Author's Notes: This was written for springtime_gen 2011 on LiveJournal for lareinenoire. The requester asked for: "Historical! I'm very happy with the First War, but would absolutely love random episodes from wizarding history and how those episodes interact with history as we know it. I love moral relativism, complicated character interactions, clever characters being clever, clever characters being idiots (while remaining in-character), otherwise horrible people with perfectly normal family lives, historical and literary references."
I think I got everything except the normal family lives. :D
Betas: K. (Actually, I do not know who beta read this, as the original beta reader I had lined up disappeared, so the springtime_gen mods beta read it after I'd submitted it. I don't know if they made any changes.)
Disclaimer: This work of fiction is based on the Harry Potter series created by J.K. Rowling and owned by various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Sev and Sirius' Excellent Adventure
"All righ' there, boys?" Hagrid called over his shoulder. "Yeh'll wan'ter stick close now, an' keep yer wands out o' sight. The centaurs've been a mite tetchy of late."
Sirius and Severus trailed sullenly behind as the three of them entered the Forbidden Forest. The darkness closed in on them as the canopy of leaves and branches overhead blocked out most of the light from the waning moon.
"You heard him, Snivellus," Sirius taunted. "Better stick close to Hagrid, or they might mistake you and your huge schnoz for a porlock and turn you into their stable boy. On second thought, that would save us a lot of trouble. I'll even chip in for the pitchfork." He cupped his hand over his mouth and bellowed, "Hey, centaurs! We've got a live one here!"
Hagrid made halfhearted shushing sounds as Severus hissed, "Yes, you go on and inform the Acromantulae and werewolves to our presence. That's exactly the sort of behaviour that got us out here serving detention in the first place, with nothing but this overgrown Gryffindor reject for protection." But he did lengthen his strides to close the distance between himself and the gamekeeper.
"Shows what a lot you know," Sirius muttered, jogging a few steps as well. "It's not even a full moon tonight. And I wasn't the one," he continued, a bit louder, "who enchanted that suit of armour to clonk James over the head."
"Nor was I," Severus replied smoothly. "An unfortunate accident, if not effective. Tell me, Black, do you plan on going through life hexing me every time something goes wrong for one of your gang?"
"Only if you're standing behind the next pillar, laughing into your fist, Snape," Sirius answered with a snarl.
Hagrid stopped and turned to his two charges. "Now come on, fellas," he pleaded. "Yer heads o' House sent you out here to show you could work together! Are you sixteen or six? Yeh're like a coupl'a chizpurfles in Ollivanders, natterin' away at each other."
Sirius and Severus glared at each other, but fell silent. Hagrid resumed his loping gait, and the two youths followed, orienting themselves by the glint of the huge crossbow Hagrid was carrying over his shoulder.
They trudged on in silence for some minutes before Hagrid stopped short and stuck out his arm to prevent his charges from advancing further.
"Hagrid," a deep voice announced, then added, "Human children," in acknowledgement of the two boys accompanying him. Severus and Sirius peered around Hagrid's bulk to see a centaur blocking their way. His pale human torso seemed to float eerily in mid-air, his darker equine body nearly invisible in the gloom.
"Erebus," Hagrid returned, inclining his head in respect. "Jus' on our way to the Fairy Glade; I heard there was a Bowtruckle infestation eatin' up the eggs."
"The heavens are portentous." The centaur's tone was dark and foreboding. "A rare conjunction of the outer three planets occurs tonight."
"That's fine," Hagrid said in his usual good-natured manner. "We'll be on our way then." He attempted to pass, but Erebus pranced across the path, his tail twitching like a soldier charged up for battle.
"Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto: passion, illusion, transformation," the centaur continued, his gaze boring into each of the three Hogwarts residents in turn. "The veil between the worlds is thin. Nothing is as it seems."
"True enough," Hagrid agreed.
"That's a relief," Severus said sotto voce. "And here I thought I'd been sent out to my death with a pogrebin who fell into a vat of Swelling Solution and a first-year who has yet to figure out the business end of a wand."
Sirius whipped his wand out and had it at Severus' neck in an instant. "I'll acquaint you with that business end faster than you can say 'greasy git'!" The Slytherin was no less agile in his reaction, stepping back and assuming a duelling pose with his wand poised over his shoulder, and in a moment it appeared as if the situation would escalate out of control.
"Here now, here now," Hagrid said, reaching out and gently but firmly pushing both wands down. "Boys will be boys," he chuckled over his shoulder to Erebus, but to the two students, he whispered, "What did I say about keepin' those out of sight? You're makin' him nervous."
Indeed, the centaur raised both of his forelegs to a half-rearing pose before getting himself under control again and stomping skittishly around the path, regarding the group of wizards with eyes that were wide and white.
Glaring Kedavras at each other, both boys reluctantly re-pocketed their wands and retreated to opposite sides of the path.
"Stay on the paths and conclude your business quickly," Erebus admonished them with obvious distaste. "We cannot come to your aid." With that, he reared up until he was nearly eye to eye with Hagrid, then came down with a crash and galloped off into the thicket.
"Don' you worry 'bout us!" Hagrid called after him, laughing nervously. When the sounds of the centaur's hooves had faded, Hagrid turned a disappointed eye on the two boys. "You're both good kids. I don' see why yeh can't get along." He heaved a great sigh and continued along the path.
Sirius and Severus trailed after him again, drawing unwillingly closer as the darkness grew thicker and thicker, until they could barely see a meter in front of them. The ground was becoming increasingly uneven, and they stumbled over creepers and brambles.
"Er, Hagrid..." Sirius ventured finally, when he stubbed his toe rather forcefully on a tree stump that seemed to have sprung up out of nowhere. "Are you sure we're still on the path?"
"Sure," Hagrid replied with suspicious ease. "The Glade's right ahead. I can see the fairy lights already."
"More likely hinkypunks," Severus muttered. Sirius expressed his agreement through grim silence.
Suddenly, though, there was a break in the trees, and the unnatural darkness gave way. The party's brief relief turned to dismay, however, as the three of them realized they had stumbled into the middle of a raging battle.
A short distance away, a hillock of some size was on fire, its bright orange flames lending light to the ghastly scene. Fiery arrows did their part to illuminate pockets of carnage with brief flashes of horror. Mounted soldiers in chain mail, wielding swords and axes and bearing kite shields, crashed around the battlefield, trampling foot soldiers and hacking indiscriminately at anything that moved. The ground was thick with men lying dead or dying, and the overwhelming stench of iron and wet earth mixed with the bitter black smoke billowing out of the bonfire, causing Sirius and Severus to cover their faces and give in to a fit of coughing.
Despite the chaos, the presence of a three-meter-tall humanoid wielding a giant metal crossbow couldn't fail to draw attention, and sure enough, before the party had even begun to process what was going on, two horsemen were bearing down on them. Hagrid retained enough presence of mind to place his bulk between the attackers and the students; Severus and Sirius heard only a great howl of pain and the clatter of metal.
"Take cover!" the half-giant bellowed as he battled to keep the soldiers and their horses occupied.
Neither Severus nor Sirius had any intention of doing anything of the sort. Both had their wands out in an instant and quite naturally moved into back-to-back positions, shooting off curses at anyone who veered too close to them.
They hadn't gotten off more than half a dozen shots between them, though, before they were both apprehended by a pair of meaty forearms smeared with dirt and blood, and bodily packed off to a small ravine just inside the tree line.
Hagrid tossed them down none too gently before collapsing with a mighty groan himself. "What did I tell yeh about usin' your wands?" he grunted, panting.
"They were attacking us!" Sirius yelped. "I don't think we could have enraged them any more."
"Those were no centaurs, anyway," Severus contributed with a sneer. "Hardly wizards, either."
"Yes, well, that's as may be," Hagrid conceded. "Looks like Erebus was right. I don' know what this is all about, but we'd best head back an' tell Dumbledore."
But before they could stand up again, something large and heavy toppled into the ravine, its fall mostly broken by Hagrid's enormous stomach.
The addition to their party turned out to be an archer, his bow still clutched in his fist. He was wounded quite badly, judging by the angle at which his leg was hanging, and the awful, gaping tear in his padded gambeson, bristling with straw caked in sticky blood. His face was a mess of bruises beneath his dented helmet, and as he groaned, half-conscious, bubbles of spittle and blood dribbled out of his mouth.
"Oh dear. Oh dear," repeated Hagrid as he maneuvered to allow the man to rest on the ground. "That looks like a nasty cut, that does. Wish I had some dittany on me. Come on," he said to Severus and Sirius. "We need to get back an' send help."
Sirius, rather than getting up to follow Hagrid, scrambled closer to the man. "You don't mean we're going to leave him here? He'll die!"
"I'm afraid he'd die anyway," Hagrid explained gently. "Looks like that Thestral I found once that'd got its wings tangled up in an Acromantula web. Had to put him out o' his misery."
Sirius glanced up at Hagrid's crossbow, still firmly lodged over his shoulder. "Don't even think about it," he growled. "I know a few healing spells."
Hagrid knelt down to put his hand on Sirius' shoulder. "You can't save him, Sirius," he said in a voice softer than either boy had ever heard out of their gruff guardian.
Sirius shook Hagrid's hand off. "But I can try!"
"And all the other casualties up on the battlefield, Black?" Severus spat. "Are we supposed to hang out here all night while you play Mungo Bonham? They're clearly soldiers! They knew what they signed up for!"
"If you don't want to help, you can bloody well go back to the castle with Hagrid," Sirius snarled, before taking his wand out and speaking some simple incantations. Meanwhile, the sound of combat continued just beyond their shelter.
"I can't leave you here, Sirius, you know that," Hagrid said reasonably. When he saw that Sirius was not to be deterred, he reached into his long-haired jerkin and pulled out a flask. "Here, maybe this'll help a bit." He wiped it off on his sleeve before opening it and pouring a few drops onto the injured man's lips.
"What is that?" Severus asked, narrowing his eyes. "Blood-Replenishing Potion?"
Hagrid shook his head. "Billywig Brandy. Stings like yeh wouldn't believe, but takes th'edge off the pain." He took a swig himself.
"If you close that wound any slower, he'll bleed to death before you're halfway done, Black," Severus commented coolly after a moment.
"I'm doing the best I can here, Snivellus!" Sirius snapped over his shoulder. "I've never had to deal with anything this big and dirty before... present company excluded."
Severus bared his teeth and flared his nostrils, but merely said, "Hagrid, if you would, pour some of that brandy on this wound? It will do more good as a disinfectant than an anesthetic, seeing as the patient is unconscious anyway." He then moved in, and, studiously avoiding any contact with Sirius, proceeded to aid in mending the man's injuries.
"Where'd you two learn those healin' spells anyway?" Hagrid asked as he hovered over them, simultaneously keeping an eye out for anyone approaching their position.
"Here and there," Sirius mumbled, keeping his gaze averted. "Never know when they might come in handy."
"With friends like yours, I'm not surprised," Severus quipped.
"And how about you?" Sirius returned the challenge. "You don't appear to be a complete novice at this kind of thing either!"
"Mind your own business, Black!"
The argument was cut short as the soldier opened his eyes. The three wizards hung over him, expectant.
"Well? How do you feel?" Sirius asked.
The man's eyes widened in fear and he began babbling something in another language.
"I don't suppose you know a translation spell as well?" Severus asked with a sneer.
"I don't need one," Sirius countered smugly. "That's French. Odd kind of French, but I get the gist. He's basically begging us not to kill him."
Severus rolled his eyes. "Of course, the pampered son of the great Black family would know French. Toujours pur," he spat with a surprising amount of venom, given that he had been Sorted into the House known for the value it set on blood purity.
"The question is, pure what?" Sirius muttered to himself before addressing Severus with, "I wouldn't let the rest of your Housemates hear you talking like that. Most of the old pureblood families have their kids tutored in French along with all the other basic mumbo-jumbo before they go off to school."
"Noblesse oblige," Severus said, curling his lip. "Don't worry, Black, I know all about it."
Sirius frowned. "Right," he said uncertainly before directing his attention back to the man lying on the ground. He said a few words, obviously trying to assure him. The man appeared startled at Sirius' language, but after a few tries, the two of them were able to achieve a halting exchange of information.
"I'm not sure what to make of it," Sirius said finally to Hagrid and Severus. "If I've understood him right - and I'm not at all sure I have, his accent's pretty thick - he's part of some Duke Guillaume's army and they're trying to free the English from someone named Harold. There was also something about the Wizengamot, but I didn't quite get that part. Personally, none of it really makes sense. I think he's barking."
"Did you learn nothing about English history with all those expensive tutors?" Severus asked derisively. "William? Harold? The Witenagemot? - I hardly think he meant the Wizengamot; he's clearly a Muggle. Do these names say nothing to you?"
"Other than that you're barking, too? Enlighten us," Sirius said through gritted teeth.
"If I'm not wildly mistaken, we seem to have stumbled into the Battle of Hastings." Upon seeing Sirius and Hagrid's blank stares, Severus exhaled sharply with frustration. "Ten-sixty-six? Over nine hundred years ago. The Norman Conquest. Duke William of Normandy defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings and went on to be crowned King of England. At least tell me you've heard of William the Conqueror."
"You mean we've travelled back in time nine hundred years?" Hagrid asked in disbelief.
"I didn't say that," Severus cautioned. "It could be that this is a re-enactment - I've heard of Muggles doing that sort of thing. Although this fellow here seems rather authentic. Or it could be that a dimensional window has been opened onto the Battle here. I suppose we really won't know until we try to go back to the castle."
"So what about this chap then?" Sirius asked, pointing at the soldier. "Is he one of the good guys or the bad guys?"
Severus regarded Sirius with a half-pitying look. "Not everything is so black-and-white. But if you must have your world compartmentalized into neat little boxes, then if he's with Guillaume - William - he's on the side that wins."
"Then we just need to get rid of this Harold character, and everyone can go back to ... building castles or rescuing damsels, or whatever it is these Medieval numbers do."
"No, what we need to do is say good-bye to the nice Norman, and let him get back to the business of slaughtering the English. We may already have disturbed the time line by saving him. These are your people, Black. Maybe he'll end up killing your ten-times-great grandfather and you'll never be born, and wouldn't that be a pity?"
"Or maybe he'll end up killing your grandfather, eh, Snape? Then I've done the world a favor."
"Way I see it," Hagrid interrupted before the exchange of insults could get rolling, "seeing as yeh're both still here, no one's grandfather's gettin' killed. But we'd best get back before one o' you does something we can't fix." He stood, groaning a bit, and pulled both Sirius and Severus up with him.
"What, and just let them go on knocking each other off back there?" Sirius, outraged, struggled to free himself from Hagrid's grip, but the larger man held firm.
"I said we'll tell Dumbledore. Can't have war bein' waged all over the Forest, can we, even if it is this Hasty Battle like yeh say. Now come on."
He heaved Severus up out of the ravine on the side away from the clearing, and was reaching for Sirius when the young Gryffindor said, "Wait. I just need to make sure 'Pierre' here is going to be all right."
Hagrid gave a put-upon sigh but said, "Hurry up then."
Sirius crawled over to the Norman soldier and, blocking the view with his body, did something to the man's bow before giving him a brief instruction. The archer, greatly recovered, nodded enthusiastically, and Sirius allowed himself to be lifted out of the little valley.
Once on level ground again on the forest side of the ravine, the three looked back, but could neither see nor hear any sign of the scene they had just left. They were once again surrounded by darkness and trees, and even Hagrid had to admit they had lost the path.
"But don' worry, I know where we are," he announced with great confidence and set off, leaving Sirius and Severus with little choice but to follow.
"You did something to that man's bow," Severus hissed disapprovingly to Sirius, keeping his voice low so Hagrid wouldn't hear.
"Couldn't leave the future of England to chance, now could I?" Sirius whispered back. "Just a simple targeting spell. Oh, don't give me that," he responded to Severus's disgusted look. "It's only good for a single shot. I doubt he'll use it on your grandfather. But whatever he does use it for, it'll hit the bull's-eye." He winked and laid a finger on his cheek.
As they trudged on, the atmosphere became, if possible, even darker and thicker, until Hagrid was forced to slow to a snail's pace so they could pick their way through the tangled undergrowth. At least the air was fresher, and began to carry the marine tang of salt and dead fish.
"I think we're near the lake," Sirius mentioned helpfully into the oppressive silence.
"Only if it suddenly turned into saltwater since yesterday," Severus quipped with a sneer.
"Calm down, now," Hagrid said. "It's some water anyways, I can hear it now..."
As suddenly as if a curtain had been lifted, the three emerged from the forest into a harbor district. It was still night, but the area was illuminated by countless torches, many of them being held aloft by scores of men in close-fitting, round caps, leather jerkins, and wide, loose breeches tucked into high boots and stockings. They were shouting and rushing about, hauling wooden boxes and ropes, most of them armed with knives and daggers tucked into their wide leather belts.
At the dock beside them, being loaded via wooden gangplanks, was a great, creaking ship, its three masts towering above even Hagrid amidst a web of ropes and rigging. The water in which it rocked back and forth was black and vast, and when the waves slapped against the wooden dock, fountains of cold water shot up into the air.
"So much for the lake theory," Severus said scornfully.
"I've got another theory," Sirius shot back, "and it involves you, that water, and a big rock."
"At least they're not hackin' each other t'bits any more," Hagrid rumbled.
"I don't think these are the same men," Severus said as he surveyed the jostling crowd.
Sirius narrowed his eyes at a man who was paused, bent over to readjust his load a few meters away. The hilt of a long, thin weapon rested against his hip, where it was secured in its sheath.
"Grandfather's got a sword with a hilt just like that. A rapier, it's called."
"More French?" Snape groaned.
"He uses it to cut the heads off of house-elves," Sirius informed him with a cold look. "Not the best choice, mind, since it's more of a thrusting weapon-"
"Now see here," Hagrid chided him. "I won't be having any o' that talk!"
"Oh, I agree with you, Hagrid," Sirius said. "If I were a house-elf, I'd have poisoned him long ago. I was just going to say, Grandfather always makes a point of using this particular weapon, as it's goblin-made; spoils from the Rebellion of 1612, he always says. Which would place us in the seventeenth century."
Severus' look turned sour. "Someone's been paying attention in History of Magic. However, aside from the obvious fact that many weapon types were in use for centuries, I'm afraid Black probably isn't far off. This ship looks like a galleon, which were first produced in the latter half of the sixteenth century." He glared at Sirius. "There's a maritime museum near my house," he muttered defensively.
Up until now, the small party had gone seemingly unnoticed amidst the general hustle and bustle of the quay, but now a compact, bearded man in a high-necked doublet, his hand on the hilt of the weapon at his side, was making a rather determined beeline for them.
"Stay back," Hagrid warned, putting out an arm the size of a tree branch to block Severus and Sirius from advancing.
"You're hurt, Hagrid!" Sirius exclaimed, only now noticing the freely bleeding slash down the half-giant's arm.
Hagrid brushed aside Sirius's concern. "'S just a scratch," he said, and tried to cover it up with the sopping, filthy material of his shirtsleeve.
Sirius didn't have time to push the issue, as the stranger came within shouting distance and challenged them: "What be your employment here?"
"Employment? Oh no, we're not workin'. ... Jus' havin' a little stroll," Hagrid replied with his best toothy grin.
The man's eyes narrowed, and his stance became more tight. He took in Hagrid's hairy girth, not to mention his giant crossbow, as well as the two youths in their long, black robes and long, dark hair. "Whence hearken you?"
"Hearken?" Hagrid frowned, appearing not to understand.
"He means where we're from," Severus hissed.
"Oh!" Hagrid's face brightened. "Just back there at the castle," he said cheerfully, waving an enormous hand in the general direction they had come from.
"Why, Hogwarts castle, o' course!"
Sirius slapped his hand over his face.
"Hog... warts?" The man tried the unfamiliar word out in his mouth.
"Er..." Hagrid realized his error and fumbled over his words. "Jus' an old place back there in the forest. Nothin' special. Me an' me two... er, nephews here, takin' in a bit o' fresh air. Well, sorry to have troubled you, we'll be off again if you don't mind-" Hagrid started to back slowly away, herding the boys behind him, but the man stopped them.
"Halt!" he cried, and drew his sword halfway out of its sheath. "Hawkins! Wyatt!" he barked out over his shoulder, not taking his sharp eyes off of Hagrid. "Your tongue betrays you, Spaniard! Your tutors had done better to school you in the art of speaking, rather than the art of war. What think you, that you may spy unattended on our preparations to meet your country's offense? You and these two Papist envoys?"
In short order two other men arrived in answer to their commander's summons. They were dressed in a similar manner as he, but were younger and more stocky.
"Sir!" one of them reported, taking in Hagrid's astounding height with widened eyes.
"Take charge of these spies from King Philip. I will arrange transport to the Gatehouse ere we depart. I mislike leaving them here, else perchance they may escape. Secure them in the brig-" he jutted his chin toward the ship moored next to them "-and keep watch that they make no mischief.
"Your weapon, sirrah," he then said to Hagrid, indicating the crossbow with a crook of his eyebrow. "Slowly."
"Wha-?" Hagrid, startled, looked up at the weapon hung over his shoulder. "You want my bow? Now, look here, nobody's going to be shootin' anyone. Or cuttin' off any heads," he added, nodding at the sword. "Me an' the boys'll jus' go back where we came from, an' no one's nose need get out o' joint."
The commander drew his sword. His two underlings did the same. "Men!" he shouted behind him. "To aid!"
"All righ', all righ', jus' calm down now," Hagrid said, making placating gestures. "Here, you can have the bow if it's that important." He unhooked it and laid it gently on the ground. "That's a fine piece of workmanship, that is," he added. "Had it made special by Master Iolo."
Severus took the opportunity of everyone's focus being on Hagrid's bow to tilt his head so that his hair fell over his face, and, holding his wand concealed inside his long sleeve, whispered, "Muffliato." Then he leaned toward Sirius and, still keeping his face covered by his hair, murmured, "We have to take them now, before more reinforcements come."
"Hagrid'd never go for it," Sirius hissed back. "And anyway it's too late. Here they come."
There were several armed men approaching from all directions. Severus glared at Sirius as if it were his fault. Meanwhile, it hadn't escaped the man in charge that Sirius and Severus were communicating behind Hagrid's back.
"Step forward where I can see you, servants of the devil!" he called out. "Your plotting is of no avail." He waved Hagrid, Sirius, and Severus toward the ship with his sword. "Move now."
"Let them go," Hagrid pleaded. "They're only boys."
"They look old enough to bear arms," the commander rejoined, "and most certainly a tale. If you value their safety, and your own, you will go peacefully."
"Stick close, boys," Hagrid said as he began lumbering toward the ship. "I'll think of somethin', jus' give me a minute."
Slowly and carefully, the guards herded the three wizards up the gangplank, and then down into the dark innards of the ship. There, they were unceremoniously shoved into a small, windowless chamber, already crowded with barrels and equipment. Hagrid was forced to crawl on hands and knees to get through the door, and once inside, he took up most of the free space, leaving Sirius and Severus pressed against the wall.
"Nice going, Black," Severus snarled once their captors had closed and bolted the door, leaving them in complete darkness.
"And how exactly is this my fault?" Sirius asked in an equally hostile tone.
"If you'd only attacked when I said-"
"We didn't have a plan!" Sirius protested. "Knowing you, you would have run off as soon as the others were distracted, and left me and Hagrid alone to be captured."
"Of course I would have taken the first opportunity to escape, you great oozing sore, and if you had an ounce of sense in your head, you would have as well. Oh, wait, I forgot. Your Gryffindor pride won't let you abandon a fight; victory or death, is it? Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. Lumos." He held his wand aloft and began rummaging around in the barrels beside him.
Hagrid tried to defuse the situation. "You both did 'sactly the right thing, keepin' quiet and lettin' me do the talking. I jus' wish I hadn't had to give up that bow. Cost me a kelly Knut, it did," he added morosely.
"Don't worry, Hagrid, I can Summon it," Sirius said, and held up his wand in preparation.
"Have you gone completely mad?" Severus practically screeched, reaching out to knock Sirius' wand aside. "What do you think those Muggles will do when they see that monstrosity of a crossbow sailing through the air, making directly for this cabin? To say nothing of the fact that the door is bolted shut-"
"-hardly an impediment-" Sirius interjected.
"-and they won't have left it lying there on the quay anyway. The captain will have taken it with him to this gatehouse, or wherever he was going. It's well out of range."
"I'll have you know," Sirius informed him with a pompous air, "I've Summoned a crate of Chocolate Frogs from the cellar of Honeydukes all the way through the-" He stopped suddenly. "Well, never mind, but it was a long way. Further than that Muggle could have got by now with Hagrid's bow at any rate, unless he Apparated."
"Never mind about the bow now," Hagrid said. "Firs' things firs'. We've got to get out o' here before they come back. And," he added a bit sheepishly, "maybe one o' you boys could fix up this scrape for me. Like you did for Frenchie."
Sirius peered at the arm Hagrid held out in front of him. "I can't really see it... point that light over here, will you?" he said to Severus.
"Make your own," Severus said coldly. "Or can't you even cast a Lumos?"
"I can cast it fine, but I'll need my wand to heal the arm, dung-for-brains!"
"Why don't you hold the light, and I'll heal the arm?"
Hagrid reached up and plucked down one of the spare lanterns hanging overhead. "Here, why don' you use this?" he suggested.
"Brilliant," Sirius muttered as he opened the hood and stuck his wand in. "At least someone around here's thinking straight besides me." He whispered a spell, and a small flame flared up inside the metallic cage.
"Mind you're careful with that," Severus said. "These are all filled with pitch."
"'Mind you're careful with that'," Sirius mimicked in a high, tinny voice. "If you're not going to help, you can bloody well stick your enormous beak in someone else's business!"
"I've had about enough of your mouth, Black!" Severus pointed his wand at Sirius.
"Is that so?" Sirius said, amused. "And what exactly are you going to do about it? Hm, Snivellus?"
Severus launched himself at Sirius, struggling around Hagrid's legs, which filled up most of the space between them. "Sectum-" he began, as Sirius raised his wand in preparation to retaliate.
"Stop that right now!" Hagrid roared, thrusting his uninjured arm - the one holding the lantern - between the opponents.
There was a brief tussle involving two muffled bangs, a puff of smoke, and a great deal of grunting, and then with a FWOOM!, a spurt of yellow flame shot up from the barrels of pitch.
"Fire in the hold!" Hagrid bellowed, and began beating at the blaze with one enormous hand. It was no good, though, as the flames hungrily licked up the walls, feeding on the freshly caulked wood. In moments, it seemed that the entire room was on fire.
"Aguamenti!" cried Sirius, directing a small fountain at the nearest crackling barrel, while Severus doused his robes, which had begun to smolder around the hem.
"It's no use, boys!" Hagrid coughed as thick, black smoke started to fill the upper reaches of the tiny chamber. "We've got to get out."
"Reducto on three!" Sirius shouted, trying to shield his face with his sleeve. Severus nodded, barely able to see through his tearing eyes.
Both wizards pointed their wands at the nearest wall and shouted, "Reducto!"
A deafening blast sounded, and then icy water slammed in over them. Luckily, Hagrid's bulk blocked Sirius and Severus long enough that they were able to fill their lungs with air once more before the water completely filled the space, its furious power driving them against one of the inner walls and cutting off their vision.
Blind, disoriented and unable to vocalize any spells, both boys were thrashing wildly against the frigid turbulence, animal instincts driving them to seek an escape, when something twisted and caught in their hair, yanking hard enough to pull their entire weight. Reaching up in a frantic attempt to free themselves, both discovered a giant fist firmly wrapped around their long locks.
It seemed an interminably long time before Hagrid pulled them, gasping and coughing, up to the surface, where they managed to divest themselves of their cumbersome, waterlogged outer robes and let them float away. Unaware of anything other than the drive to reach land, the three of them swam through the black water - now surprisingly calm - to the narrow strip of gray that delineated the shore.
"Merlin's bleeding arse!" Sirius finally managed to rasp out, once he'd coughed up enough water that he could draw a breath. "What was that for? Did you have to bloody destroy the entire bloody ship? We could've been killed!"
He pulled himself away from the water, which lapped quietly at his feet. They were on a lonely stretch of rocky shore with no sign of the men who had taken them captive, or their ship. In fact, there was no sign of anyone at all, although there was a foot path discernible a dozen or so meters away in the dim, pre-dawn grayness, running parallel to the shore and disappearing into a stand of trees.
"It was you ... who suggested ... Reducto," Severus gasped out between coughs. "An Unlocking Spell ... on the door ... would've done as well."
"I didn't hear you arguing with me!"
"I thought it more prudent to get out before being burnt to a bloody crisp!"
Sirius hesitated, as if expecting Hagrid to jump in at this point. When no calming words came, both boys looked over at the motionless mound lying a few meters away.
"Hagrid?" Sirius scrambled over the beach on all fours, with Severus not far behind. "Hagrid, are you all right?" Sirius shook Hagrid by the shirt, but the half-giant's dripping face remained gray and impassive.
Sirius produced his wand, which had miraculously survived their escape, and began to cast a spell: "Enner-"
"Wait!" Severus hissed. He grabbed Sirius' hand and moved so close to Sirius that the Gryffindor jumped back defensively.
"Get your greasy hand off my wand!" Sirius exclaimed, yanking his hand away. "Can't you see-"
"We're not alone." Severus spoke in a low voice and inclined his head toward the path. Sirius glanced past him, impatient. There, half hidden behind a tree, stood a young woman in a long, pale, high-waisted dress. Her head was bare, but she had a length of material draped over her shoulders against the chill. She was staring wide-eyed at the boys huddled over the large man lying unconscious on the shore.
"I don't care," Sirius snarled, but he kept his voice low as well. "We have to help Hagrid!" He readied his wand again.
"Think for once, Black!" Severus insisted. "We don't know where or when we are. She may be a witch, but more likely she's a Muggle. And she's probably not alone. I'm not exactly keen on ending up in another brig, or worse, tied to a stake and burned as a warlock!"
"Then you go distract her while I tend to Hagrid. He's lost too much blood already."
"No." Severus gritted his teeth and tried to speak calmly. "I'll take care of this... abnormally large simpleton. Your brand of animal magnetism - and I use the term quite literally - is more likely to distract and mollify her, if she is as silly and featherbrained as Muggle females generally are."
Sirius narrowed his eyes, obviously preparing an even cleverer insult.
Severus exhaled in exasperation. "I'd only scare her and have the pitchfork-waving mob after us; happy? Now let me get to work. As you said, he's lost too much blood." He pushed Sirius aside and leaned over Hagrid, concealing his wand within his robes as he began an incantation.
Sirius grunted as he fell back onto his rear end and was about to retort when a flutter of movement drew his eye to the woman, who was now approaching them.
"You owe me, Slytherin," Sirius rumbled as he hauled himself to his feet. He tossed his long, wet hair back out of his face and tucked in his shirt as he moved quickly to head off the intruder before she got too close.
"Hello, miss," Sirius began with a dazzling smile. "Siriusss...Snape, at your service. Seriously, Snape here, at your service." He cocked an eyebrow and smirked. If anyone was going to be roasted or skewered, at least it wouldn't be on his reputation.
"Mary Shelley. A pleasure." She held out one hand, fingers curved down. "I was just taking some air. The men will go on so late."
Sirius, not ignorant of Pureblood etiquette, placed his fingers delicately beneath hers and brushed a kiss across the back of her hand.
Mary smiled. "Are you with Lord Byron's party?" she inquired, trying to look around him to see what Severus was doing. She had a long, frank face, and didn't seem at all put off by meeting two or three strange men alone in the dark.
"Byron? Er, no, no, we're not. Just had a bit of a boating mishap is all." Sirius reached out to delicately take the lady's arm and direct her back up toward the path.
"The poor man. Will he be all right?" she asked, although she didn't seem overly concerned, as if boating accidents were a frequent occurence in her experience.
"Oh, sure, fine. Just had a bit too much of the-" Sirius tipped his hand to indicate drinking and laughed disarmingly. "Nothing a quick kip won't cure."
"You must come up to the maison," she said, casting one more glance back at Severus and Hagrid. "You're soaked through. Bring your friends. My husband and his friends will be delighted."
"What, them? Nah, not necessary. Thanks all the same." He leaned in conspiratorially. "Sn- Erm..." He cast about feverishly for another name, having already used that one. "Frank's a bit of a stick in the mud," he improvised, sniggering inwardly at poking a bit of fun at that prat Head Boy, Longbottom. "Antisocial type. I swear I've wanted to do violence to him myself after listening to him drone on about himself for hours."
"Now you've piqued my curiosity, Mr. Snape," Mary said. "I do insis-" She interrupted herself with a gasp, staring back at Severus and Hagrid.
Sirius whipped his head around just in time to see the echo of a flash illuminating Snape's pale, pointed features and Hagrid's battered face and body. Even Sirius had to shiver at the eerie sight. The half-giant stirred and convulsed, and then the two figures faded to shadows again.
Sirius cursed Severus for his poor timing, although he was glad to see the sign of life from Hagrid.
"Lightning. Must be a storm coming," he said, trying to keep the annoyance out of his voice. "You'd best get back inside." He directed Mary firmly back onto the path, propelling her away from the beach. "We'll be fine," he said, over her protests. "I promised we'll drop by once our friend is more presentable. Off you go now, wouldn't want your husband to worry."
"It does... Yes, I should really be getting back," Mary said, her earlier coquettish confidence having given way to a sense of unease. She pulled her wrap more firmly around her shoulders and chest, holding it in place with both fists.
"Pip pip." Sirius nodded cheerfully.
Mary cast one more glance back at the beach, then turned and hurried toward the trees. Just before disappearing altogether, she turned back. "Maison Chapius, Mr. Snape!" she called back. "We'll be expecting you!"
"Got it," Sirius confirmed, now gritting his teeth with impatience but maintaining his rakish smile.
As soon as he could no longer make out her ghostly form amongst the trees, he turned and sprinted back to Hagrid and Severus.
He was greatly relieved to see that the gamekeeper was sitting up and taking a sip from his flask. His aggravation took the upper hand, though. "What was that about not doing magic in front of Muggles?" he snarled at Severus.
"You were supposed to get rid of her, not chat her up!" Severus retorted.
"What did you expect me to do, Vanish her? I had to be subtle so as not to make her suspicious. And then you go off with that display. It was all I could do to convince her it was just a trick of the weather," Sirius finished in disgust. He knelt down next to Hagrid. "All right then, Hagrid?"
Hagrid wiped his mouth and put the cap back on his flask. "Yeah. Sev'rus here fixed me up right nice." He flexed his injured arm. "What's all this about a Muggle?" He looked around.
"Never mind," Sirius said. "But we'd better get going before she sends her husband and friends out looking for us. Where do you reckon we are this time?"
"I don't know, but all I can say is, this isn't the Black Lake," Hagrid said.
The three of them looked around, but there were no landmarks to disclose their location.
"No lights," Severus noted, "and the stars are much brighter than in our time. I'd say we're still pre-Industrial."
"At least the bird sounded normal," Sirius said. "No odd accent or anything."
"It seems we are moving forward in time, then," Severus surmised. "Perhaps the next one will bring us back to our present."
"Best get a move on, then." Hagrid hauled himself to his feet.
They took the path, in the opposite direction from that which Mary Shelley had taken. It led through what looked at first like a light copse, but as soon as they entered the shelter of the branches, the woods thickened, obscuring any sign of the lake they had just left. Both boys held up their wands and lit them to illuminate their way. Hagrid didn't argue this time.
Resigned to their adventure, as well as exhausted, the three pushed doggedly forward through the - by now familiar - nearly impenetrable growth. After a good ten minutes, Hagrid stopped suddenly.
"I don't know why I didn' think o' this before!" he mumbled as he searched through his various pockets.
Severus and Sirius took the opportunity to collapse onto nearby logs. "Here we go!" Hagrid triumphantly held up something that shone dully in the dim surroundings. It looked like a thin metal pipe. He held it to his lips and blew into it, but no sound came out.
"Dog whistle," he explained sheepishly. "Had to leave Snag at home. He likes Fairy eggs almos' as much as Bowtruckles do," he confided. "If we're anywhere near Hogwarts he'll sniff us out in a jiffy, though."
"Can he hear a whistle blown a hundred years ago?" Sirius snorted, half to himself.
"Come on, let's keep movin'," Hagrid said. "It's comin' on morning, an' Dumbledore'll be wonderin' where we've got to."
Severus and Sirius pulled themselves back onto their feet and resumed forging their way through the unnatural jungle in Hagrid's wake. They plodded blearily forward, not paying attention to anything other than putting one foot in front of the other, and not keeping track of the passing of time. Hagrid blew on his pipe at occasional intervals, but he didn't stop again, and neither young wizard paid him any attention.
Thus, they were both startled when a loud rustling was followed by Hagrid's delighted shout of "Snag!"
The oversized bloodhound came galloping up to the group, ears flapping and jowls bouncing. He greeted Hagrid with a joyous bark, and Sirius couldn't help but be caught up in the festive mood. Even Severus managed a thin smile at the sight of Snag cavorting around his master, and Hagrid repeating over and over, 'Who's a good fella, then? Who's a good fella?' and reaching down to cuff the dog affectionately on the head.
The arrival of Snag seemed to have broken the spell of the Forest, or maybe it was already broken, and that's what allowed Snag to find them. Whatever the reason, the trees no longer crowded them in, fallen logs and old tree stumps no longer blocked their way, and vines and brambles no longer snatched at their feet. The air was no longer thick and oppressive, but moist and fresh with the scent of dew, moss, and dawn.
Hagrid clapped his hands once. "Go on then, Snag, take us to the path." The dog bounded a few steps away, then waited for the humans to catch up. "Told yeh he'd find us."
"That's grand, but how's this going to help us?" Sirius asked. "Now you've got your dog lost, too."
"Don' worry, Snag's nose won't lead us astray," Hagrid assured him. "He knows the way back, right, Snag?"
The bloodhound barked and ran ahead, impatient for the others to follow.
"I just wish I hadn't o' lost my bow," Hagrid sighed, as they began moving again through the lightening woodland.
"Just a moment." Severus stopped and held his wand aloft. "Accio Hagrid's crossbow!"
"That'll never work," Sirius said.
"Wait for it, Black."
"We left it back in the sixteen-hundreds, for Merlin's sake! It wasn't even our last stop."
"'Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other'," Severus said.
"And what exactly's that supposed to mean?"
Severus turned to him, his features twisted in derision. "We were always here. Physically, at any rate. Really, Black, did you honestly think we were travelling hundreds of years back and forth through time? Even with a Time-Turner, you can't go more than a few hours back."
"Can't the two of yeh's give it up?" Hagrid asked tiredly. "We're almos' home."
"What was all that, then? The Battle, the ship exploding? This?" Sirius reached over and plucked at Hagrid's torn sleeve, the remnant of his injury at the hands of the Norman soldiers.
"I believe, as the centaur suggested at the start of this entire debacle, that we were experiencing an elaborate illusion, fueled by our passions and desires. The water was always the Black Lake. The individuals we met - magical creatures: hinkypunks, red caps, unicorns, who knows? Veiled and transformed by our imagination, imbued with the qualities we expected or projected onto them."
"You're seriously barking."
"And you are a narrow-minded buffoon with an inflated ego and overblown sense of your own importance."
Sirius' next reply died on his tongue as another rustling and thumping sound drew closer. Both he and Severus pointed their wands at whatever it was moving rapidly across the ground, dragging vines and dead branches with it. When it stopped harmlessly at Severus' feet, though, they both lowered their wands again; Sirius in disbelief and Severus in smug self-satisfaction.
"Your crossbow." He leaned down and picked up the weapon, shook it a bit to get rid of the worst of the detritus it had accumulated in its journey across the forest floor, and handed it to Hagrid.
"Why-" Hagrid was dumbfounded. "You're all right, Severus. Thank you." He reverently took the bow and cleaned it off.
Sirius narrowed his eyes at the Slytherin. "I think you planned all this."
Severus rolled his eyes. "Yes, Black, I created the entire illusion we experienced tonight. I'm a genius to rival Merlin."
"You're a sneaking, low-down snake, is what you are. Trying to get me killed! So that's why you blew up the ship!"
"Need I remind you once again, it was your idea with the Reducto, and I was nearly drowned, too, you brainless -"
Hagrid sighed. "Come on, boys. Let's get back to the castle."
Ignoring the continuing bickering behind him, Hagrid shouldered his bow once again and set off after Snag. He could already see the path fifty meters ahead, and the first glow of pink sky through a break in the trees. He'd leave the boys to Dumbledore to sort out. Right now, he was looking forward to a nice cup of tea and a big plate of bubble and squeak. Supervising detention always gave him an appetite.
In case you couldn't tell, these are the three episodes:
1. The Battle of Hastings, 1066.
- Most of the information about the Battle of Hastings came from descriptions of the Bayeux Tapestry.
2. The Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 1588.
- Impressions of period dress for Elizabethan England were gleaned from the 2007 movie starring Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age". Wikipedia was also of great help with historical facts regarding the defeat of the Spanish Armada, weapons, and ships. I took a bit of liberty with setting the English ship on fire while in port; the ships were actually already at sea when they were set ablaze in order to scare off the Spanish, who thought they were filled with explosives.
- The embarrassingly inaccurate speech patterns for the 16th-century characters are of my own invention. I should read more Shakespeare. Speaking of whom, by the way, 'The better part of valour is discretion' is said by Falstaff in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One.
3. A meeting with Mary Shelley on the shore of Lake Geneva, 1816.
- Descriptions of early 19th century dress are courtesy of Wikipedia.
- The story of how Shelley got the idea for Frankenstein can be read on Wikipedia as well (darn won't let me link to it, but it's really interesting). Look under 'Mary Shelley'.
- The quote "Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other" is from Benjamin Franklin.