Birth of a Phoenix
A/N; Well this is it for this story and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it even though I don't think I've ever had so many reviewers cursing me for making them cry. It's a very emotional piece and for those that really liked that emotional depth I've got another story similar to this in the works though it's less about the death and more about the aftermath.
Anyway, enjoy the last piece of Birth of a Phoenix.
Chapter 16; Epilogue
Eridanus heard the call from his place with Benjamin, Damien, Acacia and Crisanta. It was his dad calling his name which he'd never done before which meant it had to be bad. He left his four siblings in the den watching a movie as he burst into flames, searching out his father, across the country.
He burst into the air right above a rather one sided battle. There were half a dozen Aurors, including Sirius and his father, pinned down under shields and they were fending off twice the number of Death Eaters, a few Dementors and worst of all Voldemort himself. Eridanus closed his wings and dove down to land behind his father's shield and chirped out his arrival.
"Thank god." James gasped. "He's blocked our port-keys. The civilians are all out but we're pinned down."
Eridanus spread his wings and trilled an agreement. "We can't just run off one at a time." Sirius yelled. Eridanus bounced forwards and jabbed at Sirius' hand and then James'. "Can you take us all at once?" Sirius asked. Eridanus trilled out an agreement.
"Everyone grab hold!" James yelled and with a quick volley of covering fire that sent the Death Eaters back a bit everyone grabbed hold of each other and Eridanus hopped onto his dad's shoulder and transported them all away in flames, aiming for somewhere he knew well enough to not have to worry about his destination. They emerged in Hogwarts' Great Hall and the twelve of them fell down half a foot and then fell all over the floor. Eridanus wobbled and fell over as James landed hard on Sirius but the man managed to catch Eridanus before he could end up under anyone. He righted himself as they all groaned at the sudden drop.
"Sorry, guys. He's still a baby." James called loudly making a few laugh. "He's not quite got height right just yet."
Eridanus trilled angrily. "Actually I think he got it perfect." Sirius complained as he extricated himself from under James. "Just for Ben and Damien." It wasn't Eridanus' fault they'd been crouching down.
"True." James sat up and Eridanus fluttered up onto his shoulder and looked around. "Anyone hurt?"
"Nothing too bad." Someone declared just as the doors burst open and Dumbledore appeared looking worried. They all clambered up as Dumbledore took in the sight of them all.
"James, my boy." Dumbledore called. "What happened?"
"Death Eater raid in Windsor." James explained. "We got outnumbered. We got the civilians out but then got pinned down. Eridanus came to the rescue."
"Still working on that landing then?" Dumbledore teased and got a warning trill from him.
"Everyone up to the Hospital Wing then." James announced and Dumbledore nodded.
"I'll have the kitchens whip up something for you all to eat." Dumbledore happily announced as if Aurors appearing in his school was an everyday event. James got himself checked out and waited for Poppy to check Sirius before turning to Estatrius. Sirius grabbed hold and Estatrius took them both home to his siblings who had been worrying where Eridanus had disappeared to so quickly.
Eridanus settled into Ben's lap and watched in amusement as James suffered under Lily's inspecting. Sirius laughed too and that was like a nail in his coffin as it turned her attention onto him. It was the summer after Ben's sixth year, Damien's fourth and the twins' first year and it had been a much quieter year in the school itself until right at the end. Things in the Wizarding World had seriously kicked off against Voldemort. Most of the public seemed too scared to even go outside and numerous children had been pulled from Hogwarts and kept home. Supposedly that was due to get worse this year after Draco Malfoy had let Death Eaters into the school. Their actual target had been Dumbledore but as soon as they'd attacked the Great Hall Fawkes and Eridanus had gone straight to the Auror Offices at the Ministry and just kept bringing more and more of them into the school to protect the students.
Draco Malfoy himself had tried to attack Ben and had, for a moment, the perfect chance to curse him but hadn't been able to actually take a life. Then Ben had pulled up his core and Draco hadn't lasted more than a few seconds under the overwhelming power. Draco was currently in isolation in an undisclosed muggle prison with a bracelet that prevented him from casting any magic. It was a scheme that had recently been set up after it became obvious that Voldemort could free his people from Azkaban with very little effort.
Ben had been torn. He was still getting training from Dumbledore, James, Remus and Sirius but he still remembered what he'd once said to Dumbledore. That if Harry died he'd have no part in any of this. But in all honesty Voldemort wasn't just going to let him do a runner and he'd target his younger siblings to get to him. So Ben did have to train and he knew he would have to go after Voldemort at some point. Or at least be ready when Voldemort came after him.
A year later
Eridanus flew circles of the battle, trying to keep an eye on everything at once. Or more specifically Damien and Ben. They were on the lawn of the school and it was the middle of their exam period when the wards had come under heavy attack. The final battle was coming and everyone knew it. They couldn't get people out through the wards but Aurors flocked to the school in their hundreds along with parents and anyone capable and willing to stand between the children and the Death Eaters.
He tried to keep an eye on his entire family and it was only possible because James, Ben and Damien were trying so hard to stick together despite all the chaos around them. Sirius and Remus were with them forming a small stationary island in the sea of fighting individuals. Their mother was back near the castle pulling people out of the fight and in to be treated by the healers and the school Professors and the sixth and seventh years were guarding them while the fifth years were responsible for keeping the younger students safe.
Most of the fight seemed to be the Aurors fending off the mass of Death Eaters with the occasion group of parents or good citizens trying to turn the tide. It wasn't until almost a half hour into the fight when Voldemort appeared out of the sea of Death Eaters and engaged James in a duel that was spectacular in its viciousness. In an instant the Auror in James vanished and he became lethal in his desire to take Voldemort down before he could get to his sons. Death Eaters joined the fight to keep Sirius, Remus, Ben and Damien busy but when a spell came at James that he couldn't fend off fast enough Ben joined the duel with a flare of blue light that battered aside Voldemort's spell. Eridanus sunk lower, ready to protect his brothers no matter what and as soon as Voldemort had Ben on the defensive he dove in to distract Voldemort and scored deep lacerations on his wand arm and hand before he was forced to retreat.
Ben steadied himself but didn't see Voldemort's move coming until it was already happening. Voldemort found Ben's biggest weakness and struck hard and fast. His Killing Curse shot out but not at Ben but at Damien who saw the flash out of the corner of his eye. His instant distraction cost him as a laceration curse from the Death Eater he was duelling got through his defences. A deep slice appeared across his chest even as he turned to stare at the Killing Curse barrelling towards him but then flames erupted between him and the curse and it struck the centre of the flames. A flash of green and the flames went out and ash fell to the ground.
"Eri!" Ben cried out even as Sirius caught Damien and Remus sent a vicious spell at the Death Eater that had hurt Damien. Ben turned on Voldemort and blue flames circled him for just an instant as he drew on Eridanus' power even across the gap. The clear shell that always held the flames in check shattered and with a roar the blue flames roared upwards into the sky before flexing and blasting in front of Ben right at Voldemort. The Dark Lord and his Death Eaters threw up shields in a panic but the spells shattered under the onslaught. Screams were heard from the Death Eaters before the flames receded. Bodies lay strewn before Ben like people in front of a cannon firing grape-shot and in pride of place was the half incinerated body of Voldemort.
The entire battle came to a halt in shock but Ben didn't care for any of that as he spun and collapsed by the pile of ash. In two years Eridanus had never had a burning day but to see just a little pile of ash where his beloved Eridanus, his brother, should be was heart-wrenching.
"Ben…" A weak voice called and Ben fell over in his attempt to turn to find Damien. He was being held against his father's chest and he was a horrific sight. His chest was bared and a deep slash ran across it. Ben forgot Eri for a moment as he scrambled across to Damien and grabbed his hands.
"No, Damy." Ben felt tears.
"I'm okay." Damien smiled weakly. "Tired…"
"It looks mostly superficial." Sirius tried to offer but Ben could only stare in horror as his hands shifted to lie over Damien's bloodied chest. He was ignorant of the Aurors rounding up Death Eaters as they tried to flee. He was ignorant of the numerous wounded calling for help or even Remus running to find the nearest available medic. Ben put his hands on Damien's torn chest and dropped his head onto Damien's.
"Promise me." He cried. "Don't leave me too."
"Not going anywhere, Benji." Damien nodded against his forehead. "Eri?"
A little trill erupted from by Ben's side and he twisted his head to see a baby Phoenix hopping haphazardly to Damien's side before with beak and claws he scrambled up onto his stomach and spread his wings. "He's alright." Ben breathed out in relief.
"He saved me." Damien whispered.
"Of course he did." Ben half laughed before looking up as somebody knelt down next to them. It was Madam Pomfrey and their mother was right behind her wringing her hands anxiously. They were attracting a small crowd now even as Aurors checked Voldemort's body. Ben pulled back but took Damien's hands in his own as Pomfrey started working over Damien's chest. "Madam Pomfrey? He'll be alright, won't he?" Ben pleaded.
"It's mostly surface damage." She nodded before looking around quickly. "I'll do what I can and then you'd best head home away from all this chaos." She declared. "Damien needs rest and a lot of it."
"Sirius, Remus?" James asked from where he was still holding Damien up and for a moment Eridanus marvelled at how similar the position was to how Ben had held him for the last time when he was still human.
"What do you need?" Remus offered.
"Check on the girls and take them home?" James asked.
"We'll make a holiday of it." Sirius nodded. "I'll get the girls, Remus can find Tonks and then go get Teddy."
"Teddy can entertain Damien while he's stuck in bed." Ben gave a watery laugh as he clutched his brother's hands. Damien was starting to drift off and Ben gave a sob before he could stop himself.
"It's okay, Ben." James soothed. "He's going to sleep. It's not happening again, Ben. He's going to be fine."
Damien nodded tiredly and squeezed Ben's hands to calm him but Ben was struggling to detach himself from the memory in his mind.
"Right." Pomfrey stood up and pulled a few vials from her pocket and handed them to their mother. "Give him both of these when he wakes up but I'll try to get over to check on him soon."
"Thank you, Poppy." Their mother smiled and then Pomfrey was rushing off in the direction that Sirius and Remus had left in. "James? Can you apparate Damien?"
"Sure." James nodded.
"Ben?" She checked. Ben slowly let go of Damien and with a small pop his father disapparated through the crumbled Hogwarts wards. Ben stood up, scooping baby Eridanus into his hands. He nodded and with a moment's thought he vanished after his father and brother with Eridanus going along for the ride. His mother right on his trail.
"Aunt Acacia and Aunt Crisanta aren't going to make it." Teddy told Joshua Potter quietly as he slipped into the room. His own godson turned to nod at him and he moved to Joshua's father's bedside. Damien turned his head tiredly to look at him. "You're looking better." Teddy told him quietly.
"Hearing still works too." Damien smiled a little. "Can't make it?"
"Auntie Crisanta has pneumonia." Teddy told his 'cousin', even though he always called him Uncle, as he settled down on the edge of the bed. Teddy was in his late fifties but Damien was almost eighty and failing fast. The healer didn't expect him to make it through the night but it would be peaceful. "And Aunt Acacia needs to stay with Uncle Lewie."
"It's okay." Damien nodded a little and turned to look for his son.
"Michelle is with the kids." Joshua explained his wife's absence. Damien hadn't wanted a big crowd for this just like Benjamin hadn't. Damien had spent the night at his big brother's bedside three years ago and Teddy and Joshua had promised to do the same for him. They all had their own lives and families now but Eridanus tied them all together as their everlasting love and warmth.
"Eri?" Damien asked knowing that his big brother wouldn't miss this for anything and he knew that Eridanus would be on the other side when he saw Benjamin again.
"He's cheering up Michael." Joshua explained. Michael was his son and after Benjamin had passed away a few years ago Eridanus had bonded to Michael a short while later. Joshua also had two younger girls but Michael was very close to his granddad Damien. "Michael's very upset."
Damien tilted his head to look at his eldest child. "He's too young." Damien whispered.
"He's too young." Joshua nodded and wiped at his damp eyes. "But Eridanus will look after him just like he looks after all of us."
Damien was proud of his family. Of Joshua and his wife, Michelle, and their three children even if things with his own wife hadn't worked out. Then of course Benjamin's family. Ben's wife had passed away in an accident when their own son had only been ten and his son now had two twin boys that were at Hogwarts. Acacia and Crisanta also had their own families but had moved to the United States. Eridanus took letters back and forth but in recent years they hadn't seen much of each other.
"Michael will look after Eridanus." Damien nodded but neither Teddy nor Joshua knew the truth about Eridanus and neither did Michael and it would stay that way as Harry had asked.
"And Uncle Ben and Uncle Harry will look after you." Teddy smiled and leant down to kiss his Uncle on the forehead. Damien smiled. He'd remembered saying the same thing to his big brother before he'd passed away. Damien felt his eyes growing heavy and smiled when he felt warmth and then feathers against his cheek as Eridanus appeared and silently nuzzled with him.
"Love you both." Damien whispered to his nephew and son.
"We love you too, dad." Joshua told him quietly just as Damien fell asleep for the last time.
"It's okay, Damy." It was such a familiar voice but to hear it with his ears rather than in his mind made everything become so real to him. So bright and so perfect.
"Harry?" Damien asked and heard a bit of a laugh.
"You can open your eyes, little brother." Damien's eyes snapped open as he heard Benjamin's voice and he found himself looking at Harry as he had been the last time he'd seen him except with none of the weakness that had eventually killed him. Ben stood with an arm around his own twin looking exactly the same age as Harry. Damien looked down at himself to realise he was just a teenager again. He looked like he had when he'd been able to hold Harry in his arms. Damien leapt forwards and crashed into his big brothers and they enveloped him in warm arms.
"Harry!" Damien sobbed into his neck as Ben held them both up.
"I saw you just before you fell asleep." Harry reminded him.
"It's not the same." Damien laughed and pulled his head back and turned to look up at Ben. "I've really missed you these last few years."
Ben smiled warmly at him. "I never really left you. I've been watching."
"I know." Damien smiled. "God I've missed you both so much."
"We know, little brother." Harry smiled.
"So I'm really dead, right?" Damien asked Harry.
"Your body is." Harry nodded. "But your soul can't die and this place gives your soul form."
"Is it always so bright?" Damien laughed.
"It's whatever you want it to be." Ben told him. "With anyone you want to be with. Sometimes I'm with Catherine and sometimes I'm with mum and dad but I'm always with Harry. Our souls exist only with each other."
"Mum and Dad?" Damien asked.
"You just have to think on them and they'll hear you and they'll come eventually." Harry smiled. Damien turned in Ben's arms and put his back to his oldest brother and as if they were stepping out of fog his parents appeared. Damien jumped out of his brother's arms and into a joint hug with his parents. They looked just like they had when he'd been a teenager. Damien was rattling off anything that came to his mind within minutes but Harry interrupted by placing a hand on Damien's arm. "I have to go. Michael needs me."
"Needs you?" Damien frowned, worried for his grandson.
"It's your funeral." Harry told him softly. "Time is different here but you'll know if you need to watch something. Michael is upset and he's hiding. Jacob and Luke are looking for him but he's not playing fair." Harry smiled a little at that.
"Mum and Dad know?" Damien looked between them.
"They know everything." Harry smiled before stepping back. He gave Damien a loving smile before the fog seemed to flow around him and he disappeared to comfort Michael.
Five hundred years later
Eridanus soared over the crowds, drawing stares from hundreds of people as he swooped through towards Noah Potter. He didn't pick his bonded really. When his previous bonded passed away he spent some time as himself with them in the afterlife and then felt drawn to his newer one. With Noah he'd been drawn to him almost straight away after his parents had been killed. His father having been his old bonded. He'd yet to bond to anyone other than a Potter and was seen as the Potter family's mascot but since he wasn't the only Phoenix and nobody really could tell them apart without knowing him intimately.
He spotted Noah with his college friends and glided down through the crowds of humans. He trilled and Noah turned to him. A smile broke across the eighteen year old's face and he raised an arm for Eridanus to land softly. "Wicked!" Noah's newest friend gasped. All of Noah's friends here were non-magical but it had been a long time since people were judged based on things like an ability to do magic. A hover ship passed almost silently overhead as Noah helped Eridanus hop up onto his shoulder while his new friends fawned over him. He spread his wings as Noah's new crush stroked his chest feathers, not that Noah or the other boy realised they were crushing on one another just yet. They were only three weeks into college so you couldn't really blame them but Eridanus had a good feeling about the guy.
For five hundred years since Benjamin had passed away he'd bounced between seven different bonded humans before Noah and always found himself drawn to Potters though there were now hundreds of them. They all knew of Eridanus but magic had faded a little in the last few centuries as Earth colonised other worlds and explored the galaxy. But he could move between the worlds with the same effort as it took him to move into or out of the afterlife because regardless of the distance people all went to the same place when they died.
Noah's friends at school had known he was a wizard but magic was no longer taught like it used to be. Wizards and Witches weren't even called that anymore. They were simply humans with advanced abilities like telekinesis, telepathy, advanced healing and intelligence. They schooled with humans with no magic and they went into jobs with them as well. Magic had simply evolved when it became 'outdated' by advancing technology. With magic's joining with the normal world so to had magical creatures like Phoenixes and their effect on the environment meant they'd spread to colonies just as humans had. It wasn't rare to see a centaur on the streets in cities or a goblin family buying real estate on the terraformed Mars but seeing a Phoenix gliding down the street was still a novelty and even after a decade Noah still grinned whenever Eridanus appeared.
"He's cute. I like him." Eridanus teased Noah as his crush continued to stroke him. "You can take him home. I won't complain."
"Eri!" Noah blushed furiously before realising his friends were now curious. "Eridanus is just teasing me."
"Your blush just gives you away." Eridanus laughed in his head. "It's alright. He likes you too. You should ask him out. I could take you to Rissen Paradise Islands! You could sunbathe naked together. I'll even give you privacy for the night."
Noah simply turned to hide his face in Eridanus' feathers knowing he'd never get out of at least asking him out now. Eridanus wouldn't let him off the hook and that was probably a good thing. Eridanus refused to ever admit he was wrong but even Noah had to admit his Phoenix was in fact normally right about these sorts of things.