Fortunes Favor the Bold

Fortunes Favor the Bold

By Seldes Katne

Part I: The Hierophant and the Page of Swords

"And what can I do for you, Mr. Haviland?" Albus Dumbledore set the cup of hot cocoa on the table in the Great Hall and turned his attention to the student standing before him. Roderick Haviland was a seventh-year member of Slytherin House. At eighteen he was already sporting a thin beard and mustache. Despite the turnover of Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers at Hogwarts in the past few years, Haviland's grades in that class had remained high; common consensus among the Hogwarts staff was that Haviland would have no trouble getting himself hired on at the Ministry as a junior member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

"Sir, Professor Trelawney assigned us the last part of our finals this morning," Haviland said. "We're working with the cards now, and she asked us to do a reading for someone. Other than our own dorm mates, of course, since we've been practicing on them for the past couple of months."

"That's right. Tarot cards come at the end of one's study of Divination, don't they?" Dumbledore smiled. "Did Professor Trelawney specifically tell you to read for staff members?"

Haviland didn't even blink. "No, Professor, she just said we should read for someone we haven't practiced on." He paused. "Leanora, Ashanti and I talked it over. We thought it would look more impressive if we could get teachers to agree to have a reading done. So Ashanti is asking Professor McGonagall, and I wanted to ask you."

"And Miss Summerlee?"

Haviland looked a little uneasy. "She's decided to tackle Professor Snape, sir."

"Figuratively speaking, one would hope," Dumbledore remarked. He leaned back in his chair, steepled the tips of his fingers together in front of his mouth, and studied Haviland thoughtfully. Haviland was part of an unusual trio; Ashanti Myers was a seventh year in Gryffindor, and Leonora Summerlee was a Ravenclaw. "Is there some particular reason that you did not chose to ask Professor Snape, Mr. Haviland? He is, after all, your Head of House."

Haviland gazed down at the floor. "Well, Leanora is one of the top Potions students in our year, even if she is in Ravenclaw." Then he looked up at Dumbledore with a mischievous look in his eye. "She's also better looking than I am, sir."

"I doubt very much that that will matter to Professor Snape."

"Yes, sir." Haviland appeared to think for a moment. "Besides, I thought it would look more impressive on my final if I could say I read for the Headmaster. You know, the most important man in the school...."

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "I can think of a number of people who might argue that opinion of my importance, but...." He waved a hand. "Ambition isn't necessarily a bad thing. Very well, Mr. Haviland, sit down."

Haviland settled himself in a chair across the table from Dumbledore. Reaching into his bag, he produced a scroll, a quill, an ink bottle, and a deck of Tarot cards, which he passed across to the Headmaster. Dumbledore thumbed through the cards without shuffling.

"An interesting deck, Mr. Haviland. Some very fanciful depictions of dragons here." He flipped the deck over so the cards faced away from him and began to shuffle.

"I found the pictures had enough visual cues so I could remember the meanings of the cards more easily," Haviland replied. "Professor Trelawney said we should chose a deck that 'spoke' to us, and this one," here he grinned, "practically shouted in my ear."

Smiling, Dumbledore finished shuffling the cards and passed the deck back across the table. Haviland laid the scroll to his right, along with the quill and ink bottle, and laid the first card in the middle of the table. "This card represents the present." The second card was laid across the first. "This represents the immediate future." The third went above the first two. "This is the goal or destination." Haviland laid the fourth card to the right of the first two. "This is the distant past." The next card went below the original card. "This represents the recent past." The next card went to the right of the original card, completing a circle around it. "This is the future."

Haviland began laying the next set of cards in a column beside the circle. "The seventh card represents the Querent, or the Questioner." He laid that card furthest away from him, and the next card went directly under it. "This is the environment in which the Querent is working." The ninth card went below the eighth. "This shows the inner emotional state." He laid the final card at the bottom of the column, closest to him. "And this is the final outcome."

Haviland reached for the quill and scroll, and began noting the cards in order:

First card (The Present): Ace of Wands

Second card (Immediate Future): Page of Swords

Third card (Goal/Destination): Seven of Cups (reversed)

Fourth card (Distant Past): The Fool

At that point he looked up at Dumbledore and smiled apologetically. "Sorry about that, sir."

Dumbledore nodded and smiled back. "Not at all, Mr. Haviland. I find a little foolishness can be quite instructive. Besides, I will freely admit to having once been young and foolish, as difficult as I'm sure you find that to believe."

"Yes, sir," Haviland said diplomatically, and continued writing:

Fifth card (Recent Past): Six of Wands

Sixth card (The Future): Five of Wands

Seventh card (Querent): The Star (reversed)

Eighth card (Environment): Judgment (reversed)

Ninth card (Inner Emotion): Queen of Coins

Tenth card (Final Outcome): Two of Swords

Both of them studied the cards for a few minutes as Haviland's quill scratched on the parchment. "Very well, Mr. Haviland," Dumbledore said finally. "What sort of future am I facing?"

Haviland moved his ink bottle out of harm's way and looked over the reading. "Well, the Ace of Wands suggests that you've just started a new project or initiative. The Page of Swords, in the position of the immediate future, could stand for someone, possibly a young man, who is able to separate truth from falsehood and who will be helping you soon.

"The Seven of Cups usually means fantasy or wishful thinking, but since it's reversed, in this case it probably means that the goal or outcome of this project is to get priorities in order or to clear away confusion.

"The Fool suggests that in the distant past you started something, a journey or a project of some sort, possibly related to the new initiative mentioned in the first card of the reading. The Six of Wands, in the near past, means that something has been successfully finished or achieved.

"The Five of Wands suggests that the future will bring a challenge that can be met and overcome if you hold fast to your convictions. The Star, which represents the Questioner, is reversed, could mean that you're existing in a false sense of security, or maybe that you're experiencing the calm before the storm.

"The Judgment card, also reversed, means that an injustice has been or is being done. It may be that you're being treated unfairly, or that someone around you is biased and that bias is having an effect on you.

"The Queen of Coins." Here Haviland paused thoughtfully. "Well, it's in the position of Inner Emotions. Usually it would stand for a woman who wants to get ahead in business or who has a good mind for business, but that doesn't seem right in this case. I'm going to suggests that it stands for a woman close to you who is supportive.

"The Two of Swords, which indicates the final outcome of the reading, suggests a balance. It may mean that you will have to balance two opposite forces or possibilities to achieve your aim, or that a balance will be the best you'll be able to achieve in the end."

Dumbledore was nodding. "A most insightful reading, Mr. Haviland. I trust you haven't been listening outside my office door?"

"No, sir," Haviland replied. "I just call them as I see them." He indicated the reading. "It's right there." He finished scribbling his notes, then gathered up the cards.

"Yes, indeed. Very interesting." Dumbledore peered thoughtfully at the young man across the table. "Do you have everything you need for your assignment, Mr. Haviland?"

"Yes, Professor." Haviland reached for the silk wrapping in which he kept his cards.

"Good." Dumbledore settled back into his chair. "Now it's my turn. Shuffle the cards yourself, and then pass me the deck."

A startled looked flitted across Haviland's face. "Sir?"

"You heard me, Roderick. I want to do a reading for you. Turnabout is fair play, after all. Now, shuffle."

For a moment, Haviland sat there, blinking in surprise, but he quickly recovered. "Well, maybe I can get extra credit for this," he suggesting, with a hint of mischief in his grin. Then he shuffled and cut the deck several times, and passed the cards to Dumbledore.

Following the same layout that Haviland had used before, Dumbledore began flipping the cards upright with quick, skilled fingers.

Present: Knight of Wands

Immediate Future: Queen of Cups

Goal/Destination: King of Wands

Distant Past: Eight of Wands

Recent Past: Three of Wands

Future: Seven of Cups (reversed)

Querent/Questioner: Queen of Wands

Environment: The Fool

At this point, Dumbledore looked up at Haviland and smiled, eyes laughing as well. "Well, there's our friend the Fool again."

Haviland tilted his head to look at the card's position. "That's in the area of environment, right? Looks like a Ministry job for sure.

Dumbledore shook his head. "If you do indeed end up there, Mr. Haviland, I suggest you refrain from making jokes of that nature."

"Yes, sir."

Dumbledore continued turning cards:

Inner Emotions: King of Cups

Final Outcome: Ten of Swords (reversed)

"Well, that's quite the set," the Headmaster remarked dryly. "But not terribly surprising.... The Knight of Wands could well stand for male energy, which you seem to have in abundance. It's usually represents someone who is no longer a youth, and you're certainly moving in that direction. He can also symbolize change or movement, and since you'll presumably be leaving Hogwarts in a two short weeks, I'd say that one's a true representative of your present state.

"The Queen of Cups represents an older woman, in an emotional relationship with the Querent...." He eyed Haviland thoughtfully. "On good terms with your mother?"

Haviland's mouth twisted. "At the moment, although that could change any second now." His mother, who was in business for herself, was known for being a strict and sometimes opinionated woman.

Dumbledore nodded, amused. "This suggests that she'll have an impact on your immediate future."

"Since I'll be moving back home at the end of school for a while, I don't doubt that." Haviland's voice was dry.

"The King of Wands represents a man in a leadership role, possibly your father or another male advisor. However, since this card is in the position of the reading's goal or destination, it could represent you at a later date.

"The Eight of Wands stands for a rapid change, and that card is in the position of the distant past." He glanced up at Haviland, who shrugged.

"Maybe it means I've had too short a time to get prepared to leave Hogwarts?"

"Possibly." Dumbledore looked down at the cards. "Three of Wands... standing perhaps for the ability to lead by example, which would describe you, of course.... although it could also mean that you need to watch carefully for an opportunity which you are actually equipped to handle.

"The Seven of Cups, here reversed, suggests that you need to get priorities in order, and avoid acting on a fantasy vision of what's coming." He glanced up again. "The future may not be what you envision, or, having achieved your ends, you may find that having isn't the same as wanting.

"The Queen of Wands, a woman in an authority position...."

"My boss is going to be a woman, maybe?"

"Perhaps, although I would suggest this merely means you're seeking an authority position, since the card's gender doesn't describe you. Or it may stand for your mother."

Haviland rolled his eyes. "Tell me I'm not going into business with her."

"I suppose that's a possibility. Or she may have some influence in getting you a job." Dumbledore smiled. "Now. The next card, the Fool, suggests a new beginning or a life's choice at hand. Probably underscoring the fact that you're about to embark on a new journey as an adult.

"The King of Cups, an emotionally mature man or a father figure. Hm. This could suggest what you're striving for, or possibly someone who has influenced the young man you are becoming.

"And the Ten of Swords, reversed, suggests influence and control." He smiled. "I suspect that would be considered a most auspicious final outcome card for a Slytherin House graduate."

Haviland was scribbling the cards' positions and meanings further down his sheet of parchment. "Ambition isn't necessarily a bad thing," he remarked, echoing Dumbledore's earlier comment.

"As long as you don't get carried away by it," Dumbledore warned. He leaned back in his chair. "Let me give you one personal interpretation, which I doubt very much you'll ever hear from Professor Trelawney. Irregardless of what cards you draw or what influences are at work, one thing I've noticed is that fortune favors the bold." Dumbledore made a quick gesture with his hand; the cards in the reading, along with the rest of the deck, suddenly swirled into the air and settled themselves into his hand, already reshuffled. He rapped the cards smartly on the table and handed the deck to Haviland. "Thank you for the practice, Mr. Haviland. And the best of luck to you."

"Thank you, sir."

Part II: The High Priestess

Ashanti Myers trotted along the Gryffindor tower corridor, following the tall, stern woman who served as her Head of House. She caught up with McGonagall outside the painting of the Fat Lady. "Professor McGonagall? Do you have a minute?"

"Only a minute, Miss Myers."

"Professor, our assignment in Divination for our final is to do a Tarot reading for someone we haven't read for yet. Would you mind if I did a reading for you?"

McGonagall's eyes narrowed. "Miss Myers, you know what I think of that particular subject." Her mouth thinned in disapproval.

"Yes, Professor, but I wanted to ask you first, anyway. We weren't required to read for our teachers, I just wanted to do a more challenging reading."

For a moment, McGonagall hesitated, as though weighing the advantages of helping a student against the disadvantages of having to listen to Sibyll Trelawney's comments on Tarot and the forces of fate. Finally she sighed. "Miss Myers, if you weren't one of our best Prefects, and an excellent student, I wouldn't even consider doing this, but.... Very well. Let's go to my office."

Ashanti's Tarot deck bore illustrations that might have come from a book of medieval legends. Knights, kings and queens, pages, peasants, and a host of others were rendered in colored pencils on the cards. As McGonagall shuffled, one card caught the side of another, missed the deck altogether, and dropped onto the table. It was the Nine of Swords. Both McGonagall and Ashanti stared at it for a moment; then McGonagall hastily picked it up and slipped it back in among the other cards.

Once she had finished shuffling, McGonagall gazed down at the deck in her hands, an unreadable expression on her face. Then she sighed and handed the cards to Ashanti.

"All right, Miss Myers, let's get this over with."

"Yes, Professor." Ashanti began turning the cards over.

Present: Four of Wands (R)

Immediate Future: Page of Swords

Goal/Destination: Wheel of Fortune (R)

Distant Past: Two of Swords

Recent Past: Six of Pentacles (R)

Future: Three of Swords

Querent/Questioner: King of Cups

Environment: Magician

Inner Emotions: The Star (R)

Final Outcome: The World (R)

Ashanti began noting the cards on her parchment. "Well, to start --"

"Miss Myers," McGonagall interrupted. At Ashanti's started look, she closed her eyes briefly and sighed. "My apologies. Would it be possible for you to do your interpretation at a later date? I really do have a great deal to do this evening. And you already know that I put no faith in foretelling the future."

Ashanti nodded. "Yes, Professor." She hastily scribbled the names and positions of the cards, put away her ink and quill, and gathered the cards up. "Thank you, Professor."

"You're welcome. Goodnight, Miss Myers."

Outside McGonagall's office door, Ashanti glanced at her watch. It was still early enough in the evening that the library would still be open. The Hogwarts library was one of the only places she could openly meet with Roderick Haviland and Leanora Summerlee. One of the disadvantages of being in three separate Houses, she thought wryly. Well, in a couple of weeks it wouldn't matter anymore; they'd have graduated. Once out of Hogwarts, the three of them could arrange to meet as often as they liked.

A few minutes later, Ashanti was settled at a library study table and had the cards spread out in front of her again. This time she carefully noted the cards and positions on a new sheet of parchment, and began to write her interpretations:

Present: Four of Wands (R): Loss of tranquility; conflict. Something tragic has recently happened. Querent should acknowledge this and realize that s/he needs to reflect on what blessings or advantages s/he already has.

Immediate Future: Page of Swords: Vigilance and insight. Querent should be watching for difficulties ahead. [Note: also can suggest a young person who is watching out for Querent or who can help Querent by being vigilant. Sounds like something Professor Moody would appreciate (!).]

Here Ashanti grinned, then continued writing.

Goal/Destination: Wheel of Fortune (R): Failure, ill luck, unexpected results. The path for the Querent will probably be difficult, with ups and downs. However, the Wheel stands for luck, which is always changing.

Distant Past: Two of Swords: Balance or stalemate. Indecision. Might represent something the Querent should have acted on when s/he had the chance.

Recent Past: Six of Pentacles (R): Selfishness, envy, greed. The Querent has apparently recently had dealings with a person whose selfishness has caused harm.

Future: Three of Swords: Struggle, opposition. A third person meddling in a relationship or partnership. Ashanti paused. She respected McGonagall a lot; but she just couldn't imagine her in a relationship, at least not a romantic one. She tapped the quill against her cheek thoughtfully, then continued. Querent is going to face a great deal of sorrow, possibly over being parted from someone s/he cares about in some fashion. There, that was vague enough. And depressing enough. Trelawney would love it.

Querent/Questioner: King of Cups: Someone generous (emotionally). Usually stands for an older man, often a father or favorite uncle, or an older man in an authority position. Doesn't seem to represent Querent; probably stands for someone the Querent respects or who works as a supervisor. Professor Dumbledore, maybe, Ashanti thought.

Environment: Magician: Creativity and self-reliance. Having the abilities necessary to do the job. Is probably the Querent, but can also suggest that the Querent is surrounded by people many talents and abilities.

Inner Emotions: The Star (R): Disappointment, imbalance. Finishing an unpleasant business. Suggests that the Querent is not satisfied, or that things s/he wishes or hopes for won't come to pass. Ashanti stopped writing and rummaged in her bag for her Tarot book. Book also suggests that the card might stand for a person who's pessimistic and lacks faith that things will work out. She read over the last sentence she had written, then crossed it out. Her own interpretation sounded better, anyway.

Final Outcome: The World (R): Clouded future, or a delayed triumph. Suggests that the final outcome will not be positive, and that the Querent will have to put forth more effort before goal can be reached.

She stared down at the last reading and sighed. Well, no wonder McGonagall didn't care for Divination -- this was a really depressing reading, and Ashanti couldn't believe that McGonagall would give up on something just because a bunch of cards said the outcome was difficult.

Then she remembered the card that had dropped out while McGonagall had been shuffling. Ashanti added Nine of Swords fell out while shuffling. She shook her head; the Nine of Swords was one of the most depressing and difficult cards in the Tarot deck. Frustration, isolation, hopelessness. Seems to stand for someone who has dealt with difficult situations alone. Or that the Querent is facing difficulty and danger alone. Ashanti frowned. McGonagall was a schoolteacher; aside from having to deal with Fred and George Weasley's attempts to completely disrupt the lives of everyone around them, how many problems could she have?

Maybe a lot. For the first time, Ashanti considered just how much she and her fellow students didn't know about their teachers. She had no idea what McGonagall, or anyone else on the staff (with the possible exception of Hagrid, who was not only a teacher but the school's gamekeeper) did when the students weren't around. For all she knew, her teachers were all married and had ten kids apiece and collected thimbles or something.

Ashanti laughed softly. Thimble collecting didn't seem like McGonagall's style at all. Still grinning, Ashanti put her Divination work to one side and pulled out her notes for Charms. She could work on that while she waited for the other two to show up.

Part III: The Magician

Snape's eyebrows rose at the sight of the Tarot deck Leanora handed him. "Cats, Miss Summerlee?"

"Yes, Professor. I liked the pictures of the people in the deck, too; they look rather like cats themselves."

Snape frowned, but made no further comment as he shuffled the cards. Without a word he handed the deck across the table to Leanora, leaned back in his chair, and folded his arms.

After seven years of Potions classes, Leanora had learned to ignore Snape's barbed comments and disapproving expressions. Leanora loved the exacting work of Potions, particularly the theoretical work. Learning the symbols and equations had been like learning the languages in Ancient Runes; once she knew the symbols, she could tell exactly what would happen, even though she couldn't see the reaction itself.

Ashanti had told her many times how Snape favored the Slytherin House students during their double Potions class with the Gryffindor. However, Leanora was a Ravenclaw, and Snape had never been anything but coolly (sometimes coldly) professional in her classes with the Hufflepuff students. Leanora made it a point to be prepared for every Potions class since her first year, and she suspected that was the only reason Snape had agreed to allow her to do a reading for her. She wasn't one of his Slytherin House students, but he seemed to at least respect her Potions abilities.

She quickly and carefully laid out the cards in the Celtic Cross spread that Trelawney had taught them, the same spread she knew her two friends would have used as well.

1. Present: The Magician

2. Immediate Future: King of Wands (R)

3. Goal/Destination: The Hermit (R)

4. Distant Past: King of Swords (R)

5. Recent Past: King of Cups

6. Future: Ace of Pentacles (R)

7. Querent/Questioner: Rejuvenation

8. Environment: Eight of Wands (R)

9. Inner Emotions: The Empress (R)

10. Final Outcome: Eight of Swords

Leanora tucked a strand of her long blond hair behind an ear and gazed at the cards thoughtfully. "Well," she began uncertainly, "the first card, the Magician, that represents the Querent, and in this case I would take it to stand for skill, ability, someone who's got everything he or she needs to complete a task."

"Correct me if I'm wrong," Snape remarked dryly, "but can't it also stand for a deception or fraud?"

"Um, yes, I guess it can." Leanora felt herself blushing. "But I wouldn't --"

"Never mind, Miss Summerlee. Continue."

"The King of Wands, which is in the position of Immediate Future, is reversed, suggesting a man who is deliberate, severe, and rather, um, rule-bound. Well. The Hermit, also revered, represents someone who is extremely isolated. It can also stand for a bad judgment. That's in the position of the reader's goal or destination.

"In the distant past is the King of Swords, reversed, which suggests someone who is cruel, dangerous or wicked." At this point Snape's eyes flickered; still focused on the cards, Leanora added, "This could be a father or father figure.

"In the recent past is a man who is considerate, generous, and reliable." She paused, then added uncertainly, "Maybe someone who rescued the Querent from the person who's the King of Swords?" Getting no response from Snape, she hastily ducked her head and continued the readings. "Um, the Ace of Coins suggests wealth without happiness, or misused wealth. It usually means money, but I guess it could also mean something the Questioner himself considers valuable.

"The Rejuvenation card, which represents the Querent, suggests someone who's looking for forgiveness or needs to atone for something. The card suggests a rebirth, or at least a just reward.

"The Eight of Wands, reversed, could stand for jealousy or disputes. It's in the Environment position, which suggests that the Querent is at odds with someone over something.

"The Empress, reversed, suggests someone, possibly a woman, who is indecisive or destructive.

"The Eight of Swords, in the position of the Final Outcome, suggests conflict or bad news, or even imprisonment. Um, let me check that...." She pulled out a book and hastily flipped through the pages. "According to this, it can also mean that freedom is more available than it looks, and that walking away is still an option." She closed the book, her eyes still on the cards.

For several minutes, neither of them spoke. Finally Leanora said in a small voice, "Well, usually there's a way to make a positive interpretation of most readings...."

"Miss Summerlee," Snape said softly, "if you have a positive interpretation of this, I'd be delighted to hear it. Not to mention rather surprised."

"Well...."

"Miss Summerlee!" Snape's voice was suddenly severe in tone. "As a Diviness, your job is not to sugarcoat what you see. If you do indeed posses the Gift, which appears to be the case, you are not doing anyone a favor by twisting a reading so that it's positive just because you want to spare someone's feelings! If the Querent is facing a dark future, he or she needs to know it -- you are merely the device by which the warning is delivered. Now, stop wasting your time looking for a happy ending; if you had to interpret the cards as you see them, what would this reading mean?"

For a moment Leanora sat still, as though gathering her strength; then she looked up to meet his eyes. "I'd say that this reading represents a man who's not what he seems, but who has the capabilities to achieve what he needs or wants to. At some point in the past he's done something wrong, made a very poor judgment, which has to do with a man who's deliberately cruel and very dangerous." She paused. "If that man isn't the Querent's father, then it would be someone in authority, or someone like, like...." Her voice faltered. "Well, You-Know--"

"Voldemort," Snape finished.

"Yes. The person in this reading was able to walk away from what he had done, with the help of a man who is kind and generous and willing to give him a second chance. Right now the Querent seems to have wealth or fame or something else of value, but feels that something more important is missing in his life. But there's still a need for the Querent to be forgiven, or to pay for what he's done. A time is coming when he'll be able to do that, but the end of that situation will mean a loss of something valuable, possibly even the Querent's freedom. However, the last card suggests that the imprisonment may be set by the Querent himself, and that he will be able to choose freedom if he wants."

Leanora looked down at the cards, and deliberately took several deep breaths to calm herself. Then, without looking up, she began to gather up the cards. Snape was silent. Finally he remarked, "Miss Summerlee, if you decide you don't want a career in Potions research, you may want to consider making a living as a Seer. Your clients might not always like what they hear, but if they don't listen, they'll have no one to blame but themselves for their misfortunes. I'm told that having the Gift is not a pleasant experience."

"If that's what I have, Professor, then I certainly agree with that statement," Leanora replied grimly. Her hands were trembling as she scratched notes on her parchment. Then she hastily gathered up the cards and bid Snape a hurried goodnight and thanked him, doing her best to ignore the unreadable expression on his face that lingered long after she had left.

Part IV: The Three of Cups

A seventh-year Hufflepuff girl flagged Haviland down as he entered the library and told him that Ashanti Myers would meet him outside the entrance to the Prefect's Bathroom on the fourth floor. Though not himself a Prefect, Haviland knew perfectly well where the bathroom was; over the past three years it had become one of the few places the trio of mismatched students could meet.

Within minutes of his arrival, Ashanti appeared at the door to let him in. Her dark face was grim. "Come on. We're in here." She led him into one of the "powder rooms" on the girls' side of the bathroom suite.

Leanora Summerlee sat on a long couch, a tissue held to her face. Her red eyes and nose showed plainly that she had been crying.

"What happened?" Haviland asked, settling onto the couch next to her while Ashanti knelt on the floor.

"I -- I did the reading for Professor Snape," Leanora began, and then swallowed hard and stopped.

Haviland leaned forward and peered at her intently. "Are you all right? Did he hurt you? If he did, I'll --"

Ashanti snorted. "You'll do what, Roddy? Charge into his office and challenge him to a duel? He'll make mincemeat out of you, mate."

At the same time, Leanora shook her head. "No. He didn't hurt me. It's just -- the reading -- it was so dark! And what came out of it was just -- so personal!"

Haviland shrugged. "Well, readings are supposed to be personal, aren't they?"

"This was -- this wasn't like any of the other readings I've ever done," Leanora said. "There were things... I can't. I can't turn this in to Professor Trelawney. It would be wrong."

"But --"

"No!" Leanora insisted. She drew in a deep, rather shaky breath. "I can't. I know you don't like him, Roddy. Sometimes I don't really like him, either, but I respect him and I'm not going to put this reading on display for Professor Trelawney."

Haviland opened his mouth, but Ashanti spoke first. "Okay, Leanora. If you don't want to, it's all right. Look, we've got 'til the end of the week to finish this, right? Tell you what -- I'm going to go into the other rooms and see how many of the prefects are around. I'm pretty sure I can get a couple of them to agree to let us do some readings on them, and we'll turn those in as our assignments. Trelawney didn't say we had to read for teachers; that was our choice." Seeing the look on Haviland's face, she added, "I'm not turning in my reading from Professor McGonagall, either. I think she agreed to let me do the reading because I've been a good students and a decent Prefect, but I also think she'd really rather have refused. You know what she thinks about Divination."

"The same thing a lot of folks think about it," Haviland remarked. "Well, if it's all the same to you, I'm keeping my reading. I got two for the price of one."

Ashanti shrugged. "It's okay with me."

Leanora sighed; then her mouth tightened. "When I get back to the Ravenclaw common room, I'm going to burn this parchment." She had the paper crumpled up in her hand.

"Wait. I think we should hold onto them." Haviland looked back and forth between his two friends. "Haven't you noticed all the strange stuff that's been happening this year? Something happened at the end of the TriWizard Tournament that everyone's trying to keep secret. But we know that Cedric Diggory's dead, and Harry Potter came back injured. And we know that the guy who's been teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts wasn't really Professor Moody." He added as an aside, "Which is really too bad. I did really well in that class this year. I could have used a job reference."

Ashanti rolled her eyes. "You're all heart, Haviland."

Haviland shrugged. "I have to make comments like that every once in a while, or they won't let me stay in Slytherin House." He sobered. "Anyway, I think we should keep our copies of our readings. Aren't you curious about whether or not our future predictions will come true? I'm willing to bet five Galleons that Leanora's reading is dead on. Trelawney swears Lee has the Gift."

"Professor Snape said so, too," Leanora said in a low voice.

Haviland rolled his eyes. "Oh, yeah, like he's an expert." He saw Leanora's expression. "Look. One of the Slytherin prefects owes me a couple of favors. I can get him to let you do a reading tomorrow, okay? Just promise that you'll keep the reading you did for Snape. Just out of curiosity. In a year from now, I'd like to look over our readings and see how well we did. Agreed?"

The young women exchanged glances. Finally Leanora nodded. "All right."

"Deal," Ashanti agreed.

As they stood up, Haviland remarked thoughtfully, "You know, whatever's coming, those three teachers are probably going to be right in the thick of it. I guess we'll see if Professor Dumbledore was right about fortunes favoring the bold."

"Let's hope so," Ashanti responded, and she shepherded the other two toward the exit.

_____________________

Author's note: Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, Sibyll Trelawney, Cedric Diggory, Rubeus Hagrid, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (along with its prefects and various rooms) belong to author J.K. Rowling. No money or other form of payment was received for this story. I already have a full-time job, anyway, and I write strictly for enjoyment.

Many thanks to my beta reader Zsenya at Sugarquill.com, who, despite my assurances that there was no deadline for this story, insisted on reading it right away because "I feel like reading something good before work". As if my ego wasn't big enough already…. *laughs*

In the spring of 2001, I took a four-evening course on the Tarot. After doing readings for my classmates, my mother, and a few other folks, I thought it might be interesting to do Tarot readings for some of the Harry Potter characters. If nothing else, it would be good practice.

I did not go through the decks and choose certain cards as plot devices; the readings contained in this story were actual readings done for each of the characters listed. These are the cards that really turned up. The "section headings" for parts I, II, III, and IV are cards that would describe the people for whom the reading is being done, or, in section IV, the three students discussing the readings. The card used to stand for the Querent in a reading is sometimes called a signifier.

The Celtic Cross, which is the spread (or layout) that I used for the readings, is probably one of the best-known spreads in the practice of Tarot. Any good Tarot book will mention it, and many give an actual diagram of the layout. A Tarot book will also describe the four suits of wands, coins (or pentacles), swords and cups. Briefly, wands stand for activities or projects, swords stand for actions, cups stand for emotions and relationships, and coins stand for money, jobs, or other things relating to the material world. Cards with these four suits belong to the Minor Arcana; the picture cards that have none (or in some cases all) of the suits belong to the Major Arcana. The Major Arcana cards are supposed to represent significant events in a person's life, while the Minor Arcana supposedly deals with day-to-day details.

I really do own each of the decks mentioned in this story; the deck described for each reading was indeed the deck I used. Roderick Haviland's deck is The Dragon Tarot; Ashanti Myers's deck is the Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck; and Leanora Summerlee used the Tarot of the Cat People deck. For anyone interested in seeing depictions of the Tarot decks mentioned in the story (along with a number of others), you might want to try http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/ . Over 75 different decks are displayed and reviewed at this site.

At the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, great changes are taking place in the magical world. The readings in this story were done to offer a glimpse into the background of the teachers mentioned, but also an experiment in foretelling their futures as well. I'll be interested in seeing how close my readings come to the truth as laid out by Rowling in her next three books. I don't pretend to be an expert in Tarot readings, and all three readings may turn out to be completely off the mark by the time we reach the seventh and final book (or even by the time we reach chapter two of Book 5....)

I thought it was worth noting that in three of the four readings, the one common card was the King of Cups, which presumably represents Professor Dumbledore. We know that he has already given Professor Snape a "second chance", and that Professor McGonagall has referred to him as "too noble" to use certain spells against his enemies (suggesting that she respects him); the fact that his card appeared in Roderick Haviland's reading suggests that he's had an influence on Haviland as well.

Personally, my opinion of "fortune telling" more closely resembles McGonagall's than anyone else's. I don't believe that many of the people who claim to be psychic are indeed psychic, and I tell people to take all forms of fortune telling with a grain (or six) of salt. Irregardless, I do agree with Professor Dumbledore's advice to Roderick Haviland: no matter what the cards or the horoscope or the tea leaves or the astrology chart says, fortunes favor the bold -- or, if not the bold, at least the ones who keep working toward their goals.