I've had many reviews and messages asking when I would begin posting this final installment. I wrote this part several months ago, but am exceedingly busy with one thing and another. I had planned to come back to it and add some more, but after reading through and doing some editing, I've decided it's best left where it is, so am posting!. I will try and write more soon. Kind regards to all readers. Mx
As always, this story is dedicated to someone special. She knows who she is.
Chapter 1: In which the prophecy is read
The room contained a round mahogany table, highly polished, with a warm, tactile patina to it. It was large enough for eighteen carver chairs to fit comfortably about its circumference. The table top was, thick, dark and heavy, supported serenely by a single leg in its centre, which ended in a beautifully carved foot, itself an impressive eight feet in diameter. Images of dragons, griffons, hippogriffs, phoenixes and many other magical beasts adorned the expanse of deep, rich wooden base.
The eighteen matching chairs were equally splendid. Four exquisitely turned legs, not spindly nor chunky, rose up to a padded seat which was upholstered in a thick red and black brocade. The backrest rose seamlessly in five flat struts with the back legs continuing up at its edge, before elegantly curving back and around to join the other side. The arm rests were wide enough to support a generously broad arm, without affecting the balance of the piece, before curving gracefully down to join effortlessly with the front leg.
The walls of the circular room in which stood the magnificent table and chairs were decorated with a rich and warming red colour. Directly behind each seat, the wall was adorned with a flaming torch, from which no smoke arose and which would never burn out. The room was thrice the size of the table, across its diameter, allowing the occupants plenty of room to find their seats.
Opposite the room's singular entrance, which, at this time, was an impressive double door in a regency style, two figures sat side by side at the round table, waiting for the remainder of the enclave to gather. The time was a quarter to eight; the meeting was due to commence in fifteen minutes. The pair waited, sometimes quietly, sometimes whispering words of support to each other. In front of the pair, resting conspicuously on the polished surface of the round table, was a single book. The tome was moderately sized and clearly very, very ancient, but the effect of its presence on the pair was palpable. Furtive glances were sent periodically at the relic, betraying its importance at the impending meeting.
At one minute to eight o'clock, the heavy doors swung closed with a dull thud for the final time. The eighteen were assembled. It was time for the prophecy to be read.
Although the table was circular, there was no doubting who sat its head. Harry Potter and to his left, Ginny Weasley. This pair, were believed by all in the room, plus a herd of Centaur in the Forbidden Forest and by this time possibly the Dark Lord himself, to be the children of the Shadowfire prophecy. Centaurean legend speaks of the prophecy of the Dark Flame, of a boy in black and a girl in red. The book in front of these two young people contained the only known copy of the full prophecy, as spoken by the Ancient Centaur. Eagerly awaiting the reading of prophecy were sixteen of the couple's closest friends, advisors and family.
To Ginny's left sat her father, as her personal counsel and then her six brothers, the self dubbed Brotherhood of Flame. As usual for this group, they were ordered by age, with Bill Weasley next to his father and Ron at the other end, next to Fred on his left and Hermione Granger on his right. Miss Granger was the start of the next group at the meeting – the Sisters of Shadow. Hermione, her cousin Grace, Luna Lovegood and Harry's adopted sister Naomi Black (previously Crabbe) were the Shadowy youth's eyes, ears and much more besides, providing priceless intelligence and insight. To Naomi's right sat her adoptive father, Sirius Black, then Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore and finally Remus Lupin, who, as Harry Potter's personal counsel, sat at his left hand. This group of adults, along with Arthur Weasley made up the collective known as the Shadowfire Council, a most powerful group of knowledgeable, wise and formidable magic-users.
The Sisters, Brothers and Council all stared expectantly at the couple they had all sworn their allegiance to, each waiting to learn the wording of the historic prophecy. On the stroke of eight o'clock, the intelligent voice of Harry Potter, until recently known by the world as Adam Black, began to speak.
"Beloved Sisters." Harry's gaze went to each of the four girls in turn.
"Devoted Brothers." To each of the Weasley brothers.
"Wise counsellors." Lastly he locked eyes with each of the Council, ending with Sirius, who was furthest from him.
"Some of you are aware, although perhaps not all, that the book Hermione found in the library that fleetingly describes the Shadowfire prophecy has been defiled."
There were several snorts of disgust at this remark, from the most scholarly amongst those assembled, notably Hermione, Remus Lupin and Severus Snape.
"The book has had a page skillfully removed so as not to arouse suspicion – a fact I learned during a meeting with the Centaurs in the Forbidden Forest, earlier this year. This…" Harry paused to find the correct term. "…adjustment took place many many decades ago.
"At this meeting, I also learned of a complete volume. Just one, that had survived intact, thanks to its ownership by a notorious close-guarded family. The Dolohov family is an old line, based in Russia, although its most infamous member is Antonin, a Death Eater and one of Voldemort's most ruthless and feared servants. Antonin is currently a resident of Azkaban prison, although how long this will remain is unknown.
"Thanks to the extremely useful skills of my Godfather, the aforementioned book has been liberated from its previous owner, Nikolai Dolohov, and now sits on this table in front of me.
"Neither Ginny nor myself have yet looked at the book, which, according to the Centaurs, contains the only known transcript of the full prophecy, as it was made by the Ancient Guardian of the Forest, more than a thousand years ago. Neither did Sirius have a chance to read the missing page, as he returned to Hogwarts without single delay, for which Ginny and I thank you."
Sirius looked uncomfortable as seventeenteen pairs of eyes turned to look at him, but Harry quickly continued after barely a moment's pause.
"Before we read aloud the prophecy, does any of you have any questions?"
Harry the scanned those witches and wizards sat around the vast table. Most looked thoughtful and a couple politely shook their heads. Hermione was clearly bursting herself with barely restrained anticipation at the thought of obtaining such obscure knowledge.
On a second sweep of the room, Harry's eyes met with the steely gaze of his head of house, Severus Snape.
"Mr. Black, I cannot help but question the appropriateness of including some of the more…immature members of this gathering in the dissemination of a vital piece of knowledge."
The spy's tone was courteous but still clearly hostile towards certain members of the group. He may have sworn his allegiance to Harry and Ginny and have professional respect for his Headmaster and his Deputy, but this did not mean he held the younger half of the Weasley boys in such regard.
"Perhaps restricting this knowledge to those with a more adult disposition would be wise?"
"Professor," responded Harry in a manner that gave due deference to the wisdom of the teacher, but left no room for misunderstanding that he was not impressed with the question. "Only one person in this room is in fact younger than Ginny, and she is not only my sister, but also responsible for the intelligence that led us to intercept the attacks on both Hogsmeade and Gringotts."
"I meant no offence, Mr. Black, simply posing the question for consideration."
"None taken, Professor…"
Harry's response was interrupted by a faint touch on his right hand, which was resting flat on the table in front of him, as if poised to propel himself into a standing position. He looked to his right, at the calm face of his beloved Ginny. The child of fire used her eyes to direct Harry to Remus, on his other side. The Boy-Who-Lived turned to look expectantly at his counsellor.
"Harry…everyone…I think it would be prudent to hear and evaluate the prophecy before we make any decisions about who should or should not be allowed to retain knowledge of its content. We may decide that widespread knowledge is beneficial, whereas we may need to restrict the knowledge of it to a chosen few. I suggest we cross that bridge enlightened, rather than trip over it blindly."
"I agree, Remus," replied Dumbledore. Harry looked at Arthur, McGonagall and Sirius and saw agreement in each of their expressions also before turning his penetrating green eyes to Professor Snape.
"Are you in agreement, Professor?" Harry asked neutrally.
"Indeed," came the acceding reply.
"Very well. We will consider Padfoot's immaturity after reading the prophecy."
Harry's lighthearted response raised a smirk from the dry countenance of the potions master. Remus snorted in amusement while Sirius reacted, albeit slowly, with mock-affront.
After a moment, the tension in the air somewhat lessened, it was Ginny who unusually took over addressing the assembly.
"If there are no further comments, we shall proceed. Hermione?"
"Yes!" The bushy haired Gryffindor responded with surprise. She had not expected to be addressed at this moment.
"As you are on the verge of bursting from your barely contained anticipation, would you like to read the prophecy out to us?"
"Why not you?"
"It's just…that I thought Adam…or Professor Dumbledore…"
"Do you not want to read it?"
Harry picked up the book, pushed back his chair and walked round the table to where Hermione sat. He bent down and whispered very closely into her ear, so quietly that no-one else could make out his words. Has he stood back up, he placed the book in front of her and returned to his seat.
With as much haste as she dared, as her eagerness conflicted with the need to treat this very ancient of volumes with the utmost care, Hermione Granger flicked through the yellowing pages of antiquated script. Towards the end of the book, her fingers fell still and her eyes began to rove across the page. She glanced at Harry, who smiled reassuringly and then began to read.
"…And in the century of the mighty Oak, the troubled winds will blow and the burning sun will scorch the earth, leaving it blighted with disease as festering abhorrence. And the fates shall send a second champion and he shall find his strength in the heart of fire and together they will engage the green death that blights the world of men.
The champion shall take the form of a shadow warrior and he shall be a boy born into troubled waters, and he shall know great sadness and cruelty. He shall dwell in the shadows but belong in the forest. He shall be a spirit of the forest, fauna's kin, its protector and healer, yet still a hunter, a predator, ruthless and unforgiving. He will wield the shadow and hide from unseeing eyes in it. The male human child shall be of the night, of the darkness, of shadow. A child grown out of despair.
The champion's strength shall be the flame of the travellers. The seventh of seven, the first for seven tens of human seasons, shall shine into the dark places of the champion's soul and bring warmth and happiness and great power. The seventh of fire shall be a female human child, born into the light and to love and to kin. The fire shall be true yet cunning, a guide and yet a scavenger.
And when the red planet rises in a starless sky, the boy of shadow and girl of fire shall become one, joined in the bonds of eternal devotion, and together they shall face the disease that taints the world of men and they shall burn with the dark flame all those who stand before them. With righteous indignation that will purge the lands of the humans, they will scorch the plague with cleansing fire.
And the boy and girl dressed in the black of night and his fire, his strength, the girl in the red of gushing blood shall raise their banner in village, town and city and they will be followed by the travelling fire and they shall be guided by the wise and the learned and there shall be whispers from the shadows and they shall grow strong.
And on the day of Midsummer, one human year from the bonding of the champion with his strength, shall the champion seek allegiance from the Great Guardians of the mighty fortress of learning and yet the pair, the Dark Flame, the Shadowfire, shall be rebuked and they shall leave humbled and alone.
And through one further cycle in the seasons of men shall pass, and the great pestilence shall return and champion and his strength shall fight the growing tide, cleansing the decay, slowing its ever continual gnawing at the roots of human society, and so it shall come to pass that the great green plague of death shall reach the might fortress of learning intent on its destruction and the Great Guardians shall stand tall against the onrushing tide of doom and as the sun rises over the misty mountains, the champion and his strength shall return atop mighty beasts of black and red, and the fate of the world of men shall triumph or it shall decay.
And this is the word of the stars, of the moon, of the western wind as it blows through the tops of the great oaks, of the sun and the planets. This is the will of the heavens, and so it shall come to pass."