Disclaimer: I say, now! If I owned this whole shindig, I'd be one happy bastard! After all, I wouldn't have to bust my ass working coz' I'd be filthy rich . . . which I ain't.

You getting my drift, here?

Alert! If you've forgotten there's slash to be had later on in the story, this is, like, your gazillionth reminder!

Pickled Brains: What the hell? What the bloody hell? I just tried to bribe a kid with Scooby Snacks today, and you know what the little brat said? You won't believe this! He said, he asked: What are Scooby Snacks?

I felt old and alone for the very first time in my life. I could feel death crawling up my leg like a leech (though it could have been a dog licking my foot), sucking the life outta me; my years and my youth. And there, in that sea of oldness and solitude, I asked myself; what kind of world is this that bratty little runts don't know who the hell Scooby Doo is!?

Kill me now. I don't think I wanna see the next generation, if that kid is any indication.

. . . And did I just rhyme?


You lot just go read this chapter. Ignore me. I'm gonna stew in my (almost) quarter century of oldness for a bit. Have a bit of a sulk, you know?




Aidan's arm tightened around his waist and that was enough to snap Harry out of his stunned surprise.

Just who the heck did this old man think he was, talking to his little light like that? Reprimanding him as if he were an unruly child? And what the bloody hell was he doing feeling this nervous? He'd faced down Voldemort again and again! He'd walked to dangerous situations many times and survived! It didn't matter that he didn't have his magic. It didn't matter that his power and he were at odds.

Harry would not let himself be intimidated.

Not ever.

Many had called him fearless before; unfailingly courageous. But that was not exactly true. It didn't mean that he wasn't afraid, but that his only fear was fear. And when he found himself afraid, he feared being a cowered more than he feared what had induced such a reaction.

It was why a Bogart turned into a Dementor for him, even after he had mastered the Patronus Charm. Because they preyed on ones fears, and Harry feared his own fear. He feared fear itself.

So he stood up straight, gathered his wits about him like a cloak, and pulled Aidan closer to him, unconsciously protective.

He glared into the old man's brown eyes with a fierce, proud bearing, and his power responded. It unfurled from him like a parting sea and surged outward, loosening and dividing itself into so many tendrils that he couldn't begin to count them all.

Amazed but still stern, he watched steadily as the purely white strands of his power formed up around him and Aidan and weaved themselves into an arching dome of light; looking both delicate and violent; powerful and blinding.

Something told him, and every bone in his body agreed, that if the old man touched the startling white weave, he would perish. It was both a sword and a shield, and it answered to no one but itself, and when the day came that Harry and his power became one, it would answer to him as well.

He could feel that as if it were a promise. It echoed within him.

Aidan looked up at him briefly, his eyes wide and excited, equally amazed by what was happening, his blue gaze flitting from Harry's own astonished eyes to survey their dazzling surroundings, to watch the intricate weave of Harry's power.

"It's beautiful, Harry," his little light whispered to him.

Harry agreed, his own eagerness to learn more about his power, and whatever resided within it, skyrocketing. This was the second time it had reacted like this, though maybe not as violent as the first time, for instead of defensively, that first time it had simply unfurled and eradicated Voldemort from the face of his world.

. . . What more could it do? What other shape could it take? Did it have a limit? Would it do this again at Harry's own behest?

A throat being cleared snapped them both from their amazed perusal and Harry felt the lack of overwhelming power at the other side of the white dome. "I've reigned in both my power and my temper," said a tight gravelly voice, which Harry recognized as belonging to that crazy old man, "you can both come out of there now."

"Can you call your power back, Harry?" Aidan asked him, his voice breathy and energized. He sounded like an overexcited five year old.

Harry wasn't far from five years old himself just then.

Then he looked down at his little light for a bit and tried, coming to his senses. He asked gently within himself. He didn't try to force his will or even attempt to control his power, but made a request. He prodded it gently, asked it nicely. He even whispered lowly to it.

It didn't work.

"I—I tried asking," he told Aidan somewhat nervously. What if they were trapped here now?

Aidan just hummed a bit and nodded, "Master Damian? Would you be so kind as to back away, please? Since Harry's power reacted to you, it will be easier if you weren't too close to it."

A pause followed this request. "And why doesn't the lad just call his shield back?" came the grumpy, irritable response.

"Because he doesn't know how," Aidan replied easily.

"His power is white and he doesn't know how to use it?" the old man asked, incredulous. "For that matter, why is his power white? And how do you know him? Someone with such pure a power hasn't been seen in generations, if it is indeed real. It could easily be an illusion," he reasoned scornfully, doubtfully, "Be careful that you are not fooled lad, it could kill you."

"What's he talking about?" Harry asked the other boy in a whisper, confused by this talk of color and power.

Aidan just exhaled an exasperated breath before pulling himself straight with Harry's help. "That old man is so stubborn," he muttered so that only they could hear while shaking his head at Harry's question. Then his usually sweet, gentle voice rose, both sharper and more commanding than Harry had ever heard it, "Move now, Master Damian, before I move you myself. This is not a conversation to be had in this manner."

Silence greeted this statement once again; a longer, more rueful silence. "As you wish, Shining One," came the old man's voice in an oddly respectful pitch before retreating footsteps echoed down the hallway.

Shining One? Harry mouthed to himself, looking at Aiden sideways and taking in his almost regal bearing. But then, as he thought about it, hadn't Boreas referred to Aidan as the Shining Child? Why would that be? It obviously meant something, that's for sure.

"Let us continue, Harry," Aidan told him, pulling him slightly, his tone light once more, even as excitement crept back into his every motion.

Looking at the still present weave of power, Harry gave Aidan a look of brief uncertainty, only to receive another gentle tug. So he walked, still supporting his little light.

The dome of white power didn't move with them, as he half expected it to, nor did it change in any way. When they were close to its edge, Aidan explained, "It is your power, Harry and though you might not be able to work together yet, it won't harm you directly."

They crossed the edge of the dome, and Harry could suddenly feel every thread and every link of it, and further felt as it unraveled behind them and sunk within him once more, warm and protective in a way that he had become accustomed to; in a way that had not always been.

It felt proud of itself, as well.

"Hmph," came that same gravelly voice, "I want answers, child."

"And if you will just follow us, you will get them Master Damien," Aidan responded lightly, gesturing to the old man to come after them, his arm steady around Harry's waist. "Harry, Master Damian is one of the best physician's in Lumentia. He's been taking care of me for as long as I have memory."

Harry looked toward the fierce old man from the corner of his eye, looking so much like a griffin it was surprising, and saw him looking at his little light expectantly, with the cranky expression of someone who wants to know something and knows he won't be getting it as soon as he would wish.

"This is Harry James Potter, Master Damian, my souls equal," his little light declared proudly, affectionately.

Harry's cheeks heated up a bit.

The old man stopped in his tracks, a stunned look on his creased countenance.

Aidan just kept walking, taking Harry with him, and he didn't protest. Still, he looked back to watch the old man's staggered expression, even as they turned the corner, this time into the interior garden that he remembered getting a glimpse of.

"Where are we going?" he asked, looking around at the riot of colors inhabiting the open garden and pushing back his questions about the old physician; there would be time enough to discover such things later. Flowers of every kind ran amok in the garden, with bursts of lively green in between and hummingbirds flitting about from here to there.

Harry could see the roof opening up above them, curbed, with undulating edges and pale, multicolored surfaces. "For that matter, what is this place?"

There was so much he didn't know, and so much he learned with every question he asked and every glance he gave.

Aidan closed his mouth and gave him a fleeting smile, which just kept coming back to hover at the edge of his lips as he talked, "I forgot that you've just arrived. You must think me such a poor host. But then, we haven't really talked all that much, have we?"

The other teen gave a rueful shake of his head, "I would apologize, but I don't think you'd accept them, would you?" Harry just shook his head back at his little light with a small grin, "I thought so. Very well. This place and where we are going are very much tied together.

"You see, Lumentia is divided into twelve lands, each one in honor of one of the twelve Sentinels. These lands are then divided further into twelve regions, which are named after one of the twelve stars that form the constellation of the patron Sentinel of the land. Within each region many towns and cities exist, but not all of them are alike. Each region has one central city, and each land has its main capital."

They finally turned away from the inner garden and into a vast hallway that led into smaller halls with rooms branching out of them. Harry could see that the spaces he was looking at were getting bigger and taller; roomier, even if most of them were closed or not completely visible.

Still, he continued listening to Aidan as they made their slow way forward, looking around curiously and trying to get the whole curving space pinned down.

"This place, as you asked, is the heart of the central city of one of these regions. You could say that the administrative functions of the region are handled here, along with many other things. We are the overseers of the surrounding lands and we serve its people; we are leadership, administration, education and service, all rolled into one.

"We are what government in your world is supposed to be," Aidan told him with a quirky grin.

"I see," it would explain the absolute vastness of the place, though not exactly why it was so empty. Did it mean that all those smaller halls were offices of some kind? Where they all on holiday maybe? And then, why did Aiden live here? "But I don't understand. If that's the case, then what are you to this place?"

He had a very strong suspicion, but he wanted to hear it from his little light; it would explain quite a few things, he was sure. Aidan just turned; a mischievous gleam in his blue eyes as he began to speak—

"He is the lord of this region," came the grave, gravelly voice of the old man, Master Damian. He stood there, just in front of them, hands folded and looking at Harry with a severe expression, as if he were evaluating him. "Or at least, that is the equivalent term for his position. He is also a guide, a teacher and a priest. If you have a title that can encase all of those together, you will know what he is, and his responsibility to his people."

Aidan sent a reprimanding glance at the old man and pouted, "I wanted to tell him myself, Master Damian."

"You would have told the lad that you were a desk clerk, Shining One," and Harry could hear the affectionate barbs in the statement. The old man at least cared for his little light. That was fine with him. Damian then looked over at Harry, "He should have been more than what he is."

Harry tilted his head curiously, "How so?"

The way the old man was speaking, it seemed almost as if he blamed Harry for something.

Aidan tugged at him and continued leading him, "I'll explain it all later," he said, and they passed the old physician and continued onward. Harry let things lie; he'd ask about it later.

Now, however, Master Damian was walking with them once more. "Tell me lad, when did you arrive here? When last I left, we had just helped the young master in finding you," he frowned at Harry, "What he told us wasn't heartening news."

Harry eyed the physician closely and saw only concern for his little light, in the fierceness of his voice, the stubbornness in his jaw, the glare in his eyes. Everything was in protection of his little light.

It made him smile.

"I'm sure it wasn't," he told the old man, who seemed taken aback by his expression, "but then, the last news you received was bad news. Maybe you should hear the next part of the story before coming to any conclusions, yes? Oh, and I arrived early yesterday morning," he finished, answering the man's first question.

"Here we are," Aidan said, stopping in front of a massive bulbous door. Like everything else in the place, it didn't have a straight line in or around it. You couldn't even get one if you ran the thing over with a steamroller. It bloated outwards a third of the way up and curved sinuously so that it didn't look at all strange.

In fact, it reminded Harry of bubbles and water and foam more than anything else, and as he looked around at the curving hall that led up to it, he got the feeling of it as well.

Again, Aidan raised a hand and the air rippled before him. The door swung inwards smoothly, joining a short hall and seamlessly melting into it. As if there was never a door there at all.

"Where are we?" Harry asked in awe as they entered the vast room beyond. The air was heavy hear, but inviting.

"The Sentinel's Hollow," Aidan told him as he led him inside. "Every city and town has one, though never in the same scale. This one, being in the central city of one of the twelve regions, is bigger than most."

It was a roughly circular room, open to the sky. As they emerged from the short hall where the doors had seamlessly melded with the inner walls, they crossed a bridge and came upon the back of a massive statue. Two smaller statues were at either side of the bridge and within the water of a small pool.

When they come from behind the massive figure, Harry couldn't help but gape. Receding, multicolored, multi-tiered rooftops surrounded the Hollow like cresting waves or irregular balconies. Three other massive statues guarded another three doors to the massive space, each flanked by smaller sculptures.

Not that you can call any of them small.

Once in the middle, where a deep fountain sprouted, Aidan sat down, allowing Harry to walk the place in awe. There were twelve statues, which he imagined represented each one of the Sentinels. At the four corners of the room were the biggest ones; two males and two females. What they represented was easy enough for him to decipher.

They didn't have any one color to define them, but a multitude of shades. Harry knew that they represented the four elements. They had entered through the door guarded by the Sentinel of Water, which was female. Clockwise and to the right of it came the Sentinels of Fire, Earth and Air, in that order. How he knew to which element they corresponded, he didn't know, because they looked remarkably human and not all that different from each other. But there was something about them that just screamed it.

Literally, even if they were human in shape, they gave the sense of each of their elements in small, insignificant ways.

Each of them was beautiful beyond imagining, and Harry could have spent days and days watching each and every one of them.

The smaller Sentinels were no less beautiful, of course, and each couple that flanked the elemental ones obviously belonged to that element. At each side of the Sentinel of Water, at the shores of the pool they had crossed was a mermaid and something that looked remarkably like a centaur only that from the waist down it had the body of a massive seal, or sea lion, instead of that of a horse.

To its right stood the Sentinel of Fire, and at its sides stood two creatures that Harry had never seen before. The male one was short and lithe, with pointed ears, flaming hair and clawed, cracked legs and thick tail, looking as if the skin there was burned and lava flowed beneath it, while its chest and arms blazed golden smooth in the light of the sun. The female creature, again, was much like a centaur, with the body of a giant salamander and her torso beginning where its head should have been.

"They are an Imp and a Sethlan," came the gravelly comment from beside him, making Harry almost jump. Master Damian stood there, looking at him searchingly before pointing at the statues he had been looking at in confusion. "Both creatures of fire, and the forms these Sentinels have favored for dozens of generations."

"So they haven't always had such forms?" Harry asked, supremely curious.

He wanted so much to know if there really were such sticking creatures in this world.

Damian gave him a blank, side-long gaze and shook his head slowly, "No. There was a time when they, all twelve, chose human form, and another when they appeared in complete animal shape. If you one day visit some of the older Hollow's, you will find a representation of them as such."

Nodding, Harry knew that he was being evaluated closely, but didn't much care, "How about that one?" he asked, pointing at the statue of the male Sentinel with the seal as its lower body.

"That's a Selkie," came the short response.

Frowning, Harry thought on this, "But don't selkies turn into seals? In my world they are either one or the other, depending on whether they wear their seal's skin or not."

"Ah, but we aren't in your world, now are we?" Damian asked somewhat snidely, though mostly reserved.

Harry just ignored the old man and moved to the next statues; these ones stood behind the Sentinel of Earth, who, like Water, was also female. At one side of her stood a female centaur and at the other a half man, half bull. A minotaur, if he pegged it correctly.

A creature of myth in his world.

Finally, at either side of the Sentinel of Air stood a small, winged fairy whose form seemed to blur and a male sphinx, something unheard of in his world. He looked at him most of all; with his luscious golden mane and its powerful leonine lower body.

Each of the Sentinels' statues were at least twice Harry's size and all of them were extraordinarily beautiful; they could all of them be the kings and queens of the forms they had chosen, and Harry had to wonder if they hadn't modified and perfected their chosen forms for exactly that purpose.

Humbled, amazed and awed, Harry made his way towards Aidan once more, sitting down beside him, "They're brilliant," he told his little light, as if revealing a great secret, his gaze still flitting from one to the other.

"They are the guides of this world," his little light told him in an agreeing tone of voice, a small, indulgent smile upon his lips, "And now, we shall call upon them."

Tearing his gaze from the surroundings, Harry's eyes fixed upon his little light, "What?"

"Did you think I brought you to this Hollow to see some statues, Harry?" Aidan asked him kindly, "There were other reasons, remember? In here, the connection between us and our Sentinels are strongest, and though we could call upon them from anywhere, such a thing is less taxing in a Hollow."

Nodding slowly, Harry remembered, "You spoke one time on how, to understand my power, I would have to call upon the Sentinel that gifted it to me and ask for its guidance."

"Exactly. You need another gifted to help you in this, so that he or she might call on your Sentinel and ask it for guidance; to show you the strength of your power, its shape and the totem or totems that represent it."

Eager once again, and ignoring the lingering presence of Master Damian in a shadowy corner of the room, looking at them both with a foreboding frown, Harry took his little lights hands in his own, "Are we going to do that now?" he asked excitedly.

"Of course," Aidan told him, sparing a glance at their hands and squeezing them lightly, "This fountain is here for that purpose," he gestured towards the pool of crystal clear water upon which edge they were both seated.

Smooth rocks made up its irregular edge, and four springs of water leaked slowly into the large pool. Spouts and spurts of water arched smooth and rough, big and small, creating a thin mist upon the air, even as random, gentle whirlpools formed upon its surface.

Rays of light pierced both mist and water, reflecting wildly upon the rocks.

"Now, relax. I will draw upon your power, something that can only be done in a Hollow and for this purpose; otherwise my life would be forfeit. Do not fight it, do not resist it."

Aidan's voice was as smooth and gentle as the crystal clear waters and Harry's trust for his little light was such that he didn't even twitch, when, five minutes later and after many soothing instructions, the younger boy coaxed Harry's power from him. He wondered if this was why children were so young when they did this. He doubted that the amount of trust needed to allow someone to touch your power in such a way could be freely given later on.

Harry could feel his little light. He could sense him everywhere and in everything that he was.

He felt the other boy's gentle touch in every corner of his being; he could feel Aidan's mind touching his own, feel the other's tattered soul embracing his, sense him as if he were being touched everywhere at the same time.

His heart was laid open, his magic, power or whatever answered an unknown call and his very being flowed out of him as his little light directed it.

Gently, coaxingly, soothingly, like an expert enchanter.

Silver power, shining, glowing, covered his little light and enticed Harry's own white power outside of himself and into the fountain. It flashed and poured out of him and spread across the surface of the water, following the sliver of silver that guided it.

If it were anyone but his little light, Harry was sure that his power would have consumed them, but it already recognized Aidan and the sapphire hanging from his neck warmed and glowed in response. It was happy to oblige, delighted to follow, eager to play or protect.

The whole process was more intimate than anything he had ever experienced, but more than comforting as well.

When all of his power was visible, seeping into the rocks, flowing with the water, dancing with the light and mist, Aidan began to speak; to explain. "We are a combination of things, each of which contribute to our individuality," he paused and we watched silently as my power whirled and danced within the fountain, its last trickled flowing slowly out of me, "There is our body and our emotions, our mind and our soul, our inner energy and our conscience, and last, our self, which is the combination of each of these.

"Seven parts make up who we are, and our power is an expression of them. It takes on the shape of an animal as a manifestation of this, and we call this animal a Totem," again, Aidan paused and Harry saw how his blue eyes became cloudy and his voice turned almost wispy, as if he were doing something else apart speaking, "Most gifted have only one totem and their power manifests as one animal. This animal is the representation of everything they are; Body, Emotions, Mind, Soul, Energy, Conscience and Self.

"However, there are a special few who have more than one totem; whose power manifests itself in more than one shape," Aidan smiled at him, "Maybe because their emotions and their mind are represented in different creatures or because their body and self fall under different classifications. Whatever the case or combination, in this case more than one totem represents them, and so their power manifests in more than one shape. I am one of these few, and that is how I became a lord of these lands."

Aidan paused and recited liltingly, "He who knows each aspect of himself well has wisdom beyond that of normal men, and so they lead and guide the world," slowly Aidan's eyes cleared and the silver of his power receded from their surroundings until only the white of Harry's own remained. "I sensed the question within your mind, and this is the answer. While my soul was the most damaged, my body reflects it because both of them are linked. I have more than one totem, and along with my soul, my body is represented by it, and tied to it. When one suffers, so does the other."

Speechless, Harry looked from Aidan to his own power and wondered at this revelation. Would this mean that if Aidan's power had not been so separated, these aspects of himself so apart, that he could have suffered more? He had the inkling that having more than one totem was rather rare, and he wondered if Master Damian's griffin was the representation of all of the man's features or if he had another animal that described the rest of him.

Would he himself have more than one totem, or would his whole being be represented by only one creature? Was it better to have more than one? Would a person with multiple totems be more able to know himself? Would having such specification and separation of each of the things that made one an individual be easier than having everything mixed up in one place? Would someone be truly able to know himself better because of it? And why would having more than one totem explain Aidan's position?

Harry didn't understand. For a brief moment, he longed for his wand and the few waves and words that would bring an effect or allow him to cast a spell, but then he remembered what his power had accomplished so far and what he had seen it do, and then imagined everything else that he didn't even know about it.

The mystery of it, however complicated and however many layers it had, was enough to quiet his inner lamentations. His power was more than his magic, he understood that now; it was forged from everything that he was and everything that made him.

Just thinking about it brought the tide of eagerness and excitement right back, and he looked to the swirling waters and mists, where his power now pulsed brightly.

And then something spoke.

"We remember," they said, multiple voices speaking at once, both haunting and melodious, they reverberated suddenly throughout the whole hollow. Harry would have jumped if it were not for Aidan holding him by his hands.

"We know this light," they said and his power flared into brilliant radiance, "We gifted it to one not of this world."

It was the Sentinels speaking, he realized, and Harry felt both small and incredibly special. "He is the reflection of my soul, its compliment and its equal," Aidan spoke up, his voice steady and sure, respectful but not subservient, "And he is here seeking your guidance; his power and he are at odds, as new to him as this strange world in which he has crossed."

Silence permeated the clearing and then was broken just as quickly.

"Guidance he might be seeking, but it is not the only reason for his crossing," a distinctly female voice spoke, smooth in its agelessness; powerful in its depths.

"At odds might he and his power be, but still they are ever seeking harmony," a wispy, playful baritone continued, as soft as a summer wind with the powerful undertone of riled storms and swift, destructive gales.

"Strange as this new world is for him, he has yet crossed it without regret or misgiving. His whole being is at peace," commented the even, motherly voice of the other female Sentinel, her tone as loving as open valleys and grassy meadows.

"Joined souls you possess, but they are neither equal nor mere reflections. They are so much more than echoes, so much greater," commented the warm, fiery tenor of the last of the elemental Sentinels.

Slowly, the last echo of the words drifted out of hearing and all four spoke once more, "We remember his gift and we will guide it."

His power flashed brightly within the fountain and something emerged from within it and stepped upon the stones opposite where they were sitting.

It was a female centaur.

And she was unlike any centaur that Harry had ever seen. Her horse half was black as night and white stained her ankles like bright socks; her hoofs a brilliant, shining silver. The upper part of her body was lithe and bare, and white as ivory; her hair was black as well and her eyes were as silver as her hooves.

She pawed the stones where she stood and sparks ignited on contact.

Harry didn't know how long she stood there, watching them, before her beautiful face creased into a dimpled smile. She looked both young and playful, both strong and yielding. She knelt at the edge of the fountain and scooped water, and some of Harry's power, with her hands.

"Come," she told them in a strong, motherly voice. It reminded Harry of when the Earth Sentinel spoke, but instead of the all encompassing protectiveness of that voice, hers was more direct; she reminded him of mountains and peaks and forests.

Aidan tugged at him and Harry stood, helping his little light as they made their way around the fountain. From the corner of his eye, he saw Master Damian, and the thoughtful look on his face helped soften the previous harshness of his expression.

When they approached the Sentinel, she was cradling her hands carefully, and Harry watched as a brilliant ball of white power, his power, rested there. She paid no attention to them as they sat on the nearest rock, and she began to pick at his power as if it were a tangled ball of yarn.

"We were surprised to see you here, you know," she finally spoke, her startling silver eyes fixed upon her hands, her legs folded beneath her, even as she talked with a strange sort of familiarity. She knew him through his power after all, "Tied to the Shining Child as you are, we hoped that you might come. We planted the seed of power within you, and wondered if we might ever see it grown."

She paused and gave him a brief, warm smile, her tail flicking idly behind her, "It heartens us to see you here and we welcome you to our world—" she interrupted herself and tugged sharply at the ball of power in her hand and something came loose.

A thread of brilliant emerald green light shone from between her fingers and before Harry could speak up or ask anything, she pulled on it. It felt strange and disconcerting, but not uncomfortable, as a thread of his power was separated from the rest. His whole body tingled with it and he watched, astonished, as the white of his power darkened to a golden shade and the brilliant green gathered in her hands.

She spun it and weaved it until there was no more green left, and his power shined a brilliant gold.

"Such pure light," she breathed as she looked upon the ball of green power in her hands. When she looked up at him, Harry was struck by the sheer delight in her features, even as she gestured to the rest of his power and he watched it obey, returning to him like water.

"It's beautiful, Harry," Aidan finally spoke from beside him.

He agreed, but was still confused, "What's going on?" he whispered to his little light, his eyes never leaving the Sentinel as she prodded at the piece of his power that she held.

"That's one of your totems," Aidan explained in an equally quiet voice, "And it is obvious now that you have more than one," he said, even as the last of his power seeped back into him

He was about to ask for a better explanation when the Sentinel finally looked up, "Our gifts mature slowly as you age and it is always a fascination for us to see how it is nurtured and how it grows; how it develops. This," she held up her hands, "Is but a sliver of your power. It is aligned with the earth and represents only your body."

She closed her hands and then opened them suddenly, as if giving something somewhere solid to step.

The light of his power shined and then it did the strangest thing; it changed. For before it hit the ground it was no longer light and power but a lithe, graceful spotted cat.

No, not a domestic cat, but a wild one. Like a miniature leopard it pranced smoothly around, looking curiously at its surroundings. It had a small elegant head with rounded ears, long legs with wide paws and an even longer tail. Harry was amazed when the small wildcat climbed swiftly up one of the statues and then came running down the other side as if it were nothing. How the bloody hell had it done that? One just couldn't run down a vertical with such swiftness!

"What is it?" he finally asked.

"A Margay," the Sentinel answered serenely, "The Manifestation of your Power, of your Body." She turned and looked at the small wildcat, "Come."

It did as it was told.

"I've never seen its like," his little light told him, eyes bright.

"What's your totem, then?" Harry inquired with narrowed eyes, still suspicious of the younger boy's mischievous nature.

"Oh, I have more than one, remember? One of them is a house cat, the manifestation of my body and soul," he sighed, "I've only seen him but once, I can't manifest him without a Sentinels help."

"You have it," the Sentinel spoke, startling them.

"What?" Harry asked it.

"You have a Sentinels help, Shining One," she informed them succinctly and extended her hand, which Aidan took joyfully.

Harry looked at his little light and watched as his power seeped out of him, pale gold in color, and took the shape of a big, fluffy cat with a sharp face, pointed ears and a startling white coat.

An angora, if he didn't miss his guess.

And it was beyond beautiful.

The sheer happiness on Aidan's face as the white feline stretched was fascinating to see, and he wondered briefly why he was enjoying it so much, even as he was captivated by the snowy feline's blue, tender gaze. However, before he could ask about it the Sentinel spoke, pointing at the Margay sitting in front of him, looking at him with big golden eyes, "Touch him, know him; become one with him. He is you."

Harry held out his hand, touched the small wildcat, and the world dissolved around him.

He felt free.




Pickled Brains: There ya go! It took me awhile to update again, but I had a bossy, double-damned, no-good son-of-a-leech breathin' down my neck and working my bones to dust! What is it with all these impossible jobs that people like throwing around? Everything has to be ready by last year! Sheesh!

But whatever, right? I'm finally free and you lot get an update out of it. Indeed, if there was ever a time when I needed reviews, and some cheering up, that time would be, I dunno . . . now.

*Blinks Innocently*