That night I stole myself away from Gryffindor tower, concealed from human sight with spells never taught at Hogwarts. Still, I had my wand in hand should I encounter someone. I did not, however. The dark corridors of the school seemed void of life. Even the usually snoring portraits were empty and lifeless. I could as well have been the only living person in the world that night.
Luna was awaiting me in our secret study. The braziers were already alit, emitting those the scents from many strange herbs, the unearthly symbols were already chalked on the floor. She greeted me, anxious and eager, and when I touched her she felt electrical, as if emitting energy of a kind I could not hope to fathom. I inquired for our errand this night. Asked her what business we would conduct and what study we would perform. She smiled at me, said that our labours had at last given result. That the book which we had sought was now within our grasp. That dread necromancer had spoken to her in her sleep, she said. He had been reluctant to answer her pleas, but she had encountered him with strength, and a strength greater than his. They had struggled and he had been forced to talk, to tell her the secrets he had obtained in life, and to talk about the book. Tonight we would seek it out. Walking in dreams we would travel the path only the most powerful of dreamers had ever dared, following the deeds of a man who had been dead for centuries.
As she talked she prepared the potion and poured up a carefully measured amount for me to drink.
I have previously stated that Luna was taking the role as a leader during our research, and that the experiments we conducted were of her rather than mine design. This is true, but I feel that at this point of mine narration I must stress that even if I confess myself of having followed instructions rather than giving them, I do not wish to put blame on Luna for what came to pass. Never had I for the long time we conducted our research tried to talk her out of any of the often weird and sometimes repulsive actions our study required. Never had I in any way advocated a decline in our research or implied that we were travailing outside the boundaries of what knowledge should be readily pursued. I was just to the same extent as her responsible for the direction our quest for knowledge had taken.
However, at that moment I was frightened. The unhuman, nervous energy possessing my friend was scaring me. The boldness of the experiment she proposed made me shiver and unbidden my mind went to some of those things we had encountered during our travels, horrible things I had managed to shut out of my conscious but which now made themselves reminded. I said this to Luna, reminded her of the risks we were undertaking, the risks that would be made manifold greater this evening. She listened to me and answered me, the silvery eyes of her never leaving mine. We were taking risks, she reminded me, since the gain was so great. We had made it so far, we would make it in further attempts. She put my mind on those certain defences, spells and things older then spells, we had gathered and never had needed to put to a test, defences that should prove sufficient for most of the tings we could encounter in the ever changing land of the dreams. We had each other, she reminded me. There was nothing that could hurt us, nothing that could stand in our way.
I listened to her and I believed her. I took the potion and felt my mind leave my body.
Side by side we travelled down the staircase of stone and through the gate to the land of the dream. The cats watched us in silence as we followed an odd trail, walking past the muddy huts of those who dwell here. Luna was leading the way and I was holding her hand. A creature that stood before us, denying us passage, was annihilated by a word me and Luna spoke in unison. The sky over us was purple and throbbing.
The vault before us was of stone, slimy from the many years dripping of water and propagating of those things that live in darkness. The door was crested with a skull and a snake - yes, those of Slytherin's house have always felt comfort in their symbols. Luna opened the door with a word of such nature that I never had heard such spoken before, and we entered. What age had not crippled laid unspoilt before our eyes. The tomes, the chalked symbols, the strange herbs and the knives. To my eye, that blasphemic vault is still clear as if I saw it just yesterday. That workbench cramped with the most unholy of magical artefacts and potion ingredients - most of which were long rotten. The braziers decorated with skeletons of non-human origin. The rug carelessly thrown aside to give room for a symbol, large as a full grown man lying down, of the most grotesque and ill boding nature. Luna eagerly went forth to the tomes, which also I could see were of large promise. She only gave them a hasty glance, however, before she concluded that what we searched were not here, were not to be found among the trinkets of lesser value the old necromancer had left behind. But it had been here and in dream there was a trial we could follow.
So further we travelled. Through mist and madness went our path, past decay and queerness, light and fantasy. Never did Luna hesitate or stray from the road we were following. Others followed us. Those inhabiting this particular part of the dream, those with the many legs and the large eyes. Those who are ever hungry. They followed us, curiously seeking enlightenment of our purpose and our goal. We ignored them such as wisely is done.
How I marvelled as we reached our goal, much further away then I had ever been before, to recognize it as a mere mirror image of the one place I knew so well. The Hogwarts library were stretching before us, but it was disproportionate and colourless, a dream of the place rather than the place itself. Eagerly we went forth, but here, for the first time, Luna showed irresolution. We followed the narrow corridors between the book shelves, we climbed as high we could reach on some and scrutinized the floor level books in other, but the trail we had followed eluded us. We said those words we knew to be said at such a place, but none spread light over our predicament. Yes, we were near to giving up when fate came to our help. Of course, when I think back I can't but wonder if it was really fate afoot at that moment.
One of the critters that had followed us suddenly gave yell and when we inquired for its cause we saw to our slight repulsion that it had been severely damaged, bitten as by a horrible mouth filled by tooth larger than can be expected. Ignorant for the warning thus amply provided we searched the place where we had found the critter, and soon we found that passway between the shelves, so narrow and concealed that we would never had found it, had it not been for this unfortunate creature of the dreaming. Carefully we approached the passway, and it was soon evident for us what entity had caused the distress for our involuntarily guide. The guardian was a foul beast of a kind never seen or spoken about in the world of the human. It was destroyed by me and Luna.
For how long we followed that passway I cannot say, just as I cannot say how long time we had spent searching for it or travelling to the library. It felt as an eternity, walking between those stuffy book shelves, neither air nor light in more than the most feeble quantities. Luna was walking before me and I was following, the narrow path not permitting us walking side by side. The trail was evident, we knew that we were approaching our goal.
Even by the standards of the dreaming it is hard for me to relate to the events that were to follow. Indeed, sometimes I feel that the only way to make sense of them is too regard them as a shadow play. Only by regarding the events that are recountable and extrapolate into that moment of which nothing can be told or understood, some knowledge of what came to pass can be gain. Or maybe a simpler explanation would be that I simply have chosen to forget, as the human mind is so inclined to, those events that finally tore my friend away from me. Sometimes, when I wake up and my mind still is vivid with the nightmares I have endured during the few moments of restless sleep, I feel that this is the most probable explanation and that I one day, when my mind is less watchful and allows these memories to slip into my conscious thoughts, I will yet again experience the true horror of that moment. At any rate, my task with this written account is to describe as objective and as truthful as possible what I encountered. Perhaps someone who read this will be able to explain what I can not.
Walking through the pathway, following my friend, I could sense the pull off the book growing steadily more intense. I could feel its containment in subtle ways change the very fabric of the place we were inhabiting, I could feel the lure of its secrets. From the increased eagerness in Luna's behaviour I can tell that she felt it as well. With this new attraction ahead my companions speed increased. She was all but running down the path and I needed all the strength I could muster to be able to keep up with her. I called out for her, but she did not answer. Knowing fully well how fatal it would be to loose contact I forced myself to run as fast as my companion, but even then her speed seemed to increase. Up ahead I could see a light emit, a light of a wave-length never seen or measured on earth. The lure of the book was increasing.
That was when my faithful friend, my companion and my collaborator finally slowed down, allowing me to catch up, my heart pounding, my breath hissing. She was a few steps ahead and I could see her walking, as calmly and unconcerned as she ever had walked the flowery paths of Hogwarts. On a small table before her lay the book, terrible and sinister, sending shivers down my spine. I called out to my friend again, but she did not answer me, she was too absorbed by the awaiting secrets. As I reached her she had lifted the book from its table, and for all my word is worth I swear that the strange light did flicker as she did so. She was holding it in both arm, in the same way as a mother might hold a child, cradling it and protecting it. Her face was turned away from me, her eyes on the book in her arms. I reached out and touched Luna's shoulder.
Never could I, even if given hundreds of years, remember how I fought my way back through the weird, labyrinthic land that is the dreaming. Never could I retell what words I uttered there at the farthest edge of my knowledge, or to what purpose. I am even unable to explain why I at all managed to find my way, how I crying and torn managed to endure the painful ascent by the staircase of stone. However, I was not surprised when I opened my eyes and learned that I was alone in our study, that my friend was no longer by my side and that the brazier she had lit herself now was cold. Neither did it surprise me as I later learned that a book of the most dangerous disposition had indeed been robbed from the most guarded section of the library, or that a secret vault, built below the very foundations of the castle, had caved in during the night.
Luna Lovegood has never been seen since, neither in this world nor in dreaming. I have told and retold my story dozens of times for the aurors and the unspeakables who the ministry has sent to question me, but I don't think they believe me. This narratorium is written not to reduce my own guilt in the death - if a death indeed it is - of a truly remarkable person, but as an explanation, most probable the only explanation that will ever be available, for those who as I lost something that night that can never be replaced.
When I reached out and touched Luna's shoulder it was cold as ice, making me hastily gasp and snatch my hand away. I saw her, standing just a few hands widths away from me, and for my eye it seemed that the light that had previously been emitting from the tome in her arms were now emitting from herself. The dancing, queer light of a disposition I had never seen before. As in response to my gesture she turned around, slowly, moving with a grace former unseen with her. Whether I screamed or not I do not know, but when I revisit that moment in my dreams this is usually, mercifully, when I wake up. At that time I did not wake up however.
The face of my friend was no longer a face that I knew. What had once been a crown of golden hair, long and slightly entangled, was now a stripy snarl of slimy seaweed from the blackest of depths in the ocean. What once was a small, slightly freckled nose was now a snout. The mouth that so often had smiled and laughed with mine was a sneer, filled by fangs and a flickering tongue. Her skin was no longer pale and smooth, but greenish and scaly. I do remember taking a step backwards at that moment, my eyes locked in disbelief at the horror who was wearing the clothes of my friend. Around the thing the light was pulsing, as if she was burning with a blasphemic, unearthly fire that did not consume. In its webbed hands the thing held the book we had come to search for, and to my excited mind it seemed to me as it was taunting me.
Then I met the eyes of the creature, its gaze holding mine, and I saw and understood. I understood that when - if indeed - I woke up, my friend would not be by my side. That the knowledge we so long had been seeking had now been obtained, that our last experiment had been a successful one indeed. And I understood that Luna, she who for so long had been burning so brightly in our world, now had burnt out.
The thing who stood before me, the creature of the fey which carried the blasphemic book I now wish I had never heard about - regarded me calmly. It regarded me with its big, silvery eyes, eyes like orbs of spun moonshine from the coldest of winter nights. The eyes I had so often gazed into, the eyes I had so often dreamed about. The creature that stood before me regarded me with the eyes of Luna Lovegood.