~Chapter Fifteen~

Chris knew he was dreaming. He may have been in the Gryffindor Common Room but he knew he was dreaming. Ariel couldn't possibly have been standing before the fireplace calmly watching the flames lick before him. It was a trick of the mind and he rather didn't want to believe in such a thing. But Ariel was before him, Ariel was present and he wanted that so much more than to acknowledge the dream and wake.

"Ariel…" he breathed.

Emerald eyes focused upon him. After seeing the real Ariel this simply couldn't compare but it was the best he was going to receive what with his allegiance. Ariel had chosen the Dark Lord over him. For what reasons, Chris couldn't understand. He was everything Ariel could ever want. He was even closer in age to him than that murderous snake.

Nothing about this made any sense. How had the Dark Lord even known about Ariel in the first place? Ariel hadn't told him that others were searching as well. He'd never mentioned a word of it. So many questions rolled around his mind but only one seemed to bubble forth.

"Why?" Chris cried.

The word came out as a question wrapped in agony and betrayal. Quite honestly Chris was mortified that the sound had even been muttered from his own lips. He was meant to be a brave Gryffindor but all he could manage to sound like was a frightened cub. This being before him had reduced a Gryffindor to such a state yet he couldn't bring himself to blame Ariel. He just couldn't.

Ariel stared at him emerald eyes holding his own hazel in a trance. He is captivated.

"What are you speaking of little lion?" His voice swam over Chris gently brushing against his ears.

"Why did you join the Dark Lord?" Chris moaned. "I would do anything for you. I could be anything for you! Why didn't you grant me a chance? Why did you permit that serpent to have you?"

Ariel smiled. There was nothing behind it. The smile while genuine wasn't aimed at him. The smile was because of the Dark Lord. Chris had nothing to do with it. Smiles weren't for him. He may have received compliments and flirting but the smiles, he knew now, they belonged to the Dark Lord regardless of who they were aimed at.

"I did grant you a chance little lion." Ariel began to explain. "The Dark Lord was granted access to me before you but you both had an equal chance to provide me what I desired. You failed. The Dark Lord succeeded."

Chris felt his knuckles crack as his hands formed fists. This wasn't heading in the direction he had planned. He'd hoped that Ariel had been led off without all the knowledge. Chris had believed that Ariel hadn't known that there were other ways for this to play out. If he had been fed only information from the Dark Lord, then there was hope that Ariel could be persuaded to switch sides. Of course he could provide that way out if only Ariel would allow him to do so.

"The Dark Lord, and I, could be practically the same person!" he argued. "We're both part of a prophecy. We're like two sides of the same coin. I could easily fill in where he belongs for you. I could make all your dreams, your desires, come true. Ariel, give me a chance."

Chris wilted at the frown Ariel sent in his direction. Something he had spoken had displeased Ariel yet he couldn't quite figure out what that was. He'd merely spoken the truth from his eyes. Couldn't Ariel see that? There was so much that he could show Ariel, if only he'd permit it. Then Ariel spoke and he understood.

"You aren't the same person little lion. If you could have done the same as the Dark Lord and freed me before he even had the chance to meet me, I would have been with you. I would be by your side against the Dark in this war. But there are obviously differences between the two of you far greater then I can understand for he was the one. He was swift enough to take action, swift enough to understand the clues I gave him and follow what they showed him. He saved me from a life in which I slept for eternity. I choose to repay him for his act by fighting for his side."

It wasn't something that Chris cared for at all. He cared very little that the Dark Lord managed to move faster than he did. The Dark Lord wasn't the one who needed to be by Ariel's side. That man could live without Ariel, Chris on the other hand; he didn't believe he could do it. Ariel had slowly become everything to him.

"You should be with me! I can be what you need. Just ask me." He pleaded.

As Ariel shook his head Chris felt anger. It stirred in his belly shifting and making him ill.

"It's too late for that little lion. The Dark Lord got to me first. It is he who I now hold allegiance. Nothing will change that."

How could he lose to that sadistic man? He should have been everything that Ariel desired. After all there was nothing that the Dark Lord could do that Chris wasn't capable of. His mother and father were always saying he was meant for great things. Even Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix believed he would become great. Everyone believed in him, everyone except for Ariel. Regardless of what Ariel said he could be there for Ariel. He could be everything Ariel had ever desired!

With a snarl he leapt forward colliding with Ariel and forcing him backwards. They stumbled together and fell onto the couch Chris looming over Ariel. Pinning him down, Chris leant forward staring into Ariel's emerald eyes. There was something familiar about them as if he'd seen them somewhere before yet not quite recalling where. Not that it mattered. He once again had Ariel in a position that granted him all the power.

Lips met hungrily. Yet he could feel something was wrong in the way Ariel responded to him. There wasn't as much passion behind his motions. There was nothing behind Ariel's movements that spoke of the previous connection they had. It appeared as if the Dark Lord's rescue had even removed that from Chris' hands. He couldn't get anything!

Chris refused to let that become a problem however as his lips moved down, teeth nipping at Ariel's neck. As soon as he shifted, Ariel's hands pinned beneath one of his, the room darkened. Pausing, Chris watched Ariel's eyes narrow in anger, the emeralds sparking before him. He'd upset Ariel again! How had he managed that?

A tug was the only warning before Chris was flung off Ariel and into a nearby wall. His breath huffed out of him in shock. Ariel stood and turned away from him. Before him Ariel appeared to be an avenging angel. He stuttered.

"Ariel… what…"

Ariel turned towards him emeralds still angry. His sleek black hair curling and twisting in ways that weren't normal.

"I'm afraid this scene isn't going to happen, little lion, not this time, not ever."

Before Chris could utter a word in protest, Ariel faded away.

x-x-x-x-x

Chris snapped forward his breath caught in his throat. Concern and worry twisted within his stomach. His dreams were becoming rather realistic. He could almost feel the stone wall of Gryffindor tower pressing into his back. The stone warmed slightly by the hearth yet were rigid and painful against his clothed flesh. Dreams weren't meant to be so close to reality. Regardless of what he believed he knew that Ariel was the one who had altered his dream as such.

A shiver passed through him at the memory of the displeased glare Ariel had graced him with before it all ended. The harsh features hadn't looked at home on Ariel's face. His beauty had warped into something terrifying revealing a glimpse of the power he kept hidden from everyone. How he'd never realized Ariel had such abilities Chris couldn't be sure. There was simply so much about Ariel he couldn't understand, that he couldn't even begin to see. He hoped that Ariel could see past what had occurred this night.

"Chris?"

Chris remained in bed not moving apart from the heavy breathing. His mother stood over him concern etching her features. Chris could hardly blame her for her concern. He certainly wasn't all that settled at this development either yet he couldn't inform her of that. He couldn't yet tell her what he was dreaming of or what Ariel meant to him. He needed to work this out on his own or Ariel would never have any respect for him. As it was Ariel's respect for him wasn't all that great to begin with.

"What is it mum?" he asked, breath still shaky.

Lily stared at her son knowing that something was wrong. Yet as she couldn't quite understand what was unsettling him, she couldn't help. All she could do was keep a close eye on him. Everyone around Chris expected so much from her beloved child and she was amongst them. However occasionally she remembered her little boy was still that, her little boy, and he wouldn't be able to handle everything thrown his way. Occasionally he needed his mother to be just his mother. This however wasn't one of those times.

"Dumbledore has called another Order meeting."

Chris frowned. The last meeting hadn't been very helpful at all. Little information had been passed through the ranks. He had been able to obtain more information on Ariel but not a lot. In all honesty he hoped that this meeting would be a little more fruitful.

"Why another one?" he asked.

Lily sighed.

"Dumbledore has more information on… the young man beside the Dark Lord. Also at this point you'll probably be asked to become an actual member. However it is more information on the young man that Dumbledore wants to pass on."

Chris jumped up in seconds. A blanket that now lay haphazardly on the floor caused him to stumble. Yet he soon picked himself back up and continued to dress. There wouldn't be anything that kept him from that meeting.

Anything to do with Ariel could grant him knowledge for what he needed to do to gain Ariel's respect. If he could do that then maybe he stood a chance. Once respect had been gained then he could easily move to the next level of friendship and from there it was simply smooth sailing. Ariel might finally see him instead of the person opposing the Dark Lord. Ariel would finally see Chris.

Once dressed, the pair headed out of the guest room together, making their way down to the meeting room. Chris hadn't thought much of it at the time but having everyone within Hogwarts was rather strange especially considering the students roamed the hallways. The holidays were at least a week off yet so many students had already finished there exams leaving them with little to do. They stared as t pair walked past. Curiosity in their eyes couldn't be hidden.

They knew that a few of their classmates had died. The rather lack of Ron and Hermione by his side was also a dead giveaway. However not one person spoke out about it. Then of course there was Neville and Ginny. All of them his friends… all of them dead… Everyone knew Chris had to have been involved in one way or another. That at least explained the rather wide berth they were being given.

Lily had a firm grip on his arm. His mother for some reason had taken to gripping his arm like he would fade away if she let go. The way she would stare at him at time was as if she stared at another. Her eyes would turn mournful and tears would gather. It was downright eerie. He knew however that eventually she would release him. Eventually the look would fade from her eyes and she would return to normal.

Together they entered through a doorway to a room which the meeting was to be held. Dumbledore was the only one to not have currently arrived so he sat down in a chair beside his father. The rather obvious lack of his friends caused a knot to form in his chest. The trio had always been together and though he had recently gained several other friends it still didn't sit right. Ron and Hermione were gone. Neville had also been killed along with Ginny. There was no returning from that.

He and Luna were the only survivors of their group. Yet whilst Chris had suffered a few scraps and cruises, Luna had returned to Hogwarts completely unharmed. Nothing had happened to the more than often air-headed girl. Chris hated that she had managed to escape whilst his friends had suffered. However it only pushed the idea into him that kids weren't meant to go against Death Eaters alone. They simply wouldn't win.

Though everyone within the Order was present all were in mourning. The Weasley's huddled together. Chris would have done over to offer his condolences however he knew they believed he was at fault. They had lost two of their children simply by following him. He almost blamed himself as well. If he hadn't followed his vision he wouldn't have ended up in that position. Why couldn't he have simply seen common sense like Hermione always told him to? If so then perhaps they would have all come out alive.

However dwelling on it now wasn't going to change anything. He had to think on other things. He had to focus on what was important to him and to the entire Wizarding World. Ariel and Voldemort were the main subject matter on everyone's mind. Not only were both exceedingly powerful but they were together. They were allies against them.

"Are we all present?" Dumbledore enquired as he entered.

Nods were given all around, none too keen on speaking up at the current point in time.

"We have gathered to discuss the last encounter with the Dark Lord." Dumbledore began. "Our last meeting was rather brief given the circumstances-"

A chair scraped back as one of the Weasley's broke away from their huddle.

"The circumstances haven't changed!" Molly burst out. "My children are still dead. Have you even thought to contact the Granger's about Hermione? Of course not, simply because it wouldn't do you any good."

The Order appeared ashamed but they needed to move forward. Death was bound to occur during war but they couldn't sit back and simply give time to mourn properly especially when they appeared to be the losing side. If they lost there wouldn't be time for mourning. Voldemort had been more successful in gathering allies than the Light. When it came down to it they simply didn't have the numbers needed to hold the dark at bay. Mourning would be irrelevant for they would be dead as well.

Bill took his mother by the shoulders and sat her down beside Fred and Charlie. He didn't offer any apologies for her actions merely nodding for Dumbledore to continue.

"Our last meeting was rather brief so I shall rehash the details. Voldemort didn't travel to the Department of Mysteries to locate the Prophecy. Instead he has his Death Eaters distract not only members of this Order but several children as well whilst he went to locate the one called Ariel Ashling and coercer the child towards the dark. This is not only a major setback for us but a problem. With this child in his grasp I believe he could truly win this war."

Silence enveloped the group. No one wanted to say it but the war was nearly as good as over for them. They had little to hope for what with their current standing. They couldn't' even use Chris anymore as the upper hand because the Prophecy had already been fulfilled. However they pushed forward because they had people to fight for.

"Chris, why do you believe Ariel sided with the Dark Lord?" his father asked.

With his reaction to Ariel upon their appearance in the Department of Mysteries he couldn't deny that he knew of Ariel. Chris had wanted to keep that information to himself but he'd realized that it wasn't a possibility. If it could help them defeat the Dark Lord then he would grant them the insight only he was privy to.

"He explained to me that he gave Voldemort and me equal opportunity to locate him however he mentioned that because we were different it granted him the greater advantage, the greater chance of succeeding. I suppose because I've already completed the Prophecy it means I'm not as powerful in certain areas of magic compared to Voldemort."

Slowly people began to perk up and listen in to their discussion. They weren't nearly as enthusiastic but they still turned an ear and paid attention. No one wanted to be left out of this conversation if it meant there was some way to regain their position in the war. Many wanted revenge. Many didn't care as long as the Light succeeded.

"What of his unusual abilities?" Moody growled.

"Yes, he called himself an Illusionist. What does that mean?" Kingsley spoke.

Chris nearly scowled but had the foresight to hide it. That was something he was rather curious about as well. Many people who had been present at the Department of Mysteries had all fallen victim to their own fears. The ability was quite impressive but didn't explain much else. What else was Ariel capable of? He turned towards Dumbledore for answers.

"Ariel Ashling was manufactured by the Ministry as I've said before. They found a magical child in the muggle world and warped the child's magic until it only responded from mental prompts. In short Ariel doesn't need a wand or incantation to access his magic."

"They turned the child into a weapon."

Lily's voice cut through the silence. It wasn't often that she spoke up about anything to do with children yet this was something she had taken an interest in.

"In short, yes." Dumbledore agreed. "Ariel Ashling can manipulate people's minds as easily as he can stare into your eyes. Unlike Legillmency he doesn't need the connection. It comes second nature to him. He can also access a lot of information that isn't told to the general public. I doubt there isn't anything he couldn't obtain easily."

This unsettled everyone within the room. The information that the child could possess was phenomenal. To have that much knowledge at ones fingertips would be a huge boon. Yet it was currently in the possession of the Dark Lord. It wasn't a pleasant thought in the least for anyone.

"So in the Department of Mysteries he accessed our inner fears and made them play out all simultaneously." Tonks commented.

The thought alone didn't help anyone. Fears might have been irrational at times but no one enjoyed having them used against their person. It unsettled even the hardest of warriors. Ariel Ashling would be a formidable opponent should anyone come across him in battle.

"Did the You-Know-Who risk being caught this early in his resurrection for this child and nothing else?" Someone towards the back enquired.

"No one quite understands the thoughts or plots Voldemort concocts. If we could then this war would easily be won. However know that we know the significance that Ariel Ashling is to him we have weakness. We have a point to exploit." Dumbledore explained.

James sat forward suddenly drawing attention to himself by the group.

"Is it worth attempting to turn Ariel Ashling from the Dark Side?"

The group turned to Dumbledore who furrowed his brow in thought. Seconds passed as the elderly man sat in silent thought, the silence only broken by the sobs from Molly Weasley. Nerves began to fray the longer the silence passed. Each person tensed with the thought of all that power against them. They relaxed when the thought of all that power joined them. They would be invincible. Eventually Dumbledore spoke.

"The child may have the ability to predict the future to some degree. If we could harness that ability for our use then we would have an even greater advantage."

Moody sat forward eagerly.

"How would we accomplish that?"

"First we will need more information on the situation." Dumbledore turned to Severus. "What news do you have Severus?"

Severus sneered as everyone turned towards him. He could see the hate in their eyes and knew that it was only about to become worse. They didn't trust him at all. But that was alright because he didn't trust them either. Besides he'd already chosen his side in this upcoming war. Though still a spy he'd given all of his effort for the Light and had received nothing in return. With Ariel now beside the Dark Lord his own standing was looking even brighter. Smirking he began his "report".

"Remus Lupin-"

"What about Remus?" James interrupted immediately.

Everyone turned equally unimpressed with James' interruption. James shrunk inward leaving Severus to continue his report.

"Remus Lupin has joined the Dark Lord and his sire. There isn't anyone who would be able to change his decision either. With what has become open knowledge I see many people that will eagerly do the same without remorse."

Shock was openly displayed on everyone's face. Remus had been one of the most caring people in the world. For him to join the Dark Lord and serve loyally this knowledge must have been exceedingly important.

"Severus, what do you know?" Dumbledore asked.

Severus was tempted to smirk. He knew this was going to ruin them all but he couldn't. He needed them to believe he was still working on their side. If his position was compromised this early in the game everything would be ruined. The Dark Lord would never forgive him regardless of how close he was to Ariel.

"Remus Lupin has been reunited with Harry Potter."

"Harry Potter?" Chris questioned. "How is that possible?"

James swallowed. Lily paled. The guilt practically rolled off them. Never had they believed their mistake would tumble into such a drastic mess. Together they turned to Chris to explain.

"He reeked of dark magic after the attack at Halloween. We couldn't have that in the house what with you there so we handed him to an orphanage. We thought that time amongst muggles would disperse the magic and he could return to us." Lily said meekly.

"We were going to go and retrieve him once he'd started Hogwarts. We were going to tell you and him everything and then he didn't show up so we thought that…" James trailed off.

Chris stared in disbelief. He had thought that his brother was dead or living a peaceful life as a muggle. This… this wasn't what he had wanted to hear by coming and listening to this meeting. He'd wanted to simply hear about Ariel.

"What happened to him?" Chris asked in horror turning to the one man with all the answers.

"You dropped him off at the Orphanage and then the Ministry came," Severus continued. Everyone snapped to attention.

"They took your son away along with several other children all of magical heritage and allowed the Unspeakables to mess with their magic. Their magic warped. Most were killed and yet only one survived the ordeal. Your son, your precious Harry, is Ariel Ashling."


I told myself I wasn't going to end this on a cliffy and I did. I'm sorry. (Ok... not that worry XD) Hope you enjoyed.

~MidnightEmber