Disclaimer: Carry on my wayward son.
Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon
Note: This fic (A Fearful Redux) is a much happier version of the couple from 'The Meaning of Fear,' Odd Ideas # 87, 91, 92, 158-The Pros From Dover (Omake), 172-Stand Over (Omake).
There was an odd grin on Luna's face as she plopped herself down next to her only friend in the world.
"I realize that you are quite unhappy, but try to cheer up. Brooding like this doesn't do anything to resolve the situation."
"Exactly how am I supposed to cheer up?" he demanded, rising to his feet, eyes shining with barely suppressed rage and power.
"You must try to look on the bright side, of course," the blonde said matter of factly.
"Just how am I supposed to do that?" Harry barked, pacing back and forth like a tiger measuring the bounds of its cage. He could see no bright side, not after learning how little freedom he'd actually had.
"Perhaps an example?" Luna said calmly. "I was captured and used as a hostage to force my father to aid the darkness in its takeover of the country. While a captive, I was tortured and forced to watch as the other prisoners suffered fates so horrible that I do not believe I shall be able to sleep soundly for quite some time. On the bright side, you rescued me before they had a chance to carry out their threat of taking turns defiling me after forcing my father to go first before making him watch."
"Luna, I . . ." Harry stilled, almost reaching for Luna but unsure what to do, as what little he'd learned about comforting someone had come from people who were using it as yet another means of manipulating him.
"Your turn," she said brightly, looking as if a small but significant weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
"I just found out that the girl of my dreams has been dosing me with love potion." He sighed and turned to look off into the depths of the Forbidden forest. "I learned that it was with the knowledge, approval, and assistance of people who I considered my friends and family. I learned that it's considered a fairly normal way for a girl to attract attention in the magical world and I learned that being assured that I would have been weaned off it, had I not developed an immunity, did not calm me down in the slightest." Harry took a deep breath. "On the bright side, I learned that I have at least one true friend." He smiled at the girl. "Which, on reflection, is something that feels very good to say out loud." He straightened up and took a deep breath, stretching as if coming out of a confined space and enjoying being free to move once more.
"I am quite fond of you as well, Harry," she said happily. "I shall be happy to show just how fond I am after you are no longer so emotionally vulnerable."
"What?" Harry replied confused.
"You are a sure thing for a quick tumble, but I wish to be more than just a rebound girl," she explained. She sighed at the look of confusion on his face. "I am expressing the fact that I am romantically interested in you and that I would prefer the possibility of a long term relationship to the almost certainty of a short term fling. Do you understand, Harry?"
"I . . . yes, Luna," the now bright red boy replied as he turned away. "Thank you," he said with a small smile on his face, feeling unusually warm at the thought she was actually taking his feelings into account, as the people he'd thought were his friends had not, indeed as the entire Wizarding World had not.
"No problem, Harry," she said sincerely.
They sat in silent contemplation for a few minutes until Harry had sorted through his thoughts enough to be willing to speak again. "So what do we do now?"
"What do you want to do?" Luna replied. "Stay or leave?"
"I'd like to leave, but . . ." his voice trailed off as he envisioned the obstacles in their path.
"But?" she prompted.
"Do you think they'd let us stay away? Shack's already said something about having me declared a national asset. He said it was to make it easier for me to be an Auror without my NEWTs-" he stopped and tilted his head as if something had just occurred to him.
"He's worried about the fact that you have more power in the tip of your nose than most wizards expend in a lifetime." She giggled mischievously. "He thinks he can trick you into a few binding oaths."
"I . . . oh. I didn't think it was that bad," he admitted with a frown, wondering why he wasn't more paranoid after what had just occurred.
"If there were a way to leave, would you?" Luna persisted.
"Would you come with me?" Harry licked his lips. "I don't want to lose the only friend I have."
"Of course." She blinked twice. "Well?" she asked, not wanting to risk asking the question a third time, as a third refusal could cause a minor binding.
"Yes," he admitted. "But we can stay if you'd rather," he added in a rush. "I don't want you to have to leave because of me."
"I have as much keeping me here as you do, Harry," Luna said lightly.
"What about your father?" he asked surprised.
"He left me a very nice letter of apology before leaving to join mother," she said with only a slight hitch. "Seems he was feeling quite guilty at what he had been forced to do."
"I'm sorry," he said, cautiously laying a hand on her shoulder.
"I am too," she laid her hand atop his and gave it a small squeeze.
"So what now?" he asked, resuming his pacing once she'd released his hand.
"We pack everything we don't want to leave behind and destroy everything we don't want them to have," Luna said with a bright smile. "I happened across the most lovely rune construct the other day which will allow us to bring my house with us so we don't have to trouble ourselves with looking for a new one when we reach our destination." Perhaps a bit more if her calculations on his power level were even close to correct.
"When you said everything . . ." he trailed off.
"I was not using hyperbole," she assured him.
"Hogwarts?" he asked, imagining the chaos it would cause.
"One never knows unless one is willing to try," she said, trying to sound earnest.
"Really?" Harry squeaked, eyes wide in astonishment at the wonder of magic, something that still filled him with joy years after his reintroduction to the Wizarding world.
"No, but the look on your face was absolutely hilarious," Luna giggled. "The library and most of its treasures may be within the realm of possibility though."
"Hermione will-" he paused at Luna's uplifted eyebrow, "likely freak." He laughed. "Serves her right for helping them fill me with potions." An uncomfortable thought arose. "You don't suppose . . ."
"No. She just assumed that she knew what was best for you better than you did," Luna said frankly. "She's convinced the others that you'll come back after you calm down and accept that they're right."
"Not bloody likely," Harry growled, enraged at his former friend's completely characteristic behavior. "You're sure?"
"I checked quite closely," Luna said with a small sigh, wondering how someone so smart could have been so stupid.
"Thank you, Luna."
The pair spent the next week quietly emptying vaults and looting manor houses. In Luna's words, 'If they're in prison for trying to kill us, why not rob them blind before they have a chance to bribe their ways free?' Harry privately thought burning them to the ground afterwards was a bit excessive, but he figured he also hadn't had the pleasure of their company for quite as long as Luna had, so who was he to judge? Plus she was right, cooking things over a roaring fire was much better than cooking them on a stove, tho' he was sure some of her suggestions were just silly little things she came up with to make him laugh, like the one about marshmallows.
It wasn't until after they'd hit the Prophet and were half way through Hogwarts that an uncomfortable idea formed. How in the hell were they going to get away? It was a question Luna found hilarious
"We are planning to get away, aren't we?" he continued, just a bit nervously.
"Of course we are, Harry," Luna said between giggles. "You didn't think this was some crazy stunt to do as much damage as possible before going out in a blaze of glory, did you?"
"No. It's just... aren't they going to be motivated to hunt us to the ends of the earth?" he asked nervously.
"Probably," she agreed unconcerned.
"So?" he asked.
"So we're going to another one," Luna explained.
"Space travel?!" he exclaimed, wide eyed.
"Don't be ridiculous." Luna sniffed. "Everybody knows there's no air in space. Not to mention the distances involved."
"What are we going to do then?" he asked.
"We're going to hop dimensions of course," she said matter of factly.
"Of course," he echoed weakly. "Do you know how to do that?"
"No, but how hard could it be?" she replied unconcerned. Considering what Wizarding kind had accomplished, despite being complete morons most of the time, she was sure the pair of them could do anything they set their minds to with a bit of effort.
'Those are not words to inspire confidence,' Harry thought to himself. It was his own fault, he lamented, he got caught up in the moment, intoxicated by the thought that he'd be able to even the scales just a bit. The boy took a deep breath. Ah well, not like he ever expected to live this long anyway. Blaze of glory wasn't a bad second choice, all things considered.
"Annnnnnd done," Luna announced, a portion of the ancient castle vanishing into the snow globe she was holding. The girl squinted at his face for a few moments. "Are you imagining making a last stand on top of a pile of dead Aurors?"
". . .no?" he offered, looking incredibly guilty.
"Be honest," she chastised him.
"I'm just not as confident that hopping dimensions is going to be quite as easy as you seem to think it will be," Harry confessed. "Figured it'd be good to make a backup plan."
"Alright," Luna agreed. "Just let me set the Ravenclaw common room ablaze and we'll see if my plan is viable."
"Sure." Harry smiled, feeling a lot better than he had since getting his revelation. All else failed, they had a plan to go off. Sure, it ended in almost certain death but how many of his plans hadn't?
Luna allowed herself exactly forty two seconds to watch the fire before heading straight to the room of requirements with just a short stop to urinate on her former head of house's pillow and steal most of his prized possessions. She figured the bottle full of Neville's last attempt at making a wart removing potions would take care of the rest.
"This is the plan?" Harry asked, eyeing the door as the room began to melt at the edges, an acidic purple gas slowly crawling over the walls as it escaped the broken bottle.
"Just follow my lead," Luna asked. "This doesn't work, we can try your plan."
"Alright." With a deep breath, the two stepped through the door and . . .
Hermione's pulse quickened as the runes shifted color. It was working, they were doing it! 'Bugger the tournament, bugger the judges, and bugger the idiots that forced my best friend into a death match; I am the smartest girl who ever lived!' A thousand thoughts raced through her head as two figures began to take shape at the center of the protective circle she'd spent the previous day meticulously crafting.
She stepped forward after the figures solidified. There were two, one large and one small. Both appeared to be dressed in hooded cloaked reminiscent of the ones that adorned Azkaban's guards. Neither made a sound and neither appeared to be paying her the slightest bit of attention.
"Hello," she greeted the pair in the circle. "I'm Hermione Granger and I would like to make a bar-"
Dumbledore's heart pounded as he raced to stop what he believed had the potential to be the greatest magical disaster in the past thousand years. 'Too many posts and not enough competent help,' he blasted himself. 'Too afraid to give up even a hit of power for fear it might be needed to fight what I knew was coming, too busy to do my bloody duty as an educator!'
He'd been in his office a few minutes earlier contemplating another glass of brandy when the wards informed him of what was about to happen and just how little time he had to prevent it.
'I didn't make it,' his heart nearly stopped at the admission. 'I've failed, I've failed because I got too wrapped up in my games. I've failed and the whole world is going to pay if I'm not able to salvage the situation.'
His blood went cold when he heard the girl begin to speak in the distance. The shot of adrenaline her words provoked proved to be exactly what he needed to prevent what he knew would be a very big mistake.
"Silence!" Dumbledore roared as he burst into the room.
"Professor?!" the so called brightest witch of her age squawked. "What are you-"
"Be silent Ms. Granger," Dumbledore hissed. "I beg you to forgive her, sir, she is young and has not yet learned to act as she should. As her teacher and the one most responsible for that lapse, please grant me the privilege of taking any punishment in her place."
The smaller figure quit examining the circle they were in and spoke, "My master understands that youths are often impetuous," she whispered. "Return his wand, stone, and cloak, and he shall consider the matter closed."
The old man presented his wand with as deep a bow as his ancient knees and back would allow. "It may take me a day to retrieve your master's cloak and longer for the stone," Dumbledore cautioned. "Neither is in my possession and I do not know the stone's current location."
"That is acceptable," Luna allowed. "For now."
"Your master's mercy knows no bounds," Dumbledore said gratefully. "Thank you."
"For now," Luna repeated. "We shall return tomorrow. That will be sufficient time for you to retrieve my master's cloak."
"I shall instruct the staff that you are not to be hindered in any way," Dumbledore promised. To the man's private relief, the two left the room without uttering another word.
"I think that went well," Harry said, breaking the silence after he was sure they wouldn't be overheard. "I'm sorry for doubting you."
"I'm sorry for doubting me too," Luna chirped. "I must say that I didn't expect anything like the reception we got."
"It was a bit surprising, wasn't it?" Harry admitted, only having a vague idea of what had occurred and why they'd mistaken him for Death.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Luna asked curiously. "At the very least, I would have assumed that you'd have objected to being mistakenly identified as the grim reaper."
"Well," Harry paused to think of the best way to put his thoughts to voice, "I did agree to follow your lead."
"And?" she prompted, sensing there was more.
"In the words of a very wise man." He cleared his throat. "If someone asks if you're a god, you say yes. I figured this was close enough."
Luna pondered the answer for a moment. "Sensible," she stated. "Shall we pick out where to put our home?"
"Ms. Granger. I am quite sure that I've spent the last several decades eliminating all references to the ritual you just performed. Where did you learn of it?" his tone implied that he was not in the mood to play around.
"The Black library," the girl squeaked. "I've been corresponding with Sirius since the day the names came out of that damned cup."
"Of course." The old man's eyes closed. "In the future, Ms. Granger, please check with me before doing something like this again," he finished, sounding very old and very tired.
"Yes, Professor," the girl agreed. "Who was that?"
"You don't know?" has asked, surprised.
"The ritual said it would summon someone who could help Olivia with the tournament," the girl explained.
"I see." He nodded to himself and stroked his beard.
"Professor?" she asked, breaking his train of thought.
"Unless I'm much mistaken, that was Death and his handmaiden," Dumbledore replied.
"W-what?!" Hermione froze, a drop of urine soaking into her underwear as the enormity of her mistake hit her.
AN: Decided to play around with some cliches and tropes and to write it in the form of a pseudo-redux of the Odd Ideas 'Meaning of Fear' chapters with a much younger and happier couple. Will likely make Luna the master of death with the local wand/stone/cloak if I do any more of this. Not sure if or when that might happen, just happy that the urge to write is starting to return.
Awesomeness added by dogbertcarroll
Mistake noted by alshenk, Cassius Longinus