Hello again! I am so sorry about the long, long wait for this chapter! I was a bit distracted by getting married so I hope there's no hard feelings. And I really really hope that I can continue to update as much as I would like to.
Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed and pointed out certain "odd" bits that I've done. Please continue to do so and I will try to fix any issues.
Hope that you enjoy this chapter.
I don't own Harry Potter or Stargate (sadly).
Jack awoke the next day to a dull headache. He'd spent all of the previous day trying to do damage control with the General. Hammond was not a stupid man and he knew that what had happened to Nirrti had something to do with Tabby and Sirius. He'd insisted on full disclosure from them and Jack had been hard pressed to try to convince him of the need for pre-emptive action.
After a long, loud conversation Hammond had suspended SG-1 for four weeks. Daniel had been alright with the suspension until he'd been informed that he wasn't allowed on the base or to bring any work home with him. Sam had the same reaction as him. Both had argued to the point of Hammond threatening more severe action.
Bra'tac was once again staying with him, while Tabby had decided to stay at Carter's house for the duration of her visit. The thought of Tabby gave Jack a shiver of fear. He'd known she was a woman you wouldn't want to cross but the sheer coldness of her when dealing with Nirrti had terrified him. It wasn't anything that he wouldn't have done in her place but the fact that it didn't bother her at all that she'd killed the human host whilst ridding them of the Goa'uld worried him.
Sitting up in bed he rubbed his hands roughly over his face to try and wipe the memory of her stare from his mind. When he'd explained what was bothering him about her actions she'd seemed surprised. Her reply had chilled him.
"Being possessed by a Goa'uld seems very similar to being placed under the Imperius Curse. And you can believe me when I tell you that friends of mine who'd been freed from it have very little desire to live long afterwards when they are plagued by the memories of what they had done."
According to Sirius, when Jack had asked him late last night, Tabby had lost an old childhood friend to suicide after being released from the Imperio Curse after the end of the last war. The look in his friend's eyes when Sirius had told him had Jack too scared to ask what they had done to warrant such a drastic course.
Sighing once more he stood up and pulled on some worn jeans and a t-shirt. Running his fingers through his hair he headed for the kitchen. Coming round the corner he grinned to see Sirius holding out a mug of coffee.
"Morning." Jack sipped his coffee and sighed. Looking out the window he noted Bra'tac and the two children down near the tree line. "So you're up early."
"Not as early as those three. Got up a half hour ago and have been watching them spar since."
"How are they after yesterday? I didn't really get a chance to talk to them properly."
Shrugging Sirius put his mug in the sink and leaned against the counter, "They're more worried about Cassie than anything else. I spoke to them last night after you'd put them to bed and told them that we'd killed the bad guy who hurt Cassie. Hermione seemed to know straight away that Tabby had been the main one involved."
"She's a smart one alright."
"Who's a smart one?"
Tabby's voice drifted round the kitchen and Jack nearly jumped out of his skin. Spinning round he gaped at Tabby's smirk. She leaned against the doorway dressed in a long dark red skirt and light cream jumper.
"Morning Jack. How'd you sleep?"
"Not as well as I'd like."
Her nod of agreement wasn't the least bit apologetic. Her smirk turned into a serious expression as she looked intently at him, "It had to be done Jack. You're the one who said it."
"I know. It's just I'm still getting used to the fact that you can be so unaffected by death. I guess I still think of you as a civilian."
She shook her head sadly, "Hardly."
Jack sighed, it really was hitting home just how little he really knew about Tabby, hell even her name wasn't real! As he glanced out to where Bra'tac was training his son and best friend Jack frowned and looked at Sirius, "What was Harry's reaction?"
Shifting from one foot to the other Sirius avoided looking in his friends eyes, "Harry was just relieved that Cassie was safe…but…"
"I got the distinct impression that he was happy that the person who hurt his big sis was dead."
Jack knew he should be shocked and upset about this reaction from his son but couldn't bring himself to find those emotions in this instance, not when he felt pretty much the same way.
The three of them looked back out at the training session that was coming to a close. Jack frowned and remembered the question he'd meant to ask yesterday, "So how did you get the snake out of Nirrti?"
Tabby laughed loudly as she blushed a bit. Sirius instantly perked up at the sign of this crack in her armour, the children's reactions last night had chilled him a bit and he needed a good laugh now that they all knew Cassie was going to be ok. She shrugged, slightly embarrassed, "Well I don't think you'd be familiar with it but Sirius will know it."
Thoroughly intrigued Jack leaned forward. Grinning Tabby winked at Sirius, "This idiot ever tell you of a little curse that has you vomiting slugs?"
The sound of laughter from three sources drifted down to Bra'tac and his pupils. Calling a halt to their morning's session Bra'tac smiled at his students, "That is enough for today. I believe that Tabby has arrived and I know that she and Sirius are intending to continue your magic lessons today."
Harry was sitting next to his dad on the couch while Sirius sat across from them. He had placed a thick folder on the coffee table and was running his thumb across his white knuckles in an attempt to calm himself down. This was a long overdue chat that he had been putting off for a couple of years now, but Harry had to know certain things and Sirius was not about to let him find out the hard way.
As they waited Jack reflected on the amount of effort it had taken to convince the two kids to leave the base before Cassie woke up. They'd wanted to stay until they knew she was better but Janet didn't know how long she'd sleep for now that the danger had passed.
Jack could sense his sons discomfort and worry so he pulled him into a loose one armed hug and coughed to drag Sirius from his thoughts. Sirius looked up and smiled sheepishly, "Sorry, just trying to figure out where to start."
"The beginning usually works for me."
Nodding his thanks to his friend Sirius looked at his godson and smiled at the expression on his face, "You're not in trouble Harry. It's just that I have to start your 'lordly' training and am a little confused about where to start."
Harry frowned, "Lordly?"
Grinning Sirius shrugged, "Yup. You young pup are a lord. So am I but the title is currently unused because of my…misunderstanding…with the British magical government. I've talked about this with your dad and we've agreed that I should teach you all the ins and outs of those circles so that when the day comes that you may need to, you will be able to slip right in."
"How come 'Mione isn't here? Why can't we go see Cassie?"
"Cassie is getting her strength back up before Janet wants to take her home. She'll be home within the next couple of days."
Harry perked up at that, "Really?!"
"Yeah kiddo, I promise we'll go see her as soon as she gets home."
"Mione and Sam were desperate to have a look at Tabby's 'transportation circle', as Sam calls it so Tabby is using the opportunity to teach her more about spell creation and magically theory. Unlike you she has an easier time of doing something once she understands why a spell works before she can do it."
"Yup. More books. They come in a lot handier than you might think."
"Well…think of it this way. When you are both older and have to figure out some way of doing something but don't know what spell to use Hermione will be more likely to come up with something than someone who doesn't read much."
"So she's going to be a spell maker?"
"Spell crafter, and yes if she's wants to."
"Very cool. But that means that for today at least it's just us lads." He grinned at his godson and ruffled his hair to reinforce the fact that Harry wasn't in trouble. With a nod from Jack he opened the folder, "Ok so here is basically records of all your family's holdings, along with a whole slew of pureblood traditions and niceties that you'll need to learn to get anything done in Britain, on top of that there are certain things that you need to know about being the head of an 'Ancient and Noble' house."
Seeing the stunned and confused look on Harry's face Sirius decided to stop there for a minute and let it sink in. It seemed though that Jack wasn't one for sitting and just listening, "You sure don't do things by half do you Black."
"Says the mate who took down a mother ship."
"Yes well, that's not the point here."
"Take it slow Sirius. Harry is only just learning that he's rich. He's only eight."
Hearing his name brought him back out of his stupor, "I'm right here!"
Grinning Sirius handed over the top sheet of paper from the folder, "Yes you are, milord."
The title made Harry grimace in distaste as he looked at the page in front of him. After a few minutes of trying to figure it out he shrugged, "Padfoot I've no idea what this means."
Laughing Sirius took the page back and winked, "It's the total summary of your families holdings Harry. In layman's terms you are the third richest wizard in Europe. Fifth in the world."
The looks of shock on both Jack's and Harry's faces were priceless and Sirius just had to laugh. "If you think that's bad just wait 'til you find out how much property you own."
Cassie was surrounded by fire. It wasn't burning her but it definitely was everywhere and she'd no idea where to turn. The sky was a blazing white that was hard to see and the very ground seemed like harden lava. She'd no idea how she'd gotten here, or where here was!
A sound filtered through the crackling of the flames as she surveyed her surroundings. It was a beautiful sound, one that filled her with hope and joy. A spot on the distance sky darkened and she watched in fascination as it grew larger and the sound grew louder.
After a while she could make out a beautiful bird flying towards her, but it appeared to be on fire! She gasped and tried to look around for some water but discovered that she couldn't move or turn her gaze away from the bird that she now realized was heading straight for her.
As she struggled to move the bird opened his beak and a glorious choir of sound washed over her soothing her nerves and calming her. Minutes passed as the bird drew closer. Cassie began to worry again as it didn't appear to be slowing down or changing course as it came towards her. A moment before it hit she gasped in fright.
The collision she expected never happened as the bird seemed to fly straight into her chest warming her from within. Her mind was assaulted with images and voices and the memories of a thousand lifetimes. She witnessed herself standing proudly at the shoulder of Merlin during the height of Camelot. As a companion to Florence Nightingale on her rounds. Flying through the skies with dragons when they ruled the skies and seas of this world. Fighting the Goa'uld in ancient Egypt alongside people who wouldn't be born for thousands of years yet.* And finally as pet to a progressively delusional headmaster who insisted on calling her Fawkes.
Once the bonding was finished Cassie smiled as she realised what had happened. A phoenix had chosen her as its bond mate! Giving up its natural form to live as a part of her unless released for a purpose. When she wondered 'why' the answer was simply that it was only way she'd survive after her physiology had changed so much.
Bowing her head she felt truly humbled to know that such a magnificent being had chosen her. "I'll make you proud Geni."
The phoenix's voice sounded in her mind, "I know child. And I shall do the same for you. We are bound now, one being for the rest of your life."
"So I will die then?"
"Someday, when your destiny has been fulfilled. I shall leave you and you shall age and die as is necessary for a human. But know this Cassandra, in a phoenix lifetime we can only truly bond once with a person. You are special and I have chosen you. You shall help change the shape of not only this world but others as well."
Smiling Cassie felt herself waking up and panicked, "Well we still be able to talk when I walk up?!"
She could practically heard Geni laughing in her mind, "Of course. This wouldn't be a very good idea if we couldn't."
Relaxing she opened her eyes to see her mother's face looking at her in concern, "Hi mum, sorry if I made you worry."
Hermione was making sketches of the runes on the stones with some charcoal and paper that Tabby had conjured for her. She wasn't really enjoying her lesson today as Aunty Sam had tagged along and was happily debating how magic and science interact and whether or not they were the same thing. Normally she'd be hanging on their every word, soaking up all the information that she could but as today she just wanted to see Cassie and make sure she was alright.
Cassie had made her feel welcome from the very first time they'd met, had introduced her to Harry, her first really friend and Hermione was on the verge of tears just thinking what her life would be like without her older cousin. The grown-ups kept saying that Cassie would be home soon but until she could see it for herself Hermione couldn't concentrate.
Tabby and Sam were both aware of their current charges distraction. As Hermione wandered over to make a tracing of some of the furthest runes from them Sam took her opportunity to talk to Tabby. "You seem to be very on edge since yesterday."
"Is that a question or a statement Sam?"
"I suppose it's both."
Sighing Tabby glanced ruefully at the young witch who was half-heartedly studying the runes, "Of course I'm on edge, and most likely will continue to be on edge until we know that Cassie is fully recovered. Just like Harry and Hermione, and you too Major if you're honest with yourself."
A nod from Sam acknowledged the truth of her statement, "Fair enough."
"Ask your question Sam."
Sam huffed in exasperation at being read so easily but she just had to know, "Why do you think that Harry had more of an effect on Cassie than Hermione?"
"In all honestly I'm not sure. I'm not Dumbledore with his amazing intellect but my best guess says it has to do with their bond."
"Yes. Cassie has been an important figure in Harry's life for a little over four years now, she is his big sister as far as he's concerned, so he'll naturally want to protect and help her in any way he can. His magic probably recognised this and helped as much as his young age and inexperience would allow it too."
"You're speaking of magic as though it can make conscious decisions!"
As Sam gaped at her Tabby tried to explain her reasoning, it felt good to say aloud what had been running through her head all night, "When a young witch or wizard goes to get their wand we always say that "the wand chooses the person", and this is true. You never really get the right results, or at least as powerful results with someone else's wand as you will with your own."
"You told me that there are different elements in each wand so it could be that."
"Yes that's certainly part of it, but what you're failing to realise Sam is that your statement just helped my point along. There is magic in everything to one degree or another, different types of wood and cores respond differently to the people holding them as they recognise when someone who is their right match touches them."
Sam waved her hand to stop Tabby's explanation, "Alright but that still doesn't help me understand how Harry's magic tried to help Cassie."
"Before Harry came here his magic was being smothered by his terrible living conditions, it only came out in bursts to defend or help him and that would normally result in even worse punishment, so his magic remained as dormant as it could to try and protect him. His life here however has allowed him to flourish and Cassie is a large part of that. So when he thought she might be dying his magic would have reached out to her to try and help in any way it could."
"I suppose that makes a certain kind of sense."
They stood quietly for a moment watching Hermione move slowly around the clearing. Another thought occurred to Sam, "Nirrti's experience on Cassie's people was obviously to provide her with a more powerful host, correct?"
"That does seem to have been her goal as far as we can tell."
"And she tried to achieve this by forcing more complete connections in her brain. The process would probably have been halted long before it got to the stage that it was at yesterday if Cassie still lived on her home world."
Nodding Tabby motioned for Sam to continue. The more she talked the more Tabby was thinking that spending time with Major Carter was increasing her own knowledge and understanding of the world.
"Jack came up with an interesting theory yesterday that perhaps the humans on other world's had not been allowed to develop magic to the point that it is on Earth. I'm inclined to agree with him. The humans that would have been taken centuries ago to populate other worlds would have been all non-magicals, most likely, as you've told us that, apart from Merlin and Camelot, the magical community has always tried to keep itself as hidden as possible from mainstream society. It's most probable that any human 'slave' who showed even partial magical abilities would have been taken as a host or killed as a threat. "
Tabby nodded, "There are only a few cultures where magicals and non-magicals have managed to live in harmony together over the years. The Aborigines of Australia and the Native Americans being two of, perhaps, seven or eight cultures that I know of."
"Exactly so it stands to reason that it's unlikely a magical person was among the humans exported to other worlds. But obviously at some point the Goa'uld came across someone who had developed some magic as the knowledge of a Hok'tar is widespread."
Seeing the slightly confused expression on Tabby's face Sam elaborated, "A Hok'tar is a word for an advanced human."
"So you believe that the Goa'uld came across a magical person at one point…that would certainly lend credibility to your theory that magic is the next stage in human evolution."
"But it makes no sense then that magic has a mind of its own! A Hok'tar is about the DNA of a person, magic doesn't seem to have any of that."
Tabby shrugged, "It could simply be that magic has been around for so long on Earth that it's become sentient to a point."
Sighing Sam rubbed the back of her neck, she'd tossed and turned all night worrying about Cassie and having a million things running through her mind. As the tension in her neck started to ease she snapped round to look at Tabby, "Just what were you and Sirius at yesterday though that took ye so long to get to us?"
Tabby blinked, she'd completely forgotten about Andi and what she and Sirius had been doing yesterday!
"That's a good point and something that I should let you all know."
Before Sam could speak Tabby called Hermione and started to head towards the house. Hermione ran over to Sam with a hopeful look on her face, "Is Cassie home yet?"
"We don't know, but Janet will ring as soon as she has news for us. Tabby just wants to tell us what she and Padfoot were up to yesterday before they got to the base."
Tabby had just set foot on the deck when she heard Jack answer the ringing phone. Sirius and Harry were standing when she stepped inside. The joy in O'Neill's voice was hard to miss as he hung up the phone. By the time he'd come back to the living room Sam and Hermione had joined them too. Grinning like a kid Jack picked Harry up in a hug and laughed, "Cassie's on her way home now. We can go visit in a half hour once she's settled in."
* = This is a reference to when SG-1 travelled back to Ancient Egypt to help fight the Goa'uld.