Everyone who was slated to go home for the holidays—which was most of the students as many parents didn't want their children staying when Death Eaters were practically ruling the school—talked endlessly of what they would do when they returned home. Ginny, Neville, and Luna sat by a tree near the frozen lake, wearing scarves and hats that matched their house colors.
"I'm sure Mum will be pleased," Ginny said. "She's been worrying."
"I just hope I don't forget anything here," Neville replied, smiling slightly; he was surprised he was able to smile, with all that's been going on.
"At least we can be home… where it's safe," Luna said, running her fingers through her waist length white blonde hair.
"Hey!" A voice called out to them; it was fellow student, Hannah Abbott from Hufflepuff. She smiled at Neville, who flushed a slight pink. "The Hogwarts Express is going to be leaving in about an hour, so we better get moving!"
"The sooner we get out of here, the better," Ginny muttered, helping Luna up. "Never thought I'd say that."
Neville and Ginny ran to the Gryffindor Common Room, while Luna went to the Ravenclaw Common Room to retrieve belongings.
They met again in front of the Great Hall, hauling their trunks.
Hagrid escorted them back to the Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade Village.
"Take care, you three, alrigh?" He said when they were clambering inside the train.
"We will," Ginny told him. "You take care too, Hagrid."
"Don' worry about me."
Hagrid smiled slightly as the Hogwarts Express blew its horns and began to ride away towards King's Cross.
Luna pressed her head against the window, watching the scenery whir by. She closed her eyes for a few minutes. She was jerked awake when the train came to a sudden halt.
"What's happening?" She asked, looking around.
"I don't know," Ginny said, opening the compartment like many others were doing. "The last time this happened there were Dementors on the train."
"Y-you don't think…?" Neville asked, looking nervous.
Ginny was about to open her mouth to reply, but she was caught short by the sound of a sliding door creaking. Someone was coming aboard.
Luna's grey eyes watched as a few men, dressed in black cloaks, walked through the aisles. They didn't stop until they reached the compartment they were in. The man with the green eyes looked over Ginny and Neville and brought his gaze to Luna. The other, a man with brown eyes, kept a watch.
"What do you want? You know damn well Harry Potter is not here," Neville spoke up, reaching for his wand.
"We don't want him right now," the one with green eyes scowled. He pointed a thin finger towards Luna, who looked positively shocked. Ginny took out her wand as well. He chuckled darkly. "Do you honestly think a couple of kids like you two are going to be a match?" With a wave of his own wand, Ginny and Neville were knocked off their feet. He reached out, grabbing Luna's arm before she could so much as inch her hand toward her wand.
She struggled and tried to free herself, but he struck the side of her head. He nodded toward his companion, and they left the train holding an unconscious Luna.
Xenophilius Lovegood was busy watching his old fashioned press machine spit out copies of the latest edition of the Quibbler. He was stacking the copies neatly and setting them on the table.
"Ah, yes, nearly done," he told himself, twiddling with his necklace.
There was a loud bang, and the door came flying off its hinges. Xenophilius gasped loudly and looked over the banister to see two men bursting into his house. He straightened his robe and quickly ran downstairs.
"May I help you?" He asked, voice trembling. The taller one grabbed him by his candyfloss hair and pushed him against the wall. "W-what?"
"Xenophilius Lovegood," he said, his voice cold. He stepped on a copy of the Quibbler which flew downstairs when it was spat out of the press machine. He looked down at it, loosening his grip on Xenophilius's hair. He picked it up and read the cover aloud: Support Harry Potter. It's our first priority. The man scowled, dropping the Quibbler, and turning his attention back to the frightened man. "'Support Harry Potter?'"
"O-of course," Xenophilius stammered. "It's the best thing to do."
"I wouldn't think like that." He pushed up his sleeve to reveal the Dark Mark branded on his forearm. "But, hey, I'm just being biased. Listen and listen well, Lovegood. This rubbish you've been writing is putting people in grave danger."
"No one has been in danger because of my magazines," he replied.
"No one? Hmm…. Travers, why don't you show him that little piece of treasure we've picked up?"
"Sure thing, Selwyn," Travers said, smirking as he rummaged into his cloak and presented a butterbeer cork necklace. Xenophilius nearly fainted. "So, you still believe no one is in danger?"
"My… my Luna…"
"Your… your Luna… is in danger because of what you're writing."
"Give her back!" Xenophilius cried, pushing Selwyn to the ground. His hands reached the butterbeer cork necklace just as Selwyn grabbed the back of his robes. He was pulled to the ground, the broken necklace in his hands. "NO!"
"Show some respect!" Selwyn screamed, kicking Xenophilius against the face, causing his lip to split and produce blood. "If you want your 'darling' little girl, Lovegood, you need to swap for her. Something of value." He glanced over at Travers, who was thinking the exact same thing. He smirked.
Xenophilius scrambled upstairs to a bust of Rowena Ravenclaw. He yanked the headdress of it and ran back downstairs, blood still protruding from his lip. He thrust the headdress into Selwyn's arms.
"What is this?" He asked, studying the very odd headpiece that was just handed to him.
"Take this…" Xenophilius said. "Take this for my daughter." Selwyn and Travers exchanged glances and then burst into laughter. Xenophilius looked terrified.
"You think this…?" Travers asked, taking the headdress and waving it in front of Xenophilius's face, "… is worth anything?"
"It is worth…"
"Silence! Whatever it's worth—I doubt it's worth anything—it is not enough to exchange for your daughter, Lovegood."
"Then, this…" Xenophilius pointed to a horn mounted on the wall. "It is the horn of Horned Crumpled Snorkack! This must be worth enough to get my Luna returned to me."
"Hah! You hear this lunatic?" Selwyn yelled. "Not only is that horn going to get you zilch, it's an Erumpent horn!"
"No, no!" Xenophilius cried. "It is not! It is the horn of a Horned Crumpled Snorkack! Please, take it… for my daughter. PLEASE! There must be something in here, anything!"
Selwyn groaned loudly, striking Xenophilius in the face once more. "Travers, let's be on our way. Lovegood," he said as they reached the door, "send an owl to the ministry if you find anything worthy of any value." Selwyn and Travers left the house, closing the door behind them.
Xenophilius, trembling, stared at the door for several moments before collapsing, a fit of sobs overcoming him.
"My darling Luna," he cried. He looked down at his hands, still holding the broken necklace. "Nothing I have will bring her back… What can I do…?" His blue eyes widened as realization hit him. Selwyn and Travers were Death Eaters, they weren't interested in the treasures Luna and her father had. The Dark Lord only wanted one thing. Harry Potter. Xenophilius put the broken necklace into his pocket, determined never to part with it until his daughter was safe in his arms.
"The only way," he said to himself as he brought himself to his feet, "is to bring them the Boy who Lived. I'll have to wait. It'll be painful, but there is no other option. I will have to be patient until I encounter the boy. Only then will they give me my precious Luna back."
Xenophilius pushed his hair away from his tearstained face and returned upstairs. He glanced at the Quibbler magazines, stacked neatly on the table. He snatched them, tearing each and every one of them to pieces. He grabbed a blank piece of parchment and a quill from the shelf and wrote in big red letters "Harry Potter: Undesirable Number One."