it’s my fault,” whispered Neville Longbottom, staring at the woven rectangle
of Native American designs.
blame yourself, Neville.” Professor Sprout leaned forward and touched
Neville on the shoulder. “I doubt very much that you caused what
happened.” She too glanced at the wall hanging. “I certainly
didn’t know that it could do that, and it’s been in my family for years.”
and student stood in Sprout’s office. Behind her desk, next to a
photograph of her father, hung a weaving with a navy blue background that
sported a red, white, and black line design of something that looked vaguely
human, but with a misshapen body and long hair. Neville stared at
it and shivered.
herself felt no less unnerved. For as long as she could remember,
the weaving had shown a set of lines and ovals forming what her father
had called a bear. Now the picture was completely different.
and Neville turned at the knock on the office door. Headmaster Albus
Dumbledore entered. “Sylvana, I thought you should know that I’ve
sent for a specialist in the area of magical items,” he told Sprout.
“Considering the origin of this weaving, I contacted the American embassy
to ask for assistance. Their top diplomatic witch assures me that
their government has someone who specializes in magical Native American
artifacts, and that he or she can be here later today.” He smiled
reassuringly at Neville. “Mr. Longbottom, before this government
agent arrives, why don’t you tell me what happened?”
sir,” Neville responded in a voice that was barely more than a whisper.
Sprout stopped short outside the door to Greenhouse Two. “I’ve forgotten
my gloves,” she remarked, shaking her head. “Honestly, I thought
I had everything.... Neville, are you going back up to the castle?
Would you mind fetching my gardening gloves, please? Here’s the
key; the gloves are probably somewhere on my bookshelf. Thank you.”
had returned to the castle, let himself into Sprout’s office, and had
begun peering at the items on the shelves. A few moments later,
the door creaked behind him. “Careful, Longbottom,” came Draco Malfoy’s
voice. “You’re going to break something -- as usual.”
turned to look over his shoulder; Malfoy lounged against the doorframe,
arms folded and mouth drawn into a sneer. Neville went back to searching
the shelves for Professor Sprout's gloves. “You shouldn’t be in
open,” Malfoy replied, stepping into the room. “You plan on making
me leave, Longbottom?”
gloves were sitting on top of a stack of papers. Neville picked
them up, snagged his sleeve on the papers, and promptly spilled the pile
onto the floor. “Professor Sprout didn’t tell you to come in, Malfoy,”
he warned, stooping to pick up the papers.
the two boys, the lines on the weaving began to slither like snakes, forming
and unforming a series of pictures. A breeze began to stir in the
eyes darted back and forth as he looked around for the source of the wind.
“All right, Longbottom, what are you doing?” he snapped. “Better
stop -- it’s bound to backfire on you.”
not doing anything,” Neville protested. “I think -- I think it’s
coming from over there.” He straightened up and pointed to the weaving
behind Malfoy. The other boy sneered.
of course, I’m going to fall for that,” he drawled. “Honestly, Longbottom,
can’t you come up with --”
breeze was strengthening; the papers on the office floor whirled up into
a funnel. The lines on the weaving were merging to form one large
shape. Malfoy finally turned and froze for a moment; then he began
backing away from the weaving, hand reaching for his wand.
wind began to howl, but now the only things moving in the rush of air
were Malfoy’s hair and clothing. He was shouting, the wind was lifting
him off the floor, drawing him toward the weaving -- and with a flash,
Malfoy vanished. His wand clattered to the floor, the wind suddenly
ceased, and the lines on the weaving stopped moving. Neville stood
alone in Sprout’s office, staring at the rectangular picture on the wall.
of course Neville came to find me,” Sprout added at the end of Neville’s
narrative. She had drawn up chairs for the three of them.
glanced at the weaving. “This has never happened before, as far
as you know?”
Sprout replied. “This artifact has been in my family for years.
It belonged to my father. If I had had any idea that it could do
anything like this, I would never have brought it to Hogwarts.”
course not,” Dumbledore assured her. He rose. “I think it
best to inform Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall of what has happened.
And I’ll need to send a note to Lucius Malfoy as well. Neville,
stay here, please -- I’ll see that lunch is sent up for you. I’d
like everyone available when the American specialist arrives. If
you’ll excuse me....”
sat, shoulders slumped. “I’m sorry, Professor.”
all right,” Sprout told him. She glanced at the weaving, then cautiously
drew her wand. With a few waves and some murmured words, she conjured
a glass of pumpkin juice and a mug of tea. The weaving didn’t change.
“If anything, I should apologize to you. I had no idea you or Malfoy
were at risk from that weaving.”
father is going to be angry,” Neville remarked.
nodded. “I’m afraid so --” she began, but broke off at the sound
of a voice in the hall. “Oh, no, that’s all we need.”
well, well,” exclaimed Gilderoy Lockhart, pushing
the door open and striding into the office. This morning he was
dressed in baby-blue robes; the trim on the sleeves and neck bore tiny
stones that seemed to be winking when the light caught them just right.
“One of my students mentioned you were having a bit of trouble here.”
sighed wearily and closed her eyes for a moment. “Hello, Gilderoy.
What can I do for you?”
come to help, of course.” Beaming, Lockhart looked around the office
and his gaze came to rest on the weaving. “That’s the problem tapestry,
is it? You know, I once had a go-round with a rather frisky carpet
in Baghdad. This looks to be the same sort of thing. Now,
you and Nelson here should move back -- very unpredictable, these primitive
I don’t think --” Sprout began. Lockhart waved his hand.
Sophie, my dear, I’ve handled cases like this before.” He drew his
wand. “Just need to show it who’s in charge, that’s all.”
lines on the weaving were beginning to move again, and a light breeze
began to move through the room. Neville edged closer to Sprout.
“Professor, that’s what it was doing when Malfoy disappeared.”
rose to stand next to Lockhart. “Gilderoy,” she said in a firmer
tone, “the Headmaster has already sent for a specialist. Come away
from that before you make the situation worse.”
Just a quick Revealer Spell and we’ll have everything under control.
Our missing student will be back in no time.” Lockhart reached forward
to tap the weaving with his wand. The wand’s tip touched the weaving
and stuck in place. Lockhart reached up to grasp it with both hands.
“Oops. Seems to be caught on something....”
this time a stiff wind was blowing Lockhart’s robes. Sprout reached
over to grasp his sleeve. “Gilderoy, don’t --”
again the light flashed. Lockhart vanished. Sprout managed
to catch his wand in midair. Neville jumped to his feet, sending
his chair crashing over backwards, and stood staring at the weaving, wide-eyed.
that,” Sprout finished. She and Neville watched the lines of the
weaving slither to the sides of the rectangle, leaving the middle a blank
navy blue. Sprout shook her head and sighed in exasperation.
“Well! As if we didn’t have troubles enough....”
American specialist, Mara Sagan, certainly didn't look Native American.
She had dark hair, but it was curly rather than straight, and she wore
it short instead of in the braids Neville had expected. She was
tanned and dark-eyed, and not particularly tall. She was actually
dressed in Muggle clothing -- black trousers and an embroidered blouse
-- with an open robe over them. The trim of the robes and the blouse
bore geometric designs that might have been Native American symbols.
had presented her credentials to Dumbledore, been introduced to Professors
McGonagall and Snape, and politely shaken hands all around with everyone,
even Neville. Both Sprout and Neville had again recounted their
experiences with the weaving. Now the American stood in silence,
gazing at the weaving with an awed look on her face.
is incredible,” she murmured finally, moving closer to the rectangle on
the wall. “I’m aware of only two other artifacts like this one.
One is a remnant that was confiscated by our government during the 1870s;
the original spell was dismantled, of course, so it doesn’t work any more.
The other is in the possession of a museum in Seattle, Washington.
A team of witches and wizards finally figured out how to put a Warding
Spell on it so that it didn’t trap anyone. Ideally, we’re trying
to get the museum to give or sell it back to the original tribe, because
it’s anyone’s guess how long the Ward will hold, and we’ve managed to
convince the management not to put it on display, but it really should
be in the hands of a certified Medicine Man or Woman.” She shook
her head, then turned to Sprout. “What can you tell me about the
history on this?”
shifted in her chair. “It belonged to my father,” she said.
“He traveled all over the world, cataloging magical plants, and I know
that he was friends with a American Indian who was interested in the same
things. He gave this to my father at some sort of a pot party back
in the 1920s.”
eyebrows rose. “Pot party?”
looked uncertain. “Well, it was something like that.”
you mean a potlatch?” Sagan asked.
thought for a moment. “That might be it.”
nodded. “A potlatch is a Native American ritual practiced among
tribes on the west coast of Canada and the southwestern coastal area of
Alaska and the state of Washington. Basically, a potlatch serves
as a combination of celebration and legal contract. For example,
if a person is being instated as a chief of a tribe, his family will throw
a potlatch and invite friends, relatives and dignitaries. During
the festivities, gifts are given by the new chief’s family to the guests.
If the gifts are accepted, it means, among other things, that the receiver
agrees to honor the man’s claim that he is now the new chief.” She
waved a hand. “I’m over-simplifying, but you get the idea.”
Gesturing at the weaving, she continued. “Your father received this
as a gift, right?”
the weaving would acknowledge him as its legitimate owner. Because
you’re his daughter and a member of his family, it would also see you
as a legitimate heir.” Sagan’s gaze turned to Neville. “And
Mr. Longbottom here has been in your office before?”
times,” Sprout said. “He’s one of my best students.”
smiled. “I don’t doubt that.” She looked back at the weaving.
“And that would explain why the weaving did what it did, I think.
I’m going to have to consult with a colleague about this. Would
it be possible for me to use this office without being disturbed for a
an hour later, the small group met again in Sprout's office.
believe I now know what’s happened and why.” Sagan crossed one knee
over the other and leaned back in her chair. “To understand what’s
going on here, you need to know a little bit of American history.
Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, the United States government passed
a series of laws that did a lot to destroy the ways of life of most of
the Native American people. Traditional ceremonies were outlawed.
Native children were taken from their parents and placed in boarding schools
and forced to speak English and dress like the so-called mainstream Americans.
Because of this, those members of the Native American community who had
magical abilities looked for a way to continue their traditional ways
of life without arousing the suspicions of the government.”
pointed to the weaving. “This is one such method. It was woven
by a very powerful Medicine Man or Woman, probably during the late 1800s.
Using this weaving, a young man or woman can be sent on a Spirit Quest,
which is a Coming-of-Age ceremony in many Native cultures. The youth
enters the weaving and is transported to another world. He or she
then undergoes a period of communing with the spirits. The youth
is out of sight of the government officials and is not technically performing
the Spirit Quest in the United States, and so is not in violation of any
laws. Quite clever, really.”
this weaving is attuned especially to young people?” McGonagall asked.
the most part. And therein lies the problem,” Sagan said.
“None of the adults in this room can enter the weaving to do anything
for Mr. -- Malfoy, is it?” Dumbledore nodded, and Sagan continued.
“The weaving is designed to test youths entering adulthood. Once
you’ve actually become an adult, the weaving has no particular use for
you. It will recognize its owner,” here she nodded at Sprout, “or
a certified Medicine Man or Woman, but beyond that all bets are off.”
about Gilderoy Lockhart?” asked Dumbledore.
to my colleague, Professor Lockhart is in there and being held in storage,
so to speak. There are stories of some -- shall we say ‘less-than-friendly’
-- members of the military and various government agencies who tried to
harm the Native people and who just mysteriously vanished.” She
folded her arms and stared at the weaving. “What little information
we have on this type of artifact suggests that it can double as a protection
for its owner and/or his tribe. Not everything that goes in there
necessarily comes back out.”
how do we get Malfoy out?” Snape asked.
sighed. “Well, technically, we shouldn’t do anything to get Mr.
Malfoy out. He has, after all, gone on a Spirit Quest.” She
waved a hand. “However, he’s in there without any training, and
without preparation of the weaving by a Medicine Man or Woman. The
weaving might not let him out, no matter what he does in there.
My colleague and I both agree that our best bet is to send in someone
who hasn’t yet attained adult status.”
eyes darted back and forth between the professors, but only Dumbledore
and Sagan looked at him. Before either of them could speak, McGonagall
remarked, “Perhaps we could approach one of the Prefects about doing this.”
opened his mouth. “Professor,” he said in a small voice. He
cleared his throat.
was continuing, “I don’t want to put any more of my students at risk --”
Neville said again in a louder voice.
Ms. Sagan could suggest someone--” McGonagall remarked.
eyebrows rose. “Well, actually --”
stood up. “Professor McGonagall, I’ll go!”
and Snape both turned to look at him. Sagan nodded. “Ah.
That was going to be my suggestion.” She began rummaging
around in the bag she had brought.
I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” Sprout began.
gave a snort of derision. “Longbottom to the rescue? This
is enough of a disaster already.”
see here --” McGonagall responded hotly.
will do!” Dumbledore's tone silenced both professors. He turned
to Neville. “Mr. Longbottom. Are you certain you want to do
opened his mouth; the Headmaster silenced him with a glance. Neville
looked down at the floor for a moment, then back up at Dumbledore.
“No, sir. But I think I have to. It’s my fault Malfoy’s gone.
And Professor Lockhart.”
happened to Professor Lockhart is no one’s fault but his own,” Sprout
exclaimed firmly. “I warned him to leave it alone.” She turned
to Sagan. “Can anything be done for him?”
was pulling various items out of her bag. A drum and beater, as
well as a bundle of grey leaves and a set of small jars were already sitting
on Sprout's desk. “I believe so. My colleague and I will have
to deal with him.” She straightened up and smiled at Neville.
“But I think it falls to Mr. Longbottom here to rescue his fellow student.
And --Neville, right? -- Neville, what happened to this other boy is not
your fault. It is right of you, however, to take responsibility
for him. I’ll give you whatever help I can.”
turned her gaze to the weaving. “Come here.” She and boy approached
Sprout’s office fireplace. Sagan reached into a pouch, drew out
a pinch of tobacco and sprinkled it into the flames. Then she picked
up the small bundle of grey sage leaves, lit it, and, using a raven’s
feather, began wafting the smoke toward the weaving on the wall.
Turning to Neville, she instructed, “Put the palm of your left hand on
hesitated. Sagan smiled reassuringly. “It’s all right.
I’m fairly certain it’s not going to hurt you.” Cautiously, Neville
complied. For a moment, nothing happened. Then the black,
red, and white colors began to slither around the weaving, forming a series
of symbols, until they solidified into the shapes of creatures that looked
like strangely shaped birds.
The symbols are still moving,” Sagan remarked thoughtfully. “All
right, Neville, the weaving accepts you. Listen to me very carefully.
Usually, when someone is ready to step into the weaving, he or she has
had weeks, sometimes months, of instruction from a qualified Medicine
Man or Woman. You’re going to have to do without that, I’m afraid.
This is what I can tell you.
Native American magic, animals, plants, and other parts of nature are
considered to be the equal of humans. Don’t be surprised if some
of these things talk to you. If they do, remember your manners.
Older beings are often referred to as ‘Grandfather’ or ‘Grandmother’;
that’s a sign of respect. Don’t turn down a sincere offer of help,
no matter how unlikely the being who’s offering it.” She turned
away from the weaving and began wafting the sage’s smoke toward Neville.
“It’s all right to be nervous or frightened -- it’ll keep you from doing
something that will get you killed, as long as you keep it under control.
Control is one of the differences between courage and foolishness.
And don’t be afraid to find your own solutions to problems -- there’s
often more than one way to achieve a goal.” She put the sage down
on a fireplace and made a series of signs with her hands.
Miss.” Neville checked the wand tucked into his belt. “What
do I do now?”
drew her own wand, a thin elm branch whose handle had been bent and tied
into a circle; a small piece of animal hide, bearing the silhouette of
a canine of some sort, was bound into the circle, and a black raven’s
feather hung from the circle’s bottom. She sketched a symbol in
the air with the wand’s tip, made a gesture of putting something into
her mouth, and suddenly a leather pouch appeared in midair. She
caught it and handed it to Neville. “Take this -- it contains enough
food for a few days.” She slid the wand into the back of her belt,
and nodded toward the weaving. “Step over here. Ready?”
She took Neville by the arm. “You’ll need to jump into the weaving.
took two steps forward and managed to jump without tangling himself in
his robes. There was a brief sensation of fabric against his face
and hands, and the next thing he knew, he landed in a stumble on uneven