All Btvs and HP characters belong to their respective owners and as always I'm not making any profit from this fic.A/N:
I wasn't going to get this chapter out for another couple of days, but it's all done now and I'm eager to get this story finished since we're so close to the ending, so here it is. Thank you to everyone for reviewing the last chapter, I'm so glad you all seemed to like it and that you don't all hate me, yet anyway ;).
Chapter 38: The Prophecy
The clouds were grey and jagged, the sky dark as the rain fell down in torrents around them. It seemed to Buffy that the skies themselves were angry, as if they waned nothing more than to wash away everything that had happened.
All of them were very much aware that they could have stepped inside, into the warm, dry castle that stood just a while away from them. But no one moved.
Instead they stared upwards at the view of the castle, the same view that Sirius had always loved during his time at Hogwarts.
Harry was standing at the front of the group, surrounded by his friends who were silently holding each other, their arms twisted around each others shoulders.
Remus and Tonks were standing together, the younger witch with her head buried in his jacket, unable to even look up at the scenery around them.
Alastor stood off to the side, gazing upwards, deep in thought. Kingsley stood with Dumbledore, his eyes closed in silent prayer.
And the Weasley family, with the exception of Ron who was standing alongside Harry, were huddled together in the middle of the group, some of them crying, some of the staring upwards in thought.
They'd all been standing there for a while, not caring they were getting wet as the rain fell harder around them. And then, once they had all said their silent goodbyes, they began to move away, back to the castle where they could dry off and try to forget everything that had happened. Try to get back to some semblance of a normal life.
Buffy stood alone, watching them as they left, her own legs unwilling to move from their place. She was hidden under a canopy of tree leaves, choosing to keep her distance from the group who had wanted to share a special time and place to mourn their lost friend.
It had been days since Sirius had left them. How many days, she couldn't tell. Sunrises and sunsets had seemed to blend in together until she had lost all concept of time. She hated this. She hated feeling... empty.
Someone stepped up beside her, keeping their distance but being close enough to offer silent comfort. She automatically knew that it would be Severus, everyone else had already been within the group.
She didn't really want to talk to him, she didn't want to talk to anyone right now. She wanted to go home, to his
home, and crash onto her bed, to cry into her pillow until everything went away...
“You shouldn't shut everyone out.” Severus told her quietly, looking up at the dark skies overhead instead of at her.
She shrugged, her voice coming out raspy and dry. “You'd know a lot about that, wouldn't you?”
He didn't seem offended by her harsh answer, simply turning to face her. “It's not like you to completely shut down, even after everything that's happened in the past...”
He was trying to suggest something she was sure, but she had no idea what and she lacked the enthusiasm to ask. She really didn't care anymore. She ignored him as he continued to stare at her blank, emotionless face.
“You shouldn't let this affect you so much.”
Something in her snapped, and she spun to face him, barely resisting the urge to grab him by the collar and slam him into the nearest tree trunk. “No? Then how the hell am I supposed to deal with this?” She yelled, not caring that she was shouting out into the open.
No one else would hear her over the rain anyway.
“How am I supposed to carry on as if nothing has happened? Tell me!” She gave him a rough shove and watched as he stumbled backwards a few steps.
“I'm not saying you have to, Buffy. Just don't do this to yourself. Sirius wouldn't have wanted to see you like this.”
“What the hell would you know about him? You hated each other and you probably don't even care that he's gone!” She shook her head as she felt tears begin to fall, saw her vision become blurred and fuzzy at the edges.
Severus turned his face away from her again, staring out into the open. “You're wrong. I do care.” His voice was quiet, barely audible, but she still heard him.
He turned back to her, his usually blank face looking saddened. “I do care because I know this is hurting you. But you have to move on. Sirius is de-”
“Don't!” She cried out, giving him her best glare. But the look seemed broken somehow, as if the fire had left her eyes. “Just don't. I don't believe it, I can't believe it.”
Severus shook his head at her stubbornness, “He's gone, Buffy. He's not coming back.”
“Yes, that's what everyone keeps telling me but he fell through the archway and it-”
“The archway is a mystery. Even the Ministry themselves have no idea what it is, that's why it was locked up.” He told her instantly. “Besides, if he had survived he would have come straight back through, and he didn't. You saw that yourself. Just trust us, Buffy. He's gone, and it's time you realised it.”
With a sniff she let her head drop down, her arms folding around herself. “I don't want to realise... Because... then this would all be my fault. It would be because of me that he... that he died.”
“You were not to blame for what happened.” Severus said in reply, starting to sound annoyed with her. He looked back at her, surprise in his eyes as he watched the Slayer slowly lower her body to the ground, sitting on the damp grass and holding her knees to her chest. In that moment she looked more vulnerable than he had ever seen her, even as a child.
“How am I supposed to deal with this? How am I supposed to move on?” She repeated her question from earlier, although this time without the fierce tone. This time she sounded defeated.
He watched as she cried against her legs, seeing the real pain that she held inside, and a sudden realisation came to him. Whether she knew it or not, she had cared about Sirius more than any of them had ever known.
He faltered slightly, before he sighed. “You loved him, didn't you?”
Her eyes snapped up to his, red and puffy from her tears. Her expression told him she was surprised, although he wasn't sure if it was because of what he had said or because it had been him who said it.
He watched her in silence as the rain continued to thunder down around them, and he saw the exact moment when realisation dawned on her.
She had tried, tried to forget it all and pretend as if she wasn't falling to pieces on the inside. For the sake of the others, she'd told herself.
But once the school year had ended and she was back home it suddenly became a lot harder. Every room in the house, every object, every canvas on the walls, reminded her of him
. So often she stayed in her own room, the only place that she could truly forget because there was nothing there to remind her. Inside her own room she could retreat back inside herself, to that place deep down where nothing mattered anymore.
She'd quickly noticed how the others looked at her in concern every time they passed in the hallways. Every time they saw her, which wasn't very much considering the time she spent locked away in her room, they would ask if she was all right, if she wanted to talk.
To put their minds at ease she slowly began to get back into a pattern of doing things. She started going on patrol again, if only to beat on some unsuspecting vampires, and began helping out around the house now that they were short one pair of hands.
She'd joint the Order in all their meetings, sat in on all their brainstorming and idea gathering sessions even though she'd never spoken, never participated in the discussions. She'd even pasted on a fake smile when they'd read the latest copy of the Daily Prophet and learnt that the Ministry had a new leader, that they were finally accepting the truth.
And despite it all, no matter how hard she tried she couldn't stop the emptiness inside. It was like a black hole, and it just continued to eat away at everything inside her.
When the others from the Order left and she was finally alone again she felt her body slump forwards against the table. Just sitting in the kitchen brought back so many memories that her head felt like it would explode, her eyes suddenly feeling wet from tears.
Her talk with Severus had opened her mind. She really had loved Sirius, but she'd realised it too late and now he was gone. It didn't seem fair somehow to have finally found someone, someone she'd had a real connection to, only to loose them. And the worst part was knowing she'd never be able to tell him any of it.
A sudden hand on her shoulder made her jump, her body spinning around to see Harry standing just beside her chair. She hadn't even realised that he'd still been in the room.
“It'll be okay, we'll get through this, right?” He asked, and she saw a look pass across his face, the same look that she saw in the mirror every morning. He was hurting just as much as she was.
In that moment she knew she had to get her act together. She had to be strong for Harry, for the students that she taught. She had to stand up and carry on fighting instead of sitting there feeling sorry for herself, instead of mourning for someone that she knew would not want her to loose herself like this.
In that moment she made a promise to herself: to keep going, to push down her grief and stand up again, ready to fight. Voldemort was still out there after all, he wasn't wallowing in grief, no he was planning, plotting his revenge no doubt.
She stared up into Harry's deep green eyes, her mind suddenly feeling a lot better, as if the mist inside had faded away, leaving only determination and the will to fight. “Yeah, together.”
He nodded in reply as he pulled out a chair and took a seat beside her. Remus and Tonks re-entered the room after saying goodbye to the rest of the Order, and the pair sat down opposite them.
Remus sent his sister a concerned glance, she knew he had been worried about her. “Are you oka-”
“I'm fine.” She replied quickly. And for the first time in what felt like months, she had meant it. She gave him a smile, a real smile this time.
He nodded back, apparently happy with her reply, although she knew he would still keep a close eye on her.
“So, what do we do now?”
They all looked at her, mixed expressions on their faces. None of them really had any idea what to say.
“I have something I need to tell you all. I wanted to wait until everyone had left before I mentioned it...” Harry said quietly, wringing his hands nervously.
“What is it?” Buffy asked, hoping that the look she sent him was somewhat encouraging.
“I found something...” Harry replied.
Tonks was smiling at him, “Found what? Where?”
He replied by digging down into his pocket and pulling out a blue, glowing sphere. He dropped it on the table a little too hard, since he was using his sleeves to hold it. “Inside the ministry.”
Remus reached out to grab it but Harry quickly stopped him, “It's Buffy's. No one else can hold it without hurting themselves.”
“This is one of those prophecy thingies that Voldemort wanted?” Buffy asked as she picked up the orb and rotated it in her hands. Sure enough it had her name written on it.
“Yes, although he didn't seem to want that one. Or maybe he just didn't know about it.” Harry replied with a shrug. “I don't know how to open it, but when mine broke I heard part of the prophecy...”
She startled them all out of their seats by smashing her fist, with the orb, into the surface of the table. The glass shattered under her palm, breaking into tiny fragments.
Almost instantly a single and ghostly voice rose up around them, speaking the familiar words that made Buffy cringe.“Into each generation one is born. She alone is chosen to fight against the odds, to slay the demons and vampires and protect the world from the spread of darkness... But the blood of the chosen will unleash hell on earth, the dark Master shall rise and the Slayer will die...”
Buffy looked to her family, all of whom were staring at her in shock and alarm. And it was then she realised, as she looked at Harry, that he'd never known about her being the Slayer before now.
“What? You're the Slayer?” He said, his eyes open wide in surprise.
“All this time you've been... But why didn't you tell me?” His eyes suddenly became saddened, and she just knew what he was thinking.
She eagerly shook her head, “No, Harry, it wasn't that I didn't trust you. It's just dangerous... I couldn't risk you getting hurt because you knew about this.”
He nodded slowly, “It's okay... I just wish I had known. I suppose you're right though.” His eyes dropped to the table and Buffy sighed. She'd been too occupied with her own grief to take any notice of Harry during the past weeks and it was obvious that he had been through just as much during that time.
It had been the way he'd said it that made her think that maybe he just didn't trust his own judgement anymore. She would have to fix that.
She was about to comment but his eyes flew back up to meet hers. “Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. Wait, is that why you had to leave this world? You never did answer that question.”
She sent him a small smile, “Yeah, it was. I had a job to do there.”
“To slay vampires?” He grinned, looking at her as if she was his new hero. “I want details!”
She couldn't help but smile at his obvious amazement, “Later.”
Remus and Tonks were staring at them, both looking stiff and alarmed. “The prophecy, Buffy. Does it mean anything to you?”
“Whoa, don't look at me like that. It doesn't mean anything, it already happened so don't freak out on me now.”
Tonks frowned at her, clearly disbelieving her words. “It already happened? How is that possible?”
Buffy sighed, waving her hands around. “Well, when I was in Sunnydale I fought against this mean old vamp called the Master and he killed me.” Seeing the bug eyed look on Harry's face she elaborated, “Only for a minute of course, and then I was resuscitated.”
Tonks shook her head, “No, I don't mean that. If the prophecy had already been fulfilled then the light would have gone out, there wouldn't have been a prophecy inside the ball.”
“So it hasn't been fulfilled then?” Remus asked, looking to his sister with fear in his eyes. His mind obviously repeating the part where she was supposed to die.
Buffy stood and paced, shaking her head all the while. “No, this isn't right. This prophecy already happened, I know it did, I was there.”
When Tonks looked as though she was about to argue back Buffy interrupted her. “Okay, so say the prophecy hasn't been fulfilled after all, that would mean the Master has to be in this world at this time, which he can't be because I already killed him!”
Remus sighed in frustration, “Voldemort is powerful, Buffy. Is there anyway he could have brought this Master into this world? Brought him back?”
She shrugged helplessly, “I suppose so, but not without going to the other world and finding the Master's remains, which would be pretty hard considering I ground them to dust with a sledgehammer.”
She ignored how Harry's eyebrows rose at that, “Wow, you sure have lived an interesting life.”
“Don't even start on that.” she grumbled as she took a seat again. “Great. This is just great.”
Harry sat up straighter then, “Is it possible that the prophecy is referring to someone else?”
When no one answered he continued on, letting his thought train run for as long as it could. “You said yourself, Buffy, the Master that you fought is dead, and even if he could be brought back it would take a lot of effort to find his remains and get them back here into this world in the first place. But you're all forgetting there is another 'Master' already in this world...”
Buffy let her jaw fall open in surprise. “Is that possible? That there could be two prophecies so similar and yet completely different...”
“We're talking about two different worlds here, Buffy. I think just about anything is possible right now.” Tonks replied with a small shrug.
Remus sat up straighter suddenly, as if he had just remembered something. “When Voldemort captured you, you said that he kept you alive for a reason. That he needed something from you...”“Our guest is not to be harmed, Bellatrix.”“I don't see why though, we don't need help from half bloods like you.” 'The blood of the chosen will unleash hell on earth, the dark Master shall rise and the Slayer will die...'
“My blood.” She sighed, slumping back into her chair. “Why is it always about the blood?”
The room was silent as the lone death eater worked over his patient. He had been slaving away at her bedside for hours and still there was no change. Her body had been healed, her bruises and cuts faded long ago, but Bellatrix would not wake and nothing, not potions, not spells, would cure whatever it was that held her in her deep slumber.
The death eater's hands were shaking in fear as he tried his last potion, gently tipping the liquid down Bellatrix's lips. He waited, but nothing happened. Sweat began to trickle down his forehead...
The single word was enough to send shivers running down his back. “There is no change, My Lord. She appears to be in a coma, and may not awaken for days, or even months. Perhaps even years if the damage goes deep enough. It is impossible to tell.”
“Months? Years?” Came the hissing voice from behind him. “That is not good enough! I need her now, not in a years time, you fool!”
The death eater cringed, mentally preparing himself for the spell he knew was coming. He had failed to please his master.“Crucio!”
The death eater crumpled to the ground, writhing in pain and screaming out. But Voldemort ignored him, not caring if the man was in pain or not. He simply turned his back and faced towards Barty Crouch, who was leaning in the open doorway waiting for his command.
“I want them to pay for this.”
He nodded in reply, “Of course, My Lord. What did you have in mind?”
Voldemort looked thoughtful for a moment as he walked over to his throne and seated himself. “I want them to pay for what they have done to Bellatrix, and at the same time, I want the Slayer here, on her knees before me. Loosing her to me would be enough of a punishment to them I suppose.”
Barty nodded. “Ah, two birds with one stone and all that...”
“Yes. Now, let's see...” Voldemort tapped his fingers on his chin, willing his mind to form a plan. “The Slayer will not come to us willingly, not unless we have something she wants, something she needs.”
Barty stepped away from the wall and stood before his master. “An exchange then? I do have something that belongs to her... Something that I am sure the Ministry would love to get their hands on.”
Voldemort's grin was enough of an answer, and Barty nodded, stepping backwards. As he left the room he pulled out a small piece of paper from inside his jacket pocket.
He stared down at the photograph and grinned to himself.
This would be far too easy...