Chapter 17

The set paper in care of magical animals covered magical snake-like beings and fairy beings and Jade reckoned both were a gift. Of Runespoors, Ashwinders, Occamy and Basilisks she was well informed; and held forth cheerfully on Pixies, Leprechauns, Ghillie Dhus, Bwbwachod, erklings, gnomes, pogrebin, elves and the fey.

She wrote far more than she needed to.

The practical involved the handling of bowtruckles, the correct procedure to dedoxify a room and the separation of Knarls from hedgehogs, a simple matter involving seeing which ones got stroppy over being offered milk.

Cleaning a firecrab was a tricky little business but Jade had no trouble. Lynx, Fabian and Senagra came out slightly singed, Jem set light to the curtains and Erwin set light to the examiner.

Kate Rosier congratulated Erwin and said it was the best thing she'd heard all day. She loathed firecrabs and had picked up a very nasty burn.

The rest of the viva voce exam was to advise on the care and diet of a sick flying horse other than a thestral. Jem did not distinguish himself by suggesting that if it was Madam Maxime's Abraxans, stuffing it full of whisky until it didn't care would probably work.

Jade made the examiner's eyes glaze over by going into the twisted gut problems that all horses including flying ones were prone too and the medical transfigurations that were needed to cure them.

Lynx said they were likely to give her a pass at high grade just to get rid of her and shut her up.

Jade beamed.

"That was the idea, hadn't you guessed?"

Hagrid was delighted with Jade! She was one of his favourite people – she and Lydia had spent a lot of time with him in the Voldemort years before they started school – and HE approved of her answers!

Herbology was all fairly easy too.

It was all, as Jade said coarsely a load of crap.

Being about fertiliser in the main question she could not, entirely, be faulted for that summation.

Unlike Cackle's gels, the Hogwarts students had been getting their hands dirty from day one and knew all about overfeeding screechsnaps with dragons dung; some kids did it on purpose to watch them writhe uncomfortably, an exercise that had Jade for one jinxing them for unnecessary cruelty to er, plants. Screechsnaps were semi-sentient and Jade had been wont to point out that they'd soon catch it if they started feeding poison to owls or tying cans to the tails of cats and that it was exactly the same thing.

As a result she was able to write knowledgeably about how to relieve the condition of overfed screechsnaps, having done it regularly from a time before she had even started school being wont to beat up bullies whether she was entitled to do so or not.

She also added notes about the maturation times of dragons dung into fertiliser under various conditions.

The questions on mandrakes and the differences between devils snare and flitterbloom were easy.

The practical was no worse than repotting fanged geraniums and collecting bubotuber pus. The latter at least Jade had been doing for her father since she was about eight; and suffered no ill effects for being quick and accomplished. Nor did she have any trouble with her fanged geranium; she charmed it by singing to it.

Muggle Studies was next.

Jade and Jem were taking the subject; and mostly with the view to write knowledgably about muggles rather than the accepted view of muggles, though rumour had it that the ministry was now employing a muggle relative of a wizarding child to mark the work.

There were several essay questions to choose four from and Jade chose "Why muggles prefer not to know; explain'; 'the importance of electricity to muggle home life'; 'The priorities of an average muggle family'; and 'The impact on muggle society of mass communication devices.'

The last could be interpreted somewhat broadly; and Jade chose to do so, sketching the development of the telegraph, telephone, wireless, television and internet. Jade explained that the effects were incalculably great since mass media helped to prevent oppressive societies from hoodwinking their subjects into thinking there was no other way, although in affluent societies there were two problems in that mass entertainment systems tended to dumb down entertainment and aim for the lowest common denominator; and that though muggles had access to vast amounts of information at the touch of a few buttons, they were alas like wizards only human and although infinitely better informed than ever before were almost certainly no wiser.

Jade, Lynx and Fabian were doing Geomancy together and were a little disappointed that they would not be able to follow it up at Prince Peak as a NEWT elective. Fabian and Lynx had already spoken to Professor Khan and negotiated a correspondence course on his subject, Comparative magic, however!

The Geomancy paper covered unplottable places, the use of ley lines to increase speed of travel and included a map to plot the principle ley lines of Britain. There was also a question concerning the impact of power stations and high voltage power lines on travel. It was something Padfoot had been investigating and encouraging his class to look into and obviously he had added it to the syllabus too. This made sense; as it had a great impact on the average travelling wizard.

The practical was fairly standard; the applicant and broomstick were taken somewhere blindfold by apparition and left to make their way back by ley line and other transport. Time would count for marks.

Jade decided it was as good a time as any to test out the use of feyspace as she had been studying how to get into it.

It was easy enough to enter; she had already done that and found it like looking through cobwebs, a bit like being under the invisibilty cloak.

It only took Jade a few minutes to get back to school – startling the examiner into saying

"Oh no, not another one" since David too had been ridiculously fast.

Jade beamed at him.

The journey had been just long enough for her to do some mental calculations about the nature of feyspace and to come to the conclusion they the use of it was how whichever Peverell brother it had been had made the true invisibility cloak.

They would not have to take one of the two marauder cloaks in the marauding room; she could make her own true cloak using feyspace and her enchanting skills, in fact a better cloak than the ordinary invisibility cloaks the marauders possessed.

Jade was in an excellent mood!

Lynx and Fabian enjoyed the exam for comparative magic; it dwelt on apsaras, the Indian fey; genies and efreeti of the middle east; and western Sidhe, and the different ways each were perceived both by muggles and wizards in their own communities. There were other questions; on the use of dreaming and walkabout by native Antipodean wizards, the use of zombies and inferii for common tasks in parts of Africa and the West Indies with that same heritage; and a longer question on the use also in African and West Indian cultures of drums in chanting and ritual as compared with the use of bells and gongs in the Far East, inviting the student to explore, compare and contrast.

The only exam left was Astronomy; Erwin was taking that because he was interested. So too were Annis and Gabriel because of its ties to Divination through the Astrological connection. Naturally the practical of this exam took place at night to view the night sky; typically the written exam was in the morning and the entrants were sent to lie down quietly all afternoon.

Erwin thought the questions in the exam had been rather fortuitous, the main question having been on the stars in Leo. As Professor Black had named his and Willow's twin children after two of the stars in that constellation – one for his brother Regulus, the name of the star also catalogued as Alpha Leonis, and the other, their little girl for Beta Leonis, Denebola, Erwin was well away. Although not a member of the blood group he associated with them and had been involved with the family discussions over whether Sirius was going to stick to naming children after stars out of Leo – appropriate really given that Willow was a cat animagus – and if so how appropriate they were. Algieba, Gamma Leonis, was reckoned reasonable enough for a little girl but Asad Australis was out of the question, and Adhafera, Rassalas and Alterf sounded distinctly foreign. As did the names for Regulus in other languages, Magha the mighty, Miyau the centre or Cor Leonis the lion's heart. As a royal star – Regulus meaning The Ruler – those who had looked such things up said Sirius might be better using names like Roy and Regan which people could at least pronounce or looking for other stars that were a bit less outlandish or going with the doggy theme and picking dogs from the numerous pack of Actaeon. Especially as several of those names meant things like soot, black-paw and so on, suitable to joke on his family name.

Sirius had said that he and Willow would pick their own names thank you and please to stay out of it.

However the discussion had given them a very good understanding of the sickle of Leo and Erwin was grateful!

Naming random constellations just by their stars and writing in the main stars by the labels was not hard; and Erwin slept the sleep of the just all afternoon.

The practical was always going to be harder; finding stars on a star map was always easier than identifying them in the sky and Erwin could have kicked himself for confidently finding Betelgeuse only to realise that he was actually looking at Mars and his telescope was too out of focus to pick up its disk.

Other than that it went well.

And then they were all free; no more exams!

St Jodoc's came with their cricket teams and asked facetiously if the quagmire was yet playable on. The current captain, Ray Brent, was an affable but rather too hearty boy who made jokes about the Scots – rather heavy jokes involving a lot of saying 'och aye the noo' in a Devon accent – and Sirius, who was a keen supporter of his wife's carefully honed team winced and remembered James Potter's manner at a similar age.

Fortunately the Hogwarts cricket team were a tolerant bunch and though the temptation to jinx the muggle must have been there they manfully resisted.

Lionel had turned down being head of muggle games, being Head Boy as well, and had handed the cap to Melody Bloom who had been on the team longest bar Jade, who was going anyway. The first eleven played Lionel, Melody, Mary-Anne, Tamsin, Tim, Ross, Freya, Arjelan, Cholaka plus Dimsie and Jade and the latter said rather ruefully that it was the Lionel Dell and friends show. She was delighted that Dimsie Burke had learned to play cricket from Lee Nuffield and had become keen; but wanted to tease Lionel so that Dimsie didn't feel left out – especially next year when Jade would be at Prince Peak. Of course Dimsie might join that blood group; that would remain to be seen.

Lionel had grinned at Jade's banter.

"We just like to join in things together" he said.

Two others of his group were in the second eleven, Heather as captain and Grigs, Lionel's cousin. Pearl Brocklehurst played in practice but was a bit nervous of playing muggles as yet and helped with teas instead along with Mischa and Vasilica, neither of whom could get the hang of cricket.

Philip Burke had also learned cricket from Lee and wanted to join in; Mad, Chad and Leo came as a matched set and did amazing things on the outfield, Harmony Bloom and Albert Macmillan were also established members and it turned out that Ian Pender Malfoy also played and had been teaching the other of Lucius' children a little. Hadrian Malfoy, Vladimir Malfoy's son, was already a useful little bat from his previous muggle junior school; and Gorbrin played reserve.

The first eleven's match was almost interrupted when a microlight went over far too low with apparent engine trouble and everyone ducked.

Of course Jade called out to the St Jodoc's captain, on bowl,

"There you are, a few feet lower and it could have been the first ever case of 'plane stops Ray…'."

It was not only her own team who cuffed her soundly for that awful pun.

The first eleven lost by eight runs; the second eleven won by seventeen runs and a wicket just before the umpire – Archie Trumball – called light on them.

It was a good match and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

A few days later they travelled to the Henderson Girls' School which now had thirty two pupils and had scraped together two elevens.

The first eleven, generally speaking last year's only eleven, was never going to beat the Hogwarts first eleven of experienced cricketers but they put up a spirited and valiant defence and the visitors cheered them their efforts. Their juniors were also a valiant bunch – almost all first years and sturdy little players who forced the less cohesive second Hogwarts eleven to a draw for lack of time. The Hogwarts players cheered them too.

Fortunately they were all totally mugglish muggles and nobody noticed the goblins on the team!

And then it was the end of year feast and the presentation of the school cup and the various shields.

Slytherin had the Quidditch shield; but Gryffindor managed to pip them for the School Cup by being remarkably Hufflepuffish in behaviour all year with a bit more intelligence, as Jade described it.

House Slytherin had been largely involved in the rescue of the Cacklites but had also, generally speaking, managed to get into more trouble, both the nasty trouble of the kind caused by Parkinson and her followers and the more innocuous kind that Bella and her band managed to get up to, including the spectacular, funny but definitely frowned upon jape on the penultimate day of managing to get the suits of armour jigging solemnly and insisting that passers by join in.

It disrupted things for several hours until all the suits of armour were de-jigged and Slytherin lost a collective of thirty points from Professors who did not want to join in jigging.

True, Madam McGonagall gave Slytherin fifty points for ingenuity as well as docking them fifty points for being irritating but her balanced approach and appreciation of their skill was not practised by all. Especially as the culprits were all sitting perched precariously on the landing banisters with their legs dangling, singing 'substitutiary locomotion' from the bedknobs and broomsticks film.

Madam McGonagall asked if they had actually used the song to get their armour moving.

"Oh yes Madam McGonagall" said Bella all big eyes and earnest "We figured that the intent and appropriate sort of words might work. So we chanted 'trebuna, mercoides, trecorum satis dee' until they twitched and then we started singing."

"It's ridiculous; it isnae even a spell!" said McGonagall "For your information, the film was on'y made tae cover an event sae widespread that confundment was juist oot o' the question!"

"You mean it's real?"

"The characters involved and the broad plot is approximately as it happened, aye" said McGonagall "And the great grandchildren o' wee Charlie Rawlins will be in Hogwarts in the next few years; and the Price-Broon great-grandchildren a few years doon the line. It wasnae supposed tae ever be tak'en seriously; oh dear, if the talented can use the pretended ritual…."

"I think it's more to do with understanding the principle of transfiguration that acceptance of similarity creates change" said Bella.

"You're no' supposed tae ken that law tae quote until ye're in the third" said McGonagall severely "But it was awfu' well done. Juist dinnae do it again."

"No Madam McGonagall, thank you Madam McGonagall!" they chorused.

"Cuh!" said Bella later "Fancy it being true! Miss Price must have been a stupendously good instinctive transfigurationist!"

"Perhaps she's one of Abraxus Malfoy's byblows" said Mimi.

"No, too old" said Bella, calculating on her (rather inky) fingers. "They were both muggleborn and both missed being sent to Hogwarts. Electricity do you think?"

"Cornelius Brown was a Londoner, if he was from near where lots of stations are close together, all the electric trains could do it" said Mimi.

"This is a bit beyond us" said Maud "You two know far more about muggles than us! Of course, Charlie would have got into Hogwarts because he could do stuff, I guess Carrie and Paul were muggles. Let's go and look up his career."

"Bet he's a Gryff" said Isabel.

In which they were entirely correct.

Charlie Rawlins and his daughter and sons, Caroline , Neil and Paul were all Gryffindors.

"Neil?" said Drusilllina.

"'Cos it's a sound in the middle of Cornelius and he didn't like the long version?" suggested Maud.

"More than likely" said Bella. "There's too many Browns of different lineage, like Lavender Brown in Harry's time…..hang on though we have a Cornelius Brown born 1974, could be a grandson…..heh, Slytherin!"

"MUCH more like the spiv" approved Mimi.

The prank had however helped to cost them the cup, and they were quite unrepentant. Most of the staff seemed to have forgotten that Maud and Isabel were Gryffindor; but Bella took it in good part as the idea had been hers in the first place.

Ravenclaw were never in the running for the ease at which the older ones had fallen to the childish prank of the Mad Marauders; and Flitwick himself had docked a hundred points for that. Which also punished the main perpetrators of the prank in even handed fairness. Amos Leroy's rudeness in class throughout the year had cost them a lot more points lost – he had been excluded from transfigurations for saying 'sez you, you silly old bat' to Madam McGonagall a piece of rudery that had led to him being beaten up by selected other first years, not only Gryffindors and had seemed to think that the Professors were there as his servants.

Ravenclaw House had spent time suffering too from a lack of puddings as the rude way he treated the elves had made them refuse to serve table with more than the necessities of life. Amiya Green had spoken to him severely about that and made him apologise to the house elves; and also to Madam McGonagall who had agreed to let him back in her class next year on the understanding that on the first sign of trouble he was out again and for good.

Amos was not sure he wanted to come back next year; he seemed to do nothing but get shouted at and jinxed!

Hufflepuff came close to taking the shield too for being mostly harmless, as Jade put it; the only reasons the positions were not as close as or closer than last year was Ravenclaw's dive from grace.

The marauders' shield went this year to the Lionel Dell group of friends who had managed, as Dumbledore said, to include members of every house in their group, had managed to be an asset to the school, played up at muggle games and generally helped out and had been visible in doing so for several years.

They accepted, grinning.

"And we haven't even lost Mary-Anne to come and collect it" teased Lionel, to general laughter in at least the upper school.

"Am I NEVER going to live down my first two years?" said Mary-Anne plaintively.

"Doubt it" said Lionel.

And before they knew where they were it was time to board the Hogwarts express for home; the end of a school career for the likes of Ed Dinalt and the end of their Hogwarts career for the Prowling Marauders who were now to be the first and only Prince Peak Marauders. And Jade was to travel alone out to Austria to have the chance to see her family for a while and then spend several weeks as the jailer of Hauptman Wolf Luytens to give Severus some time off to be with his family.

Jade did not resent it; but she was a bit wistful over missing a lot of her holiday. Still, Severus had said that he had got to know the ex werewolf quite well and that he liked him a lot; it was a shame he would not open up voluntarily about his daughter.

Jade strongly suspected that her mission in life was to be Severus' daughter at Wolf and remind him of his own little girl in the hopes that he would talk to her, though Irmtraut – awful name poor child – was only a little girl of twelve or thirteen at the most; whereas a girl of turned fifteen was almost a young lady.

Still, one could try.

And then there'd be the Prince Peak girls to lick into shape!

It was going to be a busy year next year!

The end of this year. So, do you want the Hogwarts story first or the Prince Peak story? Or are you going to claim I should be posting both together? events won't always run at the same speed, I warn you.