Chapter 10 The Secret of Rhedae
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Harry and his three friends didn't light their wands as they slowly walked down the corridor into the darkness ahead. The floor of the tunnel was lit by the yellow backlight coming from the chamber behind them. The floor was smooth, although covered by the dust of millennia. Their footprints were the first to disturb its symmetry in a very long time. They were all feeling humbled, the weight of privileged responsibility giving them an air of reverence as they walked.
They had gone about fifty yards before they came to a halt. They sensed that they had just entered a space that was larger than the tunnel. The light from the Knight's cavern behind was now all but gone, but before any of them could raise their wand to give some illumination, a faint silvery glow suddenly sprung from the ceiling above. They looked up to see the rock ceiling, smooth and arched like the ceiling of a gothic cathedral, glowing with an inner light. They looked about them to see a circular chamber, about ten yards in diameter. Equally spaced around the walls hung four long shields. They each had a white background surrounding a red Templar cross.
"Oh, look at the floor," breathed Ginny with awe.
They all looked down to see that the floor of the chamber was covered in a vast mosaic, each piece no bigger than a thumbnail. The colour of the mosaic was predominantly milky white, with darker coloured pieces fitted to form a pattern. They walked to the side of the chamber so that they could better see the design.
Around the outside of the floor was a circle of black, inside which was the outline of a Templar cross in red, the arms of each of the four extremities just touching the ends of the circle. At the centre of the cross was another circle, again in black, and inside this circle was a strange golden shape. It was a very simple shape - just two curved lines meeting at one end and then arcing out and then back in on themselves, and crossing each other just before they touched the other end of the inner circle.
"I've seen that design before," said Hermione, "but I can't think where."
They looked back up from the floor and gazed around the chamber. To their right, and exactly placed between two of the shields, were two columns stretching from the mosaic floor to the arched ceiling. They could see that they were made of polished milky-white marble, which reminded them of those found in a Greek or Roman temple. Hermione couldn't resist. She walked up and stretched out her hand to feel the smooth beauty of one of the columns.
"It's lovely," she breathed, caressing the stone like she would the delicate wing of a butterfly.
"Do you think we have to do something?" asked Ron, "I mean, I can't see any secret here."
"I don't know, Ron," answered Harry, "I think this is one of those times when we have to be patient. We know we're at the centre of the mystery. We'll just have to wait until something happens."
"It is a thing of beauty, is it not?"
The four jumped at the sound of the soft and gentle voice that came from behind them. They turned and saw a glowing silvery-white form in the shape of a man, but no clear features were visible - they were hidden by the intensity of the light that surrounded him. The four teens had to shield their eyes as they looked directly at the apparition.
The spirit was looking at Hermione as he spoke, "These two pillars were brought from the inner temple of Jerusalem by my trusty servants, the Knights Templar. That was once my resting place until it came under threat. Before that, my home was the great repository of knowledge in the Library of Alexandria. That was destroyed, also. Since those times, Rhedae has been my home."
"Wh … who are you?" whispered Hermione in a small and nervous voice.
"I am the spirit of the Light. I have been known by many names through the ages. Now I am known as The Secret, but I have also been known, among other names, as the Holy Grail and The Anointed One."
Hermione looked at the spirit, and then down at the design at the centre of the mosaic. A look of awe came over her beautiful features as she raised both hands to cover her mouth, and she then sank slowly onto the floor, not moving her eyes, which were now wet with tears, from the spirit.
"I see that you know me, child. You know my other names. You are the one of intellect - the one who has helped, along with the brave," the spirit turned and looked at Ron, "and the one with compassion," he looked at Ginny, "bring the Anima Summa into my presence."
He finally turned and looked at Harry. He, together with Ron and Ginny, had watched and listened to the words - but they didn't understand. They didn't know what Hermione knew.
"I am a repository of ancient wizarding knowledge, one of three that still exists throughout the world. That knowledge was gathered by one far greater than I and shared between the three guardians. It is our duty and honour to share this knowledge with the true defender of the light - the Anima Summa. That is why you have been summoned here - to witness those secrets."
The spirit slowly walked over towards Harry and looked him directly in the eye and spoke, still with that soft and gentle voice, "Allow me to see into your heart and mind so that I may be completely sure that you are indeed the true Anima Summa."
Harry blinked nervously, but nodded his assent. The spirit raised both arms and reached out towards Harry. He placed one hand on his head and the other over the centre of his chest. Harry could feel nothing, apart from a warm glow coming from the hands that were on him.
After a few brief moments, the spirit dropped his arms, "Yes. You are the true Anima Summa. You are young, but strong and brave. You are filled with the qualities of your three helpers - they are your right arms - your pillars - your conscience - your friends. With these three, you are rich beyond all the treasures in the world. You are part of them as they are part of you.
"You have three more tasks to perform, Anima Summa - three quests that will prepare you for the final conflict with the Dark. I can help with the first, but you must find your own way with the other two. Those two tasks will see you journey to other ancient places in the world. You must seek out the secrets and mysteries of my two fellow guardians and feed on their council. Only then will you be ready to face your destiny.
"But first, you must seek out the one who will be your closest ally. Your first task is to find your Anima Summa."
Harry's eyes opened in astonishment, "But .. but ..," he stuttered, not able to get out the words.
Ron came to his rescue. "But we thought that Harry was the Anima Summa. There can't be two of them can there?"
The spirit smiled gently and looked at Ginny and then Hermione, "These two know. They are both aware that there is another. But do not be angry with them. They were charged to keep their silence, a silence that served a purpose. You, Anima Summa, were not to learn of this until you came to me. I will now tell you of the prophecy."
"Th .. the prophecy?" Harry asked.
"It has been pre-ordained that in times of great peril, when the Dark threatens to overtake the Light, an Anima Summa will arise in the midst of the world. He must seek out his soul mate - his true Anima Summa - and join with her. They must then, together, seek out the mysteries and secrets of the ancient world and gain the secret magical power to challenge the Dark. You have completed the first task, and now you must complete your second before starting the final two quests."
"But .. but what about my friends? They have helped me up to now, won't they be permitted to help me in the other tasks?"
"Yes. They will always be with you. They are part of the prophecy. But you must also be joined by your Anima Summa. You cannot gain the power if she is not by your side. She has been specially chosen, from the moment of her conception, just three months after you were conceived."
"Who is she? Who is the other Anima Summa?" Harry asked, still in a daze.
"That I do not know. Only you can find her. Your three friends cannot help you in this task. It is for you alone."
"But how? How will I know if a girl is the right one?"
"That is where I can help you," the spirit reached into his shining robes and pulled out two objects. He reached over and held them out towards Harry, "Take these. They will help. They will know when the time is right for you to meet your Anima Summa. It may be today, tomorrow, next week, next month. I cannot tell you when, only that these will guide you. Make no mistake, when the time is right and you meet the right one, they will help you know it beyond any shadow of a doubt."
Harry reached out and took the objects from the spirit. He looked down and saw two silver rings nestling in his hand. They each had a design on their outer sides - a Templar cross and the same design as the one at the centre of the circle in the mosaic. "How will they help?" he asked.
"When you have been guided to your Anima Summa, you must place one of the rings on her hand, and the other on yours. This will seal the bond. They will also help you in your final two tasks. The sealing of the bond will activate certain ancient knowledge, which I am about to give you. This knowledge will be held in the back of your mind, and that of your Anima Summa, only coming to the surface when you are needful. Be warned, the knowledge I impart is very ancient and powerful. Be sure to use it only to do good, and never for any selfish or personal act. Come, stand over my symbol - there at the centre of the mosaic."
Harry, still in somewhat of a daze, slowly walked to the centre of the floor and stood over the strange design. He looked up to see the spirit raise his right arm and point his hand, palm upwards, in his direction. He felt a strange, tingling sensation as a bright, silvery light came from the spirit's palm and surrounded his head and shoulders. It lasted only for a few moments, and then it was over. Harry looked about him, confused. He searched through his mind, his memories, trying to find the knowledge that had just been given to him. But he couldn't recall anything - except just one thing that hadn't been in his mind before. He looked at the spirit, his eyes wide and staring, searching for the features that would confirm what he now knew. His legs felt weak and he sat on the floor, as Hermione had done before him.
"You now know my other names also," said the spirit smiling, "It is true."
"Harry?" Ginny went over and looked down at him, "Who is he?"
"It .. it .. it's ..," he trailed off, speechless and looked over at Hermione, who had regained her composure, although she still looked as stunned as Harry.
"Ginny, Ron," she said quietly, "That design in the middle of the floor - I remember where I'd seen it before. It was in Rome, when I went there on holiday a few years ago with my parents. We visited the Catacombs beneath the Pantheon. That symbol was everywhere - it's a fish, the sign the Christians used in the early days. The name 'The Anointed One' - it was translated from the Greek. It means Christ. Here, standing before us, is Jesus Christ."
"What?" breathed Ron in disbelief, and looked at the spirit, "You're Jesus? But how? Weren't you crucified and then rose into heaven?"
Jesus smiled at Ron and then at Ginny, who was now sitting at Hermione's side, holding her hand, "Yes. I am he. But only one aspect of the man you know as Jesus. I exist in more than one place and more than one time. I am here, but I am also where you call Heaven. I am now, but I am also then and also will be."
"I .. I don't understand," said Ron softly.
"You don't understand now, brave one, but you will. At some time in my future you will see the true nature of things. But it is not for me to explain the workings of the great one at this time. You must find your own way to that."
"But didn't you teach everyone, two thousand years ago, how to get to heaven?" asked Hermione, now looking intently at the spirit. She had a deep and urgent desire to know. That was her nature.
"Yes child - but not in the way that you have been told by others. I have been saddened, over these long years, to see my teachings changed in a subtle way. But it is not really the fault of the Liar. He was merely doing what he knew best to ensure that the world knew of me and what I represent. He knew that to preserve the word of Light for the future, he had to make my history appeal to the powers of the time - mighty Rome. Without their acceptance of the word, it would not have survived to this day. So he was merely misguided, as well as good."
"Who was The Liar?" Asked Hermione.
"You will find out in the years to come. I will now merely point you in the right direction - read the scrolls unearthed at Qumran - read the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hidden in those scriptures is the identity of The Liar - but do not look on him unkindly."
Jesus' eyes grew harder and his voice lost its soft and gentle quality, " Reserve that look for those powerful and greedy men who have taken my name in vain. They have twisted my teachings for their own ends and have carried out atrocities beyond belief in my name."
His voice softened once more, and he stepped back towards the far wall, "What you have heard and seen this day must remain a secret. Do not reveal it to anyone except that noble and dearly-loved servant of the Light - Albus Dumbledore. Listen to him, Anima Summa. He will be a source of great help and council in the times ahead. He is your friend and has vast knowledge - heed what he offers. Know one more thing - the rings you have been given must be returned to me when you have completed all your tasks. They are yours only for a fleeting moment in the long march of time. They must be preserved for a time when the next Anima Summa seeks the secret. I pray that it will be a very long time until that happens, because it is Darkness that spawns the quest.
"It is time for you to leave this place," Jesus looked at Ron and smiled, "And I know that one of you is in great and urgent need of sustenance."
Ron's face coloured as a low rumble came from the depths of his stomach, "Sorry," he whispered as he put his hands over his belly. Jesus turned and faced Harry.
"You must now go and start your first quest to find your Anima Summa. Remember, you must do this alone - do not seek help. Great powers will be bestowed on you both, but only if you accomplish the task alone. Use only the power of the rings. I bid you God speed and farewell, sons and daughters of the Light."
Jesus then seemed to shrink and the light faded. Before he vanished from their sight, the four looked at the true face of Jesus.
"Wait, please," shouted Harry, "I've got a lot more questions. I need to know what the last two tasks are…." But he was only speaking to empty space. Jesus had gone.
The four friends gathered together at the centre of the chamber and put their arms around each other, seeking comfort in their closeness. They stayed like that for several minutes, trying to come to terms with what they had just witnessed.
Finally, Ron spoke, "Well. That was something else! He didn't look a bit like those paintings and statues you see in churches, did he?"
"Did you feel the power coming from him?" said Ginny, "It was like being bathed in something incredibly good. It's difficult to describe."
"Yes, Ginny," said Hermione, "I think we all felt that."
"So now we know the secret of Rhedae," said Harry, "But I've got a lot more questions than answers. When and how did you know about the other Anima Summa, girls?"
Ginny and Hermione looked at each other sheepishly, and then Ginny replied, "We found out when we were doing the research into the message from your amulet. We're not the only ones who know, Harry. Professor Dumbledore found out last summer, when he received a prophecy from the centaurs. His inner circle knows, as well - including Sirius, Professor Lupin and Ceri. We were sworn to secrecy - we were told that it could cause you harm if you found out the full truth before you were ready for it."
Harry nodded, "I can accept that. But where do I go from here?" He thought for a moment, "Do you know any girl with a birthday of 31st October 1980?"
"Harry," Hermione answered quickly, "Even if we did, we can't tell you. You heard Jesus - we aren't permitted to help. I'm sorry but you have to do this without us."
Harry nodded gravely, "That's what worries me. I'm never at my best when it comes to girls - they're a mystery to me." He looked at his two female friends, "You don't seem to think the same way as us boys."
"Amen to that," said Ron with feeling.
"We'll support you as much as we can, Harry," said Ginny, "We'll always be there for you if you want to talk. But just don't expect us to find your Anima Summa for you - we can't. Only you know your innermost feelings - listen to them. And don't forget the rings."
Harry looked down - he was still clutching the rings tightly in his hand. He put them safely in his trouser pocket and sighed, "Well I suppose we'd better get back."
Ron looked at his watch, "It's half past six. Six and a half hours we've been down here, and it'll take us at least two hours to find our way out of the labyrinth, even with Ginny's map."
"Oh lord," said Harry looking sick, "The others outside the church. They can't have been able to hold off the Death Eaters this long. I hope they're all right. Come on, the sooner we start, the sooner we'll get back."
The glow dimmed as they rushed out of the chamber, and winked out just as they entered the corridor. The four hurried along, drawn by the yellow glow up ahead in the Knight's cavern. They emerged and saw that Jacques de Molay was waiting for them.
"I SEE FROM YOUR FACES THAT YOU HAVE SPOKEN TO JESUS," his resounding and authoritative voice filled the cavern.
"Yes, Sir Knight," replied Harry, "And we now know the tasks ahead. But we are worried for our friends' safety above ground. They are facing great evil to protect us and we've been so long in the labyrinth. We have to get back to them before they are over-whelmed - if they haven't been already."
"DO NOT WORRY, ANIMA SUMMA. YOUR FRIENDS ARE STILL SAFE. WAIT THERE AND I WILL RETURN YOU TO THE CHURCH, WHICH IS DIRECTLY ABOVE." He turned and held his sword against the corridor opening, again muttered in a strange language, and the rock wall closed, leaving no sign that an opening had been there only a few moments before.
He turned back to the four, "I WILL CONTINUE TO GUARD THE SECRET, AND I AWAIT YOUR RETURN - FOR YOU SURELY WILL RETURN TO BRING BACK THE RINGS OF JOINING. NOW GATHER TOGETHER BEFORE ME - STAND CLOSE."
They did as they were asked, and huddled together in front of the Knight, who lifted his sword and held it over their heads.
"FAREWELL BRAVE SOULS. MAY THE GREAT ONE GRANT YOU SAFE PASSAGE IN YOUR QUESTS"
He then quietly uttered something in the same unfamiliar language that he'd earlier used, and a blue light emerged from the tip of his sword, covering all four in its radiance. They closed their eyes against the glare, and then blinked them open - and found themselves standing in the church, on the white square in the aisle that had, six and a half hours before, allowed them entry to the labyrinth.
Hermione looked at her watch - her eyes curious. And she gasped. "Look - it's only just after twelve thirty. That's only half an hour since we left!"
"That's impossible, Hermi," exclaimed Ron as he checked his watch, as did the other two. They all looked at each other with disbelief.
"Now we know what that voice meant by 'Time will be equalised.' The time we lost on our last visit has been returned to us on this."
"That's powerful magic, Hermi," said Ron, "This is beyond me."
They all suddenly turned towards the entrance to the church as they heard the sound of a curse exploding against the wall outside.
"You two stay here," said Harry quickly to the girls, "Ron - let's go to see what's happening outside."
The two boys rushed quickly to the back of the church and turned into the porch leading to the main door. They saw Ceri and Nadine, her face and blouse streaked with blood, peering outside and shouting spells as they aimed their wands to the left of the church. Harry went over and touched Ceri on her arm.
She turned round and looked at them with surprise, "What's the matter, Harry. I thought you were starting on your journey below ground. What's happened?"
"It's a long story, Ceri. We've completed the quest, but we'll tell you all about it later. Right now we need to get out of this mess. Is anyone hurt?" He looked at Nadine's head.
"Nothing serious, Harry. Nadine's got a cut on her head, and Remus has a broken arm. Apart from that, we're not doing too badly."
"Where are the Death Eaters holed up?" asked Harry.
"Some are over to the left of the church, in the churchyard, and some are further to their right, just this side of that line of trees."
Harry cautiously looked outside and saw the lights of the curses flung by the Death Eaters. He quickly pulled his head back inside and thought for a few moments. He then turned to Ceri; "The girls will help you here at the door. Ron and I will get behind them and attack from there. Can you get the word to the others outside?"
"Yes - but be careful you two. Don't take any risks - do you hear me?" She looked intently at the boys, who nodded gravely and turned to go.
"Wait," Ceri called, "How are you going to get behind them?"
"Oh we'll fly," said Ron, "Or at least, Harry will - and I'll hitch a lift."
The two boys rushed back into the church and spoke to the girls, who hurried back to help Ceri and Nadine. Harry and Ron walked over to the church bell tower and looked up into the cavernous heights above.
"Ready?" asked Harry. Ron nodded and then saw the large golden eagle appear before him. Ron climbed onto Harry's back and leaned forward to hold his arms loosely around the eagle's neck.
Harry kicked off and flew up to the top of the bell tower, being careful to avoid the bell ropes, and alighted behind one of the big bells. They peeked around the side of the bell and surveyed the scene before them. They could easily see Remus and Charlie, each crouching behind a large stone close to the entrance to the church. Sirius was a little further off to the right, at the edge of the Calvery. They quickly spotted the Death Eaters from their elevated position, crouched in an arc behind tombstones and trees at the edge of the graveyard.
Ron pointed to the line of trees at the back of the cemetery, "I think that's the best place to land, Harry, behind those trees. But it'll be a good idea if you take a circular route, around to the right and close to the ground, so that we won't be seen."
Harry nodded his head and moved to the right-hand side of the tower, ready to glide down towards the ground. Neither he, nor Ron, saw the tall young girl, about Harry's age - perhaps a little younger, watching them intently from one of the top windows of the Villa Bethania. She raised her hand and brushed her long white hair back from around her lovely face, craning forward to look intently at the eagle. Her beautiful vivid green eyes lit up with a flash of recognition as she stared at Harry piercingly. A far-away look then seemed to come over her, as the eagle and his passenger dropped from the tower towards the ground and then levelled out and skimmed the grass as they moved swiftly to the right.
Harry flew in a wide arc, and approached the line of trees from the back end, the branches and leaves masking their approach from the Death Eaters. Harry landed behind a particularly large tree and transformed after Ron quickly jumped down from his back. They both peered around the side of the tree and saw three of the black-robed figures not thirty yards away, fully exposed to their gaze. The other eight were further over, closer to the church.
"You take the nearest and I'll take the second one. We'll both have a go at the one furthest away," Harry whispered in Ron's ear. Ron nodded and held up three fingers, and counted down to begin their attack.
The boys stepped around the tree and aimed their wands at their targets. 'STUPIFY' they both shouted together. The two Death Eaters dropped like stones, and the third looked up in surprise, just in time to see two beams of light hit him in the chest. He followed his two black-robed friends to the floor, unconscious.
"Potter's behind us," Travis shouted. All the other Death Eaters turned and stared, seeing Harry and Ron run back behind the cover of the large tree. The distraction allowed Ceri and Hermione to rush from the front of the church and join the three men outside, the five forming a far more solid and aggressive line. They added to the Death Eaters' confusion as they sent spell after spell at their positions.
Wormtail started to feel panic, but steeled himself to the fight, "Travis - you take three others and go after Potter and his friend. We'll hold the others off here."
Travis beckoned to the three closest to him and they started crawling along the ground in the direction of the large tree. Harry could see what was happening, and he and Ron fired off spells, trying to slow the Death Eaters' approach.
Deprived of more than half their firepower, Wormtail and the remaining three stood no chance against the seven clustered in and around the church. Soon, two of the Death Eaters lay stunned on the ground, and Sirius and Charlie started to move forward, outflanking Wormtail and the other Death Eater. With Travis and the other three effectively pinned down by Harry and Ron, their position soon became hopeless.
Ron stupefied one of the four, and Sirius placed Wormtail's companion in a full body bind. Wormtail finally gave in to his panic and Apparated back to the cave. When he saw him disappear, Travis quickly followed, leaving the other two to face overwhelming odds, and they were soon over-powered by Sirius and Charlie.
All nine Death Eaters were quickly rounded up and bound securely inside the line of trees, to await the arrival of the French aurors. Sirius knew that such a lot of magical activity would attract their attention, and he didn't have long to wait.
"Nadine - are you all right?" Charlie had rushed over to the church door and held the French girl by the arms as he looked at her with concerned eyes.
"Yes, don't worry Charlie - I'm ok - honestly. It's just a little cut. Ceri stopped the bleeding and I'll soon get it fixed properly."
Ginny just stood watching the two with a smirk on her face.
Harry and Ron joined Hermione as she bent over Remus, who was carefully cradling his arm.
"You need to get that seen to quickly, Professor," said Hermione, "We'll ask Nadine if she knows of a good wizarding nurse close by. You can both go together to get your injuries fixed."
Remus nodded and looked up at Harry, "Did you find the secret, Harry?"
"Yes Professor, we did. But we'll tell you more about that later. But Hermione's right - I'll go and ask Nadine to get you to a nurse."
When three French aurors arrived about five minutes later, Nadine explained what had happened, and they took charge of the prisoners, promising to get in touch with their counterparts in London to come to collect them.
"Any problems, Nadine?" asked Sirius.
"They weren't very happy, Sirius. They asked me to tell you that they should have been told about any possibility of trouble on their patch. And they're not too pleased about the tidying up they'll have to do - altering the memories of the priest and a few of the locals who saw the fight."
"Oh well, c'est la vie - isn't that what you say?"
She laughed at Sirius' terrible French accent, then called to Charlie, "Charlie - will you help me take Remus to get his arm fixed? I know a witch just down the bottom of the hill who's a good nurse - she lives in a little cottage just outside the village of Couiza. It shouldn't take long." She glanced at Ron, whose forehead looked a bit of a mess, the congealed blood bearing witness to the ordeal he had gone through beneath the church, "You'd better come too, Ron. You need to get that cut fixed."
"Uh, Ceri," said Ron tentatively, "Before we go, have you got any food left?"
Ceri laughed, "Yes, Ron. We've got all of it left - we didn't have much time for a lunch break you know."
"Great," shouted Ron, "That means you've still got the pizza!"
"Go and get your head fixed, Ron", said Ceri laughing, "We won't eat anything until you get back, I promise."
Charlie, Remus, Ron and Nadine drove off in the Land Rover, leaving the others to rest until their return.
While they were waiting, Hermione looked over at Harry, standing on his own outside the Calvery, deep in thought. She walked over and gently touched his arm, "Are you ok, Harry? You look a bit worried."
"Worried is not the word for it, Hermi. I'm bloody petrified. I've just been told by none other than Jesus himself, that I've got to find a girl - and not just any girl, mind you, but my Anima Summa - the one I'll probably spend the rest of my life with. I just can't get my head around that, Hermi."
She looked with sympathy at her friend, "It'll take time for you to come to terms with it, Harry. I did - uh, I mean both Ginny and I did when we found out about it. Try not to worry too much."
Harry looked at his friend with confusion, "I'm sorry, Hermi. I've got to get some air. I'll be back in a little while." He transformed and kicked off powerfully from the ground, soaring up into the clear blue sky. The feeling of freedom helped and he felt his problems slipping away as the air raced over his body and wings. Out over the countryside he flew, high above the sun-baked fields and vineyards.
After a while, his keen eyesight spotted the Land Rover as it made its way back up the hillside to the village of Rennes-le-Chateau, and he knew that he should return to join his friends. He landed at the side of the church and transformed. Again he didn't see that he was being watched. The white-haired girl looked at him intently with her vivid green eyes. She'd seen the eagle and she'd seen the boy. Her face took on a look of enchantment and she sighed deeply. As Harry walked around to the front of the church and out of sight of the beautiful young girl in the villa, she stepped down from the window, lay on her bed and closed her lovely eyes. A smile lit up her beautiful face as she dreamt.
Harry walked up to the others just as Hermione was explaining about the time being equalised. "Ah there you are," said Sirius, "We were worried about you."
"Sorry, Sirius. I just had to be by myself for a while. I've got a lot to think about."
"Yes, I know Harry. Hermione told us that you've found out about your Anima Summa. Sorry I couldn't say anything about it before."
"Don't worry, Sirius, I know."
"So what's the secret of Rhedae then?" Ceri asked.
"Uh, sorry Ceri," said Hermione, "We can't tell you. It has to remain a secret. All we can say is that all four of us, and the other Anima Summa when she's been found, have to go on another two quests. We don't know what they are yet, but I'm sure we'll find out when the time's right."
"Can't you tell us any more?"
They all turned to see Nadine, who had just asked the question, with Remus, Ron and Charlie standing behind her.
"Sorry, Nadine. I've just been telling the others. We can't reveal the secret. We've been sworn to secrecy."
"Oh, I'm so disappointed. I've wondered about the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau ever since I can remember."
"Believe me, Nadine," said Ginny, "You wouldn't believe us even if we could tell you. But we can tell you about the dangers we came up against in the labyrinth."
"Hang on a minute," said Ron testily, "First things first. Where's the pizza, Ceri?"
They all laughed and then helped Ron polish off the remainder of the food. The adults looked on incredulously as the teens told them of their journey through the maze of tunnels and caverns, marvelling that they had come through one ordeal after another, and now talked as if it had just been a stroll in the park!
Later, as they drove back to Carcassonne, the four friends were preoccupied, deep in thought. The adults recognised that they had been through a harrowing experience, one that possibly no one else on the planet could expect to go through, and they kept quiet, giving them time to work things out in their own way.
Harry couldn't help thinking about his immediate task. The more he thought about it, the more fearful he became. He would rather face a hoard of monsters in caverns than one single girl - girls - they made him uneasy, unsure of himself. How was he going to cope?
Ron also thought about the task facing his friend - and sympathised, but at the same time grateful that it wasn't himself that was facing it. He was also looking forward to the two quests he would be going on with his friends. The excitement of the labyrinth was still racing through his blood.
Ginny was more reflective. She felt deeply for Hermione - she knew what she would be thinking at that moment. Harry was so close to her and yet so far away. Ginny knew that she couldn't help; she could only give her support.
Hermione's thoughts were varied and opposing in the emotions they elicited. She was full of excitement at what she'd witnessed, and couldn't wait to read the Dead Sea Scrolls. She also relished the puzzles and mysteries that would no doubt need to be solved on the final two quests. She was also full of despair - the boy she loved was sitting next to her, not thinking about her, but of another girl, one he possibly hadn't even met yet. She wondered and worried how she'd be able to cope seeing Harry with his Anima Summa - the girl that he would love above all others.
The Grangers greeted the four as they trooped into the kitchen late that afternoon. Nadine had thoughtfully driven slowly, and in a circuitous route, back to Carcassonne, giving the youngsters time to settle down after their ordeal.
"I didn't expect you home so early," said Millie, "Did you find what you were looking for?"
"Yes, Mum," said Hermione, "I think we've got everything we need now."
"Good," said Arbuthnot, "You can relax for the next two days - just laze about and recharge your batteries for next term - you're going to be busy with your OWLS."
"Don't remind us," groaned Ron.
"Well Ron," said Millie with an amused grin on her face, "are you ready for something to eat yet?"
"Mrs. Granger, I'm always ready for that. Uh - have you got any of that pizza left?"
Later that evening, the four sat outside the tent in the garden, talking quietly.
"I wonder what those last two quests will be," said Ron, "I know we've got to find the other two guardians, but where will they be?"
"Jesus said that they'll be in ancient places," said Ginny, "And we'll have to solve their mysteries. What do you think, Hermi? How many other ancient and mysterious places are there?"
"Oh, there's a lot, Ginny, far too many to try to guess where the two we want will be. And they're all over the world, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and some ancient places haven't even been found yet - some are known only from ancient writings, and others are merely legends."
"But what sort of places are they, Hermi?" asked Harry.
"Well, let's see. There's Egypt, of course - the ancient sites dotted along the Nile are full of mystery. Then there's Sumeria - the present day Iraq. It's even older than Egypt, and just as mysterious. That ancient Mesopotamian civilisation came before the Assyrians and ancient Babylon arose from their ashes. Did you know that some of the oldest stories in the Bible are based on Sumerian legend?"
"Legend?" exclaimed Ginny, "So does that mean they're not true?"
"Not necessarily, Ginny," answered Hermione, "I said they were based on legend, not myth. Myths are mostly fiction - the product of some ancient scholar's fertile imagination, but where legends are concerned, there's always some grain of truth hidden in their depths."
"Well I hope we don't have to go there," said Ron, "I don't think that Saddam Hussein will be too pleased about us poking about in his country. Any other places, Hermi?"
"There's the mysterious civilisations of the Indus Valley, in modern day Pakistan; the ancient places found in South America, like Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, and loads of places in Peru and Mexico. Then, of course, there's El Dorado - the legendary city of gold."
"Gold?" said Ron, his ears pricking up, "where's that, Hermi?"
"Ron, if we knew where it is, it wouldn't be a mystery any more! The Spanish invaders, and countless people ever since, searched for it, but no one's ever found it. It's still out there somewhere - perhaps in the jungles of Brazil, who knows?"
"Oh," said Ron, deflated.
"There are so many other places. It just goes to show how much there is to be discovered out there. It's fascinating." Hermione had a dreamy look as she stared, unseeing, into the darkening sky.
"What about some of the other legends?" asked Ginny.
"Again, too many to recount," Hermione replied, "but the most mysterious of them all, of course, is the legend of Atlantis."
"But that's just myth, Hermi," exclaimed Harry.
"Maybe, Harry, and maybe not. The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, first wrote about it. He wrote about an even more ancient Greek scholar, Solon, who was told about Atlantis by temple priests in Egypt. Most historians today say that Plato invented the story, just to illustrate a philosophical point - the fall from grace of a once powerful state - but a lot of other people think that his story is true."
"And where did he say Atlantis could be found?" asked Ginny.
"He only said that it was 'Beyond the pillars of Hercules.' Now that could be anywhere, but most think he's referring to the straights of Gibraltar - it guards the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. So that would put Atlantis where it's name suggests - in the Atlantic Ocean. But others have argued that it's actually in the Mediterranean, some say it's in the Caribbean, and some have even suggested that it's buried beneath miles of ice under the Antarctic continent."
The four became quiet for a few minutes as they contemplated those ancient and mysterious places that Hermione had spoken about. There were just too many to second guess where they'd have to go on their quests.
Ginny broke the silence, "Harry, have you been able to remember any of the ancient spells Jesus gave you?"
"No, Ginny. I've tried and tried but there's nothing. I'm beginning to wonder if they're there at all!"
"They're there, Harry," Hermione whispered, "Don't forget, he said that you wouldn't be able to access them until you seal the bond with your Anima Summa, and even then only when you need them."
"What did he mean by that, do you think?" asked Ron.
"I think it means that Harry and .. and his Anima Summa will only be able to remember a spell when it's needed. For instance, if they find themselves in danger, something to help them get out of it will be placed from their subconscious into the conscious parts of their minds where they'll be able to use it."
Harry let out a great sigh, "This is all very well, but I've still got this first quest hanging over my head - the Anima Summa. I just don't know where to start."
Hermi reached out and squeezed his hand, "Don't get too despondent, Harry. You'll do it, I know you will - and don't forget you've got the rings to help you."
Harry gazed deeply into Hermione's eyes, and felt a wave of great affection come over him. 'What's that?' he thought to himself, 'Hermi's so .. so...'
He mentally shook himself and squeezed her hand in return, "I know, Hermi. And I know that you'll be there for me, all three of you. I want you to know that when I find my Anima Summa, it won't affect the way I feel about you - all of you."
Hermione was immediately reminded of the earlier thoughts she'd had on the trip back to Carcassonne, and she retrieved her hand slowly as she felt tears start to sting her eyes. Here was the boy she loved, holding her hand and speaking to her about friendship, and all she wanted to do was fling her arms around his neck and kiss him to death.
"I .. I've got to go to the bathroom," she finally whispered and then got up and walked quickly back to the cabin.
"What's wrong with Hermi?" Harry asked.
Ginny, of course, knew what was wrong with Hermione, "I think it's just the reaction of what happened today." She stood up and followed her friend into the gite, hoping that she'd be able to console her.
The next morning, Hermione, Harry and Ron sat at the table in the kitchen finishing their breakfast. Ginny had already finished and had gone into the garden and slipped into the copse of trees at the back. She had a glint of determination in her eye as she waved at everyone, looking around for her brother.
Ginny made a beeline for Charlie, when she spotted him in the tent, and dragged him over to a quiet spot at the edge of the little grove of trees.
"You had a bit of a shock yesterday, Charlie - you know, when you saw the cut on Nadine's head. I've never seen you so worried."
"Well, I thought she might have been badly hurt, Ginny. I felt bad enough about dragging her into all this danger, and it would have been my fault if anything …" he trailed off looking worried at what might have happened.
"Oh, I see. So you feel very protective of her?"
"Well, yes - as I said, if it wasn't for me, she wouldn't have been placed in danger."
"And that's all? You're concern has nothing to do with the way you feel about her?"
"What do you mean, Ginny?"
"Oh, I think, Charlie, that she's spotted what I could see the last few days we were together."
Charlie turned as he heard the voice behind him, "Demont! How on earth did you get here?"
Demont Blanc grinned, "Nadine left a message with one of the French aurors yesterday - Giles is a very good friend of mine. He told me where you were and a good spot where I could Apparate." He paused and looked at the pretty red-haired girl, "And this must be your sister - there's no mistaking that colouring."
Charlie snapped out of his surprise, "Sorry. Demont - this is Ginny, my scheming little sister. Ginny, this is Nadine's scheming big brother, Demont. Come on, I'll introduce you to the others."
As the three walked back to the clearing in the middle of the grove, Ginny leaned over and whispered in Demont's ear, "So you've seen it too?"
"Yes," he whispered back, "I think we need to get our heads together later, don't you think?"
Ginny grinned and nodded, glad that she was going to get some help in her quest to get Nadine and Charlie together.
After the introductions were over, they all sat drinking coffee. Nadine sat next to her brother, her arm looped through his. Sirius told Demont what had happened the previous day and that the quest was now over.
"Yes - it all fits now," said Demont, "just before I came here, I had a report that the creatures seem to be back to normal. Have you been able to detect any emanations lately, Nadine?"
Nadine looked surprised, "Well, in all the excitement, I didn't check. Hang on a minute." She closed her eyes and let her mind reach out, trying to pick up on the vibrations. "No. There's nothing! They've stopped."
"Just as I thought," said Demont, "Well, Charlie. I suppose this means that your job is finished. I suppose you'll be going home now?"
"Oh no, Demont. Not yet," Charlie's panic was obvious to everyone, "I mean, we've still got to monitor the dragons for a while to make sure they're back to normal. And we'll have loads and loads of reports to write for both our ministries."
"Oh, of course. How could I have neglected to think of that?" Demont stole a sly glance at Ginny and they both grinned at each other.
Any further banter was interrupted as Harry, Ron and Hermione walked into the clearing. "That's where you are," Ron said as he looked at his sister, "We've been looking for you for ages."
"Ah - this must be your brother, Charlie. I don't think I've ever seen three red-headed people together in one place before."
Nadine did the introductions, and they all sat down together, waiting for a fresh brew of coffee. Ginny went back on the offensive as she looked at Nadine, "So, Nadine, what are you going to be doing now that the problem with the magical creatures is over?"
Nadine thought for a moment and then looked slyly at her brother, "I suppose I'll have to contribute to the reports that need to be written. After all, I have been closely involved with the work."
Charlie had a huge grin on his face as he responded, "Well of course - you need to document how we traced the path of the vibrations - and for a while, you'll still need to check that they don't recur."
"I must say," Demont suddenly exclaimed looking at Ginny, seemingly changing the subject, "this is a very pleasant spot here. I think I'll have a look around."
"I'll show you around, Demont," said Ginny as she got up and caught hold of his arm, "there's a great view of the city just over here."
As they walked, they conspired unashamedly, "I had a good heart-to-heart with your sister the other night," said Ginny, "She likes Charlie a lot. But she seems a bit reluctant to start anything. She feels that Charlie has got to make the first move - but she doesn't know if he's ready yet."
"And what does Charlie think?"
"Oh he likes Nadine - he likes her a lot. But he feels that she may not want to start anything because of her recent bad experience. It's so frustrating, Demont. I can see how they feel about each other so why can't they?"
"Ah - matters of the heart are so delicate, Ginny. But I'm elated. All they need is time - time to realise what we can both see as plain as the nose on our faces. And I think I can give them the time they need. After all, this report is going to be very complicated and it's going to take ages to get it all done."
Ginny grinned, "What have you got in mind?"
"Well, I'll have to write the bulk of the report, but Charlie and Nadine both need to do a fair bit of field work together to confirm that all is now well. Just leave it to me Ginny."
Ginny hugged Demont, "See you at the wedding, then?"
As they walked back to the clearing, they were greeted by the wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee, Ceri just pouring the eleventh and last mug, "Ah, just in time," she said looking towards Demont and Ginny, "Come on - sit down and taste the delights of my special brew."
"So," said Demont a little later, "What are you all going to do now?"
"We've got today and tomorrow," said Sirius, "then it's back to Hogwarts. What are you kids going to do until then?"
"We'll just laze around today, but Mum and Dad's got a trip to Toulouse planned for tomorrow. It's about sixty miles North-West of here," Hermione answered, "We really should get down to some work before the term starts, maybe we'll do some this afternoon?" she looked at Ron and Harry, who groaned, anticipating an afternoon of bullying by their determined friend.
The adults laughed and then Demont sighed, "Well, Charlie, Nadine - we'd better get a move on. We've got a long drive back to the cabin, and I'm being pressured to get an interim report done for the ministry."
The three said their goodbyes and then walked over to the Land Rover. As they got in, Ginny kissed Nadine on the cheek and whispered, "Don't let him off the hook." The French girl laughed and waved at Ginny as she slowly drove onto the track leading onto the main North-South road.
"I'll miss them," Hermione said as she chatted to Ceri a little later, "they're great fun to be with."
"Yes, I'll miss them too," Ceri replied. Then she looked closely at the girl sitting beside her, seeing and feeling the sadness, "What about you, Hermione - how are you coping with .. things?"
She looked at Ceri, and she felt her eyes begin to water, "I don't know, Ceri. Sometimes I think I've got it sorted. But then I think about the time, which won't be far away now, when I'll have to see Harry with his Anima Summa. I .. I… don't know if I'll be able to cope, Ceri. Oh, why couldn't things have been different?"
Ceri reached out and held Hermione as she sobbed despairingly into her shoulder. She felt really bad for this lovely girl, but knew that there was nothing she could do to help with her pain.
Early on the morning of 9th April, Professor Dumbledore warmly greeted the travellers shortly after they appeared outside the main doors of the castle. He saw the strain etched on all their faces, and knew that the quest had been difficult.
"There's a hearty breakfast waiting for you in the Great Hall," he said, "the rest of the students and teachers won't be arriving till this afternoon, so we'll have the place to ourselves. I'm looking forward to your report."
As they all walked into the school towards the Great Hall, Harry hung back and beckoned to the headmaster. "Professor, we have to see you alone to give you the full report - some of it is for your ears only."
Dumbledore looked quizzically at Harry, "All right, Harry. Come up to my office after breakfast."
A little while later, Dumbledore sat behind the desk in his office looking at the four friends, "Well, you certainly had a very harrowing experience in the labyrinth, and I want you to know how proud I am of all of you. You showed great courage to find the secret of Rhedae - and I suppose that is what this little meeting is about. Only I can be told the nature of that secret, am I right?"
"Yes Professor," said Harry, "He told us that only you were to know what it is."
Hermione cleared her throat, "Yes, Professor. The secret of Rhedae is the spirit of Jesus Christ. He told us that you are a much-beloved servant of the light and you were to be told the secret. He also told us that we are to seek your advice in the times ahead."
"Jesus?" whispered Dumbledore, "You talked to Jesus?"
"Yes sir," answered Hermione, "He told us that he is one of three guardians of ancient wizarding knowledge, and Harry, his Anima Summa, and the three of us are to seek them out. Only then will Harry be able to tackle the Dark Side. He put some of this ancient knowledge in Harry's brain, but he won't be able to access it until he joins with his Anima Summa."
"I see," said Dumbledore, tugging his beard. His eyes had a far-away look. "I had no idea that these repositories of ancient wisdom existed."
Dumbledore shook himself back to the present and looked at Harry, "Yes Harry?"
"Before we can start on these quests, I have to find my Anima Summa. Jesus told us that she was born three months after me. Can you help me find her? I mean, you have all the student records and their dates of birth, haven't you?"
"Yes I do, Harry. But I don't think I can help. Jesus probably told you that no one must help you with this task - it would dilute your powers and could affect the outcome of the struggle against the Dark Side. I can tell you that there are several students at Hogwarts with birthdays on or around 31st October - and don't forget that your Anima Summa was conceived 3 months after you, so she may have been born a little before, on or a little after that date. No Harry - I don't think that looking at the student records is going to help you. The only clear help you have was given to you by Jesus - the rings. The best advice I can give, and I know it's not easy for you, is that you try not to force the issue. Wait for the rings to guide you."
The headmaster smiled at the crest-fallen look on Harry's face and continued, his voice calm and reassuring, "Believe me, Harry, you will find your Anima Summa - don't doubt that. It has been pre-ordained. So just try to relax and let this take it's course."
"I .. I'll try, Professor. But it's like sitting on a time bomb."
"I can imagine what you're going through, Harry," a twinkle came into Dumbledore's eyes and his mouth curved into a wicked smile, "But rest assured, your fuse will be lit - just don't go around with a box of matches in your hand. You may get burned."
Hermione, Ron and Ginny couldn't suppress their laughter at the professor's attempt to lighten Harry's burden - but Harry couldn't laugh.
The students and teachers began arriving back at the school that afternoon, and the school lost its unnatural silence as it was filled with the excited chatter of friends relating what they had done over the holiday.
Kristen arrived a little after the other students, appearing by Portkey outside the main doors. She looked around and spotted Harry and her other three friends walking down by the lake. She quickly walked towards them and called out, "Hey - I'm back. Wait for me."
She reached up and kissed Harry on the lips in greeting. Harry instinctively reached into his cloak pocket and felt the rings - but there was no reaction. Kristen frowned as she saw the disappointed look on Harry's face, "What's the matter, Harry. Aren't you glad to see me?"
"Uh, sorry Kristen - no - I mean, of course I'm glad to see you. How was your holiday?"
"Ok, I guess," she replied. She looked at Harry with narrowed eyes. She knew there was something wrong with their relationship - it wasn't as it had been when they first started going out together. She looked at Hermione wondering if it was she that Harry really liked.
Her thoughts were pushed to the back of her mind as Ginny looped her arm through hers and pulled her along by the side of the lake, "We had a great time in France, Kristen - let me tell you what Ron did in Carcassonne."
As the other three followed behind, Hermione punched Harry's arm, "Is that any way to greet your girlfriend, Harry? She must be feeling awful!"
Harry had a pained look on his face as he whispered his reply, "I'm sorry, Hermi - I held the rings but I couldn't get a reaction - nothing"
"Harry, you know that the rings will only react when they feel you are ready to meet your Anima Summa. It doesn't mean that Kristen is or isn't the one - you've just got to be patient."
"Come on, Harry," said Ron, "you know Hermi's right. If you're not careful you're going to lose Kristen."
Early the following morning, just as the dawn was breaking, Harry woke from a restless sleep. He had found it difficult to get to sleep last night - he just couldn't get the thoughts of finding his Anima Summa out of his head. He knew that the advice given by Dumbledore and his friends was right, but he just couldn't feel relaxed about it at all - after all, it was his whole future that was in the balance.
He tried to get back to sleep, but his thoughts, together with the loud snores of Neville, defeated his best efforts. He sighed in resignation, got out of bed, and started to dress. Suddenly, his head jerked up, and he stared at the window. He didn't know what had caught his attention, but he had an irresistible urge to look out of the window.
He got up and walked to the window. He looked down at the grounds, which were now bathed in that special quality early-dawn diffused light, searching for something. He didn't know what he was looking for, only that there was something there that was tugging at the far reaches of his mind.
He caught a slight movement by the side of a tree at the edge of the lake and he stared intently. Then he saw her, as she stepped in front of the tree and looked up at his window.
She was a beautiful young girl, about his own age. She had long white hair, and as the sun peeked out from behind a cloud low down on the horizon and shone on her, he could see that she had the most striking vivid green eyes. Their eyes locked together and Harry could see a look of recognition in her face. She raised her arm and slowly waved a greeting, smiling. Harry didn't know, of course, that it was the same girl that had watched him from her bedroom window in Rennes-le-Chateau.
Harry quickly waved back and rushed over to his bed to put on his cloak. He sprinted down to the common room, taking three steps at a time down the spiral staircase, and dashed out through the portrait hole. His breathing was heavy as he opened the main doors of the school and ran quickly down to the lake.
As he approached the tree, he could see no sign of the girl. He turned and looked all around the grounds, but there was no sign of her. He slapped the side of his leg in frustration, still turning and looking in all directions. It was as if she had never been there.
"Who was that?" he asked himself aloud, "I feel as if I should know her - but I don't think I've ever seen her before. Could she be …?" Harry pushed his hand into his cloak pocket and held the rings - which were as inert as they always were.
Again he slapped his leg in frustration and slowly walked back up to the school.
The horrible sound tailed off to an agonised gurgle as Lord Voldemort lifted his wand, ending the Cruciatus curse. He looked at the pathetic bundle lying in front of him with disdain and pushed him over with his foot so that he could look into his victim's face.
"I told you what would happen if you failed, Wormtail. Feel the wrath of your master." Again, Voldemort pointed his wand at Wormtail and yelled "CRUCIO."
Wormtail convulsed and let out a shriek of agony as the fire coursed through his nervous system. A full minute passed before the Dark Lord lifted the curse.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you now. Prepare to die."
Wormtail's eyes bulged as he saw Voldemort once again point his wand at him. He lifted his arm as if to ward off the killing curse that he knew would soon strike him, and thought desperately, trying to think of a way to save his life.
"No, wait master, please wait. I can still find out what you want to know."
Voldemort scowled, still keeping his wand trained on the slobbering Wormtail, but didn't let loose the curse that would end his miserable existence. "Well, Wormtail. I won't wait for much longer. Tell me, quickly."
"Remus Lupin - he was with Potter's protectors in France. So he must know what it is they were looking for, and he'll probably know about what this Anima Summa thing is."
"So? He'll be at Hogwarts protected by Dumbledore, so he's out of our reach. Tell me something useful Wormtail, or you die now."
"No master, please. Wait. I know how to get hold of Lupin." Wormtail cowered before Voldemort, his arm still raised to ward off the unstoppable curse.
"Don't try my patience, Wormtail. Tell me what you know now."
"Lupin is a werewolf - and I know where he hides out when he transforms - it's away from Hogwarts. The full moon is tomorrow night, and if you let me take five Death Eaters with me, I can capture him and bring him to you."
Voldemort thought for a moment, and then, "All right, Wormtail. This is your last chance. Bring him to me tomorrow night at the Callanish stone circle. And Wormtail - if you fail me this time, I won't give you a chance to talk your way out of your death. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
"Yes, my Lord. I won't fail you this time."
"Take Travis with you, and tell him that the same fate awaits him if you fail."
Remus Lupin arrived at the shrieking shack early the following evening, before the last light of day left the sky. He wanted to make sure that he wouldn't be caught outside when the first rays of the full moon fell. He was content that he would be able to come through his ordeal without too much trouble, with the help of Snape's serum and the comfort of Padfoot's presence.
He looked at his watch and thought, 'Hmm, Sirius should be here in about half an hour. I'd better make sure that all the doors and windows are bolted shut.'
He went to the main entrance and pulled the heavy steel bolt firmly across. Then he walked towards the next room. As he walked through the door, he felt that he was not alone. He sensed, more than saw, the Death Eaters hiding in the shadows. He turned to run back out of the room but was jumped on by three of the Death Eaters, who quickly threw him to the floor and held him. He looked up and saw Wormtail and two others walk over towards him, smiling.
"Ah, nice of you to turn up, Moony," said Wormtail, "We've come to take you to a little meeting."
Although restrained by the three big Death Eaters, Remus managed to trace with his extended finger, unnoticed by his captors, a few letters in the dust by the side of the door. He wrote 'WORMT" before he was hit by a stupefy curse. He knew nothing more until he regained consciousness at the stone circle of Callanish. He was thrown into a shallow hole at the side of the megaliths, and covered with a heavy fallen capstone. There in that confined space he would be forced to stay until his ordeal as a werewolf ended and he was ready to be interrogated.
"Moony … Moony?"
Sirius had arrived at the shrieking shack and was puzzled that Remus was not in the room they normally stayed in. He walked from room to room, trying to find his friend. By this time it was starting to get dark, and he needed his raised illuminated wand to find his way about.
As he entered the room to the side of the main entrance hallway, he could see that there was something amiss. Several chairs were overturned and there were signs of a struggle where the dust had been disturbed. "Oh lord .." he said to himself as he looked about the room for any clues of what had happened.
Shaking his head, he turned and walked back to the door, when he spotted the letters scribbled in the dust to the side. "W. O. R. M. T." he spelled out.
"Wormtail!" he breathed with anger. He quickly retraced his steps to the tunnel entrance that would take him back to Hogwarts.
"Yes, I know it looks as if he was captured by Wormtail, but where would he have been taken?" said Ceri.
Ceri, Sirius, McGonagall, Snape and Dumbledore sat around the headmaster's desk in his office.
"It could be anywhere," said Snape, "'You Know Who's secret cave, any one of a number of sites they use to hold their secret meetings, or anywhere in between."
"I know, but we've got to do something," said Sirius. "Wormtail will take him straight to 'You Know Who' and there won't be much left after he's finished with him"
"Why do you think they went after Remus?" asked McGonagall.
"Oh that's pretty obvious, Minerva," said Dumbledore, "Wormtail saw him in France with the others so he's quite aware that Remus knows everything about what's been going on with Harry. Voldemort is after information - and I fear that he'll get it. Oh, Remus won't give it to him voluntarily, even under torture, but he won't be able to resist Veritaserum."
"Then we've got to rescue him before he can be made to talk," said Sirius.
"We can only do our best, Sirius," said Dumbledore, "I think the best plan is to Apparate to the sites where they hold their meetings and look at each of those. Severus, have you any idea where Voldemort's cave is?"
"No, Headmaster. Only the chosen few have ever been there, and I'm not one of those any longer."
"So we'll just have to hope that he isn't taken there," said Ceri.
"Sirius, Severus," said Dumbledore, "You two make up a list of the known sites where he may be held. We'll be able to cover more ground if we split into three teams of two - Sirius and Ceri, Severus and Flitwick, Minerva and myself. I'll go to brief Professor Flitwick while you make up the list, then we can get started - there's no time to lose if we're to get Remus back in one piece. Oh, and make sure that Harry and his friends don't find out about this - you know what they're like and I don't want to have to go looking for them as well as Remus."
About half an hour later, they all met up again in the headmaster's office, this time joined by Professor Flitwick.
"Right, let's see that list," said Dumbledore.
McGonagall let out a gasp as she saw the list, "There's over forty places here, ranging from the Scottish islands to the Channel isles. It'll take ages to check them all, even if we split them three ways."
"It's the only chance we've got, Minerva," said Dumbledore, "Sirius, you and Ceri take the ones that that you've been to recently - you know their lay-out better than us. We'll use the shrieking shack as a base - we'll meet back there after each site has been checked; we don't want to go charging all around the country if one of us finds him quickly."
"Come on then, let's get going," said Sirius, "It'll be dawn in an hour, and they'll start to question Remus as soon as he changes back from his werewolf form."
The sun cast an eerie glow over the sinister standing stone circle at Callanish. At the centre of the circle, a wooden wrack had been erected, with ties at each corner, and around it stood Wormtail, Travis and the four Death Eaters who had captured Remus. All six of them dropped to one knee as the Dark Lord Apparated in front of them.
"So, you've managed to do something right at last, Wormtail. Fetch him out and tie him to the wrack - let's see if he'll talk."
Four of the Death Eaters lifted the capstone from Remus' makeshift dungeon and dragged him to the centre of the circle where he was roughly tied into the wooden frame. They then stood back to allow Voldemort to approach him.
"So, you are Remus Lupin - one of Potter's protectors?" hissed Voldemort.
Remus looked at the deadly form in front of him and suppressed a shudder. He breathed deeply and whispered, "Go to hell, Voldemort. You won't get anything out of me."
"Oh won't I? Brave words, Lupin, but a bit misguided I fear. You don't know the agony I can inflict on you. So why don't you answer my questions and save yourself a lot of pain. Now, what did you find in Rennes-le-Chateau?"
"Nothing. We didn't find anything - it was a wild-goose chase."
"What is the Anima Summa?"
Remus' eyes opened a bit wider in surprise, but quickly covered it up, "The what? I've never heard of it."
Voldemort's jaw set in anger as he lifted his wand and pointed it at Remus. "CRUCIO," he roared.
Remus stretched taut as the curse hit him, sending rivers of agony through his body. After twenty seconds, Voldemort lifted the curse, allowing Remus to sag back onto the torture wrack.
"That's just a mild sample of what I can dish out, Lupin. And I can keep this up as long as I like, always making sure that death wont release you from your suffering. Now let's start again. What did you find in France?"
Remus gritted his teeth and whispered, "One or two pretty French ladies, but not much else."
And Remus' agony continued as the sun made its way towards its zenith.
Back at the shrieking shack, Sirius and Ceri walked in to join the other four who were waiting for them.
"Anything?" asked Dumbledore.
"Nothing," said Ceri. That's the fifth site we've been to and no sign of activity."
"All right," said Dumbledore, "lets go to the next ones on our list. See you all back here in about half an hour"
"Lupin, why don't you be reasonable. Why submit yourself to this torture? All you have to do is answer two simple questions, then you can go."
"Don't make me laugh, Voldemort," said Remus through tight lips. His body was covered with sweat and his face was haggard. "If I tell you what you want to know, you'll kill me five seconds later. So go to hell."
Voldemort let out an impatient snort and walked over to Wormtail. "Have you contacted Lucius?" he whispered.
"Yes, my Lord. He should be here with the Veritaserum in a few minutes."
"Good. In the mean time, go and tell Travis and the others to break a few of his bones. Perhaps that will loosen his tongue."
Prompted by Wormtail, Travis and the largest of the other Death Eaters stepped up each side of Remus and took hold of each of his hands. They looked towards Voldemort, waiting for a signal.
"Lupin. Once more - are you going to answer my questions?"
Voldemort nodded, and the two Death Eaters caught hold of Remus' middle fingers and bent them back at an impossible angle, until a distinct snapping noise could be heard. Remus screamed in agony and blood dribbled down his chin as his teeth inadvertently bit into his tongue.
"Will you answer my questions?"
"No. Never," groaned Remus.
Two more fingers were broken and Remus sagged, unconscious, onto the torture wrack.
A few moments later, a black-hooded Lucius Malfoy Apparated into the stone circle, holding a vial of brownish liquid in his right hand.
"Ah, Lucius - you've brought the Veritaserum. Good. Travis - revive him."
At that moment, Sirius and Ceri Apparated to a spot several hundred yards from the stone circle. They immediately saw the activity and quickly ducked behind a large monolith.
Travis splashed cold water on Remus' face to bring him back to a spluttering, barely conscious state. Malfoy walked over to the wrack and gestured for Travis to hold Remus' head and force open his mouth, which he did with little resistance. Malfoy held the vial above the open mouth and let a few drops fall onto Remus' tongue.
"Right, my lord, just wait a few minutes for the Veritaserum to take effect."
"Thank you, Lucius," said Voldemort as he stood impatiently in front of Remus.
Sirius had an agonised expression on his face as he whispered, "What are those devils doing to Remus?"
"Keep calm, Sirius," said Ceri, "we're badly outnumbered, and 'You Know Who' is here as well. If we go charging in now, we wouldn't stand a chance, and we'd be no help to Remus."
"Yes, I know you're right, Ceri. But I don't think we'll have time to go back to the shrieking shack and wait for the others. We've got to do something now, or Remus is finished."
"All right. Let's try to get closer. I saw that Death Eater put something into Remus' mouth. I think they've given him Veritaserum to make him talk."
They transformed into their Animagus forms and slowly and stealthily crept to the spot where they'd remained hidden the last time they'd visited the site, where they had a clear view and could hear what was being said.
"Right, Lupin," said Voldemort, "let's see if your tongue is any looser now, shall we?"
Voldemort roughly caught hold of Remus' hair and jerked his head back so that he was looking directly into his eyes. "What did Potter and his friends find in Rennes-le-Chateau?"
From the look on his face, Sirius and Ceri could see that Remus was trying to fight the serum, but inevitably had to give in. His voice had a dull quality as he told Voldemort what he wanted to hear.
"They went through a labyrinth underneath the church and found a secret chamber. They were told that this was one of three quests to find the ancient knowledge which will help to defeat the Dark Side."
"And did Potter find any knowledge there?"
"Yes. It's in his subconscious, but he can't access it yet."
"When will he be able to access it?"
"When he joins with his Anima Summa"
"Ah - the Anima Summa. Who or what is it?"
"Harry is the Anima Summa - a servant of the Light ordained to fight the Dark side."
"If Potter is the Anima Summa, there must be another one as well if he has to join with it - am I right?"
"Yes - there is a girl who is his Anima Summa."
"Who is she?"
"I don't know. No-one knows yet, not even Harry. He hasn't found her yet."
"Is she one of the girls at Hogwarts?"
"I don't know."
Voldemort released his grip on Remus and turned back to his followers, "We wont get any more out of him - he's told me what I wanted to know. I must return to my cave to think about what I've heard and to determine our next actions. One thing I do know - Potter has to be stopped before our greater plans for world domination can proceed."
He turned to Lucius Malfoy, "Contact the inner circle - I want you at my cave in two days time to discuss the plans I will have ready by then. And tell our friend at the school to keep a close eye on Potter. I want to know everything he does and which girls he gets friendly with. Wormtail, leave two of my servants here to tidy up this mess and then follow me back to the cave."
With that Voldemort disappeared, shortly followed by Malfoy.
Wormtail gestured to two of the Death Eaters, "You two stay here. You know what to do. Make sure that no sign remains of what went on. Travis and you others, come on - let's get back to the cave."
After their partners in crime had disappeared, the two Death Eaters faced each other.
"Are you going to kill him or do you want me to do it?" said one nonchalantly.
"I'll do it," said the other leering at Remus who was now struggling futilely with his restraints, "Watch and learn."
He lifted his wand and pointed it at Remus' head.
"AVADA K.." that was as far as he got with the killing curse before a heavy weight struck his back and sent him sprawling onto the ground.
"What the .." he shouted as he turned over to see the full set of Padfoot's fangs slobbering just an inch from his throat. His eyes widened and he froze with fear, unable to move a muscle.
The other Death Eater had only moments to witness the action before he fell to the ground unconscious, stupefied by Ceri. She walked over and took the other Death Eater's wand from his trembling hand before Padfoot transformed and rushed over to the torture frame. She then put him in a full body bind.
"Remus," he said with compassion in his voice, "are you all right? What have they done to you?" He looked at Remus' hands and felt a wrench in his stomach as he saw four of his fingers bent back at impossible angles.
"Sirius! Thank god. I thought I was done for. How did you find me?"
"Later, Remus. Let's get you down from that thing"
As Sirius untied his friend and gently helped him to sit on the ground, Remus let out an agonised sob, "Sirius, Ceri - I told them about Harry and his Anima Summa. I told 'You Know Who' everything."
"Don't blame yourself, Remus," whispered Ceri, "We saw them give you Veritaserum. There was nothing you could have done."
"Come on," said Sirius, "we'll take you back to the shrieking shack with these two plonkers. The others will be waiting for us and we can get you to Madam Pomfrey to sort out those hands."
As they prepared to Apparate, Sirius turned to the torture wrack and lifted his wand.
"EFFLIGO" he roared, and a bright red light shot from his wand and hit the wooden frame. It shimmered and then disappeared, leaving only a few wisps of white ash that drifted slowly to the ground.
"At least they won't be able to use that anymore," he said bitterly. Then they Apparated back to the shrieking shack, taking the Death Eaters with them.
"How is poor Remus now?" asked McGonagall.
"Madam Pomfrey wants to keep him in the hospital for a day or two," said Sirius, "She's sorted out his hands, but it seems that he took quite a lot of the Cruciatus curse from 'You Know Who' as well."
They were sitting around Dumbledore's desk and Sirius and Ceri had just finished giving their report on the events at Callanish.
"So now 'You Know Who' knows everything," said Snape gloomily.
"Don't blame Remus," said Dumbledore, "You, above all others Severus, know the power of Veritaserum. And in any case, I suppose it was inevitable that he'd find out. He knew that something was going on, and Voldemort would leave no stone unturned until he unearthed the truth."
"Yes, I suppose your right, Headmaster," said McGonagall, "but now that he knows, he'll try anything he can to prevent Harry getting his full Anima Summa powers. Those poor kids are in even more danger now."
"I'm afraid your right, Minerva," said Dumbledore, "We'll just have to be doubly vigilant and keep a very close eye on them. I'll see Harry and the other three after this meeting and tell them what's happened. I don't think there's anything to be gained in keeping them in the dark about it. And it may just serve to stop them going on any of their clandestine excursions beyond the school grounds."
"What do you think 'You Know Who' will do, Headmaster?" asked Sirius.
"There are a number of things he may try, but I don't think he'll attempt a mass attack on the school - he'd be foolish to try that. But just in case, we'd better check and strengthen the school defences."
"Don't forget the spy that's in Hogwarts," said Ceri, "He or she may try to kill Harry - it would be a simple matter to slip poison in his food or drink."
"I don't think so, Ceri," said Dumbledore, "I think that Voldemort will want to capture Harry alive."
"How can you be so sure about that, Headmaster?" asked McGonagall.
"When he killed Harry's parents, and then tried to kill Harry, Voldemort inadvertently transferred some of his powers to Harry - how else would Harry be a Parselmouth? Voldemort will want to get those powers back, and not only those powers. Don't forget, he now knows that there is ancient knowledge and spells buried in Harry's subconscious. He'll certainly want to take those for himself. There are certain spells and procedures available to Dark Arts practitioners that may just achieve that transfer of knowledge and power."
"Perhaps he'll try to lure Harry outside the protection of Hogwarts - like he did when he captured Harry's Muggle friend, Lara," said McGonagall.
"That's a possibility, Minerva," replied Dumbledore, "We are just going to have to keep a close watch on Harry and all his friends - a very tight watch."
Dumbledore looked at the others and tried to lighten the grim mood that had settled on them, "There is one good thing that's come out of this, of course. Voldemort has had to put his plans on hold, so we can concentrate our efforts on protecting Harry and the others - that's our full-time job now, especially Sirius, Ceri and Remus when he's fit again. I only hope that Harry finds his Anima Summa sooner rather than later - at least then they'll have the powers from the first quest at their disposal."
"What do you think those powers will be, Professor?" asked Ceri.
"I don't know, Ceri. They haven't been used since Merlin's time, and that's a long time ago. I can't even guess what they'll be. But neither can Voldemort - he may just be in for the biggest surprise of his evil life."
Author's Notes (2) : Don't forget to review - I really do need to know what you think about this fic, even if it's only a one-worder (from rubbish to brilliant and all points in between). Grateful thanks to those who have reviewed so far - it's appreciated, especially informed criticism - it's the best way for a writer to improve.
Here's a link to my photo album with 4 images that are relevant to this chapter - Feel free to have a look at them, and in return please tell me what you think about this fic. The images show :
Carcassonne - from the copse
Graveyard - part of, where the fight took place
Cut and paste into your browser, than type http:// in front of it.
Watch out for Chapter 11 - The Anima Summa. Coming soon. - It's the one you've been waiting for! Harry meets his Anima Summa!