Chapter 34 : A Power He Knows Not
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A Power He Knows Not
Lena was curled up in a study carrel, flipping through pages of the Codex Magicka, trying to find any sort of reference to revenants or the Place Between Worlds. The book did not speak to her as it did to Harry, she suspected that was very rare and it only communicated that way with a chosen few. Finally she found the section on summoning revenants. The book clearly warned against doing so, and also mentioned that once summoned, could not guarantee control over the creature. The level of control over an undead depended solely upon the will of the magic wielder. The information on how to banish one was a few paragraphs only.
For those wishing to lay to rest such a tormented soul, you may employ runic circles or a banishment spell such as used upon demons and those from the Ninth Circle. However, such methods are temporary, and the revenant may still be called forth after a year and a day by another practitioner. In order to fully lay the soul to rest, you must Travel to the Place Between Worlds and there subdue it and bind it or destroy it utterly. And the stronger the spirit, the more struggle one will face, for it is not in the nature of vengeance and hatred to go quietly into the night. One must have the utmost determination, focus, and power. In the Place Between Worlds it is the will and innate magic that determines victory or defeat.
There were a few footnotes regarding mind disciplines and Lena skimmed them, for they were standard practices for mind mages, and she knew them all by heart. She also read the section on astral travel, and how to assist a fellow magus who was not born with that talent take the Path Between Worlds. Lena suspected that Skull could help Severus better than she could, as she had only traveled the spirit road a few times with Irma.
She began taking notes, wishing the book mentioned a bit more about the vulnerability of revenants. Of course, perhaps the reason there was so little on them was because they had few vulnerabilities. She felt a hard knot of fear and worry settle in the pit of her stomach. She had escaped the revenant once . . . but would she be able to do so a second time?
The next morning:
The students were carefully shepherded to and from their common rooms, allowed to eat breakfast and lunch in the hall before returning to their rooms to pack and whisper about what was lurking in the school. Some students had parents come and Floo them home, but others waited for the Hogwarts Express, which was being given an overhaul and painted with runes to prevent the revenant from being able to board it. Though it was unlikely the revenant would come out of the castle, especially during the day, when the sun was out, every precaution was being taken with the safety of the students.
Harry spoke with Ron during breakfast and lunch, telling him that Severus wanted Harry to go stay with the Weasleys until this whole thing with the revenant had been sorted out. Ron was very excited to have Harry over the Burrow and began planning all sorts of things to do while he was there. Normally, Harry would have been excited to sleep over at a friend's house, because he'd never done it before, but his premonitions and fears for Severus and Skull were clouding his enjoyment.
As he was walking back with Severus and Skull to Snape's quarters, he head a familiar voice in his head. Traveler child, come to me. I would speak with you.
He nearly tripped over his own feet upon hearing the Codex in his head.
"Careful, Harry!" Skull squawked.
Severus reached out a hand to steady him. "Watch where you walk, Harry."
"I was, Uncle Sev. It just startled me, is all."
"The Codex, it called for me. I heard it in my head. It wants me to come to it," he explained softly.
"The book still speaks with you?"
"Well, this is the first time it's said anything since we brought it back, but . . . yeah."
Severus arched an eyebrow. "Then we should see what it wishes to tell you."
They changed their direction, heading up the stairs to the library.
They found Lena in the Restricted Section, and she unlocked the archive when they knocked at the door.
"Severus and Harry! What an unexpected surprise," the librarian exclaimed. "I've been reading up in the Codex about revenants all of last evening and this morning," she explained, rubbing her eyes, which were itchy and stinging from fatigue. "What brings you here?"
"The Codex called Harry and asked him to come and talk with it," Severus explained.
"It did? Ceridwen's Grace!"
Harry walked over to the Codex, which had just been shut, and placed his hands upon the ancient tome. The book glowed and Harry felt the grimoire's presence in his head.
Well met again, young Traveler! I have sensed an ancient evil stalking me, and you as well. If you do not plan on taking me with you, I ask that you put me in a secure place where the evil cannot reach me.
"You're safe here in the library. The revenant can't get to you, not past the runes."
Ah, that is good to know. But what if yourself, little wizard? Are you safe?
"I'm going to be leaving the school soon and going to a friend's house."
Even so . . . beware of the evil one. It too knows how to Travel and may seek you out. To aid you, I shall give you some of my magic.
Before Harry could say anything, the book sent three pulses of magical energy into him, and he felt his magical core nearly overflowing with an ancient magic. He gasped and swayed a little, but then steadied. He felt a bit dizzy and sort of intoxicated with the influx of power.
"Harry! What just happened?" Severus demanded, alarmed.
Harry turned and looked at him. "Umm . . . the book told me to beware of the revenant . . . and it used its magic to protect me."
Lena's mouth hung open. "How amazing! I never knew the Codex could do that!"
"It's a sentient object, I imagine it can do a lot when it chooses to." Severus remarked. "Harry, are you feeling well? You look flushed." He laid the back of his hand against his ward's forehead. "You're a little warm, but that could be from the transfer of magic."
"I feel okay, Uncle Sev," Harry assured him. Then he startled giggling. "Well, I feel kind of bubbly, sort of like I drank some champagne. But I'm fine."
"Sit down and wait till your head clears," ordered his guardian. "You feel giddy because the transfer was faster than your body can handle and it needs to adjust." He pushed Harry into a chair.
Harry waited until the magic filling him seemed to have settled, then he lifted his head. "That was strange."
"Do you think you can walk now?' asked Lena kindly.
Harry nodded. He now felt full of energy, as if he'd drunk a Stimulant Draft. He silently thanked the book for helping him. Then he gave a pleading glance to Severus. "Uncle Sev, do you think I might . . . uh . . . be able to stay here now that—"
"Absolutely not, young man," Severus interjected firmly. "You are getting on the train and going home with the Weasleys. And don't even think about trying to pull some fool stunt, like hiding in a closet, or jumping off the train as soon as my back is turned. I want you well away from here, and if you give me any trouble, I shall bind you and carry you onto the train over my shoulder and Stick you to the seat."
Harry looked horrified by that threat and murmured, "Okay, I'll behave. You don't need to humiliate me in front of everybody."
"Do as you are told and that won't be necessary," his guardian warned. "You cannot die of humiliation, believe me, I know. You can, however, die from confronting a revenant."
Harry kept his mouth shut through a monumental effort. It was useless to argue, once Snape had made up his mind, it would take an act of God to change it. Besides, he knew Severus meant well. He was trying to protect him, as a good guardian should. But that didn't make it any easier for him to like it.
"You can die too, sir," he reminded his guardian. "So please be careful."
"Don't worry so, bran-boy. I'll look out for him and Lady Rook," Skullduggery piped up. "Have no fear, the Great Raven Avenger is here!"
"Merlin help us all!" muttered Severus. The raven stuck his tongue out at his master. "Come, Harry. You might as well start packing, if you haven't already. I'm not certain how long the school shall be closed, it all depends on if we can get rid of the revenant sooner rather than later." Severus put a hand on Harry's shoulder and together they left the library.
It was a pensive and quiet boy that entered the Potion's Master's quarters. Rather than try and persuade Severus further and risk getting in trouble, Harry went to his room and opened his trunk. He began to pack some clothes, books, and shoes, throwing them into the trunk, not even bothering to fold them. After fifteen minutes he sat on the bed and stared at the trunk dejectedly. He knew he should feel like every other student in the school, happy to get an unexpected holiday. Instead he felt sick to his stomach every time he thought about Severus facing down the deadly revenant. He drew his knees up to his chin and rested his head on them. He knew he should finish packing, but he just couldn't muster up the willpower. So he brooded instead.
Two hours later, Severus tapped on his door. "Harry, it's nearing supper. Would you prefer to eat in the hall or here?"
There came a muffled response.
"Excuse me? I can't hear you."
"I said, I'm not very hungry."
Severus pushed open the door and came in. "Harry, sulking about this is not going to change anything . . ." He looked over at Harry's trunk and heaved a sigh of exasperation. "Ceridwen's Cauldron, boy, is this all you've gotten done? Didn't anyone ever teach you how to pack?"
Severus waved a hand and all of Harry's hastily dumped possessions flew back out of the trunk and landed on the bed. "Watch me. This is how you fold clothes." He demonstrated on a few shirts, trousers, and underpants. "Then you place them in the trunk neatly, it's easier if you have designated spots for them, so you can find what you need in a hurry." He showed Harry where he had placed everything. "Now you try."
"Can't you just do it?"
Severus frowned. "No. You're a big boy, you can learn to do this yourself. Now quit it with the attitude and do as I showed you."
"How can you worry about stupid clothes at a time like this?" Harry burst out. "You could have your soul sucked out or lost forever! Doesn't that scare you? Don't you care at all?" His arm swept out and knocked some of his clothes off the bed. They lay in a heap on the floor. Harry ignored them, hunching his shoulders and biting his lip in frustration.
Severus looked at the boy and sighed. He sat down beside the distraught youngster and said, "I realize the dangers of confronting the revenant more than you do, Harry. Am I afraid? I would be a fool if I weren't. But understand something. I am not going into this blind, or without backup. I know what advantages my adversary holds. But I also know that I shall be assisted by Irma, Lena, Skull, and even the Headmaster. And if it turns out that we cannot destroy the revenant, we shall banish it instead. So long as it is driven far from the school, I shall be content. I am not going to make this into a suicide mission, Harry. I intend to survive and come back here. I shall not abandon you, trust me." He put an arm about the boy's shoulders comfortingly. "What will ease my mind most is that you are safely away from here. Then I can focus on defeating the revenant, instead of worrying about you. That is why I am sending you away. Understand?"
Slowly, Harry nodded. "Yeah. I get it. I just don't like it." He buried his face in the potions professor's shoulder, drawing in deep breaths of the spicy scent that always clung to Snape's robes. It made him feel a little better.
Severus patted his back. "Come now, Harry. Don't look so glum. Have a little faith in my Defense skills."
Harry remained curled up on his side, not answering.
"All right. Enough brooding and moping, it's not healthy. Pick up your clothes and start packing. Everything will work out." He reached over and gave the reluctant boy a firm swat on the rear. "Up with you, Potter! Soonest begun is soonest done."
Harry jumped and glared at his guardian. "Okay, I'm doing it!" He stood and began picking up the clothes. "Isn't there a way to pack with magic?"
"Yes, but the charm is too advanced for you yet. Besides, learning to pack right is a skill you should learn without magic first. That way you appreciate the time it saves."
Severus stayed in the room while Harry folded and packed his remaining items, offering advice and correction. Finally it was finished, and then Harry accompanied Severus into the sitting area and ate supper, which was fettuccini Alfredo with shrimp, garlic bread, and strawberry shortcake. Harry found that he was actually hungry and ate everything on his plate. Severus silently refilled it and watched, pleased that his ward's appetite was finally approaching that of a normal eleven year old.
Afterwards, they sat on the couch and read, sipping tea and hot cocoa. Skullduggery dozed on the back of Snape's chair.
The warmth of the fire and the quiet companionship served to make Harry fall asleep. He dozed off right in the middle of a sentence. The next thing he knew was he was in his own bed, Severus pulling the blankets about him and whispering, "Good night, little raven. Sleep well."
Harry smiled as he felt a cool hand pat his cheek, then he was gone into the gray realm of sleep.
The Hogwarts Express waited upon the Hogsmeade platform, huffing and puffing like some great medieval beast. McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout were going to escort the students back to King's Cross, just in case something unforeseen happened. Harry boarded the Hogwarts Express the next morning with the rest of the students, though not before giving Severus a long hug and scratching Skull's head feathers. "I'll see you soon," was all he managed to say through the lump in his throat.
"Until we meet again, Harry," Skull crooned, gently preening Harry's hair. "When you return I'll be singing this oldy but goody . . ." he burst into a rendition of "Another One Bites the Dust."
That made Harry grin in spite of himself.
Severus took him by the shoulders and said, "You be on your best behavior now, Harry James. Or I'll know the reason why."
"Yessir," Harry said automatically. Then he hugged the Potions Master and whispered, "Come back safe."
"Always, son." Severus hugged him back, then released him as the engine began to whistle.
Harry turned, jumped on the stairs, and waved. He made his way to a compartment with a window, where his friends were sitting, and watched his black-robed professor until he was out of sight.
The rest of the children cheered as the train pulled out. Harry smiled a little, then he turned and asked Ron where he would be sleeping, trying to keep his mind off of Severus.
The ride to King's Cross seemed to drag on forever, at least until Harry fell asleep.
When he woke, the train was pulling into Platform 9 and ¾'s.
He grabbed his trunk and Hedwig's cage and followed Ron and his brothers off the train and through the barrier to where Arthur waited with his Ford Anglia.
Arthur smiled genially at him. "Hullo, Harry! Good to see you again! Just put your trunk in the boot with the others, don't worry, it'll fit. This car's bigger on the inside than it looks."
Harry did and then squeezed in the back seat with Ron and the twins, Percy claimed shotgun since he was the oldest. Harry held Hedwig on his lap. Oddly enough, there was room for all of them. "Is this . . . a magic car?"
"Sure is, mate!" Ron enthused. "Dad tinkered a bit with it so it can hold all of us when we go somewhere, and it turns invisible and it flies too."
"Yeah, but Dad's still working on that," Fred interjected. "Sometimes it conks out."
"But he'll get eventually. He always does," George said.
Mr. Weasley drove the car through the streets and once they were out of London and on a less used road, he pressed a button, pulled a lever, and they were airborne and invisible.
"Now, hold on boys, I'm going to fly about halfway to Ottery St. Catchpole, but that should shave off a few hours. Here we go!"
Harry found himself actually enjoying the car ride, and when they finally reached the Burrow, Molly had lunch waiting for them. She warmly greeted Harry and told him to make himself at home and had Ron show him the loft bedroom where he would be staying. After putting away his trunk and releasing Hedwig from her cage, Harry followed Ron downstairs for lunch.
Molly had made hot roast beef sandwiches with gravy, mashed potatoes, and seasoned green beans.
Harry saw that Mr. Weasley, the twins, and Percy were already seated at the table. Molly was getting drinks and a young girl of about ten was setting the table. She turned about and almost poked Harry with a fork.
"Oh! I'm so sorry!" she gasped, dropping the utensil on the floor.
"It's okay. Let me get it." Harry said, bending down to pick up the fork at the same time.
He ended up holding one end and the girl the other.
"No, really . . ." she blushed.
"It's no problem . . ." he said at the same time.
Ron cracked up. "You two are almost as bad as Gred and Forge. Harry, meet Ginny, my little sister."
Ginny released the fork and said softly, "How d'you do?"
"Fine, thanks." He shook her hand.
"Harry, dear, take a seat. And don't be shy, just help yourself." Molly ordered.
Harry took the seat next to Ron and Molly. Ginny sat on Ron's other side.
There were crispy rolls on each plate and soon everyone was taking juicy roast beef, fried onions, and cheese for their sandwiches. The bowl of potatoes was passed around along with the beans and everyone enjoyed their meal.
As they ate, Fred and George began to discuss what sort of monster might be lurking in the castle.
Harry did not say anything about the revenant, he didn't want to be reminded of it.
"Well, whatever it is, Dumbledore and Snape will kick its ass," Percy said decisively. "So I'm not going to worry about it."
"Me neither," said Ron. "I'm just going to enjoy my holiday."
Harry nodded, wishing he could be as confident.
After lunch was over, Ron took Harry outside and showed him how to de-gnome the garden and then they played three on three Quidditch with Fred, Geroge, Percy, and Ginny.
By the time the game was over, dusk was falling, and Harry wondered how things were going back at the castle. Had they found where the revenant laired yet? Were they battling it even now? He could not shake the foreboding that dogged him. He went back into the house, worrying his lower lip. Please, he prayed. Please let them be all right.
As soon as the students left, Severus brought Irma and Lena down to his quarters so they could practice Traveling the astral plane. He wanted them to be well rested and somewhat proficient before they attempted to find the revenant. Dumbledore told them he would join them shortly, he still had some paperwork to fill out for the Board of Governors and the Ministry, he would be in his office if they needed him. The Headmaster had declined Lena's instruction in Traveling, saying that he did not have the talent necessary and trying to attempt an out of body exercise always left him nauseous for days. Albus had agreed to monitor the three others and make sure no harm came to their corporeal selves. The rest of the professors had gone home, as per Dumbledore's orders.
It was for that reason that Severus had insisted they practice in his quarters, which were warded so tightly not even a fly escaped his notice. Skullduggery would also help, as a raven he could travel back and forth between worlds as easily as breathing, all he did was will himself incorporeal. He was also the most experienced traveler of the bunch, and soon he had helped all three magic wielders make the crossing several times.
Skull explained that in the Place Between Worlds it was paramount that one had a guide, for not all was sweetness and light in the astral, and many predators, such as Spirit Devourers, stalked new souls and ate them. But the raven knew where they lurked and was careful to bring them to a peaceful glade the first few times they crossed, so they could get the feel of their new forms and how to move about and fight with them.
"Here, your greatest weapon is your mind, for that is what you use to get from here to there. Focus your mind, focus your magic, and it's done." the raven explained cheerily.
Severus, Lena, and Irma practiced throwing bolts of magic, summoning an astral wind, and conjuring shields of psionic force. They faced off with one another, determining who was better at doing what, so they could coordinate their attacks against the revenant. None of them were foolish enough to think they could take it on alone.
They soon determined that Irma was the best with shields, Severus could unleash devastating bolts of pure force, and Lena could call a wind with the best weatherworker. Skull could be where-ever he wished, and in the astral, his talons and beak were like swords and could pierce through anything. All of them agreed they should try and draw the revenant out, instead of letting it hunt them, then they would have the high ground, and the element of surprise.
Skull decided to scout in the aether, searching for the revenant's magical signature. Then he would tell the three friends where it was and perhaps they could drive it into the upper floors of the castle.
Little did they know that something else would serve to bring it up from its hiding place first.
The revenant had gone several days without food. Now it was starving. It emerged from the darkness with a soft whoosh, it's energy drained, and began to look for children to feed on. Finding none of the previous luscious smells, it screamed and howled in fury. But the only scents that lingered merely served to whet its appetite for innocent or powerful souls.
It floated through the castle, hissing in frustration as it found room after room empty of occupants. Its eyes glowed a hellish red and it made an odd singsong growl deep in its throat. Finally it caught a flicker of a presence, a strong magical presence up above and it flew faster than thought to the Headmaster's office.
At first the ward repulsed it, but its will was steel and after four more attempts it managed to slip through a tiny hole in the wards and enter the office, silent as the grave.
Albus looked up, a cold shiver racing down his spine. He felt . . . unsettled. But when he looked he could see nothing. He capped his inkwell and then stood, relieving cramped muscles. As he stretched with his arms over his head, he had the creepiest feeling that he was being watched from sinister eyes.
Slowly, he turned . . . and the revenant appeared, shrouded in darkness, all blackness and size, demonic eyes burning with hatred and the lust to kill.
A terrible chill emanated from the tall form, and the temperature in the office dropped down to near freezing. The chill of the grave, accompanied by a wave of fear so strong it nearly paralyzed the old man.
"Surrender, old fool! It is useless to resist!" hissed the spirit. "You are mine, meddler!"
Dumbledore used wandless magic to throw the container of Floo powder into the fireplace, then whirled and sprinted for the green flames, yelling, "Severus Snape's quarters!"
But Albus underestimated just how quick the revenant could move. Before his foot crossed the threshold of the hearth the revenant was across the room and seizing him in a terrible grip.
At its touch, Dumbledore felt the blood turn to ice in his veins, and he could not move. It held him in a relentless grip and try though he did, the wizard could not escape. He brought his magic to bear, and blue fire swept through the spirit, but it had no effect on the wraith.
It laughed mockingly. "That the best you can do, old man? Yes? You were easier than I thought. And now . . . you die." Quicker than thought, it lunged and fastened its mouth upon Dumbledore's and began to suck the energy and life right out of him.
The wizard fought, but it was futile. Cold crept over him as all the warmth and life was drawn away, and the revenant hissed in pleasure as Albus screamed and screamed in terror and denial.
A bluish haze hung over both figures and the wraith drew in it, drinking its fill.
That would have been the finish for the Headmaster, had not Skullduggery heard his psychic cry for help.
The raven flew with the speed of thought to the Headmaster's office, appearing above the two adversaries. Back in the real world once more, Skullduggery dove down upon the spirit, who was also solid at the moment. The raven's deadly beak sliced at the creature's face, aiming for the eyes.
The revenant shrieked as Skull's beak struck home, putting out one glowing eye.
"Ha! Take that, Satan's playfellow!" the raven screamed, flying away and circling for another pass.
The revenant cried out in rage. Though it did not bleed like a human, it could feel pain, and it clapped a hand to its face as it tried to grab the raven.
Skullduggery was too quick, and shot down for another strike, this time scratching long furrows in its face with his talons. "Come try me on for size, Scar Face!" he taunted. "Dumbledore, get out!" The raven yelled as he flew towards the huge window.
The revenant attacked the bird, trying to trap the canny raven against the window.
Dumbledore called out his destination, and stumbled into the green flames, emerging in Severus' quarters.
Skullduggery vanished then, slipping back into the astral. With a howl of fury, the revenant followed.
Irma looked up as Albus stumbled out of the fireplace. "Albus, good heavens!"
He was pale as wax and gasping. "Irma . . . revenant . . . in my quarters . . . ambushed me!"
Irma grabbed his arm and helped him to a chair. "How did you escape?"
"Skullduggery helped me . . . marvelous bird!"
"Here, Albus. Drink some tea and eat some chocolate." She handed him a cup of her special herbal tea that calmed nerves and gave energy to those who drank it.
Albus eagerly drank the tea and ate the chocolate. "Never . . . been up against anything like that. So powerful . . . and so evil." He shivered. He had never felt so sick in his life. "Where's Lena and Severus?"
"They are still 'out'," Irma explained. She indicated the two sleeping forms, one in the recliner, the other on the couch. "Where did the revenant go?'
"I don't know, Irma. Just that Skull made it follow him. They both vanished."
"Hmm . . . they need to be warned," Irma suddenly slumped to the ground and sent herself out, searching for her friend and niece.
She located the two glowing spirit selves almost immediately, linked as they were to their bodies by a single silver cord.
"Aunt Irma?" Lena called, her spirit self a hazy white and purple.
"Beware! The revenant attacked Dumbledore in his office and almost finished him. Skull led it off on a wild goose chase but it'll be coming for you next."
"We'll be ready," Severus said determinedly.
"Go back and see to Albus, Aunt Irma. We can manage here," Lena urged. She was horrified that the creature had managed to almost take out the Headmaster! She had, like many others, thought of Dumbledore as being almost immortal. The attack had shaken her up badly.
Irma vanished, using the cord to float back into her body.
Now only two remained on the gray road, awaiting their adversary.
"Shields!" Severus snapped, like a general giving orders to his troops before riding into battle.
Lena obeyed, conjuring a shield of pure will and energy. Beside her, Severus did the same.
They could not see or hear the revenant, but they both felt a strong presence of darkness encroaching.
"It comes," Lena whispered, her eyes wide with fright.
"I know. Be ready," Severus nodded. He could feel the old adrenaline course through him as a sudden darkness flowed towards them.
Skullduggery burst upon them, his wings blurs, cawing. "'Ware, Ravens! It's right behind me."
The raven shot upward, gaining altitude and putting distance between the hellspawn and himself.
The revenant emerged from the cloud of shadows, using them to obscure its enemy's sight.
Lena felt as if she had been struck blind. "Severus! I can't see!"
"Fly over the damn cloud!" Severus yelled, and proceeded to soar upwards. When he was looking down on the revenant, he cut loose with a blast of magic.
The magic punctured the cloud and the revenant screamed.
Lena released a Gust of Wind charm, and the cold icy wind that filled the Place Between Worlds. It slammed into the wraith almost ripping its spirit body to shreds.
"Got it!" Lena cheered.
"Do it again."
Once again, Lena released the wind. Only this time the revenant was prepared and became a half spirit, able to withstand the powerful wind gusts.
Skull attacked again from above, trying to keep the revenant off balance. His talons pierced the revenant's hood.
The creature shrieked and lashed out with one taloned hand. It caught the wily raven a glancing blow and sent Skull tumbling through the air.
"Skullduggery!" Severus cried, his heart nearly shattering. He did not know if Skull were alive. He sent three concentrated blasts into the revenant.
The revenant shook them off and came on, lunging at them with the speed of thought. It burnt itself on their shields, but the pain mattered little to it.
Again and again it slammed against their shields, but it just kept trying. It was relentless and with the magic gained from Dumbledore, stronger than ever.
For a split second, Len's concentration wavered, as she wondered where her aunt was.
But that momentary lapse was enough for the revenant to smash through her shields and clout her alongside the head. She groaned and fell to her knees, the bright aura of her magic flickering and now dimming. It trickled from her like blood from a wound, staining the air a lurid purple.
Severus turned and saw her there, her spirit self bore countless wounds and he could tell she was nearing the end of her strength. "Lena, go! Get out before it's too late!"
"I'm afraid it'll always be too late. I'm not leaving you."
"Go! You're going to die here, you know!"
"Lena, please go home! You're in no condition to fight. One more direct hit and you'll be a ghost yourself."
Lena knew what he was saying was true, but she hated to give up so soon. She quickly wove several shields and placed them around Severus, then she felt sheer exhaustion sweep though. "Forgive me, Severus. I'll be back as soon as . . ."she trailed off them, disappearing from sight.
The revenant laughed hollowly. "Poor little Snape, all alone with the big bad revenant. I've been waiting a long time for this, traitor! Now it ends."
The revenant lunged through every shield Lena erected and tackled Severus to the ground. It had its bony hands around the Potion Master's neck and was squeezing.
Severus felt himself gasp for air, his eyes bugging out. He couldn't move, there was a cold mist surrounding him and something else creeping up into his legs. He tried to call for Skull, but got no response. He felt his vision blur and realized that without help he would soon be joining his ancestors.
He felt despair flow over him and heard the rattle of imminent death coming closer and closer . . .
Harry woke up from a sound sleep, drenched in sweat, gasping for breath. He had dreamed that Severus, Lena, and the others were locked in mortal combat with the revenant and they were being killed off one by one. The dream was so vivid and terrifying that Harry couldn't go back to sleep and couldn't shake the feeling that it was a premonition.
Suddenly, he heard the Codex in his head. Hurry, Traveler! Your guardian and his companions are in dire straits! The evil one is destroying them, as it now has part of the magic of your white wizard within it. If you would save them, be quick!
Harry never hesitated. There was no time to think, only act. He threw himself into a meditative trance and then slipped free of his mortal shell, soaring through the veil and into the Place Between Worlds.
Glancing about, he saw no battle. Where are they? I don't see anyone!
Follow your heart, boy. Listen!
Harry closed his eyes and concentrated, feeling along the bond that connected him to the Potions Master. Once he had latched onto it, he willed himself there.
He emerged right about the struggling combatants.
The revenant never glanced around, too focused on killing Severus. But Snape saw Harry and choked out, "No . . . Harry . . . no . . .!"
Harry gritted his teeth. He quickly sketched a circle of runes on the gray dirt, surrounding the revenant and Severus as well. He charged the runes with power and named the revenant. "Let the magic of the circle and the magic of goodness and light recognize Severus Snape as friend, not foe. Let the magic of the runes destroy the one who calls himself Voldemort and those who ally themselves with him."
The runes activated.
Immediately, the revenant/Voldemort began to writhe and yell, but it never removed its hands from Severus' neck.
Harry almost screamed in despair. He could see the blue and green aura that belonged to Severus flickering out like a guttered candle. He could not let Severus die! It was flowing upwards into the revenant and suffusing it with power.
Suddenly Harry remembered something Skullduggery had once said about the astral plane. In the Place Between Worlds, the imagination is a potent weapon. You can do anything you can dream.
Harry closed his eyes and concentrated.
Severus vanished from beneath the revenant's fingers, transported off to the side.
The revenant hissed in shock and looked up . . .
. . . to see a glowing boy holding a flaming spear in his hand.
"Time to die, you bloody bastard! This is for my parents and Severus!" Harry drew back his hand and let the spear fly.
It impaled the revenant right through the heart, pinning it to the earth.
It let out a terrible scream but it could not free itself from the spear, which was forged in fire, death, and vengeance. Gouts of liquid energy erupted from its mouth. "NO! I cannot die! I . . . am . . . immortal!"
"Not here you aren't!" Skullduggery cawed loudly. "Here you are as vulnerable as any that wears flesh."
"Not this time, you poor deluded asshole!" Skullduggery sniggered. "In the Land of the Spirits, the Child of Imagination is king. His power is absolute! Bran-boy, let's finish this!"
Suddenly the raven grew to an immense size, as big as a giant roc, and cawed, "Hit'em hard, Harry! Don't hold back!"
Then the raven dived down upon the helpless spirit, talons extended.
At the same moment, Harry put both fists together and sent a bolt of wizard's fire towards the revenant, the sum total of the combined strength of his magic and the Codex.
The fire and Skull's talons struck the revenant at almost the same time.
The raven's talons ripped into the revenant's face, tearing a great hole in it before the bird vanished.
The fire struck a millisecond later.
The revenant went up like an oil soaked robe, wailing its defeat as the fire consumed it and sent what remained of its soul back through the Veil into an eternity of torment.
Harry remained where he was for a moment more, gasping for breath, feeling his strength drain out of him. He knew he had to get back to his body, but he did not move. Instead he turned and saw that Severus was gone, and Harry knew his guardian had gone back to his body.
And Voldemort, for somehow Harry had known it was he cohabiting the revenant's tattered remains, his nemesis, was no more. The revenant had been laid to rest by a power he knew not—the power of one boy's imagination, determination, and love.
Harry closed his eyes and slid down the silver glowing cord and back into his body, where he lay like one dead for two days, causing Molly and the rest of the Weasleys to have hysterics and transport him to St. Mungos.
A/N: How's that for an epic battle?
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