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The Lion and the Serpent by Jenna822

Format: Short story
Chapters: 7
Word Count: 11,161
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, General, Action/Adventure
Characters: Dumbledore, Doge, OC
Pairings:

First Published: 06/20/2011
Last Chapter: 08/21/2012
Last Updated: 08/21/2012

Summary:
Banner by Gambit @ TDA


Albus always enjoyed the stories of King Arthur, his Knights and Camelot, but when he finds himself
face-to-face with a young Lady Guinevere, it may be a little more than he can handle.

Guinevere wants to be Queen. Albus just wants to go home.


Chapter 1: The Fall
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The Fall

“Guinevere's eyes widened in horror as she spotted the pyre. She screamed, begging and pleading for mercy, but the knights that flanked her merely tightened their grips on her arms! She twisted and kicked, desperate to be free of their relentless hold. The knights laughed at her effort. She could see her death lingering just a few steps away. Tears streaked her reddened face. She begged once more as they lashed her to the stake and stepped away. Flames danced at the end of the executioner's torch; closer and closer it came. Guinevere called out her prayers to God. The onlooking crowd gasped in horror as the fire eased nearer to the woman. In the distance, the sound of -”

“Stop! I can't take it anymore!” On the ground sat Elphias Doge, a gangly thirteen-year-old boy. His sandy blonde hair was tangled around his fingers as he shook his in defiance of the story being told. “Just tell me if Lancelot saved her or not. I can't take the tension.” His brown eyes sought out the storyteller and his lips curved into a frown.

A hearty chuckle escaped another boy as he dropped to his knees beside the first. This boy was Albus Dumbledore. He had soft blue eyes that seemed to twinkle with every time he was up to something or excited. His auburn hair was longer than most boys wore theirs; it was messy and looked as though it was a rarity for a brush to near it. “Of course he saved her. Lancelot wouldn't just let her die; he loved her.” The boy gave his friend a sad smile. “It didn't go so well though. When he and the others tr-”

“Well, well, well.”

The two boys groaned and turned their attention to an approaching group of students. Leading the way was a tall, burly boy who could have easily passed for a gorilla if given the opportunity. His lips pulled back into a disgusted sneer as he eyed the youngsters on the ground. Light glinted off the boy's Prefect badge, the polished emerald and silver reflecting the sun.

On one side of him stood a shorter, handsome boy wearing a sneer to rival his leader's. To the other stood a rather breathtaking girl, her hand perched delicately on her hip, her eyes focusing off in the distance with a look of complete uncaring painted across her face. On her arm hung a twitchy boy, staring at the soon-to-be victims with wide eyes.

“What do we have here?” The leader folded his arms and laughed. “If it isn't Dumbleboar and Dog.”

“It's Doge.” The young brown-eyed boy sneered right back at them.

“Doge is it?” The Slytherin snorted. “I prefer Dog. It seems more fitting.” The large boy turned to his companions, pulling feigned laughter from the three. “Oh my, those shoes of yours....” He let his gaze fall onto the boy's dirt spattered shoes. “We should clean them up for you.”

Elphias' protests fell onto deaf ears as the two henchmen grabbed him up and rid him of his footwear. The leader of the gang pointed his wand at Albus, a smirk on his lips. “You're just going to sit there and let us steal his shoes? What kind of Gryffindor are you?”

“The kind who knows how to pick his battles,” Albus answered with a cool tone. “I'm just going to go tell the Professor and he'll get them back.”

This surety did not sit well with the Slytherin bully. He narrowed his eyes so far they near vanished. “Well there won't be anything to get back then. I'll toss them right off the bridge.” He snapped his fingers and instantly the boy holding Elphias' shoes tossed them over. “See how you like that.” He and the other three pushed past the two young boys and headed for the covered bridge.

Elphias frowned at the ground and wiped his palm across his eyes. He squeaked out something that Albus had to ask him to repeat twice. “That was my last pair,” he finally admitted loudly enough for his friend to hear.

Albus bit his bottom lip and glanced in the direction the bullies had gone. “I'll get them back.” He pushed himself to his feet and charged off towards the bridge, ignoring Elphias' cries to stop. Just as soon as he neared the bridge, he saw the four bullies gathered near the edge, just before you stepped onto it, all looking down into the deep ravine. “Hey, give them back.”

The students turned and chuckled at Albus. Naturally the leader stepped forward, the shoes dangling from his hand in a taunting way. “You want them back?” He grinned. “Come take them back.”

Now, Albus wasn't one for physical confrontation; he much preferred to use his words and intellect to get what he desired. So the boy pulled out his wand and tipped his head in thought.

“Don't even try it kid.” The leader sneered and moved closer to the edge of the ravine. He held his hand out over the ledge, a slow smile spreading across his thick face. “Say bye-bye.” And with that, he allowed the shoes to fall from his fingertips.

Albus gasped and charged towards the falling footwear. His hand extended, victory just beyond his fingertips. His eyes were too focused on the target, he didn't even see the other boy's foot jut out just in front of him.

The world seemed to melt into slow motion. Albus felt his ankle knock against something hard and he was falling. His hands flung out in front of him but it didn't matter, there was nothing to catch himself on. Head first, the boy tumbled over the side of the ledge. A sickening crack rang out in Albus' ears as his head smashed against a protruding rock, stars flooded his vision, blurring everything around him.

But Albus could see well enough to know the water below him was getting closer. He screamed, whether it was out loud or only in his mind, he wasn't sure. Nearer and nearer the water drew. He felt like he'd been falling for hours, a sob escaped his throat and he closed his eyes tightly, bracing himself for the impact he knew he'd never survive.

His landing should have felt like shattering glass over a stone floor...but it did not. Albus likened it to the sensation of sinking into a large Christmas pudding. The water seemed to rise up and engulf him, thick but still fluid. It was warm and the bits that trickled into his mouth tasted of sparkling cider. He grinned under the water, glad that it wasn't burning his eyes. He wasn't sure how long he was under, far too long to have been able to breathe, that was for sure.

The realization hit him fast and finally he urged his sprawled limbs to move. Albus had never learned to swim so his movements were novice and desperate; his arms cut through the water, his feet kicked sporadically, but he managed to get himself going. He broke the surface with an unneeded gasp and let out a stunned laugh. He should have been dead from that fall, but there he was, completely uninjured.

He pushed himself to the edge of the water, his eyes locked on the shore. As he climbed from the water and crawled out onto the dirt, his clothes dried and relaxed over his body. Even his hair was free from any damp. Once he was on his feet, Albus finally took the time to look around him. He was surrounded by lush trees, greener than any he'd ever seen; full at Spring's peak. Songbirds called in the distance: a sweet melody that he felt he knew yet could not name. Behind him laid a small lake, crystal clear and still.

Albus' lips pulled into a grin and he twisted his fingers into his hair. “Where am I?”




Note: Opening to a new short story here. Thank you for reading and I hope you come back for the rest of the tale. :) --Jenna
I make no claims on the Arthurian Legend characters and settings used in this story.

Chapter 2: The Girl
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The Girl

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? The 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.

“Indeed.”

“Guinevere?”

“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.

“Funny talk?”

“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.



Chapter 3: The Theft
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The Theft

Run. It was the only thing Albus wanted to do, but there was no way he was going to run into the forest like some coward while a girl stood ready to fight. Guinevere stood at attention, her feet spaced in a battle stance, her dagger resting on her fingers ready to be thrown or sunk into the first body that reached her. Albus' face hardened and his wand moved to his hand without effort. His eyes never left the oncoming figures.

Three men, taller than he'd ever seen, all with wide shoulders and twisted faces full of malice. They were filthy, clothes tattered, hair frayed and burned, shoes near falling apart and sticking to the damp ground as they ran. But their ragged appearance did nothing to slow their approach. They each let out a growl as they ran straight for the two children.

Furnunculus!”

A bolt of light shot from Albus' wand and slammed into the middle attacker, throwing him to the ground. The man screamed and rolled around in the dirt as his skin began to redden and boils erupted over his neck, arms and chest. He clawed at the markings and called out to the other two, but they paid him no mind. Their fallen leader was of no concern.

The two men had their eyes on Guinevere. They grabbed for her but she was too quick. Albus watched in stark silence as the girl whipped her blade around and caught one on the cheek, leaving a gash down his face. His hand jumped to the wound but he kept up his pursuit. The second man narrowly avoided being sliced across the chest, his already tattered shirt the sole victim of her maneuver.

Albus wanted to help, but he feared any spell he cast would hit Guinevere instead. The three were moving so fast. The girl's hair whipped around and caught the injured in the right eye, sending him stumbling backwards. Albus donned this one Lefty and delivered a kick straight to the back of his knees, forcing him to the ground in a heap.

Spot, the name Albus would now refer to the boil-covered attacker by, rose from the ground and charged the boy. His eyes were wide with fear as he made a grab for Albus' wand. The boy saw his attack though and had just enough time to send up a shield charm between them, sending Spot back to the dirt.

“S'wounds! This one does dance with the darkness!” Spot rolled onto his front and crawled for the edge of the forest. “Run, lest you be dragged into the bowels of hell by unholy spirits he conjures!”

Albus frowned. He had never danced in his life and certainly wouldn't be doing such with any darkness. He was annoyed at the man and now starting to see a pattern in the people he was coming across. He turned back towards Guinevere who was still fighting off the remaining two attackers, for Lefty had rejoined the battle along side the other.

Albus charged, hoping he could get at least one of them away enough to hex him without putting Guinevere at risk. He rolled his eyes at the thought of putting the girl at risk. She was taking on both fully grown men with such skill and speed he was sure she'd had some sort of training. Maybe she was Lady Guin- No, he couldn't allow himself such beliefs.

“Do not mind the boy!” shouted Lefty as he pushed Albus to the ground and kicked at him. “The ransom be for the Runaway Princess only. This plague sore be not worth our time.”

“Plague sore?!” Albus fumed and jumped to his feet. But his stance was short lived as Lefty was knocked back by Guinevere's foot and slammed into the boy. A snap rang out and Albus begged for it to be a bone and not his wand. He groaned loudly as he lifted the broken strip of Yew to his eyes and poked at the exposed Unicorn tail hair. The boy swore under his breath and stabbed the wand shards into the man's neck as he tried to regain his footing.

A howl of pain escaped Lefty and he clamped his hand over his neck. The other man, who Albus would now think of as Ape due to his uncanny resemblance to a gorilla, turned back at his associate's cries and sneered at Albus. His hand shot out towards Guinevere and caught her around the neck. Albus was sure he was trying to strangle her but he pulled back just as quickly and shot off into the woods the same direction Spot had retreated to.

“You filthy catpurse!” Guinevere's hands flew to her neck, her eyes filled with fire. She made to chase down her assailant but the anger made her sloppy. A tree root caught her foot and down the girl went into the mud. She flung her dagger as she hit the ground and it stuck hard into a tree mere moments after Ape's head had been there.

Albus turned back to deal with Lefty but the man had scurried off behind the other two, leaving the children alone in the clearing by the lake. Guinevere's choking sobs clenched the boy's stomach. He knelt beside her and helped her to her feet. At first he thought she'd just been hurt; her neck bore two scratch marks down the side from where something metal had been ripped free. He pressed his hands to the marks in an effort to sooth the reddened flesh, but she pushed him away.

“That...that...son and heir of a mongrel bitch!” The girl stamped her feet into the dirt and shrieked in anger; her arms whipped wildly around her body, the dress billowing out and creating gusts.

Albus took a slow step back and Guinevere turned on him.

“Why do you retreat?” Her soft hazel eyes scanned Albus and a small smirk fell upon her lips. “Why Albus Dumbledore, be you afraid of me?”

“Honestly -” His eyes darted to the dagger that was wedged into the nearby tree “- yes. Yes I am. You were bloody amazing, but terrifying. How did you learn to fight like that?”

“It matters not.” Guinevere sighed and brushed her fingers over her neck where the scratches lay.

“He stole something from you, didn't he?” Albus kept his eyes on Guinevere's neck. “A...necklace?”

“Indeed.” The girl sighed once more and crossed over to the wounded tree, then plucked her property back from its bark. “Twas my mother's. She did bestow it upon me on her very death bed. Keep it close, she did say. And lo, I have failed her final request of me. This will not stand.”

Albus laid his hand gently on the girl's shoulder. “We'll tell the authorities and they'll get it back.”

“No. I shall go into the forest and track those mongrels myself. What was mine shall be mine again by nightfall, mark my words Albus Dumbledore.” She turned to the boy and locked her gaze with his. “Prithee, would you call upon the dark forces that I have seen you command? Aide me in recovering my mother's necklace and I shall help you to find your way home.”

“They aren't -” Albus took a deep breath to keep from losing his temper. “They aren't dark forces. It's just simple wand work. I told you that I was a wizard. And...I can't.”

“Lies!”

“I'm not lying!” Albus grabbed her shoulders to keep Guinevere from running off. “He broke my wand. When you pushed him on me, my wand got caught under his back and snapped. I can't do magic without my wand.” The boy rushed over to where the broken pieces of his wand lay and held them up for her to see. “I swear it! I would help you if I could.”

Guinevere's eyes looked as though all the hope in the world had drained away. “Then I shall find and recover mine honour without you.”

“No! I'll go with you. I can't use my magic but I can help you get it back. I can try to help you.”

Guinevere offered a small smile, but her eyes still looked slightly defeated.

“There's something I want from you first.” Albus raised his eyebrows and Guinevere tipped her head, bidding the boy to go on. “I want the truth from you.”

“Be you still in question of mine identity?”

“No, no. After what I just saw, I believe that you are who you say you are. I've heard of time travel, it's a little strange the ravine would be enchanted that way, but it's not un- Never mind that. I want to know why, Lady Guinevere, you are traveling to see the King alone and why that man called you a Runaway Princess.”

Guinevere shifted in place and busied her hands with cleaning tree sap from dagger. “Because I did run away. My father wouldst not permit the leave to see King Arthur so I did what I had to. I stole away in the night to make for the castle. I am certain all will be forgiven once I complete my task.”

“And what task is that?”

“I desire nothing short of becoming Queen.”

Albus looked over the girl that stood before him. Fifteen years old, just fought away two men twice her size, now determined to track down said men and retrieve her stolen necklace. Even if he didn't already know the legend of Lady Guinevere, he would have no trouble imaging this girl to be Queen.



Chapter 4: The Song
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The Song

Albus was amazed at how silently Guinevere could move through the forest, the dried leaves made no sound of stirring as her feet came down upon them. In contrast, he only seemed to grow louder with each step. Every twig and scrap of bark rang out a snap each time he put his foot down. Guinevere had given up trying to shush him and conceded that it would be impossible for him to walk silently.

So Guinevere stopped their search and ordered that he take off his shoes. Albus didn't like it one bit, but after trying to argue that he'd injure his feet too much, the girl threatened to leave him on his own. He did as she asked. And he was right, by the time Guinevere allowed them to take a break from their trail, his feet were covered in tiny pricks and cuts, blood sticking his socks to his heels.

It was obvious that Guinevere didn't much care about Albus' injuries, but she didn't make a fuss when he asked for a break. In order to prolong his rest, Albus got her talking; as frustrating as listening to her was, she had an interesting story.

Being a Princess, Guinevere was raised with a higher education than the peoples of her country. She'd formed big ideas about ways to make their lands prosper and grow, ways to ensure a better quality of life for each citizen. Despite her big ideas, Guinevere was still...a girl. Her only hope to be heard was by the King himself and when he announced he sought a Queen, it was her chance.

But Guinevere was still so young. When the King had heard that she was a mere fifteen, he passed on the invitation to come to her father's house and meet with him for talks of a wedding. She was furious. To be dismissed solely on age when the King, himself, had been crowned at such a young one. She went to her father and begged for a party to travel to Court and speak with King Arthur, show him that she was worthy of becoming his Queen regardless of age.

Her father denied her request though and began search for her a husband amongst the Knights of the kingdom. Refusing to accept defeat, Guinevere gathered herself and stole away into the night, determined to make the journey on her own and prove that she could be all the country needed.

“That's really brave.” Albus massaged at his feet and carefully slipped his filthy socks back over them. “What's going to happen when you get there though? What if Arthur says that he won't see you and calls for your father?”

“'Tis a question better left to the stars for I do not pretend to know what lies beyond our present.” Guinevere gave Albus' abused feet one fleeting glance before waving her hand. “Come, we must press on less we lose the trail left by that catpurse and his ungodly companions.”

“Guinevere wait....” Albus hissed as he placed his feet back on the ground and moved his weight to them. “Say we catch the blokes, what then? I mean without my wand I'm bloody useless and you can fight, but there are three of them. You were good but even then, he still managed to get your necklace.”

“Do you suggest that we give up?” Guinevere put her hand to her chest and stared at Albus like he proposed some foul idea. “Lay our honour in the mud and allow such filthy beings to spit upon it as though we are not worth their respect. Have you no sense of pride, Albus? Be you a coward?”

He gaped. “I am a Gryffindor! I have plenty of pride and I am no coward!”

“Then prove yourself a brave and noble man and finish the task that you did offer to undertake.”

“I'm just trying to be realistic here. I'm not saying that I won't help, I just don't know how we're going to do it!” The boy sighed and grabbed at his messy auburn hair. “Look at me, I can barely walk.”

Guinevere tipped her head to the boy and took his hand. “Come, we must press on.”

Albus wasn't positive, but it seemed as though Guinevere was walking slower, taking care to lead them through the more bare parts of the ground, devoid of the sticks and rocks that had plagued his feet before. She kept her hand firm in his, not allowing him to stumble or fall like before. Albus' pride kept swelling its ugly head, reminding him how much he was relying on a girl for his well being. He tried to ignore it, but it was difficult and by the time night fell, he was feeling resentful as well as grateful.

And he was hungry.

“I don't suppose you packed yourself any food when you ran away, did you?” Albus pulled the girl to a stop. He could barely see a few paces in front of him and couldn't understand how Guinevere was still managing to lead them.

She patted the small leather pouch at her hip and gave a reassuring nod. “We should sit.”

The two settled upon a large rock and spread out the contents of Guinevere's pouch between them. There were two small slivers of salted, pressed pork, a lump of cheese that Albus thought smelled a bit funny and a handful of nuts that he couldn't identify in the dark, but she assured were not poisonous.

“I did prepare enough to take myself half of the journey.” Guinevere broke the cheese in half and pressed a portion into Albus' hand. “I was meant to convene with the daughter of an allied kingdom. She and I did partake in quite the adventure over the summer. Her family lodged with us when our fathers did come to their trade and land agreements.” She smiled at her memories and counted out the nuts between them. “I...I found myself lost and far from the path that wouldst have taken me to her home. Three days off my trail I was before coming upon you.”

“What are you going to do now though?” Albus sniffed the cheese once more before taking a tentative bite. It was...different, but he wouldn't call it bad exactly. And the boy was so hungry at this point he would have eaten just about anything.

Guinevere put on a brave smile and looked up at Albus with conviction. “I shall manage.”

They sat in silence as the darkness grew heavier around them. It was decided that they would have the cheese, half the nuts and one strip of pork between them, leaving the remaining nuts and pork for the following day. Albus could tell that Guinevere was upset, she'd hoped to have found their attackers by nightfall but now they were at a risk of losing the men and never recovering her necklace.

“Guinevere, tell me about your mother.” Albus wasn't one for talking about feelings, but he'd learned at an early age that females loved to talk about feelings, even sad ones. And it would do well to distract her from their situation. “If you want to....”

“My mother?” Guinevere's voice was soft. “My mother was more beautiful than all the stars inside the Heavens; she did possess more grace than even the smallest of gazelle. And her kindness....” The girl climbed down from the rock and planted herself in the dirt beside it.

Albus settled himself next to Guinevere and allowed her to lean her head on his shoulder. They both closed their eyes and relaxed against the chilled stone to their backs.

“My mother did sing to me on the nights I would find myself wide awake with fears of monsters creeping into the tranquility of my dreams. I do believe that is what I miss most about her.”

Guinevere shifted a bit and began to hum a sweet tune, the rise and fall of her notes so perfectly pitched that it brought tears to the corners of Albus' eyes. After a verse, the boy began to hum along. The song so familiar and yet so distant, like a dream he'd forgotten on waking only now being called back to him. Together, they finished the gentle song, both sitting in a prolonged silence after.

“You did know it.” Guinevere didn't speak above a whisper.

“Yes.” Albus wrapped his arms around the girl, an odd urge to protect her building up inside of him. “My mum used to sing that to me and my little brother and sister when she put us to bed.”

Guinevere didn't speak and Albus was thankful for it. The two drifted off to sleep feeling a connection like they'd not had before. It was as though they were, dare they even think it, family.

The next morning Albus opened his eyes to the sharp end of a sword hanging above him. The boy gasped loudly and trailed his gaze up the blade to its wielder. The young man was about twenty, he presumed, tall and broad shouldered. His dirty blonde hair was short and sticking up at all angles with sweat, his light grey eyes were wide and full of life. A smile stretched across his entire face as he stared down at Albus.

“Pray tell, knave, who did bestow upon you leave to sleep on my father's lands?” The young man never stopped smiling as he moved his sword a bit closer to Albus' face. “Shall I run you through and not put mind to the interrogation?”

“I-I-I ca- I didn't – Don't!” Albus shook beneath the man's sword and looked to his side where Guinevere had been through the night only to find her missing.

“Looking for your maiden?” The man laughed but it wasn't cruel or spiteful, it was the laugh of one friend teasing another in good fun. “Do not worry yourself. Guinevere is quite safe.” He sheathed his sword and extended his hand in good faith. “You be safe as well, good Albus Dumbledore.”



Chapter 5: The Training
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The Training

Albus stared at the young man's hand in silence. Did he actually expect Albus to just trust him? After holding him at the tip of his sword and threatening to skewer him. Staring up at the man, Albus felt no anger. He saw only honesty and loyalty and kindness in his grey eyes. Carefully, the boy raised his hand and slipped it into the offered one. The young man was not so careful and jerked Albus from the ground the moment contact was made.

“For a moment, I did believe you would reject mine assistance.” The young man did his best to straighten out his appearance and grinned over at Albus.

“Would you blame me? You shoved your bloody sword in my face.”

“Was all in good jest, Albus Dumbledore.” His smile only grew larger.

Albus narrowed his blue eyes and adopted a look of pure indignation. “I don't consider that to be fun. Fun is having a game of Gobstones with your best mate. Fun is reading about the Goblin rebellions of eighteen-twelve. Having someone threaten your life is not fun.”

The young man raised his hands and tipped his head towards Albus. “You have my deepest apologies. Come now, there is much to be done. Guinevere does tell me that the two of you seek to retrieve something from the band of thieves that did pass through our lands during the night.”

The boy groaned and rubbed at his temples. He could already feel that irritation induced headache coming on. “Yes. We are looking for the thieves.” He tried to speak as simply as possible, hoping that the young man would pick up on it.

“Huzzah! A chase we shall have then! May swiftness come to our feet and stead-”

“Stop!” Albus waved his hands and looked around them. “First of all, tell me where Guinevere is. Then you can tell me who you are. Then – and only then – will I agree to this chase of yours.”

The young man put on a catty grin and folded his arms over his chest. “Guinevere did say you be out of place here. Says that she did see you rise up out of the lake like some demon.”

“I'm not a demon.”

“In truth. Albus Dumbledore, you be as far from demon as mine eyes could ever imagine.” He placed his hand on the boy's shoulder and looked towards a small storehouse in the distance. “Guinevere lies inside, awaiting our return. Sneaky one did try to rob an apple from our lands on this morning. Catch her, I did. Was quite the chase. Afraid she did get the better of me to start.” He gingerly touched the underside of his eye where a small bruise was beginning to form. “Once she wove her tale of woe, I could not stand in the way. I will help you and your fair maiden to get back this necklace and direct you towards the King.”

“First of all...she isn't my maiden. I just sort of...found her. And second, you still didn't tell me who you are.” Albus stuffed his hands into his pockets and began to slowly tread beside the young man, walking carefully on his still wounded feet.

“My name is Gareth. Son of Lot and -”

“You're Sir Gareth?” Albus rounded on the young man, eyes wide and mouth agape. “You can't be? Oh gods, you are. You really are? Your stories were always my favourite! The way you disguised yourself as a -” The boy slapped his hand over his mouth and dropped his head in shame. Was one thing to meet the object of his favourite stories, was another to give him an account of his future deeds before the time even came. The last thing Albus wanted to do was muss up history.

“Your enthusiasm is quite...flattering, Albus Dumbledore. I am afraid that you must have me mistaken with another. Still a few years from earning any such title as Sir.”

“Of course. I'm just...I'm just telling stories.” Albus toed at the ground and fell silent as the two pressed on towards the tiny storehouse. Just before they reached the door, he stopped and looked over at Gareth. “Can I ask you a favor?” When the other nodded, he continued. “Could you maybe not tell Guinevere that I was a stuttering mess when you threatened me?”

Gareth laughed heartily and nodded his head. “Do not fear, I shall tell her you were the epitome of bravery. Near fought me off bare handed, even.”

“You don't have to go that far.” The boy's cheeks tinted with pink and he looked away. “Just don't tell her that I whimpered.”

“As you wish.”

Gareth nodded and pulled open the door to the storehouse, revealing a disheveled Guinevere cutting tiny slices of an apple and eating them from her dagger. The two joined her and took a knee on each side. Three apples were finished between them, the young girl slicing off pieces of the fruit and pressing it into each boy's palm one by one, before anyone dared to speak.

“What do we do now?” Albus licked the last of the sweet juice from his thumb and looked between Guinevere and Gareth.

“Now -” Gareth got to his feet and withdrew his sword, looking quite fierce in his stance “- we train.”

Albus choked out a laugh and shook his head. “You expect to train me? I don't think I could hold that sword let alone fight with it. Uh uh, it isn't going to happen.”

Guinevere laid her hand on the boy's shoulder and looked into his eyes. “Please? I fear that if you do not, at the very least, know how to defend yourself from attack, then your life shall be forfeit when we come upon the thieves once more.”

Albus couldn't help but smile. Guinevere looked genuinely concerned for his safety. Could their one day journey have been enough to change her mind towards him? Looking at her now, he knew it was possible. For the short time they'd spent together, he'd already changed his views of her. In his eyes she was no longer a frightening and bold young girl who would cut him no sooner than look at him. She was no longer the irritant who accused him of being a water demon and called him a coward. She was a friend. And he would do anything to help her now. Even pick up a sword and make a fool of himself.

Gareth could see the change in Albus' eyes. “Follow me, Albus Dumbledore.”

Albus nodded and climbed to his feet, throwing one last glance back at Guinevere and offering her a comforting smile. “You can just call me Albus.” He cleared his throat and stood a bit straighter, trying to mimic the young man's posture. “You don't have to keep calling me by my full name.”

Gareth nodded in agreement, handed Albus a shabby looking sword and raised his own. “The first thing you must learn is proper stance.” The young man smiled brightly as he watched Albus' attempts to copy him exactly. He helped guide the boy into proper footing, explained how to tighten his arms muscles – what little Albus had – in order to better swing the sword, taught him three sets of blocking moves and a counter-attack.

Hours melted beneath the training boys. For Gareth it was near a game, showing someone the moves he'd been perfecting since he was a mere child. But for Albus it was so much more. It was a chance to protect himself without his wand, a chance to face his fears without his mind to fall back on. Albus had always been a thinker, one to logic himself out of any mess, but there was no logic this time.

And his logical thinking had landed him in this predicament to begin with. Perhaps if he had been more brave and stood up to the Slytherins goons who frequently picked on his dear friend Elphias, then they wouldn't have taken the boy's shoes. They wouldn't have tossed them off the side of the ravine. And they wouldn't have dared push Albus off the edge either.

Thinking of the bullies back home, Albus pushed himself harder. Each blow from the sword landed sharper, more accuracy with each swing he took. The plank of wood he had been given to practice upon grew smaller, chip by chip, as he hacked away. So lost in his own thoughts, he could not hear Gareth insisting that he stop, take a break, cool down. The boy cried out with every bit of energy he could muster and sank the edge of his sword into the wood so deep, it stuck. He grunted and put his foot upon the plank, pulling hard to free the blade, but it was of no use, he'd spent his body and no energy remained for the task.

“Albus.” Gareth's voice was no more than a whisper as he pried the boy's stiffened fingers from the hilt of the sword. “Go eat. I shall free the blade.”

The boy didn't know if he should feel pride or shame in his actions. He pushed back the sweat soaked hair from his eyes and turned his back on his hero, retreating to the cool air of the storehouse to join Guinevere for another apple.



Chapter 6: The Battle
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The Battle

Albus, Guinevere and Gareth shared two horses between them. Albus, having no riding experience of any sort, was forced to sit behind Guinevere. They'd wasted far too much of their day with Albus' sword training to extend their stay for riding lessons. Albus only felt slight humiliation at his situation; after all, he was riding off to track down a band of thieves and defend a lady's honour. He'd never felt like more of a Gryffindor.

Guinevere proved to be quite the tracker and by nightfall, the thieves' camp had been found. The three young ones parked their horses half a mile from the light of the fire and silently crept up by foot. They hid themselves behind several large trees to take full measure of what they were up against.

Being suited in Gareth's old clothing made Albus feel like he could do anything. With the young man's handed down shoes, he was able to move just as silently as Gareth and Guinevere, something she was very relieved to discover considering their previous experience. The sword at Albus' hip was used, slightly bent and the handle was worn, but he'd never cherished anything more in his life. For years he'd read the tales of Sir Gareth, the knight was his role model above all others, and now his practice sword was at Albus' fingertips.

The thieves were illuminated by the miniscule fire they so desperately huddled around. A smirk pulled across Albus' lips as he caught sight of Spot, who was now covered in a thick white paste presumed to be treating the boils he'd broken out in. From the corner of the boy's eye, he caught sight of Gareth unsheathing his sword and immediately made to do the same.

Guinevere put her hand against the future Knight's arm and shook her head. She straightened out to her full height, held her head high and marched right into the thieves' camp. “I demand the safe return of my property at once. You have but one chance to make good on mine offer or I shall be forced to take it by any means needed.” She extended her hand, palm up, ready to receive her necklace.

Ape was the first to stand. He moved languidly towards Guinevere, his sneer growing more predominant with each step. “Such a kind offer, from such a kind maiden. We shall not be taking it. Perchance, we shall take you. There be a pretty price on your head, Princess.” The man snapped his fingers and pointed towards the girl before him.

At once, Spot and Lefty jumped to attention and rushed towards Guinevere. They secured her arms easily; the girl did not put up the least bit of a struggle.

“Where be your demon conjuring guardian, girl?” Ape turned his attention to the treeline and scanned it with his eyes as best he could in the heavy darkness.

Albus looked across the gap towards Gareth and the two met each other's eyes. A simple nod was exchanged between them and they stepped out into the line of sight together, swords drawn. “She said return her necklace.” The young Gryffindor stepped forward and lifted his blade.

“Or we shall reclaim it by the tip of our swords.” Gareth stepped up beside Albus and lifted his blade as well.

A nervous chuckle shook the thieves and the world seemed to fall into instant chaos. Ape grabbed Guinevere, securing her in his arms tightly and binding hers to her sides. He dragged her back, creating a shield between himself and the boys. The dagger that typically rested at Guinevere's hip jumped into the large man's hand and he brandished it at the others. He retreated back away from Albus and Gareth, dragging a squirming young girl along every slow step of the way.

Spot, still obviously put off by his first encounter with Albus, launched himself towards Gareth. He grabbed for the hilt of the young man's sword, but he was not swift enough. In a flash of movement, Gareth whirled around and struck his would-be attacker on the head with the butt of his sword. The man collapsed in a heap at the younger's feet. Gareth did not take the time to revel in his all-too-easy victory, for he was focused on the mission at hand. He charged for the man holding Guinevere, leaving Albus to deal with the remaining assailant.

Albus' arm quivered under the weight of the sword. What tiny bit of training he had would not be enough to ease his mind. His face stayed steady and his eyes stay focused. He lunged, sword tilting at the man's chest, only to have it knocked away by the leather covering on Lefty's wrist. The two circled each other slowly, each foot placed with precision to keep from losing their stance. Albus moved again, but once again, his attack was evaded. It happened so fast...Albus didn't see it coming. Lefty ducked to the ground and delivered an uppercut palm against the underside of Albus' arm. His entire limb went numb and the sword toppled off the ends of the boy's fingers.

Weaponless, Albus took a step back. His hand clutched at his wounded arm and he widened his eyes as the man moved towards him, poised for attack. He could hear the scuffling behind him of Gareth attempting to rescue Guinevere, but he could not take his eyes off his own situation long enough to know who was being favored in the other battle. Albus bent his arm several times to regain feeling and took a deep breath. He let out a small battle cry and charged straight for the grown man. His arms opened wide and he plowed into the brick wall of a human. The sheer force of Albus' attack knocked them both to the ground.

With the advantage of not being on his back, the young Gryffindor started swinging. His hits barely grazed off the man as he struggled to regain his bearings on the ground. Lefty grabbed Albus around the middle and threw the boy to the dirt. He hit hard, a groan breaking from his tightened lips. Sweat dripped into the boy's angry blue eyes and blurred his vision. But he would not quit. He placed his hands behind him to push himself up and his palm brushed against a long stick.

The boy's fingers curled around the stick and he thrust it into the air, pointing the end at Lefty's head. “By the powers of the darkness, I summon the spirits to -”

His words were drown out by a loud, garbled cry. The man recoiled from the direct path of Albus' mere stick and clambered to get away from him. Lefty rolled over and started crawling as fast as his calloused hands would allow. He kicked up a trail of dirt behind him in the quick retreat.

“Yeah, you better run!” Albus shouted at the man's diminishing figure as it vanished in the tree line. His own victory was short lived as a sharp scream called his attention back to others. The boy got to his feet and ran towards the sound.

When Albus broke the clearing, he could barely see. The firelight was flickering so far behind them, only vague outlines could be made out in the shreds of moonlight. As his eyes began to adjust, he could see Ape still had his arms around Guinevere, restraining her. The girl's own dagger was pressed against her collarbone. Gareth stood a few steps away, his sword at the ready for battle.

“Drop your foul conjuring rod, boy, or I shall run her through.” Ape's eyes drilled into Albus and the boy released his stick at once. “And your sword.” He turned his attention to Gareth and eyed the boy's blade. The young man lowered his sword onto the ground and held his hands up high.

Guinevere would have none of that any longer. She raised her foot and slammed it back down onto her captor's toes. The man doubled at the shock, his hold around her arms loosening. The young girl jerked her elbow back into Ape's nose and sent a crack through the air. The man clutched at his face and stumbled backwards. Guinevere seized her chance and used one final kick to send the man onto the ground. She snapped up her dagger and pressed it against his forehead.

“Guinevere, don't.” Albus took a quick step towards the girl, but she held up her hand. “You can't...hurt him. You shouldn't.”

“There be no intentions of wounding this man any further than he has already allowed. I ask him but once more to return my necklace lest he wish to make me retract my promise.” She pressed her knee into the man's chest and held out her hand.

With a shaking hand, Ape reached into the leather pouch at his side and pulled free the shining treasure. He placed it into the girl's upturned palm and closed his eyes. Guinevere jumped to her feet and cradled her returned necklace to her chest.

In the distance, the loud whinny of a horse could be heard, followed by a man's voice giving military style orders. Guinevere paled as she spotted tiny dots of light coming towards them. “My father. He hast sent his men. We must flee!”

Gareth wasted no time. He grabbed his sword in one hand and Guinevere's hand in the other, who in turn grabbed Albus' hand, and the three began to run back towards their own horses. “Your sword,” Albus called out as they passed through the thieves clearing, his eyes falling onto the lost practice sword. “Think not of it, your life will not be forfeit for a battered old trinket,” Gareth called back and the three continued to run.

They mounted the horses with grace, Albus included, and rode away into the night, headed back for Gareth's safe homestead. Guinevere looked back only once, to assure herself that the torch lights were not following them. She had reclaimed her necklace, and by extension her honour, but it would be all for nothing if she could not make it to see the King.



Chapter 7: The Return
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The Return

By the time the three arrived safely at Gareth's storehouse, they were feeling near giddy. Guinevere could not stop smiling as she helped the boy's unharness the horses and return them to their stables. She kept recounting every detail of the small battle, telling it over and over as though Gareth and Albus had not be right by her side. A small fire was built and the three huddled around it, each with several apples at their feet and victory in their hearts.

“In the morning, I shall make arrangements to help you on your way.” Gareth spoke without room for argument. “I do wish that I could accompany you on the remainder of your journey, but alas, tonight was the last of mine youthful adventures. I must begin proper training soon if I ever wish to join the King at his round table.”

“I wouldn't worry too much.” Albus picked up and apple and buffed it on his shirt hem. “You're going to make a great knight one day. They'll write stories and poetry of your epic deeds.” He cut his eyes between the two across from him and a sad smile fell upon his lips. Knowing the fates of the two people he now cherished so deeply, but being unable to warn them of it, was a sickening feeling indeed. He lowered the apple back onto the ground, his appetite suddenly lost.

“And of you as well, Albus.” Guinevere got up from her place by the fire and moved to sit directly beside the boy. “Such bravery you did show. Without even that wand you claim to have needed so desperately. I do wish to reward you for your assistance.”

“I don't need a reward. I was happy to help you.”

Guinevere just continued to smile and slipped her newly recovered necklace from over her head. “Do you see how it is two?” She spoke very gently and held the trinket in the light so Albus could get a good look at it. It was small, about the size of the girl's palm, and a dark silver. The metal was formed into the shape of two animals: one lion and one serpent. The creatures were tangled up within each other, at one moment they appeared to be fighting, prepared to rip the other apart, then the next it was as if they were embracing, like old friends as they met again after a long time from each other's company. It was then that he noticed the necklace was not one, but two. Each of the animals held a loop atop their heads and the two chains were twisted around each other to appear as one.

“They come apart?” Albus brushed his fingers over the lion and smiled down at it.

The girl simply nodded and gave the necklace a twist. Soon, the animals lay separated in her hands. “It was my mother's and her brother's. A gift from their father on their thirteenth birthday. Twins,” she quickly clarified. “My grandfather would always say that my mother was cool and cunning, like a serpent that did lie in the grass, awaiting its meal to wander by before snapping down.” As she spoke, she placed the serpent half of the necklace back around her neck and fixed it to sit against her chest. “And her brother, he was strong and powerful, like a lion. Ready to jump into battle and defend her from even the smallest of would-be attackers.” She ran her fingers along the lion's mane and held the necklace up towards Albus.

The boy ducked his head and allowed her to slip the trinket around his neck. He lifted the tiny silver creature into his hand and gazed down at it with eyes full of pride. “You think I'm a lion?”

“I know you to be.” Guinevere touched the boy's shoulders and looked into his eyes; she smiled at him as a sister would smile at her brother, loving and devoted.

“Your uncle...?” Albus bit his bottom lip, unsure if he wanted to know the fate of the previous owner.

“Alive and well, he is, I assure you.” Guinevere patted his shoulders comfortingly. “When my mother did pass on...he could not bare to keep it. A daily reminder that one piece of him was forever lost.” She turned away from Albus' gaze and stared down at her own part of the necklace. “I want you to have a part of this world when you return to your own,” she whispered.

“You mean if I return.” Albus let out a heavy sigh and his arms dropped to his sides. “I'm just hoping that once we get to King Arthur, he can direct me to the nearest wizard. And even then, the odds of sending me forward in time....” He couldn't bear to go on.

“You shall return.” Guinevere laid her hand on Albus' arm, calling his attention to her. “You must go home. Albus...you must wake up.”

“Wake up?”

“Albus, wake up,” Guinevere repeated, but this time her voice was deeper and odd. “Please wake up.” The sound was strange, such masculinity erupting from such feminine features. “Albus, wake up!” The voice was upset, on the brink of tears, and it sound familiar. Oh-so-familiar.

The auburn-haired boy struggled to place it; fingers clawed through his mind, trying to pull the memories from a mind seeming so bent on forgetting them. He knew the voice? Yes, he knew the voice, but a name he could not yet place. Albus' mouth began to tingle and his taste buds burned with the flavour of sparkling cider. His body began to jerk of its own accord, like an invisible force had grabbed him up and started shaking him.

He opened his mouth to scream for the oddities to stop, but found that he could not. His eyes were closing, his lids heavy. He struggled to keep them open. He did not want to lose sight of Guinevere, who was still calling out for him to wake in that eerie voice. Albus felt as though he were being pulled away; being pulled away from Guinevere, from Gareth, from the swords and thieves and horses and adventure. He willed himself to stay, but the space before him began to melt into darkness. Guinevere's face slid away, like water had been splashed onto an unsealed oil painting. And Albus was plunged into the darkness.

“Stop!” Albus forced out his plea and snapped his eyes open. He wanted so desperately for Guinevere to be standing over him, telling him that everything was okay. But the face above his was not that of a Runaway Princess. It was that of Elphias Doge.

The blonde boy's face was in sheer panic. His brown eyes were stained with red. “He's awake!”

Albus cringed at the volume and blinked his hair out of his eyes. Standing above Elphias was a girl from their House, holding an empty cider bottle, and Albus was suddenly aware that his face was sticky. He licked the drink from his lips and pushed himself up onto his elbows. There was a small crowd gathered around, but no signs of the boy responsible for his fall. “Where is she?”

“Where's who?” Elphias held his hands out to his friend, in near fear that he would shatter if touched. “Someone's gone after the nurse if that's who you mean.”

“Guinevere....” Albus could feel himself in a half dreaming state. The back of his head began to pulse and he gingerly touched his fingertips to it. The boy pulled his hand back, his fingers coated in his own thick blood.

Elphias paled and turned from the sight. “Oh, that's a lot of blood.”

“I fell...and hit my head...and went into the water.” Albus had to force out the recollection.

“No.” The other boy shook his head. “I mean yes, you fell and yes, you hit your head, but you didn't go into the water, Albus. There's enchantments all along the ravine, like a net. They caught you just a tiny ways down. We pulled you back over the edge and Higgins went for the nurse.”

“I was gone for days,” the boy argued, his body sinking back onto the ground.

“You've only been out for a minute.”

Elphias was sounding more worried with each comment Albus made, so the boy chose to remain quiet. His hands lowered onto the dirt by his side and his fingertips brushed along something cold. The young Gryffindor closed his fist around the unseen object and pocketed it without a moment's hesitation.

The next few hours were a blur for Albus Dumbledore. He was put onto a stretcher and hauled in to the Hospital Wing. He drifted in and out of consciousness, coming to at various points. He caught glimpses of the nurse fussing over him, repairing his head, feeding him bits of chicken broth, changing his bandage. One of the professors came in to ask for his full story but he could only recall bits and pieces. His memories were still tied up with Gareth and Guinevere. Later, Elphias would tell him that he kept asking “Did she get to the king?”.

It was three days before Albus was released from the Hospital Wing. He gathered his clothing, the outfit he'd been wearing when he fell, and trudged his way back to the Gryffindor Tower. He dropped heavily onto the edge of his bed. The boy let his clothes tumble from his arms, only to hear a strange clink against the stone floor. Albus scooted the pile of trousers away and stared down at what appeared to be a silver necklace beneath them. He carefully picked up the trinket and traced the edges of it with his fingertips. He could only vaguely recall having slipped it into his pocket that day when he lay in the dirt. The longer he stared down at the silver molded lion, the more attached he felt.

Albus slipped the chain around his neck and there the lion remained for many years to come. When anyone would inquire about where he'd gotten it, he would simply smile and shrug because after a while, he could not remember. His adventures with Guinevere and Gareth became no more than forgotten dreams pushed to the back of his mind in favour of studies and achievement.

The end.




Note: Thank you for reading. --Jenna

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