The Dawn of a New Age
Rowena and Godric were wounded worst than the others. Fenrir was not far behind them and for the first few days they were charmed to remain on bed rest else they would cause more injury to themselves. Helga and the Volva managed to the battle wounded, some they could only provide comfort has their wounds were too great, some were more fortunate, but all in the end were victorious. The remains of the Dark Ones scattered as their stronghold came down, the body of their Dark Lord seen by all. Their hunting would come later, but not now, now the victors would have to collect the pieces of themselves broken in the war and use them to mend or rebuild.
“Two months and we are still finding bodies.” Salazar formed a crease in his forehead with his heavy frown.
Avalon, whose right arm was bound and in a sling and left eye bandaged from numerous contusions, said from across the table:
“We expected as much, we have barely scratched the surface in excavating Castle Walpurgis. It is a miracle that it is in tact as it is despite falling from such a height.”
The older wizard agreed, pouring himself and Avalon another cup of wine. It was not as good as Master Kloog’s, but the Slytherin Coven were ones who enjoyed finer things and this was certainly one of them. Among the many bodies they found, Caliburn was one item that made the difference between Avalon dying or not. She was by no means ever to return to how she was before the battle, but by the grace of the four most powerful witches and wizards of the age, their donation of magic and the Volva’s guidance made reversing much of Avalon’s form to originality.
They were by no means friends, they did not bond or put aside their differences during the final battle, but they nonetheless respected each other. They were leaders side by side and though they would never truly see eye to eye, there was indeed an improvement in their cooperation. Until Godric and Rowena recovered...they would tolerate each other. Alchemists and sorcerer alike suffered great loss, many captains and commanders fell in battle; friends; allies; alchemists and sorcerer alike mourned for the loss of each other. Avalon said that those who mourn together will always stay together. Salazar believed this alliance to be little more than mutual gain and when the war was over all would slip into seclusion and leave each other be to lick their wounds. He was proved very wrong.
Salazar had been the center of much attention when he brought an unknown woman to them: Saraphine Rosier, a Pureblood witch who Avalon was very much aware fought for the Dark Lord. She spoke against his statement of having her admitted as his aid, but was over-ruled. Saraphine forged an Unbreakable Vow with Salazar to not betray him or laying a finger on any sorcerer or alchemist without provocation. To what an Unbreakable Vow was, Avalon was uncertain, but she was informed that to break this Vow meant instant death. She did not trust the witch and voiced it particularly in her presence, but did not pursue it further beyond that.
These past few weeks have been filled with mourning the loss of loved ones. The Anexus clan, who took much of the front lines, suffer many causalities, but out of six-hundred and thirty two adult members, they lost only about a third for their fighting force which by their count as a fighting clan was of no great concern. The sorcerers also lost much of their own people, a force in the thousands lost well over half of its people to battle causalities alone. Though most had heirs to carry on their names, there were too many houses that came to an end...on both sides. In times beyond them, many would question whether the cost was worth it and no matter what Avalon’s answer will always be yes. How many lives did they save because of this war? How many generations would now be possible? Nothing can be gained without loss, that is the law of nature.
Avalon and Salazar concluded activities for the day, though it was long into the night when they reached a stopping point. There was much to do, much to accomplish and recover...but now they had the time to work things out, think things thru and carry them out with careful considerations. Time. Avalon stopped on her walk thru the woods. She knew how much time she had left. How much this borrowed time, granted by Antares, would now last at extending her life...as a human at least. Before, she did not think past the battle, she truly believed if she was forced to use the Old Blood to such an extent she was going to die. She and the Volva thought this and wanted to avoid it, but as her body was changing, being taken over by natural magic she did not feel like she was dying. Perhaps it was meant to be a trick of this gift, this curse, was different than the Volva had been told.
If taking the magic of sorcerers prolongs a person’s ability to maintain their human form why did being taken over by natural magic seem in such an unnatural manner feeling anything but? Was that what death was meant to be--peaceful? Or was that a gift granted by Yggdrasil when the Great Tree passed such a burden to its children? If that is so...then Avalon’s fear of equivalent exchange being false was unneeded. She felt better in thinking about it this way, though her body was restored to a resemblance of her original self it would not be as before. It can be thought that her body’s return was made possible by her complete depleted of all magic and that somehow the magic within the Lazarus Pool overwrote what was done. Still...she had absorbed a massive amount of Dark Magic which caused a change in her no amount of magic could undo, it had reached her at the core, resonating with her with the final words of the Dark Lord.
“Avalon...” Rasped Antares as she lie on the side of the crater Avalon’s sword and Rowena’s shield had caused.
The floating islands were descending, returning to the ground and mountainside they have been pulled from.
The witch struggled to breathe, her words harder to speak as she had a gash from shoulder to hip that was fatal, “Heed my words...the day will come...when they will put their needs above your own...when that day comes...you...and your clan will lose...everything...”
The alchemist was on her knees, her arm broken in numerous places, her eye swollen shut from impact and the natural magic she housed within her was spent entirely. She did not possess much strength save for keeping herself prop on her knees and leaning back so that whatever strength was left was not wasted. Silent tears dropped from her face, not for the pain she was in, but that she was not only alive...Antares was the one who had ensured she would be. What Dark Lord would keep their enemy alive? What Dark Lord would time and time again offer a place at their side? What Dark Lord...would look at their enemy with such consideration and pity? Avalon did not understand at first, but upon hearing, upon understanding she did.
“I will...I promise I will...so long as I live.” The alchemist vowed, her strength to keep back this bizarre sadness gone.
Antares smiled, “Perhaps in another life...we could be friends...but...in this one...I am glad...to have met...you...”
The the witch brought her her bloodied hand up and placed it against the alchemist's chest. This was the last she could do, her death was enviable now and here was no harm in using the last of the pool's power...to help another. She wished this was not the world they lived in, that this was not the world they had to be born in. She wished...with all her heart that they could have been friends in this life as well as the next. The Dark Lord pushed the last waters of the Lazarus Pool into the Anexus's body: What an unfortunate fate awaits you.
Her arrival to her temporary home went unnoticed. She was grateful to that because Moor was the central-most location between everyone’s villages, it had many more people than she would like. The Hufflepuff family, with protection by the Anexus, arranged supplies to be transported to help elevate the sudden increase of population in both villages, while the Slytherin Coven continued to work at the fallen castle the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor Covens went out to monitor the movements of their dispersing enemy. Avalon had had little time to herself with this increase of supervision, but made a particular point to take the remaining night to attend to Anexus affairs.
Together with Fenrir, she apparated to the familiar graveyard she hoped there would be no need to visit for a time. The era of unnecessary death had come to an end at last, but it would be a great deal of time before they fully recovered an long after her death when the scars faded. There was no certainty that those scars would fade completely, but she hoped that with the foundation her and her comrades were creating the coming generations would forgive. Forgiveness was what she sought, not to forget, never to forget for that is how history is repeated and it is a tradition of the Anexus to record as close to truth as time will allow. Upon her encounter with the Great Elder Dragon, Avalon suspected time had altered their known history more than she anticipated. That however, was an investigation for another day.
Four brothers, and two sisters, that is how many siblings she lost in this war. A mother, a father; family; friends...she lost much to this war, yet none were sacrifices. It was not loss that defined this war however, what was gained was not meant to replace, but mend the breaks every single person had. Avalon stood in front of generations of graves, the fortunate ones whose bodies were able to be prepared for their return to Yggdrasil. It was not minded if there was no body, for in the views f the Anexus, everything has a return one way or another. Perhaps Godric was rubbing off on her though, she felt comfort in knowing she was able to bury people because it was a sense of closure and certainty in an uncertain world.
She sat on the soft ground of one in particular: Tali Anexus.
“I cannot imagine what you would say to me.” The only daughter to reach her twenty-second winter admitted.
“This...what we have accomplished, the unknown grounds we stand on...nothing could have prepared me for it.”
She knows her father would have never accomplished this, never would have dared to open his clan to such dangers. He was content with their state, a safe state that would ensure their survival, but Avalon wanted more than to survive. She wanted to live, to have her clan live, but the risk and cost was a toll she would not be the one to pay. That is the weight a chief must bare, to know the possibilities, the consequences, of their actions not only onto themselves, but those around them. They would either be the salvation or death of the clan and Tali refused to go into a realm blind. Avalon dared to go where none had gone, to risk the lives of her people to give them a chance at a better life. That dream was now a step closer at being a reality and yet...The first rain hit her head, then the next and the next until the sky’s tears poured and deafened the roar of the sea’s waves. They were the sky’s tears that hid Avalon’s, tears she would not shed in front of others, that she would allow to others to see weakness in.
“I miss you.” Avalon looked to the graveyard, “I know I will join you soon, but I shall not go easily. There is much to do and so little time and while I remain please watch over me, stay with me until the end.”
Avalon had become quite accustomed to Apparation, but it was not something she could before without aid. Unlike the witches and wizard who taught her, she must relay on connecting to Ley Lines as magical creatures such as elves do. It had its advantages and disadvantages, but it certainly made travel far more convenient. The chief decided once things settled and the others were fully healed then she would suggest teaching those willing in the clan. As she arrived at the outskirts of the clearing, a small cottage in its center; a lay of assorted crops at its side she found her presence discovered quickly.
Osmond and Eskil ran from the house, their mother not far behind. Many months had passed since they last saw another and as word reached of the demise of the Dark Lord, the same had reached of the names of the five most powerful in the age. The boys, having grown much for being seven winters old, dove into their aunt and knocked her off her feet. A dog pile was complete when Elene arrived, with a face full of joyful, relieved, tears. How scared she had been for Avalon, to know of no certainty, for days whether she fell in battle or not. Though the boys were not old enough to understand the reasons for war, they understood enough and were very observant in seeing their mother worry. They tried to help her in their own way, making crafts from the forest, inviting her to play with the forest’s Guardian; in their own way they did help.
Avalon noticed another’s magic, the presence of another, unknown sorcerer in the cottage. A boy, perhaps five winters or so winters older than the twins came from within. Despite the distance Avalon could see his features distinctly: a pale face, he appeared well-fed and was dressed in a manner that would have him as a noble-born. His eyes were a faded hazel, but most notably and what gave away his lineage was his platinum-blond hair. The boy kept to the door and waited for the original residents to return. Normally people have found Avalon’s presence to be as intimidating as her reputation, but this boy showed no fear, but a disturbing suspicion.
“I know I left three here and yet I return to find four.” Avalon joked to the witch who suddenly became quiet.
The boy came forward of his own volition and extended his hand. Someone was well taught and quite formal, a noble-born and educated indeed.
“Malfoy.” He introduced, “Armand Malfoy.”
Avalon smiled, understanding at last what the Dark Lord meant at that moment.
“Hello Armand, my name is Avalon Anexus, your mother and I knew each other.”
The boy nodded, “Mother told me about you, she said you were the strongest of them all and that if you came before her then you would watch over me instead.” He became quieter, “I know what she meant, just as my father my mother is gone and now...I am alone.”
Elene looked to Avalon as the twins ran up to Armand, “You have us!” They said in unison, “You are apart of our family now!”
Avalon kept her smile and kneeled to the boys’ height, “That is right, your mother and father may have gone from this world, but they will always be with you. Your mother entrusted you to Elene and I because she knew we would welcome you and treat you no different than our own blood.”
Armand could no longer keep a neutral face and began to weep for the loss of his only remaining parent. He knew she was gone, Elene had told him his mother would not be coming back for him, but he needed to hear it outright. Elene was much too kind to be blunt about the truth and regretfully entrusted Avalon to carry that burden however unfair it was. He and the twins went off to the woods, accompanied by the Guardian to take his mind off the pain he suffered. Avalon and Elene were left to sit outside the cottage and speak without careful wording.
“How long has he been here?” Avalon asked.
“Four months. Antares came herself and asked for me to take care of him...that was the last time either of us saw her.”
“You are aware what Antares was doing?”
“No and I do not want to know. She was my best friend, her family raised me when my own died and I am very happy to know she felt the same to leave her son in my care.”
Avalon frowned, “Do you intend to hide from the truth? To hide it from her son?”
“Her son knows what is necessary and I know enough not to open a healing wound.” Elene looked to the alchemist, “Do you intend to punish him for his mother’s actions?”
“That is not what I mean and you know it.” Avalon snapped, catching Elene off guard, “I know the truth of my father, what he was, what he did and though I will never accept he was just in his actions I still know it. The twins know their father and when they are older they will know why he died and who killed him. It would be cruel to paint a false picture of Antares to her son.”
Elene looked out to the woods, “They are not like you Avalon, it is as you said yourself, this is a different generation, one who will not have to face the same horrors we did.”
The alchemist eyed the witch, not liking where this conversation was heading.
“You have no intention of telling them why their father died.”
Elene was quiet.
“I will not allow it--”
“It is not your decision. They are my children, Armand as well, and I will raise them as I see fit.” Elene shot out.
Avalon did not take such a statement lightly, her eyes shaded gold, “Be very careful Elene, if I did not know any better, I would say you are dishonoring my brother memory and our family’s name.”
“Now you know that is not what I mean--”
“Enlighten me then.” Avalon probed, the witch now seeing she caused an anger to be reflected in her sister-in-law’s eyes.
Elene swallowed, “I only mean that...I think it is best if they are not told their grandfather killed their father for loving a witch.” She saw the alchemist’s eyes remained, “They are growing up in a world where they do not need to be raised to fight for their lives. Soon they will be able to live and love, have a family of their own and be without fear that they would have that family taken away by war.”
“Pain is not meaningless, it is a lesson and experience we share with the next generation. To deprive them of any or all pain is to allow them to grow complacent and weak.” The Chief of the Anexus explained, “We did not end all war Elene, we stopped one. War is apart of human nature no matter if they possess magic or not, but what we are building now is a foundation to help combat and even prevent future wars. Eskil and Osmond must be prepared to face that future and be able to do the same for their own families and do not give them even the choice to do that is wrong.”
Elene shook her head, “All I want is for them to have a better life than us.”
“And I as well, but to dismiss our own lives as without meaning and something that should be forgotten...what example are you to set for them?”
The boys were spotted walking back from the treeline.
Avalon calmed herself, exhaling loudly and allowing her eyes to shift back before she spoke again:
“They will not have the same childhood you or I did, but if they do not learn from the mistakes of their ancestors than history will be repeated. That is why...I have ordered all books and text recovered from Castle Walprgis to be saved and stored in the Ravenclaw House archives. I want people to know of both sides because too often is history made biased by victors. I will not dishonor Antares’s name in such a manner.”
She rubbed her slung arm, “I will not change my mind on the matter, the boys have a duty to know the truth however, when they have at least reached their majority they must be told.” Avalon watched the three, “And you will have to be the one to do it.”
Elene frowned, “Then you will really...?” She could not bare to say it.
“Unless something is done...I have four more years until I die.”
Armand could find no sleep, he perched himself on the roof of the cottage and lied on his back to watch the night sky. He liked it down here, there were less clouds, it was better to see the stars his mother fondly taught him of. While his father was a very strict man who taught his son should not waste time on daydreaming and focus on his studies, his mother was a bit softer on her approach. He could identify every constellation, no matter where on earth he maybe, so long as he could see the sky he could find his way home. If he truly desired, he could return to the castle on his own without much difficultly.
What was there to return to? His mother and father, grandfather and grandmother were all dead and he had no other living relatives...none that could help him at least. Secret to others, Armand had two older sisters, one ran away and was presumed dead long ago and the other was married off and traveled to a different country. It was difficult to contact her and truthfully Armand had not seen either of them for nearly a decade. His eldest sister, the one who ran away, would be in her early twenties by now. Despite the ordeals of his family, the Weasleys were kind to him and caring and despite what his father taught him to never trust those not of his kin, he felt there was no ill will to be found with these people. There was however, the matter of Avalon Anexus, his mother spoke of this woman with respect and a tenderness he had only witness her express towards her children. Perhaps that tenderness came about from a longing for the daughter she drove from home after an unsuspected arranged marriage.
This alchemist was someone he had only heard of and when people spoke about her it was as though they spoke a legendary hero. He imagined her to be a great warrior of fur armor, riding on the back of a Dire Wolf, to be honest he would often imagine she was a werewolf and could transform. When people spoke of her it was not as a terrible force or abomination of nature, but as an honorable knight who fought for justice and peace. His mother told him Avalon was indeed a very honorable person, who showed compassion towards her opponents and was merciless against her enemies, but she was someone trapped by duty. She was the leader of her people and as a leader she would put their needs before her own and although she came across as a quiet and docile person she had a side to her that was hidden from the rest of the world.
Avalon Anexus was a mystery to the rest of the world, but just as Armand's mother she was very devoted to her family and even more devoted to the will of what the Anexus called the Great Balance. Armand did not know at first what this Great Balance was and his mother's simplified explanation, at best, had him understand that there was magic within sorceress and magic within nature and the natural magic is what alchemists used. He wondered if that made alchemists muggles since they were not born with magic, but his mother assured him that one must be born with the ability to use magic, but it does not mean they are born with the ability to create it.
"May I join you?" Avalon asked from ground level.
Armand accepted and watched the alchemist climb from the same place he had. Magic would allow the both to be on the roof with ease, but there was satisfaction in doing things 'the old-fashioned-way'. The alchemist got onto the roof with little difficult with only one usable arm and sat down on the softened wood that was made so by a spell no doubt. She looked up to the sky and picked out familiar constellations.
"It looks like Leo the lion is out tonight." She began with a small chuckle, "My friend Godric never shuts up about it, says being born under the courageous lion must be fate."
Avalon sighed when leaning back on her hands, "My own birthday is in the summer, born under the great Lupus, the wolf. All things considering I find that more ironic than fate seeing as my clan had used dire wolves for ages."
"I was born under Draco, during its brightest time." Armand said.
"Ah a July baby then." Avalon smiled, "Two of my siblings, the twins, were born under that month. Also ironic, my family seems to have a habit for twins." She chuckled more at the last part, bring a slight smile to the boys face.
Armand felt comfortable, "My eldest sister was born during October, under Ursa Major, my second sister I believe was under Orion."
"I did not know there were other Malfoy children." Avalon said surprised.
"Neither of my sisters have had contact with us for many years, the last I ever saw of them was over a decade ago." He said sadly.
The alchemist lied down against the roof completely, folding her movable hand under her head to prop her up. There was a silence between them Avalon sought to break, she could feel the burning questions seeping off the boy and decided to give him the chance to relieve himself.
"My father taught me to never trust anyone not my kin."
Avalon huffed with amusement, "As did mine, but I was quite the rebellious child of his flock."
Armand smiled again, "My mother said that witches and wizards alike use one another for their own gain, especially those who wrongly use dark magic. They are the worst, willing the sacrifice any to achieve their own goals."
"Your mother was an intelligent and wise woman." Avalon praised, "It was an honor to have known her, however short it was."
"She told me that if I was ever in trouble and needed someone I would always be able to turn to you, that you were more just and true than her entire army and your own."
Avalon smiled, "That is quite the praise--"
"Also that you were naive."
The word slammed into Avalon's head.
The next dropped into her gut.
"And rather reckless."
The alchemist wanted to roll over and recover from the imaginary weights that nearly knocked her out.
"My, Antares sure knows how to pull punches." Avalon laughed, "She was a great mother to raise such a son and very proud I am certain."
Though it was dark, Avalon could she Armand was blushing.
"How...did my mother die?"
Avalon became quiet, contemplating the conversation her and Elene had earlier. Technically it applied more to the twins who were much younger and Armand was left to be watched over by Avalon, though raised by the witch. Still...he had a right to know and she suspected he knew the truth already, Antares was no fool she would have prepared her son for anything, even her own death. They both prepared for it.
"With a heart full of courage." Avalon began, "She did not fear death, she did not run from him, she faced him and went with him without regret. Your mother fought dark until the end, she was indeed a great and powerful witch, the most powerful of our age no doubt. She defended her ideals without wavier and believed in them no doubt even after her end."
The boy had such sad and heavy eyes of tears just barely held back by a wall of restraint. Avalon thought deeply about the woman who have saved her life even though they were enemies, that had given her every chance to join her rather than be destroyed by her and had Avalon been alone in her fight she wold have been.
"Your mother was a great witch and a good mother, you should be proud of her and though our ideals differed I am glad to have met her." The alchemist grabbed the boy's shoulder, "It is not weakness to weep for your mother Armand, never believe it is, it takes courage to show emotion in front of others. We have all lost people we love, unfortunately that is the price of war a price your mother sought to stop in her own way."
She watched him closely, "In my clan, we have a sayings: to live is to allow their memory to live on. It means so long as there is even a single person who remembers their loved ones that person will never truly be gone."
"You lost people?" Armand asked in soft tears.
Avalon gave an understanding nod, "But I gained so many more."