Title: Jeffrey's Grimoire
Author: drovar drovar@mediaone.net
Rating: G
Summary: The first in what may be a series of just for fun stories. Think of the X-Files characters in a Harry Potter style universe.
Disclaimer: The X-Files characters belong to 1013 and not me (pity that). Nothing has been borrowed from the Harry Potter books and the universe detailed herein is mine.


Part 1

Jeffrey Spender tossed his the old leather-bound textbook on floor and covered his eyes with his palms and sighed deeply. Why did magick have to have to be so hard for him? He'd studied sigils all weekend and still could barely tell one from another. Even the simplest cantrip left him confused and sometimes lost. Brian said it would just take some time but Jeffrey doubted there was that much time in the whole world.

It wasn't fair. He wasn't handsome like Fox, or clever and fast like Alex, or a magical prodigy like Dana, or big and strong like Walter, he wasn't even smart and inventive like his dorm-mate Brian. He was just Jeff, plain ordinary, nothing special about, Jeff.

He sighed a second time, punched his pillows into a less lumpy mass and picked up the thick leathery tome.

That wasn't strictly true he realized, being ordinary. He was the only student he knew of who had a reviled Dark Mage for a father. He'd been surprised enough when school administrators had shown up at the hovel he shared with his mother, and even more so when they'd given him a simple admissions test and bundled him off to the 'School of the Metaphysical Arts'. He quickly figured out he was here so that he could be more closely watched. He didn't mind, not really. He might turn out to be a quisling, or even a Dark Mage himself. They say you never know.

His father might have been a maniacal master of forbidden lore, but he'd never been much of a provider. They owned nearly nothing and lived on what small wages his mother from her drudgery in the village shops and the pittance he could earn running errands for the few shopkeepers he could convince to trust him. They had enough coin for food, and little else. He'd kept in contact with her for the first few months after his arrival, but her half-hearted replies to his letters came further and further apart as time went by. Finally they had stopped altogether. His last three letters had gone unanswered except for a terse final note that said, "You're just like your father."

He was just pondering having a go at the "Magickal uses of ichor" section or covering the glowstone and trying for what would likely be another uneasy night of restless sleep, when a sharp knock came at the door.

It was half-past ten bells, he could hear the half-chimed minor chords ringing softly from the giant, gargoyle wreathed tower in the school commons. He started to turn and ask Brian to get the door when he remembered that his redheaded schoolmate was off visiting his parents, "Good mundane stock," Brian always said proudly. He wouldn't be back till morning.

Jeffrey couldn't imagine who it could be at this time for night. What few 'friends' he had wouldn't venture up the creaky stairs to the drafty lair the two boys shared, not unless they needed something, and never after dinner. There'd been some talk in common room about a shadowed figure seen sneaking furtively around the dorms late in the evenings. Jeffrey hadn't given the stories much thought. He'd heard the same tale over and over again since he'd been here, and never seen anything himself. But now, suddenly realizing how isolated and alone he was, he was less sure.

"It might to be trouble," he thought. When the knock came again, louder, more insistent than before, he knew for certain it was trouble.

Jeffrey lay the book down carefully on his nightstand and picked up his glowstone. The slight warmth the enchanted rock gave off gave him a bit of reassurance.

He tossed the rock in his hand judging its use as a weapon. Well, at least it was heavy.

"Who's there?" he asked the door.

The knock was repeated a third time, nearly a pounding now. The loud raps causing the old wooden door to snap and rattle on its hinges.

"Who's there?" he demanded.

Holding the rock in front of him like a talisman he advanced closer to the door. Had he locked it? He must have, whoever it was would have simply opened the door if not. It had to be locked.

He edged closer. The light of the glowstone filled in the shadows of the room near the door. Nothing was obviously amiss. He took another step. He could see the deadbolt clearly now. He held back an abrupt gasp as he spied the bolt still snugly in its rest. The door wasn't locked at all.

The door rattled and bucked as it was struck from the other side by something, something strong and angry. He jumped back a half step and stifled a yelp, as the door seemed to deform beneath the thundering blows. He could see bits and splinters of wood flying off the door's heavy oaken planks.

The pounding stopped, and at least for a moment wasn't repeated. He dared take one steadying breath. He reached out tentatively toward the lock. Even if he were lucky he had no more than a moment. One more beating like that and the door would simply give. If he could get the dead bolt in place he could . . . .

"Could what Jeff?" he thought as his right hand reached forward. "Gain another few seconds? Before whatever it was got tired of playing and simply burst in and did whatever it intended?"

Holding his breath he slid forward as silently and as quickly as he could. He lifted the dead bolt and slid it into place. Stepping back he looked behind him at the single high window in the room. It was shuttered against the night air. It would take him precious seconds to open the shutters and raise the window. But even if he could do that before the door was split open and whatever ravening horror surely waited impatiently on the outside was inside, even if could, where would he go? Their lonely turret was uncounted feet above the dark courtyard. If he jumped he'd die, or worse, break every bone in his body, there'd be no fixing that.

Stilling himself with what little concentration he could muster Jeff dropped the glowstone on the bed and turned back to the door. He raised his hands and concentrated. Closing his eyes, he let his hands move in the weaving patterns of the somatic component for the only spell he could muster that could be of any true use.

He jumped again as another blow slammed into the door. He could hear the old wood crack and give under the force. He continued his spell, and began to feel the rising tension of magick in the room. Closing his eyes he began to whisper the Druid words of binding and holding.

"Eidheann, Sas, Gramaich,' he chanted.

His voice faltered and nearly died when another blow sent the deadbolt clanging to the stone floor at his feet. He offered up a silent prayer to whatever powers watched over the wretched and lost and with a snap of his thoughts and hands and words, released the spell.

For a moment reality seemed to waver and he felt a wave of dizziness rise up over him. The "Ward of Binding" was a second rank spell, one they wouldn't actually study for weeks. But Dana, the ever ahead, had already mastered all the second rank and even a few of the third rank spells. She'd spent one afternoon showing him the spell over and over. Showing off he supposed, and laughing as he tried to open stuck doors and cupboards and jam jar lids.

It had apparently rubbed off. He'd seriously thank her later, if there were a later.

He suddenly realized that the pounding had stopped; the room was quite and still. Quickly retrieving his glowstone he stepped closer to the door. It was battered and broken, with one hinge off and one hinge gamely hanging on, but his spell was holding. He felt a moment of unfamiliar pride in himself. He'd done it, the spell worked. Whatever was out there must have realized that it couldn't get in and left, he was safe, he had won.

Jeffrey took a step toward the door, listening carefully. No sounds of breathing, no shuffling feet, nothing. It really was gone.

Taking another step forward Jeffrey reached for the door handle. It was almost in his grasp when something inside him, some reptilian part of his mind that normally slumbered unaware, was abruptly awake and screaming. There was something fundamentally wrong here. And then he smelled it. A faint acrid scent, something borne from the grave of hope and life itself. There was only one wretched smell like that in the entire world.

He leaped back in time to avoid being de-brained by flying planks of wood as the door simply exploded. He dodged toward the bed, which proved an unfortunate choice. The bottom section of the door sliced through the air as he dove. There was a sickening painful thud at his left temple and the world suddenly spun and darkness rose up around him.

As the last of the light faded from his mind he wondered what his father intended. As the room filled with that same acrid smell of smoke he realized he didn't really care. His father was here, and Jeffrey was likely as good as dead.

* * *

It was with considerable surprise that Jeff found himself being shaken awake. There was light penetrating his closed eyelids and voices, and sound, it had to be morning. Given the pain he felt, he had to be alive. He opened his eyes, squinting against the glare to find himself in the grip of Walter, the school's Head Boy, and "The toughest house leader your sorry ass will ever meet," as Walter himself was fond of saying.

"Lemme 'lone." Jeff muttered as he pushed ineffectively against the larger boys arms.

"Stop that you idiot, he may have a concussion," he heard the familiar voice of the school's Ollamn say.

Walter seemed to hesitate as if considering giving Jeffrey another shaking for good measure, when gnarled hands slapped the back of his head and pushed him out of the way.

You've got a nasty bump there Jeffrey. I need to get you down to the Spideal where I can treat you properly. "Can you walk?"

"Ya'course," Jeffrey mumbled as he got unsteadily to his feet.

The world pitched and yawed as he stood. He tumbled forward and felt powerful arms grabbing and hoisting him off of his feet.

"Careful Walter, he not a sack of potatoes."

Jeffrey heard little of the conversation that followed. Walter carried him across the room with more or less care and waited as the Ollamn opened the door and stepped aside. Jeffrey felt a moment of confusion through the pain and vertigo. The door? Why was there a door?

He stared in disbelief at the slowly retreating door. It was solid, intact, as if last night had never happened. But it had, he knew it had. There was a lump the size of a goose egg on his skull to prove it. Walter's footing slipped and the jostle sent another wave of pain and dizziness through Jeffrey's head, driving out any thoughts of mysterious doors that regrew over night.

"Sorry," he heard Walter mutter quietly. The big Head Boy continued on, with more care apparently now. It was long hours before Jeffrey would ponder that mystery again, and what the strange events meant to him and his friends.

#

Part 2

"Jeffrey."

Jeffrey Spender blinked against the bright morning light and closed his eyes, trying to will the voice away. He was tired, his head hurt and he wanted nothing more than to fall back into dreamless sleep.

"Jeffrey."

The voice paused. There was a huff and a scrape from a nearby window.

"Jeffrey, wake up."

Jeffrey opened his eyes. His best friend and dorm mate, Brian Pendrell hung awkwardly in the small window near the bed. The sunlight streaming through the windows lit up his red hair like an improbable halo.

Brian wiggled some more and paused to look up. A wide grin broke across his freckled face when he saw the other boy was awake.

"C'mon Jeff, gimmie a hand," Brian said and wiggled another inch through the window.

Jeffrey sighed and slid out of bed. At least his bed was screened off from the rest of the ward. He grabbed Brian by both arms and pulled. The effort made the bump on his head throb and for a moment dizziness threatened to send both boys tumbling to the floor. He gave one final tug while Brian kicked and the two boys collapsed into a disorderly pile beside the bed. As they untangled and stood, Brian's totem, a bitternut hickory wand, fell and bounced on the floor with a resounding clatter.

Brian gave a short Anglo-Saxon curse and grabbed his wand. He was stuffing it back into this belt just as the sound of approaching footsteps echoed through the empty ward. Someone was coming.

"Ollamh Garon," Brian said in a frightened squeak of a voice. "If he catches me here I'm dead, or a toad or something." Jeffrey reached up and quickly closed the window and slid back into bed.

Both boys looked franticly for a place for Brian to hide as whoever it was drew close. The footsteps stopped just outside the screen. "Under the bed, hurry," Jeffrey whispered as a hand appeared at the edge of the screen.

With a nearly silent 'eep' Brian dropped to the floor behind the bed. Jeffrey put his fist to his mouth and began a noisy coughing fit as the screen was folded back. The coughs made the bump on his skull throb mightily. He gave a final half-hearted cough and settled back against the pillows..

"You're awake Jeffrey, good. We were beginning to worry."

Jeffrey felt relief spread through him though he tried to keep it from being too obvious on his face. The speaker was Ollamh Smith, young, cheerful and easy to get along with; Smith was as welcome as much or more than old Ollamh Garon was avoided. Smith had a wide, honest face beset by dark eyes and topped with close cropped blond hair.

There was a small scuff from the backside of the bed. Jeffrey let out another string of coughs.

"Let me take a look at that lump. It was bigger than a goose egg last time I checked. I'm surprised you didn't crack your skull open." the Ollamh said and began to move to the other side of the bed. Jeffrey held his breath and waited for the inevitable. The Ollamh had to notice Brian, even if he had managed to stuff himself under the bed.

Instead of the berating Jeffrey had steeled himself against he felt the Ollamh's fingers probing gently at the lump on his left temple.

"Does it hurt much?"

Jeffrey winced under even the young Ollamh's gentle touch. "A little, not too bad." Jeffrey allowed himself a small white lie. It really didn't hurt too awfully if he didn't move or breath or anything.

"I see," the Ollamh said. He began to move closer, stopped, glanced down and stepped a bit to the right. "Any dizziness?" He slid his thumb up through Jeffrey's hair feeling along the curve of his skull. "Does it hurt anywhere else?"

"Nope and nope," Jeffrey replied more brightly than he felt. The bump did hurt, but the Ollamh would keep him here for a month if they thought he was really injured.

Ollamh Smith removed his hands and began taking notes on a mundane clipboard. The clipboard itself was nothing unusual Jeffrey had grown up in the mundane world after all. But the fact that the Ollamh was using it certainly was. The other Ollamh who cared for the sick and injured students, the Ynseyder who taught most of the classes, even some of the elder students used scribe goms. The goms were small hearth spirits, Jeffrey still thought of them as elves, who did much of the repetitious work around the enormous school. If there was a filthy, menial, boring task, chances were very good that a gom would be doing it.

Ollamh Garon usually kept himself surrounded by a small flock of goms, each one paying rapt attention and writing furiously when he spoke or yawned or blinked. Brian claimed the goms sat up all night sorting out something meaningful from all the babble. Jeffrey thought Brian wasn't all that far wrong. Ollamh Smith wasn't using a gom today; in fact Jeffrey realized he'd never seen him with any of the small pointy-eared house spirits tagging along

The Ollamh examined Jeffrey's eyes closely and seemed pleased enough when he followed the tip of his finger back and forth and up and down. Jeffrey answered more questions about the bump on his head though Ollamh Smith seemed content not to question exactly how Jeffrey got the goose egg. The young Ollamh jotted a few more notes on his clipboard, while nodding in reply to Jeffrey's answers.

"I think you're going to be fine. I don't see any lasting damage. It's a nasty lump, but just a lump."

He made one more note on his clipboard and fixed Jeffrey with a serious expression.

"I'm ordering two days bed rest," The Ollamh said.

Jeffrey stared back in shock. "Two days? Two whole days?"

"Two days," The Ollamh answered holding up two fingers for emphasis. "I don't want to see you out of bed Jeffrey. You've had a serious injury; there could be unforeseen consequences. We can't have you fainting, falling down stairs or accidentally polymorphing a Ynseyder into a monkey . . . how would they teach?"

He winked as he stepped back and started putting the screen back in place. He glanced over his shoulder and leaned closer and whispered conspiratorially. "Besides how would you ever tell the difference?"

Jeffrey stifled a laugh as the screen was placed back. He listened to the Ollamh cross the ward and leave before leaning over the bed.

"He's gone, c'mon up."

Brian Pendrell emerged from beneath the bed brushing dust from his cloak and then oddly sucking on the little finger on his right hand. Jeffrey reached over and flicked a persistent dusty bunny off Brian's cloak. As his fingers flicked at the cloak he realized that Brian wasn't wearing his school robes beneath it. Instead of the traditional plain gray underclass robes Brian wore mundane clothing. But that was only allowed on the weekends. Jeffrey lay back in his bed, suddenly confused. How long had he been asleep?

"What day is it?"

"Wot?" Brian mumbled around his finger.

"Today, what's today?"

"Saturday, you doof," Brian replied after pulling his finger from his mouth.

"Saturday," Jeffrey said after closing his dropped jaw. "But that means I've been asleep for two days!"

"Yup," Brian replied. "You should have seen yourself. You were all black and blue and swollen up." He grimaced and pantomimed a huge lump on the side of his skull.

"Fox and Alex said that you were dead, but Dana and I told them that they were just stupid and to shut up," said Brian.

Jeffrey grinned at that. "What happened to your finger?" he asked when Brian popped the digit back into his mouth.

"The Ollamh stepped on it," Brian said matter of factly.

Jeffrey blinked. "He stepped on it?"

Brian nodded, and mumbled in agreement.

"Then he had to know you were here."

Brain seemed to consider that for a moment the nodded his agreement again. As if suddenly remembering why he was there Brain walked quietly to trunk at the foot of the bed. He opened it slowly, pausing with a wince when the hinges squeaked. With the trunk open only a few inches he quickly pulled out Jeffrey's day clothes and tossed them on the bed.

"Get dressed," he said as Jeffrey sat and stared at the pile of clothes.

"I can't," Jeffrey said. "The Ollamh said I couldn't leave for two days."

Brian looked at Jeffrey as if he were insane.

"Jeff, it's Saturday, the Roghainn is today, the festival, the fairy wind, everything. Besides the Ollamh only said he didn't want to *see* you out of bed. You can at least watch the choosing and get back here without being seen."

Jeffrey considered the logic of that to be pretty doubtful but scrambled as quickly as possible into his day clothes.

"We can stay in one of the high halls above the common room. Nobody ever watches from up there, we'll be safe," said Brian. He opened the window, looked out.

He looked back. "Simple," he said and then wiggled through.

Jeffrey considered the multitude of things that could go wrong with Brian's 'simple' plan then shrugged and climbed carefully through the window and pulled it closed behind him. After all, the Roghainn was only once a year; it wasn't every day you got to see the fairy court in session.

[END Part 2]

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Archived: November 02, 2001