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Green Vine of Fate

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There was a lot of hype in the wizarding world, Obi-Wan found, that revolved around the line of Slytherin being the last line capable of speaking to snakes. And of that line, the infamous Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, was the last. With no other family members, and the Gaunt family literally dead, the wizarding world assumed that Parselmagic had died with them.

Of course, the fact that the vaunted Harry Potter—who Obi-Wan did not envy in the slightest— was capable of the same ability although his entire family line was magically Gryffindor through and through… well, that was sort of casually glossed over.

Very few knew the true story behind Potter’s affinity for Parseltongue, but it seemed to be an almost expected story to share in the Staff Room whenever a new member of staff was appointed to the school. Though, to be fair, it wasn’t exactly that Potter was the focus of the story, but rather the events of his entire time at Hogwarts. As a warning of sorts.

“Don’t ignore what is in front of you because you don’t like what it could mean. You’ll end up with a giant snake petrifying everyone and supposedly-dead Dark Lord’s ruining the entire year.”

That was essentially the purpose of accosting new staff and waylaying them with frankly terrifying information—which would have any sane person deciding “no thank you” and handing in their resignation less than a day into term.

Unfortunately, Obi-Wan had never been considered sane.

Obi-Wan had, unfortunately, been year mates with several Death Eaters—had actually been friends with them, and hadn’t that been a shock—but he had never agreed with their supremacist rhetoric. It was one thing to wish to endure one’s way of life, it was another thing entirely to try and wipe out everyone else just because you didn’t like them or thought yourself superior. Merlin no. As one of the few half-blood Slytherin’s in the height of Voldemort’s recruitment campaign, Obi-Wan had found himself wary and watchful of his own housemates. A wise snake trusted not its own kind after all.

When he’d interfered in his Seventh Year and stopped a truly brutal attack on a Muggleborn witch by his own housemates… well. He’d found himself a place to hide in the Castle and avoided every single one of his housemates unless absolutely necessary.

At least Dumbledore had considered his behaviour understandable.

After graduating, Obi-Wan had found himself uncertain as to what he could do. Yes, he had the NEWTS and OWLS to do pretty much anything; yes, he could do pretty much anything. But he didn’t know what he wanted to do.

So he travelled.

Across Muggle Europe and Magical Europe into Asia where he found himself distracted by the beauty of such variety in magic, in culture and life. Oh, he found himself honestly—happily—distracted as he wandered from country to country, until he eventually reached the shore of the Pacific.

He went South first, to Australia and New Zealand, living and experiencing the vitality of the cultures and magic that oozed out of the land—not rigorous or structured like it was in Britain, in much of Europe really. There was no emphasis on wand work, no reliance on using anything other than the core of your being to start everything.

Wandless magic wasn’t just the reserve of non-human creatures elsewhere in the world.

It was normal.

And Obi-Wan thrived among it all.

Ending up in America was, by contrast, surprisingly claustrophobic. Having to always rely on his wand for everything, never having a moment to just do magic without having to channel it first. Oh he loved his wand, he truly did, but Obi-Wan was well aware that he didn’t need it to do magic.

He was magic.

Not all of America was like that of course. Obi-Wan greatly enjoyed his time outside the American cities, deep in the depth of landscape—feeling the quiet humming of deeper, wilder magic that had been steamrollered over in a bid by Muggles to expand. It was tainted however… tainted in a way that left Obi-Wan grieving inside. So much had been lost in America, so much magical knowledge, so many people and livelihoods. It felt like he was walking through a graveyard, occasionally finding someone standing among the graves and singing—a melody of sorrow and joy.

Some American cities were glorious though. New Orleans was alive and vivacious. So too was New York. So much variety in the people there, and while he greatly enjoyed the magic he experienced, much of it was hidden and locked away—the result of Magical Congress seeking to control magic in order to limit Muggle exposure.

He could understand their caution, but Merlin, the way some magical folk were treated in America made his skin crawl—especially after spending so much time in Asia and witnessing how magic had been both obvious and obscure depending on where he travelled.

But then there was Africa.

Oh, sweet, magnificent, alive Africa! With magic that hummed in the earth and the air, that lingered in the animals and made his skin tingle and his eyes shift. Visiting Magical Africa after spending so much time in Magical America—and America in general to be honest—was like the first drop of rain after a long, tiring drought.

It was like being brought to life.

There were so many types of magic in the world, some wild and untameable, others frighteningly easy to manipulate and control. Obi-Wan learnt about as many of them as he could, where he could, and when he could. He learnt of languages that had died out in the Muggle world. Discovered anew that just because Western Magic had lost something, didn’t mean it was gone forever. Parselmagic. The ancient tongues that could direct the wind with a word, or quench a drought with a phrase.

Obi-Wan learnt of things Europe and America had forgotten, too busy modernising and relying on Latin magic.

Obi-Wan would never have left Magical Africa if he was honest, not if it hadn’t been for the Patronus he’d received one night, perched in a tree on the Serengeti watching the life around him with feline eyes.

“You are needed Kenobi. The Dark Lord has fallen at long last. Hogwarts needs to be rebuilt. Dumbledore’s last request.” The sleek raven Patronus had told him before fading.

Dumbledore’s last request… Obi-Wan had looked up to the night sky, a view so familiar he ached with the knowledge that wasn’t ever going to see it so clearly ever again. He had known then and there; he was never going to return to Africa.

 

* * *

 

Hogwarts had been surprisingly… intact when Obi-Wan had arrived, a month after what was being known across Magical Britain as the ‘Battle of Hogwarts’ though really, Obi-Wan felt it should have been named the ‘Battle for Hogwarts’ judging by the casualty list The Daily Prophet had released.

Far too many students had been on that list.

McGonaghall had taken one look at him—his worn cloak made of thread from a little village in Eastern Tibet that had discovered how to spell protection wards into the very weave of their clothes; the muggle rucksack he had carried with him across every continent and contained the gifts he had received from those he had met in his travels; the wand holstered on his wrist in a holster no British wizard would recognise—and had waved him right on through. Pointing him in the direction of the staff room as though Obi-Wan couldn’t recall its precise location from his short stint as a prankster during his third year.

Hearing all about the old tales of the Founders, alongside the new ones of Harry Potter, Obi-Wan couldn’t help but wonder how Wizarding Britain—most of the Wizarding World in the Western Hemisphere really—had come to ignore so much of magic.

The matter of soulmarks was one Obi-Wan had spent years researching—even going so far as to bother a two-hundred-year-old Mystic who lived in a damned cave (a nice cave, but still… cave) and refusing to leave until he agreed to tell Obi-Wan what he knew of the strange phenomena.

They were a strange thing. Muggles didn’t have them. Muggleborns sometimes did. Half-bloods, ironically enough, had them more than Purebloods. And Purebloods received soulmarks that mimicked family crests.

It was all very… peculiar.

Soulmarks, Obi-Wan had learnt, were Old Magick—the kind that had created the Deathly Hallows, the kind that Obi-Wan’s father had murmured to him about at bedtime, the kind that Voldemort had sought so desperately.

As a young student, Obi-Wan had known that if he ever wanted to understand the mark that curled beneath the holster on his right wrist, he needed to go beyond what was already known. He needed to explore magic and find what others didn’t know, or had hidden away.

It had grown over the years, streaking along his arm, following the veins in a tropical green colour he’d only ever seen in the tropics. What it meant… Obi-Wan had no idea. But while he wished to go searching for the answers again, to go walk the world and see everything, he had promised Dumbledore to come when he called.

It was a shame he hadn’t been called until after everything was over.

Still, there was no use being annoyed at what had or hadn’t happened, he was here now and that was all that mattered.

 

* * *

 

Being a teacher was surprisingly easy for Obi-Wan. He had expected it to be rife with problems—not in the least the lack of official qualifications for actually teaching, but apparently outstanding NEWT scores made him more than qualified—but the biggest issues he faced usually revolved around trying to create a curriculum for battle-hardened—and damaged—students who looked at him in a mixture of hostility and youthful lust.

If there was one thing Obi-Wan could have gone forever without experiencing, it was being seen as a sexual symbol.

Garen would laugh himself silly if he could see him right now, Obi-Wan knew. Bant too. And even Reeft would laugh at his plight.

It was hard remembering friends. Harder remembering that they had no idea he was back in the UK, let alone that he was a teacher.

Bant had sent the Patronus though, so he had an idea that his Muggleborn friend knew he was back—she just didn’t know where.

Maybe he was being a coward avoiding them—he probably was—but Obi-Wan doubted he’d be able to look any of them in the eye without feeling self-loathing for leaving them in the first place. Merlin, Bant would have his head inside a second if she ever knew that was why he was avoiding them!

The kids were a mixed bunch, some very skilled at offensive magic while awful at defensive, and others the reverse. It was a jarring dissonance and the first thing Obi-Wan decided to rectify. As a student at the school himself, he’d been very good at offensive magic, but it had taken his time walking the Earth to become so skilled at defensive magic.

The tricks and things he’d learnt along the way went into his curriculum.

As did wandless magic.

It took a single term for the students to stop looking at him with suspicion or doubt of his ability. It took a particularly nasty visit from a surviving Death Eater—gone mad with whatever curse he’d used against an Auror—and Obi-Wan literally rendering the Wizard in two with a splicing curse that wasn’t even remotely rooted in Latin, for them to take his course content seriously.

The look Minerva had given him at the sight of a neatly spliced Death Eater had been one-part exasperated and two-parts grateful for his intervention. The group of fifth years who had been readying to attack the crazed Death Eater likely would have survived, but both teacher’s preferred for their students to never have to fight like they once had again.

Not before they’d finished school at least.

 

* * *

 

Obi-Wan had learnt to speak to snakes in the jungle. A young woman bristling with the magic of her tribe had patiently walked him through his own magic, helping him to unwind the many tangled threads that built up in the Western Magical World—something about a reliance on structure and control, rather than balance and return, he’d been a bit out of it from a three-week stint in Argentina by the time he’d stumbled upon them.

In the jungle he learnt how to walk in the form of a cat; yellow-gold eyes glinting and scaring off Muggles who wandered too close to the tribe. He had learnt how to make things with his hands—no difference between what he could do with magic and what he should know as a person—and he’d learnt how to hunt in the river, using nothing but the same skills Muggles had.

It had been enlightening.

So much knowledge in Wizarding Britain was twisted, limited and convoluted; a result of conquests and intentional erasure, wilful ignorance and those who were hunted learning to hide and who eventually faded away. It left entire lines of magical families with unstable magic – though they thought it so orderly when they could force it through a wand whose core was wild magic contained in a cage—and squibs were common enough that blood supremacy and magical-eugenics grew until, in Obi-Wan’s time, the prejudice had changed everything about magic in Britain.

Most of Europe was the same.

Being back in Britain, being back at Hogwarts, Obi-Wan found himself longing for the jungle, for open plains and deserts, snow-capped mountains and rolling beaches of pebble and sand. He longed for anything that wasn’t tamed or leashed. The Forbidden Forest became a refuge for him, to the point where the Centaurs knew him by sight, recognising that he was just as wild at heart as they and so they needed only their bows for watching the stars.

Still, it wasn’t the same.

The day that Qui-Gon Jinn arrived at Hogwarts, taking over from McGonaghall as Transfiguration Professor—and really, Obi-Wan had doubted old McGonaghall would ever retire from teaching—was the day things changed.

Well. They did for Obi-Wan, not so much for the school or his students.

 

* * *

 

“The Patronus Charm is an effective method of repelling Dementors, as I’m sure you all are aware.” Obi-Wan turned away from the board, looking at his class of Fourth Years with a gleam in his eyes.

It was a gleam they recognised well.

“Now, practicing the charm in a safe space—such as this classroom—without any danger present is easy; and indeed, most of you I imagine would be perfectly capable of creating at least a low-grade mist that would be enough to ward off a Dementor.” Obi-Wan paused, tilting his head in a manner that easily displayed to the class that he was thinking.

“But I’m not entirely certain any of you would manage to ward off a Dementor if you met one in person,” Obi-Wan said, waiting patiently as his class exploded into offended cries. Raising a hand, he was satisfied when they settled down. “That is not meant as an insult to any of you, I’m stating my opinion based on observation of you all. There are much scarier things out in the world than Dementors that the Patronus Charm can work on in the right conditions... if you’re quick enough that is.”

The class—no longer divided by House, but rather by ranked ability as standard in Muggle schools—settled down, easily recognising that Obi-Wan was about to embark on telling them a story from his travels. As much as their pride was hurt by his assertion that they wouldn’t be capable of producing a Patronus, their innate curiosity won out, and so they all waited impatiently for Obi-Wan to begin.

“How many of you have heard of Lethifolds?”

A few put their hands up, mostly those from magical families—though there is one particularly scholarly Hufflepuff at the back who is from a muggle family.

He nods at the girl who blushed but diligently answers his question.

“They’re dark creatures, similar to a Dementor professor. Usually found in the Tropical regions.” She explained in a loud voice that barely wobbles for all that Obi-Wan has asked her to speak. He smiled at her and watches with fond amusement as she let out a breath and near collapsed back in her seat.

“Ten points to Hufflepuff Miss Harriman.” Obi-Wan said, leaning back against his desk, arms folded across his chest. “Lethifolds are found only in the tropics; at least, only found naturally in the tropics. There are accounts of dark wizards trying to breed them in order to use them to attack muggle communities—though they have been largely unsuccessful; mostly due to their own untimely demise by those they did manage to breed.”

One of the Slytherin’s snorted, obviously amused by the irony of that. Obi-Wan himself appreciated it.

“I have encountered a Lethifold myself,” Obi-Wan said suddenly, the entire class freezing as his words rang out in the quiet classroom. “It wasn’t an especially powerful Lethifold, nor indeed was it all that terrifying,” he continued, watching them all as they seemed to hold their collective breath. “At least… it wasn’t very terrifying on its own.”

Several of his students gasped, one even let out a quiet ‘meep’ of surprised horror. Obi-Wan fought back a grin.

He might have been discussing one of the single-most terrifying experiences of his life, but he’d had so many that it was considerably less trying to talk about it to his class.

Plus, their reactions made him feel warm inside.

“I had unfortunately decided it was a brilliant idea to set up camp in what I later found out was a Lethifold nest.” Obi-Wan explained, shrugging a shoulder. “Up until that point in time I had always kept my wand in a traditional holster, much like the ones Auror’s and duelling wizards use; I’m sure you know what I’m talking about—” several heads nodded “—well you would think that it would be easy to reach, and in normal circumstances it would have been.”

Obi-Wan shook his head, remembering ruefully just how idiotic he’d been that night.

“A word to the wise class, do not use a cloak as a blanket when it’s literally designed to mould itself to your body if you remain motionless for more than five minutes.” Obi-Wan snorted out a breath, amused despite himself. “They are useful for hiding, but quite useless when you need to get to your wand quickly because a dozen Lethifold are trying to suffocate you.”

“How did you escape professor?” A Gryffindor boy—Reuten—asked, the look on his face a mix of awe and disbelief.

“I almost didn’t,” Obi-Wan answered, giving Reuten a sheepish look. “It was pure luck that I managed to get my wand out of its holster quick enough to cast a Lumos Maxima Charm and temporarily distract the Lethifolds.”

Shifting, Obi-Wan dropped his arms down, hands resting behind him on the desk. “Lethifolds are immune to nearly every form of magic we know, but they are still dark creatures.” He explained sombrely. “They enjoy dark places and so any form of light is inherently repellent to them. Casting Lumos Maxima gave me enough time to conjure my Patronus and banish them from the area.”

He sighed deeply.

“It was not easy however.” Obi-Wan looked away from the class, gaze settling on the high window to his right. “The Patronus was strong enough to drive them back, but like Dementors, Lethifolds have a draining effect on you. More so I have found.”

Looking back at the class, Obi-Wan eyed them with a heavy gaze, one that spoke of his experiences and wisdom. It was a look that silenced even the most argumentative of students.

“Dementors scatter from a full-fledged Patronus; they cannot stand that much concentrated joy, least of all in a physical form of light. But Lethifolds can linger, and they can still affect you while they do. They are not at all dissimilar to the shadows they are capable of hiding within,” Obi-Wan continued. “Light is not limitless after all, and so its effect is limited.”

The classroom fell completely silent.

There was a tension in the air, a sort of anticipation that built as Obi-Wan observed his class with grey eyes.

“But hope… hope is something you will always have.” Obi-Wan’s voice was quiet, almost a murmur, but his class heard every word. “Lethifolds and Dementors can drain you; they can leech the happiness right out of you and suffocate you with darkness. They can even kill you.” He looked at each of his students, gaze bright with determination. “But even in your last moments, you can still hope. And if you use hope when you’re in the dark and trapped—if you look at everything around you and think to yourself ‘there may be more than what I have here’ you can survive a Lethifold. You can survive a nest. And your Patronus will burn all the brighter for that survival.”

Chapter Text

Qui-Gon Jinn settled back into the plush armchair in the staff room, a cup of tea held carefully in both hands. The light aroma of the tea soothed his frayed nerves. How he had ever thought he could teach children he had no idea. Most days he felt like actually jumping off the Astronomy tower just to avoid the mountains of classwork he had to mark.

It wouldn’t have been that bad though in all honesty, this teaching malarkey, had it not been for his colleagues.

Oh Headmistress McGonaghall was splendid; Qui-Gon remembered Minerva from his time at Hogwarts—only two years below her—and Longbottom was delightful company for such a young wizard. And while the school’s new potion master was surprisingly less bitter than most potion masters tended to be—Qui-Gon honestly thought it was a prerequisite for the position—the man was so dull it hurt to endure a conversation with him.

Flitwick was delightful as ever, but had a tendency to engage Minerva and several other staff members who had been at The Battle, so Qui-Gon was limited in his interaction with the tiny Charms professor.

The only member of staff that Qui-Gon actively dreaded interacting with was—

“Ah Professor Kenobi!”

The Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.

Flitwick’s cheery voice broke the soothing quiet of the staff room just as Qui-Gon caught sight of the red-haired professor striding into the room as though he were a military general.

Qui-Gon bit back a snort at the mental image, scratching his wrist absently with a finger, tea cup held in his other hand.

“Professor Flitwick,” Kenobi greeted the tiny Charms professor with a polite smile, eyes bright and shining in dual tones of blue and green.

Qui-Gon found them appealing to look at but the emotion in them often had him avoiding Kenobi’s gaze. He rubbed the skin of his wrist through the robe he wore, face smooth even though the itching sensation irritated him.

“Filius! I’ve told you—call me Filius!” Flitwick laughed, nearly toppling off his own seat before managing to recover his balance artfully. Qui-Gon had long suspected that the Charms professor’s habit of ‘falling off’ things during his first year had been a ploy to set his students more at ease. He still wasn’t sure if it was or not.

Kenobi laughed, shaking his head as he replied, “only if you agree to call me Obi-Wan professor.”

It was a long-running joke between the two—one Qui-Gon sort of understood. It did somewhat annoy him that Kenobi had been so very memorable that Flitwick had knew him by sight whereas it had taken the Charms professor a full month to place Qui-Gon.

But he wasn’t bitter. Or jealous.

Just a little… miffed.

He stared down at his tea, trying to ignore the urge to scowl at the brown liquid. The itching in his wrist faded and he wrapped his hand back around the mug, fingers lacing together around the ceramic, heat leeching through and warming his fingertips.

“Ah.” Kenobi’s voice changed.

Qui-Gon looked up, eyes locking automatically with Kenobi’s own blue-green. He blinked and fixed his gaze just over Kenobi’s right shoulder, a minute shift that was impossible to notice.

“Professor Jinn.” Kenobi nodded politely. Gone was the unrestrained amusement and openness to both voice and face. Kenobi was calm and poised, voice reserved.

Qui-Gon found that he quite hated it.

“Professor Kenobi,” he greeted in a quiet murmur, nodding his head in a polite greeting that Kenobi returned. “How was your last class of the term?”

Kenobi graced him with a slight smile, a glimmer of amusement in those eyes that were so guarded whenever Qui-Gon was present.

From his armchair, Flitwick watched them avidly.

“Oh it was most illuminating for my students,” Kenobi replied lightly. “We discussed the various uses of the Patronus Charm.”

Qui-Gon’s brows drew together as he stared at the younger professor, momentarily confused.

“Isn’t the Patronus used only against Dementors?” He couldn’t help but ask, curious despite himself. Kenobi had travelled extensively, far more than most wizards Qui-Gon knew, and so hearing of his exploits was… educational.

The amusement in Kenobi’s eyes grew and Qui-Gon already regretted asking.

“As a way of repelling a Dementor? Yes, that is, primarily, its only use,” Kenobi agreed, moving away from Qui-Gon; flicking out his wand and summoning a tea cup in a smooth motion Qui-Gon found himself envying. He prepared himself a cup of the same tea Qui-Gon himself was drinking as he continued. “But there are other dark creatures that are affected by the Patronus Charm. Lethifolds are the most common.”

Qui-Gon sucked in a breath.

“And where did you happen to come across a Lethifold in your travels professor Kenobi?” Qui-Gon asked cordially. “I’m also curious as to how you were able to survive an attack by one.”

“Oh,” Kenobi shook his head, a slight curve to his lips as he glanced over his shoulder at him. “I didn’t get attacked by one.”

Qui-Gon breathed out, relieved in a way he couldn’t explain, even as Flitwick let out a surprised, curious sound.

Unfortunately, Kenobi’s next words made Qui-Gon grip his cup hard enough he felt the ceramic groan at the force his grip exerted.

“I was attacked by a nest. Pure chance I didn’t die then and there.”

Qui-Gon hated the man.

How could anyone be so damned reckless and still manage to come out of things unscathed?

Merlin! Why did he even believe him? It’s not like others hadn’t claimed to have been attacked by Lethifolds in the past. Rarely had any of them been found to be true. Perhaps a dozen of the reported cases were true, at most. Why should Qui-Gon believe Kenobi had experienced something similar?

But… perhaps it was the way Kenobi was so watchful—even in the comfort of the staff room, in the school that had survived war and hundreds of years of muggle persecution. The wards protecting Hogwarts were old and powerful, but Qui-Gon had caught sight of Kenobi strengthening them, adding his own enchantments.

Perhaps it was the scars on Kenobi’s left arm; ones that matched a set along his right leg that Qui-Gon had seen when Kenobi had ditched his heavy robes—and trousers—in order to dive into the Lake after a student was pulled down by one of the creatures that inhabited it.

Or perhaps Qui-Gon simply believed the younger professor because he knew liars, and Kenobi was no liar.

“How did you even manage to find a nest of Lethifolds?” Qui-Gon asked, staring at Kenobi in absolute horror.

Flitwick seemed as horrified as Qui-Gon.

Kenobi shrugged, turning away from the teapot, wand back in its holster, a cup of tea in hand. He leaned back against the counter. “Picked a bad spot to sleep for the night.”

Qui-Gon shook his head. How could—

“How are you still alive Kenobi?” Qui-Gon found himself asked, and he swore he heard Flitwick choke back a laugh.

“Lots of luck and quick thinking professor Jinn,” Kenobi replied casually, sipping his tea with an almost reverent air.

Qui-Gon could relate to that. This blend was absolutely divine.

“I have to confess Obi-Wan,” Flitwick commented, looking at Kenobi with amusement on his aged face. “If you and Mister Potter were ever in the same room together, I dread to see what the result would be.”

Kenobi snorted.

“Merlin protect us all, one recklessly lucky student at a time Filius.” Minerva’s voice drifted into the staff room as the witch swept into the room, emerald green robes billowing behind her. “Kenobi and Potter in the same location for more than a few minutes would likely result in absolute catastrophe for all involved.”

Kenobi shrugged, not in the least apologetic.

“At least it would be amusing from a distance,” he pointed out and Qui-Gon watched as Minerva rolled her eyes in fond exasperation.

“Indeed,” she intoned dryly, fixing the younger professor with a stern look that had absolutely no effect whatsoever. “I can still recall the pranks you and your friends pulled in your third year mister Kenobi.”

Qui-Gon watched as a light blush worked its way across Kenobi’s pale skin.

“Point.” Kenobi inclined his head as Flitwick laughed with such mirth he actually did fall off his armchair. Three levitation charms halted his fall but the Charms professor didn’t stop laughing until he was back in his armchair—cushions summoned by Minerva and Qui-Gon hopefully preventing any further dalliances with gravity.

Qui-Gon sighed, settling back more comfortably in his armchair, the tea in his hand still warm enough to be drank. He settled in for an amusing discussion between the three professors before him—mentally keeping tally of each time Kenobi glanced at him.

He didn’t understand the man, and Qui-Gon honestly disliked not understanding things.

 

* * *

 

Being forced to spend time with Jinn, Obi-Wan found, was an exercise in torture.

Not that he was all that familiar with torture… well, not so familiar that he’ll ever tell his students anything about that time in Burma. Or that unexpected meeting in Mexico with a Death Eater—he had actual scars from that.

Still… that’s not something to think about in the light of day—or ever really.  Definitely not when walking next to one of the most annoying, intriguing, interesting people he’s ever met.

Jinn was always polite with Obi-Wan, rarely ever speaking without obviously considering his words—and censoring them—and while Obi-Wan appreciated such skilled negotiating, it irked him. They were both teachers, both skilled and capable.

Merlin’s sake, they were adults! Surely they could have a conversation without censoring their words? Without always referring to each other as ‘professor’?

“Did you ever imagine yourself to be a teacher, professor Kenobi?”

Apparently not.

Obi-Wan glanced to his right, running his gaze over Jinn’s tall frame, trying to determine how exactly he was meant to respond. He huffed out a quiet laugh.

“Not particularly, no,” Obi-Wan replied, returning his gaze to the snow-covered ground they were walking on. The sharp crunch and biting cold air were welcome distractions for him. Gloved fingers fiddled with the cuff of his sleeve, pressing against the skin beneath that seemed to tingle slightly.

Obi-Wan frowned.

He may have preferred the constant warmth of Africa—good for that injured knee of his; damned Death Eater—but at heart he was a Scottish lad with a deeply ingrained love of the cold. He blew out a breath, watching it steam in the sharp cold air with a serene expression; he’d never tire of the ‘dragon breath’ in the winter months. It was a tangible reminder that he’d been young once, a long, long time ago.

“What did you imagine yourself doing?” Jinn asked, obviously curious despite himself, even if the other professor was reserved.

Apparently he was curious enough to want to know about Obi-Wan. Something in his chest felt warmed by the thought, unfurling and basking in the unexpected interest. For all that Obi-Wan found Jinn frustrating to interact with—that damnable polite negotiating—he also found the other professor equally rewarding, most especially when they could amiably compare notes from their travels.

“To be quite honest, I had no idea.” Obi-Wan glanced around them, gaze sharp and assessing. The wilds of the world—and occasional attacks by Muggles in some less than reputable places—had ingrained the habit of watching his surroundings into him with devastating efficiency.

It never hurt to be prepared after all; indeed, such preparedness had saved Obi-Wan’s life more than once. He imagined it had saved Jinn’s life also during the professor’s own travels.

Constant vigilance as one particularly suspicious Auror used to say.

“There were plenty of opportunities for me after I received my NEWTS, but I had absolutely no idea what I was meant to do,” Obi-Wan explained, gaze lingering on a dense patch of trees on the edge of the natural forest Hogsmeade was situated by. The founders of the village had been practical, taking advantage of the forest’s resources, even with magic at their disposal. It took far less effort to build a house by the forest than it did to build it on top of a hill, whether or not magic was used after all.

The wards on the village were stronger than they had been before the Dark Lord’s return—the Ministry finally getting their act together long enough to improve the warding on a myriad of magical locations throughout Britain. But Obi-Wan had never put much stock in the Ministry—too many years of watching it being cowed by the Dark Lord’s first rise to power, never mind the second—and so he had added his own wards to the village; and to the school not long after his first term teaching.

Keyed directly to his own magic, Obi-Wan was distinctly aware of everything that existed within both Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

“I’ve found that it’s one thing to have knowledge-based skills, but another thing entirely to have experience-based skills,” Obi-Wan said, giving Jinn a sidelong look. The other professor was watching him, but when Obi-Wan’s gaze met his, Jinn looked away quickly.

Obi-Wan’s brow furrowed slightly for a moment, wondering at the other professor’s reluctance to meet his gaze. He’d noticed it not long after being introduced to Jinn—less than a week after Jinn’s appointment as the school’s transfiguration professor—but he’d assumed it was some sort of personal habit of Jinn’s. After several months of the other professor at the school, making eye contact with everyone else except Obi-Wan, he now believed it was something unique to Jinn’s interaction with him.

What the reason for it was, Obi-Wan didn’t know, but he had some ideas and explanations. Pressing a thumb to the inside of his wrist, Obi-Wan mentally shook himself, focusing back on their conversation and the biting cold of the Scottish winter.

A slightly deprecating smile on his face, Obi-Wan shook his head. “Had I not spent so many years travelling, I doubt I would feel quite as confident in a classroom as I do.”

“I don’t believe that.”

Obi-Wan paused mid-step, head turning. Jinn had stopped also, turning around bodily until he was facing Obi-Wan directly.

The other professor’s sharp blue eyes were hard with some emotion Obi-Wan couldn’t define—or didn’t wish to—and the look on his face was one Obi-Wan had seen Jinn wear when performing a particularly complicated feat of transfiguration. His heart thumped awkwardly in his chest, realising that he was the subject of that look now.

“Oh?” Obi-Wan questioned; a polite challenge to Jinn’s words audible in his voice.

Jinn stepped closer—close enough Obi-Wan could feel the heat radiating from the other professor in the cold air—stopping less than a foot from Obi-Wan; his greater height making him loom over Obi-Wan like a wall of heat. He fought the urge to step into it.

“You have a knack for teaching Kenobi,” Jinn said, voice quiet but firm with conviction, head tilted down so he could fix his gaze on Obi-Wan’s face. “Your travels may have enabled you to better teach your students, but I don’t believe for a moment that you would have been anything other than confident and capable regardless of whether you travelled the world and fell into Lethifold nests or not.” Jinn’s lip quirked in a slight smile.

Obi-Wan felt as though he’d been hit with a stunner right to the chest.

“Well, perhaps I could have done without the Lethifold experience in an ideal world?” Obi-Wan quipped, amazed to see Jinn’s eyes light up with amusement, a soft huff of breath that ruffled Obi-Wan’s hair with how close Jinn was standing.

Would wonders never cease?

He couldn’t help but smile up at the other professor, feeling himself leaning forward slightly, almost instinctively.

“Indeed, though Filius certainly found the tale amusing,” Jinn commented, lips quirking up into an honest to the gods’ smile.

Obi-Wan swallowed, throat dry. Merlin, what was wrong with him?

“Flitwick enjoys most of the stories I have to tell him,” Obi-Wan said, eyes locked with Jinn’s. He felt like he couldn’t look away and he didn’t understand why. “Apparently I remind him of a previous professor with a penchant for DADA.”

“Ah.” Jinn’s gaze darkened with a quiet grief that Obi-Wan recognised. “Lupin.”

Obi-Wan nodded, stepping forward and forcing Jinn to turn and continue walking beside him. “He was a good man.”

“Did you know him?” Jinn asked.

Obi-Wan smiled.

“He and his friends, uh… took me under their wing, near the end of my first year after I attempted to curse a fellow housemate who was bullying a fourth year Muggleborn,” Obi-Wan explained somewhat ruefully. “There is something to be said for becoming the mascot for the House your own is supposedly the enemy of.”

Jinn laughed. “Now that sounds like something your class would enjoy hearing about.”

Obi-Wan grinned.

“Oh I’m sure they would,” he agreed, shaking his head with amusement. “But I think the Headmistress might actually murder me if that story led to others more… prankish in nature.”

“Hmm,” Jinn nodded in agreement. “The current generation have quiet enough pranking material thanks to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. I doubt they need more.”

“Definitely not,” Obi-Wan laughed softly. “I like my classroom prank free, for the most part.”

“So that’s why Minerva mentioned pranks in your third year hmm,” Jinn said, smirking at Obi-Wan; the smirk growing wider as Obi-Wan blushed.

“Oh Merlin!” Obi-Wan groaned, feeling his cheeks burn in the cold air. “I forgot she mentioned that!”

Jinn laughed, a long, loud sound that echoed in the quiet around them.

Obi-Wan found himself completely captivated by the sound. By how unrestrained it was. Jinn’s laughter was like the warmth of a fire after being outside in the cold for hours.

He opened his mouth, reading to say something else—something to make Jinn laugh again—but before he could Obi-Wan felt a jarring shift in the air.

His wards had been tripped.

Perhaps it was the look on his face, but Jinn was watching him with a wary alertness Obi-Wan recognised from his time as a student when the Dark Lord had been growing in strength and popularity.

“What is it?” Jinn asked as Obi-Wan drew his wand, marching purposefully across the snow-covered ground.

“I placed wards around Hogsmeade,” Obi-Wan replied, covering the distance between the forest and the first row of shop fronts in moments—Jinn following quickly behind. “Someone has just apparated inside the wards.”

“They could be visiting a friend?” Jinn pointed out, though he had also drawn his wand. “Ministry wards don’t filter out friendlies from non-friendlies.”

Obi-Wan snorted.

“My wards,” he said, “are not the standard brand that the Ministry tosses out when there has been enough demand for action that they have to finally do something.” Stopping suddenly, Obi-Wan looked over his shoulder at Jinn, giving him a sharp grin. “My wards are based on wards used by Persian families in Iran. A delightful woman and her husband showed me their set up, and their son helped me create new ones that would work outside the area.”

They came to a stop in a small cut-through between two shopfronts, Jinn crowding behind Obi-Wan who peaked his head out of the cut-through. He frowned for a moment at what he could see before leaning back and glancing at Jinn.

“You are definitely going to explain how you managed to create entirely new wards Kenobi,” Jinn near-growled and Obi-Wan’s grin widened. “After we’ve dealt with whatever is out there.”

“But of course professor Jinn,” Obi-Wan said congenially, even as he stepped out from where they’d been standing between two shopfronts. He spun on his heel, wand already flicking out with a half-formed spell, as he dodged a flash of red light. “But later. I do believe there’s a mad Death Eater trying to attack our students over there.”

Obi-Wan heard Jinn curse as he danced across the street, dodging another jet of light nimbly, turning on his heel and ducking a second that followed after it.

Ahead of him he could see a Death Eater, with three students surrounding them; shouting loud enough for everyone to hear. There were several homes nearby, each warded by the owners, and Obi-Wan could see in the windows that their owners were inside; watching underage students fight a Death Eater. He felt like cursing them, but there were more pressing matters to attend to.

Obi-Wan’s gaze narrowed for a moment, noticing how the students were holding their own but looked tired.

That wouldn’t do.

Obi-Wan raced up the street, throwing a casual stunner at the Death Eater—not even concerned when they blocked it—to distract them even as he cast another spell. This one not in any familiar language to anyone around.

It would mean it would be all but impossible to destroy unless he died, which he had absolutely no intention of doing anytime soon. Acting almost on instinct, Obi-Wan fell back on tried-and-tested spells he’d used for years in Africa, the Swahili a familiar language and easy for him to use for magical intent.

Ngao!” Obi-Wan shouted, haphazardly waving his wand in the direction of the three students, distantly aware of their surprised shouts when a thick golden shield formed around them.

His attention turned entirely to the Death Eater now focusing on him.

“You know, you really shouldn’t pick on kids less than half your age just because you can’t beat anyone your own age,” Obi-Wan commented dryly, flicking his wand idly when the Death Eater snarled and shot another beam of red light at him.

The beam was deflected harmlessly into the ground—where it then blew apart a sizable chunk of frozen dirt.

With a sharp downward slashing motion, Obi-Wan cried out a Zulu word he’d used once against a pack of hyenas one night on the Serengeti— “zawula!” —and watched as the Death Eater cried out; a long slice appearing through their robes and cutting along their wand arm deep enough that Obi-Wan could smell the tang of iron melding with the cold sharpness of the winter air.

A blue beam shot at the Death Eater from behind Obi-Wan and he turned his head just enough to see Jinn skidding to a halt a few feet to his right, wand out and panting slightly but looking no less ready to fight.

“Nice of you to join us professor Jinn,” Obi-Wan greeted casually, nodding his head to the side which Jinn returned.

“I couldn’t let you have all the fun now professor Kenobi,” Jinn replied, gaze sharp and fixed on the Death Eater that was watching them warily. “I do believe the Auror’s are on their way. A seventh year was nice enough as to firecall the Ministry for us.”

Obi-Wan grinned.

“Oh, excellent,” he said, all teeth and sharp predatory instinct coursing beneath his skin. He pushed it back only enough that he could cast spells, but otherwise Obi-Wan allowed the instincts he’d honed on the savannah and in the jungles of South America to rise and make his movements a mixture of grace and lethal intent.

He blocked a stunner thrown his way by the Death Eater who chose to follow it up with a curse, aiming at Obi-Wan with a snarl in his voice. “Interficiam aperta!

Leaping aside, Obi-Wan turned mid-air, his sharp gaze taking in the way the black smoke the Death Eater had conjured sliced a deep gouge in the frozen earth where he’d been standing. He didn’t give it more than a cursory glance, but had he been slower he’d have been bleeding out from the force and intent of the curse—likely would have gasped his last breath staring up at snowy clouds with weak sunlight breaking through them in patches.

Landing nimbly on the balls of his feet, knees bending slightly to absorb the impact, Obi-Wan saw Jinn let out a sharp cry, a blazingly bright red beam shooting from his wand and hitting the Death Eater in the arm when they failed to move fast enough. He followed Jinn’s spell with one of his favoured spells, wand weaving gracefully through the air with a speed most spell-casters couldn’t hope to match; the Swahili slipping off his tongue with practised ease.

Kuzuia!

Thin silver cords that moved like living snakes shot from his wand, coiling around the Death Eater. Obi-Wan smirked, eyes glittering, sparking with a hazy blend of blue-green, as he followed up with another spell—this time one of the Maori spells he’d learnt from a freelancing magic-user ten years ago.

Whakatio!

The Death Eater froze where they stood, wand slipping from between frozen fingers, falling to the hard-packed earth with a muted thump that had Obi-Wan’s eyes brighten with predatory intent. Obi-Wan grinned darkly at the Death Eater—pale blue eyes peeking out from behind the mask they wore wide with fear. He felt Jinn moving behind him, almost as though he were something Obi-Wan’s instincts needed to keep track of in a way he couldn’t quite understand, but he ignored the low-level urge to turn and look at the other professor as he switched from Maori to Gaelic Irish.

Oscailte cré.”

He moved his ward in a smooth circular arc, emphasising his words as he did so with a particularly dramatic flourish he would never have bothered with usually. His instincts however were near roaring at him to show off a little—or a lot—and Obi-Wan found it easier to just go with them than grapple with them when his desire to protect was flaring up in tandem.

The Death Eater yelped—able to speak even though their body was frozen—as the ground beneath them suddenly opened up in a perfect circle. They fell straight down for about half a foot before coming to a jarring halt, letting out a sharp cry as their frozen body fell against the side of the circular hole.

Jinn moved closer to the Death Eater, wand focused on them in a threatening manner, but he was watching Obi-Wan with a wide-eyed gaze.

The last spell Obi-Wan cast, he murmured quietly, too quiet for anyone to hear—again in Gaelic Irish. “Fáinne na tine.”

He pointed directly at the ground in front of the Death Eater, watching with a sort of satisfied pleasure as the ground erupted in flames that ringed the hole the Death Eater was trapped within.

“I don’t think you’ll be trying your luck with all of that now, do you?” Obi-Wan quipped, lowering his wand and glancing at Jinn. “It would be such a bad idea if they tried after all.”

The students behind Obi-Wan, still behind the golden shield he’d erected, cheered and he turned to face them, wand lowered from the defensive position to rest idly in a still firm grip.

“Ten points to all of you for defending yourselves from an attack,” Obi-Wan said, smiling at them, even as he cast the counter for the shield non-verbally—more than aware of Jinn’s interest and mild surprise. “However,” he continued, watching as the students paused to look at him, “you all have detention for actually engaging with a Death Eater in the first place.”

One of the students groaned as another puffed up their chest. “If we hadn’t done anything then they’d have still attacked us!”

Obi-Wan nodded. “Yes they would have,” he agreed calmly. “But a Shield Charm, like protego duo, is more than enough when cast by two people to give you enough time to find cover. I would prefer you to focus on defensive magic first; especially against an opponent who intends to kill or seriously harm you.”

Jinn came up behind Obi-Wan—wand still pointed at the Death Eater who, at this point, was cursing Obi-Wan and promising him suffering in a variety of ways that had Obi-Wan rolling his eyes at the senseless dramatics. He waved his wand almost lazily, non-verbally silencing the Death Eater who glared at him from behind the mask they war. Jinn, eyebrow still raised at Obi-Wan’s silencing of the Death Eater, turned and fixed the students with a deep stare.

“Professor Kenobi is right,” Jinn said, his voice deep and brokering no room for argument. “We are proud of you for defending yourselves, but you are young and shouldn’t have to be defending yourselves in the first place. We would prefer you think of your safety first; protect yourselves and get away, rather than remain and fight against a foe who doesn’t care that you are children. It is our duty to protect you, so please, let us worry and protect you the best we can.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself professor!” A loud voice exclaimed in the quiet of the street.

Obi-Wan spun on his heel, wand raised, tip glowing with a half-formed spell before he realised—

“Auror Shacklebolt,” Obi-Wan greeted the other wizard who strode across the street out of the Three Broomsticks, a smooth smile on his face as he looked at the Auror who grinned at them. “I see you decided to Floo here instead of Apparate.”

Shacklebolt laughed, voice deep and rich—a pleasant sound in the wake of the short-lived conflict with the Death Eater. “The wards are designed to stop apparition within the confines of the village professor! Floo is about the only way of getting here quick enough unless you’re willing to Apparate in the middle of the forest outside the village.”

Obi-Wan’s lip curled into a smile.

“I assume the others have done just that?” Jinn guessed, watching Shacklebolt move towards the bound Death Eater, his wand drawn and affixed on the Death Eater whose gaze locked onto the Auror.

Shacklebolt grinned, a particular ferocity to the grin that had both professors tensing subconsciously.

“Ah.” Obi-Wan breathed, freezing mid-motion, head partially tilted to the side as though he’d been listening to something, as he felt the tip of a wand placed between his shoulders press lightly through his robes. “It’s not usually possible for a Disillusionment Charm to trick me,” he commented, even as the wand tip disappeared and someone stepped up beside him.

“Good thing it’s not a Disillusionment Charm then,” a wry voice said over the sound of crunching snow as they moved to stand beside Obi-Wan—obviously having removed the silencing spell they’d cast on themselves. He looked at the young man standing beside him, taking in the sight of a cloak now wrapped up and slung over his arm with an amused look on his face.

Jet black hair. Sharp green eyes. Light brown skin. A smirk that just asked for someone to give them an opening to snark back at. Oh Obi-Wan knew who this was.

“It’s nice to know you have more of your mother’s sense than your father’s mister Potter,” Obi-Wan commented, smiling at the young man who stared at him in evident surprise. “I knew your parents, and their… friends.”

Jinn made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a snort.

Obi-Wan pointedly ignored him.

“I remember you now!” Shacklebolt exclaimed, grinning widely and showing off gleaming white teeth. “Ben Kenobi!”

Obi-Wan nodded. “That’s me,” he said with a small smile as the Auror laughed again.

“Ah Kenobi,” Shacklebolt sighed, shaking his head in amusement. “The Slytherin that was adopted by the Marauders.”

“You were a Slytherin?” Potter asked, frowning slightly. Obi-Wan figured he knew why—for all that Rita Skeeta was a loathsome individual, even her most outrageous stories had some element of truth to them.

“One of the only Slytherin’s your father and his friends actually liked yes,” Obi-Wan answered. “I was a first year and they took a liking to me for… acts of chivalry.”

Jinn laughed.

The look on Potter’s face made it obvious that he didn’t believe Obi-Wan’s description. The snort Shacklebolt let out didn’t help either.

“What he’s saying in his polite Slytherin way, Harry—” Shacklebolt cut in, still grinning widely even as Obi-Wan rolled his eyes, “—is that your father and Black came across this tiny Slytherin first year absolutely ruining one of his housemates with whatever he could manage, for bullying a fourth year muggleborn.”

“Wow.” The look on Potter’s face was a mix between amazement and amusement, but there was respect there as well. “Who was the other Slytherin?”

Obi-Wan sighed—well-aware of what Potter’s reaction was going to be. “Snape.”

Shacklebolt laughed at the look on Potter’s face. Pure shock made his eyes widen and Obi-Wan noticed the way the green was the perfect shade that Lily’s had been. Merlin

“That’s not very nice professor,” Potter quipped even as Jinn coughed out another laugh. “Fighting is frowned upon at Hogwarts.”

Obi-Wan glared at the younger man who grinned unrepentantly. “You’re worse than your father,” he grumbled, noticing how Potter’s eyes lit up at the comment. “I’ll tell you some stories about him that the Marauders would never have willingly shared,” he promised, voice noticeably softer.

“Why wouldn’t they have told me?” Potter asked, brow furrowing in confusion and Obi-Wan grinned sharply.

“Who wants to talk about the times when pranks go wrong and backfire on you?” Obi-Wan countered, grin widening as Potter blinked and grinned himself.

“Deal professor,” Potter said. “But after we’ve dealt with this,” he added, jerking his head in the direction of the Death Eater, Shacklebolt had levitated out of the hole Obi-Wan had dropped him into.

“Obi-Wan or Kenobi,” Obi-Wan said, holding out a hand for Potter to shake. “None of this ‘professor’ nonsense.”

Potter’s grin faded into a soft smile, crinkles around his eyes as he gripped Obi-Wan’s proffered hand. “Harry.”

“Nice to meet you at last Harry,” Obi-Wan said, eyes sparking with joy. “It’s an honour to meet the son of a Marauder and Lily.”

Jinn, to Obi-Wan’s side shifted on his feet, almost awkwardly. Or impatiently, Obi-Wan wasn’t quite sure. His focus was on the young man who he’d never had the chance to meet.

But there was a niggling feeling in the back of Obi-Wan’s mind, and an itching sensation running up his right arm, that distracted him from the joy of the moment.

Chapter Text

The Great Hall was abuzz. Students muttering to each other, throwing charmed paper-planes across the hall to different groups; information sharing at its best.

Obi-Wan even picked out a particularly well-made origami crane flying elegantly from a group of Ravenclaws to a gang of Hufflepuffs.

He gave them points for creativity but took points for what they were gossiping about however.

“Did you hear about that attack in Hogsmeade?”

Sighing, he leaned back into his chair, shoulders pressing back against the hard wooden frame. If there ever came a single term where Obi-Wan wasn’t gossiped about by the student body, he imagined he might actually die from the surprise of it all. He couldn’t understand what there was to even talk about.

“Reynolds from Gryffindor was in the thick of it! Told me everything!”

He was a teacher.

A teacher in his thirties who was completely unremarkable.

“So professor Kenobi just happened to show up with professor Jinn in time to fight that Death Eater?”

It wasn’t like he’d done something otherworldly protecting his students from a deranged Death Eater—from a disgraced family no less—and Obi-Wan honestly had no time to navigate the chitter-chatter about his actions in Hogsmeade.

Unfortunately, it was apparent that he was going to have to do that regardless.

“Yep, gotta wonder what they were doing that they showed up at the same time right?”

Spearing a sausage with his fork, Obi-Wan couldn’t help but find it all darkly amusing. He should have stayed in Africa.

“I thought teachers were meant to patrol separately in Hogsmeade?”

At least he only had to deal with hyena’s laughing at him in the early evening.

“They are. Weird that they weren’t though.”

Although, perhaps he was surrounded by hyena’s here so the effect was essentially the same regardless of the different venue. The student body was notorious for spreading rumours with only a smidge of truth to them—Obi-Wan himself was guilty of spreading rumours in his time as a student so, really, this was probably some form of karma.

Especially considering half the rumours revolved around his interaction with Jinn.

“Wonder what they were doing then?”

“I have some ideas ha.”

Detention. Detention for all of them. Obi-Wan thought savagely. He’d introduce to them to some of his less-than-enjoyable detention plans. Maybe something to do with researching the frankly confusing development of magic in the first civilisations using his hodge-podge of notes and stored interviews from around the world…

He smirked down at his plate. Oh yes. That’d do nicely.

“Professor Kenobi?”

Obi-Wan blinked, startling slightly at the sound of someone talking to him. Turning, Obi-Wan’s brain registered that the voice of the person talking to him was familiar. In fact, it was—

“Professor Jinn,” Obi-Wan nodded, a strained smile gracing his features for a moment. Internally he felt like he had a pack of lionesses ringed around his heart; herding and swiping at it, trying to panic it beyond reason.

It was working well.

He cleared his throat, back straightening slightly and Obi-Wan forced himself to calm as he watched Jinn sit down graciously in the seat next to him.

Transfiguration and DADA professors did not sit together. Usually Filius was between them.

And Trelawney, but the less said about the Divination professor the better. Especially since she rarely left her tower to dine with those who lacked foresight—though Obi-Wan recalled the rather spectacular time she had seen him in his final year, a long long time ago, and prattled on about his third-eye being open and deciding the fate of thousands

He much preferred her absence most days but the sudden wish for her to be sat next to him, chattering away about portents of doom and how his hair colour was obviously a sign that he was fated to suffer—well. It would have been less problematic to deal with right now.

Obi-Wan felt the change in the Great Hall, students quietening as they stared in apparent fascination at two of their professors—well-known to be competitive and each other’s primary opponents in pretty much every area, including their respective disciplines—sat together in what looked to be amiable politeness.

He could almost see the lightbulb explosion going off over the heads of the most gossip-obsessed students.

Fuck.

“What can I do for your professor Jinn?” Obi-Wan asked politely, aware that he’d fallen strongly back on the polite facade after the Hogsmeade Incident. He paused, looking pointedly at the seat Jinn was sat in. “I think Filius is held up with a student at the moment but I daresay he may appear soon enough to reclaim his seat.”

Jinn’s lips quirked in a small smirk and Obi-Wan swallowed, forever thankful that his auburn-copper beard hid much of his throat from sight. Jinn had absolutely no need to see the effect he had on Obi-Wan. Nor, Obi-Wan thought, did he wish to see the effect Jinn had on him in full view of the student body.

That would spell his utter doom as a teacher.

“Filius is in a private luncheon with the headmistress actually,” Jinn corrected and Obi-Wan felt like glaring simply for the sake of it, “he told me it was a last minute thing; apparently a previous student has visited unannounced and Minerva wished to… avoid the inevitable gossiping of the students were they to be present in the Great Hall.”

Damn it.

Obi-Wan bowed his head in acceptance of Jinn’s words. “Then I believe you’re safe from retribution for chair theft professor Jinn,” he said with an amused glaze to his words that he hardly felt.

If anything Obi-Wan felt like cursing; lamenting his luck that someone would visit now and cause this chaos. And honestly, who could visit the school and cause such a ruckus

“Did you happen to learn who this ex-student is by any chance?” Obi-Wan asked politely, already drawing conclusions as he considered the possibilities. There were a fair number of ex-students from the time of the Battle that would cause quite a stir in the school, but Obi-Wan doubted most of them would be rewarded with a private luncheon with McGonagall. An exasperated sigh and a look of long-suffering, yes; most certainly. But private meals were reserved for more… popular individuals. The Minister of Magic rarely received such an honour, Obi-Wan recalled with amusement.

The last time the current Minister—a man Obi-Wan could see was going to be replaced come the next election cycle—had arrived at the school, the look McGonagall had given him had served to cheer Obi-Wan for months.

There was nothing quite like seeing one of his favourite professors disparaging one of the most powerful men in magical Britain like he was nothing but a particularly troublesome first year.

Obi-Wan wondered, for a brief moment, why Kingsley had refused the position after being appointed to the office after the Dark Lord’s defeat. He’d ask him the next time they spoke. Perhaps he’d visit the Ministry soon; drop by unannounced for a brief visit…

The sudden frown that graced Jinn’s handsome features at Obi-Wan’s query was a surprise. The fact that it lingered long enough for some of the students closest to the professors’ table to notice even more so. Jinn was usually quite skilled at hiding his feelings on a matter, to a point where it made arguing with the transfiguration professor a singularly entertaining experience if Obi-Wan could irritate the man beyond the point of restraint.

Obi-Wan knew that his fifth year class still spoke in hushed whispers about the time Jinn had stormed into his classroom one day, and proceeded to verbally flay Obi-Wan for pretty much everything the older professor could think of in less than three minutes.

They also spoke in hushed whispers of the response Obi-Wan had provided Jinn and the rather abrupt end to their class when they’d both fallen back to cursing in their respective forms of Gaelic tongue.

The prefect who had fetched McGonagall however was sworn to absolute secrecy on how their argument had ended—for which Obi-Wan was supremely thankful. He hadn’t had a dressing down like the one McGonagall had given them both in almost twenty years.

It had been both hilarious and humiliating.

Especially when Minerva had fixed him with a look and spoken to him in Scottish Gaelic—something Obi-Wan was aware Jinn didn’t speak—and proceeded to treat him like a disappointed parent who had caught their favoured child misbehaving.

Mortified was perhaps a better term to describe how he’d felt afterward.

“No, but I can make an educated guess as to who it is,” Jinn replied, an edge to his words that Obi-Wan found confusing.

What was it about this ex-student that irritated Jinn so?

He gave Jinn an expectant look, raising an eyebrow when Jinn ignored him and instead focused on the food on his plate.

Obi-Wan frowned, watching the other professor with a sharpness to his gaze. Out of the corner of his eye, Obi-Wan noticed one of the students on the Gryffindor table pull out a camera from their bag and snap a shot of them—of him staring at Jinn.

He made a mental note to make sure none of the images the student inevitably created would be around for long. Amazo had shared with him a nifty little finder spell that no one in the magical first world would know when he’d ventured past the desert lands of Africa—it would be particularly useful if he combined it with the rune-spell Melkco had shown him in the humid heat of the Mexican summer in the Mayan city of Kaminaljuyu in southern Guatemala.

Neither of the places were accessible to muggles, nor to most wizards, but Obi-Wan’s wandering ways had apparently been the source of some gossip among the travelling nomads who ventured across the world; never staying in one place too long, and always ready and willing to share knowledge, magic and culture with whoever was willing to listen.

The first time Obi-Wan had discovered he was the subject of rumour, in a small village in Northern China, he’d had a hard time believing his actions were important enough for people to talk about. More than fifteen years later and he still had problems accepting that he was worthy of any sort of speculation by others.

“Care to share your educated guess professor Jinn, or is that not for the rest of the class to know?” Obi-Wan finally asked, careful to keep his words light even though he couldn’t hide the pointed edge to his question. The way Jinn blinked in surprise was a clear enough indicator that the other professor had picked up on Obi-Wan’s ire, however politely obscured it was.

Jinn looked at him, an unreadable expression on his face; lips pursed, eyes carefully blank.

Obi-Wan found it to be singularly frustrating.

“My apologies,” Jinn murmured, inclining his head slightly, “I afraid I’m a little distracted today.”

Obi-Wan blinked.

Did– did Jinn sound apologetic? Literally apologetic, as though he legitimately regretted not telling Obi-Wan who he thought this celebrity was? Celebrity…

Ah.

Obi-Wan shook his head ruefully. Idiot. He was an absolute idiot.

Not only did Jinn look legitimately distracted—Obi-Wan finally noticed that the other professor’s hair was bound in a messy tail, some of it looking as though he’d had Bowtruckles trying to burrow into the long strands—but he also finally realised who it likely was up in McGonagall’s office.

He had the strongest urge to reassure Jinn, a sort of insistent desire to sooth whatever disturbed the other professor.

His wrist itched.

“It’s fine,” Obi-Wan said, voice noticeably softer and Jinn’s head snapped up, his sharp grey-blue eyes locking with Obi-Wan’s green-blue. There was an intensity to those eyes that near stole Obi-Wan’s breath away. “We all have bad days.”

Jinn stared at him for a long moment—gaze all but impossible to discern, emotion clear in his stormy blue eyes but Obi-Wan had no idea what those emotions meant—before he smiled ruefully.

“Aye indeed,” he agreed, tired warmth in his voice and Obi-Wan’s lips quirked up into a slight smile, eyes a bit brighter than they had been before.

The itch disappeared.

“I’m going to guess it’s Harry who’s showed up unannounced though and the headmistress is trying to avoid the ruckus his presence would stir up if the students’ discovered he was here?” Obi-Wan half-stated, half-asked, amused and exasperated at the same time.

He sighed. “It would have been nice had she perhaps informed the rest of the staff—”

Jinn snorted, causing Obi-Wan to stop mid-sentence.

“Minerva was always of the habit of ensuring everyone else stuck to the rules, but she rarely stuck to them herself if she could get away with it; it’s nice to know that trait hasn’t been diminished in the slightest by her decades of teaching,” Jinn said, giving Obi-Wan a half-smile, voice dry with humour.

Obi-Wan laughed.

“I remember how she was when I was a student, so I can wholeheartedly agree with you professor Jinn,” Obi-Wan said, grinning slightly as he speared a particularly rebellious potato with his fork.

‘The House Elves have really outdone themselves with the food this year,’ Obi-Wan thought, chewing slowly and enjoying the gentle bloom of herbs on his tongue from the seasoning the roast potatoes had been cooked in. ‘Definitely outdone themselves.’

“Qui-Gon.”

Obi-Wan’s head jerked up, eyes wide in surprise as he looked at Jinn who was watching him with an intense look on his face.

“My first name. We’ve worked together for over a year and a half now, you can call me Qui-Gon.” Jinn—Qui-Gon—continued, smiling. “Unless you’d rather not?”

No! No, no,” Obi-Wan exclaimed, eyebrows raised as he fumbled with his fork in a suddenly unsteady grip. “I– Of course, uh—” he cleared his throat, pointedly calming himself “—that’d be fine; great even. Qui-Gon.”

Jinn—Qui-Gon—huffed out an amused breath and Obi-Wan resisted the urge to scowl. Merlin but he was an idiot.

“I suppose you should call me ‘Obi-Wan’ then, since we’re apparently finally dropping the excessive formalities,” Obi-Wan said, grinning at Qui-Gon. “Seems only fair.”

Qui-Gon’s smile widened as he tilted his head in acknowledgement. “Indeed it does, Obi-Wan.”

 

*  *  * 

 

When civilisation began in the heart of Africa, magic did not begin with it. All the stories that Obi-Wan had read in the Library at Hogwarts, heard from his father as a child, they all suggested that magic began—and ended—with man. With humans.

But the truth was that magic existed long before humans and Obi-Wan knew it would exist long after.

The human magic that was so prevalent across the world nowadays was a specific type of magic; originating in the core of a person at the point that muggle philosophers had termed 'the soul'. This soul contained the essence of human magic; an internalisation of energy conversion that resulted in the generation of a power source that some humans developed the ability to tap into.

The first wizards in human history tapped into their magic for the first time when they were in mortal danger. And when they did, they were seen in some places as gods; others as monsters.

Obi-Wan had listened with open amazement to the story of the first wizard—the shaman patiently allowing Obi-Wan the time to translate his words and write them down.

"He was a young boy," the shaman had told him, staring out across the grassy plains, "barely old enough to be a man. He went out hunting for his family after a bad summer drought killed their crops. And he found himself hunted."

Hunted by a pride of lions. The hunter had become the hunted.

"The boy thought he was going to die," the shaman had looked at Obi-Wan with a heavy, aged and wise gaze. "But he was not going to die without fighting. He had a spear and a knife. The lions had their teeth and claws and the grass to hide in. He knew he was out matched."

"His uchawi came to his aid—" the shaman had smiled then, eyes bright “—made him strong and fast. When a Lion jumped at him from behind he turned and was not there anymore! He was behind the Lion with his spear ready! The boy became a man that day. With uchawi."

The story went that, after returning to his home, the boy convinced his friends and their fathers to come with him; back to where the lions now lay dead. They saw the wounds on the lions; the pride slayed by the boy.

They called him a mighty warrior.

In secret the boy practised with his newfound power. Learning all the ways he could to channel it. He took to carrying a staff with a spear point tip made of wood from an acacia tree he had seen strange little insects crawling over. Insects only he had seen.

In the end the boy became the protector of the village and when men came from another tribe, he fought with his uchawi inside and his spear burned all it struck.

But some of those who attacked had uchawi within them too, that they could touch as well. And the boy's actions awoke it in them.

They learnt uchawi themselves. But they were angry and bitter. They did not learn to listen to the wind, or whisper to the snakes in the grass. They learnt how to cut and tear and burn.

When they returned to the boy's village again, they brought their uchawi with them. And the boy was only one. Still young but now a man and protector. The wise one who listened to the wind and could charm the animals who came to the village.

But he could not fight them all.

The village burned.

The boy fled.

"What happened to him?" Obi-Wan had asked the shaman when the old man had fallen silent; the plains quiet, a pale echo of the sadness the tale held. "Where did he go?"

The shaman shrugged.

"It is said he was so saddened by the loss of his village, so shamed by his failure to protect it, that he ran out into the wilds and became another creature on the plains," the shaman answered, looking at Obi-Wan with a knowing gaze, "his uchawi hid him from his human pain and he became a fox."

The first animagus. Long before Falco Aesalon. Long before the rise of Greece and Rome in Europe.

"The first animagus is recorded as being from Ancient Greece," he had told the shaman who had thrown his head back and laughed.

"Your whiteman uchawi in your whiteman lands," the shaman had explained with a grin that showed white teeth, "is all that you care about. My uchawi—the uchawi of my land, of my people—is the uchawi that your ancestors banned long ago when we were slaves to you. Kichawi and zisizo-kichawi. Our history is not your history because your history is white."

Obi-Wan could still remember how angry he'd been—though not at the shaman's words for they were true. No… he had been so angry at so much being lost for stupid reasons. And still being ignored!

So he had settled down in Africa only days after his talk with the shaman, intending to tell the story of magic that had been forgotten by Europe and America. It was knowledge that needed to be known.

It was a history that would be acknowledged and remembered. Obi-Wan was going to make sure of that.

 

*  *  * 

 

“Professor.”

Obi-Wan turned around on his heel, eyebrow raised as he looked at the fifth year prefect peeking through the door to the classroom. “Yes?”

“The headmistress is asking for you to go to the staffroom sir,” the prefect said and Obi-Wan bit back a sigh. “She says it’s important.”

“Very well.” Obi-Wan looked at his wristwatch, gaze flittering up and around the class of sixth years. “Since there’s only ten minutes of class time left, I’ll let you go early; but—” he raised a hand as several students laughed and high-fived each other “—I want a foot of parchment from each of you covering the topics we’ve discussed today in class. For anyone who wants to gain extra credit, write another foot on one of the topics we haven’t discussed, detailing specific strengths and/or weaknesses of particular magical defences or creatures. It’ll be due in by next Friday. Dismissed.”

The students scrambled to leave the classroom—many of them hoping to avoid the evening class rush down to the Great Hall that always happened on a Friday afternoon. Especially when Peeves was active and had a supply of water balloons at his disposal.

Obi-Wan sighed in amusement, the prefect having disappeared with his class—likely getting in an early lunch as well since fifth years had an atrocious schedule on the best of days—leaving him to head to the staffroom alone. A quick wave of his wand cleared the board of his notations; another the relative chaos on his desk from loose sheets of parchment and rolled up essays—some marked, others collected today and so awaiting his red ink scrawl—as he swept out of the room, robes billowing behind him.

‘What could Minerva want that’s so important I had to finish my class early?’ Obi-Wan wondered as he dodged out of the way of a gaggle of students—mostly Hufflepuffs heading in the opposite direction—on the way to the staffroom. ‘Oh I hope a student hasn’t tried to bring in another dozen Porlocks to try and get them to bond to the Thestrals. Hagrid was a nightmare.’

“Not quite as bad as the Knarls though,” Obi-Wan muttered to himself, taking the last set of stairs two at a time. Striding down the corridor to the staffroom.

Opening the door to the staffroom, Obi-Wan just stared.

“Dannae jist stan there Obi-Wan!” The concern in Minerva’s continued voice thickened her brogue to a point where most wouldn’t be able to understand her, but Obi-Wan had the advantage of being as Scottish as the headmistress.

It still took him a moment to really process what he was seeing.

“Whit th’ hell hap’ened?” Obi-Wan asked, hurrying across the room to kneel next to where Minerva continued was kneeling next to Jinn—Qui-Gon—lain out on the sofa that Obi-Wan figured had been a chair until Minerva continued got near it. “Is tha’ a bite?

“Aye, an a nasty one at tha’—Rubeus hasn’t seen one like it before,” Minerva continued replied quietly, voice pitched low now that Obi-Wan was beside her.

“He isn’ conscious is he?” Obi-Wan asked, already checking Qui-Gon’s pulse and checking his pupil dilation. “Nope. Tha’s not good.”

“There’s a poison tha’ we cannae identify, Poppy is thinkin’ of flooing Mungo’s,” Minerva continued, glancing at Obi-Wan and he was shocked at how worn she looked. “She thinks it may be a dark cre’ture a studen’ smuggled in.”

Obi-Wan frowned—absently noting the itch in his wrist—and reached out to probe the puncture wounds on the side of Qui-Gon’s neck. Drawing his wand, he cast a spell in Latin, hoping it would work. “Egritudo morbo.”

Minerva let out a surprised sound as a smoky shape billowed out of Obi-Wan’s wand, twisting and coiling in the air—a static-hiss erupting from the shape that had the hair on Obi-Wan’s neck stand on end.

“I dannae think he was a’tacked by a dark cre’ture Minerva,” Obi-Wan said, slashing his wand sharply. He looked at the headmistress, a spark of anger in his grey eyes. “I think he was a’tacked by a venomous snake from th’ amazon. Muggles put ‘em in zoos.”

“Can its venom be treat’d with magic?”

Obi-Wan smiled, nodding. “Aye. Muggles use anti-venoms t’ treat bites; we can do a wee bit bet’er however.”

The door to the staffroom burst open, Poppy and the potions master—Heracles—hurrying into the room. Obi-Wan immediately zeroed in on Heracles.

“Can ye make an anti-venom potion if I ge’ ye the venom ye’ll be counterin’?” Obi-Wan asked.

“What?” Heracles exclaimed, staring at Obi-Wan as though he were talking gibberish.

Fucking fuck. Stupid damned fucking accent.

Snorting out an annoyed breath, Obi-Wan consciously forced his accent back to the understandable, comprehendible accent he’d adopted since his teenage years. “I said: can you make an anti-venom potion if I get you the venom you’ll need to counter?”

Heracles blinked and Obi-Wan could almost see his thoughts on Obi-Wan’s original accent, but the potions master ploughed on, nodding sharply. “Yes.”

“Poppy—” Obi-Wan turned to look at the mediwitch kneeling beside Qui-Gon “—Mungo’s can’t treat this without venom from the correct snake, and since it’s a muggle snake they won’t have a sample of it for a potion. I do have a sample. Keep him alive long enough for Heracles to make the damned thing and I’ll do the rest.”

“The rest?” Minerva asked—her own accent curbed again to an understandable lilt—as she conjured a blanket and laid it over Qui-Gon’s long frame. “What do you mean Obi-Wan?”

“He’ll need a mandatory seventy-two hour watch to make sure the potion did its job,” Obi-Wan replied, already moving toward the door; Heracles following briskly behind him. “It’ll take ten minutes for the potion to accept the venom. Keep him alive for fifteen. Fluids and warmth—his body is going into shock from the venom.”

Whatever Poppy was about to say to Obi-Wan’s orders about her patient was lost to the door as it shut behind Heracles. Obi-Wan found that he didn’t care. So long as Jinn lived he didn’t give very much care for anything.

“I’ll meet you at your office Heracles,” Obi-Wan said, hurrying down the stairs—shoes clattering loudly on the stone steps. “Two minutes.”

“I’ll have the potion brewing and ready for the venom Kenobi!” Heracles called, already two flights down on the opposite set of steps to Obi-Wan. “And maybe after this you’ll show me what other samples you have in your collection!”

Obi-Wan grimaced as he broke into a run, barrelling down the corridors—he was inordinately thankful that the students were now enjoying their dinner else he would have been dodging students left and right.

‘Please don’t let him die,’ he thought desperately. ‘Dear gods please don’t let him die.’

It took them three minutes to reach the potions lab, a further two minutes to add the sample Obi-Wan had grabbed from his office before high-tailing it down to Heracles' rooms, and then six agonising minutes of running up staircases that chose the worst moments to shift. By the time they reached the corridor with the staffroom on it, both of them were exhausted and panting with exhaustion.

Obi-Wan and Heracles slammed into the staffroom door, panting heavily from their flight up the numerous staircases of the school. Sweat dripped down Obi-Wan’s brow, stinging his eyes as he blinked, but it didn’t stop him from stumbling over to Jin– Qui-Gon, and handing Poppy the small flask in his hand.

Collapsing to his knees beside the sofa, Obi-Wan watched as Poppy carefully lifted Qui-Gon’s head and coaxed the lip of the flask against his unresponsive lips. She pressed it more firmly, parting his lips before she tilted the flask.

Obi-Wan waited, still panting, as the liquid emptied from the flask and Qui-Gon swallow reflex kicked in. ‘Thank fuck for small mercies,’ he thought tiredly, waiting for the potion to do its work and purge the venom from Jinn’s body.

The Lachesis Muta viper venom was a nasty thing; not necessarily fatal, but it had a nasty habit of causing rapid coagulation of blood and could kill a person from a fatal drop in blood pressure. Though some vipers had elapid venom—the type muggles more commonly referred to—that paralysed and resulted in asphyxiation from lack of muscle contraction. Lachesis Muta venom was the former rather than latter variety, and so most victims of their attacks didn’t realise just how dangerous their situation could be.

Obi-Wan had once seen a man die from the bite of a Lachesis viper. He had no desire to see another.

The usual symptoms of a Lachesis viper bite could be separated into local symptoms around the site of the bite; heart symptoms with dramatic drops in blood pressure resulting in shock and unconsciousness; and abdominal symptoms such as vomiting. Obi-Wan didn’t know if Qui-Gon had vomited—hopefully he hadn’t, oh Merlin—but from his state of unconsciousness, and how Poppy had elevated his legs using cushions from the chairs, he knew it was serious enough that the potion had to work otherwise–

No. No. Qui-Gon was going to be fine.

“How long does it take for the potion to work?” Minerva asked, voice pitched low as she placed a hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder, startling him from his panicked thoughts.

“Minutes,” Obi-Wan replied, blinking heavily as he bit back a ‘hopefully’. It had to work. It had to.

“His pallor is already improving so I’m guessing that it’s working,” Heracles said quietly, leaning against the wall near to the sofa; gaze sharp as he watched Poppy carry out several diagnostic spells. “I imagine Poppy’s tests can tell us more though.”

Poppy chose that time to look at them, a relieved look on her face. She gave Minerva a look that had the headmistress sighing with relief. “It’s working.”

“Oh thank fuck,” Obi-Wan muttered, “ow!”

Minerva glared at him. “Don’t swear!” She exclaimed, hand raised threateningly to hit him again as he glared at her.

“Ye such a taskmaster,” Obi-Wan grumbled darkly as he rubbed his arm, “an’ ye hit like a Caber tosser!”

Minerva smiled.

“I don’t wanna know,” Obi-Wan sighed, climbing to his feet and staring at Qui-Gon. “He’s no’ goin’ t’ wake up is he?”

Poppy looked at him. “He’ll wake up when he wakes up! I’d rather have him in the infirmary where I can keep an eye on him but—”

“The last time Qui-Gon was injured he literally crawled out of your infirmary the moment he woke up,” Obi-Wan finished, smiling slightly. “Minerva had to drag him back to you didn’t you professor?”

Minerva sighed. “It’d be less effort for all of us if he’d just stay in infirmary,” she said dryly. “But we all know he’s not going to do that.”

“That’d be too easy,” Poppy muttered. She stared down at her patient. “We should move him to his room now, while most of the students are at dinner.”

“How are we going to explain his absence from class?” Heracles asked, “or Kenobi’s for that matter? The students are terrifyingly good at coming up with reasons for our absences.”

Obi-Wan shook his head, drawing his wand and flicking the tip up in a sharp motion at Qui-Gon’s form. “It doesn’t matter,” he said tiredly, watching as Qui-Gon floated lazily off the sofa; Minerva joining his spellcasting and further stabilising the spell. “They’re going to gossip regardless. Especially with both of us out of commission.”

“If you didn’t argue quite so much like children pulling on each other’s pigtails, perhaps they wouldn’t gossip so much.” Minerva commented dryly, smiling slightly at the glare Obi-Wan shot her.

“We don’t argue like children,” Obi-Wan muttered, deciding to be mature and not stick his tongue out when Heracles and Poppy snorted at him.

“No you don’t really,” Heracles agreed mildly, but before Obi-Wan could formulate a polite ‘thank you’ the potions master continued, smirking, “Children are good at resolving their arguments.”

“You’re not a nice person,” Obi-Wan told him as he passed the potions master—Qui-Gon’s blanket-covered form floating along behind him like an ethereal, horizontal ghost—with Minerva at his side. “I can’t believe I let you look at my rare samples of Boomslang skin. Never again.”

“Oh the horror,” Heracles deadpanned, “I suppose I’ll just have to look at the samples I have stored in the potions cupboard then. What a travesty.”

Obi-Wan opened his mouth to reply but the look Minerva shot him stopped him from making any rebuttal. Heracles smirked at him as they left the staffroom and Obi-Wan swore revenge.

The long-suffering sigh from Minerva clearly indicated that she’d be on the lookout for him attempting any ‘revenge pranks’ in the near future.

‘I can wait awhile,’ Obi-Wan thought, already considering old pranks from his school days. Maybe he’d pull a leaf out of James and Sirius’ book when pranking each other. ‘Could even tell Harry about it next time we meet.’

“You may think you’re being sneaky Obi-Wan Kenobi but I know that look on your face; like butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth,” Minerva commented dryly, giving Obi-Wan a knowing look that had him ducking his head in amused embarrassment.

“It didn’t. Anti-heat charm on my tongue,” Obi-Wan quipped, grinning brightly at Minerva. She rolled her eyes at him, but Obi-Wan could see the corner of her lips twitching.

“Obi-Wan,” Minerva drawled, voice stern but with an edge of amusement to her words, before her face became drawn as she sighed. “Is he going to be alright?”

The corridor to Qui-Gon’s chambers, fortunately not too far from the staffroom—apparently it was a privilege of being a Transfiguration professor that the chambers were so close since the classroom itself was on the ground floor of the school; Minerva had explained that there had been an actual rebellion by the professor Dumbledore eventually replaced about the location—was blessedly empty and the only sounds were the noise of their footfalls and the usual creaking of old wooden doors. Obi-Wan really didn’t want to break that silence, but that had less to do with the sudden topic change and more with the sudden desperation for time to stop that had his heart pounding.

“The potion did its job,” he said softly, trying to inject a calmness he didn’t feel into his words. “He won’t be up and about anytime soon; maybe in two, three days. But he’s out of danger. Now he just needs someone keeping an eye on him to make sure he’s recovering well and isn’t trying to overexert himself too quickly.”

There were always risks with Anti-Venom Potions, especially if they were given more than thirty minutes after an attack. Mild side-effects included disordered thinking—the sort that had natural legilimens cursing up a storm at being so receptive to thoughts—and short-lived fits of aggression. Obi-Wan doubted Qui-Gon would be violent if the potion had any other effect on him, but the other typical result was…

Well, there were a number of reports of almost drug-induced confessions and declarations of undying love and affection. A Ministry report co-authored by two Mungo witches had reported that Anti-Venom Potions seemed to have an effect on the recipient similar to how Veritaserum worked, but they had no idea as to how or why it had such an effect.

Obi-Wan suspected it had something to do with the blood loss, low blood pressure and pain-response which the potion countered by encouraging the body to rapidly replace loss blood. Sort of gave a person a euphoric high that lowered their inhibitions. Kind of like how alcohol worked.

Scratching his wrist absently, Obi-Wan stood and watched as Minerva unlocked the door to Qui-Gon’s chambers—the perks of being headmistress—deciding that he was definitely going to be adding more magical locks to his door as soon as possible. He really didn’t think it would be wise for the headmistress to be able to access his chambers so easily when he was working—in fact, that would be the worst thing ever because then he’d have to tell her what he was working on and just no.

Together they levitated Qui-Gon into the room—Minerva again opening the door to his bedroom, the door almost completely obscured by a tall bookshelf full of rocks—and down onto the large bed. Obi-Wan glanced around, curiously taking in the various knick-knacks in the room of his colleague—his very unconscious, and recovering from a dangerous attack by a dangerous creature, colleague—with an appreciative gaze. He recognised several of the masks hanging on the wall near the dresser; and the style of the dresser as well, now that he studied it more closely.

Minerva cleared her throat pointedly and Obi-Wan smiled sheepishly at her. “Force of habit?”

A raised eyebrow was her response. Obi-Wan shrugged a shoulder, turning away from the dresser and refocusing his attention on Qui-Gon.

There was a stilted silence that fell in the room, both of them standing awkwardly at the edge of Qui-Gon’s bed. Obi-Wan coughed.

“I should leave you to– uh– to look after him I suppose.” Minerva almost babbled, just as uncomfortable with the sudden silence as Obi-Wan who nodded at her.

“Uh– yes, yes of course,” he replied, moving away from the bed to open the dresser and search for some clothes for Jinn to recover in.

“I’ll have Poppy check in on you both around eleven then,” Minerva said, already at the door to the bedroom, hand on the handle of the open door. She hesitated for a moment, looking at Obi-Wan with a soft yet worried look. “He really will be fine won’t he?”

Obi-Wan nodded, smiling softly. “I promise you Minerva. He’ll be fine. Go wrangle the school and nip those rumours in the bud before they end up camping outside my classroom and trying to climb through the windows.” Minerva laughed softly, a watery light in her eyes as she gave him a thankful nod before leaving, closing the door behind her in what felt like the signing of his fate.

No turning back now.

Obi-Wan breathed out a heavy sigh, smile slipping off his face, replaced by a frown as he stared at Jinn. The older professor looked very different when sleeping—no longer just unconscious but honest to Merlin asleep; thank the makers of the Anti-Venom Potion for small mercies—and it was a very jarring thing for Obi-Wan to see. Especially with no one else around to act as a distraction from the sight.

Rubbing his wrist Obi-Wan turned away, focusing on the dresser. There were several sets of robes—neatly pressed and insanely long, honestly Jinn was a giant in disguise—hanging up, more typical muggle clothing here and there, including a tweed jacket. Obi-Wan lips twitched in amusement at the sight of it. It was horrid.

A search through the drawers inside the dresser revealed that Jinn had a strange obsession with socks in various shades of green as well as a preference for boxers—and really, Obi-Wan didn’t want to know that ever, he didn’t—but no pyjamas.

“Okay, maybe somewhere else then,” he muttered, not even bothering to try and transfigure anything Jinn owned; Transfiguration experts often spelled their clothes to be impossible to transfigure—as had Obi-Wan actually—and Jinn was no different in that respect. Shutting the dresser doors and turning around, he surveyed the room, looking for a set of chest o’ drawers that just had to have what he was looking for. “Aha!”

Nestled in the corner of the room, in near darkness since Jinn seemed to be allergic to the lovely view the room offered of the Lake, was a chest o’ drawers with an impressive amount of books and souvenirs from Jinn’s travels piled on top. Opening the first drawer, Obi-Wan glanced at the shelves above and noticed how they were covered in a layer of dust while the ones to his left were clean and polished.

‘Must be doing some spring cleaning,’ Obi-Wan thought, digging through the drawer looking for the elusive material of cotton-pyjamas. Jinn struck him as the type to wear cotton-pyjamas rather than mix-and-match. Or wear nothing at all. ‘Merlin, don’t think about that for pity’s sake!’

Letting out a relieved breath, fingers tracing over cotton that felt well-used and well-washed, Obi-Wan pulled out a set of pyjamas—rolled up like the rest of the clothes in the drawer to save space; smart. He smiled, unrolling them and staring at the sheer length of the trousers.

Jinn sure had long legs.

Turning around his smile slipped away. Jinn was also completely out of it, and non-compos mentis. That left Obi-Wan with the glorious job of undressing Jinn manually—because Merlin knows his robes were also charmed against the most basic of clothing spells; honestly, Transfiguration experts—and then re-dressing him in his pyjamas.

No big deal.

Not a problem.

‘Oh gods.’

With a throat that was suspiciously dry, Obi-Wan swallowed heavily, moving towards the bed with the pyjamas. He dropped them on the bed, noting that they arranged themselves quite neatly at the bottom of the bed—a quaint charm that Obi-Wan desperately needed to know more about.

Reaching out with steady hands, Obi-Wan quickly and efficiently manoeuvred Jinn’s lax form until he managed to pull off his robe, dropping it on the floor in an unceremonious heap. He’d call for a House Elf to clean the robes and put them back in Jinn’s dresser later. Right now he needed to get the rest of Jinn’s clothes off.

Oh did that not sound right.

“Context,” Obi-Wan murmured dryly, fingers making quick work of the buttons of Jinn’s jacket and shirt, hesitating for a moment before parting them and pulling his arm out of the sleeve. “Context is a very important thing.”

Leaning over to pull Jinn’s other arm free, Obi-Wan froze, eyes widening in surprise. What the–

A loud crack had him jumping, spinning on his heel and brandishing his wand in a heartbeat.

“Apologies sir! Deesey didn’t mean to scare you sir!” The House Elf—Deesey—exclaimed, bowing deeply as she apologised. “The headmistress said that you hadn’t eaten sir and that Deesey was to do whatever you need Deesey to do!”

Obi-Wan breathed out through his nose, a sharp exhalation as he put his wand away, giving Deesey a smile. “It’s quite alright Deesey. I’m naturally paranoid and tend to overreact to things.”

Deesey smiled at Obi-Wan. “Deesey is very nervous all the time sir. Overreacting is what Deesey does best sometimes.”

Obi-Wan’s smile became more genuine. He truly did love House Elves. Their magical similarities to pixies left them often desperate to carry out acts for others, but often they were taken advantage of—especially by old, prejudiced, pureblood families. Miss Granger’s efforts to provide rights for them was laudable considering the opposition she still faced. Though Obi-Wan privately thought that trying to force them to accept payment might not be the wisest course of action for a magical species related as closely to pixies as House Elves.

There were stories about pixies from where he had grown up, well-known even to the muggles in the area. One did not piss off a pixie. Same principle applied to a House Elf really.

“Deesey can you please bring some food from tonight’s meal please, and a broth for professor Jinn. I imagine when he wakes up he won’t be feeling all too well and a nice broth will go a long way to make him feel better,” Obi-Wan asked politely, smiling at Deesey when the House Elf bounced on her feet, hands held together in front of her, fingers wiggling in their embrace of her palms.

“Of course sir! Right away sir! Deesey won’t be long sir!” Deesey raised a hand, snapping her fingers together and disappearing with another loud crack. Obi-Wan had always wondered if House Elves purposefully made noise when they apparated but he’d never felt comfortable with asking any of them. It felt… rude almost to ask.

Left alone, Obi-Wan let out a loud sigh full of pent up emotion. He closed his eyes for a moment, squeezing them shut as he worked to calm himself and to not react any more than he already had. Honestly. He was a skilled wizard; a Hogwarts professor. This was unbecoming of him!

Turning back to Jinn, Obi-Wan purposefully ignored the most attention-grabbing aspect emblazoned on Jinn’s skin, removing the rest of Jinn’s clothing and replacing it with the pyjamas he’d found. Just as he was buttoning up the last button of the shirt, another loud crack erupted, and it was only because he’d been expecting it that Obi-Wan didn’t spin around and let loose a hex.

“Deesey has your food right here sir! Where would you like me to put it sir?” Deesey babbled quickly, words nearly running into each other with the speed she spoke. Obi-Wan found himself fighting back an amused smile.

Energetic and prone to worry. Oh how did he relate to that.

“Anywhere there’s space Deesey,” Obi-Wan said, turning around as the House Elf began looking around for a place to put down the large tray she held over her head. “Professor Jinn seems to be in the middle of a spring clean.”

Deesey nodded, bouncing over to another corner of the room where a small table—that looked very much like it had an ivory inlay and made of rosewood or something similar—stood clear of anything. Obi-Wan frowned but didn’t comment, not sensing anything dark from anything in the room.

Deesey placed the tray on the table, hopping about on her feet as she turned to fix Obi-Wan with her wide-eyed stare. “Is there anything else you have for Deesey to do sir? Deesey would be happy to do what is needed sir!”

“Professor Jinn’s clothes need to be cleaned but, ah…” Obi-Wan trailed off, giving Deesey a sheepish smile as he remembered. House Elves are freed when they’re given clothing.

Deesey’s smile grew larger, her eyes brighter as she babbled. “Oh sir it’s okay sir! Deesey is a free elf sir! The headmistress told all House Elves at Hogwarts we could be freed from serving any witch or wizard who hurt us if we wished it sir! She even made it an order for us to follow so that we couldn’t try and find a way of refusing because of magical binding spells! Now Deesey is free to serve who she wants and is paid back with kindness. The headmistress can’t make Deesey accept her galleons; or any of the others sir!”

Obi-Wan blinked. He hadn’t been expecting that whirlwind of an explanation.

Then he smiled, genuinely pleased. “Well Deesey,” he said, giving her a half bow that had the House Elf look as though she were about to pop from all the excitement and joy she felt. “I need professor Jinn’s robes cleaning and placing back in his dresser by morning. I believe he’ll be well enough to be displeased with my… impolite treatment of his clothing.”

Deesey grinned at Obi-Wan, blinking one eye shut in an exaggerated wink. “Deesey can do that sir! Deesey will do that right away!”

As she raised her hand again to snap her fingers, Obi-Wan spoke again, making her pause.

“Deesey,” he said, smiling softly at the small House Elf. “After that you don’t need to do anything else for me tonight.” At the noticeable way Deesey deflated Obi-Wan continued, “but if you could have a breakfast prepared for myself and professor Jinn tomorrow around nine that would be grand.”

Deesey brightened, bowing even deeper than she had previously. “Of course sir, of course! Deesey would be honoured sir!” And with that she snapped her fingers, disappearing with a loud crack and leaving Obi-Wan alone in Jinn’s quarters with a sleeping Transfiguration professor, a tray of food he suddenly felt no need to eat, and a lot of questions dancing around in his mind as he pointedly ignored the very thing that was the cause of his discomfort.

Wrist itching Obi-Wan pulled the blankets up over Jinn, thankful that Minerva had pulled them back before they’d lowered Jinn onto the bed—it wouldn’t have been fun to try and wrangle the things out from beneath him since he was essentially a dead weight. He scowled at his wrist, moving away from the bed and collapsing with an exhausted sigh into the armchair next to the unlit fire in Jinn’s bedroom.

He felt like he should leave now; go out into the rest of Jinn’s chambers, perhaps fall asleep on the sofa by the window that boasted a lovely view of the Lake, and not sit in the same room as Jinn, staring at him.

Fucking fuck.

Obi-Wan sighed again.

Why was this his life?

Chapter Text

The time it took for Obi-Wan to calm his racing heart left him, for a long moment, contemplating the merits of trying to apparate within school grounds—if only to test the theory that if he succeeded, he’d be wiped out of existence as his molecules were unable to escape the magical field surrounding the school preventing ingress or egress by apparition. Unfortunately, he doubted he’d manage to get that far and would more probably end up needing some sort of replacement limb for a severe case of splinching.

As much as he really wanted to flee Jinn’s quarters and obliviate himself, he wasn’t that suicidal so, with a reluctant sigh, Obi-Wan moved back away from Jinn’s bed and prepared to watch the other professor until he woke up.

In the meantime, however, he’d go over everything he knew of soulmarks and the frankly limited amount of information that he had on them; and he’d spent years studying the damned magical phenomena — Merlin only knew what most wizards thought of the damned things.

Obi-Wan sighed. He knew what most wizards thought about soulmarks. They were signs that you had met your equal, your match, your other-half; he’d heard it all. The truth of them, however, was a considerably less fanciful. Soulmarks symbolised two individuals with complementary magical signatures and similar experiences who, upon acceptance of the connection, would develop an empathic connection depending on their magical strength. The empathic connection enabled strongly connected couples to maintain stability no matter the situation or injury they may receive, and also made it significantly easier to perform magic they had previously struggled with.

It sounded brilliant on paper, such a connection with another being—and they didn’t have to be human either. There had been a delightful couple he’d met in China who’d had a lovely baby girl; her mother was a descendent of Chang’e, the woman who had become the moon in Chinese mythology. Obi-Wan had never pried into her family history but had suspected there was more to her maternal line than a muggle mythology. He’d wanted to though. Still, manners maketh.

The armchair he'd dropped down into was soft and well-worn, a subtle Warming Charm working away to keep it comfortable. A nifty trick that Obi-Wan was going to gladly copy the moment he returned to his own rooms in the castle. Considering it, Obi-Wan contemplated whether to call for Deesey again, wondering if she'd be able to obtain several of his research papers for him to scour through while waiting for Jinn to wake. The protective enchantments on his luggage—especially the chest where he kept most of his work—were extensive and, to date, Obi-Wan hadn’t come across a single magical being that was able to circumvent them.

“Deesey.” Perhaps it was time to check them again.

A quiet crack, more subdued than what Obi-Wan typically associated with House Elves, echoed in the sleeping chambers. Deesey peered up at Obi-Wan from where she stood in front of him, hands clasped together, ears raised with expectation. “What is the master Professor wanting from Deesey, sir?”

Obi-Wan’s lips quirked slightly at the way Deesey spoke, it was a singularly unique characteristic of House Elves that Obi-Wan had never truly been able to determine the cause of. The best his research managed to determine was that it was an age-old habit inherent in Elves due to their magical origins. As far as Obi-Wan was aware, the House Elves in the United Kingdom all hailed from the Fae of Ireland; some sort of derivative species that had managed to survive within the mortal realm rather than being forced to resort to living in a separate realm of magical space. Their form of communication and the way in which they spoke the English language seemed to have its roots in the difficulty of adapting to a reduced alphabet and differing grammar rules. It hardly mattered to Obi-Wan in truth, it was merely something he found interesting.

“I have some research papers I wish to look over while I wait for Professor Jinn to waken,” Obi-Wan explained quietly, glancing at the professor in question, noting the man was still slumbering. “If it is possible for you to access my research chest, it would be greatly appreciated if you could retrieve them for me, however—” he raised his hand, halting Deesey mid-nod “—I am uncertain whether you will be able to get past the protective spells on the chest. If you can’t, Deesey, I do not want you harming yourself in an endeavour to do so.”

Deesey’s ears drooped as she nodded solemnly. “Yes sir, Master Professor, sir.” She paused, tilting her head to the side. “If Deesey is not able to retrieve Master Professor’s research, what is sir wanting Deesey to do instead?”

Obi-Wan smiled. “If you could collect the essays I still have left to mark, my marking quill and ink, then that would be more than enough Deesey,” he said warmly, smile widening when Deesey nodded enthusiastically, her ears flopping with the motion.

“Yes, sir! Deesey will do as Master Professor asks! Deesey will be doing it now!”

The second crack of apparition was as quiet as the first and Obi-Wan wondered briefly if House Elves could control the volume of their apparition; it stood to reason, one of the tales Obi-Wan had come across in a quiet part of Ireland populated almost entirely by magical beings suggested that a House Elf had taught a mortal wizard how to apparate. Of course, that tale conflicted with older stories of the first recorded wizard apparating inside the Library of Alexandria but even the magical world had multiple stories on the origins of magic and magical abilities; they differed little to Muggles in this respect.

He was idly considering writing a paper on the similarities between Muggle and Wizarding historical sources, myths and legends, before movement from Jinn’s bed had him snapping to attention. Shifting forward in the armchair, Obi-Wan eyed Jinn warily, the urge to scratch his wrist adding to his wariness. Eventually Jinn’s movements became more erratic and the older professor was at risk of dislodging himself from the bed.

Obi-Wan was up and across the room in a moment, carefully moving to perch lightly on the edge of the bed. “Jinn.” He reached out and gently grasped a weakly flailing wrist, slowing its movements. “Qui-Gon,” he said softly.

Jinn let out a quiet gasp that was more like a groan of pain than anything else, opening his eyes sluggishly. “Wha…” he slurred weakly, blinking slowly up at Obi-Wan who carefully leaned into the other man’s field of vision.

“It’s alright, Qui-Gon,” Obi-Wan said, voice still soft and calm. “You’re in your rooms at Hogwarts.”

Jinn blinked again, eyes sparking with increasing alertness as his mind kicked into gear. The pulse in the wrist Obi-Wan held jumped suddenly. Obi-Wan frowned. “Qui-Gon?”

Jinn’s gaze had zeroed in on his wrist and Obi-Wan swallowed. He knew what had caught Jinn’s attention.

“You’re—” Jinn began, his gaze jumping to Obi-Wan’s face. Obi-Wan cut him off.

“You were bitten by a snake in your class, as far as I’m aware, I don’t think it was deliberate.” Obi-Wan pointedly avoided Jinn’s gaze, gently releasing Jinn’s hand and letting it drop down onto the sheets. “Since snakes were added to the list of pets, I am aware they’ve become somewhat of a fad. Minerva is investigating the matter and I daresay she’ll find out who the animal belongs to by morning.”

“Obi-Wan.” Jinn’s voice was quiet, weak, but there was an intensity to it that lent it strength.

Obi-Wan stubbornly tried to ignore it. “I have Deesey returning with essays for myself to mark overnight, you require someone to keep an eye on your condition,” he said with a false cheer, shifting back away from Jinn. “She also left some tea for when you woke, I believe it’s under a Heating Charm so it should still be quite alright.”

“Obi-Wan.” Jinn said again, voicer stronger now.

“I’ll get you a cup, shall I?” Obi-Wan asked rhetorically, already beginning to stand even as he spoke. He let out a surprised sound when Jinn lurched forward, a hand wrapping around Obi-Wan’s wrist with surprising strength. “Qui-Gon!”

“You’re ignoring it.” Jinn observed, looking up at Obi-Wan half-sprawled across himself on the bed. The arm that Jinn hadn’t trapped in his own embrace was planted near Jinn’s head, supporting part of Obi-Wan’s weight as his face was perilously close to Jinn’s own. “Why?”

Obi-Wan blinked. “Ignoring what?” He tried, smiling innocently. Jinn didn’t even blink. “I—”

A loud crack interrupted whatever Obi-Wan had been about to say and with a sudden burst of energy, Obi-Wan slipped his wrist out of Jinn’s hand, swiftly moving to stand beside the bed before Deesey even opened her mouth.

“Deesey couldn’t open Master Professor’s chest like sir said!” Deesey exclaimed, ignorant of the tension between the two wizards. “So Deesey got what sir said to get instead!” She held out the items Obi-Wan had requested, smiling brightly up at him.

Obi-Wan nodded, giving her a somewhat forced smile. “Thank you Deesey,” he said politely, putting distance between himself and Jinn by collecting the essays and such from Deesey. “Professor Jinn is awake right now and I imagine he may be somewhat thirsty. Would you kindly prepare him a cup of tea, please?”

Deesey beamed, nodding her head and making her ears flap. “Yes, Master Professor sir! Deesey will be doing that right away!”

The House Elf scurried across the room, bare feet making no sound on the stone floor nor the rug. Obi-Wan glanced back at the bed where Jinn was staring at him before he looked down at the essays he held. He’d managed to mark most of the essays he’d received from his classes in the past week, but there were still six left to grade.

Obi-Wan silently thanked the gods for Deesey’s timing and the fact he had taken the Dreamless Sleep potion he’d brewed himself last night instead of giving in to nightmares and not sleeping all night. If he hadn’t done that then he’d have nothing to occupy his time for the rest of the night.

At least this way he had a legitimate reason to spend most of his time occupied and not engaging Jinn in conversation.

Deesey busied herself with making Jinn a cup of tea, adding an exuberant number of sugar cubes, before she paused and looked from Obi-Wan to Jinn. “Master Professors’ should be eating too!” Deesey exclaimed firmly.

Obi-Wan gave the House Elf a gentle smile that was, nevertheless, firm. “That’s quite alright, Deesey. Professor Jinn, I don’t think, would be able to stomach anything right now and I ate earlier myself.” He glanced over a Jinn, taking note of how pale the man was, the violet tones under his eyes. “Perhaps later, however.”

Deesey frowned briefly, clearly not pleased with Obi-Wan’s decision but she respected it. “Yes, Master Professor,” she said reluctantly, carrying the cup of tea over to Jinn and holding it up to him. “You just call for Deesey if you be needing anything else, sir!”

Jinn gave Deesey a tired smile, carefully taking the cup from the House Elf, hand shaking slightly. “Many thanks, Deesey,” he said quietly to the House Elf who gave him a shallow curtsy, her hands holding the edges of the tea towel around her waist like a skirt on top of the pillowcase she wore.

“Of course.” Obi-Wan nodded when Deesey looked at him expectantly. “Thank you Deesey,” he added inclining his head at the House Elf who all-but beamed at him. The House Elves still experienced a case of ‘silent witness’ in regards to how wizards viewed them; something Obi-Wan was happy to go against the grain about.

Many of his housemates, both previous and present, favoured the ‘old’ methods of treating House Elves and non-Pureblood witches and wizards. In recent years of course, such sentiments had faced an increasing wave of discontent and challenge; those who still shared the sentiments of the past kept them behind closed doors where the larger magical community could pretend ignorance.

With a gentle crack, Deesey disapparated out of the room, leaving Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon alone. The tension between them that had fallen into a lull with Deesey’s presence reasserted itself. Strongly.

Obi-Wan twitched. His fingers fidgeted, pulling on a thread inside the sleeve of his robe. He looked around the room slowly before staring resolutely down at his lap, pausing long enough to stare at the scrolls of parchment he still had to mark.

Picking up his quill and thumbing open his inkpot, the quiet snick of the latch loud in the quiet room, Obi-Wan desperately hoped Jinn would be silent. Oh, please gods, he thought, let him be silent.

“Obi-Wan—”

So much for the gods.

Not looking up from the scroll he quickly unrolled, pretending that it was of great importance and couldn’t spare him looking away from it, Obi-Wan cut Jinn off. “You should drink your tea, Qui-Gon. I imagine it’s quite refreshing.” He paused for a moment. “After what happened, I do think it might be good for you, considering how tired you must be feeling from the anti-venom potion that was administered less than an hour ago.”

A frustrated huff from the direction of the bed had Obi-Wan itching to look up but he didn’t. Essays needed to be marked, after all. “Obi-Wan, you can’t keep—” Jinn began again, his voice a little bit more aggrieved but Obi-Wan cut him off again.

“I’m afraid I have essays to mark so—”

“Enough!”

Obi-Wan froze, quill hovering above the parchment, dripping ink onto it. He’d have to remove the spots before he returned it to its original owner. He bit his lip.

“Obi-Wan…” Jinn—Qui-Gon—began, voice softer. There was a plea audible in that voice, one that made Obi-Wan want to raise his head and drink in the sight he knew was there. Qui-Gon sat up in his bed, hair tousled, eyes wide and beseeching. Obi-Wan shook his head.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I just cannot have this conversation with you right now, Qui-Gon,” he admitted. His shoulders tensed up at the admission.

“Obi-Wan. Look at me.” Qui-Gon’s voice was soft, gentle and not commanding. It was a request, not a demand. Obi-Wan reluctantly raised his head, gaze following slowly to lock onto Qui-Gon’s form. “Why not?” Qui-Gon asked, voice still soft. He was patient now, willing to wait for Obi-Wan to answer; his posture made it obvious. Still…

Obi-Wan swallowed thickly. “Because it’s not something I can easily process,” he said plainly, bluntly, and honestly. His eyes avoided looking into Qui-Gon’s own, favouring instead to flicker over his form, the bed, the wall behind it. “So please, leave it alone for now.” Please, he thought, please just leave it for now, I beg you.

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

Qui-Gon stared at Obi-Wan, fighting back the tiredness that threatened to close his eyes and have him sleep. This was too important for him to fall prey to exhaustion. Obi-Wan was too important. The way the other professor was sat, almost perched on the edge of the armchair, the tension in his body that was clear as day, it all made Qui-Gon very aware of how carefully he needed to handle… this.

‘This’ being a matching soulmark to his own present on the wrist of a colleague who was in his personal chambers while Qui-Gon was compromised. If he kept pushing, Obi-Wan might resent him, or leave, and Qui-Gon wished for neither outcome. But… he really disliked the idea of just letting this thing between them lie unresolved.

Obi-Wan sighed suddenly, strands of his hair hanging down by his jawline—had the other professor been experimenting with metamorph magic again? There had been a time when the Defence Professor had been a starling shade of blue for almost a week before he’d figured out how to reverse the accident that’d occurred during one of his research benders one evening—moving slightly with the movement. Qui-Gon found himself quite mesmerised by them.

“What sort of snake bit me?” He asked, giving Obi-Wan the one thing he was asking for. It went against everything that Qui-Gon was to leave it—this thing between them—for another time but the sheer relief that he felt from Obi-Wan—was the other professor aware he was projecting? Probably not—at the change of subject gave Qui-Gon enough to let it lie. He didn’t want to push Obi-Wan away from him, not when he actually liked the other wizard beyond what was the result of soulmarks.

Obi-Wan looked at him, his eyes a mixture of blues and greens—the same colours as Qui-Gon’s soulmark he realised suddenly—and gave the bedbound professor a half-shrug. “A pit viper,” he answered, fingers twitching slightly on the knee he’d placed his hand. “Mundane not magical however,” he added.

Qui-Gon frowned. “How did Poppy counter the venom, then?” He knew that the medi-witch was extremely good at her job, but he doubted she was so prepared for every possibility that she had anti-venom for a mundane snakebite.

Obi-Wan shook his head. “Toxin,” he corrected, giving Qui-Gon an amused look. “And she didn’t, I did.”

Oh. Oh well then.

“Thank you,” Qui-Gon said softly, his stomach trembling at the emotions Obi-Wan’s admission elicited from him. Surprise. Gratitude. Wonder. Awe. Something like desire.

Obi-Wan shifted awkwardly, trying to not look discomforted by Qui-Gon’s gratitude but the flicker in his eyes, the tightening around his eyes and lips gave it away. Qui-Gon might have been stuck in his bed feeling awful but his mind was sharp now and he was employing his focus and attention to Obi-Wan’s every movement, word and expression.

He belatedly realised how creepy that was.

“It was nothing, really,” Obi-Wan shrugged, “I keep a supply of venoms and toxins from a variety of creatures for research purposes,” he explained, giving Qui-Gon a laid-back smile that was too small and tense to be truly nonchalant. “This was nothing truly unusual for me.”

Qui-Gon blinked. “Really?”

Obi-Wan’s smile turned rueful. “I’ve been poisoned many times over the years,” he admitted, rubbing the back of his head with a hand. “I learnt first-hand to keep a supply of rudimentary antidotes on my person,” Obi-Wan explained, looking at Qui-Gon with a spark of mischief in his eyes. It suited the other professor more than the awkward discomfort that had been present. “And a supply of poisons, toxins, and venoms for if I ever needed to create more tailored antidotes.”

That gave Qui-Gon pause. How many times had this man nearly died in the past only for his obviously extensive survival kit to bring him back from the edge? Gods all but even Qui-Gon was half as skilled at repeatedly coming so close to death. And he’d almost died a lot over the years.

“Then I’m fortunate you were so prepared,” Qui-Gon quipped, hoping nothing showed on his face as to how mildly-horrified he was about Obi-Wan’s obvious penchant for near-death experiences. As if finding out about the Lethifold incident. Incidents.

Obi-Wan hummed. “I suppose so,” he said, staring at Qui-Gon with something not-quite definable in his eyes.

Qui-Gon stared back, trying to decipher those blue-green eyes, a confusing amalgamation of bright and dark, intense and benign. They were fascinating.

The room blurred, and Qui-Gon blinked. There was a fuzzy halo-like effect around the light sources in his chambers. He blinked again.

“Jinn?” Obi-Wan’s voice echoed around the room unexpectedly and Qui-Gon’s eyes slid around to fix themselves on the professor sat leaning forward in the armchair near his bed. Hadn’t he been looking at Obi-Wan already? When had he looked away?

“Everything is…” Qui-Gon began, trailing off and swallowing at the dryness of his throat. No, not dryness, it was more like his mouth was made of cotton-wool. Like the sort of feeling an anaesthetic induced at the dentists. He felt strange.

“Am I… My mouth feels like cotton-wool…” he said slowly, words slurring as he blinked again, looking back at Obi-Wan—when had he looked away, damnit—in confusion. “Why?”

He was slouched down on his bed now, arms lethargic, mind slowing. How? What? Hadn’t he had a cup of tea? Qui-Gon turned his head, feeling the soft cotton of his pillowcase brush across his cheek. Oh. The teacup was on the bedside table. Right.

Obi-Wan leant back in the armchair, the sudden concern fading back into a quiet sort of amusement, the kind people felt but tried to conceal from others when they were amused but not meant to be. “That’s the side effects of the antidote,” Obi-Wan’s voice floated around the room. “I’m afraid you’ll feel lethargic and sleepy several times throughout the next week, though not quite as extreme as…”

Qui-Gon’s eyes were shut, he knew that, the darkness around him was from his eyes being shut. He couldn’t quite remember why but he was comfy, warm, and content. Why was he content? His wrist itched for a moment, but he didn’t have the energy to scratch it.

The last thing Qui-Gon heard before he fell into a deep sleep was a soft voice murmuring, “goodnight Qui-Gon,” and the soft touch of a hand on his forehead.

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

Waking up to the sound of furious pounding on his door was never Qui-Gon’s idea of a good wake-up call. Waking up after feeling like he’d taken one hell of a beating to find someone was so insistent that he wake up, even less so.

Forcing himself up, Qui-Gon stumbled out of his bed, not even bothering to pause long enough to slip his slippers and robe on. Whoever was so damned determined to talk to him could just put up with him shoeless, robeless and with hair that looked like it’d been hit by lightning.

“What?” He spat, wrenching the door to his chambers open. “What the fu—”

“You finish that sentence Qui-Gon Jinn and I’ll have your manhood for a necklace,” Minerva said sharply, cutting him off mid-sentence. There was an angry sheen to her shrewd gaze.

Qui-Gon’s mouth snapped shut on reflex. Minerva, he knew, was not a witch he wanted to cross. Ever.

“Why are you banging on my door like someone possessed, Minerva?” Qui-Gon demanded, stepping aside to let her through before she ran him over. Shutting the door behind her, he turned around and gave her his best unimpressed stare.

Considering that he’d learnt from Minerva in the first, it was obviously ineffective.

“If I have to be awake at this Godawful hour then I decided it’s only fair if the cause of my early wake up is also,” Minerva replied, tapping the coffee table beside the armchair in the sitting room. A tray with three cups and a large teapot appeared, a plate stacked with buttered toast a moment later.

Qui-Gon frowned. “Why am I the cause of your diabolical hour of waking? I haven’t done anything.”

Minerva snorted. “No, no you haven’t,” she agreed and Qui-Gon’s confused frown turned annoyed. “But you have some dedicated friends who took it upon themselves to shout at me about your recent near-death experience.”

Qui-Gon blinked. “What?”

“That’s precisely what I thought when I was rudely woken at five in the morning by the most irritable owl I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting,” Minerva said darkly, busying her hands with making herself a cup of scalding tea.

Qui-Gon automatically moved to the coffee table, bending down to pick up on the other remaining two cups and make himself one. “My apologies for your rude awakening,” he said eventually, aware that Minerva wasn’t really annoyed with him, rather he was the only other person she could speak to about this.

“The students obviously sent letters home to their families about what happened.” Minerva sighed. “That was unavoidable, but I hadn’t expected such a reaction from those who have no children or relatives attending Hogwarts at present.”

Qui-Gon silently summoned his slippers, sitting down in the closest armchair and slipping his feet into the blessed warmth of wool-lined slippers. His toes thanked him gratefully for the temperature change. His arms weren’t yet chilled by the air so there was little need for his robe, but he did point a finger at his fireplace, igniting it without a word.

The look Minerva gave him for his displays in wandless and silent casting amused him. She was more than accomplished at both forms of magic but preferred using her wand: Qui-Gon recalled a year in the school back when they had been students when the Scottish witch had revealed she was much stronger magically than half of the professors. He also recalled how long it took to get the scorch marks out of one of the duelling chambers when the entire school was taking part in a mad game of Who Can Cast The Strongest Spells Without A Wand. Needless to say, Minerva won.

“Don’t give me that look,” Qui-Gon said, stirring his tea with a spoon, “you’re just as able to cast the same spells as myself without a wand.”

Minerva’s eyes narrowed into thin, cat-like slits. “There’s just a wee matter of strength, but then again,” she added, “I can’t say I’m surprised that I can cast stronger wandless spells than you, Qui-Gon.”

Qui-Gon rolled his eyes. “I’d much rather my spells be weaker than yours and actually hit their target rather than stronger but with a propensity to hit everything around the target,” he shot back, quirking an eyebrow when Minerva rolled her own eyes at him. “I’m aware that there’s still a missing classroom door thanks to you and your magical strength, Minerva.”

“Oh, the students found it three years ago actually.” Minerva sipped her tea, eyes light with amusement. “The door, however, simply refused to open no matter what we tried so we decided to simply leave it alone.”

Qui-Gon snorted. “I’m not even surprised,” he said, shaking his head. “So,” he continued after a moment, “is there anything in particular you want to speak to me about, besides how inconsiderate my friends are of your sleeping schedule?”

Minerva frowned, thinking for a moment. Qui-Gon could almost see her weighing up the pros and cons of speaking to him. It wasn’t any concern over his trustworthiness, that Qui-Gon knew for a fact, but if he had to hazard a guess, Minerva was more hesitate of his physical and mental state after what had happened last week.

For the last four days, Qui-Gon had mostly stayed in bed, exhausted most of the time and constantly being hit with bouts of drowsiness that drove him to pass out for hours at a time. The symptoms had decreased dramatically in the last twenty-four hours, but Poppy had firmly told him that he wasn’t to be doing any teaching until at least after the weekend.

It had been excruciatingly painful for Qui-Gon to essentially sit around and do nothing in between the bouts of sleep his body forced him to take. He couldn’t mark any essays without losing track of what the student was saying, couldn’t read a book because they were too heavy for him to hold for prolonged periods of time, and he couldn’t listen to music like he normally would because it gave him a headache.

The only thing that Qui-Gon had be able to do was have visitors. Filius and Pomona had been by several times over the past four days, and even Minerva and several other staff members had shown up. All of them in fact.

Except one.

Qui-Gon blinked, focusing on Minerva intently to push away any emotionally bothersome thoughts that tried to crowd his mind. Out of everyone at the school, Minerva had been the only one to return to treating him relatively like normal. She was watchful and concerned for him, as Qui-Gon expected of a friend, but she wasn’t unnecessarily so. Filius, bless his heart, was a worrier and drove Qui-Gon up the wall with how much he mother-henned him.

“I’ve been letters from the parents of some students,” Minerva said suddenly, wrenching Qui-Gon’s attention to her. He watched as she worried at the handle of her teacup with the nail of her index finger. “Initially, I thought that perhaps some of them were experiencing personal problems, it’s not so uncommon for family troubles to be shared with the headmaster or headmistress of Hogwarts; Albus received dozens of the same type of letters every year.”

Qui-Gon nodded. “Yes, I would imagine if a student’s parents were having marital issues then concerns such as accommodation would be of importance to Hogwarts.” Minerva nodded, glancing at him.

“Had it only been a few dozen I perhaps wouldn’t be so concerned but.” Minerva trailed off, her weathered features twisting into a deep sort of discontent and concern. “There’s a sense I get from some of these letters, Qui-Gon, that makes me think there is more to it than mere marital issues or the like.”

Qui-Gon’s lips tightened into a frown. He trusted Minerva a great deal and knew that her instincts were rarely wrong, even if she sometimes doubted herself. The fact that his long-time friend was suggesting that something else might be going on with some students at the school, and their families... Qui-Gon didn’t doubt she was correct in some manner.

“I can send out some messages to a few of my more questionable friends,” he offered eventually, giving Minerva a loaded look. “No details,” he promised as she opened her mouth to refuse on reflex, “but perhaps there could be some issue we’re not aware of here at Hogwarts, possibly in the Muggle world that’s having an effect in the Wizarding.”

Minerva nodded. “Thank you Qui-Gon,” she said, her posture softening from the coiled tension it had been when she’d first mentioned her concerns. “I hope it’s simply my paranoia but I’m not foolish enough to believe otherwise if there’s evidence.”

Qui-Gon nodded, understanding where Minerva was coming from: it would be much nicer if this was all just a figment of Minerva’s war-wearied mind, but it would be foolish to ignore her instincts just because it was easier to do so.

Neither of them were prone to taking the easy path in life, why would they change a habit of a lifetime now?

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

In the Great Hall on Monday morning, Qui-Gon took in the sight of hundreds of young faces craning to stare at him while he calmly buttered his toast. The moment he’d strolled into the Great Hall he’d been subject to wide-eyed stares, declarations of surprise and curiosity, and, most importantly, the gossip vine. According to some of the ‘versions’ of the incident going around, Qui-Gon had; wrestled with a magical anaconda that had slithered through the plumbing of school; been attacked by an animagus who was Filch in disguise; had a seventh years Slytherin student set their familiar on him; and, lastly, fought a reincarnated Dark Lord who had been in the form of a ghastly snake the size of a basilisk.

Qui-Gon privately thought the students were taking the piss with that last one but there were always those who believed the most ludicrous of things. The first years, bless their souls, were often the easiest to convince of truly impossible realities. All the other versions were more of less entertaining and, in the eyes of the students, probably possible; though, perhaps not Filch being an animagus—Qui-Gon was pretty sure that rumour was just because the caretaker as hated by the students as he hated them.

Though, in Filch’s defence, Qui-Gon himself doubted he’d feel all that generous towards those who could do magic if he could not, especially if they were cruel and rude and took pleasure in seeing him struggle with tasks they could simply use magic to solve. Yes… Filch might not be in the right for his behaviour, for how harsh a person he could be, but he had more than enough right to be bitter about his position in life. A Squib working as a caretaker in Hogwarts, surrounded by magic yet never able to use it himself. Filch was entitled to his bitterness.

“What’s got you frowning like a thunderstorm, Qui-Gon?” Pomona asked suddenly, leaning forward in her seat to peer down the table at Qui-Gon from her place near Filius who, like her, was watching him. “Did the elves not give you enough butter for your toast?”

Qui-Gon blinked, glancing down at his toast, the butter he’d plied onto it automatically melting sluggishly. “Uh, no, just thinking,” he said, shaking his head slightly. “Politics,” he added with a slight smile that grew when Pomona snorted derisively.

“You and politics, Qui-Gon,” she said, shaking her head. “It’s a wonder you didn’t become like those Muggle hippies and picket the Ministry every day of your life.”

“There’s still time for a career change.” Qui-Gon quipped, joining in with Filius as the Charms professor snickered. “I imagine I would look quite good in the hippie attire, even at my age.”

“Oh, hush about your age, you!” Pomona tutted, giving Qui-Gon an amused look. “You’re as old as I am and still look half my age.”

“If you ignore the grey hairs in my beard?” Qui-Gon asked cheekily, ducking out of the way of the crust of Pomona’s own toast that she tossed at him.

“An awful example you both set for our students,” Minerva said suddenly, appearing behind the staff table in the Hall with no warning. She must have used the side entrance only the staff were able to open. “Honestly, Qui-Gon, you’re no vainer than I am and Pomona, you are literally ten years younger than myself and still look half my age. If anyone is going to be bitter about how one’s aging, then it will be Filius or myself.”

“Or Binns, if he cared.” Qui-Gon pointed out, smirking at the look Minerva shot him. Filius chuckled in his seat, eyes twinkling mischievously.

“I do believe Binns isn’t even aware of what century we’ve found ourselves in,” Filius said, winking at Qui-Gon before Minerva gave him the same look she’d treated Qui-Gon to.

Pomona laughed. “Of course not! That’s why the history syllabus hasn’t changed in over forty years!”

Minerva frowned. “I’ve already considered replacing him and updating the curriculum for the class,” she admitted to the three professors who blinked at her in surprise. “Oh, don’t give me that look!” She snapped. “The students only know about the last two wizarding wars in Great Britain because of their family histories, it’s ludicrous that we have a professor who is still teaching about the Goblin and Ogre wars as though they were relevant!”

Qui-Gon shrugged, agreeing with Minerva’s point. “Are you looking for a single professor or several with different historical specialities?” He asked, curious.

The last year, Minerva had battled tooth-and-nail with the school governor’s over the material the classes covered, most especially regarding priority subjects outside of Transfiguration and Charms. Pomona’s own curriculum in Herbology had already been overhauled by the professor herself; she’d taken great pleasure in adding in entire sections detailing standard care for a plethora of plants both magical and mundane.

The Defence Against Dark Arts curriculum had been completely remade by Obi-Wan after the first month the younger professor had taken on the position. Qui-Gon had been quietly interested in the sheer amount of information the professor had decided to put into the entire course, most especially the fact that he’d staunchly argued for expanding the class to include defence across a range of areas.

Minerva had mostly refused to change the curriculum of the class to that extent – the shouting match between the two Scots had been quite something to witness according to Filius who had been one of the witnesses of Minerva and Obi-Wan damn near spitting and hissing – but she had agreed to additional classes on various forms of defence. She’d even created an entire department for Defence, as well as several others for other classes.

Transfiguration and Charms both came under the purview of the Wand-Work Department, Potions, Herbology, and Flying were part of the Wandless Magics Department, and most of the other classes offered at Hogwarts were either part of the Humanities Department – which Qui-Gon believed included Muggle Studies, a newly created Ethics class, History of Magic, and Divination for some absurd reason – or under the Non-Core Department. Care of Magical Creatures was part of the Non-Core Department, as well as Arithmancy, Astronomy, Ancient Runes, and Magical Theory.

The creation of departments had necessitated additional staff being hired by Minerva – another issue she’d had it out with the governors over – and a reshuffling of existing staff and their responsibilities. Qui-Gon had, fortunately, joined the staff after most of the chaos was over and done with, though he still found himself stuck in the middle of it every now and then.

Such as now.

“The general idea is to separate History of Magic into three sections,” Minerva explained to the professors who leaned in close to her seat, each of them engrossed. “Core History of Magic focusing on recent events of magical importance not only in Great Britain but around the world as well,” Minerva looked at Qui-Gon. “I am hoping to have at least two professors for that specific class, one who can explain local events in detail and another who has a greater grasp of global events.”

“I would love to do it, Minerva,” Qui-Gon said immediately, an apologetic expression on his face. “However, I doubt I’d have the time to dedicate to it alongside teaching Transfiguration.”

Minerva shook her head. “I’m aware of that Qui-Gon, it’s the same reason I haven’t asked Obi-Wan either,” she explained, giving Qui-Gon a smile. “I was hoping, however, that the pair of you would have a few people in mind who could potentially fill the position.”

Qui-Gon nodded slowly. “I… Yes, I may know a few who might be willing,” he said. “I can give you their names after the school day is over?” He suggested, smiling when Minerva nodded. “Okay then.”

“What else are you thinking of Minerva?” Filius asked curiously. “I have to admit the idea of replacing Binns with competent educators is appealing, but I am curious what you’re going to do about his ghost.”

Minerva sighed. “I haven’t quite figured that out myself,” she admitted, giving them a rueful look. “On the rest of History of Magic, however, I think different elective classes students can choose in their Fourth Year might be a good idea.”

Minerva poured herself a cup of tea, movements careful and precise. “A course on ancient magical history would be a good idea, I feel, for those students who may choose Arithmancy or Ancient Runes in their Third Year.” Qui-Gon and Filius both nodded in agreement, Pomona raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Perhaps another on medieval magical history, perhaps focusing on the difference between European history of the time and eastern history including the Ottomans. I believe there was quite a distinctive difference in how magic was viewed in the Ottoman Empire and other non-western areas?” Minerva glanced at Qui-Gon curiously who nodded.

The professors were silent for a moment before Pomona finally spoke. “I think that is going to be quite a headache for you to deal with Minerva,” she said, smiling slightly. “But if anyone could handle the pressure of such a thing, it is definitely you.”

Filius and Qui-Gon both nodded in agreement.

“Indeed!” Filius exclaimed, clapping his hands together merrily. “The students might actually know a little bit more about our history than what can be found in the Prophet if this works!”

Minerva gave Filius a dry look. “Such encouragement, Filius,” she said, smiling when Filius looked at her apologetically. “I think I may well end up cursing the governors in the process, but I want the children in this school to know their past without blood-purity nonsense biasing them from the start.”

Qui-Gon hummed in agreement. “So that means you’ll have non-British wizards teaching them, then?” He half-asked, half-stated, unsurprised when Minerva nodded.

“Most likely, though perhaps not,” she said, buttering her own toast. “I will reserve my judgement on the matter for a while yet. The governors have refused to put this in place until after this school year is over.”

Filius, Pomona, and Qui-Gon all rolled their eyes at that. “Why am I not surprised.” Pomona muttered, focusing back on her own breakfast. Filius made a quiet noise of agreement, sipping his tea.

The professors ate in silence, the chatter of students in the morning hushed in the Hall. The rest of the staff had been and gone, or didn’t have classes that day and so were taking advantage of their days off. Qui-Gon quietly envied them, Transfiguration was scheduled every day of the week for the students with only Wednesdays being half-days in his schedule.

Obi-Wan, as far as he was aware, had more time off than he did but, with Minerva’s revelation of the plan for more defence classes, Qui-Gon doubted the younger professor would have much free time in the future.

Thinking about Obi-Wan made Qui-Gon’s stomach clench painful and his wrist itch something fierce. He hadn’t seen Obi-Wan all that much since that day in his chambers, and he was well aware that the other professor was avoiding him. The longest he’d been in the same place as Obi-Wan was breakfast two days ago and even then, there had been a tension between them that Qui-Gon desperately wished to break but Obi-Wan had fled his presence less than ten minutes after sitting down at the staff table.

“I have to confess,” Filius said suddenly in the companionable quiet that had fallen among them. “I’m quite looking forward to the end of the school year.”

“Oh?” Pomona looked at Filius curiously. “Why Filius?”

“I’m visiting some of my extended family in the Goblin reserve in Ireland,” he explained, giving them all a smile. “They invited me last year, but I had to refuse after I fell ill, but this year I’m hoping to see them for the first time in almost twenty years!”

Qui-Gon’s eyebrows rose. “I hope you have a good time, my friend,” he said, giving Filius a warm smile that the Charms professor returned. “Are they based in the southern reserve by any chance?” He asked, politely.

Filius nodded.

“Yes, they moved there after the first war,” Filius answered, a spark of sadness in his eyes that was replaced with a bright happiness. “I have a grand-niece who was born last year, and her name day is in the middle of the summer so I’m doubly happy to be visiting.”

Minerva smiled at Filius. “That’s quite wonderful, Filius,” the headmistress said, placing a hand on Filius’ shoulder. “I do hope you enjoy your time with your family.”

Qui-Gon and Pomona both nodded, wishing Filius the best with his family just before the magical marker indicating the end of breakfast sounded. The noise in the Hall kicked up a notch as dozens of students hurriedly abandoned their breakfasts, rushing for their classes at the same time as the staff abandoned the staff table.

The rest of the school year was going to be interesting, Qui-Gon thought as he made his way through the corridors to his first class of the day. But he fully expected the next school year to be considerably more interesting. ‘I should probably place a bet on Minerva actually cursing one of the governors,’ he thought, snickering softly.

Chapter Text

Avoiding your soulmate, Obi-Wan found, was harder to do once you were aware of them. Every time he hid himself beneath the invisibility charm his wrist burned. Not itched. Burned .

It wasn't agonisingly painful, like the sort of burning sensation from dragonflame, no. More like an especially vicious candle trying its utmost to get a reaction.

When the last day of term came before the holidays, Obi-Wan had been all but chomping at the bit to escape the castle and the transfiguration professor he'd been bound to by fate and magic.

Not one week into the summer holidays and Obi-Wan desperately hoped he'd get to see Qui-Gon again. Preferably whilst Obi-Wan himself was still alive.

'I'm blessed with bad luck,' he thought darkly, tilting his head to the right. The rope around his wrists was spelled to be unbreakable and impossible to undo, and so Obi-Wan's captors thought him contained.

'Pity for them I'm also "blessed" with hypermobility too.'

With a sharp pulling motion, Obi-Wan jerked his thumb out of its socket, dislocating it. The spike of pain had him biting his lip to muffle his hissed curse even as he forced his hand through the rope, skin tearing at the unrelenting pressure he exerted.

'I really need to stop getting into situations like this,' Obi-Wan sighed, finally working his hand free enough to slip through the rope. 'My poor thumb is going to stick this way one day.'

His thumb would need putting back into place soon enough but, as that pain always ended up being significantly greater than breaking it in the first place – and honestly, why was that, Obi-Wan wondered – he decided to leave it alone until after he had his wand back.

That way he'd be able to numb his thumb first. Or at least magically lower his sensitivity to pain for a short period. Always handy that one.

'I might need to use that spell soon enough,' he thought morbidly, stretching his arms carefully to relieve the tension in his shoulders that had built up in the past few hours. 'Considering who my darling kidnappers are.'

The masks had been a dead giveaway, even if the style had changed.

Neo-Death Eaters.

Obi-wan's lip curled. Foolish, angry, entitled little brats who wanted to be seen as the best and more desired but didn't even have the balls to show their faces because they feared public retaliation. 'I'll give them something to fear,' he smiled.

It was so far from a nice smile that even 'scary' didn't come close to describing it.

If anything, the expression on Obi-Wan's face was cheerful maliciousness rolled into a sharp-toothed smile and bright eyes.

Twisting his fingers, Obi-Wan drew a rune in the air in front of him, taking advantage of the fact that his hands were spotted with blood from when he'd been captured. The blood wasn't his, fortunately, and so he wasn't the one who'd pay the magical price for utilising blood rune magic.

Especially considering the rune was one specifically designed by Obi-Wan himself to do damage to the one whose blood was used to cast the rune.

Bringing his other hand to his mouth, Obi-Wan bit the tip of his forefinger hard enough to draw blood before he began tracing another rune in the air parallel to the one he'd just completed.

Unlike the first rune, this one was intended to be used by the caster with their own blood. It's purpose was to invigorate the caster, providing them an influx of energy and focal power to carry out intensive wandless magic. The sort that most wizards couldn't actually survive doing in the west because of generations of relying on wands to channel a person's innate magic.

Even after so long, Obi-Wan still had to fall back on this runic magic at times.

Now was one such time.

'Maybe I should have stayed at Hogwarts for the holidays anyway,' Obi-Wan thought wryly. 'Avoiding Qui-Gon and dealing with the burning was a walk in the park compared to taking on some new age Death Eaters without a wand and injured.'

He sighed.

"Wouldn't have been anywhere near as fun though," he said aloud, sarcasm thick in his voice.

Stretching his neck to the side, Obi-Wan forced it to crack audibly, sighing at the release of tension in the joints before doing the same with his back and shoulders. He stretched each leg next, gripping his ankle and pulling the leg up behind him, heel pressing lightly against his buttocks. The crack from his right knee was loud enough to echo in the room and Obi-Wan paused.

If there was anyone nearby, they’d have probably heard that.

After thirty seconds with no one storming into the room, wand brandished, Obi-Wan figured there was no one nearby enough to hear him unless he started hollering for attention and continued to stretch his stiff body.

‘Fighting without a wand requires physical dexterity, after all,’ he reminded himself, smirking as his right wrist finally cracked. His smirk fell away after a moment. ‘And with no pain potions to hand, stretching is the only thing I can do.’

Taking a deep breath, Obi-Wan let his eyes fall shut, exhaling after eight seconds and inhaled again, holding it for eight before exhaling. Then he opened his eyes and moved.

The door had a simple lock on the other side, more like the latch on a backgate than a lock, and it was the work of seconds to jiggle it open. Hinges were silent, which Obi-Wan was thankful for as he evaluated the barren room beyond his own little cell.

Stone walls, aged and crumbling with time and lack of care, discoloured and stained in places with what looked like flood damage, held up a roof with missing slate in places that exposed the inside of the building to the elements. Rotted wooden beams overhead with large nails driven in them to hang various objects gave Obi-Wan a clue as to where he’d been ‘stored’.

Some sort of farmhouse.

‘How sad. Good hideaways must be so hard to come by nowadays.’

A small cupboard, paint cracked and dingy – it might have once been white but time had turned it to a dusty, musty yellow – was the only piece of furniture in the room besides the two doors that Obi-Wan spied. The first door he had just come through, making the second most likely the exit. Hopefully.

Kneeling down, Obi-Wan pried the door of the cupboard open, wincing as the hinges creaked. Inside was covered in a thick layer of dust but clear marks in the dust revealed that items had been stored in there recently. A narrow piece of cloth sat on the top shelf of the cupboard, looking more like a potato sack to Obi-Wan than any fancy material most of the Death Eaters Obi-Wan had known favoured.

Perhaps these new age Death Eaters were low on funds?

He snickered.

Reaching out, Obi-Wan carefully picked up the cloth, feeling that it contained something long and thin. Whatever it was, it was either very important or very dangerous – or perhaps both; the curses on the cloth flared to life even as Obi-Wan pushed his magic through his hand and neutralised them.

His fingers tingled at the sensation.

A cold sweat broke out on his brow and Obi-Wan sighed. Pushing that much magic that quick always exhausted him, especially when he was already injured. Although, the injury was less severe than it could have been, some bruising on his torso and possibly a cracked rib or two. He just had to take care not to turn those cracked ribs into broken ones.

Obi-Wan grimaced. He’d already crossed off ‘choking on your own blood from a punctured lung’ on his bucketlist, he really had no desire to experience that a second time.

Giving others a punctured lung, however? Well, that was something Obi-Wan was perfectly happy to do.

Unwrapping the cloth, watchful for any hidden or delayed curses, Obi-Wan frowned in consternation when a wand that wasn’t his own was revealed. The pale wood was unusual, most wands had a finish applied to them to darken them, either black or deep brown – Obi-Wan could recall very few witches or wizards who didn’t alter their wands appearance.

Taking the tip of the wand, Obi-Wan slid it out of the rest of the cloth, body spasming in shock as the rest of it was revealed.

Well.

“No wonder they had so many curses on this fucking thing,” he murmured.

Obi-Wan bit his lip.

“Just until I get my own back,” he decided, resolutely not looking at the handle of the wand even as he gripped it in the hand without a broken thumb. He was fortunate he was ambidextrous.

Dropping the cloth on the floor, Obi-Wan moved to the second door, noting the bolt-lock above the handle. It was designed to be opened only from the inside meaning this door was almost definitely the exit.

‘Time to egress, I think.’ Obi-Wan cautiously raised the wand he had temporarily claimed as his own and flicked it, gesturing at the handle which rattled, clicked and turned.

The door opened on silent hinges.

Outside was hardly any different to what Obi-Wan was used to. Craggy outcrops of grey and black rocks, pale green mossy-grass, and deep grey clouds that looked like angry, brutal brushstrokes on a canvas. The taste of salt in the air was different and off to the left, down the hill, Obi-Wan saw pebbly shore and silvery blue waves crashing into it with enough force to crest over the sharper edges of the inlet’s rough, cliff-like sides.

Down on the shoreline stood six figures clothed in dark outfits that Obi-Wan doubted a true Death Eater would have ever willingly wore; if anything, they looked more like altered muggle clothing than Obi-Wan would have expected of Neo-Death Eaters.

Not that their fashion-sense mattered. But it was useful to take note of the clothing they wore just to be on the look-out for any concealed weapons – looser clothing made hiding weapons easier even if material was prone to catching at inopportune moments.

Obi-Wan’s own outfit was a mix between loose, flowing material and tighter fabrics; his trousers loose enough on his legs to make climbing, running, and kicking easy enough but not so loose that the material would snag. The sleeves of his jacket kept his arms covered and the leather was hard and thick enough to protect him from glancing blows and even the slash of a blade. The outfit was decidedly muggle in appearance but the fabrics were a mix of non-magical thread and magically-spun thread from a variety of sources – including the thread of a silkworm known for its highly resistant to magic which, when spun into clothing, protected the wearer exceptionally well from a host of magical attacks; and cost a pretty galleon to boot.

Still, the shirt had been a gift so Obi-Wan treasured it, wearing it for its intended purpose everytime he woke with a feeling that something bad was going to happen in the immediate future. His premonitions – gut feelings really but apparently that was still part of premonitions according to the old loon in the cave – rarely steered him wrong, hence why he wore the shirt now.

It was probably why he wasn’t bleeding out from the force of the attack that had landed him on this lump of rock in the middle of the North Sea.

Using the wand he was temporarily borrowing, Obi-Wan cast a disillusionment charm on himself, making certain to modify it to affect where he walked so the grass wouldn’t reveal him. Then he set off down the hill towards the shore, very curious as to what the hell was going on and whether he’d be calling Aurors to deal with bodies or not bothering with them at all.

It really depended on what he heard.

“How long before the others arrive?” The tallest of the six asked. His voice was nasally and, as far as Obi-Wan could figure, his eyes seemed to be a slate-grey in the cloudy daylight. “We haven’t long before the ceremony begins.”

Ceremony?

‘Oh I hope I wasn’t going to be their sacrifice.’ Obi-Wan stopped just before the pebble shore began and the mossy-grass ended, not wanting to tempt fate with the sound he’d make on the pebbles. A featherlight charm would solve that problem but sometimes it was wiser to have a bit of distance when spying.

Even if one wasn’t visible.

“They’ve been delayed,” another answered, voice deeper, “some wizard asking questions about our sacrifice.” He was shorter than the rest, but made up for his height with the power he commanded over the others. It showed in the way they all shifted to face him with differential body language.

Obi-Wan’s lip curled. ‘How unfortunate for them I have no desire to be their precious sacrifice.’

Then the wizard’s words registered.

Someone was asking questions about him? Obi-Wan. Who would be–

“Is he being brought here?” A woman asked, her voice the only indicator that she differed from the others. Or at least, their voice was feminine, Obi-Wan couldn’t definitively determine their gender. “Can I play with him?”

“No, Mostro, you can’t,” the short one replied curtly, and Anders sighed. “We may be able to use him and will need him whole, not half devoured by the man-eater you are.”

“You enjoy my man-eating ways, Anders,” Mostro countered. “It makes for good business opportunities.”

The smile Mostro gave Anders had Obi-Wan stiffening. Those teeth .

Vampire.

‘Now, I’m extra glad I’m this fucking far away,’ he thought, raising the borrowed wand and tracing through the air with it. He hadn’t thought these new age Death Eaters would align themselves with vampires but, then again, Voldemort had aligned with werewolves to bolster his ranks in the last wizarding war.

Muggle propaganda about vampires was largely inaccurate in terms of vampire weaknesses but was unfortunately accurate about their strengths. Their strength and speed easily outstripped most humans and a fair number of magical beings and beasts, though they would toast just as much as any wizard if a dragon took a disliking to them.

Vampires seldom possessed any magical ability that presented itself like a witch or wizard. Usually they were the result of a pairing between a magical human and a vampire – though there had been a recorded case of a vampire-Centaur four hundred years ago.

Those vampires who possessed such magical ability tended to be female, a quirk of genetics that Obi-Wan had no firm theory on but that he felt made sense considering the nature of female vampires as often more adaptable and capable of more unusual abilities compared to their male counterparts.

The female of a species always did tend to be the more terrifying, Obi-Wan knew.

Before any of the others could speak, a loud crack echoed across the beach, causing the assembled Death Eaters to jump and draw their wands; the vampire, Mostro, included.

Two more Death Eaters stood a few feet away from the group, a figure trapped between them struggling against the ropes restraining him.

“He put up more fight than we expected even with the ambush,” the taller of the two newcomers grumbled, as they dragged the restrained figure towards the group.

Obi-Wan’s heart stuttered in his chest.

Only once. Then it steadied and his eyes hardened to silver discs of cold rage.

“And his wand?” Anders asked expectantly.

The shorter newcomer held up a hand. “Here.” He tossed a long, dark coloured wand in Anders direction. “Almost broke the damned thing before Malfoy managed to finish tying this bastard up.”

Malfoy scowled. “I’ve told you enough times, that’s not my name, Dolarhyde!” He unceremoniously shoved the figure to his knees on the pebble beach. “Just because I’m related to that turncoat, doesn’t make me a Malfoy!”

“If Draco Malfoy died, you would have a credible claim to the Malfoy family estate, regardless of Abraxas Malfoy’s refusal to recognise your father’s bastard claim means little when you would be the last blooded Malfoy,” Anders calmly pointed out. “Which is part of our plan.”

“And of the newborn brat?” Not-Malfoy spat.

Anders shrugged. “Childhood illnesses are sadly common in such old lineages as the Malfoy line. Most unfortunate.”

Not-Malfoy’s ire died out. He smirked. “Very unfortunate.”

“He looks quite tasty for one of his age,” Mostro said suddenly. “Are you quite certain I can’t taste him?”

Ander fixed Mostro with a sharp look. “Quite. Leave him.”

Mostro sighed.

Obi-Wan sighed also.

‘I need to do something,’ he thought. ‘And I don’t have time to wait for the Aurors to arrive.’

He bite his lip.

The borrowed wand in his hand tingled in anticipation. Obi-Wan couldn’t see it thanks to the disillusionment charm but he looked down at his hand anyway. It unnerved him how easily the wand worked for him, but the discomfort he felt had to be pushed aside for the sake of the present situation.

He had a soulmate to save.

‘When I wished I could see Qui-Gon again, I didn’t mean like this,’ he thought, carefully moving along the edge of the pebble beach, sticking to the mossy-grass perimeter until he was only a few feet from Qui-Gon.

As he steadied himself, Obi-Wan flicked the wand once, twice, three times hopeful that the spell he’d cast would work.

Then he had no more time to think about it as he stepped onto the pebble beach, dropping the disillusionment charm at the same time that he summoned Qui-Gon’s wand and banished the ropes around the transfiguration professor.

“Hello there,” he said pleasantly, handing Qui-Gon his wand the moment the other wizard had his hands free. The two Death Eaters – Not-Malfoy and Dolarhyde – dropped to the ground before they could even turn towards Obi-Wan, knocked out cold with an especially vicious curse.

The remaining Death Eaters immediately jumped into action.

“You hold them off, I’ll deal with Mostro,” Obi-Wan instructed Qui-Gon who didn’t even spare him a nod, launching into an all-out attack on the Death Eaters who came at them.

Obi-Wan didn’t pity them in the slightest but the curses Qui-Gon threw at them were the sort that were unequivocally dark .

He probably shouldn't find that as attractive as he did.

The vampire chose that moment to dive at Obi-Wan, slamming into him with enough force that he fell back onto the pebble beach.

He struggled viciously with Mostro, managing to hold get a hand around her neck to keep her face from his neck, but her own hands gripped his neck with considerably more strength.

Obi-Wan didn’t flail at the sudden lack of oxygen, although his chest spasmed, instead taking advantage of Mostro’s intense desire to strangle him to position the borrowed wand directly at Mostro’s dead hart. He couldn’t cast aloud, something which prevented Obi-Wan from using the Killing Curse, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t roast the bitch trying to choke the life out of him.

“Why are you smiling, dinner?” She snarled, eyes bleeding red as the blood pounding through Obi-Wan’s body triggered her hunters instincts.

Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow.

Mostro screamed.

The moment she wrenched herself away from him, throwing herself into the ocean spray so quickly that she caused a wave of water to splash on a Death Eater, stunning him mid-motion and allowing Qui-Gon to knock him out, Obi-Wan rolled away, coughing as air returned to his lungs.

He didn’t stop moving however, scrambling to his feet and throwing a hex at another Death Eater who came at him.

Qui-Gon was holding off three Death Eaters with admirable skill, but Obi-Wan knew that defense wasn’t Qui-Gon’s forte. Without hesitation, Obi-Wan struck out with a large wave of magic, slamming into the three Death Eaters and their shield. It cracked and shattered.

The Death Eater that Obi-Wan had thrown a hex at recovered and aimed a stunner at him. He dodged it easily, spinning on the pebble beach and kicking up pebbles with the motion.

That gave him an idea.

"Mache einen Mann aus Stein," he said softly, not wishing to broadcast the spell, aiming at the pebbles in front of him. They coalesced together as Obi-Wan threw a stunner at the Death Eater.

In seconds there stood a mostly human looking figure made of the pebbles on the beach, scraggly seaweed atop its head in an approximation of hair. Its face was blank with neither a mouth nor eyes, and Obi-Wan pointed his wand at the three Death Eaters, Qui-Gon was still facing.

"Schlag diese Leute bewusstlos," he ordered, turning his attention from the pebble creature, to deal with the last Death Eater that would still be standing in short order.

The sound of pebbles moving on the shore was so loud it sounded like an avalanche of small rocks, drawing the attention of both Qui-Gon and the three Death Eaters. The Death Eaters dived apart when a ball of pebbles hurled through the air, created by the charmed creature.

Qui-Gon recognised that its target were the Death Eaters and so took the opportunity to stun one of them before they could recover from the unexpected attack. The other two got themselves under control quickly enough, banding together to bombard the pebble creature with a series of powerful curses.

They did nothing to it.

Qui-Gon couldn’t help but be impressed. Obi-Wan was going to have to show him that spell.

Obi-Wan.

Qui-Gon’s attention snapped onto the red-haired professor, noting that he seemed to have the other Death Eater well in-hand. He itched to go to his side but thought it unwise when the remaining two Death Eaters he’d been dealing with were still conscious.

A pained cry had him looking at said Death Eaters and he blinked at the sight. The pebble creature held one of the Death Eaters aloft in a tight grip. Qui-Gon had a feeling they may be experiencing broke ribs from the force of the grip. He didn’t have it in himself to care.

“Stupefy.” A red beam struck the Death Eater held in the pebble creature’s grip.

As soon as the Death Eater was unconscious, the creature dropped them, uncaring of the way they collapsed in a heap on the ground. The other Death Eater, witnessing this, panicked.

They spun on their heel, only to find nothing happened.

Qui-Gon’s lip quirked. Anti-Apparition wards. Genius.

Before the pebble creature could reach the Death Eater, Qui-Gon decided to take pity on them, shooting off a stunner that the Death Eater didn’t even try to block. Evidently they’d figured out that unconsciousness via stunner was a better option than crushed into unconsciousness.

A third body dropped to the pebble beach in short order and Qui-Gon turned to look at Obi-Wan stood over the last Death Eater.

Obi-Wan ignored Qui-Gon for the moment, even though he was burning to check on the other wizard, focusing his attention on the pebble creature now stood motionlessly near the ocean waves. He stepped up beside it, aiming his wand at it. "Kehr zur Erde zurück," he intoned softly, tapping a pebble of the creature, stepping back as the creature was unmade, the charm ended. "Danke."

“German?”

“An interesting spell that is not to be abused.”

Obi-Wan looked at Qui-Gon.

Qui-Gon looked at him.

All the reasons, Obi-Wan had told himself since he’d discovered that Qui-Gon was his soulmate seemed so very inconsequential when he stared into those grey-blue eyes on a pebble beach out in the North Sea.

They moved at the same time.

Lips crashed together, hands tangled in clothing, bodies pressed close.

Obi-Wan’s eyes slipped shut and he let out a moan, gripping the fabric of Qui-Gon’s cloak tighter. Qui-Gon answered with a breathy sound of his own and a hand cupping the back of Obi-Wan’s head.

They lost themselves in the kiss.

“Do you two have kinks or is this an unexpected development?” An amused voice asked from behind them.

Obi-Wan’s hand snapped up, wand aimed unerringly at the owner of the voice. Qui-Gon had jumped back, his own wand coming up at the same time.

Obi-Wan blinked.

“Harry?”

“Obi-Wan.” Harry nodded. His posture was tense, something in his eyes wary. “Nice wand,” he commented.

Obi-Wan looked at it. He looked at Harry.

“Shit.”

He dropped the wand as though burned.

“A necessary evil,” he said, wincing at the poor wording. “I’m not sure where my own is, and I needed a wand,” he explained.

Harry let out a breath. “Right,” he said, “been there before.” His posture relaxed.

Obi-Wan breathed a sigh of relief.

“Is that–” Qui-Gon began before cutting himself off. He looked at Obi-Wan with wide eyes.

“Desperate measures.” Obi-Wan shrugged.

Qui-Gon looked at him disbelievingly.

“Did you bring company or are you just visiting on your own?” Obi-Wan drawled, looking at Harry who smirked.

“Brought an entire team with me,” he replied, nodding his head and raising his right hand to signal someone. “Knew it had to be something big if you were sending me a message via text.”

“Text?”

Obi-Wan shrugged again. “I cast a spell to activate my mobile and send an automated text to Harry’s when I realised they had you too,” he answered. “Seemed like a good idea and the best I could do at the time.”

“Besides attacking a group of dark wizards without backup, you mean?” Harry countered, smirk growing when Obi-Wan rolled his eyes.

“Pot, kettle,” he replied.

Harry laughed.

“You are impossible,” Qui-Gon muttered. Obi-Wan grimaced.

“In more ways than one,” Harry agreed, bending down to pick up the wand Obi-Wan had dropped. “If we can’t find your original wand,” he began slowly, “I think you should keep this one.”

Obi-Wan stared at Harry. “You’re joking right?”

Harry shook his head.

“No, this is a pretty powerful wand and –” he cleared his throat “– it’d be nice to see it used for defending people for once.” He held it out to Obi-Wan, handle-first.

Obi-Wan hesitated.

“You’re certain?” He pressed.

Harry nodded. “Completely.”

Obi-Wan reached out. The handle felt more welcoming this time, less like he was gripping a bone and more like an exceptionally smooth piece of ivory – which was still bone in a way but semantics. As his fingers tightened around it, the handle itself shifted, reshaping itself to fit his palm, no longer looking so deathlike even if it remained the same pale colour it was.

“I’ve never seen a wand do that,” Harry remarked after a long moment.

“It’s a rare thing,” Qui-Gon said softly, awe audible in his voice. “I’ve only ever heard of it happening but I met a wizard in China whose father had had a wand change to suit him. Its core properties remained, but the external changes reflected a change in purpose of the wand itself.” He looked up at Obi-Wan’s shocked face. “It’s said to only happen when a wand find a wizard worth changing allegiance for without a battle."

Obi-Wan looked down at the wand – his wand – and swallowed. “No pressure then,” he quipped weakly.

Shit .