Setting the Fulcrum
Luna Lovegood stopped and listened.
That's odd, she thought, Myrtle usually haunts the second floor. Why would she be crying in the first floor loo?
Deciding her Charms Class project could wait for another quarter-hour she followed the sounds of grief and frustration and found Hermione Granger, bowed over a pedestal style sink, gripping the porcelain edges as she fought back tears.
"Hello Hermione. Is this going to be your bathroom now?" she asked.
The question caught the Gryffindor completely by surprise, as was intended, and she looked at Luna with an expression that said, "What?"
Luna continued in her seemingly vapid manner, "Well, Myrtle has the second floor girls' loo, if you're going to have this one perhaps I should opt for the third floor."
"Luna, what are you talking about?"
Luna crossed her arms, then raised her right hand to stroke the left side of her chin and began her explanation.
"You're upset. It's not anything to do with schoolwork, because academics never bother you. You're not distressed over what any of the girls are saying about you – they're so jealous – because you would be angry, not heartbroken."
Luna's large eyes narrowed, "That means it's a boy. A boy you're close to, so that eliminates everyone in the castle except for Harry and Ronald. Harry would sooner cut off his right arm than hurt you, so Ronald has said or done something to upset you."
Hermione dabbed the corners of her eyes with the sleeve of her jumper, "That's amazing, Luna."
"Not really, you could have sussed it out if it had happened to me. But I haven't had any real friends, until recently, so no one has been able to disappoint me that badly, yet. I'm sure it will happen, especially if I get closer to Ronald Weasley."
Hermione snorted, "I would say that you're welcome to him, but that wouldn't be fair to you."
"Want to talk about it?" Luna encouraged.
Hermione sighed, she'd seen therapists while growing up to help her cope with the pressures of growing up exceptional, and so she knew the value of venting her feelings.
"We were in Transfiguration just now, and Ron accidentally gave himself a thick, handlebar mustache. It was funny looking, and everyone around him laughed."
Hermione frowned, "But when he saw me laughing he became very spiteful, he started to mock me, jumping up and down, raising his hand saying "I know, I know, oh, pick me, pick me!", it wasn't that he was trying to be funny, he was intending to be hurtful."
Luna nodded, "Yes, Ronald can say funny things sometimes, but I don't think he really thinks about hurting people's feelings."
"He's done it to you too, hasn't he?" Hermione asked.
"Several times." Luna said, with a sigh.
"It's a wonder he has any friends at all." Hermione observed.
There came a soft knock at the door, "Hermione, are you in there? It's Harry. I've got your books and notes and stuff from class."
Luna smiled, "Why don't you wash your face and fix your hair, here, let me help."
Saying that Luna drew her wand from behind her ear and tapped the top of Hermione's head, this didn't make the bushy brown hair any less bushy, but it did convince it to lie in neat rows all around.
"Thank's Luna, you'll have to teach me that."
Harry was startled to see Luna exit the bathroom just ahead of Hermione, "Oh, I thought you were by yourself. I'm glad I didn't follow my first instinct and just go on in."
"Oh, is it okay for boys to go into the girls' bathrooms now?" Luna asked.
"Um, no, I just thought that Hermione was upset and I wanted to make sure she was alright."
Hermione gratefully accepted her books and supplies, thanked Harry profusely, then hurried off to her next class.
Harry watched until she disappeared around the corner.
Luna observed Harry with her large, discerning eyes.
It's nearly time, she thought, the juncture is almost right.
Harry, still staring at that point in space where Hermione had been, said in a near growl, "Ron!"
Luna was startled by the vehemence in Harry's voice.
"Ronald sometimes says funny things, but as often as not, they're hurtful."
Harry nodded and seemed to regard Luna.
"I miss the DA. It was like having friends. Ginny was my only real friend growing up, she still looks out for me – she stopped two upperclassmen from calling me 'Loony' just last week."
He smiled and seemed to ponder before asking, "Luna, would you come to Slughorn's Christmas Party with me? Just as friends, nothing special, nothing implied, just two friends enjoying each other's company."
Luna's heart soared, but somehow she managed to keep her response low key, although her infectious joy was hard to mask. "I-I've never been invited to a party by a boy. I'd love to go with you, as a friend, Harry."
Peeves the Poltergeist cackled insanely from the chandelier above, "Potty lurves Loony, Loony lurves Potty."
Harry shrugged, "Well, I guess everyone will know by this evening that I, um, we have a date to the party."
"Yes, Peeves can be useful that way." Luna said with a smile.
Luna hurried to the post owls, composing the letter in her mind before she sent it off.
It's nearly time to act, the parameters are falling into position and, if my calculations are correct, and I know you've checked them five times by now, the fulcrum will be in place on the 19th of December.
Would you please sent Mummy's silver-spangled gown, the one with the matching cape? It will make a nice impression on Harry, and it could bring me luck, it's the gown that Mummy was wearing when she asked you to marry her.
All my love, for now,
Luna, your moon maiden – so far.
The evening of the party arrived. Luna had been pleasantly surprised when Su Li and Padma Patil offered to help her with hair and makeup – she'd never tried coloring her cheeks or lips before, and decided she liked the effect. Padma transformed her overly large eyes by the judicious application of eyeliner and shadow. Su arranged her hair in a nice up-sweep then adorned it with baby's breath and magical sparkles.
As she passed through the Ravenclaw Common Room there were titters from some of the girls, Cho and Marietta in particular, but it rang hollow. Every girl there and every boy who was paying attention realized that they were looking at the belle of the ball.
Luna stood just inside the Ravenclaw entrance and saw Harry standing in the hallway. Padma exited holding a boxed corsage. Luna could hear them as she thrust the corsage into his hand and whispered, "If you pull the same stunt with Luna that you did with Parvati and me two years ago there won't be enough left of you to fill a shoebox."
Harry looked at the silver and white orchid and said, "Thanks, Padma. Tonight is all about Luna." He held out his hand, "May I offer my heartfelt apology for my behavior then? I wish I could go back in time and undo all the crap I put you and your sister through – I'd like to think I've grown up a little since then."
Padma softened a bit took his hand and said, "Be nice to her Harry, she's one of a kind."
Harry might have been about to say something else, but whatever it was it died on his lips.
Luna Lovegood stood framed in the doorway, her eyes cast demurely downward.
Every hair was in place, the fact that she wore her hair up accented her long, thin neck and bare shoulders. Gone were the butterbeer cork necklace and radish earrings. She wore simple silver hoops in her ears and a matching chain from which hung a traditional wiccan 'phases of the moon' pendant.
The silver spangled gown fit her like a glove and enhanced her curves nicely. The low bodice enhanced as it barely concealed her small breasts. The low waistline flared just enough to follow the slope of her hips.
The trailing skirt was split up the front to just about mid-thigh so that, as Luna walked, a tantalizing flash of nicely formed leg showed.
Her tiny feet were encased in silk shoes, died silver to match the dress.
Padma prodded Harry, who stepped forward and just managed to say, "You look beautiful, Luna."
"Thank you, Harry. Are we ready then?"
"Almost." He said, holding up the flower box, "May I?"
He seemed to hover with the corsage, not sure what he could touch to pin it on.
Luna grinned and said, "In the very center, between my breasts would be best, don't you think? That way when I put on the mantle it won't crush the flower."
Harry blushed, but soldiered on; managing to affix the orchid in such a way that he got a nice view of the curve of both her breasts, then helped her with the matching cape.
Luna took a small spray of baby's breath from her hair and placed it in the buttonhole of Harry's lapel.
"Milady?" he said, offering his arm.
"Milord." She replied, taking it.
Quite a few students found excuses to be in the hallways that evening, and when Harry in his tuxedo-like dress robes escorted the transformed Luna in her Silver Goddess ensemble the rumor mill began to buzz about the new 'top couple' in school.
Luna didn't miss a single murmur as she allowed herself to be led in the direction of the dungeons and Slughorn's quarters.
Harry kept the conversation light and engaging, "I understand there will be a vampire there tonight."
"Oh, Rufus Scrimgeour will be there?"
Really, Luna thought, if Harry can't see through my façade by now then this whole thing may as well end before it begins.
The way Harry smiled let her know that he knew.
When they arrived at the party a hush fell over those already there, Luna was sure it was because Harry had never been to any of the Slug Club functions before.
Luna had a wonderful time, discombobulating guests left and right. Harry kept her supplied with drinks and finger-foods and company, making sure to include her in all of his conversations.
Ginny Weasley was there, her redheaded friend raised an eyebrow and tilted her head to Harry to which Luna smiled and shrugged as if to say, "Who knows?"
She saw a slightly disheveled Hermione manage, yet again, to avoid the clutches of Cormack McClaggen.
The whole equation teetered on the probability that Harry would pick up some valuable bit of information at tonight's party. The party was nice, but something had to happen, and soon.
And it did.
Filch hauled Draco Malfoy in by his ear.
Professor Snape hustled Draco out the door and Harry excused himself,
"Um, I've got to, um. . ."
"Use the loo?" Luna offered.
"Yeah, that's it, be back in a bit."
Luna looked around the crowded room and sighed, it had been nice, at first, but she would prefer any future parties to be small, intimate affairs.
"Hermione!" Cormack called from across the room, and Luna turned to see McClaggen's intended victim pale.
Luna took Hermione by the arm and said, "Come with me to the ladies room?"
Hermione nodded gratefully, "Of course."
Once out of the Slughorn's quarters, Hermione said, "Thank you, Luna. I was getting desperate."
"You must have been, Hermione, to invite Cormack in the first place."
"Not one of my better ideas of late." She admitted, sheepishly.
Luna placed two fingers on Hermione's lips pulled her into an alcove and whispered, "Don't move!"
Hermione looked confused and a bit taken aback by Luna's sudden move.
Then both girls heard Draco muttering to himself as he stormed down the corridor, heading for the Slytherin dorms, "I'll show them, I'll show them all! Interfering old bastard!"
Hermione began to ease out of the alcove when Luna pulled her back again, so she narrowly missed bumping into Snape as he pursued Draco.
Three minutes passed and Luna said, "Now we need to find Harry."
"You go ahead, Luna, I think I've had enough excitement for one night."
"No, Hermione, you don't understand we need to see Harry, and right now."
"Luna, do you know where he is?"
She pulled a sprig of baby's breath from her hair and said, "I can find him."
Luna appeared to be in a trance as she walked down the empty corridor with the tiny blossoms in her hand; she turned left at the first intersection, left again at the second then stopped at the third door, which was slightly ajar.
They entered the empty classroom, where Luna walked unerringly to one corner and said, "Hello Harry, did you find what you needed?"
Luna smirked; she didn't know who was more shocked, Hermione, at her finding Harry or Harry at being found.
He pulled the cloak off and asked, "Can you see through invisibility cloaks too, Luna?"
"Let's pretend I can find you anytime I want to, no matter where you hide."
Hermione laughed, "Luna, you charmed Harry's buttoner, didn't you?"
"Not exactly, I charmed the blossoms so that they'd be attracted to each other if I split them apart. I just had to follow the pull of the baby's breath blossom. You see, I knew that, at some point tonight, Harry would leave me alone at the party."
Harry looked horrified, "I've done it again, haven't I? I've gone and abandoned my date in the middle of a party. Padma's going to kill me!"
Luna shrugged, then looked around the room and nodded, "This will do nicely."
"Harry, would you light the torches please? Hermione, give me a hand with these chairs and the desk, please."
"A nice large oriental rug, I think."
"Dark wood paneling."
Harry and Hermione found themselves following Luna's suggestions and, in a trice, the room had been transformed into something that Hermione was very familiar with.
"It's a psychiatrist's office." She said, amazed that Luna would be familiar with muggle medicine.
"When my Mum died, Daddy and I both went for counseling. It helped, a bit."
Two very comfortable chairs faced the ubiquitous couch upon which Luna reclined in her silver-spangled gown.
"Please, Harry, Hermione, have a seat and we can begin."
More amused than intrigued, the two Gryffindors sat down.
Without preamble, Luna began, "The single most important thing for us to achieve here is clarity."
"Clarity?" Hermione asked.
Luna nodded, "We all have our individual 'Weltanschauung', our way of looking at the world. The problem is that our view is limited by our own conceptions, perceptions, exceptions and a whole lot of other 'ceptions'.
"What we need is the point of view of a third party, someone close enough to the problem to see it, without becoming insensitive to it."
Luna smirked as she regarded the two gob-smacked teens, "That's where I come in."
Harry smiled and asked, "So what have you seen, oh observant one, that we've missed?"
"Professor Dumbledore is dying."
Both Harry and Hermione sat forward in open-mouthed shock as Luna continued, "He's been struck by a powerful, incurable curse, that only the best efforts of Professor Snape and Madame Pomfrey can keep at bay, but they are losing him. Our headmaster weakens by the day.
Harry was the first to ask, "How?"
"His blackened and withered hand, the fact that he doesn't eat anymore, but sits at the head table drinking something he obviously doesn't enjoy – potions I would imagine. The headmaster's voice is not as strong as it used to be, and he tires easily."
Hermione asked, "How long?"
Luna shrugged, "I don't think he'll last out the end of next term."
"Luna," Harry asked, "are you a seer?"
"Not exactly, not in the way you mean it. I see things as they are, and I extrapolate from my observations. The better I understand the past and the present the better I can 'see' what's coming."
Hermione turned to Harry, "She does show amazing insight, Harry."
"My father taught me to observe all possibilities, to categorize them and to plot possible outcomes in my head."
Harry asked, "Do you do this everyday?"
Hermione looked narrowly at the recumbent Ravenclaw, "More like every minute, I would say."
Luna simply nodded, and said, "It can be a bit distracting at times."
"And the nargles and snorkacks and other assorted rare creatures?" Harry asked.
Luna smiled, "The probability exists, however small."
Hermione sat up, obviously excited, "This could open a whole new field of Aritmancy, the blending of probability and statistics with magical formulae. . ."
"Down girl!" Harry chided, "I think Luna is way ahead of you on this one."
"And that brings us to the difficult part of our session today." Luna said as she sat up on the couch.
She pulled the wand from behind her ear and said, "I, Luna Lovegood, do solemnly swear, that what I say and do in this company is borne of truth and love unto my death, so mote it be."
"Luna!" Hermione cried, aghast that Luna would make such a powerful and potentially deadly oath. "You didn't have to do that, we both believe you."
Luna reached out to both Harry and Hermione and they, in turn, each took one of her hands, "Can we promise that, no matter how difficult these sessions become, that, at the end of the day, we will still be friends."
A single tear coursing down Luna's cheek emphasized how difficult this was for her.
"I so swear." Harry said.
"I so swear." Hermione agreed.
They all settled back into their respective seats.
"Hermione," Luna asked, "Why are you angry and disappointed with Harry."
She started to protest, "I'm not!' but then saw Luna's raised eyebrows.
"I guess it started with that damned book."
"Yes," Luna agreed, "I've heard that Harry has become Slughorn's golden boy in Potions class."
"Harry is not following the time-honored principles of potion making."
"That's not true, Hermione, the most honored principles of potion making are experimentation, innovation, improvisation."
"But that's not the way we do things in Potions class."
"If you don't change the way things are done, nothing ever changes."
"But these improvisations are not Harry's; they belong to someone called the Half-blood Prince."
"This Prince - did you know that Professor Snape's mother was named Prince? Anyway, about this Prince, has he or she published any of these breakthroughs?"
"Not that I can find."
"Then we have a brilliant theoretical potions developer hiding his or her light under a bushel. Why not let Harry succeed were this other person failed."
"What else, Hermione?" Luna prompted.
Harry spoke up, "I tricked Ron into thinking he'd had a dose of Felix Felicis, and I used Hermione to help convince him." He turned to Hermione, "If you hadn't been convinced, then he wouldn't have been convinced."
He looked down and said, "But thinking back on it, I was being selfish and inconsiderate and I would have hated it if someone had done the same thing to me. I'm sorry, Hermione."
Hermione studied her shoes, "It's just that it's not following the rules – I know it's one of my personality flaws, I can't help it. I have looked at some of those potions's notes, Harry, and they just make me feel uncomfortable."
"How many people would be dead today if Harry followed the rules?" Luna asked.
That statement shocked Hermione to her core, and it showed in her face, "Harry ignored the teachers in our first year and went to find me. Because of this he tackled a full grown mountain troll – if he hadn't, I would have been killed. Then two years ago, Harry produced a patronus powerful enough to repel over a hundred dementors, if he hadn't I would be a soulless husk today."
Luna decided it was time to move on, "Harry, why are you dogging Draco's heels this year?"
"He's up to something, I just know it."
"And your proof is?"
"I-I don't have any, not really. But he is acting suspicious."
"He is, and he's also afraid, deathly afraid of something. I don't think you've threatened to kill him, so I have to assume someone in Voldemort's camp has."
She placed a soothing hand on Harry's arm, "Draco is clever and frightened. This is a bad combination. He's been given some task, if he fails he dies, and probably his family as well – that's a pureblood's worst fear, that his entire family will be wiped out. He probably has been tasked with killing someone."
Hermione gasped, "Harry!"
Luna shook her head, "No, Voldemort wants Harry for himself, it must be a high profile target, the only ones even close to Harry on the Death Eater's 'to do' list is the Headmaster, and, well, you."
It was Harry's turn to gasp, "Hermione!"
Luna smiled, "Killing a student, other than Harry, wouldn't cause even a low-ranking death eater to loose sleep. No it has to be Professor Dumbledore."
"Wait," Harry asked, "Did you just say Malfoy's a Death Eater?"
Luna nodded, sadly, "I'm afraid so."
"My God," Hermione gasped, "does that mean he's already killed someone – don't you have to do that to earn the mark?"
Luna nodded, "It's possible, even likely that Draco hasn't killed yet, but his task is to kill, if he fulfills his task he'll be a fully vetted Death Eater."
"Hermione, you are jealously possessive of Ronald. Why?"
"Who cares what that boy is up to anymore?"
"Apparently you do, why?"
"I – I don't know, really."
"Please remember, Hermione, we're friends, okay?"
"Ronald is the consolation prize. You feel you can't have who you really want and so you go for the sidekick."
Hermione's blush grew to face devouring proportions.
"What you don't realize is that Harry doesn't need a 'sidekick', he needs his partner."
Tears leaked from the corners of Hermione's eyes, "Harry doesn't think of me that way."
"Wait, what? What way?" Harry sputtered.
Luna continued, "Have you ever thought to tell him?"
"I can't, if I do and he doesn't feel that way, I couldn't . . ."
"You would die for Harry."
Hermione nodded, "In a second."
"Then why not live for him, be what you already are, his conscience, his guide, his partner."
"I would, if he'd have me." She said in a small voice.
"But you, and Ron, and all that arguing, like an old married couple, I thought, and Ron said you and he were. . ."
Luna asked, "Harry, where is Ronald, right now?"
Harry grimaced, "Probably in the common room, kissing Lavender."
"So what possible claim can he have on Hermione?"
Harry looked at Hermione, who looked back, with hope shining in her eyes and said, "None that I can see."
Luna sat up and said, "Well I can see we've made excellent progress so far, in our next session let's see if we can't resolve some of our Unresolved Sexual Tension, we are, after all, hormonal teenagers, and masturbation, healthy as it is harmless, can be awfully lonely.
Harry and Hermione both laughed.
"Hermione, I need to escort my date back to her dormitory, can you make it back to Gryffindor Tower all right by yourself?"
Hermione started to say "Yes" when Luna said, "Let's all go, I don't like the idea of Hermione walking these corridors alone at night."
So the trio walked back toward the Ravenclaw tower.
Hermione and Luna shared a look behind Harry's back and each girl took one of his hands in her own.
At the tower entrance Harry said, "Luna, when I asked you to come with me to the party I said 'nothing special, just friends', well, I want you to know that I think you're very special."
Luna blushed to her roots.
Hermione smiled and said, "I'd say your date has earned a goodnight kiss."
Harry bent down and touched his lips to Luna's.
"Thank you, Harry."
"My pleasure, Luna."
"Honestly, you call that a kiss? Here, watch this, Luna, and learn."
Hermione pulled Harry by the lapels and plastered her body against him. She fused her lips to his and moaned, cocking one leg in the process.
When she released him she said, "Now that, was a proper kiss."
She turned a happily dazed and confused Harry around to face Luna who sprang into his arms and latched onto his mouth with her own. The split skirt allowed her to wrap her legs around Harry's middle and forced him to grab her bum to keep her from slipping.
Just then the Ravenclaw door opened and Padma stepped out. "Now if our date had ended like this think of all the fun we could have been having since then."
Harry and Luna reluctantly broke the kiss, as breathing became an issue, and they managed to make disentangling look like a well-rehearsed dance move.
They embraced once more and Harry placed a chaste kiss on top of her sandy-blonde head.
Padma looked quizzically at Hermione, particularly her kiss-swollen lips and asked, "You as well?"
Hermione smiled broadly and nodded.
"Goddess Meenakshi, that is so hot. Where do I sign up?"
Harry smiled and said, "I think I have enough riches for one man, I don't want to be greedy. Please look after our little moon-child while she's in Ravenclaw, you were right, Padma, she is special."
Luna watched Harry and Hermione walk away, hand in hand, and smiled.
"The fulcrum is in place, Daddy, time to move the world."
A/N: It was Archimedes who said, give me a big enough lever and I can move the world, of course, he said it in Ancient Greek, so it really sounded impressive.