Lost and Found - 2nd Cycle
Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek
"So, where are we eating?" Gabrielle asked, stowing their equipment in a satchel. She shrank it to the size of a walnut, dropping it into her purse.
"A tavern in Paphos — I’m fairly certain that it’s still open," Harry replied, screwing up his face, "Cyprus is an hour ahead of Marseilles, two hours ahead of the UK — I’ve been round the world and this time-zone business still throws me," he complained.
"What’s for dinner?" Gabrielle asked, her stomach giving a well timed rumble.
"Meze, the Cypriot answer to dim sum; little bits of everything, hot and cold — you can be done in ten minutes or two hours," Harry said. He turned to get a good look at Gabrielle, pausing to kiss her.
"What was that for?" Gabrielle asked.
"Do I need a reason?" he replied.
Gabrielle smiled, shaking her head.
"Do you want the coordinates?" he asked.
"Not particularly," she said, giving him the sly smile he knew so well. He put his arms around her and Disapparated them both. They both knew that she could Apparate across the ocean without working up a sweat, but preferred Sidealong Apparation; it was quirky, but frankly, he didn’t mind overmuch.
Dinner at the Dragon Tavern was hurried, which was a pity, as the meze was particularly intriguing that evening. Gabrielle did remember to pass along a message from his solicitor, which Harry then explained to her. "I’m trying to sell Monsieur Artzai’s business — Madame Artzai has no interest in running the business without her husband, and frankly, they need the money," Harry said.
"Are you buying it?" Gabrielle asked.
"Would I do something like that?" he parried.
"If you thought you could get away with it, yes," Gabrielle answered.
"I would if I had to, but no, my solicitor has arranged for a bona fide buyer. I am arranging a line of credit for the purchase, but the Artzai family has no need to know the details — they’re getting good value for the business as measured by an honest appraisal," Harry said.
Gabrielle lifted Harry’s hand, placing a gentle kiss on his palm.
"Thank you," she said simply.
"I know what it’s like to be alone in the world," Harry said softly.
"I know," she echoed.
After dinner, they Apparated to the TroÃ¶dos mountains, seeking the base of the particular peak where the monastery was located. Harry used his wand to mark the anchors supporting the field over the mountain with a faint, glowing green light. "Ready?"
"Not particularly — I’m not eager to lose you again," Gabrielle complained.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked.
"Ever since we’ve — uh — come to terms with how we feel about each other, I’ve had your signature locked in my memory. It’s like there’s a little bit of you tucked away inside of me and its getting bigger every day. I don’t want to lose that, even for an evening," Gabrielle said.
"You make it sound like you’re pregnant," Harry quipped.
"No such luck," Gabrielle retorted. "Although now that you mention it, I wouldn’t mind practicing."
"All in good time," Harry replied.
"Can I Apparate safely once I’m under the field?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yeah, but anything other than line-of-sight tends to go wonky on the destination — I’m not sure why," Harry said, "I never managed to Splinch myself doing line-of-sight under one of these fields, but I wouldn’t try blind Apparation to a coordinate — that’s guaranteed to push you into the mountain, and repairing that damage is beyond my first-aid skills.
"Won’t work, either in or out; again, I don’t know why, just what happens," Harry continued, "these fields have been fascinating to study."
"I imagine so. Okay, you’ve got ten minutes, and then I’m going to try to acquire your signature under the field. If I can’t acquire it within an hour, I’ll call you on the phone and we go home," Gabrielle said.
"What? You don’t care for my winter home?" he asked. He leaned in to give her a kiss.
"For luck," he said with a wink. "If you find me in under half-an-hour, there’s more."
"You do know how to motivate a girl, Monsieur," she said, smiling broadly.
"I try," he said, giving her a wave as he Disapparated, leaving a whirling cloud of dust in his absence.
Purposeful waiting was okay; tailing a subject into a building and waiting for him or her to leave the building was dreadfully boring, but with a lively propensity towards very vivid daydreams, the time could be passed without going mad.
Waiting for the sake of waiting; just watching the time to go by was hideously boring, so Gabrielle went hiking.
Her eyes were acclimated to the wan light provided by the moon on a partly cloudy night, so she carefully picked her way around the perimeter of the field, using the faintly glowing anchors as reference points. She’d made her way almost a kilometre from her starting point before the timing charm pinged. She’d lost her grip on her fiancÃ©’s signature the instant he’d Disapparated, so she was most curious as to what, if anything, she’d be able to sense once she, and he, were both under the field.
Once under the field, checking twice to make sure that she was within the imaginary lines connecting the glowing anchor points, she sat down on a rock of comfortable height, closing her eyes.
It took a while to centre herself. Then she pushed out her senses. She could detect the field, but it was remarkably elusive, like a wisp of scent on a windy day. There were various living things on the mountain, of course, including several dozen monks near the peak. The other living things could be quickly categorized and then dismissed. She wasn’t interested in the hare that was just out-of-sight to the west, or the fox that stalked it. She was looking for two-legged prey.
Sweeping her senses past the monastery, she went searching for Harry’s place — an apartment, really, built into a cave near the top of the mountain. She smiled in satisfaction when she found the cave, and then began to screw up her face in concentration as she searched for traces of his signature there. There was something there, but it wasn’t Harry’s signature. Or was it? It had all the elements of Harry’s magical signature, but they were scrambled somehow. She then cast her senses out, covering the mountain, looking for a similarly scrambled signature.
"Got you," she said, a feral glint in her eyes as they opened.
"Yes!" she hissed, pumping her fist. She looked down at her watch.
He’d been gone for twenty minutes; it had taken her ten minutes to find his scrambled signature. Now she just had to catch up to him.
"You owe me, Harry," she growled.
He’d been moving from place to place, which was not totally surprising, but she was a little irked by the time she got within line-of-sight to his position.
She Apparated to a spot opposite to where he was seated, studying the expression on his face; he appeared to be happy.
"I knew you could do it," he said. "I’m very proud of you. So, what was it like?"
She straddled his lap, pulling his face to her for a kiss, a long, deep kiss.
"Scrambled is what it was. Your signature was there all the time, but I didn’t recognize it. I went looking for your place at the top of the mountain — there was a trace of a magical signature there, but it wasn’t yours — or that’s what I thought at first. Then I figured it had all of the elements of your magical signature, just scrambled around like a children’s word jumble. Then I went looking for a similarly scrambled signature. Speaking of which, I’ve got a sample of Matzalen’s hair in my satchel — I’m going to try reading it here to see how scrambled her signature is under these screwy conditions. After I figured out your signature, it was just a matter of doing line-of-sight hops without twisting my ankles on these wretched rocks," Gabrielle explained with a hint of satisfaction.
"If it was a nice place, the monks wouldn’t live here," Harry replied. "Speaking of which, I want to introduce you to someone."
"Who?" Gabrielle asked.
"Abbot Anthony," Harry replied. He indicated that she should stand up, and after standing up himself, laced his fingers in hers and began walking down the mountain, picking out a narrow trail in the twilight.
"Why am I meeting him?" Gabrielle asked.
"He’s someone important in my life."
The monastery of St. Athanasius was surrounded by a high wall, an artefact of days when it was literally a fortress against the world. The gates were closed, but the brother assigned to serve as the gatekeeper recognized Harry, giving him a quick hug before he noticed Gabrielle in the shadows behind him. The two men murmured something in a language that Gabrielle didn’t understand. The gatekeeper then addressed Gabrielle in English. "Wait here, I will fetch the Abbot."
"What’s the matter? No girls allowed?" Gabrielle asked after the gatekeeper departed.
"Something like that — the monastery hasn’t had a woman within its walls for a couple of hundred years, and that woman was a nun from a cloistered convent who was trying to escape from the local warlord of the day," Harry explained. "Don’t take it personally."
"Is there anything I shouldn’t do here?" Gabrielle asked nervously.
Harry laughed. "Don’t hit on the brothers or flash them with Veela allure, other than that, just be yourself."
The Abbot arrived silently, almost catching Gabrielle by surprise.
"Brother Harry," he said quietly, in English. "I trust you are well?"
"Very well, reverend father," Harry replied. "I see the field is holding nicely."
"Indeed," Abbot Anthony said, smiling broadly. "The Turks did not believe me when I told them about it. After the first six mortar rounds rebounded back on their positions, they concluded that while I was as crazy as the legends say I am I was to be believed. Since then it’s been blissfully quiet." Turning to Gabrielle, he extended a hand to her, which she took. He had a firm grip. "I am Anthony."
"Gabrielle," she replied, wondering if she should curtsey.
"We’re engaged," Harry announced.
Abbot Anthony looked intently at Gabrielle. Although she was fairly certain that he wasn’t a Legilimens, she felt that he was looking deeply into her.
"I have heard much about you," Abbot Anthony said, his eyes twinkling in the moonlight. "Your companion thought at one time that he wished to take up the habit and become a monk. I encouraged him to give the matter further thought and prayer. It appears that he is not entirely incapable of discerning the will of God for his life, and that God has graciously provided a comely helpmate. So, are you an Anglican like Harry, or a lapsed Catholic like the remainder of your countrymen?"
"Right — uh - about the helpmate bit," Gabrielle stammered. "I’m — uh — working on that — wherever Harry goes, I go."
"A sound decision," he said with a low chuckle, looking over to Harry. "Do you have a date?"
"Soon," Harry replied. "We have some business that must be wound up first."
"Dark business, like the last?"
"Yes, reverend father," Harry said.
"It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak, which necessitates that men like you must rescue them when they need rescuing. The brothers, of course, will pray for you. If there is anything more that you require, you have but to ask, Brother Harry. May I pray for you now?" he asked.
"Of course," Harry replied.
Abbot Anthony held his hand out to them, palm up. "Give me your hands," he said.
Gabrielle placed her hand in his broad, dry palm, Harry placed his over hers. Abbot Anthony took his free hand and wrapped a knotted rope around their hands, beginning to chant softly in the language used earlier by the gatekeeper. Gabrielle thought she recognized a word here or there, but couldn’t be sure. Although this was a novel experience for her, praying with Abbot Anthony, here under the stars felt right, somehow. When he finished chanting he looked up at them, a small smile upon his face. He then looked to heaven and said, in perfect Parisian French, "Heavenly Father, bind their lives together, watch over them, and grant them your grace, your peace, and your love. Amen."
"Amen," Gabrielle replied, hoping that she wasn’t making a fool of herself.
"See, it is not so hard," Abbot Anthony said, slipping the rope from their hands. "Perhaps Brother Harry will even be able to show you how to make the sign of the cross properly, instead of backwards."
"Behave, reverend father," Harry cautioned.
"Never; I am incorrigible. Goodnight, children," Abbot Anthony said, pulling the gate closed again. "You are welcome to return. Peace be with you."
"And with your spirit," Harry replied.
Harry gave Gabrielle’s hand a squeeze. "I wanted you to meet him — he’s done a lot for me."
"Did you really want to be a monk here?" Gabrielle asked.
"I wanted what they had," Harry answered, "but this is not what I was born for."
"Thank goodness," Gabrielle replied. "I’d hate for you to have to sneak out to see me every night."
"Every night?" Harry asked.
"Well, every night but Saturday night; we’d have to give you one good night to sleep with a clear conscience after confessing the many sins you’d be committing with me on the other nights," Gabrielle quipped. "Can we go home now?"
"Not yet, one more stop," Harry said.
"To your place at the top of the mountain?"
"No, there’s not much there; we’re going back to England, I need to tap into the mind of England’s smartest witch," Harry said, pulling her into his arms.
If the gatekeeper noticed their disappearance, he kept it to himself. Stranger things have happened at the monastery of St. Athanasius.
Hogsmeade was quiet and the streets were dark when they arrived outside of Hermione’s cottage. Harry rapped on the door.
"Harry! What if they’re asleep? What if they’re - being intimate?" Gabrielle asked sharply.
"If they’re asleep, I’m sure that they can wake up for us and then fall back asleep again after we’re gone. If they’re being intimate, I’m sure the door will be appropriately charmed and they’ll never hear us," Harry said.
The door pulled open quickly. "The door’s not charmed, and we’re not being intimate, not yet, at least," Hermione said with a smile. "Come on in, you two. I’m sure it’s something important if you’re showing up at this hour. Neville? Can you put the kettle on for tea? Harry and Gabrielle are here."
Four mugs of tea, six slices of cake, and numerous hugs and kisses later, the two couples were seated in the kitchen around a small table.
"If it were anyone else, I couldn’t believe that you’d propose on a note-pad, but since it’s you, Harry, I truly believe it," Hermione said, wiping a tear of laughter from her eye.
"Thanks, I think," Harry said.
"So what really brings you by, Harry?" Neville asked, his voice firm. "If it were just to let us know that you two finally got engaged, you could have sent a card."
"Finally?" Harry said, his voice rising in mock umbrage. "I’d say that this courtship has been moving along fairly expeditiously, Mister-I’ll-wait-seven-years-to-ask-Hermione-out-Longbottom."
"She was busy," Neville protested. Gabrielle laughed.
"What do you need, Harry?" Hermione asked, her eyes shining.
"I need a way to find and paint the perimeters of one or more unknown Anti-Apparation fields which might be located anywhere across an area the size of a goodly sized city and map the results," Harry said, filling a sketch pad with diagrams and equations representing the field. "Anything come to mind off of the top of your head?"
Hermione made a face as if she were trying to remember something. "Let me go check one of my journals," she replied, disappearing into another room in the cottage.
"She’s looking much better," Harry said to Neville.
"She’s working really hard in therapy. She’s pretty much back to normal," he said.
"She’ll never be normal," Harry said lightly.
"I heard that Harry," Hermione said, bringing in a small stack of leather bound notebooks.
"You’ll always be singularly exceptional," he said warmly.
"That’s a little bit better. Gabrielle, you need to work on polishing him some more," Hermione admonished.
"I keep trying to polish him, but he’s playing hard to get," Gabrielle said with a grin.
"Oh, Lord, save us from unresolved sexual tension," Neville moaned.
"Amen!" Gabrielle chimed.
"Hem, hem," Hermione said, causing the Gryffindors to laugh.
"I don’t get it," Gabrielle said.
"Ask Harry to explain it sometime when you’re very relaxed," Hermione said. "You’re going to want to break something by the time he finishes the story."
"O-kay," Gabrielle said, slightly annoyed that she’d been left out.
"So, what’s in the journals?" Harry asked.
"Remember Malfoy Manor?" Hermione began.
"The first time or the second time?" Harry replied.
"The second time, when we blew it up," Hermione said. "We were on the West team; the East team brought the wards down. Anyway, the Manor had a field up like the one you sketched. The Twins cobbled together a means of painting the field so the West team could find its anchors. It was their type of job: fireworks, explosives and the chance to leave a Phoenix Mark over the burning ruins of Malfoy Manor."
"You make it sound like a favourite holiday," Gabrielle said sleepily.
"It was the only building I ever enjoyed watching burn to the ground," Hermione said, opening a journal. "Anyway, enough of that digression. For that mission the Twins asked me for some help in the theory and Spellwork for a powder that sparkles a bit when it hits this type of field. We packed it into one of their whiz-bang rockets in place of the ball of pyrotechnics. The explosive charge scatters the powder, which then floats in a cloud to the earth, with some wind drift, of course. There are probably better ways of dispersing the powder, but we were rushed for time. Is tomorrow morning soon enough? I know that Gred and Forge can cobble together as many as you need. I can drop-ship a batch to the Auror office in Marseilles. Do you care whether the powder effect is visible?"
Harry pondered the point. "I’d rather that it not be visible — maybe we can push it into a spectrum that’s not visible and then use some of the Muggle devices to look for the effect."
"Hmph," Hermione said, pulling out a pencil.
"You know, mate, she’s not going to go to bed now, until she figures out how to do that," Neville said.
"My apologies in advance, Neville," Harry said. "Tomorrow would be fine. I think it’s time that I get sleeping beauty back to her flat in Marseilles. Ready to go, love?"
Gabrielle didn’t answer. She’d leaned forward, resting her head on her crossed arms, and fallen asleep.
Copyright © 2006 J Cornell — all rights reserved.
As always, I owe a debt to the gracious, comely and speedy Runsamok. Thanks.