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Title: Between Here and Now and Forever
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: The Founders, various OCs
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Rowena has a plan! It's a good plan. Like all her plans. Right? Right. Meanwhile, Jasper and Salazar deal with the Aurae back at the castle.

Chapter 1
Master Founders Post
Chapter 28

Once Basil arrived at the inn, he kept an eye on it to ensure that nobody followed the others in. After what seemed like a very long time, Helga and Stigandrson returned from getting rid of the horses, and Basil was satisfied they hadn't been followed. He went inside.

The trick now was to get one person back to the castle and keep everyone else more or less safe and together while they got there, so that the person who got back to the castle could summon a Transport Key and bring everybody else back safe and sound. Normally, Basil would have found this plan worrisome, in that sticking together was a bad idea when they were being stalked by Aurae Aurelii.

But when he got into the inn, he found out something even more worrisome.

"Oh, there you are, finally," said Rowena, as the innkeeper's selkie daughter showed him into the room their group had commandeered. Godric and Helga were there, but the others were presumably making their own escape plans. "I was just telling Godric and Helga about how I'm really, really sorry for this whole mess, and to apologize, I'd like to be the one to go out and get us all back to Lord Salazar's castle." Basil must have made a face, because she glared. "Well don't look at me like that! I'm really sorry. Really!"

"We believe you," Helga said. Basil did not, but because he loved his wife and didn't like sleeping on the floor, he didn't correct her on this matter.

Godric grimaced. "So what's your plan?" he asked, sighing. "You mentioned getting there by water."

"Well," said Rowena. Then, apparently for dramatic effect, she paused. "I am going to walk over the bottom of the loch right up to the castle."

"Sorry, sorry," said Basil. "I thought you were Lady Rowena, but apparently you're actually Moses! How are you going to accomplish this miracle? Are there going to be plagues?"

Rowena frowned. "Isn't Moses God's lawyer or something? I am not God's lawyer."

"Basil!" snapped Helga. She turned to Rowena. "Moses was not a lawyer. He was a lawgiver. They're two very different things."

"Well, then! Now I know better than to take any of his legal advice," said Rowena brightly. "That old fraud. Now, what about my plan?"

"It's... interesting," said Helga, making her 'trying to humor a terrible idea' face. Basil's plans had generated this expression enough times to know it well. "But it does require... rather more magic than any one of us has to just make a path through the water like that. And one does run into the problem of sustaining it. And what if the Aurae should follow?"

"Oh! No, no, no," said Rowena. "There won't be a path. I've made a sort of underwater bubble spell. I can't float with it, but I can use it to roll along the bottom of the loch. Also," she said, turning to Basil, "there will be no plagues. Or lawyers from God. It'll be very easy."

Basil folded his arms, and stared unblinking into the face of childish, spoiled Lady Rowena. "I'm going with you. In case you run into trouble along the way. I trust you'll have no obje--"

"No!" said Rowena. "It is a one-person spell. There isn't room enough for two in it. Anyway, if there was I wouldn't pick you."

"Rowena," said Helga. "He's got a point. You really can't just say you're going to run off and use some experimental spell that could get you drowned and expect us to not worry about you."

"Look, it's the best way to get in," said Rowena. "The Aurae will have aerial guards posted outside the school and on the ground in Hogsmeade and even in the forest, but remember how Lord de Malfoie came around the back way over water, then got to the castle? I'll do it like that."

"But underwater," said Godric, sounding skeptical.

"Actually," said Basil, "I suppose when you put it like that it's not completely mad. Congratulations. I now trust you with my life, if not anyone else's. I'm still going with you."

"Oh come on," said Rowena. "I'm not incompetent! It's just a bubble-y sort of type of charm I was working on before we left and there's not enough room for two people, and mice die in it if it's too small --"

"Then it's lucky we're not mice. Don't make it too small," said Basil. "I'm going with you."

"I don't want you to go with me!" snapped Rowena.

"That isn't really the point, is it?" said Basil. "Or I suppose you could go with Helga, who you very rudely told off this morning, and why is that suddenly all right now?"

Rowena went very red. "It, er, I --"

Godric cleared his throat. "I don't think that's a very good idea," he said.

"It's fine, Basil, really," said Helga. "Rowena, we should talk about --"

"I'll go with him," stammered Rowena, pointing at Basil as if she did not know his name.

"Yeah, all right," said Basil, confused. Godric was rubbing his forehead as though he had a particularly bad headache. Rowena seemed very upset, but she didn't seem to be looking for a scapegoat, which was actually quite odd. He shrugged. She was mad, and spoiled, and, for some reason, Helga's best friend. There was no explaining her. And now they were going boating together. Wonderful.

* * *

Jasper hadn't actually been there when his mother had been captured by the goblins; it had been a few days after he'd left to learn Arithmancy in the East, and he hadn't heard about it for months later, as it took much longer for the letter to reach him than it took for him to settle in; to get accustomed to the flying carpets and the hot weather and to forget about his parents. And when he'd got back, to his father, who had looked half-dead himself, Jasper had done what he could to make a castle strong enough and full of hidden traps and defenses so that even if another army attacked it, they would never make Jasper an orphan.

But he still had bad dreams about armies at the doorstep, so when he came downstairs one morning, on his way to the kitchens to get some toast and wine, and three Aurae were standing in the corridor in their blue and pink uniforms, talking with his father, Jasper blamed himself for not setting the aerial defenses he'd designed. Then he reminded himself that to keep the Aurae out -- to resist them via spells and architecture -- would probably have been taken as proof that House Slytherin had done something worthy of being besieged. For safety's sake, he had to leave the castle vulnerable.

He took a deep breath, and went to see what was going on now. His father had heard all sorts of rumors about what was going on with poor Lady Rowena, and Jasper had been quite worried about her, although by all accounts she was alive and quite as brilliant as ever. For a while, he'd been able to fool himself into thinking it would all be all right. But now he saw the Aurae at the table and he couldn't really believe that anymore.

"Aurelii," he said, nodding at them politely. "Is there a problem, Father?" he asked.

"No problem at all," said his father cheerfully. "The Aurae would like to take command of our own Aurae Cuprorum in Hogsmeade, in order to pursue some, well, some very disappointing coworkers."

Jasper tried not to glare at the Aurae. "I see," he said. "Well, we haven't got thestrals. Is that going to be a problem, Your Aureliificness?"

"No, no, not at all," said one of the Aurae, a short man with dark hair. He looked like he was trying not to laugh in Jasper's face. Jasper thought his name was Goronwy. "I am quite interested, though, in the wards you have up around --"

"The wards have nothing to do with the outlaws you're chasing," said Jasper shortly.

"But they're so --"

"Grummond, is it? You keep track of books for Lady Aeaeae. You must know all the ones I read," said Jasper. "Work it out yourself, unless you're too busy chasing Lady Rowena down."

"Lady Rowena. Oh yes, lovely woman," said Grummond, grimacing. Probably she had said something quite withering to him. Jasper suspected he deserved it.

"Jasper," said his father, "I have to show Aurelia Bergfalk and Aurelius Perkinson the lay of the land. Why don't you tell Aurelius Grummond about our wayward..."

"Accomplices?" Grummond asked.

"Former coworkers," said his father. Jasper knew his father was putting on a show; they had discussed the possibility that Lady Rowena and the others might manage to elude the Aurae and how to be most helpful to them, but Father had been very clear that they would have to cooperate fully with the Aurae if they came asking for information.

Jasper didn't have to like it, though, and he wondered if maybe it was worth going behind his father's back to keep Lady Rowena safe within the secret tunnels and rooms he'd put within the castle's walls. "Yes, I suppose I can tell him about them."

"Give him any assistance he needs," his father reminded him.

Jasper nodded. "Yes, of course," he said sing-songily. Father led the other two Aurae away, talking cheerfully of local geography and fortifications.

"Why don't we go to the library?" Grummond asked. "I've heard such good things about it."

"It's likely to be a better library than you've ever seen," said Jasper.

"Excuse me, what did you say?" Grummond asked.

"I said it's a better library than you would have seen," said Jasper, loftily. "Being a commoner and all. Grummond? That's not a noble name. It's not even Welsh."

"Excuse me?" demanded Grummond.

"Then, you might be some sort of highborn mudblood," said Jasper cheerfully, though this was a bit of a contradiction in terms. "Oh that's right, you are! You're the one who was disowned! You made up a new name like some idiot hunter, didn't you?"

Grummond's shoulders tensed. He said nothing.

"That's sort of hilariously clueless, actually," said Jasper. "I mean, if you were any sort of wizard --"

"I'd like to see the library, please," snapped Grummond. "If you delay me I can only assume you're hiding books that are... not permitted, and that this entire school could very well be some sort of method of indoctrination--"

"Fine, fine," said Jasper, sighing.

"I will be very thorough in my inspection," he warned.

"I'm trembling," said Jasper, rolling his eyes.

"In the meantime, why don't you tell me what sort of illegal activity your compatriots have been up to?"

Jasper snorted. "I don't know of any, except by ridiculous rumor. Mind, that Basil Hufflepuff is awfully shifty, I think he --"

"What about Gryffindor?" Grummond asked.

"Harmless." Jasper said. "Mind, he was very rude to me once a few years ago, and I don't think he's terribly bright, but really not such a bad sort for a common --"


"Like I said, he's --"

"Helga Hufflepuff," Grummond said. "Has she ever been involved in any sort of necromancy that you've --"

"How should I know?" asked Jasper. "She's sort of patronizing sometimes, but I don't think that's illegal."

Grummond nodded to himself. He made a dismissive sort of grunt.

"I suppose you're going to ask about Lady Rowena next," said Jasper.

"Since you failed to miss the clear and obvious signs of dabbling in treasonous and Dark magic that would have been present in Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, I rather doubt you're observant enough to notice anything malevolent about such a subtle and cunning woman as Lady Ravenclaw. You're clearly smitten with her."

"I am not!" said Jasper. "She's just very, er." He looked for a word that suggested less smittenness than the ones he automatically came up with. "She's clever. I'm fond of clever women. Is that so wrong? ...I don't really think she's very subtle, though," he said. "She's actually sort of loud."

"Yes, right, well," said Grummond. Apparently he was completely ignoring everything Jasper had said. "This'll be the library, then?"

"Yes?" said Jasper, uncertainly. He was starting to worry that perhaps showing an Aura with a grudge to see the school's library -- an Aura who also just happened to be in charge of the banned and restricted books lists for the whole of Council territory -- might be a bad idea.

"Wonderful," said Grummond, cracking his knuckles before pushing the doors open and wandering in. Jasper followed uneasily. He was pulling out books willy-nilly and skimming their contents. "Do you know this book's got heretical philosophical leanings?" he asked, waving a leather-bound volume apparently at random.

"According to which religion, particularly?" Jasper asked, raising an eyebrow.

"One of the ones with political sway, apparently. It's on the list somewhere," said Grummund, cheerfully. "Honestly, I forget. Not the true Church, of course, but I don't make the laws, I just make the regulations."

Jasper had not been aware that there was a difference. "Look, you can't just --"

"And I haven't read this book," said Grummond, sounding as though he was a child who'd got the smallest biscuit in the batch. "Books I haven't read are automatically restricted, until such time as I've --"

"Well, you don't have to -- hey! Put that back!" snapped Jasper, watching him trying to take a very large green book off the top shelf. Grummond couldn't quite reach and it was bound to fall on his head and possibly be damaged. Jasper hastily grabbed the book to rescue it from such a fate.

"What's this one, then?" demanded Grummond. "What are you hiding from me?" He grabbed it and opened it at random. "AHA. A bestiary."

"That's Lady Rowena's!" snapped Jasper. "You can't have that one. Not without her permission, and she's not likely to give it to the likes of you."

"Oh, I'm sorry, did I forget which one of us was the law and which one of us was a third-rate, unqualified, unlettered magister of mathematics? Those who can, do, isn't that right? And those who can't, teach."

"And those who can't teach become censorious bullies," snapped Jasper. "The only pretender to scholarship in this room is you." He grabbed the book back from Grummond, or tried to, but alas, Grummond and Jasper were evenly matched in strength, and he fought dirty besides, meaning Jasper was of course honor-bound to fight just as dishonorably in order to protect Lady Rowena's precious book. And so in the ensuing tug-of-war, several bookshelves were most regrettably knocked over, and numerous volumes of Herodotus and Merlin and Mercurius ter Maximus were strewn about in terrible disarray, rather like corpses on a battlefield, Jasper thought, not that he had ever been on a battlefield but probably neither had Aurelius Goronwy bloody Grummond.

Jasper had, through repeated application of his teeth, almost escaped from the headlock Grummond had him in, when his father and Aurelia Bergfalk stormed into the room. "What are you doing?" his father demanded.

"My lord, I do apologize. This is very typical of him," sighed Aurelia Bergfalk. "Gorowny, I'm writing that report to Clio, so you don't leave out the bit where you're an idiot."

Grummond was on his feet at once, clutching the offending bestiary. "He attacked me!"

"You stole Lady Rowena's book!" Jasper shouted, pointing an accusing finger. He stood, dusted himself off, and crossed his arms at Grummond. "Explain yourself!"

"Jasper," said his father, now more disappointed than angry.

"This book is --" Grummond insisted.

"A bestiary, nothing more," said Jasper. "And it belongs to Lady Rowena."

"Goronwy, give him back the book," said Aurelia Bergfalk, prying the book out of his hands. "See? Good as gently used," she said, handing it to Jasper. When Grummond attempted to grab the book back, she cheerfully slammed his head against one of the remaining upright bookshelves. "Now, really, stop that," she scolded.

"Ow," moaned Grummond. "Stop it! I'm in charge here!"

"Actually, Jan's in charge here," said Bergfalk. She smiled at Jasper. "So sorry about that," she said, with inhuman chipperness. Then, she wasn't really human, so Jasper supposed that was normal. He began to page through the bestiary, checking for damage.

"Well, I ought to be in charge here," Grummond said haughtily. "Ow." He put one hand to his head where she'd hit it.

"You just keep on telling yourself that!" said Bergfalk, with a brittle smile. "We should be leaving before you break anything else," she said. "Thank you for all your cooperation, Lord Slytherin. Once Jan is finished setting up the surveillance spells, we'll be out of your hair."

"Surveillance spells?" Jasper asked, looking up from the bestiary. "What surveillance spells?"

"At all the entrances to the castle," said Bergfalk. "For your own protection, of course." She did not meet his eye when she spoke. "So that Rowena and that lot don't... sneak in and... hold you hostage, I suppose." She rolled her eyes. "There's just no telling what they'll do next."

"Oh. Of course," said Jasper. He felt like he was in a play, and everyone, including him, had been horribly miscast.

"You'll contact us first thing if you hear from them, of course," said Bergfalk. She sounded honestly worried.

"Yes, of course," said Jasper, trying to be reassuring. Far be it for him to let a lady continue on in such distress. Of course, the lady in question was working for the evil regime that had killed large portions of his relatives, and wanted to capture Lady Rowena and take her back to gods only knew what, but still, Jasper had principles.

"Thank you," said Bergfalk.

"We will report everything we hear about them to you, of course," said his father, who swiped the book from Jasper while his attention was elsewhere.

Jasper frowned as Father handed the bestiary to Grummond, who inspected the bestiary in the careless way of one who either does not love books, or who is making a show of his disinterest. After an agonizingly long time, he threw the book at Jasper, who caught it. "I suppose it's nothing of interest," he said.

Jasper smiled nastily at him. "The uncultured masses always have such short attention spans," he said.

"Well, I suppose if you prefer looking at pretty pictures instead of serious magic --"

"Let's not argue, gentlemen," said Bergfalk, putting one arm around each of them and beaming dazzlingly at them in turn. "Well, we'd better be going," she said to his father. "Thank you for your cooperation."

"Of course," said Salazar. "If you need anything further, don't hesitate to ask." He snapped his fingers, and Peeves was there. "Peeves, show them out, if you will."

And with that, the Aurae left, following the goblin. Jasper watched them go suspiciously. "Well?" he asked.

"I promised them our Aurae Cuprorum," his father sighed. "I couldn't do anything else."

"And the goblins?" Jasper asked, worriedly.

"You know, I didn't mention them," said his father, as if this was an absent-minded mistake. "But they didn't ask, and everyone knows I've got them. They'd never dare use my goblins, though."

"Why not?" Jasper asked.

"Well, for one, they're enslaved, like the Aurae Aurelii," his father said. "If they weren't, they'd kill us all. But the Aurae can't trust them, so they don't want them. The Cuprorum are sworn to me, but they're not bound by magic, so they can be threatened or bribed."

"Hmph. Some loyalty," said Jasper, wrinkling his nose.

"Now, now, Jasper. I'm not going to ask any of them to disobey the Aurae Aurelii," said his father. "That would be wrong of me. But I know that Ophelia favors the stick over the carrot, and if I were to offer them a small bonus, an explanation of what's at risk, an offer of protection to their families if any ruffians come along who have a problem with honest law enforcement.... It's all about likability, really."

"I suppose," said Jasper, who, unlike his father, couldn't stand to leave anything up to chance. Chance made him anxious. "Tell me what you know about the surveillance spells, at least? So I can work out how to fool them."

"Oh, that," said his father. "I pocketed Aurelius Perkinson's cheat sheet while he wasn't looking. I really should've been a pickpocket," he said cheerfully. "Then again, there's more money in politics, and it's basically the same business model."

Jasper rolled his eyes. "Yes, all right," he said, taking the parchment. He looked over it, then perked up. How interesting! "This is going to take some doing. Do you need me for anything else?" he asked. It was only polite to ask before disappearing into his office and working on maths all day.

"Do what you have to do," said his father, shooing him off. "Go away. Just remember to come down and eat supper sometime before tomorrow."

Chapter 30

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