"Yes," said Septimus. "Take it. Please."
"You see, sir, I have dreamed of getting my hands on some. Dreamed of it, I have. But where can you find a dragon nowadays? It's a nightmare for a Lizard Keeper like myself. Nightmare." Billy Pot shook his head sorrowfully. "But of course if you don't want to part with it, I quite understand."
"Noplease, please take it," said Septimus. He thrust the bulging sack at Billy Pot, who smiled for the first time that day.
As Jenna, Septimus and Spit Fyre reached the Palace door, Godric's thin voice drifted through the evening air. "Ah, good evening, Princess. How nice to see you. And good evening, Apprentice. How is the Transforming going? Have you managed the Transubstantiate Triple yet?"
"Nearly," said Septimus, dragging Spit Fyre behind him.
"Good lad," said Godric, and immediately went back to sleep.
In the turret at the east end of the Palace, Spit Fyre sat fretfully whining and scratching the bottom step of a flight of spiral stairs. Septimus had tied the dragon to a convenient ring in the wall and told him to stay.
"I'm sure it's up here," said Jenna, concentrating hard on the key to the Queen's Room as she led the way up the stairs. As she reached the small landing at the top of the turret, Jenna let out a triumphant whoop. "Yes! Hey, Sep, look at thatI've found it!"
"Where?" Septimus looked at Jenna, perplexed.
Jenna shot Septimus a quizzical look. "Very funny, Sep," she said. "You don't think it might be that gold door with all those patterns on it, and the big keyhole in the middle with an emerald set above itjust like the key?"
"What gold door?" asked Septimus.
Suddenly Jenna understood, and a thrill of excitement went through her. "You can't see it, can you?" she whispered.
"No," replied Septimus, a little overawed. "I can't. All I can see is a blank wall with lumps of plaster falling off it."
"Well, it is here, Sep. I can see it. I really can. I'm going to put the key in the lock now," said Jenna, hesitantly. "Will you wait here for me?"
"Of course I will."
"This is weird. I'll try the key then, shall I?"
"Yes. Go on, Jen. Oh, hang ondid you say the lock was in the middle of the door?"
"Yes, why?" Jenna looked concerned.
"Well, make sure you jump out of the way as soon as you've turned the key. The door will come down like a drawbridgeit'll squash you flat if you don't."
"Will it? How do you know?"
"Oh, I just know these things, Jen," said Septimus airily.
"Silly boy," said Jenna fondly.
Septimus stepped back and had the strangest experience of watching Jenna push the key forward until the end of it disappeared. Suddenly she leaped back and smiled at him. Septimus smiled as well; then he watched her walk forward and vanish through the solid wall.
The golden door closed silently behind Jenna, and she found herself in a small and surprisingly cozy room. A fire was burning in the grate and a comfortable chair was placed beside it. Sitting in the chair, gazing at the fire, was a young woman wearing a heavy red silk tunic, with a gold cloak wrapped around her shoulders. Her long dark hair was banded by a gold circlet like the one that Jenna herself wore. At Jenna's sudden arrival, the young woman sprang to her feet, her violet eyes shining with excitement. She took a swift step forward, and in her eagerness to reach Jenna, she passed through the chair as though it was not there.
But Jenna saw nothing, which maybe was just as well. For as the ghost of the Queen stood before her, gazing at the daughter she had last seen as a day-old baby, Jenna would have found it hard to ignore the large bloodstain that was spread across the left-hand side of her mother's cloakalthough she might not have noticed the jagged tear of the bullet hole, which was hidden in the folds of the dark red tunic.
The Queen stepped back to allow her daughter to wander around the Room. She watched Jenna gaze, puzzled, at the blazing fire and at the empty chair. She saw Jenna wrap her arms about herself and shiver slightly as she moved through the Room, glancing about as though she had caught sight of something out of the corner of her eye, and all the time searching desperately for somethinganythingthat would save the Dragon Boat.
Knowing that she must not Appear to her daughter, the Queen watched, willing Jenna to find what she had to alone. But Jenna had almost given up hope, for the Room was not the Magykal place she expected it would be; it was no more than an empty sitting room with a fire, a rug, a small table, a chair andsuddenly Jenna smileda cupboard, and not just any old cupboard either. For on the door of the cupboard was written: UNSTABLE POTIONS AND PARTIKULAR POISONS.
Jenna opened the door and walked inside.
The cupboard was as empty as the Room had been. Four intricately carved but completely bare shelves ran along the back wall, with no sign of the potion bottles, herbs or remedies, books of spells or Dragon Boat secrets that Jenna had longed to see. Desperately, she ran her hands over the shelves in case she had missed something, but there was nothing, nothing but dust. Then Jenna noticed a line of small drawers almost hidden in the dark mahogany panels under the shelves, and her hopes soared. She took hold of the small gold drawer-knob of the topmost drawer and pulled hard. The drawer slid out smoothly and Jenna smelled a musty combination of old mint chocolate and dust; she ran her hand around the inside of the drawer, but it was as empty as the shelves had been. Frantically, she pulled open each drawer in turn, but there was nothing to be found.
As Jenna reached the last drawer she felt desperate; she knew that this was her very last chance, for there was nowhere else to look. As she tugged it open, Jenna felt something inside the drawer move as if she had pulled a lever of some kind, and at the same time she heard a soft click behind her and the cupboard door swung shut. She was plunged into darkness.
Jenna pushed the door but it did not move. With rising panic she pushed harder, but the door would not budgeand something told her that it was locked. What was she going to do? She was trapped. No one except Septimus knew where she was, and however much he wanted to, he would not be able to help her. She would be there forever, stuck in the dark...
It was then that Jenna realized that the cupboard was not as dark as it had been, that she could now see a thin strip of light under the door. Tentatively Jenna gave the door another push, and to her delight it swung open.
She stepped out onto the smooth flagstones of Aunt Zelda's cottage.
Chapter 44 The Young Queen
Septimus sat on the dusty landing watching the peeling plaster on the wall, wondering when Jenna was going to reappear. He tried to imagine what she was doing inside the Queen's Room, and what was taking her so long, but he did not mind waiting. There was something Septimus had been longing to take a closer look at ever since Jannit had fished it out of her toolbox and handed it to him, saying, "Looks like something you could use, Master Septimus." He put his hand into his tunic pocket and took out the Flyte Charm.
The Charm felt oddly familiar to him, as though he had known it somewhere before. It was a surprisingly simple Charm, considering the power that it possessed, and the old, yellowish gold was scratched, the flightssuch as they werebattered and bent.
As the arrow lay quietly in his palm, Septimus felt a tingle run through his hand, and something made him reach into his Apprentice Belt and take out his own silver winged Charm, the one that Marcia had given to him when she had asked him to be her Apprentice. Septimus loved this Charm. With itand a lot of concentrationhe could hover about ten feet off the ground, but he could not fly. Not as Simon had done. Septimus had often dreamed of flying, and indeed had frequently woken up convinced that he could, only to be disappointed.
Sitting on the cold stone floor, with no sign of Jenna's return, Septimus held out his open hands, one Charm in each. He thought they were both beautiful in different waysin his left hand he could feel the powerful spirit of the ancient golden arrow and in his right the delicate lightness of the silver wings. As he looked at them he could sense the Magyk from both Charms running over his skin and disturbing the air around him.
And thensomething shifted, something moved.
Suddenly the wings were sitting upright in the middle of his palm, wafting back and forth like a small butterfly warming up in the sunlight. Enthralled, Septimus watched them as they fluttered from his right hand over to his left, where they landed delicately on the Flyte Charm. There was a Magykal flash of light, and the silver and gold of the two Charms melded together as the wings settled down and resumed their rightful place as the Flyte Charm's original flights.