Harry Potter/Dark Is Rising/Labyrinth crossover drabble. It ended differently than I pictured it, but oh well.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves.
-Anne Sexton, "Her Kind"
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
Sarah strode quickly down a sidewalk in London, a large box of posters and announcements for the newest play in her arms. The wind whipped her long brown hair out of her face and caused her to shiver with cold. She was panting lightly at the exertion, but she couldn't stop yet.
"I'm late. I'm late. I'm late, I'm late, I'm late. Not time to say hello, goodbye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late," she sang under her breath. She felt something of an affinity with Alice in Wonderland, ever since that night she returned from the Underground.
She was unable to see where she placed her feet, and no matter how the goblins respected her, it was in their nature to be mischievous. She tripped one of those small, invisible goblins and the box fell from her hands. Several of the posters flew through the air around her, and she barely managed to keep from falling completely. Luckily the ground was dry, so the stack of papers wasn't ruined.
She didn't notice the two men approaching as she quickly gathered up her fallen posters and thrust them haphazardly into the box.
Albus Dumbledore enjoyed these occasional trips through Muggle London. It was even more pleasant that his old friend, Will Stanton, had visited at last. Will often traveled around the world, seemingly unable to stay in one place for too long. It had been years since he had last seen the other man, but he hadn't changed. Will had an ageless quality about him, making it impossible to tell how old he was, and Albus felt that it was rude to ask. He had never seen him with a wand, either, but Albus was certain that he was a wizard. He was unsure where this certainty stemmed from, but his mind strangely enough never dwelt on this irregularity either.
Currently they were deep in discussion on various topics, from archaic wizarding texts to Muggle history, when the plight of a young woman caught their attention.
Sarah scowled, muttering to herself. "That was not funny," she stated, eyes cutting in a glare at the cackling goblin. She rolled her eyes when he scampered off, completely unrepentant. "Damn it. I'm late, the Director's going to kill me, the art department and the theater department have begun what appears to be a feud that will last for years, and the goblins just had to pick this time to play their tricks," she hissed.
"Are you all right, Miss?" Albus questioned as he and his companion paused.
Sarah looked up at the soft words, the last of her papers in her hand. Her gaze lingered on the older man with long hair and a beard that reminded her of the Wise Man of the Labyrinth. His blue eyes behind half moon glasses gazed down upon her with some concern, and she felt the magic that clung to him as it buzzed against her skin.
"Fine, thank you," she said, forcing down her frustration at her current luck.
Her eyes shifted to meet the other man, and Sarah froze, half kneeling on the concrete sidewalk. "What are you?" she breathed, dark eyes locked on Will's stormy grey. He burned with order and light, so unlike the wild feel of Jareth's presence, and perhaps more powerful. Ever since she was fifteen, Sarah had been very sensitive to magic, and she couldn't help the feeling of apprehension that rose in her.
They were silent for a long while as Albus glanced between them with a furrowed brow.
The man didn't feel evil; quite the opposite in fact. His goodness was so concentrated that it was almost painful. And then the feeling gentled as did his stare, and she could breathe again. At last Sarah stood, box in hand. Will nodded at her, respect in his eyes, and she returned the gesture.
"Forgive me," she said. "I'm late." In an instant she had turned the corner and was gone.
Sarah was very curious, of course, but she was also running late. Besides, she had a whole network of creatures she could she could visit to inquire about the man. A being of such power could hardly go unnoticed.
Albus quirked an eyebrow at his companion, confused by exchange as half-formed suspicious thoughts he didn't realize he had floated through his mind.
"Nothing," Will replied to his unasked question with the barest hint of a smile, his gaze fixed upon a barn owl with mismatched eyes floating silently through the clear sky. "Nothing at all."
Albus and Will Stanton saw the girl again late that afternoon when they stopped by Diagon Alley. Perhaps he was losing his touch, but Albus hadn't noticed whether or not Will had been politely trying to get rid of him before then. Certainly he hadn't seemed surprised to see the stranger sitting in Fortescue's eating ice cream and laughing with a young boy who seemed to be her brother, both of them looking slightly out of place without robes.
The presence of a goblin guard from Gringott's positioned invisibly outside of the shop shocked him, but he was unsurprised that Will was able to see through invisibility as well.
"Toby, please, don't feed them," the young woman said in exasperation. Her eyes and Will's, when Dumbledore chanced a glance, seemed to follow something that even he couldn't see.
"But Sarah," the blond boy pleaded with large eyes. "They like it so much."
"They're bad enough without sugar. I'd feel responsible for whatever destruction they'd cause."
Toby sighed, and brought a spoonful of ice cream smothered in hot fudge toward his mouth.
"Besides," Sarah continued, licking delicately at her cone. "I don't think they'd appreciate it," and her head tilted slightly to indicate the invisible guard outside the window.
"They're very serious for goblins," Toby mused with a thoughtful frown, chocolate smeared on his chin. He made a face when Sarah reached across the table with a napkin, but Dumbledore could tell how he adored his older sister.
The conversation, on the other hand. It confused him.
"They'd have to be," Sarah replied dryly. "They're bankers after all."
"They're worried," Toby said solemnly.
"They're just overprotective, Toby," she said. "They don't dare cross Himself, and we can't protect ourselves like wizards can." The last was said so softly Dumbledore doubted anyone could hear, but he was rather adept at reading lips.
It surprised him. Who were they? If they were Muggles, how were they able to access the Wizarding World.
"Good afternoon," Will spoke softly, startling the pair. "May we join you?"
Sarah watched him carefully as she motioned for Toby to join her on her side of the booth. "Go ahead."
"I must apologize for my rudeness earlier," the youngest of the Old Ones said. "My name is Will Stanton, and this is my friend, Albus Dumbledore."
The being's name meant nothing to Sarah, but she filed it away for future reference. Dumbledore, on the other hand…
"You are the Headmaster of Hogwarts?" Sarah asked.
"That I am, dear girl," he acknowledged with a friendly smile that the siblings returned. "Your accent sounds American. Are you here on vacation?"
Sarah shook her head. "I'm attending college here in London, but Toby and my parents are visiting. I have to watch the pipsqueak for the day while our parents are sightseeing." She ruffled his hair as he protested and tried to squirm away.
Will, Dumbledore noticed, was watching the interaction wistfully.
Strangely enough, Albus remembered little of the conversation after this point. He remembered pleasant conversation, but not what that conversation had been about. And when the group parted ways, he remembered the awe in the eyes of Sarah and Toby, and the faintly apologetic look that his friend couldn't quite hide when he glanced in his direction.
Albus wondered vaguely what he was apologizing for.
"Maybe you'll find out one day, Albus," Will murmured in a melancholy tone. "I would like it if you could."