Chapter 39

Far, far away in the Andes, something shifted. It was a small shift, undetectable by even the most sensitive dark detectors. But Brooke de Black felt it, though she did not know what it meant, and she opened her eyes.

But the world looked the same.

His eyes were on her again, appraising the long lithe lines of her body, slowly sliding over her hair, her shoulders, breasts and downwards. She closed her eyes again.

Somewhere deep there was still a little, very, very little, of the tremendous will power that had once formed Brooke de Black. She had kept him away for this long despite everything.

He often turned the Black Wand on her, mocking her, daring her to disobey, and its heat, radiance and sheer power of evil kept her locked in her own corner and in her own thoughts. Slowly, slowly over the course of the last two years he had broken much of her spirit and trained her will and her abilities to follow where he would lead.  She had not always been a good pupil, not as willing as her friend, her cousin, though it still even now seemed odd to call Gemini Taurus her cousin. But there was only so much rebellion an already broken mind could perform.

It was a most peculiar sensation to be wanted as another woman. To be wanted as her mother. She knew that as she lay on her couch, in the ridiculous flowing robes he forced her to wear at all times, that he was looking not at Brooke but at Daiva Danuliete, twenty years before.

She hated him. With every part of her being she was filled with hatred for this man with whom she must live, with whom she must serve. The man who had killed her mother.

And now, recently, another voice had started to persistently break into her lethargy.  A voice which whispered urgently of a way out, of a way to capture power. Brooke did not want to know, she no longer cared enough to get up off the couch. If she knew that man was dead she would be quite happy to die herself. There was nothing to live for. But still the voice persisted and she knew it was the voice of her cousin Gem.

High up in the Andean mountains, where the peaks touched the stars and birds cawed, was where they hid. Hid.

Gem had watched Prince’s eyes move over Brooke, watched as Brooke closed her own and turned away. She admired her; Brooke didn’t want what she had been taught to believe she wanted. Through the little moments that made her Gem, and not the dark Enchantress she had become, she could remember how she and Brooke were always too much like each other for their own good.

Now, it seemed, they were nothing at all like each other. No matter. However different they were now, she would not let Prince do to her what he did to Brooke. There was too much flickered emotion in her to allow it, to allow him.

Her father had not been much help, he was hiding elsewhere with his pretty wife. Disgusting. Danuliete was not much use to her either, where ever she was, congratulating herself probably. Gem had tried many times, but she could never once bring her self to call Danuliete mother, and even to call Brooke cousin was like calling black white. It was strange, distant, unreal.

Outside on the balcony, the clouds sewing tiny pearls to her clothes, Gem surveyed the surroundings. This was where the might of the dark arts was hiding its tail between its legs, sulking. She turned to look at Brooke, laid out on the couch, broken. Gem padded over to her and knelt down beside her.

“Brooke” she whispered, “Brooke!”

Brooke did not stir, at least not the way Gem wanted her to. Gem had made her decision. The calling of the wand, the immense adrenaline she felt when it touched her, was too much to give up to a man, a man she had once considered a god and now considered a pervert.

“Come on Brooke, I need your help. We have to escape from here. I know you want to.”  It was the memories that did it, the memories that made her smile when she saw Brooke look at her like that. This was going to happen. It really was.

Sometimes Brooke did not know if the voice was inside or outside her mind. But it kept on relentlessly, day in and day out, the same whispered, repeated strains. The voice spoke of renewed hope and confidence in a future, of escape, of a new life.

A voice of hope.

Yet Brooke closed her eyes and closed her mind. She knew the voice was Gem’s, and she knew what Gem was, too. While Brooke had battled, Gem had burnt. While Brooke had defied, Gem had destroyed. Her friend, her so-called-cousin was not to be trusted. She was a killer, natural-born rather than forced. Or at least so Brooke believed, so the evidence of the few torturous years had led her to believe.

She could not trust her.

Yet whom could she trust?  And was there really any way out?

Brooke doubted it. She herself had been over a million plans in the first few months of captivity. He was too strong. He had been one of the most powerful wizards in the world before the wand – and now – impossible – impractical – doomed.

There was no point in anything. Brooke lay down passively to the world. There was no point in anything.

Yet over the days, weeks, months – the passage of time was very blurred and impossible to say – the voice became increasingly urgent, and one day it suggested something which made Brooke de Black open her eyes and answer.

“That may just work,” she said.

She felt sick.

“No” snapped Gem as Brooke tried to roll away and block her out, “Listen to me Miss De Black! Things have to happen soon.” She was not going to let this plan fail; not now that there was hope for their escape, for their freedom.

For years now she had waited. Waited every day with hope that tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, Prince would finally become the great wizard he had once been, and they would actually do something. She had watched as he had degenerated into a worn out shell of a wizard, lost in his languished desire for Daiva. She did not remember what had happened exactly, just that one moment she was on one side of the fence, next on the other, good, evil.

It was such a thin line.

There were days when she remembered which day was different from the others, when Gem would want to reach out, touch her other life and other self. She wanted Brooke to open up to her, talk about things they had used to do when they were just friends, rather than children of an evil lineage.

Today, however, Brooke was just being difficult. She was weak now, too weak to care, to move, to feel, but she kept on resisting what Gem had to get through to her.

“Brooke,” Gem leaned in close again, making her listen. “There is only one way we can get out of here, you know that way don’t you.”

No reply. It was true though, there was not a hope in the Kingdom of Hell that he would allow either his star pupil or his star prize to go away and leave him. He was terrible and great, but without Daiva or her daughter, Prince was nothing more than a wizard with an itch.

“We could have it you know. You’ve felt it, I’ve felt it. We both want it, Brooke, even if you’re too weak to admit it. Remember the touch of it? The electric?”

Brooke turned away again. Gem sighed. If only she could see her reasons, feel what Gem felt.  Gem had lived on the edge all of her life, she got off on the thrill of being in danger, of defying the odds. To steal it, to have it to herself, to feel the energy rush!

There was only one other thing like that.  The rush of air, the fear of heights, the weightlessness, the way you soared through the sky. It could only be a broomstick ride that did that. But this was a thousand times more intense, it rattled her brain, made her dizzy, made her want more and more. There was the small consequence of power, but it was nothing she could not handle. She was strong now and she could have Brooke’s help if she would listen!

“What do you say?”

“What do you want from me then?” Brooke asked listlessly. “I shouldn’t be overly optimistic if I were you. But we do not exactly have much to lose, and the way I see this, the risk is mainly mine, anyway. If you don’t manage this in time, have you actually thought about what happens to me?”  She asked and turned her head slowly to regard Gem. Her dark hollow eyes appraised her and she gave a short sharp laugh.

“No, I guess not,” she said. “But,” she added, “That’s not what interests you is it.”

“Don’t be so sure of yourself,” said Gem harshly as she got to her feet. She paused for a while, listening around. He was not listening, she knew that. One day had unleashed her from her oath of never entering other minds and of never sensing their movements. No, he was not listening. She cast her eye over Brooke. “I have many motives and despite what you may think one of them actually is getting us both out of here alive”

It was true to an extent, despite everything. When she finally found Danuliete (that is if the hag had not completely disappeared off the face of the planet) she’d have to have Brooke as a back up, and when it came to the final part of the plan, a second person would make her a lot easier to believe, she had to admit her record with these kinds of things were not exactly brilliant.

“You’re my distraction, cousin dear.” she added the last part on second thought, intent on sarcasm and insult. It seemed Brooke took it.

“But don’t worry about it, it’s easy as pie. I’ll be in and out like a flash, and we’ll be heading out of Peru within a matter of seconds”

Yes, thought Brooke, but what if it doesn’t work out like that, what if you aren’t able to get in, or to get out, what if he doesn’t take the bait.

She knew that in all probability Gem was reading her mind anyway, and she didn’t care, didn’t bother to keep the doubt and disdain out of her wordless thoughts.

What if cousin dear, you are in fact wrong.

It all seemed too easy, too facile when Gem explained it. But Brooke was near the limits of all tolerance and she was bent now to the will of others.

“Tell me when. I shall do it,” she said and flicked her hand away for silence, for a degree of peace.

Spineless, weak, foolish. Gem’s blood boiled as Brooke flicked her hand at her, but on the outside she stayed calm. She had no right to command Brooke. Still, if the plan were to succeed, she couldn’t kill her now.

All right, cousin dear. Wait for it, it’s coming very, very soon.

On the outside, she supposed, the plan looked easy, but when you considered the months of careful planning, of the building of power and of outside friends…No. It had not been easy, but always one to rise to a challenge, she had been on top form.

Sneaking away from the hide out, from Prince, had been easy. There were messages he needed to send to others through Muggle post, where no official in his right mind would have the inkling to look, and of course they were covered in all sorts of spells.

Then there were the things Gem needed for herself, ingredients and books. She had worked so hard on the small group of her inner circle, the wizards that would form her army and would conquer the world for her empire without question. There had been the endless research into Prince’s defenses, into breaking the spells and twisting the charms he had placed in understandable quantities around it. She smiled, a grotesque sort of twist at the edge of her mouth, her sly eyes looking back to Brooke, lying vulnerable on the sofa, as she returned to her place on the Balcony.

You will have to learn, Brooke dear, I am never wrong.

Yes, indeed, the world had shifted.

As Brook and Gem discussed their plans, Prince waited and watched.

He always watched, now. Every breeze, every whisper- he saw it. He listened.

There was something about the power of it that struck a resonating, deep chord in Prince John Paul. It was always there, humming softly, a reminder of what he had, what he held.

The Black Wand.

It was incredible, a force that held him captive far more than he held it. The Wand had consumed all of his power and bound him to it. He wielded it; it wielded him.

There was no way to explain the rush, the glory of it, how it magnified his senses until he could not bear the pain. But he wanted that, he wanted to be stronger than any wizard alive, more awe-inspiring than a god; he wanted the capabilities it offered, this was what he had worked for, dreamed for, to be king with his queen, untouchable, perfect, immortal. To rule.

The original dream had been slightly different, true. Before he had any idea of what the Wand was, what it really was, Prince had plotted. Hogwarts would fall first. The British Ministry would follow, the Wizengamot, the world. All of that would have could have happened in a year. Daiva, Danuliete, Derek, Brooke, and the Gem would have controlled it all before the anniversary of the birth of the Black Wand. Yes, that had been the plan.

But Daiva had fallen and Prince had united with the Black Wand. Priorities changed. Oh, he would still conquer. It would still fall. Yet before that happened there were goals to accomplish. Prince needed to master the wand; he needed to learn its secrets.

In the first few seconds after recreating it, he had realized that while the Wand offered limitless power, if he did not understand it, it would destroy him. The raw energy would have filled him to the brim, until there was no more room for it, and then spilled over. So he unlocked the barriers slowly, allowing the magic to filter into his veins until he could absorb it, and stand to take a little more.

He held it all now. Every mystery of the wand was twisted into his flesh and muscle, imbued in his brain and heart. It snaked through him so much that he was less human than wand, a mutant hybrid of flesh and wood. He looked no different; his eyes were still black, his hair as well. He was still proud and cruel, condescending and charming.

They didn’t know. Didn’t realize, and he did not enlightened them. They thought he hid, that he was broken without Daiva, that they were going no where, and that he was a coward. None knew what he was waiting for.

The partner and Danuliete drifted off, but he kept the girls. He toyed with Daiva’s brat, broke her. The traitor he taught but the lessons were empty. She would never have use for power. He held it all.

And so he watched. He was ready now, this was no longer time spent in preparation. He could take the world tomorrow. But no, the Wand whispered. No. It was not just time.

He watched and he waited. For what, not even he knew.

Gemini Taurus was not one to leave things to chance. So while she waited on her weak cousin to follow instructions, she planned other ways to gain the power of the Black Wand. It would be hers, soon.

Her black rimmed, green cat-like eyes flickered in the darkness and mist. They shone like beacons made brighter by the hate that fueled them. All was silent except for the jungle noises that were comforting in the lonely darkness. The bird cawing some way off was not going to live much longer, though, if it continued that sound.

Another pair of eyes appeared.  These were grey and cold and exactly what she was waiting for. She felt the heat of his breath against her neck, made colder than usual by the mist, before he spoke to her.

“Must we keep meeting like this?” It was a playful question, but not one that was meant to be answered. His black hair tickled the side of her face and he bent down to speak to her. She turned as his arms closed around her.

“Once I have it, we can meet in a Palace of gold,” she murmured.  His eyes lost the playfulness and a look appeared on his face that showed less than belief.

If, you mean” he replied. She frowned but tangled one of his black strands around her little finger.

“O, ye of little faith! It’s all arranged darling, don’t worry about a thing” She bent forward and gave him a slight kiss. His eyes moved down on her but stopped half way, and he shook his head.

“It’s hard to forget, when someone like him is watching.” She scoffed, but her face returned to her wide-eyed temptress look in a flash.

“Forget about him,” she soothed, purring, “He’s weak, he’s nothing. You however…” She walked her fingers up his arm and ran her palm down a stubbled cheek. He laughed, kissed her and ran a scarred hand through her hair. She stopped him.

“Not tonight, there are things to do. If the second part of the plan doesn’t work…but you know that.”  He nodded. He knew all too well. “Well dear, run along. You have work to do.”

He looked at her, bemused. There had been no instructions in the letter save of that to meet her here, at midnight, to talk. Talking was all she ever did; it was him who was out there doing her dirty work. But there was no way he could be angry with her, no way he could resist the emerald eyes.

“Find her. I need to know where she is.”  She said, as though he should have known this already. He was wary. Gemini was enough on her own, more than just a handful for him; what an older, more experienced her could do he did not want to find out.

He had been assured that she was nothing like her mother. Then again, from past experiences he knew what a very, very, very good liar she could be. She shooed him away with an affection flick of the hand, but he did not get far.

“Oh, Marcus!” she called in that voice that left him no choice but to turn and look at her. “Do hurry! I have a feeling something is going to happen very soon!” She smiled at him slyly then disappeared into the mist.

He trudged on, thinking to himself bitterly, You would have that feeling, you’re going to make it happen!

It had to happen today.

Brooke lay down in her usual place, her beautiful, hateful gown flowing gracefully down to the jasper floor. Her eyes were closed, her skin marbled and pale. The Quidditch tan of yesteryear had long since faded and Brooke was a shadow of her former self in many ways. Yet this day her breathing was shallow and her finger nails dug into her palms, leaving unsightly weals across her palms.

Today. It had to be today. Brooke de Black steeled her heart and opened her eyes. He was looking. Of course he was looking. She smiled a long slow smile.

“John Paul,” she murmured her voice low and filled with the dusky night. She sat up slightly, leaning on one arm. Brooke at twenty-one was indeed the image of Daiva Danuliete twenty years earlier, and it was this which she had to rely on, the effect of this power she unwittingly possessed. She held out her arm towards him and looked all things under her eyes.

It must work, she would not, could not countenance the idea of failure, of a sacrifice made in vain.

The voice of her cousin reverberated in her head, yet Brooke almost mistrusted Gemini’s motivation as much as the smooth talking man in front of her. But all was black and she was too weak, this was her last, gasping, resistance.

Brooke felt his grasp on her and desperately fought to keep her mind away, far, far away. His hands were clawing, pawing and Brooke turned her head.

She thought of her childhood home, in the forest of Anyskai; she thought of her friends from long ago. She thought of Ren, of V, of Jay, of Echo, of Crystal, of Hogwarts School where she had passed so many happy years.

Her robe was torn and Brooke looked down desperately. Where had he put it? Was this all for nothing? She felt cheap. Her pride was on the floor. You, she said to herself, you make me sick Brooke de Black.

She couldn’t see it, where oh where for the love of all things even vaguely good, where was the Black Wand?

She heard his voice in her ear, whispering her mother’s name.

I think I may be sick, she thought. Just then something completely unexpected happened.

“Here,” said a voice, which seemed to come from inside Brooke’s own mind, but it was certainly not her own voice.

“What?” Brooke said, and as JP turned his attention to her face, she realized she had spoken out loud. Trying to force a smile she shook her head vaguely, and he seemed satisfied.

“Over here,” the voice said again.

Great, thought Brooke, and grimaced.  On top of everything else I am going insane. Well I suppose it had to happen eventually.

“You want me. You want me,” said the voice. “Take me,” it said, and the voice was becoming mesmeric, hypnotizing in her head. The voice outside and the voice inside blending into one horrific whole.

Then she saw it.

The Black Wand.

Prince John Paul paused, staring languidly at Brooke, the expression in his eyes bordering between hungry and tender. His gaze was hollowed, less predatory and older than it had ever been, and the hair that fell to his shoulders was entirely grey. He was not the man he once was.

Prince had wanted power, and he had received it. He had searched his entire life for the wand, he had murdered for it, plundered for it, shredded his skin for it. And then he had found it. Power! Glory! A dream fulfilled!

Prince had not known it would destroy him.

But slowly, ever so slowly, it did. It penetrated every fiber of his being, and Prince welcomed it, convinced that when it was a part of his DNA, like a second arm or leg, he could command it fully. Now the infusion was complete. Prince had no more to give the wand, and it had no more to give him. It owned him. It compounded his strength, but then sapped it down to the quick. It left only his weaknesses, splayed open, reeking of decay, egregious and obvious. Daiva was a weakness.

Prince had loved that girl more than power itself, when he knew what love was. She was beautiful, and promising, a shadow he had chased with every ounce of love he possessed. When she spurned him for deBlack, it twisted his innarders. He had thought he had her back, there in the moments before the wand, but deBlack had stolen her again.

Oh, but Prince had her here now. He could finger her black hair, trace a hand along her jaw, and feel her heartbeat she was so close. Prince had Daiva now. She was his to take.

He let one hand fall to her waist, and something inside him shifted, like water breaking free of a damn. He coughed, light-headedness swallowing him. He could not see. He was lost in the darkness he had created, and his Daiva disappeared.

“No!” He screamed, fighting against it, unaware of what he was fighting against, unaware that the wand was loosening its grip.

The voices in Brooke’s head jumped up and down and bounced in her skull. A confused mass of chattering, yelling, screaming, she wanted to grab her hair and shake her head to force out the torrent of words which were drowning her.

“Me!” yelled one voice in a loud and clamorous roar.

Here, here!” squeaked another, whilst a third boomed, “Now, now, now is the time,” in a deep and sonorous tone. Other minor players seemed merely to be screaming in the background.

And whilst her mind was roaring and her body sunk into the blackest shame and degradation, Brooke thought she saw the wand move. Every so slightly it seemed to shake, to vibrate, to move upwards out of the pocket of Prince’s midnight robes.

And her eyes were transfixed. One hand stretched tremulously behind JP’s back as Brooke leaned, stretched every fiber of her Keeper’s reach. And she saw its beauty, and she saw it shine.

And from a desire to rid herself of her mother’s killer, from a desire to be free only, to obey her cousin, to leave this place forever, from out of all these worthy desires one word formed in her mouth and then on her lips. Brooke’s fingertips touched the Black Wand and it leapt into her hand.

“Mine,” she said.

The damn broke. The wand let go of Prince, it flew away, and he could see again. His gaze fogged over as he stared at Brooke, who was not his Daiva. There was a sparse second when his hand pulled up, to smite Brooke with all of the power of a God, but his hand never fell.

Prince collapsed, buckling on top of Brooke. He twitched, muscle spasms wracking his body. His fingers snatched at the air, his legs moved as though running, but it was the throes of a coach roach with its head cut off. Prince was not dead, but neither was he alive.

As the magic of the Black Wand flowed out of him, into Brooke, his strength and his spirit did as well. Prince was lost to himself. He had become what he most dreaded: powerless. Now he was only a part of the circle, he was one of the voices of the Black Wand, a soul in the endless pool of the dead. He came, shrieking from his body, and into the wand.

“No! Don’t! No, Brookey, no!” In an instant of love for deBlack’s offspring- the girl who should have been his own- he tried to stop his fate from happening to her. Maybe she heard him when she gripped the wand. But the other voices soon drowned out his roars.

“Hush.” They whispered. “Power. Hush.” Prince joined them, now lost in the torrent, now lost in ages upon ages of torment.

As Brooke prepared to change her destiny, Gem was far away, watching and preparing her own plans.

The shadow Brooke and Prince danced on the hillside and Gem watched with evil, hungry eyes, her plan beginning. Once she was satisfied her wretched cousin would go through with it, she made her way to a clearing in the rain forest a little way off. Torches and brands were burning bright through the midnight mist that easily led her way. Once there she opened an invisible door and vanished into nowhere.

The Hall of Shadows, as she had aptly named it, was the only place she could be sure Prince was not watching her.  Tonight, he would have his mind occupied with our things, so she was certain of her secrecy.

A group of wizards and witches stood around a magnificent fire place at the other end of the hall. It was at least half the height of the wall, large enough perhaps to roast an elephant, and had carvings of demons, hags and ghouls guarding it. The room went quiet when she entered, and a hushed atmosphere of something coming to an end, but something else beginning, swept the hall.

“Good evening” she said calmly, approaching the first wizard. His named was Foster and she despised him. He was weak, pale and always ill, shaking and crawling like an insect along her floor to grovel at her feet. She hated weak men more than she hated anything else.

“Oh get up you toad” she whispered menacingly. He did as he was told with no questions, only a stumbling apology. She only kept him because he was talented.

“As you may have guessed,” she took Marcus’ hand and let him kiss her on the cheek,  “The plan is in action. Prince is weak now and that little turd will get me that wand and then…” She laughed cruelly at the thought of the growth of her power.

“…then we are in charge. I have told you all before what you will receive from me when I am all powerful. Eternal life, wealth and happiness for as long as you serve me.”

There was a muffled cheer of sheer joy and terror at her promises and threats. “You are all talented, that is why I have let you in, and you all serve the dark side of magic that brings us power. Without power you are weak and so I assure you, there will be nothing but bliss when I have my empire.”

Satisfied once more at the loyalty of the spineless toads, save Marcus, that she commanded, she began to discuss with him whether or not he had succeeded. He had not; of course, she knew that before he said it. After all, even a warlock like Marcus couldn’t find someone like her.

Slightly annoyed, but being benevolently merciful, she let Marcus beg for his life.  It was pitiful, in all the ways she hated, but she let him. He thought that after all the power she sought had been gained she would give her heart to him and they would be “happy”, and “in love”. It would not happen, but while he was useful to her, she would let him believe it would.

Conjuring a large mirror onto a side wall of the Hall, she cast a spell that allowed her to see in through a mirror placed on the wall of the chalet. She did not watch, but sent the nervous wreck Foster to monitor her cousin’s progress.

In the mean time she amused herself with Marcus and with wondering what to wear on her final trip back to Hogwarts- right before she crushed it.

As Foster squirmed in front of the magical glass, peering frantically at his mistress every few seconds, but not daring to take his other eye of the image, Gem flipped through a leather bound book.

“I think I shall have a new name.”  She pondered. Now she was about to become the most powerful enchantress (not witch, for that was crude and well below her) she could not use the name Gemini. She had lived with the name far too long already and here was her chance to put a real name down in history.

“What do you think Marcus dear?”

Marcus, unsure of what to say, just nodded and watched as her fingers flipped over lightly the parchment pages.  When she found one she liked, they sparked blue, which frightened him the most.

“Perhaps an African one? Marcus? Marcus?” The look she gave him could have killed him on the spot, had he not instantly turned his head away from her Medusa-like stare.

“Yes, if you want it.”  He whispered.

“I do want it.”  She went over to him and perched herself on his knee, with her arms round his neck.

“What do you think it should be?” She summoned the book with a twitch of an ice-cold spark. “How about Chanya, meaning mystery?” Marcus looked up at her with cool grey eyes. Mystery suited her, he could never understand the things she did, but he shook his head. The Enchantress Chanya did not have a ring to it.

“Kesi – born when the father had difficulties. Well there’s appropriate, my father must have had awful difficulties to find my mother.” She laughed and the rest joined in with enthusiasm, except Foster who cringed.

“Layla, born at night? Or how about…Prophecy. Ooh I like it Marcus, don’t you?” He looked up again, his scarred hands tracing the outline of her face.

“Suits you,” he said. She let him kiss her, and returned to her place beside the other wizards that warmed themselves by the blaze.

Prophecy’s green eyes glowed with sparkled delight until Foster, pale and sweaty tapped her on the shoulder.

“What?” she demanded.

“Prophecy,” thank goodness for the boy’s quick thinking, “Enchantress. I think she has it.”

Her eyes glowed even brighter as she pushed him aside and examined the mirror. She was so close her fingers were outstretched for it. Prophecy willed her on with all the power in her soul.

Get it for Prophecy now, Brooke, go on, Take It.

“Prophecy.”  It was the weak, quavering voice that was invariably Foster, again.

“What is it this time?” Foster turned, a nervous, excited and terrified look on his face.

“She’s got it, Enchantress. She’s got the wand!”

Prophecy sprung to her feet, pushing aside Foster in her rush to see for herself. Her fingers closed around its magnificent beauty and Prince seemed to slump into a limp form.

Before Prophecy heard, “No! Don’t! No, Brookey, no!” she had apparated and was in between Brooke and Prince in an instant – her followers close behind.

“Brooke!”

Prophecy held out her hand for the wand that sparked energetically in her shaking fist. Her own fingertips sparked blue lightning as the anticipation of her receiving the wand and the wand receiving her. There was an instant where Prophecy thought of the marvelous things she would do with it in her possession.

She would descend on Hogwarts like an angry goddess, intent on revenge for the blasphemy of her people. Each and everyone one of those crawling little worms would cower before her and she would make each pay for the personal injuries they had done her. First to go would be those who protested and rejected her claim to power and with the power she would have, it would be as easy as flying.

Her eyes refocused on Brooke and then on Prince’s seemingly dead eyes. She shook her head at him and then went back to Brooke, holding out her hand once more.

“Come on Brooke, we have things to do. Give it to me Brooke.”

Brooke was lying on the floor.  In her weakened state she had crashed off the chaise lounge when Prince had slumped twitching and prostrate on top of her. They both lay now on the floor and her cousin stood in between with a whole host of other creatures behind. She stood powerful, reaching for the wand in Brooke’s grasp.

“Give it to me Brooke,” she said bending down and Brooke looked up. The glint in Gem’s eyes was greedy now, the power that was so nearly hers surging in her blood. But it wasn’t hers, she did not have it.

“Mine, mine, mine,” sang the voices in Brooke’s head. “Keep it, you want it, you have it, keep it, mine, have, hold, mine, keep, want, have, keep, mine, mine, mine, me, power, hold, MINE!” screamed the voices and Brooke stood up slowly but firmly, still holding the Wand tightly, ever so tightly in her own hand. She looked wretched, her gown ripped, her hair wild, and she was so thin and wasted from months, years of being forced to lie down, to do nothing but be the plaything in the corner. She faced her cousin.

Brooke looked her straight in the eyes and some of her old power and strength of character seemed to be returning visibly as the seconds flew by. No one moved except for the odd flutter of wings and shuffling of hooves from the monstrosities surrounding Gemini. The surge and greed of the wand was renewing her with power and she heeded no warning gasp from JP and no deadly looks from Gem.

“It’s mine,” said Brooke.

And disapparated.

Being almost swept up in the visions of her future glory, Prophecy hardly noticed the look that meant defiance on her cousin’s face. Before Prophecy had fully taken hold of the situation Brooke had disappeared from under her finger tips.  She would not take it lightly.

With a scream that curdled blood she rose from her knees and, in an instant, shot a spell she from her fingers across the room at Foster. The poor boy hardly stood a chance at living with the awesome power that Prophecy visited her vengeance with. It had not been Foster’s fault, save that he had joined with her to begin with. With his body on the floor and the rest, except Marcus who was too arrogant in his own power, looked spineless and pale.

“Don’t look at me like that” she barked to a witch who had a mixture between a cringe and disgust on her face. She immediately looked away, staring blithely at the candle-sticks in the corner.

Then suddenly, sharply, Prophecy knew where the little serpent had gone.

Where was it that Brooke and herself had spent their childhood? Had grown up? Had encountered time after time the evil forces against their seemingly good intentions? It was perfect, killing two birds with one stone.

Brooke was at Hogwarts and where Brooke was so was the wand. She could destroy her wretched cousin and the worms at the school in a single blow, and it would satisfy her greatly to do so.

“Marcus. We’re moving.”

He looked up at her in horror. Surely after losing it she wasn’t going to continue her campaign anyway?

“Where to?”

“Scotland.”  Prophecy said smugly, turning on her heal. “And we’re going to find the little wretch and we’re going to get that wand and there’s nothing that you…”

She pointed at the slumped figure of Prince with a sneer that made her green eyes glint with hatred.

“…can do to stop me.”

With that she vanished with an intended sparkle and Marcus marveled at her. She was a true goddess, with a strength that bewildered him. He beckoned the others to follow and they were gone – but they would reappear very soon. Hogwarts would not be safe for long.

Brooke apparated with a crack and promptly fell over. She was weak and unused to any form of exertion. Really speaking it was somewhat of a miracle that she had managed to disapparate at all, having only ever really accomplished it for a brief period of time three years ago when she and her friends were all taking their tests together.

But the ground was wet and filthy and cold and Brooke soon pushed herself up. She had landed in a puddle right in front of a huge and imposing set of iron gates. It had been the work of a moment that she had ended up here, back at Hogwarts School. There had been no fixed plan in her mind, no awareness indeed of any future. To get the wand off Prince, to give it to Gem and to leave was as far as it had extended. And even that had seemed a dream.

As she pushed up she stood on the tattered remnants of the stupidly inappropriate, silken Medieval type dress, and it tore completely in half. Brooke hardly seemed aware of the fact that she was now semi naked on a blustery English day. She leaned against the gates, but they did not move. She pushed harder. Nothing. Then seriously she rattled at the center, shoved her pitiful mass against the iron as hard as she could. Nothing. Not a movement, not a creak. She swung the wand around. A stream of molten lava sprang out and smashed the ground, just missing her feet.

“Dammit,” said Brooke out loud and began for no apparent reason to giggle. And when she started, she just could not stop. Everything seemed inexplicably funny. Standing in a puddle, having the Wand, having disapparated in front of Gem’s face, the puddle, the lava, the gates, the grass. Everything was utterly hysterical. Giggles hiccupped through her nose and her sides ached with mirth.

“Open sesame!” Brooke snorted and aimed at the gates, using something stupid she had once read in a muggle book. Unsurprisingly nothing happened, so the semi-naked Brooke set about trying to climb the gates. They were very high and very, very slippery. Progress was nil. Every time she climbed half a meter she slid straight back down again.

“Oh please let me in,” she pouted childishly, smacking the gate with the wand.

It sprung open.

Brooke walked back into Hogwarts School.

It was not a small walk from the gates to the school. Hogwarts grounds were vast and spread out over many different terrains. Brooke had no shoes on and not enough grip on reality to conjure herself any- even if she could manage to utilize the Black Wand, which, in itself, was doubtful. Her feet became torn and mud embedded itself into the cuts, along with a variety of stones, twigs and mosses.

She was tired, bone tired and weary. She was weak and pitifully thin. Everything ached and her head ached most of all. But there was a sort of grim determination in her to get there, to arrive. Not that she had a plan when she arrived, she just had to- to get there. It was enough for now.

Every now and then she lifted her arm a fraction to gaze at the Wand she was clutching. She did not want it, of course she did not want it. Couldn’t wait to be rid of it. Oh, but oh, it was magnificent and she felt the throb and pulse of the life force. The power lines were in her blood, the blood of the three Danuliete sisters danced in her veins too. Druscilla, Dana and Daiva looked out of her eyes and she felt the desire and she felt the greed. All of this could be hers.

And why not. Wasn’t she as good a witch as her cousin? Could not Brooke be as powerful? But of course she did not want it. It was a dirty, filthy object. This wand had killed her mother! This wand made her sick. But it was so pretty. Such a precious thing. No one must see she had it. She must sneak it in carefully, carefully now.

Brooke reached the door of Hogwarts Castle. Feebly she pushed and it swung open to her slightest touch. Half-clad and more than half-mad Brooke walked in and slid down the nearest wall to the floor. Her breathing was shallow and harsh, pink patches flared on her cheeks.

Echo kicked a small pebble idly against the wall as she strolled down the halls. Her long brown hair was pulled back in a silky braid that fell to her backside. Her face looked slightly pale and her eyes had the beginnings of bags underneath them.

Echo Grandine Kiwina had not slept well as of late.

She had had dreams…dreams of fire once again engulfing Hogwarts, dreams of terrible power, dreams of Brooke, Saturn.  Only minutes ago was it that she had fallen asleep grading papers and dreamt something very strong.

There was Gem.  Gem the coach, enemy, rival, mentor, friend, and lastly, turncoat. A sniveling man, a few flashes…I am standing in a room. The room. Brooke’s room. She’s disgusted and looks sick. Hello, what’s this? “Mine.”

Suddenly the man who has taken my sister and friends is in utter anguish and frailty. More flashes. Gem. No. Not Gem. It’s not right…but what is it? She’s sneering and Prince, smiling at Brooke.

But “It’s mine.” Pop. The woman-formerly-known-as-Gem screams and commands someone…

A few strands of light brown hair flipped into Echo’s face as she shook her head anxiously. She had forgone her contact lenses today, being too tired to insert them into her dry eyes. She blinked.

When she opened her eyes, she got quite a shock. Echo had made her way to the front entrance of the school without noticing it. She had been too busy thinking about her dreams and what they could possibly mean. Though deep down, she had a morbid feeling that she knew what they meant. As she rounded the corner and met the sight waiting for her, her ideas were confirmed.

A gaunt, pale creature slumped against the wall, looking as though she had been pelted with mud balls and trashed by the Whomping Willow. Echo, her medic’s instinct kicking in, ran over to the poor girl, pulling off her red cloak to cover her, ready to cry for help.

“Oh my god! Are you all right?” It was a rhetorical question, cliché at best, but Echo knew it was better than to ask them right away what had happened.

She tucked her robe over the disheveled person. Gently she tipped the girl’s chin up and found herself staring through ragged hair into a pair of eyes that she knew. Eyes once bright, now seemingly dull and pained.

She knew the girl slumped before her.

Echo’s mouth gaped open and for a minute she was unable to talk. The world of Hogwarts dropped away leaving her with one finger lightly frozen to Brooke’s bony chin, still staring into a face she once knew.

“Merlin.”

Echo reached forward and wrapped Brooke in a bear hug, then pulled back when she realized how incredibly thin Brooke was. What had she been through? There was no time to waste with more reunion. There would be enough later.

“Come on, Brooke,” she gulped, sweeping her old friend up in her arms. “Let’s go.” She set off at a run, Brooke shockingly light in her arms, toward the Hospital Wing.

The Hospital Wing doors were kicked open roughly with a chunky-heeled boot and Professor Kiwina stepped in, the disheveled figure of a woman wrapped in a red cloak resting in her arms.

She set Brooke’s thin form on a bed very gently, and with a few waves of the wand had the torn clothes piled on the floor and Brooke cleaned up and robed in the standard white hospital pajamas.

Echo then quickly went to work with rolls of gauze and bandages, patching up the various cuts. Not knowing what had happened to Brooke, she was afraid to use magic as it may cause an adverse reaction to the charm cast on her. As she worked, Echo looked at Brooke with pity and anger. She longed to force her awake and figure out what had happened to her and- Echo’s eyes glimmered with fire- Saturn.

Once Brooke’s wounds were dressed, Echo levitated the ripped clothes into a strong plastic sack. They might be a helpful clue. With another flick or two, the bag was tied, the clothes and more sealed inside, the latter unbeknownst to Echo. Lastly, looking at the flushing in Brooke’s cheeks, Echo put a cold towel on her forehead and pulled the blankets over her. Now all Echo could do was wait for her to wake up. The brown-haired medic’s eyes began to tear behind her glasses. Suddenly so much could be found out. Suddenly so much could happen. So many reunions to be had. So much danger.

Brooke was awake, but her eyes remained shut. It was so every day. Every day she awoke lying in bed and knew that when she opened her eyes nothing would have changed, that she would still be there and that he would still be there and that another battle of wills would begin. A battle that Brooke knew she was losing. It had been too long and her will and her powers were being torn within her. So Brooke kept her eyes shut.

But her senses were awake, heightened perhaps even by lack of sight. And she heard a heavy but methodical tred, a small sniffling noise. Perhaps JP was torturing someone else today, she thought with a lifting of the heart. Perhaps today he won’t be wanting me.

Brooke opened one eye the slightest touch and shut it again immediately, her heart beating quickly. Something was very wrong here. What had happened? He must have altered their location during the night, for where were the marbled pillars now? This place was bright white and shiny. And there was someone else in the room, someone Brooke had not recognized. She knew better than to make a fuss however; she did not want to attract any attention, so she lay very still. Perhaps I am dreaming she thought. Or perhaps he has invaded my mind again and this is a place in my subconscious. Yes, yes perhaps so.

She ventured half an eye again and saw someone staring straight at her. Panicked now she opened both eyes and felt for her wand, ready to defend herself. But it wasn’t there!

Brooke sat bolt upright. Now she recalled with a sudden and startling flash. She had escaped! And not only that she had escaped with the Black Wand! Her wand. Hers. Where was it? Someone had stolen it, her most precious thing.

“Where’s my wand?” she shouted. “You!” she pointed at the woman, “You’ve stolen it! Give it to me, where is it, where is it, got to find it, where is it…”

Wildly raving Brooke threw back the bedcovers and attempted to leap out of the high hospital bed.

Echo recoiled defensively at Brooke’s shrill scream. Her stomach also knotted into a tight ball of illness. Brooke didn’t recognize her. Though who could blame her?

Brooke launched out of the bed towards Echo in a flurry of sheets, and Echo’s mind raced. She could let this scrawny lunatic, who was once her friend, attack her in a frenzied search for her wand, or she could stop her and prevent any possibly damage and destruction, yet risk hurting her.

Sorry, Brooke.

Launching herself with surprising force from the chair, Echo tackled Brooke at the waist, but hit a bit higher, just above the stomach. She heard a dull crack resounding from her old friend’s torso and winced. One of Brooke’s ribs had just broken, or fractured at the very least.

It was easy to take Brooke down- she was, as aforementioned, very light. With great difficulty Echo stretched one leg forward and pressed on Brooke’s left wrist. Her right hand now freed, she snatched into a hidden pocket of her very wide-legged tan cargo pants and pulled out her own 14 inch willow wand.

Flicking the tip at Brooke she gasped, “Bondo fragilos!

As she fell back from the bed, ropes which were gentle, yet firm bound Brooke.  Now that Brooke was tied down, Echo let herself flop into the chair, panting, gazing with pity and desperation at the shell of the girl she once knew.

“Brooke, don’t you remember me? It’s Echo. Kiwina. Gryffindor? You know, I snuck into the school in my first year, I had some fantastic freakouts…” Her voice choked, and a tear threatened to spill over her eyelid. She resisted the urge to slap her friend. After all, she had nearly attacked her over a stupid wand.

I mean, what’s so important about a-

Echo’s train of thought was cut off with a lightning bolt of realization. There had been an odd presence about Brooke, something sinister yet tempting. Now it was resonating from her, and simultaneously, the plastic bag where the garments were discarded.

The figure on the bed slipping from her mind, Echo’s thoughts focused on the bag. She stuffed her wand back in her pocket and moved from her chair to the floor in one fluid slide. Crawling towards the bag, she heard… Voices?

“That’s it, open the bag,” a tiny voice shrieked in her ear. “Go on.” Mesmerized, Echo did. The voice’s loudness increased, and the dress seemed to quiver.

“Yes, that’s it.” A new, deeper voice rolled about her head. Echo pushed through the folds of filthy fabric until she reached the target. The voices were now resounding ever so loud. “Take me! Yes!” A chorus hurtled through her mind as she reached forward, blissfully unaware of whatever Brooke was doing. She knew what is was, it was so evil, but yet so beautiful…she willed her mind to stop.

But her fingertips brushed the wand.

Suddenly the need was greater. Why? The voices had not gone away but only continued their chorus as Echo’s gripped the wood in slender fingers.  A trickle of sweat rolled down Echo’s forehead and off an eyebrow, but she didn’t notice. Her fingers were now clenching and unclenching, near but not touching the wand, so close…. Saturn.

With a cry, Echo wrenched her hand away. She felt her back slam against the end of the bed, and the voices stopped. Gasping once again, she looked upwards and bit her lip, making a futile attempt to hold back stemming tears. Oh Brooke, what have you brought here? The dreams were more than dreams. They were visions. Again.

Brooke was bound once more. Bound and helpless. But this was not an uncommon situation and she would have to use all her cunning to get out of it.

She stopped yelling all of a sudden and watched the woman reaching in amongst a bag of rags, reaching for her wand.

So she wanted it did she, wanted to take it and keep it all for herself did she. Well she would have Brooke de Black to reckon with first. It was her precious, pretty, most precious thing.

Hers. The ropes that bound her were light and soft, almost feathery, but Brooke recognized the force of the binding spell and she was too weak to struggle. There was a sharp pain in her side, but then she was accustomed to pain, mental and physical. No, there was no way out but by cunning.

Brooke’s mind began to tick. This person was Echo then. Echo, yes Brooke had some memory of a person called Echo and she dragged it up and considered it.

Echo and dragons, Echo on a field trip, Echo playing Quidditch, Echo and…Yes, that was it. Echo and her sister. Echo…and Saturn.

And suddenly Brooke knew she had a way out. A small smile flickered on her lips.

“I’m sorry Echo,” she said, looking at her former friend on the floor. “Don’t know what came over me then. I’m fine now, you can let me go.”

Her voice was calm and gentle yet she shivered with desire. If she could get out of bed she could get hold of it…It was calling her. Her mind was full of its voices.

Echo let her watering eyes spring open at the sound of Brooke’s suddenly gentle voice. She turned around and peered over the side of the bed at Brooke, who was smiling softly. Echo stood up, her heart heaving a sigh of relief. “You remember me now? Oh thank god,” she said, raising her wand to cancel the spell…

Wait.

The small voice in the back of Echo’s mind perked up with a stern word. She froze in place. She’s up to something, Echo thought. There was still a slight disturbance in the air, and the professor noticed her friend’s hand quivering slightly.

With a gulp, she put away her wand and firmly said, “No.”

“As much as we were good friends, Brooke, I can’t let you take the wand. There’s too much at stake, and,” Echo added, sitting down once again with arms folded across her yellow sweater, “I don’t know if I can trust you.” Now Echo was shaking- she had no idea how Brooke would react.

Brooke clenched her fists tightly, the nails biting into her flesh. So she didn’t want to play ball huh.

“You don’t trust me?” she said with a small frown. “What…what..why would you say that? I’ve never done anything to you, Echo,” her voice reverberated with hurt.

She stopped talking, shook her head and continued in a firmer tone. “And well I am sorry, but you don’t have any authority over me to confiscate my wand. I have been very ill, as you may see and I am really grateful for your help, but I am not a student any longer and you cannot bind me here.”

It was worth a shot to try reason first of all, she thought. And she felt on the whole it was a commendably reasonable speech. Under the circumstances.

Echo looked at Brooke with sympathetic eyes as her old friend spoke.

“Brooke…” Echo sighed and adjusted herself in her chair, her hands on her lap. “Just about two minutes ago you tried to attack me. Now we’re back to being jolly old friends?” She shook her head from side to side, a few tendrils or wavy brown flying free.

“No. It’s not right. While it is true you have never done anything to me…I must digress.”

“Furthermore,” she continued, her voice trembling, “I may not have authority to hold you and confiscate your wand, but I can say that what is among the remains of your dress is not your wand, but a thing of evil that has been responsible for far too many deaths. So, I cannot let you have it.” Echo stood up, gripping the arm of the chair. She felt a little faint, this was too much too soon.

Jason. I’ll go find Jason. Echo’s sudden thought perked her up a bit. Or V. She glanced at her “prisoner” and wondered what she could do about her. She could not guard her all day.

“Brooke, I have to go find friends. Jason and Venus. You know them. For your own sake, please don’t try to escape. I’ll know,” she sighed, and with that left the room, not thinking to stow the bag that contained evil away. Normally Echo would not have missed something so important. But her mind was a muddle of questions and confused answers, so she strolled out, also forgetting that the binding charm had to be restored every few minutes.

Everything in the world was crazy, mad, upside down. Brooke couldn’t work out half the time if she were dreaming or awake. Had she perhaps been stuck in a time warp since she graduated? Whatever were Echo and apparently Venus and Jason doing at Hogwarts school?

Brooke glanced down at herself. Was she 21? 16? 12? It was hard to say. Still Echo, her captor, had rushed off and Brooke could feel the bonds around her weakening. She pushed against them; another few minutes and it would be hers. Another few minutes and she would be free. Reunited. With her most precious wand. Brooke smiled. Such a rudimentary error by her captor.

Posts to be inserted here – Brooke gets wand and eventually gives to Infinity. Somewhere I did write the posts with Infinity. Then losing the wand she loses her mind and her strength and slips into a coma

She opened one eye.

Now you may not think that to be a remarkable sentence. Indeed you may not consider that to be much of an achievement at all.

But if you hadn’t moved at all in months, not so much as the shaking of the head, or the trembling of a hand or even the fluttering of the heart. Well then, you might just have to change your mind a little.

And such was the case now.

She opened one eye.

And shut it again.

For the very movement of life exhausted her to the very marrow of her bones. Her wasted frame could barely support the life that, despite everything, flowed through her veins.

Brooke was skeletal, eaten up from the inside out by dreams and terrors which clamoured in her head. She may not have moved in months, but in her mind she had been reliving events of the past few years over and over and over again with startling clarity. Faces from her past, twisted and warped, played daily in front of her eyes. And one face in particular danced tantilisingly ever closer. The face of her cousin, Gem.

Brooke’s arms burned as she thought of that name. The two red welts burned into her flesh by the black wand seared red.

She opened her eye again.

No more dreams.

“Hello Brooke”

Sitting on the bed right beside her, a shadowy figure was smiling evily at her. Prophecy had decided that her time for action was very close at hand, and that it was time to pay her cousin a little visit. See how fast the witch could run when she was tied to a hosptial bed. Not far she would imagine.

“I see you’ve decided to awaken, took your sweet little time didn’t you? Funny, since the last time we saw each other you were in a quite a hurry”

She reached forward and played with a strand of hair that lay about her shoulders. Brooke didn’t move, Prophecy knew she couldn’t.

“Never mind about that though” she said sweetly, pinching her cheek with her thumb and forefinger. “You’re forgiven. I only need a little something from you, you won’t even need to move”

She caught Brooke’s gaze and held it. Prohpecy knew that it was close by, she could feel it pulsing, its power was seeping into her vains, desperate for someone powerful enought to command it, for it to be used the way it was meant to be. Once she had it, she would storm the school, she would take it and they would all be sorry that they crossed Prophecy.

“Where is the Black Wand?”

She opened one eye.

But the vision remained.

Brooke blinked.

No.

Still there.

And yet for a moment she had truly convinced herself that she was awake and at Hogwarts school. But no, it was all part of the same terrible dream sequence. She just wanted an end to this. An end to it all. To sleep, to sleep and to dream no more.

For here was Gem, her haunting vision, to all intents perched on the edge of her bed and speaking to her. Yet that could not be, for the part of Brooke’s mind that was still vaguely in control of logic and reason told her that Gem, as Prophecy, could not be at Hogwarts School.

Yet her mind was cunning. Oh yes, devious. It was a crafty cunning mind playing tricksy games on Brooke. For dream Gem spoke to Brooke as if she truly had just awoken. And dream Gem touched her. Touched her. Brooke could not move, her limbs and her mind equally helpless, yet she felt quite clearly her vision touch her hair.

I am mad, Brooke thought. Truly I am madder than Dominique Snelly. Madder than a mad fox which is totally mad.

Crazy, gaga, totally insane in the membrane.

Then the vision pinched her.

“Where is the Black Wand?” asked dream Gem and then Brooke knew that somehow, however that may be, that this was not a dream, but something infinitely more sinister. Her arms burned and she looked at Gem properly for the first time. A spark of defiance was back in her dark eyes. A firey bolt shot up the scars on her arms.

So that witch wanted her precious still.

Never.

“Far away from you Gemini Taurus,” Brooke spat. “You’ll never have it, that I promise you.”

Her voice was harsh and croaky, from months of silence. But her meaning was unmistakable.

Prophecy, or her dream form at least, rolled her eyes.

“This is becoming extreemly boring, Brooke. I’m getting tired of hiding out when I should be the ruler of the world. Now, I’m going to ask you again and if you don’t tell me, I am going to have to find another way of getting the information out of you. Is that clear?”

Prophecy didn’t wait for an answer.

“Now for the last time, where is it?”

The entire charade was getting rather dull in Prophecy’s eyes. Too long had she been sheltering in the damp room of the squat Inn in the dingiest town in Scotland. It was her turn to rule the world and her cousin would have to fall in line or get shot down with the rest of them.

At least one of her wretched relatives were shaping up. Crystal had proved very helpful of late and soon enough, when she knew the exact location of the wand, she could enter and finish what she had started.

She hoped Brooke would not be too difficult. Not only could the little witch seriously ruin her chances,she had many, many friends who believed in her innocence. They were in high places and Prophecy wanted to avoid all contact with the Ministry until her taking over was complete.

“Well come on, Brooke, I don’t have all day. I’m a busy women, people to torture, places to burn, quick quick.


Prophecy rubbed her hands together unconsciously, her eyes fixed on the gates. She had forgotten how cold it was in Scotland; Peru was always so humid. She breathed a plume of smoke out into the mist and closed her eyes. Marcus behind her didn’t dare breath; he saw her eyes were slowly working out the plan of attack.

Marcus DeCapego, Warlock of the Order of the Sacred Tree, 1st Class. Once he was appointed guardian of the Jewels of Egypt…and now?

Now he was second in command to an Enchantress who had turned away from everything she knew, to follow her family, who then abandoned her and scattered to the other ends of the world. She was so small, so thin compared to him. She dressed in straight black trousers and a black top, a chunky belt around her waist where her wand was, and straight black hair to her shoulders. She was a dark enchantress- he knew that- but he could not turn away from her now.

“Marcus” she said slowly and he walked towards her.

“Yes” he said hoarsely.  He was not used to this weather either. The cold, ice-like teeth of the mist gnawed at his neck.

“I can’t get in.”

“We knew that.” he said, confused.

“Let me finish. I can’t get in…yet.”

He sighed, nothing would stop her. She was so stubborn that he was glad he had not found her mother. Druscilla would most likely be ten times worse than ‘Prophecy,’ and more.

“When Prince came, he had Danuliete to invite him.”

“So.”

“So…I get someone to invite me.”

“Who is going to invite a dark enchantress in, Prophecy?”

“Prince possessed people, and so can I.”

“Now?”

“No, not now, but soon. We’ll have to set up camp somewhere- Hogsmead perhaps.”

“Are you crazy? You want to get yourself caught, Azkaban?”

“You’re such a wuss Marcus,” she breathed in cold air and glared at him, taking her eyes off of the gates for just a second.  “I’ll find a way in. I know Brooke’s there, I know she is.”

“All right, fine. But let’s just go before the charms work on you. I won’t see you dragged off by the ministry.”

“They can try. Let’s go. Before your Warlock friends track you down. They’ll freak when they find out you’re back in Britain. You’ve been exiled you know.”

She vanished again in that puff of glittering smoke. He sighed. I know I was exiled, It was your fault you…He went to call her something, but stopped because he knew he would regret it. He hated and loved her in the same instant and she knew, as did he, that it would drive him crazy sooner or later. He followed her, hoping she was wrong about the Warlock Council and that he was wrong about the Ministry.

“You’ve seen what he can do. You know what he will do. You will not die just yet. But others will suffer. Serenity will suffer. Unless you obey,” said an unfamiliar voice in a way that made her feel who ever was speaking was very far away.

“Please, don’t do this” she knew that voice but it was as distant as the other, too distant to make out clearly.

“My father may be a murderer, but my mother was not. I have her blood too, she was a good woman. I wont follow you while I have her, I wont!” that was her own voice, loud and clear and ringing through the blurry images before her. Then a looming face that she knew too well, that haunted her dreams.

“I am your mother!” the image spat and then she was falling…

“No!” She sat up, tossing aside bedcovers and scrambling for her clothes.

“Prophecy?” asked a voice she knew, a welcoming voice. “What’s wrong?”

“Wrong?” she asked unsteadily, “Wrong? There’s nothing wrong!”

He got out of the bed too and put a hand on her shoulder. She was leaning against the window sill, breathing in the early morning, cold, fresh air.

“You woke up screaming. Was it her again? Was it?” She didn’t answer; she didn’t want to look at him. “Gem…”

Prophecy turned as quickly as the weather. She stared him down with cat-like emerald eyes, so full of hatred and hunger for something he couldn’t give her.

“Never,” she breathed, “ever call me that name again!”

“But it’s…” he stopped as her wand was held at his throat.

“I said never.”

“All right. I’m sorry.” Prophecy put down her wand, tucking it safely into her bathrobe and looked out of the window again. He changed the subject as quick as she changed her temper.

“Have you found a way in yet?” Prophecy considered for a while, smoothing back her jet black hair.

“I might have, yes. I have a way in, but it won’t be easy.”

Things with you never are, he nodded and went back to bed, but she didn’t follow him, not yet. She sat down at the dressing table in their elaborate bedroom.

The Hall of Shadows had been moved from Peru with great difficulty in avoiding the ministry, but it had been done. It hadn’t been Marcus calling her Gem again; it had been the mention of her mother. Her face was still there when she closed her eyes and she was unable to get rid of it, as if she had it implanted in her brain. She looked down and saw a small, jewelled box. She picked it up carefully closing her eyes, trying to remember what it was.

“Here, I bought it for you! For your birthday” said a smiling, pretty, blonde girl of about 15. “I hope you like it, I know you will. Go on, open it”

Another girl, with bright pink and sparkling hair, dressed in matching clothing grinned and took the wrapped parcel from her. Opening it furiously she revealed the small box. “Hey, Kat, thanks! What is it?” The blonde girl called Kat laughed and took it from her, opening the lid to reveal little knobs and handles.

“It’s a colour change box, since you’re always changing the colour of your hair I thought it would be useful. Besides,” she grabbed a stray pink hair and tucked it behind the other girl’s ear “Pink’s getting rather boring…”

She snapped back, still confused as how she had got it. Putting it down, she climbed back into bed, with the moonlight shining in through the windows.

In the morning, the hard work began and she showed no signs of distress of the night before. Marcus walked out of their bedroom and into the main hall to a bustle of witches and wizards, all doing, all preparing for something they had no comprehension of.

“What’s all this?” he asked the dominating form of Prophecy, standing in the center of the hall, organizing the effort.

“A Ministry scout was sighted, we’re camouflaging the Hall of Shadows to look like the old Blackmoor Inn. However it doesn’t seem to want to cooperate,” she gave him a sarcastic smile.

“Are you still here?” she asked him after a few moments silence, “Go and do something useful will you?” she turned and dismissed him with a wave of her hand, and he faded into the background.

Cold mists swirled around the empty clearing, or was it empty? There was a sudden plume of glittering smoke but before it cleared the person who had apparated had gone.

Inside the myterious Hall of Shadows preparations were taking place. Prophecy had used the magical fire to tell her minions what to do and they scurried around like headless chickens doing her biding. She opened the door triumphantly and strode in, smiling satisfactorily to herself. Tonight was a good night.

Not only had she made another dead end for that stupid little Ariella girl who was following her around but she had found what she had been looking for for almost two years. The Black Wand was in her grasp and very soon she would have it. Then the world would pay.

The magnificent Hall had a dark atmosphere, lighted only by smokey candles and the huge fire at the top end. Down the center was a huge table stretching almost the length of the hall and surrounded by chairs and its high ceiling boasted several chandiliers. It had been stolen, unashamedly, from a former Indian King. It’s mysterious powers of concealment and the ability to move from place to place made it a worthwhile ‘investment’.

Someone brought a silver goblet of a red liquid to her and Prophecy sat herself on the table and noticed that the mirror, that she had sent Marcus to fetch, was still hung in its usual place on the wall. And Marcus was no where to be seen. She had just grabbed a minion by the front of his robes and demanded Marcus’ whereabouts when the doors to the Hall opened.

Pushing open the heavy oak door that led to the Hall, Marcus strode into the cold, dark room, his dark eyes surveying the scene before him. A small smile played about his lips as he watched Prophecy manhandling Pikes, a small dwarf like man. As he strode forward, his heavy travelling cloak billowing out behind him, he felt her peircing eyes burning into his head. He sat down at the seat next to her, still feeling her stare upon her. Finally he looked into her eyes, her sharp, sparkling green eyes. The eyes that were looking at him questionly, as they took in his rugged, drenched appearance.

“What?” he asked, running his scared hands through his dripping black hair, sending small droplets of water cascading onto the floor.

“I had to make a small detour.”

Marcus’s life seemed to be full of detours these days. Ever since he had been exiled from the Order of the Sacred Tree, Aurors had been up and down the country, searching for him, following tip-offs that he was back. So far he’d avoided being sent off to Azkabhan, thankfully. If they fouond him they found Prophecy and he wouldn’t let them take her away, he wouldn’t. He had to save his own skin to save hers. He flinched slightly as he moved his right shoulder, today had been one of the more tiring chases. Yes, it had been a very long day.

Her eyes pierced through him as he explained himself. She knew how to make him feel like it was his fault, even though it wasn’t.

Some could claim it was her fault that they now had half of the Ministry, plus the Warlock Council, on their tails. She would never admit to it though, as far as she was concerned it was Marcus’ fault alone that he had tried to steal the Seeing Diamond and had nothing to do with Prophecy wanting it. She felt for Marcus somtimes, he had given up an awful lot to follow her around. Shame he would get nothing in return.

She got off the table and waked towards the mirror which was now showing a very vivid image of the desk drawer in the Headmaster’s Office.

“Whilst you were off having fun, Marcus, some of us were actually working. Never mind though. The time has come. I have found the Black Wand”

I have found the Black Wand

The sentance echoed in Marcus’ head as he finally realised that this was the moment Prophecy had been waiting for. Two long years of searching, and waiting, and more searching and now, finally she had found it. A small smile appeared across his face as he watched her looking in the mirror, her greens eyes sparkling. She was happy, therefore he was happy.

But if Marcus was honest with himself then deep, deep down he was scared. Here before him stood the most powerful enchantress around, and she was looking at one of the most powerful wizarding weapons known to man. And now finally it was within her reach. Once she had it there was no stopping her. She could do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. It was this thought that scared him.

He realised with a jolt that she was looking at him. He got up and wandered over to her, not looking in her eyes but into the floor. That way he wouldn’t have to lie and pretend he was looking forward to finding out the next part of the plan. Only it didn’t matter did it? She knew what he was thinking all the time.

It was lucky for Marcus that his feelings on the matter were all intermingled with each other and that his happiness for her was overwhelming his doubts. Otherwise, Prophecy would have picked up on them, but at that moment she couldn’t feel anything but her own sense of victory.

“It’s glorious, isn’t it” she said, gleaming. This would be her greatest hour, her most magnificent triumph. Then they would see how powerful Prophecy was and the whole world would bow at her feet. Whilst all of her minions stared in awe at the image in the mirror, Prophecy’s mood had changed again.

There was no time to stand around in wonderment, there were things to do.

“Right!” she said suddenly and everyone looked at her. She loved that feelinh. “Pikes, I want you and Dawson to secure the others so that when I take the Wand they are all in positon. Gringo and Kafta I want to be on patrol here, day and night. I want you to keep an eye on that drawer and if there is even so much as a piece of dust moves I want to know about it. Marcus..”

She turned to him, her right hand man, Marcus DeCapego that was always there to see her succeed. She was feeling generous.

“Come with me, I have some ground work to do on my darling cousins.”

Whilst everyone stood in wonderment, staring that the image reflected in the mirror, Marcus was staring at Prophecy. He could only do this when her attention was fully placed on something else, otherwise she could see right into him. There were things in his head that were better left unread.

Before he realised what was happening she was shouting orders at people, and then looking straight into his eyes. He looked away sharply, trying to clear his mind of all thoughts. She could be very forceful at times. But Prophecy’s focus seemed to be on something else. The next part of the plan. Her cousins.

He nodded curtly and followed Prophecy as she turned and headed towards to door.

“Which one are you going to deal with first?”

She thought for a moment, imagining all the possibilities. Biting her bottom lip she walked over to the fire and took another small mirror off the mantle piece.

Reflected in the mirror was not her own face but the faces of her two cousins, how they looked now, what they were doing. She locked each ones eyes and searched her mind for the best possible course of action. Now she was so close she would not loose it again.

“I will go and retrieve the wand – and while I’m there I’ll put a little dent in dear Crystal’s dreams. As for Brooke, and finishing Crystal off, it can wait. I want to make them all live in fear for a while until I come back and teach them a lesson.”

She gave a sly and wicked grin. She couldn’t wait to see the look on their faces when they saw what their cousin could really do.

Several months of preperation had gone into this one small act, the first step. It had been hard enough finding out if Crystal Lake still resided in the walls of Hogwarts, let alone figuring out how there was a connection between them. It had taken some time but she had managed it, piece by piece she half-recollected a blury life before Peru, before the wand.

The Hall of Shadows had been moved from Peru with great difficulty in avoiding the ministry, but it had been done. Now, in the centre on the unfathomable building, she sat cross-legged on the table, biting her bottom lip in concentration.
She entered through the large oak doors of the Great Hall and stared around and then down. She was like she used to be. Fourteen years old, bright and sparkling pink hair, pink top and pink combat jeans. She looked up at the staff table through blury eyes and saw who she was looking for. Crystal Lake, now grown up, now Quidditch Coach. Strange things were happening at Hogwarts and this, if it worked, would send it into further chaos.
“Crystal!” she called, her voice sounded young in her ears, very unlike the coldness of it now “Crystal. Follow me” Knowing no one else could see or hear her except the subject of the vision, the young Gemini Taurus led her cousin through the doors of the Great Hall into the entrance hall, preparing to make her biggest performance of all.

It had been a long day, what with the first Quidditch Game and all. Thankfully the Medic had managed to bring Vivi back, although she was still unconcious. Crystal made a mental note to visit the girl soon. Tomorrow maybe. Today had been too long again.

After changing out of her dirty Quidditch robes and into a set of plain black ones Crystal had tied her hair back in a high ponytail and retreated to the Great Hall, in search of some hot food and drink.

As she sank to her seat at the Faculty Table, a steaming pile of macaroni cheese, and a large mug of frothy hot chocolate appeared in front of her. Picking up her spoon she greedily stuffed the hot pasta into her mouth before cupping the hot mug in her hands, letting the heat seep through her fingers.

Crystal leaned back in her seat and shut her eyes.

“Crystal!”

No. No way. Crystal sat up her eyes wide open. There was absolutly no way that could have been Gem’s voice. Crystal shook her head, forcing the thoughts of her cousin out of her head.

“Crystal. Follow me”

Crystal put down her mug and stared straight ahead. Suddenly she felt calm, like a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Before she knew where she was, Crystal found herself on her feet, wandering aimlessly out of the hall and into the entrance hall.

“Gem,” she murmured, “Is that you?”

“Yes” she said slowly, “It’s me”

She expected the down pour of questions the minute she let Crystal speak again, but Prophecy was here to talk not listen.

“I was waiting for you to find me, but you never looked did you?”

If what Prophecy remembered of the Coach was right, not only was the attachment to her strong but she was able to make her feel guilty. She’d had no idea where Prophecy had gone after that night and a slightly twisted version of the truth would be enough she was sure.

“I’ve been away for a long time but I’m back now only…”

She made her face melt into sadness, her eyes wide and fixed on the floor, a tear splashing into thin air.

“…only I can’t get in. Will you help me?”

A large group of second year students came bustling down the corridor, eager to get to dinner on time. They punched past the Quidditch Coach, as she stood still and silent, her eyes, slightly glazed over, staring straight ahead and her head filled with Gem’s voice.

Slowly she drifted back, her mind searching through memories…

A young Crystal arriving at Hogwarts…

…Crystal, Gem, Brooke, Ren, relaxing in the then differnt Ravenclaw Common Room…

…Gem & kat with…with dragons…

…A whole gang of firsties – Crystal, Gem, Kat, Hybrid, Stee, Ariella, Nerak, FM, all together, down by the lake…smiling…happy…

A small, dreamy smile slipped across Crystal’s face as she remembered. For months she had feared Gem dead, captured by the evil warlock Prince. For, despite the stories, Crystal refused to believe that her cousin would ever turn evil. Never.

“I was waiting for you to find me, but you never looked did you?”

These words cut through Crystal’s thoughts, bringing her harshly back to reality.

“No.” she muttered, “No, your wrong, I did look for you. I did…I tried but…but..”

But she had tried. Hadn’t she. Yes, she had. She thought she had. She couldn’t remember. Why was Gem making her so confused?

A sense of panic rose up inside Crystal. She had to make Gem understand. Understand that Crystal had tried to find her, help her even.

“I’ve been away for a long time but I’m back now only…”

Only…

Only what? Whatever it was that was keeping Gem from Hogwarts Crystal would defiantly help her. Whatever it was…

A wave of sadness swept over Crystal. She felt cold and empty.

“Only what?” murmured Crystal softly. Gem’s reply came almost instantly,

“…only I can’t get in. Will you help me?”

She couldn’t get in? No, that didn’t feel right.

“You can’t get in? Why not? Don’t they know it’s you?”

As the questions poured out of Crystal more built up insdie her. Questions that had lurked at the back of her head, questions that had no answers.

Unanswered Questions.

“Sure, I’ll help you. Will I come and meet you at the gate?”

The young Gem’s face lit up, her emerald green eyes bright. She had succeded. Not only in gaining access to Hogwarts whenever she needed, but in gaining an ally inside the walls. Perfect.

“No, not today, not now!” said the young Gem cautiously. “No, I’ll call you again – when I need to get in”

She gave her cousin a reassuring smile, the cheeky grin that had constantly been plastered over Gem’s face for most of her life.

“I’ll see you soon, Cryst. Don’t forget about me, will you?”

“No, I’ll call you again – when I need to get in”

When I need to get in? But why didn’t she want to come in now? And tell everyone she was safe…see all her old friends?

Crystal was confused. Still, one thing that shone clear in her mind was that Gem was safe. And coming back to Hogwarts.

“Don’t forget about me, will you?”

“Forget about you? Gemmy, I never forgot about you. Never.”

The hall was silent. And cold. Oh so very cold. Suddenly Crystal felt alone. And drained, as if something had sucked all the energy out of her.

“Gem?” she called. “Gem, don’t go. Please.”

But Gem had vanished the entrance hall was cold and empty once more, now devoid of the warmth the vision of the fourteen year old had brought.

However the voice still remained for a moment longer.

“Let’s keep it a secret though, make it a surprise that…”

There was a pause in the sentence, as though she was not quite sure what to say, but it was finished a moment later. It rebounded off the walls of the entrance hall and ricocheted off down the corridors.

“I’m back” it whispered.

Crystal screwed her eyes tight shut, trying with all her might to summon back Gem. Wherever she was.

“Let’s keep it a secret though”

Keep it a secret. Why?

The first thing Crystal wanted to do was tell everyone. Well tell Stee. And she would have told Brooke…if she hadn’t been lying in a coma.

Crystal ran her hands through her hair adn realised, with a start that the Great Hall doors had opened and students were pourinf along the many corridors, towards their repective common rooms.

The rush was over and Crystal was alone, Gem’s voiced faded away.

Alone. Again.

She felt the familiar rush of adrenaline, the same rush she used to feel when she soared through the air on a broom that now came when she knew she was about to tear a world apart.

She let herself go quite, her body standing outside the gates of Hogwarts, and her spirit carried on through the gates, undetected, and heading in Crystal Lake’s direction.

She passed through walls, doors and ceilings and finally found Crystal in the magnificent marble entrance hall. She appeared as Prophecy but with the look in her emerald green eyes that let her cousin know that underneath she was still Gemini Taurus – or at least that was what she was pretending. She hurried in, scanned the room in a mock panic and latched eyes with Crystal.

“Cryst! Can you please let me in at the gates? Aurors are coming and they don’t understand, they think I’m guilty! Please let me in!”

Thank God for her acting skills and Crystal took it, hook, line and sinker.

‘Where the hell are you?’ though Crystal was she hurried into the Entrance Hall. It had been day’s since she had seen Stee, and he random disappearing acts where starting to get annoying. She stood, her deep purple robes gently brushing the floor ans she turned, wondering where to go now. She was considering checking the Faculty Lounge again when a very familiar voice came from behind her.

Cryst! Can you please let me in at the gates? Aurors are coming and they don’t understand, they think I’m guilty! Please let me in!

She spun around and there she saw Gem. She couldn’t believe it, Aurours after her cousin. A feeling of great urgency washed over her as she hurried towards her cousin. Had her head not been so full of emotions, she might had stopped to ask why Gem need to be let in, when she was here in front of her already. But she didn’t, instead she pushed open the large doors and ran down the stone steps, her brown hair flying out behind her.

Her spirit entered back into her body just as Crystal reached the gates. Her eyes glinted evily as she pulled back the gates and beckoned her inside…

The change was not instant. Prophecy was not a fool and she was not going to blow her cover straight away. Instead, in the most Gem-ish way possible she took her cousin’s hand and ran as fast as she could towards the doors of the Castle.

A feeling of utter pride filled her as they reached the wooden doors and pulled them back, her feet crossing the thresh hold of Hogwarts school almost four years after she’d almost burnt it to the ground. She felt a slight tingle in her bones as the walls recognised her as their destroyer but of course they could not object, she’d been invited in.

Suits of armour and paintings whispered as Prophecy and Crystal continued to run through the corridors. She heard Crystal’s voice, echoing in the back of her mind, the doubting questions that should be snubbed as soon as possible.

She reached the door of the Headmaster’s Office. It was as if the entire room was pulsating with the energy of the wand, she could feel it rippling out towards her, calling to her.

Find me, find me! You are so close, you are almost there. Fine me, take me, do it now!

The final part screamed in her ears. She turned to Crystal, a not so Gem-ish look in her eyes now. This was evil at its worst, its purest form. It was as if the power of the wand had reached into her soul and was preparing to take over. And it soon would.

“Well, Crystal, this looks like the end of the road for you.” She smiled wickedly and watched with a cruel glint in her eyes the look on Crystal’s face as she realised what she had done.

Crystal didn’t think she had ever been as happy as Gem dragged her through the corridors. It felt like there were 11 again, fleeing from Ghast, or chasing Kat or Nerak, racing towards the Quidditch Pitch. It appeared the were heading for the Headmaster’s Office, presumably so Gem could explain what was going on and clear her name. Perhaps he would give her a job, maybe she would want to be Quidditch Coach. Crystal didn’t care, she would give up her job for Gem. Gem had been through so much.

They reached the door, stopping abruptly. Crystal found herslf slightly out of breath – it had been a long time since she had run that fact. Pushing her hair out of her face as she regained her breath she looked at Gem smiling.

The smile soon faded.

A sick, nervous feeling clung to the wall of Crystal’s stomach and to the back of her throat. Suddenly she was cold, her hands clamly and sweat. The smile slid from her face and was replaced with a look of pure horror.

For the look in Gem’s eyes could only be described as evil. Complete and utter evil. She tried to swallow but the sick feeling was clogging up her throat like a big fat Bludger. She couldn’t breath and her face turned from a flushed read to a pale white.

“Gem….”

Somehow a word managed to slip through her lips but it was barely audible. She backed up against the wall, gasping for air as a sate of shock set in. Her clear ble eyes were as wide as saucers, stuck on Gem, her mouth hanging open.

As she stumbled back against the wall one more word escaped her up through her dry throat and out her mouth,

“Please…”

“Crystal, Crystal, Crystal” she said slowly, shaking her head. “You really are the slow one aren’t you. It would not have taken a genius to figure it out you know – but you’ve let your feelings get in the way. A small tip for the future…oh wait, no point, you don’t have one.”

She let a small cruel laugh escape her.

“I have to say, the look on your face is priceless! And I know what you’re thinking…but I wouldn’t bother. If you scream I will only stun you and then no one will know until I am well an truely gone. By then I will have the power to destroy this pile of bricks with my pinky. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

She watched Crystal open and close her mouth like a guppi fish.

“It’s a shame really, you could have made rather a good accomplice. Too late now though…I’ll just have to destroy you along with everyone else”

That was the limit that Crystal stretched to, but before she’d even opened her mouth Prophecy had uttered the stunning spell and Crystal lay slumped on the floor.

“And it’s not Gem, it’s Prophecy” she whispered into her cousins ear. “And make sure you remember that name, you’ll be hearing it again very soon”

Stepping over her cousin she marched through the door of the Headmaster’s Office. A flood of memories filled her mind and the echoes of voices from the passed returned. Mainly the ones of her mother…

It was different from when Danuliete was here, more modern, nicer, warmer, cosier. She walked over to the desk and let her fingers, now sparking furiously with blue lightning, lead her to the drawer. The wand’s energy now pulsating with her brain and all she needed to do was whisper Alohamora and the drawer clicked open.

Within second the wand was in her hands and she had disappeared in a puff of glittering smoke. Apparition may not happen for the ordinary wizard but whilst holding the Black Wand Prophecy was a Goddess and she was about to let the world know how powerful she was.

She couldn’t believe it. The rumours had been true. For that one tiny moment Crystal despised Gem. She despised everything she had put her through over the past two or something years, everytime Crystal had worried about her cousin. She despised herself for being so damn gullable.

Still she couldn’t believe it. But there it was, right infront of her, her cousin, Gem, with the Black Wand. She watched in shock as her cousin shook her head, mocking her, bragging about the power she now possessed. Everytime Crystal tried to say anything her throat got so dry in closed up. Hot tears began to form in her eyes, threatenting to spill as she realised what really was happening.

She had just given the most wanted witch in the world access to the most powerful wizarding artifact in the world.

It’s a shame really, you could have made rather a good accomplice.

That was it, Crystal knew this wasn’t the real Gem, not the Gem she knew. There was no way she was going to let her get away with this, making a mockery of her and then having the cheek to imply that she, Crystal, would get involved in something like this. She’d had some crazy ideas in the past but this was way past the line.

But before she could do anything a hot burning hit her in the chest and she fell to the ground, everything around her going cold and silent, nothing but black before her eyes. Far, far, far away she heard Gem’s voice whispering but she couldn’t make out what it said.

Nothing made sense anymore.

If one link is damanged or broken the rest of the chain cannot perform properly or shuts down. It is the same no matter how big or small the chain, no matter if it is physical or emotional. The Black Wand had just had a major break in it’s chain and everyone connected to it felt its pain.

As with all dark and powerful objects the Wand drew its power from the people who used it and expected it to give them more power. Just as wizards from centuries ago had been consumed by the wand, so had Prince and Brooke de Black and now Gemini Taurus was embedded as deep within it as ancient skeletons under glaciers. Although the possession of the wand had long since passed through the hands of Prince and Brooke the wand still held that connection, feeding off them mercilessly.

When Druscilla Danuliete had so abruptly taken out Prince’s link, the rest of the chain felt it, and Gemini Taurus most of all.

The Black Wand glowed a blood red in her hand as if it had been in a furness and she dropped it quickly as blisters appeared on her hand. It thunded to the floor with a metal tink and then lifted up slowly to whirl in the air. As it glowed brighter and brighter red the pain in Gem’s chest increased and then suddenly…

It was gone. The witch opened her emerald eyes slowly and looked around. The wand had fallen to the floor and the blood red aura around it was fading away. The pain in her chest had gone, but there was a feeling of emptiness left behind and as she picked up the wand she realised that Prince was dead. And she had more than a hunch on who killed him.

“Aaaaarggghh!” it was a seering, sharp, piercing scream.

Brooke de Black, paused on the very door of the Great Hall itself, Crystal Lake, Echo Kiwina and Francisco Hardy by her side.

Brooke clutched at her head, then at her stomach, doubled over in pain. It felt like something was trying to tear her skin off! She doubled over, fell to the floor and rolled into the wall.

Still extremely weak and fragile from her time in a coma in the Hospital Wing, Brooke’s shattered body found even the mildest bump or bruise painful..but this…

“Get it off me, make it stop!” she cried out, fighting an external force, a secret demon that none could see. “Make it..”

And then it did. Just like that. As if on command.

Brooke opened her eyes, which had been screwed tightly tightly shut against the pain. She uncurled her body, which had instinctively rolled intself into a protective foetal position.

And suddenly she knew. She couldn’t say how she knew. She just knew.

Sitting on the floor, she looked at the others and said simply, “Prince is dead.”

It was all getting very strange. First Gem had turned up to steal the most dangerous wand in the history of…well, dangerous wands, cursing Crystal in the process. Secondly, Crystal had just found out her cousin was indeed a psychotic mad women and now, she and Brooke, along with Echo and Cisco were going to try and stop their friend from killing masses of innocent people and spreading havoc across the magical world. Not fun.

They walked down the stairs, from the hosptial wing in silence. Crystal didn’t know how the rest of them felt but she herself was in a deep state of shock. Everything had happened so fast. AS she approached the doors to the Great Hall she sighed and ran her hands through her long brown hair.

“Aaaaarggghh!”

She jumped back and gasped as Brooke, whom she was walking next to, let out a piercing scream of agony. Crystal watched in horrow as her friend sunk to the floor, her face contorted in pain. She didn’t know what to do as Brooke withered around on the floor, banging painfully against the wall, all the time pleading for mercy.

And then she fell silent. This sudden silence seemed to stir Crystal into action and she sank to the floor beside her friend, clutching her feeble hand.

“Prince is dead”

Normally a simple statment like this would have promted a million questions from Crystal as she was, occasionally, quite slow on the uptake. But this time she simply looked Brooke straight in the eye and asked one very simply question.

“What now?”

Brooke felt limp and exhausted. True there was no more pain, it no longer hurt, but her body was not what it was. Once she had great pride in her fitness, she had been in perfect shape, the long hours of training, the relentless Quidditch practices for her team. But angrily the thought had to be pushed aside. That was another life and another Brooke. She could not, must not look back. It was unbearable.

But the fact remained she could not physically keep up with the others. She would weigh them down, hold them up. It was a bitter thought.

She felt Crystal’s pressure on her hand and looked up. Clearly Cryst had just asked her something, but she had been lost in her own world and had not even heard the words.

She swallowed and pushed herself up on the wall, knowing she must look like a fright and a fool.She was forced to ask Cryst to repeat herself.

“What now?” she echoed, attempting to address her mind to the question in hand. She shook her head. This was too important to get wrong. They were all looking at her.

“He is dead and..” a flash of realisation, “And she must know that. If I know it so does she and..” there was more, just beyond the reaches of her mind. Brooke scrubbed at her forehead with her hand, trying to clear the fog. She peered in front of her, seeing things that only she could see.

She saw it.

She could scarcely believe it.

What did it mean?

“And my aunt killed him!” she sounded dumbfounded. “Why on earth?…”

She looked round, bewildered.

Crystal felt like screaming. Everything was confusing her and apparently nothing was what she thought was. She wanted to help so badly, yet she had not been there on that cursed evening and this put her at somewhat of a disadvantage, especially as no one seemed to be in much of a hurry to explain everything fully.

Or maybe it was just that she was not willing to understand. While there was no denying her intelligance, it was emotion and love that ruled Crystal’s heart and mind. Not one to make casual accquaintances, Crystal picked her friends carefully and was close to each and every one of them. She liked to devote her attention to people and it angered her to witness anything hurtful or destructive, especially when this was directed towards someone she cared for. Sometimes she just wished she could go back to being in second year – everything was so simple back then.

But that couldn’t happen, no matter how much she wanted it to. For too long now Crystal had been stuck in the past, fooling herself into believing that Gem wasn’t evil and that somehow this whole big stinking mess would go away on it’s own. But it wasn’t going to. She needed to get a grip.

She looked at Brooke. Poor Brookey had been through so much and yet still here she was, resolved to track down and…kill Gem. Well maybe not, for as determined to help as Crystal was, she refused to agree to the killing of her cousin. Still, they could cross that bridge when they came to it.

She listened intently to Brooke’s soft mutterings. So Danuliete had killed Prince. But wasn’t she evil?! Hadn’t she been the one that influenced Gem to aid Prince. Crystal sighed. It looked like things were about to get a lot more confusing.

“So, if you know that Prince is dead, then Gem does too, right?” she asked lightly, trying to get some sense out of Brooke.

“But Prince started this. If he’s dead, surely that can only be a good thing?”

A small smile spread across her face. Maybe she understood more than she thought afterall.

“Yes,” Brooke nodded. “Yes. Gem knows. The..the weird thing,” she tried to explain the odd knowledge that she owned, “Is I can feel her knowing it, I..I.can sense her smile.”

Great.She sounded like a freak now as well as looking like one, with Echo’s coat and trousers flung on over the top of her billowing white hopsital gown.

She finally stood up, with the aid of the wall and looked at her former friends, all wide eyes and mad hair.

“Prince is dead and my aunt killed him..what this means,” she shrugged, “I have no idea. My aunt’s motivation in all this I cannot even guess at. But Gem, Gem is a different issue altogether.”

It was enough. Deal with what could be dealt with. She was too tired, bone weary, exhausted by it all. She shut her eyes. It seemed for a long moment as if she were defeated. As if there were nothing more to say. Then suddenly her cold blue eyes snapped open again.

“I can take you to Gem,” she said suddenly. “I can find the wand, or perhaps,” she laughed bitterly, “Perhaps it can find me, but,” she spread her hands wide, “What does that achieve, we are powerless against her. Four of us,” (three said her head, you do not count, you are worthless de Black) “against the Black Wand. She will kill us all.”

So Gem knew. Right. So if Gem knew then that meant that…?

Who was she trying to kid? Crystal had no idea what was going on, no matter how hard she tried. She always had been the intelligant one that had no common sense whatsoever. She sighed heavily and brushed her hair out of her face.

“I can take you to Gem”

She looked at Brooke, her eyes suddenly fulled with a new sense of hope. That was it, they could get to Gem, talk to her, get the wand and come back to Hogwarts! It was so simple and she opened her mouth to tell Brooke…

…and stopped. Something inside Brooke had changed. She seemed weaker, darker. She was in some way different and Crystal wasn’t sure if she liked the changed Brooke. She was full of ideas of killing Gem, or Gem killing them. So Crystal stopped. She would go along with it and let Brooke lead her to Gem. Then they could talk and Crystal would make Gem see sense, and they would destroy the wand and then everthing would be fine.

“Brooke, we have no choice. We’re the only ones that have even the slightest chance at stopping Gem. Let’s go find her.”

I can take you to Gem

She lifted her head slowly through the darkness and caught the words as an echo and froze. She had avoided many people in her reign of evil, ministry and muggle alike but there was no escape when the people looking for you know where you are.

Because the link had been broken before it’s time everyone in the link had become aware they were part of it. Once this was known, those in the chain could access any part of it.

It was hope telepathy worked, Gem accessed different emotional chains and through that the thoughts jumped out to her. Now Brooke could find her, she’d be sure to bring everyone she could to her. And Gem felt afraid. They were coming to get her. It was time to play hide and seek.

Echo felt her head swimming, and fumbled for the wall. Pressing her slender fingers flush against the stone, she let the coolness permeate her body. With the cold sensation, realisation and grips with the situation set it.

Prince was dead. The pain Echo had seen in Brooke not more than a few minutes ago was too potent to deny. Brooke’s powerful connection with Prince clearly caused her a great blow at his death. But Danuliete killing him… there was the difficult part. Every since her first year, Echo Kiwina had disliked Lady Danuliete intensely. Then, once the whole Black Wand plot had set in, it was clear Danuliete’s motives were less than amiable. Why, then, did she go against her seemingly true character to murder one she held in high esteem?

And Gem… Gem had been through ups and downs, but this…

“Let’s go, Brooke,” she said firmly. She galnced at the small group. “We’ll find Gem and sort this whole thing out.”

Sort this whole thing out?

If only it was going to be that easy, but Francisco had a feeling it wasn’t going to be so. It wasn’t just going to be a sense of finding Gem and just talking to her, no. This was going to require a plan. And a good one at the most. Gem wasn’t dumb, no quite the opposite. Francisco used to look up to her, those years of endless Quidditch practice. Yes, Gem was one of the reasons he took to Quidditch so much.

But that was back in the days, and those days were unseeingly dead. Here they all were, talking about finding Gem, one of the most powerful witches the wizarding world had seen. And only four of them were going to take her on? Something just didn’t seem right about those odds.

Francisco turned to Brooke. “Do you think there is anyway that we could…” he paused for a moment. He knew what he wanted to say, but how to say it was the real question. “We can’t just go and find her, she’s not stupid, and she’ll be waiting for us. We need a plan.” He looked at the three that stood around him. “Any takers?”

Brooke shrugged. She was all out of plans.

“I dont have any answers Cisco, but this is stupid, futile.”

Brooke’s unkempt appearance, gaunt looks and wild eyes in this setting was eerily reminiscent of Daiva’s last living momnets on this very spot.

History, horribly was unfolding in an endless cyclical pattern and Brooke was powerless to escape its force.

“We’ll all die,” she said horribly, “But as I see it we have no choice.”

Grimly she walked out of the Great Hall, heading for the gates to apparate. To apparate, as she saw it, to her certain death. She wondered vaguely if the others would follow.

What, or rather whom she saw at the great iron gates however, stopped her dead in her tracks.

She froze.

There were some benifits to having a father who controlled all the Aurors. It alloted you certain priviledges that you normally would not have. For example, being the leader of the group gaurding Hogwarts.

He had been recently told that the wanted witch, Brooke de Black, had returned to Hogwarts. Jason had said it was stupid. Brooke had been captured and, more than likely, killed when Prince captured her. He felt that if Brooke were alive, she would have come to him first. Yet the Ministry of Magic maintained that Brooke de Black, in league with the Dark Witch Prophecy, had returned to Hogwarts and would soon return to her partner.

It was lunacy.

Jason, with the help of the stupid young Aurors he led, had been guarding the gates for months. Had Brooke returned to Hogwarts, he would have known by now. As it was, nothing particularly interesting had happened at Hogwarts.

Sighing in a I’m-so-bored-I-could-fall-asleep-on-my-feet sort of way, he paced the bit of the wall he was gaurding. He stopped before the gates and leaned against it. Moments later, he heard a twig crack. In one fluid motion, he had turned, drawn his wand, and pointed it at the oncoming wizards and witches.

It was impossible.

She was dead.

She could not be alive.

Finding his voice, which immediately cracked, he asked as if questioning his own sanity, “Brooke?”

“Jay,” she said quietly and incredulously. “Jay.” She didn’t know if he heard her or not. How long it had been. How very very long. Five years at least for time had long since lost its true meaning to Brooke.

It was all too too strange. She couldn’t work out how she felt about this new twist of events at all. What was he doing there? What did this mean? Had he somehow heard about Gem? Had he come to help?

She was so tired too, but somehow her legs found that extra yard. She clutched the metal bars of the gate.

“What..?” was all she managed before he took control of the issue.

With a complicated movement of his wand, the gates unlocked themselves and opened towards Jason. He waited for the gates to be completely open before rushing to Brooke, sweeping her into his arms, and kissing her with all the passion he had been saving for six years.

Jason was oblivious to anything around him as he kissed Brooke. He continued for several minutes before a chuckle from behind reminded him that they were not alone.

Jason released Brooke and looked at who accompanied her. He recognized Crystal, Cisco, and Echo. It was strange… while he recognized them all, the reunion, for want of a better word, seemed too surreal. He had spent years waiting for news of Brooke; where had she been, who had she been with, was she alright? But none of it mattered now. She was there with him.

What Jason had unfortunately failed to notice, perhaps because she was so weak, was that Brooke was not exactly welcoming his kisses. Indeed quite the reverse. What he took for passionate embraces and lustful desires were actually struggles for freedom. The old Brooke would have kicked him where it hurt. Sadly this one didnt have the strength. When he finally let her come up for air, she gave him a look of absolute terror, rushed off to the nearest bush and promptly threw up.

Jason’s eyebrows almost disappeared into his hair as he looked at her in shock. That could not have been… he must have imagined that look… Was Brooke… scared of Jason?

As he watched her vomit into a cherry bush, he felt his stomach turn. Before, she had been the one who ravaged him in public; outside the Library…in the Great Hall… on the Quidditch Pitch… in the Prefect’s Bathroom… But now… a kiss from him now made her so sick that she vomited.

“Brooke?” Jason asked, his voice continuing to crack. “Is… is… are you…well?” It was a stupid question. Had he paid any attention to anything but her face, he would have noticed how unnaturally thin she was. Years ago, she was strong enough to arm wrestly with Jason…and almost win most times. Now… she looked as if another embrace like Jason’s would break her in two.

Brooke hung her head low. She had stopped being sick, but now Jason was near her again, talking to her and she did not know what to say. It would be fine fine fine she repeated in her head, just as long as he didn’t touch her again. She couldn’t bear to be touched. For a man to touch her, not…not after that.

She was however painfully aware of his presence. Her emotions were deadened now. Too much time had passed. Too many things had changed. But she did remember a time when he was part of her life. It had been a time she had desperately been trying not to think of. A time of hope, of love, of friendship. Stupid, stupid, stupid to think of it. And then unbidden the thought of flying was everywhere. She looked up into the clear crisp air.

She would never fly again.

She looked at Jay. Why couldn’t he see she wasn’t Brooke de Black?

“We have to go to Gem now,” she said in a deadpan voice.

Ah, but he was beautiful.

Heart-break.

It was the only emotion that could describe how Jason felt. He had waited years to be reunited with Brooke. He had tor…committed unforgivable crimes to find out information about Brooke and never found it. And finally, when he had found her, she was this… shell.

This was not Brooke de Black. Brooke was not so… sad. Brooke was proactive and passionate. From the looks of things, it seemed as if Jason was right; Brooke was dead. Whoever this woman before him was, it was not the Brooke he had known.

But a place in his heart told him that it didn’t matter. That he could get her back to her old self if just given the chance. He was taken out of his thoughts when Brooke spoke.

“We have to go to Gem now.”

“Nonsense,” he said immediately. “If you go to Gem now, what will you do but die? I was there, Brooke. I saw her betray us all. She will not spare you just because you are too weak to fight. I won’t let you risk your life for something so foolish. Let the Ministry handle this and return to Hogwarts. I’ll talk to my father about you.”

“The Ministry will come? They’ll send Aurors?” Brooke looked up hopefully, a flash fo her old self in her blue eyes. But then why wouldn’t they stupid girl? Gem was the most wanted witch in the world probably. It’s just she had got so used to having to think alone, to act alone, to try to do the impossible. That Jay himself was an Auror Brooke had never even considered. Her education, her life, had been dramactically pulled up short on that fateful day six years ago when Prince had taken her out of blood lust and vengeance. Her friends were all grown up, with lives of their own and she was trapped in all this, this weirdness.

But to stay, no no impossible.

“I have to go,” she said and added, “I know where she is. I lived with her for years, I know excatly what she is capable of Jay. And if she kills me,” she laughed mirthlessly, “You know what I just don’t care any more.”

“If you think that you are going to find Gem without me then you’ve got another thing coming.”

Brooke seemed to forget that Crystal was Gem’s cousin as well, a cousin whome she had known since there was babies. No one knew Gem better then Crystal did and there was no way they were leaving Hogwarts without her.

She walked up to Brooke and Jason, a determined look set on her friendly face.

“I don’t care what you say, or do. I’m coming with you.”

It was possible the strongest statement Crystal had said or year – or perhaps decade.

Check with Gem….They all go to Gem  – Brooke leads – Jay and aurors follow? – somehow back at Hogwarts  – Marcus betrays Gem – gives jewels to Brooke. Brooke tkaes away Gem’s powers. Gem goes insane. Aurors arrest Brooke.

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