"What?" Seymour froze in place unable to remove his eyes from the photo in Luna's hand.
"This is my mother Seymour." Luna repeated locking eyes with him.
"But… why? Why would Professor Goodwin have a photo of your-"
"I'm sure Luna would very much like to know that too Seymour." Professor Goodwin's voice came from the direction of the open classroom door. All three students turned to find him leaning heavily against the door frame. He looked ragged and tired, his words were short and low as if he was short of breath. Despite this he cast a bright smile towards them before turning round to drag his large old leather trunk through the entrance. He let it drop heavily and went to sit on it before stopping short and opting for a classroom stool instead.
"Professor I don't understand." Seymour made to approach him but Luna stuck out her arm. He turned to look at her catching a cautious expression on her face. She looked as if a thousand thoughts were whizzing through her mind at once. She squinted hard at her teacher, taking a small step round the desk putting more distance between them.
Robin who was still stood next to the office door looked as if he'd been struck on the head by a stray bludger. He looked from Professor Goodwin to Seymour to Luna then back to Seymour who shrugged at him wishing one of them would finally speak and end the two boys confusion.
"This is not how I imagined this would happen." The professor admitted leaning his head on his arm.
Seymour noticed the large tears in his robes, blood seeping onto the old wooden table surface. His robe heavily stained red. A small trail of blood leading from somewhere deep in his grey locks down towards the corner of his mouth.
"What the hell is going on?" Robin asked exasperated. He looked the Professor up and down.
"Well as you can clearly see I've had a rather eventful evening so far." The Professor motioned to his robes and gingerly rose from his seat to stand. "I assume the reason you are all here tonight has something to do with the rather sorry state you find me in."
Luna didn't say anything and remained silent. Seymour coughed and answered. "We found signs of an attack down by Hagrid's cabin Sir. You said if we ever caught sight of anything to come and find you but…"
"I guessed as much. Let me tell you I never expected to run into the beast on the first full moon since the attack on Malfoy."
"So it was you down by the cabin tonight? That was your blood? We thought a student might have been attacked." Seymour felt a moment of relief fall across his chest finding that no one had been killed but a new wave of anxiety shot up his spine as he registered the slightly detached look in his teacher's eyes.
The Professor dragged the trunk further into the room and slowly closed the door behind him leaving the room silent.
"It wasn't easy but I believe we don't have to worry about anymore late night attacks." He announced rubbing the blood from his forehead with his robed arm.
"How do you know… what did you…" Seymour muttered not fully understanding the situation until he Professor Goodwin gave a knowing nod towards the trunk.
"It's in there?" Luna's voice was barely audible but she fixed her gaze on the battered trunk, its thick black chains locked tight around it.
"It is." He crouched down and wearily turned it on its side.
"Sir what are you doing?" Robin asked backing up so that he was pressed hard against the office door.
"It's quite safe." He explained taping the large padlock with his wand which sprang open with a loud snap.
But the Professor had already placed his dragon skin boot on the top of the lid and kicked it open letting its occupant roll limply onto the floor, crashing into the stool in front of it easily pushing it aside.
An unconscious and very large black dog, the same creature that had attacked them twice before lay before their eyes. Its hunched shoulders slowly and steadily moved up and down taking long draws of breath, still alive.
Luna had grasped Seymour's arm so hard that her nails actually broke the skin.
"I feel I owe you a very long overdue explanation." The Professor continued leaning back on the desk, his arms crossed. He glanced at the beast on the floor then back to Seymour and Luna.
"Explain what? There's nothing there." Robin took a step forward peering at the space in front of the trunk his eyes frantically searching the floor.
"What?" Seymour snapped his eyes onto his friend who waved his arms wildly to the classroom.
"What do you mean what? Seymour there's nothing inside!" Robin's voice rose as he glared at him, desperate for an explanation.
Professor Goodwin observed the conversation with a smile, he seemed amused by Robin's reaction and chuckled to himself.
"You're telling me you can't see the massive black dog right in front of us." Luna asked him, finally taking a tentative step forward.
"What dog? Where? Are you messing with me? You are all completely nuts." Robin grinned as if he was unsure if this all was just one massive joke. When he didn't receive a reply he stared helplessly at Professor Goodwin again. "What's going on?"
"This might actually make explaining this a lot easier." The Professor smiled calmly.
"Whatever. I'm off. This is clearly some weird game you lot are playing." Robin went red in the face and made for the door. He was a few yards away when Professor Goodwin pushed himself up off the desk and pointed his wand at Robin his expression snapping into a stern frown.
"Sit down Robin."
The spell caught Robin off guard and he shot back across the room and landed with a clatter onto one of the stools pulled out at the edge on the classroom. His eyes wide in shock, he winced in pain and made to stand but the Professor flicked his wand at him again. "Sit."
He quickly pointed his wand at the three of them and each wand in turn came flying from their robes landing neatly onto the desk in front of him. He then waved it at the classroom door and it clicked, locking itself.
Luna made to run forward but Seymour quickly caught hold of her trailing arm noting the Professor's eyes flicking back onto them.
"Now." The Professor walked around the trunk and carefully picked up all three wands, placing them inside his pocket. "How am I ever going to explain myself if you're not going to behave?" His voice sounded nervous but also excited as if he'd been waiting for this moment for ages. "I will explain. I'm no monster and if anyone deserves an explanation it's you Luna." He turned to face her his eyes softening and a warm smile snaking across his face. "For you my dear, you are the answer to everything. You're going to make us a family again." A shimmer of tears glowed in his eyes. Luna didn't answer, her mouth moved but nothing came out.
"But first." He took his wand and pointed at them again. "Let us all get a bit more comfortable shall we? I can't allow unruly students in my classroom."
It happened so fast that neither Seymour nor Luna had the chance to move. Having uttered some incantation under his breath long silver chains emerged from the end of his wand wrapping around each student like a serpent, binding their feet together and their hands behind their backs. Seymour tried to run but merely crashed to the floor hard feeling the bindings squeeze even tighter. Robin now chained to the stool watched on helplessly as Luna sunk to her knees desperately trying to force the chains around her wrists apart with no success.
"This is not where I planned to do this but… well you've forced my hand I'm afraid." The Professor's voice trembled with excitement, a worryingly maniacal tone starting to caress his words. He waved his wand again and all the spare stools and desks slid aside with ease slamming into the edge of the room leaving a large empty space in the middle with just the dog and trunk.
"HELP!" Robin cried trying to shuffle on the stool. It tipped and he came crashing to the floor, he looked up, blood running from his nose.
The Professor smiled. "No one is going to hear you Mr. Swink. I've got enough muffling charms on this room to give us all the time we are going to need."
"Time for what?" Luna asked her eyes glaring at her teacher.
"Well first off I should really thank you Luna my dear. I owe you more than you could know but you'll understand trust me. Now where to start?" He paced the room tapping the end of his chin with his wand. "I take it that by now you've probably guessed who I am?" He asked Luna motioning to the old photograph that now lay on the ground in front of Luna. He spoke as if this was just another question to be answered in class.
"…Uncle Freddy?" She asked still slightly unsure of herself.
"I always preferred that." He grinned. "I've always thought Wilfred had a better ring to it… better than Clement anyway. So droll."
"He's your uncle?" Seymour asked stopping his fruitless struggle against his chains.
"Yes indeed. The one your father Luna has told you so little about. I can understand why I guess but still… tisk tisk Xenophilius. I know Daddy doesn't like me very much but really he's put you in an awful amount of danger to not at least tell you why we fell out in the first place not to mention not explaining about your mother."
"My mother?" Luna's eyes regained their focus. She stopped moving and looked at the Professor.
He grabbed hold of a stool and dragged it into the centre of the room sitting down with his legs apart, his hands gripping the front of it.
"Does the name Augustine Fortwater ring a bell by chance?"
"That's the inventor you set us homework on at the start of the year." Robin remarked frowning.
Professor Goodwin laughed heartily and nodded. "Yes that's right Robin, although I'm surprised you of all people remembered that. Well done."
Robin glared at him.
"Well Luna it will no doubt surprise you to know that Augustine and your mother Clarabella are one and the same person."
"What?" Luna's eyes opened wide in shock.
"Its true... oh yes. My dear old sister was in her day one of the greatest magical inventors of our time. I mean a really amazing witch. One of a kind."
"I don't understand. Daddy never mention anything about-"
"Well he wouldn't have Luna my dear, considering some of the things your mother had been working on. Secrecy was her number one priority and you were a big part of that. Clarabella always kept her identity a secret, she knew that being who she was opened her family up to a great deal of danger. Voldemort was at the height of his power around the time your mother was doing some of her most famous work and she knew he would stop at nothing to recruit her into his ranks if he could. Of course when you were born she had yet another reason for her identity to remain a secret. Sure Voldemort was gone but a lot of people didn't agree with the things your mother did in pursuit of her work. She didn't want any of that to come back onto you. You became her number one priority." There was a hint of bitterness to his voice.
"I merely studied under her and tried to keep up which was almost impossible." He grinned leaning back on his stool. "Everything was going fine in the early days that was until…" his voice trailed off and his expression saddened, he gazed out the window lost in a memory from his past. "I've told you about my wife and daughter, I'm sure you remember. Well the truth is Voldemort never wanted me, sure I would have proven useful but all he really desired was to know who and where your mother was. He knew I studied under her and was hoping to use me to get to her." His grip on the stool tightened turning his knuckles white. "When I refuse to tell, to sell out my own flesh and blood he murdered my wife and daughter as punishment. I lost everything and all because I stayed loyal to Clarabella. I never thought he would go so far as to… anyway, your mother wracked with guilt vowed to do anything to help me recover." He suddenly looked guilty for a second unable to look at Luna. "I used that sense of debt to ask your mother for something unforgivable."
"You asked her to reverse the killing curse." Tears were running down Luna's eyes but she didn't blink, she kept them fixed on Professor Goodwin.
"She refused at first of course she did but I threatened to expose her to the world. She had only just found out she was expecting with you and I used that to force her to help me find a way to save my family. I'll spare you the gory details but we spent years working in secret trying give me back what I had lost. Eight long, arduous years we worked until we finally manage some degree of success."
"You did?" Seymour shuffled into a sitting position his eyes wide in disbelief. "You mean you actually manage to…"
"Well yes and no." He admitted. "The art of necromancy is frowned upon and for good reason but it allowed me to keep her body whole enough to bring her back to me just not completely."
"I don't understand." Luna muttered shaking her head in shock, her eyes shimmering.
"Well we could only bring her life back using the blood of a thestral in the ritual. The link the creature shared with the realm of the dead was enough to revive her but stuck, suspended in between this world and the next. A cruel half life. This is also the reason why only you, Seymour and few else are able to see her,"
"Hang on. Are you saying?" Seymour couldn't stop his voice shaking half in shock and half with pure outrage of the situation.
Luna and Seymour both stared horrified at the slumbering creature only yards away.
"Yes. Luna, Seymour I'd like to introduce you to my daughter."
The rain was now pounding heavily on the large windows, a repetitious pattern that punctuated the silence in the classroom.
Luna's stared pitifully at the unconscious beast in front of her. Seymour's head span trying to thread all the pieces together grasping at them like spiderwebs in the sunlight. Robin couldn't have said anything if he wanted to, the oblivious third party walking in on a tale part the way through. He shook his head and continued to search the empty floor for any sign of the daughter they were talking about.
"I told you during our first lesson that Voldemort let Fenrir Greyback play his sick games before he finally killed my daughter, I just didn't think that it would…" A glint of genuine sorrow flickered into the teacher's eyes. He hung his head and grasped his hands together, wringing them.
"How could you?" Luna on her knees had also hung her head shaking it furiously.
"I didn't think the curse would carry over. It seems even in death this blighted affliction cannot be cured. I just wanted my daughter back." He cried defensively. "It's only the Thestral blood that keeps the spell going at least until -"
"It was you?" Luna turned her head towards him her eyes narrowed. "You killed those Thestrals in the forest for their blood."
"I had no choice. I had to make it look like an animal attack to avoid suspicion."
Luna had no reply, she slumped her shoulders and cast her eyes back onto the werewolf.
"Of course your mother was devastated at the outcome. She tried everything to help but nothing worked. To keep such a thing a secret from everyone, even your father was almost impossible. I think it became too much for her in the end, to witness my daughters pain, watch her struggle. Finally she offered to help reverse the spell, end her suffering. She was a coward."
"A COWARD!" Luna spat fighting against her restrictions.
"She just couldn't see it though to the end. She cared more about you and her own selfish needs than to keep trying. She came to me and said that what we were doing was wrong, unkind and that she would end it herself if I couldn't bare to do it myself. She didn't need my help of course, she'd already had her mind made up. She gave up on me and my daughter and she was going to finish it if I liked it or not." His voice fell to a low whisper as he gripped his hands tighter. "And I couldn't have that."
"Professor?" Seymour cast a very cautious glance at Luna before continuing half knowing the answer but not wanting Luna to have to face it. "Luna's mother, her death… did you-"
Professor Goodwin ran his hands through his straggly hair. "She wasn't going to help me anymore. She was going to take her away from me. I had my daughter back and her mother -" he spat the words and motioned towards Luna, "was going to take her away from me all over again. No one is going to take my family away from me again, ever!"
"YOU KILLED MY MOTHER!" Luna screamed through stifled tears, she tried to get up only to come crashing back to the floor. She rolled over to face the ceiling.
"Luna." Seymour tried to move over towards her but failed.
Professor Goodwin got up off the stool and walked over to her gently helping her back to her knees. Luna fought against him but he moved away. "I'm sorry Luna but I had no choice. I worked with her day and night so it was easy enough to do. I made it look like a simple accident, a spell gone wrong. I made sure it was quick and painless. I owed her that much."
"You're the one who's a coward." She sobbed. "Couldn't face the truth and decided to keep living in denial."
Professor Goodwin smiled shaking his head. "If you'd asked me that a few months ago I'd have been inclined to agree with you but knowing what I know now…" he pulled out his wand and wiped his eyes with his robes. "Speaking of which I suppose we'd better make a start before it gets too late." He walked over to Luna and dragged her into the middle of the room. She screamed and both Robin and Seymour shouted at him to stop, fighting against their chains.
"Turns out your mother was not so good willed after all." He let her go and once again tried to help her into a more comfortable sitting position. She moved away violently falling to the floor. He shrugged his shoulders and moved back to his daughter. "Since your mothers death I have worked tirelessly to restore my daughter back to a true life. One where she can grow old, have a family of her own but all I've ever had to help was this." He held up his small journal to them the letters "C.G" flashing in the light. "Clarabella's lousy book. She's had this ever since she was a teenager. Slowly adding to it over time. Sure it's had it uses. It definitely provided me with a means of income, living off your mothers past glories has allowed me to continue searching for a cure."
"You're a fraud." Seymour growled his hatred growing with each word.
"Maybe so but it was of little use to me in helping my daughter. Having never managed to complete her work on reversing the killing curse… or so I thought."
The air inside the room ran cold, all three students held their breath in shock as Professor Goodwin eyed them triumphantly.
"Turns out Clarabella didn't care about my daughter's wellbeing as much as I thought but I only learned the full truth of the matter after having paid a visit to your house Luna dear over the holiday. Something your mother wrote in the journal made me think that there might be more to her reluctance to help me than just her good nature. So I took the liberty of searching her old study during your very impressive party on New Years Eve."
"That was you I heard arguing with Luna's father?" Seymour asked finally being able to put a name to the voice he heard.
"You witnessed that did you. Luna your father has never liked me, never trusted me and for good reason. He'd never dream I would do anything to hurt you of course, he just thinks I was a bad influence on his wife. He in part blames me for her death, thinks I pushed her too hard, made her cross boundaries that should have been left well enough alone. Imagine if he knew the truth hey?"
"He never spoke about you, just told me you up and left after my mother's death… after you killed her." Luna added the bitterness in her voice bubbling over.
"Well I pretty much did just that, no need for me to stick around. Anyway fortunate enough for me I managed to find the last piece of the puzzle in her study. Not knowing what I was planning she had no time to conceal the notes from someone who knew what they were looking for. It was simple enough really. All it takes to complete the reversal is one thing. Blood."
"That's it." Robin croaked finally looking up from the floor. "But you could get that anywhere."
"Not just any blood. Blood of the kin. I only came to Hogwarts in the hope of learning more, finding some secret magic hidden in its many books and tomes. Never did I dream that the answer to all my problems would be residing here under the very same roof."
"Me?" Luna tried to shuffle backwards as she stared back at her Uncle.
"Yes my dear. You. I mean your mother would have done just nicely but well…" his lips curled into a deranged grin. "It's a bit late for that now isn't it?"
He shot across the room grabbing her by her feet and dragging her back into the centre of the room. Seymour forced himself to his feet but the Professor merely flicked his wand and Seymour went sailing back slamming into the desks behind. His vision span, Luna's scream ringing out in the air.
"Calm down. I just need a small offering. It's the bit that comes after you'll need to worry about."
The Professor took out a small knife from his robe pocket, the lamplight dancing off its silver blade. He waved his wand over Luna freeing one of her arms from the chains. He held it out, she writhed against his grip but he only held tighter brandishing the blade and bringing it down across her forearm.
Luna's blood curdling scream sent a terror like no other into Seymour's heart. A long thin red line appeared on her skin as the blood dropped onto the stone floor staining it red.
"Now." Professor Goodwin held the book to the light and hurriedly looked over its contents. "It's been a few years since I last did this so you'll forgive me if I'm a little rusty." He laughed not caring that her eyes shone with a fear unlike no other. He ran a finger over the cut on her arm and then used his finger to mark a shakily drawn symbol on her forehead. It looked vaguely similar to a symbol Seymour had seen somewhere before in a book he'd long forgotten the name of. Some sort of triangle inside a circle with a line through the middle. The Professor then made his way over to his daughter raising her snout with his hand and marking her the same way. He then got up quickly rushing over towards the blackboard and picking up a piece of chalk.
"Please stop." Seymour pleaded. He felt like he was suffocating as he fought in vain to move but being unable to.
"It's too late. She owes me this." He snarled pointing to Luna. "She needs to finish what her mother started." He used the chalk to draw a large circle around girl and beast marking it with various symbols Seymour could make head nor tail of. "That should be enough to contain the spell." He muttered to himself. He wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead, a nervous look starting to leak into his features.
"You don't have to do this." Robin couldn't takes his eyes from the trickle of blood running down the length of Luna's arm.
"Quiet." The Professor snapped going over the book again, blinking hard as if trying to focus. He turned to face the centre of the circle his boots touching the edge of the chalk outline. He raised his wand high into the air and began chanting a spell. The words were foreign to Seymour's ear but he could feel their effect instantly. The air around them became thick, a strange vibration pulsed through it. A new wave of dread floated through Seymour's body. He threw himself forward catching his forehead on the corner of an overturned stool.
"Luna look at me!" He screamed. She lifted her head from her chest staring back into his eyes, the fear insurmountable. Her lip trembled slightly but she remained resolute to not lose control. "Keep looking at me, don't listen to him."
She smiled weakly for a second and then it happened. Her eyes closed momentarily flicking back into her head then she let a scream erupt from her lips with the force of a thunder clap. Pain twisted her face into a picture of pure agony.
Professor Goodwin continued his spell taking momentary glances at the book in his hand. The air that occupied the circle began to wave hazily then a strange mist began to appear as if from nowhere. It swirled and danced slowly before enveloping Luna and the black dog. It wrapped around them as if a blanket, Luna screaming all the while. The Professor's words grew louder and louder and then it moved. The large black dog quivered slightly before pushing itself up onto its front paws, it collapsed back to the floor and tried again. It shook its large head and started howling. Be it in pain or anger Seymour couldn't tell but the joint chorus of the howling, screaming and chanting was horrific, building up into an ear splitting crescendo that volleyed off the windows and rattled the old walls.
Then a wave of invisible force blasted from the circle washing across the room and then everything stopped. Luna landed back to the floor with a thud. The chains had vanished but it appeared they were no longer required as there was no movement in her body to restrain. Professor Goodwin sunk to his knees panting heavily, his hands on the ground in front of him.
He lifted his head and looked over towards the place where the werewolf lay only it was no longer a wolf it was replaced by the naked body of a girl curled up in the fetal position. Her long main of black hair covering her shoulders.
"Marie!" Professor Goodwin shot to his feet and tore his cloak from his shoulders draping it over his daughter. "Where did you leave your uniform?" He whispered in a maternal tone. "You know how long it took me to place that charm on them."
"Seymour." Robin had rocked back onto the wall behind, not being able to wrench his eyes away from the scene in front of him. "Seymour I can see her. I can see her Seymour!" He kept repeating himself unable to mask the terror in his voice. "Does that mean…"
But Seymour wasn't listening, he didn't care. He lay there unable to move his eyes locked firmly onto Luna the whole time. He wanted to scream but the fear paralysed his vocal chords. "Luna." He forced her name out in a half sob. "Luna please." He could feel his arms shake. "Luna!" He cried out angrily. This was not happening. Luna had not just died in front of him while he just lay there like a slug unable to do anything to help her.
"Seymour I…" Robin bowed his head into his chest shaking his head.
Then she moved. A slow roll onto her side. Her eyes falling onto his face. They were half closed and she was barely conscious but somehow she still managed a small half smile.
Professor Goodwin sat his daughter up and held her close. "Don't worry Marie my dear. It won't be long now. Soon it will all be over." He gazed over at Luna sprawled on the floor. Her arms and legs limp she rolled onto her back taking long drawn out breaths towards the ceiling. "She's fighting it." He noted with a sad smile. "But it won't be long."
"Dad?" The voice was barely audible but Marie lifted her head to look at her father. Then she gazed down at herself wrapped in his cloak. She pushed her arm out and studied her hand before casting her gaze to the full moon hanging high outside.
"Marie." He held his daughter tight in his arms. "It's worked dear. It's really worked."
"I'm so sorry I ran away." The tears streamed down her pale face, she wrapped her thin arms around her father's neck. "I'm so sorry." She sobbed.
"All is forgiven my dear. Where have you been all this time?" He asked with a chuckle, patting the back of her head.
"The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. I stayed there at night when the moon wasn't full. No one could see me I promise."
Suddenly the poltergeist Madam Rosmerta was talking about with Hagrid made a lot more sense to Seymour.
"Clever girl. But you don't have to worry about that anymore."
"Does that mean I don't have to go back in there?" She glanced fearfully back at the trunk behind her. "I won't be alone anymore?"
"Never again. Everything is going to be ok now." He held his child's face with his hand unable to contain his relief.
"What about Luna then?" Seymour barked at him. He pushed himself up to his knees. "She cared for Marie more than anyone. She looked out for her and made sure she was never alone when no one else would. It's ok if she just dies then!" His voice was rising. He wanted to reach over to Luna who's face had grown even paler than before. Her breathing was unnaturally slow. The strange mist still floating around her like vultures circling their prey.
"Luna?" Marie pushed herself up to look over her father's shoulder. She caught sight of Luna and fell back covering her hand with her mouth. "Luna. What's happened to Luna?"
"Only what was required Marie. She wants to save you."
"Your father did this Marie!" Seymour shouted.
"He did this to Luna. For you. So that he could bring you back."
Marie gave a small cry and moved away from her father. "Dad what have you done?"
"Don't blame me. Blame her mother, your aunt. She knew what was required to bring you back to me and she didn't tell me just to protect her own family. She wanted you gone so that I would never find out."
Marie shook her head as a fresh wave of tears rolled down her cheeks. "Luna's my friend dad."
"I know dear. How did you think I knew where you'd be today. If I hadn't overheard her mentioning it during our lesson I would never have found you." He smiled softly reaching his hand out to her. "But you have to come first my dear. Always."
She snatched her hand away and held it trembling to her throat. "I don't want this. I never wanted this."
"It's not about what you want it's about what you need. You couldn't go on forever like this. A half life never growing old, never being seen, howling at the full moon. Is that what you want?" He raised his voice a little as she continued to back away.
"I won't let you hurt Luna or Seymour." She replied, for the first time looking at her father for who he really was. "You killed Luna's mother? How could you do that to your own sister after all that we've been through?"
"Marie please calm down. You'll understand if you just let me explain. STOP!" He yelled as her feet reached the edge of the circle. "The spell isn't finished yet, you need to stay right where you are."
She turned around and looked at the outline then back at her father, pulling the cloak tighter around her small body. "I'm tired dad. Tired of hiding, tired of all this. So what next? You kill Luna. Then what? Back on the run, hiding all over again? Aren't you tired too dad?"
"You're young, you just don't understand."
"I've been young forever. I know when something isn't right and THIS isn't right. I love Luna, she's been like a sister to me."
"Please Marie just come back over to daddy. It'll all be fine, you'll see." His voice trembled, his whole body shook.
"I'm sorry dad." And without another word Marie stepped back out of the circle. It was as if a bucket of water had dropped onto the entire room washing away the heavy atmosphere that had dominated the previous proceedings.
"No!" Professor Goodwin howled in frustration.
Marie screamed, the moonlight from outside bathing her white shoulders in a haunting glow then her scream grew lower, her hair extending down her back to the floor. The robe dropped as her arms and legs bent at odd angles cracking and creaking like old floorboards. Her face pushing painfully forward her teeth growing in size. The hair was sprouting everywhere as she dropped onto all fours her nails clawing at the stone floor. She howled in pain as the transformation came to its conclusion and she reverted back to a werewolf, her black coat glistening like oil.
"Marie." Professor Goodwin backed up and tripped over Luna who had started to push herself onto her knees gasping for air.
The werewolf snarled and snapped its jaws together, long strands of saliva wetting the floor. It bounded forward, an overwhelming presence in the small space. Professor Goodwin scrambled to his feet searching desperately for his wand which had rolled away when he fell but it was too late. The creature leapt on top of him, pining his shoulders to the cold floor. A blood letting scream escaped the teacher's lips before Marie sank her long sharp teeth deep into her father's grisly neck in an awful mixture of swirling saliva and churning innards.
Luna stumbled away from the scene falling over her own feet as she made for the desk near the door. She was a yard away when the beast turned to face her retreating figure. It narrowed its hungry eyes on her and pushed hard off the floor as it sprang towards her.
She reached out her hand towards the wand that had landed just in front of the desk but it would be too late. Her final attempt to save herself was inches too short. Teeth slick with blood baying for hers.
Then suddenly the door to the classroom exploded open with the force of a battering ram followed by Professor Snape holding his wand high, glaring into the room. The force of the spell had knocked Marie off balance but she rounded the desk to make another approach towards Luna. Snape didn't blink, he raised his wand again and blasted Marie with a powerful stunning spell.
She crashed into the desk and lay motionless on the stone floor.
Now that Professor Goodwin was dead the spell holding the boys captive released itself and Seymour scrambled over on his hands and knees towards the man's mangled corpse. He reached into his robe pocket and yanked out three wands trying not to look into the Professor's face, what was left of it.
"You three out now."
Robin and Seymour dashed straight to the door but Luna remained rooted to the spot.
"No. Something's wrong." She turned to face them all, a concerned look in her eyes. Then she turned and walked over towards Marie.
"Luna stop!" Robin yelled but Seymour placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. He quickly joined Luna who was now only a few feet away from Marie. She was violently vomiting up thick black liquid, a steady flow seeping from her eyes and snout. Her body was shrinking back, her porcelain skin coming back into view, her thin arms and legs forming from the claws they had once been.
"What's happening?" Luna asked no one in particular kneeling down and holding Marie in her arms as she continued to cough up more and more foul smelling blood.
"Sir?" Seymour cast a pleading glance at Snape before picking up the robe and placing it once again over Marie.
Snape cast his eyes over the chalk circle and symbols then noted the faded mark on Luna's forehead. He picked up the blood splattered book from the floor and looked over it. A passive indifference on his face. He stared at Marie and surveyed the carnage around him.
"I don't know what this spell is." He dipped a finger into the black liquid on the floor and studied it. "But it looks as if it is backfiring in some way. Her body is rejecting whatever it was that was keeping her alive."
"Can't you do something?" Robin asked from the doorway.
"No I can't." He stared at the girls on the floor and shook his head. "She doesn't have long." While it wasn't anything near to what one could call sympathetic Snape's usual cold hard tone wasn't present in these last few words.
Luna looked down at Marie who opened her eyes. A trickle of blood rolling down her mouth and neck. Luna took her sleeve and wiped it away.
"You're ok?" Marie's voice was beyond frail and barely held any sound at all.
"Always. You know me." Luna smiled letting a solitary tear roll down her chin.
"Dad is he…"
"He's fine. He's being taken to Dumbledore right now. He's in trouble but I'm sure they'll work something out." Luna forced the tremble in her voice back into her chest and held Marie's small hand in hers.
"But I can remember…"
"No, no you just lost yourself for a moment. It took all four of us to calm you down and Professor Snape arrived just in time to help."
"Thank goodness. I'm sorry Luna."
"So you should be." Luna chuckled. "Fancy having this amazing curse and not telling me about it."
Even Seymour laughed at this and knelt down next to Luna. He placed his hand on Luna's trembling arm and gave it a soft squeeze. "I know. First Lupin now you Marie. Maybe it's the start of a trend."
Marie smiled weakly her head lolling to one side. "Luna. Your mother."
"You've got nothing to do with that." Luna replied not taking her eyes from hers.
They sat silent for a moment before Marie turned to face Luna again. "Do you think we can go back to Hagrid's when I get better?"
Seymour looked down at Marie's arms and legs. They were beginning to shrivel up slowly turning a darker shade, the skin cracking and peeling.
"Of course we can. There's still so much we do. Any time you want ok?" Luna was losing it, she remained focused but Seymour could feel her arms begin to shake.
"Thanks." Marie smiled but her eyes didn't look occupied anymore they stared off empty into the sky outside the window. A final tiny breath leaving her body before her face began to take the same form as the rest of her body, slowly decaying. Seymour turned Luna's head and held her into his chest. "Keep hold of her tight." He whispered though his tears. She buried her face and finally let the pure wave of grief wash over her. She sobbed hard her cries echoing around the classroom and floating out the door and down the empty cold corridors.
"Are you sure you won't come?" Alice asked once more peering into Seymour's half awake face, his hair messily pushed back for breakfast.
"Yeah. I'm not really in the mood for Hogsmeade today Alice. I fancy a few hours spent just wandering around the castle."
"I understand." She patted his arm from across the table. "Do you want us to bring back anything? Lloyd can carry it."
Lloyd stared up from his Alchemy textbook, his eyes wide, his toast dangling from his mouth. He frowned, before shrugging and going back to his studies.
"Don't pressure the boy Alice. Ginny said she'd join us today and five is just too many to fill a table at the Three Broomsticks." Robin patted Seymour on the shoulder.
Seymour let a grin slide onto his face. "Well we wouldn't want that would we?"
"Forget about that anyway." Robin announced tossing his last piece of unfinished crumpet onto his plate. It had happened, he was finally full. "When are you two finally getting together?" He motioned towards Alice and Lloyd from across the table. "Think of all the time you've wasted so far, all the snogging in quiet corners of the castle you could have been doing whilst the rest of the school was in the village."
Alice spat out her juice and flashed beetroot, shooting Robin a dangerous look. Lloyd on the other hand merely smiled carefree at Alice leaning his head on his hand.
"What we get up to is none of your business!" She snapped turning to look at Lloyd. "What are you grinning at?"
"So you're not denying you get up to stuff then?" Robin grinned nudging Seymour in the side. "So whilst me and Seymour are being tied up and threatened by our mad Professor you two are in the library making up for lost time. You scoundrels!"
"Robin!" Alice exclaimed shooting a tentative glance towards Seymour but she shouldn't have worried as Seymour was too busy laughing at them.
He needed this more than ever. It had only been a few days since the night inside his Defence classroom and he had thought of little else since. Luna had spent a few nights in the hospital wing but he hadn't been allowed in to see her. Madam Pomfrey had argued that the spell placed on her had been much too strong and would require a proper rest with no visitors for her to fully recover.
"Nonsense." Robin had pointed out as Dumbledore had already been in to see her the morning after it had all happened.
"Sorry Alice." Seymour held his hands up in defence not being able to hide his smile.
"It's all you boys ever think about. Like wild animals." She moaned but let a begrudging smirk touch her lips.
"I know and Lloyd is the wildest of us all. You tiger you." Robin gave Lloyd a thumbs up who tried desperately to hide his laugh.
"Oh shut up." Alice got up from the table. "You two coming then. Not that I care. You can do whatever you like." She sniped placing her attention on Lloyd.
"Now look what you've done Robin. She'll be a nightmare all day now." Lloyd grumbled getting up too and following solemnly after her.
"He's a lucky man that Lloyd." Robin announced sarcastically. "Sure you won't come?" Robin remained seated and again placed his hand on Seymour's shoulder, softer this time.
"Yeah. Thanks though."
Robin didn't make to move and bit his lower lip as if trying to figure out how to broach the subject. "Seymour I know we are cool now and everything but I never really apologised properly for how I acted."
"It's fine." Seymour replied giving him a light punch on the arm. "You came though when it mattered."
"I didn't do anything. Just laid there whilst…"
"So did I." Seymour rolled his eyes at him.
"True. I was sort of hoping you'd leap into action and save the day not just lay there like a beached whale."
Seymour chuckled shooting him a disgruntled look.
"No I really need to say this. I was beyond horrible with Luna and I know it."
"You're always horrible." Seymour quipped.
"I know right?" Robin smiled proudly. "Truth is I've always had a problem with… oh I don't know. Not wanting to be laughed at, stared at, thought of as a…"
"That'll do. You know my parents are Muggles. I spent the first half of my childhood in a regular Muggle school before I came of age to attend Hogwarts. They didn't even know I was magical until they received the letter. All these odd things that kept happening to me without me doing anything. Well let's just say it made me a bit of a target when I was at school. It's not an excuse Seymour for the way I treated Luna I just don't think I ever really dealt with it properly that's all. I'm really sorry. I'll apologise to Luna properly when she gets out I swear I just -"
"Thanks Rob." Seymour placed his hand roughly on his friend's shoulder. "You are terribly sweet."
"Oh get lost." Robin rolled his eyes and moved himself away from him. "Here's me trying to be all honest and heartfelt and all I get back is this." He got up from the table laughing. He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked backwards. "So we good then?"
"Even if I steal Luna away from you?"
"Oh then no. Definitely not."
They both laughed.
After everyone had left for Hogsmeade Seymour found himself heading from his common room towards the castle grounds. He stepped into the courtyard and braced himself against the chilly gust of wind that whipped up around him. He made his way across the large empty space and stopped when a voice called to him from far off in the corner overlooking the mountains on the other side of the horizon.
"Not going to Hogsmeade then?"
He turned around to find Luna sat on her regular branch in the largest tree in the yard. He smiled broadly and wandered over with his hands in his pockets. He gazed up at her, she grinned down at him wrapped in her school cloak, her shoes as usual sat neatly at the base of the tree.
"They let you out this morning I take it?" He asked to which she nodded. "And you're already climbing trees?"
"Of course." She pushed her back from the trunk and made to get down. "Hang on I'll just be a second. Unless you want to catch me again." She added with a wink.
"No wait. I'm coming up." Seymour unsteadily placed his foot onto a gnarled knot in the tree and hoisted himself up clinging on for dear life. How she made this journey up on so many occasions was beyond him as he dodged quick to avoid poking himself in the eye with a stray branch. "Er Luna… help." He was within touching distance of the branch she rested on but could feel his footing give way as he hung from the base of the branch desperately trying to claw his way up. She chuckled and reached down her hand to help him manage the last pull upwards.
It was much colder up here as he nested down next to her, rubbing his hands against the cold. She leaned into him breathing slowly.
"How are you?" He asked taking his arm and placing it around her shoulders.
"About the same as before." She answered letting her head fall onto his chest.
They sat there for a while watching the giant squid rise up from the lake its large tentacles resting on the lake's surface. A flock of large colourful birds rushed out of the trees in the forest no doubt disturbed by some creature. It really was quite the view. The clouds were grey but the sun gave them a silver glow around the edges. The sound of laughter could be heard from the late departees for Hogsmeade making their way down the path to the village.
"She was alone for so long." Luna said finally letting out a long draw of breath. Seymour rubbed the base of her neck. "She liked it here though." She added looking out towards the forest and Hagrid's cabin.
"I think you had a lot to do with that."
"To think she had to stay locked up in that horrible trunk during the full moon. Having to wake up in the morning to nothing but darkness." She looked up at Seymour her eyebrows knitted. "How could he do that to her?"
"I suppose he felt it better than having her kill someone. Imagine having to deal with that along with everything else that was going on in her life. Spare her another burden I guess."
"But how could mom even go along with something like that in the first place. I don't understand."
"She felt guilty Luna. He was her brother. All she wanted was to bring his daughter back to him." He sighed casting his gaze to the ground below them deep in thought. "Why didn't he try and bring his wife back? Why just Marie?"
"I spoke to Dumbledore about that. He thinks he always planned on doing so but after what happened to Marie he felt too ashamed. Didn't want Florence to see what had become of her daughter and what had become of her husband too for that matter. He thinks Professor Goodwin had already given up on ever truly bringing Marie back, he saw Hogwarts as his last chance to learn something. He spent most the year trying to find her instead."
"She must have finally had enough. Who could blame her."
"Whatever spell was keeping her alive vanished when her father died… but surely we could have done something?" She looked up again her eyes glimmering slightly.
"Luna you know we couldn't help. Saving Marie would have killed you and do you really think Marie could have lived with herself after that? She was a good person, her father was too once. He just couldn't forgive himself after what had happened. Guilt can eat away at even the most sane. We're just lucky we still had the charm Snape placed on us and he came along when he did."
"Do you think we still have the trace on us." Luna asked.
"I don't think he'd care anymore anyway. I mean we were telling the truth right?"
She pushed herself closer to him bringing her knees up to her chest. She leaned to the side and kissed him, a long moment just letting their lips rest together taking in each other's scent.
"It's pretty amazing that your mum was this renowned inventor and all this time nobody knew."
"It is isn't it." She remarked with a grin. "She wasn't quite the person I thought she was but she was still mum to me." The wind blew her long locks away from her eyes, they were the same as ever but the glow of wonder and excitement had been extinguished for now, a sorrowful longing in its place.
"Are you going to be ok?" He asked her softly.
"I'm always ok. I have to be. I can't just fall apart. It's just me and dad after all… and you."
He smiled and kissed her again.
"In it for the long haul are we?"
"I give us a week." She teased.