The Sugar Quill
Author: Seldes Katne (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Fortunes Favor the Bold  Chapter: Chapter Two: The High Priestess
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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.


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