Brother Brendan watched from the edge of the forest as the last of the brothers left. He wished them well, hoping that their journeys were as fruitful as his was when he travelled with Brother Aidan. He had learned so much then, more than when he had journeyed on his own after he had given the Book of Kells to his uncle. Sketching a quick sign of the Cross towards the retreating backs the old man leaned against the tree, his eyes closing to hold in the wistfulness. 'These feet are too old to travel great distances.' Pushing off the old tree trunk, he tread carefully towards the abbey – his abbey.
There was a stone wall with a wrought iron gate that surrounded the large expanse of land and a building clinging to the cliff edge above a lake. He had chosen this land with care: a large forest – a magical one – to one side, a large deep lake, and there was plenty of land to grow crops and house refugees when they came. A triangle... a trinity with one side the Father standing back and watching, another the Holy Ghost deep and calm, and the last side the Son welcoming all who came. Stopping at the building, he rested a hand on the large wooden doors banded with iron. He had used his Uncle's ideas as his starting point for they proved to work against the raiding heathens. A tall spire rose out of the ground, its base buried underneath the soil and to either side of it was the chapel and the scriptorium. Opening the doors he walked into the chapel, it was time for prayers.
Time slipped Brendan by its passage marked only by whiter hairs, more wrinkles and fewer friars coming to his door allowing his feet to carry take him more often into the forest where he met fantastic creatures and talked to them. He listened to their tales and told them his. There, sitting on the ground, his back against an old oak tree, his eyes slipped closed while discussing the Trinity to a small group of centaurs. In what seemed to be a blink of an eye, though the centaurs later told him was hours, he opened them again to continue his conversation. He was alone and the sun was missing. He searched fruitlessly for the centaurs, wondering where they'd gone, sighing, he raised his hand to brush sweat from his brow. It was then, upon seeing that misty limb, that Brendan discovered he was a ghost.
Several years passed before he could accept that he could not move on, that the Almighty had other things for him to do. To fill his time, he thoroughly investigated the forest and the lake. His feet were able to carry him over all the grounds that he had called home, the place he had settled down at last in.
Peering through the rusting iron gates, a thrill rushed through him to see a small community growing in the distance. Maybe his reason for being there would soon be revealed.
Two weeks later, he thought he found it.
"It's a sturdy structure." A redhead ran a hand over the stone walls that Brendan had designed and helped build.
"I'm surprised it's still here and unoccupied." The black haired man hands were clasped behind his back as he surveyed the tall spire and the two small wings off of it, his soft Irish accent familiar and soothing to Brendan's ears.
"Might've something to do with the forest over there." Blue eyes looked through him to the forest and the gingery red head nodded in its direction. "It looks to hold enough secrets and magical creatures that the Muggles wouldn't want to live near it."
A black haired woman made her way towards them through the large field. "There is plenty of space here for the children to run and play. Also, there are no Muggles about so they will be safe to practice their gifts." The subtle Scottish brogue that coloured her words drew Brendan closer, reminding him slightly of Brother Aidan's.
He was now out of the shadows of the forest, the sunlight shining through him, as he studied his four visitors. He had travelled far and wide with Brother Aidan and then on his own before settling here in the land of the Picts. These four sounded as if they came from the ends of the Isles and he was curious as to how they met and why they were here. 'Are they blessed as the people in the village?' His question was answered when the redhead pulled out a stick, pointed at the large rotting doors, and they opened.
"Do you think it is safe to go in there?" The ginger poked her head through the door, looking at the stone ceiling.
Brendan puffed up and crossed his arms. Yes, it was safe. Uncle may have once been a brilliant illuminator, but he had become one of the foremost stone architects and engineers of his generation. Brendan learned from his uncle, however reluctantly, about stoneworking, and as he built his own place, he had applied all the knowledge.
"It looks safe, Helga." The redhead man stepped through the doorway, his shoes tapping on the stone floor.
"Of course Godric would walk right in." The black haired man followed behind the redhead.
"And where Gryffindor travels, Salazar Slytherin follows." Helga laughed as she dragged the other woman inside. "Come on Rowena, it hasn't fallen on their heads yet."
Brendan followed them inside, his smile filling his face. To the left was the scriptorium and the staircase leading up into the tower. To the right was the small chapel, its windows letting in as much sunlight as possible. There were also stairs heading down, leading to the dormitories and the kitchen. The room they stood in once served as the dinning hall.
"Right, left, up or down?" Salazar peered down the stairwell, waiting to hear his friends' responses.
Rowena peered through the crumbling door on the right. "Just a large room here; lovely windows, but that's it."
Godric looked into opening on the left hand side. "Same here, but there are not many windows. Torch brackets though."
"Down first and then we can travel up." Helga started down the stairwell, not giving the others a chance to object.
Brendan drifted behind the group, amazed that they did not see him. They exclaimed over the circular room that his brothers and he had used as a night chapel, and oooed and awed over the arching stone patterns for the sleeping rooms. Once they had worked through the underground levels, including the kitchen, Brendan followed them up the tower stairs. Most of the tower was used for storage and protection. Tales of how the brothers and laymen had survived the attack on the Abbey of Kells inside the tall tower had convinced him to create a safe place for his people. There was plenty of space to hide most of a small village if needed, and they had done so once during a Norsemen attack. At the very top was a room much like his Uncle's. It wasn't his personal room, but it was his design room.
Looking about, Brendan could see the faint chalk lines that still marked the walls and floor, showing his abbey and its walls. The glazed windows looked over the grounds, and as he peered out he could see the overgrown outer walls, the lake and forest.
"It will take a little bit of work, but this place is the best location for the school." Rowena leaned against the wall, her eyes searching her friends.
"Helps that there are already outer walls, and a solid structure here." Salazar tested the window latch and carefully swung the pane open. "We will have to add to it of course, but I think it's doable, especially with this amount of a head start."
The other three nodded while Brendan wondered what they were planning to teach.
Two months had passed since the four visitors started adding to his abbey. In those two months Brendan had learned many things about them. They were magic workers, that was the first and easiest thing to learn. They were good friends whose families were currently residing in the village, which he learned was called Hogsmeade. Again, not hard to learn. The fact that not one understood how to build with stone, and that they were not architects took Brendan almost an entire month to work out. At first he thought they intended to use their magic to supplement the stones, but after the fourth time a wall collapsed due to incorrectly placed rocks and poor mortar, he knew. It was then he started studying their plans closely. There was no rhyme or reason to them on the parchment, but their words made sense as they talked about them.
Over the next month he tried to interact with them, to teach them the skills they needed. To his immense frustration, they simply could not see him.
"Father! They need help!" Brother Brendan fell to his knees, his head bowed. "Please, help me help them. They need a safe place from persecution, a place to teach children – Your children, Father."
A quill rolled to a stop against his knee. Raising his head, Brendan checked the windows of the upper tower room which was once again being used to plan and design; they were closed. Looking back down at the quill, he realized it was actually touching him. He reached a hand down and picked up the quill, marvelling at being able to hold it in his see through hands.
Hopping to his feet, he drifted across the room to where the plans were stretched out across a table. Bottles of ink were sitting on the table. He slipped the side of the quill under the top's lip and flipped it open allowing him to dip the tip in. With a stern expression, one that if he had only known resembled his Uncle's, he began making corrections to the plans. All along the side of the vellum he scripted the correct way to lay stones as well as how to mix and use mortar.
Hoovering against the wall of the design room, Brendan listened to the fours' plans, their ideas, and their exclamations. His changes and notes over the past year were assumed to be done by one of the others. They originally thought it was Slytherin, but the Irish man vehemently denied it, suggesting instead that it was a form of accidental magic. They were so tired of things not working, that their magic was causing the explanations and corrections to be made.
Godric was credited with the large Great Hall filled with window. Brendan liked his expansion of the chapel, and if the room was used to feed children, for communion of the entire school body, that was fine. They were eating not only with each other, but in the presence of the Holy Father, in His house which was sanctified, and that was the best protection Brendan could extend them. Gryffindor did plan parts of the Great Hall and Brendan had taken the wizard's ideas into account, and the redhead also redesigned the kitchen.
Rowena was credited with the staircases and the other towers. Brendan designed the towers she had planned to hold all the students he heard were coming and more just in case the town needed to come for sanctuary. He was happy when Ravenclaw developed a way to make the staircases move so they wouldn't have to build as many.
Helga was credited with the design of the corridors between the towers and corners of the school. Brendan despaired over their plans – the lines drawn were wobbly and resembled fallen hair on the paper verses corridors and rooms. He knew that sand rubbed out old marks and so he learnt how to concentrate hard enough to manipulate the sand to correct their mistakes. Hufflepuff did determine what class would be in what level of the castle and the number of rooms on each corridor.
Salazar was credited with the alternate paths out of the castle. When Brendan heard him planning them, he made sure there was at least four other ways to freedom, just in case. Slytherin did create his own large chamber under the school near the lake as well as create the spell that allowed the dungeons to be ventilated and basically waterproof.
Towards the end of construction, Brendan took a large piece of vellum, his quill, several vials. The centaurs were kind enough to learn the skill of making ink for him. They crushed malachites for green ink, mixed chalk with soot to give him his silvery grey ink, found and mixed up both red and yellow orche for the red and yellow ink respectively. Iron gall was used to make a brown wash to make the gold sheets look like bronze and the black ink. During the construction in the scriptorium he had discovered a few gold sheets left tucked away.
Once he had all his materials present, he began. He may no longer have the eye of Crom Cruach, that had been left with his apprentice, but since he died, he was able to see the fine details when he wanted to as if he was. Smearing a sticky resin onto the vellum, he glued one of the gold sheets that he had already shaped into a lion. Bemoaning the lack of proper scribing tools, he used a small twig to etch details into the gold, the strokes were minute, each mark creating a hair of his fur, the line of his leg and claw, and the curl of his tail. The background was red, the same as Gryffindor's hair. Instead of colouring the field in, he made an intricate connecting pattern of lines, boxes with darker edges. The silvery grey snake was next. Each scale had patterns upon them, and the green field was grass. A badger on a field of golden wheat was next, and then finally a bronze eagle flying over a blue sea. In black he wrote the name of each next to their panel.
The work took weeks, but he was finally done. Setting the vellum in the centre of the castle's plans, he drifted off wondering when the children would come.
"Professor Hufflepuff!" The brunette girl ran through the dungeon hoping to see Helga Hufflepuff. Darting into the Great Hall, she spotted her. "Professor Hufflepuff, there … there's a ghost!"
The four Heads of the school stood as one, but Helga was the one who spoke. "Where? What does this ghost look like?"
"He's in the common room, Professor. The Hufflepuff common room."
"His appearance, Miss Greensward?" Slytherin snapped as he strode towards the door, his friends following close behind.
"He … he looks like a friar, sir. A fat friar."
Rowena gestured towards one of the tables. "Wait here. We will handle this."
Rushing into the Hufflepuff common room, the four stared at the slightly glowing man floating near the badger banner, obviously studying it.
Godric stepped forward, his wand drawn. "Who are you and why are you here?"
Brendan spun about, his eyes widening. "You can see me?"
The four nodded and Brendan smiled. "Wonderful!" He gestured to the banner, his smile broadening, his eyes bright, and his Irish brogue thick. "The badger in this is well drawn. Who worked on the illumination for you?"
"Answer our question or we shall have you exorcised." Salazar tighten his grip on his wand, wondering if they could really banish a religious ghost.
"I am Brother Brendan and I have no idea why I am here. I had thought to enter my reward when I passed away, but Our Heavenly Father deemed my presence as necessary on the mortal plane."
Rowena's accent came out thick, her words barely distinguishable as she rushed through her question. "You mean no harm to us or the children here? You are not here to haunt us for hiding away? To convince us that we truly do not have magic? "
"Nay, child, I will not harm you. You have been blessed – given a gift by the Almighty. Here you teach others similarly blessed to use your gift. Those who try to convince you that your gift is not real, they are not thinking and do not understand the wonders of our God." Brendan floated near them, his eyes searching their faces before settling his feet on the floor. "You are His children, formed in His likeness, the same as all of His children, and just as He gave the gifts to His Apostles on that first Pentecost, He has granted them to you. Use them wisely, my brothers and sisters."
"We will, thank you Friar." Helga gave a small smile and nodded towards the banner. "It was drawn by one of the students here. He used the Hogwarts Crest as his basis for it."
Brendan floated out of the room, leaving the four standing there, their wands held in their hands and their eyes searching each other's.
Helga that spoke up first. "He means no harm, and his words might give some of the children comfort. I think we should let him stay."
The others nodded.
When the Bloody Baron and the Grey Lady joined the school, Brendan sought them out speaking to them individually. Unfortunately, even their confessions and repentance did not allow them to pass on to their reward. Brendan thought it was because they were afraid and assured them that it was Purgatory waiting them, not eternal damnation, but both had remained.
It was only after the arrival of Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington that they became associated with a particular House.
"Friar, will you take up Hufflepuff House?" The Bloody Baron tipped his head to the side as he waited for the oldest ghost there to answer.
"Isn't the Fat Friar a Hufflepuff?" Nick asked.
"I will take up the House, Baron." Brendan refrained from answering Nick's question. He knew that the ghost would eventually forget he didn't know the answer.
Standing in the Great Hall, Brendan smiled at the trees being decorated and the carols being sung softly by the little wizard who charmed the decorations in place. Drifting off to the corner of the room, he touched the section of floor where the altar had once stood and bowed his head. No matter that he was a ghost, he kept to the Canonical Hours of Prayer. It was easier now that he did not need to sleep, but there was always someone that wish to talk to him during them. Dismissing the matter from his mind, he focused inwards.
By time he completed his prayer, the trees were finished as well. Looking about, he was pleased to see the banners for all the Houses hung on the wall. Their colours added the extra warmth to the room. He had been pleasantly surprised that the Founders used his illumination to create the Hogwarts Crest – they had filled in the space between his panes with a gold cross and then made it into a shield. He had been more surprised by the use of the animals to denote the Houses, but he was also pleased.
The doors banged open and the students came rushing in, sitting at the long tables, and waiting for dinner to be served. Hovering in his corner, he watched as a number of heads bowed in prayer before they filled their plates.
'Holy Father, I still don't know why I am here, but as it is Your will, I will do my best to help all who enter these walls.'