Pairing: John/Rodney (kinda pre-slash)
Word Count: 18,500+
Warning: SGA/HP crossover, bastardized future fic. The year is 2011, but the guys are all kids, so. Make of that what you will.
Summary: After the first day, McKay had sniffed imperiously, chin tipped up, and told him that he wasn’t a complete idiot, and his shame would only be marginal if they were seen together outside of class. Instead of telling him to fuck off, John had grinned sardonically and drawled a mocking, “Thanks,” and McKay took that as the olive branch it wasn’t and bullied his way into John’s daily life.
A/N: I probably shouldn't have written this. I probably shouldn't have invested so much freakin' time in this sort of crack, but oh well. This is for civilbloodshed, who asked for a SGA/HP crossover drabble and gave me the excuse to go completely insane (50 pages. geez). Huge thanks go to druidspell for beta'ing this monster :)
And Seriously? I think I've watched Ghostbusters waaaay too many times. Ten points for whoever picks out the badly mangled quote.
Finally: I took liberty with just about everything from the Harry Potter and Stargate universes. Consequently, I have no idea what I'm talking about.
And here's a small guide to Harry Potter minor characters in case you need it.
**Awesome banner by the wonderful sandrainthesun!**
When John started Hogwarts, there was a crater the size of a small farmhouse where a Whomping Willow used to stand, shallowed out by rain.
Lush blue-green grass grew dense in the center every spring, snapping hothouse flowers layered the bowl in the short months of summer, and in the fall and winter - fog hanging low and dew a chilly cling on every blade and petal - snow-white lilies, bells dark in the center, sagged on limp stems wherever the Willow used to shake off its turning summer coat.
A slim, twisted Japanese maple, star-like purple leaves stubbornly present during every dreary season of Scotland, arched over a circular stone slab that marked the edge of the hole closest to the castle. And on the slab was an epitaph, cryptic verse in a carved scrawl, with points about moors and gray heather and a city at the bottom of the sea; about black hounds and the sky at four p.m. and the slow, mellow burn of early autumn. Square-cut hieroglyphics rimmed the outside, half-buried under aged moss, impressions caked with dirt from over a decade of weather.
No one knew what it meant or who had placed it there.
Most said, though, that if you followed the words to their end, you’d find Harry Potter. But Harry Potter, boy-savior, was dead.
Millicent Bulstrode stared moodily across the room, a scowl curving her lips, cup of long-cold tea cradled between her hands. Her kitchen was spare but clean, and an obnoxious birthday Owl from Abbott was perched on the counter, flashing pink sparkles and, thankfully, not shouting her age.
The woman never forgot an occasion. Millie, despite her numerous complaints about the ex-Hufflepuff, actually appreciated the effort. There weren’t many people left who would care.
And now the old gang was getting back together. Excellent. She rolled her eyes and got to her feet, spilling her untouched tea down the drain.
Something strange was afoot at Hogwarts, apparently, but she supposed it beat tossing off that exposé on wild yetis she owed the Quibbler. There was a time when she’d sought actual newsworthy freelance assignments, but the truth had lost its limited appeal years ago.
Sitting down at her desk, she wrote to Abbott and jotted a quick note to Malcolm and then set about finding her copy of Hogwarts: A History. She didn’t think she’d burned it, although at one point heavy drinking had been an important part of her daily life, and the amount of fuzzy and missing pieces in her memory was truly frightening - it wasn’t as if the temptation hadn’t always been there.
Hogwarts represented the best and worst moments of her past. She’d gotten over it. Gotten over as much as she could, really, and it helped to have a half-insane woman as a non-best friend, who had a determinedly cheerful outlook on nearly everything.
Millicent wasn’t exactly sure what was going on or what she was supposed to do, but she’d go back. Partly because he’d asked her to, of course, but mainly because she was curious.
“It’s blatant discrimination!”
John glanced up at McKay from his Potions’ text, which he hadn’t actually been reading. He never read when he was in the library with the sixth year Slytherin. McKay was just too damn entertaining. “What is?”
“That hag who calls herself a librarian won’t let me into the Restricted Section. I even have a note!” He waved around a little piece of parchment in front of John’s nose. “You’d think after ten years Slytherin would have a better rap.”
Eyebrows arched, John snatched the paper out of his hands. He snickered. “McKay, this is Carson’s handwriting.”
“It’s nearly illegible,” McKay grumbled, dropping down into the seat across from him. “That should’ve been enough. Professor Weasley marked my last paper with a red crayon. I mean. Incompetents like that shouldn’t be allowed to shape impressionable minds.”
“He’s a werewolf,” Aiden said in a hush from beside John, leaning forward, eyes big and dark and too young to have remembered anything first hand about the Second War.
“Thank you, Mr. Obvious,” McKay snapped, rolling his eyes. “Honestly, Sheppard, where do you find them? You’re like the pied piper of underage Hufflepuffs.”
John flashed him a grin before clapping Aiden’s skinny shoulder, a friendly, shrug-it-off reminder. The kid had known McKay only half as long as John had, and he knew most people needed a hell of lot more than three years to build up a protective shell against the Slytherin’s caustic tongue.
“What do you need back there, anyway?” John asked, fiddling with his quill.
Half of McKay’s mouth twisted down in a thoughtful frown. “Well, I’m curious about the Woman.”
The Woman – capital W, of course, as McKay was nothing if not dramatic - was the brand new resident of the structure that’d been rebuilt where the famed Shrieking Shack used to stand. She wasn’t especially mysterious, told everyone to call her Han, and was a big-breasted blonde nearly twice their age. John didn’t see the attraction. “What about her?”
“Elizabeth says she’s taking over Charms.”
Aiden leaned forward again. “I heard she knew Harry Potter.”
McKay blinked at him. Slowly, he slid his gaze from the third year Hufflepuff back to John. “No, seriously. You’re allowing this-this...?”
“Nice young wizard,” John prompted, grin sharper than before, a warning at the corner of his mouth. He took a lot of shit from McKay, but there were some carefully drawn lines between the Slytherin and Gryffindor. He made sure McKay knew when to pull up and rethink his words.
Not that McKay always took the hint. This time, though, he chuffed and crossed his arms over his chest and gave both Aiden and John a dark scowl. “Look,” he finally said, “we know she’s an old friend of Potter’s. That’s the easy part.”
John grinned his approval of McKay’s hard-won restraint, ignoring his answering eye roll. “Okay,” he nodded. “And the hard part would be...?”
“Figuring out what she knows about the stone in the courtyard.”
“Wait, the stone? And you want to search the Restricted Section?” John asked. There wasn’t anything remotely dark about the blooming crater and the marker deeply set in the ground. It was where the famed last battle had taken place, the last Death Eater stand, the exact spot, it was said, where Potter had killed Voldemort, and then laid down his wand to finally rest.
McKay brushed his chin with the feather end of his quill. “Radek got me thinking,” he said, then pulled out a borrowed Ancient Runes text. “Follow my brilliance, here—”
“McKay, you hate Ancient Runes,” John cut in. “You think it’s a huge waste of time.”
“Which is why I didn’t think of this before,” McKay conceded semi-graciously, “but this ties in pretty tightly with our work in Arithmancy. Look.” He flipped through to the last pages of the book, then spun it around and pushed it towards John. “What’s wrong with these charts?” He leaned back in his chair, smiling smugly.
John arched one brow, but dipped his head gamely to study the numbered glyphs. “I have no idea,” he finally drawled, looking up through his lashes to see McKay’s smirk go from smug to annoyed.
“Oh, come on. You’re not even trying,” he accused.
“Okay, okay,” John chuckled. “Um, well,” he thumbed through the pages again, pointing to a picture of a simple half moon, “some of these are off.”
McKay tapped his fingers impatiently on the table. “Of course they’re off, this is a fifth year text written under duress at the height of the Second War. Chuck left scribbles all over the eighth and tenth chapters, which are so completely mangled they boggle the mind. But what’s wrong,” he stressed, “is that they’re biological glyphs.”
John looked at him blankly. “And?”
“Have you even looked at the marker, Sheppard?” he demanded incredulously. “The carvings are all chevrons. There are no,” he flailed a hand, “geometrics in this. We’re missing something.”
“And you think it’s in the Restricted books?” Aiden asked, fidgeting in his seat. The kid never could sit still for very long.
“Well,” McKay hedged, “yes and no. I mean, maybe, but the main reason is because of this.” His eyes looked shifty as he slid a piece of parchment over to John.
“Gene Splicing and the Venomous Plant by N. Longbottom?”
“What? No.” He tore the paper back and flipped it over. “This,” he hissed, shoving it at him again.
John read the title silently. Ley Curses, Wards, and Fundamentally Immoral Fractures Thereof. “This doesn’t sound all that good, McKay,” he said, voice low.
“We need rubbings,” McKay protested. “There’s so much magic webbed over that area, the entire courtyard’s nearly roped off!” It wasn’t, of course, but it was a close thing, since anyone who even thought about touching the stone immediately wanted to be somewhere else, and rushed off before they could remember why they were outside to begin with. The best view of the marker was from a window above, with a handy set of Omnioculors, but even then it was hard to get exacts, half of it almost always obscured by the Japanese maple.
“So you want to learn how to break strong protective ley line magic.” John nodded. “Still doesn’t sound good.”
“I don’t care how it sounds.” He rolled his eyes. “Are you in or are you out? Since old lady Pince won’t take my note, I’m going to have to sneak back in tonight.”
“Yeah, and you’re just a master of stealth,” John cracked.
“In or out, Sheppard,” McKay growled, scowling.
John sighed, resigned. “In.” Of course. Like he even had to ask. “Jesus, you’re gonna be the death of me, Rodney,” he grumbled, rubbing a hand over his face.
John had lost his mother when he’d been seven, when the War had exploded into the western hemisphere and Muggle-born magic had gone up in green, skull-shaped smoke. When the dust settled, Wizarding culture in the Americas had been nearly decimated, and overseas the only establishments still standing were Hogwarts, the half of Diagon Alley that housed Gringotts, the French Ministry of Magic, and one underground corridor that led away from Durmstrang castle, spilling out into a fetid pond. Wizards and Witches from all over the world flocked to London for what was later referred to as the Golden Trio Memorial Celebration, and most of them just... stayed.
So John was from California, originally, and McKay was of the Toronto McKays, and little Radek Zelenka hadn’t spoken any English at all when he’d first sat under the Sorting Hat six years before, swinging legs hardly touching even the topmost rung of the stool. It was rumored he had a bit of elf in him.
Whether it was actually true or not, though, didn’t seem to affect his leadership role in the Slytherin Underground, Hogwarts’ black market. Zelenka had a sly, diabolical edge – what McKay often referred to as being ‘crazy around the eyes’ – but was thankfully fond of McKay and, by proxy, John.
He couldn’t get them an invisibility cloak, unfortunately, but he scrounged up the exact time and route that Filch paced along the halls of after-hours Hogwarts. The caretaker Squib had gotten predictable in his old age, and Mrs. Norris had been dead for nearly two years. It was possibly the easiest time in the history of the school for students to sneak around after curfew.
Which was a good thing, since it was virtually impossible, John found, to shut McKay up for any length of time.
“Did you hear that?” McKay whipped around, blue eyes wide and really sort of eerie in the glow of his lit wand.
“Are you sure? It was sort of a,” he tipped his head back and forth, “swishing noise.”
John grabbed his shoulders and forced him back around. “That noise?” he hissed in his ear.
“Yes!” McKay exclaimed in a loud, Christ, really loud hush.
“It’s our robes, McKay,” John pointed out as patiently as he could, fingers uncurling and curling, itching to slap a palm over McKay’s babbling mouth.
“Our… oh. Right.” He reached for a smile, tossing it slantways at John with a nervous flick of his wand. “Knew that.”
“Almost there,” John half-crooned, urging McKay impatiently along, one hand on the crook of his elbow to keep him from wandering away from the dark edges. The corridor torches weren’t lit, but John felt safer moving against the solid wall, a reassuring presence on one side.
They reached the library with no problems, luckily, and McKay seemed to know exactly where the book was shelved, making a beeline towards the back corner. John hovered at the mouth of the aisle, one eye on the door, wincing at the racket McKay was making as he pretty much climbed the stacks to reach the very top shelf.
John wasn’t really sure why or how they became friends. You couldn’t live at Hogwarts and not know Rodney McKay, but they were in different years and rival Houses and while John practically lived on the Quidditch pitch, McKay had to be dragged out there whining and complaining. Somehow, though, they’d ended up in the same Advanced Arithmancy class two terms ago.
After the first day, McKay had sniffed imperiously, chin tipped up, and told him that he wasn’t a complete idiot, and his shame would only be marginal if they were seen together outside of class. Instead of telling him to fuck off, John had grinned sardonically and drawled a mocking, “Thanks,” and McKay took that as the olive branch it wasn’t and bullied his way into John’s daily life.
McKay was brilliant, though, and could do things with numbers that literally made John pant, but his ego was the absolute last thing he needed stroked, so John never ever told him that. He liked to talk, too, and John apparently liked to listen – which was a little weird, but John shrugged and went with it – and they had crossed paths in the library so often that they’d eventually just gravitated towards the same table. John’d woken up one day months later and realized he’d been spending nearly every evening with McKay. Surprisingly, he hadn’t been all that disturbed by the revelation.
He’d watch him rant and flail and study and interact – a term John used extremely loosely, since McKay yelled an awful lot and cut people off and made Hufflepuffs of every age cry – and John figured he was the closest thing the Slytherin had to a best friend. It made him feel sort of fuzzy-warm inside.
“Done?” he asked as McKay slipped up next to him, a wide, thick book cradled in his arms.
He flashed a huge grin. “Found it.”
“All right, good. Let’s go.” He hooked an arm around McKay’s neck, giving him a friendly shake. “I’ll walk you back to the dungeons.”
John thought he could probably pace the climbing path from Slytherin to Gryffindor with his eyes closed. He doubted McKay could do the opposite. Or reverse, whatever.
Thing was, McKay had, in the two years they’d been friends, been inside the Tower a total of four times.
Once, when John had gotten clocked by a rogue Bludger and hadn’t been allowed to get out of bed – or risk being shunted back to the infirmary, a place John hated above all others.
Twice over last years’ Christmas holiday, since only four Gryffindors had stayed on at Hogwarts for the season, and McKay had deemed the common room not quite as contaminated with idiot contagions as usual – there was a brief stint of time when McKay’d toyed with the theory of stupidity being catching, but eventually pinned puberty as the underlying culprit.
And once that September, when three of the Slytherin first years – who hadn’t yet learned the practicalities of keeping McKay happy - had gone missing, along with McKay’s secret stash of chocolate frogs. The boy had been seriously pissed, on the warpath, and John doubted he even realized he’d stalked right through the portrait hole after him until Miko’d sidled up next to him with an offering of piping hot cocoa.
Most days, it was John who had to brave the snake pit. Not that he really minded. Laura Cadman was always good for a laugh and, really, nothing beat watching McKay and Zelenka double team reaming out their younger housemates. They apparently kept running tallies of all the stupid infractions made during the day, then charted their progress over the course of the year, outlining the improvement or degeneration of their behavior with bar graphs and percentage pies and frowny-face stickers.
There was a sign just inside the door that read: YOU ARE ALL INFINITELY DUMBER THAN ME, BUT EVERYONE ELSE IS EVEN MORE MORONIC THAN YOU. HAVE SOME PRIDE, MEN –MCKAY.
When John had pointed out that, on average, Ravenclaws held the highest marks in the school, McKay’d harrumphed and said that Ravenclaws were narrow-minded, stuff-shirted page memorizers who called a spade a spade even when it was clearly a shovel, and that no one truly brilliant had ever come out of that House.
John secretly agreed with him, of course, but it was so much fun to wind him up.
The dungeon sofas were butter-soft leather, surprisingly comfortable, and incongruently riddled with homey cross-stitched pillows sporting pithy proverbs like, “The more you get, the more you have,” and, “If a job's worth doing, it's worth paying someone else to do it,” and, “Hufflepuffs are not puppies, feel free to kick.”
And, for the most part, the Slytherins seemed to like him. He’d snuggle up with Ager and Simpson, and McKay’d glower at them until he shifted over to make room on the couch. Then he’d break out the Wizard’s chess and John would purposefully lose, and McKay’d get hilariously mad and as pissy as that hell-beast he called a cat.
So no, John really didn’t mind hanging out in Slytherin. It was just. A little odd. John seemed to be putting in an extra effort that wasn’t being reciprocated. Appreciated, on the other hand. Yeah. John was pretty sure he never imagined the way McKay’s face lit up when their eyes caught, or the crooked, little-boy smile that seemed reserved just for him and chocolate cake.
Nick and Peter were still awake when John stumbled back through the portrait hole and into the Gryffindor common room, bent dangerously close over a game of Exploding Snap, chatting companionably. They were both well-known night owls, so the sight wasn’t unusual.
John threw them an absent wave as he made for the stairs, but paused when Peter said, “I thought Brown was seeing McKay,” as he slapped down a card. His stomach bottomed out and his foot stuttered on the first step, and he furrowed his brow, trying to gauge his internal reaction to that news.
There was a beat, the two younger Gryffindors waiting warily to see if the stack would blow. Then, “Nah,” Nick countered somewhat morosely. “Don’t think so. Parrish and Brown are always together.”
Frowning, John backtracked and flopped down on the sofa in front of the fire, propping his feet up on the low table where the boys were playing.
“But that doesn’t mean—I bloody saw that, Lorne! You’ve got an extra set of cards in your trousers!” Peter accused.
“It’s impossible to cheat at Snap, Grodin,” Nick said, rolling his eyes. “And stop looking down my pants, you poof.”
“I’m not the one making eyes at David,” Peter groused, slumping back in his chair. He offered John a weak grin. “Hullo, John.”
“Shep,” Nick slapped his booted feet, “you hang out with McKay. What’s up with him and Brown?”
John shrugged. Katie Brown was a timid little Hufflepuff. He doubted anything at all was up with her and McKay. McKay, in traditional Slytherin prejudice, thought Hufflepuffs were big-eyed capuchin monkeys dressed up in yellow and black scarves.
That wasn’t the point, though. The point was that the thought of McKay and anyone, really, seemed to make John physically ill. “Huh.”
“What?” Nick asked through a yawn, tossing the rest of his hand away and scrubbing fingers over his shorn head.
“Nothing, just.” He shrugged again. “Weird thoughts.”
Despite living in the cold bowels of the castle, Rodney almost always woke up with his blankets kicked off, limbs sprawled wide, a thin sheen of sweat covering his entire body. He wasn’t sure why. If it was from dreams, Rodney never remembered them.
He was usually the last to wake up, too, and Radek shouted from across the room, “You are going to be late.”
Rodney groaned and groped for his wand. “Whoever invented morning classes should be mortally wounded with a spoon.”
Stackhouse grunted in agreement, slowly pulling on his boots, eyes still sleep-swollen and half closed. Markham was fully dressed, draped over the foot of Stackhouse’s bed, arms wide, dozing. Rodney’s cat, Marmalade, an orange tabby with short whiskers and a crooked tail, was perched on his chest.
“If you do not hurry, there will be no time for pancakes,” Radek stated, giving them a hard stare over the rims of his glasses, “and I will make you all pay.”
The stare was effective enough to get Stackhouse and Markham moving, and the mention of pancakes managed to bolster Rodney out of bed and into his robes, book-heavy satchel draped over his shoulder. He’d learned how to spell it light years ago, thank god, or he’d have surely been a hunchback by then.
Cadman and Bates were waiting impatiently at the bottom of the steps, and Rodney snapped, “Why the hell is breakfast always a group effort?” but without much heat. He didn’t really have the energy for proper scoldings before his first cup of coffee. Bleary-eyed glares were usually the best he could do until after ten.
In the Great Hall, the Gryffindors were ridiculously wound up. Rodney wondered absently about it for a second, got distracted by a donut, and then Cadman started blathering on about Carson and uniforms and Rodney thought, Oh, right. Quidditch. First game of the year.
Rodney was torn between the novelty of having a Friday afternoon free of classes and the obvious monumental waste of time.
Opposite him, Radek eyed him curiously. “So. How was last night?”
Rodney swallowed a bit of eggs and grinned smugly. “Good. Perfect. I’ve got the book, so now it’s just a matter of reshaping the courtyard.” They couldn’t actually destroy the webbing of magic, since anyone with half a brain knew that something that drastic would instantly alert either the Headmistress or Professor Weasley.
Bates gave a warning growl, and Rodney glanced up to see a jittery young Gryffindor approaching their table, black hair slicked back in a high ponytail, small fingers twisting the front of her robe. He thought he’d heard Sheppard address her as Miko before, but he wasn’t sure, nor did he really care. He tended to just call her, “You,” and occasionally, “Jojo the dancing monkey” - although that one often made her cry, and a sobbing, wet Gryffindor was possibly worse than an un-cowed Hufflepuff. She had a relatively good brain, though, and was excellent at following directions, so he shot Bates a ‘back off’ glare before scowling up at her. Well, sort of over at her, actually, since she was also very, very tiny, despite being a fourth year – and he only knew that, of course, because he refused to let anyone younger work on his pet experiments.
“Jojo,” he said sharply, and her lower lip only quivered a very little bit – honestly, it was high time she just got used to his abrasiveness; it wasn’t as if it was personal – “what have you got for me today?”
“Um,” she pushed her glasses up her snub nose and drew a scroll out of her robes, unrolling it so slowly that Rodney snapped his fingers impatiently in a hurry-up motion. She cleared her throat. “Um, well. It turned blue.”
Rodney stared at her. “Blue.”
“Blue, when it was completely impossible for it to turn blue, unless you added bezoar, which I clearly stated would ruin the whole potion.” He snatched the parchment out of her hands, skimming through the cataloged step-by-step results.
She blinked. “I don’t recal—”
“Of course you don’t. Why would you?” he snarled. “It was only written in large bold print, but I’ve obviously misjudged your level of reading comprehension, and what do you mean ‘we?’” He eyed her suspiciously. Rodney’s forays in spell reform, efficiency, and potion effectiveness versus potion effects were not common knowledge. Well, not common knowledge in the way that everyone knew about them, but nobody said anything. And, also, his minions did not share projects without his express permission.
The girl actually blushed. “The third step was giving me trouble, the numbers weren’t adding up, and Calvin was on his way back from—”
“Calvin?” Rodney cut in, incredulous. “Calvin Kavanagh? You let that imbecile near my—oh. Oh god. I feel dirty. Did he touch this?” He dropped the curving parchment onto the tabletop and leaned away, disgusted sneer on this face. “I can feel my genius being sucked out through my pores.”
“Calm down, Rodney,” Radek said, rolling his eyes. “You cannot catch his stupidity, remember?”
“I remember,” Rodney stressed, gaze still narrowed on the offending paper, “but that doesn’t mean I should take unnecessary risks, does it?” Rodney had been constantly surprised by magic his entire life. There was always something new to learn, some variant making itself known for the first time, some mutation or bastardization of a magical thread that no one had seen before. He’d learned early on how to manipulate the world around him, how to create and destroy in his own sort of shorthand, but that only meant he was even more aware of all the possible ways magic could go wrong. And not just dark magic, which was a common misconception. All magic; elemental, ancient, hybrid, light, dark. All of it was just an accident waiting to happen.
“You,” he growled at Miko. “Take this and disappear.” He palmed his wand and set about scourgifying the wooden surface and his left hand. “I swear, they’re getting more incompetent each year.”
“I do not see how,” Radek said, “with your sweet disposition.”
“Like you’re one to talk,” Rodney scoffed. “Half the first year Ravenclaws are terrified you’ll eat them.”
Radek shrugged. “You made a Hufflepuff wet his pants last term.”
Rodney grimaced. “God, don’t remind me. Not my best moment. Or his.”
“You’re both kinda scary,” Cadman put in cheerfully, and not for the first time, Rodney really wondered what she was doing in Slytherin. Although she was really good at explosive spells and bugging the crap out of him, and could exercise a sharp, sarcastic wit when she actually put some effort into it. He figured that might’ve been enough for the Sorting Hat. If she hadn’t been placed under it before him, he would’ve suspected that she’d asked for Slytherin, just to be as gratingly close to him as possible.
Bates growled again, but it was slightly belated, and Rodney felt a heavy hand fall on his shoulder.
“McKay,” Sheppard said from behind him, all polite and sharp. “Can I have a word?”
“I’m eating,” Rodney groused, tearing apart a piece of biscuit. The Gryffindor’s grip tightened and Rodney gave a pained yelp. “Fine, all right, let go, you savage!”
Sheppard backed up, hands at his sides and a stiff, not at all nice grin on his face.
Rodney huffed and got to his feet, straightening out his robes before arching a questioning brow.
“Over here,” Sheppard said, and crooked a finger for him to follow.
Sometimes, he suspected Sheppard merely tolerated him. Rodney inspired a large amount of fear and hate, an occasional bout of misplaced hero-worship, but not many people bothered to tolerate him. It was entirely too passive-aggressive an approach to his larger-than-life personality. He genuinely liked Sheppard, though, so he waded through their odd friendship and pathetically lived for the times when he could make the other boy smile.
He was afraid he was obvious, but Cadman and Radek were the only ones who ever dared to call him on it.
Sheppard crossed his arms over his chest once they stepped out of the Hall, and Rodney straightened up to his full height, thankful he was at least as tall as the other boy.
“You made Miko cry,” the Gryffindor said.
“She made an incredibly moronic mistake that’ll set me back weeks. Well, probably not weeks,” Rodney amended. “Weeks for anyone else, yes, but if I work through it myself, I should be able to—”
“McKay,” Sheppard drawled, and his entire stance was one long, lean warning. How he did that while wearing billowing robes, Rodney didn’t have a clue.
“She’s overly sensitive,” Rodney protested. “I didn’t set out to make her cry. It just happened!”
“I don’t care. You’re gonna have to apologize.”
“Apolo—oh, you have got to be kidding me.” Rodney McKay didn’t apologize. Everyone would say he’d gone soft. Hufflepuffs would start trying to have conversations with him. It would be pure anarchy.
Sheppard just stared at him, hazel eyes hard. He was ridiculously stubborn about the strangest things.
“Oh, fine. But if Ford approaches me without you—”
“You’ll be civil and mannerly,” Sheppard finished for him.
Rodney glared and the Gryffindor finally broke out into a loose grin, unhooking his arms and sliding one over the stiff set of Rodney’s shoulders. He urged him around and back into the Hall, and Rodney’s lips twisted sourly for show, since the weight of Sheppard against him always made him slightly giddy.
“You’ll be at the game later, right?” Sheppard asked, tone playful.
Rodney sniffed. “If I have nothing better to do.”
Rodney was not good on a broom. He could fly, passably, but he never liked the speeds or, god, the heights, and he watched the Quidditch game with only minimal interest. Cadman had dragged him there so she could drool over Carson – who was the Hufflepuff Keeper and always looked completely terrified up by the rings. He was all right when he put his mind to it, though, and it was Hufflepuff. There weren’t a lot of star athletes to choose from. Rodney half suspected Cadman had bullied the Scottish boy into it.
He slanted a glance at the girl, then froze. “Have you no shame?”
She grinned at him unrepentantly, yellow and black scarf wrapped around her throat.
“You’re an embarrassment to Slytherin,” he snapped.
Cadman laughed. “Like you don’t have that red and gold ribbon John gave you in your pocket,” she needled, diving for his robes.
Rodney squirmed away, batting at her hands. “Off, off, are you insane? Stupid question. Of course you’re crazy. You’re dating a Huffle—hey! Hands in inappropriate places! Stop groping me, woman!” he screeched.
Flushed and triumphant, she held up the ‘Gryffindors are #1’ ribbon Sheppard had jokingly pinned to Rodney’s chest after a random win the term before.
“I hate you,” Rodney grumbled, snatching it back from her and hastily stuffing it into his robes.
She punched his arm. “Nah, you love me.”
Chuck, the lone Ravenclaw among the Slytherins, whispered out of the side of his mouth, “Elizabeth’s giving me the evil eye again.”
Elizabeth was all for the integration of students so long as it didn’t affect her own House unity. Rodney waved at her with an overly pleasant smile.
They had an understanding of a sort about Chuck, though, who was excellent at research, and didn’t annoy him too much. In return for his use, Rodney made sure Elizabeth stayed in good standing with the Slytherin Underground – although, honestly, he didn’t have to do much of anything. Radek was, and had been for years, completely infatuated with the seventh year Ravenclaw.
Rodney normally didn’t like Ravenclaws, either – well, he normally didn’t like most people, but that had less to do with Houses and more to do with intense stupidity. Some Houses just seemed to breed more idiots than others and, in Rodney’s experience, an ability to recall verbatim almost everything they’ve read did not spell genius. Ravenclaws were not automatically smart. They simply had no lives - but he made an exception for his fellow Canadian, and graciously allowed Chuck to socialize with him outside his potions lab.
“Your boy’s in fine form today,” Cadman commented airily, knocking his elbow and looking an inch away from wink-winking suggestively.
Rodney scowled at her. She had no tact whatsoever. Rodney really couldn’t claim much himself, of course, but his predilection towards bluntness was clearly on purpose, and aimed at persons who were too stupid to live. He glanced out across the pitch, though, eyes drawn to Sheppard involuntarily. He did look good, but then Rodney hadn’t expected him not to. He was arguably the best Chaser at Hogwarts, and Gryffindor had won the House Cup nearly every year since he’d been on the team.
A feint, and Rodney’s breath hitched as Sheppard’s broom spun, barreling towards the Hufflepuff stands at a blinding speed before righting himself and driving upwards, Quaffle tucked neatly under his arm, grin cocksure and self-satisfied. “He’s reckless,” Rodney griped, nose wrinkled.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Cadman countered, a sigh in her voice.
Everyone hooted and cheered and stomped as Sheppard tossed the Quaffle past Carson and through the center hoop.
Sheppard was universally loved. He was the fond son of every professor, no matter how much he slacked off, and none of his fellow students, not even the Slytherins, could muster up any resentment over it. He was John Sheppard. He just had to flash his wide, effacing grin, go, “Awww, shucks,” and everyone fell all over themselves to please him, Rodney included. Though he made sure to front a grudging air.
Predictably with Gryffindor/Hufflepuff matches, the game went fairly quickly after the first goal, and it took less than an hour for Lorne to hunt down the Snitch, snatching it out of the air right in front of Parrish’s nose. They were hovering by the Slytherin stands, and Rodney watched bemusedly as Parrish blinked, mouth agape, Lorne’s grin of triumph turning up wickedly at the corners, but any words said between the two Seekers were drowned out by the raucous cheers.
Sheppard zipped by on his broom, a ham for the crowd, before pulling up in the middle of the field and executing a perfect tumbling dismount that oozed right into a saunter as he made his way towards the locker rooms. Rodney just shook his head.
“That’s so cute,” Cadman needled, hooking an arm through his as they got to their feet. “He was showing off for you.”
“Stop it,” Rodney hissed, trying unsuccessfully to shake off her grip. She was like a Crup with a bone.
Radek chuckled, turning from his position in front of them, flapping a hand through the air. “Please. You are in love. It is special, and should be treasured.”
“Oh, ha ha,” Rodney ground out, then muttered, “Painful, horrible deaths,” low and venomous.
Cadman just leaned into his side as they started down the steps. “You’re so sweet, McKay. I can’t imagine why John hasn’t lured you up to the Astronomy Tower yet.”
“The Astron—? What?” Rodney jerked back, eyes wide. Sheppard was...was... doing things? In the Astronomy Tower? Although, really, it shouldn’t have surprised him. The boy flirted with anything that moved, and Rodney’d even accidentally witnessed a few horrifying encounters with inanimate objects that absolutely had not turned him on. At all.
Cocking her head, Cadman gave him a fond pat on the back of his hand. “Rodney, you can’t think John’s sitting around celibate, can you?” Her tone was mockingly sympathetic, but the underlying message was undeniably true. Then her face sort of twisted into her own brand of sincere, taking pity on Rodney’s distress, and she said, “Look, all you have to do is tell him.”
Rodney snorted. “Yes, of course, that’s it. Tell him. Why didn’t I think of that before?” He snapped his fingers. “Oh, that’s right, because it’s comparable to suicide.”
“You are being overly dramatic.” Radek sounded highly amused.
“I’m being realistic,” Rodney countered morosely, then immediately brightened when he caught sight of the Charms professor they’d formally met that morning; the Woman, the one who insisted everyone call her Han even though no one actually had the nerve to, the most beautiful blonde ever to grace Hogwarts’ halls – barring one Samantha Carter, of course, who’d been a sixth year when Rodney’d first started, had a dizzying grasp of magical theory and practical Arithmancy, and would’ve been the first girl to ever break his heart if she’d bothered to let him anywhere near her. “Professor Abbott!” he called out, waving his free hand.
Cadman hissed in his ear, “You realize she was in Hufflepuff, right?”
“That’s a vicious lie,” Rodney growled out of the side of his mouth, then bounced on his feet and grinned up at the professor when they drew close.
“Laura, Rodney.” Her cheeks were rosy from the wind or the excitement, hair pulled messily out of the combs above her ears, and she nodded at them, smiling. Then she added, “And Radek and Charles, too,” grin expanding to encompass all four of them. “Enjoy the game? Haven’t been to one myself in ages, least not at Hogwarts. Hufflepuff put in a good showing, don’t you think?”
Cadman jostled Rodney and crowed sotto voce, “Told you.”
Rodney mouthed a, “Proves nothing,” back at her, then cleared his throat. She couldn’t have been in Hufflepuff. She’d remembered all their names, just from that day alone, and at the very least that suggested Ravenclaw. “Professor, there’s a potion I’ve been meaning to try that involves the Impervium charm, and I wonder if you could—”
“Rodney, it’s Friday afternoon. Go,” she laughed, waving a hand, “do something fun, will you? Charms can wait ‘til Monday.”
Right. Well, definitely not Ravenclaw, then.
“Must be off,” she said cheerily, tugging on a shank of hair that the breeze had spilled over her forehead, twisting it up before stuffing it back behind a comb. “Try not to get into too much trouble,” she chastened, eyes twinkling. “I’ve heard about you four.”
She practically danced off, waving greetings to smiling students and bemused faculty.
Cadman just stared at him expectantly.
“Hell,” he said finally with a slight shrug. “She’s still gorgeous.”
Rodney’s lab was actually just a supply closet off a dead-end corridor in the dungeons that he’d spelled big, and a non-Hogsmeade Saturday afternoon meant that it’d be brimming with minions diligently working under his command.
Parrish, though, was fidgeting just outside the door, Lorne lounging next to him, one hand palmed against the wall by the Hufflepuff’s shoulder.
“If you’re done flirting, David,” Rodney snapped as he strode past, elbowing him out of the way. He hated using Hufflepuffs, but Parrish and Brown were surprisingly adept at Herbology, and Rodney’d rather explain Static Arithmancy to a bunch of first years using sock puppets than work with plants. Carson was usually useful, too, when he wasn’t droning on about the latest breakthroughs in Healing.
Turning around, Rodney held the door open pointedly for Parrish, who was blushing disgustingly, and glared at Lorne until the boy flipped him off and stalked away.
“That wasn’t very nice,” Parrish said, but he hustled inside the lab.
Rodney rolled his eyes. “Moon on your own time. Right now, I need you to work with Jojo and fix whatever Kavanagh did to her brain. Hopefully it isn’t irreparable.”
“You mean Miko?” Parrish asked.
“Yes, yes, the short, teary-eyed girl in the corner over there,” Rodney pointed to where the girl was hunched over an open book, a caldron and three beakers of liquid in front of her. “You,” he called out, and she whipped her head up, almond shaped eyes startled behind her huge glasses, “I apologize for making you cry yesterday morning, but in the future please try to avoid being an idiot. I realize that’s a lot to ask for, though, so I’ve decided to implement a buddy system.”
Clapping his hands once, he cleared his throat to gain everyone’s attention. “All of you turn to your left,” he said loudly. Then, “Well, not everyone. Every other one.” At their blank stares, he snapped, “Oh, for god’s sake, just pair up! The person you see in front of you? That is your buddy. You will not do anything without first having your buddy check your legwork. If you have a question on any part of your experiment, you will ask your buddy, and if further explanation is required, you may come to me. You will not, under any circumstances, discuss your projects with someone who has not been handpicked by me, and thus shows promise beyond the mild retardation this school seems foster. Understand?”
Corrigan snickered and ducked behind Simpson, but nodded dutifully when Rodney turned a glare on him.
“All right. Back to work. Jojo, you’ll be working with Parrish.”
“But, Rodney,” Katie piped up, dirt-caked fingers smudging her jaw, “what about—”
“Carson’s asked for you. He needs an extra pair of gardening shears this week,” he cut off her complaint. “Meet him in Greenhouse three in a half hour.”
Finally settling at his workbench, he pulled out a clean piece of parchment and the book he’d taken from the library Thursday night. He’d only just cracked it open when an imperious voice said from the doorway, “Rodney.”
With a weary sigh, Rodney waved Elizabeth into the lab. “Yes?”
She arched an eyebrow. “May I ask why I found this,” she strode forward and dropped a folio of parchment onto his table, “in Daniel’s possession?”
He paged through the papers distractedly. “I had him working on piecing together what was visible on the stone slab. He seemed eager enough to work on the epitaph.”
“This wasn’t authorized.”
“Elizabeth,” Rodney said with more patience than usual, because he truly respected the girl and her commanding grip on the Ravenclaw House, “he’s in his seventh year, and completely capable of saying no. If you don’t want him working with me on this, then you’re going to have to tell him yourself. Bryce,” he shouted across the room, “buddies, not threesomes.” He flashed Daniel’s work. “Read this over, see if you can make sense of Jackson’s notes. Work with him on forming a cohesive outline of relevant information. This is all gibberish and shorthand. Was there anything else?” he asked Elizabeth.
She tapped the table with her wand. “I’d like a report on his findings, please. I’m interested in knowing about the stone as well.”
Rodney flapped a hand. “Fine, yes, will you go away now?”
Elizabeth’s mouth quirked up in wry amusement. “I’ll just let Daniel know you have his work, then?”
Humming, Rodney took up his quill and made busy, busy, busy motions and ignored the Ravenclaw until she left. Honestly, it was a miracle he ever got anything done. Well, actually, it really wasn’t. Interruptions aside, he was easily the smartest Wizard in the school - and probably the smartest Wizard in the world, but he’d decided to wait to declare that until he’d left Hogwarts, so he’d seem less presumptuous.
Lost in work, Rodney didn’t know how much time had gone by or at what point Marmalade had hopped up onto the chair beside him to make a nest on his discarded robes, but he jerked his head up at her hissed growl to see Sheppard standing in the doorway, looking ridiculously hot, messy hair going in every direction and lips pulled down in a small scowl, narrowed hazel eyes locked on Marm. The two of them hated each other, and Rodney found it close to hilarious, since every other thing, living and not, adored the Gryffindor.
“Your cat is plotting my death,” Sheppard muttered, keeping one eye on the tabby as he sidled up on the other side of Rodney.
“She’s simply doing her master’s bidding,” Rodney quipped, chin tilted up, and Sheppard watched him with amusement.
“Right, Rodney,” he drawled, then slumped against the table, scanning the room. “You know, I still have no idea how you get all these guys to help you out here of their own free will.”
“The key is to grab them while they’re young,” Rodney returned, going back to his notes, “and don’t know any better. Plus, they all want to ride on the coattails of my fame. Was there an actual reason for this visit, or are you just here to bug me?”
Sheppard shrugged. “Just bored.”
“I could give you an assignment,” Rodney asked, hopeful.
“It’s Saturday, McKay,” he pointed out, idly playing with an extra quill.
Rodney scoffed. “Oh, come on, numbers make you salivate. I’ll let you work on the Arithmancy problem Lindsay was having trouble with. It involves coefficients and four different static theories,” he tempted, as if wagging a delicious treat in front of his nose, then went on in a singsong voice, “Bagglevarger’s Theory of Inversive Magic.”
Rodney could tell Sheppard was fighting to visibly maintain his cool.
“Well,” he said with forced nonchalance, “I guess I could glance over it.”
There were exactly two chapters in Hogwarts: A History, fifth edition, devoted to Harry Potter, and most of it was rot. The four paragraphs waxing poetically about the final battle, for instance, were completely false.
Well, maybe not completely false. The bit about Weasley and Draco and the blue light really happened, if not in the precise terms put to paper. Millicent, authoress of said paragraphs, would know. She’d been there, of course.
The four paragraphs, full of glowing praise and vague images of valor, were written precisely because it was what Wizards and Witches had wanted to read: Potter standing alone in the courtyard, bloodied and dirt-smeared, chest heaving with exertion. You Know Who - even after and even present, most people, idiots, couldn’t read the name Voldemort without unpleasant, fearful shivers - backed by his fiercest generals, wands at the ready for the boy-Wizard - who wasn’t even a boy then, or ever, but nearly topping twenty-one - the elders Malfoy and Crabbe and Goyle, Macnair and Bellatrix with her coal black eyes.
There were youngers there, too, of course, but not in the words Millie wrote. In the story, Greg and Vincent were spies for the Light, and Blaise was in love with a bushy-haired Muggle-born who’d spun his beliefs neatly upside-down. They were her friends, after all, her Hogwarts family, and the world was only ever black and white, right and wrong, for mule-headed Gryffindors.
In the end, Potter’s sheer love and goodness and strength destroyed the last cavalcade of Death Eaters. In the end, Harry Potter wasn’t just a boy.
And no, before the Second War, Millie wouldn’t have catered to Potter’s simpering public - she’d known the boy, the man, at last, as mates in the seedy House of Black, the War Room for The Order, and at one point even Draco had grudgingly admitted to a mocking fondness for Potter’s clumsy wit and extreme anger issues with his saintly reputation – but the War had nearly broken everyone, on all sides, effects rippling out so far even Muggles were rumored to have felt it, an ache in their bones, and the threads pulling the world out of the rubble were all hopes and dreams and love for one pure-hearted Wizard; the horrific truths from the front line would’ve only made it buckle.
No one wanted to be a hero. Unfortunately, Potter had been born to it - some said for it – and Millie took full advantage of that in recording the final scene.
It was over ten years past, though, and Millie had been cold sober for nearly five.
Mal bit into a sandwich and mangled, “Now what?” through his chewing.
Millie rolled her eyes. “We wait for the others.” They were in the back of the new Three Broomsticks, which looked exactly like the old Three Broomsticks, except it was four and a half meters further to the left. All of Hogsmeade, actually, was four and half meters further to the left. Aberforth Dumbledore, who’d overseen the rebuilding of the small town, said he’d always thought before that everything had been just slightly off center.
Specifically, Malcolm and Millie were waiting for Abbott and Longbottom, since the Ravenclaw contingent of their little group was incorporeal and bound to the castle grounds. Abbott had taken the position as temporary Charms professor for the express purpose of keeping in contact with him, since all four of them invading Hogwarts at once would’ve been met with no small amount of suspicion. They could’ve sent Mal, of course, with his oldest, Myra, just starting – a Gryffindor, no less, but that’s what came of marrying a decorated War Auror, Millicent supposed – but Mal and Boot had never really gotten along.
Abbott, on the other hand, was friendly with pretty much everyone. Boot, especially. When he’d fallen, Millie had watched her visibly break, just for a moment, her eyes cutting dark and empty, her face a pale wash so fleeting that Millie had blinked and it’d been gone, replaced with more resolve and fire than she’d ever seen in her before. They’d had a war to win and a Dark Lord to kill, and there’d be decades afterwards to mourn all they’d lost.
Suddenly, the floo flared bright and spat out a mussed Wizard in dark robes, harried eyes seeking until they spotted Millie and Mal in the corner.
“Sorry,” Longbottom murmured, rushing towards them. “Small problem with my blooming nettles, needed to get them in before the storm or they’d have been useless and you don’t care, do you?” He grinned at them nervously, sliding into the seat next to Mal, and Millie was struck by how much he looked exactly the same: long-toothed smile, plump, flushed face, large ears poking out behind mussed shag curls.
“Abbott’s not here yet,” Mal said, taking a gulp of his butterbeer.
“Oh.” Longbottom smoothed his hands on the scarred tabletop, fingers twitching. “Right, good.” His gaze darted about the room, and he pressed his lips together, folding them in and over his teeth. Then he let out a puff of air and breathed, “Listen, did Harry—”
“Oh yeah,” Mal cut in, nodding, jabbing a crisp at him. “Scared the hell out of me. I mean, he isn’t very... ghostly, is he?”
“That’s because he’s not one.” A heavy book thumped down on the table and all three of them glanced up to see a grinning, grubby-looking Hannah Abbott. “Ready to get started?”
On to Part Two