Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Moonshine Glories

Chapter VI

by Lachesis 6 reviews

Now that the Dark Lord has returned, the Order of the Phoenix must call in outside help to train their boy savior. Enter one officer used to dealing with the weird, Colonel Jack O'Neill...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Crossover, Drama, Sci-fi - Characters: Hagrid, Harry, Professor McGonagall - Warnings: [!!!] [?] - Published: 2006-12-12 - Updated: 2006-12-12 - 1746 words


"War is at best barbarism... Its glory is all moonshine... War is hell."
-Gen. William T. Sherman


There were only a few people who got off the train at Hogsmeade with them, mostly families with tired, cranky kids who made Jack's ears hurt with their wailing. Jack had to try hard not to feel self-conscious about the trunk floating along behind the trio as they made their way towards a person waiting by the stairs, who was easily the largest man he'd ever seen- maybe half again Teal'c's mass, who had held the previous record. His hair and beard were dark and wildly tangled, and bright, cheerful black eyes beamed out at them from half again Jack's height.

"Harry!" the giant exclaimed, stepping forward as they came near and lifting the kid into a rib-cracking bear hug. Jack didn't even bother trying to hide his sympathetic wince. "Blimey, lad, but it's good ter see yeh! I've been worried sick about yeh, after tha' mess with the Third Task..."

Harry's answering smile started out genuine enough, but by the end of the giant's statement it had frozen and gone brittle. "I'm fine, Hagrid," he said quietly as he was put back down. "I survived it, didn't I?"

There was a moment of awkward silence, until McGonagall cleared her throat. "Is the carriage prepared, Hagrid?"

Hagrid nodded his shaggy head. "Aye, Professor. It's waiting over by the path." He turned and began walking away, and their little group trailed along in his enormous wake. He led them down off the platform and over to said path, where Jack could just see the back of an old-fashioned, horse-drawn carriage sitting beneath a stand of ancient oak trees.

"Let me guess," he drawled sotto voce to the boy next to him. "No electricity, and no cars, either."

Harry shook his head with a tiny smile. "I've only once seen a wizard use a car, and that had been magicked to fly," he answered just as quietly.

Nevertheless, though, their conversation had been overheard. "Would that be the same flying car you and Mr. Weasley crashed into the Whomping Willow, Mr. Potter?" McGonagall asked archly. "If so, I believe it is still running loose in the Forbidden Forest." Jack stared at her for a long moment, then turned and saw a slow flush creeping up Harry's cheeks.

Hagrid laughed, a deep, booming sound. "Aye, it is," he confirmed. "An' I dunno why, but Fang's got his heart set on chasing it down. Dunno what the daft bugger would do with it if'n he caught it, either."

"I don't think any dog knows that, Hagrid," Harry replied, though his face was still a bit pink and he wouldn't meet Jack's laughing eyes.

The American's step quickened, gaining a hint of jauntiness. Any place that had flying cars couldn't be all bad, could it?

That thought lasted as long as it took him to round the closed carriage and see just what was pulling it. When Harry gasped in surprise as he caught sight of them, Jack reached back and pulled the boy protectively behind him, slowly backing away from the skeletal, winged, almost reptilian horses in the traces, and more particularly their sharp, bloodstained teeth. "Hagrid, what are those things?" Harry whispered, his voice tight. "They weren't there last year..."

"It's all righ', lad. Thestrals have always pulled the Hogwarts carriages. Yeh just... couldn't ever see them before," Hagrid finished weakly. He and Professor McGonagall shared a sad glance, but neither of them seemed inclined to elaborate, and Harry didn't ask further. Jack reluctantly let his young charge go, giving the other two adults a hard look that informed them that, while Harry might not be willing to pry, the colonel was very willing and would be doing so very soon.

Jack kept between Harry and the obviously meat-eating 'thestrals' until the kid had climbed safely into the carriage. He helped McGonagall in next, earning the first approving glance she'd ever given him, and then got in himself. When Hagrid joined them after hefting Harry's trunk on top the carriage should have been even more cramped than the van earlier had been, but impossibly, there was plenty of room.

It wasn't so much the strangeness of everything that kept getting to Jack. It was how no one else ever seemed to notice that there was anything out of the ordinary.

"Put this on," McGonagall ordered brusquely, holding out her hand. When Jack reached out she dropped a pendant into his hand. "There are several muggle-aversion wards around Hogwarts grounds. This will keep them from affecting you."

He dangled the necklace in the air. The pendant was a carved Celtic knot, with a leather cord slipped through one of the loops, and looked perfectly ordinary to his eyes. "Pretty, I guess, but is it really necessary?" he asked.

The professor gave him a thin-lipped smile. "Unless you want to spend your entire time here wandering about the castle, dazed, confused, and convinced you're in the middle of some particularly unsafe ruins, yes."

Jack grimaced at her and slipped the cord over his head, tucking the pendant beneath his shirt. "Peachy," was his only comment, and the last word any of them spoke for the rest of the ride. Harry looked too uncomfortable surrounded by adults to start a conversation, and the adults themselves were nearly complete strangers and just as uncomfortable as the boy was.

The trip up to the castle was unnaturally smooth, based on what little the colonel knew about carriages like this one. It took maybe eight, ten minutes before the creaking of the wheels slowed, and finally stopped. After Hagrid, Jack made sure he was the first one out, as much to breathe in the fresh, uncluttered-by-issues air as to make sure nothing was waiting out there to get the kid. He looked around at his surroundings, and...

Stopped dead, his lips parted with delight as the muggle took in his very first view of their destination.

Hogwarts was a many-turreted behemoth that even in the darkness dominated the landscape for miles around. It had been built on top of a cliff overlooking a black-watered lake, which reflected the cheerful glow from the hundreds of windows placed at seemingly-random intervals in the stone walls.

"You weren't kidding when you said the school was in a castle, were you?" he commented a little breathlessly as he felt Harry coming up behind him. And not just a normal castle-Hogwarts was the kind of castle that you only saw in fairy tales, a beautiful, improbable place that could only have been built with magic. Which made sense, really...

He heard the boy give a knowing chuckle. "She's really something, isn't she?" Harry said quietly, a genuine love in his voice.

Jack had to nod. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was something, all right.

Now he just needed to figure out what she was.


McGonagall hustled them inside the castle almost at a run, leaving Hagrid behind with the carriage. She let them pause only once the large, wooden doors at the entrance crashed shut behind them, leaving Jack wondering just who she was hiding them from. "I will show you to your rooms so you may unpack, Mr. O'Neill. Then the Headmaster has asked that we all join him in the Great Hall for dinner. And you're in the Tower, Mr. Potter, as usual," she said, leading them along at a much slower pace, Harry's trunk still floating faithfully along behind them.

Next came a maze of staircases that Jack audibly groaned at as they came into view. "No damn elevators, either... Can't you people at least get flying carpets or something?" he grumbled, mostly to himself.

Harry snickered. "Those have been illegal in Britain since the seventies," he replied, grinning at Jack's double take. "Don't worry, sir, you get used to it. Watch out for this step, it's tricky." He hopped over a step halfway up the staircase, and Jack warily followed his example, fixing the step's location in his mind.

He'd already firmly decided that if a wizard warned him about something, he was damn well going to pay attention. His imagination could only begin to stretch far enough to consider what might happen to him if he didn't.

McGonagall never looked back. "I imagine you'll spend the next few days familiarizing yourself with the castle. You're to help him, Mr. Potter. The last thing we need is to lose your new... instructor for a week and have to send the house elves out after him." Harry murmured a quiet 'Yes, Professor' as Jack did his best not to gape indignantly. Never mind whatever the hell 'house elves' were; he'd never get lost for a week! It might take him a couple of days to get his bearings, yeah, but after that he wouldn't have a problem!

"Hogwarts can be hard to find your way in," Harry told him. "First years usually take a while to learn their way around, and even then it's a few months before you're really comfortable wandering around."

Jack's doubt must have shown on his face, because the kid grinned again, pausing and waiting for the older man on the next landing. "Hogwarts is pretty much alive, sir, and she likes to change. Not all the rooms are in the same places all the time. And the staircases... well, look up."

Jack did. For a moment he saw nothing out of the ordinary about the stairwell, save that the school's strange architecture extended to the random crisscross of stairs that went up at least six or seven stories. Then there was a low groaning sound, and one of the staircases near the fifth floor shivered and began to move away from its moorings. It swung ponderously over the gap, finally coming to rest at a landing almost forty-five degrees away from where it had started.

"They can be a real bugger, switching on you and making you late for class," Harry told him, tugging gently on his arm.

"Language, Mr. Potter," McGonagall called out, already a full staircase ahead of them, and the young wizard winced and hurried to catch up. Jack shook his head with another glance up the stairwell, and stepped it up. Letting his guide get out of his sight had already proven to be a mistake, back at the train station.

Still, though, what he wouldn't give for a map...
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