Harry Potter Visits the Merpeople
Disclaimer: The characters and their world are the property of J.K. Rowling, various publishers and Warner Bros. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This story was originally intended to be chapter 22 in my story Harry Potter and Ice Cream Delights, but during moving the notes were lost. Using a special family charm (I'm a wizard too) I was able to recover the notes from a playful poltergeist, who we will call Herb. As it's too late for Ice Cream Delights I'm posting it as a stand-alone story, but you may notice some plot references to the earlier work.
Spring comes late to the highlands of Scotland, as if winter is determined to hold the land in its icy grip until the last possible moment. But when it does, it's a profusion of color the like of which is rarely equaled anywhere in Europe. The mountain valleys, such as the one occupied by Hogwarts Castle, can go from deep snow to drifts of spring flowers almost overnight. And once spring makes her start, she seems determined to bring on the short Scottish summer as quickly as possible.
Harry Potter felt comfortably lazy as he dozed peacefully under the great willow tree. He cracked a single eye open and looked through the curtain of hanging willow branches at the Black Lake. The lake surface had a shimmering silver color as it reflected the late afternoon sun. The boy found himself strangely entranced by the effect of the dappled sunlight as it filtered through the braded green branches of the ancient tree. It was the first really warm day of spring, and Harry thought it far too nice to spend working on his weekend homework.
Instead he lay against the trunk and waited peacefully for his girlfriend to arrive. Far out in the center of the lake the giant squid was also peacefully basking in the afternoon sunlight; seemingly as delighted as the students to see the end of the long, cold winter. It would occasionally roll over to sun another part of its long, dark body; but mostly it was content to merely drift with the current. A few weeks before the surface of the lake had been frozen solid, and frigid winds buffeted the ancient stone battlements of Hogwarts Castle. But now there were leaves on the trees and the shore was a riot of spring wildflowers.
Harry's plans for the day centered around a walk along the lakeside with Luna Lovegood and then a return to 'their' tree to watch the crimson sunset and the coming of a star filled night. Dinner would be a late affair in the castle kitchen, and Dobby the House Elf had promised that it would be something special. 'Perhaps a visit to the Astronomy Tower after dinner might finish off the evening quite nicely,' the boy thought with a dreamy smile.
He and the eccentric Ravenclaw had been together since the previous July, far longer than most teen romances, and he couldn't be happier. Luna had a unique wisdom all of her own combined with a quirky personality that always made him smile, even when things were going badly. Harry began to think more and more that the two of them had something very special together.
He leaned his head back against the rough bark and looked up at the green leaves over his head, cascading down in long streamers to touch the lake surface. The umbrella effect of the foliage, and the privacy that it provided, had made the tree a favorite meeting place of older students for generations. Strangely, since the first time that Harry and Luna had used the secluded spot, other sixth- and seventh-year students had left the tree exclusively for their use. Harry really didn't understand the reasons behind it, but he was more than willing to take advantage of the unique opportunity.
The boy glanced at his watch and frowned slightly. 'She should be here by now,' he thought to himself. He knew that Luna was helping Hermione Granger with a tough assignment in Ancient Runes, but it shouldn't have taken this long. She was always willing to help a friend in need and Harry admired her for it.
At that moment the raven-haired boy heard someone walking down the grassy path from the castle.
"I was beginning to wonder if you were coming," Harry said with his eyes still closed. He patted the soft turf beside him, indicating that the newcomer should take a seat at his side.
"I'm not quite sure what you have in mind Harry, but Tonks has a claim on my affections," Remus Lupin said with a smirk.
Harry bolted upright in shock. "I…I'm sorry Professor Lupin, I thought you were Luna," the boy blurted out.
"I'm rather glad to hear you say that, Harry," the man said with a mock sigh of relief.
"What are you doing down here Professor?" Harry asked eager to change the subject.
"Actually, I'm preparing for a rather special fifth-year defense lesson," Lupin answered as the two walked down to the shore together.
Harry knew that both third- and fifth-year defense classes concentrated on magical creatures, and the young man was curious as to how a trip to the Black Lake might play into a defense lesson.
"You're going to do a lesson on the giant squid?" Harry asked as he looked out to the center of the lake where the large creature was playfully rolling in the late afternoon sunlight.
"Actually, I'm taking my fifth-year classes to visit the Merpeople," Lupin said; and then with a wave of his wand a small wooden pier was created which extended a dozen or so meters out into the lake. A moment later six small white boats appeared, each securely tied to the pier. They were the same kind of old-fashioned paddle boats that were sometimes found on lakes in muggle parks.
"Professor Flitwick speaks excellent Mermish, and has volunteered to come along and translate for us. He and I went down last week and arranged the visits with the chief of the Merpeople," Professor Lupin said as he inspected one of the boats with satisfaction.
Harry remembered his own visit to the Merpeople during the Tri-Wizard Tournament in his fourth-year. They seemed distinctly unfriendly at that time; but Harry remembered that he did try to rescue all of the 'treasures' instead of the single one that he was sent to get.
"That sounds like a great experience, but what about the Grindylows?" The young man asked as he remembered his own encounter with the savage creatures.
"Professor Flitwick has made these charms for me," Lupin said as he held up a small bronze medallion. "They repel Grindylows as well as the other dark creatures that inhabit the depths of the lake.
Harry was sorely tempted to skip his second period class on Monday and ask professor Lupin if he might go along. The chance to visit the Merpeople with someone who could actually speak their language was an opportunity almost too good to miss. He had been dating Luna Lovegood for several months, and her love of strange and exotic creatures had quite rubbed off on him.
But then the young man remembered that fifth-year Defense Against the Dark Arts occupied the same time slot as sixth-year Transfiguration, and Professor McGonagall would not take it kindly for him to cut one of her classes; especially as she was already beginning to prepare her students for the end-of-term examinations.
"Are you going to use Gillyweed?" Harry asked casually, as he remembered his own experiences with the unique plant.
"We have an improvement over what you used in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Professor Snape was kind enough to distill and strengthen the Gillyweed into a potion that will allow us two hours under the surface. Professor Flitwick was also kind enough to demonstrate a charm to my class that will allow us to speak underwater, so the students can ask questions," the professor explained.
Harry was very impressed with the amount of preparation that was necessary in making such a lesson come off correctly, and also with the number of teachers involved.
"I started to plan this lesson over Christmas," Professor Lupin said as he seemed to read the boy's mind. "But I had to wait until we got some decent weather before we could go," he said as he looked at the shimmering water.
It was at that moment that a brilliant idea struck the young man. He had visited the Merpeople before but he knew that Luna had not; and he was certain that she would absolutely love the opportunity.
"Do you think I might borrow one of your boats, and maybe two vials of the Gillyweed Potion?" The boy asked hopefully.
The teacher was well aware of Harry's feelings for a certain silver-eyed Ravenclaw, and he was quite certain that the young witch had an important part in the boy's request. He knew of her love for strange and exotic creatures. Next to Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, Luna was the only other Hogwarts student brave enough to ride a Hippogriff, and she had done it in her second-year.
"Well I think that might be arranged; how about tomorrow? The water is particularly clear in the early afternoon," Lupin asked with a knowing look.
"That would be great!" The boy declared enthusiastically, and didn't even notice the decidedly mischievous expression on his friend's face.
"There will be a boat here in the morning and it's all yours," Professor Lupin said as he handed Harry two vials of Gillyweed Potion and two Anti-Grindylow Charms.
"I'm afraid that Professor Flitwick won't be able to accompany you, but Professor Dumbledore tells me that the Merpeople are usually quite friendly," the teacher explained
Harry didn't regard his first encounter with the water-dwelling creatures as exactly friendly, but he rationalized that he was actually breaking the tournament rules when he rescued Fleur Delacour's sister from their care.
A few minutes later the boy saw Luna Lovegood meandering her way down from the castle. Luna had a strangely wandering form of walk that made it appear that she had indulged in one too many butterbeers. Those who didn't know her would simply mark it down as another of the girl's eccentricities, but Harry knew better. He knew that her inquiring mind was being continuously diverted to some new wonder of nature; whether it was a spider's web or a robin's nest, nothing was too mundane for her interest. She could spend hours watching at a rabbit hole, waiting patiently for the tiny creature to come out and greet her; which it invariably did. There was always the chance that it might be a Crumple Horned Snorkack, and Luna was always prepared. That sense of never-ending wonder was one of the things that Harry loved most about his girlfriend.
As Luna approached, Harry saw that she was wearing that mysterious smile that he loved so much. She sat down in front of him, looking out on the sparkling lake, and leaned back against his chest. The boy wrapped his arms around her and sighed contentedly; the day was now perfect.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" She whispered softly as she looked out over the lake, which was gleaming gold and silver in the fading sunlight.
"Not as beautiful as you," Harry responded daringly, as he held her a little tighter.
She showed her appreciation for his remarks by snuggling closer still.
"What do we have planned for tomorrow?" Harry asked, trying to hide the excitement that he was feeling.
"Well that's up to you; what have you been up to anyway?" Luna asked as she noticed the excited tone to his voice.
"A surprise; and you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what it is," Harry said smugly.
"Keeping secrets from me now, are you?" Luna asked, as her eyes twinkled mischievously.
"Well every relationship needs a few secrets; it maintains the mystery," the boy responded with a grin.
"I can accept that," she responded happily, as she stood and helped Harry up as well. 'Patience' was Luna's middle name; and waiting a day for a surprise only made it better when the time came.
The next morning after breakfast the two teens left through the large oak doors and took the trail that led down to the Black Lake. Beneath their robes the two wore swimsuits; and Luna thought that Harry was taking her for a swim and maybe a picnic.
When they neared the water Harry asked his girlfriend to close her eyes, and then he took her hand to lead her the rest of the way. He carefully led her past the willow tree that they shared and down to the newly transfigured dock. It was at that point that Harry suddenly stopped.
"Can I open my eyes now Harry?" Luna asked hopefully.
"I'm going to kill him!" The boy growled out.
That was hardly the response that Luna expected, and her eyes opened in shock. Staring ahead she beheld a most unusual sight. There at the dock was moored the strangest boat that either teen had ever seen. It was in the shape of a large swan, with a long curved neck and graceful wings, and was painted a shockingly bright pink color. Atop the contraption was a huge red heart. It made Harry want to gag simply to look at it.
"This is what you had planned?" Luna asked with a giggle.
"Not exactly," Harry growled out. "But I can fix it fast enough," he declared as he pulled his wand and aimed it at the offending vessel. With a wave of his wand and a firm command he cast a spell to change the gaudy vessel into a simple row boat. To his great annoyance nothing happened and he could hear Luna giggling behind him.
"Having trouble, Harry?" Luna asked sweetly.
"Just a minute," the boy declared resolutely and tried the spell again. Again the swan boat sat unchanged, and seemed to be laughing at him. The realization suddenly struck him that Professor Lupin must have charmed the boat not to change.
"I'm going to kill him!" Harry repeated loudly. "He must have put a spell on the boat that prevents it from being changed."
"That sounds logical; but why?" Luna asked innocently.
"Because he's evil, that's why;" Harry declared in frustration. At the same time he resolved to be more careful around the ex-marauder in the future; he apparently still had a few tricks up his sleeve.
"No problem, I'll just transfigure my own boat," the boy declared as the brilliant idea hit him. He concentrated on a simple row boat and cast the transfiguration spell on a piece of driftwood; but again there was no result. Somehow the crafty ex-marauder must have put a magic dampening spell on the entire area.
"Can't we use this boat?" Luna asked as she smiled at him sweetly.
"I guess so," the boy grumbled, as he could think of no other alternative. He looked around to make sure that no one else was watching, and then carefully helped Luna into the boat. When they were both seated the two teens began to work the foot pedals, which drove the small craft out into the lake.
"Where are we going?" Luna asked curiously. She didn't really care, because anywhere with Harry would be wonderful.
"I thought that we might visit the Merpeople," Harry responded with a grin as Luna's eyes grew wide with surprise and delight. But at that moment the sounds of a very romantic muggle song began to blare from the heart atop their boat. Students began to gather along the shore and laughed as they pointed to the boat.
"I'm going to kill him!" Harry declared for a third time, and pumped the pedals even harder to get away from the shore.
"Ah, Harry, have you been to Tibet recently?" Luna asked him as she stared with large silver eyes.
"Err…uh…no," the boy responded in confusion; and before he could stop himself he asked the fatal question: "Why?"
"Well the bite of the Bushu Bushu causes people to repeat themselves, and you do seem to be caught in something of a verbal loop," she replied.
Harry debated with himself as to whether he wanted to know what a Bushu Bushu was, and decided against it. Sometimes it was better not knowing these things, he decided.
"Perhaps one migrated to Scotland from Tibet," Harry suggested hopefully.
Luna looked at Harry with renewed appreciation. "You might be right; I'll have to write Daddy tonight."
Harry smiled to himself as he steered their boat towards a small red buoy which was bobbing in the center of the lake; he already knew what the headline in the next issue of the Quibbler would be.
After several minutes of effort the two reached their destination and tied the boat to the small buoy. Professor Lupin had told the boy that it was anchored near the underwater village, and that the best way to reach the Merpeople was to swim down along the cable. After they removed their school robes Harry handed Luna a small bottle of bright green potion.
"It's a shame that Professor Flitwick couldn't come along; he's speaks Mermish," Harry said as he reached for the Grindylow charms.
"I speak Mermish also…well after a fashion," Luna replied modestly.
"Where did you learn that?" The boy asked in amazement.
"My mother taught me when I was little; she was quite good with languages," Luna replied.
Harry never ceased to be amazed at Luna's many unique talents
"Of course I may have a little trouble with the accent; my Mother learned it when she was a little girl in Ireland. I'm sure that the Scottish dialect is different," she explained.
"I'm sure you'll do just fine," the boy said reassuringly.
"The change is immediate, so jump into the water as soon as you drink the potion," Harry instructed as he handed her a pair of goggles.
The two smiled at each other, swallowed the potion, and slipped over the side into the water.
After they submerged Harry felt Luna's light touch on his shoulder. Turning around he saw her examining her webbed fingers with fascination, and then she reached over to touch his. He was shocked to see the gills on the side of her neck, but then he realized that he must be breathing in the same way.
"Strange feeling isn't it?" He asked without thinking, as he lightly touched the gills on the side of his neck; but the sound that resulted was like someone blowing bubbles in the water.
He saw a long string of bubbles coming from Luna's mouth and then a moment later he heard her voice in his head. "It is a little odd, but not unpleasant." The underwater communications charm that Professor Lupin had shown him seemed to work by some form of telepathy.
Harry pointed downwards to which Luna empathically nodded her head; and the two began to descend into the blue-green depths of the Black Lake. The water was crystal clear and the rocky bottom visible far below them. The buoy cable entered a dense forest of orange-brown lake weed just ahead of them, and Harry remembered that this was where the Grindylows had attacked him during the Second Task. Luna on the other hand showed no hesitation at all, and plunged eagerly into the enchanted forest, that swayed gently in the current. As Harry followed in her wake he hoped that Professor Flitwick's anti-Grindylow charm worked as promised.
The lake weed obscured the filtered sunlight from the surface, and the watery forest was dark and shadowy. Only the occasional sight of Luna's webbed feet ahead of him kept the boy from getting lost in the watery maze, and he hoped that Luna knew where she was going.
When they emerged from the strange forest the two were much deeper in the lake, and the water had turned to almost a purple color. Off to one side Harry saw two of the sickly-green Grindylows swimming rapidly away from them; and for that the boy was grateful. While small in size, Harry remembered that the creatures were quite strong with very sharp teeth.
At that moment he caught sight of a strange village on the bottom of the lake. It was made up of a dozen stone huts surrounding a larger building which must have been some kind of a communal meeting hall. While the buildings were made of stone, the roofs of the structures seemed to be made of lake weed, and the orange-brown fronds moved gently back and forth in the water
As he watched, Harry could see a number of Merpeople gathering to receive them; he also noticed that they were all carrying the sharp three-pronged tridents that he remembered from the Second Task. Professor Lupin said that the strange creatures were friendly, but with their green skin and long green hair they looked very fearsome. Harry reached into the waistband of his swim suit to make sure that his wand was where he left it; just in case.
An older male, who was apparently the leader, moved forward to greet the newcomers. Luna, with no fear at all, swam forward to meet him. He had a long green beard that seemed to be interlaced with silver, and was clearly the oldest member of the community.
The boy listened as the two exchanged words that had an almost musical sound to them, but were still totally incomprehensible to his ears. At first he doubted that the Merman understood Luna's words, but then he put his trident aside and kissed Luna on both cheeks. Harry sighed deeply in relief, and swam forward when Luna beckoned him. But when he realized that the Merman wanted to kiss him the boy pulled back in shock.
"Be nice Harry, it's their way of greeting each other," Luna said as she gently pushed him forward.
The raven-haired boy closed his eyes tightly and pretended that he was anywhere else but there. 'Even facing Voldemort has to be better than this,' he thought as he felt a wet kiss on his right cheek. He hoped that the Merman didn't notice his involuntary shudder; and Luna giggling in the background didn't help him either.
After the greeting was exchanged, and Harry lost his blush of embarrassment, Luna looked at him with a wide grin. "They're very friendly, aren't they?" She asked innocently.
"Oh yah, friendly," the boy responded sarcastically, and wiped his webbed hand over his face.
"His name is King Besselbee, and he would like to show us his village and then have us join them for their afternoon meal," Luna declared excitedly.
Harry noticed the hopeful look on Luna's face, and then looked down at his watch. The two had been below the surface for less than a half hour, and according to Professor Flitwick they still had an hour and a half left.
"I think we have time," he said, not realizing that their diet would most likely consist of raw fish and other products of the lake.
"Oh thank you Harry," she said happily, and translated their acceptance to the King. Harry noticed that the Merpeople seemed a good deal less threatening than they seemed before, and now seemed most welcoming.
After a quick tour of the village, and the great stone meeting hall, the two teens were led to a large stone table and seated in places of honor on either side of the King. The food that they were served was strange, and very wet, but they found it to be quite delicious. When the time finally came to leave both of them were sorry, and they waved fondly at their new friends as they started their return to the surface.
Climbing back aboard their small boat, Harry handed Luna a warm, fleecy towel and wrapped another around his own shoulders. As they started the 'swan-boat' towards shore Harry thought about what an incredible day it had been, and then he realized that any day with Luna was destined to be incredible.
"I'm sorry our time was so short; maybe we can visit again sometime," he said sincerely.
"Oh, didn't I mention it; King Besselbee invited us back next Saturday. It will be his one hundred and seventy-third birthday, so naturally I accepted," Luna said sweetly.
"Wonderful; I'll ask Professor Lupin for some more Gillyweed Potion," Harry promised.
"If you can get the recipe I can brew it myself; I saw a large patch of Gillyweed growing on the north side of the lake," Luna said hopefully.
"How are we going to get over there?" Harry asked without thinking.
"It's called a broom, and you ride on it," Luna answered like she was addressing an eight-year-old.
"Oh, I'll get you for that one," Harry responded with a smirk.
"Is that a promise?" His girlfriend asked hopefully.
"Absolutely," the boy declared.
But at that moment, as the boat neared the shore, the loud romantic music began to play again from the heart atop their boat. Harry could see several students starting to gather on the bank and watch them, and he knew that the two would soon be forced to run a gauntlet of embarrassing remarks from their fellow students.
"I'm going to kill Professor Lupin!" Harry said as he saw the former Marauder and Nymphadora Tonks waiting on shore with the others. Tonks had been assisting Professor Lupin teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, and everyone had noticed how friendly they had become.
"I guess it's just the Bushu Bushu bite again," Harry said sheepishly as he caught Luna looking at him curiously.
"They can be pesky, but I know a sure cure for it," Luna said as she looked over at a grinning Tonks and Professor Lupin.
Two nights later, during Dinner in the Great Hall, a very strange thing happened. Harry and Luna were sharing dinner at the Gryffindor table, as was often their custom, but they seemed to have an unusual interest in what was happening at the Head table.
"What are you two doing?" Hermione asked, unable to restrain her curiosity any longer.
Harry smirked across at his friend, trying to decide how much to tell her.
"Just watch the Teacher's Table," he declared with a smirk.
A moment later a crack of thunder was heard in the hall, drawing the attention of everyone. At the same time confetti and streamers began to shower the Teacher's Table, and a large cake began to float down from the ceiling. The elaborate wedding cake, for that was what it was, settled in front of Remus and Tonks just as the Wedding March began to play loudly. Tonks grinned as if a miracle had suddenly happened, but Remus turned so red that he looked like a ripe apple.
"Oh Remie, I accept," Tonks declared and threw her arms around the startled man. Remus, for his part, looked absolutely terrified and seemed to be looking for an avenue of escape. But Tonks would have none of it, and she simply squeezed her 'wolfie' a bit tighter. After giving Harry a dirty look that promised immediate and severe payback, Remus began to relax and enjoy the moment. After a minute he leaned over and kissed Tonks in front of everyone. Still, Harry reminded himself to be cautious for a while; you just never knew with ex-Marauders.
"Did you have anything to do with that Harry?" Hermione asked seriously, as she looked across at her friend.
"A prank on a good friend is the only sure cure for the bite of a Bushu Bushu," Luna declared knowingly.
"And it worked, I'm completely cured," the boy declared happily. "Would you like a moonlight walk down by the lake," he whispered into Luna's ear, and together the two left the hall smiling.
"What's a Bushu Bushu?" Ron asked in confusion.
"I don't think we want to know," Hermione said with a smile as she watched her two friends leave the room.