Author's note:

It all belongs to JKR. I own nothing.


HPHPHP


Children of the Flame Saga

Book 1: Death's Daughter

Chapter 22

You Step Through the Doorway to Death


Albus Dumbledore looked up sharply when two alarms began clanging from the shelf in his office. He stood, knocking his chair over in the process. His desk slid out of the way as he rushed to the shelf. Already, the alarms were fading, a sure sign that the life they tracked was fast coming to an end. "Dear God, no." He needed to get to them, but where? Before he could think of anything, Fawkes leapt from his perch. His talons closed on Dumbledore's shoulder and in a rush of Flame they were gone.

Moments later he was on platform 9 3/4s in London. Almost before he gained his footing, Fawkes left him. Dumbledore's eyes fell on his worst nightmare. Lying upon the ground in a pool of blood and gore were the bodies of Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. Less than five feet away Bill Weasley frantically tried to take down the ward separating him from his sister and Harry. Molly, collapsed on the floor, sobbed in Charlie's arms as he stared blindly at his sister's body. Hermione, in the same state as Molly, was held by her parents. Ron and the twins stood staring, helpless to do anything but watch. He didn't even need to check to know he was too late. "What have I done?" he breathed.

Fawkes met his eyes from where he'd alighted next to Ginny. "Goodbye my friend," he trilled softly. His wings spread wide and both Harry and Ginny rose from the floor to float vertically in the air with the phoenix above them. "It would not do for them to witness this." In a flash of blindingly white flame Fawkes disappeared with Harry and Ginny leaving the platform in sudden silence.

"Nooooo!" Molly wailed.


Many people swear your life flashes before your eyes before you die. Ginny didn't put much stock in the theory. After all, no one who had died could actually attest to the claim. She held more to the truth that your life flashed before your eyes before you lived. It had happened to her once before and hadn't been all that bad. Her life may have been short, but all except the last bit had been really good. She'd felt a peace within herself before suddenly waking on the floor of the Chamber of Secrets. That was when the shame had set in. This time though, she got something else entirely. She didn't get the life she'd lived already. Instead, she got the life she had begun to dream of since Harry had become hers. Only she got it without him, because while she survived Narcissa's attack, Harry did not. And that life, it had been one long agony of never recovering from the loss.

Her eyes snapped open. Laying on her stomach, the side of her face flat to the floor the first thing she saw was Harry's unmoving body flat on his back in front of her. Blood and gore still covered them both and the imagined pain of his death took form in reality. "No," she croaked pitifully.

"Be at peace, child," a gentle voice spoke in Ginny's mind.

Ginny's head snapped up. Above them, his wings spread wide with small flames rippling across the feathers, floated a stunningly beautiful red bird. "Fawkes?" she whispered.

"Yes, daughter."

The sound of the phoenix's voice in Ginny's mind somehow brought a tranquil serenity of acceptance to her. She looked down at Harry, moving her hand to trail along his face. "I'm not going to die, am I?"

"I have healed your wounds and Death has seen fit to spare you."

"Why?" she whispered. "Why couldn't you have just let me go with him?"

"Because while it suits Death's purpose to stay his hand for you both he cannot do so for Harry without your help."

It took a few seconds for Fawkes' answer to settle in her mind. "Do you mean I can save him?"

"Long ago the Fates wove the Strand of your life. But the Strand was flawed; frays exist that have allowed Death choices. Once before Death has considered your Strand. He found then that His purpose was furthered to spare you and where no other would have, you lived. This day, the second flaw of your Strand has been reached. Once again Death has seen His purpose furthered to stay His hand. The Strand for Harry's life is short and contains no such flaws. With malevolent intent Death comes. Without doubt His purpose is served in Harry's death. But the Fates intervene and offer Death a bargain. Two Strands will become one but the total length will be the same as if they had remained separate. Death considers. Yes, Harry's death serves His purpose. But, his life serves it further. Fate's bargain is accepted and Death's hand is stayed such that you and Harry might decide.

Ginny frowned as she tried to piece together the puzzle Fawkes had given her. "So basically, I should have died in the Chamber of Secrets. I should have died today. And Harry's going to die now unless I … Soul-bond with him?"

"Do not confuse Time with Love, my daughter. One is not the other. The Strands are Time. What you must offer promises not that he will love you. It means only that, on this day, he might be saved."

"Might be?"

"He must accept what you would give. Two Strands may become one. But as long as two are alive to draw on it, the single Strand will be consumed at twice what but one would burn."

"Meaning," Ginny slowly said, "If I bond with Harry I have to give him half of whatever I have left, right? If there are a hundred years left in my Strand the most I will live will be fifty because Harry will get the other fifty?"

"Yes."

"But we wouldn't be Soul-bonded?" Ginny asked. "We might still die separately?"

"Only Love and Trust can bind the soul; those belong to you and he alone."

Ginny considered for a few seconds. "What happens if Harry doesn't accept?"

"No matter the choice Harry makes, you must pay Death's price for the offer to be made."

Without hesitation Ginny answered, "I'll pay."

"Consider wisely, my daughter. His parents, his family await him. It may be that he wishes to join them and would not want you to do this. It may be that he only comes back because you offer the price and he cannot let you do so without accepting. This can only lead to him resenting and eventually hating you for what you have taken from him."

Ginny's brow furrowed in thought. Harry possessed the money to buy the greatest treasures of the earth but cared nothing for them. More than once he'd told her he would happily trade everything, every galleon, sickle, knut, every gem, priceless painting and manuscript, to spend even a single hour with his parents. He owned near a dozen different properties. Some of them Sirius had said were quite grand. But Harry swore no matter how grand they were none of them would ever hold a candle to a ramshackle, crooked old house named the Burrow.

"A house without the love of family," he had told her, "was but an empty building. Only love could give a house a soul. Only love made a house a home."

To be part of a family, to have a home was his heart's greatest desire … It was what he had seen in The Mirror of Erised.

Home, she thought. How many times, while in his arms, had she said that word to him? Months ago she had confronted her brothers. Perhaps the words had been different but in essence she had told them she had found her Home. If Harry would only have her, she would choose him over anything she already held. Her brothers, her parents, everyone else had become distant seconds to her.

Absently she played with the ring on her finger. She was young. She knew it. The ring even spoke to it, was an acknowledgment by both of them of that fact. She'd seen the rolling of eyes of more than one classmate. She'd heard the whispers that it would never actually happen. She didn't doubt the explosion from her mum once they got home and she told her …

She was young.

She didn't care. She'd happily marry Harry tomorrow if he asked. Half her life? Please, she'd gladly give it all, because a single day without him loomed in her mind like eternal hell. He was her Home.

But what was she?

Ron and Hermione, they were the closest things he had to a family of his own. He referred to Hermione as his sister. He'd never called Ron his brother, but boys were different that way. It could remain unspoken and be just as true. But ever since they had begun dating, Harry had made it clear to her whom he would choose … Many times over.

Harry's voice, real or only an echo she couldn't say, brushed across her mind. You though, you, I'm going to live for.

Her gaze locked with the golden eyes of the phoenix floating before her. "His parent died so he might live. I can't believe they welcome his death now any more than they did then. I might be wrong, it might be selfish of me, but I trust that he loves me and if there was any way at all for him to come back to me without my help he would. I don't care the price I might pay when the cost of losing him now means nothing good that might still be possible will be left to me. Whatever it is I need to do, tell me and I will."

Fawkes held her eyes for a moment before inclining his head to her. "You choose wisely, my daughter." In the blink of an eye Ginny found herself rising from the floor to float vertically a few feet above it. Harry, whole and uninjured rose as well, facing her from less than a foot away. Slowly they began to revolve around one another. Not in the pattern of human speech but instead from the soothing trilling of Phoenix Song the comforting sound of Fawkes' voice filled her mind as flames grew around them, "Do not fear, my daughter."

Unsurprised to find she understood his song, she trilled in reply, "I trust you father."

The flames multiplied, but to her eyes she and Harry remained untouched and she knew it wasn't his body, but his very being that floated before her. The flames grew higher still and she knew that beneath them both their bodies were being consumed and falling to ash. She reached for Harry, her fingers coming to his face and to the back of his neck she pulled him closer. Her lips, warm and alive pressed against his, unmoving and cold and she cared not. Whether the last of this life, or the first of a new her only desire was that he would know that she was his for all of Time.

The flames raged, a cauldron of reds and yellows, blues and last, whites. The ground beneath them turned molten. A presence she well remembered and knew intruded. With undying love she turned to face it. Pain and agony, fear and hate, malice unrepentant confronted her in the glowing red eyes of the being before her and in that instant the connection between Harry's and Tom's minds became clear. Somehow, on the night Tom had given Harry the lightning bolt scar on his forehead Harry had become a Horcrux to his would be murderer.

Ginny's heart surged with everything she felt for Harry; compassion and desire, longing and need, the will to give herself away blazed in her eyes. She struck viciously, "Feel what I feel." He shrieked horrifically and lunged at her. His hands closed on her neck and instantly turned to ash. "It's time for you to go, Tom," she said. A pristine spire of white flame enveloped him and in seconds he fell away to nothing. Her attention was pulled back to Harry by the sense of something else familiar. Something astonishing and awe inspiring something she only ever felt when in his arms.

"Feel what I feel," his voice invited. Ginny gasped and even as she wondered that she could possibly be responsible for this in him, she rejoiced in it. Tears of utter joy streamed down her cheeks as she reached for him again and found his cheek warm and alive under her fingers.

"Feel what I feel," she invited in return. He bent to her, their lips joining in reverence.

Fawkes' voice came to her again. "To destroy that which should never have been, the vessels must be remade. This I have done. Where none remains, Time must be given. This she does. Still, Death must have his. This, I do; my eternal life for his mortal one."

Ginny's heart stilled. "Father?"

"Be glad for me, my daughter. I go to my mate who long ago made a similar choice for another of our children. This ever was and ever will be the way of the phoenix."

"Will I ever see you again?"

"Every time you look on him, my daughter."

"I understand."

"It is done."

No sooner had Fawkes' last words formed in her mind than Ginny found herself on her hands and knees. She couldn't describe how she felt. She wasn't exhausted from two weeks of exams, and a month of worry over Harry. She certainly didn't hurt like her body had before whatever she had just gone through occurred and most certainly her ankle was no longer broken from Narcissa's first spell. She felt …

New.

Refreshed in a way she hadn't since before her first encounter with Tom Riddle's diary. And she felt something else, a pull; a tug in her chest that insisted she move towards it.

Carrying Harry's voice the soft tones of Phoenix song settled in her mind. "Gin?"

Ginny raised her head to see Harry kneeling in front of her. "H-Harry?"

He blinked. "D-Did you just speak in my mind in Phoenix Song?"

"I-I was go-going to ask you the same thing."

He cocked his head slightly and the pull in her chest surged with sorrow. She looked down under his gaze. It was only a moment before she felt his fingers on her chin raising her eyes back to his. In them she felt wonder and love, awe and …Pain, so very much pain. But also acceptance for what she had sacrificed. "You will never, ever, ever again tell me something is too much when I present you with a gift."

"You're not angry with me?"

"How can I be angry with you when I would have done the same thing?"

"A life without you–" she began.

"–isn't worth living," Harry finished

"No," she said.

"Thank you, Ginevra." He leaned in and reverently ghosted his lips against hers. "Thank you for trusting me with a second chance to love you." He pulled back and gently wiped the tears from her cheeks. They stared at each other in silence for a moment before she tipped her head, changing the angle at which she saw him.

"Your eyes!" they said at once. Both cocked their head the other direction.

"Brown?" Harry asked.

"Green?" she asked.

"One of each?"

"Yes."

They both quickly looked the other up and down to see what else might have changed and were jolted into actually speaking aloud. "HOLY HELL!" they exclaimed.

Harry's eyes snapped closed. "DOBBY!" he bellowed.

"You will find him unable to answer," " a female voice trilled in their minds.

"Cloaks lie beside you," a male voice added.

Keeping their eyes averted from each other Harry and Ginny looked up to find two phoenixes perched on a low branch before them. One, probably twice the size of Fawkes, golden in color with silver eyes, the other about half the size of the first, silver in color with eyes of gold. "Mother," Ginny said.

"Father," Harry trilled at the same time.

"Yes, some things you just know," the Silver spoke. "Others we will try to answer. What remains you must learn on your own."

"For now, clothe yourselves if that is your desire," the Gold spoke. Harry very quickly turned and grabbed the cloaks, handing one to Ginny. "Risen from the dead all of two minutes and all I want to do is die of embarrassment," he muttered as he wrapped the cloak over his shoulders. "Ruddy great turkey."

Ginny couldn't help giggling. "Not how I imagined first getting you naked."

"Tell me about it."

"You need not fear that others have seen you," the Silver said drawing their attention back to her and her mate.

"Well that's a relief," Ginny sighed. She glanced around, taking in their surroundings of a small wooded glen. "Erm, where are we exactly?"

"You are where you were and you are here," the Gold said.

"Worry not. You will soon return to where you are and have not left," the Silver said.

Harry shook his head painfully. "How is it that made no sense at all but at the same time made perfect sense?"

"Because we're outside of time and place, Harry," Ginny answered.

"Very good, my daughter," the Silver said.

Harry rolled his eyes. "Bugger all, woman, is there anything you don't know?"

"How familiar I am with that question, my son," the Gold laughed.

"But to the matter at hand," the Silver said. "Even here time is short and we must answer much."

"Yes, my mate," the Gold agreed. The two phoenixes studied them for some time before speaking again.

"Can you transform, child?" the Silver asked.

"Transform?" Ginny asked.

"Your true form, can you assume it?"

Ginny frowned, but then something seemed to click and an image came into her mind. "Oh, right, duh." Feeling like she should know, like she should be able to do what was being asked, Ginny concentrated. After a minute she felt what could only be described as an inferno somewhere within her middle. It pulled at her and she let herself be drawn into it.

"ARRGH!" Harry screamed.

"What!" Ginny cried, turning to him. The Gold spread his wings and the flames consuming the cloaks they had donned died. "Oops," Ginny said.

"Oops!" Harry exclaimed, frantically examining himself. "You nearly incinerate me and all you can say is 'Oops.'?"

"You hardly look incinerated to me," she retorted.

"Only the Flame you call Fiendfyre can bring harm to you now, child." The Gold soothed. "Fight it if you must, only know engaging it in battle may kill you. But from all other Flame you have nothing to fear."

"But until you learn control, the Flame will burn anything within its reach when you call upon it," the Silver said. "There are more cloaks if you desire."

"In time you will learn this control. For now we will prevent the burning of your clothing," the Gold said.

Harry stopped his self-examination. "You couldn't have told us that before?" he muttered. He grabbed another cloak and covered himself before returning his attention to the two phoenixes and Ginny. "Whoa," he breathed.

"What?" Ginny asked. A mirror appeared behind her and Harry pointed to it.

Ginny turned. Staring back at her, one eye of emerald green the other of chocolate brown, was a bird with feathers red as fire. She tipped her head, considering, before spreading her wings. Small flames danced along her feathers but spread no further.

"And you, my son?" the Gold asked.

"Me?" Harry asked.

"Who else might you think?"

Harry very nearly asked the phoenix if he'd like to be stuffed before he was cooked, but thought better of it. He instead furrowed his brow and concentrated for a minute. Like Ginny, know that he was being asked, he felt like he should know, like he should be able to transform, but eventually was forced to admit defeat. "If I can, I don't know how."

"Teach him," the Silver instructed.

Ginny turned to Harry. "I felt like I knew how and just followed it," she said.

"I know," Harry agreed. "I feel like I should be able to but something is stopping me."

"Curious," the two phoenixes said.

"And you child?" the Silver continued. "Can you follow the path back?"

Ginny closed her eyes and focused on the idea of taking human form once more. Again she felt she should know, but where before it had been simple, the most natural thing in the world to let the inferno pull her in, now it was hard; almost frightening. She forced the feeling aside and pressed on, cringing when the ascending pillar of flame enveloped her and she grew to her human form. She gave a small shudder. Don't like that at all."

"You will overcome your fears," the Silver said.

"And now, you child?" the Gold asked. Harry focused again and before long felt himself drawn into the inferno where he transformed to his phoenix form in a descending pillar of flame. "Whoa," Ginny gasped.

"What?" Harry asked.

"You're beautiful," she answered. She pointed to the mirror. "Look."

Harry turned. Staring back at him, one eye of emerald green the other of chocolate brown, was a bird with feathers black as obsidian. He tipped his head, and spread his wings. Like Ginny small flames danced along his feathers but spread no further.

"Can you join him, child?" the Silver asked.

Ginny focused on trying to change but very quickly found she couldn't. She shook her head. "Something's blocking me."

"And you, my son?"

"Don't be frightened," Ginny encouraged.

"Right," Harry said. He took a deep breath and delved into the path he'd followed to become a phoenix, trying to follow it back. Just like Ginny, he found it much more difficult to do so but forced aside the fears that came and in an ascending pillar of flames took human form again. "I agree, that isn't pleasant," he said.

"Not at all," Ginny added.

"And both of you," the two said.

Almost before Harry could think it Ginny had transformed and he found his way blocked. He shook his head. "I felt like I started, but then couldn't."

"It is as we feared," the Gold said.

"Yes," the Silver agreed.

"What?" Harry and Ginny asked as she retook human form.

Two lines of flame, one green, one red formed in the air. Beside them, the symbol of eternity burned white. The line of red flame moved into the eternity flame, entwining itself within a small segment of the endless symbol. Then the green flame moved. It attached itself to one end of the red flame and also became one with the silver. The green flame then began traveling back and forth along the length of the red, at times being on one end or the other and others in the middle with red on either side of it.

"Always, eternity was hers to claim. Always her true form was that of the phoenix. His only became so when the Strands were bonded. Death was paid for a mortal life and mortal both can be. But as Death was not paid for both to claim eternity, immortal form, where death is not death but is instead birth, is allowed to only one. Beware this form as death and rebirth will seal what the Fates have woven for longer than our son, whom you called Fawkes, waited to rejoin his mate."

Harry and Ginny both considered what they'd been told in silence for some time before he eventually asked, "Does that mean what I think it does?"

"Were you thinking, that we can both be human but only one of us at a time is allowed to take our phoenix form, that if we die while in human form we really kick it, but if one of us bites it in our phoenix form we'll reborn as a phoenix, never be able to take human form again, and wait longer to be reunited with each other than Fawkes did to be reunited with his mate?"

Harry nodded. "Any idea how old Fawkes was?"

"Our son lived near four thousand human years apart from his mate," the Silver said.

Ginny shuddered. Harry pulled her to him, and she tucked her head under his chin. "I just gave you have my life because a single day without you would be hell," she trilled softly.

Harry kissed the top of her head. "I know," he soothed. The two phoenixes let them be for a few minutes before drawing their attention again.

"Sit, children," the Gold said. Very quickly they did, Ginny in front while Harry wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her against his chest.

"You fear the transformation from phoenix to human because you step through the doorway to death when you do," the Gold said.

"It is natural for life to fear death," the Silver said.

"But you have already learned there is worse in life than death," the Gold said. "Remember this and it will be easier."

"We have already told you only the Flame called Fiendfyre can harm you, but even this you can tame if your will is enough." the Silver said.

"But without control the use of Flame risks burning that which you would rather not," the Gold said. "You will learn control."

"When you can transform without burning your clothing–" the Silver said.

"–it will be safe for you to use Flame in any manner you choose."

"How?" Ginny asked.

"You will find the answer," the Gold said.

"I have a feeling I'm going to go through more than one wardrobe this summer," Harry sighed.

"Sounds like an interesting summer," Ginny giggled.

"And I'm supposed to learn three years of Ancient Runes and Arithmancy in two months and I have to make up my O.W.L.s."

Ginny patted his hand. "One step at a time, Harry."

"There is one more thing before you return to where you yet remain," the phoenixes said together.

The two teens focused on them again. "Yes?" they asked.

"If both are in mortal form and one should die, the second will follow within moments," the Gold said.

"But Fawkes said—" Ginny started to protest.

"Love and Trust, children," the Silver spoke over her. "Fawkes bound Time. You bound your souls. Can you not feel it?"

Harry and Ginny were silent for a few moments as they tried to examine what they felt. "I don't really feel anything but happiness right now," Harry said.

"Me either," Ginny agreed.

"Let go of each other," the Silver said.

"Move to opposite sides of the glen," the Gold said.

Harry and Ginny had no more than separated when something changed. They moved to opposite sides of the glen and grinned. "Pulling?" he asked.

Ginny moved back to him and the feeling faded away as his arms went around her again. "Yes," she said.

"You are mated," the Gold said.

"Soul-bound for eternity," the Silver said.

"Listen to your Bond," the Gold said.

"No harm can come of feeding it," the Silver said.

"Learn who and what you now are," the Gold said.

"We know you fear to be left by the other. Neither need claim eternity but you cannot deny what you are either," the Silver said.

"Our time with you draws to an end," the Gold said. "When we will speak again we do not know."

"Wait!" Ginny cried.

"Hurry," the Silver urged.

"What did you mean my true form was always that of the phoenix?"

"The phoenix is born mortal and must find its true form to claim eternity. Few are born. Fewer still find the form. Even fewer claim eternity."

"Well who would want it?" Ginny asked.

"Tom," Harry said quietly.

"He wants what you hold," the Gold said.

"It is to be feared, but not," the Silver said.

"The Flame cannot abide one such as him," the Gold said. "There is a reason one became a Horcrux while the other did not."

"Now both are protected," the Silver said.

"The Phoenix is a warrior of the Light," the Gold said. He leapt from his perch and his mate followed.

"Its weapons are Love and Flame," the Silver called as they rose higher.

"They are all that you require," the Gold called and then they were gone.

Harry and Ginny pushed themselves from the floor, an avalanche of ash falling from them as they did. "Nice of them to leave us the cloaks," Harry said.

"I kind of liked what I saw," Ginny countered.

"Nooooo!" an anguished voice wailed.

"MUM!" Harry and Ginny cried, surging to their feet. One look was all they needed.

"Hermione," Ginny said as she rushed to her mum and Charlie.

"Got her," Harry said, moving to his 'sister' and her parents.

END


HPHPHP


Author's note:

Conclusion: Well, hopefully it's safe to come out of my bunker. This concludes Book 1 of the Children of The Flame Saga. Book 2, Blessed Summer of Horrors, will begin posting in a day or two.

As always, thank you to all my readers and a special thank you to those who reviewed. You make my day. And there are a few reviewers who hit me every chapter. That was really cool. Thanks loads guys.

And with that, "On to the sequel!"

Sorcerer's Muse