Author: LunaStorm PM
In resp. to a challenge about a MULTICROSSOVER HP,Naruto&FFVIII: They had come to this driven by despair, by hope. They had left their past, their world, what they had believed in and fought for. Now they faced new and unexpected challenges together...Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Chapters: 6 - Words: 41,111 - Reviews: 27 - Favs: 80 - Follows: 93 - Updated: 12-04-11 - Published: 02-24-11 - id: 6772640
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize – be it character, location, idea or line – belongs to others, most notably J. K. Rowling, Square Enix and Masashi Kishimoto; I may be playing with them but I make no profit from this.
Warnings for Chapter Four: character death.
Six. Like sorrow that sings softly and sweet
Harry opened his eyes and contemplated the vivid green and luminous blue before him. The sun was high and warm on his skin and he could feel a gentle breeze moving the grass he was laying on slightly. Only the soft sound of a watercourse nearby could be heard…
It was idyllic.
So why did he feel as if something was wrong?
An eerie note in the apparent peace…
It wasn't an unknown or unfamiliar one…
But it wasn't a smell he would associate with greens and blues… more like greys and reds and blacks…
It was the smell of smoke…
…and not the pleasant smoke of lit hearths in the winter or camp fires around which tales get exchanged in the summer nights…
…no, this was the smoke he'd smelled the day after the Last Battle…
…or the morning after the Quidditch World Cup of 1994…
It was the smell of ruins and remains.
As soon as his brain managed to process this, Harry was on his feet, swallowing down the wave of nausea that rose powerfully in him.
The beautiful landscape swayed around him and he staggered and caught himself and fought back another fit of queasiness, trying to recover his sense of equilibrium that seemed to have deserted him, leaving him dizzy and confused.
The word 'backlash' flittered through his brain.
He was sure it was important, but for the life of him couldn't exactly figure out why. At the moment, everything was hazy and made sense only in the vaguest way…
He forced himself to take short, shallow breaths, like his martial arts instructor had taught him, to avoid hyperventilation.
He concentrated on that simple concept slowly crystallizing in his foggy mind.
Details were… important.
Details could help.
If he was too dizzy to get the whole picture, he should nonetheless catalogue everything he could see and maybe then he would be able to put it all together.
Emotions, thoughts, could come later.
Observation was an excellent first step.
If he could just list everything, put each element in place, he was sure it would all end up making sense…
Bright green hills rolled in gentle waves all around him, a pleasing landscape whose beauty was marred by–
A village, Harry realized, a very small village, ruined.
Whatever had happened, the effects were like the combination of an earthquake and an explosion.
Bodies lay scattered everywhere in a wide area, much wider than the smouldering ruins, unconscious.
No, corrected his mind immediately with punctilious preciseness.
Some were out cold.
Others… well, there was no mistaking that heavy quality… he'd seen it too much to misinterpret it… Death had visited this place...
Very few others were stirring, looking as disoriented as he felt. Most were children. All were outside the area of the small village. Those who had awakened were milling about aimlessly, reaching out to the unconscious bodies but snatching their hands back at the last minute, not daring to actually touch.
He could not see his friends.
Painstakingly, he turned the attention onto himself and was distantly shocked to find he was gripping an odd-looking weapon.
It seemed to consist of some sort of sword blade with some type of gun mechanism built into the hilt, with its barrel running inside the length of the blade. A light but strong chain, as shiny as silver but looking infinitely harder than the common metal, was wrapped around the strange hilt.
The… thing… was absolutely striking, all polished metal and icy blues, its design elegant and essential. It was made of materials that looked exotic to Harry and vaguely made him think of dragons.
Swirling strands of memories made their way hazily into his mind… right… the strange young man from the reality he'd gatecrashed gave it to him… and told him… something… something important… he couldn't remember.
A groan nearby distracted him.
Not too far from where he was standing, he spotted a rather young woman – not very much more than a girl in fact – wearing what looked like a uniform of sorts: over black, form-fitting slacks and a t-shirt she had a sort of military-looking vest with a zipper down the middle, a number of pockets and three small pouches on each side of her chest.
Harry's attention was caught by the headband holding back her short black hair: a metal plate engraved with a circular, closed spiral, set on a band of navy blue cloth. It struck him as significant and he made a mental note about it for when his brain would start working again.
The girl groggily dragged herself to a sitting position, looked around and promptly started panicking.
Her high-pitched, incomprehensible words poured out in a frantic flow that made a sudden headache flare behind Harry's eyes. With a scowl, he activated the translation charm Luna had somehow gleaned from the journals and transferred to small, discreet pendants they all now wore.
With relief he found that the babbling suddenly made sense.
Or at least, every word was understandable.
"…happened? Oh, Kami! What… No, no, no, it can't have happened! The village! It's gone! How could this be? How could it have happened? It was an explosion! Someone attacked us! They destroyed us! How could they? A freaking explosion! Oh, Kami! The children! What happened to the children? Are they alright? Oh no, oh no, oh no! What if they're dead? Are they dead? Am I dead? No, no, I'm not dead! I'm not even hurt, good. But the children! The children! Oh, Kami, what if they're hurt! I'm their teacher! I'm responsible! What am I going to do? What am I supposed to do?..."
She was saying all this very fast, in an almost continuous stream. It made Harry wonder if she was drawing breath at all. With faint amusement, he thought that she reminded him of a very young and eager Hermione – albeit more frantic.
Then he frowned again, his mind slowly focusing on what she was saying rather than how.
"…come back to finish us? Oh, Kami, they'll come back and kill us all! I must protect the children! I'm the only one! The last adult! It's my responsibility! But I don't know what to do… but I'm the only one left… wait a minute!"
She abruptly rounded on Harry, eyes feverishly bright. "You! You're alive! I'm not the only one! You're an adult! And you're alive! Oh, thank Kami! I'm not alone after all! But wait! Who are you? How can you be alive? Everybody's dead! Except you! And me! But I've never seen you before! Who are you? Oh, no, oh, no! You're one of them, aren't you? You're the one who's attacked us! You destroyed our village! You!... Oh, but no, wait, I'm an idiot! If you were an enemy you'd have killed me already! So you're one of us, oh, that's a relief! But how come I've never seen you before? Our village is so small! Well, was… oh, Kami, everyone's gone! Except you… and you're unhurt… you must be a super special ninja! I know! You're one of the Black Arrows! That's why I've never seen you! You're super awesome! Oh, Kami, I can't believe it! We're saved! You're going to protect us all! I must find the children and check on them…"
Black Arrows? Attack? Harry wondered how he should respond to the girl's hysterical monologue, but in the end, he couldn't bring himself to say anything and she was interrupted, instead, by a sudden burst of movement on the grassy slope before them.
A girl of five or six tore through the bright green landscape at a run, waving wildly to Harry – or, more likely, to his companion.
Harry recognized the word 'Sensei!' amidst a string of incomprehensible words, that abruptly morphed into understandable cries when the child came close enough to be 'gripped' by the Translation Charm.
Harry made a mental note to talk to Luna about the range of the charm: wouldn't do to be unable to understand something shouted at them from a distance… unless they claimed some form of deafness or something…
Then he stiffened: the little girl's sniffling and frightened babbling was amounting to something concrete: someone was hurt – a woman.
"Show me where she is," he told her perhaps more harshly than he'd intended, startling teacher and child badly.
The girl pressed herself against her 'sensei', fixing wide, frightened eyes on Harry, who winced. He hadn't meant to scare her.
The teacher seemed to have lost all of her hyperventilating panic in front of a child in distress and was now talking soothingly, encouraging the girl to trust him, to obey him. Again, the term 'Black Arrows' came up, and the girl's eyes went even wider, turning from frightened timidity to wary awe, which wasn't much better in Harry's book.
He was uneasy: sooner or later he would have to straighten the misunderstanding out. But… but for now, the fact that they were mistaking him for one of these 'Black Arrows', whatever they were, meant the girl calmed down and did exactly as he said, showing him and the young 'sensei' where the injured woman lay.
Harry recognized from afar the sophisticated lady that had helped him bring everybody here. Her black dress was an austere, incongruous element against the cheery brightness of the grass under the blaze of the afternoon sun.
He ran, dropping to his knees to her side amidst a group of children that had gathered around her, looking dazed and scared. He glanced awkwardly at their distressed faces, uncertain about how to deal with their upset. After a moment he shrugged uneasily, doing his best to ignore the tendril of guilt he felt at not taking care of them, because he simply didn't know how!
Instead, he concentrated on the woman now lying at his feet.
She really was lovely… but she was also as pale as a sheet – or a ghost, he thought bleakly, his heart sinking fast. He'd seen too many people on the brink of death to mistake the situation.
The beautiful woman was dying.
She lay quiet, suffering, a slight grimace of pain on her beautiful features, in an eerie mimicry of the strange woman she had been assisting on her home world. A tragically fitting comparison…
He recognized with dread that there was nothing he could do to save her: whatever was killing her – an injury? magical exhaustion? something else entirely? – Harry was powerless to stop it.
Some of the children must have realized the same, for they were sniffling in sorrow and fright, or outright wailing. A blond boy was shouting angrily, at the woman, at Harry, at the other children, at the world at large. Harry had a sudden thought of surprise at how normal they looked – dressed in jeans and t-shirts and colourful sweats like any child would in his home world – but even he knew that it was just a random thought designed to take some of the pressure off his whirling mind, as the reality of the situation revealed itself grimmer and grimmer.
Impotence and rage rose within him. There was nothing to do. Nothing!
He moved instinctively to grasp the dying woman's hand, wanting to offer what comfort he could, but she withdrew it jerkily. Harry frowned, perplexed. She was looking worriedly around, seeming unexpectedly panicked, and trying to form words despite the obvious effort it was taking him.
Perplexed, Harry made a soothing noise and tried to touch her again, but she again refused, looking frantic. Broken words started tumbling fast from her bluish lips amidst painful gasps. What was going on?
Disconcerted, he watched her looking around wildly. She was frantic, yet quite clearly didn't want Harry's help. But what was she seeking then?
The girls that had come with her were crying and speaking rapidly and it was all gibberish to Harry, who could not understand, why wasn't the translation charm working? Then he thought that of course it wouldn't work, they came from a different world, the pendant wasn't geared for their language… but wait… the man who'd given him the weapon… he'd understood him… he had spoken English, hadn't he?... and now that he thought of it, wasn't it odd?...
Harry shook the confusing thoughts away as he focused on the woman again, but there was nothing he could do and he knew it and something told him that she knew it too. He didn't dare reach for her again and with a heavy heart, resigned himself to simply watch her die.
She, however, seemed to still have something to accomplish, for she was frantically scanning the faces around her, searching, searching… but for what?
A small, brown haired girl in green dungarees kneeled beside her, pleading earnestly in the strange language, but she too was refused, the grief and horror heavy in the lady's gaze. It was as if she could not bring herself to do what she so obviously needed to…
Then another, slightly older girl came closer, curious even if uncertain, and Harry's translation charm started working again. "What is going on? Can we help?"
Fast as a striking snake, the dying woman grabbed the new girl's wrist in a vice-like grip and Harry jumped in surprise. What was going on?
The 'sensei' he'd woken next to was shouting worriedly, but Harry, feeling both perplexed and fascinated, motioned to her to calm down and let things play out. He could barely make out what was happening.
It was as if something was moving, transferring, from the lady to the girl and it felt so familiar… energy, magic, pouring into the younger female, and Harry realized, eyes widening in shock, that the woman was transferring her magic to the girl, and he felt horror, for this was wrong, it couldn't be happening, it couldn't be done!...
And then her unfathomable eyes, those onyx pools that had captivated him before with their remote strength, caught him again, and he was eerily reminded of another pair of black eyes boring into him, long ago in the desolation of the Shrieking Shack; and in their dark depths he read guilt and sorrow and the grim resignation of someone who'd done what is right and knows the cost will be too high…
And then she was gone, her gorgeous gaze blank and empty at last, her body lax in death, and Harry felt his own eyes dim with sorrow, with grief for a woman that he hadn't known, could not understand, and yet had touched him so deeply.
A terrible cry rang by his side, and jerking his head he managed to barely catch the oddly familiar icy-blue eyes of the child that he'd met as an adult, before the boy bolted.
Without really thinking on it, Harry sprang after him and caught the dark yellow and black t-shirt, slowing the child down and sweeping him into his arms, even as screams of fear and loneliness and utter rage burst from the boy.
He didn't mind the fury.
He knew it from bitter experience…
He remembered all too well how he'd felt after Sirius' death… the unbearable hollow feeling, too terrible to think about or examine, the dark hole inside him where Sirius had been… and the white-hot anger blazing, filling him with the desire to rush at Dumbledore and break him, too, shake him, shatter his calm, so that he, too, would hurt…
So he let the child kick and punch and scream at him, and just like Dumbledore had done for him, he offered stillness and calmness… and simply held the boy, silently cursing the fate that forced him to play such a role for a child so young, too young…
He held onto him as the boy screamed and hit him and then sobbed and collapsed against his chest and held on with all his strength, crying his grief and rage and fear and loneliness and confusion into Harry's shirt, and then sighed wearily, more tired than if he'd run for miles.
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the horror-stricken 'sensei' cradling the girl who had 'received' the 'magic': she was unconscious. He tried wordlessly to reassure the young teacher and the others around her, despite feeling out of his depth himself.
Then at last Neville's tall form appeared behind the small group and Harry felt such a powerful wave of relief that his knees buckled, suddenly weakened: he hadn't even grasped just how worried – terrified – he had truly been when he couldn't see his friends – too scared to let his mind so much as acknowledge the possibility of having lost them.
The 'sensei' eyed Neville with blatant distrust, clutching the unconscious girl protectively to her chest, and Harry sighed wearily: "Let him examine her. He's our Healer." He vaguely heard that the last word came out as 'medic-nin'. Huh… could work, he supposed…
As Neville knelt gently next to his patient, Harry's eyes jumped quickly around, even as he slowly carried the boy in his arms back to where he'd inadvertently dropped his strange weapon, seeking his friends.
They were alright! They were alright!
Luna – there, hugging a sobbing blond girl, as always serene in the face of grief… – Ron – grim looking but unhurt – Hermione – she was scowling at him, uh-oh… – Ginny – apart from everyone, scanning her surroundings – Draco – charmingly talking with two slightly older children who looked at him with stars in their eyes… he'd probably ferret out any and all information they would need, noted Harry with detached approval…
He met their eyes for an instant, in turn, and with every gaze they returned another part of him loosened and relaxed, relieved.
They are alright, his heart sang silently, they are alright!...
He let the brown-haired child slid to the ground and pushed him gently towards Luna, who was drawing all the children from the unexpected dimension together.
"I'll try and work out enough of their language for a translation spell to work," she told him quietly.
Harry nodded: "Good thinking." He picked up his weapon from where it had fallen, next to the mysterious dead woman. He turned it over and over in his hands, then let his eyes slide towards the boy who'd given it to him – in Harry's past, in the child's future.
"Hermione…" he started slowly, mind racing as he tried to put into words what he knew had to be done. "I need you to gather any data that might help us recreate the Ritual in reverse… for the children we accidentally dragged here to go back… when the time is right…"
"Impossible!" she rebuked him, outraged. "It was all I could do to make it work for us, in case you didn't notice, it was touch and go there for a moment, no thanks to you I might add, and you want me to do it for a bunch of kids I don't know, towards a place I have no clue about? Just how do you think…"
"I don't care," he cut her off. "I don't care how difficult it is or how long it'll take or… I just… I don't know the hows or whens or anything, but… just… just do your best to give us a starting point, ok?" He took a deep breath. "We did it, so we will do it."
"What are you...?"
"Hermione!" he exclaimed, exasperated.
Her scowl darkened even more, but she nodded curtly and stalked off without any more protests.
Harry shook his head to clear it. They would have to address the whole time compression mess, eventually, but right now, there were other priorities. "We need to think of security… a perimeter or something…" he started thinking aloud, his voice firmer than he expected.
"I'll take care of that," came Ginny's brusque voice.
Harry nodded again and she was off, a terse nod her only acknowledgement of her friends.
"Right. Next. Information. Draco…" he turned to the blond with a vague wave of his free hand.
"On it," the Slytherin answered promptly. "I'll give everyone a rundown later on."
"Food," continued Harry down his mental list.
He was slightly surprised when it was again Draco who answered: "The children who survived are a class… they were out on a survival training exercise… learning precisely how to procure food in this environment…"
Harry smiled faintly, getting the point, and turned to the young teacher, who was watching Neville like a hawk while the tall young man patched up a badly scraped knee.
She'd been paying attention, though, because she nodded sharply: "Oh, yes, sure, we can do it, no problem, they're good, I mean, you know, for being children, but they can totally do this, I know I've taught them more than enough, and it's a good thing that they have something to do, I mean, you know, to keep their minds off…" she swallowed convulsively "…and anyway, we can do this easily, only, you know, what if, I mean, hypothetically speaking, I'm not saying it'll happen, but someone did destroy the village, and what if they're still around, I mean, you know, waiting to finish us off, I would, I mean, if I were sent on a mission like this, I'd stay around to see it completed, so maybe there are still, you know, enemy nins, and food we can handle, sure, no problem, and the standard dangers around here, of course, but they're children, I mean, sure they'll be ninja one day, or should be, but right now, what if someone attacks, I'm not sure…"
"I'll watch over you," said Ron loud and clear.
The teacher stopped her babble and closed her mouth abruptly, turning a pair of bewildered eyes on the redhead. She looked uneasy and a little intimidated all of a sudden.
"I'll watch over them," reiterated Ron turning to Harry, evidently for approval.
"Very well," said Harry in what he hoped was an encouraging tone. He watched for a few moments as Ron started organizing the… class, Harry supposed… then moved his attention around, checking on his friends.
Everyone was deep in their chosen task.
His gaze moved again, encompassing the whole charred area… and the bodies. He sighed deeply.
Someone had to, he reminded himself, it was only right; and he couldn't ask anyone else if he wasn't willing to do it himself.
So with clenched teeth, he moved towards the nearest corpse.
One by one, Harry moved the bodies to the riverbank, laying them side by side just out of reach of the water lapping the grass.
There were so many. Memories of another battlefield assailed him, of corpses grouped together next to Dumbledore's White Tomb, near the Hogwarts Lake. Old, familiar grief held him in his grip as the faces of lost friends seemed to replace the unknown dead for fleeting instants.
It took time, and by the time he'd finished, the afternoon was at a close and the others, their tasks completed, had slowly joined him.
Last, he gathered the strange woman in his arms, lifting her gently. She was light, almost frail, but still beautiful in death.
He moved slowly, careful not to get entangled in her long black gown, and lowered her pale, still form among the others.
He felt empty as he straightened from the lovely corpse, but at the same time, he could feel the eyes of the children she'd left behind on him and knew they were expecting something from him, he hardly knew what, but he could feel their grief-stricken gazes burning onto him, compelling.
Pointless, a part of him thought, there's nothing to do for her… there never will be anything to do for her, not anymore… but all the same, he gave in to the impulse, never even glancing at his silent audience but painfully aware of how keenly they watched his every move.
Slowly, he untangled the shiny chain adorning his new weapon, detaching it from the handle it had been wrapped around. Then he moved it with quiet gravity over the dead woman's chest, letting it go a little at a time, until it pooled smoothly on her chest, twisting around the pale hands Harry gently guided to lie on it.
A small dark head of spiky hair, barely reaching his waist, was suddenly next to him.
He bent to lift the serious child and stayed silent as the boy struggled to put something on the woman too. It looked like a rope bracelet, the kind children wove as good-luck charms… On the other side of the body, Luna was helping a sniffling blond child do the same, then a small, brown-haired girl that was outright sobbing…
The dark haired child twisted in Harry's embrace and threw his little arms around him, burying his head in his neck. The wizard stepped aside, letting Ginny and a spiky-haired little boy have their turn.
Others were paying their respects to different bodies now, murmuring goodbyes, touching a little, sobbing quietly, and Harry waited patiently, unmoving.
When everybody left the rows of dead and gathered in an irregular line a little away, Harry stepped forth in the rapidly expanding twilight, placing himself halfway between the living and the dead.
He hesitated only for an instant. The Seal Master's writings had mentioned cremation as the generally accepted funeral rite in these lands and so he raised his hand, focusing on getting the effect he needed just right. Magic is will, he reminded himself… in his mind, he chanted clearly: Incendio.
Controlled flames sprang forth in a burst, enveloping the first corpse, then jumping to the next, and the next, and the next, until they all burned gently, the flames dancing and twisting slowly, as if subdued.
The setting sun painted the horizon with garish splashes of orange and gold and purple, while the grass under his feet grew darker by the second. Harry felt choked up.
His mind flew to other funerals, other sorrows, Molly's pale face, Hagrid's sobs, the odious, pompous speeches after the war, even Aragog's hairy body… Luna's simple, touching goodbye to Dobby… his parents cold tombs under the snow, and how he'd felt before them…
Pointless… all of it… the dead do not appreciate any of it… they are beyond caring…
But the living do, a small part of him replied, and he cocked his head at the realization.
Hermione came up at his side, raising her hand to change the fames' colour to blue with a flicker. She always was good with fires.
The living need this… a chance to say goodbye, even if it isn't heard…
Ron was on his other side now, his hand raised too, faltering as if unsure of what to do, then coming to a decision. He cast, and the flames danced higher, curling beautifully against the red horizon.
A chance to say 'I love you' – better late than never… or simply to express the chocking weight of grief without shouting and breaking everything within reach…
He chanced a quick glance behind and saw that everybody had raised their hand in imitation, some confidently, some clumsily, awkwardly, but all together, somehow united.
He turned to contemplate the burning pyres, and let nightfall unfurl over them all.
Yes... those who are left behind need this chance... the chance to state, firmly, I do care… I'm still alive… I'm still human… and I… care.
The dead were gone for good and didn't care… but the living… the living did.
Later, much later, when nothing but slowly dying embers remained of the pyres and darkness enveloped everything, after they'd managed to get the children fed around small campfires and Luna and Hermione had very discreetly conjured sleeping bags for everyone, the seven friends managed to get away by themselves for a little while.
Harry felt beyond exhausted. Nor did the others fare any better: the soft white light of a low powered lumos made them look like tired ghosts.
For long minutes, they just breathed together, reluctant to break the silence and face the innumerable questions and problems that awaited them.
Eventually, Ginny started to fidget, then move about restlessly, then grumble.
"Why are you so grumpy, Firelocks?" asked Luna serenely.
Everybody turned to stare at her – or, in Ginny's case, glower.
"Firelocks?" the temperamental young woman growled. "Where the hell did that come from?"
Luna didn't lose her composure. "I have chosen nicknames for all of us. Our real names are bound to sound foreign and strange and that isn't a good thing right now. Nicknames can be translated and will allow us to pass unnoticed. Harry already has his…"
"What?" blurted out the young man in question, surprised.
Ron quickly turned his laugh into a cough but Harry caught 'Sharpy' in there anyway. He scowled.
"…and it's easily shortened in 'Wind'," came Luna's voice hurriedly – evidently, she didn't want him to oppose her idea and so was quick to stave off the chance of mocking him. "I, myself, would like to be known as Moonshine," she concluded.
Harry smiled faintly. Thinking that anything was better than discussing their actual situation, he decided to try and keep the topic going. Besides, he was grateful that she'd given him a way to counter Ron's teasing and so attempted to return the favour: "Shine for short?"
"Or Moon," she nodded. "My real name means Moon after all…"
"Oh, and of course, since you would like to be known as Moonshine, we'll call you Moonshine, but we get stuck with whatever ridiculous thing you've chosen, because what we would like has no relevance whatsoever! Never mind that I positively loath this stupid nickname…"
"If you don't like it, you can easily choose something else," replied Luna with dignity, rather offended. "Mine was only a suggestion. I meant no offence."
Harry winced at how stiff she was.
"Well, it's a stupid suggestion!"
"Then give us a different one," interjected Malfoy angrily. "Because if we go with my idea, then Weaselette…"
"Shut the hell up Ferret!" shouted Ron, instantly incensed at the slur against his sister.
"You don't even know what she'll call you. Would serve you well if it's something idiotic…" exclaimed Ginny hotly.
"Luna wouldn't...!" cried Malfoy, indignant. Harry was surprised at his vehemence and his confidence in her.
"I'd thought Vipertooth for him," interjected Luna calmly. "Because it's a type of dragon, so it has a connection to his real name," she shot him a mischievous look from the corner of her eyes, "and because we can shorten it in 'Viper', which rather suits his temperament!"
Draco's pleased grin vanished in a scowl, but then he seemed to think better of it and smiled again, a bit reluctantly. "I suppose I deserve that…" He thought a moment. "Besides, it's a brilliant name. Thank you, Shine!" he winked.
"I can't believe you!" shouted Ginny, outraged. Then she rounded on Luna. "And if you think I'll just accept this…"
"So what will we call you?" asked Luna, regarding her coolly.
Ginny opened and closed her mouth a few times. "Well, I'll think of something!" she said angrily.
"Blaze," Harry blurted out in a murmur. He regretted it immediately, because Ginny shot him a furious look.
He shrank on himself. "It's just… it fits you, what I think of you, you don't have to choose this, it's just what I would choose…"
"Shut up, Sharpy," she hissed.
Neville coughed politely, catching their attention. Then he pointed to himself and raised an eyebrow in question. It seemed Harry wasn't the only one who wanted to keep the conversation on this light topic.
Luna smiled. "I think Blackthorn suits you. Thorn for short."
Neville smiled back, pleased.
"And Quicksilver for Hermione," added Luna.
The older girl looked completely caught off guard, but not displeased.
"And me?" whined Ron. Harry could see eagerness and resignation in his eyes, as if he couldn't wait to find out but expected it to be horrible.
Luna hesitated, which had Harry raise his eyebrows in shock, and told him almost shyly: "Thunderbolt."
Ron looked surprised and very pleased. "That's wicked!"
Luna blushed and Harry gaped.
"Alright. Fine," said Draco – Viper – briskly. "Now that this is somewhat over…" he coolly ignored Ginny's angry protest, "I'd like to know… what the hell is that?"
Everybody looked down at where he was pointing at the mysterious, wicked looking weapon still clutched in Harry's hand. He hadn't left it for more than a few minutes at a time the whole day.
Harry's eyes were drawn to it again. It really was beautiful… and powerful… and – in a word – cool.
He ran a finger on the symbol etched on its revolver-like handle, shaped in the same silvery – yet much, much harder than silver – metal as the blade. A roaring lion. It pleased him inordinately, gave him a sense of warmth and comfort despite the iciness of the sword it adorned. He felt both happy and a bit embarrassed that even after all this time, after all that happened, he could still be proud of being a Gryffindor. On the miniature, a stylized heart was marked with a deeper shade of the metal.
Ron's finger retraced it after Harry's and he snickered: "A Lion's Heart. Appropriate!"
"Only you, Potter," muttered Draco, shaking his head half in envy, half in fond exasperation as he examined the wonderfully crafted blade. "Only you."
"Yes, well, but all the same… what is it?" asked Hermione.
"Oh…" Harry said a bit sheepishly. "Well, you see…"
The others snorted. "Right, Potter, right," chuckled Ron. "We were there, after all. You know, I think you're probably the only one in whatever universe who can manage to gain a mythical super-weapon by accident while strolling through the time-continuum…"
"What is it, anyway?"
"It's – well – I don't know, really. Some sort of sword, but with a firing mechanism like a rifle too. See? It's – it's like a cross between a blade and a gun. So… a Sword-gun? Sword-rifle? Rifle-blade?" he tried.
"Gunblade," suggested Luna serenely.
"Gun…blade…" said Harry slowly, testing the word out. He glanced down at the elegant weapon. The name fit it to a T. "Gunblade," he confirmed decisively with a small smile to Luna.
They all pretended to ignore Ginny's grumbled sarcasm about the blonde's naming tendencies and her nasty references to Snorcknacks and Blubbindgers, though Harry noticed how Luna's eyes narrowed angrily against the other girl.
"All this is well and good, but I think it's time that we discuss what we're going to do now," said at last Hermione with a sigh. "I mean, there are those people we accidentally brought along to consider, too," she didn't refrain from shooting Harry a reproachful look, "and I really don't know how we'll fix that mess; plus we don't exactly know where we are or if this world has changed since the Seal Master's departure and…"
But she never finished the sentence, because abruptly, they all stiffened at once, heads swivelling to stare at a precise spot in the dark.
The perimeter alert spell had been breached.
A/N: The title of this chapter comes from the refrain of one of my favourite songs, Blind Guardian's "When sorrow sang": The air was filled with tears/ Full of sadness and grief/ When sorrow sang softly and sweet…