Harry's Unbirthday gift
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any HP world, and I'm not going to make any money on this drabble.
Based on an idea by Alex on the Caer Azkaban Yahoo Group (message 144124, 'Lunatic Plot Bunny, Free for Use', Nov 15, 2010)
See the A/N at the end of the chapter for more on the original post that created this tale.
– – (()) – –
"Parv! Wait!" Padma exclaimed over the sounds of students getting ready to leave for Hogsmeade.
Surprised, Parvati turned and watched as her twin sister came barreling out of the doors of Hogwarts. "Lavender, you need to go on ahead. Something's upset Padma and I need to see what it is."
Lavender nodded and headed down towards the carriages. She knew how the Patil sisters generally interacted, and Padma running after Parvati counted as an emergency. If she hurried, Lavender would be able to catch up with Sean and Dean. It would be fun to ride into the village with them.
Parvati waited for her usually serene sister to join her with an appearance of calm that she did not feel.
"Parvati, thanks…gasp… for waiting…gasp," Padma huffed when she caught up with her twin.
"Do we need to return to Hogwarts, Padma?" Parvati asked as she supported her sister.
"Yes please, sister, I need your help," Padma said as she recovered and, reaching out, she grasped Parvati's hand.
Parvati stared at their joined hands in shock, the bond Parvati and Padma shared as twins could not be considered as strong as the bond shared between the Weasley twins, but the agitation being conveyed via that bond through their joined hands concerned her. Parvati had been looking forward to this trip to Hogsmeade, but the last time Padma had been this worked up had been right after that disaster of a Yule Ball.
"Of course, sister, my time is yours, even as your time is mine," Parvati responded, acting this once as the levelheaded and calm sister, as she and Padma started back up the walk to the double doors of their school.
"What has you so worked up, Pad?" Parvati asked as she and her sister settled into some chairs in an unused classroom.
"Not what, who," Padma replied. "Lovegood."
"I've been watching as you asked, and you're correct, she's being severely bullied," Parvati said, a frown now on her face. "Talking to Professor Flitwick didn't help?"
"My Head of House," Padma started to say frostily, which surprised Parvati as her sister had almost worshiped their charms professor, "allowed me to discuss the theoretical possibility that Lovegood was being bullied. In theory, if I reported that Lovegood's dorm mates misplaced Lovegood's clothes and locked her out of the common room, he would be able to come down hard on the wrong doers."
"And in actuality?"
"In actuality, one of the ringleaders is being protected by Dumbledore, much like Dumbledore is protecting Draco Malfoy," Padma reported. "If Flitwick tried to come down on her, the punishment would be rescinded, and even worse treatment would be allowed."
"Tatti!" Parvati cursed. "What can we do?"
No one at Hogwarts knew that the Patil family felt they owed the Lovegood family several debts. Xenophilius Lovegood had gone out of his way to help a family fresh from India adjust to the barbaric customs they found in England. So when Padma discovered that Xenophilius' daughter needed help, she had felt sure it would be a way to help balance that debt. Parvati had agreed and had helped organize the evidence her sister had discovered. To be shot down this way hurt.
"You have a plan?" Parvati asked when Padma said nothing, but winced.
"I managed to speak to Lovegood herself for a moment," Padma answered obliquely. "Her idea scares me."
"It scares you?" Parvati asked confused and becoming worried.
"Lovegood has challenged me to a family honor duel using chess."
"What...? But if you lose…."
"She also mentioned that she has no intention of winning."
"… I can see Lovegood coming up with something like that, but that won't help…"
"She also suggested that you/we owe Harry Potter a bit of an ill turn for the ball, and gifting him with an added responsibility would work quite well."
Parvati's mind froze as she tried to figure that out.
"Lovegood figures Dumbledore might not protect Potter the way he protects Malfoy, but in a contest between Potter and Luna's bullies, Potter will win every time," Padma explained. "I have no idea why Lovegood would put that kind of trust either in us, or in Potter, but that's her idea."
"Hermione says Potter really is a good guy if you can keep him away from the influence of HIM," Parvati mused.
Padma needed no help knowing which of Harry's dorm mates to whom her sister was referring, the Yule ball having counted as one of the worst evenings in Padma's life.
"Still we would own Lovegood. Potter will own Lovegood. Is that what she wants?"
"Sister, I told you I needed your help. Do I do this? Would you do this?"
"Tatti!" Parvati cursed again. "We need to talk to Father."
- - (()) - -
"Luna," Padma greeted the girl. "Before we do this, I have to ask. Are you sure this is what you want?"
Luna Lovegood looked up from her Herbology assignment and smiled at the dusky girl who was actually trying to both help her and get to know her.
"Yes, Padma, I'm sure. This is the third time I've needed to do this assignment; the other copies have gone missing. I'm also missing my shoes again, and, while I enjoy going barefoot in the summer, the floors of the school are rather cold right now."
"Then let's do this before I lose my nerve."
"Why would you lose your nerve, Padma?" Luna asked as she put away her assignment.
"I'm not comfortable having that kind of control over another person, Luna, and I know Parvati is feeling much the same. And we're both worried about what Potter will do."
Luna paused and smiled an even larger smile at the girl beside her. "Thank you, Padma," Luna said simply.
"And where are you taking Loony, Patil?" asked the 7th year girls' prefect.
"I plan to beat Lovegood at chess," Padma replied with something of a sneer. "And since I don't want her to be able to complain I cheated, I plan to do it where no one will be able to distract her."
The Prefect blinked at that for a moment. It was known by the house that Padma was very good at chess, and that she also did not generally participate in the house entertainment of Lovegood bating. Beating Lovegood at chess like this could mean that Patil would not need to be watched as carefully.
"Carry on then, Patil."
"You did that very well, Padma," Luna said once they were out of the common room and on their way to Flitwick's office. "I would be shaking in my shoes if I had any."
"Luna, listen, if for any reason, any reason at all, you decide Potter isn't working out the way you feel he should, you let Parvati know, and we'll have you back under the Patil name as soon as we can."
"You mean that?"
"I do, Luna."
"It is alright, you know, Padma. Harry'll treat me better than nearly anyone, and based on what my daddy found out, I'll be able to help Harry as well."
"I really don't care if you can help Potter, I'm worried about you. I will never forgive myself if Potter treats you poorly, as it'll be partly my fault that he can."
Luna paused at that. "You're worried about me? That's nice, as I haven't had many friends, and now I know I have one."
Padma turned and waited for Luna to catch up. "I just wish I'd started being a friend earlier."
"It wouldn't have made a difference, Padma. And then you'd be suffering as well."
"My family could have made things very unpleasant for our bastard of a headmaster if had I suffered even half of what you've gone through. As it is, as soon as you're under Potter's control, my honored father will be notifying the headmaster that he is filing a complaint at the international level. Hogwarts will no longer have the clean reputation it currently has. It would've already been filed except I thought you'd be targeted if that happened."
"Won't that mean you'll be targeted instead?" Luna asked as the two continued down the halls.
"I will have a bodyguard by this time tomorrow. She is already in Hogsmeade and will show up just after breakfast, and Professor Flitwick is going to pretend he's very disappointed in me and that I need a minder."
"The Headmaster will …"
"The Headmaster will have no choice," Padma interrupted Luna. "It's a part of the International treaty that created the standardized NEWT and OWL tests. Britain signed the treaty and they drafted that part of the treaty as a way to hurt the North American Magicals Confederation, and it has never been updated."
Luna cocked her head to the side as she thought that through. "You have been planning this, Padma."
"That's the reason I wanted to wait a week, Luna," Padma said, before she continued to explain, just a bit of pride entering her voice. "And when my bodyguard reports how Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts are being taught, Hogwarts' international reputation will be in tatters."
"Cho…?" Luna asked tentatively.
"Her dishonored father will be pulling her from Hogwarts tomorrow. He has been dismissed from his post here in England, and he's been informed of the reason why. As I said, my honored father can make things very unpleasant for people. So, Luna, if you feel any concerns about how Potter will treat you, I can still give you to Parvati to get you out of Ravenclaw, but we can stop there."
"Thank you, Padma, but I do think I need to help Harry. It's important that we help him where we can."
"Parvati and I will be watching, Luna, so come to us if you need to," Padma said as she knocked on Professor Flitwick's door.
- - (()) - -
Professor McGonagall looked up as her fireplace flared up and turned green. It was well after curfew and there should be no reason for anyone to interrupt her evening.
"Filius? Why on earth are you calling at this hour?"
"Your house has a new pet, Minerva. You'd better come to my office so I can explain."
"What? A new pet?"
- - (()) - -
Warm, Harry Potter was warm. That was the first clue that there was something different about this morning. Harry had come in from his 'remedial potions class' with Snape, and had collapsed on to his bed falling asleep almost before his head hit his pillow. Generally after sleeping this hard, he would wake cold and shivering as his feet would kick themselves free of his blanket during the night. Yet this morning, he felt warm, and his feet seemed to be trapped by a warm body.
Harry peeked down towards his feet to see a reddish/goldish lump. Not that Harry really expected to be able to determine what was currently keeping his feet so toasty warm without his glasses, but red gold?
"Harry?" Neville Longbottom's voice came from beyond the curtains surrounding Harry's bed.
"Yes, Nev?" Harry asked as the lump moved of its own accord.
"Professor McGonagall would like you and your pet in her office in half an hour, and she's called for an all house meeting right after that."
"Pet? Nev, when did I get a pet?"
"Last night it seems," Neville answered while sticking his head through the curtains. "And she's a beauty."
"Huh? She!?" Harry asked in a panic at Neville's words. Harry quickly found and put on his glasses. As the world began to focus, Harry looked down at the foot of his bed to see… "Lassie?"
A red/gold and white collie lay at the foot of his bed, a collie looking at Harry with soulful… silver-gray eyes? Harry did not have a lot of good experience with dogs, but from what he remembered of the stories he had read in school, a collie with this coloring should have brown eyes.
"See you downstairs, Harry," Neville said as he gave the dog a pat before turning to head back downstairs.
"A Lassie? Sirius will have a fit," Harry said to himself and his bedmate as he swung his legs over the side of his bed. His bedmate got up, stretched doglike, and then flopped back down on the bed while changing into that strange girl he had met on the train.
"Um, Luna, right?" Harry asked, too dumbfounded to be shocked.
"Good morning, Harry Potter. I'm pleased to say you don't snore."
"Luna why are you on my bed?"
"Where else would your pet sleep, Harry?"
"Since when are you my pet, Luna?"
"Since Parvati decided you needed an unbirthday present."
"Huh? I'm not sure that made sense. When were you Parvati's pet so she could give you to me, Luna?"
"Since Padma gave me to Parvati, Harry."
Harry had to shake his head in a kind of confused enjoyment. Luna's answers were proving entertaining. "And when did you become Padma's so she could give you to Parvati, Luna?"
"When Padma won me at chess, Harry. We played just last night."
"Won you at chess? Are you joking, Luna?"
"No, I don't think so, and I warded your bed against Wrackspurts so you should be able to follow my conversation."
"I'm not sure your ward worked, Luna. Didn't you say Wrackspurts made your thoughts go fuzzy? Well, my thoughts are very fuzzy right now."
"Hmmm, I'll need to work on your infestation later then, Harry."
"Is there a reason Padma wanted to win you at chess, Luna?"
"Well yes, Harry, there is. I'm being bullied by my housemates, and the only way I could come up with get away from them would be to remove myself from Ravenclaw. But once sorted, a student can't transfer out of their proper house. However, past first year, a student may give a fellow student in a different house a pet."
"Professor Flitwick couldn't help?"
"Does our Headmaster allow any punishments against Malfoy stand?"
"Malfoy isn't a Ravenclaw…, is there another student the Headmaster is protecting?"
"Several students, actually, Harry, and based on your ability to figure that out, you don't have as many Wrackspurts as you thought."
"Okay, change of subject for just a bit, when did you become an Animagus, Luna?"
"Over this last summer, when I explained to daddy about that first time I got locked out of the Ravenclaw common room and had to sleep in a classroom, he suggested it. I was hoping to be a penguin, but I must admit my form has proven very comfortable when I needed to sleep away from my dorm. Now, Harry, you need to hurry so we can meet your head of house."
- - (()) - -
The Ravenclaw common room buzzed with rumors when their Head of House, Professor Flitwick, called an all house meeting so early.
"Miss Chang, it seems your father has been asked to return to your homeland. Please pack your things and then come back down."
"Yes, Professor Flitwick," Cho said in a choked voice, as she left. Her father being recalled could not be a good thing.
"Now is everyone else here?" the small professor asked his 7th year Prefects.
"Lovegood is missing, Professor," the Prefects answered, "but everyone else is present."
"This meeting is about Miss Lovegood." Flitwick paused for effect. "Miss Patil, I cannot express my feelings over what you've done to the former Miss Lovegood."
The bullies, minus Cho, perked up at that; they knew Padma had left the common room with Lovegood, but had not returned with her.
"I'm very aware that members of this house have been doing everything they could to torment Miss Lovegood. Well, last night Miss Patil went a bit too far. She won a family honor duel against Miss Lovegood by winning a chess game."
Several eyes got big, that meant Lovegood was property now, and not really a student. Several of the 7th year students had to admire that solution, they had noticed Padma getting closer to Loony, close enough to spring a trap it seemed.
"Since Miss Patil believed you didn't want Miss Lovegood in Ravenclaw, she then gifted her new pet to her sister."
The bullies even started smiling at that.
"And Miss Parvati Patil decided to foist her new pet on to someone who she felt she owed a bit of ill will."
The smiles got a bit bigger; it took guts to do what Padma and Parvati had done. They would be congratulating them for a masterfully played prank.
"The former Miss Lovegood is now the pet of Harry Potter."
Before the bullies could decide if this turn of events was good or bad, Flitwick continued. "Professor McGonagall is not happy about these events and has come to two conclusions. First, Professor McGonagall has contacted Miss Patil's father, and we expect both Miss Patils will have a minder by noon. These minders will be following both Miss Patils around for at least the rest of the school year, if not for as long as they are at Hogwarts."
The bullies all glanced at Padma with regret; it seemed there would be no chance to really congratulate the girl and see what other evil schemes she might have.
"Second, Professor McGonagall will not allow there to be any continuation of the abuse you've heaped on the former Miss Lovegood. She feels Mr. Potter has enough problems right now, and so I recommend you not try anything. I haven't seen Professor McGonagall this angry since Mr. Potter's father attended Hogwarts.
Now, in case you didn't hear, Miss Chang will be leaving us today. Her father has been asked to return to his homeland. I wasn't given a reason, so please don't ask me. Now please join me in wishing Miss Chang every success where ever she ends up. There will be a tryout for a new seeker next week. Any student, 2nd year and above, may try out. The actual time will be posted on the board by the end of the day.
And finally," Flitwick said, while actually starting to crack an evil grin. "I've been instructed by the Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts to gather all of the belongings of Mr. Potter's new pet. I recommend you all get together and get ALL of her things. Because if Professor McGonagall needs to come here herself to gather anything, she'll be bringing an Auror so she can report a theft against the house of Potter."
It took several seconds for the import of what their head of house had just said to sink in. Padma's prank had backfired and an angry McGonagall would be sweeping down on the house of Ravenclaw. The students of Ravenclaw melted into their dorms intent on gathering the offerings needed to appease the fiery Scotswoman.
- - (()) - -
When Harry came down the stairs to his dorm with a four footed Luna in the heel position at his left side, several of his housemates stopped whatever they were doing and stared.
"Harry?" Hermione asked. "When did you get a dog here at Hogwarts?"
"I guess last night, Hermione. McGonagall wants to see me right away, so I'm going to bet I'm going to find out what strangeness happened to me this time."
- - (()) - -
"Mr. Potter, Miss Lovegood, please have a seat," McGonagall said after ushering the two into her office.
When Luna remained in her dog form and lay down at Harry's feet, the transfiguration professor glared at Luna with thinning lips. The area of affect of that glare had Harry squirming in his chair hoping his head of house did not turn that glare his way. Luna on the other hand seemed totally unconcerned by the powerful disapproval being sent her way.
"I see you're starting as you mean to carry on, Miss Lovegood. Mr. Potter, please ask Miss Lovegood to change and sit with us."
"I think Luna's planning to remain in her dog form until we can get some of her shoes back from whoever has hidden them, Professor," Harry tried to explain. "She told me that as a dog, her feet don't get nearly as cold."
If possible, McGonagall's lips got even thinner. "I see… Miss Lovegood, please transform and I'll provide your feet with a warming charm while you're in my office."
"Yes, Professor," a now human Luna said as she sat in the chair next to Harry's.
A warming charm later, and McGonagall turned to Harry.
"Mr. Potter, did you know you were about to receive a pet?"
"Actually, Professor, Harry hasn't told me what my name is now; as a pet I'm no longer a Lovegood."
"Huh?" Harry was surprised into asking. "Not a Lovegood?"
"Miss Lovegood, until such time as I've been informed what you are to be called by your master..."
"Master?" squeaked Harry.
"...I expect you to answer to your former name. I will not call someone in my office 'Hey You'."
"Yes, Professor," a slightly chastised Luna said.
"Now, Miss, Lovegood, did you let Mr. Potter know you were planning to become his pet?"
"I've had a long discussion with Miss Patil, and I understand the reasons you took this course of action. I understand, but I Do Not Approve."
"Excuse me, Professor, but I don't need your approval," Luna said while meeting the angry eyes of McGonagall.
"Um, Luna, please don't make the professor any angrier, I'm still hoping she'll explain what's going on."
"I can explain it, Harry."
"Very well, Miss Lovegood, please explain what you understand, and then I will add anything else I might feel like I need to," McGonagall said, although her speech was clipped with suppressed anger.
"You see, Harry, there are a group of Ravenclaw students that are being protected by the Headmaster, much like Draco Malfoy is being protected from the consequences of his actions. And those Ravenclaws decided that they didn't like me much at all. But because they're protected by the Headmaster, I couldn't seek redress or help from any of the staff."
Harry chanced a glance at McGonagall at that. Her face was unchanged, but she also did not interrupt Luna.
"Padma noticed, and actually asked me how she might help. She seems to think her family owes my family some debt of some kind, which is just silly as Daddy doesn't keep track..."
"Please get back to the matter at hand, Miss Lovegood," McGonagall interrupted.
"Yes, well, Padma asked how she could help. There's no way to actually transfer out of your house once you've been sorted, but there are some very strange customs that pure-blooded wizards and witches can use to get around nearly any rule. Padma and I used one of those customs to change my status here at school to that of a pet.
But being a pet in Ravenclaw would not help me much, so she gave her new pet to her sister, and her sister gave her new pet, me, to you. It's quite simple really."
"Why me, Luna?" Harry asked.
"I'll get there, Harry. First though, you need to understand what Professor McGonagall was going to say. You see, as I'm now your pet, you're completely responsible for my upkeep and care. Because I'm magical, I'm allowed to remain here at school, although I will need to work at learning the things from your year, as I can only attend the same classes that you do. Normally, because I'm a girl and you're a boy, the Professor here would need to come up with a way to keep the other boys in your dorm from spying on me..."
"I may still need to do that, Miss Lovegood," McGonagall interrupted, although Luna ignored her and continued with her explanation.
"But since I can change into a dog, I think that will take care of the other boys. Since I'm your pet, you can name me, much like anyone will name a new pet. I once had a pet goldfish that I named Clyde, but he didn't come when I called."
"Cough," from McGonagall.
"Oh, right," Luna said, although Harry was sure there was a half smile on her lips.
'She's baiting McGonagall!' Harry thought.
"According to my understanding of the rules, the professors cannot take or give points to pets, nor can they punish you for anything I happen to do, although if I, as your pet, hurt someone, they could request that you pay some kind of damages and the cost of the healing. Daddy has said that since I've already paid for a full year of schooling, a major portion of that money will need to be re-paid to you since I'm no longer a student. Some of the money will be retained so I can continue to eat in the Great Hall. I do like pudding, Harry, just so you know."
"That's good to know, Luna," Harry got in before McGonagall could cough again. Harry was sure he saw the light of approval in Luna's eyes, and her smile grew just a bit bigger.
"I'll need to ask the Headmaster about how much he needs to repay me for Luna's schooling, Professor," Harry said, while fighting to keep from laughing and ruining the prank.
"I don't think you should call me Luna, Harry, after all I am your pet." It also looked like Luna was fighting to not smile.
"And who says pets can't be friends?" Harry asked in rebuttal. "My first real friend in the magical world is my owl, Hedwig."
"Really? I'll need to meet her, Harry. Still I think a different name is needed."
"How about Lassie then?"
"That Is ENOUGH!" McGonagall snapped.
"Yes, Professor?" both Harry and Luna asked in chorus.
"Mr. Potter, although it pains me to admit it, Miss Lovegood's explanation covered nearly all of the information you need to know. There are, however, a number of items we still need to discuss. As Miss Lovegood alluded, you and she are male and female..."
"There is something else you need to know," Luna interrupted McGonagall in a hurry. "Parvati gave me to you, but she kept the right of first refusal. That means you can't give me to anyone else without Parvati's permission. And as a matter of custom, you can't change me back into a student. Only Padma can do that, and only if she is again my owner."
Taking his cue from Luna's rather hurried method of interrupting Professor McGonagall, and not wanting to have to have one of those kinds of talks with the old battle ax, Harry charged into the fray, figuratively of course. "What changes are you implementing to prevent the bullies in Ravenclaw from abusing my new pet, Professor? And how is the staff going to be retrieving her things?"
"What?" Professor McGonagall asked as her planned speech went out the window.
Luna on the other hand gave Harry a smile that reminded him why it was sometimes good to have a saving people thing.
"Luna, you did say you cannot have points removed from you, and since I can't get into trouble for what you do, I'm giving you full permission to defend yourself using whatever means you feel you need to..."
"Harry?" Luna asked, somewhat surprised at the carte blanche Harry had just given her.
"Mr. Potter, I'm sure that won't be necessary..." McGonagall started before being interrupted again.
"And just how can you be sure it won't be necessary, Professor? Based on the performance of the staff in the past, and your personal performance concerning me, I fully expect my pet will need to defend herself, while in front of the staff, twice before dinner today!" Harry could not believe he was getting away with this so far, but he had to admit to a very pleasant feeling to be getting this out into the open.
"Don't you just Mr. Potter me, Professor McGonagall. You have personally failed me several times, and it seems the other houses are having the same trouble; this school is a training ground for bullies. And I won't believe you are making changes until I see them for myself!"
Professor McGonagall's face seemed frozen, and, despite knowing he could be pushing too much, Harry continued.
"And yet again, the school is playing host to a supposed instructor, and what advice did my head of house give me? I'm to keep my head down. This from the professor that said she would represent my interests back in my first year. And now I'm scarred for life," Harry said while showing McGonagall his hand.
"The Headmaster was forced..."
"You're telling me the Headmaster had to accept that woman as a professor? I don't think so, Professor. If our Headmaster worried about his students instead of worrying about the government and his position there, he could've that woman out of this school in a heartbeat."
Harry panted slightly after giving his impassioned homily.
"Professor McGonagall, why are you even here?" Harry finally asked.
"You claim you don't agree with the things the Headmaster is doing. Why are you still here, offering your support to such a man?"
"Albus Dumbledore is a great man, Mr. Potter."
"Oh? He is? How so? I fully admit that years ago he did some very important things, but now all he does is drag this school down by protecting the bullies and employing some incompetent teachers. And before you get on your high horse, how do you explain Binns and Umbridge?"
"Harry?" Luna interrupted Harry. Luna held Harry's scarred hand in hers, while looking down at the 'I will not tell lies' in horror. "When did this happen to you?"
"This is the result of my detentions with Professor Umbridge, Luna."
"You allowed this!?" Luna screeched at Professor McGonagall.
"I have no control over what happens in detentions, Miss Lovegood," McGonagall admitted, her voice no longer holding the anger from earlier.
"Poppycock! You're the Deputy Headmistress; policing the professors is not only your right, it's your duty. I have to ask you same question Harry asked, Professor. Why are you even here? It would be much better for this school if it had a Deputy actually doing their job. And before you say anything regarding our Headmaster again, part of the job of Deputy involves keeping not only the other teachers in line but also letting the Board of Governors know if they need to keep the Headmaster in check."
Luna turned back towards Harry. "I'm so sorry, Harry, I thought Gryffindor a better place than Ravenclaw, what with Professor McGonagall being the Deputy."
"The Gryffindor Head of House believes in our not so esteemed Headmaster, Luna, and has since my parent's deaths," Harry said. "Even though she knew the kind of people my aunt and uncle were she agreed to leave a toddler on their doorstep at Dumbledore's say so."
- - (()) - -
A knock on the door prevented either Professor McGonagall or Luna from responding to Harry's verbal jab. The door opened to reveal Professor Flitwick trying to maneuver a large box through the door.
"Ahh, good. I'm not too late, and Mr. Potter and Miss Lovegood are still here," the unexpectedly jovial professor said. "I think I have all of your things, Miss Lovegood, and three students in your old house are now going to be serving several detentions with me as they had some copies of your homework."
"Won't the Headmaster prevent that from happening, Professor?" Luna asked as she stood and helped the little man maneuver the box into room before looking into the box and quietly squealing, "My shoes! My socks!" Luna reached into the box and pulled out a pair of conservative socks and a pair of worn trainers.
"The Headmaster is busy dealing a query from the International Education Standards Committee today; and since I didn't take any points, I don't think he'll find out until after the detentions," their small charms professor said with a smile. "Most of the things have been shrunk, and the whole box has been lightened." The smile fell from the professor's face as he said, "I'm very sorry it came to this, Miss Lovegood. If I had someplace else to go to, I'd have pushed for the ability to punish the people hurting you."
"If you had…?" Harry started to ask.
"The Headmaster doesn't just preach redemption and second chances, Mr. Potter, he also practices what he preaches. I have a job here; outside of Hogwarts, I would've starved to death years ago. Most of the staff in this school are in similar situations, which is the reason we're all so loyal to him. I'm fortunate that I now have my charms mastery as well as tenure; if the headmaster is replaced I can't be dismissed out of hand like someone like Hagrid could be."
"Well that paints a very different picture," Luna groused even while admiring her now shod feet. "I hoped bringing my treatment to light would get the Headmaster replaced in disgrace, but I didn't think it would affect the rest of the staff in such a drastic manner."
"Miss Lovegood, Mr. Potter, we need to meet with the rest of the Gryffindors yet this morning," McGonagall said, in an attempt to regain some control, before being interrupted by both Harry and Luna.
"What?" This had to be McGonagall's worst morning for since the Marauders graduated.
"Harry has named me Lassie, Professor," Luna/Lassie explained.
"Is there a reason you selected the name Lassie, Mr. Potter?" Flitwick asked as re-hefted box seemingly preparing to join the Gryffindor meeting.
"Show him, Lassie," Harry suggested.
Lassie looked confused for only a second before transforming into her dog form.
"Oh, excellent, Lassie, simply excellent to be able to become an Animagus at such a young age. If I could I'd award you five points to Gryffindor," Flitwick enthused as Lassie, Harry and Flitwick all left McGonagall's office before for turning back to look at McGonagall.
"You coming, Minerva, or do you want me to run the Gryffindor meeting?" Flitwick asked, before turning back to Harry. "Now how does the former Miss Lovegood's ability to change into a dog suggest the name Lassie, Mr. Potter?"
– – (()) – –
Albus Dumbledore collapsed back into his chair with a sigh. Several of his plans had suffered in the week since Mr. Patil had filed the complaint on behalf of the now ex-Miss Lovegood. The International Education Standards Committee had come down on Hogwarts like a ton of bricks. About the only good thing to come from the international interference would be the dismissal of Professor Umbridge.
Delores had found herself escorted from the school with her hands in manacles after she tried to enforce one of her ministerial decrees. And since Umbridge's rules were called ministerial decrees, all of a sudden, Minister Fudge found himself under a microscope. Albus felt sure there would be a new Minister within a fairly short time.
But that did not help Albus' situation at Hogwarts as much as one would think. One of the new International Observers wanted a meeting within the next half an hour, and the topic of discussion would be Severus and his methods of teaching Potions. And this meeting would only be the first of series as each of the professors were going to be evaluated. Albus had no illusions about how the meeting about Binns would go, and had already sent out requests for a new history professor. But Severus needed to stay here at Hogwarts in order to stay safe. However, Albus did not think the observers would make allowances that a dismissed teacher would have a very short life expectancy.
– – (()) – –
"Potter, Lassie." Parvati greeted the two as she sat next to Harry and Luna in the Great Hall to start her lunch. Parvati's minder nodded to both Harry and Luna before sitting a few places over; close enough to continue monitoring her charge, but not so close that she could hear every word being said.
"Parvati," Harry said in greeting to the girl. Parvati could be found in his company more and more often. At first it had been because she had felt she needed to protect Luna from his attentions, but the last several days had seen a mellowing of Parvati's attitude.
"Parvati, have you seen the latest edition of the Quibbler?" Luna gushed in welcome. The startling difference in Luna's appearance and attitude could be seen in her bright smile and the happy, even melodious, tones of her voice. "Daddy is very pleased at the help your family could give us in shutting down the Rotfang conspiracy."
"I'm glad we could help, Lassie." Parvati smiled. "How are you doing in our classes? Are you catching up okay?"
"Harry is proving to be very patient instructor; I've succeeded in catching up in both Charms and Potions, so I'll be able to actually start attending those classes. I think I'll be up to speed in Transfiguration by the end of this week and Herbology next week. Then I get to try and convince Harry to take Runes or Arithmancy next term so we can help each other catch up."
"I'm please you are doing so well with your pet, Potter," Parvati allowed. "My sister and I were very concerned."
"You had some cause, Parvati," Harry said. "In retrospect, I'm not proud of my performance of a couple of years ago. It is late, but I apologize, and please let Padma know as well."
Parvati nodded her head in acknowledgment and asked the questions that were bothering both her and her twin. "Harry, why are you no longer sitting with Hermione or Weasley? Hermione seems to be very upset but isn't talking, and Padma and I don't talk to Weasley, ever."
Harry winced at the venom in Parvati's voice as she mentioned Ron's name, which allowed Luna to answer Parvati's questions. "Hermione's dealing with some culture shock, Parvati. The idea that you could give me to Harry the way you did has her questioning if she wants to join a society that not only allows such a thing, but also thinks nothing of it. She really is trying to help though, and I think she'll be sitting with Harry and me in a week or so. Hermione created the schedule Harry and I are using to help with my studies."
"And Weasley?" Parvati asked; she had guessed at some of what Hermione felt, but the girl had closed herself off from Parvati because of her part in making Luna Harry's pet.
"Ronald made some unkind suggestions towards me," Luna admitted with a blush. "But Master Harry put him straight."
Luna put her hand on Parvati's arm as the girl started to get angry. "Straight into the infirmary as well. Also, Professor McGonagall made good on her promise that she made in that Gryffindor meeting where I was introduced, to punish any that tried to take advantage of me. Ronald has been moved into the first year's dorms, and a spell has been cast that'll keep him from getting close to either Harry or me."
"We think he's about to apologize as well, and has learned that he has to watch what he's saying to people," Harry interjected. "Although based on his past performances, he may need to be reminded a few more times."
"What do you know about the meetings the observers are having with the Headmaster, Parvati?" Luna asked. "The whole school knows Binns is going to be replaced, and Umbridge is already gone, but you were in class with Professor Trelawney when they observed that class."
"That was one of the strangest Divination classes I've ever had, Lassie," Parvati answered. "The observer brought in someone that specializes in Divination, and he and Professor Trelawney spent about half the class asking each other questions. Lavender and I heard him tell the observer that 'in spite of how she looked, Trelawney knew her stuff'. So I think she's safe for the moment."
Parvati paused for a moment and then said, "Although I do wish you and Potter would start taking that class, Lassie."
"McGonagall pulled me from that class so I'd have time to help teach Lassie what she needed to advance a year, Parvati," Harry remarked. "And since Lassie is trying to convince me to take Runes or Arithmancy or both next term, I don't think we'll be back."
"I was hoping it would give me a better chance to interact with you and Lassie," Parvati admitted with a blush. "You've been treating Lassie way better than either my sister or I thought you would, so we think we should spend a bit more time getting to know Lassie and her master. You two generally sit with Hermione in the other classes..." Parvati's voice trailed off as Luna again put her hand on Parvati's arm.
"You're welcome to sit with us, Parvati. Most of the Charms tables will fit four, and I can be a dog at Harry's feet so you and Lavender can sit with Harry and Hermione."
"That will help, but that doesn't help me interact with you, Lassie," Parvati complained.
"And in spite of how much better she has become, Lassie still doesn't really believe that anyone would want to interact with her, Parvati," Harry broke in before Luna could embarrass herself. "Since Ron is no longer sitting with us, why don't you join Luna and I this evening in the common room? Hermione has said she needs to do some research for a project she's working on in Arithmancy, so she won't be joining us tonight to help us study until later, and if you're already there, maybe she'll break down and start talking with you again. And you can tell Padma that she'll be welcome to sit with us for Arithmancy or Runes, as I expect Lassie will convince me to take at least one of them for her."
"Thank you, Master! um, Harry," Luna gushed and then corrected herself.
"What?" Parvati had to ask.
"Harry doesn't like me to call him Master, Parvati," Luna explained. "I've tried to explain that it is what he is, but he says I'm my own person and nobody's slave in spite of being a pet."
Parvati stared at Harry for several seconds as she tried to process that little bit of information.
"So have you or Lavender heard anything about how the observers feel about Professor Snape?" Luna asked before the silence could become oppressive.
"You mean you haven't heard yet?" Parvati asked, as she was distracted from the enigma named Harry Potter.
"No, we haven't, Parvati. What?" Luna replied on cue.
"Snape is already gone, and the Headmaster is in some hot water since the observers were hoping he would be taken away by some Aurors. Lavender heard one of the seventh years say that the observers would be interviewing to see if any of the sixth years could take on teaching the lower years, while Dumbledore would be taking on the NEWT classes. We've also heard that Flitwick is going to be combining History of Magic into one or two really big classes. He's been heard joking that he would know about the goblin wars as well as Binns did, and a bit more besides."
– – (()) – –
"Sister, I saw you sitting with them at lunch," Padma said as she intercepted Parvati on her way to class after lunch.
"She's happy, Padma. She's very happy, and Potter, um Harry, has told her she's her own person and not a slave," Parvati answered, still not believing it herself. Harry has asked that I apologize for the ball, and it sounds like Lassie is going to convince Harry to take Arithmancy or Runes next term, and you are invited to sit with them. Lassie is planning to be in her dog form if necessary, so there will be room that the table for you all. She has said she'll do the same in Charms so Lavender and I can join Harry and Hermione."
"Is that what we should tell Father?" Padma asked as she reflected that this incident with Luna/Lassie had allowed her sister to grow out of the school gossip personality she had developed.
"Yes, I think so, Padma." Parvati answered, and then she showed exactly how much she had grown. "When are you going to resume your normal correspondence with Father, Pad?"
"I can start anytime, Sister, as long as you promise not to go back to the school gossip of our year," Padma replied.
"I think Father would like that, Padma, but I also want to thank you for letting me deal with him in this instance. I feel much closer to him now."
"With Lassie in Gryffindor, I couldn't keep Father updated the way you've been able to, Sister, and I'm so very pleased with what I've been seeing."
Parvati blushed before nodding, and the sisters separated towards their different classes.
– – (()) – –
That evening, Luna made it a point to spend some time talking to Parvati, leaving Hermione a chance to talk to Harry.
"Umm?" Harry asked looking up from his book, only to close his book and give his friend his full attention. She looked worried and upset.
"Harry, I don't understand. Why did you accept Luna as a pet?"
"I wasn't asked, Hermione, I found out about it after the fact, when I woke up to find Luna sleeping at the foot of my bed."
"In her dog form, Hermione. When I woke up, I could just see the red/gold and white of her coat. And every night when she joins me, it's as a dog. Parvati has made some room in her trunk for Lassie to have some changes of clothes and her personal items, so when Lassie changes and bathes, it's in the girls' dorms."
"Which I would have noticed, if I hadn't closed up like I did," Hermione admitted ruefully. "I'm still shocked to my core..."
"It might be selfish, but I really am enjoying the companionship Lassie's offering me, both when she has two legs as well as when she has four. I treasure the time I get to pet her in her dog form. Her coat is so smooth..."
"What, Hermione? You're worrying me with that expression."
"I am worried, Harry. Has Lassie ever talked to you about being a pet?"
"Not past the basics; what is it, Hermione?"
"Harry, when Parvati gave you Luna, she really gave her to you. There aren't a lot of books about human pets, but what I found..." Hermione shook involuntarily. "Harry, you own her, including her body..." Hermione's voice tapered off.
Harry didn't say anything but looked at Hermione sharply.
"Harry, I don't think you're doing that to her, as I don't think you're that kind of a boy. But you are a boy and you are going through... Harry, it's going to be very hard to not take advantage of her being a pet means she would, willingly, even joyfully as trying to her master is what a 'pet' does."
"I'm not her master..." Harry started, only for Hermione to interrupt him.
"Yes, Harry, you are her master. You're being very noble about it, but, Harry, Luna truly doesn't exist any longer, only Lassie, and only the Lassie you allow. That you've allowed her as much as you have is something so rare as to be undocumented, but it doesn't change what being a pet means."
"Leave it to you, Hermione. I was hoping I could break that to Harry a little less abruptly." Luna's voice joined the conversation, followed by the blonde herself. "Harry, there's a reason I asked Parvati to give me to you instead of just staying with her. But those are reasons we can talk a bit about later. For now, yes, I am yours, and I love being yours."
"But..." Harry and Hermione both started before Luna continued on, stopping both of them.
"I'm not under a magical bond, Harry. You could try to enforce such a bond, but I would fight that and likely ask Parvati to take me back. Anyway, as I'm not under a magical bond, I am not being magically forced to do things to make you happy. The books Hermione found all talk about pets under the pet bond and I'm not under one. Padma, Professor Flitwick and Parvati made sure to not include the actual forming of that bond."
"Are you a pet then?" Hermione managed to ask.
"Yes, I am a pet, I am Harry's pet, and I love being Harry's pet, Hermione."
"You're sure, Lassie?" Harry asked.
"I'm very sure, Harry, both about not being under a bond as well as loving being your pet. Now, Harry, Hermione is right that you can, as my master, force me to your will. But I felt the advantages of being your pet outweighed the problems of being required to share my human body with you."
"Lassie!?" Hermione asked.
"It's just sex, Hermione, and I've heard that it's very pleasant once you get past the first pain, but that is beside the point. Master Harry has been very careful to allow me my privacy, he has not tried to spy on me, and he has allowed me my own space and time to bathe."
"So why did you want to be my pet, Luna?" Harry asked.
"You mean besides the fact I got out of Ravenclaw, Harry?"
"Yeah, you could have been Parvati's pet for that."
"What did I say to Professor Flitwick during that first meeting with McGonagall, Harry?"
"Ummm, I think you said something about getting the Headmaster replaced..."
"Close, Harry. I said that I hoped bringing my treatment to light would get the Headmaster replaced in disgrace, and the disgraced part is important."
"If he's disgraced at Hogwarts, he would likely lose a lot of his influence in the government as well, Harry. Daddy and I agree, Dumbledore is leading our world to ruin, and the Lovegood family will fight such a thing."
"But...He's...Dumbledore?" Hermione managed to stutter, although by the third word, Harry could see the wheels starting to turn.
"He is Dumbledore, but why does that mean his opinion should have the same kind of weight as if he were Merlin?"
"I guess I thought that he was the best option," Harry ventured. "I mean it sounds like Malfoy is next in line."
"Mr. Malfoy has no intention of trying to run the government; too many of the shady deals he keeps trying to push through would be exposed," Luna said, offering up her father's opinion. "And there are enough people that don't trust him as it is that he might find himself unable to do much of anything without Dumbledore's hands on the reins."
"And Voldemort?" Harry finally asked.
"Without Dumbledore preaching forgiveness and second chances, daddy thinks You-Know-Who won't have near the support he currently seems to have gathered."
– – (()) – –
Albus frowned from his seat at the procession of people entering the Great Hall. It seemed the Board of Governors had decided to meet today even though he, Albus Dumbledore, had not requested the meeting. Normally only a bare minimum required for a quorum would show up for the meetings he called. But with Board members still trooping through the doors, it was quickly becoming apparent that this was not the usual group, it was the entire Board.
"Headmaster?" One of the observers interrupted Albus' thoughts. "We'll be meeting with the Board of Governors first, just to make sure everyone is allowed to serve, and then we would like to have you and your Deputy join us. It is time to go over our findings with the people who should really be in charge of the school."
Albus glanced over to see another of the observers talking to Minerva before looking up at the observer standing over his shoulder.
"I felt no need to involve the Board since I took care of all of your requests," Albus said. "We are still looking for some teachers, but the teaching is proceeding well."
"While you are correct, the teaching is vastly improved in several of the classrooms, there is still the complaint that brought us here in the first place," the observer, a man whose name Albus had never learned, thinking him to be unimportant, replied. "That falls on your Deputy and yourself, Headmaster."
"Those students..." Albus started to say, only to be interrupted.
"Save your excuses for the Board, Headmaster. They are the ones that will be weighing your options."
– – (()) – –
"Harry, it's time to go outside," Luna said as she stood up from her seat beside Harry and across from Hermione.
"Who are all of these people, Lassie? Do you know?" Harry responded after he excused himself from Parvati, who was sitting on his other side and also nodding to Ron, who was sitting with them again, after apologizing.
"I saw my Gran come in," Neville said from his seat next to Ron. "And she looked mad." Neville shuddered for a second while Harry and the rest of his friends winced in sympathy.
"As well as Draco's dad," Luna added as she slipped her arm under Harry's arm and turned towards the door. "Based on what Daddy wrote, I think this is a meeting of the full Board of Governors. If Draco's dad and Neville's gran end up leaving in an even bigger huff, we should know."
"What aren't you telling us, Lassie?" Hermione asked.
"There are several by-laws that have not been followed in the recent past," Luna answered obliquely. "One of them is that anyone on the Board cannot have a close relation currently attending Hogwarts. Daddy thinks that Madam Longbottom and Mister Malfoy are the only current members on the Board that will need to be removed for that reason."
"No wonder Gran looked upset," Neville whispered.
"We have a free period, and we plan to make use of it," Harry said, smiling at Luna. "See you all later."
With that parting comment, Harry escorted Luna out of the Great Hall, leaving a worried Hermione behind.
"I believe my sister will be watching them from the West battlements, Hermione," Parvati said, while smiling at the girl who was becoming a closer friend. "You could join her there if you want. Harry and Lassie are not ducking into a closet or sneaking around."
Hermione nodded and, after excusing herself from the rest of her friends, she stood and then waited for Parvati as the girl joined her to walk from the Great Hall.
"I know I should trust Harry more," Hermione admitted. "But Lassie is blossoming into a very beautiful person. Harry can't be that blind, can he?"
"Actually, he can," Parvati said with emphasis. "I don't think Harry sees how attractive Lassie/Luna is; all he sees is the friendship and companionship she is giving him. He knows she's a girl but he doesn't see a young woman."
"Much like me then," Hermione said with a grin.
"Very much like you," Parvati answered.
"I'm going up to the battlements as you suggested," Hermione said as she and Parvati separated in the entry hall. "I'll see you later."
"Tell Padma hi from me." Parvati's voice drifted from down the hall.
– – (()) – –
Hermione found Padma exactly where Parvati said she would be, doing exactly what Parvati said she would be doing: watching Harry and Lassie playing on the front lawn.
"Did Parvati send you up to check on me?" Padma asked when Hermione appeared beside her.
"No, your sister did mention you'd be here, but she sent me up here so I could watch Harry and Lassie interact." Hermione then looked down at Harry and Lassie and said, "I just can't believe Harry is so blind to the beauty Luna is turning into."
"Harry doesn't see beauty when he looks at Luna, he sees loyalty," Padma said, answering Hermione's implied question.
"What are they doing?" Hermione asked.
"Lassie is training Harry."
"Do you see how they're both running around? Harry's part of this game is to transfigure some kind of rubber ball from a stone he picks up, and Harry then throws the ball for Lassie to fetch. Then Harry runs the other way - he needs to be able to keep away from Lassie for a slow count of twenty or Lassie gets a point. If Harry is able to keep away for the twenty count, then Harry gets the point."
"Harry couldn't possible outrun Lassie… Oh, he's dodging her when she tries to pounce…" Hermione mused out loud as she processed the rules as explained by Padma.
"Since Harry and Lassie have started playing this game, Harry's stamina has increased several fold, and his ability to dodge has increased even more. Also his transfiguration has improved to the point that he's able to transfigure the ball while still running," Padma reported.
As she watched, Hermione had to agree, Harry's grace and skill on a broom were being transferred to his feet.
"On alternate days, they play a different game where Harry needs to tag Lassie with a spell. With Lassie running like she does, Harry has learned how to better aim his spells and how to anticipate where Lassie will be. And that is on top of the increase of the speed of Harry's spell casting."
"You watch them every day?" Hermione started to ask, but when she turned to face Padma, the words froze on her lips. Padma was watching the pair below them with an expression of pain gracing her normally calm and placid face.
"Padma? What's wrong?"
"I was so sure Harry would mistreat Lassie, you know, Hermione. I was so sure of it. The prat that ignored me and my sister at the Yule ball shouldn't be able to understand what a precious person Luna is."
Padma's pain filled voice caused Hermione to focus entirely on the girl beside her.
"There's a reason the younger boys are not generally encouraged to attend that kind of function, Padma," Hermione finally said in a soft voice. "I still think of Ron as one of my best friends, but he hurt me badly by his behavior that night. Harry, likewise, did not understand what he was doing there, although, to be honest, Harry was only fourteen at the time and didn't want to be at the ball."
Padma turned to face her as Hermione continued, "You and your sister were treated very poorly by two immature boys. And although Ron has improved slightly since then, Harry, on the other hand, has begun to really grow up."
"Which still leaves me with a memory of an evening that counts as the worst of my school career," Padma nearly snarled. "The evening was bad enough but the teasing that followed for the next couple of weeks in Ravenclaw just added to the pain."
Hermione said nothing, letting the Indian girl vent.
"I still hate Ron for that night, Hermione, and I was close to hating Harry by association," Padma continued to spew.
"Was?" Hermione prompted when Padma paused.
"Was! Then Harry had to go and be kind and considerate to Luna! I had several dreams that fell crushed that night, and now another is getting to live the dreams I had..." Padma's voice trailed off as her brain caught up with what her mouth was saying.
Hermione just nodded. She took the other girl's hand and turned back to watch the game Harry and Lassie were playing. Now that she knew some of the rules, Hermione could see how the constant running and dodging would improve Harry's stamina.
"You know, Padma, I bet we could help Lassie train Harry, if we wanted too," Hermione ventured. "In many ways Harry is still that clueless boy that helped destroy some of your dreams, but between Lassie, you and I, we could start to whip him into shape, physically and magically, and perhaps even give him a bit of awareness about the half of the human race that aren't boys."
"You...?" Padma asked and couldn't continue.
"Harry will remain my best friend forever, Padma, but I don't think we could ever be closer than that. I'm too much the bitchy older sister or at least I was about schoolwork, until Harry started to grow up and needed to teach Luna enough to advance a year."
"I...?" Padma started to say something, but then again stopped.
"I don't know, Padma. I know Lassie is very fond of you because of what you did for her. That will predispose Harry to at least start off on a better footing this time. And Lassie, for all that I still can see the girl that talks about nargles from time to time, Lassie won't let you or Harry get too stupid."
"Yes, we, Padma," Hermione continued, answering the questions the overwhelmed girl could not finish. "I can think of several ways to improve on the game they're playing, but they'd require a referee of types, as well as a third player that tries to muck up Harry's plans."
Hermione glanced back to Padma and was pleased to see the pain and anger mostly gone from her face.
"How about we go down and re-introduce you and then talk about my ideas?"
– – (()) – –
That evening at dinner, the student body noticed there were a couple of people missing from the teachers' table and a couple of people that no one seemed to know sitting in their places.
"If I might have your attention?" one of the unknown men said after all of the students had gathered, but before the food actually arrived.
"There have been several changes today and, since they affect your classes, you need to be made aware of them."
"Here it comes," Luna said with a shiver of excitement.
"Today, the Board of Governors met in an emergency session called by the International Education Standards Committee. One of the results of that meeting is that the Board has dismissed your previous Headmaster and Deputy. Professor McGonagall was given the option of remaining as the Transfiguration Professor, but has resigned from the school completely. This means we will need to cancel all classes for a couple of days."
The student body all reacted to this announcement, although the reactions were mostly muted. Most of the Gryffindor responses remained subdued while they tried to imagine school without McGonagall; the Slytherins were nearly all silent as they had already lost their head of house and were rapidly learning that some of the excesses allowed before were no longer to be considered the norm; the Ravenclaws were mostly upset about the cancellations, but felt the stern eye of Professor Flitwick aimed their way; and, the Hufflepuffs remained calm. Their Professor Sprout remained at the head table, and she seemed calm, so her charges followed her lead and waited.
"We, of the International Community, will be summoning some teachers from around the world to temporarily take over your core classes, and Hogwarts' Board of Governors will be seeking more permanent replacements for your school's instructors and administrators starting immediately.
In the meantime, several of us will remain at Hogwarts to patrol the halls and help maintain order.
We expect classes will resume in two days, and with all of your help, I'm sure we'll be able to get through this time of transition. Thank you for your time."
- - (()) - -
"Father?" Daphne Greengrass exclaimed as she and her sister Astoria entered the classroom that the International observers were using as a meeting room.
"Daphne, Astoria," Mr. Addison Greengrass said calmly, as he rose to greet his daughters.
"Father," Astoria also intoned in greeting, although her face also showed how shocked she was at seeing her father at Hogwarts.
"Daughters, you may be seated," Addison said, while indicating two empty chairs in front of the chair where he stood.
"We'll let you discuss your options with your family in private, Mr. Greengrass," said one of the other observers in the room as they all left, leaving the Greengrasses alone.
Addison watched as both of his girls sat in the chairs he had indicated. Their backs remained straight and they sat on the edge of the chairs, a sure sign that they were unsettled.
"Father, is Mother alright?" Daphne had to ask.
"You can relax, your mother is fine."
Both Astoria and Daphne sighed, and some tension could be seen leaving the girls' shoulders.
"I've been asked to consider becoming the Headmaster of Hogwarts," Addison said bluntly. "My work helping set up the schools in South America brought my name to the attention of the International Education Standards Committee, and they feel I would be an acceptable choice to start repairing the damage to this school that the previous Headmaster wrought. But the truth is, is that it will take some time to bring the education standards here at Hogwarts up to the level most of the witches and wizards in Britain already believe it to be at."
Addison paused and looked at each of his daughters in turn before telling them why Daphne and Astoria were being included in this conversation.
"If I take the position, it would mean that you two would need to transfer to another school, as I can't hold the position of Headmaster if you two are attending classes. Astoria, you are still young enough that if it were only you, I would already be asking you to pack, but, Daphne, you have now reached the age where your opinions should be considered."
Addison again paused to take in how his daughters were reacting to his unexpected news. He was pleased to see that neither of his daughters where reacting negatively. Nor were they shaking their heads in denial.
"Astoria, your thoughts, if you please," Addison demanded.
"I have no concerns about leaving, Father," Astoria said in a voice Addison was pleased to note was steady. "There are several upper year students that I would be pleased to be able to avoid in the future."
Addison nodded and turned to his older daughter.
"Daphne, what are your thoughts?" Addison's voice rising to question rather than demand, a sure sign that he was well aware of how much Daphne had grown in maturity during her time at Hogwarts.
"Father, may I have a moment to put my thoughts in order?" Daphne asked.
Addison smiled and nodded, extremely pleased that his daughter wanted a chance to think things through rather than just saying the first thing that popped into her head. There were times when thinking rapidly and going with gut instinct were important, but this decision would negatively impact Daphne's social standing, just as she was forming many of her most important connections.
The room fell quiet for a couple of minutes before Daphne raised her head so that she could look at her father, still the protocols of her youth did not allow her to simply start a conversation with her father, and so she waited.
Addison gave his opinion. "That did not take long, Daphne. Should I be concerned?"
"No, Father, you need not be concerned. I'm known to the student body at large as the Ice Princess, as I've found almost no one within my House I thought worthy of my time, and the House system as it stood under our previous Headmaster and my Head of House, didn't encourage forming connections with other Houses. I would, however, like the one person I did believe worthy of my attention, Tracey Davis, to be allowed to transfer with me. She has watched my back for several years now, and I feel I owe her a significant debt, since she had no expectation of receiving any advantage from our family."
Addison raised his eyebrow. Davis was known to be from a very minor family and, while Daphne's letters home had often mentioned the Davis scion, there had been no prompting from the Davis family indicating a debt.
"Daphne, if it was not to further her family's position, why did Miss Davis stand with you?"
"Tracey has a Muggle parent, Father, and attended some schooling within the Muggle world, so she learned some of her responses there. She was somewhat prepared for the formality of the pure-bloods, but..." Daphne paused and she looked down embarrassed by what she was about to say, "Father, she helped me because she likes me and thought of me as a friend."
"And...?" Addison prompted.
"And I've become her friend as well, Father," Daphne admitted, and she hunched her shoulders at the expected scorn from her Head of Family.
"Excellent, Daphne, I'm very proud of you," Addison exclaimed to the shock of both of his daughters.
"I will be notifying the Davis family that we consider them as allies due to the friendship between the daughters of our families," Addison continued, and when he got a look of incomprehension from Daphne, he explained a bit further. "Daphne, one of the biggest problems the Greengrass family has is that it is so steeped in the pure-blooded protocols that it is very hard for us to form business connections with our Muggle neighbors. Since you are willing to attend another school, it is a certainty that I will be the new Headmaster here, and that means, Daphne, that you will need to take over some of the family's business starting this summer. And having a way to form legitimate business connections with a mixed pure and Muggle family will ease several issues that are pressing the family as a whole."
Addison waited for the hoped for look of distaste on his daughter's face, and nearly crowed when he saw it there.
"And, Daphne,..." Addison paused for effect and waited until he had both of his daughter's attention. "Never, ever, be afraid of making a true friend. For all that we exist in a cutthroat world, the fact that I have a friend with whom I can unburden myself has helped me throughout my career."
Addison would have liked to spend more time going over this particular lesson with both of his daughters to help both of them understand this one of life's pleasures, but as with so many things, a parent can only teach so much, their children needing to learn so much on their own.
"Now, daughters, do you have preference as to the school you wish to be transferred?"
Astoria's "Beauxbatons" was expected. Daphne's "Salem" was not.
"Daphne?" Astoria beat Addison to the question. "Salem is so far away."
"Like it or not, Sister, I've been tainted by the foul reputation that Slytherin currently has," Daphne explained. "With Father letting me know that I need to learn to deal with some of the family's business and quickly, I need to go someplace where I can learn a great deal from people that will have fewer preconceived ideas of what to expect from a Greengrass and a Slytherin."
Astoria looked as if she wanted to object, but with her father present did not.
Addison thought for a moment and then nodded. "I approve of your idea, Daphne. I am also pleased you were able to react to my news so quickly and had a logical reason for your decision. I expect you will do very well at Salem."
"Astoria," Addison said to his younger daughter, "you may attend Beauxbatons if you wish, or you may attend Salem with your older sister. You have behaved very well during this discussion. A year ago you would have protested not just once but several times, so I feel you can make this decision on your own."
– – (()) – –
With the news of Daphne and Astoria's imminent departure from Hogwarts, the house of snakes started to distance themselves from the two girls, and so that evening they found themselves sitting alone at the Slytherin table. Or at least they were alone until a girl with blonde hair sat down beside Daphne, and then two more students sat down across from the Greengrass sisters. Before Daphne and Astoria could do more than blink in recognition at Hermione Granger and Harry Potter, the dark skinned Padma Patil had also joined the small group, sitting next to Astoria.
"You're very smart to be heading to Salem," Luna said to the elder Greengrass girl. "You'll be able to learn so much more than we'll be able to here in England."
"Lassie," Hermione said, while shaking her head, "let them acknowledge us before you overwhelm them."
"Stuff and nonsense, Hermione," Luna replied, seemingly with no concern. "None of us have been friendly with these two before. If we waited for the normal pleasantries to be completed, both of them would have been at Salem for a week."
Luna then turned back to the Greengrass sisters. "Daddy says you'll be able to have classes with so many other types of magic users at Salem. You might even have a chance to talk to a Witchdoctor in training."
Astoria stared at the blonde dynamo, shocked at being approached in this manner. Daphne, on the other hand actually started to smile at the blonde.
"Is there a reason I should talk to a Witchdoctor in training, um, Lassie?"
"Well, yes, if you don't mind... You know I'm not sure how to address you." Luna had managed to change subjects without blinking. "Miss Greengrass is so formal, but we aren't really on a first name basis yet."
"I don't know, Lassie," Harry said, entering the conversation for the first time. "Greengrass just called you by your pet name, so I think that means you can return the favor."
"Thank you, Harry." Luna smiled over at Harry before returning to Daphne. "Harry has been having some strange dreams, Daphne, and Daddy thinks someone like a Witchdoctor could trace the source."
Harry tried, in vain, to interrupt his pet. "Lassie!"
"Harry, the dreams are too vivid to be normal," Luna responded without missing a beat. "When my mum died I had all sorts of bad dreams, and none of them had the detail you can describe in your recent dreams."
Daphne blinked at the interaction between Harry and Luna before focusing on what Luna had just said.
Astoria, who was getting over her shock and surprise, turned to Padma. "Is… is she always this informal?" Realizing that sounded rude, even to her ears, Astoria turned to her big sister. "I… Sister, how do I respond?"
Daphne watched as Harry visibly bristled at the insult aimed towards Luna, while Luna remained calm and continued to watch Daphne with a hopeful expression. But before Daphne could turn around towards her sister, Padma tried to soothe the younger girl.
"Have you ever heard of a dog that stood on ceremony?" Padma asked wryly. "Lassie has embraced her role as Harry's pet dog with both arms, or four paws as the case may be. If she were wearing her fur right now, her nose would be in your lap and she'd be looking at you with the most pitiful expression."
"I can still do that if I need to, Padma, but I needed to be able to talk to Daphne, and I'm not sure I can really speak 'dog' or that Daphne can understand 'dog'."
Harry put his elbows on the table and then cradled his head in his now supported hands while shaking his head.
"You don't need to transform into a dog if you don't want to, Lassie," Daphne said before their small group was joined by one other.
"Daphne, I just got a really strange letter from my dad," Tracey Davis said as she sat next to Harry and so across from Luna. "He says I can transfer to Salem with you, which is great news, but I hadn't even asked him if I could yet. And then he goes on to say how pleased he is with me for some reason."
Tracey then nodded at Luna and Harry before talking over Harry to Hermione. "Granger, it looks like I won't be able to work with you on that Runes project we were thinking about…"
Blessing Tracey's interruption, and knowing it was nowhere near as accidental as it looked, Daphne turn to her sister and spoke quietly while Tracey focused most of the attention of their visitors upon herself. "A'torie, this is very much what it will be like at Salem. According to Father, the number of Muggle-born, Muggle-raised, Half-bloods and even Pure-bloods that use a more informal address outnumber the witches and wizards with the family training like we have by a very large number."
"I think you'll enjoy it very much after you get more used to it," Luna added, speaking to Astoria across Daphne. "I know I didn't really like going with Daddy into Muggle areas for the same reasons at first, but once you learn the different rules you'll do just fine."
Pleased that Luna wasn't upset with her little sister, Daphne turned back to the blonde pet and asked, "What can you tell me about these dreams your master is having, Lassie?"
As Luna began explaining, a part of Daphne was very happy: first, Tracey was going to be able to go with her; second, she had finally been able to connect with Harry Potter, even if it was currently through his pet; third, if this group of students could help her and her sister become accustomed to an informal address in the few days before they left, they would have earned any help she could provide regarding the Witchdoctors.
This short story has been divided into 3 chapters, and I am planning to post all three chapters pretty quickly. Mostly since I started this as a one off, it just grew!
The plot of this bit of fiction came from an idea in the Caer Azkaban Yahoo Group, a long, long time ago. I saved it in a file with some other ideas and forgot about it until I found it again while cleaning stuff off of my hard drive.
Apparently it had fermented enough in that forgotten file that it was able to cause me to enter a drunken state where it could infect my dreams. This is the start of the result.
Here is a part of the actual text of the plot bunny
[Luna being a pet] Oddly, the purebloods consider this perfectly acceptable. A little strange and
old-fashioned, but quite legal, as it was Luna's free choice. The Patil twins
are rather flattered (and maybe a little shaken) that she trusted them so much,
of course, but are mostly disturbed that it was necessary (lets say that Padma
did at least try to stop the bullying when she learned of it, but it was to
little, to late), not that its legal. Luna's clothes now have Gryffindor's
colours, where the previously had Ravenclaw's.
You'll note that I'm not defining what Luna now is to Harry, whether his
concubine, slave, pet, very personal secretary, or some other such being. That
is intentional. Its up to the author.
After writing the scene where Harry wakes up to find a collie in his bed, I shared my fragment with my main sounding board she suggested the HP/Padma pairing, helped with several plot holes (although there are still several left I'm sure)
As with many of the thing's I've written or am writing, this is much longer than I expected, and I've noticed I tend to write adults that are responsible instead of pushovers.
Lassie in England: : / / en. wikipedia wiki/ Lassie
According to writer Nigel Clarke in the "Shipwreck Guide to Dorset and South Devon", the original Lassie who inspired so many films and television episodes was a rough-haired crossbreed who saved the life of a sailor during World War I.
Half collie, Lassie was owned by the landlord of the Pilot Boat, a pub in the port of Lyme Regis. On New Year's Day in 1915 the Royal Navy battleship "Formidable" was torpedoed by a German submarine off Start Point in South Devon, with the loss of more than 500 men. In a storm that followed the accident, a life raft containing bodies was blown along the coast to Lyme Regis. In helping to deal with the crisis, the local pub in Lyme Regis, called the Pilot Boat, offered its cellar as a mortuary.
When the bodies had been laid out on the stone floor, Lassie, a crossbred collie owned by the pub owner, found her way down amongst the bodies, and she began to lick the face of one of the victims, Able Seaman John Cowan. She stayed beside him for more than half an hour, nuzzling him and keeping him warm with her fur. To everyone's astonishment, Cowan eventually stirred. He was taken to hospital and went on to make a full recovery. He visited Lassie again when he returned to thank all who saved his life.
While I'm not totally sure, I would expect this story to be available to English school children, and so Harry would be exposed to the story of Lassie.