Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related concepts are owned by someone who isn't me. I will never seek or accept money for the circulation of this work.
Summary: Harry takes a chance in hope of saving Sirius from the Veil, assisted by Luna and some stolen Time Turners. Working with Luna comes with its own complications, though.
Harry Potter stood, numb in the midst of the chaos in the Atrium of the Ministry. He was the center of attention of no less than a trio of the most influential people in magical society, plus numerous other busybody hangers-on like Percy Weasley, but all he wanted was a moment's quiet. Of course, there was a good reason for all the shouting; Voldemort had left the building. Still, if they could just give him a moment to concentrate...
In his thoughts, he could hear Snape's snide criticism already; 'If you had developed even the barest amount of emotional control that one might expect of a dog, you might have learned Occlumency and now would be able to properly ignore this noise.'
He focused on that bitter voice until it was all he could hear. Soon, only regrets and the echoed sentiments of one arsehat of a teacher were all that was left in his head. 'Now that you're listening to only that which matters, how would you use this detachment?' Snape's voice sneered.
'If I could do it all over, I could save them. Sirius, Hermione, Ron, Neville... I could spare so many from suffering from my mistakes.'
'Really? You think SO much of your talent, do you? It was your pathetic efforts that led you to this juncture in the first-'
Harry spared a moment to have his mind-Snape ravaged by a pack of jackals, and then focused his attention outside of his head.
He looked up to see the Headmaster offering him a lump of statue. The gesture seemed to indicate that it was an escape route. The Minister and the Director for the DMLE looked at the lump of metal in surprise, clearly about to protest.
Harry turned and looked past the mob of self-important Ministry types, seeing members of the Order of the Phoenix aiding his friends out of the lifts into the atrium. Most of them were hobbling along under their own power, though Ron's hands and mouth were bound up. Hermione was being levitated above the rest by Remus, no doubt petrified to prevent her wound from worsening. Her wound, which she received defending him, might yet kill her.
He looked back at Professor Dumbledore one more time, and then dove through the crowd, forcing his way towards the lifts. Once he passed beyond the protesting bumblers, he broke into a run.
Ignoring the muffled sound of the Headmaster calling after him, he sprinted to the nearest open elevator car, grabbing Luna by the hand and dragging her in with him. The blond girl followed him without resistance, though her limping slowed their exit just slightly.
Luna hopped to stand facing Harry and said, "Hello, Harry Potter. Are we going on another adventure so soon? I wouldn't mind, but I am ever so hungry now that this first one has concluded."
His gaze snapped to her face, though she didn't flinch in the least. "It's not over yet," Harry growled out. The gate clanged shut and the lift car lurched away and then down.
As he paced in the lift, Harry considered his next steps. "Damnitall. I wish I had my cloak!"
Luna looked at him oddly and asked, "Are you feeling cold, Harry?"
"No, I mean I own an Invisibility Cloak, but it's back in my trunk at school."
"That certainly sounds like something useful. You should have brought that along."
Harry grumped, "Yes, Luna. I realize that now."
Luna continued on, taking no notice of Harry's annoyance. "It certainly would take much too long for us to Floo to Hogsmeade, sneak into the castle, retrieve your Cloak, sneak back out, take another Floo trip and return here, particularly with High Inquisitor Umbridge's controls still in place. Perhaps it would be simpler to use a Notice-Me-Not charm."
Harry stopped pacing and turned to ask, "Do you know how to cast that?"
"Of course. I use it all the time."
"Can you cast it on me?"
Luna looked at him askance. "No."
That caught Harry short. "Umm... why not?"
She explained, "Because it's a Notice-Me-Not charm, Harry, not a Notice-You-Not charm."
He sighed (and heard in his head a similar grumble in Snape's tone). "Well, perhaps you could teach it to me."
Luna nodded happily. "That makes much more sense."
Harry heard the Snape commentator clearing his throat and immediately thought, 'Don't you start! She may be dotty but she's a Ravenclaw.' He heard nothing for a moment, then his slimy internal critic mumbled, 'Whatever lets you sleep at night, Potter. You go on believing that.'
Refocused and calmed, Harry paid very strict attention to Luna's instruction for the rest of the elevator ride.
"...have to imagine yourself as not being worth noticing. Normally I find it difficult to rein back my more extroverted tendencies, but I've learned to hold my tongue. Talking is generally a very noticeable activity, so you really must embrace the belief that you don't need to speak up, no matter how wrong other people are. While the incantation, 'Animadverto mihi non' is easy enough to learn, actually speaking the spell is counter-productive." Luna looked around when she realized that her audience had disappeared. "Harry? Where did you go?"
Harry cleared his throat, cancelling the effect of the spell. Luna turned around and smiled at him for his success. "Well done! You learned that very quickly."
Harry remarked, "I may be famous now, but I've had years of practice with being ignored. Let's go." The lift had just slid to a halt and Harry pulled open the gate. He moved down the corridor in a stride with Luna speed-walking to catch up.
She said, "Y'know, if you don't want to be treated as popular, we could spend more time together. I'm sure that would keep most of the shallow people from bothering you."
The critic oozed sarcasm with, 'She's a Ravenclaw, Potter. You should listen to her.'
Harry sent another pack of jackals to quiet the Snape-Imp. The sound of barking and gnashing made him smile.
Luna smiled back before disappearing into the background with a gesture from her wand.
Harry led them back through the damaged corridors and past the spinning entrance room of the Department of Mysteries. Veering off on half-remembered pathways from the earlier fight, Harry brought them around a few false routes and evaded a few Auror investigators until they found their way to the Time room. At least, he assumed Luna was still following him. He couldn't be sure as she was very Not-Noticeable.
In his excitement, Harry burst in like a man with a purpose. The two Aurors in the room stood up and aimed their wands in reaction to Harry's arrival, causing him to stop short.
The first one said, "You're not meant to be in here. This is a crime scheme."
The other winced and corrected, "Crime SCENE, you dolt."
As Harry prepared to offer an excuse to the now-embarrassed Auror closer to him, he saw a red light strike the Auror in the jaw and then glance off at an angle which then tagged the second Auror as well. Both adults fell to the ground, unconscious.
Harry turned around to see Luna nervously stepping into the room, her wand still held high. "Y-you seemed to be having trouble with them."
"Yes, I was. That was brilliant, by the way."
Luna grinned with pride. "Thank you. You're a very good teacher, Harry."
Harry smiled inwardly, and then stepped forward to encourage Luna into the room. With a few wand waves and a repeated 'Colloportus', he closed and sealed both doors and then turned to face his friend.
"Luna, I want to fix this. Everything went wrong, and I have to fix it. Now, these are..." he looked despondently at the smashed remains of a glass cabinet. "...or rather 'were' Time Turners. Hermione used one for the entire year in our third year, and while she said that you couldn't change what has happened, we eventually did just that. I want to do that again, here. If we can find one that works, will you help me?"
Luna's attentive and protuberant eyes widened even further. She whispered, "Harry, why would you ask for my help with this?"
Luna's unusual look of fear caught Harry by surprise. "I... I thought... you're smart, see, and I need help in how to make the changes that will save everyone, but in a way that doesn't conflict with what we know."
She shook her head emphatically, replying, "Harry, you can't change what has happened. Whatever you thought you did before was just... confusion."
"No! It can be done! I know it! Would you help me?"
Luna's face bunched up in a frown and tears started to issue from her eyes. "Of all the things to ask of me, why does it have to be this?"
"Because that's what I need to have happen. I'm sorry- whatever makes you afraid of this, I need YOU to help me."
"Because normally I'd ask Hermione, but she's already injured, probably dying, and that's one of the three things I need to change!"
Luna calmed her sniffles. "What... what are the other two?"
"I want to save Sirius from that Veil, and I want to hear the prophecy that broke."
She looked at him with a doubtful curiosity. "You don't want to... I dunno, kill Mrs. Lestrange or Mr. Mort?"
Harry couldn't help but smile. "Mr. Mort? As in, Mr. Vole D. Mort?"
Luna held back a giggle. "Yes. Father says, 'If you can't say anything nice, politeness provides a fair cover.'"
Harry squeezed her arm in reassurance. "No, Luna. I don't want to kill them. I don't want to kill anybody. I just want to make it right. I want to make it so that I don't need to kill them."
Luna frowned. "You truly believe we can and should meddle with time?"
"I... I have to, Luna. You don't know how important this is to me."
She sighed heavily. "I think I do. May I make a suggestion?"
"Well, sure! That's why I wanted you to come along."
"Let's take one Turner back, and then when we get to before, we'll replace all the other ones but the one that we took with fake Turners."
"In case we need more time. Better for us to have extra time than anyone else, I would think."
Luna smiled. "Oh, good. You noticed."
They shuffled through the wreckage for several tense minutes until Harry found an unbroken Turner that had landed behind some books on a nearby reference shelf. Going from his memories of Hermione's use of the device two years previous, he wrapped the gold chain around them, twisted the center back six times and let fly.
He had to pull Luna back from reaching out to touch one of the many people passing near them during their accelerated reverse progression. When they stopped, both students caught their breath and froze. They were standing directly behind a Ministry worker in a white lab-robe working at the nearby table. Given his red hair and glasses, Harry thought that he may have discovered a lost Weasley.
The Ministry man bellowed out, "Mr. Peabody! It's like this for the whole batch! This is the only Turner I can make work today. I mean, I've checked fourteen different devices..."
While the man continued to whinge towards the far doorway, Luna stalked forward a step. Harry looked at her in a panic, but dared not make a sound. She reached beneath the sitting man's elbow and slipped the device he had been using from his tabletop. The attached gold chain trailed behind the movement, threatening to drop into his lap and alert him to their presence.
Another, older Ministry man entered the room from the open door, concentrating on an unfurled scroll. The younger man slapped the table in frustration. "Did you hear me, sir?"
He looked up from his scroll and drawled, "Who's that with you, Sherman?"
Luna had looped the chain of the new device around them and just as the two Ministry men were turning to look at them, she rolled its center and then let it loose to initiate the time-retracting effect once more.
The new retrotemporal travel took nearly as long to complete as the first run, and partway through they were engulfed by darkness when red-headed Sherman backed out of the room.
Harry felt the lurch of the Turner coming to a halt, and lifted his wand. A whispered 'Lumos' and they could see that they were alone in the Time Room.
Luna hopped slightly with delight. "Excellent. We should have plenty of time to listen to your prophecy, now that it's early morning. Perhaps we could have some breakfast as well."
Harry's stomach responded positively before he could voice a reply. He changed his intended response to, "Let's clean out the Turners and get the prophecy, first."
It was a very sullen Harry Potter that accompanied Luna to the Dancing Doily, a mornings-only outdoor cafe found along a side street called Cashew Alley. Luna had stopped at the hat shop next door and proudly handed Harry a Napoleon-style tricorn hat that would probably fit down to his eyebrows. She was already wearing a fur-lined aviator cap with a two-foot diameter daisy on top. The petals tended to undulate for a moment whenever she moved her head.
Harry regarded the hat in his hands with confusion. "What's this for?"
"Disguises, of course. Everyone else will be wearing hats, so we should as well."
Harry noted that Luna was correct- the other dozen or so diners were all wearing hats. There was such a variety as Harry hadn't seen since watching a telly programme about Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He took off his glasses, settled the hat on his head and slumped into an ironwork chair.
Luna sat across from him and then leaned forward to keep their conversation quiet. "What did the prophecy say, if you don't mind my asking?"
"I have to kill him. And, I'm the only one who can do it, or he'll kill me."
She tilted her head, sending the petals into a short dance. "That's unusually explicit for your typical seeress. Are you sure that was what Professor Trelawney said?"
"How did you-?"
"Right. Well, what she actually said was-"
As with most mornings, the world was working against Harry, and the waiter chose then to Apparate in front of them.
"Good morning, diners! Who am I to be serving today?"
Luna smiled at the cheerful fellow and replied, "I am Miss Everquack and this is Mister Shoehorn. We'd like tea and snacks, if you don't mind."
The upbeat man said, "Of course, of course! You look awfully familiar to me, though, Mr. Shoehorn."
Harry squinted in irritation, though thankful now for both the hat and his current lack of glasses.
The waiter's face lit up with recognition. He nodded and whispered, "Never you mind, Mr. Boardman. I can keep a secret as well as the next wizard!"
Harry quietly reiterated, "I'm doomed."
Luna leaned forward towards the waiter and said, "No, you have it all wrong." Harry looked at her in a panic. She clarified, "Stubby Boardman is his godfather."
The waiter winked and Disapparated, leaving a steaming teapot and two settings in his wake.
Harry's inner monologue added a sarcastic comment. 'Remember this, in future, Potter. You and a Ravenclaw girl at a cafe is a recipe for disaster.'
Harry mumbled, "Duly noted," and took a sip of his tea.
They continued their meal, but Harry chose not to engage in an open conversation about a secret prophecy, instead spending some time learning a little more about Luna. Halfway through her fifth description of an unseeable creature that she and her father yearned to capture, the sky opened up in a light drizzle. The other patio diners quickly ended their meals and departed, but Luna stayed Harry with a hand to his forearm, while turning her face up to enjoy the sound of droplets pattering at different angles onto her hat-daisy.
Harry found that his tri-corn hat was ably redirecting the rain past his shoulders, so he simply put his saucer over his teacup until he wanted a sip, and relaxed in the strangely open privacy of the abandoned patio.
The drizzle continued. Luna took notice of their isolation and re-opened their more important discussions. "I think you should set aside the meaning of your prophecy for now and we can concentrate on your other two goals. Do you know how Hermione became injured?"
Harry nodded grudgingly. "We were running between rooms and Dolohov tried to curse her. At first he held back because she had hit him with a Silencing Charm, but then he still flung his spell- it looked like... purple flames, maybe? It cut across her body like a slicing hex."
"I don't know any curses like that, but then I don't like to read about curses, generally. People who invent them are always so descriptive about the effects. Perhaps they are reminiscing about a time that they cast the curse. That might be why curse descriptions usually sound so... indecent."
"'Indecent'? Like what?"
"Well, the Crouching Moody last year had us study the Entrail-expelling curse; 'the brown wave wraps around the victim's abdomen, driving its pestilence up into their bowels and taking a solid grip. Soon, leagues of digestive tract are ripped outward like an inverted sausage skin, the bruised viscera-'"
"Yes! Yes, I think I get it, Luna."
"Oh. I'm sorry, Harry. You had the bangers, didn't you?"
Harry covered his mouth and nodded.
"So, in order to change the result of Hermione's cursing, we would need to know what we're averting and how it should appear to take effect. Do you know anyone who might recognize the spell, preferably someone that isn't already participating in our upcoming battle?"
Harry spat out the taste of bile in his mouth and replied, "Borgin. You wait here. I'll handle this." He made sure to leave his hat on the chair.
Entering Knockturne Alley was like stepping from a plaza in Paradise into some alleyway behind the chemist's where the local junkies were known to shoot up. Harry made his way down to Borgin & Burkes, moving with only as much surety as he could muster for having a mission in mind. He knew this wasn't his world, but at the moment that didn't matter.
Entering the shop, Harry approached the limp-haired proprietor, Mr. Borgin. The wizard greeted him as warmly as could be expected.
"What do you want 'ere, then?"
Harry's inner-Snape grumbled, '...and try not to humiliate yourself when answering, would you?'
Harry grimaced and said, "I need to know about a curse that looks like purple flames."
"Hah! The Great Hope, Harry Potter, wants me to tell 'im about a dark curse?"
Harry decided that his expression of annoyance was working well for him and kept up the associated attitude. "Didn't you hear? I'm a madman who's trying to undermine the Ministry. I'm on the ragged edge- a complete nutter. Besides, I'll pay."
"However much it costs to buy the book that describes it in detail. If you don't have it but know where I can get it, you'll get... a finder's fee."
"Oho. Well, young master Nutter, I will tell you for two Galleons."
"I'll pay you one Galleon, and two more when I safely have the spell I want." Harry placed a gold coin on the counter.
"It's on the fourth shelf over, called 'Craft of the Medicis'. Cost you eight Galleons, plus the two Galleon finder fee, if you please."
Harry went over to the indicated bookcase and reached towards a leather-bound volume. At the last inch, he stopped.
Taking an extra moment, he unknotted his school tie and used it to grab the book, bringing it to the counter. "Show me which one it is."
Borgin looked at Harry with disappointment. He put on a dragonhide glove, turned and opened the volume, flipping quickly through the pages until he found what Harry was looking for.
"It's in Italian."
"Cor, would you look at that? So it is."
"Fine. Ten Galleons, but you'll throw in a pair of those gloves."
"Sure and thanks, Mr. Nutter."
"Luna, can you read Italian?"
Luna tilted her head, causing a half-cup's worth of accumulated rain water to slosh out of her daisy.
"Harry, is this the beginning of a joke?"
"No, I just bought a book that should help us, but it's in Italian."
"Oh. Well, in that case, yes, I do read and speak a bit of Italian. What were you going to do if I didn't?"
"No idea. We have a bunch of Time Turners- I suppose I would just have to muddle through translating from a dictionary, and learn it as I went."
"You're not very efficient, are you?"
Luna added, "I like that. Still, let's just have me do this translation. You can learn Italian much better when it isn't acting like a Quidditch keeper obstructing you from the knowledge that you seek."
"Uhh... thanks, Luna. Again, you are brilliant."
Luna nodded her head in blushing appreciation, causing the rest of the rainwater caught in her hat to dump out onto the glass tabletop. Both teens yelped and jumped up to avoid any further water ending up in their laps.
Harry smiled and said, "Good thing you're not a kappa, or you'd be powerless now."
Luna looked up and gave Harry a sunny grin.
The pair returned to the Ministry, entering amidst the morning press of arriving workers. They had arranged as an excuse that they had an appointment with a Mr. Peabody in the Department of Mysteries. The appointment in his desk calendar made before they had left earlier made their re-entrance that much smoother.
Following their plan, they shadowed a few Ministry functionaries down to level nine, and then sequestered into the office of a minor functionary that had left a note on his door indicating he was on holiday. They sent a flying note to cancel their appointment with Mr. Peabody, and then divided the room with a parchment transfigured into a curtain.
Harry and Luna spent the next few hours studying the Italian book and considering their options for how to defeat Dolohov's spell. Harry often heard his Snape-voice admonishing him to focus his attention. While he was aggravated by the source, the effect was a kind of singular focus that Harry found surprisingly effective.
Nonetheless, by late afternoon they had run out of resources and both were feeling frustrated. Luna took the opportunity to suggest a break and a visit to the loo which Harry agreed was overdue. They agreed to reconvene in a nearby side room that led to a roundabout path back to their commandeered office.
Luna arrived a little later than Harry expected, carrying some food and three large books. She sat down next to Harry and gave him a big smile.
"I bring an apple and forbidden knowledge."
Harry blushed slightly and then noted, "...also a sandwich."
"That's mine. There are some interesting chapters on illusory charms in the blue one, and the other two are full of shielding techniques."
"Where'd you find them?"
"Mr. Shacklebolt's desk in the Auror's office. He's on our side, right?"
"Yes, but don't you think he'll notice his books missing?"
"I have no idea. We could put them back later, I suppose."
As they rose to exit, the door opened in front of them. Harry pulled Luna behind the open door and they both held back a gasp when two men entered the room wearing black cloaks and white masks.
The two Death Eaters took a look around the room, but Harry and Luna had applied their Notice-Me-Nots by then. Thus the squat man closed the door they were hiding behind without giving them a glance.
After a moment, the taller man said, "He's not here, either. Guess this kid don't care so much for Black as we thought, eh?"
The other one replied, "Cor, bloody well right, eh? Remind us never to expect the young relatives to rush to help, if we're 'avin' a crisis. This latest generation can't be arsed! 'Oh, me bruvvers hanging over a chasm? I'd best wash behind me ears and shine me boots so I'll looks extra special when I goes to save him!' You know he's a poufter, besides."
Seeing him lurch forward, Luna tapped Harry with her wand, wrapping a conjured towel around his mouth.
The taller cloaked figure replied, "Hang on. You're saying that this Potter digs in the boy's garden?"
The squat one nodded, adding, "Heard his dates all end up in tears. How do you suppose that happens?"
Luna followed up with a binding spell- silken ropes wrapped around Harry's arms, forcing his wand away from aiming at the shorter masked man.
The tall Death Eater continued to stroll on, as oblivious as his companion to Harry and Luna's presence. He shook his head and said, "Blimey. I never knew."
"It's a sad, sad state of affairs, chum. Erases all doubt as to who deserves to run this clockworks though, dunnit?"
Finally, Luna hit Harry with a leg-locker curse, and then grabbed hold of the binding ropes before he could topple forward.
She waited until the two men had crossed to exit the room and sealed the door behind them before cancelling Harry's bindings.
Harry whirled to face Luna, his skin flushed with anger. He pointed an accusing finger toward her. "Yoooouuuuuu!"
Undaunted, Luna said, "Harry, are we here to save Sirius and Hermione or your pride?"
He spat out a counter-question; "If I said 'my pride', what would you do?"
"Oh, I would still try to help. I just thought that you had different goals in mind."
Harry breathed heavily several times before turning away to kick a chair. One wooden leg broke from the impact. "You're right, of course."
He heard the Snape-voice bubbling up from beneath layers of his rage, saying, 'Score one for the flower-headed girl. At least she has some perspective. Not to mention a talent for subduing you...'
'That's true.' Harry gathered his calm and turned back towards his companion. "Um, Luna. How did you cast those spells without saying anything?"
Luna looked down at her wand and thought. She replied, "I spend a lot of my time Not being Noticed. It really isn't that difficult- most adults get by with only speaking aloud the most aggressive or least-practiced spells, while their regularly-used repertoire can be cast with barely an afterthought, much less a spoken incantation."
"I hadn't noticed before, but yeah, you're right. So, how do I do that?"
"You just think the words. After all, you're not saying the words at your target."
"You're... I'm not?"
"No. You're saying the words to your wand. If you get along with your wand, like friends might, you'll work out how to communicate a lot with just a look, a familiar noise and gesture. You and Hermione do that all the time, don't you?"
"I never thought of my wand as a person."
Luna gave Harry a confused look. "Of course not, Harry. Why would you do that? It's a wand. You tell it what you want and then aim. If it understands you properly, it produces what you intended. I can't get that sort of response even from my father, and he loves me."
Inner Snape added, 'And with that, you can now skip half of the 6th year curriculum in Charms. Are you feeling smart, yet?'
Before Harry could answer himself, he heard Luna whisper, "...and if it's any consolation, I am at least seventy percent certain that you have no interest in boys for your bedmates, no matter how many girls you bring to tears."
They retreated to their hiding place and, once secured, Turned back several hours once more. Luna put the latest Turner in her right pocket along with the other ones they had already used.
Harry grumbled, "It totally slipped my mind- the History OWL started at two and I was seeing visions of Sirius soon after. They must have already been in position by then. It took us six hours to finally get here, and another hour of fumbling about before we found the Hall of Prophecy, right?"
"I don't have a watch."
"I feel like such an idiot. If it had been real, there's no way Sirius would have survived. And why didn't we use the Floo in Hogsmeade?"
"I'm sure it just never occurred to anyone. Wasn't riding the Thestrals exciting, though?"
"Yes, but... inefficient." Harry sneered almost as well as the Snape in his head that had suggested the word.
Luna shrugged and bit into her sandwich.
After several more hours of study and discussion, they had formed a tentative plan involving a nearly-invisible deflection spell, but the illusion of the flesh-burning curse and its effects was just too complicated for them to simulate.
Harry had been silent for several minutes before he finally aired his uncomfortable idea. "One of us will have to cast the spell at Hermione. If it's one of us, we'll be sure to make it a very weak effect."
"I suppose. You should practice that, to make sure the spell can be weakened."
"Oh, I should, should I?"
"Since one of us will need to also cast the deflection, I think you should cast the curse."
"Me?! Hermione's my friend! I can't cast that at her."
"Harry, I'm not certain I can cast it at all. It says that you must harden your heart, and mine is very squishy. Like candyfloss, almost."
Harry stared at her, sensing that this absurd notion was her way of dealing with her fear. He couldn't begrudge her meaning, however. He was more experienced with Dark magic. Snape's voice added, 'I'm sure Bellatrix would agree on that assessment, Potter.'
Luna transfigured the wastebin into an oversized rat to use as a target. Harry nodded- he immediately found it easier to imagine casting the spell at Wormtail, and let fly.
Watching the purple flames slowly burn away at the twitching rodent's flesh made Luna regret having used their only wastebin. She bolted from their hideaway while Harry frowned at the soon-dead simulated rat.
"Good thing we decided to practice."
He transfigured the remains into a rock and then back into a rat to try the spell again. After six tries he had finally found a way to minimize the damage. It would still hurt Hermione greatly, but the effect wouldn't continue to destroy her flesh for more than a few seconds.
Harry and Luna had agreed to follow the other person's counterpart once their originals arrived, so that they wouldn't cause any temporal issues if they were noticed. It was while following the original Luna that Harry saw a pair of Death Eaters about to get the jump on her, and cast a tripping jinx in reaction. The pair stumbled, Luna moved on and Harry decided that he needed to find 'his' Luna; this proved that they could interfere, and he needed to tell her so that they could change their game plan.
Luna touched his shoulder and he turned with a smile, saying, "We can help! We just have to stay unnoticed, but we can change things."
Choosing to intercept the running battle at various junctures, they proceeded to deflect a dozen other curses that would have crippled all of them several times over. They made sure that they were working in tandem close to the point when Hermione was attacked by Dolohov. Luna's deflection was aimed well enough that the true hex was shunted beneath a table, while Harry's weakened hex was applied just a second later than it should have- Harry's enthusiasm nearly got the best of him, but his pause ensured that Hermione's life would be spared.
Exiting in opposite directions, Harry found himself disarmed by the tall Death Eater he had encountered earlier in the day. He reached into his left pocket with a gloved hand and tossed the Medici book at him like a frisbee. Once the Death Eater had caught it in his ungloved hand, he fell to the floor gasping for breath. Harry retrieved his wand and the book, stepping on the Death Eater's forearm as he departed.
He caught up with Luna under a table in the Time room just as the shrunken-baby-head Death Eater had wandered out towards other skirmishers.
Harry grinned. "This is great! We're really saving everyone!"
Luna smiled as well. "Or we're providing the support that allowed us to survive in the first place."
'Right. Right, okay. I think we should go to the Veil chamber and watch things unfold one time, then plan out how to save Sirius. We'll set up in one corner and just watch, so that the second time we can stand in another corner and take action."
Luna frowned. "Harry, I don't think that will work out for us. The more we know of the circumstances, the less options we'll have."
"Huh? How do you figure?"
"When you know something for certain, it hardens like concrete in your mind. Like your friend Hermione- she has many concrete notions in her head, such that I can sometimes hear them rolling around and clacking into each other."
"Luna, I understand, but... actually I don't understand. I just think that the room was way too busy during that fight for us to just shoot from the hip, y'know?"
"Alright, Harry. We should go then, because things are about to start."
Harry and Luna were nestled in a dark corner of the room, watching the battle's progress. Several times Harry had to hold Luna back from casting a spell or walking forward to follow the siren call of the voices behind the Veil.
Finally, they saw Sirius with the original Harry, dueling with Malfoy while standing at the center of the Veil's dais.
They saw Bellatrix' spell strike Sirius. Harry couldn't take his eyes away, but Luna was staring at their Time Turner. She pointed her wand at the grain of magical sand about to drop into the bottom of the hourglass at the center, and she whispered, 'Engorgio.' The grain swelled and stoppered in the narrow between.
Harry felt an unusual lurching sensation wash over him, and then realized that the entire room had frozen in time, aside from him and Luna.
"Fantastic! When did you learn to do that?"
"I just thought of it."
They stepped forward to examine the frozen tableau.
Harry looked around with nervous energy and kept moving around the half-finished spells and bodies stuck midflip. After a few relative minutes of scrutiny, he turned to Luna.
"Okay. Maybe... maybe we can use a Summoning Charm to pull him away- no, that didn't happen. We could, if we could get one of those illusions to take his place. We Summon him and Disillusion him, while following up with the fake image- no, we'd need a third, and even then the timing would be tricky."
Luna was standing in front of the Veil, looking closely at Sirius. She said, "Harry..."
"I know. This isn't gonna be easy. How about... can we replace him with a Polyjuice'd duplicate? If we turn back maybe we can find some Polyjuice and... and put the Imperius on one of the Death Eaters so that they'll act as him. Sure. Heck, that's probably why he got tagged- it wasn't really him!"
"Harry, why is he standing here at all?"
"Your godfather stepped up to protect you, but then he moved deliberately to the front of the Veil."
"He's a bit of a show-off, Luna. No doubt he enjoyed being the center of attention."
"I don't think so. Would you come here, please?"
Harry gulped and climbed up to the dais to stand next to Luna. He shuffled slightly so that he could see from her angle.
Luna whispered, "What do you think he's thinking right then?"
Harry looked at Sirius' expression. He looked at the wrinkles of wear and fatigue brought on by a dozen years in Azkaban, but they were smoothing out in the position in which time held Sirius.
Harry shook his head several times before turning to face Luna.
"He looks relieved."
Luna offered, "I think he looks triumphant, actually. As if his plans have fallen into place. Was he known for complicated schemes?"
"He... he was known... "
"Luna, I'd like to go now."
They retreated to an unoccupied room. Luna then shrunk the grain of time-sand, allowing the course of events to proceed normally. She resheathed her wand behind an ear and then turned to gaze at Harry. Her friend was wrapped up in his own thoughts.
'Sirius would never have forgotten where he was in a duel. He hammered that point home when I got the defense books at Christmas. He had looked so disappointed when we had to return to school... and Snape just couldn't resist taunting him for his inactivity.'
'Yes. Even you could see he was dying by inches, couldn't you? The stupid mutt couldn't see it though, could he?''
'Already tiring of the benefits of an outside perspective? Then let me leave you with this thought. Sirius Black was an overgrown child who ran away from his responsibilities so many times, he wouldn't know what to do if he actually wanted to step up. That is why he has abandoned his post as your godfather and left you out to dry. He couldn't handle the simple burden of escorting you these last few miles to your majority. He came here to give up, and he did so while staring you in the FACE!'
Harry growled and rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyesockets. "Damn it. It's true. He's left me. I'm alone. AGAIN." He scrunched up his face in a mixture of frustration, grief, shame and anger.
Luna walked up and pried one of his hands from his face, taking it into her gentle grip. "I'm sorry, Harry."
Harry pulled her into a tight hug. The blond girl gasped at the strength of it, but soon wrapped her own arms around his tensed body, offering silent but heartfelt comfort. He then leaned back in their embrace, drinking in Luna's reassuring gaze.
His breath caught in his throat, and before he knew it, Harry had cupped her face, leaned forward and kissed her.
Their lips met and locked together. Harry and Luna both were rather stunned with the situation and held their breaths, yet neither moved to end it. They continued to kiss for a minute, both almost too afraid to stop what they had started, lest they have to acknowledge that it had happened and actually deal with that. Eventually, Luna's lips began to quiver and they broke the kiss, exhaling loudly and taking a new breath while staring wide-eyed at each other.
Luna stepped back from Harry as her face changed from surprise to panic.
Harry grew worried and he tentatively reached a hand forward. He stuttered, "Umm... Luna, I... "
Luna' hand snapped up to her temple and she drew her wand from behind her ear.
Harry jolted awake to find himself sitting on the floor of a small storeroom for stationary supplies. Luna was standing over him, giving him a kind smile. She held out a hand, offering to help him stand up. He took it.
Luna replied, "Well, right at the end there we realized that your godfather was relieved to die in battle. We were going to lay a few more curses on some of the bad sort, but something backfired and you were knocked out. I pulled you into this room and rennervated you. We should probably return to the Atrium. If we look despondent and sullen, I'm certain that no one will think we've accomplished anything and our lives can return to normal."
"That... was very concise," Harry said. He took a moment to think before asking, "Do you really want things to be 'normal', Luna?"
She gave him a haunted look. "I think you need a little more normal about now. I'm not ready for it, so I'll be over in 'not-normal', where I feel comfortable."
Harry smiled and gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Yeah, I guess that sounds right. I can't shake the feeling that not-normal is more my speed, though."
Luna smiled. "Don't be silly, Harry. Not-normal operates much too slowly for you. It's not ready for your life's frenetic pace."
"Sounds like I should slow down."
Luna's expression fell. "Harry. Are we friends?"
He turned to face her, concerned at the tone of the question. "I'd like it if we were. After today, I'd consider you a very dear friend. Why?"
"That's enough for me, for now. Just trust me- as your friend."
Harry paused and looked at her. He leaned forward and kissed her forehead.
"I... uhhh... I don't know why I did that," he mumbled, and then saw Luna's brief flash of a smile fading away. He added, "...but I'm not sorry for it. I trust you, Luna."
"Thanks, Harry." She sighed and turned to walk alongside him, threading her arm in his. She said, "I had a very nice time on our adventure. Next time, we should bring snacks."
Harry added, "And my Invisibility Cloak."
"And some delightful headwear."
"I'll trust you to provide that. No one has better hats than Kappa Luna."
She frowned very briefly. "Don't call me that."
"Oh, sorry." Harry looked to Luna, hoping he hadn't hurt her feelings, but she had returned to appearing as unaffected as ever.
They took the same lift car back that they had just exited on their original journey. As they made their way back to the Atrium, Harry's mood clouded over with the meaning of the prophecy, the burden of losing Sirius and the niggling sensation that something important had been overlooked along the way. Luna had shrunk into a corner of the lift, to the point that Harry had forgotten that she was there by the time the doors opened to the Atrium once more.
Once Harry had rejoined Professor Dumbledore at the center of the press mob, Luna stuck her wand behind her ear and moved to catch up with Ginny and the others.
Luna Lovegood's Log, Day 1758 afield
Today has been a very long day with some wonderful and terrible happenings. I had my first date and my first kiss. Most importantly though, is that I captured or spoiled all the Snorcack horn powder that the Ministry had seized for its Time Thievery experiments. No one will ever be killed by your work ever again, ever. If you were still alive, I might be very cross with you, you know. I made sure that every last one of the Time Churners was smashed, even the ones we used. Still, they allowed me to help my friend Harry deal with his grief. Maybe someday your discoveries can be refound, and used by more responsible people than any of us. Particularly me.
He kissed me, and I stole the memory from him. I'm an awful person. I don't deserve his trust. It was just too...
I felt as if I were about to leave my childhood behind by leaping into a waterfall, and I just couldn't do that. Not yet. Not until it feels less like suicide and more like learning to fly. Or swim. Though I have to say, swy-flimming into that waterfall looked like it might be very refreshing.
Tomorrow, I will relate all the other happenings that made this very long day the best one of my life. For now, I think I'd like to spend some time dreaming.
Maybe when I get home, I'll paint.