Chapter 14 : Chapter Fifteen. Powers Unknown.
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A fear like nothing I have ever felt floods my system, the coppery taste of it polluting my mouth. Watching Vic dive straight towards that massive beast, then seeing her be tossed mercilessly about by the storm has paralyzed me temporarily. As she transforms into a massive metallic colored eagle my stupefaction is broken and I leap into motion.
"We have to help her!" I shout at my dorm mates. They are almost as dumbfounded as I had been until Will responds, "Blimey Ted. It might be suicide to try and fight that thing." I glare at him and bite angrily back "Don't say that! She isn't gonna... she won't-" My words fail me as the scene outside the window takes a turn for the worse. Bird-Vic has just been knocked aside by the vast viperous head of the leviathan. I watch in horror as her bronze-silver form plummets towards the surface of the lake. For a few heart stopping moments it seems like Vic will hit the water and be lost, but then she rallies and rises from just above the rolling water. Her recovery gives me hope, but also hardens my resolve like a permanent sticking charm.
I stand at the open window and shout "Accio Firebolt!" as loudly as I can. It takes a few moments but out of the melee of the tempest emerges my battered broom. I mount and leap out the window, plunging several meters before recovering altitude. To my surprise Will joins me on my right side and then further astonishing me Manfred Bletchly flies up on my left. Suddenly, all the male Griffindor seventh years are present and a accounted for as we streak towards the battle unfolding below us. With my mates flying around me I feel stronger and I am filled with gratitude at their bravery.
The fury of the wind buffets us and makes powerful attempts at unseating us from our brooms. As we approach the churning sea, we see the forms of the Merpeople of the lake fighting the Leviathan with spears at and below the surface. The teachers and Ministry workers spot our group and yell at us to fall back immediately. Manfred Bletchly hesitates briefly in the air until a shrill screech originating for Bird-Vic brakes him out of his indecision. As he overcomes his fear his face hardens into a fierce battle mask, and he turns to me for instruction.
For a moment my mind seems to detach itself from my body’s imminent danger. Years of tactical analysis in quidditch and chess come to my aid as I study the problem. The teachers and Ministry workers stand on the shore fighting, but the leviathan is too far away for their spells to be at full strength upon contact. Vic darts rapidly around the face and head of the beast whenever it comes to the surface and suddenly an idea comes to me.
"We need to get the thing closer to the shore!" I shout into the melee of the howling storm. "Push it towards the beach, away from the castle and towards the teachers!" Like the quidditch agile players I trained them to be, my friends dart to the far side of the beast and start putting my plan into action. Bloodlust and protective instincts have overridden any fear that still lingered in me and I dive towards the massive back of the leviathan shouting curses as I loose altitude. I hear a clear bird call on my right and then there she is. Bird-Vic flies beside me for a few moments, as the leviathan descends again into the water. Shining out of her elegant feathered head are Vic's beautiful human eyes. She expresses to me in a few short moments, the fear, remorse and love she feels. Through her soulful portals I see her confusion and I also see her strength. As the leviathan rises again from the deep, we reach a mutual understanding. Like all the other important events in our lives, we will weather this one together. Our voices mingle in a fierce battle cry as we shoot towards the enormous scaly blackened head of the beast.
With curses from the Griffindor seventh year boys, and sharp jabs from Vic's vicious talons we push the leviathan towards the shore. The Merpeople below seem to understand our objective and begin to aid us in our directed attack. The leviathan grows more and more angry, its massive body writhing with the strength of its fury. Before there is time to react the deadly spikes protruding from the tale of the beast careen towards our small airborne battle group. With the ease of long practice I duck and roll in the air, mentally visualizing a bunch of bludgers. For a brief moment following it seems that everyone is fine, but then we all seem to relies in unison that there is a boy missing from our midst.
Manny has been snagged on one a spike the length of Hagrids hut, before the beast demolished it. It looks like Manny avoided being impaled on the end, but was not so lucky as to evade collision entirely. In horror we watch as the leviathan plummets into the angry water with Manny still snagged on its tail. At the same moment, Will and I lunge into action, and dive after the rapidly vanishing beast. I am descending through the air faster than I ever have done before, motivated not by some sort of game or sport, but by the very real peril for Manny's life. I direct my virtual free fall in the direction of the beast’s entry into the water. My heart sinks as fast as I have just dived when I see the last vicious spike disappear beneath the heaving waves, taking Manny's inert form with it. Will pulls up short, and I try to do so as well but my momentum causes me to smack hard into the surface of the lake. The collision with the water is so forceful that the wind is knocked out of me, and I loose my grip in the broom.
The lake is churning and tosses me about as if I have no more substance than an anorexic pixie. I can't breath, I don't know which way is up, and the water is assaulting me from every direction. Something scaly comes into contact with my leg making me believe for one horrible moment that I am actually touching the leviathan. Instead of being my death sentence the scaly thing is my salvation. A small lithe mermaid has gotten a hold of me and brought me to the surface. I heave a desperate breath, not even being able to thank her before she disappears beneath the water again. I struggle to remain afloat, the long ago lazy summer swims seeming so different and so unhelpful in the prospect of the enormous undulating waves. Suddenly the little mermaid is by my side again, but this time she holds another sodden figure as well as my broom. With her help, I heave Manny's unconscious body onto my fire bolt, and then rise haltingly into the air. Manny is a strapping fellow and so am I. The broom was not designed for our combined weight. We teeter, and again brush the surface of the lake as a wave crashes over us. Just as I am sure we will be tossed back into the fathomless water Will comes to the rescue. Together we heft Manny to the shore and dump him on the grassy slope ascending towards the castle. We linger only long enough to ensure a teacher is coming to help Manny, before we again take to the air.
Every second spent fighting the seemingly unaffected leviathan starts to blur together. My unfamiliar wings ache with the effort of the acrobatic flight required to avoid being ingested. Every time the beast’s head is above water, I aim my talons for its sunken red eyes. Once long ago my Uncle Harry told me of a phoenix fighting a basilisk in this fashion with success. As a child it was just a story to me, another on the list of astonishing things my family saw and experienced while growing up. Now it is an attack plan.
The surrounding world shrinks away, leaving just the leviathan and me. It climbs out of the water forming a turret of flesh bone and an impenetrably scaly hide that is of a comparable size to Griffindor tower. I jet towards its head, my entire field of vision consumed by the expanse of it. One of the leviathan's enormous eyes glares at me, the sickly red pupil filled with malevolence, just before I sink my long bronze talons through its cornea.
"GGRRRRAAAAHHHHH!" The howl of agony shatters the sound waves with sheer volume. The leviathan begins to shake, and to my terror I realize that my claws are still sunk deep in the beast's eye, firmly attaching me to it. I struggle and beat my powerful wings to no avail. The leviathan trashes about and when it can't dislodge me, it begins to sink quickly into the lake in retreat. With a howl of my own, I rip my now blood soaked talons from the squirting eye of the beast and do my darnedest to gain altitude. My body screams at me and I struggle for breath.
While I have been trying to recover my wits the leviathan has made a more rapid regrouping. It seems to have recognized that I am no longer sunk knee deep in its eye, and instead of taking its chances with the Merpeople, it is rising up towards me with the speed of the Hogwarts Express. I have no opportunity to get out of the way but have a long enough moment to direct my body towards to beasts only remaining eye. Unlike before I am not aimed talons forward, and instead plunge beak first into the enormous furious pupil. It is not only the darkness of the surrounding flesh that claims me as I jab deep in the leviathans head, but also the absolutely inconvenient and possibly fatal reality of unconsciousness.
We have been pushing the leviathan back towards the shore with the combined efforts of the Merpeople and us. Will and I dart in sink, converting our quiddich plays into battle tactics with surprising ease. I am filled with adrenaline and controlled anger until I hear an earsplitting growl originating from the leviathan. I look around and, the moment that that takes is too long. I am powerless to save my love as she plunges beak first into the sanguine surface of the beast's second eye. With a shout I dive towards the trashing creature, heedless of danger. My eyes are riveted to the place where Vic disappeared into the actual optical cavity of the leviathan. Instead of bird feathers, one long lean limb protrudes from Vic's entry point. I duck and dodge, desperately attempting to get close enough to save Vic.
Something strange is happening to the leviathan. It is screaming in agony, and its bulbous head seems to be collapsing in on itself, as if something has dissolved the contents. The noise cuts out and more of the beasts neck crumples. I dive through the now hollowed opening where the beasts eye so recently resided find myself in a cavern-like space with walls of scorched ligaments and scales. This must be what muggles feel like during a plane crash. The claustrophobic terror of falling in an enclosed container. I am knocked against the side and the bluish gluey substance that is apparently produced by the leviathan coats my shoulder and burns straight through my skin. The pain serves to concentrate me on my objective, and I chase down the tunnel of the hollowed interior of the beast.
As the chaos similar to a collapsing building surounds me, I spot Vic. She lies prostrate on a mound of bluish flesh that seems to be rapidly dissolving. Confusion fills me until I spot the cause; Vic's hair is reacting with the essence of the leviathan like acid. Her long silver mane is immersed in the frothing flesh of the beast, and the blue goop is burning away her skin like it did mine. I speed towards her and grab onto her insensible body. With a mighty heave I yank Vic up onto my broom. While I have been trying to find Vic, the leviathan has been falling into the lake during its death throws. When I shout "EXPULSO!" at the interior of the leviathans rib cadge, I find water gushing out towards us. It mixes with the blue gluey substance to create something similar to an acid bath. With Vic in my arms, my escape efforts change into a gripping fear of death. I don't want her to drown with me this way. We can't.
This thought fills me with a steely resolve. I don't care that I was never a very good swimmer, I just fight my hardest to get through the opening in the leviathans side and out into the water of the lake. Despite the overwhelming current and the increasingly heavy weight of Vic, we do make it out. Maybe it was wandless magic, or some sort of strength born of fierce love, but I could not let her die. The water around us is filled with the falling debris of scales and spikes off of the leviathan. I fight to follow the bubbles up, try to make my unresponsive legs propel us towards the surface, but it is a losing battle. No amount of love in the world can be substituted for a non-existent oxygen supply. Without it my limbs are losing their remaining strength and we are losing ground, sinking down in the vortex left behind by the leviathan. I can't think, can't breath, can't rescue her or cast a bubblehead charm because I lost my wand. Water invades my lungs and like Vic, I black out.
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