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Chapter 94: Love
A/N: WOOO THE BIG CONFRONTATION! SORRY THAT THIS TOOK SO LONG. I wish I had a good excuse, but my excuse is laziness, I fear. Anyways, this is waht I'd like to call the falling action of this story--thank you all for your support during this long long long story. I love you all!! :) feedback appreciated ok i'm done groveling xoxoxo anne
Scarlett's eyes opened, wide, but they did not open up to see reality.
Or was it her reality? The world that she was surrounded with was only tones of white. There was no wind, no sun, no clouds. The sky was just an intense white light that shone upon wherever she now was.
Was this her heaven? Was she dead? She couldn't be sure. The world that she was in was hues of white, yes, but it also looked familiar. Trees towered over her but they did not loom. Leaves covered the ground entirely; not one looked as if it was decaying. Everything was vibrant and alive in this universe.
But was Scarlett?
She looked down at herself. Her clothing was white, a form-fitting and comfortable dress that stretched to her wrists and to her ankles. It had no decoration on it, no ornate embroidery. No anything. Her hair was pulled away from her face as well. Most of all, she was not wearing the choker around her neck.
She felt like an angel, lighter in spirit and calmer in mind than she ever remembered being. Voldemort felt so far away, so distant a threat, and she smiled as she realized that her headache, one that had been plaguing her since she'd gotten her Dark Mark, had left her entirely.
But then she realized that, as Voldemort felt so far away, Sirius did too. He felt a whole universe away. The notion that there was so much distance that separated the two of them evaporated the lightness that she had felt and left a gaping, painful hole in her heart.
Scarlett didn't want to be in this world, however calm, without Sirius.
She grew jittery and anxious without him there, turning around in case he was nearby and she had missed him but of course she had not. "Sirius?" she said aloud, her voice distressed.
As she said it, the words became absorbed into the ground in a way completely unlike the reality she'd always known. The three syllable name caused a tremor to pass through where she stood, and she felt the world shake with a sense of increasing nervousness. "Sirius?" she said again, and once more the name caused the forest floor to tremble.
She didn't know where to go. There was nowhere to go. It was all white and...she gulped as she looked to the horizon to find that this world, whatever it was, had an ending. It did not stretch on for an eternity; she could clearly discern that the brilliant light from the sky surrounded her like a dome.
And she noticed that the brightness of the sky wasn't just trapping her—it was coming ever closer, little by little...
To envelop her? To take her over?
Scarlett felt sick; she thought this was all over. "Voldemort!" she yelled out, angry, but all her words did was make the floor shake even more.
Of course he wouldn't respond. Voldemort had always said that he'd had enough of her, and now, as the moments dwindled and the light came closer, he was ready to rid of her once and for all. Ready to take her soul as his own, forever, to trap her within the choker.
What was she going to do? There was no answer. She didn't want to approach the whiteness that was coming towards her yet she didn't want to wait for it either. There seemed to be no option, no escape, no hope, she'd never see Sirius again—
She turned around; she could have recognized that voice anywhere although she'd only heard it a few times before. "Rowena?" Scarlett breathed, a weight alleviating from her stomach at the added company. "What's happening?"
But Rowena did not emerge from the forest. "Come in here," Rowena urged, "and quickly, before it's too late."
Scarlett wasted no time in responding. "Am I dead?" she asked; she had to know.
Even in the world of white, the world that was crashing to her feet, Scarlett couldn't help admiring Rowena Ravenclaw's eyes. They were sapphire blue and deep with knowledge. They glimmered even when Rowena herself did not move, and they spoke in a way that could not be articulated through language alone.
Rowena and Scarlett had so many things in common, despite being hundreds of years apart. They both read the stars. They were both a little unconventional, unique in a way that made them intriguing but difficult to become close to. They both had loved Hogwarts but had become especially taken to the area surrounding the castle.
Something separated them, though. When Scarlett looked at Rowena, legendary Rowena, and Rowena looked back at her with unfathomable wisdom for the future, they did not look at each other the same.
Rowena's eyes sparkled with such bravery, with such unbelievable goodness. Scarlett herself was not bad, she knew, but there was something about Rowena's eyes that made Scarlett pause.
Scarlett was good, yes...but looking at the person in front of her made it clear that her pursuit of goodness was not quite finished.
"You aren't dead," Rowena said, her voice even. "Scarlett. A child of the stars. I am so proud of you. For all that you've done for me and my choker, I owe you an eternity of gratitude."
Unconsciously Scarlett's hand graced her neck. "But he has it," she said, and felt ashamed for saying so. "I tried—but my friend Regulus—I couldn't just—"
Rowena smiled. "Yes, your friend. You did brilliantly, Scarlett, brilliantly."
But Rowena shook her head. "Goodness will prevail over evil," she said with confidence. "And that is all that I care about. Truly.
"But the battle's not yet over," Rowena said, her eyes looking upward to the sphere of bright white they were surrounded by. "There is one more thing that you have to do. He is trying to take your soul now, you see."
At the look of panic on Scarlett's face, Rowena said, "Do not worry, Scarlett. Stay calm. This invader of your soul...Cannot stand positive emotion.
"Of all things, he detests love. Just like Salazar—evil is eternal." She smiled at Scarlett. "But so is good."
"So... you're saying that I have to fight him off...with love," Scarlett said slowly, incredulously. "I don't think that will be enough. I don't think I have enough left to give. He's been doing this for months and I don't think... I don't think I have the strength..."
Rowena touched Scarlett's shoulder, gently. "You'd be surprised," she murmured. "Have faith, my child of the stars. With love anything is possible."
Ravenclaw's eyes shimmered with affection and hope. "I'll be waiting for you."
As quick as she'd come to Scarlett's aid, she retreated deeper into the forest and was gone again.
"Rowena?" Scarlett asked, but she knew she was asking for her in vain. After all, it wasn't Rowena's fight; it was her own.
And now, as her world came closer and closer to ending, she could feel it in a way that had been stifled that night in the forest. In a world that was not reality, but was not a dream...in the world that contained her soul and his, fighting together...
Scarlett knew that this was it.
"I'm not afraid of you," Scarlett said to the sky, her voice surprisingly level. "It's you and me, Voldemort. And you will not win."
The ground below her moved, but barely; no matter how much confidence she expressed to Voldemort, it would be nothing compared to... love, of all things, in all places.
She had to find love within her. There was really only one place she knew to look.
"I love Sirius," she yelled out. "You might have made me do all of those terrible things. You might have possessed my body. There were times when I thought that you were going to win."
That bright light grew closer to her but suddenly it didn't scare her anymore. Voldemort would not be allowed to take this part of her.
"Not anymore," she vowed. "Because you were able to take my body over, but you never got my heart. When you tried to get me to feel the same way you did, you knew all along that I was never fully yours. That I would never be! Doesn't that eat you up inside? The most brilliant wizard," she mocked (how did she have the strength to mock him?), "the notorious 'Dark Lord'...couldn't accomplish that.
"Sirius Black did!" Scarlett screamed; the whiteness began to shudder above her. "You failed and he did not! Years of your...indoctrination...a childhood surrounded by people who all were your followers...you thought you had me, just like you think you have everyone else!"
Scarlett laughed, as something in her words spread throughout her, rising her up and strengthening her.
In a hopeless situation, she had found hope. She had found love.
"But you don't," she screamed, gleefully. "You're nothing more than a whisper! All of those years of molding me as your own...but when I got to know Sirius... he sent it all crashing down. A brilliant plan by a brilliant wizard. Foiled! Do you know why, Voldemort, or is the answer something that you have never been able to comprehend?!"
Below her, the ground began to shake, more and more, as the white dome began to lose balance.
Voldemort was losing, Voldemort was losing and she felt exhilarated knowing so—all because...
"Love," Scarlett said. In one word there was so much. In one word there was Sirius Black and his brother Regulus. In that word there was Theodore, Georgiana, love for all those friends she'd lost. In that word her family resided, Annabelle and Marc Andre, Tiffany and Priscilla.
And Tenereus—who Voldemort had killed but whose flame had never been extinguished inside Scarlett's heart.
With the word also came apparitions that surrounded her, apparitions of all those moments that Scarlett would never forget, the moments that made her who she was...that filled her with love.
"I'm Theodore," a young boy, dressed formally but with hair unkempt, said to a girl who had never felt as nervous as she did at that first socialite party, fifteen years ago. "Theodore Nott."
"Georgie!" a fourteen-year old girl said as she turned to her friend. "My hair looks amazing, thank you thank you—do you think Professor Houston will like it?!" Her friend winked and the two dissolved into giggles, so amused by their inside joke that their stomachs hurt.
"Priscilla?" An adolescent Scarlett looked as her older sister, always the rock, put a reassuring shoulder on her younger sister. "You don't have to talk again. We understand. We're family, we love each other no matter what." Tiffany kissed Priscilla on the forehead, and the three sisters all became close, Scarlett's arm around Priscilla on one side and Tiffany's arm on the other. "Always."
"What's for dinner tonight?" Scarlett's tired father, Marc Andre, said to his wife. Scarlett, so young her feet couldn't hit the floor, sat on the couch with him, while her mother scurried around the kitchen busily. "I know I always ask," Marc Andre said, as he absentmindedly took his daughter in his arms and wrapped her in an embrace, "and you know I'm only teasing, dear. I've never been upset by your cooking."
He was a centaur and she had never seen a creature so magnificent and frightening. She braced herself to scream, to run away, to fight, but before she could Tenereus smiled at her knowingly and said, "Welcome to my outlook, child of the stars. You have a gift that many others do not. Do not be afraid to be here." He looked up to the night sky, and his eyes sparkled as he said, "The secret of the world is written in the stars..."
"Scarlett," Regulus said, taking in her state, and then the next instant, he was there, wrapping his arms around her even as she could not stop sobbing, the action once and for all placing Voldemort back in the confines of her mind in disgust. "You're going to be okay, Scarlett," he said, and she knew that she was going to be now...
"I know I've said this before. But you need to listen to me and trust me when I tell you that it isn't important. Whatever happened in the past isn't important. We've all got light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are."
All around her these people, these moments, filled up the space, one moment on top of another on top of another, until the space became overfilled, as the shaking which had made the forest floor feel like an earthquake intensified, as the white dome began to crack as it realized that it couldn't handle it—couldn't handle love—
And then all shattered, as if it were made out of glass—except the fragments of the whiteness were so small they looked like glitter.
Voldemort hadn't won.
Scarlett discerned, behind the glittery substance, the castle nearby, her true home.
She now knew what to do. It didn't need to be said.
Rowena peeked from the trees, even as Scarlett took a step towards the castle. "You will always have that strength within you," Rowena said, her eyes bright. "Never forget that it's there, Scarlett. You are good."
And again she had retreated back into the forest and Scarlett knew she would never see her again, as Scarlett turned her body towards the entrance to the castle, her steps sure and ready. She walked through Hogwarts, past where she'd thrown the ring at Theodore, past the Dark Arts room where she'd fainted, past all the bad places and past all the places that were filled with memories drenched in love, until she reached the Hospital Wing.
The scene in front of her moved quickly; nurses sped around frantically, and Scarlett saw Dumbledore pacing by a hospital bed, saying something under his breath and his eyes towards the heavens. Across from Dumbledore she saw Regulus, who was in fits of sleep.
Scarlett smiled knowingly at him. It all made sense now. Everything.
Steadily, she made her way towards the hospital bed where she knew her body was.
The Scarlett on the bed was no longer tossing and turning. It was not screaming and it was not moving. It looked empty, almost, as if the soul was not quite acquainted with the body as it should be. Almost lifeless.
But this did not concern the Scarlett who looked over her. The calmness was no longer troubling. It was no longer the disturbing silence of the defeated; now, it was the tranquility of victory, of some sort of freedom.
And Scarlett knew what to do. Although she had found freedom here, had found wisdom and love in the dimension she existed in, it was still not enough because Sirius was not with her. If it meant that she had to sacrifice some of that freedom—if it meant that victories like the one she'd just had would not last forever, that new hardships would exist and endure—it would be tough but it would not be impossible.
"Not with love," Scarlett said, as her hand grasped the hand of the body on the hospital bed.
There was a rapid flash—a sudden jerk—and the world of white disappeared in a moment as Scarlett Devous opened her eyes and returned to the world of the living once more.