Into Your Gravity
Chapter One: Curiosity
Set me free, leave me be.
I don't want to fall another moment into your gravity.
Here I am, and I stand so tall
just the way I'm supposed to be.
But you're onto me, and all over me.
Gravity - Sara Bareilles
"Hello," Luna said pleasantly as she opened to compartment door to reveal Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom, and Ginny Weasley. The train was starting, its whistle blowing. It lurched forward, and Luna drifted into a vacant seat next to Ginny.
"Hey, Luna," said Ron, swallowing a laugh as Luna leaned over to pull up one of her violet knee-high socks that had slumped down, her wand tucked behind her ear where a radish earring dangled.
"How was your break?" Hermione asked.
"It was lovely. My father and I spent four weeks in Sweden searching for a live Crumple-Horned Snorkack specimen for a photography special in The Quibbler."
Hermione blinked, then took a deep breath. "And did you find one?" she asked in a controlled voice with a pained expression on her face.
"No," Luna replied. "Our theory is that they got wind we were looking for them, and they all left the area. They are very shy creatures, you know."
Hermione did not seem to trust herself to say much else and instead shot a glance at Ron, who was contorting his mouth in an effort not to giggle.
"That's too bad, Luna," Ginny said, rolling her eyes in Ron's direction.
Luna sighed. "Yes, it's all right though. How have you all been?"
Each of her friends provided a brief summary of their exploits over summer break, including both the mundane ("My Great Uncle Algie brought me a Wiggentree for my birthday!") and the more serious ("The Order asked us to stay at Hogwarts as long as possible; they want to know where I am. But we're still going to keep working on the Horcruxes.").
"Did you see that article in The Quibbler yesterday supporting you, Harry?" Neville asked with excitement sometime after noon. "It even discussed that The Daily Prophet is completely compromised!"
"Ah, yes," Luna said, nodding her head, "it was right on the front page next to the exposé about the Ministry of Magic's secret heliopath army."
Hermione's lips pursed, all thought of the Second Wizarding War forgotten. "You do know, of course, that heliopaths don't even really exist, right?" she said through gritted teeth, the words spilling out before she could stop herself.
A rare sour look crossed Luna's face to rival Hermione's. "Of course they do. Did you even read the article?"
Turning to Harry, Hermione said, "I'm not so sure that anyone will take you seriously when you're running right next to stories of pure ridiculousness."
Luna opened her mouth to argue further, but at that moment, the door to their compartment slid open, revealing the smiling trolley witch with her cart full of sweets. The group fumbled with coins and made their purchases, then settled back down. Luna was biting into a particularly chewy licorice wand when she pointed at Neville and said, "What's the matter with Trevor?"
Trevor the toad was on Neville's lap, and at the current moment, he seemed to be choking on a very long, fine gold chain, making a raspy croaking sound over and over.
"Oh, no! Trevor!" Neville cried.
A few moments of panic ensued as half of the group jumped to their feet, some reaching for their wands. Neville picked the choking toad up with both hands and held him up in the air with the offending chain dangling from his mouth. Luna remained calm and snatched the toad from Neville's hands without a word. She brought the toad close to her, clutching him near her abdomen like a precious treasure, ignoring the retching noises.
Then she bent her head over him, a sheet of long blonde hair obscuring the others' view of what it was she was doing. Neville bounced with anxiety in his seat. After a few moments, the toad's gagging noises subsided. When Luna looked up again, she was clutching the long gold chain in one hand and a none-the-worse-for-wear Trevor in the other. "He's fine," she said, handing the toad back to Neville. "Just a bit surprised, I think."
"You've saved him! What did you do?" said Neville, the color returning to his face as he inspected Trevor from all angles.
"I just had to coax it out of him," Luna replied, as though discussing the weather.
While the rest of the group crowded around Neville and Trevor, Luna inspected at the chain in her hand in greater detail, realizing it was a necklace. She held it up in front of her face, and a tiny golden hourglass swayed back and forth, drawing her eyes to follow it. The hourglass glistened with both toad saliva and its own metallic luster. Luna draped it around her neck. She picked up the little hourglass and noted it to be on some sort of axle. She turned it around once in her hands before giving the hourglass a casual flick, causing it to twirl itself into a blur on its axis. A faint smile bloomed on her face, and she flicked the spinning hourglass a few more times to keep it in motion. A shriek startled her into looking up to see Hermione staring at her with a pasty-white face.
"No, Luna! That's my Time-Turner!" Hermione cried out.
But a moment later, Luna was gone.
A stunned silence oppressed their compartment, until Ron stuttered, "Erm, well, so she's gone back in time, then?"
"Oh, no," Hermione squeaked. She began pacing back and forth, pulling at her hair, her breath becoming rapid and ragged. "Oh, no. Oh, no."
Neville and Ginny had dumbstruck looks on their faces, their jaws hanging and eyes wide.
"Why do you have a Time-Turner? I thought you gave it back to McGonagall years ago," Harry asked, pushing a shaky hand through his hair, causing it to stand on end.
Hermione collapsed into Luna's vacated seat and began to sniffle. "I - I did give it back, but she sent it b-back to me! I w-was worried about being Head Girl and doing all the Huh-Horcrux research and my N.E.W.T.s! She gave it to me towards the end of last school year, before the Ministry was taken!" Her lip quivered, and she burst into tears.
Ron met Harry's eyes, grimaced, and said. "Hermione, are you really that worried about your grades when there's a bloody Wizarding War going on?" But as Hermione's body racked with sobs, his face softened. He sat down next to her and awkwardly patted her back. "Listen, it'll be all right."
"No, it w-won't!" Hermione wailed. "I left it in my pocket, it must have fallen out! How could I have been so careless! And we've - we've no idea where she's gone! Those Ministry-issue Time-Turners aren't intended for that kind of thing! Who knows how long she was spinning it; they're only meant f-for traveling short distances!" Her face dropped into her hands.
Ron looked to shoot a pleading expression at Harry for help, then pointedly back down at Hermione.
Harry swallowed hard. "Listen, Hermione, we'll talk to McGonagall as soon as we get up to the school, all right?" He fidgeted. "I'm sure she will know what to do. Luna will be all right," he said in an unconvincing tone.
They finished the rest of the train ride in silence except for Hermione's intermittent sniffling, avoiding each other's eyes.
"Luna! That's my Time-Tuner!" Hermione screeched, her face pasty-white.
Luna looked up at the sound of her name, but as she did so, the hourglass ceased spinning. The train compartment around her began dissolving at a rapid pace, interrupting Hermione's sentence before the final words were spoken, and she felt herself yanked backwards as though flying through the air at high speed. Her blonde hair whipped forward into her face and her already open mouth let out a scream, the sound of which she couldn't hear. Her hair obscured her vision, but all she could see was a blur of colors all around. This sensation seemed to last an eternity, and Luna had just been able to form a complete thought to wonder when it would stop, if it would stop, when she felt solid ground beneath her feet. She stumbled and toppled over, sprawling onto the ground and bumping her right elbow in the process.
She lay face down on the ground a moment, her heart pounding in her ears. She took several deep breaths to steady herself. Then she propped herself on her non-throbbing elbow to look around and realized she was still in the compartment on the Hogwarts Express. The others seemed to have left, however, as she was now quite alone. Unsteady and trembling, she got to her feet and peered out the window. The train was at a stop, the night sky twinkling above it, and she could see the glittering light spilling out of the windows of Hogwarts castle in the distance.
Luna exhaled a breath she hadn't been aware of holding. "I'm at Hogwarts," she said to herself in reassurance. She picked up the small hourglass around her neck once more and scrutinized it, wondering if perhaps it was a Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes product. Her wand had been knocked from behind her ear and had rolled across the compartment floor, and she picked it back up as well, tucking it back in its place.
She then slid the compartment door open and peered up and down the hall. When she didn't see anyone, she moved out into the hall. "Hello?" she called, but got no response. She stuck her head into a couple of other compartments, but they were also empty. Getting off the train, she glanced around. Still seeing no one, not even the thestrals pulling the carriages, she looked back towards to familiar turrets of the castle. Then she shrugged, and began trekking up to the school on foot.