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“What do you mean, ‘no way’?” I asked after a shock second.

“We can’t give you a Phoenix; we need them ourselves,” the Maya priest responded.

“Surely we can find something to give you in return,” Antonius suggested.

The priest shook his head. “No, we’re not interested.”

“Do you really think it’s for you to decide where ‘your’ Phoenixes go?” I asked. “They’re intelligent creatures, and they won’t ask you if they want to leave. It would be a lot easier if you consented, but that’s all.”

Heck, me and my temper were actually getting me into trouble with a culture that hadn’t even been discovered yet.

Even Admiral Antonius looked a bit shocked – but impressed.

The Maya gasped in disbelief. “You wouldn’t steal a Phoenix!” he exclaimed.

“Why, no, I wouldn’t. But I might make it known what I’m looking for. Someone might want to help us… a Phoenix might decide for him- or herself that he or she wants to come back with us…”

That was nothing short of blackmail but it still sounded better than threatening to simply steal a Phoenix. I took a deep breath. This world’s history was slowly but steadily growing into a complete mess.

“You can’t do that,” the Maya said. He had calmed down a bit already. “Just imagine what the people would think. They’d probably doubt our power.”

“Oh no, what a disaster!” Antonius remarked sarcastically.

“Yes, that would be a disaster! You can’t just show up here and destroy the structure of our society.”

“We’re not planning to do that,” I tried to soothe him, “unless you force us to,” I added on second thought.

“Now… if I gave you a Phoenix… you couldn’t know it would want to stay with you. As you said, they have a will of their own.”

“We could at least try,” I said.

“Plus we have evidence that this bird will stay with us,” Antonius added.

“Oh, do you?” the Maya priest inquired.

“Yes,” Antonius answered, “Although we’re not exactly planning on sharing it with you. Look here. We can’t discuss this with you forever. We’ve got a ship waiting for us, and the crew will be getting nervous soon. We can’t waste any time. Do we get our Phoenix or not?”

The Maya was clearly taken aback by his straightforward response. He thought for a moment, then said, “Go out and see if one of them is willing to go with you. But don’t let anyone see you; as I said, I don’t want any trouble with our people. If you find a bird – fine. If not – I don’t care. In either case, the sooner you leave, the better.”

After this conversation we went back outside.

“Why is it that he doesn’t like us?” Antonius asked mock innocently, and we both laughed.

“Let’s see if we can find a Phoenix and get back to Europe,” I suggested.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to ‘find a Phoenix’ – it’s so easily said yet hard to do. Phoenixes usually come to you if they think they should. You know how Fawkes always shows up when he’s needed by those that deserve his help.

There was close to nothing we could do to attract a Phoenix; you can’t set up traps for them or something like that, naturally. All we could do was concentrate on why and how much we needed a Phoenix, and hope that he or she caught our mental signal. Phoenixes are, as you know, natural Legilimentes.

And so we just sat there for hours, hoping that one of these precious creatures would come.

“This is confusing me,” Mc Gonagall interrupted Moody’s tale. “You keep saying that you changed so much about our timeline… but what did it look like before all that happened? I can’t remember anything out of the ordinary.”

“Well, that’s the big riddle. I have no idea if the world looked a lot different before I started, or if it would have if…” Moody hesitated, clearly confused himself. “Albus tried to find out what had happened to time after I returned… but so far he hasn’t come up with anything.”

“Not exactly satisfying,” McGonagall complained, “Time can be so unbelievably weird… But I’m sorry, I interrupted your story.”

“I had almost finished anyway. The rest is quickly told. We really did find a Phoenix.”

“That’s good to hear! But it’s just logical, I suppose… If you hadn’t succeeded, we wouldn’t be here right now, would we?”

“True,” Moody admitted, “Well, as I said, we found a wonderful Phoenix who actually came back to ancient Rome with us. From there he found his own way, aiding different people throughout history.”

“Amazing… and what happened to the Admiral? He must have been a fascinating person!”

“Oh, he was! I can’t tell you what happened to him… After I had gone back into our time, I tried to find out more about him, but I couldn’t. His name wasn’t mentioned in the history books I looked in.”

McGonagall got herself yet another cup of tea. “Odd, isn’t it? From your description I’d have thought he was exactly the type of person who’d make into the history books.”

“Maybe he decided to work as a sorcerer after all,” Moody considered. “Not for the Circle of Ostia, of course, but he could still have dedicated his life to magic in some form or the other.”

“That’s possible,” McGonagall admitted. “I guess we won’t find out, will we?”

“Probably not.”

They sat in silence for a few moments until McGonagall asked, “Do you know exactly what happened to the Phoenix? There are few ways to really kill a Phoenix… he’s probably still alive.”

“That’s true,” Moody said. “I’ve never actually considered that. But, you see, Phoenixes all look pretty much alike for me.”

McGonagall laughed. “For me too,” she admitted. “But who knows, maybe one day this particular Phoenix will let you know who he is?”

“If I didn’t know better I’d say you’re reading too many fairy tales, Minerva,” Moody teased her.

“Who said I don’t?”

In a burst of fire, Fawkes landed on the kitchen table and dropped a roll of parchment, then disappeared into flames again.

Moody picked up the roll and read it.

“It’s a report from one of our people at the Ministry. It seems that we’re getting closer to the secret of – “ he broke off.

“Yes?” Minerva asked.

“Nothing… it’s just… for a moment I could’ve sworn that there were fiery letters on the parchment, forming the words ‘It was me’…”

A/N: If you want to read more about Admiral Antonius, you are invited to take a look at "Tales of Gold and Power". In either case, thank you for reading "Phoenix"! =)

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