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Chapter 77 : The Forest of Furies
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A/N: Read, Review and Enjoy!
Luna stared down in horror at Harland's face as it glared back at her from the cover of the advanced copy her father had sent her. WEREWOLF HARLAND MYERS IS TRYING TO TURN DEMONS! The headline screamed out at her, assaulting her eyes as it so boldly declared a statement that would make Xeno and the Quibbler large targets.
“I had to tell Arthur about Australia.” Lupin admitted slowly, just as upset by the story as she was. “I knew he was keeping Xeno apprised of your situation, but I didn't think he'd be this forthcoming.”
Luna sighed and thrust the magazine at Harry, wanting it as far from her as possible. She sat down in one of the deck chairs and hung her head, wondering what her father had been thinking. “Mr. Weasley didn't have to tell him.” She said quietly.
“He sensed a story and used his power to take the information from your Minister's mind.” Adam guessed with a knowing air. “I've done the same thing... like I said before, being in the business, you tend to know when people are lying and being able to read their minds is the most convenient way to the truth.”
She nodded sadly, confirming his guess. “Daddy always was so good at being in his own world, even those who are aware that he has these powers sometimes forget. Mr. Weasley probably didn't have his mind shielded... he rarely did around us as it was.”
“Dad's going to be really mad about this when he finds out.” Fred declared, though those who knew the man had already come to that conclusion.
“I don't see why.” Ginny took the magazine from Harry and flipped through it to the actual article. “Now other humanoids are warned and look! Xeno even mentions Laurel!” She looked up with vengeful happiness. “Harland is thoroughly exposed and wanted for the murder of Laurel Honeywick among several others. But with this story, it won't just be Aurors after him now... I mean, don't you think all the different demon breeds will be hunting him, wanting to take him down before he actually succeeds in creating a hybrid army? Even the Bunyips are taking a stand now... it's not like neutrality will last much longer for anyone. One way or another, Harland will be caught and made to answer for everything he's done.”
“Wouldn't that be nice.” Draco muttered angrily.
“But inciting a riot and global manhunt is dangerous.” Hermione argued before Luna could. “There are already at least three sides in this war... possibly four if Talena really has broken from Elise. It'll be disastrous if everyone of every humanoid species decides to be their own army. Everyone will lose sight of what the real goals are, the ones we're all fighting for, and just make a mad grab for power. Everything will be even more divided than it is now.”
“You don't know that's the way it'll be.” Ginny argued back.
“It's happened before.” She shrugged. “I don't have to be able to see the future... it's all outlined in the past. I've read the history books and it's all there several times over, in many different wars. It's all happened before and if no one pays attention, well... you all know the saying. 'Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'”
“I wish my father would take in that lesson.” Luna grumbled as Harry came over and rubbed her shoulder in comfort. “As if it wasn't bad enough for him to take the chance to expose Lucius and all those Death Eaters. Now he's printing things about one of the most mercilessly dangerous werewolves in the world.”
“Well, this is an advanced copy, right?” Draco asked. “If we warn Mr. Weasley, there's still time to stop the publication, right?”
“Don't bother to hurry.” Luna said to stop Lupin who was already pulling out his communication device. “No one will be able to find the printing presses. The safehouse has so many secret and hidden rooms that even I haven't found them all yet.”
“I still have to try. At the very least, I have to warn him what's coming so he can get the word out to all the ministries aligned with us. If the demons are about to rise up, it's best we keep an eye on them.” He walked to the front of the ship to have the conversation in private.
“It'll be okay, won't it?” Nanami asked quietly.
“I don't know.” Luna answered honestly. “Last time my father did something this dangerous, he and I both separately got warnings in time to stop Elise from burning him alive. But with so many making decisions once they see the article... we'll have to wait and see. All I know for sure is there's no way to stop it now.” Feeling much less like celebrating than she had a few moments earlier, she got up and made her excuses before escaping back to her room where she could be alone to wonder whether her father really had thought the magazine an appropriate gift that would make her happy, or if this was just his way of hoping she wouldn't be as upset with him... by sending her this news on her birthday.
“So she's not going to eat lunch?” Hermione asked in concern. She hated thinking of Luna being sad and alone on her special day... but the other girl had insisted on staying in her room all morning, only letting in Harry and most likely, only because it was his room too.
He seemed upset as he joined the rest of them in the kitchen. “She's in there trying to see what's going to happen because of the Quibbler story. I wanted her to concentrate less on Greece, but not because of something like this.”
“Then you should learn to be careful what you wish for.” Jacey smirked.
“Hey!” Ron came running in, his face red from both time in the sun and his excitement. “Murdo's equipment is picking up a small life boat coming near us... he thinks it may be Gabby. Come on!” He turned and led the way up on deck, the others following quickly behind him. Luna opened her door as they rushed past her room and Hermione could see that she had received the news in her own mind. She looked as relieved as everyone else that Gabby had finally arrived.
Up on deck, they all crowded on the left side railing as Murdo dropped the shield charms protecting the Tamesis. Far off in the distance, Hermione could just make out a small life boat. “I thought they were coming on a ship?” She turned to Luna who had stepped up next to her.
“They did.” She smiled. “This morning, at exactly the halfway point between Greece and Australia, they stole a lifeboat and drifted off, waiting for us to find them.”
“Good.” Murdo grunted from behind them. “I was uncomfortable with the idea of having to pick them up from a ship full of strangers and potential threats.”
“Gabby's been through a lot. She knows how to be cautious.” Harry assured him.
“This is it.” Fred said quietly from his place on Hermione's other side. “Finally I won't have to worry about this stupid leg anymore.” She could hear the anxious happiness in his voice, even if he was keeping it low enough for only her to hear. She reached out and took his hand supportively. Honestly, she was also glad that she wouldn't have to worry about him permanently injuring himself. It would free up a lot of space in her mind to worry about the millions of other things plaguing them and their friends.
“Hola, mis amores!” Gabby called out, waving excitedly as they came closer to her and her husband. Harry, Luna, Lupin and Murdo hurried to help them climb aboard with their small suitcases.
“Well, she seems nice.” Fred grinned, reminding Hermione that he'd never actually met the woman before. In fact, she hadn't really spent much time with Gabby other than that first night in Dumbledore's office when she had healed Harry. How were either of them supposed to just walk up to her and ask her to do them a favor?
The moment Gabby was on deck, she wrapped both Harry and Luna up in a tight hug, clearly happy to be reunited with them. They all three stood close together, most likely talking in their minds before leading her back to the rest of the group. Ron stepped forward to perform a translation spell before introductions were made. “Gabby, you remember Hermione, Ron, Draco and Ginny.” Harry said proudly.
“Hello to you all again.” She smiled, her translation a bit better this time now that Ron had been the one to perform it, yet her accent still pleasantly bore the beauty of her Spanish heritage.
“That's Fred, Lupin, Mai and Murdo.” Harry went on and Gabby nodded politely to them. “And these three are the coven members we just told you about... that's Jacey, Nanami and Adam.”
“I am most happy to meet you.” She gushed, giving them each a brief hug and kiss on the cheek. She gestured for the man behind her, wrapping her arm lovingly around him. “And may I introduce my husband, Philip Hector Hernandez.”
“Hello.” He nodded politely. “I have been hearing much about some of you. The rest I suppose I will get to know on my own.” He added with a smile.
“I can't believe you actually managed to find us.” Lupin marveled.
“I do not see why. They sent me a letter inviting me for joining you all.” Gabby laughed. “I may not have known where in your journey you were, but I was having faith that Luna would see me. Honestly I had thought you would all still be in Australia, but Philip insisted this morning was the time to set ourselves adrift.”
“I have always had a small bit of second sight, that is what my abuela used to call it.” Philip smiled at Luna. “Nothing compared to yours, clearly, since I was a bit early in my prediction. We've been floating for hours.” He laughed good-naturedly.
“You.” Gabby said suddenly, looking directly at Fred and smiling with a knowing air. “You are needing my help... I can hear it loudly even if you are trying to hide it.”
“Well... I mean yes, I do kind of need your help.” He replied uncomfortably. “But, I mean, you just got here. I didn't think asking right away was the best thing to do.”
She laughed and let go of her husband to come pull Fred into one of the chairs as she knelt in front of him. “This is what I do young man.” She assured him, running one hand along his shin. “You have had energy work done on it already, yes?”
“Um, yeah. Healer Drake fixed it up as best he could both times I hurt it.” He looked up at Hermione, his nervousness evident. She smiled in encouragement. After all, this was what they had both wanted for him even if was happening so suddenly.
“Roscoe Drake? I have read some of his studies. He is a very good healer and he was doing a very good job with your leg.” Gabby said approvingly. She glanced up at Fred with a mischievous grin. “But I can do better.”
“That's what I was hoping.” Fred grinned back, once more gaining some of his natural confidence as she spun her magic on him.
“Come, the work needed will be intense. Show me to my room and we will get started.” She stood and turned to Murdo, figuring the captain would know where to put her and her husband.
“We're running low on rooms.” He said scratching his head. “I suppose I could squeeze one in at the end of the hall. It'll be there by the time you get down to it, last door on the left. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to recharge our shielding charms and get us on our way.”
Once at the Hernandez's room, Gabby insisted she be left alone with Fred, even banning her husband until she was done. “No problem.” Harry happily agreed for everyone though as Hermione glanced at Fred, she could see that they both had wanted her to be with him. “We were just about to start lunch before you got here. By the time you're done, we should be ready to eat.”
At first Hermione went with everyone to the kitchen, but sitting at the table as they all chatted and bustled around her while she wondering what was happening with Fred wasn't making her feel any less anxious. Seeing that Luna had once again declined to join in her birthday lunch, she decided her time was better spent trying to make at least today better for her friend. So she snuck out while everyone was distracted with talk of Gabby and Kage, and went down to her room.
“Come in.” Luna called through the door, her tone slightly irritated.
Hermione entered to see her sitting cross-legged on the bed, holding her mirror while a tiny blue and green bird perched on top of her head and chirped. It was a charmingly odd image and therefore a perfect picture of Luna Lovegood. She instantly recognized the bird as a Whisperill, a very rare species and was impressed to find one here of all places, sitting so calmly on her friend's head.“Well, is that a new hat?” She joked, coming in and sitting next to her.
“I named her Allegra... it means joyous and she seems to be such a happy little thing, I thought it a fitting name. She was a birthday gift from Harry.” She moved so the bird would flutter down to sit on her hand and stared lovingly at it before smiling. “Though, I suppose she's as much a gift from Hagrid as well since he's the one who went through the trouble to find and send her.”
“Make sure to keep her away from Crookshanks when we get home.” Hermione laughed. “That silly cat already ruffles Hedwig's feathers and chases Robin around until the poor thing shrieks with displeasure... Allegra is much smaller.”
“And faster.” Luna grinned, waving her hand. The bird quickly took flight, zooming through the open window and back in to land on her shoulder almost faster than their eyes could follow. “I think she'll give any cat a run for their money.” She seemed to have brightened... but as there came a lull in conversation, her brow furrowed and her gaze grew thoughtful and distant as she absently reached up to pet her bird.
“You okay?” Hermione asked, waving a hand in front of her face.
Snapping herself back to the present, she shook her head and sighed. “Just worried.”
“I'm sorry that you had to find out about the Quibbler today.” Hermione offered quietly.
“Me too. Not that there would have ever been a good time to find out.” She grumbled unhappily. “I just wish we could go back to London for a bit, just so I could make sure my father isn't in too far over his head.”
“Well...” She hesitated, wondering what Harry would think of what she was about to suggest. But then, he'd never, ever turned down a request from Luna... and if this would comfort her, then surely he would be even more willing to oblige. “Since we decided Ireland would be our next destination, why don't we stop in at the Shrieking Shack first. Lupin told Harry days ago that Arthur and Moody reported it ready for us. It'll give us all a chance to check in with our friends and families, regroup after what we've already been through and give us a second wind to go on. Plus, if we can get there before the next full moon, then Lupin and Draco can go through it without being trapped on a ship or in an unfamiliar country.”
“It certainly provides a ton of benefits. But can we afford to take this break?” She asked quietly.
“I guess you'd be the one to answer that.” Hermione grinned, reaching out to nudge her.
Luna smiled and put her mirror aside. “Okay, we'll talk to the others about it later. As long as it doesn't affect us finding any of the other coven members, then I would very much like to go back home for a day or two.” She looked at her slyly before adding, “By the way, Gabby is done with Fred. It was a success... he's in your room.”
“Thanks. And happy birthday. I didn't get a chance to say it earlier.” She squeezed her hand, offering her support. “Are you sure you don't want to talk to them all about it now? They're all in the kitchen.”
“No, they'll be focused on Kage now that Gabby has relieved her mind that Fred is better.”
“Oh, yeah. I hope that all goes well, for Nanami's sake.” Hermione said as she stood and moved to the door.
“Me too.” Luna said quietly. “I'll see you in the kitchen in a little bit.”
“Okay.” She closed the door just as Allegra began chirping her happy little song again. As cute as it was, Hermione was glad to have a much quieter pet waiting for her back in London. Suddenly feeling the pang of not being able to hug her cat and a bit of homesickness, she made her way to her room to check on Fred.
He was once again nearly bouncing off the walls with energy... but it couldn't be because of the potion. Hermione had been sure to destroy all of it herself. “You wouldn't believe the rush... it's nothing like when Drake tries to heal.” He said happily, climbing onto the bed and jumping around like a child to show off his strengthened leg.
“Drake does great things with his healing powers.” She reminded him impatiently. “Gabby just has the ability to do it better than him or anyone else on the planet. Now get down from there before you either hit your head on the ceiling or fall off and break both your legs. Just because you have a healer around doesn't mean you should be careless.” She reached up and grabbed his arm to pull him down.
“You're no fun.” He pouted, plopping down to sit on the edge of the bed.
“Yeah, well that's because my idea of fun is less childish and more adult.” She smiled, wrapping her arms around him and kissing his lips as she pressed herself against him.
“I see your point.” He grinned deviously. “Perhaps we can find a way to combine the two.”
Letting Allegra fly free around the room, Luna made sure to close the porthole before she began making her way to the kitchen... though she didn't much feel like being around anyone else. Hermione had helped cheer her, but she couldn't help the sense of dread that washed over her. She felt like her father had finally put the final nail in his coffin. Her whole life he had gone dangerous places and revealed dangerous things, all for the sake of his magazine... but it had been okay before, because no one ever took the Quibbler seriously. Not until three years ago when it had run the story about Harry. She'd been reluctant when Hermione came to her with Rita Skeeter, but she'd wanted to help and hadn't been given a reason not to... aside from a gut feeling of doom. Now, it was coming back to bite her. She deeply regretted involving her father with Rita Skeeter and thus helping his magazine begin the road to real journalism.
Come in here to see me, my darling. Gabby's voice filled her head as she walked past her door. Feeling hesitant, Luna was compelled forward and did as was asked of her, entering the room and closing the door behind her. Gabby was sitting on her bed writing a letter. She looked up with a smile. “Just a note to myself.” She said, placing the paper and pen aside and taking Luna's hand to pull her down beside her.
“Where's Philip?” Luna asked nervously.
She laughed and waved off the question. “He is up on deck I am sure. It is where you will be finding him most since he does not care to feel closed in. He enjoys the feeling of freedom.”
“You're both okay? Nothing happened in Spain?” She continued to stall.
Gabby reached out and gently brushed Luna's hair over her shoulder. “We are fine, it is you I am having worry for. You are having troubles?” She asked lightly. “The same as before?”
“Some of them are the same.” She briefly described Xeno's article and all the problems with it, including the potential threat to his life.
“As grown up as you are and as much as you know, those older than you always assume they know more by default of experience. And very often, they are right.” Gabby wrapped her arm around her and hugged her close. “And sometimes, they are very wrong. Until more is known, we cannot determine whether he was right to do what he has done... but either way, we can agree that he was very brave to do it, yes?”
“Maybe foolishly so.” She sighed and shook her head. “But aren't we all foolishly brave lately? What if our luck is running out?”
“This is a thing we are all thinking about, and it is scaring us all.” She smiled kindly. “Do not let your fear keep you from being open to receiving the gift that may help you help others.” She scolded, tapping her forehead. “You are blocking yourself up here with all your emotions. Calm down and let it be what it is so you can see the way to change it.”
Luna felt herself relax as part of Gabby's healing energy invaded her mind, soothing the doubts, concerns, fears and excitement that had been raging within her for over a week. “Thank you.” She said, sighing again but this time in contentment.
“You are very welcome. And I have something for you!” She got up and went to her suitcase, pulling out something wrapped in a purple velvet cloth. “This is for help with your meditation. A clear mind is key to seeing the future, yes?”
“Yes it is.” Luna agreed, unwrapping the cloth to reveal a large focusing crystal.
“Well then, happy birthday!” Gabby stood and pulled her along to grip her in a hug. “I had always intended to give that to you, it is only my good fortune to find out it is your birthday today.”
“Thank you.” Luna said again, feeling happier.
“Come, let us get to the others. I am sensing another mind on this ship that is needing my help.”
“That would be Kage.” She answered slowly. “I'll let Nanami explain that herself while we're having lunch.”
“You really think you can wake him?” Nanami asked hopefully as they all stood around her cousin in his makeshift prison cell.
“No, not if he refuses.” Gabby said seriously, kneeling next to Kage and reaching out to touch his head. “All I can do is make him want for the waking world. I will do my best to heal his mind and smooth out his confusion... I will forcefully pull him out of the memories he is hiding in, but the rest will be up to him.”
“It'll be okay.” Adam patted Nanami and Mai on their backs reassuringly. “Once she pulls him out of his early memories, I'll be able to see the more recent past. We'll figure him out.”
“I hope so.” She quietly answered.
Harry watched as Nanami and Adam both sat next to Gabby, ready to help feed her their energy. He, Luna and Jacey all shared a look, letting each other know that as hopeful as they were, they had their doubts that anything found out about Kage's association with Nerezza would make things better. They joined the others as Hermione, Fred, Ron, Ginny, Draco, Lupin and Mai took seats along the wall to watch. Harry immediately felt Gabby reach into his mind, tapping into his stores of energy as she sent herself into Kage's head. For extra protection, he wrapped his mind around hers to keep her from being lost and he could sense the others in the coven doing the same. They were all six tethered together... nothing was going to go wrong unless they all allowed it, and they never would.
Unlike when he was in Luna's mind when she had her visions, Harry wasn't able to see anything Gabby was doing... of course, their connection wasn't as unguarded and vulnerable as his and Luna's. After what seemed like hours, he knew he was sweating heavily from the effort of his concentration and that he was shaking, but he couldn't really feel it and he found it disconcerting to be so detached from his own body. He began to wonder when it would end and whether he could hold on.
At last Gabby released them and Harry came back to himself feeling winded and tired. Luna, Jacey, Adam, Nanami and Gabby herself appeared to be no better off. “Whew.” Gabby sighed, wiping her brow. “He certainly hid himself deep in there. But his cocoon is shattering, he is now to a place to be choosing whether he wakes.”
Nanami leaned over her cousin and shook him gently. “Kage? Can you hear me? Wake up and come talk to me, tell me what's going on!” She pleaded, shaking him harder as he refused to acknowledge her.
“It's his father.” Adam said. He had taken one of Kage's hands and was sitting with his eyes closed. But he shook his head in defeat and opened his eyes to look at Nanami sadly. “I can't right now... my mind is so burnt out. It took a lot of energy out of us to free him from the cage he put himself in. But what I sense is that whatever his dealing is with Auror Nerezza, the reason for it lies with his father.”
“My uncle is rotting away in prison.” She replied, crossing her arms defensively as Mai came over to comfort her.
“Maybe Nerezza offered to get him out.” Harry suggested.
“Kage wouldn't have been interested.” Mai put in. “He helped give testimony to ensure his father went to prison in the first place.”
“People can change their minds.” Jacey shrugged.
“Well, whatever the case, you six should go rest. You look like you've all been up for days.” Lupin stood and brushed himself off. “There's still a few days before we get to Greece, there will be time to try again with Kage.”
“Stubborn ass.” Nanami muttered, poking her cousin in the ribs in one last effort to lure him back. “He's always been this way, he never does anything he doesn't want to.”
“Maybe Nerezza didn't give him a choice.” Luna said softly. “Maybe that's why he's asserting so much of his own will now, to make up for having things out of his control when he's awake.”
“For his sake, that better be the case.” She said darkly, getting up and giving Gabby a brief hug. “Thank you for forcing him as far as you did.”
“He is all healed.” She assured her. “He just needs a reason to come back.”
Nanami nodded thoughtfully and turned to go back to her room, Mai trailing protectively behind her. Everyone else scattered and Harry went with Luna back to their room where they both laid down and stared at the ceiling. “What's on your mind?” He asked after awhile, feeling that there was something she wanted to talk to him about.
“I think we should go to the Shrieking Shack after we find Miles.” She said without hesitation, having had the conversation topic on the tip of her tongue. “Hermione suggested it and I think it's a good idea. We'll get a chance to check it out and make sure it'll suit our needs and we'll be able to touch base with everyone in London, maybe even have them come to Hogsmeade to meet us.”
Harry turned on his side and propped his head up on his arm so he could look at her. “You're really that worried about your father?”
She nodded slowly before meeting his eyes. “Yes, I really am. I feel like if I can just see for myself that he's okay, that's he's confident that he's thought of all the ways this will go wrong and has attempted precautions... I don't know, then maybe I won't worry as much.”
“Okay, we'll talk to everyone about making a stop in Hogsmeade.” He agreed, having known from the moment she opened her mouth that he would give her whatever she asked for. “But... nothing is going to make you stop worrying, you know that.”
“Yeah.” She sighed out, taking his free hand and interlacing her fingers with his. “I know. But if I can lie to myself for a little while, just to get through the rest of this journey, then I have to do what I have to do. The lie is easier to believe when he's the one feeding it to me.” She said, clearly speaking from past experiences.
“Whatever you need.” He said, sitting up and stretching. “Maybe we could all use a bit of familiarity. We've been so many places in such a short amount of time. It will also give Gabby, Nanami and Adam a chance to sit and really go over all the information we've been gathering over the year.”
“Plus if we get there before the full moon, Lupin and Draco won't have such a hard time. It was another positive that Hermione and I came up with.” She added, wanting to think of others' comfort along with her own.
“Just for a couple of days at most though.” He warned, getting up to close the porthole and keep Allegra from continually flying about so they could nap without worry of losing her. “Then we have to be on our way to Ireland... and then the States. We have to make sure to find them before Elise does.”
“I haven't seen anything to say we won't.” She assured him.
Harry sighed and got back into bed. “I must say, the idea of going home makes me want to get Greece out of the way that much more.”
“Well, we may get there sooner than you think.” Luna smiled secretively.
It took two whole days before the six coven members felt normal again. None of them had ever felt such a strong surge of energy as they had when working together and Jacey began to worry whether they would be able to handle let alone focus the energy of all twelve. If just half was overwhelming, then she could only imagine their capability at full throttle. But it had been for a good cause, even if Kage still refused to face whatever he was running from in the waking world. Nanami's mind was more at ease, though they could all see her tumbling around that one question... what did her uncle have to do with her cousin's betrayal? Hopefully, Adam could help provide an answer for them all today.
He was feeling optimistic while they all talked around the breakfast table, but then, when wasn't he optimistic? Jacey smiled, finding that she envied his eternal positivity... it was something she would never be able to achieve after the life she'd led. They had all just finished eating and were about to go down to see Kage when Murdo burst into the room, clearly in a happy mood.
“Great news! I wanted to surprise you all so I've been keeping our progress quiet, even from Ron.” He announced with a proud grin.
“Really? We are getting to Greece today?” Jacey asked, pulling the thought from his mind while trying to hide her panic.
“We will be getting there in about an hour.” Murdo returned with a wink.
“See, I told you.” Luna smiled and nudged Harry. “Our early arrival was the only thing I could get a vision of regarding Greece.”
“Come on Ron, I could use some help getting ready to dock. I suggest the rest of you gather your things. Since you aren't exactly sure where to find this Miles fellow, you never know how long you'll be stuck on land.” He turned and left as Ron scrambled to go after him.
“I could probably still read Kage's past in that time.” Adam offered.
But Nanami shook her head in frustration. “No, I'd rather we take the time to really see and understand. I don't want to make any mistakes in accusing him when he finally decides he's brave enough to face me.”
With that settled, everyone scattered to their room, making sure to pack their wands, a change of clothes, and anything else they thought they may need while away from the Tamesis. Jacey closed herself up in her room and sat on her bed to take a moment to breathe. She had been feeling more tense the closer they got to her home, but she thought she still had a few more days to mentally prepare herself. Per Ron's suggestion, she had asked Fred to brew her a glamour... but she was not sure that it would not be better to go without it. Her face was feared throughout Greece, seeing it would either keep low level enemies at bay or rally them all to attack... And just how many familiar faces would she come across? In the London's ministry records, only the basest of information was held on others around the world and so they only had an idea of the which village Miles may be living in...
A knock on her door broke through her anxious thoughts. “Jacey?” She heard Ron call out.
Pulling herself together and pretending to be as calm and confident as she normally felt, she opened the door and let him in. “Hey, I was just debating whether or not to leave Mykele's ring here on the ship.” She offered to cover any lingering doubt he may see.
“I think Harry's planning to bring DaLydia's dagger.” He shrugged and smiled supportively. “And we know Luna likes to keep that mirror close. Nanami never takes her necklace off... I think it's better if you have the one thing that makes you stronger.”
“Okay then.” She agreed. “As much as I have come to trust Murdo, I was not too comfortable with the thought of leaving it here if we really may be gone more than just a few hours.”
“And as long as it's in your possession, no one else will be able to sense it anyway.” He added, sealing the decision. “But that's not what you were really in here worrying about, was it?” He asked gently, reaching out to rub her shoulder in affection.
“Well, look who has decided to become observant.” She grumbled, slumping back down on the edge of the bed. “I am scared.” She practically whispered, looking up at him as she made her admission.
“I know.” He sat and wrapped his arms around her, allowing her to rest her head on his shoulder. “But this time, you aren't going to be left on your own to fend for yourself. We're all going to be there with you.”
“I had just never really thought of coming back home...” Jacey lamented. “There is so much of my past that I never wanted to face. Maybe I should stay on the ship with Murdo...”
“That's your choice.” He said supportively, lightly kissing her forehead. “And if you do decide to stay here... I'll stay with you.” He offered, though she could tell he would rather be out where the action was.
Tilting her head, she captured his lips. “Thank you.” She whispered gratefully.
“We're docking!” Fred announced down the hall. They could hear everyone else rushing to go up on deck,
“Well?” Ron asked.
Jacey grabbed her bag and stood. “I don't know. I guess I'll decide once I see it.”
He took her hand and together they went up. The minute she laid her eyes on land, her heart dropped to her stomach. “What's wrong?” Adam asked, having seen her face.
“That's Messini... we're docking in Messini?” She asked wildly.
“It's the only place nearby with a magical port.” Murdo said, making sure the ship was properly anchored. Everyone else climbed down on land, but Jacey was left reeling as she debated whether or not she had the inner strength to return to a place that held both the best and worst memories of her life.
“You don't have to go.” Ron said quietly from beside her. “But I think you should. It may help you get past some of the things you're still clinging to.”
“I know that you are right.” She sighed and shook her head.
“Come on guys!” Ginny called up to them.
Knowing she would not be able to forgive herself if something happened to any of her friends and she was not there, Jacey steeled herself and decisively climbed down to join the others as Ron followed. Her mind was made up, she was going to return to her village. The moment her foot touched the ground, she heard Luna cry out in surprise and turned in time to see Harry and Draco catch her as she slumped into a vision. Apparently, Jacey's decision whether or not she would actually enter Greece was the thing holding Luna up from seeing anything of their time here... now that she had made her choice, how would it affect everyone else?
Luna started in the white room, telling her that this was a warning. The room spun around her and she quickly found herself in an unfamiliar forest with strangely menacing trees and the sounds of odd, dark creatures surrounding her. The others were there, walking ahead of her while looking for whatever their destination was... she had a sense that someone was following them and had been for awhile. Glancing over her shoulder, the forest disappeared and a group of masked Death Eaters came forward, demanding to know from Jacey where Stavros Petras was. Jacey insisted that the man was dead, that she had killed him because they had wanted her to. It was clear they didn't believe her, that they had a reason to think she was hiding a man who she had publicly burned to death. “Hey!” an unknown yet familiar voice called out from behind her. Whipping around, she was back in the forest and staring at a strange boy with delicious olive tanned skin, soft brown hair and piercing hazel-blue eyes. She knew instantly that she was catching her first glimpse of Miles and watched with interest as he knelt over a hole that was emitting a blinding light.
“Luna?” She heard Harry saying her name as she came back, blinking her eyes against the sun.
“What happened? What did you see?” Jacey demanded before Luna could even sit up. “I knew I should have stayed on the ship.” She muttered to herself.
With Harry and Draco's help, Luna got back on her feet and gratefully took the canteen of water Lupin handed her, drinking deeply before quickly letting everyone know what she saw. No one looked thrilled with what she had to say but this wasn't the time or place to discuss it and so they walked on. A passing witch trying to be friendly and say hello caused Ron to recall the translation spells and he quickly waved his wand over them all so they would be able to communicate with the locals. They walked in silence for awhile until they were at last within the borders of the magical part of Messini, completely hidden from Muggles.
“So...” Fred turned to Jacey as they paused under the shade of a large tree so Hermione could look through her maps and let Draco attempt to scry for Miles. His words came out in Greek, but they were all perfectly able to understand him. “...do you want the glamour so the Death Eaters Luna saw won't recognize you? I packed it just in case.” He reached into his bag to grab the vial and hand it over but before she could take it, Luna felt a sudden rush of fear and instinct run through her and she yelled out a warning that they were about to be attacked.
Everyone heard her and shielded in time, but the spell flung at them caused the ground to practically explode beneath their feet and sent them flying to the ground. Rolling to her side, Luna saw that the vial had slipped from Fred's hand and shattered on the ground. Jacey's only chance of going unnoticed here was now soaking into the dirt. Everyone climbed to their feet with their wands ready as four cloaked figures approached them. “What are you strangers doing here with those wolves?” The one in front demanded.
Another of the cloaked figures stepped forward, removing their hood to reveal a young girl with large, startled brown eyes. “Jacinda?” She asked in amazement.
“Daphne!” Jacey rushed forward to embrace the girl who had just helped attack them, her relief at finding a friendly face so overwhelming that Luna could feel it through their link to each other.
“What are you doing here?” Daphne asked as they broke apart, looking past her to the rest of them... and at Draco and Lupin in particular. “And why did you bring werewolves with you?” She added in a lower voice.
“We are only here to look for a friend.” Jacey insisted. “You do not need to worry about those two.”
“You better be right.” Another cloaked figure removed his hood to reveal a young, handsome man with wavy, dark brown hair. “We have enough to deal with the vampires crawling all over the country. The last thing we need is a wolf infestation.”
“Relax Thomas.” Daphne scolded. “If anyone knows what they are doing when it comes to humanoids, it is Jacinda.”
“Until she joined Alexandros Verga and abandoned the rest of us hunters.” Thomas scowled.
“You abandoned me.” Jacey returned fiercely. “If you will recall, you did not have the stomach or will to do what it took to take care of the vampires and left me in the wilderness to continue my quest alone. I can only hope that you gained some sort of spine since last I saw you.”
“Just get out of Messini as quickly as you can. You will not find many beyond Daphne who will be glad to see you.” He practically spit out in anger before turning and walking away with the two remaining cloaked people.
“Do not mind him.” Daphne said to them all with a friendly smile. “He likes to think he is the head hunter with Jacinda gone... in reality, he fights the least. Too scared of messing up his hair.” She laughed.
“Same old Thomas.” Jacey muttered. “What is the vampire situation here?”
“Not as bad as it is in Athens.” She shrugged, as if the fear of eventual attack was just one more normal aspect of life. “With the Death Eaters in control there, the vampires have the run of the city. They even banished or killed those of their own kind who refused to stop using the blood banks.”
“Even more reason to get out of here as quickly as possible.” Harry said, trying to casually smooth his hair and ensure his scar, the most identifying mark about him, remained hidden.
“Well, who are you all here looking for?” Daphne asked.
“Have you heard of a young psychic named Miles Papadopoulos?” Jacey asked hopefully.
Her face soured and she regarded them doubtfully. “Everyone knows about him... why on earth would you want to find someone like him?”
“What do you mean?” Luna asked, her head swelling with intuition.
She turned to Jacey. “You have been gone a long time and word of him has only started circulating within the last few years. He is known for being the loneliest, meanest, most dishonest person in Greece. It is assumed that is only his hatred of everyone that kept him from joining the Death Eaters in Athens.” She answered, shaking her head in disgust. “Rumor is, he used to live in Rouley, a small village north of here. After his parents died when he was a child, he refused to let anyone else care for him and cursed anyone who tried to step foot on his property. How he knew such advanced spells at such a young age is beyond us all, but it has been guessed that his parents had been secretly teaching him since he was born, as if they knew they would not live to see him into adulthood. Anyone who visited his village said they instantly felt angry for no reason at all and it would last until they exited the village's borders. Eventually, fighting and crime rose in the area, as if Miles' bad mood were affecting everyone around him. A few years ago he moved to the even smaller village of Faton and the same thing happened, everyone felt angry for no reason until all they could do was fight and bicker with each other. But the funny thing was, back in Rouley, things went back to normal... it was like the whole village was freed from a spell and they became themselves again. When those in Faton heard about Rouley, they ran Miles out so that they could also be freed... and as soon as he was gone, they were.”
“So where is he now?” Harry asked, trying to hide how happy he was to learn that Miles seemed to be far from someone Luna could ever be attracted to.
“Daphne! Let's go!” Thomas yelled impatiently from the doorway of the building behind them.
She rolled her eyes and smiled. “We're about to have another pointless strategy meeting. As boring as they are, I have to be there to keep the others from strangling Thomas for his own good.” She explained. “As for Miles, I heard he went to live in the most fitting of places for him... the Forest of Furies. I do not recommend you go there, and Jacinda, you know why. But if you do, all I can say is good luck... with Miles and the furies!” She gave Jacey one last hug and made her promise to stay in touch before rushing off to the house.
“Okay, this just got serious.” Lupin said in concern as they gathered to discuss their next move.
“What are furies?” Ron asked. “I don't remember ever going over those in class.”
“We did, you must have just been in the middle of one of your all too frequent classroom naps.” Hermione argued.
“Furies only live in one place in the world, that's why the forest is named for them.” Lupin explained with a sigh. “They are small creatures who feed off of the poor feelings of those around them. They will do whatever it takes to either anger or sadden anything capable of feeling those emotions and then attach themselves like leeches until their victim loses the will to live.”
“From what Daphne said, they could feed off of Miles for quite awhile.” Adam said. “Are we sure this is the right guy?”
“Unfortunately.” Luna said in disappointment. There had been a small part of her that had been saying that as much as she needed information from Miles, he wouldn't be someone she would get along with. Now she knew she should have listened instead of hoping she was just nervous.
“What if he doesn't agree to join the coven?” Nanami asked. “He doesn't sound like the type to care whether the fate of the world is in the balance.”
“Clearly we have the chance to make our case. If he was never going to decide to join us, I'm sure that's something I would have seen.” Luna answered, trying to assure herself as well as them.
“So we are going to go to the Forest of Furies then?” Jacey looked around, clearly feeling more exposed now that her friend had left.
“We have to, do we not?” Gabby asked, taking her husband's hand for support in feeling as brave as she sounded.
Jacey grabbed the maps from Hermione and folded them up. “Then you can put these away. I know the way there. Once we arrive, Draco can scry... but hopefully our connection to him will lead us safely to his location.” She took the lead and adjusting their bags, they all willingly followed as she walked into the trees and away from her home village.
“Can we rest again?” Ginny asked, her legs feeling like they were going to collapse beneath her. They had been walking through the woods for hours and she was sure she couldn't be the only one who was tired, hungry and thirsty. Everyone else was panting and sweating and looking eager for a break.
“I would not recommend it.” Jacey said, using the hem of her shirt to wipe her face. “We have crossed into the furies' territory. It is best we keep moving before too many of them realize we are here.”
“Everyone stay close together.” Lupin said shepherding them into as small a group as possible.
“Can you all feel this?” Luna asked uncertainly. As soon as she spoke, Ginny felt a calm, soothing serenity flow through her, leaving her feeling loved and peaceful.
“Hold on I will be helping.” Gabby said, touching Luna's shoulder and adding her healing energy to emphasize the protective cocoon around them all.
With Luna becoming so good at this and with the feelings now swirling within her, Ginny could only imagine what Miles was capable of since energy manipulation was his main power. Of course she didn't really have to imagine. They had just heard from Daphne how he had manipulated the feelings of whole villages... the only thing really left to wonder about was whether or not he'd intended to do so.
“Be careful where you step.” Lupin warned. “Furies are burrowing creatures and are known to dig out traps and tunnels for their victims to get lost in.”
“It's one of their favorite ways of provoke the feelings they like to feed on.” Hermione added, always needing to get in the last word on a lesson.
Shifting her bag more comfortably on her shoulders, Ginny took to looking at the ground, trusting the others to be looking ahead. Draco was leading the way, his pendulum swinging out their direction with steady regularity and as none of the coven members were protesting, it was clear they were on the right path. After a short while, they found a large, fallen tree blocking their way. The foliage was so thick on either side of their makeshift pathway, they had no choice but to climb over. Ginny quickly scrambled to the other side, completely used to the activity due to long summers trying to keep up with her brothers as they scaled trees, fences and anything else they could find. Stepping aside to wait for everyone else, she suddenly felt a sharp sting on her ankle. “Ow!” She cried in surprise, jumping away from the bushes where she could hear some creature scamper off.
“What happened?” Fred asked, having been the one standing closest to her. He steadied her as she bent to examine her foot. Right above her sock, tiny teeth marks lined her skin as tiny drops of blood began trickling out.
“Something bit me!” She said angrily.
“Shh!” Luna scolded as Harry and Jacey helped her over the tree. “They want you to get mad.”
Lupin practically leapt over to come check out her wound, nodding over what he found. “Yes, that is a fury bite. With the inconvenience of the tree and the quick bite, they're trying to provoke our anger.”
“Fine, I won't be angry. But I'm irritated.” Ginny pouted, crossing her arms.
“Relax my dear. All can be made whole again.” Gabby smiled, reaching out to briefly touch the wound. As soon as she made contact, a surge of warm, electric energy shot through her, making her feel momentarily invincible. By the time Gabby moved her had, there was no evidence of any kind of bite. “You see? Nothing to be feeling poorly about.”
“Let's keep moving...” Luna suggested as she leaned against the tree and closed her eyes against whatever flashes of the future she was being shown. “I think we're really close to finding him.”
“Closer than you think, if I am who you are looking for.” A voice said smugly from above them. They all looked up to see a young man standing high up in the branches. He had soft brown hair that shone a light reddish color in the sun that streamed through the leaves and even from this distance, it was clear that his eyes were a piercing hazel-blue that were so light they were like ice. But the suspicious fury ruined any beauty that could be found in such eyes and likewise, the handsomeness of his facial features was marred by a deep scowl.
“Miles, you've seen us coming here.” Luna called up to him, clearly knowing something that the rest of them didn't. “How long did you know that we were going to find you?”
“Long enough.” He said, his tone gentler this time as he addressed only her. “You might as well take them all and turn around now. I won't be leaving here with you... it's not written in my future.”
“If that were true, we wouldn't be here to give you a choice.” She returned. Everyone else remained silent, allowing Luna to be their voice since she had obviously seen something a few moments ago that they couldn't know.
“What choice?” He scoffed. “I may not know exactly what you are offering or why you are here, and I may not know why I feel a weird connection to some of you... but I do know that anywhere beyond the forest's borders is nowhere I want to go. That far outweighs any offer you can make.”
“It is not an offer. It is a call to do whatever is necessary to keep the world safe.” Jacey argued, unable to keep from speaking any longer. Her impatience to be done with this and out of Greece as quickly as possible was evident in her tense body language. “It is a call that comes to you because of who your ancestors were.”
“Well, unlike these ancestors of mine, I do not care to save the world.” He smirked, crossing his arms and leaning against the tree as he effortlessly kept his balance. “I do not care at all if it burns to the ground around me. I took no part in it's destruction and so I have no responsibility in it's salvation.”
“There's no one else who can take your place with us.” Luna said carefully. Ginny could practically see the wheels in her head turning as she decided the best way to deal with Miles. “We need you.” She added softly, looking up at him with a gently pleading gaze.
He shifted uncomfortably from his perch before hardening once more. “Maybe that is true. But it is also true that I do not need you.”
“For how long?” Harry asked in frustration. “The Death Eaters have already taken Athens and are spreading out quickly. How long do you think they'll let you remain here hiding like a hermit? Eventually you'll have to choose whether to join them, or be killed by them.”
“What we're offering to you is the chance to join us and make your own destiny, to not leave yours nor anyone else's fate up to the whim of the Death Eaters and those who pull their strings.” Nanami put in calmly.
“I have never been a joiner.” Miles replied stubbornly. “Now you really should go. Wherever I am, hordes of furies tend to lurk... that is why I am up here. They are wonderful tunnelers, but very poor climbers.”
“Wait!” Luna yelled. But he paid her nor any of the rest of them calling out any mind, simply leaping and swinging his way from branch to branch as he quickly moved deeper into the woods.
“Hey!” Adam called for their attention, gesturing for them all to quiet down. “Listen...” He whispered. Ginny gripped Draco's arm in fear as they all heard the bushes rustle around them and a loud humming, announcing the presence of dozens upon dozens of furies.
“Everyone clear your minds and forget what happened.” Luna said quickly, knowing they were all feeling upset after talking to Miles. Once again, Ginny felt the calming effect of Luna's secondary power rush through her... but it was clearly too late. Too many of them were feeling scared, the furies' other favorite emotion.
“We better run before they completely surround us. Stick together.” Lupin advised.
As a group, they all took off, attempting to both flee the furies and follow Miles. Taking the chance to glance back, Ginny saw the furies nipping at their heels, snapping their teeth and pumping their spindly little legs as fast as they could go while their grotesque, moss covered bodies quivered with excitement. Seeing that was enough to give her a second wind and she quickly found herself at the front of the group with Lupin, Draco, Harry, Ron, Adam and surprisingly, Hermione. Perhaps fear had given her an extra boost as well.
“Wait, not that way!” Luna called out in warning. Seconds later, Ginny saw what Luna's intuition must have shown her, there was a fury trap right in front of them. Draco and Lupin who were the fastest of the group were unable to slow at all and simply leapt gracefully over the leaf covered hole. Hermione was also unable to stop her momentum and tripped, falling through the hole as Harry leapt to try and catch her which only resulted in him tumbling down after her followed quickly by Adam who had mad a mad grab for them both.
“Whoa!” Ron teetered at the edge and Ginny grabbed his arm only to be pulled in after him.
“Ginny!” She heard Draco shout as she tumbled further and further underground until the last of the daylight above her disappeared completely.
Lupin grabbed Draco to keep him from diving down after the others. Luna slid up to the hole and knelt with them to shout desperately. “Harry! Can you hear me?” She screamed, both aloud and in her mind. He didn't answer to either.
“Hermione! Ginny! Ron!” Fred tried but again there was no reply at all.
“The furies!” Mai shrieked as she attempted to kick the creatures away from her.
Luna scrambled to her feet as she realized the creatures had begun to swarm, shaking off those who were attempting to cling to her clothes. She gasped in shocked pain as she felt their tiny claws digging into the skin of her leg as they climbed up her, trying to bring her back to the ground. Luckily Miles had been right, they weren't great climbers and quickly fell off.
“Impedimenta!” Lupin shouted, stopping another wave from reaching them. And then they were all casting at once, freezing or binding as many furies in place as they could... but there were so many, hundreds or perhaps thousands working together against them. Jacey created a small fiery ring around them all, ensuring fewer of the furies could reach them should Lupin's earlier spell fail. Nanami was using her power to influence the creatures against each other and pair by pair it was working... but it was clear that it would take far too long and too much energy to hope to beat them all that way.
And then suddenly the furies stopped, dropping to the ground in a content daze as an overwhelming beam of peaceful energy washed over the forest, infusing itself in every rock, plant and beast. “Wow.” Luna breathed out, having never felt so serene in her entire life.
“Well, I guess you all do need me after all.” Miles smirked, jumping down from the branches above them and landing in front of her. He looked her up and down and grinned. “I was wondering how good a seer you were and whether you would be shown that trap in time.”
“Why?” Jacey demanded suspiciously on Luna's behalf.
He shrugged. “I did not see it in time the first time I walked this path. Good for you that you did... too bad your friends are so clumsy.” He walked over to the hole and peered down before glancing back at her and grinning as he gestured to the furies on the ground that were immobilized because of the positive energy he was expelling. “And too bad you are not better at energy manipulation.”
“So you know where that tunnel leads?” Lupin demanded, ignoring the jabs Miles was taking and once again maintaining a grip on Draco to keep him from going down there after Ginny.
Miles nodded and grinned in demented amusement. “Yes, but you aren't going to like the answer.”
“It doesn't matter. We have to find them.” Luna insisted, nearly pleading with him. Despite the mood enhancement Miles was amplifying out, it was driving her insane that she couldn't feel Harry's presence in her mind and she wondered just how far below ground he was.
Miles softened, seeing the desperation in her eyes. He looked away uncomfortably and shrugged again, maintaining his distant air. “All the tunnels lead to the same place... your friends are on their way to the center of the furies' hive.”
NOTE: Thanks to everyone for reading and propelling me forward! More to come soon!
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