A/N: First of all, thanks for the patience. Hopefully the next part will be written a bit faster. Second: we are aware that Hagrid is supposed to speak some kind of slang. Since we both have problems getting 'normal' English right we decided to give Hagrid a few language lessons…
Second: We are aware that we messed with the timelines of the Sentinel and Harry Potter a bit. Bear with us!
Third: BEWARE of magical plot-bunnies! You may be surprised by low-flying brooms or strange spells! Keep Caution!
And now that all this is said, have fun reading and keep the Feedback coming!
A Sentinel at Hogwarts
Part IV: Hogwarts
by Meanthis and Lime-chan
Jim was very happy when the train finally reached its destination. Not that he had anything against children, but after a while the constant questions became somewhat tiresome. Blair of course didn't share this opinion, or he didn't show it at least. As soon as he had managed to steer the conversation to safer grounds like the Quidditch cup (Jim still had to ask what this was. From the enthusiasm with which the children told the stories Jim had the distant idea that it was some equivalent to football) Blair was fire and flame. But his friend still couldn't pass up the chance to test his Sentinel's senses. When a lovely elderly lady had come to their compartment with all kind of sweets and snacks for sale, Blair had bought a pack of what was called 'Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans' and then explained sentinel-soft what these special sweets were about: every flavour should obviously taken literally. Jim had been very close to telling his Guide what he thought about this experiment, but even he, hard-ass cop, was helpless against Blair Sandburg's look. And then, he had to admit, it had been kind of fun. With a bit of whispered coaching from Blair, Jim had had no problems dividing those beans which were actually edible from those with more... unconventional tastes. Most of all the startled looks of the children when he never caught any nasty beans was very funny. Blair had had fun, that was sure.
So they finally arrived at a town called Hogsmeade. About half an hour before the train reached its stop Blair managed to convince Jim to put on the robes they had purchased for him in London. The detective still thought that he looked absolutely ridiculous in the clothing, but he had resigned himself to the misery. And now, after being surrounded by loads of children for the past hours, Jim really yearned for some peace and quiet, but the moment he climbed out of the train, helping Blair with the suitcases, he realised that it would be still some time before he would find it. The platform here wasn't any quieter than the one in London, only here the balance between children and adults had shifted clearly towards the children. Wonderful.
"First years to me!" a deep booming voice carried over the general noise. Searching, Jim turned around, but Blair had already discovered the speaker and was walking over, with a wide smile plastered upon his face.
"Hagrid! How are you?"
"Blair? Heavens, that you?"
Jim had followed Blair to the tall man who had been gathering children around him and was now hugging Blair enthusiastically. Jim looked up to see the face of the man. He looked up and up and up… How tall was this guy?
"It's good to see you again, Blair." The man said, releasing Blair from the hug "You haven't grown at all!"
Jim had a hard time to stifle a laugh at this while Blair mumbled something that sounded like "I'm not that short!" Louder he said:
"It's good to see you, too, my friend. Been a long time."
Jim cleared his throat loudly since he felt a little left out. Blair turned to him with a big grin on his face. It was clear that he was happy.
"Sorry, Jim! This is Hagrid, keeper of the keys and grounds of Hogwarts. Hagrid, this is Jim, a very good friend of mine."
A big smile seemed to blossom on Hagrid's face even if it was a little hard to tell with the jungle of a beard the man was sporting. By now Jim was sure, this man was taller than it should be possible. And tall wasn't even the right word to describe the man. He was… gigantic. He looked like the enlarged version of Canadian woodcutter too long away from civilisation.
Besides the primal forest Hagrid had for hair and beard, which didn't look the slightest bit untidy, he was wearing a long fur-coat which looked as if there were different types of fur worked in it. A slight smell of wood-smoke, forest and animals came over from him. All in all Jim thought this Hagrid seemed rather likeable. Now he had just to get used to the size of him.
"Good friend? So, so. The headmaster already told me that you would bring someone special with you, that he did."
The smile grew into a happy grin, or so Jim thought. It was hard to read expressions when you couldn't see most of the face. Blair returned the smile gently.
"Well, I told you I was going to find one, didn't I?"
Jim didn't know at this point if he should be annoyed that everybody around here seemed to be aware of his secret or be happy because he wouldn't need to hide his abilities for a change. But since being annoyed entailed being in a bad mood, he choose the latter. Tuning the talk between Blair and Hagrid out, Jim took a good look around. On the first look he couldn't see anything special about the place. It seamed like a typical little village somewhere in the country. Or not so little, there were more houses than you would think at first. But Jim couldn't shake off the feeling that something was different here (Apart from the fact that some of the houses clearly contradicted all laws of space and gravity). Jim couldn't tell if it were his Sentinel-abilities, good old cop-instincts or plain logic. He wondered about this until he saw something that proved without doubt that he wasn't in a normal village: Just behind the station-building a man on a broom ascended into the sky. No one around took notice of this occurrence as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Okay, so Jim had been there when Blair bought a broom for himself, but actually seeing a person flying on one? And once again it was proved to him that the Sandburg-Zone could always get weirder. Why hadn't he expected it, anyway?
"Hey, Jim, you okay there man?"
Blair sounded a bit worried, but when he followed his Sentinel's line of sight a knowing smile appeared on his features. Typical reaction for Jim: the Sentinel didn't believe in anything he couldn't see and when he saw it… it still wasn't certain that he would believe in anything unusual.
Jim didn't look at Blair, but continued to scan the surroundings. His sight had no problem at all in the diffuse light of dusk.
Turning away from the town Jim finally caught his first sight of the castle. The first thing he noticed where the hundreds of twinkling lights. Honing his vision on these lights he finally saw the castle itself. And a magnificent castle it was.
Blair had told him a few times about the appearance of his old school, but Jim really hadn't expected to see a true fairy-tale castle. A castle like that only appeared in stories and never in reality.
Blair, still standing at his Sentinels shoulder was sunken in his own reverie. He remembered the first time he had staggered out of the train quite well. A small eleven year old boy who had tried to take in everything around him at once. And he had been scared. Everything was so strange and foreign, even for him someone who had actually been around the world already (Naomi really had a thing for travelling). Not really looking where he was going and struggling with his luggage he had finally run into somebody. Literally. A tall and obviously older boy with dark hair and eyes had looked down at Blair rather angrily. But instead of some sharp comment, like Blair would have suspected, a smile had appeared on the other boys lips and he had actually offered to help Blair. They had become friends that day.
Blair sighed. He really wished that Sirius would one day be able to smile as carefree as back then. Azkaban had changed his prankster friend.
Looking over to Jim Blair saw that the Sentinel was still staring in the direction of the castle.
"Come on big guy. We better hurry, or we'll miss the sorting hat."
Jim was almost afraid to ask.
The mischievous twinkle in Blair's eyes should have warned Jim, but he had chosen to ignore this look about a week ago when he had still a chance to stay at home. His nice normal home.
"You'll see, my friend, you'll see. Now come on! I don't want to be late on my first day here. Talk about bad impressions…"
Blair started pulling Jim not so subtly in the direction the older pupils had gone. They weren't even off the platform, when Jim realized something:
"What about our luggage, Chief?"
"Don't worry. The house-elves are going to take care of it."
This time Jim decided not to ask. It surely was much safer for his sanity. Without any further protests he let Blair lead him towards a road were several carriages waited for the pupils (and new teachers obviously). The two of them had a carriage of their own and the beautiful landscape was more than enough of a reward for the archaic transportation.
They had passed the gate about five minutes ago and were getting closer to Hogwarts.
"I should have asked Hagrid if he could take us over the lake together with the first-years." Muttered Blair, looking at the great building, "The view is fantastic from there - truly magnificent."
Jim didn't really notice when they reached their destination. He was busy looking around. From close up, the castle looked even more magnificent than from the village.
"Come on big guy. I'll show you around tomorrow, in daylight."
Jim didn't protest. He had stopped trying to some time ago. Instead of using the main-entrance Blair led his friend towards a smaller one at the side. Jim was craning his neck to get a better look and trying at the same time to hide it. So he didn't see that they were expected:
Blair called out happily and ran swiftly past Jim who wasn't exactly happy with this. His guide was way too trusting!
"I'm happy to see you, too, Blair. It's been a long time since we met, isn't it?"
"Nearly 13 years…"
The two shared a small, secret smile. Then Dumbledore looked past Blair at Jim.
"And this must be your friend. It's nice to meet you in person after Blair told me so much about you."
Blair had at least the dignity to blush, if only slightly. It seemed as if Jim wasn't the only person happy not needing to hide the hole Sentinel deal.
Jim and Dumbledore shook hands and Jim realized that the man was rather likeable. Kind of a grandfatherly type with an absolutely non-threatening appearance (apart from a really weird fashion-sense). But then, Blair also looked completely harmless (most of the time) and was everything but (And his fashion-sense wasn't much more harmless). And something about Dumbledore just screamed power.
"Blair told me some things about you, too. And only good things…"
Dumbledore and Jim both chuckled at the horrified exclamation. Yes, they would get along all right. It wasn't often that Jim was this trusting and at ease when first meeting somebody. If he had thought about it a little bit he would have most probably grown suspicious, but he didn't have time to brood:
"Come on you two. The other teachers are already waiting to meet you."
Jim and Blair followed Dumbledore into the next room. The loud voices of hundreds youngsters caused Jim to stop dead in his tracks. Absently Blair laid his hand on Jim's back to ground his Sentinel's errant senses. It worked instantly, like always.
Looking around, Jim realized that this had to be the great hall. The first thing he noticed were the floating candles. Hundreds of them, giving the room a warm and gentle light. A nearly invisible glow surrounded the bases, at least Jim thought so.
"Look at the ceiling!" whispered Blair and Jim looked up. Over him he saw the sparkling stars, as if the hall had no roof at all. And again Jim detected the weak golden glow.
"A spell?" Jim asked, whispering towards his guide. Blair smiled proudly.
"Yes. It's absolutely awesome to sit in here when a thunderstorm is raging outside."
Jim smiled at the look on Blair's face. The younger man was lost in some memories. The reverie was cut short by a loud sarcastic voice from behind them:
"Sandburg! I thought you had turned your back to the wizard world for good."
Jim turned around, barely holding back a growl. Instincts to protect his guide were running high again, triggered by the harsh and unfriendly tone. Who was this man anyway? Tall, slim with black, greasy-looking shoulder length hair and equally black eyes with a sarcastic smile on his lips. An instant dislike was forming in Jim's mind. But before he could say anything, Blair stepped past him and replied equally sarcastically:
"Why Snape? Afraid to lose your job?"
Suddenly a smile spread over Snape's face. Not sarcastic, not mocking but a real smile and Jim had the feeling that this was a rare sight.
"As if… It's good to see you well, Blair."
Blair returned the wistful smile and took the hand Snape offered only to pull the startled teacher into a brief hug.
"The same here Severus. Believe me."
Severus Snape blinked then started smiling again and returned the enthusiastic hug carefully.
This was typical Blair. He never even tried to control his feelings and sociable as he was he wouldn't shrink back from hugging an old friend. Nobody else would have dared to do something like this, but Severus didn't care. Even if his reputation as general bad-ass was highly endangered with his younger friend around. Blair was Blair and nobody was likely to be able to change his ways. Sirius had tried after all.
A smiling Snape. A smiling Snape who was hugged and didn't resist. This had to be one of the signs of the approaching apocalypse! At least most of the students thought so, when they saw what was going on at the head-table. Harry, Ron and Hermione for example had a very hard time tearing their eyes away from this particular display.
"That's scary," Ron whispered. Most of his housemates agreed with him. The sympathies for the new teacher were dropping dramatically and some Gryffindors announced that in their opinion anyone who was this friendly with the 'greasy git' could only mean trouble. The coming semester suddenly looked rather glum suddenly.
It was Hermione (who else) who recovered first and in her typical way approached the new situation with what she was best at: logic.
"Okay, let's sum up what we know about this new teacher before we jump to conclusions!"
"But, 'Mione!" Ron protested "Didn't you see the way he greeted the smarmy git? That can't be good!"
Hermione wasn't impressed by her friend's argument.
"He was rather nice to us in the train, wasn't he?"
Ron mumbled something as answer and Hermione was probably lucky she didn't understand one word of it. Harry, who had listened silently until now said thoughtfully:
"It is possible that he knew my dad. Remember that comment about Si, Remus and James trying to talk him out of going to a muggle-university? Could be that he was here together with them. That would explain how he knows Professor Snape."
"But not why he is so chummy with him! I think it is suspicious to be friendly with the greasy bastard…"
Ron's dislike for both Snape and everybody who was even remotely not-hostile towards him, was plain to see for everybody. Hermione on the other hand obviously liked the new teacher and was ready to defend his character:
"Then again, he didn't seem awfully fond of Malfoy, did he? And Hagrid likes him, too, or didn't you see the way they greeted each other?"
"But what does it mean? How can somebody be befriended by Hagrid and at the same time be this nice to Snape?"
Ron spoke the name of his least favorite teacher as if it was something poisonous (like his potions). Hermione looked back towards the teachers' table and thoughtfully said:
"That is something I would like to know, too."
There was no doubt now: Hermione had found her mystery-of-the-year and nothing would stop her from bringing light onto it. Most of all she wanted to know the secret behind James Ellison. Who was he? What was he doing here? What was he? She was sure she would find the answers.
Harry too was curious what this new teacher had to do with his parents and Sirius (the letter his godfather had sent him was still running through his head), but didn't want to think about it too thoroughly at the moment. He was hungry and wished impatiently that the feast would begin. It would be the first time in weeks that he could get some tasty food, since Dudley was still at war with his weight. And since aunt Petunia wouldn't let her sweet-little-Dudderkin be jealous, Harry had to fast as well.
At the end of the holidays Dudley still looked like a small beluga-whale but Harry wasn't idiot enough to point this out. He didn't want Hermione to have to repair his glasses again.
The doors to the great hall opened and Harry curiously observed Professor McGonagall leading the new first-years towards the sorting hat.
Blair was talking like the proverbial waterfall, fully in his element. He was introducing Jim to all teachers and staff-members at the head-table. The black-clad Professor Snape (Potions Master as Jim now knew) had only been the beginning of a rather long list.
For one, there was the practical tiny wizard called Flitwick. Despite his small stature and rather squeaky voice there was something about him that demanded respect. He was clearly happy to see Blair and the two of them talked for a few moments. Afterwards Blair told Jim that Professor Flitwick was the head of his house. Whatever that meant. He was also responsible for teaching charms.
A stern but nevertheless nice looking woman with a white apron was the school nurse Madam Pomfrey. She had immediately asked Jim about any medical problems she should know about. Jim, reluctant to talk about the Sentinel-thing as ever, had been about to answer that there was nothing to worry about, but Blair had been faster. In a quite voice he had told Poppy, which seamed to be her first name, about Jim's worst allergic reactions and that his friend normally reacted rather well to magical potions. Jim was rather irritated about how Blair knew that but really didn't want to think about how exactly his guide had come to this conviction.
The next to be introduced was Professor Sprout, who was in charge of teaching Herbology. She looked like she really loved her field: there were herbs and various berries tucked into her patched hat and belt, her skin was tanned and slightly rough looking, typical for someone who spent much time outside. She smelt like a whole herb-shop, but to his never-ending surprise, Jim didn't feel the need to sneeze. He liked the women with the obviously sunny nature.
Directly next to Professor Sprout was another woman: Madam Hooch, teacher for flying and the usual referee for the school's Quidditch games. Despite her grey hair she looked rather young and seemed to be full of energy. And Jim didn't want to think about why her eyes were yellow and cat-like.
On the other side of the table sat two other female professors: A Professor Sinistra, teaching Astronomy and Professor Vector, responsible for Arithmancy. The teachers at this school gave a complete new meaning to the phrase 'nomen est omen', thought Jim.
Destiny decided at this moment that the Sentinel hadn't been shocked enough for one day: It was time for a further professor to appear. Literally appear out of the wall behind the high-table. The man (?), old, tired and transparent (!) looking, floated (!) up to the other teachers. What was this? Beside him Blair groaned:
"Please, tell me he isn't still teaching!"
"I thought logic was your strong side?" came Snape's slightly sarcastic reply. Jim still didn't like the man.
"Of course he is still teaching. Sadly so. How somebody can be so engrossed in trying to teach these little monsters anything I will never understand. I think by now you could call him a constant at Hogwarts. He already bored generations to tears and from the looks of it will continue for some time. He may know much about history but is completely incompetent in conveying it. But nobody can get him to move on."
A calculating and slightly evil glint came into Blair's eyes suddenly, one that Jim didn't like at all. It reminded him of particularly nasty tests. Snape's only reaction was a scowl.
"Don't do it, Blair. Even if the student-body would be eternally thankful, Dumbledore would probably be a bit miffed if he had to find a new history of magic teacher."
"You're probably right." Blair sounded slightly… disappointed? Noticing the confused look of his Sentinel Blair (finally) explained some things to Jim:
"That is Professor Binns, teacher for History of Magic and like you can easily see, a ghost. Known for his unique ability to put even the most attentive student into coma in mere minutes."
"You, too, I remember." Snape mentioned smirking. Blair glared at him and said:
"I wasn't asleep, I was just…"
Jim tuned his friend out. A ghost… no, he wouldn't think about this until it was completely and absolutely unavoidable. To distract himself from thinking he looked around, instinctively scanning his surroundings for dangers.
Some minutes ago Argus Filch, the school's caretaker had made his appearance and Jim had taken an instant dislike against him. His hair, hanging down to his shoulders, was grimy and a visit to the dentist would have done the man a world of good. His coat was about as clean as his hair, if not worse. Of course, as a caretaker, he would come into contact with grime and dust but he was taking the cliché a little bit far. Besides, this absolutely unpleasant fellow had an equally unpleasant, skeletal looking cat with him. A ragged, red eyed, dust coloured creature that was generally ugly as hell. Jim was normally a cat-person but he wouldn't let this beast near him.
Blair seemed to share Jim's spontaneous dislike, even as he grinned when he saw the cat. Cheerfully he asked Filch how much longer 'Mrs Norris' planned to survive which triggered a flood of more or less understandable curses. Jim was about to step in, but Blair's gentle hand on his shoulder stopped him instantly. The younger man was smiling.
"During our time we tried more than once to remove her from this plane of existence." Snape said sotto voce. Blair laughed silently.
"Sometimes I think you confused the ingredients of that potion we slipped her and gave her eternal life instead of eternal sleep."
"Not likely," answered Snape completely self assured, "that beast is probably some demon possessing a cat's body. But she is rather good at detecting rule-breaking students."
Blair and Professor Snape were still engrossed in their memories when suddenly the door banged open and a slightly confused and dishevelled looking woman stormed in. Her skirts and shawls were billowing and the numerous little chains and beads were clicking together rather loudly. She came to a stop directly in front of Blair who had stood up when she had come banging in. Large eyes fixed on the younger man and she said with a surprisingly loud voice:
"Blair Sandburg, don't you dare come near me! Is that understood? I will keep an eye out for you!"
While speaking, she kept poking her thin index finger against Blair's chest. After having said her bit she turned around, went to the other end of the table (as far away from Blair as possible) and sat down with all dignity she was able to muster.
Blair looked after her with a slightly confused look on his face. Then he turned to Snape.
"Is it my imagination or does Professor Trelawny still not like me?"
"If it's your imagination the whole school shared it just now. She's been acting like this since the headmaster announced you were coming. I think she is still displeased that you were better at divination than she'll ever be. And of course there was some spell or another, wasn't there?"
Blair just grinned and Jim next to him got the impression that his partner hadn't been exactly innocent as a pupil whatever his high marks indicated.
Before either Snape or Blair could say much more about this topic (Professor Trelawny was still glaring at Blair across the table) Professor Dumbledore stood up. The hall fell silent. Then the great doors at the far end of the hall opened and an elderly woman, followed by the first years, who were looking around nervously and awed at the same time, came in.
The group stopped in front of the teachers' table. There, lying on a stool, was a very old looking hat. It was patched very often, frayed, dirty and the original color could only be guessed. Jim started wondering what was going on when the hat suddenly started moving on its own. A rip on the brim opened and the thing started to… sing?
Transfixed Jim listened to the song which explained the history of the four founders and houses of Hogwarts and that the new students were about to be sorted into one of the four houses. The hat had a surprisingly good singing voice.
After the song ended and Professor McGonagall started calling the new students by name to come forth Jim turned towards Blair.
"And which house have you been in?"
Blair got a faraway look in his eyes when he answered:
"Those with wit and love for learning?" quoted Jim a part of the hat's song "Suits you, Chief. Especially after what I heard about you so far."
Blair laughed. Snape turned on his trademark mocking smirk:
"Mind you, your friend sometimes spent more time keeping Black and me from killing each other than anything else."
"You were both my friends. I would have missed either one of you."
Snape snorted but didn't say anything else. Blair turned back to Jim to explain the little interplay:
"You see, there is this long lasting hostility between Gryffindor pupils and those in Slytherin. Now, Severus was a Slytherin student and Sirius a Gryffindor. And they hated each others guts. So I, being somewhat caught in the middle, had to play mediator."
Jim nodded in understanding. That was something he would have expected from Blair. His younger friend would allow no one to choose his friends for him, even if two of his friends were sworn enemies. It could be rather frustrating for the police detective but it was also a characteristic that defined Blair's personality.
In comfortable silence they observed the rest of the sorting. The first-years were divided rather evenly between the four houses. When all students were seated at the long tables and the sorting hat had been put away again, Professor McGonagall stood up and cleared her throat to get everyones attention:
"Before we begin the feast, a few words from our headmaster."
Professor Dumbledore stood from his comfortable lather chair, nodded a thanks towards Professor McGonagall and then turned to the pupils:
"Welcome, my dear pupils, to another year at Hogwarts. I don't want to do a long speech, just a few quick words:
As you undoubtedly already know, our new teacher for Defence Against Dark Arts won't be here for another few weeks. Because of this I would like to introduce, and I'm happy he accepted my invitation, Blair Sandburg, who will fill out the position until the new regular teacher will be able."
A silent murmur went through the room followed by hesitating applause. Not many were as well-read in everything as Hermione but some still recognized the name as one of the best wizards of the decade. But nearly everyone in the hall had noticed the warm greeting between him and Professor Snape. Who could be this friendly with Snape who was feared even by his own house? It would be better to be wary of this man. Better safe than sorry.
Dumbledore spoke on:
"I would also like to welcome another guest at our school: James Ellison. He, too, will stay a few weeks."
Jim nodded as a short greeting then went back to keeping an eye on his surroundings. The pupils didn't know what to think about him anyway. The headmaster, in his typical way, had given absolutely no useful information. So the pupils (with the exception of Hermione) didn't give the tall man, who somehow didn't seem to fit into his robes, much attention. It wasn't the first strange guest they saw here.
"In the end all remains to say, that the school-rules haven't changed since last year. The Forbidden Forest is still named this for the reason that it is forbidden for all students. I think that was all. Let the feast begin!"
The headmaster clapped his hands once and food appeared on the tables. Jim simply refused to be startled by this. He would have enough time to freak out as soon as he was alone.
Blair, very obviously seeing nothing unusually in suddenly appearing food, started to dig in. Jim just shrugged internally and followed his guide's example. The food was simply delicious. So, pushing any lingering doubts about its safety into the back of his mind Jim simply enjoyed the good meal. Not even the noise of the many students was a problem at the moment.
If there just hadn't been this damned tickling across his skin. It had started when he and Blair had went into Diagon Alley and hadn't really stopped until now. If anything it had gotten worse since they entered the castle. It wasn't exactly a bad feeling, more like a small current of static electricity running across his skin. Nothing he couldn't get used to. And of course there was absolutely no reason to tell Blair. Jim was going to deal with it just fine, no reason to involve his (overprotective) guide.
Speaking of him, Blair was busy chatting with Professor McGonagall who was sitting next to him. By now Jim knew (beside that the woman's name was Minerva McGonagall) that she was the deputy headmistress and the teacher for transfigurations. According to her one of the few subjects Blair had his troubles with occasionally.
She was just asking him about his teaching plans for the upcoming weeks and he was telling her that he wouldn't do anything permanently harmful. She was actually looking reassured at this comment.
"I really wish you would take the position permanently, Blair." McGonagall said with a small sigh, "With you I at least know for sure, that the children are learning something useful."
"You don't sound very confident about the new teacher."
"I don't know him. Do you know that he will be the fourth teacher in as many years? Counting you it will be the fifth. One turned out to be an active follower of You-know-who…"
At this point Jim considered seriously to say, no, he-did-not-know-who-everyone-was-talking-about! But he kept silent. Another thing he had to ask Blair about.
"… The second was a self-loving egomaniac idiot who more than once endangered our students. Remus Lupin, last year, would have been ideal, but the ministry in its infinite wisdom decided that he couldn't be trusted around children. With you I know that you have the passion and ability to teach and furthermore enough ability and knowledge in the subject to do it right."
She had a rather determined expression on her face and a sinking feeling started to gather in Jim's stomach. If he understood this right all Blair had to do was ask and he would have a teaching position here. In England. Very far away from Jim and the whole Sentinel-stuff.
Blair was smiling wistfully at the Professor's speech, even if his cheeks had become a bit red at her compliments.
"Thank you. But I have my life in America. My dream and duty lies there, how much I love teaching besides."
She accepted his explanation without another word and Jim felt inexplicably relived at his partner's words.
Finally the feast was drawing to an end. The students left the great hall with the first years led by older students. The teachers also started to leave the hall.
"Come on. I'm going to show you your rooms!"
It was Professor Snape who had spoken and Jim had to suppress the urge to glare. He really should get over his mistrust for this man. Blair on the other hand either didn't notice Jim's feelings towards his old friend, or he had chosen to ignore it. He was just smiling at Snape.
The Potion Master led the guests through the many corridors of Hogwarts. In Jim's opinion it was a labyrinth. Then they came to the stairwells. The moving stairwells. Which were changing directions while you were on them. How the hell did anybody find his way around here?
"How do you manage to not get lost around here, Chief? Your sense of orientation isn't this good."
Blair muttered something that sounded like you get lost just once then answered louder with a mischievous glint in his eyes:
"You know, it isn't so hard. And at home the stairs never cooperate."
Jim choose not to answer that. He was too busy staring at the hundreds of portraits at the walls. The figures inside the portraits were moving. By now Jim had decided to ignore everything weird and freak out as soon as they were back in Cascade. Until then he also could ignore Blair flirting with some of the female portraits. Really, he could.
They finally found themselves in another corridor and came to a halt in front of a statue.
"Honey Cakes" Snape said in a disgusted sounding voice and suddenly the statue moved to the side giving the view to a door free. Blair looked at Snape with raised eyebrows.
"Don't look at me! Dumbledore choose the password. He also put a special spell on the room." Snape explained to Jim, "As long as you aren't purposefully listening, you won't hear anything outside these quarters."
"I think we have to thank him for that later on." Blair answered and pulled Jim through the door. After a brief exchange Snape said goodbye and made his way to his own quarters. The door closed behind him.
Blair let himself fall into a comfortable looking armchair while Jim went to inspect their quarters.
There were three rooms: two rather comfy bedrooms complete with large four-poster beds. On the floors were thick, fluffy carpets. A door led to a small bathroom. Between the two bedrooms was another big room. Opposite the door was an archaic looking fireplace flanked by two high windows. On the walls were shelves full of books and little gadgets Jim didn't know the use for. It looked like the typical apartment you would expect in a medieval castle. With little additions. Rather homey.
"Everything to your liking?" Blair asked grinning. Jim glared at his friend without really meaning it. Before he could comment Blair got a serious expression on his face:
"Okay, I think we need to lay a few ground-rules: You already have seen that it isn't exactly easy to orient yourself inside the castle. And some places aren't exactly safe either. So you better not go running around the castle without me, or go out to the forest without me… come to think of it, go nowhere without me."
Jim was slightly miffed at this words, they reminded him too much of his own steady stay in the truck comments. Blair was getting his revenge.
After a long talk about the general dangers of Hogwarts (ghosts, monsters, secret rooms that changed locations, Hagrid's pets, Mrs. Norris and the students various pranks) Jim decided to go to sleep. He needed it. Their luggage really had made its way into the rooms. Jim was very happy to change out of the robes and into some normal clothing.
Lying down onto the bed Jim tried to remember everything that happened today. After a few minutes of thinking he decided somewhat relived that it couldn't get any weirder.
If he had only known.
Deep underneath the castle, in forgotten and hidden dungeons and passageways, something woke. And it wasn't happy about it.
On to the next part.
Comments, criticism, suggestions? Please e-mail the authors.
Back to Meanthis and Lime-chan's page.