Chapter 2 - Spirit Rover
Albus was just holding the dram of whisky Minerva had given him earlier, he was still too shocked to drink it. "How could I have been so wrong... The Dursleys were delighted to hear Harry had been arrested, and ready to start celebrating when I told them their own nephew wouldn't be back."
"At least they're going to move from Privet Drive..."
"Oh they can't wait to do that. They claimed it was my fault they were still living there, but those wards could have easily been transferred to a new property. Harry just needed his family staying in their home to anchor the wards, that home didn't have to be in Privet Drive."
Minerva felt she was stating the obvious here but it had to be done. "Albus, did you ever take the time to explain that to the Dursleys?"
Both already knew the answer to that question. Albus now sipped his malt whiskey as his thoughts wandered. "More and more, Miss Granger's angry words are coming back to haunt me. I'm reminded of a phrase I once heard as a young wizard, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. I have the best of intentions, Minerva, but either fail to follow through or get it totally wrong in the first place. I certainly have failed Harry, and Miss Granger too."
"What can we do, Albus?"
"At the moment, very little. Please keep a close eye on Miss Granger, it's easy to see she still blames herself for what happened to her best friend. She'll need support to get through her final days with us."
It was easy for Minerva to see how accurate Albus' prediction proved to be when Hermione arrived in her office a couple of days later. The young witch appeared as if she had the weight of the entire world on her shoulders.
"Professor, I have my completed and signed transfer form here. Hedwig returned with it this morning, along with a letter from Remus. A certain big black dog was set to charge the ministry and personally rip Fudge's throat out. Is there any more news?"
Taking the form from the young witch, Minerva had no comfort to offer. "I'm sorry, Miss Granger, there isn't a peep escaping the ministry about Harry. I'm also sorry to see you leave Hogwarts..."
"Professor McGonagall, the worst terrorist this country has known in the last fifty years just returned from the dead, and the head of the government threw a fourteen year old wizard in prison to cover that fact up. What choice do I have?"
Hermione needed a couple of deep breaths to steady herself before she could continue. "My parents are muggles, I need to get them out of the country before the killing starts. Malfoy is well aware of who I am, and my relationship with Harry, they'll eventually be coming for me and my family. Neither you nor the magical government can protect us, the government won't even acknowledge there's an actual problem in the first place. What am I supposed to do?"
Minerva was finding that, once again, she had no answers for one of the best young students she had ever taught. That this student was also one of her Gryffindor cubs just made the pain of having no answers to give all the more acute. "I shall personally hand your school records to Madame Maxime, and I promise to let you know if I hear any news about Mr Potter."
"Thank you, Professor. I'm sorry it had to come to this too, I just don't see any other alternatives. Voldemort will be getting organised, while Fudge buries his head in the sand. I've read his death eaters went after the muggle borns during the last war, I need to protect my parents. My mum and dad wouldn't hurt a fly yet these death eaters would torture and kill them, simply because I'm their daughter. I can't allow that to happen. The headmaster was right to say what he did, I just wonder how many people really listened."
A rather dejected Hermione then left, leaving her head of house feeling just as demoralised as her student that things had come to this. Minerva couldn't fault her student's logical conclusions, nor Hermione's desire to protect those she loved. That she had no other options to offer the young witch was what really hurt.
She was going to have to talk with Albus. They would be failing their students if they didn't specifically warn the muggle borns and their families of what could happen next. Since that would place Hogwarts on a collision course with the ministry, it would be Albus' decision to make.
Harry was provided with a robe that seemed at least three sizes too big, very Dudley-esque, the hood then being forcefully pulled up over his head by Umbridge. It was obvious they didn't want him being recognised while he was frog-marched from the ministry building. Since the ministry appeared deserted, the robe became an unnecessary precaution - as were the wrist manacles he was also forced to wear. Umbridge had two aurors with her so slapping on the manacles was clearly designed more to frighten him, rather than preventing any serious threat of escape. He refused to give the bitch that pleasure and just ignored her - and the manacles. It wasn't until they left the ministry building that Harry discerned it was the middle of the night, a portkey journey later and they were standing at a tiny harbour.
Seeing the small boat sitting there, clearly waiting on their arrival, evoked memories of his first trip on a boat. Uncle Vernon had dragged them all off to that little cottage on a desolate piece of rock, only for Hagrid to kick the door in at midnight - and become the first person Harry could remember wishing him a Happy Birthday. He didn't think his large friend would be coming to rescue him this time, Harry also clearly remembered Hagrid's terror at the mere mention of Azkaban.
Harry's indifference though was having an effect on Umbridge. As the little craft left the dock, she increased her efforts to provoke a reaction out of him.
"Azkaban is such a terrible place, those dementors are some of the foulest creatures on the planet. They suck every good thought right out of your head…"
"I take it they don't affect you then?" That Harry's droll question caused both aurors and the boatman to laugh really set Umbridge off.
"You will be going straight into the high security wing, where all the worst of the criminals go - and also the location inside Azkaban that has the highest concentration of dementors. We'll see if you're still as cocky then, you'll soon change your story."
"I think your arm should be checked for a dark mark. You are supposed to be one of the good guys, yet don't even try to hide your delight at the prospect of an innocent fourteen year old being tortured. Voldemort could stroll into the ministry anytime and be welcomed - it's full of kindred spirits." That Harry wasn't ranting and raving meant his words were having a far greater effect. He wasn't finished either. "No wonder you needed me to save you the last time. Guess what - this time around you can all bugger off! That a pair of aurors and a ministry official could be part of this conspiracy, organised by the minister himself, means I won't lift a finger to help you - and Voldemort is most definitely back."
He sat quietly with his hood up as the toad-like witch verbally vented her wrath. Harry was glad of the hood now as it blocked most of the spittle her manic ravings were throwing in his direction. Harry was too busy watching the boatman and the pair of aurors. Fudge and Umbridge could call him a liar all they wanted, his words had certainly reached the other three on the boat.
There were obviously those in magical Britain who would believe the word of the boy-who-lived over that of a politician, especially Cornelius Fudge, hence why Harry was being shipped off to Azkaban. Deciding he had nothing to lose, Harry spoke directly to the three other occupants of the boat not named Umbridge.
"Fudge is sending me to Azkaban to hide the truth. He's also trying to oust Dumbledore, the only wizard Voldemort is supposed to be afraid of..."
Harry didn't get to say anymore as Umbridge hit him with a silencing curse. "We can't have you spreading any more of your lies, boy. We'll see if you're still spouting that same rubbish after a few days in your new accommodation."
He just sat there quietly and smirked at her. By casting that silencing charm, toad woman had just convinced the other three that Harry was telling the truth.
It took a couple of hours before the boat made Azkaban Island. After being stuck in that cell, Harry actually enjoyed the pleasant journey. He just sat quietly and watched the sun beginning to rise out of the sea, not knowing when he would see this again. The aurors were now gentler in their handling of Harry as the group made its way up to the fortress prison. The boatman was wisely staying with his craft, leaving just the four of them to make their way inside the imposing structure.
It may be the month of June but Azkaban seemed to have its own microclimate - this winter and next winter. The black granite building jutted almost organically from the rocky island. It also appeared to leach heat as well as happiness out of anyone unfortunate enough to pass through its doors. There were two prison guards waiting on their party in what was clearly some sort of reception area. Harry threw his hood back and deliberately made sure his scar would be visible. He hated his fame but Harry intended to use everything he had to fight this injustice. At the moment, this was all he had available.
What he had however proved to be very effective, both guards recognised him at once.
"That's Harry Potter, that is - in chains too. What's he doing here?"
The older of the two guards stared right at Umbridge. "I saw in that excuse for a newspaper that he'd been arrested, it never said nothing about his trial - or him being found guilty. Just what is going on here? The boy-who-lived is not even of age to enter Azkaban."
Dolores was not about to stand here and answer questions coming from mere prison guards. "All you need to know is that these orders here are signed by the Minister of Magic, now do the job you are paid to do."
Jock snatched the papers out of Umbridge's hand, one glance had him furious. "You're putting this lad in the high security wing - along with the Lestranges and the other filth…"
"If you have a problem with that, say so now. We can easily get new prison guards because your careers are over if you do." Dolores was confident her usual threat would be enough to see her orders carried out, she was dealing with different people here though.
"This isn't a career, it's the shittiest job in the world. You can take my job and shove it where the sun don't shine." Jock then turned to Harry. "I was drunk for three days when you defeated him, what a celebration that was. I wish I could do more here…"
"He's back, that's why Fudge is doing this…" Dolores hit Harry with another silencing curse, since the last one had obviously worn off over time. The damage was done though, Jock clearly believed him.
"Fudge never had too much up top - I certainly never voted for the fool. You coming Derek?"
The younger guard seemed torn. "I want to, Jock, but I've got a family to support…"
"Yes, including a daughter at Hogwarts who has Harry Potter pictures all over her bedroom wall. What will she think of a father who locked her hero up in Azkaban?"
Jock knew Derek doted on his Abi, never stopped talking about how proud he was of her. This was exactly the right thing to say as Derek then offered his immediate resignation too.
Dolores swore retribution on them before almost blowing a gasket as a manacled and silenced Harry Potter had both the now ex-guards smiling by shaking their hands in thanks. Dolores was now going to be forced to enter this prison properly, and then deal with whoever was in charge. That was certain to exacerbate her already terrible mood. She had no way of knowing plans were currently being made to make that mood a hundred times worse.
Jock was trying to hurry Derek along but the younger man was now riddled with doubts, had he done the right thing? "What's your rush? We'll just be sitting on the boat waiting on them anyway."
"Not after I have a word with Salty, we'll be pushing off the moment we set foot on his boat - the sooner the better."
Derek liked the idea of not sharing a boat back with Umbridge, but worried about it to. "Won't he get into trouble for leaving them here? It's a five hour round trip, and that's assuming he returns straight away."
"Naw, Salty will just blame me. He'll make up some story to cover himself, and I'm already out of a job so they can't touch me. We need to get a move on, and then you have a letter to write."
Hermione knew she was putting out 'do not disturb' vibes while sitting forlornly staring at her lunch. She thought it might be a tad overdone when a little first year Hufflepuff approached with tears in her eyes, only to discover she was in no way responsible for those tears.
"Miss Granger, my father works in Azkaban. They've just put Harry in there, how could they do that to him?" At that, the young girl's tears overwhelmed her and Hermione had an arm comfortingly around the now distraught witch.
"They're putting him in something called the secure wing, that doesn't sound good..." The girl's shoulders then squared and Hermione couldn't miss the pride in her voice. "My father refused to put Harry in prison, he quit his job and wrote to me. How can we help Harry?"
Hermione's insides were in knots at the thought of Harry in that place but she was trying to hold it together for this brave young witch. "What's your name?"
"Abigail, Abigail Hendry - but my friends call me Abi."
"Well Abi, any friend of Harry's is a friend of mine. Just call me Hermione..."
"Oh, I'm not a friend of Harry's..."
Hermione managed to force a smile for the brave girl. "Abi, you are now. We need to let the headmaster know this news." Taking the now nervous girl by the hand, Hermione headed for the staff table.
Quite a few pairs of eyes had been watching the drama unfold, that changed immediately to everyone in the great hall as Dumbledore let an angry roar out of him. A Phoenix flamed into the hall and then used the same fiery method to take Dumbledore wherever he was going. The few who had heard the conversation between Hermione and Abi soon had the news spread throughout the hall.
One glance toward the Slytherin table made Hermione's mind up, she would spend the rest of today studying in the library. She was one Malfoy remark away from starting a war, and in no mood to take any prisoners.
Albus hit the ministry like a whirlwind, and wasn't quiet about why he was there. Fudge was quaking in his boots though managed to stand his ground. Lucius had warned him this confrontation was inevitable and, more importantly, promised to defeat any move against him if this was brought to the Wizengamot. Knowing the influence Lucius had in the chamber gave Cornelius the courage to say what he needed to.
"You yourself declared the boy an adult when you forced him to compete in your tournament. I have dead wizards whose deaths are unexplained, and Harry Potter is my chief suspect, our laws say I can hold him for ninety days while our investigation proceeds. After that, we must bring the suspect to trial or release him."
"Amelia Bones knows nothing about this, how can you claim an investigation is being carried out?"
"My Senior Under-Secretary, Madam Dolores Umbridge, is in charge of this case. I fully intend to get to the bottom of this matter, a matter on which you have made your position clear. Stay away from this investigation, Albus, otherwise I'll have you arrested for trying to pervert the course of justice."
"Cornelius, you are playing a dangerous game, one that could see our country fall..."
"Don't be ridiculous, Albus. Harry Potter is not above the law, no one is. Justice must be seen to be fair, and carried out in the proper manner."
"Does that apply to everyone, Cornelius? Including the wizards who aren't even being questioned about certain events - simply because you say so..."
"Enough, Dumbledore. I'm the Minister of Magic, and a busy wizard. I've listened to your rantings, now it's time for you to leave."
Before going, Albus pinned Cornelius with a stare. "This is the moment that will define your tenure as Minister of Magic, Cornelius. You are taking our country to the very edge of darkness. If we manage to pull it back, it will be because of Harry Potter and I. How do you think we'll portray your part in this fiasco? You're finished Cornelius, I just hope I can prevent you taking the rest of the country down with you."
He left the minister's office to find Amelia waiting on him. "Has that idiot really put the boy in Azkaban, and then placed Umbridge in charge of this investigation?" A nod from Dumbledore was all she needed to storm into Fudge's office.
Amelia didn't think she would be any more successful than Albus, she was determined to register her protest though. The minister was using criminal law to lock Harry Potter in Azkaban, and then not using the D.M.L.E. to investigate the case. Fudge would claim his ministerial decree gave him the power to do that but she wanted to hear him say the words, before publicly hanging him out to dry.
She fully intended to release a departmental statement to the Prophet, just to dispel any rumours rushing around the country. By tomorrow, every witch and wizard in Britain would know what had happened to Harry Potter - and exactly who was responsible for this situation. It wasn't going to help Harry much, but it was the best Amelia could do at the moment.
Prisoner Harry Potter being led through the corridors of Azkaban was an unbelievable event to its other residents, news that was swiftly shouted from cell to cell. By the time they reached his new home, the news of Harry's arrival had proceeded him.
"Wee baby Potter, all alone in our midst. Don't worry, we'll take good care of him for you. When our master comes to release us, and he soon will, I promise Potter will die screaming for mercy."
Bellatrix's ravings had the pair of aurors hesitating but Umbridge stepped forward and pushed Harry through the open cell door. She didn't even allow the manacles to be removed, slamming the door shut the moment he was through it.
"Lock him in, and double the dementor presence in this wing."
The prison boss just looked at her, and then the orders in his hand. "It says nowt about that here..."
"I'm telling you to do it, are you questioning me?"
"If it ain't writ' down, it doesn't happen. You gimme that in writing, signed in front of witnesses mind, and your order will be carried out. Otherwise, it's your word agin' mine."
That was not something Dolores wanted to do, needs must though. She headed off to this cretin's office to give him his written orders. Potter needed to be broken.
Harry had landed on his knees, narrowly avoiding hitting the cell's back wall when he was shoved in here. This was certainly a step down from his previous accommodation inside the ministry.
The dark brown peeling paint on the cell walls wasn't exactly welcoming either, and the bed was lumpier that his cot in Privet Drive. The taunts coming from his fellow inmates on this wing were also of a far different nature than the ones the Dursleys would hurl in his direction, being called a freak now didn't seem so bad. Harry would readily admit he was sexually inexperienced but he thought the last couple of taunts were physically impossible, unless witches and wizards were different that way too - and of course no one had bothered to tell him.
The temperature dropping meant their special guards had arrived, this quickly stopped the taunting but Harry would now have welcomed those shouts. There was no escaping the dementor effects, he could already hear his mother screaming for her son to be spared. There was also no way to fight against this attack, not without having his wand in his hand. At least he could draw some comfort from the fact the ministry didn't have that. It had been under his pillow in the infirmary when they dragged him out of there. He was sure Hermione would have it, he certainly trusted her to keep it safe.
This line of thought had a strange effect however, Harry noticed that thinking of Hermione appeared to lessened the power the dementors were having over him. Harry remembered Sirius telling him that knowing he was innocent helped ward off some of the despair caused by the dementors. Harry was not only innocent, he was thrown in here purely so this Umbridge bitch could bend him to the Minister of Magic's will. That his best friend was still trying to protect him even in here almost transformed his grimace into a grin. Without his wand he couldn't summon Prongs to keep the dementors at bay, but Hermione appeared to be acting like his own personal patronus. She may not be able to chase the dementors off but any form of protection from those horrors was more than welcome.
It didn't take Harry long to figure out the more he thought about Hermione, the less the dementors affected him. Since thinking about his best friend wasn't exactly a hardship, that's precisely what Harry did. He went right back to their very first meeting on the Hogwarts Express, their date with the troll and the trip through the forbidden third corridor. Holding Hermione as she told him he was a great wizard was his best memory of that year - his best memory up until that time.
Seeing her petrified the following May was certainly his worst of second year. Even lying in the chamber dying from basilisk poison, the knowledge that she would be safe helped him face the unfaceable. Then Fawkes cried into his wound, and Hermione had finally raced into the great hall - practically jumping into his arms.
Third year they fell out, over a stupid bloody broomstick too. She was still there for him though, Harry well remembered Hermione throwing herself in front of him like a human shield when they faced Sirius Black. Then, even although she was afraid of heights, Hermione had climbed on behind him as they flew Buckbeak up to save his godfather. Hermione holding on tight that night offered some compensation for having to return to his Aunt and Uncle in Little Whinging.
This year had been an unmitigated disaster. They had certainly spent a lot of time together but the only good memory he could muster was seeing Hermione at the Triwizard Ball, she was simply stunning. Her eyes had sparkled with mirth at his reaction to her, that wild hair of hers had been tamed - and framed her beautiful face. That's when the realisation began to dawn, he was head-over-heels in love with his best friend.
The warmth this epiphany pushed through his body was strong enough that it almost blocked the effect of the dementors. The more Harry thought about the situation, the more he realised the truth of the matter. He loved his best friend, and could now only hope she felt the same about him. He spent hours lying there going over their last four years together, the pleasant memories deflecting a fair percentage of the dementors' debilitating affects.
Suddenly, something in Harry radically shifted. Memories that mere moments ago had offered him comfort were now becoming twisted and altered to cause him the maximum amount of pain and terror. Racing into that toilet and discovering they were too late, the troll had left a broken and bloody Hermione lying dead on the floor. Harry sat with Hermione's battered head on his lap and wept like never before. In second year, the basilisk now killed rather than petrified Hermione. There was no wonderful hug in the great hall. Third year saw the dementors killing both Hermione and Sirius, right in front of him. His patronus only managing to protect himself, no matter what he did. Fourth year, Hermione drowned under the Black Lake at the second task - despite his frantic efforts to save her.
..and the horrors kept coming and coming. Hermione kissing Krum at the ball, and agreeing to be the Bulgarian seeker's girlfriend was particularly painful to watch - at least she survived that one though. Every good memory he had of Hermione warped into a horror movie so realistic, Harry could practically taste the blood.
He couldn't think what had changed. Memories that had so recently offered him some comfort now tortured him worse that the dementors ever had before. It was as if his mind was stuck in some sort of sadistic loop too, playing these personal horrors over and over again. No matter how often he tried to tell himself Hermione was safe and well, watching helplessly as she died time after time was having a crippling effect on him. Harry had blood dripping down his chin as he bit his bottom lip in an effort to stop himself screaming out loud.
Since this was different from any dementor attack he'd ever faced, this time there was no defence from this sadistic torture - and no escape either. This torture was relentless, and more painful to Harry than Voldemort's cruciatus.
He was getting prepared to hit his head off the cell wall, figuring only unconsciousness would offer any release from the pain, when the strangest thing happened. His head shot toward the cell wall …and passed straight through the impenetrable granite. He then returned to his cell to see the strangest sight, Harry James Potter lay collapsed onto the bed. Where seconds ago he'd been thrashing about in agony, there was now nothing more than the occasional twitch, and a grimace on his face.
Harry had no idea what he'd done, or even what he was now. There was no ghostly hands or body for him to see, yet Harry felt as if he was looking through his own eyes - except his eyes were closed and still attached to the body on the bed. In amongst all this mystery there was at least one thing he did know, those terrible memories were no longer torturing him - and he couldn't feel any effects from the dementors either. Whatever this was, Harry had absolutely no intention of fighting against it.
Being again stuck in a cell, he once more had no appreciation of how much time had passed since he'd been unceremoniously pushed in here. Harry then began to wonder if he needed to stay here, in this cell beside his physical self. In this form, whatever it was, his head had easily slipped through the wall earlier. Could he actually get out of here?
A quick experiment saw Harry passing through the wall to find himself in an adjoining cell, but the occupant didn't see him. This was nothing to do with whatever his form was however, the prisoner was currently lying on their bed with a blanket pulled over their head. Doubling the concentration of dementors was obviously effecting the secure wing's usual residents too. He kept moving from cell to cell, having no wish to pass into a corridor and come face to face with a dementor. Harry eventually ran out of cells and passed through the prison's outer wall - he was free from Azkaban Prison.
He still had no idea what was happening to him, or how this could be possible. There was only one place he could think of that might possibly hold the answers though, the place Harry had thought of as home for the last four years - Hogwarts.
As the sun was beginning to set, Harry seemed to know instinctively which direction the castle was. He no sooner had wished for his firebolt than he was racing across the North Sea without the aid of his broomstick, leaving the horrors of earlier far behind. Harry wanted to go faster, and simply did. The sea below lent him some idea of what speed he was actually traveling, it was way beyond anything a mere broom could ever hope to achieve. With no wind buffeting him, Harry actually didn't feel as if he was flying at all. The sun had barely set when he hit landfall, soon leaving the coast far behind.
The lights of Hogwarts Castle were like beacons welcoming him home, and Harry knew exactly where he wanted to go. He passed through the stone wall and into the Gryffindor fourth year boys' dorm, finding it full of his friends. Seamus and Dean were busy winding Ron up.
"Does it still hurt, Ron?"
"I wonder if you'll still be able to see the handprint in the morning…"
"All I said was Harry wouldn't be needing his firebolt over the holidays, and I could find a good home for it. Mental she is… There was no need for Hermione to smack me one."
After hearing that, Harry was out the door. He thought Ron had changed but apparently not. Hermione wasn't in the common room, very few Gryffindors were, it appeared to be really late. Harry had no intention of entering the girls dorms to look for her, there was no telling who or what he would see. It was time to head for Dumbledore's office.
Had Harry stayed in his dorm just a little longer, he might have heard how the rest of the drama played out.
"You of all people should know better, Ron. Hermione is hurting over Harry now being stuck in Azkaban."
"Neville, I tried a joke to see if I could cheer her up. It either wasn't a very good joke, or Hermione has no sense of humour. She certainly has some right arm on her, no wonder Malfoy is staying well away. I'll need to apologise tomorrow. I was trying to coax a smile out of her, not make her cry."
Harry simply passed through the gargoyle guarding the stairs to Dumbledore's office, he stopped at the door however to listen to the raised voices coming from inside. One of them was certainly McGonagall's.
"Albus, we can't leave Harry in that place, we simply must do something."
"Minerva, I have no choice. Fudge holds all the cards at the moment so Harry's going to have to stay there for now."
Harry didn't hang about to hear anymore, which again was a pity as Dumbledore explained his reasoning to his concerned friend.
"Lucius Malfoy and his associates are telling Fudge this is a wonderful idea, and that fool is listening to them. Between Malfoy's natural supporters, their threats to others - not forgetting buying certain members off with sacks of gold, taking this to the Wizengamot would be a pointless exercise. Handing that public victory to the dark won't help Harry, or those of us who are light."
"Is there nothing we can do?"
"Fudge is just waiting on me doing something illegal, like trying to snatch Harry out of there. Our Minister of Magic would take great delight in filing criminal charges against me, I would be on the run - with Lucius Malfoy's gold deciding who would be the next headmaster of Hogwarts. I have to protect all the children, Minerva, not just Harry Potter."
"We know he's strong, Albus, but dementors have such an affinity to him. I'm really worried about Harry."
Albus thought he knew why the dementors were so attracted to the boy, he was certainly worried too.
Meanwhile a disconsolate Harry was aimlessly meandering along some darkened corridor, it now being well past curfew. Hearing those conversations tonight certainly cemented his beliefs that Harry Potter would really need to leave Hogwarts, leave Britain for that matter, if he ever wanted to have some kind of normality in his life.
A voice from the darkness startled him.
"Harry Potter, aren't you supposed to be in Azkaban?"
It was really too dark for Harry to see more than an outline of a person. That outline was certainly a student, and Harry was sure a witch. The speaker casting a lumos confirmed both, allowing Harry his first glimpse of the little blonde witch wearing a Ravenclaw robe.
"I'm Luna, Luna Lovegood. I didn't know you could spirit roam? My daddy told me it was very rare."
"You can see me? Can you hear me?"
Luna eagerly nodded before answering. "I can see your spirit, and I hear with my mind - rather than using my ears. I can spirit roam too. Oh dear, This is your first time, isn't it?"
"Yes, I've never even heard of this before…"
At that admission, Luna sprang forward and kissed him. It was the strangest feeling Harry had ever felt, like being passed through the neck of a bottle. Those strange feelings kept coming though as he was apparently now looking through different eyes. It was his hand that now held the wand, though that hand was obviously female.
"Luna, what just happened?"
"I invited you in, Harry. Spirit roaming is incredibly dangerous if you don't know what you're doing - you clearly didn't."
"You mean I'm inside your body?"
"Yes. When I first spirit roamed, it was because of a severe trauma. I'd just watched my mum die and wanted nothing more than to go with her. Thankfully my daddy found me and did the same as I just did to you. Your spirit can enter someone through their mouth, and leave the same way. That's why a dementor kisses you there. By kissing my lips, my Daddy was able to return my spirit home. He then spent the next few years guiding me on how to do it properly. He can't do it himself but learned a lot from my mother, it's a trait I've apparently inherited from her."
While thinking over his situation, Harry got to see Luna's memories of the event she described. "It was the same for me, I just had to get away…"
As Harry thought of what had happened in that cell, Luna got to see it too. "We have a problem, Harry. I don't think they'll let me into Azkaban to kiss you, I'm going to have to guide you back…"
"No, Luna, I don't want to go back there."
"Harry, you must. That figure lying in the cell is the real you. If anything happens to the real you, your spirit will die too! You need to return, if only to eat and drink. You have to maintain your body, then you could leave again."
He could see the sense in her arguments, Luna then went on to explain their problem. "When I go with you, my body will really need someone to keep an eye on it. There isn't anyone I trust in Hogwarts who could do that for us…"
She smiled as one name popped straight into her head, Harry clearly trusted her with their lives. "Okay Harry, we'll talk to Hermione in the morning."
Harry felt his anger rise as he got to see why Luna was walking around the corridors at this time of night, bullies in Ravenclaw had locked her out of the dorm. He also got to see how this girl had been bullied since her early days in the castle, and how it had gotten worse as she got older.
"Harry, it's alright…"
"No, Luna, it's not. No one has the right to take your things, or lock you out from your bed. I can get us into Gryffindor but I don't see how that would help, I really don't want to go looking for Hermione at this time of night."
"Harry, I'm used to it now. At least it's summer…"
Seeing memories of Luna shivering alone in the cold castle had Harry's anger exploding. He'd just met Luna but could sense nothing but kindness and warmth from the girl, she shouldn't be getting picked on like this. Harry then thought of one other person in the castle who could possibly help them, and also be relied upon to do so discreetly. "Luna, call for an elf named Dobby."
"I don't think a castle elf would help us, Harry."
"Dobby is a free elf though, Luna. He just works here. Mentioning my name will see him help you."
Luna did as Harry asked, a bleary eyed elf soon appeared before her.
"Why is Miss calling for Dobby?" The elf stopped, rubbed his eyes again before throwing his arms around Luna. "Harry Potter sir is escaping that horrible place, Dobby always knew Harry Potter was a great wizard."
"You can see Harry is with me, Dobby?"
"Oh yes, Miss. Dobby would know Harry Potter anywhere."
"My name is Luna, Dobby. Harry asked me to call you and see if you could help us… Harry, would it be easier if I gave you control for a moment?"
"You can do that?" Hearing his words coming out of Luna's mouth answered his own question. He then spoke directly to his little friend. "Dobby, Luna has been deliberately locked out of her dorm. Do you know anywhere we could stay? Preferably somewhere we won't be easily found, or disturbed."
"Dobby knows the very place, Harry Potter, the come and go room. Harry Potter's Luna can make the room anything she wants, and only those allowed will find it. Dobby will take you there."
As Dobby was dragging Luna along by the hand to show them this room, Harry had one last thing to say before relinquishing control. "Dobby, her housemates keep stealing and hiding Luna's stuff, could you find it for her."
"Dobby will do that. People will not steal from Harry Potter's Luna, Dobby will see her belongings returned."
"Thank you, Dobby, you're the best."
Luna was now back in control, and chatting away to Dobby as they headed for the seventh floor. She had seen Harry's memories of their previous meetings, including Dobby being freed from the Malfoys, and now understood why the little elf was so fond of Harry.
They reached an empty piece of corridor and Dobby instructed Luna to walk up and down three times, thinking of the room she wanted. Harry had the strangest sensation of feeling Luna's tears running down her cheeks after she opened the door. "What's the matter, Luna, didn't it work?"
"Oh it worked perfectly, Harry. This is my bedroom from home, I've really missed it."
Luna kicked her shoes off, enjoying the sensation of her bare feet on the light blue rug in her bedroom. Harry noticed her shoes were odd. That they appeared at the bottom of Luna's bed, now with their matching partner, meant Dobby was already on the case.
With her arms spread wide, Luna flopped backward onto her bed - letting out a sigh of contentment as the mattress cushioned the impact. "This not only looks like my room at home, it feels and smells the same way too."
She stared at her favourite picture on her bedside table, a younger Luna held in her mother's arms. "I brought that picture to Hogwarts back in my first year, it went missing. It only reappeared the day before we got the express back home. I never brought it again, and I really miss it when I'm here. I thought I was going to have to wait another five days before I saw it again, this is wonderful."
Harry's anger flared briefly, anxiety quickly choking the life out of it. The cause of that anxiety was Luna standing and beginning to remove her robes. "Luna, what are you doing?"
"I'm getting ready for bed, Harry. You know, take clothes off, have a wash and brush teeth, nightdress on then into bed. Isn't that what you do? Apart from the nightdress part of course, that would just be silly."
"You're right, Luna, that's basically what I do. I'm inside you though, seeing, hearing and feeling everything you do - how is that going to work?"
"Well I can't walk about with my eyes shut, Harry. You're just going to have to see what you see..."
"I feel as if I'm peeking on you, I'm not like that..."
"I know, Harry. From having you inside me, I can tell you're a good person. I'm not Hermione, Harry, but the both of us will just have to make the best of this situation. It almost feels like I've got a friend..."
"Luna, whatever happens, you most definitely are now my friend."
A little later, Luna was lying contently in a perfect copy of her own bed when her new friend spoke to her.
"Luna, being here with you like this, It's easy to tell you are a beautiful person. Can I just say, you're easily as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside."
"Thank you, Harry, that really means a lot to me." For the first time ever, Luna Lovegood went to sleep inside Hogwarts with a wide smile on her face.
Hermione didn't sleep much last night, no change there though. All throughout the build-up to the final task, Hermione had struggled to get more than a couple of hours a night as she'd been worried about Harry. Since then, well a couple of hours sleep would now seem like heaven.
This morning Hermione supposed she resembled death warmed up, and actually found out she didn't care. She didn't really care about the blonde Ravenclaw who slipped into one of the empty seats next to her either. Since everyone was too busy devouring the news in today's Prophet of just who had placed Harry in Azkaban, no one was paying Hermione any attention - until now.
Ignoring her obviously wasn't going to work as the girl started speaking to her.
"Hermiome, I'm Luna Lovegood. I need to talk to you, Harry needs our help."
This was the witch the entire school called 'loony', Hermione could certainly have done without this. "I'm sorry Luna, I have no idea how to help Harry."
"Oh that's alright, I do. What? Are you sure...okay, I'll try that."
Hermione was now stuck sitting next to this girl who was talking to herself, could this morning get any worse? Her blood ran cold though at the girl's next words.
"Me, books and cleverness. There are more important things — friendship and bravery."
"H-hhow could you possibly know that?"
"You really didn't want him going on without you..." Luna seemed to stare into space for a moment as tears began to run down her cheeks. "He could really have done with you there. Get Harry to tell you about it sometime. I'll warn you now though, he won't want to - and it's pretty horrible. A werewolf, dementors and a time turner, oh my! No wonder he trusts you with his life, you were the first name he thought about."
"Luna, what are you talking about? How can you know this?"
"Not here, Hermione. There's a life at stake, and that life is Harry's. We need to go somewhere private and talk, I'll tell you everything then."
With that, Hermione grabbed Luna by the arm and practically dragged her out of the great hall. First empty room they came to, they were both in there and Hermione was casting spells at the door to ensure they wouldn't be disturbed - or overheard. "I think you should tell me now, Luna."
"It's probably easier if I just show you."
Hermione thought she was ready for anything, that was until Luna grabbed her and kissed her on the mouth. That her first 'adult' kiss was with Luna Lovegood was not something Hermione had ever remotely considered. She was about to seriously lose her temper when Hermione felt the strangest sensation. It was like a cool gentle breeze running down her spine.
Luna ended the kiss and Hermione was ready to give the girl a piece of her mind, that all changed when she discovered her own mind had a visitor. Hermione would know that voice anywhere, even inside her head.
"Hi Hermione. Don't be angry at Luna, she needed to do that..."
Luna watched as Hermione's anger instantly disappeared. Her eyes nearly popped out her head as she shouted 'HARRY!'. Those same eyes then rolled in her head as Hermione promptly fainted.
Catching Hermione before she hit the ground, Luna voiced her thoughts on what just happened. "Maybe it would have been better to warn her first..."