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Phoenix Rising
A Harry Potter RPG
Just a Little Longer 
25th-Sep-2006 01:50 am
don't mess with me
I fall onto my knees depositing Oliver as gently as my sore muscles will allow. Lavender and Susan have Padma and Dean beside them. We don’t want to do any more magic than necessary around this place because we don’t know if Hera’s phantoms would be attracted to it and we don’t know if there is a barrier between the living world we now stand in and the dead staleness within the cave of Ideon Andron. If those creatures of early evil have leave to pursue us beyond the hidden exit, we are done for. None of us has the strength to continue the fight.

"Snape... I heard his voice. We need to run, we need to get out here..." Padma mumbles, making no sense at all and clearly unable to get up, let alone run.

Yeah, but Snape is a real man. I can kill a real man.

Padma’s obviously delirious. There are bats in the cave no doubt, but none that have a hooked nose and go by the name of Serverus Snape. I can’t help but wonder how he’d feel about my taking his dream job. Maybe one day I’ll get to ask him if he’s ever caught. I wonder where in the world he is now.

"Padma...Padma! Susan says, patting her face softly. I know how hard it is for Susan not to just pull out her wand and begin to start healing now but healing magic is strong as it is based a lot on emotion and we just can’t risk being detected. Plus I think it would take Susan to the end of her strength She’s been shaking ever since I found her after she’d just killed Rudolphus Lestrange.

I’ll never forget the haunted look in Susan eyes and it hasn’t changed since we escaped. I had hoped that the night air would do more than just chill us to the bone but the sulphur smells echoing from the cave overrides any fresh breezes that may have once blown in this cursed place. We can’t risk a magical fire and there is nothing of any size or substance to burn in a traditional campfire.

Lavender sits by Oliver, her hand on his forehead. "Oliver, no please," she sniffles. I stare for a minute at them, overwhelmed. No one but me is fit to Apparate to a safer place and if I try to Sidealong Apparate in the shape I’m in, I’m sure to Splinch us all. Even in perfect health, my record for Sidealong Apparation at the Academy was only four. There are six of us. I can’t do it one at a time because that would leave them more defenceless per evacuee. I have to be an MLE right now because it’s all I know to keep myself from losing control. I wish Ron was here.

I have no shirt. My spare I had given to Oliver and the one I’d worn was ripped from me in the River Styx. I don’t know what to do. Oliver is mumbling but he’s making less sense than even Padma and Dean. He’s in and out of consciousness and in very great pain during wakefulness. Oliver’s mumbling even when he had been more lucid in the labrynth has me worried. Legend has it that one loses their memory when dipped into the River Styx., gods lose their voice. Oliver is a man. What will he lose?

Lavender and Susan shiver as they have placed their cloaks around Padma and Oliver. Dean tries to take his sweater off to place on Oliver but he can’t get his arms over his head with the pain in his chest. The Enervation Charm we risked on Dean is wearing off. Susan takes me aside and tells me everyone is in danger of exposure and it’s likely only a matter of time before shock gets a firmer grip on the most grievously wounded.

There’s barely any moon. I hate this place.

"Susan, Harry told us that there are Order sympathisers in a tavern in that valley down there. I have to go get help. I don’t have a choice. Use magic only if you absolutely have to. I’ll try to get as far away as I can before Apparating so no magic is traced back to you guys here but if that happens...if that happens..."

"We’ll be fine, Justin," Susan tells me, kissing me and grabbing my hand only to let it go so I can leave. I try not to look back but when I do, I see her pale form looking down at her bare hand. Rings can be replaced, she can’t. I shiver from the cold and the sight of her.

My eye is now swollen shut and bursts of stars dance behind it, throwing me off balance against the black rocks and sky. If I could just lie down for a minute it might even be pretty. I think the potion that Artemis gave us has staved off the worst effects of the water from the River Styx but the further from the cave I get as my friends and my love shrink to tiny dots in my good eye, the less I seem to be able to concentrate on what I have to do. Lethe _ the river of forgetfulness.

"NO!" I shout and I know I have to concentrate. The pain helps me do that. Without it, I fear I will lose my way. I was never good at fighting mind charms.

I want to make it a half a kilometre away from my friends at least before I Apparate. Susan’s face is firmly in my mind: the way she looked when I showed up at Phoenix House with the stolen honey, the way my hockey jersey hugged her form when she took me to a game to surprise me, the smell of her bath oils and how sometimes I wouldn’t even let her towel off before I had to have her in my arms, the way I’d go to work with my uniform soaking wet from where she would splash me playfully, reminding me not to be late.

The river doesn’t want us to leave and it punishes us for getting away by trying to take away who we are. I hope that Oliver’s being unconscious is saving him from this fate. I hope his memories are not fading like mine. One isn’t supposed to come out of that river unchanged but I will be damned I let Hades have me now after I fought for so long against him so many times.

Five I count down from the nine lives I must have started with. If I could share what’s left with my friends and have but one more left for myself than this mission will have been a success. I trip over a stone near a ledge with a fifty foot drop and manage to catch myself. The solid stone ground bites into my hands. I change direction, walking parallel with the crevice now.

Before my eyes dances the image of Susan waving goodbye to me as I dropped her off on Platform nine and three quarters so she could finish her seventh year and I went on to the Academy instead. She fades, waving from my mind.

"Expecto Patronum!" I yell as loud as I can and I Apparate from that spot, hoping that I am far enough away not to attract phantoms. I land in the cobbled street of the old wizarding village Dean told me about when he’d consulted with Harry about our proceedings.

Mr Olivander told me my new wand was special and I have to trust him. Something good has to come of this. My Thestral holds my mind clear. I can picture my friends, I can smell Susan’s hair. It’s draining me but I keep my Thestral close. Just as it keeps Dementors and phantoms out, it keeps my memories inside.

I step into the pub holding my wand out like a leash for my Thestral.

"No pets," grumbles someone in broken English while his drunk companion tries to pet my Patronus.

"Yeah, no shirt, no shoes, no service," grumbles another, clearly North American person.

I hear a howl of pain as my Patronus bites a man who tried to hit it with a wine bottle. Its eyeless sockets turned menacingly toward him. This is one tough bunch of blokes but at least I know I have the right village. It’s clearly a wizarding pub.

I rest my head on the counter for a minute as those who cannot see my Patronus scramble to get out of its way and grope for whatever brushes by. It puts its bony head on the counter next to mine. I don’t have time to ponder what my wand has given me. This is more than a Corporeal Patronus.

I look down upon one of its hooves to see a golden circlet encrusted with the initial A in diamondst. It looks like a bracelet. Artemis? She told me she had a menagerie of magical beasts and that some of them were from the past life. She showed me dinosaurs and extinct creatures. She made my Patronus real and tangible.

The barman comes up and though he himself is dressed shabbily, gives me a dirty look.

"Hiccup," I lean in and say to him as this is the emergency distress call.

He continues to stare.

OH! I hiccup rudely and loudly and suddenly all around me wands are drawn and those who I’d thought to be drunk, stand up straight and the whole atmosphere changes to one of order as someone steps from the shadows.

"Quite an entrance, lad," growls a familiar voice that I haven’t heard since Ernie’s funeral.

I never thought I’d think of Mad Eye Moody as a sight for sore eyes, a sight that made your eyes sore, sure.

Moody tries to sit me down and have a look at my eye. He beckons over the barman who comes at me with a medical bag when only a moment ago he’d reeked of cheap alcohol and smoke.

"Mr Moody, we have to go save them," I blurt out as he places his gnarled old hand on my Patronuses’ skeletal head.

Within seconds, I’m wearing someone’s robe and three of Moody’s men stand ready for his orders. I try to talk them out of Apparating straight to where my friends lay wounded lest there be a further battle because of magical signature detection but Moody reassures me that there is no need to worry. The gleam in the eye that just rolled behind his face makes me believe him. hm, wonder if I can get one of those if my eye needs to come out?

Moody tries one last time to get me to go on to the hospital to wait for the others but I refuse. He won’t let me Apparate alone again but my Patronus goes back to my wand like a caged dog. Please don’t let us be too late...
 
28th-Sep-2006 04:30 am (UTC)
I’m not sure how long Justin has been gone. I hope that he’s alright. His eye was a bloody mess. He kept trying to pretend it wasn’t bothering him, but he was squinting and kept running into things…I think.

I inhale slowly and close my eyes against the sharp pains in my chest. I don’t really remember anything that happened after seeing Padma scream. I don’t even recall hearing her scream, but just seeing her eyes widen in fear.

“Padma?” I whisper to the face comes into focus as she leans down over me. “Where…?”

“She’s fine,” says Susan in a soothing voice. “She’s right here.”

Thank, Merlin. She’s alright. I lay my head back down on what feels like a bloody rock. Whatever charm Susan used on me is wearing off, and I fight to keep my eyes open. My body is beginning to feel like it has been dipped in lead. I can’t imagine moving because every time I do I think I might throw up. It’s becoming harder to think.…

“The Horcrux….” I gasp, trying not to talk too loudly because of the pain. What the hell did Mulciber hit me with to make it hurt to talk and breathe?

Susan glances over her shoulder and through the dark; I think I see a blonde head that must be Lav move slowly back and forth.

“It wasn’t there when we arrived,” says Susan in a worried voice.

I close my eyes and an image of Mulciber materializes. He’s standing over me, the phantoms are behind him – they’re closing in. Then I hear him screaming and shrieking, asking for help. I think that the Horcrux must’ve been destroyed along with him, consumed by Hera’s own phantoms. How ironic.

“Dean.”

It’s Susan’s voice again. I struggle to open my eyes. Everything is blurry and moving in slow motion. Where’s Justin? Did we get the Horcrux? And Oliver….? Hang on, why is Susan here again? I think Justin, Oliver, and I all in big trouble….

“Did you see Professor Snape?”

Padma, is she alright? I’m sure she’s here, too. I can hear her talking…she’s mumbling like she does sometimes…no, she’s crying?

“Don’t cry.…” I say.

“Dean, listen to me,” Susan’s voice cuts through the haze in my head. “Was there someone else there with you and Padma besides Mulciber?”

The shadows grow long and detach themselves from the walls as Mulciber pleads for help….

“Phantoms….”

I’m not sure if I actually say the word or if I just think it. Bloody hell, I think my chest must’ve caved in or something. I groan as I feel a cool hand on my forehead. I try to concentrate on that sensation as if it might anchor me to something, but I feel myself floating away….
28th-Sep-2006 04:36 am (UTC)
Oliver has fallen unconscious and I'm scared.

I'm more terrified of what will happen to him now, than what we went through in that horrible labirynth.

I place my hand against Oliver's forehead and snatch my hand back and turn to Susan. "He's so cold! Susan, what do we do?" Oliver's face has taken a bluish cast to it and I know it's because he swallowed that cursed water from the river Styx.

"The water is affecting him," Susan whispers as she kneels next to me. "I've heard tales that it's effects are like that of the Draught of Living Death."

"Oh Merlin!" My entire body goes numb. Why didn't I pay more attention in Potions! How much of that stuff, if it's ingested, is fatal? Damn it to everlasting hell. That slimy git Snape might be a murderer and a traitor, but at least he knew what he was doing. "Is he going to die?"

Susan placed a comforting hand on my arm. "We're going to do everything in our power to make sure he recovers. Have faith."

I look away from Susan and stare down at the man who has become the center of my world. I place my hand on my still flat stomach and wonder what our baby will look like. He'll be tall like his father, strong and honorable. He'll be smart and loving and loyal. I can picture us in a large house with a wonderful garden full of trees and flowers. He and Liam will be chasing each other around while the birds sing and the sun shines. I can hear their laughter and it warms my heart. So pure and joyous.

He'll learn to love Quidditch, just like his father. Oliver can teach him...

I wipe a tear from my eye and feel my heart squeeze painfully in my chest. What if Oliver dies? A sneaky voice whispers.

What if I have to raise them on my own? Could I do that? Would I be strong enough to move forward? To make a future without Oliver?

My mind flashes back to the night Oliver asked me to marry him. I turned him down for what I thought were the right reasons. Had I really done the right thing? I thought my reasoning was sound, but now they seem like childish excuses. I was protecting myself and for selfish reasons, not the ones I spewed out to him or anyone else.

It was because I was afraid.

I was afraid of what the future might hold. I made a mess of my first marriage and I'm scared that I'd ruin this wonderful relationship with Oliver.

I'm a coward.

I brush back the hair from Oliver's forehead and grasp his cold hand in mine. I vigorously rub it between my hands to create some warmth, anything to get rid of that blasted cold feeling to his skin, but it doesn't work.

What if he dies?

"We might as well get some rest," Susan's voice startles me and I blush. I had forgotten they were here. How stupid can I be? I sigh tiredly and pull my robes closer and lay with my leg thrown over Oliver's and my arm encircling his chest. I want to share my body heat with him.

It's the only thing I can do for him.
28th-Sep-2006 04:39 am (UTC)
The wind picks up and I shiver slightly, rubbing my arms to warm them. Dean and Padma are resting comfortable again, and for that I am thankful.

I’m not sure how much longer we can hold out without help.

I glance over at Oliver and Lavender and see Lavender run her hands through Oliver’s hair. Justin likes that too, I think with a small smile.

I then frown wondering what is taking him so long. He’s hurt as well and even under the best circumstances he’s physically, mentally and magically exhausted.

He’s beyond handling stuff well anymore tonight…for that matter after everything tonight who wouldn‘t be on the edge of a breakdown?

I close my eyes trying to block the horrible things I’ve seen tonight…and done. I look over at Lavender again and wonder if killing someone bothers her as much as it does me.

Yes, I decide. Because we have a conscience.

Suddenly, I hear a soft pop in the distance and Lavender and I both immediately have our wands trained on the area, but then I see him. Thank Merlin!
28th-Sep-2006 04:42 am (UTC)
"Justin!" Susan calls out, flying into my arms, burying her head in my shoulder. I can see the look of relief on her face as the men that came with Moody clearly know what they’re doing. She is no longer faced with the horrible decision to Enervate people or not lest it get them all killed.

I can’t help but smile as Lavender feistily tells the men that she is perfectly capable of Apparating on her own. They make her lie down on a conjured stretcher and I guide Susan to one. They need to be settled. A heavy landing at this point won’t do any of them any good.

Dean has been bound in a tight cotton blanket with a winding bandage around his chest and the stretcher itself. Padma’s head has been immobilized. Two of the men are still working on Oliver and Mad Eye’s magical eye swivels in all directions as if daring something to attack us now.

All of the stretchers are hovering. I stand beside Moody who puts his hand on my shoulder, grab Susan’s hand on the stretcher, and close my good eye.

We land just outside the doors of the hospital and see statues of ancient philosophers like Socrates standing like sentinels. Word had already been sent to Hippocrates Imenhotep Healing House and in seconds, my friends are all whisked from my sight. I stand with Mad Eye in the waiting room. Paintings hang on the wall, many of them depicting Pensieves and upsetting and disturbing images being drawn from people and placed inside. The paintings move like photographs and it boggles the mind the amount of work that must have gone into them. The people whose minds have been emptied of sad things, stand, smile and walk into a garden. If only it were that simple...

"This is a good hospital," the old Auror tells me as I sit down before I fall down. "I had a few injuries treated here way back."

I nod at Moody not wanting to say anything but I think I’ll wait to get back home to get my eye looked at just in case... Mad Eye isn’t the poster boy for good health care.

Mad Eye talks to a reception witch who is dressed remarkably like a Muggle nurse and in minutes I’m protesting my way into a examination room. Laws are different here than back home and they have many Legilimens on staff as well as Healers.

Moody explains that Greece is the birth place of Hippocrates, early inventor of hynosis and one of the fathers of mind medicine. Why don’t I like the sound of this? I assume he’s telling me this because of Oliver’s having ingested so much water from the River Styx.

A woman dressed in olive green robes comes in, introduces her self, at least that’s what I assume she said to me in Greek as I nod to her and give her my name and badge number. She makes me nervous for some reason and I feel cornered so I follow protocol and tell Moody I want to leave.

Olive- green- robe- lady pats my knee and invades my mind without asking.She ends up leaving the room with her face the same colour as her robes and in tears. I feel a mean sort of satisfaction. I never asked for that. I shiver as I try to collect all the thoughts she saw and put them back where they have to be. But I can’t find their shelves in my head anymore. What right does she have to come in here, make a mess and not clean it up!

Moody chuckles as I catch my breath. "I did the same thing to a young intern back in fifty nine." He winks at me and proceeds to speak Greek? to a young man who comes in next.

"Keep him away from me," I say, trying to sound like I’m not freaking out. What the hell is going on here, I’m sure I don’t know. I did what I had to do, my friends are back safe, I haven’t lost a limb and I think my eye is still in it’s socket somewhere near the back of my brain, so what is the big deal? For me, this is pretty good!

I wish Moody would speak English and I’m perturbed when the young man dressed in blue jeans a button down shirt greets me in English. They were talking about me!

“Your friends all seem to be responding well to treatment, although they will be with us for a few days of course.” I make this bloke tell me everything about Susan and I want to see her but I’m told that everyone has been placed in states of sleep already and that Oliver and Dean are still being worked on.
28th-Sep-2006 04:42 am (UTC)
"And with Oliver...did you...do that thing?" I say, waving my hands around my head to indicate mimicking what having your brain read feels like.

"Legilemancy? It is standard protocol here when a patient is brought in unconscious," I’m told just as I’m about to start protesting that I was in no such state when I was invaded. But I want to know about my friend’s condition so I shut up.

"Mr Wood is being treated for some short term memory loss but by the time he wakes we feel he will be fine. His burns as well Mr Thomas’ are severe but we have the best burn unit in the country. In a few days time, we will release them. Ms Brown is being cared for on the third floor witches centre and Ms Patil and your wife are resting in our recovery wing."

"Okay...well, good then, so I’ll just be leaving," I say hastily. I imagine Moody can put me up in some of the rooms over that shabby Order hideout Tavern. I’ll check in on Susan and just go to a Muggle hospital and have my eye looked at. I don’t like the up- close- and- personal attention I’m getting here. Ha haha I sound like old Grover now. ‘I hate Legilimens’.

"We feel that you should stay Mr Finch-Fletchley. There is the matter of your eye and you will need to be treated for your own minor ingestion of river water. My assistant sees some very minor memory gaps and other non physical issues you may want to discuss with us here," the Healer tells me. But I’m having none of it.

He tries to convince me to stay and I cannot believe that Mad Eye is not helping me. When will people just believe that I’m fine? Life is what it is and you can’t change the past by talking about it. I stand up to leave, trying to keep my temper but the weight of my exhaustion has finally caught up to me and even the adrenaline from my anger at these people for trying to play shrink with me won’t let me stay on my feet any longer.

Moody knew I’d tired myself out yelling at these people that I wanted to see Susan, that I wanted out of here, and that what was in my head was mine alone.

"I did what everyone wanted, Mr Moody. I killed Wormtail, I helped find the Horcruxes, I..." I don’t know what anyone wants anymore...

"You did, Justin. And I wish I was looking at young Macmillan here with you today but you can’t always get what you want. I think I see a little of me in you," the old Auror laughs, putting up his hand when I’m about to protest that I haven’t been beaten up nearly that much...yet.

"And it’s the yet I want to talk to you about. You can spend a lifetime fighting but teaching a new generation of young people the horrors of war is perhaps more important than the battles themselves. Bravery to fight must be taught too but the wisdom of knowing when to fight and when to walk away is a valuable lesson as well. Minerva tells me that you’ve agreed to take over Defence Against The Dark Arts in an MLE capacity. Maybe it’s time to consider taking it up full time and hanging up you hat with the MLE so you don’t end up having to wear a huge Bowler like mine."

I look up at Moody, squinting in the light of the examination room and laugh. The mirror above the sink shows me my reflection and I have to admit as I look down at the jagged scars on my wrist and neck to my swollen face that I’m damn close to being as pretty as Moody. My insides are a jigsaw puzzle of wizarding healing power and if not for it, I’d have been dead a long time ago.

"I’ll think about it," I tell Moody. "But I’d never give up the Order."

"It’d be a bloody sorry day if you did, lad," He tells me.

"So, Mattie," I say to Moody, who’s one good eye shoots up, his brow crinkling.

"How do you know my nickname?" he asks me incredulously.

"Susan ran Phoenix House, remember? She tells me everything." The old auror can’t help but smile as he recounts finding Catherine, the little girl whose parents had been killed. Her father had been an auror only two years out of the academy when it happened. Moody had visited often and I think he found peace among the children. He had always worried that he would scare them, just like I used to worry about because of my job. But children we have learned, have a great capacity to forgive and accept.
28th-Sep-2006 04:43 am (UTC)
Somehow I feel as old as Moody right now. I feel like I’ve had a lifetime of battle and that my scars on the outside don’t match the ones inside. Maybe Moody’s right. But isn’t the old saying, Those who can do, do. Those who can’t, teach? Well, I think it can go both ways. I tell Moody I’ll think about his advice and talk it over with Susan. I’m only twenty three years old and I swear I’m ready to retire.

Olive- green- dress- robes comes back in and apologizes for her abrupt departure. I wince in pain as she pries my eye open but in seconds she’s numbed it. From a container in her hand she takes out something that looks like feathers and poppy petals and blows them gently into my face. I’ve been tricked! Damn it!

I fight the sleep that is coming over me. They tell me not to. Moody looks down on me and I feel so heavy I can’t get up to protest what he’s gone along with from the start.

"This is a good place to think, young Finch-Fletchley. Trust me on that," he tells me like he knows and I hear some talking as I feel a patch being placed on my eye.

" Pigaine ton stin pteryga. Ah, kai exetase ton gia narkotika." Okay, that might be Greek to me, but I know the words ‘Ward forty nine’, and ‘narcotics’ when I hear them!

"Laddie, I promised myself that I’d watch over you and young Macmillan. I can’t watch over Ernie now but you need some rest and you need some time to think and heal your thoughts. Don’t fight it."

I feel hurt and touched at the same time. Mostly hurt.
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