Here, like promised is chapter 2 of the story. Happy reading.
When they reappeared, the travel hadn't felt uncomfortable at all and was much better than using the floo in Harry's opinion, Harry saw a very different landscape surrounding him. There were no built roads for example, only sandy or rocky paths, made by people walking along them for some time. He noticed that the trees looked much healthier than many in his time and some of the animals he saw were extinct in his time, so he could safely say that the time-travel had worked.
"I am happy to see you, Harry," He heard his grandmother's voice.
Where had she come from? She hadn't been there a moment ago. He turned towards her voice and saw her standing next to two horses. One was white and one black. From the saddles on the horses he guessed that the white one was his grandmother's, as it carried a woman's saddle while the other one had a man's saddle. How did he know the different kinds of saddles? He had never been close to a horse, because Aunt Petunia didn't like animals in general.
"I guess you wonder about some of your new knowledge, Harry. Well, that's part of our family's magic. The knowledge of our family is too valuable to be lost, in case a child loses its parents before they can teach it all it needs to know. So, in case it happens, the child gets access to a kind of mental library. There is common knowledge like which plants are edible and which aren't, how to avoid dangerous situations the child isn't prepared for and basics of geography for example. But it also includes spells that are unique to our line, rituals that help us do our duty to magic and so on," Morgaine explained, "You couldn't access it, thanks to the soul piece of Voldemort, because, if you had had access to it while that leech was inside of you, he would have had access as well and that would have been too dangerous."
"I understand. That must be a really complicated bit of magic to have it ingrained in a child's blood like that," Harry pondered, and Morgaine nodded smiling. It was an impressive magical achievement to have that knowledge accessible by all children born of Avalon blood, "It's great to see you again, grandmother," Harry said smiling.
"Come on, we need to get going. We have a lot to do and my family is eager to meet you. I told Arthur that I would bring you today or tomorrow, so he could get to know his nephew. We have decided to present you as my son from one of the lords that I slept with as part of my duties as a priestess. As you can see, I am too young to pose as your grandmother, and as you are a child of my line, it doesn't really matter how distantly related we are. Blood is blood and it is important," She explained.
Harry nodded, ecstatic that he would have a mother here, even if she was his many times great grandmother. He wondered what her duties included that she slept with men, but he was sure he would learn it soon enough. He knew that this time had different ethics than his and he needed to be open-minded. Additionally, she followed another religion than Christianity, which meant that things that were unthinkable for Christians were normal for others. Not that he was really taken with any religion, as fanatics that used any religion as their justification for violence against others simply didn't sit right with him. He looked at the black horse. It looked great, but he had no clue on how to ride one.
"I guess you are worried about not knowing how to ride a horse, Harry," Morgaine again seemed to read his mind.
"Yes, I have never been close to a horse and have no idea how to ride one," Harry confirmed.
"It's easy enough to learn, as you already have a good sense of balance. We will start slowly, and I will teach you the basics while we travel to Camelot. Don't worry about highwaymen and other untrustworthy folks. Nobody would dare attacking a priestess of Avalon. The old ways are still strong. Being the sister of the king helps as well. Now, I have brought some clothes that are more fitting for this time period, Harry," Morgaine said and handed him a sack, "You can use the bushes to change into them to not stand out while we travel. And I think your owl would like to travel on her own better than being restricted to her small cage."
Hedwig hooted agreeing with her statement.
Harry nodded, let Hedwig out, and took the sack from Morgaine. He went behind the bushes and looked into the sack to see what was inside. He saw that the clothes were made of thick wool. Good for travelling. A brown pair of pants that stuck close to his legs, which would probably come in handy for riding, a long-sleeved, dark green shirt, brown, soft leather boots that went up to his knees and were held in place by silver buckles on the outside on top of them and a dark green cloak which was held by a brooch in the front. He had seen the crest on the brooch on Morgaine's brooch as well, so he guessed it was either the crest of Avalon, or his family. He put the clothes on and put his old ones back into the sack. He stepped out from behind the bushes and walked to his grandmother, no he should start thinking of her as his mother to avoid slipping up.
"You look good in them, Harry. Just like a young nobleman should," She told him appreciating his looks.
"Thank you, mother," Harry replied which made her smile, "By the way, if I pose as your son, who is supposed to be my father?"
It was a good question.
"Lord Benwick of Ceredigion. He was my partner during the Beltane blessing fourteen years ago, therefore is easy to believe that you are the child from that union. On top he died defending his family eight months after that, so it is easy to explain why you were raised at Avalon and not with your father's family, like it is normally done for sons of priestesses. We normally only raise our daughters at Avalon. In your case I have cleared with Taliesin, the current Merlin, that he will back my story. Nobody outside of Avalon will suspect anything and he is the only one that travels around. He is sometimes helping Arthur with the ruling of the kingdom by giving advice. He will back up that you were taught like any other nobleman and instructed in the basics of the druidic traditions. As you are only going on thirteen, that is normal," She informed him, "Some of that knowledge will come instinctively to you, some I will tell you during our travel."
Harry nodded. He already got some information on the blessing rituals that the priestesses of Avalon did and while it was completely different to what he had learned of proper behaviour in his time, he didn't really have a problem with it. Probably a side effect of having access to that mental library as he dubbed it. He listened to his mother explaining how to mount his horse, she told him that he should decide on a name for him, and then they set off towards Camelot.
Travelling with his mother was an interesting experience for Harry. Wherever they went, people bowed to her and many asked for help with one thing or another. Some wanted blessings for their children; others had illnesses that their local healers couldn't heal. Morgaine took the time to help them all and showed Harry how things were done. He helped out with easier wounds like when they helped with the aftermath of a fire in a small village. He remembered clearly how to brew a potion to cure burns from his classes with Snape, to his surprise, and he immediately set to work once he had collected the ingredients, which could be found in any forest, which was a relief, and handed out the finished salve to the people. He was overwhelmed with their gratitude for something so basic. Many blessed him for his help and were happy that a young lord like him took the time to help the common people.
Many were even more impressed when they found out that he was the nephew of Arthur Pendragon and his mother not any priestess of Avalon, but High Priestess Morgaine herself. They were given some freshly baked bread and dried meat by the grateful people. It humbled Harry how far a little help went with these people. He swore to not take anything he had for granted in the future.
They reached Camelot the next day, as the stops they had made had caused his mother to decide to spend the night in a village a few hours away from Camelot. The people had happily offered them a place to sleep. They told them about a problem with a nest of poisonous snakes that they had found. Harry offered to take care of the problem for them. After talking to the snakes, he found out that there was a high rat population in the village which was why the snakes had decided to settle there. Harry asked them if they would promise to not bite the villagers and keep the rats under control. The snakes readily agreed with that.
Harry informed the village leader of the deal he had made with the snakes and to his surprise this made the villagers very happy. They didn't fear his talent and thanked him. They seemingly knew that snake speakers were rare, but that they were the only ones able to protect villages like theirs from poisonous snakes like the ones they had found. Normally dealing with a nest the size of the one they had found cost a few men their lives, because snake bites were hard to treat without antidotes, which were really expensive. From his mother Harry found out that parselmouths, or snake speakers, as they were called by non-magical people, were revered and if one was found in a village, they made sure he or she was treated well. Snakes were a common danger in these times.
Harry wondered how that had changed so much over time. Perhaps because with time other ways were found to safely dispose of them and with growing religiously motivated wars and condemning of magic because of it people changed their behaviour to not stand out of the masses. Not to mention that, thanks to the story of Adam and Eve losing their place in paradise, because the snake seduced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, they were seen as evil by Christians. Well, he was happy enough that he would live in this time where the people accepted magical abilities as given and liked those that used them to help others.
Camelot was grand. The castle was bigger than Hogwarts and the stone shone white in the morning sun. Harry had got used to riding a bit, even if his butt and legs had been sore after yesterday. He knew he would learn it soon enough. Every nobleman had to know how to ride a horse, as they were the fastest way of travelling in this time. There was no floo network, no apparition and no portkeys, as his mother had informed him. In some ways that was nice. It made magicals appear like the other people and not stand out so much. Owls were still, or rather already, used to deliver letters, which made sending messages faster than the muggles could, though here they were called non-magical or mundane, which Harry admitted sounded nicer than making them seem a completely different species of humans.
Camelot wasn't only a castle that sat alone; it was surrounded by a big city. The castle, which towered over the city, sat in the middle. They easily passed the guards at the gates of the city and rode towards the castle. Morgaine was greeted by some people and they stopped sometimes so she could chat with them. Harry was introduced to a lot of them and politely returned the greetings. Finally, they reached the castle.
"Good morning, Lady Morgaine. How are you today?" One of the guards greeted her warmly.
"I am well, Sir Gawain, thank you. It's lovely to see you again. Are you doing well? Did Arthur inform you of our visit?" She asked.
"Yes, he told all of the knights to look out for you. And I'm quite well, Milady. So, I guess this is your son that you announced to him?" Sir Gawain asked.
"Yes, this is my son Harold, son of Lord Benwick of Ceredigion. Though he prefers to be called Harry," Morgaine introduced him.
"Good morning, Sir Gawain, it's nice to meet you," Harry greeted politely like he had learned from his mother.
"The same to you, Harry. I heard you would start training to become a knight. I hope you will put your full effort into it. Becoming a knight of Camelot isn't easy," Gawain replied.
"I definitely will," Harry stated sincerely which got an approving nod from Gawain.
"The king said to tell you that he was awaiting you in his rooms. He is busy working out a treaty with the barons of the north," Gawain informed Morgaine.
"Thank you, Sir Gawain. We will leave you to your duty," Morgaine said pleasantly.
Harry and Morgaine rode through the gate and into the inner bailey of the castle. One of the squires that were training there took over the two horses and Morgaine led Harry into the castle proper. There another squire took care of their cloaks after Morgaine told him to bring them to her normal rooms. She knew that Arthur had the rooms next to her suite cleaned for Harry. Harry was very impressed with the castle. While Hogwarts looked like an old castle with a lot of history, this one looked new and full of life. He followed his mother a bit tense about meeting King Arthur. He wondered how he might be.
A guard at the entrance to the king's office went inside to announce them and soon they were asked inside.
"Morgaine, it's lovely to see you again, sister. And you must be Harry. Morgaine told me all about you and why she brought you here," Arthur greeted them warmly.
"It's good to see you too, Arthur. You look like you didn't get enough sun though recently. Are you doing too much paperwork again?" She asked hugging the young king.
He had short black hair and brown eyes. His clothes were more practical than showy Harry noticed, and the only outward sign that he was the king was a golden necklace he wore. Harry could see the crown sitting on a pillow next to the desk which was overflowing with documents. His sword was at his left hip.
"Not everyone can be as blessed as you in avoiding too much paperwork. The new treaty is being difficult to finish, as the barons want a lot of privileges that I'm not willing to simply grant them. I need to read them all thoroughly to make sure nothing untoward is added in them. But now let me see my nephew," He replied, grinning brightly as if this was a great prank, "Hello Harry, I'm Arthur Pendragon, but while you are here, please call me Uncle Arthur. It's great to know that my sister's line will continue so far into the future."
"Thank you, Uncle Arthur," Harry answered smiling, "I'm happy to be here. It beats staying at my mother's sister's house by far."
"Yes, Morgaine let a bit of that slip in her explanation why she conspired with a phoenix to get you here during your summer holidays from Hogwarts. To think that the school those four started a few years ago will be that successful. I wasn't fully convinced when Sir Godric asked for a leave from the court to pursue his idea with his friends, but hearing how important this has become, I am glad I let him go with my blessings," Arthur said.
Harry was stunned. The founders were alive in this time and his head of house one of King Arthur's knights. Perhaps he would even meet them one day. No, he had to concentrate on the here and now. This was King Arthur he was meeting right now, and he was telling him to call him uncle. Nobody would ever believe him if he told the story, not that he would without his mother's permission.
"I will introduce you to the members of my court tonight during dinner. Tomorrow you will start your basic physical training to get you to the level you need to be at to start training to become a knight. You will be given to one of my knights as a page until he deems you ready for harder training as a squire. You will have some duties like all the others in training to become a knight. Don't expect special treatment because you are family," Arthur warned and Harry quickly nodded, "Typical duties of a page are taking care of the armour of the knight you are serving, doing message runs, taking care of the horses in the stables, serving during dinner and doing errands. Some of them overlap with the duties of a squire. It depends if the knight in question trains one at that time. Normally your training takes four hours each day in the morning, starting at six, half an hour for eating follows, then you get some duties for two hours before lunch. Then you are trained in basic weapon use early in the afternoon. As you are also going to learn your mother's skills, you will go to her after your weapons trainer dismisses you. Each page has to do dinner duty for two days each week, the other evenings you are free to follow your likes."
"That's alright with me, Uncle Arthur. I don't want special treatment. If I am treated like everybody else, I am perfectly content with it," Harry said.
Arthur saw the sincerity in the boy's eyes. He wondered how long it would take until the girls caught sight of him. Once Harry got over the effects of being underfed by his abysmal relatives, he would be quite handsome. Many daughters of the lords would try to win his favour. It would surely be amusing to watch. Too bad that he belonged to the future. But with how Morgaine had described his life-mission, it was really important that Harry learned to fight both non-magically and magically. He couldn't imagine that magic would die if Harry failed. It was an everyday part of their lives. And he wasn't stupid enough to believe the horror tales of magic being the work of the devil. Magic was simply a gift certain people were born with. Even he had some, though he hadn't been trained in using it a lot.
He used it with Excalibur and by sensing people's intentions when they came for an audience with him. In battles it was also useful, as it allowed him to somewhat predict his opponent's movements before they used them. The way one used magic made the user good or evil, but not the magic itself. If only the stubborn priests would accept that and stop preaching condemnation for those belonging to the old ways. He was for having freedom of belief and a co-existence of both religions.
He pondered which knight he should entrust with Harry's training. He would need a good, but strict teacher who pushed him beyond his limits. Lancelot was too nice for that, Gawain had two squires already that he taught, Percival perhaps. His former squire was getting the rites in a week, so he would be free to take up a new student. Edmund also was a possibility. He had no squire right now and he had complained that none of his pages had the talent to become a good knight because they were too whiny for the training.
"Good, then go and get refreshed. I will see you at dinner. And Morgaine, Guinevere asked me to get to see our nephew too before he is introduced to the others at dinner. She is in the salon organising the summer feast," Arthur said.
"We will go and see her once we are refreshed and rested a bit, Arthur. Until later," Morgaine replied.
Harry bowed like he somehow knew he should and followed his mother out of the room.
After a short visit with Arthur's wife Guinevere, who was a very nice blond woman and welcomed Harry into the family, Harry was free to explore the castle on his own. He was told, if he introduced himself to anybody, to give Harold of Ceredigion as his name. It would take a while to get used to be a noble in this time. But he was looking forward to learning how to be a knight. For him a knight was someone who had the power to protect innocents, and that was what he wanted. He didn't like the brutality that came with fighting a lot; it was just a necessary evil. If he could become strong enough, he reasoned, some fights might even stop before they began, because nobody wanted to risk making him angry enough to have to deal with the instigators. That was his reason to become strong and skilled in both magical and non-magical fighting.
The castle was huge. It would take a while to get used to it. But he had found his way around Hogwarts quickly enough, after getting lost a few times in first-year. And Camelot wasn't as confusing as Hogwarts was. No direction changing staircases for example and no dud secret passages. He wondered what his training would include. He knew he would have to do a lot of hard physical training, because those armours were heavy. Without enough muscle mass he couldn't fight in one of them. He met a few pages running around doing errands for the knights and sometimes others. And still life here seemed peaceful. More than his life in the future had been so far. Privet Drive only appeared peaceful; he had suffered there. Hogwarts had one adventure or the other waiting for him and somehow, he always risked his life in the process.
This would definitely be hard to do, he had no illusions about it, but at least here he would have a teacher who wanted him to do his best and succeed. He would have somebody he could ask for advice without feeling too awkward. He had a mother in this time, which made everything worthwhile. And Morgaine was nothing if not patient and happy to teach him all he wanted to know. It was a strange feeling. Normally he should have felt completely out of place, not knowing how to face this new time. But he didn't. He felt right here, as if he belonged here. Admittedly not everything was great in this time. People led hard lives and had to fear thieves, highwaymen and other criminals, but they were being forced back by Arthur's knights, sheriffs and governors.
From what his mother had told him during the journey, the area a day's riding distance from Camelot was already really safe. There were wild regions, but Arthur was working on helping the people there by either forcing the lords to shape up or replacing them basically. A lord was responsible for the people living on his land and somebody shirking that duty didn't deserve the title.
In the evening, after taking a bath, Harry put on the clothes that his mother had told him to wear. For dinner Harry had been given a higher-class outfit representing his status as the son of a Lord and the High Priestess of Avalon, not to mention the King's nephew. They were more elegant than his travelling clothes. His trousers were black now and he wore a white long-sleeved shirt under a dark red vest. On the left side of the vest over his heart the crest of Ceredigion was embroidered and on the right side the crest of Avalon was shown. A black leather belt through lashes at the vest held his trousers up. He wore shorter, soft black leather boots than for the travelling. When his mother came to inspect his looks, she was satisfied. She wore an elegant-looking red dress which had the crest of Avalon on her right shoulder. She wore delicate golden jewellery with small rubies in the earrings and necklace.
"Yes, you are looking good, Harry. We can introduce you to the court now," Morgaine nodded contently.
"Thank you, mother. I only hope that I don't make a fool out of myself," Harry replied.
"Don't worry, you will do fine. Just be polite and try listening more than talking," She advised, and he nodded.
He and Morgaine were led to the Great Hall where dinner would be held. The hall was sparsely decorated; it was more functional than grand. Harry liked it. It was homely, even if the number of people there was a lot like eating in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. He could see Sir Gawain, who had greeted them at the gates, talking with two other men, about a dozen pages were carrying plates with food and pitchers with drinks. He guessed doing duty during dinner time would be taxing, but as everyone who wanted to become a knight had to go through it, he didn't mind. From what he had found in his mental library, it was meant to teach the aspiring knights humility and patience. No matter what family name a page or squire had, he had to start at the bottom if he wanted to become a knight.
It was a much better system than in his time where the influence was simply given with birth and depended on money. Here even the son of a minor lord could achieve great things, if he worked enough for it. Sure, there were things that weren't as advanced as in his time; women for example didn't have the same rights as men, though many still had a lot of influence. Look at his mother or Aunt Guinevere. Compared to that the children of lesser pureblood families would never get into the truly important positions at the Ministry and don't get him started on those not being purebloods. One's blood wasn't as important for one's life here as one's dedication. Even the son of a farmer could get into a fairly high position if he was determined. There were two boys working in the stables that were the sons of farmers.
They got training in caring for the horses, as they were talented in it. If they did well, they would one day be in charge over the stables, a well-paid and respected position. Society was still a bit elitist, but it was slowly changing. Harry also noticed that at the table for the squires his new acquaintance Daniel of Gloucester was sitting. He remembered their meeting.
After exploring the inside of the castle a bit, Harry had gone outside to explore the grounds. He watched the training of the knights for a while before walking towards the stables. There it was quiet. He heard the snorts of some horses, but the majority was outside. He read the plates on the stable doors. There was the name of the horse and the knight it belonged to written on each one. In the back he heard strained breathing and found a brown horse sweating heavily. It seemed to be in pain and Harry was worried. He thought about getting somebody to help, but somehow his newfound knowledge told him that the mare was close to giving birth to a foal. The big belly was a tell-tale sign of a pregnancy. He saw that the mare lay too closely to the wall for the foal to be born and she was close to pressing it out. He did the first thing that came to his mind and levitated her a little distance away from the wall. It didn't take long for the foal to come out.
Harry was awed seeing the little horse being born. But something still wasn't right. The sack around the foal didn't tear and if nobody did anything, it would suffocate. He quickly, but carefully, entered the box and went around the mare who was breathing heavily from giving birth. He took the birth sack and tore it open at the head of the foal. It started breathing quickly and he knew that it had been close. Had he gone to get help, the foal would probably not have made it. It felt good knowing that he had managed to save this young life. After completely freeing the foal, he stepped back to let the mother get introduced to the foal. Now that he had the time, he saw that it was a dark coloured foal, he wouldn't be able to say if it was black or really dark brown because of how wet it was. The mare suddenly stood up and started licking the foal's fur.
"What are you doing here?" A harsh voice suddenly spoke up behind him and a young man appeared.
"I heard strange sounds coming from one of the stables in the back and went to see what was going on. I noticed that the mare was about to give birth, but was too close to the wall, so I made her move a bit away so that the foal had space to be born. Once it was out, the birth sack didn't tear, so I did that for the foal to be able to breath. After that I let the mother and child get used to each other. I was told I could have a look around the castle and the grounds," Harry answered.
"These stables in the back are for the horses of the king and queen. Nobody but the ones responsible for them are allowed to come here. You should know that," The young man explained, now a bit friendlier.
"Sorry, my mother and I only arrived today, and the king didn't say anything about areas where I wasn't allowed to go to," Harry explained, not wanting to be treated differently for being the king's nephew. Though he guessed it wouldn't be kept a secret for long.
"So, you were introduced to King Arthur already? That's unusual. What's your name? I'm Daniel of Gloucester by the way. Squire to Sir Lancelot," The young man introduced himself offering his hand to shake which Harry did.
"I'm Harold of Ceredigion. Nice to meet you, Daniel. I am going to serve as a page to one of the knights from tomorrow on. So far, I grew up with my mother, Lady Morgaine of Avalon," Harry introduced himself.
"Lady Morgaine? So that is why you were allowed to go where you wanted, King Arthur is your uncle," Daniel realised.
"Yes, but I don't want any special treatment, so could you simply treat me like any other page? I want to earn any respect given to me for my achievements, not because I am the king's nephew," Harry asked.
"I can do that. I'm glad that you aren't a stuck-up pampered prince. We get those a lot of times. Some of the richer barons think that they are better than others and that their sons deserve to be trained by the best Knights of the Round Table, like Sir Lancelot or Sir Gawain. Not that it helps any. The knights decide themselves which boys they take under their wing," Daniel told Harry grinning, "Now let me see the foal. Hm, you seem to have done a good job. It is already trying to stand up to drink. We can simply watch and only interfere if anything happens. By the way, Harold, how old are you?"
"I am thirteen, and could you call me Harry? I like that better than my full name," Harry answered, "And you?"
"Eighteen. I am scheduled for taking the rites of knighthood in two months. Sir Lancelot is really thorough with his training. Others were knighted when they were sixteen or seventeen, but I don't mind waiting a year longer, if it means I get the complete training Sir Lancelot can give me. I mean, he is the best of the Knights of the Round Table. It's a real honour to be trained by him," Daniel raved.
Harry smiled. He could imagine how exciting it had to be to be trained by one of the Knights of the Round Table. They were legendary and not only in the wizarding world in his time. Everybody knew the story of Camelot. Though some of it was exaggerated as he now knew.
Daniel took Harry for a tour of the stables and Harry tried to memorise the layout. Daniel said that cleaning the stables was part of the duties of the pages and that it was done thoroughly twice every month. The other days the stables were only filled with fresh straw and the horses were given their hay and oat in the mornings and evenings. Water was given four times a day. After feeding in the morning, at noon, after feeding in the evening and the last time before everybody went to bed. The horses were important for the knights and needed to be in top condition in case the knights had to go to battle at a moment's notice.
Harry listened intently how the pages and squires had to clean the horses every morning after they were done with physical training. It seemed that most of the duties of a page were to the knight's horse, armour and weapons. Well, he had never been somebody to shy away from hard work. Once they had finished the round they returned to the stable and saw the foal drinking from its mother. Harry smiled seeing that. He thought that it was really cute.
In the Great Hall they were led to their seats next to Arthur and Guinevere. Arthur introduced them, Harry more than Morgaine, as most knew her already, to the assembled people. Many looked at Harry with interest. As far as they knew, he was the first-born son of Lady Morgaine. Her other son, Mordred, who was raised by Lady Morgause, was younger than him. They mostly appreciated that the king's nephew would go the normal way to become a knight of Camelot. It was seen as a sign that the Royal Family was closely connected with the people.
The food was great, and Harry made polite conversation with the other guests when he was asked something, but mostly he kept to his mother's advice of listening to learn.