Disclaimer: As always, not ours! What a surprise by now ^^
Lime-chan: Hello everyone! We're back!
Duo: Chaaaarge!!! (aiming a VERY large knife at Lime-chan)
Lime-chan: AAH! Relena! Over there!
(Duo spins around, looking out for the evil in person. The distraction is very useful. Jim stalks up, takes the weapon out of his hands and glares.)
Jim: Don't you dare! I still need her to get me out of this damned castle!
Lime-chan: *sweatdrops* Duh, thank you. How nice to think of that. I'll remember for the next part…
Heero: Hn. (transl: And then people keep saying I'm the silent one here.)
Meanthis: But you are, sugar!
Heero: *deathglare (TM)* Hn. (transl: Call me that one more time and you're gonna regret it. Severely.)
Loki: Oh! Trouble again! Give me the popcorn!
Lime-chan: *sighs* We're out of it. You guys ate too much. And several people from the audience wanted some by review, too. (Does that mean they liked the babbling?)
Meanthis: And since we're not making any money with fanfics… and watching Duo on a sugar high… we decided to better NOT buy some more.
Lime-chan: What are you doing here anyway? I chased poor Thothie out of the sketchbook ages ago!
Duo: Yeah, that was *before* he decided to court in your songbook. Which happens to be placed *next to* our sketchbook. Do you have any idea how loud he can scream "I am a god! Worship! Kneel!" I can't take it anymore! I swear, one more time and I'll get 'Scythe and…
Meanthis: You should make the books soundproof, you know? Thoth can get a bit annoying…
Heero: And Quatre's had nightmares since ever. He keeps getting emotions from our baka Wannabe-god!
Lime-chan: So, thought-proof it is, too. Therefore, on with the fic, I need some time to fix it!
A Sentinel at Hogwarts
Part VI: The Spirits You Have Summoned...
by Meanthis and Lime-chan
"ARGH! Harry! Ron! Wait for me!"
Hermione did not like it at all but she nevertheless followed her two friends. Who knew what they could get themselves into? And no, it wasn't enough to break a direct order from their teacher, they just *had* to go inevitably confronting Malfoy, too. What great foresight.
Silently mumbling about the idiocy and recklessness of her two friends, Hermione spurted after them. It was quite a way down to the greenhouses and the guys had had a good head start. No wonder she started to pant from running.
Oh, those two were so immature! As soon as any kind of trouble showed on the horizon you could bet that those two would end up right in the middle of it. And whenever something like that occurred detentions would be following straight behind. She had to try and stop the boys before things got out of control, didn't she? The fact that she was curious herself did not matter a single bit. Right. She had to stop them from losing housepoints. Or getting detentions. Or getting themselves into the usual life-threatening trouble. And of course from Malfoy dumbness, probably. Who knew what that blonde twit was planning!
Sir Douringston was a little annoyed when he noticed the red haired boy running through his corridor. Wasn't he supposed to be in class right now? And what about the 'Do not run in the corridors' rule of Filch's? In fact, no one listened to the old fart, but a rule was still a rule and not to be broken on every occasion.
"Calm down, young one!" he shouted after the boy. His words remained unheard.
The knight shrugged his shoulders and yawned. He liked the peaceful location of his picture. It was a quiet, seldom-used corridor and no one was going to disturb his meditation now that the boy was gone. He went on with what the friendly shaolin monk in the corridor above had taught him.
Ooo~mmm. OoooOOOooo~mmm. Oooo...
He blinked. Running. AGAIN.
He was just about to open his mouth and curse the intruder when a professor rushed past in high-speed-mode in the other direction.
Sir Douringston raised an eyebrow. Maybe an accident? He cast a look around. Nothing else to be seen. He sighed. Even so, it wasn't anything he wanted to know about. He'd retired from his guardian duty a long, long time ago. Too much stress. After over 100 years one would think he deserved his quiet retirement.
But did he get it? No. Perhaps he should just ask somebody to put his portrait into the storage-attic? He should be able to get some peace and quiet there. But with his luck the newest evil would like attics.
His poor, overtaxed nerves were also the reason why he had made himself learn meditation this summer in the first place; it hopefully would give them a break.
After three years full of evil snakes, ugly three-headed dogs, giant basilisks, a werewolf on the loose, dementors, escaped murderers and possessed teachers he had been facing a complete breakdown because of course, all those things had to happen somewhere in the proxymity of his frame!
He hadn't relocated his portrait five times in the last three years without reason. He needed to relax some. Peace, quiet, no monster or some such emergency in sight…
Ooo~mmm. OoooOOOooo~mmm. Oo...
Sir Douringston twitched and opened his eyes just in time to see a very flattened Malfoy bumped into the wall by a lot larger and heavier Goyle. Obviously the goon had slipped when he tried to round the corner too fast. The knight grinned. THAT was why you were not supposed to run in the corridors!
"Idiot! Down! Get off me!" Malfoy screamed furiously. Crabbe had stopped as well, looking sheepishly at his 'chef' and companion. The three of them did not seem to be the smartest trio around.
After half a minute they had finally managed to disentangle their limbs and went on with the run.
"Come on! Quick, or we might miss in what kind of trouble these idiot Weasly Gryffindorks have gotten themselves into now!"
Sir Douringston glared after them somewhat disgusted and made a mental note to inform the professor from before about the three Slytherins. Being a proud former Gryffindor himself he couldn't accept any slurs against his former house. Gryffindors had to stick together, after all!
But first a bit of relaxion:... Ooo...
Whoosh. A somewhat familiar dark haired boy. Whiiish. A redhead just like the one before.
"HAAARRY! …pant…pant…gasp… ROOON! …gasp… WAAAIIIT!!!"
A girl trying desperately to catch up with the other two.
The knight growled. So much for his peaceful place. He would ask Filch about a possible relocation first thing in the morning. Was a bit of peace and quiet too much to ask for?
As fast as he could Blair rushed through the corridors leading to his destination. Despite having been absent from Hogwarts for so many years he could still remember his way without the slightest problem.
What had happened?
He gritted his teeth. It probably hadn't been such a good idea to leave Jim alone in these unfamiliar surroundings after all. It was plain that it had been too much input to handle at once for his Sentinel.
I should have taken him to the lessons! I can't protect Jim if I'm not close enough… wait a minute!
He stumbled and stopped at this unexpected thought. He nearly stopped dead in his tracks. Where the heck had that come from? Since when did he have to protect Jim? Shouldn't he be capable of exploring an unknown territory by himself? He was a detective (in one of the most dangerous cities of America) after all! Mr. Hard-ass cop! It was part of his job! Stuff like being able to go into new, unknown situations alone. (Or so Jim liked to emphasize every time Blair refused to stay in the truck.)
Blair shook his head and resumed his running. There would be time enough to think about this - later. First he had to see to his friend.
Finally he reached the great staircase. Light feet landed on the upper part of the stairs. Looking down, Blair could see his way blocked by a missing stair. Desperate to get to Jim he reached out with his mind and whispered a silent plea:
Come on, move!
And the stairs did what he wanted, as they had always complied since he had found out how to reach them. His mad run continued down to the ground floor unhindered. It was at moments like this he hated the fact of not being able to apparate within Hogwarts' secure walls. Of course he could cross the distance faster than anyone else in this school since he knew all the nifty short-cuts (after all, it wasn't as if he had been totally uninvolved in the making of that certain magical map. At least he had borrowed that thing often enough) but it was still a damn long way to the gardens.
Which idiot had decided that the DADA room had to be on the fourth floor this year, anyway? After all, it had been perfectly fine with Blair to have the lessons down in the dungeons when he himself had been younger.
Blair stopped shortly to catch his breath. Despite having to chase some criminal (or Jim who was chasing the criminal) on a semi-regular basis he just wasn't used to running in long and heavy robes. Screw it.
Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle reached the stairwells just in time to see Professor Sandburg leaving the hall on the ground floor. It was just too bad the stairs had moved. Now where they were standing was a dead end.
"Stupid stairs! Come over here! NOW!" Malfoy screeched angrily.
The stairs did not move so much as a single inch.
"What are we going to do now?" Goyle asked, eyeing the distance to the next stair thoughtfully.
"Jump down, idiot." Malfoy growled, sarcasm dripping from every syllable "You're too stupid to break anything, anyway! Come on, there's the other way down in the west wing."
Crabbe made a face.
"But… that's one of the unused sections. It's dirty and haunted and dangerous! And there are cobwebs everywhere!"
Draco took a deep breath and released it slowly in an attempt to keep himself from strangling his henchman. Good henchmen were bloody hard to find these days. And as dumb as Crabbe was, he had a point. Everyone knew that traversing an abandoned part of the school building could get rather nasty. After all, the tales of Hagrid's pet dog Fluffy were still pretty much famous among the students…
Rushing steps behind them led Draco to a quick decision.
"Hurry up already! We don't want to miss the show, now do we?"
"Harry! Ron! Wait up, damnit!"
Hermione was actually glad for the missing stairs. It gave her a chance to finally catch up to her friends.
"What do you think you're doing? We should head back to the class-room right now before somebody sees us!! Professor Sandburg said…"
"Hermione will you please shut up!" Ron snapped, interrupting Hermione's perfectly good rant. "Nobody asked you to follow us! Right, Harry?"
Harry didn't listen. His eyes darted back and forth between the stairs and the ground which was a looong way down. Fourth floor. No stairs. No other way… other than the direct one.
"Hermione, do you remember Flitwick telling us about levitating yourself?"
Hermione's mouth twitched as her eyes followed the same path. Harry couldn't possibly mean…
"Harry! You're nuts. That's stuff for seventh years! I say it again, let's just go back and let Malfoy get in trouble alone for once!"
Harry didn't look too happy at the prospect of missing what was going on. On the other hand, Hermione was kinda right. Like most of the time.
She glared at him, her hands at her hips. Something inside Harry bristled at this. Why was she thinking she could just order him around?
"Err, guys? The stairs just moved…"
Ron was all too happy disturbing their private rant. Even if it was normally himself and Hermione who got into these kind of arguments, Harry and Hermione could go on hours like that and never saying more than two words.
"Come on. I want to know what happened!"
The three of them - Hermione still unwilling, but she couldn't let her friends face the professor's wrath alone either, right? - descended the stairs as fast as possible. Luckily none of the lower steps opposed their intention. They turned right, sneaked around the corner and followed Harry to a smaller alcove with heavy curtains inside. There was a short-cut behind they had often used before (how else were you supposed to be in Professor Sprouts lesson after double-potions in time?) Just patting the head of a small gargoyle on the side was enough. A soft creak and the stonewall slid aside.
"Lumos!" Harry said automatically, accustomed to the darkness behind.
It wasn't necessary at all, he noticed a moment later. The normally pitch-black passage was brightly illuminated by large magical bubbles floating above them. They radiated light beams in different colours, slightly bobbing up and down on the ceiling not unlike oversized illuminated soap bubbles. Hermione stared.
"What's… that?" Ron stuttered with a mix of awe and fear.
"That's … Those are light capturers! How neat! I bet Professor Sandburg knows this way as well…"
They followed the path, led by the colourful bubbles to another door hidden well from the outside behind a statue of some old wizard. They stepped out, the door closing silently behind them. Now it was just around the next corner…
Albus Dumbledore sighed. Once. Twice. The single twin - Fred Weasley - swallowed. This was definitely not a good sign. He still didn't really comprehend what had happened, besides the headmaster and his guest walking around the corner just the very moment they had let loose their 'Lightning ragers', the newest invention of the Weasley-house of mischief. Their sudden audience had been an unpleasant surprise for both parties. Ellison had winced, shielding his eyes from the light… and then nothing. He had stopped dead in his tracks. Which had made the Professor really mad. The Weasley twins couldn't evade an angry triade about what one should and should not do in the corridors and that they would have to expect detention from their head of the house. After he had taken care of their guest, that was.
Fred felt pretty much alone. The 'ragers' now of course rested innocently in a bag of Dumbledores robes. He was actually sorry for their action, even if they couldn't have known that this corridor would be used, after all.
His gaze slowly wandered over to the pale and motionless figure of Mr. Ellison. If it wasn't for the regular rising and sinking of his chest, he could have been as well dead. They had tried several things to make him react, but the tall stranger wouldn't so much as blink at them. Dumbledore had finally sent George out for Professor Sandburg - fast, please! - and had settled the man carefully down on a quickly summoned sofa. Now they had to wait.
We are soo doomed… I'm glad we didn't try out the new Buzzers, that would have been way worse. They're pretty mixed up with explosives.
Fred tried to keep his mind busy. Everything was better than thinking about what Dumbledore and McGonnagall would pull out of their hats concerning the promised detentions.
Light and fast footsteps disturbed his train of thoughts; he raised his head in time to see an outworn Professor Sandburg stumble around the corner, breathing hard.
Gathering his strength and trying to get his breath back, Blair's glance barely touched the twin before locking eyes with Dumbledore. The headmaster had risen from his temporarily seat and stood calm and awaiting for the much younger man.
"Professor? What happened?" Blair asked while walking over to his oblivious friend.
"I think your friend was caught, uhm, off-guard. Unfortunately we walked into some kind of flashy joke… and he didn't like it at all, it seems."
Blair's eyebrow shot upwards questioning while he already knelt down next to his partner. A touch was everything it needed to fill him in.
Wow. That's one deep zone!
"Come on, buddy, don't lose it. We need you here, you know? Hey Jim…"
Keeping his voice on a low level he carefully soothed the Sentinel's overstretched senses. His hands slowly massaged Jim's back, instinctively following a path known so well from experience.
Nevertheless it still felt eerie.
His soft mutter continuing he slowly reached out with his own mind. Getting through to Jim was never exactly easy but today his friend seemed to have himself shut down a lot more than he used to do. Blair felt concern and fear rising inside him but pushed it away determinedly. He would deal with his disturbing emotions later. The last thing Jim needed now was a guide not doing his job.
Calm. Safety. Freedom. Friendship. Love.
That was what it took to lure a Sentinel out of his own mind. Positive emotions and especially the reassurance from his guide that it was safe, attracted him like a moth to the flame, Blair knew. He had used the knowledge to help Jim countless times before. He just needed to project them to the cop, gently pushing into his mind.
But still… today, it was different. Blair felt like he was digging around in a pool of darkness.
Jim? Where are you? Hello? Jim!
His breath turned a bit rougher. What the heck? Okay, maybe Jim was a bit out of his normal parameters, he had to deal with severe new input, but this? This seemed a bit over the top.
Blair concentrated. He had never gone into another's mind this far before. He wouldn't even have known he actually did it, if it wasn't for the single fact that he had done some research about shaman's abilities long, long ago. Part of the puzzle had solved itself then. There was a reason why he could reach Jim where no one else could, why he would find his friend even in the deepest darkness of his heart.
And a shaman he was.
A shaman able to walk along the thin line of this and the other world, between reality and mind, his own sphere and of others unseen to the normal eye. And whenever he touched Jim, he locked their minds loosely together, weaving a bond between them that made both of them stronger. It was not only natural for the shaman but also necessary for Guide and Sentinel. Not that he planned to tell Jim any time soon. His blessed protector would probably kick his behind with joy.
Holding this knowledge in the back of his mind, Blair decided to go a step further. He thought about the books he had read. He would not get lost. He could not get lost, if he believed in his own strength, it was said. A shaman would always find his way. And hadn't Incacha blessed him? Laid the Sentinel's destiny in his very own hands?
Stay calm. Jim loves calm. There's a beautiful island in my mind, as safe as nothing else around here… come on Jim. I know you love it…
Blair searched for the familiar presence around him. He felt like throwing out a pintle, his bait pure, swirling emotions. He always did, not so strong, not so noticeably as now, but he used the same tactic.
A soft tingle in the back of his head made him smile.
There you are!
And with long practiced ease and a whole lot of relief he pulled the tormented soul of his friend back to the surface of his mind.
Jim blinked confused.
"Blair?" he whispered.
"Yeah. How do you feel, pard?"
The Sentinel raised his head carefully, taking in his surroundings: Concerned looks on three faces. The corridor they had just entered. The sofa he was lying on. Oh. OH!
Must've been a zone.
"Uhh… I'm fine… I think. Despite the fuzzy train running around in my head."
"Man, don't you go that far ever again. Took me ages to bring you back," he whispered, noticeably relieved.
Jim moved to stand up. Tried to ignore his wobbling legs. He felt exhausted but couldn't figure out the reason. It also didn't help that the fine gleam of magic seemed to fill the corridor. He remembered the full-intensity light that had caught him unguarded.
How foolish! He shouldn't have let his defenses down without his Guide somewhere near him. But the foreign surroundings were pulling at him, tempting him to stretch out his senses to trace any sign of danger around him. He needed to know if his Guide would be safe in these walls, needed to know it for himself, despite Blair promising. He wouldn't feel comfortable any other way.
"What happened anyway? Where did those damn bright flashy-thingies come from?"
Dumbledore cleared his throat and looked expectantly at the red-haired boy beside him. The student flinched and blushed but started to mutter:
"That would be our fault. Didn't know someone would use this corridor. That anyone would react that bad either… It was supposed to be a test for a joke… 'M sorry, really."
Jim raised an eyebrow. The boy looked miserable enough already, no need to push him down further. Besides, Professor Dumbledore looked more than competent enough to lecture him. Carefully Jim stretched his senses out once more. After a zone they always were kind of muted, dialled down slightly below normal to ease his comeback to the world. He concentrated on Blair, his heartbeat a welcome sound within all those strange whispers and summing around him.
And he smiled.
"Chief? We've got visitors." He winked, nodding his head in the direction of the corner.
"You three mind coming out?"
Ron, Hermione and Harry froze in place when the soft voice of their teacher rounded the corner, followed by his head. Blair grinned.
"Didn't I tell everyone to stay in class? Looks like you are way too inquisitive, hm?"
"Um, Sir, we…" Hermione began, glaring daggers at the boys.
Thanks a lot. Now he's got us. And I'm stuck with you!
It would have been so easy to leave them, a little voice in her head piped up. Partly it's your own fault. Curiosity killed that cat, they say…
Behind Blair, Dumbledore, Ellison and Fred Weasley now approached.
"Figures. Nothing but trouble with my bro." Fred remarked snickering.
"Look who's talking, idiot!" Ron shot back.
"Sir, we just wanted…" Hermione started again.
"… To see if everything is alright, yeah. Still leaving the class when I explicitly told everyone not to, is not an option. You should have stayed put and waited for me. We'll talk later." Blair said, fixing each of his errant pupils with a look that held a patented mix of strictness and disappointment. Sighing, he turned to Jim:
"You're sure you're fine?"
Jim nodded. Blair managed a wry smile.
"Then I'll better go back to my class before anyone of them tears down something valuable." He flashed Dumbledore a grin. "It hasn't gotten any easier to have Slytherins and Gryffindors in the same room after all, has it? Jim, you can proceed your tour if you want, just make sure to… don't let it happen again, if possible."
Interesting. Blair Sandburg hadn't finished his sentence. Instead, he had stretched his fingers out, Hermione observed. And the tall man seemed to understand in an instant, nodding at him. So this had happened before. They knew how to act around each other. And the last words had sounded earnest, not a hint of the mischief the Professor seemed to always carry in his voice.
Hermione tried to sum up what they had observed earlier by carefully peeking around the corner. She had seen Ellison lying on a sofa, completely spaced out. Watching as the Professor had put his hands on him and whispered words she had not heard. She had seen his concentrated frown. Long moments had passed until the other man had moved. Finally.
So, what was up with the guy? There had to be something!
Following their teacher back - who already lectured Ron and Harry that no, they were indeed not to disobey his orders, however brave their motives might be and they had gotten themselves into enough trouble already, after all - she let her sharp mind work.
She remembered the pale face of Professor Sandburg when George had told him about Ellison.
Those two care about each other a lot?!
Hermione shook her head. It wouldn't leave her alone. She just knew there was something bubbling under this innocent surface. She would have to go through her books. Again.
Luckily the classroom was still in one piece as Blair entered, closely followed by three miserable looking Gryffindors.
He quickly cast a look around, finally allowing George Weasley to leave.
The Slytherins were somewhat torn between triumph and defeat. Of course, watching Ron, Harry and Hermione taking their seats silently and quickly was something worth laughing. If it wasn't for the fact…
Blair looked around, counting again.
"Someone mind telling me where the students Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle are?" he finally questioned.
That was when the Gryffindors looked very, very smug.
"Don't you think we've been here before?" Goyle asked quietly.
It was dark in the corridor. And they were lost.
Finding out that their glorious shortcut had been a cul-de-sac because of a broken down part of the ceiling they had been forced to turn around. And somewhere they had missed the right corridor.
"If these are our footprints, you're not as dumb as you look, goof." Draco sneered.
Indeed the floor was covered with dusty footprints. Their own ones. They had walked in a circle. Damn. Crabbe sighed uncomfortably.
"We're not. We just missed the right exit." Draco scolded. "Though we better head back. Won't be good if we're not in the class when dumb mudblood returns."
"And where to?" Crabbe turned around, watching the shadows dance away from his lit wand.
"It can't be too difficult to find the way back. We'll just follow our own prints!" Malfoy said thoughtfully. Was basic intelligence too much to ask for in his henchmen?
Goyle stalked off, following his prints.
"Not this way, idiot!"
Malfoy sighed. Give the guy some credit and he'd disappoint you. Goyle was stupid. There was no other way to describe it. Who else would follow the direction the prints were heading for?
Casting the Lumos spell anew from time to time, the small party searched for their own trail. And came finally to a halt in the darkness, facing a crossroad. Three corridors parted before them, each one was cold and worn, having not been used for decades it seemed. Lose bricks had fallen from the once beautiful painted ceiling. Shadows seemed to jump out of each corner, lurking behind every statute they passed. Malfoy would never admit being scared but he closed in remarkably on his goons. Step by step they had gone back on their trail… up to here. The ground was blank.
"Where's the dust? That's not the way we came in!" Crabbe whined.
"Don't you feel it? It's windy." Draco answered flatly, determined not to let his fear show in his voice.
"The air must've blown it off."
Dracos mind blanked. It was dark, scary and he was lost with brain-dead people for crying out loud! How was he supposed to get back safe?
"F***! Stupid mudblood! Why me? Stinking Potter's got the show all alone, I bet! I want out! Those filthy idiots! ARGH!!!"
Angrily, he kicked full force at a rusty armour. The metal screeched, collapsing… and started plunging down a smaller stairwell that had been hidden behind it.
CRAAAASH……!!! RATTLE!!! Clirr!!! WHAM!!! BOOOOM……!!! CRAAASHH…!!!
The noise thundered loudly through the corridors, echoing back and forth. The boys simultaneously covered their ears. It seemed to last ages.
Then it was quiet. They looked at each other. Malfoy grinned, lifting his wand.
"At least we found the stairs!"
It shrieked at the unbearable row. Who dared…? It felt rage coming up inside. Whoever was responsible for all the noise, he would pay for it! No one would go unpunished for disturbing its sleep! Absolutely NO one.
It searched for the source of that hideous clamour. Found it. And followed.
To be continued…
Lime-chan: *munching peanuts* Yepp, mischief managed. Now I can bug Mea about Werewolf in Cascade more efficiently…
Meanthis: As if. I'm busy with Stargate-stuff, remember? Stuff you want to read!
Lime-chan: *sweatdrops* That's true, I admit.
Loki: 'Lo you two. What's up?
Lime-chan: Nothing. I solved the prob, remember? Now everyone can stay at their sketchbook without having to deal with annoying neighbours. Wait. What are you still doing here?
Loki (makes a sour face): Running from that baka onna Relena. She tried to *grope* me!
Lime-chan: *drools at the small god* Kinda understandable… if one knows how to make you older…
Loki: *deadpans* That's another point entirely. She just wants to kiss me and to hug me and to dress me in PINK! *ewww*
Lime-chan: *snickers* Ever tried to introduce her to Heimdall-san?
Loki: I'll… think about that. *goes off the stage*
Meanthis: Lime, you're cruel, you know? Poor Kazumi-kun!
Lime-chan: *grins* I'd rather pity Relena…
So, let's end the thought here, before it goes awkward. If anyone wants to know what we are up to if not actually writing fanfics, or if you are searching for random insanity, outtakes, snippets, drabbles or missing scenes, we can be found now at http://www.livejournal.com/~meanthis and http://www.livejournal.com/~rena_limelime. We're looking forward to your visit! Leave comments, will ya?
Mea&Lime chorusing: Bye-bye!!!
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