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By: Jessi_Rose
Beta read by: arithmancy_wiz and PrincessPotter
Chapter Graphic: Elena78
Title: Tale of the Tarot
Rating/Warnings: 12+ (substance Use/Abuse)
For the Staff: This project was a must for me, because all of you have done so much for this site and for everyone that is a part of it. There are no words to express how grateful I am to you, so I hope that you can sit back, relax and enjoy a bit of humor with Sybill as your guide. *huggles all* ~Jessi~

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Mauve curtains lie draped across the half oval windows. The sunlight that peeks through them casts a strange glow around the cramped room of the tower. A mixture of heavy rosemary incense and cooking sherry permeates the room with a musty stench that can be smelled throughout the higher parts of the castle.

Sybill Trelawney sits at her maple table, staring at the cards that are laid out in front of her. Her jaw is all but coming unhinged as her mouth hangs open. Her preying mantis-like eyes are unfocused, daring the information before her to be true.

The reading is undeniable; no excuses can be made for its meaning. Within the intricately designed cards, the truth shines out. Centered among the lot is the High Priestess, crescent moons resting on two pillars behind her. A curtain extended between the pillars is decorated with pomegranates, the fruit of love and fertility. Adorned in simple, white robes, symbolizing her purity, the Priestess wears a crown made up of white daisies, the flowers of innocence. On her lap lie white narcissi, the flowers of death and rebirth.

Sybill’s long, wrinkled fingers glide pensively over the card’s image. She marvels at the porcelain woman as if believing her to be perfect. Essentially, she knows that this card is a representation of herself, the inquirer. Loyal and divine, the woman on the card foretells future gain. Whether it will prove a gain of knowledge or truth depends on what lies around her.

With her glasses on the bridge of her nose, Sybill’s magnified blue eyes glaze over as she sees her old foe. Next to the Priestess, set diagonally from Sybill’s sherry glass, is the Page of Swords. The Page is a young boy wearing a blue tunic and white shirt that reflects the colors of the sky behind him. In both of his hands he holds up a sword, which he tilts to the left of the card. He is an image of versatility and creativity. The bird depicted behind him symbolizes the mind’s ability to soar high above the mundane. Though his nature on the card seems genuine and harmless, Sybill knows differently. She saw this card on the day preceding the death of Albus Dumbledore. This young boy was at best mischievous, and at worst, malicious.

Of what importance is this boy to me? she wonders as she reaches a frail hand out to grab her almost empty glass of sherry. Slowly, she brings the drink to her thin lips and takes the last sip, letting the sour grape taste linger in her mouth a second longer than normal. When the short glass is empty, leaving only a small, crimson ring at the bottom, Sybill makes to put it back upon the off-white tablecloth. Missing by several inches, the glass lands on the ground with a reverberating clang as it shatters.

Professor Trelawney sits still and quiet, appearing oblivious to what she had done as she contemplates her next fate. On the card below the Page dwells a major arcana card: The Wheel of Fortune. A blindfolded woman wearing a purple gown stands in the center of a wheel. On each side resides a different man; top, bottom, left and right, each representing a chance in life; one good, one bad, one who has been good, and one who has been bad. Sybill takes in the meaning of the card, her third eye focusing gravely on the man at the bottom of the wheel- the man who indicates strife. Still, the Wheel of Fortune only tells its true position by its surrounding cards. By intuition, Sybill knows that her fate is in deadly question.

Barely drawing a breath, she shudders and tries to reason with herself. One never expects to read negatively into the divine, but the third eye never spares us the truth. I shall take precaution when in the presence of others because, obviously, some man wishes me ill.

Willing her eyes to move to the final card, a loud gasp of terror escapes her throat. A hoarse ‘No’ echoes through the thick, musty air before Sybill rises from her table and runs from the tower, quickly opening the trapdoor and descending the ladder that leads to the corridor.

With her shawl draped haphazardly around her shoulders, she runs as fast as she can through the seventh floor corridor. Her abnormally long feet scurry across the marble, leading her straight to the only place she knows to seek comfort.

The wooden door next to Barnabus the Bewildered opens with ease at the touch of her shaking, frail hand and she slips inside. The door slides shut behind her. Sybill stands anxiously in the spacious broom cupboard, holding her hand over her opened mouth. Finally feeling her tension ebbing away, she finds a small bucket and sits herself upon it. Clasping her pointed chin between her thumb and fisted hand, she begins biting her already jagged nails. It is clearer now than ever before- the High Priestess, Page of Swords, Wheel of Fortune, and…Death.

Trembling at the thought of her final card, Sybill stands from her bucket and begins to pace small circles around the broom cupboard. She reflects warily on her final fate, the merciless image of a skeleton riding bareback upon a black horse. Etched in her mind’s eye is his scythe and hourglass perched in either hand, taunting her with her time left to live. Raven and poppies plague her mind; she knows death is surely immanent. Typically the death card represents change and transformation, but her paranoia and the surrounding cards symbolize to Sybill a much more dastardly outcome.

Her wariness only elevates at the creaking and stomping noises of the students coming down for supper. At every minute sound, the distraught Professor jumps a mile in the air and clutches her shawl tighter around her shoulders. A low, yet friendly voice from the hall finally breaks through her morbid thoughts.

“I tell you, Baron, Peeves is waiting for the first years. He has a box of the Weasley’s Wheezes Potions. And,” the voice says becoming graver, “he will use them.”

“That is no issue of mine,” the Baron replies haughtily.

“But…You,” Sir Nicolas implores before seeming to give up. “Oh, never mind.”

Sybill gasps as she hears about Peeves and the potions. Obviously they are dangerous; they are, after all, from the Weasley twins. She knew someone was out to get her, but she never would have suspected Peeves. She knows she can’t let him find her lest her Tarot reading become reality. She waits until she can no longer hear the ghosts talking and then sneaks from the oversized cupboard into the empty corridor. She draws a ragged breath as she shuts the door behind her, jumping at the click of the lock. Determined to see the Headmistress, Sybill tiptoes quickly down the hall. Every so often she looks behind her to make sure that Peeves is no where to be found.

Only two flights of stairs, she assures herself. She knows Peeves is most likely outside of the Great Hall, waiting for the innocent first years to get done eating dinner. It is his favorite time to harass the students. To Sybill’s luck, she is right; Peeves is not around the third or fourth floor corridors. One more staircase, she chants mentally, one more staircase..

Having not encountered any trouble, she now stands, filled with dread, in front of the large, stone gargoyle that guards the Headmistress’s office. Its facial expression is snide; its eyebrows so close together that they create a crack in the cement across its forehead. Its mouth is parted as if begging to say something sarcastic. Sybill stares at the unwelcoming guard, racking her brain for the correct password.

“Lemon drops?” she whispers hopefully to the gargoyle. When its face changes to an impassive expression, Sybill puts her forehead in her hand. No, of course. That was Dumbledore’s password.

“Oh! I don’t remember,” Sybill pleads with the gargoyle. “You know me! I was here all the time last year,” Sybill shouts in exasperation. She can’t understand why the stone won’t just move out of her way; this is an urgent matter. “You wretched...”

“No, no, no, Oh Divine One,” comes a sing-song voice from down the corridor. Sybill freezes, willing herself not to face the source of the voice. “Peevsie knows the word. His Bloodiness told me so just now. The Headmistress would like to see Peevsie,” he sings.

Peeves hovers above Sybill’s quivering form, blowing raspberries and feigning the dropping of the potions. When she sees a tiny droplet of purple liquid come to the brim of one of the glass jars, Sybill leaps skittishly to the side, causing a clamor of iron to sound throughout the corridor. While falling to the floor, Sybill watches as a dozen knights in armor clatter to the ground around her. Peeves cackles evilly, feeling triumphant in his scare of the old insect. The entire time that the divination instructor is struggling to stand from the concrete ground, she keeps her eyes focused intently on the dastardly poltergeist. She moves her eyes just enough to get the Weasley’s potions back into her view, scared that if she isn’t paying close enough attention, she could wind up with a burn hole in her forehead from Peeves’ taunts. If he makes one false slip, she could be done for.

Using all of the strength that she can muster, she brings herself into an unsteady standing position. She pushes her thick framed glasses more securely on the bridge of her nose while using her other free hand to wrap her shawl closer around her neck and shoulders. Taking a final, frightened glance at Peeves and his potions, she runs from the front of the Headmistress’s office, back toward her tower. Peeves, however, has another plan for the poor, terrified Divination Professor.

As Sybill reaches the third floor landing, Peeves is floating just behind her with one tiny vial of purple liquid, uncorked and ready to spill. Without paying attention to the stairs in front of her, the Professor’s substantially large loafer catches on the first step, causing her to fall face first into the uneven concrete. Gingerly, she lifts her throbbing head from the ground and holds herself up on her hands and knees.

“Did the Divine One see that coming?” Peeves mocks. “Your third eye missed that one, Oh Celestial One?”

Sybill groans as she quickly lifts herself up from the floor. Still shaking from Peeves’ threats with the vial, she makes to run away again, but to no avail. Peeves zooms in front of her on the stairs and splashes the purple liquid into her face.

A scream of terror erupts from Sybill’s throat as it hits her. I’m dying! Oh Merlin, he’s killed me, she cries as her hands fly to her face, wiping furiously at all of the muck covering her cheeks and her chunky glasses.

Peeves chortles menacingly, watching her desperately swipe at her face.

“What is going on here?” a stern voice asks from behind the scene, causing Peeves to assume an upright, ghostly posture. “What is this mess, Peeves?”

“Oh, hello, Headmistress,” Peeves says with feign politeness. “One of your ickle Professorheads has a wittle bit of a boo boo,” he baby talks, pointing behind him to where Professor Trelawney stands grasping at her face.

“Is everything okay, Sy-,” McGonagall starts, but hastily finishes with, “Oh, my word!” Professor McGonagall clasps a wrinkled hand over her open mouth in shock. Standing before her is a woman with a giant green face covered by a pouf of messy, dirty blonde hair. Her multiple eyes are abnormally large, looking as if someone had taken a window screen and pressed it on top of two shiny black rocks. Her face is shaped like a rounded triangle, with small, twitching feelers sprouting out from the top of it.

Sybill’s hands explore her face, as she looks quickly back and forth between Peeves and the Headmistress, having abandoned her previous attempt at cleaning.

“How did this happen, Sybill?” the Headmistress inquires, forcing her face to remain impassive as her lip twitches. “Why do you look like….that?”

“That mischievous poltergeist was trying to kill me, Minerva,” Sybill exclaims as she points at Peeves. “My dying transformation has already started,” she wails! Her hand goes to her forehead as she lets out a dramatic cough.

“Peeves! Did you do this to her?” Minerva demands.

“Terrible lies, Headmistress. I would never kill anyone. Just a little prankie for Peevsie,” he harmonizes with a squeal.

“Prank? This is no prank, Headmistress. I am going to die! It was all in the cards just now,” Sybill cries. “Death by a malicious soul!”

Surely you won’t die, Sybill,” the Headmistress consoles. “We can get this sorted out in no time. Best get you into the infirmary before the students see.”

“I will not parish in a hospital bed!” Sybill hollers. “My face has already undergone the gods’ transformations!”

“You are only a preying mantis,” McGonagall answers with a big sigh. “Peeves, you need to meet me in my office as soon as I get Sybill to Madam Pomfrey,” she orders, glaring in his direction for a second before turning back toward Sybill’s. Her eyes fill with revulsion as she once again takes in the altered face that of her Divination professor. “Come now, dear. Your sight should show you that you will be fine.” The stern looking older witch gently grabs a hold of Sybill’s elbow, leading her down the hall.

“It is…the end,” Sybill exaggerates, bowing her head in acceptance. Just as she retracts her arm from the Headmistress’s grasp, a loud commotion fills the corridors. Students begin pouring from the Great Hall, making their way back up to their dormitories to finish their homework and chat. Buzzing excitedly, and full bellied, the students stroll past the insect, poltergeist and Headmistress with very little notice, until one squeaky, boyish voice fills the hallway.

“Oi! A giant bug!” screams one of the students while gesturing frantically at the others.

“Oh, dear,” the Headmistress says with a faint laugh. “It’s going to take ages to get them to calm down now.”

“I’ll do it, your Headship,” Peeves assured. “Hey, you lot! Feel it! It’s really bumpy,” he sings over the crowd as he zooms away.

A cluster of kids run up to the transfigured woman, poking at her extraordinary face. Her knees buckle under the pressure of the kids, leaving her lying on her back on the solid ground below.

“Children,” called the Headmistress. “That is no way to treat your Divination Professor.” She uses her hands to shoo the students away from the, now twitching instructor. “Up, Sybill,” she requests as she takes Sybill by the arm. “I will get this straightened out right now.”

“Minerva, there is nothing you can do,” Sybill sighs sadly. “I have seen the omen. It was the omen…of death!”

“Merlin’s beard, woman. You only got transfigured into an insect. Will you put your hands away from your face and let me perform the counter spell?”

Sybill reluctantly obeys the former Transfiguration Professor, dragging her hands from her face down to her sides. “Do what you must. But it will not change the inevitable.”

“Everyone will die one day, Sybill. If you remember that, you may keep your sanity,” Minerva says irritably. She takes her slender hand and reaches into her robe pocket to withdraw her wand. Pointing it directly between Sybill’s gigantic black eyes, she mutters, “Finite Incantatem.”

Instantly, Sybill’s head begins to shrink down to normal size and change from an olive green to a natural blush. Instead of a thousand clustered black eyes, she now has two very large, magnified eyes hidden behind a pair of thick, black framed spectacles. The only remaining pieces of her former state are two tiny red marks where her feelers had grown. Still feeling the pain of sprouting antenna from her head, Sybill places her fragile, shivering hand on her forehead, feeling the first beads of sweat from terror and embarrassment.

When the hall starts ringing with laughter, Minerva silences the students with a wave of her hand and says genuinely to Sybill, “Honestly, Professor Trelawney, you don’t think we’d let something from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes in this school that would actually harm someone?” She gives a cool smile to the Professor and turns to walk away, leaving Sybill standing amidst a pointing and giggling crowd.

Feeling her strength return to her jelly-like legs, Sybill walks back up the long, tedious path to her tower. She replays the day’s events over and over in her head. According to her Tarot, she should have died today; the third eye spares no whimsical details. Why then had she not expired? The death card is a card of transformation, you know, mocks a skeptical voice inside of her head.

“The Death Card in any reading is not a good thing. With the cards before me, I know that death is coming. I will prove it,” she snaps at herself.

Swinging open her heavy tower door, Sybill stalks into the stuffy, stale room and places herself smartly in front of the table where her tarot cards still lay. She ‘humphs’ at the cards; they are still aligned according to their previous reading. Sliding them all together in one quick movement, she brings them up in the air, eye level, and begins to shuffle all seventy-eight cards together. Making sure that each card has slipped out of place at least once, Sybill brings them down onto the table and, between her two hands, forms a bridge with the cards, making sure that they are indeed shuffled to the best of her ability. Finally satisfied, she lays them in three piles in front of her before making them into one neat stack again.

Taking a long, deep breath and staring blankly at the elaborate, pale blue design on the back of the square deck, she lays out four cards face down in front of her. Slowly, she overturns the first card, revealing none other than her previous, wicked fate. The haunting image of the skeleton mounted on a black horse is fixing her with a death-like stare in the eyes. Screaming a blood curdling shriek, Sybill jumps from her table, causing it to overturn. As she pauses briefly to see the damage she has done, she notices that every Tarot card that is facing upward has the same morbid sketch. There, in front of her, are at least fifty skeletons, all holding their scythes, glaring coldly back at her.

Practically frozen with fright, Sybill slowly backs her way to the trapdoor of her tower. As soon as she has reached the bottom of the ladder she runs as fast as she can down the deserted corridors. Before she gets to the great oak doors of the castle, she passes by a semi-transparent figure and a floating poltergeist in deep conversation. They pause briefly from their discussion to watch the horror-filled woman fling open the double doors and cast herself out into the night.

“Peeves, what exactly did the Weasley twins send you?” inquires the shrewd form of Sir Nicolas.

“A box of transfiguration potions,” Peeves sings whilst floating away. And just before he is about to disappear through a wall, he calls back to Sir Nicolas, “And a deck of trick tarot cards.”

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