DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: My thanks to Bookofsecrets for the betaing and Fourth Rose for allowing me to use her ideas about Pensieves.
The elf swayed slightly, stars reflected in his wide, shining eyes. Together, he and Harry looked down at the silver hilt of the knife protruding from the elf's heaving chest.
"Dobby -- no –HELP!" Harry bellowed toward the cottage, toward the people moving there. "HELP!"
He did not know or care whether they were wizards or Muggles, friends or foes; all he cared about was the dark stain spreading across Dobby's front, and that he had stretched out his thin arms to Harry with a look of supplication. Harry caught him and laid him sideways on the cool grass.
"Dobby, no, don't die, don't die --"
The elf's eyes found him, and his lips trembled with the effort to form words.
Someone was shaking him. Harry opened his eyes. He was no longer in Bill and Fleur's garden, but in their sitting room. Ron stood over him, eyes frozen in a wild panic; he seized Harry roughly by the shoulders. Beside him was Dean, his expression somewhere between weariness and mild alarm.
Harry pried Ron's hands away. "I'm awake. You can let go now."
Ron blinked and stepped back. "Sorry, mate. You were thrashing about like a madman, moaning in your sleep. We thought you were having a fit." He glanced at Harry's scar. "It's not You-Know-Who again, is it?"
Harry sat up on the couch. "No, just your plain, ordinary nightmare." He didn't tell them that visions of Dobby's death had plagued him every night since they had arrived at Shell Cottage, though this had been the first time he woke anyone else up. Instead, he grabbed his glasses off the side table and shoved them on his nose. "I'll get over it," he said, willing that to be the end of it.
It wasn't. "Don't blame you for having nightmares," Dean said. "I reckon we're all entitled to them after what we've been through. You don't have to keep it bottled up, though."
"Yeah, maybe me or Hermione could help you out."
"I don't see how," Harry snapped, "unless you can whip me up a Draught of Peace or something." He rubbed his temples. "Or maybe you could just Obliviate me. There are a lot of things I want to forget these days."
Dean furrowed his brow in thought. "There's an idea," he said slowly.
"What? I was joking! You don't think I want to end up like Lockhart, do you?"
"I mean you could use a Pensieve."
"A Pensieve?" Harry asked, puzzled. How could a Pensieve help him? They kept perfect records, untainted by time or bias. He certainly didn't want to view a perfect record of Dobby's death.
Dean, however, was in the grips of whatever great idea he had. "I wrote an essay on them for Binns fifth year." He was pacing now, his eyes bright. "St. Mungo's used them to treat Aurors who had a hard time readjusting after the first war; all the killing got to them, I guess. The mediwizards had them put the really bad memories into the Pensieve until they could cope."
"Dumbledore showed me some of his memories, and he didn't seem to have any trouble recalling them."
Dean faced him. "It doesn't work like that. It's like, " he visibly struggled for the right word. "Look, if I told you something happened, you'd be able to picture it, but you probably wouldn't feel too strongly about it. That's how it is when you put a memory in the Pensieve. You'd have to recall the memory pretty clearly to put it in, but after that it shouldn't bother you too much."
Harry considered it. If he were honest with himself, the idea of putting his memories in a place where they could no longer disturb his sleep or flit across his mind when he should have been thinking of nothing except how to stop Voldemort was very appealing. He could have some peace, at least until he could deal with his memories properly and put them back where they belonged.
That happy train of thought came to an abrupt end. "That sounds great, except we don't have a Pensieve."
Ron grinned. Harry knew that look. It was the one Ron gave him when he was three moves away from checkmating Harry's king, but Harry hadn't figured it out yet. "Actually, we do."
Harry and Dean looked at him. "Some bloke Bill met in Egypt gave him one as a wedding present." His eyes dropped to his shoes. "I saw it when I stayed here after I, you know, left."
Before Harry could say anything else, Fleur called them for breakfast. Harry tucked in to his bacon and eggs with gusto and resolved to ask Bill about borrowing the Pensieve as soon as possible.
As it happened, he didn't get his chance until after lunch. Hermione had volunteered them to deal with a garden gnome infestation ("It's almost like being back home," Ron had said to general laughter). They had trudged back to the house, sweaty and sore from flinging the gnomes away. Hermione had retired to her bedroom, claiming that she needed to check the translation of some rune or other that she said Gringotts was likely to use for protection. Harry and Ron had looked at each other; Griphook had not yet agreed to help them. Harry hoped it wouldn't come down to Hermione to do all their planning. Ron settled down to a game of wizard chess with Dean.
He found Bill in the sitting room, fiddling with the wireless. "Hi, Harry. I was just trying to tune in to the latest Potterwatch broadcast. Shouldn't be more than a few minutes, if you don't mind the wait."
Harry fidgeted. He hoped no one asked him many questions about why he needed the Pensieve. Bill might be the height of cool, but Harry didn't relish giving him a detailed account of his nightmares.
Bill had not disappointed him. "Ron told you about it, did he? You're not the first person I've let use it, and I doubt you'll be the last. My study, top of the stairs, second door on the right. It should be on my desk; you can't miss it." With a murmured thanks, Harry set off in search of his goal.
Harry very much doubted if Fleur had ever set foot in this room. There were books everywhere; they were on shelves, yes, but they were also strewn about the desk and propped up on the windowsill. The wastebasket overflowed with crumpled parchment and broken quills. In the middle of all this chaos was a large stone basin.
Silvery liquid swirled and eddied inside it. Harry paused, startled. There were memories inside. Whose were they? Bill had not mentioned using it recently. Had Ron used it the last time he had been here? No, Ron would have said something. As far as he knew, he, the Weasleys, and Dean were the only ones in the house who knew about the Pensieve. Curiosity got the better of him. He peered inside.
He would never get used to the falling sensation of entering another person's memories. He picked himself up and dusted himself off out of habit, though there was no dirt to remove. It was dark, and Harry could not immediately see where he had landed. There was a faint dripping noise coming from somewhere, as if there were a leak somewhere nearby. Harry's eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, and he realized, with a shock, that he was back in the basement of Malfoy Manor.
Ollivander lay on the ground, his face covered in welts and clutching a ragged blanket. Luna sat beside him with her back propped against the stone wall. "Cheer up, Mister Ollivander, it's nearly Christmas. Besides, sadness attracts jipperwiffes, especially in dark places." She patted him in a vaguely reassuring manner. Ollivander responded with a weak laugh, which dissolved into a coughing fit. Harry sat down between them and waited.
The door was flung open. Ollivander raised his arm to shield himself against the sudden light. Rodolphus Lestange stood in the doorway. The months since the fall of the Ministry of Magic had been very good to him. He looked every inch the gentleman with his freshly pressed robes and well-trimmed beard. At first glance, he did not look like a man who could torture anyone. He ground his heel into the stone floor, his eyes flitting about the basement before landing on Luna. He stepped into the room.
Ollivander whimpered. "Please, please, I told you everything I know. I don't know why the Dark Lord's wand --"
Lestange held up a hand for silence, stepping forward until the tips of his boots were nearly touching Luna's feet. He schooled his expression into one of polite attention and concern. He kneeled, so they were at eye level. "I trust your accommodations have not been too unpleasant, Miss Lovegood?"
"It's a bit drafty, but I don't mind. The stonework is quite interesting." She looked up. "You can see the shape of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack in the ceiling."
Lestrange looked at her quizzically for a moment before forcing out a laugh. "Severus did tell me you said the most remarkable things. Is there anything I can do for you?"
"You could let me go," she said, in exactly the same tone she would've asked Harry to pass the pudding.
"I'm afraid I can't do that," Lestrange said, making his tone as regretful and sympathetic as he possibly could. "Your father has been printing the most scurrilous lies about the Ministry and about Potter. You are insurance that he prints the truth."
"But Father always prints the truth."
"I'm certain you think so. Nevertheless, until your father ceases to libel law-abiding citizens, you will remain here as Lucius Malfoy's guest." He looked thoughtful. "On second thought, perhaps if you assisted me, I could arrange for your immediate release."
She stared unblinkingly at him. Lestrange was visibly unnerved by her silence. "Draco Malfoy tells me you are a close friend of Potter's."
Luna beamed at the mention of Harry's name. "Harry has been very kind to me. He took me to a party once."
Lestrange smiled. This was the reason he had come to this basement, Harry was sure of it. "I don't suppose you might know where he is?"
"That's a very popular question. The Carrows asked Ginny, Neville, and me that every other day last term."
"Do you know where he is?"
"I don't believe you. If there's one thing we know about Potter, it is that he places an absurd amount of trust in his friends. He trusted to you enough to allow you to fight alongside him a year-and-a-half ago. He must have trusted you enough to tell you where he was going."
"I don't think the Carrows believed me either. That's all right. Most people don't believe me when I tell the truth. I think they find lies easier to bear. It would be easier for you to believe I knew where Harry was, so you could make me tell you. I wouldn't tell you even if I did know." Her expression was as vague and dreamy as ever, but there was a very un-Lunalike note of resolve in her voice. Harry smiled in spite of himself. Ron was right; Luna had guts.
Lestrange muttered something under his breath. "Potter is unstable. You are protecting the murderer of Albus Dumbledore."
"I don't think so. Professor Snape killed Dumbledore. I'm not doing anything to protect him, am I?"
Exasperation flickered across Lestrange's face, and a muscle worked in his jaw. "Listen to me, you silly girl." His voice was calm, deadly. "Potter is finished. You gain nothing by protecting him. Can you imagine how the Dark Lord will reward me when I bring him news of Potter's whereabouts? Help me, and you and your father shall have a powerful friend in the new order. Stay silent, and you shall be destroyed. The choice is yours."
Luna shook her head sadly. "I already have friends. I don't think you have any, though. You served You-Know-who so faithfully, but it took him months after he returned to break you out of Azkaban."
"It was an honor to be imprisoned for the Dark Lord," he rasped. "Bella and I proved to be his greatest servants."
"Hmmm. He certainly seems to appreciate your wife. I think he likes to have her close to him. I think she likes it too. Do you suppose she fancies him?"
Lestrange seized Luna by the throat. His eyes glinted wildly, and a vein throbbed in his temple. It was as if Polyjuice Potion had worn off; the suave gentleman was revealed to be the madman who spent fourteen years in Azkaban after all. He brought his face so close to Luna's that Harry could not have passed a finger between them. His fingers curled, ripping away the butterbeer cap necklace. Luna gasped in surprise and pain. "Do not… say that again," he growled.
Ollivander screwed his eyes shut and turned away. "Let her go!" shouted Harry, unable to stop himself.
He could almost believe that Lestrange heard him, for he released her. His breath came in hoarse pants. "No more games," he whispered. He grabbed Luna's right arm, pushing up the sleeve of her robes to expose the bare flesh. She tried to pull away, but he merely grasped her tighter. With his free hand, he withdrew his wand. "Bella prefers to use a knife for persuasion. It is almost Muggle of her." He pressed the wand into her skin at a place just below her wrist. "I find magic much more satisfying." He drew the wand across her arm, leaving behind a long red line. It was a moment before Harry realized it was blood. Luna sucked in a breath.
"Stings, doesn't it?" Lestrange smirked. "I will ask you again: where is Potter?"
"I don't know."
"Suit yourself." Harry watched in horrified fascination as Lestrange drew the wand across her arm again, more slowly this time. Luna bit her lip, drawing blood of her own. Spots appeared. Ollivander began whimpering again but neither of the other two people in the room paid him any attention.
Harry didn't want to see anymore. There was a way to leave memories, but he could not remember it. He could only watch as the questioning continued. It was almost like a ritual: Question, answer, cut. Lather, rinse, repeat. To her credit, Luna did not cry or beg but continued her denials, though her voice grew hoarser each time.
Finally, Lestrange tired of his sport. He stood up, turned on his heel, and went for the door. Luna remained sitting, gripping her bloody arm, her knees huddled to her chest. "You won't win, you know," she said softly.
Lestrange paused in the doorway and turned around to look at her. "We already have." He shut the door behind him, leaving the room once more in darkness.
The next thing Harry knew, he was back in Bill's study. He was shaking. A fake, it had to be. Someone had created this memory and left it here as some kind of sick joke. Even as he thought it, Harry knew it was not true. There were no telltale blackouts or white patches as there had been with the other altered memories he had encountered. This had really happened. Lestrange had tortured Luna. He recalled the sight of her arm, the way the blood had oozed across her skin. Bile rose in his throat.
Another memory, his own this time, flitted across his mind: "But I can't ... we can't ... I've got things to do alone now." He had believed that if he told no one what he was doing, that if he kept them in ignorance about the Horcrux hunt, then they would be safe. The Death Eaters would not harm those he loved because it would serve no purpose. He had been naïve. He had not kept his friends safe; he had left them on their own to wage a guerilla war against a school that was now hostile to them. He had left them to be tortured because they were his friends.
Harry doubted he would have the energy to relive Dobby's death in enough detail to store it in the Pensieve. He turned to go and stepped back in shock. Luna stood in the doorway, a glass phial in hand.
Harry's face flushed. He was suddenly very aware that what he had seen had not been meant for his eyes. He grabbed a book from the desk and flipped it to a random page, pretending to read.
"Hello, Harry. I didn't know you could read French."
Harry checked the cover of the book in his hand: L'histoire de la magie. He put the book back down, smiling weakly.
He looked at her properly for the first time since leaving Malfoy Manor. The butterbeer cap necklace and radish earrings were gone. Without the benefit of spangled robes or sunflowers in her hair she looked normal, far too normal for a girl who spoke of the Rotfang Conspiracy and life after death with equal conviction. The robes she had borrowed from Fleur hung loosely on her, and the sleeves were so long they nearly covered her hands. He studiously avoided looking at her right arm.
"You're staring. Have you got a jollywob in your eye?"
"No, I --" He resisted asking what a jollywob was. "I was just leaving."
Luna peered over Harry's shoulder, and Harry realized she must be looking at the Pensieve. "You've been going through my memories," she said conversationally.
The sane thing to do would be to deny it, but Luna fixed him with her wide, silvery eyes. He found it impossible to lie. "I'm sorry."
"Yes, it was rather rude of you. It's all right, though. It's rather difficult not to look in a Pensieve, isn't it? The liquid makes such pretty patterns."
Harry exhaled. At least Luna didn't seem to hate him for what he'd done. She stepped around him to the Pensieve and collected the silvery liquid in her phial. "They're very useful. Sometimes, we remember bad things as worse than they were. It can be useful to get some perspective."
"Is that why you used it?"
She nodded. "It was painful, what Lestrange did to me, but it's not the worst thing that could have happened. I do miss my necklace though. Mum helped me make it when I was small. I suppose it's still in Malfoy's basement somewhere."
"I'm sorry this happened," Harry said. He looked at his shoes. "It's my fault. Lestrange would have never hurt you if you weren't my friend."
She considered it. "No, I think you're wrong. The Death Eaters don't like anyone who disagrees with them. They would have come for me eventually. Neville, Ginny, and I reorganized Dumbledore's Army, did you know that?"
He nodded, and she continued, "We would have done that whether or not we were your friends. Voldemort is evil, and the Ministry is wrong. Somebody has to keep telling the truth. We did." She took his hand in both of hers. "We just happened to be your friends, too."
He was really going to have to talk to Hermione about volunteering them for chores without asking him first. He crouched before a bookshelf, tracing his wand over the leather-bound spines, magically removing the dust. It was dull, tedious work, even with magic. He looked longingly out the window. The sky was clear, and a light breeze played across the grass. He closed his eyes, imagining the smell of the sea air and the feel of the wind in his face.
He squinted. Luna was in the garden. She carried a basket half filled with flowers of various kinds. Harry watched as she knelt to pluck a sunflower from the ground. Her movements were deliberate, controlled. She had always seemed to walk more lightly than ordinary people, as if she were always on the verge of skipping somewhere and only good manners prevented it. Now, she seemed resolutely earthbound.
Harry told himself that Luna was walking the way she always did. It was only his perception of her that had changed. He was projecting his own feelings about what he knew had happened at Malfoy Manor onto her. Tomorrow, in a week at most, she would seem carefree to him once more. He frowned. No, she really did seem sadder. It was as if she had lost some small part of herself along with the butterbeer cap necklace.
An idea hit him. Could he make a new necklace to replace the one Luna had lost in Malfoy Manor? He thought. The necklace was nothing more than butterbeer caps joined together with a bit of string. It wouldn't be difficult to replicate. He smiled grimly. He had been unable to stop the Death Eaters from taking Luna at Christmas. He couldn't heal the scars that undoubtedly still covered her arm. He couldn't even rescue her father from Azkaban. The loss of the necklace was a small thing, but it was the only one he could fix.
The first order of business was to find enough butterbeer caps. A quick search of the house turned up enough for his purposes; he supposed he should be grateful that Bill had an apparent aversion to picking up after himself. He set them all on the kitchen table and used his wand to bore a hole in them. The trickiest part was threading the string through the holes. They were too small to direct the string through with his wand, so he resorted to doing it by hand. It was almost as tedious as dusting the bookshelf had been. When that was done, he tied the two ends of string together, completing the necklace. He placed it gently in his pocket. Now all that was left was to locate its recipient.
He found Luna is still in the garden, still clutching her basket. She smiled when she saw him approach. "Hello. I was just on my way to give these to Mr. Ollivander. Would you like to join me?" She placed the basket on the ground.
He shook his head, feeling suddenly shy. It occurred to him that he had never made anything for anyone before. He had always bought presents for his friends at Hogwarts, and he hadn't had any friends to make anything for before that. What if she didn't like it?
This was ridiculous. Gryffindors did not get nervous about giving their friends gifts. He cleared his throat. Luna looked at him. "I—I have something for you," he stammered. With sweaty hands, he removed the necklace from his pocket. Luna's eyes widened even more than usual. She stared at him in silence as he held it out.
The next thing he knew, Luna's arms were around him, hugging him more tightly than he thought a human being could hug another. Once the shock had worn off, he hugged her back. "I take it this means you liked it?"
She laughed. "I think that's a reasonable assumption, yes," she murmured into his shoulder. She looked up at him, her eyes suspiciously bright. "Thank you, Harry."
He blushed. "It was the least I could do."
She broke the embrace and took the necklace. He watched as she put it on. Her shoulders relaxed, and Harry let out of breath he hadn't realized he was holding. He had once thought she looked much better without the necklace. Never again. It was one of the things that made Luna, well, Luna.
"I know this doesn't make up for my invading your privacy yesterday or for, well, anything, really. If there's anything else I can do…" he trailed off.
She sobered. "There is one thing."
"I imagine there is going to be more fighting before the end. If I'm there, I want you to let me help you." Her tone was light, but Harry detected the same note of resolve in her voice that he had witnessed in the memory.
Harry paused. Every instinct was screaming for him to say no. It was too dangerous. She was only a sixth year. How would her father feel if she died in battle? She ought to be somewhere safe.
He checked himself. Hadn't he already learned that he couldn't keep her safe? Luna had stood up against the Carrows and had broken into the Headmaster's office, for Merlin's sake. "All right," he said.
She beamed at him. "We'll win, you know."