Disclaimer: I do not own Harry potter and nor the characters in it except for the original characters created by me.
Chapter 6: Matchmaker
"Do not use dark magic," Voldemort repeated that line over and over as his smoldering eyes stared at his heavily damaged castle. He was proud of the skill and power it had taken to build the castle and he was even more proud of the runes he had created to control the dragon's magic. But now thanks to a traitor in their midst his pride and joy had come crashing down leaving fury in its wake.
He was completely immune to the rest of the destruction the dragon had caused when it made its escape.
As usual the Count stood a few paces behind Voldemort but instead of being angry at their losses, he was terribly amused. This entire war, Voldemort's ambition, the death and destruction: it was all just a game to him. He had been on this planet for centuries and watching this end of the world scenario made him want to laugh all the way to the end. It took a lot to get the Count's blood pumping and it was exactly what he needed to feel alive once more.
"Malfoy," Voldemort hissed. This was all Draco Malfoy's fault and he was going to pay for this. He flicked his wand and summoned the wizard closest to him at his feet.
"M-my Lord?" stammered the man. One moment he was help the others clear the rubble and the next he was at the dark lord's feet.
Voldemort wrapped his slender fingers around the wizard's neck and stared in the man's eyes. This time watching the fear course through the man gave him no pleasure at all. "Find the Malfoy's and bring them to me now," he spat.
"So this was Dumbledore's intention," the Count said calmly, polishing his nails on his blood-red shirt.
"Malfoy was played and he will pay for that."
"Don't blame your short sight on the young Malfoy, Voldemort. I thought you were above such petty feelings now that you call yourself emperor," the Count mocked.
"Do not test me Vlad," Voldemort snapped. The Count's expression darkened at the use of his name and before Voldemort could realize his mistake the Count had wrapped his cold fingers around the dark lord's neck, applying enough pressure short of snapping his neck.
"Don't forget our agreement Lord Voldemort," Vlad growled slowly extending his fangs. He ran his tongue on Voldemort neck delighting in the increase of the dark lord's blood pressure.
"Let go of me now," Voldemort warned feeling disgusted at the vampire's behavior. There was reason he loathed these creatures but for now he had to pretend to be their ally.
The king of the vampires tightened his hold on Voldemort's neck for a moment before shoving the dark lord away.
"Never use my name again or else you'll find my kind less accommodating to you wizards," The Count said. The threat was as clear as daylight.
Voldemort sneered at the vampire. It would be a cold day in hell before he apologized to any creature on the planet and he turned away and summoned another death eater.
"Where is Malfoy!?" he spat.
"F-forgive me my lord, but the Malfoy's are nowhere to be found!"
Fury clouded his vision and Voldemort slashed his wand and blood spurted from the death eater's neck. Voldemort watched coldly as the man choked on his own blood and the life slowly faded from his eyes. He pushed up the man's left sleeve and pressed his wand to the dark mark.
Moments later the air was filled with cracking sounds as his most loyal followers apparated to his side.
Lucius was absent from his regular position.
"The Malfoy's have betrayed us," he said darkly. "The death eater that brings me all three heads will be rewarded with the right to rule over Paris. Marcus, summon the goblin chief to my chambers. It's time he put the freedom I have granted them to good use."
He glared at the masked witches and wizards one more time and said, "You can use any means you deem necessary to capture and kill the traitors. You all have a unit of vampires and werewolves at your disposal and you can use them for this task. Bellatrix, you stay. The rest of you leave."
"My Lord," she whispered reverently. She knelt and kissed the hem of Voldemort's robes.
"You have done well in purging this continent of unworthy blood," he said. "Now it is time to move on to the filth in the Middle East."
"Your wish is my command My Lord," Bellatrix said bowing deeply.
Voldemort smiled at the witch. There was no one in his army as devoted as Bellatrix was. "And before you leave go to the barracks and inform Keller to start placing the bombs. He knows what the targets are."
"So soon My Lord?" Bellatrix asked in surprise. She rarely questioned her master but Voldemort never stopped her from doing so. She was the only one who was allowed to question his judgment.
"Dumbledore is going to regret rousing my anger to such levels. I was going to give them a chance to surrender but now I am going to annihilate every last one of them."
An explosion stopped his rant and his eyes widened in shock when he looked at the sky. The wards were gone and his city was open to attack by muggle weapons.
Three fiery streaks in the sky were heading straight towards his castle. "Find those muggles and kill them now!" he shrieked and hurled a curse intercepting the missiles causing them to explode in mid-air.
"Bellatrix, get every death eater on a broom and if even one of those muggle bombs touch my city I will see every last one of them executed!"
The purple eyed witch apparated in an instant, a truly insane look on her face. Her master had given her a command.
"I trust you will get those blasted goblins to erect wards around the city Count?" Voldemort said while keeping his eyes fixed on the sky. His perfect plan for world domination was crumbling right before his eyes.
The Count just vanished from his sight leaving a cloud of dust behind.
"Dumbledore you will pay for this!" he screamed, apoplectic with rage as another missile rocketed towards his precious city.
Deep within his magical core, in a dark corner open to another dimension, evil relished the feeling of rage that was pumping through the dark lord. "Good," it thought. Tom Riddle might have managed to lock the creature in a deep and dark corner but this level of rage was strong enough to loosen the bindings placed on it. Soon, it thought. Soon it would break free, consume this child's magic and break free into the world once more.
50 miles off the coast of London, the crews of four type 45 destroyers were on high alert as the ships fired missile after missile into their homeland. They had been literally marooned at sea for almost a year and now finally they had a chance to take back what was theirs.
"Captain," called out one of the officers who had his eyes glued to the radar. "We have bogies coming our way at twelve 'o'clock."
"They're too close to each other to make out sir but as an estimate I would put the count at a dozen."
Captain White turned to Snape questioningly. Where they to engage the wizards in combat or retreat?
"Radio the other ships to turn around and head to the rendezvous," Snape said. "I'll try to hold off the pests heading towards us," he said and left the bridge. He headed straight to the men manning the antiaircraft cannons and sent a message via the patronus charm to Dumbledore. Kingsley, Tonks and Jones were aboard the other ships and he trusted them to do their jobs.
"Be careful," White warned. "The ocean's particularly rough today."
The captain was not joking. The moment Snape stepped out of the confines of the ship; he was greeted by a shower of salt water which almost swept him off his feet. Gasping he quickly applied a sticking charm to his boots and applied a bubble head charm to protect his eyes.
The weather was worsening quickly. Storm clouds were gathering rapidly and rain began to pour heavily. Talk about a climax, Snape thought sourly and then gasped when the ship was rocked by a powerful wave. Targeting the death eaters was going to be difficult in such conditions but the advantage was on their side. Magic had never had to go up against battleships.
Lightening laced across the sky illuminating dozens figures flying towards them. "Here we go," he muttered with dread, "The fated encounter between magic and science."
The thunder that followed was the signal for the battle to begin. The cannon's on the battleships began to boom followed by the chugging sound of machine guns. The death eaters scattered in pairs.
"Smart," thought Snape. One was keeping up a shield to stop the bullets and the other to go on the offensive. But how long could they keep up a simple shield against the constant barrage of .50 caliber bullets. The nasty weather was definitely working in their advantage as none of the spells being targeted at them were accurate and Snape found it almost too easy to block those that did make it to the ship.
A spell impacted the ship Kingsley was on and Snape watched in horror a part of the ship was torn apart. What kind of spell was that!? He clicked on his radio and said, "Captain, one of the wizards in each pair is the shield. Tell your men to target him and take him out!"
"Copy that. Back up is on the way."
"Back up? What back up?"
"Raptors," came the reply and Snape just frowned in confusion. He was brought back to reality when another spell hit the deck of the ship he was on and he fell on his back by the force of the impact.
"Damn it!" he cursed. The weather was making it very hard for him to see clearly. "Protima!" he roared when he spotted the black light coming at him again and the impact of the curse on his shield nearly knocked him off the ship.
Suddenly something streaked across the sky at lightening speeds and a few seconds later a roaring sound followed. Lightening, thunder, streaks of objects in the sky, explosions in the sky, terrible weather; Snape had no idea what was going on but to his utter shock he noticed that the death eaters were falling like flies in the face of an insect repellent hex.
The words the muggle on the radio had said resounded in his head.
The return of Warlow was greeted with great cheer and enthusiasm. The fire that had nearly died out within their hearts had been revived as a roaring blaze. Warlow had returned a hero but it was far from what he felt like.
He silently watched the muggles he had rescued from afar after giving his report to Dumbledore and since then the resistance had been in a tizzy.
Orders were flying around like dust in the wind and all of them had one thing in common; Destruction. The muggle general was barking commands to launch missiles into London like distributing candy on Halloween. Dumbledore was busy barking orders to set up traps outside the wards of Hogwarts discreetly since he was sure that Voldemort would now move to stop them and set up a barricade beyond their wards.
Warlow on the other hand had his eyes focused on Carla and some of the other muggles who had the misfortune of being summoned into his house and the homes of the other purebloods when he was not himself. Their terrified and tear-stained faces flashed before his eyes every time he closed them and his urge to beg for forgiveness was deeply buried under self loathing. He silently watched as the healers checked them for injuries and their grim faces was not one bit comforting to him.
"Are you alright Andrew?" Sirius asked the man, placing his hand on his shoulder comfortingly.
Warlow nearly jumped out of his skin at the contact but calmed down when he saw who it was. "No I'm not," he replied heavily.
Sirius frowned in concern. "Have you gotten yourself checked up by Poppy or any of the other healers?"
"Well come on then! I don't even want to imagine what state your mind is in!"
"Not yet," he said, jerking away from Sirius. "Let the muggles be done first."
Sirius sensed something was seriously wrong here but he didn't press the matter. He just nodded, patted his friend on the back and left. Night was approaching and they were still waiting for word from their four man team on the muggle boats. The last they had heard, death eaters were approaching and the muggles were getting into battle mode.
This was the first test to see if muggle could hold their own against magic and Sirius and many others were praying that they could. Their survival depended on it.
Up in the headmaster's office Dumbledore was glad he finally had some time to himself. It had been too long since he had actually relaxed and enjoyed a glass of wine.
While his body was getting some desperately needed rest his mind was swimming with random thoughts, plans, ideas and the burden of keeping his people alive. Worry about Harry was always at the forefront on his mind; the morale of his men was at the forefront of his mind; the interactions between the muggle and wizards that survived was at the forefront of his mind; the task of managing to keep everyone alive was at the forefront of his mind and the most recent addition to that list was Luna Lovegood. It had been hard enough to find that girl and one tiny peek into her mind and given him a severe headache that had lasted hours. Whatever that was going on in that girl's mind, Albus knew for sure it wasn't normal even by magic standards.
Fawkes ruffled his feathers and trilled softly easing Dumbledore's thought process.
"Thank you Fawkes. I needed that," he said softly. "Do you think it's a good idea to launch an attack on London or the cities that Voldemort is having built?" he asked the phoenix.
Fawkes tiny black eyes bored into his and Dumbledore chuckled. "I thought not. Any confrontation with that army will only result in the death of hundreds of muggles and wizards. What's worse is there are just around thousand wizards and witches in our camp whereas the count on Voldemort's side easily crosses the ten thousand mark. We have to wait for Croaker to finish his research and build weapons that can fight that many monsters."
The phoenix jumped of its perch and landed on Dumbledore's shoulder.
"What's next with Harry you ask? Well if Ms. Walker thinks he's had enough of the basic training then I think we should set him loose."
"I can't keep him here you know that don't you," Dumbledore said stroking his familiar. "The boy is destined to destroy Voldemort or be destroyed in the process. I had thought of sending him to track the dragon but I think I'll do that myself."
"Of course I'm not sending him alone!" Dumbledore said indignantly. "I was planning on letting him chose whomever he wanted to take with him. And as to where I plan on sending him, I'll be giving him a list of names. Purebloods who were the first to turn their back on what is right. Harry's mission will be to assassinate them. Without the presence of capable leaders, Voldemort's army will fall apart."
Dumbledore cringed at the pain that rushed through him when Fawkes dug his claws into his shoulder.
"His innocence is long gone my friend. I can't protect him forever and unfortunately this is the only path that I see which can bring this war to a close before the world is completely decimated! It's a miracle that Harry has stayed with us for this long. I half expected him to leave and fight this war all by himself but he has shown remarkable mental control over the power he posses. No Fawkes, the time has come for Harry to leave us."
Fawkes sang a sad song.
"I'm sorry Fawkes. I really am."
The sun had set a while back and the moon was making its ascent over the forest while Lillian and Sarah were walking along the banks of the lake. To the muggles camping out nearby, it was common to see a dark-haired young man walking around in the shallows, sometimes accompanied by another girl but today they saw the young dark-haired girl in the company of a blond woman.
It was the first time they had seen the girl down there without the boy.
"How are you feeling?" Sarah asked.
"Not bad," Lillian said. "My body feels like it's just been in a car crash but apart from that I'm totally fine."
Sarah chuckled. "Sorry," she said sympathetically. "This kind of training is very hard but you've caught on far quicker than I would have expected."
"I've always been a quick learner when it came to fighting," Lillian said grinning. "My dad says that ever since I learnt how to walk I've always liked to beat things that annoyed me."
"That's not nice," Sarah said frowning.
"My first victim was a stuffed toy named Snuggles."
Sarah laughed. "Seriously?"
"My second victim was Stephanie in third grade," Lillian continued. "She had some fascination with pulling my pony tail."
"My, my," Sarah said, amused. "Looks like you were and are quite the tigress."
Lillian flushed, "Why did you want to talk to me anyway?" she asked bringing up the reason they were down here in the first place.
"Well," Sarah said slowly. "I wanted to talk to you about Harry."
"What about him?"
"How long have you liked him?"
"W-wha-what!?" Lillian spluttered. That was certainly not what she was expecting! Her liking Harry? Harry!? Had the blond gone bananas?!
"Oh come on now Lillian," Sarah said mischievously. "I've seen the way you look at him and the way he looks at you! The two of you like each other."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Lillian denied firmly. "Harry's my friend and I'm close to him because we've gone through some crazy stuff ever since I've been introduced to this world. Does the end of the world ring a bell?!"
"Now why are you getting all defensive?" Sarah asked stopping and turning to face Lillian.
The fire elemental was turning red.
"He is just a friend," Lillian said angrily. "Get that into your blond head!"
"Are you calling me dumb blond?" Sarah asked lightly.
Lillian took a deep breath and calmed herself. Walker was right. Her getting all defensive would not prove that she didn't have any such feelings for Harry. "I don't like him like that," she said firmly. The voices in the back of her head disagreed vehemently but she ignored them, like she always did.
"Your face softens every time you look at him, you take every opportunity you get to touch him, to spend time with and trust me when I say that he does the same. You love spending time with him and the both of you keep glancing at each other when the other is not looking. Now I've not been here that long but I know two love struck idiots when I see them."
Lillian squeaked. "Love!? What are you trying to say you maniac? Love!? LOVE!?"
"Okay, okay," Sarah placated. "Maybe I went too far and there's no need for you to freak out but I stand by everything else I said."
"Why do you care anyway?" Lillian asked breathing heavily. Her body temperature had sky rocketed the moment she heard that word.
Sarah didn't dare tell her that this was Sirius's idea and he was the one who brought their obvious infatuation to her notice. She didn't tell the girl that at this very moment Sirius was having a similar talk with Harry in the Hogwarts kitchen.
"We're at war," Sarah said solemnly. "Under normal circumstances I wouldn't give you this talk but now, in this half dead world that we live in, I don't want to see two people who clearly like each other to keep dancing around their feelings."
"I speak from experience Lillian," she said gently.
Lillian was quiet.
Sarah smiled and kissed her on the cheek. "Think about it," she said and turned back to the castle. A naughty smirk grew on her face as soon as she had her back to Lillian. Her job was done!
In the kitchens of Hogwarts the elves were in a panic trying to undo the charms placed on the meat and forks and knives.
Sirius was on the floor completely winded. His wand lay a few feet away from him and there were several headless chickens holding knives and forks pinning him to the floor.
"Say that again!" Harry threatened. "I dare you to say it. I double dare you!"
"I'm going to say it again and I don't care what you do to me!" cried Sirius.
"Master Potter! Master Potter!" the elves squeaked. "We needs the meat for dinner master Potter!"
"Shut it all of you!" Harry shouted furiously. He flicked his wand and the headless chickens pressed the forks a little harder into his neck.
"You like Lillian and all you want to do is press your lips to hers and profess your undying love for her," Sirius croaked.
The house elves started to panic when the temperature dropped and the fires began to go out.
"The food, the food!"
Harry pointed his wand at the chickens and they dropped all the utensils.
Sirius sighed in relief thinking he had gotten through to Harry but then his eyes bugged out in agony. A headless turkey had just rocketed between his legs.
The elves quickly gathered all the metal and meat and placed their version of an anti summoning charm on everything within Harry's range.
"Gawd Harry," Sirius moaned clutching his jewels. "Women love these gems more than I do! Do you want to deprive them of these beauties!?"
"I do not like Lillian the way you're suggesting," Harry said coldly. "I've never had any urges to kiss or do anything that involves physical contact with her and I most certainly do not love her. Do you understand me?"
Sirius stood up wincing as he did and gently lowered himself into a chair.
Harry's temper evaporated and the temperature came back to normal.
"Alright," Sirius said softly. He was soft only because trying to speak loudly was sending jolts of pain in the soft tissue of the most important part of his anatomy.
"Alright what?" Harry asked scowling.
"I'll pretend that I didn't see your eyes fixated on Lillian when she was training with Sarah. I'll also pretend that I didn't see you involuntarily moving to hold her hand when you two were going to the Gryffindor tower. Maybe I ought the forget that time when you wanted to pulverized Seamus for cheekily smacking her behind or maybe I should forget the way you look at her every single time you lay eyes on her!"
"Sirius, you're my godfather but you're pushing me to turn you into an ice-cube!"
"Stop denying your heart Harry!" Sirius urged. "If you allow yourself to see the truth then maybe you wouldn't want to crush my balls."
Harry huffed. "Fat chance," he snorted.
"You know I'm right," Sirius said.
"You're wrong," Harry rebutted sharply. "She's just a good friend and I can tolerate her more than I can anyone else."
"Harry," Sirius said exasperatedly. "If anyone else did half the things Lillian did around you and said to you, you would hate that person but in Lillian's case you just smile and joke about it. Now I know you and I know how your mind works. I've seen the way you were around each other a year back and the way you talked about her when I broke out of prison and trust me, she likes you as much as you like her."
"I don't…" Harry began.
"Why don't you put aside that denial for some time and objectively assess your interactions with her and her interactions with others. Then make your decision about what's right," Sirius said wisely. Forcing the issue was not going to work.
Harry sighed. "Fine," he said grudgingly. "But it's not going to change anything and I think you're forgetting that we're in the middle of a bloody war."
Sirius had to fight the compulsion to cheer and celebrate. Instead he did his best to look serious. "War brings people closer," he said. "Haven't you noticed?"
"Your class mates for one," he said. "Houses don't matter to them anymore. They all get along to a degree and you'll notice some of the older ones spending a lot of time with their lady friends," he said grinning.
Harry frowned and then his eyebrows shot up. "You mean?"
"That's right. Nobody wants to live the last moments of their life with regret and in such moments people are more open about things they're usually closed up about."
"Huh," Harry muttered.
Sirius smiled and ruffled his godson's hair.
"Stop that!" Harry protested.
"Don't keep your heart closed Harry. Our expiry date is right around the corner and you don't want to have any regrets when that time comes."
Harry was silent.
"Think on it," Sirius said and left. He smiled wearily as he turned his back to Harry. That had been way harder than he had expected.
How? That was the one question that raged in Voldemort's mind. How did Andrew Warlow trick him? How did his most potent legilimency probe and questioning under vertiaserum miss the simple fact that Warlow was a spy for Dumbledore? How could this happen!?
Pillars of thick black smoke rose lazily all over the city. The muggle assault had destroyed several homes of his foreign pureblood friends. Three of the new domes the goblins were building had been blown to bits. Even the muggle prisoners working outside had been killed in the assault, not that he cared about them but he was more concerned with the fear his residents were experiencing. He had to restore their confidence in him and he had to do it fast.
Voldemort's grip on his wand tightened. His magic was baying for blood and the urge to use dark magic had never been so intense but he was the most powerful wizard in the world. He could control his urges no matter how bad they got.
He was standing atop the west tower of his castle looking down at the goblins and wizards as they began to clear up the mess that the city had become and started to ward every structure that stood. The loss of the dragon could not be compensated by any means available and he was no longer invulnerable to an attack by Dumbledore and his fools.
"Count," Voldemort said sorely, detecting the presence of the cocky vampire behind him.
"Voldemort," acknowledged Vlad. "It seems like this round was won by Dumbledore and the muggles."
"We learn from our mistakes," Voldemort said.
"Your followers who went to sea have returned."
"They sunk one ship and returned short of thirty death eaters."
Voldemort's nostrils flared. Only twenty had returned!?
"They fled before they were wiped out," Vlad said chuckling. This just great, he thought. Finally this war had some substance.
Voldemort didn't say a word. He was too busy stopping himself trying to kill the Count.
"What do you plan to do now?"
"Ask your men to assemble outside the city," Voldemort said.
"My men or the muggles you had converted?"
"Your men Count. We are going to set up camp at strategic points outside Hogwarts."
"You do realize Dumbledore will be planning something similar and he will anticipate this move?" Vlad said dryly.
"I'm not stupid Count. I have a plan," Voldemort said coldly.
Vlad looked like he wanted to say something but instead he just nodded and sped away. It was too bad that once this war was over the world would be nothing more than a barren wasteland. It would take decades to restore some semblance of stability to the environment once both sides had eliminated each other. They would also have to carefully breed muggles to keep up their stock of blood supply. Vlad smiled darkly as he leaped over the roof tops. The best part about this war was that he had to just watch it unfold. For someone who was widely known as a genius, Voldemort was most certainly a very foolish man.
All that remained now was to see who would survive in the end and dominate this wrecked planet.
After the success of Warlow's mission and the victory at sea Dumbledore had come to the conclusion that having a feast would be a great idea to lift everyone's spirits and it was safe to say that everyone, muggle and magical, were happy tonight. More than the witches and wizards, it was the muggle survivors who needed a lift of their spirits.
Dumbledore smiled happily at the nostalgic atmosphere in the great hall. It reminded him of the better times when children roamed these halls and delighted over the feasts the elves produced. The pure innocence and happiness of those times seemed like a distant memory to him and it warmed his heart to see the muggles having a good time. Merlin's only knew when was the last time they had a reason to smile.
His keen eyes spotted Harry emerging from the east entrance and wondered where the boy was all this time. He watched him ponder upon where to sit and chuckled when he moved towards where Sirius and Remus were having a mini food fight. Dumbledore frowned when he noticed some sort of tension between Harry and Sirius. Had the two had a fight?
A couple of seats down the table Harry's fellow classmates were sitting and chattering away. He found it odd that Ms Austin was half-heartedly involving herself in their discussions. That was strange, Dumbledore thought. Usually the fiery elemental loved to participate in arguments and discussions.
"Stop over analyzing everything Albus," McGonagall commented from his left. "People might think you're showing an unhealthy amount of interest in their lives."
"Just gauging everybody's mood my dear Minerva," Dumbledore said hastily.
"They're all happy and let's leave it at that," Minerva said sternly. "Now eat! The mashed potatoes are particularly delicious today."
"So are the pork chops," Dumbledore said chuckling. "How's your new arm Severus?"
Snape just bent the spoon between his fingers and then straightened it out. "As you can see it's fully functional," Snape said.
"Good to know," Dumbledore said heartily. To his right General Casey was busy digging into desert. Dumbledore was going to strike up a conversation with the man but the glare he received in return changed his mind. Let the General has a dangerous sweet tooth, he thought warily.
"Harry look," Sirius said conspiratorially.
"Look at what?"
"That guy Max is chatting up your girl."
Harry felt a rush of anger at both Sirius and this person named Max. His eyes narrowed when he noticed a brown-haired boy, probably a year older than him leaning across the table and stealing Lillian's strawberry whilst ignoring her protests.
"She's not my girl Sirius," Harry said flippantly. "Why would I care about this Max person anyway?"
Sirius just smirked knowingly. He had seen that rise of anger in Harry before it was locked away behind a carefully constructed mask.
"Pass me the custard," Sirius innocently asked Harry. "I'll explain later," he mouthed to Remus who looked bewildered at the exchange.
"Who is this Max anyway?" Harry asked suddenly.
"He was with a group of muggles we rescued from Germany," Remus answered. "He's been quite helpful with organizing routines for the muggles in and outside the castle. Quite a resourceful kid he is."
"Is that so," Harry muttered snidely.
Remus looked startled at the Harry's hostile behavior. He looked at Sirius questioningly but Sirius just waved his hands dismissively. Something weird was going on here.
"Hi there Mr. Black. Mind if I join you?"
"Justine," Sirius said happily. "Where have you been?"
"Oh I was helping the doctors out," she said tiredly. "One of the women brought in yesterday was quite badly injured."
"This is my godson Harry by the way," Sirius said, introducing the two. "Harry this is Justine. She's one of the few who escaped from London at the beginning."
"Nice to meet you," Harry said politely. He gave this unknown brunette a once over and then stabbed his peas moodily.
Remus frowned. He had never heard or seen this Justine interacting with Sirius at all. What was he missing he wondered. He glanced at Lillian and noticed their muggle trainer Sarah Walker sitting next to her.
"Can you pass me the chocolate fudge Harry," Justine asked.
"Sure," Harry said disinterestedly.
"Umm," she moaned as she dipped her finger into the bowl and placed the chocolate covered finger in her mouth. Harry raised an eyebrow at the girl's behavior. "Just what the doctor ordered," she said winking at Harry.
Everything suddenly clicked in Remus's mind when at that precise moment he noticed Sarah bringing Justine to Lillian's notice. This was a set up!
The flash of murderous intent in Lillian's eyes was enough of a confirmation for him. "You're an idiot you know that Padfoot!" he said exasperatedly.
Sirius practically radiated innocence. "What are you talking about Moony?"
Remus just shook his head in resignation. Sirius hadn't lost his penchant for match making. He remembered with vivid detail the plan his friend had laid out to get Lily and James together. It was the best prank the marauders had ever pulled off.
"Will it work?" he whispered instead.
Sirius just grinned.
The feast had ended a while back and Harry was roaming the corridors aimlessly once more. He had a lot on his mind and this time it wasn't about war, elements or occlumency. It was mostly about a girl.
He briefly wondered if it was fate when he stumbled into her at the turn of the transfiguration corridor.
"Freckles," he said, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"Could ask you the same thing," she grunted rubbing her ribs where his elbow had bumped.
His mind flashed back to the unwanted conversation he had with Sirius that evening and he suddenly looked at Lillian in a new light. She was really pretty he realized.
Lillian was completely bemused when Harry smacked his head in irritation.
"Err are you alright?" she asked giggling.
"Yeah," he said. "Just thinking about something Sirius said to me," he mumbled. "Couldn't sleep."
"Me too," she said laughing nervously.
"Couldn't sleep?" Harry asked curiously.
"Something like that," she admitted. She had slept but her dreams were filled with Harry's presence. She was afraid that she had liked them a little too much and was very, very worried. Was Sarah right? Did she have feeling for Harry? The thought sent another pulse of uncertainty down her spine.
"What'd you think of Dumbledore's speech?" she asked him. This silence between them was making her feel extremely awkward.
"Oh I missed it," Harry said. "Came in a bit late."
They were unaware of Sirius and Sarah's presence under Harry's invisibility cloak just a few yards away. They were also unaware of the clever spells and enchantments Sirius had put in place to ensure they ran into each other tonight.
"You know," Sarah whispered, "As a professional spy, spying on kids is making me feel like a child molester!"
"Shush," Sirius whispered. "This is for a better cause."
"A better cause!? I can't believe what my life has been reduced too!"
"Then why did you agree to help?" Sirius demanded.
"Because they clearly like each other," Sarah said. "What I didn't agree to was fulfilling your perverted desires and watch kids making out!"
Sirius turned around which was difficult considering their sizes and the not so large invisibility cloak. He flicked her nose and glared at her.
They both went silent when Harry and Lillian stopped talking and looked around suspiciously.
"Did you hear that?" Harry asked drawing his wand.
"I think I did," Lillian said. "Maybe it was a rat or something."
"No," Harry said narrowing his eyes as he scanned the corridor. "It was definitely a person."
Sarah and Sirius just stood as still as possible and held their breaths praying that Harry didn't do anything to reveal them.
"Wait," Lillian said suddenly. "I think someone's humming! It's coming from down there," she said pointing the opposite direction.
The two adults wondered who was roaming around the castle so late at night.
"Oh no," Harry said fearfully. "It's her. We have to get out of here!"
It was too late.
A barefoot Luna spotted them and gasped.
Harry was glad she wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary but her gasp sounded like the footsteps of doom to him.
"You know her Harry?" Lillian asked curiously.
"That's Luna Lovegood," Harry said nervously. "We've met once before."
Luna was still staring at the two with wide eyes and hidden under a cloak of invisibility, Sirius and Sarah also stared at Luna curiously wondering who this girl was and why was she ruining their plans!
"Are you alright?" Lillian asked, concerned.
"You... I… So many!" Luna whispered in reverence. Her eyes focused on Harry and her expression turned deadly serious. "Kiss her now."
"What!" Lillian gasped.
"What!?" Sarah and Sirius said, shocked.
Luna turned to Lillian. "Kiss him quick or they will disappear on you!" she said urgently.
"Luna, have you gone mad?" Harry asked heatedly.
"You have to kiss or the Nargles will stop mating and the Snoracks will not be attracted!" she screamed. "This is a rare opportunity so kiss NOW!"
"Look I don't know who you are but I don't..." Lillian began, not finding this funny.
"Luna, stop this nonsense at once," Harry barked. Inside his body, his heart was pounding and there was an internal war raging. One part of him that Harry had never felt was literally begging him to kiss her and the rational part of his mind was stopping him from doing so.
"KISS!" Luna screamed hysterically.
Lillian turned to Harry. Her own mind was emulating Luna and screaming at her to kiss him. Why was she even considering this!? Why did she even turn towards him when she should have just smacked that girl and forced her to shut up! Her protests and reasons for not doing so were steadily dying and like an echo in an utterly silent world the words, kiss him were reverberating in her soul.
"Harry," she whispered: her voice suddenly ripe with emotion and indecision.
Harry looked into her eyes and felt like he was about to have a panic attack. His heart rate was definitely beyond any barriers of normalcy. Luna's screams were suddenly drowned in the ocean that was Lillian's eyes. His heart beat and her eyes: that was all that he was capable of noticing. He was so close to her and yet he wasn't able to bring himself to kiss her.
The pressure was just too much.
"Oh for the love of god," Sirius muttered exasperatedly. He fired a silencing spell at the hysterical girl and nudged Harry with a flick of his wand.
Harry jerked forward and their lips met.
They were too stunned to even realize what had just happened and seconds later when they did realize they simultaneously pushed each other away.
"You idiot!" Sarah hissed furiously and quietly. "Why did you do that!?"
Sirius mouthed something incomprehensible and Sarah felt like breaking his nose. He had just ruined their moment! Words could not describe the anger she was feeling towards Sirius at this moment.
Harry rounded up on Luna ready to accuse her of pushing him into Lillian but there was nobody there to accuse. The mysterious girl had disappeared.
"Lillian," he began apologetically and at the same time said girl went, "Listen Harry."
They both stopped mid way and sheepishly grinned at each other. Some sort of barrier had just broken between them and they both looked terribly embarrassed.
"Blast it all," Harry said and he surrendered to his heart.
He gently wrapped his arms around her waist and brought her close to him.
Lillian felt his lips caress her own and their worlds dissolved in a rainbow of bliss.
And there you have it!