Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any associated characters.
A/N: Welcome to the fifth chapter of Loopy Lovegood
Chapter 5: Sleepless
All round there were people yelling in anger or screaming in pain. The sounds close and yet so distant. The world seemed muted. The pandemonium around her did not matter; nothing mattered now, not anymore.
She had done it, what she was supposed to do, what she needed to do, what she had to do, for her friends.
Now it could all end. She turned and took a step towards the middle of the great hall she had to find him. It was time.
Adrenalin wearing off, the second step caused her much pain, as the burn on her left side got jarred. It felt like the fire was still burning her, the pain sharpening the world for a moment before the light haze seemed to fall over her senses again.
The third step took her to the small form of someone she knew well. Her childhood friend later estranged only to reconnect after they started school and they had been like sisters since. The red hair splayed on the roughly hewn stone, matted with blood. The brown eyes open staring into nothingness, glassy and devoid of life.
On the fourth step the wound trailing along her collarbone reopened, a trickle of blood seeping down to join the Gryffindor Red on her robes, soaking one of the only spots on her robes that was not already soaked in it.
The blood, she was now acutely aware of it, how her robe and her clothes were soaked through with it, and as she took the fifth step towards the middle, she briefly wondered if the majority of the blood was her own.
She was starting to freeze, even though it was warm in the hall, despair was setting in, she had to find him and quick. The sixth step finally brought him into view. The boy-who-live, the moniker was seemed to follow him everywhere she knew he hated it. It wasn't fitting for one such as him, there was a word, a name, that fit him better, Hero. Her first year at Hogwarts had been terrible. Starting as the same time as her estranged friend, so many intense arguments in their first year, many about the diary her former friend seemed to carry everywhere. After the hero had slain the basilisk and the diary, Ginny had turned to her, and she suddenly had a friend again. The after summer they returned to school. The Hero and his friends had adopted both of them into their group as their little sisters. The trio, the overprotective git, the girl so smart she intimidated most teachers and boy-who-coudn't-stop-saving-people. She had been so lonely after the death of her mother, so she clung to their friendships with all her might.
The day came, this day, the day to end all days. She would do anything for her friends, and she had. She had done her part the snake, the serpent, the monster, the horcrux was dead. Her part was done, now it was time for the Hero, time to end the story, so the survivors could live happily ever after.
On her seventh step, she called out. "Harry, it is dead!" Her light voice cutting through the noise of the ongoing battle with ease. Harry caught her eyes and gave her a solemn nod, before turning towards his opponent. The hall fell silent as everyone turned towards the pale snakelike man in the black robes as he raised his wand.
She just smiled, the snake wouldn't win, the Hero would, just like she had conquered her snake, he would conquer his.
The eighth step saw the liquid fire she had been feeling in her right arm for the last ten minutes reach her chest. She looked at her arm, blood trailing down it, over her hand, down her slim fingers and dripping onto the floor. The puncture marks on her arm an angry red where it wasn't covered with blood. She was feeling tired, she had done her job, surely the fates could spare her some rest, yes so very tired.
The ninth step and her heart beat one last loud thud in her chest, and she fell to the floor.
Nine steps to save the world, nine steps to the end of the world.
Luna jolted awake, she was vaguely aware that someone was screaming. Several seconds later, she realized that she was the one screaming and promptly stopped. She sat up and drew her knees to in to hug them against herself under her nightgown. Shaking and bathed in cold swear. She hated the nightmares, it was always that one, and always on the second night of a loop. She wasn't sure if she had the nightmare the first night of a loop, as that was more passing out from exhaustion than sleeping. Frowning as she recalled the nightmare, it stopped later than it had before, she had felt her body shutting down, pain until the very end. Where it had felt like going to sleep, peaceful and then the smell of grass?
Her line of thought was interrupted as the door slammed open; Harry was standing in the hall, eyes scanning her room for threats. Luna could feel the raw magic rolling off her friend. Typical of him, Gryffindor to the end, didn't matter if he had no wand, if there was a threat he would respond in kind. The lack of a wand certainly hadn't stopped him in his second year against the Basilisk.
He stood tense for a few moments, coiled and ready to spring into action. The tension slowly ebbed, when he was sure there were no threats in the room and he walked closer to her.
Luna pressed her face into her knees; the soft fabric of her nightgown absorbing traces of the tears that had escaped her as she had sat, for the admittedly very few moments it had taken Harry to find his shining armor before charging off to rescue the damsel in distress.
Luna's room was bathed in a soft silver light from the ceiling, which had been painted with magical luminescent paint. It would emit the glow at night if all the people in the room had their eyes open. The paint didn't actually see if the people had their eyes open or closed, but was instead based off the intent of the people in the room. It had taken Luna a while to learn how to allow the paint to read her intent. Her mind was so well protected that nothing could get a read off her.
She saw Harry's brow knit in worry as he approached her bed. A surprisingly soft voice, barely more than a whisper. "Luna, are you okay? I heard screaming."
She would have to congratulate Hermione next time she saw her. Pinocchio had made some good progress on becoming a real boy. Apparently those months just Hermione and Harry in the tent had done the boy a lot of good in making progress to actually express feelings and show how concerned he actually was.
Growing up as he had, most would assume that Harry would be emotionally stunted. They would be partially right, it was however not that Harry couldn't feel or didn't know what feelings were. However, the boy had never learned to express them properly. Which in general lead to a lot of brooding, about positive and negative emotions alike.
Letting out a sigh, Luna straightened a little, while still hugging her knees to herself. She glanced at the bed next to her, inviting Harry to sit down. He would never have done such a thing on his own, but as she looked back to harry she could see he had already moved to do just that. It made her both happy and melancholic at the same time, for several different reasons. Apparently, Ronald was a bad influence on Harry, something that she had never considered; Harry wasn't as closed off as he had been in his previous instances. It made her happy for Harry, but sad that Ronald who had been like the big brother she never had, perhaps wasn't good for someone like Harry.
Harry on the other hand was the same and again different, Luna was having a hard time describing it. The boy now sitting next to her was Harry, with all his... Harryness. The strange half-smiles, his body language were almost the same. He was however not the Harry she had met the first time around, she had been a friend of this Harry for three years. It had been strange over all those years she had experienced things again and again, meeting all those versions of Harry, how they differed from what she had been calling the real Harry. The original Harry who for all his strengths and faults had like Ronald been her surrogate big brother.
The Harry that was sitting here was now the real Harry, he and Hermione had somehow managed to follow her over the reset of everything and was now there for her. A tear rolled down her cheek, unlike the previous ones from the pain and loss she would experience again and again, this was one of happiness.
She glanced at Harry, he was frowning as usual, and it was funny to watch how that never changed. She should probably answer him before he worked himself into thinking he was the cause of everything as he was wont to do and then start brooding.
"Had a nightmare." Harry just looked at her, the sympathy painted on the softening features of his face, if anyone could understand nightmares it was Harry.
"It is fine now; I was just reliving something unpleasant." A pregnant pause fell between them for a moment. "I'm sorry for waking you."
Harry just shook his head. "You didn't, I couldn't sleep. Think your dad left the doors to our rooms slightly ajar."
Luna smiled that did sound like something daddy would do, she was a little surprised that he hadn't come running, but since he had been busy with everything Harry all day, perhaps he was still in his study working on Quibbler related stuff.
It was a nice try but Harry wasn't going to get away with that. "So why exactly weren't you sleeping?"
The boy next to her froze and for half a minute didn't say anything until he finally relented. "It's just too much; we're given a chance to make everything right. It just seems like an insurmountable task. Ron, Cedric, Sirius and I could keep mentioning names. All dead, we have the chance to change everything, but can we? What if we're just here to push the proverbial rock up the hill only to have it roll down again?"
Luna just looked at him with a sad expression. "You know, I had given up at one point, I was content to just let thing unfold, but I saw the result of what happened when I didn't try, and it scared me. I promised myself that I would try every time, because the alternative of not doing anything and Magical Britain descending into civil war is too scary a prospect if that one time where you don't do anything turns out to be what breaks the cycle. I would rather keep trying to save people. I want to tell both you and Hermione about some of the things I've tried. It will be a while before I can tell the two of you everything though; I still need to sort everything out for myself and what it means that I'm no longer doing it alone."
Harry just nodded. "Hermione and I are now here with you, so you are no longer alone, and with time I hope you can trust us with things like the two of us trust you."
Luna smiled. "I do trust you, but still it is hard for me, and not just reliving all the bad stuff that has happened. It is also in part coming to terms with the two of you and who you are. We have known each other for three years, but I have known you a lot longer and you have been all over the place as a person in my memories. I tried to interfere directly once; you saw the memory with the swing. Having someone else fight all your battles for you didn't make you a nice person. I decided to try to other way around as well, and became your antagonist for five years in trying to toughen you up to do what would be needed to end it all."
Luna paused, trying to put together the words for the next bit of her ranting. "I know you and Hermione, but I also have all these memories that are also you, but not the you that are here now. It is going to take me awhile to sort these memories from each other, the you you and the other you, so I am sure of whom you are now and not the cumulative Harry Potter and Hermione Granger that I have met again and again over the years."
Harry nodded, "I understand." A cheeky grin spread across his face. "Or at least I think I do, you might want to run that one by Hermione as well just to make sure I understood it correctly."
Luna grinned; it was nice not to be alone. "As for all the other things you're worrying about, push them aside for now, worrying doesn't solve anything, besides worry about something, anything without talking to Hermione first is a waste of time. Until we sit down and have a nice long talk about everything, there is no reason to get your knickers in a twist. Now it is time to get some sleep. Good night Harry." As she ushered him out of her room.
Luna crawled under her covers, closed her eyes and retreated into her mind.
She drifted back through her memories of the day, until she found the three of them walking side by side after the shopping trip. Pulling a copy of the image out from the memory, she placed it at the house that looked like a rook in the meadow of her mindscape. The memory of their day was then put inside the avatar she had created. Placing her hands on the image of them she changed it with power, the effect was immediate. The Harry and Hermione of today felt more like the real ones to her, and she set off hunting after more memories of her two friends to fill the avatar. She only managed a couple more before the trance finally gave way to sleep.
In another part of England, another child had trouble sleeping. Unlike her fellow time travelers, this was however not due to something negative, but rather due to excitement. Hermione was sitting at the desk in her room, sheets of paper were spread out around her and she was twirling a mechanical pencil between her fingers. On the papers were various half-finished lists, she did so like her lists. Her neat and small scrawl was even smaller than normal due to the accurate nature of a mechanical pencil and its obvious advantages over quills and ink. In general, it was a superior writing tool and Hermione was wondering why she had not used them. She quickly concluded that it was because she had so wanted to fit in, but she never really had. She would have to ask Professor McGonagall on Sunday, what the rules and regulations for writing tools were, she could not recall ever seen anything on it. If there were no regulations about it, she would rather use a mechanical pencil.
Ink blots had been the bane of her existence for the first three years until she finally mastered Scourgify the cleaning charm was one of the harder ones on the OWLs, not because of the magic requirement, the charm itself was easy in all it had a simple arithmetic formulae and was easy on power requirement. The hard part of the spell was that it traded simplicity for a larger mental component, and required a certain amount of focus. Vanishing the ink blots without the proper focus or if you didn't know exactly what was written under the blot would lead to a blank area of the paper, cleaning off the blot without remembering exactly what was under it would lead to it being cleaned as well. Back in her third year she had seen a seventh year, which in her hurry and stress about the NEWTs had cleaned all the ink off her paper and had broken down crying afterwards. Hermione while having an incredible memory also had to combat her mind from continuing on with the essay in her head while she was casting the spell and it had lead to a few empty spaces on her essays over the years.
Getting back to the matter at hand, Hermione was currently working on two issues close to her heart. The heading that topped the paper in front of her was "Things to learn". It was what had her too excited to sleep, they had another seven years of school. To say Hermione was a little excited about learning was like saying water was a little damp. During her third year with the Time-turner she reveled in having so much time for her studies, even when it had her run ragged. That had improved after she had dropped Divination, on request by Harry who had been concerned about it and asked her the day after she had cried herself to sleep over snapping at him and being particular nasty. The upside to this was that she had more time to enjoy studying with Harry, spending more time on the two classes she had convinced him to switch to during the summer when they met at the Leaky Cauldron.
She briefly wondered if she could get another time-turner, if she signed up for all the classes again. It might not work when they were sorted into Ravenclaw, it was obvious that time-turners were not something that was just handed out and Hermione suspected Professor McGonagall might have pulled some strings specifically for her. Still, it was something to look into, especially since she had already had the classes before and only really needed to be present for class as she could remember her turned in assignments verbatim. That meant she could use the time for learning other things, or work on other projects with the extra time as she glanced at the paper to the right of the one she was working on, and so she added Time-turners to the another list she had been working on earlier with useful things.
Tapping her pencil to her lip while she was pondering things for the list, she cringed when an unbidden memory surfaced of her doing exactly that in Hogwarts, but with the business end of a quill and her embarrassing scramble to clean herself before anyone noticed. Tapping things that contained ink on her face was a terrible habit, so she had slowly conditioned herself to instead nibble or downright bite her lower lip when she was concentrating.
Her mind was flooded with topics that could be interesting to study, but she was trying to pick a few specific ones after all, there was no reason to make plans beyond the next seven years just yet, and so a limited array of topics would be the best thing to focus on. Considering the trouble Harry had with Occlumency and still was not in any way proficient with it, Hermione had no illusions about the topic being one that they would be working on for a long time. Harry was incredibly gifted at magic and if it took him a long time to get it, it probably would do so for her as well. Harry was faster than her at learning things you could not read your way to. It had been their dynamic for the last five years; they worked to cover the other's weakness. Like Harry teaching her how to cast a corporeal patronus or her teaching Harry advanced transfiguration and conjuration.
Luna was the one that had told them that she would be teaching them to protect their minds and possibly reading others. So Occlumency/Legilimency was the first point on the list, she had made some space under it for other topics Luna wanted them to work on over the summer, she had not told them exactly what they would be working on, merely stating that it would take a few days of preparation before they could be introduced to the topic. For now they should just trying to think of all the things that had happened since they woke, just walking through the day before they went to sleep and making sure to recall as many details as possible.
A desire won out over all the many ideas that had floated around. It was the topic she had been the most anxious to learn out of all, she had pushed the topic to the back of her mind the first time around as it was supposedly something that required a lot of time and not everyone could actually do it. With the possibility of more repeats, or even just the fact that they now had seven years advantage she would now have the time to explore the topic, that had fascinated her so much since they first day she had been introduced to the world of magic.
Hermione wrote down the single word that summed just how incredible the world of magic was. Animagus.
She shivered at the thought, she was not sure if there were any limitations on what you could become, but she had always dreamed of becoming a large cat, something proud, like a Lioness. Glancing at the paper to the right once more, 'and Harry?' Hermione thought a large cat suited him as well, gleaming green eyes and black fur. A wistful sigh escaped her, the image of the Lioness and the Panther standing next to each other was a powerful one. She shook her head to clear the image away, with her luck she probably would not even be able to become tabby cat, much less a lioness.
She decided to add another topic that had fascinated her; it had not been something she had wanted for quite as long as being able to turn into an animal, but it was a topic she had started on a little before they had to leave everything behind to hunt the horcruxes. Spellcreation.
That would have to do for now, just a glance at the other paper and she would have to get some sleep. If she were tired for a day of school, it would raise too many questions. The letter from Hogwarts would arrive tomorrow as well so she had to be super excited all evening and bounce around pretending to cast spells.
Stacking all the lists she had been working on to put them away somewhere her mother would not stumble on while cleaning, she looked at the list she placed on top, the list that had been lying to her right all evening. The one she could not stop looking at and smile.
It had a simple title, reading simply. "Harry Potter" It was a short list of topics that she needed to work on, if she managed the points on it, things should hopefully progress as she wanted them to on their own.
The first bullet point was something she had already been working on hard, and had made "some" progress on, but the time rest complicated things and she was afraid that all progress on the front was lost and she would have to start over. "Convince Harry that I do have feelings for him, and that it is okay that he returns them."
The second bullet was a continuation of the first. "Convince Harry that nothing would ever be able to ruin the friendship between us."
The first one was hard to overcome because her opponent was Harry's doubt in himself. Living with the Dursleys all those years had convinced the boy that he was not worth loving. He had realized that he could be loved thankfully, but making him stop pushing people away because he felt he was not worth of the love and that people would be better off without him was going to take a long time.
While the second topic had been broached during their year in close proximity, they had grown increasingly close over the years, but the time in the tent had brought them as close as they could be without actually being in a relationship. The fact that they were now children again did put a crimp on attempts to resume that and move it onwards to where Hermione had been wishing their relationship had been for the last six years.
She glanced at the paper once more before picking up the stack and hiding it, clicking on her mechanical pencil she scribbled another point onto it at the bottom of the paper, the ultimate goal, the one she would work towards.
Tell him you love him.
She underlined it a few times then bit her lip and added. Preferably without your tongue tripping over your brain.
After hiding the papers, she slipped under the covers and drifted off to sleep.
In the other end of the United Kingdom, a castle hidden in the Scottish Lowlands laid quiet, its halls and corridors empty of the life that it bustled with during the day. A single office in the castle was still lit. The venerable Wizard Albus Dumbledore sat in his chair feeling old and worn. He had been spending the entire day pouring over his old tomes in the quest for old and forgotten wards. He glanced at the scrap of paper that was on the corner of his desk and bend back over the tome he had open. He would create a ward scheme who's like had not been seen since the founding of Hogwarts. He would not fail the young Potter, as he had done once before ten years ago.
He glanced once more at the scrap, picking it up gazing at the scrawl on it. The constant reminder how he failed the two young people he had hoped would one day take up his mantle and lead Magical Britain to a bright future once he had gone onto the next great adventure.
Ten years ago, the young Lily Potter had approached him to seek his aid in hiding Harry from Tom. Albus had considered the approach of protecting the Potters for a while and had come up with a solution, uniquely fitting their predicament. Lily was a charms prodigy and was one of the very few that would ever be able to cast the charm he had been taught by his good friend Nicholas. The Fidelius Charm a spell complex that it was lost in the ravages of time, while the legend of the charm had survived, the knowledge of casting it until Albus had been taught it, had been residing solely in Nicholas and Perenelle.
Albus had been immensely proud when it turned out that Lily had indeed been able to cast the charm on her home, hiding the Potters from the world.
The Fidelius Charm had a few restrictions and weaknesses that made it hard to use correctly. The biggest requirement was that only someone involved in the secret could cast the charm. Meaning only Lily or James would have been able to use the charm on their home. The other requirement that also brought an inherent weakness into play was that the secret keeper could not be directly involved in the secret.
For the Potter family that meant that it had to be Lily that casted it and it would exclude James from being the secret keeper. The two had picked their best friend as the person to guard the location of their home.
He looked at the scrap again. "The Potter family lives at Godric's Ho-" The secret had been divulged exactly as it should be for the charm. The secret keeper should never tell a person, talking brought in the chance of being overheard. Instead, the proper way to do it was to write the information that would reveal the secret down on a piece of paper and then hand it to the person that would need to know it. Once the paper had been read, it was simple to tear the paper, as long as you broke the sentence or sentences that hide the information, the magic would leave the paper and the information would no longer be useable to reveal the secret. The secret had been be witnessed in person, spying on a person through both muggle and magical mean would not have any effect, you have to read the key with your own eyes, or hear it with your own ears, which is what made the charm so efficient. Sirius Black had handed him the paper, showing him that Lily had properly informed their friend on how to handle it. This also revealed that Sirius had to have betrayed them for Voldemort to be able to find them, it was not information Voldemort could have gotten elsewhere.
Putting the scrap back on the paper Albus leaned back on his chair, his joints protesting with a dull ache. Time, it seemed, was catching up with him. It was only a few weeks ago that he turned 110. At the rate things were going he did not expect to live beyond his 125th.
If he had lived a normal life, chances are that he could have lived twice that. Magic slowed down ageing once the body was over puberty. The stronger a person was magically the more it would slow down ageing. Albus had been an exceedingly strong wizard in his youth. Through his friendship with the Flamels he had learned a few things about magic's effect on the body of wizards and witches.
He had learned about many secrets about the body, things that were normally kept closely guarded by the immortal alchemists. He had never learned how to make the Philosopher's Stone, and with reason. Albus would welcome death the day it came and go onwards to the next great adventure. He had no aspirations to live forever.
Two wars where he had been on the battlefront fighting for the light had taken its toll on his magic core and destroying much of the benefit that his strength would have provided. Albus accepted it; he had spent decades making the world a better place that was reward enough for him. It also gave him another form of immortality, he had set his mark on the world and left it changed for what was hopefully the better.
There were other ways to be immortal; many dark wizards over the time had tried to attain immortality through sacrifices and rituals.
There were also natural ways to be immortal. One which was mostly theory but also something that legend told was true of Merlin, was that a person could be so strong that he or she would never actually age once they were in their twenties. With magical potential only increasing as a soul grew older if someone had reached the turning point before twenty, they would never die of natural causes.
Albus was mulling over that theory because of when he had sensed earlier. Once a wizard or witch gained a certain amount of control over their magic they would be able suppressed their own magic and sense the magic around them. A muggle born had once explained the feeling to him, that it was like a wizard or witch went through their lives standing on a lit street looking to the sky. They would only be able to see the stars if all the streetlights was turned off.
He had used his sense to make sure that the abuse the young Potter had suffered when he was younger had not affected his magical core as it had his dear sister so many years ago. What he had found had caught him by surprise. If a normal eleven-year-old wizard was like a candle, then the young Harry was like a large bonfire. Raw untamed magic potential, he had never seen anyone with that amount of power at their disposal at that age. Equally surprising had been the young Luna, like Harry she had an incredible amount of magic, maybe even more so. However, it was calm and serene like she was in control of it completely, that amount of control in an untrained witch was frightening and her age only served to emphasize it even more.
He would have to approach the two young people with the offer of special lessons once they started in school in September. They would need to learn a great many things especially about controlling their gifts. His thoughts were not entirely altruistic. Perhaps there was still time to take on apprentices before going off to the next great adventure. With a smile on his lips, he sank back into his chair. Minutes later, he had dozed off, dreaming of being the mentor for the two children, which had the potential to be the first natural immortals since Merlin.
Wewt got that out of my system. As readers of Sister Lost might know, I have a NEED to write evening introspective scenes, this should tide me over for a while so we can get onwards with the story.
Hope the first scene wasn't too strangely written :)
Scourgify is in this story an incredibly hard spell to master, easy to learn, but hard to master. It is part of the fifth year curriculum and so Hermione of course decides to master it during her third. She teaches the spell to Neville during the fourth year, he can cast it, but if he tried to vanish an ink blot chances are he would end up like the unfortunate seventh year. It requires practice and concentration that Neville just doesn't have to use the charm that accurately.
Hermione's fantasy about her and Harry being a Lioness and a Panther is a nod to the excellent Animagus story Vox Corporis by MissAnnThropic. This story however is a time loop story and not an animagus story, so if that is what you are after you are probably going to be disappointed. That is not to say that one or more of the three doesn't become an animagus down the line, just that it will be a subplot if it happens, and not the main focus. Hermione is stubborn, so we will definitely be revisiting the topic down the line, but for now we have a lot of other things that needs to be done first.
The Fidelius Charm is harder to cast in this AU than it is in cannon; it is described there as incredibly complex, but little bumbling Arthur managed to cast it there and that made no sense. In this story at the current time only Albus and the two Flamels are capable to casting it.
The poll result is in (Has been for a while but because I'm a moron at time management and spent way too much time fiddling with the pretty bow that I have tied the timeline into I haven't had the chance to post a chapter where it is mentioned)
There will be no descriptive Quidditch matches in Loopy Lovegood. Instead the matches will be in a companion story by the name Quidditch Gone Loopy (Wow that is a terrible name, better suggestions welcome) The story will follow Harry and his team for practice and three to four matches a year (With the exception of the fourth year, however might have some pickup/friendly games lined up for that.)
NOTE: It is NOT necessary to read this companion story to follow the plot of Loopy Lovegood. If anything of significance happens during a match or practice it will also be detailed here in Loopy Lovegood.
Reviews and comments are always welcome.