The Adventures of Gambit, Methos and a cursed one-eyed cat named Xander

Genre: crossover, series of related ficlets

Characters: Gambit (X-Men), Methos (Highlander), and Xander (Buffy)

Rating: R (to be safe – each ficlet varies)

Disclaimer: I don't own any character from any of the various fandoms. I'm not making $ from this.

Summary: Gambit's life takes a turn for the surreal. Then stuff happens.


81 – Experiment

"This day hasn't turned out like I had hoped so far."

Albus seemed old and tired, a frown turning down lips on a face normally smiling. He tugged at his own beard lightly.

"I had heard that it was recommended to travel with muggles by taking them through the floo, but I hadn't thought to investigate why. Most of the muggles who venture into our world usually do so by entering Diagon Alley through the Leaky Caldron, so it's not something that ever occurs."

"It was never my intention for anyone to be injured." He was sincere in that; Gambit could feel that much despite his psi-shields.

"Yes, yes," Methos was cranky, "but why are we here?"

Albus seemed taken a bit aback by Methos' abrupt words, but didn't comment on it. Instead he gathered his thoughts and turned to face Xander, speaking to the giant cat directly.

"Xander…as you know, your ability to shift from this form to human is dependant on the ambient magic available in the environment. That was not a problem at Hogwarts, for you had an abundance of magic at your fingertips just waiting to be called upon."

The old wizard gestured around them. "This location is quite the opposite. There is no ley-line running through here, no magical node, no ancient ward structure, and no embedded enchantments nor is there a population of hundreds of magical beings. The location itself is in many ways; muggle."

Gambit could feel Xander's mind focus, that oddly pulling in sensation that he associated with Xander's spells and then…nothing. That rush of energy and life that he simply knew as magic was missing.

"So…y' want Xander t' try t' shift into a human here? T' see if it can be done?"

Albus nodded his head before peering out over his glasses. "Quite simply, yes."

Gesturing to the giant cat, he smiled. "Xander's ability to pull in raw magic is astounding. I've never seen anyone with the gift have his skill or strength."

The psi-link fairly hummed with the force of Xander's concentration. His mind was focused so tightly that no other thoughts or emotions swirled from him. The trickle of magic flowing into the great cat was slow and steady, a continuous tiny dribble instead of the rushing flood he'd grown used to at Hogwarts.

Slowly, Xander's form began to shimmer and melt as he began to shift his forms. His spine shortened and his hips altered to allow him to stand up. The plains and angles of his face shifted and morphed, becoming a blend of feline and human, even as his limbs shifted more towards human. His paws slid towards becoming hands, toes extending into fingers. Narrow of waist and with a barrel chest, Xander stood there, half man-half cat.

At nearly eight feet tall, covered in dark fur and sporting fangs, claws, a tail, and a gleaming cat's eye, Xander reminded Gambit of those old Thunder Cat cartoons that Bobby and Jubilee used to watch on Saturday mornings.

"Gammm'it?"

Gambit grinned at his friend, recognizing his name despite the fact that the shape of Xander's mouth mangled his speech.

"Eh, homme. Y' look good." He chuckled lightly. "Like one of de Thunder Cats, heh?"

Good humored curiosity washed over the psi-link even as Methos chuckled.

"Ppppannnn'thhh'rrrro?"

Gambit cocked his head and studied Xander's humanoid form; at least how it looked when he shifted in a non-magical area. Personally he thought the resemblance was closer to a dark furred Sabertooth, but as Xander had never met Victor Creed, that reference wouldn't help.

"Sorta, homme." He shrugged and grinned. "Y' better lookin' though."

"Pppppprrrr't'yyyy caaaat."

Methos snorted in amusement and shook his head even as Gambit reached out and scratched Xander behind the ears.

"Oui, mon ami. Y' a pretty cat."


82 – Psi-Link

Gambit shuffled the cards in his hands one last time and then dealt out another hand of solitaire on top of the coffee table. He shifted in his seat, frowned, shifted again and then sighed. He turned over the first three cards, frowned and tried to focus on the cards.

It was no good. He was bored, restless and his nerves were beginning to fray thin.

Sparring was usually good to keep him occupied, or even practicing his tumbling and gymnastics in some large empty room. He couldn't indulge himself right now though. He was still a bit sore from straining his muscles when the portkey had dropped them off forty feet in the air. Oh, he was in good enough shape that he could fight if attacked, but he really did need time to let his muscles and ligaments rest a bit.

He wasn't in the mood to sit around drinking illegally brewed beer with Methos. It wasn't strong enough to get either of them drunk and he wasn't about to volunteer to listen to several hours of Methos' plans to pull the Wizarding World's heads out of their collective asses.

Sneaking around the castle was no fun because that little house elf Toppin followed him everywhere, and Gambit was pretty sure that he reported Gambit's every move to…someone.

And really, there was absolutely nothing to do in a magic castle if you didn't have magic yourself. There was no television, radio or internet. He didn't have a motorcycle he could hop on and spend the day riding. There were no movies, microwave popcorn or even a good trashy novel to sink his teeth into. He couldn't even pick up a phone and call Jake to have one of their infamous bitch and moan sessions.

Thanks to that greasy ass Snape, he didn't even have Aurora to cuddle and coo with anymore.

So,…bored.

Closing his eyes and leaning back in his chair, Gambit idly wondered where Xander was and what he was up too. He poked lightly at the spot in his brain that accessed the psi-link.

Normally, fussing with the psi-link resulted in gaining Xander's attention. Depending on how hard he mentally tugged at it he could end up with a distracted =huh?= to a full blown panicky crush-kill-destroy response. Either way, it was usually followed by babble.

Emotions sort of washed back and forth between them, like two shores on either side of the ocean. Thoughts seemed to be more like conversation; words and ideas that had to be directed and such. Xander had learned to send fairly complete images and they sometimes wound up in each others dreams.

This time, something different happened.

Gambit poked the psi-link and was sucked down into it. He'd heard of out-of-body experiences and he was willing to bet this was somewhat what it was like. His entire consciousness seemed to funnel down the link, leaving his body slumped on the chair in his suite of rooms.

He hurtled through a dizzying array of thoughts, emotions, colors and sounds until he washed ashore all battered and confused in the back of Xander's brain.

Gambit was far too stunned and shell-shocked to do anything more than gape stupidly as he suddenly found himself falling out of a chair to land with a crash on the cold stone floor. Startled exclamations were swiftly followed by Albus and Minerva leaning over him and helping him to his feet.

And why did everything look so strange and flat and the colors were all wrong! Plus, when did he get so short…and heavy? And why was Minerva calling him Xander?

=Gambit!=

He jerked in shock.

"*Xan? What de hell goin' on, homme?*"

=Whatever the hell you did to body-swap us, change it back! Quick! Before I blow the damn table to pieces! I don't know how to control your charge!=

And wow! That was one hell of a rush of panic and fear rushing up the psi-link and into his brain. Gambit glanced down at hands that were not his own and saw that he was wearing clothing that looked remarkably like the outfit Xander had put on this morning.

"Albus, homme? Would y' mind magicin' up a mirror for me, heh?"

Albus and Minerva exchanged glances and then turned to him in confusion. With a seemingly careless and effortless wave of his wand a mirror popped into existence next to him. Gambit turned to look, and sure enough, he found himself staring into human-Xander's face.

"Oh, Mon Dieu!"

"Gambit?"

He turned a shocky look up at Albus and nodded.

"Oui."

Closing Xander's one eye, Gambit reached into his head and poked the psi-link again. Once more, he found himself sucked into a funnel of emotions, thoughts, colors and sound. Dizzy and vaguely nauseous, Gambit opened his eyes to find himself back in their suite of rooms and sitting in front of a brightly glowing coffee table.

"Merde!"

Wide-eyed with panic, he leapt off the chair and ran for the hallway leading into their bedrooms. He had barely made it around the corner and behind cover when the living room exploded in a wash of heat, flames and bio-kinetic energy.

"Bon Dieu, Gambit promise never t' be bored again, heh?"


83 – Musings part 2

"Oui, it was strange an' weird, mais…Gambit think it was a mutant thing."

Xander and Methos exchanged looks and shrugged.

"What, exactly, do you mean? A mutant thing?"

Gambit paced back and forth a bit, his mind whirling too fast to really pin everything down.

"De link…it was forged by magic, true. That's not what keeps it goin' though. Gambit keeps it goin', wit' his mutant psi-abilities." He ran his hands through his hair, tugged on a few locks. "Not strong an' powerful. Non, de charge is strong, mais not de psi powers. Got great psi-shields an' a very shaky hold on de charm, mais…never been strong enough t' need real trainin'."

Methos reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose, sighed and looked up in exasperated confusion.

"So…you think that maybe the magic link is making your…psi abilities stronger? Or maybe just because you're using them more…sort of like getting stronger muscles when you exercise?"

Gambit paused, tilted his head and thought about it.

"Maybe. De White Queen, she one of de strongest telepaths Gambit know. In de top five of de whole world, actually. She ended up following a mental link right into de Iceman's body. Took him over for a while until she could get back t' her own body."

Gambit turned and sent an apologetic look over at Xander.

"Gambit nowhere near strong as de White Queen, though. Should never have happened."

Xander reached up and rubbed at the back of his head and neck. "Look. I'm not mad or anything. Okay, it was confusing and surprising and all, but…" he grimaced, "I'm more worried about it happening again because I can't control your charge."

Sighing Xander shrugged and shook his head. "It was scary, you know? I mean, I don't know how you deal with it all the time and I live in your head."

"Oh?" Methos' face was one of pure curiosity.

Xander nodded and gestured around the room. "Everything was like…vibrating. I could sort of feel it, just…humming and being right there."

"Vibrating?"

Methos was confused, but Gambit was nodding.

"He was feeling the potential kinetic energy locked inside all of de inanimate objects. De charge unlocks that potential an' excites de molecules until…Boom!"

"Ah…"

"That's why Gambit thinks we should put together de portal spell as soon as possible an' have Albus send us all t' Gambit's home dimension. We need t' get a telepath t' either separate us…"

Both Gambit and Xander cringed at that.

"…or Gambit needs t' learn t' control it. Or Xander needs t' learn how t' deal wit' Gambit's charge."

Sighing, Methos nodded. "Okay. I'll spend some time meditating on it and see if I can't reproduce the documents we sent out. My memory is fairly good if I focus hard enough."

Xander nodded too, but hesitated a moment. "Guys…I'd like to try and take care of this snake demon thing before we leave. I don't like the idea of leaving a dangerous monster around to attack innocent kids."

The other two nodded in agreement.


84 – Staff Meeting part 2

"…Mandrakes are coming along just fine. I've been giving them my personal attention. As soon as they are ready for harvesting, I shall do so myself just to be certain it's done correctly."

"Wonderful. Thank you, Professor Sprout."

Albus stood up and gazed around the room at the people sitting at the table and sighed. He looked old and tired for a brief moment before he stood up straight and began to speak.

"After researching the clues, hints and evidence I have come to the conclusion that the beast sliding through Hogwarts walls and terrorizing its children is a basilisk."

Immediately, people began clamoring to be heard as they shouted out denials or ideas. Finally, Minerva waved her wand and made a loud popping sound. Everyone hushed and she turned concerned eyes to the old wizard.

"Headmaster, surely…" she trailed off, upset and worried. "None of the students have died."

Albus nodded and looked over his glasses at her. "Indeed."

"Basilisks are fearsome creatures created by the darkest of magics. Unnatural, they are born of a chicken's egg and hatched under a toad. Known as the King of Serpents, a basilisk is frighteningly intelligent and vicious with the deadliest of poisons in its fangs. The most dangerous aspect a basilisk possesses is a murderous stare."

Methos leaned forward, "Murderous stare?"

"Yes," Albus tugged lightly at his beard. "A basilisk's stare can kill. One must make eye contact with it, of course. I believe that's why we had such a hard time figuring out what the monster was. No one has died." He nodded at Minerva to acknowledge her point.

Xander was the first to understand. "It was the lack of direct eye contact, wasn't it?"

Albus paused, perhaps in surprise that Xander figured it out so fast, but nodded. "Yes. I believe that all of the victims so far have viewed the basilisk through a reflection, thus diluting its murderous stare into a form of the medusa curse."

Everyone just sort of stared at each other in horror. Gambit could feel their almost hopeless fear at the very idea of such a monster against his psi-shields. Xander just radiated determination and curiosity.

"So…how do you kill one of these basil-snake thingies? Regular slice-n-dice? Some explosives? Candles, stinky herbs and chanting? Oh, and how big is this thing gonna be anyway? Big enough to eat pets, people, horses?"

Everyone turned to stare at Xander. Some were a little more incredulous than others.

"What? I'm a demon hunter. It's what I do. And you can't tell me you plan to let this thing run free around your school."

It was Albus that answered him.

"Indeed, you are correct. I do not plan to let the basilisk have free reign over the school. As for killing one, I suppose that it could be cut just as any other snake, though it would be very dangerous to get so close. As I said, its stare is as deadly as its bite. The safest way known to kill one is with the sound of a cock's crow."

Gambit blinked at that. "Cock's crow…y' mean a rooster?"

Albus nodded.

"Yes, quite so. The crowing of a rooster is one of the only known ways to kill such a beast. It is speculated that this mystical weakness is due to it being hatched from a chicken's egg."

"Ah."

"Well, that makes the kind of sense that is not, but that's dark magic for you. Always with the strangeness and weirdness."

Gambit nodded at Xander. He didn't understand dark magic rules either.


85 – Roosters

Gambit and Methos were on their way to spar with each other and whichever suits of armor wanted to join in when they ran into a very upset Hagrid. The half-giant was carrying a dead chicken. Well, a rooster to be exact.

"Eh…Hagrid, homme." Gambit gestured to the dead bird hanging from the man's huge hand. "What's wit' de dead bird?"

Hagrid seemed startled for a moment and looked down guiltily at the rooster.

"Well, I was jus' goin' round ter the chic'n coop ter see how many roosters we had on hand, like. Figured that if'n there weren't too many tha' I'd need ter go get some more for the…eh,"

Hagrid made a big show out of looking around for spies and then leaned down to whisper in a loud voice, "…plans ter kill off the ya-know-wha'."

Gambit and Methos exchanged looks. Gambit could tell that Methos was trying not to grin like a fool, mostly likely for the same reason that Gambit wanted to snicker like mad. Hagrid, no matter how hard he tried, just wasn't discrete.

"And that led to you carrying around a dead chicken…how?"

Hagrid shook his head and waved the dead bird around almost frantically.

"That's jus' it. This ain't no dead chic'n. It's a rooster. All three of the Hogwarts roosters are dead. Throats all slit, like."

Methos grew very still and held up one hand.

"Hagrid…how many chickens…hens specifically, were killed?"

Hagrid frowned. "Well…none, actually."

Methos and Gambit shared another glance, this one much darker.

"That means that someone knows about the basilisk and wants to protect it."

"No," Hagrid seemed appalled at the idea. "Who would do something like that?"

Gambit shrugged and gestured to the rooster. "Gambit don't like de thought either, but Methos has a point, homme. De only safe way t' kill this thing is wit' a rooster an' all de roosters are suddenly killed? It's very suspicious. They weren't attacked by an animal, right? Y' said it y'self, they throats were slit…wit' a knife."

Hagrid stared at the rooster, his frown growing into a look of horror.

"Tha' means tha' this basilisk isn't jus' some wild one tha' got lost an' took shelter in the castle. Some dark wizard must of put it here in the hopes tha' someone would die."

Gambit and Methos both nodded in agreement.

"Hagrid…we need to bring this to Albus' attention right away. Also, I think you should probably plan to order a whole bunch of roosters and then find some place for them that's well protected against intruders."

Hagrid looked up, his expression slipping from horror to strong determination.

"Yer right, of course. The Headmaster needs t' hear of this right away."


86 – The Outsiders

=Gambit?=

Xander's mental voice was a mix of confusion and mild suppressed panic.

=Um…can you please come here and help me out a little. I'm not sure what to do.=

Gambit looked up from the floor plans of the castle that he was going over with Methos and Filius Flitwick.

"*Xander, homme? Where y' at, mon chat?*"

=Um…in a nook by the main stairs off the sixth floor. That's not the problem, though.=

"*Oh? What de problem then?*"

=Well…I'm sort of being sobbed all over by some little kid. You know the one…with the glasses that could hear the demon-snake talking? Him.=

Gambit cringed. A crying kid. That was bad. Almost as bad as a crying femme. He was very tempted to pretend to be too busy and leave his furry friend to deal with it all by himself.

=Come on Gambit, please! He just sorta came up to me, hiccupped and then threw his arms around me and began crying into my fur…snot and all. I have no idea what's wrong and if I shift, I'll probably freak him out. Come talk to him. Find out what's wrong.=

With a sigh, Gambit pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. He looked over at the other two men.

"Gambit be back, heh. He go help Xander wit' a problem real quick." Methos nodded his head absently, even as Gambit muttered "hope it be quick, an'way."

It didn't take him long to get to the nook on the sixth floor. It was almost as if the magic in the moving staircases knew where he was going and were trying to be helpful. And with magic, who knew, perhaps they were.

The nook itself was a fairly large space, probably meant to contain a large statue or functional art piece. It was currently empty of artwork and instead held a horse sized panther curled around a small little boy that had his face buried in Xander's shoulder, his fists curled around handfuls of soft black fur. Xander was purring and it was ridiculously loud, more so because the sound echoed off of all of the stonework.

Silently, Gambit slid down the wall to sit by Xander's forepaws. He pulled out a deck of cards and quietly shuffled them between his hands as he patiently waited for Harry's crying to slow down and his breathing to even out.

Finally, after the boy had been calm for a while he spoke in a hushed voice.

"Hey petite. Y' ready t' talk about it yet?"

The boy shifted a bit, leaning hard against Xander still, but turned slightly so that he could watch Gambit shuffle his cards without looking directly in his face.

"You know that the first dueling club meeting was being held tonight?"

Gambit nodded. "Oui, de moron was gonna run it."

The boy paused, his face twisting up in confusion. "The moron?" He tilted his head. "Oh! You mean Lockhart…yeah, him. Him and Snape."

Gambit made a face. The boy nodded in agreement and made a face too.

"Anyway. They made me get up on stage to duel Malfoy. Malfoy's a snotty little prat, but he conjured up a snake. I…" the boy paused and then took a deep breath, "I talked to the snake. It was frightened and angry, but I told it not to bite anyone. The snake wasn't too happy with that since it was planning to bite Justin. It listened to me though and moved to slither away."

Gambit tipped his head and glanced over at the boy. The child's face was a picture of confused hurt. "That's a good thing, right?"

The boy shrugged. "I thought so, but no one believes me that I was telling the snake to leave Justin alone. They think I was telling it to bite people."

Confused hurt, painful betrayal and resigned depression battered at his psi-shields.

"They all accused me of being the Heir of Slytherin, of being evil and dark and…" the boy sucked in a wavery breath of air that was half sob, "they said it was just a matter of time until I started killing people."

Gambit sat there a bit and just considered everything that he heard and waited for the boy to calm down again.

"It's hard being different." Gambit turned his head fully and reached up to slide his sunglasses down his nose. Burning red on black eyes glowed in the dim light. "These eyes marked Gambit as different back home. They called him Le Diable Blanc. The White Devil."

He looked away again and began shuffling his cards.

"Bein' different doesn't make y' evil or bad or wrong. Just different, heh?" With a sigh, Gambit tilted his head back against the wall. "Don' mean it don' hurt when people be cruel an' ignorant."

"Did people hurt you when they called you names?"

Gambit paused, shifted and then nodded.

"Oui. It hurt. Mais Gambit find out who his real friends be an' who just lookin' for good times wit' easy ways. Real friends stick by y' durin' de hard times, while de others fade away from y' an' watch t' see if y' sink or swim."

He shuffled his cards and let the boy think about that for a bit.

"Best advice Gambit can give y' is t' use this time t' figure out who will stand by y' side an' who won'. Go ahead an' forgive de ones that won', but don' ever try t' count on them in bad times until they prove they changed."

A pointed look at the boy over his sunglasses.

"Also, find out all about what makes y' different. Don' need or want t' have anymore surprises. De people here think that talkin' t' snakes is bad, but de people here have lots of really dumb an' stupid ideas of what is right an' wrong. Bigotry, bias an' hatred run rampant here. Look into other places when y' research. Bet y' find other places don' hold such backward views on it."

A shrug.

"Never did like Europe, me." Gambit shook his head. "Most bizarre mix of modernization, conservatism and unfounded elitism y' ever see. Prefer New York, Chicago, LA and of course, New Orleans."

The boy seemed to be much less upset and more thoughtful now. Tired, but no longer feeling like he was ready to shatter at any moment.

"*Let de boy cuddle y' a bit. He'll pull himself together an' then wander off t' bed.*"

=Yeah. Thanks Gambit.=

And then Gambit stood up and slid out of the nook, leaving the boy surrounded and protected by a loudly purring giant cat.


87 – The Oath

Gambit knew that Methos was going to do something outrageous. The immortal had been furious over the events that happened during the so-called dueling club and had listened with grinding teeth when Gambit and Xander relayed what had happened afterwards when Harry Potter had cried all over Xander. His mood hadn't improved since then. In fact, it got worse.

An overblown article light on facts but heavy on the speculation and the slandering of Harry's reputation started out the day. It continued with the vast majority of the students actively shunning the child and talking loudly and with derision about him. Rumors ran wild and the staff did little to nothing to contain or control it.

Harry was visibly devastated and his tiny circle of friends and supporters tried to shield him, but there were not enough of them and far too many detractors. That the adults seemed to condone the attitude of public social shunning only fueled the fire.

Methos spent a large chunk of time in feverish research on the subject of parselmouths in various cultures, dueling and other varied subjects. By the time he was done, he had written a scathing letter to the editor of the paper that called into question the journalistic integrity of the owner, the editor and the author of the article. He also clearly outlined the facts of the events, the historical truth about parseltongue and listed several famous wizards and witches that were purported to have the gift.

Then Methos hit the Great Hall like an avalanche coming to crash down on everyone's head. He slammed open the double doors at the end of the Hall with a loud bang, drawing everyone's attention and causing all the suits of armor to stand straight in crashing and clanging salute. Righteous indignation poured from his very being.

"I know that all of you are aware of what happened during that debacle masquerading as a dueling club." Methos' voice rang with disdain. "Or…at least you think you know what happened."

Silence echoed around the room like a living thing as everyone stared at Methos. No one even chewed, they just sat there mouths agape. Gambit wasn't sure how Albus would react to Methos' little speech, but the show would probably be a good one.

"Though it was shoddily arranged and completely unorganized," Methos shot a foul glare at Lockhart. "and certain teachers used the event to encourage foul mouthed and spoiled little prats to show off and try to lord their social-status over the other students." Here, Methos' glare shifted to Snape who merely sneered in return.

"That wasn't the big event, though…was it?"

Everyone began to glance over to Harry, only to realize what they were doing and have their eyes snap back to Methos.

"No. The big event was the large venomous snake and the shunning of one of your peers." Now the stares and looks were more prominent.

"Did you all shun the arrogant and foolish child that summoned the venomous snake and then set it loose upon his fellows?" Methos glared around the Great Hall. "No? Well, perhaps you have shunned the incompetent and moronic so-called teacher who irritated and angered the snake before dropping it directly in front of a defenseless student?"

Lockhart tried to fluster and huff, but everyone ignored him beyond a few contemptuous looks.

"Oh, I think I see. You have decided to shun the one student who can speak to snakes. The one that willingly risked his own reputation in public in order to compel the venomous snake to move away from his fellow students and not bite anyone."

Some people had the grace to look ashamed. Methos merely plastered a falsely thoughtful look on his face and nodded his head.

"Right. Because logic, common sense and good manners aren't needed here. This is the Wizarding World, so obviously we'll be going with superstition, bigotry and lies."

"Well," a voice spoke out from the Ravenclaw table, "how are we supposed to know what he said to that snake? I mean, none of us can understand parseltongue. Potter could have been saying anything."

"Did you ask him?" Methos' tone said loudly that he doubted the student had bothered.

Stepping further into the Great Hall, Methos strode up to the Gryffindor table and stopped in front of a completely embarrassed Harry Potter.

"Potter. Stand up, let everyone see you boy." Methos stood next to him, his hand on the boy's shoulder. "Ever hear of an oath?"

"Um…yeah, but…well, not really. No real details, that is."

Methos nodded. "It's when someone swears upon their magic. The statement must be true, completely true, or the consequence is the loss of their magic." Methos paused and looked into the child's eyes, wanting him to understand to seriousness of the situation. "Would you be willing to swear an oath?"

Harry Potter looked around the Great Hall then up at Methos. Nodded. He pulled his wand and held it up.

"I, Harry Potter, swear on my magic that I did not tell that snake to attack Justin. I also swear that, to the best of my knowledge, I am not the Heir of Slytherin."

Harry's wand lit up in a flash of magic. Immediately, the students began to mutter and talk. At least until Methos patted Harry on the shoulder and began to walk away. Silence descended as he reached the doors to the Great Hall.

"Now…don't you all feel really ashamed? Do you regret your arrogance, ignorance and wrongful sense of superiority?" He looked around. "No, I guess you don't. You're wizards and witches, after all."

And then he was gone.


88 – Basilisk Hunting

It hadn't taken long to decide on a plan of action.

The snake demon was obviously moving through the walls via a series of ancient water pipes and air ducts that were meant to move clean air and water through the castle. Some of the pipes and ducts were still in use by the castle; others had their magic lying dormant. Sometime in the recent past, the castle had been retrofit with modern plumbing…or the magical equivalent thereof. While this allowed for a greater number of newer and more efficient bathrooms, it also left a lot of old water pipes and cisterns empty and dry.

Perfect for a giant snake demon to slither through.

The only problem was figuring out just where the thing was making its nest. There were a lot of blank spots on the old maps and technical drawings of the castle. Some were caused by missing building plans; others were there because of changes made to the building without being completely recorded. And if rumors were to be believed, some areas of the castle were never recorded at all.

So, how did they decide to resolve all this mess? Easy. Use magic to punch a hole through a wall into one of the old access tunnels that ran through the heart of the castle. From there, the whole group; Albus, Severus, Minerva, Filius, Methos, Xander and Gambit tramped through the tunnels, winding down further and further into the belly of the castle. Several crates full of roosters floated along behind them.

Eventually, the tunnel branched. One branch was fairly small, a side access pipe instead of a tunnel. Sound echoed eerily and it was hard to tell exactly where this dank and dusty spot was in relation to the rest of the castle. Most likely somewhere in Slytherin territory.

Finally it was decided to split the group up. Filius would go with Minerva and Xander in cat form down the smaller pipe while the rest of the group continued along in the larger main access tunnel. Gambit wasn't too thrilled with the idea, but it really was the best one they had.

So he had followed behind Methos who somehow managed not to run his sword through Severus' back despite the snippy nasty remarks the man constantly made. Gambit was fairly certain that if the demon snake tried to eat the greasy asshole, that Methos would let it. Still, the path wound ever downwards, dark and dank, crates of floating roosters bringing up the rear.

Then the tunnel spilled out into a dank dungeon-like room with a high ceiling and rough worked stone walls. The bones of lots of small dead animals littered the floor and Gambit couldn't help but wonder how many of them were wild and how many were lost pets. The far wall, though, was the most interesting.

There was a huge circular door. It easily stood two and a half stories tall. It had the most elaborate and bizarre locking mechanism that Gambit had ever seen. And as a professional thief, that said a lot. It seemed that a series of iron snakes barred the door, holding it tightly closed. Like most magical locks, there was no place to use a pick.

Albus and Severus both cast a long series of unlocking spells at the door. Gambit was actually impressed at the number and variety of them. The door, however, remained locked and closed.

"Want Gambit t' blow it?"

"Hmmm? What do you mean, dear boy?"

Gambit shrugged, glanced over at the door and looked back at the wizard.

"Gambit charge de snakes an' de snakes go boom. No snakes an' de door will open. Easy squeezy; home in time for pie."

Severus, of course, disparaged Gambit's ability to do anything since magic hadn't worked. Albus was concerned with the use of explosions when the full weight of the castle sat over their heads. And if Severus didn't watch his nasty mouth, Gambit was going to charge the man's own wand, shove it up his nose and watch the guy's head explode.

The debate ended when several loud thumps and shouts could be heard coming from the other side of the door. It was hard to make out exactly what was happening, the walls and door being far too thick for sound to travel clearly. The sudden ringing bang was easy to hear though. It was the rush of thoughts and emotions pouring along the psi-link that really caught his attention, though.

"Xander's in there! Somethin' big is happenin'."

He turned wide eyes on Methos and watched the immortal's face clear of expression and turn hard with determination.

"Gambit! Blow the door!"

Ignoring Albus and Severus, Gambit responded to Methos' order and ran up to the door. He put his hand on the first snake he could reach and concentrated hard. He needed to charge all of the snakes with a low even charge. He didn't want to pull the castle down on their heads, but he needed the door open. Finally, it was ready.

"Take cover!"

He and Methos pulled the two wizards back away from the door and ducked down behind some old debris. Two heartbeats later, the charge on the door blew with an echoing bang. Dust rained down from the ceiling and a grinding, groaning noise could be heard.

Gambit didn't even wait for the dust to settle; he dashed back towards the door, kicked away some bits of stone and began to pull on the doors. They were so big and so heavy that they barely budged.

"Gambit, my dear boy. Move aside. I think now is the time for magic."

And with that, Albus pointed his wand at the doors, said some strange word and they swung open easily and swiftly. Weapons ready, the foursome walked through the doors ready for anything…only to come up short.

The room was a strange combination of throne room and dungeon. A narrow length of stonework walkway lined with snake statues ran down the middle of a water reservoir. At the far end was a huge statue of a man's head, its mouth gaping open with a monstrously large dead snake draping out of it like some grotesque tongue. Filius, Minerva and Xander were standing there next to it, clothes dusty, hair disheveled and with several angry roosters with their feathers ruffled fluttering about and making a god-awful racket.

Xander turned and leveled a fairly mild glare at Gambit.

"We'd just gotten the stupid roosters quiet and contained when you blew up the door and freaked them all out again." He rolled his eye. "Thanks ever so much for that."

Gambit grinned. "No problem, mon ami."


89 – Preparations

Albus would be casting the portal spell for them soon.

Xander was a little leery of leaving such a magic rich environment. Understandable when you considered that his ability to become human depended on having access to a certain level of magic. Gambit just hoped that the next world they went to was the one they wanted. His world.

The sudden shifting of how the psi-link worked had really freaked out both himself and Xander. Body-swapping was only funny in the movies and it was downright dangerous for Xander to land in Gambit's body and lose control of his bio-kinetic charge. It was Gambit's hope that Charles Xavier or Jean Grey-Summers could help.

"Hey, guys!" Methos' voice called from the next room. "Come tell me what you think."

Wandering over Gambit found Methos sitting at a small writing table. He was leaning over a sheet of parchment.

"I wanted to send a time-delayed letter to the muggleborn students here. I figure if I set it to be delivered the next morning…well, we'll be gone so Albus won't be able to retaliate."

Gambit and Xander exchanged looks. "Um…I don't know if I like the sound of that. What's the letter say that you think it would require retaliation?"

Methos smirked, picked up the parchment and read the letter aloud.

Dear Muggleborn Student;

My name is Methos and I was one of the travelers that recently stayed here at Hogwarts. As a true outsider here, I was able to see this world from a rather unique perspective. As an adult, I was experienced enough to ask certain questions that would not occur to a child to ask. The things I discovered are things that I feel you should be aware of.

Did you realize that by being muggleborn you are automatically relegated to second-class citizen status? This means that you are legally barred from certain jobs, positions and advancements in both the government and business. As a muggleborn you cannot become Minister of Magic, a member of the Wizengamot or the Head of a Ministry Department.

While you are allowed to be employed by a business or rent a small flat, you are barred from owning a business or land. Your taxes will be significantly higher and your pay scale will be significantly lower than your pureblood co-workers even if you are better trained and qualified. Individually, it doesn't sound too terrible, but taken together this will limit the amount of money you can earn, relegating you to a life of poverty and deprivation.

Also, if you are accused of breaking a law, you will pay the highest fines and suffer the harshest punishments. Unlike your pureblood counterparts, you cannot purchase a pardon and escape Azkaban. This double standard will follow you everywhere.

Just as you carry a social and political stigma, so will your children and grandchildren.

Research and statistics show that only 2% of all muggleborn students that graduate from Hogwarts stay in the British Wizarding World. Some of them return to the muggle world, but others often leave to live in the United States, Australia or New Zealand. It should be noted that, unlike the European Wizarding communities, those 3 countries have no restrictions on muggleborns, nor do they have laws that show extreme bias against them.

I would advise you all to look into relocating yourselves outside of Britain and the European Wizarding communities. All you will find here is bias, bigotry, hatred and scorn. However it doesn't have to be that way. You can find a life of happiness and fulfillment that includes magic. Just not here.

Don't take my word for it. Look into these claims. Research the laws here and in other countries. Talk with other muggleborns, those who stayed in the Wizarding World and those who didn't. Don't just accept that things are the way they are supposed to be. You are better than that and deserve more.

Methos

Gambit and Xander exchanged looks before grimacing.

"It's harsh. Probably true, but harsh."

Methos shrugged and nodded. "True, but it's better that they realize this now and can take the time to make plans. As it stands, most of them graduate and are shocked to find that the bias is not just schoolyard bullies and house rivalries."


90 – The Portal part 2

Albus' casting of the dimensional portal felt different than Cassandra's casting. The spell was basically the same, and had only been modified slightly. This was partly because Albus' vast wealth of magical knowledge far outstripped Xander's or Cassandra's and it was also partly because he had a much finer control over his abilities. He also had Minerva and Filius to help with the preparations.

Oddly enough, no one had ever taken magical research in this direction on this world, so the entire concept was new and fresh. Albus predicted that the research notes of the spell and recordings of the actual casting would be studied intensely. Theoretically this would open up whole new avenues of research if the Ministry didn't ban or restrict it.

Gambit didn't really care about all that, although he supposed that it was a fair trade. Xander was walking away with a much greater understanding of both runes and arithmancy after working with Albus to recreate and refine the spell. And that was on top of the shape-shifting skills he had worked so hard to learn from Minerva.

Still, Gambit was glad to be leaving. Any goodwill they had gained from helping to kill the basilisk would be gone if they killed Lockhart or Snape, and that was becoming a bigger danger with each day they stayed. Then again, the danger of Methos trying to start a revolution was growing daily as well.

Gambit didn't have to worry about any of that now. The SUV was packed with all of their things and supplies, including a large pile of basilisk skin that Xander was sure would make great armor. Something about snakeskin vests lined with Kevlar or ceramic plates.

Xander had shape-shifted already since he wasn't sure how much magic would be available in the next world and he wanted to be human for as long as possible. Because of that, all three of them were planning to ride inside the SUV. Potentially dangerous, but not too much.

"Gambit!"

Looking away from watching the giant blue portal swirling around in a funnel shape in front of them, he frowned at Methos.

"Buckle up! Albus can't hold the portal forever. We gotta go now."

Rolling his eyes, Gambit buckled up the seatbelt and braced himself for impact. Xander whooped in delight from the backseat and Methos started up the SUV. Swirling winds buffeted the large vehicle as they aimed down the twisting maw of the hole in reality.

Grinning like loons, they crossed the threshold.