So I've done it again—I've revised. I've gone back through all the chapters and fixed some errors or little things that were bugging me. Tweaked a conversation here, elaborated a tad more there…nothing very major, and if you could actually spot the changes, I'd be very happy because that would mean you paid attention the first time 'round.
Oh wait, I did change some stuff—namely chapters 9 and 10. Changed them a lot. I overhauled that part for many reasons—the main one being that I didn't like the direction it was going. And since I hit a wall and hadn't been able to write for the past year (really, very sorry about that) I went back and revised to try and work my way out of the corner. I hope you'll like the changes.
I know—I'm a bad author for going back and altering stuff in the middle of the story. A true author would have all of that worked out before he/she posted or just be willing to work with what they had created. I really am sorry.
This story is a crossover between Labyrinth and Harry Potter. If you're not a HP fan then you might not want to read this because this story will be leaning heavily on that universe. Really this is just my attempt to explain stuff that's been bothering me from both sides, and amazingly these two worlds mesh really well.
I'm ignoring Book 6, except for a few tiny details which probably won't be noticed by anyone. If you do notice, then wow. I'm impressed.
As I did not understand the O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. systems prior to Book 6—just go with me on the class schedules. It'll be easier that way.
I do not own these characters. Neither the Harry Potter world nor Labyrinth belongs to me. Good Heavens, I wish they did. This story is rated 'T' for language and maybe something more later on.
Chapter One—A New Beginning
Sarah Williams cocked her head and turned her face into the gentle breeze. She loved this time of night, when the hum of insects filled the air and the sun was just beginning to set; soon it would catch everything up in a rosy-golden glow and soften the evidence of human hands. This was the moment when Time stood still and everything was right in the world.
Relaxing against her bench, she let the warm air tickle her face, enjoying the sensation, and fancifully imagined it was trying to talk to her, whispering secrets meant only for her ears. Laughing at her own wistfulness, the brunette looked upward, hoping to see the first stars of the night make their modest appearance and turned her mind back to the reason why she was at the park in the first place.
Sarah had dreams. They happened every time she fell asleep, whether for the night or from an afternoon nap. She would shut her eyes and they would begin. She learned things in her dreams. The proper way to hold a wand, the ingredients needed to make a love potion, several ways to curse an enemy. One night she would have a one-on-one tutorial with a vaudin priestess on the subtle art of voodoo and then the next afternoon (a quick rest before dinner) she was out in a field watching a reenactment of the Icelandic Orc Massacre of 1211.
They were never the same, her dreams. Each time she slept, she learned something new, was taught a new technique of wand movement and a new fabulously sounding word to recite. Her teachers changed occasionally, a new face to replace an old one.
She had thought once, when she first defeated the Labyrinth, that she would grow up, grow out of her fantasy world, become a mature adult having seen for herself how daydreaming could end in trouble. But she didn't. She couldn't. To give up those dreams would be to deny what she had been through, ignore the lessons she had learned at the devious hands of the Goblin King. To refute the very existence of magic, of the Underground and all its wondrous possibilities was something she could not do. Why would she want to? That knowledge made life a little more special.
So she continued believing, kept up her friendship with the creatures she had met in the Underground: a gentle giant with a fearsome face and a unique gift with words, a noble fox with a Don Quixote complex, and a surly dwarf who turned out to be the best friend she could ever hope for. And when she slept, and the dreams came—so powerful she had difficulty deciding if she was awake or not—she couldn't ignore those either. Sometimes, she woke whispering complicated spells, and for a frantic second or two, waited with in-drawn breath to see if anything happened. Nothing ever did.
She had been disappointed at first, when nothing changed shape and no one understood the strange words she said, but she accepted that her dreams would have to stay dreams, and looked forward to the next lesson and the next imaginary thing learned. How could she not? It was one more tie to the Underground.
But why, she had wondered (almost from the beginning), could she dream of a world so completely and yet it not be real, when there was a 'real' world made entirely of dreams?
Perhaps, having seen a place found only in fairy tales, her subconscious was creating this new world, hoping to find one day that, it too, existed. It seemed that her imagination had gone into overdrive since returning from her journey through the Labyrinth.
"Too many thoughts," she murmured. Rising from the bench, Sarah set off at a leisurely pace down the park path, no real destination in mind. She loved this park; it was serene and welcoming and rarely visited by anyone other than the occasional mother with a stroller. Now though, with night slowly chasing away the day, the park was hers.
When her wanderings led her to the stone bridge that crossed the small pond, she stopped. For almost a year and a half, since that day she first saw the owl, she had avoided this area. It was silly, she knew, but this part of the park she associated with the Labyrinth; with its King. Here she had recited lines from her red playbook and wished with all her heart for her dreams to come true. And they had.
"You're being stupid," she told herself, unable to take that first step across. To do so would mean…what? "It would mean I walked over a bridge," she grumbled. Gathering her resolve, her feet took one step...two…four…six. She was on the other side. It was a rather anticlimactic moment and she wondered what she had been expecting.
The tiniest of movements drew her eyes upward into the green leaves of a giant oak tree. Wide, golden eyes peered down at her like jewels among the foliage. A bird launched itself from among the branches, swooping to perch on a bench a few feet from where she stood. It was an owl.
Brown. The owl is brown. It's not…it's only a bird. Taking deep breaths to steady the fear that had rushed through her—was it fear?—Sarah studied the creature, her eyes searching it for a sign of…something.
The owl hooted softly, shifting its feet oddly on the bench where it sat. The movement brought Sarah's eyes downward and her heart resumed beating at a ridiculous pace.
A letter? The owl brought me a letter?
The brunette stepped cautiously forward; ready to jump back should the bird become hostile. Reaching slowly, she untied the proffered letter from the leg of the bird and recoiled in alarm as it launched itself into the evening sky.
She watched it for a moment, her mind whirling, thoughts darting to and fro. Looking down at the envelope in her hands, she stared in confusion at the address.
The Wooden Bench
The old clock tower at the center of the small town's square announced the time, half-past six, shattering the silence of the park.
"Damnit." Shoving the letter into the back pocket of her jeans, the girl took off running, her long hair flying like a banner behind her.
Several minutes later, she came to an abrupt halt at the front porch of her house, her step-mother looking disappointedly down on her.
"Sarah, you know better than this," were the words that greeted her.
"I know, I know," she panted out, trying to regain her breath. "I lost track of time. Sorry."
"Well, it's a good thing we changed our reservations for a later spot," spoke Karen in a resigned tone as she moved to let her step-daughter in the door. "There's money for delivery or last night's leftovers in the fridge."
"Thanks," said Sarah as she sat down on the floor where three-year-old Toby was playing with super large Legos.
"Robert! It's twenty 'till, we have fifteen minutes to get there before the reservations are let go," Karen called up the stairs to where her husband was searching for his wallet. "It's on the top of the dresser, right next to your keys," she said after a minute of silence.
Sarah looked up from where she sat and shared a small smile with her step-mother. In the past year and a half, Sarah and Karen's relationship had taken a drastic turn toward creating an affable and healthy household. While the two still disagreed over many issues, Karen had become, if not a friend, at the very least a respected individual.
"All right, let's go," said Robert Williams as he trotted down the stairs. Blowing a kiss to his daughter and waving goodbye to his son, he grabbed his jacket from the coat-rack and opened the front door to follow his wife, but stopped when he saw the woman waiting on the porch.
She stood before them with a broad smile, wearing a skirt and matching suit jacket. She looked all of twenty years old, her blonde hair up in a ponytail. A ragged looking backpack was slung over her left shoulder.
"Sarah, there's someone at the door for you," called Karen, assuming the woman to be a friend of her step-daughter. Nodding her head in a brisk greeting, she attempted to pass by the stranger, only to be stopped by an upraised hand.
"Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Williams. My name is Stephanie Alcott and I work for the American Division of Muggles to Magic, may I come in?" Not waiting for an answer she slid between the two and entered the living room where she spied Sarah and Toby looking at her curiously.
"Sarah Williams. Delighted to meet you! My name is Stephanie Alcott as I just mentioned to your parents, I insist on being called Stephanie, and I'm sure the two of us will get along fabulously. Mr. and Mrs. Williams if you'll please sit down, we have much to discuss and many papers to sign," she said indicating a couch for the two adults and letting her bag drop to the floor.
"She's not a friend of yours?" Robert asked his daughter. Sarah shook her head mutely.
"What do you want Ms. Alcott, and where exactly did you say you worked?" questioned Karen, a suspicious frown on her face.
"Please, it's just Stephanie, and I work for the American Division of Muggle to Magic, or ADMM; we're a branch of the United Muggle to Magic League. Our organization helps new witches and wizards from Muggle families learn about and adjust to a world of magic. Your daughter Sarah is a witch. I am here to help you and Sarah with her paperwork as well as answer any questions you or she may have and to show her around Raven's Grotto, the local wizard community."
Sarah's heart started pounding. Witch. Magic. Could it be possible? Were her dreams more than her overactive imagination—were they real? She glanced at her father and step-mother and choked down a snicker. The two were openly goggling at Stephanie, her father fighting a rising anger.
"Ms. Alcott, I'm going to ask you to please leave. Whatever it is you're selling, we're not interested."
Shocking blue eyes slid quickly to Sarah and the woman winked. "Mr. Williams, I am selling nothing but the chance for your daughter to have the education of a lifetime." From inside the sleeve to her jacket, the woman pulled out a long, thin piece of wood, smooth and a very dark red. "Wingardium Leviosa!" she said, her voice strong, the words precise and clear.
The horridly floral but surprisingly comfortable couch in the front room rose an inch off the floor, floated up behind Karen and Robert Williams and bumped the back of their knees just enough to cause them to sit down, their legs buckling under them.
Both jumped up right away, Karen's hands to her mouth and Robert pulling his wife away from the bewitched monstrosity. When the piece of furniture did not move again, Robert turned to Stephanie, a question in his eyes and on his tongue. Karen looked to Sarah where she had risen from the floor with Toby in her arms. Crossing the room in three short strides, she took her son from his sister's grasp and clutched him tightly, making the boy squirm and protest. Edging in the direction of his family, Robert kept his gaze alternating on Stephanie and the couch, his concern leading him to prod the offending piece of furniture with his foot before quickly moving away.
Smiling tolerantly as if people backing away in fright were an every day occurrence, Stephanie turned to where the Williams family stood together and waved her wand with a dramatic flourish. A few Latin words and a jet of purple light shot to the scattering of Legos on the floor. Twitching and jerking all over the place, they tumbled from the haphazard tower Toby had built and reformed into a miniature, multi-colored chair. And then it grew. Robert pushed his family behind him, arms spread wide and hurriedly backing away as the chair grew in size, changing colors and shape slightly until, when it was done it was a perfect match to the rest of the room.
Stephanie spoke then, in a quiet voice, knowing her words would be more startling than what they had just witnessed. "I mean your family no harm, Mr. and Mrs. Williams. I am a witch, I can do magic. Your daughter Sarah is a witch; she can do exactly what I just did. Or will, with the right education. And more, so much more. Please, would you have a seat? I really wish only to speak with you."
When it became apparent that her father and Karen were unwilling to move, Sarah stepped around them and made a show of settling into the new chair. Though it had once been hard plastic, its transformed state was remarkably comfortable. "I don't believe she means us any harm; if she did, she could have done it by now. I would like to hear what she has to tell us," she said.
Karen was glancing between her step-daughter and the witch, her arms around her son. "Robert…" was all she managed to say.
Looking at the utter lack of fear on his daughter's face, Robert made up his mind. "Very well, Ms. Alcott. We'll listen," he said, just a hint of strain in his voice. Putting an arm around Karen, he directed his wife to the couch, gave it one more prod with his shoe, and reluctantly sat. Toby squirmed from his mother's grasp and ran over to inspect the remaining pieces of his former Lego set. Sarah ran her fingers through his hair as he knelt by her legs.
"There are two types of people in this world," Stephanie began, "non-magic users, also called 'Muggles,' and magic-users, commonly known as witches or wizards. Mr. and Mrs. Williams, I am here today to introduce your daughter Sarah to her new world, the Wizarding world. Our agency, Muggles to Magic, sends representatives when a Muggle child shows signs of magical power." Here she nodded once, walked to the only empty chair in the room and sat, placid and patently ignoring the stunned faces of the Williams family. The adults were still in shock, but Sarah was trying hard not to jump for joy.
Be logical, think this through, she told herself, willing her heart to stop pounding. "I haven't done any magic, Ms. Alcott," she said, inwardly delighted that her voice had been steady.
"It's Stephanie, and no, you haven't. You have not done any magic and are in fact about eight years late coming into your powers." Turning to Karen and Robert, "Most young witches and wizards show their powers early in life, being constantly around magic and all, but new magic-users from Muggle families often take an extra boost to get started. Usually, it shows when the child becomes angry or afraid or excited, triggered by any strong emotion, and normally around the ages of nine or ten.
"When that happens, all pertinent information about the new witch or wizard shows up in our books: name, address, age, time and place of first magical experience, what magic occurred, and so on. A representative is then sent to inform the family of the child's new situation and to help make sure the transition from Muggle to Magic goes smoothly." She turned her bright blue eyes to Sarah.
"Your daughter, though, we have virtually no information about her—only a name, address, and age. No data even, on what triggered her powers. There are late bloomers of course, but those children's powers generally manifest before age fourteen. At almost seventeen, Sarah, you are one of the oldest recorded witches to come into her power."
From the couch, Karen spoke, her voice uncertain. "How…how is she a witch…if she came from a…Muggle family?"
"That is unfortunately a question I cannot answer," Stephanie sighed. "We do not know what causes a Muggle family to produce a magic child and a magic family to have a non-magical child. I myself came from a Muggle family; I was the youngest child and the only one to show any magical talent." Glancing over at the young woman who was avidly absorbing all that was being discussed, the witch hesitated for a quick minute, "Sarah, this information isn't exactly new to you, is it?"
She started, Stephanie's question catching her by surprise. Her head was buzzing with far too many thoughts. The implications of what was happening had not escaped her. She had fought her way through a fantastical maze, faced down a slew of bizarre creatures and a magical King to rescue her baby brother from being turned into a goblin, almost two years ago. The night of her return she had started dreaming of another magical world in which she was able to do the sorts of things she had played at as a small girl. And now, apparently, here was this woman coming to introduce her to all the hidden secrets of being a magic-user, an ordinary enough occurrence, except that the agency which dealt with this sort of thing, had no information on her. Sarah wondered at what she should tell the woman and her family.
"There was an…incident…about two years ago," she began, casting her father and Karen a furtive glance. "Since then…I've known there were people who could do magic." I wanted with all my heart to be one of them.
"Sarah? Why didn't you tell us about it?" her step-mother asked, a hurt look on her face.
"Would we have believed her?" was her husband's counter. He threw a look at their guest, "I'm still having trouble with this."
"It is a lot to take in all at once," agreed the young witch.
"It wasn't anything big, Karen," Sarah fibbed, her lips quirking at the lie. She didn't really think her father and step-mother would appreciate knowing she had wished away her brother in a fit of adolescent rage. "It was just something that happened one night, not a big deal."
Their guest was watching Sarah, her eyes thoughtful. "You don't have to elaborate if it makes you uncomfortable, but whatever happened must have been what triggered your powers. Though I am uncertain as to why our agency was not notified until three days ago. By the by, I hear you got an acceptance letter; that's wonderful news! Whose did you receive?" she asked in a quick switch of topic. "You don't necessarily go to whichever school is closest, you know. A friend of mine from Montreal lived only a few miles from the Académie de Magie and figured she'd be attending that school. She got an offer from them and Salem Academy in Massachusetts, but chose Salem because it had a better Charms curriculum. So, which school sent a letter?"
Sarah's mind drew a blank as she tried to process the sudden rush of information. She gave it up as a lost cause and asked Stephanie to repeat her question.
"You received a letter, right? It was our understanding that a notice of acceptance was dispatched for you today." She looked concerned and picked up her backpack, pulling out a folder and rifling through the papers within. "It says right here," she announced pulling a sheaf from the mess, "'owl courier was dispatched from Hogsmeade Postal at 12:24 pm on June 16,' —blah, blah, blah—'arrived at the Raven's Grotto Office'—la de da—'letter was received by the intended recipient at 6:29 pm on June 16.' "
"What exactly is owl courier?" asked Karen.
"Oh, we don't have a post office like Muggles do. We use birds, owls most of the time, to deliver letters and packages. It is much more efficient and less risky than Muggle snail mail. You did receive your letter tonight, didn't you, Sarah?"
Sarah pulled from her back pocket the envelope she had hastily shoved there what seemed like hours ago. She gazed at the seal with interest and was careful not to tear it as she opened the flap. She pulled out a letter, hands trembling.
Dear Miss Williams,
We are pleased to inform you of your acceptance at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We are aware of your situation and feel that, with the private tutoring you have received, you will do well as a member in our seventh year classes.
Enclosed is a list of supplies needed. We expect your owl no later than July 1st.
She handed the letter and envelope to Stephanie, hoping the witch could help explain. She watched in fascination as the woman's eyebrows drew together and then proceeded to rise upwards as her eyes grew larger and larger.
"You've been accepted at Hogwarts. It's the most prestigious Wizarding school in all of Europe, the world actually. It's quite an honor. Although, it was the understanding at the office that you were an untrained witch and untrained witches do not join in with the most advanced classes at the world's best school." She gave the letter and envelope to the two on the couch and stared expectantly at Sarah.
"I've—had dreams, lots of them actually, whenever I sleep, and I always dreamt of," she faltered, "...this. Of spells and potions and magic. I thought they were only dreams, they never worked when I tried it awake. I even went and researched some of the stuff I learned at the library, but I never found anything."
"Nivanos Es, the Dream teachers. They taught you while you were asleep and brought you up to the same level as students your own age. Amazing. Well, at least you won't require ADMM supplied tutors. And no Muggle library would have any of the information you were looking for; we do our best to keep the two worlds separate. How did you pay for your instruction if your parents, and you for that matter, knew nothing about it?"
"A benefactor," spoke Robert Williams as he read through a second letter from the envelope. "The same benefactor who will be paying for your school supplies and your tuition at Hogwarts. An account has been started at," he stumbled over a strange word, "Gringotts Bank and you will be provided with a monthly allowance."
"He or she will also be paying for Toby when he goes to Hogwarts," spoke Karen, her voice soft and confused.
Sarah's mouth felt dry and her tongue refused to move. How was she to answer the unspoken questions? She could only think of one person who could possibly be aware of and influential in the hidden world of magic as well as take such an interest in herself and her brother, but it couldn't possibly be him, could it? Why? Why would he?
"I honestly have no idea why this person is helping me."
"A mystery then," spoke Stephanie, breaking the silence in the room. "Fantastic! I'm a sucker for a good puzzle. Sarah, you've just made my day twice over," she said with a cheery smile. "All right, so you've been introduced to our world, you're on par with your peer group, you've got your school picked out and money issues solved — this meeting is coming along much more quickly than they usually do. Wonderful!"
Stephanie thumbed through a thick stack of papers in the folder, pulling out several. These she handed to Robert and Karen as well as a pen. "As your daughter is still considered a minor by Muggle and Wizarding law, Mr. and Mrs. Williams, my agency needs you to fill out these forms of transfer at Sarah's high school. As well as these forms of acceptance of entry into the Universal Society of Magic Wielders, or the Wizarding world as most people call it. It's really just a bunch of nonsense created by boring government officials who want to make the transition seem more than it really is. Just ignore the big words and sign on the dotted line."
Robert and Karen flipped through the papers, skimming over lengthy paragraphs written in shimmering gold ink.
"Is this what you want, Sarah? Do you want to go to this school? Leave everyone here behind?" asked her father, looking at his daughter, his lips set in an unhappy line.
She had forgotten.
Her friends from school. She'd never had a lot, but those she had were dear to her and accepting of her little quirks, just as she was of theirs. Her father and Karen. Toby. Could she leave her family? After striving so hard to have a happy, normal home life, could she leave? Go across the world to attend a school she hadn't heard of until a few minutes ago, to learn things she had ever only let herself dream about?
Her father signed the papers.
"Very good, Sarah," said Stephanie. "I'll just turn over these forms to be processed and everything will be all set." She took the papers back from Sarah's father and placed everything back into her bag. "Now, Mr. and Mrs. Williams, I'm sure the two of you have a dinner date to attend. You might be a little late, but I had to catch all of you at home together. Sarah, if you'll just gather up anything your brother might require in the next few hours, we three shall be off."
"Wait, where are you going?" cried Karen.
"Shopping. Sarah needs to get her school supplies, and she really should be shown how to get to Raven's Grotto rather than told. Wouldn't want her to get lost. Toby is welcome to tag along, I'm sure you and your husband will have much to talk about at dinner," she explained.
"Shouldn't we be going with you?" asked her father.
"It's not necessary. The three of us will be fine. We're only going shopping. I can arrange a tour for the whole family at a later date if you wish. But you two really should hurry up, those reservations won't hold forever." Stephanie's cheerful chatter followed the two adults all the way to their car and before they realized what was happening, the vehicle was pulling into the restaurant parking lot.
"Do you think we did the right thing, Robert?"
"I don't know. Sarah seemed happy."
"Yes, she did. I'm worried though. This whole situation is peculiar. Who is that private benefactor and why on Earth would they help Sarah and Toby? And Sarah knows more than she's letting on, did you hear her back there? She wasn't truthful with us, she evaded our questions and that Alcott woman let her."
"Karen, what have we learned today?" asked Robert, the more pragmatic of the two.
"What do you mean?"
"We've learned that there is an entirely different world out there. One full of magic and all the fantasy nonsense Sarah has always dreamed about. One I, we, have always told her doesn't exist. If she seems to know more about what's going on than she says she does, I think I can live with that.
"If you have the impression that there is large part of some cosmic picture we're missing, you're probably right. But I'm resigned to that. I have been for two years, when my angry, irate daughter grew up practically overnight. If this opportunity, this magic world, is what she wants and will make her happy, then I will support her completely."
"That's it then?"
A sigh. "I wonder what it is they learn at a magic school. Hopefully something other than Feng Shui."
A snort of laughter was her only answer.