Chapter 4 : Merlin's Apprentice
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Molly and the twins stepped out of the fireplace at the Burrow; their bags were waiting for them on the kitchen table.
“Right now, how would you two like some pumpkin juice, then we will sort out rooms for you?” smiled Molly.
They sat at the kitchen table while Molly got the drinks, the twins looked round the room, thoughtfully, and Tarquin spotted the clock, which told you where members of the family were.
“George is travelling” He said idly “Oh! It says he's home now.”
“What?” said Mrs. Weasley in surprise?
“Hi mum, thought you might be lonely so I popped round, ” Came Georges voice from the living room “oh hello you two” He added noticing the two children as he walked into the kitchen.
“Hi George.” The twins smiled., They knew he was the surviving Weasley twin and liked him, especially after their day on the beach. Though the fact that he owned a joke shop had certainly lifted him in the twins esteem.
“The twins have come to stay for a while.” Molly told him smiling. “But it was good of you to come and see me George.”
“Well Angelina said it was fine, it's quiet at the shop today.” He responded joining them at the table and turning to the twins. “Well you two, if you are staying has mum given you the grand tour yet?”
The twins shook their heads. “Not yet George.”
“Right, well we'll do that in a while?” He grinned.
“George give them chance to settle in, we've only been back two minutes before you got here.” Molly laughed as she made bacon sandwiches for everyone.
After a late lunch George helped the twins settle into bedrooms, Tarquin picked George's old room whilst Delilah was next door in what had been Percy's room. George helped them with their bags guiding the luggage up the stairs with his wand, and then left them to unpack. By the time they came back downstairs Molly had filled George in about Eli and Maggie, he had called Angelina at the shop to let her know what was going on, luckily the shop was still quiet, but George still promised to be back by closing time.
They heard the twins rushing down the stairs before they burst excitedly into the room. He smiled. “Right you two ready for Georges special tour?”
“Yes please.” said Delilah grabbing his hand and dragging him to his feet.
“George, these two aren't used to you yet, don't make it too much of George's special, I want them back in one piece.” said Molly.
“Can't be done mum,” he grinned winking to the twins as they pulled him to the door, “there are two of them, they are twins so I can't bring them back in one piece it will have to be two.”
The twins laughed, but Molly looked at her son sternly “you know what I mean George.” she called as the three finally disappeared through the door. She started chuckling as she collected the lunch dishes from the sink.
Vernon arrived back at Privet Drive after a difficult day at work. It had been one of those days where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, he feared his luck would not change when he reached home. He still held out hope his wife and son would have returned home whilst he had been out. He felt terrible having not slept the night before; even his usually timid secretary had plucked up the courage to nervously suggest he should go home early.
He knew as soon as he entered the road that his family had not returned. He parked the car and crossed the road to Mrs. Figgs. The old woman had been his sons friend for the last year, he wanted answers and he guessed she might be able to provide them. He hammered on the door, there was now answer, he hammered again, still no answer, he looked through the window, the house was empty, no furniture or even carpets were left. Vernon turned angrily and went home.
He rang for a take away; he had a kitchen full of food, but no idea how to cook it. While he waited for the food to arrive he decided he needed a friendly face. He rang his sister, Marge; this was the one place he knew he could turn for sympathy, the one individual left he knew he could count on.
“Marge it's Vernon I need you.” He said, softly when his sister answered the phone. Pausing for a moment while he listened “No, it's fine, Marge bring the dogs, Petunia has left me, so has Dudley” he added she assured him she was on the way and he put the phone down. His sister was the first person he had admitted this to, it was the first time he had admitted it to even himself, he knew he would probably not see his wife and son for a long time if at all. His takeaway meal arrived so he sat at the kitchen table eating his solitary meal then watched the news, waiting for his sister to arrive.
Petunia lay on the four-poster bed in the lovely bedroom. She had just awoken and was simply enjoying relaxing in the warm bed, feeling safer than she had for a very long time. She looked at her watch that was on the bedside cabinet, four o'clock, she had slept for five hours, she would have to rise soon or she knew she wouldn't sleep that night. She wondered what time Molly would arrive, although they had only really got to know each other at the wedding a week ago, the witch was the first person to show her true friendship for many years and she was truly looking forward to seeing her again She heard movement from the room next door.
From the sounds she could hear from the next bedroom, Dudley had risen and was moving around. She heard his door open then close again, a moment later there was a gentle knock on the door.
“Come in Dud” she called.
He put his head round the door “You all right mum? We ought to get up and go downstairs.”
“Yes love, I will.” She smiled “By the way thanks Dudley, if it hadn't been for you, he would have really hurt me last night, as it is what he tried to do was just the final straw for me, made me realize what I had ignored for years.”
“Mum don't worry, it's over, he can't find us here, even if he knew where we are. I am just glad we have somewhere to stay.” He reassured.
“I know, but I have to decide what to do next.”
“That's up to you mum, but first I think we should enjoy this evening then you can decide what you want to do. I will see if George's offer of a job is open and see if Ginny was serious about that slimming potion she mentioned last year. A new start, a new me what do you think?” Dudley smiled.
“Yes I like that, just keep the weight of though Dud. I need to find out about my sister though, It's time I stopped envying her and got to know what she was really like, that's partly why I want to talk to Molly. Once I have spoken to her, I shall be in a better position to decide what I do next. Anyway you go down, I will be there in a few minuets.”
Dudley nodded, withdrew his head and went down stairs. He entered the sitting room to find Ginny talking to Andromeda while Teddy played on the rug; Harry was asleep on one of the sofas.
Ginny turned as he came through the door “Hi Dud, had a good sleep?”
“Yes thanks Ginny, Mums getting up too. Is Harry all right?”
“Yes, he can't use the potion any more so he sleeps a lot again, it's getting better though, slowly.” She smiled. “Madam Pomfrey will be here soon to give him his check up anyway.”
Dudley sat down “Oh yes speaking of potions, were you serious about the one that would help me loose weight?”
Andromeda smiled “There is one Dudley, if you are sure about it we'll talk to Poppy, but it's not an easy answer really though it will help. You can only take it for two days then you must watch what you eat.”
“ I see, I guess even in the magical world there are sometimes no easy answers. I would like to give it a try though.” He replied.
Ginny smiled “Dud easy answers are often thin on the ground, we haven't the answers to everything, it's part of the reason we stay hidden from the muggles, many would expect us to cure everything and we can't. I am sure Poppy will help with this though.”
“Fair enough.” Dudley replied.
They turned as Petunia entered the room and greeted her, she assured them that she had slept well and the room was wonderful. She had just sat down when, green flames appeared in the fireplace and Madam Pomfrey stepped out. “Afternoon everyone.” She said looking round the room and spotting Dudley and Petunia. “Oh, sorry. I didn't realize you had guests, shall I come back later?”
Petunia was looking wide-eyed, surprised at the witch's sudden appearance from under the mantelpiece.
“It's fine Poppy.” said Ginny “This is Dudley, Harry's cousin and his mum, Harry's aunt Petunia, they were at the wedding and have come to stay, well actually they have nowhere else to go yet so we are helping them start new lives.”
A look of recognition came over the healers face “Oh yes I remember you now, it's good to see you again. Don't worry; floo is my usual entrance here. I take it your new lives are going to be with us, well I am glad. Harry has told me a lot about you and how you have changed over the last year. Anyway, let me guess, my favourite patient is asleep, as usual when I get here?” she smiled cheekily.
“I was Poppy,” said Harry opening his eyes “and as usual you arrive when I'm resting as ordered.” He grinned.
“Anyone would think you arranged it dear, just for me” Poppy grinned, “Right let's check you over.”
“Should we leave you to it Doctor?” petunia asked
“No, there's no need for you to leave us, please call me Poppy. We don't have doctors; I'm a healer Mrs. Dursley. This won't take long, examining Harry never does, persuading him to rest when he is not in my hospital wing, now that's the challenge.” She smiled as she set to work and Harry groaned, accepting being the butt of his friends comment.
“Do call me Petunia, I guess that's a side to him I have yet to discover.” Harry's Aunt smiled back.
“Oh Petunia, Harry can be quite stubborn, especially if he thinks he is fine when he isn't.” Ginny laughed.
“Thanks for the support my beloved.” Harry said dryly, pretending to look hurt.
“Don't pout, dearest.” Ginny smiled and patted him on the head fondly.” You wouldn't expect me to hide such a thing from your Aunt would you.” she bent and kissed him before he could respond.
Teddy looked round bewildered as everyone laughed.
“Best quit while you are ahead Harry.” Dudley laughed.
Poppy checked Harry as soon as she had calmed down enough. “Well as usual no change, now Harry I have talked with Minerva about spacing your class's this year to allow you to rest between teaching so you will have no more than two class in a row and Friday's for cabinet again. Ginny yours are the same so you can keep an eye on him and if you want we shall carry on with our sessions too. Your teaching schedule isn't heavy so there would be time.”
“That will be great Poppy.” Ginny smiled “Now while you are here can we ask a favour?”
“Of course you can my dear. What is it?”
“Well Dudley has been trying to loose weight for years with not much success really as soon as he looses it, he puts it back on, I wondered whether we could use that potion you told me about, to help him?”
“Hmm, well I'll have to make some, it has to be specially brewed for each person. Dudley, are you happy to let me do an examination of you, find your general state of health and get what I need to mix it up?” Poppy asked. Dudley agreed and watched curiously as she passed her wand over him. “Well that seems in order, by the way your heart is strained Dudley, it could become a serious problem, but I can fix it for you after you have lost some weight. Now I need a hair sample, then I have all I need to make the potion for you.”
Dudley plucked a hair from his head, Poppy put it in a vial she conjured and corked it securely. “Are you sure it will be fine to make it for me? I don't want you to get into trouble for making it for a muggle” he asked.
“Oh yes it's fine, don't worry, now I will be back the day after tomorrow to check Harry and I will bring the potion with me then. Two doses over the following two days then I will monitor you for a week, then a potion to stop it when we get to your ideal weight, but remember you can't use it again for at least five years so it will be up to you to keep the weight off. Otherwise carry on as usual we shall sort out that heart problem next week to, then you will be fit to go. Right anything else while I am here?”
“Yes,” said Harry everyone looked “ Are you going to sit down and have a drink now and give us your news?”
Poppy laughed, “ Of course Harry.”
Vernon heard the distinctive sound of his sister's Range Rover stop outside, he went to open the door and greet her. He opened the door to see her opening the back of the large car and five dogs jumped out, barking as they sniffed round the front garden, she closed the door, called the dogs to heel and walked towards her brother carrying a suit case.
“Hello Vernon dear, come on let's get the kettle on and you tell me all about it.” she said, the dogs following her in.
They sat in the kitchen, whilst Vernon told his version of what had happened. Whilst he didn't exactly lie he missed out he fact that he had tried to hit his wife, rather he made Dudley's attack sound unprovoked. He emphasized their recent actions in defying him to attend Harry's wedding and his view that somehow the boy must have brainwashed them. His sister of course had no idea what Harry really was, she had no notion of the magical world, like Vernon she despised anything abnormal anyway and in her opinion the runt her brother had taken in was beneath contempt.
“Well Vernon, it sounds to me like you are well shot of them at the moment. If they can't see you behave reasonably, if they insist the scrawny runt is a good role model and worth a second thought then that's there look out. I warned you when you took him in that he was more trouble than he as worth, but of course Petunia insisted. You have done your best with the boy, but you can't make a silk purse from a sows ear Vernon. I am just so sorry your compassion has been rewarded with betrayal, you don't deserve that. The boy has a lot to answer for,” she told him matter of factually. She continued in a business like manner. “They will come crawling back when they come to their senses, mark my words, then you can show what a fine, upstanding man you are. In the mean time we need to get you sorted out so you are in a fit state to welcome them home and deal with that treacherous runt. We must show them that their departure has changed nothing, I will stay for as long as you like, of course. We can do nothing for your ungrateful family until we hear from them and I bet that won't take long.”
Comforted by her words Vernon nodded “You are right Marge, wherever they are they can't possibly be happy. I knew you would see things clearly. I think if you will excuse me I shall go for a quick bath and get changed.”
“Good show, that's the spirit, carry on and everything will be fine. Whilst you do that, I shall look in the freezer and find something for us to eat, a man with your responsibilities can't survive on takeaways.” She said pointing at the wrappers on the worktop. “Would you take my case up for me dear?”
George did look after the twins as he showed them round the Burrow and the land that his parents owned, after all he knew only to well what his mothers wrath felt like, he didn't want to risk being it's target if the children got hurt. In fact the twins thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon with George, he even took them flying on the families broomsticks helping them to feel comfortable flying and teaching them some Quiditch moves. Neither twin had enjoyed learning to fly at school, their Aunt had considered it a frivolous skill and so they had not applied themselves in the class accepting her view, but now, free of her influence they entered into it whole heartedly, impressing George with how quickly they learnt. When they got back to the house, they were a little disappointed that he had to go back to the shop, he promised they would see him again soon as he waved and disappeared into the floo.
At teatime Molly gave them a snack, to tide them over until they got to Grimauld place for dinner, Arthur arrived just as they finished eating. They washed changed their clothes while Arthur had a bite to eat before he and Molly changed ready to leave as soon as Maria arrived. They didn't have to wait long before the excited girl arrived, keen, yet slightly nervous, to see Dudley again.
Harry and Ginny hugged the twins and Ginny's parents when they arrived; Dudley and Maria were kissing and cuddling a welcome, relieved to see each other again. Molly turned to greet Petunia.
“Petunia, I am so sorry. It's very sad.” she said.
“Yes Molly it is, but I'm already thinking it was inevitable.” petunia sighed sadly, as the two ladies hugged.
“Come on let's go and talk. All right if we use the drawing room Harry?” Molly asked.
“Yes of course it is, we have a while before dinner and I hear we have two students who want to see our library and learn Quiditch.” He smiled.
Molly laughed, “Yes you certainly have.” The twins grinned broadly, nodding.
Molly and Petunia went to the drawing room to chat, the twins had been introduced around and Teddy took to them straight away. Arthur and Andromeda talked in the sitting room while Harry and Ginny showed the twins, Dudley and Maria round the house. Dudley had been before, but the library amazed the others, especially as every book they mentioned floated down to the reading table. Delilah had a very Hermione look on her face whilst they were in there.
“I could spend day's in here just reading,” she said
Tarquin rolled his eyes “Delilah, please, not day’s.”
“Well you have to admit it is brilliant.” she replied.
“Yes I suppose it is.”
When they reached the transforming room it appeared to be simply an office, until Ginny asked for a Quiditch pitch, even Dudley was impressed, he had not seen the room transform before nor had he seen a Quiditch pitch.
“Wow Harry no wonder you guy's don't need a TV, how does the game work.”
“Shall we show him?” Harry smiled Ginny and Maria nodded.
“Can we play?” called the twins.
“Of course you can.” Ginny replied “As your new sports teacher I thoroughly approve. One Bludger only. I know these two have learnt to fly, but I also know they aren't very confident on a broom yet”
“ That was because Aunt Delores thought flying and Quiditch were a waste of time, so we didn't want to learn. George took us flying this afternoon at the Burrow though, he taught us a lot,” said Tarquin.
“Did he? Well my brother is a good teacher, let's see what you can do.” Ginny smiled.
Brooms appeared for all of them except Dudley. The twins did a few laps of the pitch showing off the new skills that George had taught them, while Harry took the box with the balls to the centre of the pitch.
“Wow twins, you are doing well how about you play chasers, Maria are you happy playing beater, I'll go in goal and Harry you be seeker as usual.”
Maria agreed and the game began, Harry launched the Quaffle which Delilah caught and went diving down the pitch towards Ginny, even managing to dodge a Bludger on the way, she scored.
Dudley restarted the game watching in amazement as the game sped up and the players zoomed around the pitch, Harry floating high above them. Harry had in fact spotted the snitch and was keeping an eye on it, but didn't dive for it, instead he was letting the twins enjoy themselves as they grew in confidence, and they would with practice be a formidable pair of chasers.
Eventually he saw Kreacher enter the room and dived to catch the snitch and end the game. They all landed next to Dudley who was gob smacked.
“Blimey what a game, that was incredible.” He said putting an arm round Maria.
“Wait until you see a full game Dud.” Smiled Harry.
“There's one near us this weekend, Holyhead Harpies verses Puddlemere, but I will have to get tickets.” Maria said.
“Tell you what we'll sort that out, if you don't mind we'll see if we can take the twins.” said Ginny “I have a contact with the Harpies.”
Maria nodded and the twins cheered.
“You two are going to be brilliant chasers you know. But, you need practice. If you do I bet you make your house team this year.” Grinned Harry.
The twins were excited as they went down the stairs and into the dining room for dinner and told Molly about the Quiditch Match.
The tall, powerful looking man standing next to the lodge didn't flinch, his long, golden hair dancing lightly behind him in the breeze. From his clothes Utred knew he must be a Lord, he had a long fur cloak and brightly coloured tunic and hose. His leather boots reached his knees, chain mail extended to form a skirt from beneath the tunic down to his knees, from his belt hung a magnificent sword in a jewelled scabbard that was so big it's tip was only a couple of inches above the ground.
He made no move to draw it or the sax that hung alongside it with a stick tucked between them, he simply looked at the two blades pointed at him and smiled.
“Ulf told me you would be cautious when you returned. I am Godric Gryffindor of Hogwarts.” The man calmly announced.
“Our caution is justified, when our home lies in ashes.” Utred replied, “How do we know that it wasn't you who lit the torch.”
“You don't Lord Utred, though I assure you my interest in you is not for your destruction. Perhaps you will allow me to demonstrate my good will.” Gryffindor replied and held his hand outstretched, “Accio the ring of the Huntrodds.”
Nothing happened for a moment, then with a whistling sound something gold flew from the direction of Tang and into Gryffindor's outstretched hand.
“Your Fathers ring is now yours Lord Utred. “ Gryffindor handed the ring to Utred “The symbol of your family.”
“I am Lord of three men, no lord at all.” Utred said gazing solemnly at the ring that had never left his fathers hand to his knowledge. He made a decision “I will not wear it on my hand until my family is restored.”
While Erik continued to keep the foible of his sword at the outsiders chest, Utred returned his weapon to it's sheath. He removed the thong of leather that was round his neck and threaded the ring next to his Thor's hammer charm, then replaced it round his neck. “I thank you Lord Gryffindor, but how did you retrieve it.”
Gryffindor watched the process appreciatively, seeing the boy was determined to restore his family. Godric was sure he would, one day; he had watched the boy secretly for a long time, noting the instances of accidental magic he detected with a device his own mentor had invented. All four founders had at one time or another observed the boy, but it had been Gryffindor who had noticed the bravery in training, the loyalty to his friends, even consideration towards slaves. He liked what he saw and had decided to speak with the boy's father, but events had over taken him, he had arrived in the wood and witnessed the destruction of Tang. His Magic had kept him safe, but now he needed to find Utred, he could sense the boy was still live. He had walked through the trees, following the direction his wand pointed, but the direction kept changing. He wondered if he had been spotted and Utred was trying to shake him off. He conjured shelter each night, until this morning he had arrived at the lodge, minutes after Utred had left with Erik.
Ulf had instantly recognized him, though it was years since he had last seen the wizard in the village where he had grown up. Lord Gryffindor had been summoned to advise the elders, but had taken the trouble to visit each house including Ulf's fathers where he and Ulf had played Hnefatafl into the late hours, they struck up a friendship in those few weeks while the elders sought Godric's advice and help. Ulf had just turned of age then, his adult life just starting and long before Ulf had left on a ship with the Utred's father who had helped defend their village from other Scots envious of their trade links with the Lord of Tang. Although they had won, Ulf's family had all been killed, the village Lord agreed to let him go with their loyal friend, Ulf had never regretted it, but still it was good to see Lord Gryffindor again, though he understood his friends reaction, he knew his friend did not need a sword to protect himself.
“My Lord” Erik addressed Utred as the young nobleman finished retying the leather at the back of his neck. “We don't know who might come here, we should talk inside, if you think we can trust this man.”
“Trust him? No not yet, but he has shown he is honourable, returning the ring to me.” Utred replied.” He can remain with us until either he has earned that trust, or we kill him as a traitor.”
Erik nodded and lowered his sword and the five men went into the lodge, Gryffindor was the last, Utred noticed he had stood out side muttering and gesticulating. Lights flashed around the lodge, then the stranger entered. “We are protected, the enemy could walk within five feet of us and not see the lodge now.” He told them, removing his blades and leaning them in view by the door.
Utred noted the sign of respect; this man may be trust worthy after all. He knew only a lord and his men may wear weapons in the Lords hall unless it was a declaration of war. the fact the new comer had left his out of reach, in full view of all was a sign of peaceful intent.” So why are you here Gryffindor and how did you retrieve the ring?” Utred asked as the men sat round the hearth and he took a bowl and ladled some stew from the pot hung above the fire.
He began to eat the broth that had been slowly cooking all day, this was his Hall, and the others would not eat until he did.
“I am here for you Utred.” Gryffindor replied Erik and Ulf helped themselves to the food, Ulf taking a bowl full to Orin who he had helped into the lodge and laid on one of the beds.
Erik placed his hand on his sword, but Utred signalled him to stop.. “Be careful Gryffindor, I trust these men, but you are a stranger. Why me?”
“Because Utred you and I have something in common, we are Wizards.” Gryffindor said in a manner as if this were a perfectly normal statement. Respecting tradition he only now got some stew him self, last after Utred's men had done so, he was a guest, but an uninvited one and he knew it.
“I'm a what?” Utred asked in disbelief.
“A Wizard.” Orin replied from the bed. “I have seen it for years my Lord. Young Godric speaks the truth. I know that, I knew him as a child, before I met your father Lord Utred. He came to me for his wand with his father.”
Godric stood and looked at the old man, puzzlement written on his face. “But my wand was made by a family in the village on the land of my fathers, the family are the best wand makers in Britain, how can you know of them old man?”
“I am of that family Godric, you played with my brother often.” The old man replied grimacing with pain from his wounds and the ride.
“It can't be?” Godric whispered, then began to wave his wand over the man, whose bruising instantly faded.
Utred watched fascinated as the wizard worked, he produced to flasks from which Orin drank. The man's cuts faded and healed and he was soon sitting up, the pain obviously gone.
“It is you. Merlin your family will be relieved. They have been searching for you for a very long time. It is good to see you again Orin.” Godric exclaimed.
“As it is you Lord Godric. My thanks to you” Orin acknowledged then turned to Utred to explain.” My father is a wand maker in Hogsmead, a few houses near Hogwarts, been wand makers over a thousand years my family, but I aren't a wizard, I'm a squib, first in the family, bit of a disgrace in some circles, so I came south, your grandfather took me in, been living as a muggle ever since, I can make wands though.” The old man said.
“Your brother runs the stall now Orin, with his son and grandson, I haven't seen you for years, you still look just like your brother.” Gryffindor told him kindly.
“We are twins, how did you know I was here?”
“Your brother told me about you, he knew. He hoped I would see you when I told him I was heading south, he hoped I could bring you back.”
“That's up to Lord Utred.” Orin replied. “I am sworn to his family and therefore to him.”
“Lord Gryffindor, it seems you are known to half my household, and certainly you appear able to work magic, my ring, what you did as we entered and now healing another as fast as I can heal myself. I think it's time you explained exactly what you have come for.” Utred said in wonder
It took a long time for Utred to accept that his known fast healing and other strange incidents were evidence that he was a wizard, they listened as the visitor explained how he had detected Utred's magic awaken years before. He described keeping watch after each incident, explaining he and his friends were tracing and watching children with this ability not born into known wizard families. He explained how there was an entire community of witches and wizards spread around the country, living in ordinary communities, often hidden. They were both Saxon and Norse, though all considered this island home, numbers were growing and he and his three friends were making efforts to draw them together. The spread of the Christian faith meant that many of that faith were developing a fear of magic; though some wizards in the past had been made saints for performing magic there was a growing danger as the bishops grew richer and resented outsiders getting their glory. The old faiths were fading and with them tolerance for wizards. Gryffindor told them there were other concerns too.
It was now very dark outside, they had talked long into the night, both Utred and Erik asking questions, but it was Erik who brought the conversation round to their immediate situation.
“My Lord we must not stay here after tonight, it can't be long before our enemy will find the track, we must ensure you are safe. At some point we must retrieve your horde, only you know where your father put it and you say it is not at Tang, it must be at Thwing then, so we must go there and beat the enemy to it.”
“It is not at Thwing.” Utred replied. “Thwing is lost along with Tang, of that I am certain, there was little defence there for the winter and if I were the King I would have already sent men there to destroy my fathers other home.”
“That may be so my lord, but we cannot be sure, we should at least go to try to rescue those we left there to maintain it.” Erik asked.
“I Know Erik, but it is many hours riding from here, we only have two horses, we cannot leave Orin for that long, nor take him with us,”Utred replied.
“If you will trust me Lord Utred I can take two of you to see the property and be back in as long as it takes to locate your people if needed.” Gryffindor said calmly.
“Gryffindor it is far away, we shouldn't split up for more than is necessary.” Utred replied.
“It will take but, a few minutes.”
Erik and Utred looked at him dubiously. “That's impossible.” Erik muttered.
“Not for a wizard” Ulf chuckled.
“Fine, Ulf you and I will go with Gryffindor, Erik you stay here, if we aren't back in an hour take the horses and find safety.” Utred decided then turned to the Wizard. “If you have lied to us I will kill you.”
“Trust takes time to build, I would expect no less Lord Utred.” Gryffindor smiled. “Eric, as a sign of good faith I leave my sword, a gift from Merlin himself, to ensure our safe return.” He took his sword from where he had left it and passed it to the warrior who nodded.
Gryffindor instructed Utred and Ulf to grasp his arm and turned on the spot, Utred felt like he was being squeezed on all sides for a moment, then they appeared on the hill over looking his summer residence.
The community was aflame, dark figures slaughtering animals and humans trying to escape the flames. They had left thirty to guard and maintain the estate over the winter; all were being slaughtered before their eyes. They heard movement to their side, Utred drew his sword at the same time as Ulf, Gryffindor had withdrawn his wand, all pointed towards the sound.
With a yell three men ran at them out of the darkness, their battle cry screaming from their throats, weapons flashing orange in the light from the flames. Only on carried a shield which bore the symbol of the enemy, Utred and Ulf stood their ground, timing their defence perfectly, a wave of Gryffindor's wand vanished the shield in time for Utred's sword to slash at the man's throat before he could react to his shields disappearance. Ulf had brought his blade down through a second attackers skull; both men were dead before they hit the ground. The third man carried a massive axe; he didn't flinch as his comrades fell. He swung the axe in great arcs keeping the swordsmen at bay, yelling obscenities loudly.
Utred and Ulf danced round the man ducking and weaving, watching for an opening to attack, Gryffindor unable to use his wand for fear of hitting one of them, otherwise unarmed, joined them to provide an added distraction. Ulf and Utred managed to slash at the axe man's limbs, causing cuts that would eventually weaken him, but they needed to defeat him before they tired. Then suddenly the man made a lunge for Gryffindor, his arm exposed Ulf's sword crashed down on the wrist of the hand holding the axe, which dropped, the severed hand still grasping the weapon. The man hardly had time to register the shock as Utred's sword was plunged through his heart.
The three men nodded to each other in gratitude as they caught their breath, they heard the sound of running men coming towards them, Gryffindor grabbed his two bloodied comrades and Utred again felt that strange squeezing sensation and in an instant they were back in the lodge.
“Odin, what the hell, Gryffindor if this was you your will regret this.” Erik shouted as he saw the three blood spattered figures appear, he drew Gryffindor's sword.
“No Eric, It wasn't him. They were there, we were all attacked, Gryffindor fought with us.” Utred shouted back.
Erik relaxed and sheathed the sword as the three men settled onto benches. Ulf told Erik and Orin what had happened while he and Utred cleaned the blood from their swords.
“So my lord, your first battle, sounds like you fought well, your father would be proud.” Erik said.
“Perhaps, but Thwing is definitely lost along with Tang.” Utred said sadly. “We need to go to a safe place, we can't stay here much longer, and they will find it.”
“We can't leave without your fathers horde.” Erik observed. “Where ever it is we can't let them get it. My lord, you say it isn't at Tang or Thwing, so where did your father bury it? We must retrieve it fast.”
Utred turned to Gryffindor “Summon it like you did the ring, it is the Huntrodds Horde.”
Gryffindor smiled, “Your family name, your father told me when we met.” He waved his wand and summoned the horde. “Lord Utred I hope you shall warn me if I need to duck.” he added, a twinkle of mischief in his eye.
The straw covered floor under Erik's feet began to move, rising to form a growing mound, he yelped and jumped out of the way as three chests emerged from the ground beneath the bench he had been sat on, knocking it over. He laughed “My Lord you might have warned me.”
Gryffindor levitated the chests to the side of the room.
“Does that answer your question Erik” laughed Utred to his friend. “I didn't want to spoil your surprise.
Erik looked slightly put out. “My lord, we are not safe, we need to go somewhere you will be. What are we to do, we cannot remain here?”
“I have a solution.” Gryffindor answered. “Until now people with our ability are only able to develop it if they are lucky enough to find a trained wizard they can be apprentice to, or be taught it by others in their family. I was apprentice to Merlin himself, but it's all very hit and miss, if left untaught the wizard or witch cannot control their magic properly and can become a danger to themselves and others. Sadly I have seen the result of this and poor teaching too often, so together with three friends I am starting a school. At my estate in Scotland we are building a community, it will be safe for all magical folk and creatures, no muggles can find it unless taken there so you will be well protected whilst you learn. We are now searching for students, you would be my first since we started, my first apprentice at Hogwarts, and you will learn to control your power from all four of us and any others we invite to teach. Each of us has our strengths and will teach the students accordingly, all we ask in return is that you help support the school, erecting the buildings, growing food, hunting that sort of thing. All of you will be welcome. Erik and Ulf you are Muggles, non magic folk, but you could teach none magical defence, Orin, as I said your family are in the nearby village and would love to see you again. Utred from what I have seen you are the type of person I seek for my own house, brave, honourable, you who know your duty to others. It would be an honour to welcome you to my estate my Lord.”
“I must avenge my family” Utred said.
“I know.” Gryffindor nodded, “you will, you are a man of honour, I would expect nothing less and promise that when that day comes I will be at your side, but you are in no position to do it now, you need time to build your reputation, you cannot take the city.”
“No, well Gryffindor, how do we get to your school.?”
“You wish to join my house? You wish to learn to control your ability? It will not be easy.”
“Yes.” Utred replied simply.
“And the rest of you? Will you come too?” Gryffindor asked, knowing the answer, but as was his way, giving all a choice.
“We go where our Lord goes.” Erik replied, Ulf and Orin nodded.
“I take that as your oath to me Lord Utred.” Gryffindor said.
Gryffindor stood, “Very well.” he nodded then called. “Flame.”
A flash of yellow flame appeared, and faded revealing a magnificent orange bird. “Flame these four men must be taken to Hogwarts at the same time I take the lodge and it's contents.” the bird sang. “Grasp my phoenix tail, the horses will come too, you are safe.”
They stood behind the hovering bird, as it's beautiful song filled the room and warmed their hearts, it was strangely calming, reassuring. They each grasped the tail feathers of the bird, suddenly feeling weightless as they touched the fire coloured feathers. Utred saw Gryffindor wave his wand in a large arc, muttering some odd words. There was a flash of bright yellow light, and they were still standing in the same spot in the lodge, holding the birds tail, Gryffindor smiling putting his wand back in his belt.
“What's wrong? Why didn't it work?” Utred asked.
“It did.” said Godric.
Utred looked puzzled and almost jumped as he heard a hammering at the door, the three warriors drew their swords.
“Is that you Godric?” a voice called.
“Of course it is Salazar, only we four can bring things through the wards you know that, and only I was on a trip.” Gryffindor called.
“You bloody old fool, you only just missed me with this shack. Don't tell me this wreck is all you could find instead of a student.” The voice of whoever this Salazar was sounded both angry and mocking.
“ Stop being dramatic Salazar, you were at least six feet away.” Godric Laughed.
“Yes and right behind those Horses, you don't want to know how they reacted, Godric. Now are you going to open the door or not?” The voice said.
Gryffindor laughed even harder, motioning them to put their swords away. Once they had he opened the door to reveal an angry looking man who was pointing at a smelly mess steaming on his shoe.
Firstly my apologies for the long wait, real life intruded with both myself and my Beta having a very busy few weeks.
Next my usual Thanks to Ariesgirl 40 for Betaing this chapter and to all those who have taken the trouble to review and for your support after the death of my friend, it was apreciated and really helped, I am truly grateful for that.
My thanks also to those who have read this story.
It seems you quite enjoy the historical notes so I have planned some for the future, see below.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter, I am looking forward to reading what you think.
Hnefatafl: (pronounced: na fer taffle). Board game of strategy involving white pieces defending a king piece from attack by the black pieces, it is played on board or cloth divided into squares. Often described as Viking age Chess this game was popular and many boards and playing pieces have been found in excavations in various styles. The game is available today in the U k at least and is commonly called “The Viking Game” although it is not the only game known to have been played in the period.
Anatomy of a Sword:
The foible of a sword is the top 12 inches of the blade from the tip, the weakest part of the blade. Conversely the base of the blade nearest the hilt is the strongest part and called the forte. Hence the descriptions of peoples weaknesses being their foibles and strengths being a forte. At the bottom of the handle is a pommel that could be used to pummel an enemy. The grove along the flat of the blade ensures it can be withdrawn from a body easily. Interestingly only swords from England and Japan of this period were made by folding two types of metal and welding them together in a forge, a laborious process that gave the blade added strength. This technique appears to have been developed by the two cultures independently of each other and at about the same time, the method spread through Europe via the Vikings.
Gryffindor's description betrays signs of wealth in the 10th century. He bears a sword (cost about the same as a reasonably sized house does these days), his clothes are colourful, dye was expensive, and he wears furs and rich jewellery too. Together with the arm bands indicating a successful warrior this would be how Utred knew he was a Lord.
Utred's ring would be a sign he was head of a wealthy family it may even bear the seal of the family, it was a sign of power and recognition.
All houses at the time would have a stew cooking over the fire at all times, at meal times the head of the house would take their portion first, followed by the woman of the house then the other family. Guests, unless invited to at another time, would take theirs before any children who were last. In the case in the lodge Gryffindor was showing great respect by waiting until last. At the end of the day meat and any seasonal or stored veg would be added to ensure the pot was full for the next day. In a home setting the meal might be supplemented with bread (home baked on stones around the fire) or may be foregone in favour of fish baked in the embers. Often the stew would not contain meat but the cheapest seafood available, Oysters. Literally millions of Oyster shells are found in the remains of the period, it is also interesting to note the poor only ate Salmon. Oh how times have changed. Meat, fish and shellfish were a major part of the diet, with grain (probably in the form of bread) being available year round. Fruit and vegetables only available seasonally. We know a lot about diet of the time from environmental samples found in cess-pits (yes I have excavated quite a few, and in my home city even the smell is preserved in them).
Ok hope all that's of interest, any suggestions for next time? Please let me know. I will of course add any chapter specific ones too. However if there are any more general topics you would like me to cover please do tell me.
Ones planned for future chapters.
Who would be in an army of the time, different types of fighter?
The 10th century treatment for head lice. (They all had them).
How to tell a married 10th century girl from an unmarried one.
Life of 10th century women.
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