Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any associated characters.
A/N: Welcome to the sixth chapter of Loopy Lovegood
Six chapters in and still introducing things: Introspection, musings and magical theory aplenty :D
I do not have any beta readers for this story so spelling and grammatical errors are unavoidable. If you find any, you are very welcome to send me a PM pointing it out.
English isn't my first language, so any corrections on that front are very welcome as well
Chapter 6: Volcanic Glass
"Wands out, d'you reckon?"
Harry sat up with a gasp, his heart thundering away in his chest. It took him a few moments to come to his senses. He looked around; sitting half reclined on Luna's bed. He must have dozed off while reading. It was late afternoon, so he hadn't been out for long, they were going to visit the Grangers after dinner.
Luna was sitting with her back to him. She were for some reason making shooing motions with her hands, as one would when trying to keep a pet away from something.
Harry got up and walked over to see exactly what she were doing, she had been hard at work on whatever it was since Sunday.
"Another nightmare? That certainly decides who gets to use this." Luna turned the black object around in her hand; checking all sides while still waving her other hand around.
It took Harry's still slight addled brain a few moments to recognize exactly what it was. The black sides of the volcanic glass were glinting in the light of the room. Light reflected off a side turning the reflection off it white, revealing tiny runes carved into the obsidian.
His estimation of the small witch in front of him went up another notch. While runes wasn't his favorite class, it was a good one, especially since it was one of the classes where they had formed permanent groups, during the first year of it. This meant that he always worked together with Hermione. Obsidian was considered one of the best materials to make ward stones and rune tablets, in theory anyways.
The black glass had fascinated Hermione, while it was in theory one of the best materials, it was close to impossible to use in reality. Getting a chunk of obsidian without impurities was hard, much less getting a piece, big enough to carve rune words into while retaining the purity. Carving into the volcanic glass was the other problem, it had a high chance of chipping at the edges of the carvings, if you managed to chip just one rune on it, the whole thing could be rendered useless.
Hermione had been spending a lot of time researching the materials commonly used for stones and tablets, hinting that there may be a connection between magic and electronics, which could revolutionize everything with the inclusion of some muggle thing or another.
He hadn't really been listening at that point. While he loved listening to Hermione, especially while ranting about something. To the point that he often spend time figuring out how to get her going on a rant about things. Something he termed Hermione baiting. She had them locked away in their own secluded corner of the library, using all their free time for two weeks on this particular little bender of swotting. At the point of Hermione had her eureka moment, he had a headache and just wanted to sleep because it was well past midnight, having hid under the cloak when the stern librarian closed down for the night. The mental picture of Hermione running naked through the street, shouting "Eureka!" was a pleasant one though.
Shaking himself from his thoughts, Harry turned his attention to his current companion. Luna had stopped with the shooing motions and was now tracing her fingers over all the runes. Seemingly satisfied with her work, she put her index finger on a rune in the middle. Black on black runes was kind of hard to make out, but Harry was certain that it was a rune commonly used for charging.
The whole lattice of runes, started to light up. Light crawling outwards from the center rune, lighting up the rune words as the magic charge infused the strings of words. Normally one would use a wand to charge runes, or in case of ward stones activate them. Harry wondered about the extent of Luna's abilities, wandless magic wasn't easy. The closest he had gotten to it himself was to project his magic to his wand in a moment of panic when the Dementors had attacked him and his cousin.
Luna admired her creation for a moment, it was flawless thankfully, and while it was not the first time, she had made it. Obsidian was fickle and sometimes one of the runes would chip. She only had that one piece of the right size, using her mom's old supplies. Her dad never went into her mum's study. Therefore, she was free to take whatever she needed in there without rousing suspicion. It had taken her years until she had entered as well. Her mum had died in there and it was associated with a bad period of her life, but unlike her dad, she now had a long time to have come to terms with her death. While he only had a year so far.
Luna turned towards Harry, suppressing a sigh. He was still looking very emaciated, the black bags under his eyes denoting an extreme lack of sleep wasn't helping either. Hopefully she could help him to quickly suppress the nightmares. It was one of the problems with the loops with memories being clearer; it was no longer something that happened occasionally, meaning that memories with strong emotions would mostly dominate ones sleep. With the amount of high stress and tumultuous situations, harry had been through, it was a wonder that he slept at all.
She grabbed the obsidian and was about to hop off the chair, it was time for dinner soon and then they would go visit Hermione, catching Harry's frown at her. "Luna, why were you waving your hand around like that?"
"Oh that was to make sure the wrackspurts would stay away while I charged the runes." Harry just nodded like it was the most natural thing in the world. Shaking her head to herself, they still didn't believe in all the magical creatures of the world it seems. Of course, it wasn't all that could see wrackspurts. "Harry, they are quite real you know. Wrackspurts."
"Uh... That is... The ones that make your head go fuzzy?"
That surprised her, while it was much easier to remember things; you still had to pay attention to be able to recall things that fast. He had been paying attention to her little comments. "Yes, they are a creature made of pure magic; they live off ambient magic and residual magic from spells. Most cannot see them, but they are everywhere. Since people with magical abilities had magic suffusing their body with a high concentration around their heads, wrackspurts flock to that area and drain a bit of the magic. With our bodies depending on the magic the effect is the same as becoming lightheaded."
Luna realized that she had never actually talked in depth about some of the things she could see with anyone besides her dad. Only that she had exaggerated things a little while in school, mentioning them as often as she could. If people thought her strange, they were less likely to question her or her knowledge about things.
"So why were you shooing them away?"
She flashed a grin at him; it had been exactly what she had been doing. "I was trying to use as little magic as possible, my wandless abilities aren't that great, and only using a little bit of magic is hard, so had to make sure they didn't interfere. If it wasn't for fear of detection it would not have been a problem but that would had flooded the room with residual magic and would have been shown as a ping of accidental magic in the ministry. Rather not show up there too often, Mafalda Hopkirk catches on fast. I got caught the first time I was learning to use wandless magic."
"So wandless magic shows up as accidental magic?" Harry frowned, recalling the issue of a certain House Elf.
"Somewhat, they can see if magic has been through a focus like a wand. The only reason they can detect it being underage magic is that our magic isn't stable until our seventeenth birthday. So it has a certain extend of chaos in it. It is one of the reason why you had to be seventeen to enter the Triwizard tournament."
A snort escaped Harry. "Yeah like that stopped me from entering."
Luna just smiled. "Yeah, but that was the idea of it, with our cores not stable yet, our spells aren't quite as reliable. In a tournament as dangerous as the Triwizard one, it was important for the contestants to be certain of their abilities. We can get around the unstable part of it with enough practice, we basically learn to compensate. Learning magic after you turn seventeen is in general much easier."
"So why do we start in school at eleven and not seventeen?"
"Because of two things, first between eleven and seventeen our bodies goes through a lot of changes, using magic and becoming accustomed to perform magic, basically makes it part of us, as part of the changes the body experiences. If you did not perform any magic during those years, you would basically be a squib once your core stabilizes."
Harry mulled over that information for a bit, he never heard anything about that and he was sure Hermione didn't either. "But I thought that squibs were like that from birth? I remember Neville being nervous about it, and almost got killed by his uncle."
"Most squibs are, but some become it because they are never enrolled. If a child never exhibits accidental magic it can be because their magic simply isn't strong enough, that is not to say that it won't become so. Many pureblood families would rather cast the child out of the family, than send them to school and it turns out that they had no magic or very little of it. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy."
Harry winced at the last word. "Oh sorry, Harry. Anyway, the other reason for the magical education is that you learn to compensate for the chaos inherent in an immature core, this ability helps when learning new magic later on where you can better accommodate for the magic needed to perform a spell."
"So what is the trace then if it cannot distinguish between wandless magic and accidental?"
"I don't rightly know no one does anymore as far as I can tell. Dumbledore might know something about it. The main part of the spell was cast back in the seventeenth century. Much of the things written about it have been lost. I do know that it was originally cast so magic could be detected and the young witch or wizard in question could be protected. Adult magic users can in general easily protect themselves. The witch hunts had a lot of young girls especially, burned at the stake before they learned enough magic to avoid capture."
Luna took a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh, the trace had been a right pain in the backside since the whole loop thing started. She never got past the age of seventeen before reset happened. Their cores were mostly stable after the loops, so that would not attract any attention but all magic was detect now as part of the statue of secrecy. Enough accidental magic would raise warning flags and then she had all the problems all over again.
"The other part of the trace is that you have a charm cast on you when you enter Hogwarts, when I say charm, it is more of a curse, but they couldn't rightly call it that. It basically feeds off the chaos in the ambient magic everyone emits. Like the main spell it will report if you cast spells outside of designated areas like the platform in Kings Cross or Hogwarts. Unlike the original spell which only reports accidental magic or if magic is witnessed by someone not already aware of magic, it reports everything."
Luna gingerly set down the obsidian ward stone and turned towards the door, it was dinnertime and they needed to eat so they could go visit Hermione. As she made her way to the door, she mentioned one last thing. "In general Mafalda is a nice person though, she is a muggleborn and have a bit of a soft spot for children, so she general lets new students get away with a bit of magic before they attend school for the first time, as long as it is nothing serious and not witnessed by others."
Harry frowned, that was not the impression he had gotten of the head of the office for Improper Use of Magic. It could wait however; he was starting to feel excited about seeing Hermione again.
It had been a hard three days; Hermione was bored out of her mind already, not to mention she missed Harry. After spending almost every single moment with him at her side not having her best friend there felt wrong. It was still hard to be home with her parents, having to hide who she was. They had received her letter Monday, and of course, her parents had been skeptical. They still arranged to meet with Professor McGonagall on Sunday as they had the first time around.
Hermione had been relieved that things were still going, as they should. She was not sure if she could deal with messing things up and not going to Hogwarts. Now that Professor McGonagall was coming is was no longer a problem, but she had been afraid of her parents dismissing the letter as a hoax. The owl had helped, having a letter delivered by owl that then waited for a reply was fairly convincing.
She let herself fall onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. She had never thought that she would find school boring. After attending Hogwarts for six years, going back to algebra and English classes had her bored out of her mind. The mystery of magic and all of its workings were infinitely more interesting. That is not to say that she was not thankful for her basic schooling, she had seen some of the people raised in magical households, struggling with even basic grammar and algebra. The first half of Arithmancy had dealt with division and percentages, both important concepts for understanding the formulae but something that most pureblood did not have even a basic grasp of its concepts.
Her lips twitched into a smile, it was probably the reason why the wizarding world left banking to Goblins and Gnomes.
She was looking forward to having the class again, once they would start having electives again. Arithmancy had been something of a competition between her and Harry. She was stronger in the theory and so faster at translating a spell into its formulae. Harry however was incredible with numbers, causing them to work in opposite directions when puzzling out a spell. Hermione would translate everything from the theory to the individual parts of the formulae, while Harry would take the parts of the theory he could easily translate and then work backwards with the gaps in between the formulae and the result and work out the missing theory, enabling his understanding of the spell.
It had made them an incredible team for group work. Because of this they had scored the highest distinction on the final project for OWL in over a century, the previous person to attain a score that high had been one Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. She had been so proud, but more importantly her parents had been proud. It had initially been hard, her parents was hidden it well, but she knew they were disappointed that she would not get a doctorate with her joining Magical Britain. Their project had been a rapport on the Patronous, proving that the spell did not depend on the power of the caster, as well as its connection to a branch of magic that was otherwise thought dark, soul magic.
They was even requested to rewrite it into a proper thesis something they spent a good few months during their sixth year on, which had then been published with a companion article in one of the leading international publications for Spellcrafters and Warders. Getting publish before eighteen was something her parents had been immensely proud of.
There had been talk of an apprenticeship for Harry and herself after Hogwarts. For a while, Hermione had been floating on a cloud. Everything she wanted out of life seemed to be happening in their sixth year. She had not been completely sure about becoming an Unspeakable, but it would have been together with Harry and once they had completed their apprenticeship, they could always go into the spellcrafting business on their own. Spellcrafting was notoriously hard and along with potion research, it was the most dangerous job in the Wizarding world.
Before she had been able to think more on it their sixth year was ending and everything went to hell. The loss of the greatest wizard in Britain hit Harry hard. The whirlwind of the attack on the wedding, their narrow escape, and then the months spent in tent had been more than enough to distract her from thoughts of the future.
Now they had a chance to do it again, she would have to convince Harry to recreate their Arithmancy project again, in case they had broken the time-loops Luna was trapped in they would need to plan.
Humming to herself, she pulled out piece of paper and started to map out what they would need to do. Even if she had to hide all her plans from her parents, it was good to map it out, if they would loop once Harry killed snakeface. There was no harm in having done those extra things to ensure the future, but if they had done nothing and they had indeed broken the loop, then they would have thrown away their future.
A small pop echoed through the quiet neighborhood, as an adult and two children materialized out of thin air. They arrived around the corner out of view from the gardens of the upscale area that the Grangers lived in; being dentists seemed to provide well for the family.
The wife of Adam Granger greeted Xenophilius. Sophie Granger was tall and statuesque in build, in some ways the counterpart to the shorter jovial man that Adam was. She was as warm and friendly as her husband was once you had gotten past the surly demeanor being called on before noon in the weekend seemed to give the man.
"Ah Xenophilius, it is good to see you, our little Hermione has been buzzing about the last few days waiting on these two." She looked to the children and smiled. "You two better go in to her, before she wears a groove in the floor. Remember, up the stairs and to the left."
Luna and Harry were already half way up the stairs before the last few words were uttered. "Well, they certainly are enthusiastic. Hermione has been talking about nothing else for the last few days." Them and magic, sighing internally at the strange owl with the strange letter they had received. She wasn't sure what to think about it. She just hoped that her daughter would not be crushed if it turned out to be a hoax.
Hermione had looked so happy the last few days about the friends that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, if she hadn't met the two young children, she would have thought it was figments of her daughters imagination, she had been so lonely the last few years that it wouldn't have been a stretch.
Between that and running around waving that little stick she had found in the garden about at things, her little daughter had seemed more alive than she had in years. Except for that incident with her husband having gone out in the garden and found a stick of his own. He had pointed it at Hermione and said "Abracadabra" She had gone white as a sheet, her daughter had never reacted like that at anything before and moments later, she was gone from the living room and hadn't even come out of her room for dinner.
Listening at the door only revealed that her little girl was crying. What had followed for the adults of the Granger residence had been the worst row in the 15 years they had been married. Sophie had been livid at her husband; her daughter had obviously believed in the letter whole-heartedly and taken Adam's stick as him insulting her. As if, the girl didn't have enough of that in school. Repeated attempts to stop the bullying had been meet with indifference from the staff, or in the cases attempts to intervene had been made, only made it worse. Any attempts to have her moved to other schools and just brought her new tormenters.
She had trouble believing how cruel children were, her daughter was quantified as a genius, and they had her take tests to prove it. How could anyone be cruel to such a bright and sweet girl? Mocking her, insulting everything about her, it had even become physical a few times. Ending in one of her tormenters being expelled. Of course, that just made things even worse as the friends of the girl, whom had been expelled, just got creative instead.
She would have to encourage the new friendship as much as possible, hopefully they could get the children together more over the school holiday. "Would you like to come in for tea?" Perhaps they could set up some playdates.
"Ah no, I am sorry, but I have to swing by the office and give the layouts to the typesetter for the next edition."
"Oh that is right, Adam did mention something about that, you are the editor of a newspaper?"
"Well it is not really a newspaper, as more a monthly magazine of zoology. I am the owner and editor. I was actually going to ask if you would allow Hermione come to visit during the weekdays of the summer holiday. I have been working from home since my wife died last year to spend as much time as possible with my daughter, and would be happy to host another child for the summer while until you have vacation of your own, think my little princess mentioned something about a trip across the pond?"
Sophie smiled that was certainly an interesting offer, not many would have the energy to corral 3 young children for weeks like that. It was certainly better than Hermione spending most of the summer with her grandparents. "Yes we mostly have our vacation during august, because that fits with the another clinic, who we trade off patients with during vacation periods."
"How about you and your family come by for dinner say Monday? And we can discuss it further with the children's input."
Sophie resisted the urge to clap her hands together as she smiled. That was perfect; she would also get to see, where the children would spend their time as well. "Certainly, where do you live? I see that you did not drive here."
"Ah I am parked a little away, my car tends to attract attention, did not want to cause any undue attention, you know how people talk in small communities such as this."
Sophie made a rather pointed stare at the royal blue Jaguar she had parked in the driveway. How could anything attract much more attention than that? How Adam had talked her into getting that car still eluded her, or how he had managed to buy that red convertible without her putting her foot down.
"Nevertheless, I do like to walk a little. Do not worry about Monday, I will provide the transportation. Shall we say Six O'clock?"
Sophie turned towards the stairs after saying goodbye to the strange man. Well he owned a magazine and from the sounds of it had his own printing press. That denoted a certain amount of wealth. The wealthy are not strange they are eccentric. That was certainly a fitting word from a man dressed like the last 25 years had not happened.
Creeping up to take a peek into her daughters room, she saw the three children sitting on the bed, the tiny blond girl was talking about something with wide arm gestures. She caught a few words, and turned towards the stairs frowning. How did that keep getting into the house? She had been away for a seminar a week, with seminar being a fancy word of a three-day sales pitch, having lost the drawing of straw with her husband. Coming home, she found those infernal movies in a set in their VHS collection. At least she had raised her daughter properly, bringing her up in the ways of space exploration, because it was indeed the final frontier. None of that silly hand waving and glowing swords, thank you very much.
Luna looked towards the door. "She is gone."
Hermione made her way off the bed, and closed it. If nothing else, the inquisitive nature of her mum was reliable. Turning towards her two friends with a smile, it was good to have them there, she had gotten the need to hug the stuffing out of Harry out of her system, now it was time to hear what Luna had planned for the rest of the holiday.
Plopping back down on the bed, she looked expectantly at the small blonde. Harry was being cheeky and just looked at her with an amused and knowing grin.
Luna rolled her eyes at the two. Then pulled out the piece of obsidian she had been working on the last few days, unwrapping the cloth around it. She set it down between them, the runes were glowing faintly charged by the high output of ambient magic from her two friends. Hermione had bend towards it and was almost touching it with her nose. Obviously recognizing it as a small ward stone, one should never touch ward stones, much less active ones without knowing exactly what is was.
Once Hermione had snapped back to reality and was now sitting smiling sheepishly at her two friends Luna started. "We have two things we must do before we start Hogwarts, they are both connected and a requirement for something I have wanted to try ever since I learned it. I learned the end result first and from that I extrapolated the other two, but learning the other two first will make things so much easier. The developers of the original technique were satisfied with their use of it and never thought through that it meant and what it could be used for."
Hermione nodded. "That does seem to be the modus operandi of the wizard world."
"Anyway, the first is the most important one, but I need to be present to get it started and it is going to take more time than we have this evening. So you cannot get started on it until next week Hermione. You two need to learn to hide your mind, and gain a semblance of control over it before we start, while Dumbledore doesn't often use Legilimency, Snape does."
Hermione grinned she had called it. "So we're learning Occlumency, Harry and I already know the basics, but without someone to test us, we won't ever be good at it."
Luna shook her head. "Not Occlumency, it is a crude and inefficient method, it is the same thing with Legilimency. I called it Mentalism for a lack of a better word. Drawing your conscious into yourself and peruse and manipulate you own mind, while you cannot change yourself, your mind will not allow you to suppress and change your personality, you can work through things or even hide your true self to others."
Harry sat wide eyed. "Like you did before Dumbledore came."
Luna nodded with a sad smile. "Frankly that was a terrible introduction to it; it was like showing you how to chisel runes with a sledge hammer instead of handing you a small chisel. With it you do not need to have shields because the parts of you, that needs protection simply isn't available to potential attackers, not to mention that it requires no effort on your part while under attack, unlike shields which require a tremendous mental effort to reinforce."
Looking at her friends to ensure they were following so far she continued. "The other part of this technique is projecting your consciousness into others, perusing their memories without ever encountering resistance. Getting started one these requires a few hours of work together, so I will start working on that with Harry the next few days, meanwhile you can get started on this." Luna gestured to the obsidian.
"Go ahead, it's safe to touch." Less than a second later Hermione had it in her hand studying the runes.
"It's a ward of some kind." She drew her finger along a runeword. "This projects a shield of some kind." She tapped another set of runes; this is made to drain magic, and is standard for most wards except that the last rune here is not denoting earth like it normally would, but rather person." She tossed it on the bed like burned as she uttered that. "It drains people's magic! What the hell Luna, stuff like that is dangerous!"
Harry almost interjected about the cursing, but at the horrified look on Hermione's face, kept his mouth shut.
Luna just started laughing. "Relax Hermione, it is nothing dangerous, if you will give me a moment I will explain what it does. Where ward stones normally work on the ambient magic of the earth. That will work off your own personal ambient magic. The more magic your are outputting the stronger shield it will put into place around your, effectively using your own magic to prevent your magic from being detected. It is a training tool." Luna cast a serious look at her two companions. "A tool that will eventually enabled you to perform wandless magic."
A/N: Woah, it certainly had been a while hasn't it.
Changing the way I update, not promising any regular updates on this, but it should be more frequent in the future.
Reviews much appreciated.