Thank you to the 15 people who reviewed the last chapter. You guys are the greatest. Here is chapter 7, and it may end up being short, and I hope that you like it and please review—I'm only one away from getting to 100!—as they are much appreciated.


The Council of Elders

Harry let out a scream, struggling to escape the clutches of the nightmare as he continued to see his uncle's purple fury-filled face glaring at him and feeling his uncle's fist against his body and the belt crisscrossing across his back, leaving deep angry red welts in its place, welts that had scarred from lack of proper medical care. Harry could remember this day easily; it was one month before he had gotten his Hogwarts letter and he hadn't been able to finish cooking dinner on time because it had taken him longer to clean the house than he thought he would.

"I'm sorry," he cried, not evening realizing he had cried out loud until he heard a beautiful voice speak.

'Harry, child, you must awaken,' Crystal 's trilling echoed in his mind, sounding like an off-screen voice, an onlooker to the beating that Harry was reliving; it was soothing but it was doing nothing to break Harry out of his nightmare.

Crystal, herself, was at a loss of what to do. The young wizard to whom she owed a life-debt—one of them anyway—was locked in a nightmare and one that was obviously not pleasant and she couldn't break him out of it. She had tried speaking to him but he was ignoring her, though she couldn't be sure if he was doing that on purpose or if it was subconscious.

It didn't matter.

'I have to get him help,' Crystal trilled out loud as she gazed at Harry's thrashing form before she flashed away in a burst of water, leaving only a puddle of water in the middle of Harry's room. She still wasn't completely recovered from the poison but she felt two days of flying without flashing was enough; if she overdid it then she could always stop and rest. Right now, it was more important that she get help for Harry.

Crystal reappeared in Severus's room. 'Severus!' she trilled loudly hoping to wake up the Potions Professor; she had insisted on calling Severus by his first name, even though ice phoenixes only ever did that with people they thought were worthy and were pure and Crystal still wasn't sure about Severus. She knew that he was civil with Harry and treated him well, much better than whoever Harry was facing in his nightmares. Of course, she didn't know for sure if whoever Harry was facing in his nightmares was a real person but, as nightmares usually played upon your own fears or sometimes your past, there were high chances it was.

"What is it, Crystal?" Severus asked.

'It's Harry, Severus! He's stuck in a nightmare and I can't break him out of it,' Crystal trilled.

Severus nodded before getting to his feet and spelling his clothing into casual clothing before moving out of the room. Crystal flashed back to Harry's room, seeing Harry still tossing and turning and screaming; how no one in the manor could hear him screaming, Crystal did not know.

Severus came into the room a few minutes later and waved his wand before moving to Harry's side. "Potter, wake up," he called.

Harry continued to toss and turn, though his screams had died down in cries.

Severus placed his hands gently on Harry's shoulders before giving them a gentle shake. "Harry, wake up," he called again, this time using the boy's first name. Crystal wondered why he hadn't done that to begin with and decided it was because Severus usually called Harry 'Potter'.

Harry whimpered but slowly stilled in his thrashing and, when Severus called for him to wake up again, he slowly opened his eyes. "Professor?" he whispered sitting up slowly while Severus retracted his hands and Crystal landed on the headboard.

"You were having another nightmare," Severus said as Harry retrieved his glasses and put them on. "Crystal couldn't wake you up so she came and got me."

Harry blinked. "I thought I heard her in my mind," he murmured before looking at Crystal. "I'm sorry."

'It's all right, Harry,' Crystal trilled.

"What were you dreaming about?" Severus asked keeping his voice soothing while his face remained expressionless. Crystal could see that he was very good at hiding his emotions but she could still sense that he was worried. In the days it's been since she's been at Prince Manor, she has noticed that she was starting to get a better feel on one of her life-debtor's emotions. And, because of this, she knew that the ice around Severus's heart was starting to thaw; slowly, gradually and she had no idea how or why but it was.

Harry hesitated.

"Harry, look at me," Severus said and Harry, slowly, lifted up bright green eyes to gaze at Severus; Crystal felt the brief flicker of pain that went through Severus before it was quickly shielded and she wondered at that.

"Remember, nothing said here will ever leave this house," Severus said, his voice not betraying what he was feeling.

Harry swallowed. "U…Uncle Vernon g…got mad at me 'cause I didn't finish cooking dinner on time 'cause it took me longer to finish cleaning the house than I thought it would and he…he…" He trailed off and closed his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he whispered, "He started h…hitting me and…"

'How dare anyone hit a child?!' Crystal trilled angrily. 'Who is this 'Uncle Vernon'? Ice phoenixes may be forbidden from taking a life but I wish I could make that man pay for what he did? Children are to be cherished, not used as a punching bag!'

Severus simply remained silent, though his lips were pressed together in a thin line. "When was this?" he asked.

Harry hesitated again. "About a month before I got my Hogwarts letter, sir," he said softly.

Severus's jaw seemed to clench but he said nothing for a moment. "Do you believe you can go back to sleep?" he asked.

"I think so, sir," Harry said.

'I can get him to fall asleep if you wish, Severus,' Crystal suggested.

"How?" Harry sounded curious.

Crystal began trilling a lullaby but, instead of it being in Latin or English, it was in Italian and it seemed to flow; she sung of her home and was pleased to see that Harry was relaxing slowly, listening to the song. Before long, Harry was fast asleep.

Severus removed Harry's glasses before returning them to his side table and looking at Crystal. "I didn't know you knew Italian," he mused.

'I know many languages, Severus. You may go back to bed now. I will keep an eye on Harry and let you know if he wakes up again,' Crystal said.

Severus stood up. "Thank you," he said.

'That 'Uncle Vernon' isn't going to hurt Harry again, is he?' Crystal trilled worriedly.

Severus's jaw clenched and his obsidian eyes flashed with determination. "I will do everything within my power to make sure he does not," he said firmly before he turned around and strode out of the room.

It seems that you do have a heart underneath that block of ice I sensed within you. But what is causing that ice to thaw? Crystal wondered silently. She looked down at Harry's sleeping form and then back at the door Severus had just left.

That pain I sensed in Severus that I also sensed in Harry. Could it mean that Severus went through something similar as Harry? It would make sense, though it still does not explain the ice that's surrounding Severus's heart. Is it possible that Harry is the one who's thawing that ice? Crystal thought eyeing the small, pure child sleeping peacefully, unaware of anything going on around him.

. . .

The Chamber of the Elders was a beautiful white marble circular building with a domed ceiling of blue, white and silver glass and ten perches encircling the chamber several feet above the tiled floor. Perching on her silver perch and gazing at the eight perches as the others took their positions, Apate noticed with no small amount of glee that one of the perches was empty; the perch that would have belonged to the newest member of the Council had she stayed long enough to be given the position.

But, of course, Crystal decided to go about finding the ones she saw in her vision.

Apate did not regret enlisting the chimera's help to rid the Council of someone as unworthy as Crystal; she just didn't seem to understand that the magical world would be better if the Dark One won the war that she knew was coming. She couldn't understand why Crystal was going out of her way to find those she saw in her vision in the off chance that they will be able to make her vision come true.

When Apate had heard Crystal's vision along with the rest of the Council, she had been more than a little worried. After all, if Crystal's vision came to pass than the Dark One would be made vulnerable if he wasn't outright defeated, which Apate thought was not likely to happen. Nevertheless, though the Dark One did not yet know she was helping him to achieve his goal, Apate was going to help him.

And if that meant killing of someone she once saw as a friend then so be it. It served Crystal right for not seeing things her way, the right way.

"This meeting is now in session," Glacie, the current leader of the Council of Elders and the oldest of all the ice phoenixes, declared in a trill. "We have only one important matter to discuss at the moment."

"You had best be talking about the disappearance of my daughter, Glacie," Nix, the ice phoenix who was sitting on his perch across from Apate, said coolly.

"I am, Nix," Glacie said. "It has been four days since Nix's daughter Crystal went missing, which was only a day after she informed us of her vision and her decision to find the ones whom she saw. We had urged her to remain for another day while we organized a team to go with her but she left in the middle of the night and has not been seen or heard from sense."

"Where do you think she has gone?" Skadi, the ice phoenix who was perched next to Apate, asked.

"She could have gone anywhere," Nix said worriedly.

"Perhaps she went to the ancestral home of the Princes," Chione, who was next to Nix, suggested.

"But why?" Skadi asked with a frown.

"She was seeking someone. She said she saw two wizards in her vision. Perhaps she thought she could find them there," Chione suggested.

"Or she could have left the valley," Apate suggested in an attempt to get the others off the track they were going on. The last time she saw Crystal, the younger ice phoenix had been heading in the direction of the ancestral Prince Manor and she didn't want the Council of Elders to find out that she was behind Crystal's disappearance.

The only reason Apate knew Crystal had survived was because she had gone to see if Crystal had made it to the cave where the only known cure to the chimera's poison was kept, which was where Crystal had been heading after the attack. When she got there though, she could tell that not only had someone retrieved an ice flower but the leftover magical residue suggested that whoever got the ice flower had been flashed in. And the fact that the leftover magical residue was hot suggested that the cousin of the ice phoenixes, the fire phoenix, was the one who went into that cave and took the ice flower.

However, since the ice flower would have, naturally, melted upon being in contact with magic that was nearly the exact opposite of it, Apate figured the fire phoenix had flashed someone else into the cave instead, most likely a witch or wizard. Who that witch or wizard was, was not yet answered.

Nevertheless, Apate knew that if the others found Crystal then her deception would be revealed and she would be off the Council of Elders and stripped of the power she was given once she was given a place on the council.

"I have checked the wards around the valley though and they have not been disturbed since the Lord of Prince Manor and his charge arrived," Nix said with a frown.

"When was this?" Chione asked.

"Three days before Crystal left," replied Nix. "Perhaps we could send a group to Prince Manor and ask Lord Prince if he has seen Crystal."

"We do not know that she went there," Apate protested immediately.

"And if she hasn't then we have lost nothing but time, and we are ice phoenixes and immortal, time is a small price to pay," Nix said. "What do you say, Honored Glacie?"

"I agree, Nix," Glacie said. "Very well, we will send a few to Prince Manor to speak to Lord Prince."

"May I go?" Apate asked before she could stop herself. She needed to find Crystal and take her out before the younger ice phoenix could reveal to the Council Apate's treachery.

"You were the one who didn't believe she went there though," Skadi said confused.

"Just because I don't believe she went there doesn't mean I'm not willing to check. Crystal's my friend and I wish to make sure she is all right," Apate lied.

"Very well. Skadi, you will go with Apate. I believe two will be enough," Glacie said.

"Yes Honored Glacie," Skadi said bowing her head slightly.

"We shall leave right away," Apate agreed also bowing her head. And finally take Crystal out of the equation and stop her from causing her vision to come true, she thought. She cast a sidelong glance at Skadi as the two of them flew into the air and toward the archway that led into the chamber.

But first, I will need to get rid of Skadi to prevent her from stopping me, she thought.

. . .

Harry made his way into the kitchen. Several hours had gone by since he woke up screaming from his latest nightmare and Harry had spent most of it in his room, talking with Crystal to take his mind off his nightmare. The ice phoenix was currently resting on Harry's shoulder; while her talons weren't puncturing Harry's skin, he could still feel the cold through his shirt.

The only reason Harry had left his room was because he was hungry and didn't feel like taking lunch in his room. It was quiet and Hedwig still hadn't returned with Hermione's letter; he had told Hedwig to stay with Hermione until she wrote a reply because she didn't have an owl of her own. Long story short, Harry had quickly gotten bored.

Once he entered the kitchen, Harry walked over to the fridge before opening it up and pulling out the necessary items to make himself a sandwich. Once his sandwich was done, he poured himself a glass of pumpkin juice and walked over to his table.

I wonder where Snape is, he thought.

'Likely in his lab,' Crystal trilled.

Harry looked at her. "Do you always read the thoughts of the people you talk to, Crystal?" He sounded genuinely curious.

The ice phoenix had the decency to look sheepish. 'I am sorry. That thought just came into my mind and I responded. I usually do not read the thoughts of anyone I talk to. I will stop if you wish,' she trilled.

"Will you?" Harry asked. "I mean, my thoughts are supposed to be private."

'Yes they are and I apologize. I will not read your thoughts anymore,' Crystal trilled.

"Thank you."

Crystal suddenly lifted her head and looked around.

"What is it?" Harry asked concerned.

'Something's not right,' Crystal replied.

"What do you mean?"

'I sense a danger and it's approaching the manor but I can't figure out what the danger is or who.'

"You can do that?"

Crystal looked amused. 'Ice phoenixes have many abilities that are not written down in books and being able to sense dangers is one of them,' she trilled.

"Oh. Should I tell Snape?"

'I think you should. The danger is heading toward the manor and I am unsure if there are any wards around the manor itself that will protect it,' Crystal trilled.

Harry nodded and decided to tell Snape after he finished lunch.

. . .

A/n what do you think?

Blaze: yeah, that last part was mostly a filler but it was important and yes this chapter was a filler but it was supposed to be. Some stories just have to have fillers, no matter how much of a pain in the butt they are to write

Darth: what's gonna happen next?

Blaze: I honestly don't know. You'll just have to wait and see. For all I know, the characters are going to highjack the chapter like they did with the last one

Darth: oh

Blaze: and if anyone's wondering, I chose Apate's name for a reason; she's an ancient Greek personification of deceit and I think that suits her character

Darth: cool and the other names?

Blaze: all related to ice and snow in some way (Glacie is Latin for ice, Skadi is the Norse goddess associated with winter, Nix is Latin for snow and Chione is the Greek nymph or minor goddess of snow). So please review (I just need one more to get to 100) and I will post chapter 8 as soon as I figure out what to do next, type it up and edit it.