Chapter 1 – Sarah Discovers the Wizarding World
Sarah Williams was delighted to learn that more than one magical world existed alongside the mundane world as she knew it.
She had been a reasonably normal girl for much of her life although she always had a love of fantasy. Much of that fascination came when her parents divorced and she looked for an escape from the pain and confusion she felt. Her mother went on to become a moderately successful actress but forgetful parent, while her father met and married another woman who wanted to be a wife, mother and home-maker.
Sadly, the young teenager felt on the outside of the new family, and believed that her father, step-mother and their baby son was the real family, while she was a tolerated yet not necessarily welcome part of the home. She resented that feeling and retreated more and more into her fantasy world, acting out the role of the beautiful and powerful princess or the spirited heroine.
On one day when she was particularly frustrated and ill-tempered, she accidentally wished her brother away to the goblins using a line from a book she had read, and she was horrified to discover that fantasy sometimes had a basis in reality. However, she stubbornly assumed the role of the courageous heroine and won him back from the wicked Goblin King, meeting and making unusual friends along the way.
Through her adventures in the Labyrinth, Sarah realized that life wasn't always fair and that sometimes things weren't what they seemed. Her parent's divorce might not have been fair to her, but she was responsible for her reactions to it. She decided that perhaps her father's second wife (who went by her middle name of Karen rather than her first name of Irene) wasn't quite the evil step-mother Sarah had made her out to be and tried to treat her with a tiny bit of friendship and respect. She was shocked and a little ashamed to discover how easygoing and forgiving Karen could be.
When Sarah requested to take self-defense classes, not liking that she had frequently felt helpless during her journey through the Labyrinth, she was surprised that Karen supported her, persuading her father that no young girl should be defenseless in this day and age. Karen took her to visit various judo, aikido and karate centers until they eventually agreed on karate and an instructor. Once she began, Sarah quickly moved from a white belt to yellow to green and then slowly worked through three level of brown belts until she finally earned her first Dan; her first black belt.
Sarah found that karate-do, the way of the empty hand, not only kept her physically fit, but helped balance her energy as well as control her touchy and explosive temper. When she felt herself becoming angry, the breathing exercises she learned helped her manage it. And if breathing didn't help, the daily exercises let her release the negative energy.
As she moved through high school, Sarah found that playing other people had lost some of its luster, and she began looking for other outlets for her creative energies. She tried painting, but while her artwork had interesting subjects, her execution was merely passable. She tried singing, and although her voice captivated her audiences, she decided that it wasn't fulfilling enough to pursue professionally. Finally, in a creative writing class in high school, she discovered that her imaginative writing took her readers to new lands and introduced them to new cultures and creatures, leaving them wanting more. Perhaps it wasn't too surprising that some of her more popular characters were based on individuals she met in the Labyrinth.
Sarah majored in English and Creative Writing at college. Once established in her first dormitory room, she was amazed to find that not only did she have a human college roommate, but inhuman ones as well. The first was Deidre, a young woman who found her first time away from home to be the perfect opportunity to drink, party and explore relationships away from her parents' supervision. As a result, she wasn't in their room all that much, and when she was there, she and Sarah had little in common.
The other roommates were the more interesting ones. Sarah kept seeing something out of the corner of her eye and hearing sounds when no one should be around. Her books seemed to move on her own when she was out of the room and her pencils somehow always wound up on the floor. When they started getting bite marks as well, she had enough.
"OK, come out come out wherever you are" she said to the room after seeing a movement in her peripheral vision. She could have sworn she heard a giggle.
"Or should I say come out come out whoever you are" she chuckled. To her surprise, a little pale green figure only a foot tall slipped into her line of vision.
It stood looking at her inquisitively and then grinned broadly when it realized she could actually see him. "Hey Lady" he finally said, nodding his head.
"A goblin" she thought looking into its yellow eyes and began her breathing exercises. After several deep breaths she ventured a smile at the little figure. "Hello there. I'm Sarah. What should I call you?"
"Everyone knows the Lady Sarah" he said in a high-pitched voice, as if surprised she didn't know that. "You can call me Grep" he added as an afterthought.
"Well hello Grep. It's a pleasure to meet you. Do you live here at the university?"
"Grep lives here now since this is where the Lady is. The Lady leaves and Grep leaves." He shrugged disinterested and began opening her backpack, looking for anything amusing or enticing.
"Oh. Um, you're here because of me?"
"The Lady needs to be protected" came his muffled voice from inside her backpack. He emerged with a large eraser and bit it, then grinned. "Chewy!"
"Are you my protector, Grep?" she asked with an amused grin at the little goblin. He didn't even come up to her knee.
"Grep and Broul" he said around a mouthful of eraser.
"Broul? There's another one here? Where is Broul?" Sarah turned and looked around the room.
"Not here. Sometimes we's both here and sometimes we's not. Today just Grep." After eating her eraser, he wandered to her roommate's closet and began rearranging the shoes, pushing to the back under a blanket on the floor. She watched with amusement as he nodded with satisfaction when the chosen shoe was thoroughly hidden.
Over the next year, she found that Grep liked to knock things over and hide things (mostly her roommate's items) while Broul, a darker green goblin only two inches taller than Grep liked to leave crumbs of anything he could find in her roommate's bed. Neither of them played tricks on Sarah, although she frequently found bite marks on her possessions and had to furnish them with a steady supply of erasers. She found that they also liked potato chips (Broul always kept one to break in Deidre's bed), cookies and ramen noodles. After finding the waste basket in the common room overturned several times, she thought they might also like the leftovers they found in there as well.
Broul liked to sit in her lap while she worked sometimes, playing with rubber bands or paper clips while Grep could frequently be found on her shoulder, playing with her hair, frequently tying it in loops and knots. To her own surprise, Sarah didn't mind the little goblins. They sometimes entertained her with happenings Underground, such as what happened after a goblin named Brastang suggested a chicken festival. The larger goblins had chicken herding games while the smaller ones had chicken riding contests. Their antics became part of her creative writing assignments and went into the short stories she was accumulating in the hopes of finding a publisher some day.
"Sarah, you can't spend every weekend working on homework, practicing your martial arts and reading" warned Deidre for the umpteenth time. "You need to get out and date more!"
"I do date sometimes, Deidre" Sarah returned calmly. This was a familiar discussion that occurred every few weeks. "I just don't date seriously and romance has to take a back seat to my grades." She smiled at the other girl.
Deidre shook her head at Sarah. "You do attract men, Sar. With that raven hair, large brown doe eyes and your trim figure, men do seem fascinated." She was a petite, but plump blonde herself who seemed to attract the party animals..and liked it that way. What was odd was that her beautiful roommate rarely had men ask her for a third date. In fact, they usually just looked at her with either fearful or regretful glances, and kept their distance. Neither she nor Sarah were sure why, but as none of her dates had been more than a pleasant way to spend a few free hours, Sarah didn't seem too offended by it. Instead, she put more energy into her studies.
Sarah continued her karate studies with her academia, eventually earning her second Dan black belt. Grep and Broul were uncomfortable with her sparring, and she had to promise them she wouldn't be hurt and that her sparring partners were actually helping her to improve her skill. Even so, they grimaced every time she went to a class, as if they were failing in their duty.
During her second winter term at college, her father was transferred to the London branch of their corporate offices for a year, and Karen and Toby planned to follow when Toby completed that school year. They offered Sarah a home with them as well, so she investigated British universities, then applied to and was accepted by Royal Holloway, University of London in their English program which included a creative writing department.
"Guys" she said to the goblins one evening, "what will you do when I go to England?"
Broul looked at her and cocked his head. "What do you mean, Lady?"
"Well I won't be here anymore. I'll be very far away, across an ocean. What will you two do?"
Grep and Broul exchanged puzzled looks. "We's go where the Lady goes" Grep finally said confused. "Once the Lady is settled, Grep and Broul will be there."
"Oh." Sarah smiled at their confused looks. "Silly me, it didn't occur to me that you would go to another country to protect me."
Broul shrugged. One Aboveground place was the same as another as far as he was concerned. Grep was a little more troubled. "The Lady wants Grep and Broul…doesn't she?" he asked in a small voice.
"Of course I do! I'm glad to know you'll both be there" she replied with a warm smile and Grep beamed back relieved.
Once she arrived in England, Sarah had to overcome some initial uneasiness at hearing men speaking with accents similar to what she remembered the Goblin King using. She eventually stopped jumping when a male voice with a pronounced British accent said her name and settled in to her classes and enjoyed exploring the London sights with her family. At the end of the year, when the rest of the family returned to the United States, Sarah decided that she enjoyed her classes and the London community so well, she would stay and finish her degree there.
Once she was by herself in London, Sarah spent more time exploring the non-tourist sites. She was surprised to discover that Grep or Broul seemed to follow her as she explored, sometimes riding in her backpack, sometimes just appearing in her peripheral vision. When she asked about it, the only answer was a shrug and another comment about "protecting" her.
She had an opportunity to see just how they protected her two weeks after her family left. She had been out exploring second hand shops and books stores in Cecil Court before turning on to Charing Cross Road. There she found another bookstore and spent a pleasant half hour browsing through it. When she exited, a man dressed a bit oddly in a purple suit and dark green cape bumped into her and muttered something about "muggles". She attempted to move to her right to avoid him, but he moved the same way and her book bag caught him in the side. To her surprise, he immediately pulled his hand out of his pocket holding what appeared to be a black stick and growled at her as if she had attacked him.
She began settling into a potential fighting stance just in case he attempted to attack her, but was amazed when Broul appeared, jumped up and viciously bit the hand holding the stick. The strange man didn't seem to have seen Broul, but jumped and nearly dropped his stick, then turned with an expletive and hurried off. She watched him seemingly disappear just beyond the bookstore but before the music store after it.
She tried to focus on the area, and found her eyes continually sliding away. Broul came back snarling from chasing the man. "You OK Lady?" he asked with a scowl.
"Yes, thank you Broul." She dropped to her knee, presumably to look through her shopping bag, but quietly asked the little goblin "Did you see where the man went?"
He scowled again and pointed beside the book store. "In there." Sarah looked but couldn't quite focus. "Would you give me your hand please, Broul?" she asked softly. He looked puzzled but obediently held her hand. Immediately, her eyes stopped sliding away and a previously unseen building front came into focus.
"Well I'll be…" she thought to herself. "Is this related to the Underground?" she asked Broul. He looked uncomfortable and shook his head no, not answering anything else. She let go of his hand, and while it was hard to focus on the building, if she looked intently, she could now see a door and windows set into the front of a building. "The Leaky Cauldron" was on a sign above the door.
She debated briefly, then moved forward and opened the door, hearing Broul muttering behind her. Inside, she found a somewhat dark and timeworn pub. A number of tables were visible in the large front room as well as an ancient bar. A narrow hallway led off to what were presumably private dining rooms. A handsome wooden staircase led upstairs.
An old gentleman was tending bar for the few visible patrons. No one seemed to notice her or pay much attention, until she heard a polite "excuse me, miss" behind her.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was blocking the way" she said and stepped hurriedly aside. The woman in a long dress merely nodded at her and walked to the back of the room and outside again into what appeared to be a courtyard. Curious, Sarah followed and watched the woman tap the brick wall facing her. To her surprise, the brick wall began dissolving and another street could be seen. The woman stepped through and before she could debate with herself, Sarah followed before the wall reformed.
Welcome to my new story. This is a crossover between the Labyrinth and Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books, although perhaps with changes of my own design. I hope you enjoy it!