Author's notes: Ta-dahhhh! After many years off the map, I'm finally back! It's not like I ever stopped writing. Ever. It's just that I didn't wanted to start posting chapter and feeling the pressure of writing for the next. Hell yes, this whole story is typed down and ready to go! Special thanks to Kgruenner for a first round of proofing!
Disclaimer: I said it wasn't her Harry Potter, that this one is from a totally different universe but then her lawyer said all Harry Potter's shared one soul and thus, were the same. I was like: what?! A lawyer that knows what a soul is?!
They found the house easily enough. It was one story tall with a basement. The dark red bricks spoke of a time when building houses was the foundation of a home instead of an investment. There was one chimney on the right side and nothing technological like air conditioning or a satellite dish was apparent. The front yard needed a cut. No cars sat in the lane, neither were there lights in the windows. The nearest neighbor was a hundred yards away.
"That's the place. Let's get in," the boy said, taking a lock pick from his vest.
The girl followed him silently, her long and sandy-blond hair bouncing behind her as she walked. She had a leather-bound book in her right hand with no indication of its content on the cover.
The boy, no older than fifteen, tried the front door handle just in case. The door opened without a sound. The former occupant left the place unlocked, probably they were in a hurry. The boy turned his head towards his companion who nodded at him. She pulled on a thin leather string from her neck and revealed a small, round silver amulet from beneath her blouse. As the moonlight struck its surface, the amulet started to glow softly of the same light.
The boy pushed the door open, making way for the full moonlight and the crescent moon amulet to dissipate the darkness.
"The basement," simply told the younger girl, her steps so light she didn't made a sound.
The boy held the door open, letting her enter first. Good manners had nothing to do with it: Harry knew this place was packed. He wouldn't go in with only the light coming from the open door. Harry Potter followed Luna Lovegood closely, noting distractingly the few drops of dried blood on the threshold. Luna was already walking down the short flight of steps to the basement. The underground floor was made of bare cement and the door to the basement proper was an old piece of hollow wood. The blond witch turned the handle and pushed it open, Harry only a step behind. They felt no chills, no goosebumps but they knew it was there.
They were there. The main room was large with two long sofas forming a L-shape that faced a huge television. A small fireplace was at the opposite side of the room and a clean wood rack ran in-between, along the wall. On either of their sides were two doors, probably leading to small bedrooms. As Harry turned on himself to fully take in the room, the shaft of a thick lance descended upon him.
Harry raised his arms in a reflex, managing to stop the attack a scant few inches away from his neck. The lance was at least seven feet long, the last foot of it being a large blade. Holding it was a suit of armor in dull gray, the only sound of its presence being the slight sound of the metal pieces. It made no growls, it had no glowing red eyes: just an eerie presence of a simple attacker eager to deliver certain death.
Harry pulled the lance free of the suit's gloved hands before spinning it around and deliver a single blow to its neck, neatly decapitating it. The helm flew sideway and the rest of the suit fell soundlessly down, like a puppet with its strings cut.
By the time Harry had turned toward Luna, who waited about two steps away, the suit vanished, like the lance. Harry stepped closer to her, unfazed. Luna took the two remaining steps leading to a closed door in the far wall, near the last bedroom. There was no point in searching the place: the path was clear. The door was of another kind of wood and looked as if the owner had taken some plywood and had painted it blood red before putting it on hinges. There was no handle and no lock but Harry knew better than try to simply push it. A small tray was beside the door with a blank sheet of paper on it.
The petite blonde at his side opened her thick leather-bound journal to a previously marked page and consulted it briefly.
"Three drops of lemon blood," she stated, stepping aside to let Harry face the tray. Harry took a quarter of a lemon from a small bag in his pocket and stood before the sheet of paper. Blood of a lemon.
The midnight-haired teen held the piece of fruit in one hand, close to his wrist, and took a small knife into his other. He then slashed the innocent fruit sideways, letting out a moan as if he had cut his own flesh. Three drops of juice fell onto the paper at once and two more followed to quickly for Harry to pull his hand back in time.
"Shit!" he exclaimed, annoyed, as the piece of paper became unnaturally damp and began to shrink on itself from the corner.
Luna looked unperturbed at the paper as it shrunk, folding on itself over and over again. It took on a triangular shape no more than two inches wide. A damp, ruby red circle bloomed from inside the paper taking the shape of a small mouth with red, full lips adorned with four fangs. It just stayed there, opened, un-breathing.
"You've got to position it with your eye," Luna told Harry, not even looking back at her journal.
Harry slowly bent down, not hesitating whatsoever when faced with Luna's strange instructions. He neared the piece of paper until he almost touched it. The mouth jumped at his face with a snarl, targeting his right eye. It tried to bite him and stuck on Harry's glasses.
Harry turned toward the plain door and leaned forward until the damp mouth was firmly on it and the paper stuck. The mouth kept squirmed and snarled once more as Harry pulled back. The paper seeped in the wood, taking the shape of an old fashioned key hole, the mouth being sucked in. Harry softly blew on it to dry it faster, eliciting only more snarling. He stood back up, stepped away from the door and took a handkerchief from a pocket, his part done. By the time he cleaned his glasses, Luna had the door open. They stepped inside without another word.
This room clearly was a small work place. There was a huge desk full of small drawers, the whole thing made of thick, solid wood. It was painted the same red as the door. A chair was pushed in a corner, also red. A thick, wide plank was bolted from wall to wall under the small, ground–level window, in the exact same tone color as the desk and the chair. Pots filled with nails and screws were lined up against the wall on the make-shift workstation alongside an utility cabinet with even more drawers and random tool boxes. An air compressor rested under the workstation.
Luna went straight to the workbench and started opening drawers. While she worked, Harry circled her, looked under the workbench, checked the shadows all around the room and finally took in the room itself. For a short moment, only the sound of Luna's searching troubled the unnatural silence. Then, Harry saw the bottom drawer of the wooden desk open noiselessly and a single dark shape sped out of it. Seeing the form that the Nightmare took this time, Harry figured that Luna must have triggered it.
The cockroach was easily as big as his fist. It sped on the floor with a light clicking noise typical for insects on a hard floor but the noise was too clear, too recognizable to be real. It was the sound you expected something to make, like the sounds the armor had made moving. Harry didn't try to step on it directly. God only knew what would come from under his feet if he did. He threatened it with clumsy stumps only to then target a good kick at it. It bounced twice on the floor and one more time on the walls before disappearing. It didn't come back.
Luna wasn't done yet so Harry knew it meant it wasn't over yet. There had to be a Nightmare left somewhere. As he walked down the small room looking left and right, he turned towards the open door to find a huge dark shadow moving like rolling smoke coming toward the him. Harry took a step back and to the right, trying to see what was coming out of it.
A jet black panther, about five feet long, pounced on him with its front paws forward and its teeth bared. A soundless snarl escaped its mouth and Harry didn't have the time to ponder why he heard nothing since he didn't know the sound a panther normally made. He had just enough time to twist while falling on his side, looping an arm around the creature's neck. His hands clasped together and when Harry landed on the creature's side, his arm had it in a choke hold. He pulled hard on its throat, preventing it from biting his arms.
"You ain't so tough..." grunted Harry while smirking.
As he said that, the beast started to use its legs to get back its footing. It didn't seem to matter that the claws raked on cement, it started to get back up despite Harry's hold.
Luna chose that moment to walk by. With a crayon, she drew more whiskers on the creature's face, which looked more like stripes. It remembered Harry of a tiger's stripes. The Nightmare's color shifted to orange with large, black stripes.
"I get it now!" said Harry. "It's not a panther, it's a plush toy!"
The panther popped out of existence only leaving behind a small tiger plush toy with a round, surprised mouth. Harry tossed it in a corner where it disappeared. As Luna and Harry stepped out of the room, the boy turned towards his partner, raising an eyebrow. She held a piece of crystallized light in the palm of her hand, a satisfied smile on her lips.
"Yes!" cheered Harry, pumping a fist in the air.
They climbed the stairs back up and left the house with the door wide open. It was a signal to the previous occupant that the place was now clean. Harry stretched on the threshold, Luna at his side, and both teens looked up at the sky, watching the clouds filter the full moon's light.
As if the moon could be anything but full...
I hope I managed to make you curious enough to keep on reading!