The Sugar Quill
Author: Seldes Katne (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Fortunes Favor the Bold  Chapter: Chapter Three: The Magician
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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."


"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.


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