Summary: One minute Harry's completely normal, the next he's grown a tree in his aunt's house. But he's not the only one experiencing unnatural magical abilities: Minerva's burnt her work to a crisp, Hermione's flooded her bathroom, Snape's created a mini tornado in the Great Hall and Albus is turning the sun on and off as easily as if it were a Muggle light switch. All of this is happening after Voldemort's return … Could the answer lie with the Founders, and can it be used to fight?
Disclaimer: See first chapter
Last Chapter Five lines of some sort of lightning-like power shot from the book and met with the five wizards … They looked at each other and gasped.
Chapter Four: Quintessence
"I'm the same," a baffled Harry said, turning to Hermione. "You?"
She nodded shakily. "Not them, though."
They both grinned, watching the other three examine themselves and each other. Professor Snape looked disgusted, Professor McGonagall shocked and Professor Dumbledore highly amused.
Except the titles of "Professor" suddenly didn't seem to fit the three teenagers.
All three previous adults now looked no older than fifteen, sixteen at the most. The robes they'd been wearing had shrunk with them. Professor McGonagall was shorter than the other two, only about Harry's height. Dumbledore looked the most odd in comparison – where an old, long-haired and bearded man had been a moment ago, now stood a tall, clean-shaven adolescent with his chin-length auburn waves ruffled all over the place.
"Severus?" Professor McGonagall said faintly, looking at the lanky boy with shoulder-length dark hair. "Is that you?"
"Minerva?" he said, equally shocked. He leaned to one side to see past her, and their mouths both fell open as they saw the redhead. "Albus?"
The young Albus Dumbledore grinned. "I feel like a teenager again!"
"You are a teenager again, Albus."
"I know! It feels brilliant!"
Harry and Hermione couldn't help it: they both burst out laughing. Professor McGonagall's face broke into a smile. "Albus, you look ridiculous."
"Come on Minerva, you can't tell me you've never wanted to be school age again?"
"Certainly not!" she replied haughtily, but there was a mischievous spark in her eyes nonetheless. "What about you, Severus? How does it feel to be fifteen again?"
"What the hell is going on?" was Snape's only response.
"Good point. Albus?"
Snape rolled his eyes. "You're helpful. Has having over a century lopped off your age deprived you of your genius?"
The young Dumbledore stuck his tongue out cheekily. Harry had a stitch from laughing so hard at them and was having to lean on Hermione to keep himself upright. Hermione's eyes, however, were on Hogwarts, a History.
"Er … Professors?" she said hesitantly. "Look."
Everyone turned their heads to where the book had fallen down to the floor. It was glowing again. Before anyone else could comment, the same bolts of magic shot out and linked them all again, and the garage dissolved before their eyes.
Grass whammed into Harry's face and he choked, struggling to sit up with a weight on top of him. Whoever had landed on his back apologised and rolled off. Harry fumbled for his glasses, wiped mud and grass blades off his face and sat up.
"Where are we?" Professor McGonagall breathed.
"I don't know. Wands out," Dumbledore instructed firmly, all traces of the humour in his face gone.
The question remained unanswered as all five of them stared at their surroundings. Wherever Hogwarts, a History had transported them to (how/why that had happened was a mystery in itself), it was beautiful. A stretch of water, as blue as the Pacific and as sparkling as if it were encrusted with diamonds, lay to their right. It was impossible to tell from their angle if it was a lake or a slow-running river. Tiny waves lapped gently against the side of an overhanging rock, on which stood the edge of the densest and greenest forest Harry had ever laid eyes on. In the distance, through a thin mist, were beautiful, snow-capped mountains. There was not a cloud in the sky, yet the sun was nowhere in sight.
"It's …" Hermione trailed off. There were no words to describe the breath-taking view before them.
"Did the book say anything about this?" Harry turned to Dumbledore. "Actually, that's a point. Where did it book go?"
"It's not here," Snape said slowly, speaking for the first time. "It must still be in the garage."
"So how do we get back?" Hermione demanded.
Professor McGonagall turned to Dumbledore. "Albus, do you have any idea what's going on?"
For a moment he didn't answer. Finally he said slowly, "It said something about being summoned."
"Summoned? By who?"
"I don't know, it left that part out."
She responded with a sound of frustration. "Great. Perfect. What do we do now?"
"I'm thinking, I'm thinking."
"You should have put up a sign," Snape muttered.
"Shut up, Severus."
"Right," Dumbledore continued, ignoring the other teachers' banter. "It makes sense that whatever is happening here is related to what we just figured out."
Snape snorted. "Obviously."
"So, if whatever is behind this is a person – or people – then it has to be someone who knows all about this and that it's us."
"Albus, you are stating the obvious here," Professor McGonagall ground out impatiently.
"Just thinking out loud, my dear. So … that narrows it down to …"
Here he paused. There was a strange look in his eye Harry had never seen before. It was entirely possible that the look was just because he'd suddenly turned fifteen from a hundred and fifty, but it could also be a sign of his mind working out a solution.
"It narrows it down to four people. That is, assuming we are no longer on our own plane of existence – which, looking at the sky, seems to be the case."
Harry glanced up. He had noticed, but not thought about, the lack of sun. Just as he was trying to piece together Dumbledore's conclusion, someone screamed and grabbed his arm.
"It's just a snake, Minerva," Snape remarked.
"I – don't – like – snakes," Professor McGonagall muttered as Harry prised her off his arm.
"Er, Professor?" Hermione said hesitantly. Dumbledore was kneeling down
"I apologise for the fright I seem to have given your friend, young Speaker," the snake hissed.
Harry was just opening his mouth to reply that it was all right – Professor McGonagall had calmed down and let go, but was hovering warily behind him – but someone beat him to it.
"You just startled her." Dumbledore paused. "Could you tell us where we are?"
The snake drew nearer, and slid its forked tongue delicately over Dumbledore's hand. "You are of my Master's blood."
"Who is your master?"
"And yet you taste also of the others. You are the Leader."
"I don't understand you," Dumbledore said frowning.
"You are not the only Speaker here."
The snake's eyes turned on Harry, and he crouched low like Dumbledore had done.
"You are the Son of Earth, and yet you possess an ability of Water?"
The snake tasted his own hand. Harry repressed a shiver at the touch.
"It is not a mistake. The Power of the Speakers has been mixed up. This was not part of the Four's plan."
"Without wishing to sound rude," Harry tried to keep the impatience out of his voice, "would you mind not speaking in riddles?"
Dumbledore gave him a warning look, but the snake laughed – at least, that's what Harry deemed it to be.
"Son of Earth, all your questions shall be answered when you find the Four. I was sent to lead you to them."
Harry glanced sideways at Dumbledore, who nodded.
"All right. Just give us a minute, okay?" The snake nodded. Harry stood and looked round at the others.
"Excuse the language," he said in English, "but in the absence of Ron I feel I must say: What the bloody hell was that all about?"
Professor McGonagall gave a weak smile, but Snape and Hermione were looking at Dumbledore in complete shock.
"You're a Parselmouth?" Snape exclaimed disbelievingly.
Dumbledore nodded. "It's not one of my more publicised talents."
"Let's leave the interrogation for later, shall we?" Professor McGonagall interrupted. "Albus, what did it say?"
"It wants us to follow it. Apparently 'the Four' sent it to lead us to them."
"You really think it's going to lead us to the Founders?" Snape murmured quietly. "Albus, I don't like this."
"Well, we have two choices," Hermione cut in. "We could follow the snake and get some answers or try and find our own way out of here. Anyone want to put it to the vote?"
"All right," Snape snapped, "we follow the bleeding reptile. Just remember I was the voice of reason, all right?"
"No need to snap, Professor," Hermione replied, sounding hurt. "I was only trying to point out that we don't seem to have much of an option."
Dumbledore cleared his throat before Snape could reply. "I think we all agree trying to get some answers is our only option."
"Fine," Snape muttered. Harry and Professor McGonagall both nodded.
The forest was not as dense as it appeared on first glance – there was plenty of room to move between the trees. The mysterious light outside was dimmer in here, so everything looked green, even their hands in front of their faces. The slight breeze from outside didn't penetrate the greenery: the air was completely still.
Dumbledore led the way after the snake. Snape and Hermione, seemingly driven on by curiosity, followed shortly behind. Harry and Professor McGonagall were a little more reluctant. She was jittery and he was just thinking about the Forbidden Forest, and the sort of creatures Hagrid liked, and hoping they wouldn't end up as dinner.
They came to a clearing, and Dumbledore stopped dead, causing the other four to walk into him. Harry gaped.
Four adults – two men and two women – stood before them. They looked solid, but were all letting off a mild glow around the edges.
"It can't be," Dumbledore whispered.
The first man wore a very old-fashioned robe of rich red, with golden trimming and an under-robe in sunset orange. The sight, combined with his wild black hair and beard, was quite dazzling. Harry had to squint to look at him.
The other man was decked in emerald green and pale blue, with silver trimming. His eyes were a brilliant blue and his hair was tamed, golden brown and long, hanging down to his shoulders. His face gave the impression of a very shrewd man.
The first woman was dressed in a silken gown of canary yellow and grass green, with black trimming. She wore a friendly smile that lit up her pretty, freckled face and her hair was a dark auburn.
The last woman was dressed all in different shades of blue, with bronze trimming, and her dark brown hair was pinned up, emphasising the serious personality reflected in her sharp features, but her eyes sparkled nonetheless.
It was Godric Gryffindor who spoke first.
"The time has come."
Thanks to Wulfric Gryffindor, Mystiksnake and rosiegirl for reviewing!
AN:Okay, last chapter I said 'ancestors' three times when I meant descendants. I'm sure you all realised that was what I meant. Nevertheless I shall correct that tomorrow, when my eyes are not closing.