New World’, had always wanted to be a member of the Hogwarts house he’d so loved being part of. The story had touched Amos deeply.
Lindsay walked on until she found where her digs were to be. Wildsmith was a carriage bedecked with inventions once mocked, that the magical community had come to depend upon. Ignatia Wildsmith had come from a family of blacksmiths in Lancashire centuries ago, and invented floo power, which communities the world over now used to travel from hearth to hearth. The same substance helped power this magnificent train. Amos Quirrel often jested that both he and Ignatia had been ridiculed for their explosive experiments and sooty appearance. Yet across the centuries they had both, despite the incredulity of many of their peers, pioneered new modes of wizarding travel.
She turned her back against billows of steam and the shrill bellows of the nasty witch from the Department of Control of Magical Creatures still uselessly demanding the recovery of a (by now well-chewed) wand. Close by, the goblins and Fion Heinz chuckled among themselves. Grawgun giggled “Now look who is the wandless one.”
As Lindsay walked through the carriage doors, her red carpet bag jangling, the noise of passengers and engine preparing to depart dimmed. The hush became so complete it was as if someone had cast a muffliato charm. Cherry and rowan wood panels hinted of stories past and yet to be told as she found her way along the long corridor to her cabin. It was beautiful, in hues ice blue, soft copper, forest greens, oak and birchwood. There was a washstand with a sink ever full of fresh, warm rose water to one side of a softly upholstered coach chair which she knew would turn into a spacious bed at the flick of a wand. An ever- filling carafe of gilliwater sat alongside a tall glass on a small nightstand containing a safe which was bewitched with every magical concealment. Lindsay knew that when an object was placed inside only its rightful owners could retrieve it.
She shrugged off her coat and stowed her cloche hat on a high shelf. A tiny set of draws stood in the far corner of the little cabin. Above a compact hanging rail, a small, slowly revolving bookcase was suspended, its contents changing at intervals to meet the needs of the cabin’s resident. It reminded her of the library in Ravenclaw tower and made her feel immediately at home. She half expected to see the gallery of portraits of famous alumni of the house coaxing and cajoling each new house member. She had a flashback of huddles of students and portraits sharing knowledge on less known areas of magic across millennia. She wished she had a magical portrait of her brother to talk to, but she could hear his voice without one.
A glimmer of feathers and scales bought her back to the present. Intricate mother of pearl animal carvings stretched and gambolled playfully beneath the polished silver birch of her bedside table. Shaking herself, she carefully lifted her greatest treasures from her clanking bag. Two shallow basins called pensieves, full of memories. One was plain and imposing, with a ministry seal etched on its stonework. The other was more intricate, rough-hewn silver, decorated with a mystical bird called an occamy. She placed both carefully in the safe, stroking the occamy as she did so. The occamy stretched out to accept her affection before curling back into itself around the silver eggshell. Joining both pensieves were her official, ministry log book, a much-read personal letter dated January 1917 and a quill made from the feather given to her brother by an Augury.
An unpacking charm neatly arranged her few remaining possessions. Her own library lived at her aunts, but the majority of her life went everywhere with her. The grey twill dress, cotton blouse, velvet panel tunic, blue drape evening dress and a brightly beaded scarf hung near her coat. The cream Aran shawl that was once her grandmothers lay folded by her nightdress. Undergarments, a copper brooch, two decorative hairpins, one with an amethyst flower, a homemade lace bandeau, cocoa butter, soap balls, geranium rouge, and hairbrush were packed in draws beside her paper, quill, ink and a book on ancient runes.
Hers was a secretive, lonely role, the quiet spy sent to read the minds, not of national leaders but of ordinary people, seers, and fellow legilimens. As a young recruit, she was generally only sent to ‘take the temperature of a situation’ as her superiors called it. This was different; dangerous, personal. Her mission was to trace and validate a worryingly recurrent prophecy about events occurring now that would lead to both non-magic and wizarding communities across Europe falling into renewed conflict. While collecting and mapping seer’s visions, she’d identify then follow suspects aboard the train, trying to stay safe as she did so. All those missing had almost all been seen on the train or along its route in the months before they vanished.
She had to access the risks and, she hoped, dismiss them. Her own instincts and foresight told her it may well be otherwise. She must hide her mission, along with her own private need to find out what happened to her brother. If anyone asked, which they rarely did, her cover was also a long-term hobby of hers; the study of lost and hidden magical civilizations.
Splashing rose water from the basin on her face she exchanged her loose chemise, sash belt and long pleated skirt for her evening dress; ice gauze layering queen blue and deep azure that stopped at her ankles. She pinned the small copper brooch on one of her neat grey shoes and straightened her moonstone necklace. She glanced around, her gaze hovering as it often did on the place her family pensieve was hidden. Then she locked the cabin door with a firm “colloportus” and headed off towards the lounge car where passengers were to gather for the crossing.
She jolted along the long panelled corridors, stopping now and again, as other passengers were doing, to take in the scenery as the Eagle retraced the legendary Hogsmill river, passing Clapham and Merton, and racing past fields of ripe berries near its banks. As they were curving past Epsom Downs she overheard the be-laced woman from the Fancourt carriage talking to a friendly-looking bronze haired man holding her arm. “Thank-you for your help, young man, I don’t know why we cannot simply apparate.”
The ‘young man’ in question, having paused as he caught sight of Lindsay, answered his new companion. “As I understand it, it’s like Hogwarts, can’t apparate or disparate in it. Security, making sure people buy tickets and I suppose making sure we don’t all suddenly plop into the same seat in the dining car.” He smiled at the witch who giggled almost girlishly back at him. “I’m Miss Cordelia Fancourt” she said, tightening her arm around his. He returned the smile, answering “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Fancourt, I’m Percy Fleamont.”
An angular wizard strode past them, almost knocking Lindsay down. He turned on the spot and stared at her without speaking. Large jet- black pupils in hollow eyes made her feel as though she’d plunged into a wall of ice. He would have been handsome if it were not for the sense there was something deeply wrong about him. Lindsay turned towards the window as an unexpected wave of nausea hit her. She saw his reflection in the glass; a canvass of ivory skin framed with charcoal grey hair, a small angry scar on this chin and lightless stare. It wasn’t the pantomime villain look of the wizard that raised Lindsay’s hackles, it was the sharp prickling of her skin when he had bumped into her. She looked away, berating herself for not being more subtle about her gifts. Touching her moonstone pendant and straightening her hair, she mumbled something about narrow corridors and bumping into people. When she looked up he was striding away and the man called Percy was looking at her.
“Are you alright, Miss …?”
“O’Brian” Lyndsay volunteered. “Yes, thank-you, I was just slightly winded.”
“I’m Percy Fleamont.”
“I know,” Lindsay replied before thinking. Then she saw the happy confusion shade his features. Looking at Cordelia Fancourt she continued, “I’m sorry, how rude of me, I overheard your conversation just now.”
“Don’t be sorry, my dear, I love to be heard!” said the older witch.
A horn sounded, summoning all passengers to the lounge car just as an earnest-looking wizard in the Eagle train’s uniform hurried forward. His wand trailed several witches and wizards of various ages after him on hover charms. “Miss. Fancourt” called the young wizard, “I said I’d help you on the corridors and such”.
“Oh, hello George,” said Cordelia amiably, ascending onto the hover charm he’d conjured as if it were her throne, before calling behind her as she was whisked away down the bustling corridor “I shall see you later, Mr. Fleamont, Miss O’Brian.”
“You’ve dropped your pocket watch” Percy called, running after the hovering witches and wizards as the train jolted around a bend.
“Easy for some” Lindsay heard the wizard with the unsettling eyes say as he turned the corner and vanished. The train rumbling on as conversations and thoughts came to her in flashes.
“Oh, look, mummy,” said an excited girl in a Hufflepuf scarf, “It’s Eremite Borage’s house!”
Lindsay caught a glimpse of the hamlet of Badger’s Mount hidden near Seven Oaks. So, this was where the famous herbologist and hermit was known to live. Her twin, Seamus, a Hufflepuff, had long since developed a quill friendship with the wizard, who sent him remedies for ailments and problems before they happened. Since Seamus had gone, Eremite Borage had transferred this gift-giving to Lindsay. Only this morning his tawny owl, Hopskin, had delivered a hastily wrapped parcel containing two mysterious bottles and a bezoar, each labeled in Eremite’s untidy scrawl; a violet bottle read ‘For you, at dinner’, while a bright green bottle bore the instruction ‘for the dog.’ Accompanying the parcel was a note saying ‘You’ll both have a lot to chew on. You’ll need the bezoar after Paris.’ She had never owned a dog but had written to thank Eremite and wrapped all three items in a handkerchief for the journey. Now she remembered the hair-ball on the platform chewing the nasty witches’ wand.
It was a peculiar kind of foresight that Borage had. His visions were rarely without merit and the remedies and herbal magic he sent had always proved necessary. When she’d awoken at 5am to Hopskin’s rat-at-tatting on her window at the Leaky Cauldron, she had taken the delivery tied to the owl’s foot without question. She knew now to take extra care. After all, the bezoar stone he had sent was a cure for most poisons. Eremite was a skilled seer, like many others now missing or dead, including Seamus. They had each been registered by the ministry as a potential information source. Lindsay hoped the puzzling old wizard was safe.
Soon the train stopped at a small station near Maidstone, where the Medway River housed a community of River Witches. They carried many musical instruments with them, three wizards carrying one cello that seemed to be singing and moaning to itself as it was moved. More witches and wizards bustled in, brushing the light dusting of autumn rain from their clocks before the train was off again, steam rising as the Eagle chugged out of the station. They continued South until a ribbon of sea could be seen on the horizon. As the train approached the coast, staff in impossibly neat uniforms bustled up and down, directing all manner of things above their heads with their wands.
The rain had cleared, leaving glimmering puddles on the ground and a faint golden glow in the sky, promising a spectacular sunset. Passengers milled around expectantly, watching through windows as the white-gloved wizards in bronze and indigo were making all the last-minute safety checks. The attendants set out fire braziers, chairs, tables and baskets of blankets on the beach. Sand swirled up over the windows, fusing with them in a glass-like shield. Lindsay overheard the be-laced Miss. Fancourt saying to her companion “An adaption of the bubble-headed charm apparently, genius, quite genius, I don’t know how those boys thought of it.” She and her friend moved off from the window and out of Lindsay’s earshot to re-join their party.
The passengers had amassed together like a shoal of fish flowing towards one of the far doors which opened into the salty air. They all poured out. Lindsay moved with the throng as they milled about outside before spilling onto the wide-stretching shore. Music was playing and house elves were moving between guests with huge trays of fire whiskey, butterbeer, hot buttered crumpets, and canapes. The evening air was a whirl of suspense and possibility. Children were playing while their parents chatted, the newly-weds giggled as they danced on the spot, serenaded by a couple of handsome river witches, the cello sounding far happier now the air was clear and filled with the notes of violins and laughter. Lindsay saw the somber family in the distance, the girl looking longingly at the games being enjoyed by her peers on the beach. One of the younger boys noticed her and pulled her towards the action before anyone could protest.
The music took on a lively rhythm and Lindsay caught sight of Fion Heinz and Percy Fleamont attempting some sort of Irish jig, not very convincingly. Never-the-less, she was smiling to herself when she came across the witch she knew to have been travelling with a wayward Pomeranian. The woman looked restless and worried. She was being comforted by the indomitable Miss Fancourt and a kindly-looking older man she did not recognise. Lindsay felt the sharp prickle of eyes watching her and followed the feeling to its source. Over the shoulder of the elderly man, she saw the cold stare of the wizard she’d had such a forbidding impression of on the train. Then the music suddenly stopped and the chatter turned immediately into an air of silent, shared expectation. The cold stare looked away. She followed the new direction of his gaze.
A jovial, middle-aged wizard whose feet seemed to contain springs, was taking his place on a small podium that had appeared. It was Amos Quirrel. Beside him stood a well-dressed witch with sleek black hair and almond eyes; striking beauty that was not only physical. She beamed in silent welcome. There was an aura about her. Lindsay realised shimmering waves were travelling out from the witch and covering the surrounding passengers. As the waves reached Lindsay she was filled with a warm, inviting sense of calm and belonging. So, this was Annie’s famous charm.
“My dears, my fellow explorers” enthused Amos Quirrel, his voice magnified by the wand he held to his throat. “Annie and I would like to welcome you onboard the Eagle Line on this, our next voyage of discovery. This dream has been made possible by twenty-two years of friendship, 8044 concealment and muggle repelling charms, together with the very best in anti-apparation and anti-theft magic. This magnificent train is able to traverse small oceans and vast mountain ranges. Any muggles we pass may only sense a glimmer in the air and the elation that comes with adventure and romance. We are going to visit our magical brethren across the seas. We are going to see many commune magique from the seven and a half magical provinces of the continent.”
There were excited mummers from some of the youngest members of the crowd.
“Seven and a half magical provinces you say, as well you may. Look around you my dears, the half province is the one we make together on this train. This train and the rails upon which it travels were made in collaboration with our friends across the ocean; with my dear friend Jacque Marcio Lumez. It has required the cooperation of the international wizarding community. And so, I raise a toast to you, a magical province in the making.” He raised his glass in salute.
A cheer rose up from someone within the crowd. Amos looked quietly delighted as he wrapped up his speech.
“I ask that we, in a spirit of unity, cast the spell to raise the causeway from the seabed. My dears, raise your wands together and, on the count of three, intone with me; Cawsai Revellium”.
The atmosphere became electric as glasses vanished, wands lifted in unison and all eyes looked to the ocean before them. “one, two, three” chanted Amos Quirrel, his voice echoed by a rush of wind across the tumbling surf. “Cawsai Revellium” they chorused.
The waters shifted to reveal a causeway rising in the shallows at the ocean edge. The railway snaked to join and fuse with the rails upon the track raising from the seabed, gleaming white and silver beneath the waves. The tracks hugged the bay and disappeared around the chalk cliffs towards Folkestone. The House Elves had disappeared, the owls in the Eagle’s owlery were softly hooting, waves lapped leisurely nearby. Slowly everyone made their way back on board, in small groupings or alone, as uniformed wizards whisked away all traces of anyone having been there, offering passengers assistance where needed.
Ahead of her Miss Fancourt was making quite a theatrical event of climbing back onto the train with her skirts and bustle.
“Thank-you, Michael, Thank-you George” she beamed to the two attendants helping her ascend. “Hogwarts knows how this train would run without you.”
Lindsay lingered for a heartbeat, closing her eyes as one more wave broke against the shore, then she quietly re-boarded the train. When she entered she saw Percy Fleamont gazing out at the ocean. His emotions seemed too full somehow, nebulous like a gathering storm.
There was electricity pulsing through everyone’s thoughts. The Eagle seemed to be vibrating with anticipation. The horn sounded again and they were off! The train sitting several inches into the water as culverts channelled and diverted the flow. Around and between the cliffs they went, while the sun slowly lowered in the sky. They darted through arches of white chalk reinforced with seemingly grey labradorite pillars that shone gold and green in any glimmer of light. At Folkestone they turned towards open water, stopping briefly at an ornately carved gatehouse called ‘Cairn Point’. Here a number of efficient officials from Magical Transportation boarded to re-register each witch and wizard’s wand for the trip. The group of Goblins glowered. Lindsay did not blame them. To Goblins, this process was little more than humiliation and a show of undeserved privilege by wand bearers whose law prohibited any other magical creature from the same magical advantages.
Grawgun’s eyes and thoughts burned like hot coals. Lindsay saw him whispering to Gringlehop and Inglehart. He seemed very animated. Whatever it was they were discussing, Inglehart was not in agreement. He snarled angrily at the other two, darting swift glances up at their wizard companion who was a short way away from them talking urgently with two officials. Amos Quirrell bounced into view and ushered the trio of Goblins and Fion into a side-room. This time Lindsay was not as convinced by their host’s smile. Like the chiming of a far off clock, she knew this moment would play an important part in what was to come. A shadow passed across her mind and flitted away.
The dining car’s glass-like panels shimmered and rippled like lakes as sunset and the open sea beckoned. Coronets sounded and a piano began to play. Lindsay watched the land slipping away into a seemingly endless watery horizon. The sea stretched out on all sides as though she were gliding across a pool of liquid sun. Her fingers itched to paint it, but now was the moment to listen. Her fellow passengers would be less guarded in such surroundings, their inhibitions toppled by the view, plentiful food and drink and pleasant company. Now would be the time to help her confirm who it was important to watch more closely. She had no wish to intrude on anyone’s privacy more than absolutely necessary. She chose a quiet table, picked up the menu and silently opened her mind to scan those around her.
Reading minds often felt like assembling lots of separate tastes into a meal. Less distinct thoughts could be read as scents, textures, vivid pictures or odd snatches of past conversation. Sampling a room was a dizzying task for the senses. A smell or taste could take a mind to another place, moment or state while she was reading it. Thoughts and emotions were strongly connected and Lindsay would often feel others’ excitement, anger or crushing lows as if they were her own. Legilimens could become ill if they were not careful, and sometimes even if they were. Lindsay had learned to conjure a patronus early in life after she’d discovered that Dementors, given half a chance, would always seek out what her mother called “We soul-readers”. As a child she had preferred her brothers’ company, finding large groups of other children hard to cope with. The ‘gift’, a dangerous thing; hard to control and potentially overwhelming, was a magical discipline to be used with extreme caution and respect for others and yourself.
She was near the unhappy family. She gathered, from a waiter’s mind, they were the Gaunts and the waiter in question – Michael was it? – was as concerned as she was that the father of the family cast a long shadow over the rest of them. While eating an almost alchemical, caramelised ‘Soupe à l’oignon’, Lindsay learned that the unhappy young girl liked unicorns and feared her father. Just as she was tunning into the mind of Mr. Gaunt, she heard the now familiar voice of Cordelia Fancourt addressing her.
“My dear Miss O’Brian, Oh no, that will never do. You can’t sit here all alone on a night like this.”
Cordelia Fancourt, dressed impeccably in dark velvet dress and shoulder cape, was accompanied by the witch whose dog had a taste for wands and the friend Lindsay had seen both women with on the beach. Barely waiting for a heartbeat for a reply, Miss Fancourt flourished her own wand with a commanding “Accio table” and a nearby table came hurtling over to join Lindsay’s. Seconds later chairs flew towards them, leaving other diners to duck out of the way. “Oh, hello George,” Cordelia added, unsurprised when the young wizard came out of nowhere to help. Some very uncharitable thoughts were coming the older witch’s way from the table of goblins in the corner. They had been sat as far from everyone else as possible by a flustered maitre d’, who had insisted on waiting for Fion to vouch for them before they were shown to their table. Shortly after they had settled, a chair had whizzed by, narrowly missing Gringlehook’s left ear.
When everyone was comfortably seated at Lindsay’s table, George went to offer the Goblins some refreshments and check everyone was OK, while Michael continued serving nearby tables. Miss Cordelia Fancourt made introductions. Her friends were a Madame Dorethia Prewett and a Mr. Patrick Fizpatrick, who she called Fizzy. Lindsay could tell the three friends were fond of one another, Mr. Fizpatrick particularly so.
“Cordelia,” said Madame Prewett in mock outrage. “Nous sommes arrivés comme un cheveu sur la soupe. N’est-ce pas vrai?” To which her friend responded with a dismissive wave of her hand and a wry smile.
“We have always known how to make an entrance; a hair in the soup as you say, n’est-ce pas vrai?”
“Touche.” replied Dorethia “Yes, it is quite true, with you we always make an entrance.”
Looking into Madame Prewett’s worried face, Lindsay learned that the little dog she had seen on the platform was called Rosa. A picture of the Control of Magical Creatures notice flashed through Madame Prewet’s mind detailing how creatures could be ‘destroyed’ when considered a danger to others’ property. The elder witch’s mind was racing through how to hide her Rosa and the mangled wand of the unctuous ministry witch. The Pomeranian was currently in Cordelia’s trunk feeling very poorly after ingesting whatever horrid spells the wand had contained. Lindsay remembered the mysterious message and gift she’d received earlier that day from Eremite Borage. She reached into her clutch bag and pulled out the green bottle labelled ‘for the dog’ in the herbologist’s untidy scrawl. Forgetting that no one had mentioned the little dog out loud she whispered;
“This potion and a dissolution spell should help your friend”
She passed the little bottle to Madame Prewett under the table. It is a strange thing how some friendships begin; a smile was the next thing passed around the table, and it became clear that a bridge had been crossed. They were no longer strangers, they were comrades in arms protecting a willful fur ball called Rosa. Dorethia spoke of her visiting friends in the Cotswolds then visit the magical communities on route before planning to return to her childhood home of Saint-Germain-en-Layne near Paris. Yet now she had to deliver something urgently to her niece in the Auvergne too. Lindsay saw a flash of an image of the mangled wand race through Dorethia’s mind. The vision left as quickly as it had arrived and Lindsay could not be sure she’d seen it. After all, why would the witch want to deliver a broken wand to anyone? Especially if that wand might incriminate her beloved dog.
Mr. Fitzpatrick had bought his mouse, Fredrick, to dinner. He and Madame Prewett spent much of the meal tempting Fred with tasty morsels. Cordelia, the eldest in the group, was the genial general of the feast, in charge of all operations from food to the smuggling of mischievous Pomeranians. It was clear the friends went back a long way. The problem with all this new found bon-ami was how hard it had become to read the rest of the room. Specifically, Lindsay needed to scan the man with the frozen stare.
She saw him now, sitting, a pipe in hand, several tables away. Lindsay had a horrible sense that pipe was made of bone. The wizard was sucking on it. He appeared intent on the newlyweds who sat at a nearby table to him. The groom seemed oblivious to the obsidian eyes and pallid stare focused in their direction but the bride seemed pale, trying to hide her disquiet.
“Time for a tinkle,” announced Mr. Fitzpatrick with apparent glee, bringing her attention back to her table and her three dinner companions. “I wonder Miss O’Brian, if you would take care of Fred for a moment while I hop off for a bit?”
“Not at all, Mr. Fitzpatrick. Please call me Lindsay”
“Well then,” the wizard blushed, “You must call me, Fizzy, mustn’t she Fred?” The mouse in question had already curled up in Lindsay’s bag and was settling in for a long nap.
Cordelia watched as Dorethia unconsciously toyed with the little green medicine bottle in her hands. “Dorethia, dear, would you mind fetching a warmer shawl from my cabin? George looks busy and my legs. You know my legs,” she said loudly. Her friend looked grateful. “Toute Suite, ” Dorethia replied, and Lindsay was certain she was off to see the little canine in need of a cure for chewing on a wand full of malicious magic. She trusted the potion she’d been able to offer would help.
Just as Dorethia left, Percy Fleamont arrived. His eyes lingered briefly on hers before greeting Cordelia. While the two were in animated conversation about the day’s events, Lindsay took the opportunity to cast her silent spell; ‘Legilimens’. First, she tried to glimpse into the new bride’s mind to see what had made her go so pale, but the witch was an obviously skilled Occulmens; able to shield her thoughts and conceal her emotions. Lindsay felt only a whirl of loathing accompanied by the oddest sensation of having chalk in her mouth. She cast the spell again, this time her mind hurtling into the thin-lipped wizard with the bone pipe.
Her vision blurred and the scene around her went black as if the light had been sucked from her sight. She found herself in a cramped, damp smelling room full of mildewed books. A boy in Hogwarts uniform reached out to wizened hands that held the pipe out to him. An old man’s words rasped out “Mind you learn well at school, boy. We’ll be having no squibs in the Filch family.”
She felt a tug in her stomach as she left his memories and cast herself back into the here and now. She felt sick. Her head was starting to pound. The lights were suddenly too bright, the sound of knives and forks on plates echoed like church bells and the room was spinning. She still had the other bottle from Eremite wrapped in her handkerchief. She uncorked it and poured the violet liquid into her mouth, swallowing hard before gulping back a slug of delicious wine to mask the sour taste of the potion. Slowly the room came back into focus, a warm calming sensation radiating out from her middle. When she lifted her head Cordelia was there alone, concern was written on her face, looking in the direction of Lindsay’s gaze.
“Ebonine Filtch,” she mouthed with obvious distaste, “nasty piece of work if ever there was one, but he has friends in high places. Aah, here come Dorethia and Fizzy. Where’s George with our roast dinners?”
Michael whizzed over, his wand held high, plates piled with Yorkshire puddings and glossy green peas hovering above him. Edging around the tables he deposited laden dishes in front of them before brandishing a bucket-sized gravy jug with a flourish. As his figure retreated towards other hungry guests, Dorethia Prewett sighed with contentment. “They’re all so good here,” she sighed, to no one in particular. “Micheal is a gemstone.” Lindsay passed her handkerchief for Dorethia to hide some scraps she was collecting for Rosa.
“I prefer George,” said Cordelia.
“Only because he’ll fetch your slippers for you,” answered Fizzy, winking at Lindsay, who was now holding a curious Fred after the mouse had decided she was a friend.
“If there is one thing I know, it is people, Fizzy. You know that.” Cordelia answered, as her friends nodded sagely. To Lindsay, she remarked, “I have a gift for knowing people. My cat is even more cunning and wily than I.”
“That is very true,” confirmed Dorethia with a smile.
Lindsay learned quickly that on this train you did not easily dine alone. She had been claimed by the charismatic, enigmatic Cordelia Fancourt, the sprightly septuagenarian Fizzy and the dog-loving Dorethia. She had no doubt she would be helping to protect their wayward canine stowaway. Lindsay O’ Brian, the keeper of secrets. What would she tell them of her own quests, official and personal, upon which she was embarking? She had a strong sense that Cordelia knew a great deal more than she would allow anyone to see, mind-reader or not, and that she may make a formidable ally if she chose to be so.
The meal was finished by a too gorgeous Tarte Tatin, which Lindsay rather thought she’d been finished off by. Fizzy had eaten the treacle pudding, while Dorethia had chosen fresh autumn berries and Devon ice-cream. Lindsay had not been used to this much food since her days at Hogwarts. After Dinner, there was more music and dancing. Percy Fleamont and Fion Heinz were playing wizard’s chess while Gringlhook and Grawgun kept score and took bets. Two of the river witches sang a lilting love song while the newlyweds danced the last dance. Looking into the young witch’s mind now revealed nothing but love and moonlight and things this Legilimens had no wish or right to see. There was no sign now of Ebonine Filtch. The young bride seemed a great deal happier.
Lindsay was still feeling a little light-headed from her brief foray into the wizard with the bone pipe; she’d guess it was human bone from the sense of menace that seeped from him and the object. The thought made her shiver; her own bones chilled. It was time to go.
Her female companions had long since retired to their cabins, Cordelia had asked George to keep an eye on her and Fizzy, who was slightly the worse for fire whiskey. The matriarch of the group would be maintaining guard on the mischievous Rosa, who Lindsay hoped was fast asleep, unaware of the danger she may be in for her moment of rebellion. The lounge car was quieter now most people had retired to their cabins or to the communal seating areas in some of the larger sleeping carriages. The game of wizard’s chess continued as Lindsay slipped out of the room and headed for her cabin. Behind her, a tipsy Mr. Fitzpatrick took to the floor on his own, dancing with his memories, Fred swaying gently on the old wizard’s lapels.
Ahead of her whispers gathered in long shadows.