Into the Portal
Summary: Our future is a blank piece of paper for us to draw on, but sometimes our hand is held and the lines we draw aren't the ones we wanted. It's about sacrifice, about rebirth, about a prophecy. Most of all, it's about finding what you thought lost forever.
Rating: Somewhere around PG13 unless otherwise noted.
Spoilers: BtVS S5, HP Books 1-4 (after reading Order of the Phoenix, I can safely say this goes AU after Harry's 4th Year)
Disclaimer: If Btvs was mine, I would be much nicer to them. However, they belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN etc. Harry Potter is the marvelous invention of J.K Rowling. Don't sue me, all you'll get is two manic goldfish and some student loans.
Chapter 1: Into the Portal.
I stand on the swaying platform with her. My little sister who is so much more than what she seems. My little sister who is not really mine after all. My little sister who is weeping as though she could open the gateways to heaven with her tears.
My little sister who has opened the gateways to hell with her blood.
The sky fills with fireballs and creatures that I cannot describe, creatures the residents in this town see only in their darkest nightmares. I see them every day. I fight them in the inky blackness of night to prevent nightmares coming true. Tomorrow, this will all be forgotten, in the ignorance of a town that does not want to see.
Will we still be here tomorrow?
On the ground below, my friends fight valiantly to protect a world that sometimes threatens to crush me with its weight. Beside me, Dawn whimpers and turns her face to mine. Her eyes are filled with tears and a grim acceptance of her fate. I wonder fleetingly what it is she sees in mine.
I draw deep inside myself, preparing for what is to come. Perhaps this is visible in my eyes, for Dawn's widen in horror.
"Dawnie, I have to."
I speak softly to her, words that can never be enough to replace what will be lost. Tears overflow as the portal crackles and widens, a pale blue glow casting its shadows on our faces. I tell her to be brave.
I don't feel brave. I just feel empty. Will the world miss me when I'm gone? Will they even notice? Always the silent fighter, living my life in shadows. Saving the world.
Saving my sister.
I turn and run, knowing that if I hesitate for just one second, see the heartbreak in Dawn's eyes, I will be unable to present my gift to the world in all its crackly blue wrapping. Giles has said that the portal energies were powerful enough to kill.
He is usually right.
I leap from the tower, dive into the sea of blue. Energy pulses through my body as I fall through nowhere, rippling through my system until I can feel my teeth rattle. Stealing the breath from my lungs and invading every part of me.
Is this what death is like? It doesn't feel like it did last time.I suppose it is different each time. Granted, most people die only once.
Guess I'm just extra gifted.
I have been hovering on the precipice between life and death for what seems like an age, knowing there will be a moment when I do not fight as hard against the darkness, when I let it wash over me. I remember Spike's words from long ago and wonder if he is indeed having his "good day".
Pain intrudes on my thoughts. Fiery tongues seem to lap at my skin. I scream, pointless in a place where nobody can hear me. Black spots cloud my vision and I close my eyes and wonder if I am doomed to fall forever.
Then I hit the ground.
*Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry*
Ron poked his head around the dormitory door, waving his arms at Harry who was staring at the Hogwarts grounds intently from their window. Harry did not move.
"Is he cursed? Is he petrified? Is he.." Hermione's head joined Ron's at the door, hair a great deal less bushy than in previous years, thanks to a potion of her own invention. Her voice trailed off as she turned her gaze to follow Harry's.
"Holy cricket...WHAT is that?"
The moonlit sky above Hogwarts was disrupted with a great stormy cloud. Dark clouds were not unusual during the bitter winter, however in their seven years at Hogwarts nobody could remember seeing one that was electric blue and crackling.
As they watched, the cloud seemed to glow brighter and long tongues of blue flame shot haphazardly from the mass. Balls of fire lit up the night sky as trees caught alight. Ron had the sudden urge to cheer when a large ball struck the Whomping Willow... he had never much fancied that tree after it all but destroyed his father's Ford Anglia. Trying to crush Harry and himself in the process was an added black mark in its favour, of course.
"Bloody He...Heck. Don't glare at me like that, Hermione. I wasn't intending to swe...OW!" Ron shot a glare of his own at Hermione. You would think after so many years as friends she would have learnt to tolerate his use of swears. Even learn to use some herself...perish the thought.
Ron's silent chuckle was interrupted by Harry turning from the windowsill and frantically rummaging in a trunk for his well-used invisibility cloak. Hermione paused mid-glare and looked at Harry in disbelief.
"Harry Potter! We're NOT going out there in the middle of that... whatever-it-is! I have no desire to be lit on fire thankyou very much!" she half-squealed. " Besides, Ron's hair is already flaming!"
Ron shot his second glare in five minutes at the indignant witch, accompanied with a poke in the ribs.
"Harry.......Harry? Don't just ignore us!"
Hermione was talking to empty air, waving her arms around on the off-chance she might strike something soft and Harry-shaped, when Seamus Finnigan walked in, fresh from a shower, wearing little more than a towel. He stopped suddenly at the sight of the cleverest witch in the sixth year calling Harry's name and performing some strange kind of muggle dance. In his astonishment, his hands flew up and his towel flew...down.
"What on earth are you doing??" he asked, wide-eyed.
Hermione, noticing Seamus in all his erm..glory, made a squeaking sound, turned bright red, and ran from the room with her eyes squeezed shut. Ron and Seamus heard a thud as the bewildered witch ran directly into the corridor wall.
Ron winced in sympathy, until the situation struck him as hilariously funny. Shoulders shaking, he pictured Hermione waving her arms. Then noticing Seamus minus towel. Then running into the wall. Then....
"Er..Ron? D'ya think I could have a minute here?" Seamus interrupted, now firmly re-toweled and almost as embarassed as Hermione.
"Oh...sure...mate...bye" Ron choked out in between cackles of laughter, leaving the room to find Hermione. No doubt she'd be cranky when her head started hurting. The thought of her cranky put an end to Ron's laughter. He only wished Harry had been there to witness the spectacle.
During the confusion, Harry had taken the opportunity to slip from the room and out the portrait door, thoroughly confusing the Fat Lady.
He wanted to make sure Hagrid's house was safe... made of wood, it was not the safest place to inhabit during a mysterious electrical firestorm. Following the departure of Norbert, Hagrid had seemed less in danger of being set on fire; now the danger was present once more.
Hurrying across the lawns towards Hagrids hut, he noticed the cloud had turned a deep red colour, and a circle of energy had gathered in the middle. Dodging small fireballs, he wrapped the cloak tighter around his body as he neared the hut, still fire-free for the moment.
All of a sudden, with a rather loud pop, the cloud above him seemed to part, and a small figure was dumped from the hole, traveling fast toward the ground. Harry cursed as he fumbled for his wand, dropping his cloak in the process.
Finally locating it, he pointed it at the speeding object and above the sound of the strange cloud imploding in on itself, shouted "Wingardium Leviosa!".
The object slowed considerably, but failed to stop before hitting the ground, landing with a bone-jarring thud that made Harry wince.
Whatever it was, it was surely broken.
All thoughts of Hagrid leaving his mind, he rushed toward the heap on the ground as the remnants of the cloud disappeared and the night was still once more. Approaching it slowly, wand at the ready lest it presented a threat, he bent over it carefully, curious about the object produced by this odd cloud.
It was a small girl, no more than 15 or 16 at least, with long blonde hair...dressed in muggle clothes. Her clothes were dirty and she was deathly still and pale. New bruises marred her face, and her hair was matted and almost as bushy as Hermione's. One leg was twisted at an odd angle.
Harry believed, at first glance, that he was too late to help this strange child... surely the vanished cloud would have killed her, and if not, the fall certainly would. Holding back unexpected tears, he knelt to brush her hair from her face and as he did felt both a prickle of electricity and a faint pulse.
Standing quickly, he summoned a stretcher from the Quidditch field, and, wrapping his school cloak around her to keep her warm, Harry directed the floating stretcher toward the hospital wing, following behind it wrapped once again in the invisibility cloak.
Poppy Pomfrey, secure in the knowledge that all students were safely in their common rooms, and that none would disturb her rare peace, sat in her comfortable chair near the fireplace. For once, the hospital wing was blessedly empty of pupils, a small miracle considering the cold winter and the predisposition of certain sixth years to seek trouble and then medical attention.
Eyelids heavy, Poppy set aside the latest edition of the Daily Prophet, tilting her head back to enjoy the warmth of the crackling witchfire on her face. Sleep soon announced its presence to the empty room with a loud and rather unbecoming snore.
The heavy wooden door to the wing flew open with an almighty bang, startling the motherly woman from sleep. Rising from the chair, she turned towards the curious sight of a stretcher floating toward her in mid-air of its own accord. As it approached, her eyes widened in horror at the sight of an unconscious young girl, beaten and bloodied, lying on it wrapped in a student's cloak.
Harry would later swear to fellow students that their matron indeed was
capable of jumping three feet into the air in fright. At present, however, he was consumed with a sort of panic that he could not explain. It was suddenly very important to him that this child be alright. Throwing off the invisibility cloak, he revealed himself.
To his surprise, Madame Pomfrey did not seem overly shocked at his appearance. Almost as if she had been expecting him. With a wave of her wand, she transferred the girl to a comfortable bed. Busying herself with several small glass vials and a sizable medical kit, Madame Pomfrey mended slashes, broken bones and administered a pain reliever with an added dash of SleepEasy, for dreamless sleep.
Moments later, when the girl had been bandaged and dosed, the mediwitch turned to Harry, more worried than he had seen her in all his years at Hogwarts. The injuries sustained by this child were more horrific than anything she had experienced, and it saddened her to think that someone or something had done this to one so innocent.
"That's about all I can do for now. Mister Potter, what on earth happened tonight? Where did this child come from? She is not a student here, as you may have already guessed. Take this, and start at the beginning."
Harry accepted the offered chocolate and opened his mouth to begin.
Before he could get a word out, a familiar voice rang out from the fireplace.
"Indeed Poppy, it is better that the story begin at the beginning rather than the end... most
confusing I must say."
A voice rang out from the fireplace. Seconds later, Dumbledore himself had appeared. Studying the motionless form on the bed, he closed his eyes briefly as if to shut out the sight before him.
He turned to Harry and smiled warmly, motioning for him to seat himself in a nearby chair. Once all were seated, and sherbert lemons exchanged, Harry began to tell his story.
"I was fetching my chess set from the dormitory when I happened to glance out of the window..."
A shadow had fallen over the Summers house, where only one Summers now remained.
Xander had taken Anya, Willow and Dawn to Sunnydale General Hospital for treatment. Upon arriving, they found policemen already taking statements from members of the public who insisted they had been set upon by gangs of costumed thieves, obviously on a drug of some kind. The culprit was labeled as PCP.
It was amazing what people allowed themselves to believe rather than face their fears. Had it been under different circumstances, a joke would have been shared among the Scooby Gang. However, everyone was lost in their own grief.
Anya, stunned from the fight and aftermath, could not stop talking. She had answered quite truthfully when asked about her injuries and their cause. However, members of the hospital staff had assured the police that a concussion could certainly cause hallucinations.... flying dragons and portals from hell obviously were the result of a spectacular blow to the head.
An officer later noted in his report the detail given by the subject was remarkably lucid for one who should be groggy. He did not report the connection between the lunatics from the mental ward and the fight beneath a rickety tower. His personal theory remained that the "crazies" had been summoning alien life forms.
Xander, required in this situation to be the strong and manly male, watched with stinging eyes the public denial of everything Buffy had fought so hard against, to protect these people who would never know she existed. Had
His breath hitched in his throat as he choked back bitter tears and an urge to scream. When examined, he said little, and passed off the sheen of tears in his eyes as a dust allergy.
Willow, drained from her use of magic both to restore Tara and clear the path for Buffy to reach Dawn, said nothing. She sobbed silently into her dirty and torn hands and, once treated, soaked the bandages through with tears twice before a sedative was administered.
She spent the rest of the night, drugged and unable to move, staring at the wall and hearing Buffy's screams. Seeing her crumpled body on the ground.
Dawn, deeply in shock from loss of blood and a sister, was silent and still when they poured burning peroxide onto her wounds. Motionless when they were stitched. It was only when they began pumping someone else's blood (that was not Buffy's) into her veins that she screamed and kicked and bit an unsuspecting doctor.
While her hands and feet were being strapped to the bed, the nurse reported that the child "stared wide eyed at the ceiling, sobbing to something called a muffy that she would always be part of it, that it was... the blood of summer... always blood."
Psychiatric help was offered, but Dawn would not co-operate, choosing instead to stare out the window at a nearby cemetary.
When those who were released arrived at Revello Drive, they found Giles, Spike, three empty bottles of single malt whiskey and half a cup of congealed blood lying on the floor of the living room. A blood mustache was evident on two sets of lips. For a moment, Xander forgot the situation, wished he had a camera, and began to laugh. The laughter was dulled instantly as he caught sight of a well-loved photo of the Scoobs, Buffy laughing in the centre.
Choosing to let the two deal with their grief and subsequent hangovers in their own time, Xander and Anya retreated outside, unable to remain inside a house filled with reminders of Buffy. Anya was unable to understand why Xander had no interest in having sex, or planning the wedding. She assumed it was because he had seen dead bodies and was not one of those people who got a happy from that kind of thing.
Hank Summers, in a plane over the outback of Australia with a busty tanned blonde at the time that his daughter leapt from the platform, missed each of the cards informing him of the situation. His new fiancee (left at home in LA) recognised the address and name and tore them up in a jealous rage.
It was a week before Willow was strong enough to venture to L.A herself to break the news to Angel and Cordelia and crew. Jubilant about their return home from Pylea, the first thing Angel saw upon arriving was Willow's tearstained face.
He did not want to hear the how, or the why. He demanded the when in a weary voice, retreated to his rooms and stayed there for well over a week. Cordelia offered Willow her support and a friendly ear whenever it was needed. She asked for details, knowing that Angel would want them later.
There was such a remarkable difference between the new Cordy and Queen C that Willow was tempted to ask if she was possessed by the Ghost of Nice Cordelia, though she refrained.
The funeral service was held at night to allow two life-challenged friends to attend, though there was considerable animosity between them. Grudges were put aside, feuds forgotten, and Xander didn't call Angel "Deadboy" once.
Among the mourners were two vampires, an ex-demon, a mystical energy source, two witches, a seer, a watcher and rogue demon hunter, a watcher and ex-demon-raiser, a glorified bricklayer....none of which mattered, because in the end they were all tied together in knowing one person, the link living though the person did not.
Tears were cried, bonds formed, and memories resurfaced in a dark cemetery, over a cold stone that was simple yet descriptive."She Saved the World...A Lot."
AN: More coming, I promise!! Once the steady flow ( or torrent) of uni work eases up a little). Things WILL move faster next chapter...lots of ideas, lots to say. Meh!
Feedback is v.v.v.v good! If you love it, if you HATE it...let me know! :)