Embracing His True Self

Chapter 94

"Are you sure you must go?" Lord Lestrange asked, fretting over the fact Luna was leaving on her own. Or rather, leaving without him, or his son, Rodolphus or Rabastan. She was very vulnerable right now, and he didn't like the thought of her leaving even for a second. Just how were they meant to keep her safe if she just swanned off whenever she liked? "How about taking Rodolphus with you?" sure it wouldn't exactly be proper to have Rodolphus at the Longbottom send off for Merlin's sake. They were the ones whom had tortured the two Aurors into insanity after all. Screw propriety, it did not matter as much as family. Truthfully, it would happen sooner or later, since Luna had put them down for an invite to the wedding.

"Yes," Luna said, she needed to get away from their unbelievable protective tendances. If this was how they normally acted, then Merlin, help her. She wasn't sure how she ended up having more than one child. Which she knew she did, hopefully they would calm down some, but she doubted it. "And I'll be fine, I'll be with Harry, Hermione and Barty."

"Are you sure we couldn't persuade…" Lord Lestrange tried to coax Luna into compliance.

"Father, leave her alone, she's only going to be gone for an hour at most," Rodolphus scolded his father, knowing how stifling he was getting. It was little wonder Luna was taking any opportunity to get out of the manor. They didn't get a break at all, since his father was rooming in Slytherin estate while Lestrange manor underwent construction. His father was overjoyed by the fact that not only was he getting a grandchild but his eldest son was marrying again and actually happy. In fact, he was going overboard, but he couldn't say a damn thing because he was just so very happy himself.

Luna gave Rodolphus a sweet smile in thanks, as she put her shoes on ready to go.

"Speaking of fathers, my dad wants to celebrate yule with us, I've told him we'll join him on the 23rd," Luna informed a Rodolphus who straightened, dread sparking up his spine.

"What?" he swallowed thickly, nerves rankling him. Why would she tell him that? "Why can't he join us on the 24th?" as in the entire family, he didn't want to sit a whole day with Luna's father without back up. Don't get him wrong, Xeno knew who he really was, approved the match, was glad to give Luna away at their wedding…but they hadn't interacted much other than that. Xeno spend most of his time abroad looking for creatures like an amateur Zoologist.

"We'll all be here," Luna said with a giggle, "Father doesn't do socialising well, he never has." It's probably why she didn't find it easy to make friends, then again, she had one of the best friends he could ever have without trying. Her father had a tendency to make people back away in utter confusion, speaking about creatures that nobody knew existed yet, or were rare enough that people assumed he was insane. Losing her mother had been difficult for Luna but soul destroying for her father. She was the only reason he was still alive. Her mother on the other hand…had been a social butterfly, so easily able to make friends and the dinner parties had stopped when she passed away.

"There's always a time to start?" Rodolphus bleated out bleakly, he wasn't used to in-laws or soon to be in-laws. Sure, the Black family had been massive back in the day, but Bellatrix hadn't gotten along with any of them. His father met up with her parents, but any contact had ceased entirely between the families when they realized just had bad Bellatrix was. So, he hadn't had to ensure much contacts with the Blacks. The only one he actually knew to any extent was Narcissa. Who couldn't control her sister any better than they – the Lestranges – could.

Rabastan laughed loudly, smacking his brother on the back in commiserations. "That's too bad."

"What's too bad?" Harry asked, appearing at the door. "You still coming? Barty is already gone to get Hermione, boy she isn't happy about having to leave Hogwarts and her text books." Yes, in the end Hermione couldn't help but go to Hogwarts despite her reluctance. She loved the rules, except when she felt they didn't apply, of course, and no doubt Barty had encouraged it, keep her preoccupied for what was coming. He's rather her safe at Hogwarts until it was all over. She was much too inquisitive. She read the newspapers and saw between the lines, wondered at things that the Dark Lord was trying to pass off as accidental. Harry had just laughed at Barty, he knew Hermione well, of course, she would notice and find the discrepancies. Who would have thought that Barty would come in handy in making sure Hermione didn't get too close to the truth.

"I need to pee first!" Luna said, making a beeline straight for their En-suite bathroom.

"Rodolphus here will be spending a day during Yule with his father-in-law," Rabastan grinned, showing all his teeth, it was a brother's prerogative to tease and taunt their brother. What kind of brother would he be if he didn't once in a while?

"Just memories American magical creatures, and a book on divination spirit animals," Harry told Rodolphus, "Then everything will make sense. He's a gentle soul, much like our Luna. He took a preference to animals because he never wanted to go through what he did with Pandora. Unfortunately, like in all things, we get attached and it still hurts. He still prefers animals to people, Pandora…Pandora was his soul mate, his everything, outgoing as he was introverted. She brought him out of his comfort zone." Shrugging his shoulders.

"How do you know all that?" Rodolphus gaped, he could barely get Luna to talk about her mother, like at all.

"I've met him a few times, plus, Luna talks about her dad, I sort of inferred the rest," Harry said, "Pandora and Xeno spoke in code a lot, with spirit animals, Luna does it too just not as frequently. And they talk about animals native to other continents animals especially when they feel uncomfortable or too comfortable." Giving a rueful grin.

"Huh," was all Rodolphus could mutter.

The en-suite door opened, and Luna came out, ready to go.

"I'm really surprised any pureblood has social skills; you're all really secluded until you start Hogwarts. Most purebloods don't have siblings, its kind of fucked up really." Harry said, "It's a good reason there's going to be a primary school created the first chance I have."

"A what school?" Lord Lestrange queried perplexed.

"A Primary school, anyone magic will begin learning it at the age of five," Harry told Lord Lestrange, "Small stuff, nothing wand related…Runes, arithmancy, history of magic, muggle history, getting to socialise with people. Potions, divination, music, drawing, dancing, social sciences, Maths, Latin, English, sciences and mor importantly family genealogy tests, and getting to know the families they're related to, local magical and Muggle outings…I know, I need to narrow it down, there's too many subjects." He said sheepishly, tampering his enthusiasm.

Lord Lestrange stared at Harry, slightly stunned, he hadn't heard that sort of passion since he was a teenager. Since the Tom decided he wanted things to be changed, perhaps they were perfect partners after all. Instead of being inside, learning everything from a single tutor, they'd be with children their own age, learning from a young age everything they needed. It was…a good idea. Independence, social interactions, making connections, it was quite a perfectly smart idea. It would mean less boredom at Hogwarts, with them all being on the same level when it came to education.

Too set in their ways, that was the problem when it came to Wizardkind. Don't fix what isn't broke, and it held them all back.

It took people like Tom and Harry to revolutionise the world to make it better.

"That sounds like a project I can get behind," Lord Lestrange mulled over the possibilities, a new and thrilling excitement thrumming through him.

"I'm sure Harry would love the help, another set of eyes doesn't hurt anyone, does it?" Luna declared, blue eyes sparking with mischief.

Rodolphus pursed his lips, stopping himself from laughing, seeing what his soon-to-be wife was up to. Sneaky thing she was, honestly, he reckoned the sorting hat was useless. Harry sorted into Gryffindor when he was clearly never meant for anywhere but Slytherin. Granger was definitely meant for Ravenclaw and Luna was definitely much too sneaky for a Ravenclaw. They were book smart, but useless in any other way.

Harry's eyes widened comically, before he glared at Luna, one that promised retribution.

"It would be good having a pureblood's point of view, father might think of something you'll overlook," Rodolphus pointed out sincerely.

Harry may not have been raised as a pureblood, but he knew to deny Lord Lestrange what he wanted…would have been seen as a death sentence if he was anyone other than who he was. Luckily for them all, he did realize the benefit of someone like Lestrange's wisdom. "You know I've not even started planning it yet, it's just an idea right now."

"No better time than the present," Luna said with a beatific smile.

Harry's eye twitched, "True, but unfortunately, we have to go, otherwise we'll miss seeing Neville off."

Rabastan and Rodolphus grinned from behind their father, who looked like the cat who got the canary.

"I'll begin a rough outline!" Lord Lestrange replied, "It's certainly a fascinating prospect."

"Sure," Harry said, hiding his disgruntlement.

"Come on then," Luna said, hooking her arm around Harry's and both of them set off.

"Did you seriously have to do that?" Harry grumbled as they both made their way outside of the manor.

"You won't regret it," Luna said, patting his hand softly. "It won't only give him something to do, make him feel useful but also make him happy. It will lead to more than you can fathom. With the Lestrange's behind the changes…it will speed up the students that will inevitably come."

"So, if we build it, they will come," Harry drawled, chuckling lazily, recalling the movie Petunia had loved, and watched very frequently whenever Vernon was away at work. She was utterly obsessed with Kevin Costner. With a husband like Vernon who could blame her? Seeing the lost look on Luna's face he shook his head, "Never mind," waving off her curiosity.

"You don't have to do everything on your own here, that's all," Luna said, as they continued their walk, arm in arm. "That's the whole point, everyone would love to help, admittedly some have more time than others to do as they please." Since some of them were without jobs at the moment. Well aware that Harry was used to doing everything on his own, not having someone to trust for years, even after entering the magical world.

"I guess, it can't hurt I suppose," Harry conceded, as the walked down the steps and towards the edge of the wards. "It might even be better than something I can come up with."

"You already had a good idea on who you want as teachers," Luna said, nudging him, to anyone watching it looked very intimate indeed. Luckily for all concerned, everyone could see how much Luna adored Rodolphus and knew nobody would be unwise enough to try anything on the Dark Lords consort.

"Thing is, is it a good idea?" Harry said wryly, stepping passed the wards, wrapping his magic around both of them before Apparating to Longbottom estate. "I mean it went wrong once…and as much as I hate to admit it, without Severus and Sirius…we wouldn't have survived." What the hell did they know about taking on a damn werewolf? He could understand why parents worried about having their children anywhere near a werewolf. He didn't blame Remus, per se, just…he'd been going through hell.

"What do you mean?" Luna asked, as they ambled towards the house, they could see the doors were open.

"Oh, right, well, we did keep it quiet I suppose…" Harry said startling, of course, Luna wouldn't know about it. She might be a seer but it didn't mean she knew everything after all. It was the night of the full moon; I had previously told Remus I saw Pettigrew on the marauders map. He refused to believe it, after all Pettigrew was dead. If he had just believed it, believed me, things could have turned out differently." Shaking off his thoughts, he continued on as they approached Longbottom estate, now half way there. "Either way, Sirius as Padfoot grabbed Ron, who had Pettigrew in rat form with him. We found out the truth, that it had been Pettigrew that betrayed my parents, and Sirius had spent twelve years in Azkaban for crimes he hadn't committed without so much as a trial. I convinced Sirius not to kill Pettigrew. He wouldn't have been any use to anyone constantly on the run for the rest of his life. That was my first mistake, we were just all coming out from the entrance of the whomping willow when the moon became full. Turns out Remus had forgotten to take his last goblet of Wolfsbane potion." Severus had faced one of his worst fears – and memories – to protect them, and Sirius as sick and ill as he was, ensured that Remus couldn't touch them.

Luna gasped, "He's not taking it is he?" aghast. Only ignorant idiots didn't realize the damage consuming that much Aconite could cause. Even a wizard or witch consuming it could kill themselves, it shouldn't have been legalised.

"Don't worry, I told Sirius exactly what that potion was doing to Remus, and he succeeded in getting Remus off of it." Harry reassured her, as they went up the garden steps, Hermione and Barty were near the door when they approached. "Still, it would be a concern but there's no doubt he'd make a wonderful teacher." He was by far Harry's favourite except for Barty, who was just awesome.

"Oh, please, with the money Sirius got from his compensation, never mind the money you supplement with that income, he could buy a trunk that was…" Luna begun.

"Already done," Harry said smirking wryly, "I actually forgot about it to be honest, it could be left at the flat they've got under the Fidelius Charm. Return there every month to go through it, then return once he's recovered."

"Without the potion he'll certainly not feel quite so bad days after the full moon," Luna scowled, he was supposed to be an intelligent man, why would Lupin use it? "So, he won't need quite so many days off. Have a substitute teacher ready in the ranks for any time they need a replacement, someone the students are or will be familiar with."

"Yeah," Harry agreed, "That could work." And there would be no worries, "Merlin, what am I doing? Already planning a workforce for a school that doesn't even exist."

"Hey, Harry, how are you doing?" Barty said, grinning widely, staring at Harry a little more intently than he needed to.

"Fine," Harry said, giving him a serious nod, so that he knew he truly was alright.

"Can you believe he's moving all the way over to Australia?" Hermione said, "Funny thing is my parents have always wanted to retire there."

"There's a hospital in Sidney that's the best for their health problems," Harry said, "Alice and Frank aren't making as much progress as the healers here wish. They're in talks of suggesting there might be nothing they can do for them. They've looked into experimental potion trials, there's one due to start in a clinic in Australia in two weeks."

Hermione gasped, "I had no idea that's why they were going, I just assumed…" assumed that the Longbottoms were recovering well, Neville had never really said otherwise.

"Neville isn't one for oversharing," Harry said with a sad smile, "Hey, Neville, you alright?" no doubt the healers news had to have hurt.

"Yeah, I Floo called the healers at the clinic and they're very optimistic," Neville said, smiling widely, showing off his dimples that remained despite the recent weight loss.

"I'm going to miss you man," Harry said, and it was true, he would. In the past few years Neville had become a very good friend to him, more so than Ron. Although, Ron had done a lot for him, breaking him out of the Dursley's was one such incident. He'd always be grateful in his own way, if only Ron had liked him for him…and not who he was. The moment he revealed who he was, Ron had been glued to his side.

"Me too, but it isn't going to be forever!" Neville gave a genuine laugh, "We'll be back before you know it."

"Hannah's going with you?" Barty asked, he for one was grateful the lot of them were leaving. He didn't like looking at the results of his stupid boyish mistakes. Going after them had been a mistake, getting caught a worse mistake. Wasn't worth the time in Azkaban that was for certain.

Neville's smile took on a sappy turn, "Yeah, isn't she awesome?"

"How's your Gran?" Harry asked, his grin turning shark like. "Is she going with you guys?"

"Of course," Neville said, as if they'd leave her on her own.

Harry blinked, "Bloody hell, they don't know, do they?"

"Know what?" Barty asked, staring between them, knowing he was missing something just not what.

"How she and his uncle treated him," Harry said with bitterness, he'd been told repeatedly that children were cherished in the magical world. Each one, to find out that Neville had been emotionally, mentally and physically abused had been a kick in the teeth. "All because they were worried, he might be a squib."

Hermione pursed her lips, disapproval written across her features.

"And Nev? If you don't tell them one day…I will," Harry promised, the witch as much as he admired her for how intelligent she was, hated the fact she would otherwise get away with the shit she'd heaped upon Neville. Who had confidence issues up the wazoo. Over the past year or so he'd grown much more confident, between him and Hannah Neville actually gave his opinion, felt confident and didn't just disappear into the shadows.

"Mum and dad are…noticing that I'm avoiding talking about it, gran is too." Neville told Harry, puffing up just saying the words 'mum and dad' which he hadn't been able to do ever, unless he was talking to them at St. Mungo's or with his gran. "But it's in the past, I forgave her."

"Your parents will be less forgiving," Barty pointed out, hell, she'd be lucky if she remained in the family. The witch was married in, Frank Longbottom was in charge of the estate. She might have had power of attorney while he was incapacitated, but that had been rescinded now that Frank was sound of mind.

"Maybe," Neville murmured sounding a little concerned.

"Well, enough about that, this is meant to be a celebration!" Hannah said breezing in, impeccably dressed. Neither she or Neville had returned to Hogwarts. Neville because he didn't want to leave his parents, even for a second. Hell, she had a tough time getting him to take her on date nights. Hopefully Nev would calm some while in Australia, and even more so, she hoped his parents would recover. She'd wanted to be there for him, and decided not to go back, determined to take her NEWTS independently. Her parents had wholeheartedly agreed, well, not with the move to Australia for months on end with no exact return date.

"I got you a going away gift," Harry said, "Open it when you get there," removing the box and setting it on the table. "I'm really happy for you man, and I really hope your parents pull through this experimental potion treatment."

"We got you something too," Hermione said "Don't worry it isn't a book," she teased, much easier in social situations than she used to be.

Everyone laughed, "So that's what I have to do to get a gift that isn't a book, Mione?" Harry proclaimed, smiling teasingly.

Barty snorted, he'd noticed that trend himself, if he didn't know any better, he'd think she actually read them before gifting them to someone else.

Hermione huffed in amusement, "You and Ron needed all the help you could get." Before wincing a little, sliding into old habits without meaning to. "Definitely Ron, he's being held back nearly every class by the professors, I heard them discussing his grades as we left Charms."

"Everyone has always known that Ron would have been failing classes without your help," Neville said, he made no attempts to better himself. Not unlike him, who had done his level best, despite his hinderances. Most notably the use of his father's wand, which had been return to its rightful owner. Thank Merlin, he hadn't broken it like Ron had his.

"He just lost his mum, nearly lost his father, and there's been a lot of bad press for the family lately, it's bound to be playing havoc on him." Luna pointed out, "It's understandable why he's so distracted and out of sorts." As if she hadn't had a part in what happened whatsoever.

Barty gritted his teeth, "How has he been with you?" he asked Hermione, it hadn't gotten passed him that she hadn't answered his questions.

"He's actually left me alone," Hermione said, sounding genuinely surprised, "He stares at me with that accusing look as if I've done something unspeakably wrong…you know the look."

"Yes," Harry, Neville, Luna and Hannah agreed, they knew it very well.

"Doesn't help that there's rumours that Arthur Weasley is dating his ex-girlfriend," Barty mused, "They say it's difficult when someone new is added to a family unit. Not that I have any personal experience with it, but he might be out of sorts for that reason as well." And if he made one wrong move, Ronald Weasley would die, he didn't care what anyone else would have to say. He would arrange an accident; it was more acceptable to grieve when it was an accident than murder.

"It always is difficult for children to accept a new parent, especially after the loss of one," Hermione nodded emphatically.

Harry refrained from rolling his eyes, she had read it so it must be true. She was getting better, but did like to lord her knowledge over everyone. Things weren't black and white, he wondered if she could accept the changes that were coming on swift wings.

"We have five more minutes," Hannah said, staring at the small delicate watch Neville had gifted her for Valentine's day.

"You're still coming to the wedding, aren't you?" Luna asked Neville, as if she didn't already know.

"We'll definitely be there for the wedding, but I'm not sure about the reception," Neville said, giving Luna a reassuring and enthusiastic nod. He knew logically that the wizard she was marrying wasn't the ones who'd hurt his family, but emotions weren't easily controlled. Just hearing the Lestrange name was difficult some days, less so now, especially having his parents back.

"Have you decided on a maid of honour?" Hermione asked, staring at Luna unconcealed longing in her gaze. Having two male best friends, she'd never thought she'd have the chance, until she became friends with Ginny and Luna. She thought for a brief time that Ginny and Harry would marry and she'd be a maid of honour and that Ginny would be hers when she married Ron. Things definitely hadn't worked out the way they thought at all.

"I'm having a pagan wedding, Hermione," Luna told Hermione softly, as if trying to prevent her from being hurt. "I won't have maids of honour, he and I will be entering the circle together, it's nothing like a Muggle wedding ceremony or magical marriage."

Hermione opened her mouth to ask the million questions on the tip of her tongue. Wanting to know what the difference was.

"I'll get you a book," Barty said squeezing her hand.

"Today?" Hermione asked, as always impatient for information.

Barty chuckled, "Sure, we'll go to the vault before you return to Hogwarts."

"Pagan marriages are wonderful, the magic that flows through the earth is mesmerising," Hannah said lovingly, "My parents renewed their vows when I was ten. I was able to participate, it was illuminating. My aunt married when I was thirteen and I attended then too."

Hermione had to bite her cheek to stop herself from asking even more questions. She wasn't offended when they all laughed though, it didn't feel as if they were mocking her. She'd been mocked so often growing up, this…this was everything she wanted.

"Will you be having a Pagan wedding then, Hannah?" Harry questioned her curiously.

Hannah flushed red, but replied, "Yes, definitely."

Neville had a soft secret smile hidden under his ducked head.

"Remember to open the gift," Harry told him, the mirror would allow them to communicate with the distance between them. It was up to Neville whether he wanted to continue being friends despite knowing everything he did.

"I will! I'm going to miss you guys," Neville said almost on the verge of tears.

"You just take care of Hannah and your parents, but take time for yourself, alright? Exhausting yourself won't help anyone." Luna said, hugging Neville tightly before withdrawing and hugging Hannah.

Before long they were all hugging one another, giving tearful goodbye's and promises to talk and see each other soon.

"You'll probably see each other more now than when you were closer," Barty said, rubbing his hand up and down Hermione's back. This was especially painful for her, she didn't have many friends, hadn't known really how to make them by the time she joined Hogwarts.

Harry laughed, "That actually wouldn't surprise me." As they all stepped out into the ground of Longbottom Manor. Waving their hands as they left the grounds. The others couldn't leave until everyone was off the Manor grounds, locking the estate down.

"I never thought Neville had it in him," Hermione confessed, still fretting a little. "Going off to Australia, looking at his parents, his gran…" Hannah could look after herself.

"I knew," Harry said, with utter confidence.

"Me too," Luna declared with a smug smile.

"So, that book?" Hermione asked, looking at Barty with wide brown eyes, pleading with him to get her that book.

"I'll see you guys later alright?" Barty chuckled, wrapping his arms around Hermione he Apparated to Gringotts. Everything of value was in the vaults until the estate was fixed, when he and Hermione were married, they'd move in there with a little luck.

"He is going to be alright, isn't he?" Harry asked quietly. "And it is permanent, isn't it?"

"Yes, and yes," Luna declared, hooking her arm in his, "You'll always have me, and they'll be visiting just you wait and see."

A/n – I know all good stuff gets side-lined at the end of the story, although, for once the story in My Time will probably have a lot of discussed changes happening in the beginning of the story! I'm going to have fun writing it, that's for certain 😉 anyway, there we go! So, the next chapter Luna's wedding! Woohoo! And a Pagan wedding…keep this going I'm going to be able to write all this stuff up without searching for ever to get the information 😊 hehe and of course, we'll need to have more Harry and Tom as well 😉 hmm I wonder where they could both go that they would love that has nothing to do with their cause, or bedroom activities…I've written Tom Riddle a lot but not the sixty-year-old Voldemort this might take a lot of thought! 😊 R&R and please take care and stay safe!