Albus had never seen a forest so beautiful. It was almost surreal; pulled straight from one of his stories or fantasies. As much as he'd have liked to stand and admire the view all day, he didn't have a chance. It all happened so fast. One moment he was standing there, watching a flock of birds streak across the sky in perfect formation, the next moment, he was face down on the ground, mouth full of dirt with a foot pressed against the middle of his back.
“Your name? Answer now and answer true or I will have your tongue for a trophy.”
Such words might have been frightening to the young boy, had they not been carried to him on the sweet, and shaky, voice of a fifteen-year-old girl. He smirked at the ground and pushed himself onto his knees, forcing his assailant to remove her foot from his back and step away. He climbed to his feet and clapped his hands together to rid them of the dirt that clung to his scraped palms.
“I asked for your name, boy.” Standing before Albus was a vision more lovely than the forest around her. She had a delicate, heart-shaped face, set with soft hazel eyes. Her long brown hair was pulled back into a plait, woven with a silver ribbon. Her dress was emerald with silver etchings and clearly made of the finest material there was to offer.
On first glance you would have expected to find this girl sitting at a banquet table, not standing in the middle of the forest. But on closer inspection it was clear she'd been wandering for quite some time. The bottom of her dress was tattered mildly, stained with brown from the earth. Flyaway strands graced her hair and tiny bits of leaves had embedded themselves in it.
Albus took a step back. As delicate as the girl appeared, it didn't change the fact she held a dagger in her hand, perched on her fingers expertly, aimed straight for his throat. “A-Albus...Dumbledore. Can you just put that thing away? There's no need for threatening me.” His eyes narrowed, his hand searching for his wand.
The girl took a step closer, her fingers tightening over her dagger. “Who has sent you? Tell me. You did rise up from the lake; seen with mine own eyes it was.” Her tone was slightly broken, fear teetering on her every word. “Some water demon taking the form of a boy?”
“Water demon?” The boy couldn't help but laugh. All thoughts of his wand forgotten, he held one hand to his mouth to stifle the sound. “Wa-ter...d-e-emon,” he chuckled, shaking his head. Once he'd managed to compose himself, he turned back to the girl. “Water demon? Are you being funny or are you touched in the head? And what's with the old English?” He folded his arms over his chest, thinking that maybe the girl wasn't all there in her mind.
“Insolent tone!” the girl cried out. “I be the daughter of King Leodegrance, a Princess, and I demand to be addressed as such.”
And then Albus was sure the girl to be insane. “You...are the daughter of King Leodegrance? You expect me to believe that you're...Guinevere
Guinevere. As in King Arthur, Lancelot, Sword in the Stone Guinevere?”
“I'm quite sure that I have never known this Lancelot
of which you speak, but I do know of King Arthur. It is his Highness that I do travel for.” Her head tipped up proudly though her eyes held an obvious worry. “I pray that he will see me worthy enough to accept mine audience.” Even her dagger-holding hand dropped with her words.
“You're Guinevere?” His tone skeptical and teasing.
“Boy, hast some illness befallen your ears or do you receive some satisfaction in making me repeat my words.” Her eyes narrowed, her fear being quickly replaced with annoyance at Albus and his disrespect. She sheathed her dagger at her hip and smoothed her hands down the sides of her hair, as though a slightly less threatening appearance would help the boy to believe her of Royal decent.
Albus let out a sharp breath and shook his head slowly. “Prove it then.”
“Pray tell, exactly how wouldst one prove
such a thing.” When all she got in response was a shrug out of the boy, she held her head higher and countered. “Prove yourself Albus Dumbledore.”
He frowned. “My
identity is not in question here.”
“Have I not just questioned your identity?” Her pursed lips pulled into a smile as the boy squirmed under her logic. She watched him closely as she adjusted her dress around her feet. “Might I believe that we are in agreement to put faith between ourselves and merely trust that the names we have shared be in truth?”
“Fine.” Albus released his hostile stance and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his trousers. He did not in any way believe that this girl was actually Lady Guinevere, but he very well knew they would make no progress if he continued to question her. And, perhaps he could use her to get himself back to Hogwarts. “Tell me then, where am I?”
“I shan't tell you a thing until your origin is known. Explain yourself and how you emerged from the water as such. Have mine eyes deceived me?” The tips of her dirt stained fingers rested against her temple; her eyes closed.
The boy raised his hand to his forehead and closed his eyes. He could feel a headache coming on already from dealing with the girl. “No, you weren't seeing things. I don't know how
I did it, but I did come out of the water. You see, I was at school and I fell over this ledge – well, I was tripped actually.” A scowl crossed his lips at the thought. “I'm a wizard, alright? There must have been some kind of charm or something on the bridge, or the river, that sent me here. But I don't know where here
is and I don't know how to get back.”
“Now it is my turn to question your word, Albus Dumbledore. You are not a wizard.” Guinevere's mouth twisted into an amused smirk, her arms folding lightly over her chest, her eyes never leaving the boy's face. “Come now, let us have the truth.”
“That is the truth,” Albus spat. “And could you drop the funny talk?” While he had no trouble whatsoever understanding the girl, it was beginning to grate on his nerves. Or perhaps it was just her voice that he didn't like. Or maybe it was the girl, herself, that was making Albus' patience grow thin.
“Yes, the funny talk.” He waved his hand idly towards her, as though an exaggerated hand gesture would make his request any clearer. “Just...stop talking. You're making my head pound.” He sighed heavily and let his body drop to the ground in a heap, legs crossed, gaze falling on the dirt just beside his foot. “This is not how I wanted to spend my afternoon. I'm stuck Godric knows where and there's no way I'm going to be back by the time Potions class starts.”
Despite the fact that the boy was clearly talking to himself, Guinevere lowered herself daintily beside him, lifting the hem of her dress so that her knees rested directly upon the hard, damp ground. Twice she made to speak, but held her tongue, simply watching the boy with a curious gaze as he rubbed at his eyes and dragged his fingers through his hair.
The distant sound of snapping twigs was lost to the pair as they continued to sit in silence, regarding each other with skepticism and disdain. Albus picked up a tiny stick and started drawing circles into the dirt as he thought over how he was going to home. He wished he knew how to Apparate, surely the law would have allowed it under such circumstances. Beside him, Guinevere played with a loose thread on her waist of her dress. He knew that he'd been rude to the girl, but wasn't quite to the point where he would admit his wrong-doing and apologize.
Suddenly, Guinevere's body went rigid and her hand flew to her dagger, unsheathing it with such speed Albus gasped and leaned back. Her head whipped towards the forest behind them, her braid flying around as she raised to her feet near effortlessly. The boy stared up at her with wide, worried eyes and pulled his wand; the ominous feeling in his gut was not one to be ignored.
Albus stared at the same area of trees that Guinevere had her gaze locked. He clumsily rose to his feet and patted the dirt from his backside. He was just about to ask what was going on when three large figures burst from the forest line and came charging straight for them.