Chapter 65 - Endgame

An abstract of Aura.

Red – Power, Security, Jealousy.

Orange – Pleasure, Appreciation, Comfort.

Yellow – Status, Authority.

Green – Love, Compassion.

Blue – Knowledge, Influence.

Violet – Clairvoyance, Unification.

Unknown – Release

Filius Flitwick knew the times were about to change again. He could feel the wheel of fate churning in his gut. After he and the others had completed their elaborate trap, he left the High Council chambers and headed straight to the residential tower towards Granger and Greengrass's apartment.

It wasn't difficult to deduce the probability of Harry Potter being there was high if fate was truly involved.

Purpose guided his steps and even though he was taking a unilateral decision, in violation of the pact the High Council had taken with each other, he knew it was critical to confront Potter and find out his intentions.

There was no time to waste and he impatiently conjured a flying carpet and got on to speed things up.

In a matter of moments, he was at the door and knocked three times sharply then got off the carpet and banished it with a flick of his wand.

The door opened and he saw Granger poke her head out and looked left to right with confusion.

"Ahem," he said sternly.

Granger looked down and her eyes widened in surprise.

"Professor! What are you doing here?"

"May I come in?"

"Of course," Hermione said happily, "I was beginning to think I was forgotten." It was true, she thought. Daphne was still not out and she was ready to blow her door to pieces.

Flitwick hummed and walked in, taking in the luxurious and simplistic layout. He headed straight of the couch and took a seat, wandessly giving him the boost he needed.

Hermione took a seat on the high chair by the balcony and waited patiently.

"Could you bring Ms Greengrass, Hermione? It would be best if the two of you were here for this." He wanted his hunch confirmed before he spoke his mind.

Hermione huffed irritably. "If I could lift that silencing spell on her door I would! She's been locked in there forever." She was tempted to add shagging like bunnies but held her tongue.

"There's a simple trick to it," he said nonchalantly. "Do you want me to lift it?"

Hermione was afraid of the sounds that might scream out and shook her head. "I think we can wait for a couple of minutes. I'm sure she'll be out." She silently prayed.

"So Professor," Hermione began awkwardly. The professor was being awfully mysterious. "What was the big emergency last night?"

"That's the reason I'm here," he said patiently. "And it requires Ms Greengrass's presence so until she does appear, why don't you tell me your thoughts about the river. Any ideas that will allow us to safely step inside?"

"Erm.. obviously it's leading somewhere and it has a source and it is connected to Potter's curse.

Hermione paused and collected her thoughts.

"The power and complexity of the river suggest that it is now self-sufficient and is not under the control of the caster.

"So our goal should be to take control of the river at the source and end the curse," she finished strongly.

Flitwick smiled. "But?" He prompted her to go on.

"The magic is runic at its core and complex beyond our understanding and therefore to control it we need to create an equally complex runic net. As for a power source, we'd likely have to use our blood to draw the runes."

"Do you think the magic at play here is conscious?" Flitwick asked.

Hermione frowned and mulled with the thought. Alchemy did say magic was sentient but to be conscious?

"Do you think runes can manifest consciousness or is it consciousness that manifests runes?" he added.

"You mean…" Hermione's eyes widened with comprehension. "It's a matter of will?"

Flitwick smiled. "Will & Power, I assume."

"Like the method of the Mahoutokoro," she muttered to herself. "So if we use our collective power and will, theoretically we could control the river?"

"If it were a unified will, perhaps," Flitwick replied. "But we, as a species, are anything but unified. There are those who would use the potential of that power for selfish desires. Do you really think our kind is capable of being united in the pursuit of godly power?"

Hermione shook her head. If the professor was right. The river could be controlled and it would grant the user unimaginable power to shape the world in their vision.

"So is it a waste of time to try and decipher the runes?"

Flitwick chuckled and was distracted from his reply when the door to Daphne's room opened and the woman he was looking for finally made her appearance, fresh out of the shower, dressed for a trip outdoors.

Her expression turned to surprise and she turned to Hermione questioningly. Why was Flitwick here?

"Ms Greengrass," Flitwick began. "I'm glad to see you're doing well."

"Professor Flitwick?" Daphne asked when Hermione didn't reply and just scowled at her. "What are you doing here?

Flitwick collected himself and adjusted himself to be more comfortable.

"I'll get straight to the point. Daphne, did you encounter Harry Potter at the Den last night?"

Daphne froze and Hermione's jaw dropped.

"Daphne," Hermione said, her voice mounting with horror as the dots connected. "You didn't."

Daphne sighed and rolled her eyes. "I did," she replied nonchalantly. "And before you voice your outrage, I have no regrets."

Hermione clenched her jaws. "Is he in there?" she asked tightly, voice dripping with disapproval.

Flitwick nodded to himself, suspicions confirmed. "Mr Potter," he said out loud. "I bear no hostile intentions. I'm just here to talk."

Harry walked in, as cool as a cat and leaned against the wall next to Daphne. He looked at Flitwick, acknowledging him and then to Hermione, with a grin. "Hey, Hermione. It's been a while," he said with a two-fingered wave.

Hermione's face was turning red and her eyes were narrowing with anger towards him. Harry tapped into the void and saw the red in her growing stronger. He turned towards Flitwick and ignored her.

"Good to see you alive, Professor. I didn't think anyone could return after being sliced to pieces."

"I would have been if not for the ancient magic you awakened Mr Potter," Flitwick replied mildly.

Harry didn't reply and stared at Flitwick patiently. Waiting for the professor to put aside the chit-chat and get to the point of his visit.

"Are you aware of the River underneath us, Mr Potter?"

"I am," Harry replied. Hermione flashed an annoyed look at Daphne and Daphne just shrugged.

"Do you know what it is?"

Harry pursed his lips and analysed the professor. He was just as he remembered. Calm, patient and politely curious in conversation. A Professor in every essence of the word.

"In order for you to understand, let me ask a question of my own, Professor. What do you know about the Source of Magic?"

Flitwick's expression went from calm to contemplative before turning ashen. "You have embarked on the quest to find the source," he said, aghast.

Harry frowned at the reaction. "Why is that a bad thing?" Harry asked, bemused. This was the first time he'd seen a negative reaction.

Flitwick laughed mirthlessly. "And tell me, Mr Potter. What has it led to?"

Harry pondered upon his words before it dawned on him. "Destruction," he said wryly.

Flitwick nodded solemnly. "It's power beyond our control, Mr Potter. There have been multiple attempts in the past, by goblins, dwarfs, humans and other sentient beings to wield it and all led to untold destruction and apocalypses lost in the sands of time."

"You seem quite knowledgeable about this, Professor," Harry said quietly.

"You are a tadpole in an ocean, Mr Potter. There's much you don't know."

Harry chuckled. "But I know enough to be the supreme predator in this arena. After all, you need my power and my knowledge of the source."

Daphne and Hermione were watching the exchange with rapture. They suddenly felt the presence of two powerful wizards sizing the other.

"A lonely existence," Flitwick replied with a sigh. "But, let's not get distracted. To answer your question. I know about the source. The legends and stories are scattered in the form of bedtime stories across the magical world. Every species has its own version of it, prophecies are countless, but there is one thing common in all… the ones who attempt to touch it, to control it, always lose."

Harry rolled his eyes. He wasn't interested in the loser's perspective. He had touched the source. He had wielded its raw power and had witnessed its mystery far beyond the imagination of bedtime stories.

"The River is connected to the Source. It's an engine, a bridge, through which the source searches for purpose." Harry closed his eyes, remembering the intense feelings of the source. "When I touched it, I felt its rage. Rage at being misused. Rage at being forgotten and abused. My emotions from the trail resonated deeply with the source and manifested in the form of the desert."

Harry paused to let the words sink in.

"Yes, I wanted to curse everyone and everything in sight. Yes, I dreamt of destroying the world and remaking it in my image. But it was the circumstances of my life that resonated with the source, granting me the power to destroy the putrid cesspool human society had become.

"I was used by society, same as magic, for their own selfish desires. My coming was Karma."

Silence lingered in the air, heavy with severe judgement.

"I did not choose the quest to find the source, Professor. The source chose me." The Void was the Source. Harry understood that now. And knowing it was the source made his green ache with sadness.

Flitwick sighed deeply. "I don't blame you, Harry," he said calmly. "You're right. Our society probably deserves to be wiped out. But now, we must rebuild. And the first step to that is ending this curse. Harry, can you end it?"

Harry grinned, feeling much more at ease with the professor's presence after having his moment of catharsis. "I'm a prisoner here, same as you. The curse is no longer in my control. However seeing the River, you're all talking about, seems like a good first step."

Flitwick slid off the couch and straightened out his suit. "Follow me then," he said and headed towards the door.

"Professor, wait!" Hermione burst out.

"How can we trust his intentions are good?!"

Flitwick turned around and peered at her over his glasses. "Weren't you listening, Hermoine? His intentions don't matter."

"But," Hermione protested.

Harry cut her off. "Aren't you interested in finding Atlantis, Hermione?"

Hermione closed her mouth and frowned. "What do you hope to find there? If it is even real, that is."

Harry smirked. "The truth," he said simply and followed Flitwick out.

Daphne, who had relocated to the high chair by the balcony and kept silent all this time, began to laugh as she jumped off her chair to follow the duo.

"What's so funny?" Hermione grumbled under her breath, getting into step with Daphne, waiting for her chance to lay into her.

"We're the passengers, Hermione. This game is way beyond our level. Our role in this is to survive to tell the tale."

Hermoine huffed and turned off the lights and shut the door behind them.

Harry and Flitwick were waiting patiently and her mood darkened. Events were rapidly spiralling out of control and Daphne was right. She was just a passenger, a witness to the tale.

"This way," Flitwick said and led from the front. Hermione joined him, stewing in her thoughts, while Daphne hung back behind them, subtly pulling Harry into step beside her.

"That went better than I hoped," Daphne muttered under her breath.

"I'm still high so thank Merlin for that," he muttered back.

Daphne giggled and Hermione whipped her head around and scowled at them.

The unlikely team followed Flitwick, onto the next leg of their journey.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

From the balcony of the Den, Drake and Valarie watched intently as their prey left the Den flying high on drugs, alcohol and sex.

"Can you feel him?" Drake asked quietly.

Valarie smiled mischievously, feeling his desires fuel her desire to taste him. "He is powerful, Drake. Even in his most vulnerable state, we cannot get close enough to turn him."

Drake whistled, impressed. "Is his magic strong enough to trick the wards so that you can infiltrate?" he asked instead.

Valerie grinned, "With ease."

"Good... Good… Gaea is within our reach. Stay on his tail and once you're inside, start turning the weak-willed."

"Aye aye boss," Valarie said with a smirk. Excitement shivered under her cold skin. Gaea, the spirit of the world. The core of all life on the planet. To wield it meant to control creation. For vampires, it was the possibility of immortality without the side effect of being dependent on blood and turning to ash under the power of the sun.

At least that was what legend told.

And that was how, the following night, Valerie found herself in the lobby of the Elysium, concealed under a magical trench coat, eying the roaming wizards and witches, her fangs out with predatory intent while Drake waited outside patiently for a member of the high council to invite him inside.

At the time, Flitwick had left to go to Daphne & Hermione's apartment and Moody & Tom stayed at the Bank Manager's office to further reinforce the wards to hold Drake. They were not naive enough to underestimate the three-thousand-plus-year-old vampire.

In the time that it took for the Council to prepare the space, Valerie had already begun her task of creating foot soldiers. She started in the lower levels, preying on men and women who were alone in the darkness. A quick look into her eyes to hypnotise them and an exchange of blood was the ritual to change a human into a vampire. It would take a couple of hours for the change to occur while they remained unconscious. And when they woke, ravenous hunger would consume them.

Tom & Moody, idly chatted about the past, the wars, and the chases; like it were all just an amusing memory until it was sundown and time to head out to the entrance to invite the vampire in and set the clock to the endgame.

"Drake," Tom greeted.

"Tom, Alastor," Drake acknowledged with a nod and stoic expression.

"Follow me," Tom said, guiding Drake to the bank manager's office. He steeled his will. He wanted information from the vampire and he was going to get it no matter the consequences.

Flitwick led Harry, Daphne and Hermione to the tunnels and from there a quick ride on the trolley rail took them to the entrance of the Sacred Chamber.

Harry's pulse raced. He could feel the magic. He could feel the presence of the source fill his senses. 'This can't be,' he thought in wonder. The presence was pure, stronger and clearer than he had ever felt. The white folded his mind and he could hear its consciousness whisper to him.

'Come home, Harry. Finish what you started.

Harry's breath shook and beside him, Hermione frowned. She noticed him reacting to the magic. She could feel it faintly and was sure Harry's senses were sharper.

"Come on Potter," she said gruffly and followed Daphne into the hole in the ground leading to the caravan.

His breath was taken away when he entered the caravan and saw the river. A body of magic, made out of pure white light flecked with gold dust that were zipping around the river like subatomic particles, flowing at a speed that made it seem stationary and disappearing into the darkness beyond the walls. Small white threads kept leaking out of the river and seeped into the rocky bed around, presumably making their way to the surface driving the magic of the desert. Allowing the will of magical beings to manifest.

A massive wooden table lay to one end for them to work on while they worked on deciphering the runes that were revealed to them in the river.

"Well?" Hermione asked, "What do you think?"

Daphne was just as blown away with awe at the sight before her. "This is incredible," she whispered.

"It's the heart of the desert," Harry said quietly. He walked around the large cave, breathing in the essence of the magic in the cave, vibrating from the river. He glanced at the table full of notes and runes, recognising the attempts of deciphering the nature of the river and felt mirth rise within him.

Flitwick saw his amused expression and said, "Well, Mr Potter? Care to share your thoughts on what the purpose of the river is?"

Harry grinned. "It's simple, professor. The desert above is driven by a singular Will born from the magic that comes from the source. This river is simply an extension of that source. They are the threads that bind the enchantment of the desert together with the command to ensure participation in the survival game. This river leads beyond those borders to places of power born from the source, places you'd need to go if you wish to impose your will upon the source and change the rules of the game in your favour. Power is needed to change the curse, professor. And if my hypothesis is correct. The first civilization to tap into the source on a scale similar to this was Atlantis. Their failed attempt led to the destruction of their continent and that's where we go to find clues to accessing enough power to undo the enchantment of the desert."

Hermione absorbed his words, processing them furiously in her mind.

Flitwick just nodded. That had been one of his hypotheses as well. "So how do we get there?" Briefly, he wondered if the negotiations upstairs had started. It was highly likely they were going to have company soon. The race to the endgame was on.

Harry walked closer to the river and carefully raised his magical arm to touch it.

"Don't!" Hermione screamed. She had seen what happened to objects that were thrown in the river. Flitwick also looked alarmed. Only Daphne maintained a calm exterior, although her heart raced with worry.

Harry just rolled his eye and pulled on the source within him, gently wrapping it around the river to communicate. He closed his eye and with his will focused on the destination, he transformed his thoughts into runes that streamed out of his extended arm and manifested with bright white light around the river and began to spread rapidly.

Hermione, Daphne and Flitwick could not believe their eyes. The runes conjured by Harry were beyond their understanding and wrapped around the river like a glove. The brightness of the river began to flicker and pulse and in a moment that was seared in their memory forever, a door appeared in the middle of the river, floating mystically and the river returned to its normal fluid state.

Harry removed his hand and sighed.

"Wha-what did you do?" Flitwick stuttered. The ease with which Harry handled the power of the river was beyond his wildest imagination. The boy was powerful beyond measure! He was glad he had reached out to him, knowing now, a confrontation was futile.

"I asked the source to take me to Atlantis," he said in a matter-of-fact tone. "The magic is so strong, so pure, it's easy to communicate…." he looked at their clueless expressions. "If you know how to communicate," he added.

Daphne rolled her eyes. "So do we just walk in?"

Harry smirked and nodded. "After you."

"Uh… No way." Daphne scoffed. "You lead the way."

Flitwick folded his arms and collected himself. Harry's mastery over magic was genius. If only things had turned out differently with the boy, he thought sadly.

"Hang on," Hermione interrupted. "Is it really safe to just step inside and through the door? We have no idea what's on the other side. It could be a sea of magma for all you know."

Harry shrugged and walked towards the river.

The others watched with bated breath as he entered the influence of the river and reached the door unharmed.

Daphne sighed in relief.

"Come on," Harry goaded as he opened the door revealing darkness. A veil to the lost world. "Don't tell me you all are afraid."

Excitement built inside Daphne. Atlantis, the lost continent. What secrets would be uncovered there? Daphne grinned and followed him fearlessly.

Flitwick and Hermione exchanged a look as Harry and Daphne disappeared behind the open door. "Hermione," Flitwick said suddenly, his voice serious. "Whatever happens once we're through that door, just remember our goal is to lift the curse. Don't lose focus of that."

"Of course, Professor."

"Good. Let's go then."

On the other side, Harry waited for the two to appear and a minute later they came through and he shut the door.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

A/N: Nice to be back! Love to hear more from you!