Mahou mo Ken
All rights to Harry Potter and its world, characters, and settings belong to JK Rowling. I don't own any of its characters, and I am not making any money off this.
Author's note – as I am unable to find a schedule for Year Six of the Harry Potter books, I made use of the daily course schedule of book five, found at the HP Lexicon. Thanks, guys!
Chapter ten – Snape
"Missed you," Harry said as he dropped an arm around Luna's shoulders. The blonde looked up at him, seemed to start saying something, before reconsidering and smiling softly up at him.
"Missed you too," she replied, leaning in to capture his lips.
"You only saw her half an hour ago!" Maya said, once their brief kiss ended. "You two really are sappy."
Harry shrugged. "Doesn't matter. I still missed her."
Luna said nothing and leaned closer against him, drawing his arm tighter around her.
Maya shook her head, and gave him an obviously tolerant smile. "That's almost as bad a line as that one you used about picking up girls in the Great Hall."
Luna smiled wider, and looked up at Harry. "You still need to prove you can pick up girls in the hallways," she reminded Harry. Hermione made to swipe at Maya while Ron groaned.
"Just just had to give them ammunition, didn't you?" he complained to the Japanese girl, who cringed under the scathing glare from Ginny and the look of obviously tolerant suffering coming from Neville. Harry, meanwhile, ignored his friends, and picked Luna up without any apparent effort. Knowing what was to come, she let herself fall into his hold without resistance, and without the squeak that had accompanied the last time.
Carrying her across the Great Hall was a great deal more interesting than carrying her down five floors and across the castle, but Harry wasn't about to admit defeat. Especially as he looked down, and realized the rather pleasant way his movements translated into Luna's body.
"Hm?" Harry looked up distractedly to Hermione, right in time to avoid bumping into a wall. Taking a quarter turn, he rounded the corner, and glared at her.
"Don't look at me like that. If I hadn't said anything, you'd have hit that wall," she defended herself.
Luna smiled serenely. "Don't smile like that, Luna," Hermione pressed on. "You would have hit that wall along with him! Besides, he was ogling you. If it hadn't been for you, I'd have let him hit that wall!"
The blonde's smile didn't drop. "I don't mind," she replied, and looked up at Harry, her face suddenly receiving a hint of shyness. He smiled faintly, his expression at once a mixture of apology and reassurance, answering her unasked question with an unstated reply, assuring her that yes, she was physically attractive, and that he was sorry for staring rather rudely.
The shyness dropped her her face, and her smile returned fully as she leaned against him, absolving him from any blame.
Five flights of stairs later, Harry was definitely feeling the strain in his arms. Luna lifted her head from his shoulder, and looked at him. Rather than asking, she looked into his eyes.
He smiled tightly. "This is going to be good for my physique, if I keep carrying you everywhere," he replied to her look.
"Your girlfriend got two broken legs, Potter?" Malfoy asked, pulling up to the group, Tracey and Daphne right behind him.
Harry started to shrug, but his shoulders soon told him that wasn't such a good idea, so he settled for sending a scathing look in the blond boy's direction. "You're just jealous that I have someone to carry around, Malfoy."
Malfoy smirked. "Right. I'm jealous because you have a girlfriend who's got two broken legs, and can't get Madam Pomfrey to fix them."
Luna laughed slightly, before reaching out. Harry obediently walked closer, and she patted his shoulder gently. "That's all right, Draco. I'm sure one day you will find someone, too."
Malfoy lifted an eyebrow as Luna retracted her arm, and Harry stepped back to his former distance. They had almost reached the Great Hall. "Where do you two get the ridiculous notion that I would be jealous?" he demanded.
"Because you can't help but make comments about my girlfriend?" Harry asked in reply. "Besides, with all your comments about her legs, which are very nice and not at all damaged by the way, I would be forced to think you are a leg-man."
"He's got you there, Draco," Daphne said with a faint giggle. "Good morning, Harry, Luna. Any day you feel like insulting Draco, please don't hesitate."
The Gryffindors stared in quiet astonishment as Harry bantered back and forth not just with Daphne and Tracey, whom they had gotten used to after his latest stint in hospital, but now, Draco Malfoy as well.
The rest of the day was filled with nothing more than classes, meals, friends, and Luna. Finally allowing himself to relax now that only Voldemort was still an issue, Harry came back down to Earth rather rudely that evening.
"Please sit down," Ken said, indicating a spot on the tatami that was the floor of the living room of the small residence she had created. Her voice, however, indicated that it was anything but a request, despite her choice of words. Harry obediently sat down, cross-legged. Without being told to, Maya sat down next to him.
"Today, we are going to focus on an area that we have overlooked for quite a while, as we have focused almost exclusively on your repertoire of spells and abilities, as well as your ability to control your magic," Ken said, as she sat down to face her two apprentices. "Today, we're going to focus on your ability to tap into Ley Lines."
Harry swallowed. "Hermione hasn't made much progress on the book we found," he said. "So all I've been doing is try and tap a line, and try not to get blown up."
Ken nodded. "Good, you've been practising. I hope you haven't actually done anything with that power yet?"
Harry shook his head. "Just holding it... I can't really explain it, Sensei."
Ken was silent for a few moments, thinking things over. "Very well," she finally said. "Please go to your mindscape, and Maya and I shall join you. We might be able to assist you."
Harry closed his eyes, and after three breaths, found himself in his mindscape. The process had become second nature to him now. Maya appeared next to him instantaneously. He allowed Ken passage through his shield when he felt her knock.
A little unsure of himself, he looked at his two visitors. "Whenever you are ready, Harry," Ken told him.
Harry nodded, and closed his eyes, reaching out to the Ley Lines he could feel humming at the edge of his subconscious. He touched the one running directly underneath, one of the three that crossed beneath the Great Hall, powering the great wards of Hogwarts.
The power lashed out at him as he touched it, immediately washing away whatever fatigue he had been feeling, and filling him with a sense of power. He reopened his mental eyes, and almost stumbled. He had never tapped a Line from within his mindscape, and hadn't really thought how it would affect him. His mindscape's Hogwarts was practically vibrating, oozing magic from the representation's stones. Similarly, the grass and the flowers were now glowing with health, and the very air itself was thick with the magic of it all.
"Damn," Maya muttered. "If only you could see yourself now."
Harry focused his eyes on his magical sister. "I know," he said.
"As impressive as this looks, we are here to work," Ken said, bringing the two teens back to reality. "Harry, we are here to catch you should something go wrong. Please cast a low-powered spell. We want to see what happens."
Harry nodded. This was why they had waited until now, he needed to be able to control his magic before doing things like this. There was a time he couldn't really control his magic, let alone his spells, to this extent. Drawing his staff, he pointed it at the Whomping Willow, the tree splaying its branches, as if reading Harry's intentions and determined to make a sport out of it. "Stupefy."
The stunner's usual red glow was a bright red glare as the spell flashed to the tree, and splashed over it. The branches wavered slightly, before waving at him, as if taunting him for failing to stun the tree.
"Your control was atrocious," Ken said. "You over-powered the spell, making it hard to control, and causing it to lose most of its potential power in that bright red light and fancy sound effects. Try something stronger, perhaps you won't overload a stronger spell."
Harry nodded. "Kuzuryusen." Nine flashes of azure energy flashed to the tree, four of which missed it completely, two falling short, and only three out of the nine striking it, reducing it to unevenly matched chopsticks.
"Again, you overloaded the spell," Ken said. "How do you feel? You are expending a lot of energy in those attacks."
Harry was practically bouncing on his feet. "Incredible. Powerful. I don't even feel the spells."
Ken frowned slightly. "I think you must be charging your spells directly off the Line, or the Line is recharging your magic so fast you can not feel it drain."
"I think it's option two," Harry said. "When I'm exhausted, and I tap a line, it recharges me, and I feel like I don't need sleep anymore. When I drop the Line, my magic's perfectly fine. Of course, that is when my body makes sure I know that it is still tired." He looked at the Whomping Willow, which had rebuilt itself by now. "I don't dare tap into the Lines every night. I'm scared I'll get addicted to this rush."
"Good thinking," Maya said. "besides, it doesn't do you much good, if you overload your spells like this."
"I'll need to work harder on my control," Harry replied to her.
Ken dipped her head. "That we must." She smiled faintly, and Harry felt chills race down his spine. "We'll drill your magical control in a similar fashion to when we first started out. Stop your connection to the Ley Line, and start playing some Spellis."
Harry dropped the connection to the Line, and faced Maya, who had drawn up a Spellis court with remarkable ease. He winced slightly when Maya brought a bludgeoning Hex into play for him to return. If he got hit with that...
It was a long night.
The next morning, much to his surprise, Luna decided to join Harry in his morning exercises, Ken hardly batting an eyelash, and starting Luna on a mild exercise routine to get her body used to physical exertions. Going through his own exercises, Harry kept an eye out for his girlfriend, and decided that the DA could also benefit from some added physical exercise.
Having Luna join them made them later than usual, and so Harry, Luna, and Maya didn't run into anyone else of the group as they hurried down to breakfast after grabbing a shower and a change of clothes.
Right before they reached the Great Hall, Harry threw a mischievous look in Luna's direction.
The blonde looked back with an angelic expression of innocence that was unrivalled. Grinning, Harry threw his staff to Maya and scooped up his girlfriend, without as much as breaking stride.
"I think I'll need to tell Sensei," Maya mused. "You have way too much energy after a training session."
Harry just chuckled as Maya pushed the doors open, allowing Harry to enter without putting down his precious burden. Throwing an arm around Harry, Luna sat up straight in his arms, as if being carried around was the least someone could do for her, and kept her face in a carefully schooled look of casual indifference, as if the stares and chuckles mattered not to her. Which, of course, they didn't.
Harry merely kept his gaze focused on Luna, where he put his feet, and his target at the Gryffindor table.
In that order.
After sitting down, with Maya at his side and Luna in his lap, Harry looked at his friends. Neville was shaking his head, laughing quietly to himself. Ginny was downright laughing, while Ron had decided that his breakfast was more important than whatever Harry was up to now. He'd seen Luna being carried around a few times now, and after two times, he'd about seen it. Hermione had her fists in her side, and was glaring at Harry.
"Hermione Jean Granger," Harry interrupted, stunning the girl into silence, not having expected that retort. He grinned at her while Luna gathered breakfast. He obediently opened his mouth when a fork entered his vision. "Thanks, Love."
"You're welcome, Harry," Luna said serenely.
"Harry, don't you think you've carried Luna around enough?" Hermione finally asked, on a more subdued tone.
"Nope," Harry replied immediately. "Me man. Carry girl. Feel strong," he said in his best 'caveman' impersonation. Hermione sighed.
"Besides, she joined me, Maya, and Sensei for a workout this morning. The training is good for her, and carrying her around is good for me. Win-win, right?"
Hermione huffed, before crossing her arms across her chest and giving Harry a mock-stern glare. "I guess."
"Thankee kindly, Lady," Harry said, recognising the teasing in his first female friend. He then turned to Luna, and accepted the next fork full of food she was holding out for him.
That evening, at the DA meeting, Harry once again led the group in meditation. He threw a worried glance at Luna. She had been rather subdued that evening, had sat next to him, and hadn't responded to his glanced offer of carrying her.
As such, he had made one modification to the regular meditation exercise, and asked her to sit in front of him, facing him. Silently, he asked her permission. There was barely a moment's hesitation before she gave it, and he took her hands in his own, closed his eyes, and materialized in his mindscape.
His shields accepted her at his urge, and Luna's mental image slowly appeared next to his own.
"Welcome to my humble mind," Harry said with a small smile.
She returned his smile, and unabashedly looked around. He, in turn, stared unabashedly at her.
Rather than being dressed in Hogwarts robes, the way he was, her mental image was dressed in a long, flowing, white robe the kind he had once seen in History of Magic books, belonging to ancient druids. Her hair shone in the light of the mental sun, and a small circlet made of braided wild flowers rested on top of her head.
To him, Luna looked like an ancient priestess.
"Like what you see?" she finally asked with a small hint of both teasing and nervousness. Despite their talks, Luna still had that insecurity to her, and Harry blinked.
"Sorry, didn't mean to stare," he said with a small flush. "But yes, I like what I see."
The nervousness disappeared and her smile grew slightly larger. "Want to tell me what happened?" Harry finally asked.
The smile dropped, and Luna turned to look at the lake. "It's nothing, Harry."
He turned to match her, and placed one hand on her shoulder. He felt her tense before relaxing as he did so, and it made him frown. "I don't think it's nothing, Luna." He faced her, and gently let his arms slip around her, not wanting to either startle or hurt her. He didn't know why she'd tensed at his earlier contact, but he had no intention of doing it again. "Please, tell me?"
She sighed. "I had Defence this afternoon."
Harry tensed. "What happened?" he managed to say, unaware that his mindscape had darkened, and that a chilly wind had risen.
"We were discussing pain curses," Luna said, hugging him back, burying her face in his shoulder "I was asked to demonstrate how to defend against them."
Images of last year flashed through Harry's mind, the voice snapping out to clear your mind, right before a brutal attack was launched. If Defence was taught the same way... "Luna, did he at least explain how to-"
"No," she whispered.
He hugged her closer. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he whispered in her ear. "The bastard did it to get to me. If you'd rather-"
Again, she interrupted him. This time, by planting her lips firmly on his. "Never. If you can stand against curses and hexes, I can stand against some pain curses. Besides, they were nothing compared to the Cruciatus."
"That doesn't make it right," Harry muttered. He kissed her, gently. "Does it still hurt?"
She shook her head. "I'm just tender. Hold me a little longer?"
He did just that; ending the meditation exercise fifteen minutes later than usual because of it. If anybody noticed, nobody commented. Especially after the dark look that Harry suddenly developed, or the look of worry he sometimes threw in Luna's direction.
How he managed the DA meeting, he would never know. In fact, he couldn't even say what they had worked on. As soon as the session was over, he stormed out.
Halfway down to the ground floor, Ron and Hermione flanked him, Maya walked behind them.
"Care to tell us why you tore out of there like a bat out of Hell, mate?" Ron asked, as Ginny and Neville finally caught up. Luna was heard, before joining them as well.
Harry glanced at Luna. "Luna had Defence this afternoon," was all the explanation he gave.
"We're discussing pain curses," Luna furthered the explanation. "It was a tad painful, however, Harry seems to want to have a discussion with the professor himself."
Run, Hermione, Neville, and Ginny turned pale, while Maya merely looked at murderous as Harry felt.
By now, they had reached the ground floor, and turned to the staircase to the dungeons. "No way are you dealing with him yourself, mate," Ron declared.
"That's right," Ginny said. "I'll Bat-Bogey him so bad his grand-children will still be trying to get rid of them all."
"Ew," Neville muttered. "Imagine Snape finding someone to have children with."
The others shuddered. "Gee, thanks, Neville," Harry muttered. "As if the greasy git hadn't scarred me enough."
"Happy to help," Neville said with a cheerful grin, twirling his wand in his right hand. The look in his eyes closely reflected a certain look from the Department of Mysteries.
"He's a professor, Harry," Hermione interjected.
"He hurt one of us," Neville said. "Doesn't matter if he were the King of England."
"What I mean is, he can probably take all of us. He's good with the Dark Arts, and doesn't seem to be too scared of using them."
Maya flipped open her MC, and sent out a quick message. "He'd better not. Sensei will destroy him if he does," the Japanese witch stated calmly. "Or rather, she'll destroy what's left of him after we're through with him."
Harry lifted his staff, an knocked it against the door leading to Snape's chambers. The knocks sounded and resounded through the door and the surrounding stone, actually making the floor vibrate.
"Ah, Potter. I was expecting you, your majesty," the former Potions Master declared. To Harry's surprise, the greasy-haired man grabbed him, and shoved him inside roughly. "You can stay outside," he declared to the others before they could lift hand or wand, and smashed the door closed.
"Have a drink, Potter," Snape sniped, motioning for a glass on the coffee table.
"No, thank you," Harry said, somewhat politely. This wasn't how he had expected this to go!
"Drink, Potter!" the man snapped.
"I don't think so," Harry replied, glad they were on more familiar grounds now. "It's probably full of Veritaserum."
The man's sallow face revealed a deep-seated anger. Before Harry could react, the man turned to face him. "Then we'll have your secrets the hard way!" a wand appeared out of his robes, drawn faster than Harry had thought possible, and that spell echoed through the air.
Immediately, Harry's head felt like it was about to explode as he was violently catapulted directly into the Headmaster's Office in his mental representation of Hogwarts. The walls turned transparent the same moment his hand smashed down on the Big Red Switch, activating his entire arsenal of mental defences against the intrusion.
Around him, he could see the grass disappearing as his mental cannons were brought out to play, bright and violent energy lashing out at the intruder.
Within his mind, all Harry could see was a formless, shapeless cloud of blackened energy, the flashing mental energy of his cannons disappearing into it with little or no feedback whether he was hitting something or not.
Cursing, all Harry could do was scramble to get as much of his memories inside his secondary barriers, trying to protect them from Snape's intrusion while his offences were whittled away one by one as the Snape-cloud lashed out and destroyed them.
His head pounding with the stress of trying to contain half a lifetime's worth of memories behind core-shielding designed to hold only a core personality, he could do nothing but stare, and hope that, somehow, he'd make it through this.
Only now did he realize just how good the man was, just how powerful he would have to be in the mental arts to keep out repeated attacks by Voldemort, and just how lacking his protection was.
"Valiant effort, potter," Snape declared, his creepy voice resounding through the mindscape when the last of the cannons fell. "Too bad for you it just wasn't enough. Your own arrogance will cost you dearly."
"You attacked me," Harry shouted back. "You will be the one in trouble!"
Snape actually laughed, while the outer walls of Harry's mental Hogwarts started to fail. "And yet there will be plenty of witnesses who saw you come down to my chambers, angered over my treatment of your little blonde friend."
Harry's lips curled back. "You bastard!"
"In fact, I think I will enjoy teaching her after your mind is nothing more but the goo I always saw it was!" Snape said when the outer wall fell away completely, the shapeless cloud finally turning into a representation of the man. He looked somewhat tired, breathing deeply, with only a few shallow cuts to show for all the effort Harry had put into his attacks.
Harry was furious, virtually trembling on his mental legs, both with physical exhaustion and pure fury as he stared at the hated professor through the semi-transparent barriers of his core shields.
"Impressive shielding," Snape said, probably the first real compliment Harry had ever received from the man. "But not good enough, Potter!"
Harry screamed when energy lashed at his shields, tightening into a single beam, burning away at a single point of his shields, overloading even the drainage Harry had built into them. He looked at the last remaining wall, and lifted his hand off the Big Red Switch.
"If I'm going, I'm taking you with me, asshole," Harry snapped, smashing his fist through the cover over an old-fashioned high-voltage switch. Grabbing hold of the handle with both hands, he pulled, his eyes involuntarily reading what his mind had written on the warning sign above.
Mental-Magic override bridge – Do Not Pull!
As the huge switch groaned, Harry felt the resistance of his own magic. It took three long seconds to pull the switch into its closed position.
The moment it made contact, Harry felt all conscious control over his magic and his mental abilities vanish. The override bridge worked as it was intended to, and tied his emotions into his magic, and tied the resulting mess directly into his mental abilities.
Harry had no time to scream as a bright flash burned through his mindscape.
"Dammit!" Maya snapped as she brandished her staff at the door.
"Don't!" Hermione shouted. "The teacher's quarters are tied into the Hogwarts wards! You don't want to be on the wrong side of those. Trust me!"
"He's kidnapped Harry!" Maya snapped back. The next moment, she felt his confusion at being offered a drink, before feeling the paranoia about Veritaserum. She was about to think back a good to her brother, when she felt the Legillimens attack, and pain exploded through her mind when the man attacked.
Her automatic shields immediately cut the backlash through the link, and she merely staggered, clutching her head and dropping her staff.
"Attack," she whispered, grabbing her MC. "Sensei, now. Pick up. Pick up. PICK UP, DAMMIT..."
"Sensei, Snape mentally attacked Harry. Request use of Killing Curse to override door lock wards."
"How long does he have?"
"Not long," Maya replied. "Sensei?"
"Request granted. I'll come ASAP."
Maya lifted her staff. The next moment, regardless of autonomous shields, she felt the magical-mental detonation shear right through her protections. Her mouth opened into a silent scream, the world blurring and fading to her senses, driving her to her knees before she even knew what was happening. The world kept dimming, and she was sure she would lose all consciousness before she was able to reassert control over her faculties, and brought up some shields that somehow prevented her from completely blacking out.
She returned to full wakefulness to snapping fingers. She followed the fingers to a wrist, arm, shoulder, up to Ken's face. "Maya?" her Sensei asked, worry evident in her voice.
"Harry..." Maya croaked, wrestling herself to her legs. "He did something."
At that moment, Maya realized that Ken had brought Dumbledore. The old man didn't look too good, and Maya did not debate what methods Ken had used to get the man here as soon as she did. The ageing Headmaster held the override to the quarters, and employed said override immediately upon noticing there was no reply from inside.
The door opened to a scene of war, Harry seated against one wall, head tilted up in a silent scream to the heavens, the furniture reduced to nothing but kindling and dust, the Potions-slash-Defence Professor crumbled against the far wall, eyes staring unseen at the boy.
"Harry?" Dumbledore asked, about to step in. As he did so, the energy in the room singed his clothing, and the man withdrew with a startled look.
"His magic's tied into his mental abilities," Maya replied to the incredulous look. "In other words, his mind wants to defend itself without conscious control, and is using Harry's magic to supplement what it can't do by itself." She calmly waked inside, the energy flashing around her, yet not striking her. "He shall not harm me."
Luna was about to reach out when her hand was grabbed by Hermione. "Do you really want to run the risk, Luna?"
The little blonde Ravenclaw stared at Hermione with a fully lucid expression that was patently out of place on Luna's face. "Once again, he got hurt because of me. He only came here because that bastard attacked me. I owe this to him." She snapped her hand free of Hermione's grip, and drew a breath before bravely stepping forward.
Again, the energy lashed out, halting mere centimeters before her, flashing around her, and for a moment, it looked as if it formed a bright golden shield around her. She stepped forward, and knelt down next to Maya.
"Come on, little brother, you need to snap out of this," Maya whispered urgently. "We can't help you like this!"
Luna placed one hand on Harry shoulder. "He'll destroy himself like this," she said. "He'll exhaust his magic."
"Snape must've been on the verge of winning," Maya muttered. "And this was his last resort – mutually assured destruction."
"Mad, indeed," Luna muttered. "Come on, Harry. You can't leave me alone like this." The energy seemed to stop its wreathing for a moment, as if debating something. Calmly, the blonde Ravenclaw reached out. "Come back to me, Harry. Please." Placing her lips on his open mouth, she kissed him.
The energy fell away, and Harry slumped in her embrace.
"What's happened?" Tracey asked, falling into step without question, Daphne automatically taking the other flanking position, and Draco bringing up the rear.
"Snape attacked Harry," Hermione replied coldly. "What are you doing here?"
Tracey shrugged. "You don't think that we wouldn't know if a bunch of Gryffindors – and one Ravenclaw – came into the dungeons?"
"True enough," Hermione muttered.
"How bad is it?" Daphne asked from the other side of the group, shooting a rather worried glance at Harry, floating in Ken's suspension field, Luna holding on to his hand for dear life.
"We don't know yet," Ken replied testily. "It will take a few hours before my Apprentice will have a chance to start communicating mentally." The Japanese magic-user shot a venomous glance in Dumbledore's direction. "If that man survives, I want his head."
Dumbledore looked at Snape, floating under Dumbledore's power.
"I don't think that will be an issue, Ken-sama," the man said, still trying to do his best to calm her down. "From what I can see and determine, Severus' mind … isn't."
"Good," Maya snapped. "Bastard tried to rape my brother. He got what he deserved."
The look on the faces of the three Slytherins could only be described as murderous.
Finally, they arrived in the Hospital Wing, Madam Pomfrey immediately sequestering Harry into his usual bed. "I'll let everybody know when he regains consciousness," the matron stated, her voice not broking any argument.
"Excuse me, Madam Pomfrey," Luna said, quietly, when the matron started to usher everybody out. "I believe my Cruciatus exposure is acting up again. I think I should stay here for the night."
"That was quite a while ago," Pomfrey said. "I may have been willing to extend you one night, but I can't justify letting you stay when you're all right."
"Snape used various pain curses on me during Defence class. It was how he got Harry angry enough to come to him," the blonde said, quietly. She swallowed, and her shoulders dropped as she stared sadly at the ground. "Again, he got hurt because of me."
Pomfrey shot a look that bode only death and destruction to the Headmaster. "I have warned you time and time again," the nurse stated angrily to Dumbledore, before starting to scan Luna. "I see, child. A good night's sleep, and you'll be good as new."
Luna looked up, determination filling her features as she drew her wand, and aimed it at her hand. "I'd suggest a bludgeoning curse to the abdomen," Tracey said. "It'll hurt like nobody's business, but if you cast it at minimal strength, there won't be permanent damage."
"I'd kindly ask you not to give anybody ideas," Pomfrey snapped at the Slytherin, who shrugged unrepentantly. At the same time, the nurse's hand shot out, and restrained Luna's wand hand, now starting to aim at her stomach. "I'll keep you here for observation this night," she went on, gently. "However, tomorrow, you will be going to class."
Maya placed a hand on Luna's dropping shoulders. "I'll be here during the day," she said to the Ravenclaw. Luna looked up at Maya. "And I'll be with him at night."
The nurse sighed, and nodded. "I'll let you stay the night," she finally said. "But this is a Hospital Wing, so there will not be any monkey business, am I clear?"
"Yes, Madam Pomfrey," Luna whispered, before looking up. "Thank you."
Maya jumped at the chance the moment she felt Harry's mind bring itself to a high enough level of function to reconnect their link. Materializing somewhere else, she blinked, not expecting the sight in front of her.
All around her, a dark grey mist permeated the air, robbing her of her sight, and dampening her sense of smell with its acrid nature. Even though the mist was moving, she could feel no wind to drive it. It was of a unique nature, the likes of which she could not explain.
The mist seemed to pause, and for a moment, Maya had the uncomfortable sensation of being evaluated – unfortunately she did not know on which points said evaluation was taking place. Finally, the mist cleared a path, and for the first time Maya could see below her own midriff, the dark, burnt-to-a-crisp ground materializing from the fog beneath her feet.
Getting the point, she followed the clear path, to arrive not long after in a large crater, in the centre of which lay Harry's mental representation, burnt, bloodied, and naked – save for a few scraps of clothing to protect his modesty.
"Come on, Little Brother, don't give up," she muttered, kneeling down and pulling Harry to her. Closing her eyes, she willed her own energy to enter him.
His eyes blinked slowly, as if they had trouble focusing on their surroundings. "You're safe now, Harry. Come on, accept some energy from me."
He muttered nonsense-words as she blinked up at her, before a slight drain started to manifest itself to her. That slight drain soon became a raging torrent as Harry's depleted mind latched onto a source of nourishment.
Harry's clothes rebuilt themselves, and Maya let him drain her as far as she dared before wrenching the torrent off. Panting and hurting, she held him in trembling arms. "Harry?"
"Maya," he muttered. Slowly, he shifted to sight upright under his own power. "Thank you."
She nodded. "You're... welcome," she panted.
"It hurts," he stated. Maya snorted.
"Of course it hurts, you bloody idiot," she retorted. "There's a reason why you shouldn't pull that switch."
"It was either pull the switch and take the bastard with me, or let him rape my mind, destroy whatever he wanted, and let him rampage all over Luna," Harry protested.
"Well, you took him with you," Maya replied. "His mind's... gone."
Harry drew a deep breath, honestly not knowing how he felt about that.
"Now, what's this mist?" Maya asked, deciding to get away from uncomfortable subjects. She could feel his mind rebuilding, now that she had jump-started him. Unfortunately, whatever it was rebuilding was hidden by the mist.
Harry looked at it, as if seeing ti for the first time. "Snape destroyed everything," he finally said. "This is what's left. Every turret, every stone, every blade of grass."
"Damn," Maya muttered. "He really wasn't going to leave anything, was he?"
Harry just shook his head.
"Get some rest, Little Brother," Maya said, standing up. "Oh, before I forget, you have a very determined girlfriend. She threatened to hex herself if Madam Pomfrey wouldn't let her stay in the Hospital Wing. Tracey helped – she was telling your girl which spells she could use to hex herself."
"Oh, Luna," Harry muttered.
"Pomfrey relented before she did it, though," Maya reassured Harry.
"She must feel so guilty," Harry went on, as if he didn't hear her. He nodded. "I should try and rest for a few hours, then try and wake up. I should reassure her."
"She'll still be around tomorrow, Harry. Recovery first, girlfriend second."
Harry looked at his sister. "Easy for you to say, Sis. You don't have a boyfriend."
Maya shrugged, before placing a hand on his shoulder. "Rest up, Harry."
He nodded. "I will. Thanks, Sis."
She smiled slightly. "You're welcome, Bro. Sleep tight."
Harry nodded to the empty air that used to hold Maya, before looking at the mist. "I think I'll leave you," he muttered, before closing his eyes, and letting himself drop into unconsciousness. Blackness took him, and he knew no more.
It was several hours later that his thoughts were his own once more, and consciousness seeped back into his battered mind and body.
He was vaguely aware of a dull moaning sound escaping his lips as he opened his eyes, trying desperately to focus on his surroundings. His entire body felt stiff and sore, while his eyes felt like they were encased in sand-paper, a dull grating pain flashing through his head every time he tried to move them – or even blink, for that matter.
He grit his teeth to keep from moaning as he slowly looked around, trying to figure out where his glasses were.
"Harry?" a sleepy voice asked, while a humanoid-shaped blob with yellow-golden hair detached itself from a bed-like blob.
"Hey, Luna," he whispered, his voice raw and his throat hurting from the exertion.
"I was worried that Wrackspurts might have gotten you," the blonde whispered, sitting down on his bed. Harry remembered that mythical creature from his earlier stay in the Hospital wing.
"I'm tougher... than I look," he muttered, managing a weak smile in her direction. "Although my brain does feel fuzzy."
Luna was silent for a few seconds, before leaning down, and drawing him into a hug. "Don't ever do that again," she whispered.
"Do what again?" he asked, groaning slightly while as he lifted his arms to hug her back.
"Get hurt on my account," she said. "This is the second time you got hurt because of me. Please don't do it again. I'm not-"
"If you are going to say you're not worth it, forget it," Harry managed to say, even half-way managing to sound vaguely angry with his barely functioning throat. "How do you think I would feel if you got hurt because of me, and not do anything about it?" He finally managed to make a grab for his glasses, yet missed horribly.
Luna made a small apologetic noise, and within seconds, he had his vision restored. He looked at her, the relief on her face, the unshed tears in her eyes, down to those cute Snorkack pyjamas that were so very Luna. "I'm sorry I made you worry," he finally said.
She sighed, and gently lifted him upright before bringing a glass of water to his lips. Once more, he leaned against her, feeling her warmth seep into his body. "I was just so worried," she admitted.
Harry drank calmly from the fresh water, hissing with relief as it cooled his throat. "Sorry to make you worry."
She shook her head, making waist-length blonde hair flying. "I should be the one who's sorry."
He leaned more against her, letting her take the rest of the strain, unable to assist in keeping himself upright anymore. Again, he was struck by how warm and soft she was, and how right it felt to be here, like this, with her. "You've got nothing to be sorry for," he whispered.
"You are precious to me," he whispered, interrupting her. "I care a lot for you," he finally admitted. "I don't want you to get hurt because of me." He swallowed. "And then he... he... tried to..."
She shifted, hugging him closer, and for a moment, Harry's mind went away from what had happened to the softness of certain parts of her body that were now pressed against him. He dropped his head onto her shoulder, and breathed in deeply. Her hug felt more comforting that anything he had ever felt before. A shudder went trough his body when his mind thought back to Snape.
"It's all right, Harry. There's no shame in crying," she whispered.
He buried his face deeper into her shoulder when a second shake went through him.
When his quiet sobbing died down, he merely felt empty. Empty, and warm. He managed to lift his head, and looked deep into her eyes. "Thank you." He swallowed.
She smiled faintly. "Isn't that what a girlfriend does?" she asked, faintly.
He returned her smile, and leaned back against her. "I think I should get some more sleep," he muttered, and felt her lower him back to a lying position. Her lips brushed against his, and he looked up at her. "That's all the good-night kiss I get?" he managed to ask with a faint teasing note in his voice.
"You're already getting better," Luna decided, her faint smile widening as she leaned closer, and kissed him again, this time harder.
He smiled up at her, even though the world went blurry as she folder his glasses onto the night stand. He managed to grab her hand, feeling the warmth from her again after losing it when she broke her contact with him. "Thank you, Luna. You're the best."
He expected her to reassure him, then pull her hand away and go back to bed, and for a moment he wished she wouldn't. To his surprise, her second hand was placed on top of his hand, sandwiching his hand in between both of her smaller hands, before he felt it being lifted. Her lips pressed against his exposed fingers, she whispered to him, "You're welcome, Harry. And..." he felt, rather than heard, her swallow. "Thank you. For looking out for me. Even if..."
"I care," he whispered, halfway to sleep. "Please don't say those things."
His eyes fluttered closed to the remarkable sensation of feeling a girl hold his hand as he drifted off.
The next morning, Madam Pomfrey gently shook Luna awake. "Miss Lovegood?"
Luna lifted her head off the bed, groaning slightly as her back protested from having slept in a chair. "Madam Pomfrey, good morning," she said when her back had finished popping. "Did the Nargles wake you up?"
The nurse smiled faintly at her 'guest'. "Why were you sleeping in a chair?" she asked, rather than reply to the question.
"Harry woke up half through the night. We talked some. I held his hand when he fell asleep, and I couldn't bring myself to let him go," the blonde replied, looking at Harry, whose eyes were now fluttering.
"Morning," he muttered.
"Good morning, Harry," Luna said, a faint smile on her face as she fished for his glasses on the night stand, placing them gently onto Harry's face. "Did you sleep well?"
"I did," he yawned. "but you you look like you didn't."
She shrugged, and gave him a small, reassuring smile. "Don't worry about me, Harry."
Harry didn't look convinced, but he was too tired and hungry to pursue the matter. "If you say so, Luna," he muttered. His stomach rumbled. "I may have slept well, but I could eat a horse."
Madam Pomfrey finished her wand-waving. "Apart from your exhaustion, you seem fine, Mr. Potter. I think I will let you go before supper, keep you under observation for the rest of the day."
Harry nodded; he felt too tired to argue with the nurse – let alone go to class. He looked up as Maya entered, bearing a large basked of fruit.
"Good morning, Little Brother," Maya said with a faint smile, sitting down on Harry's bed, across from Luna. "I nicked you some breakfast."
"You're a life-saver," he declared with absolute conviction, reaching for the blushing pieces of fruit that were just inviting him to eat them.
Maya chuckled as he tore into the food, replenishing the energy required to rebuild his mind. "I should go to class," Luna said, standing up. "I'll be back before you're released, Harry," she promised him.
Harry shoved the rest of a banana through his throat, and smiled up t her. "Thanks, sweetheart."
Luna leaned over, and kissed him." You're welcome, handsome," she whispered in reply, before straightening up. "Mm. Apple and banana. Tasty."
Harry grinned. "I aim to please," he replied, biting into a juicy pear.
For most of the day, Harry was either eating, sleeping, or, every now and then, working for a few minutes in his mindscape with Maya. By the time evening fell, he felt loads better, and was actually quite looking forward to the visit from Luna.
Much to his surprise, Luna wasn't alone, as a lot of the inner-core DA members accompanied her. Ron, Neville, and Ginny were most appreciative for taking care of Snape, while Hermione looked vaguely disapproving, but still expressed her happiness that he was all right.
"Ready to be released, Mr. Potter?" Madam Pomfrey asked, after giving her wand a final flick.
"Most definitely, Madam Pomfrey," Harry said with a faint smile. "But didn't I ask you to call me Harry last time?"
The nurse smiled faintly. "I seem to recall something like that, Harry. However, professional courtesy says that I shouldn't address my patients with their given name."
Harry waved his hand. "Pf. 'Mister Potter' makes me feel like I'm either old, or in trouble."
The nurse actually chuckled slightly. "Very well. Up you get, Harry."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, standing up, surprised at how weak his legs felt, and unable to suppress a wince and a grunt. Luna was at his side immediately, Ron half a second behind her at his other side. "You all right, mate?" Ron asked.
"Sure. It's just that I think I've used a lot more against Snape than I realized before getting out of bed," Harry replied, taking a step forward. "I'll manage."
"Do you trust me, Harry?" Luna asked.
"Of course," he replied immediately, frowning slightly in confusion, not knowing what she had planned now.
"Can I try something, then?" she asked, an impish smile on her face. He shrugged.
Immediately, she took her wand from behind her ear, and waved it around, mumbling some words under her breath. Her spell finished, and a tingling sensation went through him. She put her wand back, and grabbed him.
To his surprise, his feet came off the ground with no visible effort on Luna's part, and not half a second later, he was held in her arms, much the same way in which he would carry her around. "Well, that's a novel sensation," Harry said, realizing he was leaning against a very interesting part of her anatomy.
"I'm not strong enough to carry you, so I cast a feather-light charm," she explained. "And I felt like proving that I could pick up boys, just like you can pick up girls. Are you comfortable?"
He wiggled slightly, and a flush spread on her cheeks. "I know I am," he replied with a grin. "But are you sure you want to keep doing this?"
A twinkle appeared in her eyes. "Just don't wiggle too much, or I might drop you," she warned, and turned to walk out the door. Ron was snickering, while Ginny and Neville had the biggest 'aww – cute' expressions on their faces. Hermione just shook her head in obvious tolerance.
Throwing an arm around Luna's shoulders, Harry let her carry him, rather enjoying the sensation. Now he knew why she enjoyed it so.
More and more students joined the impromptu procession to the Great Hall, the students chattering excitedly. The moment that Luna carried Harry in, a hush descended over the students already present, as they took him in, held aloft in the arms of his girlfriend.
The next moment, cheers and applause sounded from the Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor tables, with some scattered applause from the Slytherin students mixed in for variety. Harry flushed bright red, embarrassed.
Finally, he realized that Luna wasn't going to move unless he did something, so he waved and gave a shy smile. He sighed when Luna lowered him at the Gryffindor table, before reversing the roles and clambering onto his lap.
"Seriously, cheers for getting rid of Snape, mate," Dean said from a few seats down. Harry merely lifted his goblet of orange juice in the other boy's direction, not knowing how to handle the attention. He had nearly killed a man... he should feel worse about this, shouldn't he?
The man was evil, Maya consulted. Don't worry so much about it.
He looked up at her, seated across from him at the table. Thanks, Sis.
Meh, she waved his gratitude off. He attacked you. You should have plastered him on the walls instead of burning his mind.
Oh... vicious, he muttered in her direction, shooting a grateful smile in Luna's direction as she held out some meat for him to bite into.
"You should focus on your meal," his girlfriend suggested. "If you don't eat, the Warbuckles will get you."
He chewed, swallowed, and nodded. With her in his lap, Harry had little choice but to eat what she shoved in front of his nose, but he found that he didn't really mind. He liked having her this close to him. He'd never really felt this way before, never really had someone to be this close to before, and he discovered that he rather enjoyed it.
Dinner was well under-way when the doors to the Great Hall opened, and a dejected looking Dumbledore was followed by a Ken that looked decidedly... smug.
"I see it," Maya said, looking over her shoulder to the unusual procession. "I've never seen Sensei look so... smug... before."
As Dumbledore proceeded to the Head Table, Ken turned, and angled to where Maya and Harry were seated. "I am glad to see you out of the Hospital Wing, Harry. I hope you are well?"
"Hungry and exhausted, Sensei," Harry replied truthfully. "But, nothing I haven't felt before."
Ken nodded. "I have been in discussion with your Headmaster for most of the day. My apologies for not being able to be at your side in the hospital."
"I'm sure it was important, Sensei," Harry answered.
"It was," Ken said with a nod. "The English Ministry wanted to charge you for what happened with the former defence professor of this school. However, using Maya's testimony and your story from what happened, I was able to convince them it was self-defence."
"Is that why the Headmaster is looking so...." Harry's voice trailed off as he didn't really know how to describe the Headmaster's state of mind.
"Looking as if the cat ate his favourite canary, then went back and drank all his cream as well?" Ken asked with a faint lifted eyebrow. Harry, Maya, and half the Gryffindor table chuckled. The rest of the Great Hall, although silently listening to what Ken was saying didn't really feel courageous enough to laugh at the Headmaster.
"Basically," Ken said with a small nod. "Although I think the fact that his defence teacher's mind has been burned to the ground by you might have something to do with it as well."
Harry nodded. "As Maya explained, the man was pure evil, and I shouldn't feel guilty about a Death Eater being out of the game."
"I am glad to see you taking a pragmatic stance, Harry. Now, if you will excuse me, I think I shall join the Head Table and talk to some of your teachers. We will need to devise a more intensive training schedule for you."
"Thank you, Sensei."
Harry, Maya, and Ken were standing not far from the Great Lake, with Luna and the rest of the core DA members not far away.
"So, Basically, you will be required to take only a few core subjects, Charms and Transfiguration, while the rest of your subjects can be dropped. In their stead, I will be taking over your education during those periods, teaching you swordsmanship, Kidou, Seal Casting, Japanese Magic, and other subjects," Ken explained. "However, this is all on the condition that you agree to the change, of course."
Harry nodded. "I understand, Sensei. But, what about my exams?"
"Good question", Ken replied. "As you would be registered as my full-on Apprentice, you will be taking your Masters Examinations from me. I, and I alone, will decide when you are ready to graduate. When you do, you will do so as a fully accredited Master Mage of the Empire of Japan." She walked around him, and placed one hand on his shoulder. "You will find me fair. However, you will also find me hard to appease, even harder to impress, and it will take you many more years before I will consent to graduating you." She looked over at Maya. "There will be no difference between you and Maya," she said, turning back to Harry.
Harry was silent, digesting the new information and the choice before him. "Does that mean I have to leave Britain?"
"Only if you so chose," Ken answered, resuming her trek around him and walking back to where her staff was still standing, upright, balancing on its tip.
Harry nodded. "Then yes, Sensei, I would really like to take you up on your offer."
Ken dipped her head. "Very well, then it is settled. Let's begin with some swordsmanship lessons. We've been focusing on magic these last few weeks, and I believe it's time for some variety."
Harry nodded eagerly. He had thought a lot about what happened during the battle of Hogsmeade, and was eager to learn more about his sword, and its unique capabilities. "Good," Ken said. "The following exercise won't require a practice sword – it requires the use of your main weapon."
Harry nodded, looking even more eager now. "I want you to draw your sword, and extend it, straight ahead, both hands on the handle and arms stretched out."
Doing as he was told, Harry drew his sword, put both hands on the handle, and extended his arms straight ahead. "Subtract five centimetres from that, and that is your maximum forward kill range. Now, drop your left arm, and extend your blade to your right. Again, subtract five centimetres, and that is your kill range to the right." Getting the hang of this, he shifted the weapon to his left upon her command.
"Now, I want you to become aware of those ranges. Do not step unless you have to, but, do not miss because you missed a step. Become aware of how far you and your blade can extend in order to kill." She grabbed her staff, and jerked it up with a single conjuration word.
An even dozen bamboo pillar shot up from the ground, standing about his own height. "Go through them Harry, cutting them down. Do not bother yourself with speed just yet, but economize your motions. This exercise is about establishing your range for you, rather than build up speed. Take a moment to think if you need it to judge your distance."
Harry nodded, and started the exercise.
All in all, he had done crappy, or so he thought. He'd missed two completely, making him take a second swipe, he had cut three by only half, showing that he'd hit the pillar with the very tip of his sword – a wounding, rather than a killing, strike. The others he'd struck too much to the centre of his sword for his tastes, showing he'd been too close, and risk embedding his sword so deep in his opponent that he wouldn't be able to free it fast enough.
"That was a good first attempt," Ken said, as she fixed the bamboo targets. "Again."
The sun was touching the horizon when Ken finally allowed him to stop the training. After the first dozen attempts, she started to shuffle the targets around, after it became obvious that Harry was learning the course, rather than the range of his sword.
By the time she finally let him go, he had to admit that the exercise had been very impressive in its ability to teach him his own body, and the range of his weapon.
After dinner, the entire group retreated to the Gryffindor Common Room, and nobody even batted an eyebrow at Luna joining them. If Harry Potter, not to mention, Hermione Granger, Ron and Ginny Weasley, and Neville Longbottom didn't comment, who were the other Gryffindors to do so? Besides, after Ken and Maya living permanently in the Common Room, the appearance of one Ravenclaw wasn't going to get much of a rise out of the Gryffindors.
Arranging a few couches close to the fire, the entire group spent the rest of the evening talking, about everything and nothing.
The next morning, Harry returned to full consciousness with a painful groan, as pain shot through his neck. He grit his teeth to stifle his groan as he lifted his head, only to realize he had slept upright, seated in the comfortable sofa of the Common Room.
"Good morning, Harry," a melodic voice greeted him from beneath him, and he stifled another groan as he looked down and his stiff neck cracked. It appeared that Luna had also spent the night, comfortably on her back, her head pillowed on his leg.
"Good morning, Luna," he muttered, trying to rub some life back into his neck. He was sure his back wasn't going to be any better, but at least as long as he remained seated, it didn't seem to be bothering him. Yet.
"It looks like your neck has been attacked by Warbuckles during the night," Luna observed as he rubbed painfully along his neck.
"Looks like," Harry muttered. "It's stiff as a board, and hurts like nobody's business."
"Lie down," his girlfriend instructed, and he looked enviously at her as she stood up in a fluid movement that betrayed no discomfort whatsoever. Noticing his look, she shrugged. "I was lying down, quite comfortably, actually. It appears the Warbuckles missed me."
Harry groaned as he lied down on his stomach, his stiff back finally showing that it, too, could make his life hell.
He heard her move, and suddenly, he became aware of a comfortable weight lowering itself onto his backside. He didn't hear the incantation she used, but sure felt the results, as it felt as if a dozen hands were suddenly massaging his stiff neck, shoulders, and back.
And it was a deep-tissue massage, too. Unable to stop himself, he let out a contented groan.
"Should I clear the Common Room, and get you two some privacy?" Hermione asked with a raised eyebrow, obviously just coming downstairs.
"Harry was viciously attacked by Warbuckles during the night," Luna explained. "He shouldn't have slept upright. Now I'm giving him a massage to help him recuperate."
"Why was I sleeping upright in the couch, anyway?" Harry asked from his position.
"You fell asleep around nine, and you looked so peaceful none of us wanted to wake you," Hermione said. By now the others had joined them, retaking the seats that they had occupied last night.
"And Luna?" Harry asked.
"She feigned sleep," Ginny said with a small chuckle.
"I did not!" Luna protested.
"You made a comment about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks half an hour after you were supposedly asleep," Neville said.
"I was sleep-talking, I suppose. It happens sometimes," Luna said, sounding very sincere about it, too.
"I've heard of sleep-walking, but sleep-talking is new," Hermione said with an obvious grin in her voice. Harry turned his head, finding his neck a lot less tense now. "If Luna was sleep-talking, I'd say, let her. Besides, this massage is bloody brilliant."
"You're only saying that because she's your girlfriend," Hermione said, a teasing hint to her voice.
"And I don't want to ruin any chances I have of sleeping with her again," Harry returned easily.
"Pervert," Maya muttered, sitting down. "And I mean that in the nicest possible way a sister can say that to her brother."
Ginny snorted, knowing just how 'nice' siblings could be toward each other.
"I'm a teenaged boy. Being a pervert comes with the hormones. Nothing I can do about it, so I might as well enjoy it," Harry retorted.
Luna chuckled faintly from her position, and he felt her lower herself delightfully against his much improved back. "And I like you that way, Harry." Unfortunately, she was whispering in his ear, and her breath against it made him react in an exact fashion that teenaged male hormones were known for.
He grunted when the others burst out laughing at the bright red blush on his face. Luna finished her spell, and slipped off him, prompting him to sit upright. He was still tense and somewhat stiff, but at least he didn't hurt so much anymore.
"Thank you, sweetheart. That was incredible," he told Luna as she claimed her spot on his lap.
"We should get to breakfast," Hermione said. "And Harry, you and Luna need to get some fresh clothes. And a shower."
"And not together," Maya added, succeeding in making Harry blush. Luna merely blinked twice, and looked at Maya as if the idea had never even occurred to her.
Maya materialized in Harry's mindscape, rather curious as to what it looked like now. Half a second behind her, Ken materialized, having gotten permission from Harry's shields to enter. She was equally as curious, even if she hid it better.
To both Japanese witches' surprise, a deep-grey fog surrounded them, blocking all senses, preventing them from seeing or even feeling anything but each other.
"What has happened here?" Ken asked in surprise.
"It looks just like last time," Maya whispered. "I thought Harry was going to fix this." Speaking louder, she went on, "Harry!?"
"Yes?" he asked, his voice all around them.
"This isn't funny!" Maya said, actually putting her fists on her hips.
"It is... from my perspective," Harry said, his voice suddenly coming from only one direction, as the fog lifted, pulling to a set number of locations. The thickness of the fog was suddenly explained, as it congealed into a multitude of statues, placed strategically throughout the domain of Harry's mental Hogwarts, Harry himself located next to where a statue of Luna was materializing out of the fog.
She looked fantastic, dressed in a regal robe of clearly druidic design, her head crowned by a mistletoe circlet, the most elaborate and fantastic creates located around her feet, as well as one present on her right shoulder.
"I doubt she will ever see this, so I let my imagination run wild," Harry explained when he caught both Maya and Ken staring at Luna's statue.
"You have added more defences," Ken stated.
Harry nodded. "Snape used a similar technique to keep me from toasting him. I figured, if it can protect him, it can protect me. So I used the remains of my last mindscape, and created these statues. I then built a fully new mindscape, so I now have twice the material available, so to speak."
Ken placed a hand on the statue. It promptly shattered, and the fog that formed from it snapped toward her aggressively.
"HALT!" Harry's voice snapped, right before the mist reached her. That moment, it looked as if the mist pouted like a guilty puppy, before forming slowly into a statue. "You did well," Harry told the reforming statue. However, from now on, do not react to Maya and Ken-Sensei."
The pouting mist gave no reaction, but it did give the impression of reforming the statue a lot faster. "Sorry about that, Sensei. It seems my defences are still on a hair-trigger."
Ken lifted her hand. "No worries, Harry. I should have known better than to touch something so obviously built to defend." She turned to face him and Maya. "The reason I asked to meet here is simple. I want you and Maya to spar with your swords, and doing so in mindscape will allow you to learn faster – as well as add an additional level of difficulty on you."
Harry nodded, and lifted his right hand. A metal training blade materialized in it, its edges dulled. Maya nodded, and materialized a sword of her own.
Glad he wasn't going to face her defensive techniques, Harry charged at her, striking fast and precise. She deflected his strike, and struck at his unprotected side while he recuperated. Dancing back to avoid the follow-strike from his sister, Harry shifted his weight to even out his balance, and struck at her while she was exposed. To his surprise, she didn't need time to recover, and merely shifted the angle of attack of her blade, and attacked him in the continuation of her earlier motion.
Taking a step back to avoid her strike, he immediately stepped forward once it was past, and brought down his still-raised sword. Dodging adeptly, Maya turned her blade and struck back, a strike he blocked.
For just a few seconds, both teens stopped and stared at each other, blades against each other's. "Good," Maya said with a small smile.
Harry nodded in agreement of the sentiment. "You're fast."
"And you still hit like a gorilla," Maya answered. "Let's take it up a step."
Harry blinked. Huh? He dodged back as she took a swipe at him, and was immediately forced to take another step back as she went forward, reversing her vertical into a horizontal slash. He attempted to strike, but was forced to abandon that move when he found her blade going for his unprotected side, which made him block the strike. Spinning around, using the force of his block to add to her speed, Maya went for his other side.
That move left her exposed for a fraction of a second, but Harry was no where near fast enough to capitalize on it, and he was forced to block the reverse-strike coming from his other side. Snapping out, Maya hooked her leg behind his, and pushed him to the ground. Her dulled metal blade struck him on his shoulder, leaving a bruise.
"You're not taking this seriously," she admonished. "This isn't a game, Little Brother."
"I know, Sis," Harry muttered, standing up, rubbing his shoulder. "I don't want to hurt you."
Maya lifted an eyebrow. "You'll need a lot more than that to hurt me, Bro."
"I can only use swords, right?"
Maya dipped her head. Harry reversed the training blade, turning it tip-down, before planting it in the soil of his mindscape. His right hand went to Devastation. He drew it gently, not a hint of strain as he did so, and held the blade horizontally before him. "This is why I don't want to hurt you," Harry said. "Breathe, Kaze no Yojimbo."
Maya's eyes went big went his sword shifted, the cross-guard taking on its pentagram-shape, before the blade vanished.
Her reactions saved her as she threw herself to one side, rolling across the ground before coming up into a crouch. Where she had been, a trench had been dug in the ground. She blinked, spun around, and lifted her had. "FORBID!" The bolt of compressed air struck her shield, making her grunt with exertion as it dispersed around it, before settling into a blade onto Harry's hilt once more.
"That's insane," Maya muttered. "Were you trying to kill me?"
"No," Harry said.
"U-huh," Maya said, doubtfully. "And that's why you don't want to hurt me?"
Harry shrugged. "Nobody can win against me in sword-fighting now."
The next moment, he was on the ground, groaning in pain at the diagonal slash that suddenly appeared on his chest, drawing a small amount of blood.
"Once your attack has passed, you are vulnerable, my foolish young apprentice," Ken stated, standing over him. "Have you forgotten the first rule of carrying a weapon I have ever taught you?"
Harry blinked, feeling even worse now. "Never draw a sword unless you intend to shed blood with it," he muttered.
Ken nodded. "Now, return your sword, draw your training blade, and resume your spar. The next time you declare yourself invulnerable, you'd better be able to back up said claim, or I will start cutting off body parts."
Harry paled. "Yes, Sensei. I'm sorry, Sensei. It won't happen again, Sensei," he pleaded in quick succession.
Ken nodded once more, and stepped away so that he could get to his feet. Maya had a faint look of amusement on her face. "You can be such a Western prick at times, Little Brother. You gain one attack, and you immediately think yourself unbeatable. Come. Attack me. Let's see how well you do without your own sword to shore up your deficiencies."
Harry sheathed his soul sword, and grabbed his training blade. "Right," he muttered. "My sword props me up."
"That's right, Little Brother. Don't make it sad, or it won't serve you again."
Harry placed his left hand on the hilt of his sword. My apologies, he thought to it, and for a moment, it felt as if his sword pulsed under his palm. With a small yell, he charged Maya.
Harry and Maya slipped into the Room of Requirement, its configuration having changed to suit their exact needs. They entered into a large chamber, shaped like a pentagram, the lines connecting opposing corners fully visible on the ground, etched into the thick rocks that made up the underground. In the far corners, the very tips of the five corners, stood each a representation of the five elements of the Japanese magical system: A cauldron of water for water, a torch for fire, a stone statue for earth, a feather representing air, and a glowing sphere of energy represented the Void.
Taking in their new surroundings, the two walked to the centre of the room. "This really is an impressive room," Maya said. "This will make a marvellous training hall." She put down the small chest she was carrying, Harry copying her movements and putting down the one he was carrying next to hers.
"Remember what I told you, Harry," Maya resumed, taking a flask of water from her robes, Harry doing the same. "Do not let up until we have reached the first stopping point, or the entire enchantment will unravel instantly."
Harry nodded. "All right, let's start," Maya stated, lifting the flask in her left hand, and raising her right hand, which held her staff. A shove later, she was holding a column of the cleanest, freshest water. Harry closed his eyes, and willed his staff to activate.
He could feel a shudder pass through him as he activated his staff for the first time since long. Blue scales formed on the carved dragon's head, while its eyes filled with brilliant red and gold. At the same time, the wood hardened perceptibly, right before the wind formed air-fins around the dragon's head. Finally, its jaws opened, and the Void formed its stone.
"Ready?" Maya asked, one final time.
Through their link, Harry acknowledged that he was, indeed, ready.
Both teens started to speak, forming entire spell-sentences as their powers reached out to the water in the flasks.
Slowly, the water started to vaporize, forming mist in the five-cornered room, before the two teens' power forced it to coagulate into the centre of the room, right before the two casters. Enchantment after enchantment was pressed upon the mist as they continued, barely pausing to catch a breath.
The room was hot, the oppressive feeling of magics pressing down upon them as they continued to cast, sweat pouring down their skin, however, neither of them was able to even take the break necessary to wipe at the sweat or scratch the nastily itching sensation it caused as tiny droplets entered uncomfortable places.
It stung in their eyes and tainted the very air they breathed, and still they did not falter.
Word upon word, sentence upon sentence, they pushed further, until they reached the first point where they could stop. Both snapped out the fixation command, and released their magic.
The two clouds hung before their casters, slowly dancing, always moving on the air currents yet not deviating from their assigned locations.
"Stage one, complete," Maya muttered. "Let's stop here for today. I'm exhausted."
Harry nodded. Opening their small chests, both Harry and Maya muttered one more command, and the two fogs obediently entered the chests, before being sealed in.
"I can't believe this was only stage one," Harry said.
"If we continue this three times a week, we should be ready by December," Maya answered the unspoken question. "I really don't think I could handle more than that."
"I have the power, but my head is killing me," Harry told her. "I was just hanging on by a thread at the end there – I was lucky to be able to cheat off you through the Link."
"It's nasty," Maya said, nodding. "You have the power, I have the skill. Together, we could do this so much easier."
Harry rubbed his chin. "Maybe we should practice synchronizing our magic."
"Not today," Maya stated flatly.
"No, not today," Harry agreed with a small nod. "Let's get out of here. I need a shower and a goodnight kiss."
Maya chuckled and fluttered her eyes at him. "Why Harry, I didn't know you thought of me like that."
Harry shook his head. "Slut. Trying to steal another girl's man."
"You started it," Maya said with a grin.
"I did not!" Harry defended himself
They were still arguing when they entered the Gryffindor Common Room.
End of Chapter
Next Chapter – what was Voldemort up to, all this time?