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Phoenix Rising
A Harry Potter RPG
The Goddess 
24th-Sep-2006 01:25 am
MLE
Dean and Padma are still trapped in the garden. When Lavender, Susan, Oliver and I finally had to give up trying to take the wall down to get to them, we could hear Death Eaters on the other side as well. If Dean and Padma make it out of there alive, it will be a miracle fit for future myths and legends.

Oliver tries his best to run with us through the narrow passages that have unlimited ceilings, or I presume there’s a ceiling up there somewhere because I can’t see the sky. I can’t get my bearings at all. Even the Point Me Charm won’t work.

The footsteps behind us diminish and I look back to see Oliver lean on the wall momentarily. At the same time I hear a crash and I know the wall has come down. I consider the strategy of having us all rush the oncoming Death Eaters that I can now hear, but I know Oliver is in no shape for battle.

Oliver motions that he’ll be okay and we start running, but this time I keep him in front of me. We purposely dodge around as many corners as we can and we get a few minutes to breathe, listening with baited breath to the frustration of our attackers.

We are all resolved to fight for our lives, but the Horcrux must be destroyed. If we’re killed here, at least we will have done what we came to do.

"What’s that?" Susan whispers, putting her hand to her mouth. An ungodly scream pierces the air and I hear voices on top of it.

"Alecto, no!" It’s Amycus’ voice. "Get away, get away!"

We all hear the sound of crackling fire and we are overcome by a smell worse than the sulphur from the rivers that meet in this awful place as it up to greet our senses. I can even detect Rabastan and Rudolphus yelling frantically.

"Incendio!" they scream in unison as we take this opportunity to run for it. But we are stopped in our tracks.

I’ve seen Dementors before and these aren’t them, but the feeling they give is the same if not worse. Oliver’s breathing is ragged and his teeth are clacking together now. Even with the heavy sweater that Susan was able to salvage out of my rucksack he’s freezing. Oliver curses loudly when Lavender pushes him gently behind us, but his breath wisps seem to be going directly into the mouths of these foul phantoms and they seem to want to reach right through us to get to him.

Spindly fingers that look like wisps of candle smoke spiral toward us. As they pass between our heads to reach Oliver, I’m overcome by waves of sudden despair and doom.

"Hannah, no..." Susan cries softly, and falling to the floor is the only thing that saves her from being kissed as far as I can tell because yet another phantom had reached for her chin and was drawing her breath to its putrid face. Still Oliver’s breath was drawn forward more.

"Incendio!" Lavender screams suddenly, brushing tears from her face. A burst of flame shoots from her wand and the phantom who had Oliver by the shoulders drawing him nearer erupts into a fiery mass that makes me feel like I’m going to throw up.

The sudden flash of fire and the warmth, coupled with the hideous vapours, temporarily wakes us out of our almost submissive stances. The phantoms draw back.

I help Susan up and hold her in my arms. Her eyes are as wide as saucers and I see real people reflected in them coming up from behind the phantoms. I hold her hand. Her ring is gone too. But I remember the day I got mine.

"Expecto Patronum!" I yell as loudly as I can and there’s no mistaking it. Everyone here will be able to see my Thestral. Those of us who have witnessed death and those of us who have taken it. War makes us do both.

The Thestral holds the phantoms off for a short time, but nothing like flame does. The Patronus does however strengthen the spirit.

One phantom is intent on Oliver still, and Lavender is now firing hexes toward Amycus and the Lestrange brothers. Susan is walking toward Rudolphus, wand out in front of her as phantoms reach for her, held back only by the Patronus.

"Justin!" Oliver yells suddenly. Behind me stands Alecto, but her face is expressionless. She’s been emptied. Her soul belongs to the phantoms now. But her body is able and I know why. The Imperius Curse still works upon the body and empty brain on the parts of the lobes which are not soul based.

If I let my Patronus down, Susan will be in danger. If I don’t, I’ll be killed.

"Incendio!" Oliver yells and Alecto catches fire spectacularly. She does not scream. I shiver as I remember the Inferi burning, blundgeoned, yet still coming for me. Alecto is not an Inferius. Her empty body falls and it’s too late for Amycus to douse the consuming flames.

Oliver watches the burning Death Eater in horrid fascination as yet another phantom seems intent to prey upon him. In the flames, I notice that Oliver’s lips are blue again. I try to make it over to him. The curse he just used likely drained his last magic. A Fire Ball Curse is not easy at the magnitude needed to burn a human body.

Susan and Rudolphus are battling, each hiding and throwing curses and insults. She’s holding her own, but I should be over there helping her.

Lavender has her hands full with a vengeful Amycus whose voice is breaking as he tries to kill her. We all dodge several beams of green light that he throws at her as she puts her DA training to good use.

The Phantoms are a curse and a blessing as they roam trying to suck whatever magic they can take the easiest. My Thestral flickers as I find it harder and harder to hold onto my good thoughts. I keep seeing my wedding day, but then I see Susan and Rudolphus and Lavender and Rebastan.

"Oh hell, no you don’t!" Oliver yells. I turn to see the phantom grab his chin and my Thestral goes out, darkening the place even more. The only light is now coming from wand tips and the dwindling smoke filled flickers of the fire which is dying from lack of its former human fuel.
 
24th-Sep-2006 06:32 am (UTC)
"Incendio!" I say as loud as possible, gathering all the magic I can as quickly as possible. I'm not letting anything else near my mouth after that scarring experience with Justin at the river.

The phantom of Hera cupping my chin up toward it catches on fire and burns. The smell is almost unbearable but only slightly better than the still smoldering corpse of Alecto.

Amycus takes my distraction with the phantom as an opportunity to aim a curse for me. I throw another Fire ball curse at him as I drop and roll away from his.

He catches on fire and takes off down the tunnel.

Suddenly I feel as if the fight is gone out of me. Knowing that the two responsible for the attack on Lavender's family, my family, are out of commission drains most of the fight from me. I've heard revenge is sweet but what I feel now is definitely not sweet.

I feel so much colder now and my vision is cloudier. I'm trying to hold on. I have to make sure Lavender gets out of here.

I look over at Lavender who is fighting valiantly. After throwing three Fire Ball curses, the effects of these phantoms feel even stronger. My legs start to give and I slide a little farther down the wall I'm leaning against.

I barely hear Lavender's voice as she yells for Justin to take me out of here because the rest of the phantoms effects are killing me. I'm supposed to be taking care of her not the other way around.

Justin tries to pull me out but I resist him. "I have to take care of Lavender," I yell. "I'm not leaving without her."

"Oliver, you won't be helping Lavender if you don't get out of here," Justin reasons. "You've already taken a stunner, distracted a dragon, and got rid of Alecto and Amycus."

I stop fighting him and look up into his face. "Promise me you'll come back and get them out," I say to him. He has to do this.

I can't lose her now. It's the whole reason I didn't want her here.

"I promise," Justin says formidably and I know he will. I look back toward Lavender. I trust Justin with everything... even with my world.

I want to help her and Lassie one last time before I go. I pool all the magic I can muster and think of the first time Lavender told me she loved me and cast my Patronus.

My Snidget may be small but hopefully he'll help a little with the phantoms.
24th-Sep-2006 06:35 am (UTC)
As Oliver's Patronus bursts forth, I feel a sense of peace fall over me. It's strange really, considering I'm in the middle of a battle.

Phantoms glide soundlessly around us, looking for an opportunity to suck the life out of each and every one of us. They're like dementors, the cold creeping into your bones and the worst memories of your life playing out in your mind's eye.

A curse flies by my head, shaking me out of my stupor. I'm fighting for my life and the lives of my loved ones. I don't have time for anything else.

"I won't kill you yet," Rabastan purrs. "I'll play with you until I get tired of you. You'll be my living doll."

"The hell I will!" I shout as I raise my wand. "Reducto! The wall next to Rabastan's head crumbles under the impact of my spell and he is forced to roll away before he's crushed by tons of falling stone. I fire off a few more spells, hoping to catch him with one, but he's too fast. I might be out of my league and he knows it. He's playing with me. A sick, twisted game.

"It's no use fighting me. No matter what spell you cast, I can counter it. Whichever way you move, I'll be there. You might as well give up. I might let your lover live if you do."

"Bastard!" I spit out. I have to figure out a way to defeat him. If I can't use my wand work to do so, I'll have to use my brains. I just hope that I have it in me to be more clever than him at this dangerous game we've begun.

I notice my breath pluming up around me like fog. The phantoms are coming closer and I can hear screams echo in my head and I press my hands to my ears to try and block them out. Children are dying and I can't help them. I'm useless, weak.

Rattles of breath and the scent of decaying flesh fill my nostrils. I'm jerked back to reality when a smoky hand caresses my chin and my breath is being sucked into it's horrible mouth. With a sudden burst of adrenaline, I scramble back, away from the putrid breath and find myself gasping in the moistened air of the labyrinth as I land on my knees. The phantom is following me, and I'm forced to crawl on my hands and knees, trying to keep as much space between me and it I can.

24th-Sep-2006 06:35 am (UTC)
Rabastan circles me slowly, enjoying the sight of me crawling like a baby away from the phantoms. His laughs echo off the close walls that surround us and my breath is coming faster and faster as terror sets in. I thought I was going to die in that stinking river, but now I knew what death smelled like and it was closing in on me.

A startled scream behind me causes me to look back. Rabastan is held by a phantom, dangling like a puppet in the air. He jerks his head left, then right trying to avoid the inevetible. The Death Eater's breath is a long column of smoke, slowly being sucked in by the greedy phantom. His eyes are wide and filled with horror until they slowly began to dim as more of his life is stolen away. His chest is depleting and I'm surprised his ribs don't cave in from the pressure. Rabastan's head lolls as he's lowered back to the floor and I know what will happen next.

His empty eyes stare right through me and I shudder knowing that unless I stop him, he'll kill me and then everyone else. It's bad enough with these damn phantoms slipping about.

Rabastan's body is moving forward as if pulled by invisible strings, his movements jerky and uneven. He stumbles on a piece of rubble from the wall that I destroyed earlier, and that gives me an idea.

"Reducto!" I shout. My spell rockets out of the end of my wand and blasts away at the labyrinth wall. The floor shakes beneath my feet and I brace myself to ride it out. The wall falls in thick slabs and takes Rabastan down with it. He makes no sound as he's crushed beneath the weight of the stones. I hear the snapping of bones and crushing of flesh beneath the rocks and I turn and start to gag weakly my face pressed against the dirty floor before placing my hand over my mouth to stop the vomit from rushing up. Blood oozes from under the rubble, thick and dark, it trickles down the craggy rock until a phantom glides by freezing the blood in a large puddle on the floor.

I shakily get to my feet and back away from the nightmare scene in front of me. The wispy outlines of the phantoms converge on the area where Rabastan fell and I know this is my only chance to get away.

I race away and down a corridor. I need to find Susan! The only problem is, I have no idea where she went. This sick feeling in my stomach won't go away. I have this terrible feeling that one of us might not make it home.
24th-Sep-2006 06:38 am (UTC)
Lestrange throws a stunner at me, but it hits the napkin rings that Justin gave me that I wear around my neck and bounces off, knocking me to the ground and hitting him instead.

I can feel an angry mark on my chest from where the curse hit, and try to catch my breath. I shakily get to my feet, and as I glance towards Lestrange, I see a phantom like figure over take him.

For a moment I debate running and leaving him to his fate, but another phantom like creature on fire stumbles towards us, blocking the way.

I have no choice but to turn around and face my fate too. If I die tonight, I’m taking Hannah’s killer with me.

Lestrange has taken care of his phantom and turns to see me still there.

“You’re smart after all, girlie,” he says. “You only die tired if you run.”

He raises his wand slowly and the words of a curse forms on his lips.

Forcing up all my magic that I can, I shout, “Torquere Frire!”

His robes ignite into flames and quickly engulf him. His screams ring in my ears as the smell of burning flesh and hair over take me. I killed him…is it ironic for a Healer to kill?

Bile rises in my mouth and I choke it down as I run to try to find Lavender. I soon find her running towards me.

“Susan! Thank Merlin,” She shouts running to me. We hug briefly and I ask her about Lestrange.

“He’s gone,” she says solemnly.

“They’ll never bother anyone again,” I say quietly, almost in relief.

Lav nods in understanding but says nothing.

“Come on, let’s find the others and get out of here,” I tell her more calmly than I feel.

“Let’s go,” she says.

The two of us take off looking for Justin and Oliver, shouting their names ever so often. The further we go, the more dread threatens to over take me. Will we find them? What about Dean and Padma? If we find them will we make it home again?

I shudder as Lavender drapes an arm around me and we trudge on.
24th-Sep-2006 06:41 am (UTC)
Oliver half walks and I half drag him along the corridors. His skin is cold to my touch. I see him grow ever paler in the red light that flows like veins of lava along the black stone walls. We stop to catch our breath, each of us keeping our fears to ourselves.

"What did you see when the phantoms came near?" Oliver asks through chattering teeth. He looks haunted.

I don’t want to tell Oliver that I saw Alex attacking me. I don’t want to tell him that I had feared that he would be taken and turned into an Inferius and come after me too, like Alex did. I had seen my own hand fly through the air, dismembered from my body, Wormtail taunting me, Susan cradled in my arms after what Rudolphus did to her.

"They didn’t get near enough," I lie.

Oliver just nods at me. I see him reach up and clutch his throat for a minute, choking. I get some water out of my rucksack and hand it to him but his hands are shaking so badly I have to help him hold the bottle. The water doesn’t help much and Oliver leans back against the stone and closes his eyes. His eyes fly back open and he claws at his back, making my sweater that he’s wearing, ride up. His back is full of burn welts!

I lift the sweater and stifle a yell. Oliver’s back has a complete imprint of one of the Phantom’s bony hands that comes from mid-back all the way up to his shoulder blades. It’s frost bite! Already turning black around the edges and filled with angry red blisters and peeling skin.

"What is it?" Oliver rasps.

He can’t see his own back and I’m grateful. I cast a Numbing Charm and see Oliver’s shoulders sag in relief. I bandage the wound, winding the white cloth all the way around his ribs and cast a sterilizing charm on it. The relief from the numbing and exhaustion from the tainted water in the River Styx causes Oliver to slump into unconsciousness. I don’t know how long he has before it consumes him. This place is real and I don’t want Oliver so close to Hades in the shape he’s in.

I turn around quickly as something scurries over my feet, disappearing at the end of the corridor. The images in my head are now worse than this place itself as I see a boat pull up where there is only a stream of burning lava. A bony hand reaches out to take Oliver from my grasp. I try to pull him back but his mouth falls open and my wedding ring is in his mouth. I paid his fee into Hades. I killed him.

This place is draining me. Magic is everywhere but it’s not giving. It’s all consuming. I levitate Oliver upright still because of the narrowness of the passages and with his blue lips and tinged skin he looks like a grotesque puppet. The shadows play tricks on me now and I can hear whispering in the walls. The red veins of lava grow more vividly and it gets colder still. I wrap Oliver in all the extra clothing I have. He saved me in Peru. I have to save him now.

I can barely levitate my friend now. My magic wans. I keep looking over my shoulder, swearing that something brushed by me, shaking my head that this can’t be. More phantoms...

I can’t cast a Patronus again. I manage to let Oliver down easily. My magic won’t hold. I pick him up over my shoulder in a fireman’s carry and force myself forward but I can only carry Oliver to the end of the corridor.

They’re coming.
24th-Sep-2006 06:42 am (UTC)
Suddenly, in my mind Oliver is in a bone boat with Alex and the Chief. Hannah is behind them with Ernie. The boat behind them carries Lavender and Susan.

"Nooooo!" I yell, forcing my palms into my eyes to blur the images. I wish I knew how to shrink a person! I’d put Oliver in my pocket and run away. But I would have no place to go if these dreams were real. I wish Susan was here to tell me what’s real. I wish I was with her, fighting.

I let out a strangled cry as I let fly a Bludgeoning Curse at a form that stands between us and our escape. Whoever it is didn’t have time to fire off a curse before I’d hit them in the shoulder. Chips of stone fly toward us and I turn my head too late as a piece flies into my eye.

A statue! A beautiful woman with a bow and arrow and long tendrils of curled hair. I lay my friend down on the floor beneath the statue, realizing that it is blocking the way. I try to move it by putting my back to it, but as soon as I touch it I know that I’ve made a mistake.

I feel like I have fallen through a wall into another world. I can’t see Oliver anymore. I stand in a circular room with huge white pillars, richly ornamented at the top with gold. Ivy climbs each pillar and almost obscures the other statues standing within the circle. I look up, thinking surely that this is an effect of the phantoms but I’m not as fearful as I should be if this is the case.

"You dare bring violence against my tribute?" comes a deep female voice that most would call sexy.

"What...no...where are you? Who are you?" I ask, turning slow circles, my wand drawn.
My Patronus leaps from my wand though I have not called it. I watch it bound up to the woman, clad only in leather sandals and a short dress held close to her body by gold threads. She strokes its head, eyeing me warily as my Thestral acts like a love-sick puppy.

"A Thestral? How come you to you claim such a beast for your own?" she asks me. "I am Artemis, Goddess of the hunt and fertility, even I do not have such a creature in my menagerie. Speak, for it will stay my hand from bringing justice down upon you for not only leaving me a half-dead sacrifice but for the damage you have inflicted here.”

A window-like, blurred, watery image ripples in the wall and I can see Oliver still laying outside of here at the feet of Artemis’s statue.

"Half dead...Oliver! "No, ma’am, you see, that man out there, he’s my friend. He’s been hurt, you see he swallowed the water from the river and then these phantoms attacked us..." I begin frantically.

"My mother’s little pets can be troublesome, can they not?" Artemis laughs, her bow trained on me, her arm never wavering. I startle as a deer bounds up to her and she pets it, gives it a treat and it bounces away happily. Sparrows land upon her shoulders and stay.

"P pets?" I stammer. My wand lowers against my will, though I try to keep it trained on her.
24th-Sep-2006 06:43 am (UTC)
"That will not serve you here, Justin," Artemis tells me. "I am a Goddess. You are no more powerful here than those with dormant magic.

"Muggles?" I ask.

“Through the ages they have been called many things, though this is the first time I have heard that name. I have had no visitors for a thousand years. No one has brought me sacrifice for many a year unless you count those little animal sculptures that they bring nowadays only on festival days." Athena looks at Oliver once again and I see his head picked up by invisible hands as she examines what she thinks I have brought her.

"He is beautiful. Fit for the games on Olympus," she admires.

I have no idea what to say.

"His life force is not strong. Have you only brought him to me to spare him from Hades or the wrath of my mother for disturbing her garden?" Artemis asks me point-blank. "He would of course be my servant, help me care for my pets and my prey, and in return I will keep him from Hades and Hera’s phantoms. He is big enough to be a guard, but I have my pets that Hades gave me – the offspring of his three headed dog," she explains.

I stand there trying to think of a way out of this and feel just a tad jealous that she hasn’t mentioned keeping me. My sense of reality and reason have forsaken me a long time ago.

"Well, they’re not so much pets, but you have to prevent the mortals from running about...which brings me to my next question. What are you doing here? I sensed a kindness in your heart before you even spoke," Artemis tells me, placing her hand on my chest.

Oh, I have a nice personality, I get it. Oliver the beautiful and me the one who can make a girl laugh...hm, come to think of it Oliver can do that too. Damn!

I want this weird dream to end. Susan likes me for body, too.

"Spock does it differently. See, he puts his hand here..." I say, reaching for the Mythical Goddess in my dream. But as I touch her, I feel warm skin. She’s real! Oh my God, only I could end up shooting the shoulder off of Hera’s daughter and bickering over a fair price for my friend!

I feel like an open book as Artemis’s hand stays firmly planted on my chest despite my best efforts to pull away. A single tear rolls down her cheek and I feel drained. When her hand is removed from my chest, I fall to my knees, exhausted.

"Your mouse is in danger," Artemis tells me, and now I know this is still a dream fit only for me.

"What mouse?" I ask.
24th-Sep-2006 06:43 am (UTC)
"The one who wanted to come with you," she says simply. It dawns on me that I’ve never told a soul about that mouse that I fed at my flat each day before I moved except Luna, and she doesn’t count because no one would believe her. The mouse was the one I forbid Snickety to eat. I feel ashamed to admit I care by asking Artemis about the mouse but it doesn’t stop me.

"The dwelling is in decay from so much human destruction around it. He will not get out." the Goddess studies my face.

"This troubles you?" she asks, confused.

"Well, yeah, but I have other pressing issues here, that person you called a half dead sacrifice is my friend. I need to get him out of here. If I make it back home I’ll go to my old flat and get him...the mouse I mean."

Artemis searches my face for truth. She finds it. "And your owl?” She enquires.

How does she know about Snickety?

"She had babies, with my friend’s owl, my friend out there," I point, wanting to go find Oliver again. "He’s good looking and kind to animals," I point out, trying to make her see Oliver for the person he is and make her understand that letting us go would be a good thing for her creatures in the mortal realm as she calls it.

In a flash of white and silver, Oliver now lays at her feet instead of at the feet of her likeness. I kneel and feel for a pulse in his wrist but it’s too weak. I place my fingers to his jugular vein and find a very faint beat. I sigh in relief but this is not good.

"He is safe from Hades here," Artemis informs me. She walks to a marble vase and pulls out some purple flowers. "Achenite," she explains. "I use it on my animals who have been hurt by hunters who hunt at the improper times and places after I kill their attacker of course.”

I watch as the Goddess turns Oliver over and a bed of feathers appears. She squeezes the Achenite and clear liquid with a faint purple tinge spills onto his back. She replaces the bandages and after turning Oliver over again with a soundless command, she tips some into his mouth as well, handing me the plant and instructing me to take some.

"I’m okay," I murmur quietly, nervous as to what Artemis is doing to Oliver. But I feel the liquid spill down my throat before I even know that my hand has raised to my mouth at her will. My eyes close as I feel an almost ecstasy come over me. My hand that has been healing slowly feels a warmth I haven’t known since before Wormtail had cut it off. My body feels almost perfect, maybe like what a newborn baby would feel like. No blemishes, no scars of life.

The fates can be cruel," sighs Artemis sadly and I open my eyes again. Even my eye that has a piece of plaster or rock in it feels better and my vision is no longer blurred.

"He’s not going to die, is he?" I ask anxiously, putting my hand back on Oliver’s neck. His pulse is more even, but still he sleeps.
24th-Sep-2006 06:44 am (UTC)
"That I do not know. But I have done all I can for him without interfering with The Fates. If you look to the heavens you will see Orion whom I fought for once before and lost," she laments. "But it is you I speak of."

"Life’s been rough, yeah, but I’m okay. Look, can you help my wife and my other friends? They’re all trapped in the maze, and I might as well tell you, we came here to destroy your mother’s soul. An evil human wants to use it to rule the world. He wants to become one of you..."

"My mother always did try to fight The Fates. Even we are subject to them to a lesser extent than mortals. My mother has many gardens, this is not her only one. The others are more well protected and mortals do not dance on the steps of their keeping rooms. But I will release you to do what you must. I will give you passage and your friend but I want what’s in your pocket.

For a minute I’m about to protest that I’m a married man and I feel a slight pride that she finally sees me in a different light...This place is making me loopy...okay, more loopy! I have to get out of here.

I reach into my pocket and draw out one of the little figures Tav gave me for luck. It’s one of those weird dinosaur/lizard looking things that Han Solo rode to save Luke Skywalker or something like that. Artemis looks at it and shakes her head. She whispers that it looks the early version of the basilisk when it walked on legs upright, before it was made to crawl on its belly. The image makes me shudder.

“The beast that immortalizes man in stone stole something from you," Athena tells me, stopping me in my tracks. I turn around. It’s not true. I’d put something that Madame Pomfrey had told me when I’d awakened from the Petrification out of my mind. It was only a chance. A possibility. I was eleven years old at the time, only a child with no plans for the rest of my life mapped out yet.

"It took your seed," Artemis tells me. "I’m sorry."

"Sorry, what do you mean?" I ask her. "I have to get my friend out of here and to a hospital. Thanks for your help..." I just want to leave now.

"I didn’t intend for that to happen," Artemis tells me, looking at me like she can see into my soul. I remind myself that likely she can.

"You will not sire children," Athena tells me. I don’t know what to say. My mind races back to that day so long ago in the Hospital Wing when Madame Pomfrey and Dumbledore and even Snape came to talk to the four of us who had been Petrified. Madame Sprout had sat on the bed with me.

"It is a possibility that you and Dennis here will not be able to father children. For Hermione and Penelope here, they may have just one child, or none at all." Madame Pomfrey had said as Professor McGonagall blew her nose into a handkerchief and muttered, “Poor little lambs.
24th-Sep-2006 06:46 am (UTC)
I didn’t understand back then what this meant, and I know Dennis didn’t. Hermione said she would look up information in a book, Penelope had cried. Dennis and I had a game of Wizard’s Chess and truly didn’t understand. I don’t want to understand now either. I want to go. I want to leave.

"The Basilisk lived in my forests. Angry mortals hunted it ruthlessly. The wounded it cruelly and I killed them for their troubles. I healed the beast, but could not tame it as I had done with every other creature I had contact with."

My Thestral is proof enough to me that this woman could tame a rabid dog. It sits at her feet content to have its bony head scratched by her long white nails.

"I made a mistake. The Basilisk was not safe in my forests. Gods hunted it for sport, mortals for potions and revenge. So I cast a sterilization charm on the Basilisks, took away their stealthy legs, and banished them from my forests feeling that they would die out, but live in peace until their end. Then a wizard so great was born that he was able to figure out a way to breed the Basilisk by placing a chicken egg under a toad. They cannot breed of their own will still but now when they do not kill but merely Petrify, the sterilization I bestowed upon them is transferred to whatever mortal, God, or creature they lay eyes upon in a glassy pool or mirror.”

My mind races. I know Penny told me she can’t have any more children... Hermione is pregnant with what is likely to be her only child and Dennis Creevy has no kids. Susan wanted a big family. She’s talked about it a million times, always with that beautiful glow on her face as if she can already see our ... her unborn children’s faces. The children I can’t give her.

If I felt awful coming in here, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut now, any good effects from the Healing Potions Artemis gave me gone completely.

"Can I go now? I have to help my wife... My wife who married me not knowing that I can’t give her what she wants more than anything in the world. A baby who would have perhaps resembled her mom or dad when they were kids from the photos or her Aunt Amelia. A legacy. A fresh start to the Bone’s line with my name as their last. If we make it out of here alive, I will tell Susan what I have been denying out of childhood misunderstanding and I will give her the option of leaving me. She deserves a man who is not damaged.

I feel old. Every wound from every battle I have endured aches as if I’d received them yesterday and my heart feels slashed open. I know what this news will mean for Susan, but if I think on what it means to me, I’ll never get out of here. I admit to myself that I’d imagined a little Alex, and a little guy that we wouldn’t name Carol after my chief but nickname Cat instead, maybe a little Ernie with red hair from Susan and blue eyes from me. And a perfect little girl, one that is just like the image of Susan sleeping in the dorms in my dreams. But it’s a legacy I will never know.

"She will not leave your side if her heart is truly yours," Artemis tells me. "I am not the Goddess of love, but we have tea sometimes," she winks.
24th-Sep-2006 06:46 am (UTC)
"I know that," I tell her hotly. "We’re Hufflepuffs, not that you would know what that means, but it means loyalty, sometimes misplaced in people. She would never leave me again. She promised... But if I see her sorrow grow day to day, then I will honour her love for me by leaving her."

Artemis shakes her head sadly and tells me that I underestimate the power of love. In any case, I have to go help my wife. My ring finger feels more naked then I could have ever imagined after having only worn the rings for barely over a week now.

I reach for Oliver, taking a deep breath as my Thestral licks Artemis’s hand and turns to vapour, entering my wand once again to lay in wait.

"Leave him until you find them," Artemis orders. "He cannot die in my presence and though I cannot save him once he leaves here, he will be safe from Hades. Protect her. Protect your friends. Go."

I have no choice. Oliver would be safer here if this isn’t some delusion in my brain. I step through the wall which becomes solid again when I am back outside of its protective aura. Oliver is truly gone from the dais at the feet of Athena’s statue.

I set off to find Susan and Lavender, terrified of what I might find instead, terrified that I won’t be able to find my way back here to get Oliver. I don’t want to wander here alone for an eternity to become one of the voices in the wall.
24th-Sep-2006 06:48 am (UTC)
I wake up on a soft bed of feathers. A beautiful woman is standing above me.

"Arise, you're safe here," she says. I do feel safe and out of danger even though I have no idea where I'm at.

"Who are you?" I ask politely.

"I am Artemis, Goddess of the hunt and fertility," she says in a very calming manner.

I stand and look around. "Where are we?"

"You're safe here with me for now," she informs me.

I look down to see myself still lying on the ground. "That is but a shell of your existence in the human world."

Artemis walks around me and fingers my arms and shoulders. Shivers pass through me at her touches. "You would do well here with me," she says and her voice has an indescribable twinkling quality. "Greek goods and Goddesses value the human body and athletes. You would be highly revered should you stay here."

"Thank you," I say not knowing what is really going on.

"You wouldn't have to worry about Hades or death here either," she continues her reasonings.

Artemis' beauty is stunning and her offer is tempting. How many men get the chance to live with a beautiful woman and be admired by many others? But still...

Something deep within tells me I should not take this woman up on her offer. That she's not the one for me.

I look down to my shell lying on the bed of feathers. It's damaged and alone. What could life in that shell offer that I could not get here? Yet there's something that keeps me from accepting her offer.

A noise to the side catches my attention and I turn to see people entering in the sanctuary.

A blond looking exhausted yet more stunning than a Goddess enters and my heart clutches. She kneels beside my shell checking it over. Everything floods back through my memory.

Lavender

I turn back to Artemis. A small smile is fixed on her face. "You are capable of many offspring. She will do well by you," she says motioning to Lavender.

"She already has," I whisper, looking toward Lavender. "I'm the one not worthy of her."

"You are too harsh upon yourself. She knows where her heart lies as do you," Artemis says.

Lavender picks up my hand and strokes the cheek of my shell with her other hand.

I want that. I want to feel it. To feel loved.

I square my shoulders and face Artemis. "I want to go with my friends and my love," I say in a strong voice that even surprises me.

Artemis smiles in a knowing manner. "I thought so. Just lay down on the bed of feathers. You and your shell will become one again. But be forewarned, once you leave here, I can not protect you from Hades any longer."

"I'll take my chances," I tell her, already lying down on the feathers.

I watch Artemis approach Lavender and give her some potion. Lavender and Artemis face each other but they do not speak out loud.

I quickly see Susan and Justin in the corner talking quietly. I worry about the apple Susan has. We need to destroy it.

"Don't worry about your friend's apple. It's one of my mother's fake ploys. She placed a worm in the fake ones so she herself could tell with a quick glance," I hear before my world goes black again.
24th-Sep-2006 06:50 am (UTC)
Oliver seems to resting comfortably.

His breathing is a bit shallow, and I'm worried about the pallor of his skin. I know he swallowed some of the water from the river and was weakened when we battled the Death Eaters in the labyrinth.

Justin seems so upset. Agitated. He must have suffered much more than the rest of us due to the phantoms. He's had so much misery happen to him in his short life, but I know that with Susan, he'll have time to heal.

"Here. This will help restore your strength." I see a tall woman standing in front of me, holding a vial of purple liquid. I'm hesitant and she smiles serenely at me before offering the potion again. "I'm not trying to poison you," she says with amusement. "You need to retain your strength for what lies ahead."

I take the potion from her and quickly swallow it. I feel a warmth rush through me and for the first time in months, I actually feel stronger, better.

"Thank you," I whisper. The vial disappears suddenly from my hand. I smile nervously and feel the briefest flutter in my stomach. Astonished I place my hand there and stare at the woman with wide eyes. "I feel strange. What did you do to me? Who are you?"

24th-Sep-2006 06:50 am (UTC)
"I am Artemis, Goddess of the hunt, wild animals and fertility." She places her hand above mine and her smile widens. "You are breeding."

"I-I'm what?" I feel as if I've been swept up into a whirlwind. I'm desperate to clutch at something to anchor and steady me. I feel her hand grip mine in a reassuring manner as my mind starts to settle. A baby? A mix of both me and Oliver is inside me. A tiny life inside of me.

"He will be strong like his father, and kind like his mother," Artemis tells me.

"A boy?" Oh Merlin. A little boy with his father's hair and possibly my eyes. He'll be tall and possibly as fanatic about Quidditch as his father.

Artemis turns to Oliver, who is struggling to sit up on the bed of feathers. "He is a specimen worthy of the Gods. It is too bad he will not be staying."

"I appreciate all you've done, but goddess or no, I'll fight you to the death if I have to. Oliver is mine." I set myself between Artemis and Oliver and hold my wand in front of me. Artemis' laugh twinkles around me and she shakes her head.

"No little one. I will not battle for him. It is obvious where his heart lies. Take care of him and yourself. A child is a wonderful blessing."

I lower my wand and turn to Oliver. He's managed to get himself into a sitting position and looks at me with concern. I smile at him and kneel beside him.

"What did she want?" Oliver grasps my wrist and squeezes gently. "What did she say to you?"

"You didn't hear her?" I don't understand why Oliver is asking me this. We weren't exactly whispering for Merlin's sake.

"No. You two were just standing there staring at each other."

Oliver had no idea I was pregnant! I opened my mouth to tell him when I notice Artemis gliding away, holding out a vial of purple liquid to Susan.

"She doesn't need that," Justin protests. He looks as if he's going to slap the vial from the goddess' hand, but thinks better of it. He looks back at Susan and then shakes his head before allowing Artemis to give his wife the potion.

Artemis calmly stands in front of Susan, silent. Almost as if she's asessing her, to see her strengths and her weakness. Was that how it looked when she and I were face to face? I don't know much about Greek Mythology and I wish Hermione were here. She'd know exactly what to do or what to say.

"We need to get out of here," Oliver grunts as he attempts to stand up. He can't muster the strength to stand, so he flops back down onto the feathers. I silently agree with him, but I know that we can't leave until the goddess is through with us.

Justin is pacing back and forth behind Susan, but she doesn't seem to notice. Her focus is entirely on Artemis. Her features are relaxed and I know that they're having a conversation mentally, from what Oliver had told me. I wish I could hear what is being said, but I'm sure it's for the best. If Susan wants me to know, she'll tell me.

"Please. I have to be the one to tell her, not you." Justin pleads. I see the sadness written on his face and I wonder what he is talking about. What did the goddess tell him? "Please."

"It is not my intention to tell her things, but to see her intentions." Now I'm really confused and wonder what is going on. It's something besides the ordeal we've been through. I know it.

"How's Oliver?" Justin is standing next to me, his worried gaze flitting between Susan and Oliver. I reach out and touch Justin's hand with mine. My moment of telling Oliver he's about to be a father has passed, but Merlin willing I'll tell him when this nightmare is over.
24th-Sep-2006 06:52 am (UTC)
“My child, I sense in you a good heart. I also sense that you are the last of your line,” Artemis tells me.

I’m a bit taken aback, but tell her that yes I am the last in my family.

“You have the opportunity to bear many children,” she says as if choosing her words carefully.

This makes me very happy, as Justin and I want several children. But, I also know Justin wasn’t happy with what she said to him, yet she is clearly impressed with him and his vegetarian life and kindness to animals, and this confuses me.

I decide not to ask her, but to wait and talk to Justin as soon as we are free to do so.

“You impress me as well. You and your mate have a strong, caring bond. You also have a healing touch,” she says. “Use it wisely.”

She then releases me back to the others and as I walk back to Justin he says, "With my luck, it’s best I don’t procreate anyway...screw up the gene pool for generations..."

I suddenly realize what she meant by opportunity and my heart sinks. Not so much for me, but I can tell how much it absolutely devastates him.

I turn to Justin to try to reassure him that we will make it through this, but as I do Artemis starts to speak to us.
24th-Sep-2006 06:52 am (UTC)
"Your path leads in that direction. It is neither friend nor foe." Artemis points and I turn to thank her, but we find ourselves outside of her realm or whatever that place was we just came from and her statue now points in the direction of a door, under which we see a shining light.

Friend or foe, I’m going to be ready to blast whatever comes at us and ask questions later!
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