Warning Spoilers, If you haven't read all the books. The following story may contain spoilers.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, I am only playing in the world created by J.K. Rowling. No money is being made from this story.
This story may also not be suitable for younger readers. You have been warned. Any complaints will be ignored.
The celebration party for the Gryffindor Quidditch victory over Slytherin went on well into the night. It only ended when Professor McGonagall demanded that her lions finally call it a night and go to bed. She had also noticed I was sitting in Harry's lap, yet deliberately chose to not say anything about it. Harry insisted on escorting me back to the Ravenclaw tower before kissing me goodnight. Then he disappeared back under the cloak of invisibility for the return trip to the Gryffindor dorms. It wasn't the evening I originally had in mind when the day started, yet it was still a very nice alternative. I would have to wait for another chance to have my way with Harry. I usually didn't have to wait very long for such an opportunity.
The next morning I had a bit of a lie-in, and by the time I finally got out of bed my room-mates were gone except for Mandy. She sat on her bed reading quietly, when she noticed me climbing out from behind the curtains of my bed.
"Good morning, Luna. Did you sleep well?" she asked.
"As a matter of fact I did," I answered. I felt surprisingly good and well rested after our late night celebrations.
Then I realised that it was unusual that Mandy was still here and not at breakfast with Lisa. That's strange I thought - typically the two best friends ate all their meals together.
"Why aren't you at breakfast with Lisa, Mandy?" I asked, a little concerned about Mandy.
"Oh, I ate earlier. Since I couldn't get back to sleep after I had a little nightmare," she explained.
So Mandy was having nightmares. That explained the faint dark circles under her eyes of late.
"A little nightmare usually doesn't keep you from going back to sleep," I pointed out.
"I guess you got me there," she sighed.
I had plenty of experience with nightmares as Harry Potter. But thankfully I seemed to have left them behind now that I wasn't Harry anymore. Apparently the lack of them was yet another unexpected benefit from my new life as Luna.
"You sure there isn't anything I can do to help?" I asked trying to reach out to my previously most troublesome room-mate.
"You've already done far more than I deserve, considering how I've acted towards you," she answered with a forced smile.
"Are you still bothered about that?" I questioned her. "That wasn't your fault. You were being used. As far as I'm concerned there's nothing to forgive."
"That's very kind of you to say, Luna. But those thoughts and feelings still came from somewhere inside me. If you hadn't stopped them I would have been trapped forever in that dark place. The very thought that could have happened is absolutely terrifying." She shuddered. A frightened look hung over her troubled face.
"Is that fear the source of all your nightmares?" I asked, already certain that it probably was the reason.
She nodded, unable to speak as she was momentarily overcome with her emotions.
I understood only too well how several witches were not happy about me and Harry being together. Maybe Hermione was right. I did seem to be more observant about things than I ever was as Harry. Was it the fact that I was now female and therefore more tuned into these sort of things? Or was it something more?
"Look Mandy, you're not the only witch who was told stories as a little girl about the famous Boy Who Lived. And like many, I'm sure you too had a few fantasies about him - so it's perfectly natural to feel a little disappointed. But unlike THEM you didn't decide to take those feelings of disappointment and turn them into something truly evil. They twisted your dark thoughts, hoping to use them to break up me and Harry," I reasoned.
"But I was so awful to you! Why would you even think of trying to help me?" she asked, genuinely confused by my actions towards her.
"Because it was the right thing to do Mandy. A very wise person once told me 'Eventually we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.' Surely you would have done the same for me if the situation was reversed?" I asked.
"I'd like to think so, Luna. I really would, but I'm not sure I'm as strong a witch as you are," she answered doubtfully.
"Nonsense. You're stronger than you think, Mandy. Don't you see, you were fighting them the whole time. They had to recast the spell on you every 24 hours, or you would have been able to break free of their control. A lesser witch would have given up long before then," I explained my thinking to her.
"I guess you're right, I never really thought about it in those terms," she conceded.
"Sometimes we're just too close to our own problems that we just can't see them properly. That's where a good friend like Lisa can really help you work through them. You trust her don't you?"
"Of course I do. She stuck with me, even when I was being horrible!" she answered.
"Then perhaps it's time you really let her in. Any regrets or burdens we carry are reduced by half when shared with another," I said sagely.
"When did you become so wise, Luna?" she asked, looking like she had never truly seen this Luna Lovegood before now.
"Let's just say that I've recently had a bit of an epiphany while helping Harry work through a few of his personal issues, as he also helped me with a few of my own. The end result was that we were both given a truly priceless gift to be able to see our lives from a completely different perspective. It's amazing how clear things can become with a little distance. The end result has helped bring us closer together than probably any other couple. It may sound a little corny but Harry and I truly complete each other, in ways that no one else ever could." I had to smile at the truthfulness of what I was saying. Even though Mandy would never guess in a million years what really happened between us.
"Is that what it's like to be in love? It sounds wonderful," she said wistfully.
"I guess it is pretty special," I agreed with her.
Mandy fidgeted on her bed, pulling her knees close to her sad-looking face. "I doubt I'll ever feel anything even close to that."
"Don't be so sure, Mandy. I've heard it said that before you can truly love another, you have to learn to love yourself first. How can you ever expect to be able to like someone else, if you don't like who you are?" I questioned Mandy.
"I suppose you're right, I can see that's something I still need to work on."
"One step at a time, you'll get there eventually. I think you're finally back on the path after being lost for a bit," I said confidently.
Mandy seemed to be thinking about what I had said to her, when she suddenly turned serious like there was something she needed to say but was struggling to find the right words.
"Is there something else that is bothering you, Mandy?" I prompted her.
"Well, with everything that was happening at the time, I never really got the chance to properly thank you for saving me from such a horrible fate," she offered sincerely.
"Oh that. For what it's worth, you're welcome. I'm just glad that more witches haven't resorted to such tactics," I said to her.
"They were fools. I've seen the way he looks at you, I know now that any other witch never really stood a chance with Harry. I can only hope to one day be lucky enough to have someone love me as much as I know Harry loves you, Luna. Even I have to admit that he picked the right witch to fall in love with."
"Mandy don't lose hope. I really believe there is someone for everyone. You just have to look, yet be ready to see them," I said confidently.
"Do you really think so?" she asked hesitantly, almost believing my claim.
"I've never been more sure about anything. Love will always find a way, Mandy." Even if that way seems completely absurd at first glance, I thought to myself.
"That's easy for you to say when you get both the guy and the happy ending," Mandy teased me.
"I suppose it might seem that way at first glance. Yet even the road to happiness for us was a little bumpy at first. But after all that Harry's has done for the magical world, don't you think he deserves a happy ending?" I asked her.
"Of course! He does deserve it. Thanks Luna for everything, I feel better already." Mandy now bore a more genuine smile.
"You're very welcome, Mandy," I offered in return.
If nothing else was accomplished with our little chat I hoped at the very least it would help reduce her nightmares. I was glad to have the opportunity to set Mandy straight about a few things that were troubling her.
"Well I think I've kept Harry waiting long enough. I better get cleaned up and head down to the Great Hall before breakfast is over."
So with that I quickly gathered up my bathroom things and a clean set of clothes to wear. Then I made my way over to the seventh year girls bathroom. I quickly removed my old Quidditch jersey and knickers. I turned towards the showers when I caught my reflection in the mirror. It was hard to believe that the next day would make it officially a month since I became Luna. The funny thing was, with all the memories I had been given by using the Pensieve, it felt like I'd been Luna for much longer than that. I had also noticed I was gradually picking up more and more of the original Luna's traits and mannerisms. Some people under the same circumstances might be concerned by this but I revelled in these changes. The more like the original Luna I became the happier I was about it. It made impersonating Luna easier - and it freed me further from my past unhappiness as Harry. One thing was certain. I no longer felt surprised when I saw the reflection of a pretty blond girl in the mirror. I turned a little to see my body from another different angle. Such a view when I was still Harry would have caused an obvious physical reaction from my previous male form. A reaction that this body was no longer capable of. Though I could still appreciate many things about the female form I now possessed, it was clearly not what I was attracted to anymore.
If anyone had told me a month ago that the answer to all my problems, or the path to true love, was to switch places with the girl I now saw in the mirror, I'd have said they were off their rocker or were completely mental. But here I was more happy and content than I'd ever been in my previous life as Harry Potter.
I eventually proceeded to shower, get dressed and quickly made my way downstairs through the common room and out the door to the Ravenclaw dorms. I found Harry sitting on the floor nearby waiting for me. He had just finished folding the Marauders map after having cleared it.
"I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long, Harry," I apologized.
"Not to worry sweetheart, I too had a bit of a lie-in this morning as well." He then stood up, leaned over and kissed me. "In fact I didn't even bother getting out of bed until I noticed you were finally up and in the girls' bathroom. Yet I still managed to beat you by only ten minutes. My excellent timing of course wouldn't be possible without this little beauty," Harry said, as he gestured to the Marauders map.
"It's a shame that after our final year here is over, it will be a lot less useful to us."
"I suppose that's true unless one of us becomes a teacher here. Or perhaps we could eventually give it to one of our children when they start going to Hogwarts," Harry suggested.
I always love it when Harry talks about our future family, that's probably why he does it - I thought to myself at the time.
"I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the future holds," I said to Harry.
He then took my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze as we made our way down to the Great Hall for a quick breakfast. Then we planned what we would do with the rest of our Sunday. A couple of hours in the Library had all our homework done for tomorrow's classes. I then pulled out the copy of my father's journal and concentrated on the information I wanted to learn about. I opened it and began to read what it said.
Harry and I were getting close to mastering our Unicorn forms - except for the occasional times I retained a feature or two from Moonlight. Our progress had been nothing short of miraculous. No one had ever managed to attain a complete transformation into their animal form and back in so little time. This new method was certainly more effective than the traditional one. But Harry thought that our increased magical capacity was also playing a very large part in our even quicker than expected success. Because of this we needed to make it more challenging. And that was the reason I was studying my dad's journal, I wanted to know what information it had to offer about transforming into your Animagus form and back while still wearing clothes. As much as I enjoyed watching Harry practising transforming into Midnight with no clothes on, we needed to be able to master this additional skill to truly become effective Animagi. Because it wasn't going to always be practical to stop and undress before changing into our animal forms. Not to mention it could be very distracting if you are practising with someone you are very attracted to, as Harry had discovered. Sure with a little magic I fixed his torn clothes - but if we could master this additional skill then such things wouldn't be necessary.
My dad's journal turned out to have a wealth of information and advice on how to achieve this skill. The trick according to it primarily had to do with altering the image in your mind that you use of yourself in human form, when the attempt is made to change into your animal form. But was especially important when using this same image to change back and still have the same clothes on. The traditional method went on endlessly about the theory of how the clothes were technically unmade and then remade every time you transform. And how it was a completely separate magical effort from the Animagus transformation itself. However, my dad's journal suggested it was far easier to combine it as part of the Animagus transformation by simply altering in your mind the image of your human form in the clothes you were wearing before the transformation. It sounded simple enough but even my dad's journal said it would require some practice and that mistakes were to be expected. So it suggested practising with clothes that are conjured rather than any of our favourite clothes. A conjured robe should do the trick I thought. I passed the book over to Harry for him to read, once he finished we discussed our plan of action. Then we would make our way to the Room of Requirement and practice there.
If everything went well with this we would go to Potter Manor next weekend and use our other doses of the 24 hour Animagus potion and spend the weekend in our Phoenix forms. I couldn't wait to try my native Animagus form. I'd often wondered since we discovered my animal form if the affinity I have for flying on a broom comes from my Animagus form. Harry seemed to think it probably did and was also part of what made me such a formidable Seeker.
When we arrived at the Room of Requirement it was already in use by Ron and Hermione. They to were practising their Animagus transformations. Like we had at first they were practising changing various parts of their bodies one at a time, before trying the complete change.
"Mind if we join you?" I asked our two best friends.
"Sure. Always room for more," Ron answered.
Hermione turned to us and asked, "How are you both doing with your Animagus training?"
"Pretty good. In fact we're ready to move on to the next phase." Harry answered her.
"Really? Does that mean you're ready to try a full body transformation?' Ron asked excitedly.
"Something like that," I answered with a dreamy smile.
Harry and I hadn't told Ron or Hermione about our successful transformations last week. We wanted to wait until we could actually show them in person.
"Give us a second. We need to change into something more suitable," Harry said, as a door appeared in a nearby wall.
"Oh right, you need to be wearing something else when attempting a full body transformation," Hermione said knowingly. "It makes perfect sense."
Harry and I made our way over to the door and went in. We both took a moment to conjure a robe to wear, then proceeded to take our clothes off and put on the robes. Once finished we re-emerged back into the main room.
Ron and Hermione continued to practice while we changed. But now that we had returned they changed their paws back into hands and gave us their full attention.
"Since you are both here, Harry and I will both be transforming at the same time," I told our two friends. They both moved back to give us some additional room.
I nodded to Harry who nodded back. I then called up the image of my human self wearing the conjured robe and then did the same with my unicorn form. Then I willed my body to wandlessly transform from one form to the other. With a familiar tingle I felt my body begin to rapidly morph into my Unicorn form, as various body parts changed into their equine equivalents. In a few moments Harry and I had successfully completed our transformations into our unicorn forms, Ron and Hermione were very surprised by this. Of course they had seen both Midnight and Moonlight before when we used the 24 hour Animagus potion. But this time we had done it without the aid of the 24 hour potion.
"Wow!" Hermione gushed. "Is this the first time you both completed the full transformation?" she asked - as Ron looked on, equally amazed by our success.
'Not really. Luna accidentally managed it last Sunday when we were at the Manor. I had managed it a few days earlier - but I think I had a big advantage over Luna, since the unicorn is my native form,' Harry explained non-verbally.
"I know what you mean. Hermione is getting our Kneazle form quicker than I am. But what do you mean by 'Luna accidentally managed it'?" Ron asked, confused.
'I was practising changing everything except my head, but was in such a hurry with my last attempt that I forgot to stop - and I ended up doing a full body transformation, instead. I was shocked at first, then elated that I actually did it!' I exclaimed wordlessly to our two friends.
'And ever since then Luna's finger and toenails have turned a lovely shade of gold just like her hooves,' Harry added using our wordless method of communication.
"Is that what happened? I had noticed them, but I thought she was just trying something new - and didn't I want to make her feel self-conscious about it," Hermione responded. "I had hoped that Luna wearing nail polish was another sign of her continuing efforts to become more feminine."
'No. It just appears to be a little side effect, courtesy of my unicorn form. But I certainly don't mind them. I think they're very pretty and even more convenient, since I never have to repaint them because they never chip.' I thought to Ron and Hermione.
"I noticed them first thing at breakfast, last Monday, I thought the colour really suits you Luna," Ron declared. He suddenly turned a bit pink when he realised what he had just said.
"Luna's fingernails aside," Hermione smirked at Ron's embarrassed face as she obviously attempted to change the subject. "Being able to complete the Animagus transformation in less than a month has got to be some kind of record."
'Well, Professor McGonagall said three years would be fast using the traditional method. But according to my dad's journal he was able to teach my mum both her forms in just under six months. So I don't doubt it probably is a record, but Harry and I have very little interest in making it official, for some very obvious reasons.' I mentally replied.
'Luna's right. If the Daily Prophet got wind that the Boy Who Lived and his steady girlfriend are magical Animagi, or that we mastered one of our two forms in less than a month, they'd be proclaiming I was the second coming of Merlin himself. And I think that's something we'd both rather avoid,' Harry added.
"I think we both can understand your feelings about not wanting that to happening. Your secret is safe with us. We'll just have to be careful until we are out of school. Then we can hide from all the attention, if it was ever found out," Hermione said.
It sounded simple enough but we would see how well it would work in practice. Very few things about my life have ever gone as planned. The fact that I was currently in the form of a unicorn mare drove home that very reality like nothing else could. What was more surprising was just how comfortable I felt in this body. Harry was a very handsome stallion and my mate, so naturally that would mean I was his mare.
"Well, we can see you've successfully managed to change into your unicorn forms, but how are you at changing back to your human ones?" Ron asked.
'It hasn't been a problem so far. But that isn't what we are trying to accomplish at the moment,' I projected back to them.
"Really? Then what are you hoping to do?" Hermione asked. "You're already that confident in your ability to change back and forth."
'For the most part, except for the occasional extra tail or ears that Luna seems fond of retaining from her unicorn form, changing forms has been fairly effortless either way. So much so that we wanted to add a little more of a challenge to it. So we studied James Potter's journal for tips on how to make the transformation back and forth with clothes on,' Harry explained.
"Now that you mention it, I see both your robes have disappeared. Won't that be a problem when you change back?" Ron asked.
'It might be. I guess we'll find out in a moment won't we?' I posed to them.
I had read what my Dad wrote about how important it was to properly visualise your human form with the same clothes you were wearing when you changed back. I had wondered if you could visualise yourself wearing something completely different and effectively end up wearing something else. This gave me an evil idea I wanted to try. It also might help me get a little payback for Harry teasing me about my ears and tail problem.
'Are you ready to give it a try, Luna?' Harry asked me.
'Yes I'm ready. But let me go first. Then you try,' I answered.
'If you insist. Ladies first,' he agreed.
I then called up the image of my human form wearing something else entirely than the conjured robe. I then willed myself to change back into my human form wearing something more revealing. Apparently Harry had the image of his human form wearing the robe ready to go as soon as I started my transformation. My change of attire seemed to have distracted Harry at a key moment because his transformation didn't quite go as planned. Instead of wearing the conjured robe I visualized myself wearing my yellow string bikini. Unfortunately for Harry due to his sudden distraction he ended up completely starkers.
"Luna! You did that on purpose!" Harry yelled, as he tried to cover his bits and ran to the changing room.
"I'm sorry, Harry," I called out as he dashed into the changing room. "I was just trying very hard not to keep my ears and tail. Wearing this was the only way I could be sure I didn't still have them," I said sweetly.
Both Ron and Hermione were trying very hard not to laugh at Harry's expense. But try as they might they weren't completely successful at containing their mirth.
It didn't take long for Harry to return wearing another conjured robe. He held a second out for me, which I put it on over my bikini.
"You know I have a hard time concentrating when you look like that," Harry grumbled as he gestured to the bikini I was wearing.
"I was only trying to make it more of a challenge for you Harry," I explained, when he knew very well that wasn't the reason.
"How did you do that Luna? You weren't wearing the bikini when you changed," Hermione asked.
"It really wasn't that difficult," I replied, taking a moment to explain both the traditional method as well as the one my dad's journal had suggested we use whilst transforming into your Animagus form while wearing clothes. "I just changed the image of my human form in my minds eye from the one wearing the robe with another one where I was wearing my yellow bikini. I had hoped by wearing it I would get Harry's attention and cause him to make a mistake. Him ending up starkers was an unexpected bonus," I smirked.
Harry was a good sport about my prank for the most part as he came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me. His right hand found it's way to my left breast, while his left had found it's way to my right breast. He gave them both a playful squeeze through the conjured robe.
"Well played, you little minx. But sometime, when you least expect it, I will have my revenge on you. And it will be swift and terrible," he assured me as he leaned his head into the nape of my neck and kissed one of my many pleasure points.
Uh oh! I was in for it now. Oh well whatever happens it was still worth it, I thought.
"I'll be looking forward to it," I said with the sexiest voice I could manage.
Ron wisely decided it was time to change the subject. "How long do you think it will take Hermione and I to master our two Animagus forms?" he asked.
"Based on the results I was seeing earlier, I think three months or less is not unrealistic," Harry offered his opinion.
"Really? That quickly?" Hermione exclaimed, surprised by Harry's answer.
"We've been practising quite a bit. It helps keep our minds off our other little problem. If you know what I mean," Ron said to us.
We did indeed understand what he meant.
"Speaking of which, how goes your other little problem?" I asked them.
"Our souls have remained stubbornly the same. Mine's still a very familiar-looking Weasley girl, while Hermione's looks like her long-lost twin brother," Ron said glumly.
"We even stopped having sex as we are now, because we think Harry could be right - that having sex like this might be working against us, instead of helping speed up our readjustment," Hermione added. "Not that sex was an unpleasant experience, it just didn't feel quite right to us."
"This is who I've always been," Ron gestured to his body. "And this is who I always thought I'd be. But after one night of pleasure in the body of a woman, I feel like a stranger in my own skin! I always liked girls. I never once thought I wanted to be one - but it's getting harder to deny what I'm feeling and how I choose to be."
"I'm sorry. I should have warned you both that this could happen - but I never would have expected either of you to take such a big step the first night you had switched forms. I underestimated how the physical change could overpower your feelings and ability to reason," Harry responded. "If you think about it, it's not surprising what happened - because Hermione didn't have a lifetime of experience of dealing with the male libido. Throw in a healthy dose of curiosity, all the unresolved sexual tension between the two of you, plus the fact that Ron also didn't have a lifetime of experience of being female. It's no wonder you ended up dancing between the sheets. I should have seen the potential danger - or that by doing the deed it might accidentally overwrite your original gender identities."
"It's not your fault Harry. You did warn us that switching forms could have some possible risks. And that one of those risks was the possibility that we might not want to change back. As I recall, we scoffed at the very notion. Yet here we are," Hermione pointed out.
"I have to agree with Hermione. Yes we were curious. Yes we were attracted to each other. We also thought this might be our only chance to see what it was like as the opposite sex. After all, we thought we would be changing back the next day," Ron added.
"We still have another week to decide what we'll do. But if we don't see any changes or start feeling differently about it, we'll probably end up switching back - only this time for good," Hermione summed up her and Ron's feelings about their dilemma.
"In the end whatever you and Ron decide we'll support you both. It doesn't matter to us - you'll both remain our best friends," I assured them. I was sure that Harry shared this sentiment.
"It rather reminds me of the dilemma I've felt about my own sexual identity," Harry added. "During the early part of my life as Luna Lovegood the difference between wizards and witches were not as obvious at first. But by the time I started attending Hogwarts my body had started to change in ways that only happen to witches. Sure, I was growing taller - but that wasn't what troubled me. It was the other changes that seemed at odds with my own self image. And as the next few years progressed these changes continued, sometimes to my considerable dismay. Not that I hated being a witch - there just seemed something about it that felt wrong. It wasn't until my third year that for the first time in my life I found myself happy that I was born a witch. Because I found myself drawn to a dark-haired, green-eyed wizard. I - like many others - had followed the exploits of this young wizard, as year after year he was drawn into yet another unbelievable adventure. How at times the school seemed to almost worship him, while at other times they outright vilified him. My third year at Hogwarts was an excellent example of this behaviour by both the staff and students. At first they thought him a rule breaking attention seeking fool who had entered the Tri-Wizard tournament for fame and glory. But at the time the thing that surprised me the most was that his closest friend seemed to believe it as well," Harry said, not really assigning guilt or blame just offing his point of view.
It was at this point I noticed Ron and Hermione looked a little ashamed. Ron more so than Hermione. I had long since forgiven him. Even I had to admit it was pretty hard to believe that I hadn't entered myself, but it still hurt when he didn't believe me even when I told him I hadn't.
"Everything I had observed about the original Harry said the exact opposite about him, compared to what many of the pupils were whispering. Eventually as the contest went on things slowly improved for him, but then at the end of the third task Cedric was murdered. The Magical world once again turned on him, not believing that Voldemort had arisen once more. This carried on through the next year where Harry continued to be shunned and vilified by the Ministry, the Daily Prophet, and a large part of the student body." Harry paused, and then continued.
"It was during this time that I had finally became brave enough to actually interact with him. I had been given an opening at the beginning of the year when we shared a carriage on the Hogwarts Express. Since then I took every opportunity to talk to him, and I realised that my interest in him was to be more than just friends. Yet I would have to settle for friends for now and see what might develop later. But if anything meaningful was ever going to happen between us, he'd have to be able to see past my defences. But I was confident if anyone could do it, I somehow knew it would be him," Harry briefly turned my way with a look of affection as he continued his tale.
I felt myself turning pink at Harry's praise.
"I had little choice but to continue watching him as he suffered through his worst year yet. But when Dumbledore's Army was formed I again saw it as another opportunity to interact with him. I worked very hard at mastering every spell he taught us but the one I worked hardest at was the Patronus charm. I wanted more than anything to be able to summon a corporeal Patronus just like him - and his praise of my accomplishment made all the time I spent working on it more than worth it. So later in the year when he was determined to rescue his godfather at the Ministry I too insisted on going along with him and our other friends. Unfortunately it was a trap but he didn't give up and played the hand he'd been dealt better than anyone. All the while his only concern was to get the rest of us out safely."
Harry dipped his head. "As you all know, we all lived - but that night cost the original Harry the very person he was trying to save. None of the setbacks he had faced till then came even close to the loss of his godfather. I could see that the guilt he felt was crushing his spirit. So I reached out to him again, I too felt an incredible guilt over my inability to help my mother. But I knew deep down there was nothing I could have done. And so for the first time I shared my loss with another, as I tried to comfort him over the death of his beloved godfather. I did so by telling him that when we lose someone we love, that they aren't gone, not really. As long as we remember them, they live on through us and that someday we'll see them again. Much to my surprise he later told me that my words helped him more than anything else at the time. That he was ready to give up right then and there, but somehow my words had managed to pull him back from the edge."
It was true, I was ready to give up at the time. But somehow Luna found the right things to say to help me through it all - and I would be forever grateful to her because of that.
"The one good thing that came of all of this was there was no denying that Voldemort had returned," Harry resumed relating his memories. "So by the time next year started the Magical World and student body at Hogwarts was ready to worship him again. With whispers of him being the CHOSEN ONE. But none of that mattered to me such titles were meaningless. The highs and lows for me that year were one and the same, being asked to be his date to Slughorn's Christmas party had me soaring to unbelievable flights of fancy. Was he really interested in me as a girl? I know he had said it was just as friends, but to even ask was the first real indication that he was taking notice of me. So for the first time in my life I actually tried to look like one, I brushed my hair, put on a little cosmetics and wore a dress. At first I thought I saw some interest from Harry. Then it was quickly swept aside like he shouldn't be having those kind of thoughts about his friend - that would be wrong of him. He had a mission - and he didn't have time for girls, his plate was full. He was sweet and nice but he didn't dare let things go farther than what he had spelled out at the beginning. Oh, how I wished he would have overstepped the boundaries of our friendship! But it wasn't meant to be, the feeling I got at the time was he would never cross that line with me."
"And so the die was cast, it was foolish to think there could ever be more between us. By the end of the year he suffered yet another loss, this time it was his mentor Professor Dumbledore. I think this loss hit him just as hard as his godfather's death. But this time his desire for revenge against Professor Snape kept him going."
He was right my desire for revenge had forestalled the guilt I felt at the time over Professor Dumbledore's death. But that guilt would return in spades, especially when I found out Professor Snape's true role in what happened.
"When the next year started Harry and the two of you didn't return to Hogwarts. The rumour mill said you were all on a secret mission that Dumbledore had given you before his death," Harry continued.
"Yet the Hogwarts we returned to was a different place, a darker place. So Neville, Ginny and I tried to carry on the good fight against that darkness. I felt I was doing my part to fight back evil like my father was with the Quibbler against the puppet Ministry. But on my return trip home for the holidays, I was taken off the train and imprisoned to be used as leverage against my father and his paper. Eventually I would be rescued along with my fellow prisoners but once again there was a cost, this time the ultimate price was paid by Dobby. And once again the one I had long since fell in love with suffered yet another loss."
"And after Shell Cottage, we had to break into Gringotts to track down another Horcrux," Ron added.
Harry nodded. "It wouldn't be until the final Battle of Hogwarts that I would see you all again. And among the chaos I was once again able to assist by indirectly helping you three to locate the Ravenclaw diadem. By the time the ceasefire arrived with the demand that Harry turn himself over to Voldemort, many more lives had been lost. I had little doubt he would do it if he thought it would save the rest of us. Of course he assured us that he wouldn't do anything foolish. But most of us had no idea that to defeat Voldemort once and for all he would have to let the Dark Lord kill him again. Later he told me that he fully expected to die but that his death would give everyone the same protection his Mum's sacrifice had given him.
"Of course none of us knew any of this or that Harry had survived the Killing curse a second time. All I saw was the body of the one person I loved most at the feet of Voldemort. I had long since given up any illusions that he and I might ever be together but at the same time I knew my only reason for continuing was now gone. So when the fighting re-started, I noticed Harry's body had disappeared - then I saw him reappear from under his cloak to challenged Voldemort directly. I was so relieved to see Harry alive! And as you three know, Voldemort fell - and the Magical World bestowed yet another title on Harry. He was now the Saviour of Magical World."
I truly hated both the praise and the new title but what else could I do, I thought
"One would think this was a great relief for Harry - but not so. Now that it was done, Harry was burdened by the guilt over those who died during this second reign of terror. It was the ones who gave their lives to protect and help him succeed, which weighed heaviest on him. I watched as the pressure grew, causing him to withdraw from the Magical World more and more. I had at many times noticed how he hated being Harry Potter, but never more so than then," Harry remarked sadly.
He was right. I don't know what would have happened if an alternative wasn't offered - but there was little doubt I was heading in a bad direction.
"So when he didn't get back together with Ginny I saw a possible solution to both our problems. I had pretty much given up on him and I becoming a couple by this stage. Because of this there was no reason for me to remain a witch any longer, so I began looking for ways to fix that," Harry related to us. "Through my research I discovered a technique where it was possible using potions and transfiguration to remove the Y chromosome from a wizard, and then duplicating the X chromosome - making it possible to change a wizard into a witch. And that using a similar method you could also remove one of the X chromosomes from a witch. But you couldn't create a Y chromosome from nothing, or transfigure an X chromosome into a Y. Because of this problem you couldn't change a witch into a true wizard. So I looked elsewhere for an answer. The next promising line of research was the Polyjuice potion, which could for at least an hour seem to change a person's gender. After a lot of research on how exactly the potion worked, I concluded that the hair or finger nails were clearly providing the new genetic information needed to create the different shape. This new form could be maintained longer than an hour with repeated doses of potion with that same genetic sample. But once stopped you would then return to your original form. It was also well known that partial animal transformations were possible - and those changes didn't wear off even after an hour, and could become permanent if not reversed soon enough."
Again, I thought about what happened to Hermione in our second year with the accidental use of a cat hair and the Polyjuice potion. We were lucky to get help quickly for her. But even then it would be weeks before she was returned to normal.
"This opened up a new line of research, and I began to theorize if there was some other way to make the change last longer than the usual hour. As you guys know by now, after saving for two years I had enough money to buy all the ingredients for the Polyjuice potion. I would then spend the next month brewing a large batch of it. I then successfully changed myself into Padma Patil for more than an hour, using the method with the Polyjuice that I came up with! So now I could help give Harry a break from being Harry. But it would all depend on whether I'd be able to convince him he was better off being a witch."
It's amazing just how well my other half read me like a book, I'd have been willing to do almost anything not to be Harry Potter. I was even willing to do something as crazy as to switch places with Luna. Looking back, it sounded completely absurd, yet it was probably just what I needed at the time.
"I now had to somehow gain Harry's attention." The new Harry smirked. "I knew he had the Marauders map and was using it regularly to avoid other people. I also knew enough about human nature to know that if he continued to see me in a room by myself, he would eventually come and investigate what I was doing. So I decided to use the same unused classroom over and over to conduct my Polyjuice experiments until he eventually checked up on me. That's when I would use my Polyjuice theory as an excuse to persuade him to switch places. I hoped that Harry would just choose to help me. But if that wasn't enough I was also counting on his unspoken desire not to be Harry Potter, as well as a little curiosity about what it was like to be the opposite sex. In the end all those factors together added up to him willingly agreeing to give it a try. If I played my cards right with Harry, this whole experience might eventually translate into a desire to switch places with me permanently. Or at the very least, help lead us in a direction where we could eventually be more than just friends. Now that I look back on it, it still amazes me just how well it all worked out. It's like everything happened for a reason. I was born a witch so that when Harry finished his appointed task, I was there to offer him another life."
"Are you sure that you're not just rationalising the things you did to get the results you wanted?" Hermione questioned Harry.
"I guess it might seem that way, but I prefer to think of my actions as trying to make a strong case for what I thought was truly best for both of us. In the end it was always up to him if the change would be permanent or not," Harry answered.
"It was pretty obvious what Harry wanted to happen from the very start. I don't feel I was tricked at all, except for the original reason we switched in the first place. Since he knew very well that it would work, after successfully changing into Padma. But he admitted that fairly early on, when we were starting to think seriously about making the change permanent. Then, and at every step of the decision making process, Harry always made it clear that it was up to me," I added.
"I needed to know it would work and that we'd be able to revert back to our original forms. I couldn't very well ask him to switch places if we wouldn't be able to change back again. Besides, if something didn't happen to change things for him, I was afraid we might lose him. Because it was pretty obvious to me he was deeply unhappy and in need of a new direction," Harry explained to Hermione.
Harry had a point. I'm not sure what would have happened to me if I hadn't taken the original Luna up on the offer to switch places. But I was definitely in a guilt-ridden spiral that was slowly getting worse. Would it have drove me to - dare I even think it – take my own life? I can't imagine it would ever come to that, but in some of my more darker moments...who can say what might have happened.
"No. You're both right. We were all worried sick about Harry at the time. But we didn't know how to help him, when he continued to withdraw from us and the world in general," Hermione agreed.
"I can say that from personal experience, I have never felt more powerless than I did then. To be unable to help my best mate through his time of great difficulty was just awful. Thank Merlin you were there to help him again!" Ron exclaimed. "The difference is night and day, I haven't seen him - or rather, her, now - this happy in years," Ron added.
"I appreciate everyone's concern, but that part of my life is over. I don't really want to spend anymore time looking back, I want to move forward," I summoned up my feelings. "This new life has given me hope again, as well as a new perspective to see things from - and I plan on making the most of it."
"Well said, sweetheart," Harry responded as he came up behind me, taking me in his arms and kissing the top of my head.
"So enough reminiscing, let's get back to practising our Animagus transformations - or we won't get anything more done," I said, ending the subject for now.
And with that said we all got back to working on our transformations. Ron and Hermione began changing various body parts into their Kneazle equivalents. While Harry and I continued to practice transforming back and forth with our conjured robes on. Harry had a lot more luck without me trying to distract him and easily completed the change several times. Eventually we needed to take a break and it was about lunchtime in the Great Hall. But none of us wanted to stop while we were actually making good progress. So I suggested that we have Kreacher arrange for us to have lunch there in the Room of Requirement. Everyone agreed, and so I called Kreacher to have our lunch brought to us. I'm sure it was the same as what was being served in the Great Hall. But it did the trick, and once we were full and rested we went right back to work. I was starting to get a little bored with practising the same thing over and over again. And thought I should try something a little different. The next time I was ready to change back into my human form I would visualise myself wearing something very different than the conjured robe. I took a moment to concentrate on the dress I saw on one of my room-mate's fashion magazines. If I could pull this off it would be nothing short of amazing. I then willed myself to change back into my human form wearing an exact copy of the wedding dress on the cover.
It worked! I thought, as I looked over the dress I was now wearing.
The style of the dress was an off-the-shoulder type of gown that sat just below my shoulders and is held up by the bodice. The fabric I think is called Chiffon – a lightweight, flowing sheer fabric with a full skirt that was fitted to the bodice. It also had a dropped waistline that dipped below my natural one, making it sit more on my hips.
"Harry, when are you going to make an honest woman out of me?" I asked him.
Without missing a beat Harry transformed back as well, but he was now wearing a black Tuxedo.
"You know very well why, it hasn't even been a month since we officially started dating. People would no doubt think you have bewitched me into marrying you," he retorted, never taking his eyes off me.
"Spoilsport!" I said sticking my tongue out at him, trying to sound like I was pouting a little.
"Oh, I wish I had a camera!" Hermione interrupted. "You're going to make a very beautiful bride one day, Luna!" she gushed, coming over for a closer look.
"It's just as well you don't have one. Can you imagine what people would say if they saw this?" Ron asked. "The rumour mill is already working overtime about them and their love life. Pictures of this would send it right over the edge."
"Us not marrying yet is unfortunately a necessary evil, sweetheart. Unless you want to reveal that we're soul-mates," Harry continued.
"I tell you what's evil Harry," as I leaned over and whispered in his ear. "There's nothing but a VERY naked me under this dress."
I heard him give a groan of frustration at the image I just gave him. The sort of groan that I would have made, when I had been Harry. "Luuunnnaaa!"
It was hard to believe what a tease I had become in such a short amount of time. But part of me just loved that I could get such a reaction out of Harry. The fact that he wanted me as much as I wanted him was very reassuring.
"Let's see what else you got, Harry," I continued to teased him as I changed back into Moonlight. Then back into my human form wearing the classic Muggle interpretation of a witch with a black dress and pointed hat. The effect didn't quite work since I wasn't green faced or an old hag.
Harry followed suit and transformed back into Midnight, then back to his human form wearing a robe, pointed hat and fake beard making himself look like Merlin himself!
"I guess if people are going to treat me like the second coming of Merlin, I ought to practice looking like him," Harry smirked back at me.
I laughed and pointed at him. "Good one Harry!"
Not wanting to be outdone by Harry, I quickly transformed back into my Unicorn form and recalled a magazine that Dudley had left at the park near Privet Drive, it showed a very shapely blond woman on the cover with the classic Playboy bunny-girl outfit with the fake ears, tail, high-heels and stockings. I imagined my human self wearing such a costume then willed myself to change back.
"Beat this, Harry!" I said with a sexy grin and struck a provocative pose.
Again he was momentarily stunned by what he was seeing before his brain finally re-engaged
"If you expect me to out-sexy you, I'm afraid I'm going to come up short," Harry retorted yet he continued to look intently at what I was wearing.
"I can assure you that you'll never come up short where it really counts, Harry," I said suggestively.
"That's good to know," he added with a smug grin.
"Stop it! That's way too much information!" Ron wailed, putting both hands over his ears.
"Sorry Ron. I guess we were getting a little carried away trying to out do each other," I apologised.
I quickly changed back into Moonlight then back into my human form wearing the conjured robe.
I couldn't believe how bold I was getting as Luna, I never would have gone that far if I wasn't so caught up in the moment.
By this time it was getting late - it would soon be time for dinner in the Great Hall. So we all decide to call it a day for now, as Harry and I changed back into our regular clothes in the same room we used earlier. Once finished, the four of us made our way down to the Great Hall for dinner.
After our latest Animagus practice session I felt we would be more than ready to use our second dose of the 24 hour potion by next weekend. I wonder what it will be like to be a Phoenix. At the very least I was really looking forward to being able to fly without a broom.
(To be continued)
Beta reader / Proof reader / Helpful edits gratefully provided by Ravenclaw Midnight Blue!
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Or whatever Holiday you and your family celebrate!
Here is your present! I hope you enjoy it! It's a little shorter than usual.
Yeah it was a bit of fluff this chapter. I didn't intend for it to be but that's how it turned out.
I continue to be surprised at the unexpected directions this story sometimes takes.
While it's true many things in this story are planned in a rough out-line, several were not.
As usual I'm not very happy with this latest chapter. But then I'm always my own worst critic.
Thanks to Ravenclaw Midnight Blue's edits and suggestions they always make it better than it would have been.
Well on to chapter 22, hope to see you there. And thanks for reading!