Chapter 15: Love Me Not
AN: THANK YOU FOR THE REVIEWS! So much love for you all! And yes, I have a love/hate relationship for Albus. Love because he is such a complicated character who has made me cry and hate because well… a lot of reasons.
KEYNOTE: Many of you have noticed that Harry has been letting stuff slip. Currently Sirius, Flitwick, and Poppy know the most. Others are putting some of the pieces together, they probably aren't going to make the logic jump to time travel but Harry has caused himself trouble.
ANII: I will never be able to live up to the last chapter. This chapter is the fluffy one I've been promising for a while now and for all the people who have been demanding more Harry/Luna.
Chapter 15 - Love Me Not
"GET OUT!" Albus roared, "All of you get out!"
Seeing the old man completely losing his cool had Harry and Sirius sharing a quick hug before parting their separate ways. Sirius through the fire and Harry being the first out the door.
Perhaps this was cowardly, but nobody in the room was qualified for being able to hand an emotional Albus. Even Minerva knew enough to give the man his own space. All but Severus were hot on Harry's heels to get out of the Headmaster's office.
Only Severus remained.
"Leave me," Albus said collapsing in a chair by the window, Fawkes chirping softly still on his shoulder.
"I would have taken him," Severus said when the door behind the others was firmly shut.
Albus looked up, his expression in turmoil. "What?"
"I would have taken the boy in, if there really had been no one else, I would have taken him in."
"You think you would have made a good father?" Albus asked bitterly.
"No," Severus said cooly, "I probably wouldn't have been, but I would have given him a place to sleep, his own clothes to wear, and food to eat."
"You would have taken in James Potter's son?" Albus repeated.
"I would have taken in Lily's son and I would have kept him safe."
"You would have been wasted," Albus sighed, looking out the window, "You wouldn't have been able to be my spy."
Severus shook his head and headed for the door. Before he left he had one parting shot, "In all your plans Albus, did you ever account for being proved wrong?"
He potions professor left and the old man sat overlooking the ground and acknowledged to himself, that no, he hadn't accounted for being alone.
He frowned as his sluggish thoughts were able to think past the emotions and the pain swelling across his cheek.
How did Harry know I meant for him to face Tom? Tom didn't know that, it wasn't something Harry could have gleaned from the Dark Lord's mind. And how did Harry know of the Hallows? And why did the wand that only recognized a master who had killed the previous owner acknowledge Harry?
When Sirius arrived back at Grimmauld Place Remus was there waiting for him.
"Where have you been?" Remus asked, nearly frantic, "Where's Harry?"
"I was punching Albus and Harry is in perfect health back at Hogwarts."
Remus gaped at him, "You did what?"
"Oh don't look so shocked, he was asking for it," Sirius said like he had a million times in his life about others. "It was Harry who did the impressive stuff. He won a duel against Dumbledore then broke his wand."
Remus sat back and would have fallen if Sirius hadn't kicked out a chair to catch his friend.
"What?" Remus asked stunned.
"More impressive in person, I assure you," Sirius said with a pleased grin at Remus's reaction. The sensible man was obviously reeling.
"But why would Harry and Albus be fighting? And why would Harry break his wand? And did you say you punched the Headmaster?"
"Because the Headmaster deserved it to all three of those questions."
"Why?" Remus asked.
Sirius sighed and sank down into a chair beside the werewolf, "Do you remember Lily's sister?"
Sirius told Remus what had happened to the son of their best friend after James's death. He ended the story at the end of Harry's fourth year and Sirius, in retelling the story was angrier than he had been because it was what followed after Harry's fourth year that had caused the most damage, had turned Harry from an abused child to a war hero. Into a man without equal.
By the time Severus caught up with the others Harry was regaling them with stories from his vacation.
Severus had never seen the boy so chipper. Happy the boy looked a lot more like Lily than he did James, at least in mannerism.
Poor Pomona was shell shocked as she listened, Minerva was lost in thought, and Filius was the only one actively listening with a smile.
"So while the rest of us have been scrambling to find the precious Boy Who Lived you were on a beach in the South of France?" Severus asked snidely.
Harry looked over his shoulder and flashed a smile at his dour professor. It was Lily's smile, Lily's eyes smiling at Severus beyond the grave.
"It was my first vacation ever," Harry said cheerfully.
The boy was fifteen years old and had never been on a holiday trip, not even Severus had a comeback for that one, not to the last remaining piece of Lily living on this plant. So Severus held his tongue and Harry went back to talking to Filius.
They entered the Great Hall and the room fell quiet until one Hufflepuff stood up, pointed dramatically at Harry, and shouted, "He's alive!"
Which sent the hall into a flurry of conversation and noise. Some people clapped, some like the Weasley twins (who would have known Harry was fine) stood up and hollered.
Severus made a disgusted noise and muttered, "He's the Boy Who Lived, of course he-" Harry didn't hear the rest over the rising noise but he could have sworn Snape said something about an atomic bomb.
A streak of blonde curls came rushing towards Harry.
He caught Luna in his arms and after a moment returned the hug to the girl who was clinging to him. Awkwardly, he patted her back.
"I'm okay, Luna, sorry, I guess I should have sent you a note," Harry apologized.
Severus made another disgruntled noise and headed for the end of the hall snapping at any student who was making a fuss as he went. Minerva and Filius and Pomona shared amused looks and headed for the head table, settling down the students as they went. Minerva having to put the most effort into it as it was her lions making the most noise. She had to threaten the twins with detention.
Luna looked up at Harry her eyes a deep blue, "I knew you were safe, I am just happy to have my friend back."
Harry extracted himself from her hug but took her hand as he went to find a seat at the Gryffindor table.
He wasn't really hungry but he didn't want to be alone in Gryffindor Tower either.
"Where have you been?" Angelina asked.
"South of France," Harry answered easily.
"Explains the tan," Hermione observed. Her tone was a bit harsh, but she looked relieved to see him.
Susan pushed between Fred and Lee, "You were kidnapped by Sirius Black!?"
Neville looked pale.
"No," Harry said. Susan and half the people listening sighed with relief, "I ran away with Sirius Black."
The expressions on their faces; totally worth it.
"Mr. Potter," Umbridge had approached them and those nearby had hushed to listen in.
Harry turned to look at the pink toad, eyebrows raised.
"Where have you been?" she asked.
"I've already been to the Headmaster's office," Harry said.
She sniffed but seeing the hostile faces of the other students returned to the head table.
"She's High Inquisitor now," George told him.
"She starts inspecting teachers tomorrow," Fred said.
"Snape's class will be fun."
Harry said nothing, knowing how it played out.
"You're sunkissed," Luna observed causing quite a few people to snigger.
Harry glared at them at to shut up. He told her, "I spent the week in the sun."
"Good thing, it fights off the Frosties."
Harry nodded in agreement.
"You missed our first quidditch match," Angelina said angrily from a few seats away.
"Judging by your face we lost," Harry guessed.
"Slytherin smoked us," Fred said mournfully, giving Ron an exasperated look.
Ron sank into his seat.
"It's alright," Harry consoled, "It was only the first game of the year, I am sure we can make up the points."
Ron gave Harry a grateful look as the twins and Angelina huffed.
Hermione sent Harry an odd look, "I never thought you would be so reasonable about quidditch."
Harry shrugged, "There are more important things," and with a wink at Ron he said, "like homework."
Neither Ron nor Hermione knew which one of them Harry was joking with.
"Ron," Hermione called from the door of their dorm room. It was after dinner but not curfew yet.
Ron came over to her, "What's up, Hermione?"
Ron made a sour face, "Library." He said it like it was a dirty word.
"Oh, well I don't think we have time to get him if we are going to make it back in time."
Ron frowned, "Back from where?"
"Hagrid is back."
The pair of them were knocking on Hagrid's door fifteen minutes later. The air was growing quite colder as the month of October wore on.
Hagrid opened the door with a big grin and a large black and blue bruise around his eye that had swollen shut. "I was wondering when you three woul- wait a minute, where's 'Arry?"
"Library," Ron said shortly, "Can we come in?"
Hagrid stepped back, but his smile was gone, "'Arry didn't want to see me?"
"We didn't ask," Hermione said. "What happened to you? Who hurt you?"
"Why wouldn't you ask him?" Hagrid wondered, perplexed at the very notion.
"We haven't been- that is to say we haven't been that close this year," Hermione said sadly.
"You tell us about your eye and we'll tell you about Harry," Ron offered.
Hagrid gave them both a skeptical look, "Everything's strange since I got back. Dumbledore having a black eye and now Harry's not with you two. Strange, strange even for Hogwarts." He turned to start making tea.
"Dumbledore has a black eye?" Hermione asked horrified.
"Who would dare?" Ron asked astonished.
"Sirius Black took a swing at him apparently," Hagrid said.
"Why?" Ron and Hermione asked in unison.
"Dumbledore wouldn't say but he was in a right temper, wouldn't sit still for a minute, pacing a rut in the floor and his desk... It looked like there had been a duel in his office but when I asked he said Sirius hadn't done it," Hagrid explained placing two mugs before them.
"Sirius took Harry on vacation," Hermione supplied.
"What!?" Hagrid exclaimed, "During the semester? But he must have missed a load of classes."
"He had a nightmare," Ron said, "And a house-elf took in too Headquarters."
"Surely you saw the papers," Hermione said, "Sirius Black Kidnaps Boy Who Lived. It was all anyone could talk about. The school was going mad with it. Harry just came back today, he walked in with a tan like nothing had happened."
"Sirius is his godfather, Hermione," Ron pointed out, "He wasn't really in danger."
"I know Sirius wouldn't have harmed him, but it was rash and they could have been attacked. Besides he missed a lot of school."
"I thought you were mad at Harry for being too focused on school work?" Ron questioned. "You've barely talked to him all year since he jumped to being top of the year."
"You were mad at him for doing well at school?" Hagrid asked. He was flabbergasted. "But aren't you always after Harry and Ron for not trying harder? Poor show, Hermione, if you are going to turn on him when he listens to your advice."
Hermione's cheeks were tinged pink and flustered she tried to defend herself, but she found she had nothing to say.
"Harry's been weird since coming back from this summer," Ron said, coming to her defense.
"Weird how?" Hagrid asked.
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look.
"Well," Ron said, "Aside from liking school work, he's been really distant and yet he's been pretty friendly with the other houses. He's been nice to Malfoy."
Hagrid's one good eye bulged, "Why?"
"We don't know," Hermione said, "And he seems to not like Dumbledore. He hates talking about him and he avoids the Headmaster at almost any cost."
"Strange," Hagrid muttered to himself.
"Now what happened to you?" Ron asked.
They talked of giants and by the time Hagrid had finished his story about befriending the head of the giants to Dumbledore's cause in case of a war, Ron and Hermione had to run back to Gryffindor Tower to make curfew.
Harry was sound asleep when Ron got back to their room. Ron looked at his best friend sadly, not understanding how fast and how far the distance between them had grown.
Harry's back at Hogwarts. He seems brighter. The towers in his mind are standing tall.
Father's papers had to reprint because the Quibbler was the only paper printing that Harry was safe with his godfather on vacation. A story which Harry and Dumbledore confirmed.
Dumbledore is unhappy though the towers in his mind have been attacked by an earthquake. I can tell because he doesn't talk at dinner with the other teachers.
Oh and he has a black eye. Perhaps he met an unfriendly Heliopath.
Harry spent the next two days doing more homework than Hermione would have been willing to attempt. By Wednesday Harry had caught up with last week's work, though he looked tired.
Hermione couldn't help but be impressed as they walked as a group down to Hagrid's class. She approached Harry who was amiably teasing Draco for being afraid of the forest.
"Harry," she said softly.
He turned to her and she didn't like that he was giving her the same expectant look he had given Umbridge in the great hall three nights ago.
"I'm sorry," Hermione said, "sorry for the way I've been acting."
Harry smiled at her and Hermione's heart skipped a beat. "It's alright Hermione, no worries."
She stared at him in amazement. Hermione would never get over how forgiving Harry could be to those he was close too.
"I'm sorry too mate," Ron said, eager to end the silent fraud between them all.
Harry glared at him.
Ron's heart sank.
Then Harry grinned, "Just kidding. We're good."
Draco, who had been watching the interaction closely snorted, and said dersively, "And that's why you weren't sorted into Slytherin."
Harry turned his grin on the pale boy, "If I had been sorted into Slytherin we might have been friends and such a world probably would self destruct."
Draco glared at him, "Anybody ever tell you, you're mad?"
Harry thought of his adventure at Gringotts and his grin only grew, "You have no idea how right they are."
Draco sank back into the group of Slytherins distancing himself from the Boy Who Lived.
Ron had an extra skip in his step until they reached the edge of the Forbidden Forest that Hagrid told them they would be going into.
Harry walked beside Hagrid as the rest of the class stared after them.
Ron and Hermione hesitated only a moment before following their friends into the woods.
When they got to a dark thicket, Hagrid threw down the cow carcass and started screeching.
"Sandro!" Harry called pleased as he seemed to watch an invisible creature come out of the woods.
Only Theodore and Neville knew Harry wasn't petting thin air, but neither of them wanted to pet the skeletal horse.
Even Hagrid was a bit surprised, "You know Sandro?"
"Luna introduced us," Harry said coaxing to the horse who had put his head down to get behind his ear scratched.
"Xeno's daughter?" Hagrid asked.
"That's her, Luna Lovegood," Harry said with a smile.
And something about the way Harry had said her name made Hagrid think that while Ron and Hermione had been avoiding him, Harry had found other friends, or possibly someone more.
The rest of the class watched with a measure of fear and disgust as the cow disappeared by some invisible force while Harry tried to convince people to pet the creatures.
Hagrid watched all his students with amusement as he lectured them about his herd and Thestrals in the wild.
By the end of class Theodore, Daphne, Blaise, and Hermione were the only ones who tried to pet the Thestrals. The three Slytherins out of curiosity and not to be bested by Harry while Neville and Hermione reached out their hands in bravery. No one else really trusted Harry or Hagrid's definition of safe enough to try to pet an invisible carnivorous flying horse creature.
Harry couldn't really blame them.
Harry did homework with Hermione, Ron, and Luna in the library. Harry finished his essay first and started on a letter.
Ron was swamped with homework he'd been putting off and Hermione, well Hermione had started studying harder and putting even more effort into her subjects to try and catch up. Harry allowed her to read over his essays and she gaped in awe as she reread each one thrice over.
Harry passed his letter over to Luna who had already finished her own homework as fourth years had far less to do than fifth years. She was now drawing.
She paused looking at the address line. Luna smiled when she saw it was addressed to her father. She pulled it forward, pushing her drawing aside. In purple ink, she crossed out 'Mr. Lovegood' replacing it with Xeno.
So the letter thus read:
Thank you so much for our correspondence, your words helped a lot in helping me understand what had happened to me. I threw the stone somewhere nobody is likely to reach.
I found the wand too, it recognized me. Dumbledore had had it. I kind of, sort of, may have snapped it. Gold liquid came out, followed by a pulse of gold sparkles. Fawkes the Phoenix burned it to dust.
I don't know for sure if it was the best choice, I know it is somewhat of an artifact, but at least Dumbledore will not be murdered for it.
Just thought you should know or at least would like to know.
Luna wrote on the bottom.
P.S. Father I love you, L.L.
Followed by an arrow up at Harry's body paragraphs. Smart, isn't he? and a doodle of purple phoenix.
"I was wondering if you could owl it for me?" Harry asked in a whisper low enough that neither Ron nor Hermione looked up from their work, "I don't think they would check your mail to your dad."
Luna nodded and folded the letter. She wrote her address on the front and pulled out her wand and warded and cursed the letter against anyone but the person it was addressed to.
Harry's green eyes widened in appreciation. "That's so cool," he whispered, "Would you teach me?"
She nodded and took him through the symbols, the syllables, the intentions, and the wand movements.
Hermione and Ron had stopped what they were doing to watch them, Harry and Luna lost in their own realm.
The group split before curfew going to their separate towers.
Before she went Luna tapped her finger on the letter and asked Harry, "The Bard?"
With a sweet smile, she went up on tip toe and kissed Harry's cheek. She had turned and was skipping away before Harry good wish her goodnight.
Hermione and Ron gaped at Harry who was holding the back of his hand to his cheek.
"You like her?" Hermione asked after a moment.
Harry whipped his hand down to his side, face flushing. "No," he said embarrassed. He began to march towards their tower.
"Loony Lovegood?" Ron asked. "You like Loony Lovegood."
Harry face was hot, but he shook his head, "Don't call her that. And no, we are just friends."
"It didn't look like just friendship to me," Hermione said with a smirk as Harry's ears glowed pink.
"No," Harry said more firmly. Inside he was squirming. Luna was only fourteen. Ginny was only fourteen. Harry was eighteen and in two years he would be twenty and they would be sixteen. That would be too weird for him.
Ron, who had rarely seen Harry so teasable pressed, "Potter and Love good. Not a bad ring to it."
Harry walked faster.
"It's alright to have a crush, Harry," Hermione mused. "She seems to like you too."
Harry's heart sank. That wasn't a good thought, that wasn't a good thought at all. Harry had begun to truly depend on Luna's friendship, he didn't have to guard his thoughts or emotions from her and she didn't question him when he made slips about the future and she was the only one who didn't seem to need to know all his secrets to accept him. She didn't ask about the past or the future, Luna simply, blessedly only cared about Harry in the now.
The thought that she might develop feelings for him, feelings that he could not, or rather would not return made him sick.
"Oh come on, Harry, she'd make a great first girlfriend," Ron coaxed.
They were entering the portrait hole when Harry gritted out, "And why's that, Ronald?" It was warning that should have tipped Ron off, Harry never ever used Ron's full first name.
"She's the only person in this school weirder than you are."
Harry stuck out his foot and Ron went sprawling into the common room. The twins and Lee who had seen them come began to laugh uproariously.
"Insensitive git," Harry snapped, heading up to bed not waiting for Ron to pick himself up off the floor.
Hermione was shaking her head as Ron got up.
"Maybe I shouldn't have pushed him," Ron mumbled to Hermione.
She just rolled her eyes and went to her own room.
The twins were still rolling around on the floor in fits of giggles.
Harry didn't sleep well that night.
On Thursday he had a class with Cho Chang and about half an hour in he was about ready to start screaming at her. His threats when he went into Ravenclaw Tower she seemed to think didn't apply to. At least not now that Marietta was sitting on the far side of the room.
But the next time Cho touched Harry's elbow he jerked aggressively away from her. He hissed, "Can you please stop touching me?"
Cho's face filled with hurt and her eyes seemed to brim with tears.
Harry ignored her. His thoughts preoccupied with another Ravenclaw girl. He didn't like Luna really. Not like liked any way. Or at least he didn't think he did. Not the way he had liked Ginny or even had once been crushing on Cho. Cho, who was a sixth year and only two years younger than him.
Harry sighed. He hadn't thought his age would bother him so much but it did and he needed to find a way to ensure Luna never felt more for him than he did for her.
He needed to talk to Sirius, or maybe Flitwick but that would be awkward. He wouldn't want to talk to his professor about girls.
Of course, I don't like her like that so it shouldn't be a problem should it? A voice in his head asked him cheekily.
But Harry didn't end up asking Flitwick and whatever uneasy feelings Harry had were assuaged by Luna herself in their Arithmancy class.
They discussed nothing but Arithmancy and the theory that DADA was really just part B of Charms class. Luna didn't try to touch Harry across the table, or flirt, or give him secret looks. She didn't lose her ability to talk around him or laugh at the things he was saying that weren't meant to be funny.
Luna didn't act like the girls in his sixth year had, or like Cho, or like Ginny. In fact, now that he thought of it, he remembered when he had brought Luna to Slughorn's party and there had been nothing romantic between them. Nothing romantic at all. No, Hermione and Ron had just been having a go at him; Harry didn't like like Luna. She was beautiful in her own way but Harry didn't feel uncontrollably attracted to her like he had once felt for Ginny. And Luna gave no sign that she thought of him as more than a friend either.
Nope, Harry and Luna were just that, just friends. Two weird people in a weirder world surrounded by people who were pretending to be 'normal' as if there were such a thing.
Dearest Darlingest Daisy Diary,
I think I like Harry. But I can't let him know. He's my only friend, the only person outside of Father who doesn't treat me like I'm something apart. But Dearest Darlingest Daisy Diary, I think I really like him.
AN: So the back and forth with the Golden Trio because yes they are friends but no they don't fit like the used to. And no, I still have no idea how to write romance so again I'm winging it. Please share your reactions with me?
Chapter 16: Without You
WARNING: There is some harsh wording in this one. I typically stay clear of swearing but Sirius sort of blew that out of the water and well I swear a lot sooo I lost that battle with myself.
AN: It may be my favorite fish after shnailfish.
Chapter 16 - Without You
The Nargles are gathering.
I knew Ginny wasn't my friend, she nearly blew my head off in BBCE, luckily I am getting better at shield charms. Cho has been setting traps in the fourth year dorm bathroom. I would tell her to stop but the strands of her magic are so easy to see I wonder if she's giving me practice in countercurse wards.
More people are joining DADA nearly everyone from the fourth year to the seventh year is coming, they followed their classmates to the RR. I don't know if the RR can grow much bigger and I hope we don't get caught.
Father says Harry is a brilliant young man and would have been sorted into Ravenclaw had trouble not followed him around like Snuckerfish to the underside of a Gaia Turtle.
The High Inquisitor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was not having an easy time. Some of the teachers were easy enough to bully -Minerva McGonagall not among them, but it was the resistance of the students that made Dolores's reports so difficult.
A trend had been started -and when Dolores found out who they were, they would pay, that whenever she asked a question about the class or teacher the student -no matter the house, would start with "As compared to your class-" followed by some impressive backhanded insults.
"Compared to you Professor Umbridge, Professor Snape is encouraging and warm hearted."
"Compared to your class, I'd say I am actually going to be able to pass my Care of Magical Creatures OWLs exam."
"Compared to DADA, Divinations is actually preparing us for the future, if only because Professor Trelawney is realistic about the dangers that exist in the world."
It rankled Dolores that she couldn't punish them but Minerva had pulled rank as Assistant Headmistress so although Dolores could give them a month of detentions Minerva was the one to decide what they did and most of her 'detentions' were a five minute time out in the corner to ponder what they'd done as Dolores raged in quiet observation from the shadows.
Her Inquisitive team consisted of two numb skulls from her old house. They didn't have two original thoughts to rub between them.
Dolores needed to find a way to gain real power at Hogwarts. The way to achieve this was clear; break Harry Potter. If his quiet leadership and influence were broken than this new and abnormal cross house unity would evaporate. Only through devotion did Umbridge have a chance of claiming this school as her own.
Voldemort was going to kill Peter Pettigrew. He was going to kill him slow and painful-
Voldemort rolled off the grubby couch onto the dusty floor with a thunk. "Wormtail!" he wailed, cursing that he, the Dark Lord had been reduced to hiding in an abandoned apartment in Saudi Arabia dependant on one single insufferable Gryffindor to keep him alive, unable to so much as walk or feed himself.
"M'lord!" Wormtail cried, scrambling, and curse him, was he snuffling? No, he was on the brink of tears. Damn him. How had this pitiful creature ever had friends? He was truly insufferable.
"Get me off the floor!"
In Wormtail's shaking grip, Voldemort felt like he was being shaken like a child twirling an ant terrarium.
"Put me down!"
Wormtail dropped him back on the floor.
Oh how he missed Quirrel. The jittering, garlic toting pansy had at least had the brains not smash his face against hard surfaces!
"On the couch, you blithering idiot!" Voldemort screeched.
Wormtail fell over himself putting the baby bundle, that was Voldemort on the smelly couch, which he then began to roll off again.
"Securely!" Voldemort instructed.
Wormtail rearranged him, taking a -what once might have been considered, a blanket to cover him up with.
"It's too hot here for that!"
Wormtail whipped the blanket off and again, Voldemort rolled to the floor with another thunk.
The worm would die for this humiliation. He would die a creative death, a most creative death indeed.
The only thing keeping Voldemort alive were the snakes Wormtail kept trapping on the edge of the desert. Eating the heads and drinking the blood of magical dessert snakes was enough to sustain this poor excuse for a body but he needed something stronger. Or something that could strengthen his spirit so he could possess the Boy Who Lived, for what better way was there to take over Britain than taking over the life of their hero.
Only in the meantime, Voldemort could only wish that he wasn't living on the edge of a desert city. How he longed to be living in one of the lush apartments they passed, the ones with air conditioning. The muggle contraptions were necessary when a wizard like Wormtail was your only means of magic. It had taken five hours of not so patient instruction of a muggle repellent warding to guard them against the dregs that wandered every city.
It would all be worth it in the end however, Harry Potter would be his. The boy may be guarded physically, but Voldemort had tasted his mind, his soul and he would eat that soul and take his place in the Golden Boy's body. He had learned in the last year things no mortal knew and necromancy had nothing on dissecting a human soul.
Harry showed up to his Occlumency lesson with Snape that Friday night. He was surprised, however, when Snape directed he follow him out of his office, and out of the dungeons.
After a few minutes of walking, Harry asked, "Why are we going to the hospital wing?"
"Don't ask stupid questions," Snape snapped.
Harry didn't ask again but that didn't mean he agreed with it being a stupid question. As far Harry was aware he didn't need medical help so the question of why they were starting out their lesson in the medical wing had merit.
Madame Pomfrey greeted him like Harry had come to expect from Mrs. Weasley. Indeed, her treatment of him could be safely compared to a full out Mollycoddling.
She started handing him potions after she checked him with a number spells, "You are doing much better than last year, but the damage is quite deep. My own fault for not recognizing your thin waist and weak bones for what they were. Even your trouble in school up to this year might be explained."
"Um… what are you talking about?" Harry asked.
"Just drink the potions, Mr. Potter, it will explain itself. Trust me," she said.
Harry gave her a wary look. He trusted her but-
She huffed, hands on hips and continued, "Really Harry, Professor Snape brewed them. They are safe. He is the best Potioneer in the country."
Harry looked askance at the potion bottles in his hands, "Was that supposed to reassure me? Because it doesn't."
"Shut it, you little ingrate. Those potions took me two seasons to prepare," Snape growled with a scowl, though Harry could have sworn he saw a spark of amusement in his Professor's onyx eyes.
Figuring that if either of them had truly wished him harm they would have succeeded by now. So he dunked the potions back, one after the other, and another, and another.
It was good he was already sitting on a cot because Harry was given no warning before his body decided that being conscious was not what the moment called for.
Harry woke with start, flinging himself off the cot.
"Good," Pomfrey said, looking up from her clipboard, "It worked."
"What worke-" Harry started to ask, wrapping his arms around his bare chest. Only it didn't feel like his fifteen year old body, it didn't feel like the body he'd transported back in time to.
Pomfrey waved her wand and summoned a mirror and Harry spun to look at himself. He was taller, nearly as tall as he had been when he was seventeen, but his skin. It was still tanned from his vacation but it was, well- he wasn't really sure anyone else would see it, unless like him they had spent a lifetime, maybe two, with himself and he knew that this wasn't the way he looked. He was still lean, still had muscles from Defense and Quidditch practice but now he also had a layer of- of fat? Not bad fat or even the baby weight Neville had but just a healthy layer of padding between his muscles and his skin. His ribs were no longer visibly protruding against his sides. His stomach was... softer. There had been points in his childhood where his stomach had bloated outward even if his gutt was aching from lack of food but this- Harry poked it. The pleasant give made him smile.
He looked average.
He didn't have the same face Hermione had called handsome in their sixth year, but his cheeks were now fuller, his adam's apple less visible, he still looked fifteen but Harry had never realized all the marks that had truly meant he had never taken care of his body. No wonder Mrs. Weasley always treated him like he looked starved. He had looked starved and the months of good eating at Hogwarts were always undone by the summer of near fasting.
Harry turned back to Madame Pomfrey who was watching him with a sad smile. Harry marveled at how smooth his motions were, how his very joints felt- better, stronger. He still needed his glasses but even through the little glass panes, the world looked sharper as if the faintest of fogs had been lifted.
"Thank you," Harry breathed, even his thoughts felt less mirky. It was like having a handicap your entire life and suddenly being able to move without infringement.
Pomfrey shook her head and waved him away, "Don't thank me Harry. I should have done this the moment you walked through- were carried through my door. I should have seen it." She was berating herself.
Harry stepped forward and hugged the mediwitch, she was smaller than him now. "Thank you for taking care of me Madame Pomfrey."
She hugged him back, she held him tightly for a moment before letting him go and pushing him towards the door. She threw him a new set of robs. "Get out of here and show your potion professor a little of that gratitude."
Harry widened his bright green eyes at her, "Are you instructing me to give Professor Snape hug when I next see him?"
Pomfrey laughed and Harry pretended not to see the tears at trailing down her cheeks. "If that's your scheme, you can wait for dinner so I can witness the chaos."
Harry blew her a kiss and jogged back to Gryffindor Tower.
"Harry?" Hermione called, "You're awake! You were in the hospital wing for two nights- what-" she got a good look at him. His taller frame, his fuller face. "What happened to you?"
Harry grinned, "Healing potions." He sprinted up the steps to his room, glorying in the strength of his body. He was back downstairs with his broom in hand.
"Harry? Wait, where are you-?" Ron called but Harry had already mounted his broom and escaped out a window.
Harry spent the rest of the afternoon in the air, falling in love with being alive and magic all over again.
Harry's progress in school skyrocketed. Where he had entered this school an average student he was finally showing his colors. Colors that proved that he had always meant to be Tom Riddle and Albus Dumbledore's equal magically.
Though not all of his progress could be contributed to Snape and Pomfrey's healing potions. No, this Harry as opposed to the Harry from a time before had family and friends to confide in. Friend circles that expanded beyond Ron and Hermione or even Gryffindor house. Harry wasn't so much popular as he was welcomed. He was happy and his skill as a wizard and his kindness as a person made him likable, made others want to be like him.
Or with him.
Cho Chang and a now single Ginny Weasley were vying for his affections, as were a number of other girls and a select handful of boys. But there was one thing people seemed not to understand. A more open, more confident Harry still wasn't an overly trusting person. In fact, his innate shyness was starting to come out the more people starting hounding him for attention. Harry was fine to lead when the time called for it or to be the professor in a classroom setting. But Harry did not enjoy the social spotlight like he had briefly in his sixth year before dating Ginny.
"How do I hide from your sister?" Harry asked the twins.
They sniggered in answer.
Fred said, "There is no hiding from Ginny, it is either you relent or let her run you over."
"In other words, you're not going to help," Harry said frustrated.
"Nope," they said in unison.
"I thought she had gotten over me?" Harry muttered.
"That would be before you became disearble number one," Hermione said from an armchair where she had been reading her book.
Harry flinched at the phrasing, folding in on himself. "I hate people," Harry muttered under his breath as he left the common room. He needed away.
Today was Halloween and the constant pestering of people was irritating. The Slytherins weren't so bad as they mostly took Harry's not so subtle hints about not wanting a following. The rest of the houses though…
Harry wondered the halls. It was a Thursday but everyone had the day off so the halls were mostly empty.
"Stay away from him!"
It was Ginny's voice and Harry slowed before turning around the next corner. Listening carefully.
"He's my friend," pleaded a familiar voice.
Harry wanted to go to her defense, but he knew as soon as someone saw him they would put on a false pleasant face to encourage his company, which typically did the opposite. Harry much preferred hanging out with Astoria who mocked anyone who found him attractive with gagging noises and disgusted looks. Or Susan, who had no problem tossing books and hexes at him when the opportunity presented itself. Or Luna who was simply herself.
"You little whore," another voice snarled, Harry wasn't as familiar with but he thought it might one of the seventh year Ravenclaw girls.
"That's a little harsh," Ginny scaled back, her own temper deflating as the other girl- or girls' hostility rose.
"But she is a little vixen isn't she?" That one Harry knew was another fourth year girl from Gryffindor, though he couldn't remember her name.
The older Ravenclaw girl spoke again, "We've all seen the way he looks at you? We've seen you go out into the woods with him. What do you do with him? Do you like being on your knees? Spreading yo-"
Harry whipped around the corner so fast that he didn't even know what spell was striking the girl between her shoulder blades.
She collapsed to the floor. Lucky for her it was just a stunner.
Harry was so furious he was seeing red. He was striding towards the group and it broke his heart to see Luna backed up to the wall, her face shining with tears.
Harry's wand gravitated the nameless Gryffindor girl upward by her robes and sent her careening into Ginny. They fell hard on the ground in a scramble of limbs.
Luna was shaking slightly, her wand forgotten held loosely at her side. Harry thought it likely that she hadn't quite been ready to raise her wand at Ginny, a girl Luna had grown up with as neighbors and who had been the closest thing she had to a friend before Harry came along.
Harry took Luna's other hand, it was clammy and rested passively in his hand. Her breathing was shallow, her pale eyes were too wide.
Harry looked toward Ginny with a level of revulsion and outrage he thought he had reserved only for Wormtail.
Ginny looked up at him, distraught, her face a mask of shame. She opened her mouth but Harry beat her to it.
She gaped at him.
Harry wasn't a child anymore, not a young teen who didn't understand the long term effects that squabbles in school could lead to in life. One had to look no further than Snape for such an example. It didn't matter to Harry that Ginny was Ron's sister who had made a childish mistake acting out on her anger and confused feelings. It didn't matter that Harry had loved her once, he loved her no longer. He wanted nothing more to do with her. He didn't always have to be the bigger person. He didn't have to be friends with everyone.
If it was a choice between everyone and the handful of people he cherished, Harry was going to be the selfish bloke who swore at teenage girls for being mean and pathetic.
Harry gently tugged on Luna's hand, she stumbled forward. Harry let go of her hand and put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her into his side as he led her away from the speechless Gryffindor girls and the stunned seventh year sprawled in the hallway.
Luna didn't say anything as they walked, but a steady flow of tears trailed silently down her face.
Harry led them to the kitchen. He hushed the well-meaning elves but politely asked for tea and some sweets.
Harry sat beside Luna on a small bench. Her eyes stared blankly out into space.
"Luna?" Harry asked softly. He didn't make the mistake of asking her if she was okay. She so clearly wasn't.
"Why didn't I fight back?" She asked blankly. Her eyes suddenly focusing on him, had darkened to a stormy grey. It was oddly beautiful and either not entirely human or uniquely Luna for her eyes to have such a range of shades and hues. "I had my wand, why didn't I fight back?" she asked and if Harry hadn't been looking into her face he would have described her question as disinterestedly academic.
"They weren't, at least at first going to hurt you physically and Ginny was your friend," Harry explained carefully.
"Ginny is not my friend," Luna said very sharply.
Harry nodded, "I know that."
"So why?" she asked again, "Why didn't I fight back? Why didn't I defend myself?"
It was a question he had asked of himself but he had an easier answer for Luna. He cupped one of her slick cheeks in his hand, the contrast between their skin tones was notable. "I've seen you battle Death Eaters and hold up to torture and be brave and true and unabashedly you through it all. You are quite capable of knocking together the heads of a few bullies but you shouldn't have had to. And you shouldn't be ashamed that in face of your classmates that your first instinct wasn't to hurt them."
She took Harry's hand in both of hers, pulling his touch away from her face. "They were wrong about the things they said I did with you but I don't care what people say or think. I will not stay away from you," she declared, raising her chin in defiance, daring him to argue with her.
Harry looked at her for a moment in awe before he smiled brilliantly at her, "Good, I think I would be lost without you."
Her face crumbled and she fell into Harry's arms crying, sobbing, only it was all done silently but for the small gasps of air. Harry held her, rubbing her back in soothing circles. He knew from experience that the only reason someone cried like this -when they let the grief take over their entire body but stopped short of voicing the pain, was because there were people in their lives not meant to hear, not meant to see, or know that they grieved.
Harry held her and took strength from being the one to give comfort, what little he could give.
AN: I made myself cry. Please review?
Chapter 17: Rainy Day People
WARNING!: For anyone dealing with mental disorders/diseases, I am not trying to portray anything classible except for a bit of anxiety. This is all pure fiction and I don't want to make anyone feel bad for stigmas rooted in our societies or misrepresent any of the very real struggles endured. My Luna is not meant to have anything more than her own existence.
KEYNOTE: Luna is a character who is smart, observant, and though she is not mental she does have odd coping mechanisms and is hypersensitive to magic with a vivid imagination. You will see the two intermingling but it isn't a form of insanity. I am an artist and I will base Luna on the part of my own experiences in life.
AN: To Pickles who wanted a chapter in Luna's POV. Y'all might regret this view because my style of writing is written by the characters. I have only a vaguest of ideas of what happens until it comes out on paper/screen. I will be as much surprised by the happenings of this chapter as you will be.
P.S. I am eating a frozen green apple, it has an odd texture. And this is the last of the chapters of the week.
Chapter 17 - Rainy Day People
Luna knocked on Professor Flitwick's office door.
"Come in!" called his cheery voice.
Luna liked Professor Flitwick, liked him more that Harry trusted him.
Flitwick looked up at her surprised, "Miss Lovegood? A pleasant surprise, what can I do for you?"
It was Friday and classes had resumed as normal. Right now, everyone else was at lunch.
"I need to talk with you, Professor."
A more serious expression stole of the kind man's face.
"Come sit, would you like some tea, my dear girl?"
She nodded. Outwardly her hands were steady, inwardly she- she doubted this was the right thing to do, but Harry had urged her to go to Flitwick. He was seeking out Minerva at the moment. One way or another, Flitwick would know what had happened.
Luna took her tea, adding four sugar cubes and a dab of milk.
Flitwick watched her, with worry but also with a measure of patience that was settling her nerves. He was quiet but not rudely so. He stirred his own tea. Taking a few sips every now and then. Enjoying the tea and her company.
She realized as she sipped her own tea that she didn't have to tell him, he wouldn't force her. They could spend the entire period before his next class drinking tea and he would never bring it up again.
He was kind.
It touched her, invited her to speak.
"Yesterday Calli Hinterland, Gena Daner, and Ginny Weasley cornered me in the hall," she said, keeping her focus a bit unfocused so she could see both his face and his chest -where all movement begins.
His breath hitched, unhappy, worried, but his tone remained calm, "What happened?"
She shook her head but didn't dare take her eyes off him, not even to blink, it was important she know how he would react, important that he deserved Harry's trust. "Nothing Harry saved me."
Flitwick took in a controlled breath and exhaled softly before answering, "What did Harry save you from?"
"They told me to stay away from Harry. Daner called me a whore and Calli, Calli asked if I was going into the woods with Harry to- to-"
She didn't mean for her shoulders shake, she didn't even know why it had affected her so. She liked Harry, really liked Harry but she didn't want him like that, not exactly. She didn't want-
"Ms. Lovegood," Flitwick called softly.
Luna blinked too fast, she was being foolish, "I don't know why I care, they were just words."
"Menacing a classmate and harassing their character while inferring things about our dear ones is not a matter of simple words. Remember that wars may be fought with weapons but they start and end by the power of words exchanged between people."
She took a drink of her tea, the warmth and the sugar soothing her insides. She imagined white sparkles rising from her teacup, the little dancing lights easing the tension between her brows.
Flitwick gave her the time she needed and didn't ask his next question until she was giving him eye contact again. "What did Harry do?"
Harry, not Mr. Potter, Flitwick felt something for him, though she wasn't sure if he was ready to be upset with or concerned for Harry.
"He stunned Calli, levitated Daner and threw her at Ginny. And he swore at Ginny."
Flitwick covered up his smirk quickly but Luna had seen it. He was on Harry's side, her side. "How would you like to handle them, Ms. Lovegood?"
She raised one fair eyebrow, "You would do what I would suggest?"
"No, but I would hear what you think and feel of the matter and I will take that into consideration."
"I don't want you to do anything," Luna said truthfully.
"No?" It was Flitwick's turn to raise a brow, only his eyebrow was white and bushy with bits of grey.
"I just came because Harry said I should and that he was going to tell Professor McGonagall."
"Really?" he asked, tone light.
Luna glared at him, "You don't believe me."
"Oh, I believe you, my dear," he said easily but said nothing more.
Luna put down her empty cup on the desk between them. She rocked back in her chair a bit and as the silence continued she began to fidget. It would be rude to dismiss herself but Flitwick wasn't saying anything, just waiting.
She sat on her hands.
Ten minutes past and still Flitwick said nothing.
Luna's thoughts had descended into a turmoil of excuses to be able to leave politely and the shadows she saw in the corner of her eye. They weren't moving but she was ready for them to.
"Luna, is there anything else that has happened you would like to discuss?"
Her focus spun back to him, her thoughts stalling before whirling into seven separate thoughts. "About what?" she asked evenly.
"Is anyone else from our house causing you trouble?"
Luna did not say a word.
Flitwick sighed, "I'll take that as a yes."
She still didn't say anything.
Flitwick changed tack, "You've been spending a lot of time with Mr. Potter?"
Luna wasn't sure where this was going but nodded.
"He's kind to you?"
Her eyes narrowed, "Of course, he is my friend."
"Harry's friends aren't always nice to him."
"I don't understand that," she said shortly.
"He's mature for his age and he changed a lot over the summer."
She had no idea what he wanted from her.
"Does Harry ever make you feel uncomfortable?"
"Never," Luna said automatically, though it was not the complete truth. The truth was that she was so comfortable with Harry it was uncomfortable because she didn't know if he felt the same. They had spent all night playing chess in the kitchens. Harry had held her while she cried, but despite wanting more from him she wasn't sure he wanted more from her.
"You don't find his secrets burdensome?" Flitwick asked.
She tilted her head, realizing for the first time that this professor might know more about Harry, at least more about Harry's life than she did.
Harry knew things but that had just become a part of who he was to her. A person who bent shadows and light because he had been bent by them.
But Professor Flitwick might have a more mundane explanation for Harry.
"Harry could never be a burden, we walk together," Luna explained.
Flitwick's blue eyes seemed to search hers, his lips narrowing, "You care for Harry."
"I do not presume to know much about your relationship with him outside friendship but if Harry ever makes you feel presur-"
"Harry would never-" Luna protested but Flitwick silenced her with a raised hand.
"My dear, I merely want to remind you that your mind and body are your own. Only you get to decide if, who, or when someone crosses your boundaries. Harry is a good man but I am your Head of House. If there is ever trouble, if you ever need someone to listen, I will be here for you, no matter what," Flitwick said solemnly.
"You're saying even though Harry is one of your favorite students that you will still hear me even if our stories one day for a reason that will never happen are different and I might come to you?"
"What else have students been doing to you?" Flitwick asked directly this time.
"You don't think the hallway was enough?"
"I have been a teacher for many years and I know that many little things can be more painful than the great big ones."
"Cho Chang has been spelling my bathroom and there are a lot of whispers."
"I shall speak with Ms. Chang as for the whispers… I realize their words may hurt. I just hope you don't let them define you."
"I am defined, what they see with their eyes isn't much. Truly blind people often see more."
Flitwick nodded, "Thank you for coming to me, Ms. Lovegood. I hope you will tell me if things develop further in the future."
Luna stood, bowed her head and left.
She felt surprisingly better, she had never gone to a teacher for help for herself before. Father said people so rarely listen close or long enough to understand.
She touched the stones as she walked, imagining the essence of each stone reaching to touch her hand in return.
She closed her eyes, smelling the damp air. It was raining, would rain all day, the sky gods crying, never able to rest on earth, always above, always out of reach. Only their grief and rage and the pondering of a breeze could connect those above with those below.
Luna loved the rain, the way the air felt real enough to hug her. She held out her arms and spun. She smiled, life was a good thing.
Her next class was Transfiguration she shared with Ginny. Her shoulders hunched and she wouldn't so much as look in Luna's direction. Gena had looked at Luna once, with a look of fear and loathing.
Luna imagined grey and red energies tugging on their hair, prodding at their spines.
Luna hoped they didn't prod too hard, she didn't want either girl more angry at her.
McGonagall, who gave her kind eyes turned on the two girls with a fury. She dropped the box she had been caring that held the stones they would be using for their spells. McGonagall leaned her tall body forward, like a crane moving slowly, ready to strike at the fish swimming around her legs.
"I will be writing home to both your parents. You do not have detention, but so help me if I hear anything of the nature of yesterday's incident again, missing house points will be the least of your worries," she whispered, loud enough that only a few people overheard.
By the end of class Luna's white and blue teapot was illustrated with pretty cranes catching hapless fish.
Luna had her last block off and went searching for Harry. She followed the bend in the world where the light coming in from the windows was brighter, the shadows more submissive.
She found him in an empty hallway past the entrance to the Divination tower. There were no paintings or portraits down this hall and it was a dead end. There only a supply closest that Filch was known to use when he was cleaning this side of the building.
The window here overlooked the lake and the mountain range, one could also see other parts of the castle. Harry was sitting on the wide sill staring at the visible parts of the castle, his breathing was tight as if it were a prisoner in his chest, reluctant to escape for fear that reality was worse than the container it occupied. One of his legs was pulled to his middle, his arms wrapped around it, his chin resting on his knee.
"Hi Luna," Harry greeted, though he continued staring at the castle.
Luna sat on the sill. Her legs swinging a bit, the floor was a few inches away from her toes.
"I spoke with Flitwick," she said.
Harry's gaze broke away from a memory she could not imagine. His emerald eyes focusing on her looking like polished jewels. "I spoke with McGonagall."
"She was nice to me in class."
"She said she wouldn't punish them because then she would have to punish me for dueling in the halls and throwing people into other people."
"She said she wrote their parents notes though," Luna said thinking that would be perhaps the worst punishment.
Harry's eyes danced with light, "She wrote Sirius a note too." He found the idea funny.
"I would like to meet him."
Harry smiled then, genuine pleasure, "I would like that too."
She swayed side to side for a moment. "I know it's a bit early, but my father invited you and your godfather to our house for Yule."
"You know Sirius is still on the run right. He's innocent, but he could still cause you trouble."
"Father painted a picture of four blobs, one orange, one lavender, one green, and one grey-blue running away from black shadows. He knows the minister is after you and the risks."
Harry grinned, "You're lavender, Xeno is orange, I'm green because you told him my eye color and because he hasn't met me yet, and that leaves grey-blue as Sirius."
She smiled back, glad he understood. Some paintings were just paintings, emotions in hues and shades, but others were messages that outsiders would not bother to decode. "Most people in the Black line have either grey-blue eyes or brown. But I think Father went to school with Sirius. He was a few years ahead."
"Cool," Harry said with a grin. Luna liked that Harry seemed to like her father. Not a lot people did. But then not a lot of people liked her either.
"So will you?" she asked.
"I'll have to ask Sirius, but I would love to. I think the Weasleys wanted me to come to their home but I don't want to, not after yesterday."
"Are you in trouble with them because you hurt Ginny?"
Harry shrugged, "Maybe, it doesn't look like Ginny told any of her brothers what happened and I don't know how McGonagall worded her letter to Mrs. Weasley. I don't really care though. Ginny was wrong to do what she did."
"Even if you lose Ron as a friend?"
"That happens every other season."
"Gred and Forge."
Harry's smile faded a bit, but he said, "Luna, you mean more to me than their opinion of me."
Her heart raced and unlike the first time Harry had said that they were friends, forever and always, she knew why her heart was galloping. She wondered if his was.
"You mean more to me too," she said, angling herself towards him, like lily leaves towards the sun.
His face seemed to brighten a bit with color, but he didn't move his chin off his knee, he didn't move away from her.
He tilted his head a bit, "Luna."
She moved her face closer to his, this close there was no glare on his glasses, and she could see more than just the pretty color of his eyes. He was so beautiful to her. The more she got to know him the more beautiful he became.
Her heart was in her throat as she leaned closer to him still. He didn't move away. Both their breaths were shallow, quiet, the only sound was the roaring of blood in her ears and the delightful pat, pat of raindrops on the windows.
Luna closed her eyes, crossing that small distance, her lips found his.
Harry's lips were soft and he tasted sweet.
She was the one to pull away first. She searched his face desperate for reassurance that she had not messed up. She was kneeling and looking down into his stunned face.
He looked at her like she was the most marvellest, most beautiful person he had ever seen. She had never felt lovely in her life until she had seen that expression on this man's face.
Her hurt burst, her being filling with liquid joy. Harry rose up, dropping his leg and reaching out to her. She met him halfway and the second kiss was better. The sensation of his lips parting under hers stole away her thoughts, every inch of her skin tingling. She was lost in him. His arms encircled her and she felt safe, unequivocally safe.
They parted to catch their breaths.
Harry cupped her face between his palms, pausing to run a hand down her soft curls. On Harry's face was a look of what could only be called adoration as he began, "Luna, I-"
She ducked out of his grasp. Standing, her heart pummeling, her feet feeling as if they had no attachment to the ground whatsoever, she said, "Harry, I like you. I like you a lot."
And then she turned from him, sprinting down the halls at full speed, not to get away but because she wasn't sure she could handle any more happiness without combusting into flame.
Harry watched her go with an amused smile, knowing better than to chase after her. She wasn't running away from him after all.
He leaned back, stretching his legs out in front of him. His pulse was still hammering.
Harry, I like you. I like you a lot. Her words played over and over again his mind, the touch of her lips still warm on his smile.
He pressed his forehead to the cool window pane. "Luna," Harry whispered, his heart giving him a sharp squeeze to let him know that this was real. "I really, really like you."
Harry had never loved the rain as much as he did this day.
AN: Please share your thoughts and reactions with me?
Rainy Day People by Gordon Lightfoot. I pick my titles after I finish a chapter. (If you look it up on youtube second video has better sound quality)
Chapter 18: Lost Boys
AN: Turns out writing Luna is absurdly easy for me, as in I think she is my natural go to character, at least my version of her. I knew that Luna and my muse would get along, I didn't expect them to be basically the creature.
P.S. I know Sirius and Tonks are second cousins or whatever but neice is easier, it is what I call some of my little cousins.
Disclaimer: Quote from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows near the end.
BETA: Much love and many thanks to the wonderful Queen of Thornes
Chapter 18 - Lost Boys
Hedwig visited Luna at dinner with a note from Harry apologizing for not being at dinner. He didn't give a reason, but Luna didn't need one. He would tell her why later or he wouldn't. She was simply glad he thought to tell her.
Hedwig stayed on Luna's shoulder watching the students around them in every direction. Nobody screwed with Harry's owl, for a number of reasons; first, the Snowy Owl was uniquely beautiful, second, Harry was known to be good in a duel and would likely kill anyone who tried to hurt his familiar, and third, everyone had seen Hedwig nip Harry and the reproachful looks she gave everyone around her was a clear indication she might do worse to someone she didn't call master.
No one really wanted to lose a finger.
Luna ate contently, appearing to all as the living embodiment of the wisdom Goddess Athena with her owl.
"Sirius!" Harry called, walking into the kitchen after thanking Kreacher for bringing him.
"Harry!" Sirius cheered, coming at Harry from the corner of the room where he'd been crouched looking at some odd cracks in the wallpaper.
Sirius wrapped him in a tight bear hug, "How are you?"
Harry grinned, "Good, great, wondrous, and apprehensive. You?"
Sirius chuckled, waving him over to the table as he went to the stove. "Better now that you're here. Are you staying for the night or just for dinner?"
"Diner," Harry sighed, "I have Occlumency with Snape tonight."
Sirius made a pained face. "I wish I knew the wards my Mother put on my mind to give to you. Unfortunately, that knowledge is passed down only through the females in our family."
Harry sighed again. "I don't suppose Narcissa Malfoy would help me?"
Sirius shook his head, "Andromeda might but I haven-" He sighed, "I haven't reached out to her."
"How about Tonks?"
Sirius smiled sadly. "Andromeda was all for kicking tradition but it isn't something the Black mothers would teach until and unless their daughters had daughters."
"How do you even know about it then?"
"My mother dearest kept cursing at me that she regretted she couldn't remove my mental shields without killing me."
Harry's eyes widened. "Oh." He pinched his nose, "Your mum sounds even worse than Uncle Vernon."
"She was definitely a charmer."
"She has a boy by the way," Harry said, accepting the grilled cheese Sirius had whipped up.
Sirius frowned. "Who?"
"Tonks. They name him after her dad. My Godson's name, therefore, was Teddy Remus Lupin. I never got to meet him."
Sirius almost dropped his plate. "Wait, back up, you're telling me, my niece, my niece who is thirteen years younger than me, has a baby with Remus?"
"Yep. I think they get engaged in two years. Before the baby."
Sirius sank into his chair. "No kidding," he said a bit dazedly.
"Don't approve?" Harry asked.
"No, I mean, it's fine, the age difference is pushing it a bit, after all, Remus couldn't be described as a young thirty by any stretch of the imagination but it's more- it's just I never saw Moony being in a committed relationship. He doesn't have enough self-worth."
Harry snorted. "He tried running away from her after he knocked her up. I may have lost my temper with him. Next time I saw him he asked me to be Teddy's Godfather all aglow with being a father."
Sirius's face fell, "Didn't you say-"
"Tonks and Remus died at the battle at Hogwarts. So did I, so I get zero godfather points."
"I passed you off to half giant and got myself arrested."
"Yeah, but you're here now," Harry shot back.
"So are you."
Harry looked away and took another bite of his grilled cheese sandwich.
"So, are you going to tell Snape?" Sirius asked between bites of his own sandwich.
"Nope, I am going to shove useless memories in his face until I figure out how to get him out of my mind."
"And if that doesn't work?"
"Then he finds out."
"I hate to say this, Harry, but I think we can trust Snape."
Harry made a face. "Why? And don't you dare say because Dumbledore trusts him. I would rather tell McGonagall or Pomfrey before Snape."
"I think by now, Snape mistrusts Albus enough and is building a tolerance for you that he might be willing to keep your secrets, even from the Headmaster."
Harry thought of what he had done to Snape Monday morning and highly doubted that Snape had any tolerance for him at the moment. "I suppose I don't really have a choice in the end."
Sirius stood and went back to the stove to make Harry another sandwich. "It will work out. We know at least that Snape isn't on the Dark Lord's side. And it gives me an excuse to pick a fight with the greasy bat if he does try to go blabbing to Albus."
Harry had nothing to say to that and took a deep swig of water.
Returning to the table with two more sandwiches, Sirius asked "Enough about Snape, why were you glowing when you came in?"
"I wasn't glowing," Harry protested.
"You were skipping and had a stupid grin on your face, is that better?"
"I was not skipping."
"Harry," Sirius whined.
"I kissed a girl. Or rather she kissed me and then I kissed her back."
"Ohh- two kisses!" Sirius said, ecstatic, "Was it the Lovegood girl you mention so often in your letters?"
Harry flushed. "Luna."
Sirius barked with delight. "You are head over heels for her, aren't you? Was she a good snog?"
Harry shook his head. "The kiss- kisses- I've never felt like this before. I'm not really sure if I'm in love with her yet, but she's… she's amazing."
Sirius grinned, "Not in love with her yet, oh Harry, you're a goner."
"I think I'm okay with that."
"When did this happen?"
"'Bout two hours ago."
"So why aren't you with her now?"
Harry looked away. "I'm not really sure if I'm doing the right thing with her."
"How do you mean?"
"The time travel-"
"I thought you have been sharing a ton with her. It is only a matter of time before she figures it out. You trust her, right?"
"More than I trust anyone but you. But that's not what I meant."
"Then what do you mean?"
"Sirius, I am four years older than her. Which isn't a big deal if we were both older but she's only fourteen and I'm technically a legal adult."
Sirius's lips twitched, his shoulders started to shake, and a few moments later he was rolling on the ground with laughter. Barking up a storm.
Harry glared at him. "This isn't funny."
Sirius snorted and laughed on. Between gasps he was finally able to speak in words, "She's-" he sniggers, "-a witch."
"I know she's a witch!" Harry said indignantly. "We go to Hogwarts together!"
Sirius rolled onto his back looking up at Harry still in his chair. Sirius's long curls were spread around him like a dark halo on the wood floors. "She's a witch from an old wizarding family," he said, now coherent. "Harry, witches have gotten engaged before their tenth birthdays. Hell, Harry, my parents were second cousins. They were both Blacks before getting married, their grandparents were siblings. A four-year age gap is nothing, and Harry you may be mentally older but you're still in the body of a fifteen-year-old. Your body is less than a year older than hers. You have nothing to feel weird about."
Sirius sat and looked at Harry seriously. "No, you listen to me. I know Xeno from school, he was older than me, so I never shared the same circles as him, but I knew Pandora better. Kind people. Brilliant in their own ways, but neither had a lot of friends. Which I never really understood with Pandora; Pan could enter a room and the air would be sweeter, the lights brighter. I think she intimidated people."
"Why weren't you friends then?"
"She thought I was a git," Sirius said with a grin, unabashed in his troublemaker ways.
"Why would she ever think that?" Harry asked sarcastically, but he was grinning too.
"From your letters and from what you've told me about her, I can tell that Pan's daughter is much of the same and from your letters, I also know that you don't have a friend who makes you happier or someone whose company you enjoy more than Miss Luna Lovegood."
Harry ducked his head, "Yeah."
"So as someone who loves you, I am telling you not to screw this up because of some fabricated problem that doesn't exist. You are not too old in body or mind for this young woman."
"How can you be so sure?" Harry asked, "you've never met her."
"Harry," Sirius sighed. "Someone who watches their mother die at an early age is unlikely to lack maturity."
Harry stared at his empty plate, properly chided, he should have thought of that. Wasn't that why she had been crying last night? Not because some jerks had been picking on her but because she didn't feel like anyone understood her? Because she kept more pain bottled up inside than would ever show on the surface?
"It's okay, Harry… it's okay to let yourself be happy."
Harry looked up at his godfather. "I just don't want to hurt her. I don't know what promises I am ready to make her yet. But it would kill something in me to cause her harm."
Sirius nodded. "Opening our hearts is always a risk, Harry. But don't shut down because things might break down. Ask instead; of all the people you know, who would you want to make mistakes with? Who do you want to grow up with? Who do you want, whether it works in the end or not, to shape you? Romance isn't a game of chance, it's a series of choices and circumstances we invite into our lives."
Harry's shoulders slumped, a small smile blooming on his face. "There is no one I would rather be with than Luna and I want her in my life."
"Then let what happens, happen," Sirius said smiling back.
"I didn't expect you to be this good at girl advice," Harry remarked.
Sirius's eyes turned sad, but his smile remained. "Oh, my personal advice, based on my experiences will have to wait until the conversations where you aren't worried about the girl's- er well, we will get to it in a few years. The heart and flowers advice comes from your Dad. James gave me a long, long talk about the proper way to court a lady once."
"About someone specific?" Harry inquired.
A shadow crossed Sirius's face. "She was murdered a year after we graduated."
"Sirius, I'm sorry-"
Sirius waved Harry's words away. "It's done with. Just don't make my mistake and never talk about your feelings. I know your Luna seems to get you on an instinctual level but she's still a girl and girls like giving emotions voice. I'm not saying you have to write her poetry or any nonsense like that, but if you have worries or fears or tiny, happy, seemingly irrelevant thoughts… sharing those things make them more comfortable, more secure in a relationship. Otherwise, they start guessing and thinking every tiny action you do to death."
"Seriously?" Harry exclaimed, "where were you when I first tried dating?"
Sirius laughed. "This wasn't explained to me by your parents until a girl sent me home smelling like a wasted cherry margarita. Lily would always give these lengthy explanations that I would drift off in and James would translate it later. James was the love guru in the group, though Lil's would always point out that it took him seven years to have a simple conversation with her, to which Prongs would inevitably end up saying, 'Yes, but now you are carrying my spawn, so I win.' Your mother gave him quite a few hex burns while she was pregnant, it's a wonder James survived to see you born at all."
Sirius's eyes drifted off to the past and Harry replayed every word over in his mind like new found treasures. The trick with Sirius was not to ask direct questions too often as he would get sad and melancholy. But sometimes an unprompted Sirius would share anecdotes that turned the fairy-tale figures of his parents into being once living people.
Not really wanting to change the topic but glancing at his watch, Harry knew he would have to leave soon.
"Xeno invited us to their house for Yule."
Sirius's focus sharpened, and his lips tightened. "I'm not sure that is a good idea, Harry."
Harry tried not to let his disappointment show. "That's alright, I'm sure they will understand if we don't go."
Sirius sighed, "It isn't that I wouldn't like to. But the papers will not shut up with the speculation of your one-week disappearance. If you go to your girlfriend's house for Yule, I would not be surprised at all if the Ministry paid the Lovegood's a visit. I don't want to put anyone in those circumstances."
Is Luna my girlfriend? I will have to ask her.
Harry nodded. "That's what I told Luna."
"Tell you what though, I'll reach out to old Xenophilius and see if we can't arrange something. Unfortunately, Dumbledore is secret keeper or else I would simply invite them here."
"I understand." He looked at his watch again, "I have to get going or I am going to be late."
Sirius stood as Harry did, giving Harry another bear hug. "Thanks for sharing dinner with me, kiddo."
Harry gave him a half smile. "I will be here so often, you may get sick of me."
"Never," Sirius said, his tone lacking the humor Harry's comment had invited.
Since returning to the past, Harry had been practicing clearing his mind before going to sleep and controlling his emotions, but as Harry descended the steps to the dungeons alone, the old resentments and fears rose.
He knocked on the door and Snape's come in was sharp.
He's still mad about Monday, Harry thought and had to bite his cheek to keep from entering Snape's lair with a grin.
Snape jabbed a finger at the chair. "I warn you, Potter, I don't care how painful the memories get this time. You will stay until we have made some progress."
Harry kept his mouth shut but all he could think was, but you don't know how bad, bad can get.
"Prepare yourself," Snape instructed with the same amount of careful, detailed instruction he had in the last timeline.
Harry gripped the edge of the chair until his knuckles were modeled white and he was thinking of Monday when Snape's mind delved into his.
It was Monday morning. Harry was feeling better than he had ever felt before in his life, at least physically, and he smiled as he entered the Great Hall and saw Madame Pomfrey already seated at the table, watching him closely.
He remembered his promise to her and as luck would so have, Snape had entered the Great Hall not far ahead of him.
"Sir!" Harry called.
Snape turned with a scowl that morphed into outraged shock as Harry wrapped his arms around the taller man with absolutely no regards to self-preservation.
Snape hesitated for mere moments before shoving Harry off him.
"Thank you for healing me, Professor," Harry said sweetly.
Snape snarled at him.
Harry laughed, backing up a step before turning to Madame Pomfrey and blowing her a kiss. The Mediwitch had folded in on herself, a slave to her own laughter.
Snape stormed to the head table.
There were two reactions to Harry hugging Snape. The students looked at him like he was a mental suicide case and the other Professors, at least Flitwick, Minerva, and Pomona immediately started ribbing Snape about growing a heart and inspiring adoration in his students.
The look Snape gave Harry promised slow and painful retribution.
The next memory Harry found turned out to be more problematic, as he was unable to push Snape out of his mind. In fact, the professor seemed to have renewed his efforts to break through Harry's meager defenses.
Harry was soaring the skies on Buckbeak.
But that memory reminded him of soaring on Thestrals.
They were in the Department of Mysteries and Sirius was punching Lucius Malfoy and then Bellatrix was after them.
Harry could feel Snape's shock, his confusion, his curiosity.
Harry was soaring on the back of the bank dragon with Ron and Hermione.
Snape pushed further, looking for the why and the how.
Harry was using the Imperius curse on a Goblin. Hermione was disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange. Hermione was screaming, her tortured screams and Bellatrix's shrieking filtering down into the Malfoy dungeons.
Lucius was a crumpled mass at the Dark Lord's feet as Snape and other watched either stone faced or eager.
Draco was bleeding, the product of Harry not understanding the spells he'd found in Snape's old potions book.
Draco was telling Snape to go screw himself. Snape hissing "I made the unbreakable vow to keep you safe."
Slughorn was giving Harry Liquid Luck.
They were back at the Department of Mysteries.
Sirius falling into the veil.
The DA Club.
Dumbledore escaping in a flash of Phoenix flame.
The Death Eaters breaking out of prison.
In Snape's shock, in his horror, he had released the spell.
"What was that?"
"What was what?" Harry gasped. He was sweating. He would have to tell Snape now.
But Snape didn't wait for an explanation, he raised his wand again and took what Harry might have shared willingly. But this mental torment filled Harry with an old, deep, seething rage.
Fine, Harry thought at the Professor, you want to know? Well, here it is.
And rather than pushing Snape out, Harry yanked him in, slamming the door shut behind him. The memories went forward this time.
Dumbledore was falling, dead before he hit the ground.
Snape was fighting off Minerva, whose face was raw with broken fury and sorrow.
Nagini was killing Snape.
Snape was dying in Harry's arms and sharing with him his memories.
Harry fed those memories back to his professor now, hoping it caused the man pain.
He was holding Lily's body, crying as Harry wailed in the crib beside him
Snape was in Dumbledore's office.
'"I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter —"
"But this is touching, Severus," said Dumbledore seriously. "Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?"
"For him?" shouted Snape. "Expecto Patronum!"
From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
"After all this time?"
"Always," said Snape."'
And then Harry showed Snape the dead. The ruin of the castle.
You want to know? Harry hissed in his mind, Look, how we failed. Look, what our choices led us to.
Body after body. Children's bodies. Unidentifiable figures beneath the stones.
And then on Dumbledore's orders, Harry was walking to his own demise. The shades of his loved ones, of Lily leading him forward.
"Easier than falling asleep."
Harry did not fight. He let the Dark Lord kill him. The lamb at the altar.
Harry tossed Snape out of his mind. Shoved him out with such force that Snape was physically thrown back.
Harry wasn't the only one shaking this time. Snape looked positively ill.
Harry watched him try to stand before he fell back to his hands and knees. Snape retched on the dungeon floors.
Dumbledore's spy, Voldemort's pet Master Potioneer and double agent, could not stomach the future Harry had lived through.
Harry's rage faded. He hated this man for how he had always treated him, even if Snape had kept him alive, Harry did not by any stretch of the imagination like this man. But Harry did respect him, and seeing him like this, knowing that it had to be a combination of Dumbledore's betrayal, seeing Lily, and the death of countless Hogwarts students that made him lose his composure.
Harry pulled his wand and vanished the sick from the floor, even as Snape stayed on his hands and knees dry heaving.
Harry got the man a glass of water and found a bit of fresh ginger that, after shaving with a clean knife, he was able to squeeze some juice into the water. Harry balanced on the balls of his feet and held out the glass.
"Drink this," Harry instructed his tone not all that sympathetic.
Snape panted, his eyes looking up at Harry. He looked lost.
Slowly he sat back on the floor, reaching out a shaking hand to take the ginger water from Harry's own shaking grasp.
After a long swallow, Snape asked, "How?"
"How did I time travel?" Harry repeated, "no damned clue. But then Vold- the Dark Lord-" Harry corrected himself, "should have been able to kill me as a baby."
"How do you cope?" Snape clarified.
Harry huffed a laugh and sat on the newly cleaned floor. "Being able to go back and correct my mistakes helped a lot. Cedric's alive. So is my godfather. I would be- I don't know if I could even pretend to forgive myself if he wasn't alive."
Snape stared at him with a fathomless expression. "Why does Albus want you dead?"
"Ever hear of a horcrux?"
Almost impossibly, Snape's face went paler. His skin taking on grey undertones.
"Yeah, well the Dark Lord made seven of them. That's why we were breaking into Gringotts by the way."
"But what does a horcrux have to do with you dying?"
Harry tapped his scar, that was a faint white line in this reality. "I was one of the horcruxes. That's how he got access to my mind in the first place. Occlumency didn't help much though, you are a shitty teacher."
Snape didn't even pretend to care.
"So Albus reasoned that by the words of the prophecy, you would both have to die if one was to be defeated?"
"Yep," Harry said, taking his sleeve to wipe at his forehead.
Snape shut his eyes, an expression of pain crossing his features. "That ignorant old fool. There is more than one way to respond to the dark arts. One solution does not solve all."
"That's what Sirius said."
"So, we have to find a way to-"
"It's gone," Harry said shortly. "It didn't survive the trip through time. And the first thing I did when I came back was kill the other ones with the help of house-elves. I confided it all to Flitwick so don't waste your breath saying I shouldn't rely on just my own judgment. For very obvious reasons though I haven't gone to Dumbledore. Oh, and I killed Nagini."
Snape was quiet for a long time before he said, "You can go, Potter."
Harry stood, relieved. "Are you going to tell-"
"No." Snape's voice was harsh, "No, I'm never going to tell that bastard anything ever again. I did what I did for Lily, for you, Lily's son, not for the elaborate schemes of men too large to see the lives they destroy."
Harry retreated, not knowing how to feel, but knowing he wasn't the person to hold Severus Snape's hand as the man's world and his illusions shattered around him.
AN: So much for no angst but Snape is still living in the shadow of his teenage grudges. And so much for no more chapters this week… I write for my own reasons but please share your thoughts and reactions with me? They are the only reason I post.
Chapter 19: Resounding Defeat
AN: Thank you for the reviews! You are all so wonderful and are what gives me the motivation to write as much as I do.
Beta: The Queen of Thornes is a beautiful wonderful person. Many thanks!
Chapter 19 - Resounding Defeat
Dear Darling Damsel Daffodil Diary,
I kissed Harry. Harry kissed me.
Harry did not wake until noon. He woke with a headache and stumbled half blind to the shower. He let the hot water pour on his shoulders for a long while before turning the spray to ice cold. His headache eased but he still felt empty, distant.
Hopefully, he would make it down to the Great Hall in time to perhaps get some food. He saw Luna drinking a cup of tea, angling herself in her seat so she could see the entrance to the Great Hall, so she could see him come in.
The sight of her smiling at him chased away the phantom pain in his mind. He was drawn to her like a small planet pulled by the sun.
But before Harry could make more than halfway to the Ravenclaw table, he was intercepted by Cho.
Harry was forced to stop less he run her over. He barely glanced at her as he tried to walk around her. But she persisted, sidestepping into his path.
Harry halted and half glared at her, "Do you mind?"
"You are trying to sit at my table," she said, a dark look in her brown eyes.
Harry's eyebrows shot up, "You haven't said anything about it before and besides there is no rule that states I can't sit at another house's table." He glanced over Cho's shoulders to give Luna a questioning look.
Luna's expression had gone passive, which worried Harry. And he made to get around Cho once more. Once more she stepped in his way.
"What is your issue?" Harry asked, starting to get frustrated.
"Ask me out" Cho demanded.
"Excuse me?" Harry asked, not sure if he had heard her right.
"You like me," she told him.
Harry laughed, "No, I really don't." He backed away from her, not liking her proximity.
Cho flushed but she bulled through his words. "Of course you do. You asked me out to the Yule Ball and I know you have had a crush on me for years. I am beautiful, you are the strongest boy in school. We belong together."
So much for Cho Chang being coy, but then their first date all Cho had done was be jealous of Hermione, talk about her dead boyfriend, and cry. She was as tactless as Ron but with the emotions of Moaning Myrtle. Sure, Harry could cut her slack for losing Cedric, but in this reality, Cedric was alive, and Cho had dumped him.
"I am only going to say this once," Harry said, "I don't like you. I don't want to date you and if you don't leave me alone-"
"You'll what?" She snapped, hands on hips, "You're a gentleman. You would never hurt me."
Harry had no idea how this had escalated to threats. Who threatens someone to date them anyway?
He was saved from answering though because Luna had appeared at his side, the rage in her, now grey, eyes was a beautiful thing to behold.
"He said he wasn't interested," she said icily.
The Great Hall was pretty empty at this point, there were only a smattering of students and at the head table only McGonagall, Vector, and Dumbledore. Everyone's attention was quite focused on Harry, Cho, and Luna.
Cho's face twisted and however pretty she might be, Harry thought she looked quite ugly in that moment. "What does a friendless twit like you understand about boys?"
Harry wasn't sure what he expected Luna to say or do.
Her grabbing him by his tie and tugging him down for a kiss wasn't it, though he was far from complaining. Harry forgot for a few breathless moments where he was, knowing only the gentle, certain touch of Luna's lips.
When they broke apart he had to blink through the daze his mind was basking in. He couldn't remember what he had been talking about before Luna had kissed him.
He stared at Luna's beautiful face as she turned to face the other Ravenclaw girl.
"I know more than you," Luna said pleasantly.
Harry blinked at Cho's dumbstruck face, for a second before his brain caught up, "I'm with Lovegood," he said, grinning like an idiot.
Cho looked like she was about to burst into tears.
Human water hose, Harry thought caustically.
His chest felt light as Luna led Harry by the hand to the Gryffindor table.
Luna was Harry's favourite person.
Lavender Brown looked at them in disgust, "Her? Of all the girls you could have possibly chosen, you choose her?"
Harry squeezed Luna's hand, "Yes, I chose Luna."
The smile on her face, made him bend down and kiss her temple.
Luna blushed prettily, but she didn't avert her pale blue eyes from his green ones.
"Suppose this means we'll be seeing more of you then?" Ron asked. He was giving Luna an odd look as if trying to figure her out or rather Harry's attraction to her out, but he was not being hostile about it.
"Or even less," Hermione said sadly.
"Harry's been avoiding you because you remind him of things he cannot change while making him feel bad about the things that have changed," Luna said.
"What does that even mean?" Ron asked her.
But Hermione was looking at Harry.
Harry met her gaze, her dark brown eyes.
"You changed over the summer," Hermione stated.
Harry took in a deep breath, "I can't tell you here." I can't tell you ever.
Luna squeezed his hand tightly, grounding him. "You should eat. Odin's ravens are perched on your shoulders."
Harry picked up his fork and dug in.
"Do you even understand what she's saying?" Ron asked on their way to quidditch practice.
"Most of the time," Harry said.
"How could you date someone you don't understand fully?"
Harry gave Ron a smirk. A part of Harry hoped Ron never dated Hermione, but if they did Harry would be sure to remind him of this talk. "The idea of understanding someonefully is sort of farfetched, seeing as everyone is always changing."
"You are starting to sound like her," Ron muttered and then in clearer voice asked, "Do you believe in Nargles and all the other rubbish she spots?"
"Not all of it, but even if she's wrong about what something is, I haven't found that she has been wrong a single time about something being there."
"Do you think she's a seer?" Ron asked.
"No," Harry said, firmly, "she's just the most observant person I've ever met."
"She didn't observe who stole her things."
"I didn't say she was superhuman, Ron."
"You really like her, don't you?"
"Ginny is going to be crushed," Ron mused.
Harry wasn't able to control his expression in time.
"Harry, come on, what's up?"
It was the twins.
"We heard-" George started.
"-you've been kissing-"
"Lovegood in the Great Hall," Fred finished.
"He has but I want to know why he's mad at Ginny," Ron said cutting the twins off.
"Mad at Ginny?" Fred repeated, taken aback. "Why would ickle-Harrikins be mad at Ginny?
"Is that why she's been so glum lately?" George asked. "She got a letter from Mum and has barely talked since."
Harry felt nervous. He didn't want to have the entire Weasley clan against him and attacking Ginny was the number one way to accomplish that.
"You look worried, Harry," George noted.
"Spill," Ron said, "You can keep whatever secrets you like about everything else but not about our sister."
Harry sighed. "I might have thrown a person at her."
"What?" Fred said flatly.
George was glaring at him.
Ron looked confused, "A person? But why?"
Harry ran a hand through his hair, "A seventh year Ravenclaw girl, another fourth year Gryffindor, and Ginny ganged up on Luna."
"What?" Fred and Ron spluttered, eyes wide, "Ginny would never do that."
But George looked resigned, "Ganged up on her how?"
"They cornered her against a wall. Ginny told her to stay away from me. The other two started, well, they accused Luna of being my whore and- I snapped. It was lucky I only used a stunner and a levitation charm. I was so, so angry. Luna hadn't even raised her wand to defend herself."
"Ginny and Luna were friends," George said softly.
"Friends don't push you up against a wall and start belittling your character," Harry said, trying very hard to hold his temper.
"You threw Gena into Ginny?" Fred asked. "They were both okay though, right?"
"Yeah," Harry said, almost keeping the note of disappointment out of his voice.
"Is that all?" Ron asked, out of the three of them, he knew Harry's temper best.
"I swore at her."
"It was just a girl fight, Harry," Fred defended.
Harry glared at him, "No, it wasn't Fred. I nearly had to carry Luna away from them because she could barely stand she was so upset. You've seen her in Owl Studies. There are few that could keep up with her. But she wouldn't raise her wand at Ginny."
"But you would," Fred shot at him.
"To keep Luna safe, I would do it again. I hate bullies and I don't care if she's your baby sister that doesn't give her a free pass to hurt people."
"But you hurt Ginny," Fred pushed.
"Ginny can take care of herself. She has two parents who love her, six older brothers, and a load of friends. Luna has only her dad and me with an entire school of students constantly after her. Housemates who steal her things and do Merlin knows else what."
Fred opened his mouth to protest, but George tugged on his arm, "Leave it, Fred."
The twins left, leaving Ron to shift from foot to foot unhappily.
"Did Luna cry?"
Ron looked off into the distance. "Luna was always following me and Ginny around. She was- she changed after her mum died. I didn't know how to talk to her after that, and Ginny, well, Ginny was always bossy."
"I would have rather not had to confront your sister."
Ron opened his mouth to say something then glared at what he saw ahead of him. "What's she doing here?"
By she, Ron meant Umbridge who was talking to Angelina and Alicia. Both girls were spitting mad and Harry turned on his heel.
"Oi, where are you going?" Ron asked him.
"Nobody is taking my broom," Harry said, "not today."
Ron hesitated for a few seconds before following Harry.
Umbridge did not notice them.
"I thought you two would be at quidditch practice," Hermione remarked as Harry and Ron sat at the table in the library.
Hermione was often found in the library these days with Susan, Astoria, and Luna, today was no different.
"Umbridge is shutting down the clubs and teams," Harry said.
Ron's eyes narrowed, "How do you know that? We didn't get close enough to hear."
Astoria shoved a poster at Ron, "She put them up at lunch."
Ron read the decree, his face going white with anger, "That vile toad. She can't do this."
"McGonagall will sort it out soon enough," Harry said. Pulling out a textbook and sighing.
Luna touched his hand. "If she does take your broom we can always ride the Hippogryphs and Thestrals."
Harry smiled at her, but his heart was heavy. Decree after decree had arrived and Harry knew how bad it might get.
Umbridge might not be able to give out detentions but there was plenty she could do to make life at Hogwarts difficult. Not to mention that the BBCE was getting harder and harder to keep secret. With almost half of the student body attending, Harry had found teaching more difficult and the space unsatisfactory.
"What are you thinking about, Harry?" Hermione asked.
"I am thinking there are too many people in Owl Studies."
She nodded, "I've been thinking that too. And I think I have a solution though it will be more work for you."
Harry raised an eyebrow, "Nothing new there. What's your idea?"
"Well, I was thinking that maybe we ought to split the group in half. Fifth years and younger in one group and sixth years and seventh years in the other. It is more work for you and well, I don't think we- that is Ron, Susan, Astoria, Luna, or I should attend the classes with the sixth and seventh years, so it fair to the others."
Harry was quiet for a moment, mulling it over and running his thumb over the side of Luna's hand, her skin was soft. Slowly Harry nodded. "There are some people in the fifth year that could advance, but I think your right, to keep it fair it would best to keep them ordered by years. Plus, I could push the sixth and seventh years more, they really have more potential than they let on."
"I still can't believe so many Slytherins joined up," Ron said.
"I am surprised they listen to me," Harry agreeing with Ron's sentiment. He didn't dislike the Slytherins but after years of- of Slytherin versus everyone else and against everything Harry stood for it was surprising.
"It's because you showed us respect," Astoria said. "We don't have to like you to see that you are smart and talented."
"You like Harry," Susan teased.
Astoria smacked the Hufflepuff girl on the shoulder, "Not like Luna does."
Susan grinned at Harry and Luna, "Glad you two finally came to your senses. Astoria and I were going to start matchmaking if you didn't figure it out soon."
"No.I would never do something so childish," Astoria said resolutely.
Susan and Harry sniggered.
Astoria glared at them.
"It was growing rather obvious," Hermione noted with a small smile.
"Even I noticed," Ron chimed in.
"The rumour mill is aflutter with it," Hermione said. "You better both watch your backs. Harry broke a lot of hearts."
"Their hearts can't be broken because to them Harry is a trophy. Harry isn't a prize to be won, he's a person to aspire to earn the respect of," Luna said a bit harshly.
Hermione stared at Luna, astounded that the girl could make sense. "I agree with you."
"Yeah, yeah, Harry's the lady's man," Ron muttered.
"Or Luna is the gentleman's woman," Susan said grinning. "Astoria and I had a bet going. It was Luna who kissed you first, right Harry?"
Harry grinned back and said, "Yep."
"Bollocks," Astoria cursed, reaching into her bag. "Should never have counted on a Gryffindor's bravery, fickle gits."
"Oh, I wasn't betting against Harry's bravery," Susan said, smirking as she took the chocolate frogs from Astoria. "I was betting on Luna being the more sensible of the two."
Luna was smiling at the group of people around her, the warm hand holding hers. She was happier than she could remember since before her mother passed on. Her future was no longer a barren path with only the dream of a better future ahead. She was truly happy right now, in this very moment, and she wasn't alone.
My apologies this letter has taken me so long to send to you. I knew not the words that I could give you that you might understand and that others would be without such understanding
I think Fawkes was right to approve.
I think pebbles are best left among rocks.
As the time of merriment approaches, I am pleased to say that the sun shines brighter.
Luna has only the best things to say about you. I do hope to meet you for myself very soon.
P.S. Thank you for standing against those who let their ignorance guide their actions.
It was Sunday night and a rather sloshed Severus Snape had no interest in teaching dunderheads in the morning.
Severus had every intention of resigning his position at Hogwarts. What reason was there for him to stay now?
He took another swig of fire whiskey.
Though Severus was not quite sure who he was damning, himself probably. He was after all the sorriest excuse for a human being.
A loud knock came on his door.
"GO AWAY!" Severus roared, partially because he wanted to yell and partially because he was far enough away from the door that his voice would not have been heard otherwise.
The door opened of its own volition.
"I cursed that door," Severus muttered darkly as four people entered his apartment suite.
"Well, you look like shite," Sirius Bloody Black said cheerily, swaggering past Minerva and helping himself to a glass of Severus's liquor.
Severus's growled at him, snatching the bottle away from the criminal and cradling it.
Black growled right back, though his was more animalistic and more impressive. Black easily snatched the bottle from Severus's inebriated hands.
Severus fumbled for his wand, but Minerva shook her head at him. "Leave it, Severus we have important matters to discuss."
Poppy walked over to Severus's kitchen cabinet, easily finding his sobering potion that he had modified to not leave you with a headache.
"I am not sobering up," Severus slurred.
"Oh, be reasonable," Minerva chided, "This is not a respectable condition for a man of your standing."
"I don't care," Severus snarled menacingly, or he tried to, the effect was lost as his words slurred.
"I tried to drink myself to oblivion afterward as well for a night or two," Filius said regretfully. "It didn't help. It isn't a story that can be logically dismissed."
"Logic," Severus scoffed, "when has logic ever played a part in any of our lives? Least of all when it concerns him."
"What are you talking about?" Minerva asked.
"Harry," Black answered taking a deep drink and belching fire.
"Drink this," Poppy said, trying to push the bottle of sobering potion on the depressed Slytherin.
Severus hunched in on himself, ignoring her.
"Don't be stubborn."
"He's not being stubborn," Filius said. "He's trying to cope."
"Cope with what?" Minerva demanded. "What is so important that we all need to discuss this at this hour without Albus?"
"He deserves to burn," Severus said, staring into the fire, "old fool should have retired decades ago."
"Mr. Snape," Minerva scolded.
"Minerva, Poppy, sit," Filius said kindly. "Let the man be until we've recounted the story than by all means, if you don't feel like joining him, we can sober him up to discuss what is to be done."
Poppy sighed, resigned she sat on the couch beside Black.
"Done about what? And whose story?" Minerva asked. She remained standing and glaring at the lot of them. "And why isn't Pomona here?"
"Too many dead children," Severus said hollowly.
"What did you say?" Minerva gasped.
"No one wants to tell Sprout about the almost certain doom of Hogwarts. Not even if we are able to avert it," Black said.
"What are you talking about?" Poppy asked, cold down to her bones.
"Filius and I have decided that the two of you need to know the full truth of what's been going on with Harry," Black explained.
"Starting, I hope with why he used a killing curse at his own skull," Poppy said drily.
Minerva spun to gape at the Mediwitch and shouted, "WHAT!?"
"Sit Minerva, sit and we will tell you what we know and then we will discuss how to keep our children safe," Filius urged her.
Minerva sank into a straight back chair she had summoned. "Albus should be here."
"No," Severus and Black said in perfect unison, "he shouldn't be."
Filius and Black told the story. Black had more details. Severus listened numbly as he nursed his glass of fire whiskey.
In the end, Minerva was in tears of rage and Poppy was crying out of pure sorrow. Both witches remained straight backed and restrained through the whole of the story if only because if young Mr. Potter had lived through it, they could listen without falling to pieces.
"It wasn't a dream," Poppy said, her voice wane. "He took the killing curse."
"He died," Severus said, speaking for the first time since story-time had started. "He died twice."
Black poured everyone a drink.
"Albus," Minerva said, her tone indescribable with the myriad of emotions trapped in those two syllables.
"I am glad Harry broke the Headmaster's wand," Filius said blandly.
"What are we going to do?" Poppy asked.
"We are going to finish what Potter started," Severus said, his eyes never leaving the flames in the hearth.
"What?" Poppy asked, her voice weak and uncertain.
"We are going to kill the Voldemort," Black said.
Severus didn't twitch a muscle.
"What are we going to do about Albus?" Minerva asked.
"Nothing," Filius said, "nothing but ensure that he never interferes with Harry's life again, that we make sure he does his job and only his job. There will be no more trusting Albus Dumbledore blindly to know best, to do the right thing."
They were all in agreement. Such powerful people, informed and unified in a single purpose; it wasn't only Dumbledore and Voldemort that ought to be worried. Any person or party, the Ministry of Magic included, that sought to endanger the lives of the students at Hogwarts had best be prepared for a resounding defeat.
AN: I feel like my titles make me a bit of a git. Oh well. Not a lot of action but I needed a transition chapter. Hope you enjoyed, please let me know what you thought and what you want more of?
P.S. This version of Snape will remain an asshat but the straight up bullying is going to be notched down. Think surly neighbor who hates kids, noise, and people, but would help you rebuild your roof if a tree falls on it.
Chapter 20: Feeling Stupid
WARNING: So if you haven't figured out that this story is a character based one with the biggest issues being social rather than action fight scenes then be warned. I am sick of calling mental quandaries angst. Angst is unnecessary self-doubt and childish emotions, I like to deal with the real, or potentially real fall out emotions of what human beings do to one another and themselves. I would classify this as more a drama/mystery.
Beta: Long live the Queen of Thornes! Many thanks.
Chapter 20 - Feeling Stupid
Luna ran towards Harry, his back was to her and his hands clasped behind him. His shoulders were oddly set and he was staring out the window.
For some reason she could not even explain to herself, she slowed, walking a wide circle around him until she could see his profile.
His face was arrogant and cruel, he stared out at the Hogwarts grounds with a possessive smirk, as if he were a God and the world at his feet was his to raze to the ground or build anew.
He was not wearing glasses. When he turned to face her, his were eyes red and slitted like a snake's, any doubt she might have that this was her Harry, vanished.
"Who are you?" she asked.
He reached up one pale, pale as bone she now noticed hand to his forehead, touching the zigzag scar that immediately began to bleed, blood spilled down the side of his face. The Not-Harry smiled manically at her, even as the trailing blood breached the line of his lips, coloring his teeth.
"Who are you!?" Luna demanded again.
"Your beloved," he answered in a sickly-sweet tone she had never heard before and never wanted to hear again. He raised a single orange phoenix feather at her.
"You are not my Harry," Luna said holding her ground against the monster before her.
"Of course not," he said easily, swilling the feather around as if casting a spell in slow motion. "He was never your Harry. You cannot lose what was never yours, my dear. You see Harry Potter belongs to me, he will always be mine to give reason to, to punish, to possess, and to destroy."
He brushed the feather against his temple.
"Who. Are. You," Luna asked raising her wand at the madman before her.
"My sweet," he grinned at her slyly, and she saw beneath the mask, she saw something withered and twisted and foul. "I am one without name."
And it seemed right that he had no name because he was no longer a he, he was an it. And it was something that did not belong here and did not deserve to be in Harry's body.
"I will give you one warning," she said in an arctic tone, "Leave."
It laughed, a parasite, feeding off the death of light.
"No, sweet darling, this is your first and last warning, I-"
In the way of dreams and nightmares, Luna awoke before the imagined confrontation had reached a resolution.
She was standing in a dim corridor the windows overlooked the dark outdoors, it was the same one from the nightmare though it was no longer daylight. The stars were out twittering to one another in their cold flickering light between immeasurable expenses of bottomless space.
Luna watched those stars trying to reply the nightmare, to solve it, to commit it to memory but the images fled her mind like fickle wisps leading unattended children beyond sight of home or rescue. She was left with a disturbing sensation along her skin as if some oily spectre had licked her cheek and the idea that Harry was in danger.
The first breath of light was beginning to dim the brilliance of the stars. It was late, or it was early, too earlier to see Harry who was more than probably alright.
Luna began the journey back to her dorm. She did not use Lumos though she held the wand tightly in her hand as she walked. Luna was not afraid of the dark, after all, rare was the darkness that was purely without light, and her eyes quickly adjusted to the ambient light in the corridors.
She was wearing her nightgown but she was glad she had gotten her shoes back as sleepwalking without shoes had been cold and rather unpleasant.
The Ravenclaw door knocker asked, "Is it easier to tell a pleasant lie or a selfish one?"
"That would depend," Luna answered softly, "on if you are a nice sort of person or mean spirited one."
The door swung open and Luna entered the common room. She made it into her room as she had left it, without waking anyone.
She pulled her diary from her bedside table to write in an entry. But the moment she put her quill to paper she realized her hand was shaking. The page would remain blank but for ink splashes and salted water marks as Luna desperately searched her mind for a dream that had observed more than her conscious mind had acknowledged.
Harry didn't see Luna at breakfast and when he asked one of her roommates about it the answer was a clipped, "She's doing homework in bed." But as Harry knew that Luna had already finished her homework this statement was not altogether believable which would be the theme of the day.
Snape was angrier and somehow less snippish for their morning class. At one point, Harry would have sworn Snape had been about to snarl at a table when he bumped into it. The fact that Snape was ready to curse an inanimate table was not nearly as surprising as him biting back his insults at the Gryffindors or the lack of interest he paid his Slytherins.
Draco and Harry began exchanging worried glances as Snape, half way through class began muttering inaudibly to himself.
When the bell rang the students fled, Slytherins and Gryffindors alike, Neville head of the pack, his potions kit grasped awkwardly in his arms. Snape hadn't insulted a single student, not once, the result of which was comparable to trying to stuff paper napkins into the barrel of a cannon with a lit fuse. You knew the canon was going to blow and stuffing the barrel just increased the chances of the thing blowing up in your face, not slowing it in the least.
In Arithmancy, Harry was relieved to see Luna, but was disheartened when she wouldn't meet his gaze.
"Luna-" he started
Her eyes shot to his, his words freezing in his throat. The look she gave him was -odd. He waited under that gaze waited for her to say something.
She only nodded at him.
Today was an in-class exam so their group was not able to chat as they normally would.
Between writing down his answers, he kept glancing up at Luna worriedly. But her focus remained on the paper before her.
When the bell rang, Harry walked in step with her, not knowing if he was supposed to press her for answers.
"Harry," she said, taking his hand.
He squeezed it as the exited the class, and he was able to fully use his lungs again.
"Harry," she said, again, "Something is wrong."
Harry frowned, "Between us?"
"No," she said, staring ahead of them with a distant look that was distant even for Luna. Her eyes flashed to him again, to his scar, "There is something wrong with you."
A tight knot cinched inside the core of him, Harry tried to pull his hand from hers.
But she held on, running a thumb over one of his knuckles. "I can't remember what I know, but it was wrong and, -Harry I can't remember, it was something important."
Harry stopped trying to pull away from her, but he still felt uneasy. "What's wrong, Luna? And what can't you remember?"
"My nightmare," she said evenly.
Harry pulled them into an alcove and wrapped her in his embrace.
She clung to him. "I'm sorry," she muttered into his robes.
"It's alright, Luna."
"No, it isn't, Harry, it was important," she insisted pushing back so she could look up into his face.
Harry saw the trepidation on her face and asked, "Was it a nightmare or a vision?"
She shook her head, almost violently, "I am not a seer but it was more than a dream, Harry, it was more than a dream."
Harry hugged her again, holding her tight and whispered her ear, "If it was a dream then there was nothing in your mind that you did not already know or could not imagine again."
She held onto and asked in a small voice, "But what if I don't recognize it in time?"
"Whatever comes, Luna, we will deal with it when it arrives," was the only answer Harry could think of that wasn't a lie.
Harry was late to DADA class and the moment he opened the door, he realized he should have skipped because the first thing Umbridge did was call him to the front of the class.
"Ah Mr. Potter, you have decided to grace us with your presence." Her words were passive aggressive, but her tone was light, which instantly put Harry on high alert.
"As I understand it, Mr. Potter," she began as Harry got closer to the front of the class, "you are the top student in this subject."
Harry nodded, wary of the smile growing on Umbridge's face.
"Well perhaps you would like to teach today's lesson?" she asked nicely.
Harry gaped at her, this was a trap, this had to be a trap. But his classmates were gossiping with one another giving Harry pleading looks toplease, please show Umbridge up.
So, with his most Gryffindorish bravado, he squared his shoulders and said, "I certainly think I can teach better than you."
She extended her hand, indicating for him to take his place behind the podium.
It's a trap! It's a trap! His mind berated him.
But he took three bold steps into Umbridge's teaching space and instantly regretted it. He felt the invisible wards and their compulsion the instant he crossed their threshold.
"Very good, Mr. Potter," Umbridge purred, flipping open the textbook on the podium. "You can give the class a short lecture on last week's chapters."
Harry stared at the book in front of him.
He could not read the words.
He felt like an absolute imbecile. The words did not move, the sat impassively on the page and Harry recognized them but for the life of him he could not draw up their meaning.
Harry stared and stared, a cold sweat forming above his lips, his lower back, and his hands grew clammy.
Why can't I read the words? I can't even make out the title.
He tried to sound out the syllables in his mind but the moment he had one his focus would skip to the next and he could remember the first. Useless. He felt useless. He couldn't read.
"Having trouble reading, Mr. Potter?" Umbridge asked snidely.
Instead of anger, Harry felt shame.
Someone sniggered, Harry looked up at the students, they were all watching him, waiting on him. He had taught them before and he was the better teacher, but he suddenly felt very small and foolish.
Why did I imagine I could do this?
He looked down at the page again, willing the words himsrlh to read the words he knew. That he knew he knew. But he didn't. If someone would but read the words out loud for him, if they could be but named he could understand them. But his mind had grown weary of trying to make sense of the printed letters and was looking at the white spaces between the words that seemed to rise off the paper and chase patterns around the lines that ceased to be letters and were now but black shapes.
"Surely," Umbridge taunted him, "you of all people are not afraid of speaking in front of people. Perhaps my fellow colleagues overestimate your abilities if you can't even read."
Again, Harry knew he should be furious, but as -Pansy and Lavender giggled, Harry felt only a fresh wash of embarrassment.
He was suddenly back in fifth grade standing before his science class. His project had been about types of plants that can grow in dim light, aka under the stairs so he could hide them from Aunt Petunia. Harry had successfully grown two plants from seeds he had bought from the extra food money Harry had stolen.
Dudley had ripped off all the leaves on the bus and thrown them out the window so that when Harry presented to the class he had nothing but cups of dirt with green twigs. Harry had no way to defend himself against the teacher's beratement without getting in trouble with his Aunt and Uncle. Dudley and his gang had pointed, geared, and laughed. The teacher had hushed them, but she was forced to give Harry a bad mark and a disappointed look. Harry had liked her and had hated her disappointment more than the bad grade.
Harry did not like Umbridge, but he did like his classmates and he wanted their respect. So, with a monumental effort, he focused his attention back on the text, his mind narrowing in on the image provided. An image of a jet water coming out of a wand.
That was easy, why didn't I see that before?
Harry didn't need to read this book he knew how to cast Aguamenti and nearly every use for it as a means of defense or even offense. He could bullshit his way through this no sweat.
The moment he opened his mouth, however, it proved to not be that easy. "Aquilimenta-"
The class gaped at him, and his butchering of the pronunciation.
Crabbe and Goyle roared with laughter.
Things did not improve from there. Harry felt short of breath and spoke in run on sentences, with slurred words and half pronounced syllables. He had no idea why he tried to keep going, pure stubbornness?
A few people laughed, but the majority looked at him in horror and as the catastrophe continued between breathy gasps and um and uh, people like Hermione began cringing at his pronunciation and his grammar.
Umbridge began to interrupt him to correct his grammar and pronunciation every other word.
Harry felt his cheeks flush and whatever compulsion he was under he was able to fight it to a standstill. He kept his mouth sealed shut and the anger that should have been directed at Umbridge was turned inwards like a thousand blades stabbing into his vital organs at rapid speed.
Regret for having spoken, regret for not following his own advice that this was indeed a trap. Worry that he really was as stupid as he felt that he was in this moment.
None of Umbridge's taunts garnered any outward response from Harry, other than his ears coloring.
Not that Harry could have talked then even if he had wanted to, his tongue was lead and running away seemed like the smartest idea.
Reluctantly, Umbridge let Harry go back to his seat. His knees were wobbly and his sweat chilled in a sticky sensation on his skin. He felt violated and disgusting inside and out. He sat stiffly in his seat, trying to ignore the muttering and the pitying looks around him. He wanted to hide, but instead, he just stared numbly ahead, unable to block out the words he heard, of the students questioning what was wrong with him and Umbridge picking apart the substance of his sabotaged lecture.
The moment the bell rang Harry was out of his seat, shrugging off anyone who tried to talk to him. He went straight for the owlery.
Harry climbed out one of the windows so he could sit on a ledge out of sight of anyone who might come to the owlery. He welcomed the cold as he tried to cool down from the self-loathing, embarrassment, and only distantly his hatred of Umbridge.
Hedwig sat on his shoulder, preening his hair, trying to make order of the mess that was Harry Potter.
AN: I promise this all plot relevant. The scene is Umbridge getting even with Harry with a ward that caused him to freeze up. Nothing like a little public humiliation, that will be pretty hard for the other teachers to prove was the Toad's doing.
P.S. I know cannon Harry was able to shrug off the imperious curse, my theory is it would be harder to throw off not being able to complete basic tasks such as reading or speaking and as I believe that at heart Harry will always be somewhat of a shy person, embarrassment like this would have hit a lot of sore spots that predate Hogwarts.
KEYNOTE: Once Harry sobers up, he is going to be pissed off.
Chapter 21: Not Dead Yet
KEYNOTE: Only Lavender, Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle were laughing. Everyone was muttering afterwards because everyone realized something was wrong.
AN: Well guess I disappointed with the last chapter. Not everything is going to work out perfectly for every chapter dearest readers.
To BMS for the positivity. Endless thanks.
Chapter 21 - Not Dead Yet
Harry was in Flitwick's office. Harry wasn't made he was furious. He wanted to know what Umbridge had done to him and feed her to Hagrid's brother.
After Harry explained the circumstances to Flitwick, the Head of Ravenclaw house was equally incensed.
"It was not your fault," the small angry professor said.
"But why couldn't I throw it off!?" Harry nearly roared.
Flitwick summoned a few books from his collection, "It is not the same as a mind-cont-"
"But I can throw off the Imperius!"
"Yet you can't shield your mind as of yet with occlumency."
Harry nearly bit off his tongue and was calmer when he answered, "It isn't the same."
"Isn't?" Flitwick asked, flipping through pages. "Dolores didn't breach your mind with hers, didn't command your actions. She altered your perception of a book, she increased your feelings of embarrassment and self-doubt. She made a ward that inhibits a person's ability to use language."
Flitwick pushed a book over to Harry, the page detailing exactly what Harry had experienced. Harry looked for the counter action.
Walk out of the circle.
Blow a hole in the ward, breaking the circle.
This ward can be overridden with time but the effects can last for up to twenty-four hours once the witch or wizard leaves the circle. Muggles may suffer long term effects.
"But I wasn't able to override it," Harry said.
"You said you were able to stay quiet within fifteen minutes, that you have recovered in two hours rather than the customary twenty is a testament to your strength," Flitwick urged.
Harry shook his head, "It shouldn't have affected me at all."
"Harry," Flitwick sighed, taking off his spectacles so he could rub his eyes. "Hundreds of politicians have had to go through this. Can you even imagine what wizards and witches do to one another during elections? Surely you don't think the only corruption in the wizarding world is dark magic or money? There are thousands of spells and charms and wards that are designed to undermine people. This one isn't altogether uncommon, a trained Auror would have deactivated the ward before anyone stepped through it. Your mistake is falling for the bait. You should have known it was a trap."
Harry's jaw set, a part of him was too angry to acknowledge his reasoning, another part of him that had been twisting with regret burned at the reprimand. "I should have been able to throw off her compulsion," he said stubbornly.
Flitwick sighed again, a bit exasperated, "And have you recovered fully from this weekend?"
"What?" Harry asked confused.
"Severus tells us you were able to hold him in your mind, shove memories down his throat, before shoving him out again."
Harry shifted on his feet, "I feel fine."
"Really?" Flitwick asked, "because trapping another person's consciousness in your mind, controlling, traumatic memories, and repelling a fully grown wizard with enough force to physically throw him across a room must have been a simple task."
Harry would not meet Flitwick's shrewd gaze.
"Harry, you must allow yourself room to make mistakes. You will not always be in the right. Surviving a war and time travelling does not make you all knowing. You have changed so much in this timeline already I would advise you not to rely too much on your insights into the future. You told me what Dolores did last time, but she was the one with power then, having her in a corner is going to make her more dangerous not less so."
"Is Umbridge going to get in trouble for this?"
"I will talk to Minerva and together we will confront Albus but-"
"Dumbledore is going to help me, not now."
Harry shot Flitwick a look.
Flitwick sighed again. "Harry, I am sorry this has happened to you, no student should be tormented by their professor."
"Yeah well, it doesn't seem to work out that way for me, not for the DADA position anyway. Even Lupin tried to eat me once."
The conversation pretty much ended there and Flitwick gave Harry the book with the ward Umbridge had used.
"Harry!" a group of people called the moment he walked through the portrait hole into his common room.
All the fifth years plus a few others were waiting for him.
Hermione was the first to speak and she spoke in one breathless stream, "Oh that evil cow, Harry, she cursed you, or it was a charm or a ward but we all know it wasn't you. We know you can teach, everybody does and she was just so cruel-"
Harry gave her a half smile holding out the book he brought for her, "I know. Page forty-seven."
"I am so sorry Harry!" Hermione said, even as she seized the book and began flipping through the pages. "I should have said something."
"We all should have," Ron said, "It was just so unexpected and I was waiting for you to shrug it off like you always do."
"But you didn't," Dean said, "and that woman is a sadistic leech. I wasn't sure what to call her out on. But like Hermione said, none of us believed it was you. You are the best DADA professor any of us have ever had."
"I'm sorry, Harry," Lavender sniffled. Clearly, the others had turned on her because she was giving everyone wary glances as they glared at her. "I thought it was funny but I should not have."
"Damn right you shouldn't have," Fred snarled.
Harry was warmed by his classmates' outrage on his behalf.
"Eww-" Hermione exclaimed, "this ward is nasty. Why would anyone use this?"
"Flitwick said it is something politicians use on one another," Harry said.
"I am never going to work for the government," Ron declared.
"Umbrat wants to play hardball," George said darkly.
"We will give her something to shove down her throat," Fred finished.
Harry had given them his winnings from the Triwizard tournament and thinking of the swamp and fireworks from last time, he could only hope they would come up with something even more extravagant and permanent this time.
The next morning it wasn't the twins who got to Umbridge, it was Dobby.
Midway through breakfast Umbridge's food exploded in her face, watery eggs, bacon, and tea staining her pink outfit. She fell out of her chair trying to beat of an English muffin that was -by all appearances, trying to eat her face off.
The entire Great Hall burst into helpless laughter, many at the Gryffindor table were whooping for joy.
None of the Hogwarts professors tried to help, eventually, Dumbledore stood from his seat and deactivated the man eating English muffin.
To which the twins chorused, "No! Feed the muffin!"
Umbridge was a disheveled mess, her face covered in little scratches, egg, and other greasy food ingredients. She hobbled her way out of the Great Hall, having twisted her ankle to heckling and derisive cheering from the Hogwarts students.
A few might have laughed at Harry but they all laughed at Umbridge.
Harry and Luna snuck out of the castle a few days later under the invisibility cloak to the Forbidden Forest.
Today, they were going to find the hippogryph herd that had so far eluded their explorations to the forest. Harry had asked permission to have some of Hagrid's dead ferrets. Hagrid being Hagrid, did not tell Harry to stay out of the forest, in fact, that night he had formally introduced Harry to Grawp.
It took them an hour to find the herd, Luna following a path Harry could not see but he trusted her lead. Besides he knew where the spiders were.
The first thing they did when they got there was to divvy out the ferrets to the horse birds.
Next, they bowed to the closest, biggest hippogryph of the lot. A great dove-grey beast with white speckles and blue-green luminous eyes.
The hippogryph bowed back to them. Luna approached the bird talking sweetly to it. Harry removed his glove so he could stroke it's soft feather neck. It made a clicking purring noise and turned his head. It rubbed that great big head along the length of his body, almost knocking him over.
Luna laughed, from where she had already nimbly mounted the hippogryph.
Harry grinned at and walked under the hippogryphs wing. Taking Luna's proffered hand he was able to get his seat behind her.
The hippogryph launched them into the skies and Harry felt as he always did in the skies, as if he were free.
He wrapped his arms around Luna's waist, putting his chin on her shoulder. He felt warm between the heat Luna and the hippogryph were emitting despite the frigid air and the snowy ground growing ever more distant below their feet.
"Winter break is coming soon," Harry said as they glided over the forest.
"It will be good to be warm again," Luna said back, having to talk a bit louder in order for him to hear her.
"Didn't your godfather tell you?"
"Tell me what?"
"We are going to be vacationing in France. Muggle France too, so aside from Sirius's hair and yours nobody will notice us," she said.
Harry pressed his cheek to her and repeated, "Sirius, your dad, you, and I are going to be vacationing, together, in France?"
She turned to see him and she grinned, "Yep."
Harry kissed her. Happiness embraced them both as they soared into the cold clouds.
Voldemort was perilously close to discovering a way through Lily Potter's ward. Old magic indeed. So rare that one of Dumbledore's people should mess around with blood and death magic. But the same wards she had used on her darling son had been in the very books he had been reading that informed a person how to corrupt souls, to not only take over another person's body but replace them.
A man screamed. Nott, one of his most trusted followers lived on the outskirts of society, living off his old family money. Drinking, sulking, unable to fulfill his purpose in serving his Lord Voldemort.
Well, he need not wait any longer.
Nott screamed again as Voldemort left his husky half alive body in a blooming mist of black smoke and rushed into Nott's mouth, nose, ears, eyes, seeping into his brain like a toxin.
When next Nott opened his eyes, it was Lord Voldemort who looked out of them.
Voldemort stood tall, a body, a true body at last. If only he had been able to do this fourteen years ago.
"M'Lord?" Wormtail asked brittly, a spark of hope in his eyes that it hadn't worked, that Lord Voldemort had failed shined in his beady eyes.
"Wormtail," Voldemort said, in a deep, malvalent voice.
Wormtail shuddered and handed the phoenix feather wand to his master. Which Voldemort immediately turned on his pathic servant.
"Crusio," he said lazily.
Wormtail hit the ground wailing.
Voldemort smiled, oh sweet victory. He had just come fully back into his power and no one would know. No one was ready for him.
He would take out the Potter boy before anything else. Killing Nagini was unforgivable. Yet from the rumours his pets had gathered, Harry Potter had grown quite popular, quite strong at Hogwarts. If Voldemort could maneuver his way into Potter's body then he might have a whole school of Death Eaters, a whole generation on his side.
He let up on the curse on Wormtail and asked, "Nott has a son in Potter's year, doesn't he?"
Voldemort kicked him where it hurts. "Tell me."
"Yes! M'lord..." Wormtail gasped, curling further into himself. "Theodore Nott."
"Excellent," Voldemort, and continued torturing Wormtail to the brink of sanity.
The holidays were looking to be most jolly.
AN: And to those of you who doubted my plot and my ability to foreshadow in subtle ways, give your author a bit more faith. As BMS said it would not be a good story if I made you happy the entire time. Now I am back to doing real homework. Hope you enjoyed this weekend's installments.
Chapter 22: Misplaced Optimism
AN: It is eighty degrees, my dorm has the heater on, I have a cold, and I have a ton of finals because I am the senior that decided 'sure why not take three extra classes that I don't need, I pay the same for them anyway.' Seven classes later and I am annoyed with myself. I am not feeling the Christmas spirit so this chapter is short because writing happy Harry wasn't going to go well if I forced it and me thinks you don't want to wait until winter for an update. Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 22 - Misplaced Optimism
The world has hiccupped. Even the Nargles are hiding.
Father says something terrible has happened in the world.
Harry is safe for the time being, but I think we are all in trouble.
Harry knocked on Snape's door on the last week of classes before winter break.
"Come in," Snape called. He was sitting at his desk grading papers and his onyx eyes widened when he saw who was at his door.
"Good evening, Sir," Harry said in even tone.
"Potter, what are you doing here?" There was too much curiosity in his voice for it to be as hostile as he likely intended. In the last few weeks, Snape's attitude towards students had marginally improved. He didn't go out of his way to menace students, though his silent persona freaked enough students out that still, no one dared cross him. For the select few dunderheads who were about to put something explosive or harmful into their cauldrons, old Snape would rise from the depths and bellyflop the perpetrator.
Astoria said that Luna was starting to rub off on him when Harry described this observation with the added detail that Snape was a large whale flattening his students.
Harry had blissfully ignored Astoria's snide remarks as he watched Luna laugh. He loved making her laugh.
"I am here for my Occlumency lesson."
Snape's eyebrows shot up, "You would volunteer for that?"
"You've pretty much seen the worse and besides it is important that I learn this skill. Vol- The Dark Lord is still out that and I think the chances of me irritating Dumbledore are high enough that he might go after my mind. Also, who knows who else might have mind art abilities."
Snape leaned back in his seat and said simply, "No."
Harry didn't bulk. "Yes."
Harry grinned then, "No, need to call me Sir, Professor."
Ire and something else flashed in the cold depths of Snape's eyes. "Do you think your cheek will somehow sway me? I don't want to teach you, Potter."
"You never wanted to teach me, nothing new there. Harry, my name is Harry, and no I don't think being rude will sway you but then neither would me being polite. But facts do, so here it is; I don't want to learn occlumency, I need to."
Snape stood, and Harry shut the door behind him walking to his usual spot.
"Prepare yourself, Potter."
"Harry," Harry corrected.
Snape's spell hit Harry's mind and the memories started.
Occlumency was truly Harry's worse subject, the progress they made was marginal for though Harry had a great deal of will and strength, he had no finesse. Snape's sleek and sneaky ways around Harry's focus was nearly impossible for Harry to fend off. When he was able to find Snape and push him out, it was luck more than anything else. Harry's luck was too fickle to be trusted.
Theodore Nott had received a rather peculiar letter from his father. In the last five years, Theo had never received a letter from his father, from anyone really.
The letter read thus:
I am expecting you home for holidays. I will see you at the train station.
It wasn't his father's script. Long precise letters, written with a steady hand. Theo's father was a drunk and he was a bastard. This letter was either an imposter's hand or his father was trying to do one of his rare and regrettable attempts to make up for ten years of piss poor parenting. They lasted for about a week, of good intentions and ended with the same awful anger that came from withdrawal. Of course, it was not the alcohol that made his father a bastard, he had been a Death Eater after all. While Theo was a Slytherin through and through, he did not see the world with the prejudices his father and the other of their class had. No, Theo disliked everyone equally. It didn't matter what their birth. Everyone would always disappoint him in the end.
When it came to talk about Dark Lords and the Dark Arts, Theo was of a mind that he would never bow down to anyone, no matter how powerful. He would rather die than grovel at someone's feet. The Dark Arts were in that same vein, magic was meant to be controlled, the Dark Arts seemed to control the caster, again not something Theo wanted.
Theo glared at the letter in his hand.
Screw him, he thought, Father will not tell me what to do. Sure there would be hell to pay this summer but then there always was. Theo folded the letter and put in his bag. It was a novelty and all novelties were suspect.
Everything came with a price, for every good shoe there was another one that would drop, and Theo would not be putting his head under that guillotine blade.
After all, that's what it meant to be a Slytherin, even the most friendly among them knew, listen to all but trust nothing and no one.
Remus was watching Sirius decorate Grimmauld Place with an air of fascination. The convict was so happy, so jolly, Remus could not remember a time, except maybe in their seventh year when Sirius had been so carefree and joyous. It was a nice change.
"Sirius?" Remus questioned.
"Yes, Moony?" Sirius almost sang, turning to him with a wide smile.
Remus was about to ask why his old friend was so happy, but he stopped himself in fear that he might somehow dim the light in those grey-blue eyes, "Nothing, it is just glad to see you, you know as yourself."
Sirius grinned and went back to whistling as he worked.
Remus imagined a world where James was whistling beside him, Lily laughing in the kitchen as she strung together ornaments. The four of them waiting for Harry -or maybe more, to return from Hogwarts for the true celebrations to begin. It was a good dream, it was a world Remus would never be a part of.
Lucius heard the knock on his door. Who the bloody hell was calling at this hour?
Narcissa ran into the room, her nightgown hugging her body, her robe loss. She looked panic.
"What's wrong?" Lucius demanded.
"It's Nott, I saw him in the glass," she said flustered.
Lucius snorted, and made to walk around her, "That drunkard is nothing to fear, I will dispose of him. He's probably here to ask for money."
"Peter Pettigrew is with him."
Lucius froze mid-step, turning to his wife with a stunned expression.
"No!" Narcissa grabbed Lucius by the lapels of his night robe. "No, I supported you, I always supported you but this ends here. It is only in the last six years you've been able to claw our name out of the gutter. We will not be sucked into this mess again. We will not play for the losing side."
"How dare yo-" Lucius started, grabbing at her wrists but stopping mid-word when one of her hands slipped his grip and he found her wand pointed at his jugular.
"Not. My. Son," she snarled at him. "You have a choice at this moment. We know nothing for certain, for all we know Pettigrew's presence could be a fluke, not a summons. Your mark remains faded. There has been no formal call. We can slip away and if he does come back then we can claim ignorance if he wins back the ministry. Until then you will not throw away our wealth and our son's future on a fool's bargain."
"You think I am a fool for our family's beliefs?" Lucius asked carefully around the point of her wand.
"I think my eldest sister belongs in her prison cell, I think I will never see Andromeda again because she will never forgive me for marrying and supporting you. I know we lost the last war and I know I would rather die than watch my son bow before a half-blood manic."
Lucius glared at her for a moment.
The sound of the doors bursting in rattled the entire house. The Malfoy wards falling away as if they were nothing. It had to be the Dark Lord under the guise of Nott, though why the Dark Lord would use polyjuice, Lucius could only imagine.
Narcissa didn't flinch, she held her pose, until with a wary glance to their closed bedroom door, Lucius whispered, "Get the floo powder."
Together they slipped away through the fireplace to their vacation house.
Voldemort taking possession of the now vacant Malfoy Manor.
Voldemort could not determine whether the Malfoys had fled from him or had gone an early holiday. It was of no matter him either way.
Voldemort had more pressing concerns. His journal was missing. Well, no, not missing, dead. He had found it in the Malfoy hidey hole. Found it with black stab mark through the pages with the residue of dried Basilisk venom.
One of his Horcruxes was dead and soon so would Lucius Malfoy.
Voldemort clutched the broken journal between his borrowed hands. How had the journal ended up this way? Was his Basilisk dead? Were his other Horcruxes in danger?
And why did he have the sinking suspicion that this all had to do with Harry Bloody Potter?
Harry went 'home' with Remus and Tonks as his escorts to Grimmauld Place. Sirius squeezed him so tight he thought his eyes might pop out of his skull, but then Harry was squeezing him back just as tight.
For the first week, the four of them enjoyed playing games, making a mess of Kreacher's kitchen, and flying their brooms in an enlarged attic Sirius had turned into a small, though still substantially sized indoor field.
Buckbeak chased after them in delight, happy to be able to finally stretch his wings.
Tonks still had to go to work, but Lupin had given in to just moving in with Sirius. Sirius had managed to convince his old friend that living in abject poverty because he couldn't get a decent job as a werewolf was about as fair as Sirius going to prison without a trial. If Lily and James were alive they would not have allowed Remus to live on the brink of starvation either.
As Harry had pointed out, Grimmauld Place was too big for just one person.
Harry was looking forward to Christmas itself. Sirius and he would be going to an apartment they had rented in France to meet up with the Lovegoods. Remus would be spending Christmas with Tonks.
Harry had never felt so optimistic about the future as he did that holiday.
Promises: It's okay to hate me for the suspense, but I swear to you that I am not going kill Xenophilius or Sirius or Luna or Harry. I am pretty sure those are the darlings of this story for this audience. Breathe, I will get you all through this to a happy ending, despite it being a ways away.
AN: Please leave me a review with your reactions and thoughts? Many thanks!
Chapter 23: Heartfelt
KEYNOTE: A seer is a very specific definition. Having lived in Salem for four years I have a lot of friends in the Wiccan and Witch circles. A lot of people are able to tap into the current climate that surrounds people and times. Think of Luna's dreams less as magical foresight and more like the human instinct some people have in greater or lesser amounts of sensing when something bad is going to happen.
WARNING: With Voldemort back on the board things will get darker but I am still planning to stay below the Mature and R rating. The darkest stuff will be what you can imagine from my implications but I will not be writing anything explicit aside from listing a death toll.
The sun is warm. The ocean is the world. The lights are bright. I have never been this happy.
Luna and Harry were asleep on the couch. Harry's arm was slung over her waist, his face buried in her blonde curls. Luna had tangled her hands around his free arm which she was also using as a pillow.
Xeno and Sirius were sharing a bottle of wine, neither having the heart to wake them for dinner. They had both crashed within the first ten minutes of a muggle movie after a day in the sun, chasing waves, and flinging one another into the water.
"They are adorable," Sirius said softly.
Xeno smiled, his blue eyes turbulent, "I always thought I would want to kill the boy who would take her away from me. But Harry's not trying to change her, he's just making her happier than I've seen her since-" Xeno took a deep swig from his glass, and almost choked. He chuckled at himself, "I don't typically drink."
Sirius watched the red liquid swirl in his glass, "When I first got out of prison and got ahold of some money, I bought an entire bottle of the strongest stuff I could find."
"Did it help?" Xeno asked.
Sirius shook his head, "Merlin no. It almost killed me. I woke up in the woods, shaking and throwing up. Or rather, spitting, I didn't have enough in my stomach to throw up."
"Our vices, they offer such a brief escape and sometimes it feels worth it, but all they ever offer is an illusion of a solution. They solve nothing though, they only cause more problems," Xeno sighed. "But then I am not sure where I would be without Luna, she is all I have."
Sirius looked back at the couch at the sleeping teenagers. They both looked so innocent and peaceful. Watching them on the beach today had been- it gave him hope that joy and love and life could win out against the sorrows. For the morning hours when there had been a bit of a cool breeze, Luna and Harry had run back and forth along the beach, making a game out of dodging the waves as the water spilled along the shore.
Sometimes they would stop to examine some creature that had submerged itself in the sand. At one point Luna had chased Harry with a crab. He had skipped away from her, laughing.
Sirius had always envied James for his doubtless love in Lily, but even James might have envied the effortless love and freedom between Harry and Luna. They were two very brilliant people with very hard pasts, who seemed content to let the other be who they were without judgment. They did not change each other, they changed the world around them. It wasn't so much love at first sight as it was two people finding their place together.
"Harry saved me too. I have so many regrets, it would be so easy to drown myself in them, but I couldn't do that to him," Sirius said finally.
"Sometimes in pretending to live, we learn how to live in spite of ourselves," Xeno agreed.
"So I guess this means I don't have to worry about you threatening my godson's life?"
Xeno smiled but there was a dark glint in his otherwise pale blue eyes, "As long as he keeps her safe and happy, Harry Potter has nothing to worry about from me."
The unsaid words, 'if my daughter gets hurt or stops being happy I will happily tear the boy limb from limb,' hung between, Sirius heard them all the same.
Sirius clinked his wine glass to Xeno's, "Merry Christmas, old chap."
Xeno sipped his wine his eyes going from the tormented soul sitting across from him to his daughter and the brave boy holding her.
Harry Potter was in Xeno's estimate, one of the brightest and kindest young men he had ever had the pleasure to meet. It was a gift that he and his daughter had found each other. All the same, in Xeno's heart he worried. He truly believed that this boy would never personally harm his daughter, yet the forces that followed in his wake- If there was evil in this world then it could not help but try to snuff a light like the one that Harry burned with.
Xeno could only pray that his daughter would not end up in the crossfire. Pray that the boy who had stolen her heart didn't come to harm and hurt her the way Xenphilius had been hurt when his wife passed on.
The little shit hadn't been at the train station.
Voldemort had made Wormtail go disguised as Nott with polyjuice but the boy hadn't shown up.
The Malfoys had though. Wormtail had spoken to them. Risky, but now Voldemort knew they were in their second estate in France. He didn't know exactly where that was, but given enough time the Dark Lord would find them.
Nott was not the best choice to steal the body of. Aside from not even having the respect of his own son, he had no friends and were ever Voldemort went he was given speculative looks. Apparently, being sober was an abnormal enough to be taken note of by everyone.
Voldemort had written to Albus Dumbledore, a risky move to be sure, but there were no outward signs of his possession of Nott. The soberness he was playing off as a way to reconnect with his son, and a sob story was something Voldemort knew the old man could not resist.
Dumbledore was down in his dungeons.
Severus was pissed, the bastard never came down here unless it was to make his life difficult.
"Headmaster," Severus said politely, even if he wanted to bite the man's head off.
"What can I do for you?"
"Mr. Nott sent me a rather heartfelt request," Albus said, summoning a plush seat for himself, ignoring Severus spindly backless stools.
Severus didn't have comfortable chairs because he didn't want people to stay any longer than necessary. Severus didn't want to be anywhere near Albus, but he gave no hint of his displeasure, well no more than was usual. "Why would would one of my students write to you?"
"No, not Theodore Nott, the boy's father," Albus said serenely.
Severus couldn't keep the surprise off his face nor the venom out of his voice when he asked, "Death Eater Nott, sent you a heartfelt letter?"
"He did indeed. It would appear that he has made some life changing choices, sobered up, and is wishing to make amends with his son on Christmas," Albus said with twinkling eyes. He said it like it was a brilliant fairytale come true.
Severus wasn't buying it, "Do you have the letter?"
Albus extended the letter to him, "You seem to doubt his sincerity. Surely you of all people, Severus, believe people were capable of change."
If it was not for his years of being a triple agent Severus would have laughed in the old man's face. It was debatable on how much Severus had truly changed but then he hadn't had to come back from the same depths as some. Among the Dark Lord's inner circle all were guilty of aiding and abetting, of bearing witness to atrocities, of murdering at least one human but there were levels to how much blood was on each their hands. Regulus Black, for instance, had been a researcher, his hands had been lily white in the end. Severus and Lucius had killed a few but due to their positions in society, their death toll was not high. People like the Lestranges, on the other hand, had killed as regularly as they shat. Nott had never been all that skilled as a wizard, his pockets and influence never that deep. As an only child, his surname had been all his worth. His marriage arranged, his son a necessary nuisance.
Nott was not as powerful as Bellatrix, but he was nearly as cruel. Nott had gone after muggles, killing hundreds, including women and children. Rumour had it that he had killed his first born child because she had been born a girl. Nott had kept his wife locked up in the house, treating her with all the dignity of a house elf until she gave him a son. She had committed suicide when Theodore was very young.
Severus didn't know what Albus knew of Nott, his wife's suicide had been hushed up after all. But whatever Albus thought, Severus knew that the words heartfelt, amends, and change were not applicable to Nott. Theo was a good kid, better than he ought to be given his upbringing.
The letter was not in Nott's script, it looked oddly familiar though Severus could not place where he had seen it before. It requested Theo be brought to him at once.
Like Hell Severus would comply with that. But going behind Albus's back was easier than a direct confrontation. The old man would always be a Gryffindor.
Severus folded the letter, "What would you have me do? The train has left the station."
"You were friends with Mr. Nott once, weren't you?" Albus asked.
Severus breathed in deeply, the press of a tick against his temple took everything he had not to allow his eye to twitch. Friends? The notion was ludicrous. "We are acquainted," Severus said placidly.
"Then you shall personally escort young Theodore Nott home."
Severus thought it would be kinder to actually lock the boy up in a dungeon cell for boxing day then send him 'home.' "Of course, I am Head of Slytherin House, it is my duty to see to the needs of my students."
Albus nodded and with a smile, he stood, "Thank you, Severus. Sorry for the inconvenience on the holiday, but we are only ever gifted with one family."
Gifted, Severus thought bitterly 'gift' was hardly the word he would use for the travesty of his own family and Theodore's. It was one of Albus's greatest flaws, he saw the possibility of love in all people and failed to understand the lack of it, always underestimating how far apathy and cruelty could stretch its hand before it was brought to an end. An end that didn't often arrive until the damage was irreversible.
Severus had walked too long in the dark to mistake it when it reared its ugly head. He would not be delivering Theodore to his 'father' if such a man could be called that.
We levitated some jellyfish back into the ocean last night. Oh and Harry says hi.
LL and HP
Harry and Luna were sitting on an outcropping of rocks. They were sitting within eyeshot of their dads but out of earshot of any people. The rocks weren't as desirable as the soft sand for taking a break from swimming.
Harry found climbing the rocks to be a lot of fun, and Luna oohed and aahed at the creatures crawling between the stones. The little pools they found were like little aquariums of sea life.
Luna's hand brushed over his hand, "How come your skin is so dark?"
"Genetics?" Harry guessed, but he pulled his waistband on the side of his hip down a bit, revealing skin that was nearly as white as hers. "Terrible tan lines though."
She laughed, "Next year we should get a sticker tattoo and put it on your shoulder and when it washes away you'll have a white design."
Harry grinned, "If you put a jellyfish tattoo on me, I'll-"
She stole a kiss and he forgot what he was going to say.
"You'll what?" Luna teased when she pulled back.
Harry could only blink at her. Where his skin had gotten darker, her hair had bleached paler. It almost hurt to look at her in the sunlight, she seemed to radiate in the sunlight. He wished he could stay with her here forever, but they would have to return to Hogwarts soon.
"Luna-" Harry started, his tone heavy. "Luna, I have some things to tell you."
"Tell me what?" she asked, reaching out to hold his hand.
Harry looked down at his hand in hers, "I think you've known but I want you to know it all. I have never lied to you but I think you need to know the full story."
She sat patiently, neither encouraging nor discouraging, but she kept his hand in hers as he told her everything.
The past timeline, the Dursleys, his time at Hogwarts, the war, his death, his being thrown back in time, the things that had been going on since then, everything, he held nothing back.
At the end of that story, she hugged him, and he clung to her. Logically he knew Luna was not the type to turn away from him, but he was grateful for her reaction all the same, for her acceptance.
He pulled back after a few moments, "You don't mind that I am older, right?"
She laughed, cupping his face in her hands, "I love you, Harry Potter, every bit of you."
Harry felt his stupid grin overcome him, "I love you, too, Luna Lovegood, forever and always."
Tears fell from her eyes and she leaned up to kiss him again, this person who saw her for who she was and loved her for it.
AN: Mr. Nott has no canon name sorry for the confusion and I kind of hate him too much to give him one. Also, there was a comment about Voldemort having red eyes, that was only in Luna's dream, there is no outward sign of possession other than Mr. Nott being sober, the way he holds himself, and his handwriting. His voice stays the same and all other physical manifestations. More on the magic behind this in later chapters as I have developed my magical theory for this fanfiction that does sidestep some canon.
ANII: For your poor bedridden author, please, please share your thoughts and reactions with me? Please?
Chapter 24: Answers without Solutions
Beta: The lovely Bluechipmunk edited this chapter with a great deal of care and time, many thanks.
Chapter 24 - Answers Without Solutions
Do you believe that if all is perfect in your world it is impossible for it to last?
I don't believe in perfect. I hope there is a flaw in my relationship with Harry, because if there isn't then something else is going to make it wrong. Something will ruin this perfectness because nothing can remain as it is and all perfections are lies.
Severus had written a letter to Nott to meet him at a pub to retrieve Theo. Severus had no intentions of bringing the boy, however, Severus did think it was in everyone's best interests that he talk to Theo about staying at Hogwarts for the remainder of the holiday.
Theo sat stone faced in one of Severus spindly stools.
"Your father wishes you home for the holiday," Severus said coolly, "Were you aware of this?"
Theo glared at the floor, his fists tightening until his knuckles were white.
"Did you know?" Severus pressed.
"Yes, Sir," Theo gritted out, still without looking up.
"You may stay here at Hogwarts, Mr. Nott. In fact, I think it would be best if you did."
Theo looked up at his Head of House with no small amount of relief. "I don't want to see him."
Severus nodded, "Did your father send you a letter? I find his claims of atonement improbable."
Theo almost smiled, "I did too." He reached into his bag. "This is what was sent to me. He's never sent me a letter before, but I know his handwriting and that is not it. It's like someone neater and more steady stole his hand, only if someone did force him to write anything I doubt that would make his hand steadier."
"Indeed," Severus said as he took the note.
It was the same familiar yet unplaceable handwriting as he had received from Albus.
"Is there anything else you needed, Sir?" Theo asked.
"No, Mr. Nott, you may return to your holiday. I will take care of the rest. If the Headmaster approaches you, you go nowhere with him, you come to me or one of the other Heads of Houses. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Sir," Theo said and headed towards the door.
Severus stayed at his desk frowning at the letter.
"Sir?" Theo asked from the doorway.
Severus looked, brow raised.
"Thank you," Theo said earnestly, before shutting the door behind him.
Voldemort's research went well, better than well. Now that he had a body of his own and was not relying on Wormtail to gather him everything he needed, he had freedom, independence.
This branch of magic was akin to that of the horcruxes and oddly the same as the spell Lily Potter had used to save her son.
At the price of her own death, she had allowed her son's soul to become elastic. Death by the hand of the person who had killed her, thereby activating the spell, could not permanently kill the living person she had died for. It was a complex, tricky curse.
One that did not spare the subject from death. Apparently, Voldemort had succeeded in killing Harry Potter, only the boy's soul had at once returned to his body. In effect, Lily Potter had used her own death to create an anchor out of Harry Potter's body, an anchor that his soul would always return to if the murderer, aka Voldemort, were the one to kill him. That Voldemort had been unable to touch the precious Boy Who Lived was due to Voldemort's own dabbling in soul magic.
The overlap caused friction between curses.
The curse Voldemort had found and was using to possess Nott ran the risk of the same friction happening between the two- or was it three soul curses.
Voldemort had eaten Nott's soul, there was nothing left of the man, of the being that he had been. But there was another curse that might work. A curse that would allow him to body hop, merely subduing the host's soul, not destroying it.
This might work as he would neither be trying to hurt nor kill Harry Potter and therefore not upsetting the laws that governed his mother's spell.
He could try to undo the curse of course, but that could take undue time and as the curse had been set for fourteen years it was likely irreversible at this point. It would be easier to throw the boy off a cliff. Voldemort somehow doubted a soul would return to a body that had a snapped neck.
But then killing the Boy Who Lived was no longer the plan. Voldemort would become the savior, and with a new generation, a new start, no one would ever escape him. No one would see him raising his new empire, no one would question Dumbledore's golden boy until it was all far too late.
Mr. Nott did not reply to Severus's letter until the week after the break. Albus had seemed disappointed when Severus had lied to him and said that Mr. Nott had fallen back into the bottle.
What the Albus suspected Severus could not say, but obviously Nott had focused his ire on Severus. He demanded a meeting with Severus. They agreed to meet at a pub in Hogsmeade that day.
Severus had been forced to write a letter to the Malfoys as Draco had yet to return to the school at the start of the new semester.
Lucius reply nearly sent Severus into a panic and he was very glad that the Headmaster had not chosen to eat his breakfast in the Great hall that day.
He's back. He has taken over my manor and he looks like Nott. I can't say why and I don't know how but he was powerful enough to take down the wards as if they were nothing.
Waiting for a formal summons, my family will be enjoying a prolonged vacation.
The Dark Lord was Nott, Nott was Dark Lord. It explained the familiar handwriting for Severus had seen the Dark Lord's instructions before, but not written with Nott's hand.
It was like Quirrell all over again.
Severus didn't waste time on secrecy, pulling out his wand he began a verbal message, in a low but clear voice that only the other professors could hear.
"Go to Malfoy Manor, be prepared for the worst."
His doe Patronus raced out of his wand and sped towards the Auror office. Hopefully, between Kingsley and Amelia, some good could be done.
"My classes are canceled for the day," Severus called to the room at large as he stood and all but ran for the exit.
Nott was supposed to meet him during his lunch break. But he could only hope to beat him there. He would wait all day if had to, and he would aim to kill. What did it matter if Severus went to jail? If it meant the Dark Lord would be gone from the world forever it would be more than worth it. Besides, it wasn't like Severus didn't have enough crimes under his belt to be undeserving of a prison cell.
Severus found Nott at the bar. Well, he found his soulless husk at the door. Severus was sadly able to recognize all too easily the effects of a dementor's kiss.
But Severus wondered. Quirrel had died when the Dark Lord left his body, and from Lucius's letter and the pseudo-Nott's letters, Severus was certain that the Dark Lord had been in residence within Nott's body.
Severus consoled himself that all the Dark Lord's Horcruxes were dead. But- but what about other forms of the Dark Arts? What if the Dark Lord had figured out how to do something equivalent to the Dementor's Kiss? What if he could jump bodies between unwilling hosts?
Severus looked wildly around the pub at the gawkers who were pushing to get a better look at the body. He saw no sign, no expression, felt no presence or power that reminded him of the Dark Lord.
Severus pushed his way out of the pub and spun on his heel, snow crunching under his feet as he tried to look at everything and everyone around him at once. People on lunch break and young families walked along their way, caught in their daily routine, minding their own business.
What little color there was drained from his face, as Severus took note of every passerby that the Dark Lord could be any one of them. There was no way to spot him, no way to guard against him.
"Shit, shit, shit," Severus muttered, "Shit!"
Patronuses. Harry's entire class, well, both of his classes were able to accomplish them. Every single student was able to some a silver protector of light.
Luna's patronus was a thestral and Harry's had morphed into a hippogryph. Different creatures, different memories, but the same love that made them important.
"Oi, Harry," Fred called.
Harry turned his attention to the twins who were waving him over.
"Now," George said, when Harry reached them, "It will not get rid of her-"
"But it will make her life hell," Fred finished.
Harry grinned down at the elaborate plans stretched out on the Room of Requirement floor.
Umbridge didn't stand a chance.
When Kingsley and his partner Tonks knocked down the doors to the Malfoy Manor, they did not find any Malfoys but they did find a rat.
Tonks had the animagi shot with an anti-shift spell and a stunner in moments.
"See," she proclaimed proudly, "Stealth is overrated."
Kingsley rolled his eyes and called to the rest of his team, "Round him up and I want every book and scrap of paper in this room in my office. Let's see what secrets we can't squeeze out of the court proclaimed victims."
It was the trail of the decade. Peter Pettigrew, a proclaimed hero, under veritaserum, rewrote history books and nearly caused a national panic.
Peter Pettigrew was a Death Eater.
The Seeker Keeper who had ratted out the Potters.
The mass murderer who had killed muggles in a public area, and cut off his own finger in order to fake his own death and to frame Sirius Black, Harry Potter's godfather for the whole sordid affair.
Sirius Orion Black was cleared of all charges and was offered a formal apology by the ministry of magic for wrongful imprisonment.
But the crimes of Peter Pettigrew did not end there. For he had hidden with the Weasley family, with children for twelve years before returning to his master.
Before helping He Who Must Not Be Named return to power.
National panic was perhaps a mild description for the reaction amongst wizarding Britain to the morning headlines the next day.
AN: A bag of used tissues and the best roommate ever, and finally feeling better, by which I mean I can breathe, stupid head colds. But now the words are coming in a rush. I am trying to beef out these chapters but Holy Cow are you all going to hate me for the next three chapters. Buckle up, I am still promising a happy ending. Please review?
Chapter 25: What We Lost
KEYNOTE: Lucius got the Diary back in the second book. I know it is probably not canon but just go with that at some point in the Dobby/Lucius scuffle Lucius had his hand on the Diary and brought it back with him. It is canon that Lucius gets the snot kicked out of him for losing it.
PLEASE READ- Is it super dramatic that Voldemort found the same studies Lily did? I don't think so, my reasoning is why wouldn't Voldemort be looking for the magic Lily used? This isn't a few months of research this is the product of fourteen years of researching, but in my story he finds it. Somewhere between Britain and Saudi Arabia, Wormtail and Voldemort came across some literature and other forms of Dark Magic that included the curse Lily used. It does not seem odd to me that Voldy had enough strength to read or that his spirit was demonic enough to eat another's. In fact, I would reason that a fractured soul would be more likely to try and feed off a healthy soul. Downside; without any anchors, one more strike and he's out. No second chances, if Voldemort slips up he is gone forever. But he doesn't know that yet.:KEYNOTE:
Chapter 25 - What We Lost
Everything is falling apart. The Dark Lord is back. Harry seems confident.
He shouldn't be.
The Nargles are coming out of their hidey holes to laugh at us.
Harry was pleased beyond measure that Sirius was free.
Amelia Bones approved me as your legal guardian! You are officially, officially coming home with me this summer!
I will be at your next quidditch match (as a human!) and afterwards, I will take you out for ice cream. We have formal permission by the Assistant Headmistress Minerva.
I can't stop smiling. As in, I physically cannot stop my face muscles from turning upwards.
Tonks is taking me out to go get some decent wizarding robes from this decade, and then she is taking me to her home for dinner. I am going to see my cousin, Andromeda for the first time in forever.
The best part is I don't have to explain myself, the whole truth is out now!
I can't wait to see you. Stay safe. I love you so much.
Love Your Dogfather,
Freeman Sirius Orion Black :D
Harry showed Luna the letter that had been delivered by Hedwig.
She smiled tightly. "I like his smiley at the end," she said, voice nearly as tight as her smile.
Harry frowned at her, "Luna, what's wrong?"
"Voldemort is back, Harry," she said, stroking Hedwig's feathers for comfort.
"So what?" Harry sighed, "It isn't like he ever went away."
"All Wormtail said was that 'the Dark Lord was back' and that he was 'all powerful,' he didn't say how he came back. I really think they should have kept asking him questions before giving him the Dementor's Kiss," she said.
Susan pushed her way between Ron and Harry. "That's what my Aunt said. But there was uproar at the courts. She said it was all she could do to keep the court from going into full scale riot and before my Aunt could okay it, Fudge had given the order for the Kiss. Of course, the Dementors didn't hesitate. They never do about that kind of thing."
Harry's pleasant was quickly abating and he felt himself getting angry. "What does it matter? It isn't like there is anything we can do about here. We are still in school."
He heard his own words and was nearly as shocked at himself as the incredulous faces that Ron and Hermione were giving him.
"Well at least someone is seeing sense," Astoria said, having approached from the other side of the table. She, unlike Susan, did not push people out of the way, people simply got out her way. She sat primly in the cleared space.
People had stopped complaining about inter-house seating, even if a Slytherin at the Gryffindor table still got some weird looks.
"Professor Snape seems unsettled," Astoria noted.
Harry looked up at the head table, and it was not just Snape who seemed unnerved. Well aside from Umbridge, she looked weirdly pleased.
Probably thinking how she could use the disorder to her advantage.
"They all seem unsettled," Hermione said, "we all are."
"But surely," Ron started, "there is something we can do."
"No," Harry said firmly.
"Why not?" Ron protested.
Harry had to bite his tongue to keep back the words, Because the last time we took matters into our own hands in the fifth year Sirius ended up dead.
"Where would we even start?" Luna asked, covering for Harry's pause. "We have no idea where Voldemort is."
Hermione sighed, "I guess you're right."
"Guess she's right?" Astoria repeated. "There is no guessing needed. She is right and there is nothing we can do."
Harry sighed, "That isn't completely true."
Susan chuckled, "Sensible points used up for the day, Harry?"
Harry shook his head, "Not quite. Voldemort goes after kids. We need to be on guard and if anyone starts acting oddly, say something. The best thing we can do is take care of each other. No one goes anywhere alone, and anyone in the third year or younger should have an extra eye put on them."
"Huh," Astoria said, "I think the Ravenclaws are rubbing off on him."
"I thought you would claim him as Slytherin," Susan said with a grin, "he is being a survivalist after all."
Astoria shrugged, "If he was truly a Slytherin, he would have dropped out of school like Draco Malfoy."
"I thought he was just on a prolonged vacation?" Ron asked, perking up in hope that the little blonde demon would never return.
"At this rate," Astoria said darkly, "Who knows what's going to happen?"
Harry was enjoying charms. Magic and his studies were his only solace this week. Though he enjoyed his time with Luna and his friends, everyone was so on edge that there was none of the relaxed fun he had grown to count on.
Harry wasn't looking forward to another war and he had no way of knowing how bad this one would be. On the bright side, all anyone had to do this time was kill Voldemort. No damned horcruxes left and with a soul as fractured as his, it would be highly unlikely that Voldemort could even attempt to make another one.
But Harry was worried.
How did Voldemort get a body this time around? What did he look like?
And what was perhaps worrying Harry the most was something that only a handful of people expected. When was the break out of Azkaban going to happen?
Harry would talk to Flitwick after class, just to be sure it was on everyone's radar. Maybe Harry should write another letter to Amelia? It would sort of cause him trouble if everyone found out he was a time traveler but not as much trouble as several Death Eaters -some of them as feared as Voldemort himself, were on the loose.
Taking a deep breath and pushing it all aside, he worked on perfecting his charm spell and when that was done he got a head start on his homework.
Cho Chang didn't bother him in this class anymore.
When the bell rang, Flitwick waved Harry over.
"Have a seat, Harry, there are some matters you need to be aware of," Flitwick said after the room had emptied.
"Sir," Harry started, "I know I told you this already, but do you know if anything has been done to secure Azkaban? You know, outside of the Dementors."
Flitwick nodded gravely, "Amelia Bones and Kingsley Shacklebolt were able to get their letters of execution. Those prisoners in high security have been sentenced and administered the Dementor's Kiss. Honestly, I think Fudge signed off on it to try and quell public panic. Though after the debacle with Sirius coming to light, they did go through all of the paperwork. No one is allowed to receive the Dementor's Kiss without a trial, which all of Voldemort's imprisoned Death Eater's did receive."
Harry sighed in relief, "Well that is good news at least. A world without Bellatrix Lestrange is a safer one."
"Indeed," Flitwick agreed but he didn't look happy.
"There is more bad news, isn't there?" Harry asked sinking glumly into his seat.
"I am afraid so."
"Just tell me."
"You heard about Mr. Nott being found in Hogsmeade?"
"Hog's Head right?" Harry asked with a nod. "What I don't understand though is how a Dementor got by Aberforth."
"Not the Hog's Head, although, Mr. Nott did go there for a drink before his ordeal. He was found soulless at the Three Broomsticks."
Harry frowned, "There's no way a Dementor got to the center of town without causing a ruckus."
"That is the thing, Harry, there was no ruckus, no Dementor, he had planned a meeting with Severus and was found soulless at the bar before Severus arrived, well before they were supposed to have their meeting. No sign of a struggle. Witnesses say he just dropped, no soul."
Harry was frowning, "How? And why isn't everyone talking about this?"
"It was overshadowed by Pettigrew's trial and nobody really believes it. They think it was something he drank and that he's dead now. His body was taken away without much fuss. But Severus has a theory."
Harry sank further into his seat and asked almost mournfully, "What theory?"
Flitwick sighed, "Severus believes that Voldemort has found a way to jump bodies, possibly by eating the souls of his victims."
Harry's face went white, even with the tan he looked terribly pale. He swallowed, his throat suddenly felt dry. "Please tell me you don't mean he could be anyone and anywhere?"
Flitwick shook his head, "He could be anyone and anywhere."
"Bollocks," Harry cursed.
"Our only clue might be when a body drops soulless that he is switching between hosts. However, whatever body he is in, Severus thinks it would be best to assume that as long as they are magical Voldemort has his full magical capacity. A wizards magic is tied to their life source. Though our bodies and intelligence can sometimes constrain our magic it is our life source, and therefore, even the piece of the Dark Lord that lives on is outstandingly powerful. Giving himself fresh hosts, eating souls, it only adds to his strength."
"Your lessons with Severus, how have they been going?" Flitwick asked.
Harry took off his glasses to rub his face, "Not remarkably well. When I am able to shield my mind it is more luck than force of will if I am being honest."
"I would advise you put more effort into those lessons," Flitwick said, not unkindly. "Also proceed with extreme caution. It has already been proven multiple times that possession is not something the wards at Hogwarts recognizes."
"You might want to work on that," Harry suggested.
Flitwick's lips turned up but there was no mirth to that smile. "I have discussed it with Headmaster and Professor Vector."
"What did they said?"
"Possession is not common enough that there are any standard wards for it. We are searching but-"
"But it will likely be too little, too late," Harry supplied.
"I wish had better news for you."
"Don't we all."
A few weeks passed and nothing bad happened. Well, nothing anyone was aware of anyhow.
Harry caught up to Theo after their potions lesson one Monday and asked, "How are you?"
Theo gave him a sidelong look.
Draco, who had only recently returned, waited for Theo a little ways down the hall.
When Harry waited patiently and didn't back down immediately, Theo exhaled, letting his shoulders ease.
"I'm good, Potter, better than good, I'm glad he's dead."
Harry would not be glad to see the Dursleys dead, but then Harry had had his suspicions that Theo's homelife was worse than he could imagine. Harry had seen some of the signs as he had gotten to know Theo over the last year. "Do you know who you will be staying with?"
"The Greengrass family got saddled with me," Theo said evenly. "I am surprised they took me in. Some distant, or not so distant relative rubbish or what not. I don't intend to be a charity case though. Once I turn seventeen, I am out of there. Which is the following summer so it isn't that big a deal in the long run."
Harry nodded, "If you ever need anything, let me know. I know we aren't that close, but I'm around if you do."
Theo nodded again and went to join Draco, who didn't look at Harry.
Draco had been acting odd, but then his parents were moving to Northern Europe and he would be transferring to Durmstrang soon. Draco was here waiting for the needed formalities in Durmstrang to go through.
Harry did not understand why Lucius would be fleeing from the possibility of the Dark Lord returning. But then Lucius had gotten one of Voldemort's horcruxes destroyed and if memory served, that hadn't played out well for the Malfoys.
Hermione and Ron caught up with him then, interrupting his ponderings.
"What were you talking about with Theodore?" Hermione asked, giving the lanky boy a look that made Harry have to hide a smirk.
In Harry's distance, Ron and Hermione had come to an understanding. That understanding was that though they were friends, without Harry as buffer there was only so much of each other's company they could handle.
Harry was not at all saddened by the possibility that they wouldn't be dating in the future. Ron was not good enough or kind enough to Hermione to deserve her.
Luna's words came back to him then, you should tell Ron and Hermione. You don't have to tell them everything but you should tell them the basics. They love you, they would die for you, they deserve to know why you have changed from the person that they knew and depended on.
"Hermione, Ron?" Harry began.
They both looked at him, hearing his tone of voice changing.
"I think I owe you a long overdue explanation."
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look before they turned back to Harry.
Hermione said, "Well it's about bloody time."
They found an abandoned classroom and Harry began with the day of the last task.
"You know the day of the last task?" Harry asked.
Ron and Hermione nodded, scared to speak and somehow deter Harry from sharing the truth with them.
"Well, someone, likely the false-Moody used the imperius curse on Krum, who then attacked Fleur and Cedric. I was able to help Cedric in time and one thing led to another and we reached the cup together."
Ron couldn't help himself. "We know that."
Harry shook his head, "We decided to grab the cup together, win together. We both lost as it turned out. We got portkeyed to a graveyard. Voldemort and Wormtail were there. Voldemort ordered, 'Kill the Spare.' And Wormtail hit Cedric with an Avada Kedavra."
Ron and Hermione stared at him, speechless. Harry looked at them passively. He still didn't want to tell them this and even as he spoke he debated how much he should or even could handle to tell them.
"But Harry," Hermione said slowly, "that couldn't have happened. Cedric is alive."
Harry continued his story as if he hadn't heard her. "Wormtail got the best of me. I was captured. Voldemort enacted a ceremony that required his father's bones, my blood, and Wormtail's hand. Voldemort rose to full power that night and summoned his Death Eaters. Voldemort challenged me to a duel and as fate would have it, our wands have the same core which meant but some obscure rule of wand lore he couldn't kill me with that wand.
"And due to the same wack wandlore, the spirits of the people who he killed most recently with that wand came out. Cedric, my mum, and my dad. Cedric told me to take his body back with me, my parents told me to run and attacked, or rather distracted Voldemort. I got back to the cup and we arrived back on the Hogwarts grounds. Voldemort alive and Cedric dead."
Hermione and Ron did not say a word. Harry went on.
"That summer was one of the worst of my life. You didn't write. The only thing people would tell me if I bothered to reach out was to stay safe and keep my nose clean. Fifth year sucked. I was angry all the time and Voldemort kept sending me visions. Snape was a git, Dumbledore wouldn't so much as look at me, and Umbridge made my life hell. I was miserable and Hermione, ever the voice of reason, I ignored your advice. I got myself kicked off the quidditch team. The DADA club was great but Umbridge caught us and Umbridge took over as Headmistress.
"I didn't understand that the visions I was seeing were induced by Voldemort. He sent me one of him torturing Sirius in the Department of Mysteries during the final exam. I believed it. A group of us, not including any Slytherins, went on an adventure.
"It nearly got us all killed.
"Sirius died. Naturally, I blamed myself for it.
"Sixth year was a bust. I was the grand chosen one and Dumbledore's golden boy. I was arrogant and I obsessed over Draco being a Death Eater, and I accidentally almost killed him because I was studying spells that didn't have formal definitions.
"Death Eaters got into Hogwarts. Dumbledore died. Voldemort won.
"The seventh year the three of us spent hiding in the woods. Running around on the instructions from the instructions of a deadman. We followed quite blindly. Voldemort and his lot took over the government and I will not describe the horrors but it was a dark time for anyone who stood against Voldemort or anyone who wasn't at least a half-blood.
"It all boiled down to a battle on the Hogwarts grounds. A lot of people, of children, died."
Harry had to stop and take in some measured breaths. It was hard to tell this story again. He didn't think it would matter how often he told this story, it was never going to be easy to tell it. He would never forget what he had seen that day. In the end, dying, dying had been easier than seeing the destruction of his home and of the people he had come to love.
He wished Luna was holding his hand in this moment. He was grateful that Ron and Hermione waited for him, they didn't push.
"You know how my scar hurts when Voldemort is near me?"
Hermione and Ron nodded their heads.
"Turns out there was a piece of his soul in the scar."
Their expressions of horror made Harry smile sadly at them.
"It gets worse," Harry told them.
"Worse?" Hermione squeaked. She had been able to control herself very well up to this point, partially because of the toneless manner that Harry had been speaking in until now.
"Voldemort put out an announcement that promised if I surrendered myself he wouldn't hurt anyone else."
Ron stood, outraged, "Tell me you didn't believe him!? You plonker! You couldn't have believed him!"
Hermione was on her feet too. Her rage was quieter and all the more formidable. "Why? How could you have done that to us?"
Harry met her chocolate brown eyes and knew he was about to break her faith in the world. "I did surrender myself. I walked to my death and I did not defend myself."
Hermione's frizzy hair seemed to rise as if her power was a building lightning storm. "Why?" she demanded, voice as hard as stone.
"Because," Harry said smoothly, "Albus Dumbledore told me to."
They gawked at him.
Ron stuttered, "But- but he- why woul- but no- no. He wouldn- but- What?"
"The soul piece in my head. In order for Voldemort to die all that anchored him to this world had to die first. I had to die."
Hermione was crying, tears streaming down her dark cheeks. "No, Harry, no." She looked angry and hurt and as if her heart were breaking for him.
"Anyway. Voldemort hit me with the killing curse, again. I died. But when I woke up my scar was bleeding, and the pain… Coming back to life hurts a hell of a lot more than dying. I know I keep telling people that, but I really can't explain exactly how bad it hurt."
"That isn't possible…" Ron said numbly.
"And the day I woke up-"
"The day of the last task," Hermione finished for him.
Harry nodded, "Yep. I thought I was dreaming. I went through the whole task and didn't realize until after I grabbed the cup, this time without Cedric, that maybe this isn't a dream. I killed Voldemort's snake but Wormtail ran away with the thing that was Voldemort. The rest- well I think you can piece together what happened after that, you've been around."
Hermione was shaking, "Why didn't you tell us? Why didn't you just tell us!?"
Ron just sat there, looking like his mind had been blown, staring at Harry like a man coming to the realization that he didn't know anything about anything or anyone.
"Because, Hermione, you are not my Hermione. You could be, you would have been, but you aren't the Hermione I went to war with."
She looked pissed. "What the hell is that even supposed to mean?"
"It means that person you became… you should not have had to become that person, Hermione. You shouldn't have had to suffer like that and I couldn't bear to tell you. I didn't even want you to hear it second hand."
"How much of that story did you leave out?" she demanded.
"Three years doesn't sum up neatly, Hermione."
"How much did you leave out?"
"This reaction is why I didn't tell you to begin with. I know you. Your mind is already spinning trying to solve problems that are years beyond you."
"I am not stupid," she said getting into his face.
He stood towering over her a bit, "Of course, you're not. I know what you're capable of, probably better than you do, but that's my point, Hermione. I don't want you to put all your efforts into fighting a war that should never have been your problem if you hadn't been friends with me to start with."
"I am a mudblood, this was always my fight!"
"The hell it is!" Harry yelled back finally losing his own temper. "You don't know what we did, what we had to give up, what we lost of ourselves!"
"So you're what?" she asked acridly, "Protecting me?"
"Of course! Of course, I am protecting you. Damnit, Hermione, I love you!"
Ron let out a short breath and said the first thing that came to his overwrought brain, "I thought you loved Luna."
Harry rolled his eyes and made a sound in the back of his throat. "Not like that." Harry put his hands on Hermione's shoulders. "You and Ron are my family. I didn't know how to handle time traveling or being friends with the people who no longer remembered the pain I was in. I didn't know how to be your friend and keep you- keep you innocent, young. Our time at Hogwarts was stolen. Neither of you are of age yet and you had been through enough as it was. How could I put this burden on you when I could keep you safe?"
"So why tell us now?" Hermione asked, voice softer but still angry.
"Because Luna was right, you needed to know why I have been so distant, why I don't confide in you like I used to. I still care about the both you. I am still your friend, things are just different than they used to be. I am different than I used to be."
"Luna is a year younger than us? Why did you think you could burden her?" Ron asked, confused and hurt more than he was angry.
"Luna watched her mother die, you both have your parents, your families, you have a safe home to go back to that isn't a constant reminder of past tragedies."
"And did that change in the future?" Ron asked.
Harry didn't say anything.
The blood drained from Ron's face, his freckles standing out like pepper on white rice. "Who?" he asked weakly.
"Don't ask me, Ron, please, don't ask me that, not now, not ever. Let it be enough that I came back and have done everything in power to ensure that the future I came from never happens again. The Heads of House, Amelia Bones, people know the worst that could happen. It will not happen the way it did in my time."
Hermione hugged him then.
"Don't leave us again, Harry," she said between the tears, "please, just don't leave us, again."
Harry wrapped his arms around her shaking shoulders as she began to sob.
Ron came around then, hugging both Hermione and Harry with his long arms. "We've missed you mate."
"I'm sorry," Harry said into the curls of Hermione's bushy hair. "I am so sorry."
People who know Harry is from the future: Filius Flitwick, Sirius Black, Luna Lovegood, Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall, Poppy Pomfrey, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. Keep in mind that Minerva, Poppy, Hermione, and Ron only know parts of the full truth.
Amelia knows about the Dark Lord's connection with the Dementors, which I think is part of the reason why she was killed so early in the books.
AN: Looks at self, looks at the outline, looks at the audience; didn't plan to write that now but apparently, Harry missed his friends. My characters ignore that I am their god, often. It's like they think they have free will or something. Also, I realized how not whimsical Luna was in this chapter. She wasn't in love in canon, caring more about people even for people like Luna would make her more stressed out. I am having far to much fun writing this story. I have my plot and I really do feel like I am playing chess. Technically, the good side is smarter, more well informed, and ahead of the Dark Lord which is the reverse of the set up in canon. But my twist is rather than having Voldemort playing a stationary king, he has all the powers of the queen and is rocking the board. Sorry for the metaphor, I really do play chess.
Please, please review?
Chapter 26: Relief
"So prepare for the coup of the century
Be prepared for the murkiest scam
Decades of denial
Is simply why I'll
Be king undisputed
And seen for the wonder I am
Yes, our teeth and ambitions are bared
-Scar, Brother to Mufasa
Chapter 26 - Relief
Albus Dumbledore was not pleased to hear from Severus that Tom Riddle had the ability to jump bodies. In addition to Severus delivering the news in less than a timely fashion, the news itself was catastrophically bad. He was even less pleased when he finally got a hold of the literature that both Tom and Lily Potter had used.
So much for love being the solution.
Necromancy combined with the Dark Arts and Soul Magic was not love, even if the motivation for dear Lily using such magic had been.
The book he had found it in was one of the books he had taken off the shelves the moment he had become Headmaster. Such a book should not even be in the restricted book, because at least one student in every century had the potential to be like Tom. Of course, Albus was not all that innocent either. He had read this book or skimmed, although he had never tried to use these spells or even break down the theory behind them.
He was now and the results were…
Albus sighed and sat back in his chair. Half the book was written in old English, as in the type of English that was more like a loose representation of language that if spoken aloud sounded more like trying to eat rocks than speech.
The other half was written in Runes, the archaic language among Wizards that had gone out style because Latin was easier than trying to make sounds that could not be pronounced with a human tongue. The Runes they taught in class was only the written work, not the spoken, living language that it had once been.
It was a mark of how brilliant Lily Potter had been, as well as Severus who had introduced her to this path of research, that someone who hadn't even reached thirty could decipher the meaning much less the accurate instructions to perform high arcane magic.
The curse Lily had used for Harry was remarkable and heartbreaking. Using her own murder/death as the catalyst she was able to create an anchor for Harry's soul -so long as Harry choose to come back after the murderer who killed him was the same way who killed her in the same way, in this instance, the killing curse. Though Albus was unsure if it the killing curse was the only spell that Harry was protected against or if the killing curse was the only spell that could kill while keeping the body intact. There were some sentences that could be translated in a number of ways. It seemed that if Harry's body was destroyed that his soul would be unable to re-animate it.
Albus's plans for Harry might have worked, but not for the reasons he had come to believe.
The chapters on possession and soul eating were also in the ancient runes section, and Albus could only be grateful that Tom had not kept this book in his youth or taken the time to fully absorb the contents.
There was no cost, well aside from ethical issues of taking over another's life or eating someone's soul. Tom had enough strength left in his soul piece -after who knew how many horcruxes, his suspicion confirmed from hints Harry had left him and this book with Tom's signature in the library card.
Tom could jump to body to body without any outward signs of which body he was in. The one sign that might become obvious was if he ate the person's soul rather than double inhabited a body. The moment a body was completely soulless, everyone would know.
The book theorized in the closing summary that this was how the original Dementors were born; weak, evil, hungry, magically gifted humans who had acquired a taste for eating others' souls and the power rush it gave them. A steady diet of souls and misery could keep them alive until they ran out of food.
It was not a comforting thought, because Tom Riddle was many things, weak was not one of them. If a weak wizard or witch became a dementor by eating souls what would someone like the Dark Lord Tom Riddle become?
Albus stroked Fawkes' feathers. It would be better if Tom stopped eating souls and just choose a single host. Then it would only be that host who had to die to stop him.
The prospect of him being able to just blithely body hop, taking on the life of the host seamlessly was not something Albus knew how to fight against. One moment he might be a student going home for the summer, the next he could be Head of the Department of Law Enforcement and in the next, he might be the Minister of Magic. And who was to say who would Tom kill along the way?
It was something only a very intelligent, powerful, madman might even consider being able to have the strength and fortitude to pull off. Tom might be such a man, or as Albus should think, such a creature, because no person -of any redeemable quality, had the right to do what this book only theorized about and remain a human being. No, Tom was not the abandoned orphan boy Albus had met all the years ago, he was a remorseless monster.
Luna's hand was shaking too much to write in her diary that morning. Again her nightmare had fled her waking memory but she felt it still.
The stones of Hogwarts were aching. The shadows were deeper. In her waking and resting hours, she could not escape that sense that something terrible was coming.
She went down early to breakfast and ran into Harry along the way.
As in she ran at him when she saw him ahead of her.
He jumped when her body crashed into the back of his, but with a laugh, he turned and wrapped his arms around her.
Luna buried her face into his shoulder, he felt so safe. She breathed him in, the last vestiges of her nightmare releasing her as she relaxed in his embrace.
Harry kissed her temple, "You okay?"
She could only nod but she continued to hold onto him. Harry, being the wonderful person that she had come to love, didn't try to pull away. He held her, not rushing her even as people began to walk around them to go to breakfast.
Harry began rubbing her back. "Luna?" he asked, worry clear in his voice.
She pulled back then and grabbing his hand, pulled him along towards the food, "Let's eat."
Harry gave her a searching looking but he didn't press. The last few weeks had been tense. Anticipation was high, waiting for what Voldemort would do next and Harry had come to learn that Luna's way of handling that stress was extra hugs and having his hand in hers at every opportunity.
Harry didn't seem to mind, Luna had noticed, but then Harry didn't complain about much of anything these days. Luna thought he was just burying his fear about what Voldemort would do, while another part of her granted that he might just be trying to enjoy the moment. Or maybe both reasons were a form of denial, but Luna was glad for his ever ready smile and comfort that he was able to give her. Luna had always been the strong one, the first few years after her mother's death, Luna had to ensure that she and her father ate, that they both got dressed, that her dad talked about something other than work.
One night, about a week after Mum's death Dad had gotten so drunk that he had yelled at her. Asked why she hadn't stopped her mum from putting in that last deadly ingredient. He hadn't remembered saying that the next day, and he had never gotten drunk after that night. But those words had stuck with her, made her question everything around her, see and be aware everything lest she miss-step, miss the signs like she had with her mum.
Whether Harry was pretending to be strong, cool and collected, or whether he was just that mature didn't matter so very much when it meant that she didn't have to be the strong one, meant that she was not responsible or wrong for being emotional and not being able to understand everything.
Today was the day of the Quidditch match, McGonagall ensuring that all the teams got to play and practice again, despite Umbridge's attempts to take the fun out of Hogwarts. The decrees were getting worse and worse.
If they were going by the rules, Harry and Luna were not supposed to hold hands anymore. But only Umbridge and Filch actively enforced rules like that. The one rule that had become quite bothersome was the one that stated that students couldn't sit at a table that didn't belong to their table. So Harry and Luna had to sit on separate benches and straddle the bench to still be able to have a conversation during meals.
Something that Umbridge had not figured out a way to stop, yet.
Luna really couldn't wait until BBCE started their master plan to get Umbridge out of Hogwarts.
Luna was sitting beside Sirius, watching the lights refract around him, like bonfire or electric crackles. The man was so happy and such a powerful wizard that he seemed to vibrate with his own energy.
Luna liked Sirius a lot, Sirius had roared with laughter and praised her for her lion headed hat.
"Go Harry!" Sirius cheered when Harry caught the quaffle which a Hufflepuff chaser had dropped after he got hit in the gut with a bludger.
He tossed it gracefully to one of the Gryffindor chasers before continuing to zoom around the field. Luna appreciated quidditch, but she appreciated the sight of her handsome boyfriend in his element more.
Hufflepuff was losing. Ron as keeper doing a good job for this match.
Ron and Hermione had been nicer to her lately. Now that they were in on the secret of the time traveling they seemed more at peace. Although, Hermione wasn't a peaceful person and she was nearly as worried about Voldemort as Luna was.
Ron, well, Ron was helping Harry stay blissfully unconcerned of the whole Dark Lord topic.
"He is really good," Sirius told her for the dozenth time.
Luna smiled at him, not at all perturbed with his repetition, "Yes, he is."
"James would have been so proud of him. Lily would be rolling her eyes, saying something about not everything is about Quidditch."
"Harry's top of the year."
Sirius winked at her, "He's top in the school, I'd wager."
He was probably right, Harry was breathtaking in his magic. If flying was element then magic was his blood. Luna loved watching him perform spells, he made the magic seem more alive even as the magic brought him alive.
She smiled at the memory of their patronuses dancing together. She knew Harry's memory was of that day they had found the hippogryph herd and she had told him as they had flown over the woods that they would be together for the holidays. Her own happy memory was of the day he had reluctantly followed her into the Forbidden Forest and they had played with the thestrals. Harry hadn't liked being in the Forest that day, but he had stayed because he had wanted to spend time with her.
Though she wasn't sure those were her happiest memories with Harry, seeing as most -if not all, of her memories and time spent with Harry were pretty wonderful.
As if summoned by her thoughts, Harry whushed by their stand, blowing her a kiss, causing Sirius to bark, which was his fascinating way of laughing.
Hermione who was sitting on Luna's other side elbowed her and said, "Aawwww."
Blushing, Luna grinned at the older girl.
"Seems Harry inherited his father's charm, too," Sirius commented once he got a hold of himself.
"I always thought Harry would be really awkward with girls. He tends to be shy," Hermione remarked.
"Well, James most certainly wasn't shy, neither was Lily come to think of it."
"Harry's a natural leader, but he doesn't like the light with limes," Luna said.
Hermione coughed and corrected, "Limelight."
"Yes," Luna agreed, "The lights with limes."
"No," Hermione said patiently, "Lime like the mineral they used for ligh- Never mind, it's not important. You're right that Harry doesn't like to be the center of attention."
"He seems okay out there," Sirius said, watching Harry dive straight down.
"But this is Quidditch. Harry lost all the bones in his arm once and it didn't even cross his mind that quidditch might be too dangerous of a game to play," Hermione said.
"Quidditch isn't dangerous," Sirius said with sincerity.
Lavender Brown screamed as Harry pulled out of his dive at an angle so that his left shoulder brushed the ground.
"No," Hermione said sarcastically, "Quidditch isn't dangerous at all."
"Okay," Sirius said with a grin, "Maybe it's a little dangerous but not really that dangerous. I am mean a little danger is why it's fun to play."
"You know aside from last year when Quidditch was put on hold for a year, Harry has nearly died at least once per year during a Quidditch match."
"He hasn't this year," Sirius said cheerfully.
"There's still time," Hermione said darkly.
Luna hunched her shoulders. "Harry will be alright the skies and winds like him." She had heard them singing to him when she had flown with him.
Harry went out with Sirius after Gryffindor won the match. Luna spent that Saturday afternoon reading a muggle novel about gods in America sitting on the ledge of the owlery with Hedwig. It was Harry's secret spot that he had shared with her. She liked this spot a lot as it let her see the forest and the lake in relative privacy. When Hedwig was around, she was always welcome.
She was just getting to the part with 'the House on the Rock's famous carousel' when Hedwig bit her ear.
"Ow," Luna exclaimed, putting a hand to her ear, coming away with a spot of blood. "Hedwig," Luna chided.
Hedwig glared at her with her amber eyes and Luna dropped her book.
"Harry?" she asked. Noticing the dancing the shadows, hearing the infernal Nargles giggling at her.
Luna swung herself in through the window and was running before she knew where she was going.
Hedwig watched after her sadly, only knowing that her master had ordered her to stay safe even if it meant staying away.
"Colin?" Luna heard Harry's voice question.
She came around the corner and saw only the back of Colin Creevey who was holding up his camera towards her boyfriend.
Harry looked over the boy's head, and upon spotting her and he smiled warmly. She slowed her run, feeling that something was wrong but not able to see what.
Harry looked back at the young Gryffindor, "Don't you have enough pictures of me?"
"Not quite." The voice belonged to the boy, the tone of the words did not.
Luna was almost to Harry when the light of a camera bulb flashed, causing Harry to blink and stagger back.
"Harry!" Luna called reaching out to him.
Colin staggered back, "Harry? Loon- er Lovegood, um I- I'm just going to go." The boy ran away from the two strangest people at Hogwarts, not remembering how or why he had been there to begin with.
"Harry?" Luna said again, gently, as he blinked the stars out of his eyes.
The light around him dimmed, and the one within him sputtered as if he was a candle flickering under a cover that was beginning to snuff him out.
Harry looked up her and her entire world collapsed around her. Looking into his green eyes, she didn't see her Harry anymore. She saw that withered, vile thing from her long ago forgotten nightmare. She turned away from him, she needed to get help. Flitwick would help, or Snape…
Luna glanced over her shoulder and knew the time for saving anyone was long passed.
Voldemort laughter encompassed Harry's consciousness. He was laughing at them as the Holy Wand was raised against the woman he loved.
Harry screamed inside the prison of his own mind.
Not Luna! Not my Luna!
And with all the will and power he had, Harry attacked his own mind. Unable to locate where Voldemort was, he struck out at everything.
He was too late, however, Voldemort's strike had already hit its mark.
Harry's world faded into blackness.
Harry woke in the hospital wing. His scar hurting, his mind throbbing, he summoned his glasses without his wand, a trick Luna insisted he practice.
He looked around wildly for her.
"Lay back down, Mr. Potter," Poppy instructed.
But Harry didn't listen to her, his sole focus was narrowed on the cot next to his where Luna lay, eyes closed, white curls fanning out around her.
"Luna-" Harry gasped.
His headache was getting worse, the phantom pain in his scar near blinding. But he had to get to her, he had to know she was alive. He didn't know what the world would come to if he hadn't been able to prevent her death. He didn't remember a green light. Merlin, he hoped there hadn't been a green light.
She looked so beautiful lying there, yet so frightfully still. Was she breathing? Did her chest just move?
He reached out his hand toward Luna. If he could just hold her hand…
"She's alright, Mr. Potter. In a cursed sleep, but otherwise unharmed. She is only asleep, she is fine, I promise you that, Harry."
Harry fell back onto the cot, his hand still reaching toward her. A wave of relief overcame him, and it was that relief that was his downfall.
Voldemort emerged from the depths of his mind like some dark leviathan exploring outside its cave. In Harry's relief, in relaxing his guard, he had allowed for the opening Voldemort needed to take control.
Luna's sleeping face was the last sight Harry saw before his mind and body were taken completely hostage.
AN: And if you think you hate me now, just wait. Learn to enjoy the cliff hangings because I am holding the next few chapters hostage for people's comments and reactions because that is kind of mood I'm in ;)
P.S. If you plan to flay me because you didn't like this chapter, remember you cannot have the happy ending if I stop writing.
Chapter 27: The Heir of Salazar Slytherin
Trg WARNING: The next few chapters will be intimately challenging. I like writing in a way that feels realistic or reasonable to me. If I make myself uncomfortable or giddy or sad or angry that is what I will share because if I wasn't interested or challenged I wouldn't write it. That being said, I am putting an 80 something-year-old demon into a traumatized 18-year-old. Voldemort is evil and is forcibly taking over Harry's mind and body. Please read with caution, I may be a bastard but I do not want to cause anyone undue harm.
AN: I knew you would be angry so I rolled with it, but do not assume you can dictate how fast I can write. I am a slow writer but I have been putting a lot of time into this story because it has been burning in my mind to push ahead with it. Once I have a chapter presentable, I post it. But please keep in mind that I am college senior with seven classes and have a part-time job, and I will be moving to another city I have never been to before for grad school. I wrote the last few chapters while I was sick and during finals week in my break time. I am not saying you can't be upset with me, but please be mindful that if I wasn't a crazy person who pushed himself past his limits, you wouldn't have these chapters at all.
Much love for those of you hanging in there.
P.S. Things will remain PG-13 but implications and imagined fallouts could be worse depending on how you interpret it. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Chapter 27 - The Heir of Slytherin
Voldemort leaned over Luna. His lips, hovering over hers, but not close enough to touch.
"That's all it would take," Voldemort whispered.
Harry growled at him. Of course, Harry's growl was quite silent. The 'sound' of Harry's voice was merely a thought in Voldemort's awareness.
Two consciouses, two wills, two minds, two chains of memory, two magical cores, one brain, one body, one soul and one demon. It wasn't Harry in the driver's seat, but he still felt the soft exhalation of Luna's breath against his stolen face.
Voldemort pulled back, Pity only two people love her, she is such a pretty little thing. He ran a hand down her cheek, her throat, across her collarbone-
Harry slammed everything that was left of himself into the metaphysical box he was being kept in.
Voldemort eased back with a chuckle, Harry's efforts to fight back were futile.
Stay away from her, Harry snarled.
Your love for her is a weakness. It would raise too many questions if she died. It is bad enough that she was somehow able to spot me, but it is of no matter. People will be expecting you to act closed off, worrying, grieving for your beloved. It will give me the time to learn you, to become you.
Harry's response was immediate, you sick fuck.
Yes, but you had best get used to. You and I shall be together until the end of your days when you older than Albus Dumbledore, and then I will devour you.
Harry stayed quiet trying vainly to gather himself, to find some way of gathering control.
You've lost, Potter. Live with it.
"Get away from her!" A man shouted running into the room.
Voldemort stepped back, letting his expression fill with the torment and confusion that Harry was currently feeling.
The man, Xenophilius Lovegood, the girl's father ran across the room, wand raised at Voldemort. He put himself between Luna and Voldemort, his free hand grasping his daughter's.
"What happened to her?" Xenophilius demanded.
Voldemort felt amusement, watching the fool try to check on his daughter's state of well being while also trying to fend off her boyfriend. Voldemort answered with Harry's voice, Harry's pain, "I don't know, we were on the third floor and someone attacked us from behind. I don't know what happened, I just remember falling and seeing Luna fall as well."
Xenophilius lowered his wand, sitting on the side of Luna's bed. Running a hand over her hair. When he looked back at Voldemort it was a look of such sorrow and rage that Voldemort couldn't be anything but absolutely delighted. He hadn't even had to hurt the girl to get such a marvelous reaction.
But like a sour aftertaste on the back of his tongue was Harry's revolution at Voldemort's emotions and empathy for Xenophilius's pain.
"This is your fault," Xenophilius said.
Voldemort was ready to kill the man, How did these people keep spotting me? Yet from Harry's thoughts, Voldemort understood that Lovegood wasn't accusing him of cursing his daughter but for putting her in harm's way.
"I'm sorry," Voldemort said, "I never wanted this to happen. I-"
"Leave." Xenophilius turned his back on Voldemort to focus on his cursed spawn.
Voldemort wanted to kill him for daring to give an order to the Dark Lord, but his good cheer was salvaged when the father kissed his daughter's forehead.
Only two people in this world love her, Voldemort purred at Harry in his mental prison box. I will never kiss her and her father is unlikely to kiss his unconscious daughter on the lips. True love's kiss. Such an old curse, but no one thinks to use it anymore and as such no one will think of the cure. Only the fairy tales take it seriously.
Harry's response was weak, It sounds like something Dumbledore would figure out.
Better hope he doesn't. It may cause me some amount of inconvenience, but I will kill her if she wakes up.
I am going to kill you, Harry thought back as Voldemort left the hospital wing.
You'll try but you will f-
The memories of Harry destroying his horcruxes flooded his mind, and Voldemort stumbled mid-step, having to reach a hand out to the wall. It was lucky that no one was around to see his reaction, because the expression upon finding out that all of his soul pieces were destroyed, was not an expression Harry Potter had ever made.
Looks like you're a free soul, Harry thought snarkily, what's left of it anyway.
How did you- but with the thought came the memories.
Blindly, Voldemort made his way down the hall finding an empty room. He sank into a dusty chair.
"You're a time traveler," Voldemort said out loud as he watched his horcruxes die twice over, well most of them.
"You walked to your own death," he said in disbelief. "Dumbledore set you up to die? You're both morons. Oh, but I was so close to winning that war. Your death would have secured it."
I was one of your horcruxes, Harry thought at him even as Voldemort felt Harry's agreement.
Yes, I had planned to use your death to make the Gryffindor's Sword into one of my horcruxes. But your mother's curse had an unforeseen blowback.
You had the sword? Harry thought but then he learned what Voldemort knew of Soul Magic and it was his turn to be shocked.
Yes, Severus Snape was a greater influence on your mother than any had imagined.
Which is when Voldemort learned the truth about his most trusted pet spy.
It was a day of ups and downs for the Dark Lord, though it was sure to be other people who were going to pay for the downs.
Much as Voldemort had protected, no one noticed 'Harry's' slightly inconsistent mannerisms or his quiet, introspective mood.
The love of his life was in the hospital wing. Nobody asked if 'Harry' was alright they gave him sympathy and encouragements that Luna would be okay and Madame Pomfrey would fix her up in no time.
If it wasn't for Voldemort's amusement at how simple it was to take over the golden boy he would have gone on a rampage with their condescending fretting.
Starting with killing Snape.
That night, Voldemort lay awake exploring Harry's memories.
His horcruxes were gone. All his loyal Death Eaters were dead. The living ones could not be trusted.
After graduation, neither the Malfoys nor Snape would live long.
As a time traveler, Harry had made use of his time. The teachers seemed to have pulled their heads out of their asses and the Hogwarts students were indeed more united than Voldemort would have ever imagined possible. Harry had also managed to turn his fame to leadership. Being a teacher of the DADA, worked perfectly for Voldemort's purpose, out of sight of the staff was better still.
Voldemort was back at the beginning, back to his own time as a student when learning magic and gathering followers had been his sole focus.
Strangely, it seemed that Filius Flitwick would be the person he would have to watch out for the most. Sure, Dumbledore was powerful but his apparent disregard for Harry's well being more or less neutralised the old man as a threat.
Voldemort sighed, this would be somewhat of a tedious process but then again, snuggling under the covers in his new athletic, young, and famous body, it could certainly be worse.
He fell asleep as the sun was rising.
Harry's thoughts and emotions were playing second fiddle to Voldemort's.
What was he? What made Harry, Harry? His magic, his body, his memory, his mind- nothing belonged to him anymore. Harry's soul had been put in a cage, becoming a bystander to his own life and as the creature that taken over that life fell asleep, Harry found that not even in sleep was he given freedom.
His dreams, Voldemort's dreams, their dreams were filled with snakes and castle walls.
Voldemort rose late, dredging his way through the emotional weight Harry was oozing out.
Voldemort was not used to this level of emotions. Well, he was used to inflicting them, but not feeling them for himself. It took more work than was expected to box the boy's emotions down, the result of that mental exertion made him hungry and sour.
A Hufflepuff girl, Susan, a Bones, he was disgusted to note, came over to sit with him at the Gryffindor table.
Which is when the unforgivable happened, she hugged Lord Voldemort.
It took all his fortitude to not shove her off and kill her right then. Rather stiffly, he hugged her back.
Susan squeezed him tight before letting go, "Luna is going to be alright."
You will not be, Voldemort silently vowed. I am going to murder you and your aunt.
"Thanks," Voldemort muttered.
Harry chuckled at Voldemort's ire.
Taking a deep breath, Voldemort realized at almost the same moment Harry did, that if Harry shoved enough emotion at Voldemort or angered him enough he might break character.
Voldemort nipped that idea in the bud. Remember, Potter, I may not be in a position to kill you, but I have an entire school full of victims to choose from. You are not trapped in here with me, they are trapped here with us. You may be willing to sacrifice yourself. But I see you and you are stupid enough to care for all of them.
Harry's thought came through unbidden, How am supposed to beat someone who can feel my emotions and knows my thoughts as I do?
That's the point, Potter, you can't.
Sullen Harry watched in silence as Voldemort fielded condolences for Luna, pretending he wasn't the evil pussbucket who had cursed her.
Hermione asked, "Harry, who attacked you both? What do you remember?"
"I don't remember," Voldemort said, "One moment we were walking down the hall and the next were falling. I woke up and Luna didn't." His tone of voice was sad and angry just as Harry would have said it.
Harry found it disturbing that in less than twenty-four hours the Dark Lord was already able to mimic his behaviors, but then he did have the advantage of having unrestricted access to Harry's moods and memories.
Voldemort had enough of Harry's babble and shoved him harder into his box.
Voldemort's stomach growled in response.
Hermione pulled food onto Voldemort's plate.
"Eat," she ordered.
Voldemort wanted to backhand the Mudblood. But he was growing hungry enough, and a headache was beginning to build from mental exertion and lack of sugar that he bit into his bacon.
He almost groaned from the pleasure of it. Fourteen years without a true body, fourteen years of living amongst the fringes of society, eating poisons and blood to survive. Food, real food was a simple joy that he forgotten about. He only just kept his expression controlled.
Potions was simple. He stayed focus on his work and didn't look up at Snape. His work was excellent, Snape ignored him.
It was the norm Voldemort was all too happy to comply with.
Arithmancy was likely to be the tricky class. As Luna used to sit at their table and Voldemort, unlike Harry, was more than proficient at intermediate Arithmancy.
The Bones girl babbled happily with the false assumption that she could cheer him up. Blessedly, the Slytherin girl kept her mouth shut and focused on the work at hand.
Harry spent his time in his prison learning Arithmancy from Voldemort's thoughts as they arose. While Voldemort had full access to Harry's everything, the reverse was not true. Voldemort didn't stop Harry from hearing his thoughts, although he did have the skill in Occlumency to shield his memories from Harry.
At lunch, Voldemort ate heartily, which even done with a somber expression, turned out to be the first red flag against him.
Harry Potter handled anxiety and depression by not eating. But Voldemort couldn't skip meals if he wanted to avoid headaches and continue to cage Harry without a battle.
"Luna was telling me I needed to eat more when were attacked," Voldemort lied after Hermione questioned his appetite.
Her brown eyes softened and she nodded in understanding, "Luna would want you to stay healthy."
Luna would want me not to be possessed, Harry thought.
Voldemort gave the black skinned Mudblood a half smile. "I just want her to wake up soon."
"She will, Harry, and we will find out who attacked you both."
Voldemort nodded and returned to his sandwich.
Do you honestly believe you can pretend to be me forever? Harry asked.
I am you, Voldemort answered, everyone changes. Hell, I can use your lost love and need for revenge against your 'attacker' as the reason you go dark.
Someone will recognize the truth, Harry thought.
Will they? Voldemort hissed into their mind, the parselmouth that should have been sorted into Slytherin. You are nearly as qualified as me to be the Heir of Slytherin, if you hadn't killed my Basilisk that is. A wizard with the power of Albus Dumbledore and under the guardianship of a Black. If I take my time, the change will be natural. I remember how to be charming and with your good looks and saviour attributes, it will be ever so easy to make ripples in society. Ripples that then turn into waves and soon this world will be under my ocean. The name Harry Potter will not be synonymous with the Boy Who Lived, rather the Man Who Conquered.
Harry thought, My friends wouldn't believe it. They would never go to the dark side.
Patience, my sweet pet, you will have a ringside seat to my revolution. Your united Hogwarts will be united under me and this fractured government that seeks to rule us is ripe for the taking. Everyone is afraid that the Dark Lord is coming back, that fear will grow and fester and they will be all too willing to hand over power to the young man who saved them in the past, who offers them the safety in the future.
Harry wanted to argue, but he had seen Voldemort come to power once before and it had been a swift, bloody take over because their government and society had been that fractured. Harry could not pretend that if Voldemort introduced change slowly and acquired power before he becomes a radical that indeed, he would be as -if not more successful.
That's right, Potter, I will be successful, because in the end I will always win, and you, you will always lose that which is most precious to you.
Harry had grown to believe that by time traveling had been given a second chance at life, been gifted with a better future. He had never felt more like the sacrificial lamb as he did then.
AN: Now off to finish the rest of my finals. Luna, Hedwig, Sirius, and the Twins are all going to be okay. George will even get to keep both his ears. I am pretty sure I can traumatize you all well enough without needlessly killing off my own favorite characters. Not that I am not capable of it, because I have written stories where I kill the MC, but that is not where I am going with Easier than Falling Asleep.
P.S. Ideally, you should be a bit confused because Harry certainly is.
Chapter 28: But Why is the Rum Gone?
AN: It isn't godmoding if there are a million and two ways to kill Harrymort (lol chc91776), you just don't want to consider all the ways to kill Tommy that involves killing Harry. Many of you also seem to want Tom to be stupid and everyone else to be uber smart. Sorry, but I like my villains intelligent and my heroes pushed past their comfort zones.
P.S. I will agree that initially Tom looks like he is godmoding, but remember that one of the side effects of soul magic might be becoming a Dementor. There will be long term costs to Voldemort's schemes (you know, aside from splicing his soul and becoming the definition of evil).
TRG WARNING: please read with caution.
Chapter 28 - But Why the Rum Gone?
Light and shadow. A world of light and shadow. The lights, oh, but the lights.
She had lived in a world of other things, where light and shadow were the looks of things not the meat of things.
"I must be dreaming," Luna said out loud.
She giggled when her words caused flowers to bloom. Luna began to wander this dreamscape, not knowing how she had gotten here and not caring.
Each step flipped the world from day to night. A brilliant array of stars whirling like the faces of spinning coin with a blazing sunrise as she began to run through a field of tall grass.
She laughed wildly and the wind echoed her, wrapping around her like a long lost friend. The wind whipped her blonde curls around her, and Luna began to dance, feeling the wind lift her up so that her feet only barely touched the ground. She was weightless.
For moments, for hours, for days she danced. The stars left the sky to join her dance, they flickered around her fireflies made of jewels.
No matter how long she danced her energy and strength did not dim. So it was from the habit of living a mortal life that she rested, laying in a field of grass that was softer than any mattress she had ever been on.
She watched the stars fluid change between being earthbound and rejoining the Persian-blue tapestry of the midnight heavens.
Luna was so happy, she could stay here forever.
Forever and always.
The thought startled her. A memory at last. But she could not place the origin of those words only the feeling behind them.
Closing her eyes, she whispered, "I love you, every bit of you."
When next she opened her eyes the sky was cobalt blue with white rolling fluffy clouds. She was lost for a moment, staring at the clouds swallowing one another as the winds chased them across the world.
Luna shook her head. She needed to remember how she got here. She was in love, there were people who loved her, she needed to get back to them, and for that, she needed to remember where they had been.
For the first time since 'waking,' she felt a trickle of disquiet. Had they been in danger? Who were they? These people who were supposed loved her?
No one could ever love someone like me.
A soft hand touched her cheek.
Luna opened her eyes.
"My dear daughter."
Luna began to cry and sitting up, she flung herself into her mother's arms.
"Mum," she sobbed.
"I love you, my little moon, I love you," her beloved mother murmured into her hair.
Luna didn't understand why she was crying, she was home, finally home. The other world was cruel, heartless, loveless.
This is where she belonged.
There was no other world but this one.
This was reality.
This is where she had always been and would always be.
Voldemort was learning people skills from Harry. It was true that Voldemort could be charming and was a master of deceit and manipulation. But teaching children…
Harry didn't want to help him but after Neville blew himself backward into Voldemort after Voldemort's rather limited explanation of how to use a repelling charm, Voldemort had been ready to 'accidentally' murder someone.
So Harry gave Voldemort the right words to say because Harry doubted that anyone in this group, aside from perhaps Hermione, could act quick enough to defend anyone. Which was less of criticism of his students' abilities and more his fear as their teacher who would never want to put any of them up against the Dark Lord.
With Harry's help, the class was running smoothly within the next ten minutes.
Voldemort was somewhat annoyed that he had needed extra assistance from Harry that he hadn't been able to extract from simply reading the boy's memories and thoughts.
Harry tapped metaphysical fingers against the imaginary bars of his cage. I think you need me and that by needing me I will find a way to overthrow you.
Voldemort snarled internally back at him, And how many casualties will it take before you submit to me completely? There is nothing stopping me from slaughtering everyone in this room.
Harry would say that such an action would uproot all of his plans, but Voldemort's thought of, I can always make more plans, stopped him.
Fred and George approached Voldemort after the Bird Shit club.
Voldemort hated children, why he ever believed he could teach was beyond him. The in all fairness he wasn't the same person he had been sixty years ago.
"So stage one of our plans start this Monday. It took us longer for the supplies to come in than we anticipated. We ordered," Fred said.
"Two months ago," George said.
It took a moment for Voldemort to weed out the memory. "Umbridge will not stand a chance," Voldemort said. He didn't smile but neither of the twins had been expecting a smile, not with Luna still in the hospital wing and no cure on the horizon.
"She hates you the most-"
"So you have to be in her line of sight the whole time-"
"-but we will wait for your signal."
How do you tell them apart? And then Voldemort was able to see the little differences and personality quirks between them.
Harry's insight into others emotions could be bothersome at times but it added color to the people around him in such a way that could also be very useful.
Understandings people's emotions, rather than just being able to pick out the patterns of weakness was going to make manipulating people in future all the easier.
Harry thought of all the things Voldemort could do to him, that taking a shower would be the least of his worries.
The sensation of his own hands moving across his body under the spray of too hot water was unnerving.
Unnerving because as much as it was his body, he was no longer the one in control and he wasn't the only one feeling that touch.
Voldemort smirked, "You don't like this, Potter?"
Harry cussed at him.
Voldemort slowed down as he scrubbed conditioner into his black hair.
Harry felt disgust and shame.
That week, Friday night, Voldemort knocked on the door to Severus's private office for his 'occlumency' lessons.
Severus opened the door and beckoned him in.
"How are you, Harry?" Severus asked.
It was one of the first times Harry had ever heard Snape call him by his first name.
Voldemort hid a grin, turning to check the walls for portraits or hidden wards under the pretense of hiding his hurt feelings. "Madame Pomfrey hasn't found a cure yet."
Severus sighed, "Neither have I. I know it isn't a potion and the longer she stays asleep the more it looks like it is a dark curse."
Voldemort turned to him, not quite meeting the taller wizard's gaze. "Do you think it was him?"
You realize he is going to see through you, right? Harry asked. Snape of anyone he knew was not going to fall for this scam.
Snape answered in a grave tone, "Yes, I believe it was the Dark Lord. I believe he has found someone to possess to get into Hogwarts. There was a Hogsmeade weekend last week and the students… One of them must have brought him back with him. But no one has dropped to the ground soulless, yet, so it just a matter of finding him."
"How do you think you can kill him without killing the host?"
Snape pinched his nose as he sank into a seat behind his desk. "I have no idea. Perhaps if we can petrify the student somehow so the Dark Lord can't simply hop to a new host. But honestly, if he is eating souls like a Dementor the host would be beyond any hope of saving."
Voldemort remained quiet, laughing at Harry as he pushed against his prison with all his might.
Severus sighed again, looking up at Voldemort. "There is much I don't understand, Mr. Potter. Least of all why he would sneak up on you and attack Ms. Lovegood. Why would he curse her and leave you unhar-"
Severus's words caught in his throat when he looked into emerald eyes that held distinctly un-Harry-like malevolence.
He reached for his wand too late.
Smiling, Voldemort pocketed Severus's wand and bound Severus into his chair. The Holly Wand's strikes were barely visible. Eighty years in a fifteen year old youth, speed and agility were on his side.
"Far too little, far too late, my pet," Voldemort taunted, stalking towards the constricted professor.
Voldemort grabbed the man's face from under the jaw. "You fooled me for a long time, Severus Snape, but instead of choosing the winning side you decided to be Dumbledore's little bitch."
Severus glared at him, rage and sorrow swimming in his onyx eyes.
Harry was quivering with fear in his own cell, if Snape was gone then he wasn't sure who could help him. Who could save him, who would be left to help him who had enough of an understanding of the Dark Arts?
"Harry thinks I am going to kill you," Voldemort purred at Severus.
Eyes going wide, Severus gasped, "He's alive?"
Voldemort backhanded him.
"You will address me as Lord or Sir. But to answer your question, yes, the Boy Who Lived, lives still, in a fashion."
"Harry can beat you," Severus snarled.
Voldemort laughed, his voice rich and drawn out like Harry's laughter would have sounded, if he were a maniacal twit.
"No, he can't, he's tried, but what was it he said to you? Ah, I remember, you're a shit teacher."
Severus's eyes widened further, "You have-"
"All of his memories. Yes indeed. I know how you betrayed me and why you did it."
Severus shook his head pulling on his restraints but he was as trapped as Harry. Alright, not quite that trapped, but enough so that he couldn't fight the Dark Lord.
"What are you going to do?"
Voldemort backhanded his other cheek. The sound of flesh against flesh was loud in the otherwise silent room.
Severus who had long ago given up on his attachment to pride in the Dark Lord's service, rephrased, "What are you going to do, Sir?"
Voldemort leaned back from the man, "I am going to do what I did in my own youth. I am going to start a new following from the ground up."
"What did you did you do to Ms. Lovegood?" Severus asked, tacking on a hasty, "Sir."
Apparently, he had grown rusty in experiencing humiliation over the last fourteen years. Voldemort would enjoy reteaching him, over and over again.
"Sleeping Curse. The one that managed to make it into the muggle fairy tale books because the person does not age so long as the curse is on them despite visibly breathing."
Severus didn't know what to say to that but his face shouted his confusion even as he tried to regain his composure.
"You're wondering why I didn't just kill her. The answer is simple, Severus. She was too close to Harry. If she was the first and possibly, the only one to die over the next two years, my identity would always have a shadow of believable doubt. Asleep but alive, she is easily forgotten," Voldemort purred. "Of course, I will kill her if someone manages to wake her."
Severus frowned, "That curse doesn't always work. Not even with true love's kiss."
"No," Voldemort agreed, "Sometimes they die."
Harry railed at the idea, clawing, kicking, and sledgehammering his prison.
Voldemort's hand tightened around his wand and he pushed Harry down into his box harder.
"Sometimes the cursed one chooses to die rather than return to the world of the living when they are kissed. But that would not be my fault, not directly anyway."
You cursed her! Harry shouted, How much more direct can you get!?
The killing curse? Voldemort asked sarcastically.
"How are you able to possess him, Sir?"
"So many questions, Severus? Wanting to understand the full story before you are tortured to death?"
Harry hated seeing Snape like this.
Get used to seeing people helpless and at my mercy.
But the sad thing was Harry was already used to it and still, he loathed it.
"Lily Potter," Voldemort said simply.
"What?" Severus asked.
This time Voldemort hit him with a spell that punched him in the gut like a thirty pound rough edged stone.
"What, Sir?" Severus wheezed.
"Lily Potter. When you two were fraternizing in school she developed an interest in researching the arcane. Magic so old that it is all considered dark magic by today's standards. She found a curse for soul binding at the price of her life. In the same field of study I found curses that have allowed me to eat souls, possess others at random without their knowing, and a possession curse that undermines Lily Potter's protection curse by pushing aside Harry's conciseness, I am neither hurting his soul or his body. Interesting, isn't it? That your little Mudblood whore came across the same studies I did while creating my Horcruxes? It makes me wonder what else you might know, what Albus knows." Voldemort reached out and grabbed Severus by the hair, pulling him out of his seat.
Harry was morbidly fascinated with the way that Snape's hair felt. It wasn't greasy at all, it was strangely silky.
Voldemort threw Severus to the ground and put his foot on the side of Severus's face. "You will tell me what you know."
The torture was not very effective. Severus was too stubborn to crack and nothing Voldemort could do to him that wouldn't leave some kind of mark or symptom was going change that.
If anything it was Harry who suffered more than Severus. A fact that was now giving Voldemort a splitting headache, as Harry had resorted to screaming to try a drown out the horror of what was being done.
"Would you shut up!?" Voldemort roared out loud though directed at Harry.
Harry screeched like a banshee, had the sound been physical it would have shattered eardrums.
Voldemort hissed and with a huge surge of energy, slammed Harry into a dark hole, bolting the way back out.
Severus who had been left on the ground to catch his breath coughed a laugh.
"Harry will beat you in the end. He's young and a slow learner but he has the strength and the heart to overcome you."
"By the time I am down with him, Harry Potter will not have a heart. He is mine, Severus, and once I break him in, he will never betray me as you have done. Harry will never be able to escape me."
"If you never show a pet love, they will always turn on you. And you have no concept of it."
"Love," Voldemort snarled. "Look where love got you, you miserable worthless-"
"I would have followed you to the end," Severus interrupted. "If you had but spared her."
"She wouldn't get out of the way."
"You could have stunned her."
Voldemort was silent for a long moment. It had just occurred to him, that by sparing the mother, Harry Potter would be dead and he would be ruling the world at this moment...
"Just kill me already, I have nothing left to give," Severus said.
Voldemort looked down at the man who had betrayed him, "No, I'm not finished with you quite yet."
Severus woke late Saturday night with a moan. He rolled onto his back with a pained grunt.
He couldn't remember how he had gotten there. He tried to sit up and promptly fell back to the ground. He had the mother of all headaches. When he tried to sit up again his elbow clattered an empty bottle of good muggle rum across the stone floor.
That would explain the headache, memory loss and the awful taste in his mouth. It would all come back to him, eventually... maybe. The pain in his body must have been from whatever fool thing he had done while blackout drunk.
He laid on the floor, hoping that whatever he had managed to do stuck in his office for a day he had managed to finish grading his stack of papers.
AN: The next chapters start to lighten up a bit, I realize the last three were heavy hitters but JKR's magic system isn't strong enough for me just skip over Voldemort establishing himself. Plus, I must confess, I enjoy writing the villains, especially when I manage to give myself the heebie jeebies. Let me know if you want more dreaming Luna? I am afraid I can't find a way to bring her back into the active plotline for a while because Voldemort would immediately kill her. Dreaming Luna is better than no more Luna ever. Plus Pandora Lovegood seems like she would be an awesome lady.
Thank you to my reviewers and to the haters I have to say I have you right where I want you. Mwahahaha!
Chapter 29: The Curse of the Jellyfish
RECAP: Voldemort is able to possess Harry with a curse that goes around Lily's Love/Curse which is what had stopped Voldemort in canon from touching Harry. The curse itself is more deep rooted and more powerful in and of itself rather than what Quirrelmort went through. Quirrel had to willing accept Voldemort, there is no consent to what Harry is going through and his willpower alone is not enough. Additionally, the curse is an active structure, it isn't like what happened at the end Order of the Phoenix where Voldemort just tried to enter his spirit into an unprepared body. This curse is more than just will against will, as is the case with the imperius.
Harry is eighteen and is not good at meditation. I am a Buddhist and if anyone ever tells you meditation is 'easy' then they are either not doing it regularly or they are trying to sell you something. Between the curse and Voldemort's maze-like mental barriers, Harry simply does not have the skill or know how to free himself despite having the will and strength to be capable of it.
Like technically I have the capability to play the piano, that doesn't mean I can play Mozart if I practiced for a week.
KEYNOTE: Voldemort has been in Harry for about two weeks now and be aware that if Voldemort messed with Snape's memories he could have erased/change more than just that night as we see is possible when Kingsley changes Miss Edgecombe's memory in Dumbledore's office.
AN: I have been thinking of taking the Disorder of the Phoenix concept and doing a fulllength no-time-travel version of the prequel if people are interested? Likely, that would be after this story and if I brought them back to America I would wait to see what happens in the new movies.
Chapter 29 - The Curse of the Jellyfish
Voldemort was ravenously hungry and it took all of his pride not to tear into his food like the Weasley boy across from him.
Voldemort had gone to visit Luna Lovegood Sunday night.
It had been a mistake.
Harry hadn't raged or fought but his… his emotions had been more than Voldemort had wanted to handle.
Such remorse. It was nothing Voldemort had ever experienced before. He was the Dark Lord, he regretted nothing, not in his life at the orphanage not in torturing or killing anyone.
But Harry regretted many things. He even regretted killing Quirrell and for a million other trivial events that by Voldemort's estimation weren't even remotely Harry's fault.
Voldemort prodded the mental bubble the boy was in.
Leave me alone.
Why do you regret so much?
Harry did not respond and the boy was depressed enough that his thoughts were too sluggish for Voldemort to make meaning of.
Hermione touched Voldemort's hand gently. "How are you doing?"
Voldemort blinked at her. He wanted to ask why she cared.
Because she's our friend, Harry's thought whispered from within him.
Voldemort pulled away from that touch, but not harshly. "I miss Luna," he said.
It wasn't a lie. Voldemort did miss her, her smile, her silly laughter, the way she saw the world-
Voldemort shook himself. No those are Harry's feelings.
"You really love her," Hermione said in soft wonder.
Yes, I do.
In a pained voice, Voldemort asked, "Can we talk about something else, Hermione?"
The Mudblood nodded and launched into a conversation about charm theory.
It was a good conversation. Despite himself, Voldemort found himself enjoying her intellect.
As they made their way to potions Voldemort could not divide where his enjoyment in Hermione's company and where Harry's enjoyment in her company began and ended.
A thrill of panic went up Voldemort's spine. What if it wasn't Harry who would become Voldemort but Voldemort who become Harry?
To console himself, Voldemort spent the first ten minutes of class thinking nasty things about Hermione and about all the children he had killed in the past.
It was amazing how even words seemed to cause Harry anguish.
Severus gave Voldemort a few looks but Voldemort had been sure while erasing the traitor's thoughts that he had erased the notion that Voldemort might be inside of Harry.
It was of course, possible that Severus could come to the conclusion on his own once more, but the thoughts would be far more elusive than his normal reasoning.
That being said, Voldemort did nothing to draw attention to himself, which was normal Harry behavior in Potions class.
At lunch, Voldemort tried to eat less but found it impossible. He had three servings and Hermione, ever-watchful Hermione noticed, though she said nothing.
Please don't kill her, Harry thought, please, there are thousands of reasons you could give her to throw her off the trail, please don't kill her.
I thought you wanted someone to notice?
Harry shook his metaphysical bars, Not if it means putting her in more danger than she always is.
How impractical of you, Voldemort noted. You would save one person, over knowing what I could do to all of them?
Harry didn't so much think but feel an answer.
It was such a complex response that Voldemort almost tripped over his seat when he reached his Arithmancy class.
The emotions were a tangled mass, anger, sorrow, regret, determination, caring and something else altogether unfathomable.
You don't have an answer, do you? That's why you feel this way. You wouldn't be able to make the choice of saving one versus many. You would die trying to save them all even if that wasn't an option.
Any decent person would.
And how can you save anyone after your dead? Voldemort asked.
Astoria snapped at Voldemort, "Oi, loverboy, we have a test today so pull yourself together. I know you've been consoling yourself by acting almost as bonkers as Luna but we need you present today."
Voldemort glared at her. I hate your friends, he told Harry.
Harry rolled his imaginary eyes, she gets less friendly when she feels emotions. She misses Luna too, even if she will never admit it.
Harry snorted, it reminds me of your reactions over the last two days.
If one could glare at oneself without being able to see inside themselves, that's what Voldemort did.
"Harry?" the Bones girl said. "Are you okay? You look constipated?"
Harry's mood fluttered for a moment as he grinned at Voldemort who was trying to take measured breaths to keep calm.
Keep Calm and Carry On, Harry sang the muggle phrase at him.
Sirius was sitting across from Amelia Bones, getting himself registered as an animagus. He had one foot resting on his knees and he was leaning back in his chair. He was happy as a clam.
The prospect of sitting in the Auror's Head Office without anyone trying to jump him was glorious. There meeting had been set for just after lunch on a weekday.
Sirius felt like he was top of the world.
"So, Sirius, what are your plans for rejoining the wizarding world?" Amelia asked.
He shrugged. "No plans really, I don't have to work."
"Won't you get bored?" she asked. Her tone implied clearly that she would be lost without her work.
"I have Harry," Sirius said cheerfully.
"Yes, but he's at school most of the time and then he will get a job."
"Hello Sirius," Kingsley said coming into the room with energetic Tonks behind him.
"Are you coming for a job application?" Tonks asked. Her hair was pink and she was lightly bouncing in place.
Sirius thought that Harry, Luna, and Tonks could be great friends one day. Well, of course, Tonks was family now. Andromeda had invited all three of them over for dinner and even Xenophilius over he wanted to come.
The thought sobered Sirius. Luna was still in the hospital, and Sirius hadn't heard from Harry in two weeks. Unusual but not unexpected. If Harry didn't reach out by the end of the week Sirius was going to pay him a visit.
"Sirius?" Tonks questioned. "Are you alright?"
Sirius shook his head like a dog shaking off water and sat up in his chair. "Yeah, I'm alright. And no I am not here to work for the ministry."
"He's getting his name printed for the dog collar we have picked out for him," Amelia said.
Kingsley laughed, "Better make sure he has all of his shots, too."
"Yes, ha ha," Sirius said with a smile, not the least perturbed about being the butt of a joke.
"It's a pity you punched Albus," Kingsley said suddenly, his smile falling.
"You punched Albus Dumbledore?" Amelia asked stunned. "Why?"
"He earned it, that's why," Sirius said back, crossing his arms. "And the only pity about it is me not doing it sooner and more often."
"It's a pity because," Kingsley said, "you might be able to solve one of our Hogwarts problems."
Sirius tilted his head like a puppy hearing the sound of a container full of treats being opened.
Kingsley couldn't help but grin, "What would you say to upsetting the Minister for Magic?"
Sirius's grin was positively wicked, "I'm in."
Voldemort had no idea what was going to happen. Harry's interpretation of the Weasley Twins' plans had been a general theory of chaos and the notation that it would be bigger and more impressive than what had happened in the last timeline.
But it was Voldemort who had to give the signal and whether Voldemort himself would have been involved in such schemes was rather irrelevant. If Harry were the one in control, he would do it and Voldemort was curious enough to play his part.
It was a good thing he wasn't a cat.
When Voldemort snapped his fingers under his desk, causing a paper airplane to shoot out an opened window at the exact the moment Dolores Umbridge sat down at her desk the bats from hell were released.
The bats in question were the textbooks which had transformed into flying harbingers of doom. Hurricane around the room they began to go after the students, gnawing on their arms with paper teeth. While the textbooks closest to Umbridge went for her face.
Pansy Parkinson stood on her desk and wailed, "We are all going to die!"
Followed by Theodore Nott, "The end is upon us!"
Quickly taken up by Neville Longbottom who put one foot on his desk and brandishing his wand, "Today is a good day to die!"
Hermione Granger's call was the last to be heard by everyone as she drew her wand, "Apply theory to action! By the power of books, we shall prevail!"
The rest of the class period quickly descended into a competition between the Slytherins and the Gryffindors to see who could ham up their 'battle' against the textbooks the most.
One student went the entire way of playing out his own death scene. Falling limp to the ground, though Voldemort could see him breathing he was nevertheless impressed the boy managed to keep his eyes unblinking and unfocused. Some students were pretending to cry under their desks, others were running back and forth with their arms flailing above their heads as they screamed, some were tugging helplessly at the 'locked' doors, and the students pretending to fight were yelling 'why doesn't the defense spells work!? I am only doing what the textbook said!" Voldemort among the latter group who were pretending to fend off the books with little beams of light.
All the students were screaming and yelling as the books' paper teeth 'bit' at them, though the books were quite harmless to the students. Only Umbridge was suffering from book slaps, paper cuts, a stolen shoe, and being forced to the ground under the furious pile of Defensive Magical Theory.
The most remarkable thing of it all was everyone stayed in character, no one smiled or laughed. They all pretended the danger was real. Things came to halt almost an hour past the end of class when someone outside the class had alerted one of the other professors to the mayhem going on.
Filius Flitwick had the jinxed books disabled with three flicks of his wand. The offending tomes falling with a unified thud to the ground, inert and harmless.
A disheveled Umbridge sat up from where she had been held to the ground, her face a mass of bleeding papercuts, and her hair in a state resembling that of a rat's nest. She began scrambling on her knees, pudgy ringed fingers sifting through the confetti around her, searching for her wand that had been knocked from her grasp.
Filius summoned her wand wordlessly.
She glared at him, "How dare you? Give me back my wand, Halfbreed!"
The students who had fallen silent at the Charms professor's entrance held their breath, which in the case of the student playing dead was an interesting visual effect.
Filius hung back, his eyes narrowing. "I shall be reporting this to the Headmaster."
"There is nothing to report!" Umbridge shrieked rising to her feet, "All of these students have detention one of them must have done it!"
Filius headed towards the fallen boy. "They've been attacked and you -as their professor, have failed to protect them. Shameful that the DADA professor couldn't fight past a simple animation jinx." He knelt by the fallen boy and said very clearly, "Rennervate."
Voldemort felt that no spell had been cast, Filius had just said the word. On cue, the fallen boy bolted up, as he rose he exclaimed, "I'm alive!"
There was a beat of silence and then the class erupted into cheers and hollers of victory. People, Slytherins and Gryffindors alike, hugged one another, some cried at surviving such a 'horrific' event. Hermione kissed Voldemort's cheek causing him to stumble away from her. His reaction was lost in the mob that sucked them in that had begun to chant "Professor Flitwick! Professor Flitwick! Our savior!" They trooped down to dinner with that chant, loud and laughing.
Umbridge was left in her empty classroom without a wand and with the remnants of textbooks that were shredded beyond repair.
"Mum?" Luna asked, "How can I feel that I've missed you so much when we've always been here? And we have always been here."
Forever and always.
Luna shook her head, her inter torso turning, causing her blonde curls to wipe out around her. They were not her words and they were not her mother's words.
Who else could there have said those words? Who else was there?
A wind blew across the land, bringing with it the sweet toasted smell of grass baking under a hot sun with the crisp smell that foretold the change is seasons. The wind seemed to rage, turning colder and the scent of rotting leaves invaded her senses.
With a ripple, the landscape boiled, melting from a grassy field to a forest of mighty trees.
Only they were on fire, well, not on fire exactly, the color of burning fire was captured in the colors of the leaves, like a trillion little paintings of white, gold, yellow, orange, and red flame.
Looking upwards, Luna felt lost in silhouettes of trees trunk and branches against a canopy of fiery light, spinning in a world that was entirely movement, no rest, it was-
Her mother's hand squeezed her hand, grounding her.
"Mum?" Luna asked, her voice quivering.
"What's wrong, my little moon?" she asked.
Luna's eyes filled with tears, "I can't remember."
"Remember what, dear one?" Her mother asked. Her blue eyes sparkled, her beautiful face shining with love, and her hair alight with the backdrop of a vivid autumn wood. Luna thought it must be how she looked, they did, after all, look very much alike though she doubted she would ever be as beautiful as her mother.
"I miss you," Luna told her, searching her mother's face for an echoing sorrow that she felt in her own heart.
But there was no sorrow in her mother's expression only a serene happiness and contentment. "No need to miss me, I am right here. All that you love, all that we love is right here."
But Luna knew, knew she was forgetting something. She licked her dry lips and voiced the growing unease in her chest, "I'm afraid."
The wind roared around them, the leaves began to chatter and shiver and rattle together. It sounded like it was pouring but it was the only conversation between wind and forest.
The trees were bare and the light was dim.
Luna knew this forest, knew this day, and she ran forward, deeper between the tall trees looking for something that she could not see.
Her mother was suddenly in front of her, hugging her, holding her, hiding her.
Luna hugged her back.
Her mother whispered into her ear, "There is nothing to fear. If you stay with me you will never fear."
The wind raged around them. Luna clung to her mother and knew that her mother was the reason she was in this forest, knew that there was something that could not be seen without her.
But as the wind pushed and pulled at them, Luna had the impression of memory. In this forest she was not alone, but-
They were standing at the edge of the sea and she pushed out of her mother's arms.
Luna had to rescue the jellyfish. One by one she levitated them back into the ocean, for hours, for days, for weeks, until Luna knew only that there were jellyfish to be saved and it was her sole duty to send them back home.
AN: Please review?
Chapter 30: Mortality and Nightmares
AN: I know a lot of people are frustrated but if I skipped over the last few chapters then it would undermine the entire plot and you wouldn't give a shit about how it worked out.
Dyslexia: I do laugh at my own mistakes when I find them. Expulsion is not the same word as explosion XD
Chapter 30 - Mortality and Nightmares
Voldemort had been avoiding Snape as time went on. Was it fun to torture his disobedient pet, sure. It had become less fun, however, when it was him who started feeling the regret for it, not Harry. Harry was growing quieter by the day, retreating into his prison. Harry didn't respond to the bait Voldemort sent his way often. The result of this was that when Voldemort emotions, they were his own.
Snape twitching on the floor had grown distasteful and Voldemort's fear that he might slip up or be caught was increasing past what his sanity could withstand. This fragility was not something he had anticipated and if he didn't find a way out of it soon there was going to be a reckoning.
"What would you like me to do, Dolores?" Albus asked.
Fuming, Dolores glared at the Headmaster, "Make the attacks stop!"
Smiling serenely, Albus steepled his fingers on his desk. "Gladly. Do you know who the perpetrators are?"
"That's your job!"
"I am afraid it is not my job to discipline your students. If you find specific individuals and wish to discuss expulsion, I can certainly consider it, but as far as for keeping the students in order… Well, I am afraid you are the only professor with complaints. If I may be so bold, perhaps it is your teaching -style, that has turned the students against you. After all, fifth and seventh year exams start in two weeks, do you think they are prepared?"
Her face turned a purplish red, "Of course, they are ready."
"The students don't seem to feel secure in that."
"This isn't about their feelings this about the swamp in front of my office! About the fireworks going off around my classroom anytime I begin class!"
"I have not seen any fireworks when I've entered the class."
"That's because they are spelled to sto-"
"I am sorry to interrupt you, but what proof do you have?"
"You bastard, you are enjoying this."
Albus's eyes were indeed sparkling. "I wouldn't say I enjoy distractions that disrupt our students from learning."
"Fireworks are distracting!" Dolores shrieked
Albus sighed. "Until you have proof or even a lead on who is responsible, I am afraid I cannot help you."
Dolores stood to her distinctly unimpressive height, "This Minister will hear of this."
Albus stood as well, "By all means Dolores, tell the Minister of his shortcomings as a professor because I may remind, none of my professors have been dealing with these complaints."
"Complaints! These are attacks! Even my meals are no longer safe. The little monsters have even gotten into my private rooms!"
"Welcome back to Hogwarts, Ms. Umbridge, you should always expect the unexpected."
Voldemort and Hermione were studying together in the common room. Hours passed and they were the last two in the common.
Hermione had grown on Voldemort. Easily the smartest person at the school he found her to be the only student he didn't have to force small talk with.
And she was strangely kind which was not something Voldemort thought he would ever care about. But he found that he did. She sometimes bothered her about Harry's time in the future but it didn't matter, those were easily avoided because Voldemort had learned by playing off her fears of the coming exams she was easy enough to redirect now.
It was past midnight when Hermione's head dropped to rest on Voldemort's shoulder. Voldemort peered at her, realizing she had fallen asleep.
Voldemort could not remember the last time a woman had fallen asleep in his presence. Bella?
But that hadn't been from studying.
The gentle warmth of Hermione against his shoulder was unexpectedly welcome.
Voldemort reached for one of the more advanced theory books he had ordered, careful not to disturb her as he moved. He settled in to finish the book. Tomorrow was Saturday and they would be able to sleep in if they wanted to.
Sirius was glaring at Albus, well glaring while not trying to glare, which obviously wasn't working.
Kingsley coughed a laugh, "What do you think of our proposal?"
"Sirius is qualified but-"
"Umbridge remains in place and therefore I have no job to offer you," Albus said cooly.
"Sirius would be an excellent DADA professor," Kingsley said. "He could be an Auror if he wanted to be."
"Then why doesn't he become an Auror?" Albus asked, knowing why but needing something civilly hostile to say.
"Because I do not want to work for the government," Sirius said.
"And you want to work for me?"
"I want to work with the students and it isn't like you have anyone else offering themselves up for the job, well aside from Snape."
"I was considering giving him the position for next year."
"Were you?" Sirius asked narrowing his grey-blue eyes at the old man.
Kingsley jumped into the conversation again. "Perhaps you would allow Sirius and I to observe one of Dolores's classes. I heard she has been having... difficulties."
Albus sighed heavily, "Very well, you both, may observe a few of her classes on Thursday."
"Today is Thursday," Sirius said. "And second period has already started."
"Then you best be getting to class."
Voldemort was delighting in irritating Dolores. Neither he nor Harry had any qualms about being mean to her.
"But how do you use the shield charm?" Voldemort asked. "The book isn't clear on the wand movement."
Umbridge glared, "The book is quite clear."
"I disagree," Voldemort said, chin held high. "It doesn't even clarify the pronunciation. Is it Petrago or Poohtago?"
Dolores was visibly grinding her teeth, "To the front of the class, Potter."
Lazily, Voldemort stood and strolled to the front of the class, the Holly wand held at his side.
Umbridge demonstrated the shield charm. "This once, you may try the spell," Umbridge instructed. "If you spell works properly, after having seen it and after having heard it, then fifteen points to Gryffindor, but if not then it will be clear to the class you haven't studied."
Voldemort smiled at her. How stupid is she? This shield charm was taught in the third year.
His shield charm was cast nonverbally and stronger than any student in this school could have produced but not even Voldemort could have predicted what came next.
Also nonverbally, Dolores's curse easily sliced through Voldemort's shield, because it was one of the unforgivables.
Voldemort dropped to the ground with a grunt, but he did not scream, or twitch, or writhe, because the battle happening in his mind was far more pressing.
Harry launched himself out of his hidey hole and began tearing at anything and everything that Voldemort was. Pulling at his memories and consciousness-
And the physical pain was increasing but Harry and Voldemort had both abandoned trying to respond physically. Their spirits circled each other like wolves, the Cruciatus Curse a buzzing backdrop left unacknowledged.
In a world of shadow and mist, Harry sliced a metaphysical band through the figure that Voldemort was picturing himself as. He grunted and shoved back with a wall that pushed Harry back towards his prison.
Harry was less knowable but he was stronger, this was his body and his mind. Besides Voldemort might be a freakishly powerful demon, but Harry's soul was complete, whole. Although it might be aged as compared to his peers because his soul had faced death twice, Harry's will to live came from a desire to live not from a fear of death.
Voldemort's wall buckled under Harry, and for a moment it seemed Harry would push Voldemort out.
Except there was no way out. In their joint awareness, they both realized that Voldemort had stayed too long, become too immersed.
Neither can live while the other survives. A line from the accursed prophecy rang through them.
No, Harry thought, not this time. Damn you, I will lose nothing more to you!
Harry shoved with all his might, his being overpowering Voldemort like the ocean washing away a footprint in the sand. All that remained of the Dark Lord's hold on Harry was a mere indent that would be swept away with the next wave.
Voldemort rose off from the floor, gasping, coughing, his entire body shaking.
With blurry vision, he looked up slowly, and vaguely registered Umbridge was flat on her back.
Sirius Black was beside him, touching his shoulder, rubbing his back, and calling, "Harry, Harry, can you hear me?"
Sounds were coming in disconnected surges. How long had he been under the curse? Obviously, it had been the curse breaking that had saved Voldemort from Harry, Harry who had been about to do more than push him out.
Pushed out. Voldemort felt fear like he had never known before. He was trapped in this body. At that moment, they had both felt it, felt that the magic Voldemort had used to implant himself in Harry was now permanent. If Voldemort tried to leave this body, fractured as his soul was, he would die. His spirit and identity had ingrained itself in this body. This body that would age and -one day, die.
"Harry," Sirius said again, gripping the sides of Voldemort's face. "Are you alright?"
Voldemort's eyes finally focused on Sirius, the last Black, and suddenly all that Voldemort had lost weighed on him, crashing down on his shoulders.
His followers, his own body, his plans, his identity.
He would never admit to it, or at least not admit it being his emerald green eyes that filled with moisture.
"Oh Harry," Sirius whispered, wrapping Voldemort in a bear hug -which Voldemort returned.
The real Harry retreated to his corner -becoming the serpent, motionless, waiting for his prey to position itself into the right angle for his strike.
It had been easy for Voldemort to forget him, to not think of that which was not seen. But he would not make the same mistake again. Voldemort might be back in his school years with an added level of unwanted emotions but he was also more powerful, more knowledge than he had been before. The search for immortality would go on and Harry would never be given another chance to overtake him.
Sirius was watching his godson worriedly.
The poor kid had been through too much. Also, he truly did have the worst luck with DADA professors. When Kingsley and Sirius had entered the classroom it had at once been clear that Dolores had been attacking Harry who had been motionless on the ground. That said attack had been the Crusartis Curse had not been clear until the spell had been lifted and Harry sat up with his entire body shuttering.
For five minutes Sirius had called his name and for five minutes Harry had been unresponsive, his eyes unfocused and the blasted tremors taking their toll on him.
Sirius would have killed Umbridge had Kingsley not already stunned her.
When Harry had finally said his name Sirius had almost cried.
The students had been horrified when they realized what had happened. Neville Longbottom had needed a calming draught.
The guilty bitch had been escorted to the Ministry by Kingsley and there would be hell to pay when the students' owls reached their parents.
Harry was currently asleep in a cot beside Luna's, Hermione Granger sat sleeping, sloched on Harry's other side. Even Poppy hadn't the heart to separate them by waking the frizzy-haired girl up. Hermione had almost been as angry as Sirius at the person who would dare to attack, no, torture, Harry.
Sirius looked at Luna frowning. No cure had been found for her, yet. He couldn't image what her father and Harry felt at her condition.
Actually, he could. Sirius knew all too what helplessness felt like.
Sirius would be taking over as the DADA professor for the rest of the year, what little remained of it and he could only hope that Luna, who had been under for months recovered soon.
Looking back at Harry, Sirius sighed, he could only pray that one day their sorrows and hardships would be outweighed by love and happiness in their lives.
Luna had abandoned the jellyfish. She became aware that she was dreaming. It didn't quite feel like she was asleep, or if she was asleep it wasn't because she was tired.
She ran forward, her feet pressing into the soft sand, her first step onto a wave was not met with the sensation of wetness and a splash, but rather her foot met a glass sculpture of a wave. A frozen wave, if ice could be warm.
Luna ran towards that horizon.
Where was she? When was she? Who was she?
The sun was setting, the uppermost region of the sky was dark blue, where the sky kissed the ocean was golden orange, coloring the world in colors of fire and warmth. Luna ran towards that star -even as it slipped beyond view. She ran and the sky above her was a twinkling universe reflected on the giant glass plan she ran on.
She thought she saw whales, sharks, and glowing fish swimming beneath her feet.
But she kept running, understanding that this was a place she was not meant to stay even if she couldn't remember the world she came from.
Luna knew only that she needed to escape.
The wind began to pick up, the longer she ran the faster the wind buffeted against her. Eventually, the wind took her feet out from under her. She fell -hard, on the ground, which was not ground at all.
Cracks emerged in the glass, growing and splintering out from where she had landed.
She scrambled to her feet too late. The glass broke and she was plunged into the watery depths, sea creatures swarming around her.
She screamed kicking upwards, reaching out for help.
The wind plunged in after her, visible in the strands of bubbles streaking in the water. She was yanked upwards. The wind and water began to fight over her, one trying to left her towards the night sky the other trying to pull her under to the deepest depths. Both destinations were blue, neither would kill her, and no direction was the direction Luna knew she belonged.
What had once been a sedative dream, a paradise -had descended into a macabre nightmare.
All Luna needed to do was wake up. But wake up to what? For all, she knew the tide and the wind were friendly compared to the powers that defined that other place. She had no way of knowing and it was her uncertainty that trapped her in this nightmare, letting the elements have their way with her.
Luna tried to think, tried to remember, but she was lost with no northern star to lead her home.
RECAP: Why did the cruciatus curse help Harry fight for control? Because like I have shown you and Snape has said throughout this story, Harry has the power and the will but not the control, finesse, patience, or practice to outmatch someone who has been practicing the mind arts for over sixty years with the added bonus of dark and soul magic. By being put at a physical extreme Harry, who is no stranger to pain was able to slip out Voldemort's prison and fight back. What was not really conveyed but as the author, I can tell you that it is within my rules of magic that had that 'battle' continued without either taking control of the body again they would have both died. Again, this is why I don't consider Voldemort to be godmoding, extremely clever, yes, but he is mortal and the magic he is using has some serious drawbacks.
Also, Umbridge using that curse in front of the entire class; was it stupid? Absolutely, but she did it or threatened to do it in the books and imagine everything done to her in canon, focused not on the entire school but solely on her, her office, and her classroom. Plus Dobby. She was at a breaking a point and I felt she had had enough screen time.
AN: Well, I hope you continue to be entertained. Sadly this story is reaching its end rather soon. Please share your reactions and thoughts with me? Also, if you have any burning ideas or questions that you would like to see addressed in the final few chapters reach out to me. I truly post for the reviewers and whether or not I directly respond to your reviews I do always consider them as I go forward with my own ideas.
Thank you so much for reading! :D
Chapter 31: Rage Rage Against the Dying of the Light
AN: I am graduating tomorrow with a 4.0 in Art History and 3.9 overall! Most of me feels dead inside because I gave up my sanity for those grades but I am sure I will bounce back soon. After all, grad school awaits. So while I should be packing I thought I would write while my mood is still relatively somber.
Shout out to my best friend, James who asked; "In what scenario would Voldemort be redeemable? What if he really could feel remorse?"
And then I was like should I handle that question along with; is loved ones telling their son that death is Easier than Falling Asleep a morally acceptable thing?
To which this story arose to answer with: Yeah, that sounds about my speed."
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953.
Chapter 31 - Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light
The OWL exams were not difficult by any stretch of the imagination for Voldemort. In those two weeks, he helped Hermione study.
Voldemort found her fretting adorable, he knew she was prepared to pass her exams above and beyond those of her age.
He hated the fact that he found her… cute.
Cute, was not a word he thought he would ever use. He hated that term, hated thinking it. In fact, he wanted to kill her for eliciting such feelings and thoughts from him. But then, Voldemort was up to ears in processing his kill list.
In his own head, killing and torture were a means to ends, people died, he was better than any of them, the world moved on. But in Harry's head… Harry didn't fully understand his own value but the concept of killing or torturing someone was abhorrent to the Boy Who Lived.
A fact that had begun to make itself known in Voldemort's dreams, or rather his nightmares.
An endless stream of faces, and bodies laid out before him and Voldemort cared. He had begun to think of each person, muggle or wizard, as an individual, with their own feelings.
He hated 'feelings.'
Voldemort was afraid that if he didn't do something to blacken Harry's heart soon than the boy might be able to gain control again. Acquire control because Voldemort was sick with these emotions that hounded him night and day.
Sirius was deeply concerned about Harry, who was avoiding him like he had the plague. He would hardly ever make eye contact and Sirius was- Well, there were alarm bells going off.
That he seemed to be smitten with his best friend Hermione, who was mostly oblivious to Harry's growing feelings was also worrying.
On one hand, it wasn't all that uncommon for a teenager to fall in and out of love. On the other, if Harry was acting oddly because of Luna's condition then it made no sense that he would be following after Hermione like a lost puppy.
In fact, that Harry had not spent every night at Luna's side -for as long as Pomfrey would allow it, was concerning. Sirius knew what love looked like, and Harry loved Luna, deeply, with the same whole hearted manner that James had loved Lily. Everything about Harry's actions and reactions were just this side of believable. Sirius had the sinking suspicion that something was more wrong than he knew.
He had gone to Flitwick who had said that Harry hadn't laughed once since Luna was cursed and had been pouring himself into his work. But then Hermione wasn't in the same Charms class as Harry, so Flitwick might not have been able to observe the oddest bits of Harry's behavior.
The same was true with Minerva which meant that Sirius had only two people to seek help from who knew Harry.
Naturally, Sirius went to see Hagrid first.
"He's been acting a bit odd, yeah," Hagrid said.
"So you noticed his thing for Hermione?" Sirius asked.
"'Arry has a crush on Hermione!?" Hagrid spluttered.
Sirius frowned at the big man, "You just said he was acting oddly."
"Yeah he has- But not, well, those three have always been close. I'd image with Harry being as hurt as he is 'bout Ms. Lovegood, 'Moine might be giving him a shoulder to cry on and all…"
Sirius ran a hand through his shoulder length curls, "What did you notice about Harry's behavior that was odd to you then?"
Hagrid's lips tightened, "Well I'm not really sure how to say this, but it hasn't been 'Arry who has been acting queerly, it's the animals, you see. Yeah, the creatures been responding strangely. Won't come near him and Harry hasn't been volunteering like he used. He had a natural gift for this class, and if he enjoyed it a bit more he could get a job working with magical creatures, but anyhow, I've never seen creatures go so far out of their way to avoid a student before."
An idea was taking root in Sirius's mind, one he had no desire to acknowledge or consider the ramifications for. But that is what it meant to be a parent, to make the hard choices and put your child's needs and comfort above your wants.
"Thanks for your time, Hagrid," Sirius said.
"Anytime," Hagrid said with a smile, "hope I helped and I hope 'Arry feels more himself soon."
With a shudder, Sirius turned and returned to the castle, going straight to the dungeons.
When Snape opened his office door the first thing Sirius said was, "Do you really think Voldemort can possess anyone?"
Snape sighed and stepped back to the let his nemesis in.
"What do you think his limits are?" Sirius pressed.
Snape sighed again, "We have no way of knowing."
Sirius's scrutinized the other wizard, "What the hell happened to you? You look like shit. Not that you had much to work with, to begin with."
Snape rolled his eyes and tapped a bottle on his desk. "I keep telling myself I'll stop, but it seems every other weekend or so I can't… I just- some things, old memories, you just want to forget."
Sirius's shoulders sagged, "I get that, but-" Sirius met Snape's onyx gaze, "What is Voldemort capable of? And I don't mean morally capable of, I mean what can he accomplish with this body jumping thing?"
"The Dark Lord is capable of much and can accomplish many things depending on his host. But you didn't come here to discuss the Dark Arts. What specifically are you here for?"
"Does Harry seem… off, to you?"
"Heartbreak is a lot to deal with for someone his age," Snape said, placidly.
Sirius shook his head, "What about his occlumency lessons? How have they been going?"
Snape was going to answer back with something snide, but froze. The memories, when asked so directly- "Those are usually the nights I drink."
"You make that sound like a question. How heavy have you been drinking?"
Snape just glared at him, "Get to your point, Black."
"I think- I mean what if," Sirius took in a deep breath, "What if Voldemort got to Harry?"
Snape's eyebrows shot up, "You think the Dark Lord is inside of Harry Potter, without any of us noticing something is wrong?"
"Something is wrong with him, and I could be me who's wrong, but he doesn't exactly seem to be heartbroken about Luna."
"I have my last occlumency lesson with Harry tomorrow night," Snape said smoothly.
"So you do think it is possible! Do you want me to be there?" Sirius asked.
"Many things are possible and the Dark Lord is manipulative enough that given access to Harry's mind he might be able to pull it off, though it seems unlikely given how close he's been to the muggleborn girl, Granger of late."
"Yes, but Harry shouldn't be that close to her."
"I don't pretend to follow the dramas that take up a teenager's existence. As to your question before, we should plan to meet afterwards. If you are there and the Dark Lord is in residence, then we do not want to tip him off."
"And you think you'll be okay on your own with the 'Dark Lord'?" Sirius asked.
"Black, I have been in worse circumstances and I am a better liar than you have ever been."
"Snape," Sirius said in the same condescending tone, "I grew up in a home of Slytherins, and as Bella's cousin, I can tell you that underestimating any of them is a bad plan."
"Except, I am also a Slytherin."
"Really?" Sirius asked sarcastically, "You think that matters? You think you will not need any backup handling your Master when he is inhabiting the most powerful wizard of the rising generation who is also at the peak of his physical health?"
Snape snarled at him, "I am not going to fight the boy, I am just seeing if your accusation against him has any merit or if you're just bitter that he hasn't turned to you in his time of need."
"This isn't about me," Sirius growled.
"Isn't it? Harry's little girlfriend has been out of his life for months now and you seem to think it astounding that he is looking elsewhere."
"It isn't like that," Sirius said, angrier for the rising doubts. "Look, I don't want Harry to be possessed, I just need to know that he is okay. I can't ignore the little signs. If I am wrong, good, and if I'm right then I could never forgive myself if I did nothing and kept my mouth shut."
Snape sighed, "I will meet with you after I've met with him. Now get out of my office."
Sirius left, slamming the door behind him. He was not going to be able to sleep tonight. He was glad he wouldn't have to teach tomorrow because of exams. Sirius paced the halls and found himself in the owlery.
Harry's owl, Hedwig flew down to him at once, nibbling on his ear, rubbing her head against his cheek.
"Hello, pretty girl, what do you think Harry is going through?"
She hooted mournfully.
Sirius found a ledge that was out of sight of the door and spent the night overlooking the Hogwarts grounds with the snowy owl.
When the sun rose Sirius spotted something on one of the lower roofs. "Hedwig?"
She opened her amber eyes and blinked at him, waiting.
Sirius pointed at the little rectangle, "Could you grab that for me?"
Hedwig gave a single hoot and glided down to grab what Sirius was able to make out as a book when she had brought it back. She settled back on her perch -which was Sirius's shoulder.
Pulling out his wand, he was able to reverse the water and other element damage done to the little paperback. Good as new, the cover of the book revealed its title.
"American Gods," Sirius read out loud, and he opened it to the cover page.
May a world of dreams help colour your days as I aim to make your reality better than anything anyone could imagine.
If Sirius had needed proof -that he hadn't imagined the depths of what Harry felt for Luna, then he needed to look no further. James had been a terrible poet, but in their seventh year Sirius and Remus had been stunned by how sincere and genuine James's written words had become when he wrote to Lily.
Sirius had that same impression from reading Harry's letter to Luna.
After last period of the day on Friday. Final Exams finished.
The wind eventually won the tug-a-Luna contest. She was flung from the ocean, pulled into the skies. She was weightless and for a time she relaxed in the arms of a warm breeze which quickly became freezing and not relaxing at all when she began to think of the nightmare she was trapped in.
She tried to think past the roaring in her ears, the cold in her bones- tried to think of the past.
Luna looked around herself, spotting the rising moon, a solid thought formed in her mind.
"My name means moon," she whispered to the winds, which eased.
She needed to go home, where she was loved.
I love you, Luna Lovegood, forever and always.
"I love yo-" she tried to say but she couldn't remember the name or the person she had completed the words, "Every bit of you," to. She couldn't remember who but she remembered how she felt. She reached out to the silver disk in the sky, "Help me!"
A white flash sparked, followed by a tiny silhouette that at every movement flashed silver. It was a bird, an owl, a snowy owl. The silver light was reflecting off her white feathers.
"Hedwig!" Luna cheered. The wind grew more gentle still and began to sing.
Feeling as though she could fly like in the play her mother had read her once, about a girl who had flown to a place called Neverland, Luna soared after Hedwig. Hedwig led the way back to the beach where Luna had spent a long time saving jellyfish, and back to a dark wood where the invisible creatures that she should have been able to see dwelt.
She saw their leathery wings first, and then there great skeletal heads with their opaque white eyes.
Luna could not understand herself, could not understand why she felt such affection for these creatures who could only be seen if she had seen someone die.
Her mother. The memory of her mother's death was not pleasant nor was the memory of the wreck her father had become directly afterwards.
How could there possibly be anything good to come from such sorrow?
The wind sang through the trees and Luna found what she had lost.
Harry had followed her into a place that he had feared, for want of her company, he had followed her. Harry hadn't called her strange or belittled her or thought her perceptions simply an 'overactive imagination.' Harry Potter had taken her for who she was, taken the time to see the world as she saw it, trusting her judgment and challenging her without degrading her when his own instincts told him something different. He had walked with her, made her laugh, and held her when she needed not to be lonesome. He was impossibly real, her Harry.
She loved him and he loved her.
Forever and always.
Luna opened her eyes and sat up with a gasp. Her curse was broken and she didn't know how long she had been under but she knew, knew she needed to get to Harry now.
Voldemort walked sluggishly down to Severus's office. He felt so tired. The exams hadn't been tiring but the weight of nightmares and his growing feelings for his classmates had uprooted his sense of self.
Harry had remained deathly silent in his corner.
On the occasions that Voldemort poked at him, it was like poking a lead ball with a piece of paper. No response. Voldemort had tried to attack that little space in his mind and had been unable to penetrate Harry's mental walls. What had been Voldemort's prison for the boy had been taken over as the boy's personal fortress.
It worried Voldemort, but it was beginning to frustrate him more that Harry wasn't around to help him. None of Harry's new thoughts or emotions were at his disposal, which under the nose of Sirius Black had been a tricky thing.
Voldemort knocked on Severus's door, glad that this would be their last torture session. Truthfully, he wasn't even sure if he had it in him to torture the old bat today. His heart simply wasn't in it.
As per usual, Severus let him in and went back to his desk.
"Prepare yourself, Potter," Severus said.
Had Voldemort been paying closer attention, he would have seen the dark gleam in the other wizard's gaze.
But alas, it didn't matter much for Severus, as Voldemort drew his wand and flicked Severus's wand out of his hand.
Voldemort sent the man crashing back into the shelves, "You do look so astonished each time I do this." He sneered, "I mean, I know I keep whipping your memory but you think you would have caught onto something being out of place by now."
Voldemort drove his foot into the side of Severus's head, sending him crashing back to the ground, "Begging is done on your knees, swine."
"But how?" Severus asked, blood dripping from the corner of his mouth.
"Swallow the blood, I did not wish to clean up after you again, this night." Voldemort's anger rose and he was ecstatic at its arrival. Anger was an emotion that rightfully belonged to him and it made him feel larger than life.
The door crashed open behind them, the lock charm Voldemort had placed on the door irrelevant because there was no longer a door.
Voldemort spun, wand pointed-
He recoiled at the sight of the woman standing there. Recoiled from the relief and joy he felt at seeing the pale-eyed beauty standing awake and unharmed before him.
Luna Lovegood did not recoil or hesitate, "Expelliarmus!"
The Holly Wand flew from his grasp into hers.
Voldemort's emerald green eyes widened and he cried, "No!" And summoning his strength, he made to attack her with a wandless blow of energy.
Severus Snape did not give him that chance, "Legilimens!"
Severus's consciousness entered Voldemort's mind and Harry uncurled from his harbor and struck out with such force, Severus was forced to retreat for a brief time. When Severus rejoined the battle of wills, he directed Harry in wrapping a barrier around Voldemort.
The three of them felt Luna grab Harry's hand and squeeze.
Harry's heart burst with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Harry squeezed Voldemort into a metaphysical ball, Severus added his strength so that together, they began to suffocate not the air, but the very life out of the Dark Lord.
Panicking, Voldemort flailed himself against thing encasing him like a large fish inside too small of a tank.
Harry, please, don't do this, Voldemort pleaded.
Harry ignored him.
Please, my friend, do not kill me.
We. Are. Not. Friends. With each word thought, Harry tightened his death grip.
But we could be so much, you and I. Please, there must be another w-
Severus slammed his magic down on the Dark Lord.
Please, Harry, forgive me for what I've done. I can change, you have shown me how to change.
Harry laughed, capable of change is not the same thing as changing.
For you, Voldemort said in a soft plea, I would, I will change for you.
You think I will forgive the person who murdered my parents?
I know you are capable of forgiving anyone, Voldemort said earnestly.
Even if I could forgive you, it doesn't matter. I could never trust you, Tom, I will never trust you. You have to be stopped.
In a sickly sweet whisper the Dark Lord asked, But what if by killing me, you kill yourself? Could you really take a hand in your own death, again?
Severus had heard their exchange and subconsciously loosened his grip.
Harry bore down harder, If I die, then this time, I will die fighting.
In a rush of blackness, what had remained of Tom Marvolo Riddle was snuffed out.
Chapter 32: Kiss My Ass
This is the End: There will be no sequel and apologize for this chapter being short, any updates will be for editing purposes. Many thank you's to her and the reviewers.
Keynote: Updated with a bit more Luna, a bit more of an ending :D 11-06-2019
Note: Hermione Krum is the godmother. Sirius doesn't have any legal standing except for Harry but everyone still calls him the Dogfather.
AN: I know this is a short chapter but it is how I felt this story needed to end. Hope you enjoy! And please, pretty please with cherries and edible flowers on top review with your thoughts and reactions?
Chapter 32 - Kiss
The first sight that met Harry when he opened his eyes was Luna's blue luminous gaze. She smiled at him, they leaned towards each other like the petals of a flower towards the rays of the sun.
They were a mere inch apart when Snape -whose chest and lap they had woken up on, pushed both of them away, a hand on their shoulders.
"Get off me," he snarled.
Harry had the grace to be abashed and mumbled an apology as he scrambled to his feet.
Luna -who had gracefully risen as if she hadn't fainted from the mental excision of helping execute the remnant of the Dark Lord's soul in another wizard's mind. She took ahold of Harry's lapels and claimed a kiss.
Snape made a disgruntled noise in the back of his throat as he staggered to his feet. He made it to his desk, one hand on the wood for balance the other finding a bottle of liquor. He took a hardy swig before declaring, "I'm retiring."
The two teens looked at the haggard professor for a moment, and then Harry said, "Well, finally."
Snape pointed a finger at him hand still holding the bottle, "I'll see you to graduation, after that you are not my problem. And if Albus takes issue with that, he can kiss my ass."
"You should do something you enjoy," Luna suggested.
Snape nodded, "I've saved enough funds to open my own apothecary. I will be selling potions. Pre-brewed, I will not be a damned ingredient supplier. And no one under the age of eighteen will be allowed through the front door."
"Legal age is seventeen," Harry remarked.
"I don't care!" Snape snapped. "Anyone still attending school, adult or no, will stay the hell away from me."
"Somehow I don't think that is an unachievable goal," Harry said dryly.
Sirius burst in through the door then, wand raised.
"Snape! Harry!" he yelled before freezing, "Luna?"
"Hello Sirius, Harry is Harry again," she answered serenely.
"So, I was right and he wasn't Harry before..."
"Correct," Luna said
Harry came over to his godfather and hugged him, "Thank you, Sirius, for knowing me."
Sirius squeezed him, "You're my son, I'd recognize you anywhere."
"What do you mean you were possed by Voldemort!?" Filius exclaimed.
"It's alright, Professor," Luna said, "everyone's alright."
Filius took off his glasses and rubbed at his face. "How did I not notice?"
Harry put a hand on his shoulder, "He had access to my memories and thoughts. He wasn't just pretending to be me, he was me."
"Was it hard for him?" Luna asked.
Harry nodded, "I don't think he'd ever felt emotions before, I don't think he knew what love was."
Filius put his glasses back on and looked into Harry's eyes, "If you shared a mind with him, what did you see Harry?"
He looked away at the all too knowing gaze, freaking Ravenclaws. "I saw what it meant to be selfish, what it meant to wish pain on others, to rejoice at another's suffering."
Luna laced her fingers with his, "It's alright to think bad thoughts and to want bad things, Harry."
"Is it?" he asked.
She nodded, "It matters more what you act on. Everyone has good and bad thoughts, everyone wants things that would hurt others, but it matters most the thoughts we decide on, the thoughts we choose to believe in."
Belief, choice. He hugged her, Merlin, he was so happy not to be alone.
Filius steepled his fingers, "Voldemort, my dear Harry, was the worst possible example of selfishness. But wanting things, wanting others, for yourself isn't inherently wrong."
Harry held Luna a little closer to him, "I want to live."
Filius smiled and Luna said, "Of course you do, I haven't told you about the jellyfish yet."
A Few Days Later
Hermione nervously sat down across from Harry on the train. Ron was in a different compartment with Lavender Brown.
Harry was happy as a clam, he would be spending the summer at Grimmauld Place with Sirius, Remus, and Tonks.
Luna was currently asleep, leaning against Harry's shoulder. As far as the end of a year at Hogwarts went, he had had worse.
"Hermione, whatever it is, just say it," Harry said, running his thumb over Luna's hand he held in his.
"I -I'm happy Luna is alright."
Harry couldn't help but smile, "I am extremely happy she's back."
He sighed, "What?"
"Well- over the last few months, well, it seemed like you…" she hesitated then blurted. "I've kept up with writing and exchanging letters with Victor, and I think it's something, something that might lead to something lasting."
"Hermione, I am happy for you, Victor is a good guy. I love you like a sister. Luna is the only person who holds my heart."
Hermione looked relieved. "Good," then breathed a laugh, "or I suppose, Lovegood."
"Haha," he said, grinning. But the grin didn't last, "Hermione about the last few months…"
"I was possessed by Lord Voldemort."
She gaped at him, "Excuse me?"
"You know, since Luna had fallen under the curse, that was Voldemort, not me."
Hermione opened her mouth, closed it shook her head and asked, "What?"
"Voldemort, you know bodiless wraith with the last of his nine cat lives left, figured out a way to process me. He's the one who cursed Luna and he used me to do it."
She shook her head again, her curls following the movement, "No, no, that's impossible, he couldn't pretend to be a student. He's old, he's evil."
"He had my memories and emotions, and he is very good a manipulating people."
"But he's-!" Hermione spluttered and then a look of horror came over her face, "Harry? Merlin, Harry, tell me you were in control some of the time?Tell me-"
He shook his head.
"So the last few months...?" she looked like she was going to be ill.
"He... he was nice to me," she said in a horrified whisper.
Harry couldn't help but smirk, "He had a crush on you, 'Mione."
He wished he had a camera to capture the look on her face at that moment. Her nose wrinkled, her eyes almost crossed as if she just smelt something truly foul. "But I'm a muggle born and he's..." she made disgusted sound, "the Dark Lord."
His smirk turned into a grin, "I know, and trust me, he was so confused. He kept having nightmares about his feelings for you. It was really creepy but kind of funny to watch him agonize over it. You're the first person on this planet he has ever loved."
Hermione held out her hands, "No, no! Don't say that! Oh... that is so gross, don't ever say that again, I -ugh!"
He laughed as Hermione disappeared, and Luna slept peaceably through it all against Harry's side.
Sirius and Xenophilius greeted them at the train station. Xenophilius greeted Luna with a hug that lifted her off her feet.
When he put her down after spinning her around, he bowed so she could pat the top of his head.
Sirius in turn, patted Harry on the top of his head, Harry stuck his tongue out at his godfather.
He barked his laughter.
Xenophilius approached Harry suspiciously, and leaned into him, then sniffed at his face.
Sirius stayed quiet, too quiet, and Harry knew he would be teased for this later.
"You're you," Xenophilius said, proving that crazy as anyone thought the Lovegoods were, they had a knack for seeing what was in front of them better than those poor souls cursed with 'normalcy.'
Xenophilius cuffed Harry under the chin, "You can see my Luna again when the next term begins. I'm taking my daughter home."
He nodded, and Luna blew him a kiss which he caught, put in his pocket for a rainy day, then blew her back one of his in return.
Her outrageous laughter warmed and strengthened his heart as her father led her away.
"So, kid," Sirius asked when they had lost sight of him, "how do you want to spend the summer?"
"Are you teaching next year?" Harry asked.
His dogfather grinned, "That I am."
"Then let's have a real vacation, I want to see the sun."
"I was thinking Canada," Sirius suggested.
Harry frowned, "That doesn't sound very sunny."
"It's summer, most places are sunny by now. I want to see the falls."
"And after that?"
Sirius lopped his arm in Harry's, "We'll go where ever we want, we're free."
Epilogue - 19 Years Later
Luna Lovegood and Professor Harry Potter owned a modest home on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. Luna travelled the world with her career as a Magical Creature Habitat Specialist. It was her job to ensure that the Magical Creatures` rights were being upheld and their homes were livable. But despite the faraway lands she explored, she always returned home to her Harry and her two children Lilianne Pandora Potter and Rueben Xenophilius Potter.
Lilianne -not Lil, not Lils, not Lily, and definitely not Lily-Flower (cough, cough, Dogfather Sirius), had been born five years after Luna had graduated from Hogwarts, by which time both Harry and she were well established in their chosen careers. Although Harry's first year of teaching in Luna's seventh year had been a bit of struggle as they weren't `technically` allowed to be a couple. Harry had taken over Sirius's position as the DADA professor as Sirius moved on to become Gryffindor Head of House and the Transfiguration professor. As -in turn, Minerva McGonagall became the Headmistress of Hogwarts after Albus Dumbledore retired (under less than favorable terms with the other professors).
Rueben who went by Rue, was Luna and Harry's second child. Rue was the baby of the family. Six years younger than his older sister, he enjoyed the attention of being a Potter and the inherent cuteness that being a five year old earned him. He had his mother's big blue eyes and his father's messy raven black hair. Unlike Lilianne who had her father's emerald eyes and her mother's fair coloring.
Lilianne was entering Hogwarts and was destined to be sorted into Slytherin. Slytherin, not for her cunning or survival instincts but because of her ambition -and perhaps for her penchant for speaking with legless reptiles. At a very young age after hearing pieces of her father's childhood, a man who was raised by muggles with no guardian's help in the magical world, as well as hearing tidbits about Dogfather's childhood, a man who had been raised by purebloods, she decided that magical children needed more oversight. It needed to be ensured that they were safe at home with people who wanted them, or at least have powers in place to help those children when they were discovered. She was ready to rewrite the laws and open a completely new branch in the Wizarding World for domestic rights and law enforcement. Nothing could or would dissuade Lilianne from this path.
Contrarywise, Rue would one day be destined to be sorted into Hufflepuff (although he too possessed the ability to talk to snakes). Rue would follow his namesake in becoming the gamekeeper at Hogwarts (much to Hagrid's delight), and like his father and Dogfather, he would become a professor at Hogwarts. Unlike Rubeus Hagrid, Rue would have extensive formal training, going on researching trips with his mother as well as studying for years at foreign academies. It was a near thing that Rue hadn't been sorted into Ravenclaw, but then, he had his father's demeanor with none of his father's trauma. Rue Potter would become known for his kindness, his patience, his wisdom, and his unfailing ability to forgive. Rue's children, however, would have the mixed blessing of their grandfather's dubious and often fickle luck. But that's another story.
In Harry Potter's time, he would witness the natural deaths of his beloved professors, become headmaster and meet his great-great-grand babies. When the Great Harry Potter died he would be extremely old -quite miraculous for a man who had died twice, but as it is said, third time's the charm. Although in all reality, Harry stayed in this world longer than he ought to have because he was a stubborn bastard, waiting for Luna. Luna and Harry would die together, hand and hand.
Where some people faded and others have their light blown out; Harry and Luna's lights spun away, like shooting stars trying to find a new home for themselves in the galaxy.
Yet, that would be many, many years from the year 2015. Many years from a clear skied night and already late -or in the morning early enough, to be the 1st of September. Luna Lovegood was laying on the roof staring up at the stars splayed in a glittering array above her. There was no light pollution in Hogsmeade so the stars shined bright.
Harry found her and laid out on the shingles, his hand finding hers. They gazed at the heavens together.
After some time Harry spoke, "You seem sad tonight, solemn."
"Is Rue asleep?"
"You know he is. Down and up with the sun that one."
"As opposed to you who is always up before the sun. Really, Harry, you need to sleep more."
"And waste away the time I have with you, never." He paused for a moment, waiting for her to speak, to tease him, when she didn't he said, "I notice you didn't mention Lilianne."
"She won't be sleeping tonight, too busy plotting with Korra for such a mundane activity as sleep," Luna said, waving her free hand in the air. Korra was a Sonoran coral snake and spelled so her venom glands were not effective against humans.
Harry spoke often with Korra and didn't think the spell was necessary, but then again, he would hate for some poor soul to lose the ability to breathe over a prank. Although, all things considered, if Lilianne got a hold of a prankster, or Merlin forbid, a bully, they would likely face worse with their daughter than a poisonous snake. Lilianne did have a wee bit of temper.
"Luna, what's wrong?" Harry asked, letting go of her hand so he could turn on his side to face her. He hadn't changed all that much, but Luna… Luna had become all the more beautiful. He put an arm over her slim waist and leaned closer to her.
Luna curled into him and sighed, "Things are changing."
"'Things' have a way of doing that. What about things is bothering you?"
She played her fingers over the front of his robes, "Sometimes I can't believe your mine."
Harry tilted her face up to his, "Believe it, because being yours, having you in my life, I would change nothing between us. Not ever."
Her crystalline eyes searched his face, "Aren't you afraid of what the future might hold?"
"Of course, but if I have learned anything, it is to enjoy what we have for as long as we have it."
She cupped his face in her hands, "And fight for it when the time for fighting comes."
Harry pressed in against the feel of her touch, "Luna Lovegood, I love you."
When she smiled it was like the sun cresting the mountain tops, "Harry Potter, I love you, every bit of you, forever-"
"And always," Harry finished with a kiss.
Dedicated to the reviewers who have helped me feel less alone in this world. Much Love~
AN: Why were all my stories deleted and reuploaded into this format nightmare? Because I had mental health crisis and was having people harressing me in attempts to finish a story. Did I stop getting harressed when I took down these stories? Yes, yes, I did, the Star Wars fanbase proved to be kinder to their writers. Laughing All the Way to London by AppoApples will slowly, and I mean months apart, be updated.