(1939-11-13) Runes and Ruminations
Details for Runes and Ruminations
Summary: Abraxas and Anthony discuss runes, while Madeline tries to glean the basics of the subject with her usual enthusiasm. After the tutoring session, Anthony advises Madeline on a moral quandary.
Date: Thursday, November 13th, 1939
Location: Ancient Runes Classroom
Related: A Killer in Our Midst

Anthony is in his working robes, but the sleeves are rolled up. Despite this, there's quite a bit of chalk dust on them. The huge blackboard of the runes class is COVERED in runic scripts. Those who are familiar with such things will recognize Anglo Saxon Runes, the old and new Norse Futhorks, some Oggham, and a selection of Hieroglyphs. He's got his hands on his hips. There's going to be chalk there too, probably. "Come on in… any desks."

It was a befuddlement, no doubt, to the other students what Madeline Evans (a second year) was doing in an Ancient Runes review - but there she was, sitting off to the side. She has some of her other textbooks along with her incase she gets bored and decides to work on Transfigurations, but for the moment she's eyeing the board curiously, trying to make sense out of it all.

Abraxas Malfoy is solidly in the middle of fifth year ancient runes, but the Slytherin has apparently decided to put a bit of extra work in. He's been surprisingly studious since the year began, a strange change from his previous air of entitlement. Though those who think he isn't still entitled would be sorely mistaken. He has a heavy book under his arm, as well as a scroll, as he sits down in one of the desks and looks up at the board.

Anthony clears his throat, slightly nervously. He has a sheaf of notes in his hand. "Runes! What do they mean? What are they for?" He looks to the class, and dramatically throws an arm to gesture to the board. Unfortunately, it's the one with his class notes in. Which keep going. There's a little soft groan from the 7th year, but he swallows, and looks ready to go on anyway.

Anthony groans - but Madeline lets out a quiet laugh as the notes go flying, doing her best to stiffle it. Poor Anthony. She offers no answer to the question, however, as her eyes go back to the board, trying to figure out the strange writing - to find similarities and differences between the different symbols, if nothing else.

"They're written captures of magical energy. Or representations of it, at least. A way to put spells on stone or paper the way you put them in liquid with potions." Abraxas volunteers, which might not, exactly, be the textbook definition. "They're most commonly used for protective wards and other spells that stay in one place and have to last a long time."

Anthony grins and points to Abraxas. He's going with it. No notes. No Ravenclaw safety net. "Excellent, Malfoy! What else are they used for? Anyone?"

At the mention of protection spells, Madeline gaze goes to Abraxas curiously. She likes the sound of that. At Anthony's question, she squirms a little in her seat and then offers uncertainly, "Headmaster Flint used 'em on that door down in the dungeons. It made the outer door slam closed, and there was poison gas, and a riddle, and it kept the doors locked until the riddle was answered." So. Maybe more specific of an example than Anthony was looking for, but…

Could at least explain what the girl is doing there? Who wouldn't be curious after something like that!

Abraxas looks at Madeline and then makes a little boogieman waggle of his fingers, "In other words… Mysterious and deadly ancient curses. Though I think it's fair to say that Headmaster Flint forgot more about Runes than most of us can hope to ever know." Hey, the muggleborns may not like the guy, but he was good at what he did.

Anthony says, "Absolutely. Mr Flint is one of the Great Masters of the Runic World. His retirement from the academic world is a great loss for Runic Studies. But yes… that is an excellent and specific example of what Mr Malfoy sketched out. A spell he expected to stay in place for a considerable length of time, and have a key, and a consequence. Excellent. Anyone else? Other uses for Runes?"

Madeline goes from 'Ooo, protective spells are nice,' to 'Ooo! Mysterious and deadly ancient curses!' in an instant, straightening up in her seat and looking a little too interested. Creepy stuff! Terrific! Anthony's continued request for more uses of runes only gets a hopeless shrug from the girl, however.

"Repel intruders, prevent apparation or disapparition… Though those are all basically types of security spells that stay in place for long periods of time." Abraxas says, and then, "Though I suppose they can also have an informational purpose. Inscribed runes don't necessarily have to have magical effect, they can just say something."

Anthony grins, "Brilliant! Good! I wondered if I'd have to write something to get you to twig to it." He tosses the bit of chalk up into the air and catches it. "Information. Old runes may have no magic. But they may tell you how to _do_ some lost magic." He then turns, and gestures to the Hieroglyphs, "Now… these are a script from a Healers Papyrus. It describes wand movements… with a specific sort of wood and flower thread wand… it describes a chant. And it describes an inscription to be made at the same time. What does that suggest to people?"

"Ummm…" Madeline says uncertainly. She's trying, really. She's one of those kids who always wants to share in class. She's got nothing really, though. "Umm. That their healers studied from books and stuff too? I dunno."

"It's an instruction manual. A spellbook, basically." Abraxas hazards. "It also suggests that certain types of spells have been around for a very long time. And, interestingly, it's a charm, but it also includes a runic element, which would be unusual for us."

Anthony nods to Madeline, "Good…" And then Abraxas gets a brilliant smile, "Good! Very good. Precisely. This hints at how magic _was_ done. Before our modern sophistication. By studying the past with Runes, we can get insights into how our own world works. And by understanding where modern charms came from, we can gain insights into how to study them. Right… now….. I wonder, what do people want to work on? What are they having trouble on?"

"All of it," Madeline answers quietly, giving an amused smile at her own weak joke. For the moment, though, she mostly allows the actual Ancient Runes students to share what they're working on.

Gabriel arrives from Shifting Corridor.

Abraxas motions towards the board, "Could you go over the hieroglyphs, particularly how the use of the cartouche around certain of the sections of the incantations - which makes it a given name - impacts on the magic involved."

Anthony looks at Abraxas with an air of 'Good Malfoy', and a clear mental note to move the level of the class up a couple of notches for him. "Alright. As you say, Cartouches turn a selection of symbol-sounds into a name. But only SOME names merit the curvilinear 'oval' Cartouche. Specifically Royal Names, and some Gods." There's a quirk of the lips there, "Gods of better breeding, you might say." He scribbles, "Tut-Ankh-Amon" And then a looping movement, "And the cartouche, representing a warding. A barrier to protect the name.. because as we appreciate, the name _is_ in a philosophical sense the thing." A pause, and he adds, slightly tentatively, "It has been suggested that this 'shen ring' of protection is behind the Egyptian practice of Circumcision."

Madeline raises her hand and waits for Anthony to look towards her before she speaks. "So if the oval cartouche is for Kings and important Gods - what shape is used for not-so-important names? How many different shapes of cartouche are there?" she asks curiously.

Abraxas winces involuntarily at the mention of circumcision. "So, it's naming magic? That knowing the name of a thing gives you power over it, and the cartouche provides protection from that in the same way that the inscription or ward as a whole might protect the physical? Or am I moving things in too philosophical a direction?"

Anthony admits to Madeline, "Later in Egyptian history the same cartouche gets used for non-royal names." He clearly doesn't entirely improve of this 'modern' innovation. "But quite often they didn't use any indicator that something was a name." He writes 'Evans' on the blackboard, "How do you know that's a name? Have a think about it." He turns to Abraxas. "Exactly. And it's actually _more_ philosophical than that. The cartouche naming a King in a warding is _itself_ a ward. It's derived from a thing called a Shen ring." And he scribbles onto the board a circle, with a line touching one side of it. "That's a protective symbol. You see it all over the place. The statues of the Gods often have one of them. Or its variant." He draws a perpendicular line on the line, making a cross with a loopy top. "The Ankh. Very important rune. It's a protective. And you can see its relation to the Shen loop."

"Because it starts with a capital letter," Madeline points out promptly. She watches the drawings on the board - the Shen ring and the Ankh. Would it be protective if she drew it on her stuff? Or does she have to do something to make it work?

Anthony quietly turns and writes, "This is not a proper name. Think again, Evans."

"We know it's a name because it's not the same as the words we use for other things. Though that's not perfect." Abraxas suggests, tapping his quill against the papyrus scroll in front of him.

Anthony nods, "Precisely! A lot of the time it's about context. Later on, the Cartouche does get used outside a royal/religious context, but it's very late, comparatively speaking. Egyptian society was very, very conservative. These runes were in use for almost two thousand years."

"So the inscriptions we're finding, say, on tomb walls, might have a name, protected by a cartouche, within an engraved runic ward that protects the tomb itself. Does including the cartouched name specifically link the inscription to the tomb in question?" Abraxas says, circling back around to his earlier question after making a few notes, "Would the rune be less potent without the name included?"

Anthony says, "Honestly. Probably not. But you could also see it as an exclusion clause within the warding spell. 'Release these things on anyone here… except me'. You have to also remember that the Egyptians saw their afterlife in quite a… material way."

Abraxas chuckles, "So if the rune says, for example, 'Death to those who steal tomb of the Pharoah Ramses', you can't 'fool' the rune by saying, 'Oh, well, I'm actually here for the next tomb down.'?"

Anthony laughs, "I'm guessing not. Care to experiment, Malfoy?" He shakes his head, "Remember the Priest scribes were professional Runists."

Abraxas shakes his head, "No, I don't think I would care to. I'm sure that Professor Lestrange would advise me not to underestimate the potency of ancient curses. So, what would undo the rune? Is the counter-magic runic, or on some other basis?"

Anthony says, "What one person can do, another can undo. And I can think of several ways. But why don't you try and reason it out?"

"Obliterating the runes would seem like a logical possibility, though one would think the first thing a runist in such a situation would do would be to somehow protect them." Abraxas muses, "I suspect there would be a counter, ward, too. Or maybe you can /change/ the runes so that instead, they say something innocuous. Many of them are very precise, and engraving an extra squiggle here and jot there could change the meaning."

Anthony says, "Good. Or you could just engrave a second copy of the same rune somewhere else…. less visible. That's how I'd do it. Anyway. Yes. Those are options. Or you could ward against the ward."

Madeline listens curiously to the discussion between Anthony and Abraxas, looking back and forth between them as they talk. "Copy the same rune?" she asks. "Somewhere else… on the tomb? The whole inscription, or just one of the runes? Why would that stop the magic?"

Abraxas looks to Madeline as she asks the obvious next question, and so he lets Anthony answer it.

Anthony says, "No… no, I mean, if I were the runist. I'd provide a copy of the inscription to be seen and attacked, and another one holding the spell, so that when they thought they'd disarmed it and stepped in…"

"Oh. OH!" Madeline lets out a quiet giggle. "Oh, that's mean! I like it!" Yes, she is enjoying this little preview of Ancient Runes. It sounds like you can cause all sorts of mischief with this! "Like… Like if I wrote 'Stay out of my room or hair'll grow out of your nostrils' on my door - but then also put it inside the door jam?" she suggests.

"Ah, I see. That makes sense. Too bad there isn't a spell to detect runes. I guess you have to just keep your eyes open." Abraxas says, with a nod.

Anthony says, "Exactly so. Now… Mr Malfoy. Do you want to carve an inscription. The Runes of your choice. And we'll have a little look. I suspect Miss Evans will find it interesting"

Madeline nods her head eagerly. "I would," she confirms eagerly - then continues on to ask, "I know we can't do magic outside of school - I mean, not until we pass our OWLs - but what about runes? Does that count as doing magic - writing runes - or is there a way to write the runes without putting magic in them and that's okay but it's only putting the magic in them that's bad and if so then how do we put the magic in them to start with?"

Abraxas nods, and rises, drawing his wand. Presumably there are tablets for this sort of thing in the classroom. He takes his wand, and the end of it lights as he says, "Insulpo." Then as he approaches, he says, with a wry smile, "Evans, don't take this the wrong way…" or do, he doesn't care, "but do you mind standing in the back of the classroom for a minute?" He waits, then he says, "Cave Inimicum" and begins to carve the runes, 'Let none who are not here enter this space without their presence being known.'

Anthony explains as Abraxas does so, "Yes. Yes, it does count. If you're empowering them. If you're using them as a form of writing? No… no, of course not! The Muggles write in runes, sometimes!"

"But how do you empower them?" Madeline asks curiously, glancing at Abraxas as he asks her to move to the back of the room. She climbs to her feet and moves back. "Is it - well - Malfoy's writing them with his wand, so if you write them with the wand it's empowered, but if I write them with my quill then it's okay?"

Abraxas motions to Madeline that she can come back after he's done carving. And then he sticks his fingers in his ears.

Anthony explains, waiting for the inevitable. "Certainly a pen would be insufficient. Paper as a medium in general. But you _can_ carve with a chisel and hammer. It's just a lot more work than using your wand."

"So. If I carve with a chisel and hammer - that could empower them too?" Madeline asks curiously, as she starts to move back towards the pair. "So writing them is okay, and carving them isn't."

And once she gets close enough, there is a horrible, horrible racket from the runes. Like a magical burglar alarm.

Anthony gives a smile to Madeline, waiting to see her response, and clearly unable to be heard over the noise.

Madeline clamps her hands over her ears - but the girl is all smiles. "Oh hey that's great let me see how you did that!" the girl exclaims loudly. Whether it can be heard or not is dubious. Still - she eagerly starts to scamper over, then pauses and scampers away again, curious to see if leaving the area stops the noise. She pauses at the outskirts of the room for a moment then, regardless of whether it successfully stopped the noise or not, scampers back in again to study the writing.

Abraxas takes his wand and defaces the rune sufficiently to stop the infernal racket. "It's an intruder rune." he says, "You'll learn it if you take Ancient Runes to fifth year." He pulls out his pocket watch and checks the time, "I need to be getting to Astronomy, though, and have to stop in the common room for my telescope."

Anthony waves his wand. "Quietus." The noise stills. "Malfoy, if you could disarm it, I'd appreciate it. Now! Anyone who is finding particular difficulties, I've set aside time on Thursday evenings each week, and Friday evenings on non-Hogsmeade weekends for tutoring sessions. Questions?"

"Fifth year?" That's a long time away. Still Madeline peers at the defaced runes curiously, then smiles at Anthony. "Runes are fun. Thanks! It's too bad you won't be around next year when I actually start studying this stuff for real."

Anthony gives a faint smile, "Well, I'm sure whoever takes over as Professor Black's Aide will be just as good!"

"No way!" Madeline answers staunchly. "Ain't even possible!" She grins up at the older student. "Just means you'll have to stop by Hogsmeade weekends to see your little sis and give me a hand. Yeah?"

Anthony corrects, "Both my sisters. But of course. Yes. Depending on my work, naturally. But I'd certainly hope to come on up!"

"Oh. You have two?" Madeline clearly hasn't been paying enough attention. "I should be friends with both of them!" she exclaims cheerfully. After flashing Anthony another smile she adds, "I should really work on my Transfigurations, though. Colton says if I wanna be a Curse Breaker then I gotta pass."

Anthony says, "Amber and Alicia. Yes! And totally, you do have to!"

It's not clear whether he means pass Transfiguration, or be friends with his sisters

Madeline seems to accept this statement without need for clarification. He obviously means both! She simply turns to start towards her book, then pauses, and glances back at Anthony. She siddles towards him, and beckons him down. "Hey. Did you hear about the rumors?" she asks quietly.

Anthony leans down, and nods, gravely, "Yes. Yes, I heard. Our very own Dark Witch, if they're true." His tone is studiously neutral.

"But… it isn't true, is it? It's an unforgivable curse. Why would she get to go to school with us?" Madeline asks. She seems more curious than alarmed by the prospect.

Anthony shakes his head, "I don't know, is the simple answer. Perhaps she was Imperius'd to do it? Perhaps she was too young to be held responsible for the action?" He sounds a bit doubtful at that last. "Maybe it's a social experiment."

"What's a social experiment?" Madeline asks uncertainly. "And, well, it was… a year and a half ago, I guess, right? And she's a seventh year, so she was at the end of her fifth year when it happened… I guess, well, maybe since she hadn't passed her OWLs yet…" She frowns in thought. "But even still!"

Anthony says, "A social experiment…." He seats himself, or perches himself, on the edge of a desk, "Do you think anyone is irredeemable? I mean, if they're still alive, is anyone incapable of trying to make amends and be a better person?"

"Well…" Madeline answers uncertainly. "The Bible says we oughtta forgive folks. That if we're really very sorry and try to make up for it and try to do better - we oughtta forgive folks, and God forgives them, and you still get to go to heaven." She doesn't talk about the Bible much at school - her uncle warned her that most wizards wouldn't really understand that - but somehow she thinks Anthony won't think less of her for it.

Anthony gives a faint smile. It's not clear if he believes, but he's certainly not mocking. "Alright. So… if she's really sorry, do we chuck her, at 17, into Azkahban, where there'll be no hope she'll ever be anything but a mad murderess… or do we try and reform her?"

Madeline shifts uncertainly. "I… don't know," she admits quietly. "The Bible says we oughtta forgive her. But… well. It's an Auror's job to catch someone that done an unforgivable and lock them up. It's the law." And she's a Junior Auror! …not that she would ever confront Valda about it and try to lock her up. "So… so what's right? Following the law, or listening to what God teaches us? I mean, we're supposed to follow the laws, right?"

Anthony says, "Well, if she's broken the law, she'll need to pay the penalty. Whatever that turns out to be…." A pause, and he shoves his hands into his pockets, "What's the purpose of punishment for crimes?"

This question catches Madeline offguard. "I, umm… I dunno," the girl admits. "My parents punish me when I make a mistake, umm… So I know there's consequences when I do something bad. And to teach me not to do it again. Right? So I guess… when someone breaks the law, they ought get punished for the same reason? But… but sometimes someone's just too dangerous, right? It's not punishing them so much 's protecting everyone else."

Anthony nods, "Good. To educate and encourage better behavior in future. That's called 'Rehabilitation'… and to Protect others…" A pause, "Can you think of another reason?"

Rehabilitation, protection… "Umm. Revenge?" Madeline suggests with quiet uncertainty. "But that's a bad thing. You're not supposd to do that - revenge."

Anthony nods, quietly, and then says, "Exactly. Revenge. It's a very… strong… emotion. When there's been Dark Magic around. And it's easy to dress up Vengeance behind 'protection of others'. So, when someone talks about Protecting others…. I'd suggest you look very hard at what their motives really are."

"If it were Rena, it'd be protecting others - for real. That's her job. It… it'd be her job, I think, to arrest the new girl for having done that - if she had done that - I mean, unless you're right and she was too young when she did it and can't get in trouble 'cuz if that," Madeline responds, still looking confused and conflicted. "And if she knew about it, and didn't do nothing about it, she'd get in trouble because that's her job." But she's not an Auror, herself - she's a Junior Auror! So that's not the same, but it still wouldn't be right to hide something like this from the Auror's office… would it? "Do you think the Auror's office already knows?"

Anthony says, "I suspect so. Why? Were you planning on telling them? You probably should, if you're writing to Mrs Odori anyway. But just the facts, Madeline. Just the facts."

"You think I should?" Madeline says uncertainly. "I mean, I could write to Chief Worthington too - but you think I should write just to Rena? But do I even know any facts? All I know is rumors. The only facts I know is that she's from Durmstang and she came with Headmaster Dippet - right?"

Anthony nods, "And… I believe… with two Aurors." He gives a little nod, "But they may not know what she's supposed to have done. Since it was out of jurisdiction." There's a long pause, "What do you think is the right thing to do?"

"I don't know," Madeline says uncertainly. "If she's really sorry - then shouldn't she have a chance?" she asks. "But if she did do it - then by the law Rena'd have to arrest her and lock her up. And that'd be sad, if she really is sorry. But what if she's still dangerous, and she's here at the school? But why would Dumbledore let her be here if she's still dangerous?" She lets out a huff of air. "I wish uncle Perry were picking me up this weekend, but he says now that things are alright I don't need to go on Hogsmeade weekends anymore and he didn't ask for permission to come get me but maybe I could ask Rena to come meet me at the gate and we could still talk?"

Anthony gives an encouraging smile, "And there you have a workable solution. You see, if you talk a thing through, you reach the decision you always knew you had."

Madeline nods, still looking uncertain. "You think I should try talking Rosenbots," yes, she terribly butches the name, "before I talk to Rena? Though I'm not sure Rena'd like the idea of me talking to someone who'd… done a thing like that. I mean, I'm just a second year and all."

Anthony hrms. "Talk politely. As you would to anyone. I do need to talk to her, though." Seventh year. Ravenclaw. And indeed, sharing Elective. "And… well.. perhaps if I were ignoring her, it would be Vengeance, rather than protection. Do you see?"

Madeline gets that thoughtful look that Anthony often manages to prompt from the girl. "You mean… that ignoring her would be spiteful?" she asks uncertainly. "But that talking to her… umm… Well, it's hard to know how much danger there might be, if you're ignoring her."

Anthony gives a faint smile, "Exactly. But if anyone can't show vengeance, it should be me. I think, anyway. It's not _entirely_ about her. It's about me."

"What do you mean?" Madeline askes quietly, an uncertain and cautious note in her voice. "Because, umm… because of what happened?" she asks. "At… the party?"

Anthony says, "Yes." He says it very simply, "I have a motive to feel hate. Anger. Revenge. So it's very important for me, that I don't give in to any of those things."

"She didn't do it, though." Madeline moves closer to Anthony, to give the older boy a hug. She flashes him a reassuring smile, then adds, "I really should work on my Transfiguration. But, umm, I'm gonna think about all this stuff some more," she promises. Because it's still all very boggling!

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