DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter or Twilight – they belong to J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer, respectively. Also, within this story I make use of a few small ideas from Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Anita Blake and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the credit for which goes to Erik Kripke (& Co.), L. J. Smith, Laurell K. Hamilton and Joss Whedon (& Co.), respectively. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: AU, Slash and Het pairings will feature in this story, but the main pairing will be Slash (that being Edward and Harry). For now there will be nothing graphic, but that might change later.
Author's Note: Oh my word! Over ten months since my last update – I am so VERY SORRY! I can give you guys a whole bunch of reasons for this – real life… assignments and exams… work – and while this is all true, I have to say that it all comes down to one huge factor: this chapter kicked my ass! And then again. And again. I had so much trouble with it that it stopped being funny ages ago. But it is finally here! And I'm not sure that I'm happy with it, but I've overthought it enough.
This chapter is dedicated to Kyuubi323 – I don't think I have ever been so complimented before, and definitely not for my writing. Thank you so very much for your shout out and seriously awesome review!
Thank you all for continuing to read this story :) Hope you enjoy…
When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part
You roll outta bed and down on your knees
And for a moment you can hardly breathe
Wondering was she really here?
Is she standing in my room?
No, she's not
'Cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone…
When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The giving up is the hardest part
She takes you in with her crying eyes
Then all at once you have to say goodbye
Wondering could you stay, my love?
Will you wake up by my side?
No, she can't
'Cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone…
»John Mayer – When You're Dreaming with a Broken Heart«
The bedroom was vast and very opulent. Everything, from the thick velvet curtains to the gentle gossamer drapes of the four-poster bed, spoke of richness and complete comfort. The use of only light colors – white and soft blues – contrasted wonderfully with the dark woods that the furniture was made from and would have, at any other time in the past, given one the feeling of beautiful tranquility.
What a morbid contrast, though Lady Ayur sadly, for nothing could mask the scent of sickness that covered the room presently. The oppression of death was undeniable. The High Elf, one of the three leaders of the Supernatural world, and one of the oldest and most powerful beings in existence, could not help but feel utterly useless in that moment. Her companion, she could tell, felt just the same.
Though stoic as always, as he stood vigilant by the bed, Lady Ayur could easily see the weight of this feeling of inadequacy pressing down on Lord Veda. Ever the warrior, however, he bore this burden with a dignity so hard to come by of late. While he may appear, to an outsider, as unfeeling, as cold, Ayur knew different. It was in his eyes, always the eyes, the tenderness and utmost care he had for those close to him, those he loved. This shone through like fire now.
"How is she?" the quiet voice of Lord Sama asked as he walked into the room.
"The deterioration is constant now," Lord Veda replied – the first words he has spoken in a long while.
"It won't be much longer," supplied Lady Ayur, bowing her head at the truth of her statement.
"I… am h-here… you know?"
The heartbreakingly fragile voice came from the occupant of the bed. She stirred slightly under her silken sheets, but made no effort to sit up. Indeed, at this time, she probably did not have strength for such a task.
"My Lady Lovegood!" Lord Veda exclaimed as they all rushed forward, wanting to aid their friend, but not daring to touch for fear of causing more harm. "Please – you must be still. You are not –"
"I am… well a-ware, M-my Lord," interrupted the one called Lady Lovegood feebly, attempting a smile, but not quite making it. "Before I g-go –"
A painful cough took the elderly woman over, interrupting what she wished to say; her body shook almost uncontrollably for a few minutes, though they seemed to be the longest minutes in history for those having to witness it.
"S-s-sorry…" she stammered once she had recovered enough to speak again, though the agony was still apparent in her voice.
"You have nothing to apologize for, dear one," Ayur whispered, fighting hard against the onslaught of her emotions. Being an Elf, and an Elder at that, she was highly sensitive to the ambiance of any place. Coupled with her own sadness for her friend, she was very nearly overwhelmed.
"M-must… must tell… you," Lady Lovegood continued, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with that statement. "The time… the t-time is c-come."
All three Elders eyes hardened at this. None of them showed any surprise, however; they have been preparing for this confirmation ever since their meeting with Lord Potter.
Though not one of them made the young Daemon aware of this at the time, they did not doubt him in the slightest. The amount of good that he has achieved in his relatively few years on earth, the unbelievable amount of compassion for all life that he holds, went a long way in ensuring that he would never be ignored by them. It also guaranteed him their affections. Truly, the young green-eyed being did not fully comprehend the affect he had on those around him. And despite the circumstances, at least now they were assured they would be seeing him again.
The elderly Lovegood pulled in a deep, raggedy breath, but her wise eyes shone with pride.
"I see… you have expect-ted this," she whispered, her voice fading fast. "G-good… good. I must… must leave y-you… now."
"A better world than this awaits you, loved one," stated the strong but soothing voice of Lord Veda.
"Indeed, My Lady," asserted Lord Sama, eyes and tone full of love, "one that surely deserves you."
Lady Ayur stepped forward, the Lords making way for her. Too overcome to be able to speak her thoughts, the High Elf gathered her closest friend into her arms and simply held her. She tried to convey in this last hug all the love she had for the Lady Lovegood, all the trust and faith, and how very much she would be missed. They stayed this way right up until they all felt their friend depart, until her life was truly no more.
Very gently, as though handling the most fragile crystal, Lady Ayur lay her confidant back down. Getting of the bed, each of the three Triad members did their part, tucking the white sheet tightly around the rapidly cooling body, covering even her head. They then all stood around the bed, heads bowed in respect, and said the customary words of the final goodbye in a tongue long forgotten.
"Be well on your journey; you have blessed us with your light."
As one they turned and left the chambers, not looking back but ever forward as they must. The Reapers would take over from here, seeing to the preparations of the body before the burning, which would occur the next day.
They entered Lord Veda's study by unspoken agreement and arranged themselves with practiced ease. The Vampire Lord walked over to the window, which took up the entire wall to one side, looking across their vast lands now bathed in soft light and wondrous colors from the sunset, but seeing nothing. Ayur and Sama placed themselves in a soft velvet covered couch each, placed directly before the raging fireplace. After the chill of the room they had just left, they needed the warmth – superficial though it felt right then.
None spoke for what seemed quite a time, each too lost in their own thoughts, their own memories. It seemed wrong to them, somehow, to discuss and tend to the matters at hand – too formal and business-like – having just lost a dear and very well-loved friend. But such was the nature of the mantle they had undertaken. They were the leaders of an entire world, of all supernatural-kind; they could not afford to waste time when even time was no longer guaranteed for the very beings they took care of. And so they forced themselves to move on – hopefully they would find some moments to mourn later.
"Not long now, before the new Oracle awakens."
It was Lord Sama that broke the silence, though he spoke softly, reluctantly, enough.
"She must be protected – now more than ever," replied Lord Veda, emotion still thick in his voice, but it never wavered. "A great advantage it is, that we will not have to spare any time to search for her."
"Yes, Oracle Lovegood has given us a boon, indeed, in scrying for the new generation," agreed Lady Ayur, though her tone was tinged with sadness. "Even though it cost her much of her remaining time, she has gifted us with the accuracy in this endeavor we could only have hoped for."
"So, we head for Forks," stated Lord Sama decisively, meeting each of his companions gazes.
"We head for Forks," they agreed.
Never before had any Quileute pack, past and present, faced a threat such as this. And to think that the hostility came, not from their sworn enemy, but from their kinfolk! Before this battle, they wouldn't have ever believed such a thing possible – let alone that it would actually occur. Yet, here they were. The battle raged around him and Jacob exerted as much willpower as he could, not prepared to give in to despair.
Not long previously, when it became evident that the Quileute pack, by themselves, would not manage to defeat the opposition, the Council of Forks, Hermione, as well as the Cullens that had remained joined in the fray, helping wherever and as much as they could.
The ascension of the full moon had also aided them, somewhat. Greyback and his pack had become preoccupied as the full moon forced them to transform. Taking advantage of this, Jake and the rest attempted to even the numbers out. But while they had managed to take out quite a few of the hostile wolves – getting rid of about a third of the other pack – they were still outnumbered, two to one.
While Jacob fought hard, with a determination and strength not found in many, he also spared a moment to check on the rest of his pack, find out how they were faring.
Leah was fighting alongside her brother and her mate, Hermione (it had taken them all some time to wrap their minds around that bit of news). They were facing off against two werewolves between the three of them, but it was still quite an even match so far. Sam and Paul were both taking on two werewolves each, and were fighting valiantly despite the hits they were taking. Every other member of his pack was teaming up in two's and three's to better ward of their opponents. Jacob himself was currently jumping from fight to fight, attempting to minimize the damage as much as he could, wherever he could.
One of the greatest worries for them was making sure that none of them sustained any bites from the werewolves – they had no idea how the lycanthropy virus would affect them and did not wish to risk it. Another source of concern, this time more for Jacob than any other pack member, was ensuring Bella's safety throughout. Of all present, she was the least trained, the least prepared to handle such a battle, and yet one of the most important people to him, personally. She was aware enough of her shaky abilities to not join in the fight, but the fact that she was staying out of the way was causing her to be rather conspicuous – especially to their adversaries, who were searching for any weakness to exploit.
It seemed that this realization hit both the Alphas – Jacob and Fenrir Greyback – at the same time. In fact, not a moment after Jake had had the thought, he whipped around instinctively to face his opponent, just in time to see the rogue werewolf rushing eagerly towards the gazebo – towards Bella.
His mind stopped as his heart sped up, while everything around him now seemed to be moving in slow motion with the sound muted – as if he was underwater. The fights surrounding him continued, and doubtless grew more desperate, without pause; none were aware of the deep terror that suddenly had a hold of Jacob; none were any wiser to the absolute shift of the Quileute Alpha's focus.
And suddenly, not a split second later, it was as though a switch was flipped. Time seemed to speed up, the sound became almost too loud, and Jacob moved. He leapt forward, running for all he was worth – he could not allow this monster to reach Bella, not under any circumstances, not if he could help it.
About halfway to Bella, Jake intercepted Greyback. With a powerful tackle to the werewolf's midsection, the Quileute Alpha and the werewolf Alpha went sprawling to the ground. They both recovered quickly enough, however, and were immediately locked in a fierce brawl. Jacob could swear the psychotic lycanthrope was smug about this – the feelings of arrogance and relish were practically rolling off of him in waves. If anything, this only served to fuel the Quileute's fury.
Jake and Greyback rolled a short distance, scrabbling with each other as they did, before they came to a stop. Both were back on their feet within seconds, snapping and snarling at each other. While the only emotions visible in Jacob's eyes were intense fury and determination; in Greyback's there was also disturbing glee. Not only did the insane werewolf get unreasonable amounts of joy from hurting others, from killing, he had now also found out the Quileute Alpha's Achilles heel.
Jake surged forward, not wanting or needing the lycanthrope to make the first move. He simply wanted to end this, desperate not to allow Greyback access to Bella.
He lunged for Greyback's throat, thinking if he could get a good enough hold he might do some serious damage. The werewolf, however, was not a stranger to fighting and ducked out of reach easily. The Quileute was not deterred, though, and swiped instead, catching Greyback in the face, leaving three deep gashes in his cheek.
A loud and vicious growl tore out of the werewolf's throat and a hellish fire lit up in his eyes. This was the turning point – for up until this moment, Jacob knew, Greyback had only been toying with him, not taking him or the fight seriously. Now he wanted blood, Jake's blood.
From then on Greyback became positively ferocious and, coupled with his natural affinity for cruelty, this turned him into a true monster. He held nothing back and fought as dirty as was possible. He swiped, bit, clawed at Jake with no hesitation, never letting up even for a second. For all the training Jacob and his pack have been doing recently, they had never faced an enemy such as this. Too soon Jake seemed to be tiring, his breath coming in short pants and his heart beating faster than it ever had. Fear was starting to take hold of the Quileute Alpha in a way he could not remember experiencing.
For the first time since becoming a shifter, Jake actually felt he might lose, but, worse yet, that he may let everyone he cared about and loved down. This caused the trepidation to rise to new levels, so much so that he began to lose his concentration. The hits kept on coming, but now Jake was taking more than he thought his body could handle. Bones that had been knitting themselves back together were now being broken anew, before they could heal fully. Cuts were remaining open, causing an alarming amount of blood loss.
And try as he might, Jacob could not call upon the power that had elevated him the day he had chased off the Lycans that had attacked his pack, his family. No matter what he did, no matter what he thought or how hard he concentrated, that absolute authority seemed lost to him now.
Were Harry and Hermione wrong in believing him the ultimate Alpha? It really did seem that way now, and this caused an even greater despair and resentment in Jake. What was the purpose in such great power if he could not wield it to help his family, to save his loved ones? Why was it deserting him now, of all times, when he had the utmost need of it?
Hopelessness took hold of the Quileute Alpha and seemed to control him fully. Never had he felt so useless, so pathetic.
Greyback, it seemed, sensed these feelings in Jacob immediately and relished them thoroughly. Coming at Jake at a run, he head-butted him full in the chest, cracking at least one more rib in the process and sending Jake sprawling to the ground. A fleeting thought struck the Quileute then – that he could just stay down, admit defeat, and let it all fall as it must. For that single moment, the idea was so potently appealing, and brought such great relief to the shifter Alpha, that he truly did think he'd simply lay there. But then he heard her.
She was calling out his name, crying out in the most heart-wrenching anguish. Cutting as it was to hear such pain from his beloved, it was exactly what Jacob needed to get his head right. This was his reminder that, for all the bleakness of the situation, there was always something worth fighting for, worth living for. How could he even think of putting Bella through such a loss? He had fought so long and so hard just to have her be a part of his life – was he really going to let her go so easily? Had he not vowed to always be there for her, to always fight for her, regardless of the type of monster he faced? And now it wasn't even the fiend that was defeating him, but his own thoughts, his own actions. He could not tolerate that.
With an energy he thought had deserted him, Jacob pushed himself back onto his feet, willing his body to heal faster than it was. He staggered for a single step, but then faced the werewolf fully, with rage and determination renewed. He used this as his armor. Greyback seemed to be thrown by this, surprised that the shifter would still face him, let alone with such resilience, such strength.
The Alpha werewolf's eyes flicked about him for a second, as though taking stock of his pack, of any back-up he might have. There was no one to turn to, though. Every other werewolf, and every shifter, was still currently engaged in their own fights.
Greyback took a single step forward, as if he were testing the waters. Jake stood his ground watching his opponent warily, but without the panic that had gripped him not long before. The werewolf paused, sensing the shift in the Quileute's demeanor. Using this hesitation to his advantage, Jake shot forward, jumping onto Greyback and biting him swiftly on his shoulder.
The werewolf yelped, more in surprise than pain, as they both went down once again. After wrestling for a short while, Greyback managed to roll out of Jake's hold and gain his feet. Looking around him shiftily once more, the werewolf lunged suddenly at the Quileute Alpha.
Jake was ready for him, having been watching him carefully, and let him come. At the last second, however, Greyback moved to the side, ducking around Jacob instead of crashing into him, as was expected. Confused at first, Jake could only turn and stare, presuming that Greyback would be right behind him, making another move. He wasn't, though, and Jacob felt as though his heart had stopped dead in his chest, frozen stiff.
The werewolf was already far ahead and making steady ground – straight towards his Bella.
Jacob ran after him almost immediately, but he was too far behind. The second it took to realize what Greyback was after was a second too long. Bella screamed, having no time, and indeed being too terrified, to do anything else. She seemed paralyzed by her fear.
Greyback readied himself to jump at her and all Jake could do was roar in frustration, in dread, knowing he'd never make it in time to save Bella from the attack.
Just then, Charlie appeared. It seemed to Jacob that he was like some mythical savior sent down from the heavens, such was the relief he felt at his Chosen being saved – and then the horror set in. Charlie materialized in front of Bella just as Greyback snapped his jaws closed, taking all of the damage of the assault onto himself.
Chief Swan cried out in pain as both he and Greyback crashed into the gazebo, scattering all the non-fighters who had been standing there, out of the way and in relative safety.
"Dad!" Bella screamed and she was unceremoniously flung aside, but staying focused solely on her father. "No!"
An instant later, Jake was there, slamming into Greyback and forcing him off of Charlie. Not stopping at that, Jacob grappled and pushed and rolled the werewolf as far as he could.
Bella's total torment at seeing her father harmed was ringing in Jacob's ears, reverberating through his heart, and now, finally, something other than blood was thrumming through Jake's veins. His elusive power was coming through at last, offering itself for the shifter Alpha's use – and use it, he did.
Jake could feel the ultimate Alpha's control taking hold of him, almost like an alien entity making use of his body, even though it was doing his bidding. The Quileute did not hinder it in the slightest. It was still foreign to him, yes, but it was going to help him defeat Greyback now, and that was all that mattered.
With that thought, Jacob attacked with apparent abandon, and without conscience. He wanted to hurt, he wanted to kill, and in that moment it felt better than he ever thought it could. The Quileute Alpha did not want to think on that too much, for if he did he would be disturbed by what he found.
Jacob had never been a very vindictive person by nature. He never delighted in causing harm – he wasn't even fully accepting of being a shifter yet! While he would never back down from a fight, or think twice about using violence as a means of defense, killing was not something he took any pleasure in – even when killing Vampires he thought of it in a very detached way, as a task that needed to be completed, a job and not a sport.
Now, though, he felt exhilarated. He did not simply see this as his duty; he wanted this. He wanted Greyback killed, viciously, and he wanted to be the one to do it.
The werewolf, who was merciless but still quite perceptive, seemed to sense the great change in Jacob. He knew that something was irrefutably different, and that whatever it was would not work in his favor. Greyback tried to retreat upon grasping this, but the Quileute teenager was on him too quickly for him to get far.
Immediately, the change in dynamics was made obvious. Jake's hits were now far more accurate, and impossibly more powerful. He attacked with outwardly mindless ferocity, while still managing to keep his wits about him. The speed of the blows coming at the rogue werewolf also increased greatly, making sure that all he could do was defend – pointless though it appeared to be. Greyback realized that this was not normal, that this level of improvement, in so short a time, should not be attainable.
He could not contemplate that just then, however. His main focus was to get away. Retreating now would mean being able to fight again another day; staying would only mean death. A powerful kick to the werewolf Alpha's midsection caused him to not only become winded, but to fly through the air and into one of the many tree trunks surrounding them. He fell to the ground with a dull thud. Before he could get himself back on his feet, however, something happened.
Greyback suddenly froze up before convulsing, first slightly and then more violently. Jacob immediately understood what was happening. While this was the first time that the Quileute noticed the receding of the night, he was able to easily comprehend that the werewolf was now changing back. The time of the full moon was passed. This was it – the perfect moment for Jake to make his kill. And yet…
The moment of hesitation on Jacob's part was all that was needed, for before he knew it a man lay where once there was a werewolf. It was then that the Quileute Alpha realized something profound. A great, great difference existed between killing a ravaging monster and killing a human being – even if they were one and the same.
Fenrir Greyback by no means looked innocent as a person. He was quite tall, taller perhaps than even Jake himself. He had a feral look about him even now – as though he would truly think nothing of committing mass murder still. In fact, in spite of the change, he seemed an animal, a beast, now as he did before. But that did nothing to convince Jacob to end him. He doubted he could do it. He couldn't murder a human in cold blood, however strongly his instincts were yelling at him that he must.
But a being like Greyback could not be allowed to exist. He would never stop killing, never stop causing mayhem and shedding the blood of the innocent. He had to be destroyed.
Just as Jake decided what had to be done, though, the enemy Alpha was already on his feet. The Quileute readied himself for attack, but noted that Greyback still seemed far too weak to attempt anything. Before Jacob could take advantage of this, though, the werewolf gave him as much of a scowl as he could manage (which wasn't all that much, really), and turned on the spot. Jake would have found this to be very odd, but shock overtook him in the next instant.
Fenrir Greyback was gone!
A small pop sound, that was the only warning Jacob had received, and a split second later the werewolf simply vanished into thin air. Jake spun around frantically, fearing some sort of trickery, some illusion. He was very much alone now, though, and with no idea how that could have happened. He would have thought on this a bit more, but now was not the time. The situation he'd left behind to fight Greyback crashed, quite forcefully, back to the forefront of his mind.
Charlie… The Chief was bitten!
Rushing back to the open field, and the gazebo where Charlie was, Jake was met with the most surreal sight. Every last member of the werewolf pack, except for their dead, was gone. Judging by the looks on the faces of everyone still on the field, something similar (if not the same thing) to what Greyback just did must have occurred. None of the fighters on their side, that he could see, seemed too terribly injured, though. Those that were would have probably already been treated by Dr Cullen. In any event, Jacob did not pause for too long before heading straight to the sheltered structure of the clearing.
Before he could utter a word, Bella was in his arms and holding on to him like a lifeline. She was strangely quiet, though; he couldn't hear her crying and there wasn't even the telltale shaking of the body that came with silent sobs.
"Bella?" the Quileute asked, confusion lacing his tone.
When no answer was forthcoming from the brunette, Dr Cullen stepped forward with his own father, Billy, right beside him.
"I believe she is currently in shock, Jacob," he said gently, looking slightly ragged for someone who didn't get tired at all.
It was then that Jake looked past him and into the gazebo itself. He supposed anyone would look worn out after fighting to keep so many people alive – in the combat sense as well as medically.
The Alpha felt his throat closing up as the thoughts he'd been deliberately avoiding came back to him. He swallowed with difficulty, though, and asked the question he dreaded so much.
"D-did we… How many did we… lose?"
For they had to have lost at least some people; the werewolves were far too vicious, and the attack so spontaneous, that it would be a miracle if they'd come out of the battle with just injuries.
Instantly, a look of deep sadness took over Carlisle's face, and there was nothing his dad could do to hide the sorrow in his eyes. Neither averted their gaze, however.
"I'm so sorry, son," his father said, his voice thick with remorse. "The youngest could not manage the assault; they had not even finished their training yet. Collin and Brady were lost and… and Seth, he…"
His dad could not seem to get out the sentence, his voice cracking badly.
"Seth… what, dad?" he asked urgently, refusing to believe that his little shadow could be gone. It wasn't possible, definitely wasn't true.
"He's not dead, Jacob," assured Dr Cullen, coming to his father's aid, but his tone wasn't really comforting Jake any. It was too heavy with uncertainty, with unhappiness.
"But something's happened, right?" the teenager asked through gritted teeth. "Something bad."
"Seth was bitten, Jake," his father answered gravely, his eyes brighter than usual.
"And what does that mean?" asked the tall teen, his muscles tight with the effort of restraining his reaction.
"We cannot say," admitted Dr. Cullen sorrowfully. "We managed to get a large amount of the venom out of his system, but quite a bit had already seeped into his blood stream. We shall do all we can as far as research goes, but I have never come across a natural shifter who has been infected with lycanthropy. I do not know how this would affect Seth. He's resting for now."
Jacob swallowed hard and tightened his hold on Bella. If he wasn't holding her just then, he would have broken something by now – a lot of things, in fact.
"What about Chief Swan?" he asked instead, knowing that this required as much attention, but not knowing how much more he could take.
Bella tensed in his arms, a choking sob escaping her, but she said nothing.
"The infection spread a lot more quickly in Charlie," replied the doctor, and the Alpha could almost feel what was coming next. "I'm afraid, at the next full moon, Chief Swan will transform – he is now a werewolf."
No one can bring back the dead.
No matter how much power one had, no matter how much magic was used, or how many sacrifices were made, not anyone from any species could truly bring back the dead.
Hadn't he had to learn that the hard way, when he'd woken up realizing that he had lost almost everyone he had ever cared for, all those years ago? When he had understood that there would be no more chess with Ron, no more support from Neville, no more family?
Hadn't he had to teach Angela that very same lesson when she had lost her grandmother, her mentor and closest confidant? When she had been so crazed with grief that she would have done anything, at any expense, had he not had to painfully cause her to realize that her Nan was never coming back?
And hadn't he, so very recently, had to impress upon Jessica the dire consequences of even attempting such a thing, when she had had to kill her own friend? When she had had to look him in the eyes and coldly pull the trigger, knowing that it would save him, but at the expense of her own conscience?
Yet here Harry was, faced with one of his deepest, most long-lasting wishes – to have his mother be real and truly with him – and he was having the greatest difficulty remembering why holding on to her would be a mistake. For how could it be?
This was his mother! The woman who had given birth to him despite the impossibility of such a thing; the woman who loved him so very much that she had given her own life in order to preserve his. How could keeping her here, in actuality, be a mistake? Was it so wrong of him to want to? And he wanted to, so badly it physically hurt him. He did the only thing he could think of to ease the pain – he took a step forward.
With every step he took, the closer it brought him to his mother and the less the ache in him became. This must mean that he was doing the right thing then… right? But if that were true, why was it that the reduction of his pain did nothing to make him feel better, feel whole? In fact, something of a black hole, devoid of all feeling, seemed to be opening up inside of Harry. And the less hurt he felt, the bigger the void got. Something was missing, something vital to him. But what?
"Harry!" a voice suddenly yelled out to him, though it seemed to be very far away. "No, Harry!"
He knew that voice, he was sure of it. His steps faltered and he stopped, overcome with confusion – and fear. Whose voice was that? Who was it that had just pleaded with him so intensely, and with so much apparent need? He felt he should know the answer; why did he not know?
"Harry, darling?" a new voice queried sweetly – one that he could place instantly.
He looked up, his entire vision narrowing down to encompass only the woman before him, his beautiful mother. He was surely a terrible son. How could he have lost focus of her so easily?
"It is quite all right, sweetheart," Lily said sincerely, her eyes sparkling with love and affection (for him). "All will be forgiven, my son – all you have to do is come to me. That's it, Harry. Come to your mother."
For a moment, Edward could only watch helplessly as Harry took yet another step to the thing that looked so like his mother (as the Vampire knew from the pictures Harry had conjured up for him). Ironically, the bronze-haired being suddenly thought of how he had always, in the past, wished he could have met Lily Potter – the woman who held so much of his love's respect and adoration, the woman who had loved his Chosen so much she had given her life for him.
But not like this, Edward thought fearfully, miserably. Not like this.
He was on the verge of calling out to his mate once again, but never got the chance to. A hand, stronger and more unforgiving than he had ever felt, closed around his throat then – and suddenly Edward's face was only inches from Dumbledore's. The anger and hate in the Ancient's eyes were hot enough to scorch.
"I should have killed you when I had the chance," the elder Vampire spat, his grip tightening.
He flung his arm out before Edward could think to respond, and the Cullen heir found himself flying through the air before crashing resoundingly into the rock wall of the underground chamber. He saw his siblings move to his aid, but there way was almost immediately blocked off by Jane and Alec, along with the remnants of the Volturi guard. More than help, however, Edward needed Harry to remain safe – and it did not seem as though he would be on his own, the closer he drew to the Inferius.
"Alice!" he yelled out, not even getting up from where he had fallen. "Alice – make sure she doesn't touch him! His skin must not come into contact with that thing's too often!"
Without waiting for a response, he then turned to Jasper. "Kill the Lycans! None must be spared and no blood of theirs must spill into the inner ritual circle."
He was about to turn his attention to his own conflict with Dumbledore, but suddenly found himself sailing through the air once again. The force with which he hit the wall this time was such that a large crater formed in it, stones still crumbling to the floor where they broke off. The power of the impact also managed to dislocate his left shoulder. The pain was minimal, but the fact that he felt it at all was testament to the potency of Dumbledore's attack.
Well, if the Ancient was not going to hold anything back, then Edward certainly would not either. Picking himself up off the ground, resetting his shoulder joint as he did, the only thought running through his mind was to make Dumbledore pay for all he had done – not just to him, but to his Harry especially.
Chaos was not something that Jasper Whitlock (now Hale), as a soldier in two wars, was appreciative of – especially if he could not turn it to his advantage. He particularly was not fond of the disorder that came from not knowing what must be done, his role in any given situation.
As such, he was extremely grateful upon hearing Edward's command – there really was no room for choice – to take out the Lycans. Not only was this a definite action that needed completion, but it also involved what he did best: fighting, with losing not being an option.
Immediately, the once-Major moved to get the task done. Just as quickly, though, he found himself hindered. Jane stood before him – a tiny thing that none would imagine being any kind of threat, but with a smile on her face that could freeze hearts instantaneously. Jasper stilled, waiting for the torture to start; there was no known way to block the little Vampire's power, after all. A fraction of a second later, however, it was Jane shrieking, a sound like metal being ripped apart, and then it was over and her body was tossed aside like a rag doll, about ten feet away from her head. Demetri, it turned out, once Jasper looked up from the body parts, had gotten behind Jane as she stepped in front of the soldier. He had decided to give away his position as traitor to the Volturi by assisting Jasper – not that his role as a spy would matter now. One way or another, the Volturi guard would disband after this night, either dead or running.
Sparing only a moment to nod to the Italian Vampire in thanks, Jasper turned to take on any and all opponents bound to be surrounding him. Only there was no one to take on.
Jasper felt awe that was colored with surprise; he could not explain it. Every member of the Volturi guard, from those that were left, was already engaged with all those who had come here with Harry. The ex-Major was paralyzed for a moment and all he could do was stare – a first for him. Jasper, upon signing up for war, had expected camaraderie between him and the other soldiers. He learned rather quickly the naivety of his ideas. The other soldiers, it had turned out, were not fond of the fact that a 'boy' was so quickly rising in ranks, surpassing the rest of them, and he had become the outcast. And then, of course, as a part of Maria's coven (the Vampire that had turned him), he was tasked with the training and then killing of the newborns, once they'd outlived their usefulness. Needless to say, Jasper had speedily become accustomed to being the perpetual loner.
Alice had changed that, and quite fervently. Not a day went by that the empath wasn't profoundly grateful to her. She had, singlehandedly, pulled him out of a darkness that he had not believed there was any escape from. There would never be a time when Jasper forgot that he owed his little pixie everything. Of course, he had also learned quite fast that one did not say 'no' to tiny Alice.
This, then, made it all the more surprising that even Alice, his ever-lovely soulmate, could not convince him fully that they would one day be part of a family. And then beyond that, with the help of that very family, could not make him feel connected in any significant way – not to the rest of them. For Jasper had retained the feeling of being an outsider, regardless of the obvious, and quite real, family affections and atmosphere. He knew that they all loved him, and he knew that, in spite of his own cynicism, he loved them all in turn. Somehow, this had never been enough to cause the soldier to realize fully that he was a part of something, that he now was not only accepted, but that he belonged.
But now, in this singular moment, Jasper felt his wall break. The wall he had consciously built around himself so that no deep, no unmanageable harm could come to him. This was the wall that had ensured, over the many decades he had roamed the earth, that he could always remain safely separate from everything around him. It guaranteed his ability to remain aloof, in control – even emotionless if need be. And now it was crumbling around him.
For here was concrete proof that he was not alone.
Demetri, who he had not really known for too long, and honestly did not know whether to trust or not until now, was now taking on an enraged Felix – the best fighter the Volturi had. And Jessica had managed to slip those specialized bands, the ones that nullified Vampire strength and speed, on two guards and was battling both so that Angela (who was still much too weak) did not have to be a part of this. Angela's dad, who people tended to overlook due to his calm demeanor, was using his magic to its fullest extent, holding back a group of Vampires that had no special gifts of their own.
He was truly a part of something greater than himself. He always had been, he realized, but now he could see it.
There was Mrs. Stanley and Lady Weber, taking on Chelsea and Heidi, holding them off with a practiced combination of magic and weaponry – knowing, through Jasper's information, that Heidi was probably the better combatant, and that Chelsea was the one causing everyone to be loyal enough to fight so hard, through her special ability to manipulate bonds. And Mr. Stanley, the consummate hunter, even though he had officially decided to give up the job, keeping Alec occupied enough so that he had no time to use his own gift – that of cutting off all the senses of his opponents. Lord Newton, meanwhile, was managing to keep Afton, Chelsea's mate, at bay, making sure he did not get anywhere near any of his allies to pair off.
He could not deny that, even if these people had no special ties to him, they were still with him. They had his back. The truth of this was awe inspiring. It also caused him to make the decision, quite easily, to start showing his gratitude to his family more openly than he had done before. They deserved that much, and so much more.
"You all right, son?" Lord Newton asked when he caught enough time for a breather, a small frown of worry on his face.
And Jasper could only respond in complete honesty. "Never better."
The elder Newton could only give a brief nod in return, and then was quickly pulled back into his fight. He did manage to get out one more statement, though.
"Best get to it, then – they don't stand a chance against you, not isolated and weakened as they are."
"Right," said Jasper, suddenly remembering the task set out for him, and chastising himself slightly for losing sight of it in the first place.
He did not spend any additional time on distractions, despite all his profound realizations taking less than a minute. This mattered little, though. Being a Vampire, and one wise to the ways of war at that, the empath knew that the tide could change in seconds, sometimes less.
Before anyone could blink, Jasper was already in front of the set of built-in cages that held the Lycans. They were each imprisoned in a separate jail, probably to stop them from taking each other out. As the blond being was reaching for the cage bars immediately before him, intending to rip them right out of the wall, a voice spoke up.
"It would be far easier, and much quicker, if you were to take me out of this equation, young man."
The voice was soft, and quite feeble from disuse, but Jasper heard it all the same. It came from the stall directly next to the one he was about to break open, and belonged to the man known as Nicolas Flamel – the father of immortality, as Harry had said.
Frail though the man certainly looked (having had no Elixir to replenish himself with for the duration of his imprisonment), there was a hard glint of determination in his eyes – something that spoke greatly of his wealth of courage. Here was a man who was willing to die for a cause he believed in, and purely to simplify their fight.
"It would, yes," responded Jasper seriously, meeting Lord Flamel's gaze directly. "Believe me, none more than I can attest to the sense of such a strategy. But just because something is easy that does not make it right. I cannot, in good conscience, kill you – an innocent – when anther means are available to me."
Respect could now be seen on Nicolas' features, and a smile that made Jasper think that he had passed some test with flying colors.
"Besides," the soldier continued, refocusing on the cage in front of him, "the Lycans would have to be destroyed eventually, anyway. There is no sense in putting it off."
With that, and a nod to the Lord Flamel, Jasper set out to get the job done.
Alice did not truly realize why not allowing the Inferius to touch Harry was of importance; however the urgency of Edward's tone, as well as her complete trust in her brother, spurred her into action. In less than a second she was by Harry's side. She did not touch him, for he seemed to be in some sort of trance. She did not know how he would react to being shocked out of it, or if there would be any negative effects.
The Seer decided that a non-confrontational approach might be best in this situation. For all that this… woman was the enemy – and, from Edward's tone, quite a dangerous one – Harry was caught up enough in her illusion to portray nothing but wistful adoration. If the Cullen were to be challenging right now, she would be seen as the antagonist. She could not afford that.
"Would you introduce me, Harry?" Alice asked softly, but injecting as much of her optimistic self into her tone as she could.
The green-eyed being faltered and something, some form of recognition perhaps, flickered behind his gaze.
"What?" he asked, his voice barely a whisper. Alice could pick up the confusion in his tone, though – as if he were waking up after a long sleep to surroundings utterly unfamiliar to him.
"To your mom, Harry," answered the small Vampire, making sure to use his name often as this seemed to draw his attention successfully. "Would you not like to introduce me?"
"Oh," said Harry monotonously, but then he seemed to liven a bit, shaking off some the fog surrounding him, but not all. "Oh! Of course! Of course, I want to."
He turned ever-so-slightly to face Alice, but the majority of his focus remained on the thing he believed to be his mother. The Seer did not let this get her down, however. If she could get even this much from Harry, then he was not completely lost.
"Alice," Harry continued, still talking softly, like he was aware this was an illusion and anything louder would shatter it, "I would like you to meet my mother, Lily Potter. Mom, this is Alice Cullen, Ed-Edward's… Edward… Where is Edward?"
The young Daemon was shaking his head now, trying to clear his mind, regain some clarity.
"Harry!" called out the Inferius sharply, slightly losing the tranquil nature she was trying to achieve, no doubt due to her extreme irritation at being interrupted again. It seemed that Inferi had limited hold over their emotions; this probably meant, inferred Alice, that they could snap at the slightest provocation. She hoped the backlash would, at least, be something they could manage.
The cracks now forming in the Inferius' control seemed to manifest physically. Its features began to flicker somehow, like when signal is being lost on a television; Alice did not know what this could possibly mean, if this was some sort of magical interference signifying that this undead thing was gaining more power, or it meant it was weakening. She really hoped it was the latter. Before she could even think further on it, though, the flickering stopped. "Look at me, Harry dear," the thing continued, much calmer now, "only me. Edward is not here. There is only me."
"But why?" cried raven-haired being, sounding almost as though his fight for control was physically hurting him. "Why is Edward not here? I… I came here… I came here with him. I know I did."
"Edward is here, Harry," Alice assured quickly, seeing that the turmoil in his mind was fast becoming panic. "He's here and he's… he's okay."
For now, she thought to herself, taking a second to glance in her brother's direction and seeing him attempting to hold his own against Dumbledore. She could not think on that right now, however – if anything were to happen to Harry, Edward would never forgive her. She had to focus.
When she looked back, the flickering of the Inferius' features was back, and more pronounced than before. When the wavering stopped suddenly, Alice had a split second to take note of what she guessed was the true visage of the undead thing. The features of Lily Potter were still visible, but it was as if they were now translucent – it was like the skin was still there, but was almost transparent and one could see right through to the skeleton beneath it. This was probably the oddest, most grotesque thing the Vampire had ever seen.
And then the Inferius let out an inhuman shriek of rage, and all thinking seized.
This was no ordinary scream. This was the type of scream that would stop any being in his or her tracks, disorienting them for at least a moment – that is if the Inferius did not continue screeching. With her Vampiric hearing, though, the feeling that Alice was experiencing then was akin to that of one having one's eardrums blown.
This dazed and distracted her enough that she became quite an easy target to enemy.A hand clamped around Alice's neck with a vice-like grip, which was saying something considering she was a one of the most resilient beings in existence. It was not the tight grasp, though, that caused the Seer to be lost to her surroundings, her present. Some other power, something unheard of to the Vampire and caused by the Inferius, was taking hold of her. Knowing this did nothing, however, for within a fraction of a second the realization was gone, and Alice's mind was locked in unreality.
Puppet… Weapon… Control… Manipulation… There were some things that would never fail in setting off the once renowned temper of Harry James Potter.
And though Harry's head was still foggy, and though it still seemed such an effort to form even the simplest of thoughts, being used, being played was a feeling the young being was so very familiar with that he could pick up on it, sometimes utterly unconsciously.
Harry shook his head, trying to get the mist clouding it to dissipate. He looked around, desperately trying to find some frame of reference, something to ground him in reality so that he did not lose himself completely. But all around him was chaos. Mini battles were being fought in every direction, and the sights were so confused that he would not have been able to say who, if anyone, had the upper hand. The temptation to panic was so very strong just then; how long had he been hypnotized by the thought of his mother alive, that he had failed to notice all this happening around him? How had he managed to miss everything descending into such a level of turmoil? There was no excuse he could possibly give, but some part of Harry was aware that to give into it, to fall into a state of guilt and alarm, would be too damaging to handle.
Yet despite all the violence around him, Harry felt through his magic that he was needed somewhere specific. He latched onto this. Now that he was out of his daze he needed, so very desperately, to help all he could. It was not any of the fights, however, as he might have thought, where aid was required. The pull he was feeling now was not frantic, but far subtler, more dangerous. It was as if the plea for help was a reluctant one.
Turning again, though he had the craven urge to avoid facing this at all costs, the Daemon sought out, and almost immediately found, his mother – or what he had so wanted to believe could be Lily Potter. In a single look, though, that delusion was now firmly shattered. It was as if the green-eyed being had suddenly developed x-ray vision. The skin was still there, he knew, but the skeleton underneath was very visible. Other changes had occurred atop this most warped one, though. The flowing, shiny red locks the Inferius had had, not a minute ago, now hung limp and unhealthy; the white gown it had worn, so striking, was now a tattered, moth-eaten mess; and the beautiful hands of a mother, soft but strong at once, had aged and lengthened unnaturally and were now sporting sharp black claws.
Claws that were wrapped firmly around Alice Cullen's neck.
Before he knew it, the ritual knife leapt back into Harry's hand; his magic had reacted instinctively, aiding him without him having any conscious thought. In a single step, the Lord Potter was directly behind the Inferius. And one swift motion later, he had the knife embedded deeply into her back (he doubted very much he could have gone through with his attack if he were facing it), his magic assisting him in causing fatal damage to its heart and the center of its power. The shriek that followed was incomparable to anything anyone had heard before. Without fail, every single being currently aware in the chamber dropped to their knees, their hands clutching at their ears.
Harry, having dealt with Inferi on a number of previous occasions, was better equipped to control his reaction. This meant that he was able to see the thing's dying moments, and what he saw would stay with him for the rest of life.
The visage of the undead being flickered uncontrollably between its true form, the skeletal image, and the face of his own mother. In that moment, while knowing, academically, how irrational and inaccurate it was, Harry could not stop a single thought from entering his mind: I just killed my own mother. He managed to squash the notion down ruthlessly, but he knew that it would never be gone from him – especially not when, in the final seconds of its existence, the Inferius' eyes turned a brilliant, emerald green….
And then it was gone.
With a fiery burst, the Inferius disintegrated in his arms. Alice let out a cry, more of surprise than of pain, and stumbled backwards. The Daemon had no time to focus on her, however, or even to indulge in mourning for the renewed loss of his mother (even though she had never even been there in reality), as he was suddenly flung back and into the ground.
Shaking his head, after it had slammed into the rocky floor, Harry looked up to find an incensed Dumbledore towering over him. The raven-haired being had lost his grip on the knife he had been wielding not a second ago, and now saw that it was the Ancient Vampire's possession. The fight that followed, as the elder being attempted to stab Harry, was brief but intense. Dumbledore was crazed with anger, and thus not as skilled as normal, and Harry… he found he still suffered with the deep reflexive refusal to truly harm Albus.
This put the younger being almost entirely on the defensive. This turned out to be unwise as, before long, one of Dumbledore's slashes caught Harry as he dodged a blow, opening a slit in his side. It was not overly deep, but it was long. It also achieved sufficient distraction for the Daemon, allowing the Ancient to find enough of an opening that, when he next stabbed, the blade sunk into Harry on the same side. Thankfully, it was a relatively harmless shot, as it missed everything vital. It still hurt, though.
Wrenching the blade free, Dumbledore raised the knife to strike again, but was abruptly tackled to the ground a few feet away from Harry. He knew that it was Edward that had come to his aid, but his focus was pulled elsewhere.
Bright light began to crackle around the ritual knife, which was still in the air after the Vampire had lost his grip on it. Dazzling pale blue and purple danced immediately around the blade, and only the blade, like electricity but more intense.
Harry felt his eyes widen and he looked around himself frantically, confirming what he feared. He was inside the ritual circle. The knife was drenched in his blood and the magic had not yet dissipated.
A wordless cry of denial spewed forth from Harry, but there was no time to do anything else. The force of gravity, now amplified by the ritual magic, pulled the knife into the ground, blade first.
A supreme silence overtook the cavern. Every person still there was frozen, focused on where the dagger had just disappeared, knowing instinctually that something was about to happen. It did not take long.
At first, only a slight sound could be heard, like static. It grew gradually louder, until it filled the underground room. A crack of thunder and, unexpectedly, lightning began to shoot out of the ground in every direction. There was a single moment of stillness before all hell broke loose as everyone attempted to protect themselves in some way. This had the positive effect of breaking Harry out of his confused stupor. He had to protect them – never mind that some of these beings were attempting to kill him and those he loved. This unforeseen occurrence seemed to put them all on the same level.
He knew that, with the rite being carried out, there was no way for him to leave the ritual area – not until it was over – but he did manage to cast a powerful protego (the shield charm) around the circle itself. This ensured that no one outside the area was in harm's way. He then cast a smaller one around his person, not particularly liking the idea of being struck by lightning. And then all he could do was wait it out. Attempting to stem unknown magic would only cause undue dangers, he was sure of it.
A single lightning bolt, brighter than the rest, shot directly up the center of the cavern. It hit the roof of the chamber before shooting straight back down into the floor. Cracks, wide and ominous, began to spread through the ceiling, like a spider's web forming at an accelerated rate before their very eyes. It was not this, however, that grabbed everyone's attention.
What looked to be a rip opened up in the very air above the point of the blade's entry – as though the very fabric of the world was being torn apart. Transfixed, they could not help but watch, in morbid fascination, as the tear got wider – a breach forming where there should be none.
"W-what's hap… happening…?" stuttered an overwhelmed Jessica.
There was certainly fear in her voice, Harry could tell, but for the most part this was not what caused the hesitancy of her speech. It was the power. For out of the break, getting ever larger by the second, an oppressive sort of magic was seeping in, making the very air they breathed heavier and more difficult to take in.
Harry found he could not answer the teenager, though. This was in small part because he did not fully comprehend, but largely because he was terrified of said answer should his suspicion be proved correct.
But then he saw it – and he knew.
Deep blackness, similar to that of a starless midnight sky, was creeping into the cavern through the newly formed hole. Viscous, like thick tar, though Harry instinctively knew it was near intangible, the… substance continued on. And while it did not look it, it was clear that it was sentient – a rather terrifying realization for them all.
"The Core," Harry breathed, more to himself than anyone else, though they all heard, "the Core is opening…."
Harry's own blood was the key.
Author's Note: Please let me know what you guys thought – I'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you :) Also, the voting (Prequel or Sequel) is still open…. (Remember: both will eventually be written and posted; I just want to know from you guys what I should focus on first.)