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Beginnings: The Keeper of Swyn Llyfr


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*Liliana*

*Liliana*

    The Storyteller

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  • House:Ravenclaw
I've been wanting to write this story for a long while. It deals with the First War, but it's told with a different twist. It involves all the Marauders of course, but the main focus is on Lily Evans and Riona Dyrdra. Friends from childhood, the two women are led to two completely different sides of the war and must decide what they must sacrifice, including their friendship, to save what's truly important. Questions of what makes magical creatures and what their roles are in a wizard-dominated world are also raised - as well as spots of humor and romance, just to make this story REALLY complicated. :P

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Beginnings: The Keeper of Swyn Llyfr

by Liliana R.


Disclaimer: All things in this story that do not belong to JK Rowling are mine. Please do not use this story without my permission. Rated PG-15 for violence and language.


~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ -
Prologue

I am the only one willing to tell our story.

There are others, but they want to forget - they want to move on with their lives, they want to try to empty themselves of all that's happened...as if they could ever be fulfilled again. They won't. I won't.

And yet, what I remember is so much more than a justification of where we've been and what we've done. We were friends, first and foremost. Only after we found the Swyn Llyfr did everything change.

Our story should be told for future generations that may see Him rise again. Our story should be told for those we've left behind - so they can remember us.

And, as stories often do, this one begins at an end.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

One: At the Brink


All I could think was, This is my commencement day.

As I looked around my dormitory, my gaze fell on a formal black robe with a bright, round blue collar and cuffs placed on the foot of my bed. My mind suddenly perked up and the dormitory, the morning, and everything else disappeared.

That was why I had woken up so early. I hadn't slept throughout the whole night. And like whispers, my dreams came back to me: darkness and screams, loud stampedes and yells sounding in the distance, a pair of eyes, so penetrating and knowing, as though they understood things about me I never wanted anyone to know.

"But it was all a dream," I murmured, running a hand over my flushed face. I don't know why I was surprised. I had been having similar nightmares for the past few months. Funny how we talk to ourselves for reassurance, as if speaking words of comfort could make what we want to believe come true. I dismissed my bad nights as results of the stress I've had with last minute schoolwork and career interviews before the big day.

Sitting up in bed and rubbing my itching nose, I gazed out of the dormitory window to the right of my bed while I blinked away the haziness of sleep. The fresh daylight skirted around the Forbidden Forest to wrap around the castle's towers, greenhouses, and Quidditch Pitch. It was the kind of morning that would last into the afternoon.

I glanced at my roommates, who were in varied states of sleep with mouths open, heads on the foot of their beds, or wrapped in cocoon-shaped bedspreads. No wonder - it was only a quarter after six. Only mad people were awake at this hour.

An insistent pecking at my window jarred my thoughts. I looked up in surprise and saw that it was Aegle, Lily Evans' owl, at my window with a letter in her beak. Her impatience told me that she had been trying to catch my attention for several minutes, so I quickly jumped out of bed and let her in. Handing me the letter, she stared at me expectantly.

"So Lily wants an answer right away, does she?" I asked, petting her tawny head. Aegle hooted in response, nudging the letter in my hand.

"Shh, don't wake anyone up. They'll have my head for waking them up so early," I warned, opening the hastily written letter.

Riona,

Come and meet Alice and me in the Great Hall for THE LAST Hogwarts breakfast. Alice says she wants to plan out what we should wear for the concert this afternoon. And she says that we have to have matching hairstyles for the graduation ceremony tonight. She's such a dear to want everything perfect, but I just let her talk. She will never get me into wearing a fluffy dress for the concert, and I'm sure you don't want her to bedeck your hair in ribbons. I need your help if I want to fight off the fluffy dress idea.

Lily

So it seems no one could sleep last night - at least none of my friends - maybe there was something in the pumpkin juice Sirius Black gave us yesterday for lunch. If it was actually pumpkin juice, that is.

I scribbled a note on the back of Lily's letter and gave it to Aegle, who cuffed me on the wrist for taking so long. Before I could protest however, she stepped off the windowsill and flew away into the hot sunrise.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"But this dress would look just lovely with your hair and eyes, Lily!"

"Alice, I don't like dresses. I've never liked dresses. I believe my mother when she said that I was born wearing pants. That's what I feel most comfortable in," I said in my sweetest tone. Yet the frown that clouded my face showed I was anything but comfortable at the moment.

Alice Kennicott, on the other hand, was all smiles. "But you haven't even seen the dress, Lily. It's just perfect for you, really. Give it a chance! You'll look absolutely beautiful for James," she added offhandedly, giving me a knowing glance out of the corner of her eyes.

At this I hesitated in my raging protest and blushed hotly. My relationship with James would celebrate its first year anniversary this July, and I had been wondering what special thing I could do for him. Alice knew this all too well. But she didn't know James - he wouldn't notice a new dress if the dress slapped him in the face.

My thoughts were startled by someone rudely pushing past me, knocking my shoulder. I looked around to snap a comment, but I stopped short when I saw Severus Snape's black eyes glaring at me as he sat down at the rowdy Slytherin table. I scowled back at him. What was his problem? If he had heard us talking about James, perhaps the mere mention of my boyfriend's name ticked him off. I stuck out my tongue at him and whipped around, tossing back my hair. I had had enough of his male menopausal moods ever since last year, when James and I started dating. No matter how hard I had tried to restore the chummy friendship Sev and I used to have, he refused to even speak to me. That was just fine with me - if he wanted to include me in the years-long feud he had with James, so be it! I sighed.

Fortunately Riona chose this moment to interrupt my pity party for one and plopped down next to Alice, startling Alice so much that she dropped her spoon in her porridge and splattered the table with the sticky stuff. Alice gasped and quickly took out a clean white handkerchief, wiping away the porridge from her manicured hands.

"At war this early?" Riona asked sleepily, serving herself a glass of orange juice. She eyed Severus across the tables and then arched an eyebrow at me.

"It's about time," I said, the relief in my voice causing Alice up at me suspiciously. "I mean, you almost missed our breakfast together," I added hastily.

"Luckily I was already awake by the time your dear owl arrived ready to break my window," Riona said, buttering a piece of toast.

"Aegle can be persistent!" I defended my old but agile owl stoutly. "But we were afraid that you were going to stay in bed all day - on this day, of all days!"

"I wanted to let you stay in bed. I mean you haven't been getting a lot of sleep lately, what with those nightmares and all," Alice remarked, patting Riona on the back in concern. "Your eyes are drooping and you're too pale."

"You do look really bad," I elaborated, a twinkle in my eye as I tapped my wand on the table. A juicy red apple jumped into my palm from the fruitbowl, and I took a large bite.

Riona frowned in annoyance, and quickly glanced around for a change of subject. Then she noticed the empty seat with a hint of disappointment in her slender face. "Where's Remus?"

I smirked knowingly, chewing on my apple. "He's still in bed..." I crunched on my apple loudly and winked at Alice, and we giggled at Riona, whose pale skin was rapidly shifting to a bright tomato-red color.

Riona cleared her throat loudly, frowning. She spotted the article Alice had ripped out of Witch Weekly's fashion section and smirked. "Alice, you'e not going to get Lily in a dress. She would rather be eaten alive by rabid dragons."

I arched my eyebrows approvingly and nodded. "You always know how to say the right thing, Riona."

Alice sighed and folded the article, tucking it under her half-empty plate. "I just thought that since this was our last day together, we could get dressed up a little bit."

"Don't worry," I reassured her, patting her hand. "Riona's getting dressed up for you. She's even wearing a dress."

I laughed as Riona cringed. While Alice squealed at my announcement, Riona shot me an I-will-get-you-for-this look that I simply grinned at.

Fortunately for Riona, James, Peter and Sirius, who decided to walk into the Great Hall just at that moment, saved Riona from further torment.

"Are you still talking about clothes?" James asked in amusement, as though he never bothered to get dressed in his life. I smiled at him and scooted over so that he could sit beside me. He planted a kiss on my cheek and hooked an arm around me, taking a bite of my apple.

"No, we're talking about the commencement concert tonight," I said, before Alice could interject. "We were wondering which band Dumbledore booked for it."

"It better be a band that plays actual music," Sirius spoke up, leaning over James and snatching a toast off Riona's plate, ignoring her glare. "Not that classical junk that McGonagall tried to get us to dance to at our End-of-the-Year ball last year."

Peter scurried over to James's other side and poured himself more pumpkin juice. "I kind of liked it - didn't you, James?"

"No, it sounded like kneazles screaming bloody murder, and I prefer to keep my eardrums, thanks," James said cheerfully. "But you didn't even make it to the ball, Sirius," he remembered, a slow smirk spreading over his face as he glanced at his friend.

Sirius grinned. "Oh yeah, that was the ball I took Patricia Monkus to, and we didn't even make it pass the gardens because we were too busy snogging and then -"

"Oh, that's where you did -" Peter interrupted, excited as he also remembered.

"Thank you, that's all the detail we need to know," Riona said loudly, rolling her eyes at the goofy looks on the guys' faces.

"But that was such a, erm, triumphant night for Sirius," James assured me, with Sirius sniggering.

"His finest hour," Peter echoed.

"One of my finest hours,"Sirius corrected, stretching his arms proudly, amidst the blokes sniggers.

I cast them all a wary look. "Hopeless - all of you are hopeless." For better effect, I lightly punched the pervert who was my boyfriend in the stomach. He playfully groaned and winked at me.

"But that doesn't make sense," Riona countered, shifting in her seat to confront Sirius. "There can't be many fine hours - the whole meaning of the phrase is to single out only one, right?"

Sirius opened his mouth to retort, but then snapped it shut. "That's a trick question. Where's Remus when you need him?" he mumbled.

"Oh, quite !@#$ed upstairs," said James with a grin. "We got him royally drunk last night, in celebration for our breaking out of this place for good. Poor bloke couldn't handle all the revelry. With the calming potion I gave him though, he'll be ready to drink some more tonight, no worries."

"Boys," Alice exhaled noisily, summing up the conversation quite well. "I'm glad Frank isn't so immature."

"How do you know?" Sirius accused, folding his arms behind his head. "You and Frankie have only been going out for a few months. He might be a righteous pervert."

"Like you blokes?" I asked, grinning.

"Not quite up to our level, but getting there,"James replied, kissing the top of my head. Peter chuckled, accidentally spilling juice on his shirt.

"He hates it when you call him Frankie, Sirius," said Alice, frowning. "And anyway, the length of a relationship doesn't always indicate how well you know a person. You can know a person completely for years and not know them at all, or know them for just a few months and understand them completely."



A flurry of students ran past our table, and trailing behind them was a tall dark-haired boy, poring over an open book stacked upon half a dozen others in his arms. Severus was walking absent-mindedly through the Great Hall, his shoulders hunched in concentration. As he began to walk past our table, he glanced up, as if he felt my gaze. His black eyes met mine, and I quickly looked away, returning to our table's conversation. Severus silently strolled past me.

"For example," Alice was saying, "I've known Sirius for four years and James for six , but I feel like Ive known the both of you for your entire lives."

At this the boys let out shouts of protest.

"No way!"

"Yeah, right!"

"Alice is the type that can size you up correctly within ten minutes she's known you," I said, raising my voice over their objections.

"In other words, Alice has all the right connections to gossip," Riona spoke up. "Very useful."She and I exchanged reminiscent nods.

"What about me?"Peter squeaked. "Do you know as much about me?"

Alice frowned, trying to remember. "No, not really. But that's because you're always so quiet, I suppose. Oh, and our families didn't know each other before Hogwarts like my family knew the Blacks and Potters."

"Well, James and Sirius aren't exactly complicated specimens of the male species," Riona observed, smiling over the rim of her glass as she finished off the orange juice.

"No, they're completely transparent," I agreed offhandedly. "I bet you," I went on, studying Sirius and James with a glint of fun in my eyes, "That Alice knows several things you guys never thought were kept completely secret."

James and Sirius stared at us in disbelief while Alice smiled primly, patting her blonde curls.

"Why did Remus and I get detentions last week?"James demanded.

"You switched Professor Slughorn's grade books for ones that ignited when used," Alice responded promptly.

"How did I sneak firewhiskey into the Hufflepuff House party last month?" Sirius pushed.

"You bribed the House-Elves with more work to do in the castle."

"All right then, James said, laughing. What was I afraid of when I was little?"

"Vampires."

"Lily told you!" James accused, glancing at me, his lovely and innocent girlfriend, beside him.

"Nope,"I insisted, shaking my head stoutly. "But I still think that childhood fear is cute," I teased, giving his cheek a light pinch.

"Ha, ha," James retorted.

"What was the name of the dog I had when I was seven?" Sirius asked, frowning.

"Padfoot."

Sirius blanched as James moved on. "All right. If you know this one, then we give in."

"Bring it on," Alice yawned, winking at Riona and me.

"How does Sirius feel about Gryffindor House?" James asked, casting her a shrewd look.

An impish smirk spread over Sirius's smug face, and Peter chortled in glee.

For a moment, Alice hesitated while Riona and I held our breaths.

"Hm," Alice began, with the grins on the boys' faces growing wider by the second. "That's a trick question. You see, Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor but he didn't want to be in it at first - he wanted to be in Slytherin like the rest of his family. But then he got used to it and even started liking Gryffindor once he met you, Remus and Peter, and once you all tossed dungbombs into the Slytherin common room to boost Sirius' morale. And now, Sirius is presently a raging, dyed-in-the-wool Gryffindor."

"Score!" I announced, high-fiving Riona across the table.

"Stalkers,"James muttered.

"If you lusted after us so much, all you had to do was say so, Kennicott," Sirius quipped.

Riona gasped and looked at me. "Did you tell them?"

I placed a hand against my cheek in mock-surprise. "You know, it might've slipped!"

Alice scowled. "I am utterly devoted to Frank, thank you!"

We all burst out laughing as Alice flushed brightly, her naivete exposed. Our mirth echoed against the gaping windows of the Great Hall and startled the few remaining breakfasting students.

To an outsider, this would not have seemed like the end of something. No one would've imagined that that in a few hours we would go our separate ways, leaving behind the school that had brought us together.

But right now all that mattered was this moment - and our laughter.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

My gaze involuntarily drifted to the full-length mirror facing me, examining the reflection of a pale girl whose dark eyes nearly engulfed her small face. I felt like my commencement robes were some kind of a ceremonial dress, preparing me for my entrance into the world beyond Hogwarts. Hm, black. Hopefully not a bad omen I thought. Yeah, right, Riona Ailbhe. Get a grip.

Shrugging, I turned to my night table and picked up a blue ribbon. I tossed my hair over my shoulder, its length reaching the floor. My hands dexterously wove through the thick hair, forming a long braid, and I tied the ribbon to its end. The only make-up I wore was around my eyes, since I detested the cakey stuff some other girls wore on their faces. Lily, I knew, would wrestle with the Giant Squid before putting any make-up on. And Alice? Well, Alice is just dear, make-up-loving Alice.

I suppose the rest of the graduating Ravenclaw girls were downstairs in the common room. I didn't know what else to do, now that I was finished dressing. It had taken a shorter time than I thought, and only this morning I had thought that getting dressed for commencement would be the hardest part. Nope. The hardest thing is going to be going down those stairs and knowing I won't be climbing them again as a Hogwarts student. Tomorrow morning everyone was leaving.

"Oh, enough of this," I snapped, shaking my head. "I just have to go downstairs like any normal person would do. Chat a bit, say good-bye to some people, and then go down to the grounds and join everyone else. After all, this is commencement. It's only the beginnings of things to come, right?" I glanced at the mirror once more, and my wide dark eyes stared back at me with no answer.
"That's the spirit," yawned a heavy witch from the tapestry above the mirror. She shifted her weight on her velvet couch, straightening her veil and raising a fist into the air, then falling asleep again.

Chuckling, I smoothed down my robes one last time and opened the door, shutting it without looking back.

========

The chatter below livened my spirits some. It seemed like I was the only one who wasn't that happy about leaving, and I was quite glad of that- I didn't need to see anyone sobbing or getting emotional, or I suspected I would be, too. I stood near the stairs, taking in the familiar scent of pine mixed with musty parchment that permeated the room. Gleaming moonlight sifted through the tall rectangular windows that surrounded our oval common room. It was so bright that no one had bothered to light the glass lamps or crystal chandelier. The common room was made almost entirely of windows, with only thin slabs of stone between the ridges to assure you that you were in fact inside a building instead of standing on a tree top, overlooking the vast Hogwarts grounds.

"Riona!" A girl with long, mousy-brown pigtails came running over to me. She came to a sudden stop and clapped her hands, her round eyeglasses catching a glint of the moonlight. "We were wondering when you'd come down. Aren't you excited? Everyone's talking about the concert, we even have bets about who's going with who, and of course we have bets on who will win the House Cup, I mean it's got to be Ravenclaw - we all made some pretty accurate calculations and they showed that we have a higher percentage of points than all the other houses except for Gryffindor, but there's always a marginal difference-"

My hands jerked to grab her shoulders, and she stopped in mid-sentence. "Marlene," I began with utmost impatience, and then took a deep breath, "I am excited about commencement. And I don't know who's going to play at the concert. I don't want to make bets, either on the band or who's going to win the Cup. Frankly, I don't care. Ravenclaw never wins because we focus too much on academics and not as much on, well, anything else. Okay?"

"And what about the concert?!"Marlene asked breathlessly, oblivious to what I had just rambled. "I asked Sirius Black to go with me, but he said he was temporarily deaf and if I could ask him some other time. The poor thing, I asked him if he wanted me to take him to Madam Pomphrey's, but he said it's incurable. Is there really an incurable magically-induced deafness?"

I pulled on a straight face. "Yes, of course."

"Well, maybe when I see him tonight I can ask him for a dance. I'll lead, since he won't be able to hear the music," said Marlene, clapping her hands again. "So who are you going with, Riona?"

"Uh, no one, really -"

"Because I'm going with Gil Bates. He's a dear, but we're really only friends," Marlene interrupted, lowering her voice into a conspiratorial tone so that I had to bend closer. "Gil wants something more, but my heart still belongs to Sirius Black, the one and only wizard who is the noblest, the handsomest, the smartest..."

Luckily Darren Peeters, a prefect, approached us before I could gag my breakfast and lunch over the floor. "Here are you honor cords," he said briskly, handing Marlene and I two white velvet ropes from the pile he held in his arms. "You two are graduating with academic honors. Congratulations,"he yawned, then walked toward more seventh years.

"Oooh, lovely," Marlene squealed, taking hers and looping it around her neck. "I was wondering when we'd get these! I have three others: one for Charms club, another for the Herbology club, and the other for the Alliance of Politically-Minded Wizarding Youth for the Defense of Magical Creatures' Rights!"

"APMWYDMCR, I remember," I said. I fingered the honor cord and lifted my braid to put it around my neck, pulling the fringe at the end of the white rope. "I don't really know what these are for except for showing off..."

At that moment a shrill voice rang beside my ear, and I jumped in fright.

"CONGRATULATIONS, CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE WON ACADEMIC HONORS! WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT!"

"WHAT IS THAT?" I shouted, looking around while the rest of the Ravenclaws stared at us.

"THE WHOLE SCHOOL IS PROUD OF YOU! YOU ARE LA CREME DE LA CREME, THE ELITE, THE BEST, THE TRIUMPHANT, THE MAGNIFICENT-"

"Oooh, the honor cord is so flattering!" Marlene said in delight, pointing at the cord.

I noticed that the fringe at the end of the rope was slightly quivering, and I could only figure that I had set off some type of enchantment while I played with it. I yanked the fringe with a vengeance, and the blaring acclamations instantly ceased.

"Yes, right, show's over people,"I snapped, waving off everyone's gawks and smirks.

"Listen up!" Darren yelled. He was standing near the common room's entrance. He had to shout twice before he got everyone's attention diverted from playing with their own honor cords. For a few minutes, the common room was filled with cheers and jolly congratulations, and Darren had to jump up and down several times while shouting. At last, we all looked at him expectantly.

Panting from his efforts, Darren took a deep breath and wiped away the sweat from his face. "Everyone, get ready! the commencement ceremony is about to begin."

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"No, you look better."

"Nah, mate, you do."

"I insist, Prongs, you look better than I do."

"No, no, my dear Padfoot, you look much better."

"You both look like prats," Remus interrupted in amusement. Peter chuckled, straightening his crooked robes' collar, while James and Sirius sniggered and I rolled my eyes. We were standing in front of the Grand Staircase along with the rest of the school dressed in their graduation robes. Several students were talking with the portraits of past teachers and renowned contributors of the school, while others were in small groups, hugging, laughing, and talking. James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, and I were grouped to the left of the staircase.

"But as prats, we look quite dashing," said James, patting down the silk black robes and ruby-red tie that hung loosely on his athletic frame.

"You got that right," I remarked, shooting him an appreciative look and giving him a soft kiss on the mouth. James smiled against my mouth and suddenly dipped me back so that my hair touched the waxed marble floor while I squealed. Then he gave me a long but chaste kiss that nonetheless made me quiver with delight.

"Hey, hey, hey,"Sirius protested, his own red tie cast distractedly cast over his shoulder. But James and I continued our kiss as he exclaimed, "You know the rule, Prongs: no snogging in front of your friends unless they're snogging someone, too."

At last James broke the kiss and swung me upright. Hastily I brushed back my hair, blushing, and met James's cheeky smile with one of my own. He's too cocky for his own good... but that's part of his charm.

"You're just angry because Patricia Monkus broke your date tonight," James retorted, pulling me into his arms so that my head settled underneath his chin.

"You got it all wrong, mate," Sirius snapped, "I broke up with her."

"But I was there when she broke up with you in the Gryffindor common room," Peter reminded Sirius, who broke into a scowl. "She said you're too flighty for her and that you flirt too much."

"Who knew?" Remus remarked, exchanging grins with me. Sirius scowled and ignored us.

"Well, what are we waiting for, anyway?" Sirius muttered, eyeing the crowd of chattering students with impatience. The Slytherins were making their way toward the entrance, jostling the crowd. A lanky student with black hair and a pale face was looking over at us. But before I could decide whether to wave at Severus, he quickly turned and followed his House, which was already creating a ruckus with the Hufflepuffs.

James yawned widely, looking utterly bored. "When is this bloody ceremony going to get started?"

"When Dumbledore gets here," Alice replied, joining us. The lit crystal chandeliers shone against Alice's blonde hair, which was dressed lavishly in wisps of bountiful curls. She was proudly holding Frank Longbottom's hand, who looked quite uncomfortable in his stiff-necked black robes and was trying to loosen the collar every minute.

Frank scratched his neck and glanced around the room. "It's awfully warm in here, don't you think?"

"Are you still drunk from last night?" asked Sirius, smiling knowingly.

Flushing amidst Alice's curious gaze, Frank shook his head. "No, just warm, that's all." He smiled wanely at Alice. "Promise!" Alice smiled.

"Oh, Lily, you styled you hair! it looks perfectly lovely," Alice squealed, patting me on the shoulder as if I should receive an award.

I quirked an eyebrow and glanced at my straightened auburn hair that fell just past my shoulders. "Uh, Alice, sorry I didn't curl my hair like you asked me to."

Alice waved a dismissive hand. "But that kind of style becomes you! It's - it's..."

"Flat?" James supplied, groaning as I gave him a swift sock on the arm. "And gorgeous, of course," he added hastily.

"So where's Riona?" Alice asked, looking around at the room that was already packed with the graduating colors from all four Houses. As each House filed into a long line, they carried their banner featuring the House mascot and colors, and Ravenclaw's bronze eagle, flying proudly across a velvet cloth of blue, already stood over the crowd of black robes along with the other three House banners.

"I don't know," I replied as the boys started debating whether they should run around in the buff as the ceremony's grand finale. "She said she'd be here as soon as Ravenclaw arrived, but I haven't seen her anywhere." But as my eyes searched the room for Riona's familiar dark hair and brisk walk, a strange feeling settled in my insides. I couldn't shake the sense that something was wrong.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"I cannot believe I got lost on my last day at Hogwarts," I muttered, sighing and peering into the dim, abandoned hallway once more. My voice echoed back at me, signaling that the tunnel-like corridor would go on farther than I had already walked. I held up my lit wand, which only brightened a few paces in front of me, and tried to look for an exit nearby. But there was nothing, and I slowly began to panic.

While the rest of Ravenclaw House has sensibly gone down the Grand Staircase to meet everyone else, I had wanted to take a last glimpse of the school grounds from the Astronomy Tower before I joined them. But as I left the Tower - distracted, I suppose - I obviously took a wrong turn and ended up in this forsaken hallway.

Lily and Alice now cannot say that I'm not nostalgic, I thought, taking a few hesitant steps to what felt like a draft, and possibly a window. My fingers found nothing, however, as they reached along the grimy wall - and then, for some reason, my hand began to shake.

It seemed like it moved on its own, had its own mind - that it was a trigger, for my whole body began to tremble even though I felt no pain or fear. That was when a piercing ache started at the back of my neck. For a moment I faintly wondered if something had bit me, but somehow I knew that this pain was internal, caused by something inside of me...

The darkness of the corridor deepened into a black without depth. I was blinded - my stomach turned inside out, thick bile rising in my throat - my body shaking uncontrollably, the pain in my neck now spreading to my head so that all I could do was scream. . . and scream . . . and scream - letting out all the pain that was pounding inside of me --

I saw Lily. I saw her shout. She was dressed in her graduation robes, and streaks of unnatural green light were flying across the ink black sky...

And then Lily transformed into Alice, whose hair was disheveled as she struggled against an unknown person dressed in black robes and hoods.

I saw a gloved hand holding a wand in the starless sky, and at that moment I knew that Lily and Alice were dying.

Their screams... their screams tore my heart. Indescribable pain was killing my best friends, and I could do nothing about it -

Blood- so thick it was almost black - dripped over the school grounds...the nausea in my stomach only grew as I saw the slaughtered bodies of Remus, James, Sirius and Peter -

The crescent moon stood silently in the black sky while the hooded wizards stalked over the dead bodies and entered Hogwarts.


Then the blackness engulfed me, and I fell to the stone ground seeing nothing.


::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"Where is she?" I asked in concern, fretting with the sleeves of my graduation robe. "I can't believe she would miss her own commencement ceremony."

"She won't," Alice reassured me, even though she didn't sound so confident. Playing with the tip of her golden Hufflepuff tie, she sat up straight in her chair to look across the crowd of students again. "You know Riona - she's always late for everything.

The crowd was immense - in an open space in the middle of the school grounds, facing the castle, students were filed into a large semi-circle over the trimly cut grass, sitting in plush velvet seats. Families sat on the outer circle, chattering loudly and flashing pictures that caused my classmates to rub their eyes. The teachers were sitting on a raised platform in front, talking amongst themselves, while the House ghosts floated over the ground to the right of the stage. Besides the soft gleam of the moon, Professor Flitwick had enchanted dozens of candles to surround the crowd, flames burning in the warm summer night air. An air of expectancy and excitement had settled over everyone - except me. The suspicious inkling that something was wrong was worsening by the second. I couldn't sit still. Even James was beginning to look at me in concern.

"Lily, she's probably on her way, don't worry," James said, lowering his voice to my ear.

"Right," I admitted, but nonetheless I still sat tensely in my seat, eyes alert for any sign of my friend. And then I frowned when I glanced at the Slytherins, who had separated themselves from the crowd. Along with Severus, some Slytherin students weren't seated.

"I can't believe that Dumbledore's not here yet," Sirius, who was seated at Remus's left, griped. "You'd think that as our Headmaster he'd be here first."

"Well, he did tell us at a Head and prefect meeting that he might be a bit late," Remus said, remembering.

"Maybe Dumbledore is getting something special for the commencement ceremony," Peter suggested. "He did that last year, remember?"

"Yes," Sirius said, grinning reminiscently. "Those everlasting fireworks didn't die throughout the whole night!"

A scuffle to Alice's left alerted her to Frank coming back from greeting his parents. "Right angry they are," he said cheerfully, smiling at Alice as he took his seat beside her.

"Why?" she asked, frowning.

"Because I haven't received as many honors as they hoped," Frank answered. He ran a hand through his neatly trimmed brown hair and shrugged. "I only got three."

"At least you got honors," Alice comforted him, placing her head on his shoulder. "I didn't get any, and Mum's actually happy - she says ladies shouldn't show off their intelligence."

"But you don't need to show off for anyone," Frank murmured against her hair.

A few seats over, my patience was starting to wear thin. My boyfriend's mischief had distracted me from worrying about Riona. "You're not going in the buff to accept your diploma, James," I said, rolling her eyes.

"I don't have anything to be embarrassed about," James said, winking and pretending to flex his arms.

"Besides, we need to finish our legacy at Hogwarts right," Sirius added, shaking back his shaggy black hair. "Who will lead the masses of mischief and mayhem when we leave?"

"I, for one, think going in the buff is too easy," said Remus, shaking his head and grinning. "I'm surprised at you, Prongs- I thought you were the master of pranks."

"Now wait a minute," James protested, with me laughing beside him, "Going in the buff is only half of the plan-"

"Shhh!" Peter suddenly whispered. He nodded up at the teacher's platform, his watery blue eyes wide in anticipation. "Dumbledore's just arrived."

A tall silver-haired wizard had walked up the platform and was now facing the crowd, which erupted into loud cheers and clapping. Under his dark violet wizard's hat covering his white hair, Albus Dumbledore gave them all a welcoming smile, although his eyes seemed troubled. Clearing his throat, he aimed his wand at the base of his neck and muttered something. "Good evening to all of you!" he declared, his deep voice magically amplified. "And what a beautiful evening it is!"

He then stretched his wand to the sky, and the twinkling stars glided over the night sky to form one glistening word: Congratulations to the Hogwarts' commencement class of 1977! The crowd broke into gasps of surprise and delight, which were only heightened as Dumbledore's wand hovered over the four corners of the grounds and caused jets of white streamers to shoot from the ground and coil into sparkling branch-like ornaments that surrounded the semi-circle. While the candles brightened in their light, the Headmaster nodded to Professor McGonagall, who brought out a leather box filled with rolled parchments tied together in thin black bows.

Dumbledore beamed in pleasure and nodded at the applause. "Let the ceremony begin!"

And as Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat to begin his farewell speech, the same feeling of foreboding rose up again within me. I turned my head slightly to the left, over James's shoulder. Squinting, I thought I could make out a huddled group at the edge of the Forbidden Forest's shadows. But when I looked more closely, no one was there.

#2
Nylyn

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You know it made me happy to see you were starting a new ff. Although I haven't posted on them, I've read them all, and I love your style.

This beginning makes me very curious, though. Swyn Llyfr...I want to know what it is. You write the Marauders like I've always imagined them.

Please post more soon, I'm very curious.

Breathe. Just breathe.


#3
LaLaLuna

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YAY you're back! And with a running start!

I'm glad to see this will be in Riona's pov (or at least most of will be, right?) She's intrigued me since her appearance in your HP and the Secret of Gryffindor. She's a great character.
I've always said you have a fantastic grasp on the Marauders. You write their interactions on such a grand scale, it's like we've known them all along and not just the snippets JK has let us see.

Hope to read more soon!

Hanna :P

IKWT!

Beginnings:The Great Purification~by Liliana Muddied Black Blood~by Nicola
My Fics
Riddle and Secrets ~ Coming Full Circle ~ Living Memories ~ The Sorting of Priorities
Luna's Loss ~ A Summer's Day ~ Who Would Have Thought ~ Wilted Flower ~ Spring in the Air


#4
Chloe

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Sorry I didn't post sooner Lils! School was in the way and stuff... :(

I LOVE this new fanfic! It is so great to read from Riona's perspective, which you've never given us before! It's amazing to see that she's pretty normal, for all she turned out very mysteriuos later in life. !!!

The light-heartedness in this chapter is so awesome! I love how Alice seems to know everything about the boys! And Lily's dress dilema! Lol!

All in all, an excellent new fanfic which is starting out quite nicely!

Chloe :ermm:

#5
kittkat

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Ah...a new fanfic. This is a great start to it...it can only get better. The interaction between the characters flows smoothly, making it comfortable to read and get into. I think I'm going to enjoy this one. :) Keep it up. Don't leave us hanging too long for the next installment.

Kat
A modicum of intelligence does not guarantee a lack of stupidity.

#6
elven_girl

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I am new to your fanfic, but I hope you won't mind another reader! :unsure:

I found the start quite intriguing, especially the title. Does it have a specific meaning behind it? Well, I hope we'll find that throughout the story. The way you portray the marauders also appeals to me although I never imagined Remus as the type of person who would drink. The two new characters are also pretty well developed.

Hope to read more by you soon!
''Death...comes for us all, my lords. Yes, even for Kings he comes, to whom amidst all their Royalty and brute strength he will neither kneel nor make then any reverence nor pleasantly desire them to come forth, but roughly grasp them by the very breast and rattle them until they be stark dead! So causing their bodies to be buried in a pit and sending them to a judgement...whereof at their death their success is uncertain.''

''But what matters to me is not whether it's true or not but that I believe it to be true, or rather not that I believe it, but that I believe it...'''

#7
LaLaLuna

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Poor Marlene, got book sense but no common sense. . ."incurable deafness"? ^_^ LMAO

Ooo, Riona's first vision. Because it's in her pov, it's more intense and better unerstaing of what she's feeling and going through while she's having them. And the fact that the visions are painful, explains the screaming of what she's to become.

I say STREAK AWAY Marauders! STREAK AWAY! !

Excellent chapter (even if it did end in a cliffy :D )

Hanna

IKWT!

Beginnings:The Great Purification~by Liliana Muddied Black Blood~by Nicola
My Fics
Riddle and Secrets ~ Coming Full Circle ~ Living Memories ~ The Sorting of Priorities
Luna's Loss ~ A Summer's Day ~ Who Would Have Thought ~ Wilted Flower ~ Spring in the Air


#8
Chloe

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As for her "mystery" - since you've read HPSOG, I wonder if you remember Riona's secret. If you do, don't say it until it's revealed here, ok? :P Thankee.

Who do you take me for?*mock glare* Of COURSE I remember Riona's secret! But don't worry, I won't tell! I swear on my honor! (Hang on, do I have any honor?)

"-but my heart still belongs to Sirius Black, the one and only wizard who is the noblest, the handsomest, the smartest –"

Luckily Darren Peeters, a prefect, approached us before I could gag my breakfast and lunch over the floor.

LMAO! I don't blame Riona one bit for wanting to barf! :rolleyes:

"CONGRATULATIONS, CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE WON ACADEMIC HONORS! WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT!"

"WHAT IS THAT?" I shouted, looking around while the rest of the Ravenclaws stared at us.

"THE WHOLE SCHOOL IS PROUD OF YOU! YOU ARE LA CRÈME DE LA CRÈME, THE ELITE, THE BEST, TRIUMPHANT, MAGNIFICENT –"

For a minute there I though two someones named Sirius Black and James Potter had some mischief in the Ravenclaw common room! ^_^

OH MY GOSH! Who are these people? Oh, are they the Death Eaters? Well, really, how many people do you know who walk around in hoods killing everyone in sight?

Chloe :P

#9
*Liliana*

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Thanks so much, Hanna and Chloe. I'll respond to your comments personally once I get the next chapter posted. But...you might be surprised at its twist. :)

I just wanted to say, since I have some of my old readers here, that this story isn't really related to my other fanfic Harry Potter and the Secret of Gryffindor. This fic takes a new look on some of the issues explored there AND includes Riona Dyrdra, but the events aren't going to tie in together. Just thought I'd make that clear.

I appreciate any comments and constructive criticism. ^__^ Hope everyone has had and will have a great week!

- Lils

#10
Ghostrider

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Hi Lil´s.

Here you go again - YES :)
The eyes are the reflection of the soul
The heart ist the reflection of love
Posted ImagePosted Image

#11
*Liliana*

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Hi Lil´s.

Here you go again - YES :blink:



SILVIA! You're here. :P I was wondering if you'd trek in here.

I would just like to say that it was Silvia who really motivated me in writing this story. *waves to Silvia*

Ok, now I really have to finish that update...

#12
LaLaLuna

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Hmmmm what are those. . .creatures :P they are creatures, right? They almost sound like Wraths. And is it safe to assume they work for Voldemort?

At least Riona's vision didn't completely come true and the gang are still alive. The red moon thing sounds like an eclipse (good visual there). Omens, usually bad ones, have "blood moons" in them. Wonder what dumbledore has in store for the dark visitors.

I'm a little nervous to hear who died at the ceremony. . .

...LOL, so you don't mind seeing some Marauder skin?

uh, no! I'll embrace the sight !!!


Great chapter Lils

Hanna

IKWT!

Beginnings:The Great Purification~by Liliana Muddied Black Blood~by Nicola
My Fics
Riddle and Secrets ~ Coming Full Circle ~ Living Memories ~ The Sorting of Priorities
Luna's Loss ~ A Summer's Day ~ Who Would Have Thought ~ Wilted Flower ~ Spring in the Air


#13
Anya128

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I love this! It's astounding! I'm still trying to catching up on your "The Original Order of the Phoenix:The Rise of the Dark Lord", with not much luck! I will try though! Ilove your fanfiction writing, you just show all the marauders, and Frank & Alice so well. I think it's amazing.

Hopefully you'll post more soon. ^_^

-Anya

#14
mich

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i love ur writinng its amazing especailly with the maruders and lily,alice,riona and frank cant wait to see what happenes next
it started out as friendship
and turned to something more
the love i feel for you
ive never fely before
you make me feel so happy
whenever i am down
by telling me your stupid jokes
and always trying to clown around
i cant believe you tell me
all the things you do
but im glad you can trust me
and i can trus you too
you are my specail friend
and i want you to know
whatever may happen
ill never let you go

#15
*Liliana*

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Wow, thanks so much everyone. I'm extremely flattered. The update will probably be this week, since I know the scene is kind of dragging on. >_>


I do have a question though. Does anyone think I'm focusing more attention on certain characters than others? Your input would help me out.

- Lils

#16
Ghostrider

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Hi Lil´s.

You were right - I love this chapter. Riona is so different from when I first 'met' her, I´m really excited to find out what caused her change :P

*waves back happily*

;)
The eyes are the reflection of the soul
The heart ist the reflection of love
Posted ImagePosted Image

#17
*Liliana*

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Thanks for the feedback, Silvia!

Hehe, I will respond to all the wonderful comments with the update, which MIGHT be posted tonight...or tomorrow morning. ^__^

*waves to all*

[Edit]
Hey everyone -

I'm sorry! The update will probably not be posted until Tuesday evening or Wednesday. I thought I would have enough time this weekend, but I'm swamped with studying for my finals. Bah. Wish me luck, and I'll see you guys later this week. ^__^

- Lils

#18
*Liliana*

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So sorry for this late update, everyone. Hope you're still reading. ^__^

Hanna: Thank you! Heh, they do sound like Wraiths, huh? But they're a tad different. And we all know Voldemort likes strong allies...but these creatures are also fiercely independent...LOL I forgot about red moons being bad omens, but you're right! As far as DD's plan, you'll find out in this chapter. And A LOT of people died already...But the thing is, things might turn out for the worst despite the Marauders, Lily and Riona.

Anya: Wow, thank you so much! I really appreciate that! Don't worry about that other fanfic - I discontinued it. The same characters in that story are in here, along with a similar (though still different) plot. Gah, I smiled so widely at your comment. I hope you'll continue reading!

mich: Thanks very much! Heh, I've noticed you reading my other fanfics as well. You're always so supportive. Thank you again! I hope you'll continue to read, too.

Silvia: Thank you so much! I'm delighted you liked that last chapter, and hopefully you'll like this one better. ^_^ And Riona's character "change" will be explained with the next chapter, where everything will begin to change. *cue dramatic music* ^__^


~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

Two: The Taking of Swyn Llyfr


As I struggled to open my eyes, I found that a pair of red, beady eyes was staring into mine. A whiskered, moist nose between the eyes sniffed at my clammy skin in curiosity while I tried to swallow down the nausea and pain that threatened to overwhelm me. The balding rat blinked, as if it was surprised I wasn't dead. I was surprised, too. As I attempted to sit up, the rat scurried away into a crack inside the stone wall.

I didn't know how long I had been unconscious, but I figured that the graduation was already underway-

And then it all came back to me.

The screams, the black hoods, the blood - and the commencement robes. My heart leaped with one thought, which seemed impossible but at the same time so horribly real: what if whatever happened to me - call it a vision, call it luck, call it fate - would happen tonight? Why else would Lily, Alice, Remus, James, Peter, Sirius, and everyone be wearing commencement robes?

"It's a warning," I breathed, wiping the sweat that was trickling over my face again. "But no, it can't be...how can it be?” Did I want to risk being wrong about something like this?

"I've got to do something," I murmured, more to convince myself than to play the hero.

Yet as I stared around in the barely lit corridor, surrounded by stone walls, my resolve shrunk.

"Wait, you're a witch," I reassured myself, nodding and digging my wand out of my soiled robes. "Seven years in a magical school should've taught you something!"

But all that my mind came up with were the awful images of my vision, the gruesome slaughter that might happen any minute...any second. In my anguish I shouted, kicking the wall in front of me - and immediately regretting it as the throbbing pain in my foot only added to the ache of my entire body.

"HELP!" I yelled, all my imaginary resolve and courage melting into despair. "ANYBODY, PLEASE, HELP!"

"You needn't scream so," a calm voice said behind me. "If I weren't already dead, you would've scared me to death."

I whipped around, clutching my wand with a trembling hand, only to face the Grey Lady, the Ravenclaw House ghost. She peered at me inquisitively, her sheer form floating through the darkness and settling in front of me.

"I could hear your screams from downstairs, but I thought it was Peeves who was attempting to make an end-of-the-year joke, as is his custom, the Grey Lady began, her placid, invisible face tilting to the left, "But I am glad it is you instead, Riona. I did not want to ruin the festivities with Peeves' shrieks of my torturing him."

"You have to help me," I gasped, "I'm lost - I need to get to the ceremony - something terrible is going to happen -"

"Shh," the Grey Lady remonstrated, holding up one thin finger. "The graduation has already started, so you are shamefully late, my dear..."

"I don't CARE!" I screamed, startling the ghost so much that she glided back a few paces in shock. "I NEED TO GET DOWN THERE, RIGHT NOW!"

"All right, all right, all you had to say was please," the Grey Lady sighed, placing an icy hand on my shoulder and guiding me down the musty corridor.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"Sirius Black!"

Flashing us a cheeky grin, Sirius jumped up, cracked his knuckles, and walked up to the platform to receive his diploma from a smiling Professor McGonagall. I was happy to see that Sirius wore his graduation robe and kept wearing it as he walked back to his seat.

The rest of the Hogwarts professors, including Dumbledore, who was reading off the list of students'names, nodded or smiled back, while parents applauded politely - all except one stern looking man and pristine and elegantly dressed woman to my left. They were sitting quite calmly, applauding with their fingers as they observed with frowns Sirius's leap off the stage once he received his diploma.

"Mr. and Mrs. Black seem lovely," I whispered dryly to James as we cheered for Sirius. “Would it bother them to cheer for their son?”

James eyed the Blacks, who were sitting along a row of identically pale family members. "Probably. But that is as emotional as they get."

"Get an eyeful of this,"Sirius whispered, waving the elegantly wrapped parchment in his fist. "They're my free papers! I'm my own bloke! Nothing can stop me! I can finally become the man that everyone has tried to suppress in me for the last seven years -"

Remus, who was sitting between James and Sirius, grinned widely. "Oh yes, very manly you are. Say, Sirius, how are those hand-knit stockings holding up for you? You know, the pink fluffy ones you're wearing tonight because you consider them to be your lucky pair."

Sirius scowled at him, but Remus deftly dodged the blow Sirius aimed at his head. Sirius straightened his pants to cover the noticeably pink socks underneath.

"I knew I shouldn't have shown you my lucky socks," Sirius muttered, trying to grapple Remus while Peter and James started laughing.

"If you four would calm down, we might be able to hear who's next," Alice hissed, leaning over me.

"They just called Ira Carney from Hufflepuff, so we still have a while," Frank said, forcing down a yawn as Remus tried to lift Sirius's pant leg to show James, Peter, and me the hand-knit stockings.

"I'm just so nervous," Alice fretted, playing with a stray blond curl. "And Riona is coming up next! Where is that girl?"

"Something must've happened to her," I replied, biting her lower lip. "This isn' like Riona. I know she's notoriously late, but she wouldn't have missed this without telling us."

"Why don't you tell one of the ghosts?" Frank suggested. "They can probably find Riona."

But I shook my head, taking off my witch's hat and standing up while Dumbledore's continued to call students' names and camera flashes went off in every direction. "No, I'm going up to the castle. Something is wrong, I can feel it."

"I'm going with you," Alice added quickly, jumping up.

"What?" Frank asked in surprise. "We're in the middle of the ceremony. Just ask a professor, I'm sure they can help."

"No," I insisted, pushing Frank's legs out of the way and making my way down the crowded aisle. "I have a feeling that something happened to her, and I'm not just going to sit around and wait to see what it was."

"And where are you going?" James called after me as he gave swift punches to Remus, Sirius, and Peter so they would stop their bickering.

I nodded up at the castle, and James stood up as well, stretching. "Good, I was getting bored sitting here."

"Sit down," hissed a whiskered wizard behind them. "This is no time for lollying around!"

But Alice, James, and I ignored the old wizard's protests as we hastened away, keeping close to the towering trees so that no one else would interfere on our way to the school.

The crescent moon barely lit our way as wisps of thickening clouds began to hide it from view.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"This way, this way," the Grey Lady soothed, calmly floating down yet another set of steep side stairs despite my urgency to hurry. It seemed like she had taken the longest route just to spite me. And then she added lightly, "It doesn't matter when you get there you know, since you're already shamefully late."

If she had a neck, I would've strangled her.

Once we reached the bottom of the staircase, I looked wildly around. The smallest sense of relief washed over me as I realized where I was: the third floor, next to my Necromancy class. I sped off to the left, my torn robes billowing behind me.

"A thank you would have been acceptable!" the Grey Lady called after me, her serene voice tinted with annoyance.

But I didn't care, for at the end of the hallway was the polished marble steps of the Grand Staircase. I almost tripped over the ends of my robes as I took the stairs three at a time, my lungs gasping for air. Please, oh please, let me not be too late!

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"You know, I'm going to miss this school," James remarked, striding after my quick steps up the stone stairwell. "It's been like a second home to me. A jail at times, but a second home nevertheless..."

"Just help us look for Riona," I snapped, brushing away hair from her face as she peered in the darkness of the grounds. The cheers and light of the ceremony had grown faint, and she could barely see her own two hands in front of her.

"Oh, so that's why we're out here in the middle of nowhere," said James. "Does Riona fancy hiding in the dark or something?"

"Maybe she fell?" Alice suggested, lighting her wand and holding it up high. "Perhaps no one could hear her cries from here..."

I shook my head silently. No, something else is wrong...I don't know what, but I have to find out before this feeling grows worse.

"Do either of you know a kind of spell that makes the moon turn red?" James suddenly asked. His voice echoed from somewhere behind Alice and I, but we didn't bother to turn around.

Alice let out a sigh of frustration. "Look, if you came with us, you should spend your time in helping us instead of trying to make up some new prank-"

But Alice stopped short as James brought his lit wand to his face, which had gotten deathly pale. James continued, his voice steady. "Because if neither of you knew how to do it, and I sure didn't know how to do it, then who just turned the moon red?"

We followed the direction of his lit wand, and once he lifted it to the sky, I understood what he was raving about.

The moon was blood red, set against the inky sky amongst stars that were one by one extinguishing their light. It was as though someone had flicked off the lights, and the school grounds immediately had immediately fallen into impenetrable darkness. Not even their lit wands could spark enough light. Far off in the distance, I could see that the glowing illuminations that Dumbledore had conjured for the ceremony had been snuffed out as well, instantly followed by shouts of surprise and fear that burst into the cold night air. By the sound of it, turmoil had erupted.

In the dark I grabbed James's hand, and then Alice's. "What's happening?" I whispered, almost too afraid to speak.

As if in answer, a strange rhythm - as in marching feet - began to drum over the grounds, louder than the confusion of the ceremony. The unearthly sound came from the Forbidden Forest.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

My ears tingled at the pounding march that was rising in volume by the second. I knew, without trying to remember, that it was the same foreboding sound from my vision. Trembling, the familiar sense of nausea and bile crept into my throat, but I walked out of the school's entrance. I don't know if it was either from shaking courage or curious cowardice, yet my feet led me to stand against one of the pillars the guarded the school's marble entrance - the pillar that held up a statue of Ravenclaw's flying eagle.

The sickest sense of deja vu overcame me as I remembered the exact same perspective of the grounds, the same one I was looking at from this spot, in my dream. I raised a trembling hand to my mouth, shaking my head fervently. As though I could will this all away, as though I could wake up from this as I had from the numerous nightmares of these past weeks. All the while, a part of me tried to deny the reality even as I watched it unfold.

My feet were rooted on the ground as I watched five black hoods crawl from the depths of the Forbidden forest while screams and shouts discharged into the starless sky around me. Flashes of evil green, red, and blue light illuminated the dark grounds; various glowing forms of corporeal patronuses flew left and right - shadowed shapeless figures fought blindly against each other – but the patronuses flew straight through the dark figures with no effect.

"HELP, SOMEONE, PLEASE!"

My numbed mind woke up at the familiar voice, and I tried to light my wand to search for the source. But the darkness was too strong, and my small wand barely made a dint.

"LILY! ALICE!" I screamed back, forcing down tears. "ARE YOU THERE? TELL ME WHERE YOU ARE!"

"RIONA!" Lily shrieked, somewhere beyond me. "RIONA, SOMETHING'S HAPPENED TO ALICE! JAMES AND I CAN'T -"

I ran down the small hill, stumbling in my haste, helplessly shouting, "STAY WHERE YOU ARE! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!"

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"Where the hell is James?" Sirius shouted, as he, Remus, Peter and Frank crouched on the ground with their wands out, amidst the wrangling bodies that pushed and pulled like hunted animals, trying to find their way in the dark. The steady marching had continued until it drummed in everyone's ears, along with spells that zoomed seemingly out of nowhere. The only way Sirius knew that he was talking to his friends was because the light of a random spell briefly illuminated their faces.

"He left with Lily and Alice," Frank replied, almost stumbling over as someone slammed into his back. "They were going to look for Riona..."

"EVERYONE, PLEASE DO NOT MOVE!"

"Who's that?" Peter squeaked, jumping. "Who just said that?"

"Dumbledore, I think," Remus said over the din of inhuman screaming. "Maybe he's trying to do something..."

A flash of white light bloomed into the night, encircling the graduation stage and the people that had not yet found a way to run. At the center stood Dumbledore, his faze ablaze, holding up his wand into the air.

Only with the circle of light were Remus, Sirius, Frank and Peter able to see the black hooded creatures standing now on the other side of the light, their skeletal hands aloft, holding balls of pale blue light. They had stopped marching, now separated from their victims. Faceless and silent, they stood on the edge of the circle of white light, waiting.

Lifeless bodies were already strewn across the grounds amongst puddles of blood. And, to their revulsion, a decapitated head was lying next to Sirius's feet. Remus kicked it away.

Dumbledore's spell had somehow calmed most of the guests, professors, and students, for their screams had faded away - only to be replaced by shock and anger as they all stared at the hooded strangers standing outside their protected circle. And yet the five strangers did nothing.

"What are you waiting for, Dumbledore? Kill them!"

"Who could they be?"

"Why are they just standing there?"

"They're not dementors, my patronus didn't work against them!"

"Be quiet!" Dumbledore commanded, striding through the crowd, his hat blown away and his silver beard and hair a mess. "They do not seem human. Do not make any attempt at contact."

"We are not human," came a soft, unearthly hiss.

It took a moment for everyone to realize that the hiss had come from one of the hooded strangers.

"What do you want?" a witch screamed, sobbing.

Dumbledore gazed expectantly as the strangers, his tall frame tense and alert.

"Swyn Llyfr," the five said in unison. "Swyn Llfyr."

Hesitating, Dumbledore asked, "And why?"

"We do not bow to anyone's will, especially a wizard's," croaked another of the five. "All we want is Swyn Llyfr."

"Who sent you?" Dumbledore demanded, his wand still held high to keep the circle of light. "Who sent you?"

"We do not bow to any wizard," they repeated in unison. "Now, prepare to die with your kind, human."

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

I lifted Alice up, her unconscious form heavy. "So are you sure you two are all right?"

"We're fine," James replied impatiently. "It seems like one of the spells flew over here and hit Alice on the back. But she's still breathing - now we have to go see what's happening down there."

"Let's go," Lily agreed, turning to head down to the screams and flashes of spells.

"Wait," I said quickly. "We can't. We're not prepared to fight what's down there."

"How do you know?" Lily demanded. "We may be all the help they can have right now."

"Why don't we alert the Ministry of Magic? The Aurors? They'll know what to do!" I insisted, flashes of my vision reappearing in my mind.

But James and Lily didn't have the same vision that I had, and they ignored my protests to run down the hill and toward the stage. A spell of blinding white light suddenly blew into a protective circle around the stage, and James and Lily only hastened their pace.

"Wait! Don't go! I shrieked, helplessly looking at their retreating forms and at Alice's comatose body in my arms. I hurried to set her against an oak tree, and then hurried after James and Lily.

As I lifted my robes so that I could run, the pulsating rhythm of before began to sound again, more threateningly. Sprinting across the grounds, I could faintly make out five black hoods standing at the edge of the circle of light, holding up their wands as they faced Dumbledore, who was standing in the middle of the tussling crowd.

"Swyn Llyfr is to be opened tonight!" the hooded strangers shouted into the dark, lifting up their wands and shattering the circle of light. Darkness settled over the grounds once more.

The hooded strangers stormed into the screaming multitudes, who were vainly trying to defend themselves. In the confusion I lost sight of Lily and James, and was immediately thrown into a rush of bodies that were heading for the castle as fast as humanly possible. But the strangers weren't human - I had known that since my vision - and they seemed to glide over the bleeding grounds, in pursuit of the fleeing wizards and witches.

I vainly tried to look over the horde of heads for someone I knew without falling down, but I found no one. Instead, I found myself facing the end of the crowd, which was trampling past me in a chaos of screams and sobs. One of the strangers was stalking toward me, and I could do nothing but stay still...it was as though it drew me towards it, unwillingly. And I knew that I had seen it somewhere before.

I didn't know what it was going to do, but what happened was something I had never expected.

The hooded stranger stood in front of me, its wand held high. But the faceless thing only looked at me, and I could not see anything but blackness inside the hood. Its skeletal hands hung loosely to its sides as it leaned toward me, and I instinctively bent backward.

"Swyn Llfyr," it hissed. It raised an arm to Hogwarts castle. "In there, it is hidden in there."

Then it scurried away, following the mass of frightened wizards and witches into the castle.

"Riona?"

But I stood staring after the figure, trying to understand what it meant.

"Riona, come here!"

A hand reached out to my shoulder, and I turned around dizzily. Remus's gray eyes looked at me in a mixture of relief and confusion.

"We were worried about you!" he said, shaking me by the shoulders gently. "Look, we're all here. Dumbledore has a plan."

"What?" I asked, feeling very cold all of a sudden as I looked back at the castle.

"Dumbledore has a plan to fight these -- things," Lily said, coming up from behind Remus. I then noticed that we were standing on the eastern side of the castle, by the courtyards, where there were crevices inside the stone walls big enough to hide in.

"We were beside Dumbledore when those things broke his protection barrier," Remus continued. "He told us that he would meet us inside the castle after he did something -- he didn't say what -- and then he would tell us how we can help."

"Where's Alice?" asked Frank, staring at me.

"She' safe," I reassured him. "Now, tell me about this plan."

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

The walls of the castle shook as we approached the Entrance Hall, which were scattered with shoes and pieces of cloth in the crowds' harried escape from the creatures. Streaks and bursts of light erupted from the Great Hall and above the grand staircase, along with terrified screams that chilled my heart.

"Why aren't the Aurors already here, or anyone from the Ministry?" Peter yelled over the din, following us further inside.

"Probably busy shining their shoes before they decide to arrive," Remus retorted, holding his lit wand aloft into the darkn chaos of the Entrance Hall.

"It's because the communication is broken, floo networks included," Sir Nicholas announced, startling our group. "Some students tried it already, to flee - "

"Geez, don't do that!" Sirius snapped, lowering his wand and facing the ghost, who was floating mid-air behind them. The ghost illuminated all of our faces, which were grimy with sweat, dirt, and blood. "I don't want to end up like you, thanks."

"Excuse me -"

"Oh, shut it,"James commanded, his own lit wand lighting up his frustrated face. "We don't have time for this. We've got to find a way to alert the Ministry while Dumbledore and the rest of the professors try to protect everyone else. That was the plan, remember?"

Sir Nicholas gave Sirius a last glare and straightened his ruffled collar with dignity. "Well, like I said, the floo network isn't working properly. It seems these things thought of everything before they attacked."

"Owls won't get there quick enough," Frank murmured.

"And if they've cut off the floo networks, then that means we probably won't be able to leave the grounds at all,"I added, running a hand over my face. All of a sudden I was exhausted. James tightened his hold of my hand.

Sirius slammed a fist against his palm. "They've caged us in!"

"All right, then we've got to find a way around this," I said, forcing herself not to cringe as the screaming heightened with another glaring burst of spells in the Great Hall. "But we've got to get out of range first!"

Just then a ray of red light zoomed just above their heads and crashed into the stairwell, breaking off the entire left banister - which started began to tumble down on us -

"WATCH OUT!" Sir Nicholas bellowed.

"RUN!" Riona shouted, sprinting into a side corridor. Everyone else followed, along with some wizards and witches who had been hiding under the staircase. The crash thundered against the stone walls, dust settling in thick clouds while the screams and flashes of light continued.

"Lucy! We left her behind!" a witch sobbed, holding on to what looked to be her husband. "We have to go get her!"

The wizard wrapped her in his arms, while the rest murmured in anxiety and fear. I followed the others further into the dark corridor, my stomach tightening as I wondered whether their daughter was Lucy Patrikis - one of our Gryffindor roommates.

"We've got to get out of here," Sirius repeated, crossing and uncrossing his arms as he shook off the dust from his shaggy hair."I'm not letting some things without visible legs and arms to get the best of me, thanks."

Leaning against the wall, James rubbed the dust out of his eyes. "We've got to split up."

"What?" Riona shook her head fervently. "No, that's how you all -" But she abruptly paused, growing pale.

"That's how we all what?" Frank prompted.

"Never mind," Riona muttered, turning away. She avoided meeting my curious gaze.

"So what do you mean by splitting us up, James?"asked Remus.

"I don't think splitting up is such a good idea," Peter interrupted, wiping his sweaty hands on his robes as he sunk down to the dirty floor. "Isn't that like splitting up our forces?"

"Do you have any better suggestions?" James retorted, lifting up his hands in defeat. "I know you'll think I'm crazy, but-"

"Just tell us," I said quietly, tightening my grip on his hand. "You're not crazy."

"Well," James began, calming down a bit, "I look at this like a Quidditch match, you know? If we split our team while staying on the same strategy, we can carry out our goal, right? First, we'e got to alert the Ministry. Second," he continued as he glanced over at the sobbing witch, who was clinging to her husband and murmuring their daughter's name, "We've got to gather as many people as we can and find them a safe place."

"If we're splitting up," Frank said, clearing his throat and folding his arms, "Then I'll be in the group that rounds up everyone. I'm scared, too, but somehow I think I'll forget the urge to jump out of my skin if I'm doing something. I also want to be near Alice when she wakes up."

"I'm with Frankie," Sirius said, nodding. "And I'll go with him. We can hide everyone in the Room of Requirement."

"I'll go, too," I added, taking out my wand and patting it against my palm. "We can use the Head Boy’s and Girl's rooms."

"Don't think passwords will keep these things out," Remus pointed out.

I rolled my eyes. "I didn't think so, but the Head Girl's room is crammed with protection spells. I made sure of it,” I added, casting Sirius and James suspicious looks, “to keep certain perverts out.”

Sirius grinned, while James had the decency to look a bit embaraassed.

"All right then. The rest of us will alert the Ministry. We'll meet back here here soon," James said firmly, squeezing my hand.

"We'll all be fine," I said, trying to give James a confident look. But he saw right through the facade. He surprised me with a quick kiss before he gestured to the others and ran off into the darkness, hid lit wand held high.

I turned to Riona and gave her an impulsive hug. She smiled warily at me, her pale face slightly relaxing. “See you later,” she murmured, nodding and then quickly following James and Remus.

"Let's go!" Sirius said, sprinting into the Entrance Hall just as another bang erupted from somewhere above them. Frank and I ran after him, while Peter jumped up from the floor and darted in our direction, yelling at us to wait up.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"So where do we start, captain?" Remus asked quietly, as we crouched behind the statute of Ard the Giant, whose head was missing after a spell had gone awry just minutes ago.

James shrugged. "No idea. Didn't think about that part yet."

"How about with floo powder?" I suggested, crossing my arms. "I know Sir Nicholas said it wasn't working, but maybe there's another way to communicate with it?"

"Do you want to construct a door with the floo powder?"Remus asked, arching his eyebrows.

"Remus, you're being sarcastic again," I sighed. "And you're not helping."

"Sorry."

"What about broomsticks?"

I peered into the thick blackness to see who had been the idiot to have such a suggestion, and was rather unsurprised to find James as the culprit. "Are you kidding me?"

"Think about it," James pushed, running a hand through his hair, his eyes lighting up at the thought. "We can't physically get out of the grounds.... but protective spells like that always have limit breaks, which we may be able to fly over, right? And my Silver Arrow is the fastest broom to date."

"And we can always swipe the other Silver Arrows from the Quidditch supply closet," Remus added, thinking.

I stared at them. "I can't believe this. Brooms won’t be quick enough! You two are mad. There is no way I am getting on a broom!"

=========================

"This broom is poking my BUM!" I shouted, awkwardly adjusting myself on the ebony wood of a school Silver Arrow. I clutched my cloak tightly around my neck with one hand, while with the other I tried to guide the bloody broom. The icy night air bit at my exposed neck, arms, and legs as we three zoomed over the Hogwarts grounds, brushing against the leafy branches of the Forbidden Forest. The crescent moon shone silently overhead, its light peeking at us through dense gray clouds.

"Try to sit on the broom, Riona, not lie down on it!" said James, with what he thought were comforting words. He was flying his broom as easily as if he were flying on his own, his cloak fluttering behind him. My cloak, on the other hand, wrapped itself around my legs so that I almost fell into the Great Lake as we passed over it.

"So what are we gonna do once we get to the Ministry?" Remus yelled.

James was quiet, then said, "We'll think about that when we get there!"

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"Okay, these things are really STARTING TO GET ON MY LAST NERVES!" I yelled, aiming a freezing spell at one of the creatures. It swiftly dodged my spell, and then scurried after a group of First Years who had taken advantage of its distraction to flee.

"Oh, no you don't," Frank muttered, flicking his wand at a broken chair and heaving it at the creature. It passed right through it, slamming against the opposite wall. But the chair had caught its attention, and it turned away from the children to face us, emitting a serpentine hiss.

"Run, run!"Sirius said under his breath, staring at the creature's gaping eyes, which started to glow red as it lifted its wand. He, Frank, Peter and I sprinted into a nearby classroom, just missing the flash of blue that exploded to our left. We all clapped our hands over our ears as the creature shrieked in anger.

"Sounds like a bloody banshee,"said Frank, wiping the sweat off its face.

Peter peered over the edge of the doorway. "I think it's gone - or at least, it's disappeared...the children are safe, they're hiding in the classroom across from us."

"Good," I sighed, sinking onto the wooden floor. "We've got the first and second floors covered, at least. It seems like these creatures are trying to get upstairs."

"I wonder where Dumbledore is," Frank said quietly.

"We'll find him when we find all the creatures, I bet,"said Sirius. "And I wanna be there, too - I want to see these things suffer for all they've done."

"I've lost count of the number of bodies we've passed," Peter murmured, tightening his cloak around himself.

"Cris Bryant - Roanoke Gilsbury - Omar Limkinâ... even Professor Lunemein," I whispered, tears filling my eyes. I hastily brushed them away and tried to joke. "You'd think Lunemein would've figured out how to avoid his death, being the Divination professor."


::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"All right, let's get to my dad," James said hurriedly, racing out of the lift as soon as its gates clanged open. "I know he'll help."

Forty-five minutes later, we made our way through the bustling wizards and witches in the cool and spotless Atrium, all arrayed in varied states of stiff Ministry robes.

But something was wrong. Everyone was acting as if nothing had happened - I had expected at least a flurry of worry, or that our elected officials could at least be working on something to help the people who were dying by the second at Hogwarts. Yet, the Ministry officials chatted about the latest law on breeding magical creatures, on the latest case raised to the Wizengamot.

"Oy, Potter, what're you doing here?"a hefty wizard with a coarse beard greeted us at the security check entrance to the Ministry departments.

"You haven't heard?" James asked, aghast.

The guard raised an eyebrow. "Heard what?"

"Look,” Remus snarled, surprising us all, “We need to get through- to see Mr. Potter! It's an emergency, so hurry it up, will you?"

"Aren't we crabby today?" the wizard grumbled, clearing Remus's wand and broom and then doing the same when James and I handed over our wands and brooms as well.

"I can't believe no one knows about what's happened!" I snapped, slamming the gate shut as we ran toward the lift as soon as we escaped from the guard's chuckles.

"All the underclassmen left Hogwarts already," James replied, his face a strange shade of gray. "And Hogwarts is cut off from the magical world right now-"

"Well, what did you expect?" Remus asked, furrowing his eyebrows as the lift's gates clanked shut in front of the Fountain of Magical Brethren, its water tinkling cheerfully into the air and back into the pool. "The Ministry has never been on top of things, has it?"

"What do you have against the Ministry, Remus?" I asked, glancing at him as the lift rose past Department of International Magical Cooperation. “They’re our best hope of rescue right now.”

Remus snorted, then exchanged a look with James. "I just don't like how they run things," Remus muttered, shrugging.

Before I could respond, we arrived at the second level. The gates cranked open to spill us in front of the glass double doors of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. Although it was well past eight, the office was busy with activity: wizards and witches hurried in and out, reading stacks of parchment or carrying boxes of miscellany from singing tea pots to severed hands that were snapping their fingers menacingly. James pushed past them all and led us into a warm office filled with wooden desks and chairs and masses of more dusty parchments and overstuffed carts.

"Wotcher, James," a wizard greeted him, his glasses on top of his head as he faced a pile of folders on his desk. His name tag read "Prewett," in scraggly letters. "What brings you here so late? Going home with Frederick? Wish I could go home - being only a Junior Auror assistant here is a major pain -"

"Sorry, Gideon, I don't have time to talk now,"ames interrupted. "I need to see my father, it's an emergency- do you know where he is?"

"'Fraid he's kind of busy," Gideon said, looking apologetic. "The Ministry got an alert of something happening up north, something about dark creatures and a stronghold of magical activity. They called for all the help they could get from the senior officials, so your dad went."

"All right, we have to count on you," James said, as Gideon peered at our flushed faces in concern. "Hogwarts is under attack. Our communication has been cut off by these creatures-"

"Dark creatures," Remus added, "That are trying to kill everyone."

"They are killing everyone! And they’re looking for some kind of artifact," I went on, and then paused. Remus glanced at me curiously, his eyes asking the same question that had made me hesitate. How did I know that Swyn Llyfr was an artifact?

Gideon stared at us. "You're taking the mickey out of me, right?"

I narrowed my eyes. "Do you want us to bring the chopped off heads and legs that are strewn all over Hogwarts?"

"We were supposed to graduate today!" Remus exclaimed, lifting up his hands. "Graduate, not try to save our school. Why would be here otherwise?"

"So you want me to alert the Minister of Magic?" Gideon said slowly, taking in our anxious faces. "You want me to tell her that the most impenetrable school in the magical world is being attacked?"

"If you won't, then we will," James snapped. "And trust me Gideon, once the Minister finds out that we are in fact telling the truth, I'll make sure to tell her that you wouldn't try to help us in the first place."

Fabian clenched his jaw and jumped up from his desk and grabbed his cloak, nodding and grabbing his cloak and Ministry Auror badge. "All right, all right, I get your point. Follow me."

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"GET OUT OF THE WAY!" Dumbledore yelled to us, aiming his wand at two of the creatures that were slithering across the cracked wooden floors of the sixth floor. A luminous sphere captured them in place - for moments, at least. With that the Headmaster turned his head to the group of wizards and witches that the creatures had been trying to attack.

"Go on, follow Professor Flitwick," he said, uptight determination etched in his face. Flitwick gestured to the abandoned Necromancy classroom, and five students and two elderly wizards followed him, in varied states of fear, pain, and despair.

"Thank you, Dumbledore," one wizard murmured, placing a tired hand on the professor's shoulder.

"You think that'll contain them?" Sirius asked Frank, Peter and me while we stared at the frozen creatures, their disheveled robes hanging loosely over their skeletal frames.

"No," was Dumbledore terse reply, carefully walking over the corpse of two students. He waved his wand over their bodies, and they gently floated to another classroom that had not been completely demolished. "These Kakev are smart creatures - the more they are exposed to a certain spell, the more able they are to fight against it. Professors McGonagall and Sprout saw them break through three immobilization spells..."

"So that's their name," Frank said. "What are they after?"

"Swyn Llyfr, whatever that is," Peter answered. "That's what they were chanting on the grounds, remember?"

I examined Dumbledore's troubled face. "What is Sywn Llyfr, professor?"

Dumbledore's eyes clouded as he shook his head. "The little I know is no good news - speaking of news, have the others succeeded in establishing communication?"

"They'e trying," said Sirius, looking across several unmoving bodies strewn across the waxed floor. "We don't know what they're exactly doing, but -"

"Get back," Dumbledore commanded quietly, lifting his wand. We obeyed, uneasily looking around to see what was happening.

The creatures had stirred in the immobilization charm, their gaunt bodies stretching against their prison of light. As soon as they broke free, shattering the sphere into dozens of pieces, Dumbledore yelled, "Run! Get to the seventh floor!"

I started to lead the way up a side staircase, until Frank grabbed the edge of my robe and pointed at Sirius, who was still standing behind Dumbledore.

"Sirius, get a move on! We have to get out of here!" Peter bellowed.

"Not this time!" Sirius shouted, aiming an elemental fire spell at the creatures' robes, which promptly ignited.

"Foolish boy," the creature hissed, letting out a shriek of laughter as it gathered the fire into its hand and flung it in Sirius's direction. A jet of water splashed over Sirius just as the fireball began to burn him -- and as Sirius turned around to see the water spell's source, he saw me lowering my wand. I waved my hand at him, urging him to follow us upstairs.

"Swyn Llyfr!" the Kakev cried. "We need it - we want it - t is ours by ancient magical rites..."

"What do you want with Sywn Llyfr?"Dumbledore demanded, his severe voice tinged with perplexity. "What would you do with it? You cannot use it-"

"You are wrong," one of them whispered, its tone menacing. "Swyn Llyfr was created for us, and its power is the solution to the imbalance of power. Give it to us...and we may spare your lives..."

"What does it hold for you?" Dumbledore pushed in a hushed, urgent voice, drawing closer. I was surprised to see his face tense into mystified gaze. "How can it solve an imbalance of power if it will ultimately destroy you?"

"We know how to work its wonders,"the Kakev said in unison. "It can turn to work for darkness once more, in its deserved place.”

"No one can open it," Dumbledore interjected, his eyes flashing. "It requires a key, one that you are not able to attain. No one would trust you enough to give it to you."

"There is one who will," the Kakev replied, their laughter resembling the screeching of tortured animals.

Dumbledore hesitated, stopping in mid-step. "Is Tom behind this, then? Did he tell you to take Swyn Llyfr?"

"You are boring us, wizard," one of the Kakev croaked, lifting a skeletal arm. "We will find the Swyn Llyfr for ourselves." It swung its arm, and Dumbledore flew across the hallway and slammed against the stone wall. They lunged for him once more, until they heard our yells.

"Hey! Here's the Swyn Llyfr! Over here!" I shouted, waving my arms. My eyes widened as the Kakev flew towards me, They're quick. I hastily cried to Sirius, Peter, and Frank: "Go! Go! Go!"

The Kakev suddenly paused. They began to sniff the air - almost tenderly. A soft hiss emitted from them as they abruptly scurried to a staircase opposite us, leading into the Northern Tower.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"We hope that you are right, children," Emmeline Vance, assistant director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, said with a frown. "I would think that you are old enough not to make practical jokes. The Aurors are on high call now after these alerts from the north, where dark creatures are massacring Muggles.” She dusted off her navy blue uniform robes as she, the dozen Aurors under her command, and James, Remus and I Apparated at the far end of the Forbidden Forest, just outside of the school grounds.

"I do not see anything," Vance said slowly, narrowing her eyes and examining the thickets.

"Will you stop with the doubting?" I snapped. “Don’t you hear their screams?” I fought another shudder.

"Just get to the castle, and you'll see," James urged her.

"Not at this pace," said Vance, and took out her wand, nodding at the rest of the Aurors to do the same. She tapped her head with her wand, as did they, and I soon caught on. The hastening charm worked at once, and as the Auror squad walked forward, their steps were hastened by five times their speed. The result was that they left us behind as we hurried to cast the same spell.

Soon we caught up to them, and we saw what they saw as Hogwarts castle arose out of the midnight mist: smoke billowing from the topmost towers, light exploding from inside – tortured screams piercing the humid summer air.

"Galloping Gargoyles," Vance murmured under her breath - then quickly turned to her squad, who were whispering amongst themselves. "All right, I need half of you to go to the highest point of the castle, and the rest of you to the lowest. Meet in the middle, and capture everything and everyone you see. Go!"

"Wait, what's that?"Remus exclaimed, pointing to the Northern Tower. Something had begun to glow from the tower's windows, emitting a light that turned the castle, grounds, and night sky a sickly green.

The Aurors exchanged glances before they began to sprint into the castle. But before James, Remus and I could follow them, the Northern Tower exploded, bricks and stone falling down like hail over us. We hurriedly cast shielding charms that knocked the debris to the Forbidden Forest rather than onto our heads. Screeches of triumph echoed over the grounds, and far away I could see the five dark creatures soaring out of the castle - carrying something between them - and flying towards us, their ragged cloaks fluttering like wings. We quickly bent low, but the creatures flew overhead and back into the Forbidden Forest, laughing.

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

Edited by *Liliana*, 12 August 2012 - 08:20 PM.


#19
Nylyn

Nylyn

    Hello Beastie...

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Breathtaking, Lils. Absolutely. You're making my day :D

I'm so curious about Swyn Llyfr now....But the Kakev took it. That can't be good. They seem to be very smart, which can't be good either. I bet Tom is behind all this!

Please PPMS, I'm so curious!

Breathe. Just breathe.


#20
Anya128

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Breathtaking, Lils. Absolutely. You're making my day :D

I'm so curious about Swyn Llyfr now....But the Kakev took it. That can't be good. They seem to be very smart, which can't be good either. I bet Tom is behind all this!

Please PPMS, I'm so curious!




Need I say more? This also really made my day, which is good, seeing as my throat hurts, I feel as if I have a huge lump on the back of my head, and I'm home sick.

Really good.

-Anne

#21
LaLaLuna

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OH no they found it?!


See, Lils, told you, you would do well with the action. Very suspenseful. Maybe if they group got there sooner the Kavek would not have been successful.
And what did Sirius think he was doing? He could have been killed. Hope Dumbledore's all right.

I don't want to give anything away, but something Frank said has me wondering about what will happen to one of your main characters. . .kind of a before/after thing. Let's see. . .are the Kavek what a certain character becomes after death or some other transformation? Yes, no or even a maybe will suffice :D

So, the Swyn Llyfr is a book book right? Or is more of a device, like a kitty mug? I'm intrigued! It came from the Northern Tower, that's the Divination tower, right? Does the book/kitty mug have to do with altering the future?

Well done, great cliffy PPMS

IKWT!

Beginnings:The Great Purification~by Liliana Muddied Black Blood~by Nicola
My Fics
Riddle and Secrets ~ Coming Full Circle ~ Living Memories ~ The Sorting of Priorities
Luna's Loss ~ A Summer's Day ~ Who Would Have Thought ~ Wilted Flower ~ Spring in the Air


#22
elven_girl

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Wow you are good manbeast!!! I love it, but did Riona open the book? :S What does she have to do with it? And those creatures claim to work for no wizard, how did Voldemort get them to work for him or are they the ones using him???
''Death...comes for us all, my lords. Yes, even for Kings he comes, to whom amidst all their Royalty and brute strength he will neither kneel nor make then any reverence nor pleasantly desire them to come forth, but roughly grasp them by the very breast and rattle them until they be stark dead! So causing their bodies to be buried in a pit and sending them to a judgement...whereof at their death their success is uncertain.''

''But what matters to me is not whether it's true or not but that I believe it to be true, or rather not that I believe it, but that I believe it...'''

#23
*Liliana*

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So I couldn't wait to post this update. It has to be my favorite so far, just because there are many twists and turns coming up. :P I hope you enjoy it, and I appreciate any and all comments!


Nylyn: Aww, thank you! That's so sweet. The Kakev taking Swyn Llyfr signals the beginning of the First War. And as you can guess, Tom Riddle will use everything to take advantage of his opportunities...here's your update! I hope some of your curiosity will be satisfied.

Anne: Thanks so much. I'm sorry your sick. Will virtual petting help? *hands you a basket of chocolate and cookies* Sweets are part of your nutrition, of course. :( I hope you feel better! I'm at least glad that the last chapter livened your spirits a bit.

Hanna: Thank you much, m'dear! Yes, you're right - if the Aurors had arrived sooner, the Kakev might not have gotten Swyn Llyfr. As always, Sirius acts before he thinks. And Dumbledore is all right - he's not dead yet. :P Like I told you, you were right on the money with your guess. YAY! *hands you a chocolate medal* Free for your trophy and eating needs. :) I hope this update will further answer your question, tee hee. Swyn Llyfr is a book, but it's not a book - it's an artifact, but it's not an artifact. I thank the centaurs for teaching me the art of avoiding the question. LOL. I can tell you that the book has, ah, a mind of its own. And it's extremely important to the turn of the forthcoming war. But it did come from the Divination Tower - *coughunderneaththeRAVENCLAWcommonroomcough* - and it has much to do with the timing of certain events. Can I be any more unclear? Hahahhaa....

elven_girl: Thank you! Manbeast? LOL, like that name. Hm, well, I'm not sure of your question. If you mean whether Riona is the keeper of Swyn Llyfr, she's not. Whether she will open it - well, she has a large stake on who gets it later on, if that helps any. That's why she's the main character, LOL. And Voldemort is working with the Kakev, just like he works with the Dementors - even though he can't completely control them.


~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

Three: The Splitting of Paths

All we could do was to sit and be silent. I think we feared that if one of us spoke, we would have to face the question of what would happen next. And after all we had seen, the future didn't seem much better.

The harsh morning light spilling into the room reminded of the last morning I had seen at Hogwarts, just yesterday, and how different everything had been. I wrapped my cloak tightly around myself, forcing down a shiver.

Alice, Riona and I were sitting on the floor of what was left of the Charms classroom. The ceiling was scorched with remnants of the blazing fire that had destroyed all the desks and chairs, which remains were now no more than splinters strewn across the blackened stone floor.

I glanced at my friends, mentally cringing at their faces. What made me cringe was more than the dried blood and wounds on their faces, the rags of their commencement robes and singed hands and arms. It was their looks of despondency that made me wonder whether we were too young for all of this -- whether we were ready for anything like this. I rubbed a gash on my arm, and thanked God that I was alive. I bit my lip and tried to fight off the thought that others I knew did not fare as well as we. Glancing at Riona’s dark hair, I wondered if Severus was safe.

Riona turned to meet my gaze. She cleared her throat and murmured, "You don't look so great either, Lily."

Shrugging, I replied, "I probably look worse, but-" I didn't know what to say what I felt. It was like I could sense something was bothering Riona, something different than what was heavy in my heart.

Alice sunk her head onto upraised hands and sighed. "This will sound selfish, but I'm glad I was unconscious when all of this happened. It's hard to believe that- that demons like those things could ever come to Hogwarts."

"That's not selfish," Riona muttered, tucking a stray strand of long hair behind her ear. "That's sane."

"I'm just relieved we're still alive," I said outloud, staring at the charred wall in front of us. "Do you know how close we came to going to same way with the rest of the sixty-seven innocent people who are going to be buried tomorrow?" I swallowed.

“It could’ve been a lot worse,” said Riona, so quietly I could barely hear her.

"Who could be behind all of this?” Alice said, her voice growing squeaky as it usually did when she was nervous.

“Those Kakev mentioned someone was helping them in some way,” I mused. “ I wonder if that dark wizard is behind all of this...you've heard the rumors, right?”

"That some unknown wizard is gaining power all over England?" Riona said quietly. "Those aren't rumors anymore. I've heard even some Hogwarts students have been asked to...join his cause."

She shot a furtive glance at me, but I refused to acknowledge it. The fact that Severus wasn’t at the commencement ceremony could mean a lot of things, I told myself firmly. Even if you know the truth, a nagging voice said in the back of my mind.

"Join a dark wizard?" Alice whispered, her blue eyes wide. "Why isn’t anyone stopping him? I've heard that ever since he's risen to power more Muggle-borns and magical creatures have been mysteriously found murdered..."

Riona fidgeted uncomfortably."Yeah - well, at least the funerals for those murdered here will be private, so we won't have to see them be buried."

Alice frowned at her. "That's an awful thing to say, Riona."

"So death is something you want to see, like a spectacle?" Riona retorted.

"I only meant that a funeral is meant to be an event of remembrance, Riona," Alice replied, crossing her arms and swallowing. "You could at least show some respect!"

"Why?" Riona asked, lifting her hands helplessly and breaking into a dry laugh. "Because we're supposed to respect death, something all of us are terrified of? I've always wondered why people try to play off funerals as events, and not endings, which is what they are."

Tears crept into my eyes, but I clenched my jaw. "Death can't be an ending, Riona..."

"How would you know?"She shouted at me, jumping up and clenching my hands into fists. "No one close to you has ever died!"

Alice stood up as well, her voice thick with emotion. "That's true- but the same goes for you!"

Riona blinked at her, ready to say something - but she shook her head and bit her lip, as if forcing herself not to say anything. We all grew quiet.

Alice was on the verge of tears, with her face pink and flushed. She always got emotional when she argued. "I'm sad about all of this too, Riona. It's okay to cry about it."

Riona turned away. "What would tears do?"

I cleared my throat. Suddenly I was exhausted. I knew Riona and Alice - they were just going to argue about this, whatever it was, until they stopped speaking to each other. And I couldn't handle anything else now, or I would break just as Riona was doing. It was as if all that had happened had numed my senses. "Crying might help you, Riona. Well, Dumbledore said our families are waiting for us, so I'm going to try to find them somewhere in what's left of the castle." I rose and walked passed my friends, my back stiff and my stride weary.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

Listening to Lily's retreating steps, I felt Alice place a hand on my shoulder. "Lily told me that you hid me inside the court yard when I fell. Thank you for that." Without another word, Alice followed Lily down the hallway.

I could hear echoes of voices downstairs, so I figured that the wounded were being taken care of there since the hospital wing was filled with the sixty-seven corpses. Sighing, I closed my eyes and paced the classroom. Out of habit I chewed on my thumb's fingernail, all the while knowing why I didn't follow Alice and Lily. Talking to my parents would mean I had to tell them what happened, which would be like reliving this nightmare.

"Lily and Alice gone?"

I whipped around, my heart thumping wildly against my chest. But there was no more of the Kakev- at least in the castle. Instead, Remus's tired gray eyes met mine from across the room.

"They went to see their families," I replied, trying to calm myself down. "They're worried.”

Remus eyed me closely as he walked inside, hands behind his back. "It's hard to stop being afraid after something like this."

I opened my mouth, ready to tell him of the pain my vision had given me- all of the pain that was felt by each person who I dreamed would die. I had felt their deaths, I was sure of it. But Remus - and for that matter, Alice and Lily - wouldn't understand. I wasn't sure I understood it, either. And something else nagged the back of my mind: would these visions stop with just the one?

"Can you pretend to stop being afraid?" I whispered, more to myself than to Remus.

Shrugging, Remus said, "I don't know how that would help."

"Maybe if we pretend it won't hurt as much."

His exhausted face broke into a wane smile. "Pain makes us human, Riona. Or at least, some of us." A small smile peeked around his mouth.

"And what makes you so wise all of a sudden?" I retorted, examining him. He had dark circles under his eyes, and I almost felt guilty that I was lashing my anger out on him. But he stood still and quiet at the doorway. Somehow I realized that Remus was changed - but I guess all of us were.

"Besides all of this?" said Remus, lifting his arms and gesturing to the charred walls, floor and ceiling. "I guess it's the news I just heard downstairs from my sister, before she left with my family."

"And what news is that?" I was glad for any subject change.

"The Ministry has massacred more than three hundred dark creatures in the north," Remus said quietly.

For some reason, my stomach tightened with unease - but my mouth got the better of me as I burst out with, "Did they get the Kakev, then?"

"No, but they did get banshees, vampires, and werewolves," he replied, clenching and unclenching his jaw.

I paused. What was wrong with that? "But didn't dark creatures attack Muggle villages up north? Isn't that why the Ministry went after them?"

"That's what the newspapers tell us," Remus said impatiently. "They failed to report that the Ministry massacred these creatures without trial, without even a warning. They only rounded up all the registered dark creatures in the area, threw them into a magically protected cage, and murdered them. But what really gives the Ministry a whole new light in my book is that they murdered these creatures in their human forms."

"Which means?"

"Which means that these creatures weren't doing anything wrong!" Remus yelled, startling me. "They were going about their business! Dark creatures only attack when they're in their bestial form, any First Year would know that. But the Ministry doesn't care - all they see is a name in the registrar for dark creatures."

"Remus, how-" I swallowed the question that had been irking me for a while and instead said, "Did the Ministry give any reason, any-"

"It was for the good of the magical commonwealth," Remus quoted, and gave a dry laugh. "Romalia, my sister, who works at The Daily Prophet, said that's what's going to be in today's edition. She doesn't believe it, but everyone will swallow the lie."

I had never, in my four years of knowing him, seen Remus like this. I wasn't good with emotional confrontations, nor was I any good with advice. All I could think of doing was to apologize, but was I really sorry? What if Remus was wrong? What if the Ministry had good reason to execute those dark creatures? When I think of the Kakev, I couldn't help but feel relieved at the news. But I was unprepared for what Remus said next.

"Anyway, the reason I came to find you was to ask you something," Remus continued, shifting gears, "Last night, when the rest of us were planning a way to get into the castle, we found you in the middle of the grounds."

"So?" I stood frozen in my spot, even though I knew what he was going to ask.

His gray eyes darkened as he went on. "I found you talking to one of the Kakev. Talking, Riona. When everyone else instantly died as soon as the Kakev drew close, you were talking."

My body suddenly unfroze, and I began to stalk to the door. "I have to see my family, Remus-"

"Wait a minute!" Remus caught me by the arm and turned me around, examining my face, which was inches away from his. I tried to look away, but I couldn't. "Why were you talking to them, Riona? What did they say? I won't judge you - I think the news I just told you shows that I'm not like the Ministry."

At this I wrenched away from him, trembling. "What are you getting at, Remus? Are you saying that I'm a dark creature?"

He hesitated, and shook his head. "All I'm asking is whether you know anything that might help Dumbledore find out why the Kakev came here."

"Well, I don't," I snapped, anger safely masking my fear. "I wasn't talking to them. They were talking amongst themselves..."

"There was only one, Riona."

"It was talking to itself, then!"I shouted. I embarrassingly wiped tears away. "I didn't know what I was doing, it put some kind of spell on me or something, I didn't understand..."

Remus placed a sympathetic hand on my shoulder as I blubbered on. "It's all right. You don't have to answer me. It's okay."

"I have to see my mother," I said abruptly. "I have to talk with her."

"All of the families are downstairs-"

But I didn't let Remus finish as I hurried out of the classroom, leaving him staring after me.

===============

"Mother!" I yelled into the noisy crowd of people, pushing through its folds blindly. "Mother!"

I tried to ignore the sobs, the worried murmurs, the tear-dried faces of the families and students surrounding me. The Great Hall, its grand windows shattered, its eastern wall crushed, its tables and statues broken, was filled with the wounded, their families, students, and professors. Dumbledore, I guessed, had shut out Emmeline Vance and her Aurors, who had tried to begin their investigations right away.

To my left, Lily was talking with her parents; Alice was being cleaned up by her mother and lectured by her father on my right. I saw James, Peter and Sirius with the Potters, Marlene McKinnon with her aunt and uncle, and Frank in his mother's arms. But nowhere did I see my own parents.

That is, until I saw my father at the end of the Hall, near the remains of the eastern wall. Clad in brown furs and taller than anyone else, there was no way I could miss him. But my mother wasn't with him.

Dad spotted me as soon as I saw him. He gestured for me, his face clouded. I was afraid to go to him - I guess I was so used to being afraid in the last twenty-four hours that it had become a natural inclination. Yet, I wanted my father to hug me, to assure me that everything was all right...even though he hadn't done so in years.

"At last I find you in this hell hole," Dad murmured, clasping my hands in his roughened ones when I approached. His coarse black beard, stained with gray, scratched my face as he hugged me; stiffly, coldly, but he hugged me. I looked into his dark green eyes and felt myself home, for they reminded me of the misty moors on a stormy day.

"I can't believe you came here," was all I could say. " Thought you couldn't come to my commencement."

"Well, this isn't your commencement, is it?" said Dad, arching his thick eyebrows at the mass of people around us. He wrinkled his arched nose. "More like a funeral."

"Where's Mother?"

Dad glanced at me and paused. "I've come to take you to her, Riona," he replied, pronouncing my name in the rich Irish brogue that reminded me of home. "I've spoken with Dumbledore. He'll take care of your diploma and your trunks. We've got to go now,"

"Now? But I want to at least say good-bye-"

"There's no time," Dad interrupted, shaking his head. "Your mother is ill. She needs you. You can write to your friends when you get home. Besides," he added, as if on a side note, "It's not like you'll never see them again, is it?"

"All right,"I said softly, feeling awful as I looked at Lily and Alice, who were talking with James, Remus, Sirius and Peter. As my father placed one hand on my back to lead me away, Remus met my gaze. In confusion, he raised a hand as if not sure whether to say good-bye. I looked away and let me father lead me into the windy morning.

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

The trip home inside the family carriage was a hazy memory for me. I only remember sitting across from my father in silence, watching as the turrets of Hogwarts flash by in front of my eyes as Gwyn and Ewere, our horses, flew through the Hogwarts grounds under their invisibility charm. I remember the Great Lake's waters glistening under the morning sky and the Forbidden Forest brush against the underside of the carriage. I felt numb to everything, even nostalgia.

"Some things have changed since you've been home, Riona," Dad told me as we passed over open farm fields. "It's been two years since you've been home, hasn't it?"

"I'm sorry..."

"Not your fault at all, m'dear," he said, with unusual kindness. "We've been busy, you and I. And your mother has her....condition."

I played with a stray thread of my ripped graduation robes. "How is she?"

"Oh, she's not as good as - well, as she was before," Dad replied, clearing his throat and looking out the window."She's been taking her remedies...she's not disappearing at random moments like before. But she....we've come to an understanding."

"What do you mean?"

"She doesn't go off anymore, she's not as pale as she was. But she grew very sick very suddenly... that's all you need to know. I know that once you see her, everything will be cleared up. You might even find out some things, too," he added, eyebrows furrowing as he stared out the carriage window at the passing valley below.

I looked at him, puzzled, but he avoided my stare.

================

Aillbhe Manor was the same as I had remembered it: a large mass of alabaster stone resting on a high moor amidst patches of bristly heath and misty bogs. It had been in the family for six generations and was anything but a childhood home - yet I couldn't help but sigh with gladness as I disembarked from the carriage outside the wrought iron gate. A thick fog had settled over the isolated manor, but I could see lit torches through the mist, signaling the way. Dad led the way and I followed. Far off I could hear a squeak, and a familiar voice greeted us.

"Good evening to ye, master!" Ailil, our aged house elf, scurried to a stop as soon as we entered the gate. He held up a violet-dyed fur coat to me. "For ye, missus. It's chilly out here, missus!"

"Thank you. It's good to see you, Ailil," I said as I pulled the coat on, wrapping its warmth fur up to my chin.

"And it's good to see ye, missus! I was worried that ye might be a mite down, but -" Ailil abruptly paused as my father sent him a sharp glance. The elf then nodded, his wide ears curling back, his wide blue eyes alert. "I'll order supper, master." Bowing profusely, he hastened inside, leaving the heavy ebony wooden doors open for us.

"Come," my father ordered quietly, taking his familiar heavy, commanding steps inside the manor. The entrance hall was still covered with Celtic tapestries of dragons, thunder, and war. Flickering torches flanked the wooden paneled corridor, their tongues licking at the afternoon shadows. But somehow, the manor felt different.

"It is time, Riona, that you see your mother," Dad declared, turning in mid-step to face me. I tried not to cower under his severe gaze, so changed from the carriage ride. His Irish brogue strengthened as he turned around again and guided me down the red-carpeted floor. "Fianna has had much trouble come upon her. When she saw your foretold death, she became paranoid, unable to understand it or control herself..."

But his words faded from my ears as I only heard what he first said: When she saw your foretold death...! No....no... it couldn’t be...

"Fianna grew very weak," Dad continued, oblivious to my own paranoia. His shadow mixed with the ones on the walls, fading in an out of the torches' limited light. "She kept to her bed for several days. But now-" He stopped in front of a tall wooden door, and paused before he pushed it open.

I entered the room in a daze. It was also lined with a few faint torches, which lit a small room that was empty except for a stone platform standing in its middle. Darkness, a deeper and blacker one that I could have ever imagined, settled around me as I gazed at my mother lying on the platform. Her arms were crossed over her middle, holding a single white lily. Her velvet black robes and long ebony hair made her body's pallor appear whiter than the lily. And her eyes were closed.

I shook my head violently as I listened to my father's next words.

"But now she is at peace."

"NO!" I screamed, running to my mother's corpse. Running trembling hands over her cold forehead, I pounded a fist each time on the platform as I cried out, "No! No! No! No!"

"Control yourself, daughter," my father ordered, disgust evident in his voice. "She is dead, Riona. How will tears help?"

I whipped around, tears spilling down my face. "HOW DARE YOU? She's my mother! She is your wife! But there you stand as if nothing in this world could move you, as if you were made of the same stone that is holding her body up!"

He marched toward me, beard bristling."And how dare you raise your voice to me? Now, do you want to hear how she died or do you want to wail?"

"I want her to come back," I said hoarsely, sinking onto the icy floor and laying my head against her arm, now cold as ice. “I just want her to be here, with me."

"But she's dead. And the sooner you can understand that, the sooner you can give her the calm mourning that she deserves. Now, since you are more composed, I will tell you how she died. I am sure that you want to know."

I merely stared numbly at the floor, not able to look at my mother. I wanted to somehow block out the deadness in my father’s voice from the room, so my my mother would not hear it.

"As I said, she foresaw your death - in this attack by the Kakev. Of course, though she knows that her visions are only warnings, Fianna grew paranoid. She wouldn't listen to reason. At last, she disappeared. I went looking for her, of course. After twenty years of marriage, I knew her haunts. Yet she surprised me this time; I found her a few miles away, on the country border. Did you hear about the Ministry's execution of dark creatures?"

I nodded, forcing myself not to break into the sobs that were wrenching my heart. "Yes, but what do they have to do with Mother?"

"They have plenty to do with her," he hissed, pulling me up by my right arm and fervently examining my face. "They have much to do with your mother because she was one of those murdered."

I swallowed, my stomach churning painfully. "By the dark creatures that were attacking Muggles?"

"No," my father said, shaking his head. He looked like he was about to laugh. "Oh, no. Your mother was murdered by the Ministry of Magic."

"But they - they killed dark creatures!"

"Exactly," Father urged me, forcing me to come to the dreadful conclusion and watching as my eyes widened.

"No, it can't be," I said, refusing to believe it. "Mother... Mother was not a dark creature.."

"Oh, yes she was, girl!" He dropped my limp arm and paced the small room, eyes afire. "Oh, yes she was. And I bet you can guess just what kind of creature, couldn't you?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know precisely what I mean, Riona."

I gazed at my mother's impassive face, her long black hair crowning her head like a mourning veil. "She foresaw death...like me?"

"Like a banshee,"Father hissed. "Like a bloody banshee."

Edited by *Liliana*, 12 August 2012 - 08:21 PM.


#24
LaLaLuna

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I see why this was your favorite chapter to write, lol. The BIG secret is out for those who hadn't guess yet!

Thanks for my trophy, I shall eat well :( I won't gloat, though I want to so badly(you know how I love being right). I'm disappointed the Swyn Llyfr isn't a kitty mug :) LOL, but intrigued at the possibility of a book that can think for itself. . .where does it hold its brain? *cue voice of Mr Weasley*

Riona's father is so cold. A little surprising as he was married to a Banshee. . .well at least it's surprising to me. I would think it takes a lot of emotion to see, hold and possibly do something about the visions Rianna saw and he being totally opposite of that. I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes resentful of her father (imo no one should break the news of death like he did, heartless)

Very interesting talk between Remus and Riona. Same goes for the talk of death with Alice. Conflicting emotions there even if they were somewhat parrallel (that make sense, lol). Remus is very intuitive. He saw a lot despite what went on that night. . .wonder when they'll meet again, hmmm.

Extremely fantastic chapter Lils, glad you posted it.

Hanna

IKWT!

Beginnings:The Great Purification~by Liliana Muddied Black Blood~by Nicola
My Fics
Riddle and Secrets ~ Coming Full Circle ~ Living Memories ~ The Sorting of Priorities
Luna's Loss ~ A Summer's Day ~ Who Would Have Thought ~ Wilted Flower ~ Spring in the Air


#25
Willowgrl

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I'm so glad you began writing again, Lils. I missed your stories!

And this story is soooooo cool. I mean, it has everything that makes a story great. It could very wlell be another epic. ;) Sorry I can't say anymore, i'm in a hurry. but i love this story! PPMS! :P :D :D

#26
Ghostrider

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Hi Lil´s.

That´s something surprising. Riona´s mother being a banshee and killed by the ministry... And she inherited it. The Kakev knew her true nature - I like Riona more and more. A complex and deep character. I love to read about her ^_^

Oh, by the way: What does Swyn Llyfr mean actually? You never told me... :D

Silvia
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The heart ist the reflection of love
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#27
Jacqueline09

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Hey, love your story. Riona seems like an interesting character. update this asap, k?

#28
elven_girl

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You, my darling, are a genius! I liked the conversation between Riona and Remus...poor boy, he must have been so worried and angry...and now they have something deeper in common as they might both be hunted....can't wait till the next post but am far too tired to review properly...
''Death...comes for us all, my lords. Yes, even for Kings he comes, to whom amidst all their Royalty and brute strength he will neither kneel nor make then any reverence nor pleasantly desire them to come forth, but roughly grasp them by the very breast and rattle them until they be stark dead! So causing their bodies to be buried in a pit and sending them to a judgement...whereof at their death their success is uncertain.''

''But what matters to me is not whether it's true or not but that I believe it to be true, or rather not that I believe it, but that I believe it...'''

#29
Willowgrl

Willowgrl

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Where are you, Lils? :P It's been tooooo long since an update! And that was a cliffie, most definitely :P

#30
*Liliana*

*Liliana*

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I'm back! Have been sunbathing in Florida all this while. ^__^ But I managed to write *gasp* this chapter, even though it's a bit...off. Hopefully you'll like it, somehow, LOL.

Hanna: Thank you so much! HAHA, Swyn Llyfr can be a kitty mug JUST for you. And it holds its brain in a secret place, Mr. Weasley. :P I'm glad you see Riona's father as heartless as I do. I've known people like that, and it's amazing how they survive. Riona's father is the type who does not show any emotion because he thinks it's weak. But you can bet that he didn't sympathize with his wife much - he left her visions to her only. I'm glad you like the convos between Riona, Alice and Remus. Riona would only show her true feelings to her best friends, but it worked to her disadvantage. She didn't know how to express exactly what she felt. As for Remus, well...there's something going on underneath the surface. It's foreshadowing, in other words, hahahaha...And Riona will meet Remus when she least expects to. But she has to go through some things first, which will be described in this chapter.

Willow: Aww, you're back! Thanks a lot! I like your comments. ^__^ And I'm back now, LOL.

Silvia: Thank you! I'm flattered. *blush* You liking Riona so well makes me proud...I worked hard on complicating her character, hehe. And I have a whole history about banshees that I've collected and kind of made up on my own, lol. JK doesn't talk too much about them, so I had no other choice. I hope you'll like Riona's choice, or at least understand it, in this chapter. And Swyn Llyfr means "magic book" in Welsh, tee hee.

Jackie: Wow, thanks so much! So glad you made your way here. :blink: I hope you keep reading!

Elven_girl: Genius? Ooo, I'm flattered, LOL. Thank you very much! I'm delighted you liked the conversation between Remus and Riona. They're my favorite characters, including Lily, to write. o@ And yes, their 'kinds' will be hunted in the near future. The question is, how will they handle it? And no worries, I loved your review. ^__^


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Chapter Four: An Unwelcome Introduction

My mother was laughing with her mouth open wide, her head back and her inky black hair flowing behind her. Lit up with warmth, she looked like a young girl with not a care in the world. Nothing held her back.

And yet, as I examined her face, I sensed a sadness hidden in my mother's dark eyes that I had never seen before. I wondered whether the sadness had always been there, or whether I just chose never to see it.

I touched the glass of the photograph frame, running a finger over the ripples of my mother hair that were identical to mine. But as much as I examined my mother, who suddenly looked so trapped inside the photograph despite her smile, I couldn't find a trace of the monster that she was supposed to be. Perhaps the camera snapped only the side that she wants us to see: her human side.

What did a banshee look like? Did it carry a trade mark? Was there something in its eyes? In its voice? I don't know how I could have missed such clues in all the time I spent with Mother. Of all the people in the world, I thought I knew her the best.

And if what Dad said about her was true, then what he said about me - I swallowed with disgust and crumpled the photograph in my hands, watching as my mother's smile disappeared.

"Miss Riona? Miss Riona ma'am?"

I tossed the photo on the bed behind me, not caring where it landed. I lay back on the floor and turned sideways, its cold wooden surface cooling the heat of my face and tears.

"Miss Riona," Ailil insisted, his squeaky voice becoming shrill with urgency. He was standing behind my bedroom door, most likely wringing his leathery hands. "Yer father be wantin' to have a bit of a chat with ye, ma'am."

"Tell him to come here and chat, then."

"He's a tad busy with guests, missus. He wants ye to meet with them."

I snorted. Why wasn't I surprised? My darling father was as cold as my mother's tombstone. He hadn’t changed in the two years of my absence from this house. In the three days that I had been here, I hadn't seen so much as my father's shadow near my bedroom door. "Tell them I am too busy."

Ailil dropped his voice to a stage whisper, leaning down so that he could speak through the space under my door. "Beggin' yer pardon, missus, but yer father said he thinks it's mighty important for ye to meet them. And he'll understand if ye don't come, but he says that ye'll be interested in what these guests be having to say, ma'am."

My ears perked up at the last part of what Ailil had to say. My father never understood, he didn't care about understanding. I raised my head off the floor and wiped away my tears, then stood up. I had a feeling of what my father might intend by the lying message he sent to me. I opened the door to find a kneeling Ailil, who immediately rushed to his feet, his drooping ears bobbing. Taking in my long knotted long hair, my red eyes, my flushed face and pale hands, Ailil's large brown eyes widened in a mixture of surprise and pity.

"Miss Riona, would ye be likin' Ailil to pick out something nice for ye to wear -"

"Why?"I retorted, ruffling my hair so that it looked more wiry than ever. "So I could please my father and his bloody guests? I think not. If they have a problem with me, I would be quite happy to come back up here again."

Ailil bowed. "Ailil only meant to say that you ought to be looking your best, ma'am, for those guests downstairs are not your average guests, missus - they seem - they look to be a bit-" the elderly house-elf gave a small shudder as his luminous eyes met mine. "A bit strange."

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

"And you are sure she believes you, Cadogan?"

"I explained everything to her," came my father's deep voice in response. "Riona understands what her mother was. She is learning to accept it."

Leaning against the oak double doors that led into the parlor, I pressed my face against the left one and listened further.

"Perhaps she needs time. He asked us not to rush into this, remember," said another wizard, whose voice was rough around the edges.

"Yes, of course I know that," my father said, suppressing irritation. "She is my daughter. Besides, she is in mourning. All I want to do now is...introduce her to you."

"Well, you can do that now, Cadogan," said the first wizard, sounding somewhat amused. "Your daughter is standing at the doorway now, listening to our conversation."

Before I could even wonder how the wizard could have known, the parlor doors creaked open and my father's fiery dark green eyes, along with his usual frown, greeted me. As soon as he saw me in the flickering torchlight of the hallway however, the harshness of his gaze mellowed.

"Good afternoon, Riona. Come in."

I could feel his critical eyes examining my dress as I walked in, my head high and my hands clenched in nervous fists. The green wallpapered parlor, its antique furniture dusted and waxed for the guests, was only lit by the stone fireplace on my right. Nothing except black marble candelabras hung on the walls, and a mahogany wooden clock ticked the seconds by softly on top of the mantelpiece. Now I turned my eyes to the wizards that stood around the room who had been silently scrutinizing me all this while.

"Riona, I would like you to meet Walden McNair, Rabastan Lestrange, and Harmon Avery," said Father, extending an arm to point to each wizard, who bowed his head in turn. "They are friends of mine whom I thought you would like to meet. They have much to say to you."

"The question is, do I want to listen to them?"I replied, staring at each wizard. My father stirred in his proud posture, but before he could say anything, the wizard called McNair held up a resistant hand.

McNair walked toward me, his thick black mustache smiling. "I admire your boldness, Ms. Aillbhe. But I assure you that what we have to say is very important to you. It has to do with your mother and yourself, actually. First, I wish to express my condolences,” he began, with a gallant air.

"Did you know my mother?"

"No, but - "

"Then how could I care about what you have to say to me?"

"Perhaps if you shut your mouth and listen you will learn how you will care," said Harmon Avery, so quietly I would not have heard him if he had not first banged his silver cane on the carpeted floor.

Standing behind me, Father cleared his throat. "You have to excuse my daughter, Avery. She is in mourning, as you can see by her dress and toilette."

"No, this is the way I always dress when I have to be in the same room with you," I replied lightly, turning and glaring at my father. He cast me a threatening look that used to cause me to quake in my shoes, but now only angered me further.

A wizard with dark brown hair, quite young compared to the others, chuckled. He was leaning against the wall in a corner of the parlor. Rabastan Lestrange, as I remembered my father's introduction.

"She is as audacious as you said, Aillbhe,"said Rabastan, his light blue eyes shrewd as he smiled at me. "Quite refreshing."

I didn't like his look, so I responded to Avery instead. "Tell me what you came to say, then, instead of avoiding the subject."

"You are a banshee," Avery replied, arching his white eyebrows. The unfriendly wrinkles in his pale but strong face furrowed as he frowned at me in disapproval. "Yet you do not know what a banshee is."

"I studied -"

"Hogwarts is the Ministry's arm," Rabastan interrupted, his tone composed as he continued. "It presents the lies about dark creatures that the Ministry wants the magical commonwealth to believe. And banshees –rather, you – are much more than a definition in a magical book," he added, smiling at me. I glared at him.

"Banshees, in their magical creature form to be sure, are level four creatures, to be exact," McNair went on, nodding at my father as they all sat down on the velvet-backed chairs, robes rustling. I remained stiffly standing. "But the Mininstry’s definition of how dangerous a banshee can be is skewed. For example, a banshee's scream is said to kill, but that is not necessarily true. A banshee can train her scream to kill, if she likes."

Avery's unfriendly wrinkles in his pale face deepened as he spoke. "In that same scream is all the pain of a banshee's visions - a pain that can be trained to become murderous. A banshee's scream is a reaction to her visions, for she experiences the death of the victim she sees - yet she does not die."

I suppressed a shudder as the inklings of my vision pricked my skin, reminiscent of that dreadful day. Folding my arms, I quietly asked, "Then why did my mother die?"

"Because banshees are not immortal," Avery boomed, his voice becoming rougher than it already was. "They do not die from their visions but they can become sick or be murdered, as your mother was."

"By the Ministry," I added bitterly.

"Yes, which is why we are here." McNair gave a small cough, glancing at my father.

"Riona, McNair and Avery have been friends of mine for many years," Father began, smiling at both and then nodding at Lestrange. "Rabastan is the son of my longtime friend Jerrold Lestrange, so I feel I know him just as well. We all agree that the Ministry has corrupted its rights as a governing authority. The massacre is only one of many instances."

"The reality of our world is determined by the power we give to our authorities," said Avery, tapping his fingers across the arm of his chair. "The power of the Ministry has defined all that you and every other ignorant fool knows about magic, dark creatures included."

"No one questions what they know because they are all cowards,” Rabastan said, lighting a cigar with his wand.

"But you do?" I asked, arching my eyebrows as Rabastan blew a gentle circlet of smoke into the air.

"Yes," McNair replied with a sigh. "As well as other friends we have who believe the Ministry is not doing its job. To cut this short," he went on, his mustache smiling more widely than ever, "We would like to invite you to be a part of our...cause."

"Why?" I demanded.

"Why not?" Rabastan asked, cigar dangling from the corner of his mouth. "Your Daddy's already in on it."

I laughed dryly, pacing to the front of the parlor as my father met my glare unwaveringly. "If you want to convince me to join your treasonous revolt, mentioning my father as an incentive is not the way to go,” I snapped, ignoring my father’s bristling.

"You do not understand,"Avery growled, silver eyebrows glowering at me. "This movement is not treasonous. We are only following someone who has a better idea of the way things should be in our world, a world where witches as yourself with such - supernatural powers may live a fulfilling life instead of suffering a painful and unjust death for just being who you are."

"Riona,” Father began, standing up to his full height, towering over me, "I joined this cause because I believe in its purpose.” He set his glass of sherry on the mantelpiece, striding toward me. “Do you think that I am not also mourning for your mother? Do you think there is not an hour that goes by that I don't regret I didn't guard her better so that she would not have gone running after you? But none of what I could have done would have saved Fianna. The Ministry took your mother's life, Riona, just because she happened to wander into the same village where so many dark creatures were registered. Do you want that to happen to you? Or any others like yourself?"

Death didn't seem like such a bad solution, yet as I looked at my father I knew that he wouldn't understand why. Instead I replied with a sullen, "No."

"Then why not join us?" McNair said, leaning toward me, elbows on knees. "You would be able to avenge your mother's death."

"And find out who you are and what you would be able to do as a banshee," Father added.

"Who else is part of this revolt?"I asked quietly. "Who is this leader you'e talking about?"

Rabastan grinned cheekily. "Answer to question one: those who will help us, who agree with us. Many are banshees and other supposed 'dark creatures.' Others are wizards and witches who realize that the Ministry has gone too far. Answer to question two: we'll take you to meet him, someday."

"We are gathering as many knowledgeable wizards, witches, and Ministry's outcasts as fast as magically possible," Avery continued. "Right now we are working secretly to determine how we can show the Ministry its proper. . . limitations. We have people inside the Ministry who are helping us as well. But most importantly, our leader acting on a plan that might help us all unite under a new banner, a better one for our magical world."

"What about my friends?" I murmured, falling into an empty chair by the door. For some reason, at this moment where everything I knew and am was being questioned, Lily and Alice's faces flew into my mind. "Can they join?"

"We are not talking about their membership, Riona," said Father. "We are talking about you, Riona Aillbhe. Your friends have no say in your choices, do they?"

"Of course not."

“In time, you may seek them out and explain to them of our glorious cause,” Avery added, nodding.

"But what is your choice?"asked my father, the fireplace's flames beginning to die out.

I stared at the fading light of the fire, watching as the logs dissolved into dust. And a voice answered from somewhere inside me as I imagined how such flames could have eaten my mother alive.

"Where do I sign up?"

::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- ::: -- :::

Ailil's squat body bumbled toward my bed, his leathery head crouching underneath. "I could've sworn ye left a case underneath here, missus, if old Ailil could only find it-"

"Thank you Ailil," I said quietly, folding some robes into a satchel on top of the thick cotton spread over my bed. "Father didn't leave me enough time to pack, so I'm just grabbing things as I find them."

"Not to worry ma'am, not to worry!" came the house elf's shrill voice, muffled underneath the bed. A thump sounded, then a scuffle, and finally Ailil's ears popped out followed by his head. He triumphantly held up a leather bag with his two stumpy arms.

“Thanks.” I took the bag and stuffed the rest of the clothes, as well as brush and shoes, into it. "Father went off with the guests after our conversation, Ailil. Do you know who will be here to lead me to the camp?"

The house elf shook his head as he tottered to my vanity table and picked up a mirror, shining it with his blue cotton robe. "No, missus. The master only said that someone would be back for ye, missus. And he said that Ailil should help ye to pack as quick as a wink, missus." He peered at the mirror critically and then placed it carefully into the bag he found.

I strolled over to my window, pushing aside the lace curtains. The moors undulated like sea waves, dark and rich underneath the full moon. The manor was sitting alone on top of the highest hill. And somehow, despite the comfort I found in overlooking the isolation of my stormy moors, I longed to flee from it all. I longed for something different - a new home.

"Ailil," I said, pressing my face against the cool glass of the window. "Would you bring me my mother's photograph? I think I threw it on the floor somewhere."

"Do you mean this?"

I whipped around, my heart in my throat, and met the laughter of Rabastan's light blue eyes. He held up a crumpled photograph in his hand, which I swiftly snatched while he chuckled.

"Your little elf already left to get the horses. You're welcome, by the way."

"What are you doing here?"

"Taking you to our camp, what else? Did you think I was here to steal your knickers?"

I rolled my eyes and walked toward one of my bags, unfolding the picture and tucking it into one of the pockets. "I'm all packed, let's go."

"Have to wait."

"For?"

"The signal." Rabastan, tall and slim, sauntered next to me, glancing at the night sky out of my window. "The signal that will tell me it's safe to take you there. We don't want any unnecessary obstacles, do we?"

I peered at him and folded my arms. "Are you going to blindfold me, too?"

He broke into a cheeky grin. "Sorry, I’m not into that."

"You're a little pervert, aren't you? Well, don't get any funny ideas with me."

He laughed and sat gracefully on the wooden chair, taking out a French cigar from his pocket. "Don't flatter yourself. If I wanted to ravish you, I already would have." He lit the cigar with an ebony wand.

"You're so generous," I said, leaning against the wall as cigar smoke twisted into the air. I waved it away from my face. "So- tell me about this camp."

"You'll see it when you get there."

"Where do we live? Are there any other- will I see any -"

"Banshees?" Rabastan asked, quirking a cocky eyebrow. "Yes, there are some. They come and go while we stay in tents. The camp is magically protected - the Ministry has no clue where we are located. And we'll make sure it stays that way, which is why we're waiting for the bloody signal," he added, glancing impatiently at the sky once more. Then he looked at me.

"May I ask you something?"

"What?" I wasn't sure if I wanted to know what went on in this wizard's mind.

"Would you kill if the opportunity arises?"

"I don't know any forbidden magic,"I replied, avoiding his gaze.

"You know what I'm asking, Riona. Would you ever train your scream to kill? There is someone who might teach you at the camp."

"I don't know," I whispered, playing with a stray thread from my dark blue robes. "I suppose- suppose if I had to defend myself - if I really had that kind of power - but then, I don't know whether I would use such power if I had it."

"Such power is not to be used lightly unless you know how to use it,"Rabastan said coolly, blowing another circlet into the air. "Unless you desire to use it.” He played with his cigar, tapping it against his open palm and then pointing it at me. “You can learn to. And as far as using it for self-defense, you'll have plenty of opportunities. I hope you know what you're getting yourself into."

Edited by *Liliana*, 12 August 2012 - 08:22 PM.





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