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Phoenix Rising
A Harry Potter RPG
Not To Dwell 
23rd-Sep-2006 11:39 pm
I land with a soft thud under the weeping willows of Hampstead Heath. The bristly tendril branches with their soft leaves brush against my face as I close my eyes before daring to look over at the Macmillan family cemetery. The headstones barely glimmer in the dull light of early evening. The sun has not yet set and the moon has not risen, so the evening is like me right now: no sense of direction but a direct sense of what I need to do after I leave here.

Susan and I paid a visit to those who were taken from us right after we left our reception. Ernie’s death seemed to too near to really even have it sink in that he wasn’t a part of our special day and we didn’t come here that night.

Clutched in my hand is a piece of the Wood family tartan that was Oliver’s gift to us for our wedding. I approach the small wrought iron-gated plot area and whisper a charm to open it.

"Not to dwell," I utter quietly and the lock squeaks open. Not to dwell... That password was Mrs Macmillan’s idea. In his will, Ernie stated that he never liked the idea of people standing, mourning over his grave. I can understand that, but somehow it’s easier talking to a stone than to the air while standing in a crowd of people who think you’re mental or something. Not that I haven’t done that, mutter here or there, Why you? out loud in public. A thought that should have been an inner muse, but bursts out of you is because secretly you hope that in that crowd somewhere is someone who can answer your question.

I place the tartan over Ernie’s stone quietly and joke that it would have made a better kilt.

"We missed your Scottish Country dancing at the wedding, mate," I tell Ernie.

A chill comes over me as the wind of the coming Autumn pulls the willow’s long branches and the tiny leaves whip against my jacket and make the tartan stand out straight from the stone like a flag.

I close the metal gate, sliding the bolt into place and wishing I could lock up bravery inside me as easily as I lock this gate, just for long enough get home from Greece in one piece.

Oliver and Dean are meeting me inside Hampstead Heath. I walk up to the door and Mistletoe let’s me in without so much as a knock. I hand my jacket to the house elf and watch as leaves fall from it onto the marble floors. No one comes to pick them up. No one really lives here anymore.

The house is maintained as far as structure and overall cleanliness. The chandeliers sparkle still, but the light seems white, not the basking kind of glow they once had when you didn’t have to stare right up at them to even register that it isn’t dark in here. It’s just devoid of the voices of children and family.

I walk into the sitting room and Oliver comes over to me and claps me on the shoulder. He made me promise at my wedding that I would protect Susan and I will keep that oath. I made that promise to him in front of Susan, and I hope Oliver and I live to face the music for what we have done by slipping away to Greece to destroy the Horcrux without her and Lavender.

"Liam loves Lavender and Lassie. He’s lost enough. We can’t all go off now can we?" Oliver says, running his fingers through his hair nervously as if trying to justify us not taking Susan and Lavender with us. "And Lavender, she’s only now just feeling her old self again," he reminds us.

I nod at him, feeling like I should be rehearsing our return speech as well, but somehow with what happened to Ernie the last time we left on a journey such as this, I don’t want to. I want to hear Susan’s angry voice, yelling at me for being stupid, even feel a stinging slap cross my face. I want to feel alive. It’s not the first fight I’d imagined we’d have in our married life...I’d kind of hoped it’d be a punch on the arm about not wanting to make love for the seventh time in one night and to leave her alone to get some sleep. Okay, so a bloke can dream can’t he?

Dean overhears us talking about Lavender and Susan and shudders just thinking about having to face Padma when we get back. I think he means if we get back... He tells us that he kept a lot of things from Padma in the past and it was nearly the end of them as a couple, but it’s nothing compared to what we’re about to do now. He looks uncertain about that. I’ve always meant to ask Dean about his years before I got to know him after school. Somehow, we always end up drunk and having way too much fun to talk about something he seems to want to hide. If we live through this Horcrux hunt in Greece, I’ll ask him about it then.

Olga stands up and thanks us for our part in the research into what happens to a Portkey when it’s eaten, and Tav, at least I presume it’s him, raises a drink with an umbrella in it to me. He’s wearing some sort of Muggle bleach bottle with accordion plastic hose on it and retractable eye and mouth holes that seem to be made of Pez dispensers. Olga rolls her eyes and tells him he’s lucky he didn’t insist on wearing the other homemade part of his Storm Trooper outfit because she was having no part of helping him out of it.

"Well I ordered my real costume for Fancy Dress at Halloween a month ago, but it’s not in yet," Tav complains, his voice echoing inside the bleach bottle making him sound more like Darth Vader than a Storm Trooper. If Darth Vader was on steroids that is...

Mistletoe brings us some drinks. I think the poor thing just poured one of everything, so happy to have someone to look after.

"Mr and Mrs Macmillan says Mistletoe is to take care of Master Ernie’s friends," she cries. "Yous must come here in times of joy and Mistletoe will take care of you just like she did for her Master Ernie." The poor house elf is next to tears, her protuberant eyes shining brightly.

"I might need a place to stay for a few days when I get back, depending on how mad my wife is. We don’t have a dog for me to bunk in the doghouse with, so I’d be honoured to stay here," I say to the house elf, only half joking.

"Mistletoe will make the preparations in advance should you need her hospitality, sir," she claps happily, running off down the hall grabbing towels from cupboards as she goes.

"It really feels empty," Dean says and Oliver and I agree. Someday I hope to get the blokes together to have a game of hockey on the lake just for old time’s sake.

I plunk my bag of supplies down for inspection and realize that there is no one here who wants to question me about what’s in them. As much as it hurt not to be trusted, it hurts more to miss Ernie. This whole thing feels wrong but it’s the only thing we can do.

Oliver, Dean, Olga, Tav and I all raise or glasses of whatever we’ve grabbed from the tray.

"To finding forgiveness when we get home!" Oliver calls out and we all take a drink.

"To dog houses and mad girlfriends and wives," Dean says grimly, trying to smile.

Just as I open my mouth to say something stupid, Tav interrupts me. "May the Force by with you!" he bellows, the tip of his umbrella going through the eye opening of his homemade Storm Trooper mask.

"Why are you wearing that thing, Tav?" I ask, finding nothing more suitable to say and thinking that if the Force exists and includes Dumbledore and Chief Cheshire and others like them, then if they are with us, we can’t fail.
24th-Sep-2006 04:49 am (UTC)
"The last time I manned the Portkey, I got bonked on the head as a result of a stampeding llama, so I'm not making the same mistake twice," Tav pipes up, pounding three times on his make shift helmet. Loud resounding thumps occur as it shifts with each knock.

I shake my head at Tav as he drinks his fruity drink through a straw. Dean scoots closer to him and raps on the top of Tav?s helmet, making the retractable eye and mouth holes shut.

Tav jumps causing his drink to spill inside his helmet. He yelps and jumps as a pink liquid starts leaking around the neck of his mask and down his front.

"It looks llama proof but certainly not waterproof," Dean comments.

Muffled splutters can be heard through Tav's helmet as he tries to poke fingers through the eye holes to wipe at the invading fluid.

Olga sticks her wand into an ear hole and flicks out a cleaning spell. Tav's squirming stops. A strained laughter is heard when a loud relieved sigh escapes through the helmet mouth then Tav turns to tell Olga thanks.

This scene would normally cause a ruckus with this group. The mishap did relieve some tension, but the mood here is much more serious and heavy. We all know what we're getting into and the possible consequences.

We're all facing rows when we return.

If we return.

I pray that we all make it back to those rows. Lavender's temper is a force to be reckoned with but I'll gladly face it if I get the chance.

When I was first told about the mission, I didn't want Lavender there for selfish reasons. I didn't want her hurt or worse.

I couldn't live without her.

I used Liam as an excuse too. Now I see that the same things could happen to me and Merlin forbid, our time together could still be over.

I wish I had at least let her know I'd be travelling today even if I didn't say where or why.

Harry told Dean that Alecto and Amycus are in Greece. I still owe them for the attack on Brown Estate. They went after my family. I find myself rubbing my shoulder that was injured in that attack. It's healed now but that doesn't hinder my desire to stop those squatty evil beings that masquerade as witches and wizards.

They must not get the chance to hurt my family again.

24th-Sep-2006 04:49 am (UTC)
I'm snapped out of my thoughts of dropping a pair of Death Eaters from my broom at hundred meters up when Justin asks about the Portkey.

"It better not be edible this time," I say, trying to join back into the conversation.

"The arrival Portkey is all taken care of," Olga says. She smiles and holds up what looks like a plastic action figure with pointed ears like the ones of Quidditch players sold at the games as souvenirs. This one is dressed differently from a Quidditch player so I assume it's a Muggle thing.

Justin laughs. He sticks his hands out with his third and fourth fingers spread and says, "Going where no man has gone before!"

My expression must show the confusion because Dean chuckles before explaining that the figurine is Spock from Star Trek. A Muggle actor from a Muggle show.

Muggles do dress funny sometimes.

Tav is jumping around excitedly, his helmet bouncing, waving another figurine which is the return Portkey. Justin says the thing looks like a weird eel/snake hybrid.

Tav straightens and even though he's in a strange suit, it's obvious that he is slightly affronted with our lack of knowledge about his little toy.

"It's a sando aqua monster, a fearsome leviathan that lurks the waters of Naboo," Tav explains. "It's named for its prodigious size and monstrous appetite. The huge mouth can swallow most other sea creatures in a single gulp."

Tav starts to stroke his little toy in apparent appreciation. "Its heavily muscled body is almost feline in appearance, with sinewy limbs terminating in massively finned claws that propel the creature through the depths."

"That's enough lecture today, Mr. Star Wars," Olga teases, pretending to be exasperated and annoyed.

"You're just jealous because my sando aqua monster could devour your Spock in minutes," Tav says, turning to face Olga.

"I do believe Mr. Spock is smart enough to know the weakness of a sando aqua monster or not to get near one," Olga responds.

"Guys," Dean interrupts, glancing at his watch. "As much as I'd like to find out who would win in the Spock versus the sando aqua monster match, it's almost time for us to leave."

Dean stuffs the return Portkey into his pocket as everyone crowds around the tiny Spock Portkey and tries to get a finger on it. It's a tight fit with three blokes with broad shoulders to huddles around a small figurine.

Justin shuffles his bag containing an enormous amount of medicinal supplies and bug repellent to his left shoulder and knocks Dean off balance a little. He grabs my arm and in a domino effect, my broom strapped to my back hits Justin in the ear. We finally all get settled and wait the final tug of the Portkey.

"That would have been easier if Spock were bigger. I hope that aqua monster has better parts to grab onto," I say to Dean and Justin.

"Oy, Spock is plenty big!" Olga yells indignantly from behind us.

Tav sniggers. "I told you that Spock was no match for aqua monsters. Pointy ears are lame."

We hear a loud thump as the Portkey triggers. We feel it zipping us away as we hear Tav yell, "Ow, don?t hit my helmet!"
24th-Sep-2006 04:52 am (UTC)
We land with a thud and somehow end up on the ground in a heap. Justin’s bum is lying across my shoulder and I wonder if that’s the cheek that has crabs or whatever he was saying he caught on his honeymoon.

“Justin, I’m not your wife,” I say, trying to lighten the mood as he rolls off of me, his rucksack – the same one he brought to Peru – clanking suspiciously. I wonder if he brought his mummy repellent in a squirt bottle and those bug nets again.

Justin pulls a face and then tells me that I do a horrible Susan impression. Oliver stands and bushes himself off before picking up his broom. He says something about doing an engorgement charm on Tav’s aqua monster Portkey so we don’t end up in a hog pile when we go home. I suppose ending up on the ground with your mates’ bums in your face isn’t a very heroic entrance.

I pull myself to my feet and look around. We’re standing in the middle of Lefka Ori, otherwise known as the White Mountains, a cluster of dormant volcanoes. We are currently standing on on Psiloritis which is composed of five peaks. To my left, adjacent peaks and ridges are lined-up like gigantic shoulders of silent elephants behind which the sun is rapidly retreating. The landscape, composed of naked rock and rubble, is like a moonscape tinged in oranges, reds, and pinks. Everything is soft and glowing, and I swear that I can see the flat expanse of the Ionian Sea lying on the horizon. Oliver and Justin both seem to be lost in thought as we stand there with the wind tearing at us.

“I wonder what Susan is doing right now,” muses Justin, his hair standing on end from the wind.

Oliver squints into the sunset and says dryly, “Hopefully not discovering that we’re gone and telling Lav and Padma.” But for all of Oliver’s jokes, I can tell that he’s concerned. His face is set and his eyes are serious. I know that he’s doing this for Liam, so he can grow up without the threat of Lucius Malfoy encroaching on his life.

I force myself to stare into the ball of light balancing on the horizon and imagine that the same light is falling in London right now where Padma is probably coming home from work and finding my lame note about being gone for a while. After last night, I know it’s one of the lowest things I could’ve done, but the plans were laid, we were ready to go, and I honestly don’t think I could’ve lied to her face about Greece again. I know that if I were in London right now, she’d be bringing it up, my resolve would crumble, and she’d be attaching herself to this Order mission. And that’s not a risk that I’m prepared to take. I silently tell her I’m sorry and hope that she’ll forgive me.

Justin picks up the now useless Spock figure which was our arrival Portkey that is lying stiff on the rocky ground, looking very out of its element with its arm pointing straight up in the air. He catches me looking at him and says quietly, “When we get back, Olga will want it,” before tucking it into his pocket.

I’m thankful for Justin’s quiet and unwavering optimism. We will all return this time, I vow.
24th-Sep-2006 04:53 am (UTC)
Using the map, we find the Ideon Andron, the cave which contains the entrance into the labyrinth which supposedly conceals Hera’s Horcrux at its center. The cave isn’t at all what I expected; it’s huge with a tall, vaulted ceiling. We make our way to back of the central hall of the cave where the maps indicates there is a hidden entrance marked by a symbol of flickering black flame. After searching around and scouring the walls by wand light, I happen upon a dark smudge imprinted on the wall that looks curiously similar. With a touch of my wand it jumps to life and begins to flicker.

Oliver, who is now holding the map, tells me that the map says to cast a fire charm. And with a quiet, “Incendio!” a small slot in the back of the cave appears and we’re staring into a long corridor bathed in a dull, flickering red light that seems to come from nowhere. A rush of icy wind races past us and the smell of sulphur assaults us like this place has just expelled a breath that it has been likely holding for eons.

Justin gags, and I choke, holding my sleeve to my face.

“It’s an old volcano,” says Oliver tensely, his voice echoing loudly in the dark belly of the cave. “It’ll smell like that.”

I hope Oliver is right. But there seems to be something else lingering behind the smell of earth and past volcanic activity, something sinister and more pungent like decay, darkness, and fire….

“Too bad I left my fumigator at home,” jokes Justin, but nobody laughs.

With our wands out, we each step into the labyrinth one by one.

Contined with: Enter the Bogeyman
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