When Zia awoke, it was getting dark. It was silent in the Hospital Wing, with the exception of a light snoring from near the stiff bed she had been placed in. Carter, his head thrown back and slightly to the side, slept in a chair beside her. A textbook, transfiguration by the look of it, had slowly begun to slip from his lap and to the floor. Zia leaned forward to catch it, but it slid away, landing on the floor with a loud thump. Carter jerked awake.
"What?" He seemed dazed for a moment, then remembered why he was sleeping in a hard chair rather than his nice, warm bed upstairs in the Ravenclaw dormitory.
"How're you feeling- wait. Don't answer that," he said, then muttered, flustered. "Of course she isn't feeling great, Carter, you idiot!"
Zia smiled. It was the same Carter her shabti had sent her messages about. "I actually feel okay, under the circumstances. How's Crista?"
"Dumbledore captured Voldemort after you passed out," Carter stated.
"But that isn't what I asked."
"Zia…" Carter avoided her hard gave.
"No." He grimaced. "Oh my gods." Zia leaned back, eyes closed and hands over her mouth. Throwing her head back, she hit it against the metal bedposts. "She's…" Zia couldn't bring herself to say it. Dead.
She and Crista had never really been all that close. They had more of one of those we-knew-of-each-other-and-now-have-met-through-our-mutual-friends kind of relationship. Yet it was still a blow, a shock.
They sat in silence for a few moments.
"What's the date," she asked, blinking back a few rebel tears.
"The tenth," said Carter, looking as if he wanted to reach out and hug her, yet didn't know how she would react.
"I've been out for a week?"
"I'm not all that surprised." Hesitantly, Carter brushed a few strands of hair from Zia's face. "According to Dumbledore, it wasn't hard to subdue Voldemort when he got there. You had weakened him a lot."
"Carter? Is she awake yet?" a soft voice called from the doorway on the far side of the room.
"She and I have been trading off on keeping an eye on you," Carter said, then called through the sea of white curtains. "She's awake, Luna."
"Thank God," the petite blonde all but ran over, then threw her arms gently around Zia's shoulders.
"I'm fine," Zia insisted without prompting.
"Sure you are," Luna replied. "You're just being stubborn."
"No, I'm not. I. Am. Fine!"
"Relax, Zia," said Carter. "I'm going to get Madam Ponfrey. Try not to antagonize each other too much, okay?"
"Me, antagonize her?" Luna grinned. "More like the other way around."
Shaking his head, Carter disappeared from Zia's cell.
"So, what've I missed?" Zia prompted.
"Oh, I don't know… just enough for you to get held back a year."
"Oh well." Zia shrugged. "I was behind to begin with."
"Ah. Well, Dumbledore told the teachers to excuse you from the finals that you didn't take before you went out cold. Something about memory issues or brain stress being bad for your recovery. "
"Good. I don't have the time to take anything, do I?"
Luna nodded. "We go home tomorrow."
"Anything else I should know about?"
Luna looked away, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. "It's scary how you know something's up," she confessed.
"Carter told me about Crista."
"He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has openly joined with Apophis and Kronos," Luna said. "The Mininstry has contacted the First Nome, and Egyptian and Greek gods. The Egyptians and some magicians have all said that they'll help, but we haven't heard anything from the Greeks. Most of the demigods are convinced that they'll say yes, but…"
"You can never predict what the gods are going to do," Zia finished. "I get it."
"Chiron doesn't want to anger the gods by bringing you, Carter, or Sadie to Camp just yet, so Carter said that you can come stay at the 21st Nome. I think Feyda and Mel are going with you, too."
"Wonderful," said Zia. "I wish Madame Ponfrey would hurry up. I want to go home."
"The thing is, I am. I'm going back to the First Nome before the 21st."
"I need to visit an old friend."
Several hours later, the scene was strikingly similar. Zia and Luna sat together, talking, yet they were rattling away from the Hogwarts Infirmary. In one of the dozens of plush compartments on the Hogwarts Express, the two were joined by Feyda, Mia, Ginny, and Neville. As their conversation became more and more dull, Zia's mind began to wander. Three worlds that had been separated for a reason hundreds of years before were about to be mashed together again. She knew there were a number of motives, but failed to recall what they were. Zia wondered for a moment longer, then realized with a start that she was about to find out the hard way. And she was rooted in the middle of it.
She had been told that it was too risky, and Zia knew that they were right.
The thing was… she needed to have a bit of closure in her life before moving onto focusing on the war effort. Carter, Luna, Sadie, and Mel were speaking in hushed tones a few feet behind her, probably plotting how they were going to get out now that they'd proven to her that she couldn't get anywhere close enough to really pay her last respects. Any magician who flooded the First Nome after the plea for help from the British Ministry of Magic, terrified, would be able to see through a cloaking spell or Harry's invisibility cloak- if he even agreed to lend it to her. Zia hadn't asked. Instead, long, dark cloaks shielded the five of them from the sun's rays and intruding eyes, and an alley served the purpose of a window into the world she lived in not a year before.
The world who now thought that she'd gone rogue.
Standing a few feet away from the mausoleum where the man who had been her mentor lay, Zia knew that it was the best she was going to get. No flowers, no looking down at the placard that read
June 15, 50 B.C.- December 27, 2009 A.D.
Chief Lector, Mentor.
Until we win this war and show the First Nome that Apophis really is a threat, I'll go, she thought. When we do, I'll be back.
A/N: I thought I finished this, but I wasn't sure. The chapter 15 I had on my computer wasn't finished, and there was originally not chapter 16, so I wrote this, but wanted to avoid putting in the scene at Isklander's grave because I thought that I did that in a different fic and didn't want to repeat it… oh well!