Chapter 9 : Chapter Nine
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Hermione felt a pain rush to her head. She wanted to open her eyes, but couldn't. She was too tired. She had the strangest sensation … she felt like she was drowning in her own blood. Maybe she was. But she didn't care.
A familiar voice came into her head. ‘You have to fight this! Stand up! At least try!’ But she felt like she had been drugged, she couldn't move. This was no fairy tale where if you wished hard enough to do something, the power of 'love and friendship' would help you. She could not move. It was as simple and as complicated as that. She couldn't even open her eyes!
She groaned slightly, but she doubted that would help. Then she felt a pair of arms reach under her and begin to carry her, her body collapsed like a rag doll. She hated being so helpless!
Her muscles were so tense. Then she realised: she could move, but if she so much as moved a strand of her hair, she was instantly filled with excruciating pain. Every nerve in her body was on full alert. The best thing to do was sleep.
She knew who had taken her, unless this was a dream. She very much doubted that. Maybe she could astral project to the manor. She didn’t bother smiling at her plan, but instead concentrated on visualising the attic in her mind’s eye.
‘Nah … Can’t be bothered,’ she thought, settling into her captor’s arms. At least she could hear.
She felt her body lowered once more, onto … something. Then her senses began to tingle. She started to writhe around with no control. She had a feeling this was close to what it felt like when having a seizure: no control. She arched her back, and then she was on fire. A hot rush went through her, across her arms, inside her legs, in her head!
An old feeling came back to her, the feeling of herself. She wasn’t tired anymore, she just had to get out of here!
“NO!!!” she shrieked as she sat up, breathing heavily. Her eyes wide open and darting around the room she was in, she noticed she was on a stone altar. Her prison was made of stone: the floor, the walls … She glanced up, but she couldn’t see a ceiling, only darkness.
She glanced down at herself. She had been sweating. She had been sweating so hard, it looked like she had gone swimming, or drowned. She leaned back on her hand but gasped and brought her palm to her face. There was a tiny mark, a burn mark. The feeling of being burnt came back to her. She assumed it was just an illusion, but had she really been engulfed in flames? It was … the traditional way to kill a witch.
She shook her head and tried to focus. ‘Relax Hermione, visualize, visualize.’ She imagined the attic. She could see the ancient Book of Shadows, she could almost feel the dusty smell of the attic. She took a deep breath and astral projected.
For a moment, she left her body. She saw the attic come into view and grinned, but her spirit slammed against something, something hard. She couldn’t get through. Without a connection there was no way she could hold onto her astral form, and she returned to her body.
Hermione slowly opened her eyes. Now she was mad. She was starting to put two and two together: the dimmed senses, the feeling of worthlessness, the feeling of being burnt – she had seen it in the Book of Shadows. It was not to strip a witch of her powers, but to block them.
It had been known to send witches mad, not being able to access their magic. It could destroy them. It made them frustrated, when magical power couldn’t get out. The frustration could take over. It wasn’t the same as binding a witch, where the powers remained dormant. In this situation the powers thought they were still awake. One witch ended up levitating herself into a fireplace, another blew herself up. One astral projected out of her body, only to never return, her spirit wandering in the land of the living forever when her lifeless body had died.
Hermione wasn’t going to let that happen to her. She knew she was a strong witch. She had to believe that. She was a Charmed One now, she could get through this.
As she was getting lost in her own thoughts, she didn’t noticed the small ‘pop,’ and then a hand was placed on her shoulder. She spun and punched aimlessly at her captor, who caught her wrist and flung her back. He laughed slightly, but the laugh was mocking. She hated being mocked. But more than ever she hated being betrayed. It made her feel like a failure, one of her worst fears. She took a deep breath and looked straight up into her captor’s eyes.
“This is for your own good. I don’t have a choice,” he began, pacing the dungeon.
“That’s ridiculous! Of course you have a choice,” Hermione protested, but he turned on her.
“No, Hermione. I don’t. I need you, I need you.”
“No, you don’t. You’re not being logical, just let me out.”
There was silence. Hermione let out another sigh, not sure whether it was a sigh of exasperation or fear.
“Just unblock my powers.”
He smiled slowly, revealing a sinister glare that shocked her.
“I know what you can do. I know your power. No, not your wizardry powers. Your Charmed power.”
Hermione prevented herself from gasping just in time. How did he know? Had he been spying on her? She turned to him again. “How did you know where I was? How do you know about everything?”
He shook his head. Before he could speak, Hermione took the situation into her own hands.
“No matter what you do, nothing will ever evolve between us.”
He looked at her mockingly, but she shook her head. “No, I mean it. Nothing – nothing – can change what you did. In the last two years, last summer, last night, it will never change.”
He glared at her, but smiled. He was so sure of himself. “You’ll change your mind! You will!”
Hermione shook her head once more. “No, I won’t change, but you will.”
With that he apparated out of her cell. She shivered slightly, wrapping her arms around herself. She had never felt so isolated.
* * * *
Harry breathed deeply, not sure whether he was in relief or shock. Shocked by Hermione’s entrance? Or relieved she was alive? Ginny ran in from the kitchen, her hands pressed to her nose. Although she tried to conceal it, her own blood stained her neck and the collar of her uniform
Piper ran to her. “Okay, easy, now just take your hands down.”
Ginny slowly removed her hands. Piper winced slightly. Harry jumped. It was hard to recognise Ginny. The blood had dripped into the natural creases of her face and into her mouth, her hands were stained blood red.
Piper called for Leo. He orbed down, took one look at Ginny then rushed to her side, placing his hand above her nose. His hands began to glow golden as her wounds began to heal. He looked around frantically.
“Beats the hell out of me!” Piper commented.
Harry sighed exasperatedly and leaned back onto the floor. He felt the now familiar feeling of being plunged under water as his breathing became shallow once more, and his second premonition of the day began to unfold.
Hermione … lying on a cold concrete floor, a trail of blood seeping from her skull. She groaned and turned ever so slightly. The vision moved to an image of a clock. It read 8:00. The scenery changed to the events that had happened only five minutes ago: Hermione staring blankly at Ginny as if she didn’t recognise her, Ginny’s head flinging back, blood pouring out onto the sink. The vision moved to the clock on the wall. It read 8:00 …
Harry jumped up from the floor, gasping. Ron and Ginny stared anxiously at him.
“Harry, are you okay?” Ron asked.
“What did you see?” Ginny asked.
Harry took a deep breath before he began. He didn’t really know, it was only just starting to come together in his mind. “It … It was Hermione, she was lying on the floor, she wasn’t dead, but she looked like she was.” The occupants let out a sigh of relief, but Harry wasn’t finished. “The time was eight o’clock. Then it showed when Hermione punched Ginny, but it was eight then as well.”
They all stared at him, finally putting the pieces together. “So … that wasn’t Hermione?” Paige asked.
Prue shook her head. “It couldn’t have been, it’s not possible.”
But Paige challenged her. “I think that we all know ANYTHING is possible.”
“But if that wasn’t Hermione, then why did the scrying crystal react to her?” Phoebe wondered out loud as she paced the living room. Paige shrugged. Prue appeared in deep thought. Leo was the first to speak.
“There is something I need to tell all of you.”
Everyone looked up. Leo began, “While I was Up There, the Elders told me they believe you three need your own whitelighter.”
Harry didn’t see the point of that. Leo read his expression.
“Because I couldn’t sense Ginny’s pain, she’s not technically my charge.”
Everyone nodded, but Prue cut in. “But … Aren’t these guys not on your radar? Even if they have a whitelighter, how will anyone be able to sense them?”
Leo nodded. “The Elders agree with you, Prue. That’s why we will need someone who is part of their world.”
“How about Sirius?” Harry interrupted.
“Your late Godfather?” Paige inquired.
Harry nodded. He started to feel a rush of hope swell in his heart, adrenaline rush through his veins. This was a golden opportunity. This was it!
Leo shrugged. “It’s worth a shot. Harry can cast the spell if he wants.”
Harry nodded again, trying not to grin. He walked up the stairs to the attic. As each step brought him closer and closer to his destination, he felt more peaceful than he had in his entire life. He didn’t care about anything else at the moment. He just wanted to cast the spell! Then it began to sink in. Sirius, his whitelighter? To protect him, to heal him when he was injured. He thought that would be what Sirius would have wanted.
He was in such a fairytale that he didn’t notice the white candles placed on the floor in a circle, and the incense beginning to burn as Phoebe handed Harry the Book of Shadows.
Phoebe turned to Piper. “Should we do a spell to summon the dead, or a spell to call a spirit?”
Piper thought about this for a moment before answering. “I’d say summon the dead. We don’t know if he’s technically a spirit. He could be in Limbo, he might be on the astral plane, the ghostly plane –”
“Okay, Piper, we get the picture!” Paige interrupted warmly.
Harry felt his palms begin to sweat, now that the opportunity was staring him in the face … Was he ready to see his godfather again? He wasn’t sure … But he placed the book back on its podium. It was open to the right spell. Ginny and Ron stood by his side and held his hands. Harry took a small breath and they began to chant together.
“Hear our call, hear our cry, spirit from the other side, come to us we summon thee, cross now the great divide.”
Nothing happened … for a moment anyway. Then a familiar rush of wind filled the room, the pages of the Book of Shadows began to flicker, a swirl of golden light appeared in the middle of the candlelit circle, and a shape began to form …
* * * *
“So how’d it go?” he asked, not really concerned for her, only for himself.
She shrugged. “Fine. A few interruptions along the way, but nothing too serious.”
He nodded and cleared his throat. “And the girl?”
“She’ll survive … How unfortunate and fortunate all at the same time.” Many would have perceived this as a joke had they been in the situation, but these were not laughing people. They were not smiling people. In some lights, they were not actually people.
The other walked through the doors, the flames from the fireplace casting shadows across his face. He was only young. They were all rather young. But they had the spirit of old men and women inside them.
He cleared his throat before speaking. She didn’t acknowledge him. It was brilliant being consumed by hatred: you didn’t have to worry about what others felt, you felt no pity for them, you felt no pity for yourself. But you had to listen, to save your own neck. So she tuned in.
“The Granger girl is still alive?”
She rolled her eyes. “Obviously.”
She glared at him, but he showed no intimidation. If nobody knew better, you would say he looked like he was enjoying it. Perhaps he was … If there is one thing that any witch or wizard should learn, then they should learn this. Evil loves to be hated, it lives on it. They are happy when they are despised. They enjoy watching others suffer, sometimes because they have suffered, and other times because they can’t stand the thought of dying, so they make others die to protect themselves. That is, and will always be, their greatest weakness …
* * * *
The shape was coming together now. He could see a form. He held his breath, butterflies in his stomach. He couldn’t have cared less if an elephant stampede had walked through and destroyed half of San Francisco. It didn’t matter, not if he was going to get this. The swirls collided into a human form …
His stomach had never dropped so low in his entire life. He felt like crying. He had never remembered wanting to cry this much in his entire life. He shook his head. This wasn’t right, they had done the spell wrong! Send it back! Send it back! he wanted to scream so loud, to scare the spirit coming so it would disappear in fright, wandering in the world of the living forever and ever and ever … He stared down at the Book of Shadows. It had lied to him, as though it was able to provide the one thing that would have put a little bit of grey into his black world. And then it had simply said no.
“Grams?” he heard Phoebe ask.
Harry pursed his lips and stared at the woman, with her girlish smile, but wise eyes. Before he knew it, he was speaking out loud. “Send it back,” he said simply.
The spirit turned to him with her hands on her hips. “Now, that is quite rude, young man. I am no ‘it.’ My name is Penny Halliwell, which means Ms Halliwell to you.”
She turned to her granddaughters. “Now, why’d you summon me? Paige, Phoebe, Piper … Prue? PRUE! Prue, sweetie, what are you doing here?” She walked out of the circle and gave Prue a hug.
Piper sighed. “Grams … We didn’t summon you.”
Grams turned to her. “Well, of course you didn’t, honey. Who did?”
Everyone pointed to Harry. Grams turned with a small smile – or was that a frown? – on her face. “Oh … you. Well, who were you trying to call, young man?”
Harry swallowed hard. He shivered as he spoke. “My godfather, Sirius Black.”
Ms Halliwell nodded her head slowly, her menacing expression turned to a soft one. She glanced up at him and walked up to the podium. “You lost him recently, didn’t you?”
Harry looked down, not wanting to look her in the eye. But he nodded.
Ms Halliwell sighed. “There are times when you can’t see the ones you love, especially when they’re dead. Piper and Phoebe learnt that a long time ago. Magic happens for a reason … But if it doesn’t happen, there’s a reason for that too.”
The entire attic was filled with silence for a moment. Then Ms Halliwell punched him playfully in the arm. “And, ah … Call me Penny.”
Harry wasn’t smiling, but he wasn’t frowning. He was a complete blank. He sighed. “Sure … I, um … just need to get some air …” he told them, walking out.
Leo sighed. He turned to Ginny and Ron. “Any other candidates in mind?”
Ron shook his head. Ginny raised her hand. “Um … I have an idea.”
* * * *
Harry went outside, just to stare. He had the feeling the whole world was against him. He looked up at the sky, watching the stars twinkle brightly. They were no comfort. Nothing was.
He had gotten excited over nothing. He tried to take a few deep breaths. Sirius was gone. He had to accept the fact he was dead. But it was hard. Really hard.
He heard a soft footstep behind him. He turned to find Piper staring at him with a small smile on her face. “Mind if I join you?” she asked.
Harry shrugged. They stood in silence for a few moments, before Piper began.
“When … I lost Prue, there were times when I didn’t think I could survive the sadness.”
Harry didn’t reply, he just nodded. Piper kept going
“I was so mad. I hated her for leaving me. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I did hate her for it … In fact, I turned into a demon because of it.”
Harry’s eyes widened. He turned to her. “What did you turn into?”
“A Fury. They’re demons that turn others into them by finding a portal of unexpressed fury. I almost killed Paige because of it … and Phoebe.”
Harry nodded, amazed at what he was hearing. Weren’t the Halliwells the most powerful witches in the world? How could they be influenced by evil so easily?
“The only way to get out of it is finding out who you’re really angry at, and not being afraid to say it.” Another moment of silence. Piper glanced at her watch. Ten o’clock. She sighed, resting a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “It’s getting late. You’d better get to bed … It’s been a long day.”
Harry nodded. He walked back inside, and sat on the bed in the living room. He fell back onto the beds as the lights dimmed.
Ron joined him soon after. “You alright, Harry?”
Harry nodded. He turned on his side. “I’ll be fine, Ron. Goodnight.” He was asleep before Ron could tell him who his new whitelighter was.
“So … Did you get anything out of him?” Paige asked Piper in a whisper as the four sisters carried themselves up the stairs. Piper shrugged.
“I’m not sure … He didn’t say much. But he seemed very interested when I mentioned the time I turned into a Fury.”
Phoebe nodded. “Maybe he thinks that because we’re supposed to be the ‘most powerful witches in the world’ that we shouldn’t be so … easily influenced by evil?”
Piper nodded. “Could be …” She turned to Prue, stopping outside her room. Piper grinned at Prue.
Prue stared at her. “What?”
Phoebe was now smiling too. Paige showed a look of confusion on her face before finally understanding. She smiled ever so slightly as well.
“Prue,” Piper began as she opened her bedroom door and led Piper through to Wyatt’s nursery. “Prue, meet your nephew.”
Prue looked at Piper, then Phoebe, shook her head slightly, but leaned over the small crib to watch in wonder. It was him. The nephew that she hadn’t held once, the nephew she hadn’t been able to talk to. She wasn’t there for his birth, she couldn’t be there for his Wiccaning. He lay there so still, a small mop of blonde hair highlighting his little dimples. She turned to Piper, trying not to get too emotional and failing. “Could … can I hold him?”
Piper nodded, smiling. “Of course.”
Prue smiled and slowly lifted him out of his crib. She sat down on the nearby rocking chair and slowly rocked him, not wanting to wake him. Piper smiled again.
“I think we should go now. Give them some time.” Phoebe and Paige nodded and followed her out.
Prue slowly rocked him, back and forth, just as she’d seen Grams do to Phoebe as a baby. He stirred slightly, which made Prue freeze, but he didn’t wake. She smiled and began to hum an old lullaby she used to love as a child. She wanted to squeeze him to death, but that would have to wait until morning …
Yes, morning. Now it was sinking in. She was home, she was in Halliwell Manor again! She felt like crying, but she didn’t. She just didn’t.
As she was getting lost in her thoughts, she heard a small twinkle from the adjoining room. Prue sighed. Now she knew, she knew who it was. She looked down, not wanting to face him. Leo walked in.
“Prue …” he said, sighing extremely deeply, his tone filled with sadness.
Prue was just holding his son, rocking him gently. It occurred to Leo that watching over someone wasn’t the same as actually being with them. Prue took a deep breath. “What … what did the Elders say?” she whispered
Leo sighed and sat on a wooden toy box. He stroked his son’s hair before beginning. “The Elders … haven’t decided anything, yet.”
Prue looked up at him in shock. Surely the Elders would want her to return to the realm of the dead! But Leo wasn’t finished. “They’ll be monitoring your presence here, but they can take you back whenever they feel necessary.”
He lost his professional tone, turning back into his Leo voice. He smiled down at Wyatt. “He’s beautiful, isn’t he?”
Prue smiled. Her heart was beating so fast. She nodded. “He’s so beautiful. I can’t believe I’ve never held him before, it just … doesn’t seem right.”
Leo only nodded mutely, not sure how to respond. He glanced around the nursery, but knew he couldn’t avoid the question. “Prue … How do you feel about Paige?”
Prue froze. She stared off into space for a moment, thinking. Leo patiently waited for her answer.
“I don’t know, Leo. I honestly don’t know. It’s just … It was always Piper, Phoebe and I. It was never Piper, Phoebe and Paige! I know it’s selfish, but … I thought we were the Power of Three, not the Power of Four!” She turned from Leo’s eyes. It felt good to get all those emotions out, but it also made her listen to herself. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m being such a child.”
“No, Prue. You’re being human.”
Prue shrugged, but Leo hadn’t finished.
“It’s perfectly human, to feel … let’s say … threatened by Paige. You always had your sisters, and then out of the blue you discover you have another sister out there, but you couldn’t talk to Phoebe or Piper about it.”
Prue nodded in agreement.
“Of course, it was so hard for you. But let’s look at it from Paige’s view. She believes she is an only child, and then because of a spell, is lead to her own sister’s funeral. The next day she finds out she is a witch with powers, still has two other sisters, and finds out she can’t talk to anyone about it. Although you had the same things happen to you, at least you could talk to your sisters …”
Prue nodded. She saw Paige’s side of the story, but … there was something that wasn’t quite right …
“I’m sorry Leo. I understand what you’re saying. But … I can’t trust her, not yet. Just … not now, anyway.”
* * * *
“How do you think they’re going to react to their new whitelighter?” Paige asked as she followed her sisters down the hallway.
Phoebe smiled. “I think we should be worrying how the whitelighter is going to respond to his new charges!”
Piper nodded. “I’m sure it’ll be quite a shock.”
Paige looked up towards the attic. “Is Grams still here?”
Piper shook her head. “Ginny and Ron sent her back.”
“So you didn’t need The Power of Three?”
“No,” Piper said, stifling a yawn. “Let’s go to bed, it’s been a long day.”
They all headed off to bed. In the attic, however, the Book of Shadows flew open. Its pages began to rustle, although there was no wind. It flicked back and forth, back and forth, until it rested on …
Four blank pages …
* * * *
Harry was dreaming that night. But it was the most realistic dream he had ever had. He tossed and turned during the night with images rushing through his head.
It was Phoebe. She stalked through Halliwell Manor, a high and mighty air about her. He saw a young girl, maybe ten, or twelve. Then Phoebe spoke. “I told you to watch them!”
The little girl cowered before her. “I’m sorry!”
Phoebe reached for the porcelain doll out of the girl’s hand, throwing it to the ground, the face shattering. The girl cried and reached for her shattered doll. Phoebe walked right past without one look back.
Another scene: Phoebe throwing fireballs from her hands, laughing hard. And then he saw one last scene: Prue … Piper, a rope in their hands. They ran after Phoebe threw her to the ground, the rope tied around her neck …
“Aggh!” Harry gasped as he woke.
Ron groaned a bit and turned slightly, still half awake. “What? Where’s the fire?” he drawled
Harry shook him awake. “I’ll get Ginny, you start packing.”
Ron was now starting to come to earth. “Packing … What? Huh?”
“Just do it!” He knew he sounded harsh but he couldn’t help it. He silently placed a foot to the stairs. They squeaked slightly; he jumped back onto the ground. He took a small breath, taking another tentative step forward. The stairs seemed like a long road, especially when the shadows of the night made it hard to see where he was going. He felt for the banister and carefully climbed. Once he stepped onto the second floor he breathed a small sigh of relief, but he wasn’t finished yet. Where was Ginny sleeping? He didn’t know … He’d have to try them all.
He opened the first door. It creaked slightly. He held his breath and peered in. But Phoebe was sleeping peacefully. She turned on her side but remained asleep. He quietly closed it and opened the next door. It didn’t squeak. His hopes rose as he saw a mop of red hair, but it was Paige who was sprawled out in her bed, shuffling a bit. He sighed and moved onto the third door. Prue lay peacefully, breathing softly. Harry closed the door again. As he lifted his hands from the doorknob he faced Piper’s inquisitive smile.
“Hey, what you doing?”
Harry was caught as he stared into Piper’s probing eyes but he lied quickly. “I was, ah … just looking for the bathroom.”
“Ah … Okay, it’s just up there,” she said, motioning behind her. Harry nodded his thanks as Piper brushed past him and retreated to her own bedroom.
Harry sighed in relief. If that was Piper’s room, and that was the bathroom, then there was only one room left. He opened it and dashed in quickly. He shook Ginny slightly. She turned, but just to roll onto her side, still sleeping soundly.
He shook her again. “Gin … Ginny …”
She opened her eyes slowly. They widened as she jumped back, about to yell but Harry pressed a hand to her lips.
“It’s okay. It’s only me.”
Ginny breathed a small sigh of relief. She glanced around. “What?”
“Start packing. We have to go now.”
Ginny’s face contorted with confusion. “What? Why?”
“There’s no time to explain, I had a premonition, don’t let anybody hear or see you, meet us down stairs.”
“But what about Hermione?” she whispered softly.
Harry sighed, he hadn’t thought about that. But she was right. What about Hermione? They had to save her, but they couldn’t stay here either.
An idea suddenly struck Ginny. “I’ve got it. Come with me.”
She led Harry out of her room and they silently sneaked down the hallway. She led him up the stairs to the attic. They walked in like ghosts. Ginny walked to the podium that held the Book of Shadows. She reached for it and hugged it to her chest. “We’ll take this with us.”
She turned to the window, opened it and chucked the book out the window. She watched it fall with a soft thud, let out a low whistle, and turned to Harry. “It’ll be fine. We’ll get it on the way out.”
Harry nodded, impressed how Ginny was taking control of the situation.
Ginny looked down at the pyjamas Paige had lent her. “I’ll go get dressed. I’ll meet you soon.” She brushed past him and crept down the hall. Harry followed her, but walked back down the stairs.
Ron was fully dressed with Harry’s clothes in his hand. Harry took them from him with thanks and dressed quickly behind a wall. He didn’t want Ginny to come down the stairs at the wrong moment!
Once the three were together, Ron turned to Harry. “Okay … so what’s going on?”
Harry glanced around him. “Let’s just get outside first.” He went to the front door, surprised to find it was unlocked. But he didn’t question it. Ginny ran to the side of the house to pick up the Book of Shadows. The three looked at each other and nodded, heading down the evil-ridden streets of San Francisco.
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