-1Harry Potter and the Sigil of Power
Prologue: The Sigil
Lupin looked around and saw that he was standing in a vast hall, carved out of the living rock of the stony mountain. The walls were ornate with large tapestries and banners, resplendent despite their age. Something about their look set Lupin's mind on edge, as if the opulence was merely cover to keep some things secret. Giant crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling. At the other end, a wooden study table with a chair could be seen on a dais, covered with the dust of ages. And sitting on the chair with his head hidden behind his palms, tired elbows resting on the table, disregarding all the dust was the person he had been searching for.
He quietly approached the slouching figure while observing the hall in greater detail. All around the hall lay piles of wealth: gold, gems, and crowns, silver, rich armor, bolts of rare cloth, and carved chests of precious woods, fitted with inlaid enamels of great craft. Amazed by the sheer brilliance of the treasure in front of him, Lupin lowered himself and sat upon what would be an wealthy wizard's lifetime's worth of earnings in gold, absently moving it around to make as comfortable a seat as could be managed. Harry slightly raised his head as the older man shook his head in disbelief.
"So all this is yours now," he said thoughtfully, scooping a handful of gems and letting it fall from his hands in a single stream. "You could recruit enough to crush the enemy. Heck, you could do that and then rebuild all of Europe and still have plenty left over…" his voice trailed off.
Harry looked up thoughtfully at the newcomer, and Lupin found this reassuring. The younger wizard seemed to be gazing at him with a dispassionate yet contemplative look, where many others of his age would have crumbled under the overwhelming pressure of the situation he found himself in. But then again, many others of his age wouldn't have survived this far.
Harry looked at the last marauder and explained, "The enemy had surrounded me but I managed to escape. I wandered for a long time and came to a place where I could hide." He paused, closing his eyes and leaning back on the chair. "I started running at the sound of something and found tracks that led close to here."
"Those I saw also. I was afraid you had been taken."
"I wasn't. It was a party of renegade Goblins. They were more concerned about where they were going and didn't pay attention to what was behind, so I could follow fairly close."
"That was a very dangerous thing to do."
"I know, but I was desperate. I thought they might lead me to the surface, and I could wait while they went on ahead and then slip out."
"A bold plan, Harry," said Lupin, an approving look in his eyes, "And not entirely inappropriate, considering the circumstances."
"They came to just outside the doorway to the hall and I followed."
"What happened to them?"
Harry spoke thoughtfully, "They couldn't see the doorway, but they could sense the presence of this hall. Something drew them here, and something drew me as well. Gold drew them, and the magic drew me, I reckon. But when the Goblin party came closer, it sent them away."
"Sent them away? Who? How?" Lupin seemed taken aback.
Harry sighed. "I'm not absolutely certain. I think they were being drawn here only because I was behind them. The magic, I reckon, enabled them to sense the gold. But the closer they came, the less sure they seemed about where they wanted to go. So, the magic probably sent them away perhaps. They walked past the doorway without giving it a single glance. It worked the other way for me. I knew I had to enter this hall and the closer I came, the doorway became visible. I stopped to make sure I wasn't being followed." He stopped and looked curiously at Lupin. "How did you find me?"
"Your ring," Lupin simply said, pointing at the magnificent moon-silver ring on the younger wizard's finger. "I couldn't sense the doorway either, but I knew you were about 100 paces in front of me. I apparated in," he concluded evenly.
"WHAT? Are you out of your mind, Remus? You could have gotten stuck in solid stone," Harry shouted, looking at his friend incredulously.
"Harry," began Lupin, brushing off beads of sweat from his brow, "The point is, I did not get stuck, and I was getting worried about you. I did no more than what you would have done in my place." Or Sirius, the thought remained unspoken between the two. He raised his hand to stop Harry from retorting, "I know it was dangerous, but sometimes situations call for desperate measures, and you have been in such situations yourself," he ended.
Harry's brows furrowed in irritation but he merely shook his head and left it at that and looked at the parchment in his hand. He tried to move his head toward Lupin, but could not. He drew a deep breath, and Lupin could feel a quiver of hesitation in his eyes as he handed the parchment over.
Lupin apprehensively tore his eyes from his ward and read the words. It seemed to be written in some strange language comprising of lines and dots which Harry could understand and yet he couldn't.
"Parseltongue," he realized, with widened eyes.
Harry nodded his head, and gave a soft hiss with a wave of his hand, casting a translating charm. Without his wand, Lupin nodded his head appreciatively, acknowledging his increasing adeptness at wandless magic. He read the words,
'The sword in the silver trunk is all you need for now, Harry.'
Lupin gasped. "How…" he began, but was unable to frame a coherent question.
"Appears quite hard to believe," Harry smiled sadly, "that somebody knew I would be coming here. At least they don't seem to much like Goblins and Death Eaters. What do you think, Remus?"
Lupin frowned. "I don't know, Harry. Goblins and Death Eaters aren't the only menace faced by wizard kind. We should avoid any strange occurring for it could make things much more dire than now. ."
Harry raised an eyebrow but spoke softly, "More dire than now, Remus?"
Remus sighed. "Perhaps, we should first find the trunk and then decide."
Harry beckoned Lupin to come closer. A silver trunk lay on the ground hidden from plain view by the table in front of the young wizard. He reached into it and pulled out a large bundle of white cloth and placed it in front of the Marauder. Lupin tentatively unrolled it and found that the cloth was a tabard of white, with an image of a black wolf emblazoned on it. Inside were a thick manuscript with the same device and a bright sword with a golden hilt. Its scabbard was made from a smooth white material like ivory, but stronger, like metal, with the wolf printed on top. His eyes widened in recognition of the image of the wolf. It had green eyes and a tuft of white hair on his forehead.
Lupin watched him and said, "Take it. It clearly belongs to you, Nighteyes."
"It is much too fine for me, Moony. It belongs to a prince or a king."
"And where would you find a prince or king worthy of such a sword these days, Harry? You have proven yourself worthy of it many times over. The resistance against the Dark Empire would have crumbled without you. Besides, the image of your Animagus form being on it could hardly be a coincidence."
Harry shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant but he knew Lupin was right. The sword was drawing him closer. Perhaps, he wondered, it was the sword that led him to discover the hall in the first place. He drew his hand closer and stroked the air above the sword. There was great magic around it, which Harry could feel and it felt strangely familiar to him. Taking a deep breath, he stood up and picked the sword.
An intense wave of power rippled through Harry as he struggled to keep himself from collapsing. His vision swirled as a brilliant white light enveloped him for an instant.
The wind ripped on Harry's face as he soared through the skies. An exhilarating sense of joy filled his senses as he turned sideways and eased himself in the direction of the wind, floating with it. There was a reason why Harry Potter loved flying and this was it. The freedom and independence that he found in the skies was beyond anything he could ever experience below. Looking down, he saw green and brown, the Forbidden Forest, but the trees were like ants. What was he doing flying so high up? A sudden unease came over him and he plunged down, ripping through the air and at an unbelievable speed. He flapped his wings and clenched his claws…
He was ripped from his reverie by Lupin's voice. "You all right, kid?" Harry could answer with only a part of his awareness, as he realized he had fallen to his knees after taking hold of the sword. He slowly nodded his head as he replaced the sword inside its scabbard and picked up the manuscript lying next to it, his vision returned to normal, and he shook his head to clear it.
"What happened, Harry?"
Slowly sitting, Harry looked at his friend for a moment. "I'm not sure," he said hesitantly. "There is something. I . . . I'm not really sure. I felt as if I were on wings. Just tired, I guess."
Wings? Claws? Harry thought in bemusement. He shook his head clear, taking a shaky breath as he wiped the sweat of his forehead. He had accumulated numerous scars and wounds over many battles and they all throbbed in pain.
Lupin looked at the boy. The ravages of battle were showing on his young face, as he tried to fight whatever that had taken hold of him for a few moments after clutching the sword. He almost seemed to be having a vision and if Lupin didn't know better, he would have put it down to his link with Voldemort. However, that had been taken care of, when the Horcrux in his body had been extracted and the scar on his forehead had become an ordinary scar.
"This is in my handwriting as well, Remus. I wrote this manuscript. It begins with the words from that scroll but more words are appearing… even as I read it." He had picked up the manuscript, and read -
"Meddling with powers beyond one's comprehension could lead to dire consequences, as my last trusted mentor advised. But I couldn't comprehend what he meant by that word. Dire was when the Order of the Phoenix was obliterated from within. Dire was the night when Albus Dumbledore was murdered in the most heinous act of betrayal imaginable. Dire was to see friends and loved ones fall one after the other, like puppets with their strings cut by the loose arrow of time. When the last stand of wizards, elves and goblins fell was the dire era unleashed upon us... Dire was to hold my dearest Ginny as she slowly and painfully plunged into darkness, unable to do anything but listen to her screams and soak in her tears - the death of a soul mate...
A world ravaged in darkness, deafened by the tears of the unfortunate survivors and drenched in the blood of the deceased renders that single word utterly meaningless. The loss of yet another life, the loss of an increasingly futile resistance, oh, the loss of a broken soul if it comes to such a dire situation, wouldn't be a risk too dear to return that wayward arrow of time to its quiver so it could be released again, better aimed and in a better direction."
Harry's finger trembled. His voice had begun to quaver at the mention of his dead wife. Even after a year, he could barely keep himself from breaking down at the thought of her suffering in the end. Finally, giving in to a long suppressed deluge of surmounting grief, he cried. Lupin moved closer and held him as tears came incessantly from the young warrior's eyes.
After several minutes, Harry wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his dark robes and gave a grateful look to the Marauder.
"What does it mean, Moony? It's in my handwriting." He reverted to the Marauder nickname, indicating his shift from a warrior and the leader of the resistance to the son of the Marauder's dead friend.
"I think you should read more of the manuscript before doing anything."
"The Sigil of Power came to me. It has been a part of our world since time immemorial and yet all knowledge about its true nature and shape is lost. It graced Britain in the form of Merlin's staff and Arthur's sword. Great Kings and Warriors have wielded it in different shapes and appearances. It came to me in the form of a sword - the Sword of Power. It accepted me and marked itself as mine when I first entered the Hall of Magic. The Sigil has powers beyond imagining and though it has a mind of its own, we have been as one since our merging. The Sword became me and I became the Sword. It gave me the power to defeat the Dark Lord. It gave me a second chance."
"Why did you stop, Harry?" Lupin inquired, "I must say, this Sigil thing is rather fascinating and I would like to know more about its powers and how it can help us."
"That's all there was, Remus. The rest of the manuscript is blank. I don't get it. Is it me writing to myself from the future?" He paused, eyeing the sword curiously. He could feel a vibration in the air between him and the sword and picked it up again. Immediately, a sensation of pure ecstasy shook his body. Falling down to his knees again, he could barely register the concerned yells from the Marauder. All he could see was the brilliant white light surrounding the sword, making it shimmer in the dim light of the hall. He could feel the sword, feel the power it held, and it was tremendous. An overwhelming desire to blast the wall in front of him took him but it passed instantly as he blacked out.
"Harry!" he heard Lupin's concerned voice when he finally regained consciousness. Eyes groggy with weariness, he rubbed his right hand, which felt extremely sore for some reason.
"Harry, are you all right?" Lupin was sitting beside Harry and had an arm around his shoulder.
"I'm fine," the green-eyed wizard said. "What happened?"
"You touched the sword and there was a great flash of light. You were covered in blinding whiteness and I couldn't see what went on until it cleared. You were on the floor and the sword had disappeared."
Harry took a deep breath and stood up. He felt a surge of power in his arm and clenched his finger. Immediately, a blue sphere appeared in his hand. Brilliant blue ripples in space, not unlike flames of a fire, and yet incredibly more potent.
"Aether in pure, concentrated form as Balefire," he said quietly. "Incredible… The very fundamental component of this universe that allows magic. I think the sword is part of me now, Remus. I can feel its power. I… I think I know what those words meant. Balefire… I can burn my body out of existence. It will undo everything that has happened because of me… while the power of the sword will let my essence survive. I… I can transport myself to a time… It will undo everything that has happened."
The Marauder's eyes widened and he gaped at the boy in amazement and a little fear. "B-Balefire? T-That's an old wives' tale, Harry. Are you sure that's what it is?"
"Yes, Remus," Harry said softly. "Don't ask me how I know, but I do. I can burn my body and save my essence and perhaps one more person… but not tonight, I'm too weary to summon that amount of power. I'll need at least a week to recharge myself. I wonder…"
"Perhaps time will not just be turned back but turned to a whole new path. The crossing of the paths… That was when Voldemort chose me. What if Voldemort went after Neville instead. Do you think reality will be altered if I go back? Could mum and dad…"
"I can't tell, Harry," the weary Marauder leaned back. "As you say, if Voldemort had to choose between you and Neville, there would be an equally likely chance of him choosing Neville over you. In fact, it would perhaps be more than likely for him to go after Neville… the law of average… A second chance," he cried out in excitement, "Harry, that's what the note said. A second chance for you."
"Us, Remus, not me alone. When I eventually figure out how, we will both go back and…"
The Marauder sighed heavily and pushed back a lock of his hair. "Harry, I… the silver… I don't think I'll survive the full moon tomorrow."
Harry dropped the manuscript, his face completely drained of all color. "No," he whispered hoarsely, "No, Moony, you…" He clenched his fists and let out a despairing scream. "Why? Why must everyone I care for have to die? I can't lose you. I can't do this alone!"
"Listen, Harry," Lupin spoke calmly, "If what you've spoken has any semblance to what is to be, then you will be able to save me. You'll be able to save all of us. Do not give in to despair, cub. And you don't have to go alone. If you can, take Luna with you."