The Traveler Stone: PLANTAGENET
This story is authored by HiBob. The principle characters and settings are the creation and property of JK Rowling and, to a lesser degree, Randall Garrett
She was known only as the Gypsy. That was one of the two things about her that anyone needed to know. The other thing was that she was in charge. If she gave a command, it was followed. If she was happy, then everyone else was happy. And now she was angry.
"You call yourself a Master Sorcerer?" she barked at the plump man sitting at the small square table. She paced the floor then paused to look out of the window. The view from the second story room of the warehouse was dismal at the best of times. Once the sun rose, the grey rain would at least obscure the wall of the adjacent warehouse.
The Sorcerer smiled insincerely. "The spell I have placed on the boy is working. The boy remembers nothing of his past beyond this last week. Soon, he will remember nothing at all. Then we can manipulate him to our own ends."
"You promised me five days. It has been two weeks."
"The boy's will is strong, and although his talent is small it is more developed than I expected. But he will succumb in another day or two."
"We do not have another day or two. The Armsmen are getting closer. They know we are near and it is only a matter of time." The Gypsy spoke with practiced control over her emotions. "The matter must be resolved."
"But the boy . . ."
"The boy is useless unless you can control him now."
The Sorcerer grew nervous but held his ground. "You are getting what you paid for. If you want the boy's mind in one piece, you have to wait."
"I cannot wait. My friends would give me all the time in the world but my enemies will not."
The Gypsy reached under her robes for the revolver, a six shot MacGregor, and checked the chambers to make sure they were filled. As she returned it to its hiding spot, she brushed her free hand against her side as she was want to do, and paused as she noticed the absence of a familiar bulge. She felt the belt beneath her robe and realized that the pouch she carried was empty.
"It is gone," the Gypsy cursed, and glared at the Sorcerer. Her eyes shifted to the bolted door behind the Sorcerer.
The Sorcerer followed her gaze, and swallowed. "Impossible. The boy does not have the courage. He was begging you for mercy when last you talked with him."
The last vestige of respect for the Sorcerer fled from the Gypsy. "Is he a beggar? Or is he a pickpocket? He may not remember much, but he has lost none of his skill."
The Gypsy walked across the room with determination, the revolver out and firmly in her hand. "This ends now."
"My Lady," the Sorcerer said as he rose to his feet. "I promise you. One more day." He smiled his most ingratiating smile. He was still smiling when the bullet entered his head.
The Gypsy unbolted the door and threw it open. In front of her no more than five feet away was the boy, filthy from the lack of clean water, his clothes nothing more than rags. He no longer noticed the iron necklace he wore, even as its edges still managed to cut into his skin. He stood there defiant and, curiously, with empty hands.
"Where is it?"
The boy said nothing but his eyes, weak as they were, were fixed on the revolver. He was clearly frightened but he was also determined. Even after all he had been through, he made it clear he would never beg. He would never beg and mean it. Even if it meant his life. The Gypsy shouted the question again, then decided on a new course of action. She aimed the revolver at the boy's stomach.
"You will die slowly, little brat, and I will find my jewel if I have to flay your corpse to do it." She pulled the trigger and the bullet exited the gun barrel.
In one second, all these things occurred. The bullet entered the boy and, as it was designed to do, exploded before it could exit his body. His back now had a hole in it that a man could stick his fist into. The boy jerked back on the chain as his body was struck. The iron collar forced the boy's head to stop, and the boy proceeded to drop to the floor as he lost control of his feet. His mouth opened, and the Gypsy smiled as she could see her jewel, caught in the boy's throat. Then he did the unexpected. As he fell, the boy faded from sight. At the end of that one second, the chain and the empty collar landed on the floor.
PART I: ARRIVAL
Chapter One: The Stranger
Harry smiled as politely as he could at Colin Creevey as he gave back the picture of himself and Lockhart and explained that he was going to Quidditch practice. The first year had decided that Harry was the greatest person in the world and did everything to be close to him. Now, in this early dawn hour, Colin was waiting for him as Harry went to his first Quidditch practice of the year. "Oh wow! Wait for me" Colin said as he followed Harry out of the common room. "I've never . . ."
Colin stopped in his tracks as he saw Harry trip. Harry fell forward but he landed on a body. Rolling off, he saw he was lying next to a boy his own age. He also saw something else. Blood. And a gaping wound. A flash of light caught his eyes and he looked up. Colin had taken a picture.
Harry started to say something but he saw Colin's face. Colin was frightened. Taking the picture had been a reflex action. Then Harry heard someone calling his name. It was the Fat Lady in the portrait that covered the entrance.
"I'm sorry. What?" Harry asked.
"I've summoned help," the Fat Lady said, relieved that she was getting a reaction. "How is he?"
"I don't know," Harry said as he put a bloody hand on the boy's back, well above the wound. "He's still breathing, I think."
"MOVE," Argus Filch yelled as he suddenly appeared in Harry's view. Ignoring the blood and filth, the caretaker picked up the boy as carefully as he could and began running with him to Madam Pomfrey. Harry watched him as he ran past a stunned Professor McGonagall.
A moment later, McGonagall shook off her surprise and cast a spell with her wand. The house elves would soon be there to clean everything. Then she approached the two boys. "Harry, Colin, come with me, please." Harry nodded and stood up. He looked at Colin, who was shaking, and went to help. When Colin backed away, Harry looked surprised, then noticed his Quidditch robes stained with the boy's blood. Realizing what he must look like, he stepped back from Colin, to give him some room.
"We'll have you cleaned and with a change of clothes in the infirmary, Mister Potter," McGonagall assured him. Then she turned and said softly, "Colin?" She held out her hand and he took it, and followed her as she led the way.
Harry returned to the infirmary after using the bath in the teachers lounge. He was now in clean clothes and curious about what he would find, but Madam Pomfrey was busy behind a screen and nothing could be seen of the strange boy.
Colin, sitting on one of the beds, looked up when he saw Harry and smiled, but it was different from his usual smiles. This was a smile that said he was happy to see a familiar face. Harry gave him a lopsided grin in return. In this brief instant, both shared the same feeling, relief. Something terrible has happened but, hopefully, it would soon pass.
"You look better," Colin said,
"I had a chance to look in a mirror. I scared myself. I'm glad this doesn't happen every day." Harry gave a nervous laugh, and Colin grinned.
"I have to admit. This isn't what I expected to find at a school of magic."
"And you shouldn't, Mister Creevey," Albus Dumbledore said as he entered. "Our guest has caused quite a few questions to be asked and very few to be answered. I have talked with the adults involved, and now I would like to ask the two of you some of these questions."
"I can't tell you much, Sir," Harry offered. "I was talking to Colin when I tripped over the boy. The next thing I knew, Mister Filch was there, and Professor McGonagall told us to follow her."
Dumbledore nodded slowly, while Harry dared to ask a question. "Sir, who is he?"
"That, Harry, is one of the questions we don't have an answer to, yet."
"Then he's not a student?"
"Then how did he get here?"
Dumbledore smiled kindly. "That is another question we don't know the answer to. However, if Madam Pomfrey is as skilled as I believe her to be, our guest will give us the answers in a short while. Perhaps you and Mister Creevey should get some breakfast?"
"Sir, I should be at Quidditch practice . . ."
Dumbledore nodded. "Apparently Professor Snape forgot to inform your team captain. The Slytherin team has use of the pitch today to train their new seeker. You did not miss practice."
Dumbledore chuckled. "You are full of questions today, Mister Potter, but at least I can answer some of them. Yes, a new seeker. They've chosen Draco Malfoy for that position. Now, off to breakfast, the two of you."
As they left the infirmary, Colin looked up at Harry. "Malfoy? Is he one of the bad ones?"
"As bad as you can get," Harry said. "I'll bet you anything he bought his way onto the team. Higgs, their old seeker, wouldn't just quit."
"They did not notice," Albus Dumbledore assured Madam Pomfrey.
"Minerva did. I wouldn't have if she hadn't pointed it out." Pomfrey nodded to Professor McGonagall.
"Albus, I should tell you that when I spotted the boy I froze. If it weren't for Argus Filch . . ." McGonagall explained. "I recognized the boy immediately, even with only a glimpse of his face. And with Potter kneeling on the floor next to him, he was the last person I expected to see."
Dumbledore nodded. "I'm sure everything will be fine as far as the boy is concerned."
Pomfrey frowned. "He'll live, if that is what you mean. But he will be sleeping for most of the week. And I have St. Mungo's sending someone to check on him. A specialist. The boy needs to regrow a kidney for one thing"
"He was hurt that badly?" Albus asked.
"It was worse than you could imagine." Poppy sighed. "I'm not even sure I know the entire story. I need to try a few spells and see what the results are." She took a deep breath. "I would like to talk to you after the doctor visits tomorrow."
"I think we can afford to wait," Albus said with more assurance than he felt. "I will use the time to talk to old friends."
Harry went back to his bed rather than eat a breakfast he wouldn't enjoy and surprised himself by sleeping through the rest of the morning. Fred and George were there when he awoke suddenly. "What happened?"
"We woke you up," Fred answered with a wide grin. "What did you think happened?"
Harry frowned. "Why did you wake me up?"
"To eat," George said matter-of-factly. "It's time for lunch, and we have a few dozen questions for you."
"Yeah," Fred added. "And the next time you find a body, tell us first. Now get up, unless you're not hungry?"
"I'm starving," Harry said in surprise. "I was too nervous to eat any breakfast."
"You're better off than Ron," George said, then laughed. "I better not tell you or it'll ruin your appetite."
"You know you're going to tell me anyway," Harry laughed as he climbed out of bed, his clothes terribly wrinkled.
"I should try that," Fred commented. "I could sleep another ten minutes every morning." He laughed at his own joke then added, "You know about Ron's wand, don't you?"
"I was there when he broke it," Harry acknowledged.
"Then you understand why he started spitting up slugs after he tried to curse Malfoy."
"Ughh. I'm glad you told me before I ate anything. Why did he try to curse Malfoy?"
Fred and George looked at each other. "Malfoy, um, called Hermione a name. Mudblood."
"I've never heard that word before."
"It means bad blood, dirty blood. Muggle blood. It's the worst thing he could have called her." Fred smiled, then added, "Hermione managed to get under his skin, that was great."
By this time all three were on their way to the Great Hall, and Harry started laughing. "What did Hermione say?"
"Harry," George explained, "It's not that simple. First of all, Wood bored us for over an hour with his charts."
"Then the Slytherin team showed up to train their new seeker," Fred continued, "They had permission from Snape and brand new Nimbus Two Thousand and One's."
"Dumbledore told me about Malfoy," Harry sneered. "I told Colin he probably bought his way onto the team."
"That's exactly what Hermione accused him of," George said.
"Then she added that the Gryffindors got their places by talent," Fred continued.
Harry laughed with the twins. "That's why Malfoy was mad. I'll have to thank Hermione for that. How is Ron doing?"
"He hadn't coughed up a slug in almost a half hour, the last I saw of him."
Fred and George deposited Harry in a seat across from Ron and Hermione and went to join their friends. Harry smiled but Ron still moped.
"Are you feeling better? Fred and George told me what happened."
"Almost, but McGonagall came by just before you got here, Harry. I have detention with Filch, in the trophy room."
"Did she say anything about me?" Harry asked nervously, pausing as he filled his plate.
"That's why Ron's sulking," Hermione answered, wearing a frown of her own. "Because of extenuating circumstances you are excused from your punishment."
"Tripping over a body," Hermione reminded him. "Colin Creevey told me, and everyone else, about it."
"And why are you upset? Is it what Malfoy said?"
"You know what Malfoy's like, Harry?"
"Sticks and stones, Hermione. Anyone in Gryffindor is more than a match for Malfoy, and we all stand together. He'll get his."
Hermione smiled. "Thanks, Harry. The words still hurt but hearing you say that does help." She blushed slightly. "Of course, Ron told me the same thing. And Hagrid."
"And Fred and George," Ron added. Suddenly his eyes bulged, and he got up and ran out of the Great Hall.
"I hope he makes it," Hermione said, "It hasn't been a good day for him."
"For any of us," Harry said as he finished his second helping and reached for more juice. "At least I feel normal, now."
Suddenly, a ripple of silence spread over the hall. Near the entrance, voices could be heard. Harry and Hermione looked up to see Colin Creevey running into the Great Hall, camera in hand, and racing past the Gryffindor table, Malfoy and his friends in hot pursuit. Colin passed Harry who suddenly stood up and blocked Malfoy's path.
Malfoy stopped and looked Harry in the eye. He then looked over Harry's shoulder and shrugged. He turned around and motioned for Crabbe and Goyle to follow him. As they left, Harry turned around to see Fred and George right behind him, Oliver Wood and Lee Jordan as well as a half dozen other Gryffindors were there as well. "You see, Hermione," Harry reminded her, "we do stand together. And nobody had to ask."
Harry sat back down and found Colin sitting next to him. "What did you do?"
"I didn't mean to bother you, Harry."
"Colin, you didn't bother me, but you did give me a chance to stand up to Malfoy. I only want to know why."
"And he isn't the only one," Lee Jordan said as he sat on the other side of the first year, while Fred and George made it a point to stand behind him.
"Malfoy wanted to see my camera," Colin explained. "He grabbed for it and I took his picture."
Fred laughed. "You took his picture?"
Colin nodded with a slight smile. "At close range, with a flash, while he had his eyes open."
Everyone who heard started laughing. Hermione pointed out that Malfoy was scowling, and everyone laughed again. Lee Jordan slapped Colin on the back.
"That was good thinking. You blinded him, then you ran."
"Um, no," Colin said, his smile gone. "I kicked him first."
Harry sat in front of the fireplace, waiting for Ron. He had slept too much during the day to feel tired yet. As he watched the flames dance, he heard a noise. Turning he saw Colin Creevey, dressed in his pajamas, enter the common room. Colin saw him and stopped. Harry waved him over, and Colin came reluctantly.
"What happened, Colin? You looked almost afraid when you saw me."
"I didn't want to bother you."
"Since when?" Harry laughed, then saw Colin's serious look. "Since this morning, right?"
"I don't want to bother you anymore. I won't try to make myself your friend."
"You're not bothering me. Now tell me why you're still up."
"I had a bad dream. About that boy. It was strange, Harry. In my dream he had your face."
"It was only a dream, Colin. Why don't you sit here for a while? I always find it relaxing, watching the flames."
"You're not mad at me? For the way I was bothering you this morning."
"At the time I was, but now I'm glad. Something happened, and there is someone I can talk to about it. I guess you should be glad too. You had that dream, and you found someone to talk to as well. We're both lucky."
Colin snorted. "You make it sound as though we're actually friends."
"We are," Harry said thoughtfully. "I'm not sure when it happened, but we became friends somewhere today. Do you see, Colin, you've been walking around trying to be Colin Creevey, good friend of Harry Potter, but that could never happen. That isn't friendship."
"I don't feel like I'm a friend," Colin admitted.
"You're worried about how I feel and what I think of you." Colin nodded. "Well, somewhere along the way, between taking that boy's picture and taking Malfoy's picture, you stopped thinking about me the way you used to. That's why we're friends. We're nobody special to each other anymore, just Harry and Colin, sitting on the couch, hoping we can get to sleep sometime tonight."
Colin nodded his head. Harry was right about him. He wasn't proud to be sitting next to the Famous Harry Potter. He was comfortable, though, and happy to have someone he could talk to. He had a friend.
"Did you hear that?" Harry asked as he sat up.
"I thought I heard something. It seemed so clear."
"What did it say?"
"It said to come, so it could kill me. It sounded cold and . . . evil."
Both boys listened for a while but neither of them heard anything else. Finally Harry said it was probably his imagination and they sat back to watch the flames again. Colin had to admit that he felt good because now he had a friend at school. "He's weird. He hears voices and stuff. But he is a friend."
When Harry stopped laughing, he asked, "I'm curious, Colin. Where did you kick Malfoy?"
"In the hallway near the Charms classroom," Colin answered with a straight face.