A/N: Thanks to Moonlit Dreaming, MayFairy and Loki'd-into-oblivion for reviewing! I hope you enjoy this chapter too! I've split Sarah second (and last!) year into two parts so I was able to write what I wanted rather than cutting it down just so it would fit in one.
Anyway, enjoy the chapter!
YEAR TWO: PART I
The Return Feast
Godric lowered himself into his seat at the staff table, groaning slightly. He was aching to the bone after returning from his travels earlier that day. Helga had been furious that he had left it so late to return but Godric had defended himself by saying that he hadn't gone for long. That was true; he had tried to stay in the castle for the summer but by the time he was a half of the way through, he was almost bored to tears and decided to take Brutus on a flight over Britain's finest and highest hills.
But now, he was looking forward to the students' return this evening, the sorting of the new ones and enjoying a hearty feast. The oak doors to the Great Hall swung open and the returning students all rushed in, eager to get inside and dry off from the lashing September rain. He watched his students in particular and felt a surge of pride as they smiled, nodded or waved at him before going back to talking amongst themselves. Suddenly, he realised one of his students hadn't arrived yet and sat up higher in his chair to check her whereabouts when she came hurrying inside with her Hufflepuff friend, the two of them laughing and blushing at their lateness. Just as Miss Clarke sat down, she caught his eye and mouthed an apology but he just grinned at her and took an almighty swig from his goblet.
Rowena came in next, leading the new students inside. Most of them were younger than the first group that had come last year but there were still a few older ones. Godric glanced at his fellow teachers and saw Helga smiling kindly at them all and Salazar scrutinising them with narrow eyes. He nudged his friend in the ribs and Salazar jumped and winced, mock-scowling at him. Salazar grinned then, Godric's own was seemingly infectious and they turned their attentions back to the new students now lined up in front of them, looking nervous due to the gaze of the other students sat watching them.
Godric shifted in his seat as Rowena called the first one up. He took one look at the young boy and immediately found his goblet more interesting. Next.
The leaves had just begun to fall from the trees, a rich golden red colour, when Sarah decided that it was time to have the conversation she had been dreading. She had been brought up amongst a proud family that didn't like accepting help from anyone no matter how desperate they might be and she didn't like bucking that trend now. But it was her last year at the school and she knew that she wanted to pass all of the assessments at the end of the year.
As her friends hurried off to lunch, she lingered behind, watching Professor Gryffindor close the large wooden crate that held the diricawl he had just been showing to them all. For a moment, he didn't notice that she was still there and she thought that she had better announce herself so she cleared her throat loudly and he turned around quickly, his startled expression turning into a smile when he saw her.
"Miss Clarke! Is there something I may help you with?"
"Yes, I...I think I need some help with my studies."
He frowned and Sarah immediately felt like she shouldn't have asked, not wanting to be a burden upon him when he was obviously busy. He locked the crate and gave her a questioning look. "You are certain you need it? You are one of my best students in Magical Creatures – "
"Oh! Forgive me, that is not what I am asking for help in. Astronomy is the subject I am struggling with."
"Ah!" He nodded, his confusion lifted. "Well, in truth, I had noticed it was not your best subject."
She laughed at his honesty and was happy to have it, knowing that some of the other teachers would have merely told her that she was doing fine; it was good to know that Professor Gryffindor would be frank with her.
"It is certainly not my best subject and I would be very grateful if you give me some help with it. Perhaps you could offer me some pointers or – "
"Extra lessons would be no problem at all. In truth, the other professors think I do less work than them so this shall set them right." He grinned, leaning a little too heavily on the crate and one of the struts almost buckled. He stood back up quickly.
"Oh, well...thank you." Sarah was surprised; she hadn't been hoping for extra lessons, thinking he would be too busy but she would certainly welcome them seen as they were being offered.
"It is not a problem. Just come by my office after dinner on Thursday and we shall talk about what you have been struggling with."
She nodded and thanked him again before heading back towards the castle, leaving her professor to fiddle with the crate on the soft green grass.
The First Lesson
Annie's continuous squeals and questions left Sarah feeling a mixture of nerves, confusion and excitement as she walked from Gryffindor Tower down to the first floor where all of the Professors' offices were. She reached Professor Gryffindor's door and knocked three times. She heard a sigh, the scrape of a chair and footsteps from inside the room and she straightened her skirts, telling herself to calm down. This was just a lesson and Annie's nonsense earlier shouldn't make her think any different.
The heavy door was heaved open and she smiled at her Professor. He returned her smile but looked a little confused.
"Miss Clarke! What can I do for you?"
Sarah felt her face fall a little. "I am here for my lesson. The Astronomy lesson?" He still looked blank. "I asked for extra help and you told me to come and see you after dinner."
"Oh! Yes, of course!" He stepped aside and beckoned her inside. "I completely forgot."
Sarah entered the room, feeling awkward and as though she was making him teach her when he didn't particularly want to or have time to. She sighed and said, "Professor, if you do not have the time to teach me that is fine. I can manage – "
He shook his head, brushing away her suggestion. "No, no. No need for that. I mostly certainly do have time to teach you, I assure you. I had merely forgotten about what time I told you to come. Now..." He looked around his office and reached for a large, heavy book. He pulled it out from underneath a teetering pile of parchment and, naturally, it all crashed down. Sarah picked up the parchment from the floor and placed it all back on the table as he thanked her and opened the book, brushing away a little dust.
"Right. So...what was is specifically that you were having trouble with?"
"Well, if I am honest, almost all of what you and Professor Ravenclaw have taught us so far this year. Last year was not so difficult and I could manage passably but this year, things have been so complex and I have struggled to understand some of the theories."
He nodded and looked down at the book again, leafing through it slowly. "Very well...I propose that we read through the notes of all of the lessons so far this year and you can tell me what you would like me to explain more about. Does that sound acceptable?"
Sarah beamed. "Yes, that sounds wonderful."
"Here." He gestured to the chair at the desk and she sat down, watching him clear some of the papers and goblets off his desk with amusement. He seemed a little embarrassed that his rooms were in such a mess but, in truth, she hadn't expected anything else; she, along with all of the other students, knew that Professor Gryffindor was the least organised teacher they had but he usually made up for that by being the most entertaining. He finally cleared enough space for him to perch on the desk, flicking back through the book to the start and managing to locate his own notes on the lessons he had taught. He scanned over them and made a face.
"Ah...do you have any notes? It is just that mine seem to be rather...lacking in substance."
She couldn't resist laughing when she caught sight of the pieces of parchment with a few rogue sentences and important words on them and nothing else. No detailed plan, no notes of points to go over and certainly no notes of what Professor Ravenclaw had taught. He looked surprised by her laughter but quickly joined in, admitting that preparation and details were not his speciality.
"Oh, I did not guess." She replied a little cheekily while pulling out her own notes and presenting them to him. He examined them and smiled.
"Yes, I think we should probably work from these; they are much more satisfactory." He read on a little further and murmured, without his eyes leaving the parchment, "Your handwriting is lovely."
Sarah was caught off guard by the compliment and found herself blushing wildly. She cursed inwardly, reminding herself that he had merely said that her handwriting was lovely not that she was lovely. Thankfully, he was too engrossed in reading her notes to notice her flustered state. In truth, Sarah was frustrated with herself; acting like a silly girl did not suit her. She always prided herself on being sensible and this ridiculous infatuation did not comply with that.
It would simply have to stop. Now.
Well, Sarah reasoned, perhaps it should not stop right now. After all, their hands had just accidently brushed as they both leaned over the Astronomy book and Sarah had only just resisted shivering.
It would stop...after this lesson.
Godric heard Helga sigh and rolled his eyes; a lecture on how he should be more careful was surely on its way. Sure enough...
"Oh, Godric. Why must you insist on bringing in all of these creatures? If you can become injured, then so can the students after all. Do you really think they all enjoy seeing their teacher injured by a cockatrice?"
He waved his good arm in dismissal of her warning. "Oh, they will be fine Helga. I only was injured because I was – "
"Showing off?" Helga finished with a grin and waving her wand over the deep cut on his left forearm.
The Hospital Wing had been something that Helga had insisted that she should be in charge of and her friends had no issue with her suggestion. Helga was the most caring out of all of them and it seemed only logical that she should be the one to look after the students if they became sick or were the victim of a nasty hex. Except that Helga had Godric in the Hospital Wing more than any student and it seemed she was becoming exasperated with his antics.
Helga had gone quiet and had turned her attentions from the cut to his shoulder joint which he had wrenched rather unpleasantly. He felt her eyes study him and he turned to look at her, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"What is it Helga?"
She shook her head and was obviously trying not to smile. "Nothing." She continued her work in silence, waving her wand over his sore shoulder. But it seemed Helga couldn't hold her thoughts in her head any longer and asked, "Were you showing off for Miss Clarke again?"
Godric stared at her, bewildered by her question. "What on earth do you mean?"
She snorted. "Do not pretend to not understand my meaning, Godric. You know very well what I am talking about. Was she in your class this afternoon?"
"Well, yes but..." He floundered. "That is hardly the point. I was merely trying to give them all a good look at the cockatrice. I was not trying to 'show off'. I want them to be entertained and to find the study of Magical Creatures interesting."
Helga raised her eyebrows at his passionate defence. "This is all very well but I know there is more to it than that. You are trying to show off so Miss Clarke will pay more attention to you."
Godric spluttered. "Helga, where has this come from? It is nonsense!"
Helga sighed and lowered her wand. "If it is obvious to me, it is obvious to everyone else; you favour her over your other students and you cannot!"
"I do not, Helga!" Godric insisted.
She rolled her eyes. "You cannot hide if from me, Godric. But if you want to continue hiding from yourself...well that is your choice. Just be careful; you do not want a scandal to break out." With a final wave of her wand, Helga was finished and Godric stood up, straightening out his shirt and frowning.
"I am glad to be going, Helga, so we can finish this ludicrous conversation. I honestly do not know where you get these silly ideas from sometimes."
"Keep denying it to yourself Godric, but you cannot fool me."
Godric glared as Helga dismissed him with an expression torn between amusement and concern. He shook his head at her and strode out of the Hospital Wing and onto the main staircase where he collided with something short and soft.
"Oh! Sorry Professor!"
He looked down to see Miss Clarke smiling up at him and he couldn't resist smiling back despite knowing that Helga could probably see and hear everything.
"Are you quite well after your earlier incident with the cockatrice?" She asked sweetly. Her expression turned into barely contained amusement as she recalled the lesson. "He did look awfully fierce and he seemed rather angry at you being so casual with him."
Godric was sure he could hear Helga titter with laugher behind him. "Ah, yes. Well, it seemed that carelessness cost me some skin and a healthy shoulder joint so I shan't be doing it again."
"I am glad. You gave us all quite a scare."
"Hurry Sarah!" Godric saw Miss Kenneth calling for her friend at the top of the stairs. "Oh, excuse me Professor." Miss Kenneth apologised, spotting Godric there and smiling slightly as she looked from him back to her friend.
"Coming Annie!" Miss Clarke called back, before turning back to Godric and saying, "Well...I must go." She was halfway up the stairs when she called back down to him. "I shall see you after dinner, Professor?"
"Ah yes, of course! Farewell until then, Miss Clarke."
She smiled and joined her friend and the two them wandered out of sight, gossiping and giggling. Helga came to stand by Godric, watching the students rush past them, eager to get back to their dorms now lessons were over. She gave him a worried look.
"What is happening after dinner, Godric?"
He couldn't help but laugh at her serious expression. "Oh, do not fear Helga there is no scandal. Miss Clarke is struggling with her Astronomy studies and I am giving her a little extra tuition. It is nothing to be concerned about."
"Make sure it is not. While you may be able to control any feelings you may have, Miss Clarke is a young woman and she may not. For once Godric, I am afraid you will have to be the sensible one."
He laughed again and rolled his eyes. "Honestly Helga! There is no problem here! I am not guilty of any favouritism and Miss Clarke is not harbouring some illicit infatuation for me."
Falling Into Routine
This illicit infatuation has to stop, Sarah told herself firmly as she knocked on Professor Gryffindor's door after dinner one wintery night.
He pulled open the door and beckoned her in with a smile. Sarah wandered inside and was surprised to see that he had laid out notes on the desk ready. She had an extra lesson with him most weeks since the first one two months ago and he had never once had any notes so she wondered why he had decided that he should be a little more organised now. She leafed through them with a raised eyebrow.
"I confess myself impressed. I did not think you had the patience to write all of this."
He glanced over his shoulder, pouring a goblet of wine as he did. He chuckled. "Oh, I did not. Helga – Professor Hufflepuff – foisted one of my younger students on me after lessons. Apparently he had been throwing parchment at some of the Slytherin students." Instead of sounding irritated, he merely sounded amused. "His punishment was to write up all of those notes." He plucked them from her fingers and surveyed them himself. "He did a fine job. Let us hope he finds trouble more often. We may have a decent set of notes."
She laughed and accepted the drink he offered, sipping at it before placing the gold goblet on the desk in front of her and taking a seat without him offering it. He took up his usual place on the edge of the desk and handed her back the notes asking,
"What would you like to discuss today?"
Sarah discarded parchment after parchment until finally she rested on a page that contained information she was clueless about.
"I can never remember the names of all of the constellations. Perhaps we could go over them and find a way for me to recall them." He nodded slowly, thinking. She smiled slightly as she watched him. "Surely you can think of something to aid me? Through all of your travels, you must have learned how to navigate by the stars?"
"Well yes, of course." He thought a little longer before finally saying, "I suppose I could begin by telling you about the first constellation I ever learned about: Leo."
Sarah settled back in the warm chair, enjoying the warmth of the thick red throw and slid off her shoes, tucking up her feet beneath her. He had, on occasion, told her tales of his travels before he had settled down to build Hogwarts with his friends and she always enjoyed them.
"If I recall correctly, it was a clear night and I was sleeping beneath the stars with a group of fellow travellers who I had met earlier that day. I was young then, a little inexperienced I will not lie, and among the group was an old wizard who barely ever took his eyes off the stars. I asked him what he found so fascinating about the sky and he began telling me that the stars were so much more than navigational tools; he told me of each constellation's story. I was intrigued by each one but it was the story of Leo that caught my attention."
He paused here to take a swig from his goblet and he cleared his throat loudly before continuing.
"In mythology, it was said that, as part of his twelve labours, Heracles the fearsome warrior had to slay a lion; a supposedly invulnerable beast. After blocking the lion in its cave, he fought it and managed to choke it to death. Once he had killed the lion, he used its teeth to strip it of its skin and he fashioned it into a cloak. He then wore the lion's head atop of his own to make him look even fiercer than before."
He finished the story and Sarah frowned into the silence. "I am sorry, Professor but I do not understand. Why did the story of the defeated lion influence you to use it as the symbol of Gryffindor? Surely it would have been far more logical to use a truly invulnerable creature?"
He chuckled and slightly and nodded. "I understand your ideas and I confess that I thought the same after hearing the tale. But as the days passed and my fellow travellers and I parted ways, the story stayed with me and I could not fathom why that was. Then, as I became older, I realised why: no creature is truly invulnerable. And the power of the lion does not lie in its strength: it lies in its ability to remain fearless even in death. And that is how it lives on...through legend and myths. It was at then that I knew that I needed to consider what I myself would leave behind."
Sarah considered this for a moment and she felt the story's true meaning open up to her. "It was due to the tale surrounding Leo that you decided to open Hogwarts?"
He nodded. "One of the reasons, yes. I wanted to ensure that when I was ready to pass on, I would be able to look back through my life and know that I had achieved something."
The lesson continued well into the evening and Sarah lost track of time as she listened to her Professor tell her tale after tale, sinking back into the chair that surrounded her with comforting warmth she was reluctant to give up.
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