Chapter 31 : Midnight Gifts
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Harry shut his eyes, wishing he did not feel so . . .uncouth and unfit to be in Her presence. He who had been touched and tainted with the mark of evil as a baby, how could She consider him worthy to be Her initiate? He wondered in despair. Overcome, he bowed his head and felt tears of shame fill his eyes and doubt cloud his mind, despite the silver crescent about his neck.
Suddenly, She was before him, kneeling on the floor, her deep violet gown trailing in the dust. He was horrified. But he couldn't manage to say anything. Don't, Lady! Please don't! I'm not worthy to have You fall in the dust and ruin Your gown. He felt arms come about him and pull him close and then he felt the warmth and love she bore him flowing into him. Harry, it is merely clothes. Child, you need never feel unworthy of my regard or my love. Harry, do you not yet know who you are?
I know who I am. Harry Potter, the supposed savior of the wizarding world.
Her hand stroked his hair. That, yes, but oh so much more, Chosen. Did you think Jack o'the Greenwood came to all who trespassed in Sherwood? He came because he wished to speak with you, to get to know his many times great-grandson.
I don't understand, Lady. Do you mean . . .we are related . . .?
She smiled gently. Yes, you are descended from our son, Robin Hood, he whose legend still remains to this day. You are a child of wood and moonlight, for Robin was my son too, and much beloved. But he chose to live and die a mortal, like his beloved Marian. They are together now in my paradise, forever. You are descended from Robin's daughter, Liliana of Locksley, and from her to your mother, Lily Evans Potter. We are bound together, grandson, by ties of blood and magic, and you shall always be in my heart.
Harry felt his throat constrict. He wanted that, so much, and yet . . .yet he recalled how Voldemort had Marked him with a lightning bolt scar . . .
He may have Marked you, child, but that does not make you his. You belong to me, by blood and choice, and one silly scar shall not change that. You have inherited a great deal of magic, youngling, and my protection upon you still endures. . .I am sorry I could not do more to help you as you grew, but you mortals grow in the blink of an eye, and by the time I focused back . . .you were as you are now and so I Sent Severus to you . . .
You told me once that I was supposed to right a great wrong, Lady. Is this it?
No. That task is yet to come.
Do I need to . . .pass a test for my initiation then?
She chuckled, low and deep. Oh, Harry! Your test was to heal Moon Fire and to learn to trust yourself and him, and vice versa. You passed with flying colors. Your compassion and determination is your greatest strength. The knowledge of your true lineage is the first of my gifts to you. She rose, drawing him to his feet.
"For all that you are and all that you shall become, child of wood and moonlight, I give to you my favor and as a sign of that favor you shall be able to take the shape of my most sacred animal. Behold!"
Harry felt himself shifting, changing, and then he stood before Selene, towering over her, his spiral horn almost touching the moon, or so it seemed. He looked down and saw powerful hooves of sparkling silver. He shook his head and felt a silky mane drift over his eyes.
"Behold—the midnight unicorn!" Selene cried.
Harry looked at his flanks and saw a glossy ebony coat that refracted light upon it and made it sparkle with a thousand dark rainbows. Selene's Gift to him had been to make him an Animagus—a black unicorn. Never before had She given that form to Her Chosen, only Harry had that honor.
He shifted, his hooves clattering noisily upon the tile floor. Wow! I'm a unicorn! Wow! And Her descendant! And Jack's too.
He looked towards Severus and 'Mione, they were standing with their mouths open.
Abruptly, he was himself again, standing before his goddess, an acolyte in a white robe with the crescent blazing upon his chest. And yet he was more. So much more.
He wanted to thank Her, but could not manage to remember any words in any language at all. Her revelation about his past and his lineage had shaken him to his core. He was one of Her blood children and the blood of Jack the Green Man and the legendary Robin Hood. Overwhelmed by Her Gift and the knowledge She had given him, he stared at Her, mute. I feel like a fool. I don't know the words to say, how to tell Her thank you—
Child, we never needed words before. I can see into your heart. You are most welcome, my beloved grandson. Use my gift wisely. The unicorn's horn cannot only purify water and heal poisons and injuries, it can also banish revenants and undead with a touch and in battle it is sharper than any blade. Be true, be steadfast, and you shall triumph over darkness. And always remember, I love thee.
She smiled warmly at him then, the tender smile of a mother for a son who has grown up right before her eyes.
Harry bowed his head, joy and awe intermingling within him.
Then she turned to Hermione. Daughter, you have borne many burdens these past weeks, and sorrow lies like a black beast upon your shoulders. I would keep you from this battle along with Harry, but your heart is not the sort to stay safe while your friends fight battles on their own. Brave little lioness, your strongest Gift is your scintillating mind, and yet, even a genius may answer a call to arms. You have unsettled debts to collect and scores to settle with the murderers of your human kin. To that end, I give you these.
Selene opened Her hands. In them rested a lance of pure silver, capped with platinum, etched with Her holy crescent.
This is the Silver Lance, once used millennia ago to slay the Demon King, it shall penetrate the defenses of any evil foe, magical or otherwise. To aid you in your fight, I also Gift you with Clear Thought and Vision, allowing you to see past any illusion, deception, or magical ward. You shall need both to overcome the enemies that threaten you. Use them wisely. She moved over and kissed Hermione upon the forehead, and the touch of her lips sent a jolt of warmth and piercing power through the young witch.
Hermione felt her eyes sting briefly and then she blinked and it seemed as if her vision had sharpened. When she gazed at Harry and Severus, she could see glowing auras surrounding them and when she looked at Selene, it was magnified tenfold. "I shall, Bright One."
There is one thing more, something which will heal your broken heart. You are not the last of your line.
"I'm not? But I don't have anyone left in my family . . ." she stuttered.
Ah, but you do. You simply do not realize it. You shall find out what I speak of after the battle is done. For that secret is not mine to share and the necessity of it is best explained when you have the time to contemplate it and understand wherefore it occurred . . .There is more to you than you know, Hermione.
"Can't you tell me now? Please?"
Selene shook her head. Now is not the right time. Will you not take up my Gift, warrior mage?
Hermione took the lance and held it. To her surprise, it felt warm to the touch, and surprisingly light, like a baton. "I shall, Mother. But. . .I've never used a lance before and I don't have a horse to ride."
"The lance knows how to wield itself, and as for a horse, Moon Fire shall carry you into the fray. He is a war horse without peer. May all your enemies flee before you."
She hugged Hermione too and hummed a soothing song into her mind.
For long minutes they remained so, a pleasing tableau of a mother and daughter.
When Selene finally released her, Hermione was dry-eyed and filled with determination and a fierce courage that would have done credit to Godric Gryffindor himself. She was also burning with the need to know more about Selene's cryptic assertion that she still had family remaining. But she sensed that she would get no more out of the goddess and so held her tongue.
Finally She glided over to Severus, and there was a subtle change in Her demeanor when She gazed upon him. With Harry and Hermione, She had been a mother-figure, gentle and compassionate and loving. With Severus, however, She changed, and became more lover and companion, and Her eyes burned with the light of a thousand stars. My Severus. I have watched you long and long, and have always felt a deep connection to you, more so than any other of my Chosen. Your life has been filled with hardship and challenge and sacrifice, much of it at my behest.
He stared deep into her eyes, which were a violet so pure no mere flower could have matched it. Bright Lady, what I endured was no more and no less than what others have before me. It was the least I could do, and a privilege to serve. I am Yours always.
My loyal sorcerer. Rarely have you asked me for anything for yourself, which is why I gifted you with the form of my sacred stallion. And I would ask that you be my consort and make the Marriage of Sky and Earth with me, but first . . .first the Oathbreaker must be settled with, for only then will your children be safe and you can relax and enjoy yourself. She smiled, a slow seductive smile that made the blood heat in his veins and a flush climb up his cheekbones.
I . . .I know not what to say, Great One. That You would consider me worthy to be Your Consort, I who am nothing much to look at, out of all others You might have chosen . . .I am honored beyond words . . .
She stopped him before he could reverence Her. Severus Snape, You are more than pleasing to me . . .your beauty is both without and within and your heart, while wounded badly, has at last mended from the rejection you suffered long ago. Wilt thou not accept me, beloved?
I shall, a thousand times yes, he agreed, without hesitation. How could he not? She was everything he was not, and all that he would ever desire.
She laughed joyously and kissed him, a brief kiss, but it sent shockwaves through him. Hear me now, Severus. Since I cannot interfere directly, lest the Balance of the World be broken past repair, I have asked you to be My Hand of Justice, and to slay the traitor who once wore my symbol. I grieve that this must be so, but Thomas Marvolo Riddle no longer hears my voice, only the voice of Set. He is lost to me. And a danger to you and my Chosen. He must be stopped, and thus I give you two gifts to aid you. The first is a gift of the mind—the ability to speak telepathically with anyone and to hear the thoughts of your enemies and also to control to an extent the minds of others if there is need. This gift will prove invaluable when you need to coordinate your allies during battle and summon them to fight. She placed a hand upon his forehead and he felt his mind opening and expanding. But you also have the gift of closing your mind, and so need never fear going mad from overhearing too many minds at once.
My Lady, I thank you.
She held up a hand. Wait. I am not done yet. The last gift I shall give you is the magic of my Touch. With my blessing, you shall have the power of a god in your hands, for the duration of the battle and afterwards for three hours. Touch an enemy and he shall die as you will it, touch an injured comrade and he shall be healed, no matter the wound, so long as breath still remains in the body. But you cannot raise the dead. I figured this would help you more than any specific spell. She took Severus's long-fingered hands in Her own and kissed the palms.
A golden glow suffused them and he felt fire flare along his nerve endings and then flicker and die. But he could feel the magic surging within him, like a wildfire, and it made his hands tingle. I am forever grateful, O Bright One.
She put Her hands upon his cheeks and drew his mouth down to Hers. He felt the world spin about him as he tasted ambrosia and nectar and the pure essence that was unmistakably Her own. A kiss for luck, my Endymion, such as ladies give their love before he goes to war. Go quickly and return quickly, beloved mine. Upon your return, you shall have what was promised.
Severus dared to smile up at Her and he wished that Voldemort was already dead, for never before had he felt so loved, so cherished, and his heart was filled to overflowing with love for Her in return.
She gave his cheek one last caress and then called, "Farewell, my children and my blessing go with you!"
Then she vanished in a cloud of silver sparkles and the three were left standing in the center of the ruined temple, stunned and breathless.
When they finally came back to themselves, the moon had begun its descent and Severus gestured and cleaned up the altar. Then he blurred into Moon Fire and the two acolytes mounted and he carried them home. They had much to ponder and much to absorb, though right then the two young people were exhausted and started nodding off over Moon Fire's withers.
The black stallion tossed his head back and whinnied sharply, waking them from their doze enough to ensure that they hung on and did not fall off. When they reached the house and dismounted, Severus directed both of his charges to get into sleep wear and go to bed, they would discuss everything in the morning.
Hermione took the lance, which glimmered in the moonlight, and leaned it reverently in a corner of the den. Then, amid a jaw cracking yawn, she went to get changed into her pajamas and so did Harry and Severus.
"Bed? After all of that, you want us to just . . .go to bed?" Harry said in disbelief. How could Severus just expect them to sleep as if it were an ordinary evening?
The Potions Master frowned at his ward. "Let me rephrase my original statement. I am going to bed. You are old enough to decide whether or not you wish to stay awake on your own, and don't need me to read you a bedtime story and tuck you in. However, don't whine tomorrow that you're too tired to see straight."
"Okay, okay. It's just . . .after what She told us . . .how can you just go to sleep?"
"By closing my eyes and breathing in and out." His guardian replied sarcastically. Then he turned on his heel and headed towards his room, leaving Harry and Hermione staring after him.
"Sweet dreams!" Harry couldn't resist calling after.
"Cheeky brat!" Snape growled. "Just for that you can scrub the kitchen floor . . .and the hallway . . .before breakfast, at five AM, without magic!"
"What?" Harry protested. "What'd I say?"
Snape's door slammed.
Hermione snickered. "Oh, just go to bed, Harry. Before you end up in trouble for the rest of the summer."
"But . . .but 'Mione! All I did was wish him—"
"—Sweet dreams, I know. Kind of rude and obnoxious, especially after you heard Selene call him Her Endymion. Remember?" she thumped him playfully on the back of the head.
"Oh. Err . . .I didn't even think about . . .oh, Merlin . . .no wonder he wants to strangle me . . ." Harry blushed, for his comment had just been in fun, he hadn't been poking fun at Severus' newly chosen status as Her . . .consort.
"I could tell. Just go to bed, Harry. We can talk more in the morning, when your brain's functioning again. I'm tired too. Good night." Then she kissed him, smirking, before heading over to the couch.
Harry decided to follow her advice and headed up to the loft. His mind was still reeling from all he had been told and he was sure he wouldn't sleep a wink, but once his head touched the pillow, he was out like a light.
Severus fumed silently behind the closed door of his room. The nerve of the brat, speaking so to him! For the first time since Harry had come to live there, he had felt an honest to goodness desire to smack the boy upside the head. Sweet dreams indeed! Although, a naughty part of him whispered, his cheeky son was right, he would have sweet dreams, for the first time since he was fifteen and had fantasized about himself and Lily. Only this fantasy would not be a mere dream, but an eventual reality. If he survived the coming conflict. Because he knew, as did Selene, that even with Her Gifts, there were no guarantees in war. She had upped the odds in their favor, but even so . . .it only took one moment of distraction, or a lucky blow, to end a life.
Shivering slightly in the cooling air, he tossed his sleep robe on his chair and slipped beneath the sheets. Much had been revealed and much promised and still, the Bright Lady kept Her own counsel. His mouth curved up in a smile of pure delight. She had chosen him as Her consort. My Endymion. If he hadn't heard it from Her own lips, he would have never believed it. He ran his tongue over his lips and could still taste her, like a breath of fresh air, like pure magic, sweeter than honey, upon his tongue.
He closed his eyes, tumbling effortlessly into the realm of dreams, where he and his Ladywalked through a meadow of late summer violets and moonflowers, hand in hand, for a secret tryst in the moonlight. And in his sleep he smiled, a wicked smirk of guilty pleasure, all his vows fulfilled.
Well, were you surprised?
What do you think Selene meant when she told Hermione she was not the last of her line?
Due to some confusion by a few reviewers on a different site, I've added the following note--Harry is NOT a superpowerd unicorn. He is an ordinary unicorn save for his black coat, the sign of the goddess' favor. In my world a unicorn's horn can: Heal wounds, both magical and not, purify water, heal some magical curses, cure someone from poison, AND fight undead, the horn is sort of like a blessed item. The healing properties of the horn come straight from mythology, the undead part is something I added. Harry is NOT immortal, even though he's Selene's descendant he can die. The only special Gift he has is the Animagus form and the ability to master wandless magic, plus his strong magical Gift. Other than that, he's just like the Harry we all know and love.
Second, the Gifts given here by Selene were given for a reason. Most are not permanent, they were given to allow the three a chance to survive when they next meet Voldemort, who will have some very wicked allies with him, I am not making the three into invincible heroes, there have been clues in this chapter and the end of Midnight Uprising as to what kind of allies Voldy will have, read closely and you'll see what I mean.
Lastly, Sev becoming Endymion for this time does not mean he will be immortal either. The goddess' chosen consort remains mortal for a reason, to show her love for them, and that she repsects them. She also will not stay with him. She Chose him her consort out of love and to honor the sacrifices he made in Her name. It is recognition that is long overdue.
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