FREEING THE SOUL
Harry opened his eyes, seeing only the dreamscape spread out before him. The blackness was nearly overwhelming, causing the raven-haired teen to choke on the fear and the smell of human blood. He covered his mouth and nose, trying to breathe as he scanned the darkness for any sign of life.
"Exile!" His voice rang out harshly through the void. "Where are you??!"
Harry reached for his wand, grasping nothing. His wand was gone. Hissing in frustration, the Gryffindor started running in the immense darkness that threatened to swallow the faint light that surrounded his body.
"Exile!" A single white feather, glowing softly, drifted into his view. Harry reached for the feather, and the instant he touched it, the single, solitary feather burst into flames, revealing a lone figure that Harry recognized immediately. It was Ron. The Seer smiled.
"Harry. You need some serious help, mate, and I am now here to give your power to you. You can't save your Soul Mate, you can't save Tom unless you the power to do so. All you need is to release it, and that's where I come in." He grinned at Harry's confusion.
"I will sacrifice my Sight, to give you the gift of Flight." Ron removed a knife from within his robes and without warning, he slashed at his eyes. He didn't utter a sound as the blood flowed down his face. Harry stared in horror.
"What the hell did you just do, Ron?"
"Now," The redhead said, circling Harry to stand behind him, staining his hands with his own blood. "I give you the gift of Flight." He placed both hands on Harry's shoulders, sparking such an intense pain in Harry as large white wings ripped their way through the flesh, shedding blood as Harry cried out. His new wings, stained red by his own blood, fluttered and flexed, and Harry winced from the pain.
Then the white-hot hurt was gone, and the Boy Who Lived straightened. He could feel the new muscles of his wings, continuously moving beneath the skin. Slowly, breathing heavily, Harry turned back to his best friend, acutely aware of the fresh blood that flowed quite freely from his ruined eyes, trickling down his freckled features.
The redhead shook his head. "No. Harry, just find Riddle before he dies. Just go find your Soul Mate. He needs you terribly." He smiled slightly, sadly. "I'll be fine. I can still see, but just differently now. You know, my sacrifice was one of my first Visions, so I've had time to accept it. But time is of the essence, and is quickly running out, so go and do your hero thing, just like you always do."
"But what will you do?"
Ron shrugged. "I'll wake up from this nightmare. But you have to go now; you have more important things to think about. I'll be fine, but Tom won't be soon."
Harry nodded and, stumbling slightly, he ran off into the darkness, leaping into the void before him, leaving his best friend behind as he flew towards the inevitable battle.
No answer. He shook his head angrily, and raged at the sound of a sudden scream in the distance.
"Exile! I'm coming!"
He picked up speed as he flew, screaming Exile's name, and cringing at the horrible screaming that just wouldn't stop now. He desperately hoped that the nameless guide would be all right. And while Harry knew that Tom Riddle was his Soul Mate; he had come to care deeply for Exile as well. He had to save both.
"Exile! Tom! I'm coming!! Just hold on!!!" Was it just him, or was the void brightening? Was that eerie light in the distance coming from the demon he knew was somewhere in the dreamscape? Desperate, he flew faster, drawing ever closer to a pillar of light.
A menacing laughter reached his ears, followed by a ragged scream that nearly broke him then and there. There was almost no strength in that scream, nothing left behind the scream, and something within him snapped. His white wings turned midnight black, and his eyes started to glow in the darkness of the dreamscape, a fierce green, the color of the Killing Curse.
"Where are you, demon?! Come out and fight me!!" He raged and swooped down into the pillar of light, which revealed Exile, struggling to stand, and failing miserably, rich dark blood flowing freely from wounds on his back and chest, and from gashes on his arms. But standing over the fallen young wizard was, undoubtedly, the Demon Voldemort, black bat wings unfolded and shadowed, crimson eyes glowing in a human face, shrouded by long black hair, matted with his victim's blood. Human in build, the demon grinned, baring his fangs, slowly licking the blood clean from his wickedly sharp-looking claws, a whip-like jagged tail of what looked like bone playfully coiled around Exile's neck. He laughed as he caught sight of Harry, a fury's rage glowing in his emerald eyes.
"You're the one, then?" The demon asked, knowing the answer already.
"Get away from him!"
"Why? He's been mine for more than fifty years, boy!"
"Get away... NOW!!!" Harry roared and lunged, decking the demon sharply with his right fist, throwing the demon away. Voldemort fell away from Exile with a grunt.
Harry dropped to his knees beside his fallen guide, holding Exile in his arms, close to his chest. He passed a hand over the open wounds, his innate magic healing the broken body he held firmly in his grasp. Exile hissed at the pain, cursing softly in the serpent tongue. Harry paused, startled.
For the first time, he looked into the light, showing Harry his face. He smiled crookedly at Harry's incredulous look, blinking haunted, serpentine eyes. Crimson eyes. He reached up, his bruised fingers lightly caressing Harry's cheek.
"There's only been one person, Harry, and I think you know who I am," Tom Riddle spoke softly, his voice strained from his previous screams. "I knew you'd come... but you almost didn't make it."
"Shh, it's all right now. I'm here. I love you, you know that, right?"
Tom smiled at Harry's words. "Yes, I do."
"Aww, how touching. Pity neither of you will live for much longer," Voldemort stood behind Harry with a menacing grin. He grabbed Harry by his hair, and ripped him away from Tom, tossing him out of the pillar of light. He then kicked Tom in the gut, the jagged claws on his feet digging viciously into the vulnerable flesh. The fallen wizard cried out raggedly, struggling futilely as Voldemort produced manacles, clamping them onto Tom's wrists.
The demon paused, as from the darkness, emerald fire burned, as Harry reached within himself, searching for his innate magic, to the very core of his magical center. He closed his eyes, green fire leaking out like tears, as a weapon formed in his mind's eye.
A burning sword, burning green with his magic, shaped itself in his mind, and within the dreamscape, slender and sleek, curving slightly. Then it shattered into pieces of equal size, connected, but creating an edged whip that distended itself.
The shaft of light around Tom and the demon grew until there was sufficient space. Harry remained on the perimeter of the soon-to-be battlefield, and he grinned.
"You know what, Voldie? You've gone and woken up my own demon, and he's not happy with you at all. And now you have no where to run." Harry's magic had become so active within him that it was changing him. His pupils slitted in the brilliant emerald orbs, and his voice hissed like a snake. His incisors lengthened, becoming small fangs. Muscles rippled beneath his skin like those of a large predator cat, and his nailed grew and sharpened into claws.
The demon paused before dragging Tom in front of him, ignoring the ragged cry of pain as he used the injured wizard as a shield.
"He's been mine for more than fifty years and no kid like you is going to take away what's mine!"
"You talk big, but you're hiding behind a beaten wizard, not that it'll do you any good." Harry glanced at Tom, and focused his rage on Voldemort. "Come and fight me!"
But the demon suddenly smiled, a small, dangerous smile. He slid his hands up Tom's body, ignoring the wizard's disgusted shuddering, until they cradled his head, claws digging into the soft flesh, causing a little of Tom's blood to flow. Harry immediately knew what was about to happen, and so did Tom. His crimson eyes were wide in sudden terror, knowing he was literally seconds away from death. Then, Tom realized that if he died that very second, the last thing he would see would be Harry, and his death would be painless with just one snap of his neck. He smiled, and looking at Harry one last time, he closed his eyes, waiting for death.
He heard a whirl of metal on metal, striking flesh, and heard a sudden cry of furious pain from directly behind him. Voldemort's hands fell away from him, and he rapidly scrambled away from the powerful demon, glancing around quickly.
Harry had struck out against the demon with his sword, shredding Voldemort's arm. With a flick of Harry's wrist, the sword pulled itself back together and he charged, putting himself Tom and Voldemort. Tom scrambled away from the pair, going as far as he could while still shackled.
With a snarl, Harry sliced through the chains, the screech of metal ringing through the air. By this time, Voldemort was armed as well, a wicked blade in hand. The two fought recklessly, fiercely, fearlessly, at least on Harry's end, driving each other back and forth across the dreamscape. Tom could only watch.
Voldemort tried to cheat, of course, and often in this fierce battle of the titans, this contest of life and death, striking low and hard, using his bone-whip tail like that of a scorpion, flashing over his shoulders, striking at Harry's face.
Tearing his eyes away from the battle, Tom focused his attention on the manacles still attached to his wrist. He yanked the trailing chain closer to him, sinking to his knees at the edge of the battlefield, hopefully out of the way of the fighting.
Focusing what was left of his magical energy, he conjured up a small knife to try and pick the shackles. He forced the tip of the blade between the sealed ends of the cuffs, twisting the blade around to try and force it open.
A startled shout broke his concentration, and he looked up, almost unaware of the sharp pain of the knife slicing neatly through the skin of his wrist.
The rest of the Potions classes that day had been cancelled, mostly because Severus had barred any student from passing through his doors, snarling at any who approached before returning to his office, where one Gryffindor, his enemy's son, slept the sleep of the dead, and another Gryffindor, a familiar red-headed Weasley, was awake beside his sleeping friend, but unexpectedly bloodied, and blind.
This, however, did not stop Albus Dumbledore from gaining access to the Potions lab, and engaging in a verbal battle with the Potions Master over his unexpected actions. Surprisingly, the Headmaster displayed little concern over the two Gryffindors, especially his precious Boy Who Lived.
"Severus, what you have done is inexcusable! You know you cannot cancel any classes without a specifically valid reason, which you do not have! And to involve Potter and Weasley? They have been in far too much trouble as it is, not to mention missing classes!" Dumbledore did not have his usual twinkle in his eyes as he regarded Severus angrily.
Severus saw red. "A valid reason, you say? Those two Gryffindors are currently saving someone's life! That is not a valid reason? The Weasley boy has already done his part, and is now blind for it! Potter is doing what he does best, saving people, and if I can help with that, then I will, regardless of what you say!"
Dumbledore was silent for a moment. "Who is he trying to save?" The question was soft, quiet. To Severus, it was dangerous.
"That is none of your concern, Albus. This is personal for Potter, but I believe that this will win the war for good." He said, smirking. "The Deatheaters may be a bit of a problem, but that's easy. You will leave them alone, Albus, or Potter will hate you and hide away from the world, or he will hate you and come after you. Either way, he will hate you."
Dumbledore snorted and pushed past Severus, storming into the Potions Master's office. He was surprised to see Ron standing between him and Harry. His face was covered in blood that refused to be washed away, still wet, from the gashes across his eyes. Severus had bandaged his eyes, the blood seeping into the material. Nonetheless, he stared at Dumbledore angrily, the eerie unseeing stare causing Dumbledore to pause.
"You stay away from him," the redhead's voice was deadly. "I've Seen it, I've Seen everything, Seen it all. You are the cause of what's happening. It's all your fault; you made him susceptible to the demon, and now Harry is struggling, because you hurt his Soul Mate. You stay away."
"Mr. Weasley, what in Merlin's name are you talking about?"
Ron laughed, maniacally, sending shivers down Severus' spine. "I will not endanger my best friend and his Soul Mate, but I will tell you this; years ago, you refused to give one student a chance, and he suffered for it, just because he was powerful at quite a young age. That made him extremely vulnerable to a powerful demon, one that we all know and hate."
Ron grinned, a vicious, violent leer. "I can See right through you. I may be blind, sacrificing my Sight to give Harry the gift of flight, but I can still See, differently now. If you even try to come between them, then I will make sure that you live to regret it. Now get out."
Dumbledore was absolutely outraged. "Now see here, Mr. Weasley-!"
"No. I can't see. Get out before you cause Harry and Exile to lose their lives."
"Albus," The Headmaster turned to glare at Severus, who returned the cold look with one of his famous glares. "It is best that you leave. Immediately."
Dumbledore stormed from the office, and out of the dungeons without another word, fuming silently. Severus closed and sealed the door to his classroom, and his office, returning to the interior of the room. Ron collapsed into a chair and sighed.
"Oh, Harry, hurry up," he whispered before falling asleep. Severus watched the redhead as he slept for a short while before turning his attention and gaze to Harry. The teen now had wings, black wings, and a bruise was rapidly forming on his jaw as he tossed and turned in his sleep. Then a cut appeared across his cheek, and a trickle of blood escaped from the corner of his mouth.
What was happening? Severus gave a sigh, and started going through his inventory of different potions that were going to be needed the moment the boy woke up, rooting out his medical supply. A small whimper came from the Boy Who Lived, his hands and clothes suddenly heavily stained with blood. Severus removed the teen's shirt to investigate and discovered a gaping wound in the boy's abdomen. He could only wonder in futility as to what was happening in the dreamscape of Tom and Harry's minds. Slowly, with deliberate care, the Potions Master started cleaning and healing the most dangerous of Harry's current injuries.
Harry let out a startled yelp as Voldemort's bone-whip tail scored his cheek, drawing blood from a neat cut. He struck out, driving the demon back, glancing behind to find Tom.
His blood turned to ice as he locked gazes with the other wizard, seeing how pale the other was, white as a sheet, a knife on the ground in front of him, blood pooling around the knife as it dripped from a slash on his wrist. Harry took it all in as time seemed to stop. Tom was on his knees, his slashed wrist held out, reaching for him, tears blurring those crimson eyes. A broken manacle also lay in the pooling blood.
"Oh, no," was all that left Harry's lips.
A sudden jolt of white-hot pain snapped time back up to speed, and looking down, Harry whimpered at the sight of Voldemort's blade extending out from his stomach. The demon yanked the weapon free, sending Harry to his knees.
Harry shook his head, still staring at Tom, who had lost his strength and had fallen, slumped on his side. Tears blinding him, Harry pushed himself forward, his wings moving awkwardly, giving him the momentum to reach the broke wizard.
"Tom..." He gathered his Soul Mate in his arms and held him, holding him close.
"I'm sorry," His voice was faint, weak. "I just wanted to be free... no more chains."
"I know," Harry felt his own strength ebbing. "I know."
Harry's eyes hardened. "Not yet. Where's your wand?"
Silently, Tom gave Harry his wand, his question apparent in his fading crimson eyes. Harry took the wand and he called out, his voice ragged and weak. "Fawkes!"
Both wands lit up brilliantly, the two phoenix feather cores calling for its parent. A burst of flame above them, and Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, let out a peaceful trill, immediately soothing the two wizards' anxiety. The fiery bird circled them both once before touching down at their side.
"A phoenix?! No bloody way in hell is a damned phoenix going to take away my victory!" Voldemort lunged, attacking with a downward strike, planning on killing Harry. Fawkes turned his head and sang, bringing up a golden shield that Harry recognized immediately.
The phoenix brought his head down to Tom's wrist, and pearly tears leaked out, splashing in and on the cut, closing it up, and healing it. Outside the shield, Voldemort continued to lash out, trying desperately to break through the golden shield, but Fawkes held firm.
When Tom's eyes regained their focus, Fawkes turned his attention to Harry, whose sword had dropped long ago. The phoenix increased his singing, crying his pearly tears onto Harry's stomach, the critical wounds healing rapidly. He also gave tears to the open wound on Harry's back, closing it up. Harry smiled wearily at the fiery bird.
"Thank you, Fawkes." Fawkes nodded and continued singing.
"Where did he come from?" Tom asked quietly, not looking at Harry.
"Tom, it's alright. I know what you were trying to do. Fawkes is actually Dumbledore's familiar, but I think he likes me." Harry grinned and hugged his Soul Mate tightly, holding him to his chest. "We have a battle to win, so let's kick that demon's ass!"
He helped Tom to his feet and removed the other shackle from his wrist, taking in the brilliance of the Slytherin's smile. He gave him his wand back, turning to the phoenix at their feet. "Thank you."
With a sudden outburst of song, Fawkes was gone, and Voldemort nearly fell on his face, unbalanced by the unexpected disappearance of the golden phoenix shield. Harry kept Tom behind him, sword back in his hand, ready and waiting for the bloodshed to begin.
"If you need to, draw your strength from me. Watch my back, all right? Use your magic." He didn't look back for Tom's reply. He kept his eyes on the demon looming before them. His lips curled back in a snarl.
He lunged forward, striking downward, his weapon readily met by Voldemort's blade. A screech of metal on metal was heard as they broke apart, and again as they clashed together. Tom could only watch on in awe and fear. How was Harry matching the demon's moves? Why was he so fast? It didn't make any sense.
He cast these thoughts aside, calling out a shield spell to protect Harry from Voldemort's tail. He conjured a titanium shield, surprising himself with the detail. It was larger than the standard shield, gilded with inlays of gold and silver. The pattern on the face of the shield seemed appropriate as a standard; two dragons twining around a multi-winged sword, the two beasts looking almost... alive.
Harry did not notice the physical shield as he fought viciously against the demon in front of him. He was grateful for Tom's magical shield, and he was relived that Tom's magic was strong again, withstanding the abuse from Voldemort's tail whip.
Angered by this sudden interference, Voldemort let out a raging scream as he put extra strength behind his next blow. This caught Harry off guard and he stumbled back, eyes wide with surprise. The demon grinned and he raised his sword for the finishing strike.
"NO!!!" Tom screamed and leapt forward, putting himself between Harry and Voldemort, raising his shield as he did so. The clang of Voldemort's sword against his shield resonated through the dreamscape harshly, and nearly sent Tom to his knees, and he would have dropped the shield had it not been strapped to his arm.
"I'm alright, Harry. This is what I can do. I'll be your shield man."
"A Valkerie Royal shield... this can't be!" Voldemort raged again, fury blinding him as he hammered down on Tom's shield. Slowly, Tom began to lose under the pressure of his tormentor's heavy blows.
Harry saw this as his once chance. He jumped to his feet and leapt over Tom's head, his onyx wings giving him momentum and height, bringing his sword down on Voldemort's unguarded back in a downward swing. His serrated blade cut through the demon smoothly, like a hot knife through butter.
A sick, wet noise told them that Voldemort was dead as his body slid off from Harry's sword. His tail fell limp as the corpse collapsed to the ground. Breathing heavily from the battle, Harry banished the body from the dreamscape.
Tom fell to his knees, relieved that it was finally over. The nightmare was over, and his demon was gone, forever. He was finally free.
"Tom," he looked up at Harry, who smiled at him. "We should go."
"But what will happen? We won't be together."
"I'll find you. Do you know where your body lies? Professor Snape and I will come and get you." Harry knelt down and hugged his Soul Mate. "I won't let anyone else hurt you."
Tom nodded. "All right. Riddle Manor, I think on the second floor in the library at the back of the house. The Manor's overlooking the small town of Little Hangleton." He smiled, burrowing his face into Harry's shoulder. "I'll wait for you."
With those small words spoken, Harry vanished from the dreamscape, waking up, leaving Tom alone in the darkness for a few moments before he, too, disappeared.
Emerald eyes snapped open, eliciting a sharp intake of breath from someone in an unfamiliar room. A glance at his right showed him Ron, asleep in a comfortable-looking chair, his self-inflicted, sacrificing wounds still bleeding slightly, the blood slowly oozing from his ruined eyes. Far too much blood.
A glance at his left revealed Severus Snape, the man's onyx eyes glistening with... concern? Harry winced and suppressed a groan as he tried to move. This jolted the Potions Master into action.
"Potter, please refrain from moving immediately. You've just come from battle, with fatal results. I don't know how that hole in your chest healed over so quickly, but you're lucky it did, as the injury should have killed you." Severus came close, offering a potion while wiping away some blood from the Gryffindor's face. Harry smiled as he accepted the healing draught.
"Professor, you're rambling."
"Hmm, so I am. Where, may I ask, is Riddle, and how is he?"
"Voldemort's gone. I cut him in half. Tom was my shield man, in the end, although there were several close calls where he could have won; in fact, he nearly did." Severus' potion eased all the aches and pains that Fawkes had missed while saving their lives. "Do you know where Little Hangleton is?"
Severus blinked at the sudden change in topic. "Actually, yes. Good Potions ingredients in the forested areas. Why?" The Potions Master seemed surprised at his question.
Harry smirked. "Riddle Manor overlooks Little Hangleton. Tom's waiting for me there. Riddle Manor was Voldemort's home base for his Deatheaters. It's where he regained his body during the Tri-Wizard."
"Than we get to Little Hangleton quickly and before Dumbledore can stop you from leaving the castle. He is quite angry."
Harry gave a dry chuckle, rolling his eyes. "I don't doubt it. He's the cause for Tom's demon. He took away Tom's hope as a child, and did his best to drive him to bitterness and hate. It made Tom very vulnerable, especially when Tom grew up thinking that he was an evil, abnormal freak for his gifts. Dumbledore defeated Grindewald and he tried to create Voldemort for the same purpose that he destroyed the previous Dark Lord: power."
Severus paused to think over Harry's words as they sunk in. "that actually makes sense. Years ago, I did research, in secret, on previous Dark Lords to try and find a way to get rid of the current Lord. I looked into Grindewald's past, and his childhood was actually similar to both Tom's past, and your own."
Harry's brows nearly disappeared into his hairline before furrowing into a frown. "Really?" He stood up, stretching out his abused body. "That's interesting. But if that's the case, then why am I not being constructed into the next Dark Lord?"
Severus shrugged, moving off to fetch some clean clothes, as the school robes Harry was currently wearing were torn and bloodied. "Not a clue. By the way, I like the sword, Potter. Never thought you had it in you to create such a fine weapon."
Harry looked down, realizing quickly that he held in his hand the sword he had used to slay the demon. Now that he wasn't fighting for his life, he actually noticed the detail on the blade. The blade itself was smooth, the edge keen and sharp. The seams that broke the weapon into its whip-like state were nearly invisible, and only a keen eye could catch it. There were a few runes etched into the blade, written in Parsel, faintly glowing a bright AK green.
"I created this sword in the dreamscape. I used it to skewer the demon Voldemort. Sir, how often do you visit Little Hangleton?"
The Potions Master handed him some clean clothes. "I visit the town on occasion, usually for valuable Potions ingredients a few times a year. I always knew the Manor overlooking the town was abandoned, something to do with the previous owners being murdered, but I never made the connection."
Harry discarded his school robes, not really caring about modesty at the present moment. He blinked in mild surprise that Severus had provided him with muggle clothes. "Not surprising. Who would think that the 'great' Dark Lord Voldemort would hide out so close to the very beings he wished to destroy?"
"Dumbledore might have known."
"Very true. However, since it was prophesized that I was the only one able to defeat the Dark Lord, he kept quiet. Maybe that's why he wasn't constructing me into the next Dark Lord."
Severus was busying himself by gathering a variety of healing potions and draughts, packing them securely into a carry bag. "I wouldn't past him, not after his recent behavior. What about Mr. Weasley? Do you think it would be wise to leave him here?"
Harry shook his head. "His Sight could help us. Professor, thank you, for everything."
Severus shook his head. "Not at all. The Dark Lord was growing more erratic; Tom was clearing losing and it was starting to show. After a certain point, it was even too dangerous to even breathe too loudly. An uprising within the Deatheater ranks is just waiting to happen, waiting for the right time."
Harry frowned at this revelation. "A time like now. We need to get to Riddle Manor as soon as possible. I'll wake up Ron, you get what you need. Tom's still hurt, and in his weakened state, he will be vulnerable. I know that Wormtail is a constant guest at the Manor, as are Bellatrix and the other Azkaban escapees. We may have a fight on our hands."
Severus hurried to his potions stores, tucking a variety of different potions into the numerous protected pockets of his robes. "If we are expecting a fight, then we may need some help, and I believe our best shot at receiving any aid would be from some of the students."
Harry nodded, kneeling down beside the chair his best friend was slumped in, asleep. "Yes, but who? Ron, wake up. I need your help again saving Tom; it's another insane rescue mission, mate."
Ron shifted, gradually waking up. Harry noticed absently that the redhead's eyes had finally stopped bleeding. "You mean you haven't saved the bugger yet? I don't need to sacrifice anything else, do I?" Ron sat up, still a little groggy from his nap. "Harry, mate, you're going to ruin your track record."
"Well, you know me; I somehow feel the need to complicate everything I get involved in." Severus scoffed at Harry's flippant remark, drawing a lopsided grin from the redhead. "You feeling up to a rescue mission at Riddle Manor? We're expecting a fight either leaving the Manor with Tom or before we can reach my Soul Mate."
Ron sighed with exasperation, standing up and stretching sore muscles. His spine cracked a few times, a series of loud pops. "Well, I've come this far, haven't I? I can See well enough with my Sight, kind of."
"Good." Both teens turned in Severus' direction as the Potions Master spoke up, moving closer to them with fresh bandages in hand. "Allow me to change those bandages again and we will be on our way."
Harry nodded, stepping away from Ron to give the Potions Master room to work. "We don't have much time to get to the Manor, and certainly not enough time to gather any of our respective allies, so Ron, if you could pinpoint, with your Sight, those from the students who would be best suited to help us on this rescue mission, I would be very grateful."
Ron nodded. "Sure. I can't see the way you can anymore, but it looks like I can See the different patterns of magic almost. I think I can pinpoint the specific patterns that could help us the most."
"Now that that's settled, let's go. We can bypass the Main Hall and the courtyard, the two places that would offer the most resistance, which we can't afford. It does mean passing through the Slytherin dorms, but my children will not cause problems for us." Severus led them out of his office in the Potions classroom, easily navigating the labyrinth that was the Slytherin dungeons.
Ron moved with surprising ease, with one hand barely tracing the stone wall beside him, ensuring that the gangly redhead at least walked in a straight line.
They encountered no one on their way to the Slytherin common room as they sped through the darkened stone corridors. "How long was I inside the dreamscape?"
"You were dreaming for several hours. It's nearing curfew. Our dear Headmaster is furious about today's events, well, more furious than he already was to begin with. Here we are. Serpent's Pride."
He ushered them quickly into the common room, where most of the Slytherins were located, and all the activity stopped once the other students recognized their unexpected guests. Draco Malfoy rose from his place near the large fireplace and approached his Head of House, eyes narrowed with caution.
"Severus, what is going on?" he asked, glancing at his professor.
"Is everyone here?"
"Some of the more studious ones are still in the library. Several of the younger years are in their dorms. What is happening?"
"We have little time, Draco. Weasley, are our allies here?"
All attention then focused on Ron, and there were several reactions once they realized he was blind, and still bleeding, although the bleeding had slowed. He moved forward, almost silently, and touching his bloodied bandages, he quickly marked Draco with his blood, from the corner of his left eye down his cheek.
"Draco Malfoy, you have the Power of Change and your soul is pure. Come with us, and help us save a tortured soul." Draco seemed unable to move as Ron spoke softly. The Gryffindor's blood dried quickly on his skin.
He moved through the assembled Slytherins, almost swaying, and he paused in front of Millicent Bulstrode, bringing a bloodied finger across the bridge of her nose. "Millicent Bulstrode, you have the Power to Heal, and your gift is strong. Come with us and help us heal broken bonds and a broken soul."
He moved again through his fellow students, stopping in front of Blaise Zambini, swiping his blood across his brow in one smooth motion. "Blaise Zambini, you have the Power of Creation, a gift that you are neglecting. Come with us and create the walls that will protect a vulnerable soul."
Ron returned to Harry's side, his blind eyes seeking out the Potions Master, nodding. "This is everyone within range."
"Good. You three will come with us. The rest of you, not a word to anyone about this, not even to the Headmaster. He is against this, and he is also the cause of this situation. A Slytherin is dying out there, so remember; Serpents always look after our own."
"Are we leaving the castle through the tunnels?" Draco asked quietly.
"Yes. Follow me."
The Potions Master led the motley group towards the back of the Slytherin dorms, pressing a palm down on a certain stone, revealing a hidden door. The corridor was dark, with years of dust on the stone floor. "This secret passage is only known to the Slytherins, and only those the castle feels worthy enough can walk through it. She will not hinder us."
"Time is running shorter by the second; we must hurry." Ron reminded them of their limited timeframe and the group set a quick pace through the corridor, going deeper and further away from the rest of the castle until they were only traveling through a tunnel.
Draco caught up with Harry, moving close to his side, glancing at his wings and the sword apprehensively. "What happened to you? And Weasley?"
"He sacrificed his sight to give me the gift of flight, in the dreamscape where this all started. The sword is my own creation, and I used it to destroy the demon possessing Tom Riddle; we know him as Voldemort. The Powers That Be have made Ron a very Powerful Seer, as I'm sure you could have guessed." Draco nodded, eyeing the redhead ahead of him, keeping pace with Severus in the lead, while Blaise and Millicent brought up the rear. "I have finally defeated my demons and achieved my destiny, but before I, or anyone, can rest, I must save my Soul Mate."
"You're not quite human anymore, are you?" Harry wasn't exactly sure why the Slytherin was being so civil with him, considering their mutual co-existence, but right now, he wasn't about to question it.
"Not really. I've always been different. That was normal for me, no matter how much I hated it, and now, with all that has happened, no, I don't think I'm all that human anymore. The demon did mention something just before I ran him through with this sword. What are Valkeries?" At Harry's unexpected question, Draco nearly stumbled, his footing slipping, and the two Slytherins behind them gasped and swore.
"Valkeries? They're nothing more than legend now, but from what I know of them, which isn't a lot; they are very powerful in every sense of the word. Stronger, faster, smarter than the rest of us. According to the only legend left, Valkeries are the chosen people of magic, and they were the ones who originally taught wizards about magic and how to use it. They were teachers, healers, advisors, and rulers of the ancient civilizations. Then, inexplicably, they vanished." Draco cast him another glance. "The legend also described them as being beautiful beyond belief, and very fair in appearance with pale skin, blond hair and crystal blue eyes. Mostly, the Valkeries were women, with very few men."
Their group was now out of the tunnel and quickly passing through thick trees, on the far side of the Forbidden Forest. Severus did not let up the pace at all, determined to finish with this mess as quickly as possible. No one else spoke, as everyone was listening to Harry and Draco's conversation.
"My Mate managed to produce a shield in the dreamscape during my battle, and he was my shield man. That was when the demon mentioned the Valkeries. In fact, he mentioned that the shield was of the Valkerie Royalty. It provided the distraction I needed to finish him."
Draco chuckled ruefully. "You always create complications, Potter. I may be jumping to conclusions, but it seems to me that you and your Mate have managed the impossible; you have brought back the Valkerie bloodline and you have somehow evolved it. When you received your wings, they were white, initially, weren't they?" He glared, but there was no real heat behind it.
"Guilty as charged. Like I said; I have always been different. Why should that be any different if my Mate and I really are Valkeries?"
"As interesting as this is, we are well past the wards, and beyond anyone's scope." Severus interrupted them, holding out a sheathed katana that he had removed from somewhere within his robes. "I've made this into a Portkey for now, as most of you don't know how to aparate. Grab a hold."
Each of them touched the sword and a second later they felt the pull at their navel as the Portkey did exactly what it was supposed to do.
Once the group recovered from the Portkey, they turned to observe their destination. Riddle Manor stood in all its dark glory atop the hill against the backdrop of the thunderous sky. A few windows were lit, bright with life inside, and shadows could be seen moving rapidly.
Harry could almost feel Tom's presence, actually being this close to his Soul Mate, and he needed to finish this soon. He felt the bond between Tom and himself grow as the magic in the bond tried to draw them together.
"Almost there..." He whispered. He straightened and stood taller, taking in the sight of his allies surrounding him.
The three Slytherins were the most confused, but they stood with him, ready to use the gifts Ron had pointed out with his blood. Millicent stood slightly behind Blaise and Draco, ready to stay of out the way and help those she could with her Healing gifts. Blaise already had his wand, softly casting a variety of protection over the group, building their barriers. Draco conjured up a sword for himself and changed everyone's robes into armor.
Ron and Severus stood close to one another, and the Potions Master almost seemed... protective of the young Seer. His wand was also out and ready, and Severus held a sickeningly dangerous looking dagger, nearly as long as his forearm, and Harry was positive the blade was laden with charms and other spells and potions.
Ron was perfectly at ease, and it shocking for Harry to see his best friend so calm in the face of such a surreal situation. It was like he was holding his emotions at bay and hidden away until a more suitable time, which was completely unlike his usual self. His eyes had ceased bleeding, but the bandages covering them were still blood-covered, a sign of his 'ascension', so to speak. It was weird, and out of character, but at the same time, showing off the redhead's best traits.
Ron had become someone great, and had achieved something that outshone his brothers' accomplishments, and it showed what a powerful and gifted General he was, for that was what Ron Weasley was: a General, a leader of wizards.
And if Harry was reading the signs right, then a certain Potions Master was noticing this change in Ron as well.
He sighed and turned back to face the looming Manor ahead of their odd group, rustling out his black wings and hefting his sword.
He grinned wickedly. "Time for some thrilling heroics."
OK, CHAPTER IS FINALLY DONE... I HAD TO REWRITE SECTIONS OF IT SEVERAL TIMES... VERY ANNOYING. I DO APOLOGISE FOR KEEPING EVERYONE WAITING BUT I HOPE THIS WILL BE SOMEWHAT WORTH THE WAIT. I THANK ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR ETERNAL PATIENCE!!!
REVIEW BUTTON IS JUST IN THE LEFT CORNER... GO ON AND USE IT!