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Title: Between Here and Now and Forever
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: The Founders, various OCs
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Clio strikes, and other crises.

Chapter 1
Master Founders Post
Chapter 25

The walking treehouse had reached water halfway through supper, and, although Helga and Sindri had had to excuse themselves briefly to get it to start swimming, it was a much smoother ride from there on out, at least physically. Rowena had had a decent night, for once, and even if conversation was awkward between Helga and her stupid useless father and her boring evil half-sister, she was so glad Helga was there, and Godric was alive, and Ari was out of that place, that she had had a good time anyway.

But that night in the Aura barracks, where they had all gone to bed, Rowena couldn't sleep. She kept thinking about what she'd said to her mother, and about how powerfully she'd meant it, and then she thought about what was going to happen when they got back to the castle. Lord Salazar would be angry, and Helga... well, hopefully there was still a way to put some sort of spin on this and blame Rowena for any attempted assassinations. That way, at the very least, if Lady Aeaeae made a fuss about it, she'd look like a hypocrite.

This struck her as amusing, and she stifled the giggling badly. She began to cry again, and that was easier to do silently. Considering the snoring she could hear from the others, nobody was awake to hear at any rate. She closed her eyes and tried to sleep.

But then she heard someone hiss "Stupefy!" from where Helga's father was sleeping, and she froze. It was a good spell to use on people who were already asleep if you thought you might be making a lot of noise later.

She kept very still, and listened for her life.

A heartbeat where a footstep might be. "Stupefy." That would be Grimhildr, on the other side of the aisle.

Four heartbeats. "Stupefy." Ari. There was nobody across from him.

Three and a half and she felt movement and warmth as though somebody was standing over her, and she grabbed her wand from beneath her pillow and sat up. "Stupefy! Lumos! Petrificus Totalus!"

The only spell that was any use was the Lumos, which showed her Cliodna Sheffield's startled face for a brief instant. She heard a crash as Sheffield backed into Helga's bed and a scream that was probably Helga. She wished now that she hadn't cast the damned Lumos, because for all that her eyes were terrible, she saw well in the dark if she was acclimated to it. Sheffield had run back towards the doorway and Rowena cast one good Severing Charm in her direction, but she could tell she'd missed, because all she heard was a loud slam, then the splintering of the door as her hex ran into it.

She chased after Sheffield, following her into the night. She was barefoot and hardly dressed and it was bloody cold, but because they were so far north, the sun was hovering just over the horizon disinteredly, casting long shadows. "Sheffield, you bitch, get back here and fight!" she snarled. Where was she?

A shadow moved, or possibly Rowena was just having paranoid hallucinations. She sent a Stinging Hex at it anyway, and was gratified when she heard a gasp of pain. Sheffield limped out of the shadow, looking rather the worse for wear, and Rowena raised her wand to disarm Sheffield. "You're going to kill me, are you?" she asked. "I don't think so. Expelliarmus!"

Rowena realized her mistake a split second later, as Sheffield's wand and her sword came flying straight at her face.

"Protego!" shouted Helga from behind her, and both wand and sword clattered to the ground. "What are you doing?" she demanded of Rowena, not taking her eyes off of Sheffield. "Don't go disarming people with blades! That's a good way to lose an eye, or a hand! Or a head."

Sheffield, for her part, had frozen where she stood.

"Well?" Helga demanded.

Sheffield's mouth moved, but no words came out. Finally she said, "I surrender," and put her hands up, limping forward a little more.

"Good," said Helga. "Thank you. Now, we'll see about treating your leg but if you'd... just put your hands together --"

Sheffield did so, and Helga went to tie her wrists together, but Sheffield kicked her in the stomach with the leg she'd been limping with before and ran, perfectly capably, to the stables. Rowena ran to help Helga up. "Are you all right?" she asked.

Helga was swearing, something she did very little of, although apparently she had quite a filthy mouth when she put her mind to it. After a very impressive and detailed description of how Sheffield's father had had relations with a manticore (which Rowena decided to remember for future use), Helga managed to sit up and grab her wand.

Sheffield emerged with a thestral, a great black hulk of leather and bone and shadow, and, climbing onto its back, took to the air as soon as she was in the courtyard.

"Bracchius!" shouted Helga, pointing her wand at the swiftly-escaping Aura. Huge branches emerged from the treehouse to sweep at the thestral and rider, but the blur zoomed downwards to strike at them. "DUCK!" shouted Helga, knocking Rowena over.

Rowena managed to break her fall without breaking her wand. She looked over her shoulder, and saw that Sheffield had managed to grab her sword in the first charge. She was coming around for a second, armed charge.

"Protego!" said Rowena quickly, shielding herself and Helga. Sheffield glanced harmlessly away from them, but she readied her wand, presumably for some shield-breaking hex. She began to fly around again -- perhaps her hex needed momentum.

Helga, meanwhile, was concentrating entirely on the branches of the trees. She seemed to be trying to unhorse Sheffield, and Rowena boggled at her. "You're going to kill her if you keep doing that," she said. She squinted at Sheffield again. "The woman's mad," she added, "and I don't say that lightly."

"The woman's under orders to bring us in," said Helga, "and she swore an Unbreakable Oath. I don't think she has much of a choice but to be mad."

"But she couldn't possibly --" Rowena looked up. She screamed and grabbed Helga, because oh gods Sheffield's sword was glowing and she was coming right at them. "Protego protego pro-fucking-tego!" she shouted. It wasn't working, Sheffield's blade was far too close, and then a giant tree branch came out of bloody nowhere and swept her clean away. It had smelled like turpentine and the sea, and it had nearly swept Rowena's wand away too.

Rowena watched in terrified silence as the horse and its rider became a dark speck against the sky once again. Or perhaps two specks. It was hard to tell. She began to breathe again, and released Helga. "Gods," she said. "I hope she's all right."

Helga stared at her, looking absolutely exhausted and a bit gobsmacked. "Why would you hope that?" she demanded.

"Well. You don't want to kill anybody," said Rowena, trying to be reasonable.

There were heavy footsteps from behind them, and Godric emerged from the main building, looking off-balance and muzzy. He had left the meal first, having managed to stuff himself with immense quantities of food only to wander off to the Council Chief's quarters, which had a bed he almost fit into. "Everything all right?" he asked, rubbing his eyes. He looked innocent and sleepy.

"Everything's fine," said Rowena, quickly. Helga had probably just killed the woman he was misguidedly fond of, and gods, she could not handle Godric's reaction to that tonight. "I was just, er, sleepwalking," she said. "Helga saved my life!" That much, at least, was true.

"She was about to walk out of the treehouse," said Helga, sounding terrifyingly believable. "Can you imagine?"

"Oh god," said Godric, horrified. "That would've been awful. No wonder you were shouting so much." He shuddered. "I'm going back to sleep. Wake me up in a few days, all right?"

He left, and Rowena looked at Helga, despairingly. "What are we going to tell him?" she whispered.

"Nothing," said Helga, shrugging.

"But he really liked her," said Rowena. "I don't know why, but... but he should know," she said.

"Well, then, the less he knows, the better," said Helga, gently. "Maybe that nice selkie girl in Wyke will still be there. And I'm going back to bed too, I'm exhausted." She turned and walked back inside.

Rowena didn't end up getting any sleep that night. She lay awake, wondering how to tell her favorite rival about what her best friend had done to her archnemesis. Life was complicated sometimes.

* * *


When Godric awoke the next morning, he knew it was going to be a brilliant day. The sun was up, the air smelled like the sea, and he had had a decent night's sleep.

He emerged from the big bedroom, rubbing his eyes sleepily. He hurt all over, but it was kind of a good ache. An uncharacteristically sunny little voice in his head said Godric, you have just survived worse things than most people have ever gone through! God willing, it will never happen again. Go and greet the day!

He wanted very much to listen to the voice, so he wandered into the hall, expecting a cheerful atmosphere. Instead, everyone but Ari was gathered very worriedly along the long table, looking over a diagram, which Helga seemed to be explaining.

"Godric!" she said. "Thank goodness you're awake!"

"...Yeah," said Godric, with an uncertain smile on his face. Your friends love you! What a lovely morning this is, said the voice. The rest of Godric said You're new here, aren't you? His smile faltered, then fell completely. "What do you want me to do?" he sighed.

"Well, the thing is, we're sort of... sinking," said Helga, grimacing. "I sent Ari to check for leaks but we're working on a solution now."

"Oh. Is that all?" Godric asked, relieved. "I thought it was something serious, like the Aurae had caught up to us."

"How could you possibly help us with that?" Rowena asked, frowning at him.

Godric shrugged. "Really, I don't know. It was just the worst thing I could think of happening."

"Worse than sinking?" asked Grimhildr.

"Well, let's see what's wrong with the ship... treehouse thing," said Godric. "May I?" he asked, gesturing at the diagram.

Helga shrugged and gave it to him. "I can't do anything about it now," she said. "The trees are dying, and I can't control them very well anymore, so I think we're going to need some transfig, and Sind-- er. My father hasn't got very far with it." She looked worriedly at Sindri, who was marking up his own copy of the diagram at the other end of the table, out of earshot.

Godric frowned at the diagram. "Hmm. Well. I don't really know how to make it more floaty," he said. "But it's not sinking fast, right?"

"Probably it'll take a few days," she said, "but we also can't steer well anymore, so..."

"But we have supplies," said Godric, calmly. "Worst case scenario, you lot fly the thestrals off to the nearest land and work something out to get me out, right?"

Helga and Rowena exchanged a meaningful look.

"...What?" Godric asked. "The thestrals. There were two of them in the stables when we stole this place. Don't tell me you didn't see them, I know you did. Or am I mad?"

"The, er, the Aura took them with her," said Rowena, awkwardly. "Maelys, I mean, you know, the one we locked up. Not any other Aura."

"How'd she get out? Oh no," said Godric, realizing suddenly what this meant. "We're lucky she didn't kill us in our sleep! They probably know where we are now. I mean, it was sort of obvious but and now we can't get away and but then I." Godric looked at the diagram. "...All right. We should... fix this. I'll try to be clever. Or we're all going to die."

"No pressure," said Helga, cheerlessly.

He sat down at the table, moaning quietly to himself. "If I just... jumped off into the sea, would the decrease in our weight allow the rest of you to make it to land, do you think?"

"Doubtful," said Rowena. Now that he really looked at her, she looked awful -- like she had been up all night crying. She'd seemed happy last night -- friendly, and delighted he was alive, even -- but Godric supposed everything that had happened yesterday must have hit her hard. Poor Rowena. "You're more useful here," she said, with a tired, brittle sort of chirpiness. "I was thinking possibly we could make a sort of boat out of the wood from the trees. Do you think you can manage that?" she asked.

"I think we could do it, yes," said Godric. "We've got plenty of materials, right, Helga? The wood, I mean, the trees are still underneath the tower?"

Helga nodded. "They're still here, just dying fast. I think it's the saltwater."

"Oh good," said Godric. "The main problem, then, is... well. I don't know how to build a ship. I hope... er... your dad knows --"

"I know," said Grimhildr, rolling her eyes. "My mother builds ships, and sometimes she makes me help. Or she did when I lived with her. Father's really only good at theory, he's no good at applied magic." Her words had the sound of an argument someone had repeated so often she believed it.

"Or that could work too," said Godric, relieved. Helga had always made it very clear that her father, for his own health, had better be dead, so having him along for the trip was weird and unpleasant. On the other hand, Godric was fairly comfortable with sullen, maladjusted teenagers. "What sort of information do you need to come up with a design?"

"It will be a very rough design," said Grimhildr. "I mean, I've never actually... well. I think first off I should know how much wood we have, and then how heavy this place is --"

"We can get rid of bits of it," said Rowena quickly. "I mean, the stone and all is probably a bit heavy, and the armory, and, well...." She sighed. "Sindri was supposed to be working out where we are, and if we know that we can work out where we'll probably maybe land, eventually, and how long it'll take us to get there, so once I know that I can tell you how much food we'll need. Tell us what sort of weight you can carry with the materials we have and I'll work towards cutting down on the actual materials here. Then Godric can transfigure the wood and hopefully we'll be on our way," she finished, brightly.

"Sounds good," said Helga.

Godric, however, was still worried about Rowena. He hadn't been insulted once today, and he'd been awake for at least ten minutes. Even if yesterday had been awful, it wasn't like her. "That works," he said, shrugging. "So, er, Helga, tell Grimhildr about her supplies, and I suppose then we'll ask Sindri where we are. Listen, Rowena, can I talk to you about the charms work I think we might need?" he asked, drawing her away from the table.

"...What charms?" she asked, following him. She looked confused. "I've been working on a waterproof air bubble, but I don't think that will --"

"Rowena," he said, keeping his voice low. "Is everything all right? You look awful."

"Oh, thanks," muttered Rowena.

Godric sighed. "I didn't mean -- I just -- you look unusually tired, is all, and sort of -- well -- you haven't even been insulting me," he said. "That's not normal!"

"I'm fine," she sighed. "I just... I said some really stupid things to my mum when she was interrogating me, and -- look, you could have died, that's all, and you were very..." She looked as though she was struggling to admit something shameful. "You were nice to me when we were stuck together, so... I thought I ought to try and be less terrible."

"Oh. Is that all? It's really unnerving," said Godric. "I mean, if I'd been through what you have, I'd be upset too, but usually when you're under stress you get sort of ...well, awful."

"That's all the thanks I get?" Rowena asked. "I'm making an effort here! You've said at least ten things I could make a cheap joke about, and I've been resisting. Nobly. Like a good person."

"Well, you are a good person," Godric pointed out. "You're just very unpleasant about it. Anyway," he said, "I don't see why you should be dwelling on nearly getting me killed. I mean, your mum would be so proud if she knew the degree to which you've nearly caused me permanent harm or death."

She blinked at him, and then she started laughing. "She probably wouldn't, you know, I never succeed in actually harming you. She always said I would never be a success."

"Well, you're probably not trying hard enough," said Godric, lightly. "You're descended from gods, kings, and heroes, you ought to act like it! Shape up!"

She giggled. "Did she actually say that? She did, didn't she? Oh gods, Mum. She's so embarrassing." But she seemed much more cheerful, and Godric was glad to have done that much.

"At any rate," he said, "I suppose we'd better talk to Helga's dad about the navigation. ...Is this really weird for you too?" he asked. "I mean. Helga's dad."

"Gods, yes," she said, sounding relieved to discuss it. "I always wanted to hurt him a little, you know, for doing that to my best friend. I hoped he was dead for Helga's sake, but... he seems sort of pathetic, honestly," she said. "Pathetic and horrible."

"Well, let's try to get some sense out of him," he sighed. "Maybe we can kick his arse when we get to land."

"Cheerful thought," said Rowena. "I get first dibs."

"Of course!" said Godric. "Ladies first."

To Godric's astonishment, and also (he had to admit) his terror, all the calculations and adjustments and enchantments moved along startlingly quickly -- not surprising, given that it was a sinking treehouse full of magical theoreticians, really -- but they were all going to sink or float based on his spell. The problem was, as far as he could tell it was very likely that the whole thing would go wrong, and, in fact, that he would make it worse. So he was trying not to panic while simultaneously trying to understand what Grimhildr was saying about the ship, and it was all driving him a bit mad.

He realized he'd probably been at the school far too long, actually, because he'd found himself slipping into student lecture mode at Grimhildr. She didn't seem to mind, and was shockingly ignorant as to how Transfiguration worked -- she had seemed to think of it as a hit-or-miss matter of luck rather than something that could be predicted and controlled, like other magic, but she seemed pick things up rather quickly once he'd started explaining at her, and threw herself enthusiastically into helping him work out some of the trickier steps of his spell.

In fact, when Ari had come out of the water, after having descended to make be certain that all six legs of the walker were still attached, he took one look at Grimhildr, who was humming to herself and drawing up a diagram, and asked Godric if he'd transfigured Grimhildr into another person. "Or is it Cheering Charms?" he asked.

Ari was drenched, so Godric handed him his cloak. "She's very clever, I do like how she's set this up -- she has a good head for Transfiguration, it's a pity she never learnt it properly."

"I had noticed she was clever," said Ari. He wrapped Godric's cloak around his shoulders like a blanket. "I am so glad I won't have to marry her now," he said.

Godric blinked. This was the second time Ari had said he was supposed to marry Grimhildr. He knew Ari had been accused of playing the woman's part in bed, and Rowena had once mentioned that she and Ari had similar taste in men. It was not Godric's business exactly what kind of sodomite Ari was, but even if it was to be a marriage of convenience, it seemed most unwise to marry someone who actively hated you. Besides, Grimhildr was common. "Why did you have to marry her?" he asked.

"She is magically powerful, and my father thought to keep that sort of power in the family..." Ari shrugged. "A responsible man marries and has children, for his family's sake. I suppose that makes me irresponsible now." He frowned, and looked out at the sea as if he could see the family he'd left behind even now.

Godric thought of his own family; he had fond memories of his parents from when he was very young, but, well, his father hardly spoke after Mum died. Godric didn't know if he'd left Geoffrey in charge, or if Geoff had just done what needed doing. "I suppose what's responsible depends on the man," he said. "But Grimhildr sort of hates you. Wouldn't that have been a problem?"

"Well," said Ari, "I went out of my way to make her hate me, to be honest. For some time, I thought I was in love with --" He sighed. "With someone else. It would have been impossible, of course," he said. "You know, you could do worse than Grimhildr, and she seems not to hate you. Of course, she is not well-born. But," he said, dismissively, "I suppose neither are you."

Godric looked at Ari in astonishment. "Sorry. I. What?"

"Are you not going to be on the Wizards' Council?" he asked airily.

"What? Oh, that," said Godric, rolling his eyes. "We'll see. What does that have to do with -- with Grimhildr?"

"Well," said Ari, reasonably, "you will need heirs. Certainly they ought to be from a lady either of reasonably noble birth or notable magical power."

"Well. But. I." This had not occurred to Godric. Though he'd always been jealous of the likes of Rowena, with their fine clothes and regular meals and enough money to buy books and candles as well, and though, as he'd told Rowena, he'd wanted a family very much, he was certain that was quite impossible, what with being cursed and giant and monstrous, and also, perhaps even more importantly, being terrified of women and romance. But all this had very little to do with anything. "I. But Grimhildr isn't -- I would never -- she's a kid," he said.

Ari shrugged. "I only thought to offer. And she could do worse than you. You are sensible. And practical. And clever."

Godric shrugged. "Well, I don't know about that," he said. "Anyway, if I do make it onto the Council, Clio might -- she might be -- still interested," he said, although considering all the trouble he was causing her, this seemed highly unlikely.

"The dashing Aurelia Sheffield?" he asked, sounding skeptical. "I think she would make a very poor wife."

"I just meant --" Godric felt himself blushing again. What, was Clio going to be his mistress? Again, this seemed unlikely. "Maybe if Lord Slytherin's plan works out she'll be working for him -- that is how it works, right?" Godric asked. "The Aurae transfer loyalty to the next Chief. ...Of course, by then she'll probably have moved on and I don't even know if she -- I mean, why me, there are plenty of other men and besides I'm really horrible-looking, and she would never want to, you know, so I don't even know what she could even --"

"You are definitely not horrible-looking," Ari snapped. He turned a bit pink. "...Er. You ought to get back to your spell, I should go... do some... er. ... I must speak with Rowena, to see if she needs any help," he said quickly.

"Oh, he gave you his cloak, Ari! So kind of him," said Grimhildr. Godric thought she was being sarcastic.

"Oh, leave me alone," he snapped at her. He pulled the cloak around his shoulders and left in a huff.

"He does like the sensible sort," said Grimhildr. "But they never like him, and I can see why," she said, cheerfully. "I'm so glad I don't have to marry him, he is awful with money. Be careful of that."

"I don't think it'll be an issue," said Godric. "I mean, I'm not going to lend anything to him, because I haven't anything to lend. ...Well, I did give him my cloak, but I don't need it back." He examined her parchment, which had a numbered list of parts of the eventual ship. "Oh dear. How quickly will we sink if I don't do this transfiguration properly, do you think?"

"No idea," said Grimhildr. "I think it would depend on what you do wrong. But if you do it in that order it would be the safest way."

"Are you ready, Godric?" Helga asked.

Godric waved her away, looking at the list. "I think I can manage this." He glanced at Grimhildr's scribbled diagram of the proposed ship, and Helga's original diagram of the treehouse. "Can I switch numbers seven and twelve, though?" he asked her.

"...If you do it very quickly, I think it will work," said Grimhildr.

"Well then, I'll see if I can make it work," said Godric. He realized everyone was staring at him hopefully, and the bottom of his stomach dropped out. "Ah. So," he said, trying to stay calm, although inwardly he was terrified, "I think I've got everything pretty much worked out. Er. But. Possibly not. So everybody... say your goodbyes before I start. Um. This is going to be complicated by the fact that I can't see what I'm changing, so what I'm going to do is --"

"...Are you lecturing at us?" Rowena asked. "Is there going to be an exam?"

"It helps, all right?" Godric snapped. "This is terrifying."

"You'll be all right," said Rowena. She sounded like she meant it. "This is the difference between clever and educated."

"Oh," said Godric, blinking. He was the clever one? She must've meant something else.

"Look at it this way, Godric," said Rowena. "If you do it wrong, no one will be able to yell at you for it."

"Because we'll all die," Godric pointed out.

"I really think I would be able to manage some shouting before I drown," said Sindri, sounding annoyed.

"No one," snapped Rowena, who looked as though she was planning on chucking Sindri off the ship as soon as there was one.

"Yes, well, I suppose I'd better get on with it," said Godric. He ran through everything in his head -- the hull first, of course, which would be made of the trees holding the tower up, and then he'd have to draw the legs of the treehouse through the hull to make up the rest of the ship, which would be the really tricky part, and he'd have to do it fast or they might sink quickly or tip over or something, and then he'd have to get all the rooms of the siege tower into a boat. It wouldn't be a very sturdy ship, he didn't think, but it'd last them to Hull. "I'm going to go out into the courtyard," he said. "You'd all better come outside too, but stay away from me or you might end up in the rigging or something."

He walked out into the courtyard and began measuring things in paces. Then he realized, as he did every time something was measured in paces, that he was just not meant to measure things. He sighed and called Grimhildr over to measure it out for him.

Finally, he thought everything had been worked out, and, more importantly, he had run out of things to do to avoid the transfiguration. So he took a deep breath and began. The method he was using was something he'd developed on his own for big things he couldn't see as he was changing them. He didn't know if it was really good or healthy for him to be doing it, because it took a lot out of him, but, well, he'd see, wouldn't he?

So he took a deep breath, and he went to the edge of the courtyard to look off into the water, and he examined Helga's diagram of the treehouse, and Grimhildr's diagram of the ship once more. Then he thought of himself as the trees.

They felt brittle and incoherent and uncooperative, and the water was cold, cold, cold, and he told them, We're going to change things around here, now just bear with me. That me was the hard thing; he had to be the trees and himself at the same time, but it was no more difficult than being Godric the monster and Fudge the Transfigurator had been, so he concentrated.

The roots bent in towards each other, like fingers interlacing, and they spread themselves into a smooth curve, to better cut through the water, but the hull was still full of water and Godric could feel the waterline creeping upwards, so cold, and so, gritting his teeth, he said, "Rowena, help, what's the -- water in the hold, do the thing with --"

He felt her small hand on his own, and though it shocked him a bit -- he was busy trying to be trees -- it reassured him. "We'll put some in barrels and make it freshwater later," he heard Rowena say, and suddenly the hold was mostly empty, and sinking slowed.

But he -- the ship-he, not Godric-he -- still wasn't the right shape, not yet. The tops of the trees spread out, the supporting logs spread out into a wooden deck, and the siege tower found itself submerged halfway into the deck and made into rooms and hammocks below deck. But the sinking hadn't finished.

Godric himself searched the hull for wounds -- holes, he corrected himself -- and feeling none, he realized the problem was in the stone of the siege tower. At this thought, he stopped being the ship, and snapped back into himself, staggering backwards, away from the new railing. He saw the sea with his human eyes, and it was getting much too close. "Rowena," he said, his voice sounding strange and unplantlike, "Rowena, what's the -- goddamn it, I can't remember -- Transfiguration," he snapped at himself, rubbing his forehead. "Got to get this turpentine out of my skull."

"Are you all right?" Rowena asked, worried.

"I'm not trees," he said. For some reason she didn't appear to find this very reassuring. "The stone! It's too much, I can't -- I can't be stone, I can't turn it into -- I'm trees, I don't have words --it's too much. Dense!"

Her eyes widened. "The stone's too heavy," she said, "and we're sinking, and -- get back to dealing with the ship, I'll take care of it." She frowned at his notes, and began to mutter to herself. "...so that'll be -- oh gods, assuming the worst, one and a bit stones per hand cubed... fifteen hands thick at least -- relative outer radius, shit, got to be at least -- two pi are, thickness, height, oh damn it what's the -- AHA! All right, Godric, I can do this. I'm going to turn it into pumice and jettison the excess stone out there somewhere," she said, waving vaguely backwards. "Ooh, or we could make lifeboats! Or little floating statues!"

By this point, Godric had only just managed to wrap his mind around I'll take care of it. He did not quite know what statues were. "Rowena, you're the best," he managed, before taking hold of the half-formed ship in his mind again.

Whatever Rowena was doing was working, because the ship stopped sinking, and began to ride higher in the water. He brought the four needle-covered pine trees together into the center of the deck, dodging people and other obstacles, and made them into a mast, then worked his mind into the hearts of the needles and unfurled them into great green sails.

And that was it, really. He didn't feel totally unbalanced. Quite seaworthy, actually. Shipshape. And much lighter than before.

He opened his eyes and came back to himself. ...Much lighter than before. Everything was so spinny and bright. Being himself wasn't usually like this, was it? It was strange to have legs again. Legs were very unstable things.

He had words back, at least. He focused on Rowena, who was standing in front of him, beaming at him. "Oogh. Sorry about that. I wasn't... myself."

"I know," said Rowena, grinning. "You said I was the best. You're usually completely unobservant about that sort of thing."

"Not half bad," said Grimhildr, walking the deck of the ship. "Could be worse. Should get us into port."

"Not half bad?" asked Ari. "That was brilliant. He's a genius."

"See, I knew he'd be fine," said Rowena, cheerfully. "This is nothing for him, he's got all this magic, and he hardly ever uses it because he's a huge useless wimp. Thanks for doing it the right way and not killing us all," she told him. She frowned. "Are you all right?"

"Headache," Godric said. "And everything's spinny." He waved a hand in front of his face. "See?"

"Post-over-spell exhaustion," said Rowena. "I was surprised you didn't have that problem yesterday, actually. ...Or the day before, really, they all sort of blend into each other in my head. Perhaps you've finally overdone the magic a bit. Don't do anything more today, all right?"

"Yeah. Sounds good," said Godric, weakly. He looked down and realized the newly-made deck was approaching him. That probably shouldn't be happening, he thought. He wasn't transfiguring the ship anymore. But then he realized he was falling, and while he was vaguely aware of worried voices, he couldn't really keep his eyes open.

Chapter 27

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