Chapter 2: The Tree House
A cool wind gently blew as the two elder boys stared upwards at this tree house.
Jack and Annie both fidgeted as Harry and Stephen gazed at the tree house.
It was square in shape, with the four corners seeming to be made out of four of the largest vertical branches that seemed to be trimmed down to points. Wood planks made up the floor and the back and the left-hand side facing it were solid. The front and right had a horizontal board on the bottom each making a window with the slanted red shingled roof which was topped off with a yellow bird sitting on top.
Harry looked at Stephen and Stephen looked back at him.
"This wasn't here before we left for Scotland," Harry said.
"And building something like this around here in the winter time would be impossible and it doesn't look newly built," Stephen replied, "Jack, when did you find this and does anyone else know about it?"
"Annie and I found it a week ago, it hadn't been here the day before, no one else seems to know about it, and….," Jack began then trailed off as he saw movement inside.
"And what?" Harry asked.
"We think it's magical," said Annie.
"Magical?!" shouted the elder boys.
There was a flash of movement from inside.
"We're coming, Peanuts!" shouted Annie, who then began to climb up the rope ladder that was hanging down.
Stephen and Harry both shared a glance as Jack began to climb, shouting to Annie to, "Let's make sure we introduce them to Peanuts first before you make any wishes, Annie!"
Both boys decided at that moment to start climbing, first Stephen and then Harry.
As they reached the top of the ladder and moved away from the hole in the floor, Stephen and Harry looked around in astonishment.
The tree house was filled with books. Books of all kinds. Some were on shelves, others stacked neatly on the floor; they were everywhere.
"Goodness," Harry breathed. "Dude," Stephen said, "We can never, ever, tell Hermione about this, even upon pain of death."
Harry looked at his friend, and nodded, gulping at the same time. He was picturing that scene and it wasn't pretty. There was no way he was going to start that rant or begging.
"Peanuts, where are you?" Annie asked. Stephen and Harry looked around, kneeling down next to a book that Jack had taken out of his pack.
"What's this Jack?" asked Harry, curious why his eight-year old friend would be carrying around such a large book.
Stephen picked up the book slowly, and read the cover, "Medal Book," Harry sucked in a shocked breath as Stephen continued, "Morgan le Fay." Stephen looked up.
Something squeaked nearby.
"Peanuts!" Annie cried, scooping something up into her hands and rushing over to show Harry. Harry looked over as Stephen gently put the book down and sank deep into his inner thoughts.
"Who's this?" queried Harry, as he looked down at the brown and white quivering shape in Annie's hands.
"It's Peanuts," she said. Harry looked closer as the creature uncurled itself from being balled up and being picked up so quickly.
It was a mouse. It was brown on the back and down the sides and white on the underbelly. It also had reddish-black eyes that seemed oddly, quite intelligent. It also, oddly enough, had a bang of grey hair that went upwards a little bit, then was bent at an angle so it ended with the ends of the hair to the left side of its face. Curiously, it then stood up on its hind feet.
Harry then decided at Annie's prompting, to introduce himself. He sat down to get onto the mouse's level, and looked straight at the mouse and said, "Hello there, Peanuts, I'm Harry Potter, but you can just think of me as Harry."
The mouse seemed to almost smile kindly and seemed to squeak a greeting, and then hopped onto Harry's extended hand.
Harry then stood up, Annie following, and gently holding the mouse took the few steps to Stephen and knelt down.
"Stephen," he said, "Are you alright?"
Jack was looking at Stephen nervously, who slowly opened his eyes and took a deep breath and let it out.
"I'm," he said, gathering his thoughts, "alright, Harry. This book has just given me a conundrum though."
Annie asked her brother, "What's a conundrum, Jack?"
"A puzzle," he replied, "A really difficult mental puzzle."
Stephen continued, "Morgan le Fay, why does that name sound so familiar to me. It's like I knew personally who this person was and not just as a name from legend. I can't place it in my memory. Nothing in my memory banks, provides a clue."
His iridescent electric blue eyes, which always seemed to contain lightning, dimmed to a very dull blue and the electricity in them seemed to die off. His right hand reached up to grab ahold of the chain that was around his neck and pulling it up, rubbed his thumb across the gold ring's top, where an amethyst was placed with a golden bird that appeared to be a raven underneath.
Stephen looked over at the mouse, however, his eyes were shut as he tried to prevent himself from crying.
Harry gently moved his hand near Stephen's so that Peanuts could hop across. "Hello there, little one," Stephen said with a small smile, his eye still closed to prevent tears from falling.
"My name is Stephen," then his strength seemed to fail him and he looked away, placed the mouse on the floor, took a deep breath and said, "Of no particular family name."
The mouse's eyes seemed to grow sad as the young and troubled boy tucked away the ring next to the only other thing that was on that chain, a pendant that had the letters JW in blue.
It was made of metal, nothing that seemed valuable, but as Harry and Stephen knew, the most ordinary of things could often be the most extraordinary.
Peanuts darted quickly towards the troubled boy as everyone in the tree house seemed to grow still and she placed a tiny front paw on Stephen's hand as if to comfort him.
"Sorry guys," Stephen said, "I guess I still am a little emotional right now." He took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out slowly.
Harry took the opportunity to ask Jack and Annie as Peanuts tried to open the cover of the medal book, "Ok, so what is so important about this tome that you two are carrying it with you everywhere? Hmm?"
Jack reached over and picking the mouse up with the medal book, sat back and opened the cover, saying, "We've found the first three medallions already, we were thinking about going and trying to find the fourth today, if you and Stephen are up to it."
Annie looked at Harry with wide, quivering eyes as Stephen stepped over.
"May I?" he asked as he pointed to the book.
Harry made a comment then, "It's like the Silmarils from The Lord of The Rings, Stephen." Stephen shook his head and laughed, something the other three hadn't heard in a long time. It was almost musical, like church bells ringing on Christmas day.
The mouse seemed to stiffen unnoticed, then shook its tiny head.
Stephen remarked, "No, Harry, the Silmarils were three impossibly beautiful jewels that were lost and not to be found until the end times in that story. We're dealing with four medallions, while they may be gold, they are not impossibly beautiful, unless you happen to be a pirate. Now, what does this book say?"
Jack answered him, "It's completely blank, except for the inside of the front cover."
"What does it say inside, Jack," Harry asked as Peanuts started squeaking a lot in excitement.
Jack gave Harry the book and Harry began reading, "Four medallions shall bring about a miracle. The first lies in the land of dragon-like beasts. In a grassy field where lives the strongest on earth. The second medallion is within a large stone building on one with an iron attire on his head. The third medallion lies within the boot empire on the summit of a path in which water runs. The last medallion lies within an island where treasure sleeps, within the chest of the one-eyed man." Harry finished reading and closed the book while Stephen stood up and started pacing rapidly.
Jack knew that the rapid-fire questioning would begin very soon.
"Ok, the dragon-like beasts, that sounds like dinosaurs, and most people believe that the T-rex was the strongest on earth. So, the first one was in Cretaceous North America, am I correct, Jack?"
"Yes," Jack said.
Harry started pacing as well, "And the large stone building with one with an iron attire on his head, that's an easy one," Harry remarked, "Considering where I went to school for the past year it's too easy. The large stone building is a castle and the one with an iron attire on his head is a suit of plate armor for a knight."
Annie chimed in, "Yeah! And we met someone there as well!" "Who did you meet?!" Stephen's head snapped towards the younger children, he seemed frightened, "Jack, who did you and Annie meet?"
Jack gulped, knowing that Stephen, while he was extremely kind, could be strict on rules that had been set, and physics wise, changing anything in the past was a big do not do ever.
"A woman," Jack answered. Stephen and Harry both stopped their pacing, "A woman," they both said.
"What was her name, Jack?" Harry asked after elbowing Stephen in the side.
"She said her name was Morgan, Harry," Annie answered this one.
Stephen having calmed down, queried, "Morgan, as perhaps as in Morgan le Fay? The person whose name I recognize for some unknown reason?"
Stephen's eyes softened, "My apologies, Jack, Annie. I was frightened. That name seemed to strike something in me that I do not recognize and I was terrified."
Jack and Annie both stopped shaking, and hugged the elder boys, now knowing that they only spoke like that because they were frightened for their younger friends.
"Alright," Stephen said resuming his pacing, along with Harry, "Let's put that incident behind us. The third one lies within the boot empire on the summit of a path in which water runs. That first clue is a basic geography question. The boot refers to Italy as it is a peninsula in the shape of a heeled boot. Thus, the empire part is extremely easy. There was only one empire like that in Italy, and that's the Ancient Roman Empire. Am I correct so far, Annie?"
Annie answered, "Yeah," and then Harry continued with Jack, "And the summit of the path in which water runs is the top of an aqueduct, right Jack?"
Stephen then froze. "The last clue will be the most dangerous," he said.
"Why?" asked Annie, as Harry also froze in realization.
"Stephen? Harry? What's wrong?" Jack asked.
"This last one can only refer to one thing," Harry said.
"What?!" Both Jack and Annie chorused, curious.
Stephen answered this one, in one short word, "Pirates."
Both Jack and Annie paled. They had covered pirates in school and both children knew that they were some of the most ruthless men around during their time.
Stephen turned to Harry and both boys seemed to discuss something mentally. After a few short minutes, the thirteen-year-old boys seemed to come to a decision.
After a verbal question from Stephen to Harry of, "You got your dad's cloak on you, Harry, because I've got my darts I made while you were in class," to which Harry replied with a roll of his bright green eyes, "Yes, I've got the cloak. I don't go anywhere without it now," both boys turned to the two younger children.
"Alright," Harry said, "We'll help find this thing. But while Stephen deals with the pirates, the two of you need to stay on my rear and not wander off. Not being visible is key here. We don't want to be caught. Stephen?"
The black haired, blue-eyed boy looked up, "You got the oath that they need to swear in case they ever meet Hermione or heaven forbid Ron's mother?"
"Yeah, I got it ready. Alright Jack. Annie. This is for not only the preservation of Harry's and my hearing, but yours' as well if you should ever meet these two people in particular. It won't hurt you if you tell, the consequences of telling though are ringing ears. Ready?"
Annie and Jack shared a look, and nodded, confirming their choice. "Good, now repeat exactly what Harry says. Harry?"
The black haired, emerald green-eyed boy nodded and then began, "Upon our trust I do swear-."
"Upon our trust I do swear," two voices echoed.
"To never tell this tale or be worse for wear," continued Harry.
"To never tell this tale or be worse for wear," Jack and Annie swore.
"Or suffer ringing ears, I do swear," finished Harry.
"Or suffer ringing ears, I do swear," intoned the siblings.
Then all three looked up and Stephen finished the oath, "So mote it be, so mote it be."
After a pause to see if anything would happen, Harry started snickering.
"Did you two actually think we would have you swear an actual binding oath or something?"
"No," said Jack.
"Good, that was just the secret keeping oath that Harry and I have sworn when we've gone and done something that would end up with us having our ears ring. We've done that since we first met," Stephen said.
He then continued, "I was watching Peanuts over there since I first brought up the oath, it was almost funny. She stiffened up and I swear that she actually looked like she was going to slap one of us if she could up until Harry mentioned that it wasn't an actual oath. And now I think I'm being glared at by a mouse."
Jack, Annie and Harry all looked. Indeed, it did look like Stephen was being glared at by the mouse.
Annie ran over and picked up the mouse. "Peanuts did you actually think that they would do that to us?" When the mouse seemed to nod, Harry spoke up, "You're a good friend to them, you realize that right? You were ready to help them even if you didn't know that this was just something we do to protect each other."
The mouse seemed shocked. Stephen then spoke up, "My apologies, Miss Peanuts, this oath was a spur of the moment thing and I didn't realize that you would be distressed over it until it was already begun. I can only sense magic, not actually use it right now, so that's why I'm the one finishes the oath with so mote it be. If Harry did, it would be an actual binding oath."
As Stephen finished speaking, he turned towards the mouse and gave her a closed eyed smile and inclined his head towards her.
This seemed to please Peanuts, who relaxed and stopped glaring.
Stephen returned to his thoughts, planning the trip, while telepathically staying in communication with Harry, who said, "Alright, let's find that book on pirates!"
A few minutes later, Jack had found the one book on pirates and Stephen had finished planning with Harry.
Once the plan was explained to Jack and Annie and the rope ladder pulled up and secured so any pirates couldn't get to them, all four children gathered around the pirate book, Peanuts ran over to watch, then all four pointed to the picture of an island with a pirate ship out at sea, and said the words that Jack and Annie were becoming so familiar with, "I wish we could go there!"
The light seemed to get brighter and the wind began to blow, softly at first, but then got stronger and stronger, and the tree house began to spin, faster and faster, causing the four to shut their eyes and grip onto something and then they and the tree house disappeared in a flash.