Lord Voldemort was pacing. He needed to think and, more importantly, to act. Harry's absence had crept on, insidious, one postponed rendezvous loosening his nerves about the next. Just one more day … It's insane here at the Ministry … I'll drop by as soon as I can … Short letters, with Harry's crowded handwriting slipping sloppily across the parchment in his haste to pen them.
The young man's absence troubled him. The sweet miasma of freedom, which had buoyed him up through the dreariness of 12 Grimmauld Place, was dissipating slowly, wafting through his pores to vanish in darkness and dust, as the fragrance of late-summer lilacs might when the chill of autumn banishes it into fallow ground.
A fire was crackling merrily in the hearth, but its heat, its light were held at bay, as though the shadows spanning the drawing room floor were corporeal in their menace. Wind hissed against the windowpanes, seeking entry, as rain pummeled the glass like fists. Voldemort shivered, drawing closer to the fire. And why should he not act? Why should he hang on the brat's every word?
("Why did you do it?"
"Why did I do what?" Voldemort snapped, lifting livid eyes from his studious examination of the cracks in the cell's stone floor. Potter's questions were grinding his nerves together; he almost wished the boy had not come.
Potter extended his arm in an awkward, curtailed sweep. "Everything. The murders."
Voldemort's vexation smoothed out into a blank expression. "They were in my way."
"But why Muggle-borns? Why Muggles?" the boy blurted out, uncoiling his arms from his chest in a fit of exasperation. "Why did you target them?"
The Dark Lord sneered, sharp fingernails tearing at the bedclothes beneath him. "They are nothing but scum, boy."
"They are humans, just like us!" Potter screamed, hands balling into fists.
The other man's laughter cut through his red-hot pique like a blade of ice. Potter stared, the argument momentarily forgotten, as wild, mirthless cachinnations rang round the cell. Voldemort could see his own madness reflected in those wide green eyes, could see his own pupils swimming in blood. "Do you still believe, dear Harry," the Dark Lord began with a savage smile, "that I am human?"
"Don't call me that," Potter snarled and glanced away.
The Dark Lord ignored him. "They are, as you put it, humans, and the worst sort imaginable," the older wizard resumed, all traces of mirth, of madness subsumed under aloof gravitas. "They are cruel and narrow-minded, the latter making the former boundless." He steamrollered right over Potter's stammered "But—" and began to pace. "You all deem Lord Voldemort insane for harping on blood purity, but, ah, you cannot see, you cannot understand … I am not mad, Potter."—a lie, a vile, disgusting lie, and you know it—"Breeding with Muggles dilutes magical blood. The process is slow, but the outcome cannot be debated: magical ability will wane if this practice does not cease; it is merely a question of how rapidly the declension will occur. Squibs were unheard of back in the days of ancient magic, when witches and wizards did not require wands, but could nonetheless perform remarkable feats of sorcery by harnessing their raw magical energy—a skill foreign to sorcerers nowadays, and, I regret to say it, impossible for them to master. Yet now—now Squibs litter the magical community because blood purity has been compromised by lovesick fools."
"Inbreeding cannot fare much better either," Potter retorted sullenly; his argument had been torn apart.
The Dark Lord smiled again, not bothering to keep derision out of it. It was typical: the brat did not even have his facts straight. "Inbreeding—that is, where magical blood is involved—has no ill effects, for the magic of a hypothetical fetus will ward off deformities or crippling diseases."
"But killing is wrong!" Potter argued, retracing his steps to a more secure footing. "You can't just … You have no right to – to kill, to take someone's life. Who do you think you are?"
"Do not speak to me of rights, Harry Potter. I am Lord Voldemort: I have every right to—"
"No, you bloody well do not! You—" Potter cut himself off, and his gaze hardened. "You know what? This is fucking hopeless. I don't know why I even bother. You are hopeless, Riddle, absolutely hopeless."
"Then why are you here?" the Dark Lord hissed, voice being elided into a cold susurrus that seemed to echo round the cell, as though coming from the walls themselves, long after the words had been spoken. Potter made no reply.)
Voldemort's steps had carried him to the hearth; he was staring into the flames, vacant eyes distilled into garnet wine. The war was not his to fight, and, truly, it was high time those fools at the Ministry learned to clean up their own mess. He did not need the brat either; he had never needed the brat. And he doubted his fortitude was such that he could endure Harry's deluded notions of love for much longer; the Dark Lord had indulged the young man's fantastical faith in him, but—
("You can feel and – and love; that's what being human is all about." And Harry wound his arms around the older man, green eyes wide and shining in the strip of silver moonlight reaching out through the aperture in the wall.
"I cannot, Harry." A small, sad smile brushed across Voldemort's features; he lifted a hand, ghostly pale in the moonlight, to cup the other man's youthful, burning cheek.
"Yes, yes you can.")
The Dark Lord dithered for a moment. He reached for his traveling cloak, regarding it thoughtfully, smoothing out the crinkles in it. Then he left. The front door slammed with such force that the layer of dust perched on the lintel heaved in a whorl, before settling thick and quiescent on the ground.
"We have to do something!" Harry began, addressing the congregation of Ministry officials seated around a long wooden table. He could not believe they were delving into this subject yet again. Well, if this meeting goes on long enough, there might not be anyone left for us to protect. Huh. If they weren't such morons, I'd assume that is actually their end-game.
"Violence breeds violence," Hermione retorted; she was holding a pencil, twirling it between her fingers in a manner eerily reminiscent of Voldemort.
Harry dragged his gaze upward, toward her face. (It was only too easy to picture those pale, long-fingered hands absently toying with the yew wand and—Harry mentally kicked himself—doing all manner of wonderful, sinful things that involved him rather than a slip of wood.) He coughed awkwardly, willing the blush to drain from his cheeks. "What do you suggest then?"
"We must show them we harbor no ill intentions." Seeing her friend's skeptical frown, she appended: "Negotiations, Harry. We must convin—"
"Yes, because that's worked so well before!" the young Auror sniped. "Hermione, a child has died—"
"Mr. Potter." Heldan Ashcroft's brittle voice quavered with uncertainty; staff meetings were not his forte. He held up a hand to augment his supplication for silence. "That information is still classified."
But he was a short, potbellied man with a mop of mousy hair perching like a bird's nest on the top of his otherwise bald head, and the subtle reprimand did nothing to quell the horrified curiosity rippling across the assembled witches and wizards.
"A child … has died?" The question was whispered from further down the table, by a middle-aged witch whose waxy, indistinct features and graying hair contrasted sharply with the blob of lurid mauve that was her clothing.
"Yes, Mrs. Dunstan," the Minister acquiesced, voice tight.
Several moments of tense silence ticked by. Seeing that Ashcroft had no intention of adding a qualifying statement, Harry explained: "A seven-year-old girl was being bullied by her Muggle neighbors, and she lost control over her magic."—Hermione's pencil snapped in two—"A boy was thrown backward and broke his arm. The others lashed out. The girl ended up in St. Mungo's, comatose and bleeding. She passed away last night."
Ashcroft coughed into the silence. "Well …" He hesitated; wiped sweat from his rounded forehead. "If that is all you have to impart, Mr. Potter …" But no one took the cue. The little girl's ghost seemed to linger in the air, just behind the unvoiced remarks of those present, cold and implacable. Her small fists were beating against their thoughts, dislodging them from the clutches of lethargy, hauling them into the pressing need for action.
Harry's eyes scanned the contemplative faces of the Ministry officials before they were drawn, involuntarily, to Hermione's stricken expression; he could see his thoughts reflected in her eyes—long winter nights in desolate wilderness, spent perusing Rita Skeeter's The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore; a portrait in the Hog's Head; a slender, delicate girl with wide, watery eyes; Ariana …
Ashcroft coughed again. "Mrs. Weasley, you … you said you have something to discuss with us."
Hermione's head snapped toward him. "No, Minister. It is no longer necessary."
"Surely, Mrs. Weasley, it is important to broach—"
The young woman shook her head. "It is no longer necessary, Minister," she reiterated, pointedly this time.
Ashcroft sighed; he looked close to tearing his hair out. "It needs to be addressed," he mumbled to himself; and then, gulping a great breath of air, he turned to Harry: "Mr. Potter, you have suggested that the Dark Lord be released."
The table erupted in murmurs, and quite a few glances were aimed in Harry's direction. He ignored them; when he spoke, his voice was low and calm: "Yes, Minister Ashcroft, to help with the war effort." The young Auror stood up, leaning forward ever so slightly, hands firmly planted on the table. "Lord Voldemort has led an army twice, in two wars. If anything, he has experience, and he has mastered magic far beyond the knowledge of any Ministry worker. We need him on our side."
There were scattered murmurs of assent. The Minster, flustered, embarked on a frantic search for words. "But he … His methods aren't exactly … conciliatory … He has done terrible things …"
"Harry Potter defeated him," offered a wizard with a short white beard and restless eyes.
"Twice," piped up a young, plump witch with glasses.
"He must know what he's talking about," supplied the wizard, nodding sagely.
Harry was speechless; he had prepared for many reactions, but support did not count among them.
"But he is a criminal, a murderer," Ashcroft cried, uncomprehending. "He has—"
But the Minister never had the opportunity to finish that sentence. The door of the meeting room swung open, and in popped a lanky, spotty twenty-something who had a lowly job in the Auror Office.
"Mr. Potter?" His voice was thin and nervous.
"A Mrs. Scamander is looking for you. She has a parcel she claims you must receive personally. She says it's important."
Harry gave a curt nod. "I'm afraid we'll have to continue this discussion another time," he said over his shoulder, sounding entirely unapologetic, as he stepped away from the table.
"Mrs. Weasley?"—Hermione looked up—"I was instructed to ask you to come as well. It appears that a Memory Charm has been performed."
Diagon Alley was deserted. Just as well, Voldemort thought, tugging the hood of his cloak lower over his face. Rain lashed the narrow, cobbled street, and yet the tall, cloaked man standing in the middle of it remained warm and dry. He walked briskly, loath to linger in such a public place.
12 Grimmauld Place had yielded its secrets to him; the library, in particular, did not disappoint. The Dark Lord had devoted an entire afternoon to scanning the dusty shelves piled high with ancient volumes, but at last he had found it: Moste Potente Potions. The potion would need several days to brew, but it suited his purpose perfectly: fluxweed, for mutability; Lethe River water, for forgetfulness; snake fangs, for deception; salamander blood, for strength; asphodel, for death; eel's eyes, for vision; dandelion root, for magical control. Yes, his plan was superbly ingenious.
He pushed open the door of the Apothecary. The welcoming tinkle of the bell was instantly overpowered by the nauseating, clogging stench permeating the tiny shop. Voldemort scowled at nothing in particular, fighting off the impulse to retch.
"How can I—" The wizened shop-owner paled, mouth opening and closing soundlessly, like a fish on dry land, at the sight of the Dark Lord's visage, now denuded of the hood.
Voldemort paid him no heed, advancing into the shop and sliding a torn piece of parchment across the counter, toward the quaking wizard. "Get me these ingredients"—a milky nail tapped the parchment—"and be quick about it."
The old man did not move. "I must be dreaming," he murmured in a rasping, sand-like voice. "I must be dreaming."
"You are not dreaming," the Dark Lord said coldly. "Now, if you do not wish to see the Dark Mark hanging above your shop—and the dwellings of your relatives, make no mistake—then I suggest you provide me with the ingredients."
The shop-owner seemed to need no other incentive. He gulped, almost choking on air, but scrambled out from behind the till all the same. Voldemort watched him dispassionately as he bustled about the shop, fervently wishing the man would cease his infernal trembling and retrieve his paraphernalia; the stench was becoming unbearable.
The aged wizard dropped the ingredients into a pouch, which he extended to the Dark Lord with shaking fingers. "Please," he croaked, sunken, bleary eyes pleading. "I d-did what you asked of m-me, my – my Lord. Please."
But Voldemort was no longer listening. With the strip of parchment crumpled in one clawed hand, he sought his wand in the folds of his cloak with the other and pointed it at the blubbering shop-owner. "Obliviate."
"Luna?" Harry approached the young woman standing beside his desk. "Did you want to see me?"
Luna Scamander nodded, gray eyes wide and blank. She was clutching a ratty brown parcel, small in size and messily wrapped, which he extended to Harry without a word.
Harry regarded her uncertainly, glancing at Ronald Weasley, who had ushered Luna into the Department of Magical Law Enforcement in the first place.
"It's safe, mate," Ron assured him with a nod. "We checked it." He then sidled up to Hermione, whispering an aside to her: "She's been like this since she came in, staring but not saying a word. She shook her head and grunted when we tried to take that thing from her. Very suspicious, if you ask me. That's why I told what's-his-name to get you down here as well. Looks like a Memory Charm."
"Or the Imperius Curse," Hermione rejoined, frowning slightly.
Harry's gaze lingered on his two best friends for a moment. Then he reached out and took the parcel. Ron had said it was safe … He frowned at it, lifting it up to the light for a better look; but the package looked ordinary. Glancing at Ron and Hermione again, he sighed and set about unwrapping it. In for a penny, in for a pound …
"Harry?" Luna's voice cracked. "Oh—" She swayed on the spot, and Hermione flew to her side, helping her into a chair.
"Luna? Are you all right?" Hermione brushed strands of platinum hair off the other woman's damp forehead.
"Yes," came the soft reply. "Just dizzy."
"What happened?" Ron had kneeled beside Luna's chair and was peering up into the pale face with a mixture of curiosity and concern. "Do you remember anything?"
Luna shook her head. "Not much, no. Oh, I'm sorry—that was not what you wanted to hear, was it?" Her eyes swiveled between her three friends with mild, foggy interest.
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache pounding against his temple. The parcel lay innocuous and unassuming on his desk, but he picked it up again and tore off the brown wrapping in one smooth movement. Inside was nestled a slip of yellowed parchment, rolled into a scroll.
He turned to the others with the scroll in hand. "It's a piece of parchment," he stated, waving it about as though to make a point; the discovery was more than a little anti-climactic.
The furrow between Hermione's eyebrows deepened. "Don't you remember anything at all?" she inquired of Luna, a twang of frustration in her voice. "Not even how you came by the package?"
"No," the other woman replied evenly. "The last thing I remember is looking at an island in the distance. You see, Rolf and I were on vacation, in Madagascar. Madagascar is, of course, the only place where one can still find a Re'em colony. Rolf is fascinated by Re'em. And Spangled Snookers live there too. They love the heat and are really very friendly creatures, even though they do not like company very much."
Harry blinked. Half the time, he had no idea what Luna was talking about. Ron and Hermione were not faring much better either: while Ron seemed to find the plain white wall just behind Luna's left shoulder engrossingly fascinating, Hermione was nodding politely; but Harry, having been confronted with it only too many times, knew that thin line of disapproval in which her lips had settled, and he knew that, had the occasion allowed for levity, she would have rattled off at least ten sources disproving the existence of Spangled Snookers.
As it was, however, she merely asked, "You mentioned an island, correct?" Luna nodded. "Did you visit said island?"
"I don't know."
Hermione visibly deflated. "Would you mind if I looked into your mind, Luna?"
Ron goggled at her as Harry choked in the background. Luna looked unperturbed. "Not at all," she answered with a vague smile.
"All right." Hermione drew out her wand. "This will only take a minute. Legilimens."
Luna's eyes waxed blank and unfocused as Hermione's gaze hovered fixedly, intensifying by the second. Harry and Ron exchanged curious glances.
"Did you know she could do that?" Harry whispered, not speaking louder for fear of intruding upon the breathless silence; Hermione's concentration was unnerving. Ron shook his head, skin pale beneath dark freckles.
And then the moment shattered as Hermione inhaled shakily and Luna rubbed at her forehead. Hermione stepped behind the other woman's chair, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder as she met Harry's and Ron's questioning eyes. "Nothing," she said, a tremor in her voice. "There was nothing."
"And?" her husband prompted, confusion plain in his countenance.
"And," Hermione began, gearing up for full lecture-mode, "that is not normal. A Memory Charm does not erase memories; it simply veils them so that they become inaccessible. But they are still there. Even a Legilimens with a basic understanding of the craft should be able to retrieve them, or at least sense them as disturbances in the mind's fabric. But I could not find anything. Hours on end are missing from her memories, and there is nothing to account for them."
"What does it mean then?" Harry asked, growing more and more perplexed.
Hermione heaved a sigh; her fingers tightened on Luna's shoulder. "It means that the person who cast the Memory Charm is incredibly powerful—the literature completely skirts such a possibility, but, in theory, it is plausible—or that the spell was modified to create this specific effect. Spell modification is very complex and nigh on impossible for the uninitiated. So, either way, it must have been someone of great magical prowess."
No one spoke for one throbbing moment. Then: "What's on the parchment?" Ron was eying the scroll in Harry's hand with guarded suspicion.
Harry struggled with the knot of rope cinching the scroll into a bow-like shape; it came undone and slithered to the floor. He smoothed out the parchment gingerly—the thing looked ready to crumble into dust at any moment—and spread it flat on the desk: it was a faded map. Harry trailed his fingers over it, juggling the maddening feeling that something was missing. But the moment his skin made contact with the ink, he drew back with a hiss of pain, as though scalded.
Dark magic was rolling off the map in waves, its unbound power thrumming in overwhelming, raw pulses. The very air in the office thickened, growing colder, more compact—charged with something like electricity, but somehow heavier, more palpably present.
Hermione advanced warily. The tip of her wand barely grazed the parchment, but she instantly recoiled with a gasp. She pocketed her wand, retreating to a safer distance. "This is very Dark magic," she murmured, more to herself than to the others. "Not even the Horcruxes were impregnated with so much power."
Although the others hung back, unwilling to go near the thing, Harry felt drawn to it; he felt it was important to know, to understand the map. He stepped closer, drawing a single finger across its surface, studying its details. He could feel magic against his skin, prickling, electrifying, but not at all unpleasant. His eyes slid to the bottom-right corner, and he frowned, leaning closer to get a better look: the ink was smudged, worn away to nothing, and beneath there were tiny, curved symbols in bold black.
Harry gathered the map in his hands, rolling it up gently, meticulously. "I'd like to show this map to someone. Y'know, get a second opinion."
Luna made no reply, and Ron shrugged, declaring his waning desire to be involved in this matter. But Hermione appraised him with a knowing look in her intelligent brown eyes. "Just … be careful, Harry," she said, and fell to assisting Luna.
It was early evening when Voldemort made it back to 12 Grimmauld Place. The sky was a steely gray streaked with black, but at least it had stopped raining. He let himself in quickly and headed upstairs, to his room, the pouch from the Apothecary jingling in his hand.
He peeled the traveling cloak off his shoulders, laying it out over the back of a high-backed chair, and set flames roaring in the fireplace. The bedroom was dark and small, but it was the tidiest 12 Grimmauld Place had to offer. The dark green brocade spanning the windows let very little light through, and the daring, hardy rays that refused to be turned away acquired a greenish hue, as though the chamber were an underwater sepulcher. It rather reminded Voldemort of the Slytherin dormitories at Hogwarts.
The Dark Lord swept the sundry books and handwritten notes strewn across an ebony table into a neat pile at its edge, and, rummaging in the pouch, lined up the ingredients in the order in which he would use them. He had found a rusty pewter cauldron in his exploration of the house, and proceeded to Summon it from inside the closet, where he had stored it, out of sight. After all, it would not do for Harry to stumble across such accoutrements and piece together a rough sketch of his plan.
He lightly tapped the side of the cauldron with his wand; arms of fire shot out around it, licking up its blackened base. A non-verbal Aguamenti filled it with water. He smiled to himself; while he had never possessed enough patience to transmute potion-making into a passion, the craft was undeniably engaging, and distraction was precisely what he needed right now—something to focus on, something to replace the stray thoughts at the edge of his mind.
Harry tripped out of the fireplace, the kitchen in the Blacks' ancestral home swinging into view. Shadows draped over the room, engulfing its very essence, and Harry cursed under his breath, burrowing in his robes.
"Where the hell did I— Oh, shit." The holly wand rolled away from him, wood pattering against the stone floor. He had a few choice words to say about his miserable eyesight—he could see nothing, nothing at all—but conceded that the matter at hand was more important. "Lumos!"
A blob of white light glowed from underneath the table, and Harry bent down, snatching his wand, and headed toward the staircase.
"Tom! I'm back!" he called, taking the stairs two at a time; the gloom and the silence made him uneasy.
Thirteen stirs clockwise. Pouring the Lethe River water in. Fifteen stirs anti-clockwise. Voldemort waved his wand, reducing the potion to a simmer. It glimmered opalescent in the soft firelight, but its murky blue depths gaped open as bubbles burst its surface. It would thin to a limpid, water-like liquid by morning, but the Dark Lord need not attend to it for the time being. He heard Harry calling him, and idly wondered how the brat had managed to suppress his natural instinct for ungodly timing.
"I need to talk to you!" Harry yelled from a lower level. Voldemort glided out of the room, locking the door behind him. He roughly suppressed the inchoate thoughts swirling in his mind like mist, making all other concerns immaterial. He was not glad of Harry's presence; it was a matter of perfect indifference to him.
They met on the stairs, the young man nearly barreling into the tall, silent shadow that was Lord Voldemort. "Oh, there you are," Harry gushed distractedly before the older wizard even had a chance to open his mouth. "There's something you need to see." And with that he turned on his heel, leading the way to the sitting room with a quietly seething Dark Lord in his wake.
He had expected Harry to apologize, to proffer some explanation for his protracted absence; but the brat had not even mentioned it, and now he had the audacity to make demands of Lord Voldemort! He might kiss you to make up for it. He was quick to decide that such musings did not belong to him.
The fire Voldemort had lit that afternoon had died out long ago. Harry cast a careless Incendio, barely looking at what he was doing. For a second the Dark Lord thought the spell would hit the portrait above the mantelpiece rather than the logs beneath; it would have been a good thing too—that portrait was ghastly.
But the spell struck true. Harry beckoned him to the couch, and Voldemort noted, with a mild prick of interest, that the young man was holding what looked like a piece of parchment.
"A friend of mine brought this to the Office today," Harry began, sinking into the couch. The Dark Lord sat beside him, reaching for the scroll. The tips of his fingers brushed against it—he withdrew his hand with a startled hiss.
"Where would anyone find such an artifact?" he queried breathlessly, crimson eyes growing wide with astonishment. It was impossible! And Harry must not have realized …
The young man explained, oblivious: "That's the thing. She does not remember. We thought she was under the influence of a Memory Charm, but … Memory Charms leave traces, don't they?"
"Yes," Voldemort breathed, cradling the scroll in his hands; he was turning it over, staring at it in awe, his eyes alive with a preternatural glow.
"But, see, my friend had no memories. Hermione, she's a Legilimens, and she searched but could not find anything."
The Dark Lord smiled. "It does not surprise me."
Harry waited, but the other man appended no explanation. "Care to elaborate?"
That same cryptic smile. "In due time, Harry."
The young man glared at him, before giving it up for a lost cause. The bloody git's enjoying himself. "There's a map printed on the parchment," he went on, frustration nipping at his composure, "but I think there's writing underneath." Voldemort had unfurled the scroll, and Harry reached over and jabbed a finger at the bottom-right corner. "See here? These symbols? They could be letters."
"They are letters," the Dark Lord amended. When Harry made to touch it again, the older man moved it out of his reach, pinning him with a glare. "This is an invaluable ancient artifact, brat. We do not poke it."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yeah, whatever. Do you know the language then?"
"It's Parseltongue," Voldemort replied without looking at him; the map was perched on his lap, and he was trailing his fingers across it almost reverently.
"Parseltongue?" The young man could do little but stare in wonder at the slip of parchment.
"Parselscript, if one wishes to be punctilious."
"You can read it, can't you?" The Dark Lord nodded. "Well, can't the rest of the writing be revealed?" Harry picked up his wand, let it hover over the map. "Specialis Revelio!"
Nothing happened. Harry noticed that Voldemort was shaking beside him with barely stifled laughter. "Harry, the text is written in Parseltongue. It is only natural that the magic placed upon the parchment would be in Parseltongue as well."
The young man grumbled testily, eking out something that sounded suspiciously like show-off.
Voldemort lifted his yew wand, delicately placing the tip against the map. The whispered spell was nothing more than a hiss to Harry (and damn, Parseltongue would have really come in useful right now), but the effects were immediate: the jagged, faded outlines of the map melted away, and flowing, black script, as vivid as fresh ink, blossomed in its wake.
The Dark Lord's eyes skidded over the page. Harry could only watch the tremor shuddering through those pale, slender fingers, the serpentine features slackening in unadulterated shock …
And Voldemort had not known, not for certain, even though he had thought he recognized the magical signature; but the name at the bottom of the parchment made it clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt: the text had been written by Salazar Slytherin.
A/N: Voldemort's potion and Luna's Spangled Snookers are the products of my overactive imagination. Feel free to try to guess the effect of the potion. (I will, of course, let you know if you get it right.) The properties of the ingredients are not meant to be taken literally. Lastly, thank you to all those who read and/or reviewed the story so far! I don't know when I will finish the next chapter, but I will try not to keep you waiting.